Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
William D. McCrackan, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The study of Christianity and thus of Christian Science, properly, begins with the study of God. It will be readily acknowledged that much depends upon the answer to this question:
What is God?
It is only beginning to dawn upon mankind at large how much depends upon this answer. While it has, perhaps, been generally conceded that man's attainment of holiness has depended upon this answer, it has not always been recognized that his true happiness, also, depends upon the same answer, still less that his very health. mental, mortal and physical is affected favorably or adversely according as God is understood to be Spirit and Love, as the Scriptures declare Him. or supposed to be a God of wrath and variableness, as the human mind has only too often imagined Him.
We cannot afford to think falsely about God. He must be to us the infinite. all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present Father, from whom cometh every good gift, in whom we live, and move, and have our being.
That mankind at large is by no means agreed as to the nature of God is shown by the fact that some persons still consider Him to be the author and procurer of sickness, if not sin. In the minds of some people this loving Father, whose power is unbounded. and whose ways are infinite, is supposed to send sickness to His defenseless children in order to reform them: this majestic and glorious First Cause, having an unlimited choice in the matter of selecting methods for governing man, is believed to decide to do evil that good may come, when, unhindered and unchecked, He might do good directly.
Christian Scientists do not believe in a God of this kind. It does not seem reasonable or logical to them that the source of all good should send forth evil even as a subterfuge for doing good. Christian Science teaches us to know God as completely and wholly good, without variableness or shadow of turning. Christian Scientists do not believe that God deliberately afflicts His children, or that the evil in the world can be traced to Him. It is difficult to estimate the harm which has been done by the teaching and inculcation of false notions concerning the nature of God. A belief that God has attributes similar to those of mankind, that He can be revengeful, that He can distribute His blessings with favoritism, that He can be induced to advance one person at the expense of another, that He is limited in His capabilities and in His powers — all these beliefs must inevitably produce fear in mankind; fear of lack and want; fear of disease and death.
But he who knows that God is infinite, divine Love, that He is omnipotent, and not limited by human attributes at all, will have a serene sense of security in knowing that our Heavenly Father has already provided all that is necessary to supply our needs. Such an one knows that God is the infinite source of supply; that man has perpetual access to an over-flowing fountain, and no worry nor anxiety will obtrude itself upon his consciousness. He will recognize his supply to be as truly assured, day by day, as the little child who never doubts for an instant the capacity of his father and mother to supply all his needs.
The Works of Christ
There is another aspect of Christian teaching which Christian Science emphasizes with special insistence, and that is that Christ's promises and injunctions were meant for all men, for all time, and were not intended to be confined to a particular set of men known as his disciples and apostles, nor to a limited period of time, vaguely designated as the early Christian era. When Christ addressed to them his injunction to "preach the Gospel, heal the sick," we take this to have been addressed to Christians of the present day as well. And we feel that our view of the matter is proved correct by His promise: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do." (John 14:12).
If our Heavenly Father sent his son to redeem mankind, it is evident that the methods employed by Jesus must have been in accordance with God's laws; that they were legal, legitimate and normal. It cannot be supposed that Jesus worked contrary to the established laws of God, and, therefore, it must be right for his followers everywhere and always to strive to imitate these methods to the best of their ability. Christian Scientists consider it their duty, as well as privilege, to strive to heal the sick by spiritual means, as well as to reform the sinner. When the Gospel narratives are carefully read, it is astonishing to find how constantly Jesus was occupied in healing the sick. The reformation of the sinner and the restoration of the sick were accomplished by him through one and the same process. His teachings were not barren theories, but bore fruit in actual demonstration. He offered proof for everything that he stated, and Christian Science, based upon this understanding, is known by its blessed fruits.
The Healing of Disease
No science is worth anything which cannot be demonstrated. And this leads me to speak of that aspect of Christian Science which is, perhaps, most prominently before the public, namely, the healing of disease.
It is not likely that it this late day, there could be found anybody who has not at least heard of a case of physical healing through Christian Science. Most of you have doubtless known personally men and women who have been thus healed, and some of those present have experienced this great boon in their own persons.
There is no limit to the power of Truth. It asks not whether the case be acute or chronic, benign or malignant, and it is significant that many, if not most of the cases healed by Christian Science, are those which have been pronounced incurable by the physicians. The patients have come to Christian Science only as a last resort. In order to rescue mankind from the misery and chaos which such conditions invite, it is necessary to remember that God, the only Mind and divine Love, is the ruler and arbiter of the universe, including man.
Christian Science is establishing, by degrees, in the sight of all men, a logical, scientific and Christian method of overcoming evil in all its forms with the understanding of the omnipotence of good. But it is no mere optimism — no mere hope or expectation. It is the understanding of the law of God, and the recognition and realization of God as Spirit, and man as spiritual. Its Principle is God, and its motive is the mental, moral and physical regeneration of mankind. It recognizes material conditions as effect, not cause, and operates for a cure in the mental realm wherein reside the suggestions and predisposing of disease.
Nor is Christian Science mere stoicism. It does not involve submission to disease and the willingness to suffer from it. It does not teach nor preach apathetic indifference to suffering, but it calls for mental action to resist evil and overcome it with the mind which was also in Christ Jesus. Christian Science produces a mental attitude which is alert, agile and active, and this mental attitude is found to make men more capable and useful, whether their their occupations be in various departments of business life or in the professions and arts. On all sides a process is going on which magnifies good at the expense of evil, and this process is leavening the general human consciousness with its good news of health. holiness and happiness.
The Brotherhood of Man
Christian Science not only provides a way for reformation for the sinner and a cure for the sick, but it supplies a key which must eventually be applied to all social, political and economic reforms as well. It is destined to become the right hand of the reformer by proving to him that the way to help reform others is to learn to reform himself. Christian Science is establishing the understanding that what helps one helps all.
It may be that we sometimes forget to recognize how greatly we depend upon harmonious co-operation, even for our commonest needs. Imagine for a moment the diversity of activities involved even in a single one of the many industries. Take the simplest possible illustration — the producing of a loaf of bread. Consider what that means in the way of co-operation. There is tilling of the soil; the making of the plow; the gathering of the harvest; the milling of the wheat; the transportation of the wheat, with all the accessories that the word "transportation" implies in the way of rails, road-bed, cars, etc.; consider the bakery: and the supplying of the finished loaf, until it reaches the table of the consumer. There is represented to us, in so simple a matter as the production of a loaf of bread, a marvelous co-operation, most of which is unconscious on the part of the participants. It is not likely that the final consumer will ever meet the original tiller of the soil, or any of the vast number of producers who have contributed to placing that loaf on his table. Yet each, acting according to his understanding, has labored for the given end, and has thus proved that what helps one helps all.
In the mental realm, in Christian metaphysics, the same holds good. Unknown to one another, we help each other by laboring to keep our own thoughts clear, our hearts tender, our sympathies sweet. Without necessarily coming into personal contact, we thus contribute to create a better state of consciousness and a purer tone in public opinion and to express, in a measure, the brotherhood of man.
It is evident that before the brotherhood of man can be established in organization and the constructive work of society be placed upon that has basis, this brotherhood of man should be properly understood. Mind precedes matter. A mental concept must first be formed before a material action can take place.
Mrs. Eddy has stated, in her great work "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures" (p. 340): "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, love thy neighbor as thyself."
Since man is spiritual, the brotherhood of man must be a spiritual fact. Whatever material contrivances, societies, or co-operative plans mankind may formulate and establish to carry out the idea of the brotherhood of man, the kernel and essential fact of the situation is that this brotherhood of man is, in its nature, spiritual.
The Discoverer and Founder and Her Writings
It would not be just to you, my dear hearers, nor to myself, to adjourn this lecture without reference to the noble woman, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, through whom God has spoken so clearly and tenderly to this age. I need not say that all I have been able to tell you about Christian Science is derived from a study of the illumined works of this good woman.
It is a pretty mean man who objects to any message because it comes through a woman. A little review of the world's history will show that this is, primarily, the age when it is the privilege of woman, not only to guard the truth, but to utter it as well. Working her way up through successive conditions of supposed inferiority. woman stands today the acknowledged co-equal of man, and no man dare say her nay. In my opinion, it is natural and appropriate that a message of truth to this age should come through a woman. and no man who is familiar with the historical trend of the ages can fail to appreciate that this is of vital consequence to the human race.
The public should know the simple facts of Mrs. Eddy's history. That she was born in New Hampshire, of New England parents; that she was well educated in her youth. early displaying exceptional literary capabilities; that she was specially spiritually endowed, and that the whole trend of her life has been marked by a search for God and the desire to express Him, and Him only. As a result of this search she made her discovery of Christian Science, and since then her activity has been principally directed towards the promulgation and preservation of Christian Science. In the course of this labor she has written works which have illumined the Scriptures for a vast multitude of earnest men and women. She has emphasized the cardinal point in the history of primitive Christianity, namely, the spiritual healing, which, during successive centuries, was seemingly allowed to lapse and become obsolete. With great foresight and wisdom she has established agencies for the teaching and practice of Christian Science in order that this great gift to mankind might he preserved inviolate and the individual might "know God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent," and, through this knowing the great and noble brotherhood of men might be established for all time.
As a literary man I would like to offer my tribute of special appreciation of her epoch-making writings. Their originality is uncontested and the profound meaning which pervades them is deeply felt by all who approach them from a standpoint of sincere search. They are works to be read and re-read; but above all, they are not barren treatises, to be read and laid aside, but they contain a living and abiding message to be applied to everyday affairs. It is the experience of all that such application brings with it a clearer understanding of the Scriptures and an unfolding of their spiritual meaning. Above all Mrs. Eddy has, in her works, offered a new criterion for art, a new test by which all art should be measured, namely, its power to heal. If science be knowing, then art is application and demonstration. Those who have been healed by reading Mrs. Eddy's works — and their number constitutes a vast multitude — have been brought face to face with a new art, according to which, it is my firm conviction, mankind will, more and more, judge all art, and, in accordance with such judgment, will classify the works of men.
Consequently, Mrs. Eddy's works open up a vista of far-reaching consequence on this subject of art. I myself am not familiar with any books, except the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings, which show this characteristic of healing those who read them. In all the range of literature, whether in the department of technical writings, medical works or Belles Lettres, I know of no book which can perform so noble a service for mankind. Those who have studied Mrs. Eddy's writings, and have learned to apply their teachings, can understand that this effect is produced by the statements of truth which she has written down in them, and by the resulting destruction and dispersion of false beliefs inherent in the general human consciousness. For myself, it seems to me that all the arts are destined to feel this grand rejuvenating example and impulse; that they will be refined and purified thereby, and supplied with a new motive. Hereafter the test of a work of art will not only be whether it gives pleasure to the human senses, but whether it is in accordance with the eternal and indestructible truth of being — with the Science of Being, and the laws of God; and whether it corrects some false sense, destroys some evil tendency, or dispels some fault in the general human consciousness. From this standpoint, it is easy to see that a tremendous impulse towards reformative work in the arts has sprung into being through Mrs. Eddy's writings, and that as the full import of those writings dawns upon mankind, their effect is destined to make itself felt in all branches of human activity, from the loftiest enterprises to the simplest daily tasks.
A great multitude of intelligent and earnest men and women are bound to Mrs. Eddy by the indestructible bond of love and gratitude, both for what she is and what she has done, and is doing. They owe their health and happiness to her lofty life motive and her moral courage. In order to make them free she has been willing to pass through the shadows and mists of misrepresentation and prejudice which cluster around every new movement; she has marked the path through the dark forests and has come out upon the serene heights into the sunlight and the atmosphere of divine Love, which is impartial, universal and immortal.
Today she is prized as a great religious reformer, and her name is a household word in all parts of the world, while her words are treasured in a host of loving hearts.