Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
Carol Norton, C.S., of New York, New York
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Beloved Friends and Hearers: I have no new Gospel to present. You will find the truths that I elaborate recorded in the four gospels in the New Testament, and you will find the healing that I shall tell you about — healing which is being so universally wrought in this age — set forth in both the Old and New Testament; therefore, I shall call your sober attention to the practical excellence of the subject before us to-night.
The first and ultimate test of all religious teaching is the practical benefit that it brings to humanity, bound as it is to the enforced slavery of sin, materialism, physical suffering, human discord and death. Any interpretation of the teachings of Jesus that brings the practical import of his words and life nearer to the hearts of men, quickening their religious and spiritual sensibilities, binding up the broken-hearted, comforting the sorrowing, convincing the skeptic and materialist of the vital actualities of the higher life of Spirit, and healing the body of its heretofore incurable functional and organic maladies at once establishes itself as a friend of the race. Any such interpretation of the practical teachings of Christianity is destined to survive the shafts of ignorance, satire and blind opposition and prove itself by practical works.
The question is asked wherein does Christian Science prove itself a friend of the race beyond any form of Christian teaching now existing? One of the most eminent and scholarly clergymen in the Protestant Episcopal church has made the following statement in relation to Christian Science: "Christian Science has come to be the recognition of what Jesus Christ thought and did. What the limits of this potency in healing are it is not for me to say, but I believe that as the centuries roll on there will be miracles such as we have never seen. Christ saw that sickness was a consequence of sin, and the best way to cure it was to cure the sin. Thus we see that the healing of the body and the soul are not two things, but one. I cannot see but that the failures of medical science and the church are due to their failure to recognize this. From the philosophy suggested in the story of Christ the philosophy of our friends develops that philosophy is not material, but mental."
This statement represents in a fair and just way the honest deductions of many of our thinking Christian ministers and thinkers. What shall we say to these things? Our question is answered through Christian Science with facts instead of theories, with works as opposed to mysteries and mysticisms; with the reformation of the morally depraved and the healing of the hopelessly sick as opposed to the constant reiteration of that outgrown assertion that the age of what has falsely been called "miracles" is past. No less an authority than Matthew Arnold, of England, affirmed years ago in his work, "Literature and Dogma," that moral fault was closely allied to the origin of most diseases and that Jesus Christ carried on his healing works through the spiritual understanding of scientifically spiritual law that was not supernatural but divinely natural.
This is the center and circumference of the Christian Scientist's view in relation to the union in one system of the cure of sin and of disease. While the healing of the sick and the positive restoration of many hopeless sufferers bound by such disorders as consumption, cancer, kidney disease, blindness, deafness, bone and skin diseases, as well as all forms of mental and nervous deformity, goes on as it is now doing, these provable facts, open to the investigation of any medical expert or sincere inquirer, establish themselves. The adherents of this religion, who now number over 300,000 in the United States and Canada, can well afford to rest in the sober consciousness that their faith is proving itself by works, which at once take the system out of the realm of uncertainty and experiment and inaugurate the ways and means of the Christianity of the coming century.
In 1866 Christian Science had less than a score of followers. In 1897 it has over 300,000 avowed adherents, undoubtedly over 500,000 believers, and it is stated on good authority that over one million cases of hopeless disease have been healed by its methods of exact mental therapeutics in the last decade. In 1879 the movement possessed one organized church, founded by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. It is known as The First Church of Christ, Scientist, or The Mother Church of the denomination, and is situated in the Back bay district of Boston, Mass. The edifice of this church was erected in 1895 at a cost of over $220,000, and is a testimonial of love and gratitude to the Founder of Christian Science from the followers of the faith in all parts of the world.
At the present time from this small nucleus, there has grown a denominational life and an institutional body represented by over 300 church societies, principally in the United States and Canada. There was opened a few weeks ago in the city of London, England, the first Christian Science church of that city, and the first to be opened on the other side of the Atlantic, although Christian Science is now making definite progress in France, Italy, Norway, Germany and Sweden; also in Japan, Australia and some South American countries. The text book of the movement, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mrs. Eddy, is now in its one hundred and thirty-seventh edition of a thousand copies each. This book, with the other works of the same author, together with the Bible, constitutes the religious, scientific, philosophical and therapeutical literature of the movement. The body has its own publishing society, situated at 95 Falmouth street, Boston, Mass., through which it issues extensive publications, and the organ of the movement, The Christian Science Journal, an ably edited religious monthly, devoted to the ethical and physical welfare of the race.
Christian Scientists rely upon the practical good that the system accomplishes rather then upon religious speculation or dogma. The teachings of Christian Science are founded upon the Scripture, and while creed, dogma, form, literalism, ceremonial and mystery have no place in its teachings, a liberal and evangelical interpretation of the life and teachings of Christ bases the entire movement and the life of Christ constitutes the ideal of every loyal Christian Scientist.
The question is again asked, how does Christian Science effect the general trend of scientific discovery and research in this hour of radical development in what is known as the world of physical science? The basic statement of Christian Science is "all causation is Mind and every effect a mental phenomenon." "All is Mind, there is no matter." The present age in the world of physical science will go down in history as the era of evolution. The worldwide acceptance of this theory in relation to the phenomena of physical life in all its forms by the natural scientists was but the preface to a divine system of evolution discovered and promulgated over thirty-one years ago by Mary Baker Eddy.
Dr. Moncure D. Conway, of London, England, has recently stated in one of our American monthlies that a statement of evolution would yet have to be evolved that would adjust this system to the spiritual consciousness of man. Christian Scientists affirm with conviction born of actual proof that the spiritual statement of evolution exists in Christian Science, but that evolution is essentially the unfolding of divine Mind as the sole cause of all that is real in the universe, hence Christian Science rejects the theory of material atomic origin and life, and teaches without reservation that matter never evolves Mind, nor Spirit, alias God, its opposite, a decaying universe subject to pestilence, discord and human woe.
A few years ago this basic idea of Christian Science that Mind is real and matter but a subjective state of human intelligence found no friends outside of the ranks of Christian Scientists. In many instances Christian Scientists have been for years dissolving tumors, removing all forms of obstruction in the functions of the body, performing such remarkable cures as the dissolving of calculus or chalk deposits in the joints, through purely mental methods, without the aid of surgery or drugs; hence, their radical acceptance of this almost revolutionary idea was based upon facts instead of fancy. The following utterances of well-known natural scientists of this hour will prove to even the skeptical that this idea is no longer considered unscientific or hopelessly unique. Says Prof. James T. Bixby, Ph.D.:
"We can mentally think away everything that is an object of sensation. If eye and ear are too coarse to discern the finer manifestations of matter, why should Spirit be obliged to certify itself to them or be dismissed as non-existent? Everything visible we know is transient; if there be anything permanent, it must be in the invisible sphere."
Prof. Wilhelm Oswald, of the University of Leipsic, Germany, writes thus of matter: "Matter is a thing of thought which we have constructed for ourselves rather imperfectly to represent what is permanent in the change of phenomenon."
Grant Allen, the well-known author, in the course of an article on the late Prof. Tyndall, thus speaks of matter: "The charge of materialism could only be brought against such a man by those abject materialists who have never had a glimpse of the profounder fact that the universe as known to us consists wholly of Mind, and that matter is a doubtful and uncertain inference of the human intelligence." Says Prof. Clifford: "Every molecule of matter possesses a piece of mind stuff," and Prof. Haeckel asserts that all bodies are equally animated; "wherever there is corporeal matter there is mental power. This idea that matter is a thing of thought, an externalization of the human mind, and not an entity or element having independent life apart from thought or mentality, is gaining ground very rapidly in the world of thinkers."
Perhaps the most conspicuous question that interests the public is that relating to the cure of physical disease. It would seem sometimes that the nearer modern Christians live to the ideal of all that constitutes true discipleship, portrayed in the gospels, the greater is the criticism that they receive from their fellows, who have apparently lost sight of the fact that the same commission that is used to give authority for the entire Christian ministry, that utterance of Jesus, "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel," was also allied to an equally important command in the same sentence, "Heal the sick."
Christian Scientists recognize with sober earnestness and regard the philanthropic and humanitarian effort of all honest physicians, surgeons and trained nurses, yea, the earnest motives of all engaged in the alleviation of human suffering, but does this in any wise alter the fact that our hospitals and sanitariums are filled with thousands upon thousands of cases of hopeless and incurable diseases? Did Jesus and the early Christian church, which retained the power of healing without drugs for over 300 years, and then lost it because the church substituted pomp, ceremony and materialism for Christ, depend upon human authority and law for the divine right of operating upon the sick and depraved through spiritual ways and means?
An eminent physician of the Pacific coast, Dr. A. A. Sulcer, writes upon this point in a recent issue of the San Francisco Call as follows:
"Healing in the primitive church is misinterpreted by the material world to-day as it was misinterpreted in the time of the apostles. Instead of its being through the agency of a power supernaturally bestowed, it was through the understanding or an obviously natural principle which Jesus taught and demonstrated, a 'moral law of the universe' which 'cannot be changed or annulled.'
"Through an understanding of that principle it is being demonstrated every day that the power of healing has 'come down to us.' The 'gift of healing' was lost, but not because it was specially granted for a special epoch and then denied to those of later times, but because the power of the ministry — the Christ power — was lost. Restore the one and the other is restored; they cannot be separated. Neither can that power be denied without limiting one of the divinely given essential tests not merely of the discipleship, but of 'them that believe.' It proved the truth and divinity of the message then and it proves the divinity of the message now."
The membership of the Christian Science churches is made up of thinking people, authors, physicians, surgeons, lawyers, teachers, musicians, business men and philanthropists. It grows because the world needs it. Perhaps the best cure for a skeptical mind, and perchance the best way that could be taken to remove opposition to Christian Science, based on either a medical or philosophical objection, would be to attend one of the Friday evening testimonial meetings, which are held by all the churches of this denomination in all parts of the world, as a rule on that evening of the week.
Any fair observer can attend these meetings and hear of the practical work of Christian Science Mind-healing as it manifests itself in the cure of all forms of physical disease, organic as well as functional, and perhaps, above all else, would be impressed with the power of Christian Science in the reformation of moral depravity and its capabilities of evolving the highest type of manhood and womanhood. Let it be remembered that Christian Science treatment is invariably sought as a last resort, therefore its percentage of healing is amazingly large, and the impartial critic will admit through honesty that as a system of mental therapeutics it is undoubtedly subjected to the severest test of any curative agency of the age.
Picture a physician depending for his practice upon the incurable list of all his fellow physicians. This is not an exaggerated illustration of the experience of most Christian Scientists, and this makes their healing all the more remarkable.
Finally, Christian Science stands for good government in all the affairs of men. It stands for a loftier citizenship, for pure manhood and pure womanhood, for all that makes for righteousness; it tends toward individual freedom of thought and liberality, a purified business world, a new journalism that will beget health rather than disease and uplift rather than promulgate forms of depravity by presenting to receptive minds the thought germs of crime, disease and evil. It intensifies the claims of temperance and goodness upon every individual, and is entering the religious, scientific and medical thought of the hour with unquestionable force and salutary effect. The most pertinent question that can be asked about Christian Science is, why does it grow? The answer, because it heals the sick when everything else fails, reforms the wicked, comforts the sorrowing, reveals the spiritual import of the Scriptures, and makes the idea of one God and the brotherhood of man, with the rich heritage of individual immortality, scientific fact rather than a vague dream. It is first, last and always a religion of love, noble, lofty, democratic, impartial, impersonal, demonstrable.