True Sonship in Christian Science
Dr. Silas J. Sawyer, C.S.D., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Silas J. Sawyer of Milwaukee, member of the board of lectureship in the Christian Science church and one of the most prominent Scientists in America, lectured to a large audience at the Salt Lake theatre. He was introduced by Rev. W. H. Fish, jr., pastor of the Unitarian church.
Mr. Sawyer's subject was "True Sonship in Christian Science." He said:
I come before you to state a simple fact concerning life and faith and experience in Christian Science. It is the "old, old story" — old, but ever new — but worthy of consideration, for all must live the life set before them, demonstrating out of its difficulties, rising superior to its falsities, and seeing the good there is in life, to gain any happiness out of it. It is a problem many of us do not squarely face, but seem to drift with the tide of human belief, letting the future take care of itself, and feeling very dissatisfied and unhappy about the present; finding no real comfort or satisfaction in life, suffering out its requirements rather than governing the situation and establishing ourselves as God's children, of the household of faith, and recognizing that God has given us dominion over the works of his hands, dominion over all untoward circumstances and conditions.
I assure you my friends, that in thus drifting we are not gaining our true relationship as God's children. The Scriptures plainly declare us his children. Christ Jesus came in the flesh and established forever the possibility of man's rising superior to seeming surroundings and false environments. He succumbed neither by affinity nor by infirmity to any physical law, nor to the personal sense of the people. He walked the whole wave of human belief. He stood in the full realization of "Father and I are one." He did nothing of himself, but "that which pleased the Father." He recognized his sonship in very truth. He lived, moved and had his being in the divine Mind.
Christ the Example
Jesus the Christ is our example. We take him as our guide to life; we endeavor to literally follow in his footsteps, overcoming sin, sickness and death through abiding in the Christ thought, which attaches sense to Soul and stands in its true relationship to God. And this is all the difference there is in our present faith and that of the past, wherein we were trained by a Christian mother along the lines of truly orthodox faith. We worshiped in willingness of heart, but not in truth, for we had a divided faith; we feared where we should have fully trusted; we doubted where we should have fully believed; we suffered where we should have risen superior to the claims of personal sense. We waded through the waves instead of walking over them as the Master did. We followed with a divided faith, because while we prayed fervently to be "like-minded," while we sought diligently, and with tears, to reach the "Horeb height," yet we put our own interpretation and limit on the possibility of attaining the good sought for. With hopes and fears, with doubts and griefs, with sickness and pain, with misery and death, as stern realities and necessities forever forcing themselves in our consciousness and causing us to doubt the very God whom we would trust, could we do otherwise than fail? Instead of living, moving and having our being in God, the body seemed to control the situation — liver complaint, headaches, heart disease, bowel trouble, functional qualities and conditions dominated over man, mind became subject to matter, and our service to God became a limited, divided service, instead of realizing in its verity and certainty that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein" — instead of realizing and acknowledging that God rules all things, and there is no power besides, we were unconsciously trespassing on God's prerogative by lack of a full acknowledgment of his allness; through fears and doubts we were taking the government out of his hands, breaking our sonship with him by entertaining beliefs deeply rooted, that life is physical, disease a reality, and death a certainty.
Meaning of Christian Science
The discovery of Christian Science by the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy was not of faith, but of the practicability of faith; not of life, but of the actual evidence of life; not of being, but of the outgoing reality of God's ever-presence with the world, which we all, as God's children, may take hold on and bring out as a tangible evidence of our true relationship to God.
Having been educated along the medical line of training, being by profession a dentist, and for several years a druggist, I am prepared to say, with a degree of authority, that Christian Science is more efficacious than medicine or any material means of relief. Having tried both methods, I rejoice to give my testimony on the side of the Christ method, rather than on the side of matter or medicine.
Isn't it rational and sensible for us to dare to trust the only power there is? God has made all that is made and pronounced it good, and there is nothing else beside. Are we presumptuous, venturesome and visionary to trust the God you all profess to trust? Is there any danger of trusting him too much? Is he God unless he is All-in-all, and there is nothing else beside? There are not two powers; either God be God, or he is no God.
We will quote from Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy's "Science and Health" her words:
"I have never supposed this century would witness the full fruitage of Christian Science, or that sin, disease, and death would not continue for centuries to come; but this I do aver, that, as a result of teaching Christian Science, ethics and temperance have received an impulse, health has been restored and longevity increased. If such are the present fruits, what may not the harvest be, when this Science is more generally understood?"
Strive to Go Upward
Browning has said that "whoever may discern true ends, shall grow pure enough to love them, brave enough to strive for them." Christian Scientists find this peculiarly their own experience. When they at first discern this more spiritual idea they feel their own unworthiness, and find it is only through self-renovation and self-abnegation that they have courage to strive for the light of such divine possibilities; but the love that is born of this new hope and the good they would attain unto, causes them to persist and stimulates them to strive against all odds to recognize the fullness of the revelation. It is growth into the kingdom: where loves rules, and only good is found, surely must "be good to be here," in touch with all the better qualities of the human mind, and in recognition of the divine allness and supremacy of good; to stand where we may bridge over the chasm of despair, of hate, of unrest, of sickness, sin and death for those who are still in the darkness of the belief of these as realities.
This is not only a religion of healing but as a reformatory measure nothing equals it. A few years ago I met a gentleman who was writing a work on how to handle the criminal classes of our large cities. He acknowledged many failures. He said he reached the larger number entirely through moral suasion; he personally made friends with them, gained their confidence and influenced them as best he could; but this necessitated much personal work and was too slow a method to reach the general good. I suggested: "Why not gain the thought for God, and leave the seemingly guilty one in His hands and under His guidance?" He acknowledged that would indeed reform the multitude, but "how would you do it?" We answer: "The same as in healing sickness; on the reverse plan realizing for that guilty one his sonship with God: and by knowing that the malice and hatred of mortal mind (the carnal mind) becomes its own taskmaster, we are free 'in the liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free,' free in the liberty Christian Science teaches of how to let go on personal sense testimonies and evidences and take firm hold on spiritual understanding which this falsity is misrepresenting."
"The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." "Science and Health" declares that some day we shall have our freedom, for, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." "Love and Truth make free, but evil and error lead into captivity." (Page 123.) "God has built a higher platform of human rights, and built it on divine claims. These claims are not made through code or creed, but in demonstration of peace on earth and good-will to man." (Page 122.) Have you ever thought what it would be to gain the liberty of the sons and daughters of God? Why, it would be to walk the whole wave of human belief: to demonstrate over all mortal, limited measurement of things, and to walk in the Principle of being this day on. It would be to lay aside all false beliefs, to enter consciously and intelligently into our true inheritance and relationship with God here and now, to say "Abba, Father." with as much trustfulness and certainty of help and protection as the little child feels when he says "Papa, papa" — to feel our security, to know our deliverance from false claims, and to abide in that security and knowledge. This alone is serving God in spirit and in truth; this alone is laying off the old man and his deeds and putting on the new. Why need we hesitate in so practical a trust and reliance on this Supreme Being which governs the world? Whether we yield Him homage or not, He governs our lives, and our small estimate of things to the contrary does not alter this great fact that God rules.
Must Trust God Fully
Why not realize that the sooner we gain a full recognition of God's supremacy the sooner we enter into our true relationship and gain our liberty as heirs of God — joint heirs with Christ, and welcome in the millennium? To catch glimpses of this eternal verity of things is possible, for Jesus lived in this apprehension, although surrounded by the same elements of the world as ourselves. He ever recognized God as the Author and Finisher of all created things; these things which to our benighted senses seem to possess the actual in and of themselves he knew to be but the evidence of that actual, unseen to the physical senses. He held himself aloof, while we, through false reasoning and belief, become entangled in the mystery of ungodliness rather than turning and seeing the fact behind the appearance, which it is our right and privilege to see and live in; thereby live, move and have our being in God, who created all things, instead of living in the things; thereby losing our God-given inheritance and dominion over them. Jesus' mission was to unclasp the hold of personal sense and unite the human thought with the divine, to give us our true inheritance as children of God.
It has been the early education of us all that eye sees, that ear hears, that nerves feel and that body is sentient matter; and now, to find in later years, through the revealed thought of Christian Science, that this false education has largely induced humanity's suffering is a powerful lesson to learn. Is it any wonder that we become enthusiasts in our eagerness and willingness to give God due homage of an entire service? After years and years of servitude to physical laws, after years of illness, employing all the means and methods within reach, a whole drug store of medicines and appliances at one's command, after resorting to operations, change of climate, diet, baths and travel, to find that it is the false estimate of life, the false belief of body, its functional qualities and organic conditions, to find, I say, that these false thoughts, and not body, are to be dealt with, and that by ruling out of mind this false sense the body will soon make manifest the better thought attained. We need a faith that takes hold on spiritual facts and brings them out as tangible evidence that human thought may realize the spiritual fact as forcibly as it today seems to realize things as physical.
Should Study Aim in Life
We need to study our motive and aim in life: we need to soberly consider life; it is not a mere accident that we exist; for what purpose am I here? What ability have I to develop and consecrate to God? All that I possess belongs to Him. Am I devoting it to Him? Am I fulfilling this mission and bringing out in my life all that God requires of me as an individualized identity of Himself? What is the underlying, governing impulse of my life? What am I thinking of when I am alone? These thoughts are the thoughts on which my whole life's usefulness depends; they develop and shadow forth themselves throughout all my life and work. Are these private, silent thoughts held as belonging to God, and as the foundation on which true character is built and all true living is shaped? These thoughts are our convictions, our true selves, and they mould and shape our lives for good or evil: they are more far-reaching and powerful than the outspoken word. These thoughts must be consecrated to God or our lives are not adjusted to the true balance. Jesus constantly asserted, "I and my Father one," "I always do the will of the Father;" thus Christian Science teaches us unity of thought in God, in Principle, is the foundation of all true living, and that God will accept no lesser service than an entire service; thus the spiritualization of thought, the unselfing of self, becomes an essential feature in Christian Science living.
What we give to the world depends entirely on this inner life; we are helping or hindering another according to our apprehension of the true light which lighteth every man. Is this thought which I hold when alone uplifting, pure and true, or am I "going over" past grievances, sorrows and trials, holding on to evil as a power? If we find when alone our thought enters into self-condemnation, or condemnation of another, we may be sure the balance is not adjusted on the Christ side of the question. Thus the mother, in Christian Science, has ever taught us to work from the Christ standpoint and always let the spiritual result be regarded. We aim to "die to error every day and climb one step the higher way."
A poetess of some note has most fitly said: "There are two kinds of people on earth today . . . lifters and leaners. . . . And wherever you go you will find the world's masses are always divided into just these two classes." Christian Science enables its followers to take their places as lifters, to ease the burdens, yes, to lift them entirely off our brothers' shoulders. It enables us to recognize God as the ruling power of earth as well as of heaven. It is the conviction of Christian Scientists that God can be trusted not only partially, but wholly, and they fear nothing but to dishonor Him by unbelief. It has entered the consciousness of thousands of vigorous, stirring, active business men of the large cities all over our land to adjust their lives and business on no other rule than this.
Christian Science teaches us we are radically saved if we radically believe, and the Bible assures us that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that ye may abound in hope.
[Delivered May 31, 1903, at the Salt Lake Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, and published in The Salt Lake Herald, June 1, 1903. This is the only copy of this or any lecture by Dr. Sawyer that has come to the attention of this site. He was a student of Mrs. Eddy's and more information on him may be found in the reminiscences entitled “Taking Class with Mary Baker Eddy” by Jennie E. Sawyer in We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Expanded Edition, Volume II, and in Robert Peel's biography Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial 1876-1891.]