Gavin W. Allan, C.S.B., of Toronto, Canada
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Gavin W. Allan, C.S.B., of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture entitled, "Jesus, Our Exemplar," last evening under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the church edifice, Falmouth, Norway and St. Paul Streets.
The lecturer was introduced by Miss Florence S. Middaugh, Second Reader in The Mother Church, who said:
The Mother Church is always glad to open its doors for a Christian Science lecture, and it bids you welcome here this evening.
A lecture on Christian Science is a joyous occasion, for many carry away with them an awakened desire to know more about God, and they receive a mental stimulus which causes them to reach out after more of the good that is ready and waiting for them.
Jesus was the great teacher of spiritual truths who taught his followers to think scientifically, and Christian Science likewise teaches that to find God, one must understand and know Him.
Mankind is in great need today of finding the truth about God and man. In our textbook "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, we read, "Jesus was 'the way;' that is, he marked the way for all men" (46:25).
What is more natural then, than turning to him for guidance and instruction in spiritual truths! And it is right and necessary that we should seek to know the facts concerning the Science of Life.
Mrs. Eddy also says in Science and Health, "Millions of unprejudiced minds — simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert — are waiting and watching for rest and drink" (570:14-16). That this living water may be brought within their reach, Mrs. Eddy founded The Christian Science Board of Lectureship of this Church, of which the speaker this evening is a member. He will tell us more about the great Way-shower. The subject of his lecture is, "Jesus, Our Exemplar."
Mr. Allan spoke substantially as follows:
If we would understand Christianity, — its Principle and its practice, — we must begin by understanding, its Founder, "the man Christ Jesus," because he and he alone has been its perfect exponent, its perfect demonstrator. If we examine the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels we cannot fail to note some of his outstanding characteristics. Let us consider a few of his traits which have not been sufficiently stressed.
First, his selflessness. During the years of his ministry he seemed to have no ambition for place or power, no desire for superiority or preferment. It is true that just before he entered upon his ministry he passed through a great struggle in overcoming the false sense of self: the desire for fame and dominion strove to assert itself. But it is also true that this desire was completely routed, and that never again did it become apparent in his life.
Jesus' selflessness was manifested in service. He gave himself to others. He said, "I am among you as he that serveth." That was his life-work, serving God by serving his fellowmen. Was it Jesus' desire that his followers should serve their fellows in the same way that he did, that is, in the same spirit? Did he commend a life of service as a practical ideal? Let us see. You will remember that on one occasion Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but . . . whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." In Jesus' estimation, then, the willingness and ability to serve ranked higher than the desire to be served. Service ranked higher than dictatorship; selflessness than selfishness.
Christ Jesus is our Exemplar, our ideal model. We as Christian Scientists are his followers. The ideals he presented, the qualities of mind he manifested, we must strive to emulate. Recognizing this, the Founder of the Christian Science movement, Mary Baker Eddy, in her "Advice to Students" wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 303), "Let us serve instead of rule, knock instead of push at the door of human hearts, and allow to each and every one the same rights and privileges that we claim for ourselves."
But we were speaking of selflessness. Let us hear Mrs. Eddy again, this time somewhat more emphatically. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she writes (p. 568), "Self-abnegation, by which we lay down all for Truth, or Christ, in our warfare against error, is a rule in Christian Science." Why should this be so? Because selflessness is an essential quality of spiritual man. Because self-fulness, if we may use such a term, or the belief in a selfhood apart from God, is not a quality of the real man and never did belong to him. God made man in His, God's, image to express God. If man is the expression of God he cannot manifest a selfhood apart from God. You understand, of course, that when we speak of man as God's likeness we do not mean that mortals are God's likeness. Far from it. You and the material body which you may sometimes think of as yourself are two entirely different things. Physiologists tell us that our physical bodies are completely changed or renewed every few years. You may have had five or ten entirely different bodies, but no one of those bodies which you have left behind was you. Your true selfhood, the man of God's creating, is a mental, a spiritual being, the expression of God.
In order that we may the better understand the relationship existing between man and God, let me use an illustration. Take for example the sun and its rays. Each ray is supplied by the sun with its — the sun's — own qualities. A single ray does not express the sun completely, but it does express the qualities of the sun. The ray has not a single quality of its own, that is, it has not a single quality that is not derived from the sun. Having no quality of its own it has no selfhood apart from the sun.
Now to make use of the illustration. God expresses Himself through spiritual man. Man as God's expression is supplied moment by moment by God with God's reflected qualities, wisdom, intelligence, health, strength, etc. Individual man does not reflect God fully or completely, but he does reflect all the qualities of God. Man, then, has not a single quality of his own, has not a single quality underived from God; therefore for him to have a selfhood apart from God would be metaphysically impossible.
There is another way to look at this subject. According to Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 471), "man is, and forever has been, God's reflection." A reflection calls attention to its original. Your image in a mirror expresses only your color, your figure, your action. It possesses no corporeality of its own, no thickness, no action. It cannot act of itself. It cannot be of itself. It has no existence apart from you. Now since man is God's likeness, as we are told in Genesis, you see how impossible it would be for man to have any action, any existence, any selfhood apart from God.
Christian Science is showing us that this is what is true about man. Such temptations, then, as self-pity, self-justification, self-righteousness, self-condemnation, and selfishness are based upon a false sense of self. Jesus, our Exemplar, who "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," overcame this false sense of self completely. As his followers we are striving to do the same. How shall we succeed? First, by learning what man, God's likeness, is — by learning the truth about man — then by putting it into practice in our every thought of ourselves or our fellows.
In this warfare with the false sense of self, Mrs. Eddy has given us this inspiring message (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118), "Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, — and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory."
Jesus was about his Father's business. He claimed no mind apart from God. He said, "I can of mine own self do nothing," and, "The Father . . . doeth the works." That is true humility. True humility is shown in the deliberate recognition of God as the source of all intelligence and power. Probably few qualities are so generally misunderstood as humility and meekness. Many people think these terms mean "being tamely submissive," "spiritless," or "easily imposed upon." This is due, of course, to a misunderstanding of what humility really is. Humility is not self-depreciation, rather is it true self-evaluation. It is not a weak, but a strong quality. Moses had it, and he was not weak. Jesus possessed it, and he was not weak. No, Jesus was a strong man in every way; he was strong physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually, and he possessed in abundant measure this strong quality, humility.
Jesus did not depreciate himself, rather did he rightly estimate his worth. He knew that his coming was the central fact of history, and that his words would not pass away, that is, the truths he stated would live forever, not because he presented them, but because they were true, therefore undying and winged with power. Isaiah expressed a similar confidence in the power and immortality of the Word, a power entirely independent of the person who uttered it. Speaking of the Word he said, "It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Such confidence had he in the power of the Word declared.
It might be well for those of us who are Christian Scientists to ask ourselves, How much confidence have I in the power of the Word of God? How much confidence have I in a Christian Science treatment? Let us see. Let us suppose that before you knew anything about Christian Science you had heard that your neighbor had mistakenly taken a spoonful of poison. What would likely have been your first thought? Would it have been, He must be ill? Would it have been, Poison acts quickly?
Now, suppose you hear tomorrow that your neighbor has had a Christian Science treatment. What will likely be your first thought as a Christian Scientist? Will it be, He must be better, he must be well? Will it be, "The word of God is quick, and powerful"? If not, why not? It was Jesus' faith in Truth which prompted him to say, "My words shall not pass away," and Mrs. Eddy commenting on this passage has added (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 111), "And Jesus' faith in Truth must not exceed that of Christian Scientists who prove its power to be immortal."
This attitude of Jesus was quite in keeping with humility — the recognition of God as the only source of intelligence and power. Here is another statement of his, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." Jesus attributed all power to God. Since humility was an outstanding quality of our Master, should it be, can it be disregarded by any of his followers?
But let us apply this to ourselves and to the present moment. Mrs. Eddy, who knew better than anyone else the qualifications of the Christian Scientist, has written (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 354), "Humility is the first step in Christian Science." If humility is the first step, might it not be well for each of us to inquire, Have I taken this step? Let us not judge our neighbor in this. Let us answer the question for ourselves. Do I take credit to myself, or do I naturally and whole-heartedly ascribe to God the honor for any good I have been instrumental in accomplishing? Am I alert to think regarding any good I may have accomplished, I have of myself done nothing, the Father has done it all? If so, we are manifesting a natural phase of true humanhood.
Another characteristic of Jesus was his habit of seeing and appreciating the good in his fellowmen. He saw more good in men than they suspected themselves. As he passed through Capernaum he saw a tax-gatherer in his office. Those about him saw in this man a traitor to every standard of patriotism, a man living on his countrymen. Jesus saw more and invited the man to be one of his company. Something in the man awoke, "and he left all, rose up, and followed him," and there stepped forth Matthew, the disciple.
The self-righteous scribes and Pharisees dragged a woman soiled with degrading sin and set her before Jesus for judgment. Their intention was to lead Jesus into a trap in order that they might have a charge against him. Jesus saw what they saw, but he saw more and said to the woman, "Go, and sin no more." And she looked up to see in him a faith in her possible purity, and forthwith began to be the woman he saw.
Luke tells us that as Jesus reclined at dinner in a Pharisee's house a woman who was a sinner came behind him and anointed his feet. In the chapter of her stormy and shameful life probably Jesus had been the only one who had given her a desire for a better life. In him she had seen what life really could be, and the wholesome longing may have come to her that she might be like him. His host saw that she was a sinner. Jesus saw further. He saw a woman not yet spoiled beyond hope, as the world might have looked upon her, and when he saw this she began to see it too, and forthwith began to be that good woman.
There are in a very real sense beautiful qualities latent in the life of every man. Only a vision like that of Jesus can perceive them. Only a love like that of Jesus can awaken them, and we too as his followers are here "not to condemn" but "to seek and to save."
It is largely true that we see what we are equipped by education and experience to see. For example, you send three men, an artist, a botanist, and a lumberman to examine a certain oak tree and bring you a report. The artist comes back with a report on the beauty of the tree; the botanist with its botanical name, Quercus alba, White Oak; the lumberman, 300 feet. He saw lumber. All went to view the same thing. In a way all saw the same thing. Yet it must be said all saw differently, each seeing most clearly what he was equipped by education and experience to see.
The photograph one takes depends upon where he places his camera. So one's impression of men will depend upon the standpoint from which he views them, or what he really knows about man. Jesus saw men from the viewpoint of a complete understanding of what man is. He saw more clearly than anyone else has ever seen the good in man. He knew that the real man is ever the perfect expression of his perfect Father, God. He proved this times without number. Had Jesus not known that God alone governs man, could he have instantaneously healed a person who had been for years unable to walk? Had Jesus not known that sight is a quality of Mind which the real man ever possesses, could he have instantaneously healed the man who was "born blind"? Had he not known that health is a quality of Mind which man cannot lose, could he have proved on many occasions and to multitudes of sick folk that they were well? Had Jesus not known that man's life is deathless because God is man's Life, could he have proved instantaneously to Lazarus that though he had lain in the grave four days he was in reality alive and well?
Where others saw a human being whose normal movements were hampered by distorted limbs, Jesus saw man expressing God's harmonious government. He must have known that, as Mrs. Eddy has expressed it (Science and Health, p. 283), "Mind is the source of all movement, and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action." Where others saw their fellowmen ill "with divers diseases and torments" Jesus saw — what? Let me answer this question with a sentence from the Christian Science textbook. No other statement I know of presents, so concisely and so completely Jesus' view of man and its direct and inevitable result. This is it: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness; and this correct view of man healed the sick" (Science and Health, pp. 476, 477).
Do you ask how it came about that Mrs. Eddy understood so well the background and method of Jesus' marvelous works? Because she had devoted years to the study and practice of them. First she was remarkably healed of an injury caused by an accident, and pronounced fatal by the physicians. This healing came about while she was pondering Matthew's account of a healing by Jesus. But to be healed herself was not enough. She must know the Science of this healing in order that others might be healed. For three years, Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 109), she "sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule." She discovered the long-lost Science of healing, and submitted it to the broadest practical tests in the healing of disease of every kind for nine years before writing the Christian Science textbook. Indeed so completely did Mrs. Eddy understand the truth upon which Jesus' healings were based, and so clearly has she presented those truths about God and man in the Christian Science textbook, that men and women are now being healed daily simply through the study of this book.
Another outstanding characteristic of Jesus was his readiness to forgive. The old law had said, "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." This was the law of retaliation, but Jesus presented what was looked upon as a moral innovation. He said, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Even his disciples were amazed at such a doctrine. Some time later Peter came to Jesus with a question. He wanted to know whether there was to be any limit to this new rule. So he asked Jesus, "How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" Peter had come to the place where he thought it might be possible to do it a few times. But Jesus' reply was, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." There was to be no limit.
Many today congratulate themselves that they are living in a very practical age, an age of efficiency, an age when lost motion is reduced to a minimum. Suppose we ask them a question: How efficient has been the method of retaliation in overcoming wrong? It has been employed for thousands of years by individuals, tribes and nations in their attempt to adjust wrongs, and is still in use. Do you know of a single instance in which an offense has been overcome by that method? Not one. There is but one method by which the trouble can be wiped out. There is only one successful way to deal with it. The way Jesus pointed out: forgiveness. Aleyn the poet puts it this way:
The fine and noble way to kill a foe
Is not to kill him; you with kindness may
So change him, that he shall cease to be so;
Then he is slain.
The reason forgiveness is so successful in overcoming wrong is that it wins the wrongdoer. It appeals to the good in him and awakens it and thus gets at the very root of the difficulty.
Unfortunately one's forgiveness of another is still regarded by many as a giving in to wrong; as a manifestation of weakness. If any of you are of that opinion I should advise you to put it to the test. The next time an offense is committed against you, try forgiveness. See if you are strong enough to do it. You may find that it may take all the strength of character, yes, and all the godliness you can summon to really forgive. Of this I can assure you, you will never again think of forgiveness as a phase of weakness.
Forgiveness as understood in Christian Science is based upon the scientific fact that evil is not of God, is not a quality of His likeness, man, is not real. It is therefore possible for us to love the person while we condemn the evil he may have committed, and our love for him appealing to and awakening the good in him may bring about repentance and reform, the obliteration of the evil. Punishment might not do it. Promises of reward might not do it. Evil sometimes claims to have more power over men than either fear of punishment or hope of reward. But it cannot withstand forgiving love. That is the one weapon with which we can make sure headway against even intentional offenses. That was Jesus' way. His life-history from the day of his first talk with his disciples until the day of his crucifixion was one forgiveness after another. He tested its efficacy. It never failed.
In our own day our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, used the same method. Thirty-eight years after her discovery of Christian Science, years during which she had been compelled to meet over and over again deliberate attempts to harm her, she wrote (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19), "Brethren, even as Jesus forgave, forgive thou. I say it with joy, — no person can commit an offense against me that I cannot forgive."
Only one who had experienced victory after victory over evil; only one who had tested and proved the strength of the weapon of forgiveness; only one who was strong in "the strength which God supplies," and had proved it, could make a statement of that kind.
According to Webster's New International Dictionary the principal definitions of the word "forgive" are: 1. "To give up resentment or claim to requital on account of an offense or wrong." 2. "To cease to feel resentment against, on account of wrong committed." According to these definitions your forgiveness of another would mean a giving up of resentment on your part; obtaining a victory over resentment through love. Both definitions seem to imply a struggle within one's own mentality between love and resentment, love being the victor.
Such victories will come more readily as one grows in his understanding of the truth of being; as he understands more fully the omnipresence of good and the consequent unreality of evil. This understanding will enable him to prove that no attempt to harm him can stir him to resentment. But were his understanding of God's omnipresence and evil's unreality still more complete, do not you think that it might help also the one who attempted to harm him? Might it not heal him of the desire to harm his brother man?
This brings us to the consideration of a phase of forgiveness into which the overcoming of resentment does not seem to enter. You will remember an account in the New Testament of the healing of a "man which was taken with a palsy." Luke tells us when Jesus "saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." Is it not as though Jesus had said or clearly realized, The phase of evil which has claimed to control you is utterly powerless. It has no dominion over you whatever, for God, good, alone governs man? In other words, Jesus' understanding that neither sin nor disease could be any part of the real selfhood of the one who appeared before him set the man free.
Forgiveness as understood in Christian Science is based upon "the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal" (Science and Health, p. 497). Forgiveness in this higher sense does not mean overlooking error, or simply annulling its effect, but means correcting error, destroying it, wiping it out.
Let us use a very simple illustration. In mathematics there is a principle which governs computation. This principle is present, is available, and is unchangeable regardless of locality. Were you to make an error in computation you would not think of trying to get out of the difficulty by beseeching this principle to overlook or pardon your mistake. You would know that the only way in which you could be really freed from it would be through your gaining the necessary understanding of what is true about that particular phase of mathematics. When through that understanding the error had been corrected, had been destroyed, there would remain nothing of it to be pardoned.
Now to make use of the illustration. Through Christian Science you may learn that God is the divine Principle of the universe, including man; that God, divine Principle, is everywhere present, everywhere available, unalterable divine Love; that man in God's likeness is a perfect spiritual being and is governed by God alone; that evil has neither place in nor power over God or His creation, man. Now let us suppose that you believe you are subject to some form of evil; guilty of some wrong. Would you try to get out of the difficulty by beseeching God, divine Principle, to overlook the error? Is not your need that it be corrected, that it be destroyed? Is not the error wholly mental? Is it not rooted in some false belief? Is not, then, your real need knowledge? Is not your need to know more of the truth about God and man as it has been revealed by our Master, and through the Science of Christianity? Will not a knowledge of Truth dispel a belief in error? Then when the error has been corrected, has been destroyed, there will remain nothing of it to be pardoned.
When the sick or the sinning came to Jesus for healing, his understanding of the truth healed them. He healed sin as he healed sickness. The word forgiveness, then, in connection with the healing of sin, can have but one meaning: sin's destruction.
As followers of Christ Jesus should it not be our endeavor to forgive as he forgave; to destroy evil as he destroyed it? In order to do this we must learn to separate completely the belief of evil from our thought of man. How can we equip ourselves to do this? Through the study and practice of the teachings of two divinely inspired works, the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy.
Another characteristic of Jesus was his fearlessness. In this he exceeded all other men of his time. The Gospels inform us that Herod feared John the Baptist, the priests feared the people, the scribes and Pharisees feared the multitude, Pilate feared Caesar, Jesus' friends were fearful on more than one occasion, and lastly, the disciples were so fearful that they deserted in the crucial hour the one they most dearly loved. Among them all Jesus alone was unafraid.
Quite early in his ministry he became aware that the truths he was teaching were so obnoxious to those in authority that sometime they would cease to tolerate him. Yet he continued to teach. He knew that his attitude toward man ran counter to the traditions and prejudices of nationality, race, caste, and creed, yet he continued to deal with men as individuals and upon the basis of their needs. He foresaw that his practice of the truth about God and man would result in his betrayal and crucifixion, yet he did not cease his healing works. He knew that he was surrounded by enemies, that he was, to use his own expression, as a "sheep in the midst of wolves." Yet he was unafraid.
He detected fear in the minds of others. He recognized what they were fearing. But he saw further and perceived the unreality and powerlessness of fear in the same situation. He encouraged his disciples to "Be not afraid," to "Fear not," and on one occasion he rebuked them with, "Why are ye fearful?" If Jesus could be unafraid in a situation which everyone else feared, there is but one satisfactory explanation, and that is that he knew more, that he understood the situation more completely, that he saw what they did not see; and his rebuking others for being afraid indicates that he believed it possible for them to see what he saw and to understand what he understood.
Why was Jesus unafraid? Because of the completeness of his understanding of God, his understanding of man, and his understanding of the relation which ever exists between God and man. Fear and understanding cannot dwell together. Jesus knew God as the divine Principle of the universe. He had proved his understanding of Principle. He had proved over and over again God's ability and willingness to meet the needs of His children whether the need be the supply of food, the restoration of health, the protection from disaster or even resurrection from the grave. Jesus did not merely believe in God. He knew God to be man's perfect Principle, and was able to prove this. He was a scientific Christian.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in her endeavor to follow the teachings and practice of Christ Jesus encountered much the same kind of opposition. Is it not strange that the reformer, one who selflessly devotes his life to finding the way and leading his people out of bondage, should be misrepresented and abused? Was it because Mrs. Eddy failed on any occasion to heal the sick or the sinning that she was denounced? No, not in a single instance. Did her instantaneous healings of admittedly incurable disease seem to be the occasion for jealousy and hatred to strike at her? It would seem so, strangely enough. Did her proclamation of a new and truer view of God arouse the enmity of her fellow men? Not especially. It is conceivable that if Mrs. Eddy had confined her activities to speaking, she might have announced her discovery of the truth about God without its stirring the people to enmity against her. But when she put into practice what she had learned about God; when that true view of God was translated into an altogether new attitude toward man, an attitude which differed fundamentally from the universally accepted views of man; when that true view of man was not only proclaimed but proved to be efficacious in the healing of the sick, in the comforting of the sorrowful, and in the reformation of the sinner; when the carnal mind detected that its powerlessness, its nothingness, had been disclosed, it rose in all its pretense to might to destroy its destroyer and aimed its weapon at the Discoverer of Christian Science. Yet she daily continued to teach and practice the truth she discovered.
Writing of her longing to help humanity, the inescapable conflict, and the sure reward, Mrs. Eddy has said (Science and Health, p. 226), "The lame, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery of their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharaohs, who to-day, as of yore, hold the children of Israel in bondage. I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged." She foresaw the conflict but she pressed on. She too was unafraid.
Through revelation, reason, and demonstration she acquired an understanding of the truth about God and man. This understanding of the divine Mind, of God and His laws, enabled her to detect the counterfeit operations of the human mentality and its accepted beliefs of cause and effect. She saw that sickness of every kind is based on fear. Not only was she able to discern that fear is the cause of sickness, but she was able to point out definitely the basis of its destruction, as in this passage from our textbook (Science and Health, p. 412), "The great fact that God lovingly governs all, never punishing aught but sin, is your standpoint, from which to advance and destroy the human fear of sickness."
Many are able to testify today that through Christian Science they have been able to understand more fully than before God's ability and willingness to meet their needs whatever these may be, and therefore are able to recognize and reject the arguments of fear in their inception, and thus avail themselves of the divine protection which is naturally and justly theirs.
Speaking of the Christian Scientist, Mrs. Eddy has said (Science and Health, p. 450), "Sickness to him is no less a temptation than is sin." Have you ever looked upon sickness in its inception as a temptation? Have you ever thought of it as an argument, a demand, a whispered suggestion? If you think of it in that way perhaps you will feel better able to cope with it. Let me illustrate. Let us compare the temptation to be sick with the temptation to steal. Suppose that you were shown into a room alone in someone else's house and there was some money lying on the table. I shall not say it is probable, but it may be possible under some circumstances, that a suggestion might come to you saying, Take it. What would you do? If you were striving to follow the teachings of Jesus, our Exemplar, would you not answer it with a definite, No, I will not? and perhaps support that answer with some such statement as this if you are a Christian Scientist, I am governed by Principle, dishonesty has no attraction for me. I am honest. I will have nothing to do with it. Suppose the argument returns, saying, There's nobody looking. Will you not stand your ground and just as definitely and decidedly say, No? Suppose it comes again saying, No one would know anything about it. Would you not be even more emphatic, if possible, in its rejection? If you did so do you not think that you would be strengthened and the temptation be weakened each time you met it with a decisive denial?
Now let us suppose that you wake some morning and something seems to whisper, You are ill. How are you going to deal with this suggestion? Are you going to meet it with a vigorous, No, and if necessary support that denial with an affirmation of your immunity from any such thing because you know that you are under God's loving care and protection? Or are you going to examine your body, that is, think about it all over to find out how it feels? Suppose the argument returns, saying, You remember you got wet yesterday. Are you not going to deny emphatically the suggestion that a little water can disturb the harmony of man? Will you not mentally insist that man is under God's government and that His government is harmonious? Thus doing you will reject and refute the arguments, the suggestions, the demands, the temptations to accept as yours something that never did, does not now, and never will belong to you.
The suggestion to steal does not come from the money, neither does the temptation to be sick come from the body. In either case the temptation is mental, and must be met mentally and from this Christianly scientific basis, that God, good, alone governs man.
Looking at sickness in this way, and this is a proper way to look upon it, helps to dispel the fear of it, and helps us to see that it is entirely within our God-given power to refuse it admittance to our mental house.
Through Christian Science we may gain an increasing understanding of God, of His nearness, of His ability and willingness to meet our needs, and thus in ever increasing measure dispel fear from our lives. Our Master led and showed us the way. By parable after parable, illustration after illustration, proof after proof, he endeavored to show us that God is Love alone; that His love completely surrounds, completely enfolds us, and therefore there is no occasion for fear.
Our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, followed closely in the footsteps of the great Exemplar. So clearly did she perceive the unreality of fear that she was able to write in "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 61), "Science saith to fear, 'You are the cause of all sickness; but you are a self-constituted falsity, — you are darkness, nothingness. . . . You do not exist, and have no right to exist, for "perfect Love casteth out fear."'"
According to Christian Science, then, these are the facts: that the man of God's creating is unafraid, and that you yourself are no other than this man.
Another characteristic of Jesus was happiness. It is possible that this statement may surprise some of you. Can it be possible, you say, that Jesus was a happy man? Did he not encounter opposition, rejection, and persecution such as no one else has ever experienced? Yes, that is true, and because of these he has been called the "Man of Sorrows." But do you really believe that title fittingly described his character, or habit of mind? True, he endured ingratitude and persecution unspeakable. But did he not win a spiritual victory over them in every instance? He was always victorious. He lived habitually in the sunshine of his sureness of God. He said that he abode in his Father's love, that he desired that his joy might remain in his followers, and that their "joy might be full." In the light of what Jesus knew, of what he had proved over and over of God's love and nearness, can we think of him as other than joyous and happy?
There may be those who are so sure that Jesus was habitually sad and sorrowful that they feel that his followers should always be grave and long-faced, indeed they may even go so far as to doubt the Christianity of anyone who is habitually joyous. But would not this be due to a misunderstanding of Jesus' character? In this connection permit me to quote a sentence or two from a very well-known clergyman and writer. He says, "Goodness which is not radiant has something the matter with it. Goodness which, however impeccable, makes life seem cramped, pinched, restrained, and unhappy, is not real goodness. Such good people are often exasperating nuisances. One who has to deal with them understands the little girl's prayer: 'O God, make all the bad people good — and make all the good people nice!'" I suppose she meant, make them pleasant, cheerful and happy.
But let us look at this subject from the viewpoint of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy has said (Science and Health, p. 337), "For true happiness, man must harmonize with his Principle, divine Love." Did not Jesus' life abundantly demonstrate his at-one-ment with the Father? Did he not then possess true happiness? Mrs. Eddy has said further, "Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love" (ibid., p. 57). Surely then, Jesus, who manifested all the spiritual qualities without measure, must have been the happiest of men.
An examination of Mrs. Eddy's use of the word "happiness" and the many times she uses it in combination with "health" or "holiness" will show that she regarded happiness as a natural, inherent, and essential quality of man.
A well-known hymn (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 109) tells us that the man "whose life of care and labor flows, where God points out the way" is happy. Should not this be our daily endeavor, to seek and to follow God's guidance in the ordinary affairs of everyday life, yes, "in every act, in every thought"?
Thus doing we shall be led aright, not only in the many decisions incident to our daily occupation, but in the realm of thought we shall be empowered to detect and reject those thought-parasites, such as selfishness, expectation of evil, resentment, revenge, and fear, which could not develop in us save only as they fed upon us, and we shall be inspired to implant those thought-seeds which as they grow will make us resemble more and more in character our great Exemplar.
[Delivered Jan. 9, 1936, at The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and published in The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 10, 1936. Curiously, although the 1932 Hymnal had already come out by this time, this lecture quotes from the 1910 Hymnal.]