William Henry Alton, C.S.B., of New York, New York
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
About three thousand years ago, a subtle and clever trick was used to win the final battle in a very long war — the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. For ten years the Greeks besieged the great city of Troy, but the powerful Trojans beat back every attack. Then the Greeks tried trickery.
They built a huge wooden horse, big enough to conceal within it a number of Greek soldiers. The idea was that if the Trojans could be tricked into pulling the horse inside their own city gates, then the hidden soldiers would slip out of the horse at night and open the city gates for the waiting Greek army.
To make the trick more convincing, the Greek army pretended that they'd given up the war and had sailed for home, though they'd actually hidden their ships behind a nearby island.
The trick worked exactly as planned. The Trojans did drag the horse inside their gates. That night under cover of darkness the hidden soldiers slipped out of the horse and opened the gates from within. The Greek army poured in through the open gates and destroyed Troy.
The Trojans had been lulled into believing lies. They had succumbed to their own false thinking!
Now the Trojan horse story is, of course, a legend. But it serves as useful symbolism for us today. It illustrates evil's age-old methods to try to get inside men's thinking, so as to rob them of their God-given freedom, peace of mind, and an altogether good life. It also illustrates that the evil in the world can only be convincing to the consciousness willing to take it in, to believe it. Our purpose tonight is to show that, because God is infinite good and all-powerful, there can be no reality to an opposing power called evil in any form. Suggestions that there can be are only Trojan horse tricks — ruses to smuggle into men's thought what is contrary to their own best interests.
The greatest Trojan horse of all is fear. Fear is a disguise evil regularly uses to try to get inside the walls of thought. It would paralyze the natural activity of good in individuals, groups, and nations. By its fooling them into believing a lie, they're deceived into doing what they shouldn't do and into avoiding what they ought to do. In fact, many of today's thinkers acknowledge fear to be one of the greatest obstacles known to health, accomplishment, and happiness.
Fear assumes many forms. There's the fear of what others think about us — not always so harmless, because it often affects our attitudes and behavior. Sometimes it creates a shyness which makes us withdraw from other people. There are those who are afraid their income will be cut off, or that some disease will destroy them, or that they may lose someone they love, or that they'll never have someone to love at all. There are all the fears of an uncertain future, of retirement or stepping down from a place of importance and responsibility. There's the merciless competition in business in a fearful effort for what is mistakenly called self-preservation. And there are all the physical ills which men fear, many of which even the medical world attributes to fear. These few examples give a glimpse of how fear tries to interfere with our health, our achievement, and our happiness.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, saw with amazing insight the part fear plays in human problems. She writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Christian scientific practice begins with Christ's keynote of harmony, 'Be not afraid!'" (p. 410). She made it clear that fear is caused by believing evil to be person, place, or thing having power to harm, whereas courage is acknowledging the power of good strong enough to protect. Fear is trust in evil. Courage is trust in good.
Instances of evil and fear are first mentioned in the Bible in what might be called the Adam and Eve account of creation. This dream-narrative, recorded in the second and third chapters of Genesis, contrasts sharply with the first chapter which, when spiritually understood, Christian Scientists regard as the true account of creation. In this first account man is made in the likeness of God, Spirit, and therefore he must be spiritual and infinite, not material and limited. According to this account, too, everything that God created He saw to be very good! How could evil, and therefore fear, possibly be a part of true creation in which all is good, spiritual, indestructible? They must be relegated, as the Adam and Eve story implies, to dreamland, to illusion, having no real existence.
Our purpose then in facing up to fear and evil isn't to make a reality of them. Quite the contrary, our purpose is to be more alert in distinguishing the temporary and unreal from the permanent and real. Then the unreal can't affect us in any way whatsoever. How important it is for a bank teller to know real money so that he can never be deceived by counterfeit bills.
Fear's victims rarely realize they're afraid. Fear operates subtly, and seldom under its own name. People more often think of themselves as "worried," or "concerned," or "disturbed," or "anxious," or "apprehensive" — actually just a few of fear's aliases. And fear operates under many disguises. For example, when we try to "keep up with the Joneses," what's our motivation?
And most of us men would deny we're afraid of anything — we'd leave that for the ladies! But what's the average man's outlook when he receives a notice from the Internal Revenue Department to appear for a hearing? Or when the boss ignores him?
And then there are the so-called collective fears, such as disease epidemics and business recessions. There are the collective fears evidenced as religious and race problems based on intolerance — another name for fear. And there's war — fear operating in a most destructive disguise.
We generally either try to live with our fears by ignoring them, hoping to outgrow them, or else we run from them, trusting by some miracle they will eventually disappear. For some conditions drugs are used either to quiet the individual's fear or else stimulate him out of depression and anxiety.
All of these approaches, however, treat evil and fear as realities. And if an evil is real, we're justified in being afraid of it. Fear can't be overcome so long as evil appears real to the individual. Then in order to be unafraid, what must we do? First, we must know God, or good, to be the only power; and second, we must understand evil to be unreal. If we really know God, good, to be the only power, this destroys fear. The very basis of fear is dualism, accepting two creators, two sources of all existence, a God of good and a god of evil. This is in direct disregard of the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Whatever is real and powerful to us becomes a god to us! Fear, then, is actually idolatry, because it's acknowledging a power other than good, divine Love.
The Bible uses the words "Love" and "good" as synonyms for God. Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health defines "Good" as "God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omni-action" (p. 587). What a tremendous statement this is! Good has all-power, is everywhere present, is the only action, without an opposite presence or action. This means, for instance, that right where an accident appears to be going on, or an unpleasant situation appears to exist, right there in truth is good, and good only. Certainly the evil seems real and solid to the physical sense of things, but if we're to believe good to be the only power, the only activity going on everywhere, how can its opposite, evil, be occurring anywhere? Evil, like a mistake in mathematics, or a wrong note in music, is a misconception on the part of the individual who believes it, and it can be corrected. The understanding of good's allness destroys evil. God as Love is incapable of knowing fear, just as light is incapable of knowing darkness. Where all is good, evil couldn't possibly exist! Where all is Love, fear couldn't possibly exist!
To overcome fear and evil, God must be acknowledged as the only power, and man's divine relationship to God as His beloved spiritual child must be understood. Our complete immunity from all that is unlike good lies in the realization of this eternal spiritual union. It's impossible for someone not to be afraid if he identifies himself or another as physical, mortal, and finite, for then he's acknowledging as real the material misconception of existence, the only state of consciousness in which evil and fear can ever even seem to operate!
Jesus' awareness of the all-power of his loving Father, God, and his own indestructible relationship as God's spiritual expression, gave him the God-derived power to destroy evil of every sort. This spiritual understanding was his true selfhood, or the Christ, the true idea of all things; it separated the false from the true and enabled him to heal the physically and mentally ill, feed a multitude with just a few loaves and fishes, and raise the dead! When Peter tried to come to him walking on the Galilean Sea and panicked at the height of the waves, Jesus stilled Peter's fear with the statement, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matt. 14:31). Peter in this instance had more faith in evil than in good! Jesus' teachings insist upon the supremacy and allness of good.
Then the way to destroy fear is to know God, good, to be the only power and to acknowledge our own indestructible relationship to God, and therefore to good.
Knowing God as the only power leads to the further inevitable and irresistible conclusion that evil is unreal. Jesus defined the devil — his name for evil — in these words, "He is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). Think of it — "A liar, and the father of it"! A superb description of that which has no reality nor existence, no cause and no effect. This statement, combined with Jesus' tremendous declaration that "there is none good but one, that is, God" (Matt. 19:17), must be scientific Christianity's standpoint. The allness of good, because good is God; and the utter nothingness of evil because evil is a lie! Fear cannot maintain itself in the face of these two great truths.
And yet how many who profess to follow Jesus really think and act on the basis of these revolutionary truths? Christian Science alone categorically denies the reality of evil on the basis that God, good, is the only power. However, it recognizes that in human experience there's a mistaken concept or belief called evil, much as there was once the mistaken belief that the earth was flat. Evil, like all wrong concepts, can't be ignored. It must be corrected through enlightened spiritual thinking. For example, sickness is unreal, but until healing takes place, we haven't proved its unreality. Freedom from fear and its effects is gained only by acknowledging and holding fast to what is real — that is, to the allness of good and the nothingness of evil. To prove evil unreal in our experience, this line of correct thought and action must be our standpoint.
What subtle influence would make evil seem real, and therefore cause fear? Well, what subtle influence deceived the Trojans into taking the wooden horse inside their gates? Mrs. Eddy uses the term "animal magnetism" to designate the persuasive quality and aggressive activity of evil. Animal magnetism, alias a liar, a myth, would deceive men into acknowledging evil to be real and powerful and blind them to the all-power of good. That which makes finite mortal existence seem real, and deathless spiritual existence unreal, is the idolatrous belief that life and intelligence are material.
Christian Science teaches that the whole of mortal material existence is illusion with no more reality than what happens in a dream. Scientific Christianity awakens us from this dream. It reveals the wonders of spiritual creation and our true identity as God's spiritual idea. This affirmation of the truth, this awakening, breaks evil's hypnotic spell and matter's claim to reality. It reveals only the omnipresence and omnipotence of spiritual good. Awakening to the divine facts and denying evil's sham insures the destruction of fear and any of its apparent effects.
The Bible gives many instances of protection from fear and evil for those who understood the infinite goodness of divine Love and man's eternal enfoldment in this Love and goodness. The prophet Elisha, through spiritual intuition alone, knew when and where the king of Syria and his armies planned to attack his people. When they surrounded Elisha's city, Elisha's servant, very frightened at the Syrian soldiers and chariots all around, cried out, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" Elisha answered, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (II Kings 6:15,16). The servant must have been very confused at this statement, for all he could see was the evil, the enemy! The Bible record at this point says simply: "And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha" (II Kings 6:17). Elisha's developed sense of spiritual awareness enabled him to see the counterfact to the threatening situation, to behold what was invisible to the uninspired thought of his servant — that is, the presence of Love's saving angels or spiritual ideas all around, and man's eternal place of safety in the arms of divine Love. This spiritual understanding was all that was needed to change the evidence of the physical senses. How? The armies of Syria were temporarily blinded and Elisha was able to lead them into the hands of his own people, without harm to anyone! Spiritual understanding enables each one of us to solve our problems with the help of divine Love — and to make evil and fear as foreign to our lives as they were to Elisha's.
A student of Christian Science whom I know experienced this protecting and saving power of divine Love. She was suffering with a chronic and intensely painful physical condition. One night during an attack of severe pain she became very afraid. She opened her Bible for guidance, and turned to the account of Jesus' healing the lunatic boy whom the disciples had failed to heal. Asked by the disciples why they had failed, Jesus answered: "Because of your unbelief: . . . Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:20,21).
Stirred by Jesus' answer, the woman thought, "Why this is my answer — more prayer and fasting." Then she asked herself, "What is this prayer and fasting Jesus required of his disciples?" She opened Science and Health and her eyes fell on a favorite passage which reads, "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea" (p. 495). "Why this is prayer," she thought, "clinging steadfastly to God and His idea right when the physical senses are screaming that disease is real." Then she read the next line, "Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought." "This is fasting — allowing nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought."
Jesus didn't tell his disciples that they needed only to know what prayer and fasting were. He implied that they must actually pray and fast! The woman saw this and determined to watch her own thoughts — to pray by clinging steadfastly to God and His idea, and to fast by allowing nothing but His likeness to abide in her thought. She found she couldn't pray and fast ten seconds without letting in some stray suggestions of fear. But the time had come to persist, and she persisted! Pretty soon she was able to pray and fast for thirty seconds, a minute, five minutes, twenty minutes, an hour.
After some days of complete dedication to upholding the real and rejecting the unreal, she found a mental discipline and control developing. The awareness of Spirit and Spirit's harmonious creation filled her consciousness. Fear had vanished. She was praying and fasting not to gain a healing, but for the peace and happiness which are an inherent part of thinking the truth. Suddenly one day she realized the pain was gone. And it never returned! Here had truly been a healing through prayer — affirming the facts; and fasting — denying the error.
Now when Jesus told his disciples that "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting," what did he mean? Certainly he didn't mean that the power to heal had anything to do with a physical, personal presence, either his disciples' or his own, nor with declaring a sick person to be well through wishful thinking or self-will. No, what he did mean was that the healing power was the light of spiritual understanding operating in individual consciousness, destroying the illusory shadows called disease, or any other inharmonies. This spiritual presence was the Messiah, or Christ, which Jesus knew to be his nature and true selfhood, and performed the healing work. And he knew it was the disciples' nature and true selfhood too, to the degree that they filled their consciousness with the spiritual facts of God and His expression, man, through prayer and fasting. You and I become fearless and successful followers of Jesus as we express the Christ. Then we can solve our every difficulty — physical, moral, financial — the Christ way!
If we are to have a life free from the limitations imposed by evil and fear, then each fear must be dealt with and destroyed. There can be no exceptions. Sometimes we delude ourselves that we're acknowledging the allness of good and the nothingness of evil and yet have, shall we say, a few pet "concerns" or "misgivings," or are "worried" about what'll happen unless that check comes through, or unless those physical symptoms begin to change for the better.
Giving lip service to the truths of Christian Science isn't enough. To simply say that good is all, and that there's no evil to fear, must be replaced with consistent knowing that this is so, not in one case or a few cases, but in every case.
Destroying fear in every case was seen by Mrs. Eddy to be so important that she wrote, "Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients. Silently reassure them as to their exemption from disease and danger. Watch the result of this simple rule of Christian Science, and you will find that it alleviates the symptoms of every disease. If you succeed in wholly removing the fear, your patient is healed" (Science and Health, p. 411). Here Mrs. Eddy makes an unequivocal statement as to how to commence resolving every difficulty the Christianly scientific way, "Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients." Notice the word "always," not "sometimes" or "most of the time," but "Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients."
This basic rule for scientific prayer is no mere personal opinion. It was the outgrowth of Mrs. Eddy's own years of demonstrating the allness of God, good, and the nothingness of evil. It could be stated with the authority which comes only from proof! Mrs. Eddy conquered fear in many forms in the course of accomplishing her monumental life objective. This lifework was to discover the divine Principle of the words and works of Christ Jesus, to show that this divine Principle was still available to heal, and to glorify God by founding a Church which would bring this spiritual healing method to all mankind. What a mission! What a life purpose! It's difficult even to conceive of the immensity of such an objective!
After her own healing from the results of a serious accident through reading the account of how Jesus healed a palsied man, she discovered for herself the Science behind this healing. Then, after perceiving this perfect Science of healing, she undertook to heal others of every sort of illness, many classified as incurable, and through spiritually scientific prayer alone.
In writing a textbook to explain this Christian Science, she had to clothe her spiritual discovery in material terms, in human language, so that all who would read the book could understand and heal for themselves! Step by step, she established facilities to bring this knowledge to the world. She taught, preached, wrote, organized a church, founded religious periodicals, and set up a Board of Lectureship.
In opening up these avenues for the presentation of Truth to the world, she was faced with all materialism's hatred for and resistance to the Christ. But she was undaunted, confident of divine support and therefore unafraid of the world's doubt and opposition. As the result of her fearless reliance on good, the Science of Christ has been made available to men of all nations to understand and practice!
Her understanding and proof of the omnipotence of good, God, and of the consequent unreality of evil in any form has enabled you and me to demonstrate these great spiritual facts — to live the life unafraid! When we understand this Science, we have a demonstrable religion which enables each of us to have purpose, direction, health, happiness, and success — the divine way!
To overcome fear, then, we must learn how to pray scientifically. And scientific prayer is realizing that there's only one power — God, good; and that evil is unreal. It isn't blind faith and a desperate pleading to an unknown God for help out of some evil condition. It's acknowledging the perfection of spiritual creation, and denying the opposite claims of a material creation. It's staying with the spiritual truths about a particular situation which confronts us rather than desperately hoping to be free from what appears to be a very real difficulty. Such logical thinking is inspired thinking, and only through inspiration can we understand these truths of God and His all-encompassing goodness. This state of consciousness enabled Mrs. Eddy to achieve all she did. It still today provides the divinely mental climate where healing takes place.
We're not interested in mere theories, but in proof. We say with James, "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). Faith with works is very much alive! Let me give you an example of a living faith in another area of human experience.
A man had been trying earnestly for a number of years to practice Christian Science but hadn't been very successful. He'd been given additional responsibilities at his office to carry on negotiations with other companies, but he very much doubted his ability to do this. As a cover-up for his intense fear he developed a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, a belligerency which turned others against him and of course nullified his best efforts. Each day he dreaded having to go to the office and face more uncertainties. And to compound his unhappiness he was lonely. He had many acquaintances, but he avoided them because of fear. For one thing he was sure many people found him dull. He was even afraid to call on a practitioner for help, afraid the practitioner would discover what a weak and fearful fellow he really was! But finally, in desperation he visited one.
The practitioner pointed out that much of his difficulty was his fear of what other people thought about him, but most important, of what he thought about himself. He had to decide which creation he was going to accept as real — the material or the spiritual. Was he believing in and seeing many mortals, each with his own critical, faultfinding mind, or spiritual man as God created him, expressing the one intelligent Mind which is God? The practitioner pointed out that in God's creation each idea knows every other idea only as God knows it — perfect, spiritual, useful, reflecting all of God's divine qualities, without a single fault or blemish. Was he identifying himself and others as the beloved children of an altogether good God, motivated by Love, or was he claiming separate personalized minds for himself and others, lacking the intelligence to cope with problems, and at the mercy of many human wills? The man saw that while he had in theory accepted these truths and known God's goodness, in practice he was believing a very false concept of himself, of his brother man, and of God.
This visit marked the turning point in what proved to be a tremendous and rapid freedom from many fears which had bound him most of his life. He became much less afraid of what others thought because he knew that in truth they could think about him only what God was causing them to think. He developed a true love for his fellowmen, seeing man consistently as spiritual and perfect, created and governed by divine Love. What he believed others were thinking were just his own fears — suggestions from the source of all lies, mortal mind, the supposed opposite of divine Mind, attempting to mesmerize him into accepting the mortal instead of the true basis of being. He realized how wide the gap had been between his profession of the truths of Christian Science and his application of them in every direction — with his business, friends, supply, happiness, and particularly in his living of Christian Science. Now he looked forward to each new day, knowing it was already filled, not with loneliness and failure, but with good, with intelligence, love, and the ability to cope with whatever might arise. He had learned that each trial must be mastered through the strength of Spirit, not in the weakness of human selfhood!
We've talked much of the illusion called fear. We've talked about the approach to a fear-free and confident life. How glad we can be that others have pioneered the way and have left unmistakable directions for us to follow!
It's interesting to see world thinking today moving in the direction of what Mrs. Eddy stated when she published her textbook back in 1875. Medicine, then concerned primarily with the physical aspects in alleviating disease, is now greatly interested in mankind's thinking, looking into mental causes for physical effects.
It's good that this increased attention is being given to thinking, and the need for correcting it, when it's wrong. But until it's learned that the only correct thinking is spiritual thinking, the ability to destroy human ills of every sort will be lacking. Only as material existence is understood to be illusion and the truths of spiritual reality are acknowledged to be the only facts regarding man and the universe will final freedom from all evil and fear be won. To uncover error and then leave it undestroyed is never the answer. Each of us must know his true selfhood as spiritual and deny the lie that he's a mortal. Man is spiritual because his Father-Mother is Spirit, God. And because God is perfect, we in our true nature as God's expression are perfect, healthy, whole, provided for in every way. This kind of thinking, this spiritual acknowledgment is scientific prayer, and it works. Its fruits are spiritual healing.
Of course there are obstacles along the path. But, like Elisha, we remain safe and secure inside our mental defenses if we know that divine Love and goodness are absolutely all and that God's spiritual ideas form an impenetrable protection.
Jesus called this state of spiritual consciousness the kingdom of heaven, and John in the book of Revelation spoke of it as "the holy city, new Jerusalem" (Rev. 21:2). This city is ours to dwell in to the degree that we dedicate ourselves to spiritualized thinking — through prayer and fasting. Mrs. Eddy writes, "In divine Science, man possesses this recognition of harmony consciously in proportion to his understanding of God'' (Science and Health, p. 576). This holy city is no Troy. In speaking further of it, Mrs. Eddy says, "Its gates open towards light and glory both within and without, for all is good, and nothing can enter that city, which 'defileth, . . . or maketh a lie'" (ibid., p. 577).
Jesus left us the immortal words of his prayer to help us along the way. The last two lines assure us of the eternal care of our Father, divine Love. He said, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever" (Matt. 6:13). If the kingdom is the Father's, then it's ours too. Whatever is the Father's belongs to his son, to you and me, as God's exact likeness or reflection. All the good the Father has is yours now! That's why we can live the life of good — the life unafraid!!
©1964 William Henry Alton
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