Christian Science - Unlimited Promise
( Originally Published 1921 )
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE attracts the attention of many people because of its unlimited promise. To the people who cry and complain of the burdens of life, to them that are acquainted with pain and the blight of disease, to them that mourn and are poor or under the thraldom of incorrigible sin, it promises more than does anything else that is known to humanity.
"What must I do to be saved?" has for its only answer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus declared, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It seems to be incumbent upon Christians to believe in the essence of this prophecy and to expect its fulfilment. If it were perpetually to fail of fulfilment, then Christianity would be in perpetual default. We claim that the prophecy is being fulfilled; that the actual Science of Christianity has been discovered and is accomplishing that which was promised in its name.
It is the Mind which was in Christ that is divine. This constitutes his divinity, his Messiahship, his eternal, Godlike, spiritual individuality. The man who is to be saved must, therefore, believe in the divinity of Christ. In order rightly to believe, one must believe that Christ's coming or appearing was in order to do the will of God, to do according to the divine nature, and that everything he did do was in accord with and actually in attestation of His changeless plan and rule. He must believe that in coming to fulfil law he came to demonstrate and enforce the law of life and health and holiness; that it was done lawfully and not in contravention of any law of God; that it involved no mystery or abnormity; that it was divinely rational, practical, and natural; that it was done because of a universal impulsion that cannot change and whose eternal application cannot lapse, or be spasmodic, or intermittent. He must understand that Christ, the voice of God to humanity, possessed accurate, exact knowledge of God and of the Science of being, and knew more than all other men combined; also that every-thing was done by him in the best and only right way; and furthermore, that the only right way to be saved from evil conditions through Christ at that time is the only right way in which to be saved now; that because it was right to save the sinner and the sick man through the application of eternal law then, it is right to save the same man according to the same law now. Indeed it must be perceived that, in part, the deep significance of Jesus' work lies in the indestructible fact that he proved the power and law of God to be available to a sick man and to be an ever-present help in his time of trouble; moreover, that this divine immanence is competent to abolish every evil that afflicts humanity.
Christ, who came to save that which was lost, overcame sin and sickness and did it according to the will of God. It follows necessarily that these things which he overcame had neither procurement nor sanction in God. He did not destroy anything that had a legitimate right to exist or to continue to overwhelm a man. The mere fact that he opposed and overthrew them carries with it the indispensable conclusion that they had no basis in Truth, but were fabulous and abnormal. It is also essential to know that when he abolished or annulled the law of sin and disease, he cancelled a spurious pretense of law which is not law and has no legitimate power of enforcement. Jesus knew that disease is abnormal and curable, and he demonstrated the verity of his knowledge. Concerning the sick woman he said that Satan had bound her. This surely does not mean that God or Truth or matter had bound her.
Christian Science practice has scientifically proved the correctness of the disclosure that the primary cause of bodily impairment is to be found in the mental realm, and that fear and sin are chief among the influences that procure the sickness of humanity. Jesus understood this and he knew that such influences could be abolished. His frequent entreaty to them that would be saved was: "Go, and sin no more;" "Fear not;" "Be not afraid." Jesus knew that the divine volition and power which he manifested were universal and interminable. He not only understood the efficacy thereof, but he knew also of its applicability to every human being according to a divinely ordained dominion over evil. This is indicated by many utterances like the following: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;" "He that believeth on me the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do;" "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you;" "For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith;" "the kingdom of God is within you." Paul also understood, when he said: "Work out your own salvation;" "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." In order to be saved we must accept Christ's moral standards. The Sermon on the Mount is a code of ethics that must not be ignored nor evaded.
What think ye of the Christ? What think ye of the Christianity of Christian Science? Does it acknowledge too much perfection in God? Does it set forth a divine plan and purpose that is better than God or more benevolent than infinite Love? Does it ascribe too much supremacy to omnipotent Spirit? Is the scope of salvation for the man who needs salvation too ample? Does it promise to save him too soon or from too much? Is it a mistake to hold that the assurance of salvation lies in the triumph of Christ, rather than in the crucifixion and the crown of thorns? Will a lesser scope and efficacy fulfil the promises, or redeem mortals from the unification of evil which includes sin and disease as cause and effect? Is there any other way given under heaven whereby we must be saved? No! Herein is the promise of Christian Science; herein the reign of Christ on earth under which the world will at last find peace. This alone will break earth's tragedy, dry the tears, subdue the passions and violence of men and nations, so that even a little child shall lead them.
For nearly half a century, Mrs. Eddy has been pleading for the recognition of God's allness as being good; for absolute reliance on His supremacy as power, action, law; for the discovery that the divine and eternal substance is in Spirit or Mind, and not in matter. She disclosed by means of scientific analysis the illegitimacy of disease and sin, the abnormity of the so-called law of disease and death, and the curable nature of sickness as well as vice. She insisted that the Mind which is also in Christ is also capable of expelling the mischief of the mind which Paul called carnal, and she insisted that the drugging system was unscientific and can never cope with disease. She insisted that the power that was equal to the creation of the universe is equal to the elimination of disease according to the law which is of universal applicability. With consummate patience, and with conviction that rested on proof, she waited until the verity of her discovery penetrated the consciousness of humanity. Day after day the philosophers and students and men of science are conceding nearly all for which she con-tended. Mental causation is being admitted as the inducement of disease. Ministers are gradually admitting the genuineness and rationality of her recourse to divinity for the rule and fruition of existence, and people in every walk of life are awakening to the fact that the author of the universe is of some consequence and consolation to men.
If it were possible to concentrate the so-called material power of the universe so as to blow this planet to powder, the power thus concentrated could not cure a malignant cancer. A more efficient impulsion than that is required for the task. The Mind which was in Christ has healed hundreds of malignant cancers. Considering the fact that millions of instances of sickness, sin, and vice have been healed and that probably a million instances of so-called fatal disease have been cured, is it possible for anyone to recall a more majestic transaction since the day of Christ than Mrs. Eddy's discovery that Christian salvation is the actual master of disease and sin, according to principle and rule? Concerning the limitless import of this discovery, the universality of its application, the splendor of its promise, and the indispensable ultimate of its purpose and of Mrs. Eddy's mission, is it not easy to understand how grandly she has dignified that mission by silence in the midst of every evil assault upon her? Would any other course have been possible than for her to wait until it should transpire that her daily living and teaching and labor for humanity justified her before God and men and innocently compelled the esteem and applause of mankind?
The most practical question of humanity is, "What shall I do to be saved?" The question must go down in despair unless there be a practical answer. An answer that is veiled in mystery or mysticism—one that taxes the credulity of man to the utmost limit by asking him to have faith in that which he cannot understand or which demands that he submit to the climax of evil in sickness and death before he can be saved, is not practical. The consciousness of humanity is involved in every kind and degree of evil experience and oppression. Humanity needs to be saved from all of it, from everything that mars, wounds or obstructs. Can it be saved? Can it be saved from all of the miserable wretchedness? Can it be saved now? The answer in Christian Science is: "Yes;" "My grace is sufficient for thee;" "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ."
What is it we need to be saved from, and can we be saved from it? False theology would tell you that it is sin we need to be saved from. Sin is not the initiative of man's disaster; it is the phenomenon, pure and simple. Something is its cause; so man must be saved from something that is anterior to sin. What is it? Why, it is fear.
Fear is the chief torment and foe of this race. It induces nearly every bit of sin. I speak of fear in the broad sense. Fear means anxiety, worry, trepidation, alarm; the opposite of confidence and reliance, or self-containment; it is the opposite of what means rule and dominion, courage, and capacity; and sin is the resultant, almost invariably, of fear. For example, do you think anybody would ever sin if he could get what he wanted without it? Think you that anybody would be so discomforted and so uncomfortable as to sin, if he were able to find supreme enjoyment and satisfaction and variety of experience without it?
The reason that everybody is afraid is that they have been educated to be afraid. Religion has educated us to be afraid of the Almighty. We are afraid of God, afraid of heaven, afraid to go to heaven. There are people here who may say, "I'm not afraid to go to heaven." Suppose all the people of Illinois were invited to die to-night and go to heaven. What would they do? They would all put for the woods. Not one would accept the invitation. And it is to the glory of God and to the glory of the people of Illinois that they reject the proposition that our infinitely good God needs to prostrate them with disease and crush life out of them in order to introduce them to the felicities of heaven.
What is the matter with this race that makes every last man and woman a coward? Go to the philosopher, or the man called a scientist, and he will tell you that fear is the natural concomitant of existence, a very salutary feature; that it acts as a warning, breeds caution, et cetera. And it is literally instilled into the thoughts of men that fear is an essential—to be expected, and respected. Forty years ago had you attended any of our great colleges and entered a scientific course, you would have been told that possibly sometime in the future electricity might be used for illuminating purposes; but as a motive power, never! Impossible! Somebody has had to change his mind since then. The first thing this race must do in order to be saved is to learn that fear is ungodlike, unnatural, absolutely without divine ordination, a gratuitous, fabulous abomination, without one solitary thread of reason or rationality, of excuse or propriety or tenure; that it is without any basis in Truth or Science, in law or in intelligence.
In order to be saved we must rationally under-stand whence cometh fear; and we shall learn that we have come to be victims through ignorance and superstition; through ignorance, first, of what lies at the very bottom of existence, what there is by way of nature, provision, ordination, and routine; through ignorance of the foundation and basis upon which all things rest, and according to which all things must pursue their way. In other words, what is the science of creation, of life, of man's destiny? What was he created for? How much dominion over all the earth is he entitled to, and may he set forth and exhibit?
In order to be saved from fear we must come into the possession of that which will cast it out. Dominion will cast it out. In other words, the conscious sense of power on your part, sense of power that will cast out an equivalent of fear, and consequently of fear's havoc. I speak as an expert on fear, because in my day I was the most frightened person on this planet. I do not think you could crowd any more fear into a person than there was in me, and I have learned whereof I speak to such an extent that I do not believe I am more than forty per cent as much afraid as I used to be—possibly not more than twenty-five per cent. In other words, I have got rid of about seventy-five per cent of hell. Why is it that, instead of existing as a sovereign in the realm of mental equipment, showing forth the Mind that is equal to the moving of mountains, to all intents and purposes there is a cringing, creeping, frightened world? It is because we have been educated to believe that our God is against us; because we have been taught to believe that for some inscrutable reason, (and it is always apologized for in these words—inscrutable, indeed!) infinite wisdom has seen fit to make somebody, and to arrange for his tragedy and death. So at the outset, we start with the supposition that we were born to die; that we were born under the rule and law and provision of pain, sickness, in-sufficiency, and sin; and so, with that start there is no other ultimate than sorrow and suffering.
What must we do to be saved from fear? We must learn, and can learn tonight, that all that means God, all that means source, origin, foundation, and power, all that means creative force, all that is entitled to exercise any influence, to sustain the universe, to hold it in its grasp—that all of it is good, infinitely good, surpassing all possibility of human comprehension. We must learn that in spite of the appearance, the foundation of being is good. Our God bath done all things well. Be not afraid of God. The Christian Scientist is learning that God is his dearest friend.
No babe ever nestled its head on the breast of more loving mother; none ever had mother more intent upon the felicity of her child; none ever had father so bound up in the protection and guidance and maintenance of his child. So we are to learn just as fast as we will, that God means life and health and welfare and prosperity for all.
If we may be assured that the foundation of being is good, and we find at this point that we may stop being afraid, what then? You may say there is no more delight in pain if it isn't from God, than if it is; and how can you be saved from fear so long as the consequences remain? If we shift the burden of responsibility from God, where is it to be placed that you need not fear it? Christian Science answers this question by declaring that all that means sorrow, disappointment, poverty, sickness, and death, all of it is but an illegitimate sense of life, a perversion of the facts of being. It is pure aberration, a wrong sense of life; a wrong sense of that which is fundamentally all right. The thing that causes all this misestimate about the origin of disease, and is the procurer of pain and disaster, that which is to be dislodged and from which we are to be saved, is this wrong sense of that which is all right.
Salvation means transformation of mind. You have no contention against some mighty enemy. You have not got to wrestle and be tossed about by something that is powerful, that is natural and ordained. You have got to contend against something that will flee just as you oppose it, and to the extent that you oppose it.
If Christ were to come on earth in India to-day and look around for sinners to be saved, he would find that, according to the moral code of that country, ever so many people would say, "I need to be saved and forgiven because I have lately been killing chickens and lambs and eating them." A man in India who has thus transgressed would be afraid, would he not? Over here we find people asking God to bless the chickens and lambs for our use. The Buddhists who were here at the World's Fair were much shocked to find us killing and eating nearly every animal that we could lay our hands on. I have too much reverence for our God, I am too deep in my affection for the splendor and glory of Spirit, I have learned my lesson concerning Deity too well, to supplicate God to bless to my use any animal that I have killed and am going to eat. One needs something vastly more accurate than the human standard of morality in order to steer his way, in order not to be afraid. In order to be saved from fear, we are to learn that everything that induces it can be mastered, can be controlled, set aside, exterminated, and annulled. What will do this? That which will induce us, first, to know that we have a right to overcome it, and then will induce us to try to exercise the right. The great service of Christian Science to humanity today is that it is redeeming mankind and setting forth man's dominion over all evil, and exhibiting the rule whereby it may be accomplished, whereby we may work out our salvation and accomplish for ourselves the sufficiency of deliverance.
Why are we afraid? It is because we have a sort of idea that there is a God that has been watching us all the time, and has seen every funny little thing that we have done, and all the rest of the things; that He has them all marked down, and in the background is retribution, vengeance, punishment, more or less damnation, and sometimes hell. In other words, we are educated to believe that God is an executioner, and that He, Himself, is going to settle the account with us to the extent of our ever-lasting agony. Every bit of that sort of thing is untrue. There is no God involved in it. It isn't the business of God.
Now, what is it that punishes a mortal? It is sin itself; it is error itself. God doesn't punish anybody. He doesn't have to. Sin invariably brings its own sense of punishment, its own suffering, its own hell, and its own evil. There isn't any God in it at all; and when we come to understand this, it will be a relief, because we will then have a right to view man not as an original sinner, but as a victim.
Everyone in this room is a victim. He has been outrageously defrauded, and only when you come to know that concerning him, can you cure him. The reason Christian Science is able to reform sinners is that it differentiates between the reality of the man and the fraud that impresses itself upon him by way of a false sense of desire or pleasure or satisfaction or need. And so we must stop charging God with any form of evil in order to get our-selves right; in order to be in proper mood for deliverance. It won't do you a particle of good to enter upon a career of self-condemnation. Remorse never got anybody into heaven. A sense of regret and all that sort of thing is not the process. The process is reform; it is change; it is correction. The man who is today under the evil sense of being does not need to be whipped and scourged and punished; he needs to be educated. How about the sinner? There is no merit in suffering. The only merit there is is in transformation. I have found people carrying along their agony because they thought it was entirely proper to be everlastingly berating and condemning themselves. You will never get to heaven that way.
When we find that God is not responsible for evil; that it has no scientific or natural basis; that at least it is nothing but a fraudulent, perverted sense of being; when we find that there has been manifested to humanity an absolute, adequate way whereby to overcome the whole thing—that way having been demonstrated through Jesus Christ—. then when we begin to learn that man has a right to stand up and overcome, what does such a man as that do? Now we get to the point as to what a Christian Scientist does in order to overcome. He resists, and one thing that he begins to resist is fear. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." In every instance of disease there is latent or immediate fear, and it is the business of the practitioner to reach and cancel that fear, and just to the extent that he does it, does his case begin to improve.
I can remember when it came to me that I did not have to be afraid. I did not expect to be healed; I couldn't see how I was ever going to pull out, until one morning about three o'clock, when things seemed pretty near the edge, it absolutely dawned on me that the things that people had been saying for about nineteen centuries were true, that God, meaning good, right thinking, right knowing, is omnipotent,—that is all power and the only power. And when that came to me, then followed this—that if God, good, is the only power, then there isn't any other power that I need to be afraid of; and because there isn't I won't be afraid; and I knew I was going to get well. And let me say to some of you who perhaps are patients, that you don't need to be afraid. What you need to do is to take God at his word, "Be not afraid," because you don't have to be afraid; to keep fear at arm's length. Never admit that it is yours, because if it is yours you'd better keep it. Never admit that it has a right to continue in business at the old stand. As soon as possible, you want to put out an advertisement, mentally, that this place has changed hands.
Resist fear upon the ground that it has no right to be, and that it does not help the situation, at any rate.
Think for a moment of the mighty transactions that occurred when Jesus came on earth and en-treated humanity to "Be not afraid." He could not tell them why, because they would not understand it. He simply said: "Be not afraid." "Fear not."
Think of the other mighty transactions that have occurred since the discovery of the real essence of Christ's teachings and works came, and entreated humanity to "Be not afraid," and told the reason why they need not be afraid, explained the modus of deliverance, explained why Jesus told the people he had much to say to them, but they could not bear it. But he did say prophetically, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free;" and now this truth has been discovered and it is making people free.
Delivered at Third Church of Christ Scientist, Chicago, and published in part, in The Chicago Evening Post, November 15, 1907.