Modern Man Understands What The Ancients Failed To Grasp
( Originally Published 1921 )
IN speaking to Christian Scientists, it is no part of my work to sugar-coat with soft speeches. I am here to join with you in mutual congratulations because the most wonderful thing that ever happened to any being on this planet has happened to us, in that we have become Christian Scientists. What does it mean? It means that an ordinary human being absolutely immersed in ignorance, sin, superstition, pain, death, and everything that is miserable and disagreeable, has had bestowed upon him an understanding of the facts of being which operates in his behalf, rescues him from his would-be destroyer, puts his foot upon the rock of life, opens unto him the doorway of heaven, and establishes in him the sure confidence that his Redeemer lives and is redeeming him.
You remember that Jesus said: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day." Do you not know that all the intelligent, religious worthies, the very beacon lights of religious history, held with sublime fidelity and uncompromising allegiance to their understanding of God? Rather than to become recreant to duty and rather than to become posthumous in the sight of God, do you not suppose that they, every one of them, would have rejoiced could they have seen your day? But a demonstrable knowledge of this understanding they never had, beyond an indefmable spiritual sense. They never under-stood the real Science of their own inspiration.
Now here you are! There has been bestowed upon you this demonstrable understanding, so that you need wander no longer in the mazes of speculation and perplexity, to find yourself ultimately drifting upon the rock of despair, doubt, and dismay. I am persuaded in this day of Christian Science that the Christian Scientists themselves do not get one-hundredth part of the good out of it that they should; not one-hundredth part of the benefit that they should receive; and it is to inquire as to the reason of this, rather than to cry "Hallelujah" upon the supposition that we are getting it, that I come to speak to you to-night. I am going to call attention to some of your shortcomings, together with my own, in the hope that we may mend our ways, that we may lay hold upon larger possibilities, and that we may soon be able to say that we are approaching the goal of fruition.
This gospel of salvation bestows upon you certain privileges. We are apt to designate them as "duties" and one comes in the way of a command. It is really a misnomer to call it a command, but let it be so. "Heal the sick." Are Christian Scientists healing the sick? Are they laying hold upon that privilege? No. Are we taking God at His word? No. Not as a class. A very large proportion of the Christian Scientists are not taking God at His word at all, or at least very little. Why is it? How often we hear such words as these : "I cannot heal the sick. I have not enough understanding. Some one around the corner has a lovely understanding, but I haven't" Or perhaps the suggestion comes thus : "I am not good enough; I wish I were; I am not worthy to heal the sick," and similar arguments.
Where do these thoughts come from? Are they from God? Is that a part of the saving program? Do you not think if God in his infinite wisdom presented to you a way of salvation and told you what you must do in order to follow in it, and then told you that you could not do it, that it would be an exasperating mockery? When God tells you to heal the sick, it means that you can do it. "Satan came also and stood in the midst of them," and there are a great many Scientists who are mesmerized up to their very eyes by the suggestion that they cannot heal the sick, and that they cannot do this, that, and the other thing in the way of a demonstration. Why is it that they are so easily swayed by error in this particular? It is because they do not have the correct understanding of what it is that heals the sick.
If we get an idea that as a person, or that I, as a Christian Scientist, am a healer, that it is because of some virtue or something that is worthy in me, or anything that I can possibly wield, then that sense of healing is so defective that it is liable to be swayed at any time. It is just as likely to wake up in the morning and think that it cannot heal as to think that it can.
A man said to me one day: "You know I believe I would better not take any more patients, I have a claim of rheumatism that I have not entirely over-come and I think it best to discontinue the practice until I have made this demonstration." He asked my opinion and I replied : "I do not think that your rheumatism will heal the sick and until you come to find out that when the sick are healed it is in spite of, and regardless of, your material body, sick or well, perhaps you would better not take any more patients, as you do not understand how the sick are healed."
How many healers are there? Just one. And what one is that? God. Is He good enough to heal? Is He worthy? Has He enough understanding to heal the sick? When we come to learn what it is that heals, we will stop declaring that the healer cannot heal. Just to the extent that you can find a Christian Scientist who says that he cannot heal, just to that extent, he does not understand what it is that does the work. As soon as you find a Christian Scientist who knows that God is the only healer, then you will find one who will accomplish the healing.
How does God heal the sick? Through His Son, Jesus Christ. Let us see what is taking place. We talk about realizing the truth and declaring the truth, holding the truth for some one else and further statements of that kind. Do you know what they are? What do they mean? What is really happening? This Truth is God, good, divine intelligence, wisdom, or whatever you choose to give as a name for that which is infinite. The very truth itself is your consciousness; God is all, the only doer, the only actor, the only saviour, the only governor of man.
Man does not govern himself by his own wisdom. God does it all, and it is God manifesting Himself that constitutes the Christian Scientist. It is God with us; Life with us; intelligence with us; wisdom with us; it is power, action, strength, with us. It is the allness of being manifesting itself as Immanuel; God with us. It is the divine presence; the image and likeness of God; the Son of God. It means the Christ-man; the Christ-Saviour; the Mighty Counsellor; the Prince of Peace; it means the healing influence of the Christ-Mind. "Let this mind be in you." What mind? Why, the Mind that is good.
The first thing that this Mind does, this healer of the sick, is to declare itself as the healer of the sick and not the individual. It declares that the impersonal truth, the impersonal Christ, is the healer, and the first thing it does is to get rid of a personal healer. How does it heal the sick? Does it heal a man of sickness? Is your patient a man that believes he is sick, or is it a belief that calls itself a sick man? Is man sick? Is the likeness of God sick? No. Then this healer of the sick does not heal man. It does not accomplish what we call healing by healing man, but what does it do? It heals what we call the sick by uncovering the falsity of all claims that are involved in the supposed sickness, by uncovering the unreality thereof, by uncovering the utter unreality of the law that is sup-posed to operate it, and it wipes out as personality the claim of disease. Christian Science healing is purely metaphysical. There is no personal healer and no personal patient. When we come to see that God is the healer of the sick and there is none beside, will there be any place for the sense of fear? Will there be any place for the sense of responsibility, or of anxiety about the patients?
All of the so-called fear or sense of responsibility means that there is the belief that the "Government is on my shoulders" and that I am or am not the healer of the case. Let us agree with that adversary quickly. I cannot heal, but God can, and it is God with us that is the healer of the sick. This power is your power, if you know it, but if you go forth simply depending upon your human sense of power, no wonder, before you get there, there is a lot of fear on board and responsibility and despair.
One reason that we find ourselves uttering the statement that we cannot heal, that we have not enough understanding, et cetera, is that as 'a class we encourage each other more or less in that direction. We go to someone who has an understanding as big as a house, we say, and everyone is compared with that one, and we sit around encouraging the thought that all cases must be sent to that particular one. In the Bible there is a promise that Christian Scientists need to learn more, I believe, than any other. That promise is this: "My grace is sufficient for thee." It used to mean a sort of sentiment or emotion. We used to say it, and read it, but when-ever we ran short of grace and wanted more, there was not enough forthcoming because we did not know how to get it, and, in fact, we were in a state of constant denial of it. We did not believe that God's grace was sufficient for us. To the Christian Scientist this may be said with authority: "Your understanding of Christian Science is always equal to the mastery of every error that presents itself to you." But if you can be mesmerized to declare that it is not, that settles the whole business so far as you are concerned. What we want to do is to awake to an understanding of what is going on. The very master of this universe is saving you; you are not saving yourself; God is taking care of you and conducting the affairs of this universe, even to your salvation.
I used to think that it was a sort of mistake or accident in my case that I became a Christian Scientist, but I can now see that I was the very one who needed Christian Science and have stopped wondering. I can see that it is divine order. Do you suppose that when the time comes for you to be saved that there is some mistake about the machinery? Do you suppose there is a defect in the plan? Not at all; and yet all the time you are saying that the saving understanding is not enough for you to accomplish your own salvation. If you have only a wee bit of this understanding; if you know it, it is enough. But you say : "It is a little bit of a saviour; I will have to wait until it gets a little larger before I have anything that is worthy of attention." There you are denying your very salvation; you are denying your Saviour.
The growth of a Christian Scientist is very much like the growth of a little baby. It begins to kick and squirm from the day of its birth, and we say it is thus developed. Suppose a little baby should say: "I won't kick a single solitary kick until I be-come a man." How much of a man would you ever have? Just so it is with Christian Scientists. We must learn that the thing for the Christian Scientist to do is to use his infant understanding. It decays if it is not used. And it can be opened and opened, if it is properly applied. All our growth comes by what you might call spiritual volition, spiritual development, bringing to light by reason of the expansive nature of spiritual ideas, the facts of being.
I became a Christian Scientist at the time when everybody was chasing around to acquire a greater knowledge of the letter. Why, we walked the streets nights to find some one who would give us some high thought. As a matter of fact, we do not need high thoughts until we have demonstrated some of the little ones. It is a good deal like eating three hundred and sixty-five meals before digesting one of them. The beginner in Christian Science wants to begin with the same confidence as a person who has been twenty-five years in the work. Why? Because his understanding is enough for him, if he knows it. And it is nothing but the crucifier of the Saviour who says that it is not enough for him—nothing but that. Let us stop crucifying our saviour, the understanding of Christian Science. This under-standing of Christian Science is the knowledge of God, knowledge of good. This understanding is your true individuality. It is the undying man, and is the only man you are.
Our Leader once said : "Always remember what you are." The understanding of Christian Science is what you are. Now, how many of you are there? Just one. There is not a mortal man and an immortal man; there is one immortal man and that is your understanding of God. Is it right for us to wait around for this thing to become good enough to heal the sick? Is it any use for that man to sit around until his rheumatism becomes spiritual? That which calls itself unworthy will never be worthy, but if you will get it out of the way, you will go to work and heal the sick in spite of it.
Another reason why we are so easily turned away from the healing is that we as beginners (and I know it used to be so with almost everyone) have too personal and too material a sense of the healing. The healing is being done too much along the plan of supposing that there is something to be done to the body, that there is a man to treat, or a patient to treat, or something to be done or changed in matter. We are too prone to treat disease, to treat matter, to treat somebody, to treat what we call material cause, to treat a man or a patient. Too often our work is as material as the matter-physician's. He recognizes that he is treating matter and administering matter as a remedy, and we, too, largely delineate thought as though we were treating matter with mind.
We would be surprised to know to what extent we are treating matter. Let the metaphysician once get the idea that he is treating matter, disease, or man, and he will not have any faith in his metaphysical treatment. Just to the extent that he holds to this, and that his thought is directed to it, just to that extent instinctively, involuntarily, he will doubt the efficacy of his own treatment. Often one would go to work as though he were treating a boil, and when he got through with the treatment be tempted to look at the boil to see if it were a little smaller as a result; or if he were treating a patient for a fever, want to inquire if the fever were a little lower. It is a prevalent condition of thought.
What we want to do is to learn this, that all healing is metaphysical. There is no man to be healed, no person, place, nor thing to be cured, no substance to be operated upon. The first thing we have to do is to understand that instead of disease being a substantive proposition it is wholly an illusion, delusion, and hallucination, a defective depicting of thought. When you have healing to do, have you got to heal a body? No. The whole thing is mental, every bit of it. No relation whatever to time, place, matter, person, or man; altogether a picture in mortal mind. Now, whose mind? Amongst others, in the mind of the healer. The very first per-son to be healed is the healer himself. In other words, he must first understand that when he has what he calls a patient it is purely a mental image; that the whole and only thing to do is to meet it as such. Then when he clears his own mentality, he knows he will have to do nothing else, and he never can do anything else.
All the healer can possibly do is to reflect the right thought or the truth; and that reflection or realization, or the declaration, that uttered word, denies the claim. It denounces it and denies it, and the healer must understand that when he has done that mentally he has met the case. He has nothing to do with the matter, nothing to do with his patient, so far as that is concerned. The only thing for him to do is to sit still and watch the glory of God manifest itself in his own consciousness, declaring the utter unreality, the fabulous nature of the supposition of error. Then the healing of the sick is simply the action of Truth, uttering itself in your consciousness, and denying and repudiating this claim; and when you have a satisfied healer, when you have a healer in whose thought the healing has taken place as a mental treatment, then you will find that you have a patient who will say he is well.
But you may say: "Yes, I can understand this, but we must bring this out in the patient." What is God doing while you are bringing this out in the patient? Is He going to sit around and see you do something? God has done all things well. He has left nothing for you to bring out. All this supposition that the healer has to do such wonderful things, just harasses and impedes his growth. Our teacher used to tell us in the class that students pile up an endless amount of work for themselves that they do not have to do. We want to learn that the government is upon His shoulder. I think it would be well to say that the Christian Science practitioner is one who stops lying and stops believing a lie.
If we understand that disease, instead of being material, is purely of a mental nature, then we will have faith in a mental treatment. Suppose some-one should come and sit in your chair and say : "I want to be treated." "Well, what for?" He replies: "Two times two is five." What would you do but deny that at once, and state the truth that two times two is four? That would settle the matter, would it not? You would understand that there was nothing but a defective mental picture which you would correct by declaring the truth. Still, the next man comes in and says, "I want to be treated." "What for?" "For a headache." What do you do? You begin treating for a headache in nine cases out of ten, instead of knowing it is just as much a mental falsity as two times two is five. Exactly, and the reason we do not get better demonstrations is that we are treating a headache as something that is material instead of something that is nothing—simply an image of thought, a mere image.
When a claim presents itself we pine sometimes, we get a little irritated because this thing has come upon us and we do not understand it. What we want to know is that, with the Christian Scientist, error always appears to disappear. Now when we begin to grumble it is upon the supposition that it has come to stay. Where is the healer in this sort of case? We want to know that, just so long as we present any phase of error, error will play upon us just as we would upon the keys of a piano. When such conditions are presented to you they come to disappear if you only know it, and the proper thing for you to do is to begin rejoicing instead of getting angry and irritated. Not because you have a claim to meet, but rejoice because you have the under-standing with which to meet it, and you will find that it will be worth more than fifty or sixty bad treatments that do not work.
Suppose that Jesus on the night of Calvary had begun to grumble; suppose he had said: "Why have I this claim to meet?" Would there have been any resurrection? No. Yet He was tempted in all points like as we are. He was tempted to ask that the cup pass from him, and he said : "Why hast Thou forsaken me?" Then came the Christ Saviour and declared: "Thy will be done."
The world has interpreted it that it was God's will that he should be killed. It did not mean any-thing of the sort. It means the will of God be done. It was a declaration of the understanding of the immortality of man, and the might of intelligence to overcome evil. Be vigilant; watch your own thought. Mortal man is very much like a mill-dam. So long as the dam is perfect, things go along smoothly; but let there be the least defect and much havoc is the result. Error is trailing along a remnant behind us. We do not see it, but it is there. It is stepped on, but we do not like it. It is there all right. What we want to do is to get rid of it. Human beings are much like a mass of stone rubbing together to wear off the rough edges. Some will not stand the smoothing process and they drop out, and remain rough.
At a prominent meeting where Mrs. Eddy was present it was noticed that she used a fan. After the meeting I asked her if she knew the most important thing that had happened during the meeting. She said she did not. And I told her it was the fact that she carried a fan. She replied in substance: "I have no patience with such people. What possible difference can it make whether I use a fan or not? I often do such things in public to shield my pupils and students from shallow criticism."
There is a general tendency among us, after we come into Christian Science, to feel it our duty to uncover the error in others, complain about our neighbors, et cetera, and we are often cruel and merciless. It is much easier for us to see faults in others than to look for them within. Be merciful. Mind your own business. Love is the essence of Christian Science. If you love your neighbor there will be no sense of discord.