While greeting all who are Christian Scientists with the pleasure arising from sympathy of thought and aim and feeling, I shall address myself more particularly to those who are not of our number or belief, for I know that those who are already one with us will listen patiently to that which they have heard before for the sake of the possibility that others may find some objection removed or find a stimulus to search for themselves along the path which we believe to be the path of Truth. In fact, this is our real object. Yet I trust no one will suppose that I imagine for a moment that the entire subject can be compassed off-hand, or that I can so present it as to remove all the objections which may arise. It requires time to master that to which we are unaccustomed, particularly if the thing to be mastered is contrary to preconceived ideas.
We see the sun and moon rise, take their course in an apparent arch over our heads, and sink below the horizon; we saw them thus as children and we see them thus now, as undeniably as every untutored savage has seen them from the beginning. I well remember my incredulous astonishment when told that neither of these bodies does what it seems to do; that their apparent daily movement is an illusion of the senses. I remember my greater astonishment when, after having been taught that earth and moon moved in elliptical orbits, I was again told that they were elliptical only in their relation to the bodies around which they passed—that their true paths were exceedingly long drawn out spirals and not ellipses at all. The statement that men could measure the diameters of these wondrous orbs, calculate their distances, determine their weights, overwhelmed me with unbelief. Where was the heavenly yard-stick which could be applied to such infinitudes? Who the magician to traverse the roadless space and apply the unit of measure if he had one? When geometry and trigonometry became familiar there was still a difficulty; we were on a body sweeping through space many times faster than the swiftest cannon ball, and at all times changing its distance from the sun; on a body revolving with great velocity upon its axis so that angles and base lines upon it must rapidly change their relation to the distance lines to be measured. How could such inconstant lines and angles ever be determined? The idea seemed preposterous.
But this was not the only series of problems which my young mind had to grapple, nor the only one requiring prolonged and earnest thought for mastery. Not only would it be impossible to learn but it would be impossible to present any new system of thought in a moment. Whole volumes are devoted to systems of economics, whole volumes to theology, whole volumes to metaphysics, because it would not be possible to clearly and cogently present them otherwise. Statements might be made which would cover most of the basic facts, but they would have to go unillustrated and unproved. To be shown to be probable, to be made clear and irrefutable, requires time—much more of it than can be found in one short lecture. The grand harmony of truth in Christian Science, some of the outlines of which I wish to present to you, is no exception to the law that that which is best worth getting must be worked for. So different is it from accustomed lines of faith and thought that one anxious for others to listen to its gospel is sorely puzzled to know just how to approach and touch it in order to accomplish the most in the least time. I am conscious that in an attempt to tell you its truths and aims I must make statements sure to arouse objections which will at first seem as strong to the minds in which they arise as my objections to facts in astronomy and physics once seemed to me, but which I am equally sure, on honest and thorough investigation, you will find to be as baseless as they were. But I will do the best I can, and which is better, will point you to sources from which you may obtain answers to all your queries if you shall care to do so.