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WHERE SHALL TRUE STRENGTH BE FOUND?

From the November 1899 issue of The Christian Science Journal


One of the greatest joys that comes to us after we begin to understand Christian Science is the comforting assurance, the glorious certainty, that God is guiding His children of this age, as surely as he guided the children of Israel in their journey out from bondage into the promised land of liberty and plenty; and we learn that the advice given to them so long ago is equally practical and valuable to us to-day. His wise counsel was certainly intended for every age and clime, and after our eyes are opened by the study of our great text-book, Science and Health, we read the Bible with fresh interest, constantly finding pearls of wisdom and instruction, not for some future state of existence which seems too remote to interest us, but for here and now. Paul writes, "If in this only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." Does it not seem that our old teaching had reversed this statement, teaching us to look simply to a future existence for a cessation of trouble, overlooking the important fact that in this life also there is hope?

The whole world is seeking for strength of some kind, either mental or physical, and it is really pitiful to see its futile attempts to lay up strength by adding more matter to one perhaps already overladen with materiality. Generally this attempt is a dismal failure, and even if it seems to succeed for a time, it only deceives itself, and finally loses what power it had seemed to gain. What a contrast to the recipes given in the Bible! These are sure and never-failing. So simple that a child easily comprehends them, yet too simple, alas, to be apprehended by the worldly minded.

These unerring, divine directions are an endless source of happiness and strength as well as instruction, far more valuable than the so-called wisdom of this world; and a particularly helpful illustration of this may be found in the book of Nehemiah, showing the only sure way of finding strength. After the children of Israel had built the wall around Jerusalem, they were assembled together, and the book, the law of God, was read to them distinctly, the sense was given, and they were made to understand the reading; after which it is recorded that the people wept. Why should they have wept at the explanation of the law of God? Perhaps some wept from remorse over their own shortcomings, but of what avail was the weeping? The only real repentance is shown through reformation, for while it is very easy to mourn over one's mistakes or sins, it is quite another matter to reform; but that is the only repentance which is really worth anything. And also did they not then, as to-day, "whine over the demands of Truth"? (Science and Health, p. 447). The Prophet and those who taught the people rebuked them, commanding them to mourn not nor weep, neither to be sorry, for which admonition an excellent reason was given, namely, that the joy of the Lord was their strength. The eternal law of Good has not changed, since God is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, so if mourning, grieving, and weeping was wrong and a weakness in those days, it is not less so to-day, and equally our strength will be found in the joy of the Lord. Ruskin says. "Men help each other by their joy, not by their sorrow." And why should we not rejoice? God's commandments are never grievous, but like the laws of our land, they are a great protection to all those who keep the law. It is only to the wilful offender that they are a menace. The demands of Truth are good, and are made in love, and should be obeyed in the same spirit of love. Is it truly obedience unless the heart responds joyously to the command? For if we would win the reward of the faithful, we must serve in the spirit as well as in the letter. We are only asked to give up that which, if persisted in, will eventually bring forth sin, sorrow, disease, and death. Who really desires the fruit of the tree of error? Yet if we serve error we shall surely reap its fruit, for how could it pay us, except in its own coin? On the other hand, the fruit of the tree of Life is health, happiness, joy, peace, love,—in fact, its fruit is so rich and abundant that it is impossible for human language to do justice to it. Yet we all long for this fruit with an unspeakable longing, and how we welcome any advice which shows us the way to make it our own! There is no surer way to stand in one's own light than to "whine over the demands of Truth," sitting down in ashes to sympathize with error, whether our own or another's. We need a joyful repentance, a prompt retracing of one's steps when one finds one's self on the wrong road. If the error to be overcome is to human sense a big one, the greater the necessity for buoyancy of thought in order to rise above it, and also the greater the cause for glad gratitude when the way of escape is pointed out. Those who are wise do not count the cost, but pay it willingly out of a generous heart, for "happy is the man that findeth wisdom."

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