IT is obvious that any discussion of man's limitations must distinguish clearly, at the outset, between the real, spiritual man of God's creation, and the unreal, mortal man, the offspring of mortal mind. The former has no limitations, but is perfect; and the primary limitation of the latter consists in his inability to understand and know himself. From this primary limitation flow all the others which to human sense have cast him down to the fearful, doubting, dependent being, born of the illusions of mortal consciousness. It is apparent, therefore, that the chief remedy for the shortcomings and weaknesses of man is to teach him to know himself and his true relation to God. Jesus said to his disciples, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." The inference to be drawn from this must be that man is capable of being, or becoming, perfect, and that the power to overcome his limitations rests with him. If he does not overcome them, his limitations, whatever they may be, are self-imposed. "Jesus was the highest human concept of the perfect man. He was inseparable from Christ, the Messiah,—the divine idea of God, outside the flesh" (Science and Health, p. 48). Christian Science teaches us that this state of perfection is the true status of man.
It was left for our Leader to re-affirm the perfection of man, and his ability, and corresponding duty, to shake off his limitations and imperfections, and find man's rightful heritage as the child of God. It is a generally accepted idea that this cannot be done this side of the grave, and that man can be redeemed by death alone. It is certainly anything but a comforting belief that we must die to be saved. How much better to feel that we are here to work out our own salvation, now, and not in the hereafter only, and that every effort put forth in good faith to reach a higher state is a distinct gain, and brings us nearer to the divine ideal. Mrs. Eddy says, "The human capacities are enlarged and perfected, in proportion as humanity gains the true conception of man and God" (Science and Health, p. 25). Therefore, our energies must be directed towards the overcoming of our limitations and the increase of our capacities, —the attainment of a truer and higher conception of God and man. It is a supreme consolation that the mere striving, in good faith and with earnestness of purpose, brings us nearer to God, hence, nearer to that perfect state which knows no limitations. We must learn "that both man and woman proceed from God, and are His eternal children, belonging to no lesser parent" (Science and Health, p. 52); and when this lesson is fully learned, understood, and appreciated, the belief of a mortal man, imperfect, hedged about by limitations which are destructive of his usefulness and happiness, will pass away.
The transitional steps, from mortal mind, in the lowest degree, depravity, to the highest, understanding; from the physical to the moral, and still on to the spiritual, or perfect state, is clearly pointed out in Science and Health, and it is said, "In the third degree mortal mind disappears; and man as God's image appears" (Science and Health, p. 11). Man, as we see him, has not yet reached this stage. Many are seemingly lingering at the starting-point; others are on the way. The revelations of our Leader have again pointed the way that was lost sight of for centuries, and humanity is realizing more and more that it is not the helpless victim of its own limitations, but that the power is within mortals to work out of their imperfections, and that man "as the image of his Maker, reflects the divine might," and "is the master of earth" (Science and Health, p. 51).