In a little book by Professor Drummond we read: "Every one has asked himself the great question of antiquity as of the modern world: What is the summum bonum—the supreme good? You have life before you. Once only you can live it. What is the noblest object of desire, the supreme gift to covet?" He then goes on to speak of faith and the need of possessing it, and quotes from Paul, "If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (Rev. Ver.); to which he adds Paul's striking climax: "Now abideth faith, hope, love, . . . but the greatest of these is love." Professor Drummond therefore called his book "The Greatest Thing in the World," and so beautiful is it, and so unanswerable, that Mrs. Eddy once said she had intended to write such a book herself, but Professor Drummond had done it so well that he had saved her the effort.
Professor Drummond reminds us that Peter says, "Above all things have fervent love among yourselves," and that John goes even farther in his declaration that "God is love." Love being the greatest thing in the world, it should and does demand our attention. What greater need is there than that we should contemplate it, desire it, and possess it? Love is the potent factor in all good. We may safely say that the work which Scientists do for humanity, the work which tells, the work which brings about demonstration, is inspired by this wonderful love, the greatest thing in the world. When love for humanity takes possession of the heart, it dominates every other affection and desire, unless we except the love for God which is so akin to it. This love for our fellows manifests itself in a constant effort to benefit mankind. Throughout the ages men and women have abandoned the home life, with its beautiful conditions and accompaniments, and devoted themselves unselfishly to the amelioration of sorrow, sickness, sin, and death itself. All this has been done without the knowledge of Christian Science, without the understanding which alone can utterly destroy these enemies of the happiness of man.
This love, the reflection of the Love which we call God, good, is ever impelling us to greater effort, and we cannot afford to ignore His call to a higher life, since only by the measure of the love we entertain in our hearts can we be assured that we are reflecting the divine. "Love is impartial and universal" (Science and Health, p. 13); and is our rock, our bulwark, and our defense. It is also the energy which moves creation; it is the fountain of effort; it is the essence of all true power. It is inexorable in demands which can be answered only by itself. The sooner we become at-one with it, banishing from consciousness everything unlike God, good, the sooner we become allied with the motive power of the universe.
Wherever we may be, no matter how humble and seemingly unattractive our surroundings, Love can be relied upon to relieve any discomfort of our environment. Whatever our occupation or duty, the manifestation of divine Love ever begets harmony and smooths our way. It puts aside obstruction, wraps us in the folds of infinite compassion, and brings us a consciousness of the effulgence and glory of the divine presence. Whatever our sins, our sufferings, our woes, or our mistakes, Love with its infinite law casts these beliefs into the outer darkness, the nothingness of oblivion, and clothes us in the shining raiment of purity, health, and perfection.
To understand Love means to heal the sick; to manifest Love means to bless mankind. "Clad in the panoply of Love," as Science and Health tells us (p. 571), "human hatred cannot reach you." It is the destroyer of evil, the fulfilment of the law. Do we as Christian Scientists sufficiently understand this? Do we believe it? Do we strive for the presence of this heavenly visitor in consciousness? Are we sure that we want it? When we subject thought to Love's tests, do we wonder why our patients are not always healed, why we are not happy, why our demonstrations lag, why our consciousness is barren of health and joy and peace and dominion?
Mrs. Eddy says: "Keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them" (Pamphlet, What Our Leader Says). A mind so filled dominates whatever would oppose the truth, be it sickness, sin, misfortune, or distress of any kind. The hem of the garment, the outermost circle of thought of such a one, effects healing by its touch. In this thought there must be no envy, no criticism, no ambition, no hatred, no malice, not even the unkind avoidance of one's fellows: nothing but the loving desire to reflect the divine consciousness.
In the article on Obedience found in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 117), Mrs. Eddy says, "Obedience is the offspring of Love; and Love is the Principle of unity, the basis of all right thinking and acting; it fulfils the law." It is therefore seen that the manifestation of Love which we have been urging, requires obedience to the divine Principle of Life, and to find and understand its rule is the duty of the Christian Scientist. That there should be any divergence of opinion as to the rule governing Scientists is one of the lamentable facts which mortal mind prescribes, and one which Scientists have to meet. The attainment of unity of opinion as to the duty and the rule governing Christian Scientists is one of the problems to be solved,through the understanding of the ever-presence and all-power of Love.
That people should differ sometimes regarding questions pertaining to the application and use of Science, is not surprising. Only in axioms and fundamental truths do we find solid ground beneath our feet. These fundamentals of Science, its absolute statements, its positive declarations, its self-evident propositions, we might liken, for purposes of illustration, to the structure or framework of a building. These must conform to the laws of architecture. In order to provide shelter, to be strong, to be able to support its roof, its floors, and the weight that will rest upon it and in it, the structure must scientifically meet all the demands which will be made upon it. But when it comes to the material used in its walls, its ornamentation, its color, its shape, etc., the drapery, so to speak, of the building, it is permitted that climate, environment, expense, taste, and the purpose for which it is constructed, shall govern.
Likewise in the externalization of scientific understanding in man, after the demands of absolute Science are complied with, he is influenced by the class to which he belongs, his environment, his education, the work to which he decides that his understanding must be applied, and by the mental attitude in which Science finds him. Nevertheless, the fundamentals, if properly understood, will influence every part of his being and every line of his thought.
If two men who were different in race, color, and training were to become interested in Science at the same time, it is probable that their ways would immediately begin to converge, and ultimately they would think much alike on all important subjects. But during this convergence, we can readily see that although the impulsion was the same in each, in belief it would be a long time before the influences that seemingly control mankind could be sufficiently overcome to render them very similar. In our intercourse with our fellows it seems that this condition of things should be recognized, and that we should make due allowance in our estimate of one another for these secondary manifestations. Everything that is not Science is its opposite; this we know and all admit; but every time we meet some one who differs from us in opinion or in the apprehension of scientific rule and action, we need not necessarily think that he must therefore be avoided and condemned. Science should make us very loving, very compassionate and forgiving.
Because we are Scientists we well know the temptations and pitfalls through which a Scientist must wend his way; because we are Scientists we know the influences which abound in the human mind and how wary and industrious one must be to pursue his course without encountering them; and because we are Scientists we also know that the only man there is, is the image and likeness of God, without blemish and without spot. Hence, we have to consider only the condition of thought which we believe governs our neighbor in the main, and to forgive an occasional lapse from what we regard as perfection, even as we would desire him to forgive us under like circumstances. The rain falls "on the just and the unjust;" the sun shines alike upon the green pastures and upon the desert, which seemingly derives no benefit therefrom, and we are told that "God is no respecter of persons;" so the love that is nearest to the divine, "the greatest thing in the world," dwelling in the hearts of men, not only blesses the near and dear ones, but impersonally blesses every one and everything that the thought of that man embraces.
Speaking of this silent influence of love, Professor Drummond relates: "In the heart of Africa, among the great lakes, I have come across black men and women who remembered the only white man they ever saw before, —David Livingstone; and as you cross his footsteps in that dark continent, men's faces light up as they speak of the kind doctor who passed there years ago. They could not understand him; but they felt the love that beat in his heart."
By attuning our hearts to the God who is Love, and by reflecting His radiance upon all that surrounds us, the beauty of our lives will brighten and bless, not only our own pathway, but the pathway of the many who tread with us the rugged road that leads from sense to Soul, where Love is supreme over all.
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