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SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BURNING BUSH

From the July 1938 issue of The Christian Science Journal


Moses tended the flocks of his father-in-law in the desert of Midian. He had fled, a fugitive, from Egypt, where he had by human means attempted to aid his oppressed brethren, the children of Israel. In the solitude of that desert Moses doubtlessly meditated upon "the deep things of God" and pondered their meaning. We are told in Exodus that "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed."

We are further told that Moses turned aside to see why the bush was not burnt. He turned aside from material evidence to behold the indestructible things of Spirit. And when the nature of the spiritual vision was understood, he put off his shoes in humility and awe. This vision transformed him. He could no longer remain a shepherd of sheep; he was called by the voice of God to higher duties and responsibilities. He was directed to return to Egypt to deliver his people from bondage.

His vision of divine reality was to inspire Moses and guide the whole course of his life. He was "very meek," and through divine illumination he became the Hebrew Lawgiver, a prophet, a seer. Lightened by the transcendent presence of God, he led his people through the Red Sea; he smote the rock, and water gushed forth; he gave manna to the hungry. He who saw the fire of that burning bush was to see the fire by night and the cloud by day which symbolized God's protection and guidance of the children of Israel throughout their desert wanderings toward the promised land.

The student of the Scriptures can trace this fire of inspiration, this holy light of Truth which illumines human consciousness, in the experiences of patriarch, prophet, and disciple. It was the same light of Truth which broke upon the consciousness of Jacob, the forefather of Moses, centuries before, in that memorable struggle at Peniel, when he saw "God face to face." The change in Jacob's point of view was so profound, so fundamental, that his name was changed from Jacob, the supplanter, to Israel, "for," as the message declared, "as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."

Led by the same holy light of inspiration. Elijah challenged the priests of Baal and called a nation back to the worship of God, his prayer being answered with fire from heaven which consumed the sacrifice and licked up the water in the trench.

Sometimes this glorious revelation, this light of Love, comes to a sincere seeker with startling force and instant transforming power. At other times much prayer and spiritual growth are required to gain and maintain the vision which holds thought in harmony with the divine plan, no matter what trials, pressure, or persecutions may arise. Note the experiences of the fishermen, Peter, James, and John. They had unsuccessfully toiled all night, fishing in the lake of Gennesaret. The Master told them to launch out into the deep and let down their nets for a draught; and so great was the haul of fishes that their two ships were almost sunk by the weight of them. This was clear evidence to the three disciples that Christ Jesus had something which they needed. So they forsook their nets and boats, and followed him, no longer to catch fish, but, to use the Master's words, henceforth to "catch men."

But spiritual growth was needed for these and the other disciples, who were not strong enough at first to withstand the opposition of mortal mind; so they gladly followed the Master to learn of him. His teachings, his healings, his meekness, his might, were daily before them. They grew in grace and in the power to heal. Then, forty days after the ascension, they had that remarkable Pentecostal experience when "cloven tongues like as of fire" appeared upon them and they "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." This glorious experience exalted them; doubts, fears, inadequacies fled. Exalted and inspired, they went forth to preach the gospel, heal the sick, raise the dead, refute paganism, establish the Christian church, and lead men to discern the kingdom of heaven within.

Because of his divine origin and spiritual vision, Christ Jesus from his youth up was about his Father's business. His birth was signalized by the star in the east and the songs of angels. More clearly than any other he saw the nature of divine verities and the emptiness, the futility, of matter or mortal mind, and its effects—poverty, war, sin, disease, and death. He discerned the allness of Spirit and the nature of man as the eternal, spiritual idea, immune to the claims of sin and disease. So clearly did he see his oneness with God that he could prove by his works his statement, "I am the light of the world;" and in that remarkable experience of the transfiguration on the mountain his oneness with God, the fount of light, was demonstrated. He overcame death and the grave, and in his ascension progressed beyond the claims of matter and mortality. He had healed the sick and sinning by his understanding of Truth, but he gave no exact rules, based upon divine Principle, for healing disease and destroying error. That remained to be brought to men as Christian Science, through the revelation and demonstration of Mary Baker Eddy.

The Apostle Paul's experience was different. He had been grounded in rabbinical law. At first he resisted the knocking of the Christ at the door of his consciousness. But despite his rabbinical zeal, Paul was at heart sincere, honest, and fundamentally a seeker for Truth. And so on the road to Damascus, the illumination which led to his conversion came to him. The light of reality, the same light that illumined Moses' thought as he beheld the burning bush, burst upon his consciousness. The zealot no longer resisted Truth. He was changed. Bigotry, prejudice, ritualistic devotion to the letter of the law vanished, and behold the man, no longer Saul the persecutor, but Paul the Christian, reborn, transformed, who later became the Apostle to the Gentiles, the preacher of Christianity to the pagan world. Paul's change of heart was complete; he never swerved from loyalty to that vision on the Damascus road. Persecutions, scourgings, imprisonment, slander, hate, malice, and even impending death, were powerless to divert him from his course. With deep-toned sincerity, he could at length humbly declare, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, . . . and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

How like the experiences of prophet and apostle were those of Mary Baker Eddy! Toward the close of the third century the practice of spiritual healing had sadly disappeared from the early Christian church. Dogma, creed, tradition, bigotry largely ruled it. Mrs. Eddy faced the materialism of the unbelieving world. From childhood she had faith in God, and for years ceaselessly sought the spiritual cause of all things. She says in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 107), "God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing."

Spiritual light came to Mrs. Eddy gradually, until it glowed in pristine splendor to her exalted consciousness. In 1866 she had a vision of health, healing, and freedom so profound, so startling, so transforming, that it changed her entire outlook on life. She saw that all reality is spiritual, and that material sense is a dream. So clear was that vision, so impressive, so precious, that she held to it through all the years that followed with unwavering trust in God, divine Life and Love, the creator of all things.

Speaking of this revelation she says (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 23): "Thus it was when the moment arrived of the heart's bridal to more spiritual existence. When the door opened, I was waiting and watching; and, lo, the bridegroom came! The character of the Christ was illuminated by the midnight torches of Spirit. My heart knew its Redeemer. He whom my affections had diligently sought was as the One 'altogether lovely,' as 'the chiefest,' the only, 'among ten thousand.' Soulless famine had fled. Agnosticism, pantheism, and theosophy were void. Being was beautiful, its substance, cause, and currents were God and His idea. I had touched the hem of Christian Science."

Thus she entered upon the application of the Science of Life to human affairs. As Mrs. Eddy grew in understanding she was enabled to give to the world her elucidation of this exact Science in Science and Health, so that every sincere seeker for reality may share in this eternal unfoldment of Truth which banishes fear, poverty, disease, and conquers death and the grave.

The world owes a profound debt of gratitude to patriarch and prophet for their faithfulness and courage, and to Christ Jesus for making this light of divine inspiration available. Down through the centuries their words and deeds have been beacon lights, guiding humanity in its search for the real and eternal. Without their work, their prayers, their vision, how dark our outlook would be! Our endless gratitude goes out to our faithful Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, who, through consecrated study of the Bible, through her prayers and labor, was enabled to make plain to benighted mortals the spiritual import of the Bible in the Science of Mind, which heals all mortal ills.

When this revelation of the light of Truth came to the heroic characters of the Bible, to Christ Jesus, and to Mary Baker Eddy, the call came not to lives of ease and inaction, but to careers of toil, sacrifices, and self-denials. Moses, facing many trials, led the children of Israel through the wilderness. Christ Jesus taught and healed in village and wayside, and met relentless persecution. Mrs. Eddy devoted her life to making clear the Science of Christianity. She answered bitter hostility with scientific logic and healing works, and ceased not for an instant to carry out her high and lofty purpose.

How glorious the heritage of all who love God and seek His law! The light of divine Science is for all men, and today Christian Scientists, with faces to the light, are repeating in some degree the experiences of prophet, apostle, and Christ Jesus. They are seeing that which transcends time and space and lays hold of the infinite. This light is not terrestrial; it comes direct from God, omnipotent good. This vision is changing the lives of Christian Scientists; and they are learning how to work and pray from the standpoint, not of matter, but of Spirit. They deny the claims of matter and declare the eternal facts of Spirit. This vision of the Christ is their most precious possession; they would not change it for all the jewels of Golconda; nothing else can compare with it. It is precious beyond price, because it unfolds the enduring and good.

A Christian Scientist was called to the bedside of a patient who, in belief, was suffering from gallstones. The Christian Scientist denied the evidence of the senses, and silently repeated this statement from the Christian Science textbook (p. 496): "Hold perpetually this thought,— that it is the spiritual idea, the Holy Ghost and Christ, which enables you to demonstrate, with scientific certainty, the rule of healing, based upon its divine Principle, Love, underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being."

The Scientist had not fully completed repeating this statement when the presence of spiritual illumination was felt. The patient's body relaxed, and she was healed. When we reach this spiritual consciousness, healing is instantaneous. It is the tireless energy of Spirit which heals.

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