When Christ Jesus made the startling declaration, "Before Abraham was, I am," he not only referred to the eternality of universal Truth, but also to his own pre-existence as the individual son of God, an individual instance of divine reflection. It will be readily seen that these words apply to all the individual sons of God, just as they did to Jesus, the Christ.
Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 267): "It is generally conceded that God is Father, eternal, self-created, infinite. If this is so, the forever Father must have had children prior to Adam. The great I am made all 'that was made.' Hence man and the spiritual universe coexist with God." But the fact of man's eternal existence, the eternal continuity of his being as the conscious reflection of divine Mind, or Spirit, does not imply pre-existence of a material nature. Neither does it imply previous or subsequent incarnations or reincarnations of finite souls or spirits. Such a belief is not scientifically Christian.
How or why one has seemed to get into this so-called human existence, this dream of mortality with its accompanying vicissitudes, is not so important a question as how one can get out of it. Therefore, from the present moment of our conscious experience, from where Christian Science finds us today, what we need is to let our outlook on existence be directed toward the time when, through the understanding and demonstration of Christ in Christian Science, we shall have achieved complete freedom from the belief that life is mortal. Therefore we should avoid becoming involved in vain questioning as to why we seem to find ourselves in a condition or experience from which we need to be saved, and should hold our thought more and more to the great fact stated by our Leader on page 428 of Science and Health, "Man is, not shall be, perfect and immortal."
Likewise, conjecture with regard to the so-called future life, the hereafter, the probationary experience beyond the grave, should be avoided. What shall I be like after I pass through the belief of death? seems to be a fascinating question to some, but it is one which is sufficiently answered in the Gospel record of the experience of Jesus after his resurrection, and in Mrs. Eddy's explanation of that experience in our textbook and in her other writings.
Nothing that can be said on this subject, no matter how satisfying it may be to our curiosity, could possibly be of greater value to us in working out our salvation from mortality than the comforting assurance in the first epistle of John, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." Why? Because the "sons of God," ideas of divine Mind, obviously are coexistent with that Mind which is eternal Life. The sons of God were never born into a human, mortal experience and are not, therefore, under the necessity of being extricated from it.
What we need in working out our salvation from the evil beliefs, the fears, the perplexities of human experience, is the understanding that, speaking absolutely, we never were in such an experience or condition. Paradoxical as it may seem, the only thing that will ever save us from this seeming condition of mortality is the understanding that in reality we were never in it. What we most need, therefore, is to get into our thinking more of the continuity of being. "Before Abraham was, I am"!
If one is asleep and dreaming, especially if his dream has taken on somewhat the nature of a nightmare, what he most needs is to be awakened. When he is fully awake, he will no longer be troubled by the experiences of the sleeping dream, no longer horrified by the grotesque awfulness of the nightmare. When fully aroused, he will realize that the dream is no part of his awakened consciousness, and that the nightmare was never a part of his normal sense of well-being. So, we who seem to be existing in a dream of mortality, accompanied as it sometimes appears to be by the nightmare of disease and the incubus of sin, need most of all to be awakened to the true sense of Life. That immortal Life which is without beginning or end includes for us now and always an abundant sense of health and harmony.
"Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Awake! all who are dreaming the dream of materiality! As we rise above the inevitable mortality of the dream, Christ, the spiritual idea of God, gives us the light of divine intelligence by means of which we discern and lay hold upon Life and its sinless joy. Thus we shall become fully conscious of our coexistence with the divine Being, which is God; and this is deathless life.
It is only to the false, finite, human, material, mortal sense of those who are on what we are pleased to term "this plane of existence" that anyone ever seems to be born or to die. But there are not, in reality, two or more "planes" of existence. There is just one, the spiritual plane, and the real man never existed on any other plane. The only man there ever was or ever will be is the spiritual kind, the immortal kind. What he knows, as the reflection of God, is what he is. On page 266 of Science and Health we read: "Man is deathless, spiritual. He is above sin or frailty. He does not cross the barriers of time into the vast forever of Life, but he coexists with God and the universe."
There is nothing more certain than the fixity and performance of man who is created in God's image and likeness, and there is nothing more certain than that we are in truth that man now. So why spend time in idle questioning about what may become of a mortal man who is not and never was, never will be, any part of the reality of being? Human sense would claim that there are two of us, a mortal self and an immortal one, a material as well as a spiritual individuality; but in reality there are not two, but one, the right one, the spiritual one, the sinless one; and that one is now, always was, and always will be at one with immortal Life.
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