Christianity can have but one object, and that is redemption. It is redemptive both in Principle and in practice. Its whole purpose is to bring about complete satisfaction, or happiness in the fullest sense of the word. As a consequence it provides no period of waiting and prescribes no processes of suffering antecedent to the fullness of its joys. It has no theories by which complete salvation can suffer procrastination for a single hour. No factors other than Truth and the infinite ideas which reveal Truth are essential to that redemptive method of pure scientific Christianity, given to the world by Mary Baker Eddy in Christian Science. Consequently prophecy, considered in the light of Christian Science, assumes aspects unrecognized by any other system of religion. If the mission of prophecy were merely to tabulate future events chronologically and await their coming, or if it were true that what the prophets saw in mortal mind must inevitably happen, then Christianity would not be redemptive at all; it would be fatalistic; and that this is exactly what it has been to the Christian world, is constantly being illustrated. Let some unusual disaster happen to mankind, especially if it be of such a nature as to involve nations in war, then some one is pretty sure to inform us that it was foretold in the Bible, and therefore had to happen.
Now such theories are not only hopeless, but they tend to make mankind helpless. They give to Christianity the artificial aspects of fatalism and mysticism which belong to paganism only, whereas Christianity as explained in Christian Science is open, clear, and free as the noonday. It is founded upon Principle, God, and is demonstrable according to pure spiritual law.
For this reason its blessings are not to be postponed. They have their being in God. They are His plan and purpose and express His omnipotence and omnipresence. For this same reason one does not have to wait for them. In order to possess all things which Jesus said the Father hath given to the Son (Principle has given to idea) only one thing is essential, and that is enlightenment.
Without enlightenment Truth's omnipresence is of no avail to humanity. Christ Jesus is the Savior of mankind because he illustrates this pure and complete enlightenment, the one thing needful in all redemptive work. But enlightenment has seemed to come to mankind in past ages only through cycles of time and by means of a kind of development. Accordingly it has been generally conceded that the prophets could foresee both good and evil, but that they had no power to prove the one or forestall the other. Yet in many instances they, through inspiration, availed themselves of the power of good and prevented and overcame evil, and in this manner they most effectively prophesied the appearing of the Christ, the divine idea of God that heals and saves.
The common tendency to omit the metaphysical character of prophecies and to make them dependent upon futurity, has not only obscured their meaning but has robbed them of their inherently redemptive influence. Mankind have found in this theory of futurity sufficient reason to excuse themselves rather than to reform themselves, and quite justifiably so; for if it were true that evil events being perceived could not be prevented, if they were sure to happen in spite of everything, then it would be useless to struggle against them, and any system of salvation would not be superior to evil, but subject to evil, because subject to the false unfoldment of evil.
Christian Science is the "dispensation of the fulness of time" spoken of in the Bible, because it is the fullness of everything. It is not mere human development, but is the Science of being. Thus in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 82) Mrs. Eddy, speaking of John the Baptist, writes: "He who knew the foretelling Truth, beheld the forthcoming Truth." This defines the true character of prophecy. Anything that was true in the time of the prophets was and is eternally true. Then as now all good in completeness and perfection was self-existent as Mind, intelligence, God; and all evil, which Mrs. Eddy denominates mortal mind, or more specifically animal magnetism, then as now existed as a false claim or illusion or supposition. Then as now mortal mind had beginning and ending throughout all of its seeming ramifications, and required time and process of thought and development. Then as now divine Mind was self-existent and required no time and no processes of thought, but was then as now spontaneous, immediate, fully developed, and eternal both as cause and effect. Thus eternity, the very nature of Mind or true Being, is, contrary to common belief, seen to be a joyful fact.
In this connection it has been well said that Christian Science is the redeemer of consciousness. This is the practical value of the Bible, including prophecy. If one were to perceive something wrong in his own character, would one permit it to develop? In Christian Science one corrects things both inside and outside of himself only in the proportion that he corrects his own consciousness of them. The Bible, when metaphysically read, makes this clear and shows unmistakably that this is the most effective way, and, in the last analysis, the only way to bring about individual and universal reformation and redemption. Unquestionably such a system is scientific in the highest sense, for the simple but irrefutable reason that it deals with thoughts exclusively, and it ought not to be difficult for any thinker to recognize this fact.
Now it is unequivocally admitted that science has accomplished wonders. What incalculably greater wonders it shall accomplish as a true system of education founded upon Principle removes the materialism commonly associated with science and reveals the boundless and demonstrable possibilities of infinite Mind and its infinite ideas, no one can say. In view of this it should not be difficult to understand that the remedy for all evil is absolute Science—Christian Science.
In the book of Revelation, as understanding is depicted emerging from the turmoil and struggle between evil and good, and as taking on the nature of omniscience, there shines forth the promise, "Behold, I make all things new." This I, or Ego, is revealed as infinity in Christian Science, and from the very necessity of the case infinity cannot repeat itself. Infinity unfolds itself infinitely. Therefore, reflecting Truth, infinity, in our practice, it is our privilege and duty to fulfill prophecy in righteousness,—that is, scientifically, —and to see that it is not otherwise fulfilled. Waiting for something to happen is certainly not Christian Science.
This unfoldment, this originality and versatility of being, is pure Science. The truly spiritually inspired among the prophets saw this spiritual idea as the Christ, and saw also the opposition to it in the so-called human consciousness. They did not and could not see farther than that. Today, through Christian Science, we are enabled to recognize such opposition as mere negation or error. We reject it as such and know that it cannot gain nor maintain attention or expectancy in human consciousness. Without doubt they would have done the same if they had known enough. Jesus said to his disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."
Sometimes the ancient writings, in spite of all that has obscured them, unmistakably indicate that the writers caught glimpses of pure metaphysics, and it would be manifestly incorrect to interpret otherwise. Thus in Isaiah we have the affirmation and denial of Christian Science set forth to those who have eyes to see, in the words, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Undoubtedly this apocalyptical nature of much of the Old Testament would be more generally apparent but for the mistakes and omissions due to translation and transmission.
Mrs. Eddy in her works shows in many places what mortal mind claims to embody in belief and what will be its evil unfoldment in belief unless restrained and frustrated. Her books constitute a vigilant, vital protest against evil, whether foretold or already in evidence, and she unmistakably shows that the time to prevent or overcome evil is always now.
Any view of prophecy which makes sin and suffering inevitable, or which makes progress contingent upon either the one or the other, is contrary to Christian Science. On page 233 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes: "Ye who can discern the face of the sky,—the sign material,—how much more should ye discern the sign mental, and compass the destruction of sin and sickness by overcoming the thoughts which produce them, and by understanding the spiritual idea which corrects and destroys them." This is our business with prophecy, and our only business with it. Every other view of prophecy tends to cause an expectancy of evil as being imminent and certain, and to place a gulf of incalculable time between us and our inalienable and ever present rights and blessings as set forth in the promises.
The fact is that all good is now. There never will be more good than there is now, and there never need be more. To maintain a mental attitude which postpones our blessings tends to deprive us of them. It is ignorance, and the consequent acceptance of prevailing belief, which says that blessings come to us only after a long time, when the fact is that they can come to us only through Science, and Science is not time, but enlightenment.
For this reason books written from the ordinary theological standpoint about the prophecies and promises, although often interesting, are misleading. They are not founded upon the Science of Christianity, and therefore are not purely metaphysical. We are all interested, for instance, in Anglo-Israel. These hyphenated words express a beautiful promise, but Anglo-Israel is not a race of people. It is a condition or state of enlightenment or demonstrable understanding. Real Anglo-Israel or anything else that is true of Israel is to be found in Mrs. Eddy's definition on page 583 of Science and Health: "Children of Israel. The representatives of Soul, not corporeal sense; the offspring of Spirit, who, having wrestled with error, sin, and sense, are governed by divine Science; some of the ideas of God beheld as men, casting out error and healing the sick; Christ's offspring;"and we shall have to come to this before Anglo-Israel can appear.
So with symbolism; it has its function, which is that of illustration, but no symbol in spiritual teaching is ever equal to the spiritual fact symbolized, nor does the symbol fully show forth the fact; only as thought rises to discard the symbol as a stepping stone, is the symbol properly classified and understood. Not infrequently this proper function of symbolism is lost sight of, and symbolism becomes a kind of obsession. Many a student has lost his hold on Christianity through the study of symbolism. The East in ancient times, and even now to a great extent, teemed with symbolism. It was incidental to esoteric thought. Christian Science is utterly unlike esoteric thought, and therefore when symbolism is employed in Christian Science it is only by way of illustration, and as the servant, not the master of thought.
Without doubt symbolism characterized even the architecture and monuments of many ancient nations, but it must be remembered that their symbolism did not save those peoples, and that it would not save us even if we could know all they meant by it. So far from perceiving the unreality of matter, those nations believed in matter much more than in spirit. For this reason their monuments, interesting and inspiring as they often are, afford no fund of information that is of value to a Christian Scientist. If we knew all about them, including their mathematical measurements, and knew what the builders intended to convey by certain geometrical proportions, we would not thereby be able to heal a single case of disease or save a single sinner. All the theories that have been advanced about the ancient monuments and all the books that have been written to expound such theories are not worth a single one of the many instructive and sanative passages with which our textbook abounds.
In the Apocalypse John, after a passage of striking eloquence, resolves prophecy into true metaphysics in the words, "There should be time no longer," which no doubt is intended to be imperative rather than either conditional or future. The majesty and eternal omniscience of Mind in Christian Science dominate human history, destroying the limitations of time and space. Omniscient Mind does away with the negative development by which evil is perpetuated with wearisome repetitions through centuries, and repeats and requires, "There should be time no longer."
Just as true prayer is not only expectancy but recognition, so true prophecy is not only anticipation but fulfillment; for God has prophesied nothing else but blessings for His man and His universe, and has nothing to bless them with except Love. Anything that builds up evil is not true in prophecy because it is not true in Science. The prophet Ezekiel warns against "seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken."
Jesus declared the first and great command to be, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." One cannot love God objectively. One loves God only as one reflects Love, or as one loves man and creation as God loves them; and Jesus expresses this fact also in unmistakable terms by the further declaration, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." There is no other way in which to love God. Knowing this clearly and seeing it fully, Jesus summarized the whole value of the Hebraic law and of the prophets in the words, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."