In the luminous, yet marvelously concise passage with which Mrs. Eddy, on page 503 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," restores to the opening words of the first chapter of Genesis their original spiritual sense, God's creation is described as consisting of "the unfolding of spiritual ideas and their identities." This simple, scientific phrase lifts thought to grasp the reality of that which is spiritual, as distinct from the unreality of that which is palpable only to the physical senses.
The philosophical speculations and poetical yearnings of ages failed to discern in God the one complete reality; and, thus, they have afforded no means for separating true ideas from counterfeits. Uncertain of the former, deluded by the latter, mortals have taken refuge in a materialism that is at once complex and cruel; and it is from this bondage that Christian Science rescues mankind. The passage which has been cited makes it clear that creation is not a miraculous metamorphosis, nor even a painful evolution of material forms; but it is the great fact of eternal Being made manifest through obedience to God's unchanging law.
As soon as the essential oneness and allness of God is apprehended in Christian Science,—the "I am that I am" in the Hebrew characterization, —it becomes apparent that the only instrumentalities of accomplishment are those which He provides; and the student becomes engaged in his happy task of discovering and putting into use those divine instrumentalities. This at once brings him face to face with the opposing claims of the so-called carnal mind,—the principalities and powers of darkness, which, through every avenue afforded by material education and temperament, are continually suggesting the existence of a creative force that is unlike God. Only through Christian Science is a decisive victory over evil possible; for Christian Science alone, as the law of God and man,—Principle and idea,—enables mortals to destroy the seeming effects of evil, separate fact from fiction, relate effect to cause, and efface the sense-testimony which would attach reality to a supposititious material cause.
The student's experience in this warfare, his defeats and triumphs, gradually equip him to know himself, to protect himself from temptation, and to lean on the omnipotence of God with a grateful assurance which deepens with each new proof of the presence and redemptive activity of divine Love. He has learned that disobedience alone can separate him from good. His defense against evil loses none of its vigilance; but his understanding of the falsity of evil is less easily challenged by fear, as his closer walk with God raises his thinking to a deeper perception of his divinely bestowed capacities.
It is in this practical use of divine power that Christian Scientists find limitless scope for employment. The arguments of material sense are always false; and their falsity is proved when we bring within the reach of consciousness the facts of Spirit, which completely reverse error's arguments by wiping them out, so allowing the harmonious, health-giving reality to be made manifest. That which comes from God is always good; it needs only to be used for its healing potency to be experienced. It is always available; and, therefore, is never sought in vain. It is substantial; and, therefore, not subject to any malign influence, which may arrogantly boast of power to supersede the unfolding of good. Much light is thrown on the demonstrable usefulness of good by a careful study of the terms which Mrs. Eddy uses to extend and quicken a scientific conception of God and man. From them we learn to know God through His synonyms, qualities, attributes, faculties, angels and ideas, through His universe including His Christ.
"Man" is "the generic term for all that reflects God's image and likeness" (Science and Health, p. 475). It follows, necessarily, that man's abilities are wholly derived from God. They are guided by infinite intelligence and protected by divine Love. Honesty, health, and abundance, which are God's attributes, unfold in human experience only through use; and closer identification with those attributes is accompanied by unfolding ability and power. To gain a more exact comprehension of an attribute of God, and consistently and painstakingly to translate it into terms of daily experience and activity, is to ally ourselves with the divine order, and to bring more of God into our ways and undertakings. In a message to a branch church, which appears on page 195 of "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," our revered Leader points out the path of progress when she says, "To do good to all because we love all, and to use in God's service the one talent that we all have, is our only means of adding to that talent and the best way to silence a deep discontent with our shortcomings." Material sense cannot bear witness to Life, Truth, and Love; and in the measure that we allow God, divine Mind, to rule our lives, we shall be freed from the belief that material sense has power to rob us of the capacity to use good. Let material sense shriek its loudest! Its threats cannot dislodge a single idea of God from its place in the harmony of the Father's universe. The words, once used by a wise man, "They say. What say they? Let them say! " will serve for our response to the fulminations of error, when we become conscious that our abiding place is under the shadow of the Most High.
God is substance, including all quality, quantity, addition, and multiplication; and we can use spiritual substance to meet every demand upon us, if only we live close enough to God to have made such substance our own, and to have excluded the mortal belief that matter, subject to diminution and decay, can ever be substantial. When every material claim has been paid in full, spiritual substance will still be found intact, and immediately available. In this blessed certainty, the victim of a haunting fear of lack and limitation can find his freedom. "What doth the Lord require of thee . . .?" This: "To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." Working honestly to conform to the requirements of divine Principle, mortal man need not fear that Love's infinite compassion will not sustain him; nor that in his passage through the purifying furnace of affliction he may have to sacrifice aught of his identity, or of his God-given dominion. On the contrary, such an experience can destroy nothing but that false sense which is forever unknown to God. Was it not in a chariot of fire that Elijah gained heaven? The direct calamity is sweetened by the recognition, however faint and halting, that good is eternally present. The threats and forebodings of impending disaster are proved false as we appropriate and use our true and natural selfhood, which is incapable of accepting or harboring evil. Christian Science healing is not difficult of attainment: as in the days when the Master trod the earth, a pure faith suffices to reconcile suffering, sinning man to God, and to open the stricken consciousness to the activities of good, sometimes even when unsought. That which the loving Father-Mother God bestows on simple faith. He will not withhold from those who are earnestly striving to gain an understanding of Him through the Science of being. Only the false dogma of an outworn theology would condemn one to lifelong imperfection, by denying him perfection until he shall first have permitted death to destroy him.
When the healing which we crave, the aid we sorely need, appear to tarry, then is the time for us to ask ourselves how much of good we are really using. God's Science cannot fail, cannot halt, delay, or make hope weary; for Principle inseparably unites cause and effect. But matter and mortality have no Principle; and they cannot see God. To seek healing that we may perpetuate or accommodate either matter or materiality, is not to use good. We must give them up. God in His infinite wisdom will establish the surroundings necessary, or useful, to our perception of good, and will maintain us in them, that the Christ-man may be made manifest. What He establishes, He protects; and it can respond to no corrosive or disturbing influence. His will must be done; and as we yield self-will to His direction, our consciousness will be molded to the divine likeness. The belief of anti-Christ would have us admit that God can be deprived of the manifestation of His power to human consciousness; but we can use our understanding of God's true nature to deny and cast out the claim of anti-Christ. In the book of Job, said to be one of the most ancient of the books of the Old Testament, we read that Job was unjustly deprived of every material possession he held dear, and that "the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."
Thus will divinity ever reward and compensate the love which lifts itself above human malice and hatred. It is on the eternality of good that the Christian Scientist places his reliance. He has confidence that God will accompany him through every temptation to which he may be exposed; because he knows that man abides constantly in the divine Mind, and that at last he will know God so well that he will use only good. Meanwhile, as he advances in the understanding of Truth, he rejoices in every opportunity to separate himself from the belief that man is evil,— that man knows or does evil; and, with Paul, he repeats the heavenly benediction, "My grace is sufficient for thee."