For a long time I have been impressed with the necessity of understanding the meaning, and place, from a scientific standpoint, of the word "Confidence." The Century Dictionary defines it, first, "Reliance on one's own powers, resources, or circumstances; belief in one's own competency; self-reliance; assurance." Second, "That in which trust is placed, ground of trust; that which gives assurance of safety, security." Third, "Boldness; courage; disregard or defiance of danger."
Christian Scientists soon learn that confidence in one's own ability, our human sense of strength, human will-power and determination, is misplaced confidence, "a reed shaken with the wind," a house built upon the sand which will not stand. Over and over the statement is made: "I lack confidence,—I would not have confidence enough in myself to take a patient,—I wish I had more confidence," and so on.
Confidence is a mental condition, a quality of Mind, a quality of God. It is God-given; and as God, Good, is no respecter of persons but gives to all men freely all that they will receive, the statement "I lack confidence," is false to begin with. The lack is in my acceptance and right application, but not in the confidence I possess. The very person who is declaring the lack of confidence to succeed in an undertaking does not stop to see that he is very confident of his ability to fail. The disciples toiled all night in the dark and caught nothing. When the Master called, "Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." They were in the same boat, had the same nets, were the same men, were in the same waters; they had but to put their nets on the right side of the boat, even as they were called to decide for Spirit, not matter; Soul, not material sense. Every man, woman, and child has the ability to cast on the right side, and there is no lack of confidence to do so, and they have ability to receive the reward,—full nets. The trouble is, we keep our net on the wrong side, there is plenty of confidence in failure, but little on the side of ability to do and to gain.
"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." We are to work out our salvation,—deliverance from the belief of power in evil of every name and nature,—with fear and with trembling, not to wait until we get out of fear and the trembling has ceased before we attempt to overcome, not to try to get some one to do our work for us, because we know we are shaking, quivering, with a very great sense of fear, but right there where the fear and trembling seem to be, right with it, we are to go to work to prove the problem, knowing that it is God, our Father-Mother omnipotent, all-potent Mind, Love that is all-presence and worketh with us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Is it His pleasure, His will, that we should fail in that which He has bidden us do (resist the devil), is it His will that we should make mistakes? Surely we can answer, "No." Jesus knew the Father, and he says to us: It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom—to give us dominion over whatever comes before us as an obstacle, impediment, difficulty; hindrance to health, holiness, happiness, right living, right thinking, right being. We are to take up the cross daily, take up whatever is opposed to God that crosses our path, not as something, but as the nothingness of nothing, and put it out of the way; lay it bare; show its utter falsity by the understanding that God, Good, is all. We do not lack the confidence or ability to do this. Get the confidence we have on the right side with God, and it will remove mountains of fear, doubt, error.
Fear is faith in evil. Courage is faith in Good. Doubt is trust in evil. Confidence rightly directed is reliance, is trust in God, Good. When we are afraid we can ask ourselves: "Where is my faith?—what am I trusting in, Good or evil, Spirit or matter?" There is no lack of faith, no lack of power to have faith. If we fail it is because our faith is in the wrong thing, and again we must cast our nets on the right side.
When a very young student I was called out of the city to see a woman who had not stood on her feet or sat in a chair for over ten years. Her child, ten years of age, had never seen his mother sitting up. Medical science had entirely failed. My teacher had given my name to the invalid's family and I felt that obedience demanded that I should go. I surely went with fear and trembling. All the way I studied Science and Health, and all the time personal sense argued that some one else should have been sent, that if I should fail the cause of Christian Science would suffer—until I almost wished I could take the train back and send an older practitioner. Then the consciousness came that those in need had not sent for me, that they had sent for Christian Science, for the applied knowledge of God as revealed through our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker G. Eddy. I saw that all that was trembling and fearing had no part in it, could neither hinder nor help, that revealed Truth was to do the work, and it was competent, that I did have confidence in God, and these words came: "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." Also, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." My confidence in God's ability, in the power of the word, began at once to take the place of confidence in my own ability to fail. I left self-reliance behind, and with God-reliance went to the woman, declaring that courage in the name of Jesus Christ is omnipotent now and here to heal, to deliver, to loose from bondage. I was able to remain only about four hours, but before I left the patient, she walked across the room and sat in a chair. The next morning she was dressed and went to her breakfast with the family. That was in 1889, and she has been a well woman ever since.
In this I learned that I must never let fear and trembling keep me from taking the step before me, that I must utilize what I have and improve my present possibilities to the utmost before I can possibly hope to gain more. We must take the first step before we can walk. We do not need confidence in our own ability, but we do need confidence in God's ability and willingness to work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, to give us dominion over all the earth, and we must have the willingness to take the steps and prove to ourselves and others that God is omnipotent.
"Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken."
Moses stands for moral courage. (Science and Health, p. 592.) He showed his confident trust in God against all the murmuring of the Children of Israel, and how they did murmur! Josephus in his description of the crossing of the Red Sea has helped me many times to go ahead. He says,—
"When the Egyptians had overtaken the Hebrews they prepared to fight them, and by their multitude they drove them into a narrow place, for the number that pursued after them was six hundred chariots with fifty thousand horsemen and two hundred thousand footmen, all armed.
"They also seized on the passages by which they imagined the Hebrews might fly, shutting up between inaccessible precipices and the Sea, for there was (on each side) a ridge of mountains that terminated at the Sea, which were interminable because of their roughness, and obstructed their flight. Wherefore they pressed upon the Hebrews with their army where (the ridge of) the mountains were closed with the sea, which army they placed at the chops of the mountains so that they might deprive them of any passage into the Plain."
Then he tells how the Israelites murmured at Moses.
"But Moses, though the multitude looked fiercely at him, did not however give over the care of them, but despised all danger out of his trust in God. When Moses was come to the seashore he took his rod and made supplication to God and called upon Him to be their helper and assist, and he said: 'Thou art not ignorant, O Lord, that it is beyond human strength and human contrivance to avoid the difficulties we are now under, but it must be thy work altogether to procure deliverance to this army which has left Egypt at thy appointment. We despair of any other assistance or contrivance, and have recourse only to that hope we have in Thee, and if there be any method that can promise us an escape by thy providence, we look up to Thee for it, and let it come quickly and manifest thy power to us, and do Thou raise up this people unto good courage and hope of deliverance who are deeply sunk into a desolate state of mind. We are in a helpless state, but still it is a place that Thou possessest; still the sea is Thine, the mountains also that enclose us are Thine, so that these mountains will open themselves if Thou commandest them, and the sea also if Thou commandest it will become dry land. Nay, we might escape by a flight through the air if Thou should determine we should have that way of salvation.'"
Is it any wonder that when such confidence, boldness, courage went before them straight into the sea ("dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear" Science and Health, p. 566), that it should have parted, and that they should have walked through triumphantly? There was but one thing for them to do,—go straight ahead. There is but one thing for us to do,—go straight ahead, neither turning to the right hand nor to the left.
Science and Health says, page 60, "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul."
When I have seemed to be hemmed in on every side,—the army of personal sense behind, the jagged precipices on each side, and the Red Sea before,—these words have strengthened me: "Soul has infinite resources," right here, right now, "with which to bless mankind." I do not have to see these resources with my eyes (personal sense), or handle them with the hands. I do not have to know what they are even. I simply have to accept that inspired statement of Truth that Soul hath them and that they are mine, because I am the heir of God and joint heir with Christ. I must know and acknowledge this fact, and the knowing I have it is the possession, and then I know that this being the spiritual fact, it must be externalized and I can wait with God, using what I already see that I have, improving my present possibilities to the utmost right where I am. I have never known the waters to fail to part, never have failed to find that "resources" beyond anything I could have outlined were there for me and all mankind, and that I only had to confide in Truth and it (the strong deliverer) would carry me through, and in the going through would consume the army of errors, the seeming power of evil.
When I think of our Leader, and Teacher, and remember how she has toiled on through the dark night of personal sense, striving to inculcate in us a ray of confident trust in "our Father-Mother God" so wonderfully revealed to us through her inspired writings, how she has walked step by step before us using Wisdom's rod, and still is leading us on in the march out of error, I wonder that I can ever murmur, ever doubt, and that the fruitage is not far greater than it is. The infinite resources are here, but what do they do for mankind if we do not see that they are here, do not act as possessing all things, do not press forward leaving behind the unbelief, distrust, and fear? Surely we have had abundant proof that evil is powerless to hinder the progress of truth if one stands with God, knowing that Good is omnipotent and omnipresent. There is no lack of confidence, we have the infinite supply. It must, however, be on the right side, on the side of God, not on the side of evil. No need to ask for more if we do not use what we have; as fast as we do use the infinite supply, infinite resource is forever unfolding itself.
Christian Scientists can best show their love to our Leader by following in her footsteps courageously, confidently, patiently, obediently; joyously pressing on, neither too fast nor too slow, but guided by Wisdom, keeping the commandments, for this is the only proof of love that abides.
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world."
Because with well-placed
Thou mak'st the Lord thy sure
Thy refuge, even God
Therefore no ill on thee shall
Nor to thy heaven-protected
Shall overwhelming plagues
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