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CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: ITS COMPASSIONATE APPEAL

From the April 1905 issue of The Christian Science Journal


Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.—Jesus.

The compassionate appeal of Christian Science to the world meets with response most frequently from people who are in trouble; from them that cry, them that are acquainted with anguish of mind and body, or that have been bruised by man's inhumanity to man. Why is this so? It is because of the incomparable promise of Christian Science and of its fulfilment. You may search every system of religious and scientific belief, explore the vast network of philosophy and human reasoning, and you will find that no one of them, nor all combined, promises so much to the man who is in hell on earth, as does Christian Science. Nothing offers such assurance for his hope. If you will collect the testimony of every school or phase of religious, philosophic, or scientific endeavor, concerning the definite benefits thereof to mankind, and compare such testimony with the testimony of the beneficiaries of Christian Science, you will learn that not one of the former effects, or even claims to effect, such a comprehensive list of manifold benefits as are palpable in the indestructible facts of Christian Science practice.

Such statements as these may appear to be aggressive and monopolistic, because of their unbending positiveness of assertion. I will not stop now to justify this incisive quality, which is always incidental to scientific utterance and which Burr so aptly named "the effrontery of truth," but will beg the reader to remember that Christian Science does not ask any one to believe anything that he cannot prove to be true; to remember, also, that it is a demonstrable Science; a knowledge of which is manifested in conclusive proof. Would you ask for more than this? Will anything less than demonstrable truth ever serve to extricate humanity from its dire distress? Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

The ranks of Christian Science include thousands who have been delivered from desperate, unbearable conditions. Although many a league still lies between them and manifested perfection, they know that they are actors in the most stupendous business to which this race will ever give attention; namely, the extinction or obliteration of sin, disease, every kind of evil that infests humanity. The indisputable facts of Christian Science healing are attracting the multitude, and, in geometrical ratio, its numerical strength is being rapidly augmented by those who come to inquire and to learn. The man or woman who, wandering along the borderland of Christian Science, finally decides to cross the frontier and seek abode within its comforting shelter, is entitled to the loving hospitality of every one who has himself been redeemed from a dark or painful experience. Without disposition to force the attention of any one to this subject, or to be over officious in the way of importunity and advice, these words are written in the hope of making easier the pathway of those whose footsteps have been among thorns.

In delivering a lecture at one time, I dwelt somewhat on the subject of hell, and learned that a lady who was in the audience, afterwards said, "Well! I think that the lecturer spoke very disrespectfully concerning hell." The lady was right, I have no respect whatever for hell. I have been in it and through it, and know it to be an abomination and a fraud, entitled only to the execration of mankind. It is an individual state of wretched consciousness, utterly unlike God, or His nature, or the conceded essentials of His being. It is an illegitimate monstrosity which has no verity, no immortality, nor right to exist. After "the pangs of hell" had seized me and impinged upon me their torments, I was rescued through the operative efficacy of Christian Science. Then the tears began to dry, the tension of fear to relax, the gloom was dispelled, despair lost its hold, the pain decreased and at last vanished. I "would not overstate my woe," for, be that as it may, I know that a mighty, satisfying impulsion extricated me from as outrageous a hell as any one need know, and ushered me into the vestibule of heaven by means of a transformation of consciousness, whereby existence seemed more fair, and the obduracy of distress gave way to a certain measure of the peace to which man is lawfully entitled. Having come upon the scene of Christian Science by traversing nearly all the way from a waiting grave, I have learned something of the besetments that would hinder, and sometimes do hinder, the sufferer who seeks escape from his direful fate and who needs to find the divine equipment by which to gain a mastery over that fate and its woe. It is therefore fitting that I refer to some of the questions and mistakes which sometimes puzzle and distract the newcomer. One of these takes form in the objection to the use of the term Christian Science, on the plea that it involves a misuse of the word "science." This phase of criticism is always the result of unfamiliarity with the technical definition and legitimate import of the word. As a matter of fact there are no other words in the English language which would more correctly or adequately serve the purpose for which the words Christian Science are employed. This term is used legitimately to indicate that Christian Science is a definite, systematic, and demonstrable statement of the truth about the Christianity of Christ; the truth about God, man, and the universe. It will hardly be denied that there is such a thing as the truth about God, man, and the universe, and it ought not to be denied that the truth of or about Christianity is the Science of Christianity; hence it is amazing that a person having access to a dictionary should contend that the conjoined words Christian Science constitute a misnomer. Christian Science and Christian knowledge are synonymous terms, and their use is justified according to the same rule and propriety which justify the use of the word omniscience.

It is sometimes said, "I think Christian Science is a beautiful religion, but I am not ready to espouse it, because I fear that it will require me to give up so much." One reason why Christian Science is a beautiful religion is that it does not require one to give up anything that is good or that will result in good for him. It calls for the abandonment of nothing but misery and that which causes misery. It sanctions everything that makes for the happiness, health, welfare, and life of man and interdicts only that which inevitably makes for the desolation, the bankruptcy, the collapse of human existence. It shows that it is evil alone which lures mortals from their own prosperity by the fatuous pretence that sin can confer any semblance of joy that does not contain the sting of suffering.

It is frequently said, "I would like to know about Christian Science, but it seems to be so hard to understand." Now, on the contrary, Christian Science is simplicity itself, and the difficulty is elsewhere than in the intrinsic substance and presentation of the subject. In her work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy writes of a person who at an early age was confined in a darkened dungeon, wherein he lived for years. Later on, when liberated and taken into the light, he was greatly distressed by what was, to him, an unnatural experience, and he begged to be returned to his accustomed habitat, and to what, to him, seemed to be a normal estate. His contact with the light, and the sounds that he heard, excited him painfully and were most trying. He had become so accustomed to the abnormal that proper conditions were intolerable and incomprehensible to him.

An explanation somewhat parallel with this narrative may be offered at this point. There are millions of people who will say they believe that God is good, that God is Life, that God is perfect and changes not, and that He is infinite. These same people will also say they believe that God procures or has instituted sickness and death, and that He gives permission to evil and its activity. Persons who commonly subscribe to these two propositions suppose that they understand them and that it is easy to understand them. But these two statements of the deific nature are directly opposed to each other, hence both of them cannot be true, nor can they possibly be amalgamated. No one who gives assent to them can ever understand what they really mean. I know of nothing in the range of thought that ought more promptly to elicit the protest that it is hard to understand, than the attempt to combine these two postulates of religious belief; viz., that infinite good can permit evil; that infinite Life which changes not, can change itself and induce sickness and death, and that perfection can be the author of disaster. All these contradictions are logically unthinkable and ought to become void. No bridge spans the gulf between such antipodes, and logic and reason can do nothing but utterly repudiate these fanciful conclusions.

Christian Science declares that God is good, and is infinite; that God is Life, Truth, Love; that God is Spirit, is perfection, and is supreme. It declares that He is the cause and origin of all real existence; that He is the sole lawmaker, is all power, and hath done all things well. There is scarcely a Christian on earth who would deny any of these postulates. Wherefore, then, is the objection that Christian Science is hard to understand? Is it because every incidental or amplified belief included in the theology of Christian Science is in consistent accord and harmony in every particular with these fundamental statements? Is it because Christian Science insistently presents a complete structure of religious belief which is without illogical antithesis? No. It is because Christian Science teaches that good is natural and normal and that evil is illegitimate and abnormal. It is because the world has regarded evil as an indestructible entity, whereas Christian Science discloses it to be a disorderly negation which can be abolished. It is because of the newness, the novelty, the strangeness of this modern analysis of what has been called a baffling mystery, that the old-time thinker designates it difficult to understand. Its pure logic and reasoning solve mysteries. They are the correlatives of an immaculate science; and they shine with a pure and simple light which dazzles and thus perhaps confuses the mind accustomed to other things.

Many people have held aloof from Christian Science because of some person or persons in the neighborhood who were known as Christian Scientists, and who were illiterate, or lacking in culture and good manners, or possibly, who did not appear to have ascended to a high moral plane of daily living. It so happens that the influence of Christian Science, which is no respecter of persons, touches the need and thought of all sorts of human beings. Much of its glory lies in the fact that it illumines the way of universal salvation for the entire race. Christian Scientists do not pose as a kind of exalte, nor do they pretend to be saints or to be perfect. Their modest boast would be, if boast at all, that whereas they once manifested very many of the frailties of human life the Divine purifier has made them at least better than they were. Let us not linger too long, dear friends, to murmur because this splendid blessedness has been bestowed on the rich and poor alike; upon the educated and the lowly; let us remember that there are no mortals on this earth who do not need at times to weep hot tears because they so poorly do the will of God. Infinite science cannot be hindered nor restrained by persons. What does it matter to you who need to be saved, if some one else needs it more, or if he heeds not the touch of God and the opportunity for reform? You may look in vain for perfect people, but you need not vainly look for that which promises to redeem, even though their sins be as scarlet.

No one can progress in Christian Science without first being reconciled to the text-book, Science and Health, and whosoever finds himself in a state of umbrage towards the book or its author would do well to stop and give his sole attention to a reconciliation therewith. There is no more specious nor mischievous argument than that the book is defective, insufficient, and difficult to understand, and that some other statement is more easily comprehended. The fact is that all other Christian Scientists combined are not so competent to state this Science and the modus of its application as is Mrs. Eddy. None knows so well, what to say and how to say it, in order to meet the specific and universal need of the world. There is no teacher of Christian Science, no lecturer, no writer for its periodicals who ever uttered anything of value concerning this Science and its practice, who did not, in so doing, cross and recross the same ground which Mrs. Eddy covered, in a better way, years before. She has not committed the great fault of omitting to say in her books whatever is necessary in order to enable the learner to make his way. Science and Health has been the text-book and instructor of the practitioners who have accomplished the cure of millions of cases of disease. It is entirely satisfactory to those who best know what it means and best know what is required of such a book. In order to do the best that can be done we should be vigilant to imbibe our sense of Science from this book in preference to any other literature. Christian Science does not promise that by mere acquiescence in its teachings one can at once sweep away the asserted activity and impress of all evil. Progress will be realized after the manner which the Scriptures indicate,—line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. It is also important to know that one may and must begin at once to put into practice what he learns. No one need delay because of the suggestion that he must have a great understanding of it before he can reap its benefits. That which we accomplish for ourselves is of vastly more value to us than if the same result were achieved for us by some one else. Jesus said, "it must needs be that offences come." We shall have occasion to cross swords with evil, but we should remember that we now have something with which to win; and that such errors appear, only to disappear before the might of Truth; therefore let us "be not afraid."

The average person who decides to turn to Christian Science for the cure of disease has many a misgiving. There is no remedy or modus in sight. There is nothing that he can see, no plan that he understands which offers tangible assurance that something is being employed to aid him. For him to decide to trust the issue to that which he does not comprehend and cannot behold seems like jumping off the earth into empty space. He might feel even more adrift and rudderless if he knew that we were not depending on a petition to God, whereby to persuade Him to heal the man in consideration of the prayer.

O thou battered and storm-tossed victim of ill fortune, in this hour when decision is poised between the exigencies of your need and that which seems as though it might be a final plunge into the unknown and non-discernible, take heart, for at last there is opportunity for you to know that your Redeemer liveth, and that you may, with much avail, trust in the good God.

Let us inquire as to this reliance, and try to conclude whether you are committing your hope to something or nothing. If you were to congregate all the people on earth and discuss with them their ills and their desire for relief, and if it were within your privilege to let them designate that which they might choose to invoke in their own behalf, upon what would they decide? If they knew enough they would say, "We invoke the supreme power of the universe, whatever that may be. We ask for the supremacy of power, of action, and of law. If supreme power be available for us, then nothing can hinder or withstand or continue to oppose it, because it necessarily follows, that if supreme power makes for the manifestation of good it will abolish every semblance of power that makes for the manifestation of evil." Would you who may read these words, ask for more than the privilege of invoking infinite supremacy? Can the sick man possibly utter a more adequate appeal? Is there anything illogical or fanciful in the desire of a man who needs help, that the help shall be supreme? No! Then, having taken a reasonable step, the question to consider is this, — Is there such a thing as supreme power? If there be, then is it available to a sick man? By way of answer to these questions let us observe that certain things are undeniably true. It is undeniable that there is such a thing as existence, as the universe, including man. All the objects of creation are effects or phenomena. All the effects or phenomena are the effects of some cause. When the subject is carried to its final analysis, it is undeniable that all phenomena proceed from, or manifest one noumenon or cause. In other words, all the objects of the universe have one cause or creative energy. The same origin or cause which produces things or effects, also maintains them; hence the inevitable conclusion that there is some supreme cause which induces and includes all the things and activities of the universe and to which all are subordinate. Further, it will not be denied that man manifests intelligence, and as man is a phenomenon or effect, then it follows by way of conclusion that his intelligence can only exist because his creator is an intelligent cause. Inasmuch, then, as active intelligence means active consciousness, it follows that the intelligent first cause is conscious intelligence or conscious being.

No possible line of logical reasoning can by any means demolish the conclusion that a consciously intelligent first or primary cause is supreme as power, and has been properly designated omnipotence. English speaking people have agreed among themselves that, in so far as a name can indicate that which is infinite, they will use the word God, whereby to designate Deity. The final conclusion is that God is supreme as power, action, and law, and in view of the fact that by general consensus of belief God is identical with "good," it may also appear that the supremacy of power, action, and law is good.

Then there comes the question, Is the law and power of our supreme God available for a sick man? The only convincing answer to this question must be in the form of proofs. Jesus declared that God's power is lawfully available and he vindicated his statement by means of proof. Christian Science declares the same thing, and unnumbered instances of healing through its practice constitute the same proof. If it were not so, we would be obliged to conclude that He created man, "the noblest work of God," as an outcast or outlaw and thrust him into existence without any recourse to divine law and power; subject only to the spurious law of sin and death. Would infinite good do that? The Christian Science patient, then, instead of appealing to nothing, is relying on the supreme power of the universe. God has created no origin or cause of disease and no law for the procurement of a sick man or his discomfiture. On the contrary, the natural, primal law of God is to all intents and purposes the law of reconstruction, recuperation, restoration, and recovery for the sick. As soon as mortals discern and prove this scientific verity they will enter the door of heaven.

I remember that soon after reading Science and Health I found myself mourning because "I had lost my God," and since then I have had occasion to comfort other mourners who had come to the same strange conclusion. Alas, dear friend, what kind of a god was it that could be so easily lost? Please do not think me harsh if I say that if you have a god that can be lost, the quicker you lose it the better. The god I then had was indeed a travesty, a thing of human conception. It was simply an impossible god. Nevertheless, while I had it, it frightened me and filled me with dread and dismay. I greatly rejoice now, that it was lost, and that Christian Science dethrones all other gods that can be lost. Instead of depriving any one of God, Christian Science reveals the true God and abundantly satisfies him whose joy it is to know God aright.

For ages, mortals have been trained to have a good opinion of what they have been pleased to call their minds. Self-admiration, pride of intellect, and tenacity of opinion; these have been associated with that mental combativeness which usually seeks to dominate and to prevail. The seeming necessity for existing by the rule of the survival of the fittest has driven every man into an attitude of contention for self-advantage. This spirit of barter often influences him as he approaches the very throne of grace, and frequently do we hear the man who says, "If Christian Science will heal me, I will believe in it," or "If they will heal me. it will be a good thing for Christian Science in our town," or "If it does not cure me, I shall know there is nothing in it." To these it is to be said, In such an attitude of thought, it will scarcely avail you to approach the subject at all. God cannot enter into convention with a human being and negotiate for blessedness on terms proposed by a sick man or a sinner. The Science of Being cannot argue or debate with you on the facts of infinite purpose, law, and animus. It is folly to expend oneself in complaint against Christian Science because it does not make things less rough for you, according to your own requirements. It is foolish to fight at it with argument and rebellious discussion, because it will not fight back nor heed your fight; it will simply continue to be itself.

Now if you would have the way less rough, then know this: that in the presence of demonstrable Science there is no place or opportunity for argument and no occasion even for patronizing concessions. In such presence a man may well uncover his head, remember that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," and then, after the fashion of him who "becomes as a little child," simply ask to know, to be taught, to learn the way. Divine Love, surpassing immeasurably the love of tenderest mother, does indeed love "its own," and will protect and continue it in perfection; but, dear friend, pride, and the arrogance of worldly wisdom, and the tumult of the human will, these are not "His own." There is no need of a new rule whereby to lead wounded humanity from the serpent's trail and to heal it of the serpent's sting. The rule is this, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." The healing work through Christian Science occurs, partly because some one is observing this rule and is thinking, knowing, and living rightly. The healing is an effect, a "sign following" a cause, and the only cause of healing is a certain indispensable degree of rightness.

Try not to be ashamed because you appeal for treatment or turn your face timidly toward this haven which you have not explored. The frown of society may urge you to be perturbed, but try not to be ashamed. You may not know it, but you are invoking the power, law, and action of Infinity. Your appeal is really to our majestic God and according to His invitation. Compared with His boundless wisdom, perfection, and might, what is society? If it were His business to be ashamed of anything, He might be justified for being ashamed of us, but from the standpoint of Truth it is to be said that of all things visible nothing seems more pitiable than the man who is ashamed of God and of his hope of salvation.

No evil suggestion has sought more industriously or senselessly to restrain the inquirer than the one that Christian Science has been introduced to the world by a woman, and for that reason does not deserve acceptance at the hand of an intelligent people. Please pardon me, dear reader, if with unconventional familiarity I ask you to imagine yourself in an old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone hell. We will assume that you have been in it a long time and have endured the interminable fire of its wretchedness, and have had enough of it. Now let us suppose that it is made known to you that there is a rope hanging over the brink of hell, and that if you can find the rope it will, in some way, pull you out; what would you do? Why you would spend days and nights looking for that rope. No invitation to remain longer to enjoy the pleasures of hell would turn you from your imperative purpose. In the course of time, it would occur to you that you were not bestowing any favor or advantage on the rope by looking for it. You would dismiss the thought that because of your social position or the unusual importance of your personality, the rope ought to look you up and insist on your allowing it to bestow some great service upon you. In the course of a proper search for the rope, humility, reverence, simplicity, and purity of motive would mark the progress of your pilgrimage like milestones, and your heart's deep petition would be that you might see the way and walk therein. Now let us suppose that you have found the rope, and that as you approach it you see a large concourse of people, all of them in the throes of more or less damnation and all in supreme need of deliverance. Among those people there is much discussion and debate. You wait long enough to observe that many persons are clinging to the rope and are being reclaimed and lifted out of the pit. Finally some one comes to you, at the moment when hope should be high and your pitiful appeal be nigh unto its answer, and tells you that he has decided not to try the rope because its color or texture is not according to his judgment and fancy, and because it has been suspended over hell's awful abyss by a woman! What would you do? Would you, for such a reason, turn back and cast yourself again into the havoc which is so utterly without promise of its extinction that people have for ages called it eternal? Again let us assume that you are stirred by the thought that perchance the rope is well enough, perse, and it would be entitled to your respect and devotion if it had been introducted into the scene of human turmoil by a man, or by some one of our great men. What is to be said concerning this?

The rope and its undeniable achievements constitute a fixed, determined, accomplished fact. Since the day when Christ Jesus prophesied that "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," there have been billions of men on earth, all intent on getting out of trouble. Not one of them ever found the rope,—the scientific rule of practice whereby evil is exterminated. It is, perhaps, no wonder that you repine because no great man has done this thing, but is there any rationality in the demurrer against the great woman who verily hath accomplished the fact?

You are not asked to worship the rope. You are not asked to worship the woman, indeed there is no place for an apotheosis in Christian Science practice. You are simply to learn that the Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus" is the Master of every conceivable evil and hath abolished "the law of sin and death" in accordance with the will and law of our supreme God. Some day it may be yours to understand this great transaction and to discern the superb fitness of all its parts, and when you do so understand you will be satisfied, and you will be glad that it came through a woman. Moreover, you will learn, some day, that the woman who discovered the rope and uncoiled it in the sight of the world and over the brink of human misfortune, has been obliged ceaselessly to continue her watch, whereby to keep it there. You will also learn that while doing this she has been subjected to every conceivable assault of evil, and yet has endured, and labored, and won for humanity; and when you know all about the unspeakable travail of this ministry, you will wonder if you have ever heard of a man, since the day of primitive Christianity, who was equal to such a task.

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