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In the lesson of the fig tree, barrenness and unfruitfulness are shown as cursed. In the transition from mortal superstition to Christian Science, there are lessons all must learn; for the human heart has been the same in all ages. The Old Testament refers to all enemies as false gods established in the heart, which separate men from God. Peter instructs us specifically how to cast them out by the evangelization of self. Diligence is the first quality mentioned, and charity (love) is the last and highest; between them come patience, temperance, faith, and brotherly kindness. We are dedicating ourselves to the truth of a brief, three-word sentence: God is All! And we must be prepared to spend our lives proving this, sometimes in the face of seemingly terrific assaults of evidence in support of the false testimony of the material senses. Our faithfulness to this line of action constitutes us Christian Scientists.
As beginners, after an enthralling moment of spiritual uplifting, we face the sober reflection that in order to retain that supreme experience we shall have to reverse our former aims and change our standards of thinking; for this is surely the promised regeneration and mental renewing. We surmise that real seeing and hearing are mental achievements. Perhaps out of wrongs and sufferings, in endeavoring to escape the ultimatum of evil, we have come to the crossroads and are taking stock of ourselves and the changes we must inaugurate in obedience to the reformation beginning in us; and we ponder these aims that have suddenly become so compelling. With the smell of the wilderness still upon us, we know that we want to be new men, desirous of staying out in this broad and living way that we have just glimpsed.
All real work clears thought for the comprehension of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy has given us a rule (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 113): "He who refuses to be influenced by any but the divine Mind, commits his way to God, and rises superior to suggestions from an evil source. Christian Science shows that there is a way of escape from the latter-day ultimatum of evil, through scientific truth; so that all are without excuse."
There are many weighty reasons for a direct daily plan of work. A specific time for study is found to be a sacred hour, a recurring act of divine approach, when the heart is softened and trust in good unfolds; when, in study and meditation, we are encouraged to incorporate the things of God into our own thinking, to establish divine standards there, to identify man with his real qualities. For in proportion as regeneration appears, men come into their heritage of health, intelligence, and love. By degrees we learn to differentiate between facts of real being and human theories, arrayed as health laws or human wisdom. It requires sustained effort to bring human character nearer to the Christ-ideal.
Under divine Love we are more discerning; and we also find the growth of the higher perceptions advanced through orderly, systematic application of the truth. To an impatient sense it may seem like plodding over petty ground; but the real preparation and development of the individual is in reverently getting dominion over the lesser adversaries (educated and instinctive false inclinations), the base of action being changed from one of emotion to one of reason and aspiration. There may be crucibles and furnaces ahead for the human heart, but they cannot be anticipated.
Jesus tells us that the pure in heart see God. Pondering over what constitutes purity of heart, we early learn that the direction in which we look deals directly with purity or impurity, and is a controlling factor in the success or failure of our work. Looking at evil conditions and diseased symptoms holds us in bondage, when our whole effort and purpose should be to get out of the darkness with its ghostly suggestions, into the liberating light of Truth. When the importance of this step is made plain to us, we shall refuse to look in any direction save the one in which we should go.
Our need is to establish righteous thinking. And we must remember that one of error's subtlest wiles is to clothe spiritual living in colors that are drab to mortal eyes. But such is not the truth! We may recall that in their most exalted moments the faces of Moses and Stephen shone with a heavenly radiance; and ours may, too, if we once grasp the fact that yielding to the divine will surely brings good into our experience. It matters not how fear is hammering at our consciousness; if our desires lie in the right direction, self-willed resistance to good must abate. All things were created to bless, and our recognition of their good brings them into our experience. The human heart is hungering for the things that only God can give. A test in the control of thought is to be able to divorce our viewpoint from the personal and adjust it to the divine.
This intelligence, newly born in us, opens the way into a fuller understanding that living is wholly mental. However, to uncover error does not mean that we shall busy ourselves probing mortal mind, to understand its workings and to heal it. It means that we shall so comprehend spiritual truth that it alone uncovers error and heals without violence.
If the demonstration of Truth comes only from spiritual consciousness, there to pass the line of demarcation between matter and Spirit, the work must take place in our consciousness, where the unraveling of error's web of thought must be effected by elimination, and spiritual facts be substituted. Thus Truth dissolves error, and thought rises to a higher perception. This purifying work is a universal experience in seeking salvation, and is not peculiar to the individual.
All Christian Scientists are seeking the substance of good; and this requires labor and obedience to the leading of wisdom. Experience offers a choice, and moral courage is a necessary quality in righteous decision. Moses' experience applies to ordinary living. Moses chose a forty years' stay in the desert, which ended in a vision of the burning bush, rather than princeliness at a worldly court. In making crooked paths straight, there are mountains of conceit and of faith in evil to be leveled, and valleys of self-depreciation and condemnation of ourselves and others to be lifted into good will to all mankind. And we know that the divine energy of Spirit is operating in our behalf when we constantly recognize its presence and power. From this maze of human theories, termed material living, we are finding an outlet which leads straight away from a false selfhood.
Every man in time comes under the sweeping current of God's eternal purpose of salvation, which is achieved one step at a time. Some may seem to be plodders, but slow moving is rich in patience and waiting on God.
If Christian Science has seemed to cost us friends, we may tenderly recall that a day came to Jesus when "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." Jesus trod the winepress alone; and sometimes we may be tempted to think that discovering God is a lonely experience. And truly it cannot be done in groups. Our sense of incompleteness may cry out for companionship, but we cannot choose the way; and right thinking will bring spiritual law to bear upon problems involving ourselves, to recover lost health and happiness, reconstruct a disorganized consciousness, and heal the bruised heart.
Christian Science is the way to escape from the encroaching beliefs of so-called inherited mental idiosyncrasies and prenatal mesmerisms which might, octopus-like, endeavor to draw us into the strong undertow of mortal thinking. Scientific truth does enable us to blot out fear and the images which, unrecognized, would claim to separate us from God. We can know that all such theories are powerless to create a single real condition or effect. We do sometimes seem to have to fight to bring Truth into our experience, and we may feel a little war-worn; but this is corrected if we accept the fact that error of any sort cannot exist where the Mind of Christ is. We must cease ruminating on apparent conditions with their resultant sufferings, and, clinging to that divine Mind, accept its standards and processes, which make us indeed tributaries of good. Divine Love operates through the real man. Our real selves are that man, and our work is to prove it to bring the spiritual evidence to light.
If the only power obtainable comes from goodness, we must keep that avenue unobstructed. Until our allegiance lies in one direction we run around in a circle. Only Truth leads to the desired haven. However, Christian Science begins, and must be practiced, just where it finds us. We must work it out in our human affairs. It means surrendering many cherished beliefs; it means dealing gently with human relations; it means alert appreciation of good in others. It is the overcoming of the illusion of personality, first of all in ourselves. It is sanity and common sense, combined with an inspired comprehension as to what man is.
We must learn to be happy in our work. There should be no tenseness and strain in Christian Science, no trying to capture higher planes of thought and action than we deserve. A great deal of two commodities, individual effort and waiting for Truth, must unfold. A temptation that oftentimes assails us in church work is to be disillusioned concerning Christian Scientists; but if we want to know the satisfactory practitioner of this faith, we may determine just what divine Principle demands of the ideal, and begin to be that one ourselves. When we cease to look to persons for qualities that satisfy us, and look steadfastly at the requirements of Truth and Love, we shall begin to be loosed from the doubt and fear which are rife in the world of matter, and become poised and calm and hopeful in our pursuit of good.
If at any time in our effort towards demonstration we find our thoughts outlining what represents to us a fair and successful outcome of our work, we may justly conclude that self-will is building an obstruction which will eventually have to be overcome. If the human standpoint is dominant in our thought, how can the "still small voice" be heard, and so unfold and bring His will of perfect goodness to pass? When we are influenced by material hopes, we are not establishing in our thought that unity with God which makes a majority and lifts our mental work into fruition. Christian Science is in one respect like the public school system: we must pass from grade to grade; for progress is a spiritual law, and we cannot escape it.
To remain Christian Scientists we must progress; and to grow, we must demonstrate unselfishness, taking our place, however humble, in this movement to establish Truth in the world. Our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, makes us the "heir of all the ages," but the spirit must be demonstrated for one's self.
There may come into our affairs conditions that threaten our peace. Facing them, we may understand that if they have come to us, it may take time and it may cause struggle, but we do know enough to overcome them. Knowing God's allness once may not suffice to still these suggestions: we may be called to deal more specifically with the error. Different phases may disclose themselves, and force us to prove more vigorously that it is God's battle we are engaged in, though at first it seemed to be personal. In the beginning we may be aware only of the devastating aspect of this experience; but in time, if we are patient and if we do our work aright, we shall begin to see another power pervading the situation, the power of good. We shall learn eventually that always just at hand is Love, operating and saving. And so the truth of being will unfold to the eyes of the watcher, and we shall be more willing to part with that which is unfit to be blessed.
Such conflict stimulates us to overcome the predisposition to accept the mandates of so-called mortal mind. Overcoming is really the throwing in of our lot with God; and we stand firmly in proportion to the settled question of whether we want to be real Christian Scientists, or only want to think about the wonder of being one. God is for us when our innermost selves are for Him.
Our freedom comes in proportion as we free our thought from limiting concepts of God, so that we may cease replacing in belief His omnipotence momentarily with gods of climate, food, chance, or superstition. The trend of all lessons is to learn to stand with Him. In "Miscellaneous Writings" (Pref., p. ix) Mrs. Eddy has written: "To preserve a long course of years still and uniform, amid the uniform darkness of storm and cloud and tempest, requires strength from above, deep draughts from the fount of divine Love."
The Christian Science Journal, March, 1927
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