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ELIZABETH EARL JONES, CSB
The science of the immaculate conception relates to your being, to my being, to all real being, and is manifested to a degree, in every demonstration of Christian healing. The Nicodemus of today may find these things hard to understand, but not so the true Christian. Webster gives the following definitions, which wonderfully illumine our premise and aid us in reaching a logical and practical conclusion: "Immaculate: Without stain or blemish; spotless; undefiled; clean, pure." "Conceive: To apprehend by reason or imagination; to take into the mind; to know; to comprehend; to understand." "Conception: The formation in the mind of an image, idea, or notion; apprehension; the state of being conceived; beginnings."
The four Gospels, like the petals of a splendid rose, unfold, in orderly process, the spiritual nature and origin of Christ Jesus, and its peculiar significance in relation to humanity. Matthew the Galilean, the friend and follower of Jesus, begins his Gospel thus: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." Then he gives us in full, from his store of knowledge, the genealogy from Abraham to Joseph. As descent was reckoned through the males of the family, Joseph is mentioned therein rather than Mary, but as Joseph and Mary were cousins through the same descent, the record holds good. Matthew then traces, together with the prophecies relating thereto, the boyhood of Jesus, from his birth in Bethlehem to the flight into Egypt, and then to the return of the little family into Galilee, their original home; and so on to the end of Jesus' ministry. All the while, however, Matthew never loses sight of the son of David until the ascension.
Briefly this is the import of Matthew's Gospel, as bearing upon the subject under consideration: the dual nature of Jesus the Christ was of profound meaning, and was in fulfilment of the human need of that age. For many generations true Israelites had fasted, prayed, and striven to keep the Mosaic Decalogue, all to the end that they might bring forth in human experience the Christ, the God-idea which would show to them and all mankind the way of salvation. It is true that the methods instituted by Moses, and which were intended to keep thought in the right channels, had degenerated into mere forms and dogmas in the majority of cases; but obedience, together with watchfulness, patient endurance, hope, and prayer, had purified and elevated thought sufficiently for human sense to reach out and grasp, in a single instance, the forever outpouring of the divine nature and attributes.
To illustrate this dual appearing of the human and the divine, we may refer to the old legend of the shield which was of gold on one side and silver on the other. The different appearance which the shield presented to two friends who chanced to view it from opposite sides, led to a quarrel between them. Not until the knight upon the silver side crossed over and saw the shield from his friend's position, did he learn the valuable lesson that much depends, in every case, upon the point of view from which one looks. So it was that the world, looking from the viewpoint of the five physical senses, and ignorant of the purely spiritual nature of man as God's image and likeness, saw the Christ in fleshly form as a marvelously perfect, pure, tender, loving, and strong human being, walking among men, and they called their view of the redeemer, Jesus.
But God could not look from a mortal, imperfect, material, and unreal standpoint. He could never know aught unlike His own deathless being, and so God's idea, the Christ, was never subject to the flesh, was never scourged, spit upon, crucified, or buried. These brutalities mortal man heaped upon his own highest human concept, which was an ever-present rebuke to the lower sense. Through the meeting and blending of human need and divine supply, as manifested in Christ Jesus, humanity found a mediator between God and man, learned the true idea of Life as God, and how to overcome the false concept with all its woes.
The prophets and seers of old, looking from the viewpoint of spiritual sense, saw the Christ and foresaw the inevitable satisfaction of every human need by divine Love as manifested by Christ Jesus, and again as manifested in the Science of being, Christ's impersonal appearing. When, looking from the standpoint of spiritual sense only, and seeing as God sees, Peter recognized "the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus blessed him, and said, "Upon this rock [i.e., spiritual perception] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It is only upon this rock that we can build safely, understand and demonstrate the health, harmony, immortality, and truth of being, the rock of spiritual understanding, the point of view which is forever golden and real. The moment we see evil as real, or look from the standpoint of material sense, we descend from the rock upon which the church of Christ forever rests and prospers. The church of Christ has not been dragged down by our temporary descent, but we for the moment lose sight of the true church thereby. From Matthew's narrative we gain a wondrous insight into the nature of "Jesus Christ, the son of David," and see how the Son of God, in each step of Jesus' career, overcomes the son of man. But not yet has the immaculate conception dawned, full-orbed, upon the reader's thought.
Mark's Gospel is supposed to have been written under the instruction of Peter, and it deals almost exclusively with the works, the way of salvation, or the Christ as demonstrated by Jesus. No mention is made of the nativity or childhood of Jesus. The narrator works upon Jesus' own line of reasoning: "By their fruits ye shall know them." He prefaces his Gospel thus: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." And substantiates this declaration by a minute chronicling of cases of healing and the overcoming of all so-called physical laws and limitations. It is in Mark's Gospel, furthermore, that we find that declaration of the Master which tells us in unmistakable terms how we may recognize Christ, God's idea, in his every true follower: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Mark presents the Son of God as the Saviour of the world, as the immaculate idea of being which saves from every misconception; as the spotless, undefiled, divine concept of man which each and all can apprehend and demonstrate. There are, however, two more Gospels to be considered before the unfoldment is complete.
Although Luke is next in the order given in the Authorized Version, yet it seems, that, at this point of research, John, the beloved disciple, lifts us right up into the heart of divinity, and explains the science of the immaculate conception. John sublimely ignores humanity's view of Christ, and reasons and writes from the viewpoint of Spirit, reality, alone. From beginning to end John antedates the human and interprets the secret of the spiritual supremacy expressed through Jesus and all who follow him in "the way." Taking as a premise the one immaculate cause, God, John unfolds to us the immaculate effect, man and the universe. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Goethe, in his "Faust," makes Faust read the first chapter of John, and he substitutes different translations for the Greek word rendered "Word" in the authorized version of the Scriptures. Finally Faust rejects all as unsatisfactory, save the word "thought." "In the beginning was the thought, and the thought was with God, and the thought was God." Had Goethe known the practical import of the Gospels he would have left the authorized rendering as it is, because there could not be a word without a thought back of it, and "the Word" implies God's thought expressed. It is impossible to separate Principle and manifestation, cause and effect; they are coincident and coexistent, and the one proves the other.
The Standard Dictionary tells us that mind is "that which thinks, feels, and wills." Therefore the great First Cause or creator must be Mind, and man and the universe, as products of divine Mind, must be divine ideas, or God's thoughts expressed. Moses taught that the Lord our God is one Lord and that "there is none else beside him." Therefore God, being infinite and One, His thought must embrace all true being, and be as perfect as is He. Furthermore, if divine Mind, God, were for a moment to stop thinking, or if His ideas were to become confused, degenerate, diseased, and thought at random, without definite purpose and intelligence, then, according to human standards, the divine Mind would be temporarily unbalanced. This is too absurd to consider, and we can but conclude that all the divine ideas are as perfect as He is, and forever remain so. John tells us, even as Christian Science teaches, that "in the beginning was the Word [God's thought expressed], and the Word was with God [never for a moment separated from the parent mind], and the Word was God [God expressed]."" Therefore the real man antedates the flesh and was "in the beginning with God." The real man has never left the bosom of the Father, but was, is, and ever will be God's perfect idea. Knowing this, we may rise and look fearlessly from God's viewpoint and ask ourselves at every test: What is God thinking? and therefore what am I and what is my fellowman? What is God thinking? God is forever thinking good; Truth is forever truthful; Love is forever loving; Life expressing Life.
What am I and what is my fellowman? Man is the expression of God; of Life, of Truth, therefore his conception is immaculate. Says our revered Leader, "The time cometh when the spiritual origin of man, the divine Science which ushered Jesus into human presence, will be understood and demonstrated" (Science and Health, p. 325). John draws back the veil of the flesh and of all mystic philosophy, thus revealing the simplicity of Christ and explaining the immaculate conception as applied to each and all, and as the "Science which ushered Jesus into human presence." This Science of divine knowing and its reflection heals the sick, cleanses the lepers, casts out devils (all evils), raises the dead, and preaches to the poor the gospel of God's abundant, overflowing love for His idea. It heals mortals of their fear of starvation and death, of limitation, debt, and want. How can the [Mind] or body of man, who is the continuous going forth of the divine perfection, who is ever renewed, sustained, supported by the divine activity, be diseased, weary, inflamed, decomposed, blind, lame, halt, and destitute? When we know the nature of man, the healing ministry of Christ Jesus and his promise that all true believers should do the works that he did are explained; as is also the assurance and confidence of the Christian Science practitioner, who speaks to "disease as one having authority over it" (Science and Health, p. 395).
John tells us that "the true Light . . . lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" it was not for Jesus alone. John also tells us that "the Word was made flesh [perceived from the viewpoint of mortals], and dwelt among us, . . . And of his [the Word's] fulness have all we received." The beloved disciple also portrays, more than all the others, the infinite love, tenderness, and compassion which the Father forever expresses through the Son and to the Son. Toward the close of his glorious ministry Jesus prayed: "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Jesus was continually insisting upon and reiterating man's unity with God, and if our Wayshower, Christ Jesus, thought and prayed thus, ought not we his followers to think and pray likewise? The Father's business, the embodiment and expression of Life, Truth, Love, is the sole mission of man and the sole reason for his existence; while the work of the Father is to support, protect, perpetuate, and express His allness in man and the universe. We need never fear that God will fail in His work, and we should take heart, trust Him, and press forward to the fulfilment of our work, humanly and divinely knowing that divine Love worketh in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
In taking up Luke's Gospel, we descend once more to earth, but this time it is in the company of angels, and we can never forget the dazzling glory of "the pattern showed to thee in the mount" of John's Gospel. It is long since the prophets foreshadowed the coming of Immanuel, and many weary years of bondage, hardship, and strivings have marked Judah's pathway, but with these passing years the time foretold has drawn near. All were eagerly anticipating the advent of the Prince of Peace, but then as now there were many strange theories as to the nature of his coming and of his plan of salvation. It had been said that "the seed of the woman" should bruise the head of the serpent. The other Gospels lift us into the strong, loving arms of the heavenly Father. Luke brings us under the wing of the divine Mother and this motherhood reflected in mankind. When God is referred to as the infinite I Am, the All-in-all, that divine Principle which is the basis of all law and authority, and which governs the universe and man, His almightiness and fatherhood must appeal to thought. When referred to as thinking all creatures into being, as nourishing and sustaining every manifestation of Life, and as embracing all in that infinite compassion which was revealed and illustrated by Christ Jesus and which is supremely emphasized in Christian Science, then His loving motherhood appears, to round to the full in human thought the compass and completing of the divine nature, and to explain that wondrous phrase, "Let us [Father-Mother] make man in our image;" and "male and female created he them."
It is supremely natural and in fulfilment of both prophecy and reason that, humanly speaking, woman should present the Christ to the world. At the close of a long period of hope and expectation among the Jews, there suddenly appeared upon the pinnacle of Jewish thought, upon the peak that was nearest heaven, a lovely maiden, who, like some rare, beautiful flower, has filled universal consciousness with the sweetness of her pure life-motive and the perfume of her prayers. Mary served in the temple and contemplated the deep things of God. Her young heart was fed and filled with Love divine. By this companionship with God, the divine nature and its ceaseless outpouring were reflected in her. She beheld man, God's idea, in spotless vestments, in angelic form, as "the Son of the Highest," a "holy thing" of whose "kingdom there shall be no end." "The Holy Ghost" came upon her and "the power of the Highest" overshadowed her, as she dwelt upon this vision of celestial being. It was the human mother instinct of the Hebrew maiden that clothed her conception in fleshly swaddling-clothes and laid him in a manger. But her presentation of man as the Son of God met the need of that hour and paved the way for the further revelation of Truth.
The prophet Isaiah thus foretold the birth of the Messiah: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." Many spiritually-minded men and women in the time of the Virgin-mother felt and saw in differing degrees this meeting of the human and divine, but none save Mary saw the full vision and heard the first scientific definition of man that was ever announced to humanity. The prophet Zechariah depicts the limited, bound-in sense of life, as seen between the cradle and the grave, as "an ephah" filled with wickedness and sealed by a great weight of lead upon the top thereof. This represents the concentrated human belief in the necessity and inevitableness of sin, disease, and death. Then an angel directed the prophet's thought higher, and he lifted up his eyes and looked, "and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven." When Jesus ascended he promised that the Christ would be with us always "even unto the end of the world." Jesus the human concept departed, but God's idea, Christ, will remain in our midst "unto the end of the world." It is this God-idea, the Christ, which is again revealed in Christian Science. A physical personality could not meet the worldwide needs of the twentieth century. It is the Science of being, Christian Science, that alone can feed all the hungry hearts and minds of this mature age, and fulfil Jesus' promise that "when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth."
As of old, there have been and are many wise men, watchful shepherds, poets, philosophers, sages, simple Christians, who have seen the brightness of this star, heard the angels sing, "On earth peace, good will toward men," and glimpsed in varying measures this second appearing; but only one woman our revered Leader saw the forever appearing, grasped its full meaning and application to humanity, and heard and expressed the complete, God-crowned annunciation of the Science of man in the image of God. Why was it, that of all earth's sons and daughters, she alone was freed sufficiently from the thraldom of the senses to behold and bring forth the Christ-idea? Because she was unselfish, pure, and loving enough to surrender self completely in the service of God and humanity, and to endure the world's piercing. On Calvary, in the dark hours of desertion and disdain, where were the wise men, the shepherds, the philosophers, the poets, and even the followers of Christ Jesus? Had all fled save one? Nay, womanhood was faithful unto the end.
The twelfth chapter of Revelation is prophetic of this hour when the immaculate conception and virgin origin of man is being understood and demonstrated, not by a coming into the flesh, but by an overcoming of the flesh. Christian Science reveals the motherhood of God which is always bringing forth the ideas of Truth and Love; and nothing can withhold the full manifestation of good,
Who hath borne and carried us all,
Who broods above with a tender love
Aware of our faintest call.
(Heartsease Hymns by Rev. W. P. McKenzie)
by Elizabeth Earl Jones, CSB
The Christian Science Journal, February, 1909
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