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The child asks: "What is a circle?" and is pointed to a barrel hoop. His circle now means a quantity of coarse matter in "round" form; and if he has been hurt by its flying up at him when stepped upon, this very tangible "circle" probably impresses him with not a little fear of its power to do harm. He goes to school and finds his knowledge at fault. A circle is not a barrel hoop, but a round chalk mark on the blackboard that is, much of the materiality of his first teaching is eliminated. The value of all his subsequent teaching and experience will depend on the degree in which they follow the same line elimination of the material in conception.
Are not all our systems of education open to the charge that they concern themselves more with knowledge that is material and harmful than with that which relates to the highest good? Not until he learns from abstract definition, however, that a circle has neither thickness, weight, nor aught that can be changed in the least from its perfection, can he realize what is meant by the idea Spiritual. The barrel-hoop was so gross a counterfeit that a sense of the real could hardly be conjectured from it. Just so with our very material conception of man, trees, stars, etc. As we start from the abstract or spiritual definition only, can any true light come to us, and then we must long and faithfully "Continue in my (his) words;" if we do this the promise will be realized, "ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free." The condition Continue in my words of our Master's promise is usually left out, both in quotation and in practice, but is very important. Nothing in Science can be left out; Jesus taught Science.
The Christian Science Journal, May, 1890
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