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Forgiveness
ELLA W. HOAG, CSD

 
         Much has been said about forgiveness. Many have been the prayers which have had for their burden either the desire to be forgiven, or the longing to know how to forgive. There has never been a time when humanity has not desired to find forgiveness for its sins. No sooner does a mortal become aware that he has infringed the divine law than he immediately reaches out to see how he may be absolved from the consequences which he inherently feels must be the result of such disobedience.

         The fear of the penalty for sin committed has always gone hand in hand with the belief in sin, and many and varied have been the attempts to escape such penalty. It takes but a slight degree of honesty to discern that love of sin is at the bottom of the endeavor which would escape the suffering, but would still cling to the sin. So long as sin is loved and indulged there will remain the attendant fear of the punishment which sin itself always metes out to the one who indulges its demands. The belief that there is satisfaction in wrongdoing has closed the eyes of men to the awful nature of evil and its terrible consequences. It is this blindness which shuts out the possibility of seeing that there can be no real forgiveness until sin itself is relinquished and thereby destroyed; for no one could be contented with a forgiveness which did not include the blotting out of all remembrance of the sin. "I will remember their sin no more," is one of the most precious of God's promises.

         In speaking of the way mortal man is to be saved from sin, Mrs. Eddy says (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 90): "He must know that God is omnipotent; hence, that sin is impotent. He must know that the power of sin is the pleasure in sin. Take away this pleasure, and you remove all reality from its power. Jesus demonstrated sin and death to be powerless. This practical Truth saves from sin, and will save all who understand it." To believe that sin confers pleasure, that it can ever produce good, is to believe that good can come out of evil, and this is to deny the very nature and power of God, good. For one to love God, good, sufficiently to be willing to say to every least temptation to indulge in the belief in sin, "You cannot deceive me, because you can bring no satisfaction," is to have started to prove the unreality of sin. The moment one is willing to admit that sin affords no pleasure, he has begun to win the understanding of what forgiveness from sin means. Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 5), "Sin is forgiven only as it is destroyed by Christ, — Truth and Life." This opens to mankind the glorious possibility of the blotting out of sin, which constitutes perfect forgiveness; for sin can only be forgiven as it is forsaken.

         To the burdened heart longing to be rid of sin, tied down as it has been through false education, not only to the belief in the reality of sin but also to the fear of it, Christian Science comes with its glad offer of redemption and lifts one to an immediate sense of hope, which the schools have never given. It not only uncovers the undesirability of sin, but teaches how denial of such satisfaction from the standpoint of constant realization of the all-satisfaction of good, will result in an ever increasing power to resist and reject sin's every claim and thus bring the understanding of that forgiveness which neither knows nor remembers sin. For when a sin is really forsaken there can no longer be any necessity or temptation either to fear it or to contemplate it from any standpoint whatsoever.

         Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. . . . For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." The joy and freedom which accrue to one from the scientific forgiveness — blotting out, annihilation of even the remembrance — of his own sins, can only be exceeded by the bliss which comes to him when through this same method he finds himself able to forgive and forget — prove unreal — his brother's trespass against him. Many a Christian, before Christian Science was revealed to him, had prayed earnestly and long to forgive an injury, and sometimes he had felt his prayer had been answered, — that it was really possible to love his brother in spite of his offenses; when, lo and behold, a second offense committed against him by the same brother, and there was the first offense presenting itself to be forgiven all over again! Then how impossible seemed the task of forgiving until the "seventy times seven" of Jesus' command!

         How different it all is now, with the wonderful illumination which Christian Science gives us, showing how to understand and follow the teaching and example of our beloved Master. It indicates so plainly that the only reason one ever sins, or continues even to believe in sin either in himself or in others, is because he believes in some — oftentimes subtle — way that he can find pleasure in so doing. Then who would be so foolish as to continue this torment of evil thinking, when all one needs to do that he may find peace and comfort and joy is to turn away from sin to the love of God, good. What marvelous satisfaction must be found in loving good to the exclusion of every suppositional opposite until no belief in sin shall have power to deceive or hold us in its detestable thralldom! Then let us lift up this love of good in our hearts until all men shall see the power of God to bless in overflowing measure all those who forgive as they would be forgiven.

 

"Forgiveness" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, November 8, 1919
 

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