Our revered Leader tells us that "martyrs are the human links which connect one stage with another in the history of religion" (Science and Health, p. 37). She also enlarges upon this thought, and says on page 134: "The word martyr, from the Greek, means witness; but those who testified for Truth were so often persecuted unto death, that at length the word martyr was narrowed in its significance and so has come always to mean one who suffers for his convictions." It may easily be seen how a false sense of martyrdom can be entertained; indeed, it has often been held in the past and present time, until the mere fact of suffering for one's opinions, whether these were right or wrong, has been regarded by many as martyrdom. From this mistaken viewpoint one would not, however, be a "witness" for Truth, and respecting such a mental state Mrs. Eddy says, "The selfish role of a martyr is the shift of a dishonest mind, nothing short of self-seeking" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 288). It is, however, the mission of Christian Science to separate the false from the true, and thus get rid of all counterfeits.

         In the sixth chapter of Revelation we have a remarkable picture of the mental condition which is rightly named a martyr, as it depicts those slain for their testimony to the word of God. It is, however, well to note that their "souls" (sense) were "under the altar," not upon it or above it. In other words, they represented a belief that evil has power to make the good suffer and that the processes of divine justice were unduly delayed, a belief which Christian Science not only repudiates but proves untrue. The opening of the fifth seal in presenting this condition leads up to the higher state of consciousness typified by white robes. Even the noblest Christian martyrs needed the purification thus prefigured, for each and all who would enter the kingdom of God must yield up every vestige of belief in a power opposed to God; and this is where the crucial test comes.

         It is not enough that we love good rather than evil, we must hold to the omnipotence of good up to the entire exclusion of evil, — to its complete annihilation; and we must include in our concept the all-power of divine Love to protect not only ourselves but our "fellow servants" and our "brethren," so that none may suffer from their failure to grasp the absolute power of spiritual law. This does not mean that we are to do the work which belongs to others, but that we must never burden any with a false sense of pity, born of the belief that divine service entails suffering of any sort. Instead we should help our brethren to win the white robes, and to "rest" in knowing that divine justice is neither slow nor uncertain, but sure! And why should we not be satisfied to wait upon God both for ourselves and those dear to us, especially, when we know that thus a larger sense of omnipotent Love will be our portion and a more inclusive demonstration of divine justice and Truth?

         To be a martyr today should mean to be a witness to Truth, so protected by the understanding of the supremacy of Truth that all the shafts of envy, hate, and ignorance will fall powerless at his feet. Do not the Master's words come down to us through the corridors of time: "Why are ye so fearful?" "Not an hair of your head shall perish"? What if all that makes up the material panorama be rolled up as a scroll and the mountains of mortal belief be "moved out of their places," in church, and state! The witnesses for Truth will be purified, protected, and strengthened, made ready, to enter the realm of Spirit, where "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."


"'Martyrs'" by Annie M. Knott, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, October 26, 1912

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