We are all familiar with the thought of temples as expressed in human experience past and present, although we perhaps have not often paused to realize that a temple points to something above and beyond the material structure; that rightly understood it symbolizes a spiritual idea which is imperfectly understood if recognized at all by mankind. Too often has a splendid temple called forth little except pride and personal satisfaction, as for instance where Jesus' disciples called his attention to the temple at Jerusalem which, as they said, was "adorned with goodly stones and gifts." His only comment apparently was this: "As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

         To the more spiritual thought of that time, or indeed of any time, a temple was a place in which to worship God, and we find St. Paul seizing upon this thought and applying it to the human embodiment. In the sixth chapter of I Corinthians he gives a severe rebuke to moral impurity and asks, "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?" and then he goes on to say, "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God . . . therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." This was undoubtedly taking a long step forward on the part of those who had been accustomed to think of themselves and others largely as the votaries of sensual pleasure, and it seems that even after they began to accept Christianity, possibly after they had felt its healing influence, they were yet enticed by the evil tendencies of the flesh, which really means of mortal mind. How wonderful then it must have been for them to think even of their bodies as temples for divine service into which nothing impure could enter and from which consequently nothing impure could go forth. Alas for it, that this lofty ideal of consecration has so been lost sight of throughout the centuries until the present hour, when through the healing ministry of Christian Science its appeal is even more insistent than at any time in the past.

         The faithful student of Christian Science does not allow his thought to linger long about the body, because he has learned the deep import of our Leader's words on page 261 of Science and Health: "Look away from the body into Truth and Love, the Principle of all happiness, harmony, and immortality." In most cases the healing influence of divine Truth has been proved to him through bodily healing, although as he advances he learns that the healing and purification of thought is responsible for this. Nevertheless, to himself and others the evidence appears to be changed bodily conditions, and for this he is rightly thankful. It may be, however, that too seldom do we think of ourselves and others in the way which St. Paul points out and which he again expresses in his second epistle to the Corinthians where he says: "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." What follows is a rousing appeal against impurity of every sort, so that the followers of Christ Jesus may indeed show themselves to be sons and daughters of God, manifesting the health, holiness, and happiness which are the reward of divine service.

         In the Glossary of Science and Health (p. 595) the word temple is thus defined: "Body; the idea of Life, substance, and intelligence; the superstructure of Truth; the shrine of Love; a material superstructure, where mortals congregate for worship." There are besides this numerous deeply significant references to temple in Science and Health, also in our Leader's other writings, all of them lifting thought above sensuality and mortality. When the human body is spoken of, the reader's thought is directed away from its supposed sensations of pleasure or pain to spiritual reality. This enables the student to obey in ever larger measure the Master's command to take no thought for the body, obedience to which enlarges the outlook so that one may behold the universal temple of Spirit which knows no limits.

         Thought thus unconfined breathes deep in the pure atmosphere of Truth and Love and in time is enabled to apprehend more clearly the meaning of John's apocalyptic vision in which we read, respecting the holy city, "I saw no temple therein." Ere this great vision can be fully realized all tears must be wiped away, and sin, disease, and death blotted out by the understanding of divine reality; each day's experience giving abundant opportunity for the divine service which consecrates existence and glorifies it with the unending consciousness of God with us, the light and Life of all being.


"Temples" by Annie M. Knott, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, December 15, 1917

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