Retrospection and Introspection

Retrospection and Introspection


78The neophyte in Christian Science acts like a diseased physique, — being too fast or too slow. He is inclined to do either too much or too little. In healing and teaching the student has not yet achieved the entire wisdom of Mind-practice. The textual explanation of this practice is complete in Science and Health; and scientific practice makes perfect, for it is governed by its Principle, and not by human opinions; but carnal and sinister motives, entering into this practice, will prevent the demonstration of Christian Science.

    I recommend students not to read so-called scientific works, antagonistic to Christian Science, which advocate materialistic systems; because such works and words becloud the right sense of metaphysical Science.

    The rules of Mind-healing are wholly Christlike and spiritual. Therefore the adoption of a worldly policy or a resort to subterfuge in the statement of the Science of Mind-healing, or any name given to it other than Christian Science, or an attempt to demonstrate the facts of this Science other than is stated in Science and Health — is a departure from the Science of Mind-healing. To becloud mortals, or for yourself to hide from God, is to conspire against the blessings otherwise conferred, against your own success and final happiness, against the progress of 79the human race as well as against honest metaphysical theory and practice.

    Not by the hearing of the ear is spiritual truth learned and loved; nor cometh this apprehension from the experiences of others. We glean spiritual harvests from our own material losses. In this consuming heat false images are effaced from the canvas of mortal mind; and thus does the material pigment beneath fade into invisibility.

    The signs for the wayfarer in divine Science lie in meekness, in unselfish motives and acts, in shuffling off scholastic rhetoric, in ridding the thought of effete doctrines, in the purification of the affections and desires.

    Dishonesty, envy, and mad ambition are “lusts of the flesh,” which uproot the germs of growth in Science and leave the inscrutable problem of being unsolved. Through the channels of material sense, of worldly policy, pomp, and pride, cometh no success in Truth. If beset with misguided emotions, we shall be stranded on the quicksands of worldly commotion, and practically come short of the wisdom requisite for teaching and demonstrating the victory over self and sin.

    Be temperate in thought, word, and deed. Meekness and temperance are the jewels of Love, set in wisdom. Restrain untempered zeal. “Learn to labor and to wait.” Of old the children of Israel were saved by patient waiting.

     “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force!” said Jesus. Therefore are its spiritual gates not captured, nor its golden streets invaded.

    We recognize this kingdom, the reign of harmony 80within us, by an unselfish affection or love, for this is the pledge of divine good and the insignia of heaven. This also is proverbial, that though eternal justice be graciously gentle, yet it may seem severe.

      For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth,
      And scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.

    As the poets in different languages have expressed it: —
      Though the mills of God grind slowly,
         Yet they grind exceeding small;
      Though with patience He stands waiting,
         With exactness grinds He all.

    Though the divine rebuke is effectual to the pulling down of sin’s strongholds, it may stir the human heart to resist Truth, before this heart becomes obediently receptive of the heavenly discipline. If the Christian Scientist recognize the mingled sternness and gentleness which permeate justice and Love, he will not scorn the timely reproof, but will so absorb it that this warning will be within him a spring, welling up into unceasing spiritual rise and progress. Patience and obedience win the golden scholarship of experimental tuition.

    The kindly shepherd of the East carries his lambs in his arms to the sheepcot, but the older sheep pass into the fold under his compelling rod. He who sees the door and turns away from it, is guilty, while innocence strayeth yearningly.

    There are no greater miracles known to earth than perfection and an unbroken friendship. We love our friends, but ofttimes we lose them in proportion to our affection. The sacrifices made for others are not infrequently met by 81envy, ingratitude, and enmity, which smite the heart and threaten to paralyze its beneficence. The unavailing tear is shed both for the living and the dead.

    Nothing except sin, in the students themselves, can separate them from me. Therefore we should guard thought and action, keeping them in accord with Christ, and our friendship will surely continue.

    The letter of the law of God, separated from its spirit, tends to demoralize mortals, and must be corrected by a diviner sense of liberty and light. The spirit of Truth extinguishes false thinking, feeling, and acting; and falsity must thus decay, ere spiritual sense, affectional consciousness, and genuine goodness become so apparent as to be well understood.

    After the supreme advent of Truth in the heart, there comes an overwhelming sense of error’s vacuity, of the blunders which arise from wrong apprehension. The enlightened heart loathes error, and casts it aside; or else that heart is consciously untrue to the light, faithless to itself and to others, and so sinks into deeper darkness. Said Jesus: “If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” and Shakespeare puts this pious counsel into a father’s mouth: —
      This above all: To thine own self be true;
      And it must follow, as the night the day,
      Thou canst not then be false to any man.

    A realization of the shifting scenes of human happiness, and of the frailty of mortal anticipations, — such as first led me to the feet of Christian Science, — seems to be requisite at every stage of advancement. Though our first les82sons are changed, modified, broadened, yet their core is constantly renewed; as the law of the chord remains unchanged, whether we are dealing with a simple Latour exercise or with the vast Wagner Trilogy.

    A general rule is, that my students should not allow their movements to be controlled by other students, even if they are teachers and practitioners of the same blessed faith. The exception to this rule should be very rare.

    The widest power and strongest growth have always been attained by those loyal students who rest on divine Principle for guidance, not on themselves; and who locate permanently in one section, and adhere to the orderly methods herein delineated.

    At this period my students should locate in large cities, in order to do the greatest good to the greatest number, and therein abide. The population of our principal cities is ample to supply many practitioners, teachers, and preachers with work. This fact interferes in no way with the prosperity of each worker; rather does it represent an accumulation of power on his side which promotes the ease and welfare of the workers. Their liberated capacities of mind enable Christian Scientists to consummate much good or else evil; therefore their examples either excel or fall short of other religionists; and they must be found dwelling together in harmony, if even they compete with ecclesiastical fellowship and friendship.

    It is often asked which revision of Science and Health is the best. The arrangement of my last revision, in 1890, makes the subject-matter clearer than any previous edition, and it is therefore better adapted to spiritualize thought 83and elucidate scientific healing and teaching. It has already been proven that this volume is accomplishing the divine purpose to a remarkable degree. The wise Christian Scientist will commend students and patients to the teachings of this book, and the healing efficacy thereof, rather than try to centre their interest on himself.

    Students whom I have taught are seldom benefited by the teachings of other students, for scientific foundations are already laid in their minds which ought not to be tampered with. Also, they are prepared to receive the infinite instructions afforded by the Bible and my books, which mislead no one and are their best guides.

    The student may mistake in his conception of Truth, and this error, in an honest heart, is sure to be corrected. But if he misinterprets the text to his pupils, and communicates, even unintentionally, his misconception of Truth, thereafter he will find it more difficult to rekindle his own light or to enlighten them. Hence, as a rule, the student should explain only Recapitulation, the chapter for the class-room, and leave Science and Health to God’s daily interpretation.

    Christian Scientists should take their textbook into the schoolroom the same as other teachers; they should ask questions from it, and be answered according to it, — occasionally reading aloud from the book to corroborate what they teach. It is also highly important that their pupils study each lesson before the recitation.

    That these essential points are ever omitted, is anomalous, when we consider the necessity of thoroughly understanding Science, and the present liability of deviating from absolute Christian Science.

84    Centuries will intervene before the statement of the inexhaustible topics of Science and Health is sufficiently understood to be fully demonstrated.

    The teacher himself should continue to study this textbook, and to spiritualize his own thoughts and human life from this open fount of Truth and Love.

    He who sees clearly and enlightens other minds most readily, keeps his own lamp trimmed and burning. Throughout his entire explanations he strictly adheres to the teachings in the chapter on Recapitulation. When closing the class, each member should own a copy of Science and Health, and continue to study and assimilate this inexhaustible subject — Christian Science.

    The opinions of men cannot be substituted for God’s revelation. In times past, arrogant pride, in attempting to steady the ark of Truth, obscured even the power and glory of the Scriptures, — to which Science and Health is the Key.

    That teacher does most for his students who divests himself most of pride and self, and by reason thereof is able to empty his students’ minds of error, that they may be filled with Truth. Thus doing, posterity will call him blessed, and the tired tongue of history be enriched.

    The less the teacher personally controls other minds, and the more he trusts them to the divine Truth and Love, the better it will be for both teacher and student.

    A teacher should take charge only of his own pupils and patients, and of those who voluntarily place themselves under his direction; he should avoid leaving his own regular institute or place of labor, or expending his labor where 85there are other teachers who should be specially responsible for doing their own work well.

    Teachers of Christian Science will find it advisable to band together their students into associations, to continue the organization of churches, and at present they can employ any other organic operative method that may commend itself as useful to the Cause and beneficial to mankind.

    Of this also rest assured, that books and teaching are but a ladder let down from the heaven of Truth and Love, upon which angelic thoughts ascend and descend, bearing on their pinions of light the Christ-spirit.

    Guard yourselves against the subtly hidden suggestion that the Son of man will be glorified, or humanity benefited, by any deviation from the order prescribed by supernal grace. Seek to occupy no position whereto you do not feel that God ordains you. Never forsake your post without due deliberation and light, but always wait for God’s finger to point the way. The loyal Christian Scientist is incapable alike of abusing the practice of Mind-healing or of healing on a material basis.

    The tempter is vigilant, awaiting only an opportunity to divide the ranks of Christian Science and scatter the sheep abroad; but “if God be for us, who can be against us?” The Cause, our Cause, is highly prosperous, rapidly spreading over the globe; and the morrow will crown the effort of to-day with a diadem of gems from the New Jerusalem.