Retrospection and Introspection

Retrospection and Introspection


86To energize wholesome spiritual warfare, to rebuke vainglory, to offset boastful emptiness, to crown patient toil, and rejoice in the spirit and power of Christian Science, we must ourselves be true. There is but one way of doing good, and that is to do it! There is but one way of being good, and that is to be good!

    Art thou still unacquainted with thyself? Then be introduced to this self. “Know thyself!” as said the classic Grecian motto. Note well the falsity of this mortal self! Behold its vileness, and remember this poverty-stricken “stranger that is within thy gates.” Cleanse every stain from this wanderer’s soiled garments, wipe the dust from his feet and the tears from his eyes, that you may behold the real man, the fellow-saint of a holy household. There should be no blot on the escutcheon of our Christliness when we offer our gift upon the altar.

    A student desiring growth in the knowledge of Truth, can and will obtain it by taking up his cross and following Truth. If he does this not, and another one undertakes to carry his burden and do his work, the duty will not be accomplished. No one can save himself without God’s help, and God will help each man who performs his own part. After this manner and in no other way is every man cared for and blessed. To the unwise helper our 87Master said, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”

    The poet’s line, “Order is heaven’s first law,” is so eternally true, so axiomatic, that it has become a truism; and its wisdom is as obvious in religion and scholarship as in astronomy or mathematics.

    Experience has taught me that the rules of Christian Science can be far more thoroughly and readily acquired by regularly settled and systematic workers, than by unsettled and spasmodic efforts. Genuine Christian Scientists are, or should be, the most systematic and law-abiding people on earth, because their religion demands implicit adherence to fixed rules, in the orderly demonstration thereof. Let some of these rules be here stated.

    First: Christian Scientists are to “heal the sick” as the Master commanded.

    In so doing they must follow the divine order as prescribed by Jesus, — never, in any way, to trespass upon the rights of their neighbors, but to obey the celestial injunction, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

    In this orderly, scientific dispensation healers become a law unto themselves. They feel their own burdens less, and can therefore bear the weight of others’ burdens, since it is only through the lens of their unselfishness that the sunshine of Truth beams with such efficacy as to dissolve error.

    It is already understood that Christian Scientists will not receive a patient who is under the care of a regular physician, until he has done with the case and different aid 88is sought. The same courtesy should be observed in the professional intercourse of Christian Science healers with one another.

    Second: Another command of the Christ, his prime command, was that his followers should “raise the dead.” He lifted his own body from the sepulchre. In him, Truth called the physical man from the tomb to health, and the so-called dead forthwith emerged into a higher manifestation of Life.

    The spiritual significance of this command, “Raise the dead,” most concerns mankind. It implies such an elevation of the understanding as will enable thought to apprehend the living beauty of Love, its practicality, its divine energies, its health-giving and life-bestowing qualities, — yea, its power to demonstrate immortality. This end Jesus achieved, both by example and precept.

    Third: This leads inevitably to a consideration of another part of Christian Science work, — a part which concerns us intimately, — preaching the gospel.

    This evangelistic duty should not be so warped as to signify that we must or may go, uninvited, to work in other vineyards than our own. One would, or should, blush to enter unasked another’s pulpit, and preach without the consent of the stated occupant of that pulpit. The Lord’s command means this, that we should adopt the spirit of the Saviour’s ministry, and abide in such a spiritual attitude as will draw men unto us. Itinerancy should not be allowed to clip the wings of divine Science. Mind demonstrates omnipresence and omnipotence, but Mind revolves on a spiritual axis, and its power is displayed and its pres89ence felt in eternal stillness and immovable Love. The divine potency of this spiritual mode of Mind, and the hindrance opposed to it by material motion, is proven beyond a doubt in the practice of Mind-healing.

    In those days preaching and teaching were substantially one. There was no church preaching, in the modern sense of the term. Men assembled in the one temple (at Jerusalem) for sacrificial ceremonies, not for sermons. Into the synagogues, scattered about in cities and villages, they went for liturgical worship, and instruction in the Mosaic law. If one worshipper preached to the others, he did so informally, and because he was bidden to this privileged duty at that particular moment. It was the custom to pay this hortatory compliment to a stranger, or to a member who had been away from the neighborhood; as Jesus was once asked to exhort, when he had been some time absent from Nazareth but once again entered the synagogue which he had frequented in childhood.

    Jesus’ method was to instruct his own students; and he watched and guarded them unto the end, even according to his promise, “Lo, I am with you alway!” Nowhere in the four Gospels will Christian Scientists find any precedent for employing another student to take charge of their students, or for neglecting their own students, in order to enlarge their sphere of action.

    Above all, trespass not intentionally upon other people’s thoughts, by endeavoring to influence other minds to any action not first made known to them or sought by them. Corporeal and selfish influence is human, fallible, and temporary; but incorporeal impulsion is divine, infallible, and 90eternal. The student should be most careful not to thrust aside Science, and shade God’s window which lets in light, or seek to stand in God’s stead.

    Does the faithful shepherd forsake the lambs, — retaining his salary for tending the home flock while he is serving another fold? There is no evidence to show that Jesus ever entered the towns whither he sent his disciples; no evidence that he there taught a few hungry ones, and then left them to starve or to stray. To these selected ones (like “the elect lady” to whom St. John addressed one of his epistles) he gave personal instruction, and gave in plain words, until they were able to fulfil his behest and depart on their united pilgrimages. This he did, even though one of the twelve whom he kept near himself betrayed him, and others forsook him.

    The true mother never willingly neglects her children in their early and sacred hours, consigning them to the care of nurse or stranger. Who can feel and comprehend the needs of her babe like the ardent mother? What other heart yearns with her solicitude, endures with her patience, waits with her hope, and labors with her love, to promote the welfare and happiness of her children? Thus must the Mother in Israel give all her hours to those first sacred tasks, till her children can walk steadfastly in wisdom’s ways.

    One of my students wrote to me: “I believe the proper thing for us to do is to follow, as nearly as we can, in the path you have pursued!” It is gladdening to find, in such a student, one of the children of light. It is safe to leave with God the government of man. He appoints and He 91anoints His Truth-bearers, and God is their sure defense and refuge.

    The parable of “the prodigal son” is rightly called “the pearl of parables,” and our Master’s greatest utterance may well be called “the diamond sermon.” No purer and more exalted teachings ever fell upon human ears than those contained in what is commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount, — though this name has been given it by compilers and translators of the Bible, and not by the Master himself or by the Scripture authors. Indeed, this title really indicates more the Master’s mood, than the material locality.

    Where did Jesus deliver this great lesson — or, rather, this series of great lessons — on humanity and divinity? On a hillside, near the sloping shores of the Lake of Galilee, where he spake primarily to his immediate disciples.

    In this simplicity, and with such fidelity, we see Jesus ministering to the spiritual needs of all who placed themselves under his care, always leading them into the divine order, under the sway of his own perfect understanding. His power over others was spiritual, not corporeal. To the students whom he had chosen, his immortal teaching was the bread of Life. When he was with them, a fishing-boat became a sanctuary, and the solitude was peopled with holy messages from the All-Father. The grove became his class-room, and nature’s haunts were the Messiah’s university.

    What has this hillside priest, this seaside teacher, done for the human race? Ask, rather, what has he not done. His holy humility, unworldliness, and self-abandonment 92wrought infinite results. The method of his religion was not too simple to be sublime, nor was his power so exalted as to be unavailable for the needs of suffering mortals, whose wounds he healed by Truth and Love.

    His order of ministration was “first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” May we unloose the latchets of his Christliness, inherit his legacy of love, and reach the fruition of his promise: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”