APPENDIX TO PART 1
Assembled in the largest church business meeting ever held in Boston — perhaps the largest ever held in the United States — the members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, The Mother Church of the denomination, voted yesterday afternoon to raise any part of two million dollars that might be needed to build in this city a church edifice capable of seating between four and five thousand persons. This astonishing motion was passed with both unanimity and assurance. It was not even talked over, beyond two brief explanations why the building was needed. Learning that a big church was required, the money to provide it was pledged with the readiness and despatch of an ordinary mortal passing out a nickel for carfare.
The last parcel in the block bounded by Falmouth, Norway, and St. Paul Streets, in the shape of a triangle, has passed to the ownership of the Christian Science church, the deed being taken by Ira O. Knapp et al., 66trustees. The purchase of this parcel, which is known as the Hotel Brookline, a four-story brick building also in the shape of a triangle, gives to the above society the ownership of the entire block.
During the past two weeks considerable activity has been going on in property on these streets, no less than ten estates having been conveyed by deed to the Christian Science church, and now comes the purchase of the last parcel on St. Paul Street by the above society, which gives them the ownership of the entire block.
Just what use the society will make of the property has not been stated, but it is said that a number of changes will be made that will enable the church to expand, and to do so it was necessary to have this property. No block is so well situated for church purposes as this one, being in a fine part of the city.
Artisans and artists are working night and day and craftsmen are hurrying on with their work to make the spacious and elegant edifice complete for the elaborate observances of Sunday, when six services will be held, and when the words of Mary Baker Eddy will come from her beautiful home, Pleasant View, in Concord, N.H., welcoming her children and giving her blessing to the structure.
The services of Sunday will mark an epoch in the history of Christian Science. Since the discovery by Mrs. Eddy, many beautiful houses of worship have been erected, but never before has such a grand church been built as that 67which raises its dome above the city at the corner of Falmouth and Norway Streets.
|Extension of The Mother Church|
|Shape, triangular||220x220x236 ft.|
|Area of site||40,000 sq. ft.|
|Checking facilities||3,000 garments|
|Notable Dates in Christian Science|
|Christian Science discovered||1866|
|First church organized||1879|
|First church erected||1894|
|Corner-stone of cathedral laid||1904|
|Cathedral to be dedicated||1906|
Two million dollars was set aside for the building of this addition to The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and the money was used in giving Boston an edifice that is a marvel of architectural beauty. But one church in the country exceeds it in seating capacity, and, while vaster sums of money were spent in other instances, never was a more artistic effect reached.
This new temple, begun nearly two years ago, will in its simple grandeur surpass any church edifice erected in this city. Notwithstanding its enormous size, it is so proportionately built that its massiveness is unnoticed in the graceful outlines.
68 Built in the Italian Renaissance style, the interior of this church is carried out with the end in view of impressing the audiences with the beauty and strength of the design. The great auditorium, with its high-domed ceiling, supported on four arches springing from the tops of great stone piers, contains about one mile and a half of pews.
The Readers’ platform is of a beautiful foreign marble, and the color scheme for all the auditorium is of a warm gray, to harmonize with the Bedford stone which enters so largely into the interior finish.
Where ceiling or roof and side walls come together no sharp angles are visible, such meetings presenting an oval and dome appearance and forming a gently curved and panelled surface, whereon are placed inscriptions illustrative of the faith of Christian Science.
Another unusual feature is the foyer, where five thousand people can freely move. Adjoining this foyer are the Sunday School and the administration offices, while in the basement is a cloak-room of the capacity of three thousand wraps.
If one would get an idea of the size of this building and the manner in which the dome seems to dominate the entire city, the best point of view is on top of the tower in Mt. Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, some four miles away. From this point the building and dome can be seen 70in their relation to the city itself, and it certainly looks imposing.
One thing is certain: for a religion which has been organized only thirty years, and which erected its first church only twelve years ago, Christian Science has more fine church edifices to its credit in the same time than any other denomination in the world, and they are all paid for.
The chimes for the new Christian Science temple are worthy of the dome. The effect on all within earshot is quite remarkable. They say that workingmen stopped in the street and stood in silent admiration while the chimes were being tested the other day. Millet’s “Angelus” had living reproductions on every corner in the neighborhood.
The new church is replete with rare bits of art, chosen from the works of both ancient and modern masters, but there is nothing more wonderful than the organ which has been installed. Nowhere in the world is there a more beautiful, more musical, or more capable instrument. In reality it is a combination of six organs, with four manuals, seventy-two stops, nineteen couplers, nineteen adjustable combination pistons, three balanced swells, a grand crescendo pedal, seven combination pedals, and forty-five hundred and thirty-eight pipes, the largest of which is thirty-two feet long. Attached to the organ is 71a set of cathedral chimes, stationed in one of the towers, and some of the most intricate discoveries of organ builders enable the organist to produce the most beautiful effects by means of the bells. There is also a solo organ attached.
When these people enter this new cathedral or temple which has been in process of construction, they will find themselves in one of the most imposing church edifices in the country — yes, in the world. For in its interior architecture it is different from any other church in the world. In fact, nearly all the traditions of church interior architecture have been set aside in this temple, for here are neither nave, aisles, nor transept — just one vast auditorium which will seat exactly five thousand and twelve people on floor and galleries, and seat them comfortably. And what is more, every person seated in the auditorium, either on floor or galleries, can see and hear the two Readers who conduct the services on the platform in front of the great organ.
This was the aim and object of the architect: to construct an auditorium that would seat five thousand people, each of whom could see the Readers, and with such nicely 72adjusted acoustic properties that each person could hear what was said. To do this it was necessary to set aside the traditions of interior church architecture.
The gates of Boston are open wide in welcome to nobility. Never before has the city been more frequented by members of the titled aristocracy of the old world than it is now. From all the centres of Europe there are streaming into town lords and ladies who come to attend the dedication of the new church for Christian Scientists.
Briefly that is the notice which Stephen A. Chase, treasurer of the building fund of the new Christian Science temple, sent forth to the thirty thousand or more Christian Scientists who have come to Boston to attend the dedication exercises, and also through the Christian Science Sentinel to members of the church all over the world.
That is the way the Christian Scientists began when they erected the first church in Boston twelve years ago 73— The Mother Church. Then it was found necessary to issue a similar notice or order, and even to return more than ten thousand dollars which had been oversubscribed. They have erected dozens of churches all over this country and in other countries since that time, but it is claimed that very few of them owe a cent.
Christian Scientists are flocking from all over the world to Boston to-day, as they have been for several days past and will be for several days to come, to attend the June meetings of The Mother Church and the dedication of the new temple.
The headquarters was thrown open to visitors this forenoon in Horticultural Hall, corner of Huntington and Massachusetts Avenues. It is in charge of G. D. Robertson, and here the visitors will receive all information concerning rooms and board, hotels, railroads, etc. There is here also a post-office to which all mail may be directed, and telegraph and telephone service.
Special trains and extra sections of trains are due to arrive in Boston to-night, bearing the first instalments of the crowds of Christian Scientists from the central and 74western sections of this country. Those from abroad and from the far West to a large degree are already in Boston. From now until Saturday night the inrush will be from the sections within two or three days’ ride, and no doubt the night trains of Saturday will bring considerable numbers of belated church members from New York and elsewhere who will arrive in this city just about in time for the first Sunday service.
The Christian Scientists are here in force, and they are very interesting and agreeable visitors, even to those who are unable to accompany them in their triumph of mind over matter. Boston is indebted to them for one of the finest architectural achievements in this or any other city, and other denominations might profit by their example of paying for their church before dedicating it. It is a monument to the sincerity of their faith; and the pride and satisfaction that is not only evident from their addresses but reflected in their faces, is justifiable. They are an intelligent and a happy appearing body, and even if those outside are unable to believe that they have escaped from the bondage of the material world, it would be idle to attempt to deny them the satisfaction that springs from a belief in such emancipation. Our present relations with them are as the guests of the city, and as such they are welcome.
Within two weeks we have had here the representatives of the two poles of healing, the material and the mental, and each is interesting, one for its hopefulness and the other for its novelty. Whatever opinions we may enter75tain of the value of the latter, we cannot well withhold our respectful acknowledgment of its enthusiasm, its energy, and its faith in its fundamentals. Its votaries are certainly holding the centre of the stage this week.
Yesterday was a busy day at the headquarters of the Christian Scientists in Horticultural Hall. They poured into the city from every direction and most of them headed straight for Horticultural Hall, where they were assigned rooms in hotels or lodging-houses, if they had not already been provided for. So perfect have been all the preliminary arrangements for the handling of a great number of visitors that there has not been the slightest hitch in the matter of securing accommodations. And if there was it would not make much difference, for these people would take it all very good-naturedly. They do not get excited over trifles. They are very patient and good-natured. Crowded as the hall was yesterday, and warm as the day was, there was not the slightest evidence of temper, no matter how far they had travelled or what discomforts they might have endured in their travels.
According to the custom of the Christian Scientists, the big addition to The Mother Church will be dedicated to-morrow free from debt. No church has ever yet been dedicated by this denomination with any part of the expense of its construction remaining unprovided for, and 76it went without saying that the same practice would be followed with this new two-million-dollar edifice, the largest of them all. Up to within ten days the notices that more money was needed had been in circulation, and new contributions were constantly being received; but on June 2 it became evident to the Board of Directors that enough money was on hand to provide for the entire cost of the building, and the formal announcement was made that no more contributions to the building fund were needed. That it was received with rejoicing by the thousands of church members and their friends only feebly expresses the gratification.
A similar decision was reached and published at the time of the dedication of The Mother Church in 1895, all of which goes to show the earnestness and loyalty which Christian Scientists manifest in the support of their church work, and which enables them to dedicate their churches free of debt without exception. The estimated cost of the extension of The Mother Church was pledged by the members assembled in their annual church meeting in Boston, in 1902, and all contributions have been voluntary.
There will be dedicated in Boston to-morrow the first great monument to Christian Science, the new two-million-dollar cathedral erected by the devotees of a religion which twenty-seven years ago was founded in Boston by Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy with a membership of twenty-six persons.
The new structure, which is now completed, has for 77months been the cynosure of all eyes because of its great size, beautiful architecture, and the novelty of the cult which it represents. This temple is one of the largest in the world. It has a seating capacity of over five thousand. In this respect it leads the Auditorium of Chicago. Beside it the dome of the Massachusetts State House, which is the leading landmark of Boston, pales into insignificance, as its dimensions are only half as great.
From all over the world Christian Scientists are rapidly gathering in this city to participate in the most notable feature in the life of their cult. From beyond the Rockies, from Canada, from Great Britain, and practically every civilized country, daily trainloads of pilgrims are pouring into Boston, and it is estimated that not less than twenty-five thousand visitors will participate in the dedication.
Over the heads of a multitude which began to gather at daybreak and which filled the streets leading to the magnificent temple of the Christian Science church, there pealed from the chimes a first hymn of thanksgiving at six o’clock this morning. It was dedication day, and Christian Scientists from all quarters of the globe were present to participate in the occasion.
It was estimated that nearly forty thousand believers had gathered in Boston. Word was conveyed to them that the temple would open its doors absolutely free of debt, every penny of the two million dollars required to build the imposing edifice in the Back Bay district having been secured by voluntary subscription.
78 The seating capacity of the temple is five thousand, and in order that all might participate in the dedication, six services, identical in character, were held during the morning, afternoon, and evening.
The worshippers saw an imposing structure of gray stone with a massive dome rising to a height of two hundred and twenty-four feet and visible from every quarter of the city. The multitude passed through the twelve entrances beneath a series of arches in the several facades. They looked upon an interior done in soft gray with decorative carvings peculiarly rich and impressive. The seating is accomplished in a semi-circular sweep of mahogany pews and in triple galleries.
At the close of the Lesson-Sermon, and in accordance with the custom of the Christian Science church, the entire congregation knelt in silent communion, followed by the audible repetition of the Lord’s Prayer. One of the remarkable features of the services was the congregation singing in perfect unison. The acoustic properties of the temple, in spite of its vast interior, were found to be perfect.
No mere words can convey the peculiar impressiveness of the half past twelve service; the little children, awed by the grandeur of the great room in which they were seated, drinking in every word of the exercises and apparently understanding all they heard, joining with their shrill 79voices in the singing and responsive reading, and then, at the last, kneeling for silent communion before the pews, in absolute stillness, their eyes closed and their solemn little faces turned upward.
To those who seem to see no good in Christian Science, it must stagger their faith not a little to read the account of the dedication of the vast temple located in the heart of the city of Boston, the supposed fountain of knowledge and seat of learning of America; the spectacle of thirty thousand people assembling to gain admission to the temple shows an enthusiasm for Christian Science seldom witnessed anywhere in the world on any occasion; and this occurred in staid old Boston, and the fact was heralded in flaming headlines in the leading newspapers of the world. According to the despatches, that assembly was not a gathering of “the vulgar throng;” the intelligence and wisdom of the country were there. There certainly must be something more than a fad in Christian Science, which was placed upon a far higher pedestal by that demonstration than it ever occupied before.
Quietly, without a trace of fanaticism, making their remarkable statements with a simplicity which sprang from the conviction that they would be believed, scores of Christian Scientists told of cures from diseases, physical and mental, at the testimony meetings that marked the 80close of their visit to Boston; cures that carried one back to the age of miracles. To hear prosperous, contented men and women, people of substance and of standing, earnestly assure thousands of auditors that they had been cured of blindness, of consumption in its advanced stages, of heart disease, of cancer; that they had felt no pain when having broken bones set; that when wasted unto death they had been made whole, constituted a severe tax upon frail human credulity, yet they were believed.
Meetings were held in the extension of The Mother Church, in the extension vestry, in the old auditorium of The Mother Church, in The Mother Church vestry, Horticultural Hall (Exhibition Hall), Horticultural Hall (Lecture Hall), Jordan Hall, Potter Hall, Howe and Woolson Halls, Chickering Hall.
At each of the meetings the introductory services were identical, consisting of hymns, an appropriate reading from the Bible, and selections from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy.
Fifteen thousand Scientists crowded into the auditorium of the extension of The Mother Church, into the old church, into Horticultural Hall, Jordan Hall, Potter Hall, Woolson Hall, and Chickering Hall, and it took ten meetings to accommodate the great throngs who wanted to give testimony or who wanted to hear it. And when these places had all been filled, there were many hundreds waiting vainly in the streets. A few were upon the scene as early as three o’clock in the afternoon to secure seats in the main body of the church, where the largest meeting was held, and long before seven the auditorium was comfortably filled.
81 Upon entering The Mother Church one was immediately struck with the air of well-being and of prosperity of the great congregation. The Scientists fairly radiate good nature and healthy satisfaction with life. No pessimistic faces there! So ingrained is this good nature, so complete this self-abnegation, that at the very height of fervor, when bursting with a desire to testify to the benefits and the healing power of the faith, one of them would pause and laughingly give precedence to another who had been the first to catch the Reader’s eye.
When Mr. McCrackan announced at the main meeting that they were ready to receive testimony, up leaped half a dozen Scientists. They had been told to name, before beginning, the places where they lived. “Indianapolis!” “Des Moines!” “Glasgow!” “Cuba!” “Dresden!” “Peoria!” they cried. No more cosmopolitan audience ever sat in Boston.
Those who poured out their debts of gratitude for ills cured, for hearts lifted up, spoke simply and gratefully, but occasionally the voices would ring out in a way there was no mistaking. In those people was the depth of sincerity, and, when they sang, the volume of holy song rose tingling to the great dome, swelling as one voice. It was a practical demonstration of the Scientist claims, a fitting close to a memorable week.
If an attempt were made to give any account of the marvellous cures narrated at the meetings of the Scientists, or wherever two or more of them are met together, it would be impossible to convey a conception of the fervor of belief with which each tells his or her experience. These are tales of people of standing and of substance, professional men, hard-headed shrewd busi82ness men. Yet they all have the same stories of their conversion, either through a cure to themselves or to one near and dear to them.
For a while this morning it looked as though all the Christian Scientists who have been crowding Boston the last week were trying to get away at the same time. Hotels, boarding-houses, and private houses were disgorging trunks and smaller articles of baggage so fast that it was a matter of wonder where there could be secured express wagons enough to accommodate the demand.
At the dedicatory services of The Mother Church extension on Sunday, and at the sessions of the annual meeting, Tuesday, it was the pride of the Church Directors that the edifice was emptied of its crowds in something like ten minutes. It would seem that this ability to get away when the entertainment is over is a distinguishing characteristic of Christian Scientists, for at noon to-day [June 14] the indications were that Boston would be emptied of its twenty thousand and more visitors by midnight to-night.
Although the Scientists came to Boston in such numbers and are departing with such remarkable expedition, their going will not be noticeable to the residents of Boston, except perhaps those living in the streets leading directly 83to Horticultural Hall. This fact will be due to the custom Christian Scientists have of never going about labelled. Ordinarily the holding of a great convention is patent to every one residing in the convention city. Up at Horticultural Hall the one hundred and fifty members of the local arrangement committee wore tiny white, unmarked buttons, for their own self-identification, otherwise there has been no flaunting of badges or insignia of any kind. Christian Scientists frequently wear a small pin, but this is usually hidden away in the laces of the women’s frocks, and the men go entirely unadorned.
Therefore, with the exception of the street-car men and policemen, who will doubtless have fewer questions as to locality to answer, and the hotel and restaurant keepers, who will have time to rest and sleep, the public at large will scarcely realize that the Scientists have gone.
The meeting of the Christian Scientists in this city naturally takes on a tone of deserved satisfaction, in view of the announcement, which has just been made, that the two million dollars needed for the construction of the new temple has been raised even before the building itself has been completed.
The thirty thousand visitors have other evidences of the strength and growth of their organization, which has made steady gains in recent years. But of this particular example of the readiness of the members to bear each his or her share of the necessary expense of church 84work, the facts speak more plainly than mere assertion could. Nothing is more of a drag on a church than a heavy debt, the interest on which calls for practically all the resources of the institution. Many a clergyman can testify from his own experience how a “church debt” cramps and retards and holds back work that would otherwise be done. It is a rule in some denominations that a church edifice may not be formally dedicated until it be wholly free from debt. And the experience of many generations has affirmed its wisdom.
Boston is the Mecca for Christian Scientists all over the world. The new temple is something to be proud of. Its stately cupola is a fitting crown for the other architectural efforts in that section of the Back Bay.
Boston is near to another great demonstration of the growth of the Christian Science idea in numbers, wealth, vigor, and faithful adherence. It is a remarkable story which the gathering here tells. Its very magnitude and the cheerful optimism and energy of its followers impress even the man who cannot reconcile himself to the methods and tenets of the sect. Its hold and development are most notable.
The gathering of Christian Scientists for the dedication of the beautiful structure on Falmouth Street, which is to take place on Sunday, is notable in many ways. It 85is remarkable in the character of the assembling membership, in its widely international range, and in the significance of the occasion.
The growth of this cult is the marvel of the age. Thirty years ago it was comparatively unknown; one church and a mere handful of members measured its vogue. To-day its adherents number probably a million, its churches have risen by hundreds, and its congregations meet in Europe and in the antipodes, as from the Atlantic to the Pacific on this continent.
One does not need to accept the doctrines of Mrs. Eddy to recognize the fact that this wonderful woman is a world power. This is conclusive; it is conspicuously manifest. And here in Boston the zeal and enthusiasm of the followers of this creed have been manifested in the building of a church structure which will hold place among the architectural beauties of the country.
Another glory for Boston, another “landmark” set in the illustrious list for future generations to reverence and admire! The Science church has become the great centre of attraction, not merely for its thousands of worshippers, but for a multitude of strangers to whom this historic city is the Mecca of their love and duty. Last Sunday it was entirely credible that the spirit of faith and brotherhood rested on this structure, which is absolutely unique in its symmetrical and appropriate design. Aside from every other consideration, this church, with its noble dome of pure gray tint, forming one of the few perfect sky-lines in an American city, is doubly 86welcomed. Henceforth the greeting of admiring eyes, too often unaccustomed to fine architectural effects, will be constant and sincere.
Thousands of Christian Scientists have been pouring into Boston in the past few days to be present at the dedication yesterday of their new two-million-dollar church, and to take part in the subsequent ceremonies and exercises. Not only was every cent of the estimated cost contributed before the actual work was completed, but the treasurer of the building fund of the great temple appealed to his brethren to give no more money, since he had enough. This must be regarded as an extraordinary achievement, and one which indicates plainly enough the generosity of the devotion that the Christian Scientists maintain towards their church.
The attendance at the ceremonies yesterday was remarkable, probably unprecedented, as regards numbers. Not even the great size of the auditorium could accommodate the throng of participants. At each of the identical services, repeated at intervals from early morning 87until the evening, the attendance was greater than the building could contain. And the transportation facilities of the town have been strained to their utmost to care for the multitudes going and coming.
The temporary increase of the population of Boston has been apparent to the most casual observer. And so, we think, must be the characteristics of this crowd of visitors. It is a pleasant, congenial, quietly happy, well-to-do, intellectual, and cheerfully contented multitude that has invaded the town. There are among them visitors of title and distinction, but one does not notice these unless they are pointed out. The impression created is that of a great gathering of people we like to know and like to have here.
We congratulate these comfortable acquaintances upon the fact that they have their costly church fully paid for, and we feel that Boston is to be congratulated upon the acquisition of an edifice so handsome architecturally.
I do not think I have ever seen more cheerful looking groups of people than I have met in Boston during the past few days. Their happy faces would make sunshine on the grayest day. If Christian Science gives such serene, beautiful expressions, it would not be a bad thing if all the world turned to the new religion. There is one thing about it: it is certainly imbued with the spirit of unselfishness and helpfulness, and, whatever one’s special creed may be, there is nothing antagonistic to it in this doctrine of health, happiness, and in the cheerful doing of good.
Twenty thousand Christian Scientists have assembled at Boston to attend the opening of their great new temple. Christian Science, as now before this continent, is the development of a short lifetime. It shows strength in all parts, and among classes above the average in intelligence.
The dedication, Sunday, in Boston, of the new Mother Church of the Christian Science faith was a ceremonial of far more than usual ecclesiastic significance. The edifice itself is so rich in the architectural symbolisms of aspiration and faith, its proportions are so large, and its accommodations are so wide, that its dedication abounds in remarkable external manifestations which must arrest public attention. But externals constitute the smallest feature of the Christian Science faith, and this beautiful temple, striking as are its beauties, is only a slight and material development in evidence of that beauty and serenity of faith, life, and love which finds its temple in the heart of all that increasing host who have found the truths of Christian Science to be a marvellous revelation given to this generation by a noble and devoted woman, to whom they rightfully turn with respect and affection.
The stoutest enemies of Christian Science will confess at least an æsthetic debt to that great and growing cult, which is implied in the building of a great church in Bos89ton. This church is one of the largest and seemliest in America, and in its size, if not in its aspect, it may be held to symbolize that faith which is so much a faith that all facts inhospitable to it are deemed by its professors not to exist at all. The building is of light stone, with a dome over two hundred and twenty feet high, a chime of bells, and one of the largest organs in the world. The architect has joined lightness and grace to solidity, and the edifice needs only an open space about it, such as one finds in the English cathedrals, to achieve its extreme of beauty. A sect that leaves such a monument has not lived in vain.
A remarkable thing in this building is that, although it cost two million dollars, it is not blanketed with debts and mortgages. Everything, even to the flagstones in front of it, is paid for, and subscriptions are not solicited. Here is an occasion for joy that marks it as different from almost all other of the Christian churches, where petitions for money are almost as constant as petitions for divine mercy.
The dedication of the new Mother Church of the Christian Scientists in Boston is not a matter of interest to that city alone, but to the nation; not to the nation alone, but to the world; not to this time alone, but to history.
The growth of this form of religious faith has been one of the marvels of the last quarter century. It is, in some respects, the greatest religious phenomenon of all history. That a woman should found a religious movement of international sway; that its followers should number 90many thousands during her lifetime; that hundreds of great buildings should be filled at every meeting Sundays or on week-days with devout worshippers, wooed by no eloquence of orator or magnetic ritual, — all these things are new, utterly new, in the history of religious expression.
Unaccountable? Hardly so. Whatever else it is, this faith is real and is given very real tests. Thousands upon thousands believe that it has cured them of diseases many and diverse. All the passionate love for life with which nature endows the children of men, grips hold of their faith and insures fidelity in pain or death for self or dear ones. But, while health-seeking is the door to this gospel for many, it is not the only source of appeal. A faith which teaches that hate is atheism, that discord is poisonous, that gloom is sin, has a mission that can be readily grasped by sick or well.
The dedication of The Mother Church of Christian Science at Boston, with its paid-up cost of two million dollars and its tremendous outpouring of eager communicants from all over the civilized world, is an event of impressiveness and momentous significance. The historic place of Mrs. Eddy as the Founder of a great denomination can no longer be questioned, and the sources of her power and following can be readily apprehended. Prominent among these is the denomination’s peculiar department of healing, the efficacy of which to some extent is established 91beyond cavil. The immense membership of the body is proof positive that it supplies these persons, most of whom were already nominal Christians, something they did not find in other communions. It affords refutation of the notion that spiritual and mystic mediation has been drowned out in this so-called commercial age. The Christian Scientists set a good example to other denominations in requiring their church edifices to be fully paid for before they are dedicated. It is to be said for Christian Science that no person’s spiritual aspirations were ever deadened or his moral standards debased through its agency. Its communicants are cheerful and shed sunshine about them — no insignificant element in true Christianity.
The dedication of a Christian Science temple at Boston serves to call attention to one of the most remarkable religious movements that this country or any other country has ever known. It has not been very many years since Christian Science was announced as a discovery of Mary Baker Eddy of Concord, N.H. The few thousand persons who followed Mrs. Eddy during the first years of her preaching were the objects of much ridicule, but despite the obstacles put in the way the church has continued to grow. Its growth in numbers is remarkable, but even stranger is its increase in wealth. The temple which has just been dedicated at Boston cost two million dollars, and is one of the finest places of worship in the world, at least it is the largest in New England. This Mother Church is absolutely free from debt. After but a few years, Christian Science has congregations in every im92portant town and city of the United States. Of course the new idea will never have determined its real position in the doctrines of the world until it has stood the test of time. But its beginning has been impressive, and that large numbers of intelligent men and women should be converted to it makes it appear that Science cannot be brushed aside by ridicule alone.
The prodigious convention of Christian Scientists in Boston is a portent worthy of perhaps even more interest than it has evoked in that city, where a new temple to Isis and Osiris would be hardly more than a day’s wonder. With the swift growth of the new faith the public has in a general way been familiar; it is but a few years ago that the astonishing revelation was made that since 1890 its following had increased from an insignificant number to hundreds of thousands, a rate at which every other sect in the country would soon be left behind. But mere statistics give a feeble impression in comparison with so huge and concrete a demonstration as the dedication of this vast temple. The statistics have been ridiculed by the hostile as mere guesswork, but one cannot sneer away the two-million-dollar stone edifice or the thirty thousand worshippers who entered its portals Sunday.
There are two things to be said in favor of Christian Science. Its growth has been wonderfully rapid, and due apparently to nothing save the desire in the human heart for some such comfort as it promises. Christian Scientists, 93as a class, so far as the writer knows them, are happy, gentle, and virtuous. They are multiplying without efforts at proselytizing; they are in no wise at war with society; and they have little of the spirit of bigotry. The dedication of their great church in Boston is a material evidence of their prosperity; and it may be said that if their opinions seem visionary, there is nothing in them to attract any class save the moderately well-to-do, the intelligent, and the well-behaved. It has been said cynically that a religion prospers according to the pledges which it holds out to its votaries; and though Christian Science promises nothing in the way of gratifying the passions or attaining dominion over others, yet it has rare lures for weary hearts, — physical health and spiritual peace.
Those of us who do not accept the doctrine of Christian Science are possibly too prone to approach it in a spirit of levity, too often disposed to touch upon it with the tongue of facetiousness. Too often we see only its ridiculous phases, attaching meanwhile no importance to the saneness and common sense which underlie many of the practices in its name. And many of us have missed entirely its tremendous growth and the part it has come to play in the economy of our social and religious life.
To those of us who have overlooked these essentials of its hold upon the public, certain statistics brought to light by the great meeting of the church now being held in Boston will come in the nature of a revelation. In 1890 the faith had but an insignificant following. To-day its adherents number hundreds of thousands, and if the 94growth continues in like proportion through another decade every other sect will be left behind in the race for numerical supremacy. The figures given out by the church itself have been ridiculed by the hostile as mere guesswork, but some of the evidence appears in the concrete and cannot be combated. “One cannot sneer away the two-million-dollar stone edifice or the thirty thousand worshippers who entered its portals Sunday,” says the Springfield Republican. Neither can we overlook the steady, consistent growth of the sect in every community in which it has found a foothold. In the adherence of its converts to the faith, and in the absence of dissent among them in the interpretation of its tenets, there is also much to convince the skeptic.
The remarkable growth and the apparent permanency of Christian Science were noted in the recent dedication in Boston of the magnificent new temple of the cult. When the doors were opened to the public, the structure was free from debt. While the dedicatory services were being held at different hours of the day, forty thousand Christian Scientists from every State in the Union and from many foreign countries were in attendance.
Although Mrs. Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, was not in attendance, she sent greetings in which she declared that the “crowning ultimate” of the church “rises to a mental monument, a superstructure high above the work of men’s hands, even the outcome of their hearts, giving to the material a spiritual significance — the speed, beauty, and achievements of goodness.”
But a few years ago, men there were who predicted that 95Christian Science would soon be included among the cults which flourish for a time like a green bay-tree, and are then forgotten. Those predictions have not been verified. The church which has been built upon the tenets first presented by Mrs. Eddy is being constantly strengthened by members who represent the intelligence of many communities in different parts of the world.
The dedication of the magnificent Christian Science church in Boston has brought that cheerful and prosperous body of believers before the press gallery of commentators. They have built a huge church, which has cost them about two million dollars, and it has a dome which rivals that of the famous old Massachusetts State House. During the great assembly of forty thousand Christian Scientists in Boston they were described in the newspapers of the Hub as a contented and well-dressed body of people.
The faith of these people is certainly great. They go about telling of miracles performed in this twentieth century when “advanced” clergymen of other denominations are avowing their disbelief in the miraculous.
It is doubtful if, since the days of the primitive Christians, there has been such a wonderful demonstration of religious faith and enlightened zeal as that exhibited at 96Boston, Sunday, when forty thousand Christian Scientists from all parts of the world assembled to participate in the dedication of the extension of The Mother Church of that denomination. These people were of the highest order of intelligence, many of them prominent figures in the social and business world, and none of them afflicted with the slightest trace of fanaticism. The gathering can in no sense, save one, be compared with those of Mecca and the Hindu shrines, where fanaticism dominates everything else. The one point of resemblance is that the Christian Scientists are thoroughly in earnest and take joy in attesting their faith in the creed of the church of their choice. It is a faith based upon reason, and reached only through intelligent and unbiased study and comparison with other creeds.
A remarkable feature, perhaps the most remarkable, of the gathering was the generosity of its adherents towards their church. The building they were in Boston to dedicate cost approximately two million dollars. Members were invited to contribute what they could to pay for it. The money was sent in such quantities that before the day set for the dedication arrived the fund was full to overflowing and the members were asked to quit giving.
It is the custom to sneer at Christian Science, but it is evident that the cult will soon be beyond the sneering point. The dedication of what is known as The Mother Church extension in Boston, the other day, was attended by people from all parts of the United States. And they were people of intelligence.
The fact is that Christian Science just goes a little 97beyond what almost every one is inclined to admit. The best physicians now admit the power of mind over matter. They believe that firm faith on the part of a sick person, for instance, will go far towards making the patient well. These same physicians, however, ridicule the idea of a patient getting well without the use of medicine. It has yet to be shown that of the sick who abjure medicine a larger proportion have died than among those who were medically treated. The Journal has kept no books on the subject, and is not a Christian Scientist, but believes that if the figures could be given they might show that the Scientists have a little the advantage so far as this goes.
Zion’s Herald, a rather bitter critic of Mrs. Eddy and her cult, speaks of “the audacious, stupendous, inexplicable faith of this well-dressed, good-looking, eminently respectable, evidently wealthy congregation in their teacher and her utterances.” The opening of the new Mother Church of the Christian Science faith at Boston has opened the eyes of the country anew to the growth of the new church and the zeal of its membership.
The Christian Scientists who descended upon Boston to the number of forty thousand last week to dedicate the new temple, just built at a cost of two million dollars, have mostly departed, but Boston has not yet recovered from the effects produced by that stupendous gathering. The incidents witnessed during the week were calculated to 98impress the most determined skeptic. Forty thousand people truly make up a mighty host, but these, it is declared, are but a twentieth of the Christian Science army in this country to-day, and this is the wonderful growth of less than a score of years. Christian Science may be anything that its foes try to prove it to be, but that magnificent church, holding five thousand people, dedicated free from debt, and the centre of an enthusiasm and reverence of worship such as religious annals hardly parallel in modern times, is a tangible reality, and critics who seek the light must have done with scoffs and jeers if they would deal with the phenomenon with any effect.
The last issue of the Christian Science Sentinel contains a rather remarkable announcement to the effect that friends were requested to send no more money for the building of the church which was recently dedicated at Boston. This structure cost about two million dollars, and all of the funds required to build it were raised in a little less than three years. It was dedicated absolutely free of debt, and no member of the church anywhere, in this country or elsewhere, was asked to contribute a dollar. Contributions were entirely voluntary. No resort was had to any of the latter-day methods of raising money. The record is one of which any church might well be proud.
The erection in Boston of the two-million-dollar church of the Christian Scientists and its dedication free from debt has been a wonderful achievement, but as our con99temporary, the Boston Times, comments, it is but one of the marvellous, great, and really good things that this sect is doing. It says: “A faith which is able to raise its believers above the suffering of petty ills; a religion that makes the merry heart that doeth good like a medicine, not a necessity, but a pleasure and an essential; a cult able to promote its faith with so great an aggregation of good and beneficial works, is welcomed within our midst and bidden Godspeed.”
Christian Scientists are a remarkably optimistic body of people, and it must be said in their behalf that they are enthusiasts whenever their form of religion is concerned. They have recently built a splendid cathedral in Boston, seating five thousand people, at a cost of two million dollars, and when it was dedicated there was not a cent of indebtedness left. Thirty thousand of the faith, coming from all parts of the world, attended the dedicatory exercises, and the press reports state that the contribution baskets when passed around were literally stuffed and jammed with money.
Less than a generation ago there was not a Christian Science church in the land. To-day there are hundreds of such churches. The denomination has grown with a rapidity that is startling, and the end is not yet.
Facts and figures are stubborn things, and ignore them as we may their existence points out their meaning and leaves no choice but the acceptance of them at their face value. The recent dedication of a Christian Science 100temple in Boston has inevitably brought out in connection with the event some of the facts and figures belonging to it, which are as remarkable in their aggregate as they are unmistakable in their trend. The temple recently dedicated at Boston cost about two million dollars and is therefore the property of no poverty-stricken sect. On the Sunday of the dedication, thirty thousand worshippers were present in the building, coming from all, or nearly all, parts of the country, and representing a vast number of the followers of the cult.
It is only twenty-five years, or thereabout, since the Christian Science sect made its appearance as a distinctive organization among religious bodies, but its members are numbered by thousands to-day, and they are very generally of a class who are reputable, intelligent, and who think for themselves.