Chapter 2 — Atonement and Eucharist
From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
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- Pages 18 to 34
- Pages 34 to 55
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. — PAUL.
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. — PAUL.
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. — JESUS.
ATONEMENT is the exemplification of man’s unity with God, whereby man reflects divine Truth, Life, and Love. Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man’s oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage. His mission was both individual and collective. He did life’s work aright not only in justice to himself, but in mercy to mortals,— to show them how to do theirs, but not to do it for them nor to relieve them of a single responsibility. Jesus acted boldly, against the accredited evidence of the senses, against Pharisaical creeds and practices, and he refuted all opponents with his healing power.
The atonement of Christ reconciles man to God, not God to man; for the divine Principle of Christ is God, and how can God propitiate Himself? Christ is Truth, which reaches no higher than itself. The fountain can rise no higher than its source. Christ, Truth, could conciliate no nature above his own, derived
from the eternal Love. It was therefore Christ’s purpose to reconcile man to God, not God to man. Love and Truth are not at war with God’s image and likeness. Man cannot exceed divine Love, and so atone for himself. Even Christ cannot reconcile Truth to error, for Truth and error are irreconcilable. Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus’ teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit,— the law of divine Love.
The Master forbore not to speak the whole truth, declaring precisely what would destroy sickness, sin, and death, although his teaching set households at variance, and brought to material beliefs not peace, but a sword.
Every pang of repentance and suffering, every effort for reform, every good thought and deed, will help us to understand Jesus’ atonement for sin and aid its efficacy; but if the sinner continues to pray and repent, sin and be sorry, he has little part in the atonement,— in the at-one-ment with God,— for he lacks the practical repentance, which reforms the heart and enables man to do the will of wisdom. Those who cannot demonstrate, at least in part, the divine Principle of the teachings and practice of our Master have no part in God. If living in disobedience to Him, we ought to feel no security, although God is good.
Jesus’ sinless career
Jesus urged the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” which may be rendered: Thou shalt have no belief of Life as mortal; thou shalt not know evil, for there is one Life,-
even God, good. He rendered “unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” He at last paid no homage to forms of doctrine or to theories of man, but acted and spake as he was moved, not by spirits but by Spirit.
To the ritualistic priest and hypocritical Pharisee Jesus said, “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” Jesus’ history made a new calendar, which we call the Christian era; but he established no ritualistic worship. He knew that men can be baptized, partake of the Eucharist, support the clergy, observe the Sabbath, make long prayers, and yet be sensual and sinful.
Jesus bore our infirmities; he knew the error of mortal belief, and “with his stripes [the rejection of error] we are healed.” “Despised and rejected of men,” returning blessing for cursing, he taught mortals the opposite of themselves, even the nature of God; and when error felt the power of Truth, the scourge and the cross awaited the great Teacher. Yet he swerved not, well knowing that to obey the divine order and trust God, saves retracing and traversing anew the path from sin to holiness.
Behest of the cross
Material belief is slow to acknowledge what the spiritual fact implies. The truth is the centre of all religion. It commands sure entrance into the realm of Love. St. Paul wrote, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us;” that is, let us put aside material self and sense, and seek the divine Principle and Science of all healing.
If Truth is overcoming error in your daily walk and conversation, you can finally say, “I have fought a good fight . . . I have kept the faith,” because you are a better man. This is having our part in the at-one-ment with Truth and Love. Christians do not continue to labor and pray, expecting because of another’s goodness, suffering, and triumph, that they shall reach his harmony and reward.
If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit. If honest, he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy.
If my friends are going to Europe, while I am en route for California, we are not journeying together. We have separate time-tables to consult, different routes to pursue. Our paths have diverged at the very outset, and we have little opportunity to help each other. On the contrary, if my friends pursue my course, we have the same railroad guides, and our mutual interests are identical; or, if I take up their line of travel, they help me on, and our companionship may continue.
Being in sympathy with matter, the worldly man is at the beck and call of error, and will be attracted thitherward. He is like a traveller going westward for a pleasure-trip. The company is alluring and the pleasures exciting. After following the sun for six days, he turns east on the seventh, satisfied if he can only imagine himself drifting in the right direction. By-and-by, ashamed of his zigzag course, he would borrow
the passport of some wiser pilgrim, thinking with the aid of this to find and follow the right road.
Vibrating like a pendulum between sin and the hope of forgiveness,— selfishness and sensuality causing constant retrogression,— our moral progress will be slow. Waking to Christ’s demand, mortals experience suffering. This causes them, even as drowning men, to make vigorous efforts to save themselves; and through Christ’s precious love these efforts are crowned with success.
Wait for reward
“Work out your own salvation,” is the demand of Life and Love, for to this end God worketh with you. “Occupy till I come!” Wait for your reward, and “be not weary in well doing.” If your endeavors are beset by fearful odds, and you receive no present reward, go not back to error, nor become a sluggard in the race.
When the smoke of battle clears away, you will discern the good you have done, and receive according to your deserving. Love is not hasty to deliver us from temptation, for Love means that we shall be tried and purified.
Deliverance not vicarious
Final deliverance from error, whereby we rejoice in immortality, boundless freedom, and sinless sense, is not reached through paths of flowers nor by pinning one’s faith without works to another’s vicarious effort. Whosoever believeth that wrath is righteous or that divinity is appeased by human suffering, does not understand God.
Justice and substitution
Justice requires reformation of the sinner. Mercy cancels the debt only when justice approves. Revenge is inadmissible. Wrath which is only appeased is not
destroyed, but partially indulged. Wisdom and Love may require many sacrifices of self to save us from sin. One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part. That God’s wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made. The atonement is a hard problem in theology, but its scientific explanation is, that suffering is an error of sinful sense which Truth destroys, and that eventually both sin and suffering will fall at the feet of everlasting Love.
Doctrines and faith
Rabbinical lore said: “He that taketh one doctrine, firm in faith, has the Holy Ghost dwelling in him.” This preaching receives a strong rebuke in the Scripture, “Faith without works is dead.” Faith, if it be mere belief, is as a pendulum swinging between nothing and something, having no fixity. Faith, advanced to spiritual understanding, is the evidence gained from Spirit, which rebukes sin of every kind and establishes the claims of God.
Self-reliance and confidence
In Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and English, faith and the words corresponding thereto have these two definitions, trustfulness and trustworthiness. One kind of faith trusts one’s welfare to others. Another kind of faith understands divine Love and how to work out one’s “own salvation, with fear and trembling.” “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!” expresses the helplessness of a blind faith; whereas the injunction, “Believe . . . and thou shalt be saved!” demands self-reliant trustworthiness, which includes spiritual understanding and confides all to God.
The Hebrew verb to believe means also to be firm or
to be constant. This certainly applies to Truth and Love understood and practised. Firmness in error will never save from sin, disease, and death.
Life’s healing currents
Acquaintance with the original texts, and willingness to give up human beliefs (established by hierarchies, and instigated sometimes by the worst passions of men), open the way for Christian Science to be understood, and make the Bible the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out.
He to whom “the arm of the Lord” is revealed will believe our report, and rise into newness of life with regeneration. This is having part in the atonement; this is the understanding, in which Jesus suffered and triumphed. The time is not distant when the ordinary theological views of atonement will undergo a great change, — a change as radical as that which has come over popular opinions in regard to predestination and future punishment.
Purpose of crucifixion
Does erudite theology regard the crucifixion of Jesus chiefly as providing a ready pardon for all sinners who ask for it and are willing to be forgiven? Does spiritualism find Jesus’ death necessary only for the presentation, after death, of the material Jesus, as a proof that spirits can return to earth? Then we must differ from them both.
The efficacy of the crucifixion lay in the practical affection and goodness it demonstrated for mankind. The truth had been lived among men; but until they saw that it enabled their Master to triumph over the grave, his own disciples could not admit such an event to be possible. After the resurrection, even the unbelieving Thomas was
forced to acknowledge how complete was the great proof of Truth and Love.
True flesh and blood
The spiritual essence of blood is sacrifice. The efficacy of Jesus’ spiritual offering is infinitely greater than can be expressed by our sense of human blood. The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon “the accursed tree,” than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business. His true flesh and blood were his Life; and they truly eat his flesh and drink his blood, who partake of that divine Life.
Jesus taught the way of Life by demonstration, that we may understand how this divine Principle heals the sick, casts out error, and triumphs over death. Jesus presented the ideal of God better than could any man whose origin was less spiritual. By his obedience to God, he demonstrated more spiritually than all others the Principle of being. Hence the force of his admonition, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Though demonstrating his control over sin and disease, the great Teacher by no means relieved others from giving the requisite proofs of their own piety. He worked for their guidance, that they might demonstrate this power as he did and understand its divine Principle. Implicit faith in the Teacher and all the emotional love we can bestow on him, will never alone make us imitators of him. We must go and do likewise, else we are not improving the great blessings which our Master worked and suffered to bestow upon us. The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus.
While we adore Jesus, and the heart overflows with gratitude for what he did for mortals, — treading alone his loving pathway up to the throne of glory, in speechless agony exploring the way for us, — yet Jesus spares us not one individual experience, if we follow his commands faithfully; and all have the cup of sorrowful effort to drink in proportion to their demonstration of his love, till all are redeemed through divine Love.
The Christ was the Spirit which Jesus implied in his own statements: “I am the way, the truth, and the life;” “I and my Father are one.” This Christ, or divinity of the man Jesus, was his divine nature, the godliness which animated him. Divine Truth, Life, and Love gave Jesus authority over sin, sickness, and death. His mission was to reveal the Science of celestial being, to prove what God is and what He does for man.
Proof in practice
A musician demonstrates the beauty of the music he teaches in order to show the learner the way by practice as well as precept. Jesus’ teaching and practice of Truth involved such a sacrifice as makes us admit its Principle to be Love. This was the precious import of our Master’s sinless career and of his demonstration of power over death. He proved by his deeds that Christian Science destroys sickness, sin, and death.
Our Master taught no mere theory, doctrine, or belief. It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love.
Jesus sent a message to John the Baptist, which was intended to prove beyond a question that the Christ had come: “Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” In other words: Tell John what the demonstration of divine power is, and he will at once perceive that God is the power in the Messianic work.
That Life is God, Jesus proved by his reappearance after the crucifixion in strict accordance with his scientific statement: “Destroy this temple [body], and in three days I [Spirit] will raise it up.” It is as if he had said: The I — the Life, substance, and intelligence of the universe — is not in matter to be destroyed.
Jesus’ parables explain Life as never mingling with sin and death. He laid the axe of Science at the root of material knowledge, that it might be ready to cut down the false doctrine of pantheism, — that God, or Life, is in or of matter.
Jesus sent forth seventy students at one time, but only eleven left a desirable historic record. Tradition credits him with two or three hundred other disciples who have left no name. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” They fell away from grace because they never truly understood their Master’s instruction.
Why do those who profess to follow Christ reject the essential religion he came to establish? Jesus’ persecutors made their strongest attack upon this very point. They endeavored to hold him at the mercy of matter and to kill him according to certain assumed material laws.
Help and hindrance
The Pharisees claimed to know and to teach the divine will, but they only hindered the success of Jesus’ mission. Even many of his students stood in his way. If the Master had not taken a student and taught the unseen verities of God, he would not have been crucified. The determination to hold Spirit in the grasp of matter is the persecutor of Truth and Love.
While respecting all that is good in the Church or out of it, one’s consecration to Christ is more on the ground of demonstration than of profession. In conscience, we cannot hold to beliefs outgrown; and by understanding more of the divine Principle of the deathless Christ, we are enabled to heal the sick and to triumph over sin.
Neither the origin, the character, nor the work of Jesus was generally understood. Not a single component part of his nature did the material world measure aright. Even his righteousless and purity did not hinder men from saying: He is a glutton and a friend of the impure, and Beelzebub is his patron.
Remember, thou Christian martyr, it is enough if thou art found worthy to unloose the sandals of thy Master’s feet! To suppose that persecution for righteousness’ sake belongs to the past, and that Christianity to-day is at peace with the world because it is honored by sects and societies, is to mistake the very nature of religion. Error repeats itself. The trials encountered by prophet, disciple, and apostle, “of whom the world was not worthy,” await, in some form, every pioneer of truth.
There is too much animal courage in society and not
sufficient moral courage. Christians must take up arms against error at home and abroad. They must grapple with sin in themselves and in others, and continue this warfare until they have finished their course. If they keep the faith, they will have the crown of rejoicing.
Christian experience teaches faith in the right and disbelief in the wrong. It bids us work the more earnestly in times of persecution, because then our labor is more needed. Great is the reward of self-sacrifice, though we may never receive it in this world.
The Fatherhood of God
There is a tradition that Publius Lentulus wrote to the authorities at Rome: “The disciples of Jesus believe him the Son of God.” Those instructed in Christian Science have reached the glorious perception that God is the only author of man. The Virgin-mother conceived this idea of God, and gave to her ideal the name of Jesus — that is, Joshua, or Saviour.
The illumination of Mary’s spiritual sense put to silence material law and its order of generation, and brought forth her child by the revelation of Truth, demonstrating God as the Father of men. The Holy Ghost, or divine Spirit, overshadowed the pure sense of the Virgin-mother with the full recognition that being is Spirit. The Christ dwelt forever an idea in the bosom of God, the divine Principle of the man Jesus, and woman perceived this spiritual idea, though at first faintly developed.
Man as the offspring of God, as the idea of Spirit, is the immortal evidence that Spirit is harmonious and man eternal. Jesus was the offspring of Mary’s self-
conscious communion with God. Hence he could give a more spiritual idea of life than other men, and could demonstrate the Science of Love — his Father or divine Principle.
Jesus the way-shower
Born of a woman, Jesus’ advent in the flesh partook partly of Mary’s earthly condition, although he was endowed with the Christ, the divine Spirit, without measure. This accounts for his struggles in Gethsemane and on Calvary, and this enabled him to be the mediator, or way-shower, between God and men. Had his origin and birth been wholly apart from mortal usage, Jesus would not have been appreciable to mortal mind as “the way.”
Rabbi and priest taught the Mosaic law, which said: “An eye for an eye,” and “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” Not so did Jesus, the new executor for God, present the divine law of Love, which blesses even those that curse it.
As the individual ideal of Truth, Christ Jesus came to rebuke rabbinical error and all sin, sickness, and death,to point out the way of Truth and Life. This ideal was demonstrated throughout the whole earthly career of Jesus, showing the difference between the offspring of Soul and of material sense, of Truth and of error.
If we have triumphed sufficiently over the errors of material sense to allow Soul to hold the control, we shall loathe sin and rebuke it under every mask. Only in this way can we bless our enemies, though they may not so construe our words. We cannot choose for ourselves, but must work out our salvation in the way Jesus taught. In meekness and might, he was found
preaching the gospel to the poor. Pride and fear are unfit to bear the standard of Truth, and God will never place it in such hands.
Fleshly ties temporal
Jesus acknowledged no ties of the flesh. He said: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Again he asked: “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren,” implying that it is they who do the will of his Father. We have no record of his calling any man by the name of father. He recognized Spirit, God, as the only creator, and therefore as the Father of all.
First in the list of Christian duties, he taught his followers the healing power of Truth and Love. He attached no importance to dead ceremonies. It is the living Christ, the practical Truth, which makes Jesus “the resurrection and the life” to all who follow him in deed. Obeying his precious precepts, — following his demonstration so far as we apprehend it, — we drink of his cup, partake of his bread, are baptized with his purity; and at last we shall rest, sit down with him, in a full understanding of the divine Principle which triumphs over death. For what says Paul? “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”
Referring to the materiality of the age, Jesus said: “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Again, foreseeing the persecution which would attend the Science of Spirit, Jesus said: “They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service; and these things will they
do unto you, because they have not known the Father nor me.”
In ancient Rome a soldier was required to swear allegiance to his general. The Latin word for this oath was sacramentum, and our English word sacrament is derived from it. Among the Jews it was an ancient custom for the master of a feast to pass each guest a cup of wine. But the Eucharist does not commemorate a Roman soldier’s oath, nor was the wine, used on convivial occasions and in Jewish rites, the cup of our Lord. The cup shows forth his bitter experience, — the cup which he prayed might pass from him, though he bowed in holy submission to the divine decree.
“As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it.”
The true sense is spiritually lost, if the sacrament is confined to the use of bread and wine. The disciples had eaten, yet Jesus prayed and gave them bread. This would have been foolish in a literal sense; but in its spiritual signification, it was natural and beautiful. Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views.
Jesus’ sad repast
The Passover, which Jesus ate with his disciples in the month Nisan on the night before his crucifixion, was a mournful occasion, a sad supper taken at the close of day, in the twilight of a glorious career with shadows fast falling around; and
this supper closed forever Jesus’ ritualism or concessions to matter.
His followers, sorrowful and silent, anticipating the hour of their Master’s betrayal, partook of the heavenly manna, which of old had fed in the wilderness the persecuted followers of Truth. Their bread indeed came down from heaven. It was the great truth of spiritual being, healing the sick and casting out error. Their Master had explained it all before, and now this bread was feeding and sustaining them. They had borne this bread from house to house, breaking (explaining) it to others, and now it comforted themselves.
For this truth of spiritual being, their Master was about to suffer violence and drain to the dregs his cup of sorrow. He must leave them. With the great glory of an everlasting victory overshadowing him, he gave thanks and said, “Drink ye all of it.”
The holy struggle
When the human element in him struggled with the divine, our great Teacher said: “Not my will, but Thine, be done!”— that is, Let not the flesh, but the Spirit, be represented in me. This is the new understanding of spiritual Love. It gives all for Christ, or Truth. It blesses its enemies, heals the sick, casts out error, raises the dead from trespasses and sins, and preaches the gospel to the poor, the meek in heart.
Christians, are you drinking his cup? Have you shared the blood of the New Covenant, the persecutions which attend a new and higher understanding of God? If not, can you then say that you have commemorated Jesus in his cup? Are all who eat bread and drink wine in memory of Jesus willing
truly to drink his cup, take his cross, and leave all for the Christ-principle? Then why ascribe this inspiration to a dead rite, instead of showing, by casting out error and making the body “holy, acceptable unto God,” that Truth has come to the understanding? If Christ, Truth, has come to us in demonstration, no other commemoration is requisite, for demonstration is Immanuel, or God with us; and if a friend be with us, why need we memorials of that friend?
If all who ever partook of the sacrament had really commemorated the sufferings of Jesus and drunk of his cup, they would have revolutionized the world. If all who seek his commemoration through material symbols will take up the cross, heal the sick, cast out evils, and preach Christ, or Truth, to the poor, — the receptive thought, — they will bring in the millennium.
Fellowship with Christ
Through all the disciples experienced, they became more spiritual and understood better what the Master had taught. His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities. They needed this quickening, for soon their dear Master would rise again in the spiritual realm of reality, and ascend far above their apprehension. As the reward for his faithfulness, he would disappear to material sense in that change which has since been called the ascension.
The last breakfast
What a contrast between our Lord’s last supper and his last spiritual breakfast with his disciples in the bright morning hours at the joyful meeting on the shore of the Galilean Sea! His gloom
had passed into glory, and His disciples’ grief into repentance, — hearts chastened and pride rebuked. Convinced of the fruitlessness of their toil in the dark and wakened by their Master’s voice, they changed their methods, turned away from material things, and cast their net on the right side. Discerning Christ, Truth, anew on the shore of time, they were enabled to rise somewhat from mortal sensuousness, or the burial of mind in matter, into newness of life as Spirit.
This spiritual meeting with our Lord in the dawn of a new light is the morning meal which Christian Scientists commemorate. They bow before Christ, Truth, to receive more of his reappearing and silently to commune with the divine Principle, Love. They celebrate their Lord’s victory over death, his probation in the flesh after death, its exemplification of human probation, and his spiritual and final ascension above matter, or the flesh, when he rose out of material sight.
Our baptism is a purification from all error. Our church is built on the divine Principle, Love. We can unite with this church only as we are newborn of Spirit, as we reach the Life which is Truth and the Truth which is Life by bringing forth the fruits of Love, — casting out error and healing the sick. Our Eucharist is spiritual communion with the one God. Our bread, “which cometh down from heaven,” is Truth. Our cup is the cross. Our wine the inspiration of Love, the draught our Master drank and commended to his followers.
The design of Love is to reform the sinner. If the sinner’s punishment here has been insufficient to reform him, the good man’s heaven would be a hell to
the sinner. They, who know not purity and affection by experience, can never find bliss in the blessed company of Truth and Love simply through translation into another sphere. Divine Science reveals the necessity of sufficient suffering, either before or after death, to quench the love of sin. To remit the penalty due for sin, would be for Truth to pardon error. Escape from punishment is not in accordance with God’s government, since justice is the handmaid of mercy.
Jesus endured the shame, that he might pour his dear-bought bounty into barren lives. What was his earthly reward? He was forsaken by all save John, the beloved disciple, and a few women who bowed in silent woe beneath the shadow of his cross. The earthly price of spirituality in a material age and the great moral distance between Christianity and sensualism preclude Christian Science from finding favor with the worldlyminded.
A selfish and limited mind may be unjust, but the unlimited and divine Mind is the immortal law of justice as well as of mercy. It is quite as impossible for sinners to receive their full punishment this side of the grave as for this world to bestow on the righteous their full reward. It is useless to suppose that the wicked can gloat over their offences to the last moment and then be suddenly pardoned and pushed into heaven, or that the hand of Love is satisfied with giving us only toil, sacrifice, cross-bearing, multiplied trials, and mockery of our motives in return for our efforts at well doing.
Religious history repeats itself in the suffering of the just for the unjust. Can God therefore overlook the law of righteousness which de-
stroys the belief called sin? Does not Science show that sin brings suffering as much to-day as yesterday? They who sin must suffer. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
History is full of records of suffering. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Mortals try in vain to slay Truth with the steel or the stake, but error falls only before the sword of Spirit. Martyrs are the human links which connect one stage with another in the history of religion. They are earth’s luminaries, which serve to cleanse and rarefy the atmosphere of material sense and to permeate humanity with purer ideals. Consciousness of right-doing brings its own reward; but not amid the smoke of battle is merit seen and appreciated by lookers-on.
When will Jesus’ professed followers learn to emulate him in all his ways and to imitate his mighty works? Those who procured the martyrdom of that righteous man would gladly have turned his sacred career into a mutilated doctrinal platform. May the Christians of to-day take up the more practical import of that career! It is possible, — yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, — to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness. Christians claim to be his followers, but do they follow him in the way that he commanded? Hear these imperative commands: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect!” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature!” “Heal the sick!”
Jesus’ teaching belittled
Why has this Christian demand so little inspiration
to stir mankind to Christian effort? Because men are assured that this command was intended only for a particular period and for a select number of followers. This teaching is even more pernicious than the old doctrine of foreordination, — the election of a few to be saved, while the rest are damned; and so it will be considered, when the lethargy of mortals, produced by man-made doctrines, is broken by the demands of divine Science.
Jesus said: “These signs shall follow them that believe; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Who believes him? He was addressing his disciples, yet he did not say, ” These signs shall follow you,” but them— “them that believe” in all time to come. Here the word hands is used metaphorically, as in the text, “The right hand of the Lord is exalted.” It expresses spiritual power; otherwise the healing could not have been done spiritually. At another time Jesus prayed, not for the twelve only, but for as many as should believe “through their word.”
Jesus experienced few of the pleasures of the physical senses, but his sufferings were the fruits of other people’s sins, not of his own. The eternal Christ, his spiritual selfhood, never suffered. Jesus mapped out the path for others. He unveiled the Christ, the spiritual idea of divine Love. To those buried in the belief of sin and self, living only for pleasure or the gratification of the senses, he said in substance: Having eyes ye see not, and having ears ye hear not; lest ye should understand and be converted, and I might heal you. He taught that the material senses shut out Truth and its healing power.
Mockery of truth
Meekly our Master met the mockery of his unrecognized grandeur. Such indignities as he received, his followers will endure until Christianity’s last triumph. He won eternal honors. He overcame the world, the flesh, and all error, thus proving their nothingness. He wrought a full salvation from sin, sickness, and death. We need “Christ, and him crucified.” We must have trials and self-denials, as well as joys and victories, until all error is destroyed.
A belief suicidal
The educated belief that Soul is in the body causes mortals to regard death as a friend, as a stepping-stone out of mortality into immortality and bliss. The Bible calls death an enemy, and Jesus overcame death and the grave instead of yielding to them. He was “the way.” To him, therefore, death was not the threshold over which he must pass into living glory.
“Now,” cried the apostle, “is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,” — meaning, not that now men must prepare for a future-world salvation, or safety, but that now is the time in which to experience that salvation in spirit and in life. Now is the time for so-called material pains and material pleasures to pass away, for both are unreal, because impossible in Science. To break this earthly spell, mortals must get the true idea and divine Principle of all that really exists and governs the universe harmoniously. This thought is apprehended slowly, and the interval before its attainment is attended with doubts and defeats as well as triumphs.
Sin and penalty
Who will stop the practice of sin so long as he believes in the pleasures of sin? When mortals once admit that
evil confers no pleasure, they turn from it. Remove error from thought, and it will not appear in effect. The advanced thinker and devout Christian, perceiving the scope and tendency of Christian healing and its Science, will support them. Another will say: “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.”
Divine Science adjusts the balance as Jesus adjusted it. Science removes the penalty only by first removing the sin which incurs the penalty. This is my sense of divine pardon, which I understand to mean God’s method of destroying sin. If the saying is true, “While there’s life there’s hope,” its opposite is also true, While there’s sin there’s doom. Another’s suffering cannot lessen our own liability. Did the martyrdom of Savonarola make the crimes of his implacable enemies less criminal?
Was it just for Jesus to suffer? No; but it was inevitable, for not otherwise could he show us the way and the power of Truth. If a career so great and good as that of Jesus could not avert a felon’s fate, lesser apostles of Truth may endure human brutality without murmuring, rejoicing to enter into fellowship with him through the triumphal arch of Truth and Love.
Service and worship
Our heavenly Father, divine Love, demands that all men should follow the example of our Master and his apostles and not merely worship his personality. It is sad that the phrase divine service has come so generally to mean public worship instead of daily deeds.
Within the veil
The nature of Christianity is peaceful and blessed, but in order to enter into the kingdom, the anchor of
hope must be cast beyond the veil of matter into the Shekinah into which Jesus has passed before us; and this advance beyond matter must come through the joys and triumphs of the righteous as well as through their sorrows and afflictions. Like our Master, we must depart from material sense into the spiritual sense of being.
The thorns and flowers
The God-inspired walk calmly on though it be with bleeding footprints, and in the hereafter they will reap what they now sow. The pampered hypocrite may have a flowery pathway here, but he cannot forever break the Golden Rule and escape the penalty due.
Healing early lost
The proofs of Truth, Life, and Love, which Jesus gave by casting out error and healing the sick, completed his earthly mission; but in the Christian Church this demonstration of healing was early lost, about three centuries after the crucifixion. No ancient school of philosophy, materia medica, or scholastic theology ever taught or demonstrated the divine healing of absolute Science.
Jesus foresaw the reception Christian Science would have before it was understood, but this foreknowledge hindered him not. He fulfilled his God-mission, and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. Persecuted from city to city, his apostles still went about doing good deeds, for which they were maligned and stoned. The truth taught by Jesus, the elders scoffed at. Why? Because it demanded more than they were willing to practise. It was enough for them to believe in a national Deity; but that belief, from their time to ours, has never made a disciple who could cast out evils and heal the sick.
Jesus’ life proved, divinely and scientifically, that God is Love, whereas priest and rabbi affirmed God to be a mighty potentate, who loves and hates. The Jewish theology gave no hint of the unchanging love of God.
A belief in death
The universal belief in death is of no advantage. It cannot make Life or Truth apparent. Death will be found at length to be a mortal dream, which comes in darkness and disappears with the light.
The “man of sorrows” was in no peril from salary or popularity. Though entitled to the homage of the world and endorsed pre-eminently by the approval of God, his brief triumphal entry into Jerusalem was followed by the desertion of all save a few friends, who sadly followed him to the foot of the cross.
The resurrection of the great demonstrator of God’s power was the proof of his final triumph over body and matter, and gave full evidence of divine Science, — evidence so important to mortals. The belief that man has existence or mind separate from God is a dying error. This error Jesus met with divine Science and proved its nothingness. Because of the wondrous glory which God bestowed on His anointed, temptation, sin, sickness, and death had no terror for Jesus. Let men think they had killed the body! Afterwards he would show it to them unchanged. This demonstrates that in Christian Science the true man is governed by God — by good, not evil — and is therefore not a mortal but an immortal. Jesus had taught his disciples the Science of this proof. He was here to enable them to test his still uncomprehended saying, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also.” They must understand more fully his Life-principle by casting
out error, healing the sick, and raising the dead, even as they did understand it after his bodily departure.
The magnitude of Jesus’ work, his material disappearance before their eyes and his reappearance, all enabled the disciples to understand what Jesus had said. Heretofore they had only believed; now they understood. The advent of this understanding is what is meant by the descent of the Holy Ghost, — that influx of divine Science which so illuminated the Pentecostal Day and is now repeating its ancient history.
Jesus’ last proof was the highest, the most convincing, the most profitable to his students. The malignity of brutal persecutors, the treason and suicide of his betrayer, were overruled by divine Love to the glorification of the man and of the true idea of God, which Jesus’ persecutors had mocked and tried to slay. The final demonstration of the truth which Jesus taught, and for which he was crucified, opened a new era for the world. Those who slew him to stay his influence perpetuated and extended it.
Jesus rose higher in demonstration because of the cup of bitterness he drank. Human law had condemned him, but he was demonstrating divine Science. Out of reach of the barbarity of his enemies, he was acting under spiritual law in defiance of matter and mortality, and that spiritual law sustained him. The divine must overcome the human at every point. The Science Jesus taught and lived must triumph over all material beliefs about life, substance, and intelligence, and the multitudinous errors growing from such beliefs.
Love must triumph over hate. Truth and Life must
seal the victory over error and death, before the thorns can be laid aside for a crown, the benediction follow, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” and the supremacy of Spirit be demonstrated.
Jesus in the tomb
The lonely precincts of the tomb gave Jesus a refuge from his foes, a place in which to solve the great problem of being. His three days’ work in the sepulchre set the seal of eternity on time. He proved Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate. He met and mastered on the basis of Christian Science, the power of Mind over matter, all the claims of medicine, surgery, and hygiene.
He took no drugs to allay inflammation. He did not depend upon food or pure air to resuscitate wasted energies. He did not require the skill of a surgeon to heal the torn palms and bind up the wounded side and lacerated feet, that he might use those hands to remove the napkin and winding-sheet, and that he might employ his feet as before.
The deific naturalism
Could it be called supernatural for the God of nature to sustain Jesus in his proof of man’s truly derived power? It was a method of surgery beyond material art, but it was not a supernatural act. On the contrary, it was a divinely natural act, whereby divinity brought to humanity the understanding of the Christhealing and revealed a method infinitely above that of human invention.
His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while he was hidden in the sepulchre, whereas he was alive, demonstrating within the narrow tomb the power of Spirit to overrule mortal, material sense. There were rock-ribbed walls in the way, and a great
stone must be rolled from the cave’s mouth; but Jesus vanquished every material obstacle, overcame every law of matter, and stepped forth from his gloomy resting-place, crowned with the glory of a sublime success, an everlasting victory.
Victory over the grave
Our Master fully and finally demonstrated divine Science in his victory over death and the grave. Jesus’ deed was for the enlightenment of men and for the salvation of the whole world from sin, sickness, and death. Paul writes: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the [seeming] death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Three days after his bodily burial he talked with his disciples. The persecutors had failed to hide immortal Truth and Love in a sepulchre.
The stone rolled away
Glory be to God, and peace to the struggling hearts! Christ hath rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith, and through the revelation and demonstration of life in God, hath elevated them to possible at-one-ment with the spiritual idea of man and his divine Principle, Love.
After the resurrection
They who earliest saw Jesus after the resurrection and beheld the final proof of all that he had taught, misconstrued that event. Even his disciples at first called him a spirit, ghost, or spectre, for they believed his body to be dead. His reply was: “Spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” The reappearing of Jesus was not the return of a spirit. He presented the same body that he had before his crucifixion, and so glorified the supremacy of Mind over matter.
Jesus’ students, not sufficiently advanced fully to un-
derstand their Master’s triumph, did not perform many wonderful works, until they saw him after his crucifixion and learned that he had not died. This convinced them of the truthfulness of all that he had taught.
In the walk to Emmaus, Jesus was known to his friends by the words, which made their hearts burn within them, and by the breaking of bread. The divine Spirit, which identified Jesus thus centuries ago, has spoken through the inspired Word and will speak through it in every age and clime. It is revealed to the receptive heart, and is again seen casting out evil and healing the sick.
Corporeality and Spirit
The Master said plainly that physique was not Spirit, and after his resurrection he proved to the physical senses that his body was not changed until he himself ascended, — or, in other words, rose even higher in the understanding of Spirit, God. To convince Thomas of this, Jesus caused him to examine the nail-prints and the spear-wound.
Jesus’ unchanged physical condition after what seemed to be death was followed by his exaltation above all material conditions; and this exaltation explained his ascension, and revealed unmistakably a probationary and progressive state beyond the grave. Jesus was “the way;” that is, he marked the way for all men. In his final demonstration, called the ascension, which closed the earthly record of Jesus, he rose above the physical knowledge of his disciples, and the material senses saw him no more.
His students then received the Holy Ghost. By this is meant, that by all they had witnessed and suffered, they were roused to an enlarged understanding of divine Sci-
ence, even to the spiritual interpretation and discernment of Jesus’ teachings and demonstrations, which gave them a faint conception of the Life which is God. They no longer measured man by material sense. After gaining the true idea of their glorified Master, they became better healers, leaning no longer on matter, but on the divine Principle of their work. The influx of light was sudden. It was sometimes an overwhelming power as on the Day of Pentecost.
The traitor’s conspiracy
Judas conspired against Jesus. The world’s ingratitude and hatred towards that just man effected his betrayal. The traitor’s price was thirty pieces of silver and the smiles of the Pharisees. He chose his time, when the people were in doubt concerning Jesus’ teachings.
A period was approaching which would reveal the infinite distance between Judas and his Master. Judas Iscariot knew this. He knew that the great goodness of that Master placed a gulf between Jesus and his betrayer, and this spiritual distance inflamed Judas’ envy. The greed for gold strengthened his ingratitude, and for a time quieted his remorse. He knew that the world generally loves a lie better than Truth; and so he plotted the betrayal of Jesus in order to raise himself in popular estimation. His dark plot fell to the ground, and the traitor fell with it. The disciples’ desertion of their Master in his last earthly struggle was punished; each one came to a violent death except St. John, of whose death we have no record.
During his night of gloom and glory in the garden, Jesus realized the utter error of a belief in any possi-
ble material intelligence. The pangs of neglect and the staves of bigoted ignorance smote him sorely. His students slept. He said unto them: “Could Ye not watch with me one hour?” Could they not watch with him who, waiting and struggling in voiceless agony, held uncomplaining guard over a world? There was no response to that human yearning, and so Jesus turned forever away from earth to heaven, from sense to Soul.
Remembering the sweat of agony which fell in holy benediction on the grass of Gethsemane, shall the humblest or mightiest disciple murmur when he drinks from the same cup, and think, or even wish, to escape the exalting ordeal of sin’s revenge on its destroyer? Truth and Love bestow few palms until the consummation of a life-work.
Judas had the world’s weapons. Jesus had not one of them, and chose not the world’s means of defence. “He opened not his mouth.” The great demonstrator of Truth and Love was silent before envy and hate. Peter would have smitten the enemies of his Master, but Jesus forbade him, thus rebuking resentment or animal courage. He said: “Put up thy sword.”
Pale in the presence of his own momentous question, “What is Truth,” Pilate was drawn into acquiescence with the demands of Jesus’ enemies. Pilate was ignorant of the consequences of his awful decision against human rights and divine Love, knowing not that he was hastening the final demonstration of what life is and of what the true knowledge of God can do for man.
The women at the cross could have answered Pilate’s question. They knew what had inspired their devotion, winged their faith, opened the eyes of their understanding, healed the sick, cast out evil, and caused the disciples to say to their Master: “Even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
Where were the seventy whom Jesus sent forth? Were all conspirators save eleven? Had they forgotten the great exponent of God? Had they so soon lost sight of his mighty works, his toils, privations, sacrifices, his divine patience, sublime courage, and unrequited affection? O, why did they not gratify his last human yearning with one sign of fidelity?
The meek demonstrator of good, the highest instructor and friend of man, met his earthly fate alone with God. No human eye was there to pity, no arm to save. Forsaken by all whom he had blessed, this faithful sentinel of God at the highest post of power, charged with the grandest trust of heaven, was ready to be transformed by the renewing of the infinite Spirit. He was to prove that the Christ is not subject to material conditions, but is above the reach of human wrath, and is able, through Truth, Life, and Love, to triumph over sin, sickness, death, and the grave.
The priests and rabbis, before whom he had meekly walked, and those to whom he had given the highest proofs of divine power, mocked him on the cross, saying derisively, “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” These scoffers, who turned “aside the right of a man before the face of the Most High,” esteemed Jesus as “stricken, smitten of God.”
“He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” “Who shall declare his generation?” Who shall decide what truth and love are?
A cry of despair
The last supreme moment of mockery, desertion, torture, added to an overwhelming sense of the magnitude of his work, wrung from Jesus’ lips the awful cry, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” This despairing appeal, if made to a human parent, would impugn the justice and love of a father who could withhold a clear token of his presence to sustain and bless so faithful a son. The appeal of Jesus was made both to his divine Principle, the God who is Love, and to himself, Love’s pure idea. Had Life, Truth, and Love forsaken him in his highest demonstration? This was a startling question. No! They must abide in him and he in them, or that hour would be shorn of its mighty blessing for the human race.
Divine Science misunderstood
If his full recognition of eternal Life had for a moment given way before the evidence of the bodily senses, what would his accusers have said? Even what they did say, — that Jesus’ teachings were false, and that all evidence of their correctness was destroyed by his death. But this saying could not make it so.
The real pillory
The burden of that hour was terrible beyond human conception. The distrust of mortal minds, disbelieving the purpose of his mission, was a million times sharper than the thorns which pierced his flesh. The real cross, which Jesus bore up the hill of grief, was the world’s hatred of Truth and Love. Not the spear nor the material cross wrung from his faithful
lips the plaintive cry, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” It was the possible loss of something more important than human life which moved him, — the possible misapprehension of the sublimest influence of his career. This dread added the drop of gall to his cup.
Jesus could have withdrawn himself from his enemies. He had power to lay down a human sense of life for his spiritual identity in the likeness of the divine; but he allowed men to attempt the destruction of the mortal body in order that he might furnish the proof of immortal life. Nothing could kill this Life of man. Jesus could give his temporal life into his enemies’ hands; but when his earth-mission was accomplished, his spiritual life, indestructible and eternal, was found forever the same. He knew that matter had no life and that real Life is God; therefore he could no more be separated from his spiritual Life than God could be extinguished.
Example for our salvation
His consummate example was for the salvation of us all, but only through doing the works which he did and taught others to do. His purpose in healing was not alone to restore health, but to demonstrate his divine Principle. He was inspired by God, by Truth and Love, in all that he said and did. The motives of his persecutors were pride, envy, cruelty, and vengeance, inflicted on the physical Jesus, but aimed at the divine Principle, Love, which rebuked their sensuality.
Jesus was unselfish. His spirituality separated him from sensuousness, and caused the selfish materialist to hate him; but it was this spirituality which enabled Jesus to heal the sick, cast out evil, and raise the dead.
From early boyhood he was about his “Father’s business.” His pursuits lay far apart from theirs. His master was Spirit; their master was matter. He served God; they served mammon. His affections were pure; theirs were carnal. His senses drank in the spiritual evidence of health, holiness, and life; their senses testified oppositely, and absorbed the material evidence of sin, sickness, and death.
Their imperfections and impurity felt the ever-present rebuke of his perfection and purity. Hence the world’s hatred of the just and perfect Jesus, and the prophet’s foresight of the reception error would give him. “Despised and rejected of men,” was Isaiah’s graphic word concerning the coming Prince of Peace. Herod and Pilate laid aside old feuds in order to unite in putting to shame and death the best man that ever trod the globe. To-day, as of old, error and evil again make common cause against the exponents of truth.
The “man of sorrows” best understood the nothingness of material life and intelligence and the mighty actuality of all-inclusive God, good. These were the two cardinal points of Mind-healing, or Christian Science, which armed him with Love. The highest earthly representative of God, speaking of human ability to reflect divine power, prophetically said to his disciples, speaking not for their day only but for all time: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also;” and “These signs shall follow them that believe.”
The accusations of the Pharisees were as self-contradictory as their religion. The bigot, the debauchee, the hypocrite, called Jesus a glutton and a wine-bibber. They said: “He casteth out devils
through Beelzebub,” and is the “friend of publicans and sinners.” The latter accusation was true, but not in their meaning. Jesus was no ascetic. He did not fast as did the Baptist’s disciples; yet there never lived a man so far removed from appetites and passions as the Nazarene. He rebuked sinners pointedly and unflinchingly, because he was their friend; hence the cup he drank.
Reputation and character
The reputation of Jesus was the very opposite of his character. Why? Because the divine Principle and practice of Jesus were misunderstood. He was at work in divine Science. His words and works were unknown to the world because above and contrary to the world’s religious sense. Mortals believed in God as humanly mighty, rather than as divine, infinite Love.
The world could not interpret aright the discomfort which Jesus inspired and the spiritual blessings which might flow from such discomfort. Science shows the cause of the shock so often produced by the truth, — namely, that this shock arises from the great distance between the individual and Truth. Like Peter, we should weep over the warning, instead of denying the truth or mocking the lifelong sacrifice which goodness makes for the destruction of evil.
Bearing our sins
Jesus bore our sins in his body. He knew the mortal errors which constitute the material body, and could destroy those errors; but at the time when Jesus felt our infirmities, he had not conquered all the beliefs of the flesh or his sense of material life, nor had he risen to his final demonstration of spiritual power.
Had he shared the sinful beliefs of others, he would
have been less sensitive to those beliefs. Through the magnitude of his human life, he demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love. With the affluence of Truth, he vanquished error. The world acknowledged not his righteousness, seeing it not; but earth received the harmony his glorified example introduced.
Inspiration of sacrifice
Who is ready to follow his teaching and example? All must sooner or later plant themselves in Christ, the true idea of God. That he might liberally pour his dear-bought treasures into empty or sinfilled human storehouses, was the inspiration of Jesus’ intense human sacrifice. In witness of his divine commission, he presented the proof that Life, Truth, and Love heal the sick and the sinning, and triumph over death through Mind, not matter. This was the highest proof he could have offered of divine Love. His hearers understood neither his words nor his works. They would not accept his meek interpretation of life nor follow his example.
His earthly cup of bitterness was drained to the dregs. There adhered to him only a few unpretentious friends, whose religion was something more than a name. It was so vital, that it enabled them to understand the Nazarene and to share the glory of eternal life. He said that those who followed him should drink of his cup, and history has confirmed the prediction.
Injustice to the Saviour
If that Godlike and glorified man were physically on earth to-day, would not some, who now profess to love him, reject him? Would they not deny him even the rights of humanity, if he enter-
tained any other sense of being and religion than theirs? The advancing century, from a deadened sense of the invisible God, to-day subjects to unchristian comment and usage the idea of Christian healing enjoined by Jesus; but this does not affect the invincible facts. Perhaps the early Christian era did Jesus no more injustice than the later centuries have bestowed upon the healing Christ and spiritual idea of being. Now that the gospel of healing is again preached by the wayside, does not the pulpit sometimes scorn it? But that curative mission, which presents the Saviour in a clearer light than mere words can possibly do, cannot be left out of Christianity, although it is again ruled out of the synagogue.
Truth’s immortal idea is sweeping down the centuries, gathering beneath its wings the sick and sinning. My weary hope tries to realize that happy day, when man shall recognize the Science of Christ and love his neighbor as himself, — when he shall realize God’s omnipotence and the healing power of the divine Love in what it has done and is doing for mankind. The promises will be fulfilled. The time for the reappearing of the divine healing is throughout all time; and whosoever layeth his earthly all on the altar of divine Science, drinketh of Christ’s cup now, and is endued with the spirit and power of Christian healing.
In the words of St. John: “He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.” This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science.