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The Beginner in Christian Science
SAMUEL GREENWOOD, CSB


         Some persons when taking up the study of Christian Science with a desire to begin its demonstration, have a sense of perplexity as to what course they should pursue. This is often due to the mistaken impression that there is a secret in Christian Science which must be learned by the uninitiated in order to become a successful practitioner. While the healing of Christian Science is the direct result of prayer in its highest and most sacred sense, it is not at first easily comprehensible by one whose thought of prayer has not risen above personal appeals to a distant and changeable deity. This sense of mystery will vanish when it is learned that Christian Science is no more secret in its method than is mathematics. Each requires study and application for the mastery of its rules, but the way is open for all who are willing to learn. The only initiation required by Christian Science is the purification of thought and life. Beginning with the desire for righteousness and purity, and persevering in their accomplishment, there is nothing to hinder the success of even the dullest student.

         Christian Science is the reversal of all materially educated thought, for its premise is the infinitude of divine Spirit, the one God, and its conclusion, the spiritual nature of all created things. Coming from opposite conditions of thought and training, the student begins his study in a state of ignorance. This is the beginning of the new birth, the emergence from material belief into spiritual understanding wherein mortals first begin to know God and man aright. They can bring nothing of material wisdom into this new world of Spirit, and they can take nothing out of it through the sophistries of human science. The clinging to theories which are the opposite of Christian Science teaching will not forward one in its understanding, for it is evident that the incorrectness of material beliefs must be seen, to gain a scientific knowledge of spiritual truth. This spiritual kingdom, wherein man realizes harmonious being, cannot be taken by violence, nor by the intensity of desire to be where we have not climbed, or to know what we have not learned. Sincerity of purpose and the willingness to work and wait, will do more for the student than ages of sighing over difficulties or a lack of understanding.

         The way to begin in Christian Science is with the first thought of Truth which appeals to the learner as reasonable and right, and its utilization in present experience. The whole trend of Christian practice is to spiritualize thought, to cultivate the spiritual sense and dispel the material. The first step towards the demonstration of Christianity, or Christian Science, is the effort to make practical even in the simplest degree the supremacy of good over evil, the spiritual over the animal, in human consciousness. The removal of a toothache on the basis of perfect God and perfect man is as scientific and Christian, in its degree, as the healing of a leper or a lunatic.

         We begin to prove the truth of Being as we begin to understand, and we begin to understand as we begin to think truly. The work of the Christian Scientist is in overcoming not only the results of wrong thinking, but the wrong thinking itself. The proof of his work is completed when the wrong condition disappears before the right apprehension of being, and the correctness of the rule is demonstrated.

         The repetition of formulas, secret or otherwise, is not the method of this demonstration. The mere saying of words, as a child repeats rules by rote, even though they may be true, has no efficacy of itself without the spirit to give them life in the heart and consciousness of the student. "It is the Spirit that heals the sick, and the sinner that makes the heart tender, faithful, true" ( Mrs. Eddy's letter read at the laying of the corner-stone of the Concord church).

         Those who think to understand Christian Science from the purely intellectual side, or to bring out its demonstration through some humanly mental process, will learn through failure that Truth is spiritually discerned; and that "meekness, selflessness, and love are the paths of His testimony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 31).

         It is not the mere thinking about Truth which accomplishes the healing of Christian Science, but the actual thinking itself of true thoughts. We are just what we think or what our thinking makes of us. Our experience reproduces our thoughts in tangible forms. What we think most about will govern us most whether it be good or bad. The man who thinks meanness is a mean man and the man who thinks sickness is making of himself a sick man. And so mortals must learn that if their physical conditions are not right it is not matter that needs changing, but the thought.

         We are taught in Science and Health that "the reverse of error is true" (p. 442), so beginners learn at the outset that erroneous conditions are always false conditions, hence are never true either before or after their removal. It is evident that suffering and sinning states do not represent the true idea of God or of man, and the student starting out to demonstrate what he has learned of the Principle of Christian Science must not be influenced by such appearances further than to deny their claim to manhood. Jesus came to fulfil the Father's will, and he did this by destroying discordant and sinful conditions which he characterized as the works not of good but of evil, hence not acknowledged by God. We are also reminded in Scripture that this same evil, or devil, is a "liar" and "deceiveth the whole world," and the natural conclusion is that all evil products, such as disease and poverty, sin and death, are as false and deceptive as their source.

         The truth that God good is All, bases all Christian teaching and practice, and is the power behind every case of healing in Christian Science. The student's work from start to finish is the proving of this truth. He proves it when bad thoughts disappear before good ones; when wicked desires dissolve in awakening purity and love; when the discordant sense of man goes out before the growing perception of his spiritual being; and the unreality of evil is thus far found true and practical.

         The sin and the suffering of the world are denials of the goodness and power of God (Science and Health, p. 113), and should find no place in Christian belief. The truth of God's universal presence is not diminished before the evidence of man's greatest woe. Jesus proved this evidence false, and so set the example for all Christians. He was not alarmed at the appearance of disease or even death, because he did not believe in them, knowing that God is All. The disappearance of these conditions after his rebuke should have demonstrated for all time their disconnection with Truth and their unreality in the sight of God.

         Beginners in Christian Science start out with the same truth that indorsed all our Master's work, and that gave the signs following to his students. Our work, as was his, is the recognition of every rightful thing in man and the rejection of whatever opposes God's kingdom within him.

         The words one uses to express thought are not so important as the thought; and borrowed words do not always reflect the speaker's state of mind. Words are not always necessary in demonstrating Christian Science. No verbal treatment was given to the woman who touched the Master's garment and was healed. But while worded statements are used in guiding thought aright, it should be seen that they have the authority of our text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and not be picked up at random from other students who may tell us that we must deny or declare this or that. Science and Health unfolds the whole truth about error in all its forms; viz., its unreality; and also the "divine basis" (p. 465), the Allness of God, on which the student must demonstrate the nothingness of error's manifestations. When the purity of our life reaches the truth of our statements we shall be a constant rebuke to all sin and discord, and approximate the healing works of our Master.

         It is better to do our little well than to strive overmuch for giant strides in demonstration. The steady pace usually wins in the long run, and our course is a long one. It is more profitable to progress slowly than to repeat imperfect work. New students sometimes think that because they believe in the teachings of Christian Science they are expected to make every demonstration they may feel the need of. The infant thought in Christian Science is not expected to do a man's work any more than in other things.

         Each student in beginning his work is confronted by his own peculiar difficulties according to his past standards of belief and methods of thought. There is no personal preference or favor in this work; each one begins with relatively the same possibilities and opportunities. The diligent student advances because of his diligence, not because of any respect for his personality.

         The assurance of the truth of Christian Science is sweet and grateful to the world-weary and sin-burdened hearts who have sought it, even though they do not enter at once into its full realization, for they know that, however slow, their work is not experiment but demonstration. God's ear has ever been open to His children, and His help is instant in response. Man has not to wait through weary years till the cruelty of living and the pain of dying shall have passed, to see the salvation of God, and learn of His infinite goodness; for God is here, and now, and always,the divine compassionate Love which has never been absent, nor been unmindful of His own.

 

"The Beginner in Christian Science" by Samuel Greenwood, CSB
The Christian Science Journal, January, 1904
 

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