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SARAH J. CLARK, CSD
I accepted an invitation to go and hear the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy preach, and went to the hall very indifferent as to the subject or the speaker. Every seat was taken, and I thought it would be my death to stand through the service; I was sure it would cause a relapse. There was a table in the vestibule, against which I leaned, thinking to stay but a few moments. I soon forgot myself, and when Mrs. Eddy ceased speaking, I was standing inside the hall.
As I passed into the street, the lady who had treated me asked how I was. I looked at her in astonishment, for her words sounded strangely. I replied, "I am as well as you are;" for the sense of invalidism had left me. I was no longer disappointed with life. Verily, "old things had passed away, and all things had become new." The words, "I have found it! I have found it!" echoed and reechoed through my mind. Then I questioned myself as to what I had found. It was a glorified sense of Life, Life here on earth, something I could know and live. But with this wonderful illumination came the sense that I had something to work out; that this new sense of Life must be demonstrated. Accordingly, the following day, I entered the class of a Normal Student, in Boston, to learn how to demonstrate Christian Science. I began at once to apply the principles, thereby making them practical to my understanding. I wanted to help other sufferers out of their bondage, and as I received, I gave; and through such experiences I became grounded in the faith of this healing, saving Life. My physical healing came through the spiritual healing, by the spoken word of our Mother in Israel.
In a short time after my first class instruction, it was my great privilege to enter the College, and sit at the feet of Mrs. Eddy, while she unfolded to her class the wonderful truths she was demonstrating for mankind. Step by step, through three courses, she led me, then lovingly sent me out to take these steps through individual experience and demonstration.
The twelve years have passed swiftly. Many and varied have been the experiences, and rich and sweet the blessings. Organization was the keynote sounded by our Leader, and obedience to her word has enriched this field. The spoken and written words of the Mother have been my strength and guide through all my labors in this great work. These years have been filled to the brim with experiences, with closely contended battles between Truth and error in ourselves and in others. There is always the right side to every question. Jesus said to his struggling disciples, "Cast your net on the right side." We have been taught the right side, but some have been unwilling to follow the way-marks, so have gone their own way.
It is the testing and weighing of individual character, the cutting away of the dead twigs, and the careful pruning, that has fitted us for the deeper and larger work for which the Christian Science church is established; but the cutting and pruning will always be necessary, until the errors of personal sense are eliminated. The farmer gives us a good object-lesson in his seed-sowing. The first step is to prepare the soil. The fallow ground must be broken, and the soil fertilized; then the seed-sowing, and the time for growth.
Some patients come to us expecting us to lift them out of their troubles and unbelief immediately. But how little they realize the needed preparation for this great Truth. "There is no harvest without the seed-sowing," and no growth without patient waiting. Our Mother's words, "We must not mistake the beginning for the end," have been a great help to me. There is a law of growth. The heart has to be prepared for the precious seeds of Truth. Patience, watchfulness, and loving care are necessary, but "God giveth the increase." It is Love that saves. No matter what the conditions, or how dark the seeming, "Love is the liberator," and Christian Scientists have this light of revelation to dispel the darkness of material sense, to guide others to a place of safety.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven." The question comes: How shall we let our lights shine? We must be filled with love for Christian Science, it must illumine our thoughts, and when thought is truly illumined, "good works" will follow. But how shall we be filled with light? David sang, "The entrance of thy words giveth light." And, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet." We need to go to the Word often, and unlocking it with the Key found in our textbook, we shall find the spirit of the Word, "The true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." There we shall find the rules for Christianly Scientific living, rules given us by our Way-shower, and there is no other way than to closely follow these rules. "He that climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber."
If we put into daily practice the rules of Christian Science, we shall shine without effort. We cannot help flashing back the light any more than the dewdrops can. We shall carry with us the healing thought. Other lives will begin to shine because of the light in ours, thus "glorifying the Father." We must be Christian Scientists in the broadest, deepest sense of the word. We must open our hearts, and reflect that Love which awakens and develops all that is good and true in our lives. In accepting the Tenets of our church, we promise to strive "to be meek, merciful, just and pure." Every character must be measured and tested. It is as the gold tried in the fire the fire of experience. "Progress is born of experience."
If we are progressing, we are constantly coming upon new difficulties, fresh hindrances hidden rocks and reefs. All these obstacles prove that we are progressing. If they were all old things, it would not be progression. As each obstacle is uncovered to our view, then is our opportunity to seek Truth more diligently. Obedience to spiritual law is the key that unlocks the treasures of Divine Mind. When material sense is silenced, and the "still, small voice" of Truth is heard, the obstacles that seemed insurmountable are overcome, and the victory is won.
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." When Jesus was on his way to Bethany, on his mission of love, Martha went out to meet him. He told her he was the resurrection and the life, and she said "I believe that thou art the Christ." Then she turned back to carry the news to Mary, saying, "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." How truly Martha's words expressed loyalty to her loved Master and Teacher. She saw in him the Christ, and acknowledged him as the Master. In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Ye cannot serve two masters." And later, in rebuking the Scribes and Pharisees, he said, "One is your master, even Christ." The secret of Paul's marvelous apostleship was expressed in his admonition to the brethren, that "If ye then be risen with Christ, . . . your life is hid with Christ in God." The risen Christ was the central thought in all his preaching and teaching. And today, in this light of Christian Science, the central thought of every worker should be the risen Christ.
Some one has said, "In the pictures of Raphael and other great masters, there is not a line, there is not a shade, there is not an accessory of the composition that does not lead the eye and the thought directly to the central figure." And so in our work of Christian Science healing, there must be the steady, unflickering central thought which will impart to us a predominant motive of character.
In learning to play the piano, we make much sacrifice of personal sense. We give our time and thought to the study. We may not particularly enjoy the first rules and rudiments, but we know that it is absolutely necessary to conquer these in order to obtain the mastery, to bring out the harmony of music, which cannot be obtained without this service. This is true in all the sciences, and most of all, in Christian Science.
The golden test of character is in Colossians 3d: "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of Christ." If this is the law of our lives, and if we are sincere and honest, we will carry the healing to others. Jenny Lind was asked what she thought about when she was singing and with a shining face she answered, "Oh, I always sing to God." A touching incident in the life of this great singer and Christian woman illustrates the Scripture passage just quoted.
One stormy day, many years ago, a train was plowing its way through the snow drifts that had piled themselves high in the Mohawk valley, in New York state. Many passengers were aboard, and the outlook was a dubious one.
In one of those old-fashioned cars, where wood stoves sent out their feeble heat, a promiscuous crowd of men, women, and children were trying to make themselves as comfortable as possible. The conductor told them that in all probability it would take them several hours to cut through the drifts. Night came on; the smoky lamps were lighted. Hungry children became frightened, and their wails filled the car, adding to the discomfort. Two or three rough men began to curse loudly, and one poor sick woman, whose heart was heavy, because of the anxiety she knew the loved ones at home were feeling, grew faint through her suffering.
Finally, through the din was heard what seemed the voice of an angel so pure and sweet was it singing the dear old hymn so familiar to everyone: "Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee." Before she had sung many lines of the hymn, every other sound in the car was hushed. And before the last word was sung, the children had nestled down quietly for sleep; women were softly weeping, because of joy in the rest the singer brought them; the men who had cursed God for their ill luck, were seen to slyly wipe their eyes; and the patient invalid found fresh strength, and was heard to whisper, while the color came back to her lips, "Let me hide my self in Thee."
Down in the far end of the car, where the wind seemed to have a fiendish delight in creeping under the door, sat the singer, a little old-fashioned looking woman plainly dressed in brown. But the face was beautiful with the love-light that illumined it. Hymn after hymn rolled through that car, and not once was the hush broken, until the conductor appeared, announcing the fact that relief had come, and they would soon reach their destination. In the peaceful quiet that followed, a little child-voice called out, "Mamma, is God here?"
Through Jenny Lind, in that time of need, God sent rest to every heart in that car. When the invalid reached home, she told of how she kept growing better, of how the pain left her, and that she never before felt so near to God. This is what one life did in one way. Every individual, no matter what their talents, can do God's work in little kindnesses, in healing and preaching. If Christian Science is in the most humble heart, it will radiate Love. "Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of Christ."
How much more responsibility rests upon Christian Scientists than upon other professing Christians! "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."
Is there not a tendency to become careless and indifferent? Do we hear the words of Truth rightly? In these troublous times do we earnestly heed the things we have heard? If we do not keep our lamps trimmed and burning, we shall soon find ourselves in darkness; we shall let slip from us these glorious truths.
And yet these silent utterings of the "still, small voice" are "louder than Sinai's thunders." We have heard the whispering at the door of our hearts when it seemed to drown every other sound, and we have accepted the call. Each has his own work to do, and procrastination only makes it harder. We should be lights shining in the darkness of material sense, drawing others into this haven of rest.
And we cannot help reflecting the light on which we gaze.
Shining because it shineth so warm and bright above,
That we must let out the gladness, and we must show forth the love.
The Christian Science Journal, December, 1896
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