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Thoroughness
LAURA DUNBAR HAGARTY


         Revelation floods consciousness with light and joy. Spontaneous, unlabored action accompanies this welcome visitation of divine favor. The path leading to revelation is, however, one in which earnest, consecrated effort is necessary. In the pursuit of the spiritual goal, persistence, inspired by a deep desire for holiness, becomes indispensable.

         Over and over again Scriptural narratives and admonitions enforce the importance of strict adherence to a right purpose in its every detail, in order that the purpose may attain fruition. Conspicuous in this regard is the record of Moses in leading the Israelites from Egyptian bondage to the land of promise. Because of its simplicity, it lends itself to the ready comprehension of the most untrained thinker. The story graphically sets forth the tenacity with which Moses clung to his mission during the years of testing, no mention being made of any deflection on his part on account of the spiritual dullness of his people, nor even on account of the apostasy of Aaron and Miriam. Steady, unswerving thoroughness from Egypt to Canaan was Moses' grand achievement.

         At the time the King James Version of the Bible was given to the English-speaking world, the word "thorough" was another form of the word "through," meaning from beginning to end, a significance which exactly fits when the word "thorough" is applied to mental work in Christian Science. To illustrate: When an appearance of error flaunts itself, it is not sufficient to think or to say, That is a belief of envy, resentment, greed, senility, or whatever the case may indicate. The mental work must be pushed further than that. It must include an active declaration and realization of the reality of good and the unreality of evil, the absence of evil from the man of God's creating, whatever the specific form that declaration may demand. To discontinue mental work after error has been traced until it can be definitely named as envy, resentment, greed, senility, or what not, is to fall short of possible demonstration. Such a course may even arrest one's thought at the point of "belief"; whereas the completing of the work by pondering the allness of God leads thought to where arrested development is an impossibility.

         It would have been entirely inadequate had Moses at Marah confined his mental work to discerning and declaring, as his thirsty followers viewed the bitter water, "This is a belief of bitterness;" or in the wilderness, when the wail went up for the fleshpots of Egypt, "This is a belief of gluttony." The waters were made sweet, and the manna and the quails appeared in response to the realization that the All-Father provides for His own! "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," Jesus gave as the working basis for demonstrating the power of God, good. Spasmodic efforts rarely succeed in any endeavor. In attempting to improve one's speech, for example, crudity seldom gives place to beauty unless systematic devotion to progress in this regard becomes a daily effort. When a Christian Scientist considers Mrs. Eddy's admirable attainment in the use of English, he naturally strives to perfect his own use of the English language and of his mother tongue in order that he may more effectively understand and express the truth he knows. Couching thought in truthful, and therefore scientific form is incumbent upon every adherent of Christian Science. There is a general belief that erroneous habits of speech yield slowly to correction. A woman who had for several days accepted a belief in bodily pain caught herself exclaiming plaintively, "Oh, dear!" with considerable frequency. She weighed the effect of her utterance upon her condition, and decided that if those words fell from her lips again unawares she would immediately obliterate them by saying aloud, "Thank God!" She knew that however stubborn a form of speech might claim to be, it could be quickly destroyed by at once replacing it with the preferred spoken word. She knew that turning thought to God instantly opens the way to complete healing.

         The relation which thoroughness bears to the successful application of Christian Science is given much prominence by Mrs. Eddy, as the following sentence on page 186 of the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," proves: "Christian Science destroys material beliefs through the understanding of Spirit, and the thoroughness of this work determines health." In the same textbook (p. 250) the author exhibits the opposite action of material beliefs thus: "Mortal thoughts chase one another like snowflakes, and drift to the ground." Whoever has closely observed a snowfall, with attention to single flakes, can gain from the simile useful insight into the driftings of mortal thought. To give spiritual direction to the tendencies of human thinking, by means of "the understanding of Spirit," involves well-directed, well-sustained mental work on the part of the learner. Without irritation because there is so much to do, without discouragement because some of it is done ineffectively, without resentment because someone interferes with it, without envy because someone does it better, the mental work must go forward from beginning to end with entire fidelity to the divine ideal. If the Christian metaphysician finds himself "overtaken in a fault," he should not linger with the fault, but should do as does the child who stubs his toe and falls — he should pick himself up and run on again. Thus each experience may be made to serve the chosen trend toward divine goodness.

         Many of the most troublesome characteristics of mortal thought slough off under a strict regime of positive, definite mental work directed toward regeneration. Indolence, indifference, carelessness, cease to be where adequate thinking operates, as do also disorder, confusion, inconstancy. Procrastination, instability, and kindred erratic, immethodical habits are seen and destroyed as the mentality is energized by the steady influx of right ideas.

         History furnishes no parallel to the thoroughness with which Mrs. Eddy founded Christian Science. The most experienced workers for the Cause agree that no situation has arisen which has not been amply treated directly or by implication in the provisions Mrs. Eddy made for the perpetuity of the work God gave her to do for mankind.

 

"Thoroughness" by Laura Dunbar Hagarty
Christian Science Sentinel, October 31, 1925
 

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