Errors of Temperament

         In obeying the promptings to think or act wickedly, that appear to spring from within themselves, mortals become victims of the false sense which they entertain of God as having created man upon a sinful basis; that is, with natural proclivities for evil. This belief, which has been perpetuated throughout the human order of generation, leads them to regard their idiosyncrasies of disposition, defects of character, or faults of temperament as inherent in their individuality or identity. This sinful material concept of man's origin and reproduction perpetrates continuous injustice upon mankind, by bringing one generation into sin and suffering for bearing the fruit of the seed sown by its predecessor. The mistake of believing that man originates or exists materially may be seen in the suffering and mortality that inevitably attend such a belief; while the opposite truth of man's spiritual origin and being enabled Jesus to destroy all the discords of materiality, and to overcome its supposed law of death.

         Jesus' injunction to "call no man father" is pregnant with deepest meaning for mankind. It not only confirms the spiritual nature of God's creation, as alluded to in the first chapter of Genesis, but implies that it alone expresses the truth of being in all ages. Although human history had recorded the coming and going of many generations of mortals, he declared that the reality of man's origin is not in material parentage, but in spiritual sonship with the "Father which is in heaven.” This was pronounced true, not as referring to the hereafter only, but "upon the earth" as well. This teaching of the Master should forever dispose of the iniquitous doctrine of heredity, which for so long has lain like a terrible nightmare on the heart of humanity.

         Christian Science is abundantly blessing mankind in its revelation of divine Principle as the infinite Father-Mother of man; as "God giving all and man having all that God gives" (Mrs. Eddy's Dedicatory Message, June, 1906). It is evident that evil can neither proceed from God, nor from His likeness or idea, spiritual man. It is also evident that like begets like ad infinitum. Although infinitely multiplied, the product of good must be good in the last instance as in the first. An infinitely good creator could not exhaust infinite goodness in the making of the first man, and then permit a sense of evil to become joint creator with Him in "replenishing the earth.” In the human concept of man, good and evil may seem to blend in one nature, and to point to a common source, but their contrary influence over mankind designates one as false and unnatural to the ideal man, not in the beginning only but through the eternal course of creation.

         Because their bad traits appear to have developed in them from birth, mortals erroneously conclude that they are as naturally a part of man's being as are their better qualities; but unless these evil propensities are primarily the outcome of the divine Mind, or creator, they must be extraneous also to the divine idea or creation. They do not therefore, in any true sense, belong to man any more than to his Maker. Even our civil and criminal codes practically decide that the wicked characteristics of mortals are neither natural nor right, by enacting and enforcing penalties for their indulgence. Their existence is thus declared to be an infringement of the right and the duty of man to be wholly good. Human jurisprudence affirms in substance that a wicked man is an outrage, an abnormity, a violation of the divine law of perfection, and that mankind has no right to be controlled by other than intelligence, good.

         The understanding gained from Christian Science, that the evils commonly associated with the human temperament, such as anger, jealousy, resentment, hate, etc., were never created by God, and have no place in the true idea of man, includes the ability to resist their asserted control, and eventually erase them from consciousness. They are not facts but falsehoods concerning each individual. There is no precedent in God's creation for the belief that one has an inborn temper, a disposition to be jealous, or a tendency to hate, etc., for the indulgence of these errors takes him farther and farther from the true idea of God which the spiritual man embodies. These conditions can exist and operate only in the belief that one mortal is the offspring of other mortals, and that both the good and bad qualities of those before him are transmitted to his own individuality, to be passed on in turn to those coming after. Taking this theory back until we reach the story of our first parents, who shall stand sponsor for the evil inclinations that led them into wrong doing, and which they supposedly bequeathed to the rest of mankind? Whence originated a law of heredity for the transmission of the jealousy that made of their first born a murderer?

         The allegory of Adam in Eden, as it has been generally believed, would imply that God made the first mortal, and through him became the author of a race of sinful men in Adam's likeness. The assumption that infinite goodness fathers the pernicious elements manifested in mortals, is sacrilegious and preposterous beyond acceptance. The only alternative is that they represent a false sense of man which God neither maintains nor recognizes, and which has neither intelligence nor identity. The opposite belief to this constitutes the whole illusion and delusion of personal evil. When mankind reach this view of evil, when they perceive that the sinful propensities which seemingly obtain in personality are the errors of a material sense of being, deceiving many but rightfully belonging to none, they will have taken a long step towards their elimination, for a mistake discovered turns its victims towards that which it seeks to pervert; namely, the truth.

         It is a mistake to accept what God does not expect man to have. When one says, "I have a bad temper," he acknowledges the possession of what he should disown. The apparent spontaneity in thought of this and kindred errors, which would assert themselves in individual consciousness, blinds their victim to their true nature as evil suggestions external to his real consciousness, and to which he could at any time, did he but understand the truth of man's spiritual nature and being, successfully refuse admission or obedience.

         The length of time in which a person has submitted to the control of anger, or appetite, for instance, and his consequent familiarity with it, does not thereby give it any more power over him, nor any more right to abide with him, than if it were presented for his acceptance for the first time. One may have formed the habit of becoming angry upon assumed provocation, and may have continued it for many years, but this error is not thereby constituted a legitimate member of his mental household, any more than the habitual feeding of a tramp would constitute him a member of his family. A tramp has no especial claim to be entertained today because we may have consented to his demands for years past, if we do not choose to favor him. He never had any right to our hospitality, nor any claim that we could not at any time have refused. In similar manner the errors pertaining to temperament or disposition have no right at any time to be considered as naturally belonging to us. Though we may have been deceived into allowing them into our consciousness, they are always aliens, they never become naturalized into good qualities, and are as separate from our spiritual selfhood as if they claimed our attention for the first time, and were repudiated. Why do we not do this? Why do we not turn these clamorous demons from our mental doors as we would an obnoxious tramp? Should a repulsive insect light upon us, we would brush it off with impunity and without delay. Or should a venomous serpent attack us, we would spurn and trample it under our feet with all our might. Why do we not do likewise with the vicious propensities that would cling to us, these scorpions of an evil sense that would sting and poison our thought against ourself and our kind? Are they less obnoxious than a bug or a reptile, that we so often allow them to remain with us, to infuse their venom into our thoughts, almost without protest? Are anger, hatred, jealousy, envy, malice, etc., kinder to us than a malignant reptile, that we should shun and repel the latter while allowing the former to nestle within our very bosom?

         Human submission to evil gives it the only power it seems to have; of itself it neither has nor can have will or mind. The correlative fact of the infinitude of God, or good, is the unreality of evil; we cannot accept one without the other. If before yielding to any temptation to do wrong, we gave one moment to silent prayer such as is taught in Christian Science, the prayer wherein evil is denied and God's omnipotence and omnipresence declared, and wherein it is remembered that man is spiritually the outcome of the Divine nature only, the sins that "so easily beset us" would beset us no more. We ought surely to devote at least one moment wholly to God when tempted to surrender our thought to the control of any suggestion of evil. If we believe in the supremacy of good, and base our hope of salvation thereon, what less can we do than first to turn our thought in that direction instead of allowing anger or unkindness, selfishness, injustice, or resentment to possess our thought and speech, or to influence our action. No matter what may be the seeming provocation, nor what have been the former tendencies of our disposition, how could we pass from even one moment's silent communion and consecration at God's altar, to the fulfilment of any evil impulse or desire? Is it not to such watchfulness as this that our Leader has so patiently admonished us, lest our mentality be defiled by sin and we lose the fruition of our labor?

         If evil is not believed true in the present, it has no past to enforce its claims. The obedience we may have rendered it during the past ten or twenty years does not thereby give it authority over us now, unless that obedience continue, and we do not have to retrace our steps for those twenty years in order to avoid being further victimized by error. If we deny and resist with the whole heart the errors that a false sense of being would attach to us, and abide in the knowledge of their falsity, they will cease to have any past from which to rise up and attack us. If persistently rejected, they will pass out of our consciousness, even as an unworthy beggar will cease in time to call at the door from which he is continuously turned away.

         The Scriptural injunction to have the same Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus" can be obeyed only through the bringing of "every thought to the obedience of Christ," through the denial of wrong inclinations, the correction of evil motives and desires, and through the subjection of the human will to the divine. Students of Christian Science, who faithfully apply what they understand of its teachings to the reformation of human character, find them a most effectual help. Through the uplifting of the Christ ideal in their consciousness, they are beginning to apprehend the meaning of the great truth which Jesus taught and demonstrated, and which pervades the whole teaching of Christian Science, that the Son is eternally at one with the Father. As this truth becomes clearly understood, one is enabled to heal the sick and the sinful, and to destroy the errors that pertain to the human sense of personality.


"Errors of Temperament" by Samuel Greenwood, CSB
The Christian Science Journal, February, 1907

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