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Science and Health (1881)/12 Reply to a Clergyman

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We shall not attempt to take up your entire strictures on our book, “Science and Health,” condemning to oblivion and calling vague that Truth which is raising up thousands from helplessness to health, and from a theoretical to a practical Christianity. You have quoted detached sentences, omitting their connections, or the full sentence. Even the Scriptures, that concur in one grand root of beauty and consistency, subjected to such usage, would be corrupted and made to appear contradictory. Condemning whatever is new before it is understood, if it be ecclesiastical, is not charitable and in accordance with the apostolic injunction, “Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.” An opinion of science is valueless; proof is the only aid to a due estimate of our subject. And scoffing at the application of the word science to Christianity cannot prevent that being science which is based on a divine Principle, demonstrated according to a given rule, and subject to proof. Because such are the the facts concerning metaphysics, justly denominated “Christian Science,” misrepresentation and denunciation cannot overthrow it. The Apostle alludes to “disputations on science,” but proof instead of opinion, and demonstration instead of dogma, support science, and are sure foundations, “making wise the simple.” In the [ 200 ] untraversed realm of metaphysics we behold with sorrow the sad effects on mind of denying self-evident Truth. Our reverend critic ridicules Christian science in the face of history, and notwithstanding the direct command in Scripture, “Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel, heal the sick.” If Christianity is not science, and science is not Christianity, we have no invariable rule of right, and Truth becomes an accident. Shall that be denied the authority of Scripture which works according to the Scripture? that has stopped the sinner, reclaimed the infidel, raised from the couch of pain the helpless invalid? that has spoken to the dumb the words of Truth, and they have answered back again rejoicing? has caused the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the blind to see? and shall our pulpits be the first to cashier the good fruits, when our Master has said “By their fruits ye shall know them”? If we were teaching or practising Pharmacy, Materia Medica, or Obstetrics, no denunciations of that would come from the pulpit, and the people would be taught to say Amen. But teaching Truth as the Principle of healing, and proving the word by the deed, we are smitten by sectarianism! Paul said, “Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” The age is ignorant of our method, to be sure; but to impugn our motive, and misrepresent our history and its results, need not follow, although without this we might not have taken up the cross that we have grown willing to bear, and be able to say, with the Apostle, “All these things cannot move me,” while the sick, the halt, and blind look up with blessings. But Truth will not be hidden forever from the quickened sense of the people by unjust paraphrase.

[ 201 ] In constant receipt of letters showing the good already accomplished by the book our reverend friend consigns to oblivion, we copy the following extract from a letter of a former United States consul, Col. Letts: —

“I had become almost a confirmed infidel to the truths of the Gospel of Christ; after reading ‘Science and Health’ my eyes were opened, and I can and do understand the beauties of the Gospel of our Master. I never thought I was a very wicked man until I attempted to learn of Science. I now find there is more to correct than I was aware of, but, when I conquer in one instance the next is easier. It is a fight for immortality, and I am determined to conquer by the help of God. Reading your book has restored my health.”

We have sometimes asked, Is this Truth rejected because meekness and spirituality are the conditions on which it is accepted, and healing the sick the proof required? whereas Christendom demands not as much. Anciently, the prophets, Jesus' students, and Paul, who was not his student, healed the sick and reformed the sinner by their Christianity. Alas for the age that requires words more than works, and institutions instead of inspirations, to follow such examples! and whoever meekly as conscientiously presses to the line of Gospel-healing shall be accounted a heretic.

Had our critic understood that Truth heals the sick, whereas error has the opposite effect, he would have spared the invalid his misrepresentation of metaphysics. Why should Christendom refuse to investigate other methods of treating disease, and support the doctor of physic if he is an infidel, and cures in one instance only to the one hundred instances of another method? Is it [ 202 ] because materia medica is more fashionable, more material, and less spiritual?

Our critic complains, “She professes to have God for her Life or Soul, and to be his idea”; but he should also have added, we claim this for every one, and because the Scripture hath said “He made man in His own image and likeness,” and we say that God's likeness is not matter, sin, sickness, or death. We have the authority of the English language, and that of Scripture, for saying that Spirit and God have but one signification, and we know the likeness of Spirit is not matter. When he teaches the omnipotence of God, — His absolute government, and no other, — his sermons will heal the sick. Again, our critic says, “The mind that contradicts itself neither knows itself or what it is saying.” It is no small matter to know one's self, and there is no contradiction of statement in this book to those who understand our statements sufficiently to comment on them justly. He who understands them can heal the sick on the Principle they lay down, and this is the only proof that he does understand our metaphysics. There are other methods of treating disease not included in materia medica, but we know of but one purely metaphysical, and that one is contained in the Scripture, and the one we present to the world. Until we are able to test a subject after the rules that disclose its merits or demerits, it were well to observe the divine precept, and “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Any person perceiving the incongruity between the idea of God and the belief of a mortal man, ought to discern the difference that we make between man that is God's idea, or “image and likeness,” and the mortal and material body named Adam, accursed, and pronounced [ 203 ] “dust to dust,” the nothingness which our critic cries out against. We never wrote or dreamed of “educating the idea of God, or treating it for disease,” as our critic would make out. We are sorry to say he confounds the reality of man with his Adam. When we speak of man made by the eternal Spirit, which said, “Let Us make man in our own image,” we by no means refer to his sinning, sick, and dying pattern. Our idea of man after His likeness differs from his.

Our critic says, “She calls sin, sickness, and death nothingness, and then tries to cure nothing.” Here he is right; but he should have understood that while establishing the nothingness of error, we bring out the somethingness of Truth, in health, harmony, and immortality; therefore our method is not, as he said, “fraught with falsities painful to behold.” He must admit that discord is no-thing, while we name it error, and doctor it with Truth, even as we waken the dreamer from incubus, by knowing the dream is nothing; and bringing this fact to the apprehension of the disbeliever in its nothingness, heals him. Our critic, dreaming of the somethingness of matter and error, needs to be wakened and behold their nothingness; then the sickness or the sin would disappear, and the right be found the real, and the inharmonious the unreal, even the nothingness of which he complains, but chides us for not thinking it something, and so honoring or fearing it. But materia medica virtually admits the nothingness of hallucination, and so treats it as disease; and we judge our critic would not object to this mode of practice from such a source, and would laud the cure effected by making the disease appear, as it is, an illusion.

[ 204 ] One disease is as much an illusion as another; it is only that Materia Medica and Theology have not found this out, whereas Jesus established this fact; and when the devil was cast out the dumb spake. We are condemned by our critic, perhaps, for our irreverence for sin; but we give all might to God; hence we have no respect for any other supposed power, and are irreverent only towards any other claim. We are trying to get that out of mind which, so long as it remains in mind, will produce the results claimed for it; for “as a man thinketh, so is he.” We have never supposed this century would present the full fruits of metaphysics, or that sin, sickness, and death would not continue in mortal thought for centuries to come; but this we do aver, — that old age and decrepitude come not as soon, because of our teachings, to those who learn them; that health is restored and longevity increased by them to-day: and if such are the present fruits, what may the harvest be when justice shall be done us by press and pulpit?

Instead of tenaciously defending the rights of discord, while complaining of the sufferings they bring, were it not wiser to relinquish one's grasp on these a little, when, by so doing, he can improve his own and other people's conditions? We must let go of matter to make room for Spirit. We cannot serve God and mammon; but are we not trying to do just this? Who will admit, with St. Paul, that the flesh warreth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh? Our critic writes: “To verify this wonderful philosophy she says all that is mortal or discordant hath no origin, existence, or reality.” He then adds: “Hence, if there is anything to be doctored, it is God. Alas! for an age when such darkness can be put [ 205 ] before the world as wisdom, and find minds so irrational as to immerse themselves in it.”

For that which cometh as of old, preaching the gospel to the poor, healing the sick, and casting out devils, there need be no lamentation; if, indeed, we have taken away his gods, they were but sickness, sin, and death, and Christ destroys them in proof of their nothingness. The rabbi saith, as of old, by this we dishonor the law, and should honor that which our Master annulled. We shall follow the Master's command, and make nothingness of sin, sickness, and death, as fast as we can; nor do we care how this be done, so that it is done. Our essential point is, that Life cannot die, and God is not the author of sickness; therefore we cannot agree with Mr. ——, that there is nothing but God to doctor; neither shall we call that darkness which restores that essential and lost element of Christianity, namely, the apostolic healing, and is “the light that shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.”

We trust our reverend friend would take no advantage of the difficulty in expressing metaphysics in physical terms, and being understood metaphysically. The English language, or any other language with which we are familiar, is inadequate to fully convey a spiritual meaning in material terms; and the spiritual sense of our subject holds the elucidation of it, and this sense you must gain to reach our meaning. Hence the Scripture, “They shall speak with new tongues.” We are addressing metaphysics to a physical age. When referring to matter, we understand that we refer to nothingness, while our reader is thinking of matter as something, and almost the only thing, and of the things that pertain to Spirit as [ 206 ] nothing, or something afar off. Again, we are speaking of the spiritual while acting on a material plane. When Soul is contradicting sense, we must employ the terms for material things to express the immaterial and spiritual idea. The material thought does not catch our meaning at once, and only as thought is educated metaphysically, and we impart to it our ideas through a process of teaching; this is undoubtedly true of all science.

Few understand to-day all of our Master's sayings in centuries past, and yet those sayings are true and most important to be understood; but we have not grown to accept their spiritual meaning: had we done so, we should have learned ere this how they healed the sick. His words were the offspring of his deeds, both of which must be understood, if one is; not comprehending the deed that his words explained, “the Word became flesh,” that is, it was defined materially, and the spiritual sense unperceived; hence, the religion that sprang from this half-hidden history was problematical and void of healing. Jesus had proved the difficulty of an age material apprehending spiritual Truth, when he said: “For this people's heart has waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest at any time they should see with eyes, and hear with ears, and should understand with heart, and should be converted and I should heal them.”

Where our critic loses faith in God to heal the sick, we cannot follow him, neither can we plant ourself on his material platform, and heal. We were a member of the Orthodox Church when a child, but our own and other people's prayers failed to heal us, until we learned the spiritual sense of a creed and discarded its material [ 207 ] sense, left the dead rite for the living, palpitating presence of Christ, Truth, whereby to heal the sick. We say, meekly as charitably, that no person can bring out the proof of Christianity that Jesus required, while error is as potent and real to him as Truth, and a personal devil and a personal God are his starting-points, and his Satan as powerful, or more so, and as eternal as his Deity. Because such starting-points are neither spiritual nor scientific, they cannot work out the spiritual and scientific rule of Christian healing, that proves the nothingness of error and matter.

Our Master called the body material, a “ghost,” an illusion; whereas, the rabbis took the diametrically opposite view. Materiality, to Jesus, was not the reality of man and existence, while to the rabbi, the spiritual was the intangible and prospective, if not the unreal. They gathered their thoughts in the material to perform their worship of the spiritual; to them matter was substance and Spirit shadow: they thought to worship Spirit from a material stand-point, but this was impractical. “To the unknown God” they might appeal, but their prayer could not bring the proof that they understood God sufficiently to demonstrate His presence and the absence of His opposite, and make harmony the real, and discord the unreal. If our critic had a child frightened of ghosts, and sick in consequence of her fear, would he say to her: “Ghosts are real; they exist, and are to be feared, but you must not be afraid of them”? The child or the adult ought to fear a reality that can master him, which he does not understand, and is at any moment the helpless victim thereof. But instead of increasing the fear of his child, by declaring the reality, the mercilessness, [ 208 ] and power of ghosts, thus establishing the very grounds of her fear, would he not assure the child her fears were groundless; that ghosts are not realities, but beliefs, and these beliefs error, and not the Truth of man, — in short, tell her not to believe in ghosts? knowing that if he destroys her belief in the reality of ghosts, her health will be restored, and the objects of her alarm will be found nothingness, no longer to be feared or honored. It is not irrational to tell the truth about ghosts, for it results well. The real of metaphysical science is the unreal to sense, and the real of sense is the unreal in this science. Personal sense and science have ever been, and ever will be, opposites in every conclusion.

Our critic thinks error is as real and eternal as Truth; but what a mistake! Truth destroys error, therefore error cannot be eternal; besides he admits that Truth is God and God is omnipotent. We have not outlived the age of ghostly beliefs; all have them more or less. We have not reached realities yet: nothing is real that is not eternal. Perfection is the Principle of reality; without it, nothing is real, and all things will continue to disappear until perfection appears, and the real is arrived at. We must give up the ghost at all points, or we shall suffer from nothing, supposed to be something, until we are glad to give it up. When we learn that discord is not real, because it is not immortal harmony, we are ready to progress, and “leave behind those things that are behind.” The grave does not away with the ghost of materiality. So long as there are limits to mind, and these limits assign themselves to personalities, named men and women, so long will ghosts continue. Mind is limitless; it never was in a body. All that we name minds [ 209 ] in bodies are beliefs, yea, ghosts; and Jesus is the authority for this assertion. The Principle of Christianity, being spiritual, and the spiritual the immortal, it follows that our material beliefs can neither demonstrate Christianity, nor apprehend the reality of being.

Our critic is pleased to name our protests “utter falsities and absurdities,” while yet he is weakly protesting against materiality, alias the “flesh and the devil,” and invoking divine aid to leave all for Christ, Spirit, thus to bring out in demonstration our more direct phraseology or scientific statement of being, and so practise what he preaches. Our words have their immortality in deeds; their Principle heals the sick, and makes man more spiritual.

On the other hand, our critic assumes no proof, and gives none, of the efficacy of Christ, Truth, to heal the sick, but demands the acceptance of his barren, desultory dogmas, because the traditions of the elders have set their seals thereto. “Consistency” is example more than precept; inconsistency is words without deeds, clouds that hold no rain. If our words fail to express our deeds, God will take care of that, and out of the mouth of babes He will perfect praise, for Truth will open the spiritual sense that discerns the “new tongues.” When speaking of sin, or the unreal, we speak of what is in itself inconsistent, and we rejoice to have found this out. Then be charitable, if our sentences appear inconsistent, and learn what they bring out. We dispose of inconsistency by exposing it, by talking it up to talk it down, and naming it to unname it. That our statements are, as our critic declares them, “absolutely false, and the most egregious fallacies ever offered for [ 210 ] acceptance,” is but an opinion on his part, and owing wholly to his inability to demonstrate metaphysics, and prove for himself that it is God's keynote of harmony and immortality; and without this proof none are capable of an impartial or a correct comment. A material existence, or what is termed this, affords not the least evidence of spiritual existence, or God.

Strange as it should appear, we would make the evidences before the material senses support the evidences of the spiritual senses, when they are directly opposite, and so antagonistic that the material must disappear before the spiritual can appear. Sin, sickness, and death are neither the evidences nor proofs of man's entity or existence as Soul, yea, Life, Truth, and Love; discord never established harmony; matter is not the vestibule to Spirit. Jesus argued this subject conclusively, and mastered sickness, sin, and death on the very basis of his argument and its Principle. Understanding the nothingness of material things, their lack of reality, he spake of the material and spiritual as opposites, not contributing in any sense to the existence of each other. “The same fountain sendeth not forth sweet and bitter water,” were the words of our Master, but our critic would hold eternal copartnership between error and Truth. Our critic will perhaps admit that God is incapable of sinning (if he does not allow this, we shall), whereas he made man capable of becoming a sinner! Then we ask, Did God, out of Himself — for He made man from the basis of God when he said, “Let Us make man” — make that which is capable of evil? From the foundations of good, did evil proceed? Nay, verily God never made evil, and never committed the fraud on humanity to make a man that was [ 211 ] capable of evil, and then claim He created not the evil, when evil alone is capable of producing it. Do you call this the act of goodness, to create the primitive, then to punish its derivative, and claim that it created itself? In common justice, we must either admit that God does not punish man for doing what he made him to do, and knew that he would do, else that God has nothing to do with evil, with sin, or a sinner, and never had, — which is the fact in the case. Sin is alone the author of sin; Truth neither creates error nor the capacity to err; hence, sin and sinners are mythology, the creations of error, and error is not the truth of being, but a falsity that dies of its own nothingness; and the greater becomes the error, the more certain it is that it will be self-destroyed. If only we would yield the belief that God made sickness, sin, and death, else that he made man capable of bringing out this trio at any moment, we should begin to sap their foundations, and to establish their sure destruction; but dignifying them with the authorship and authority of Deity, how dare we attempt to destroy that which He hath made? History shows that our metaphysics is gaining ground; that the arbitrary and unjust pattern for Deity originated in the mortal and not the immortal mind, and has been fading out of this so-called mind for centuries, and will eventually disappear.

If the opposite of God is as real as God, there are two powers, and God is not all-powerful. Is Deity omnipotent, while yet there is another might, another strong arm of sin that He cannot, or does not, restrain? Is Life God, as the Scripture saith, and Life, or God, entering matter, and matter driving it hence, and beating Omnipotence at every point?

[ 212 ] Is the woodman's axe, that destroys what you term Life in a tree, superior to Omnipotence? Is the bullet that enters the heart of mortal man the destroyer of Life, God?

If Mind is at the mercy of matter, then matter is the Omnipotent. These are the doctrines that are “confusion confounded,” a “kingdom divided against itself that cannot stand.” One statement, contradicting another, renders it null and void. Is metaphysics as contradictory as this? If so, it cannot be science, and bring with it the proofs that it is science.

Christian healing is not the result of such contradictory aphorisms, or the invention of those who scoff at a scientific view of Life, God. Will our critic name the microscope through which we may discern Spirit in matter? And if the evidences of the existence of Spirit, or Soul, are palpable to spiritual sense only, and are not cognizant to the five personal senses, while yet these senses are indispensable to man's existence or entity, what becomes of the ego when matter disappears? One more question for our reverend friend. Why are the words instead of the deeds, of Prophet and Apostle, copied into your sermons, and quoted for people's instruction? When history records the lives of great and good men, we deem their acts paramount to their sayings, and they are those we strive to emulate. Our critic says, “Rest assured that whatever possible effect Mrs. Glover Eddy may have on the sick, it is by making them believe that she has a wonderful power from the Holy Spirit to remove disease.”

Here does our critic imply that the members of his church, the believers in the New Church doctrines, would [ 213 ] have one half the faith in an individual whom they have never met, and whose system of healing is traduced by their pastor, that they have in him? And yet, if both of us should enter their sick-rooms together, we could heal the sick; and could he do this? and would that cure be the result of their faith in us? We have healed many an infidel whose only objection to our method was that we had faith in the efficacy of Truth, or the “Holy Spirit,” whereas they had none.

We honor Christianity wherever it be found; but the demonstration of Truth, and a more spiritual life must come of it, or we have not arrived at what the word includes. We early united with the Orthodox Church, and not less, but more, do we love now the spiritual signification of the church militant. From Puritan parents we received an early religious education, and listened with joy when a child to these words, falling from the lips of our sainted mother: “God is able to raise you up from sickness”; and pondered the meaning of that Scripture, “And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

The usual opinion that we must be a Spiritualist or medium, because we are not a materialist and creedist, we desire to correct. We were never a Spiritualist, and never were, and never admitted that we were, a medium. We have explained to Spiritualists how their signs and wonders are wrought, and illustrated by doing some of them; but have always said it was the result of mind on this plane of existence.

We have not a newspaper yet at our command through [ 214 ] which to right the wrongs and answer the untruths; but if we had, the slanderer and the hypocrite would have less to do.

My critic and I are like two artists, one of whom says, “I have pictures of mind real and glorious, and when others see them as I in their true light, loveliness, and immortality, and name them, as I, the only fadeless and real, they will learn that nothing is lost by a right estimate of the real, through which we gain health, home, and heaven.”

The other artist replies, “You wrong my experience. I have no pictures except on canvas. True, the canvas renders my picture imperfect and destructible, yet I would not exchange mine for yours, for I made them, but here let me be understood that God made them also.” Dear reader, choose which picture shall be yours, — the material or the spiritual. Both you cannot have. You are bringing out your ideals: is the temporal or the eternal your model? If you have two models, then you have no model, and are like a pendulum between the unreal and the real, that knocks against the ribs of matter and is thrown backward.

“How much less should we trust in them that dwell in houses of clay. They are destroyed from morning to evening; they perish forever, without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? They die even without wisdom.”