The Nothingness of Nothing

From the Christian Science Sentinel, April 23, 1921, by


When Mrs. Eddy realized the nothingness of evil, she found the way to its destruction. For centuries the world had been fighting evil, or rather the instinct of good in the world had been fighting evil, as a tremendous reality. The human being, animated by some dim realization of Principle, went into the battle with evil, not regarding his true self as the image and likeness of Principle and so as its master, but regarding it rather as described in the old folk tales, and himself as a frail and sensuous man, engaged in a more or less unequal contest with it. He forgot that if the writer of Revelation pictured this evil as a great red dragon for the purpose of symbolizing its pretended might, he later endowed it with the other names for evil, “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,” with the intention of insisting upon the oneness of its claims to counterfeit reality, before consigning them to oblivion and nothingness. Thus when Mrs. Eddy, in Science and Health, first drew attention to the obvious fact that if God, Principle, was good and was infinite, there was no room for evil as a reality, scholasticism roused itself into a veritable passion of argument, in the course of which it rejected every one of its own axioms, and behaved more like the demoniac amidst the tombs than anything else.

Now it must not be imagined for one moment that the repudiation of evil as a reality even predicates any encouragement to sin. It does the very reverse. It makes sin deliberate, beyond the advancement of any excuse, and so exposes the impossibility of sin unrepented of escaping punishment. The Calvinist or the fatalist may plead the inevitability of sin, when sin is foreordained, but the Christian Scientist knows that sin is a mesmerism which must, sooner or later, be awakened from, since good, because it is Principle, must also be the reality. Nothing, that is to say, outside of Principle can have any actuality. As a theory such a statement is easy enough to comprehend. But Christian Science is not satisfied with theories. James declared that faith without works, theory without demonstration, was a dead thing. Mrs. Eddy has gone as far, or further than James. “In Science,” she writes, on page 329 of Science and Health, “we can use only what we understand. We must prove our faith by demonstration.” In this way the emotionality of religion is put out of court. Religion is proclaimed as precisely what it is defined as in the Greek of the New Testament, the scientific knowledge of God, Principle. And the student is forced to take his stand on those wonderful opening sentences of the First Epistle of John, read no longer as a mystical utterance, but as a plain scientific statement: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.”

The effort of Christian Science, then, is not merely to preach the gospel, the good new, or the truth, but, as well, to heal the sick, to prove to the sick that what heals is a knowledge of Truth, and the sick, be it said, are all those believing anything except the truth, and so being deceived by the arch-liar, the great red dragon, with all his subtleties and suggestions. Of course, the dragon is too clever, if the terms of the metaphor are to be accepted, to represent what the human mind defines as evil as being good. As good, he offers the good of the tree of knowledge of good and evil,—carnal appetite, vainglory, power, the very things Christ Jesus trampled underfoot in his own struggle with evil in the wilderness. Human joy and physical pleasure, that is the dragon’s summing up of good: physical suffering and human sorrow represent the sum of evil. But no man can have one without the other. Physical life must end in death, yet life is eternal: human joy must finish in sorrow, yet men are as the angels in heaven. Between the inherited scholastic teaching as to evil and the teaching of Christian Science there is evidently a great gulf fixed, and Mrs. Eddy plumbed it in the exposure of evil as unreal.

“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” So wrote the author of Revelation in the first century, and eighteen centuries later Mrs. Eddy wrote, on page 563 of Science and Health: “The great red dragon symbolizes a lie,—the belief that substance, life, and intelligence can be material. This dragon stands for the sum total of human error. The ten horns of the dragon typify the belief that matter has power of its own, and that by means of an evil mind in matter the Ten Commandments can be broken.” If matter were real, if evil were power, this would unquestionably be the case, and not only the present case but the eternal case. Fortunately, however, matter is not real, and evil is not power, and this is proved in Christian Science every time, through a knowledge of their unreality and powerlessness, a case of sickness is healed or a sin overcome. Men still believe that the horns of the dragon can break the Ten Commandments, because they first give power to the dragon out of human fear, and then constitute him real out of human sensuousness. But to merely say that matter is unreal amounts to almost nothing. The metaphysical reason for its unreality must be grasped and understood. In just the same way, to say there is no power in evil is merely futile for any one behaving all the time as if there were. None the less the letter and the spirit must go hand in hand, and the letter never is fully grasped until the spirit is assimilated, any more than the spirit can be fully assimilated until the letter is grasped. When this occurs nothing can withstand the Science and might of Principle; “ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

In the knowledge of this truth, the unreality and powerlessness of evil, lies the secret of the peace of God which passeth all understanding. The distraughtness, the restlessness, the trouble that pursue the individual, exist in the exact ratio of the individual’s belief in evil, and vanish in the exact ratio in which the individual, through his knowledge of Principle, reduces evil to nothing. A belief in the power of evil is an inevitable expression of materiality. Greater love, says the Greek of the New Testament, hath no man than this, that a man lay down his materiality for his friends. So long as the human being believes in materiality, he must believe in sin, sickness, and death; in other words, in the reality of matter and the power of evil. When he begins to lay down his materiality it can only be because he has gained his first glimpse of spiritual reality, and so of life eternal. This is the very foundation of Christian Science teaching. “There is,” Mrs. Eddy writes, on page 468 of Science and Health, “no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.”




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