The New Birth
From Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy
St. Paul speaks of the new birth as “waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” The great Nazarene Prophet said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Nothing aside from the spiritualization—yea, the highest Christianization—of thought and desire, can give the true perception of God and divine Science, that results in health, happiness, and holiness.
The new birth is not the work of a moment. It begins with moments, and goes on with years; moments of surrender to God, of childlike trust and joyful adoption of good; moments of self-abnegation, self-consecration, heaven-born hope, and spiritual love. Time may commence, but it cannot complete, the new birth: eternity does this; for progress is the law of infinity. Only through the sore travail of mortal mind shall soul as sense be satisfied, and man awake in His likeness. What a faith-lighted thought is this! that mortals can lay off the “old man,” until man is found to be the image of the infinite good that we name God, and the fulness of the stature of man in Christ appears. In mortal and material man, goodness seems in embryo. By suffering for sin, and the gradual fading out of the mortal and material sense of man, thought is developed into an infant Christianity; and, feeding at first on the milk of the Word, it drinks in the sweet revealings of a new and more spiritual Life and Love. These nourish the hungry hope, satisfy more the cravings for immortality, and so comfort, cheer, and bless one, that he saith: In mine infancy, this is enough of heaven to come down to earth.
But, as one grows into the manhood or womanhood of Christianity, one finds so much lacking, and so very much requisite to become wholly Christlike, that one saith: The Principle of Christianity is infinite: it is indeed God; and this infinite Principle hath infinite claims on man, and these claims are divine, not human; and man’s ability to meet them is from God; for, being His likeness and image, man must reflect the full dominion of Spirit—even its supremacy over sin, sickness, and death.
Here, then, is the awakening from the dream of life in matter, to the great fact that God is the only Life; that, therefore, we must entertain a higher sense of both God and man. We must learn that God is infinitely more than a person, or finite form, can contain; that God is a divine Whole, and All, an all-pervading intelligence and Love, a divine, infinite Principle; and that Christianity is a divine Science. This newly awakened consciousness is wholly spiritual; it emanates from Soul instead of body, and is the new birth begun in Christian Science.
Now, dear reader, pause for a moment with me, earnestly to contemplate this new-born spiritual altitude; for this statement demands demonstration.
Here you stand face to face with the laws of infinite Spirit, and behold for the first time the irresistible conflict between the flesh and Spirit. You stand before the awful detonations of Sinai. You hear and record the thunderings of the spiritual law of Life, as opposed to the material law of death; the spiritual law of Love, as opposed to the material sense of love; the law of omnipotent harmony and good, as opposed to any supposititious law of sin, sickness, or death. And, before the flames have died away on this mount of revelation, like the patriarch of old, you take off your shoes—lay aside your material appendages, human opinions and doctrines, give up your more material religion with its rites and ceremonies, put off your materia medica and hygiene as worse than useless—to sit at the feet of Jesus. Then, you meekly bow before the Christ, the spiritual idea that our great Master gave of the power of God to heal and to save. Then it is that you behold for the first time the divine Principle that redeems man from under the curse of materialism,—sin, disease, and death. This spiritual birth opens to the enraptured understanding a much higher and holier conception of the supremacy of Spirit, and of man as His likeness, whereby man reflects the divine power to heal the sick.
A material or human birth is the appearing of a mortal, not the immortal man. This birth is more or less prolonged and painful, according to the timely or untimely circumstances, the normal or abnormal material conditions attending it.
With the spiritual birth, man’s primitive, sinless, spiritual existence dawns on human thought,—through the travail of mortal mind, hope deferred, the perishing pleasure and accumulating pains of sense,—by which one loses himself as matter, and gains a truer sense of Spirit and spiritual man.
The purification or baptismals that come from Spirit, develop, step by step, the original likeness of perfect man, and efface the mark of the beast. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth;” therefore rejoice in tribulation, and welcome these spiritual signs of the new birth under the law and gospel of Christ, Truth.
The prominent laws which forward birth in the divine order of Science, are these: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me;” “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” These commands of infinite wisdom, translated into the new tongue, their spiritual meaning, signify: Thou shalt love Spirit only, not its opposite, in every God-quality, even in substance; thou shalt recognize thyself as God’s spiritual child only, and the true man and true woman, the all-harmonious “male and female,” as of spiritual origin, God’s reflection,—thus as children of one common Parent,—wherein and whereby Father, Mother, and child are the divine Principle and divine idea, even the divine “Us”—one in good, and good in One.
With this recognition man could never separate himself from good, God; and he would necessarily entertain habitual love for his fellow-man. Only by admitting evil as a reality, and entering into a state of evil thoughts, can we in belief separate one man’s interests from those of the whole human family, or thus attempt to separate Life from God. This is the mistake that causes much that must be repented of and overcome. Not to know what is blessing you, but to believe that aught that God sends is unjust,—or that those whom He commissions bring to you at His demand that which is unjust,—is wrong and cruel. Envy, evil thinking, evil speaking, covetousness, lust, hatred, malice, are always wrong, and will break the rule of Christian Science and prevent its demonstration; but the rod of God, and the obedience demanded of His servants in carrying out what He teaches them,—these are never unmerciful, never unwise.
The task of healing the sick is far lighter than that of so teaching the divine Principle and rules of Christian Science as to lift the affections and motives of men to adopt them and bring them out in human lives. He who has named the name of Christ, who has virtually accepted the divine claims of Truth and Love in divine Science, is daily departing from evil; and all the wicked endeavors of suppositional demons can never change the current of that life from steadfastly flowing on to God, its divine source.
But, taking the livery of heaven wherewith to cover iniquity, is the most fearful sin that mortals can commit. I should have more faith in an honest drugging-doctor, one who abides by his statements and works upon as high a basis as he understands, healing me, than I could or would have in a smooth-tongued hypocrite or mental malpractitioner.
Between the centripetal and centrifugal mental forces of material and spiritual gravitations, we go into or we go out of materialism or sin, and choose our course and its results. Which, then, shall be our choice,—the sinful, material, and perishable, or the spiritual, joy-giving, and eternal?
The spiritual sense of Life and its grand pursuits is of itself a bliss, health-giving and joy-inspiring. This sense of Life illumes our pathway with the radiance of divine Love; heals man spontaneously, morally and physically,—exhaling the aroma of Jesus’ own words, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”