“The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand”

From the June 1905 Christian Science Journal by

The long accepted theory that the kingdom of heaven is a place, and the no one can ever enter this sacred domain until after death, is rapidly yielding to more enlightened views upon this most important subject. In the light of Christian Science it seems passing strange that we should have read our Bibles for years and yet have felt satisfied with such an untenable theory, a theory not supported by even the letter of Scripture.

John the Baptist did not intimate that heaven was a locality, but he did say that it was at hand, and he admonished men to repent of their sinful thoughts and acts in order that they might begin to realize that salvation was to come to them in this present world. He knew that heaven meant a state of purified consciousness to be attained through right thinking, and he labored zealously to bring this to the recognition of others, but he could not and did not give any practical proof of the truth of his ministry. This was a distinguishing feature of the Saviour’s mission.

John’s strongest point was the absolute need of repentance which he urged upon his followers; and yet, with all that he had to say upon this subject, it was evident that Jesus realized that John had not succeeded in bringing about the necessary reformation, for in the very beginning of his public work we find him repeating John’s identical words, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John’s position was one of “faith without works;” he was an earnest preacher and exhorter, he could tell others what they ought to do, but he could not show them how to do it. This illustrates one of the inherent tendencies of the human mind. It can talk eloquently, but it falls short of demonstration, without which there can be no real advance. If preaching without healing in John’s time did not bring about the practical reformation that leads men to Christ, can we expect such preaching to avail more in this present hour? No; and it is for this very reason that Christian Science came to us when it did. The science of Christian healing had been lost sight of, and there was a crying need that it be re-established in human consciousness, and this need divine Love has supplied. Christian Science says now to all mankind, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and both by precept and example it explains how to repent, and how to emulate the healing works of the great Master.

Jesus the Christ referred to his demonstrations of healing as evidence of God’s presence with men. Christian Science does likewise, and we venture the assertion that, until man experiences the healing of sin and of sickness, he has no practical and positive evidence of the kingdom of heaven on earth. No merely intellectual discernment can reveal the presence and potency of God’s healing power, else John the Baptist could have healed the sick. Blind faith and belief cannot reveal it. Belief in two antagonistic powers, good and evil, can never fathom it. Faith in matter, drugs, and hygiene cannot grasp it. It can only be discerned spiritually. If we are still relying upon drugs or any other material agency for healing, it is clearly evident that we have not truly repented, and the kingdom of heaven, instead of being a palpable reality, remains only a beautiful theory to be realized in an uncertain future existence.

The Christian Scientist no longer doubts the authenticity of gospel healing. Having gained a practical understanding of the Principle of spiritual healing, he knows that Jesus and his apostles unquestionably did the healing works recorded in the New Testament, else similar works would not now be manifest. As evidence of a more thorough and practical reformation on his part, he is enabled to prove the power and willingness of God to heal the sick to-day as He did in Jesus’ time. We cannot lay too great stress upon the fact that the healing of sickness and sin in Jesus’ way is the beginning of the reign of harmony,—the kingdom of heaven in individual consciousness. If we fail to see how God heals without the use of drugs or any other material agency, we do not know God aright, nor do we realize that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. If we say we have faith in God, and yet we resort to matter for healing, we deny rather than affirm the presence of the kingdom of God. However humiliating it may seem, we are forced to admit that a divided faith is not faith at all, but simply a human belief, for, as the Scriptures say, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

People as a rule are not ready to repent until they have lost faith in materiality, until they have proven the futility of material theories and means; then they are glad to be told that God, good, is all power, and are receptive to the truth that heals and saves here and now. Since the kingdom of heaven is here already, there is something demanded of us beyond blind belief and profession. Talking will never get us into it. It “cometh not with observation,” as the Master tells us, and for this very reason people are loth to be told that heaven is a present reality. They are educated to believe only what they see, and any teaching that disputes sense-testimony is very liable to evoke skepticism and prejudice, or even ridicule and infidelity. Were we to listen to their various arguments, we would conclude that people in general are very much opposed to the kingdom of heaven on earth. They are so preoccupied with material things that they claim to have no time for the spiritual. The advocates of false theology are largely responsible for such a deplorable condition of thought, teaching, as they do, that man can reach heaven only by dying, and that he consequently need not look for God’s kingdom here.

What was the Saviour’s mission unless it were to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth? What was the need of his coming to earth if death is to solve the problem of being and usher man into paradise ? Why did he urge men to repent “and believe the gospel”? Why did he instruct his disciples to “go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” unless he meant just what he said? Why did he heal the lame, the halt, the sick, and the blind unless it was to prove to humanity what the kingdom of heaven meant? Why did he spend all his time in bringing salvation to humanity here and now if it was not the will of God that man should find heaven on earth? Why did he pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth,” if heaven is not here?

We must admit that where God is, heaven is, and since God is omnipresence itself, we know that heaven is here and everywhere. This one simple argument should forever dispel the theory of heaven’s being a place. An honest recognition of the fact that God’s kingdom is on earth offers every possible incentive to right thinking and right doing, while belief in a future-world salvation places a premium upon wrong thinking and discourages the present overcoming of sin. Until humanity learns that death is an enemy to be destroyed through a correct apprehension of Life, it will continue to argue for the reality of evil in all its forms, and will persecute the advocates of a presentday salvation. It will cling tenaciously to materia medica and resort to every known material means for relief, but without avail. Finally, man’s extremity becomes God’s opportunity, and practical and complete repentance follows, leading men to the understanding that God, good, is all power and all real presence. Then they begin to overcome their belief in a supposed power opposed to God, and to understand that salvation is here and now.

Christian Science offers a complete salvation from disease and sin, and just to the extent that we partake of this salvation do we realize that the kingdom of heaven is on earth. We are told in Scripture that nothing that maketh or worketh a lie can enter this kingdom, and as Christian Scientists we have learned that a diseased body is no more acceptable to God than a sinful mentality, and that neither can enter heaven, here or hereafter, until it is regenerated by Christ, Truth. This brings home to us all a most important lesson; viz., that all evil must be overcome, here or somewhere, before we can fully understand what the kingdom of heaven is. Now is certainly the time in which to begin working out our salvation, and we know that our reward is at hand the moment we get into harmony with the unerring law of God and therein abide.

There is no need of our understanding everything pertaining to the kingdom of heaven, before beginning the great work of regeneration whereby we shall become worthy to partake of its manifold blessings; the law of harmonious growth requires but one step at a time, and if this be faithfully taken we shall better comprehend and appreciate what is still before us. Growth is usually gradual along all lines of human development, but not necessarily slow. It is indeed fortunate for humanity that such is the case. If we could reach the consciousness of heaven at a single bound, Christian Science would not be practically available as an every-day Christianity which is to appeal to the multitudes and not to a favored few.

If the Christian Scientist were asked how it could be ascertained that the kingdom of heaven is already here, he would probably reply, “Take up the study of the Christian Science text-book, ‘Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures’ by Mary Baker G. Eddy, as a companion to your Bible, and learn how God heals sickness as well as sin and you will be able to prove that salvation is a present possibility. It is simply your divided faith that has kept you from sooner recognizing this great spiritual fact. You have been educated to look away from God to matter as a healing agency; you have been told by your spiritual advisers that God does not will that the poor sick man should be healed through spiritual means now, as he was in Jesus’ time; and that death is a necessary stepping-stone to heaven. You have perhaps been warned against associating with people who advocate the destruction of evil this side of the grave; you have been advised not to read any literature touching upon such a dangerous doctrine as Christian Science Mind-healing; you have met with so much prejudice and misrepresentation, so much incredulity and lack of faith and confidence in God’s ability and disposition to heal, especially on the part of those who should be enlightened upon such subjects, that you have been driven almost to infidelity, and have even doubted the existence of God himself. Christian Science will lead you gently back to your Father’s house; you will there learn that God is Love, that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should repent of their wrong thinking and become living examples of what God can do for man to-day, physically and spiritually.”

What we know of God we likewise know of the kingdom of heaven. A far-off kingdom means a far-off God, and yet we try to realize that God is omnipresent. When we admit the power and presence of evil we but confess our ignorance of God and of His kingdom. It is this vain attempt on our part to associate good and evil, light and darkness, that keeps us in bondage to false beliefs. So long as we partake of this tree of false knowledge we shall ever be learning but not coming to a knowledge or understanding of the truth, and it does seem as if most people needed a good sound thrashing before being willing to admit that good is all-powerful and ever-present. They profess to love God and their fellow-man, while believing in the necessity and reality of pain, sickness, and sorrow; and in the hour of need their love is not strong enough to appeal to God for help, but, instead, it turns away from the omnipresence of good to seek relief in some form of nonintelligent matter or from some of the counterfeit forces of liberated human thought, in the form of mesmerism or hypnotism. If humanity could only realize that any material remedy which promises immunity from pain and disease by a smoothing-over or palliating process is but a barrier between them and the kingdom of heaven, in that it tends to prolong the mesmeric dream of supposed life in matter, they would the sooner turn to the living God for help and be awakened from their dream existence. We can truly welcome the failures of all false systems to bring health and harmony to earth, for these very failures can teach but one lesson and that is, that the only real help comes from God.

The innate tendency of the mortal would seem to be to do everything possible to ward off the coming of the heavenly kingdom. And this is not surprising when we stop to consider that the mortal is made up of all the erroneous beliefs and errors that make for discord rather than for harmony. What he is seeking is ease in error, and he may find a temporary, mistaken sense of what he terms heaven, but sooner or later this false sense changes to a sense of suffering, and he then hears the voice of Truth, saying, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” He then begins to prepare himself to become a worthy inmate of the kingdom of heaven on earth. The task before him may not seem at first to be an easy one, but as he learns to love Spirit more and matter less, he begins to work intelligently, and knowing that it is God that worketh in him “both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” he presses on, and the way grows brighter. Every possible inducement to reach a higher plane of consciousness is before him, for he has learned that the kingdom of good is at hand, and instead of dreaming of a future reward, he knows that this reward is with him, here and now, just to the extent that he keeps in touch with God, good, by obeying His laws.

The first faint glimpse of the great spiritual fact that heaven is on earth makes better men and women of us all. The standard of health and morality is raised the moment we discern man’s true relationship to God and begin to overcome in individual consciousness everything that antagonizes this relationship. Until this point of spiritual discernment is reached we do not understand what health means nor how to find it. We may imagine that we do, but facts dispute it. Reliable information upon the subject of health must come from God, not mortal man, and when we learn to look to divine Mind intelligently for it we are sure to find it. One thing is certain, if the kingdom of heaven is not at hand, health is not here, for where one is the other is.

One of the most helpful admonitions ever uttered by the Master was that we should seek “first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness,” if we would have all things added unto us. This is equivalent to saying that everything that really exists is in the realm of Mind or in the kingdom of harmony, and that if we would partake of it we must look for it where it can be found, in Mind and not in matter. This admonition, if heeded, would solve every problem confronting humanity, whereas, it is far from being obeyed, even by professing Christians. Why is this so? Because we have been educated from a material standpoint, been taught to cherish and obey the five physical senses, not one of which can furnish us with any reliable information concerning the unseen verities of being. Is it any wonder that humanity does not have more faith in Spirit and spiritual means? Christian Science has come to educate human thought from the standpoint of what is real and eternal, and this means that we are to become acquainted with the polar opposite of what has been learned from the standpoint of the transitory and unreal. It means the overthrow of all false concepts; it means a thorough overturning and re-adjusting of everything that has been learned through the material senses; it means the overcoming of all that is called evil, and the acquirement of health, happiness, wisdom, and understanding; in other words, the conscious recognition of the kingdom of heaven at hand, the realm of reality.

Erroneous thinking, which is only a counterfeit of the real, is all that stands between us and heaven. On every plane of consciousness a right thought always corrects a wrong one. Then why should we not strive to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” here and now, instead of blindly waiting for the uncertain future? If we examine ourselves closely, will we not find that it is because we believe that death is going to solve the problem for us? Too frequently do we hear the expression, “I have no time for spiritual things.” The individual who admits this, little realizes that he has all the time there is, and that “now is the day of salvation.” Sooner or later he must awaken from his mistaken belief, to learn that God demands, not a part only, but all of his time. This awakening will not rob him of his usefulness in any sphere of legitimate activity. It will simply teach him that most important of all lessons,—the lesson of obedience. It will abolish forever the old-time custom of worshiping God only on Sunday, and forgetting all about Him during business hours. It will not only reveal to him the absolute necessity of obeying divine Principle in all the affairs of every-day life, but, best of all, will show him how to perform this much-needed service. Sober-headed business men in all parts of the world, occupying prominent positions, testify that success and happiness have come to them only as they have learned to reduce to daily practice the precept of the great Master, to seek first “the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.”

Many people imagine that Christian Science will require them to give up all other vocations and to devote their entire time to healing the sick, but not so. The mission of Christian Science is to leaven human thought in its entirety, not simply a portion of it, and this could not be accomplished if every one who became interested in its teachings were to abandon his present occupation and unceremoniously announce his intention of becoming a public practitioner. There are those, of course, who are so situated when Christian Science comes to them that they can soon withdraw from other vocations and engage in public work in Science, but this is by no means required of all. No one, in fact, can successfully enter upon such work without a thorough and painstaking preparation for so holy a mission, and this is not consummated in a day. The man of affairs who has accepted Christian Science will find plenty of opportunities to prove his faith by his works. He will find certain conditions of business that are just as much in need of mental adjustment as is the sick man who goes to a practitioner; and were these conditions to be ignored, Christian Science would fall short of being a practical, every-day religion, and strife, greed, avarice, dishonesty, and general demoralization would continue to be in evidence.

The teaching of Christian Science demonstrated is the kingdom of heaven at hand, whether in the home or in the business world, and for this reason, that it demands the forsaking and overcoming of all evil. It does not make the mistake of promising us immunity from pain and disease when perchance we are dealing dishonestly in the world of business. We must think right and do right in every walk of life if we would learn the meaning of heaven or harmony and enjoy its healing blessings. Mortals are sometimes more than willing to part with some of their errors, while they stubbornly refuse to give up others, especially those which promise them a certain amount of false pleasure, though at the same time they admit them to be wrong. Even among Christian Scientists the tempter will argue for the indulgence of certain harmless (?) errors, and the too frequent yielding to such false arguments may readily account for some of the needless mental struggles of which we hear. If we would ever know God aright, and thereby partake of His kingdom on earth, we must learn to be honest with ourselves, and seek and strive to forsake the whole of evil instead of a part.

The kingdom of heaven is already complete. Nothing can be taken from it nor added to it. Everything pertaining to godliness that we can wish for or ever hope to receive is already within it; as the apostle so beautifully expresses it, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” The consciousness of good, therefore, will reveal this completeness of the heavenly kingdom. At this point we must not overlook the fact that evil, in its attempt to counterfeit that which is holy and complete, must necessarily be seductive and dangerous. As proof of this statement, note what evil claims: “All that man knows or that he can hope to know in this present world is what he cognizes through the five physical senses.” If we allow ourselves to be deceived by such sophistry we shall certainly be without God and without hope so long as we believe its lie, for it is an admitted fact that these senses can tell us nothing about Spirit or spiritual things.

The Master’s declaration, “The kingdom of God is within you,” clearly indicates its spiritual nature as well as the ability to realize and experience it in this present world. St. John’s vision of a new heaven and new earth was his mental recognition of heaven within, and this vision is ours the moment we can prove, through signs following, that evil has neither intelligence, power, nor authority. This proof can come only as we take a firm stand against all belief in evil and resolve to think and to declare the allness of good, God; not by believing that there are two powers, both good and evil, warring eternally with each other, but by knowing that good is the only power, influence, and activity there is. The science of mathematics does not include both truth and error, neither does the Science of being include both good and evil. In mathematics it is the science of right that discloses and eliminates all mistakes; it is the Science or truth about God, good, that uncovers and destroys all evil. God’s thought, reflected by man, will and does solve every life-problem. The thought of evil, under whatever guise it may pose, appears only as a mistake, and this mistake must needs be corrected before perfect harmony can be realized. Each mistake thus corrected is one step into the consciousness of reality, the kingdom of heaven here.

Is it not possible now to stop thinking thoughts which do not originate in God? Is it not the will of our heavenly Father that we should to-day purge out the old “leaven of malice and wickedness,” and learn to reflect toward friend and foe alike that love which thinketh no evil? What a different world this would be if we would all begin to-day to think, study, and discuss only such subjects as make for health, peace, and happiness! Would this not be the kingdom of heaven at hand? ” ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

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