“Gates of Heaven”
From the Christian Science Journal, Vol. 33, No. 11, February 1916, by Elizabeth Earl Jones
In the familiar hymn which begins,”Prayer is the heart’s sincere desire” (Hymnal, p. 91), occurs the line, “He enters heaven with prayer.” Like the gospel of Jesus, Christian Science proclaims, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand,” is “within you.” Not through death or through any human experience must we expect to enter heaven, but through true prayer. It is just here that Mrs. Eddy has most abundantly blessed the world by teaching us to pray as Jesus prayed, and thus obtain the same results. On pages 15 and 16 of Science and Health she gives the simplest, most uplifting and practical instructions as to how to pray. These two pages have marked the turning-point in many a career and made all the difference between heaven and hell in the lives of her loyal followers.
All Christians agree that heaven is a state of perfect harmony. No matter is there, no sin, sorrow, disease, or death, but only God and His spiritual ideas. Could any gift be more precious to a weary, sin-sick world than the understanding of how to pray aright, and therefore of how to enter heaven here and now? We often hear it said, “God seems so far away, how can I realize His presence and power?” Heaven and God, and the God-created you and I, are as far away from hate, disease, poverty, sin, and fear, as light is from darkness. The only way, therefore, to cross this bridgeless abyss is to dissociate ourselves entirely from all that is far from God and heaven. St. James says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” We cannot disconnect the thought of ourselves and of others from evil so long as we believe and affirm evil to be real. The straight and narrow way, Science shows us, is the absolute, which admits of no temporizing.
On page 14 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy says, “Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man’s dominion over the whole earth.” It is only the evidence of the senses, this “dream of material living” which testifies to evil and which seems to interdict our realization of the kingdom of heaven “within.” Let us therefore go aside often, as Jesus did,—shut our eyes, close our ears to all materiality, banish all wrong or fearful thoughts; and as these false claims are silenced one by one, we will enter the gateway to heaven, feel God’s nearness, His allness. Then we may begin to know in a measure the substance of Spirit, the freedom of infinity, and to understand how it is that there is no life or substance in matter.
The first angelic salutation which greets us upon entering these everlasting gates is, “On earth peace, good will toward men.” If we do not hear or become conscious of this salutation, then we must strive more sincerely and thoroughly to empty our thoughts of pride, self-will, self-justification, and wrong concepts of our fellow men, or of wrong motives and desires in our own hearts. The way is straight and narrow. The belief that mere money or matter can give us anything, or that the lack of it can deprive us of aught which is good and real, must be bravely wrestled with and overcome, so that we may sincerely say with the Master, “Not my will, but thine, be done.”
Following close upon the silent, peaceful salutation which welcomes the home-comer to heaven, is a wonderful spiritual uplift of thought; a glowing light, which reveals vast depths of joy, strength, harmony, beauty, and power hitherto unknown. The heavenly treasure which Jesus promised the rich young man if he would change his sense of value from the material to the spiritual, surrounds us everywhere, and we know why Jesus felt sad when the young man went away unable to part with his love of “great possessions.”
As the vision grows upon our enraptured thought and takes deep root in our hearts, a wonderful transformation begins to come about. On a certain occasion when Jesus prayed, his disciples saw him transfigured before them,—his face shone, and even his robes were radiant. As we begin to respond to this transforming power, the vital activity of right ideas, we understand in a measure how and why Jesus’ prayer transfigured him; and we know and become able to prove for ourselves and others that this right conception of being heals. It changes discord of every sort into harmony. It stimulates, purifies, and governs not only us but all of our affairs, and those who come to us for help. On page 263 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy says: “When mortal man blends his thoughts of existence with the spiritual and works only as God works, he will no longer grope in the dark and cling to earth because he has not tasted heaven. Carnal beliefs defraud us.”
There can be no idolatry in heaven. Sometimes one has long cherished a sense of resentment or a false concept of some sort, until it is really his idol, for he serves it and follows it instead of following divine Principle, Love. It is very plain that either his idol or else his hope of heaven — health, peace, joy, plenty, spiritual growth — must be given up. This is a critical moment of experience; it is the time for choosing, the moment which marks one’s healing and emancipation, or else his deeper plunge into suffering. Once Jesus asked of a certain sick man, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Christ, Truth, is asking this same question of each of us today, and how are we answering? A modern poet writes: —
Half-hearted, false-hearted, — heed we the
Only the whole can be perfectly true.
Those who fear they will lose by changing their concepts from a material and temporal sense of things into a higher, truer apprehension of being, are manifestly making a mistake. We cannot afford to hold back until those we love are willing to enter heaven with us. The very transformation which Truth and Love can work in us, will in itself help to break the sense-mesmerism that would hold others back and will prove a beacon to benighted mariners.
Those who make it a practice to enter heaven daily and to accustom their thoughts to flow in divine channels, to look from God’s view-point and to know all things anew after the divine model, even if it costs them much effort, struggle, and time before sense is silenced sufficiently to hear the voice of God, will find that each day the struggle will lessen, and the depth of penetration and the joy of the new birth become greater, more permanent, with a corresponding increase of the resultant harmony. Jesus spoke of himself as “the Son of man which is in heaven,” and it may come about in our lives at any time, if we are faithful, that we too may share that designation.
In Science we find that wherever we are, right there is the gate of heaven for us; right there is the place for us to lay aside our burdens and enter in. If at home, in our place of business, in a sick-room, in a prison cell, in a crowd, at church, or alone, wherever we are, right there, at any moment we may desire, we can close our thoughts to error, escape from danger, tribulation, sorrow, care, fatigue, pain, and enter God’s universe of peace and love. Thus does this mortal put on immortality, and this corruptible put on incorruption, until the saying is brought to pass that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”