The Seed and the Soil

From the Christian Science Sentinel, February 17, 1917, by

An earnest and successful practitioner put a question like this: How is it that in some cases there will be great improvement, and the patient will be a wonder to friends and acquaintances, and then sometimes he will apparently forget what has been gained, allow his enthusiasm to cease, or perhaps turn aside into worldly involvements, until it seems to the practitioner as if his work must begin all over again? Now the answer apparently involves some knowledge of husbandry, and consideration of the parable of the sower will make this clear.

The old theological teaching made the parable of the wheat and the tares refer to persons. A certain group of persons, those inside the fold of the creed believed in, were the wheat to be garnered; and the unbelievers not knowing the creed, or the disbelievers rejecting it, were the tares which were to be delivered to the fire. And yet the parable referred to one field, and to good seed lovingly sown in that field in sunny days; and then to a deed of darkness, when in the night the slinking enemy came and with subtle diabolism cast into the soil the evil seed. Clearly the illustration refers to human consciousness when unguarded, showing how that which is to man always “enemy” will inoculate thought with arguments adverse to the rule of the kingdom of heaven. On page 72 of the Christian Science text-book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy says, “Mortal belief (the material sense of life) and immortal Truth (the spiritual sense) are the tares and the wheat, which are not united by progress, but separated.”

With similar misunderstanding the beautiful parable of the sower has been interpreted as if it referred to persons, and many a sermon has been preached in which an attempt has been made to divide mankind into classes, three of which classes were slated for destruction, and only one was assured of eternal blessedness. Even the disciples to whom the parable was spoken failed to understand it; hence the Master’s remark, “Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?”

The faithful practitioner working kindly with mankind through a long course of years comes to know what Christ Jesus intended to convey to his disciples when he said, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.” And seemingly this is what he learns regarding human experiences: Generally the first mention of Christian Science is only half heard. It is precisely like the kernels of the grain that fall on the path beaten by the fall of many feet, the path that in the East was the dividing line between farms or fields in lieu of fences. Hardly has the sower with swinging stride passed onward when there is the whir of wings, and the “sparrows” come to glean. So is the first word gone from the mind, as if the fowls of the air had devoured it.

Then comes a time when the word is heard once again, and the hearer says, This is something new; let me take it up! So with the enthusiasm of the neophyte he becomes a patron of the new thing, and blossoms into a show of activity and argument. The parable describes the process: “Immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.” This is the case where as yet the seeker has no root in himself, “but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”

Yet again the word may come, and the intention be strong to hear and to heed it. The blessing of healing may be experienced, and complacently accepted as one of the comforts of life. A place is made for Christian Science in the plan of life, as in a garden overgrown with weeds one might make a place for another plant. Of the seed the parable says, “Some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.” This is the experience of any one of us when we take up Christian Science as a remedial convenience and try to make this new aid associate with former beliefs which are as the thorns and thistles of the earth. As Jesus so graphically said, “The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”

But at last to all mankind will come the final choice of the good part. Weary of excuses and subterfuge, disappointed in worldly wisdoms and philosophies, disillusioned regarding the high flown promises of the kingdoms of this world which have no fulfilment, men at last long for religion itself, for the real word of Truth. When it is then received, it is into the good ground, the innermost of faith and right desire. Think of the faith of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science when she could calmly say, “It is undoubtedly true that Christian Science is destined to become the one and the only religion and therapeutics on this planet” (Miscellany, p. 266); thus recognizing that the good seed should not fail of finding the good soil in human consciousness. Our parable says, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”

In his great work of declaring the word of Truth the practitioner finds comfort first from understanding the value and power of the Word. There is encouragement from that fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah all through, especially where the cycle of the rain is referred to, watering the earth, making bud and blossom appear, bringing back “seed to the sower, and bread to the eater;” then declaring, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

It is true enough, maybe, that many a worker thinks of hundreds of times when the word of Truth was spoken as he thought unavailingly, but there is comfort to be gained from the explanation given by Jesus. He said, “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.” Since the work of the practitioner is the daily proving of the futility and falsity of the claim of evil, he well knows that it is only a question of time, or work, or experience, but that inevitably the hearing ear and the understanding heart will appear. It is not any settled original sin, not a preordained destiny, that prevents men from hearing, but only a temporary influence of animal magnetism, which has no real intelligence or power and which is certain to disappear like the mist before the rising sun. Furthermore, all good work which is being done is proving ineffective the claim that evil has any power, and by multiplied cases of healing is establishing in human conditions the assurance that good is the only power.

The worker need not be discouraged over the apparent falling back of one who at first with joy received the word, for this hearer may be at the stage when any new thing is taken up as a fad, or a new fashion is followed regardless of its fitness. He grasps the truth by intellectual perception, agrees with it as once he may have agreed with a creed, but as yet he has no rooted sense of it. When trouble comes his enthusiasm dies out, his joy seems to wither. One has to wait on, with faith and patience, expecting to see salvation worked out. Perhaps later this same enthusiast returns and becomes an applicant for healing, perceiving now more possibilities of good in Christian Science than formerly. By the experience of healing a new vision of peace and harmony will be opened out. And yet it may be observed that some old views remain, and that the comfort of healing is taken with a selfish sense, as if it could be added to beliefs and desires of an opposite nature. If a man learned to like the Bible, and on his journeys should place it in his handbag along with a whisky flask, a box of cigars, and a package of drugs, thinking to find blessings from them all, he would be like those who think to retain the benefit of Christian Science while they through self-ignorance abide in old habits of self-righteousness, governing themselves by self-will instead of Principle, or who make continual place for the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.”

Have we not all heard and not heeded? Have we not perhaps experimented with Science as if it were a cult? Have we not tried to get its benefit, trying to patch an old garment with the new cloth? But at last, with deep satisfaction, have we not found the word of Truth to be veritable salvation, delivering us from the influences of the evil one, clearing our minds of condescending pride, saving us from the deceitfulness of materiality? Then it will be so with all mankind. The good seed will fall on good soil “and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”

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