Government by Principle

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So much of human nature has for so long been governed by all the conflicting elements of the anarchy called self, that government by Principle lies, like an undiscovered country, far beyond the borders of finite comprehension. The mental standard and moral codes of the civilized world hold much that approximates a high and selfless order of living, yet even this fruit of righteous effort may spring from right desire rather than from an enlightened understanding of the relation of God’s man to his governing Principle, God. To manifest at each moment of experience the government of that divine Principle from which all good springs, is a task beyond the grasp or the performance of the unaided human mind. Only as the Mind which was manifest in Christ Jesus dislodges the thought-habits of the mortal, only as the nature of self withdraws before the advancing revelation of divine nature, does the understanding of man’s reflection of God become apparent; and only through the mental process which Christian Science terms reflection, can government by Principle be intelligently demonstrated in human affairs.

The carnal mind grasps nothing of the meaning of reflection. The divine Mind knows nothing else than its own reflection. To set forth in every thought, word, and deed the will of that divine Mind which orders the harmony of the universe, is to reflect the divine nature. Carnal tendencies of thought can no more do this than can darkness radiate light. Nothing less than that perfect thinking which Christendom knows as the Christ-mind, the “Son,” can so faithfully pattern its thought-processes after the divine as to be a reflection thereof. When Jesus said, “Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God;” and again, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he does, these also doeth the Son likewise.” He uncovered the inadequacy of the supposedly good human nature, and revealed the one and only entity which is able to do the will of the Father,—the reflected likeness and image of God, never born of Adam, but eternally springing into freshness and fairness of being because one with God, because the son of God.

“Only as the nature of self withdraws before the advancing revelation of divine nature, does the understanding of man’s reflection of God become apparent.”

Blanche Hersey Hogue

Jesus further declares, “For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth:…I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” The divine fatherhood, pouring through the crystal-clear consciousness of the Son the glory of righteousness upon a sin-clamed world! The source of all bounty and blessing, operating through a thought-modus which radiates all it receives,—humanity self-immolated, that divinity may be All-in-all! Father and Son, origin and reflection of being, Principle and its obedient idea,—this conjunction in immortal relationship shows forth in the world’s redemption that holy example of government by Principle which may be manifest in the minutiae of individual affairs to the entire undoing of every suggestion of a life apart from God.

Government by Principle must supplant all human ideals of government, since right and wrong cannot abide together. It may be argued that the human will can be wisely and well directed, and frequently experience points to this as true, for this will may be so harmless in some of its intentions as to accomplish no ill. Inasmuch, however, as its origin and impulse are outside the spiritual thought-process which Mrs. Eddy calls reflection, it is in danger of being swayed by any breeze of self-interest or bent to any purpose of wayward desire. The integrity in the conduct of men which today cheers the stout-hearted of earth, springs not from the direction of the personal will, but from the surrender of such will to divine law and order. Gleams of reflection pierce experience here and there, in the lives of the great and the good, in the lives of the unfortunate and the outcast; and such shafts of light foretell the glory which will illumine being when the will of the flesh shall have given up its boast, and heaven’s shining shall have come down to earth. Only complete abandonment, however, of all selfish instinct can bring to pass this full wonder of regeneration and transformation.

Even the best of human will sometimes serves to obstruct the law of God, for it instinctively judges, prophesies, decides, fears, and dominates, all from a personal standpoint, and to this it adds pride in its own mental processes. Though the results of its action may be outwardly coincident with the good received from self-surrender in any given experience, yet the one is human belief, the other the “fruit of the Spirit.” The one lures the mortal toward greater self-confidence, the other liberates him from self’s opinions and builds confidence in divine law. The one inflates personal sense, the other liberates him from self’s opinions and builds confidence in divine law. The one inflates personal sense, the other exalts God. When personal will is no longer confused with that God-given firmness of purpose which resists temptation, when mere human weakness poses no more as spirituality, when the chaos of minds many ceases to operate in the name of Principle, this advancing honesty of analytical thought will open the way for Principle’s government actually to be demonstrated, and the real relationship of human thinking to the divine Mind will prove itself to be the faithful reflection of absolute Truth,—truly an obedient son, knowing and doing and enjoying the will of an infinite Father.

Government by Principle, individually expressed, brings a change “exceeding great,” through the individual, into the affairs of the home and the communal life. The Christian Scientist who understands somewhat the action of spiritualized right thinking, finds constant opportunity for the demonstration of it in all the relationships of the social and the business life, and aside from these activities he is especially called upon to prove Principle’s government in his effort to establish the right understanding of “church” in the earth. Mortals have congregated in groups, separated by variances in belief, to worship God together according to their highest sense of good, and these gatherings, with the doctrines and customs pertaining thereto, have been called churches.

The Christian Scientists, with their first perception of divine Principle, come from these varying forms of belief into a common knowledge of the spiritual meaning of “church” (as defined in Science and Health, p. 583), and their entrance into membership with the Church of Christ, Scientist, means that they have undertaken together to demonstrate a more impersonal position than Christendom has yet experienced relative to church government. An entirely new outlook is demanded of the Christian Scientist, in his relation to the whole. Deference to personal view-points, because of the person setting them forth, has no place in impersonal church government, for under the present necessities of human nature the voice of the majority is the only adequate vehicle for carrying into action the purposes of the whole group, and this majority must be left, so far as possible, unmolded and unswayed by personal influence, that it may directly reflect and make manifest the divine will.

No one church-member is wise enough or good enough to decide for all. An uninfluenced majority, in a mental attitude of prayer, is the open door through which the way of God may find entrance, and if this majority is to be thus depended upon, it must be first protected, then trusted. It is the work of the church-member, through his prayers and through his own right relation to the church, to see that the majority vote is so protected as to be at all times and under all circumstances subservient to the will of God. The right mental action of each member will release the impulse of the majority from all the subtle and intricate currents of ambition, favoritism, prejudice, lethargy, or kindred motives which would move it, and lift it beyond the manipulation of personal desire or fear, that it may be used of God; for each member, standing as a guardian over his own thinking, that no hidden error may make use of him, sets free the church in that measure. The one who does this right thinking will have laid his own outlining of plans and policies at the feet of Christ, that he may hear the voice of a wisdom higher than anything the human mind has taught him. Thus, and thus only, does his thinking safeguard the fold.

Much that protects the work of The Mother Church and the branch churches has been provided through the Leader of the Christian Science movement, but beyond this only the divine ruling can bring about that which embraces the highest and best for all. That branch church wherein prevails the least human will is the church wherein the “fruit of the Spirit” most clearly abides and abounds. Given a body of Christians dominated by conflicting personal viewpoints, and contending for them, even in the name of good, and there ensues a possibility of a majority swayed and stampeded by all the elements of sense and self. Such an assembly as this is not the Church of Christ. An aggregation of Christians, however, animated by the desire to see the will of God prevail at any cost to self, a church wherein the individuals are ready to set aside their personal preferences to speak with freedom concerning their highest sense of right, yet to retain a mind ready for enlightenment and change, stands with staff in hand, ready to walk with God as God’s way is made clear. In the measure that this right attitude is maintained, will the majority broaden to enfold the entire body, and the day will come when Christian Scientists will share the Pentecostal baptism of the disciples of old, because they are of one mind, in one place.

The problem of democracy enters largely into the questions of church government. The ideal of democracy makes a universal appeal, but because of the tyranny of human nature on the one hand and weakness and suspicion on the other, perfect democracy has never yet been achieved on the earth in any relationships among men. Democracy, like any other human condition, may be abused by the action of human influence, and Christian Science calls its followers to a demonstration of government by the Mind of Christ which will make the democratic spirit a wise and safe channel for the incoming of good. Democracy as a method in the hands of the undisciplined and unpurified, means pandemonium. Democracy among the God-governed is the millennial ideal,—heaven come down to earth. The democracy of mob-rule means a good method misused by evil passions. The democracy wherein each man uses his freedom of speech and action for the unselfish betterment of the whole, is a good method harnessed to the service of the law of God.

The evil in the hearts of mortals clamors for democracy that it may escape restraint, while the law of God must seek action through democracy, in all communal interests, to establish the stately operations of divine Mind in human affairs. So the false uses of democracy must disappear, as Principle’s government of the individual appears. The cry for democracy which is itself self-will, or a personal revolt against tyranny, will subside as the action of Christian Science brings to light the true democracy which preserves individual rights as only the law of Love can. In this way, Christian Science wrests democratic methods from the abuses of the human mind, and protects them for the uses of God.

The Christian Science congregations, in their pilgrimage from the tumult of human belief to the heaven of good understood and demonstrated, are guided by a Leader who sees, from her spiritual watch-tower, the dangers of personal tyranny and also the dangers of premature democracy. The provisions of the Manual of The Mother Church, in consequence, secure inspired protection against both these elements of human nature. The voice of God speaks to this age as it did to the Israelites of old through Moses, for there is today a prophet who can see the spiritual fact of existence, and guide the Egypt-bound thereto. The law and order of the Church of Christ, Scientist, as established by this twentieth-century Leader, is so adjusted to the human need that its modus operandi, democratic action, is protected from human manipulation by wise rules and by-laws, yet at the same time remains free for government by Principle to possess and use it.

“The government exercised by Principle penetrates into every hidden nook of human thinking”

Mrs. Eddy’s care for the church of her understanding saves the democracy from undertaking that to which it has not risen, while providing full scope for democracy’s activities in all matters which lie within its present range. The highest and finest democracy may often find its expression in yielding to the wisdom of the Leader, in upholding and trusting officers and committees delegated for specific work, in subordinating personal opinion to the decision of the whole. Such a spirit indicates a surrender of self-will which makes the individual possessing it safe and helpful in his efforts, a wise and worthy steward in God’s household. While the organization of Christian Science leaves each member thereof free in all the matters of his own life, it restrains him enough in the relationships of his church life to bring the discipline which makes for the control and the abnegation of all opinion, tyranny, criticism, and self-will. This educational experience in the church militant fits thought, individually and collectively, for the manifestation of the church triumphant, subduing as it does the chaos and cross-fire of wills many, and revealing the abiding peace of the will of God understood, loved, and obeyed.

The government exercised by Principle penetrates into every hidden nook of human thinking, scours out every unclean corner of the heart of self, turns upside down and inside out many cherished notions and customs, renovates habits, revolutionizes practices, flings out into the sunshine of righteousness the time-honored and moth-eaten and rust-corrupted, that all experience may be sweetened and uplifted, delivered from the crumbling elements of evil and materiality, and brought into accord with that which is spiritually true and enduring. Principle, holding within itself the height, breadth, depth, and boundless tenderness of infinity,—ever-operative, all-inclusive, all-wise, all-loving,—enfolds all creation in an unbroken harmony which awaits the discovery of awakening thought, and to which the Love-crowned Mind of Christ calls all the bound and burdened of earth. Government by Principle, set starlike in human meekness, exposes the vain attempts of the mortal to usurp God’s government, leads thought into an understanding of fidelity to Christ, and provides for the Christian peace in his own heart, harmony in his relationships with his fellow-men, and finally health in his bodily functions, that God may be glorified, today, on earth. Of such kind is the healing offered by Christian Science.

(Originally published in September, 1909 Christian Science Journal)

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