Mary Baker Eddy
What a word. I am in awe before it! Over what worlds of worlds it hath range and is sovereign; the underived, the incomparable, the infinite all of good, the alone of God. By what strange perversity is the best the most abused, either as a quality or an entity? Mortals misrepresent and miscall love; name it what it is not, and doubt what it is. The so-called love nursing its victim for a prey, is like the butcher fattening the lamb to shed his blood. What is expressed by the lower propensities should be repressed by the sentiments. No word is more misconstrued, no sentiment less understood. Its divine significance is distorted into human qualities, in its human abandon it becomes jealousy and hate.
I shall never admit that love is something to be laid on a shelf, and taken down upon rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose leaf. I make great demands upon it, call for active witnesses of it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements from it; and unless these appear I cast aside the word as a counterfeit having not the ring of the true coin. It cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without power and presence. As a human quality, give me its glorious significance that means more than words: the tender unselfish deed done in secret, the silent ceaseless prayer, the heart that overflows, a veiled form stealing out of a side door, little feet tripping along the sidewalk, gentle hands hold of the door-knob that opens upon scenes of sickness and sorrow, and lightens the dark places of sin and death.
Patient, hopeful, true, uncompromising, love comes gently as the morning dew or summer rain, to meet the need of poor humanity, drop the supply and depart. It cannot waste a moment, it has work on hand, is never idle, always prompt, and you may know it is God’s evangel, not by the rustle of wings but the odor of divinity.
Sometimes this gentle evangel comes to burst the pent-up storm of error with one mighty thunder-bolt, and clears the moral atmosphere, foul with human exhalations. It is a born blessing at all times, either as a rebuke or benediction.
“Patient, hopeful, true, uncompromising, love comes gently as the morning dew or summer rain, to meet the need of poor humanity, drop the supply and depart.”
“It never faileth;” no circumstance, no foe to fate can make love loveless; suffering never diminishes it, but only renders it more profound; waiting never out-wearies, but wings its purpose and patience; watching makes it more adroit to freight the fleeting moments with treasures for some sad heart. Take from me everything else but leave the pleasure of the strife, the bliss of doing good; then richer than Crœsus, wiser than Solon, one can meet “the proud man’s scorn and poor man’s contumely” at peace; “a peace that passeth understanding.”
Love closes not our eyes to the distinction between good and bad men, it opens them wider; it blinds not just a sense of wrong, but quickens it, and stimulates a noble defense of right under all circumstances and upon all occasions.
The comforter of the afflicted, the protector of the oppressed, it is faithfulness in a friend, fidelity to a cause, public spirit in the magistrate, equity in the judge, moderation in the sovereign, loyalty in the subject : the sun that enlivens and cheers the abode of men, the soul of social happiness and the principle of Christian Science.
The airs of heaven blow o’er me:
A glory shines before me
Of what mankind shall be,—
Pure, generous, brave, and free.
A dream of man and woman,
Diviner still but human.
Solving the riddle old,
Shaping the Age of Gold.
Truth hoists the standard of freedom: it bears the elements of liberty; it hath engraven on its banner, “Slavery is abolished.” No power can withstand divine wisdom. What is this supposed power that opposes God? Whence cometh it? And what is it that would bind man with shackles of iron to sickness, sin and death? The power of God bringeth deliverance to the captive. And whatsoever enslaveth man is opposed to the divine government. There is no such power. For God is all-powerful, and any other supposed power is an error in acknowledgment that dishonors God. —Science and Health
[Editor’s Note: a modified, abbreviated version of the above article appears on page 249 of Miscellaneous Writings, and is included below for comparison purposes]
What a word. I am in awe before it! Over what worlds on worlds it hath range and is sovereign! the underived, the incomparable, the infinite All of good, the alone God, is Love.
By what strange perversity is the best become the most abused,—either as a quality or an entity? Mortals misrepresent and miscall affection; they make it what it is not, and doubt what it is. The so-called affection pursuing its victim is a butcher fattening the lamb to slay it. What the lower propensities express, should be repressed by the sentiments. No word is more misconstrued, no sentiment less understood. The divine significance of Love is distorted into human qualities, which in their human abandon become jealousy and hate.
“I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results.”
Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth.
(Originally published in the May, 1885 Christian Science Journal)
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