The Good of Evil

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I have often heard even Mental Scientists refer to the alleged illness of Mother Eddy with a certain covert satisfaction; yet, surely, if the Prophetess of Christian Science were to live forever, as some of her disciples expect, it would be the most signal instance of the power of the mind, the very thing that we are trying to show forth.

The Christian Scientists are our allies, not our foes, they are scaling the same fortress of materialism that we are scaling, but they are as yet, perhaps, on lower rungs of the ladder. No other power was ever sent by God so strong to betray and destroy the organized church as the Christian Science taught by Mrs. Eddy. We should not join hands against her followers nor belittle the work they do.

Nor, in any case, does it behoove us to throw stones at those who fail to attain their ideals. I have had large opportunities of observing Mental Scientists and I know hardly one who is entirely exempt from disease; while everybody knows that some enjoy practical immunity who are not mental scientists. That is as it ought to be. If we had entire immunity from disease, we would have disastrously proved that we are not of one flesh with our brethren, and if we claimed immunity from all the evils of our fellows it would go far to show that our power was merely a form of hypnotism. We should not wish to be separated from our brethren.

The way of the highest spiritual progress is not in separation from our fellows, by ceasing to be acquainted with grief. Rather the contrary—our divine development consists in learning to take part in sorrow.

"1, Buddha, that wept with all men's tears. Whose heart was broken with a whole world's woe."

We are to be superior to and not out of the struggle.

It is the difference between being taken out of the world and keeping from the evil; here lies the characteristic difference between our doctrine and that of our brethren, the Christian Scientists, we do not "deny the evil; we overcome evil with good. Ingersoll, that blind prophet, said that if he were to make the world he would make "health catching, instead of disease." We know that health is catching and that there could be no greater misfortune than that disease should not be catching too.

Hy disease and pain we have learned, and by disease and pain we will continue to learn—we thank God for pain of body, torture of the mind and agony of soul—pains that are never ceasing, for when they end for ourselves, they begin on account of others. The child scorches its fingers with a match, the young man ruins his body with a fast life, the old man burns his soul with gold, and we cannot but grieve and pray, "Deliver us from the evil." For it is not in the power of Omnipotence to deliver one alone. None can enter the Kingdom of Heaven by himself, for we are of one flesh and suffer for the sins of one another, just as much as for the sins of ourselves. For we share in the sins. Paul Tyner says "Even the daily reading of sensational accounts of crime and vice is like practicing the evil deeds." But how can anyone avoid reading at least the headlines of those things? How can anyone shut his eyes to all the oppressions that are done under the sun? We cannot—no, the more we grow, the more perfectly we live the life of love, the more we feel the troubles of others, sensational or otherwise.

"And all the woe, that moved him so.
That He gave that bitter cry.
The wild regrets and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I, for
He that lives more lives than one.
More deaths than one must die."

If Mental Science be used to deliver us from such sympathy, it will fail, in the end. Let us not be afraid to face the failures of Mental Science, Let us look at "things as they are"; our doctrine is true and where we find failures they are not failures of the truth, but of the application of it. There ought to be failures; the only surprising thing is that they are so few. For Mental Science power is a spiritual gift, for spiritual purposes, and if it be, as it so often is, perverted to lower purposes, it will fail. Let us not say only "My mind to me a kingdom is"; so it is, but if it is nothing more it is a kingdom of hell—to cultivate the power of the mind for the mere sake of its power over ourselves is self abuse; and that way madness lies.

What we look upon as the failures of Mental Science are really its greatest triumphs, for they show that its action results in good only when used for good. Here is one, perhaps, who has felt the power and is made whole and hugs himself for the great discovery he has made; but years go on, and age and disease again assert themselves. He refrains from medicines, yet he is disappointed, thinks that the power is limited or has worn out. The power is not limited—tlie limitation is in him and in his fellows. Using the power only for himself it fades, as it ought to fade. He has seen the Kingdom of Heaven and now God is teaching him. as he has taught us, slowly, through his pain, that for a little while we may ascend into the Mount of Olives, but that we must come down therefrom; that we also must be crucified, not for our own, but for the sins of our fellow men.

And we must be crucified willingly; for, if we are not', wr shall be crucified unwillingly. Says Thomas a Kempis: "As long as it is grievous for thee to suffer, and thou desirest to escape, so long shall thou be ill at ease, and the desire of escaping tribulation shall follow thee everywhere. For there is one God and every man is his Prophet, joyfully, if willingly, otherwise with pain." If we will not suffer for the sins of others, we shall suffer for our own. It is not the design of God, (which is the nature of things) that any man should go to heaven alone.

We cannot establish a heaven about ourselves even by the aid of mental science, while the rest of the world is in hell; "who are we that we should differ from the kindly race of men?"

We are living at the expense of one another, living on the very blood of one another; we are well clothed, well educated and well fed at the cost of the nakedness, the ignorance, and the hunger of our brethren; and under the economic condition of which we are a part we cannot help this.

Carrol D. Wright, a government statistician, says that the average product of the American worker is $1,360 a year, and his average wages $242 a year—you and I live upon the difference, everything that we buy is an act of involuntary theft, and no amount of "affirming the good" or "denying the evil" will release us from the evil while we live under these conditions.

There is a well-meaning society in New York, called the Consumers' League, which tries to better our relations to those upon whom we live, by refusing to buy sweat shop made goods and by patronizing only those stores that employ the higher priced help. If we refuse to buy sweat shop goods we will put the sweat shop workers entirely out of employment, so they will starve to death instead of merely being worked to death. For, suppose that there are a million cloaks made in New York City each year and that they cost, on an average, say ten dollars each. Now the people have only ten million dollars to spend on cloaks, and, if we pay higher wages so that the cloaks cost twenty dollars each, there will be only five hundred thousand cloaks sold and half the people will have to suffer cold for want of cloaks. That is all wc gain by putting the sweat shop workers out of employment. Suppose then, we resolve to live as simply as possible, so as to participate as little as may be, in the robbery of the poor, why, we simply leave so many the more out of a job. Or. to take it from the side of the producer: Some years ago Detroit set the poor people to cultivate the vacant lots, lent them seed and instruction and they became self-supporting. The example was followed in other cities, so that many thousands of the poor were employed, who would otherwise have been idle—and—the farmers complain that our charity patches, where cost of production did not control price and where the producers are near their market, was reducing the prices of farm produce and making the farmer's hard lot still harder.

If wc use our Mental Science to keep ourselves in a blissful state of oblivion to such horrors as these, we are like one who looks at the sky lest he should see the bodies upon which he steps and fills his nostrils with the scent of roses, to quench the smell of the blood that his feet squeeze out of the corpses upon which he treads.

If Mental Science is used for such a purpose as that it will fail and it ought to fail.

The power from Mental Science is a true miracle. Now, in the bible symbolism, for what was the power to work miracles given to the disciples? to violate the laws of Nature and escape the consequences ? No, indeed! That would be to defy the law. To relieve themselves from pain and suffering? Not at all—the very use of the powers entailed upon them all sorts of physical and mental suffering. To relieve others, a sort of inexhaustible charity box, a pocket hospital and peripatetic operating room? Not in the least.

Anyone who knows anything either about charity or about economics knows that the more charity we give the more poor we have; that the more hospitals we have the more sick there are; that the more people we operate upon the more people need to be operated upon.

Jesus was the master Mental Scientist; he wrought his miracles, not by violation of the laws of Nature, but in fulfillment of those laws. We understand that He wrought His cures of the body by the power of mind. Was He delivered from pain, whose face was more marred than any man's?

The use of Mental Science is not to escape from pain— that is mere selfishness—but to teach us to recognize the use of pain and thereby become superior to it. Mental Science is a means to communicate God. It is a means by which we may show men that there is a Kingdom of Heaven and thereby create in them the desire of entering into it. It is a Mount of Olives to which we may retreat that we may get strength for daily crucifixion, not where we may hide from it. It is the hill from whence cometh our strength, but upon which we may not abide until we can take all men up to it with ourselves.

Latent in every soul lies God, awaiting birth and development in that soul. The Mental Scientist is an accoucheur of souls. He prepares the environment, where the soul can have its growth. He "fashions the birth of robes for them, who are just born, being dead"; dead to the interests of self and therefore one with God and man, and entered already into the communion of the Holy Ghost.

  • Bolton Hall, "The Good of Evil," in International Metaphysical League, Proceedings of the 2d Annual Convention, Held at New York, N.Y., October 23-26, 1900 (Boston: International Metaphysical League, 1901).