The letter of the law of God, separated from its spirit, tends to demoralize mortals, and must be corrected by a diviner sense of liberty and light.
Mary Baker Eddy
Retrospection and Introspection (p. 81)
The One Substance
HAROLD EDWARDS SUTTON
From the September 14, 1946 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
* Photo – Courtesy of allposters.com
In response to the murmurings of the scribes and Pharisees against him (Luke 15:2), “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” the Master recounted three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. All stress the universal character of salvation, the joy that is felt over finding that which is lost, whether it be one of a hundred sheep, one of ten pieces of silver, or one of two sons.
The Master’s rebuke was addressed to two modes of thought —that of the Pharisees, a sect noted for its strict observance of rites, ceremonies, and traditions, the Hebrew name for which means “the separated ones,” and that of the scribes, or doctors of the law, both exemplifying fulfillment of the letter of the law without the spirit. On many occasions and in scathing terms our Master condemned these schools of thought, which were and are the antithesis of the Christ-spirit.
Jesus’ mission was for all people and all ages. Separation and division the letter of the law without the spirit, are enemies of spiritual progress today just as much as they were in the time of Jesus. Spirit, Life. Truth, Love, are indivisible and inseparable. They are synonymous with God, good, and good cannot be separated and divided, nor can man in God’s image and likeness be separated from good. God is substance, and God is infinite, indivisible, without beginning or end. Division implies a lessening; but how can infinity be diminished?
Materiality is subject to separation, division, loss, waste, and decay, but materiality is the opposite of substance, the opposite of Spirit. Under the false belief that matter is substance, one may be led into “a far country”; but as the falsity of this belief dawns upon consciousness, thought turns towards reality, hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and begins to deny the claim of matter to be substance. “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18) is something more than the turning point in the career of the prodigal. It finds its counterpart in the admonition of Mary Baker Eddy (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 393): “Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”
In the degree that one gains a true concept of substance, one finds that man has never been separated from it even in belief. Father and son are ever rejoicing in the consciousness of unity and wholeness. Man reflects and expresses the Father at all times and in every way, including that of spiritual abundance. Mankind, however, is prone to seek for “treasures upon earth,” and to regard “treasures in heaven” as a very nebulous asset; yet there is nothing more practical or more logical than Jesus’ statement (Matt. 6:33), “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, … and all these things shall be added unto you.” Christian Science shows that “treasures in heaven”—those spiritual truths which find a home in consciousness as the result of our seeking and striving—are available here and now for the maintenance of health and happiness and the direction of our affairs.
Sharing this treasure enriches all, impoverishes none. This is God’s law, omnipotent, ever active; there are no exceptions to its operation. Those who seek the protection of this law strive to fulfill its conditions, and from whatever “far country” human belief has led them, like the prodigal son they cry, “I will arise and go to my father.” The discarding of the manifold human beliefs which have enthralled us constitute the means through which we come to ourselves, begin to know something of man as God’s image and likeness, perfect as the Father. This perfection is progressively manifested in the activities of each individual, enabling him to prove that his true manhood, having “all,” knows no lack, no division, and no separation, but only God-constituted completeness unity, and wholeness. The assurance of divine Love is for all time. “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”