Science and Health as Literature

The force and beauty of the literary diction and structure in the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker G. Eddy, can be rightly appreciated only as the spiritual import of the book is gained. Indeed, the reader who opens the book with the intention of criticising it solely as a literary production, begins at the wrong end and places himself in a false position. He may presently find that he is unable to estimate the literary beauties of the work, because his uncorrected materialistic tendency of thought twists and warps the spiritual meaning of the passages he is reading out of all semblance to that which the author actually intends to convey. It is a common experience among earnest students of Science and Health that passages which at first seemed to be obscure in phraseology grow clear and luminous as they themselves learn to take the steps from sense to Soul and are taught more of truth by actual experience along the battle-line of warfare against evil. The phraseology has not been changed, but the ability of the reader to understand has grown by demonstration. If, therefore, earnest students, who are already proving in a measure the truth of Mrs. Eddy's statements, encounter difficulties in the text of Science and Health, it is reasonable to expect that indifferent or possibly hostile critics may have the same experience. In expressing her ideas the author of Science and Health has naturally followed a certain literary order or arrangement, but if her ideas are not in the least understood this very order and arrangement may seem to the reader more like disorder and disarrangement, and the conclusions reached may appear to lack logic and true reason,—hence much mistaken criticism.

As a matter of practical experience it will be found that the great majority of the readers of Science and Health are searching for its spiritual import and are not greatly concerned at first in discovering beauties of literary style. They are hoping to receive some moral, mental, or physical benefit, or to learn the way by which Christianity may be made practical in the hour of temptation, sorrow, sickness, and trouble of all sorts. Almost all these readers are primarily seekers for good, and as such they receive the Scriptural promise and benediction that they "shall find." Nevertheless there may be sincere readers of the Christian Science text-book who are tempted at moments to cry out that its diction is not clear, and its structure wanting in coherence. It will be of service to them to be reminded that such criticism proceeds from the fact that their own preconceived notions are being upset, and the new leaven of right ideas is at work in their consciousness. The time comes for all true students when the Christian Science text-book not only unfolds its majestic statements to human apprehension with the precision and definiteness of actual science, but also with the beauty of holiness reflected in diction and structure.

"My yoke is easy."
June 10, 1905

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