It is usually difficult for beginners in Christian Science properly to appreciate the great courage and wisdom of our Leader in departing from established customs of public worship and giving to the Christian Science Church the Lesson-Sermons by which it has so greatly profited, and some may not value the Sermons themselves at their true worth for daily study and for Sunday service. Perhaps the following thoughts and conclusions of one who for years was in the habit of preaching sermons, but who for two years has been studying and observing the Christian Science order of service, may be helpful to others.

The Lesson-Sermons almost entirely remove the element of personality from the public worship of the Science churches, and this is a great gain in many ways. Instead of the thought being directed to the minister, as is usually the case, whether his work be good or bad, the thought is turned to God and to the truth set forth, very little being bestowed upon those who are reading the Lesson from the desk. This is of benefit religiously, as it removes the element of adulation or mental criticism of the speaker, and brings in the worship of God, Truth. Under personal leadership the success of a church, in its attendance, its finances, and its spiritual attainment, depends very largely on the popularity of the minister; but in the Science churches the Readers, unless they are markedly incompetent, command very little attention, and each church goes on its even way of growth and progress in all lines of its work. Again, among the churches of a given denomination, under the historic method there is sometimes a detrimental spirit of unrest. Smaller churches are tempted to be envious—in a sense—of the larger ones, which are able to hire pastors who are so much more eloquent and capable than their own. People are prone to say, "Oh, if we could only have such and such a man for a minister, how much better we would get along;" and the minister whom they do have, more or less senses these comparisons. In the Science churches all this is avoided. The smallest church in the country is as well satisfied with its Sunday service as the largest church in the city—at least so far as the sermon is concerned; and that this satisfaction is genuine is evidenced by the attendance and by the interest displayed in the smaller churches. No other churches, as a class, are so regularly attended by their adherents, and in none are the congregations so uniformly "wide-awake." One of the chief commendations of the Lesson-Sermon plan is that it is not only theoretically good, but that it works admirably in practice; though nine persons in ten would have said, in advance of a trial, that it would be a practical failure. Here the far-seeing wisdom of Mrs. Eddy is displayed.

There are, however, deeper reasons for our satisfaction with the Lesson-Sermons, reasons to be found in the nature of their subject-matter, which consists wholly of selections from the two greatest religious book of all time, the Bible, and the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The Bible, on the divine side, is the product of the Holy Spirit. On the human side it is the best product of a race specially gifted in the interpretation and application of the things of the Spirit. As the Egyptians were great in architecture, the Greeks in art and literature, the Romans in law and government, so the Jews were great in spiritual discernment and poetic sense. Out of all the religious writings of this race thus specially endowed, only the choicest works of the greatest prophets and apostles have come down to us in the Bible. That which was able to stand the test of time alone has endured.

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May 25, 1907

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