THE STUDY OF OUR TEXT-BOOK

Most people read a great deal, probably far too much, even of good literature, for there is a limit to the capacity of our mental digestion: but how many read with the thought of study? Without study the best books may be useless. We may read them, may for the moment be impressed by their literary charm, their moral precepts, their practical admonitions, or their wealth of information; but this impression may be so evanescent as to have vanished in a few hours. To study, however; that is a very different thing. What do we mean by study? According to the dictionary definition it is to bestow pains upon anything: to apply the mind to it; to examine closely in order to learn thoroughly; to form and arrange by thought; to con over. If we have really studied a book in this way we know something about it—its purpose, its teaching, the mentality of the author. If we have merely read it, in the common acceptance of that term, we know very little, if anything, about it. Therein is all the difference between using precious hours and wasting them.

Now let us apply this to that book which is indeed a "Key to the Scriptures." Those who have studied Science and Health the most, love it the most and are best able to appreciate it. They have followed the advice of her who wrote it; they have studied thoroughly the letter and imbibed the spirit (see p. 495), and their reward has been in proportion to their fidelity to this wise counsel. So far as the individual is concerned, any book is just as good as he makes it, and no more so. We may remember how delightfully Ruskin in his "Sesame and Lilies" talks on this subject. Some of his maxims might well be remembered and practised as we take up our text-book. "Be sure," he says, "you go to the author to get his meaning; not to find yours. Judge it afterward if you think yourself qualified to do so, but ascertain it first." How many of us did this when we began the study of Christian Science? How many are doing to-day what some of us did—criticizing and condemning the book all the time that we were reading it? We virtually started our examination into this profoundest of all subjects with the assumption that we knew more about it than did she to whom a revelation had been made, and who through years of communion with God, and patient toil and research, had come to that clear and certain knowledge of Truth which enabled her to give it, in language that can be understood by all, to an expectant and spiritually hungry world. Is it surprising that at first the book yielded nothing to us? We wanted to get our meaning into it, not the author's. We came to it preconceived and traditional theological notions, and with what we believed to be right interpretations of Scripture, and because we found that the teachings of the book did not harmonize with these, we rebelled.

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