On several occasions our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, has called attention to the new paragraph in Science and Health (p. 442), which reads as follows: "Christian Scientists, be a law to yourselves that mental malpractice cannot harm you either when asleep or when awake." Recently, one not instructed in Christian Science (but assuming to be) undertook to discuss it in public, before a large audience; this particular paragraph being specially singled out and held up to ridicule. This circumstance came to the writer's notice, and led to a careful study of the paragraph which may be of interest to others.

In studying the lines the first thing which the student will note is that it is addressed to Christian Scientists, and that it is admonitory; in other words, it is a message from our Leader, which to loyal Christian Scientists is equivalent to a command, in that it enjoins upon us that we should do something. Now what is it we are to do? We are to "Be a law" to ourselves. What does this mean? The sense of the verb "to be" is, according to Webster, "To be fixed, to exist; to have a real state, or existence, for a longer or shorter time." The word "law," is here used in the sense defined by Webster as "the invariable tendency or determination of species toward a particular form with definite properties." To be a law to ourselves, therefore, means simply to remain fixed, to exist, to continue, with an unvarying tendency or determination toward a particular form with definite properties. It may here be asked, What particular form? what properties? To understand this we must get back to our Leader's reasons for sending us this message. The reason why she sends any message to Christian Scientists is because she sees their need of it. She knows that no harm can come to Christian Scientists, either sleeping or waking, if they maintain an alert and obedient attitude toward divine law.

What is mental practice? Mental practice, is thinking; in other words, taking note of the thoughts or ideas manifested to consciousness. "Mal" is a prefix of Latin origin, meaning "bad;" therefore malpractice is bad practice. So "mental malpractice" is the thinking of bad thoughts, expressing bad beliefs. Now, if thinking bad thoughts and expressing bad beliefs is harmful both waking and sleeping, who can doubt that a law which would keep such thoughts and beliefs out of consciousness would be of great benefit.

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May 28, 1910

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