Who has not heard from childhood the familiar phrase, "A thorn in the flesh"? and does it not call up a memory picture of some good man (or woman) carrying, perchance, for many years, a burden of bodily suffering which he was ever fastening upon himself with the thought that his heavenly Father had sent, or was at least permitting, it for some wise purpose? To invest it with further sacred authority, did we not often hear some expression like this, "It is my 'thorn in the flesh.' Paul was a better Christian than I, but he had it to bear." Though to be counted a fellow sufferer with Paul may invest the case with somewhat of a religious halo, have we ever stopped to ask ourselves what right we have to do this, and, further, where Paul's thorn in the flesh really originated?

In his second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul says, "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure." How clearly may we see in this statement that Paul does not in the remotest sense imply that God had sent this thorn. Could divine Love impart to His child aught which was the opposite of His own nature? No! Discord of every nature has but one source, and Paul recognized this when he declared that his affliction was a messenger of Satan. Satan, who is defined as the "adversary" of man; "the prince of darkness," is shown in the glorious light of Christian Science to be only another name for a belief in a selfhood apart from God.

Is not this belief of selfhood, which Paul (to make more emphatic) repeats in the above verse, that is in danger of being exalted above measure through the abundance of the wonderful revelations he has received? Is it not also this false and subtle claim of a selfhood apart from God which he designates as "the messenger of Satan"? Under how many guises does this selfhood appear! In Paul's case, it may have been pride, or as his words imply, selfcase, exaltation which buffeted him, and planted the thorn in his flesh; for evil, in whatever guise it may appear, can only buffet itself and is self-destructive; as we read in our text-book, "The only power of evil is to destroy itself" (Science and Health, p. 186). Once this messenger is uncovered in the light of Truth, it is easy to classify the message, for our text-book also teaches that "a false belief is both the tempter and the tempted, the sin and the sinner, the disease and its cause" (Science and Health, p. 393).

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November 25, 1911

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