IF men but lived continuously in the attitude of humble, obedient alertness to the voice of God, what suffering would be avoided and what peace would be won, and how often, indeed, do we as Christian Scientists promise to do this, as we sing in the hymn written by our Leader. "I will listen for Thy voice" (Poems, p. 14). We find this ideal perfectly exemplified in the life of our Master, who said, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge." He knew that man has no intelligence apart from God, therefore he did not claim to originate anything, but rather to express what he heard from his Father.

Endeavoring to lift men's thoughts to perceive the great need of listening for their Father's voice, Jesus gave them the parable of the shepherd and the sheep. He said, "When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." How tenderly the Master tried to teach men through this parable one of the most important of life's lessons! Deep is the meaning of this metaphor! As we study it our thoughts turn for a moment to the shepherd gently leading the flock up the hill to the broad green pasture, and we can see how disastrous it would be for one of them to listen to a stranger who might attempt to call him away from the fold, for "the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" the health and the joy and the peace of the sheep. If one of the flock should listen and follow the stranger, he would soon see that the stranger's promise to show him greener pastures was false, and the sheep would find himself caught in a bog in the valley. How he would yearn for the shepherd and for the peace of the fold! After darkness and struggle he would extricate himself, and with the determination to be more faithful in listening and following, he would hasten back to the shepherd.

Many times a day the "stranger" (the belief of an intelligence, a will, a way apart from God) tries to call us from the fold and deafen our ears to the voice of the "good shepherd." The voice of the stranger would tempt through evil suggestions, such as self-pity, discouragement, mental apathy, disappointment, criticism, or through a sense of separation from the other sheep. It would make us assent to the suggestion that our work is toilsome, and thus cause us to forget and neglect our duty to God. (See Manual, Art. VIII, Sect. 6). Sometimes the stranger tries to lead us away from the shepherd through causing us to listen to praise; through self-condemnation or through self-righteousness it would dull and stupefy the senses and lead to the bog of discord the one who listens. Of old the prophet said, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

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September 16, 1911

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