All thoughtful people discover sooner or later that selfdenial in its broadest sense must be practised, if real and lasting progress is to be made in any direction, and some Christians have carried this form of self-discipline to great length, so far as outward indulgences are concerned, who clearly have not understood the Master's teaching on this subject. In the seventeenth chapter of Matthew we find an account of the healing of a lunatic and epileptic boy by Christ Jesus, after his disciples had failed to bring out this case. That the experience must have greatly impressed the disciples is evident, for we have, in addition to Matthew's account, further statements of it in Mark and Luke. These writers all tell us that the healing followed close upon Jesus' transfiguration, and Mark speaks of the unfavorable conditions under which the disciples had attempted to help the afflicted lad,—"a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them." Jesus' inquiry elicited the information that the case was chronic, dating back to infancy, and Mark characterizes the belief as a "foul spirit," which agrees with Luke's statement. After the marvelous healing of the boy, the disciples very naturally asked why they had failed, and in response Christ Jesus made a demand for faith in God which it were well for us to remember every day of our lives. He said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." This is followed by the significant words: "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting," a statement which has called forth much comment and inquiry on the part of Bible students, including Christian Scientists.

People ask what the fasting here referred to means. Does it mean abstinence from food on certain occasions, and also from worldly pleasures? St. Peter gives an illuminating answer to this query when he says, "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." His Master and ours had said that even a look, with an impure thought back of it, constituted adultery, and how could any one heal a physical ailment resulting from "foul" thought, unless he himself abstained from all such thought? It is very plain that he could not, and it is equally plain that without the kind of "prayer" which Jesus demanded, the "fasting" would be impossible. This prayer is indicated in the words of our revered Leader, who says, "In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness" (Science and Health, p. 15). If we do this "without ceasing," we shall abstain from all impurity of thought, word, and deed, also from doubt and uncertainty, and begin to express the faith which removes mountains and heals disease, whatever its name or nature.

July 20, 1912

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