In Science and Health we find this clear-cut statement: "In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless," to which Mrs. Eddy adds, "The hour has struck when proof and demonstration, instead of opinion and dogma, are summoned to the support of Christianity" (pp. 341, 342). There are few students of religious history who would deny that the introduction of "mere opinion" was responsible for the divisions which came at an early date into the Christian church, and that as dogmas multiplied demonstrations of Truth's power decreased. We are told that at one time Peter and John urged upon the Master their personal opinion that a certain man who was doing some healing work should be forbidden this privilege, because, they said, "he followeth not with us," and that Jesus rejected their plea, evidently because he discerned sincerity on the part of the one whose work was challenged. We must by no means conclude, however, that this gave license to every aspirant to the healing work to claim discipleship. Thus we find that later, Peter with perfect propriety rebuked Simon the sorcerer, and required of him repentance as a preliminary to his escape from the bondage of mortal belief.

At this point it is highly important to see that each step must be taken under divine guidance, and that one rule, however good, is not necessarily applicable in every case. Spiritual discernment is needed more than aught else, and if we seek this with true diligence, divine guidance will never be denied us, and it is as far above personal opinion "as the heavens are higher than the earth." It is true that Jesus counseled his students not to give "that which is holy unto the dogs,"—which undoubtedly meant the unprepared thought. Thus we read in the tenth chapter of Acts of Peter's hesitation about responding to the call of Cornelius, who was reaching out for the truth. We are told, however, that divine Mind, Spirit, directed Peter unmistakably in going, even as Cornelius had been directed to send for him. Even the house where Peter lodged was made known to Cornelius, and how gladly this devout man must have listened when Peter told how Jesus "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." It was "proof and demonstration," not "mere opinion," that Peter had to offer, and it is simply thrilling to read that, as he was speaking, "the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word."

We must of course learn to discriminate wisely between right and wrong, truth and error, but this is seldom done by those who are ready to voice personal opinion or to listen to it. It should be noted that both Cornelius and Peter were fasting when this wonderful spiritual illumination came to them, which surely means more than abstinence from food. It undoubtedly means that their thought was emptied of material desires and opinions, an thus were they ready to be filled with the things of Spirit. In this case, as in every other, the demonstration consists in a willingness to get rid of error of every sort,—to be led,—and the proof follows in the healing which is inseparable from spiritual illumination. Much help is sure to be gained in studying carefully Mrs. Eddy's words on page 347 of "Miscellaneous Writings," where she shows the need of turning away from personal opinion and earnestly seeking divine guidance. This does not mean that one should never speak to others on vital questions, or listen to what they have to say, but it does mean that we should never let finite sense come between us and divine wisdom. Peter sagely says, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;" or, as we might express it in terms of Christian Science, let one gain for himself a clear sense of the demands of Principle in his every experience, and let him voice this when the right opportunity offers, whether in public or private. Then he must be willing to wait on God, and until others are ready to see the truth as he sees it, in case he is nearer right in his views than are the others concerned.

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September 21, 1912

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