Most Christian people are familiar with Paul's statement, "Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things;" to which he adds that those to whom he chiefly referred, the Roman soldiers with whom he had been so closely associated during his two years' imprisonment in the fortress at Caesarea, did this "to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible." He also tells us that there is no uncertainty as to the result of this spiritual striving. His further statement, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection," has been taken by some to mean his approval of physical training, but this is offset by his words to Timothy: "Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things." Paul also says that because of his "trust in the living God" he had to "suffer reproach," yet he does not hesitate to commend to others this trust in God, who is Spirit, and in Spiritual ways and means.

This question of mastery is surely a most important one to mankind, who, according to material sense, begin their days in entire helplessness, and, if they live to a great age, end them in a similar condition. Yet we read in the Bible that throughout all the ages God changes not, and that man reflects God. It is true that early in their lives mortals begin to reach out for the mastery of many things, and in a certain way to the control of their own bodies. Mrs. Eddy refers to this when she says (Science and Health, p. 199): "The feats of the gymnast prove that latent mental fears are subdued by him. The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible." Even a little child must overcome fear before he can learn to walk—his own fear, possibly, less than that of those who watch his first steps, and this is even more true as he takes his forward steps on life's long journey. The baby forgets his fear about falling when he attempts to walk, but until he knows why he should not fear anything, he merely transfers the fear to some other line of endeavor. So long as one believes that he is material and governed by material law, he is practically a prisoner to the belief that his body can control him and dictate to him as to what he may or may not do.

Now it is true that the soldiers from whose discipline Paul learned such valuable lessons did much in the way of controlling their own bodies, so that they could, as he tells us, endure hardship, but their sense of mastery undoubtedly meant to them the power to outstrip others or to crush them, even where these men were not foes but of their own race. They were therefore, whether, consciously or otherwise, using fear as a weapon which sooner or later would be turned against themselves. Here the one who would know and demonstrate the truth of being must part company with all material ways and means of gaining the mastery to which the Bible and Science and Health point.

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Among the Churches
September 20, 1913

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