The Fourth Commandment

If people in general were asked which of the ten commandments they considered most important, there would probably be many different answers, though it is likely Christian Scientists would say that obedience to the first, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," would include obedience to all the others. On the other hand, a good many people would say that the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth form the basis of all civil law, in that they aim at the protection of the life, property, and reputation of mankind, as well as the prevention of immorality, which is known to be the worst scourge of the human race. There are, however, but few in this day and age who recognize the importance of the fourth commandment, which provides for the observance of the Sabbath day, nor is it likely that a truer sense of its meaning would be gained by going back to the rigid rules of a bygone period.

It needs no lengthy argument to show that the intent of this commandment, which begins, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy," is that mortals shall for one day out of seven be freed from the yoke of material servitude, with its false pains and pleasures, and this day be devoted to spiritual things. Christian Science places the utmost emphasis upon the fact that man is spiritual, both primarily and ultimately, but mankind have so forgotten this truth that they are called to "remember" it for one whole day out of seven. Mortals have perhaps concerned themselves most with its prohibitions as to labor, and have largely overlooked the statement that this day belongs to God, and that it should be given to the contemplation of the perfect activity of the divine Mind, who "spake, and it was done," creation springing from the divine mandate, not from material toil.

Mrs. Eddy says of the divine activity, "God rests in action. ... No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science" (Science and Health, p. 519). This great truth has almost been lost sight of by humanity, and so the Sabbath comes as a gentle invitation from divine Love to cease from our toilsome and imperfect sense of work and ponder awhile God's ways of working. Here it should be said that this offers no excuse for indolence, which Christ Jesus rebuked when he said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." He also said that we must be perfect because our heavenly Father is perfect, and perfection in all we think and do is the unvarying demand of God's law every day of the year. Most mortals rob themselves to a large extent of the unspeakable privilege of the Sabbath in failing to "keep it holy" by the spiritualization of all thought and effort, with divine perfection held ever in view. We have been taught that a well-spent Sabbath meant six other days made better thereby, and this cannot be gainsaid; but it is equally true that six days well spent, with the highest ideal of life and work loyally obeyed, will bring a glorious Sabbath of spiritual contemplation and unfoldment, linking one period to another of higher achievement.

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Among the Churches
April 4, 1914

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