The word "martyr" is from the Greek, and means primarily a witness. No other significance attached to it at first. It was used to signify any kind of testimony, whether of good or of evil. It was used in connection with the false witness brought against Jesus at his trial, and it is also used of Jesus himself in Revelation. It is employed in translation, instead of the usual word "witness," only three times in the New Testament, and in each case it carries with it the additional significance that the witness died for his testimony, and so it came about that this meaning of a violent death as the result of Christian testimony became attached to the word.

In time a kind of mock heroic meaning was added to the word, and its usage became associated with any kind of egotistical testimony which brought abuse or suffering in its train. "Do not make a martye of yourself" is advice that one may hear given where one person believes another to be either indulging in self-pity or making an appeal for sympathy on the ground of some imagined grievance. "The selfish röle of a martyr," writes Mrs. Eddy, "is the shift of a dishonest mind, nothing short of self-seeking; and real suffering would stop the farce" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 288).

The true meaning of the word in its older sense is beautifully expressed in Science and Health (p. 37), in which martyrs are characterized as "earth's luminaries, which serve to cleanse and rarefy the atmosphere of material sense and to permeate humanity with purer ideals." This passage, which preserves the original meaning, contrasts strongly with the thought of suffering and selfishness which we have noted as being a not unusual emphasis attaching to the word today. It is perhaps because of this latter that one would not aspire today to be known as a martyr, and because in the light of Christian Science we seek after neither suffering nor calumny, though we recognize that neither is to be feared. We do not believe in the necessity for these things any more than the gardener believes in the necessity for weeds; whereas we do believe that Life, Truth, and Love have a scientific and indestructible relation to the human consciousness, and we also believe in the necessity of studying and practising Christian Science in order that this relationship may be proved in every walk of life.

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All That the Father Hath
June 27, 1914

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