Chastisement is a term little understood, even by Christian people who are familiar with the Scriptural references to it. Most people would admit that it is something they would gladly avoid, as they are accustomed to think of it only as suffering or deprivation; but Paul says that all are "partakers" of it, that is, all the law-begotten sons. Now it goes without saying that in their real, spiritual nature the children of God can neither sin nor suffer. St. John makes this very plain in his first epistle when he says, "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself." The apostle explains this by saying that the children of God love one another, and in so doing they love God and keep His commandments. It therefore helps us to understand the problem of chastisement when we see that it is the material sense which suffers, not God's child. St. Paul throws a wonderful light upon this subject when he says that its object is to make us "partakers of his [God's] holiness," and who would shrink from any process which may be needed in order to attain such a glorious result!

In her "Miscellaneous Writings," Mrs. Eddy speaks of "the sore travail of mortal mind" (p. 15) which is needed before the demands of the fleshly nature are silenced and Soul governs its own idea in perfect harmony. It cannot be denied that mortals cling to the material sense of things, even holding God to be the author of the material universe with all its sin and misery, and so the "wholesome chastisements of Love" (Science and Health, p. 323) are needed to dispel this illusion regarding God and man. The nearer men draw to God, the more do they suffer from the belief in materiality, until they are led to give it up and to seek at any price the joy and harmony of spiritual being.

It is well for us to understand that chastisement is not punishment or even suffering, though to mortal sense it may seem to be both. Paul admits this when he says that "no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous;" then he goes on to tell of "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" which results from the needed discipline, that is, when spiritual sense triumphs over the carnal nature. The student of Christian Science knows that bodily suffering is not due to the activity of God's law, but is one of the manifestations of the belief of sensation in matter. Mortals cling to this belief so long as it seems to give them pleasure, pursue it until it would seem that all their energies are exhausted in the maddening quest, then with bitterness of heart they blame God because He will not prolong for them the illusion of life in matter.

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An Opened Door
August 22, 1914

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