"I press toward the mark"

There is a tendency at times, with some Christian Scientists, in their honest desire to make known what great things Truth has done for them, to hark back too persistently to the past, to recall and rehearse with painstaking detail the sufferings endured or the trails undergone, until quite unawares both narrator and listener have etched upon their consciousness as a vivid reality thoughts which are as an open door inviting the return of the illusion of sickness or sin. Gratitude for deliverance from the thraldom of evil is right, but there is need for care lest unwittingly too much power is ascribed to that which in the light of the omnipotence of good cannot be otherwise than an illusion, and thereby what has been admitted to thought manifests itself in the body. Our Leader's wise foresight safeguarded public testimony-giving by excluding "a description of symptoms or of suffering" (Manual, Art. VIII, Sect. 24), and obedience to the spirit of this by-law should put us on guard against its violation in personal conversation.

The path to the goal in Christian Science leads ever onward, and he progresses most rapidly who casts from him the outgrown habits and beliefs of an inglorious and painful past and is clothed upon with new hopes and aspirations that strengthen and encourage him against the seen and unseen obstacles with which error would retard his progress. He knows that he cannot win freedom if he is constantly retracing his steps to seek out and display the bonds from which he has been delivered. Rather does he regard every victory over temptation as a mile-stone to mark his advancement, a fresh occasion for gratitude and rejoicing. Even so desire may outstrip achievement, and because he has fallen so far short of the perfection for which he is striving, he may magnify his seeming failure until, disheartened and discouraged, he drops out of the race.

In his letter to the Philippians the apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of his personal experience that is comforting in its very humanity. In his zeal to atone for past errors he had given earnest heed to the demand that the followers of the Master be perfect even as the Father is perfect, and apparently this was the task to which he had addressed himself. There had been mistakes doubtless, failures to realize the truth at all times; but he held to the course marked out for himself, and there is inspiration and a touching humility as well in his confession of faith: "I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark." Paul had the forward vision. The trials and disappointments of the past were behind him; they had ceased to be, so far as he was concerned. With his face set toward the goal, he pressed on, until he had indeed "apprehended," had laid hold on the truth of being, and in "the valley of the shadow of death" could triumphantly declare: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."

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"Out of the depths"
November 6, 1915

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