What is the real meaning of country? If you look the...

The Christian Science Monitor

What is the real meaning of country? If you look the word up in a dictionary, you will discover that it is a region or a state, or a rural as opposed to an urban district. You will find, in short, that it is almost anything except what it really is, and this for the simple reason that every definition is based on the reality of matter, and, at that, matter in the form of the earth, earthy. But if matter is unreal, and that is the teaching of the New Testament, if the reality of all things is contained in the divine Mind, and that too is the teaching of the New Testament, then the true definition of country is to be sought not in the dictionaries but in the New Testament, and may be found in that wonderful passage in the letter to the Hebrews, which closes with the words, "But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."

Now let us, for a moment, turn from the Christian to the pagan, from Jerusalem to Rome, to the wisdom of a man who was passing up and down these Roman streets when Paul was learning his trade in Tarsus. Seneca was a materialist, like all Romans, and, like all Romans, for that very reason, not overburdened with moral scruples; but he possessed the Roman breadth of mind, which found expression in the Roman law and the Pax Romana. Therefore, about the time the letter to the Hebrews was being composed, he was writing to the Roman world, "Non sum mei angulo natus; patria mea totus hic est mundus," which being translated means, "I am not born for a corner of the world; the whole world is my country." If, then, the pagan materialist could see thus far, and Seneca saw many things clearly, whether he lived up to them or not, what should be expected from the man who has accepted the philosophy of the New Testament, "But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly"?

Seneca would have smiled, like Lucian after him, at the philosophy of Jerusalem. The world was very real to him, and very pleasant, in his Roman villa. But eighteen hundred years have passed since then, years of slow awakening from the Roman sleep in the senses, and so, to-day, kick as the world may against the pricks, the philosophy of Jerusalem is steadily triumphing, and the world becomes daily more willing to accept the teaching of Christian Science, as expressed by Mrs. Eddy on page 468 of Science and Health, "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." What this means is, of course, perfectly simple. It means that everything that really exists, exists not as a material phenomenon but as an image in divine Mind. A man's country, then, is not Rome nor Jerusalem; it is the mental realm in which he dwells. The ancient Hebrew, living by the sword and dying by the sword, looked to matter to help him, and builded his cities of refuge, from the frontiers of Edom to Jacob's oak. But the psalmist, wiser than he, wrote, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.