"Literature and languages"

After one has begun the study of Christian Science, one often finds, scattered here and there in the profusion of modern literature, sentences and phrases which seem to be in accord with the Principle of divine metaphysics. Yet in general reading of the work of those who have known nothing of Christian Science, such a one is usually bringing his own understanding of Principle to bear on what he reads, and thus finding a richer meaning than the various writers probably intended. In other words, one is prone to read into general literature the infinite significance of Principle, of which many modern writers have been largely ignorant. Not for that reason, however, should one necessarily desist from the consideration of what are regarded as the better books of the world. On this point Mrs. Eddy once wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 64), "Literature and languages, to a limited extent, are aids to a student of the Bible and of Christian Science."

In her own works, Mrs. Eddy alludes to and quotes from many well-known authors. With her keen discernment of what is essential, she selected her quotations and arranged them in the course of her explanations in such a way as to show the unfolding application of whatever has been rightly said. Her high estimate of true scholarship and literary ability was unmixed, however, with any approval of mere scholasticism or emotionalism. Simply because she refers to various writers, both ancient and modern, is no reason for any intensive study of these celebrities and their work. Just how much each one is to study of either languages or literature is for each one to decide for himself, in accord with individual discernment of Principle. The study of the ordinary mortal literature can serve only to give one a survey of mortal thoughts and feelings, unless one consistently replaces in it all every false sense of things with the true idea. Such a process of replacement requires, of course, unbounded alertness, whether one is perusing so-called masterpieces of literature or encountering the incidents of daily experience.

The one collection of literature which always deserves unremitting study is that group of books, in a variety of forms of prose and verse, which we call the Bible. Each one who feels the need of broadening study, and believes himself or herself at a loss as to just what course to pursue, will invariably be encouraged and invigorated by more diligent searching of the Scriptures themselves. For such a searching one does not require any elaborate critical apparatus. The average student should go to work as simply as possible, with a good, complete concordance, and Mrs. Eddy's works. The comparison of similar or even dissimilar passages gives one endless occupation, which is not merely intellectual but actually healing in its unfoldment. The arrangement of passages in the Lesson-Sermons published in The Christian Science Quarterly provides for such a comparison in a way for which no other method is a substitute. In addition to the thorough and orderly study of the Lesson-Sermons, each one will find immense profit in extensive consideration of all the literature included in the Bible.

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Awake Thou
October 23, 1920

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