In the days when Solomon had succeeded David on the...

The Christian Science Monitor

In the days when Solomon had succeeded David on the throne at Jerusalem, the new king, facing the problem of judging his people, that is, of ruling them with justice, prayed that he might receive an understanding heart so as to be able to discern between good and evil. The sense in which judgment is freely used, all through the Bible, of the power not to pass sentence on the evildoer but to be able to distinguish good from evil, is made perfectly clear here. Solomon saw the problem that was before him and he asked neither for long life nor for riches nor for revenge—the things commonly so dear to the eastern potentate. He asked, on the contrary, for that mental quality which he conceived would be of most use to his country—namely, ability to understand Principle. Now every human being stands, in his relation to humanity, in some degree in the position of Solomon. It is true that the ordinary individual is not called upon to rule kingdoms; but he finds himself in the midst of a world stricken with sin and disease, and if he is not to add to that sin and disease, but is to exercise his power to separate good from evil, in order that he may help to destroy the latter, he must, as Solomon saw, possess an understanding heart.

The average man is apt to imagine that he has no opportunity for exercising anything but the most infinitesimal influence in the world. The great power of influence, which, in his philosophy, is reserved for kings and statesmen, for great generals and great poets, is, he believes, entirely outside his reach. Yet the fact is that there is no limitation to his power of influence, except that placed upon it by his own sense of limitation. The whole history of the world is rich with men who have broken the limitations with which they were apparently surrounded. The greatest instance of all is, of course, Jesus of Nazareth, whose understanding of Principle enabled him to be the founder of the Christian religion. But Muhammad started upon his evangelistic career an elderly and unknown merchant with one servant as his follower; whilst centuries later Shakespeare trudged out of Stratford to hold horses at the doors of a London theater; and, again centuries later, a rail-splitter in North America became one of the greatest figures in the world's history.

There is, it is unnecessary to say, a tremendous gulf between the founder of Muhammadanism and the founder of Christianity, just as there is a tremendous gulf between the founder of Christianity and the great English poet and the great President of the United States. But there must have been, even in Muhammad, some sense of Principle, far in excess of that of the Arab world in which he found himself, to have enabled him to stir the savage Bedouin tribesmen into even as much recognition of something beyond the grim materiality of their everyday existence. Of all these men, including Solomon himself, Christ Jesus alone understood the scientific secret of Life, what Mrs. Eddy refers to when she writes on page 506 of Science and Health, "Understanding is a quality of God, a quality which separates Christian Science from supposition and makes Truth final." Yet Solomon in his own way was groping after this final truth when he prayed for an understanding heart, which was an understanding of Principle. At that moment in his career, the king, though in a glass very darkly, saw that neither many years, nor riches, nor revenge, were going to profit a man anything if he should lose his understanding of the fatherhood of Principle. That Solomon failed to live up to what he saw that day was owing to the fact that he was being guided not by a scientific understanding of Principle, but by a fitful gleam of spiritual intuition. That gleam came and went so fitfully that he kept wandering after the will-o'-the-wisp of materiality. One man and one alone, Jesus of Nazareth, ever understood Principle sufficiently not to be diverted from the straight and narrow road by any will-o'-the-wisp, and so to be able to demonstrate the full meaning of Principle in the overcoming of sin, disease, and death. This understanding was possible to him because he had gained it by overcoming the lusts of the flesh, just as through this understanding he was able to overcome these lusts.

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