The Protestant church has always placed the doctrine of personal responsibility in the front of its teaching. The reason is obvious: the Protestant refuses to admit for one moment that any individual can in any way assume responsibility for his neighbor's thoughts or acts. Mrs. Eddy made her acceptance of this argument quite clear in the early days of her ministry. On page 5 of "Christian Healing" she writes, "This truth is, that we are to work out our own salvation, and to meet the responsibility of our own thoughts and acts; relying not on the person of God or the person of man to do our work for us, but on the apostle's rule, 'I will show thee my faith by my works.'" Nevertheless, the world is filled with the descendants of Uzzah, always ready to steady the ark, and quite unwarned by the fate of their prototype. These Uzzahites have not enough comprehension of the slenderness of their own grasp upon Truth not to fall victims to the suggestions of spiritual self-satisfaction, and fail totally to realize the fact that, as Christ Jesus warned them, "they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."

This working out of a man's own salvation demands all his time, consecration, and energy. If he is wise, therefore, he will test his spirituality by his ability to heal sickness and sin rather than by his success in inducing his neighbors to accept his opinions. The way to bring about the acceptance of those opinions is quite otherwise. It is, first, to live so closely in obedience to Principle that your opinions will cease to be opinions, so that instead you will reflect Principle; and then to give utterance to Truth so clearly and emphatically that your words will carry conviction with them. Then you will not have to argue with people to induce them to accept your opinion; they will be convinced of Truth through your words, and being at one with you in an understanding of Principle, will inevitably be found acting with you. Thus you will be relieved of the responsibility and saved from the doom of steadying the ark for your neighbors. Yet you will have met your responsibility to Principle by simply living so completely in accord with Principle as to reflect Truth. Such conduct illustrates the difference between Uzzah and Christ Jesus, between the mentality alert with fussiness and determined to get into the limelight, and the mentality which understood the protection afforded by "the secret place of the most High," and was so sure of the power of Truth as to be able to say, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

All of this illustrates in an interesting and curious way the nuance of words, and the extraordinary difficulty of expressing spiritual truths in human language. There is, that is to say, a personal responsibility, and yet there is no personal responsibility. There is a personal responsibility, and a very actual one, in living in accordance with Principle yourself, and a personal responsibility to your neighbors in becoming what Christ Jesus demanded when he said: "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." But here a man's personal responsibility ends in sanctifying himself, as Jesus demanded, for the sake of others, in order to show them the Christ. When it goes beyond this, when it undertakes to persuade its neighbor to pursue a certain course, when it argues with him, cajoles him, threatens him, all out of its knowledge of what is good for him, then it has assumed the garments of Uzzah, and the punishment of Uzzah, in some degree or another, awaits it. "Honesty," Mrs. Eddy writes, on page 453 of Science and Health, "is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help." It is dishonesty which, for personal motives, however speciously conceived, forces its advice upon its neighbors instead of letting "patience have her perfect work." Wiser than such the psalmist sang, "Be still, and know that I am God."

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Eyes and Ears
January 22, 1921

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