The True Incentive

The influence of Christian Science upon the thinking of to-day has produced a revolutionary reaction concerning the controlling motives in human existence that is a saving grace to those who follow its divine leadings. Prior to the advent of Christian Science, the tendency of mortal mind was to regard evil as a great and powerful enemy, whose subtle suggestions were to be resisted, either for fear of the evil consequences attending their indulgence, or in a forlorn hope of material reward for such successful resistance. It was not so many years ago that a popular debate had for its subject the following: Which is the greater incentive to action, the fear of punishment or the hope of reward? Many and varied were the heated arguments advanced by each debater, urging the relative powers of the spur whose supremacy he had elected to advocate. Through the study of Christian Science we find that these so-called motives are the ignes fatui, or false influences, which have ever betrayed human action into ignoble ends. And one of the first truths revealed to our astonished thought is the unreality of evil; that it does not exist to disturb or attract a man, binding upon him untold sorrows and suffering. At most it is a false belief to be destroyed by our awakening to its nothingness, through spiritual understanding. "Evil is nothing, no thing, mind, nor power." So writes Mrs. Eddy on page 330 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and continues, "As manifested by mankind it stands for a lie, nothing claiming to be something,—for lust, dishonesty, selfishness, envy, hypocrisy, slander, hate, theft, adultery, murder, dementia, insanity, inanity, devil, hell, with all the etceteras that word includes."

Generations of combatants have, however, waged woeful warfare against these evil beliefs, and have either capitulated to error or made show of resistance, under the false stimulus of a pitiable hope or of a dread fear of punishment, while inwardly regretting the law, "Thou shalt not." This abstinence amounts to but small gain in the right direction. Of such a combatant, resisting on a human basis, we read on page 322 of Science and Health, "A man who likes to do wrong—finding pleasure in it and refraining from it only through fear of consequences—is neither a temperate man nor a reliable religionist." And then on page 279 of "Miscellaneous Writings" is sounded the keynote of the true incentive: "Why does not the certainty of individual punishment for sin prevent the wrong action? It is the love of God, and not the fear of evil, that is the incentive in Science."

Testimony Meetings
March 12, 1921

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