"Pure religion"

WHEN the Apostle James in his general epistle declared "pure religion and undefiled before God" to be this: "To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world," he defined it in terms of its practice, a method at once explicit and logical. How better could the true meaning of religion be conveyed than by so perfectly illustrating its application? As the ministries and duties set forth by James are of a nature to exemplify the very essence of the teachings and practice of Christ Jesus, it may be assumed that he was describing Christianity, the religion founded by his beloved Master and Teacher, the Prophet of Nazareth.

If the essence of Christian religion, then, be the practice of Christlike qualities and attributes, surely it finds its highest expression in the simple but comprehensive application signified by the apostle; for, to visit in the spirit of Truth those who believe themselves afflicted, to extend Christian aid and comfort, calls forth compassion, brotherly love, and solicitude for the welfare of others incident only upon some degree of understanding of God as infinite Love, of the perfect state of man's being, and of his forever existence as God's representative. Furthermore, it requires nothing less than true Christian living, genuine love for God, and a yearning for His goodness, in order to keep one's self "unspotted from the world,"— the world which is thought to include all that pertains, in the words of John, to "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," that is, the world of sensuousness, the universe of the so-called physical senses. Manifestly, escape from the taint of materiality could be effected only by turning to spiritual being as the all-inclusive reality of Life and its varied manifestations. Viewed in this light, how comprehensive becomes James' definition of religion! Mrs. Eddy clears the situation to an extraordinary degree on page 26 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." In speaking of the teachings of Jesus, she says: "It was the divine Principle of all real being which he taught and practised. His proof of Christianity was no form or system of religion and worship, but Christian Science, working out the harmony of Life and Love."

Frederick Harrison once declared: "The one thing most needed beyond all else is true religion. This only can give wisdom, happiness, and goodness to men and a noble life to mankind." This, too, conforms to the words of James, for, assuredly, only by rising above material sense—that is, through spiritual understanding—are these desirable attainments won. Likewise, it is learned in Christian Science that only by transformation, by the renewing of the mind, is the truth about God, man, and the universe, the spiritual facts, really gained and established in thought. This is, indeed, keeping one's self "unspotted from the world." But it should not be overlooked that true religion makes demands much more definite than the mere belief in its doctrine. Belief is, in fact, but a small part of the experience of religion. To be "a doer of the work," thus proving by demonstration the presence and power of good, is a constant demand upon all who would claim allegiance with the Christ.

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March 10, 1923

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