"Why should the work cease?"

Many centuries ago a little company of workers decided to attempt something apparently so far beyond their power of accomplishment that they were the object of much derision among their neighbors. They were starting to rebuild the great wall of Jerusalem, which, because of neglect and selfish indifference, had broken down in so many places that the holy city itself was no longer safe from marauding attacks. The story as told in the book of Nehemiah is of peculiar interest to the student of Christian Science, because he, too, is building, in consciousness, his strong wall of defense, and he finds as he studies the narrative, and particularly the sixth chapter, that the methods employed by those who would hinder and obstruct the work are largely identical with those which the adversary to-day uses in attempting to stay the progress of any right endeavor.

Again and again were false arguments sent forth, all with the one intent, so to worry and harass the workers that the work should be hindered. Letters were written, messengers sent, the real motive underlying the undertaking intentionally misjudged, lies told about the one in charge of it, and even bodily injury threatened. Nothing daunted, however, "these feeble Jews"—as their enemies mockingly called them—worked steadily on under the wise guidance of the intrepid Nehemiah, who proved his wisdom in no way more plainly than in his absolute refusal to be drawn into an argument. So intensely was he imbued with the spirit of a mighty purpose that he could see in every form of the enemy's approach just one thing; and that one thing was an attempt to stop the work, which was precisely the one thing which Nehemiah had determined should not happen. Four times in desperation Sanballat and his fellow-conspirators urged Nehemiah to make a temporary truce, just long enough to come down to the plain of Ono and talk things over, as we would say in modern parlance; and four times Nehemiah stopped only long enough to send the following reply: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"

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That simple, sane, unanswerable question should surely kindle a responsive chord in the heart of every one who loves the Cause of Christian Science; for we have to-day a work before us compared with which the building of the wall of Jerusalem was but child's play. Our work is the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth through the "signs following" which the Master promised. It is the most stupendously important work in all the world; and it is going steadily on, thanks to that great company who have themselves felt the transforming touch of Truth, and are consecrating their lives and their best efforts to bring the glad tidings to others. Yet does it not sometimes happen that an otherwise faithful worker is cleverly beguiled into listening to some modern Sanballat? He allows himself to become so stirred by what he hears that, before he realizes it, the tool with which he has been building slips idly through his fingers and he finds himself in the plain of Ono, arguing the case with great heat and vigor. He seems quite oblivious of the fact that in the meantime the work has ceased, at least so far as he is concerned—which is, of course, exactly what the adversary desires!

It is of paramount importance to the Cause of Christian Science that the healing shall go on. About three centuries after the Christian era, this element of our religion was lost temporarily; and it was only through the spiritual discernment of our beloved Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, that this "pearl of great price" was rediscovered and restored to its rightful place as an inseparable part of the teachings of our great Master, Jesus the Christ. Mrs. Eddy says on page 37 of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "It is possible,—yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman,—to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness." Yet how can we be doing two things at once? How can we be in the plain of Ono, discussing matters with Sanballat, and at the same time be at our post of duty building the wall, quiet, serene, calm, and untroubled? "The most Christian state is one of rectitude and spiritual understanding," because, as Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 403), this state "is best adapted for healing the sick."

A disturbed Christian Scientist cannot heal. It would be well if we would all ponder these things; and the next time an opportunity presents itself to indulge in one of those "doubtful disputations," against which the apostle warns us, why not silently reply in our hearts, "Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" Why should this high and holy work be neglected while I come down to your level, O obstructor of the work? I cannot, and I will not, take a moment of my precious time to wrangle over nonessentials, to discuss the sayings and doings of frail human personality, to let myself become indignant and resentful over something which is not, after all, any of my business or concern. My business is to heal the sick, to comfort the sorrowing, to reform the sinner. How can I do this if I am constantly being called away from my work to listen to that which benefits no one, and only results in leaving me in a mental state of unrest and turmoil which is far from that mental attitude which quickly and spontaneously heals? Why should I seemingly give life to error by parleying with it? Even when his enemies said that Nehemiah was building the wall for his own aggrandizement, and that he might later on be made a king over the Jews, the lying innuendo did not touch him. He was so far above it that it never even stirred him. He only quietly said, "There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of thine heart," and went steadily on with the work.

May the calm directness of his words and the unflinching steadfastness of his purpose be to all of us to-day a source of constant inspiration! He was "a man of one idea," as the saying is. May we not have this also said of us, since this one idea—the Christ-idea—is that which will save and revolutionize a world? If any Sanballat under a more modern name ever tries to thwart and hinder that upon which the proof of our whole religion rests—the healing—shall we not ask, with the same quiet simplicity which ever characterized Nehemiah, "Why should the work cease"? Although he may not know it, we are even smiling to ourselves as we turn lovingly and joyously to the task before us. "Why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?"

Copyright, 1926, by The Christian Science Publishing Society, Falmouth and St. Paul Streets, Boston, Massachusetts. Entered at Boston post office as second-class matter. Acceptance for mailing at a special rate of postage provided for in section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized on July 11, 1918.

The Song of Angels
May 15, 1926

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