The real meaning of watching presents a very important factor, which all Christian Scientists should be alert to discover; and the practice of which aids in the making of real Christian Scientists. A true watchman is one who has become conscious of his danger. A little story of the Civil War will illustrate the point.
A Confederate soldier and a few comrades were creeping stealthily up to the Union breastworks. They were sharp-shooters, and they were seeking a Union sentinel who was marching up and down the breastworks. When they came within firing distance, the leader knelt down and took careful aim at the sentinel. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, his attention was arrested by the sound of some one singing a hymn, and he realized that the singer was the person at whom he was aiming. He paused, listened, and waited till the singer had finished the hymn, then arose to his feet and said, "Boys, we will go home." They turned and disappeared in the underbrush.
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Years after the war this Confederate soldier was crossing the ocean. It was Sunday evening, and some of the passengers were singing hymns. During one hymn he was startled by the strange familiarity of the voice next to him. He said to the man, "Where have I heard your voice before?" They compared notes, and the man turned out to be the Union soldier. "Yes, I well remember that occasion," he said. "While marching up and down that day, I was suddenly seized with a sense of great danger. I couldn't see the danger, or hear it; and in my extremity my thought went out wholly to God for refuge and protection. I could think of nothing to do but sing that dear old hymn of refuge and safety I learned in childhood, 'Jesus, Lover of my Soul.' Then a strange thing happened. When I had gotten half through the hymn, suddenly all sense of danger vanished, and I was at peace." Christian Science affirms that that man was watching: he was alert to the recognition of his danger. Christian Scientists "go over" their Lesson-Sermons, go to church services, and attend church meetings. They usually think that is enough, that that is watching; and then they wonder why they often are tumbled over by error, put to sleep and kept inactive and ill. It is because they are not conscious of their danger. They are marching up and down the breastworks, but not watching.
The lesson is one of deep significance. It does not suggest fear of danger, but rather an understanding of the claims of danger, a wide-awakeness thereto. The lesson is ever timely, and never more needed than to-day. The hosts of unseen sin in battle array, inflamed with pride, resentment, and revenge, continue stealthily to send forth their emissaries. These aggressive thoughts are generally clothed with self-assurance and pride of intellect, and are often camouflaged in the subtle vestments of efficient methods, promising benefits and greater prosperity. The exact nature of this aggressive mental suggestion is plainly uncovered by Mrs. Eddy in her article "Ways that are Vain," in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany." There she says (p. 211), "Animal magnetism fosters suspicious distrust where honor is due, fear where courage should be strongest, reliance where there should be avoidance, a belief in safety where there is most danger; and these miserable lies, poured constantly into his mind, fret and confuse it, spoiling that individual's disposition, undermining his health, and sealing his doom, unless the cause of the mischief is found out and destroyed."
These dangers are very evident to the experienced Christian Scientist. As he advances, it becomes plainer and plainer that unless he awakens from his lethargy of ignorance, self-conceit, superciliousness, or self-righteousness (produced by animal magnetism), and keeps awake, he will become a victim of sin, the sin of mental malpractice, sin both from within and from without.
Not infrequently one hears it said by Christian Scientists, most of whom should know better: "All is good, Love is everywhere, justice will prevail. The problem is not mine anyway—headquarters will do the work; then why be troubled about evil? I wouldn't hurt any one, so no one will hurt me. We don't need to uncover error. Why make something of nothing? Why be disturbed by a condition which has no standing?" These are arguments which, while perhaps correct in the abstract, yet if not thoughtfully and scientifically made, are calculated to stop work, put off guard, lull to sleep, and place the Scientist in the position of receptivity to attacks of sin and disease that error desires and plans. Is this not the reason for some of the seeming failures in demonstration, and for the frequent queries as to why one is not healed of disease and lack?
A person has earnest faith in the absolute truths of being; but he is not watching, is not conscious of his danger, and is not courageously disposing of that danger. He has faith in God's protection and in all that He made, but stops short at blind faith, and thus ignorantly permits evil to make a victim of him, placing him in surprising positions of weakness, helplessness, and discredit, subjecting him and the Cause of Christian Science to harsh criticism and derision. Evil argues disobedience, distrust, fear, and death, unseen suggestions which are unrecognized, unhandled, and undestroyed, all because the Christian Scientist does not watch out and awaken to his danger, because he does not realize that evil in its subtle forms, claims, purposes, and methods must be understood and handled as nothing, and thus proved to be nothing.
Mrs. Eddy says in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 108), "Not to know that a false claim is false, is to be in danger of believing it; hence the utility of knowing evil aright, then reducing its claim to its proper denominator,—nobody and nothing." Jesus said, "Know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up." That very knowledge of the modes and methods of evil and of the triumph of good, Christian Science has come to supply; and therein lies its supreme utility to mankind. For what Mary Baker Eddy braved and suffered, in order that she might reveal the secret workings of sin, the world will be eternally grateful.
The higher vital knowledge of unseen things places the members of The Mother Church centuries in advance of codes and creeds. But as individual members of The Mother Church each one has a plain individual responsibility. The member living in China or Australia has the same burden of responsibility as has the member living in Boston, namely, to watch out that his own mental citadel be safeguarded; and if it be in danger "the cause of the mischief" must be "found out and destroyed."
Each member should inform himself upon, and understand this "mischief;" for the mischief is a form of impersonal sin, which in the course of his progress he must sooner or later understand and handle. Then why not handle it now, and save perhaps years of delay and suffering? When he understands about error, he will then cease to talk about it, and learn to be still and not listen to its promiscuous arguments. Thus he becomes a real watchman, a real Christian Scientist, a real member of The Mother Church, a real worker, and really happy, peaceful, harmonious; for he then really understands and proves the nothingness of sin and disease. Mrs. Eddy says also in "Ways that are Vain" (Miscellany, p. 213) "Watch your thoughts, and see whether they lead you to God and into harmony with His true followers. Guard and strengthen your own citadel more strongly. Thus you will grow wiser and better through every attack of your foe, and the Golden Rule will not rust for lack of use or be misinterpreted by the adverse influence of animal magnetism."
There will be greater unity and harmony, and more enduring strength, in our great movement in proportion as the members of The Mother Church awake to see their present danger, and in real humility and trust love one another in accordance with the law of divine Principle. Then, and only then, will old things (thoughts) pass away and all things become new; then will each be a law unto himself, growing steadily in grace; and then will be done the quick, thorough healing of the sick so needed by our Cause in every field, by which each church is sustained, and which was so fervently desired and prayed for by our beloved Leader.