The Christian Science Benevolent Association
The understanding of the vast realm of Truth, as discovered by our revered Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, has been given to us, and our progress depends upon our perception and application of this revelation. Included in this spiritual perception is a loving guidance to all Christian Scientists to abide by the laws of divine Love as well as the laws of the land, for the realm into which Jesus commanded his followers to go was "into all the world" to preach the gospel and heal the sick. Our Leader recognized that this preaching and healing was manifested at that time in a compliance with the helpful conditions such as were rendered to the wounded at the wayside by the Samaritan. In Miscellany our Leader touches upon this subject (p. 129): "But the spirit of humanity, ethics, and Christianity sown broadcast—all concomitants of Christian Science—is taking strong hold of the public thought throughout our beloved country and in foreign lands, and is tending to counteract the trend of mad ambition." "The spirit of humanity, ethics, and Christianity" we often feel impels the extending of a loving hand to one who is under a belief of poverty or despair, and it brings to the sufferer the smile of God, which is the healing power, giving him a better understanding of health and of life everlasting.
The activity of this great cause of Christian Science is being felt in the world's affairs through every channel and pore, and Christian Scientists look with joy upon all the achievements in this cause as being the direct demonstration of our beloved Leader. We are awakening constantly to Mrs. Eddy's wonderful vision which came because she talked with God,—her one purpose being to bring a sense of "God with us" to the redemption of the world, to the redemption of all mankind. The wisdom of her leadership will be constantly reflected in the government of this great movement which is destined to encompass all nations, if we will be in some measure as faithful as she has been and if we will listen as intently as she did to "the still small voice" of Principle, or Truth.
It is evident from an insight into her daily life that justice, mercy, kindness, generosity, and benevolence were prominent characteristics. The motive of our Leader's efforts is described in "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 30) where she says, "It was to relieve the sufferings of humanity by a sanitary system that should include all moral and religious reform." She followed the Master in healing the sick and sinful and recognized that without this healing quality the cause of scientific Christianity would not stand and salvation could not come. It is also evident that she recognized that to conform to the requirements of this age "a Christian Science resort for the so-called sick," afterward designated as The Christian Science Benevolent Association, should be established and maintained.
In a letter dated January 15, 1905, published in the Sentinel of October 7, 1916, Mrs. Eddy stated: "Our cause demands a wider circle of means for the ends of philanthropy and charity, and better qualifications for practical purposes. This latter lack in students of Christian Science is a great hindrance to our cause and it must be met and mastered. The students need to be qualified so that under the fire of mortal mind they can stand, and 'having done all, to stand' (St. Paul)."
It is evident that Mrs. Eddy did not intend to condone sin nor the supposed causes for sickness, but she had a great desire to bring the understanding of the Christ into practical use and therefore said that "our cause demands ... better qualifications for practical purposes." Coupled with this, are given in the same letter the aims and requirements of this Benevolent Association, namely, "That it be a resort for invalids without homes or relatives available in time of need; where they can go and recruit." There are some wrong impressions which have reverberated throughout the field regarding the Benevolent Association, and to correct them it is only necessary to call attention to the truth in the above words of our Leader.
The Benevolent Association is not a place of dernier ressort where all of the indigent personnel that ever heard of Christian Science can, through a certain process of becoming members of The Mother Church as a prerequisite, place their earthly nothingness upon its altar and expect to be taken care of to a peaceful end. It is not a resort for the sick to be sick therein, or for the sinful to continue to sin therein; but a place of retirement for communion with the divine Christ "where all manner of disease" is healed; where is demonstrated "the fact that the human mind alone suffers, is sick, and that the divine Mind alone heals" (Science and Health, p. 270); where is proved that "he that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty;" and where is found fulfilment of the promise in the words of the Master, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It is a resort for the so-called sick and sinful, where they may be healed by divine Love and is wholly in line with the wishes of our Leader as a means of expressing such compassion as was manifested by the Master. It is a humanitarian effort of benevolence.
The Benevolent Association can only be looked upon as divine spiritual idea demonstrating good in one of the activities of the cause of Christian Science. As an idea of Principle its work is already accomplished, and a metaphysical viewpoint is the only one to be considered. If it be looked upon solely as an expressed belief of mortal mind, it will not be the quality of bread which our Leader cast upon the waters. She leads us to understand the divine Principle of health and thus to realize that sickness is unreal, an illusion. She stood and worked constantly with mankind for Principle. Whatever she presented was a right idea of Principle. Her whole demonstration was because of Principle; therefore, it is necessary for her followers to grasp the right idea of her demonstration. If we do not, then will we be guilty of failure in one point, and in that measure unworthy.
With the understanding of the Christ, we cannot imagine that Mrs. Eddy would have the least desire to interest the cause in anything short of spiritual activity. We do not know how long she labored before she touched upon this idea of the Benevolent Association. And lest it might be misunderstood and dragged into a material sense of sanatorium conditions, she withdrew the by-law which would have launched the Association in 1910, and qualified its withdrawal "for the present," and gave the Board of Directors to understand that it was their work to do at the proper time. This work is accomplished according to Principle. We are only adding to the enigma of mortal mind belief if the activity of the Benevolent Association has a physical basis.
Health is a condition of Mind, and a physical basis cannot bear reliable testimony on the subject. Hence it is the function of the Benevolent Association to reveal and demonstrate by the divine Principle of Science that which will reverse the false belief of any patient seeking solace under its shadow, and it will reveal harmonious man. Let us, therefore, get the right idea about the Benevolent Association as a divine idea, spiritual in its quality and character. If human reason should prevail, it might be to us a blind guide leading into the byways of mortal beliefs. When the right idea is understood, it will accomplish the work which Mrs. Eddy intended. In no other way can its success be realized. It must be done according to Principle.
Benevolence never becomes wearied, but maintains the pure sense of spiritual activity which is never exhausted. The might of generosity is never wanting in true benevolence; and built upon the true foundation, it builds to heaven, where is found the only true association that heals the sick and reforms the sinner. As Christian Scientists we are constantly endeavoring to find God, and sometimes we forget that "God with us" is the only presence we have, and that "God with us" gives the right idea about this as well as about everything else in the cause of Christian Science.
Copyright, 1919, 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.