To defend our Cause
It was the Fourth of July, 1886, and Mary Baker Eddy rose to speak extemporaneously to the Sunday congregation at Chickering Hall in Boston. In the United States, this holiday traditionally celebrates the 1776 signing of “The Declaration of Independence” by the 13 states then comprising our country, and the first speaker at Chickering Hall, Rev. W. I. Gill, had just given a sermon along these lines. Yet as Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, took the stage, she catapulted the discussion far above nationalism and celebration to one with universal implications.
Mrs. Eddy began by praising the American settlers who built their society on ideals of religious freedom. But she then shifted her remarks from “then” to “now”—from the distant past to the immediate demands facing the young Christian Science movement. “Are we duly aware of our own great opportunities and responsibilities?” she asked. Then she followed with a call to arms for Christian Scientists everywhere to rise to the defense of their Cause. “Never was there a more solemn and imperious call than God makes to us all, right here, for fervent devotion and absolute consecration to the greatest and holiest of all causes,” she said. “The powers of evil are leagued together in secret conspiracy against the Lord and against His Christ, as expressed and operative in Christian Science” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 176–177).
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What exactly was this “Cause” Mrs. Eddy referred to? According to The Mary Baker Eddy Library, “the cause” was a term she used to describe the movement of thought she’d nurtured in herself and others ever since she caught the first glimpse of the Science of Christianity after her life-changing spiritual healing in 1866. In an 1872 letter—written well before Mrs. Eddy published Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures or founded the Church of Christ, Scientist—she spoke of “the great cause” (L08302, Mary Baker Eddy to Sarah O. Bagley, April 18, 1872, © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library). The outward evidence of the Cause was modest at that time, but Mrs. Eddy already envisioned its greatness, its divine mission to bring healing and salvation to humanity. It was a Cause that belonged, not to herself personally, but to all mankind, everywhere, for all time. And ultimately it belonged to God.
The Cause of Christian Science was, is, and always will be a spiritual entity, not merely a denominational or organizational structure. It was, and forever is, rooted in Spirit, the divine cause of every effect. That fact constitutes its security, its continuity, its invulnerability, its permanence. Mrs. Eddy once wrote to her faithful student Rev. Irving Tomlinson, “Our Cause is immortal, it rests on nothing temporal, it is the cause and effect of all that really exists” (Irving C. Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition, page 155).
So what were the “powers of evil” Mary Baker Eddy warned about in her Fourth of July remarks? Letters Mrs. Eddy circulated a month or so earlier to some Christian Science teachers suggest that the destructive influences attacking the Cause weren’t so much external as they were internal—a lack of resolve and commitment within the ranks of some Christian Scientists. These letters urged her students to immediately establish “public schools” or “Institutes” for instruction in Christian Science healing in various large cities (L03617, Mary Baker Eddy to selected Christian Science teachers, May 26, 1886, © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library). These “Institutes” would eventually become Christian Science students’ “associations.” Some Christian Scientists receiving the letters were apparently slow to act, however, and even shrank from this new responsibility. So the day after delivering her rousing Fourth of July remarks, Mrs. Eddy wrote to Ellen Brown Linscott, a teacher posted in Chicago, imploring her: “Beware! stand at your post [—] build up all around you.” Mrs. Eddy went on to explain the importance of commitment to the practice of Christian healing, demonstrating the allness of Mind and the nothingness of matter: “I have to stick to my post and having done all, stand. If I did not[,] the Cause would suffer” (L04105, Mary Baker Eddy to Ellen Brown Linscott, July 5, 1886, © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library).
Just as Jesus founded the early Christian Church on the bedrock of healing, so Mary Baker Eddy knew that the second coming of the Christ-truth could only be established by the decisive healing of sin, sickness, and death. That was the way she had built the Cause in the first place. As The Christian Science Journal reminded its readers in May 1906, “… Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science in 1866, and established the Cause on a sound basis by healing the sick and reforming the sinner quickly and completely, and doing this work ‘without money and without price’ ” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. v).
So if apathy or divisiveness or timidity or materialism or any other temptation distracts us from standing at our post as Christian healers and metaphysicians today, we need to resist that temptation with all our God-given spiritual might. We need to see these temptations as impositions on the healing Christ, on our natural love for and devotion to “the greatest and holiest of all causes.” And we can be sure that every effort and every sacrifice we make for the Cause—“our Cause”—can only bless us, as well as our world. Why? Because our personal welfare and salvation are interwoven with that of the Cause—the Cause that is humanity’s best hope.
According to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ final words to his disciples were, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (16:15). His followers were to take the gospel beyond national, cultural, and religious boundaries to universal humanity. Mrs. Eddy’s Fourth of July remarks urge you and me to do the same with the message of the Comforter, the Science of Christ-healing that Jesus promised he would send. Her words inspire, and require us, to defend our Cause by moving beyond mortal boundaries in our healing mission. The Cause must be for the blessing and salvation of all mankind. It must be “our Cause” in the very fullest sense.