"Written in heaven"
The tenth chapter of Luke's gospel records that "the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." With quiet confidence in the eternal power of good, the Master confirmed the demonstrations which, naturally, they were so happy to report to him, when he replied, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Notwithstanding their successful conquest over "the spirits," the Master saw that the real reason for rejoicing is, not that a false sense of things has been overcome, but that the true man always does live in heaven, or spiritual harmony. He saw the immediate need of awakening them from any illusions whatever as to this fundamental truth.
"In all points tempted like as we are," the beloved Wayshower had met, first of all, and had conquered all phases of the mortal, or to use Paul's term, "the carnal mind." For that reason no one ever achieved greater ability than he did to discern the difference between good and its counterfeit, between reality and unreality. Christian Science makes it very plain that it was not a personal devil or even an evil spirit named Satan who, at one time, led Jesus up on a high mountain and there tempted him to use his spiritual power to material ends; rather does it teach that in the ascending scale of his reasoning, on the summit of clearer perception, various suggestions of ambition, power, and pride, products of the carnal mind, presented themselves to him, as witness the words of Lucifer in Longfellow's "Christus":—
"I cannot thus delude him to perdition!
But one temptation still remains untried,
The trial of his pride,
The thirst of power, the fever of ambition!
Surely by these a humble peasant's son
At last may be undone!"
What, of course, was taking place was not an argument between Christ Jesus and a personification or evil spirit named Satan, but simply a mental warfare suggesting itself as human consciousness. Jesus loved good whole-heartedly. He was loyal to the vision of permanent sonship with the Father. He neither needed nor desired anything that matter could offer him, because he rejoiced in knowing that his name was "written in heaven."
Ever holding to the viewpoint of absolute truth about God and man, or in other words, Principle and idea, never compromising in the smallest degree with anything less than perfection in his thinking, he nevertheless always handled the "babes in Christ" with the uttermost tenderness and compassion. Neither did he address them as though from a pinnacle of mental height far beyond theirs but even as one with them, journeying over the same path out of the beliefs of matter into the understanding of Spirit. So it was when they told him, in guileless joy, of their victory over the spirits that he graciously replied, in the kindest attitude of fellowship, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." He promised them furthermore to give them power over serpents and scorpions and over all evil, and that, moreover, nothing would hurt them in any way. What a wonderful promise! How great the gift from divine Love! Having prepared their hearts with this assurance he then uttered the command which to us echoes down the ages tenderly albeit imperatively, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."
Why has this command been necessary? The answer is very plain on page 351 of Science and Health, where our Leader says: "We cannot bring out the practical proof of Christianity, which Jesus required, while error seems as potent and real to us as Truth, and while we make a personal devil and an anthropomorphic God our starting-points,—especially if we consider Satan as a being coequal in power with Deity, if not superior to Him. Because such starting-points are neither spiritual nor scientific, they cannot work out the Spirit-rule of Christian healing, which proves the nothingness of error, discord, by demonstrating the all-inclusiveness of harmonious Truth." Realizing this fundamental truth, students of Christian Science proceed to and do heal the sick and demonstrate the power of good. They perceive how necessary it is to think from the basis of good as a reality and to deduce all conclusions therefrom. When, however, one grasps this fact, and the presence of eternal harmony is acknowledged where discord seemed to reign before, the temptation occasionally presents itself to believe that a great big, awful devil has been discovered, vanquished, and destroyed, and with it has come the suggestion that, fresh from one victory, there must be other devils and "other worlds to conquer." No student will long be fooled with this illusion if he will clearly realize that this is the last plea from a supposititious devil for a name and place in God's creation.
When it has failed in its effort to be accepted as consciousness in the above-named manner, the lie will sometimes assume a new method by dressing itself up in a new name. It will not style itself this sickness or that sickness but—ah, yes—"a claim"! How is it different to rejoice that "a claim" has been met, if by so doing we give it the minutest degree of power in our thinking, from that rejoicing of old that "even the spirits are subject unto us"? On page 54 of "Unity of Good" Mrs. Eddy says: "To say there is a false claim, called sickness, is to admit all there is of sickness; for it is nothing but a false claim. To be healed, one must lose sight of a false claim." The fact that a demonstration has been made gives us no more liberty to think and speak of error as an actuality than we had when, in working from the basis of good only as real, we certainly did not choose to think of the error as true in any sense of the word. When one is tempted to rejoice in changing material phenomena, it is good to know that the ever present Christ restrains from any sense of error.
If the Christian Scientist will pause in humble obedience, his heart made ready as were those of the first disciples, he will hear the loving instruction to rejoice not so much that error has been accepted as true by some mortal and that it has been destroyed, but rather to be glad in the forever positive fact that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Let our rejoicing evermore be based, therefore, upon the grand realization that God and man are, now and forever, inseparable and that our "names are written in heaven."