Ruling One's Own Spirit

         In Proverbs we read, "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." In the days when this wise saying was recorded it was the custom for cities to be strongly walled in order that all enemies might be thereby completely excluded. A city "broken down" and "without walls" was considered entirely defenseless and open to the depredations of every sort of marauder. All its treasures could be stolen, the results of long years of labor demolished, the hopes of its builders shattered, and their ambitions swept ruthlessly away. Consequently no more graphic picture than this could have been drawn of one left at the mercy of every adverse and undesirable influence, condition, or circumstance.

         This ruling of one's own spirit is, then, a question of tremendous importance, since through it there is to be gained protection from all that would deplete or rob, harm or destroy, hinder or prevent the good and truly desirable in each one's experience. It was in this dominion over one's own spirit that the wise man of old evidently looked for the place of safety; and it was there that Jesus declared it to be when he said, They that worship him [the Father] must worship him in spirit and in truth;" for how could one worship "in spirit and in truth" whose spirit was not under the control of Love itself. It is in this definitely controlled spiritual sense that the Christian Scientist must also look for safety.

         One might speak of the letter of Christian Science as the material for building one's walls, and of the spirit of Christian Science as providing the process for building. Both the letter and the spirit of Christian Science are therefore necessary if men are to have perfect walls and thus be safeguarded from all the encroachments of evil means and methods. There are few students of Christian Science who do not grasp the letter of its teaching with considerable rapidity. Indeed, in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 113) Mrs. Eddy says: "The letter of Science plentifully reaches humanity to-day, but its spirit comes only in small degrees;" while on page 451 she further declares: "Students of Christian Science, who start with its letter and think to succeed without the spirit, will either make shipwreck of their faith or be turned sadly awry. They must not only seek, but strive, to enter the narrow path of Life, for 'wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.'"

         Now Christian Scientists, generally, are able to talk the letter of Christian Science with great fluency. The question is: How much of this talking results in healing the sick, reforming the sinner, and replacing the discords of human existence with the concords of the divine? How much have their walls been builded through the bringing of their own spiritual intent under that divine control which becomes a wall of protection against every suppositional opposite to God? Without these spiritual effects what proof is there of any right understanding of the letter of Science which they have talked so glibly?

         There is no Christian Scientist today who does not need frequently to ask himself these questions. Also, each of us must be on guard against the tendency, when such results do not appear, of seeking yet more of the letter of Science, imagining that if we may but gain what we may be pleased to call a higher metaphysical sense we shall then have sufficient spiritual vision to do our work more efficiently. It is as though in building our wall with a mass of material already on hand which we have not used properly, if at all, we were to say: It is more material we need.

         All this time what we really need is to rule our own spirit. We need to use the material we have in the simpler rules of the letter, until we have brought our own spirit into such unity with divine Love that our every thought shall go forth with healing. This is the lesson Christian Scientists must be perpetually learning if they are so to rule each his own spirit, that the Spirit which giveth life shall universally prevail.

         In "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 81) our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, writes: "The letter of the law of God, separated from its spirit, tends to demoralize mortals, and must be corrected by a diviner sense of liberty and light. The spirit of Truth extinguishes false thinking, feeling, and acting; and falsity must thus decay, ere spiritual sense, affectional consciousness, and genuine goodness become so apparent as to be well understood."


"Ruling One's Own Spirit" by Ella W. Hoag, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, July 4, 1925

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