Peace and comfort and joy, until some inquirer punctures the old sore again.
Through friends in America I asked some questions, and in some cases got definite and informing answers; in other cases the answers were not definite and not valuable. To the question, "Does any of the money go to charities?" the answer from an authoritative source was: "No, not in the sense usually conveyed by this word." (The italics are mine.) That answer is cautious. But definite, I think--utterly and unassailably definite--although quite Christian-Scientifically foggy in its phrasing. Christian-Science testimony is generally foggy, generally diffuse, generally garrulous. The writer was aware that the first word in his phrase answered the question which I was asking, but he could not help adding nine dark words. Meaningless ones, unless explained by him. It is quite likely, as intimated by him, that Christian Science has invented a new class of objects to apply the word "charity" to, but without an explanation we cannot know what they are. We quite easily and naturally and confidently guess that they are in all cases objects which will return five hundred per cent. on the Trust's investment in them, but guessing is not knowledge; it is merely, in this case, a sort of nine- tenths certainty deducible from what we think we know of the Trust's trade principles and its sly and furtive and shifty ways.
Sly? Deep? Judicious? The Trust understands its business. The Trust does not give itself away. It defeats all the attempts of us impertinents to get at its trade secrets. To this day, after all our diligence, we have not been able to get it to confess what it does with the money. It does not even let its own disciples find out. All it says is, that the matter has been "demonstrated over." Now and then a lay Scientist says, with a grateful exultation, that Mrs. Eddy is enormously rich, but he stops there; as to whether any of the money goes to other charities or not, he is obliged to admit that he does not know. However, the Trust is composed of human beings; and this justifies the conjecture that if it had a charity on its list which it was proud of, we should soon hear of it.
"Without money and without price." Those used to be the terms. Mrs. Eddy's Annex cancels them. The motto of Christian Science is, "The laborer is worthy of his hire." And now that it has been "demonstrated over," we find its spiritual meaning to be, "Do anything and everything your hand may find to do; and charge cash for it, and collect the money in advance." The Scientist has on his tongue's end a cut-and-dried, Boston-supplied set of rather lean arguments, whose function is to show that it is a Heaven-commanded duty to do this, and that the croupiers of the game have no choice but to obey.
The Trust seems to be a reincarnation. Exodus xxxii. 4.
I have no reverence for the Trust, but I am not lacking in reverence for the sincerities of the lay membership of the new Church. There is every evidence that the lay members are entirely sincere in their faith, and I think sincerity is always entitled to honor and respect, let the inspiration of the sincerity be what it may. Zeal and sincerity can carry a new religion further than any other missionary except fire and sword, and I believe that the new religion will conquer the half of Christendom in a hundred years. I am not intending this as a compliment to the human race; I am merely stating an opinion. And yet I think that perhaps it is a compliment to the race. I keep in mind that saying of an orthodox preacher--quoted further back. He conceded that this new Christianity frees its possessor's life from frets, fears, vexations, bitterness, and all sorts of imagination-propagated maladies and pains, and fills his world with sunshine and his heart with gladness. If Christian Science, with this stupendous equipment--and final salvation added--cannot win half the Christian globe, I must be badly mistaken in the make-up of the human race.