Wiser than Serpents

MAY 9, 2018
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From the Bible
Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy


91: 1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.


3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.


11:3 … I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

SH 594:1
Serpent. Subtlety; a lie; the opposite of Truth, named error; the belief in more than one God; animal magnetism; the first lie of limitation; the first claim that there is an opposite of Spirit, or good, termed matter, or evil; the first delusion that error exists as fact; the first claim that sin, sickness, and death are the realities of life. The first audible claim that God was not omnipotent and that there was another power, named evil, which was as real and eternal as God, good.

SH 544:17-19
The first statement about evil, — the first suggestion of more than the one Mind, — is in the fable of the serpent.

SH 533:10-12
Here there is an attempt to trace all human errors directly or indirectly to God, or good, as if He were the creator of evil.

SH 529:21-27
Whence comes a talking, lying serpent to tempt the children of divine Love? The serpent enters into the metaphor only as evil. We have nothing in the animal kingdom which represents the species described, — a talking serpent, — and should rejoice that evil, by whatever figure presented, contradicts itself and has neither origin nor support in Truth and good.

SH 103:18-23
As named in Christian Science, animal magnetism or hypnotism is the specific term for error, or mortal mind. It is the false belief that mind is in matter, and is both evil and good; that evil is as real as good and more powerful. This belief has not one quality of Truth.

SH 484:21-23 Animal (to ;)
Animal magnetism is the voluntary or involuntary action of error in all its forms;

SH 269:3
From first to last the supposed coexistence of Mind and matter and the mingling of good and evil have resulted from the philosophy of the serpent.


10:1 … when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, …
7 … as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
16 ¶ Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.


10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
1:32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils;

SH 584:17-18 (to 2nd ;)
DEVIL. Evil; a lie; error; neither corporeality nor mind; the opposite of Truth;

SH 71:2
Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense.

SH 351:16-21
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.

SH 469:13-17 The
The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind — called devil or evil — is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality.

SH 476:32-4
Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.


8:13 The Pharisees…said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, …
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.


2:10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them:

SH 357:7-8
Jesus said of personified evil, that it was “a liar, and the father of it.”

SH 581:1
This view of Satan is confirmed by the name often conferred upon him in Scripture, the “adversary.”

SH 357:8-9
Truth creates neither a lie, a capacity to lie, nor a liar.


16:17 … these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils;
18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


27:1 And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band.
2 And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia;
20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.
41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground;
28:2 And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, …
3 And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live.
5 And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm.

SH 514:26-28
Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless.

SH 243:3-8, 9
The divine Love, which made harmless the poisonous viper, which delivered men from the boiling oil, from the fiery furnace, from the jaws of the lion, can heal the sick in every age and triumph over sin and death.
But the same “Mind . . . which was also in Christ Jesus” must always accompany the letter of Science in order to confirm and repeat the ancient demonstrations of prophets and apostles. That those wonders are not more commonly repeated to-day, arises not so much from lack of desire as from lack of spiritual growth.


12:3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, …
21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.

SH 593:7
Red Dragon. Error; fear; inflammation; sensuality; subtlety; animal magnetism; envy; revenge.

SH 563:8-10
The great red dragon symbolizes a lie, — the belief that substance, life, and intelligence can be material. This dragon stands for the sum total of human error.

SH 567:18-25 (to ;)
That false claim — that ancient belief, that old serpent whose name is devil (evil), claiming that there is intelligence in matter either to benefit or to injure men — is pure delusion, the red dragon; and it is cast out by Christ, Truth, the spiritual idea, and so proved to be powerless. The words “cast unto the earth” show the dragon to be nothingness, dust to dust;

SH 563:7 why (only)
… why should we stand aghast at nothingness?

SH 228:25-27
There is no power apart from God. Omnipotence has all-power, and to acknowledge any other power is to dishonor God.

Publications Quotation
“Wiser Than Serpents”
By John M. Tutt
Christian Science Journal
March 1925

It may be said that much1 of the trouble in the world comes from failure to handle animal magnetism. Since it is the necessity of Christians to imitate the example of Christ Jesus, it follows that Christians have the inescapable duty of proving the unreality of the works of the devil. Now, the works of the devil, evil, may be said in a general way to be comprised in the supposititious activities of mortal mind.

Animal magnetism is a name for evil in its false claim to be and to do something; it is the belief of evil in action. Wherever a falsity claims to be exerting itself to be and to do, there is animal magnetism. On page 594 of the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy gives “animal magnetism” as a definition of “serpent.”

The serpent is represented as engendering fear. It claims to terrorize, fascinate, and kill. It is supposed to produce and transmit poison. Its entire activity claims to be destructive;

In the allegory of the garden of Eden, the serpent is represented as talking to Eve. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that there is no such thing in animal life as a talking snake.

The serpent talked to Eve in terms of her own thinking and speech. Indeed, any evil belief comes to us in the guise of our own thought. It can come in no other way, since we see, feel, hear, touch, and taste only what we believe. Thus all these evil things depend for their seeming reality upon our acceptance of them at the behest of mortal mind.

“The wisdom of a serpent is to hide itself;” and because the serpents of error come to us in the guise of thought, and can come in no other way, therefore the serpent hides itself in our own thinking. We must seek for it there. The animal magnetism outside our own consciousness can never harm us.

In displaying its so-called wisdom, the serpent hides itself in the most effective place for hiding, namely, a hole. The superficial student hesitates or stops short at the hole of the serpent. He loves to think of God as Love, but he dislikes to stir up a nest of serpents. He will not handle animal magnetism. He either does not see the error or, seeing it, does not want to or will not deny it, reverse it, and reject it.

The true Scientist boldly turns the serpent out of its hole. He does this with the wisdom of God and not with his own human mentality, however. Thus he emulates our Leader’s counsel and example to be “wiser than serpents.” To be “wiser than serpents” is to employ the wisdom of God, the one divine Mind, in bringing the serpent out of its hiding place or hole, handling it, and taking away its sting. Thus handled, that is, reversed with Truth, the lie or serpent becomes a staff on which to lean.

1 A change was made to this article in the 2007 printing of Anthology of Classic Articles: “much of the trouble in the world” was changed to “all of the trouble in the world”.