From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Reflection of Divine Wisdom
In Adam H. Dickey’s Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy, on page 85, he writes, “Mrs. Eddy realized that what was disturbing the Directors was the fact that she had changed her mind about something that they had considered quite important, but it seems that the changing of her mind was a privilege that our Leader reserved for herself, and she exercised it without any regard whatever for what had gone before, or what had been said. She declared, ‘Is a Leader any less a Leader because she changes her mind?’ Then she said to me, ‘Mr. Dickey, people say I am changeable, that I change my mind frequently.’ Then she added in a most significant way, ‘I do change my mind frequently, but when I do, it is always God that changes me. Sometimes I will be headed in one direction, like a weather vane, and will stay that way for several days. The next time you see me, I will have turned completely around and am going the other way, but in the meantime God has given me additional light and has led me to make the change.’ She said, ‘There have been times in working out a problem when I have not known just what step to take, and finding it necessary to make a move of some sort, I have taken a step as nearly as I could in the right direction. Perhaps I would find out shortly that it was wrong, but this step gave me a new point of view that I would not have had, had I not taken it as I did. I would not condemn myself, therefore, for what seemed to be a mistake, but would include it as a part of the working out of the problem.’”
What an inspiring example to students this provides! If the student can only put aside the pride that asks recognition for purely human wisdom and cleverness, and can follow Mrs. Eddy, who was never ashamed to admit when she was wrong, he will take an advanced step in the development of his ability to reflect divine wisdom. This attitude on the part of Mrs. Eddy proved that, even after feeling that she had heard the voice of God aright, she continued to apply herself to the problem, until the fact of its rightness or wrongness was revealed.
Yet, when Mrs. Eddy made a decision which she later reversed, does that prove that in the first instance she was governed by mortal mind? Surely, she was guided by the divine Mind at all times. She was led by prayer and by wisdom in every effort she made to establish the Cause of Christian Science. The times when she reversed her decisions represented a human mistake in interpreting divine wisdom. The Scriptures are full of the unscientific statements and acts of those who were governed by Spirit to a great degree. Such things happened, because man’s demonstration of divine wisdom did not keep pace with his demonstration of divine power. Nevertheless, there is not one of the statements or acts that cannot be explained as holding within it the inspiration of good.
The Bible tells us that “the preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.” If this preparation is not scientific, neither will the answer from the Lord be scientific.
If one thought that Mrs. Eddy issued decisions and then reversed them, then one might feel that at first she was mentally lazy and did not make the right effort to hear the voice of God. The fact is, that at times she failed to interpret the divine guidance correctly, as Abraham misinterpreted the demand of divine wisdom, when he thought that God called upon him to sacrifice his son, whereas the real demand was not revealed until later.
Everything Mrs. Eddy did, was done with the greatest preparation and prayer. At times, however, the window of thought might be clouded. What could she do under those circumstances, but express the nearest sense of God’s guidance that she received at the time?
All through the ages, men and women have gladly sacrificed their dearest treasures on the altar of God. Yet, there is one thing which man will fight against giving up, when the call comes: that is his developed human opinion. For this reason, the most important demand of Christian Science is that man yield his stubborn mind and will to God.
It is always an interesting commentary on human nature to see the stubborn resistance to the introduction of labor-saving machinery and modern methods for eliminating drudgery on the part of the very ones who would be benefited. Yet this resistance is hardly comparable to the inflexibility Christian Science encounters, when confronting the educated beliefs and opinions of the developed human intellect, and denominating them worthless from the spiritual standpoint, in the effort to persuade the individual to relinquish them in favor of the divine Mind.
Not since the days of the Master, has the world seen such a notable example of Jesus’ statement, “Not my will, but Thine be done,” as in Mary Baker Eddy. This was Jesus’ war-cry, his object of attainment, and Mrs. Eddy made it hers. She would reach a decision, but if the recognition came that what she had declared, differed from a higher glimpse of the divine will, how selfless she was, and devoid of pride, in her willingness to relinquish it, in order to voice the will of God!
This is one of the chief requirements of reflecting the divine Mind in Christian Science: that man acknowledge the divine Mind which he reflects as supreme, and himself as nothing, in line with Jesus’ statement, “I can of mine own self do nothing.”
Yet intellectual thought will cling to its own developed ideas and chemicalize, when Christian Science unfolds the fact that such ideas are animal magnetism, and that they have their origin, not in the individual’s mind, but in the so-called universal human mind. The Master said that he came, not to call the righteous, or those who cling to their developed intellect as being a right guide for man, but sinners, those who have investigated the products of mortal mind which are under its domination, and have perceived what a worthless and pain-bringing pursuit this investigation is.
The Master knew that when the intellectual one suffers, he is apt to feel that his remedy lies in a further development of the very thing that has been his worst enemy; whereas, when the sinner suffers, he gladly turns to God and leaves the husks behind.
In Zephaniah 3:11 we read, “In that day shalt thou not be ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me.” From this Scripture, we can deduce that, when the underlying motive of the Christian Scientist is fundamentally right, then every experience is important, and there is nothing of which he need be ashamed. This applied to Mrs. Eddy. Both her defeats and victories are sublime manifestations of the guiding rule of Christian Science, as being available for any sincere seeker. She understood this, and hence, was never ashamed of any manifestation that gave apparent evidence of a failure on her part. Is a man ashamed, because he erects a structure and then must pull it down, because it is found inadequate for his needs? If he thought the first one adequate and later had to discover his mistake, then the erection of the first one was part of his training and experience. Surely, the temporary structures were not unnecessary to the permanent spiritual structure that Mrs. Eddy was building. We need not be ashamed of the experiences we go through, provided that back of them is the steady, unquenchable desire and determination to arrive at the spiritual point of realizing perfection, where we come face to face with God.
Suppose one is buffeted in his effort to meet and overthrow material sense? There are two ways to be buffeted, just as there are two ways of becoming involved in a fight. You may associate with ruffians until you become embroiled, or you may meet these ruffians, as you are making an honest effort to reach a right objective. The former is a blameworthy thing, whereas the latter deserves commendation. Therefore, before judgment is passed on the facts apparent in the life of any student of Christian Science, one must know his motives and aims. If he is buffeted and suffers, because he is walking the path of human destiny, that is one thing. But if he suffers in an honest attempt to throw off the belief in a human destiny, and to show others how this can be done, through divine help, then he deserves the highest praise.
Never for an instant did Mrs. Eddy lose sight of her objective. Hence, every experience aided her in reaching that objective. This accords with the Bible warning not to be ashamed, even though we might look back and feel that we could have avoided certain experiences of the past, if we had been more watchful. Perhaps Columbus, after he had reached our shores, found that he might have come a much shorter and more direct route. Yet, how could he have known this, before crossing the Atlantic? How could he have been sure of a favorable wind? How could he have avoided all storms?