Chapter Eighty-four

From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by

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Mrs. Eddy’s Calls On Students For Help

My object for including my own personal experiences in this treatise, is for the purpose of showing the personal instruction which we received from Mrs. Eddy, and also, the spiritual consciousness which she maintained in the home.

My object for including my own personal experiences in this treatise, is for the purpose of showing the personal instruction which we received from Mrs. Eddy, and also, the spiritual consciousness which she maintained in the home.

The following incident is one that is difficult to make plain to another, although it was most helpful to my own growth and understanding. One night I was called upon to work with our Leader, to help her meet the argument that she could not rest. In the morning, I was informed that I had failed in my demonstration. This information disturbed me greatly, because I had been faithful to my highest understanding, laboring to the best of my ability to accomplish the desired result, and pouring into the effort a deep sense of love.

Retiring to my bedroom, as was my custom, I opened my thought for divine wisdom; and the following answer came to me: I visualized a young man who became a very proficient archer in his home town, being able to hit the bull’s-eye nearly every time. He was invited to attend a world-wide contest, and to his dismay, in this greater field of competition, he was unable to make a bull’s-eye at all. Then he was tempted to believe that, because he was trained in a small town, he was not fitted to compete in a contest so world-wide. But his suspicions were finally aroused, because he could not hit the bull’s-eye even once. Upon investigation, he discovered that a fine wire had been stretched over the bull’s-eye, and, because he was such a skillful archer, the arrow had sped true to the mark, hit the wire and glanced off. So he removed this wire, and was able to give an exhibition that was a true index of his skill.

The next night Mrs. Eddy called upon me to do the same work with her. In the morning, she told me that I had successfully met the need. By breaking the mesmerism that claimed to keep her from a demonstrable consciousness of God’s power, I had automatically restored to her weary and heavy-laden spirit the true rest, that is the mainspring of scientific work. Then I related to her the illustration, that had unfolded to me the error which had to be handled, and she was so pleased, that she called the other students and told them.

One thing I learned through this experience, was that Mrs. Eddy did not need help such as a practitioner would give a patient, to protect him or her from the claim of animal magnetism. I perceived the second night, that Mrs. Eddy needed assistance in maintaining her consciousness of dominion, her realization of her ability to demonstrate all good. I recognized that she was not suffering because animal magnetism had gained entrance into her consciousness, but because it had succeeded momentarily in driving from her thought her consciousness of Truth. What she needed, therefore, was a restoration of her confidence in the realization, that she had not lost Truth, that she could never lose it, and that she possessed dominion over falsity at all times.

What then, you will ask, did the wire over the bull’s-eye represent to me in this demonstration? It meant that animal magnetism had tried to make a law, that Mrs. Eddy’s students could not rehabilitate her spiritual consciousness for her, when she was tempted to feel bereft. So, realizing that the work I did the first night was scientifically correct, I did not alter it the second night, except to handle the claim that would say, that her students could not work scientifically to help resuscitate her spiritual thought and re-equip her with her scientific weapons. The moment she had her weapons, she could handle her own case without help from anyone.

I realized, after I had been given the above illustration, that Mrs. Eddy’s thought had been darkened, so that she felt unable to meet the inflow of animal magnetism. When her consciousness of power had been restored to her, I had done all that I needed to do, and the surge of spiritual power and uplift that she experienced, was the proof to her that I had touched the right chord. If I had treated her like an ordinary patient, I never would have aimed for the bull’s-eye with enough accuracy to have had the claim of the wire to meet. The fact that I hit the wire, was proof that the work done was accurate and scientific, but the claim of reversal had to be met, before the work became effective.

herefore, my realization that all that Mrs. Eddy lacked was conscious confidence in her own understanding, caused me to aim directly at the bull’s-eye, which was the effort to restore to her this lost sense. It brought me right up against the claim which tried to say that one of her students, being on a lower plane of thought, could do nothing to resuscitate the thought of one so far above in the spiritual scale. At another time, after one of the students was able to give such help to our Leader, she asked, “How did I heal, the other day, when I felt so helpless to do for someone who saw so far above me?” Mrs. Eddy replied, “Through that helplessness you let Truth in, and it was Christian Science which healed the case, not your own exertion.”

Mrs. Eddy had taught us that we could not lose health, immortality, wisdom nor spiritual power. In belief, all that we could lose would be the consciousness of their presence. Hence, my effort to aid the Leader simply restored her consciousness of the latent spiritual power which she possessed, which she could never lose, and which was always at her command. I have never ceased to be grateful, that I did not yield to discouragement and hearken to the temptation of animal magnetism, which tried to say that I could not work helpfully with one who was so far above me in the spiritual scale. The revelation of the archer and the bull’s-eye disclosed to me, that only subtlety stood between me and the accomplishment of what Mrs. Eddy required, and that the opening of my thought would reveal to me what the subtlety was, and how to meet it.

From this experience, I learned that the finest spiritual effort a student could put forth, though it may be scientific and loving, was ineffectual unless that student handled the claim of animal magnetism. The situation is akin to that of a man in jail, who writes to the governor for a pardon, because he is being unjustly punished. The letter may be beautifully written, it may tell the truth with conviction, but if the man in jail is not smart enough to outwit the warden, so that the letter reaches the governor, of what value is it?

At this point, I am led to comment on the difference between the mental and audible assertions which Mrs. Eddy requested of her students. There is a differentiation which must be noted, since the mental argument relates more to cause, and the audible to effect. This classification is noted in healing the sick. The very statement, “You are well and you know it,” which heals the patient when made mentally, may chemicalize him when made audibly.

It is a fact that, in working specifically with Mrs. Eddy, the audible effort differed much from the mental. She would stop a student in a moment, if he mixed the two. She, better than any, knew the truth of the mental arguments of Christian Science. What was it, then, that she required though audible assistance?

An audible treatment, given to a patient, stimulates thought, lifts it up and encourages it, for the purpose of restoring it to a normal consciousness of God. It was this that our Leader required. She did not need, at that point, the mental declarations, since she knew them thoroughly. But she had, for the moment, lost her ability to make them function, or take hold.

When one’s mental declarations do not take hold, what is the trouble? Why does one build up a consciousness of Truth? In John 9:4 the Master said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” Man cultivates vegetables in the summer time, because the winter time comes, when he cannot grow them. So he must rely on the ones he has raised and stored away.

Similarly, man builds up a consciousness of Truth to sustain him through the dark hours. When his thought is poised spiritually, he establishes a consciousness of God; then, when the night comes, that consciousness sustains him through the dark hours. It is then that man is called upon to trust in past spiritual effort.

The human tendency in Christian Science, is to feel that you are sustained by your own effort, instead of being sustained by what your own effort brings to sustain you.

The true help that our Leader demanded, was reassurance in a dark hour (times of mental disturbance which beset her occasionally) that, because she had faithfully established for herself a true sense of God, and because she had always leaned on Him, now, her God would sustain her, support her in an hour of trial. The surplus of spiritual good would now return and keep her lamp lit, because she had been a “wise virgin” and gathered oil while it was day. Thus, during such periods of trial, I would reassure her that she was appointed of God, that it was her divine destiny to finish her work, and that no power on earth could, by any possibility, prevent the onward march of her spiritual destiny. Because she had been faithful in appointing herself to perform this sacred work, it would now sustain her in a brief period of darkness.

In a mental treatment, there must be no acknowledgment that the patient has ever been less than a perfect child of God, or has ever lost the consciousness of his relationship as an heir of divine Truth and Love. Such statements were not what Mrs. Eddy needed audibly; for her demand was to have her spiritual confidence in her understanding and destiny strengthened.

I have sometimes wondered if, when Mrs. Eddy called on a student to work with her, especially if that help was to be given audibly, knowing that the members of one’s own household are usually the most open channel for animal magnetism to work through, she asked for this assistance, merely to determine what the mental attitude of that student was toward her, or else to help to let God furnish him with the attitude of mind everyone should hold towards our Leader, towards himself and towards mankind. In like manner, Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” a question that God alone, through man, could correctly answer.

In Christian Science, it is not our work that protects us, but the spiritual consciousness that our work brings to us. Mrs. Eddy needed to rest in the consciousness, that the work she had accomplished faithfully all through her life, gave her the privilege of calling herself a child of God, fulfilling a divine destiny which God had prepared for her, just as did the Master fulfill God’s plan. She required that sublime conviction, that nothing could stop or prevent the accomplishment of her work of bringing to the world its greatest blessing since the time of Jesus.

Mrs. Eddy desired someone to bring her the prophetic vision, that she was just as much an ordained messenger of Truth to this age, as was the Master to his age, and that all the forces of evil could not possibly stir her out of the predestined path God had prepared for her. She wanted to know that the hidden oil was there to sustain her, when error suggested that her lamp was empty. She needed to know that the oil was in her lamp, and that nothing could put out that light, that all the suggestions of error could never touch her. She had seen so many of her students fall away, that she might have uttered the lament of Elijah, “I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

In a mental treatment, there is no sense of destiny, everything is fixed and permanent. It is only in the audible treatment, that one voices the assurance of a divine destiny that will be fulfilled. Whereas the audible treatment provides spiritual footsteps, the mental treatment maintains that the goal is reached, because it always was established. In the latter, therefore, there is no error; but in the former, there is the claim of evil which must be seen as unreal. Audibly you tell the truth about the lie, and mentally you declare the truth about the Truth.

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Love is the liberator.