From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Understanding Mrs. Eddy’s Life and Revelation
One point of misunderstanding in regard to Mrs. Eddy, is in connection with the persistence with which she has attached her name to everything associated with Christian Science, requiring it to be read at every Christian Science service, as author of the textbook. Can this demand be reconciled with the fact that she desired no self aggrandizement? We know that she wanted mankind to respect, appreciate, and, if possible, love her revelation. She also desired that the doctrine of Christian Science be perpetuated in its purity. But there is a further point which involves the fact, that she knew that a right appreciation of the revelation and the Revelator must be coincident. If animal magnetism darkened the thought of anyone concerning her experience, she knew that such a distorted vision was proof that this individual was governed by the adversary, and hence, could not possibly understand her revelation aright. Therefore, by attaching her name to her revelation, she made it impossible for anyone to approach Christian Science from a wrong basis of thought, without exposing this fact in his erroneous attitude toward her. As she once said, “Follow the wayshower and you will follow the divine idea; turn away from the way-shower and you turn away from the divine idea; like turning away from the window-pane, you turn away from the light.”
When a man falls overboard, he struggles and swims until he reaches the security and safety of the shore. If, in some conceivable way, he found that the water was frozen solid, he might sigh with relief because he had discovered that sense of security right at hand. Assuming that the shore represented the permanence of the divine and the real, we deduce that man’s struggle to seek and find God results from the insecure and treacherous nature of mortal mind. However, when this transient sense of mortality takes on a temporary solidity and stability, and appears as a sense of existence in which man may relax and feel at peace, then the struggle for the shore ceases until the melting time comes, as it always does.
This melting sense, or breaking up of the stability of the human, was an early part of Mrs. Eddy’s experience. Matter brought her little else than discomfort, even pain and suffering, nervousness, fear and loss. Because of it, she was driven to the struggle of gaining the “Golden Shore of Love,” Science and Health, page 576; and the fact that she unfolded its existence, can never be separated from her effort to reach it, as far as others following in her footsteps are concerned.
Only when the student understands Mrs. Eddy, can he successfully demonstrate Christian Science as it is intended to be demonstrated, to produce true spiritual growth. The Revelator and the revelation can never be separated. One is the exemplification of the process by which the other is brought to man. The moment Mrs. Eddy is separated from her revelation, man begins to try to live by the revelation alone; but the revelation alone does not expound the process by which man is able to gain the revelation.
If Mrs. Eddy had disclosed the truth of Christian Science and then retired from the scene, her revelation would not have been practical; for an abstract and impersonal doctrine has little practical and permanent value until man is educated to understand it. So Mrs. Eddy was needed as the educator as well as the demonstrator. Revelation includes the great knowledge of God, but it needs to be practiced in order to have disclosed the human footsteps necessary to reach Him. It declares the great fact that this “Golden Shore of Love” does exist and that man can reach it. But does it, however, unfold the human application of the revelation necessary to gain that Shore? No! As an impersonal revelation, it reveals the spiritual facts of being, which show man that there is no evil in existence, that there never has been and never will be. It describes how God and His idea fills all space, always has and always will, and that the belief in a power apart from God is an illusion, which keeps man from the recognition of the allness of God.
But on page 252 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes, “A knowledge of error and its operations must precede that understanding of Truth which destroys error, . . .” Hence, one of the byproducts of revelation is, that as it is applied to the human problem, it begins to unfold the orderly process of separating the belief in a human cause, with everything that flows from that cause, from the divine cause and its infinite manifestation. Herein we discover Mrs. Eddy’s gift, which she has left to us as our rich heritage. It is possible to impersonalize Mrs. Eddy’s revelation and leave her out, but such a crime would leave mankind in their old darkness, because, when it comes to the practical knowledge and demonstration of the process by which mortals must first empty their mental channels of the false mind and its manifestation, in order that these pipes may be refilled with the divine Mind, the golden oil spoken of in the fourth chapter of Zechariah, the study and understanding of Mrs. Eddy’s own experience constitute an integral and necessary part of this work.
While Mrs. Eddy’s great contribution to humanity was her reflection of divine inspiration, as perpetuated in her published writings, her individual gift to the world was the demonstration of her revelation, as it is expressed in her life. Mrs. Eddy’s contribution and gift go hand in hand, are equal in importance, and must not be separated.
On page 52 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy calls the Master “the best man that ever trod the globe.” Does not this appraisal conflict with this rebuke of the one who called him good Master, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God?”
Jesus knew that he was good, and yet, he rebuked one who called him good. However, this goodness lay in the ability to reflect and manifest God; whereas, the only true goodness is what man reflects from God, which is never man nor in man. Notwithstanding this fact, man’s ability to make of himself a channel for the divine Mind, comes under the head of goodness. Our dilemma is solved, when we perceive that it is really the goodness of method versus that of results, one of which belongs to man and the other to God.
Jesus recognized that the appreciation which he received, was for what he was able to do for them, and not for the fact that he exhibited a method which he had learned from God, and which he followed out consistently. The fruitage that he brought into being, was the result of his struggle to obey implicitly the rules God had revealed to him. He recognized how necessary it was, to turn man’s thought away from what he reflects, to how he reflects it, attributing one to God and the other to man. Only in this way can the comprehension come, that the results of demonstration proceed from a process that is demonstrable and understandable.
Until appreciation is transferred from results to method, man does not accept the possibility of his following in the Revelator’s footsteps. When man does gain the right perspective, he will realize that Science and Health sets forth a doctrine which any man, woman, or child may demonstrate, and which makes them a channel for the divine power. At this point, it is well to keep in mind, however, that it is always divine power, or good, that should be man’s objective, not the human transformation into that which is called physical healing. Hence, in Christian Science, the effort is to emphasize, not the wonderful things which Mrs. Eddy or her followers have accomplished and are accomplishing, but the wonderful things which God can do, when man makes of himself a channel for the operation of this infinite good.
One might call a faucet which pours forth refreshing waters good, but this term would be a misnomer. If the faucet is held to be the source of the water, that recognition would omit the great reservoir, considering either that it did not exist or else that it was unnecessary. If, however, the water that comes from the reservoir is good, that does not make the faucet good. The only thing for which the faucet may be called good, is for functioning properly with the greatest degree of openness, being connected with the reservoir, and permitting the water to flow freely through it.
This point might be clarified, if it were possible to have two words, both of which meant good, one being applied to the water and the other to the fact that the faucet is open to the flow of water. Nevertheless, these two can never be separated. Both the Master and Mrs. Eddy were channels for the divine Mind. Yet, the good that flows from God through the channel is always impersonal. It is the uniting of the open channel to the infinite source that brings God’s goodness to man. Thus, the Master’s name was Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, or Jesus, the Christ. This term designates the impersonal good that came through a good man. In her sermon, Christian Healing, page 3, Mrs. Eddy writes, “Therefore Christ Jesus was an honorary title; it signified a ‘good man,’ which epithet the great goodness and wonderful works of our Master more than merited.”
Jesus represented the process by which man is able to reflect the Christ, or God, impersonal good. Hence, you can never separate Jesus and Christ. In this age, Mrs. Eddy represented this duality; and, hence, Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science are names that can never be separated, without breaking up the spiritual continuity of her revelation and her personal demonstration of it.
If the tendency should arise to attribute to Mrs. Eddy the good she reflected, as if it were something natural to her and part of her, that would correspond to the above error of naming the faucet as the source of the water, and ignoring the reservoir. Mrs. Eddy never put forth one iota of real good, until she had acquired the spiritual ability to reflect God. Then what she reflected was good, because it was God. It was the Word made flesh that dwelt among us.
Mrs. Eddy hoped that her students would always put a right understanding of her ahead of blind loyalty and human appreciation. Otherwise, she foresaw that they might attribute her goodness to her and thus make it personal, a special dispensation from God. Nevertheless, this very error was what put the world in darkness in regard to the Master.
The volunteer fireman who hears the call of the fire bell first, and lives nearest to the house that is afire, reaches the blaze first. Yet, the call is sent out impersonally. In this illustration, goodness would reside in each man equally, if goodness meant the desire to respond. However, that goodness first becomes expressed through the one who reaches the need first and meets it.
The call of the divine law is impersonal, but it is heard first by the one in whom goodness has worn through materiality. Mrs. Eddy, who was like a caged bird fretting to free herself, was called of God, but the call was for all; and down through the centuries, there have been many naturally good in the world who have heard this call. It was not her goodness alone that caused her to hear Truth speaking. It was her goodness, combined with her experience on the material side, her withdrawal from matter, because of what it offered: sickness, suffering, restriction, limitation.
If children have enough toys in a room to amuse them, they will not test the lock on the door, but take it for granted it is locked, because they heard the key turn. If the human door may be said to have a lock, it is on the inside. Yet mortal man does not even try to see if the door is unlocked, until the toys in the room cease to entertain.
The belief that the door is locked on the outside may be said to be the lie about the lie. The belief that mortals have unwittingly locked themselves in, is the truth about the lie. The truth about the Truth, that handles the situation, is the scientific realization that there is no door, no lock, no persons outside to do harm intentionally, or inside, to do it inadvertently to themselves or to others. God’s gift to man is freedom, and in reality he has this now. This gift is inviolate and can never be taken from him.
Mrs. Eddy was animated both by her love for good and her dissatisfaction with what earth had to offer her. She was by no means satisfied with the price she had to pay, as compared with what she received, in allowing herself to be placed under the domination of mortal mind. As she once said, “Mortal mind has not been kind enough to me to make me want to loiter in it.”
Mrs. Eddy could not be called good in the spiritual sense of that word, until she discovered Christian Science. Up to that time, her goodness covered all that she did to prepare herself to reflect the only real goodness that is God. Her sense of goodness alone did not make her a channel for God. She also needed to taste the bitterness of mortal belief, to the point where she struggled to throw it off. Thus her reaching out, and her throwing off, finally brought the influx of revelation which is destined to save the world.
Thus, when Mrs. Eddy’s name is linked with Christian Science, it points both to the immaculate goodness of God, and to the openness of the revelator, through whom, in this age, the things of God flowed in to man, as they did to the Saviour of old, the difference being that today, by being inscribed in a book, they have been made practical, usable and clear, so that all who will, may study and follow them.