From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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The Spirit Versus the Letter
Mrs. Eddy once gave the students the following statements regarding her father and brother: “My brother George was not a religious man, and it troubled my father who was religious; when George was on his dying bed, my father asked him to accept Christ. George said, during the intervals of labored breathing, ‘I have always done as near right as I knew how, the rest I leave with God’. George awakened in heaven, and my father awakened disappointed, after passing on.” How could Mrs. Eddy make such a statement as this?
If reality is infinite progression, then heaven would be the realization of right progress. If this was not true, then heaven would be attainment, which would be stagnation. Heaven, therefore, must be infinite progression and reflection.
Mrs. Eddy’s father, Mark Baker, belonged to the old school of religion, which held that profession and outward confession of faith, rather than the actual life of a man, where he does the best he knows how, constitute the fulfilment of the demands of God. Thus, George, who tried to do the best he could, had the true spirit, whereas the father relied on the letter as the most important thing. George lived a life of kindliness and helpfulness, according to his highest sense of good; hence, in passing, he would find continued growth, which would be a continuation of what he started here. Since heaven, as we understand it, is right progress on the journey from sense to Soul, George would find, at least to some degree, heaven, or continued spiritual progress. On the other hand, because the father believed in high-sounding assertions, as constituting spirituality and the fulfilment of the demands of God, he would be disappointed after passing on, because he would discover he had been on the wrong track, with many footsteps to retrace. Analysis shows, that right doing usually comes from love, whereas right talking, that does not take form in right doing, is apt to come from pride.