From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
The True Service Required by Our Leader
One of the fundamental teachings of Christian Science is, that hidden in man, as his most precious and yet least appreciated possession, is the gift of God, man’s underlying spiritual nature. No human imagination can compass the lasting joy, the permanent peace that flows from the development of this unseen seed of Truth, that is, unseen to the material senses. Yet the illusive pleasures and anticipations, which mortal belief holds before the mesmerized gaze of mankind, compete successfully with this heavenly rapture, until disillusionment in the human causes man to look hopelessly at his lost opportunities, and to reach out, as did the prodigal son, for the chance to return to his Father’s house.
Mary Baker Eddy, chasing the shadows of intellect, false religion and education, through a screen of almost continuous ill health, finally turned to the unseen, as her only escape from a purely human destiny. Under her cherishing hand, was unfolded a spiritual receiver within herself, through which the voice of God brought wisdom, power and love. At that point, her search in the chaos of human phenomena was forever ended, for the infallible voice of wisdom became her only guide. From then on, her dominant problem was purely to keep this spiritual receptor in operation. This brought the necessity for her to detect the deterrent called evil, or animal magnetism, and its subtle operations, which have for an object either to blind man to the existence of a spiritual nature, or else to engulf that nature, when discovered, in a purely human sense. This error constituted the only enemy against which she had to wage a persistent warfare. It revealed the truth of the Biblical statement, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” This discovery came, because she had only a few faithful students who understood the fact that her real needs were mental and not physical, and who realized, that as long as the inflow of Truth overbalanced the inflow of that belief called error, this right balance of thought brought out progress, healing, spiritual development, and the unerring guidance of God.
In her work, Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy has written, “The demands of God appeal to thought only.” Because it was the demand of God in her, correctly fulfilled, that established our great Cause, the real support she demanded of her students, was what came from their spiritually awakened thought, applied to providing an atmosphere in which the Spirit of God could dwell. No outward human service weighed against this spiritual support. Whatever human service was rendered Mrs. Eddy in her home, by way of the care of her house, her clothes, food, etc., was acceptable to her, and made for her mental freedom, only when it was the manifestation of demonstration and spiritual love.
As we study the changes in her life, her steps from fear to fearlessness, from sickness to health, from discouragement to a divine confidence, we find that the record of her outward life has little scientific value and is apt to start controversy, except as it traces for the student the operation of that error that dogged her footsteps, as it does those of any onward-marching pilgrim, as he endeavors to maintain a scientific connection with God. This study will aid the student in uncovering the difficulties encountered in attempting to feed his spiritual nature, which can be starved more easily than the physical body would waste away through lack of food.
The whole sum and substance of Mrs. Eddy’s teaching which she gave to her students, was that it was exactness of mind, rather than matter, that she required and hoped for. She looked at the exactness of matter, only as the outward proof, that the students were furnishing mentally and spiritually, that which the home needed to make it a house of prayer.
The true history of Mrs. Eddy is the record, first, of the development of those footsteps by which her human thought threw off materiality, a struggle which started through suffering and human dissatisfaction. Then came the discovery in her of the spiritual nature, and its consequent development, which provided a permanent substitute for the things of the flesh given up, and the selfprotection of that spiritual wisdom that unfolds the operation of evil, as it destroys it. This history is a true wayshowing, and, when properly followed, leads us to the place where God becomes the Teacher and source of the true bread from heaven, and where man has awakened to perceive his possibilities as an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ.
Once, after Mrs. Eddy had delivered a stirring rebuke to the students, at a time when their best effort was vitally needed, she remarked that it seemed a pity to touch the whip to a pair of fine horses who were struggling, as best they could, to draw a load up a hill; yet, that flick of the whip would cause them to exert the extra ounce of effort needed to reach the top of the hill, where they could rest. Hence, such a use of the whip was kindness and love, not cruelty; wisdom and guidance, not ignorance. Mrs. Eddy often used this whip of loving rebuke and, when the lesson was learned, the students recognized the wisdom that prompted her, as well as the love.
Nevertheless, such is the perversity of human nature, that a misunderstanding of this at times produced fear and discouragement in the minds of some students, which prevented them from taking fearless footsteps, lest they call down her criticism, not recognizing her wise use of the Master’s revealed wisdom, as stated in John 15:2, “Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
Today, even with our Leader not present, we have the same prod or whip with us, as embodied in the censure of other members of the organization. Even if those who offer criticism so freely, have not the same Christly motive back of it that she had, yet we can use their whip to drive us to a more determined effort in our handling of error and our demonstration of Truth, as well as in gaining a more Christlike attitude of mind. Thus shall the wrath of man praise Him, for if we have gone to sleep, we can wake up; if we are doing well, we can do still better. If the censure is unjust, we thereby discover what animal magnetism is endeavoring to fasten on us. Furthermore, we learn that whatever forces growth and drives man to God, is a true friend.