From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Early History
At one time, Mrs. Eddy carefully dictated to me a considerable amount of her history which I recorded word for word. She never indicated what I should do with it; but I have carefully preserved it, and shall include here such parts as illustrate the guidance of God in her experience.
The following she spoke of under the heading, “Wisdom from God: ”
Three of the brightest lawyers, Walker, Streeter and Elder, were engaged when she applied for a charter for her Church and it was refused. The only way to get it, was by curtailing her religious liberty and come under prescribed religious methods; this she refused to do. Walker and the others said, “No more can be done.” Mother said, “I will trust God. He will show me the way.” She set Walker to work looking up authorities. Finally, she sent Mrs. Sargent to see him. He was fairly buried in his books, but he said, “Hurrah! I have found where a Methodist Church got a charter for business purposes.” So the charter was obtained. After the church was built, it was decided that it would be best to get a regular charter; but the lawyers advised that the old charter must be given up first. Mother said: “If you give it up, you lose the charter; you will get no other and lose the Church.” The lawyers fought her, the Board of Directors fought also, but she stuck to it, and later, after the new charter was obtained, both Elder and Streeter wrote a letter, which was in her possession at the time I was with her, which said that she was right. They had found out, that if they had given up the old charter first, they would have been lost.
To gain her charter, it was necessary for Mrs. Eddy to appear before the faculty of Harvard College. With one exception, she was the only woman present. When it was time for her to arise, one of her students, an M.D. said, “Do not be frightened.” She turned and said, “I am not frightened.” He himself was so frightened that he almost fainted. The question, “For what purpose do you wish a charter?” was put to her. She replied, “Gentlemen, I do not know. God has not unfolded that to me yet; but He has led me thus far, and I can trust Him. He will unfold it to you, gentlemen.” They all bowed their heads. The sincerity of our Leader was such, that it convinced the most skeptical.
Prior to the hearing, President Elliott had read Science and Health and had thrown it aside, saying, “Only a woman or a fool could have written that.” At the hearing, she referred to that comment, saying, “Yes, only a woman or a fool could have, for only a woman would have laid herself on the altar, and only a fool, knowing what she would have to meet, would have done it.”
No mesmerism had any power over Mrs. Eddy. Arens, a renegade student, hired a noted European mesmerist, who was, in fact, the head of a certain school, to come to Boston to mesmerize Mrs. Eddy. He attended one of her Sunday services for that purpose. In the middle of the sermon, God said to Mrs. Eddy, “That man needs your help.” So she preached right at him, thinking that he was a sinner. His head dropped and he did not lift it again. After the service, when going out, he was overheard to say, “No man can mesmerize that woman.”
Mrs. Eddy said that God made her write everything in Science and Health over five times, and the Lord’s Prayer, as spiritually interpreted, forty times. I have often pondered this statement. If Christian Science was a revelation from God, why was a revision or repetition of this kind a necessity? It was a revelation from God, but, through the development of Mrs. Eddy’s thought, it reached, in its human expression, a higher and higher state of perfection in phraseology and adaptability to the human need. One might have the principle of radio broadcasting and reception revealed to him, and yet, in setting forth this principle to be read, understood, and demonstrated by others, in as clear and usable form as possible, in order that no misunderstanding might occur, there must be a period of developing skill which culminates in that textbook best adapted for the general need.