From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Mrs. Eddy’s Reflection of Divine Power
I have written of the fact that when our Leader was in need, she would permit one of her students to work with her. When I was called to her room for this exalted task, instead of listening with criticism to my infant lispings of her doctrine, and measuring the great gulf that lay between my understanding and hers, she would use everything that I said, as something to help her to get her thought back to its accustomed spiritual ascendancy. She would climb back to her normal heights of spiritual power and clarity, on the ladder provided by my meagre spiritual consciousness.
What evidence this was of humility in our Leader! How like the Master she was, when he said to the woman of Samaria, “Give me to drink! ” Mrs. Eddy did not think, “This young student knows so little, that he cannot possibly help me. ” She would gladly accept any spark of spiritual thought that I might be able to furnish her at such time, and use it as a light to illumine her footsteps back to her normal place of divine dominion. When such disturbing periods assailed our Leader, all she expected of a student was what he might be able to do to resurrect her thinking. No matter what the physical manifestation might be, she knew that it was her thinking that had been tampered with. Hence, the re-establishment of her spiritual thought, and nothing else, was what concerned her.
It was not a simple matter to be summoned by our Leader, and be instructed to give an audible Christian Science treatment. Usually, at such times, the arguments I voiced, embodied the declaration that service for God always provides its own protection. I would declare that she was the way-shower for this age, that nothing could prevent her from fulfilling her divine destiny, and that she knew it. I asserted vehemently, that puny interference could never stop her from reflecting the infinite power that was putting divine destiny into action and expression, nor prevent God from establishing His Truth on earth through her.
I reiterated that she was the servant of God, establishing His Cause in the world, and that He would protect her. I told her that if we were faithful, we were accumulating oil in our lamps, that would sustain us through the dark hours. Noah was faithful in building his ark, and it preserved him when the terror of animal magnetism swept over the earth.
The Bible states that bread cast upon the waters returns to us after many days. This verse affirms the metaphysical application and fulfilment of the spiritual consciousness which every Christian Scientist endeavors to build up each day. As a result, this faithful storing of spiritual oil in the lamp of consciousness, will keep his light burning, during the hours of darkness.
The consciousness of God’s love and care must be accumulated by every student of Christian Science during those times, when there seems to be no great need. Then, when the waters of mortal mind seem to rage, he will be sustained.
Thus, the conviction for which Mrs. Eddy hungered at such times, was that it was her divine destiny to bring good to humanity, that the power of God was impelling her to fulfill it, and that she was entitled to do it because of her consistent faithfulness. Therefore, how could the futile suggestions of envy, jealousy, hatred, revenge, for one moment stop the onward march of God through her into the world? Such arguments would provide the foothold her thought needed in time of stress. Once her mental equilibrium was restored, however, she required no further help from anyone, since she was once more God’s spiritual representative in command.
There are three stages in which man finds himself, in going from the human mind to the divine Mind; and it is important that they be understood. The first stage is where man discovers himself equipped with a positive attitude of mind, utilizing the power of the human will to make his way in the world. If, in this stage, man’s faith in himself does not weaken for any reason, he may proceed a great distance in whatever branch of human endeavor he selects to follow. After a while, however, no matter how skilfully, intelligently or fearlessly he may employ this instrument called the human mind, yet, because it is faulty and limited, what he is able to attain through its means does not satisfy, nor bring that happiness and contentment which he was tricked into believing it would.
The next stage of experience might be called a negative one; for in it, man has abandoned any desire for, or belief in, attainment through the human mind. Even if he gets into physical or financial difficulties, he refuses to rehabilitate himself through human means and methods. The slogan on his banner reads, “I will perish rather than utilize any other help than that which comes from the divine source.” In this receptive state of mind, man, in deep humility, prays that the divine power may flow into him, and that he may be thoroughly imbued with this spiritual inspiration.
This second stage is a valuable and necessary one in Christian Science. Yet, through it, man fails to achieve any constructive good, unless he takes the next step, which is to gain the recognition that, having attained this influx of divine Mind, he is elevated from the status of a pleader, or a recipient, to that of a representative of God, where he once more finds himself in a state of mind that might be called positive and authoritative. The difference between the first and third states of growth, however, is that he is now utilizing the divine Mind, instead of its human counterfeit. In it, he recognizes and exercises the divine authority that God has given him.
In this third stage, man no longer kneels in submission and begs God to point out the way, because he knows that he has within himself, by reflection, that divine Mind which equips him with power and understanding, so that evil cannot block his progress. With the access of divine Mind, also comes the impossibility of exercising this Mind erroneously or selfishly. It has only one possible employment, the spiritual enrichment of one’s self and all mankind.
It was remarkable to see how dominant our Leader was. In fact, were it not that Mrs. Eddy utilized this dominant sense solely for spiritual purposes, to bless and to bring out the highest ultimate good, one might have judged her a strong-minded person, armed with an inflexible human will. The error of a so-called strong-minded character, wielding the human will, is the fact that he is employing the wrong tool. The human mind can never give anyone true authority. With it, no-one can ever attain the desirable and permanent things of life. In order to achieve this end, man must discard the human mind and put himself in a receptive attitude, the attitude of prayer, which is a mental aspect of receptivity, whereby man yields up mortal mind and refuses to resort to it, willing rather to suffer than to use it, because he knows that as long as he relies on it, he will never avail himself of the divine Mind. Prayer is the method by which man abandons a faulty tool and lays hold of a correct one. Having fulfilled these requirements, man regains that authority and sovereignty, the consciousness of power that formerly attended his selfish reflection of the human mind, but on a new basis, with a new motive, where it is all used for the glory of God. Under this enlightened regime, man is no longer on his knees to God, but governing the universe as His representative.
The Master ascended to the mountain top when he lost his spiritual power and authority. There, in humility, he prayed all night. With spiritual power wanting, he did not resort to the human will as a substitute, but he went up and yielded, became a suppliant on his knees to God, until the divine Mind surged once more through his spiritual consciousness. The moment he reflected the divine power, his whole thought and life took on the hue of that infinite power, and he employed it to deprive all other assumptions of power of any reality, origin or purpose.
Those who lived with Mrs. Eddy, recognized in her this consciousness of spiritual power. It was only when she temporarily lost this spiritual dominion, that she went up into the mountain and again became a petitioner. At such times, she seemed to be just an elderly lady. Often this would cause her to seek help from a student. She would turn as a suppliant to any channel God offered, in order to reawaken that spiritual inflow. The moment it started, everything was reversed; for, instead of being a receiver from, she became a giver to, her students. To see Mrs. Eddy, as she was normally, was to understand why the efforts of any student to help her seemed infantile. More than anything else, she impressed me as a spiritual force. There was nothing of the suppliant in her thought; but, when she temporarily lost that dominion, everything was changed. She was like a great airplane when the propellers stop. You cannot imagine such frail blades having the power to maintain the great ship miles in the air. But, when they are revolving once again, then you respect their potentialities. When Mrs. Eddy lost sight of her consciousness of spiritual authority, it would seem unbelievable that the mighty driving force of spiritual wisdom and activity, which she reflected, could ever have emanated from her. Yet, when she retrieved it, you forgot the woman, in the greatness of what she reflected. This consciousness of dominion is not a receiving attitude of mind, to be sure, although it is one which acts upon what it has received. It is only through seeing her in this spiritual altitude, that one should feel that he has a true conception of our beloved Leader.