Chapter One Hundred Eight
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Click here to play the audio as you read:
Infinite Exactness of Demonstration
The inability to trace from effect back to cause, subjects mortal man to continual bondage. When man does gain this ability, he will commence the great task of seeing God back of all outward effects, and thereby attain true spiritual progress.
As long as there are any sheep separated from a flock, the herders must seek them and drive them back into the flock. This is a necessary task, but it involves no general progress for the whole flock. Not until the flock is intact, can the herders undertake the task of moving the whole ahead to better pasture.
As long as man is manifesting claims of sin, disease, or lack, he is not ready for spiritual progress. First, his thought must be reinstated to normalcy, and then progress can begin. The spiritual work that a man does in sickness, is preparatory work. But, when it is completed, progress commences. If, then, healing the sick in Christian Science is not spiritual progress, but mental preparation, of what does mental preparation consist? Is it not the effort to establish the presence of the divine Mind in the universe, the effort to establish God as the cause of every outward effect? It is replacing the human mind with the divine. Following this preparatory step, comes the commencement of the process which not only harmonizes matter, but begins its elimination from the individual’s experience.
This discussion serves further to prove the great wisdom that Mrs. Eddy displayed in her insistence, that the students handle everything from the standpoint of demonstration. Assiduously, she endeavored to wean them from the notion, that the effort to restore mortal mind to what would be called its normal or natural condition constitutes spiritual growth. It is not spiritual progress, but preparation for spiritual progress. It is the effort to bring the lost sheep back into the fold, which, when accomplished, indicates that the whole flock is ready to proceed to a more desirable destination. Similarly, to Mrs. Eddy, spiritual growth in its true signification, was a consistent struggle to subject every part of this human experience to demonstration, or to the effort to trace from human effect back to human cause, and correct that human cause by replacing it with the divine.
In Ezekiel 40 and 41, there is a vision recorded that describes in detail the measuring of the temple, according to cubits, by a man whose appearance was like that of brass. The minuteness of the description hints at Jesus’ statement, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered,” and explains Mrs. Eddy’s spiritual demonstration in her home, which was based on the recognition, that every created thing has its orderly place as a manifestation of some individual phase of spiritual thought. The Bible depicts the exactness of that which was devoted to the service of God. It shows that, under revelation, all creation becomes the exact manifestation of demonstration, measured according to a scientific plan, and governed by that plan. Similarly, Mrs. Eddy realized that only as everything in her home measured up to the scientific standard of demonstration, which had been revealed to her through Christian Science, would it deserve the designation, a house of God. If the minuteness of the detail, its infinite exactness, seems tiresome and unnecessary to the human mind, that is only because it is ignorant of the spiritual law that “moves all in harmony,— from the falling of a sparrow to the rolling of a world.” Miscellaneous Writings, page 174.
This same mighty spiritual order is referred to in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, where it says that there is a time to break down, a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, etc. It is necessary to comprehend the spiritual meaning of this passage, in order to gain any true insight into the life of our Leader.
No one can ever measure the spiritual importance, value, or necessity of any outward experience or effect, unless he has the insight to determine the quality of the mental cause. Under the government of divine wisdom, it is impossible for a man or woman to exhibit any such phenomena as those included in the above contrasts, that are not important in the eventual spiritualization of that God-directed one. Every human experience, planting and plucking up, keeping silence or speaking, making war or creating peace, constitute the ingredients of life which, when they are the result of a spiritual guidance, become necessary in molding the final spiritual ideal.
This discloses the folly of attempting to lay down an arbitrary rule for analyzing our Leader’s life, asserting that it is right to plant and wrong to pluck up, right to sew and wrong to rend, etc. It is impossible to judge character or motive in this way, by outward effect.
The spiritual motive and consciousness never departed from our Leader. At some times it was more evident than at others, but it never deserted her. Hence, every one of her experiences, even those which many loving students have wished had never happened, because they appeared, according to the human standards of good, as evidence of weakness, were necessary and took place irresistibly, by reason of the spiritual thought that dominated her. Each one had its orderly place in her purification and spiritualization. There was a time for everything that happened, which was God’s time. If you had asked Mrs. Eddy, which of her experiences was the most valuable to her in her spiritual development, without doubt she would have named some, which many Christian Scientists have wished had been omitted from her life altogether. Yet, they provided the grit that brought her spiritual window-pane to its highest polish.
Therefore, if one desires to avoid the opprobrium of unjust criticism of our Leader, he must learn causation. Then, and only then, will he avoid the danger of calling objectionable, certain things in her life which were divine necessities, because they were the footsteps resulting from her determination, under the guidance of Spirit, to follow implicitly the demands of God.
If one considers that Mrs. Eddy deserved criticism, because she often rebuked the students for service which was irreproachable from the human standpoint, he must remember, that Mrs. Eddy’s sensitive thought could detect the mortal mind basis of action in her students, that it was this which she rebuked unflinchingly, although the rebuke concerned the outward.
From the experience of the Children of Israel in the wilderness, we can deduce that human existence, which is divided into day and night, the harmonious and the discordant, carries two definite temptations. The effect of the night-time of discord is to produce a fiery or disturbed condition of thought, whereas the effect of the daytime of harmony is to produce a clouded thought. The pillar of cloud constitutes a more dangerous temptation than the pillar of fire. Mrs. Eddy recognized, that a sense of mental cloudiness in human harmony was more serious than the fear and disturbance accompanying discord, since the latter was accompanied by its own urge to spiritual effort; whereas, under the cloudy sense of ease, a sharp rebuke was imperative to awaken thought.
This point is illustrated by a beautiful scarf pin which was given to me by our Leader. It was a large lustrous pearl, surrounded by diamonds.
It seemed a fiery blow to me when I lost this pin. Yet, through that loss, I was driven to make the demonstration to realize that, although I might lose the human symbol, the symbol could be duplicated; whereas the loving spiritual thought of which the gift was merely the human expression, could never be lost. And truly, the divine sense of inspiration which our Leader gave me, has remained a perpetual source of joy and guidance down through the years.
I discovered, therefore, that the fiery sense of loss drove me to a higher spiritual demonstration than the placid sense of possession ever would have, and hence, was the greater friend to my spiritual growth.
The following letter accompanied the gift of this pin:
Beloved Gilbert C.S.
Please accept this little gift as a symbol of the priceless divine Love, and my gratitude to you.
Mary Baker Eddy
In reply I wrote:
Mr. Frye has just handed me the beautiful pin and its message of love. It has overwhelmed me to think of your giving to me more, after so freely inviting me and all to share with you the Pearl of great price, that sacred acquirement of self-sacrifice. I can only say, thank you. But I can see in this type, your pure selfhood set in a crown of stars, and by wearing this on my heart, keep a watch over the spiritual idea, through which nothing that worketh evil or that maketh a lie, can enter.
Your child, Gilbert