Chapter One Hundred Nine
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Mrs. Eddy’s Reflection of the Christ
If the student, reading these lines, feels tempted to believe that I have overstressed the fact, that Mrs. Eddy occasionally lost her spiritual thought, and descended into the valley, he must acquaint himself with the great lesson this teaches of the impersonal nature of the Christ-idea, and of the possibility of anyone embodying it, then, at times, seeming to lose sight of it, in order to prove that it is an impersonal and universal idea.
If copper and silver are mixed, one cannot be detected separate from the other. If, on the other hand, the copper merely has a coating of silver, the difference between the two can be easily demonstrated.
When, in the course of history, one appears who embodies the Christ, there arises the temptation to believe, that that one’s goodness and nearness to God is a development, instead of a reflection. If it is a development, one’s success is problematical. If it is reflection, then all who make the necessary preparation, may reflect the same goodness and power. Thus the teachings of such a one are universally applicable, practical, and available.
Hence, a pen-picture of the Master, or of Mrs. Eddy, which discloses an uninterrupted embodiment of the Christ, creates the impression, that it is a development which could not possibly be separated from either. On the other hand, when one knows that at times Mrs. Eddy seemed to lose the Christ, and afterward recovered it, he has proof that the spiritual idea was the consciousness she reflected, and not a possession she developed. This discovery could be made only through her being temporarily separated from this spiritual idea and, under such circumstances, having her differ from other mortals in no other respect, than in her ability to regain that Christ-idea and maintain it. Jesus went down from the mountain, and then reclimbed it.
No one can reach the point of being a perfect channel for the divine Mind, without rejecting any sense of selfreliance. It is through the loss of human strength that one is forced to seek a reflected strength. The conception of a student of Christian Science who can lose the Christ, or his reflection of God, and still maintain his mental poise, is not a scientific one.
What would the Master have been, stripped of his reflection of God? We are forced to the conclusion that he would have been a man, fearful and nervous, timid and lacking in self-confidence. From this we deduce, that the fearful and nervous patient, who comes to Christian Science seeking a self-reliance, is asking for that which would be a deterrent to the attainment of true spirituality, since true spirituality demands one to be so unselfed, that he depends on God alone, and without Him, he is lost.
The highest attainment in scientific demonstration which was exemplified by our Leader, is a refusal to lean on one’s self, or to attempt to solve the many problems of life from any human standpoint. The true preparation for spiritual reflection, is to relinquish all reliance based on the human. When I affirm that Mrs. Eddy had no physical strength or health, and was forced to depend entirely upon God, I am simply saying, that the students at Pleasant View had the opportunity to see what happens to one functioning under God, when that one loses, for the moment, that reflection of God. Mrs. Eddy furnished a perfect picture of what a perfect channel for God is, without God. She showed what the channel is, without what flows through it. For her to show this, was as much a necessity for the growth of her students, as any other part of her experience. When she reflected God, she was strong, dominant, vigorous and serene. When she did not, she had nothing. Nobody can ever know how our Leader felt when she momentarily lost hold of God, until they have become the perfect channel, that she was, for the things of God. Who will doubt the divine wisdom, guiding our Leader, which brought to the students not only the picture of our Leader reflecting God, but as this perfect channel temporarily without God?
Mrs. Eddy’s mission was to discard materiality as the expression of mortal mind, and possess herself of the divine Mind that had always been in existence, of which the Master said in substance, “It existed before Abraham, ” or “Before Abraham was, I am. ” The Mind which Jesus reflected, and which represented his real selfhood, was as old as God, because it was God. In order to be clothed in this Mind, he resorted to the process of rejecting his material selfhood in thought and action, repudiating the Jesus and exalting the thought of the Christ within himself. He permitted himself to be maligned and persecuted up to the crucifixion, rather than relinquish the continuity of his thought, which was based on his recognition of the Christ as his real self, the self which he always had possessed, and always would possess, and of which nothing could deprive him. Even though worms destroyed his body, he could still perceive the spiritual idea or Christ, embodied within himself.
The Christ in the Master might be likened to an asbestos suit which would render one safe in a fire. The enemies of the one wearing such a suit, being informed of its protective characteristics, would bend all their energies to persuade or force him to remove it. Similarly, the object of all animal magnetism, operative at that time, was to separate Jesus from the Christ, and to cause him to release his consciousness of the unity between him and the Christ. This he refused to do.
If this life to which he referred when he said, “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again, ” is the true Life from heaven, then his statement unfolds the impersonal nature of the Christ, which, because it was something he reflected, would cease to be his when his thought dropped.
How valuable to the student is the knowledge that, at times, Mrs. Eddy’s reflection of the Christ became clouded! Such times must be recorded and emphasized, because from them may be deduced the necessity for, and method of, neutralizing the animal magnetism that attempted, and still attempts, to render her teachings null and void, by characterizing the reflection of Christ as a special and personal dispensation.
The protection, or asbestos suit, that carried Jesus safely through the crucifixion, was his demonstration of divine Mind. Thus, it was not Jesus that was tested, but the Christ. From this we learn that if, in hours of trial, we cling to that Mind, it will do for us what it did for the Master, carry us through safely and without harm.