Chapter One Hundred one
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Mrs. Eddy Recognized the Needs of Mankind
One reason why I have felt led to write this exposition of our Leader, is so that those who read it may gain a recognition of the importance and necessity of understanding Mrs. Eddy and her teaching, together with some of the footsteps which she took in improving its expression to a point of clarity, where no misunderstanding would be possible.
As an example, there are those who, having made a research into the earliest writings of our Leader, her manuscripts and the first edition of Science and Health, have discovered certain statements which they have taken as authority for instructing young students to say, “I am God.” The fallacy of this interpretation lies in the fact, that Mrs. Eddy herself recognized that some of her declarations made in the early days were susceptible of misunderstanding and misuse. So, she was divinely guided to change these statements, that they might be better adapted for study and application.
This discussion is intended in no way to imply that what Mrs. Eddy stated in her early writings was untrue. It is not a question of the truth of the statements, but of their use. A correct statement may become wrong, if used wrongly. Christian Scientists are very apt to state that all is Mind; whereas a more correct statement is, that all is Mind and its infinite manifestation. When they declare that all is Mind, that is not correct, since, strictly speaking, the manifestation of God is never God. It is God and His expression. The expression of Mind is Mind in quality, but not in quantity. It is a difference of degree. Hence the affirmation, “I am God,” might be true spiritually from the standpoint of quality, since the only “I” is God; but it is not true from the standpoint of quantity. Therefore, when employed in scientific practice, it becomes dangerous. In the first edition of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes, on page 156, “. . . but the shocking audacity that calls itself God, and yet demonstrates only erring mortality, surprises us!”
Mrs. Eddy was spiritually wise enough to recognize the needs of mankind and her students. Let us quote her words in proof of this assertion on page 237 of Miscellany, “What I wrote on Christian Science some twenty-five years ago I do not consider a precedent for a present student of this Science.” This does not state that her earlier writings were unscientific, but that they were not expressed in words which were universally adaptable or understandable. In the solemn footsteps that man must take in claiming his divine selfhood, not one jot nor tittle of the spiritual law can be set aside. What advancing revelation may unfold to the individual cannot be determined, but from the standpoint of present practice, what Mrs. Eddy set forth in the last edition of her textbook, that man is God’s perfect reflection, is the correct statement for all students and will cover every need.
On April 22, 1903, when Mrs. Eddy was planning a Concordance, she wrote as follows to the compiler: “My ‘last changes of Science and Health’ may continue so long as I read the book! But I will stop now and you may finish the Concordance immediately. Owing to the fact that this book should unfold in proportion as my thought grasps the spiritual idea more clearly, so as to voice it more simply and thus settle many queries, I have wished I had not commenced a Concordance, but had had an index attached to Science and Health.“