Chapter One Hundred Seven
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Mrs. Eddy Discarded Quimbyism
The effort to discredit our Leader, by declaring that she appropriated her ideas from Mr. P. P. Quimby, is a despicable attempt to nullify her great life-work. It only requires a little clarifying of the mental atmosphere to recognize the truth about the situation, and often the best method of accomplishing this, is fearlessly to admit the claim of error long enough to analyze it and give it the lie.
Let us suppose for a moment that Phineas Quimby, the magnetic healer of Portland, Maine, did provide Mary Baker Eddy with the foundation upon which she built up the great structure of Christian Science, since this is the charge made against our Leader. What would be the situation today, if it were true?
As far as can be determined, Quimby was impelled by no universal motive that was carrying him on to the establishment of a great Cause, which would benefit all humanity. His limited vision could not compass such a desire. On the other hand, Mrs. Eddy was animated by a conception that had for its purpose a world-wide redemption of the race. Hence, even if she had appropriated Quimby’s doctrines, she would deserve the credit for constructing them into a form which made them universally available.
Alexander Graham Bell was not, strictly speaking, the inventor of the telephone. The ideas, which he perfected, were discovered before he made them practical. Yet the credit for the invention of the telephone belongs to him, because he was the first to perfect it, to make it available for all mankind, and to make it feasible. This is what entitles him to his place in the hall of fame.
Hence, even if historians should convince themselves that the evidence proves, that Quimby first set forth the doctrines upon which Mrs. Eddy built, what great difference would it make, since she was the one who adapted them, so that they became practical and universal?
Mrs. Eddy’s experience with Quimby might thus be described in allegory: A man travels west as a pioneer, intending to create a community that would form the nucleus of a new state. In the very place he has proposed to settle, he finds another who has preceded him; one who is merely a wanderer, and has happened there by accident. Circumstances make it convenient for these two to associate together for a time, sharing supplies and water. But, inevitably, the time arrives when the wanderer, who is one with no plans and no objective, journeys on. The pioneer, however, remains behind, upheld by a vision that is leading him to certain definite purposes and results.
Similarly, Mrs. Eddy was exploring a new and uncharted country, the realm of mind-healing, and, in her journeyings, encountered Quimby and several others, who had wandered there before her. Although they could not describe how they arrived there, and hence, could not guide others there, yet, for a time, there existed a sympathy and an interchange of ideas between them. However, of them all, Mrs. Eddy was the only one with a true vision, with a broad outlook, and the only one to carry her discovery above the human mind into the divine. Quimby never ceased to heal with the human mind. His doctrine and Mrs. Eddy’s seem alike only to those who cannot differentiate between the Mind of God and mortal mind. Quimby’s mental flights never carried him above what Christian Science shows to have been mesmerism, nor did Mrs. Eddy’s, while she was associated with him. To be sure, Quimby’s utilization of mind over matter in healing was a step in advance of matter healing, but it is a far cry from this manipulation of the human mind, to the understanding of the divine Mind as the sole remedy for the woes of man. Yet, the step of translating matter into mortal mind is one that must be taken, before this mortal mind can be exchanged for the divine Mind.
The terminology employed in describing the power and effect of mind, where the human mind is referred to, must necessarily resemble the unfoldment of mind where the divine Mind is involved. The expressions and statements may be similar, but their utilization is as far apart as the poles. This reasoning may account for the contention, that some of Mr. Quimby’s propositions entered into the revelation of Christian Science.
Let us suppose that, in the early 1870’s, Mrs. Eddy was teaching some of Quimby’s ideas. There is no doubt that Quimby had an influence upon her, as she did on him. On the other hand, it is equally patent to students of Christian Science, that whatever of such doctrines were disseminated by Mrs. Eddy, had to be eliminated, before Christian Science could be proclaimed in all its purity. Mr. Quimby’s only effect upon Mrs. Eddy was an adulteration of her discovery, and these false concepts, of necessity, had to be entirely expunged. If Mr. Quimby started Mrs. Eddy on the road to mental healing, he started her wrong, with mixed and jumbled ideas. She had to cast out all this confusion, this setting forth of mind on a material basis, before the purity of spiritual revelation could flood in.
Mrs. Eddy’s own words best explain her experience: “Homeopathy was my last step in medicine, and Quimbyism was next in healing; but here I found not Christianity; yet I lauded his courage in believing that mind made disease, that mind healed disease. Here my loosened pinions took upward flight, and I lauded Phineas P. Quimby as an advanced thinker, and healer, with my native superfluity of praise, when praise was due. Yet I lacked something, the one thing needed, and my health again declined. Then came the accident and injury called fatal, and the Bible healed me, and from Quimbyism to the Bible was like turning from Leviticus to St. John in the Scripture, and I forever dropped the thought that he had given; even that the mind, and human, made disease and healed it, and gained the great rediscovery that God is the only Healer, and healing Principle, and this Principle is divine, not human. The remnants of Quimbyism took flight forever, and I struggled to wipe out all remaining faith in the power of human will to enslave me, or to deceive me into a false freedom. Turning from Quimby to the Bible for help in time of trouble, was more marked than turning from matter to Spirit, from Leviticus to St. John in the Scriptures for the way of salvation.”