From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
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Divine Inspiration a Universal Heritage
Research has brought to light evidence, that has been used to try to show that Mrs. Eddy appropriated certain writings of others, and used them as her own. It has been claimed that she gained the germ of her doctrine from Mr. Phineas Quimby, without giving him credit. Critics have pointed to a book of selections from Ruskin, Carlyle, Amiel and Kingsley, as the source of many of the ideas which flowed from Mrs. Eddy’s pen in the opening year of the twentieth century.
In order to sift this matter to the bottom, let us for the moment assume that these critical contentions are provable and, at the same time, show that, instead of detracting from the greatness of Christian Science and its Discoverer, they add to it.
In Christian Science, the divine Mind is described as the Mind that knows all things. Therefore, when two disciples approach this Mind, they must reflect utterances and phrases that are similar, if not identical. Such statements and ideas belong to revelation; and the one who reflects them is entitled to them, providing proper credit is given to God. Otherwise, one could be criticised for plagiarizing from God.
Mrs. Eddy always gave God credit for what came to her, and she proclaimed through divine inspiration. She intended the name Mary Baker Eddy being signed to any published work to signify, this came from God. However, she found many things in the writings of men and women which she recognized as having come from God, without credit being given to Him. Could we not think of her as appropriating some of those ideas, and restoring them to their rightful place, as revelation, or as having God as their Author? The world might accuse her of plagiarism, when, in reality, the error lies at the door of the one who issued such ideas as his or her own, without giving God the glory.
The revelation of inspiration from God to man is so definitely fixed and unique, that the phraseology of allied conceptions is bound to be similar, as they come flooding into the consciousness of those who have reached the source of wisdom. Under those circumstances, the charge of plagiarism is only brought by those who deny the existence of a divine central source of intelligence, and assert that whatever man conceives of, no matter how lofty, is his own invention.
If a group of students should approximate the same state of spiritual growth, their revelations from God would almost coincide. Anyone who writes through inspiration is a plagiarist, unless he reputes his endeavors to God. In giving all credit to the divine Mind, Mrs. Eddy acknowledged that everything she recorded came from God, even though others, in isolated moments of inspiration, might have perceived the same thoughts both before and after her revelation. Therefore, we must brand those persons plagiarists, who do not attribute to God the credit of being the divine source from which they draw.
The evidence of plagiarism in Mrs. Eddy’s experience is plausible only to those who do not understand the Science that governed her. The writing of Science and Health has placed all Christian Scientists on earth today in the dilemma that, whatever they write that is spiritual and inspirational, is plagiarized from Science and Health, since this book is a complete exegesis of the processes of Spirit. Unique as this situation may be, it is so generally acknowledged by students of this textbook, that it is given no more attention than would be the contention that a writer plagiarizes the dictionary, because that volume contains all the words that he could employ.
Every spiritual thought included in the Science of Mind-healing, is to be found in Mrs. Eddy’s writings. Hence, everything that is written today, that is spiritual, borrows from these writings.
Mrs. Eddy’s thought was teeming with spiritual ideas. Her mastery of the mode of expression was evident to me, when she would dictate articles for me to transcribe on the typewriter. She required no help, made no preparation other than opening her thought to God, and found therein an infinite source for ideas. What need, therefore, for plagiarism? We know that, whatever she took from others must have contained flashes of inspiration which had been held to be the invention of man, and she restored such to its rightful place, as belonging wholly to God. Furthermore, it must be recognized that veritable revelation from Truth is always definitely marked with the seal of God, although unillumined thought might honestly believe that plagiarism had taken place, when two individuals advance ideas that are similar and inspirational.
Mrs. Eddy’s designation is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. This dual title embodies two functions of equal importance; to wit, gaining the influx of revelation and resolving it into such a form, that it becomes applicable and understandable to the whole world. Nobody else, even though he might have gained a measure of inspiration, has ever approximated this achievement.
Undoubtedly, the first influx of inspiration to Mrs.Eddy resembled that received by other spiritually-minded individuals. However, she was more like Thomas A. Edison than Benjamin Franklin; for that famous kite-flyer, Franklin, merely proved the existence of that which everyone suspected did exist, whereas Edison adapted electricity in numberless ways that blessed the whole world.
Mrs. Eddy did not discover divine inspiration as an isolated fact, but revealed that it is a universal heritage which is continuous and absolute, and without which man is lost to everything that is real and eternal. Then she disclosed the simple process whereby man may gain a modicum of inspiration, through which he receives the unfoldment of all his further steps. Contrary to the belief of many, she has not provided steps from mortal belief to heaven. She has furnished steps from mortal belief to a place, where divine wisdom may enter man’s consciousness and becomes his future and unerring guide. Science and Health takes the student by the hand, and leads him to the place where God takes him by the hand. Then, He will guide him to the pastures of peace, and teach him the Divinity Course.