From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
The Scientifically Poised Student Is Safe
As I have mentioned in a previous chapter, many have wondered why Mrs. Eddy attributed the death of Mr. Eddy to animal magnetism. The first uncovering of animal magnetism in her thought showed her that, when one enters the service of God, he gains enough Truth to protect himself from the belief of death. Hence, if one passes on at that point, that death does not result from a natural claim.
If a man swims out beyond his depth and his strength fails, he will drown if nobody rescues him. That would be called a natural occurrence. If, on the other hand, that man should wear a properly inflated life preserver, he would not drown, no matter how tired he might become. Drowning under such circumstances proves that someone has punctured the rubber with a pin, so that the air gradually escapes.
When a man gains enough of the spirit of God to enter the service of God, he has a spiritual understanding that, fully demonstrated, would overcome death. At that point, his task is to maintain this spiritual understanding since, in so doing, he is protected from the claim of death. The error that would attempt to rob him of his spiritual understanding, because it knows that his life is dependent upon it, is called induced death, or mental murder.
In recording the nature of evil for posterity, Mrs. Eddy showed that no matter how deadly its effect might appear to be, if it is handled as cause, it dissolves into something simple to handle. Yet, before she was able to trace back to cause, she reported much data about effect, that seem dreadful to the readers of today. Each unfoldment, however, has its rightful place. If anything were left out, it might be the very thing that somebody needed, the very rung of the ladder which, if omitted, would effectually arrest the upward progress of some weary pilgrim. Mrs. Eddy was faithful in recording everything, although we may venture to say that, at times, it hurt her to have to chronicle certain experiences which she had outgrown.
There were many steps for her to take, before she reached the goal of seeing the nothingness of animal magnetism, which applies to all who follow in her footsteps. The Master said that he beheld Satan “as lightning fall from heaven.” This is the experience of many a student, when he catches his first glimpse of the claim of animal magnetism, and it is often a frightening experience. Yet it is soon outgrown; and no student would dream of retaining this initial attitude toward the claim of evil, any more than did our Leader.
Asa Eddy died as the result of induced animal magnetism. But it was not animal magnetism overpowering a scientifically-poised student, for that is something that animal magnetism can never do. There must be a falling away first. The student who ofttimes examines himself, as Mrs. Eddy writes on page 129 of Miscellany, to “see if there be found anywhere a deterrent of Truth and Love,” will always be enabled to detect the pin that might, if not discovered, puncture his life preserver.