From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Spiritual Significance of Mrs. Eddy’s Life
As an individual, Jesus remained on earth for a brief period. As the Christ, he is ever-present, an eternal dispensation. Yet this fact was lost sight of; and it remained for Mrs. Eddy, as the prophet to this age, to restore the Christ-idea to humanity, giving to all the knowledge of the possibility of embodying this idea.
Although she herself has passed from the earthly sight of those in this age, still there are enough consecrated students who understand how to embody and retain the Christ-idea, to prevent it ever again being lost to humanity, as it was three hundred years after the ascension. To endeavor to retain the Christ-idea is the great obligation laid on Christian Scientists today. Mrs. Eddy has shown how this is to be done, but she did not and could not do it for us. We must individually make this demonstration, in spite of the temptations that are always present to cause our thought to return to mortal conceptions. No one can retain this Christ-idea, so long as he personalizes it. This he does, if his concept of it is confined to Jesus, or to Mrs. Eddy, believing that either embodied it as a special dispensation, and that others cannot do it. Such an attitude discourages anyone else attempting to strive for the goal. Yet each student must gird himself for the strife, and follow in Mrs. Eddy’s mental footsteps.
One of the seemingly clever arguments of animal magnetism, in its endeavor to nullify the blessing of Mrs. Eddy’s teachings, and to discourage others in their attempt to embody the spiritual idea she brought us, is to suggest that her capacity for inspiration was a special gift, or that she was specially endowed.
Of what value is Mr. Walter Brownell’s new hardy climbing yellow rose, unless he can provide his friends and the public with slips, together with instructions describing the way to cultivate them to maturity? Mrs. Eddy sought the Christ herself. It was the Christ idea that she reflected, that wrote Science and Health; and whatever else she did from the spiritual standpoint, was done by this same Christ-idea. Yet, to pay respect to her as being a wonderful person, is permissible in Christian Science, only as we recognize the fact that her true mission and greatness lie in her renewal of the process whereby man may become a disciple of the Christ, and may thereby learn to embody the Christ to retain it forever, and also, to unfold to others the process of maintaining it, so that it will be a universal and perpetual dispensation, and not be lost after a few hundred years, as happened after the ascension.
A building half done has no more value than one not begun, unless, of course, the work is finally brought to completion. Did Mrs. Eddy do more than lay the foundation for the great building up of the Cause of Christian Science? No. Is it not our task to carry on this work, through understanding how to translate the demands of God, the great spiritual architect, into the building? Yes. The only reason Mrs. Eddy could so infallibly direct the upbuilding of the Cause to its success, was because she was able to translate the directions of God into admonitions for man. This same vital work must now be continued, otherwise Mrs. Eddy’s travail will have been for naught.
Is it disloyalty to our Leader, and does it show a lack of proper appreciation, to say that there was nothing spiritually remarkable about her, until she resurrected this divine spark within her? When this took place, it made her the greatest woman of all time and of all nations. She was not an ordinary woman at any time of her life, yet she was not an extraordinary one, prior to her great discovery. The most she could claim, before that divine spark flared up into brilliance, was an intellectual learning and also, skill as a verse-maker. Yet, the more critics would try to portray Mrs. Eddy as an ordinary woman, before the year 1866, the more encouraging it is to those endeavoring to walk in her footsteps. Mrs. Eddy had nothing to give the world of value without Christian Science, and the effort to say that she had, belittles the action of inspiration and Truth upon her, just as it belittles Christian Science to confuse its treatments with those of the medical physician. Before Mrs. Eddy made her great discovery, her thought was often morbid and stilted, containing little of the divine spark, although there are certain specific instances of spiritual illumination that cannot be gainsaid, as, for instance, when in Rumney she healed an infant of sore eyes. Even that healing, however, was somewhat like the young child, who unconsciously strikes a beautiful chord on the piano, and thereby finds itself instilled with the urge to become a great pianist.
Lest the statement be misunderstood concerning our Leader’s spirituality before she learned Christian Science, let spirituality be regarded as that which is left after mortal man’s belief in materiality has been eliminated, just as a mirror’s power to reflect is what is left, after it has been cleaned. Then, since all mirrors that have been cleaned have an equal ability to reflect, the difference between them lies wholly in the fact that some require less cleaning than others.
According to her own teaching, Mrs. Eddy, as God’s idea, had no more power to reflect than do we, but unquestionably, she had less belief in materiality to eliminate. Hence, she earlier and more convincingly proved Christian Science than could one less spiritual. Yet the paradox of her life, was the fact that, at times, she appeared to manifest more materiality than the students close to her expected her to. However, error that is not recognized as error, can never be eliminated. Hence these periods were always followed by the attainment of a higher spiritual standpoint, and only those students criticized her, who failed to perceive that animal magnetism, being dust and dirt in the mental realm, must be first recognized and then eliminated; and this task is far more important than the effort to keep our homes clean.
Mrs. Eddy’s achievement of mental purification that enabled her to reflect God clearly, served to prove what is true concerning all of us, namely, that when thought is cleansed of mortal belief or animal magnetism, we all reflect God equally. The first mirror to be cleaned proves that all mirrors, when cleaned, reflect equally.