From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Adam Dickey’s Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy
The following authentic incident is related by Adam H. Dickey in his Memoirs of Mary Baker Eddy, published in 1927. It has its place in this history as a spiritual footstep of our Leader, that cannot be understood without spiritual insight.
“It was the custom of our Leader to lie down for an hour each afternoon and rest. Sometimes she would fall asleep, and upon awakening would seem mentally refreshed after her labors of the day. Many times when important matters were under consideration she would, on awakening from these short naps, come to a quick determination as to the right method to pursue in whatever she had in hand.
“On Tuesday, August 25, 1908, my bell rang, calling me to Mrs. Eddy’s apartment. When I entered her study, she was lying on the lounge where she usually took her rest. Requesting Mrs. Sargent, Mr. Frye, and a third student to leave the room, she beckoned me to approach. She extended her hand to me, took mine in both of hers, and asked in a deep, earnest voice, ‘Mr. Dickey, I want you to promise me something, will you?’
“‘I said, ‘Yes, Mother, I certainly will.’
“‘Well’, she continued, ‘if I should ever leave here, do you know what I mean by that?’
“‘If I should ever leave here,’ she repeated, ‘will you promise me that you will write a history of what has transpired in your experiences with me, and say that I was mentally murdered?’
“‘Now, Mr. Dickey, do not let anything interfere with your keeping this promise. Will you swear to me before God that you will not fail to carry out my wish?’
“I raised my right hand and said, ‘Mother, I swear before God that I will do what you request of me, namely, write a history of what I have seen, and heard from your lips, concerning your life.’
“‘That will do, dear. I know now that you will not fail me.’
“Her whole demeanor was one of solemn intensity, and there was an eagerness in her voice and manner such as I seldom saw.
“I returned to my room and pondered deeply over what she had said. In a few minutes one of the workers and Mrs. Sargent brought me a sealed envelope. In it was a penciled note reiterating the statement that she had made in our conversation of a short time before.”
Although Mrs. Eddy did not instruct Mr. Dickey to give her history to the world, she did instruct him to record it. Why did she wish to have recorded the statement, that she was mentally murdered? Did this have any relationship to the statement in Science and Health, page 445, “Also the teacher must thoroughly fit his students to defend themselves against sin, and to guard against the attacks of the would-be mental assassin, who attempts to kill morally and physically?”
One of the significant statements made by the Master is in the eighth chapter of John, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”
If the proposition is accepted as a truism that, “If Life ever had a beginning, it would also have an ending,” Science and Health, page 469, then Jesus’ statement could be paraphrased, “The devil was a murderer, from the beginning he put upon man.” If, from the understanding of cause and effect, you wanted to murder a man, would you need to do more than to persuade him to accept the false belief that he had a beginning, thus assuring an ultimate end? The reverse of this conception would be to explain to the man who believed that he had a beginning, and, consequently, that he must have an end, that, from the standpoint of divine Science, he never did have, or could have had, a beginning, since Life as God is eternal, without beginning or end, and that he is the eternal reflection of that Life. If he can be made to understand, accept, and demonstrate this proposition of divine metaphysics, then you have saved him from death.
Hence, the devil is a murderer, because the devil, as exposed in Christian Science, is false belief, and false belief murders by causing man to believe in a beginning, or a birth into matter. This unfoldment traces mental murder back to its origin, denominating it a belief of a beginning, carried to its logical termination, death.
It is highly significant in this connection, that in the manuscript, The Science of Man, from which Mrs. Eddy taught her classes, and which formed the basis of the chapter, Recapitulation, in Science and Health, there appeared the following question and answer in the version that Mrs. Eddy used in teaching Mrs. Sally Wentworth of Stoughton, Mass., in 1869: “In teaching this Science, which is the leading error to be attacked? The first error of matter birth, viz., the belief that man made you and that life was ever born into matter, or the body.”
Thus, when Mrs. Eddy told Adam Dickey to record that she was mentally murdered, did she not mean that she could detect the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the murderous purpose behind what seemed to be innocent thought? For instance, Arthur Brisbane published a little book, in which he set forth what a well-preserved woman Mrs. Eddy was at eighty-six. Back of this kindly intention on Mr. Brisbane’s part, Mrs. Eddy detected the impersonal evil, or devil, persistently hammering for admission, declaring that it was a certain number of years since she had been born into matter. To one who was endeavoring to hold to the realization of man’s endlessness, these seemingly kind thoughts as to her age and faculties constituted the mental assassin, because to admit the birth from which her years were dated, was to admit that which would inevitably assure her death. What is the mental assassin, but the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the mental arguments regarding human life and birth, which seem harmless on the surface, but, in reality, spell man’s death?
How many times we hear old people say with pride, “I am over eighty years old!” When a Christian Scientist hears this, he says in the words of our Leader, “Alas for the blindness of belief,” Science and Health, page 486. Such a simple admission, by an aged man or woman, represents the acceptance of all the error necessary to make death seem a real and inescapable experience. No wonder that with such emphasis being laid on her age, not only by the world at large, but by Christian Scientists, Mrs. Eddy felt the touch of that belief which her spiritual insight perceived spelled “end” to the one who accepted it! No wonder she called it murder! How else was she to awaken students like Mr. Dickey to see the full significance of thoughts about her age, which seemed harmless enough on the surface? How else can you rouse students to handle the wolf in sheep’s clothing, unless you denominate the animal magnetism something like the term, mental assassin, that is calculated to rouse thought into action?
In reference to Mrs. Eddy’s request, that Mr. Dickey write a history of what had transpired in his experiences with her, it is my conviction that this was a request that she made of each student that came to her home. Doubtless she perceived, that her experience as Revelator and Demonstrator, revealing the Truth and then applying it practically, represented two distinct threads. She was conscious of the importance of portraying to the world her life, not only as the Revelator of Christian Science, but as the Demonstrator thereof, as stepping down from the pulpit and joining the multitude in its effort to make her divine teachings practical. Every sincere seeker of Truth must face and overcome the claim of animal magnetism. This Mrs. Eddy did, and did successfully. With this knowledge of her victory, comes the assurance of a possible success for everyone. Yet, in order to portray this thread of her life rightly, the light of spiritual understanding must be thrown upon it. Otherwise, the lessons taught by both her temporary failures, as well as her eventual successes in meeting the dark and misunderstood activities of what seemed to be a power opposed to God, will be incomprehensible, and be a deterrent, rather than a necessary help to the sincere follower of Truth.