From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Demand for Inspiration
Demonstration and inspiration were our Leader’s basis of judgment. She detected and rebuked whatever did not measure up to that standard. While I was at Pleasant View, she sent in a correction of one of the editorials in the Sentinel. Her article appears today in Miscellany. There is very little evidence in this editorial of anything but the finest kind of metaphysics. Yet, Mrs. Eddy detected the editor’s waning spiritual sense, and his consequent reliance on his early training as a human writer to compensate for his loss of inspiration. It was, as if her cook had prepared her food with unwashed hands. The food might appear palatable, but one who knew the facts would have the right to condemn it. Mrs. Eddy, with her spiritual insight, condemned the spiritual food the editor was putting forth, because he had not sufficiently cleansed his hands, or his spiritual consciousness, from all taint of materiality, which included a sense of the value of intellectuality and human education, as a desirable adjunct to true spirituality, a notion that would contradict Science and Health (page 126), “. . . the human mind never produced a real tone nor sent forth a positive sound.”
Mrs. Eddy never hesitated to rebuke a lack of inspiration in the students and workers. Those who understood, loved her more for her rebukes because they realized that they had an alert Leader, who loved enough to risk the displeasure of her students as she sharply reproved them, in her effort to keep them up to the mark. Such a rebuke to the editor, for instance, was not intended to dry up his flow of inspiration, but to enhance it. The same is true today. When a rebuke is forthcoming from the Editorial Board, for instance, the purpose is not to kill out inspiration in the one attempting to lisp Truth, but to encourage a greater effort in the right direction.
Of course, the question comes up, why Mrs. Eddy did not state, in the plainest terms, that this editorial lacked inspiration, instead of putting forth an article that has been a puzzle to so many metaphysicians. The answer is that the great difficulty in judging song, sermon, or an article on Christian Science, lies in the fact that inspiration is such an intangible thing, that no human criticism can explain or even affirm its lack. One accurate gauge of the presence of inspiration is whether the song, sermon, or article heals. It is the inspiration back of all expression that heals. Hence, when this healing is lacking, that is a good indication that the inspiration is lacking.
Mrs. Eddy has outlined the process of how the student may best become a channel for the divine Mind. If, in following out that process, he refuses to accept the human substitute for inspiration, which is the improvement brought to the human mind by the stimulation of Truth, he will be rewarded by an overflow of spiritual thought, that will attend everything that he does, and that will become the light which lighteth every man who partakes with him of that heavenly feast.
Mrs. Eddy was continually urging, nay, even driving the students, to depend on spiritual guidance rather than on her. She knew that the value to the student of much in her experience, lay in the necessity for him to work out the explanation for himself from the spiritual standpoint. She knew that method always supersedes results. The laziness of the human mind is always expressed in its preference to having a thing unfolded, rather than to being driven to find it out for one’s self.
It must be taken into consideration, that much of one’s functioning under the guidance of Truth, is comparatively in the dark, as far as what one is doing, or why one is doing it, is concerned. It is nothing derogatory to Mrs. Eddy to say, that she did not work out the reasons why she did much that she did, beyond the fact that she knew it was demonstration, and that God told her to do it. As a matter of fact, in the home, nothing human bothered her. It was always what was back of it. Even then, she did not reason it out. She knew that it offended her spiritual sense, and that was enough.
It is a possibility that Mrs. Eddy could not have told just what was wrong with this student’s editorial, except that God told her that it was wrong, without taking the time to work it out spiritually. She was a scribe under orders, governed by God. He told her that the editorial was a counterfeit. It was a dollar that looked just as it should, but it was made of lead and had not the ring of the true metal. It was intellectually and grammatically perfect, but spiritually lacking.
The spiritual ideas Mrs. Eddy set forth were not things that she knew of herself, but rather things that she reflected from the divine Mind, just as if it were the encyclopedia of all knowledge, which she might open and read at any time. To say that Mrs. Eddy knew something five minutes before she reflected it from God, would be to say that which was not true. However, she had access to the infinite Mind that knows all things.
Our Leader could not provide students with an unprejudiced persistence, with a selflessness of purpose. She could not eradicate from their minds the desire for spiritual aggrandizement and the appreciation of the multitude. She could not banish from their minds the ambition to hold positions of authority and prominence in the Cause. But she could teach those who were spiritually desirous, how to go to the divine fount for spiritual unfoldment, as she did, and receive it. It is always there, when needed.
Hence, it was enough that wisdom had criticised the article, that she detected something in it that should not be there, or the lack of something that should be there. She was not concerned about those who were bothered because they could find nothing wrong with it. She knew that if God told her it was not right, that was all there was to it. Yet we know by her teachings, that a thing was to her either good or bad, as the thinking back of it was right or wrong.
Inspiration is ever-present for the taking. Mrs. Eddy has told us how to gain it. Then, all that remains is one’s desire for it, and the willingness to refuse to adopt any other method or substitute. One must solemnly pledge to keep silent, until one is able to speak with divine authority.
Mrs. Eddy demanded inspiration as the source of everything that entered into the constructive life of the individual and the Cause. She was like a sentinel on guard, watching to accept and approve the spiritual, when it appeared, and to detect and rebuke the human, wherever it showed itself. She fully recognized the difficulty that confronted her Board of Directors, the necessity in the midst of pressing material duties and distractions, to keep thought sufficiently balanced on the side of the spiritual, to be able to detect and approve inspiration, and cast out the spurious, all that proceeds from the human mind, intellect, erudition, training in educational directions, etc., which have no place in true Christian Science, when offered as substitutes for spirituality.
Mrs. Eddy’s basis was that unless God leads, man will be led astray. Her example to the Field was to teach us all to place a black mark of disapproval on everything not proceeding from inspiration. Yet she did not intend, through her rebukes, to seal up the fount of inspiration, but rather to seal up any fount that was not inspiration, in order that inspiration might flow freely.
There are many people who could instantly detect the original canvas of the Mona Lisa from a perfect copy. Almost unconsciously, they feel the inspiration back of the original, which is not back of the copy. This accounts for the great value of such a painting.
Students of Christian Science may find it difficult to detect when an article on Christian Science lacks inspiration, but when true inspiration is present, they are quick to perceive it. Mrs. Eddy, however, demanded as a proof, that the student possessed true spiritual perception, the ability not only to detect the presence of inspiration, but also its absence. Therefore, she selected as an object lesson an article on Christian Science that was letter perfect. Thus would the student be driven to the deduction, that the editorial in question was lacking spiritually.
If one is tempted to wonder at such insistence on demonstration and inspiration, as was displayed by our Leader, let him realize that it was revealed to her that inspiration alone conveyed the healing power of divine Love. Therefore, she knew that an article which was the product of an intellectual thought on a human basis, must necessarily lack the very essence of Christian Science, namely, the power to heal.