From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Insistence on Accuracy
In stating that, judged from the human standpoint, Mrs. Eddy might be justly considered over-particular in small matters, I am liable to be misunderstood. Therefore, there will be found in these pages a repeated effort to clarify this point.
The slightest discord or inaccuracy expressed in effect was noted by Mrs. Eddy and might call forth her rebuke. On one occasion, the rebuke was for misplaced furniture, but her intention was to correct the lack of demonstration in the student, that was expressing itself through that misplacement. Such a lack of demonstration indicates an error in the premise of all scientific effort.
Students who came to Pleasant View to serve the Leader in various capacities, paramount among which was mental work, were called from their posts of duty in the Field. That meant that the standard to which they were trained, in regard to demonstration, related only to objects and conditions which the world would call discordant, as indicating that they were entertaining animal magnetism, or unscientific thinking. On the other hand, Mrs. Eddy had a much broader standard, for it included all effects, or fingers pointing to the presence of animal magnetism, which would have gone unnoticed by those who came to work with our Leader. Such seemingly insignificant things were noted by Mrs. Eddy, however, as being straws which showed which way the wind was blowing, and as indicating a small spiritual let-down which, if not detected and rebuked, might result in the students becoming unfit for the work which she gave them to do.
Perhaps Mrs. Eddy herself knew that she might bring down human criticism on her head, because of her handling of matters pertaining to the home and the work of the students in this way. But that did not deter her from following the path God pointed out to her as being the right one. When matters of spiritual truth were involved, she never failed to be dominant and forceful, no matter where she was, or to whom she was talking. Even members of royalty, who came to see her, sat at her feet, in the sense that she did not yield to them her position of superiority. However, because it was a spiritual superiority, it was never offensive. You knew that it was the spirit of God in her that made her great. The moment she lost that temporarily, the sense of dominance went with it. As a woman, she was not dominant. Equipped with deifical power, she was.
One can picture a student of singing whose teacher, having only a superficial understanding of the correct methods of singing, imparts this to the pupil. Later, the pupil is called to sing before a great teacher, who detects errors, and so proceeds to pull the work of the first teacher to pieces. Having been built up by the praise of the first teacher, the pupil can hardly stand the shock. He is able to carry on, only because he is determined to learn how to sing correctly, and because he recognizes that the second teacher is superior to the first. He knows that this criticism is only intended for his good, to help him to attain the correct method, and to throw off all faulty habits of singing.
It required time and great love, as well as the destruction of pride in the students, for them to come to the appreciation that the difference between Mrs. Eddy’s standard and that of the Field, was the result of the higher understanding of Truth under which she functioned. Mrs. Eddy’s expectation for every student so far exceeded what anyone else might have in the Field, that it was both complimentary and discouraging.