Chicago Inter-Ocean | Plainfield Christian Science Church, Independent

Chicago Inter-Ocean

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         [Daily Inter-Ocean, Chicago, December 31, 1894]






         Boston, Mass., December 28. — Special Correspond-

9      ence. — The “great awakening” of the time of Jonathan

         Edwards has been paralleled during the last decade by a

         wave of idealism that has swept over the country, manif-

12    esting itself under several different aspects and under

         various names, but each having the common identity of

         spiritual demand. This movement, under the guise of

15    Christian Science, and ingenuously calling out a closer

         inquiry into Oriental philosophy, prefigures itself to us

         as one of the most potent factors in the social evolution

18    of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. History

         shows the curious fact that the closing years of every cen-

         tury are years of more intense life, manifested in unrest

21    or in aspiration, and scholars of special research, like

         Prof. Max Muller, assert that the end of a cycle, as is the

         latter part of the present century, is marked by peculiar

24    intimations of man’s immortal life.

Page 24

1      The completion of the first Christian Science church

         erected in Boston strikes a keynote of definite attention.

3      This church is in the fashionable Back Bay, between

         Commonwealth and Huntington Avenues. It is one of

         the most beautiful, and is certainly the most unique struc-

6      ture in any city. The First Church of Christ, Scientist,

         as it is officially called, is termed by its Founder, “Our

         prayer in stone.” It is located at the intersection of Nor-

9      way and Falmouth Streets, on a triangular plot of ground,

         the design a Romanesque tower with a circular front and

         an octagonal form, accented by stone porticos and turreted

12    corners. On the front is a marble tablet, with the follow-

         ing inscription carved in bold relief: —

         “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, erected Anno

15    Domini 1894. A testimonial to our beloved teacher,

         the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy, Discoverer and Founder

         of Christian Science; author of “Science and Health

18    with Key to the Scriptures;” president of the Massa-

         chusetts Metaphysical College, and the first pastor of

         this denomination.”


         The church is built of Concord granite in light gray,

         with trimmings of the pink granite of New Hampshire,

24    Mrs. Eddy’s native State. The architecture is Romanesque

         throughout. The tower is one hundred and twenty feet in

         height and twenty-one and one half feet square. The en-

27    trances are of marble, with doors of antique oak richly

         carved. The windows of stained glass are very rich in

Page 25

1      pictorial effect. The lighting and cooling of the church —

         for cooling is a recognized feature as well as heating —

3      are done by electricity, and the heat generated by two

         large boilers in the basement is distributed by the four

         systems with motor electric power. The partitions are

6      of iron; the floors of marble in mosaic work, and the

         edifice is therefore as literally fire-proof as is conceivable.

         The principal features are the auditorium, seating eleven

9      hundred people and capable of holding fifteen hundred;

         the “Mother’s Room,” designed for the exclusive use of

         Mrs. Eddy; the “directors’ room,” and the vestry. The

12    girders are all of iron, the roof is of terra cotta tiles, the

         galleries are in plaster relief, the window frames are of

         iron, coated with plaster; the staircases are of iron, with

15    marble stairs of rose pink, and marble approaches.

         The vestibule is a fitting entrance to this magnificent

         temple. In the ceiling is a sunburst with a seven-pointed

18    star, which illuminates it. From this are the entrances

         leading to the auditorium, the “Mother’s Room,” and

         the directors’ room.

21    The auditorium is seated with pews of curly birch, up-

         holstered in old rose plush. The floor is in white Italian

         mosaic, with frieze of the old rose, and the wainscoting

24    repeats the same tints. The base and cap are of pink

         Tennessee marble. On the walls are bracketed oxidized

         silver lamps of Roman design, and there are frequent

27    illuminated texts from the Bible and from Mrs. Eddy’s

         “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” im-

         panelled. A sunburst in the centre of the ceiling takes

30    the place of chandeliers. There is a disc of cut glass in

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1      decorative designs, covering one hundred and forty-four

         electric lights in the form of a star, which is twenty-one

3      inches from point to point, the centre being of pure white

         light, and each ray under prisms which reflect the rainbow

         tints. The galleries are richly panelled in relief work.

6      The organ and choir gallery is spacious and rich beyond

         the power of words to depict. The platform — corre-

         sponding to the chancel of an Episcopal church — is a

9      mosaic work, with richly carved seats following the sweep

         of its curve, with a lamp stand of the Renaissance period

         on either end, bearing six richly wrought oxidized silver

12    lamps, eight feet in height. The great organ comes from

         Detroit. It is one of vast compass, with AEolian attach-

         ment, and cost eleven thousand dollars. It is the gift of

15    a single individual — a votive offering of gratitude for the

         healing of the wife of the donor.

         The chime of bells includes fifteen, of fine range and

18    perfect tone.

         THE “MOTHER’S ROOM”

         The “Mother’s Room” is approached by an entrance of

21    Italian marble, and over the door, in large golden letters on

         a marble tablet, is the word “Love.” In this room the

         mosaic marble floor of white has a Romanesque border and

24    is decorated with sprays of fig leaves bearing fruit. The

         room is toned in pale green with relief in old rose. The

         mantel is of onyx and gold. Before the great bay window

27    hangs an Athenian lamp over two hundred years old,

         which will be kept always burning day and night.(1) Lead-

             (1) At Mrs. Eddy’s request the lamp was not kept burning.

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1      ing off the “Mother’s Room” are toilet apartments, with

         full-length French mirrors and every convenience.

3      The directors’ room is very beautiful in marble ap-

         proaches and rich carving, and off this is a vault for the

         safe preservation of papers.

6      The vestry seats eight hundred people, and opening from

         it are three large class-rooms and the pastor’s study.

         The windows are a remarkable feature of this temple.

9      There are no “memorial” windows; the entire church is a

         testimonial, not a memorial — a point that the members

         strongly insist upon.

12    In the auditorium are two rose windows — one repre-

         senting the heavenly city which “cometh down from God

         out of heaven,” with six small windows beneath, emblem-

15    atic of the six water-pots referred to in John ii. 6. The

         other rose window represents the raising of the daughter

         of Jairus. Beneath are two small windows bearing palms

18    of victory, and others with lamps, typical of Science and


         Another great window tells its pictorial story of the four

21    Marys — the mother of Jesus, Mary anointing the head of

         Jesus, Mary washing the feet of Jesus, Mary at the resur-

         rection; and the woman spoken of in the Apocalypse,

24    chapter 12, God-crowned.

         One more window in the auditorium represents the

         raising of Lazarus.

27    In the gallery are windows representing John on the

         Isle of Patmos, and others of pictorial significance. In

         the “Mother’s Room” the windows are of still more unique

30    interest. A large bay window, composed of three separate

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1      panels, is designed to be wholly typical of the work of Mrs.

         Eddy. The central panel represents her in solitude and

3      meditation, searching the Scriptures by the light of a single

         candle, while the star of Bethlehem shines down from above.

         Above this is a panel containing the Christian Science seal,

6      and other panels are decorated with emblematic designs,

         with the legends, “Heal the Sick,” “Raise the Dead,”

         “Cleanse the Lepers,” and “Cast out Demons.”

9      The cross and the crown and the star are presented in

         appropriate decorative effect. The cost of this church is

         two hundred and twenty-one thousand dollars, exclusive

12    of the land — a gift from Mrs. Eddy — which is valued

         at some forty thousand dollars.


15    The order of service in the Christian Science Church

         does not differ widely from that of any other sect, save that

         its service includes the use of Mrs. Eddy’s book, entitled

18    “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” in per-

         haps equal measure to its use of the Bible. The reading

         is from the two alternately; the singing is from a compila-

21    tion called the “Christian Science Hymnal,” but its songs

         are for the most part those devotional hymns from Herbert,

         Faber, Robertson, Wesley, Bowring, and other recog-

24    nized devotional poets, with selections from Whittier and

         Lowell, as are found in the hymn-books of the Unitarian

         churches. For the past year or two Judge Hanna, for-

27    merly of Chicago, has filled the office of pastor to the

         church in this city, which held its meetings in Chickering

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1      Hall, and later in Copley Hall, in the new Grundmann

         Studio Building on Copley Square. Preceding Judge

3      Hanna were Rev. D. A. Easton and Rev. L. P. Norcross,

         both of whom had formerly been Congregational clergy-

         men. The organizer and first pastor of the church here

6      was Mrs. Eddy herself, of whose work I shall venture to

         speak, a little later, in this article.

         Last Sunday I gave myself the pleasure of attending the

9      service held in Copley Hall. The spacious apartment was

         thronged with a congregation whose remarkable earnest-

         ness impressed the observer. There was no straggling

12    of late-comers. Before the appointed hour every seat in the

         hall was filled and a large number of chairs pressed into

         service for the overflowing throng. The music was spirited,

15    and the selections from the Bible and from Science and

         Health were finely read by Judge Hanna. Then came his

         sermon, which dealt directly with the command of Christ

18    to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast

         out demons.” In his admirable discourse Judge Hanna

         said that while all these injunctions could, under certain

21    conditions, be interpreted and fulfilled literally, the

         special lesson was to be taken spiritually — to cleanse the

         leprosy of sin, to cast out the demons of evil thought.

24    The discourse was able, and helpful in its suggestive



27    Later I was told that almost the entire congregation was

         composed of persons who had either been themselves, or

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1      had seen members of their own families, healed by Chris-

         tian Science treatment; and I was further told that once

3      when a Boston clergyman remonstrated with Judge Hanna

         for enticing a separate congregation rather than offering

         their strength to unite with churches already established —

6      I was told he replied that the Christian Science Church did

         not recruit itself from other churches, but from the grave-

         yards! The church numbers now four thousand members;

9      but this estimate, as I understand, is not limited to the

         Boston adherents, but includes those all over the country.

         The ceremonial of uniting is to sign a brief “confession of

12    faith,” written by Mrs. Eddy, and to unite in communion,

         which is not celebrated by outward symbols of bread and

         wine, but by uniting in silent prayer.

15    The “confession of faith” includes the declaration that

         the Scriptures are the guide to eternal Life; that there is a

         Supreme Being, and His Son, and the Holy Ghost, and

18    that man is made in His image. It affirms the atonement;

         it recognizes Jesus as the teacher and guide to salvation;

         the forgiveness of sin by God, and affirms the power of

21    Truth over error, and the need of living faith at the

         moment to realize the possibilities of the divine Life.

         The entire membership of Christian Scientists throughout

24    the world now exceeds two hundred thousand people. The

         church in Boston was organized by Mrs. Eddy, and the

         first meeting held on April 12, 1879. It opened with

27    twenty-six members, and within fifteen years it has grown

         to its present impressive proportions, and has now its own

         magnificent church building, costing over two hundred

30    housand dollars, and entirely paid for when its consecra-

Page 31

1      tion service on January 6 shall be celebrated. This is

         certainly a very remarkable retrospect.

3      Rev. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of this denomina-

         tion and Discoverer of Christian Science, as they term her

         work in affirming the present application of the principles

6      asserted by Jesus, is a most interesting personality. At

         the risk of colloquialism, I am tempted to “begin at the

         beginning” of my own knowledge of Mrs. Eddy, and take,

9      as the point of departure, my first meeting with her and

         the subsequent development of some degree of familiarity

         with the work of her life which that meeting inaugurated

12    for me.

         MRS. EDDY

         It was during some year in the early ’80’s that I became

15    aware — from that close contact with public feeling result-

         ing from editorial work in daily journalism — that the

         Boston atmosphere was largely thrilled and pervaded by a

18    new and increasing interest in the dominance of mind over

         matter, and that the central figure in all this agitation was

         Mrs. Eddy. To a note which I wrote her, begging the

21    favor of an interview for press use, she most kindly replied,

         naming an evening on which she would receive me. At

         the hour named I rang the bell at a spacious house on

24    Columbus Avenue, and I was hardly more than seated be-

         fore Mrs. Eddy entered the room. She impressed me as

         singularly graceful and winning in bearing and manner,

27    and with great claim to personal beauty. Her figure was

         tall, slender, and as flexible in movement as that of a Del-

Page 32

1      sarte disciple; her face, framed in dark hair and lighted

         by luminous blue eyes, had the transparency and rose-flush

3      of tint so often seen in New England, and she was magnetic,

         earnest, impassioned. No photographs can do the least

         justice to Mrs. Eddy, as her beautiful complexion and

6      changeful expression cannot thus be reproduced. At once

         one would perceive that she had the temperament to domi-

         nate, to lead, to control, not by any crude self-assertion, but

9      a spiritual animus. Of course such a personality, with the

         wonderful tumult in the air that her large and enthusiastic

         following excited, fascinated the imagination. What had

12    she originated? I mentally questioned this modern St.

         Catherine, who was dominating her followers like any ab-

         bess of old. She told me the story of her life, so far as out-

15    ward events may translate those inner experiences which

         alone are significant.

         Mary Baker was the daughter of Mark and Abigail

18    (Ambrose) Baker, and was born in Concord, N. H., some-

         where in the early decade of 1820-’30. At the time I met

         her she must have been some sixty years of age, yet she had

21    the coloring and the elastic bearing of a woman of thirty,

         and this, she told me, was due to the principles of Chris-

         tian Science. On her father’s side Mrs. Eddy came from

24    Scotch and English ancestry, and Hannah More was a

         relative of her grandmother. Deacon Ambrose, her mater-

         nal grandfather, was known as a “godly man,” and her

27    mother was a religious enthusiast, a saintly and consecrated

         character. One of her brothers, Albert Baker, graduated

         at Dartmouth and achieved eminence as a lawyer.

Page 33


         As a child Mary Baker saw visions and dreamed dreams.

3      When eight years of age she began, like Jeanne d’Arc, to

         hear “voices,” and for a year she heard her name called

         distinctly, and would often run to her mother questioning

6      if she were wanted. One night the mother related to her

         the story of Samuel, and bade her, if she heard the voice

         again to reply as he did: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant

9      heareth.” The call came, but the little maid was afraid

         and did not reply. This caused her tears of remorse and

         she prayed for forgiveness, and promised to reply if the call

12    came again. It came, and she answered as her mother had

         bidden her, and after that it ceased.

         These experiences, of which Catholic biographies are

15    full, and which history not infrequently emphasizes, cer-

         tainly offer food for meditation. Theodore Parker related

         that when he was a lad, at work in a field one day on his

18    father’s farm at Lexington, an old man with a snowy beard

         suddenly appeared at his side, and walked with him as he

         worked, giving him high counsel and serious thought. All

21    inquiry in the neighborhood as to whence the stranger

         came or whither he went was fruitless; no one else had

         seen him, and Mr. Parker always believed, so a friend has

24    told me, that his visitor was a spiritual form from another

         world. It is certainly true that many and many persons,

         whose life has been destined to more than ordinary achieve-

27    ment, have had experiences of voices or visions in their

         early youth.

Page 34

1      At an early age Miss Baker was married to Colonel

         Glover, of Charleston, S. C., who lived only a year. She

3      returned to her father’s home — in 1844 — and from that

         time until 1866 no special record is to be made.

         In 1866, while living in Lynn, Mass., Mrs. Eddy

6      met with a severe accident, and her case was pro-

         nounced hopeless by the physicians. There came a

         Sunday morning when her pastor came to bid her good-

9      by before proceeding to his morning service, as there was

         no probability that she would be alive at its close. During

         this time she suddenly became aware of a divine illumina-

12    tion and ministration. She requested those with her to

         withdraw, and reluctantly they did so, believing her de-

         lirious. Soon, to their bewilderment and fright, she walked

15    into the adjoining room, “and they thought I had died,

         and that it was my apparition,” she said.


18    From that hour dated her conviction of the Principle of

         divine healing, and that it is as true to-day as it was in the

         days when Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth. “I felt

21    that the divine Spirit had wrought a miracle,” she said, in

         reference to this experience. “How, I could not tell, but

         later I found it to be in perfect scientific accord with the

24    divine law.” From 1866-’69 Mrs. Eddy withdrew from the

         world to meditate, to pray, to search the Scriptures.

         “During this time,” she said, in reply to my questions,

27    “the Bible was my only textbook. It answered my ques-

         tions as to the process by which I was restored to health;

Page 35

1      it came to me with a new meaning, and suddenly I appre-

         hended the spiritual meaning of the teaching of Jesus and

3      the Principle and the law involved in spiritual Science

         and metaphysical healing — in a word — Christian


6      Mrs. Eddy came to perceive that Christ’s healing was not

         miraculous, but was simply a natural fulfilment of divine

         law — a law as operative in the world to-day as it was

9      nineteen hundred years ago. “Divine Science is begotten

         of spirituality,” she says, “since only the ‘pure in heart’

         can see God.”

12    In writing of this experience, Mrs. Eddy has said: —

         “I had learned that thought must be spiritualized in

         order to apprehend Spirit. It must become honest, un-

15    selfish, and pure, in order to have the least understanding

         of God in divine Science. The first must become last.

         Our reliance upon material things must be transferred to

18    a perception of and dependence on spiritual things. For

         Spirit to be supreme in demonstration, it must be supreme

         in our affections, and we must be clad with divine power.

21    I had learned that Mind reconstructed the body, and that

         nothing else could. All Science is a revelation.”

         Through homoeopathy, too, Mrs. Eddy became con-

24    vinced of the Principle of Mind-healing, discovering that

         the more attenuated the drug, the more potent was its


27    In 1877 Mrs. Glover married Dr. Asa Gilbert Eddy, of

         Londonderry, Vermont, a physician who had come into

         sympathy with her own views, and who was the first to

30    place “Christian Scientist” on the sign at his door. Dr.

Page 36

1      Eddy died in 1882, a year after her founding of the Meta-

         physical College in Boston, in which he taught.

3      The work in the Metaphysical College lasted nine years,

         and it was closed (in 1889) in the very zenith of its pros-

         perity, as Mrs. Eddy felt it essential to the deeper founda-

6      tion of her religious work to retire from active contact with

         the world. To this College came hundreds and hundreds

         of students, from Europe as well as this country. I was

9      present at the class lectures now and then, by Mrs. Eddy’s

         kind invitation, and such earnestness of attention as was

         given to her morning talks by the men and women present

12    I never saw equalled.


         On the evening that I first met Mrs. Eddy by her hos-

15    pitable courtesy, I went to her peculiarly fatigued. I came

         away in a state of exhilaration and energy that made me

         feel I could have walked any conceivable distance. I have

18    met Mrs. Eddy many times since then, and always with

         this experience repeated.

         Several years ago Mrs. Eddy removed from Columbus

21    to Commonwealth Avenue, where, just beyond Massa-

         chusetts Avenue, at the entrance to the Back Bay Park,

         she bought one of the most beautiful residences in Boston.

24    The interior is one of the utmost taste and luxury, and the

         house is now occupied by Judge and Mrs. Hanna, who are

         the editors of The Christian Science Journal, a monthly

27    publication, and to whose courtesy I am much indebted

         for some of the data of this paper. “It is a pleasure to

Page 37

1      give any information for The Inter-Ocean,” remarked

         Mrs. Hanna, “for it is the great daily that is so fair and so

3      just in its attitude toward all questions.”

         The increasing demands of the public on Mrs. Eddy

         have been, it may be, one factor in her removal to Concord,

6      N. H., where she has a beautiful residence, called Pleasant

         View. Her health is excellent, and although her hair is

         white, she retains in a great degree her energy and power;

9      she takes a daily walk and drives in the afternoon. She

         personally attends to a vast correspondence; superin-

         tends the church in Boston, and is engaged on further

12    writings on Christian Science. In every sense she is the

         recognized head of the Christian Science Church. At the

         same time it is her most earnest aim to eliminate the ele-

15    ment of personality from the faith. “On this point, Mrs.

         Eddy feels very strongly,” said a gentleman to me on

         Christmas eve, as I sat in the beautiful drawing-room,

18    where Judge and Mrs. Hanna, Miss Elsie Lincoln, the

         soprano for the choir of the new church, and one or two

         other friends were gathered.

21    “Mother feels very strongly,” he continued, “the danger

         and the misfortune of a church depending on any one

         personality. It is difficult not to centre too closely around

24    a highly gifted personality.”


         The first Christian Scientist Association was organized

27    on July 4, 1876, by seven persons, including Mrs. Eddy.

         In April, 1879, the church was founded with twenty-six

Page 38

1      members, and its charter obtained the following June.(1)

         Mrs. Eddy had preached in other parishes for five years

3      before being ordained in this church, which ceremony

         took place in 1881.

         The first edition of Mrs. Eddy’s book, Science and

6      Health, was issued in 1875. During these succeeding

         twenty years it has been greatly revised and enlarged, and

         it is now in its ninety-first edition. It consists of fourteen

9      chapters, whose titles are as follows: “Science, Theology,

         Medicine,” “Physiology,” “Footsteps of Truth,” “Crea-

         tion,” “Science of Being,” “Christian Science and Spirit-

12    ualism,” “Marriage,” “Animal Magnetism,” “Some

         Objections Answered,” “Prayer,” “Atonement and Eu-

         charist,” “Christian Science Practice,” “Teaching Chris-

15    tian Science,” “Recapitulation.” Key to the Scriptures,

         Genesis, Apocalypse, and Glossary.

         The Christian Scientists do not accept the belief we call

18    spiritualism. They believe those who have passed the

         change of death are in so entirely different a plane of con-

         sciousness that between the embodied and disembodied

21    there is no possibility of communication.

         They are diametrically opposed to the philosophy of

         Karma and of reincarnation, which are the tenets of

24    theosophy. They hold with strict fidelity to what they

         believe to be the literal teachings of Christ.

         Yet each and all these movements, however they may

27    differ among themselves, are phases of idealism and mani-

         festations of a higher spirituality seeking expression.

         It is good that each and all shall prosper, serving those

30    who find in one form of belief or another their best aid

         (1) Steps were taken to promote the Church of Christ, Scientist, in April, May,

         and June; formal organization was accomplished and the charter obtained in

         August, 1879.

Page 39

1      and guidance, and that all meet on common ground in the

         great essentials of love to God and love to man as a signal

3      proof of the divine origin of humanity which finds no rest

         until it finds the peace of the Lord in spirituality. They

         all teach that one great truth, that

6      God’s greatness flows around our incompleteness,

         Round our restlessness, His rest.



9      I add on the following page a little poem that I con-

         sider superbly sweet — from my friend, Miss Whiting,

         the talented author of “The World Beautiful.” — M. B.

12    EDDY

         AT THE WINDOW

         [Written for the Traveller]

15        The sunset, burning low,

         Throws o’er the Charles its flood of golden light.

             Dimly, as in a dream, I watch the flow

18    Of waves of light.

             The splendor of the sky

         Repeats its glory in the river’s flow;

21        And sculptured angels, on the gray church tower,

         Gaze on the world below.

             Dimly, as in a dream,

24    I see the hurrying throng before me pass,

             But ‘mid them all I only see one face,

         Under the meadow grass.

Page 40

1      Ah, love! I only know

         How thoughts of you forever cling to me:

3      I wonder how the seasons come and go

         Beyond the sapphire sea?


6      April 15, 1888

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