A Dark Cross and an Illuminated One
from Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Precepts, by Gilbert Carpenter,
from the commentary on Mrs. Eddy’s letter dated June 9, 1901
When Mrs. Eddy permitted certain of her students to be honored, she may have been an instrument in God’s hands for testing them, since each advancing pilgrim must be tested by both praise and blame, and be unmoved by either, before he can be said to be up to God’s standard. Thus when misunderstanding or approval on the part of man comes to us, we should impersonalize them and recognize these experiences as part of God’s test; and of the two, the test of approval and aggrandizement is the more difficult and dangerous, since it is not easy to perceive the subtlety and worthlessness of the praise of men.
The last picture in Christ and Christmas shows a dark cross and an illuminated one, festooned with birds and flowers. Evidently both lie in our path on the road to the crown, and the pleasant cross is as much a test and a temptation as the dark one. Furthermore, the agreeable cross is the more difficult temptation of the two, since one is apt to forget that it is a cross, in admiring the beauty of the birds and flowers.
Perhaps as the Bible indicates, Job met the temptation of the dark cross, and then failed when it came to the harmonious one. He may have considered that all his treasures in matter were rewards for work well done; so he had the right to stop in his journey in order to enjoy them. Yet mortal belief is hell. Matter is our punishment for having turned away from God. We must bear the cross until we return to the Father’s house. Hence the illumination of the cross that comes to us as a test, should never cause us to forget that it is a cross, and the demand of God is to progress out of materiality, whether it appears to be dark or light. Had Job continued to progress under human harmony, he would not have had to lose it.
When man is in jail, he is being punished. Hence, no misguided sympathy should ever lead people to fit up his cell with so much that is agreeable and comfortable, that he forgets that he is being punished, and wants to remain.