From Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy
The olden opinion that hell is fire and brimstone, has yielded somewhat to the metaphysical fact that suffering is a thing of mortal mind instead of body: so, in place of material flames and odor, mental anguish is generally accepted as the penalty for sin. This changed belief has wrought a change in the actions of men. Not a few individuals serve God (or try to) from fear; but remove that fear, and the worst of human passions belch forth their latent fires. Some people never repent until earth gives them such a cup of gall that conscience strikes home; then they are brought to realize how impossible it is to sin and not suffer. All the different phases of error in human nature the reformer must encounter and help to eradicate.
This period is not essentially one of conscience: few feel and live now as when this nation began, and our forefathers’ prayers blended with the murmuring winds of their forest home. This is a period of doubt, inquiry, speculation, selfishness; of divided interests, marvellous good, and mysterious evil. But sin can only work out its own destruction; and reform does and must push on the growth of mankind.
Honor to faithful merit is delayed, and always has been; but it is sure to follow. The very streets through which Garrison was dragged were draped in honor of the dead hero who did the hard work, the immortal work, of loosing the fetters of one form of human slavery. I remember, when a girl, and he visited my father, how a childish fear clustered round his coming. Even the loving children are sometimes made to believe a lie, and to hate reformers. It is pleasant, now, to contrast with that childhood’s wrong the reverence of my riper years for all who dare to be true, honest to their convictions, and strong of purpose.
The reformer has no time to give in defense of his own life’s incentive, since no sacrifice is too great for the silent endurance of his love. What has not unselfed love achieved for the race? All that ever was accomplished, and more than history has yet recorded. The reformer works on unmentioned, save when he is abused or his work is utilized in the interest of somebody. He may labor for the establishment of a cause which is fraught with infinite blessings, — health, virtue, and heaven; but what of all that? Who should care for everybody? It is enough, say they, to care for a few. Yet the good done, and the love that foresees more to do, stimulate philanthropy and are an ever-present reward. Let one’s life answer well these questions, and it already hath a benediction:
Have you renounced self? Are you faithful? Do you love?