The Spirit and The Letter
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Precepts, Vol. 3, by Gilbert Carpenter, pages 418-422 (from the letter dated Nov. 6, 1895)
Our Leader’s thought was on a higher plane than that of her students; yet every detail in her life shows that she was preeminently practical. Her nearness to God did not rob her of her appreciation of the human need. Her example shows that we must develop from matter to Spirit, and not attempt to jump the gap.
Once after a fanatical student attempted to force an entrance into Mrs. Eddy’s home, she asked Minnie Scott, “Minnie, if you knew that someone was trying to get into your home to bother you and take up your time, would you know that divine Love protected you, and that no harm could come to you?” Minnie replied, “That is just what I would do, but I would also take care that the doors and windows were carefully bolted.” Mrs. Eddy said, “There! You have given me the spirit and the letter, and there is nothing more to say.” This shows that to her, a true sortie into the realm of Spirit, included a demonstration of harmony and protection in the physical realm so-called, and not a neglect of the human footsteps.
This … proves as one rises higher in the scale of demonstration, he becomes more alert to the human need in order to meet it through divine Love. Her example is a constant rebuke to the student who fancies, that it is a sign of increasing spirituality, when he ignores the human need and feels it is beneath his attention.
As one awakens to his reflection of divine Mind, he manifests no neglect or forgetfulness of practical matters. If one’s thought is in tune with divine intelligence, and he starts the water running into the boiler of his furnace, he does not fly off into such a dreamy state that he forgets to turn it off before it begins to overflow into the cellar. As one handles the lie of dullness and apathy, his native acuteness and alertness expand into expression. Hence … the way to keep alert and awake to the needs of man in this human experience is to keep thought free from the influence of animal magnetism.
That which gnaws at the roots of a tree is often more fatal than that which attacks its superstructure, since the former works unseen. Mrs. Eddy was faithful in pointing out the unseen and hidden workings of evil. In that way she sought to save the very lives of her followers, as well as the life of her Cause.