From Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy, pages 116-120
My Beloved Students:—This question, ever nearest to my heart, is to-day uppermost: Are we filling the measures of life’s music aright, emphasizing its grand strains, swelling the harmony of being with tones whence come glad echoes? As crescendo and diminuendo accent music, so the varied strains of human chords express life’s loss or gain,—loss of the pleasures and pains and pride of life: gain of its sweet concord, the courage of honest convictions, and final obedience to spiritual law. The ultimate of scientific research and attainment in divine Science is not an argument: it is not merely saying, but doing, the Word—demonstrating Truth—even as the fruits of watchfulness, prayer, struggles, tears, and triumph.
Obeying the divine Principle which you profess to understand and love, demonstrates Truth. Never absent from your post, never off guard, never ill-humored, never unready to work for God,—is obedience; being “faithful over a few things.” If in one instance obedience be lacking, you lose the scientific rule and its reward: namely, to be made “ruler over many things.” A progressive life is the reality of Life that unfolds its immortal Principle.
The student of Christian Science must first separate the tares from the wheat; discern between the thought, motive, and act superinduced by the wrong motive or the true—the God-given intent and volition—arrest the former, and obey the latter. This will place him on the safe side of practice. We always know where to look for the real Scientist, and always find him there. I agree with Rev. Dr. Talmage, that “there are wit, humor, and enduring vivacity among God’s people.”
Obedience is the offspring of Love; and Love is the Principle of unity, the basis of all right thinking and acting; it fulfils the law. We see eye to eye and know as we are known, reciprocate kindness and work wisely, in proportion as we love.
It is difficult for me to carry out a divine commission while participating in the movements, or modus operandi, of other folks. To point out every step to a student and then watch that each step be taken, consumes time,— and experiments ofttimes are costly. According to my calendar, God’s time and mortals’ differ. The neophyte is inclined to be too fast or too slow: he works somewhat in the dark; and, sometimes out of season, he would replenish his lamp at the midnight hour and borrow oil of the more provident watcher. God is the fountain of light, and He illumines one’s way when one is obedient. The disobedient make their moves before God makes His, or make them too late to follow Him. Be sure that God directs your way; then, hasten to follow under every circumstance.
Human will must be subjugated. We cannot obey both God, good, and evil,—in other words, the material senses, false suggestions, self-will, selfish motives, and human policy. We shall have no faith in evil when faith finds a resting-place and scientific understanding guides man. Honesty in every condition, under every circumstance, is the indispensable rule of obedience. To obey the principle of mathematics ninetynine times in one hundred and then allow one numeral to make incorrect your entire problem, is neither Science nor obedience.
However keenly the human affections yearn to forgive a mistake, and pass a friend over it smoothly, one’s sympathy can neither atone for error, advance individual growth, nor change this immutable decree of Love: “Keep My commandments.” The guerdon of meritorious faith or trustworthiness rests on being willing to work alone with God and for Him,—willing to suffer patiently for error until all error is destroyed and His rod and His staff comfort you.
Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness. Be of good cheer; the warfare with one’s self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you,—and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory. Every attempt of evil to harm good is futile, and ends in the fiery punishment of the evil-doer.
Jesus said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” If malicious suggestions whisper evil through the mind’s tympanum, this were no apology for acting evilly. We are responsible for our thoughts and acts; and instead of aiding other people’s devices by obeying them,—and then whining over misfortune,— rise and overthrow both. If a criminal coax the unwary man to commit a crime, our laws punish the dupe as accessory to the fact. Each individual is responsible for himself.
Evil is impotent to turn the righteous man from his uprightness. The nature of the individual, more stubborn than the circumstance, will always be found arguing for itself,—its habits, tastes, and indulgences. This material nature strives to tip the beam against the spiritual nature; for the flesh strives against Spirit,—against whatever or whoever opposes evil,—and weighs mightily in the scale against man’s high destiny. This conclusion is not an argument either for pessimism or for optimism, but is a plea for free moral agency,—full exemption from all necessity to obey a power that should be and is found powerless in Christian Science.
Insubordination to the law of Love even in the least, or strict obedience thereto, tests and discriminates between the real and the unreal Scientist. Justice, a prominent statute in the divine law, demands of all trespassers upon the sparse individual rights which one justly reserves to one’s self,—Would you consent that others should tear up your landmarks, manipulate your students, nullify or reverse your rules, countermand your orders, steal your possessions, and escape the penalty therefor? No! “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” The professors of Christian Science must take off their shoes at our altars; they must unclasp the material sense of things at the very threshold of Christian Science: they must obey implicitly each and every injunction of the divine Principle of life’s long problem, or repeat their work in tears. In the words of St. Paul, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Beloved students, loyal laborers are ye that have wrought valiantly, and achieved great guerdons in the vineyard of our Lord; but a mighty victory is yet to be won, a great freedom for the race; and Christian success is under arms,—with armor on, not laid down. Let us rejoice, however, that the clarion call of peace will at length be heard above the din of battle, and come more sweetly to our ear than sound of vintage bells to villagers on the Rhine.
I recommend that this Association hereafter meet triennially; many of its members reside a long distance from Massachusetts, and they are members of The Mother Church who would love to be with you on Sunday, and once in three years is perhaps as often as they can afford to be away from their own fields of labor.