Christian Science/Chapter VI (Book II)
Thus far we have a part of Mrs. Eddy's portrait. Not made of fictions, surmises, reports, rumors, innuendoes, dropped by her enemies; no, she has furnished all of the materials herself, and laid them on the canvas, under my general superintendence and direction. As far as she has gone with it, it is the presentation of a complacent, commonplace, illiterate New England woman who "forgot everything she knew" when she discovered her discovery, then wrote a Bible in good English under the inspiration of God, and climbed up it to the supremest summit of earthly grandeur attainable by man—where she sits serene to-day, beloved and worshiped by a multitude of human beings of as good average intelligence as is possessed by those that march under the banner of any competing cult. This is not intended to flatter the competing cults, it is merely a statement of cold fact.
That a commonplace person should go climbing aloft and become a god or a half-god or a quarter-god and be worshiped by men and women of average intelligence, is nothing. It has happened a million times, it will happen a hundred million more. It has been millions of years since the first of these supernaturals appeared, and by the time the last one in that inconceivably remote future shall have performed his solemn little high-jinks on the stage and closed the business, there will be enough of them accumulated in the museum on the Other Side to start a heaven of their own-and jam it.
Each in his turn those little supernaturals of our by-gone ages and aeons joined the monster procession of his predecessors and marched horizonward, disappeared, and was forgotten. They changed nothing, they built nothing, they left nothing behind them to remember them by, nothing to hold their disciples together, nothing to solidify their work and enable it to defy the assaults of time and the weather. They passed, and left a vacancy. They made one fatal mistake; they all made it, each in his turn: they failed to organize their forces, they failed to centralize their strength, they failed to provide a fresh Bible and a sure and perpetual cash income for business, and often they failed to provide a new and accepted Divine Personage to worship.
Mrs. Eddy is not of that small fry. The materials that go to the making of the rest of her portrait will prove it. She will furnish them herself:
She published her book. She copyrighted it. She copyrights everything. If she should say, "Good-morning; how do you do?" she would copyright it; for she is a careful person, and knows the value of small things.
She began to teach her Science, she began to heal, she began to gather converts to her new religion—fervent, sincere, devoted, grateful people. A year or two later she organized her first Christian Science "Association," with six of her disciples on the roster.
She continued to teach and heal. She was charging nothing, she says, although she was very poor. She taught and healed gratis four years altogether, she says.
Then, in 1879-81 she was become strong enough, and well enough established, to venture a couple of impressively important moves. The first of these moves was to aggrandize the "Association" to a "Church." Brave? It is the right name for it, I think. The former name suggests nothing, invited no remark, no criticism, no inquiry, no hostility; the new name invited them all. She must have made this intrepid venture on her own motion. She could have had no important advisers at that early day. If we accept it as her own idea and her own act—and I think we must—we have one key to her character. And it will explain subsequent acts of hers that would merely stun us and stupefy us without it. Shall we call it courage? Or shall we call it recklessness? Courage observes; reflects; calculates; surveys the whole situation; counts the cost, estimates the odds, makes up its mind; then goes at the enterprise resolute to win or perish. Recklessness does not reflect, it plunges fearlessly in with a hurrah, and takes the risks, whatever they may be, regardless of expense. Recklessness often fails, Mrs. Eddy has never failed—from the point of view of her followers. The point of view of other people is naturally not a matter of weighty importance to her.
The new Church was not born loose-jointed and featureless, but had a defined plan, a definite character, definite aims, and a name which was a challenge, and defied all comers. It was "a Mind-healing Church." It was "without a creed." Its name, "The Church of Christ, Scientist."
Mrs. Eddy could not copyright her Church, but she chartered it, which was the same thing and relieved the pain. It had twenty-six charter members. Mrs. Eddy was at once installed as its pastor.
The other venture, above referred to, was Mrs. Eddy's Massachusetts Metaphysical College, in which was taught "the pathology of spiritual power." She could not copyright it, but she got it chartered. For faculty it had herself, her husband of the period (Dr. Eddy), and her adopted son, Dr. Foster-Eddy. The college term was "barely three weeks," she says. Again she was bold, brave, rash, reckless—choose for yourself—for she not only began to charge the student, but charged him a hundred dollars a week for the enlightenments. And got it? some may ask. Easily. Pupils flocked from far and near. They came by the hundred. Presently the term was cut down nearly half, but the price remained as before. To be exact, the term-cut was to seven lessons—price, three hundred dollars. The college "yielded a large income." This is believable. In seven years Mrs. Eddy taught, as she avers, over four thousand students in it. (Preface to 1902 edition of Science and Health.) Three hundred times four thousand is—but perhaps you can cipher it yourself. I could do it ordinarily, but I fell down yesterday and hurt my leg. Cipher it; you will see that it is a grand sum for a woman to earn in seven years. Yet that was not all she got out of her college in the seven.
At the time that she was charging the primary student three hundred dollars for twelve lessons she was not content with this tidy assessment, but had other ways of plundering him. By advertisement she offered him privileges whereby he could add eighteen lessons to his store for five hundred dollars more. That is to say, he could get a total of thirty lessons in her college for eight hundred dollars.
Four thousand times eight hundred is—but it is a difficult sum for a cripple who has not been "demonstrated over" to cipher; let it go. She taught "over" four thousand students in seven years. "Over" is not definite, but it probably represents a non-paying surplus of learners over and above the paying four thousand. Charity students, doubtless. I think that as interesting an advertisement as has been printed since the romantic old days of the other buccaneers is this one from the Christian Science Journal for September, 1886:
"MASSACHUSETTS METAPHYSICAL COLLEGE
"Rev. MARY BAKER G. EDDY, PRESIDENT
"571 Columbus Avenue, Boston
"The collegiate course in Christian Science metaphysical healing includes twelve lessons. Tuition, three hundred dollars.
"Course in metaphysical obstetrics includes six daily lectures, and is open only to students from this college. Tuition, one hundred dollars.
"Class in theology, open (like the above) to graduates, receives six additional lectures on the Scriptures, and summary of the principle and practice of Christian Science, two hundred dollars.
"Normal class is open to those who have taken the first course at this college; six daily lectures complete the Normal course. Tuition, two hundred dollars.
"No invalids, and only persons of good moral character, are accepted as students. All students are subject to examination and rejection; and they are liable to leave the class if found unfit to remain in it.
"A limited number of clergymen received free of charge.
"Largest discount to indigent students, one hundred dollars on the first course.
"No deduction on the others.
"Husband and wife, entered together, three hundred dollars.
"Tuition for all strictly in advance."
There it is—the horse-leech's daughter alive again, after a three-century vacation. Fifty or sixty hours' lecturing for eight hundred dollars.
I was in error as to one matter: there are no charity students. Gratis-taught clergymen must not be placed under that head; they are merely an advertisement. Pauper students can get into the infant class on a two-third rate (cash in advance), but not even an archangel can get into the rest of the game at anything short of par, cash down. For it is "in the spirit of Christ's charity, as one who is joyful to hear healing to the sick" that Mrs. Eddy is working the game. She sends the healing to them outside. She cannot bear it to them inside the college, for the reason that she does not allow a sick candidate to get in. It is true that this smells of inconsistency, but that is nothing; Mrs. Eddy would not be Mrs. Eddy if she should ever chance to be consistent about anything two days running.
Except in the matter of the Dollar. The Dollar, and appetite for power and notoriety. English must also be added; she is always consistent, she is always Mrs. Eddy, in her English: it is always and consistently confused and crippled and poor. She wrote the Advertisement; her literary trade-marks are there. When she says all "students" are subject to examination, she does not mean students, she means candidates for that lofty place When she says students are "liable" to leave the class if found unfit to remain in it, she does not mean that if they find themselves unfit, or be found unfit by others, they will be likely to ask permission to leave the class; she means that if she finds them unfit she will be "liable" to fire them out. When she nobly offers "tuition for all strictly in advance," she does not mean "instruction for all in advance-payment for it later." No, that is only what she says, it is not what she means. If she had written Science and Health, the oldest man in the world would not be able to tell with certainty what any passage in it was intended to mean.
Her Church was on its legs.
She was its pastor. It was prospering.
She was appointed one of a committee to draught By-laws for its government. It may be observed, without overplus of irreverence, that this was larks for her. She did all of the draughting herself. From the very beginning she was always in the front seat when there was business to be done; in the front seat, with both eyes open, and looking sharply out for Number One; in the front seat, working Mortal Mind with fine effectiveness and giving Immortal Mind a rest for Sunday. When her Church was reorganized, by-and-by, the By-laws were retained. She saw to that. In these Laws for the government of her Church, her empire, her despotism, Mrs. Eddy's character is embalmed for good and all. I think a particularized examination of these Church-laws will be found interesting. And not the less so if we keep in mind that they were "impelled by a power not one's own," as she says—Anglice—the inspiration of God.
It is a Church "without a creed." Still, it has one. Mrs. Eddy draughted it—and copyrighted it. In her own name. You cannot become a member of the Mother-Church (nor of any Christian Science Church) without signing it. It forms the first chapter of the By-laws, and is called "Tenets." "Tenets of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist." It has no hell in it—it throws it overboard.
THE PASTOR EMERITUS
About the time of the reorganization, Mrs. Eddy retired from her position of pastor of her Church, abolished the office of pastor in all branch Churches, and appointed her book, Science and Health, to be pastor-universal. Mrs. Eddy did not disconnect herself from the office entirely, when she retired, but appointed herself Pastor Emeritus. It is a misleading title, and belongs to the family of that phrase "without a creed." It advertises her as being a merely honorary official, with nothing to do, and no authority. The Czar of Russia is Emperor Emeritus on the same terms. Mrs. Eddy was Autocrat of the Church before, with limitless authority, and she kept her grip on that limitless authority when she took that fictitious title.
It is curious and interesting to note with what an unerring instinct the Pastor Emeritus has thought out and forecast all possible encroachments upon her planned autocracy, and barred the way against them, in the By-laws which she framed and copyrighted—under the guidance of the Supreme Being.
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
For instance, when Article I. speaks of a President and Board of Directors, you think you have discovered a formidable check upon the powers and ambitions of the honorary pastor, the ornamental pastor, the functionless pastor, the Pastor Emeritus, but it is a mistake. These great officials are of the phrase—family of the Church-Without-a-Creed and the Pastor-With-Nothing-to-Do; that is to say, of the family of Large-Names-Which-Mean-Nothing. The Board is of so little consequence that the By-laws do not state how it is chosen, nor who does it; but they do state, most definitely, that the Board cannot fill a vacancy in its number "except the candidate is approved by the Pastor Emeritus."
The "candidate." The Board cannot even proceed to an election until the Pastor Emeritus has examined the list and squelched such candidates as are not satisfactory to her.
Whether the original first Board began as the personal property of Mrs. Eddy or not, it is foreseeable that in time, under this By-law, she would own it. Such a first Board might chafe under such a rule as that, and try to legislate it out of existence some day. But Mrs. Eddy was awake. She foresaw that danger, and added this ingenious and effective clause:
"This By-law can neither be amended nor annulled, except by consent of Mrs. Eddy, the Pastor Emeritus."
The Board of Directors, or Serfs, or Ciphers, elects the President.
On these clearly worded terms: "Subject to the approval of the Pastor Emeritus."
Therefore She elects him.
A long term can invest a high official with influence and power, and make him dangerous. Mrs. Eddy reflected upon that; so she limits the President's term to a year. She has a capable commercial head, an organizing head, a head for government.
TREASURER AND CLERK
There are a Treasurer and a Clerk. They are elected by the Board of Directors. That is to say, by Mrs. Eddy.
Their terms of office expire on the first Tuesday in June of each year, "or upon the election of their successors." They must be watchfully obedient and satisfactory to her, or she will elect and install their successors with a suddenness that can be unpleasant to them. It goes without saying that the Treasurer manages the Treasury to suit Mrs. Eddy, and is in fact merely Temporary Deputy Treasurer.
Apparently the Clerk has but two duties to perform: to read messages from Mrs. Eddy to First Members assembled in solemn Council, and provide lists of candidates for Church membership. The select body entitled First Members are the aristocracy of the Mother-Church, the Charter Members, the Aborigines, a sort of stylish but unsalaried little College of Cardinals, good for show, but not indispensable. Nobody is indispensable in Mrs. Eddy's empire; she sees to that.
When the Pastor Emeritus sends a letter or message to that little Sanhedrin, it is the Clerk's "imperative duty" to read it "at the place and time specified." Otherwise, the world might come to an end. These are fine, large frills, and remind us of the ways of emperors and such. Such do not use the penny-post, they send a gilded and painted special messenger, and he strides into the Parliament, and business comes to a sudden and solemn and awful stop; and in the impressive hush that follows, the Chief Clerk reads the document. It is his "imperative duty." If he should neglect it, his official life would end. It is the same with this Mother-Church Clerk; "if he fail to perform this important function of his office," certain majestic and unshirkable solemnities must follow: a special meeting "shall" be called; a member of the Church "shall" make formal complaint; then the Clerk "shall" be "removed from office." Complaint is sufficient, no trial is necessary.
There is something very sweet and juvenile and innocent and pretty about these little tinsel vanities, these grave apings of monarchical fuss and feathers and ceremony, here on our ostentatiously democratic soil. She is the same lady that we found in the Autobiography, who was so naively vain of all that little ancestral military riffraff that she had dug up and annexed. A person's nature never changes. What it is in childhood, it remains. Under pressure, or a change of interest, it can partially or wholly disappear from sight, and for considerable stretches of time, but nothing can ever permanently modify it, nothing can ever remove it.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
There isn't any—now. But with power and money piling up higher and higher every day and the Church's dominion spreading daily wider and farther, a time could come when the envious and ambitious could start the idea that it would be wise and well to put a watch upon these assets—a watch equipped with properly large authority. By custom, a Board of Trustees. Mrs. Eddy has foreseen that probability—for she is a woman with a long, long look ahead, the longest look ahead that ever a woman had—and she has provided for that emergency. In Art. I., Sec. 5, she has decreed that no Board of Trustees shall ever exist in the Mother-Church "except it be constituted by the Pastor Emeritus."
The magnificence of it, the daring of it! Thus far, she is:
The Massachusetts Metaphysical College; Pastor Emeritus; President; Board of Directors; Treasurer; Clerk; and future Board of Trustees;
and is still moving onward, ever onward. When I contemplate her from a commercial point of view, there are no words that can convey my admiration of her.
These are a feature of first importance in the church-machinery of Christian Science. For they occupy the pulpit. They hold the place that the preacher holds in the other Christian Churches. They hold that place, but they do not preach. Two of them are on duty at a time—a man and a woman. One reads a passage from the Bible, the other reads the explanation of it from Science and Health—and so they go on alternating. This constitutes the service—this, with choir-music. They utter no word of their own. Art. IV., Sec. 6, closes their mouths with this uncompromising gag:
"They shall make no remarks explanatory of the Lesson-Sermon at any time during the service."
It seems a simple little thing. One is not startled by it at a first reading of it; nor at the second, nor the third. One may have to read it a dozen times before the whole magnitude of it rises before the mind. It far and away oversizes and outclasses the best business-idea yet invented for the safe-guarding and perpetuating of a religion. If it had been thought of and put in force eighteen hundred and seventy years ago, there would be but one Christian sect in the world now, instead of ten dozens of them.
There are many varieties of men in the world, consequently there are many varieties of minds in its pulpits. This insures many differing interpretations of important Scripture texts, and this in turn insures the splitting up of a religion into many sects. It is what has happened; it was sure to happen.
Mrs. Eddy has noted this disastrous result of preaching, and has put up the bars. She will have no preaching in her Church. She has explained all essential Scriptures, and set the explanations down in her book. In her belief her underlings cannot improve upon those explanations, and in that stern sentence "they shall make no explanatory remarks" she has barred them for all time from trying. She will be obeyed; there is no question about that.
In arranging her government she has borrowed ideas from various sources—not poor ones, but the best in the governmental market—but this one is new, this one came out of no ordinary business-head, this one must have come out of her own, there has been no other commercial skull in a thousand centuries that was equal to it. She has borrowed freely and wisely, but I am sure that this idea is many times larger than all her borrowings bulked together. One must respect the business-brain that produced it—the splendid pluck and impudence that ventured to promulgate it, anyway.
ELECTION OF READERS
Readers are not taken at hap-hazard, any more than preachers are taken at hap-hazard for the pulpits of other sects. No, Readers are elected by the Board of Directors. But—
"Section 3. The Board shall inform the Pas. for Emeritus of the names of candidates for Readers before they are elected, and if she objects to the nomination, said candidates shall not be chosen."
Is that an election—by the Board? Thus far I have not been able to find out what that Board of Spectres is for. It certainly has no real function, no duty which the hired girl could not perform, no office beyond the mere recording of the autocrat's decrees.
There are no dangerously long office-terms in Mrs. Eddy's government. The Readers are elected for but one year. This insures their subserviency to their proprietor.
Readers are not allowed to copy out passages and read them from the manuscript in the pulpit; they must read from Mrs. Eddy's book itself. She is right. Slight changes could be slyly made, repeated, and in time get acceptance with congregations. Branch sects could grow out of these practices. Mrs. Eddy knows the human race, and how far to trust it. Her limit is not over a quarter of an inch. It is all that a wise person will risk.
Mrs. Eddy's inborn disposition to copyright everything, charter everything, secure the rightful and proper credit to herself for everything she does, and everything she thinks she does, and everything she thinks, and everything she thinks she thinks or has thought or intends to think, is illustrated in Sec. 5 of Art. IV., defining the duties of official Readers—in church:
"Naming Book and Author. The Reader of Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, before commencing to read from this book, shall distinctly announce its full title and give the author's name."
Otherwise the congregation might get the habit of forgetting who (ostensibly) wrote the book.
This consists of First Members and their apostolic succession. It is a close corporation, and its membership limit is one hundred. Forty will answer, but if the number fall below that, there must be an election, to fill the grand quorum.
This Sanhedrin can't do anything of the slightest importance, but it can talk. It can "discuss." That is, it can discuss "important questions relative to Church members", evidently persons who are already Church members. This affords it amusement, and does no harm.
It can "fix the salaries of the Readers."
Twice a year it "votes on" admitting candidates. That is, for Church membership. But its work is cut out for it beforehand, by Art. IX.:
"Every recommendation for membership In the Church 'shall be countersigned by a loyal student of Mrs. Eddy's, by a Director of this Church, or by a First Member.'"
All these three classes of beings are the personal property of Mrs. Eddy. She has absolute control of the elections.
Also it must "transact any Church business that may properly come before it."
"Properly" is a thoughtful word. No important business can come before it. The By laws have attended to that. No important business goes before any one for the final word except Mrs. Eddy. She has looked to that.
The Sanhedrin "votes on" candidates for admission to its own body. But is its vote worth any more than mine would be? No, it isn't. Sec. 4, of Art. V.—Election of First Members—makes this quite plain:
"Before being elected, the candidates for First Members shall be approved by the Pastor Emeritus over her own signature."
Thus the Sanhedrin is the personal property of Mrs. Eddy. She owns it. It has no functions, no authority, no real existence. It is another Board of Shadows. Mrs. Eddy is the Sanhedrin herself.
But it is time to foot up again and "see where we are at." Thus far, Mrs. Eddy is:
The Massachusetts Metaphysical College; Pastor Emeritus, President; Board of Directors; Treasurer; Clerk; Future Board of Trustees; Proprietor of the Priesthood: Dictator of the Services; Proprietor of the Sanhedrin. She has come far, and is still on her way.
In this Article there is another exhibition of a couple of the large features of Mrs. Eddy's remarkable make-up: her business-talent and her knowledge of human nature.
She does not beseech and implore people to join her Church. She knows the human race better than that. She gravely goes through the motions of reluctantly granting admission to the applicant as a favor to him. The idea is worth untold shekels. She does not stand at the gate of the fold with welcoming arms spread, and receive the lost sheep with glad emotion and set up the fatted calf and invite the neighbor and have a time. No, she looks upon him coldly, she snubs him, she says:
"Who are you? Who is your sponsor? Who asked you to come here? Go away, and don't come again until you are invited."
It is calculated to strikingly impress a person accustomed to Moody and Sankey and Sam Jones revivals; accustomed to brain-turning appeals to the unknown and unendorsed sinner to come forward and enter into the joy, etc.—"just as he is"; accustomed to seeing him do it; accustomed to seeing him pass up the aisle through sobbing seas of welcome, and love, and congratulation, and arrive at the mourner's bench and be received like a long-lost government bond.
No, there is nothing of that kind in Mrs. Eddy's system. She knows that if you wish to confer upon a human being something which he is not sure he wants, the best way is to make it apparently difficult for him to get it—then he is no son of Adam if that apple does not assume an interest in his eyes which it lacked before. In time this interest can grow into desire. Mrs. Eddy knows that when you cannot get a man to try—free of cost—a new and effective remedy for a disease he is afflicted with, you can generally sell it to him if you will put a price upon it which he cannot afford. When, in the beginning, she taught Christian Science gratis (for good reasons), pupils were few and reluctant, and required persuasion; it was when she raised the limit to three hundred dollars for a dollar's worth that she could not find standing room for the invasion of pupils that followed.
With fine astuteness she goes through the motions of making it difficult to get membership in her Church. There is a twofold value in this system: it gives membership a high value in the eyes of the applicant; and at the same time the requirements exacted enable Mrs. Eddy to keep him out if she has doubts about his value to her. A word further as to applications for membership:
"Applications of students of the Metaphysical College must be signed by the Board of Directors."
That is safe. Mrs. Eddy is proprietor of that Board.
Children of twelve may be admitted if invited by "one of Mrs. Eddy's loyal students, or by a First Member, or by a Director."
These sponsors are the property of Mrs. Eddy, therefore her Church is safeguarded from the intrusion of undesirable children.
Other Students. Applicants who have not studied with Mrs. Eddy can get in only "by invitation and recommendation from students of Mrs. Eddy.... or from members of the Mother-Church."
Other paragraphs explain how two or three other varieties of applicants are to be challenged and obstructed, and tell us who is authorized to invite them, recommend them endorse them, and all that.
The safeguards are definite, and would seem to be sufficiently strenuous—to Mr. Sam Jones, at any rate. Not for Mrs. Eddy. She adds this clincher:
"The candidates be elected by a majority vote of the First Members present."
That is the aristocracy, the aborigines, the Sanhedrin. It is Mrs. Eddy's property. She herself is the Sanhedrin. No one can get into the Church if she wishes to keep him out.
This veto power could some time or other have a large value for her, therefore she was wise to reserve it.
It is likely that it is not frequently used. It is also probable that the difficulties attendant upon getting admission to membership have been instituted more to invite than to deter, more to enhance the value of membership and make people long for it than to make it really difficult to get. I think so, because the Mother. Church has many thousands of members more than its building can accommodate.
AND SOME ENGLISH REQUIRED
Mrs. Eddy is very particular as regards one detail curiously so, for her, all things considered. The Church Readers must be "good English scholars"; they must be "thorough English scholars."
She is thus sensitive about the English of her subordinates for cause, possibly. In her chapter defining the duties of the Clerk there is an indication that she harbors resentful memories of an occasion when the hazy quality of her own English made unforeseen and mortifying trouble:
"Understanding Communications. Sec. 2. If the Clerk of this Church shall receive a communication from the Pastor Emeritus which he does not fully understand, he shall inform her of this fact before presenting it to the Church, and obtain a clear understanding of the matter—then act in accordance therewith."
She should have waited to calm down, then, but instead she added this, which lacks sugar:
"Failing to adhere to this By-law, the Clerk must resign."
I wish I could see that communication that broke the camel's back. It was probably the one beginning: "What plague spot or bacilli were gnawing at the heart of this metropolis and bringing it on bended knee?" and I think it likely that the kindly disposed Clerk tried to translate it into English and lost his mind and had to go to the hospital. That Bylaw was not the offspring of a forecast, an intuition, it was certainly born of a sorrowful experience. Its temper gives the fact away.
The little book of By-laws has manifestly been tinkered by one of Mrs. Eddy's "thorough English scholars," for in the majority of cases its meanings are clear. The book is not even marred by Mrs. Eddy's peculiar specialty—lumbering clumsinesses of speech. I believe the salaried polisher has weeded them all out but one. In one place, after referring to Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy goes on to say "the Bible and the above-named book, with other works by the same author," etc.
It is an unfortunate sentence, for it could mislead a hasty or careless reader for a moment. Mrs. Eddy framed it—it is her very own—it bears her trade-mark. "The Bible and Science and Health, with other works by the same author," could have come from no literary vacuum but the one which produced the remark (in the Autobiography): "I remember reading, in my childhood, certain manuscripts containing Scriptural Sonnets, besides other verses and enigmas."
We know what she means, in both instances, but a low-priced Clerk would not necessarily know, and on a salary like his he could quite excusably aver that the Pastor Emeritus had commanded him to come and make proclamation that she was author of the Bible, and that she was thinking of discharging some Scriptural sonnets and other enigmas upon the congregation. It could lose him his place, but it would not be fair, if it happened before the edict about "Understanding Communications" was promulgated.
The By-law book makes a showy pretence of orderliness and system, but it is only a pretence. I will not go so far as to say it is a harum-scarum jumble, for it is not that, but I think it fair to say it is at least jumbulacious in places. For instance, Articles III. and IV. set forth in much detail the qualifications and duties of Readers, she then skips some thirty pages and takes up the subject again. It looks like slovenliness, but it may be only art. The belated By-law has a sufficiently quiet look, but it has a ton of dynamite in it. It makes all the Christian Science Church Readers on the globe the personal chattels of Mrs. Eddy. Whenever she chooses, she can stretch her long arm around the world's fat belly and flirt a Reader out of his pulpit, though he be tucked away in seeming safety and obscurity in a lost village in the middle of China:
"In any Church. Sec. 2. The Pastor Emeritus of the Mother-Church shall have the right (through a letter addressed to the individual and Church of which he is the Reader) to remove a Reader from this office in any Church of Christ, Scientist, both in America and in foreign nations; or to appoint the Reader to fill any office belonging to the Christian Science denomination."
She does not have to prefer charges against him, she does not have to find him lazy, careless, incompetent, untidy, ill-mannered, unholy, dishonest, she does not have to discover a fault of any kind in him, she does not have to tell him nor his congregation why she dismisses and disgraces him and insults his meek flock, she does not have to explain to his family why she takes the bread out of their mouths and turns them out-of-doors homeless and ashamed in a strange land; she does not have to do anything but send a letter and say: "Pack!—and ask no questions!"
Has the Pope this power?—the other Pope—the one in Rome. Has he anything approaching it? Can he turn a priest out of his pulpit and strip him of his office and his livelihood just upon a whim, a caprice, and meanwhile furnishing no reasons to the parish? Not in America. And not elsewhere, we may believe.
It is odd and strange, to see intelligent and educated people among us worshipping this self-seeking and remorseless tyrant as a God. This worship is denied—by persons who are themselves worshippers of Mrs. Eddy. I feel quite sure that it is a worship which will continue during ages.
That Mrs. Eddy wrote that amazing By-law with her own hand we have much better evidence than her word. We have her English. It is there. It cannot be imitated. She ought never to go to the expense of copyrighting her verbal discharges. When any one tries to claim them she should call me; I can always tell them from any other literary apprentice's at a glance. It was like her to call America a "nation"; she would call a sand-bar a nation if it should fall into a sentence in which she was speaking of peoples, for she would not know how to untangle it and get it out and classify it by itself. And the closing arrangement of that By-law is in true Eddysonian form, too. In it she reserves authority to make a Reader fill any office connected with a Science church-sexton, grave-digger, advertising-agent, Annex-polisher, leader of the choir, President, Director, Treasurer, Clerk, etc. She did not mean that. She already possessed that authority. She meant to clothe herself with power, despotic and unchallengeable, to appoint all Science Readers to their offices, both at home and abroad. The phrase "or to appoint" is another miscarriage of intention; she did not mean "or," she meant "and."
That By-law puts into Mrs. Eddy's hands absolute command over the most formidable force and influence existent in the Christian Science kingdom outside of herself, and it does this unconditionally and (by auxiliary force of Laws already quoted) irrevocably. Still, she is not quite satisfied. Something might happen, she doesn't know what. Therefore she drives in one more nail, to make sure, and drives it deep:
"This By-law can neither be amended nor annulled, except by consent of the Pastor Emeritus."
Let some one with a wild and delirious fancy try and see if he can imagine her furnishing that consent.
MONOPOLY OF SPIRITUAL BREAD
Very properly, the first qualification for membership in the Mother-Church is belief in the doctrines of Christian Science.
But these doctrines must not be gathered from secondary sources. There is but one recognized source. The candidate must be a believer in the doctrines of Christian Science "according to the platform and teaching contained in the Christian Science text-book, 'Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures,' by Rev. Mary Baker G. Eddy."
That is definite, and is final. There are to be no commentaries, no labored volumes of exposition and explanation by anybody except Mrs. Eddy. Because such things could sow error, create warring opinions, split the religion into sects, and disastrously cripple its power. Mrs. Eddy will do the whole of the explaining, Herself—has done it, in fact. She has written several books. They are to be had (for cash in advance), they are all sacred; additions to them can never be needed and will never be permitted. They tell the candidate how to instruct himself, how to teach others, how to do all things comprised in the business—and they close the door against all would-be competitors, and monopolize the trade:
"The Bible and the above—named book [Science and Health], with other works by the same author," must be his only text-books for the commerce—he cannot forage outside.
Mrs. Eddy's words are to be the sole elucidators of the Bible and Science and Health—forever. Throughout the ages, whenever there is doubt as to the meaning of a passage in either of these books the inquirer will not dream of trying to explain it to himself; he would shudder at the thought of such temerity, such profanity, he would be haled to the Inquisition and thence to the public square and the stake if he should be caught studying into text-meanings on his own hook; he will be prudent and seek the meanings at the only permitted source, Mrs. Eddy's commentaries.
Value of this Strait-jacket. One must not underrate the magnificence of this long-headed idea, one must not underestimate its giant possibilities in the matter of trooping the Church solidly together and keeping it so. It squelches independent inquiry, and makes such a thing impossible, profane, criminal, it authoritatively settles every dispute that can arise. It starts with finality—a point which the Roman Church has travelled towards fifteen or sixteen centuries, stage by stage, and has not yet reached. The matter of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was not authoritatively settled until the days of Pius IX.—yesterday, so to speak.
As already noticed, the Protestants are broken up into a long array of sects, a result of disputes about the meanings of texts, disputes made unavoidable by the absence of an infallible authority to submit doubtful passages to. A week or two ago (I am writing in the middle of January, 1903), the clergy and others hereabouts had a warm dispute in the papers over this question: Did Jesus anywhere claim to be God? It seemed an easy question, but it turned out to be a hard one. It was ably and elaborately discussed, by learned men of several denominations, but in the end it remained unsettled.
A week ago, another discussion broke out. It was over this text:
"Sell all that thou hast and distribute unto the poor."
One verdict was worded as follows:
"When Christ answered the rich young man and said for him to give to the poor all he possessed or he could not gain everlasting life, He did not mean it in the literal sense. My interpretation of His words is that we should part with what comes between us and Christ.
"There is no doubt that Jesus believed that the rich young man thought more of his wealth than he did of his soul, and, such being the case, it was his duty to give up the wealth.
"Every one of us knows that there is something we should give up for Christ. Those who are true believers and followers know what they have given up, and those who are not yet followers know down in their hearts what they must give up."
Ten clergymen of various denominations were interviewed, and nine of them agreed with that verdict. That did not settle the matter, because the tenth said the language of Jesus was so strait and definite that it explained itself: "Sell all," not a percentage.
There is a most unusual feature about that dispute: the nine persons who decided alike, quoted not a single authority in support of their position. I do not know when I have seen trained disputants do the like of that before. The nine merely furnished their own opinions, founded upon—nothing at all. In the other dispute ("Did Jesus anywhere claim to be God?") the same kind of men—trained and learned clergymen—backed up their arguments with chapter and verse. On both sides. Plenty of verses. Were no reinforcing verses to be found in the present case? It looks that way.
The opinion of the nine seems strange to me, for it is unsupported by authority, while there was at least constructive authority for the opposite view.
It is hair-splitting differences of opinion over disputed text-meanings that have divided into many sects a once united Church. One may infer from some of the names in the following list that some of the differences are very slight—so slight as to be not distinctly important, perhaps—yet they have moved groups to withdraw from communions to which they belonged and set up a sect of their own. The list—accompanied by various Church statistics for 1902, compiled by Rev. Dr. H. K. Carroll—was published, January 8, 1903, in the New York Christian Advocate:
Adventists (6 bodies), Baptists (13 bodies), Brethren (Plymouth) (4 bodies), Brethren (River) (3 bodies), Catholics (8 bodies), Catholic Apostolic, Christadelphians, Christian Connection, Christian Catholics, Christian Missionary Association, Christian Scientists, Church of God (Wine-brennarian), Church of the New Jerusalem, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, Dunkards (4 bodies), Evangelical (2 bodies), Friends (4 bodies), Friends of the Temple, German Evangelical Protestant, German Evangelical Synod, Independent congregations, Jews (2 bodies), Latter-day Saints (2 bodies), Lutherans (22 bodies), Mennonites (12 bodies), Methodists (17 bodies), Moravians, Presbyterians (12 bodies), Protestant Episcopal (2 bodies), Reformed (3 bodies), Schwenkfeldians, Social Brethren, Spiritualists, Swedish Evangelical Miss. Covenant (Waldenstromians), Unitarians, United Brethren (2 bodies), Universalists.
Total of sects and splits—139.
In the present month (February), Mr. E. I. Lindh, A.M., has communicated to the Boston Transcript a hopeful article on the solution of the problem of the "divided church." Divided is not too violent a term. Subdivided could have been permitted if he had thought of it. He came near thinking of it, for he mentions some of the subdivisions himself: "the 12 kinds of Presbyterians, the 17 kinds of Methodists, the 13 kinds of Baptists, etc." He overlooked the 12 kinds of Mennonites and the 22 kinds of Lutherans, but they are in Rev. Mr. Carroll's list. Altogether, 76 splits under 5 flags. The Literary Digest (February 14th) is pleased with Mr. Lindh's optimistic article, and also with the signs of the times, and perceives that "the idea of Church unity is in the air."
Now, then, is not Mrs. Eddy profoundly wise in forbidding, for all time, all explanations of her religion except such as she shall let on to be her own?
I think so. I think there can be no doubt of it. In a way, they will be her own; for, no matter which member of her clerical staff shall furnish the explanations, not a line of them will she ever allow to be printed until she shall have approved it, accepted it, copyrighted it, cabbaged it. We may depend on that with a four-ace confidence.