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.