Early workers in Christian Science
‘Go and take the little book . . . Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.’ Mortals, obey the heavenly evangel. Take divine Science. Read this book from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it. It will be indeed sweet at its first taste, when it heals you; but murmur not over Truth, if you find its digestion bitter.”
Mary Baker Eddy
(Science and Health With Key To The Scriptures 559:17)
Reminiscences by Edward P. Bates
While the church was in progress of construction, Mr. Whitcomb came in one morning with a very melancholy cast of countenance. I asked him what was the matter with him and he told me what he thought, which was serious enough, if it could not be removed. I said to him, “Why don’t you take some of my medicine?” He said he had tried it to some extent. Said I, “Have you studied the book (Science and Health)?” He replied that he had not. “Well,” I said, “that is the medicine. Didn’t the party who treated you advise you to study the book?”
He said, “No”
I replied to him, “Mr. Witcomb I think you are mistaken. The party who treated you must have asked you to read the book; you may have overlooked it. You did not think it of enough consequence. Now I will make a prescription for you. Go to the city, buy a book and read it.”
He answered, “I have no time.”
“How is your time occupied?”
“Well, he said, “for ten hours I am about my contracts, and a t home I have to make estimates and write and do various things, which consume my entire evening.”
I told him if he didn’t take time to read the book, he wouldn’t have time to do anything for very long. He admitted it. He finally agreed to buy a book and study it. I recommended him to go to one of the older students who would do good work and have treatment for a few days, to take his medicine every night and accept it whether the statements antagonized him or not, and he would be healed. After a few weeks, he came to me, his face beaming with joy. He said, “Mr. Bates, I am a well man. I did what you told me to do, and I am perfectly well for the first time in several years.” Other contractors and workmen were healed during the progress of the work on the church.
About the author:
Mr. Bates’ reminiscences give a graphic first-hand account of the building of the original Mother Church. He shows the guiding hand of Mrs. Eddy in this historical event, and his own indispensable role in it. When the building of the church came to a standstill in 1894, Mrs. Eddy prayed three months for someone who could complete it before the end of the year. She considered Mr. Bates the answer to this urgent need. Mr. Bates relates step by step the directions that Mrs. Eddy gave for building the church. At times her demands seemed unusual, unreasonable, almost impossible, but he obeyed with absolute trust in her judgment, and the church was finished on time.
In January, 1887, Edward and Caroline Bates took Primary Class with Mrs. Eddy. They took Normal Class under Mrs. Eddy in October, 1887, and a second Normal Class with her in March, 1889. This was Mrs. Eddy’s last class taught in the Metaphysical College. In 1887, Mr. Bates was asked to preach in The Mother Church on alternate Sundays, before the Lesson Sermon was instituted. Also in this year, he and his wife taught Christian Science classes in Syracuse, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut, among other places. In 1892, they were appointed First Members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.
At the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, Mr. Bates gave one of the addresses, at the request of Mrs. Eddy.
From November, 1894 to its completion and dedication, Mr. Bates at Mrs. Eddy’s request, supervised the construction of The Mother Church as the Board’s assistant. He was President of The Mother Church for four terms, a member of the Board of Directors, and a Trustee of the Christian Science Publishing Society. In addition to the tremendous time and effort given by the Bateses, Mrs. Bates donated a rose window to The Mother Church. She also designed the sunburst skylight in the auditorium.