Nothing has got the human race into more trouble than its habit of following and being followed. It is a vice which has appealed to ambition and vanity on one side, and to weakness and laziness upon the other. The human being has rarely existed whom it has been safe to place in a position of undisputed authority. Where such a human being has existed, that human being has been dominated in a remarkable degree by the Christ-spirit. The history of autocracies is the history of shipwrecked reputations. So clearly did Mrs. Eddy understand this that twice in her Messages to The Mother Church, those for 1901 and 1902, she insisted to her followers that they must follow her only as she followed the Christ, Truth. On page 34 of the Message for 1901, she writes, "Finally, brethren, wait patiently on God; return blessing for cursing; be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good; be steadfast, abide and abound in faith, understanding, and good works; study the Bible and the textbook of our denomination; obey strictly the laws that be, and follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ," whilst, on page 4 of the Message for 1902, she says, "Competition in commerce, deceit in councils, dishonor in nations, dishonesty in trusts, begin with 'Who shall be greatest?' I again repeat, Follow your Leader, only so far as she follows Christ."

With such a warning before the world it might have been imagined that people would have been cautions of giving advice, cautions of telling their neighbors how to act in difficult circumstances, cautious, in short, of attempting to stand in the place of Principle. Equally it might have been imagined that mankind would have been cautions of accepting counsels, cautions of the attempt to unload its own responsibilities on its neighbors, cautious of permitting itself to be thought for. History shows us a condition of things the very reverse of this. Any man has been able to get a following who has had the ambition, the vanity, or the folly to desire one. Apollonius of Tyana and Alexander of Abonouteichos had as little trouble in doing this as did Judas Maccabæus or Saul the king. The people swarmed to Alexander and his hooded snake, just as they forced Samuel to make Saul king over them. Choose any century you wish, and the story is the same. Lodowicke Muggleton was, in his day, even more successful than Fox the Quaker.

It of course takes two to make a party, and it must not be forgotten that the follower is perhaps even more to blame than the leader. Which of them suffers more in the long run it would be difficult to say. The follower loses his power of initiative and his freedom of judgment. The leader gradually develops into imagining himself far above the common clay. Never was Mrs. Eddy's wisdom more clearly seen than in her insistence that those working with her should accept their own responsibilities, make their own decisions, and bear the brunt of their own actions. She would give the wisest of advice, criticize in the most helpful way, and illuminate the situation with extraordinary understanding, but always after the event. She never steadied the ark for her followers, and never weakened their resource or judgment by taking the responsibilities from their shoulders. Thus she prevented, so far as lay in her power, the growth of the race of "shepherds" which wields the crook in its own interests; the race of shepherds of which Isaiah wrote, "They are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter."

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The Writing of Articles
October 29, 1921

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