I Have called your attention to the discrediting which befell the Irvingite gifts. This discrediting was wrought not only by the course of history which confounded all the expectations based on them, but also by the confession which was made by one and another of the "gifted" persons that they had suffered from delusion. Let me remind you of this, and at the same time point out that all the gifts are involved in this discrediting. The characteristic Irvingite gift was the "tongues," and the accompanying "prophecy." Robert Baxter introduced a new manifestation of authoritative and predictive deliverances, which was assumed to belong to the "Apostolic" gift. But all the "prophets" committed themselves, when speaking in "the power," to the genuineness of his inspiration. Their credit falls thus with his. But again, their gifts are inextricably bound up with the gift of "healing." You will remember that Mary Campbell "spoke with tongues" before she was healed; and that the descent of the "power" on Margaret Macdonald was preliminary to its descent on James Macdonald, who by it was made the first faithhealer of the movement. By him both Margaret Macdonald's and Mary Campbell's healing was performed— the initial steps of the restoration of the "gifts."
It is impossible to separate these cases of healing from the other gifts with which they are historically connected. And in general the several "gifts" appear on the pages of the New Testament together, and form so clearly connected a body that it would be difficult to separate them from one another. Nevertheless many attempt their separation, and, discarding or at any rate neglecting the other gifts revived in the Irvingite movement, contend vigorously that the gift of healing the sick is a permanent endowment of the church, and has been illustrated by numerous cases essentially like those of Margaret Macdonald and Mary Campbell down to to-day. This assertion is very clearly made by a clergyman of the church of England, Joseph William Reynolds, in a book dealing with what he calls The Natural History of Immortality, "Many facts, attested by honest, capable, painstaking witnesses," he says,1 "show the reality in our own days of healings which exceed the limits of all known natural and human means, so that no reasonable doubt ought to exist as to their being given of God in confirmation of our Christian faith. Clergy and laity of the English church, various nonconforming ministers, medical men, lawyers, and professors of physical science, with a large number of healed persons, present indisputable evidence that the Gift of Healing is now, as in the Apostolic Age, one of the signs which follow those who believe." The claim is precise, and the belief which it expresses is somewhat wide-spread. Already thirty years ago (1887)2 there were more than thirty "Faith-Homes" established in America, for the treatment of disease by prayer alone; and in England and on the European Continent there were many more. International conferences had already been held by its advocates, and conventions of narrower constituency beyond number. It counts adherents in every church, and, if for no other reason than its great diffusion, it demands careful attention.
I am a little embarrassed to know how to take up the subject so as to do it justice and to bring the full truth out clearly. On the whole, I fancy it will be fairest to select a representative book advocating this teaching, and to begin with an analysis of its argument. The way being thus opened, we shall probably be able to orient ourselves with reference to the problem itself in a comparatively brief V_ space. The book I have selected for this purpose as, on the whole, at once the most readable and the most rational presentation of the views of the Faith-Healers, is Doctor A. J. Gordon's The Ministry of Healing, or Miracles of Cure) in All Ages. The copy of this book at my disposal belongs" to the second, revised edition, issued in 1883. Gordon writes in a straightforward, businesslike style, in excellent spirit, with great skill in arranging his matter and developing his subject, and with a very persuasive and even ingenious disposition of his argument, so as to present his case in the most attractive way. He expresses his purpose as "to let the history of the church of all ages answer to the teaching of the Scriptures on this question, without presuming to dogmatize on it himself."3 Already we get the impression that he knows how to present his matter so as not only to please readers, but also to remove such prejudices against his cause as may be lurking in their minds, and to predispose them to follow his guidance. We do not lose this impression as we read on. After an introductory chapter on "The Question and Its Bearings," we are at once given a series of chapters on "The Testimony of Scripture," "The Testimony of Reason," "The Testimony of the Church," "The Testimony of Theologians," "The Testimony of Missions," "The Testimony of the Adversary," "The Testimony of Experience," "The Testimony of the Healed." You will observe the power of such a disposition of the matter; it almost convinces us to read over the mere titles of the chapters. At the end there come two chapters on the "Verdict"—called respectively the "Verdict of Candor" and the "Verdict of Caution"—and finally the "Conclusion." We must now look a little more closely into the contents of this full and admirably marshalled argument.
Our logical sense meets with a shock at the first opening of the volume. On the very first page the author represents asking the question, What is a miracle? as "evading the issue"; and toward the close of the first chapter he formally declines to define a miracle. This, as the outcome of a chapter on "The Question and its Bearings," beginning a volume undertaking to give proof of the existence of "miracles of cure in all ages," is far from reassuring. We open our eyes wider, however, when we observe that this method of dealing with the subject is not peculiar to this author, but is somewhat characteristic of the advocates of Faith-Healing. Robert L. Stanton, for example, in an able essay printed in The Presbyterian Review, takes up the same position.4 "It is well in the outset," he says, "to have a definite conception of the topic to be handled." He then proceeds by way of rendering the subject more definite to express a preference for "tie category of the supernatural, instead of that of the miraculous." Such methods can bear only one of two meanings. They either yield the question in debate altogether—for no one who is a Christian in any clear sense doubts that God hears and answers prayer for the healing of the sick in a generally supernatural manner—or else they confuse the issue. The former is certainly not their intention; these writers do not mean to yield the point of the strict miraculousness of Faith-Healing. Stanton's selected instances, on which he rests his defense of Faith-Healing, are all such as are meant to demonstrate specifically miraculous working. Everywhere the use of means naturally adapted to bring the cure about, such as the surgeon's knife or the articles of the materia medica, are, if not forbidden, yet certainly discouraged by the practitioners of Faith-Healing, and represented as a mark of lack of trust in God; and dependence on God alone, apart from all use of natural means, is represented as the very essence of the matter.5 After refusing at the outset to define a miracle, we observe Gordon, accordingly, showing no hesitancy later on in defining it sharply enough, and asserting that it is just this which is wrought in Faith-Healing. When the testimony is all in, and he comes to deliver the verdict, he declares decisively,9 "a miracle is the immediate action of God, as distinguished from His mediate action through natural laws"—than • which no definition could be clearer or better. This, he now says, this and nothing else, is what we pray for in FaithHealing. It is plain, therefore, that these writers do not mean to yield the question when they decline to define a miracle at the beginning of their arguments. Precisely what they contend for is that express miracles of healing—■ healings by the "immediate action of God, as distinguished from His mediate action through natural laws"—still take place in numerous instances. The only effect of their refusal of definition at the outset, therefore, is to confuse the issue.
Now, this confusion of the issue is a very serious matter. It has first of all the effect of permitting long lists of unsifted cases to be pleaded as proofs of the proposition defended, although a large number of these cases would be at once excluded from consideration on a closer definition of exactly what is to be proved. Thus the verdict of the simple reader is forced, as it were: he is led to look upon every instance of answer to prayer as a case in point, and is gradually led on through the argument in the delusion that these are all miracles. It has next the effect of unjustly prejudicing the reader against those who feel constrained to doubt the reality of specifically miraculous Faith-Healing as if they denied the supernatural, or any real, answer to prayer, instead of merely the continuance through all time of the specific mode of answer to prayer which comes by miracle. The confusions thus engendered in the reader's mind are apt, moreover, to eat pretty deeply into his own modes of thinking, and to end by betraying him into serious errors. He is likely, for example, to be led to suppose that in the cases adduced for his consideration he has examples of what real miracles are; and thus to reduce the idea of miracles to the level of these FaithHealings, assimilating the miracles of our Lord, for exampie, to them and denying that miracles in the strict sense have ever been wrought, even by our Lord. Or, on the other hand, under a more or less vague consciousness that the instances of Faith-Healing adduced do not prove what they are really adduced to prove, he may gain the impression that they do not prove what they are ostensibly adduced to prove, that is to say, the supernatural answer to prayer; and thus he may be betrayed into doubting the reality of any answer to prayer whatever. Readers of the literature of Faith-Healing will not need to be told that no merely hypothetical effects of this confusing way of arguing the question are here suggested. Each of these effects has actually been produced in the case of numerous readers.
So far is confusion between things that differ pressed, in the attempt to obtain some petty argumentative advantage, that, not content with refusing to discriminate miracles (the continued recurrence of which some deny) from special providences (which all heartily recognize as continually occurring), some writers make a vigorous effort also to confound the miraculous healing of the body with the supernatural regeneration of the soul, as not merely analogous transactions, but transactions so much the same in essence that the one cannot be denied and the other affirmed. Gordon permits himself, for example, to write: "Is it right for us to pray to God to perform a miracle of healing in our behalf? 'The truth is,' answers an eminent writer,7 'that to ask God to act at all, and to ask Him to perform a miracle are one and the same thing. . . .' We see no reason, therefore, why we should hesitate to pray for the healing of our bodies any more than the renewal of our souls. Both are miracles. ..." 8 The effect of writing like this is obviously to identify miraculous FaithHealing with the cause of supernaturalism in general; and thus the unwary reader is led, because he believes in the regeneration of the soul by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit and in a prayer-hearing God, to fancy that he must therefore believe in miraculous Faith-Healing. A very unfair advantage is thus gained in the argument.
The deeper danger to the reasoner himself which comes from thus obscuring the lines which divide miracles, specifically so called, from the general supernatural, although already incidentally suggested, seems to require at this point more explicit notice. When once the distinguishing mark of miracles is obliterated, it is easy to eliminate the specifically miraculous altogether by the simple expedient of sinking it in the general supernatural; and that not merely in contemporary Christianity, but in the origins of Christianity also. Numerous recent advocates of Faith-Healing have definitely entered upon this path. Thus Prebendary Reynolds, to whose book allusion has already been made, is perfectly sure that the miracles of Faith-Healing are as truly miracles as those that Christ wrought while on earth. But, the fence between miracles properly so-called and the general supernatural having been conveniently let down for him by his instructors, he is not so sure that miracles, in the sense of effects wrought immediately by God without the intervention of natural forces, ever occurred. He seeks analogies in mesmerism, hypnotism, and the like, and permits himself to write a passage like this: "Dr. Rudolf Heidenhaim gently stroked once or twice along Dr. Kroner's bent right arm; at once it became quite stiff. Other muscles, other members can be acted on in like manner. The effects are similar to effects produced by catalepsy. This shows how easy it was for our Lord, with His divine knowledge and power, to work every kind of healing." 9 Even Prebendary W. Yorke Fausset insists that the healing works of our Lord were wrought by Him not in virtue of His Deity but on the plane of His humanity, and differ not in kind but in degree "from the wonderful works of human healing, or, at all events, of healers who have wrought 'in the name of Jesus Christ'" —in which, it is needless to say, he finds nothing that is strictly miraculous, though everything that is "spiritual," that is to say, supernatural.10 Some may look upon this movement of thought, to be sure, with indifference. The late Charles A. Briggs, for example, taught that "if it were possible to resolve all the miracles of the Old Testament into extraordinary acts of Divine Providence, using the forces and forms of nature in accordance with the laws of nature; and if we could explain all the miracles of Jesus, His unique authority over man and over nature, from His use of mind-cure, or hypnotism, or any other occult power," "nothing essential would be lost from the miracles of the Bible." 11 Few of us will be able, however, to follow Doctor Briggs in this judgment, a judgment which would confound Moses with the magicians at Pharaoh's court, and reduce our Lord, in these of His activities at least, from the manifestation of God in the flesh to the exhibition of the occult powers of man. It is not easy to view, therefore, with other than grave apprehension the breaking down of the distinction between miracles and the general supernatural; because it tends to obliterate the category of the miraculous altogether, and in the long run to assimilate the mighty works of our Lord to—we put it at its best— the wonders of science, and Him, as their worker, to—we still put it at its best—the human sage.12
There is yet another effect, coming, however, from the opposite angle, which follows on breaking down the distinction between miracle and the general supernatural, that we should not pass by without notice. What is the natural attitude of a man expecting a miracle? Simple expectancy, of course; just quiet waiting. But what is the natural attitude of a man praying for help from God, which is expected to come to him through the ordinary channels of law? Equally, of course, eager activity directed to the production of the desired result. Hence the proverb, God helps those who help themselves; and the exhortation, on a higher plane, Work and pray. No man prays God for a good harvest and then neglects to plan and plant and cultivate. If he did he knows perfectly well he would neither deserve nor receive the harvest. Similarly God requires effort on the part of those who receive His supernatural salvation—even though there are elements in it which do not come by " law." "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," Paul commands, "for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." One would think that Gordon, who insists that the healing of our bodies and the renewal of our souls stand on the same plane with respect to the nature of the Divine activities involved, would infer from such a passage that since the gift of salvation from God does not supersede our duty to work out our own salvation, so the gift of bodily healing from God cannot supersede the duty of working out our own healing—each by the use of the appropriate means. But no; he requires us to discard means, and all seeking through means. Whence there follows, on the one hand, an additional proof that, despite his refusal to define "miracle" for his readers at the outset, he carries in his own mind a perfectly definite conception of what a miracle is; and, on the other hand, an indication of the fanatical character of his teaching as to Faith-Healing—if it does not turn out to be not merely supernatural but distinctively miraculous in its mode of occurrence. He who prays for a harvest, and does not plough, and sow, and reap, is a fanatic. He who prays for salvation and does not work out his own salvation is certainly a Quietist, and may become an Antinomian. He who prays for healing and does not employ all the means of healing within his reach—hygiene, nursing, medicine, surgery,—unless God has promised to heal him in the specific mode of precise miracte, is certainly a fanatic and may become also a suicide. Whence, at this stage of the inquiry, we may learn not merely the controversial unfairness and the logical error of refusing to define at the outset of a discussion like this what a miracle is, but also the grave practical danger which arises from such a proce: dure of leading men into destructive fanaticism. It is the essence of fanaticism to neglect the means which God has ordained for the production of effects.
We perceive that Gordon is bound to produce evidence not merely of supernatural healing but distinctively of miraculous healing in order to justify his contention. And with his manner of opening the discussion before us, we feel bound, not only for our own instruction but for our protection as well, to scrutinize the evidence he offers with care, in order to assure ourselves that it unambiguously justifies the conclusion that God has continued the gift of specifically miraculous healing permanently in the church. The heads of the chapters in which the proof is adduced have already been mentioned. The first of them appropriately invites us to consider the testimony of Scripture. Three scriptural passages are cited and commented upon at large. These are: Matt. 8 : 17: "And he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses"; Mark 16 : 17, 18: "These signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover"; and James 5 : 14, 15: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Elsewhere, and in treatises of other writers, we find hints of other passages supposed to bear on the subject, such as John 14 : 12, 13: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father";13 the enumeration of miraculous gifts by Paul in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians, without hint of their approaching cessation, and14 "among other powers which are conceded to belong to the Church to the end or 'till He come'"; and especially numerous instances of actual Faith-Healing in the Old and New Testaments alike, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles, which we are told, "is full of it." It is observable, however, that the three passages on which Gordon rests his argument really constitute the case of the other writers as well. We must take a look at them, though, naturally, as brief a look as can be made serviceable.
We begin with the second of them, Mark 16 : 17, 18, because we may rule it out of court at once as spurious. Of course its spuriousness may be disputed, and some very learned men have disputed it. The late Dean Burgon published a lengthy treatise in its defense, and the Abbe Martin wrote an even more lengthy one. Nevertheless it is just as certain that it is spurious as anything of this kind can be certain. The certainty that it was not originally a part of Mark's Gospel, for example, is the same kind of certainty as that the beautiful verse
"For Thy sorrows we adore Thee,
For the griefs that wrought our peace;
Gracious Saviour, we implore Thee,
In our hearts Thy love increase,"
which we now sing as the last verse of the hymn, "Sweet the moments, rich in blessing," was not originally a part of that hymn. Or if you prefer to put it so, the certainty that the last twelve verses of Mark are spurious is the same in kind as the certainty that the rest of Mark's Gospel is genuine. And it may be added that it is just as well for you and me that they are spurious. For the gifts that are promised to "them that believe" seem not to be promised to eminent saints merely, one here and there who believes mightily, but to all believers; and what is promised to believers is not one or two of these gifts but all of them. "These signs," it is said, "shall accompany them that believe." I should not like to have the genuineness of my faith made dependent upon my ability to speak with new tongues, to drink poison innocuously, and to heal the sick with a touch.15 And, let us note in passing, it certainly was not understood in the Apostolic Church that these gifts were inseparable from genuine faith. The incident of the conversion of the Samaritans recorded in the eighth chapter of Acts stands there, as we have seen in a previous lecture,16 for the express purpose of teaching us the contrary—that, to wit, these signs accompanied not them that believed but them on whom the Apostles laid their hands in order to confer these signs upon them.
The employment of this spurious passage by Gordon in this connection brings him into inevitable embarrassment. For although, when commenting on it here,17 he insists, as he must, that "this rich cluster of miraculous promises all hangs by a single stem, faith"—"the same believing to which is attached the promise of salvation"; and that "whatever practical difficulties we may have in regard to the fulfillment of this word, these ought not to lead us to limit it where the Lord has not limited it"; yet, when he comes, at a later point, to meet the objection that "if you insist that miracles of healing are possible in this age, then you must logically admit that such miracles as raising the dead, turning water into wine, and speaking in unknown tongues are still possible" 18—he does "throw one half of the illustrious promise into eclipse," denying that that part of it, at least, which says that this sign shall follow believers, "They shall speak with other tongues," does still follow them. Nor will it be easy to show that "taking up serpents," whatever that may mean, or drinking deadly things without harm, are not "miracles on external nature, like the turning of the water into wine." The truth is that these items bear an apocryphal appearance, and constitute one of the internal indications, answering to the sufficient external proof, that the passage is uncanonical and of uninspired origin.19
The third passage, that from James 5 : 14, 15, we are ourselves inclined to set aside with equal summariness as irrelevant. We allow, of course, that the presumption is "that the passage refers to an established and perpetual usage in the Church"; we should not find it difficult to believe that "the oil is applied as a symbol of the communication of the Spirit, by whose power healing is effected"; we agree that "the promise of recovery is explicit, and unconditional" to the prayer of faith.20 But we see no indication in the passage that "a peculiar miraculous faith" is intended; no promise of a healing in a specifically miraculous manner; and no command to exclude medicinal means, or proof of their exclusion. If we read the passage with simple minds, free from preconceptions, I think we shall find in it nothing but a very earnest exhortation to sick people to turn to the Lord in their extremity, and a very precious promise to those who thus call upon Him, that the Lord will surely hearken to their cry.
The passage does not stand off by itself in isolation: it has a context. And the context throws light upon the simplicity of the meaning. "Is any among you suffering?" asks James, and advises, "let him pray. Is any cheerful? •let him sing praises. Is any among you sick? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him." Is there anything here that is not repeated before our eyes every day, whenever any Christian is sick—except that we have allowed the formal churchly act of intercession for him to fall into desuetude? Here is really the gravamen of the passage to us. The explicit promise is to the official intercession of the church, the Apostolic enforcement, I take it, consonant to the entrance into history of the organized church, of our Lord's gracious promise, that "when two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them." Even nature itself should have taught us the value of this organic supplication; does not Emile Boutroux, for example, declare21 that "a collective will has nothing to do with the mathematical sum of the individual wills"? And can we wonder that our Lord should honor the same principle? Apart from this failure, we have nothing in the passage that transcends uersal Christian experience. Where is there any command in it to exclude the ordinary medicinal means? Where is there any promise of a specifically miraculous answer? When James says, "If any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him," are we to understand him to forbid that wisdom should be sought in the natural way of thoughtful consideration, and to promise that God will bestow it after a specifically miraculous fashion? When our Lord says, with complete absence of any hint of limitation as to the field in which the request moves, "Ask and ye shall receive," are we to understand Him to forbid all effort in any sphere of life, and to promise specifically miraculous provision for all our needs? Are we to expect to be fed with manna from heaven, or are we not rather to learn to work with our own hands, that we may have wherewith to give to the necessities of others as well as to supply our own wants? There seems to be no more reason in our present passage to exclude medicinal means from the healing of the sick, or to expect a miraculous answer to our prayers in their behalf, than there is in our Lord's promise to exclude the use of all means of seeking to supply our daily necessities and to depend wholly on miraculous gifts from heaven.
It is probahle that the common impression received from this passage of the promise of a miraculous healing in large part arises from what seems the extreme formality of the transaction recommended. The sick man is to send for the elders of the church to pray for him, and they are to anoint him with oil. We are apt here to get the emphasis misplaced. There is no emphasis on the anointing with oil. That is a mere circumstantial detail, thrown in by the way. The emphasis falls wholly on the sick man's getting himself prayed for officially by the elders of the church, and the promise is suspended wholly on their prayer, on the supposition that it is offered in faith. The circumstantial clause, thrown in almost incidentally, "anointing with oil in the name of the Lord," is susceptible of two interpretations.22 The reference may be to the use of oil as a symbol of the power of the Spirit to be exercised in the healing; or it may be to the use of oil as a medicinal agent. In neither view is the employment of medicinal agents excluded; but in the latter view their employment is distinctly alluded to. The circumstance that oil was well-nigh the uersal remedy in the medical practice of the day favors the latter view, as does the employment of, as Archbishop Trench puts it, "the mundane and profane" instead of the "sacred and religious word" for the act of anointing.23 The lightness of the allusion to the anointing points in the same direction. It scarcely seems that so solemn an act and so distinct an act as ceremonial anointing could be alluded to so cursorily.24 If, on the other hand, the allusion is to the use of oil as a medicinal agent, everything falls into its place. The meaning then is in effect, "giving him his medicine in the name of the Lord." The emphasis falls not on the anointing, but on its being done "in the name of the Lord," and the whole becomes an exhortation to Christians, when they are sick, to seek unto the Lord as well as to their physician —nay, to seek unto the Lord rather than to their physician —with a promise that the Lord will attend to their cry. If any is sick among you, we read, let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray for him, rubbing him with his oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick. Where is there promise of miracle in that ?25
What James requires of us is merely that we shall be Christians in our sickness as in our health, and that our dependence then, too, shall be on the Lord. It is just the i truly Christian attitude that he exhorts us to, precisely as Prebendary Reynolds describes it. "We avail ourselves," says he,26 "of all that science knows, and thank God for it. The resources of civilization are ours, and we use them to the utmost. We labour in wise and kindly nursing, and thankfully call in the medical skill which the devout and learned and experienced physician and surgeon have at command. It is God, however, the real physician, who gives the chief medicine; who makes drugs, operations, kindness, nursing to have true healing power; who takes away sin, sickness, death, giving righteousness, healing, eternal life." Do you say this is a purely clerical view? It is the physician's view also, if the physician happens to be a Christian. "I dressed the wound and God healed it," wrote Ambroise Pare, the great Huguenot physician—the father of modern surgery—on the walls of the ficole de Medecine at Paris.27 Let me read you, however, more at large how a more modern Christian physician puts it. "In the healing of every disease of whatever kind," writes Doctor Henry E. Goddard,28 "we cannot be too deeply impressed with the Lord's part of the work. He is the operator. We are the co-operators. More and more am I impressed that every patient of mine who has ever risen up from his sick bed onto his feet again has done so by the divine power. Not I, but the Lord, has cured him. And it is this fact that the Lord does so much, that gives to different systems of healing their apparent cures. He has healed many a one in spite of medicine, in spite of mental healers, in spite of ignorance, in spite of negligence and poor and scanty food. [Nineteen out of twenty cases of grippe will get well without doing anything for it, if we are willing to bear it until that time. Pneumonia, even, is what the physician calls a self-limiting disease, and many cases will recover alone if we are willing to run our chances with it. The arm may drop into boiling water and become scalded. Nine times out of ten it will take care of itself and heal. But if that arm is mine it is going to have an outward application which will make it feel better the moment it touches it. And more important by far, it is going to be dressed aseptically to prevent blood poisoning. It might get well itself, probably would; but it is going to have my little co-operation, the most intelligent that I can render, that the Lord may have the open door through which He can come in and bless it." It is the very spirit of James, I take it, that speaks in this Christian physician. If you are sick, you will use means, all the means that exist; but you will use the means in the name of the Lord, and to Him you will look for the issue.
The scattered passages of Scripture which are appealed to here and there by Faith-Healers to buttress the chief proof texts need not delay us more than a moment. The examples of miraculous cures adduced from the Bible, are, of course, irrelevant. No one of the parties to this discussion doubts that they were truly miraculous. The question at issue is, whether such miraculous works may still be performed, now that the period of revelation has gone by. The appeal to the enumeration of gifts in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians is equally irrelevant, since the question at issue is precisely whether they are ordinary gifts continued in the church, or extraordinary gifts connected (according to the eighth chapter of Acts) directly with the Apostles. John 14 : 12 is worthy of more attention. The Faith-Healers do not even profess, however, to do the great works which Christ did—His miracles on nature, His raising of the dead—and much less can they point to their healings as greater works than these.29 No miracles, in the strict sense of the word, greater than those which Christ did, have been done by any of His followers. But in and through His followers He has, in fulfilment of this promise, manifested the power of the Holy Spirit, foreshadowed and begun at Pentecost, beyond anything witnessed in His lifetime; and He is thus conquering the world to Himself through the "greater works" of His disciples. That He refers here to these spiritual works is generally agreed.30
I have reserved to the last the passage which Gordon appeals to first, because its application to the present matter raises a question of doctrine which it seemed more convenient to discuss at the end, rather than at the beginning of a scrutiny of proof texts. When speaking of our Lord's abounding miracles of healing, Matthew says that He did them "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases" (Matt. 8 : 17). The passage has, of course, no direct bearing on the assertion that miraculous cures continue to be performed in the church. It speaks only of Christ's own miraculous cures, and does not in the remotest way suggest that His followers were to work similar ones. It can be made useful to the Faith-Healing hypothesis, not directly, but only indirectly, through the doctrine which it is supposed to teach. That doctrine is declared to be this: "That we have Christ set before us as the sickness-bearer as well as the sin-bearer of His people"; "that Christ endured vicariously our diseases as well as our iniquities"; and, it being true "that our Redeemer and Substitute bore our sicknesses, it would be natural to reason at once that He bore them that we might not bear them." As, then, "we urge the transgressor to accept the Lord Jesus as his sin-bearer, that he may no longer have to bear the pains and penalties of his disobedience," so we should urge the sick " to accept Him as his pain-bearer."31 Otto Stockmayer is quoted as teaching32 "that if our Redeemer bore our sicknesses it is not his will that his children should remain under the power of disease, any more than that, having borne our sins, it is his will that they should remain under condemnation and disobedience." In enunciating the same doctrine, Stanton makes use of the remarkable expressions,33 "that the Atonement was not only made for sin but for disease, the fruit of sin," and "that in atoning for our diseases of body, just as for our sins of soul, Christ took them upon Himself that He might bear them away, and thus relieve His people from the need of bearing them."
It would be difficult to find more confused expressions than these. What exact meaning can be attached, for example, to the phrase, "atonement for disease"? Is it intended to suggest that disease is fault for which we are responsible? Atonement can be made only for fault. And why should the phrase, "bear disease away" be employed in connection with this text? Does not the word employed here for "bearing sickness" express not bearing away, removing, but bearing, enduring? And by what right can Stockmayer—the "theologian of Faith-Healing," as he is called—parallel the "power of disease" with "condemnation and disobedience" as alike taken away by Christ's redemption, unless he means to convey the idea that, as there is now no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus, so there can now be no disease to them that are in Christ Jesus; and as all disobedience is wilful and sinful, so also is all sickness? If so, we can only infer that none of us are in Christ Jesus: our uersal physical decay and death are but the external manifestations of our inward corruption and our eternal doom.34
It will doubtless be more profitable, however, to seek to lay our finger on the source of error in the statement of the doctrine, and to correct it, than to track out all its confusions. This error does not lie in the supposition that redemption is for the body as well as the soul, and that the saved man shall be renewed in the one as well as in the other. This is true. Nor does it lie in the supposition that provision is made in the atonement for the relief of men from disease and suffering, which are fruits of sin. This too is true.35 It lies in confusing redemption itself, which is objective and takes place outside of us, with its subjective effects, which take place in us; and in failing to recognize that these subjective effects of redemption are wrought in us gradually and in a definite order. Ideally all of Christ's children were saved before the foundation of the world, when they were set upon by God's love, and given by the Father to the Son to be saved by Him. Objectively they were saved when Christ died for them on the tree, purchasing them to Himself by His own precious blood. This salvation was made their personal possession in principle when they were regenerated by the Holy Spirit, purchased for them by the death of Christ in their behalf. It was made over to them judicially on their believing in Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost thus given to them. But it is completed in them in its full effects only when at the Judgment Day they stand, sanctified souls, clothed in glorified bodies, before the throne of God, meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Here, you perceive, is a process. Even after we have believed in Christ, and have a title as justified men to the benefits bought for us by His blood and righteousness, entrance into the actual enjoyment of these several benefits remains a process, and a long process, to be completed in a definite order. This is true of the spiritual blessings which come to us through the atonement of Christ. We are no longer under the curse of sin. But we remain sinners. The struggle against indwelling sin, and therefore indwelling sin to struggle against, continues through life. We have not yet obtained, and we are not yet made perfect. It is little that we continue also physically weak, liable to disease, and certain to die. For the removal of these physical evils, too, provision is made in the atonement. But the benefit here too is not received all at once. For us, as in the broader sphere of the world's salvation, death is the last enemy to be conquered. Though the redeemed of the Lord and no longer under the dominion of sin, the results of sin remain with us: inwardly we are corrupt, outwardly we are the prey of weakness and disease and death. We shall not escape from either in this life. Who is there that sins not? And who is there that does not suffer and die? But ultimately we are relieved from both. Of indwelling corruption when our sanctification is completed and, having been made holy, we depart, which is far better, to be with the Lord, the Holy One. Of outward weaknesses, at that redemption of the body which, while here below, we only, groaning and travailing in pain, wait for in its due season—that is, at the resurrection, when death shall be swallowed up in victory. This is the teaching of the Bible; and this is what Christ illustrated when He healed the sick in His ministry on earth that men might see, as in an object-lesson, that provision was made in His substitutionary work for the relief of every human ill. There is included in this, however, no promise that this relief is to be realized in its completeness all at once, or in this earthly life. Our Lord never permitted it for a moment to be imagined that the salvation He brought was fundamentally for this life. His was emphatically an otherworld religion. He constantly pointed to the beyond, and bade men find their true home, to set their hopes, and to place their aspirations, there.
But, we are asked, are there not to be prelibations here? Is there no "intermediate work of healing and recovery for the body" here as there is "a vast intermediate work of cleansing and renewal effected for the soul?"38 Assuredly. The good man will not fail to be the better for his goodness even in his bodily life. Of course we may make an absurd application of even so obvious a maxim. That devout physician whom we had occasion to quote a while ago, warns us against such an absurd application. He is unwise, he declares,37 who teaches "Obey the commandments, the laws of spiritual life, and you will thereby attain physical health." "That does not follow," he declares. "As well say, 'Obey the commandments and you will become large possessors of this world's goods,' or, 'Obey the commandments and you will therefore be exempt from the law of gravitation.'" What he means to say is that the Lord, in placing His people in this complex of forces whose regular working constitutes what we call the laws of nature, subjects them, of course, to these laws. We cannot expect to be emancipated from the laws which govern the action of the forces in the midst of which our life is cast. That would be to take us out of the world. No matter how holy we are we must expect, if we cast ourselves from a tenth-story window, to fall with the same certainty and with the same rate of accelerating velocity as other men. The law of gravity is not suspended in its action on us by our moral character. We cannot grow rich by simply rubbing some Aladdin's lamp and commanding supernatural assistance; economic law will govern the acquisition of wealth in our case as in that of others. When typhoid germs find lodgment in a body, even though it be the body of a saint, they will under favorable conditions, grow and produce all their dreadful effects, with the same certainty with which the seeds of corn which you cast into the ground grow and bring forth their harvest. The same laws on which you depend for the harvest of corn, you may equally depend on for the harvests of disease which you reap year after year. We live then in a complex of forces out of which we cannot escape, so long as we are in this world, and these forces make for disease and death. We are all left here, like Trophimus at Miletum, sick. And if we insist upon being relieved of this sickness we can expect only the answer which was given to Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you."
All this is true, and yet it too is not incapable of exaggeration in its application. And that for two very obvious reasons. In the first place it also is a law of nature that the pure in heart and clean in conduct escape many evils, among which must be ranged multifarious sicknesses. We need not labor so obvious a point.38 We find even Matthew Arnold remarking on this law in his allusive manner. "Medical science," says he,39 "has never gauged—never perhaps set itself to gauge—the intimate connection between moral fault and disease. To what extent, or in how many cases, what is called illness is due to moral springs having been used amiss, whether by being overused or by not being used sufficiently—we hardly at all know, and we too little inquire." But we do not found here solely on a law of nature. Even the laws of nature are under the control of God in their operation, and we point to the good providence of our God. The Lord is rich in mercy to them that trust in Him, and it would be strange indeed if there were no visible and tangible fruits of this His mercy perceptible in our bodily life. There is a promise for this life as well as for that which is to come, and it is definitely said that to those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added. Are not the providence and grace of God enough for us in this "our little journey in the world"? Or, dissatisfied with these, are we to demand that the laws of nature be suspended in our case; that, though in the world, we shall, in this sense too, be not of it? What scriptural ground is there for expecting miraculous healings of the body through these ages of our earthly pilgrimage, in addition to that benefit which the body obtains from its animation by a renewed and sanetifying soul, from our Lord's watchfulness over it as His purchased possession, from the indwelling in it of the Holy Spirit as His Temple, from the Father's listening to the prayers of His saints for its keeping and healing, and from all God's goodness to it in fulfilment of His word that godliness has the promise of the life that now is as well as that which is to come? None has been pointed to, and we are constrained to believe none exists. For soul and body we are in the Lord's loving keeping. We trust in Him and He keeps us. There is no specific promise that He will keep us otherwise than by His providence and grace. Do not these suffice for all our needs?
We have examined all the scriptural passages formally appealed to by Gordon. The considerations which he places under the heading of "the testimony of reason," however, are closely related to the scriptural argument, and no doubt require a passing word. They are these: (i) that, "if miracles should cease, they would form quite a distinct exception to everything else which the Lord introduced by His ministry"; and (2) that "the use of miracles of healing as signs seems to argue strongly for their permanency; if the substance remains unchanged, why should the sign which was originally chosen to exhibit it be superseded?" The force of the argument here lies in its assumptions. If we begin by assuming that miracleworking was instituted by our Lord as an ordinance of the Christian religion; was established, like Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as a visible, permanent sign of the invisible reality; why, of course, their cessation becomes a striking exception to the rule and calls for explanation. But clearly there is nothing to justify these assumptions. And if there were, too much would be proved to suit the case. <J For Gordon proceeds at once to argue that only miracles , of healing abide. But surely it cannot be contended that only miracles of healing were introduced by our Lord by His ministry, and only His miracles of healing were "signs." If Gordon's argument is worth anything it proves that all forms of miracle-working practised by Christ were continued as the permanent possession of His church. It is not even claimed that that is the fact.
It might not be absolutely fatal to the assertions of the Faith-Healers that the scriptural grounds on which they base them prove too precarious to bear their weight. It is conceivable that the fact of the continuance of miraculous healing could be made so clear that we should be compelled to confess its continuance though no Scripture had promised it. Stanton prefers to take this attitude toward the matter. He deprecates beginning with scriptural "theory" and thence proceeding to investigate "fact," as essentially an a priori method. He insists that "the question is pre-eminently one of fact"; which can only be fairly tested by a "process of rigid induction." "Facts are never heresies," he says, "either in science or religion." Accordingly he proposes to begin with facts and argue back from them to their true cause. He opens his discussion, therefore, with a collection of selected cases which he represents as undeniable in point of fact and details, and as of such inherent character, being immediate healings by prayer of organic diseases, that they necessitate the conclusion that they are veritable miracles. From the fact of miracleworking, thus established, he turns back to the Scripture, to see whether it is possible that it contains no warrant for such great transactions. There is a certain apparent strength in this mode of procedure. It involves, however, a confession of the weakness of the scriptural evidence. If the evidence of Scripture were felt to be in itself conclusive, its consideration would scarcely be postponed until facts were accumulated to guide in its interpretation. Gordon's method of appealing to Scripture first, certainly does more honor to Scripture and gives the impression that in dealing with it he feels himself on solid ground. The scriptural evidence having failed, however, his case too falls back on the bald facts of experience.
The titles of the chapters in which Gordon adduces the testimony of the alleged miraculous facts, have already been enumerated. He calls in turn upon the witness of the church, of theologians, of missions, of the adversary, of experience, and of the healed. There is an almost too great completeness in this accumulation of sources of testimony. There is nevertheless observable a certain eclecticism in dealing with it. The testimony of the church, for instance, does not mean the testimony of the church speaking as an organized body—whether as a whole or in some one or other of its organized sections. It means the testimony of Christians of the past, the record of which is found in what is called "church history." It is a very eclectic "church history," however, which is appealed to. The testimony of the first three centuries is adduced, and partly that of the fourth. Then comes a sharp break, at the age of Constantine, at which time, as we have shown, really explicit evidence only begins. Later, it is true, under the caption of "The Testimony of Theologians," Augustine's opinion is cited—with what consistency we may judge when we observe that all the miracles of "the Apostate Church," which is said to have begun with the age of Constantine,40 are declared to be "the testimony of the Adversary," working counterfeit miracles, and only so bearing witness to the currency of the true. In this chapter on "The Testimony of the Church" we are carried over at once to the testimony of the Waldenses, Moravians, Huguenots, Covenanters, Friends, early Baptists and Methodists. With reference to these the remark is made that, in every revival of primitive faith, "we find a profession of chaste and evangelical miracles." How far this description applies to the marvels it has professedly in view we must let the reader of the annals of those troubled movements himself decide. We think ourselves that a remark made by Gordon at an earlier point is far more applicable to them: when he spoke of the likelihood of every true upstirring of genuine emotion being accompanied by more or less fanaticism which ought not to be permitted to cloud our judgment as to the genuineness of the emotion itself. The testimony of theologians is, naturally, a matter of opinion, while that of missions, experience, and of the healed themselves is only a further record of facts, artificially divided into these heads, which constitute in their totality the whole evidence before us. It is to the facts thus gathered that we are to give our attention.
What now are these facts? What is their nature? And what are we to think of them? The first thing which strikes the observer, as he casts his eye over them, is that they stand sadly in need of careful sifting. What we are looking for is such facts as necessitate or at least suggest the assumption, in order to account for them, of the "immediate action of God, as distinguished from His mediate action through natural laws." That is Gordon's own definition of miracle,41 and what is affirmed is that these facts argue miraculous action. The great body of the facts offered to us, however, argue nothing of the kind.
In many of them means are openly used, means which rank among the specifically best means known to medical science. This is the case, for example, with all the instances of cures made in the Faith-Houses. Who doubts that multitudes of the sick would find cure under the skilled and tireless nursing of a Dorothea Triidel, who was known to pass the whole day without food, utterly forgetting the claims of her body in devotion to her work?42 Who doubts that great physical benefit could be found by many in "the silence and retirement of the simple cure of Pastor Rein"? Doctor Weir Mitchell won fame as a physician through his "rest-cure." What medical man will not agree that good nursing and a quiet and restful state of body and mind are among the best of curative agents? The very existence of Faith-Houses, indeed, is the sufficient • refutation of the doctrine of Faith-Healing which seeks support from them. By hypothesis a miraculous cure 1 ; \ should be immediate, as in cause so in time—without delay as without means—on the exercise of simple faith. The j existence of Faith-Hospitals is a standing proof that it is not immediate, either in cause or in time: that a place of retirement is helpful, and that good nursing has its reward. Faith-Houses may raise a protest against the methods of current medical practice, but they do so by setting up a particular method of practice of their own—not by introducing miraculous healing as over against natural.
It is observable, further, that the cases which are successfully treated in the Faith-Houses have their natural limits. Not every one is cured. The brother of Samuel Zeller, who succeeded Dorothea Triidel in her House in Switzerland, sought cure there for years in vain. Dorothea Triidel's own health remained throughout her life "very feeble"; she suffered from curvature of the spine from an early age and died at forty-eight of typhus fever. Zeller himself "strongly repudiated the whole system of doctrine" of the typical Faith-Healers, especially "the idea that sickness in God's people is the result of unbelief"; and sharply reprobated the practice of holding public meetings and expecting cures at them, attributing failure to lack of faith. He did not require that medical treatment should be renounced; he merely put his own dependence on rest, quiet, and prayer to God.43 The failures of cure on this system cannot be accounted for merely by an appeal to the sovereignty of God in answering prayer. They find their account also in the nature of the diseases treated. We quote the following from the pen of one of the most eminent aurists of the last generation. "The avoidance of tangible affections by faith-curers," says Doctor St. John Roosa,44 "is a circumstance that tells unanswerably against their doctrines. I was once sent for to see a lady who was living in what was called a faith-cure establishment in this city, in order that I might, if possible, relieve her from impairment of hearing. This I found to be chiefly caused by a collection of wax in the outer canal of the ear, which was easily removed. The removal caused great improvement in the hearing. I had never seen a faith-cure establishment before, and I confess I was somewhat surprised that I was sent for. I asked,'How is it possible, that, if without the use of any means except prayer to God, internal diseases are cured, affections of the organs that we cannot see, those that we can see, and that are susceptible of relief by the ordinary physician, believing or unbelieving, cannot be cured by prayer? . . .' It is a terrible shock to the believer in this system to think that God can cure a case of disease of the liver or of the nerves, and will cure it by the use of the prayer of faith alone, but (and I mean to speak reverently) He will have nothing to do with a case of deafness."
We think it fair to urge also that the sifting of cases must exclude all those cures which can be paralleled by cures that have, in similar circumstances, been effected obviously without miracle. If we are seeking instances which demonstrate that a miracle has been wrought, surely we must have cases essentially different from those which are known to be curable without miracle. Obviously, for example, we cannot confidently infer miracle to account for a cure which "the Apostate Church" can perform as well as we; which mind-cure can equally readily work on a pantheistic, the Buddhist on an atheistic, and the mesmerist on a purely materialistic basis. These cures may seem to us startling, but they cannot be thought by us to be miraculous. It is, however, no exaggeration to say that the great mass of the cures wrought by Faith-Healers are closely paralleled by some or all of these sister practitioners. Your time need not be taken up by descriptions here of the wonders worked by Doctor Perkins's metallic tractors, by mesmerism, mind-cure, the waters of Lourdes.45 Let me give you but a single partial illustration of how completely they repeat one another's triumphs.
Stanton rests his case for Faith-Healing on a half-dozen wisely chosen instances. The first one which he gives is that of a young woman with "a withered hand which was bent in upon her wrist as no well hand by any act of the will can be, and presented nothing but a mass of skin and bones, with not a vein visible upon it." This withered hand was cured by prayer. Well, here is first a Roman Catholic parallel among the cures of Prince Hohenlohe: "Captain Ruthlein, an old gentleman of Thundorf, seventy years of age, who had long been pronounced incurable of paralysis which kept his hand clinched, and who had not left his room for many years, was perfectly cured."48 And here is a parallel from mesmerism: "Edward Wine, aged seventy-five, who had been paralyzed ten years in an arm and leg. The left arm was spasmodically fixed to the chest, the fingers drawn toward the palm of the hand and wasted, quite incapable of holding anything." Perfectly cured by mesmerism.47 And here is a parallel from imagination: Sir Humphrey Davy placed a thermometer under the tongue of a paralyzed patient simply to ascertain the temperature; the patient at once claimed to experience relief, so the same treatment was continued for two weeks, and by that time the patient was well.48 And, finally, here is a somewhat similar case from pure deception. "The wife and mother of the house was suffering from inflammatory rheumatism in its worst form. She could not move, was terribly swollen, and could not bear to be touched. . . . One of the hands of the patient was fearfully swollen, so that the fingers were as large very nearly as the wrist of an ordinary child three years of age. . . . Nearly all the space between the fingers was occupied and the fist was clinched. It was plain that to open them voluntarily was impossible, and to move them intensely painful. . . . The hand had not been opened for several weeks." "I held," says Doctor Buckley, the operator,49 "two knitting-needles about two inches from the ends of the woman's fingers, Just above the clinched hand, and said, 'Now, Madam, do not think of your fingers, and above all do not try to move them, but fix your eyes on the ends of these needles.' She did so . . . and the fingers straightened out and became flexible without the least pain. I then moved the needles about, and she declared that all pain left her hand except in one spot about half an inch in length." The fact is that imagination and concentrated attention are powers which need to be reckoned with in all cures, and only such cures as exclude a possible appeal to them, or to shock, or the like, are available for evidence of the miraculous. The simulation of disease by hysteria is also very remarkable. There was a woman in St. Luke's Hospital, New York City, who had a tumor to all, even the most skilled, diagnosis. But the tumor simply disappeared on the administration of ether and the consequent withdrawal of nervous action.50 When all these cases are excluded, the list left as available evidence for miraculous action will be short indeed.
Sifting is not even yet, however, at an end. We must exclude also all cures which seem to us, indeed, to have come in answer to prayer, but of which there is no evidence that they have come miraculously, that is, by the immediate action of God, without all means. The famous cure of Canon Basil Wilberforce is a typical instance of what we mean. He declares that he has no shadow of doubt that he "was healed by the Lord's blessing upon His own word, recorded in St. James 5 : 15,16." "But," he adds, "as in so many other cases, there was sufficient margin of time, and possibility of change of tissue, between the anointing and the recovery to justify the sceptic in disconnecting the two." 51 All Christians believe in healing in answer to prayer. Those who assert that this healing is wrought in a specifically miraculous manner, need better evidence for their peculiar view than such as fits in equally well with the general Christian faith.
Finally it must be added with great firmness that sifting is needed by the cases reported by the Faith-Healers to isolate the instances the details of which can be trusted. Of certain obvious facts any honestly disposed person is a competent witness; of certain others few persons are competent witnesses. Among these latter facts may safely be classed the accurate diagnosis of disease. Few physicians, of even lifelong practice, are really good diagnosticians; perhaps there is none of whatever eminence who has not been more than once wholly deceived in the nature of the disease he has been called upon to treat—as the autopsy has proved.52 Every one who has sought to trace up alleged cases of Faith-Healing will have felt the grave doubt which frequently rests upon the identification of the disease which is asserted to have been cured. Yet we are asked to believe in multifarious miracles on the faith of the diagnosis of this, that, or the other unknown person. Nothing is more remarkable than the scorn which the average Faith-Healer pours on physicians as healers, and the unbounded confidence which he reposes in them as diagnosticians. It is with him the end of all strife if he can say that the case was hopeless on the testimony of Doctor This or Doctor That .
It is to be feared that it must even be said that FaithHealers, in their enthusiasm over the wonderful things they are testifying to, are not always as careful as they might be in ascertaining the actual facts of the cases of cure which they report. It may seem to them sometimes almost a sacrilege to make so close an inquisition into the facts, the cold facts, when so much has obviously been done. Gordon records,53 with apparent approval, the reply of one of a visiting body of German preachers and professors, when inspecting Zeller's Faith-Home in Switzerland. When asked to give his opinion of the work, he responded: "When the Holy Spirit speaks with so much power, we can do no otherwise than listen to His teaching; critical analysis is out of the question." But the Holy Spirit Himself says, "Try the Spirits, whether they be of God," and it is no more good religion than good sense, in a matter of such moment, to abnegate the functions of a critic. It is necessary for even pious men to guard against misleading their fellows.
The matter may be illustrated by the case of one of the most celebrated instances of Faith-Healing ever wrought in America. It was deservedly celebrated, because it took place in a sphere of operation into which Faith-Healing rarely penetrates. It was nothing less than the instantaneous knitting of a broken bone in answer to prayer. Doctor Charles Cullis is said to have reported it to Doctor W. E. Boardman, who printed it in his book called The Great Physician. Gordon quotes it from Boardman, and Stanton makes it one of his test cases. The narrative comes ultimately from the father of the boy in question, "Doctor Reed a physician of Philadelphia." The story as reported in his words by Boardman is this: "The children were jumping off from a bench, and my little son fell and broke both bones of his arm below the elbow. My brother, who is a professor of surgery in the college at Chicago, was here on a visit. I asked him to set and dress the arm. He did so; put it in splints, bandages, and in a sling. The dear child was very patient, and went about without a murmur all that day. The next morning he came to me and said: 'Dear papa, please take off these things.' 'Oh no, my son, you will have to wear these five or six weeks before it will be well.' 'Why, papa, it is well.' 'Oh no, my dear child, that is impossible!' 'Why, papa, you believe in prayer, don't you?' 'You know I do, my son.' 'Well, last night when I went to bed, it hurt me very bad, and I asked Jesus to make it well.' I did not like to say a word to chill his faith. A happy thought came. I said, 'My dear child, your uncle put the things on, and if they are taken off he must do it.' Away he went to his uncle, who told him he would have to go as he was six or seven weeks, and must be very patient; and when the little fellow told him that Jesus had made him well, he said, 'Pooh! pooh! nonsense!' and sent him away. The next morning the poor boy came to me and pleaded with so much sincerity and confidence, that I more than half believed, and went to my brother and said: 'Had you not better undo his arm and let him see for himself?' . . . My brother yielded, took off the bandages and the splints, and exclaimed, 'It is well, absolutely well!' and hastened to the door to keep from fainting." Could anything be more conclusive? Here is expert medical testimony to the fracture and to the cure also. Here is the testimony of the father himself, a chief actor in the scene, to all its details. We have the additional guarantee of the repetition of it as authentic by a series of the chief advocates of Faith-Healing. And it is a case of a broken bone, and must be a miracle. But here comes the trouble. "The case was thoroughly investigated by Doctor J. H. Lloyd of the Uersity of Pennsylvania, and in The Medical Record for March 27, 1886, Doctor Lloyd published a letter from this very child, who is grown up and become a physician. Dear Sir:" it reads, "The case you cite, when robbed of all its sensational surroundings, is as follows: The child was a spoiled youngster who would have his own way; and when he had a green stick fracture of the forearm, and, after having had it bandaged for several days, concluded he would much prefer to go without a splint, to please the spoiled child the splint was removed, and the arm carefully adjusted in a sling. As a matter of course, the bone soon united, as is customary in children, and being only partially broken, of course all the sooner. This is the miracle. Some nurse or crank or religious enthusiast, ignorant of matters physiological and histological, evidently started the story, and unfortunately my name—for I am the party—is being circulated in circles of faith-curites, and is given the sort of notoriety I do not crave. . . . Very respectfully yours, Carl H. Reed."64 Conscious fraud here is not to be thought of for a moment. But all' the more powerfully the lesson is driven home to us that '' in matters of this kind testimony to details requires the closest scrutiny. There is scarcely an item in this case which is correctly reported in the current story.
It seems to be the experience of every one who has^^ made a serious attempt to sift the evidence for miraculous healing that this evidence melts away before his eyes.. / / Many remarkable cures are wrought, but nothing which compels the inference of miraculous healing seems to be unambiguously established. What emerges as final result is that a sharp line is drawn between the class of cures which can be obtained and the class of cures which cannot be obtained by faith, and that this line is drawn approximately at the exact spot where the line runs which separates cures which can from those which cannot be ob- , tained by mind-cure, mesmerism, Perkins's tractors, and other similar practices. There are classes of sickness which \ Faith-Healing can cure, and there are classes of sickness, which it cannot cure. In particular, for example, it is} powerless to heal broken bones, to renew mutilations, to, do so little a thing as to restore lost teeth. Doctor Charles; Cullis is reported as saying: "In no case in God's word isj t there a promise that we may pray over a broken bone and' anoint the sufferers with oil; only the sick. A broken bone is not sickness, and should be put in the hands of a sur- i ■ geon." And "he has repeatedly and publicly, in the presence of thousands at Old Orchard Beach and elsewhere,! disclaimed all attempts by the prayer of faith to secure 1 from God the restoration of an amputated hand or the setting of a broken limb." 55 This is, of course, only a confession that there is no question of miraculous action in Faith-Healing. What is the use of invoking miracle to do work equally well done without miracle, and repudiating all effects for which miracles are required? If a man as
serts that he controls the motion of the sun by miraculous power, I want some better proof that he does so than his pointing to the rising and setting of the sun every day at its appointed time. And I want no better proof that he works no miracle in the case, than that the sun under his incantations moves no otherwise than it moves without them.
After the statement of the evidence from facts Gordon has nothing further to do but to draw his conclusion. This he does in a chapter called "The Verdict of Candor," while he gives a warning to his brethren not to press beyond limits in another chapter entitled "The Verdict of Caution." In both of these chapters some very good things are said, and some which are rather odd. Of the latter class is the designation of health "as the first-fruits of redemption," 56 whereas the Apostle speaks of the redemption of the body as the last thing to be looked for; and the suggestion that the reason for the fewness of instances of Faith-Healing is due to the difficulty of "an individual prayer making headway against the adverse sentiment of the great body of Christians" 57—which sounds more like Mrs. Eddy than a Christian minister. It does not seem necessary, however, to dwell on these things. We take leave of the book with a profound conviction that its argument is inconsequent, and its contention unfounded either in Scripture or in fact.
And now let us very briefly sum up from our own point of view what it seems that we ought to think of FaithHealing. First of all, as regards the status quastionis, let it be remembered that the question is not: (i) Whether God is an answerer of prayer; nor (2) whether, in answer to prayer, He heals the sick; nor (3) whether His action in healing the sick is a supernatural act; nor (4) whether the supernaturalness of the act may be so apparent as to demonstrate God's activity in it to all right-thinking minds conversant with the facts. All this we all believe. The question at issue is distinctly whether God has pledged Himself to heal the sick miraculously, and does heal them miraculously, on the call of His children—that is to say without means—any means—and apart from means, and above means; and this so ordinarily that Christian people may be encouraged, if not required, to discard all means as either unnecessary or even a mark of lack of faith and sinful distrust, and to depend on God alone for the healing of all their sicknesses. This is the issue, even conservatively stated. For many will say that faith gives us as clear a title to the healing of our bodies as to the salvation of our souls; and this is often interpreted to mean that it is the heritage of every Christian, if a true Christian, to be free from all disease and bodily weakness, and it is a proof of special sin in a Christian if he is a special sufferer from disease.
With reference to this question it is to be said at least: (i) No promise of such miraculous action on God's part exists in Scripture. (2) No facts have been adduced which will compel the assumption that such miraculous healing takes place. (3) Such a miraculous method of action on God's part would be wholly unnecessary for the production of the effect desired; God can heal the bodily hurt of His people without miracle. (4) The employment of such a method of working would be contrary to the analogy of God's mode of working in other spheres of His activity. (5) It would be contrary to the very purpose of miracle, which would be defeated by it . If miracles are to be common, every-day occurrences, normal and not extraordinary, they cease to attract attention, and lose their very reason of existence. What is normal is according to law. If miracles are the law of the Christian life they cease to serve their chief end. (6) The contention of the FaithHealers overlooks numerous important biblical facts. Primarily the fact that the miraculous gifts in the New Testament were the credentials of the Apostle, and were confined to those to whom the Apostles had conveyed them—whence a presumption arises against their continuance after the Apostolic age. Then, again, that there are instances of sickness in the New Testament which were not removed by the prayer of faith. There is, for example, Paul's leaving of Trophimus at Miletum sick, and his recommending to Timothy, when sick, not the seeking of healing by the miraculous act of God, but the use of medicinal means—the drinking no longer of water but of a little wine for his stomach's sake and his often infirmities. It seems quite clear that Paul did not share the views of our modern Faith-Healers. (7) The Faith-Healing arguments presuppose or lead to many false doctrines. A desultory allusion to some of them here may not be without its uses. (.4) Sickness and sin are often connected in an utterly unscriptural manner. That all the sicknesses which afflict our race are a result of sin is true. But that special sicknesses infer special sin our Saviour Himself explicitly denies. (B) These arguments would be equally valid to commend perfectionism. If sinfulness is not to be removed in this life, neither is sickness. Both are the fruits of guilt, and both are removed on the basis of the work of the guiltbearer; and both are removed only when the subjective salvation is completed. (C) They are founded on a completely unscriptural view of the functions of suffering, and the uses of sickness and pain. All sickness and suffering are spoken of as if they were from the evil one alone; as if they were sheerly the mark of the displeasure of God; ^ and as if they were a fruit of particular sin. Scripture says: "Behold whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." Sickness is often the proof of special favor from God; it always comes to His children from His Fatherly hand, and always in His loving pleasure works, together with all other things which befall God's children, for good. (8) The FaithHealing contention leads to contempt for God's appointed means, and this leads to the fanatical attitude of demanding from God apart from all means that for the attaining of which He has ordained appropriate means. We are not to refuse to cultivate the soil and then demand to be fed by miracle. (9) The Faith-Healing practice leads to the production of "professionals," standing between the soul and God. There is grave danger in a soul permitting an unauthorized intermediary to take up a position between it and the gracious activities of God toward it. From this germ the whole sacerdotal evil has grown. And, on the other hand, to the practitioner himself there comes inevitable temptation to spiritual pride and autocracy, which is most disastrous to his spiritual life; and sometimes even something worse.
One of the phenomena of the Faith-Healing delusion has been the production of a series of these practitioners, whose activities have not always been wholesome. From time to time an individual healer has risen to public notice and attracted the attention of the whole religious community, for a time at least attaining tremendous vogue and commanding great applause. There was, for example, to confine ourselves to recent times, Prince Alexander of Hohenlohe, who during the first half of the nineteenth century created a great stir with his miraculous healings in Austria and Germany.58 A lesser light burned contemporaneously in Ireland in the person of Father Matthew.59 One of the most admirable of these figures was Johann Christoph Blumhardt who, says William James, quite spontaneously developed in the early forties of the last century "an extremely pure faculty of healing," which he exerted during nearly thirty years.60 Perhaps Doctor A. B. Simpson of New York, who has been since 1887 the president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, founded in that year at Old Orchard, Maine, has been blamelessly in the public eye as a healer of the sick through faith for as long a period as any of our recent American healers.61 The fame of others has been, if more splendid, at the same time less pure and less lasting. The name of a certain A. Schrader, for example, was in everybody's mouth twenty years ago. Then there was the romantic figure of Franz Schlatter, with his meteoric career in Denver and elsewhere in the West, as Messiah and divine healer.62 But perhaps — the most striking of all these personages was John Alexander Dowie,63 whose work in Chicago as general overseer of the Christian Apostolic Cathob'c Church in Zion—the product of his activities—attained gigantic proportions. A Scotchman by birth, an Australian Congregationalist in previous ministerial affiliation, he created, rather than built up, in Chicago a great religious community, over which he ruled with despotic power, and in the "divine healing rooms" of which he wrought many a cure. No doubt, the proportion of successful cures wrought by him was not larger than in the case of others. If a note in one of the issues of his newspaper—Leaves of Healing—may be taken as a criterion, the work of healing in his hands can scarcely be pronounced successful. "I pray and lay my hands," he says, "on seventy thousand people in a year." That would give a hundred and seventy-five thousand in two years and a half. Yet in the two years and a half immediately preceding the date of this statement he reports only seven hundred cures.64 One success in every two hundred and fifty trials does not impress one as a very successful ministry of healing to the sick and sorrowing world56. MIND-CURE