When we speak of "faith-healing" we use ambiguous language so far as we leave it undetermined whether we understand the healing in question to be effected immediately by the action of the faith itself, or by the God to whom it is committed in faith.1 In the latter case the healing is, in the proper sense of the word, a supernatural one. In the former it is a natural healing, as natural as if it were wrought by a surgical operation or by a drug. This is, of course, not to say that God has nothing to do with the healing in this case; or, indeed, has not Himself wrought it. God has very much to do with the cures wrought by the surgeon's knife or the physician's medicaments; so much to do with them that it is He who really makes them. It is to Him that the efficacy of all means is due, in general and in particular. It is a wise man of very old time who in one breath bids us look to the physician with his remedies and to the Lord who is behind the physician and works in and through him and his remedies. "Honor a physician for the honor due unto him, for the uses which ye may have of him. . . . For of the Most High cometh healing. . . . My Son, in thy sickness be not negligent; but pray unto the Lord and He will make thee whole. . . . Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him; let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him." 2 When we think of cures wrought by means, we do not exclude God from them. But just because they are wrought by means, we do not ascribe them to God as their proximate cause. The point is that a cure wrought proximately by faith, or by any other mental act, or attitude, or state, is just as truly wrought by means as if it were wrought by a drug or a knife. And it is just as truly wrought by natural means. Our minds are ours, and all their acts and states are our acts and states; and all that is produced by them in any of their acts or states are effects of our own. Any cure supposed to be produced by faith itself is accordingly a natural cure, and that just as truly as any other natural cure whatever.
It might conduce to clearness if writers would agree to classify all such cures, the natural products of faith itself, under some such caption as mind-cures—or, if we prefer a big name, under the general designation of psychotherapy —reserving the term "faith-healing" for those cures which are ascribed not to faith itself, but to the immediate action of God sought in faith. Meanwhile this is not the universal usage. The nomenclature is far from fixed. Very frequently the term "faith-cure" is employed to express specifically cures wrought directly by faith itself. As often, it is used in a sense wide enough to embrace both of these very diverse species of cures. Naturally, this produces confusion. The confusion shows itself, for example, in the definition given to "Faith-Healing" at the head of the article printed under this title in Hastings's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. There at least emerges from this definition, however, an express recognition of a double sense of the term "faith-cure," a strict and a wide sense. Taking so much as gain, we shall, contrary, no doubt, to this author's own meaning, discriminate these two senses in such a manner as to assign to the strict sense of the term those cures which are supposed to be immediately wrought by God on faith, and to the broader sense those which are supposed to be wrought more or less wholly by faith itself.
Having the latter of these varieties in mind, we find ourselves more in accord with our author when he remarks that "faith-healing is the oldest form of healing in the world," antedating, or at least growing up side by side with, "medical practice in its earliest and crudest form, and as its predominant partner." 3 We cannot, indeed, ascribe with him the miracles of our Lord and His Apostles to this category.4 But, apart from the miraculous attestation of the special revelation of God which has been recorded for us in the inspired Scriptures, we recognize with him a continuous stream of faith-healings in this sense, extending from the earliest ages quite down to our own day. The numerous "Healing-Gods" of classical antiquity, such practices as "temple-sleeping," and the endless narratives of cures sought and found through it and other means, attest its prevalence in pre-Christian times; the Patristic and Mediaeval Ages overflow with instances; the Reformation was far from bringing its practice to an end, and—if we may now enlarge the category to that of mind-healing in general—the history of such movements as those still going on among us under the names of Animal Magnetism, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, Mental Healing, New Thought, Christian Science, evince the place its conscious practice still takes in the life of the people of to-day.
In a former lecture we have sought to give some account of the assertions which are still made that faith-healings, in the strict sense of healings made directly by God, continue to occur among us. For the sake of completeness it may not be improper to proceed now to some account of at least the more prominent varieties of faith-healing in the wider sense—or, in a less confusing nomenclature, of mind-cure—prevalent in our day. No doubt, in doing so, we overstep the limits of our formal subject. Faith-healing in this sense—that is to say, mind-cure—by virtue of the very fact that some mental act or state is held to be the producing cause at work, can make no pretense to miraculousness, and in point of fact, in the forms at least in which it is most commonly practised, it makes no pretense to miraculousness. Nevertheless, its relation to faith-healing in the stricter sense is so close, confusion with it is so common, and the lessons to be learned from it as to the real nature of the alleged instances of faith-healing in the strict sense occurring among us are so instructive, that we should not be justified in passing it by altogether.
The variety of forms in which mind-healing is practised to-day is very great. They differ from one another less in the results obtained, or even in the means employed to obtain these results, than in the theoretical basis by which they severally attempt to explain their production. William F. Cobb, the writer of the article on "Faith-Healing" in Hastings's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, to which we have already alluded, enumerates its principal species as Mental-healing, Magnetic-healing, Spiritualistic-healing, and Spiritual-healing, that is to say, if we may employ the popular designations of typical forms of each to symbolize the several varieties, Christian Science, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, and Faith-Healing. This enumeration is by no means exhaustive, but it will serve our present purpose. The point of importance for us is that in the action of all these varieties alike, as Cobb justly remarks, a leading part is taken by suggestion. This suggestion, when given its most scientifically developed form, is called hypnotism. But, under whatever name, and employed under the guidance of whatever underlying theory of the nature of being, or of the process of the cure established, it operates after essentially the same fashion.8
It is only with those forms of mind-cure which have in one way or another closely connected themselves with religion that we are for the moment particularly concerned. One of these forms, very prominent in the public eye at present, is that which is known as the Emmanuel Movement. Nothing could be further from the thought of the leaders of the Emmanuel Movement than a pretension to miraculous powers.6 It only professes to deal, prosaically enough, and with an almost ostentatious disassociation of itself from the supernatural, with certain classes of functional or nervous diseases—by means of suggestion, of course, but also by any other forms of mental and spiritual influence which experience may commend as useful. It does not bother itself overmuch with underlying theory, although it proceeds actually on the theory—which it prefers to look upon as observed fact—of a subconscious life, the storehouse of energy capable of being tapped and drawn upon for the purposes of our daily living.7 The common experience of the whole Christian past, it thinks, supplies it with a general support for its practice as an activity of the organized church. It quotes with particular satisfaction an entry in John Wesley's Journal for May 12, 1759.8 Here Wesley remarks on the helplessness of the physicians in the presence of a woman kept ill from fretting over the death of her son. "Why," Wesley asks, "don't physicians consider how far bodily disorders are caused or influenced by the mind, and in those cases which are utterly out of their sphere, call in the assistance of a minister, as ministers, when they find the mind disordered by the body, call in the assistance of a physician?" In the intimate co-operation of the physician and the minister here desiderated, it is suggested, we have the whole principle of the Emmanuel Movement.9 As the physician must be called in to remove the bodily disorders which inhibit right spiritual functioning, so the church may well step in to aid in correcting those bodily evils which are ultimately the result of spiritual disorders.
We confess to being chilled when we hear of such things as "religious faith and prayer" being looked upon as therapeutical agents for the cure of disease, and administered to patients as such. We are frankly shocked at the coupling together of faith and paregoric, prayer and podophyllin in a single comprehensive pharmacopoeia. We are too accustomed to thinking of faith and prayer as terminating on God, and finding their response in His gracious activities, to feel comfortable when they are turned back on themselves and—while still, no doubt, addressed to God—used as instruments for moving man.10 It is unfortunate, moreover, that the form of Christianity which is professed by the leaders of the Emmanuel Movement, and the inculcation of which they rely upon to soothe troubled minds and to inspire to effort, is rather that taught by Renan and Harnack and Theodor Keim (the collocation of names is not our own11), than that taught by John and Paul and Jesus; so that a rationalistic veil hangs over all their religious prescriptions. Nevertheless, although Christianity is emphatically an "other-world" religion, and a merely "this-world" religion is just no Christianity at all, it is not to be denied that there is a "this-world" side to Christianity. Undoubtedly, it has the promise of the life that now is as well as of that which is to come, and they who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness may rightly expect all these things to be added unto them. It is as little to be doubted that there are valuable reflex effects which may be confidently counted upon from the exercise, say, of faith and prayer, as it is undeniable that these reflex effects are of infinitely less importance than their direct working. And of course it is unquestionable that it belongs to the Christian calling to relieve so far as it is within our power to do so, by the use of all legitimate means, every distress under which we find our fellow men to be suffering. We would not lag behind the Emmanuel Movement in zeal for service; and if we find it moved at this or that point by extravagances of pretension, and limited here and there by defective spiritual insight or outlook, surely, in avoiding what is bad in it, we may not refuse to imitate what is good, and our chief concern should be to fashion our own conduct more, not less, completely after the higher Christian ideal.
The particular psychological assumptions upon which the Emmanuel Movement is at present conducted may seem to us little assured. No doubt, we are told that the work "does not depend upon any theory, whether psychological or physiological, of the subconscious." 12 We are simply to act on the empirical fact that even broken men are accessible to spiritual influences, and through these spiritual influences may be brought to a better adjustment with life. To that extent we may all be believers in psychotherapy. What Christian pastor, what Christian person, has not acted on that assumption since Christianity began? But there is the organization? Well, what has the Emmanuel Movement to offer here which was not offered in the old Faith-Houses—say, Zeller's House in Mannedorf— except a very much thinner religion and a more advanced medical science? There remains the question of method. We ourselves prefer the older method of, say, the establishment of hospitals like the Presbyterian Hospitals in New York and Philadelphia, in which Christian charity provides the best medical service for human ills. We feel grave doubts as to the desirability of the minister himself becoming officially a medical practitioner, even by the method of suggestion; perhaps we would better say especially by the method of suggestion—even though that be spiritual suggestion. When Sir Clifford Allbutt declares that "notions of the priest as medicine-man" are "essentially pagan," he speaks no doubt unnecessarily harshly, but, we must admit it, essentially justly. When Doctor Charles Buttar advises the clergymen to be "content for the present to leave the untrained practice of methods of suggestion to quacks," we cannot deny that he has had some provocation for his counsel. When Stephen Paget in his gracious way remarks that "they who desire, extravagantly, to put 'spiritual healing' among the methods of the Christian ministry, seem to me to be losing sight of the fact that common sense is an essential trait of the Christian life," we cannot help feeling that he has said the right word in the right place.13 Is it not plain common sense for each organ of the body to be content with its own functions, the eye with its seeing, the ear with its hearing? And is there not a profound warning in Paul's remark, especially to us who have a work of our own to do, that all cannot be the ear—else where were the seeing?14
The leaders of the Emmanuel Movement are theists. Therefore, instead of saying of an act of healing, "The forces of nature do it," they prefer to say, "God does it in and through the forces of nature." In accordance with their theistic presuppositions this is the proper account to give of any natural act of healing. No "miraculous agency" is supposed; "the forces of nature" do the work. But there is a God, and this God works in and through the forces of nature, and thus in the end it is God that does it. God does it, that is, in the same sense and after the same fashion that it is God that does everything that is done throughout this whole great universe. W. F. Cobb, to whom we have already alluded more than once, is not purely a theist; he is a mystic. In describing the varieties of what he calls broadly faith-healing, therefore, he naturally reserves the culminating place for a variety which posits behind the act of healing, as its explanation, a mystical theory. It is not quite clear whether he would give his personal adhesion to all the details of this "spiritual healing," as he calls it.15 It is clear, however, that his sympathies go very largely with it, and that he looks upon it as, in the main at least, the true rationale of faith-healing. Its main postulate is that all physical disease, without exception, is the result, directly or indirectly, of psychical disorder, and is to be struck at, therefore, not in the body, where only symptoms manifest themselves, but in the soul, where alone lie the causes. What is sought is to procure for the soul of the sufferer an influx of spiritual life; and this life can be found, of course, only in God. "The power which alone can heal the soul," we are told, "is God." God, now, is reached by "faith"—the faith, it is to be observed, however, not of the sufferer, but of the practitioner, for in this form of theory a healer is necessary. "This faith is defined as a quality in the spirit of the healer, . . . which enables him to render quiescent his 'mortal mind,' and so to place his spirit in a positive state of calm, poised and at peace, and a channel for the Divine Spirit to pass through to the sufferer." The state of openness and serenity thus described as faith, we are further told, is simply the normal condition for prayer. We may express the process, therefore, by saying that spiritual healing is the product of the power of God directed by faith through prayer to the soul that needs healing. Hence, it is said that it is God, and God alone, who performs the act of healing, and that all healing is obtained by the influx of spiritual life into the soul from God; although the door of ingress into the soul is opened for it by a practitioner, the soul itself being in a state of passive, not active, faith in the process. The healing is conceived thus as in a true sense supernatural: an influx into the soul from without. Accordingly, it is asserted, there can be no real failure in it. An influx of spiritual life from God, the source of all life, must bring benefit. If this benefit does not show itself on the physical plane, it is nevertheless there—the soul at least has the benefit.
From a mysticism like this it is but a single step to open pantheism, and that step is taken by the form of mind-cure which is most in vogue among us:16 that which calls itself for some inexplicable reason by the name of Christian Science.17 There is a sense, of course, in which— just because the fundamental elements of her thought are pantheistic—Mrs. Eddy will not allow that her Christian Science is mind-cure. It is not "mind-cure" with a small "m," she affirms, but "Mind-cure," with a capital "M."18 But just because her fundamental thought is pantheistic, this is merely a verbal distinction. She is intensely emphatic that her Mind-cures are "not supernatural but supremely natural." 19 In its practice Christian Science does not differ greatly from other forms of mind-cure. Perceiving, or at least acknowledging, less readily than the Emmanuel Movement the limitations of mind-cure, it accepts, like the spiritual healing of which we have just been speaking, all kinds of cases—although the range of its actual cures, as Elwood Worcester dryly remarks, is not enlarged thereby.20 Its real differentiation from its sister systems lies wholly in the pseudo-philosophical background which it has washed in with a broad brush behind its activities. This certainly is portentous enough, but it serves only for ornament, and has no effect on the practice of the mind-cure, which is the real source of the movement's vogue. It is incumbent on us before we close this series of lectures to give some account of this system of mind-healing, which has become a religion, and has in the course of a very few years overspread the earth.
The late Doctor St. John Roosa once described mindcure as faith-cure run to seed.21 The characterization is true as a general proposition in the history of thought. Man is a religious animal, and the religious explanation of phenomena antedates, in this department of thought also, the naturalistic. It is also, in the longer historical sequences, true of the ultimate origin of the particular species of mind-cure which Doctor Roosa had in mind, that is to say, Christian Science. For Mesmer derives from Gassner, and Christian Science is unquestionably a granddaughter —however ungrateful a granddaughter—of Mesmerism.22 But there is no immediate affiliation of Christian Science with faith-cure, and certainly the adherents of Christian Science do not look upon themselves as its deteriorated descendants. They rather set themselves in irreducible antagonism to it.23 Not indeed that they deny that effects are produced by it. They appear to allow even that FaithHealers may obtain effects which they cannot themselves obtain; or at least more readily than they can obtain them. Mrs. Eddy has her characteristic way of accounting for this. "It is asked," she writes, "why are faith-cures sometimes more speedy than some of the cures wrought through Christian Scientists?" And she answers thus: "Because faith is belief and not understanding; and it is easier to believe than to understand Spiritual Truth. It demands less cross-bearing, self-renunciation, and divine science, to admit the claims of the personal senses, and appeal for relief to a humanized God, than to deny these claims and learn the divine way, drinking his cup, being baptized with his baptism, gaining the end through persecution and purity." It must not pass without notice that a somewhat odd admission is made here that the results obtained by Christian Science may also be obtained without Christian Science; sometimes more speedily than by Christian Science; by an appeal, for example, to a humanized God; by the open road of faith, that is, rather than the difficult path of understanding. How anything can be obtained by an appeal to a humanized God is a puzzle, seeing that it is presupposed that no such being exists. The FaithHealers only cry out to the void, and yet they get their results, and that sometimes more quickly and always with less effort on their part, than the Christian Scientists.24 Various methods of accounting for this remarkable fact have been suggested. Marsdon says faith-cures are really mind-cures, wrought by "anything that will enable a sick person to change his thought," that is to say, they are not Mind-cures but mind-cures, wrought by our own change of thought, which indeed is asserted scores of times by Mrs. Eddy herself. Mrs. Kate Taylor, with much the same implications, explaining the difference as that faith-cure requires faith to be healed, and mind-cure does not, adds: "Prayer to a personal God affects the sick like a drug that has no efficacy of its own, but borrows its power from human faith and belief. The drug does nothing because it has no intelligence." Similarly Frances Lord represents the difference to be one of theory only, not of practice, while with respect to the theory she remarks that there is more to be known than the Faith-Healers admit.25 Such statements undoubtedly show that Christian Scientists do not deny that faith-cure may be acknowledged to be an undeveloped form of their better practice. But this does not carry with it any implication of immediate historical connection.
It was out of a very different soil, in point of fact, that Christian Science actually grew. According to Mrs. Eddy's own account her previous experience had been in other forms of distinctively mind-cure. She had dabbled in homoeopathy (her then husband sometimes practised this art), and had found that she could dilute the drugs until nothing of them was left, and still they cured. Then she tried—so she says—mesmerism under the guidance of "a distinguished Mesmerist," or as she elsewhere speaks of him,26 "the magnetic doctor, Mr. P. P. Quimby." When it was subsequently pointed out that she had learned her system from him—as she certainly did—she repelled the statement thus: "The cowardly claim that I am not the originator of my own writings, but that one P. P. Quimby is, has been legally met and punished." She also toyed with Spiritualism. Her own account of the origin of her doctrine is, that having been for years a sufferer from chronic disease, she met with an injury pronounced by her physician to be necessarily fatal, and was left to die. She concluded not to do so, and got suddenly well instead. For twenty years she had been seeking to trace all physical effects to a mental cause, and now, in the early days of February, 1866—the birth-year of the new science, then, according to her account—she "gained the scientific certainty that all causation was Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon."27 Quimby died on January 16, 1866, and here, hard on his heels follows his successor, with, despite all denials, nothing in her hands but what she had got from him. For Quimby was not a mesmerist or magnetic healer as she represents him, but the founder of the whole school of Mental-Healers which has flourished in America through the last half-century. And it turns out that not only was Mrs. Eddy's fundamental idea, but the characteristic language in which she expresses her idea, Quimby's before it was hers.28
First as openly a disciple of Quimby, and then, progressively with more and more strength and even violence of assertion of independence of him, Mrs. Eddy gradually set her doctrine afloat. She was already teaching it in 1867. Her advertisement as a teacher is found in the Spiritualistic paper, The Banner of Light, in 1868. In 1870 she is firmly established and greatly prospering at Lynn, in partnership with one of her pupils, Richard Kennedy, as a firm of healers on the basis of Quimby—Kennedy doing the healing while she taught.29 Meanwhile she was writing. In 1870 her first pamphlet was copyrighted, although its issue was delayed for another six years. At length, in 1875, appeared her magnum opus—Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures—which, revised, and rerevised, and rerevised again—when it had reached its 440th edition in 1907 the editions ceased to be numbered—remains the sole text-book of Christian Science; or, if we prefer to think of Mrs. Eddy's followers from that point of view, the Second Bible of the Church of Christ, Scientist.30
Christian Science, above all other religions called bookreligions, is a religion of a book. This book is, of course, represented as written under divine inspiration, and as carrying with it divine authority. "No human tongue or pen," says Mrs. Eddy in its opening pages, "taught me the Science contained in this book, Science and Health, and neither tongue nor pen can ever overthrow it." 31 She would blush, she tells us, to write of her book in the strain she uses toward it, "were it of human origin, and I, apart from God, its author, but as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven, in divine Metaphysics, I cannot be supermodest of the Christian Science text-book."32 The book is received in the spirit in which it is given. "The Bible and the Christian Science text-book," writes Irving C. Tomlinson, in the Christian Science Bible Quarterly Lessons, "are our only preachers. As the discourses are made up wholly of passages from the Bible and the Christian Science text-book, they contain nothing of human opinion; they are devoid of man-made theories. They voice the eternal fact, concerning the everlasting Truth. They set forth the realities of being; they inform, instruct, and enlighten concerning the verities of God and man." When Tomlinson says that the Bible and Science and Health are the only preachers which the Christian Scientists have, he is declaring the literal fact. There are no sermons delivered in Christian Science churches. Whenever and wherever Christian Scientists meet together for worship the service is the same. A passage is read from the Bible and a passage is read from Science and Health. Some hymns are sung. The only prayer used is the Lord's Prayer, followed line by line by Mrs. Eddy's adaptation of it to her system of teaching. That is all.33 The passage from the Bible, it should be noted, is read by the official called the Second Reader, and that from Science and Health by the First Reader.34 The place given to Science and Health in the private life of Christian Scientists is comparable to that given it in the public services. Every one is expected to purchase and read it; and not only to read it but to pore over it. It is intended that it shall dominate the whole life.35
When we open the book thus sent out into the world as divine in origin and contents, we receive a painful shock. It is hopelessly confused and obscure whether in matter or in style. Even Mrs. Eddy's disciples sometimes are frank enough to admit that "the first reading of her chief work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, leaves the impression, in spite of much that is strikingly beautiful and true, that there is a prevailing tone of incoherence, contradiction, illogicality, and arbitrary, dietatorial assertion, with no regard for evident fact either in the realm of objective nature or history." 36 To go to the opposite extreme, a high dignitary of the Roman Catholic church, Robert Hugh Benson, declares37 that "it is impossible to describe the confusion of mind that falls upon the student of Science and Health." "The quasi-philosophical phraseology of the book, the abuse of terms, the employment of ambiguous words at crucial points, the character of the exegesis, the broken-backed paradoxes, the astonishing language, the egotism—all these things and many more end by producing in the mind a symptom resembling that which neuritis produces in the body, namely the sense that an agonizing abnormality is somewhere about, whether in the writings or in the reader is uncertain." He is almost inclined to look upon the fact that Christian Science has been actually propagated by such a book as a proof of its divine origin. This phenomenon is far more remarkable, he intimates, than any miracle of healing Mrs. Eddy claims to have performed: "for she has done more than mend broken tissues by the application of mind, she has mended minds by the application of nonsense." Another writer slyly suggests that it is by the very fact that the book is sheer nonsense that its effect is produced.38 If we would only say with the King in Alice in Wonderland, "If there's no meaning in it, that saves a world of trouble, as we needn't try to find any"—it would be all up with it. The mischief comes from trying to find a meaning in it. "Given the will to believe by, say, the cure of a friend, the perusal of the book, by its general unintelligibility, produces a kind of mental coma, such as is induced by staring fixedly at a single bright spot." It hypnotizes us, in short.39 It is barely possible, of course, that some of the obscurity of the book is intentional, designed to produce just this effect. The Unitarian clergyman, James Henry Wiggin, who served for some years as Mrs. Eddy's literary adviser, and in that capacity revised the text of the book (from 1885 on), suggests as much.40 "As for clearness," he writes, "many Christian Science people thought her earlier editions much better, because they sounded more like Mrs. Eddy. The truth is that she does not care to have her paragraphs clear, and delights in so expressing herself that her words may have various readings and meanings. Really, that is one of the tricks of the trade. You know, Sibyls have always been thus oracular, to 'keep the word of promise to the ear and break it to the hope.'" Allow this theory, however, the fullest application, and the book nevertheless remains hopelessly incompetent. Wiggin puts his finger on the true cause when he adds: "Quimby had definite ideas but Mrs. Eddy has not understood them." Her ability lay in other spheres than in that of philosophic thought and literary expression.
Mrs. Eddy's pantheism deprived her, of course, of a personal God, and she insisted on the impersonality of God with the utmost vigor.41 But she rightly found what she calls "the leading factor in Mind-Science," in the consequent proposition that "Mind" (with a capital "M") "is all, and matter is naught"; or as she otherwise expresses it, that "the only realities are the divine mind and its ideas";42 "nothing possesses reality and existence except God." 43 She sums up her entire teaching in four fundamental propositions which she declares to be self-evident, and so true that they are still true if they are read backwards: (i) God is all in all; (2) God is good; Good is Mind; (3) God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter; and (4) Life, God, omnipotent good, deny death, evil, sin, disease."44 More at large she expounds her system thus: "God is supreme; is mind; is principle, not person; includes all and is reflected by all that is real and eternal; is Spirit and Spirit is infinite; is the only substance; is the only life. Man was and is the idea of God; therefore mind can never be in man. Divine Science shows that matter and mortal body are the illusions of human belief, which seem to appear and disappear to mortal sense alone. When this belief changes as in dreams, the material body changes with it, going wherever we wish, and becoming whatever belief may decree. . . . Besiege sickness and death with these principles and all will disappear."
Frances Lord says the first lesson we must learn, accordingly, is that "in the universe there is only the all and the nothing." "God is all." "Since God is all, and God is good, the all is the good; whatever is not good is not real and may be proclaimed so." The power of proclamation is so great that if we train ourselves to deny that an evil is, and to affirm that it is not—it is not. "We could teach ourselves Denial," she explains, "using any error to deny away; but we deny Disease because we have set ourselves this particular task."48 "Mind," she says in further explanation, "in its thinking faculty is pure understanding. Understanding casts a shadow; this shadow is Intellect. Intellect believes things and has opinions. Intellectual belief casts a shadow; this shadow is the human body." 48 "If the body shows forth a bruise, the shadow is showing forth as a defective shadow. Then the substance, or wouldbe substance, must be defective. But we have just said it is intellectual belief that plays the part of substance to the shadow we call the body. Then the defect must be in some intellectual belief: it must consist in some mistaken opinion or notion which the thinking mind holds. . . . Yes, the bruise pictures out some mistaken ideas."47 "What is the harm of a shadow?" she continues. "There is no harm whatever in a shadow, provided it knows it is a shadow; the harm of error comes in when it forgets this and claims independence. What is the proper way to handle a shadow? Shall we argue with it, talk to it, coax it? No." This is the essential teaching of the whole school. Only Frances Lord goes a step further in this shadow-dance. She believes also in Karma: that is, shortly, in Inheritance. If the cause of illness lies further
back than this life, "it is incurable, except the patient can be led to realize in so deep a sense the meaning of the words, 'There is no power in evil,'" that he is lifted above even "the old shadows of former lives and thoughts." 48
Now, if bodily disease is only "an appearance, a sensuous seeming, an empty show," an illusion only—as Mrs. Eddy says, "You will call it neuralgia, but I call it Illusion"—all that is necessary to cure disease is to dissipate the illusion, that is to say, to change the mind. No knowledge of anatomy is necessary; no medicament, no regimen, no anything except the projection of a healthy image of body. We are sick because we think ourselves sick; we are well whenever we change our minds and say we are well until we believe it. There is only one possibility of failure. Suppose you are thinking yourself well, but others persist in thinking that you are sick. This is unfortunate: for as fast as you project yourself a well body, they project you a sick one. You must get all about you to think with you to insure success. Nay, you must get the whole world to do so—unless you can persuade the world to forget you utterly, which should do just as well.49
If we survey the system of Christian Science as a whole, with an active desire to discover in it elements of value, it is quite possible to fix upon characteristics which, viewed in the abstract, may seem admirable. There is its uncompromising idealism, for example; the emphasis which it places on spirit as distinguished from matter. There is the high value it attaches to Truth, as over against other forms—emotional or volitional—of human activity. And there is its constant inculcation of contentment and serenity, the quiet optimism of its outlook on life, which must tend, one would think, to the production of a demeanor, at least, if not a character, full of attractiveness. These things occur in the actual system, however, not in the abstract but in very concrete forms; and the concrete forms in which they occur in the system do not seem, upon being frankly looked in the face, very beautiful.
It is easy immediately on perceiving the idealistic presuppositions of Christian Science to go off into laudations of idealism in general, in contrast with the sordid materialism of our age. But it is our own idealism we are lauding, not Mrs. Eddy's. Her idealism is a sheer pantheism, involving a complete acosmism, which sinks, not the material universe only, but the world of individual spirits as well, in the ocean of undifferentiated Being. If it be said that Mrs. Eddy does not work her pantheistic assumption out consistently, that is true in one sense and quite untrue in another and much more important sense. It is true that she is constantly making assertions quite inconsistent with it; that in her attempts to expound it, she cannot maintain her consistency three sentences at a time, but everywhere presents us, as Miss Sturge puts it,50 "with such a tangle of incoherent, inconsistent, confused statements, contradictory to each other, as has, perhaps, never been seriously given to the world before." But with all her inability in expounding the details of her thought to keep in view its fundamental pantheistic postulate, Mrs. Eddy does not fail to make this pantheistic postulate consistently fundamental to her system, or to press it explicitly to its extremest implications. Her system is precisely acosmic pantheism, that, all that, and nothing but that.
From another point of view also it is absurd to speak in terms of praise of Mrs. Eddy's idealism. It is but a sorry idealism at the best. It does not take its starting-point from the vision of the spiritual, from an enlarged mental outlook and a soaring sense of the value of spiritual things —but from a cringing fear of the evils of life, as life is and must be lived by creatures of sense. It makes all the difference whether we begin by affirming spirit and draw the inference thence to the relative nothingness of the material; or begin by shirking the material and inferring only thence that spirit is all. The centre of gravity of the two attitudes, though they be described in identical language, is antipodal; their reactions on life—expressed in thought, feeling and doing—are so completely contrasting as to be in point of fact directly contradictory. Mrs. Eddy's beginning lay in the denial of matter, that the suffering and trials of life might be, if they could not be escaped, yet as far as possible circumvented. Her attitude is that of flight, flight from the evils of life. There is nothing heroic about it; nothing elevated or elevating. We fear that we must say that it looks from without rather sordid. Her idealism is a sham idealism; merely a mechanical device for the eluding of life, a life which must be lived in a world of suffering (of which Mrs. Eddy has the keenest sense) and sin (of which she appears to have no sense at all).51 Of course the device is as vain as it is mechanical. To deny the evils of life, however stoutly, unfortunately does not abolish them. Mrs. Eddy herself suffered from disease and weakness; she too grew old and died.52 Her idealism is as false to all the facts of experience as it is mean in its origin. And we must add that it is as cruel as it is false and mean. We see it in its full enormity only when we see it at work on helpless sufferers—on those too ill to speak for themselves, on tortured infancy. The annals of the practice of Christian Science on sick and suffering babies belongs to the history of atrocities.53
Similarly, when we are tempted to praise Christian Science for the honor which it does to Truth, we are bound to stop and ask, not only materially, what this Truth is to which it gives honor, but also, formally, whether it can be commended for the functions which it assigns to Truth in its system. What it calls "Truth," when it speaks honoringly of Truth, is just its pantheistic theory of Being— that all is mind, and mind is God, and besides God there is nothing. To this "Truth" as such—that is to say, to its mere apprehension as true—it ascribes all healing power. It is therefore that it calls itself "metaphysical healing," healing, that is, by metaphysics, and that it named its college, founded in Boston in 1881, the "Massachusetts Metaphysical College." This is, in point of fact, its only distinguishing feature, borrowed indeed from P. P. Quimby, but made all its own. There are other systems of mental healing abroad, seeking healing through other mental activities—faith, say, or the will. Mrs. Eddy remarks:54 "The common custom of praying for the recovery of the sick finds help in blind belief, whereas help should come from the enlightened understanding." "Willpower is not Science," she says again.55 "Willing the sick to recover is not the metaphysical practice of Christian Science, but sheer animal magnetism. . . . Truth and not corporeal will is the divine power which says to disease, 'Peace, be still.'" A "Christian Science Healer" explains the whole matter clearly.56 Every man, he declares, has a "God-given right" to "spiritual, mental and bodily wholeness"; and this wholeness is "received in proportion to man's intelligent understanding of the Godnature and its operation." We pass by the mere phrases "God-given right," "spiritual, mental and bodily wholeness." The former is only a fashion of speaking with no specific meaning on a Christian Scientist's lips except as a strong way of saying, it is an inalienable right. The latter is merely rhetorical enumeration to emphasize the single idea of completeness; on Christian Science ground mind and body are both nonentities and no man can have a right to anything mental or bodily—he has only a right to be rid of all such things. What is to be noted is that everybody is affirmed to have an inalienable right to wholeness, and this wholeness to which every one has an inalienable right is affirmed to be actually enjoyed only—here is the point, note it well—in proportion as each has an intelligent understanding of "the God-nature and its operation." Here, you see, is a truly rampant intellectualism, a pure Gnosticism. To understand is to have and to be. In proportion as we understand, and understand intelligently, we possess. The thing to be understood and the understanding of which brings wholeness is described as "the God-nature and its operation." In this system "the God-nature" is defined as the All. "God is all," we are told, "and all is God." Understand that, and you are "whole." It is the mere understanding of it that does the work; it always does the work, and the work is not done where this understanding is not present. This is the reason why puzzled pastors sometimes complain—surely they are themselves showing little understanding—that members of their flock who are tainted with Christian Science are found to have turned away from historical Christianity. It is the first step in Christian Science that you must turn away from historical Christianity.57 It is the "new knowledge" that does the work. Unless you have the "new knowledge" you have no Christian Science; for Christian Science is just this "new knowledge," and this "new knowledge," being just pantheistic acosmism, is the contradiction of historical Christianity. You can have a little Christian Science in your Christianity just as little as you can have a little water in your fire; and a little Christianity in your Christian Science just as little as you can have a little fire in your water. The things are mutually exclusive.
This bald intellectualism is pressed even to the absurd extreme that curative value is ascribed to the mere reading of Mrs. Eddy's writings. "The perusal of the author's publications," she tells us herself, "heals sickness constantly." 58 A palsied arm, we are told, was cured by reading a single sentence: "All is Mind." Sometimes, no doubt, appearances are against this doctrine. But Mrs. Eddy has her explanation and her encouragement to offer. "If patients sometimes seem the worse for reading this book," she says,59—and who can wonder, if they do?—"the change may either arise from the alarm of the physician, or may mark the crisis of the disease. Perseverance in its reading has generally healed them completely." This is healing distinctly by reading. ToUe, lege, is the command in a new sense.
It puzzles us greatly, therefore, to learn that healing can apparently be had nevertheless without the reading of Mrs. Eddy's book, and indeed without the understanding which we are instructed to look upon as itself the healing. Mrs. Eddy tells this story:60 "A case of dropsy, given up by the faculty, fell into my hands. It was a terrible case. Tapping had been employed, and yet the patient looked like a barrel as she lay in her bed. I prescribed the fourth attenuation of Argenitum nilricum, with occasional doses of a high attenuation of Sulphuris. She improved perceptibly. Believing then somewhat in the ordinary theories of medical practice, and learning that her former physician had prescribed these remedies, I began to fear an aggravation of symptoms from their prolonged use, and told the patient so; but she was unwilling to give up the medicine when she was recovering. It then occurred to me to give her unmedicated pellets, and watch the result. I did so, and she continued to gain. Finally she said that she would give up her medicine for one day, and risk the effects. After trying this, she informed me that she could get along two days without globules; but on the third day she again suffered, and was relieved by taking them. She went on in this way, taking the unmedicated pellets—and receiving occasional visits from me—but employing no other means, and was cured." What had "metaphysical healing," that is, healing through understanding, to do with this cure? If understanding is healing, how was this woman, who did not understand, healed? Of course, Mrs. Eddy would say that by the deception practised on this woman she was got to project herself gradually a well-body, and so she gradually found herself with a well-body. But that is not "metaphysical" healing, in which knowing is being.
But, it seems, not only may you be healed without understanding, but you may fail to be healed even if you do understand. If you take poison you will die; even, it seems, if you do not know you have taken it. "If a dose of poison is swallowed through mistake, and the patient dies," Mrs. Eddy posits a case,61 "even though physician and patient are expecting favorable results, does belief, you ask, cause this death?" "Even so," she answers, "and as directly as if the poison had been intentionally taken." Then follows the adjustment of the case to the theory. "In such cases," we are told, "a few persons believe the potion swallowed by the patient to be harmless; but the vast majority of mankind, though they know nothing of this particular case, and this special person, believe the arsenic, the strychnine, or whatever the drug used, to be poisonous, for it has been set down as a poison by mortal mind. The consequence is that the result is controlled by the majority of opinions outside, not by the infinitesimal minority of opinions in the sick chamber." If this be true, then it is all up with "metaphysical healing." It is not the individual's understanding; it is the common opinion of mankind—not as to this particular case of which few have knowledge—but in general, which determines results. Material things, having the ground of their being and modes of action in the common opinion of mankind, are just as objectively real to the individual as if they had the ground of their being and modes of action in themselves. The individual is helpless in their presence, and all the better understanding which he may possess as to their real nature as illusions, can serve him in no possible way.
A pantheist has no right to a religion. He must be content with a philosophy and its postulates. As a Christian Science Healer already quoted tells us, he understands "the God-nature and its operation," and forthwith is "whole" with that "spiritual, mental and bodily wholeness" which is his indefeasible right. Get into your place as a part of that great whole which is God, and, being in your place, you have your wholeness. This is as much of a religion as a pantheist can have. It was this that the Stoic meant when he said: "Get into the stream of nature, and if you do not like the way it is flowing, at least you need not squeal." 62 And this is the reason why the religion of mystics—who are pantheizing in their fundamental thought—tends to run into what we call Quietism, which is on the passive side resignation, on the active renunciation, and in its lowest reaches becomes placid acceptance of the lot that has come to us, in its highest rises into disinterested love. Do we not have here the account also of the special type of piety which is said to be developed in Christian Science circles? Christian Science, we are told, has brought not only relief from suffering and disease, but release also from worry, anxiety, contentiousness. We will let Frank Podmore depict this self-centred piety for us. "The religion of Christian Science," says he,63 "oils the wheels of the domestic machinery, smooths out business troubles, releases from fear, promotes happiness. But it is entirely egoistic in expression. . . . For Christian Scientists there is no recognized service to their fellows, beyond the force of their example." "There are no charities or institutions of any kind for social service in connection with the Christian Science churches." "Poverty and sin, like sickness, are illusions, errors of 'mortal mind,' and cannot be alleviated by material methods. If a man is sick, he does not need drugs; if poor, he has no need of money; if suffering, of material help or even sympathy. For the cure in all cases must be sought within. The New Religion, then, is without the enthusiasm of Humanity. It is, in fact, without enthusiasm of any kind. We shall look in vain here for spiritual rapture, for ecstatic contemplation of the divine. There is no place here for any of the passions which are associated with Christianity, nor, indeed, for any exalted emotion. There can be no remorse where there is no sin; compassion, when the suffering is unreal, can only be mischievous; friendship, as we shall see later, is a snare, and the love of man and woman a hindrance to true spirituality. There is no mystery about this final revelation, and there is no room, therefore, for wonder and awe. Here are no 'long-drawn aisles and fretted vaults'; the Scientist's outlook on the spiritual world is as plain and bare as the walls of his temple, shining white under the abundant radiance of the electric lamps."
The ethics of pantheism tend either to license or to asceticism. The flesh is nothing, and all its delights and desires are nothing, and may be treated as nothing— whether in the way of careless indulgence or of stern extirpation. We may be thankful that Mrs. Eddy's thought turns in the direction of asceticism, though, to be sure, it is to an asceticism of sufficiently mild a type. On all matters of dietetics and hygiene she of course pours contempt, because she is thinking of them primarily as curative agents, and she can have nothing to do with curative agents; yet she manages to spice her remarks upon them with an ascetic flavor. Eat what you please is her prescription: much or little—it is all nothing. God gave men "dominion not only over the fish in the sea, but over the fish in the stomach." 64 But, of course, remember65 "that gustatory pleasure is a sensuous illusion, a phantasm of the mortal mind, diminishing as we better apprehend our spiritual existence, and ascend the ladder of Life"—Life with a capital "L," for Mrs. Eddy was not thinking of growing old. "A metaphysician never . . . reconfmends or trusts in hygiene." 66 "The daily ablutions of an infant," writes she,67 "are no more natural or necessary, than would be the process of taking a fish out of water every day, and covering it with dirt, in order to make it thrive more vigorously thereafter in its native element. 'Cleanliness is next to godliness'; but washing should be only for the purpose of keeping the body clean, and this can be done without scrubbing the whole surface daily. Water is not the natural habitat of humanity." "Is civilization," she exclaims,48 "only a higher form of idolatry, that man should bow down to a flesh brush, to flannels, to baths, diet, exercise, and air?" But she has a deeper feeling. "Bathing, scrubbing, to alter the secretions, or remove unhealthy exhalations from the cuticle," she declares in her earlier editions at least, received a "useful rebuke from Jesus' precept 'Take no thought ... for the body.'" "We must beware," she adds, "of making clean only the outside of the platter." 69
It is with respect to marriage, however, that the asceticism intrinsic to Mrs. Eddy's philosophy pushes nearest to the surface. She discourages marriage and prefers celibacy. "Is marriage more right than celibacy?" she asks, and answers,70 "Human knowledge indicates that it is, but Science indicates that it is not." And so far from marriage involving children, childless marriages are the best and are to be sought after.71 To the objection that, if every one followed this advice, the human race would soon perish, she has a ready answer. The propagation of the species, she intimates, does not depend on marriage; sex is an error of the mortal mind. "The butterfly, bee and moth," she says,72—we are afraid that Mrs. Eddy's knowledge of natural history was defective—even now are reproduced in an asexual manner, and this may—nay, will —be true of man when he attains more nearly to his true being. Meanwhile, these are times of ignorance; and during these times of ignorance, she counsels, let marriages continue.78 Thus Christian Science makes its concession to "mortal mind."74
We observe that Mrs. Eddy has an eschatology. She is looking forward to a better time to come, when all that Christian Science dreams should be shall be. Why her dreams of the future should take the form of this golden age we do not quite understand. If all is mind and mind is God, we should think Mrs. Eddy's eschatology would point forward to a time when all the wavelets which fret the surface of the infinite deep should have sunk to rest in its depths. But no, the paradise she looks forward to is, apparently, a material paradise.75 There are men in it, and they increase and multiply and replenish the earth— though after an asexual manner. They are in it but not of it. They tread the adder under foot; and though they drink deadly things, they will suffer no harm—for there will be no "mortal mind" then to make it harm them. They will walk on the water, it seems, and turn water into wine, and multiply loaves and fishes, as Jesus once did, but men cannot do now. At least Herman S. Hering, first reader of the church at Concord, seems to promise this to us, "eventually." "It is claimed by some opponents," he writes,78 "that because Christian Scientists do not walk on the water, turn water into wine, multiply loaves and fishes, as did Jesus, and because they still have to do with matter at every turn, the doctrines of Christian Science, especially that of the unreality of matter, must be fallacious. Such an argument is like that which declares that, because a school-boy, who is just learning to add and subtract, cannot work out a problem in cube-root, therefore the claims of greater possibilities in the science of mathematics are fallacious, and the school-boy is badly deceived by the promise of being able eventually to solve such higher problems."
There is a good time coming, then, and we may confidently look forward to it. It contains for us, no doubt, nothing beyond what we ought to have here and now, and would have here and now were it not for the interference of "mortal mind." In enumerating the benefits which Christian Science confers on us, Frances Lord includes in the list such items as these:77 "6. We do not need to fear any climate. ... 7. We do not need to travel or go away for a change of air. ... 8. We know that we do not really live by eating, and this mere knowledge—without any effort to do without food, or lessen it, or indeed interfere with our ordinary simple habits at all—has the effect of making us less dependent on our meals both as to what and when to eat. 9. And in the same way we grow less dependent upon clothing, warmth and coldness, for comfort." But she immediately adds: "Here let us say emphatically that we neither enjoin, nor encourage, any experiments about food or clothing. Experience shows us that any changes, to be worth anything, must and do come about of themselves, in persons who, having learnt the truth of life, accepted and begun to live by it, demonstrate it naturally and spontaneously." This is, of course, only a repetition of Mrs. Eddy's constant manner. For example:78 "Food does not affect the real existence of man . . . but it would be foolish to venture beyond present understanding, foolish to stop eating until we gain more goodness, and a clearer comprehension of the living God."79 But what about the success, in actual healing, of this system which describes "a mental cure"—this is the way that Luther M. Marsdon puts it—as "the discovery of a sick person that he is well," and the practice of which consists^simply in the transference of this thought from the practitioner to the patient? It is just as successful as any other of the many systems of mental practice; no more and no less. Its list of cures is long, and many of them are remarkable.80 We have no reason to doubt the reality of large numbers of these cures. But by now, we surely understand that there are limitations to them which are never overpassed. These limitations are brought sharply into view by a challenge cast out by Professor L. T. Townsend.81 He made this proposition: "If you or the president of your college, or your entire college of doctors, will put into place a real case of hip or ankle dislocation, without resorting to the ordinary manipulation or without touching it, I will give you a thousand dollars. Or if you or your president, or your entire college, will give sight to one of the inmates of the South Boston Asylum for the Blind, that sightless person having been born blind, I will give you two thousand dollars." The money was never called for. But in the Journal of Christian Science this reply appeared: "Will the gentleman accept my thanks due to his generosity, for if I should accept his bid he would lose his money. Why, because I performed more difficult tasks fifteen years ago. At present I am in another department of Christian work, where 'there shall be no sign given them,' for they shall be instructed in the principles of Christian Science that furnishes its own proof." We have observed that in a similar vein a Faith-Healer, Doctor Cullis, explained that "a broken bone is not sickness, and should be put into the hands of a surgeon." Mrs. Eddy does not thus curtly refuse, she only postpones, the treatment of such cases. "Until the advancing age admits the efficacy and supremacy of Mind," she writes,82 "it is better to leave the adjustment of broken bones and dislocations to the fingers of a surgeon, while you confine yourself chiefly"—that "chiefly" is very good!—"to mental reconstruction or the prevention of inflammation or protracted confinement." Even while saying this, however, she asseverates that cures of this kind have nevertheless already been actually performed both by herself and her pupils.
It was not the magnitude of the task asked by Professor Townsend which led Mrs. Eddy to palter thus. It was the nature of it. The drawing of a tooth is not a great thing, but Mrs. Eddy's Science was not equal to it. We do indeed hear here too of "more difficult tasks" already performed. We hear, for example, of "the 'good-sized cavity' of an aching tooth filled up by mental treatment, 'not with foreign substance, but the genuine, white and perfect.'" 88 But when Mrs. Eddy herself had a troublesome tooth, she employed the good offices of a dentist to obtain relief, and even availed herself of his "painless method" to guard herself from suffering in the process.84 The explanation she gives runs as follows: "Bishop Berkeley and I agree that all is Mind. Then, consistently with this premise, the conclusion is that if I employ a dental surgeon, and he believes that the extraction of a tooth is made easier by some application of means which he employs, and I object to the employment of this means, I have turned the dentist's mental protest against myself, he thinks I must suffer because his method is interfered with. Therefore, his mental force weighs against a painless operation, whereas it should be put into the same scale as mine, thus producing a painless operation as a logical result." This is very ingenious. The application of the anaesthetic to Mrs. Eddy's tooth was to operate not on Mrs. Eddy, directly, but on the dentist; it was not to keep the extraction of the tooth from hurting Mrs. Eddy, but to keep the dentist from thinking that its extraction would hurt Mrs. Eddy. But the real question of interest is, Why did Mrs. Eddy have recourse to a dentist at all? 85 The toothache and the tooth, Mrs: Eddy and the operator, the soothing application and the cruel forceps were one and all illusions. It is safe to say that the extraction itself—the act of a nonentity on a nonentity— did not happen.
Sir William Osier tells us in a few direct words why Mrs. Eddy went to a dentist. "Potent as is the influence of mind on body," he writes, "and many as are the miraclelike cures which may be worked, all are in functional disorders, and we know only too well that nowadays the prayer of faith neither sets a broken thigh nor checks an epidemic of typhoid fever." 86 That is to say, directly, by its own power. It may do either, indirectly, through the gracious answer of the Almighty God who has infinite resources at His disposal; who, as the old writer to whom we listened at the beginning of this lecture told us, creates physicians and medicines and gives them their skill and efficacy, that He, the Lord, may be honored in His marvellous works. But Mrs. Eddy had no Lord to pray to, and no faith in which to appear before Him, and no hope in His almighty succor. Let us be thankful that she at least had a dentist.87