Mortal ills and the needs of the stomach rank next after the instinct of self-preservation among all the subjects which engage the attention of the race. If we do not go on living we cannot do the work we think there is to do; if we remain hungry we will lose the power to work properly or to enjoy, and at last come to the door of death. From bad or scanty food follows a train of physical ills called generally disease. Disease reaches us also through too much food. So in every direction these ills attack us; even when our feeding is correct and sufficient it is found that we fall a prey because our Karma, settled by ourselves in some previous life, ordains that we enter on this one handicapped by the hereditary taint due to the wickedness or the errors of our fathers and mothers. And the records of science show that the taint in the blood or the lymph may jump over many lives, attacking with virulence some generation distant very far from the source. What wonder, then, that the cure of disease is an all-absorbing subject with every one! The Christian knows that it is decreed by Almighty God that He will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children even to the third and fourth generation, and the non-believer sees that by some power in nature the penalty is felt even so far.
All of this has given to the schools of mental and so-called "metaphysical" healing a strong pull on the fears, the feelings, the wishes, and the bodies of those to whom they address themselves, and especially in the United States. That there is more attention given to the subject in America seems true to those who have been on the other side of the Atlantic and noticed how small is the proportion of people there who know anything about the subject. But in the United States in every town many can be found who know about these schools and practise after their methods. Why it has more hold here can be left to conjecture, as the point under consideration is why it has any hold at all. It is something like patent medicine. Offer a cure to people for their many ills, and they will take it up; offer it cheap, and they will use it; offer it as an easy method, and they will rush for it under certain conditions. Metaphysical healing is easy for some because it declares, first, that no money need be paid to doctors for medicine; second, that medical fluids and drugs may be dispensed with; and third, that it is easily learned and practised. The difficulties that arise out of the necessities of logic are not present for those who never studied it, but are somewhat potent with those who reason correctly; — but that is not usual for the general run of minds. They see certain effects and accept the assumed cause as the right one. But many persons will not even investigate the system, because they think it requires them to postulate the non-existence of that which they see before their eyes. The statements quoted from the monthly Christian Science in March PATH are bars in the way of such minds. If they could be induced to just try the method offered for cure, belief might result, for effects indeed often follow. But the popular mind is not in favor of "mind cure", and more prominence is given in the daily papers to cases of death under it than to cures. And very full reports always appear of a case such as one in March, where "faith curers", in order to restore life, went to praying over the dead body of one of the members of a believing family.
During a recent tour over this country from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back, I had the opportunity of meeting hundreds of disciples of these schools, and found in nearly all cases that they were not addicted to logic but calmly ignored very plain propositions, satisfied that if cures were accomplished the cause claimed must be the right one, and almost without exception they denied the existence of evil or pain or suffering. There was a concurrence of testimony from all to show that the dominant idea in their minds was the cure of their bodily ills and the continuance of health. The accent was not on the beauty of holiness or the value to them and the community of a right moral system and right life, but on the cure of their diseases. So the conclusion has been forced home that all these schools exist because people desire to be well more than they desire to be good, although they do not object to goodness if that shall bring wholeness.
And, indeed, one does not have to be good to gain the benefit of the teachings. It is enough to have confidence, to assert boldly that this does not exist and that that has no power to hurt one. I do not say the teachers of the "science" agree with me herein, but only that whether you are good or bad the results will follow the firm practice of the method enjoined, irrespective of the ideas of the teachers.
For in pure mind-cure as compared with its congener "Christian Science", you do not have to believe in Jesus and the gospels, yet the same results are claimed, for Jesus taught that whatever you prayed for with faith, that you should have.
Scientific research discloses that the bodies of our race are infected with taints that cause nearly all of our diseases, and school after school of medicine has tried and still tries to find the remedy that will dislodge the foulness in the blood. This is scientific, since it seeks the real physical cause; metaphysical healing says it cures, but cannot prove that the cause is destroyed and not merely palliated. That there is some room for doubt history shows us, for none will deny that many a pure thinking and acting pair have brought forth children who displayed some taint derived from a distant ancestor. Evidently the pure individual thoughts had no power over the great universal development of the matter used by those human bodies.
Turning now to medicine, we find the Italian Count Mattei promulgating a system of cure by the homoeopathic use of subtle vegetable essences which may well give pause to those who would make universal the curing by faith or mind alone. Some of his liquids will instantly stop violent pain, restore sight, give back hearing, and dissipate abnormal growths. His globules will make a drunken man sober, and, given to the nurse who suckles a babe, will cure the child who takes the milk. The drunkard and the child do not think about or have faith in the remedies, yet they cure. Is it not better to restore health by physical means and leave the high teachings of the healers, all taken from well known sources, for the benefit of our moral nature?
And if Christian healers read these lines, should they not remember that when the prophet restored the widow's son he used physical means — his own magnetism applied simultaneously to every member of the child's body, and Jesus, when the woman who touched his garment was cured, lost a portion of his vitality — not his thoughts — for he said "virtue" had gone out from him? The Apostle also gave directions that if any were sick the others should assemble about the bed and anoint with oil, laying on their hands meanwhile: simply physical therapeutics following a long line of ancient precedent dating back to Noah. Moses taught how to cure diseases and to disinfect places where contagion lurked. It was not by using the high power of thought, but by processes deemed by him to be effectual, such as sprinkling blood of animals slaughtered in peculiar circumstances. Without declaring for or against his methods, it is very certain that he supposed by these means subtle forces of a physical nature would be liberated and brought to bear on the case in hand.
The mass of testimony through the ages is against healing physical ills by the use of the higher forces in nature, and the reason, once well known but later on forgotten, is the one given in the article of January, 1892, — that diseases are gross manifestations showing themselves on their way out of the nature so that one may be purified. To arrest them through thought ignorantly directed is to throw them back into their cause and replant them in their mental plane.
This is the true ground of our objection to metaphysical healing-practises, which we distinguish from the assumptions and so-called philosophy on which those methods are claimed to stand. For we distinctly urge that the effects are not brought about by any philosophical system whatever, but by the practical though ignorant use of psycho-physiological processes.
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