George W 1856-1940 Jacoby.

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CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURES 241

to the grave of the saint as she prayed aloud. A
blind deaf-mute named Amagildus also tested the
sleep in the Church of St. Julian in Brioude, but it
seems the saint was not always pliant to the wishes
of the sick. Amagildus did not have to spend
eighteen years in the basilica, but he did have to
sleep an entire year in the colonnade of the church
ere the curative power of the martyr freed him from
his sufferings.

Veranus, the slave of a priest, had so severe an
attack of gout that for a whole year he was deprived
of all power of motion. His master then vowed to
consecrate him to the sacerdotal order provided
St. Martin would heal him. The sick man was
carried into the church and laid at the feet of the
statue of the saint. For five full days there was no
change in the condition of the sufferer. On the
sixth day a man appeared to the slave and stretched
his leg. Frightened, he jumped up, when lo! he
was cured. And for many a year he served St.
Martin as priest.

A most noteworthy cure was effected for the
German Emperor, Henry the Second (1002-1024),
called the saint. He was suffering greatly from •
vesical calculi, and for that reason took refuge in



242 PSYCHOTHERAPY

the Italian monastery, Monte Cassino, which then
stood in marked medical renown. The monks of
Monte Cassino, who usually were most expert in
such cases, seem to have had no confidence, how-
ever, in their medical ability when the emperor
came to them as a patient, for they withheld from
him all mundane medicine and relegated him to
the cure of heaven — more especially to the healing
power of St. Benedict. This saint visited the sick
man when he was asleep in the monastery, per-
formed the operation, and departed after having
placed in the patient's hand the stone which he
had removed from the bladder. Certainly this
visit of the saint was more in keeping with the
dignity of the patient than if the operation had been
left to mere mortal hands, even if they were those of
pious and learned monks.

Alpinus, Count of Tours, suffered for years from
an affection of the foot, so all joy in life was gone
and he remained bedridden, sleepless and unable
to eat. Repeatedly he had implored St. Martin to
heal him, but in vain. Finally, however, the Count
sank into a deep sleep during which St. Martin
came to him and made the sign of the cross over
the affected foot. At once all pain disappeaxed.



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 243

Alpinus was restored to health and able to leave his
couch.

On another occasion St. Martin of Tours ap-
peared to a woman who was deprived of the use of
her hands as a result of contraction of the fingers.
These the saint extended forcibly so as to tear
the contractured tendons. During this operation,
strange to say, the saint was clad in purple.

Distinct specialistic tendencies and qualifications
were attributed to certain saints. St. Anna, for
instance, practised opthalmology; St. Judas was
adept in the treatment of coughs; St. Valentine ex-
celled in treating falling sickness (epilepsy), and St.
Catherine of Sienna in treating the plague. Not
even the cattle were neglected, for St. Roch of
Montpellier was distinguished especially on account
of his veterinary activities.

Various means were used for obtaining the aid
of one or the other of these saints. The most
simple, probably, was to attend mass in a local
church and to offer a sacrifice to the saint. Less
easy was a pilgrimage to the shrine of this or that
saint of medical renown. Such a pilgrimage was
undertaken usually on the birthday of the saindy
physician, for the saint on that day seemed to be



244 PSYCHOTHERAPY

specially disposed for the practice of medicine.
At any rate, the Chronicles report that on those
days the most difficult cases were successfully man-
aged in large numbers. As we have seen, the
saints often exhibited no haste to exercise their
medical dexterity, occasionally permitting patients
to await their help for years. For that reason the
church inaugurated the following very practical
and valuable plan. Adjoining the church spacious
accommodations were installed for the reception
of patients. There those in search of health could
obtain food and shelter and peacefully await the
intervention of divine help. This arrangement
was of especial value for the many patients who
retained their health only so long as they remained
close to the saint but had relapses as soon as they
returned to their homes.

On the whole, the church sleep, together with
the prolonged sojourn in the church shelters, which
often were like hospitals, was rather inconvenient,
especially because of the difficulties and dangers
incident to all distance travel in the Middle Ages.
It became necessary, therefore, to conceive a method
by which the medical aid of the saints could be
brought within the reach of the afflicted at all times.



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 245

Relic worship was the method chosen. The
bodies of martyrs who had given up their lives for
Christianity or of saints especially distinguished
for their piety were believed to be endowed with
special miraculous power. Furthermore, it was be-
lieved that power had been transmitted by the
earthly remains of martyr and saint to all objects
with which they had been associated during life.
These objects or relics in turn were able to exercise
similar miraculous power over any other object
brought into contact with them. It was easy to send
such objects all over the world and thereby make
the original relic indirecdy accessible even to those
invalids who were unable to undertake a long
pilgrimage.

Special healing virtues, for instance, were ascribed
to the w^ater with which the tombs of the saints
were cleansed at Easter; any sick person washed
with such liquid soon would recover, it was be-
lieved. A certain Countess Eborin was so ill that
she was convinced her last hour had come. She
was transported to the church of St. Martin at
Tours and there was washed thoroughly with
water dirtied from being used on the saint's tomb.
The expectation of cure did not fail to produce



246 PSYCHOTHERAPY

its effect, for the Countess was well from that
moment.

It seems, however, that the medical achievements
of the saints did not gain the confidence of the laity
nor of the priests to such an extent that the pro-
fessional doctor was renounced entirely. Even St.
Gregory of Tours, whose writings contain an end-
less fund of knowledge regarding the miraculous
cures achieved by the saints, sought help, when he
became sick, through remedies administered by a
terrestrial physician in conjunction with the divine
remedies. Generally, however, in order not to
w^eaken the wide faith in miracles, and also, per-
haps, to prevent curtailment of the church's mon-
etary revenues, the priests were studiedly cautious
to ascribe all recoveries of the sick directly or in-
directly to the saints as intermediaries of the
Almighty, even when the cures were due to natural
causes.

In all these examples from mediaeval times, to
which could be added numberless instances from
the present, it may be seen without difficulty that
the problem involved was one of functional dis-
order, which faded away under the influence of the
power of the imagination, represented by a belief



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 247

in miracles; or, admitting some of the cases to have
been of an organic nature, that the happy results
were achieved by natural medical or surgical means
associated with dexterous trickery, possibly with the
best of intentions, through which the patient was
kept in ignorance of the true character of the help
which he received. There can be no doubt many
Christian priests of the ^Middle Ages, as well as
their colleagues in the Greek temples, did not dis-
dain to employ such conscious deceptions, for it is
certain they were by no means ignorant of the
natural causes of disease and of the processes
of recovery. Let us not forget that, during the
Middle Ages, the Christian monasteries not only
were the disseminators of humane culture, but
also gave protection and encouragement of the
highest order especially to medicine. It may even
be said without exaggeration that, at certain periods
of the Middle Ages, Christian monasteries bore the
same relation to progress in medicine as later did
the universities. Not only did the Christian monks
foster nursing and medical treatment of the sick,
but they also devoted much time to the scientific
study of medicine; and, what is more important,
they were thoroughly conversant with the medical



248 PSYCHOTHERAPY

classicists of antiquity, Hippocrates, Galen and
others, who had demonstrated convincingly the irrel-
evancy of supernatural occurrences to the causa-
tion, and of the temple sleep to the cure of disease.
All medical culture, in short, was confined during
that period to the monasteries, which furnished a
far larger proportion of members of the medical
profession than did the laity.

In that condition of affairs it might have been
expected the monks and secular priests would use
their medical knowledge to combat the abuses
which were perpetrated by the use of the bones
and the names of saints. But, neither during the
Middle Ages nor subsequently, did they volunteer
to correct those abuses. Subordinating their better
knowledge and moral sense, they not only failed to
instruct the people correctly, but in countless in-
stances allowed patients to believe cures had been
wrought by this or that saint although, as a matter
of fact, it was the monks themselves who brought
about the altered state of health.

We must not, however, disregard the fact that
the mediaeval monks and priests were quite as much
a product of their times as we modern people are
the product of ours. The INIiddle Ages having



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 249

been the period of miracles, demons, and witches,
the clinicians of those times naturally had a differ-
ent conception of miracle and demon belief than
we. Through their devout and fervent faith in
the omnipotence of God, the Christians of those
times became convinced He could and did at all
times manifest His omnipotence by altering the
course of natural processes and terrestrial happen-
ings. Alterations of nature manifestations, there-
fore, did not impress the mediaeval Christians as
being miracles, for, as they comprehended it, one
and the same phenomenon of nature could occur in
one way to-day, and in another way to-morrow, in
accordance with God's pleasure. To them it was
quite as incomprehensible that all manifestations
of nature should be dependent on inalterable laws,
uncontrolled by any mediation of the supernatural,
as to-day it is inconceivable to us that God could
or would at any moment set aside a law of nature
to benefit one or another of us mortals. For that
reason the priests and laymen of eras rife in the
belief of medical miracles cannot be judged by the
standards which we apply to-day to those who
still believe in the occurrence of medico-scientific
wonders.



250 PSYCHOTHERAPY

Owing to the conditions then prevailing, many a
Christian monk or priest may have vacillated
between the demands of faith and those made upon
him by his medical enlightenment. That the pillars
of the church were not exempt from such frailty is
shown by the case of Gregory of Tours, who, as
previously mentioned, endeavored to cure the ills
of the body not only with remedies supplied by the
grace of God, but also with medicaments of the
professional pharmacy. Certainly in an era char-
acterized by credulity and faith in miracles the
dominant belief in God's interventional powers
made any opposition to belief in them exceedingly
different from what it is to-day. It may well be,
therefore, that many an enlightened monk or
priest, weary of combating the people's thirst for
celestial medicine, sacrificed his scientific convic-
tions to the fantasies of over-wrought faith.

Some consideration, therefore, may be due to
the attitude of monks and priests of the Middle
Ages, but there is not the slightest excuse for
the present day zealots who advocate miracle,
faith, and prayer cures. This is true especially
because medical knowledge, the appreciation of
the natural laws which govern the production and



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 251

cure of disease, has become so complete and exact
that ignorance, which has been so well called the
culture medium of faith, can no longer be pro-
fessed. When it is recalled that Hippocrates, not-
withstanding the comparative deficiency of his
medical knowledge, declared his opposition to the
assumption that God himself, unhampered by
natural laws, regulated all terrestrial manifesta-
tions, how is it possible for any person of intelli-
gence to contend to-day, simply because of our
inability to control many processes of disease,
that there are enigmatical powers which can make
us sick or well, according to wish and will ?

It is comprehensible that people should have
appealed to the "unknown God" for help in all
afflictions of the body at a time when, through
ignorance, they believed themselves at the mercy
of all kinds of unknown powers. But to-day, as
we are able to recognize the origin and foretell the
course of almost every disease and as we have at
our command adequate natural remedies, there
certainly can be no reason for having recourse to
supernatural aid. The truth of that is all the
more evident because our knowledge of pathogen-
esis and therapeutics, as well as of preventive



252 PSYCHOTHERAPY

medicine, is daily increasing and becoming more
trustworthy.

Stress also must be laid on the fact that, in this
century of mechanico-physical conception of the
laws of nature, when all scientific knowledge
quickly becomes assimilated by the mass of the peo-
ple, the question of making concessions to popular
belief is not involved. Popular belief to-day does
not look for the production of miracles. Never-
theless we observe daily, not only among the less
cultured in smaller villages, but also among the
enlightened and usually incredulous people of our
large cities, that Christian Science is winning en-
thusiastic supporters. Can this deplorable fact be
attributed to anything but a misguided religious
sentiment?

Many instructive instances from most recent
times might be adduced to demonstrate the ex-
tremes to which an over-wrought religious feeling,
lacking in the counterpoise which a mechanico-
physical conception of nature gives, may lead.
Typical examples are Mrs. Eddy's Christian Sci-
ence, John Alexander Dowie's Christian General
Church in Zion, and the Emmanuel Movement.

The system of Mrs. Eddy, an absurd jumble



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 253

of undigested scraps of philosophy, of distorted
medical observations and of crass errors of judg-
ment, is based on the belief that disease has no
material basis, but is due entirely to certain states
of mind. This conception, which has been bor-
rowed from a natural philosophy long ago discarded,
makes the employment of physicians and medi-
cines superfluous, the treatment of the sick being
assigned to persons able to teach the patient how
to concentrate his mind upon the spiritual or God-
like principle which dwells within him.

Mrs. Mary Baker Patterson, afterward Mrs.
Eddy, after having had a wondrous vision, which
later " proved to be God-given by healing the lame
and the blind and by raising the dying," verified
her vision because, proceeding in accordance with
it, she said, she had " prevented disease, preserved
and restored health, healed chronic as well as
acute ailments in their severest forms, elongated
shortened limbs, relaxed rigid muscles, restored
decaying bones to a healthy condition, brought
back the lost substances of the lungs and caused
them to resume their proper functions."

Eddyism contains several so-called maxims from
which the student is not allowed to depart. These



254 PSYCHOTHERAPY

fundamental propositions are: God is all in all,
God is Mind, God is good; therefore, as God is
all in all and there is nothing but God, or Mind,
and if God is good, there can be nothing which
is not good. As God is good, He does not wish
His creatures to suffer, and, as suffering is not
dependent on Mind, i. e., God, but on matter,
therefore it can arise only through sin. Only
when matter has gained control of mind through
sin can the suffering of matter be transmitted to
the mind. Cure, therefore, can consist only in
mind regaining sovereignty over matter. This
ascendancy of mind over matter, or re-union with
God, which had been disturbed through sin, can
be re-established through prayer. Then mind, the
only reality, conquers matter, which has no reality,
but exists merely in our imaginations. All our
suffering is at an end when mind has emancipated
itself from the false notion of the reality of matter
and its dependent ills.

These absurd propositions, devoid of the least
semblance of science, are noteworthy in that they
mark the line of contrast between Christian Sci-
ence and other systems of faith and prayer cures.
All the other systems furnish more or less evidence



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 255

of belief in the existence of disease as a punish-
ment for our sins, and as a divine visitation for our
moral elevation, but in Christian Science that con-
ception is entirely absent. The reality of suffering
being in no way recognized, disease can serve no
ethical purpose.

That any person ignorant of the laws of reason-
ing and unburdened by knowledge of the positive
facts should produce matter so confused and un-
related as does Mrs. Eddy in Christian Science
should cause us no astonishment. History shows
that at all times people of all classes have devised
and expounded nonsense of the most intricate kind.
That the view of INIrs. Eddy should have found
support among people of all grades of intelligence
to so great an extent that governing bodies felt
themselves called on to intervene, and this at a
time when the progress of the natural sciences must
have forced some light into even the dullest brain,
is probably the most interesting point in connection
with the entire subject. In a critical review of the
Eddy system, Magnus says the historian really
should be astonished by nothing, for, no matter in
what field he conducts his investigations, he will
again and again find human stupidity and igno-



256 PSYCHOTHERAPY

ranee constituting a power superior to cultural fac-
tors of every kind. A discussion of the details of the
Eddy system at great length will be unnecessary;
only two points are worth special consideration.

First we would note that there is no difference of
moment between the miracle cures of the Middle
Ages and Christian Science. In the former it was
the saints who restored the sick to health, but they
did so not through any superior qualifications of
their own, but through miraculous gifts bestowed
on them directly by God. They were mere inter-
mediaries between the patient and God, through
whose omnipotence was caused sickness or health,
according to His will. Mrs. Eddy, on the contrary,
scorns such intermediation and advises her adhe-
rents to appeal directly to God Himself. In one
way or another it is made to appear that any aid
which comes to a sufferer Is superhuman, super-
natural, even In those instances where it must be
perfectly obvious recovery is certain through en-
tirely natural means.

Secondly, we cannot refrain from reiterating
what Mary Piatt Parmele wisely says, that Chris-
tian Science is neither Christian nor science.
After all we have said, no demonstration is needed



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 257

to prove that it is not a science, and that it and
science have nothing in common. Science is the
recognition and explanation of facts in nature and
history. Since Eddyism disdains to give any con-
sideration to facts, even to those induced from ex-
perience, but bases its doctrines entirely on senti-
ment and fantasy, it proves itself to be the pure
product of an imagination led astray by the mis-
interpreted readings of its originator.

But, some one may say, at least this system must
be recognized as Christian. Certainly not! For
one may be a devout Christian without expecting
God to reverse or annul the order of nature.

If it be assumed God is the Creator and Main-
tainer of all things, it must follow that all physical
and chemical remedies are of His giving. It may
not be inconsistent with the religious sentiment of
the present day to believe that, in certain conditions,
God might interfere with the methodical course of
nature, — that is to say, might perform a miracle, —
but it cannot be consistent with sound religious
sentiment to assume that He would grant such
supernatural aid when we are able to help our-
selves by means of natural remedies. Is it not dis-
respect to the Maker of all if one declines to employ



258 PSYCHOTHERAPY

the remedies at his disposal in order to rely on the
supernatural? There is nothing which to-day
justifies the belief, pardonable in an era of igno-
rance, that the physical welfare of each individual
is guarded day and night by the Creator of all. If
for no other reason, that assumption is refuted by
the fact that in all times humanity has been de-
pendent on itself in its battle against disease and
pestilence and has had to learn how to protect it-
self against such afflictions. Inasmuch as Chris-
tian Science refuses to recognize the self-aid which
natural forces place at our disposal in sickness,
this "science" certainly can lay no valid claim to
the designation " Christian."

The same must be said of John Alexander
Dowie's Christian General Church in Zion. Dowie,
it is true, must be judged from a stand-point differ-
ent from the one applied to Mrs. Eddy. He is in
accord with her only in the complete rejection of
all professional medical treatment, whether by
means of drugs or surgical intervention. But he
and she arrived at this conclusion in entirely differ-
ent ways. A faith pathetic in its artlessness led
him to accept literally all the expressions in the
Old and the New Testament. Because the Book



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AND PRAYER CURE 259

of Exodus, Chapter XV, verse 26, expressly says,
"For I am the Lord that healeth thee," and
because in the Epistle of James, Chapter V, verses
14-16, prayer is recommended as the best cure for
disease, Dowie decides to employ prayer alone in
the treatment of all forms of physical disorder.
Even in surgical cases he supposes prayer to be
more eflBcacious than the surgeon's art. In that
Dowie takes a stand not different from that of the
earliest Christians. Such treatment of disease by
prayer is related closely to the idea that all bodily
sufferings are divine visitations, intended to im-
press man with God's anger. That conception of
pathological processes may w^ell be termed primeval.
How ancient it is is shown by the fact it is met
with among the Egyptians; in Exodus we read
how the Lord visited on Pharaoh and his people
all kinds of afflictions, such as pestilence, black
pox, and death of the first born. This view was
adopted by Christianity and in the Middle Ages
developed extraordinarily in form and dimensions.
Every disease which occurred in epidemic form
then was looked on as a visitation, as a corrective
rod which God wielded over humanity. Peter
Paladin, the pious Bishop of Zealand, assures us



260 PSYCHOTHERAPY

that the " English Sweat," that dreadful pestilence
which devastated Europe five times between 1486
and 1537, was sent by God in anger at the inordi-
nate desire of the people of that time for enjoyment
and personal adornment.

Both Eddyism and Dowieism start from the as-
sumption that disease can be cured only through
re-establishment of community with God by means
of prayer. Both systems seek one end, but Dowie
interprets the Bible text literally, while Mrs. Eddy
combines it with all sorts of fantastic ideas from
Indian philosophy, conceiving the entire physical
world as an error^ as existing merely in our imagi-
nations.

Finally a word about the adherents of the so-
called Emmanuel Movement. A few years ago
the Rev. Dr. Worcester, of Emmanuel Church
in Boston, inaugurated a movement which was
brought to public notice through the daily press
and other periodicals — a movement the thin dis-
guise of which allows the features of Christian
Science to be recognized easily. Still, the position


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Online LibraryGeorge W 1856-1940 JacobySuggestion and psychotherapy → online text (page 13 of 18)