BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
THE THOMAS SMYTH LECTURES FOR 1917-1918
DELIVERED AT THE
COLUMBIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA
OCTOBER 4-10, 1917
IT IS DEDICATED TO
THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND THE FACULTY
OF COLUMBIA THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
IN APPRECIATION OF
THEIR INVITATION TO DELIVER THE LECTURES
AND IN PLEASANT RECOLLECTION OF
THEIR MANY COURTESIES
marked up by Lance George
Greek and Hebrew fonts used in this document can be downloaded at BibleWorks
The Cessation of the Charismata
Patristic and Medieval Marvels
Roman Catholic Miracles
THE CESSATION OF THE CHARISMATA
When our Lord came down to earth He drew heaven with Him. The signs which accompanied His ministry were but the trailing clouds of glory which He brought from heaven, which is His home. The number of the miracles which He wrought may easily be underrated. It has been said that in effect He banished disease and death from Palestine for the three years of His ministry. If this is exaggeration it is pardonable exaggeration. Wherever He went, He brought a blessing:
One hem but of the garment that He wore
Could medicine whole countries of their pain;
One touch of that pale hand could life restore.
We ordinarily greatly underestimate His beneficent activity as He went about, as Luke says, doing good.1
His own divine power by which He began to found His church He continued in the Apostles whom He had chosen to complete this great work. They transmitted it in turn, as part of their own miracle-working and the crowning sign of their divine commission, to others, in the form of what the New Testament calls spiritual gifts2 in the sense of extraordinary capacities produced in the early Christian communities by direct gift of the Holy Spirit.
The number and variety of these spiritual gifts were considerable. Even Paul's enumerations, the fullest of which occurs in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians, can hardly be read as exhaustive scientific catalogues. The name which is commonly applied to them3 is broad enough to embrace what may be called both the ordinary and the specifically extraordinary gifts of the Spirit; both those, that is, which were distinctively gracious, and those which were distinctly miraculous. In fact, in the classical passage which treats of them (I Cor. 12-14) both classes are brought together under this name. The non-miraculous, gracious gifts are, indeed, in this passage given the preference and called "the greatest gifts"; and the search after them is represented as "the more excellent way"; the longing for the highest of them—faith, hope, and love—being the most excellent way of all. Among the miraculous gifts themselves, a like distinction is made in favor of "prophecy" (that is, the gift of exhortation and teaching), and, in general, in favor of those by which the body of Christ is edified.
The diffusion of these miraculous gifts is, perhaps, quite generally underestimated. One of the valuable features of the passage, I Cor. 12-14, consists in the picture given in it of Christian worship in the Apostolic age (14:26 ff.).4 "What is it, then, brethren?" the Apostle asks. "When ye come together, each one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speaketh in a tongue, let it be by two or at the most three, and that in turn; and let one interpret: but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. And let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern. But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let the first keep silence. For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace." This, it is to be observed, was the ordinary church worship at Corinth in the Apostles' day. It is analogous in form to the freedom of our modem prayer-meeting services. What chiefly distinguishes it from them is that those who took part in it might often have a miraculous gift to exercise, "a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation," as well as "a psalm or a teaching." There is no reason to believe that the infant congregation at Corinth was singular in this. The Apostle does not write as if he were describing a marvellous state of affairs peculiar to that church. He even makes the transition to the next item of his advice in the significant words, "as in all the churches of the saints." And the hints in the rest of his letters and in the Book of Acts require us, accordingly, to look upon this beautiful picture of Christian worship as one which would be true to life for any of the numerous congregations planted by the Apostles in the length and breadth of the world visited and preached to by them.
The argument may be extended to those items of the fuller list, given in I Cor. 12, which found less occasion for their exhibition in the formal meetings for worship, but belonged more to life outside the meeting-room. That enumeration includes among the extraordinary items, you will remember, gifts of healings, workings of miracles, prophecy, discernings of spirits, kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues—all of which, appropriate to the worshipping assembly, are repeated in I Cor. 14:26 ff. We are justified in considering it characteristic of the Apostolic churches that such miraculous gifts should be displayed in them. The exception would be, not a church with, but a church without, such gifts. Everywhere, the Apostolic Church was marked out as itself a gift from God, by showing forth the possession of the Spirit in appropriate works of the Spirit—miracles of healing and miracles of power, miracles of knowledge, whether in the form of prophecy or of the discerning of spirits, miracles of speech, whether of the gift of tongues or of their interpretation. The Apostolic Church was characteristically a miracle-working church.5
How long did this state of things continue? It was the characterizing peculiarity of specifically the Apostolic Church, and it belonged therefore exclusively to the Apostolic age—although no doubt this designation may be taken with some latitude. These gifts were not the possession of the primitive Christian as such;6 nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church, and they necessarily passed away with it.7 Of this we may make sure on the ground both of principle and of fact; that is to say both under the guidance of the New Testament teaching as to their origin and nature, and on the credit of the testimony of later ages as to their cessation. But I shall not stop at this point to adduce the proof of this. It will be sufficiently intimated in the criticism which I purpose to make of certain opposing opinions which have been current among students of the subject. My design is to state and examine the chief views which have been held favorable to the continuance of the charismata beyond the Apostolic age. In the process of this examination occasion will offer for noting whatever is needful to convince us that the possession of the charismata was confined to the Apostolic age.
The theologians of the post-Reformation era, a very clear-headed body of men, taught with great distinctness that the charismata ceased with the Apostolic age. But this teaching gradually gave way, pretty generally throughout the Protestant churches, but especially in England, to the view that they continued for a while in the post-Apostolic period, and only slowly died out like a light fading by increasing distance from its source.8 The period most commonly set for their continuance is three centuries; the date of their cessation is ordinarily said to have been about the time of Constantine. This, as early as the opening of the eighteenth century, had become the leading opinion, at least among theologians of the Anglican school, as Conyers Middleton, writing in the middle of that century, advises us. "The most prevailing opinion," he says in his Introductory Discourse to a famous book to be more fully described by and by, "is that they subsisted through the first three centuries, and then ceased in the beginning of the fourth, or as soon as Christianity came to be established by the civil power. This, I say, seems to be the most prevailing notion at this day among the generality of the Protestants, who think it reasonable to imagine that miracles should then cease, when the end of them was obtained and the church no longer in want of them; being now delivered from all danger, and secure of success, under the protection of the greatest power on earth."9
Middleton supports this statement with instances which bring out so clearly the essential elements of the opinion that they may profitably be quoted here. Archbishop John Tillotson represents "that on the first planting of the Christian religion in the world, God was pleased to accompany it with a miraculous power; but after it was planted, that power ceased, and God left it to be maintained by ordinary ways." So, Nathaniel Marshall wrote, "that there are successive evidences of them, which speak full and home to this point, from the beginning down to the age of Constantine, in whose time, when Christianity had acquired the support of human powers, those extraordinary assistances were discontinued." Others, sharing the same general point of view, would postpone a little the date of entire cessation. Thus the elder Henry Dodwell supposes true miracles to have generally ceased with the conversion of the Roman Empire, yet admits some special miracles, which seem to him to be exceptionally well attested, up to the close of the fourth century. Daniel Waterland, in the body of his treatise on the Trinity, speaks of miracles as continuing through the first three centuries at least, and in the Addenda extends this through the fourth. John Chapman's mode of statement is "that though the establishment of Christianity by the civil power abated the necessity of miracles, and occasioned a visible decrease of them, yet, after that revolution, there were instances of them still, as public, as clear, as well-attested as any in the earlier ages." He extends these instances not only through the fourth century but also through the fifth—which, he says, "had also its portion, though smaller than the fourth." William Whiston, looking upon the charismata less as the divine means of extending the church than as the signs of the divine favor on the church in its pure beginnings, sets the date of their cessation at A. D. 381, which marks the triumph of Athanasianism; that being to him, as an Arian, the final victory of error in the church—which naturally put a stop to such manifestations of God's favor. It is a similar idea from his own point of view which is given expression by John Wesley in one of his not always consistent declarations on the subject. He supposes that miracles stopped when the empire became Christian, because then, "a general corruption both of faith and morals infected the church—which by that revolution, as St. Jerome says, lost as much of its virtue as it had gained of wealth and power."10 These slight extensions of the time during which the miracles are supposed to persist, do not essentially alter the general view, though they have their significance—a very important significance which Middleton was not slow to perceive, and to which we shall revert later.
The general view itself has lost none of its popularity with the lapse of time. It became more, rather than less, wide-spread with the passage of the eighteenth into the nineteenth century, and it remains very usual still. I need not occupy your time with the citation of numerous more recent expressions of it. It may suffice to adduce so popular a historian as Gerhard Uhlhorn who, in his useful book on The Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism11 declares explicitly that "witnesses who are above suspicion leave no room for doubt that the miraculous powers of the Apostolic age continued to operate at least into the third century." A somewhat special turn is given to the same general idea by another historian of the highest standing—Bishop Mandel Creighton. "The Apostles," he tells us12 "were endowed with extraordinary powers, necessary for the establishment of the church, but not necessary for its permanent maintenance. These powers were exercised for healing the sick and for conveying special gifts of the Holy Spirit; sometimes, but rarely, they were used for punishment. . . . These special powers were committed to the church as a means of teaching it the abiding presence of God. They were withdrawn when they had served their purpose of indicating the duties to be permanently performed. To 'gifts of tongues' succeeded orderly human teaching; to 'gifts of healing' succeeded healing by educated human skill; to supernatural punishment succeeded discipline by orderly human agency."
This, then, is the theory: that, miracles having been given for the purpose of founding the church, they continued so long as they were needed for that purpose; growing gradually fewer as they were less needed, and ceasing altogether when the church having, so to speak, been firmly put upon its feet, was able to stand on its own legs. There is much that is attractive in this theory and much that is plausible: so much that is both attractive and plausible that it has won the suffrages of these historians and scholars though it contradicts the whole drift of the evidence of the facts, and the entire weight of probability as well. For it is only simple truth to say that both the ascertained facts and the precedent presumptions array themselves in opposition to this construction of the history of the charismata in the church.
The facts are not in accordance with it. The view requires us to believe that the rich manifestations of spiritual gifts present in the Apostolic Church, gradually grew less through the succeeding centuries until they finally dwindled away by the end of the third century or a little later. Whereas the direct evidence for miracle-working in the church is actually of precisely the contrary tenor. There is little or no evidence at all for miracle-working during the first fifty years of the post-Apostolic church; it is slight and unimportant for the next fifty years; it grows more abundant during the next century (the third); and it becomes abundant and precise only in the fourth century, to increase still further in the fifth and beyond. Thus, if the evidence is worth anything at all, instead of a regularly progressing decrease, there was a steadily growing increase of miracle-working from the beginning on. This is doubtless the meaning of the inability of certain of the scholars whom we have quoted, after having allowed that the Apostolic miracles continued through the first three centuries, to stop there; there is a much greater abundance and precision of evidence, such as it is, for miracles in the fourth and the succeeding centuries, than for the preceding ones.
The matter is of sufficient interest to warrant the statement of the facts as to the evidence somewhat more in detail. The writings of the so-called Apostolic Fathers contain no clear and certain allusions to miracle-working or to the exercise of the charismatic gifts, contemporaneously with themselves.13 These writers inculcate the elements of Christian living in a spirit so simple and sober as to be worthy of their place as the immediate followers of the Apostles. Their anxiety with reference to themselves seems to be lest they should be esteemed overmuch and confounded in their pretensions with the Apostles, rather than to press claims to station, dignity, or powers similar to theirs.14 So characteristic is this sobriety of attitude of their age, that the occurrence of accounts of miracles in the letter of the church of Smyrna narrating the story of the martyrdom of Polycarp is a recognized difficulty in the way of admitting the genuineness of that letter.15 Polycarp was martyred in 155 A. D. Already by that date, we meet with the beginnings of general assertions of the presence of miraculous powers in the church. These occur in some passages of the writings of Justin Martyr. The exact nature of Justin's testimony is summed up by Bishop John Kaye as follows:16 "Living so nearly as Justin did to the Apostolic age, it will naturally be asked whether, among other causes of the diffusion of Christianity, he specifies the exercise of miraculous powers by the Christians. He says in general terms that such powers subsisted in the church (Dial., pp. 254 ff.)—that Christians were endowed with the gift of prophecy (Dial., p. 308 B, see also p. 315 B)—and in an enumeration of supernatural gifts conferred on Christians, he mentions that of healing (Dial., p. 258 A). We have seen also, in a former chapter, that he ascribes to Christians the power of exorcising demons (chap. VIII). But he produces no particular instance of an exercise of miraculous power, and therefore affords us no opportunity of applying those tests by which the credibility of miracles must be tried." And then the bishop adds, by way of quickening our sense of the meaning of these facts: "Had it only been generally stated by the Evangelists that Christ performed miracles, and had no particular miracle been recorded, how much less satisfactory would the Gospel narratives have appeared! how greatly their evidence in support of our Saviour's divine mission been diminished!"
This beginning of testimony is followed up to precisely the same effect by Irenæus, except that Irenæus speaks somewhat more explicitly, and adds a mention of two new classes of miracles—those of speaking with tongues and of raising the dead, to both of which varieties he is the sole witness during these centuries, and of the latter of which at least he manages so to speak as to suggest that he is not testifying to anything he had himself witnessed.17 Irenæus's contemporary, indeed, Theophilus of Antioch, while, like Irenæus, speaking of the exorcism of demons as a standing Christian miracle, when challenged by Autolycus to produce but one dead man who had been raised to life, discovers by his reply that there was none to produce; and "no instance of this miracle was ever produced in the first three centuries."18 For the rest, we say, Irenæus's witness is wholly similar to Justin's. He speaks altogether generally, adducing no specific cases, but ascribing miracle-working to ''all who were truly disciples of Jesus," each according to the gift he had received, and enumerating especially gifts of exorcism, prediction, healing, raising the dead, speaking with tongues, insight into secrets, and expounding the Scriptures (Cont. Hær., II, lvi, lvii; V, vi).19 Tertullian in like manner speaks of exorcisms, and adduces one case of a prophetically gifted woman (Apol., xxviii; De Anima, ix); and Minucius Felix speaks of exorcism (Oct., xxvi)20 Origen professes to have been an eye-witness of many instances of exorcism, healing, and prophecy, although he refuses to record the details lest he should rouse the laughter of the unbeliever (Cont. Cels., I, ii; III, xxiv; VII, iv, lxvii). Cyprian speaks of gifts of visions and exorcisms. And so we pass on to the fourth century in an ever-increasing stream, but without a single writer having claimed himself to have wrought a miracle of any kind or having ascribed miracle-working to any known name in the church, and without a single instance having been recorded in detail. The contrast of this with the testimony of the fourth century is very great. There we have the greatest writers recording instances witnessed by themselves with the greatest circumstantiality. The miracles of the first three centuries, however, if accepted at all, must be accepted on the general assertion that such things occurred—a general assertion which itself is wholly lacking until the middle of the second century and which, when it does appear, concerns chiefly prophecy and healings, including especially exorcisms,21 which we can scarcely be wrong in supposing precisely the classes of marvels with respect to which excitement most easily blinds the judgment and insufficiently grounded rumors most readily grow up.22
We are no doubt startled to find Irenæus, in the midst of delivering what is apparently merely a conventional testimony to the occurrence of these minor things, suddenly adding his witness to the occurrence also of the tremendous miracle of raising the dead. The importance of this phenomenon may be thought to require that we should give a little closer scrutiny to it, and this the more because of the mocking comment which Gibbon has founded on it. "But the miraculous cure of diseases of the most inveterate or even preternatural kind," says he,23 "can no longer occasion any surprise when we recollect that in the days of Irenæus, about the end of the second century, the resurrection of the dead was very far from being esteemed an uncommon event; that the miracle was frequently performed on necessary occasions, by great fasting and the joint supplication of the church of the place; and that the persons thus restored by their prayers had lived afterward among them many years. At such a period, when faith could boast of so many wonderful victories over death, it seems difficult to account for the scepticism of those philosophers who still rejected and derided the doctrine of the resurrection. A noble Grecian had rested on this important ground the whole controversy, and promised Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, that, if he could be gratified by the sight of a single person who had been actually raised from the dead, he would immediately embrace the Christian religion. It is somewhat remarkable that the prelate of the first Eastern church, however anxious for the conversion of his friend, thought proper to decline this fair and reasonable challenge."
The true character of Gibbon's satirical remarks is already apparent from the circumstances to which we have already alluded, that Irenæus alone of all the writers of this period speaks of raisings of the dead at all, and that he speaks of them after a fashion which suggests that he has in mind not contemporary but past instances—doubtless those recorded in the narratives of the New Testament.24 Eusebius does no doubt narrate what he calls "a wonderful story," told by Papias on the authority of the daughters of Philip, whom Papias knew. "For," says Eusebius, "he relates that in his time," that is to say in Philip's time, "one rose from the dead."25 This resuscitation, however, it will be observed, belongs to the Apostolic, not the post-Apostolic times, and it is so spoken of as to suggest that it was thought very wonderful both by Eusebius and by Papias. It is very clear that Eusebius was not familiar with raisings from the dead in his own day, and also that Papias was not familiar with them in his day;26 and it is equally clear that Eusebius did not know of numerous instances of such a transaction having been recorded as occurring in the course of the early history of the church, which history he was in the act of transcribing.27 One would think that this would carry with it the implication that Eusebius did not understand Irenæus to assert their frequent, or even occasional, or even singular, occurrence in his time. Nevertheless when he comes to cite Irenæus's witness to the continuance "to his time in some of the churches"—so he cautiously expresses himself—"of manifestations of divine and miraculous power," he quotes his words here after a fashion which seems to imply that he understood him to testify to the occurrence in his own time of raisings from the dead.28
It is an understatement to say that Irenæus's contemporaries were unaware that the dead were being raised in their day. What they say amounts to testimony that they were not being raised. This is true not only of the manner in which Theophilus of Antioch parries the demands of Autolycus,29 but equally of the manner in which Tertullian reverts to the matter. He is engaged specifically in contrasting the Apostles with their "companions," that is, their immediate successors in the church, with a view to rebuking the deference which was being paid to the Shepherd of Hermas. Among the contrasts which obtained between them, he says that the Apostles possessed spiritual powers peculiar to themselves, that is to say, not shared by their successors. He illustrates this, among other things, by declaring, "For they raised the dead."30 It would be strange indeed if Irenæus has nevertheless represented raisings from the dead to have been a common occurrence precisely in the church of Theophilus and Tertullian.
A scrutiny of his language makes it plain enough that he has not done so. In the passages cited31 Irenæus is contrasting the miracles performed by Christians with the poor magical wonders to which alone the heretics he is engaged in refuting can appeal. In doing this he has in mind the whole miraculous attestation of Christianity, and not merely the particular miracles which could be witnessed in his own day. If we will read him carefully we shall observe that, as he runs along in his enumeration of the Christian marvels, "there is a sudden and unexpected change of tense when he begins to speak of this greatest of miracles"—raising from the dead. "Healing, exorcism, and prophecy—these he asserts are matters of present experience; but he never says that of resurrection from the dead. 'It often happened,' i.e., in the past; 'they were raised up,' i.e., again at some time gone by. The use of the past tense here, and here alone, implies, we may say, that Irenæus had not witnessed an example with his own eyes, or at least that such occurrences were not usual when he was writing. So, when he states, 'Even the dead were raised and abode with us many years'—it does not appear that he means anything more than this—that such events happened within living memory." In these last remarks we have been quoting J. H. Bernard, and we find ourselves fully in accord with his conclusion.32 "The inference from the whole passage," says he, "is, we believe, that these major miracles no longer happened—an inference which is corroborated by all the testimony we have got."
When we come to think of it, it is rather surprising that the Christians had no raisings from the dead to point to through all these years. The fact is striking testimony to the marked sobriety of their spirit. The heathen had them in plenty.33 In an age so innocent of real medical knowledge, and filled to the brim and overflowing with superstition, apparent death and resuscitation were frequent, and they played a role of importance in the Greek prophet and philosopher legends of the time.34 A famous instance occurs in Philostratus's Life of Apollonius of Tyana, which, from a certain resemblance between it and the narrative of the raising of the widow of Nain's son, used to be thought an imitation of that passage.35 Things are better understood now, and it is universally recognized that we have in this beautiful story neither an imitation of the New Testament nor a polemic against it, but a simple product of the aretalogy of the day. Otto Weinreich has brought together the cases of raising from the dead which occur in this literature, in the first excursus to his treatise on Ancient Miracles of Healing.36 He thus enables us to observe at a glance the large place they take in it. It is noticeable that they were not esteemed a very great thing. In the instance just alluded to, the introduction of a resuscitation into Philostratus's Life of Apollonius is accompanied by an intimation that it may possibly be susceptible of a natural explanation. Philostratus does not desire to make the glory of his hero depend on a thing which even a common magician could do, but rather rests it on those greater miracles which intimate the divine nature of the man.37
You probably would like to have the account which Philostratus gives of this miracle before you. "Here too," he writes,38 "is a miracle which Apollonius worked: A girl had died just in the hour of her marriage, and the bride-groom was following her bier lamenting, as was natural, his marriage left unfulfilled; and the whole of Rome was mourning with him, for the maiden belonged to a consular family. Apollonius, then, witnessing their grief, said: 'Put down the bier, for I will stay the tears that you are shedding for this maiden.' And withal he asked what was her name. The crowd accordingly thought he was about to deliver such an oration as is commonly delivered as much to grace the funeral as to stir up lamentation; but he did nothing of the kind, but merely touching her and whispering in secret some spell over her, at once woke up the maiden from her seeming death; and the girl spoke out loud and returned to her father's house; just as Alkestis did when she was brought back to life by Herakles. And the relations of the maiden wanted to present him with one hundred and fifty thousand sesterces, but he said that he would freely present the money to the young lady by way of a dowry. Now, whether he detected some spark of life in her, which those who were nursing her had not discovered—for it is said that, although it was raining at the time, a vapor went up from her face—or whether life was really extinct, and he restored it by the warmth of his touch, is a mysterious problem which neither I myself nor those who were present could decide."
We are naturally led at this point to introduce a further remark which has its importance for the understanding of the facts of the testimony. All that has been heretofore said concerns the church writers, properly so-called, the literary remains of the church considered as the body of right-believing Christians. Alongside of this literature, however, there existed a flourishing growth of apocryphal writings—Acts of Apostles and the like—springing up in the fertile soil of Ebionitish and Gnostic heresy, the most respectable example of which is furnished by the Clementina. In these anonymous, or more usually pseudonymous, writings, there is no dearth of miraculous story, from whatever age they come. Later, these wild and miracle-laden documents were taken over into the Catholic church, usually after a certain amount of reworking by which they were cleansed to a greater or less—usually less—extent of their heresies, but not in the least bit of their apocryphal miracle-stories. Indeed, by the relative elimination of their heresies in the Catholic reworking, their teratologia—as the pedants call their miracle-mongering—was made even more the prominent feature of these documents, and more exclusively the sole purpose of their narrative.39 It is from these apocryphal miracle-stories and not from the miracles of the New Testament, that the luxuriant growth of the miraculous stories of later ecclesiastical writings draw their descent. And this is as much as to say that their ultimate parentage must be traced to those heathen wonder-tales to which we have just had occasion to allude.
For the literary form exemplified in the Wanderings of the Apostles was not an innovation of the Christian heretics, but had already enjoyed a vast popularity in the heathen romances which swarmed under the empire, and the best known names of which are Antonius Diogenes's Incredible Tales of Beyond Thule, Jamblicus's Babylonian Tales, the Ephesian Stories of the later Xenophon, the Ethiopians of Heliodorus, the romances of Achiles Tatius and of Chariton, not to mention the Metamorphoses of Apuleius.40 R. Reitzenstein no doubt insists that we shall draw into a somewhat narrower category and no longer speak of these wonder-tales with which we have here especially to do, broadly, as romances. He wishes to retain that term to describe a highly artistic literary form which, developing out of the historical monograph, was strictly governed by technical laws of composition derived ultimately from the drama. With the romance in this narrow sense, the collections of marvellous stories loosely strung together in the wonder-tales have but a distant relationship. We must not confuse, Reitzenstein counsels us, two kinds of fiction, which were sharply distinguished in ancient æsthetics, πλάσμα and ψεῦδος,41 or mix up two literary forms which were quite distinct in their whole technic and style—merely because they were born together and grew up side by side. The romance plays on every string of human emotion; the wonder-tale—aretalogy is the name which Reitzenstein gives to this literary form—strikes but one note, and has as its single end to arouse astonishment.42 It represented in the ancient world, though in an immensely more serious vein, our modern Gulliver's Travels or Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which in fact are parodies of it, like their inimitable forerunners with which Lucian has delighted the centuries. It will be readily understood that the wonder-tale—the motives of the travelling prophet or philosopher having been fairly worked out—should eagerly seize on the new material offered it by Christianity. But as Von Dobschütz remarks,43 the matter did not end by its seizing on Christianity. Christianity turned the tables on it and seized on it, and produced out of it the mission aretalogy which we know in general as the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles.
With its passage thus into Christian hands this literary form lost none of its marvel-mongery—to have lost which would have been to have lost its soul. "'Teratology,' 'marvellousness,'" explains Von Dobschütz,44 "is the fundamental element of these Christian romances also. This is made very clear," he goes on to say, "by the circumstance that it is regularly magic of which the Apostles are represented as being accused. Of course they do not admit that the accusation is just. Magical arts are demonic arts, and it was precisely every kind of demonic power against which they set themselves in the almighty name of Jesus Christ. It is most impressively shown that to this name every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth is to bow. We cannot help seeing, however, that only another form of magic, a Christian magic, steps here into the place of the heathen. The name of Jesus serves as the all-powerful spell, the cross as the irresistible charm, by which bolts can be sprung, doors opened, idols overturned, poison rendered harmless, the sick healed, the dead raised. The demonic flight of the magician is confounded by the prayer of the Apostles; they are none the less themselves carried home on the clouds, through the air." Something new entered Christianity in these wonder-tales; something unknown to the Christianity of the Apostles, unknown to the Apostolic churches, and unknown to their sober successors; and it entered Christianity from without, not through the door, but climbing up some other way. It brought an abundance of miracle-working with it; and, unfortunately, it brought it to stay. But from a contemplation of the swelling flood of marvels thus introduced into Christianity, obviously, the theory of the gradual cessation of miracle-working in the church through three centuries, which we are now examining, can derive no support.45
It may be justly asked, how it can be accounted for that so large a body of students of history can have committed themselves to a view which so clearly runs in the face of the plainest facts of the very history they are setting themselves to explain. The answer is doubtless to be found in the curious power which preconceived theory has to blind men to facts. The theory which these scholars had been led to adopt as to the cessation of miraculous powers in the church required the course of events which they assume to have happened. They recognized the abundant development of miraculous gifts in the Apostolic Church, and they argued that this wide-spread endowment could scarcely fail suddenly, but must have died out gradually. In estimating the length of time through which the miracle-working might justly be supposed to subsist, and at the end of which it might naturally be expected to have died out, they were unfortunately determined by a theory of the function of these miracles in the Apostolic Church which was plausible indeed, and because plausible attractive, but which was not founded on an accurate ascertainment of the teaching of the New Testament on the subject, and therefore so missed the truth that, in its application to the history of the early church, it exactly reversed it. This theory is in brief, I may remind you, that the miraculous powers present in the early church had for their end supernatural assistance in founding the church; that they were therefore needed throughout the period of the church's weak infancy, being in brief, as Fuller calls them, ''the swaddling-clothes of the infant churches"; and that naturally they were withdrawn when their end had been accomplished and Christianity had ascended the throne of the empire. When the protection of the strongest power on earth was secured, the idea seems to be, the power of God was no longer needed.46
But whence can we learn this to have been the end the miracles of the Apostolic age were intended to serve? Certainly not from the New Testament. In it not one word is ever dropped to this effect. Certain of the gifts (as, for example, the gift of tongues) are no doubt spoken of as "signs to those that are without." It is required of all of them that they be exercised for the edification of the church; and a distinction is drawn between them in value, in proportion as they were for edification. But the immediate end for which they were given is not left doubtful, and that proves to be not directly the extension of the church, but the authentication of the Apostles as messengers from God. This does not mean, of course, that only the Apostles appear in the New Testament as working miracles, or that they alone are represented as recipients of the charismata. But it does mean that the charismata belonged, in a true sense, to the Apostles, and constituted one of the signs of an Apostle. Only in the two great initial instances of the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost and the reception of Cornelius are charismata recorded as conferred without the laying on of the hands of Apostles.47 There is no instance on record of their conference by the laying on of the hands of any one else than an Apostle.48 The case of the Samaritans, recorded in the eighth chapter of Acts, is not only a very instructive one in itself, but may even be looked upon as the cardinal instance. The church had been propagated hitherto by the immediately evangelistic work of the Apostles themselves, and it had been accordingly the Apostles themselves who had received the converts into the church. Apparently they had all received the power of working signs by the laying on of the Apostles' hands at their baptism. The Samaritans were the first converts to be gathered into the church by men who were not Apostles; and the signs of the Apostles were accordingly lacking to them until Peter and John were sent down to them that they might "receive the Holy Ghost" (Acts 8:14-17). The effect on Simon Magus of the sight of these gifts springing up on the laying on of the Apostles' hands, we will all remember. The salient statements are very explicit. ''Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost." "Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the Apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given." "Give me also this power, that, on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost." It could not be more emphatically stated that the Holy Ghost was conferred by the laying on of the hands, specifically of the Apostles, and of the Apostles alone; what Simon is said to have seen is precisely that it was through the laying on of the hands of just the Apostles that the Holy Ghost was given. And there can be no question that it was specifically the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit that were in discussion; no doubt is thrown upon the genuineness of the conversion of the Samaritans; on the contrary, this is taken as a matter of course, and its assumption underlies the whole narrative; it constitutes in fact the very point of the narrative.
This case of the Samaritans was of great importance in the primitive church, to enable men to distinguish between the gifts of grace and the gifts of power. Without it there would have been danger that only those would be accredited as Christians who possessed extraordinary gifts. It is of equal importance to us, to teach us the source of the gifts of power, in the Apostles, apart from whom they were not conferred: as also their function, to authenticate the Apostles as the authoritative founders of the church. It is in accordance with this reading of the significance of this incident, that Paul, who had all the signs of an Apostle, had also the power of conferring the charismata, and that in the entire New Testament we meet with no instance of the gifts showing themselves—after the initial instances of Pentecost and Cornelius—where an Apostle had not conveyed them. Hermann Cremer is accordingly quite right when he says49 that "the Apostolic charismata bear the same relation to those of the ministry that the Apostolic office does to the pastoral office"; the extraordinary gifts belonged to the extraordinary office and showed themselves only in connection with its activities.50
The connection of the supernatural gifts with the Apostles is so obvious that one wonders that so many students have missed it, and have sought an account of them in some other quarter. The true account has always been recognized, however, by some of the more careful students of the subject. It has been clearly set forth, for example, by Bishop Kaye. "I may be allowed to state the conclusion," he writes,51 "to which I have myself been led by a comparison of the statements in the Book of Acts with the writings of the Fathers of the second century. My conclusion then is, that the power of working miracles was not extended beyond the disciples upon whom the Apostles conferred it by the imposition of their hands. As the number of these disciples gradually diminished, the instances of the exercise of miraculous powers became continually less frequent, and ceased entirely at the death of the last individual on whom the hands of the Apostles had been laid. That event would, in the natural course of things, take place before the middle of the second century—at a time when Christianity, having obtained a footing in all the provinces of the Roman Empire, the miraculous gifts conferred upon the first teachers had performed their appropriate office—that of proving to the world that a new revelation had been given from heaven. What, then, would be the effect produced upon the minds of the great body of Christians by their gradual cessation? Many would not observe, none would be willing to observe, it. . . . They who remarked the cessation of miracles would probably succeed in persuading themselves that it was only temporary and designed by an all-wise Providence to be the prelude to a more abundant effusion of the supernatural powers upon the church. Or if doubts and misgivings crossed their minds, they would still be unwilling to state a fact which might shake the steadfastness of their friends, and would certainly be urged by the enemies of the gospel as an argument against its divine origin. They would pursue the plan which has been pursued by Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Irenæus, etc.; they would have recourse to general assertions of the existence of supernatural powers, without attempting to produce a specific instance of their exercise. . . ." The bishop then proceeds to recapitulate the main points and grounds of this theory.52
Whatever we may think of the specific explanation which Bishop Kaye presents of the language of the second-century Fathers, we can scarcely fail to perceive that the confinement of the supernatural gifts by the Scriptures to those who had them conferred upon them by the Apostles, affords a ready explanation of all the historical facts. It explains the unobserved dying out of these gifts. It even explains—what might at first sight seem inconsistent with it—the failure of allusion to them in the first half of the second century. The great missionary Apostles, Paul and Peter, had passed away by A. D. 68, and apparently only John was left in extreme old age until the last decade of the first century. The number of those upon whom the hands of Apostles had been laid, living still in the second century, cannot have been very large. We know of course of John's pupil Polycarp; we may add perhaps an Ignatius, a Papias, a Clement, possibly a Hermas, or even a Leucius; but at the most there are few of whom we know with any definiteness. That Justin and Irenæus and their contemporaries allude to miracle-working as a thing which had to their knowledge existed in their day, and yet with which they seem to have little exact personal acquaintance, is also explained. Irenæus's youth was spent in the company of pupils of the Apostles; Justin may easily have known of, if not even witnessed, miracles wrought by Apostolically trained men. The fault of these writers need have been no more than a failure to observe, or to acknowledge, the cessation of these miracles during their own time; so that it is not so much the trustworthiness of their testimony as their understanding of the changing times which falls under criticism. If we once lay firm hold upon the biblical principle which governed the distribution of the miraculous gifts, in a word, we find that we have in our hands a key which unlocks all the historical puzzles connected with them.
There is, of course, a deeper principle recognizable here, of which the actual attachment of the charismata of the Apostolic Church to the mission of the Apostles is but an illustration. This deeper principle may be reached by us through the perception, more broadly, of the inseparable connection of miracles with revelation, as its mark and credential; or, more narrowly, of the summing up of all revelation, finally, in Jesus Christ. Miracles do not appear on the page of Scripture vagrantly, here, there, and elsewhere indifferently, without assignable reason. They belong to revelation periods, and appear only when God is speaking to His people through accredited messengers, declaring His gracious purposes. Their abundant display in the Apostolic Church is the mark of the richness of the Apostolic age in revelation; and when this revelation period closed, the period of miracle-working had passed by also, as a mere matter of course. It might, indeed, be a priori conceivable that God should deal with men atomistically, and reveal Himself and His will to each individual, throughout the whole course of history, in the penetralium of his own consciousness. This is the mystic's dream. It has not, however, been God's way. He has chosen rather to deal with the race in its entirety, and to give to this race His complete revelation of Himself in an organic whole. And when this historic process of organic revelation had reached its completeness, and when the whole knowledge of God designed for the saving health of the world had been incorporated into the living body of the world's thought—there remained, of course, no further revelation to be made, and there has been accordingly no further revelation made. God the Holy Spirit has made it His subsequent work, not to introduce new and unneeded revelations into the world, but to diffuse this one complete revelation through the world and to bring mankind into the saving knowledge of it.
As Abraham Kuyper figuratively expresses it,53 it has not been God's way to communicate to each and every man a separate store of divine knowledge of his own, to meet his separate needs; but He rather has spread a common board for all, and invites all to come and partake of the richness of the great feast. He has given to the world one organically complete revelation, adapted to all, sufficient for all, provided for all, and from this one completed revelation He requires each to draw his whole spiritual sustenance. Therefore it is that the miraculous working which is but the sign of God's revealing power, cannot be expected to continue, and in point of fact does not continue, after the revelation of which it is the accompaniment has been completed. It is unreasonable to ask miracles, says John Calvin— or to find them—where there is no new gospel.54 By as much as the one gospel suffices for all lands and all peoples and all times, by so much does the miraculous attestation of that one single gospel suffice for all lands and all times, and no further miracles are to be expected in connection with it. "According to the Scriptures," Herman Bavinck explains,55 "special revelation has been delivered in the form of a historical process, which reaches its endpoint in the person and work of Christ. When Christ had appeared and returned again to heaven, special revelation did not, indeed, come at once to an end. There was yet to follow the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and the extraordinary working of the powers and gifts through and under the guidance of the Apostolate. The Scriptures undoubtedly reckon all this to the sphere of special revelation, and the continuance of this revelation was necessary to give abiding existence in the world to the special revelation which reached its climax in Christ—abiding existence both in the word of Scripture and in the life of the church. Truth and life, prophecy and miracle, word and deed, inspiration and regeneration go hand in hand in the completion of special revelation. But when the revelation of God in Christ had taken place, and had become in Scripture and church a constituent part of the cosmos, then another era began. As before everything was a preparation for Christ, so afterward everything is to be a consequence of Christ. Then Christ was being framed into the Head of His people, now His people are being framed into the Body of Christ. Then the Scriptures were being produced, now they are being applied. New constituent elements of special revelation can no longer be added; for Christ has come, His work has been done, and His word is complete." Had any miracles perchance occurred beyond the Apostolic age they would be without significance; mere occurrences with no universal meaning. What is important is that "the Holy Scriptures teach clearly that the complete revelation of God is given in Christ, and that the Holy Spirit who is poured out on the people of God has come solely in order to glorify Christ and to take of the things of Christ." Because Christ is all in all, and all revelation and redemption alike are summed up in Him, it would be inconceivable that either revelation or its accompanying signs should continue after the completion of that great revelation with its accrediting works, by which Christ has been established in His rightful place as the culmination and climax and all-inclusive summary of the saving revelation of God, the sole and sufficient redeemer of His people.
At this point we might fairly rest. But I cannot deny myself the pleasure of giving you some account in this connection of a famous book on the subject we have been discussing—to which indeed incidental allusion has been made. I refer to Conyers Middleton's A Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian church from the earliest ages through several successive centuries. By which it is shown that we have no sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church, after the days of the Apostles. Middleton was a doughty controversialist, no less admired for his English style, which was reckoned by his contemporaries as second in purity to that of no writer of his day except Addison (though John Wesley more justly found it stiff and pedantic), than feared for the sharpness and persistency of his polemics. He was of a somewhat sceptical temper and perhaps cannot be acquitted of a certain amount of insincerity. We could wish at least that it were clearer that John Wesley's description of him were undeserved, as "aiming every blow, though he seems to look another way, at the fanatics who wrote the Bible."56 In this, his chief theological work, however, Middleton had a subject where scepticism found a proper mark, and he performs his congenial task with distinct ability. His controversial spirit and a certain harshness of tone, while they may detract from the pleasure with which the book is read, do not destroy its value as a solid piece of investigation.
Conscious of the boldness of the views he was about to advocate and foreseeing their unpopularity, Middleton sent forth in 1747 as a sort of preparation for what was to come an Introductory discourse to a larger work designed hereafter to he published, concerning the miraculous powers which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian church from the earliest ages through several successive centuries; tending to show that we have no sufficient reason to believe upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church after the days of the Apostles. With a postscript . . . (London, 1747). In this Discourse he points out the helplessness of the Anglican position in the face of Romish claims. There is no reason for allowing miracles for the first three centuries which is not as good or better for allowing them for the succeeding centuries: and yet the greater portion of the miracles of these later centuries were wrought in support of distinctively Romish teaching, which, it would seem, must be accepted, if their attesting miracles are allowed. Next year (1748) he published Remarks on two Pamphlets . . ., which had appeared in reply to his Introductory Discourse; and at length in December, 1748, he permitted the Free Inquiry itself to see the light, fitted with a preface in which an account is given of the origin of the book, and the position taken up in the Introductory Discourse is pressed more sharply still—that the genuineness of the ecclesiastical miracles being once allowed, no stopping-place can be found until the whole series of alleged miracles down to our own day be admitted. At the end of this preface Middleton's own view as to the cause of the cessation of the spiritual gifts is intimated, and this proves to be only a modification of the current Anglican opinion—that miracles subsisted until the church had been founded in all the chief cities of the empire, which, he held, had been accomplished in the Apostolic times. It is interesting to observe thus that Middleton reached his correct conclusion as to the time of the cessation of these gifts without the help of a right understanding of the true reason of their cessation with the Apostolic age; purely, that is to say, on empirical grounds.
The Free Inquiry itself is a scholarly piece of work for its time, and a competent argument. It is disposed in five parts. The first of these simply draws out from the sources and presents in full the testimony to miraculous working found in the Fathers of the first three centuries. The meagreness and indefiniteness of their witness are left to speak for themselves, with only the help of two closing remarks. The one of these presses the impossibility of believing that the gifts were first withdrawn during the first fifty years of the second century and then restored. The other contrasts the patristic miracles with those of the New Testament, with respect both to their nature and the mode of their working. The second section discusses the persons who worked the ecclesiastical miracles. It is pointed out that no known writer claims to have himself wrought miracles, or names any of his predecessors as having done so. The honor is left to unknown and obscure men, and afterward to the "rotten bones" of saints who while living did no such works. The third section subjects the character of the early Fathers as men of wisdom and trustworthiness to a severe and not always perfectly fair criticism, with a view to lessening the credit that should be given to their testimony in such a matter as the occurrence of miraculous workings in their day. The fourth section then takes up the several kinds of miracles which, it is pretended, were wrought, and seeks to determine from the nature of each, in each instance of its mention, whether its credibility may be reasonably suspected. Finally, in the fifth section, the principal objections which had been raised, or which seemed likely to be raised, to the tenor of the argument are cited and refuted.
The book was received with a storm of criticism, reprobation, even abuse. It was not refuted. Many published careful and searching examinations of its facts and arguments, among others Doctor William Dodwell57 (the younger) and Doctor Thomas Church,58 to whom Middleton replied in a Vindication, published posthumously (1751). After a century and a half the book remains unrefuted, and, indeed, despite the faults arising from the writer's spirit and the limitations inseparable from the state of scholarship in his day, its main contention seems to be put beyond dispute.59
PARTRISTIC AND MEDIÆVAL MARVELS
As over against the effort made more especially by Anglican writers to confine genuine ecclesiastical miracles to the first, and in their view the purest and most authoritative, centuries of Christianity, the Romish theologians boldly declare that God has been pleased in every age to work a multitude of evident miracles in His church. Before this assertion, as we have seen, the Anglican theory is helpless, on the ground whether of fact or of principle. Of fact, because the evidence for the later miracles, which it denies, is very much greater in volume and cogency than that for the earlier miracles, which it accepts. Of principle, because the reason which it gives for the continuance of miracles during the first three centuries, if valid at all, is equally valid for their continuance to the twentieth century. What we shall look upon as the period of the planting of the church is determined by our point of view. If the usefulness of miracles in planting the church were sufficient reason for their occurrence in the Roman Empire in the third century, it is hard to deny that it may be sufficient reason for the repetition of them in, say, the Chinese Empire in the twentieth century. And why go to China? Is not the church still essentially in the position of a missionary church everywhere in this world of unbelief? When we take a really ''long view" of things, is it not at least a debatable question whether the paltry two thousand years which have passed since Christianity came into the world are not a negligible quantity, and the age in which we live is not still the age of the primitive church? We must adjudge, therefore, that the Romish theory is the more consistent and reasonable of the two. If we are to admit that the miracles of the first three centuries happened, slightly and only generally witnessed as they are, we should in all reason go on and admit that the much more numerous and much better attested miracles of the fourth century happened too—and those of the fifth, and of the sixth, and of every subsequent century down to our day.
The force of this reasoning is interestingly illustrated by the conversion by it of Edward Gibbon, in his youth, to Roman Catholicism. Sir James Fitzjames Stephen gives a somewhat caustic account of the circumstances. "At Oxford," he says,1 "'the blind activity of idleness' impelled him to read Middleton's Free Inquiry. Yet he could not bring himself to follow Middleton in his attack on the early Fathers, or to give up the notion that miracles were worked in the early church for at least four or five centuries. 'But I was unable to resist the weight of historical evidence that within the same period most of the leading doctrines of Popery were already introduced in theory and practice; nor was the conclusion absurd that miracles are the test of truth, and that the church must be orthodox and pure which was so often approved by the visible interposition of the Deity.'
"From the miracles affirmed by Basil, Chrysostom, Augustine, and Jerome, he inferred that celibacy was superior to marriage, that saints were to be invoked, prayers for the dead said, and the real presence believed in; and whilst in this frame of mind he fell in with Bossuet's Exposition and his History of the Variations. 'I read,' he says in his affected way, 'I applauded, I believed'; and he adds with truth in reference to Bossuet, 'I surely fell by a noble hand.' 'In my present feelings it seems incredible that I ever should have believed in transubstantiation; but my conqueror oppressed me with the sacramental words, and dashed against each other the figurative half-meanings of the Protestant sects. . . .'
"No one, we will venture to say, has been converted in the nineteenth century by a belief that, as a fact, miracles were worked in the early church, and that, as a consequence, the doctrines professed at the time must be true. As a rule the doctrines have carried the miracles. . . . The fact that the process began at the other end with Gibbon is characteristic both of the man and of the age; but it is put in a still stronger light by the account which he gives of his reconversion. . . . The process from first to last was emphatically an intellectual one. . . . Gibbon himself observes: 'I still remember my solitary transport at the discovery of a philosophical argument against the doctrine of transubstantiation: that the text of Scripture which seems to inculcate the real presence is attested only by a single sense—our sight; while the real presence itself is disproved by three of our senses—the sight, the touch, and the taste.'"
Only a brief account will be necessary of the state of the case for the fourth and later centuries. When we pass from the literature of the first three into that of the fourth and succeeding centuries, we leave at once the region of indefinite and undetailed references to miraculous works said to have occurred somewhere or other—no doubt the references increase in number and definiteness as the years pass—and come into contact with a body of writings simply saturated with marvels. And whereas few writers were to be found in the earlier period who professed to be eyewitnesses of miracles, and none who wrought them were named to us, in the later period everybody appears to have witnessed any number of them, and the workers of them are not only named but prove to be the most famous missionaries and saints of the church. Nor must we imagine that these marvels are recounted only by obscure and otherwise unknown hero-worshippers, whose only claim to be remembered by posterity is that they were the overenthusiastic admirers of the great ascetics of their time. They are rather the outstanding scholars, theologians, preachers, organizers of the age. It is Jerome, the leading biblical scholar of his day, who wrote the distressing lives of Paul, Hilarion, and Malchus; Gregory of Nyssa, one of "the three great Cappadocians," who narrates the fantastic doings of his thaumaturgic namesake;2 the incomparable Athanasius himself, who is responsible for the life of Antony. And not to be left behind, the greatest preacher of the day, Chrysostom; the greatest ecclesiastic, Ambrose; the greatest thinker, Augustine,—all describe for us miraculous occurrences of the most incredible kind as having taken place within their own knowledge. It will be not only interesting but useful for our purpose, as well, if a specimen instance be brought before us of how these great men dealt with miracles.
Augustine no doubt will serve our purpose here as well as another. In the twenty-second book3 of the City of God, he has circumstantially related to us a score or more of miracles which had come under his own observation, and which he represents as only a tithe of those he could relate. A considerable number of these were wrought by the relics of "the most glorious martyr, Stephen." The bones of Stephen had come to light in Jerusalem in 415. Certain portions of them were brought into Africa and everywhere they were taken miracles were wrought. Somewhere about 424 Hippo obtained its fragments and enshrined them in a small chapel opening into the cathedral church, on the archway of which Augustine caused four verses to be cut, exhorting worshippers to ascribe to God all miracles wrought upon Stephen's intercession. Almost seventy miracles wrought at this shrine had been officially recorded in less than two years, while incomparably more, Augustine tells us, had been wrought at the neighboring town of Calama, which had received its relics earlier. "Think, beloved," he cries, in the sermon which he preached on the reception of the relics, "what the Lord must have in store for us in the land of the living, when He bestows so much in the ashes of the dead." Even the dead were raised at these shrines, with great promptness and facility. Here are some of the instances recorded by Augustine with complete confidence.4
"Eucharius, a Spanish priest residing at Calama, was for a long time a sufferer from stone. By the relics of the same martyr (Stephen) which the bishop Possidius brought him, he was cured. Afterward the same priest sinking under another disease, was lying dead, and already they were binding his hands. By the succor of the same martyr he was raised to life, the priest's cloak having been brought from the oratory and laid upon the corpse. . . . Audurus is the name of an estate where there is a church that contains a memorial shrine of the martyr Stephen. It happened that, as a little boy was playing in the court, the oxen drawing a wagon went out of the track and crushed him with the wheel, so that immediately he seemed at his last gasp. His mother snatched him up and laid him at the shrine, and not only did he revive but also appeared uninjured. A religious female who lived at Caspalium, a neighboring estate, when she was so ill as to be despaired of, had her dress brought to this shrine, but before it was brought back she was gone. However, her parents wrapped her corpse in the dress, and, her breath returning, she became quite well. At Hippo, a Syrian called Bassus was praying at the relics of the same martyr for his daughter, who was dangerously ill. He too had brought her dress with him to the shrine. But as he prayed, behold, his servants ran from the house to tell him she was dead. His friends, however, intercepted them and forbade them to tell him, lest he should bewail her in public. And when he returned to his house which was already ringing with the lamentations of his family, and had thrown on his daughter's body the dress he was carrying, she was restored to life. There, too, the son of a man, Irenæus, one of the tax-gatherers, took ill and died. And while his body was lying lifeless, and the last rites were being prepared, amidst the weeping and mourning of all, one of the friends who were consoling the father suggested that the body should be anointed with the oil of the same martyr. It was done and he was revived. Likewise, Eleusinus, a man of tribunitian rank among us, laid his infant son, who had died, on the shrine of the martyr, which is in the suburb where he lived, and, after prayer, which he poured out there with many tears, he took up his child alive."5
Not all the miracles which Augustine includes in this anthology were wrought, however, by the bones of Stephen. Even before these bones had been discovered, miracles of the most astonishing character had occurred within his own personal knowledge. He tells us, for example, of the restoration of a blind man to sight at Milan—"when I was there," he says—by the remains of the martyrs Protasius and Gervasius, discovered to Ambrose in a dream. And he tells us with great circumstantiality of a miraculous cure of fistula wrought in Carthage—"in my presence and under my own eyes," he says—when he and Alypius had just returned from Italy. A special interest attaches to these early instances, because Augustine, although an eyewitness of them, and although he insists on his having been an eye-witness of them as their attestation, does not seem to have recognized their miraculous character until long afterward. For Augustine's hearty belief in contemporary miracles, illustrated by the teeming list now before us, was of slow growth. It was not until some years after his return to Africa that it became easy to him to acknowledge their occurrence. He arrived in Africa in 388, but still in his treatises, On the True Religion, which was written about 390, and On the Usefullness of Believing, written in 391 or 392, we find him speaking on the hypothesis that miracles no longer happened. "We perceive," he writes in the former of these treatises,6 "that our ancestors, by that measure of faith by which the ascent is made from temporal things to eternal, obtained visible miracles (for thus only could they do it); and through them it has been brought about that these should no longer be necessary for their descendants. For when the Catholic Church had been diffused and established through the whole world, these miracles were no longer permitted to continue in our time, lest the mind should always seek visible things, and the human race should be chilled by the customariness of the very things whose novelty had inflamed them." Similarly, in the latter treatise, after enumerating the miracles of our Lord, he asks,7 ''Why do not these things take place now?" and answers, "Because they would not move unless they were wonderful, and if they were customary they would not be wonderful." "Even the marvels of nature, great and wonderful as they are," he continues, "have ceased to surprise and so to move; and God has dealt wisely with us, therefore, in sending his miracles once for all to convince the world, depending afterward on the authority of the multitudes thus convinced."
Subsequently at the close of his life, reviewing these passages in his Retractations, he supposes it enough to say that what he meant was not that no miracles were still wrought in his own day, but only that none were wrought which were as great as those our Lord wrought, and that not all the kinds our Lord wrought continued to be wrought.8 "For," says he,9 "those that are baptized do not now receive the Spirit on the imposition of hands, so as to speak in the tongues of all the peoples; neither are the sick healed by the shadow of the preachers of Christ falling on them as they pass; and other such things as were then done, are now manifestly ceased." What he said, he insists,10 is not to be taken as meaning that no miracles at all were to be believed to be performed still in Christ's name. "For I myself, when I wrote that book "—the book On the True Religion—"already knew that a blind man had been given his sight at Milan, by the bodies of the martyrs in that city; and certain other things which were done at that time in numbers sufficient to prevent our knowing them all or our enumerating all we knew." This explanation seems scarcely adequate; but it suggests that the starting-point of Augustine's belief in contemporary miracles is to be sought in Milan—although it appears that some time was required after he had left Milan for the belief to ripen in his mind.
A sufficiently odd passage in one of his letters—written in 404—seems to illustrate at once the Milanese origin of his miracle-faith and the process of its growth to maturity.11 There had been a scandal in the household; one member of it had accused another of a crime, and Augustine was in doubt which of the two was really at fault. "I fixed upon the following as a means of discovering the truth," he writes. "Both pledged themselves in a solemn compact to go to a holy place, where the awe-inspiring works of God might much more readily make manifest the evil of which either of them was conscious, and compel the guilty to confess, either by judgment or through fear of judgment." God is everywhere, it is true; and able to punish or reward in secret as He will. "But," continues Augustine, "in regard to the answers of prayer which are visible to men, who can search out the reasons for appointing some places rather than others to be the scenes of miraculous interpositions?" The grave of a certain Felix suggested itself to him as a suitable place to send his culprits. True, no supernatural events had ever occurred there. But, he writes, "I myself knew how, at Milan, at the tomb of the saints, where demons are brought in a most marvellous and awful manner to confess their deeds, a thief, who had come thither intending to deceive by perjuring himself, was compelled to own his thefts and restore what he had taken away." "And is not Africa also," he asks, "full of the bodies of holy martyrs?" "Yet we do not know of such things being done here," he confesses. "Even as the gift of healing and the gift of discerning of spirits," he explains, "are not given to all saints, as the Apostle declares; so it is not at all the tombs of the saints that it hath pleased Him who divideth to each severally as He will, to cause such miracles to be wrought." As late as 404, then, there were as yet no miracle-working shrines in Africa. Augustine, however, is busily at work producing them. And twenty years later we see them in full activity.
It was naturally a source of embarrassment to Augustine that the heretics had miracles to appeal to just like his own; and that the heathen had had something very like them from time immemorial. The miracles of the heretics he was inclined to reject out of hand. They never happened, he said. On the other hand, he did not dream of denying the actual occurrence of the heathen miracles. He only strained every nerve to put them in a different class from his own. They stood related to his, he said, as the marvels wrought by Pharaoh's magicians did to Moses' miracles. Meanwhile, there the three sets of miracles stood, side by side, apparently just alike, and to be distinguished only by the doctrines with which they were severally connected. A passage in the thirteenth tractate on John on Donatist miracles (he calls them "miracle-ettes"), is very instructive. This tractate seems to have been delivered subsequently to 416, and therefore represents Augustine's later views. "Let no one tell you fables, then," he cries,12 "saying, 'Pontius wrought a miracle, and Donatus prayed and God answered him from heaven.' In the first place, either they are deceived or they deceive. In the last place, grant that he removes mountains: 'And have not charity,' says the Apostle, 'I am nothing.' Let us see whether he has charity. I would believe that he had, if he had not divided unity. For against those whom I may call marvel-workers, my God has put me on my guard, saying, 'In the last times there shall arise false prophets doing signs and wonders, to lead into error, if it were possible, even the elect. Lo, I have foretold it to you.' Therefore the Bridegroom has cautioned us, that we ought not to be deceived even by miracles." Similarly the heathen and Christian miracles are pitted against one another, and decision between them sought on grounds lying outside the miracles themselves. "Which, then, can more readily be believed to work miracles? They who wish themselves to be reckoned gods by those on whom they work miracles, or those whose sole object in working any miracles is to induce faith in God, or in Christ also as God? . . . Let us therefore believe those who both speak the truth and work miracles."13 It is not the empirical fact which counts—there were all too many empirical facts to count—but the truth lying behind the empirical fact.14
What now are we to think of these miracles which Augustine and his fellows narrate to us in such superabundance?
We should perhaps note at the outset that the marvellous stories do not seem to have met with universal credence when first published. They seem indeed to have attracted very little attention. Augustine bitterly complains that so little was made of them.15 Each was known only in the spot where it was wrought, and even then only to a few persons. If some report of it happened to be carried to other places no sufficient authority existed to give it prompt and unwavering acceptance. He records how he himself had sharply rebuked a woman who had been miraculously cured of a cancer for not publishing abroad the blessing she had received. Her physician had laughed at her, she said; and moreover she had not really concealed it. Outraged, however, on finding that not even her closest acquaintances had ever heard of it, he dragged her from her seclusion and gave the utmost publicity to her story. In odd parallelism to the complaint of his somewhat older contemporary, the heathen historian Ammianus Marcellinus, who in wistful regret for the portents which were gone, declared stoutly that they nevertheless still occurred, only "nobody heeds them now,"16 Augustine asserted that innumerable Christian miracles were constantly taking place, only no notice was taken of them.17
It was not merely indifference, however, which they encountered, but definite disbelief. Many (plurimi) shook their heads at what Sulpitius Severus told in the second book of his Dialogues of the deeds of Martin of Tours—so many that he felt constrained carefully to give his authorities in the next book for each miracle that he recorded. "Let them accept," he says in announcing his purpose to do so,18 "the evidence of people still living, and believe them, seeing that they doubt my good faith." In the first book of his Dialogues,19 indeed, he represents his collocutor—his Gallic friend Postumianus—as saying to him frankly: "I shudder to tell what I have lately heard—that a miserable man (I do not know him) has said that you have told many lies in that book of yours"—that is, in his Life of Martin. The reason Postumianus gives for his shuddering, however, is what most interests us. It is that doubt of the actual occurrence of these miracles is a constructive assault upon the credibility of the Gospels. "For," Postumianus argues, "since the Lord Himself testified that such works as Martin's were to be done by all the faithful, he who does not believe that Martin did them simply does not believe that Christ uttered such words." In point of fact, of course, Christ did not utter these words; the appeal is to the spurious "last twelve verses of Mark." We see, however, that the belief that Christ uttered these words was a powerful co-operating cause inducing belief in the actual occurrence of the alleged marvels. It seemed an arraignment of Christ to say that His most distinguished followers did not do the works which Christ had promised that all His followers should do. The actual occurrence of the miracles was proved quite as much by the fancied promise of the Gospel as by ocular evidence.20
It is a very disturbing fact further that the very Fathers who record long lists of miracles contemporary with themselves, yet betray a consciousness that miracles had nevertheless, in some sense or other, ceased with the Apostolic age. When Ambrose, for example, comes to speak of the famous discovery of the bodies of the two martyrs, Protasius and Gervasius, at Milan, and the marvels which accompanied and followed their discovery, he cannot avoid expressing surprise and betraying the fact that this was to him a new thing. "The miracles of old time," he cries,21 "are come again, when by the advent of the Lord Jesus a fuller grace was shed upon the earth." Augustine, in like manner, in introducing his account of contemporaneous miracles which we have already quoted, begins by adducing the question: "Why do not those miracles take place now, which, as you preach, took place once?" "I might answer," he replies, "that they were necessary before the world believed, that it might believe," and then he goes on to say, as we have seen, that "miracles were wrought in his time, but they were not so public and well attested as the miracles of the Gospel." Nor were the contemporary miracles, he testifies, so great as those of the Gospels, nor did they embrace all the kinds which occur there. So Chrysostom says:22 "Argue not because miracles do not happen now, that they did not happen then. . . . In those times they were profitable, and now they are not." Again:23 "Why are there not those now who raise the dead and perform cures? . . . When nature was weak, when faith had to be planted, then there were many such; but now He wills not that we should hang on these miracles but be ready for death." Again: "Where is the Holy Spirit now? a man may ask; for then it was appropriate to speak of Him when miracles took place, and the dead were raised and all lepers were cleansed, but now. . . ." Again: "The Apostles indeed enjoyed the grace of God in abundance; but if we were bidden to raise the dead, or open the eyes of the blind, or cleanse lepers, or straighten the lame, or cast out devils and heal the like disorders. . . ." Chrysostom fairly teems with expressions implying that miracle-working of every kind had ceased;24 he declares in the crispest way, "Of miraculous powers, not even a vestige is left";25 and yet he records instances from his day! Isodore of Pelusium similarly looks upon miracles as confined to the Apostolic times, adding:26 "Perhaps miracles would take place now, too, if the lives of the teachers rivalled the bearing of the Apostles; though even if they did not, such a life would suffice for the enlightenment of those who beheld it." The same significant distinguishing of times follows us down the years. Thus Gregory the Great at the end of the sixth century, though the very type of a miracle-lover, nevertheless, writing on Mark 16:17, says:27 "Is it so, my brethren, that because ye do not these signs, ye do not believe? On the contrary, they were necessary in the beginning of the church; for, that faith might grow, it required miracles to cherish it withal; just as when we plant shrubs, we water them until we see them to thrive in the ground, and as soon as they are well rooted we cease our irrigation." He proceeds to say that the wonders of grace are greater than miracles. Isodore of Seville at the opening of the next century writes in precisely the same spirit.28 "The reason why the church does not now do the miracles it did under the Apostles," he explains, "is, because miracles were necessary then to convince the world of the truth of Christianity; but now it becomes it, being so convinced, to shine forth in good works. . . . Whoever seeks to perform miracles now as a believer, seeks after vainglory and human applause. For it is written: 'Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.' Observe, a sign is not necessary for believers, who have already received the faith, but for unbelievers that they may be converted. For Paul miraculously cured the father of Publius of a fever for the benefit of unbelievers; but he restores believing Timothy when ill, not by prayer, but by medicine; so that you may clearly perceive that miracles were wrought for unbelievers and not for believers." Even in the thirteenth century, Bernard, commenting on Mark 16:17, asks:29 ''For who is there that seems to have these signs of the faith, without which no one, according to this Scripture, shall be saved?" and answers just as Gregory did, by saying that the greatest miracles are those of the renewed life. The common solution of this inconsistent attitude toward miracles, that the ecclesiastical miracles were only recognized as differing in kind from those of the Scripture, while going a certain way, will hardly suffice for the purpose. Ecclesiastical miracles of every conceivable kind were alleged. Every variety of miracle properly so-called Chrysostom declares to have ceased. It is the contrast between miracles as such and wonders of grace that Gregory draws. No doubt we must recognize that these Fathers realized that the ecclesiastical miracles were of a lower order than those of Scripture. It looks very much as if, when they were not inflamed by enthusiasm, they did not really think them to be miracles at all.30
It is observable further that, throughout the whole patristic and mediæval periods at least, it is difficult to discover any one who claims to have himself wrought miracles. "It may seem somewhat remarkable," says Gibbon,31 "that Bernard of Clairvaux, who records so many miracles of his friend, St. Malachi, never takes any notice of his own, which in their turn, however, are carefully related by his companions and disciples. In the long series of ecclesiastical history, does there exist a single instance of a saint asserting that he himself possessed the gift of miracles?" There is certainly a notable phenomenon here which may be brought to its sharpest point by recalling along with it two facts. First, Christ and His Apostles present a strong contrast with it. Our Lord appeals to His own works, and Paul to his own, in proof of their mission. Secondly, Bernard, for example, not only does not claim to have worked miracles himself, but, as we have seen, seems to speak at times as if he looked upon miracles as having ceased with the Apostles.
It is very instructive to observe how J. H. Newman endeavors to turn the edge of Gibbon's inquiry. "I observe then, first," he says,32 "that it is not often that the gift of miracles is even ascribed to a saint. In many cases miracles are only ascribed to their tombs or relics; or where miracles are ascribed to them when living, these are but singular or occasional, not parts of a series." "Moreover," he adds as his second answer, "they are commonly what Paley calls tentative miracles, or some out of many which have been attempted, and have been done accordingly without any previous confidence in their power to effect them. Moses and Elijah could predict the result; but the miracles in question were scarcely more than experiments and trials, even though success had been granted to them many times before. Under these circumstances, how could the individual men who wrought them appeal to them themselves? It was not till afterward, when their friends and disciples could calmly look back upon their life, and review the various actions and providences which occurred in the course of it, that they would be able to put together the scattered tokens of divine favor, none or few of which might in themselves be a certain evidence of a miraculous power. As well might we expect men in their lifetime to be called saints as workers of miracles." There still remains in reserve a third argument, which amounts to saying that the workers of ecclesiastical miracles were modest men, "as little inclined to proclaim them aloud as to make a boast of their graces."
The whole tenor of this representation of the relation of the miracle-workers of the patristic and mediæval church to their miracles is artificial. It is nothing less than ludicrous to speak of the miracles ascribed to a Martin of Tours or a Gregory Thaumaturgus as "tentative," or as attempted with incomplete confidence. It is equally ludicrous to represent incomplete assurance on the part of a saint with respect to his miracles before they were wrought as prolonging itself throughout his life, after they were wrought. Meanwhile the fact remains that throughout the history of the church miracles have rather been thrust upon than laid claim to by their workers.33 Nor did there ever lack those who openly repudiated the notion that any necessary connection existed between saintliness and miracle-working. Richard Rolle of Hampole, who also became posthumously a miracle-worker, was in his lifetime pronounced no saint because he wrought no miracles. His reply was to the effect that the inference was inconsequent. "Not all saints," he said,34 "do or have done miracles, neither in life nor after death; nor do all reprobates either in life or after death lack miracles; frequently the mediocre good and less perfect do miracles, and many who are seated highest in the heavens before the face of God remain quiet within."35 "Many bodies," he says, "have been translated on earth whose souls perchance have not yet attained heaven." "Saints are not carried to the supernatural seats for the reason that they have showed wonders, for some wicked men, too, have done this; but truth has desired that the more ardently one loves, the more highly shall he be elevated, the more honorably shall he be seated among the angels."36 "It is not necessary now," he continues quite in the vein of Augustine, "that miracles should be shown, since throughout the whole world many abide in memory; but there is need that before the eyes of all should be shown the example of that work. . . ."
In remarks like these there is manifested a certain depreciation of the value of miracles, assuredly not strange in the circumstances. And we are bound to carry this a step further and to recognize that a great mass of these miracles are alleged to have been wrought in the interest of what we must pronounce grave errors. J. H. Newman, in a passage just quoted, remarks that many miracles are ascribed to the tombs or relics of the saints, rather than to the saints themselves; and this is only an example of the uses to which they have been put. So many were wrought in connection with superstitions which grew up about the Eucharist, for instance, that "wonders wrought by the Eucharist" is made one of the main divisions of the article, "Wonders," in Smith and Cheatham's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities.37 Thus, for example, "Cyprian speaks of a person who had lapsed in persecution attempting to communicate; when on opening the area or receptacle in which the consecrated bread was reserved, fire burst out from it and prevented her. Another, on attending church with the same purpose, found that he had received from the priest nothing but a cinder."38 Ambrose relates that one of his friends called Satyrus was piously inclined but not yet admitted to the sacrament. "In this state he happened to suffer shipwreck in his passage from Africa." "Says Ambrose: 'Satyrus, not being afraid of death, but to die only before he had taken of these mysteries, begged of some of the company, who had been initiated, that they would lend him the divine sacrament'" (which they carried about with them—according to the superstitious habit of the day—as an amulet or charm), "'not to feed his curiosity by peeping inside the bag, but to obtain the benefit of his faith, for he wrapped up the mysteries in his handkerchief, and then tying it about his neck threw himself into the sea; never troubling himself to look out for a plank, which might help him to swim, since he wanted nothing more than the arms of his faith; nor did his hopes fail him, for he was the first of the company who got safe to the shore.'"39 Optatus relates that certain members of the Donatist sect once cast the Eucharistic bread of the Catholics to the dogs—which promptly went mad and bit their masters.40 Sozomen tells that a woman who had received some Eucharistic bread of the Macedonians, found it turned to a stone.40 Gregory the Great narrates that a young monk who had gone to visit his parents without permission, died on the day of his return, but could not rest quiet in his grave until Benedict, his superior, had the host laid on it.40 In the time of Justinian, we are told, when it was the custom to distribute the Eucharistic bread left over after the communion to the children, it happened once that a Jewish child received and ate a fragment of it. The enraged father cast the child into a furnace, but it was miraculously preserved from harm.40 Gregory of Tours tells of a deacon of unholy life, who, carrying one day the Eucharist into a church, had the bread fly of itself out of his hand and place itself on the altar.40 According to the same writer the host on one occasion shed blood when broken.40 A bishop named Marsius is related to have let his portion of the Eucharistic bread, received from the hands of the administrator, fall into the folds of his robe because he did not wish to break his fast. It at once turned into a serpent, and wrapped itself about his waist whence it could be dislodged only by a night of prayer for him on the part of the administrator.40 This is matched by the miracle of Bolsena, which Raphael has rendered famous. A priest saying the mass—it is dated 1264—let a drop of wine fall on his corporal, and doubled up the garment upon it. It was found to have left the impression of the wafer in blood on every fold which touched it.41
We have seen Augustine constrained to allow the principle that miracles alleged in the interests of false doctrines are self-condemned; that no miracle can be accepted against the truth, but is at once to be set aside if presented in the interests of error. The principle is a scriptural one42 and has repeatedly been rationally validated. It is so validated, for example, in a solid argument by Lyman H. Atwater, speaking immediately of spiritualism.43 "A corrupt doctrine," says he suggestively, ''destroys a pretended miracle just as strong counter circumstantial evidence would invalidate the testimony of a single witness." A good deal of confusion seems to be abroad on this matter. An impression appears to exist that the proper evidence of truth—or at least of religious truth—is miracle, and that therefore there can be no decisive criterion of religious truth offered for our acceptance except miracles wrought in support of it. It is at least very commonly supposed that we are bound to examine carefully into the pretensions of any alleged miracle produced in support of any propositions whatever, however intrinsically absurd; and, if these alleged miracles cannot be at once decisively invalidated, we are bound to accept as true the propositions in support of which they are alleged. No proposition clearly perceived to be false, however, can possibly be validated to us by any miracle whatever; and the perception of the proposition as clearly false relieves us at once from the duty of examining into the miraculous character of its alleged support and invalidates any claim which that support can put in to miraculous character—prior to all investigation. A matter so clear could not be missed, of course, by Augustine, and we have his support, accordingly, in pointing out that the connection of alleged miracles with erroneous doctrines invalidates their claim to be genuine works of God.
We must not imagine, however, that ecclesiastical miracles are distinguished from the biblical miracles by nothing except the nature of the doctrines in connection with which they are alleged to be wrought. They differ from them also, fundamentally, in character. This difference is not denied. J. H. Newman, for example, describes it thus:44 ''Ecclesiastical miracles, that is, miracles posterior to the Apostolic age, are, on the whole, different in object, character, and evidence from those of Scripture on the whole." At a subsequent point, he enlarges on this.45 "The Scripture miracles," says he, "are for the most part evidence of a Divine Revelation, and that for the sake of those who have been instructed in it, and in order to the instruction of multitudes; but the miracles which follow have sometimes no discoverable or direct object, or but a slight object; they happen for the sake of individuals and of those who are already Christians, or for purposes already effected, as far as we can judge, by the miracles of Scripture. . . . The miracles of Scripture are, on the whole, grave, simple, majestic; those of ecclesiastical history often partake of what may be called a romantic character, and of that wildness and inequality which enters into the notion of romance. The miracles of Scripture are undeniably beyond nature; those of ecclesiastical history are often scarcely more than extraordinary accidents or coincidences, or events which seem to betray exaggerations or errors in the statement." In a word,46 "Scripture is to us a Garden of Eden, and its creations are beautiful as well as 'very good'; but when we pass from the Apostolical to the following ages, it is as if we left the choicest valleys of the earth, the quietest and most harmonious scenery, and the most cultivated soil, for the luxuriant wilderness of Africa or Asia, the natural home or kingdom of brute nature, uninfluenced by man." Newman labors to show that this is only a general contrast; that there are some miracles in Scripture which, taken by themselves, would find their place in the lower class; and some in ecclesiastical history which rise to the higher class; and in later life he would somewhat modify his statement of the contrast. But the admission that the contrast exists is unavoidable; some measure of recognition of it runs, as we have seen, through the literature of all the Christian ages, and it is big with significance.
I have frequently quoted in the course of this lecture Newman's essay on The Miracles of Ecclesiastical History compared with those of Scripture, as regards their nature, credibility and evidence. Indeed, I have purposely drawn a good deal of my material from it. Perhaps I owe you some account of this book, which is, perhaps, an even more famous book than Middleton's, formerly described to you. Newman had written in 1825-6 a paper on The Miracles of Scripture, compared with those reported elsewhere, as regards their nature, credibility, and evidence. That was in his Protestant days, and in this paper he takes sufficiently strong ground against the genuineness of ecclesiastical miracles. Then came the Oxford movement of which he was the leader; and afterward his drift Romeward. As this drift was reaching its issue in his passing into the Roman church—in 1842-3—he wrote the subtle plea for the genuineness of ecclesiastical miracles with which we are now concerned, primarily as a preface for a translation of a portion of Fleury's Ecclesiastical History.47 How well pleased he, as a Catholic, was with his performance is evidenced by his republication of the two papers together, without substantial alteration, in repeated editions after his perversion.
The essay now claiming our attention is probably the most specious plea for the credibility and reality of the whole mass of ecclesiastical miracles ever penned. I say the whole mass, although Newman, with great apparent candor, admits that there is to be found among them every variety of miracle, of every degree of intrinsic credibility or incredibility, and supported by every degree of evidence or no-evidence. For, after he has, under the cover of this candor, concentrated attention upon what seem to him the particular miracles most deserving to be true, and supported by the most direct and weighty evidence, he subtly suggests that, on their basis, many more in themselves doubtful or distasteful may be allowed, that insufficiency of proof is not the same as disproof, and that very many things must be admitted by us to be very likely true for the truth of which we have no evidence at all—inasmuch as we must distinguish sharply between the fact and the proof of the fact, and must be prepared to admit that failure of the latter does not carry with it the rejection of the former.
The disposition of matter in this famous essay is as follows. First, the antecedent probability of the ecclesiastical miracles is estimated; then, their internal character is investigated; then, the argument in their behalf in general is presented; and finally the major portion of the essay is given to a detailed attempt to demonstrate that a few selected miracles of greater intrinsic likelihood and better attestation than the mass, actually happened—such as those of the thundering legion, the changing of water into oil by Narcissus, the alteration of the course of the Lycus by Gregory Thaumaturgus, the appearance of the cross to Constantine, the discovery of the cross by Helena, the death of Arius, the fiery eruption which stopped Julian's attempt to build the temple at Jerusalem, the cure of blindness by relics, and the speech of the African confessors without tongues. Everywhere the reader is charmed by the delightful style, and everywhere he is led on by the hand of a master-reasoner bending facts and reason alike to follow the path appointed for them.
The opening argument runs as follows. Although there may be a certain antecedent probability against this or that particular miracle, there can be no presumption whatever against miracles generally after the Apostles, because inspiration has borne the brunt of any such antecedent prejudice, and, in establishing the certainty of the supernatural histories of the Scriptures, has disproved their impossibility in the abstract. The skilfulness of this is beyond praise. By keeping his reader's attention fixed on the possibility of miracles in the abstract, Newman quite distracts it from the decisive question in the case—whether the scriptural histories of miracles do not themselves raise a presumption against the alleged miracles succeeding them. At a later point, to be sure, this question is raised. But only in a special form, namely, whether the difference between the biblical and ecclesiastical miracles is not so great that the latter become improbable if the former be admitted. A difference is allowed; but its implications are avoided by an appeal to the analogy of nature, in professed imitation of Joseph Butler. It is argued, namely, that the case is very much like that of a man familiar only with the noblest animals, which have been subjected to human dominion, who is suddenly introduced into a zoological garden and, perceiving the great variety of animal nature, the hideousness and uselessness of much of it, is led to deny that all could have come from God. Thus, says Newman, one accustomed to only the noble miracles of Scripture may be pardoned some doubt when introduced into the jungles of ecclesiastical history. But doubt here too should pass away with increasing knowledge and a broadening outlook on the divine power and works. This is the argument of the second section, on the "internal character of ecclesiastical miracles." But the real grounds of the presumption against ecclesiastical miracles are never adverted to—namely that Scripture represents miracles to be attached to the Apostles, the vehicles of revelation, as their signs, and thus raises an antecedent presumption against any miracles having occurred after their age; that on the testimony of history miracles accordingly ceased with the Apostolic age, and only after an interval are heard of again; that, when heard of again, they are the apparent progeny of the apocryphal miracles of the Gnostic and Ebionitic romances of the second and third centuries and not of the miracles of the New Testament; that they accordingly differ not only toto cœlo from the miracles of the Scripture in kind, but are often wrought in support of superstitions not only foreign to the religion of the Bible, but in contradiction to it. Of all this Newman says not a word, and he manages to carry the reader so along with him by an exhibition of candor when candor is harmless that there is danger of its being forgotten that of all this anything ought to be said.
The section on the state of the argument begins polemically, but soon returns to the main point, namely that the case is to be settled on the ground of antecedent probability. This is then at once resolved into the question of the doctrine of the church. Newman, it is true, expresses himself as if what he was handling was the reality of Christianity. He warns us that scepticism here may, nay, must, be at bottom "disbelief in the grace committed to the church." He suggests that those who realize that the bodies of the saints in life are the Temples of the Highest ought not to feel offense if miracles are wrought by these bodies after death. Finally, he enunciates the proposition that "it may be taken as a general truth that, where there is an admission of Catholic doctrines, there no prejudice will exist against ecclesiastical miracles; while those who disbelieve in the existence among us of the hidden Power will eagerly avail themselves of every plea for explaining away its open manifestation."48
This again is very skilfully put. But there is no reason why the judgment expressed should not be concurred in without debate. A Catholic, believing first in the divinity of the church as the organ of the Holy Ghost, in which He is made a deposit for the whole world, and from which alone He can be obtained; and believing, next, in the truth of all the distinctive teachings of this church, as to monasticism and asceticism, relics and saints, transubstantiation, and the like, in honor of which the alleged miracles are performed—will naturally be predisposed to believe these miracles real. A Protestant, believing none of these things, but looking upon them as corruptions of the Gospel, will as naturally be predisposed to believe them spurious. In this sense, every Protestant must deny the existence of "the hidden Power among us" which Newman affirms, and hence cannot either expect or allow "open manifestations" of it. We believe in a wonder-working God; but not in a wonder-working church. Thus the effect of Newman's argument, when once it is probed, is to uncover the root of the matter, and to make clear just what the presumption against ecclesiastical miracles is. It matters not that he proceeds to cite the last twelve verses of Mark and to build an argument upon the promise included in them. The spuriousness of the passage evacuates the argument. It is a meaningless excrescence, however, upon his argument in any case. That ultimately comes merely to the historical causa finita est: ecclesia locuta est.
The examination of the evidence for selected miracles which is presented at the end of the volume is an interesting piece of work, but is unconvincing for the main matter. That the conclusion in each case lacks cogency may be shown in one way or another; but it is not necessary to do this. Newman himself allows that the general conclusion reached rests on the antecedent presumption; and that that depends on our attitude to Roman doctrine. For its inherent interest, however, we may glance for a moment at the last, and perhaps the most striking, of the instances of miracles the evidence for which Newman treats fully. It is the miracle of the continued speech of the African confessors deprived of their tongues by the cruelty of Hunneric in 484. The evidence, which is especially profuse and good, is detailed with great skill. We really cannot doubt the underlying fact. The tongues of these martyrs were cut out, cut out by the roots; and one or more of them were known at Constantinople as having still the power to speak. The miracle is inferred. The inference, however, is not stringent. It curiously emerges as a physiological fact that a man with half a tongue cannot speak, but a man with no tongue at all can. Newman knew this fact. Middleton had adduced two French cases—one of a girl born without a tongue who yet talked distinctly and easily, the other of a boy who had lost his tongue without losing his faculty of speech. Newman judged that these instances left his miracle untouched. But other evidence was soon adduced. It happens that the excision of the tongue is a form of punishment repeatedly inflicted in the East, and a body of evidence has grown up there which puts it beyond cavil that excision of the tongue, if thoroughly done, does not destroy the power of speech. In his later editions, while recording this evidence in an appendix, Newman is still unable frankly to allow that this is what happened to the African martyrs.49
Perhaps I ought to mention before leaving Newman's book that it has been subjected to a very thorough examination, and has been given a very complete refutation by Edwin A. Abbott, in a volume- devoted wholly to it, published under the significant title of Philomythus.50 And, having mentioned this book, perhaps I ought to say further that the same writer has also published a very extended discussion of the miracles of Thomas à Becket,51 under the impression that some sort of a parallel might be drawn between them and the miracles of the New Testament, to the disadvantage of the acknowledgment of the truly miraculous character of the latter. Nothing further need be said of this than what has been briefly said by A. G. Headlam in the course of a discussion of miracles, which he read at the Church Congress at Middlesbrough (1912).52 "Reference has been made to miracles of St. Thomas of Canterbury," he says, "and it is maintained that those miracles are supported by as good evidence as the Gospel narratives, and that they represent just the same strong ethical character that our Lord's work did. I do not think that any one who makes assertions of this sort can have looked at the evidence for a moment. We have very full accounts of the life of Thomas à Becket, and we have many letters written by him. In none whatever of the early narratives is there any reference to miracles performed in his lifetime. Neither he himself nor his contemporaries claimed that he could work miracles. The stories of miraculous happenings are entirely confined to the miracles believed to have been worked by his dead body after his death, and these narratives are exactly of the same character as those recorded at Lourdes, for example, at the present day. Many of them represent answers to prayers which were offered up in different parts of the world in the name of St. Thomas, many of them are trivial, and some repellent. Some doubtless represent real cures, which were worked among those who went on a pilgrimage, just as there can be no doubt that real cures are experienced by those who go to Lourdes. What their character may be we need not discuss at this moment, but the whole tone of the narrative represents something quite different from anything that we experience when reading the story of the Gospel."
We return now to the main question: What are we to think of these miracles? There is but one historical answer which can be given. They represent an infusion of heathen modes of thought into the church. If we wish to trace this heathen infusion along the line of literary development, we must take our start from those Apocryphal Acts of Encratite tendency which, in a former lecture, we had occasion to point to as naturalizing the heathen wonder-tales—then a fashionable literary form—in the church. Once naturalized in the church, these Christian wonder-tales developed along the line of the church's own development. As time went on, E. von Dobschütz explains, the church drew ever closer to the Encratite ideals which were glorified in the Apocryphal Acts, and it was this which gave their tendency to the new Christian romances which began to multiply in the later fourth century, and are represented to us especially by Athanasius' Life of Antony, and Jerome's Lives of Paul, Hilarion, and Malchus. "Whether there is any historical kernel in them or not," remarks Von Dobschütz,53 "they are exactly like the older Christian romances, described already, in their fundamental traits—loose structure, miraculousness and asceticism." The state of the case is fairly brought before us by R. Reitzenstein, when, after expounding at length the relevant details, he states his conclusion thus:54 "I think I may now venture to say that the prophet and philosopher aretalogies supplied the literary model for the Christian Acts of the Apostles. . . . But in order properly to feel the extent and influence of this literature, we must follow the Christian aretalogy a step further. . . . This new literature arose, as is well known, when, after the victory of Christianity, the interest of the community shifted from the portrait of the ideal missionary to the strange figures of the hermits and monks. For us there come especially into consideration Athanasius' Life of Antony, and the two great collections of the Historia Monachorum and the Historia Lausiaca; only in the second rank, the Lives of Paul and Hilarion by Jerome."
It has been much disputed of late, whether the work which stands at the head of this literature, Athanasius' Life of Antony, is really Athanasius' or is a work of fiction. Perhaps we do not need to treat the alternative as absolute. The book can scarcely be denied to Athanasius, and if we conceive it as a work of fiction, it ceases to be wholly unworthy of him. "In spite of its bad Greek—Athanasius was anything but a master of form"—writes Reitzenstein,55 "the book belongs distinctly to the category of 'great literature,' and its appearance may be spoken of as an event of world-historical importance." T. R. Glover, who considers that it has been demonstrated that the book is a "work of fiction," points out56 that "it was fiction as Uncle Tom's Cabin was fiction," and wrought even more powerfully; "of all the books of the fourth century it had the most immediate and wide-spread influence, which, though outgrown by us, lasted on to the Renaissance." How great the misfortune was that the ascetic ideal should be commended to the world-weary people of God in this age of dying heathenism through the medium of a romance of such undeniable power, the event only too sadly showed. The elevation of the work above its successive imitators Jerome's Paul and Hilarion and Malchus, Sulpitius Severus's Martin and beyond—is immense. Reitzenstein suggests it to us57 in the contrast he draws between it and Jerome's Life of Hilarion. It is Jerome's obvious purpose to outvie Athanasius, and he does it with vigor. "The difference between the two works," says Reitzenstein, "is certainly very great. Athanasius handled the miraculous narrative as a concession to his public, laid all the stress on the discipline of the monk, and precisely thus raised the work to a value which must be felt even by one who is filled with horror by this pedagogically presented union of the fervor of Christian faith and Egyptian superstition. Jerome has retrenched even the preaching and the exhortation which form the religious kernel of the heathen as well as the Christian aretalogy; the miracle narrative is its own end; it is 'great history' which he is giving, and he presents it by this means."58
Thus a new literature sprang up synchronously with monasticism—a monkish belletristic, as A. Harnack calls it.59 ''Feuilletonists in monks' clothing made romances and novels out of the real and invented experiences of the penitents, and the ancient world delighted itself with this preciosity of renunciation." The miraculous was in this literature a matter of course; and the ever-swelling accounts of miracles in that age of excited superstition transferred themselves with immense facility to life. "The martyr-legend," says H. Günter strikingly, at the opening of his Legend-Studies,60 "is older than the Christian martyrs—of course with a grain of salt—in its presuppositions"; and the same is true of the monk-legends. Günter illustrates what the martyr-legend did with Bible passages by bidding us observe what is done in the Acts of Peter and Andrew with Christ's saying about the camel passing through the eye of a needle. This aretalogist is so zealous for the saving of rich men that he makes a camel actually pass repeatedly through the eye of the smallest needle that can be found, before our very eyes.61 There is nothing too hard for the monkish legend. A veil of miracle settles down over everything, covering up all historical and individual traits.
An admirable summary of what took place in the church itself, parallel with this literary development, is drawn up by Robert Rainy in the course of his general description of the effects of the introduction of monasticism into the church. "The stimulus which was applied to the fancy and to nervous tendencies," says he,62 "is revealed also by the extraordinary harvest of visions, demoniacal assaults, and miracles which followed in its wake. The occurrence of some marvels had been associated all along with Christian history, in times of persecution especially, and in other cases of great trial. But both in type and in number these had hitherto occupied a comparatively modest place, and the Christian feeling had been that miracles comparable to the Gospel miracles had for good reasons passed away. But from Antony onward the miraculous element increases, and by the end of the fourth century it had overflowed the world. Asceticism was one cause; another, which operated in the same way, was the mood of mind now prevailing in regard to the relics of the saints. Illustrations of the first may be found abundantly in Sulpitius Severus. For the effect of relics, note how Augustine, who in earlier days recognized the comparative absence of the miraculous from Christian experience, in later life qualified and virtually retracts the statement. For in the meantime not only had asceticism begun to bear fruits, but the relics of St. Stephen had come into Africa, and miracles everywhere followed in their train; and such miracles!"
When we say that this great harvest of miracles thus produced in Christian soil, from the late fourth century on, in connection with the rise of the monastic movement, was a transplantation from heathendom, we do not mean to imply that the particular miracles thus produced owed nothing to the Christian soil in which they grew. As they were the products of human hopes and fears, and humanity is fundamentally the same in all ages and under all skies, miracle-stories of this kind present a general family likeness in all times and in all religious environments. But they are, of course, colored also by the special modes of thinking and feeling of the peoples among whom they severally rise, and Christian miracle-stories will, therefore, inevitably be Christian in their ground tone. C. F. Arnold describes very strikingly the difference in character and underlying postulates between the miraculous stories which grew up among the Christian population of southern Gaul and those of the heathen which they supplanted. He is speaking of the time of Cæsarius of Aries, in the first half of the sixth century. "Besides marvels of healing," he says,63 "many other marvels are also related. It is easy to say that mediæval barbarism reveals itself in such records. But we must not forget that not only are the books of Apuleius filled with the wildest superstitions, but even such a highly educated heathen as the younger Pliny believed in the silliest ghost-stories. We not only perceive in this a reflection of folk-belief among the educated, but we are especially struck with the naturalism, the passive character of heathen religiousness. Christian superstition as it meets us in the environment of Cæsarius, always differs from the heathen by its double ideal background. First, we are met in it with a childlike form of vital faith in Providence, which, in these days of practical pessimism and materialism, we might almost envy that time. Secondly, there speaks to us in it, not fear in the presence of the blind forces of nature, as in heathen superstition, but a certain confidence in the victory of the spirit over nature. From a practical point of view this superstition wrought great evil, because it hindered fighting against physical ills with the weapon with which they should have been fought—that is, by God-trusting labor. Sickness was fought as if it had been sin, with prayer; while, on the other hand, sin was fought as if it had been sickness, with diligence in ascetic practices." Even a man so great and wise as Cæsarius was not able to escape this deeply rooted superstition. He shared, as Arnold phrases it, the fundamental error which, from a theological standpoint, underlay this whole miracle thirst: the error of failing to distinguish between the epoch of the creation of salvation and that of its appropriation. But Cæsarius was wise enough, while not denying that miracles still happened, to minimize their importance, and to point rather to spiritual wonders as the things to be sought.64 ''What is the example of Christ that we are to follow?" he asks. "Is it that we should raise the dead? Is it that we should walk on the surface of the sea? Not at all; but that we should be meek and humble of heart, and should love not only our friends but also our enemies."
As the miraculous stories of the populace thus took on a Christian complexion when the people who produced them became Christian, and became now the vehicles of Christian faith in Providence and of hope in the God who is the maker and ruler of the whole earth; so they reflect also the other currents of popular belief and feeling of the day. A long series might be gleaned from the mediæval records, for example, which reflect the ingrained belief in magic which tinged the thought of an age so little instructed in the true character of the forces of nature, and especially its deeply seated conception of the essentially magical nature of religion and its modes of working. Paul Sabatier, in his Life of Francis of Assisi, cites a number of instances of the kind,65 from which we may cull the following. "In one case a parrot being carried away by a kite uttered the invocation dear to his master, 'sancte Thoma, adjuva me,' and was immediately rescued. In another a merchant of Groningen, having purloined an arm of St. John the Baptist, grew rich as if by enchantment, so long as he kept it concealed in his house, but was reduced to beggary so soon as, his secret being discovered, the relic was taken away from him and placed in a church." "A chronicler relates that the body of St. Martin of Tours had, in 887, been secretly transported to some remote hiding-place for fear of the Danish invasion. When the time came for bringing it home again, there were in Touraine two impostors, men who, thanks to their infirmity, gained large sums by begging. They were thrown into great terror by the tidings that the relics were being brought back; St. Martin would certainly heal them and take away their means of livelihood! Their fears were only too well founded. They had taken to flight; but being too lame to walk fast, they had not yet crossed the frontier of Touraine when the saint arrived and healed them." The mediæval chronicles are full of such stories in which the crass popular thought of the age expresses itself. Folk-tales are, after all, folk-tales, and must embody the people's ideas and sentiments.
One result is that the production of miraculous stories cannot be confined to authorized modes of thinking. If the dominant ecclesiastical powers avail themselves of the universal tendency to the manufacture of folk-stories in order to commend their system, they must expect to reckon with entirely similar stories supporting what they look upon as heresy. It accordingly happens that the heretics of all ages are at least as well provided with supporting miracles as the church itself. If Catholics took advantage of the tendency to superstition abroad in the world to conquer the unbeliever, it was but natural that "heretics often took advantage of this thirst for the marvellous to dupe the Catholics. The Cathari of Monceval made a portrait of the Virgin, representing her as one-eyed and toothless, saying that, in His humility, Christ had chosen a very ugly woman for mother. They had no difficulty in healing several cases of disease by its means; the image became famous, was venerated almost everywhere, and accomplished many miracles, until the day when the heretics divulged the deception, to the great scandal of the faithful."66
A more entertaining incident of the same kind occurred in France in the first half of the eighteenth century. The Jansenists had their miracles, you will understand, as well as the Jesuits. A young Jansenist cleric, François de Paris, was a particularly warm opponent of Clement XIV's bull Unigenitus. This did not prevent his acquiring a great reputation for sanctity. He died in 1727. Scarcely was this admirable man dead, says Mosheim,67 than an immense crowd flocked around his body, kissing his feet, securing locks of his hair, books, and clothing he had used, and the like; and immediately the wonder-working power that was expected, appeared. Neither the excitement nor the miraculous phenomena showed any sign of ceasing after the burial of the good abbé. His tomb in the churchyard of St. Médard became the resort of the Jansenist convulsionnaires, and the constant scene of at once the most marvellous and the most fantastic miracles. In a few years his grave had grown into a famous shrine to which men came in crowds from all over France to be cured of their diseases, and at which prophecies, speaking with tongues, and ecstatic phenomena of all sorts daily took place. This could not be other than gravely displeasing to the Jesuits, and as the Jesuits were the power behind the throne, it could not be permitted to continue. To check it seemed, however, difficult if not impossible. At last the expedient was adopted of enclosing the tomb so that none might approach it. This, no doubt, brought miracles at the grave itself to an end, though it could not calm the general excitement. And some wag turned the tables on the Jesuits by chalking in great letters on the enclosure, after the manner of a royal proclamation, these words:68
De par le Roy, défence à Dieu
De faire miracle en ce lieu.
The whole incident of the miracles of St. Médard is full of instruction for us as to the origin and character of the miracle-working69 which fills the annals of the patristic and mediæval church.70
ROMAN CATHOLIC MIRACLES
It would be natural to suppose that the superstitions which flourished luxuriantly in the Middle Ages would be unable to sustain themselves in the clearer atmosphere of the twentieth century. "We shall have no repetition of mediæval miracles," says W. F. Cobb with some show of conviction,1 "for the simple reason that faith in God has ousted credulity in nature." When we speak thus, however, we are reckoning without the church of Rome. For the church of Rome, while existing in the twentieth century, is not of it. As Yrjö Hirn crisply puts it:2 "The Catholic Church is a Middle Age which has survived into the twentieth century." Precisely what happened to the church of Rome at that epoch in the history of Christianity which we call the Reformation, was that it bent its back sturdily to carry on with it all the lumber which had accumulated in the garrets and cellars of the church through a millennium and a half of difficult living. It is that part of the church which refused to be reformed; which refused, that is, to free itself from the accretions which had attached themselves to Christianity during its long struggle with invading superstition. Binding these closely to its heart, it has brought them down with it to the present hour.3 The church of Rome, accordingly, can point to a body of miracles, wrought in our own day and generation, as large and as striking as those of any earlier period of the church's history. And when the annals of the marvels of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries come to be collected, there is no reason to suppose that they will compare unfavorably in point either of number or marvellousness with those of any of the "ages of faith" which have preceded them. This continuous manifestation of supernatural powers in its bosom constitutes one of the proudest boasts of the church of Rome; by it, it conceives itself differentiated, say, from the Protestants; and in it it finds one of its chief credentials as the sole organ of God Almighty for the saving of the wicked world.4
We had occasion in a previous lecture to point out that this great stream of miracle-working which has run thus through the history of the church was not original to the church, but entered it from without.5 The channel which we then indicated was not the only one through which it flowed into the church. It was not even the most direct one. The fundamental fact which should be borne in mind is that Christianity, in coming into the world, came into a heathen world. It found itself, as it made its way ever more deeply into the world, ever more deeply immersed in a heathen atmosphere which was heavy with miracle. This heathen atmosphere, of course, penetrated it at every pore, and affected its interpretation of existence in all the happenings of daily Hfe. It was not merely, however, that Christians could not be immune from the infection of the heathen modes of thought prevalent about them. It was that the church was itself recruited from the heathen community. Christians were themselves but baptized heathen, and brought their heathen conceptions into the church with them, little changed in all that was not obviously at variance with their Christian confession. He that was unrighteous, by the grace of God did not do unrighteousness still; nor did he that was filthy remain filthy still. But he that was superstitious remained superstitious still; and he who lived in a world of marvels looked for and found marvels happening all about him still. In this sense the conquering church was conquered by the world which it conquered.
It is possible that we very commonly underestimate the marvellousness of the world with which the heathen imagination surrounded itself, crippled as it was by its ignorance of natural law, and inflamed by the most incredible superstition. Perhaps we equally underestimate the extent to which this heathen view of the world passed over into the church. Th. Trede bids us keep well in mind that Christianity did not bring belief in miracles into the world; it found it there. The whole religion of the heathen turned on it; what they kept their gods for was just miracles. As Theodore Mommsen puts it in a single sentence:6 "The Roman gods were in the first instance instruments which were employed for attaining very concrete earthly ends"—and then he adds, very significantly, "a point of view which appears not less sharply in the saint-worship of present-day Italy." "The power," says Trede,7 "which in the Roman Empire set the state religion going, as well as the numerous local, social, and family cults, was belief in miracles. The gods, conceived as protecting beings, as undoubted powers in the world, but as easily offended, were, by the honor brought to them in their worship, to be made and kept disposed to interpose in the course of nature for the benefit of their worshippers, in protecting, helping, succoring, rescuing them; that is to say, were to work miracles. Belief in miracles was involved in belief in the gods; only denial of the gods could produce denial of miracles." Enlarging on the matter with especial reference to the third century, Trede continues:8 "In the third century religious belief was steeped in belief in miracles. In their thinking and in their believing men floated in a world of miracles like a fish in water. The more miraculous a story the more readily it found believing acceptance. There was no question of criticism, however timid; the credulity of even educated people reached an unheard-of measure, as well as the number of those who, as deceived or deceivers, no longer knew how to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Those of the old faith (the heathen) had no doubt of the miracles of those of the new faith (the Christians), and vice versa. The whole population of the Roman Empire was caught in a gigantic net of superstition, the product of the combined work of East and West. There never was a society so enlightened and so blasé that lived so entirely in the world of the supernatural." And he too draws the parallel with our own times. He adduces the incredible things related by an Aristides and an Ælian, and then adds:9 "Things just like this are still related . . . Ælian and Aristides are still living, as the miracle-stories at the famous places of pilgrimage show. We mention here the miracles at Lourdes and Pompeii nuova, which afford a very close likeness of the doings of the third century. The miracles of the nineteenth century recall those of the third."
Are we then to discredit out of hand the teeming multitudes of wonders which fill the annals of the church despite their attestation in detail by men of probity and renown? What credit can be accorded the testimony of men even of probity and renown in matters in which they show themselves quite color-blind? Take Augustine, for example. Adolf Harnack declares,10 and declares truly, that he was incomparably the greatest man whom the Christian church possessed "between Paul the Apostle and Luther the Reformer." And, perhaps more to our present purpose, there was nothing in which he overtopped his contemporaries and successors more markedly than in his high sense of the sacredness of truth and his strict regard for veracity in speech. In contrast with "the priests and theologians" of his time, who, on occasion, "lied shamelessly," Harnack, for example, calls him11 "Augustine the truthful," and that with full right. There is no one to whom we could go with more confidence, whether on the score of his ability or his trustworthiness, than to Augustine, to assure us of what really happened in any ordinary matter. Yet, whenever it is a case of marvellous happenings, he shows himself quite unreliable. Here he is a child of his times and cannot rise above them. What value can be attached to the testimony to wonders by a man, however wise in other matters and however true-hearted we know him to be, who can, for example, tell us gravely that peacock's flesh is incorruptible—he knows it because he has tried it? "When I first heard of it," he tells us,12 "it seemed to me incredible; but it happened at Carthage that a bird of this kind was cooked and served up to me, and, taking a slice of flesh from its breast, I ordered it to be kept, and when it had been kept as many days as make any other flesh offensive, it was produced and set before me, and emitted no unpleasant odor. And after it had been laid by for thirty days more, it was still in the same state; and a year after, the same still, except that it was a little more shrivelled and drier."
Take another example which brings us closer to our present theme. Augustine tells us13 that in the neighboring town of Tullium there dwelt a countryman named Curma, who lay unconscious for some days, sick unto death, and in this state saw into the other world, as in a dream. When he came to himself, the first thing he did was to say: "Let some one go to the house of Curma the smith, and see how it is with him." Curma the smith was found to have died at the very moment in which Curma the farmer "had returned to his senses and almost been resuscitated from death." He then told that he had heard in that place whence he had just returned that it was not Curma the farmer but Curma the smith who had been ordered to be brought to the place of the dead. Augustine, now, tells us that he knew this man, and at the next Easter baptized him. It was not until two years later, however, that he learned of his vision; but then he sent for him and had him bring witnesses with him. He had his story from his own lips and verified all the circumstantial facts carefully by the testimony of others who had first-hand knowledge of them—Curma's sickness, his recovery, his narrative of what had befallen him, and the timely death of the other Curma. He not only himself believes it all, but clearly expects his readers to believe it on the ground of his testimony.
This, however, is only the beginning. Gregory the Great tells the same story14—not, however, on the authority of Augustine as having happened to Curma of Tullium, but as having happened within his own knowledge to an acquaintance of his own—"the illustrious Stephen," he calls him, a man well known (and that means favorably known), he says, to Peter, the friend to whom he is writing. Stephen, he says, had related to him frequently his wonderful experience. He had gone to Constantinople on business, and, falling sick, had died there. The embalmers being a little difficult to get at, the body was fortunately left overnight unburied. Meanwhile the soul was conducted to the lower regions and brought before the judge. The judge, however, repelled it, saying: "It was not this one, but Stephen the smith that I ordered to be brought." The soul was immediately returned to the body, and Stephen the smith, who lived near by, died at that very hour. Thus it was proved that "the illustrious Stephen" had really heard the words of the judge; the death of Stephen the smith demonstrated it. Are we bound, on the credit of Augustine and Gregory, both of whom relate it as having happened within their own knowledge to acquaintances of their own, to believe that this thing really did happen, happened twice, and in both cases through one of the same name being mistaken for a smith?
We are not yet, however, at the end of the matter. The same story is related by the heathen satirist Lucian,15 writing as far back as the third quarter of the second century—two hundred and fifty years before Augustine, and three hundred and fifty years before Gregory. Only, Lucian has this advantage over his Christian successors in his way of telling it, that he does not tell it as having really happened, but in a rollicking mood, laughing at the superstitions of his time. He brings before us a chance gathering of men, who, in their conversation, fall to vying with one another in "romancing" of their supernatural experiences. One of them, a Peripatetic, named Cleodemus, makes this contribution to the conversation. "I had become ill, and Antigonus here was attending me. The fever had been on me for seven days, and was now aggravated by the excessive heat. All my attendants were outside, having closed the door and left me to myself; those were your orders, you know, Antigonus; I was to get some sleep if I could. Well, I woke up to find a handsome young man standing by my side, in a white cloak. He raised me up from the bed, and conducted me through a sort of a chasm into Hades; I knew where I was at once, because I saw Tantalus and Tityus and Sisyphus, Not to go into details, I came to the judgment-hall, and there were Æacus and Charon, and the Fates and the Furies. One person of a majestic appearance—Pluto, I suppose it was—sat reading out the names of those who were due to die, their term of life having lapsed. The young man took me and set me before him, but Pluto flew into a rage: 'Away with him,' he said to my conductor; 'his thread is not yet out; go and fetch Demylus the smith; he has had his spindleful and more!' I ran off home, nothing loath. My fever had now disappeared, and I told everybody that Demylus was as good as dead. He lived close by, and was said to have some illness, and it was not long before we heard the voices of mourners in his house."
The late James Payne, the novelist, used whimsically to contend that fiction did not imitate life as was commonly supposed, but, on the contrary, life imitated fiction; a romancer could not invent a motive, he said, however bizarre, but a lot of people would soon be found staging copies of it in real life. Perhaps on some such theory we might defend the reality of the occurrences related by Augustine and Gregory as having happened within their own knowledge. Scarcely on any other. That the source of Augustine's and Gregory's stories lies in Lucian's is too obvious to require arguing; even the doomed smith is common to all three, and the strong heathen coloring of the story is not obscured, in Gregory's version at least, which clearly is independent of Augustine's. Heinrich Günter has an ingenious theory designed to save the credit of the saints. He supposes16 that the story might have been so widely known that sick people would be likely to reproduce it in their fevered dreams. "To such an extent," he remarks, "had certain imaginary conceptions become the common property of the people that they repeated themselves as autosuggestions and dreams."17 One would presume, even so, that when the dreamers woke up, they would recognize their dreams as old acquaintances; and how shall we account for Augustine and Gregory not recognizing such well-known stories circulating so universally among the masses, when they were told them as fresh experiences of the other world?
Hippolyte Delehaye frankly gives up the effort to save the credit of all parties. "It is impossible to be mistaken," he comments.18 "That friend of St. Gregory's was an unscrupulous person, who bragged of having been the hero of a story which he had read in the books. To say nothing of St. Augustine, Plutarch could have taught it to him, and better still, Lucian." Nothing is said here to save Augustine's reputation for truthfulness; and if Gregory's honor is saved it is at the expense not only of his friend Stephen's, but also of his own intelligence. Could not Gregory, as well as Stephen, have read his Plutarch or his Lucian, to say nothing of his Augustine, whom of course he had read, though equally of course he had not remembered him? And how could he have listened to and repeated Stephen's tale without noting the heathen coloring of it, which alone should have stamped it to him as a bit of romancing? R. Reitzenstein is not so tender of the honor of the saints as Delehaye, and has theories of his own to consider. The close agreement of the details of the story as Augustine tells it with Lucian's version, as well as the use which Augustine makes of it, "leave no doubt," he thinks,19 "that Augustine has simply transferred to his own time an early Christian miracle-tale, known to him in literary form, without taking offense at this ψευδός, which obviously belongs to the style; that early Christian story having been on its part taken almost verbally from a heathen motive." Gregory is supposed to have derived indirectly from Augustine—which, we may say in passing, is impossible, since Gregory's story is much closer to Lucian's than Augustine's is. And we may say, also in passing, that there is no proof of the circulation of the story in a written early Christian form, and no justification for representing Augustine as receiving it from any other source than that which he himself expressly indicates—namely the narrative of Curma. Augustine comes out of the affair with his feathers ruffled enough; we need not gratuitously ruffle them more.
With Reitzenstein we pass over from the theologians to the philologists, and the philologists' interest in the matter is absorbed in the formal question of the origin and transmission of the story. It occurs not only in Lucian, but also, in a form less closely related to that in which Augustine and Gregory repeat it, in Plutarch. Like Augustine and Gregory, Plutarch relates it in all seriousness as having happened within his own knowledge to a friend of his own.20 Erwin Rohde21 thinks that Lucian is directly parodying Plutarch's anecdote; L. Radermacher22 pronounces this absurd; and Reitzenstein23 agrees with him in this. All three, on grounds which appear very insufficient, declare the story to have been in popular circulation before even Plutarch, and all would doubtless contend that the Christians picked it up in the first instance from its oral circulation rather than took it over directly from Lucian—which again does not seem clear.
With such matters we have now little concern. Our interest is fixed for the moment on ascertaining the amount of credit which is due to Augustine and Gregory when they tell us marvellous stories. The outstanding fact is that they stake their credit in this instance on a marvellous story which very certainly did not happen. It is not necessary to go the lengths of Reitzenstein and charge Augustine with copying the story out of a book, and attributing it to quite another source than that from which he really derived it, elaborately inventing sponsors for his new story. That is a thing which, we may be sure, could not happen with Augustine; and the explanation of Radermacher that it belongs to the accepted methods of utilizing such materials that the sponsors for the story should, on each new telling, be altered into personages known to the teller, does not remove the difficulty of supposing that this happened with an Augustine. But the trustworthiness of the saints as relaters of marvels is not saved by supposing they were deceived by their informants, even though we could imagine those informants, with Günter, in some absurd fashion to have been self-deceived, and themselves honest in their narratives. Nothing can change the central fact that both Augustine and Gregory report as having happened within their own knowledge an absurd story which a Lucian had already made ridiculous for all the world some centuries before. Clearly their credit is broken, as witnesses of marvellous occurrences. The one fact which stands out in clear light, after all that can be said has been said, is that they were, in the matter of marvellous stories, m the slang phrase, "easy."23a
One of the reasons why we have chosen this particular incident for discussion lies in the illustration which it supplies of the taking over into Christianity of a heathen legend bodily. In this case it is only a little isolated story which is in question. But the process went on on the largest scale. Every religious possession the heathen had, indeed, the Christians, it may be said broadly, transferred to themselves and made their own. As one of the results, the whole body of heathen legends, in one way or another, reproduced themselves on Christian ground. The remarkable studies of the Christian legends which Heinrich Günter has given us,24 enable us to assure ourselves of the fact of this transference, and to observe its process in the large. On sketching the legendary material found in the pagan writers, he exclaims:25 "After this survey it will be seen that there is not much left for the Middle Ages to invent. They only present the same ideas in variations and Christianized forms, and perhaps also expanded on one side or another. There is no doubt as to the agreement of the conceptions." "With the sixth century," he says again,26 "we find the whole ancient system of legends Christianized, not only as anonymous and unlocalized vagrants, but more and more condensed, in a unitary picture, into a logical group of conceptions, and connected with real relations of historical personalities, whose historical figures they overlie. . . . The transference of the legend became now the chief thing, the saint of history gave way to that of the popular desire." "Hellenism — Pythagoreanism — Neo-Platonism — Christian Middle Ages,"—thus he sums up27—"the parallelism of these has made it very clear that the legend in the grotesque forms of a Nicholas Peregrinus or Keivinos or of the Mary legend is not a specifically Christian thing." In one word, what we find, when we cast our eye over the whole body of Christian legends, growing up from the third century down through the Middle Ages, is merely a reproduction, in Christian form, of the motives, and even the very incidents, which already meet us in the legends of heathendom. We do not speak now of the bodily taking over of heathen gods and goddesses and the transformation of them into Christian saints; or of the invention of saints to be the new bearers of locally persisting legends; or of the mere transference to Christianity of entire heathen legends, such as that of Barlaam and Joasaph, which nobody nowadays doubts is just the story of Buddha.28 What we have in mind at the moment is the complete reproduction in the conception-world of the Christian legends of what is already found in the heathen. In this respect the two are precise duplicates. We may still, no doubt, raise the question of the ultimate origin of this conception-world. That, remarks Günter, "is not determined by the fact that it is the common possession of all. In the last analysis," he declares,29 "it has come out of the belief of mankind in the other world. It is scarcely possible now to determine how old it is, or where it originated. The manner in which it flowered, and especially in which it discharged itself into Christianity, however, gives an intimation also of the explanation of its first origin." It is this mass of legends, the Christianized form of the universal product of the human soul, working into concrete shape its sense of the other world, that the church of Rome has taken upon its shoulders. It is not clear that it has added anything of importance to it.30
There is one type of miracle, it is true, which is new to Christianity, though not to the church of Rome; for it was invented by the mediæval church, and has been taken from it with the rest. We refer to stigmatization. The heathen world had no stigmatics; they are a specifically Christian creation,31 deriving their impulse from the contemplation of the wounds of Christ. The first stigmatic known to history is Francis of Assisi.32 After him, however, there have come a great multitude, extending in unbroken series down to our own day. The earliest of these is Catharine of Siena (1370), who, however, possessed the stigmata only inwardly, not in outward manifestation;33 the latest the fame of whom has reached the general public is a certain Gemma Galgani of Lucca, who received the five wounds in 1899, those of the crown of thorns being added in 1900, and of the scourging in 1901—the external signs, in her case too, being subsequently removed in answer to her prayers.34 A. Imbert-Gourbeyre35 has noted 321 instances in all, only 41 of which have been men, along with 280 women; the nineteenth century supplies 29 of his instances. Only 62 of the 321 have received the official recognition of the church in the form of canonization or beatification; and, indeed, it is sometimes hinted that the church is not absolutely committed to the supernatural character of the stigmata in more than two or three instances—in that of Francis of Assisi, of course, and with him perhaps also only in those of Catharine of Siena and Lucie de Narnia.36 A disposition is manifested in some Romanist writers, in fact, to speak with great reserve of the supernaturalness of the stigmata. A. Poulain, who writes the article on the subject in The Catholic Encyclopedia, for example, will not distinctly assert that they are supernatural in origin, but contents himself with declaring that they have not been shown to be natural. Others remind us that37 "the learned pope, Benedict XIV, in his Treatise on the Canonization of the Saints, does not attach capital importance to stigmatization, and does not seek in it a demonstration of sanctity; but himself notes that nature may have some part in it as well as grace"; or that Ignatius Loyola, when "consulted one day about a young stigmatic, responded that the marks described to him might just as well have been the work of the devil as of God."38
The writer of the article on this subject in Migne's Dictionnaire des Prophéties et des Miracles39 seems to speak with Loyola's warning ever in mind, and to be above all things anxious that it should not be forgotten that these stigmatic marks are no safe indicia of supernatural action. He appears almost to bewail the multitudinousness of the instances, lest by it we should be betrayed into confusing the good and the bad. Francis and Catharine, he says, "are in fact the two most ancient examples related by history . . . but since then," he sighs, "how many stigmatics has the world not seen!" "It is a great pity," he goes on to object, "that the ignorance of the people, always benevolent and pious in their judgments, should take for divine favors natural marks resulting from certain maladies which it is scarcely decent even to name, or from the artifices of fraud; and it is a very horrible thing that fraud should have a place in a matter so respectable and so holy." "The Charpy of Troyes," he exclaims, "was stigmatized; the Bucaille of Valogne was stigmatized; Marie Desrollée of Coutance was stigmatized; the Cadière was stigmatized; and how many others besides! We have known of those who have deserved nothing so little as the name of saint which was attached to them by a mocking or a credulous public; there were convulsionnaires of St. Médard who were stigmatized. But let us allow the curtain to fall on these ignoble actors of sacrilegious comedies; the list is neither short nor edifying." If any one wishes to know anything more about the ladies he has just mentioned, he says, let him go where the biographies of such ladies are wont to be found. Meanwhile, speaking of the stigmatics of our own day: "We know personally some of them," he says,40 "and we leave them in the obscurity from which it has not pleased God to draw them. This phenomenon, natural or divine, is not as rare as might be supposed. But natural as it may be in many persons, it sanctifies itself, and divinitizes itself, so to speak, by the use which they" (the feminine "they") "know how to make of it, and the increase of faith, of love divine, of patience, and of Christian resignation which it produces in them" (feminine "them"). "And permit me here a reflection which arises from our subject but is applicable to many others. On the Day of God, who knows all, and who judges all, there will be a great disillusionment for many people who have thought that they recognized the divine cachet where it was not, and for many others who have dared to attempt to efface it where it was." "We have not greatly advanced the question of the stigmata," he confesses in closing,41 ''but if any of our readers, affected by an inclination to attribute all these phenomena to natural causes, has come in the end to doubt this conclusion or to understand that the question is always an individual one, and cannot be resolved in one sense or the other except after examination, and independently of all analogy, we shall not have entirely lost our time." It seems not an unfair paraphrase of this to say that the stigmata are in themselves no signs of the divine action; anybody can have them; but when he who has them is a saint it should be understood that they have been sent him by God. This, however, is obviously to make the saint accredit the stigmata, and not the stigmata the saint. And it clearly removes them out of the category of miraculous manifestations.
Such a cautious method of dealing with the stigmata is certainly justified by the facts of the case. The single circumstance that only ecstatics receive them42 is suggestion enough of their origin in morbid neuroses.43 It is sufficient to read over an account of the phenomena, written by however sympathetic an observer—say, for example, that by Joseph von Görres in his great book on Christian Mysticism44—to feel sure that we are in the presence of pathological phenomena. It is a crime to drag these suffering women into the public eye; and it is a greater crime to implant in their unformed intelligences45 that spiritual pride which leads them to fancy themselves singled out by the Lord for special favors, and even permitted by Him to share His sufferings—nay, to join with Him in bearing the sins of the world. For we do not fully apprehend the place given to stigmatization in the Roman system of thought until we realize that the passion of the stigmatics is not expended in what we call the "imitation of Christ"—the desire to be like Him, and to enter into His sufferings with loving sympathy—but presses on into the daring ambition to take part in His atoning work, and, by receiving the same bodily wounds which He received, to share with Him the saving of the world. "The substance of this grace," explains Aug. Poulain,46 "consists in pity for Christ, participation in His sufferings, sorrows, and for the same end—the expiation of the sins increasingly committed in the world." The matter is expounded fully by G. Dumas, professor of religious psychology at the Sorbonne, in the course of an admirable general discussion of "Stigmatization in the Christian Mystics," printed in the Revue des Deux Mondes for the 1st of May, 1907.47 We avail ourselves of his illuminating statement.
"First of all," says he, "it is scarcely necessary to point out the symbolical and profound sense which all the mystics attach to the very fact of stigmatization.
"To bear the marks of the cross, of the crown of thorns, of the lance, or of the nails is to be thought worthy by Jesus to participate in His sufferings; it is according to the very words of a historian of mysticism, 'to ascend with Him to the Calvary of the crucifixion before mounting with Him the Tabor of the Transfiguration.'48 All the mystics, accordingly, suffer violent pains in their stigmata, and they hold these pains to be the essential part of their stigmatization, without which their visible stigmata would be in their eyes only an empty decoration. They experience under the cross, under the crown, under the nails, under the lance the same sufferings as Jesus; they really languish and die with Him; they participate in His passion with all the force of their nerves. We have seen Francis and Veronica suffer in their ecstasies all the pains of the crucifixion; they all do this. Catherine de Ruconisio experienced violent pains under the crown of blood which she let John Francis de la Mirandola see; Archangelica Tardera seemed at the point of rendering up her soul during the scene of her flagellation; and Catherine de' Ricci, on coming out of the swoon in which she was marked, 'appeared to her associates so wasted and so livid that she looked to them like a living corpse.'
"In suffering thus the mystics persuade themselves not only that they draw near to Jesus, but that they are admitted by a kind of divine grace to perpetuate the sacrifice of their God, to expiate like Him sins of which they are personally innocent. These sharp pains of the thorns, these piercing sufferings of the nails and of the lance, are not, in their minds, pains lost for men; they redeem sins, they constitute pledges of salvation, they are for them the religious and metaphysical form of charity. 'These reparative souls which recommence the terrors of Calvary,' says a contemporary mystic,49 'these souls who nail themselves in the empty place of Jesus on the cross, are therefore in some sort express images of the Son; they reflect in a bloody mirror His poor face; they do more: they give to this Almighty God the only thing which He yet lacks, the possibility of still suffering for us; they satiate this desire which has survived His death, since it is infinite like the love which engenders it.' The stigmata are for these new crucified ones the external notification of their transformation into Jesus Christ; they proclaim that Archangelica Tardera, that Veronica Giuliani, that Catherine de' Ricci are so like to their God that they succeed Him in His sufferings; they are the visible seals of their sanctity."
The connection of stigmatization with such doctrine is the sufficient proof that it is not from God.50
It is often urged in defense of the miraculousness of the stigmata that they have not yet been exactly reproduced in the laboratories.51 It is not clear why a phenomenon so obviously pathological, and in many instances confessedly pathological, should be pronounced miraculous in others of its instances merely because the imitation of it produced in the laboratories is not exact. If, however, the precise thing has not been produced in the laboratories, something so like it has been that it is made quite clear that external suggestion is capable of producing phenomena of the same general order. William James may be appealed to to tell us the general state of the case. "I may say," writes he,52 "that there seems no reasonable ground for doubting that in certain chosen subjects the suggestion of a congestion, a burn, a blister, a raised papule, or a bleeding from the nose or skin may produce the effect." "Messrs. Delbœuf and Liégeois have annulled by suggestion, one the effects of a burn, the other of a blister." Delbœuf "applied the actual cautery (as well as vesicants) to symmetrical places on the skin, affirming that no pain should be felt on one of the sides. The result was a dry scorch on that side, with (as he assures me) no after-mark, but on the other side a regular blister, with suppuration and a subsequent scar. This explains the innocuity of certain assaults made on subjects during trance. . . . These irritations, when not felt by the subject, seem to have no after-consequences. One is reminded of the non-inflammatory character of the wounds made on themselves by dervishes in their pious orgies. On the other hand, the reddenings and bleedings of the skin along certain lines, suggested by tracing lines or pressing objects thereupon, put the accounts handed down to us of the stigmata of the cross appearing on the hands, feet, side, and forehead of certain Catholic mystics in a new light."
Certainly the effects produced by external suggestion in the laboratories are very remarkable, and cannot fail to lead the mind in the direction of a natural explanation of the stigmata. When we see Doctor Rybalkin of St. Petersburg, by a mere command, produce a bad burn, which blisters and breaks and scabs, and slowly heals like any other bum; or Doctor Biggs of Santa Barbara a red cross on the chest which appears every Friday and disappears for the other days of the week;53 we acquire a new sense of the extent of the possible action of the mind upon the body, and may perhaps begin to understand what can be meant when it is said:54 "That I should be able to hold my pen because I wish to do it, is ultimately just as great a mystery as that I should develop stigmata from meditating on the Crucifixion." To do them justice, there were not wanting Catholic writers before the days of this new experimentation who had more than a glimpse of the producing cause of the stigmata. Francesco Petrarch felt no doubt that Francis' stigmata were from God, but neither had he any doubt—he says so himself, when writing, be it observed, to a physician—that they were actually produced by the forces of his own mind working on his body. "Beyond all doubt, the stigmata of St. Francis," he writes,55 "had the following origin: he attached himself to the death of Christ with such strong meditations that he reproduced it in his mind, saw himself crucified with his Master, and finished by actualizing in his body the pious representations of his soul." Even Francis de Sales, though of course absolutely sure that the ultimate account of Francis' stigmata is that they represented "that admirable communication which the sweet Jesus made him, of His loving and precious pains," yet works out the actual mechanism of their production in elaborate but healthful naturalism. "This soul, then," he says,56 "so mollified, softened, and almost melted away in this loving pain, was thereby extremely disposed to receive the impressions and marks of the love and pain of its sovereign Lover; for the memory was quite steeped in the remembrance of this divine love, the imagination strongly applied to represent to itself the wounds and bruises which the eyes there beheld so perfectly expressed in the image before them, the understanding received the intensely vivid images which the imagination furnished it with; and finally, love employed all the forces of the will to enter into and conform itself to the passion of the Well-Beloved; whence no doubt the soul found itself transformed into a second crucifixion. Now the soul, as form and mistress of the body, making use of its power over it, imprinted the pains of the wounds by which it was wounded in the parts corresponding to those in which its God had endured them."57
With all its three hundred and more examples, however, it is, after all, a small place which stigmatization takes in the wonder-life of the church of Rome. The centre about which this life revolves lies, rather, in the veneration of relics, which was in a very definite sense a derivation from heathenism. Hippolyte Delehaye, it is true, puts in a protest here. ''The cult of the saints," says he,58 "did not issue from the cult of the heroes, but from the cult of the martyrs; and the honors paid to them from the beginning and by the first Christian generations which had known the baptism of blood, are a direct consequence of the eminent dignity of the witnesses of Christ which Christ himself proclaimed. From the respect with which their mortal remains were surrounded, and from the confidence of Christians in their intercession, there proceeded the cult of relics with all its manifestations, with its exaggerations, alas! only too natural, and, why should we not say it? with its excesses, which have sometimes compromised the memory which it was wished to honor." These remarks, however, do not quite reach the point. What is asserted is not that the Christians took the heathen heroes over into their worship, though there were heathen heroes whom the Christians did take over into their worship. Neither is it that they continued unbrokenly at the tombs of these heroes the heathen rites which they were accustomed to celebrate there, only substituting another name as the object venerated. It is that under the influence of these old habits of thought and action they created for themselves a new set of heroes, Christian heroes, called saints, and developed with respect to their relics a set of superstitious practices which reproduced in all their essential traits those to which they had been accustomed with respect to the relics of the heathen heroes. There is certainly a true sense in which the saints are the successors of the gods,59 and the whole body of superstitious practices which cluster around the cult of relics is a development in Christian circles of usages which parallel very closely those of the old heathenism.60 The very things which Delehaye enumerates as the sources of the later cult of the saints and the veneration of their relics—the cult of the martyrs, the honor rendered to their remains, the confidence of Christians in their intercession—are themselves already abuses due to the projection into the Christian church of heathen habitudes and the natural imitation of heathen example.
There are no doubt differences to be traced between the Christian and the heathen cult of relics. And these differences are not always to the advantage of the Christians. There is the matter of the partition of relics, for example, and the roaring trade which, partly in consequence of this, has from time to time been driven in them. The ancient world knew nothing of these horrors. In it the sentiment of reverence for the dead determined all its conduct toward relics. Christians seem to have been inspired rather with eagerness to reap the fullest possible benefit from their saints; and, reasoning that when a body is filled with supernatural power every part of the body partakes of this power, they broke the bodies up into fragments and distributed them far and wide.61 The insatiable lust to secure such valuable possessions begot in those who trafficked in them a callous rapacity which traded on the ignorance and superstition of the purchasers. The world was filled with false relics,62 of which, however, this is to be said—that they worked as well as the true.63 So highly was the mere possession of relics esteemed that the manner of their acquisition was condoned in the satisfaction of having them. Theft was freely resorted to—it was called furtum laudabile;64 and violent robbery was not unknown—and that with (so it was said) the manifest approval of God. St. Maximinus, bishop of Trèves, died at Poitiers (of which town he was a native) on a journey to Rome, and very naturally was buried there. But the inhabitants of Trèves wished their bishop for themselves, and stole him out of the church at Poitiers. When the Aquitanians pursued the thieves, heaven intervened and drove them back home, not without disgrace, while the thieves were left scathless,65 and furthered on their journey.
All sorts of irreverent absurdities naturally found their way into the collections of relics, through an inflamed craving for the merely marvellous. The height of the absurd seems already to be reached when we read in Pausanias that in the shrine of ''the daughters of Leucippus," at Sparta, the egg which Leda laid was to be seen.66 The absurdity is equally great, however, when we hear of the Christians preserving feathers dropped from the wings of Gabriel when he came to announce to Mary the birth of Jesus; and it is only covered from sight by the shock given by the irreverence of it, when we read of pilgrim monks boasting of having seen at Jerusalem the finger of the Holy Spirit.67 Any ordinary sense of the ridiculous, however, should be sufficiently satisfied by the solemn exhibition in the church of Saints Cosmas and Damien at Rome of a "vial of the milk of the Blessed Virgin Mary." But Ossa is piled on Pelion when we learn that this is far from the only specimen of Mary's milk which is to be seen in the churches. Several churches in Rome have specimens, and many in France—at Evron, and Soulac, and Mans, and Reims, and Poitiers, and St. Denis, and Bouillac, and the Sainte Chapelle at Paris; the Cathedral of Soissons has two samples of it; and the Cathedral at Chartres three. Then there is some more at Toledo and at the convent of St. Peter d'Arlanza in Spain, and of course in other countries as well. We are fairly astonished at the amount of it.68
This astonishment is only partly relieved when we are told that not all of this milk need be that with which the Virgin nourished her divine Son. The Virgin, it seems, has been accustomed all through the ages to give nourishment to her children in their times of deadly need, and even her statues and paintings may, on occasion, supply it,69 We are here in contact with a wide-spread legend of mystical nourishment which was current toward the end of the Middle Ages. "Mary was looked upon," as Yrjö Hirn explains,70 "not as an individual human being, but as an incarnation of an eternal principle which had exercised its power long before it became embodied in the figure of a Jewish girl. The Madonna's motherly care had previously been directed to all the faithful, who had been fed by her 'milk' in the same way as the Child of Bethlehem. In Mechthild's revelations it is even expressly said that the Madonna suckled the prophets before Christ descended into the world. Later, she fed, during His childhood, 'the Son of God and all of us,' and when He was full-grown she offered her milk to the Christian Church. All friends of God could get strength at her bosom. 'Eja, damach sollen wir bekennen—Die Milch und auch die Brüste—Die Jesus so oft küsste.'"71 There is symbolism here, but not mere symbohsm. Therefore Hirn continues:72 "There is no question of symbolism when, in the miracle-histories, it is related that the Madonna cured pious individuals with her healing milk.73 It is also told of some holy men that they were quite literally refreshed by Mary's breast. The pious Suso relates without reserve, and in a description of great detail, how he tasted 'den himmlischen Trunk';74 and Bernard of Clairvaux, who merited the Virgin's gratitude more than any other man, was rewarded for all his panegyrics and poems by Mary visiting him in his cell and letting his lips be moistened by the food of the heavenly Child."75 "Thus," explains Heinrich Günter,76 following out the same theme, "in the age of the Mary-legend, the Virgin also had to become a miraculous nourisher, and that—in accordance with the exaggerated imagination of the times—with her own milk. A monk gets sick; mouth and throat are so swollen that he can take no nourishment; the brethren expect the end. Then Mary appears—visible only to the sick man—and gives him her breast and announces to him his early recovery. Among the mystical women of the convent of Töf the same thing happened to Sister Adelheit of Frauenberg; she narrates it herself: Mary says to her . . . '"I will fulfil your desire and will give you to drink of the milk with which I suckled my holy Child," and she put her pure, soft breast into my mouth; and when this unspeakable sweetness was done to me I was on the point of weeping.'"
As Mary, although the chief, is not the only sustainer of God's people, so, in the incredible materialism of mediæval thought, it is not she alone whose milk has been given to succor them in their extremities. One and another of the saints, without careful regard to sex, have been recorded as performing the same service. Lacking another, Christina Mirabilis was fed from her own virgin breast.77 Even the veins of saints, in token of their functions as sustainers of God's people, have flowed with milk as well as with blood.78 This was the case, for example, with Pantaleon, and there was preserved in Constantinople a vessel containing the combined blood and milk which had issued from his martyred body. "Every year," we read,79 "they changed places; when 'once in our time, under the Emperor Michael (that is, Paleologus, 1259-82), the blood remained on top, it was a year filled with troubles.'" Pantaleon was a great saint, and his preserved blood even acted as a palladium, giving oracles of weal or woe to the fortunate cities which possessed it. As soon as the famous liquefying blood of Januarius appeared at Naples, Günter tells us, "the blood of Pantaleon, too, all at once spread over all Italy, everywhere exhibiting the same quality—in Naples itself in three churches, in Ravello, Bari, Vallicella, Lucca, Venice—without San Gennaro, however, suffering in the least by the concurrence." The celebrated miracle of the liquefaction of the blood of Januarius is not then unexampled. In the single Church of the Holy Apostles at Rome you may see the perpetually liquid blood of St. James the Less, and the miraculous blood of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, which exudes from his arms whenever they are separated from his body. And at the near-by nunnery of St. Cyriacus, where Cyriacus's head is kept, that head has been said, since the time of Gregory IX (1241), to have become red with blood on the anniversary of the martyr's death, and the reliquary to have become moist.80 Of all the miracles of this kind, however, the liquefaction of Januarius's blood is the most famous. It is exhibited annually at Naples, on the day of the saint's festival. Günter speaks of it with the prudence which becomes a historian who is also a Catholic. "A problem before which criticism is compelled to pause," says he.81 "The fact is assured; the explanation is not yet discovered. The historian may content himself with registering that the blood-miracle first appears suddenly in the late Middle Ages, and that an older notice of a Neapolitan miraculous vial exists, which the popular belief brought into connection, however, with the magician Vergil." This vial enclosed in it an image of the city, and it was believed that so long as the vial remained intact, so would the city. It was esteemed, in other words, as the palladium of the city, as the vial of Januarius now is.
Relics, however, have not been venerated for naught, and it is not merely such spectacular miracles which have made them the object of the eager regard which is paid them. As Pfister puts it:81a "The basis of the Christian cult of relics, as in the case of the antique cult, lies in the belief that the men whose remains are honored after their death, were in their lifetime filled with special power by virtue of which they were in position to work extraordinary things: then, that this power still filled their remains, in the first instance, of course, their bodily remains, but, after that, all that had come into contact with the deceased." It was because much was hoped from these relics that they were cherished and honored; and since mankind suffers most from bodily ills the relics have naturally been honored above everything else as instruments through which bodily relief and bodily benefit may be obtained. Günter can write,82 no doubt: ''In the times of the inventions and translations of the relics there were naturally innumerable relic-miracles promulgated. It was not only that the 'blind saw, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, the deaf heard, and the dead were raised,' when they were brought to the graves of the saints; the sanctuaries and healing shrines had something greater still in the incorruptibility of the bodies of the saints,83 or of their severed limbs, or in astonishing manifestations of power and life of other kinds. Gregory's Gloria martyrum and Gloria confessorum, and the activity of the miraculous goldsmith of Limoges, and of the later bishop of Noyon, Eligius, served almost exclusively to glorify the graves of the saints. Eligius was endowed from heaven especially for the discovery of relics. He himself, when his grave was opened a year after his death (December I, 660) was wholly uncorrupted, just as if he were yet alive; beard and hair, which according to custom had been shaved, had grown again." But Günter requires to add: "It is in their power to help (Hilfsmacht) that, on the basis of old experiences, the significance of the graves of the saints for the people still lies, down to to-day." In point of fact the great majority of the miracles of healing which have been wrought throughout the history of the church, have been wrought through the agency of relics.84 Not merely the actual graves of the saints, but equally any places where fragments of their bodies, however minute, have been preserved, have become healing shrines, to many of which pilgrims have flocked in immense numbers, often from great distances, and from which there have spread through the world innumerable stories of the most amazing cures, and even of the restoration of the dead to life. We are here at the very centre of the miracle-life of the church of Rome.85
We have pointed out the affiliation of this whole development of relic-veneration with heathenism. We are afraid that, as we survey its details, the even uglier word, fetichism, rises unbidden to our lips: and when we find J. A. MacCulloch, for example, writing of miracles at large, speaking incidentally of "the use of relics" as "at bottom a species of fetichism,"86 we cannot gainsay the characterization.87 Heinrich, naturally, repels such characterizations. There is no heathenism, fetichism, in the cult of relics, he insists,88 because that cult is relative, and that with a double relativity. "Our cult terminates really on God, whom we venerate in the saints," he says, "and thus the cult becomes actually a religious one; it is a relative cult in a double relation: it does not stop with the relics but proceeds to the saints; it does not stop with the saints but proceeds to God Himself." We are afraid, however, that this reasoning will not go on all fours with Heinrich's fundamental argument for the propriety of venerating relics. "The veneration of the saint," he argues,89 "terminates on the person as the total object, more particularly, of course, on the soul than on the body; for the formal object, that is, the ground of the veneration, is the spiritual excellences of the saint. . . . But during life the body also shares in the veneration of the person to which it belongs. It must, therefore, be esteemed holy also after death; the veneration always terminates on the person." We may miss the logical nexus here; it may not seem to us to follow that, because the body shared in the veneration offered to the saint while it was part of the living person, it ought therefore—Heinrich actually says "therefore"—to share in this veneration when it is no longer a part of the living person—any more than, say, the exuviæ during life, which, however, the relic-worshippers, it must be confessed, do make share in it. But Heinrich not only professes to see this logical nexus, but hangs the whole case for the propriety of the veneration of relics upon it. In that case, however, the veneration of the relic is not purely relative; there is something in the relic as such which calls for reverence. It is not merely a symbol through which the saint, now separated from it, is approached, but a part of the saint, though an inferior part, in which the saint is immediately reached. "The Christian," says Heinrich himself,90 "recognizes in the body of the martyr, of the saint, more than a mere instrument of the soul; it is, as our faith teaches us, the temple of the Holy Ghost; it was the sacred vessel of grace in life; it is to be glorified in unity again with the glorified soul." Such scholastic distinctions as that between direct and relative worship—like that between doulia, hyperdoulia, and latria—are, in any event, matters purely for the schools. They have no real meaning for the actual transactions, and nothing can be more certain than that throughout the Catholic world the relics, as the saints, have been continuously looked upon by the actual worshippers, seeking benefits from them, as themselves the vehicles of a supernatural power of which they may hopefully avail themselves.91
We have said that relics stand at the centre of the miracle-life of the church of Rome, Many are prepared to go further. Yrjö Hirn, for example, wishes to say that they stand at the centre of the whole religious life of the church of Rome. He does not mean by this merely that all Catholic religious life and thought centre in and revolve around the miraculous. This is true. The world-view of the Catholic is one all his own, and is very expressly a miraculous one. He reckons with the miraculous in every act; miracle suggests itself to him as a natural explanation of every event; and nothing seems too strange to him to be true.92 It is a correct picture which a recent writer draws when he says:93 "The really pious Catholic has a peculiar passion for miracles. The extremely numerous accounts of miraculous healings, not alone at Lourdes; the multiplied promises, especially in the little Prayer and Pilgrim Books, of physical healing of the sick in reward for many offered prayers and petitions; the enormous credulity of the Catholic people, as it is revealed to us in the Leo Taxil swindle—all this manifests a disposition for miracle-seeking which is altogether unaffected by the modem scientific axiom of the conformity of the course of nature to law." To say that relics lie at the centre of the miracle-life of Catholicism is not far from saying that they lie at the centre of the Catholic religious life; for the religious life of Catholicism and its miracle-life are very much one. Hirn is thinking here,94 however, particularly of the organization of Catholic worship; and what he sees, or thinks he sees, is that the entirety of Catholic worship is so organized as to gather really around the relic-chest. For the altar, as it has developed in the Roman ritual, has become, he says, in the process of the years, the coffin enclosing the bones of a saint; and that is the fundamental reason why the rule has long been in force that every altar shall contain a relic,95 and that a Gregory of Tours, for example, when speaking of the altar can call it, not "ara" or "altare," but "arca," that is to say, box or ark. Catholic piety, thus expressing itself in worship, has found its centre in a sealed case; for the table for the mass is not a piece of furniture which has been placed in a building, but a nucleus around which the building has been formed, and the table for the mass has become nothing more or less than "a chest which guards the precious relics of a saint." Thus, "the ideas connected with the abode of the dead remain for all time bound up with the church's principal place of worship." "Saint-worship has little by little mingled with the mass-ritual, and the mass-table itself has been finally transformed into a saint's shrine."96
Enthroned though it thus be at the centre of the miracle-life, and with it of the religious life, of the church of Rome,97 the cult of relics, nevertheless, does not absorb into itself the entirety of either the one or the other. It has one rival which shares with it even its central position, and in our own day threatens to relegate it, in some sections of the Catholic world at least, to the background. This is the cult of the Virgin Mary, whose legend has incorporated into itself all other legends,98 and whose power eclipses and seems sometimes almost on the point of superseding all other powers. There is a sense in which it may almost be said that the saints have had their day and the future belongs to Mary. It is to her, full of grace, Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life, our Sweetness, our Hope,99 that men now call for relief in all their distresses, and it is to her shrines that the great pilgrim-bands of the afflicted now turn their steps.100 These shrines are not ordinarily relic-shrines. Mary had her "assumption" as her divine Son had His "ascension"; she has left behind her no grave, no body, no bodily parts to be distributed severally through the earth. Her relics consist exclusively of external things: of her hair, her milk, the clothes she wore, the house she dwelt in. They have had their part to play—a very great part—in the history of the relic-cult and of pilgrimages; as have also miraculous images of her. But the chief source of the newer shrines of Mary which have been founded one after another in these latter days, and have become one after another the goal of extensive pilgrimages and the seat of innumerable miracles of healing, has been a series of apparitions of Mary, which have followed one another with bewildering rapidity until they have almost seemed to become epidemic in France at least—in France, because France is the land of Mary as Italy is the land of the saints.
Let us put side by side these four apparitions: La Salette (1846), where the Virgin appeared as a "beautiful lady" to two shepherd children, a girl and boy, aged respectively fifteen and eleven; Lourdes (1858), where she appeared as "a girl in white, no bigger than me," to a little country-bred girl of fourteen; Pellevoisin (1876), where she appeared as "the Mother All-Merciful" to an ill serving-maid; Le Pontinet (1889), where she appeared as the Queen of Heaven, first to a little country girl of eleven, and then to a considerable number of others infected by her example. The last of these was disallowed by the ecclesiastical authorities, and has had no wide-spread effects.101 The other three are woven together in the popular fancy into a single rich chaplet for Mary's brow. "Each of the series of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in this century," we read in a popular article published in the early nineties,102 "bears a distinct character. At La Salette Mary appeared in sorrow, and displaying the instruments of the Passion on her heart; at Lourdes, with a gold and white rosary in her hands, and with golden roses on her feet, she smiled at the child Bernadette; at Pellevoisin she appeared in a halo of light, surrounded by a garland of roses, and wearing on her breast the scapular of the Sacred Heart." In each instance a new cult has been inaugurated, a new shrine set up, a new pilgrimage put on foot with the highest enthusiasm of devotion, and with immense results in miracles of healing—all of which accrue to the glory of Mary, the All-Merciful Mother of God.103
Among these apparitions, that at Lourdes easily takes the first place in point of historical importance. "Undoubtedly the greatest stimulus to Marian devotion in recent times," writes Herbert Thurston,104 "has been afforded by the apparition of the Blessed Virgin in 1858 at Lourdes, and in the numberless supernatural favors granted to pilgrims both there and at other shrines that derive from it." No doubt the way was prepared for this effect by previous apparitions of similar character, at La Salette, for example, and perhaps above all by those to Zoe Labouré (Sister Catherine in religion) in 1836, the external symbol of which was the famous "Miraculous Medal," which has wrought wonders in the hands of the Sisters of Charity.105 And no doubt the impetus given by Lourdes has been reinforced by similar movements which have come after it, as, for example, by that growing out of the apparitions at Pellevoisin—whose panegyrists, however, praise it significantly only as "a second Lourdes." Meanwhile, it is Lourdes which occupies the proud position of the greatest shrine of miraculous healing in the world. We may predict the fading of its glory in the future, as the glory of other healing shrines in the past has faded. But there is nothing apparent to sustain this prediction beyond this bare analogy. We fear it is only the wish which has fathered the thought, when we find it put into somewhat exaggerated language by a French medical writer, thus:106 "Let us see what has happened during a century only, in the most venerated sanctuaries of France. No more miracles at Chartres! Insignificant miracles at Notre Dame de Fourvières at Lyons. La Salette, incapable of the smallest cure, after having shone with an incomparable lustre. Paray-le-monial become useless in spite of the chemise of Marie Alacoque. To-day it is Lourdes which is the religious vogue; it is to Lourdes that the crowds demanding miracles go—waiting for Lourdes to disappear like the other shrines, when the faith of believers gradually fades like the flame of a candle coming to an end."
It must be admitted that the beginnings of Lourdes were not such as might have been expected of a great miraculous agency entering the world. It is possible to say, it is true, that they were better than has been the case in some similar instances. Bernadette Soubirous seems to have been a good child, and she seems to have grown into a good, if a somewhat colorless, not to say weak, and certainly very diseased, woman. The scandals of La Salette did not repeat themselves in her case.107 And perhaps she cannot be spoken of with the same energy as ''the little seer" of Le Pontinet, as the child of degenerated parents, weighted with the burden of bad heredity.108 But it is a matter only of degree. Bernadette's parentage was not of the best omen; in her person she was, if not a degenerate, yet certainly a defective. It is of such that the Virgin apparently avails herself in her visions.109 Nor does the vision itself reassure us. "The figure seen was one which, by the admission, we believe, of the Catholic clergy themselves, has been often reported as seen, mainly by young girls, under circumstances when no objective value whatever could be attributed to the apparition."110 The communications made by the heavenly visitant, one would prefer to believe the dreams of the defective child. "As the times, so the saints," remarks Heinrich Günter,111 with a very obvious meaning; and it may be added with an equally direct meaning: As the saints so the messages. Doctor Boissarie, it is true, seeks to forestall criticism by boldly affirming that the message given to Bernadette was lofty beyond the possibility of her invention:112 "The name of the Virgin, the words which she uttered—all is out of proportion to the percipient's intelligence. Remembering the formal principle, admitted by all authorities, 'A hallucination is never more than a reminiscence of a sensation already perceived,' it is evident that the intelligence and the memory of Bernadette could never have received the image or heard the echo of what she received and heard at the grotto." To which the Messrs. Myers very properly respond:113 "Doctor Boissarie does not tell us whether it is the divine command to kiss the earth for sinners, or the divine command to eat grass, which is beyond the intelligence of a simple child. He dwells only on the phrase, 'I am the Immaculate Conception'; and we may indeed admit that this particular mode of reproducing the probably often heard statement that the Virgin was conceived without sin does indicate a mind which is either supra or infra grammaticam." The plain fact is that the communications attributed to the Virgin are silly with the silliness of a backward child, repeating, without in the least comprehending their meaning, phrases with which the air was palpitant; it was in 1854 that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was proclaimed in circumstances which shook the whole Catholic world with emotional tremors, some waves of which could not have failed to reach even Bernadette. The immense success of Lourdes as a place of pilgrimage has been achieved in spite of the meanness of its origin, and is to be attributed to the skill with which it has been exploited. Under this exploitation, it has distanced all its rivals, superseded all its predecessors, and has ended by becoming the greatest healing shrine in the world, counting the pilgrims who annually resort to it by the hundreds of thousands, and now even, so we are told, by the million.114
We cannot doubt that it is a true picture of Lourdes in its total manifestation, which is given by Émile Zola in his great novel.115 He describes the colossal national pilgrimage which gathers there each August in an epic of human suffering. Looked at thus, it is a most moving spectacle. "It is difficult to remain strictly philosophical," writes an English physician after witnessing the scene;116 "impossible to be coarsely sceptical in that strange assembly. Hard indeed would be the heart of any medical man which could remain unmoved by the sight which met my eyes that day. At no other spot in the wide world could the faculty behold at a glance so many of its failures. . . . Out of the thousands of pilgrims I could detect but few who were evidently of the poorest class; for the most part they were of the upper middle classes or, at least, well-to-do. . . . Surely so much misery has at no other spot been focussed in so small a space." It is, indeed, an "army of incurables" which gathers every year to Lourdes, driven to their last recourse. But of course not all the enormous masses of pilgrims are seeking healing. Lourdes does not register her failures; the proportion of her pilgrims who are seeking healing, the proportion of those seeking healing who are healed, can only be guessed. The late Monsignor R. H. Benson, speaking of the great masses of the national pilgrimage, says, no doubt somewhat loosely:117 "Hardly one in a thousand of these come to be cured of any sickness." During the twenty years from 1888 to 1907, inclusive, the whole number of cures recorded was 2,665,118 which yields a yearly average of about 133.119 It is generally understood that about 90 per cent of those seeking cure go away unbenefited,120 and this would lead us to suppose that between 1300 and 1400 seek healing at Lourdes annually. Georges Bertrin tells us121 that up to 1908—the fiftieth anniversary of the vision—some 10,000,000 of pilgrims had visited Lourdes, and that the whole number of cures, "whether partial or complete," registered during that time was 3,962. He thinks that nearly as many more may have been wrought but not registered; let us say, then, that there may have been some 8,000 cures in all during this half-century —"whether partial or complete." Absolutely this is a great number; but proportionately to the numbers of pilgrims, not very large: about one cure being registered to every 2,500 visitors, not more than one cure to every 1,250 visitors being even conjecturable. How many failures stand over against these 4,000 to 8,000 cures we have no means of estimating; but if the proportion of 90 per cent seeking cure be right, they would mount to the great number of some 50,000. The heart sinks when it contemplates this enormous mass of disappointment and despair.122
There are certain other circumstances connected with the cures of Lourdes, which, on the supposition of their miraculousness, evoke some surprise. The Bureau of Constatation exhibits at times a certain shyness of expecting too much of a miracle—a shyness quite absent, it is true, on other occasions, when, as it appears, anything could be expected. We read,123 for example, of a case of apparent hip-disease, and it was said that one leg had been seven centimetres shorter than the other; while now, after the cure, "the legs were of an exactly equal length." The cure was not admitted to registry, but was referred back for further investigation. "The doctors shook their heads considerably over the seven centimetres"; "seven centimetres was almost too large a measure to be believed." Why—if it was a miracle? And, after all, would the prolongation of a leg by seven centimetres be any more miraculous than the prolongation of it by six—or by one? Stress is sometimes laid on the instantaneousness124 of the cures as proof of their miraculousness. But they are not all instantaneous. We read repeatedly in the records of slow and gradual cures: "At the second bath she began to improve"; "at the fourth bath the cure was complete."125 Indeed the cures are not always ever completed. Gabriel Gargam, for example, one of Bertrin's crucial cases, he tells us,126 "bears a slight trace of his old infirmity as the guarantee of its erstwhile existence. He feels a certain weakness in his back at the spot where Doctor Tessier supposed that a vertebra was pressing on the medulla." Similarly in the case of Madame Rouchel, a case of facial lupus, and another of Bertrin's crucial cases, "a slight ulceration of the inside of the upper lip," he says,127 "remained after the cure." These cases are not exceptional: Bertrin informs us128 that it is quite common for traces of the infirmity to remain. He even discovers the rationale of this. It keeps the cured person in grateful memory of the benefit received.129 And it is even a valuable proof that the cure is truly miraculous. For, do you not see?130 "had the disease been nervous and functional, and not organic, everything would have disappeared; all the functions being repaired, the disease would not have left any special trace." This reasoning is matched by that into which Bertrin is betrayed when made by the physicians of Metz—Madame Rouchel's home—really to face the question whether she had been cured at all. They pointed out that the lip was imperfectly healed. Bertrin cries out131 that the ''question was not whether a slight inflammation of the lip remained, but whether the two perforations which had existed in the cheek and roof of the mouth before going to Lourdes had been suddenly closed on Saturday, September 6." The physicians point out inexorably that this is to reverse the value of the symptoms and to mistake the nature of their producing causes, and record the two findings: (1) that the lupus was not healed; (2) that the closing of the two fistulas in twelve days was not extraordinary. This celebrated case thus passes into the category of a scandal.132
It must remain astonishing, in any event, that miracles should be frequently incomplete. We should a priori expect miraculous cures to be regularly radical. No doubt we are not judges beforehand how God should work. But it is not wrong, when we are asked to infer from the very nature of an effect that it is the immediate work of God, that we should be disturbed by circumstances in its nature which do not obviously point to God as the actor. The reasons which Bertrin presents for the imperfections in the effects do not remove this difficulty. They bear the appearance of "covering reasons"—inventions to remove offenses. After all is said and done, it is mere paradox to represent the imperfections in the cures as evidences of the divine action. We may expect imperfections to show themselves in the products of second causes; we naturally expect perfection in the immediate operations of the First Cause. Bertrin strikes back somewhat waspishly when Zola makes one of the physicians at the Bureau of Constatation ask "with extreme politeness," why the Virgin contented herself with healing a sore on a child's foot, leaving an ugly scar, and had not given it a brand-new foot while she was about it—since "this would assuredly have given her no more trouble." Here, too, Bertrin says133 that the scar was left that it might be a standing proof of the reality and greatness of the miracle of healing that had been wrought, and adds, somewhat unexpectedly it must be confessed at this point, that whatever God does, He does well. Whatever God does. He certainly does well; and it assuredly is our part only to endeavor to understand His ways. But when the question is, Did God do it? we are not unnaturally puzzled if it does not seem obvious that what He is affirmed to have done, has been well done. The physician's question was not foolish. It was the perhaps not quite bland expression of a natural wonder—wonder at the limitations which show themselves in these alleged miracles. Why, after all, should miracles show limitations?134
We are far from wishing to suggest that the cures at Lourdes are not in the main real cures. We should be glad to believe that the whole of the four to eight thousand which are alleged to have taken place there, have been real cures, and that this great host of sufferers have been freed from their miseries. Probably no one doubts that cures are made at Lourdes; any more than men doubt that similar cures have from the beginning of the world been made in similar conditions elsewhere—as of old in the temples of Asclepius, for example, and to-day at the hands of the Christian Scientists. So little is it customary to deny that cures are made at Lourdes that even free-thinking French physicians are accustomed to send patients there. Doctor Maurice de Fleury in his much-admired book. La Médecine de l'Esprit,135 writes: "The faith that heals is only suggestion; that makes no difference, since it heals. There is no one of us who has not sent some sick woman to Lourdes, expecting her to return well." The same in effect is said by Charcot,136 Dubois,137 even the polemic Rouby. Rouby even goes to the length of pointing out a function which Lourdes, according to him, may serve in the advance of medical science. "Lourdes has not been without its value to contemporary physicians," he writes;138 "they have had in it a great field for the study of hysterosis, which a large number of them have misunderstood or only partially understood. Lourdes has put neurosis before them in a striking way. Those of our colleagues who have written into their certificates a diagnosis of incurability, have been profoundly disturbed when they saw their patients return cured; and those of them who have not believed in a miraculous cure have asked themselves the true account of these cures. They have come into actual touch at Lourdes with what they had read in their treatises on various diseases. They have learned what hysterosis really is, and what a great role it has played and will play still in the production of miracles; and they will sign no more certificates on which the Bureau of Constatation can depend for establishing the miraculous character of cures. This ignorance of hysterosis on the part of physicians, which has more than anything else made the fortune of the pilgrimage, will, it is to be hoped, no longer exist."139
Lourdes, naturally, repudiates this classification of her cures, and claims a place apart. She points to the unexampled multitude of cures wrought by her; she points to their intrinsic marvellousness. The great number of cures wrought at Lourdes is not due, however, to any peculiarity in the curative power which she possesses, but to the excellence of its exploitation. It will hardly be contended that her patients are miraculously brought to Lourdes. That the power by which her cures are wrought differs intrinsically from that at work elsewhere is not obvious. To all appearance, all these cures are the same in kind and are the products of the same forces set in action after essentially the same fashion. These forces are commonly summed up, in large part at least, under the somewhat vague term "suggestion." The term is, perhaps, not a very good one for the particular circumstances, and must be understood when used in this connection in a very wide sense. It means at bottom that the immediate curative agency is found in mental states induced in the patient, powerfully reacting, under the impulse of high exaltation, on his bodily functioning.140 With his eye precisely on Lourdes, J. M. Charcot sketches with a few bold strokes the working of this suggestion in the mind of the patient. "In a general way," he says,141 "the faith-cure does not develop the whole of its healing force spontaneously. If an invalid hears a report that miraculous cures take place in such and such a shrine, it is very rarely that he fields to the temptation to go there at once. A thousand material difficulties stand, at least temporarily, in the way of his moving; it is no light matter for a paralytic or a blind man, however well off he be, to start on a long journey. He questions his friends; he demands circumstantial accounts of the wonderful cures of which rumor has spoken. He receives nothing but encouragement, not only from his immediate surroundings, but often even from his doctor, who is unwilling to deprive his patient of his last hope, especially if he believes his malady to be amenable to the faith-cure—a remedy which he has not dared to prescribe himself. Besides, the only effect of contradiction would be to heighten the patient's belief in a miraculous cure. The faith-cure is now born, and it continues to develop. The forming of the plan, the preparation, the pilgrimage, become an idée fixe. The poor humiliate themselves to ask alms to enable them to reach the holy spot; the rich become generous toward the poor in the hope of propitiating the godhead; each and all pray with fervor, and entreat for their cure. Under these conditions the mind is not slow to obtain mastery over the body. When the latter has been shaken by a fatiguing journey the patients arrive at the shrine in a state of mind eminently receptive of suggestion. 'The mind of the invalid,' says Barwell, 'being dominated by the firm conviction that a cure will be effected, a cure is effected forthwith.' One last effort—an immersion at the pool, a last most fervent prayer, aided by the ecstasy produced by the solemn rites—and the faith-cure produces the desired results; the miraculous healing becomes an accomplished fact."
If any one wishes to feel the intensity with which the last stages of this process of suggestion are brought to bear on the sick at Lourdes, the perfect art with which the whole dramatic machinery is managed,142 he need only read a few pages of the description of Monsignor Benson of what he saw at Lourdes. Like Bertrin,143 Benson scoffs at the notion that "suggestion" can be thought of as the impulsive cause of the cures; but like Bertrin he defines suggestion in too narrow a sense and no one pictures more vividly than he does suggestion at work. Here is his description of the great procession and blessing of the sick.144
"The crowd was past describing. Here about us was a vast concourse of men; and as far as the eye could reach down the huge oval, and far away beyond the crowned statue, and on either side back to the Bureau on the left, and on the slopes to the right, stretched an inconceivable pavement of heads. Above us, too, on every terrace and step, back to the doors of the great basilica, we knew very well, was one seething, singing mob. A great space was kept open on the level ground beneath us—I should say one hundred by two hundred yards in area—and the inside fringe of this was composed of the sick, in litters, in chairs, standing, sitting, lying, and kneeling. It was at the farther end that the procession would enter.
"After perhaps half an hour's waiting, during which one incessant gust of singing rolled this way and that through the crowd, the leaders of the procession appeared far away—little white or black figures, small as dolls—and the singing became general. But as the endless files rolled out, the singing ceased, and a moment later a priest, standing solitary in the great space, began to pray aloud in a voice like a silver trumpet.
"I have never heard such passion in my life. I began to watch presently, almost mechanically, the little group beneath the ombrellino, in white and gold, and the movements of the monstrance blessing the sick; but again and again my eyes wandered back to the little figure in the midst, and I cried out with the crowd, sentence after sentence, following that passioned voice:
"'Lord, we adore Thee!'
"'Lord,' came the huge response, 'we adore Thee.'
"'Lord, we love Thee,' cried the priest.
"'Lord, we love Thee,' answered the people.
"'Save us, Jesus, we perish.'
"'Save us, Jesus, we perish.'
"'Jesus, Son of Mary, have pity on us.'
"'Jesus, Son of Mary, have pity on us.'
"Then, with a surge rose up the plain-song melody:
"'Spare, O Lord,' sang the people, 'spare Thy people! Be not angry with us forever.'
"'Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.'
"'As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.'
"Then again the single voice and the multitudinous answer:
"'Thou art the Resurrection and the Life!'
"And then an adjuration to her whom He gave to be our Mother:
"'Mother of the Saviour, pray for us.'
"'Salvation of the weak, pray for us.'
"Then once more the singing; then the cry, more touching than all:
"'Lord, heal our sick!'
"'Lord, heal our sick!'
"Then the kindling that brought the blood to ten thousand faces:
"'Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!' (I shook to hear it.)
"'Hosanna !' cried the priest, rising from his knees, with arms flung wide.
"'Hosanna!' roared the people, swift as an echo.
"'Hosanna! Hosanna!' crashed out again and again, like great artillery.
"Yet there was no movement among those piteous prostrate lines. The bishop, the ombrellino over him, passed on slowly round the circle; and the people cried to Him whom he bore, as they cried two thousand years ago on the road to the city of David. Surely He will be pitiful upon this day—the Jubilee Year of His Mother's graciousness, the octave of her assumption to sit with Him on His throne!
"'Mother of the Saviour, pray for us.'
"'Jesus, Thou art my Lord and my God.'
"Yet there was no movement. . . .
"The end was now coming near. The monstrance had reached the image once again, and was advancing down the middle. The voice of the priest grew more persistent still, as he tossed his arms, and cried for mercy:
"'Jesus, have pity on us, have pity on us!'
"And the people, frantic with ardor and desire, answered him with a voice of thunder:
"'Have pity on us ! Have pity on us!'
"And now up the steps came the grave group to where Jesus would at least bless His own, though He would not heal them; and the priest in the midst, with one last cry, gave glory to Him who must be served through whatever misery:
"'Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!'
"Surely that must touch the Sacred Heart! Will not His Mother say one word?
"'Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!'
"'Hosanna!' cried the priest.
"'Hosanna!' cried the people.
"'Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna! . . .'
"One articulate roar of disappointed praise, and then — Tantum ergo Sacramentum! rose in its solemnity."
There was no miracle, and Benson thinks that that is sufficient proof that the miracles are not wrought by "suggestion." "If ever 'suggestion' could work a miracle," he says, "it must work one now." But this was only the day of preparation, and the fever planted in the blood was working. And the next day the miracles came.145 "The crowd was still, very still, answering as before the passionate voice in the midst; but watching, watching, as I watched. . . . The white spot moved on and on, and all else was motionless. I knew that beyond it lay the sick. 'Lord, if it be possible—if it be possible! Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.' It had reached now the end of the first line.
"'Lord, heal our sick,' cried the priest.
"'Lord, heal our sick,' answered the people.
"'Thou art my Lord and my God!'
"And then on a sudden it came.
"Overhead lay the quiet summer air, charged with the supernatural as a cloud with thunder—electric, vibrating with power. Here beneath, lay souls thirsting for its touch of fire—patient, desirous, infinitely pathetic; and in the midst that Power, incarnate for us men and our salvation. Then it descended swift and mightily.
"I saw a sudden swirl in the crowd of heads beneath the church steps, and then a great shaking ran through the crowd; but there for a few instants it boiled like a pot. A sudden cry had broken out, and it ran through the whole space; waxing in volume as it ran, till the heads beneath my window shook with it also; hands clapped, voices shouted, 'A miracle! A miracle!'"
The tension thus broken, of course other miracles followed. And Benson says he does not see what "suggestion" had to do with them!
We feel no impulse to insist on the word, "suggestion" as if it were a magic formula, which accounts with completeness for all the cures wrought at Lourdes. We should be perfectly willing to admit, on good reason being given for the admission, that, after all the cures which can be fairly brought under this formula have been brought under it, a residuum may remain for the account of which we should look further. We do not ourselves think that we are much advanced in the explanation of these residuum cases, if they exist, by postulating "a transferrence of vitalizing force either from the energetic faith of the sufferers, or from that of the bystanders"—as Benson intimates that Alexis Carrel was inclined to recommend.146 At bottom, this is only a theory, and it does not seem to us a very complete theory, of how "suggestion" acts. Let us leave that to further investigation. For our part, we prefer just to leave these residuum cases themselves, if they exist, to this further investigation. We feel no necessity laid on us to explain them meanwhile. Bertrin makes himself merry147 over the appeal, for their explanation, to the working of "unknown forces" as a mere shift to avoid acknowledging the presence of the supernatural. But surely we cannot pretend to a complete knowledge of all the forces which may work toward a cure in such conditions as are present at Lourdes. Unknown forces are assuredly existent, and it is not unnatural to think of them when effects occur, the causes of which are unknown. Meanwhile residuum cases suggesting reference to them, if they exist at all, are certainly very few. Doctor E. Mackey in a very sensible article published a few years ago in The Dublin Review,148 seems inclined to rest the case for recognizing their existence on three instances. These are the cures of Pierre de Rudder, of a broken bone; of Joachine Dehant, of a dislocation; and of François Macary, of a varicose vein. "Such cases," he says,149 . . . "cannot cure themselves, and no amount of faith and hope that the mind of man can imagine will unite a broken bone, reduce a dislocation, or obliterate a varicose vein. Such cases cannot be paralleled by any medical experience, or imitated by any therapeutic resource, and are as far removed from its future as its present possibilities. To the sceptic we may give without argument the whole range of nerve disorders, but what explanation is there of the sudden and permanent cure of an organic lesion? What, but the working of the uncovered finger of God?"
The cases selected by Doctor Mackey are famous cases. That of Pierre de Rudder may be said, in fact, to be Lourdes's star case, and is found duly set forth in detail at the head of well-nigh every argument for the miraculousness of the Lourdes cures. Perhaps Doctor Mackey might just as well have contented himself with appealing to it alone. Its salient features are that what was healed in it was a fracture of long standing of both bones of the lower leg, just below the knee, the two parts of the broken bone piercing the flesh and being separated by a suppurating wound an inch long. The healing was instantaneous. We have never seen a satisfactory natural explanation of how this cure was effected. If the facts, in all their details as published—say in Bertrin's extended account,—are authentic, it seems fairly impossible to imagine how it was effected. Doctor Rouby, it is true, offers a very plausible explanation of the healing, but, to make it plausible, he is compelled to assume that some of the minor details are not quite accurately reported.150 We prefer simply to leave it, meanwhile, unexplained. Do you cry out that we are bound to supply a satisfactory natural explanation of it, or else acknowledge that a miracle has taken place in this case? We feel no difficulty in declining the dilemma. The healing of Pierre de Rudder's leg is not the only thing that has occurred in the world of the mode of the occurrence of which we are ignorant. After all, inexplicable and miraculous are not exact synonyms, and nobody really thinks that they are. Is it wrong suddenly to turn the tables and ask those who would compel us to explain Pierre de Rudder's case, how they explain Charlotte Laborde's case, which is certainly far more wonderful than Pierre de Rudder's? Charlotte Laborde was a Jansenist cripple who had no legs at all, as two surgeons duly testified; and yet she literally had two good legs pulled out for her—as anybody may read in Montgeron's veracious narrative.151 No doubt it will be at once said that the thing never happened. Assuredly, it never did happen. But has everybody earned the right to take up that attitude toward it? We recognize, of course, that not all testimony to marvels can be trusted—at least not in all the details. It seems indeed rather difficult to report marvels precisely as they happened, and few there be who attain to it.152 We have seen that even an Augustine cannot be implicitly trusted when he reports marvels as occurring within his own knowledge. Perhaps Doctor Rouby is right in suggesting that some slight errors of detail have crept into the report of Pierre de Rudder's case; and that this marvel too is one of the things that never happened—precisely as it is reported. Our personal interest in such adjustments, however, is at best languid. In the nature of the case they are only conjectural. We are only beginning to learn the marvellous behavior of which living tissue is capable, and it may well be that, after a while, it may seem very natural that Pierre de Rudder's case happened just as it is said to have happened. We are afraid to alter the facts as witnessed even a little, in order to make them fit in better with the ignorance of to-day: and our guesses of to-day are sure to seem very foolish to-morrow. We do not busy ourselves, therefore, with conjecturing how Pierre de Rudder's cure may have happened. We are willing to believe that it happened just as it is said to have happened. We are content to know that, in no case, was it a miracle.
We must endeavor to make clear the grounds on which this assertion is adventured. To do this we need to go back a little in the discussion. We take it up again at the point where we have said that bare inexplicableness cannot be accepted as the sufficient criterion of the miraculous. There are many things which we cannot explain, and yet which nobody supposes to be miraculous,153 No doubt the appeal to "unknown laws," hidden forces of nature not yet discovered, may be made the mark of an easy ridicule. Yet we must not be stampeded into acknowledging as sheerly miraculous everything the laws of whose occurrence—the forces by which it is produced—are inscrutable to us. Even if absolute inscrutability be meant—inscrutability not to me (for my ignorance cannot be the measure of reality) but to any and every living man, or body of men, to any possible man—miracle cannot be inferred from this alone. Nature was made by God, not man, and there may be forces working in nature not only which have not yet been dreamed of in our philosophy, but which are beyond human comprehension altogether. Simple inexplicability, therefore, is not an adequate ground on which to infer miracle. There must be something else about an occurrence besides its inexplicableness to justify us in looking upon it as a direct act of God's.
Clearly, when we are bidden to accept an event as miraculous merely on the ground of its inexplicableness, it is forgotten that no event is merely an inexplicable event. It is always something else besides; and if we are to pass upon its origin we must consider not merely its abstract inexplicableness but the whole concrete fact—not merely that it has happened inexplicably, but what it is that has happened inexplicably—that is to say, not its bare occurrence, but its occurrence in all its circumstantials, the total thing which has occurred. The healing of Pierre de Rudder, for example, is not merely an inexplicable happening (if it be inexplicable) of which we need know no more than just that. It is the healing of a particular individual, Pierre de Rudder, in a complex of particular circumstances, the whole complicated mass of which constitutes the thing that has occurred. The cause assigned to the occurrence must satisfy not only its inexplicableness, but also all these other circumstances entering into the event as an occurrence in time and space. No event, occurring in time and space—in a complex, that is, of other occurrences—no matter how marvellous it may seem to be, how sheerly inexplicable on natural grounds—can possibly be interpreted as a divine act, if there is anything about it at all in its concrete wholeness which cannot be made consistent with that reference.
If, for instance, to take an example so extreme that it could not occur, but one that may serve all the better as our illustration on that account, there were buried somewhere in the concrete wholeness of the occurrence the implication that twice two are five. It would be more inexplicable that God should not know His multiplication table than that any occurrence whatever, however inexplicable it may seem to us, should nevertheless be due to natural causation. God is not bare omnipotence; He is absolute omniscience as well. He cannot possibly be the immediate agent in an act in which a gross failure of "wisdom" is apparent, no matter how difficult it may be for us to explain that act without calling in omnipotence as its producing cause. Still less can He be supposed to be the immediate actor in occurrences in which immoralities are implicated; or, in which, in their wholeness, as concrete facts, there are embodied implications of, say, irreligion or of superstition. Whether we can see how such occurrences are wrought, or not, we know from the outset that God did not work them. It would be more inexplicable that God should be directly active in them than that they should be the product of natural causation, though to suppose this to be the fact would be to confound all our previous conceptions of natural causation. Charles Hodge speaks not a whit too strongly when he asserts154 that "we are not only authorized but required to pronounce anathema an apostle or angel from heaven who should call upon us to receive as a revelation from God anything absurd or wicked.''
God, indeed, has Himself forewarned us here. He has said:155 "If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he give thee a sign and a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saving. Let us go after other Gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet or unto that dreamer of dreams."' Conformity in their implications to what God has already revealed of Himself, He Himself makes the test of all alleged miracles. It would be more inexplicable that God by His action should confuse the revelation which He has made of His Being, of men's relation to Him, and of the duty of service which they owe to Him and to Him alone, than that inexplicable things should yet be produced by natural causation. It is a primary principle, therefore, that no event can be really miraculous which has implications inconsistent with fundamental religious truth. Even though we should stand dumb before the wonders of Lourdes, and should be utterly incapable of suggesting a natural causation for them, we know right well they are not of God. The whole complex of circumstances of which they are a part; their origin in occurrences, the best that can be said of which is that they are silly; their intimate connection with a cult derogatory to the rights of God who alone is to be called upon in our distresses.—stamp them, prior to all examination of the mode of their occurrence, as not from God. We are far more sure that they are not from God than we ever can be sure, after whatever scrutiny, of precisely how they are wrought. It is doubtless something like this that is expressed—it ought to be at least this that is meant—by Émile Zola's crisp remark:156 ''That two and two make four may have become trite—but nevertheless they do make four. It is less foolish and less mad to say so than to believe, for example, in the miracles of Lourdes." That God is one, and that He alone is to be sensed with religious veneration, is no doubt an old revelation. It is nevertheless a true revelation. And he who takes it as such can never believe that miracles are wrought at Lourdes.
Of course, as R. H. Benson puts it,157 "those who believe in God and His Son and the Mother of God on quite other grounds," may declare that ''Lourdes is enough." But this is not to make the miracles carry the doctrine, but the doctrine the miracles, in accordance with J. H. Newman's proposition that it is all a matter of point of view, of presuppositions.158 To those, on the other hand, who believe in God and His Son, as they have revealed themselves in the pages of Holy Scripture, but not in a Mother of God, standing between us and God and His Son. and usurping their place in our hearts and worship, Lourdes very distinctly is not enough. It would require something very different from what happens at Lourdes to make them see the express finger of God there. It is not He who rules there so much as that incoherent goddess who has announced herself to her worshippers with as fine a disregard of the ordinary laws of grammar and intelligible speech as of the fundamental principles of Christianity, in the remarkable words, "I am the Immaculate Conception," as if one should say, ''I am the procession of the equinoxes," or ''I am the middle of next week." "The whole place," says Benson,159 '"is alive with Mary." That is the very reason why we are sure that the marvels which occur there are not the direct acts of God, but are of the same order as the similar ones which have occurred at many similar shrines, of many names, in many lands, serving many gods. How close all these lie to one another is singularly illustrated by what we are told of a daughter shrine of Lourdes's own, in that Near East which is the meeting-place of peoples and religions. At least, we read:160 "The sanctuary of Feri Keuï at Constantinople, dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, is a place of pilgrimage and a source of miraculous cures for Christians, Jews, and Mussulmans. Its silver-wedding was celebrated recently with an assemblage of people of the religions which live in the Turkish Empire." What Lourdes has to offer is the common property of the whole world, and may be had by men of all religions, calling upon their several gods.161
PRETENSIONS by any class of men to the possession and use of miraculous powers as a permanent endowment are, within the limits of the Christian church, a specialty of Roman Catholicism. Denial of these pretensions is part of the protest by virtue of which we bear the name of Protestants. "In point of interpretation, the history of Protestantism," as an Edinburgh reviewer, writing in trying conditions in 1831, justly puts it,1 "is a uniform disclaimer of any promise in the Scriptures that miraculous powers should be continued in the Church." In point of fact (we may slightly modify his next sentence to declare), the claim to the possession and exercise of powers of this description by individuals has always been received in Protestant circles with a suspicion which experience has only too completely justified.
Protestantism, to be sure, has happily been no stranger to enthusiasm; and enthusiasm with a lower-case "e" unfortunately easily runs into that Enthusiasm with a capital "E" which is the fertile seed-bed of fanaticism. Individuals have constantly arisen so filled with the sense of God in their own souls, and so overwhelmed by the wonders of grace which they have witnessed, that they see the immediate hand of God in every occurrence which strikes them as remarkable, and walk through the world clothed in a nimbus of miracle. To them it seems a small thing that the God who has so marvellously healed their sick souls should equally marvellously heal their sick bodies; that the God who speaks so unmistakably in their spirits should speak equally unmistakably through their lips. Especially in times of wide-spread oppression, when whole communities have, in their hopeless agony, been thrown back upon their God as their only refuge, and have found in Him solace and strength, it has over and over again happened that out of their distresses words and deeds have come to them which to their apprehension seemed manifestly divine.
We may find an illustration of the former phenomenon in John Wesley, who, though he would have repelled the accusation of superstition, yet, as one of his biographers finely expresses it,2 "was always far more afraid of being ungodly than of being credulous." He would not admit that there was any scriptural ground for supposing that miracles had ceased. "I do not know," he declares,3 "that God hath any way precluded Himself from thus exerting His sovereign power, from working miracles in any kind or degree, in any age, to the end of the world. I do not recollect any Scripture where we are taught that miracles are to be confined within the limits either of the Apostolic or the Cyprianic age; or to any period of time, longer or shorter, even to the restoration of all things. I have not observed, either in the Old Testament or the New, any intimation at all of this kind." Feeling thus no preconceived chariness with reference to miracles, he recognized their occurrence with great facility in the past and in the present.4 He twits Middleton with his readiness to believe, on the testimony of scientific observers, that it is possible to speak without a tongue, rather than to credit the miracle testified to as having been wrought in favor of the African confessors who had had their tongues cut out. "After avowing this belief," he cries,5 "do you gravely talk of other men's credulity? I wonder that such a volunteer in faith should stagger at anything. Doubtless, were it related as natural only, not miraculous, you could believe that a man could see without eyes." After himself recording a sheerly incredible instance of mirror-gazing, he solemnly affirms his belief in it, and stoutly declares that those who can believe it all fiction "may believe a man's getting into a bottle."6 William Warburton, who devotes the second book of his Doctrine of Grace almost entirely to criticisms of a series of extracts from Wesley's Journal, sums up his findings in the remark7 that "this extraordinary man hath, in fact, laid claim to almost every Apostolic gift and grace; and in as full and ample a measure as they were possessed of old"; that, in fact, "of all the Apostolic gifts and graces there is but one with which we find him not adorned—namely, the gift of tongues." To such apparent lengths is it possible to be carried by the mere enthusiasm of faith.
A very good example of the wide-spread prevalence of apparently supernatural experiences in conditions of deep religious excitement is afforded by the history of the Camisards during the long period of their brutal persecution; and, indeed, beyond—for the same class of manifestations continued among their English friends, apparently by a kind of spiritual infection, long after some of them had taken refuge from persecution in England. These manifestations included prophesying and predictions, miracle-working and speaking with tongues, and they were by no means done in a comer. A Mr. Dalton, "who did not know one Hebrew letter from another," nevertheless uttered "with great readiness and freedom complete discourses in Hebrew, for near a quarter of an hour together and sometimes much longer." Mr. Lacy spoke in Latin and Greek and French, although himself unable to construe his Latin and Greek, "of which," the historian slyly remarks, "the syntax is certainly inexplicable." Unfortunately for themselves, these "French Prophets" believed sufficiently in themselves to venture upon the luxury of specific predictions. They foretold that a certain Doctor Emes, who died December 22, 1707, would rise again on March 25, 1708. He did not do so; and the prophets were reduced to publishing a paper giving "Squire Lacfs reasons why Doctor Emes was not raised.'' They predicted that certain dreadful judgments would fall on London in three weeks, explained explicitly to mean three literal weeks. When the fulfilment did not take place, they re-explained that, after all, it was three prophetic weeks that were intended—which corrected dating also was, of course, stultified in the process of time. Above all, of course, they predicted the speedy coming of the Lord, and the setting up of His personal reign on earth, of which, they explained, the present diffusion of the spiritual gifts among them was the preparation and the sign. ''Christians," cries John Lacy, "now only look upon Christ as dead and ascended into heaven. But where—where's the expectation taught of His coming again? A doctrine that has annexed to it the powers, the mighty gifts of the Holy Ghost engaged by promises. Is the state of Christianity now so perfect that the powers and gifts of the Holy Ghost extraordinary are not worthy expecting or regarding? . . . Therefore the extraordinary dispensation to prepare so extraordinary a revolution . . . sure there needs something extraordinary to prepare for so tremendous, useful, so joyous and blissful a state of the Church on earth. Nay, the wisest do need an extraordinary call for it."8
This case of the "French Prophets" has not been adduced because it is better fitted in itself than a number of similar movements to illustrate the general subject. It has commended itself to our notice because of its long history and its pathetic significance during its connection with the persecutions in the Cévennes; and particularly because of certain peculiarities of its English development which recall the Irvingite movement to which we wish to devote this lecture. Among these may be numbered its close connection with chiliastic vagaries and the expectation of the speedy coming of the Lord, and also the circumstance that it left behind it a new sect in Christendom, to preserve in some sort its memory. Out of the activities of some of the followers of the "French Prophets" originated the people called Shakers, who, like the Catholic Apostolic Church, sprung from the Irvingite movement, have protracted some sort of existence to our day.
The religious atmosphere of the earlier decades of the nineteenth century was exceedingly unsettled and filled with a restless desire for change. In particular premillenarian extravagances were rife, and men were heatedly looking for the early coming of the Lord. It was out of this soil that Irvingism grew, predicting the immediate advent of Christ, and proclaiming the restoration of the extraordinary offices and gifts of the Apostolic age, along with an elaborate church organization, in preparation for His coming. Never have pretensions to gifts and powers of a supernatural order suffered more speedily and definitely the condemnation of facts. The predicted coming of the Lord did not take place: the "Apostles" appointed to receive Him at His coming were gradually called to their eternal home, and still He came not; the pretenders to supernatural gifts one after another awoke to the true state of the case and acknowledged themselves deluded. But the sect of Irvingites, broken in spirit, torn with dissension, altered in its pretensions, still lives on and adjusts itself to its blasted hopes as best it may.9
The views of Edward Irving, the founder of the sect, on the special matter now before us, the persistence or revival of the Apostolic charismata in the modern church, may be read at large in two papers, entitled respectively "The Church with her endowment of holiness and power" and "The Gifts of the Holy Ghost commonly called supernatural," which are printed at the end of his Collected Writings, edited by his nephew, Gavin Carlyle. One or two extracts will bring before us the essential elements of his teaching.
"I have shown," he writes, "the great purpose and end of this endowment of Spiritual gifts: that purpose and end is not temporary but perpetual, till Christ's coming again; when that which is perfect shall come, and that which is in part shall be done away. If they ask for an explanation of the fact that these powers have ceased in the Church, I answer, that they have decayed just as faith and holiness have decayed; but that they have ceased is not a matter so clear. Till the time of the Reformation, this opinion was never mooted in the Church; and to this day, the Roman Catholics and every other portion of the Church but ourselves, maintain the very contrary. . . . And I would say, that this gift hath ceased to be visible in the Church because of her great ignorance concerning the work of Christ at His second coming, of which it is the continual sign; because of her most culpable ignorance of Christ's crowned glory, of which it is the continual demonstration; because of her indifference to the world without, for preaching to which the gift of the Holy Ghost is the continual furnishing and outfit of the Church. . . . But things are taking a turn. Let the Church know that things are taking on a mighty turn. There is a shining forth of truth in these subjects beyond former days. The power and glory of a risen Lord, as well as the holiness of a Lord in flesh, is beginning to be understood and discussed of; and the enemy would spread a curtain of their sophistry between the Church and the bright dawn; he might as well hide the morning by drawing before our eyes the spider's web or the frost-work of the night, which the rising sun quickly dissipates. . . . The Church . . . will have her full dignity restored to her of testifying . . . of a risen Lord in power and glory, crowned for His Church and in His Church putting forth unto the world a first-fruit of that power and government over all creation which in her He will ever exercise over all creation. These gifts have ceased, I would say, just as the verdure, and leaves, and flowers, and fruits of the spring and summer and autumn cease in winter, because, by the chill and wintry blasts which have blown over the Church, her power to put forth her glorious beauty hath been prevented. But because the winter is without a green leaf or beautiful flower, do men therefore argue that there shall be flowers and fruits no more? . . . If the Church be still in existence, and that no one denies; and if it be the law and end of her being to embody a first-fruit and earnest of the power which Christ is to put forth in the redemption of all nature; then what though she hath been brought so low, her life is still in her, and that life will, under a more fervent day, put forth its native forces." "Unless men, therefore, be left so far to themselves as to say that God hath ceased to testify to the work which Christ performed in the flesh—of casting Satan out; of redeeming all flesh from death, and disease its precursor; of restoring the animal and vegetable world, and all creation, to their original sinlessness, innocency, and subserviency to mankind—unless men be disposed to say, that they know God hath ceased to be at any pains or charges in giving testimony to this work of His Son, they have no ground for believing that the age of miracles is past. . . . As to the fact which they allege, that there have not of a long time been any such seals; granting their allegation to be a truth, which I do not believe, the answer to it is, that there hath been no testimony to the great work of Christ's redemption such as to be worthy of being so sealed unto . . . in Christendom, since the first three centuries. . . . The subject of the gifts, commonly called extraordinary, and rashly conceived of as given for a local and temporary end, is one of far greater importance than the advocates of either opinion have dared to conceive, or, at least, have ventured to express: being as I Judge, connected in the closest manner with the edification of the Church in love and holiness; with her witness among the nations for their conversion unto Christ; with the glory of God as the creator of the human soul for His shrine, agent, and interpreter; with the glory of Christ, as the head of the Church, subordinating all the members unto Himself for the use of the Creator; with the glory of the Holy Ghost, as the very life and mind and substance of Godhead, inhabiting, informing and manifesting forth the being of God, in such wise that the Church should be God's manifested fullness, the fullness of God, who filleth all in all."10
It is not my purpose to enter on a formal examination and criticism of Irving's views; they have already been judged by the course of history. But having thus presented them to you in his own highly ornate language, we may turn our attention to some account of the rise of the movement called (but not by its adherents) "Irvingism," as to a theme far more interesting and certainly as instructive for the general object which we have in view. We have spoken of Edward Irving as its founder, and so he was, without whose susceptibility, enthusiasm, force, and eloquence it could never have come into existence. But in another sense he may be thought of rather as its chief victim. It presents a curious subject for speculation, to consider how little often the chief movers in events like this are the real originators of them or the true forces which produce them. Just as J. H. Newman was in every high sense the leader of the Oxford movement while yet he himself was rather pushed on by the activity of others, so that it is literally true that it was Hurrell Froude who was at the bottom of his Anglo-Catholicism and W. G. Ward who nagged him, against his will, into Romanism; so Edward Irving was in every high sense the founder and leader of "Irvingism," which justly bears his name, while yet it is equally true that he was driven into it step by step by the influence and force of other minds. With all his sensitiveness of heart, enthusiastic earnestness of purpose, soaring views of religious truth, and grandeur of style in its presentation; in a word, with all those qualities which in their combination gave him a certain measure of greatness; his simplicity, perhaps we must also say, within due limits, his vanity, and certainly we must say his intellectual weakness and deficiency in Judgment and common sense, made him the easy prey of other and more energetic orders of mind. Henry Drummond was his Hurrell Froude; Alexander J. Scott was his W. G. Ward.
Irving had none too brilliant a career as the young assistant of Chalmers in Glasgow, and the summons to London in July, 1822, to take charge of the dying Caledonian Chapel there, came no less as a surprise than as an opportunity.11 From the first, however, he achieved in London a popularity which began by being astonishing, and ended by being immense. He became the talk of the town. Statesmen and men of letters hung on his words. Society took him under its patronage. The little church in Hatton Garden was soon outgrown. This sudden and unexampled popular applause perhaps did not completely turn his head, but it distinctly injured him. It left him an enthusiastic, simple-minded man; but it gave him overweening confidence in himself; and it infected him with the illusion that some high and world-wide mission had been committed to him.
At the very beginning of his London career, he adopted the crass premillennial views which later colored his whole thought. This was the work in him of James Hatley Frere,12 a man of incisive mind and strong individuality, who seems to have deliberately selected Irving to be the popular mouthpiece of his Apocalyptic speculations. These he succeeded in impressing on him with amazing completeness of detail. Then came "the little prophetic conferences" at Albury, Henry Drummond's beautiful Surrey residence, where "the students of prophecy," as they called themselves, began in 1826 to meet for annual conferences on the meaning of the prophetic Scriptures.13 These conferees were men of high social position and easy financial circumstances—Gerard Noel, Hugh McNeile, Lewis Way, Joseph Wolf, with Henry Drummond, the richest and most eccentric of them all, at their head—"a singular mixture of all things," Carlyle describes him; "of the saint, the wit, the philosopher, swimming, if I mistake not, in an element of dandyism."14 Irving's imaginative disposition took fire, and he soon became the chief figure of the coterie, and began to proclaim everywhere that the Lord was shortly to come, and that the chief duty of believers was to press the signs of the times on the attention of men.
In this excited state of mind Irving was called upon to endure great personal trials. His opinions on the person of Christ were very properly called in question; and he was compelled to meet ecclesiastical process in consequence. In the midst of these distracting occurrences, he undertook a journey to Scotland that he might proclaim there, as in London, the approaching coming of his Master.15 On this journey he met at Row (McLeod Campbell's parish) a man whose influence on his subsequent life cannot be overestimated—Alexander J. Scott, an impracticable probationer of the church of Scotland, whose strong and acute but indocile and wilful mind imposed upon every one whom he met an overestimate of his intellectual ability. This was in the summer of 1828. Irving was at once taken captive and engaged Scott to come up to London with him and share his work, on the only terms on which Scott could either then or at any subsequent time have been engaged—"entirely unfettered by any pledge as to doctrine."16 This "powerful and singular spirit," so sceptical of whatever others believed—his driftage carried him ultimately beyond the limits of Christianity—so confident of whatever his mind fixed itself upon at the moment, had already reached the conclusion that the charismata of the early church might and should be enjoyed by the church of all ages. He succeeded in imposing this belief upon Irving, who himself dates his conviction that the spiritual gifts of the Apostolic age were not exceptional or temporary from 1828—the year in which he became associated with Scott.17
Irving was inclined to be content with holding his view as a theory. This, however, did not content "the restless soul" by his side. As Irving himself relates: "And as we went out and in together, he used often to signify to me his conviction that the Spiritual Gifts ought to be exercised in the Church; that we are at liberty, and indeed bound, to pray for them as being baptized into the assurance of the 'gift of the Holy Ghost,' as well as of 'repentance and remission of sins. . . .' Though I could make no answer to this," he adds, "and it is altogether unanswerable, I continued still to be very little moved to seek myself or to stir up my people to seek these spiritual treasures. Yet I went forward to contend and to instruct whenever the subject came before me in my public ministrations of reading and preaching the Word, that the Holy Ghost ought to be manifested among us all, the same as ever He was in any one of the primitive Churches."18 Scott, his assistant, doubtless did likewise. Here we see, at least, Scott's preparation of Irving himself and of his church for what was to come.
"But," says Mrs. Oliphant,19 "Mr, Scott's influence did not end there. About the same period at which he was engaged in quickening this germ of expectation in the breast of Irving, circumstances brought him in the way of sowing a still more effectual seed." There was a district in Scotland suffering at this time under great religious excitement—roused partly by the preaching of John McLeod Campbell, and partly by the influence of the kindly life of Isabella Campbell of Fernicarry, a young saint whose death had just profoundly moved the community. There, just at this juncture, Scott appeared, a "master of statement and argument," as Irving describes him, and in Mrs. Oliphant's words, "bent all his powers to laying this train of splendid mischief."20 "When Isabella Campbell died, a portion of her fame—her pilgrim visitors—her position as one of the most remarkable persons in the countryside, a pious and tender oracle—descended to her sister Mary,"21 who seems to have been a young woman "possessed of gifts of mind and temperament scarcely inferior to genius," "with all the personal fascination of beauty," and endowed with a "young, fervid and impressionable imagination."22 On her the subtlest arguments of one of the acutest men of the day were poured. Irving himself describes the result thus: "Being called down to Scotland upon some occasion, and residing for a while at his father's house, which is in the heart of that district of Scotland upon which the light of Mr. Campbell's ministry had arisen, he (Scott) was led to open his mind to some of the godly people of those parts, and among others to a young woman who was at that time lying ill of a consumption, from which afterwards, when brought to the very door of death, she was raised up instantaneously by the mighty hand of God. Being a woman of very fixed and constant spirit he was not able with all his power of statement and argument, which is unequalled by that of any man I have ever met with, to convince her of the distinction of regeneration and baptism with the Holy Ghost; and when he could not prevail, he left her with a solemn charge to read over the Acts of the Apostles with that distinction in mind, and to beware how she hastily rejected what was, as he believed, the truth of God. By this young woman it was that God, not many months after, did restore the gift of speaking with tongues and prophesying to the Church."23
How it came about, Irving describes as follows: "The handmaiden of the Lord, of whom he made choice on that night" (a Sunday evening in the end of March—i.e., March 28, 1830) "to manifest forth in her His glory, had been long afflicted with a disease which the medical men pronounced to be a decline, and that it would soon bring her to her grave, whither her sister had been hurried by the same malady a few months before. Yet while all around her were anticipating her dissolution, she was in the strength of faith meditating missionary labours among the heathen; and this night she was to receive the preparation of the Spirit; the preparation of the body she received not until some days after. It was on the Lord's day; and one of her sisters, along with a female friend who had come to the house for that end, had been spending the whole day in humiliation, and fasting, and prayer before God, with a special respect to the restoration of the gifts. They had come up in the evening to the sick-chamber of their sister, who was laid on a sofa, and, along with one or two others of the household, were engaged in prayer together. When in the midst of their devotion, the Holy Ghost came with mighty power upon the sick woman as she lay in her weakness, and constrained her to speak at great length and with superhuman strength in an unknown tongue, to the astonishment of all who heard, and to her own great edification and enjoyment in God; 'for he that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself.' She has told me that this first seizure of the Spirit was the strongest she ever had, and that it was in some degree necessary it should have been so, otherwise she would not have dared to give way to it."24
Meanwhile the "power" passed across the Clyde to the opposite town of Port Glasgow into another pious household. When James Macdonald returned from his work to his midday dinner one day "he found his invalid sister in the agonies of this new inspiration. The awed family concluded . . . that she was dying." But she addressed her brothers at great length and solemnly prayed that James might at that time be endowed with the Holy Ghost. "Almost instantly James calmly said, 'I have got it.'" With a changed countenance in a few moments, "with a step and manner of the most indescribable majesty—he walked up to his sister's bedside and addressed her in these words of the 20th Psalm: 'Arise and stand upright.' He repeated the words, took her by the hand, and she arose."25 After this wonderful cure James Macdonald wrote to Mary Campbell, "then apparently approaching death, conveying to her the same command that had been so effectual in the case of his sister." She rose up at once and declared herself healed. And here we have the restored gifts prepared for the church.
The only remaining step was to convey the gifts to Irving's church. Of course, he was at once informed of the extraordinary events which had taken place in Scotland. He seems to have caught the contagion of excitement at once. John Bate Cardale, a lawyer of Irving's circle, who afterward became the first Irvingite "Apostle," went to Scotland at the head of a delegation to investigate and report. Meanwhile the church at London was kept in an attitude of strained expectancy. But the "gifts" did not come at once. An isolated case of healing occurred in October, 1830—a Miss Fancourt—but this instance seems to have stood somewhat apart from direct relation whether to the Scotch manifestations or to the coming events in Irving's church.26 Irving's baby son took sick and died, and though they sought it anxiously with tears there was no interposition to save him. During the next spring daily prayer-meetings were held in the early mornings to ask directly for the "gifts of the Spirit," news of the unbroken exercise of which was now coming continually from Scotland. "Irving," says Mrs. Oliphant, "had no eyes to see the overpowering force of suggestion with which such prayers" "might have operated upon sensitive and excitable hearts."27 At last we hear incidentally in July, 1831, that two of the flock in London had received the gifts of tongues and prophecy.28 They had been in exercise, however, for some months before that, first in the form of speaking with tongues at private devotions, then in the presence of others, and at length both in speaking with tongues and in prophesying at small prayer-meetings.29 The formal date of the beginning of the "power" is usually given as April 30, 1831, when Mrs. Cardale spoke solemnly with the tongues and prophesied. David Brown, however, seems to imply30 that the first to exercise the power in the presence of others was Emily Cardale at a date apparently very near this. He is speaking of the early-morning prayer-meetings in the church, which, he says, began to be held two weeks before the General Assembly of 1831.31 It was the custom of a party from the prayer-meeting to go home with the Irvings to breakfast. "At one of these breakfasts," he writes, "a sweet, modest, young lady. Miss Emily Cardale, began to breathe heavily, and increasingly so, until at length she burst out into loud but abrupt short sentences of English which after a few minutes ceased. The voice was certainly beyond her native strength, and the subject matter of it was the expected power of the Spirit, not to be resisted by any one who would hear. Mr. Irving asked us to unite in thanksgiving for this answer to our prayers." "Other such instances," adds Brown, "followed, but as yet all in private, first by the same voice, but afterwards by a Miss Hall, and then by a man who rather repelled me (a teacher by the name of Taplin) who professed to speak in an unknown tongue." It was through this Miss Hall that the voices were introduced into the public services of the church, on Communion Sunday, October 16, 1831. We have several accounts of the scene by eye-witnesses.32 What they chiefly dwell upon is the startling effect of the outcry, and the rush of the young woman, either unable to restrain herself, or alarmed at what she had done, into the vestry, whence proceeded a succession of doleful and unintelligible cries, while the audience of fifteen hundred or two thousand people, standing up and straining to hear and see what was toward, fell into utter confusion.
It is not necessary to give an account here of the natural excitement which was raised in London; of the increasing confusion which the exercise of the "gifts" brought into the public service of the church; of the suit instituted by the trustees against Irving for breach of trust deeds, and his exclusion from the church; of the founding of the first Irvingite Congregation in Newman Street in a deserted studio which had been erected for the use of the painter West. The new ''prophets" as a matter of course soon began to exercise the authority which they found in their hands as inspired servants of God. They drove Irving along from step to step, until at last a new spirit appeared on the scene in the person of Robert Baxter (first in August, 1831, but not as a force until early in 1832).33 Instead of unintelligible ''tongues" and weak repetitions of pious platitudes, Baxter, when the "power" was on him, delivered himself authoritatively in specific commands to Irving, arrangements for church order, and the like, and even definite predictions of the future. Here was something new and dangerous. Irving was startled and filled with doubt. But the "power" in Baxter argued him down, and all the "prophets" bore witness to the genuineness of Baxter's inspiration, so that the whole movement was committed to this new development. The dangers inherent in it were not slow in showing themselves. The first shock came when the "power" in Baxter commanded him to go to the Court of Chancery and deliver a message which would be there given him, whereupon he should be cast into prison. He went, and no message came to him, and he was not cast into prison. Other predictions that had been made failed of fulfilment. Contradictions began to emerge between the several deliverances by the same organ, or between the several organs. Spirit was arrayed against spirit. The spirit that had spoken acceptably in one, was pronounced by another, speaking in the Spirit, nothing other than an evil spirit. Some who had been very forward in speaking, and had received the indorsement of others speaking in the Spirit, were convicted of having framed their own messages. Baxter's eyes were opened, and the very doctrinal basis of Irving's teaching having become—as well it might—suspect to him, he found himself at last no longer able to believe that the manifestations in which he had himself taken so prominent a part were of God.34
The climax of this particular development is very dramatic. Having reached his conclusion, Baxter (who lived at Doncaster) naturally travelled at once up to London to communicate it to Irving. He arrived at the moment of a crisis in Irving's own affairs. It was the very morning when Irving was to appear in the suit brought against him by the trustees of the church for permitting in it practices contrary to the trust deed. Irving was at breakfast with a party of friends. "Calling him and Mr. J. C[ardale] apart," says Baxter,35 "I told them my conviction that we had all been speaking by a lying spirit and not by the Spirit of the Lord." But we will let David Brown describe the scene from within. He had himself reached the conclusion that there was nothing supernatural in the "manifestations"—this was not exactly Baxter's conclusion—and had determined to separate himself from Irving. He had broken this to Mrs. Irving but had postponed announcing it to Irving himself until after the trial, which was to take place that day. "The select few of us," he writes,36 "came home with him"—from the early-morning prayer-meeting—"to breakfast, in the midst of which Miss Cardale uttered, in the usual unnatural voice, some words of cheer in prospect of the day's proceedings. But scarcely had she ceased when a ring came to the door, and Mr. Irving was requested to speak with the stranger. After five minutes' absence, he returned, saying, 'Let us pray,' and kneeling down, all followed while he spoke in this strain: 'Have mercy. Lord, on Thy dear servant, who has come up to tell us that he has been deceived, that his word has never been from above but from beneath, and that it is all a lie. Have mercy on him, Lord, the enemy hath prevailed against him, and hither hath he come in this time of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy, to break the power of the testimony we have to bear this day to this work of Thine. But let Thy work and power appear unto Thy poor servant. . . .'"
So strong was the delusion to which Irving was now delivered—that Irving who had been hitherto plastic wax in the hands of everybody. He was soon established in his new church in Newman Street. In that church an elaborate order was set up, and an ornate ritual instituted according to the pattern of which Baxter himself had drawn the outlines, and which was ever more fully developed by deliverances from Baxter's followers.37 "Before the opening of this church, the prophet himself had published the wonderful narrative in which he repeated the predictions which came from his own lips, and, appealing to the whole world whether they had been fulfilled, proclaimed them a delusion."38 Nothing, however, could now stay the development of the ''Catholic Apostolic Church," not even Irving himself, had he wished to do so. More and more overruled and set aside by the powers he had evoked and could not control, he sank into an ever more subordinate position in the edifice he had raised.39
Meanwhile it was not going much better with the "gifts" in Scotland, where they had originated, than in London, whither they had been transplanted. The report of their outbreak on the Clyde had found a ready response in the heart of Thomas Erskine of Linlathen. His whole religious life was intensely individualistic, and he too had become imbued with the same chiliastic hopes which in London were fostered by the prophetic studies of Albury. Predisposed to recognize the phenomena as endowments of the Holy Ghost, he repaired at once to Port Glasgow and became an inmate of the Macdonalds' house, living with them for six weeks and attending the daily prayer-meetings, where he witnessed the manifestations. His immediate conclusions he published to the world in a tract, On the Gifts of the Spirit, issued at the close of 1830, and in a more considerable volume which appeared the same year under the title The Brazen Serpent or Life Coming through Death. "The world," said he,40 "does not like the recurrence of miracles. And yet it is true that miracles have recurred. I cannot but tell what I have seen and heard. I have heard persons, both men and women, speak with tongues and prophesy, that is, speak in the Spirit to edification, exhortation, and comfort." A closer acquaintance with the phenomena, however, first shook and then shattered this favorable judgment. The developments in London were a great trial to his faith, as indeed they were also to that of the originators of the "gifts" at Port Glasgow, who did not hesitate to denounce them as delusions. "James Macdonald writes,"41 Erskine tells one of his correspondents, "that the spirit among them declared the London people to be 'deceitful workers transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ.' Strange things—spirit against spirit." He discovered that some at least of the deliverances of the Macdonalds rested on no profounder inspiration than paragraphs in the current newspapers.42 Before the end of 1833 he required to write:43 "My mind has undergone a considerable change. . . . I have seen reason to disbelieve that it is the Spirit of God which is in M, and I do not feel that I have stronger reason to believe that it is in others." His conviction grew ever stronger that all the manifestations he had himself witnessed at Port Glasgow were delusive,44 and that the whole development had originated and been maintained through a dreadful mistake.45
Why he should have ever given himself to such a delusion is the real puzzle. There is an article in the Edinburgh Review for June, 1831, reviewing the new charismatic literature, considering which the reviewer impatiently but not unjustly exclaims that "theologians look for truth, as children on excursions seek for pleasure, by leaving the plain path and the light of day to penetrate into caverns and scramble in the dark."46 In this article occurs a pungent paragraph which ought itself to have awakened Erskine to the true nature of his procedure. The subject in hand is the criterion employed to discriminate between true and false manifestations of the Spirit. True to his spiritual individualism, his "enthusiasm," to give it an old name, Erskine had contended that the only possible criterion in such cases is our own spiritual discernment. "The only security," he wrote, ''lies in having ourselves the seal of God—that gift of the Holy Ghost by which we may detect the lying wonders of Satan." "According to his account, therefore," the reviewer comes down with his sledge-hammer blow,47 "the very fact of their being prepared to pass judgment between God and Satan in the affairs of Port Glasgow amounts to a direct pretence to inspiration," "The gift pretended," he continues, "is that 'discerning of spirits' so celebrated by the Apostles, as the divine endowment by means of which Simon the magician was detected by Peter and Elymas the sorcerer confounded by Paul. It is not the first time, doubtless, that men have indemnified themselves for the absence of visible gifts by setting up a title to invisible ones. Their argument, if it entitles them to either, entitles them to both. Their claim is unfortunately confined to the case which admits no other proof than their mere personal assertion that they are inspired."
Certainly the claims made to "gifts" which admitted of external tests, failed to justify themselves in the application of these tests. Even poor Mary Campbell was, in the end, led to confess that she had not behaved quite honestly in the matter of her "gifts." "I had, before receiving your letter," she writes to Robert Story, "come to the resolution to write to you and to confess my sin and error for calling my own impressions the voice of God. Oh," she exclaims, "it is no light thing to use the holy name irreverently, as I have been made to feel."48 "'She was not at all careful in her statements,' wrote an impartial spectator of the doings at Fernicarry, who knew the attractive prophetess well," R. H. Story tells us,49 and then goes on to remark on what he calls her Celtic temperament, "impressive rather on the spiritual than on the moral side." It is rather a sordid story, all in all, and we leave it with only two remarks, both of which appear to us very relevant. The one concerns the pathetic circumstance that Robert Story sent Mary Campbell's confession to Irving, accompanied with a note exposing her "want of simplicity"—and remarking on how "disappointing a career hers had turned out, especially as she was considered the most remarkable and conclusive evidence of the Holy Ghost being again with power in the midst of the church"—just in time to be delivered after Irving's death.50 The other concerns the completeness with which the criterion desiderated by the Edinburgh reviewer of the reality of the gift of spiritual discernment alleged to be laid claim to by Erskine, is supplied by the issue in these Scotch instances of claims to spiritual gifts, so confidently accepted by Erskine. This issue for a time profoundly and salutarily shook Erskine's confidence in his judgment in such cases. "The shake which I have received in the matter is, I find, very deep," he writes.51 But he can only add: "I hope I shall not be led to shut my ear against the true voice because I have been deceived by a false one."52 He does not seem able to find the right way.53
You will doubtless be glad to have some account of the nature of the "prophetic" deliverances, and other manifestations of this movement. You will find such an account with specimens of the Scotch "tongues" in the eighth appendix to Hanna's edition of Erskine's Letters, written during this period. Mrs. Oliphant, in the course of her biography of Irving, records quite a number of the utterances. In particular she gives the interjected "manifestations" of the first service at the Newman Street Church.54 We cannot quote them at large; here are some examples. In the course of his exposition of the first chapter of I Samuel, Irving mentions the church as barren . . . on which the ecstatic voice interposes: "Oh but she shall be fruitful: oh! oh! oh! she shall replenish the earth and subdue it—and subdue it!" A little further on, another breaks in with less appositeness to the subject: "Oh, you do grieve the Spirit—you do grieve the Spirit! Oh! the body of Jesus is to be sorrowful in spirit! You are to cry to your Father—to cry, to cry, in the bitterness of your souls! Oh it is a mourning, a mourning, before the Lord—a sighing, and crying unto the Lord because of the desolations of Zion—because of the desolations of Zion—because of the desolations of Zion!" There were seven of these voices heard during the course of the service. They were all pious, but repetitious, and, one would think (with Mrs. Oliphant), quite unnecessary, interruptions of the service.
It is more difficult to convey a notion of what the "speaking with tongues" was like. The "tongues" were thought at first to be real languages. Observers of the Scotch instances are very clear that, although unintelligible to their hearers, they were languages with recognizable structure as such.55 Cardale easily separated in J. Macdonald's utterances two distinguishable tongues.56 Mary Campbell declared that the tongue which she spoke was ordinarily that of the Pelew Islanders.57 The opinion soon became settled, however, that the "tongues" were an ecstatic heavenly and no earthly speech. The piercing loudness and strength of the utterance was its most marked characteristic. One witness speaks of it as "bursting forth" from the lips of a woman, "with an astonishing and terrible crash."58 Baxter says that it fell on him at his private devotions so loudly that he stuffed his handkerchief into his mouth to keep from alarming the house.59 Irving's own description of it is as follows: "The whole utterance from the beginning to the ending of it, is with a power, and strength, and fullness and sometimes rapidity of voice, altogether different from that of the person's ordinary utterance in any mood; and I would say, both in its form and in its effects upon a simple mind, quite supernatural. There is a power in the voice to thrill the heart and overawe the spirit after a manner which I have never felt."60 Carlyle once heard it, and he gives a characteristic description of it.61 "It was in a neighboring room. . . . There burst forth a shrieky hysterical 'Lah lall lall!' (little or nothing else but l's and a's) continued for several minutes. . . . 'Why was there not a bucket of water to fling on that lah-lalling hysterical madwoman?' thought we or said to one another." Doubtless both accounts are somewhat colored by the personal equation.
We may imagine what a public service would be like liable to interruptions by such manifestations. Henry Vizetelly, in his Glances Back Through the Years (1893), gives us a vignette picture of Irving in his new chapel in Newman Street. "What chiefly attracted me to the chapel in Newman-street was the expectation, generally realised, of the spirit moving some hysterical shrieking sister or frantic Boanerges brother (posted in the raised recess behind Irving's pulpit), to burst forth suddenly with one of those wild rapid utterances which, spite of their unintelligibility, sent a strange thrill through all who heard them for the first time. . . . He had grown gray and haggard-looking, and this, with his long, straggling hair and restless look, emphasized by the cast in his eye, gave him a singularly wild and picturesque appearance. His voice, too, was piercingly loud, and his gestures were as vehement as those of any street ranter of the day."
I think you will not be sorry, however, to place by the side of this a full-length portrait of one of those early-morning prayer-meetings held in the Regent Street Church, which were the scene of the first public displays of the "power." You will bear in mind that the hour is six in the morning, which in the winter was before dawn. "The church appeared to me," writes our observer,62 "to be pitch dark; only the lights from the gas lamps shining into the windows enabled us to grope our wayforward. It seemed to be entirely full, but my friend accosted a verger, who led us to an excellent seat, nearly opposite the reading desk. After the people were seated the most solemn stillness prevailed. The sleet beating upon the windows was the only sound that could be heard. The clouded sky and the driving snow increased the obscurity, and it was not for some time that we could perceive our nearest neighbors, and assure ourselves that the place was full from one end to the other. I quite believe in the exquisite simplicity and entire sincerity of Mr. Irving's whole character. I believe him to have been incapable of deliberately planning the scene which followed. Had he, however, been the most consummate actor that ever lived, had he studied the art of scenic portraiture and display from his youth up, he could not have produced a finer effect than on this occasion. Just as the clocks outside struck six, the vestry door opened and he entered the church with a small but very bright reading lamp in his hand. He walked with solemn step to the reading desk, and placing the lamp upon it, immediately before him, he stood up facing the audience. Remember, this was the only light in the place. It shone upon his face and figure as if to illuminate him alone. He had on a voluminous dark blue cloak, with a large cape, with a gilt clasp at the throat, which he loosened at once, so that the cloak formed a kind of a background to his figure. Tall, erect, and graceful, he stood for a few moments in silence, his pale face in the white light, his long dark locks falling down upon his collar, his eyes solemn and earnest, peering into the darkness of the building. . . . After a few musical, earnest words of prayer he opened the Bible before him, and began to read the twenty-second chapter of Revelation. If I were to live a hundred years I should never forget the reading of that chapter. I believe it exceeded in effect the finest speech and most eloquent sermon ever uttered. The exquisite musical intonation and modulation of voice, the deep and intense pathos of delivery, as if the speaker felt every word entering into his own soul, and that he was pouring it out to create a sympathy with his own feelings in others—all this was very wonderful, and totally absorbing every thought of the audience. But when he came to that verse, 'I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star,' the effect of the last five words was electrical. The people could not cheer nor applaud, nor in any way relieve their feelings. There was a kind of hard breathing, a sound of suppressed emotion, more striking than the loudest plaudits could have been. The reader himself stopped for a moment as if to allow his unwonted emotion to subside. Before he could resume there came from a woman who was two or three seats behind me, a sound so loud that I am sure it might have been heard on the opposite side of the square. I have been trying to find a word by which to describe it, and the only word I can think of is the word 'yell.' It was not a scream nor a shriek; it was a yell so loud and so prolonged that it filled the church entirely, and as I have said, must have been heard far beyond it. It was at first one single sound, but it seemed in a short time to resolve itself into many separate sounds—not into articulate words by any means. They were far more like the sounds uttered by a deaf and dumb child modulating its tones, but wholly innocent of speech. This was the beginning and the ending of the so-called 'unknown tongues' in Regent Square, by which I mean they never varied from nor improved upon this type. How any one could be so deluded as to fancy in them any words or syllables, to say nothing of any language, I could never understand. There was no articulation, and no attempt at it. Had there been now and then something like a word, it was mixed up in such a jargon of sound, it was uttered with such rapidity, and in such a long continued and prolonged yell that, led up to it as I had been by the adjuncts of the scene, by the weirdness and obscurity of the building, I was never deceived by it for one moment. After a few minutes' utterance of these 'unknown tongues,' the excited woman began to speak in articulate English words. It was still in the same loud yell, slightly subdued by the necessity of speech. The utterances were chiefly texts of Scripture of an exhortative kind—the first word being uttered three times over, each one louder than the last, the last calling forth the woman's powers to the utmost, her breast heaving and straining with the exertion. On this occasion the English began oddly enough, with the word, 'Kiss! Kiss!! Kiss!!! the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way.' This morning there was only one manifestation. Generally there were two; on several occasions I heard three, and once four. They proceeded, however, from the same women, for while the second was speaking the first recovered her strength, and as her companion's voice died away in subdued murmurs, she burst out anew, as if a dozen spirits were contending in her. When I look back on that first morning, I feel moved with the deepest pity and regret for poor Edward Irving. He was greatly excited and overcome. In his honest heart, he believed that God had honored him and favored him above all the ministers in London. I can see him now before me, as I saw him then, meekly and humbly saying, 'I will now finish reading the chapter in which I was interrupted by the Holy Spirit, speaking by this young woman.' Yes I heard him say this with my own ears. Already the charm of the service was gone. He seemed glad to conclude it, as if he were afraid his own gentle words could detract from and injure the holy impression that had been produced. . . ."
Edward Irving himself "never received the power, nor attained to any supernatural utterance, though no one more earnestly sought after it."63 As Erskine in Scotland, so Irving in London, had to be content with the role of observer of others' endowments. Nor was the actual number of those who enjoyed the gifts at any time very large. "Of the many hundred individuals who for the first twelve months attended in London upon these utterances, and who were, one and all, praying for the same gifts, not so many as twelve attained to the utterances." "The leading persons who, for many months gave forth the utterances, and wrought the strong conviction of the work being of God were two ladies"64—and one of them (Miss Hall) was not only declared by her sister prophetess (Miss Cardale) to be a false prophetess,65 but was constrained to confess that on some occasions at least she was herself the author of her utterances.66
Of course we are in the presence here of hysteria.67 There are those who take occasion from this fact to exonerate Irving, in whole or at least in large part, for his vagarious course. "Oh," cries an appreciative biographer, "that the whole sad tribe of prophetic pedants and hysterical pietists had gone their own way, leaving him to go his!"68 Did they not go their own way? And was it their fault that Irving never had a way of his own? Why burden "the Albury sages" or the crowd of hysterical women which surrounded him, and to whom he gave all too willing an ear, with "the shipwreck of Irving's genius and usefulness"? Is not their own shipwreck burden enough for them to bear? Were it not juster to say simply that this was the particular kind of fire Irving chose to play with, and that, therefore, this is the particular way in which he burned his fingers? It is altogether probable, being the man he was, that if it had not been in these, he would have burned them in some other flames.69
I HAVE called your attention to the discrediting which befell the Irvingite gifts. This discrediting was wrought not only by the course of history which confounded all the expectations based on them, but also by the confession which was made by one and another of the "gifted" persons that they had suffered from delusion. Let me remind you of this, and at the same time point out that all the gifts are involved in this discrediting. The characteristic Irvingite gift was the "tongues," and the accompanying "prophecy." Robert Baxter introduced a new manifestation of authoritative and predictive deliverances, which was assumed to belong to the "Apostolic" gift. But all the "prophets" committed themselves, when speaking in "the power," to the genuineness of his inspiration. Their credit falls thus with his. But again, their gifts are inextricably bound up with the gift of "healing." You will remember that Mary Campbell "spoke with tongues" before she was healed; and that the descent of the "power" on Margaret Macdonald was preliminary to its descent on James Macdonald, who by it was made the first faith-healer of the movement. By him both Margaret Macdonald's and Mary Campbell's healing was performed—the initial steps of the restoration of the "gifts."
It is impossible to separate these cases of healing from the other gifts with which they are historically connected. And in general the several "gifts" appear on the pages of the New Testament together, and form so clearly connected a body that it would be difficult to separate them from one another. Nevertheless many attempt their separation, and, discarding or at any rate neglecting the other gifts revived in the Irvingite movement, contend vigorously that the gift of healing the sick is a permanent endowment of the church, and has been illustrated by numerous cases essentially like those of Margaret Macdonald and Mary Campbell down to to-day. This assertion is very clearly made by a clergyman of the church of England, Joseph William Reynolds, in a book dealing with what he calls The Natural History of Immortality. "Many facts, attested by honest, capable, painstaking witnesses," he says,1 "show the reality in our own days of healings which exceed the limits of all known natural and human means, so that no reasonable doubt ought to exist as to their being given of God in confirmation of our Christian faith. Clergy and laity of the English church, various non-conforming ministers, medical men, lawyers, and professors of physical science, with a large number of healed persons, present indisputable evidence that the Gift of Healing is now, as in the Apostolic Age, one of the signs which follow those who believe." The claim is precise, and the belief which it expresses is somewhat wide-spread. Already thirty years ago (1887)2 there were more than thirty "Faith-Homes" established in America, for the treatment of disease by prayer alone; and in England and on the European Continent there were many more. International conferences had already been held by its advocates, and conventions of narrower constituency beyond number. It counts adherents in every church, and, if for no other reason than its great diffusion, it demands careful attention.
I am a little embarrassed to know how to take up the subject so as to do it justice and to bring the full truth out clearly. On the whole, I fancy it will be fairest to select a representative book advocating this teaching, and to begin with an analysis of its argument. The way being thus opened, we shall probably be able to orient ourselves with reference to the problem itself in a comparatively brief space. The book I have selected for this purpose as, on the whole, at once the most readable and the most rational presentation of the views of the Faith-Healers, is Doctor A, J. Gordon's The Ministry of Healing, or Miracles of Cure in All Ages. The copy of this book at my disposal belongs to the second, revised edition, issued in 1883. Gordon writes in a straightforward, businesslike style, in excellent spirit, with great skill in arranging his matter and developing his subject, and with a very persuasive and even ingenious disposition of his argument, so as to present his case in the most attractive way. He expresses his purpose as "to let the history of the church of all ages answer to the teaching of the Scriptures on this question, without presuming to dogmatize on it himself."3 Already we get the impression that he knows how to present his matter so as not only to please readers, but also to remove such prejudices against his cause as may be lurking in their minds, and to predispose them to follow his guidance. We do not lose this impression as we read on. After an introductory chapter on ''The Question and Its Bearings," we are at once given a series of chapters on "The Testimony of Scripture," "The Testimony of Reason," "The Testimony of the Church," "The Testimony of Theologians," "The Testimony of Missions," "The Testimony of the Adversary," "The Testimony of Experience," "The Testimony of the Healed." You will observe the power of such a disposition of the matter; it almost convinces us to read over the mere titles of the chapters. At the end there come two chapters on the "Verdict"—called respectively the "Verdict of Candor" and the "Verdict of Caution"—and finally the "Conclusion." We must now look a little more closely into the contents of this full and admirably marshalled argument.
Our logical sense meets with a shock at the first opening of the volume. On the very first page the author represents asking the question. What is a miracle? as "evading the issue"; and toward the close of the first chapter he formally declines to define a miracle. This, as the outcome of a chapter on "The Question and its Bearings," beginning a volume undertaking to give proof of the existence of "miracles of cure in all ages," is far from reassuring. We open our eyes wider, however, when we observe that this method of dealing with the subject is not peculiar to this author, but is somewhat characteristic of the advocates of Faith-Healing. Robert L. Stanton, for example, in an able essay printed in The Presbyterian Review, takes up the same position.4 "It is well in the outset," he says, "to have a definite conception of the topic to be handled." He then proceeds by way of rendering the subject more definite to express a preference for "the category of the supernatural, instead of that of the miraculous." Such methods can bear only one of two meanings. They either yield the question in debate altogether—for no one who is a Christian in any clear sense doubts that God hears and answers prayer for the healing of the sick in a generally supernatural manner—or else they confuse the issue. The former is certainly not their intention; these writers do not mean to yield the point of the strict miraculousness of Faith-Healing. Stanton's selected instances, on which he rests his defense of Faith-Healing, are all such as are meant to demonstrate specifically miraculous working. Everywhere the use of means naturally adapted to bring the cure about, such as the surgeon's knife or the articles of the materia medica, are, if not forbidden, yet certainly discouraged by the practitioners of Faith-Healing, and represented as a mark of lack of trust in God; and dependence on God alone, apart from all use of natural means, is represented as the very essence of the matter.5 After refusing at the outset to define a miracle, we observe Gordon, accordingly, showing no hesitancy later on in defining it sharply enough, and asserting that it is just this which is wrought in Faith-Healing. When the testimony is all in, and he comes to deliver the verdict, he declares decisively,6 "a miracle is the immediate action of God, as distinguished from His mediate action through natural laws"—than which no definition could be clearer or better. This, he now says, this and nothing else, is what we pray for in Faith-Healing. It is plain, therefore, that these writers do not mean to yield the question when they decline to define a miracle at the beginning of their arguments. Precisely what they contend for is that express miracles of healing—healings by the "immediate action of God, as distinguished from His mediate action through natural laws"—still take place in numerous instances. The only effect of their refusal of definition at the outset, therefore, is to confuse the issue.
Now, this confusion of the issue is a very serious matter. It has first of all the effect of permitting long lists of unsifted cases to be pleaded as proofs of the proposition defended, although a large number of these cases would be at once excluded from consideration on a closer definition of exactly what is to be proved. Thus the verdict of the simple reader is forced, as it were: he is led to look upon every instance of answer to prayer as a case in point, and is gradually led on through the argument in the delusion that these are all miracles. It has next the effect of unjustly prejudicing the reader against those who feel constrained to doubt the reality of specifically miraculous Faith-Healing as if they denied the supernatural, or any real, answer to prayer, instead of merely the continuance through all time of the specific mode of answer to prayer which comes by miracle. The confusions thus engendered in the reader's mind are apt, moreover, to eat pretty deeply into his own modes of thinking, and to end by betraying him into serious errors. He is likely, for example, to be led to suppose that in the cases adduced for his consideration he has examples of what real miracles are; and thus to reduce the idea of miracles to the level of these Faith-Healings, assimilating the miracles of our Lord, for example, to them and denying that miracles in the strict sense have ever been wrought, even by our Lord. Or, on the other hand, under a more or less vague consciousness that the instances of Faith-Healing adduced do not prove what they are really adduced to prove, he may gain the impression that they do not prove what they are ostensibly adduced to prove, that is to say, the supernatural answer to prayer; and thus he may be betrayed into doubting the reality of any answer to prayer whatever. Readers of the literature of Faith-Healing will not need to be told that no merely hypothetical effects of this confusing way of arguing the question are here suggested. Each of these effects has actually been produced in the case of numerous readers.
So far is confusion between things that differ pressed, in the attempt to obtain some petty argumentative advantage, that, not content with refusing to discriminate miracles (the continued recurrence of which some deny) from special providences (which all heartily recognize as continually occurring), some writers make a vigorous effort also to confound the miraculous healing of the body with the supernatural regeneration of the soul, as not merely analogous transactions, but transactions so much the same in essence that the one cannot be denied and the other affirmed. Gordon permits himself, for example, to write: "Is it right for us to pray to God to perform a miracle of healing in our behalf? 'The truth is,' answers an eminent writer,7 ' that to ask God to act at all, and to ask Him to perform a miracle are one and the same thing. . . .' We see no reason, therefore, why we should hesitate to pray for the healing of our bodies any more than the renewal of our souls. Both are miracles. . . ."8 The effect of writing like this is obviously to identify miraculous Faith-Healing with the cause of supernaturalism in general; and thus the unwary reader is led, because he believes in the regeneration of the soul by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit and in a prayer-hearing God, to fancy that he must therefore believe in miraculous Faith-Healing. A very unfair advantage is thus gained in the argument.
The deeper danger to the reasoner himself which comes from thus obscuring the lines which divide miracles, specifically so called, from the general supernatural, although already incidentally suggested, seems to require at this point more explicit notice. When once the distinguishing mark of miracles is obliterated, it is easy to eliminate the specifically miraculous altogether by the simple expedient of sinking it in the general supernatural; and that not merely in contemporary Christianity, but in the origins of Christianity also. Numerous recent advocates of Faith-Healing have definitely entered upon this path. Thus Prebendary Reynolds, to whose book allusion has already been made, is perfectly sure that the miracles of Faith-Healing are as truly miracles as those that Christ wrought while on earth. But, the fence between miracles properly so-called and the general supernatural having been conveniently let down for him by his instructors, he is not so sure that miracles, in the sense of effects wrought immediately by God without the intervention of natural forces, ever occurred. He seeks analogies in mesmerism, hypnotism, and the like, and permits himself to write a passage like this: "Dr. Rudolf Heidenhaun gently stroked once or twice along Dr. Kröner's bent right arm; at once it became quite stiff. Other muscles, other members can be acted on in like manner. The effects are similar to effects produced by catalepsy. This shows how easy it was for our Lord, with His divine knowledge and power, to work every kind of healing."9 Even Prebendary W. Yorke Fausset insists that the healing works of our Lord were wrought by Him not in virtue of His Deity but on the plane of His humanity, and differ not in kind but in degree "from the wonderful works of human healing, or, at all events, of healers who have wrought 'in the name of Jesus Christ'"—in which, it is needless to say, he finds nothing that is strictly miraculous, though everything that is "spiritual," that is to say, supernatural.10 Some may look upon this movement of thought, to be sure, with indifference. The late Charles A. Briggs, for example, taught that "if it were possible to resolve all the miracles of the Old Testament into extraordinary acts of Divine Providence, using the forces and forms of nature in accordance with the laws of nature; and if we could explain all the miracles of Jesus, His unique authority over man and over nature, from His use of mind-cure, or hypnotism, or any other occult power," "nothing essential would be lost from the miracles of the Bible."11 Few of us will be able, however, to follow Doctor Briggs in this judgment, a judgment which would confound Moses with the magicians at Pharaoh's court, and reduce our Lord, in these of His activities at least, from the manifestation of God in the flesh to the exhibition of the occult powers of man. It is not easy to view, therefore, with other than grave apprehension the breaking down of the distinction between miracles and the general supernatural; because it tends to obliterate the category of the miraculous altogether, and in the long run to assimilate the mighty works of our Lord to—we put it at its best — the wonders of science, and Him, as their worker, to—we still put it at its best—the human sage.12
There is yet another effect, coming, however, from the opposite angle, which follows on breaking down the distinction between miracle and the general supernatural, that we should not pass by without notice. What is the natural attitude of a man expecting a miracle? Simple expectancy, of course; just quiet waiting. But what is the natural attitude of a man praying for help from God, which is expected to come to him through the ordinary channels of law? Equally, of course, eager activity directed to the production of the desired result. Hence the proverb, God helps those who help themselves; and the exhortation, on a higher plane, Work and pray. No man prays God for a good harvest and then neglects to plan and plant and cultivate. If he did he knows perfectly well he would neither deserve nor receive the harvest. Similarly God requires effort on the part of those who receive His supernatural salvation—even though there are elements in it which do not come by "law." ''Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling," Paul commands, "for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." One would think that Gordon, who insists that the healing of our bodies and the renewal of our souls stand on the same plane with respect to the nature of the Divine activities involved, would infer from such a passage that since the gift of salvation from God does not supersede our duty to work out our own salvation, so the gift of bodily healing from God cannot supersede the duty of working out our own healing—each by the use of the appropriate means. But no; he requires us to discard means, and all seeking through means. Whence there follows, on the one hand, an additional proof that, despite his refusal to define "miracle" for his readers at the outset, he carries in his own mind a perfectly definite conception of what a miracle is; and, on the other hand, an indication of the fanatical character of his teaching as to Faith-Healing—if it does not turn out to be not merely supernatural but distinctively miraculous in its mode of occurrence. He who prays for a harvest, and does not plough, and sow, and reap, is a fanatic. He who prays for salvation and does not work out his own salvation is certainly a Quietist, and may become an Antinomian. He who prays for healing and does not employ all the means of healing within his reach—hygiene, nursing, medicine, surgery,—unless God has promised to heal him in the specific mode of precise miracle, is certainly a fanatic and may become also a suicide. Whence, at this stage of the inquiry, we may learn not merely the controversial unfairness and the logical error of refusing to define at the outset of a discussion like this what a miracle is, but also the grave practical danger which arises from such a procedure of leading men into destructive fanaticism. It is the essence of fanaticism to neglect the means which God has ordained for the production of effects.
We perceive that Gordon is bound to produce evidence not merely of supernatural healing but distinctively of miraculous healing in order to justify his contention. And with his manner of opening the discussion before us, we feel bound, not only for our own instruction but for our protection as well, to scrutinize the evidence he offers with care, in order to assure ourselves that it unambiguously justifies the conclusion that God has continued the gift of specifically miraculous healing permanently in the church. The heads of the chapters in which the proof is adduced have already been mentioned. The first of them appropriately invites us to consider the testimony of Scripture. Three scriptural passages are cited and commented upon at large. These are: Matt. 8:17: "And he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses"; Mark 16:17, 18: "These signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover"; and James 5:14, 15: "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Elsewhere, and in treatises of other writers, we find hints of other passages supposed to bear on the subject, such as John 14:12, 13: "Verily, verily, I say unto you. He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father";13 the enumeration of miraculous gifts by Paul in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians, without hint of their approaching cessation, and14 "among other powers which are conceded to belong to the Church to the end or 'till He come'"; and especially numerous instances of actual Faith-Healing in the Old and New Testaments alike, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles, which we are told, "is full of it." It is observable, however, that the three passages on which Gordon rests his argument really constitute the case of the other writers as well. We must take a look at them, though, naturally, as brief a look as can be made serviceable.
We begin with the second of them, Mark 16:17, 18, because we may rule it out of court at once as spurious. Of course its spuriousness may be disputed, and some very learned men have disputed it. The late Dean Burgon published a lengthy treatise in its defense, and the Abbé Martin wrote an even more lengthy one. Nevertheless it is just as certain that it is spurious as anything of this kind can be certain. The certainty that it was not originally a part of Mark's Gospel, for example, is the same kind of certainty as that the beautiful verse
"For Thy sorrows we adore Thee,
For the griefs that wrought our peace;
Gracious Saviour, we implore Thee,
In our hearts Thy love increase,"
which we now sing as the last verse of the hymn, "Sweet the moments, rich in blessing," was not originally a part of that hymn. Or if you prefer to put it so, the certainty that the last twelve verses of Mark are spurious is the same in kind as the certainty that the rest of Mark's Gospel is genuine. And it may be added that it is just as well for you and me that they are spurious. For the gifts that are promised to "them that believe" seem not to be promised to eminent saints merely, one here and there who believes mightily, but to all believers; and what is promised to believers is not one or two of these gifts but all of them. "These signs," it is said, "shall accompany them that believe." I should not like to have the genuineness of my faith made dependent upon my ability to speak with new tongues, to drink poison innocuously, and to heal the sick with a touch.15 And, let us note in passing, it certainly was not understood in the Apostolic Church that these gifts were inseparable from genuine faith. The incident of the conversion of the Samaritans recorded in the eighth chapter of Acts stands there, as we have seen in a previous lecture,16 for the express purpose of teaching us the contrary—that, to wit, these signs accompanied not them that believed but them on whom the Apostles laid their hands in order to confer these signs upon them.
The employment of this spurious passage by Gordon in this connection brings him into inevitable embarrassment. For although, when commenting on it here,17 he insists, as he must, that "this rich cluster of miraculous promises all hangs by a single stem, faith"—"the same believing to which is attached the promise of salvation"; and that "whatever practical difficulties we may have in regard to the fulfillment of this word, these ought not to lead us to limit it where the Lord has not limited it"; yet, when he comes, at a later point, to meet the objection that "if you insist that miracles of healing are possible in this age, then you must logically admit that such miracles as raising the dead, turning water into wine, and speaking in unknown tongues are still possible"18—he does "throw one half of the illustrious promise into eclipse," denying that that part of it, at least, which says that this sign shall follow believers, "They shall speak with other tongues," does still follow them. Nor will it be easy to show that "taking up serpents," whatever that may mean, or drinking deadly things without harm, are not "miracles on external nature, like the turning of the water into wine." The truth is that these items bear an apocryphal appearance, and constitute one of the internal indications, answering to the sufficient external proof, that the passage is uncanonical and of uninspired origin.19
The third passage, that from James 5:14, 15, we are ourselves inclined to set aside with equal summariness as irrelevant. We allow, of course, that the presumption is ''that the passage refers to an established and perpetual usage in the Church"; we should not find it difficult to believe that "the oil is applied as a symbol of the communication of the Spirit, by whose power healing is effected"; we agree that "the promise of recovery is explicit, and unconditional" to the prayer of faith.20 But we see no indication in the passage that "a peculiar miraculous faith" is intended; no promise of a healing in a specifically miraculous manner; and no command to exclude medicinal means, or proof of their exclusion. If we read the passage with simple minds, free from preconceptions, I think we shall find in it nothing but a very earnest exhortation to sick people to turn to the Lord in their extremity, and a very precious promise to those who thus call upon Him, that the Lord will surely hearken to their cry.
The passage does not stand off by itself in isolation: it has a context. And the context throws light upon the simplicity of the meaning. "Is any among you suffering?" asks James, and advises, "let him pray. Is any cheerful? let him sing praises. Is any among you sick? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him." Is there anything here that is not repeated before our eyes every day, whenever any Christian is sick—except that we have allowed the formal churchly act of intercession for him to fall into desuetude? Here is really the gravamen of the passage to us. The explicit promise is to the official intercession of the church, the Apostolic enforcement, I take it, consonant to the entrance into history of the organized church, of our Lord's gracious promise, that "when two or three are gathered together in His name, there He is in the midst of them." Even nature itself should have taught us the value of this organic supplication; does not Émile Boutroux, for example, declare21 that "a collective will has nothing to do with the mathematical sum of the individual wills"? And can we wonder that our Lord should honor the same principle? Apart from this failure, we have nothing in the passage that transcends universal Christian experience. Where is there any command in it to exclude the ordinary medicinal means? Where is there any promise of a specifically miraculous answer? When James says, "If any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him," are we to understand him to forbid that wisdom should be sought in the natural way of thoughtful consideration, and to promise that God will bestow it after a specifically miraculous fashion? When our Lord says, with complete absence of any hint of limitation as to the field in which the request moves, "Ask and ye shall receive," are we to understand Him to forbid all effort in any sphere of life, and to promise specifically miraculous provision for all our needs? Are we to expect to be fed with manna from heaven, or are we not rather to learn to work with our own hands, that we may have wherewith to give to the necessities of others as well as to supply our own wants? There seems to be no more reason in our present passage to exclude medicinal means from the healing of the sick, or to expect a miraculous answer to our prayers in their behalf, than there is in our Lord's promise to exclude the use of all means of seeking to supply our daily necessities and to depend wholly on miraculous gifts from heaven.
It is probable that the common impression received from this passage of the promise of a miraculous healing in large part arises from what seems the extreme formality of the transaction recommended. The sick man is to send for the elders of the church to pray for him, and they are to anoint him with oil. We are apt here to get the emphasis misplaced. There is no emphasis on the anointing with oil. That is a mere circumstantial detail, thrown in by the way. The emphasis falls wholly on the sick man's getting himself prayed for officially by the elders of the church, and the promise is suspended wholly on their prayer, on the supposition that it is offered in faith. The circumstantial clause, thrown in almost incidentally, "anointing with oil in the name of the Lord," is susceptible of two interpretations.22 The reference may be to the use of oil as a symbol of the power of the Spirit to be exercised in the healing; or it may be to the use of oil as a medicinal agent. In neither view is the employment of medicinal agents excluded; but in the latter view their employment is distinctly alluded to. The circumstance that oil was well-nigh the universal remedy in the medical practice of the day favors the latter view, as does the employment of, as Archbishop Trench puts it, "the mundane and profane" instead of the "sacred and religious word" for the act of anointing.23 The lightness of the allusion to the anointing points in the same direction. It scarcely seems that so solemn an act and so distinct an act as ceremonial anointing could be alluded to so cursorily.24 If, on the other hand, the allusion is to the use of oil as a medicinal agent, everything falls into its place. The meaning then is in effect, "giving him his medicine in the name of the Lord." The emphasis falls not on the anointing, but on its being done "in the name of the Lord," and the whole becomes an exhortation to Christians, when they are sick, to seek unto the Lord as well as to their physician—nay, to seek unto the Lord rather than to their physician—with a promise that the Lord will attend to their cry. If any is sick among you, we read, let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray for him, rubbing him with his oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick. Where is there promise of miracle in that?25
What James requires of us is merely that we shall be Christians in our sickness as in our health, and that our dependence then, too, shall be on the Lord. It is Just the truly Christian attitude that he exhorts us to, precisely as Prebendary Reynolds describes it. "We avail ourselves," says he,26 "of all that science knows, and thank God for it. The resources of civilization are ours, and we use them to the utmost. We labour in wise and kindly nursing, and thankfully call in the medical skill which the devout and learned and experienced physician and surgeon have at command. It is God, however, the real physician, who gives the chief medicine; who makes drugs, operations, kindness, nursing to have true healing power; who takes away sin, sickness, death, giving righteousness, healing, eternal life." Do you say this is a purely clerical view? It is the physician's view also, if the physician happens to be a Christian. "I dressed the wound and God healed it," wrote Ambroise Paré, the great Huguenot physician—the father of modern surgery—on the walls of the École de Médecine at Paris.27 Let me read you, however, more at large how a more modern Christian physician puts it. "In the healing of every disease of whatever kind," writes Doctor Henry E. Goddard,28 "we cannot be too deeply impressed with the Lord's part of the work. He is the operator. We are the co-operators. More and more am I impressed that every patient of mine who has ever risen up from his sick bed onto his feet again has done so by the divine power. Not I, but the Lord, has cured him. And it is this fact that the Lord does so much, that gives to different systems of healing their apparent cures. He has healed many a one in spite of medicine, in spite of mental healers, in spite of ignorance, in spite of negligence and poor and scanty food. Nineteen out of twenty cases of grippe will get well without doing anything for it, if we are willing to bear it until that time. Pneumonia, even, is what the physician calls a self-limiting disease, and many cases will recover alone if we are willing to run our chances with it. The arm may drop into boiling water and become scalded. Nine times out of ten it will take care of itself and heal. But if that arm is mine it is going to have an outward application which will make it feel better the moment it touches it. And more important by far, it is going to be dressed aseptically to prevent blood poisoning. It might get well itself, probably would; but it is going to have my little co-operation, the most intelligent that I can render, that the Lord may have the open door through which He can come in and bless it." It is the very spirit of James, I take it, that speaks in this Christian physician. If you are sick, you will use means, all the means that exist; but you will use the means in the name of the Lord, and to Him you will look for the issue.
The scattered passages of Scripture which are appealed to here and there by Faith-Healers to buttress the chief proof texts need not delay us more than a moment. The examples of miraculous cures adduced from the Bible, are, of course, irrelevant. No one of the parties to this discussion doubts that they were truly miraculous. The question at issue is, whether such miraculous works may still be performed, now that the period of revelation has gone by. The appeal to the enumeration of gifts in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians is equally irrelevant, since the question at issue is precisely whether they are ordinary gifts continued in the church, or extraordinary gifts connected (according to the eighth chapter of Acts) directly with the Apostles. John 14:12 is worthy of more attention. The Faith-Healers do not even profess, however, to do the great works which Christ did—His miracles on nature, His raising of the dead—and much less can they point to their healings as greater works than these.29 No miracles, in the strict sense of the word, greater than those which Christ did, have been done by any of His followers. But in and through His followers He has, in fulfilment of this promise, manifested the power of the Holy Spirit, foreshadowed and begun at Pentecost, beyond anything witnessed in His lifetime; and He is thus conquering the world to Himself through the "greater works" of His disciples. That He refers here to these spiritual works is generally agreed.30
I have reserved to the last the passage which Gordon appeals to first, because its application to the present matter raises a question of doctrine which it seemed more convenient to discuss at the end, rather than at the beginning of a scrutiny of proof texts. When speaking of our Lord's abounding miracles of healing, Matthew says that He did them "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying. Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases" (Matt. 8:17). The passage has, of course, no direct bearing on the assertion that miraculous cures continue to be performed in the church. It speaks only of Christ's own miraculous cures, and does not in the remotest way suggest that His followers were to work similar ones. It can be made useful to the Faith-Healing hypothesis, not directly, but only indirectly, through the doctrine which it is supposed to teach. That doctrine is declared to be this: "That we have Christ set before us as the sickness-bearer as well as the sin-bearer of His people"; "that Christ endured vicariously our diseases as well as our iniquities"; and, it being true "that our Redeemer and Substitute bore our sicknesses, it would be natural to reason at once that He bore them that we might not bear them." As, then, "we urge the transgressor to accept the Lord Jesus as his sin-bearer, that he may no longer have to bear the pains and penalties of his disobedience," so we should urge the sick "to accept Him as his pain-bearer."31 Otto Stockmayer is quoted as teaching32 "that if our Redeemer bore our sicknesses it is not his will that his children should remain under the power of disease, any more than that, having borne our sins, it is his will that they should remain under condemnation and disobedience." In enunciating the same doctrine, Stanton makes use of the remarkable expressions,33 "that the Atonement was not only made for sin but for disease, the fruit of sin," and "that in atoning for our diseases of body, just as for our sins of soul, Christ took them upon Himself that He might bear them away, and thus relieve His people from the need of bearing them."
It would be difficult to find more confused expressions than these. What exact meaning can be attached, for example, to the phrase, "atonement for disease"? Is it intended to suggest that disease is fault for which we are responsible? Atonement can be made only for fault. And why should the phrase, "bear disease away" be employed in connection with this text? Does not the word employed here for "bearing sickness" express not bearing away, removing, but bearing, enduring? And by what right can Stockmayer—the "theologian of Faith-Healing," as he is called—parallel the "power of disease" with "condemnation and disobedience" as alike taken away by Christ's redemption, unless he means to convey the idea that, as there is now no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus, so there can now be no disease to them that are in Christ Jesus; and as all disobedience is wilful and sinful, so also is all sickness? If so, we can only infer that none of us are in Christ Jesus: our universal physical decay and death are but the external manifestations of our inward corruption and our eternal doom.34
It will doubtless be more profitable, however, to seek to lay our finger on the source of error in the statement of the doctrine, and to correct it, than to track out all its confusions. This error does not lie in the supposition that redemption is for the body as well as the soul, and that the saved man shall be renewed in the one as well as in the other. This is true. Nor does it lie in the supposition that provision is made in the atonement for the relief of men from disease and suffering, which are fruits of sin. This too is true.35 It lies in confusing redemption itself, which is objective and takes place outside of us, with its subjective effects, which take place in us; and in failing to recognize that these subjective effects of redemption are wrought in us gradually and in a definite order. Ideally all of Christ's children were saved before the foundation of the world, when they were set upon by God's love, and given by the Father to the Son to be saved by Him. Objectively they were saved when Christ died for them on the tree, purchasing them to Himself by His own precious blood. This salvation was made their personal possession in principle when they were regenerated by the Holy Spirit, purchased for them by the death of Christ in their behalf. It was made over to them judicially on their believing in Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost thus given to them. But it is completed in them in its full effects only when at the Judgment Day they stand, sanctified souls, clothed in glorified bodies, before the throne of God, meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Here, you perceive, is a process. Even after we have believed in Christ, and have a title as justified men to the benefits bought for us by His blood and righteousness, entrance into the actual enjoyment of these several benefits remains a process, and a long process, to be completed in a definite order. This is true of the spiritual blessings which come to us through the atonement of Christ. We are no longer under the curse of sin. But we remain sinners. The struggle against indwelling sin, and therefore indwelling sin to struggle against, continues through life. We have not yet obtained, and we are not yet made perfect. It is little that we continue also physically weak, liable to disease, and certain to die. For the removal of these physical evils, too, provision is made in the atonement. But the benefit here too is not received all at once. For us, as in the broader sphere of the world's salvation, death is the last enemy to be conquered. Though the redeemed of the Lord and no longer under the dominion of sin, the results of sin remain with us: inwardly we are corrupt, outwardly we are the prey of weakness and disease and death. We shall not escape from either in this life. Who is there that sins not? And who is there that does not suffer and die? But ultimately we are relieved from both. Of indwelling corruption when our sanctification is completed and, having been made holy, we depart, which is far better, to be with the Lord, the Holy One. Of outward weaknesses, at that redemption of the body which, while here below, we only, groaning and travailing in pain, wait for in its due season—that is, at the resurrection, when death shall be swallowed up in victory. This is the teaching of the Bible; and this is what Christ illustrated when He healed the sick in His ministry on earth that men might see, as in an object-lesson, that provision was made in His substitutionary work for the relief of every human ill. There is included in this, however, no promise that this relief is to be realized in its completeness all at once, or in this earthly life. Our Lord never permitted it for a moment to be imagined that the salvation He brought was fundamentally for this life. His was emphatically an otherworld religion. He constantly pointed to the beyond, and bade men find their true home, to set their hopes, and to place their aspirations, there.
But, we are asked, are there not to be prelibations here? Is there no ''intermediate work of healing and recovery for the body" here as there is "a vast intermediate work of cleansing and renewal effected for the soul?"36 Assuredly. The good man will not fail to be the better for his goodness even in his bodily life. Of course we may make an absurd application of even so obvious a maxim. That devout physician whom we had occasion to quote a while ago, warns us against such an absurd application. He is unwise, he declares,37 who teaches "Obey the commandments, the laws of spiritual life, and you will thereby attain physical health." "That does not follow," he declares. "As well say, 'Obey the commandments and you will become large possessors of this world's goods,' or, 'Obey the commandments and you will therefore be exempt from the law of gravitation.'" What he means to say is that the Lord, in placing His people in this complex of forces whose regular working constitutes what we call the laws of nature, subjects them, of course, to these laws. We cannot expect to be emancipated from the laws which govern the action of the forces in the midst of which our life is cast. That would be to take us out of the world. No matter how holy we are we must expect, if we cast ourselves from a tenth-story window, to fall with the same certainty and with the same rate of accelerating velocity as other men. The law of gravity is not suspended in its action on us by our moral character. We cannot grow rich by simply rubbing some Aladdin's lamp and commanding supernatural assistance; economic law will govern the acquisition of wealth in our case as in that of others. When typhoid germs find lodgment in a body, even though it be the body of a saint, they will under favorable conditions, grow and produce all their dreadful effects, with the same certainty with which the seeds of corn which you cast into the ground grow and bring forth their harvest. The same laws on which you depend for the harvest of corn, you may equally depend on for the harvests of disease which you reap year after year. We live then in a complex of forces out of which we cannot escape, so long as we are in this world, and these forces make for disease and death. We are all left here, like Trophimus at Miletum, sick. And if we insist upon being relieved of this sickness we can expect only the answer which was given to Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you."
All this is true, and yet it too is not incapable of exaggeration in its application. And that for two very obvious reasons. In the first place it also is a law of nature that the pure in heart and clean in conduct escape many evils, among which must be ranged multifarious sicknesses. We need not labor so obvious a point.38 We find even Matthew Arnold remarking on this law in his allusive manner. "Medical science," says he,39 "has never gauged—never perhaps set itself to gauge—the intimate connection between moral fault and disease. To what extent, or in how many cases, what is called illness is due to moral springs having been used amiss, whether by being overused or by not being used sufficiently—we hardly at all know, and we too little inquire." But we do not found here solely on a law of nature. Even the laws of nature are under the control of God in their operation, and we point to the good providence of our God. The Lord is rich in mercy to them that trust in Him, and it would be strange indeed if there were no visible and tangible fruits of this His mercy perceptible in our bodily life. There is a promise for this life as well as for that which is to come, and it is definitely said that to those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all these things shall be added. Are not the providence and grace of God enough for us in this "our little journey in the world"? Or, dissatisfied with these, are we to demand that the laws of nature be suspended in our case; that, though in the world, we shall, in this sense too, be not of it? What scriptural ground is there for expecting miraculous healings of the body through these ages of our earthly pilgrimage, in addition to that benefit which the body obtains from its animation by a renewed and sanctifying soul, from our Lord's watchfulness over it as His purchased possession, from the indwelling in it of the Holy Spirit as His Temple, from the Father's listening to the prayers of His saints for its keeping and healing, and from all God's goodness to it in fulfilment of His word that godliness has the promise of the life that now is as well as that which is to come? None has been pointed to, and we are constrained to believe none exists. For soul and body we are in the Lord's loving keeping. We trust in Him and He keeps us. There is no specific promise that He will keep us otherwise than by His providence and grace. Do not these suffice for all our needs?
We have examined all the scriptural passages formally appealed to by Gordon. The considerations which he places under the heading of "the testimony of reason," however, are closely related to the scriptural argument, and no doubt require a passing word. They are these: (1) that, "if miracles should cease, they would form quite a distinct exception to everything else which the Lord introduced by His ministry"; and (2) that "the use of miracles of healing as signs seems to argue strongly for their permanency; if the substance remains unchanged, why should the sign which was originally chosen to exhibit it be superseded?" The force of the argument here lies in its assumptions. If we begin by assuming that miracle-working was instituted by our Lord as an ordinance of the Christian religion; was established, like Baptism and the Lord's Supper, as a visible, permanent sign of the invisible reality; why, of course, their cessation becomes a striking exception to the rule and calls for explanation. But clearly there is nothing to justify these assumptions. And if there were, too much would be proved to suit the case. For Gordon proceeds at once to argue that only miracles of healing abide. But surely it cannot be contended that only miracles of healing were introduced by our Lord by His ministry, and only His miracles of healing were "signs." If Gordon's argument is worth anything it proves that all forms of miracle-working practised by Christ were continued as the permanent possession of His church. It is not even claimed that that is the fact.
It might not be absolutely fatal to the assertions of the Faith-Healers that the scriptural grounds on which they base them prove too precarious to bear their weight. It is conceivable that the fact of the continuance of miraculous healing could be made so clear that we should be compelled to confess its continuance though no Scripture had promised it. Stanton prefers to take this attitude toward the matter. He deprecates beginning with scriptural "theory" and thence proceeding to investigate "fact," as essentially an a priori method. He insists that "the question is pre-eminently one of fact"; which can only be fairly tested by a ''process of rigid induction." "Facts are never heresies," he says, "either in science or religion." Accordingly he proposes to begin with facts and argue back from them to their true cause. He opens his discussion, therefore, with a collection of selected cases which he represents as undeniable in point of fact and details, and as of such inherent character, being immediate healings by prayer of organic diseases, that they necessitate the conclusion that they are veritable miracles. From the fact of miracle-working, thus established, he turns back to the Scripture, to see whether it is possible that it contains no warrant for such great transactions. There is a certain apparent strength in this mode of procedure. It involves, however, a confession of the weakness of the scriptural evidence. If the evidence of Scripture were felt to be in itself conclusive, its consideration would scarcely be postponed until facts were accumulated to guide in its interpretation. Gordon's method of appealing to Scripture first, certainly does more honor to Scripture and gives the impression that in dealing with it he feels himself on solid ground. The scriptural evidence having failed, however, his case too falls back on the bald facts of experience.
The titles of the chapters in which Gordon adduces the testimony of the alleged miraculous facts, have already been enumerated. He calls in turn upon the witness of the church, of theologians, of missions, of the adversary, of experience, and of the healed. There is an almost too great completeness in this accumulation of sources of testimony. There is nevertheless observable a certain eclecticism in dealing with it. The testimony of the church, for instance, does not mean the testimony of the church speaking as an organized body—whether as a whole or in some one or other of its organized sections. It means the testimony of Christians of the past, the record of which is found in what is called "church history." It is a very eclectic "church history," however, which is appealed to. The testimony of the first three centuries is adduced, and partly that of the fourth. Then comes a sharp break, at the age of Constantine, at which time, as we have shown, really explicit evidence only begins. Later, it is true, under the caption of "The Testimony of Theologians," Augustine's opinion is cited—with what consistency we may judge when we observe that all the miracles of "the Apostate Church," which is said to have begun with the age of Constantine,40 are declared to be "the testimony of the Adversary," working counterfeit miracles, and only so bearing witness to the currency of the true. In this chapter on "The Testimony of the Church" we are carried over at once to the testimony of the Waldenses, Moravians, Huguenots, Covenanters, Friends, early Baptists and Methodists. With reference to these the remark is made that, in every revival of primitive faith, "we find a profession of chaste and evangelical miracles." How far this description applies to the marvels it has professedly in view we must let the reader of the annals of those troubled movements himself decide. We think ourselves that a remark made by Gordon at an earlier point is far more applicable to them: when he spoke of the likelihood of every true upstirring of genuine emotion being accompanied by more or less fanaticism which ought not to be permitted to cloud our judgment as to the genuineness of the emotion itself. The testimony of theologians is, naturally, a matter of opinion, while that of missions, experience, and of the healed themselves is only a further record of facts, artificially divided into these heads, which constitute in their totality the whole evidence before us. It is to the facts thus gathered that we are to give our attention.
What now are these facts? What is their nature? And what are we to think of them? The first thing which strikes the observer, as he casts his eye over them, is that they stand sadly in need of careful sifting. What we are looking for is such facts as necessitate or at least suggest the assumption, in order to account for them, of the ''immediate action of God, as distinguished from His mediate action through natural laws." That is Gordon's own definition of miracle,41 and what is affirmed is that these facts argue miraculous action. The great body of the facts offered to us, however, argue nothing of the kind.
In many of them means are openly used, means which rank among the specifically best means known to medical science. This is the case, for example, with all the instances of cures made in the Faith-Houses. Who doubts that multitudes of the sick would find cure under the skilled and tireless nursing of a Dorothea Trüdel, who was known to pass the whole day without food, utterly forgetting the claims of her body in devotion to her work?42 Who doubts that great physical benefit could be found by many in "the silence and retirement of the simple cure of Pastor Rein"? Doctor Weir Mitchell won fame as a physician through his "rest-cure." What medical man will not agree that good nursing and a quiet and restful state of body and mind are among the best of curative agents? The very existence of Faith-Houses, indeed, is the sufficient refutation of the doctrine of Faith-Healing which seeks support from them. By hypothesis a miraculous cure should be immediate, as in cause so in time—without delay as without means—on the exercise of simple faith. The existence of Faith-Hospitals is a standing proof that it is not immediate, either in cause or in time: that a place of retirement is helpful, and that good nursing has its reward. Faith-Houses may raise a protest against the methods of current medical practice, but they do so by setting up a particular method of practice of their own—not by introducing miraculous healing as over against natural.
It is observable, further, that the cases which are successfully treated in the Faith-Houses have their natural limits. Not every one is cured. The brother of Samuel Zeller, who succeeded Dorothea Trüdel in her House in Switzerland, sought cure there for years in vain. Dorothea Trüdel's own health remained throughout her life "very feeble"; she suffered from curvature of the spine from an early age and died at forty-eight of typhus fever. Zeller himself "strongly repudiated the whole system of doctrine" of the typical Faith-Healers, especially "the idea that sickness in God's people is the result of unbelief"; and sharply reprobated the practice of holding public meetings and expecting cures at them, attributing failure to lack of faith. He did not require that medical treatment should be renounced; he merely put his own dependence on rest, quiet, and prayer to God.43 The failures of cure on this system cannot be accounted for merely by an appeal to the sovereignty of God in answering prayer. They find their account also in the nature of the diseases treated. We quote the following from the pen of one of the most eminent aurists of the last generation. "The avoidance of tangible affections by faith-curers," says Doctor St. John Roosa,44 "is a circumstance that tells unanswerably against their doctrines. I was once sent for to see a lady who was living in what was called a faith-cure establishment in this city, in order that I might, if possible, relieve her from impairment of hearing. This I found to be chiefly caused by a collection of wax in the outer canal of the ear, which was easily removed. The removal caused great improvement in the hearing. I had never seen a faith-cure establishment before, and I confess I was somewhat surprised that I was sent for. I asked, 'How is it possible, that, if without the use of any means except prayer to God, internal diseases are cured, affections of the organs that we cannot see, those that we can see, and that are susceptible of relief by the ordinary physician, believing or unbelieving, cannot be cured by prayer? . . .' It is a terrible shock to the believer in this system to think that God can cure a case of disease of the liver or of the nerves, and will cure it by the use of the prayer of faith alone, but (and I mean to speak reverently) He will have nothing to do with a case of deafness."
We think it fair to urge also that the sifting of cases must exclude all those cures which can be paralleled by cures that have, in similar circumstances, been effected obviously without miracle. If we are seeking instances which demonstrate that a miracle has been wrought, surely we must have cases essentially different from those which are known to be curable without miracle. Obviously, for example, we cannot confidently infer miracle to account for a cure which "the Apostate Church" can perform as well as we; which mind-cure can equally readily work on a pantheistic, the Buddhist on an atheistic, and the mesmerist on a purely materialistic basis. These cures may seem to us startling, but they cannot be thought by us to be miraculous. It is, however, no exaggeration to say that the great mass of the cures wrought by Faith-Healers are closely paralleled by some or all of these sister practitioners. Your time need not be taken up by descriptions here of the wonders worked by Doctor Perkins's metallic tractors, by mesmerism, mind-cure, the waters of Lourdes.45 Let me give you but a single partial illustration of how completely they repeat one another's triumphs.
Stanton rests his case for Faith-Healing on a half-dozen wisely chosen instances. The first one which he gives is that of a young woman with "a withered hand which was bent in upon her wrist as no well hand by any act of the will can be, and presented nothing but a mass of skin and bones, with not a vein visible upon it." This withered hand was cured by prayer. Well, here is first a Roman Catholic parallel among the cures of Prince Hohenlohe: "Captain Ruthlein, an old gentleman of Thundorf, seventy years of age, who had long been pronounced incurable of paralysis which kept his hand clinched, and who had not left his room for many years, was perfectly cured."46 And here is a parallel from mesmerism: "Edward Wine, aged seventy-five, who had been paralyzed ten years in an arm and leg. The left arm was spasmodically fixed to the chest, the fingers drawn toward the palm of the hand and wasted, quite incapable of holding anything." Perfectly cured by mesmerism.47 And here is a parallel from imagination: Sir Humphrey Davy placed a thermometer under the tongue of a paralyzed patient simply to ascertain the temperature; the patient at once claimed to experience relief, so the same treatment was continued for two weeks, and by that time the patient was well.48 And, finally, here is a somewhat similar case from pure deception. "The wife and mother of the house was suffering from inflammatory rheumatism in its worst form. She could not move, was terribly swollen, and could not bear to be touched. . . . One of the hands of the patient was fearfully swollen, so that the fingers were as large very nearly as the wrist of an ordinary child three years of age. . . . Nearly all the space between the fingers was occupied and the fist was clinched. It was plain that to open them voluntarily was impossible, and to move them intensely painful. . . . The hand had not been opened for several weeks." "I held," says Doctor Buckley, the operator,49 "two knitting-needles about two inches from the ends of the woman's fingers, just above the clinched hand, and said, 'Now, Madam, do not think of your fingers, and above all do not try to move them, but fix your eyes on the ends of these needles.' She did so . . . and the fingers straightened out and became flexible without the least pain. I then moved the needles about, and she declared that all pain left her hand except in one spot about half an inch in length." The fact is that imagination and concentrated attention are powers which need to be reckoned with in all cures, and only such cures as exclude a possible appeal to them, or to shock, or the like, are available for evidence of the miraculous. The simulation of disease by hysteria is also very remarkable. There was a woman in St. Luke's Hospital, New York City, who had a tumor to all, even the most skilled, diagnosis. But the tumor simply disappeared on the administration of ether and the consequent withdrawal of nervous action.50 When all these cases are excluded, the list left as available evidence for miraculous action will be short indeed.
Sifting is not even yet, however, at an end. We must exclude also all cures which seem to us, indeed, to have come in answer to prayer, but of which there is no evidence that they have come miraculously, that is, by the immediate action of God, without all means. The famous cure of Canon Basil Wilberforce is a typical instance of what we mean. He declares that he has no shadow of doubt that he "was healed by the Lord's blessing upon His own word, recorded in St. James 5:15, 16." "But," he adds, "as in so many other cases, there was sufficient margin of time, and possibility of change of tissue, between the anointing and the recovery to justify the sceptic in disconnecting the two."51 All Christians believe in healing in answer to prayer. Those who assert that this healing is wrought in a specifically miraculous manner, need better evidence for their peculiar view than such as fits in equally well with the general Christian faith.
Finally it must be added with great firmness that sifting is needed by the cases reported by the Faith-Healers to isolate the instances the details of which can be trusted. Of certain obvious facts any honestly disposed person is a competent witness; of certain others few persons are competent witnesses. Among these latter facts may safely be classed the accurate diagnosis of disease. Few physicians, of even lifelong practice, are really good diagnosticians; perhaps there is none of whatever eminence who has not been more than once wholly deceived in the nature of the disease he has been called upon to treat—as the autopsy has proved.52 Every one who has sought to trace up alleged cases of Faith-Healing will have felt the grave doubt which frequently rests upon the identification of the disease which is asserted to have been cured. Yet we are asked to believe in multifarious miracles on the faith of the diagnosis of this, that, or the other unknown person. Nothing is more remarkable than the scorn which the average Faith-Healer pours on physicians as healers, and the unbounded confidence which he reposes in them as diagnosticians. It is with him the end of all strife if he can say that the case was hopeless on the testimony of Doctor This or Doctor That.
It is to be feared that it must even be said that Faith-Healers, in their enthusiasm over the wonderful things they are testifying to, are not always as careful as they might be in ascertaining the actual facts of the cases of cure which they report. It may seem to them sometimes almost a sacrilege to make so close an inquisition into the facts, the cold facts, when so much has obviously been done. Gordon records,53 with apparent approval, the reply of one of a visiting body of German preachers and professors, when inspecting Zeller's Faith-Home in Switzerland. When asked to give his opinion of the work, he responded: "When the Holy Spirit speaks with so much power, we can do no otherwise than listen to His teaching; critical analysis is out of the question." But the Holy Spirit Himself says, "Try the Spirits, whether they be of God," and it is no more good religion than good sense, in a matter of such moment, to abnegate the functions of a critic. It is necessary for even pious men to guard against misleading their fellows.
The matter may be illustrated by the case of one of the most celebrated instances of Faith-Healing ever wrought in America. It was deservedly celebrated, because it took place in a sphere of operation into which Faith-Healing rarely penetrates. It was nothing less than the instantaneous knitting of a broken bone in answer to prayer. Doctor Charles Cullis is said to have reported it to Doctor W. E. Boardman, who printed it in his book called The Great Physician. Gordon quotes it from Boardman, and Stanton makes it one of his test cases. The narrative comes ultimately from the father of the boy in question, "Doctor Reed a physician of Philadelphia." The story as reported in his words by Boardman is this: "The children were jumping off from a bench, and my little son fell and broke both bones of his arm below the elbow. My brother, who is a professor of surgery in the college at Chicago, was here on a visit. I asked him to set and dress the arm. He did so; put it in splints, bandages, and in a sling. The dear child was very patient, and went about without a murmur all that day. The next morning he came to me and said: 'Dear papa, please take off these things.' 'Oh no, my son, you will have to wear these five or six weeks before it will be well.' 'Why, papa, it is well.' 'Oh no, my dear child, that is impossible!' 'Why, papa, you believe in prayer, don't you?' 'You know I do, my son.' 'Well, last night when I went to bed, it hurt me very bad, and I asked Jesus to make it well.' I did not like to say a word to chill his faith. A happy thought came. I said, 'My dear child, your uncle put the things on, and if they are taken off he must do it.' Away he went to his uncle, who told him he would have to go as he was six or seven weeks, and must be very patient; and when the little fellow told him that Jesus had made him well, he said, 'Pooh! pooh! nonsense!' and sent him away. The next morning the poor boy came to me and pleaded with so much sincerity and confidence, that I more than half believed, and went to my brother and said: 'Had you not better undo his arm and let him see for himself?' . . . My brother yielded, took off the bandages and the splints, and exclaimed, 'It is well, absolutely well!' and hastened to the door to keep from fainting." Could anything be more conclusive? Here is expert medical testimony to the fracture and to the cure also. Here is the testimony of the father himself, a chief actor in the scene, to all its details. We have the additional guarantee of the repetition of it as authentic by a series of the chief advocates of Faith-Healing. And it is a case of a broken bone, and must be a miracle. But here comes the trouble. "The case was thoroughly investigated by Doctor J. H. Lloyd of the University of Pennsylvania, and in The Medical Record for March 27, 1886, Doctor Lloyd published a letter from this very child, who is grown up and become a physician. Dear Sir:" it reads, "The case you cite, when robbed of all its sensational surroundings, is as follows: The child was a spoiled youngster who would have his own way; and when he had a green stick fracture of the forearm, and, after having had it bandaged for several days, concluded he would much prefer to go without a splint, to please the spoiled child the splint was removed, and the arm carefully adjusted in a sling. As a matter of course, the bone soon united, as is customary in children, and being only partially broken, of course all the sooner. This is the miracle. Some nurse or crank or religious enthusiast, ignorant of matters physiological and histological, evidently started the story, and unfortunately my name—for I am the party—is being circulated in circles of faith-curites, and is given the sort of notoriety I do not crave. . . . Very respectfully yours, Carl H. Reed."54 Conscious fraud here is not to be thought of for a moment. But all the more powerfully the lesson is driven home to us that in matters of this kind testimony to details requires the closest scrutiny. There is scarcely an item in this case which is correctly reported in the current story.
It seems to be the experience of every one who has made a serious attempt to sift the evidence for miraculous healing that this evidence melts away before his eyes. Many remarkable cures are wrought, but nothing which compels the inference of miraculous healing seems to be unambiguously established. What emerges as final result is that a sharp line is drawn between the class of cures which can be obtained and the class of cures which cannot be obtained by faith, and that this line is drawn approximately at the exact spot where the line runs which separates cures which can from those which cannot be obtained by mind-cure, mesmerism, Perkins's tractors, and other similar practices. There are classes of sickness which Faith-Healing can cure, and there are classes of sickness which it cannot cure. In particular, for example, it is powerless to heal broken bones, to renew mutilations, to do so little a thing as to restore lost teeth. Doctor Charles Cullis is reported as saying: "In no case in God's word is there a promise that we may pray over a broken bone and anoint the sufferers with oil; only the sick. A broken bone is not sickness, and should be put in the hands of a surgeon." And "he has repeatedly and publicly, in the presence of thousands at Old Orchard Beach and elsewhere, disclaimed all attempts by the prayer of faith to secure from God the restoration of an amputated hand or the setting of a broken limb."55 This is, of course, only a confession that there is no question of miraculous action in Faith-Healing. What is the use of invoking miracle to do work equally well done without miracle, and repudiating all effects for which miracles are required? If a man asserts that he controls the motion of the sun by miraculous power, I want some better proof that he does so than his pointing to the rising and setting of the sun every day at its appointed time. And I want no better proof that he works no miracle in the case, than that the sun under his incantations moves no otherwise than it moves without them.
After the statement of the evidence from facts Gordon has nothing further to do but to draw his conclusion. This he does in a chapter called ''The Verdict of Candor," while he gives a warning to his brethren not to press beyond limits in another chapter entitled "The Verdict of Caution." In both of these chapters some very good things are said, and some which are rather odd. Of the latter class is the designation of health "as the first-fruits of redemption,"56 whereas the Apostle speaks of the redemption of the body as the last thing to be looked for; and the suggestion that the reason for the fewness of instances of Faith-Healing is due to the difficulty of "an individual prayer making headway against the adverse sentiment of the great body of Christians"57—which sounds more like Mrs. Eddy than a Christian minister. It does not seem necessary, however, to dwell on these things. We take leave of the book with a profound conviction that its argument is inconsequent, and its contention unfounded either in Scripture or in fact.
And now let us very briefly sum up from our own point of view what it seems that we ought to think of Faith-Healing. First of all, as regards the status quæstionis, let it be remembered that the question is not: (1) Whether God is an answerer of prayer; nor (2) whether, in answer to prayer. He heals the sick; nor (3) whether His action in healing the sick is a supernatural act; nor (4) whether the supernaturalness of the act may be so apparent as to demonstrate God's activity in it to all right-thinking minds conversant with the facts. All this we all believe. The question at issue is distinctly whether God has pledged Himself to heal the sick miraculously, and does heal them miraculously, on the call of His children—that is to say without means—any means—and apart from means, and above means; and this so ordinarily that Christian people may be encouraged, if not required, to discard all means as either unnecessary or even a mark of lack of faith and sinful distrust, and to depend on God alone for the healing of all their sicknesses. This is the issue, even conservatively stated. For many will say that faith gives us as clear a title to the healing of our bodies as to the salvation of our souls; and this is often interpreted to mean that it is the heritage of every Christian, if a true Christian, to be free from all disease and bodily weakness, and it is a proof of special sin in a Christian if he is a special sufferer from disease.
With reference to this question it is to be said at least: (1) No promise of such miraculous action on God's part exists in Scripture. (2) No facts have been adduced which will compel the assumption that such miraculous healing takes place. (3) Such a miraculous method of action on God's part would be wholly unnecessary for the production of the effect desired; God can heal the bodily hurt of His people without miracle. (4) The employment of such a method of working would be contrary to the analogy of God's mode of working in other spheres of His activity. (5) It would be contrary to the very purpose of miracle, which would be defeated by it. If miracles are to be common, every-day occurrences, normal and not extraordinary, they cease to attract attention, and lose their very reason of existence. What is normal is according to law. If miracles are the law of the Christian life they cease to serve their chief end. (6) The contention of the Faith-Healers overlooks numerous important biblical facts. Primarily the fact that the miraculous gifts in the New Testament were the credentials of the Apostle, and were confined to those to whom the Apostles had conveyed them—whence a presumption arises against their continuance after the Apostolic age. Then, again, that there are instances of sickness in the New Testament which were not removed by the prayer of faith. There is, for example, Paul's leaving of Trophimus at Miletum sick, and his recommending to Timothy, when sick, not the seeking of healing by the miraculous act of God, but the use of medicinal means—the drinking no longer of water but of a little wine for his stomach's sake and his often infirmities. It seems quite clear that Paul did not share the views of our modern Faith-Healers. (7) The Faith-Healing arguments presuppose or lead to many false doctrines. A desultory allusion to some of them here may not be without its uses. (A) Sickness and sin are often connected in an utterly unscriptural manner. That all the sicknesses which afflict our race are a result of sin is true. But that special sicknesses infer special sin our Saviour Himself explicitly denies. (B) These arguments would be equally valid to commend perfectionism. If sinfulness is not to be removed in this life, neither is sickness. Both are the fruits of guilt, and both are removed on the basis of the work of the guilt-bearer; and both are removed only when the subjective salvation is completed. (C) They are founded on a completely unscriptural view of the functions of suffering, and the uses of sickness and pain. All sickness and suffering are spoken of as if they were from the evil one alone; as if they were sheerly the mark of the displeasure of God; and as if they were a fruit of particular sin. Scripture says: "Behold whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." Sickness is often the proof of special favor from God; it always comes to His children from His Fatherly hand, and always in His loving pleasure works, together with all other things which befall God's children, for good. (8) The Faith-Healing contention leads to contempt for God's appointed means, and this leads to the fanatical attitude of demanding from God apart from all means that for the attaining of which He has ordained appropriate means. We are not to refuse to cultivate the soil and then demand to be fed by miracle. (9) The Faith-Healing practice leads to the production of "professionals," standing between the soul and God. There is grave danger in a soul permitting an unauthorized intermediary to take up a position between it and the gracious activities of God toward it. From this germ the whole sacerdotal evil has grown. And, on the other hand, to the practitioner himself there comes inevitable temptation to spiritual pride and autocracy, which is most disastrous to his spiritual life; and sometimes even something worse.
One of the phenomena of the Faith-Healing delusion has been the production of a series of these practitioners, whose activities have not always been wholesome. From time to time an individual healer has risen to public notice and attracted the attention of the whole religious community, for a time at least attaining tremendous vogue and commanding great applause. There was, for example, to confine ourselves to recent times, Prince Alexander of Hohenlohe, who during the first half of the nineteenth century created a great stir with his miraculous healings in Austria and Germany.58 A lesser light burned contemporaneously in Ireland in the person of Father Matthew.59 One of the most admirable of these figures was Johann Christoph Blumhardt who, says William James, quite spontaneously developed in the early forties of the last century "an extremely pure faculty of healing," which he exerted during nearly thirty years.60 Perhaps Doctor A. B. Simpson of New York, who has been since 1887 the president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, founded in that year at Old Orchard, Maine, has been blamelessly in the public eye as a healer of the sick through faith for as long a period as any of our recent American healers.61 The fame of others has been, if more splendid, at the same time less pure and less lasting. The name of a certain A. Schrader, for example, was in everybody's mouth twenty years ago. Then there was the romantic figure of Franz Schlatter, with his meteoric career in Denver and elsewhere in the West, as Messiah and divine healer.62 But perhaps the most striking of all these personages was John Alexander Dowie,63 whose work in Chicago as general overseer of the Christian Apostolic Catholic Church in Zion—the product of his activities—attained gigantic proportions. A Scotchman by birth, an Australian Congregationalist in previous ministerial affiliation, he created, rather than built up, in Chicago a great religious community, over which he ruled with despotic power, and in the "divine healing rooms" of which he wrought many a cure. No doubt, the proportion of successful cures wrought by him was not larger than in the case of others. If a note in one of the issues of his newspaper—Leaves of Healing—may be taken as a criterion, the work of healing in his hands can scarcely be pronounced successful, "I pray and lay my hands," he says, "on seventy thousand people in a year." That would give a hundred and seventy-five thousand in two years and a half. Yet in the two years and a half immediately preceding the date of this statement he reports only seven hundred cures.64 One success in every two hundred and fifty trials does not impress one as a very successful ministry of healing to the sick and sorrowing world.65
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 Mediæval 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.5
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 rehgion, and has in the course of a very few years overspread the earth.
The late Doctor St. John Roosa once described mind-cure 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 Faith-Healers 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 Faith-Healers 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 homœopathy (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 book-religions, 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, dictatorial 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: (1) 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."45 "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."46 "If the body shows forth a bruise, the shadow is showing forth as a defective shadow. Then the substance, or would-be 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 hes 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." "Will-power 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 God-nature 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. Tolle, 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 nitricum, 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 . . . recommends 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,68 "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.73 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,76 "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.'"83 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 Osler 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 miracle-like 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
Notes to Lecture I - The Cessation of the Charismata
Notes to Lecture II - Patristic and Mediæval Marvels
Notes to Lecture III - Roman Catholic Miracles
Notes to Lecture IV - Irvingite Gifts
Notes to Lecture V - Faith-Healing
Notes to Lecture VI - Mind-Cure