This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
IN 1849 I first saw performances in "animal magnetism." A "professor," of fluency, fine appearance, and marked self-possession, lectured with illustrations ; feeble men after being " magnetized" became strong, and persons ordinarily reticent spoke eloquently on subjects suggested by the audience. Great excitement arose, and the attention of medical men was attracted to the curative powers of "magnetism." A dentist, who was also a physician, acquired the art, and a paralytic when under " the influence" moved an arm long useless. Persons whose teeth were extracted felt no pain during the operation.
Some years afterward, at boarding-school, a young man who was very devout occupied a room with me. A revival in town extended to the school, and the young man was brought from a meeting in a "trance" and placed upon the bed. He was unconscious for some hours; his limbs were rigid, and it was possible to lift him by the head and feet without his body yielding in the least degree; nor could the strongest man bend his arms. At length he opened his eyes, uttered pious ejaculations, and relapsed; this recurred at irregular intervals. By one o'clock in the morniug he had resumed his natural state. Feeling that he had been the subject of an unusual manifestation of the favor of God, he was very happy for some days. Similar seizures occurred to him during his stay at the institution, whenever religious meetings were unusually fervent.
In 185G, while in college, I first saw the phenomena of spiritualism as displayed by a " trance medium" and " inspirational speaker." Soon afterward I visited the Perfectionist community established by John H. Noyes, where the cure of disease without medicine and the possibility of escaping death were expounded.
In 1857 I found certain "Millerites" or "Adven-tists" in the interior of Connecticut who claimed power to heal by prayer and without medicine, and—if they could attain sufficient faith—to raise the dead. This they attempted in the case of a }roung woman who had died of fever, and continued in prayer for her until decomposition compelled the civil authorities to interfere. This case has been paralleled several times recently. Trances were also common among the Millerites at their camp-meetings, as they had been among the early Methodists, Congregationalists in the time of Jonathan Edwards, and certain Presbyterians and Baptists in the early part of this century in the West and South.
In 1859 the famous Dr. Newton arrived in Boston on one of his periodical visits, causing an extraordinary sensation. The lame who visited him leaped for joy, and left their crutches when they departed ; in some instances blindness was cured; several chronic cases were relieved, and astonishing results reported confounding ordinary practitioners, and puzzling one or two medical men of national reputation. I made Dr. Newton's acquaintance, and conversed with him at length and with entire freedom. His disciples became numerous; and "healing mediums" and physieians who cure by "laying on of hands" still exist, increasing rather than diminishing in number.
The circumstance of meeting a person who had been in the habit of going into trances in religious meetings, was an easy subject for "mesinerizers," had been cured by a " healer," and finally became a spiritualist and "trance medium," suggested the question whether there might not be a natural susceptibility acted upon by a general law. Nothing which could shed light upon this problem has been knowingly neglected by the writer during the past thirty years.
Two root questions arise concerning the phenomena; they are the inquiries which lie at the foundation of all knowledge: What are the facts, and how may they be explained ?