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.
A fact concerning consumption is known to medical men and stated in works on hygiene, but often disbelieved. That fact is that pulmonary consumption, genuine and unmistakable, often terminates spontaneously in recovery, and frequently yields to hygienic methods. It is the opinion of one of the most celebrated physicians of Europe that for every two cases of death from consumption there is one ease that is either indefinitely prolonged, the patient living to be old, or entirely recovering and dying of old age, or of some entirely different disease. It may be asked how such a fact as this can be established. By two modes — one probable, the other conclusive. The probable is where the patient had all the external symptoms of the disease, and examination of the lungs by competent specialists gave results which agreed with each other and with the external symptoms, and the patient, by changing from a sedentary to an outdoor and active life, entirely recovers and lives for many years without return of the symptoms. Possibility of error in the diagnosis remains, but where all these conditions exist it is reduced to a minimum. Such cases are numerous. Conclusive demonstration is found in post-mortem examinations. The late Prof. Austin Flint of New York, author of the " Practice of Medicine," was also the author of a "Clinical Report on Consumption," and describes sixty-two cases in which an arrest of the disease took place; in seven cases it occurred without any special medical or hygienic treatment, and in four of the seven he declares that recovery was complete.
Prof. J. Hughes Bennett, of the Royal Infirmary at Edinburgh, in a lecture says: "Up to a recent period the general opinion has been that consumption almost always marches on to a fatal termination, and that the cases of those known to be restored were so few as to be merely an exception to the general rule. Morbid anatomy has now, I think, demonstrated that tubercles in an early stage degenerate and become abortive with extreme frequency, in the proportion of one third to one half of all the incurables who die over forty".
Both the Edinburgh "Journal of Medical Science" and the London "Lancet" indorse this conclusion. It is equivalent to saying that from one third to one half of all the incurables of Scotland who die over forty have had incipient consumption and got well of it. To meet those who would say that practically consumption does not mean the existence of a few isolated tubercles, but an advanced stage in which the lungs are in a state of ulceration, and the powers are so lowered that perfect recovery seldom or never takes place, Dr. Bennett proceeds to say that "Laennec, Andral, Cruveilhier, Kingston, Pressat, Boudet, and many others have published cases where all the functional symptoms of the disease, even in its most advanced state, were present, and yet the individual lived many years and ultimately died of some other disorder, and on dissection cicatrices and concretions have been found in the lungs." In that lecture Prof. Bennett exhibited the lungs of a man who died suddenly of congestion of the brain, aged fifty years. At twenty-two he had been given up to die of pulmonary consumption, recovered, lived nearly thirty years, and his lungs exhibited most indubitable marks of the progress and termination of the disease. It is easy to see that in such cases of recovery there came a time when the last tubercles softened; at such a time, any powerful mental stimulus, or pleasing change in circumstances, or physical stimulant compelling exercise in the open air, might be the element which would decide the question whether the system would rally or the process of innutrition and decay go on.
The heating of the minds of witnesses by a succession of testimonies must not be forgotten.
In one of the meetings conducted by the Rev. A. B. Simpson, I heard witnesses testify to the healing power of God, and one witness, who seemed to be a pillar and was specially called upon by Mr. Simpson, testified, stating that no one had greater reason to praise God than he, "for during the past year I have several times been miraculously and instantaneously raised from the jaws of death".
In Adelaide, Australia, at a meeting held in the Workmen's Hall, which was crowded, a Mrs. Morgan testified that for twenty years she had suffered from heart-disease, but the moment "Mr. Wood laid his curative hands upon me, I felt a quiet within and was conscious I was cured." The Rev. W. B. Short-house tendered some wonderful testimony; he described his own career of weakness which interfered with his ministerial duties, but now he was completely restored to health. Only two weeks previous, he said, some of his congregation told him that lie looked like death. As lie grew warm in his testimony, he described several marvelous cases, one of a man brought in dead who walked away without assistance. He had seen hundreds " touch the border of Mr. Wood's garment," and finally concluded by saying he was himself "a living example of miracles greater than those performed by the disci pies of Christ".
After seeing this in "Galignani's Messenger" in Paris, I ascertained from high authority in Australia that these narratives were greatly exaggerated, and that many relapses had occurred.
If such dangers exist in connection with the testimony of witnesses in religious meetings to physical facts, it may be thought that accounts of cases carefully written by honest men might be taken without so many grains of allowance. Having inquired into several of the most conspicuous with whose subjects I am acquainted, I have found that the condition of the patient prior to the alleged care has been magnified in the description. This has not always been so, but in most of the celebrated cases which I have personally investigated.
Many important facts have been omitted, sometimes because the witness did not regard them as of consequence; in other cases, it must be confessed, because the luster of the cure would be dimmed by their recital. A female evangelist, whose astonishing cure has been told to thousands, never mentions a surgical operation from which her friends know that she derived great benefit; and when asked why she did not tell of that, she replied, in substance, that she did not wish to divert attention from the great work that God had really wrought in her. Often the account of the cure has been exaggerated: relapses have not been published, peculiar sensations still felt, and resisted, have been omitted from the description, and the mode of the cure has been restricted to one act or a single moment of time, when in response to questions it appeared that it was weeks or months before the person could properly be said to be well. In all such cases it is obvious that the written testimony is of little value; indeed, it is seldom that a published account in books supporting marvels of this kind shows any signs of being written by a person who took the pains, if he possessed the capacity, to investigate the facts accurately. Frequent quotation of such accounts adds nothing to their credibility or value.
But after all deductions have been made, that most extraordinary recoveries have been produced, some of them instantaneously, from disease in some cases generally considered to be incurable by ordinary treatment, in others known to be curable in the ordinary process of medicine and in surgery only by slow degrees, must be admitted.
The object of these remarks is not to discredit all testimony, but to show the conditions upon which its value depends.