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.
(b) As for causing the bedridden to rise, and breaking up morbid conditions that had defied medicine while being aggravated by it, these are among the simplest applications of the principle involved. The confidence of those unfamiliar with the subject would be taxed beyond endurance by the narration of illustrative facts to which there is abundant testimony and which can be paralleled easily.
(c) Intelligent missionaries and travelers in heathen lands, where they have given any investigation to the subject, unite in testifying that extraordinary cures follow the enchantments and magical rites employed by priests and physicians claiming supernatural powers.
(d) The influence of witch-doctors among the negroes of Africa, both to produce disease and cure it, is as well authenticated as any facts concerning the "Dark Continent"; nor is it necessary to go there for illustrations, which can be found in great numbers in the South. Not long since an entire community in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, were greatly excited by the terrible diseases which followed threats made by a doctor of this sort. Voodooism has power to bring on diseases and also to cure; nor need this burden be placed upon the negroes and American Indians exclusively. In various parts of Austria, Germany, and Russia, among the peasantry and ignorant classes, belief in witchcraft, and the coincidences which sustain it, still exists; and on the authority of most distinguished physicians and surgeons in those countries, I state that the results both in inflicting and in removing what they never inflicted, which follow the operations of these witch-doctors, are often astonishing.
(e) There is an old proverb that "when rogues fall out, honest men get their dues." It is also true that when quacks fall to discrediting each other, principles may be discovered. In 18G5 there came to Detroit, Michigan, a pupil of Dr. Newton, Bryant by name, who performed cures as successfully as Newton himself. In company with Dr. J. P. Scott, a Presbyterian minister there, I visited Dr. Bryant, and saw him operate upon a score or more of patients (one of whom had been supposed to be doomed to a speedy death with ovarian tumor; Dr. Bryant removed the tumor, after which she lived some months and died of debility). To comprehend his methods fully I was operated upon for dyspepsia. About a year later, returning from New Orleans to Memphis, Tennessee, I found on board the steamer Dr. Newton, who had just come from Havana. He told me that in one day eight hundred persons had applied to him in that city. On the same steamer was Dr. B- of St. Louis, an aged physician who had been to Havana with a wealthy patient. I inquired of Dr. B- and others whether such great numbers had visited Dr. Newton, and was told that such was the report, that vast crowds had surrounded him from the day he arrived till he embarked, and that marvelous tales were told of the cures he performed. For several hours a day during four days I conversed with him concerning his career and principles. My conviction is that he believed in himself, and also that he would use any means to accomplish his ends. He would glide from fanaticism into hypocrisy, then into fanaticism, and from that into common sense, with the rapidity of thought. He said that he was influenced by spirits who told him what to say. He would use the name of Jesus Christ in what would seem a blasphemous manner; standing before an audience he would say, " I am now about to send forth shocks of vitality." He would move his arms backward and forward and exclaim, " In the name of Jesus Christ, I command the diseases in the persons now present to disappear! " He would go to the paralytic or lame and exclaim, "In the name of Jesus Christ, be healed of your infirmity." When I mentioned having seen " Dr." Bryant, Dr. Newton instantly denounced him as an "unmitigated fraud who had no genuine healing power." He claimed that he had cured Bryant of a malignant disease with which he found him suffering in a hospital; that Bryant had acted as his amanuensis for some time, and then left him, and had since been acting in opposition to him. Knowing that the manipulations by Bryant had been followed by some wonderful results in Detroit, I said to Dr. Newton:
"If Bryant be an unmitigated fraud, how do you account for his cures?"
"Oh!" said the doctor, "they are caused by the faith of the people and the concentration of their minds upon his operations, with the expectation of being cured. Now," said he, "none would go to see Bryant unless they had some faith that he might cure them, and when he begins his operations with great positiveness of manner, and they see the crutches he has, and hear the people testify that they have been cured, it produces a tremendous influence upon them; and then he gets them started in the way of exercising, and they do a good many things they thought they could not do; their appetites and spirits revive, and if toning them up can possibly reduce the diseased tendency, many of them will get well".
Said I, "Doctor, pardon me, is not that a correct account of the manner in which you perform your wonderful works?"
"Oh, no," said he; "the difference between a genuine healer and a quack like Bryant is as wide as the poles".
To question him further upon this line would have put an end to the conversation sooner than I desired.
But testing fundamentally the same methods before and since that interview on many occasions, always under the great disadvantage of not being able to profess supernatural aid, either of spirits or of God, and thus being shut up to affecting the mind by the laws of suggestion and association, and by the manner assumed, and finding a result similar in kind, and in some cases equal in extent, to any produced by Newton or others, I know that when he was explaining to me the success of Bryant upon the assumption that he had no healing power, he gave inadvertently the whole explanation of the healing as far as it is independent of mere physical manipulation. Dr. Newton had been to Havana with his daughter, very low with consumption. He was taking her North, doubtful if she would reach home alive. On my saying, "Doctor, why could you not heal her?" he mournfully replied, "It seems as if we cannot always affect our own kindred!"
(f) In working miraculous cures, the Mormons are fully equal to Catholics or Protestants. In Europe one of their chief methods of making converts is praying with the sick, who often recover; and similar success has often aided them in making converts in this country. The Rev. Nathaniel Mead, a highly respected clergyman, to whom Dr. Baird refers in his "history of the Town of Rye," authorized me to publish the following facts, with the sanction of his name.
In the year 1839 a Mormon priest came to the neighborhood where Mr. Mead resided, and obtained access to the room of an intelligent member of a Christian church, who had long been hopelessly ill. He asked permission to pray for her. Catching at anything, she consented. He prayed with great earnestness, and she at once began to improve and recovered with surprising rapidity. Convinced by the supposed miracle that God was with the Mormon priest, she left the Christian church and identified herself with the Mormons to the extent of deserting friends and home.
In the same locality, another member of a Christian church had been severely injured by a bar of iron which fell upon his foot, mangling and crushing it. The same Mormon priest prayed with him, with a similar result; the wound healed very soon, and the man became a convert to Mormonism.
So great was the faith of certain Mormon proselytes in Europe that the priesthood could work miracles, that one who had lost a leg and could not secure another through the prayers of the Mormon missionaries, crossed the Atlantic and made a pilgrimage to Salt Lake City, where he had an interview with Brigham Young. This fox-like prophet and miracle-worker, who could cope in intellectual keenness with Horace Greeley, said to him, " It would be easy for me to give you another leg, but it is my duty to explain to you the consequences. You are now well advanced in life. If I give you another leg, you will indeed have two legs until you die, which will be a great convenience; but in the resurrection, not only will the leg which you lost rise and be united to your body, but also the one which I now give you; thus you will be encumbered with three legs throughout eternity. It is for you to decide whether you would prefer the transient inconvenience of getting along with one leg till you die, or the deformity of an extra leg forever." The pilgrim concluded to remain maimed in this life, that he might not be deformed in that which is to come. This may be a myth, but it falls in well with Brig-ham Young's known character, and is as worthy of respect as the reasons given by professedly Christian faith-healers for not working miracles of this kind, which are that they do not find " any special promise for such cases," and that " they find no instance where the apostles gave new limbs".