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.
Have these facts a common cause ? To solve the problem requires us to ascertain whether the effects are the same, and the limitations of the cause or causes are the same}. Do recoveries under the prayers and anointings of Dr. Cullis surpass in the nature of disease, rapidity of cure, and proportion of recoveries to the whole number of persons prayed for, those attested in connection with Mrs. Mix or those of the Rev. A. B. Simpson? Is there any reason to believe that Dr. Newton was less successful in the number, character, or permanence of the cures attributed to his touch and voice than those of the persons before named? Again, is there any testimony that they have achieved greater success than "Bethshau" in London? Further, can these be proved to have done any more than Prince Hohenlohe, or the priest Gassner, or the water of Lourdes? The subjects of these cures will, of course, chant the praises of the respective schools; but does the impartial student of the testimony see any reason to distinguish between them as to the number or character of the effects? They all sometimes cure paralysis, convulsions, cancers, tumors, spinal diseases, those peculiar to women, and relieve or cure chronic cases frequently, especially rheumatism, sciatica, neuralgia, and similar maladies. They succeed in some forms of acute disease. " Schools" in religion and medicine are prone to magnify their own achievements and depreciate those of others. Nor does this always spring from dishonesty; since faith often prevents that scrutiny which would reveal reasons for discounting testimony or appearances, while suspicion would lead to a treatment of the reports of others the opposite of that accorded to their own. I have seen subjects of spiritualist healers, mesmeric and magnetic healers, Roman Catholic and Russo-Greek miracles, and of the most conspieuous "faith-healers" and "mind-curers" in this country, and find no reason to believe that one has been more or less successful than others. A very important question is whether their Umita-Hons are the same. The limitations must have respect to what and how they heal, and the permanence of the cure. It will be noted that none of them can raise the dead, or if any profess ability to do so, or by prayer to restore to life, the rest will unite to deny the claim of the others, and so fully support our view. Nor can they give sight to one born blind, nor healing to one born deaf, where the cause of deafness is the absence of any of the organs necessary to hearing. Instances have been published where children who had lost their hearing by scarlet fever or other disease, have been made to hear by the manipulations of spiritualists or by the prayers of Catholics or Protestants ; but whether true or not, no case which can be shown to be one of congenital deafness or blindness can be attested where sight or hearing has been made possible by any other than surgical treatment. Further, none of them can restore a limb that has been cut off, or an eye that has been lost.
In mental derangement it is to be admitted that all have been successful in some cases of a functional character, and in some of protracted melancholia; but no authentic account has been adduced of the cure of dementia or idiocy.
Another common limitation is the existence of many cases of the same disease in which cures are effected, which they cannot relieve in the least. Pitiful instances could be detailed of persons who have traveled long distances, or have believed in the water, or the power of the dead body of an ecclesiastic, or of prayers at his tomb, or of the mystic touch of Newton, or of Dr. Cullis, or of a coterie who have made their headquarters at a famous resort on the coast of the Atlantic, and have died bitterly disappointed. Many have died while firmly believing that God would heal them, and that they were not about to die. Neither Catholic, Spiritualist, nor Protestant has any preeminence with regard to this limitation.
A remarkable attempt to Christianize the interior of Africa is now proceeding under the auspices of William Taylor, a missionary bishop. Oue of the company which he took out was an obstinate believer in the power of faith to draw from God such help as to enable him to dispense with medicine. This young man fanatically refused to take any medicine, and died a martyr to superstition which he mistook for faith. The last entry in his diary was: "I have n't the fever, but a weak feeling; but I take the promise ' He giveth power to the faint,' and I do receive the fact." The testimony of his medical adviser to his last conversation is: " Charlie, your temperature is 105, and pulse 130; normal is 98; the dividing line between life and death is 103. You are now dying. It is only a question of time; aud if you do not take something to break up this fever, it will surely kill you." The reply of the misguided youth was, "Well, then, I'll die; for I won't take any medicine." Bishop Taylor himself does not hold the view which, consistently carried out, practically caused the suicide of this young man. Almost all in the party had the African fever, and by the aid of medical skill recovered.
The limitations common to all are further illustrated by the following case, an account of which I received in writing from the eminent physician who had it in charge until the fatal termination. A minister of the gospel and his wife, widely known both in Europe and America, had a daughter-in-law to whom they were greatly attached. Her health began to fail, and all that medical treatment could do was done without avail. The diagnosis was one of ovarian tumor, and little hope was offered either to the invalid or to her friends. Finally she was made a subject of prayer by the minister and his wife, who earnestly besought God to heal her. They believed that they received an evidence in answer to their prayers that she would be cured; but being about to make a long evangelizing tour throughout the world, they prayed that if she was to get well, they might receive a certain sign which they suggested in prayer; and the event was in harmony with the suggestion. Thoroughly persuaded, they made a farewell visit and had a season of prayer in which both they and she received "the assurance" that the disease was checked and that she would finally recover. Previous to their embarking on the voyage, at a meeting which was attended by thousands, her case was spoken of and prayers were offered for her recovery; and this happened on several occasions during the long tour following. But the disease progressed and ended in death, according to the prognosis given by the physician, who is himself a Christian. These facts show the deceptive character of the assurances which many claim to receive on matters of fact of this kind.
Another element of limitation has respect to relapses. In many cases those who suppose that they have been cured relapse and die of the malady of which they testified they had been cured. This is true of the results of medical practice, and is a consequence of the law of human mortality and general limitations of human knowledge; but it is specially true of quack medicines involving anodynes, alcohol, or other stimulants which disguise symptoms, develop latent energy, or divert attention.
Lord Gardenstone, himself a valetudinarian, spent a great deal of time "inquiring for those persons who had actually attested marvelous cures, and found that more than two thirds of the number died very shortly after they had been cured." That the proportion of relapses among persons who have attested cures under the Spiritualists, Magnetizers, Koinan Catholics, and Protestants is as great as this, I do not affirm ; but I have no doubt that it is greater thau among those who have supposed themselves to be cured either by hygienic means without medicine, or under the best attainable medical treatment, which always attends to hygiene in proportion to the intellectual and moral elevation of the physician above the sphere of quackery.
Some years since a member of the Christian church in the city of Boston solemnly testified that he had been entirely cured of pulmonary consumption through the anointing and prayer of Dr. Cullis. In less than six months afterward he died of consumption. "Zion's Herald," a paper published in the same city, in an editorial upon the results of a faith-healing convention at Old Orchard, says: " We are not surprised to learn that some who esteemed themselves healed are suffering again from their old infirmities, in some instances more severely than before." Such relapses are exceedingly numerous, but they are not published; the jubilant testimonies are telegraphed throughout the land and dilated upon in books; the subsequent relapses are not spoken of in religious meetings nor published anywhere, but a little pains enabled me in a single year to collect a large number.
If we are not able to conclude a common cause from these concurrences in effects, limitations, and relapses, neither the deductive nor the inductive process is of value, and all modes of acquiring knowledge or tracing causes woidd seem to be useless.
But what is that common cause' Can these effects be proved to be natural by constructing a formula by which they can be produced ? If there be phenomena in which the results cannot be traced to their sources, can they be shown to be similar to other effects whose causes can be thus traced ?
In investigating phenomena, some of which it is claimed arc connected with religion and others with occult forces, it is necessary to proceed without regard to the question of religion, in determining whether the facts can be accounted for upon natural principles, and paralleled by the application thereof.
In searching for analogies I avail myself of authentic cases found in John Hunter, in Dr. Tuke's work previously referred to, in the "Mental Physiology17 of Dr. Carpenter, and in the psychological researches of Sir Benjamin Brodie and Sir Henry Holland; selecting, however, only such facts as have been paralleled under my own observation.