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Title: Modern Religious Cults and Movements
Author: Atkins, Gaius Glenn, 1868-1956
Language: English
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Modern Religious Cults and Movements

Works by

Gaius Glenn Atkins

_Modern Religious Cults and Movements_

Dr. Atkins has written a noteworthy and valuable book dealing with the
new cults some of which have been much to the fore for a couple of
decades past, such as: Faith Healing; Christian Science; New Thought;
Theosophy and Spiritualism, etc. $2.50

_The Undiscovered Country_

Dr. Atkins' work, throughout, is marked by clarity of presentation,
polished diction and forceful phrasing. A firm grasp of the elemental
truths of Christian belief together with an unusual ability to interpret
mundane experiences in terms of spiritual reality. $1.50

_Jerusalem: Past and Present_

"One of the books that will help to relieve us of the restless craving
for excitement, and to make clear that we can read history truly only as
we read it as 'His Story'--and that we attain our best only as the hope
of the soul is realized by citizenship in 'the City of God.'"--_Baptist
World._ $1.25

_Pilgrims of the Lonely Road_

"A very unusual group of studies of the great mystics, and shows real
insight into the deeper experience of the religious life."--_Christian
Work._ $2.00

_A Rendezvous with Life_

"Life is represented as a journey, with various 'inns' along the way
such as Day's End, Week's End, Month's End, Year's End--all suggestive
of certain experiences and duties." Paper, 25 cts.

Modern Religious Cults and Movements



_Minister of the First Congregational Church, Detroit, Mich.

Author of "Pilgrims of the Lonely Road," "The Undiscovered Country,"

New York Chicago

Fleming H. Revell Company

London and Edinburgh

Copyright, 1923, by FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 17 North Wabash Ave.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 75 Princes Street

_To E.M.C._

_Whose constant friendship through changing years has been like the fire
upon his hearthstone, a glowing gift and a grateful memory_


The last thirty years, though as dates go this is only an approximation,
have witnessed a marked development of religious cults and movements
largely outside the lines of historic Catholicism and Protestantism. One
of these cults is strongly organized and has for twenty years grown more
rapidly in proportion than most of the Christian communions. The
influence of others, more loosely organized, is far reaching. Some of
them attempt to give a religious content to the present trend of science
and philosophy, and, generally, they represent the free movement of what
one may call the creative religious consciousness of our time.

There is, of course, a great and constantly growing literature dealing
with particular cults, but there has been as yet apparently no attempt
to inquire whether there may not be a few unexpectedly simple centers
around which, in spite of their superficial differences, they really
organize themselves.

What follows is an endeavour in these directions. It is really a very
great task and can at the best be only tentatively done. Whoever
undertakes it may well begin by confessing his own limitations.
Contemporaneous appraisals of movements upon whose tides we ourselves
are borne are subject to constant revision. One's own prejudices, no
matter how strongly one may deal with them, colour one's conclusions,
particularly in the region of religion. The really vast subject matter
also imposes its own limitations upon even the most sincere student
unless he has specialized for a lifetime in his theme; even then he
would need to ask the charity of his readers.

Ground has been broken for such an endeavour in many different
directions. Broadly considered, William James' "Varieties of Religious
Experience" was perhaps the pioneer work. Professor James' suggestive
analyses recognize the greatly divergent forms religious experience may
take and establish their right to be taken seriously as valid facts for
the investigator. The whole tendency of organized Christianity--and
Protestantism more largely than Catholicism--has been to narrow
religious experience to accepted forms, but religion itself is impatient
of forms. It has its border-lands, shadowy regions which lie between the
acceptance of what Sabatier calls "the religions of authority" on the
one hand and the conventional types of piety or practical goodness on
the other. Those who find their religion in such regions--one might
perhaps call them the border-land people--discover the authority for
their faith in philosophies which, for the most part, have not the
sanction of the schools and the demonstration of the reality of their
faith in personal experience for which there is very little proof except
their own testimony--and their testimony itself is often confused

But James made no attempt to relate his governing conceptions to
particular organizations and movements save in the most general way.
His fundamentals, the distinction he draws between the "once-born" and
the "twice-born," between the religion of healthy-mindedness and the
need of the sick soul, the psychological bases which he supplies for
conversation and the rarer religious experiences are immensely
illuminating, but all this is only the nebulæ out of which religions are
organized into systems; the systems still remain to be considered.

There has been of late a new interest in Mysticism, itself a border-land
word, strangely difficult of definition yet meaning generally the
persuasion that through certain spiritual disciplines--commonly called
the mystic way--we may come into a first-hand knowledge of God and the
spiritual order, in no sense dependent upon reason or sense testimony.
Some modern movements are akin to mysticism but they cannot all be
fairly included in any history of mysticism. Neither can they be
included in any history of Christianity; some of them completely ignore
the Christian religion; some of them press less central aspects of it
out of all proportion; one of them undertakes to recast Christianity in
its own moulds but certainly gives it a quality in so dealing with it
which cannot be supported by any critical examination of the Gospels or
considered as the logical development of Christian dogma. Here are
really new adventures in religion with new gospels, new prophets and new
creeds. They need to be twice approached, once through an examination of
those things which are fundamental in religion itself, for they have
behind them the power of what one may call the religious urge, and they
will ultimately stand as they meet, with a measure of finality, those
needs of the soul of which religion has always been the expression, or
fall as they fail to meet them. But since some limitation or other in
the types of Christianity which are dominant amongst us has given them
their opportunity they must also be approached through some
consideration of the Christianity against which they have reacted.
Unsatisfied needs of the inner life have unlocked the doors through
which they have made their abundant entry. Since they also reflect, as
religion always reflects, contemporaneous movements in Philosophy,
Science, Ethics and Social Relationship, they cannot be understood
without some consideration of the forces under whose strong impact
inherited faiths have, during the last half century, been slowly
breaking down, and in answer to whose suggestions faith has been taking
a new form.

A rewarding approach, then, to Modern Religious Cults and Movements must
necessarily move along a wide front, and a certain amount of patience
and faith is asked of the reader in the opening chapters of this book:
patience enough to follow through the discussion of general principles,
and faith enough to believe that such a discussion will in the end
contribute to the practical understanding of movements with which we are
all more or less familiar, and by which we are all more or less


_Detroit, Michigan._



Certain Qualities Common to All Religions--Christianity
Historically Organized Around a
Transcendent God and a Fallen Humanity--The
Incarnation; the Cross the Supreme Symbol of
Western Theology--The Catholic Belief in
the Authority of an Inerrant Church--The
Protestant Church Made Faith the Key to
Salvation--Protestantism and an Infallibly Inspired
Bible--The Strength and Weakness of
This Position--Evangelical Protestantism the
Outcome--Individual Experience of the Believer
the Keystone of Evangelical Protestantism--Readjustment
of Both Catholic and
Protestant Systems Inevitable.

II. NEW FORCES AND OLD FAITHS                                          46

The Far-reaching Readjustments of Christian
Faith in the Last Fifty Years--The Reaction of
Evolution Upon Religion--The Reaction of
Biblical Criticism Upon Faith--The Average
Man Loses His Bearings--The New Psychology--The
Influence of Philosophy and the
Social Situation--An Age of Confusion--The
Lure of the Short Cut--Popular Education--The
Churches Lose Authority--Efforts at Reconstruction--An
Age of Doubt and a Twilight-Zone
in History--The Hunger of the
Soul and the Need for Faith--Modern Religious
Cults and Movements: Their Three
Centers About Which They Have Organized

III. FAITH HEALING IN GENERAL                                          82

The Bases of Faith and Mental Healing--Cannon's
Study of Emotional Reactions--The
Two Doors--The Challenge of Hypnotism--Changed
Attention Affects Physical States--The
Power of Faith to Change Mental Attitudes--Demon
Possession--The Beginnings of
Scientific Medicine--The Attitude of the Early
and Medieval Church--Saints and Shrines--Magic,
Charms, and the King's Touch: The
Rise of the Faith Healer.


Mesmerism--The Scientific Investigation of
Mesmerism--Mesmerism in America; Phineas
Quimby an Important Link in a Long Chain--Quimby
is Led to Define Sickness as Wrong
Belief--Quimby Develops His Theories--Mary
Baker Eddy Comes Under His Influence--Outstanding
Events of Her Life: Her
Early Girlhood--Her Education: Shaping Influences--Her
Unhappy Fortunes. She is
Cured by Quimby--An Unacknowledged Debt--She
Develops Quimby's Teachings--Begins
to Teach and to Heal--Early Phases of
Christian Science--She Writes "Science and
Health" and Completes the Organization of
Her Church.

V. CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AS A PHILOSOPHY                                  136

Christian Science a Philosophy, a Theology, a
Religion and a System of Healing--The
Philosophic Bases of Christian Science--It
Undertakes to Solve the Problem of Evil--Contrasted
Solutions--The Divine Mind and
Mortal Mind--The Essential Limitations of
Mrs. Eddy's System--Experience and Life--Sense-Testimony--The
Inescapable Reality of Shadowed Experience.

VI. CHRISTIAN SCIENCE AS A THEOLOGY                                   163

Science and Health Offered as a Key to the
Scriptures--It Ignores All Recognized Canons
of Biblical Interpretation--Its Conception of
God--Mrs. Eddy's Interpretation of Jesus
Christ--Christian Science His Second Coming--Christian
Science, the Incarnation and the
Atonement--Sin an Error of Mortal Mind--The
Sacraments Disappear--The Real Power
of Christian Science.


Christian Science the Application of Philosophy
and Theology to Bodily Healing--Looseness
of Christian Science Diagnosis--The
Power of Mental Environment--Christian
Science Definition of Disease--Has a Rich
Field to Work--A Strongly-Drawn System
of Psycho-therapy--A System of Suggestion--Affected
by Our Growing Understanding
of the Range of Suggestion--Strongest in
Teaching That God Has Meaning for the
Whole of Life--Exalts the Power of Mind;
the Processes--Is Not Big Enough for the
Whole of Experience.

VIII. NEW THOUGHT                                                     210

New Thought Difficult to Define--"The Rediscovery
of the Inner Life"--Spinoza's Quest--Kant
Reaffirms the Creative Power of Mind--Utilitarianism,
Deism and Individualism--The
Reactions Against Them--New England
Transcendentalism--New Thought Takes
Form--Its Creeds--The Range of the Movement--The
Key-Words of New Thought--Its
Field of Real Usefulness--Its Gospel of Getting
On--The Limitations and Dangers of Its
Positions--Tends to Become a Universal and
Loosely-Defined Religion.

THEOSOPHY AND KINDRED CULTS                                           245

Historic Forces Carried Early Christianity
West and Not East--The West Rediscovers
the East; the East Returns Upon the West--Chesterton's
Two Saints--Why the West
Questions the East--Pantheism and Its Problems--How
the One Becomes the Many--Evolution
and Involution--Theosophy Undertakes
to Offer Deliverance--But Becomes
Deeply Entangled Itself--The West Looks to
Personal Immortality--The East Balances the
Accounts of Life in a Series of Reincarnations--Theosophy
Produces a Distinct Type of Character--A "Tour de Force"
of the Imagination--A Bridge of Clouds--The Difficulties
of Reincarnation--Immortality Nobler, Juster and
Simpler--Pantheism at Its Best--and Its Worst.

X. SPIRITUALISM                                                       284

The Genesis of Modern Spiritualism--It
Crosses to Europe--The Beginnings of Trance-Mediumship--The
Society for Psychical Research Begins Its Work--Confronts
Difficulties--William James Enters the Field--The
Limitations of Psychical Investigation--The Society
for Psychical Research Gives Intellectual Standing to
Spiritism--The Very Small Number of Dependable
Mediums--Spiritism a Question of Testimony and
Interpretation--Possible Explanations of Spiritistic
Phenomena--Myers' Theory of Mediumship--Telepathy--Controls--The
Dilemma of Spiritism--The Influence of Spiritism--The Real
Alternative to Spiritism--The Investigations of Émile
Boirac--Geley's Conclusions--The Meaning of Spiritism for


Border-land Cults--Bahaism--The Bab and
His Successors--The Temple of Unity--General
Conclusions--The Cults Are Aspects of
the Creative Religious Consciousness of the
Age--Their Parallels in the Past--The Healing
Cults Likely to be Adversely Influenced by
the Scientific Organization of Psycho-therapy--New
Thought Will Become Old Thought--Possible
Absorption of the Cults by a Widening
Historic Christianity--Christianity Influenced
by the Cults--Medical Science and the
Healing Cults--A Neglected Force--Time and
the Corrections of Truth.



Chronologically the point of departure for such a study as this is the
decade from 1880 to 1890. This is only an approximation but it will do.
It was a particularly decorous decade. There was no fighting save on the
outposts of colonial empires, the little wars of Soldiers Three and
Barrack Room Ballads--too far away for their guns to be heard in the
streets of capital cities, but lending a touch of colour to newspaper
head-lines and supplying new material for rising young writers. It was
the decade of triumphant Democracy and triumphant Science and triumphant
Industrialism and, among the more open-minded, of triumphant Evolution.
Western Civilization was sure of its forces, sure of its formulæ, sure
of its future; there were here and there clouds no bigger than a man's
hand against particularly luminous horizons, but there was everywhere a
general agreement that they would be dissolved by the force of benign
development. The world seemed particularly well in hand.

The churches generally shared this confidence. Catholicism and
Protestantism had reached a tacit working agreement as to their spheres
of influence and were even beginning to fraternize a little. The
divisive force of Protestantism seemed to have spent itself. Since
Alexander Campbell--dead now for a decade and a half--no Protestant sect
of any importance had been established. The older denominations had
achieved a distinctive finality in organization and doctrine. Evolution
and Biblical criticism were generally the storm centers of controversy
and though these controversies were severe enough they produced no
schisms in the churches themselves. A few religious leaders were urging
a more thoroughgoing social interpretation and application of the
teachings of Jesus; such as these were really looked upon with more
suspicion than the propagandists of a liberal theology.

We see now with almost tragic clearness that, beneath the surface of the
whole interrelated order of that tranquil afternoon of the Victorian
epoch, there were forces in action working toward such a challenge of
the accepted and inherited as cultures and civilizations are asked to
meet only in the great crises of history and bound to issue, as they
have issued in far-flung battle lines, in the overthrow of ancient
orders and new alignments along every front of human interest. It will
be the task of the historians of the future who will have the necessary
material in hand to follow these immense reactions in their various
fields and they will find their real point of departure not in dates but
in the human attitudes and outlooks which then made a specious show of
being final--and were not final at all.

Just there also is the real point of departure for a study like this. We
may date the rise of modern religious cults and movements from the last
decades of the nineteenth century, but they are really reactions not
against a time but a temper, an understanding of religion and a group of
religious validations which had been built up through an immense labour
of travailing generations and which toward the end of the last century
were in the way of being more seriously challenged than for a thousand
years (and if this seems too strong a statement the reader is asked to
wait for at least the attempted proof of it). We shall have to begin,
then, with a state of mind which for want of a better name I venture to
call the representative orthodox religious consciousness of the end of
the nineteenth century. That this consciousness is Christian is of
course assumed. It is Protestant rather than Catholic, for Protestantism
has supplied the larger number of followers to the newer religious

To begin with, this representative religious consciousness was by no
means simple. Professor James Harvey Robinson tells us that the modern
mind is really a complex, that it contains and continues the whole of
our inheritances and can be understood only through the analysis of all
the contributive elements which have combined to make it what it is and
that the inherited elements in it far outweigh more recent
contributions. The religious mind is an equally complex and deep-rooted
inheritance and can best be approached by a consideration of the bases
of religion.

_Certain Qualities Common to All Religions_

We are but pilgrims down roads which space and time supply; we cannot
account for ourselves in terms of what we know to be less than
ourselves, nor can we face the shadow which falls deeply across the end
of our way without dreaming, at least, of that which lies beyond.
Whence? Whither? and Why? are insurgent questions; they are voices out
of the depths. A very great development of intelligence was demanded
before such questions really took definite shape, but they are implicit
in even the most rudimentary forms of religion, nor do we outgrow them
through any achievement of Science or development of Philosophy. They
become thereby, if anything, more insistent. Our widening horizons of
knowledge are always swept by a vaster circumference of mystery into
which faith must write a meaning and beyond which faith must discern a

Religion begins, therefore, in our need so to interpret the power
manifest in the universe[1] as to come into some satisfying relationship
therewith. It goes on to supply an answer to the dominant
questions--Whence? Whither? Why? It fulfills itself in worship and
communion with what is worshipped. Such worship has addressed itself to
vast ranges of objects, fulfilled itself in an almost unbelievable
variety of rites. And yet in every kind of worship there has been some
aspiration toward an ideal excellence and some endeavour, moreover, of
those who worship to come into a real relation with what is worshipped.
It would need a detailed treatment, here impossible, to back up so
general a statement with the facts which prove it, but the facts are
beyond dispute. It would be equally difficult to analyze the elements in
human nature which lead us to seek such communion. The essential
loneliness of the soul, our sense of divided and warring powers and the
general emotional instability of personality without fitting objects of
faith and devotion, all contribute to the incurable religiosity of human

[Footnote 1: I have taken as a working definition of Religion a phrase
quoted by Ward Fowler in the introduction to his Gifford Lectures on
"The Religious Experience of the Roman People." "Religion is the
effective desire to be in right relationship to the power manifesting
itself in the Universe." This is only a formula but it lends itself to
vital interpretations and is a better approach to modern cults, many of
which are just that endeavour, than those definitions of religion just
now current which define it as a system of values or a process of

The value which religion has for those who hold it is perhaps as largely
tested by its power to give them a real sense of communion with God as
by any other single thing, but this by no means exhausts the value of
religion for life. All religions must, in one way or another, meet the
need of the will for guidance and the need of the ethical sense for
right standards. Religion has always had an ethical content, simple
enough to begin with as religion itself was simple. Certain things were
permitted, certain things prohibited as part of a cult. These
permissions and prohibitions are often strangely capricious, but we may
trace behind taboo and caste and the ceremonially clean and unclean an
always emerging standard of right and wrong and a fundamental
relationship between religion and ethics. Religion from the very first
felt itself to be the more august force and through its superior
authority gave direction and quality to the conduct of its devotees. It
was long enough before all this grew into Decalogues and the Sermon on
the Mount and the latter chapters of Paul's great letters to his
churches and our present system of Christian ethics, but we discover the
beginning of the lordship of religion over conduct even in the most
primitive cults.

We shall find as we go on that this particular aspect of religion is
less marked in modern religious cults and movements than either the
quest for a new understanding of God or new answers to the three great
questions, or the longing for a more satisfying communion with God. They
accept, for the most part, the generally held standards of Christian
conduct, but even so, they are beginning to develop their own ethical
standards and to react upon the conduct of those who hold them.

As has been intimated, however, the appeal of religion goes far deeper
than all this. If it did no more than seek to define for us the "power
not ourselves" everywhere made manifest, if it did no more than answer
the haunting questions: Whence? and Whither? and Why?, if it did no more
than offer the emotional life a satisfying object of worship and
communion with the Divine, supplying at the same time ethical standards
and guiding and strengthening the will in its endeavour after goodness,
it would have done us an immense service. But one may well wonder
whether if religion did no more than this it would have maintained
itself as it has and renew through the changing generations its
compelling appeal. More strong than any purely intellectual curiosity
as to a first cause or controlling power, more haunting than any wonder
as to the source and destiny of life, more persistent than any
loneliness of the questing soul is our dissatisfaction with ourselves,
our consciousness of tragic moral fault, our need of forgiveness and
deliverance. This longing for deliverance has taken many forms.

Henry Osborn Taylor in a fine passage has shown us how manifold are the
roads men have travelled in their quest for salvation.[2] "For one man
shall find his peace in action, another in the rejection of action, even
in the seeming destruction of desire; another shall have peace and
freedom through intellectual inquiry, while another must obey his God or
love his God and may stand in very conscious need of divine salvation.
The adjustment sought by Confucius was very different from that which
drew the mind of Plato or led Augustine to the City of God. Often quite
different motives may inspire the reasonings which incidentally bring
men to like conclusions.... The life adjustment of the early Greek
philosophers had to do with scientific curiosity.... They were not like
Gotama seeking relief from the tedious impermanence of personal
experience any more than they were seeking to insure their own eternal
welfare in and through the love of God, the motive around which surged
the Christian yearning for salvation. Evidently every religion is a
means of adjustment or deliverance."

[Footnote 2: "Deliverance," pp. 4 and 5.]

Professor James in his chapter on The Sick Souls deals most suggestively
with these driving longings and all the later analyses of the psychology
of conversion begin with the stress of the divided self. The deeper
teaching of the New Testament roots itself in this soil. The literature
of confession is rich in classic illustrations of all this, told as only
St. Augustine more than a thousand years ago or Tolstoy yesterday can
tell it. No need to quote them here; they are easily accessible for
those who would find for their own longings immortal voices and be
taught with what searching self-analysis those who have come out of
darkness into light have dealt with their own sick souls.

Every religion has in some fashion or other offered deliverance to its
devotees through sacrifice or spiritual discipline, or the assurance
that their sins were atoned for and their deliverance assured through
the sufferings of others. All this, needless to say, involves not only
the sense of sin but the whole reach of life's shadowed experiences. We
have great need to be delivered not only from our divided selves but
from the burdens and perplexities of life. Religion must offer some
explanation of the general problem of sorrow and evil; it must, above
all, justify the ways of God with men.

Generally speaking, religion is very greatly dependent upon its power so
to interpret the hard things of life to those who bear them that they
may still believe in the Divine love and justice. The generality of
doubt is not philosophical but practical. We break with God more often
than for any other reason because we believe that He has not kept faith
with us. Some of the more strongly held modern cults have found their
opportunity in the evident deficiency of the traditional explanation of
pain and sorrow. Religion has really a strong hold on the average life
only as it meets the more shadowed side of experience with the
affirmation of an all-conquering love and justice in which we may rest.

Broadly considered, then, the elements common to all religions are such
as these: a satisfying interpretation of the power manifest in the
universe, the need of the mind for an answer to the questions Whence?
and Whither? and Why?, the need of the emotional life for such peace as
may come from the consciousness of being in right relationship and
satisfying communion with God, the need of the will and ethical sense
for guidance, and a need including all this and something beside for
spiritual deliverance. The representative religious consciousness of the
end of the nineteenth century in which we find our point of departure
for the religious reactions of the last generation naturally included
all this, but implicitly rather than explicitly. The intellectually
curious were more concerned with science and political economies than
the nature or genesis of religion, while the truly devout, who are not
generally given to the critical analysis of their faith, accepted it as
a Divine revelation needing no accounting for outside their Bible.
Moreover such things as these were not then and never can be held
abstractly. They were articulate in creeds and organized in churches
and invested with the august sanction of authority, and mediated through
old, old processes of religious development.

_Christianity Historically Organized Around the Conception of a
Transcendent God and a Fallen Humanity_

For in its historic development religion has naturally taken distinctly
divergent forms, conditioned by race, environment, the action and
reaction of massed experience and by the temper and insight of a few
supremely great religious leaders. But centrally, the whole development
of any religion has been controlled by its conception of God and, in the
main, three different conceptions of God give colour and character to
the outstanding historic religions. Pantheistic religions have thought
of God as just the whole of all that is; they widen the universe to the
measure of the Divine, or narrow the Divine to the operations of the
universe. Pantheism saturates its whole vague content with a mystical
quality of thought, and colours what it sees with its own emotions. The
religions of the Divine Immanence conceive God as pervading and
sustaining all that is and revealing Himself thereby, though not
necessarily confined therein. The religions of the Divine Transcendence
have believed in a God who is apart from all that is, who neither begins
nor ends in His universe, and from whom we are profoundly separated not
only by our littlenesses but by our sin.

All this is a bare statement of what is almost infinitely richer as it
has been felt and proclaimed by the devout and we shall see as we go on
how the newer religious movements take also their colour and character
from a new emphasis upon the nature of God, or else a return to
understandings of Him and feelings about Him which have been lost out in
the development of Christianity.

Historically Christian theology, particularly in the West, has centered
around the conception of a Transcendent God. As far as doctrine goes
Christianity took over a great inheritance from the Jew, for arrestingly
enough the Jew, though he belongs to the East, had never anything in
common with Eastern Pantheism. On the contrary we find his prophets and
lawgivers battling with all their force against such aspects of
Pantheism as they found about them. The God of the Old Testament is
always immeasurably above those who worshipped Him in righteousness and
power; He is their God and they are His chosen people, but there is
never any identification of their will with His except in the rare
moments of their perfect obedience.

True enough, through the insight of the prophets and particularly the
experience of psalmists, this conception of the Apart-God became
increasingly rich in the persuasion of His unfailing care for His
children. None the less, the Hebrew God is a Transcendent God and
Christianity inherits from that. Christianity took over what Judaism
refused--Jesus Christ and His Gospel. But out of the immeasurable wealth
of His teaching apostolic thinking naturally appropriated and made most
of what was nearest in line with the prophets and the lawgivers of their
race. Judaism refused Christ but the Twelve Apostles were Jews and the
greatest of the group--St. Paul--was a Jewish Rabbi before he became a
Christian teacher. He had been nurtured and matured in the schools of
his people and though he was reborn, in renunciations and obediences
distinctly Christian, there were in his very soul inherited rigidities
of form in conformity to which he recast his faith.

More distinctly than he himself could ever have known, he particularized
the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Doubtless his own experience was the deeper
directing force in all this. Theologies always, to begin with, are the
molten outpouring of some transforming experience and they are always,
to begin with, fluid and glowing.

Such glowing experiences as these are hard to communicate; they, too,
soon harden down and we inherit, as cold and rigid form, what was to
begin with the flaming outcome of experience. St. Paul's own struggle
and the bitterness of a divided self which issued in his conversion
naturally gave content to all his after teaching. He worked out his
system strangely apart from the other group of disciples; he had
probably never heard a word of Christ's teaching directly from Christ's
lips; he naturally fell back, therefore, upon his Jewish inheritance and
widened that system of sacrifices and atonements until he found therein
not only a place for the Cross but the necessity for it. He made much,
therefore, of the sense of alienation from God, of sin and human
helplessness, of the need and possibility of redemption.

_The Incarnation as the Bridge Between God and Man; the Cross as the
Instrument of Man's Redemption. The Cross the Supreme Symbol of Western

Here, then, are the two speculative backgrounds of historic
Christianity,--God's apartness from man in an inconceivable immensity of
lonely goodness, man's alienation from God in a helpless fallen estate.
For the bridging of the gulf between God and His world Christianity
offers the incarnation; for the saving of man from his lost estate
Christianity offers the Cross. The incarnation is the reëntry of God
into a world from which, indeed, according to the Christian way of
thinking, He has never been entirely separate, but from which He has,
none the less, been so remote that if ever it were to be rescued from
its ruined condition there was needed a new revelation of God in
humanity; and the Atonement is just the saving operation of God thus

Eastern Christianity has made most of the incarnation. The great Greek
theologies were built around that. They exhausted the resources of a
language particularly fitted for subtle definition in their endeavour to
explain the mystery of it, and, after more than a century of bitter
debate about the nature and person of Christ, contented themselves with
affirming the reality both of the human and divine in His nature,
neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance, nor indeed
making clear in any truly comprehensible way the truth which they so
sought to define, or the faith to which they so passionately held. But
though their keen dialectic broke down under the burden they laid upon
it, they did, nevertheless, keep alive just that confidence in God as
one come into human life and sharing it and using it, without which
there would have been in all the faith and thinking of the West for more
than a thousand years an unbridged and unbridgeable gulf between God and

Indeed, when we turn back again to the great Greek symbols with that
conception of the immanence of God which the truer insights of our own
time have done so much to supply, we find these old forms and phrases
unexpectedly hospitable to our own interpretations. If the Western
Church had been more strongly influenced by the philosophical insight of
the early Eastern Church, Western Christendom might have been saved from
a good deal of that theological hardness from which great numbers are
just now reacting.

But Western Christendom took the Cross for the central symbol of its
faith. What would have happened to Western Christendom without Augustine
we do not know, and it is idle to try to guess, but Europe in its
religious thinking followed for a thousand years the direction he gave
it. His theology is only the travail of his soul, glowing and molten.
His Confessions reveal to us more clearly than any other record we have
Paganism becoming Christian. In the travail of his spirit we see
something vaster than his own conversion, we see the formulation of new
spiritual experiences, the birth of new spiritual relationships, the
growth of new moral orders and consecrations. He bridges for us the
passages between Paganism and Christianity. He reveals what rebirth
meant for men to whom it was no convention but an agonizing recasting of
both the inner and outer life. He shows us what it meant to put aside
the inheritances and relationships of an immemorial order and to stand
as a little child untaught, undisciplined and unperfect in the presence
of the new. The spiritual attitude which Augustine attained was to be
for long the dominant spiritual attitude of Europe, was to govern
medieval conceptions, inspire medieval actions, colour with its flame
the mystic brooding of the medieval mind.

In the end the sovereignty of God became for Augustine supreme and over
against this he set with strong finality man's hopeless fallen state. He
was doubtless in debt to St. Paul for these governing conceptions but
they took new character as they passed through the alembic of his own
experience. "The one pervading thought of the Greek fathers concerning
the redemptive work of Christ is that men are thereby brought into unity
with God. They do not hesitate to designate this unity to be as a
deification ... they dwell on the idea that we become partakers of the
Divine nature."[3] The emphasis here is not so much upon sin to be
atoned for or punishment to be avoided, as reconciliation to be

[Footnote 3: Fisher, "History of Christian Doctrine," p. 162.]

After Augustine the interpretations of the Cross take a new direction.
Now men are thereby not so much to be made partakers of the divine
nature as to be saved from hell. The explanations of the way in which
this salvation is really achieved change with the changing centuries but
through shifting theologies there is one constant. All men are lost and
foredoomed to an eternal punishment from which they are saved only in
that Christ suffered for them and they, through their faith and
obedience, have availed themselves of His vicarious death. The varying
theological interpretations are themselves greatly significant as if
here were something whose meanings no single explanation could exalt,
something to be felt rather than understood. The Cross so seen is the
symbol at once of love and need, of moral defeat and moral discipline,
of suffering helplessness and overcoming goodness. We cannot overstate
the influence of this faith upon the better part of Western

It has kept us greatly humble, purged us of our pride and thrown us back
in a helplessness which is, after all, the true secret of our strength,
upon the saving mercy of God. The story of it, simply told, has moved
the hard or bitter or the careless as nothing else can do. Its
assurances of deliverance have given new hope to the hopeless and a
power not their own to the powerless. It has exalted as the very message
of God the patient enduring of unmerited suffering; it has taught us how
there is no deliverance save as the good suffer for the bad and the
strong put their strength at the service of the weak; it has taught us
that the greatest sin is the sin against love and the really enduring
victories for any better cause are won only as through the appeal of a
much enduring unselfishness new tempers are created and new forces are
released. Nor is there any sign yet that its empire has begun to come to
an end.

_The Catholic Church Offered Deliverance in Obedience to the Authority
of an Inerrant Church_

Nevertheless the preaching of the Cross has not commonly taken such
forms as these; it has been rather the appeal of the Church to the
individual to escape his sinful and hopeless estate either through an
obedient self-identification with the Church's discipline and an
unquestioning acceptance of the Church's authority, or else through an
intellectual acceptance of the scheme of redemption and a moral
surrender to it. Here are really the two lines of approach through the
one or the other of which Christianity has been made real to the
individual from the time of St. Paul till our own time. During the early
formative period of the Church it was a matter between the individual
and his God. So much we read in and between the lines of the Pauline
Epistles. As far as any later time can accurately recast the thought and
method of a far earlier time evangelical Protestant theology fairly
interprets St. Paul. Faith--a big enough word, standing for both
intellectual acceptance and a kind of mystic receptivity to the love and
goodness and justice of God revealed in the Cross of Christ--is the key
to salvation and the condition of Christian character. It is also that
through which religion becomes real to the individual. But since all
this lays upon the individual a burden hard enough to be borne (as we
shall see when we come back to Protestantism itself) the Church, as her
organization became more definite and her authority more strongly
established, took the responsibility of the whole matter upon herself.
She herself would become responsible for the outcome if only they were
teachable and obedient.

The Catholic Church offered to its communicants an assured security, the
proof of which was not in the fluctuating states of their own souls but
in the august authority of the Church to which they belonged. As long,
therefore, as they remained in obedient communion with their Church
their souls were secure. The Church offered them its confessional for
their unburdening and its absolutions for their assurance, its
sacraments for their strengthening and its penances for their discipline
and restoration. It took from them in spiritual regions and maybe in
other regions too, the responsibility for the conduct of their own lives
and asked of the faithful only that they believe and obey. The Church,
as it were, "stepped down" religion to humanity. It did all this with a
marvellous understanding of human nature and in answer to necessities
which were, to begin with, essential to the discipline of childlike
peoples who would otherwise have been brought face to face with truths
too great for them, or dismissed to a freedom for which they were not

It was and is a marvellous system; there has never been anything like it
and if it should wholly fail from amongst us there will never be
anything like it again. And yet we see that all this vast spiritual
edifice, like the arches of its own great cathedrals, locks up upon a
single keystone. The keystone of the arch of Catholic certainty is the
acceptance of the authority of the Church conditioned by belief in the
divine character of that authority. If anything should shake the
Catholic's belief in the authority of his Church and the efficacy of her
sacraments then he is left strangely unsheltered. Strongly articulated
as this system is, it has not been untouched by time and change. To
continue our figure, one great wing of the medieval structure fell away
in the Protestant Reformation and what was left, though extensive and
solid enough, is still like its great cathedrals--yielding to time and
change. The impressive force and unity of contemporaneous Catholicism
may lead us perhaps to underestimate the number of those in the Catholic
line who, having for one reason or another lost faith in their Church,
are now open to the appeal of the newer movements. For example, the
largest non-Catholic religious group of Poles in Detroit are
Russellites. There are on good authority between three and four thousand
of them.

_The Protestant Church Made Faith the Key to Salvation with Conversion
the Test for the Individual of the Reality of His Religious Experience_

If religion has been made real to the Catholic through the mediation of
his Church, Protestantism, seeking to recreate the apostolic Church, has
made the reality of religion a matter between the individual and his
God. And yet Protestantism has never dared commit itself to so simple a
phrasing of religion as this, nor to go on without authorities of its
own. Protestantism generally has substituted for the inclusive authority
of the Catholic Church the authority of its own creeds and fundamentally
the authority of the Bible. As far as creeds go Protestantism carried
over the content of Latin Christianity more largely than we have
generally recognized. Luther was in direct line with Augustine as
Augustine was in direct line with St. Paul, and Luther's fundamental
doctrine--justification by faith--was not so much a rewriting of ancient
creeds as a new way of validating their meaning for the individual.
Faith, in our common use of the term, has hardened down into an
intellectual acceptance of Protestant theologies, but certainly for St.
Paul and probably for Luther it was far more vital than this and far
more simple. It was rather a resting upon a delivering power, the
assurance of whose desire and willingness to deliver was found in the
New Testament. It was an end to struggle, a spiritual victory won
through surrender.

The Latin Catholic system had come to impose upon such tempers as
Luther's an unendurable amount of strain; it was too complex, too
demanding, and it failed to carry with it necessary elements of mental
and spiritual consent. (St. Paul had the same experience with his own
Judaism.) What Luther sought was a peace-bringing rightness with God. He
was typically and creatively one of William James' "divided souls" and
he found the solution for his fears, his struggles and his doubts in
simply taking for granted that a fight which he was not able to win for
himself had been won for him in the transaction on the Cross. He had
nothing, therefore, to do but to accept the peace thus made possible and
thereafter to be spiritually at rest.

Now since the whole of the meaning of the Cross for Christianity from
St. Paul until our own time is involved in this bare statement and since
our theologies have never been able to explain this whole great matter
in any doctrinal form which has secured universal consent, we must
simply fall back upon the statement of the fact and recognize that here
is something to be defined in terms of experience and not of doctrine.
The validating experience has come generally to be known as conversion,
and conversion has played a great part in evangelical Protestantism ever
since the Reformation. It has become, indeed, the one way in which
religion has been made real to most members of evangelical churches. So
sweeping a statement must be somewhat qualified, for conversion is far
older than Luther;[4] it is not confined to Protestantism and the
Protestant churches themselves have not agreed in their emphasis upon
it. Yet we are probably on safe ground in saying that religion has
become real to the average member of the average Protestant Church more
distinctly through conversion than anything else.

[Footnote 4: But rather in the discipline of the Mystic as an enrichment
of the spiritual life than as a door to the Communion of the Church.]

Conversion has of late come up for a pretty thoroughgoing examination by
the psychologists, and their conclusions are so generally familiar as
to need no restatement here. William James, in a rather informal
paragraph quoted from one of his letters, states the psychologist's
point of view more simply and vividly than either he or his disciples
have defined their position in their more formal works. "In the case of
conversion I am quite willing to believe that a new truth may be
supernaturally revealed to a subject when he really asks, but I am sure
that in many cases of conversion it is less a new truth than a new power
gained over life by a truth always known. It is a case of the conflict
of two self-systems in a personality up to that time heterogeneously
divided, but in which, after the conversion crisis, the higher loves and
powers come definitely to gain the upper hand and expel the forces which
up to that time had kept them down to the position of mere grumblers and
protesters and agents of remorse and discontent. This broader view will
cover an enormous number of cases psychologically and leaves all the
religious importance to the result which it has on any other theory."[5]

[Footnote 5: Letters of William James, Vol. II, p. 57.]

In Luther, Augustine and St. Paul, and a great fellowship beside, this
stress of the divided self was both immediate and intense. Such as these
through the consciousness of very real fault--and this is true of
Augustine and St. Paul--or through a rare spiritual sensitiveness and an
unusual force of aspiration--and this is true of many others--did not
need any conviction of sin urged upon them from the outside. They had
conviction enough of their own. But all these have been men and women
apart, intensely devout by nature, committed by temperament to great
travail of soul and concerned, above all, for their own spiritual
deliverance. But their spiritual sensitiveness is by no means universal,
their sense of struggle not a normal experience for another type of
personality. The demand, therefore, that all religious experience be
cast in their particular mould, and that religion be made real to every
one through the same travail of soul in which it was made real to them,
carries with it two very great dangers: first, that some semblance of
struggle should be created which does not come vitally out of
experience; and second, that the resultant peace should be artificial
rather than true, and therefore, should not only quickly lose its force
but really result in reactions which would leave the soul of the one so
misled, or better perhaps, so mishandled, emptier of any real sense of
the reality of religion than to begin with.

_Protestantism Found Its Authority in an Infallibly Inspired Bible_

Now this is too largely what has happened in evangelical Protestantism.
The "twice-born" have been set up as the standard for us all; they have
demanded of their disciples the same experience as those through which
they themselves have passed. Since this type of religious experience has
always been the more ardent and vivid, since the churches in which least
has been made of it have generally tended to fall away into routine and
some want of real power, we have had, particularly since Jonathan
Edwards in America and the Wesleys in England, a recurrent insistence
upon it as the orthodox type of religious experience. Partly through
inheritance and partly in answer to its own genius Protestantism has
built up a system of theology tending to reproduce the sequence of
conviction of sin, aspiration, repentance, and conversion by doctrinal
pressure from the outside. The foundations of it all are in the New
Testament and somewhat in the Old, but what has been built upon these
foundations has been either too extended or too one-sided. In order to
include in one general sense of condemnation strong enough to create an
adequate desire for salvation, all sorts and conditions of people,
theology has not only charged us up with our own sins which are always a
sad enough account, but it has charged us up with ancestral and imputed

This line of theology has been far too rigid, far too insistent upon
what one may call the facts of theology, and far too blind to the facts
of life. It has made much of sin in the abstract and sometimes far too
little of concrete sin; it has made more of human depravity than social
justice; it has failed to make allowance for varieties of temper and
condition; it is partly responsible for the widespread reaction of the
cults and movements of our own time.

Since so strongly an articulate system as this needed something to
sustain it, Protestantism has constantly supported itself in the
authority of the Old and New Testaments. It displaced one authority by
another, the authority of the Church by the authority of the Book, and
in order to secure for this authority an ultimate and unquestioned power
it affirmed as the beginning and the end of its use of the Scriptures
their infallibility. The growth of Protestant teaching about the Bible
has necessarily been complicated but we must recognize that Protestant
theology and Protestant tradition have given the Bible what one may call
read-in values.

At any rate after affirming the infallibility of the text Protestantism
has turned back to the text for the proof of its teaching and so built
up its really very great interrelated system in which, as has already
been said, the power of religion over the life of its followers and the
reality of religion in the experiences of its followers locked up on
just such things as these: First, the experiences of conversions;
second, conversion secured through the processes of Protestant
indoctrination, backed up by the fervent appeal of the Protestant
ministry and the pressure of Protestant Church life; and third, all this
supported by an appeal to the authority of the Bible with a proof-text
for every statement.

All this is, of course, to deal coldly and analytically with something
which, as it has worked out in religious life, has been neither cold nor
analytical. Underneath it all have been great necessities of the soul
and issuing out of it all have been aspirations and devoutnesses and
spiritual victories and new understandings of God and a wealth of love
and goodness which are a part of the imperishable treasures of humanity
for three centuries. This faith and experience have voiced themselves
in moving hymns, built themselves into rare and continuing fellowships,
gone abroad in missionary passion, spent themselves for a better world
and looked unafraid even into the face of death, sure of life and peace
beyond. But behind the great realities of our inherited religious life
one may discover assumptions and processes less sure.

_The Strength and Weakness of This Position_

Once more, this inherited faith in the Bible and the systems which have
grown out of it have been conditioned by scientific and philosophic
understandings. The Protestant doctrine of the infallibility of the
Bible assumed its authority not only in the region of religion but in
science and history as well. The inherited theologies really went out of
their way to give the incidental the same value as the essential. There
was no place in them for growth, correction, further revelation. This
statement may be challenged, it certainly needs to be qualified, for
when the time for adjustment and the need of adjustment really did come
the process of adjustment began to be carried through, but only at very
great cost and only really by slowly building new foundations under the
old. In fact the new is not in many ways the old at all, though this is
to anticipate.

It is directly to the point here that the whole scheme of religion as it
has come down to us on the Protestant side till within the last fifty
years was at once compactly interwrought, strongly supported and
unexpectedly vulnerable. The integrity of any one part of its line
depended upon the integrity of every other part; its gospel went back
to the Fall of Man and depended, therefore, upon the Biblical theory of
the Creation and subsequent human history. If anything should challenge
the scientific or historical accuracy of the book of Genesis, the
doctrine of original sin would have either to be discarded or recast. If
the doctrine of original sin were discarded or recast, the accepted
interpretations of the Atonement went with it. With these changed or
weakened the evangelical appeal must either be given new character or
lose force. A system which began with the Fall on one side went on to
heaven and hell on the other and even heaven and hell were more
dependent upon ancient conceptions of the physical structure of the
world and the skies above it than the Church was willing to recognize.
The doctrine of eternal punishment particularly was open to ethical

_Evangelical Protestantism the Outcome of the Whole Process_

Of course all this is rather an extreme statement of the situation fifty
years ago. The churches did not all agree in insisting upon a
conversion; some evangelic churches were beginning to place their
emphasis upon Christian nurture; they sought what is secured for the
emotionally twice-born through guided growth and a larger dependence
upon normal spiritual conditions, though they were at least one with
their brethren in believing that those who come into Christian
discipleship must in the end be greatly changed and conscious of the
change; they too must possess as an assurance of the reality of their
religious life a sense of peace and spiritual well-being.

The high Anglican Church approached the Latin Catholic Church in its
insistence upon sacramental regeneration. This wing of the Church
believed and believes still that baptism truly administered and the Holy
Communion also administered in proper form and accepted in due obedience
by priests belonging to some true succession, possess a mystic saving
power. Just why all this should be so they are perhaps not able to
explain to the satisfaction of any one save those who, for one reason or
another, believe it already. But those who cannot understand
sacramentarianism may dismiss it far too easily, for though there be
here danger of a mechanical formulism, the sacraments themselves may
become part of a spiritual discipline through which the lives of men and
women are so profoundly changed as in the most clear case of conversion,
manifesting often a spiritual beauty not to be found in any other
conception of Christian discipleship. Our differences here are not so
great as we suppose them.

There have always been liberal reactions within the Church herself,
tending either toward relaxation of discipline or the more rational and
simple statements of doctrine. What has been so far said would not be
true of Unitarianism and Universalism in the last century. But these
movements have been somehow wanting in driving power, and so, when all
these qualifications are made, evangelical Protestantism has resulted in
a pretty clearly recognizable type. The representative members of the
representative evangelical churches all had a religious experience; some
of them had been converted after much waiting at the anxious seat, or
long kneeling at the altar rail; others of them had been brought through
Christian teaching to the confession of their faith, but all of them
were thereby reborn. They were the product of a theology which taught
them their lost estate, offered them for their acceptance a mediatorial
and atoning Christ, assured them that through their faith their
salvation would be assured, and counselled them to look to their own
inner lives for the issue of all this in a distinct sense of spiritual
peace and well-being. If they doubted or questioned they were answered
with proof-texts; for their spiritual sustenance they were given the
services of their churches where preaching was generally central, and
exhorted to grow in grace and knowledge through prayer and much reading
of their Bible.

_The Individual Experience of the Believer the Keystone of Evangelical
Protestantism. Its Openness to Disturbing Forces_

Now fine and good as all this was it was, as the event proved, not big
enough to answer all the needs of the soul, nor strong enough to meet
the challenge of forces which were a half century ago shaping themselves
toward the almost entire recasting of great regions of human thought. It
was, to begin with, unexpectedly weak in itself. Evangelical
Protestantism, as has been noted, throws upon the members of Protestant
churches a larger burden of individual responsibility than does the
Catholic Church. The typical evangelical Protestant has had little to
sustain him in his religious life save his sense of reconciliation with
God, from whom possibly he never vitally thought himself to have been
estranged, and a consequent spiritual peace.

His church promises him nothing except teaching, inspiration,
comradeship, an occasion for the confession of his faith and some
opportunity for service. His ministers are only such as he; they may
exhort but they dare not absolve. He is greatly dependent, then, for his
sense of the reality of religion upon his own spiritual states. If he is
spiritually sensitive and not too much troubled by doubt, if he
possesses a considerable capacity for religious understanding, if his
Bible is still for him the authoritative word of God, if his church
meets his normal religious needs with a reasonable degree of adequacy,
if he is resolute in purpose and if he has no excessively trying
experiences in the face of which his faith breaks down, and if the cares
of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, or the strain of poverty do
not too much distract him (and this is a long and formidable list of
ifs) then he is faithful in his church relationships and personally
devout. He grows in grace and knowledge and the outcome of it all is a
religious character admirable in manifold ways, steadfast and truthful
in good works.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fact that in spite of all hindrances the Protestant churches do go
on, registering from decade to decade a varying statistical growth with
a strongly organized life and a great body of communicants who find in
the religious life thus secured to them the true secret of interior
peace and their true source of power, is itself a testimony to the
massive reality of the whole system. And yet the keystone of the great
structure is just the individual experience of the individual believer,
conditioned upon his longing for deliverance and his personal assurance
that he has found, through his faith in his church's gospel, what he

If anything should shake the Protestant's confidence in his creed or his
Bible, or if his own inner experiences should somehow fail in their
sense of sustaining reality, then all the structure of his religion
begins to weaken.

If one may use and press a suggestive figure, here is a religious
structure very much like Gothic architecture; its converging arches of
faith and knowledge lock up upon their keystones and the thrust of the
whole great structure has been met and conquered by flying buttresses.
In other words, sustaining forces of accredited beliefs about science,
history and human nature have been a necessary part of the entire system
and the temple of faith thus sustained may be weakened either through
some failure in the keystone of it which is inner experience, or the
flying buttresses of it which are these accepted systems of science,
history, philosophy and psychology.

_Readjustment of Both Catholic and Protestant Systems Inevitable_

Out of such elements as these, then, through such inheritances and
disciplines the representative religious consciousness of American
Protestantism of the end of the nineteenth century had been created. It
rooted itself in elements common to all religion, it inherited
practically the whole content of the Old Testament, it invested Hebraic
systems of sacrifice with typical meanings and Jewish prophecy with a
mystic authority. It was in debt to St. Paul and Augustine for its
theology. Its cosmogony was 4,000 years old and practically uninfluenced
by modern science, or else at odds with it. It was uncritical in its
acceptance of the supernatural and trained on the whole to find its main
line of evidence for the reality of religion in the supernatural. It
made more of the scheme of deliverance which St. Paul found in the
Crucifixion of Jesus than the ethics of the Gospels. It was mystic in
its emphasis upon an inner testimony to the realities it offered. For
the Protestant it locked up unexpectedly upon the infallible authority
of the Bible and for the Catholic upon the inerrancy of the Church. It
was out of the current of the modern temper in science and philosophy
generally. Its conceptions of the probable fate of the world were Jewish
and of the future life were medieval, and perhaps the strangest thing in
it all was the general unconsciousness of its dependence upon
assumptions open to challenge at almost every point and the process of
profound readjustment upon the threshold of which it stood.

It is almost impossible to disentangle the action of the two sets of
strain which have within the last half century been brought to bear upon
it. Each has reacted upon the other. Perhaps the best thing to do is to
consider the forces which for the last two generations have been
challenging and reshaping inherited faiths, and then to consider the
outcome of it all in the outstanding religious attitudes of our own



Within the last fifty years particularly the fundamentals of the
Christian faith have not only come up for reëxamination but have been
compelled to adapt themselves to facts and forces which have gone
farther toward recasting them than anything for a millennium and a half
before. The Reformation went deep but it did not go to the bottom. There
are differences enough in all reason between Protestantism and
Catholicism, but their identities are deeper still. The world of Martin
Luther and John Calvin was not essentially different in its outlook upon
life from the world of Augustine and Athanasius. The world of Jonathan
Edwards was much the same as the world of John Calvin and the world of
1850 apparently much the same as the world of Jonathan Edwards. There
was, of course, an immense difference in the mechanism with which men
were working but an unexpectedly small difference in their ruling ideas.

_The Readjustments of Christian Faith More Far-reaching in the Last
Fifty Years Than for a Thousand Years Before; Science Releases the
Challenging Forces_

We should not, of course, underestimate the contribution of the
Reformation to the breaking up of the old order. It left the theologies
more substantially unchanged than Protestantism has usually supposed,
but it did mark the rise of changed attitudes toward authority. The
reformers themselves did not accept without protest the spirit they
released. They imposed new authorities and obediences upon their
churches; they distrusted individual initiative in spiritual things and
the more democratic forms of church organization. John Calvin sought in
his Institutes to vindicate the law-abiding character of his new gospel;
Luther turned bitterly against the German peasants in their demand for a
most moderate measure of social justice; the Anglican leaders exiled the
Pilgrims; the Puritan drove the Quaker out of Boston through an
instinctive distrust of inward illumination as a safe guide for faith
and religious enthusiasm as a sound basis for a new commonwealth. But
the spirit was out of the bottle and could not be put back.

The right of the individual to make his own religious inquiries and
reach his own religious conclusions was little in evidence for almost
two hundred years after the Reformation, partly because the reactions of
the post-Reformation period made the faithful generally content to rest
in what had already been secured, partly because traditional authority
was still strong, and very greatly because there was neither in history,
philosophy nor science new material upon which the mind might exercise
itself. We may take 1859, almost exactly two hundred years after the
final readjustments of the Reformation period, as the point of departure
for the forces which have so greatly modified our outlook upon our
world and our understanding of ourselves; not that the date is
clean-cut, for we see now how many things had already begun to change
before Darwin and the Origin of Species.

Darwin's great achievement is to have suggested the formula in which
science and history have alike been restated. He had no thought at all
that what he was doing would reach so far or change so much. He simply
supposed himself, through patient and exhaustive study, to have
accounted for the rich variety of life without the supposition of a
special creation for each form. But the time was ripe and longing for
what he supplied and his hypothesis was quickly taken and applied in
almost every field of thought. Nor does it greatly matter that Darwinism
has been and may be still greatly modified. We have come under the spell
of evolution. Our universe is no longer a static thing; it is growing
and changing. Our imaginations are impressed by long sequences of
change, each one of them minute in itself but in the mass capable of
accounting for immense transformations. Darwin's initiative released the
scientific temper which has been the outstanding characteristic of our
own age. The physicist, the chemist and the biologist re-related their
discoveries in the light of his governing principle and supplied an
immense body of fact for further consideration. Geology was reborn, the
records of the rocks came to have a new meaning, every broken fossil
form became a word, maybe a paragraph, for the retelling of the past of
the earth.

Astronomy supplied cosmic backgrounds for terrestrial evolution and
Physics became a kind of court of appeal for both. The physicist
proclaimed the conservation of energy, reduced seeming solidities to
underlying force and resolved force itself into ultimate and tenuous
unities. The processes thus discovered and related seemed to be
self-sufficient. No need to bring in anything from the outside; unbroken
law, unfailing sequence were everywhere in evidence. Where knowledge
failed speculation bridged the gap. One might begin with a nebula and go
on in unbroken sequence to Plato or Shakespeare without asking for
either material, law or force which was not in the nebula to begin with.
Man himself took his own place in the majestic procession; he, too, was
simply the culmination of a long ascent, with the roots of his being
more deeply in the dust than he had ever dreamed and compelled to
confess himself akin to what he had aforetime scorned.

_The Reaction of Evolution Upon Religion_

All our old chronologies became incidental in a range of time before
which even imagination grew dizzy. We found fragments of the skulls of
our ancestors in ancient glacial drifts and the traditional 6,000 years
since creation hardly showed on the dial upon which Geology recorded its
conclusions. There is no need to follow in detail how all this reacted
upon religion. The accepted religious scheme of things was an
intricately interlocking system irresistible in its logic as long as the
system remained unchallenged in its crucial points. If these should
begin to be doubted then the Christian appeal would have lost, for the
time at least, a most considerable measure of its force. The inner peace
which we have already seen to be the keystone of the Protestant arch
grew in part out of the sense of a universal condemnation from which the
believer was happily saved; this in turn was conditioned by the
unquestioned acceptance of the Genesis narrative. We can see clearly
enough now that Christianity, and Protestant Christianity especially,
really depended upon something deeper than all this. Still for the time
being all these things were locked up together and once the accepted
foundations of theology began to be questioned far-reaching adjustments
were inevitable and the time of readjustment was bound to be marked by
great restlessness and confusion.

The evolutionary hypothesis profoundly affected man's thought about
himself. It challenged even more sharply his thought about God. Atheism,
materialism and agnosticism are an old, old trinity, but they had up to
our own time been at the mercy of more positive attitudes through their
inability to really answer those insurgent questions: Whence? Whither?
and Why? Creation had plainly enough demanded a creator. When Napoleon
stilled a group of debating officers in Egypt by pointing with a
Napoleonic gesture to the stars and saying, "Gentlemen, who made all
these?" his answer had been final. Paley's old-fashioned turnip-faced
watch with its analogies in the mechanism of creation had supplied an
irresistible argument for a creation according to design and a designing
creator. But now all this was changed. If Napoleon could have ridden
out from his august tomb, reassembled his officers from the dust of
their battlefields and resumed the old debate, the officers would have
been apparently in the position to answer--"Sire, they made themselves."
Our universe seemed to be sufficient unto itself.

We have reacted against all this and rediscovered God, if indeed we had
ever lost Him, but this ought not to blind those who have accomplished
the great transition to the confusion of faith which followed the
popularization of the great scientific generalizations, nor ought it to
blind us to the fact that much of this confusion still persists.
Christian theism was more sharply challenged by materialism and
agnosticism than by a frankly confessed atheism. Materialism was the
more aggressive; it built up its own great system, posited matter and
force as the ultimate realities, and then showed to its own satisfaction
how everything that is is just the result of their action and
interaction. Nor did materialism pause upon the threshold of the soul
itself. Consciousness, so conceived, was a by-product of the higher
organization of matter, and we ourselves a spray flung up out of the
infinite ocean of being to sparkle for a moment in the light and then
fall back again into the depths out of which we had been borne.

Those who so defined us made us bond-servants of matter and force from
birth to death though they drew back a little from the consequences of
their own creeds and sought to save a place for moral freedom and
responsibility and a defensible altruism. It is doubtful if they
succeeded. Materialism affected greatly the practical conduct of life.
It offered its own characteristic values; possession and pleasure became
inevitably enough the end of action, and action itself, directed toward
such ends, became the main business of life. Science offered so
fascinating a field for thought as to absorb the general intellectual
energy of the generation under the spell of it; the practical
application of science to mechanism and industry with the consequent
increase in luxury and convenience, absorbed the force of practical men.

It naturally went hard with religion in a world so preoccupied. Its
foundations were assailed, its premises questioned, its conclusions
denied, its interests challenged. The fact that religion came through it
at all is a testimony both to the unconquerable force of faith and the
unquenchable need of the soul for something greater than the scientific
gospel revealed or the achievements of science supplied.

_The Reaction of Biblical Criticism Upon Faith_

The first front along which the older faith met the impact of new forces
was scientific; the second drive was at a more narrow but, as far as
religion goes, an even more strategic front. The Bible had to submit to
those processes of inquiry and criticism which had so greatly altered
the scientific outlook. The Old and New Testaments, as has been said,
supplied really the basal authority for the whole Protestant order, and
speaking merely as a historian one is well within the facts when one
says that even before the enlightenment of the last two generations the
traditional way of thinking about the Bible had not proved satisfactory.
The more free-minded were conscious of its contradictions; they could
not reconcile its earlier and later moral idealisms; they found in it as
much to perplex as to help them. Some of them, therefore, disowned it
altogether and because it was tied up in one bundle with religion, as
they knew religion, they disowned religion at the same time. Others who
accepted its authority but were unsatisfied with current interpretations
of it sought escape in allegorical uses of it. (We shall find this to be
one of the distinct elements in Christian Science.) But after all it did
answer the insistent questions, Whence? and Whither? and Why? as nothing
else answered them. Therefore, in spite of challenge and derelict faith
and capricious interpretations and forced harmonies it still held its
own. Directly science began to offer its own answers to Whence? and
Whither? and Why? curiosity found an alternative. Science had its own
book of genesis, its own hypothesis as to the creation of man, its own
conclusions as to his ascent. These had a marvellously emancipating and
stimulating power; they opened, as has been said, vast horizons; they
affected philosophy; they gave a new content to poetry, for the poet
heard in the silences of the night:

          "Æonian music measuring out
            The steps of Time--the shocks of Chance--
          The blows of Death."

The challenge of science to the book of Genesis specifically and to the
miraculous narratives with which both the Old and the New Testaments are
veined more generally, doubtless stimulated Biblical criticism, but the
time was ripe for that also. The beginnings of it antedate the
scientific Renaissance, but the freer spirit of the period offered
criticism its opportunity, the scientific temper supplied the method and
the work began.

Inherited faith has been more directly affected by Biblical criticism
than by the result of scientific investigation and the generalizations
based thereon. The Bible had been the average man's authority in science
and history as well as faith. That statement naturally needs some
qualification, for before evolution took the field it was possible not
only to reconcile a fair knowledge of the natural sciences with the
Bible, but even, as in the argument for design, to make them
contributory to Bible teaching. But evolution changed all that and it
was really through the impact of the more sweeping scientific
conclusions upon his Bible that the average man felt their shock upon
his faith. If he had been asked merely to harmonize the genesis of the
new science with the genesis of the Old Testament he would have had
enough to occupy his attention, though perhaps he might have managed it.
The massive mind of Gladstone accomplished just that to its own entire

But the matter went deeper. A wealth of slowly accumulated knowledge was
brought to bear upon the Scriptures and a critical acumen began to
follow these old narratives to their sources. There is no need here to
follow through the results in detail. They[6] were seen to have been
drawn from many sources, in some cases so put together that the joints
and seams were plainly discernible. One wonders how they had so long
escaped observation. The Bible was seen to contain contributory elements
from general ancient cultures; its cosmogony the generally accepted
cosmogony of the time and the region; its codes akin to other and older
codes. It contained fragments of old songs and the old lore of the
common folk. It was seen to record indisputably long processes of moral
growth and spiritual insight. Its prophets spoke out of their time and
for their time. It was plainly enough no longer an infallible dictation
to writers who were only the automatic pens of God, it was a growth
rooted deep in the soil out of which it grew and the souls of those who
created it. The fibres of its main roots went off into the darkness of a
culture too long lost ever to be quite completely understood. It was no
longer ultimate science or unchallenged history.

[Footnote 6: The Old Testament narratives particularly. The results of
New Testament criticism have not yet fully reached the popular mind.]

We have come far enough now to see that nothing really worth while has
been lost in this process of re-interpretation, and much has been
gained. If, as the French say in one of their luminous proverbs, to
understand is to pardon, to understand is also to be delivered from
doubts and forced apologies and misleading harmonies and the necessity
of defending the indefensible. In our use of the Bible, as in every
other region of life, the truth has made us free. It possesses
still--the Bible--the truth and revelation and meaning for life it
always possessed. We are gradually realizing this and gaining in the
realization. But the Bible has been compelled to meet the challenge of
an immensely expanded scientific and historical knowledge. We have had
to test its supposed authority as to beginnings by Astronomy, Geology
and Biology; we have had to test its history by the methods and
conclusions of modern historical investigation. The element of the
supernatural running through both the Old and New Testaments has been
compelled to take into account that emphasis upon law and ordered
process which is, perhaps more than any other single thing, the
contribution of science to the discipline of contemporaneous thought.

_The Average Man Loses His Bearings_

The whole process has been difficult and unsettling. There was and is
still a want of finality in the conclusions of Biblical scholars. It
needed and needs still more study than the average man is able to give
to understand their conclusions; it needed and it needs still a deal of
patient, hard, clear-visioned thinking to win from the newer
interpretations of the Bible that understanding and acceptance of its
value which went with the inherited faith. The more liberal-minded
religious teachers doubtless very greatly overestimate the penetration
of popular thought already accomplished, by what seems to them a
familiar commonplace. The New Testament is still, even for the scholar,
a challenging problem. Conclusions are being bitterly contested and
where the specialist is himself in doubt the average man is naturally in
utter confusion. The more conservative communions neither accept nor
teach the results of the higher criticism, and so it reaches the body of
their communicants only as rumour and a half-understood menace to the

Religion is naturally the most conservative thing in the world and even
when we think ourselves to have utterly changed our point of view
something deeper than mere intellectual acceptance protests and will not
be dismissed. We pathetically cling to that to which we, at the same
time, say good-bye. The average man somewhat affected by the modern
scientific spirit is greatly perplexed by the miraculous elements in the
Bible and yet he still believes the Bible the word of God with an
authority nothing else possesses. In fact, by a contradiction easy
enough to understand, what puzzles him most seems to him the clearest
evidence of the supernatural character of the narrative itself. His
religion is not so much the interpretation of what he does understand as
the explanation of what he does not understand. If he gives up the
supernatural his faith goes with it, and yet the other side of him--the
scientifically tempered side--balks at the supernatural.

It is hard to know what to do with such a temper. Indeed, just this
confused temper of believing and doubting, with miracles for the storm
center, has offered a rich field for those interpretations of the
miraculous, particularly in the New Testament, in terms of faith and
mental healing, to which Christian Science and New Thought are so much
given. We may conclude in a sentence by saying that since the
infallibility of the Bible was one of the flying buttresses which upheld
the inherited structure of religion, those changes and confusions which
have grown out of two generations of Biblical criticism have greatly
affected the popular faith.

_The New Psychology Both a Constructive and Disturbing Influence_

A third influence tending to break up the stability of the old order has
been the new psychology. So general a statement as this needs also to be
qualified, for, suggestively enough, the new psychology has not so much
preceded as followed the modern multiplication of what, using James'
phrase, we may call the "Varieties of Religious Experience." It has
been, in part, a widening of our conclusions as to the mind and its
processes to make room for the puzzling play of personality which has
revealed itself in many of these experiences. Hypnotism necessarily
antedated the interest of psychology in the hypnotic state; it compelled
psychology to take account of it and for the explaining of hypnotism
psychology has been compelled to make a new study of personality and its
more obscure states. The psychologists have been far more hospitable to
the phenomena of mental healing than have the faculties of medicine.
They took them seriously before the average doctor would even admit that
they existed. Their study led them to a pretty thoroughgoing
consideration of the power of suggestion upon bodily states, and
eventually to formulate, as they have been able, both the laws of
suggestion and the secret of its power. Telepathy and psychic phenomena
generally have also offered a rich field to the student of the abnormal
and psychology has broadened its investigations to include all these
conditions. That is to say, the border-land phenomena of consciousness
as stressed and manifested in the more bizarre cults have really
supplied the material upon which the new psychology has been working,
and the psychologist to-day is seriously trying to explain a good many
things which his predecessors, with their hard and fast analyses of the
mind and its laws, refused to take seriously.

They concede that a complete psychology must have a place in it for the
abnormal as well as the normal, and for the exceptional as well as for
the staid and universally accepted. Those who have been fathering new
religions and seeking to make the abnormal normal have been quick to
avail themselves of the suggestions and permissions in the new
psychology. Once we have crossed the old and clearly defined frontiers,
almost anything seems possible. Personality, we are now taught, is
complex, far-reaching, and is really, like a floating iceberg, more
largely below the sea level of consciousness than above it. How far it
extends and what connections it makes in these its hidden depths, no one
of us may know. Normal consciousness, to change the figure, is just one
brilliantly illuminated center in a world of shadow deepening into
darkness. The light grows more murky, the shadows more insistent, as we
pass down, or out, or back from that illumined center. We cannot tell
how much of the shadow is really a part of us, nor do we dare to be
dogmatic about what may, or may not, there be taking place.

Indeed, we may fill the shadows with almost anything which caprice or
desire may suggest. Our curiously inventive minds have always loved to
fill in our ignorances with their creations. We formerly had the
shadowed backgrounds of the universe to populate with the creatures of
our fear or fancy, but now, strangely enough, since science has let in
its light upon the universe psychology has given us the subconscious as
a region not yet subdued to law or shot through with light. And the
prophets of new cults and border-land movements have taken advantage of
this. "Since there is," they say in substance, "so much in life of which
we are not really conscious, and since there are hints within us of
strange powers, how can we set limits to what we may either be or do,
and may not one man's caprice be as reasonable as another man's reason?"

The popularization of the new psychology has thus created a soil finely
receptive to the unusual. Without understanding what has been
accomplished in the way of investigation, and with little accurate
knowledge of what has actually been tested out, there is amongst us a
widespread feeling that almost anything is possible. Here also we may
end in a sentence by saying that present-day psychology with its wide
sweep of law, its recognition of the abnormal, its acceptance of and
insistence upon the power of suggestion, its recognition of the
subconscious and its tendency to assign thereto a great force of
personal action, has broken down old certainties and given a free field
to imagination. It has, more positively, taught us how to apply the laws
of mental action to the more fruitful conduct of life, and so supplied
the basis for the cults which make much of efficiency and
self-development. It has also lent new meaning to religion all along the

_The Influence of Philosophy and the Social Situation_

How far contemporaneous philosophy has affected inherited faith or
supplied a basis for new religious development, is more difficult to
say. Beyond debate philosophic materialism has greatly influenced the
religious attitude of multitudes of people just as the reactions against
it have supplied the basis for new religious movements. Pragmatism,
affirming that whatever works is true, has tended to supply a
philosophic justification for whatever seems to work, whether it be true
or not, and it has beside tended to give us a world where little islands
of understandings have taken, as it were, the place of a continuous
continent of truth. The tendencies of the leaders of new cults have been
to take the material which science and psychology have supplied and
build them into philosophies of their own; they have not generally been
able or willing to test themselves by the conclusions of more
disciplined thinkers.

New Thought has undoubtedly been affected by the older
idealisms--Berkeley's for example--while James and Royce have supplied
congenial material. The movements are generally selective. New Thought
uses James' applied psychology and possibly Royce's Absolute, but does
not consistently confine itself to any one system. Philosophy also has
been itself of late working in a pretty rarified region. Its problems
have not been the problems of the common mind. It has been trying to
find out how we know, to relate the inner and the outer world, and in
general to account for things which the average man takes for granted,
and in the understanding of which he is more hindered than helped by the
current philosophy of the schools. It takes philosophy a good while to
reach the man in the street, and even then its conclusions have to be
much popularized and made specific before they mean much for him. We
shall know better fifty years from now what philosophy is doing for
religion and life than we know to-day. There are, however, as has been
said, aspects of philosophy which religion generally is beginning to
take into account.

The failure of Christianity to create for itself a distinctly Christian
environment has also had much to do with dissolving old religious
stabilities. Strongly felt social injustices are releasing forces of
discontent and creating a fertile soil for revolutionary experiment,
though it must be said that modern religious cults and movements have
not gained so much from this particular form of discontent as have those
movements which look toward radical social readjustment. But the whole
situation has created a shaken state of public opinion. The fierceness
of modern competition, industrially and economically, finally carried
through to the tragic competition of a world war, has put our tempers on
edge. The extremes of wealth and poverty and the baffling fluctuations
in modern industry have brought the existing order into disrepute. The
very great number of the socially unfit and the grievous number of
social misfits, along with crime and poverty and the deposit of human
sediment in our cities, not only trouble men of good will but create a
human element easily misled. Such conditions as these are in such
painful contrast with the ideals of the Gospel, the spirit of
Christianity and even the potential productive force of modern society
as to lead many to believe that something is radically wrong. Many are
persuaded that Christianity as now organized and led is socially
sterile; they have withdrawn themselves from the church; many of them
have become its mordant critics; the more extreme of them have disowned
religion as well as its organized form, and the violently radical would
dethrone any conception of the Divine and take the word God out of our
vocabulary. This extreme group has not for the most part associated
itself with the new religious movement, but here at least has been a
disintegrating force.

_An Age of Confusion_

In such ways as these, then, the accepted religious order identified
with historic Catholicism and Protestantism has in the last fifty years
been greatly altered. Science, Biblical criticism, psychology and
philosophy, and social unrest have all had their share in making people
impatient of the inherited order, or doubtful or defiant of it. We have
been asked to relate our old creeds and confidences to new insights and
understandings. The old answers to the questions Whence? and Whither?
and Why? have been challenged by new answers; our horizons have been
pushed back in every direction and a strange sense of mystery both in
personality and the external order has perplexed and stimulated us.
Along with all this and in no little way growing out of it, has gone
impatience of discipline and an undue haste to gain the various goods of

Evolution misled us, to begin with. If the longing for deliverance be
one of the driving forces in religious life, then the vaster scientific
conclusions of the latter part of the nineteenth century offered a new
definition of deliverance. It was not, after all, so much in the travail
of the soul as in a serene and effortless self-commitment to a power,
not ourselves, which makes for righteousness, that we were to be saved.
We had only to push out upon tides which asked of us neither rudder nor
oar, to be brought to our appointed havens. How greatly we have been
disillusioned in all this and how bitterly we have been taught that life
is not so much a drifting with the tide as making brave headway against
it, we all know well enough to-day. Somewhere back of a vast deal in
these modern religious cults and movements, is the smug optimism, now
taking one form and now another, which was the misleading bequest of
the nineteenth century to the twentieth.

The great scientific discoveries and their application to the mechanism
of life led the nineteenth century to believe that nothing was
impossible. Everything we touched became plastic beneath our touch save
possibly ourselves; there seemed to be no limit to what man might do and
he consequently assumed that there was no limit to what he might become.
He disassociated his hopes from both his disciplines and experiences;
everything seemed not only possible but easily possible. A general
restlessness of temper, due in part to the breaking up of the inherited
order, in part to the ferment of new ideas and in part to a general
relaxing of discipline, began to manifest itself.

The demoralizing influence of migratory populations ought not to be
overlooked in this connection. In all the Western nations there has been
an outstanding growth of industrial city populations due to changing
economic conditions. The steadying influences of old environments have
been lost, the influence of the new environment is too stimulating at
its best and demoralizing at its worst. Our cities are not kind to home
life; too often they do not supply a proper physical setting for it. The
specialization of hard driven industries takes the creative joy out of
work and leads to an excess of highly commercialized pleasure. The
result is the modern city worker, never living long enough in one place
to create for himself a normal social environment, always anxious about
his economic future, restless, too largely alternating between
strenuous work and highly coloured pleasure and much open, through
temperament and circumstance, to the appeal of whatever promises him a
new experience or a new freedom.

_The Lure of the Short Cut_

Dean Inge in a recent study of the contribution of the Greek temper to
religion has drawn a strong, though deeply shadowed picture of the
disorganization of modern life through such influences as these. "The
industrial revolution has generated a new type of barbarism, with no
roots in the past. For the second time in the history of Western Europe,
continuity is in danger of being lost. A generation is growing up, not
uneducated, but educated in a system which has little connection with
European culture in its historical development. The Classics are not
taught; the Bible is not taught; history is not taught to any effect.
What is even more serious, there are no social traditions. The modern
townsman is _déraciné_: he has forgotten the habits and sentiments of
the village from which his forefathers came. An unnatural and unhealthy
mode of life, cut off from the sweet and humanizing influences of
nature, has produced an unnatural and unhealthy mentality, to which we
shall find no parallels in the past. Its chief characteristic is
profound secularity or materialism. The typical town artisan has no
religion and no superstitions; he has no ideals beyond the visible and
tangible world of senses."[7]

[Footnote 7: "The Legacy of Greece," p. 38.]

Writing as an Englishman Dean Inge did not note the equally unsettling
influence of migratory races. The European peasant in Detroit or Chicago
or New York is still more _déraciné_. He has not only left the soil in
whose culture his ancestors had been established for generations, he has
left the tradition and the discipline which have made him what he is.
The necessary readjustments are immensely difficult. For the first
generation they are largely a dumb puzzle, or a dull, aching
homesickness or a gray laborious life whose outcome must be often
strangely different from their dreams, but for the second generation the
whole experience is a heady adventure in freedom not easy to analyze
though social workers generally are agreed that the children of the
immigrant, belonging neither to the old nor the new, are a disturbing
element in American life. A city like Detroit, in which this is being
written, where both movements combine, the American country and village
dweller coming to a highly specialized industrial center and the
European immigrant to an entirely new environment, illustrates the
complex issue of the whole process.

It is just to note that the Catholic immigrant, finding in his Church
the one homelike thing, is often a better Catholic in America than he
was at home. A Protestant writer without accurate information would not
dare to generalize on the religious dislocation of the second Catholic
generation. But there must be a very great loss. The large non-churched
elements in our population must be in part due to Catholic
disintegration as they are certainly due to Protestant disintegration.
And new movements find their opportunity in this whole group. In
general, society, through such influences, has grown impatient of
discipline, scornful of old methods, contemptuous of experience and
strangely unwilling to pay the price of the best. The more unstable have
surrendered themselves to the lure of the short cut; they are persuaded
that there are quick and easy roads to regions of well-being which had
before been reached only through labour and discipline and much travail
of body, mind and soul.

_Popular Education Has Done Little to Correct Current Confusions_

Nor has the very great extension of popular education really done much
to correct this; it seems rather to intensify it, for education shared
and shares still the temper of the time. Our education has been more
successful generally in opening vistas than in creating an understanding
of the laws of life and the meaning of experience; it has given us a
love of speculation without properly trained minds; it has furnished us
with the catch words of science and philosophy but has not supplied, in
the region of philosophy particularly, the corresponding philosophic
temper. It has, above all, been fruitful in unjustified self-confidence,
particularly here in America. We have confused a great devotion to
higher education and the widespread taking of its courses with the solid
fruition of it in mental discipline. America particularly has furnished
for a long time now an unusual opportunity for bizarre and capricious
movements. Nothing overtaxes the credulity of considerable elements in
our population. Whatever makes a spacious show of philosophy is sure to
find followers and almost any self-confident prophet has been able to
win disciples, no matter to what extremes he goes.

This has not been equally true of older civilizations with a more
clearly defined culture or a more searching social discipline. Something
must be lacking in the education of a people in which all this is so
markedly possible. The play of mass psychology (one does not quite dare
to call it mob psychology) also enters into the situation. Democracy
naturally makes much of the verdict of majorities. Any movement which
gains a considerable number of adherents is pretty sure to win the
respect of the people who have been taught to judge a cause by the
number of those who can be persuaded to adopt it. This generally
unstable temper, superficial, restless, unduly optimistic, open to
suggestion and wanting in the solid force of great tradition has joined
with the recasting of Science, Theology, Psychology and Philosophy, to
open the door for the entrance of new religions, and in general, to so
unsettle the popular mind as to make almost anything possible.

_The Churches Lose Authority_

In the field of religion certain well-defined consequences have either
followed or accompanied the whole process. There has been, to begin
with, a loosening of church ties. The extent of all this has been
somewhat covered up by the reasonable growth of the historic churches.
In spite of all the difficulties which they have been called upon to
face, the statistics generally have been reassuring. The churches are
attended in the aggregate by great numbers of people who are untroubled
by doubts. Such as these have little sympathy with the more restless or
troubled, and little patience with those who try to understand the
restless and troubled; they do not share the forebodings of those who
look with a measure of apprehension upon the future of Christianity. As
far as they recognize disturbing facts at all they are very much like
Carlyle who, when told that Christianity was upon its last legs, said,
"What of that? Christianity has always been upon its last legs." And
perhaps their simple faith and hope are more to the point than many
opposing attitudes. The churches have grown faster than the population,
or at least they had at the last census. More than that, there has been
a marked increase in church activity. The churches are better organized;
they are learning the secret of coöperation; they are reaching out in
more directions and all of them, even the more democratic, are more hard
driven from the top.

The result of all this has been a great show of action, though it is
difficult now to say whether the real results of this multiplied
activity have been commensurate in spiritual force and ethical fruitage
with the intensity of their organized life. (The writer thinks not.) But
through all this we discern, nevertheless, a marked weakening of
authority as far as the Church goes and a general loosening of ties;
though the churches in the regions of finance and organization drive
harder than they used to drive, in the matter of creed and conduct they
are driving with an easy rein. Denominational loyalties are relaxed;
there is much changing from one denomination to another and within the
denominations and individual churches there is, of course, a substantial
proportion of membership which is only nominal.

_Efforts at Reconstruction Within the Church_

There are those who view with apprehension the whole future of religion.
They believe that the foundations of the great deep are breaking beneath
us, that Christianity must be profoundly recast before it can go on
prevailingly, and they are reaching in one direction and another for
constructive changes, but all this within the frontiers of historic
Christianity and the Church. They want church unity but they still want
a church; they want a new theology but still a theology; they want new
applications of religion but still substantially the old religion. There
was more of this during the war than just now. Such a book as Orchard's
"Future of Religion," perhaps the most thoughtful analysis of conditions
given us for a long time, was born of the war itself and already many of
its anticipations seem to miss the point. Such expectations of wholesale
religious reconstruction leave out of account the essential conservatism
of human nature, a conservatism more marked in religion than anywhere

There is also a strong and telling group which is seeking so to recast
and interpret inherited faiths as to make them more consonant to modern
needs and more hospitable to new understandings. Such as these have
accepted gladly the tested conclusions of science, the results of
Biblical criticism and the revealing suggestion of both psychology and
philosophy; they have sought to disentangle the essential from the
unessential, the enduring from the transient. They have found in science
not the foe but the friend of religion. Those intimations of unfailing
force, those resolutions of the manifold phases of action and reality
toward which science is reaching have seemed to them a discovery of the
very presence and method of God, and they have found in just such
regions as these new material for their faith. They have dealt
reverently with the old creeds, for they have seen that the forms which
Christianity has taken through the centuries have grown out of enduring
experiences and needs never to be outgrown, and that their finality is
the finality of the deep things of the soul itself. They have been able,
therefore, to make new truth tributary to old faith and to interpret the
central affirmations of Christianity in terms of present-day facts. They
have sought to share their conclusions with others and they have really
been able to carry Christianity through the transitional period of the
last fifty years and continue it open-minded, strongly established,
reverent and enriched rather than impoverished.

What they have done has been doubly hard, once through the sheer
difficulty of the task itself, and once through the hostile and too
often abusive temper with which they and their endeavours have been
opposed. None the less, they have saved for Christendom a reasonable
faith. Science has of late gone half-way to meet them. It is rather
painfully revising a good many of its earlier conclusions and on the
whole walking rather humbly just now before its God, recognizing that
the last word has not yet really been said about much of anything.

_An Age of Doubt and a Twilight-Zone in History_

But the apparently unchanged traditions of the older forms of faith and
the relatively strong position of the Church must not blind us to the
generally disorganized condition of religion to-day. There is much in
evidence a body of doubt which clouds the outlook of multitudes upon
religion generally. Beyond debate a kind of eclipse of faith began to
draw across the Western world so early as the middle of the last
century. The militant skepticism of the brilliant group of younger poets
who sang their defiances in the first two decades of the nineteenth
century to a world which professed itself duly shocked, is wholly
different from the sadness with which the more mature singers of two
generations later announce their questioning and their disillusionment.
The difference is just the difference between Shelley and Matthew
Arnold. There is a philosophic depth in this later music which the
former wholly lacked. Arnold speaks for his time when he announces
himself as standing between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to
be born. A profound disillusionment expressed itself in great ranges of
later nineteenth century literature and confirmed the more sensitive and
despairing in a positive pessimism, strangely contrasted to the
self-assertive temper of the science and industry of the period. It
would need a pretty careful analysis to follow all this to its roots.
Something of it no doubt was due to the inability of poet and
philosopher to reconcile their new understanding of life and the
universe with the old religious forms but more of it was likely due to
some deep exhaustion of spiritual force, an exhaustion which has from
time to time marked transitional periods in the development of cultures
and civilizations.

There have always been twilight zones in history, times in which the
force of the old had spent itself and nothing new had come to take its
place. We are beginning to see now that we too have been passing through
a twilight zone whose contrasts are all the more dramatic through the
more than tropic swiftness with which the high lights of the Victorian
period darkened into the distractions and disillusionments of our own
time. The best one can say is that there was on the part of the more
sensitive a widespread anticipation of all this, as if the chill of a
coming shadow had fallen first of all upon them, and beyond debate, not
a little of the doubt which has been so marked a feature of the last two
generations in literature generally, and in the attitude of a great
number of people toward religion, has been due to just this.

_The Hunger of the Soul and the Need for Faith Persist_

And yet, since religion is so inextinguishable a thing, changing forces
and attitudes have still left untouched the hunger of the soul and the
need of men for faith. Indeed the very restlessness of the time, the
breaking up of the old orders, the failure of the old certainties, has,
if anything, deepened the demand for religious reality and there has
been in all directions a marked turning to whatever offered itself as a
plausible substitute for the old, and above all a turning to those
religions which in quite clearly defined ways promise to demonstrate the
reality of religion through some sensible or tangible experience. If
religion will only work miracles and attest itself by some sign or other
which he who runs may read there is waiting for it an eager
constituency. We shall find as we go on how true this really is, for the
modern religious cult which has gained the largest number of followers
offers the most clearly defined signs and wonders.

If religion cures your disease and you are twice persuaded, once that
you really are cured and once that religion has done it, then you have
something concrete enough to satisfy anybody. Or if, perplexed by death
and with no faith strong enough to pierce that veil through a persuasion
of the necessity of immortality established in the very nature of
things, you are offered a demonstration of immortality through the
voices and presences of the discarnate, then, once more, you have
something concrete enough, if only you were sure of it, to settle every
doubt. And finally, if the accepted religions are too concrete for you
and if you desire a rather vague and poetic approach to religion made
venerable by the centuries and appealingly picturesque through the
personalities of those who present it, you have in some adaptation of
oriental faith to occidental needs a novel and interesting approach to
the nebulous reality which passes in the Eastern mind for God, an
approach which demands no very great discipline and leaves a wide margin
for the play of caprice or imagination.

_Modern Religious Cults and Movements Find Their Opportunity in the
Whole Situation. The Three Centers About Which They Have Organized

There has been, then, as the outcome of the complex of forces which we
have been considering, a new approach to religion distinctive in our own
time and in general taking three directions determined by that against
which it has reacted, or perhaps more positively by the varying
character of what it seeks. A pretty careful analysis of modern
religious cults and movements shows that they have organized themselves,
in action and reaction, around three centers definitely related to three
outstanding deficiencies of inherited faith. I say deficiencies, though
that is of course to beg the question. We saw earlier in this study how
religion everywhere and always grows out of some of the few central and
unexpectedly simple, though always supremely great, needs and how the
force of any religion waxes or wanes as it meets these needs. Religion
is real to the generality of us as it justifies the ways of God to man
and reveals the love and justice of God in the whole of personal
experience. Religion is always, therefore, greatly dependent upon its
power to reconcile the more shadowed side of experience with the Divine
love and power and goodness. It is hard to believe in a Providence whose
dealings with us seem neither just nor loving. Faith breaks down more
often in the region of trying personal experience than anywhere else.

All this is as old as the book of Job but it is none the less true
because it is old.

The accepted theology which explained sin and sorrow in terms of the
fall of man and covered each individual case with a blanket indictment
justified by the condemnation of the whole of humanity has lost its
force. It depended, to begin with, on a tradition of human beginnings
which has not borne examination, and it was beside, in spite of all the
efforts to defend it, profoundly unethical. Calvinistic theology,
moreover, made a difficult matter worse by assuming for every individual
a predestined fate reaching beyond death itself which a man was
powerless to escape. Those chapters in the long story of theology which
record the turning and groping of minds--and souls--enmeshed in this web
of their own weaving and more deeply entangled still in the challenging
experiences of life itself are among the most pathetic and arresting
in the whole story of human thought. We ought to recognize more clearly
than we have generally done and confess more frankly that our inherited
explanations of the problems of pain and sorrow have been markedly
unsatisfactory and have greatly contributed to the justifiable reaction
against them.

One group of modern religious cults and movements, then, has found its
opportunity just here. Christian Science and kindred cults are just an
attempt to reconcile the love and goodness of God with pain, sickness,
sorrow, and to a lesser degree with sin. How they do this remains to be
seen, but the force of their appeal depends upon the fact that a very
considerable and constantly growing number of people believe that they
have really done it. Such cults as these have also found a place for the
New Testament tradition of healing; they have also appealed strongly to
those who seek a natural or a pseudo-natural explanation for the
miraculous elements in religion generally. They have been expectedly
reinforced by the feeling for the Bible which strongly persists among
those who are not able to find in the inherited Protestant position that
real help in the Bible which they had been taught they should there
find, and who are not, on the other hand, sufficiently acquainted with
the newer interpretations of it to find therein a resolution for their
doubts and a vital support for their faith. Finally, Christian Science
and kindred cults offer a demonstration of the reality of religion in
health and happiness, and generally, in a very tangible way of living.
Here, then, is the first region in which we find a point of departure
for modern religious cults and movements.

Spiritualism organizes itself around another center. Religion generally
demands and offers a faith in immortality. We are not concerned here
with the grounds which various religions have supplied for this faith
or the arguments by which they have supported it. Generally speaking,
any religion loses ground as it fails to convince its adherents of
immortality, or justify their longings therefor. Any religion supplying
clear and indisputable proof of immortality will command a strong
following and any seeming demonstration of immortality not particularly
associated with this or that religious form will organize about itself a
group of followers who will naturally give up pretty much everything
else and center their entire interests upon the methods by which
immortality is thus supposed to be demonstrated. Now modern Spiritualism
comes in just here. It professes to offer a sure proof of immortality to
an age which is just scientific enough to demand something corresponding
to scientific proof for the support of its faith and not scientific
enough to accept all the implications of science, or to submit to its
discipline. Theosophy and kindred cults are generally a quest for
deliverance along other than accepted Christian lines; they substitute
self-redemption for Christian atonement, and deliverance through
mystical disciplines for that forgiveness of sin and assurance of
salvation in which Christianity has found its peace.

There is, of course, a vast deal of action and reaction between the
newer movements themselves and between the new faith and the old. There
are elements common to all religions; there are frontiers where all
religions meet and somewhat merge; at some point or other almost every
faith touches its contrary or becomes uncertain and shifts its emphasis.
Religion is always dependent upon changing tempers and very greatly
upon varying personalities; it is always in flux, impatient of
definitions and refusing the rigid boundary lines within which we
attempt to confine it. Though it be clearly possible, therefore, to find
three distinct points of departure for the whole of the border-land
cults and religions, there is running through them all a certain unity
of driving force. They are in general a quest for a new type of
religious reality; they are largely due to certain marked inadequacies
of the more accepted religious teachings and to the want of the more
accepted religious experiences to satisfy certain types. They have come
to light in our own time through the failure of authority in both
Catholicism and Protestantism, through the failure of the accepted
understandings of the Bible to satisfy those who are still persuaded
that it has a real message and through the reaction of the modern spirit
upon religious attitudes. They owe much to the deficiency of the
traditional explanation of sin, sorrow and suffering; they owe something
to the failure of Christianity to create a Christian environment; and
they owe not a little to the natural longing for some positive assurance
of life after death, as well as to the quest of the soul for deliverance
and its longing for a satisfying communion with God. And they are
reinforced in every direction by the restless and unsettled temper of a
time subject to great changes of habit and outlook through the breaking
up of old industrial and social orders and the impact of new forces
driving in from every direction.

We shall need to relate these conditioning causes more definitely to the
various cults and movements as we go on to study them, but here at least
are the backgrounds against which they must be studied and the lines of
testing down which they must be followed. We shall begin in our more
detailed study of these movements with the modern religious quest for
health and healing. But even here we shall find it worth while to trace
broadly the history of faith and mental healing.



Those cults which are either founded upon faith healing or involve it
have a long ancestry. George Barton Cutten's very suggestive book[8]
makes that clear enough and supplies an informing mass of detail.
Medical Science and Psychology have been slow to take into account the
facts thus submitted, but they have of late made amends for their
somewhat unaccountable delay, and we have now reached certain
conclusions about which there is little controversy except, indeed, as
to the range of their application. Beneath all faith healing and kindred
phenomena there are three pretty clearly defined bases. First, the
action or reaction of mind upon body; second, the control of mental
attitudes by the complex of faith; and, as an interrelated third, the
control of the lower nerve centers by suggestion.

[Footnote 8: "Three Thousand Years of Mental Healing."]

_The Bases of Faith and Mental Healing_

There is an almost baffling interplay of what one may call these three
controlling principles, and the exhaustive discussion of the whole
subject demands the knowledge of the specialist. But we do know, to
begin with, that just as there are demonstrated bodily approaches to
both the mental and spiritual aspects of life, so there are equally
undeniable mental and even spiritual approaches to physical conditions.
We have here to fall back upon facts rather than upon a definite
knowledge of what happens in the shadowy border-land across which the
mind takes over and organizes and acts upon what is presented to it by
the afferent nervous system. Nothing, for example, could be really more
profound than the difference between waves of compression and
rarefaction transmitted through the luminiferous ether and the
translation of their impact into light. Somewhere between the retina of
the eye, with its magic web of sensitive nerve ends, and the proper
registering and transforming regions of the brain something happens
about which Science can say no final word.

What happens in the case of light is equally true of sound and tactual
sensation. That vivid and happy consciousness of well-being which we
call health is just the translation of normal balances, pressures and
functionings in the mechanism of the body into an entirely different
order of phenomena. Health is a word of manifold meaning and if its
foundations are established in the harmonious coöperation of physical
processes, its superstructure rises through mental attitudes into what,
for want of a more clearly defined word, we call spiritual states. Two
orders meet and merge within us. Above a world of idea, insight, desire
and subordination of means to ends, the whole driven by the will and
saturated with emotion, a world which has its contacts with the unseen
and eternal and derives its strength from the truly immaterial; below a
world of material and forces in subjection to the laws of physics and
chemistry and involved in the processes of the conservation and
transformation of physical energy, and consciousness the clearing-house
for the whole.

_Cannon's Study of Emotional Reactions Upon Physical States_

This interplay of body and mind has of late been made the subject of
careful and long continued experimentation with a special reference to
the reactions of strong emotion upon bodily states, particularly as
registered in chemical changes. These experiments have been carried on
with an almost incredible patience and attention to detail under the
most difficult circumstances, and their conclusions seem final.
Professor Walter B. Cannon of Harvard University has recently put the
result of such investigation at our service in a most interesting
way.[9] (It ought to be said, however, that a similar series of
experiments repeated at the laboratories of the University of Chicago
failed to produce the same results.)

[Footnote 9: "Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear and Rage," quoted
without page references.]

Strong emotion affects almost every physical region, modifies almost
every physical function. The normal secretion of digestive fluids is
greatly increased by hunger (though here, of course, hunger itself may
have a physical basis) and also by what the investigator calls sham
feeding--food, that is, taken by an animal and so deflected as not to
pass into the digestive tract at all stimulates the gastric flow quite
as much as if it were actually received into the stomach. On the other
hand unhappy emotional disturbance greatly retards the digestive
processes. Pain, for example, results in pronounced inhibitions of the
secretion of gastric juice while happy emotional states produce
naturally the opposite effect. Pain is often accompanied by nausea,
indeed the nausea of a sick headache may be only secondary, induced by a
pain springing from quite another source than retarded digestion.

Professor Cannon's experiments are most interesting as he traces the
variations of the flow of adrenal secretion induced by emotion and then
retraces the effect of the chemical changes so produced upon bodily and
mental states. The secretion of adrenin[10] is greatly increased by pain
or excitement. The percentage of blood sugar is also greatly increased
by the same causes. The heaviness of fatigue is due, as we know, to
poisonous uneliminated by-products resulting from long continued or
over-taxing exertion of any sort. Under the influence of fatigue the
power of the muscles to respond to any kind of stimulus is greatly
reduced. (It is interesting to note, however, that muscular fibre
detached from the living organism and mechanically stretched and relaxed
shows after a period the same decrease in contractability under
stimulation.) On the other hand any increase in adrenal secretion
results in renewed sensitiveness to stimulation, that is by an increased
power of the muscle to respond. Falling blood pressures diminish
proportionately the power of muscular response. Rising blood pressure is
effective "in largely restoring in fatigued structures their normal
irritability" and an increase of adrenin seems to raise blood pressure
by driving the blood from the interior regions of the body "into the
skeleton muscles which have to meet, by extra action, the urgent demands
of struggle or escape."

[Footnote 10: I follow Cannon in the form of this word.]

Adrenin is of real use in counteracting the effects of fatigue or in
enabling the body to respond to some unusual call for effort. The
coagulation of the blood is also affected by the same agent, that is, it
coagulates very much more rapidly.[11] Coagulation is also hastened by
heightened emotion; a wound does not bleed so freely when the wounded
one is angry or excited. A soldier, then, in the stress of combat is not
only rendered insensible to fatigue and capable of abnormal activity,
but his wounds are really not so dangerous as they would otherwise be.
There are here suggestions of elemental conditions having to do with
struggle and survival, conditions which play their very great part in
the contests of life.

[Footnote 11: Cannon thinks, however, that this effect is produced

Emotions set free, as has been said, larger percentages of sugar which
are immediately utilized by the muscles in heightened or fatiguing
effort. All these experiments point very clearly to reservoirs of power,
both physical and mental, upon which we may draw in times of stress and
under emotional excitement.[12] Such emotionally induced chemical
actions and reactions as have been indicated release these stored
energies, render us for the time being unconscious of fatigue and even
guard us against the too rapid exhaustion of vital power. Whatever
heightens emotion, therefore, modifies the very chemical structure of
the body.

[Footnote 12: Excessive emotional reactions upon bodily states may
explain, as Cannon suggests, the more obscure phenomena of religious
frenzy such as the ceremonial dances of savages, the "Danse Macabre" of
the Middle Ages, the feats of the whirling dervishes, the jumping and
shouting of revivalism; also, maybe, the modern jazz.]

_The Two Doors_

There are other changes as well. The breath is quickened, the lungs are
expanded, waste products are very much more rapidly eliminated and so in
answer to summoning states of the soul the body as a whole readjusts
itself in marvellous subtle forms, mobilizing all its forces for the
contests which the emotion anticipates, or indeed which the emotion
itself calls out. And if all this seems unduly technical it is only to
bear out with something like a scientific accuracy the statements made a
little earlier that two orders meet and merge within us and that the
reactions of our loves, our fears, or our longings upon our bodily
processes may be stated in terms of the test tube and the chemist's

Such changes as are thus registered react in turn upon mental
attitudes. Fatigue produces mental depression. An accumulation of
uneliminated waste darkens all our horizons; irritability of mind and
soul attend physical irritability; any unhappy modification in the
balance of the physical registers automatically an equally unhappy
modification in the balance of the psychic. Most of us, as we come to
know ourselves better, recognize marked alterations even in spiritual
states which we are taught to refer to physical condition, but just as
truly altered spiritual conditions produce altered physical states.
There is an endless give and take and there are, therefore, two doors of
approach to our pains, wearinesses and sicknesses.

_The Challenge of Hypnotism_

Medicine, surgery and hygiene as at present organized largely approach
personal well-being from the physical side. They have for their support
a body of fact and a record of accomplishment which cannot be put out of
court without sheer intellectual stultification. Modern medicine has
been so massively successful in dealing with disease on the basis of a
philosophy which makes everything, or nearly everything, of the body and
nothing or next to nothing of the mind, that medicine was in danger of
becoming more sheerly materialistic than almost any other of our
sciences; Physics and Chemistry had their backgrounds in which they
recognized the interplay of realities too great for their formulæ and
forces too subtle for their most sensitive instruments. But medicine was
almost in the way of forgetting all this when it was compelled--and
that for its own good--to take account of an entirely different set of

This was, to begin with, as far as the modern scientific approach is
concerned, first made clearly apparent in Hypnotism. Hypnotism seems to
be such a modification of normal mental conditions under the power of
commanding suggestion as really for the time being to focus
consciousness and mental action generally in one suggested line. A new
set of inhibitions and permissions are thus imposed upon normal
consciousness. Attention is withdrawn from the usual frontiers (if one
may use the word) to which, consciously or subconsciously, it has always
been directed and centered upon one single thing.[13]

[Footnote 13: Sidis defines Hypnosis as the disassociation of the
superior and inferior nerve centers. They commonly work in perfect
harmony, their blended unity forming one conscious personality. "In
hypnosis the two systems or nervous centers are disassociated, the
superior centers and the upper consciousness are inhibited or better cut
off, split off from the rest of the nervous system with its organic
consciousness, which is thus laid bare, open to the influence of
external stimuli or suggestions.... In hypnotic trance ... we have
direct access to man's organic consciousness and through it to organic
life itself."... If we broaden this last sentence to include not only
organic consciousness but the deeper strata of personality in which not
only individual but perhaps racial experience is bedded, we have the key
to a vast range of obscure phenomena. Sidis believes that "strong
permanent impressions or suggestions made on the reflex organic
consciousness of the inferior centers may modify their functional
disposition, induce trophic changes, and even change organic structure"
and this in a sentence is probably what lies behind all faith and mental
healing.--"The Psychology of Suggestion," pp. 69 and 70.]

The hypnotized person becomes, therefore, unconscious of any reporting
agencies outside the field of his abnormally focused attention. Normal
conditions of pain or pleasure cease for the time to become real.
Attention has been forced entirely out of normal channels and given a
new direction. Then we discover, strangely enough, that though those
messages of the afferent nerves cease to have any effect upon the
subject, the imaginings of the subject carried back along outgoing lines
produce the most unexpected results in physical states. If a postage
stamp be placed upon the hand of the hypnotized subject and he be told
that the stamp is a mustard plaster, the stamp reddens the skin and
presently raises a blister. In other words, heightened and intensified
expectant attention is able to produce the same results as an irritating

[Footnote 14: Experiments by Krafft-Ebing and Forel. To be taken with
caution. See Jacoby, "Suggestion and Psycho-Therapy," p. 153.]

_Changed Attention Affects Physical States_

We are concerned here chiefly with the fact and it is a fact capable of
far-reaching application. Of course the nature and extent of the changes
thus produced are the battlegrounds of the two schools. Medical Science
is quite willing to admit that while functional action may thus be
modified no real organic changes can be produced. There is a border-land
so much still in shadow that no final word can be said about the whole
matter, but it is incontestably true that modifications of attention
have a reflex in the modification of physical states.

A pain which is not registered does not, for the time being at least,
exist, and if the attention can either through hypnotism or by a
persistent mental discipline be withdrawn from disturbing physical
reports, then the conditions which produce them will at least be left to
correct themselves without interference from consciousness and since the
whole tendency of disturbed physical organism is to correct itself, the
whole process probably goes on more quickly as it certainly goes on with
less discomfort if attention is withdrawn.[15] The assumption of health
is a tremendous health-giving force and if the condition to be remedied
is really due to a mental complex which needs only some strong exertion
of the will or readjustment of attitude to change, then marvellous
results may follow changed mental and spiritual states. The apparently
dumb may speak, the apparently paralyzed rise from their beds, the
shell-shocked pull themselves together and those under the bondage of
their fears and their pains be set free. There are so many illustrations
of all this that the fact itself is not in debate.

[Footnote 15: Organic changes (the storm center of the controversy) may
possibly be induced through a better general physical tone. Such changes
would not be directly due to suggestion but to processes released by
suggestion. Organic change may certainly be checked and the effect of it
overcome by increased resistance. So much conservative physicians admit.
How far reconstruction thus induced may go is a question for the

_The Power of Faith to Change Mental Attitudes_

Now since mental attitudes so react upon bodily states, whatever
strongly controls mental attitudes becomes a very great factor in
mental healing. There is a long line of testimony that what may be
called the complex of faith does just this with unique power, for faith
implies supernatural intervention. If there be anywhere an
all-prevailing power whose word is law and we could really be persuaded
that such a power had really intervened--even if it actually had not--on
our behalf and brought its supernatural resource to bear upon our
troubled case, then we should have a confidence more potent in the
immediate transformation of mental attitudes than anything else we could
possibly conceive. If we really believed such a power were ready to help
us, if we as vividly expected its immediate help, then we might
anticipate the utmost possible therapeutic reaction of mind upon body. A
faith so called into action should produce arresting results, and this
as a matter of investigation is true.

In following through the theories of faith healing we may take here
either of two lines. The devout may assert a direct divine
interposition. God is. He has the power and the will; all things are
plastic to His touch; He asks only faith and, given faith enough, the
thing is done and there is no explaining it. Those who believe this are
not inclined to reason about it; in fact it is beyond reason save as
reason posits a God who is equal to such a process and an order in which
such results can be secured. This is rather an achievement of faith than
reason but the Christian Church generally has held such a faith--a faith
sustained by the testimony which favours it and unaffected by the
testimony which challenges it. The scientific temper which seeks
economy in all its explanations and asks only for a cause sufficient for
the effect and which is, moreover, constantly trying to relate the
unknown to the known, takes another line and finds in faith healing just
one more illustration of the power of mind over body. This does not
exclude God but it discovers Him in resident forces and finds in law the
revelation of His method. The conclusions, then, to which we are
generally coming may not only be reconciled with a devout faith, they
may, when followed through, enrich faith; but they do subdue the whole
great matter to a sequence of cause and effect and they are gradually
finding a satisfactory explanation for what has heretofore been deeply
involved in mystery.

Just as Hypnotism, through the very dramatic abnormality of it, in
altering the sensitiveness of those physical tracts from which attention
is withdrawn or in producing physical effects through suggestive
focusing, has helped us to understand the part which attention plays in
the flux of physical states, so our later studies of the subconscious
help us here. We do know that a great deal may really take place in
personality of which consciousness takes no account. Consciousness in
its most active phases is alert, purposeful and preoccupied with the
immediate concern of the moment. Consciousness heeds commands and takes
account of such conditions as strongly assert themselves, but does not
in its full drive take much account of suggestion unless the suggestion
possesses unusual force. Suggestions usually need leisurely turning over
in the mind and the mind commonly refers them--often without knowing
it--to those regions of mental action which lie beneath the threshold of
strongly focused consciousness.

But suggestion does not thereby cease to work. It starts processes all
its own which go on till they are worked through. After a longer or
shorter period of incubation the outcome of suggestion is lifted into
the light of consciousness, often to produce results all the more
striking because we cannot explain them to ourselves or any one else.
All this does not withdraw such phenomena from the realm of law; it only
clothes them with the mystery of the unknown and extends the fields in
which they may operate. Proper suggestion let fall into these unknown
depths or improper suggestion as well, becomes an incalculable force in
shaping the ends of life. We have here, then, well attested truths or
laws--it is difficult to know what to call them--which help us to
understand the bases of faith healing or mental healing by suggestion.
Now directly we turn to such records as remain to us we find that such
forces as these have been in action from the very beginning. All disease
was in early times referred generally to spirit possession. If only the
evil spirit could be exorcised the patient would get well and the priest
was, of course, the proper person to undertake this. Religion and
medicine were, therefore, most intimately united to begin with and
healing most intimately associated with magic. The first priests were
doctors and the first doctors were priests and what they did as priests
and what they did as doctors were alike unreasonable and capricious.
The priest and his church have very unwillingly surrendered the very
great hold over the faithful which this early association of medicine
and religion made possible. Any order or institution which can approach
or control humanity through the longing of the sick for health, has an
immense and unfailing empire.

_Demon Possession the Earliest Explanation of Disease_

There are, says Cutten, three fairly well defined periods in the history
of Medicine. The first, beginning as far back as anything human begins
and coming down to the end of the second century; the second, ending
with the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries; and the third from perhaps
the sixteenth century on. The second period, he adds, was by far the
most sterile and stationary of the three "largely due to the prohibitive
attitude of the Church. The science of Medicine, then, is almost wholly
the result of the investigations and study of the last period. This
means that medicine is one of the youngest of the sciences, while from
the very nature of the case it is one of the oldest of the arts."

Demon possession was, as has been said, the earliest explanation of
disease. This would naturally be true of a time almost wholly wanting in
any conception either of law or any relation of cause and effect beyond
the most limited regions of experience. Since the only cause of which
man had any real knowledge was his own effort he peopled his world with
forces more or less like himself, except that they were invisible, who
operated practically the whole of natural phenomena. There was a spirit
for every place and every happening; spirits for fields and hearths,
thresholds and springs. Some of them were friendly, some of them
naturally unfriendly, but they were everywhere in existence, everywhere
in action and naturally if they were unfriendly they would from time to
time and in various most curious ways get into the body itself and there
do any amount of mischief.

The priest-doctor's task, therefore, was to get them out. He might scare
them out, or scold them out, or pray them out, or trick them out. He
would use his medicine as much to make the place of their temporary
abode uncomfortable for the demon as remedial for the patient and,
indeed, the curious and loathsome things which have been used for
medicines might well disgust even a malevolent demon. One thing stands
out very clearly and that is that whatever the medicine did or left
undone, it worked through its influence upon the mind of the patient and
not through any real medicinal value.

_The Beginnings of Scientific Medicine_

Of course along with all this would go a kind of esoteric wisdom which
was part of the stock in trade of the healer. There were charms,
incantations and magic of every conceivable sort. The medicine man of
uncivilized or even half-civilized peoples really makes medicine for the
mind rather than the body. There were, however, gleams of scientific
light through all this murky region. The Egyptians knew something of
anatomy though they made a most capricious use of it and there must have
been some knowledge of hygienic methods; the prohibitions of Leviticus,
for example, and of the Jewish law generally for which the Jew must have
been, as far as medical science is concerned, somewhat in debt to the
Egyptian and the Chaldean, really have sound hygienic reasons behind
them. The Greeks began with demons but they ended with something which
approached true science.

The real contribution of Greece, however, seems to have been on the
positive rather than the negative side. They made much of health as an
end in itself, had gods and goddesses of physical well-being. The Greek
had constantly held before him such an ideal of physical excellence as
had never before been approached and has never since been equalled. He
seems to have been abstemious in eating; he practiced the most strenuous
physical exercises; he lived a wholesome outdoor life, and so created a
civilization in which health very largely took care of itself. An
examination of what records remain to us hardly sustains the accepted
opinion that the Greeks had made substantial advances along purely
scientific lines,[16] but at any rate as far as medicine goes, there is
little to choose between the Greece of the fourth century before Christ
and the Europe of the sixteenth century after, save that the life of the
Greek was far more normal, temperate and hygienic and the mind of the
Greek more open, sane and balanced.

[Footnote 16: Probably too strong a statement. For an opposite view
strongly supported by a scholar's research see Singer's article in "The
Legacy of Greece" (Oxford Press), p. 201.]

Plato anticipated conclusions which we are just beginning to reach when
he said, "the office of the physician extends equally to the
purification of mind and body. To neglect the one is to expose the other
to evident peril. It is not only the body which, by sound constitution,
strengthens the soul, but the well regulated soul, by its authoritative
power, maintains the body in perfect health." Whether the best classic
civilization made, consciously, its own this very noble insight of
Plato, the best classic civilization did secure the sound mind and the
sound body to an extent which puts a far later and far more complex
civilization to shame. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Greek to
this whole great subject was his passion for bodily well-being and his
marvellous adaptation of his habits and type of life to that end.

He did, moreover, separate religion, magic and medicine to some
appreciable extent and he gave us at least the beginnings of a medical
profession, approaching medicine from the scientific rather than the
religious or traditional point of view. Even though his science was a
poor enough thing, his doctors were none the less doctors and the
medical profession to-day is entirely within its right when it goes back
to Hippocrates for the fathering of it.

_The Attitude of the Early and Medieval Church_

Christianity changed all this and on the whole for the worse. And yet
that statement ought to be immediately qualified, for Christianity did
bring with it a very great compassion for suffering, a very great
willingness to help the sick and the needy. The Gospels are inextricably
interwoven with accounts of the healing power of the founder of
Christianity. All the later attitude of Christianity toward disease must
be considered in the light of this fact. We owe to Christianity the
first real hospitals, the first really compassionate and unselfish care
for the sick and impulses which, as they have finally worked out, have
had more to do with giving quality and direction to medicine and
particularly in investing the whole practice of medicine with its true
atmosphere than any other single force.

And yet all this has been a long, long time coming true and for almost
1,500 years the Church and its authorities were a hindrance rather than
a help and that for two or three outstanding reasons. Christianity, to
begin with, sadly underestimated physical values in its overinsistence
upon spiritual values. The body was at best but the tabernacle of the
soul and the soul being the chief concern, whatever happened to the body
was of little importance. The body was not only underestimated, it was
scorned and abused, starved and scourged; it was the seat of unholy
influences and impulses; its natural longings were at the best under
suspicion, at the worst under absolute condemnation. Christianity,
speaking through the Church, took immense care for its spiritual
hygiene, though even here it went wrong because it forgot Plato's noble
word, but it failed utterly in physical hygiene.

Then again sickness and suffering were for the Church but the manifest
punishment of some sin known or concealed. To interfere, therefore, was
in some way to defeat the justice of God. Pestilences were inscrutable
providences; they were the wrath of God made manifest. In the face of so
stupendous a calamity anything man might do was not only futile but

By a strange contradiction early and medieval Christianity, while making
little of the body, nevertheless strongly opposed any study of anatomy
which depended upon post-mortems or dissection. This probably because of
their belief in the resurrection of the body. Any mutilation of the body
after death would be a real handicap in the day of resurrection. But
behind all this, equally real though intangible, was the desire of the
Church to have the whole of life under its own direct control. It
instinctively feared methods of thought or processes of investigation
not directly a part of its own imperial administration of life. Some
subtle distrust of the human reason went along with all this. As a
result the Church, in the main, threw herself against the more
independent processes of scientific thought, sought to subdue all the
facts of life to her creeds and understandings and so became a real
hindrance to any pursuit of truth or any investigation of fact which lay
outside the region of theological control. How largely all this retarded
growth and knowledge and the extension of human well-being it is
difficult to say, but the fact itself is well established.

_Saints and Shrines_

For one thing early Christianity continued the belief in demoniac
possession. By one of those accidents which greatly influence history
the belief in demon possession was strongly held in Palestine in the
time of Christ and the Gospel narratives reflect all this in ways upon
which it is not necessary to enlarge. The Gospels themselves lent their
mighty sanction to this persuasion and there was nothing in the temper
of the Church for more than a thousand years afterward to greatly modify
it. Indeed the temper of the Church rather strengthened it. Origen
believed that demons produce famine, unfruitfulness, corruptions of the
air and pestilences. They hover concealed in clouds in the lower
atmosphere and are attracted by the blood and incense which the heathen
offered them as gods.

According to St. Augustine all diseases of Christians are to be ascribed
to these demons and the church fathers generally agreed with these two,
the greatest of them all. It was, therefore, sinful to do anything but
trust to the intercession of the saints. The objection of the Church to
dissection which is, of course, the indispensable basis for any real
knowledge of anatomy was very slowly worn down. The story of Andreas
Vesalius whom Andrew White calls the founder of the modern science of
anatomy is at once fascinating and illuminating. He pursued his studies
under incredible difficulties and perhaps could never have carried them
through without the protection of Charles V whose physician he was. He
was finally driven out, a wanderer in quest of truth, was shipwrecked
on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and in the prime of his life and
strength "he was lost to the world." But he had, none the less, won his
fight and the opposition of the Church to the scientific study of
anatomy was gradually withdrawn. But every marked advance in medical
science had really to fight the battle over again. The Sorbonne
condemned inoculation, vaccination had slowly to fight its way and even
the discovery of anesthetic, perhaps the greatest single blessing ever
given surgery, met with no little theological obstruction. It is only
fair to say in this connection that so stupid a conservatism has been by
no means the sole possession of the Church and the clergy. Medicine has
been upon occasion almost as conservative and the difficulties which Sir
Joseph Lister encountered in his endeavour to win the London hospitals
for asepsis and anti-sepsis were quite as bitter. The difficulties were
of a piece with the opposition of the Church to scientific advancement.
After all a conservatism of this sort is a matter of temperament rather
than creed or class.

But if the Church was strangely slow to give place to medicine and
surgery, the Church sought, through agencies and methods of its own, to
cure disease. It is impossible to follow through in detail the long
story though it all bears upon the line we are following through its
massive testimony to the power of mind over body. Since the Church
believed in demon possession it sought to cure by exorcism and there are
in the ritual of the Church, as the ritual has finally taken form,
offices growing out of this long, long battle against evil spirits which
have now little suggestion of their original purpose. The sign of the
Cross was supposed to have commanding power, the invocation of the
triune deity had its own virtue, the very breathing of the priest was
supposed to influence the evil spirit and he fled defeated from the
touch of holy water.

The Church possessed, as was everywhere then believed, not only a
prevailing power over demons, but a supernatural power all her own for
the healing of disease. This power was associated with saints and relics
and shrines. During the lifetime of the saint this power was exercised
through direct saintly interposition. After the death of the saint it
was continued in some relic which he left behind him, or some shrine
with which he had been particularly associated. There grew up gradually
a kind of "division of labour among the saints in the Middle Ages." Each
saint had its own peculiar power over some bodily region or over some
particular disease. And so the faithful were guarded by a legion of
protecting influences against everything from coughs to sudden death.
There is almost an unimaginable range of relics. Parts of the true Cross
possessed supreme value. St. Louis of France was brought back almost
from death to life by the touch of the sacred wood. The bones and hairs
of saints, rings which they had worn and all such things as these had
value and to prove that the value was not resident in the relic but in
the faith with which the relic was approached we have reported bones of
saints possessing well authenticated healing value, later proved to have
been the bones not of men but of animals. There have been sacred springs
and consecrated waters almost without number. They will still show you
in Canterbury Cathedral stones worn by the feet of countless pilgrims
seeking at the shrine of Thomas à Becket a healing to the reality of
which those who wore away those stones bore testimony in a variety of
gifts which made the shrine of à Becket at one time one of the treasure
houses of Christendom.

"The two shrines at present best known are those of Lourdes in France
and Ste. Anne de Beaupré in the Province of Quebec. Lourdes owes its
reputed healing power to a belief in a vision of the Virgin received
there during the last century. Over 300,000 persons visit there each
year." Charcot, it is worth noting, had confidence enough not in the
shrine but in the healing power of faith to send fifty or sixty patients
to Lourdes every year. His patients were, of course, the mentally and
nervously unbalanced. The French government supervises the sanitary
conditions at Lourdes and a committee of doctors have undertaken some
examination of the diseased who visit the shrine for the guidance of
their profession. Ste. Anne de Beaupré owes its fame to certain wrist
bones of the mother of Christ.

_Magic, Charms, and the King's Touch: The Rise of the Faith Healer_

Religious faith is not always necessary--any faith will do. Charms,
amulets, talismans have all played their part in this long compelling
story. The various metals, gems, stones and curious and capricious
combinations of pretty much every imaginable thing have all been so
used. Birth girdles worn by women in childbirth eased their pain. A
circular piece of copper guarded against cholera. A coral was a good
guard against the evil eye and sail-cloth from a shipwrecked vessel tied
to the right arm was a preventive as well as a cure for epilepsy. There
is almost no end to such instances. The list of charms and incantations
is quite as curious. There are forms of words which will cure insomnia
and indeed, if one may trust current observation, forms of words not
primarily so intended may still induce sleepfulness.

The history of the king's touch as particularly helpful in epilepsy and
scrofula, though useful also for the healing of various diseases, is
especially interesting. This practice apparently began with Edward the
Confessor in England and St. Louis in France and was due to the faith of
those who came to be touched and healed in the divine right and lonely
power of the king. It is significant that the practice began with these
two for they, more than any kings of their time or most kings since,
were really men of rare and saintly character. Curiously but naturally
enough the English have denied any real power in this region to French
kings and the French have claimed a monopoly for their own sovereigns.
The belief in the king's touch persisted long and seems toward the end
to have had no connection with the character of the monarch, for
Charles II did more in this line than any one who ever sat on an English
throne. During the whole of his reign he touched upward of 100,000
people. Andrew White adds that "it is instructive to note, however, that
while in no other reign were so many people touched for scrofula and so
many cures vouched for, in no other reign did so many people die of the

Along with the king's touch went the king's gift--a piece of gold--and
the drain upon the royal treasury was so considerable that after the
reign of Elizabeth the size of the coin was reduced. Special coins were
minted for the king's use in that office and these touching pieces are
still in existence. William III refused to take this particular power
seriously. "God give you better health and more sense," he said as he
once touched a patient. In this particular instance the honest
skepticism of the king was outweighed by the faith of the suppliant. We
are assured that the person was cured. The royal touch was discontinued
after the death of Queen Anne.

The list of healers began early and is by no means ended now. The power
of the healer was sometimes associated with his official station in the
Church, sometimes due to his saintly character and often enough only to
a personal influence, the fact of which is well enough established,
though there can be in the nature of things no finality in the estimate
of his real efficacy. George Fox performed some cures; John Wesley also.
In the seventeenth century one Valentine Greatrakes seems to have been
the center of such excitements and reported healings as Alexander Dowie
and others in our own time and it is finally through the healer rather
than the saint or the king or shrine or relic that we approach the
renaissance of mental and faith healing in our own time.



There is, however, another stage in this long line of development which
needs to be considered since it supplies a double point of departure;
once for the most outstanding healing cult in our time--Christian
Science--and once for the greatly enlarged use of suggestion in modern
medical practice, and that is mesmerism and "animal magnetism."

_Mesmerism a Point of Departure for Modern Healing Cults_

Paracelsus[17] may be taken as a starting point just here. He is known
in the history of medicine "for the impetus he gave to the development
of pharmaceutical chemistry, but he was also the author of a visionary
and theosophic system of philosophy." He believed in the influence of
the stars upon men, but he enlarged upon the old astrologic faiths. "He
believed the human body was endowed with a double magnetism, one portion
attracted to itself the planets and was nourished by them, the result of
which was the mental powers, the other portion attracted and
disintegrated the elements, from which process resulted the body." His
world, therefore, was a world of competitive attractions. He believed
the well had an influence over the sick through magnetism and used the
magnet in his practice.

[Footnote 17: A German-Swiss physician and alchemist, b. 1493, d. 1541.
These quotations, partly from authorities on faith healing and partly
from the history of Spiritualism, illustrate the underground connection
in this whole region.]

"This dual theory of magnetic cures, that of the magnetic influence of
men on men and of the magnet on man, was prevalent for over a century."
"It is, then, upon these ideas--the radiation from all things, but
especially the stars, magnets and human bodies, of a force which would
act in all things else, and which was in each case directed by the
indwelling spirit, together with the conception of a perpetual contact
between reciprocal and opposing forces--that the mysticism of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries mainly depends."[18]

[Footnote 18: Podmore, "Modern Spiritualism," Vol. I, p. 45. I am in
debt also to Cutten for general information and some quoted paragraphs.]

These ideas were adopted by a group of men who are now only names for
us. The phenomena of magnetism fascinated them and supplied them
analogies. There is, they thought, an all-prevailing magnetic influence
which binds together not only celestial and terrestrial bodies, but all
living things. Life and death were for them simply the registry of the
ebbing and flowing of these immaterial tides and they ended by
conceiving a vital fluid which could be communicated from person to
person and in the communication of which the sick could be healed--the
driftwood of their lore has come down to us on the tides of time; we
still speak of magnetic personalities--and they sought in various ways
to control and communicate these mysterious forces.

One of them invented steel plates which he applied to the body as a cure
for disease. He taught his system to Mesmer who made, however, one
marked advance upon the technique of his predecessors and gave his name
to his methods; he produced his results through physical contacts and
passes. But he shared with his predecessors and stated with that compact
clearness of which the French language is so capable even when dealing
with obscure matters, that there is a "fluid so universally diffused and
connected as to leave nowhere any void, whose subtlety is beyond any
comparison and which by its nature is capable of receiving, propagating
and communicating all impressions of movement.... This reciprocal action
is subject to mechanical laws at present unknown."[19] This fluid in its
action governs the earth and stars and human action.

[Footnote 19: Price's "Historique de facts relatifs du Magnétisme
Animal," quoted by Podmore.]

He originated the phrase "Animal Magnetism" and was, though he did not
know it, the originator of hypnotism; until well within our own time
mesmerism was the accepted name for this whole complex group of
phenomena. The medical faculties examined his claims but were not
willing to approve them, but this made no difference in Mesmer's
popularity. He had so great a following as to be unable to deal with
them personally. He deputed his powers to assistants, arranged a most
elaborate apparatus and surrounded his whole procedure with a dramatic
setting of stained glass, mirrored and scented rooms and mysterious
music. The result of it all naturally, as far as his patients were
concerned, was marked excitements and hysterias. They had often to be
put into padded rooms. And yet the result of all this murky confusion
was said to be numbers of marked cures. He was investigated by the
French government and two commissions presented their reports, neither
of which was favourable. Imagination, not magnetism, they said,
accounted for the results. His popularity wore away markedly when he
undertook to explain his method and reveal his secrets. He left Paris in
1815 and lapsed into obscurity.

_The Scientific Investigation of Mesmerism in France_

As has been said, there are two lines of development growing out of
Mesmer and his methods. Ten years after Mesmer left Paris Alexandre
Bertrand pointed out that after the elimination of errors due to fraud
or mal-observation, the results which Mesmer and his associates had
produced were due not to animal magnetism, but to expectation induced by
suggestion and intensified by the peculiar setting which Mesmer had
contrived for his so-called treatments. The schools of medicine were
slow to follow out Bertrand's discovery and it was not until something
like twenty years later, through the studies of Braid, that hypnotism
began to be taken seriously.

But once the matter was brought broadly before them, the doctors began
to follow it through. Charcot, in the Salpêtriére, used hypnotic
suggestion for the correction of abnormal mental and nervous states. The
psychologists took up the matter and hypnotic suggestion has come to be
not only a legitimate subject for the investigation of the student and
an accepted method in correction of abnormal mental states, but as it
were a window through which we are beginning to see deeply into
unsuspected depths and intricacies of personality.

Modern faith healing cults, however, have not come to us down this line,
though the studies of Bertrand, Braid, Charcot, Du Bois and their
associates supply the interpretative principles for any real
understanding of them. Mesmerism naturally appealed to the type of mind
most easily attracted by the bizarre and the mysterious. There are
always amongst us the credulous and curious who find little enough
either to awe or inspire them in the broad sweep of law, or in such
facts as lie open to the light of reason. Such as these are impatient of
discipline, eager to free themselves from the sequence of cause and
effect; they are impressed by the occult powers and seek short cuts to
health, or goodness, or wisdom. They delight to build up, out of their
own inner consciousness, systems which have little contact with reality
and which, through their very tenuousness, are as incapable of disproof
as through their disengagement from normal experience they are capable
of verification. They are the people of what the alienist calls the
"idée fixe." Everything for them centers about one idea; they have one
key and one only to the marvellous complexity of life. Such a temper as
this naturally disassociates them from reality and makes them
contemptuous of contradictory experiences.

_Mesmerism is Carried to America; Phineas Quimby an Important Link in a
Long Chain_

America has been far too rich in such a temper as this and it was never
more so than in the forties and the fifties of the last century.
Mesmerism crossed the ocean and while Braid and later Bernheim and
Charcot were following it through on sound, psychological lines and
bringing to bear upon it great insight and scientific discipline, it
fell here into the hands of charlatans and adventurers. Phineas
Parkhurst Quimby, best known for his connection with Mary Baker Eddy,
hardly deserves the name of charlatan, though he was dangerously near
being just that. He belonged to the border-land regions in thought and
propaganda and he did give to the whole complex movement which we have
been considering a direction which has played a relatively great part in
its later development. He had a shrewd mind which ranged over wide
regions; he is a pretty typical example of the half-disciplined,
forceful and original personality which has played so large a part in
American life. The New England of his time--Quimby was born in New
Hampshire and spent his life in Maine--was giving itself whole-heartedly
to a mysticism bounded on the one side (its higher and more
representative side) by Emerson and the transcendentalists and on the
other by healers, prophets of strange creeds and dreamers of Utopias.
Phrenology, mind reading, animal magnetism, clairvoyance, all had their

Quimby belongs to this succession. His education was meagre, he did not
even know how to spell according to the dictionary or punctuate
according to the grammar.[20] He had his own peculiar use of words--a
use by which Mary Baker Eddy was doubtless greatly influenced. He had
marked mechanical ability and a real passion for facts. He was an
original thinker, little in debt to books for his ideas though he was
undoubtedly influenced by the temper of his environment to which
reference has already been made. He had a speculative, but not a trained
interest in religion and dealt freely with the orthodoxy of his time
constrained by no loyalty to the accepted faith and no critical
knowledge of its content. "Truth" and "Science" were characteristic
words for him and he shared his speculations and conclusions freely with
his disciples.

[Footnote 20: What is here said of Quimby is condensed from Dresser's
"The Quimby Manuscripts."]

_Quimby is Led to Define Sickness as Wrong Belief_

In his early thirties he was supposed to be dying of consumption and
suffered much from excessive medication. He recovered through an
emotional crisis but does not seem to have followed out the possible
suggestion of his recovery. He turned instead to mesmerism and travelled
about with one Lucius Burkmer over whom he had strong hypnotic
influence. When hypnotized Burkmer (or Burkman) claimed the power to
look as through a window into the bodies of Quimby's patients and
discover, often with illuminating detail, their condition; a good many
reputed cures followed. The testimonials to these cures and to the
strange powers of Burkmer are themselves an arresting testimony to the
lengths people go in the face of what they do not understand. "I have
good reason to believe that he can discern the internal structure of an
animal body and if there be anything morbid or defective therein detect
and explain it.... He can go from point to point without passing through
intermediate space. He passes from Belfast [Maine] to Washington or from
the earth to the moon ... swifter than light, by a single act of

[Footnote 21: "The Quimby Manuscripts," p. 38.]

Quimby had too alert an intelligence to rest content with the merely
occult. He came to believe that Burkmer only saw what the patient
thought, could do no more than describe the patient's idea of his own
state, or else report the "common allopathic belief about the disease in
question," and the cure, he was persuaded, was not in the medicine
prescribed but in "the confidence of the doctor or medium." (Note that
Quimby here associates the cures produced by the medical faculty and his
own cures in one sweeping generalization.) What he was really dealing
with then was "belief." It might be the belief of the doctor or the
patient or the belief of his friends--but sickness was only "belief."
This also was a sweeping generalization but it becomes intelligible as
we follow the process by which Quimby reached his conclusions and it
helps us to understand the significance of Belief as one of the key
words of Christian Science. Quimby was led to identify sickness and
wrong beliefs through this analysis of mesmeric diagnosis and health and
right belief through his own experiences as a healer. He had no training
to help him to an understanding of the real facts which lay behind the
belief in sickness. He became a skillful diagnostician of states of mind
and a healer of such diseases as could be so treated. But he knew,
scientifically, no more of what lay behind it all than a ploughman may
know of what lies beneath the furrows he turns.

_Quimby Develops His Theories_

Mrs. Eddy took over the catch-words of his system and its loose
assumptions, and a reasonably careful comparison of the Quimby
manuscripts and "Science and Health" shows not only Mrs. Eddy's
fundamental and never honestly acknowledged and finally categorically
denied indebtedness to Quimby, but the confusion which Quimby's rather
striking and original philosophy suffered at her hands. Beginning with
his persuasion that health and sickness are phases of belief Quimby
discarded mesmerism altogether and addressed himself to the minds of his
patients. He had doubtless a keen intuitive knowledge of human nature
and its morbid fancies and he was dealing generally with neurotic
temperaments over which he exercised a strong and helpful power of
suggestion. His explanation of disease--that it is a wrong
belief--becomes grotesque enough when he comes down to detail. This, for
example, is his diagnosis of Bronchitis--"You listen or eat this belief
or wisdom [evidently that Bronchitis is real] as you would eat your
meals. It sets rather hard upon your stomach; this disturbs the error of
your body and a cloud appears in the sky.... The elements of the body of
your belief are shaken, earth is lit up by the fire of your error, the
heat rises, the heaven or mind grows dark ... the lightning of hot
flashes shoot to all parts of the solar system of your belief. At last
the winds or chills strike the earth or surface of the body, a cold
clammy sensation passes over you. This changes the heat into a sort of
watery substance which works its way into the channels and pores to the
head and stomach."[22]

[Footnote 22: "Quimby Manuscripts," p. 118.]

This is Quimby at his worst but beneath it is the germ of the method and
philosophy which have attained so luxurious a growth--the explaining,
that is, of disease in terms of wrong belief. Inevitably in the
elaboration of all this Quimby reached out to include religion and
theology and even created his own distinctive metaphysics. He
distinguished between the mind and spirit; he must of course discover in
personality a power superior to fluctuating mental attitudes. He called
his system a science since he was trying to reduce it to a system and
discover its laws. He found a parallel to what he was doing in the
narratives of healing in the Christian Gospels and claimed Christ as the
founder of his science.[23]

[Footnote 23: _Ibid._, p. 185.]

All belief opposed to his was "error"; "Truth" was naturally opposed to
error. He subordinates the testimony of the senses to the necessities of
his system; he defines God variously as Wisdom, as Truth, possibly as
Principle though his use of the word Principle is far more intelligible
than Mrs. Eddy's.[24] He increasingly identifies his system and the
teachings of Jesus and ends by calling it "Christian Science."[25]

[Footnote 24: "The Quimby Manuscripts," p. 309.]

[Footnote 25: _Ibid._, p. 388.]

In substance in the more than 400 closely printed pages of the Quimby
manuscripts as now edited we discover either the substance or the
suggestion of all that Mrs. Eddy later elaborated. Now all this,
confused as it is, brings us to the threshold of a distinct advance in
mental and faith healing.

_Mary Baker Eddy Comes Under Quimby's Influence_

Practically faith and mental healing had depended, till Quimby took it
up, upon persons or objects. The saint or the healer worked through
personal contact; the shrine must be visited, the relic be touched. Such
a system was naturally dependent upon accidents of person or place; it
would not be widely extended nor continued nor made the basis of
self-treatment. But if what lay behind the whole complex group of
phenomena could be systematized and given real power of popular appeal
through its association with religion it would possess a kind of
continuing independence, conditioned only by the willingness of people
to be persuaded of the truth of its philosophy or to answer to its
religious appeal. It would then become a mental and spiritual
discipline to be written into books and taught by the initiated. As far
as it could be associated with religion it would become the basis of a
cult and it would have an immense field.

All difficult or chronic or obscure illnesses would offer an opportunity
to its propagandists, and the necessary obscurities and irrationalities
of such a system would simply be, for the minds to which it would
naturally appeal, added elements of power. Any system which has sickness
for its field and credulity for its reinforcement and a specious show of
half truth for its philosophic form and religion to give its sanction
and authority is assured, to begin with, of a really great following.
Its very weaknesses will be its strength. It will work best as it is
neither clear nor simple--though it must make a show of being both. And
if, in addition, there is somewhere at the heart of it force and truth
enough to produce a certain number of cures it will go on. What it fails
to do will be forgotten or ignored in the face of what it really does

Now Quimby, through his own native force and such a combination of
circumstances as occurs only once in long periods of time, stood upon
the threshold of just such a revolution in the history of faith and
mental healing as this. He anticipated the method and supplied the
material, but he either did not or could not popularize it. He was not
selfish enough to monopolize it, not shrewd enough to commercialize it,
and, maybe, not fanatic enough to make it a cult. He was more interested
in his own speculations than in making converts and without one of those
accidents which become turning points in a movement nothing would have
probably come of his work save its somewhat vague and loose continuance
in the thought and teaching of a small group. (It is doubtful if New
Thought, which as we shall see grew out of his work through his
association with the Dressers, would have come to much without the
stimulus of Christian Science against which it reacted.) Some one was
needed to give the whole nebulous system organization and driving force
and above all to make a cult of it.

_Outstanding Events of Her Life: Her Early Girlhood_

Mary Baker Eddy did just this and Christian Science is the result. It is
idle to calculate the vanished alternatives of life but in all
probability she never would have done it without Quimby. She and her
followers would do far better to honestly recognize this indebtedness.
It would now make little difference with either the position of their
leader or the force of their system but it would take a pretty keen
weapon out of the hands of their critics and give them the added
strength which thoroughgoing honesty always gives to any cause. There
is, on the other hand, little likelihood that Quimby's persuasions would
ever have carried beyond the man himself if he had not found in Mrs.
Eddy so creative a disciple.

The outstanding facts of Mary Baker Eddy's life are too well known to
need much retelling here. The story of her life and the history of
Christian Science as told by Georgine Milmine in _McClure's Magazine_
during the years of 1907-8 is final. It is based upon thorough
investigation, original documents and an exhaustive analysis of facts.
The facts brought out in the various litigations in which Mrs. Eddy and
the church have been involved confirm both the statements and
conclusions of this really distinctive work. The official life by Sibyl
Wilbur (whose real name seems to be O'Brien) is so coloured as to be
substantially undependable. It touches lightly or omits altogether those
passages in Mrs. Eddy's life which do not fit in with the picture which
Mrs. Eddy herself and the church desire to be perpetuated.

Mrs. Eddy was descended from a shrewd, industrious and strongly
characterized New England stock. Her father was strongly set in his
ways, narrow and intense in his religious faith. Mary Baker was a
nervous, high-strung girl, unusually attractive in personal appearance,
proud, precocious, self-conscious, masterful. She was subject to
hysterical attacks which issued in states of almost suspended animation.
Her family feared these attacks and to prevent them humoured her in
every way. In due time she joined the Tilton Congregational Church. She
says herself that she was twelve years old at the time, but the records
of the church make her seventeen. The range of her education is debated.
Mrs. Eddy herself claims a rather ambitious curriculum. "My father," she
says, "was taught to believe that my brain was too large for my body and
so kept me out of school, but I gained book knowledge with far less
labour than is usually requisite. At ten years of age I was familiar
with Lindley Murray's Grammar, as with the Westminster Catechism and
the latter I had to repeat every Sunday. My favourite studies were
Natural Philosophy, logic and moral science. From my brother Albert I
received lessons in the ancient tongues, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. After
my discovery of Christian Science most of the knowledge I gleaned from
school books vanished like a dream. Learning was so illumined that
grammar was eclipsed. Etymology was divine history, voicing the idea of
God in man's origin and signification. Syntax was spiritual order and
unity. Prosody the song of angels and no earthly or inglorious

[Footnote 26: "Retrospection and Introspection," 1909.]

_Her Education: Shaping Influences_

It is not fair to apply critical methods to one who confesses that most
of the knowledge she had gleaned from school books vanished like a
dream, but there is much in Mrs. Eddy's writing to bear out her
statement. Those who knew her as a girl report her as irregular in
attendance upon school, inattentive during its sessions and far from
knowing either Greek or Latin or Hebrew. "According to these schoolmates
Mary Baker completed her education when she had finished Smith's Grammar
and reached Long Division in Arithmetic." The official biography makes
much of an intellectual friendship between the Rev. Enoch Corser, then
pastor of the Tilton Congregational Church, and Mary Baker. "They
discussed subjects too deep to be attractive to other members of the
family. Walking up and down in the garden, this fine old-school
clergyman and the young poetess as she was coming to be called, threshed
out the old philosophic speculations without rancour or irritation."[27]

[Footnote 27: "The Life of Mary Baker Eddy," Sibyl Wilbur, 4th edition.
Christian Science Publishing Company.]

There is little reason to doubt her real interest in the pretty rigid
Calvinistic theology of her time. Indeed, we could not understand her
final line of religious development without taking that into
consideration. Milmine suggests other forces which would naturally have
influenced a sensitive and curious girl; for example, the current
interest in animal magnetism, a subject which dominated certain aspects
of her thinking to the end. Milmine suggests also that she may have been
considerably influenced by the peculiar beliefs of the Shakers who had a
colony near Tilton. The Shakers regarded Ann Lee, their founder, as the
female principle of God and greater than Christ. They prayed always to
"Our Father and Mother which art in heaven." They called Ann Lee the
woman of the Apocalypse, the God-anointed woman. For her followers she
was Mother Ann, as Mary Baker was later Mother Eddy. Ann Lee declared
that she had the gift of healing. The Shakers also made much of a
spiritual illumination which had the right of way over the testimony of
the senses. The Shakers called their establishment the Church of Christ
and the original foundation the Mother Church. The Shakers forbade
audible prayer and enjoined celibacy. There are parallels enough here to
sustain Milmine's contention that Mary Baker was at least largely
influenced by suggestions from her peculiar group of neighbours.

_Her Unhappy Fortunes. She is Cured by Quimby. An Unacknowledged Debt_

Mary Baker married George Washington Glover at the age of twenty-two.
She was soon left a widow and her only son was born after his father's
death. The story of the years which follow is unhappy. She was poor,
dependent upon relatives whose patience she tried and whose hospitality
was from time to time exhausted. Her attacks of hysteria continued and
grew more violent. Her father sometimes rocked her to sleep like a
child. The Tiltons built a cradle for her which is one of the traditions
of this unhappy period of her life. She tried mesmerism and clairvoyance
and heard rappings at night.

She married again, this time a Dr. Daniel Patterson, a travelling
dentist. He never made a success of anything. They were miserably poor
and his marriage was no more successful than most of his other
enterprises. He was captured, though as a civilian, during the Civil War
and spent one or two years in a southern prison. Futile efforts were
made at a reconciliation and in 1873 Mrs. Patterson obtained a divorce
on the grounds of desertion. Meanwhile she had been separated from her
son, of whom she afterward saw so little that he grew up, married and
made his own way entirely apart from his mother.

In 1861 Mrs. Patterson's physical condition was so desperate that she
appealed to Quimby. Her husband had had some interest in homeopathy and
she was doubtless influenced by the then peculiar theories of the
homeopathic school. (Indeed she claimed to be a homeopathic practitioner
without a diploma.) She had had experience enough with drugs to make her
impatient and suspicious of current methods of orthodox medication.
Under Quimby's treatment she was physically reborn and apparently
spiritually as well. It is necessary to dwell upon all these well-known
details to understand what follows and the directions which her mind now
took. Milmine's analysis is here penetrating and conclusive. She had
always been in revolt against her environment. Her marriages had been
unhappy; motherhood had brought her nothing; she had been poor and
dependent; her strong will and self-assertive personality had been
turned back upon herself.

She had found no satisfaction in the rigid theologies of the time. She
had sought help from accepted religion and religion had had nothing to
give her. We have to read between the lines and especially to evaluate
all this period in the light of "Science and Health" itself to
reconstruct the movement of her inner life, but beyond a doubt her
thought had played about the almost tragic discrepancy between her own
experiences and the love and goodness of God. She had known pain and
unhappiness in acute forms and had found nothing in what she had been
taught ample enough to resolve her doubts or establish her faith.

She found in Quimby's philosophy a leading which she eagerly followed.
Now for the first time she is really set free from herself. A truer
sense of dramatic values would have led Mrs. Eddy herself to have made
more of the unhappy period which began to come to an end with her visit
to Quimby and would lead her disciples now to acknowledge it more
honestly. It is a strong background against which to set what follows
and give colour by contrast to her later life. The twice-born from Saul
of Tarsus to John Bunyan have dwelt much upon their sins and sorrows,
seeking thereby more greatly to exalt the grace of God by which they had
been saved. Mary Baker Eddy came strongly to be persuaded that she had
saved herself and consequently not only greatly underestimated her debt
to Quimby, but emptied her own experiences of dramatic contrasts to make
them, as she supposed, more consistent, and her disciples have followed

As a matter of fact, though her life as a whole is not an outstanding
asset for Christian Science and is likely to grow less so, one must
recognize the force of a conviction which changed the neurotic Mrs.
Patterson of the fifties and sixties into the masterful and successful
woman of the eighties and nineties. She belongs also to the fellowship
of the twice-born and instead of minimizing the change those who seek to
understand her, as well as those who seek to exalt her, would do well to
make more of it. She did that herself to begin with. No master ever had
for a time a more grateful disciple. She haunted Quimby's house, read
his manuscripts, wrote letters for the paper, "dropped into verse" and
through her extravagance "brought ridicule upon Quimby and herself."

Quimby died in 1866, accompanied to his last resting place by a tribute
in verse from his grateful pupil. Mrs. Eddy had at the time apparently
no thought of continuing his work except in a most modest way. She wrote
Julius Dresser who had come under Quimby's influence, suggesting that he
would step forward into the place vacated. "I believe you would do a
vast amount of good and are more capable of occupying his place than any
other I know of."[28] She asked Dresser's help in recovering from a fall
which she had just had on the ice and which had so injured her, as she
supposed, to make her the helpless cripple that she was before she met
Quimby. This fall is worth dwelling upon for a bit, for it really marks
a turning place in Mrs. Eddy's life. In her letter to Dresser she says
that the physician attending "said I have taken the last step I ever
should, but in two days I got out of my bed alone and will walk."[29]
Sometime later in a letter to the _Boston Post_ Mrs. Eddy said, "We
recovered in a moment of time from a severe accident considered fatal by
the regular physicians." There is a considerable difference between two
days and a moment of time and the expression of a determination to walk
in the Dresser letter and the testimony to an instantaneous cure in the
_Boston Post_ letter. Dr. Cushing, the physician who attended Mrs. Eddy
at the time, gives still a third account. He treated her, he says, over
a period of almost two weeks and left her practically recovered. He also
attended her in a professional capacity still later and offers all this
in a sworn statement on the basis of his record books. There is a very
considerable advantage in a philosophy which makes thought the only
reality, for, given changing thought and a complacent recollection,
facts may easily become either plastic or wholly negligible.

[Footnote 28: "A History of the New Thought Movement," Dresser, p. 110.]

[Footnote 29: _Ibid._]

_She Develops Quimby's Teachings Along Lines of Her Own_

The real significance of this much debated but otherwise unimportant
episode is that it seems to have thrown Mrs. Eddy upon her own
resources, for now that Quimby was dead she begins to develop what she
had received from him through both experience and teaching along lines
of her own. She had found a formula for the resolution of problems, both
physical and mental, which had hag-ridden her for years. She had a
natural mental keenness, a speculative mind, a practical shrewdness (the
gift of her New England ancestors) and an ample field. The theology, the
medical science and indeed the philosophy or psychology of the New
England of the sixties contributed strongly, through their limitations,
to the growth of bizarre systems which had in them elements of truth. We
shall need to come back to this again in any evaluation of Christian
Science as a whole, but we cannot understand the rapid development of
the movement of which Christian Science was just one aspect without
taking all this into consideration.

Medicine itself has been greatly revolutionized within the last fifty
years. While Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy was finding her unhappy
way through border-land regions into a cloudy light, Louis Pasteur,
sitting, in the phrase of Huxley, "as humbly as a little child before
the facts of life," was making those investigations in bacteriology
which were to be, in some ways, the greatest contribution of the
nineteenth century to the well-being of humanity. He was following
patiently the action of microscopic organisms, especially in their
relation to health, discovering the secret of contagion and infection,
outlining methods of defense against the attacks of these invisible
armies, finding the true basis for inoculation, extending its operation,
robbing hospitals of their terrors and surrounding surgery with
safeguards heretofore undreamt of, literally performing miracles (in his
control of swine plague and the like), and for the want of another
subject preparing to experiment upon himself for the prevention of
hydrophobia, and in doing it all in the most simple and humble way,
naively unconscious of his own fame and living from first to last in a
noble and comparative poverty which contrasts dramatically with the
material well-being for which Mrs. Eddy was so eager. Nothing of this
had ever come into Mrs. Eddy's field or those whom she addressed. With
all the aid which the modern physician has at his control, diagnosis is
still a difficult matter, physicians confess it themselves. There is
still, with all the resource of modern medical science, a residuum of
hopeless and obscure cases which baffle the physician. That residuum was
very much larger fifty years ago than it is now.

_She Begins to Teach and to Heal_

The typical Protestant religious experience, as we have seen, was not
great enough to contain all the facts of life. The molten passion of an
earlier Calvinism had hardened down into rigidities which exalted the
power of God at the cost of human helplessness. There was no adequate
recognition among the devout of the sweep of law. Everything that
happened was a special Providence and it was hard enough to fit the
trying facts of life into an understanding of Divine Love when there was
apparently so much in life in opposition to Divine Love.

A very great deal of the ferment of the time was just the endeavour to
find some way out of all this and the group of which Mrs. Eddy was a
part were really the first to try to find their way out except as roads
of escape which were, on the whole, not ample enough had been sought by
the theological liberalism of the time of which Unitarianism was the
most respectable and accepted form. There are, as has been said, curious
underground connections through all this region. We find homeopathy,
spiritualism, transcendentalism, theological liberalism and faith
healing all tied up in one bundle.

The line which Mrs. Eddy now came to follow is, on the whole, clear
enough. She becomes in her turn teacher and healer, giving her own
impress and colour to what she called the science she taught, claiming
it more and more as her own and not only forgetting, but denying as she
went on, her indebtedness to any one else. The whole thing gradually
became in her mind a distinct revelation for which the ages had been
waiting and this revelation theory is really the key to the
contradictions and positive dishonesties which underlie the authorized
account of the genesis of Christian Science. She associated herself with
one of the more promising of her pupils who announced himself as Dr.
Kennedy, with Mrs. Eddy somewhat in the background. Kennedy was the
agent, Mrs. Eddy supplied him with the material of what was a mixed
method of teaching and healing. She had always been desperately poor;
now for the first time she had a respectable bank account.

There were corresponding changes in her personality and even her
physique. She began to give lessons, safeguarding her instructions from
the very first in such ways as to make them uncommonly profitable. Her
pupils paid $100 for the course and agreed also to give her a percentage
of the income from their practice. In the course of litigation which
afterward follows, the courts pronounced that they did not find in her
course of instruction anything which could be "in any way of value in
fitting the defendant as a competent and successful practitioner of any
intelligible art or method of healing the sick." The court, therefore,
was of the opinion that "consideration for the agreement had wholly
failed." In a sense the court was mistaken. Mrs. Eddy was giving her
disciples something which, whether it fitted them to be competent and
successful practitioners of any intelligible art or method of healing
the sick, or no, was of great financial advantage both to them and to
their teacher. She afterward raised her tuition fee to $300 and stated
that God had shown her in multitudinous ways the wisdom of this

_Early Phases of Christian Science_

Everything was, to begin with, a matter of personal relationship between
Mrs. Eddy and her students. They constitute a closely related group, the
pupils themselves extravagant in their gratitude to their teacher. There
were, of course, schisms, jealousies, recriminations, litigation, but
none the less, the movement went on. The first attempt at organization
was made at Lynn in 1875. A hall was rented, meetings were held in the
evening, the society was known as the "Christian Scientists" and as an
organization Christian Science came into the world. The first edition of
"Science and Health" was also published in 1875. There was difficulty in
finding a publisher; those who assisted Mrs. Eddy financially were
losers in the enterprise. They were never reimbursed, though "Science
and Health" afterward became the most remunerative single publication in
the world. Two years later Mrs. Glover (for after her divorce from
Patterson she had taken her earlier married name) married Gilbert Eddy
and so took the name by which she is best known to the world.

There is much in this period of Mrs. Eddy's life to indicate that she
had not yet reached an inner serenity of faith. She was never able to
free herself from a perverted belief in animal magnetism or mesmerism
which showed itself in fear rather than faith. She believed herself
persecuted and if she did not believe in witchcraft she believed in
something curiously like it. Indeed, to Mrs. Eddy belonged the rather
curious distinction of having instigated the last trial for witchcraft
in the United States and with a fitting sense of historic propriety she
staged it at Salem. The judge dismissed the case, saying that it was not
within the power of the Court to control the defendant's mind. The case
was appealed, the appeal waived and the whole matter rests as a curious
instance in the records of the Salem court.

Mrs. Eddy does not appear as the plaintiff in the case. The complainant
is one of her students, but Mrs. Eddy was behind the complaint, the real
reason for which is apparently that the defendant had refused to pay
tuition and royalty on his practice and was interfering with the work of
the group of which Mrs. Eddy was leader. The incident has value only as
showing the lengths to which the mind may be led once it has detached
itself from the steadying influences of experience-tested reality. It is
interesting also to note that in one way and another Mrs. Eddy and her
church have been involved in more litigation than any other religious
teacher or religious movement of the time.

_She Writes "Science and Health" and Completes the Organization of Her

Nothing apparently came of the first tentative organization in 1875. The
first incorporated Church of Christ Scientist was chartered in 1879 with
twenty-six charter members and Boston as its seat. Meetings of this
church were held, to begin with, in Lynn and Boston, but Lynn was not
friendly to the new enterprise and the Boston group became the center of
further growth. Mrs. Eddy left Lynn finally in 1882 and during all the
next period the history of Christian Science is the history of the
Mother Church in Boston and of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College.
Mrs. Eddy suffered no dissent, her pupils either followed or left her.
She was the controlling force in the whole movement. She began to
surround herself with a certain mystery and delighted in theatrical
effects. She had written and rewritten "Science and Health" until it
began to take final form. The _Journal of Christian Science_ became the
official organ of Mrs. Eddy's movement as "Science and Health" was its

The movement reached beyond Boston and New England and invaded the West.
It was now so outstanding as to create general public interest. The
churches began to take notice of it and indeed, whatever has been for
the last twenty years characteristic of Christian Science was then
actively in action. What follows is the familiar story of Mrs. Eddy's
own personal movements, her withdrawal to Concord, her growing
detachment from the movement which she nevertheless ruled with an iron
hand, the final organization of the church itself along lines wholly
dictated by its leader, the deepening of public interest in the movement
itself, Mrs. Eddy's removal from Concord to Newton and her death. She
left behind her the strongest and most driving organization built up by
any religious leader of her time. Of all those, who since the Wesleys
have inaugurated and carried through a distinct religious movement, only
Alexander Campbell is in the same class with Mrs. Eddy and Campbell had
behind him the traditional force of the Protestantism to which he gave
only a slightly new direction and colouring. Mrs. Eddy's contributions
are far more distinct and radical.

We need, then, to turn from her life, upon whose lights and shadows,
inconsistencies and intricacies, we have touched all too lightly, to
seek in "Science and Health" and the later development of Christian
Science at once the secret of the power of the movement and its
significance for our time.



Christian science has a considerable group of authorized publications
and a well-conducted department of publicity. Its public propaganda is
carried on by means of occasional lectures, always extremely well
advertised and through its reading rooms and periodicals. Its
unadvertised propaganda is carried on, naturally, by its adherents.
Every instance of obscure or protracted illness offers it an opportunity
and such opportunities are by no means neglected. But the supreme
authority in Christian Science is Mary Baker Eddy's work "Science and
Health." This is read at every Sunday service and is the basis of all
lectures and explanatory advertisements. In general its exponents do not
substantially depart from the teachings of its book, nor, such is the
discipline of the cult, do they dare to. There are doubtless such
modifications of its more extreme and impossible contentions as every
religion of authority experiences. Christian Science cannot remain
unaffected by discussion and the larger movements of thought. But it has
not as yet markedly departed from the doctrines of its founder and must
thereby be judged.

The book in its final form represents a considerable evolution. The
comparison of successive editions reveals an astonishing amount of
matter which has been discarded, although there has been no real
modification of its fundamental principles. References to malicious
animal magnetism which fill a large place in the earlier editions, are
almost wholly wanting in the last, and there has been a decided progress
toward a relative simplicity of statements. The book is doubtless much
in debt to Mrs. Eddy's literary adviser, Mr. Wiggins, who brought to the
revision of Mrs. Eddy's writings a conscientious fidelity. One needs to
stand a good ways back from the book itself in order at all to get any
balanced view of its philosophy but, so seen, its fundamentals are
almost unexpectedly simple.

_Christian Science a Philosophy, a Theology, a Religion and a System of
Healing; General Conditions Which Have Lent it Power_

Christian Science is offered as a philosophy, a theology, a religion and
a method for the practical conduct of life and it needs to be considered
under each of these four heads. It demands also for any proper
understanding of it the backgrounds of Mrs. Eddy's peculiar temperament
and checkered history. It is a growth. For her fundamentals Mrs. Eddy
is, beyond reasonable debate, in debt to Quimby and in some ways
Quimby's original insights have suffered at her hands. None the less, in
its final form "Science and Health" is what Mrs. Eddy has made it and it
is what it is because she was what she was. She shared with her own
generation an absorbing interest in fundamental theological problems.
She inherited a religion which has reduced the whole of life to rigid
and on the whole too narrow theological formulæ. She was not able to fit
her experience into the formula which her faith supplied and yet, on the
other hand, her faith exercised a controlling influence over her life.
She was in a small and pathetic way a kind of nineteenth century Job
grappling with the old, old question given sin and, above all, pain and
suffering to find God. She could not adjust either Divine love or a just
Divine sovereignty to what she herself had been called upon to bear. A
natural tendency toward the occult and the desperate willingness of the
hopelessly sick to try anything which promises a cure, led her in many
directions. So much her biography explains.

Quimby was the first teacher she found whose system seemed to offer any
key at all to the intellectual and spiritual puzzle in which she found
herself and when his system seemed to be proved for her by her recovery
from a chronic abnormal state, she thereafter followed and elaborated
what he suggested. Here a certain natural shrewdness and ingenuity of
mind stood her in good stead. She was helped by her own ignorances and
limitations. If she had been a trained thinker, familiar with a wide
range of philosophic speculation, she would never have dared write so
dogmatically; if she had been a great philosopher with the philosopher's
inclusive vision, she would never have dared build so much on
foundations so narrow.

Mrs. Eddy was, unconsciously to herself, a type. She thought and felt
for multitudes of perplexed people unable to reconcile the more trying
experiences of life with what faith they had in the love and goodness of
God, unable on the other side to find the love and goodness of God in
the wide sweep of law and the orderly sequence of cause and effect, and
incapable under any circumstances of the patient analysis needed to
trace to all their sources the threads of their strangely mingled webs
of life; impressionable folk under the spell of words; speculative; at
once credulous and skeptical; intellectually alert enough to want to do
their own thinking and not intellectually disciplined enough to do it
well; persuaded that the Bible has both a message and authority and
unable to find in their traditional interpretation of it either a
satisfying message or an adequately directing authority; impatient of
discipline and pathetically eager for some short cut to happiness and
well-being. In a very signal way Mrs. Eddy has spoken and written for
this type particularly in American life. Her very style a liability as
it is, when tested by either logic or the accepted standards of good
writing, has, nevertheless, been an asset with those who have made her
their prophetess.

The secret of Mrs. Eddy's power and the power of her system after her is
most largely in her essential intellectual and spiritual kinship with
such a temper and intellectual status as this, but she possessed also a
real measure of creative capacity, a marked reach of speculative power,
rare shrewdness and a masterful temper. Mrs. Eddy believed herself to
have found her system in the Old and New Testaments--but she did not.
She gradually built it up out of the suggestions which had been given
her to begin with; she gave it colour and direction from her own
experiences; she proved it to her own satisfaction in the healings which
seemed to result from it, then fitted it all as best she could into the
framework of her inherited Christian faith and read its meanings back
into the Scriptures. It is a pseudo-philosophy pseudo-Christianized (if
one may use the word) by a curious combination of ingenuity, devotion,
main strength and even awkwardness. And though Christian Science is
carrying on to-day as a religion rather than as either a philosophy or a
system of healing, it will stand or fall on the intellectual side as a
philosophy and not as a religion.

_The Philosophic Bases of Christian Science_

It is professedly an idealistic monism based on carefully selected facts
and depending for its proof upon certain results in the experience of
those who accept it. An idealism because there is for Mrs. Eddy no
reality save in mind, a monism because there is for Mrs. Eddy only one
reality and that is God. For a definition of God she offers only
synonyms and affirmations though here perhaps she follows only the usual
procedure of theology. God is divine Principle, Life, Truth, Love, Soul,
Spirit, Mind--and all these capitalized, for it makes a vast difference
in the philosophy of Christian Science whether such familiar words as
these are spelled with a capital letter or not. It would be possible
from Mrs. Eddy's own words to pretty effectually prove what has been
more than once claimed: that Christian Science does not offer a personal
God, but all our terminology in this region is necessarily somewhat
loose, though hers is excessively so. Some of her definitions of God are
as personal as the Westminster Catechism or the Thirty-nine Articles.
The writer believes, however, after such dispassionate consideration of
the philosophy of Christian Science as he is able to give, that it would
make absolutely no difference in its philosophic basis whether God were
conceived as a person or not. If the God of Christian Science be taken
merely as the exaltation of an abstract idealism or a philosophic
Absolute everything would be secured which is otherwise secured.

Up to a certain point Christian Science marches with other idealistic
systems. From Plato down we have had philosophers a plenty, who have
sought to build for us a universe whose only realities are mind and its
attributes, or perhaps more technically, consciousness and its content.
It is truly a difficult enough matter to relate the world without and
the world within, once we begin thinking about it (though happily and in
the practical conduct of life this is not so hard as the philosophers
make out, otherwise we should be in a hopeless state), and it is natural
enough for one type of mind to simplify the problem by making the world
within the only world. Nor have there been wanting those who have sought
to reduce everything to a single reality whether matter or mind, and
ever since we have had theology at all a perplexed humanity has been
seeking to reconcile the goodness and the power of God with the sin and
sorrow of our troubled world.

But Christian Science parts company soon enough with this great
fellowship of dreamers and philosophers and takes its own line. It
affirms consciousness and its content to be the only reality; it affirms
the divine Mind to be the ultimate and all-conditioning reality; it
affirms love and goodness to be the ultimate qualities of the divine
Mind, but it meets the problem of sin and evil by denying them any
reality at all. (Here it is in more or less accord with certain forms of
mysticism.) But even as Christian Science cuts this Gordian knot it
creates for itself another set of difficulties and involves itself in
those contradictions which will eventually be the undoing of it as a

_It Undertakes to Solve the Problem of Evil. Contrasted Solutions_

What Christian Science is seeking is an ideal order with a content of
unqualified good and it secures this by denying the reality of every
aspect of experience which either challenges or contradicts its own
idealism. What is distinctive, then, in Christian Science is not its
affirmations but its denials. All systems of philosophic idealism face
practically the same problem and offer various solutions. They most
commonly resolve evil of every sort--and evil is here used in so wide a
way as to include sin and pain and sorrow--into an ultimate good.

Evil is thus an "unripe good," one stage in a process of evolution
which, when it has had its perfect and all-transforming way, will reveal
both moral and physical evil to have been no evil at all but simply
aspects of life, trying enough at the time and puzzling enough when
taken by themselves, but having their own distinct and contributory
value when considered in their relation to the final whole. Such an
approach as this does not in any wise diminish for the individual either
the reality of pain or the unhappy consequences of sin, but it does ask
him to judge the wisdom and love of God not by their passing phases but
by their outcome in the wealth and worth of character.

Robert Browning sang this sturdily through a long generation riding down
its difficulties by the sheer force of an unconquerable optimism and
subduing argument to lyric passion.

       "The evil is null, is naught, is silence implying sound;
     What was good shall be good, with, for evil, so much good more;
       On the earth the broken arcs; in the heaven a perfect round.

     "And what is our failure here but a triumph's evidence
       For the fullness of the days? Have we withered or agonized?
     Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence?
       Why rushed the discords in, but that harmony should be prized?"

Others affirm the self-limitation of God.[30] In His respect for that
human freedom which is the basis of self-regulated personal action and
therefore an essential condition of character, He arrests Himself, as it
were, upon the threshold of human personality and commits His children
to a moral struggle justifying the inevitable incidents of moral defeat
by the greatness of the ends to be attained. A vast deal of what we call
evil--broadening evil to include not only moral defeat but also pain--is
either a consequence or a by-product of what Henry Churchill King calls
the fight for character. Such a solution as this is consistent with the
love of God and the moral order; whether it is consistent with a
thoroughgoing monism or not is another question. William James doubted
it and so frankly adopted Pluralism--which is perhaps just a way of
saying that we cannot reconcile the contending forces in our world order
with one over-all-controlling power--as his solution of the problem.

[Footnote 30: Walker, for example, in his extremely suggestive Spiritual
Monism and Christian Theism.]

Josiah Royce has valiantly maintained, through long and subtle argument,
the goodness of the whole despite the evil of the incidental. "All
finite life is a struggle with evil. Yet from the final point of view
the Whole is good. The Temporal Order contains at no one moment anything
that can satisfy. Yet the Eternal Order is perfect. We have all sinned,
and come short of the glory of God. Yet in just our life, viewed in its
entirety, the glory of God is completely manifest. These hard sayings
are the deepest expressions of the essence of true religion."[31] He
finds the root of evil in the dissatisfaction of the finite will--a
dissatisfaction which on the other hand is the secret of the eventual
triumph of good.

[Footnote 31: "The World and the Individual," Royce, Vol. II, Chap.

We suffer also through our involution with "the interests and ideals of
vast realms of other conscious and finite lives whose dissatisfactions
become part of each individual man's life when the man concerned cannot
at present see how or why his own ideals are such as to make these
dissatisfactions his fate." We suffer also through our associations with
nature, none the less "this very presence of evil in the temporal order
is the condition of the perfection of the eternal order." He dismisses
definitely, in an argument still to be quoted, the conclusion of the
mystic that an "experience of evil is an experience of unreality ... an
illusion, a dream, a deceit" and concludes: "In brief, then, nowhere in
Time is perfection to be found. Our comfort lies in the knowledge of the
Eternal. Strengthened by that knowledge, we can win the most enduring of
temporal joys, the consciousness that makes us delight to share the
world's grave glories and to take part in its divine sorrows,--sure that
these sorrows are the means of the eternal triumph, and that these
glories are the treasures of the house of God. When once this comfort
comes home to us, we can run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.
For our temporal life is the very expression of the eternal triumph."

One may gravely question whether philosophy has ever so completely made
out its case as Professor Royce thinks. He is affirming as the reasoned
conclusion of philosophy what is rather a faith than a demonstration,
but none the less, all honest thinking has hitherto been brave enough to
recognize the reality of evil and to test the power of God and His love
and goodness not by the actuality of present pain, or the confusion of
present sin, but rather by the power which He offers us of growing
through pain to health or else so bearing pain as to make it a real
contribution to character and of so rising above sin as to make
penitence and confession and the struggle for good and the achievement
of it also a contribution to character. So St. Paul assures us that all
things work together for good for those that love God. "The
willingness," says Hocking, "to confront every evil, in ourselves and
outside ourselves, with the blunt, factual conscience of Science;
willingness to pay the full causal price for the removal of the blemish;
this kind of integrity can never be dispensed with in any optimistic

[Footnote 32: "The Meaning of God in Human Experience," p. 175.]

Sir Henry Jones takes the same line. "The first requisite for the
solution of the contradiction between the demand of religion for the
perfection of God, and therefore the final and complete victory of the
good in the other, is the honest admission that the contradiction is
there, and inevitable; though possibly, like other contradictions, it is
there only to be solved."[33]

[Footnote 33: "A Faith that Enquires," p. 45.]

_The Divine Mind and Mortal Mind_

Christian Science solves this problem, as has been said, by denying the
reality of evil, but since we have an abundance of testimony to pain and
sickness, Mrs. Eddy goes a step farther. She denies the reality of the
testimony of the senses wherever pain and sickness are concerned.[34]
(Mrs. Eddy's denial of the reality of sin is hardly parallel to her
denial of the reality of physical ills.) And here the word comes in
which is made to carry a heavier load than any one poor word was ever
burdened with before. All that is involved in the recognition of
physical ills and indeed all that is involved in the recognition of the
material side of existence is error. (Once fairly on her road Mrs. Eddy
makes a clean sweep of whatever stands in her way.) What one may call
the whole shadowed side of experience is not only ignored, it is denied
and yet before it can be explained away it has to be explained. It is,
in brief, for Mrs. Eddy and her followers the creation of mortal mind.
Mortal mind, she says, "is nothing claiming to be something; mythology;
error creating other errors; a suppositional material sense; ... that
which neither exists in science nor can be recognized by the spiritual
sense; sin; sickness; death."[35]

[Footnote 34: "Science and Health," last edition, pp. 108, 120, 293,

[Footnote 35: _Ibid._, p. 591.]

Mortal mind is that side of us which accepts our entanglement in the
facts and forces of the world order and upon mortal mind so vaguely
conceived Mrs. Eddy throws the whole burden of responsibility for all
the unhappy aspects of experience and conditioning circumstances. She
gives it a surprising range of creative power. It has created
everything Mrs. Eddy does not like or believe in. In other words, there
is not one reality but two, one the reality of well-being, the other the
reality of unhappiness and suffering, but according to Mrs. Eddy the
first reality is the only real reality, the second is an unreal reality
which we ourselves create through false beliefs and which we may escape
at any moment by simply shifting the center of our creative idealism.
Mrs. Eddy makes what she means by mortal mind reasonably clear through
endless repetition and some analysis, but she never for a moment
accounts for its existence. It is no creation of what she calls the
divine Mind; indeed she says in substance that God is not conscious of
it at all; it lies entirely outside the range of His knowledge. (Page

God is Good. Since He is good He cannot have created nor be responsible
for, nor even recognize pain, sorrow or suffering. "The Divine Mind
cannot suffer" (page 108, also page 335), "is not responsible for
physical and moral disasters" (page 119). God did not create matter (the
Father mind is not the father of matter) (page 257), for matter means
pain and death, nor do such things as these belong in any way to the
order of the Divine Mind. They have no admitted reality in Mrs. Eddy's
scheme of a true idealism. Man is "God's spiritual idea" and since he
belongs by right to an order in which there is neither sin nor sorrow
nor death, such things as these have no reality for him save as he
admits them. What really admits them is mortal mind, the agent of
another system of Belief in which humanity has in some way, which is
never really explained, become entangled, and we may apparently escape
from the one order to the other simply by a change in our beliefs. For
all the shadowed side of life has reality only as we accept or believe
in it; directly we cease to believe in it or deny it it ceases to be.

It is, as near as one can make out, a myth, an illusion, whose
beginnings are lost in obscurity and which, for the want of the
revelation vouchsafed through her, has been continued from age to age by
the untaught or the misled. For example, Arsenic is not a poison, so we
are told again and again. It is only a poison because people think it
is;[36] it began to be a poison only because people thought it was, it
continues to be a poison only because the majority of people think it is
now and, such is the subtle and far-reaching influence of mind upon
mind, it will continue to be a poison as long as any one continues to
believe it to be. Directly we all believe that Arsenic is not a poison
it will be no poison. Poisons, that is, are the creation of mortal mind.
Pain is pain only through the same mistaken belief in the reality of it.
"By universal consent mortal belief has constituted itself a law to bind
mortals to sickness, sin and death." And so on at great length and
almost endless repetition.

[Footnote 36: Page 178.]

_The Essential Limitations of Mrs. Eddy's System_

Since matter conditions us who were born to be unconditioned and since
matter is apparently the root of so many ills, the seat of so many
pains, matter goes with the rest. Mrs. Eddy is not always consistent in
her consideration of matter; sometimes she confines herself to saying
that there is neither sensation nor life in matter--which may be true
enough save as matter both affords the material for sensation and
conditions its forms, which is an immense qualification,--but again and
again she calls matter an illusion. Consistently the laws of physics and
chemistry should disappear with the laws of hygiene and medicine, but
Mrs. Eddy does not go so far as that though it would be difficult to
find a logical stopping place once you have taken this line. Mortal mind
is apparently the source of all these illusions.

Mrs. Eddy's disposal of matter, along with her constant return to its
misleading mastery in experience is an outstanding aspect of her book.
The writer is inclined to believe that Mrs. Eddy's formula: "There is
... no matter in life and no life in matter," is an echo of Tyndall's
famous utterance--made about the time she was working with her
system--that he found "in matter the promise and potency of all life."
There is surprisingly little reference in "Science and Health" to
philosophic or scientific sources. Cutter's physiology is quoted in some
editions--an old textbook which the writer remembers to have found among
his mother's school books. There are a few references to popular
astronomy, but in general for Mrs. Eddy modern science does not exist
except in the most general way as the erroneous expression of error and
always with a small "s" as against the capital "S" of her own system.
Nor does she show any knowledge of other philosophic idealisms nor any
acquaintance with any solution of the problems she was facing save the
commonplaces of evangelical orthodoxy. "Science and Health" knows
nothing also of any medical science save the empirical methods of the
medical science of 1860 and 1870.

But she cannot have been wholly uninfluenced--being a woman of an alert
mind--by the controversy which, in the seventies and eighties, was
raging about a pretty crass and literal materialism, and her writings
probably reflect--with a good deal of indirection--that controversy.
Here is a possible key to a good many things which are otherwise
puzzling enough. She is, in her own fashion, the defender of an
idealistic interpretation of reality and experience. Now all idealistic
systems have had to dispose of matter in some way. In general idealists
find in matter only the reflection in consciousness of the material
which sense experience supplies, and since the raw material is in every
way so different from the mental reflection, the idealist may defend his
position plausibly in assuming matter to be, in its phenomenal aspects,
really the creation of thought. But he must account for the persistency
of it and the consistency of experience so conditioned. He does this by
assuming the whole interrelated order to be held, as it were, in
solution, in some larger system of thought which really supplies for us
our environment and if he be both devout and consistent he calls this
the thought God.[37] In this way he solves his problem--at least to his
own satisfaction--and even supplies a basis for Theistic faith. But he
does not deny the working reality of his so-called material experiences
nor does he, like Mrs. Eddy, accept one aspect of this experience and
deny the other. This is philosophically impossible.

[Footnote 37: So Royce in "The World and the Individual."]

A thoroughgoing theistic monism must find in matter some aspect or other
of the self-revelation of God. It may be hard pressed to discover just
how the psychical is "stepped down" to the physical. (That is the
essential difficulty in all Creationism.) But something must be assumed
to get a going concern in any department of thought and there is much in
that resolution of matter into force and force into always more tenuous
and imponderable forms--which is the tendency of modern science--to
render this assumption less difficult to the rational imagination than
perhaps any other we are asked to make. When the final elements in
matter have become electrons and the electron is conceived as a strain
in a magnetic field and thus the

          "Cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
          The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
          Yea, all which is inherent,"

become the projection into sensibly apprehended form of the flux of an
infinite and eternal energy, it is not hard to define that energy in
terms of a divine will. Indeed it is hard not to do just that. But there
is no place in such a resolution as this for the conclusions of "Science
and Health."

Or we may accept in one form or another a dualism in which the
practical mind is generally content to rest. According to this point of
view we have to do with a reality which may be known under two aspects.
It is the chemical action and interaction of elements--and the mind
which measures and combines them; it is the physical action and
interaction of force--and the mind which directs the process.
Biologically "the living creature gives an account of itself in two
ways. It can know itself as something extended and intricately built up,
burning away, moving, throbbing; it can also know itself as the seat of
sensation, perceptions, feelings, wishes, thoughts. But there is not one
process, thinking, and another process, cerebral metabolism (vital
processes in nerve-cells); there is a psycho-physical life--a reality
which we know under two aspects. Cerebral control and mental activity
are, on this view, different aspects of one natural occurrence. What we
have to do with is the unified life of a psycho-physical being, a
body-mind or mind-body."[38] In short there is no philosophy or science
outside the covers of her own book to which Mrs. Eddy may turn for
support and though this does not prove the case against her--she might
be right and the whole disciplined thought of her time be wrong--this
latter supposition is so improbable as to rule it out of court.

[Footnote 38: J.A. Thomson, "The Outline of Science," p. 548.]

The materialism against which she contends has ceased to exist. The
matter which she denies does not exist in the sense of her denial. There
was, even when she was writing, a line of which she was apparently
wholly ignorant which has since been immensely developed, and of all
this there is naturally no reflection at all in her work. It is more
hopelessly out of touch with the laborious and strongly established
conclusions of modern thought in every field than the first chapters of
Genesis for there one may, at least, substitute the science of to-day
for the science of 3,000 years ago and still retain the enduring
insights of the faith then voiced, but there is no possible
accommodation of "Science and Health" to either the science or the
philosophy of the twentieth century. It must be left to a consistent
Christian Scientist to reconcile his gospel with the freer movements of
the world of which he is still a citizen--though perhaps this also might
be urged against a deal of contemporaneous Christian faith--but it is
all an arresting testimony to the power of the human mind to organize
itself in compartments between which there is no communication.

_Experience and Life_

Beyond all this is the fact of which "Science and Health" takes no
account--the conditioning of conscious life and working experience by
its material environment however conceived. This is true of every phase
of life and all our later emphasis upon the power of the mind in one
direction and another to escape this conditioning scarcely affects the
massive reality of it. Christian Science makes no attempt at all to
escape this--save in the region of physical health--or else it provides
an alibi in the phrase, "I have not demonstrated in that region yet."
But it does not thus escape the limitation imposed upon us all and if
we may dare for a moment to be dogmatic, it never will. At the best we
live in a give and take and if, through discipline and widening
knowledge, we may push back a little the frontiers which limit us, and
assert the supremacy of soul over the material with which it is so
intimately associated, we do even this slowly and at great cost and
always in conformity with the laws of the matter we master.

There is a body of evidence here which can no more be ignored than
gravitation, and we best dispose of association of personality with the
material fabric of the body and the world of which it is a part, not by
denying their mutual interdependence but by discovering therein the laws
and methods of an infinite wisdom. Here are ministries through which we
come to consciousness of ourselves, here are materials upon which we
exercise our power, here are realities which hold us fast to normal and
intelligible lives, here are masters whose rule is kind and servants
whose obediences empower us. They condition our happinesses as well as
our unhappinesses and supply for us the strings of that harp of the
senses upon which the music of life is played. Life really gains its
spiritual content through the action and interaction of the aspiring
self upon its environment--whether that environment be intimate as the
protest of a disturbed bodily cell or remote as Orion and the
Pleiades.[39] The very words which Mrs. Eddy uses would be idle if this
were not so and though a thoroughgoing defender of her system may read
into its lines a permission for all this, the fundamentals of her system
deny it.

[Footnote 39: "And I am inclined to think that the error of forgetting
that spirit in order to be real or that principles, whether of morality,
religion or knowledge, must be exemplified in temporal facts, is a no
less disastrous error than that of the sciences which have not learned
that the natural, when all the meaning of it is set free, blossoms into
the spiritual like the tree into flower. Religion and philosophy and
science also have yet to learn more fully that all which can possibly
concern man, occupy his intelligence or engage his will, lies at the
point of intersection of the natural and spiritual."--"A Faith that
Enquires," p. 27.]

Christian Science breaks down both philosophically and practically just
here. It is none the less a dualism because it denies that it is. It
confronts not one but two ranges of reality; it gains nothing by making
mortal mind the villain in the play. It is compelled to admit the
existence of the reality which it denies, even in the fact of denying
it. What we deny exists for us--we could not otherwise deny it. Royce
has put all this clearly, strongly, finally. "The mystic first denies
that evil is real. He is asked why, then, evil seems to exist. He
replies that this is our finite error. The finite error itself hereupon
becomes, as the source of all our woes, an evil. But no evil is real,
hence no error can be real, hence we do not really err even if we
suppose that evil is real. Here we return to our starting point and
could only hope to escape by asserting that it is an error to assert
that we really err or that we really believe error to be real, and with
a process thus begun there is indeed no end, nor at any stage in this
process is there consistency."[40] All this is subtle enough, but if we
are to make our world by thinking and unthinking it, all this is
unescapably true.

[Footnote 40: "The World and the Individual," Vol. II, p. 394.]

When, moreover, you have reduced one range of experience to illusion
there is absolutely nothing to save the rest. If evil is error and error
evil and the belief that evil is an illusion is itself an illusion what
is there to guarantee the reality of good? The sword with which Mrs.
Eddy cut the knot of the problem of evil is two-edged. If the optimist
denies evil for the sake of good and points for proof to the solid
coherency of the happier side of life, the pessimist may as justly deny
good for the sake of evil and point for proof to the solid coherency of
the sadder side of life; he will have no trouble in finding his facts.
If sickness is a dream then health is a dream as well. Once we have
taken illusion for a guide there is no stopping until everything is
illusion. The Eastern mystic who went this road long before Mrs. Eddy
and who thought it through with a searching subtleness of which she was
incapable, reached the only logical conclusion. All experience is
illusion, entire detachment from action is the only wisdom, and
absorption in an unconscious something which only escapes being nothing
is our appointed destiny:

          "We are such stuff
          As dreams are made of,
          And our little life
          Is rounded with a sleep."

_Sense-Testimony Cannot Be Accepted for Health and Denied for Sickness_

Christian Science, then, is not monism, it is rather a dualism; it
confronts not one but two ranges of reality and it is compelled to admit
the existence of the reality which it denies, even the fact of denying
it, for it is a philosophical axiom that what we deny exists for us--we
could not otherwise deny it. Denial is the recognition of reality just
as much as affirmation. To repeat, it is this continuous interwoven
process of trying to reconcile the one-sided idealism of Christian
Science with the necessity of its argument and the facts of life which
gives to "Science and Health" what one may call its strangely bifocal
character, though indeed this is a somewhat misleading figure. One has
the same experience in reading the book that one has in trying to read
through glasses which are out of focus; you are always just seeing and
just missing because Mrs. Eddy herself is always just seeing and just
missing a really great truth.

This fundamental inconsistency penetrates the whole system even down to
its practical applications. Christian Science denies the testimony of
the senses as to sickness and yet accepts them as to health. It goes
further than this, it accepts the testimony of the senses of other
people--physicians, for example, in accepting their diagnosis. The
edition of "Science and Health" published in 1918 offers in chapter
eighteen a hundred pages of testimonials sent in by those who have in
various ways been helped by their faith. These letters are shot through
and through with a recognition of the testimony of the senses which no
explanation can possibly explain away. "I was afflicted with a fibroid
tumour which weighed not less than fifty pounds, attended by a
continuous hemorrhage for eleven years." If the senses have any language
at all, this is their language. A growth cannot be known as a fibroid
tumour without sense testimony, nor its weight estimated without sense
testimony, nor a continuous hemorrhage be recorded, or its cessation
known without sense testimony, nor can epilepsy be diagnosed, nor
bilious attacks recognized without sense testimony. On page 606 a
grateful disciple bears witness to the healing of a broken arm,
testimony to said healing being demonstrated by a visit to a physician's
office "where they were experimenting with an X-ray machine. The doctor
pointed out the place as being slightly thicker at that part, like a
piece of steel that had been welded." In other words, Christian Science
cannot make out its case without the recognition of the veracity of a
sense testimony, whose truth its philosophy denies.

Mrs. Eddy seems to dismiss all this in one brief paragraph. "Is a man
sick if the material senses indicate that he is in good health? No, for
matter can make no conditions for man. And is he well if the senses say
he is sick? Yes, he is well in Science, in which health is normal and
disease is abnormal."[41] If Mrs. Eddy and her followers believe so
specious a statement as that, to set them free from an inconsistency
which is central in their whole contention, they are welcome to their
belief, but the inconsistency still remains. You can go far by using
words in a Pickwickian sense but there is a limit. A consistent idealism
is philosophically possible, but it must be a far more inclusive and
deeply reasoned idealism than Christian Science. The most thoroughgoing
idealisms have accepted the testimony of the senses as a part of the
necessary conduct of life as now conditioned. Anything else would reduce
us to unspeakable confusion, empty experience of its content, dissolve
all the contacts of life and halt us in our tracks for we cannot take a
step safely without the testimony of the senses and any scheme of things
which seeks to distinguish between the varying validities of sense
testimony, accepting only the evidence of the senses for health and
well-being and denying the dependability of whatever else they register,
is simply an immense caprice which breaks down under any examination.

[Footnote 41: Page 120. It is only fair to say that Mrs. Eddy is
hampered by her own want of clear statement. The phrase (so often used
in "Science and Health") "in Science" is probably in her mind equivalent
to "in the ideal order" and if Mrs. Eddy had clearly seen and clearly
stated what she is groping for: that the whole shadowed side of life
belongs to our present world of divided powers and warring forces and
unfinished enterprises, that God has something better for His children
toward which we are being led through the discipline of experience and
that we may therefore seek to conceive and affirm this ideal order and
become its citizens in body, mind and soul, she would have escaped a
perfect web of contradiction and been in line not only with the great
philosophies but with historic Christian faith. But then Christian
Science would not be Christian Science.]

_The Inescapable Reality of Shadowed Experience_

Evil does not cease to be because it is denied. The acceptance of sense
testimony is just as necessary in the region of pain and sickness as in
driving a motorcar down a crowded street and the hypothesis of a
misleading mortal mind, instead of explaining everything, demands itself
an explanation. What Mrs. Eddy calls mortal mind is only the registry of
the dearly bought experience of the race. We began only with the power
to feel, to struggle, to will and to think. We have been blind enough
and stupid enough but we are, after all, not unteachable and out of our
experience and our reflections we have created the whole splendid and
dependable body of human knowledge. What we know about pain is itself
the outcome of all the suffering of our kind. We began with no developed
philosophy nor any presuppositions about anything. Experience reflects
encompassing realities which we are able to escape only as we make their
laws our ministers. We did not give fire the power to burn, we
discovered that only in the school of the touch of flame. We did not
give edged steel the power to cut, we found that out through death and
bleeding wounds. We did not give to poisons their deadly power, our
attitude toward them is simply the outcome of our experience with them.

Conditioned as we are by those laws and forces with which this present
existence of ours is in innumerable ways inextricably interwoven, our
tested and sifted beliefs are only the outcome of an action and
interaction of recipient or creative personality upon its environment
old as human consciousness, and if in all this we have become persuaded
of pain and suffering and shadowed experience, it is only because these
are as real as any elements in experience can possibly be. To attempt
to write them out or deny them out or juggle them out in any kind of way
save in bravely meeting them and humbly being taught by them and in the
full resource of disciplined power getting free from them by removing
the causes which create them, is to cheat ourselves with words, lose
ourselves in shadows which we mistake for light and even if in some
regions we seem to succeed it is only at the cost of what is more bitter
than pain and more deadly than wounds--the loss of mental and spiritual
integrity. This is a price too great to pay for any mere healing.



"Science and Health" is offered, among other things, as a key to the
Scriptures, and along with her interpretation of both the Old and the
New Testaments in terms of her peculiar philosophy Mrs. Eddy rewrites
the great articles of the Christian creeds. A careful student of Mrs.
Eddy's mental processes is able in this region to understand them better
than she understood them herself. She had, to begin with, an inherited
reverence for the Bible as an authority for life and she shared with
multitudes of others a difficulty to which reference has already been
more than once made. For what one may call the typical Protestant
consciousness the Bible is the final revelation of God, governing, if
only we can come to understand it, both our faith and our conduct of
life, but the want of a true understanding of it and, above all, the
burdening of it with an inherited tradition has clouded its light for
multitudes of devout souls.

_Science and Health Offered as a Key to the Scriptures_

Such as these have been almost pathetically eager to accept any
interpretation, no matter how capricious, which seemed to read an
intelligible meaning into its difficult passages, or reconcile its
contradictions, or make it a more practical guide in the conduct of
life. Any cult or theory, therefore, which can seem to secure for itself
the authority of the Bible has obtained directly an immense
reinforcement in its appeal to the devout and the perplexed, and Mrs.
Eddy has taken full advantage of this. Her book is veined with Scripture
references; two of her chapters are expositions of Biblical books
(Genesis and Revelation); and other chapters deal with great doctrines
of the Church.

_It Ignores All Recognized Canons of Biblical Interpretation.

Mrs. Eddy naturally sought the authority for her philosophy between the
covers of the Scriptures. Beyond debate her teachings have carried much
farther than they otherwise would, in that she claims for them a
Scriptural basis, and they must be examined in that light. Now there are
certain sound and universally recognized rules governing the scholarly
approach to the Old and New Testaments. Words must be taken in their
plain sense; they must be understood in their relation to their context.
A book is to be studied also in the light of its history; the time and
place and purpose of its composition, as far as these are known, must be
considered; no changes made in the text save through critical
emendation, nor any translations offered not supported by accepted
texts, nor any liberties be taken with grammatical constructions. By
such plain tests as these Mrs. Eddy's use of the Scriptures will not
bear examination. She violates all recognized canons of Biblical
interpretation on almost every page.[42]

[Footnote 42: This is a brief--and a Christian Scientist may protest--a
summary dismissal of the claim of "Science and Health" to be a "key to
the Scriptures." But nothing is gained--save of the unnecessary
lengthening of this chapter--in going into a detailed examination of her
method and conclusions. She has insight, imagination, boundless
allegorical resource, but the whole Bible beneath her touch becomes a
plastic material to be subdued to her peculiar purpose by omissions,
read-in meanings and the substantial and constant disregard of plain
meanings. To the student the whole matter is important only as revealing
the confusion of the popular mind which receives such a method as

Her method is wholly allegorical and the results achieved are
conditioned only by the ingenuity of the commentator. It would require a
body of citation from the pages of "Science and Health," not possible
here, to follow through Mrs. Eddy's peculiar exegesis. One needs only to
open the book at random for outstanding illustrations. For example,
Genesis 1:6, "And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the
waters and let it divide the waters from the waters." The word
"firmament" has its own well established connotation gathered from a
careful study of all its uses. We can no more understand the earlier
chapters of Genesis without an understanding of Hebrew cosmogony than we
can understand Dante without a knowledge of medieval cosmogony. But,
given this knowledge which is the common possession of all sound
scholarship, we can at least understand what the passage means, even
though we have long left behind us the naïve conception of the vaulted
skies to which it refers.

All this is a commonplace not worth repeating at the cost of the white
paper upon which it is printed, save as the ignoring of it leads to such
an interpretation of the passage as that which Mrs. Eddy offers:
"spiritual understanding by which human conception material mind is
separated from Truth is the firmament. The Divine Mind, not matter,
creates all identities and they are forms of Mind, the ideas of Spirit
apparent only as Mind, never as mindless matter nor the so-called
material senses" (page 505). Comment is not only difficult but
impossible in the face of a method like this. If such an interpretation
were an exception it might seem the unfair use of a hypercritical temper
to quote this particular expression of Mrs. Eddy's mind. But her whole
treatment of Scripture suffers from the same method.

Everything means something else. The Ark is "the idea, or reflection of
truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle." Babel is
"self-destroying error"; baptism is "submergence in Spirit"; Canaan is
"a sensuous belief"; Dan (Jacob's son) is "animal magnetism"; the dove
is "a symbol of divine Science"; the earth is "a type of eternity and
immortality"; the river Euphrates is "divine Science encompassing the
universe and man"; evening "the mistiness of mortal thought"; flesh "an
error, a physical belief"; Ham (Noah's son) is "corporeal belief";
Jerusalem "mortal belief and knowledge obtained from the five corporeal
senses"; night, "darkness; doubt; fear"; a Pharisee, "corporeal and
sensuous belief"; river is "a channel of thought"; a rock is "a
spiritual foundation"; sheep are "innocence"; a sword "the idea of

[Footnote 43: Glossary, p. 579--passim.]

Mrs. Eddy does not hesitate to make such textual modifications of
passages as suit her purpose and even when she is not dealing with her
texts in such ways as these, she is constantly citing for her proofs
passages which cannot by any recognized canon of interpretation possibly
be made to mean what she says they mean. Beneath her touch simple things
become vague, the Psalms lose their haunting beauty, even the Lord's
Prayer takes a form which we may reverently believe the author of it
would not recognize.

     "Our Father: Mother God, all harmonious, Adorable One, Thy kingdom
     is come; Thou art ever present. Enable us to know--as in heaven, so
     on earth--God is omnipotent, supreme. Give us grace for to-day;
     feed the famished affections; and love is reflected in love; and
     God leadeth us not into temptation, but delivereth us from sin,
     disease and death. For God is Infinite, all Power, all Life, Truth,
     Love, over all and All."

_Its Conception of God_

It was quite as inevitable that she should undertake to fit her
speculations into the fabric of the theology in which she and most of
her followers had been trained, as that she should try to secure for her
speculation the weight of the authority of the Bible. She would have to
take for her point of departure the centrality of Christ, the
outstanding Christian doctrines, markedly the Incarnation and the
Atonement and she would need somehow to dispose of the Sacraments. All
this is inevitably implied in the persistent designation of her whole
system as a Christian system.

The chapter headings in "Science and Health" and the sequence of
chapters are the key to the movement of her mind; they are determined by
her association of interests. Marriage is on the same level with Prayer,
Atonement and the Eucharist, and Animal Magnetism with Science, Theology
and Medicine. It is hard to know where to begin in so confused a region.
She is handicapped, to begin with, by the rigidity of her idealism and
actually by her limitation both of the power and personality of God.
This statement would probably be as sharply contradicted by Mrs. Eddy's
apologists as anything in this study, but it is not hastily made.
Philosophically He is for Mrs. Eddy only an exalted ideality into
relation with which we may think ourselves by a change in our system of
belief. Actually, as we shall see, this conception yields to emotional
and devotional needs--it is bound to--but in theory it is unyielding.

Now the accepted Christian conception of God is entirely different. Both
the Old and New Testaments conceive a God who is lovingly and justly
conscious of all our need, who is constantly drawing near to us in
manifold appeals and approaches and who has, above all, in the
Incarnation made a supreme and saving approach to humanity. He is no
more rigid than love is rigid; His attitude toward us, His children,
changes as the attitude of a father toward the changing tempers of a
child. Now all this may be true or it may be only the dream of our
strangely sensitive personalities, but whether it be true or not, it is
the Christian conception and any denial of this or any radically
different substitution for it cannot call itself Christian save as it
writes into the word Christian connotations to which it has heretofore
been utterly strange.

_Mrs. Eddy's Interpretation of Jesus Christ_

Mrs. Eddy begins, therefore, with the handicap of a philosophy which can
be adjusted to Christian theology only through fundamental modifications
of that theology. It is hard to systematize the result. Mrs. Eddy
distinguishes between Jesus and Christ. Her conception of Jesus is
reasonably clear whether it be historically true or not, but her
conception of the Christ is vague and fluctuating. Jesus was apparently
the first Christian Scientist, anticipating, though not completely, its
philosophy and demonstrating its practices. His teachings are so
interpreted as to be made to yield a Christian Science content. When He
urged the commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" what He
really meant was, "Thou shalt have no belief of Life as mortal; thou
shalt not know evil, for there is one Life."[44] "He proved by His deeds
that Christian Science destroys sickness, sin and death. Our Master
taught no mere theory, doctrine or belief; it was the divine Principle
of all real being which He taught and practiced."[45] "He taught His
followers the healing power of Truth and Love"[46] and "the proofs of
Truth, Life and Love which Jesus gave by casting out error and healing
the sick, completed His earthly mission."[47] "The truth taught by Jesus
the elders scoffed at because it demanded more than they were willing to
practice."[48] They, therefore, crucified Him and He seemed to die, but
He did not. Apparently He was not dead when He was entombed and His
three days in the tomb gave Him "a refuge from His foes, a place in
which to solve the great problem of being." In other words He
demonstrated His own healing in the tomb. "He met and mastered, on the
basis of Christian Science, the power of mind over matter, all the
claims of medicine, surgery and hygiene. He took no drugs to allay
inflammation; He did not depend upon food or pure air to resuscitate
wasted energies; He did not require the skill of a surgeon to heal the
torn palms and bind up the wounded side and lacerated feet, that He
might use those hands to remove the napkin and winding sheet and that He
might employ His feet as before."[49]

[Footnote 44: Page 19. All citations from last edition.]

[Footnote 45: Page 26.]

[Footnote 46: Page 31.]

[Footnote 47: Page 41.]

[Footnote 48: Page 41.]

[Footnote 49: Page 44.]

"His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while He was hidden in the
sepulchre, whereas He was alive, demonstrating within the narrow tomb
the power of the spirit to overrule mortal, material sense." His
ascension was a final demonstration in which He "rose above the physical
knowledge of His disciples and the material senses saw Him no more." He
attained this perfection of demonstration only gradually and He left
behind Him an incomplete revelation which was to wait for its full
illumination for the coming of Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science. Perhaps
more justly He left behind Him, according to Mrs. Eddy and her
followers, a body of teaching which could not be clearly understood
until she came to complete the revelation. At any rate, Christian
Science is really His second coming.

_Christian Science His Second Coming_

In an advertisement printed in the New York _Tribune_ on January 23,
1921, Augusta E. Stetson says: "Christ in Christian Science is come to
the understanding of those who looked for His reappearing." And if
certain sentences which follow mean anything, they mean that, in the
thought of Mrs. Eddy's followers, she completes what Jesus began and
fulfills the prophecy of His reappearing. "Her earthly experience runs
parallel with that of her Master; understood in a small degree only by
the few who faintly see and accept the truth, she stood during her
earthly mission and now stands on the mount of spiritual illumination
toward whose heights no feet but those of the blessed Master have so
directly toiled, first in agony and finally, like Jesus Christ the
masculine representative of the Fatherhood of God, she as the feminine
representative of the motherhood of God, will appear in triumphant
demonstration of divine power and glory as the combined ideal man in
God's image and likeness."

And, indeed, there are not wanting intimations in "Science and Health"
which give to Mrs. Eddy a certainty in this region which Jesus Himself
did not possess. He falters where she firmly trod. No need to dwell
upon the significant omissions which such an interpretation of the
historic Jesus as this demands. The immensely laborious and painstaking
scholarship which has sought, perplexedly enough it must be confessed,
to discover behind the Gospel narratives the fundamental facts and
realities of His life, is entirely ignored. Mrs. Eddy has no place for
the social aspects of the teachings of Christ, indeed His whole system
of ethic could be "blacked out"; as far as her teaching is concerned it
would make absolutely no difference.

Mrs. Eddy distinguishes, in theory at least though there is no
consistency in her use of terms, between Jesus and the Christ. "Jesus is
the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of
Jesus, the Christ" (page 473). "Jesus is the name of the man who, more
than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing
the sick and the sinning and destroying the power of death" (page 473).
"In an age of ecclesiastical despotism, Jesus introduced the teaching
and practice of Christianity ... but to reach His example and test its
unerring Science according to His rule, ... a better understanding of
God as divine Principle, Love, rather than personality or the man Jesus,
is required" (page 473).

It is difficult enough to know just what this means, but as one stands
far enough back from it all it seems to reduce Jesus historically to the
first outstanding Christian Science teacher and healer. "Jesus
established what He said by demonstration, thus making His acts of
higher importance than His words. He proved what He taught. This is the
Science of Christianity. Jesus _proved_ the Principle, which heals the
sick and casts out error, to be divine" (page 473). He is, therefore,
historically of chiefest value as the demonstrator of Christian Science,
the full philosophy of which apparently awaited a later revelation.

"Christ is the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and sin through
Christian Science, and attributes all power to God" (page 473). "He
unveiled the Christ, the spiritual idea of divine Love" (page 38). The
Christ of Christian Science, then, is an ideal Truth, a spiritual idea,
apparently an abstraction. But Mrs. Eddy is not consistent in her use of
these two names. On one page Christ is "the spiritual idea of divine
Love"; on the next page "we need Christ and Him crucified" (page 39),
though how an ideal truth or a spiritual idea could possibly be
crucified we are not told. In many of her passages Mrs. Eddy uses the
familiar phrase, Jesus Christ, in apparently its ordinary connotations.

_The Incarnation: Christian Theology and Christian Science Belong Really
to Different Regions_

The Incarnation is disposed of in the same vague way. "Those instructed
in Christian Science have reached the glorious perception that God is
the only author of man. The virgin mother conceived this idea of God and
gave to her ideal the name of Jesus."[50] "The illumination of Mary's
spiritual sense put to silence material law and its order of generation,
and brought forth her child by the revelation of Truth. The Holy Ghost,
or divine Spirit, overshadowed the pure sense of the Virgin-mother with
the full recognition that being is Spirit."[51] "Jesus was the offspring
of Mary's self-conscious communion with God."[52] Now all this is
neither honest supernaturalism nor the honest acceptance of the normal
methods of birth. It is certainly not the equivalent of the Gospel
account whether the Gospel account be accepted or rejected. To use a
phrase which has come into use since "Science and Health" was written,
this is a "smoke screen" under cover of which Mrs. Eddy escapes the
necessity of either accepting or denying the testimony of the Gospels.

[Footnote 50: Page 29.]

[Footnote 51: Page 29.]

[Footnote 52: Page 30.]

Something of this, one must confess, one may find in not a little
religious teaching old and new, but it is doubtful if there is anywhere
so outstanding an instance of what one may call the smoke screen method
in the consideration of the Incarnation, as in the passages just quoted.
As a matter of fact all this is simply the attempt to fit the idealistic
dualism, which is the real philosophic basis of Christian Science and
which, in so far as it is capable of explanation at all, can be as
easily explained in two pages as two hundred, into the theology in which
Mrs. Eddy was nurtured and which was a background common to both herself
and her disciples. Christian Science would carry far less weight in the
race it is running if it frankly cut itself clear of a theology with
which it has fundamentally no affinity. This indoctrination of an
idealistic dualism with a content of Christian theology probably
heightens the appeal of the system to those who are most at home in a
new faith as they discover there the familiar phrases of their older
faith, but it weakens the fundamental Christian Science apologetic. I
think, however, we ought justly to recognize this as simply an
inevitable aspect in the transition of Christian Science from the
orthodox faith and experience of historic Christianity to a faith and
experience of its own.

Seen as a curious half-truth development made possible by a whole group
of forces in action at the end of the nineteenth century, Christian
Science is reasonably intelligible, but as a system of doctrine built
upon the hitherto accepted bases of Christian fact and teaching, it is
not intelligible at all and the long controversy between the Christian
theologian and the Christian Science lecturer would best be ended by
recognizing that they have so little in common as to make attack and
counter-attack a movement in two different dimensions. The one thing
which they have in common is a certain set of words and phrases, but
these words and phrases have such entirely different meanings on the one
side and the other as to make the use of them hopelessly misleading.

_The Atonement. The Cross of Christian Science and the Cross of

There are passing references to the Cross in "Science and Health," but
the word is used generally in a figurative and sentimental way. Mrs.
Eddy's cross is simply the pain of being misunderstood and criticised in
the preaching and practice of Christian Science, though indeed the Cross
of Jesus was also the outcome of hostilities and misunderstandings and a
final and terribly fierce method of criticism. One feels that mainly she
is thinking of her own cross as a misunderstood and abused woman and for
such suggestion she prefers the Cup as a figure to the Cross. As for the
Atonement "every pang of repentance and suffering, every effort for
reform, every good thought and deed will help us to understand Jesus'
Atonement for sin and aid its efficacy."[53] "Wisdom and Love require
many sacrifices of self to save us from sin." All this seems to be in
line with the moral theory of the atonement until we see that in such a
line as this there is no recognition of the fact that again and again we
suffer and that largely for others, and when she adds that "Its [the
atonement] scientific explanation is that suffering is an error of
sinful sense which Truth destroys, and that eventually both sin and
suffering will fall at the feet of everlasting love" (page 23), those
passages cancel one another, for if suffering be "an error of sinful
sense" it is hard to see how any pang of it can help us to understand
Jesus' atonement unless His suffering be also "an error of sinful
sense," and this is to reduce the atonement to a like error.

[Footnote 53: Page 19.]

In another connection Mrs. Eddy finds the efficacy of the Crucifixion
"in the practical affection and goodness it demonstrated for mankind."
But this turns out to be nothing more than that the Crucifixion offers
Christ a needed opportunity for the instruction of His disciples to
triumph over the grave. But since in another connection we are told He
never died at all (chapter Atonement and Eucharist, paragraph "Jesus in
the tomb") even this dissolves into unreality. Moreover the "eternal
Christ in His spiritual selfhood never suffered."[54] Whichever road she
takes here Mrs. Eddy reaches an impasse. It ought to be said, in justice
to Mrs. Eddy, that her treatment of the atonement reflects the
difficulty she found in the theology in which she had been trained as a
girl and that there are many true insights in her contentions. She was
at least seeking a vital and constructive interpretation and doubtless
her observations, confused as they are, have been for her followers a
real way out of a real difficulty. Here, as in so many other regions,
"Science and Health" is best understood by its backgrounds.

[Footnote 54: A curious and far-off echo of early Docetism which also in
its own way reduced Christ's suffering to a simple seeming to suffer.]

As a matter of fact there is in Christian Science absolutely no soil in
which to plant the Cross as the Cross is understood in Christian
theology. There is no place in Christian Science for vicarious
atonement, whether by God or man; there is little place in Christian
Science for redemptive suffering; there is a rather narrow region in
which suffering may be considered as instructive, a guide, perhaps, to
lead us out of unhappy or shadowed regions into the regions of physical
and, maybe, spiritual and moral well-being, and to quench the love of
sin.[55] Mrs. Eddy sometimes speaks of Christ as the Saviour but if her
system be pressed to a logical conclusion she must empty the word of all
the associations which it has hitherto had and make it simply the
equivalent of a teacher or demonstrator.

[Footnote 55: Page 36. But this is to recognize the reality of
suffering. Mrs. Eddy is here on the threshold of a great truth--that
suffering is an aspect of education--but she goes no further.]

_Sin an Error of Mortal Mind_

Sin along with sickness and death are the projections of mortal error,
the creations of mortal mind; sin, sickness and death are to be
classified as effects of error. Christ came "to destroy the belief of
sin." All this is to root sin simply in the mind. No intimation at all
here of the part which a perverted will may play in the entanglements of
life; no intimation of the immense force of the emotional side of life;
no intimation here of the immense part which sheer selfishness plays.
Mrs. Eddy's sin is far too simple. There is, once more, a sound reason
for that. Mrs. Eddy is twice-born, if you will, but the struggle from
which she finally emerged with whatever measure of victory she attained
was not fought out with conscience as the field of battle, or in the
final reconciliation of a divided self finding unity and peace on some
high level.

If Mrs. Eddy's true struggle was of the soul and not of complaining
nerves she has left no record of it anywhere. It was rather the reaction
of a speculative mind against the New England theology. Her experience
is strangely remote from the experience of Saul of Tarsus, or Augustine,
or John Bunyan. This is not to deny that in the practical outcome of
Christian Science as evidenced in the life of its adherents there is not
a very real power of helpful moral adjustment, but the secret of that
must be sought in something else than either its philosophy or its
theology. Christian theologians themselves have been by no means agreed
as to what sin really is. Under their touch it became too often a
theological abstraction rather than entanglement of personality caught
in manifold urgencies and pulled this way and that by competing forces
battling in the will and flaming in passion and desire. But a sin which
has no reality save through a mistaken belief in its existence is
certainly as far from the fact of a world like ours as is a sin which is
only one factor in a scheme of redemption.

But at any rate, if sin have no reality except our mistaken persuasion
that it be true and if we are delivered from it directly we cease to
believe in it and affirm in the stead of it the reality of love and
goodness, then while there may be in such a faith as this both the need
and possibility of the recasting of our personal lives, there is in it
neither need nor possibility of the Christian doctrine of the atonement.
Naturally since man is incapable of sin, sickness and death, he is
unfallen, nor is "his capacity or freedom to sin any part of the divine
plan." "A mortal sinner is not God's man. Mortals are the counterfeits
of immortals; they are the children of the wicked one, or the one evil
which declares that man begins in dust or as a material embryo" (page

Here also is an echo from an early time and a far-off land. It is not
likely that Mrs. Eddy ever heard of Mani or Manicheeism, or knew to what
a travail of soul St. Augustine was reduced when he fought his way
through just a kindred line of teaching which, to save God from any
contact with or responsibility for evil, affirmed our dual genesis and
made us on one side children of darkness and on the other the children
of light, without ever really trying to achieve in a single personality
any reconciliation of two natures drawn from two entirely different
sources. Nor does Mrs. Eddy know that one Eusebius, finding much
evidence of this faith in the Christianity of the fourth century,
dismissed it briefly enough as "an insane heresy." Heresy it certainly
was for all those who were fighting their way out of their paganism into
an ordered Christian faith and whether it be insane or no, it is of all
the explanations which have been offered for the presence of evil in a
world supposedly ruled by the love and goodness of God, the one which
will least bear examination. It has been dead and buried these thousand

We may deny, if we are so minded, any freedom of the will at all, so
involving ourselves in an inevitable sequence of cause and effect as to
make us also simply weather-vanes driven east or west by winds of
inheritance and environment which we have no power to deflect and to
which we can only choose to respond. But to deny us the freedom to sin
and so to shut us up to a determinism of goodness is no more in accord
with the facts than to deny us the power to be good and shut us up to a
determinism of sin. If we are free at all we are free in all directions.

_The Sacraments Disappear. Mrs. Eddy's Theology a Reaction from the
Rigid Evangelicism of Her Youth_

"Science and Health" deals in the same radical way with the sacraments.
Nothing at all, apparently, is made of baptism save that Mrs. Eddy says
our baptism is a purification from all error. In her account of the Last
Supper the cup is mostly dwelt upon and that only as showing forth the
bitter experience of Jesus. The bread "is the great truth of spiritual
being, healing the sick" and the breaking of it the "explaining" it to
others. More is made of what is called the last spiritual breakfast with
the Disciples by Lake Galilee than of the Last Supper in the upper room.
"This spiritual meeting with our Lord in the dawn of a new light is the
morning meal which Christian Scientists commemorate" (page 35). "Our
bread," she says, "which cometh down from heaven, is Truth; our wine,
the inspiration of Love" (page 35). All this is of a piece with the
general allegorical use of the Old and New Testaments in "Science and
Health," but it is a marked departure from the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper even in the simple memorial way in which it is kept by
non-liturgical churches.

Mrs. Eddy's theology, then, is in part a reaction from the hard phrasing
of the evangelical doctrines in which she was trained and it is indeed
in part a reaching out toward the interpretation of these doctrines in
terms of life and experience, but as a theology it is extraordinarily
loose and even though the familiar phrases of Protestant and Catholic
faiths are employed, what is left is wholly out of the current of the
main movement of Christian theology heretofore. The central articles of
the historic creeds practically disappear under Mrs. Eddy's treatment.

Here, then, is a philosophy which will not bear examination, a use of
Scripture which can possibly have no standing in any scholarly
fellowship, and a theology which empties the central Christian doctrines
of the great meanings which have heretofore been associated with them.
And yet in spite of all this, Christian Science gets on and commends
itself to so considerable a number of really sincere people as to make
it evident enough that it must have some kind of appealing and
sustaining power. Where, then, is the hiding of its power? Partly, of
course, in its spaciousness. There are times when a half-truth has a
power which the whole truth does not seem to possess. Half truths can be
accepted unqualifiedly; they are capable of a more direct appeal and if
they be skillfully directed toward needs and perplexities they are
always sure of an acceptance; they make things too simple, that is one
secret of their hold upon us. This, of course, is more largely true
among the spiritually undisciplined and the mentally untrained, but even
the wisest folk find it easier upon occasion to accept a half truth
which promises an easy satisfaction or deliverance than a whole truth
which needs to be wrestled with and may be agonized over before it
brings us into some better estate.

_The Real Power of Christian Science is in Neither Its Philosophy Nor
Its Theology_

We have already seen what predisposing influences there were in the
breaking down of what we have called the accepted validations of
historic Christianity--due, as we have seen also, to many contributing
causes--to offer unusual opportunity to any new movement which promised
deliverance. But one must seek the conditions which have made possible
so many strange cults and movements in America, not only in the
breakdown of the historic faiths, but also in the state of popular
education. Democracy tends, among other things, to lead us to value a
movement by the number of people whom it is able to attract. We are,
somehow, persuaded that once a majority has accepted anything, what they
have accepted must be true and right. Even a strong minority always
commands respect. Any movement, therefore, which succeeds in attracting
a considerable number of followers is bound to attract others also, just
because it has already attracted so many. One has only to listen to the
current comment on Christian Science to feel that this is a real factor
in its growth.

Democracy believes in education, but has not commonly the patience to
make education thoroughgoing. Its education is very much more likely to
be a practical or propaganda education than such training as creates
the analytical temper and supplies those massive backgrounds by which
the departures of a day are always to be tested. In America particularly
there is an outstanding want of background. It needs history,
philosophy, economic understanding and a wealth of racial experience to
give to any people either the power to quickly discriminate between the
truth and the half-truth, or to carry itself with poise through a
transitional period. But one may not dispose of the distinct hold of
Christian Science upon its followers by such generalizations. The real
inwardness of no religion can ever be known from its theology. A sincere
devotion may attend a most deficient theology and we need to be
charitable in judging the forms which other people's faith takes. What
seems unreasonable to one may seem quite right to another and whatever
carries a sincere faith deepening into a positive spiritual experience
accomplishes for the moment its purpose. These studies of Christian
Science are severe--for one must deal with it as honestly as he knows
how--but the writer does not mean that they should fail in a due
recognition of the spiritual sincerity of Christian Scientists. We must
therefore go in to what is most nearly vitally central in the system to
find the real secret of its powers. It continues and grows as a system
of healing and a religion.



Christian Science practice is the application of its philosophy and
theology to bodily healing. This is really the end toward which the
whole system is directed. "Science and Health" is an exposition of Mrs.
Eddy's system as a healing force. Her philosophy and theology are
incidental, or--if that is not a fair statement--they both condition and
are conditioned by her system of healing. There is hardly a page in her
book without its reference to sickness and health. Her statements are
consequently always involved and one needs to stand quite back from them
to follow their outline. Here, as elsewhere, one may read deeply and
indirectly between the lines attitudes and beliefs against which she is
reacting. Her reactions against the environment of her girlhood and
early womanhood affect her point of view so distinctly that without the
recognition of this a good deal of what she says is a puzzle without a

_Christian Science the Application of Philosophy and Theology to Bodily

She had been taught, among other things, that sickness is a punishment
for sin. One may safely assume this for the theology of her formative
period fell back upon this general statement in its attempt to reconcile
individual suffering and special providence. One ought not justly to say
that Mrs. Eddy ever categorically affirms that she had been taught this,
or as categorically denies the truth of it, but there are statements--as
for example page 366--which seem to imply that she is arguing against
this and directing her practitioners how to meet and overcome it. This
perhaps accounts for the rather difficult and wavering treatment of sin
and sickness in a connection where logically sickness alone should be

Mrs. Eddy would not naturally have thus associated sin and sickness had
they not been associated for her in earlier teaching and yet, as has
been said, all this is implicit rather than explicit. The key to a great
deal in "Science and Health" is not in what the author says, but in the
reader's power to discover behind her statements what she is "writing
down." Her system is both denial and affirmation. In the popular
interpretation of it quite as much is made of denial and the recognition
of error as of its more positive aspects, but in the book there is a
pretty constant interweaving of both the denial of evil and the
affirmation of well-being.

There is a sound element of wisdom in many of her injunctions, but more
needed perhaps fifty years ago than now. We must remember constantly
that Mrs. Eddy is writing against the backgrounds of a somber theology,
a medical practice which relied very greatly on the use of drugs which
was at the same time limited in its materia medica and too largely
experimental in its practice. She was writing before the day of the
trained nurse with her efficient poise. The atmosphere of a sick room is
not naturally cheerful and generally both the medical procedure and the
spiritual comfort of the sick room of the fifties and sixties did very
little to lighten depression. When, therefore, Mrs. Eddy urges, as she
does, an atmosphere of confidence and sympathy she is directly in the
right direction.

_Looseness of Christian Science Diagnosis_

As we pass beyond these things which are now commonplace, what she says
is not so simple. It is difficult to say how far the healing which
attends upon Christian Science is in her thought the result of Divine
Power immediately in exercise, and how far it is the outcome of
disciplines due to the acceptance of her theology and philosophy. It is
hard also to distinguish between the part the healer plays and the
contribution of the subject. There is no logical place in Christian
Science practice for physical diagnosis. "Physicians examine the pulse,
tongue, lungs, to discover the condition of matter, when in fact all is
Mind. The body is the substratum of mortal mind, and this so-called mind
must finally yield to the mandate of immortal Mind" (page 370).

The result of this in practice is that the Christian Science healer
accepts either the diagnosis of the medical schools, reported
second-hand or else the patient's own statement of his condition.
Needless to say there is room for very great looseness of diagnosis in
such a practice as this. The actuality of sickness must be recognized
neither directly nor indirectly. The sickness must not be thought or
talked. Here also, as far as the patient is concerned, is a procedure of
undebated value. It all comes back, as we shall see presently, to
suggestion, but any procedure which frees the patient from depressing
suggestion and substitutes therefor an encouraging suggestion is in the
right direction. At the same time those who are not Christian Scientists
would rather stubbornly believe that somebody must recognize the fact of
sickness or else we cannot begin to set in action the machinery for
curing it, even if that machinery be Christian Science itself, and we do
not change this rather stubborn fact by covering sickness with the blank
designation Error. Even the error is real for the time being.[56]

[Footnote 56: The writer once received an unexpected sidelight on the
practice of the Christian Science healer in this connection. He once
enjoyed the friendship of a Christian Science healer with whom he often
played golf. He called this healer up one morning to make an
appointment. His voice was not recognized over the telephone and he was
mistaken for a patient. The reply came back in professional tones--"And
what error are you suffering from this morning?" When he answered that
his own particular error was his persuasion that he could play golf the
telephone atmosphere was immediately changed.]

The results of fear are constantly dwelt upon and this too is in the
right direction. Much is made of the creative power of mind in that it
imparts purity, health and beauty (page 371). When Mrs. Eddy says on
page 373 that disease is expressed not so much by the lips as in the
functions of the body she is making one of those concessions to common
sense which she makes over and over again, but when she attempts to
explain how erroneous or--as one may venture to call it--diseased belief
expresses itself in bodily function one is reminded of Quimby.
Temperature, for example, is wholly mental. Mrs. Eddy's reason for
believing this is apparently because "the body when bereft of mortal
mind at first cools and afterward it is resolved into its primitive
mortal elements." "Mortal Mind produces animal heat and then expels it
through the abandonment of a belief or increases it to the point of
self-destruction" (page 374). Fever is a mental state. Destroy fear and
you end fever.

In all this there is a profound ignorance of the real causes of fever
which helps us to understand the marked deficiencies of the whole
system. There is nowhere any recognition of the body as an instrument
for the transformation and conservation and release of energy real as a
dynamo. There is nowhere any recognition of the commonplaces of modern
medical science in the tracing of germ infections. True enough, medical
science had hardly more than begun when "Science and Health" was first
written to redefine fevers in terms of germ infection and the consequent
disorganization of the balance of physical functionings, and the
oxidation of waste materials real as fire on a hearth, but that is no
reason why such ignorance should be continued from generation to

_The Power of Mental Environment_

In general, Christian Science practice as indicated in "Science and
Health" is a strange mingling of the true, the assumed and the false;
its assumptions are backed up by selected illustrations and all that
challenges it is ignored. Disease is unreal because Mind is not sick and
matter cannot be (page 393). But Mind is "the only I, or Us, divine
Principle, ... Life, Truth, Love; Deity, which outlines but is not
outlined" (page 591). In other words Mind is an ideal affirmation which
Mrs. Eddy assumes to underlie human experience and possibly to reveal
itself through human experience, and it certainly does not follow that
while an ideal affirmation is not sick, a human being involved in the
necessary relationships of our present material existence may not be.
Mrs. Eddy never clearly distinguishes between what a speculative mind
may affirm and actual experience report. Her dialectic is a constant
wrestling with reality in a range of statement which involves her in
many contradictions. She recognizes what she denies and denies what she
recognizes and, in a lawyer's phrase, constantly changes the venue.

But through and behind it all is an intelligible method. Confidence is
to be reëstablished, fear is allayed, the sufferer from error led to
commit himself to healing forces. These healing forces are not
consistently defined. Sometimes they are the "power of the mind to
sustain the body" (page 417); sometimes "the power of Christian Science"
(page 412), or "the power of Truth" (page 420) or divine Spirit, or her
book itself. "Continue to read and the book will become the physician,
allaying the tremor which Truth often brings to error when destroying
it" (page 422).

Mrs. Eddy sometimes anticipates in a vague way the reaction of thought
and emotion upon physiological function to which Cannon has given such
careful attention, but her definite statements are strangely inadequate.
"What I term _chemicalization_ is the upheaval produced when immortal
Truth is destroying erroneous mortal belief. Mental chemicalization
brings sin and sickness to the surface, forcing impurities to pass away,
as is the case with a fermenting fluid" (page 401).[57] She recognizes
the limits of Christian Science practice when she advises her followers
to leave surgery and the adjustment of broken bones and dislocations to
the fingers of a surgeon until the advancing age admits the efficacy and
supremacy of mind (page 401).

[Footnote 57: Compare "The Quimby Manuscripts," p. 118.]

Great care is to be taken as to the patient's mental environment. Mrs.
Eddy's constant emphasis upon this explains the excessive separatist
nature of Christian Science. More than almost any other of its cults it
separates its followers from those who do not belong to the cult. They
cannot, naturally, attend churches in which the reality of disease is
recognized; they must have their own nurses as well as their own
healers; in certain regions they must confine their reading to their own
literature; their children must be educated, on their religious side, in
their own cult schools and they cannot consistently associate themselves
with remedial movements which assume another philosophy as their basis.
It is difficult for a detached observer to see how a consistent
Christian Scientist reconciles the general conclusions of a modern
scientific education with the presuppositions of his cult. That he does
this is one more testimony to a power which indeed is exercised in many
other fields than the field of Christian Science to keep in the
practical conduct of life many of our governing conceptions in different
and apparently water-tight compartments.

_Christian Science Defines Disease as a Belief Which if Treated as an
Error Will Disappear_

The answer to such a line of criticism is, of course, in the familiar
Christian Science phrase that perfect demonstration has not yet been
achieved in the regions in which the Christian Scientist appears to be
inconsistent. But beyond this is the rather stubborn fact that in some
of these regions demonstration never will be realized; Christian Science
is confined to the field in which suggestion may operate. Mrs. Eddy is
most specific about diseases, concerning which the medical practice of
her time was most concerned and in the light of later medical science
most ignorant--fever, inflammation, indigestion, scrofula, consumption
and the like. These are all beliefs and if treated as error they will
disappear. Even death is a dream which mind can master, though this
doubtless is only Mrs. Eddy's way of affirming immortality. She hardly
means to say that death is not a fact which practically has to be
reckoned with in ways more final and unescapable than any other fact in
life. As Dr. Campbell Morgan once said: "If you have the misfortune to
imagine that you are dead, they will bury you."

Mrs. Eddy concludes her chapter on Christian Science Practice with an
allegory which she calls a mental court case, the suggestion of which is
to be found in one of the Quimby manuscripts.[58] Since this manuscript
is dated 1862 it anticipates Mrs. Eddy by almost thirteen years. The
setting is like the trial of Faithful and Christian in the town of
Vanity Fair as recorded in Bunyan's "Pilgrim Progress." Doubtless
memories of Mrs. Eddy's reading of that deathless allegory are
reproduced in this particular passage which the author is inclined to
believe she wrote with more pleasure than anything else ever turned out
by her too facile pen. Personal Sense is the plaintiff, Mortal Man the
defendant, False Belief the attorney for Personal Sense, Mortal Minds,
Materia Medica, Anatomy, Physiology, Hypnotism, Envy, Greed and
Ingratitude constitute the Jury. The court room is filled with
interested spectators and Judge Medicine is on the bench. The case is
going strongly against the prisoner and he is likely to expire on the
spot when Christian Science is allowed to speak as counsel for the
defense. He appeals in the name of the plaintiff to the Supreme Court of
Spirit, secures from the jury of the spiritual senses a verdict of "Not
Guilty" and with the dismissal of the case the chapter on Christian
Science Practice ends.

[Footnote 58: "The Quimby Manuscripts," p. 172.]

_Christian Science Has a Rich Field to Work_

Now what can finally be said of the whole matter? In general, two
things. Recognizing the force and reality of psycho-therapy Christian
Science gets its power as a healing system from the great number of
people who are open to its appeal and the shrewd combination of elements
in the appeal itself. In spite of our great advance in medical knowledge
and practice and in spite of the results of an improved hygiene there
remains in society at large a very great deposit of physical ill-being
sometimes acute, sometimes chronic, sometimes clearly defined, sometimes
vague, badly treated cases, hopeless cases and a great reach of cases
which are due rather to disturbed mental and moral states than to
ascertainable physical causes. Illness has its border-land region as
well as thought and the border-land faiths make their foremost appeal to
those who, for one reason or another, live in border-land physical

And, to repeat, the number of those who belong to this group is
unexpectedly large. Naturally such as these grasp at anything which
offers help; they supply to the manufacturer of cure-all drugs their
clientele; they fill printed pages with testimonials of marvellous cures
achieved where the regular medical faculty had been helpless; they crowd
about every faith healer; they are the comrades of the pilgrims to
Lourdes and Ste. Anne de Beaupré; they belong to the fellowship of those
who, in the Middle Ages, haunted shrines and sought out relics and asked
to be touched by kings. We discover their forebears in the pages of the
Gospels and as far back as any records go we see this long, pathetic
procession of the hopeless or the handicapped seeking help. And again
and again they get it, for we have also seen that, given faith enough
either in a saint or a shrine or a system, psycho-therapy with certain
subjects and in certain cases does heal. But this type of healing
depends upon no one philosophy or no single force except indeed those
obscure forces which are released by suggestion.

While this was being written certain evangelistic faith healers in the
city of Detroit were sending out broadsides of testimonials to their
healings, as definite in detail as the testimonials in "Science and
Health," or the _Christian Science Journal_, and yet the basal
principles by which these men have claimed to work are as different from
the basal principles of Christian Science as east is from west. While
this is being revised Coué, the apostle of suggestion according to the
Nancy school, is besieged in New York by those who have been led to hope
for healing through the success of his method. Whether the relic be true
or false does not matter if only the relic be believed in.

_One of the Most Strongly-Drawn Systems of Psycho-therapy Ever Offered_

Now Christian Science is one of the most strongly drawn
psycho-therapeutic agencies ever offered. Most faith healing systems
heretofore have depended upon some place, some thing, some healer. Here
is a system capable of the widest dissemination and dependent only upon
a book and its interpreters. It universalizes what has heretofore, for
one reason or another, been localized. It is shrewdly organized, as far
as propaganda goes, and effectively directed. It is widely advertised by
its friends--and its critics. Its temples, for beauty and dignity, put
to shame most Protestant churches. Its rituals combine in an unusual way
the simple and the dramatic. It is so fortunately situated as to be able
to keep finance--which is a trying element in Protestant Church life--in
the background. Its followers have that apostolic fervour which attaches
to movements sure of their divine commission and not yet much worn by
time. It possesses distinctly one of Sir Henry Jones' hall-marks of
religion. "It impassions the spirit of its disciples and adds
consequence to the things it sanctions or condemns."

It draws upon deeply established Christian reverences and faiths. It
secures for its authority the persistent but perplexed faith in the
Bible which the average Protestant inherits and for those who believe in
it the force of this authority is no wise weakened by the fact that by
every sound canon of Biblical interpretation it is illicit. Its very
dogmatism is an asset. It could not do its work if it were less sure.
The confusions of the systems which try the critically minded are a
contribution to the devout who find in them an added opportunity for
faith. Its experience meetings create enthusiasm and confidence. It is,
in short, more than any one of the movements we are here considering, a
clearly defined cult whose intensities, limitations and mystic
assurances all combine to produce among its disciples the temper most
favourable to suggestion and it locks up on its force as a system of

An accurate analysis of what it actually accomplishes would require an
immense and probably impossible labour--a knowledge of each case, an
accurate diagnosis when even for the trained diagnostician the thing is
difficult enough, and the following up of all reported cases. The
medical faculty would probably have done better to have taken such
movements as these more seriously and to have brought to them a trained
investigation which, except in the case of Lourdes, has never even been
attempted. Doubtless there is looseness and inconsistency in the whole
system. Almost any one who has had a practical observation of the
working of Christian Science has knowledge enough not only of looseness
and inconsistency but of what seems to the non-Christian Science mind
positive untruth. Something, however, must always be allowed here for
the way in which the mind acts under excitement and for the way in which
delusion deludes. All this combines to make any final judgment in this
region difficult, but there still remains, after all qualification, an
arresting solidity of achievement. Christian Science does work,
especially with the self-absorbed, the neurotic and those who have
needed, above all, for their physical deliverance, a new access to faith
and courage. Christian Science practitioners have also an unusual
opportunity in what may be called moral rehabilitation with physical
consequences. The physician has a better chance with the bodies of his
patients than with their souls; the minister a better chance with the
spiritual needs of his parishioners than with their bodies and habits;
the Christian Science practitioner to an unusual extent has the whole of
life under his control and it ought in all fairness to be conceded that
this power is helpfully employed.

The very discipline of Christian Science is itself a therapeutic. There
are really a good many things which become non-existent directly you
begin to act as if they did not exist. An atmosphere in which no one
refers to his ailment and every one to his well-being is a therapeutic
atmosphere. Psychologists have taught us that if we go through the
motions of being happy we are likely to have an access of happiness; if
we go through the motions of being unhappy we have an access of misery.
If we go through the motions of being well, very often we achieve a
sound measure of health.

_But it is Fundamentally a System of Suggestion_

All this has been so strongly dwelt upon of late as to make any extended
consideration of it unnecessary here, as indeed any extended
consideration is impossible for any one save a specialist. What we are
more concerned with is the way in which the discipline and philosophy of
Christian Science produce their results. The answer to this question is
as plain as anything can be in our present state of knowledge, for
essentially, as a healing force, Christian Science stands or falls with
the therapeutic power of suggestion. It is a strongly drawn system of
psycho-therapy because it is a strongly drawn system of suggestion. Its
suggestion involves assumptions which are sometimes philosophy,
sometimes theology, and more commonly a baffling interplay of the two.

But the outcome of it all is the practical persuasion on the part of the
patient that he is not sick and does not need so much to get well as to
demonstrate that he is well, and that in this demonstration he has an
absolute force on his side. To this end the whole body of affirmation,
persuasion, assumption, suggestion and technique of Christian Science is
directed. As one tries to analyze these separate elements they are,
taken singly, inconsistent, often unverifiable and often enough, by any
tests at all save the tests of Christian Science, positively untrue. But
as Mrs. Eddy has combined them and as they are applied in practice they
do possess an undeniable power. They are not dependent, as has been
said, fundamentally upon persons or things or places. Here is a coherent
system, the force of which may be felt when it is not understood and it
bears upon the perplexed or the impressionable with very great power. It
would be appreciably weakened if any one of its constituent elements
were taken out of it. But fundamentally it can do no more than any other
system of suggestion, unquestionably accepted, can do.

_It is Bound to be Affected by Our Growing Understanding of the Ranges
of Suggestion_

A deal of water has gone under the bridge since Mary Baker Eddy began
her work. What was then almost wholly involved in mystery is now
beginning to be reduced to law. The psychology of suggestion is by no
means clear as yet, nor are the students of it agreed in their
conclusions, but we do know enough about the complex character of
consciousness, the actuality of the subconscious and the reaction of
strongly held attitudes upon bodily states to be in the way, generally,
of freeing this whole great matter from the priest, the healer, the
charlatan or the prophet of strange cults and referring it hereafter for
direction and employment to its proper agents--the physician, the expert
in disordered mental conditions and the instructed spiritual adviser.

It is now generally agreed that suggestion, however induced, may
positively affect bodily function. If it is a wrong suggestion its
effects are hurtful, right suggestion its effects are helpful. Now since
a vast range of physical maladjustments--and this may be broadened to
include nervous maladjustments as well--is functional, suggestive
therapeutics have a far-reaching and distinct field. When Christian
Science or any other healing cult reports cures in this field, those
cures, if verified by sufficient testimony, may be accepted as
accomplished. Those who have accomplished them may take what credit they
will for their own agency in the matter, but for all that the cure is no
testimony at all to the truth or falsity of their system. It proves only
that those helped have believed it.

The matter of organic healing is more difficult. Medical Science does
not generally admit the possibility of organic change through
suggestion. There may be, however, a real difference of opinion as to
whether a particular trouble is functional or organic. Here is a
border-land not so much of fact as of diagnosis. A cure may be reported
as of an organic trouble when the basal diagnosis was wrong and it was
only functional, but the body possesses undoubtedly the power of
correcting or at least of limiting organic disease. Tuberculosis is an
organic disease but it is again and again limited and finally overcome
without the knowledge of the subject. Post-mortem examinations may
reveal scars in the lungs and so reflect processes only thus brought to

Whatever serves general physical well-being may greatly help the body in
eliminating disease and securing a going measure of physical health. In
such indirect ways as these suggestion may, therefore, while not acting
directly upon diseased organism, contribute most distinctly to arrest
organic disease. Thoughtful physicians are ready to concede this and
thus open a door for a measure of organic healing which technically
their science denies. A very revealing light has been let in upon this
whole region by hypnotism. Some of the students of hypnotism are
inclined to go as far as to admit organic change under hypnotic
suggestion. "Strong, persistent impressions or suggestions made on the
reflex organic consciousness of the inferior centers may modify their
functional disposition, induce trophic changes, and even change organic

[Footnote 59: Sidis, "The Psychology of Suggestion," p. 70.]

Christian Science, then, as a healing agency has a great field for there
are always folk enough to heal. It has a method, a discipline highly
effective in producing changed mental and spiritual states and,
strangely enough, it is all the more effective because it is so narrowly
true. Those to whom it makes its appeal are, for the most part, not
capable of analyzing through to their sources its fundamental
inveracities, nor would they be inclined to do that if they were able.
Its vagueness and its spacious rhetoric really give it power. It does
produce results and probably one case of physical betterment has a
prevailing power which a chapter of criticisms cannot overcome and, more
than that, one case of physical betterment may screen a dozen in which
nothing happened at all.

For Christian Science has in this region two alibis which can always be
brought into action, the most perfect ever devised. If it fails to cure
it is either because the one who was not cured lacked faith, or because
of the erroneous belief of some one else. A system which believes that
the toxic effect of poisons depends upon the vote of the majority in
that arsenic will cease to be a poison when everybody ceases to think of
it as a poison and will be a poison as long as anybody believes it is,
is perfectly safe even if it should fail to cure a case of arsenical
poison, for until facts and experience cease to weigh at all there will
always be some one somewhere believing that arsenic is a poison and that
one will be the scapegoat for the system.

_As a Religion it is Strongest in Teaching That God Has Meaning for the
Whole of Life_

Christian Science is, however, more than a system of mental
therapeutics, it is also a religion and due allowance must be made in
any just appraisal of it for the way in which it has made religion real
to many for whom religion had ceased to have a working reality. It needs
to be said on one side that a good deal of Christian Science religion is
really taking the Ark of God to battle, using religion, that is, for
comfort, material prosperity, health and just such tangible things. But
Christian Science meets a demand of the time also just here. Our own
age, deeply entangled in material satisfactions, has no mind to postpone
the satisfactions of religion to a future life. The monk and, indeed,
the generality of the devout in the medieval Church sought in
self-limited earthly joy a proper discipline for the soul and a state in
contrast to which the felicities for which they paid so great a price
should be the more welcome. The devout of Mary Baker Eddy's time, though
inclined to find in material well-being a plain mark of divine favour,
none the less accepted sickness and sorrow as from the hand of God and
prayed that with a meek and lowly heart they might endure this fatherly
correction and, having learned obedience by the things they suffered,
have a place amongst those who, through faith and patience, inherit His

But our own time is not so eager to inherit promises as to enter into
possession. A religion which does not demonstrate itself in actual
well-being is under suspicion. The social passion now much in evidence
among the churches grows out of this as well as the many cults which
seek the proof of the love of God in health, happiness and prosperity.
And indeed all this is natural and right enough. If religion be real the
fruits of it should be manifest, though whether these are the more
significant and enduring fruits of the spirit may be questioned. A
religion which demonstrates itself in motor-cars and generous incomes
and more than comfortable raiment may be real enough to those who
profess it, but its reality is not quite the reality of the religion of
the Sermon on the Mount.

Christian Science is in line with a distinct contemporaneous demand to
demonstrate God's love in about the terms of Jacob's famous vow at
Bethel--"If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go,
and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on so that I come again
to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God." This is a
far cry from the noble protestation of Job which sounds still across the
years: "Though he slay me, still will I trust in him."

And yet the more sensitive and richly endowed among the followers of
Mary Baker Eddy have found in Christian Science other values than these.
They have passed, by a sort of saving instinct, beyond its
contradictions and half-truths to what is centrally best in the whole
system. God, that is, has a meaning for life not hereafter but now, not
in creeds but in experience, not alone in hard disciplinary ways, but in
loving and intimate and helpful ways. True enough, this is no monopoly
of Christian Science; Christianity holds this truth in fee simple. But
unfortunately, in ways which it is perfectly possible to trace, the
great emphases of Christianity have in the past been too largely shifted
from this.

There has been and still is in most Protestant churches too much
reticence about the meaning of God for the individual life and maybe too
great hesitation in really using to the full the proffer of divine
power. The accepted understandings of the place of pain and suffering in
life have been, as it were, a barrier between the perplexed and their
God; His love has not, somehow, seemed sufficiently at the service of
men, and though Christian Science secures the unchallenged supremacy of
the love of God by emptying it of great ranges of moral meaning and
shutting away therefrom all the shadowed side of life, it has probably
justified the love of God to multitudes who have, for one reason and
another, heretofore questioned it and they have discovered in this
new-found sense of God's love and presence, a reality and wealth of
religious experience which they had never known before.

_It Exalts the Power of Mind But Ignores Too Largely the Processes by
Which Mind Realizes Its Ideals_

There is also in Christian Science practice and philosophy the
apprehension of a real truth which New Thought formulates much more
clearly. Mind is creative. (Not alone mind with a capital "M" but our
own every-day, human, small "m" mind.) The trouble is that Christian
Science hopelessly short-circuits the creative process. Our human world
is finally what we make it through our insight, our understanding and
above all by our sense of values, but the actual achievement of changed
purposes in a changed world is a process whose immensity is not even so
much as hinted at in "Science and Health." Christian Science too largely
ignores and seems commonly to deny the whole disciplinary side of life
with its inevitable accompaniment of failure, fault and pain. Pain is no
delusion; pain is the sign of something gone wrong in the great business
of normal physical life. Nor is sin only an unreality which "seems real
to human erring belief"; sin is a sign that something has gone wrong in
the struggle for a normal, disciplined, moral life. Nor is the whole
body of evil simply a shadow to be dismissed as easily as one turns
one's back upon some darkness and faces toward the light; evil is the
sign of something gone wrong, or something not yet attained in the
massive progress of a humanity which combines in itself so many
discordant elements, which has so long a way to go and so much to learn
and so many things to conquer as it struggles upward toward a happier

Christian Science cannot in the end be true to the great facts of
experience, which have a power beyond the force of any assertion to
countervail, unless it is false to Mary Baker Eddy's philosophy, nor can
it be true to its philosophy without impoverishing moral and spiritual
endeavour. It is hard to find a place in the system--taken rigidly--for
sympathy or tenderness or the richest of human qualities, or for those
elements of wealth in character contributed by pain bravely borne or
sorrow uncomplainingly accepted. There is little place in Christian
Science for the Beatitudes and less still for that fine courage which is
itself the one assured victory which the hard beset may win on any field
of battle. The writer believes that while this severe judgment is
justified by "Science and Health," it is not justified by the practical
outcome of the cult in the lives of many of its disciples. They are in
devotion and kindness the equal of many in the Church and superior to
some. Their loyalty to their Church rebukes a good deal of orthodox
easy-going. All of which proves at least that life is bigger than our
theories about it and in the end subdues those who would make the best
of it, to communities of experience and understanding in which we are
all strangely kin. For, after all, unpleasant things cannot be thought
out; they must be fought out and dug out and lived out. The whole
redemptive force of society in thoroughgoing and far-reaching ways must
be brought to bear upon the very sources of all the evil side of life,
and the bare philosophy of Christian Science is not equal to this task.

_Is Not Big Enough for the Whole of Experience_

It is doubtful if Christian Science has ever made an appreciable change
in the mortality statistics of any city and yet if the Public Health
Department were to permit for forty-eight hours the milk or water supply
of a city to be polluted, statistics would disclose that within ten
days. This is only an illustration but it does illustrate. We must work
if we are to dig up the roots of evil things and get a better growth in
their stead and anything which attempts to substitute for this a denial
of the reality of the evil, a mystical religious attitude and a mere
formula of faith, no matter how oft repeated or how sincerely accepted,
or indeed no matter how efficacious in certain selected regions among
certain selected groups, is on the whole not a contribution to human

Very likely Mrs. Eddy's followers in the practical conduct of their
lives are already recognizing this and gradually, and maybe
unconsciously, adapting themselves to it. There are already signs of
certain processes of conformity to the necessities of experience; these
are likely to go farther. If Christian Science follows the history of
such movements in the past, it will, after having made its own distinct
assertion of whatever measure of truth it contains, be gradually swept
back into the main current of religion and practice. It will maintain a
nominal distinctness, but in the general conduct of life it will lose
its more outstanding characteristics and become largely a distinction
without a difference. Milmine, in her thoughtful criticism of Christian
Science at the end of her history says that the future of Christian
Science stands or falls with psycho-therapy.

That is true only on the one side. As far as Christian Science has true
religious insights and approaches it will go on in spite of what happens
to psycho-therapy, though there is enough in psycho-therapy to assure
its future within well-defined regions if that were all. Something
bigger than psycho-therapy will finally judge and dismiss Christian
Science to its own place--life and experience will do that--and it is
safe to say that in the end Christian Science will have to come to terms
with a truth bigger than its own, with a body of experience which cannot
be dealt with on the selective process of taking what you want and
denying the rest, and more than that, it will have to come to terms with
the whole great matter of an intellectual, moral and spiritual struggle
governed by law and conditioned by the vaster world of which we are a
part. This is not to deny that Christian Science and allied teachings
have made contributions of real value to our common problem. It is only
to affirm that here is something not big enough for the whole either of
truth or experience.



New Thought has been defined as "an attitude of mind, not a cult." It is
really both. It is necessary to include it in this study because it is a
cult; it is hard justly to appraise it because it is an attitude of
mind. Attitudes of mind are as elusive as the play of light on running
water. We can estimate their force and direction only as we have an
understanding of the main currents of thought by which they are carried
along and as far as New Thought goes these main currents are far older
than the cult itself.

_New Thought Difficult to Define; "An Attitude of Mind, Not a Cult"_

New Thought has never had an apostolic succession or a rigid discipline
or a centralized organic form. This has given to it a baffling looseness
in every direction, but has, on the other hand, given it a pervasive
quality which Christian Science does not possess. It has a vast and
diffuse literature and so merges into the general movement of
contemporaneous thought as to make it difficult to find anywhere a
distinct demarcation of channels.

New Thought is either a theology with a philosophic basis or a
philosophy with a theological bias. It is centrally and quite distinctly
an attempt to give a religious content to the present trend of science
and philosophy, a reaction against old theologies and perhaps a kind of
nebula out of which future theologies will be organized. For a great
theology is always the systematic organization of a complex of forces, a
massive structure wrought through the years by manifold builders
subduing a rich variety of material to their purposes.

The teaching of the Scriptures, old traditions, the needs of worship and
organization, political and social circumstances, changing moral ideals,
the trend of philosophies and sciences, the challenge of schisms and
heresies, the sanctifying power of blind custom and the mystical
authority of the Church itself all combine to make a theology. Once a
great theology is so constituted it possesses an immense power over
life. It shapes character and ideals and gives direction to faith,
orders effort and so becomes, as it were, a mould into which souls and
societies are cast.

Theologies may be changed, in fact they are always in the way of being
changed, but they yield slowly to transforming forces. Nothing is so
persistent as organized faith and yet the very strength of a great
theology is always its weakness. It is never really anything else than a
crystallization of past forces. The experiences which voice themselves
in theology have cooled and hardened down; the philosophy which is
implicit in theology is past philosophy; the science implicit in
theology is senescent science.

There is always in evidence, then, in the regions of theology a
disturbing pressure occasioned by the reaction of contemporaneous
movements in science and philosophy and understandings of life generally
upon these old and solidly established inherited forms. Currents of
thought are always, as it were, running past the great formulæ since
thought is free and formulæ are rigid, and then returning upon them.
From time to time this movement gathers great force. The old has been
rigid so long, the new is so insistent that the conflict between them
fills an age with its clamour, stresses souls to its travail, breaks
down ancient forms without immediately building up their equivalent, and
contributes uncertainties and restlessnesses everywhere in evidence.

Now this is exactly what has been happening in the region of religion in
the last thirty years. An inherited order, strongly fashioned and
organized and long essentially unchanged, has been compelled to take
account of the forces about it. Certainly theology is not so static as
an earlier paragraph would seem to indicate, none the less the great
theological centralities do possess an immense power of resistance. We
have already seen how little Protestantism had changed since the
Reformation until it met the full impact of modern science and
philosophy. We have had really until our own time and still largely
continue a theology with the Creation story of the ancient Hebrews, the
outlook upon life of the age of the Apostles, the philosophy of the
Greek fathers, St. Augustine's conception of human nature and the
expectation of the end of the world and the issues of history of the
Jewish apocalypse given a Christian interpretation.

True enough, there are in all this precious and timeless qualities but
there is also through all the fabric of our formulated faith the
interweaving of such understandings as those who shaped our creeds had,
of law and history and truth. Any far-reaching change, then, in
philosophy or science was bound to profoundly affect religion and even
forty years ago far-reaching modifications of the old order were

New Thought is just one outcome of the tremendous impact of
contemporaneous thought upon our inherited theology; a detached fragment
or rather group of fragments, for even as a cult New Thought, as has
been said, is loosely organized and its varying parts have in common
only a common drift. Yet that drift is significant for it has beneath it
the immense force of a philosophy which has been gathering head for more
than a century. It is to this, therefore, that we ought to address
ourselves for any understanding of the changed outlook upon life which
is carried, as it were, from the surface of profounder tides.

_"The Rediscovery of the Inner Life"_

Josiah Royce dismisses the whole of philosophy from Spinoza to Kant in
one single pregnant phrase. He calls it "the rediscovery of the inner
life." It is along this line that modern philosophy and religion
approach each other. Religion has always been the setting forth of the
inner life in terms of its relationship to God and the proofs of the
reality of religion have always been found in the experiences of the
soul. The mystic particularly made everything of the inner life; he
lived only in its realities. For the sake of its enrichment and its
empowerment he subjected himself to rigorous disciplines. Its
revelations were to him all sufficient, for having found God therein he
asked for nothing beside.

Wherein, then, is this new mysticism, or better, this new cult of the
inner life different from the old? It is not easy to answer that
question in a paragraph, though it is easy to feel the answer in any
comparison of the great classics of mysticism--which are mostly
spiritual autobiographies--and New Thought literature. To turn from St.
Augustine to Dresser, or from St. Theresa to Trine is to change
spiritual and intellectual climates. There is in the modern literature
little reflection of such spiritual struggle as fills the great
Confessions with the agony of embattled souls, nor any resolution of
such struggle into the peace of a soul "fully awake as regards God but
wholly asleep as regards things of this world and in respect of
herself." This testimony of St. Theresa is illuminating as a contrasting
background for New Thought. There the soul is very much awake, both as
regards things of this world and in respect of herself.

These new cults of the inner life are far more self-conscious than the
old and far more self-analytical. They seek to discern the laws in
answer to which they act and utilize those laws in the practical conduct
of life. They are always either appealing to underlying philosophies or
else trying to make a philosophy of their own. Mysticism made
everything of God and nothing of itself. It plotted its mystic way but
knew nothing of psychology. New Thought seeks to discover in psychology
a road to God. The centers of mysticism were emotional; the centers of
New Thought are intellectual. All these cults are far more akin to
Gnosticism than mysticism, though they are saved, yet not wholly, from
the lawlessness of Gnosticism by a pretty constant return to the
outstanding conclusions of science and philosophy.

_Spinoza's Quest_

Now if we seek to discover the real genesis of the movement and trace
its development we would better begin, so deep are the roots of things,
with Spinoza rather than Quimby. Here the deeper currents, upon the
surface of which New Thought moves, take their rise and here also we
return to Royce's phrase--"the rediscovery of the inner life"--and the
philosopher who inaugurated the philosophic quest for just this

Spinoza was one of the last of the mystics and the first of the modern
philosophers. He shared with the mystics of an earlier time a consuming
sense of the futility of life save as life perfected itself in
contemplations of an eternal excellency and communion with something far
greater than itself. "After experience had taught me," he says (and this
is quoted from Royce's "Spirit of Modern Philosophy"), "that all the
usual surroundings of social life are vain and futile, seeing that none
of the objects of my fears contained in themselves anything either good
or bad except in so far as the mind is affected by them, I finally
resolved to inquire whether there might be some real good which would
affect the mind singly, to the exclusion of all else, whether there
might be anything of which the discovery and attainment would enable me
to enjoy continuous, supreme and unending happiness."

Now there is in all this a strangely modern note--dissatisfaction with
what is offered by the commonplace and the accepted, a great emphasis
upon the mind as the key to the readjustments of life, a quest for some
single formula which would offer "continuous, supreme and unending
happiness." This is exactly what Mary Baker Eddy and all the other
perplexed and bodily broken "seekers" who gathered about Quimby were
really wanting and this is what, for one reason or another, the
proffered religious experiences of their time failed to secure them.
"This was, then," to quote Royce, "the beginning of Spinoza's Pilgrim's
Progress." (As indeed it is the beginning of every Pilgrim's Progress.)
"But now, for what distinguishes him from other mystics and makes him a
philosopher and not a mere exhorter, he has his religious passion, he
must reflect upon it ... the philosopher must justify his faith."

We have no need here to follow Spinoza along all the way, difficult and
misty enough, by which he sought to justify his faith. The outstanding
fact is enough. He is a mystic who reasons his way through where the
elder mystic has felt his way through, and the goal which he finally
reaches, though it be the goal which the earlier mystics had found by
other roads,--the loss of self in God--is none the less such an
achievement of reason as Spinoza was able to compass.

_Kant Reaffirms the Creative Power of Mind_

So this polisher of lenses bequeathed to the century which followed him
its greatest inheritance and set for it its greatest task: the inner
life as the supreme concern of the philosopher and the discovery of its
laws and the interpretations of its realities the supreme task of
philosophy. Those who continued his work began far enough, apparently,
from the point where he left off and went a road strangely remote from
his. Having taken the inner life for their study they sought to lay bare
its very foundations. Nowadays, if we are so minded, we dictate to
machines which write our words curiously enough in shallow lines upon
wax cylinders and when the cylinders are full shave off the fragile
record and begin again.

This is what the eighteenth century did for the mind. It reduced it to a
virgin surface, it affirmed the reality of nothing except the
impressions thereupon registered by what sense supplied. We owe to
experience and to experience only "all that vast store which the busy
and boundless fancy of man has painted on it [the white paper of the
mind] with an almost endless variety." We have nothing with which to
begin but sensation; we have nothing to go on with but reflection.
"These two, namely external, material things as the objects of
sensation, and the operations of our own minds within as the objects of
reflection, are the only originals from whence all our ideas take their
beginnings."[60] Such things as these are perhaps enough to begin with,
but they are not enough to go on with as our thinkers soon enough
discover. Some way must be found to relate the material thus supplied
and to build it up into a glowing, continuous, reasonable and conscious
inner life.

[Footnote 60: Locke, "Essay Concerning the Human Understanding."]

So in turn the philosophers laboured at their problem. They made much
not only of reflection but of association; they found a place for memory
and imagination; they discovered that we may as truly define experience
in terms of ideas as of sensation; they discovered finally that by no
possible process even of the most ingenious reasoning can you get the
full wealth of life out of a mind which was nothing more to begin with
than a piece of white paper, any more than you can get Hamlet (if we may
suppose Shakespeare to have used a dictaphone) out of a wax cylinder, a
needle and a diaphragm.

So Kant ended what Spinoza began, by reaffirming the creative power of
the mind itself. It does far more than passively receive, it interprets,
organizes, contributes, creates. True enough, it is not an unconditioned
creator, it has laws of its own in obedience to which it finds both its
freedom and its power. It must take the material which experience
supplies and yet, in its higher ranges, in the regions of conduct and
faith, that is, where conscience has become the guide and the
necessities of the soul the law, we do possess the power in
enfranchising obediences and splendid adventures of faith to make a
world rich in goodness, power and peace. And here, once more, there is a
strangely modern note. Life is a pilgrim's progress. We are set out to
discover "whether there might be some real good, the discovery and
attainment of which would enable us to enjoy continuous, supreme and
unending happiness." And we do possess the power within ourselves, if
only we may discover the controlling laws and release effective forces,
to come at least a stage nearer our goal. All this makes for that
exaltation of the creative self which is so marked a characteristic of
present-day attitudes and which is perhaps the distinctive affirmation
of New Thought.

_Utilitarianism, Deism and Individualism the Practical Outcome of a
Great Movement_

But it needed time for all this to work itself out. The philosophic
basis for it had been supplied but it is a far cry from philosophy to
the practical conduct of life. Kant's transcendental philosophy needed a
deal of working over before it became practicable for the man in the
street. And to begin with what was deepest in the philosophy of the
Enlightenment led in unexpected directions. "While the practical
tendencies of all speculative thought inevitably appear in the opinions
and customs of a general public far removed from their sources, it is
particularly true of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, that its
influences had no small part in shaping the popular point of view
concerning the moral, religious and political convictions of that
age."[61] Utilitarianism, Deism and Individualism were, says Hibben, the
popular and practical outcome of the whole movement,--Utilitarianism in
Ethics, Deism in Religion, Individualism in Politics. These three
growths--and they have borne a deal of bitter fruit in the last one
hundred years--grow out of one soil. In general they are due to Locke's
sensationalism, Hume's skepticism, a new emphasis upon reason as opposed
to revelation and the self-sufficiency of the individual. If conscious
life is nothing but sensation worked over and built up, then pleasurable
sensations are the best we can aspire to, happiness is the end of the
quest. So Utilitarianism defined goodness in terms of happiness and gave
to conduct generally a grasping, greedy quality for which we have paid
over and over again in the disappointments and disillusionments of an
age, which, supposing itself to have discovered the true secret of
well-being, found too much of its seeming happiness only Dead Sea fruit.

[Footnote 61: Hibben, "The Philosophy of the Enlightenment," p. 253.]

_They Bear a Bitter Fruit: the Reactions Against Them_

Deism in its reaction against Religion as merely revelation and in its
endeavour to find a rational basis for faith set God apart from His
world, detached, unheeding and offering no real recourse to a travailing
humanity between whom and Himself it built a rigid fabric of impersonal
law. The Individualism of the eighteenth century was partly a reaction
against old despotisms of Church and State--and a Declaration of
Independence. It was in part a pride of accomplishment and a new
affirmation of the self-sufficiency of the questing reason. There was in
it also a sound recognition of the worth of personality of which the
world then stood in need and which has since supplied a foundation for a
saving passion for education and human well-being. But Individualism as
practically applied by the first three-quarters of the nineteenth
century--unexpectedly reinforced as it was by aspects of
Darwinism--stressed the right of the strong and the doom of the weak. It
made competition the law of economic development, the survival of the
fittest the goal of a life of struggle.

Consciously or unconsciously the politics, industry and religion of the
nineteenth century were greatly influenced by these outstanding
conceptions. No need to say how utterly they have broken down. They have
made for the deepening strife of classes and of nations, they have
essentially defeated the bright promise of a time which seemed to have
more to hope for than almost any other great period of history.

And yet they were never unchallenged. They were challenged by the
essential spirit of Christianity; they were challenged by the poets who
found that they could shape no songs out of such stuff as this; they
were challenged by philosophers who sought to build for themselves and
for us a world more free and true; they were challenged by a group of
great novelists who created out of the wealth of their imagination
characters and situations in which love and human worth had their way
in spite of a thousand obstacles. They were challenged by prophets of a
better world, the Ruskins and Carlyles who soundly rated the ethics of
selfishness and the political economies of competition and the politics
of self-assertion and who stirred deeply the more sensitive of their
time. And finally they were challenged, and here we begin to approach
again the genesis of New Thought, by a philosophic movement which found
its point of departure in certain great aspects of earlier thinking
which had been much obscured by the difficult forms in which it had been
stated: the supremacy, that is, of the soul over all its surroundings.

Now this return to what we may call the creative and controlling power
of spiritual forces is the key to the modern approach to life. We do not
understand, it may be, the meaning of our own terms. Spirit is a vague
enough word but we do know that the initiative is with desire and
purpose and understanding. These are positive and masterful; they are by
no means free; they are conditioned by the vaster order of which they
are a part, none the less our human world is plastic to their touch and
our material world as well. Carlyle has chanted all this gustily enough
but there is kindling truth in his stormy music. "Thus, like some wild
flaming, wild thundering train of heaven's artillery does this
mysterious mankind thunder and flame in long-drawn, quick succeeding
grandeur through the unknown deep. Earth's mountains are levelled and
her seas filled up in our passage. Can the earth which is but dead in a
vision resist spirits which have reality and are alive?"

_New England Transcendentalism. Quimby Again and the Dressers_

Curiously enough this quotation from a book which nowadays nobody likely
reads save perhaps in some college course on early Victorian literature,
brings us within sight of the beginnings of New Thought. A little group
of English and American thinkers, part philosophers, part poets, part
rebels against the established order, anticipated trained students in
their return upon the higher and more positive side of an older
philosophy. They made much of the inner life, its powers and its
possibilities; they affirmed the creative power of the soul; they
conceived life to lie plastic to the touch of vision and desire; they
thought themselves to be standing upon the threshold of a new world.
They were impatient of discipline; they dreamed impossible things and
gave their dreams the authority of reality. They were hard enough to
understand and they sorely tried practical plodding folk, but they
kindled their time and released forces which are yet in action.

New England, through a group of adventurous thinkers of whom Emerson was
the most distinguished, responded strongly to Transcendentalism. Another
group, as has been said, responded strongly to mesmerism and spiritism,
which were also a part of the ferment of the time in which Christian
Science and New Thought (I use New Thought here in the technical sense)
find their source. And finally, Quimby, who is a rather unexpectedly
important link in a long chain,--important, that is, to the student of
modern cults--reacted against mesmerism, felt and thought his way toward
some understanding of the force of suggestion in abnormal states,
applied his conclusion to faith and mental healing and gathered about
him--as has been said before--a little group of disciples who have
between them released far-reaching movements.

Mrs. Eddy and the Dressers were the outstanding members of this little
group of disciples. Mrs. Eddy soon dissociated herself from the others
and she supplied in "Science and Health" a distinctive philosophy to her
movement. She organized it into a church; she imposed upon it a
distinctive discipline. No little of the power of Christian Science is
due to this narrow rigidity which is itself the projection of the
personality of Mary Baker Eddy. But Christian Science did not carry with
it the whole of the group which had come under Quimby's influence, nor
indeed all of those who came under Mary Baker Eddy's influence. There
was during all the formative period of these modern cults a perpetual
process of schism.

We have as a result, then, two divergent movements related in
underground ways, though as marked in difference as in resemblance, both
of them beginning about the same time, both of them reactions against
accepted religious forces and validations, both of them with a marked
therapeutic content, both of them adventures in the conduct of life.

In the summary which follows I am in debt to Dresser's recent "History
of the New Thought Movement." The name New Thought was chosen as the
title of a little magazine devoted to mental healing, published in 1894
in Melrose, Mass. "The term became current in Boston through the
organization of the Metaphysical Club in 1895. About the same time it
was used by Mr. C.P. Patterson in his magazine _Mind_ and in the title
of two of his books." Other names were suggested--in England, Higher
Thought; in Boston, Higher Life; in New York the little group was for a
time known as the Circle of Divine Ministry; in the west the movement
was known as Divine Science or Practical Christianity. There were groups
also which called themselves the Home of Truth or the Society of Silent

_New Thought Takes Form_

New Thought, as has been said, lacks the definite direction which
Christian Science has always had. Its organizations have grown up
quietly, more or less irregularly and have had always a shifting
character. "The first New Thought Society with a regular leader and
organization in Boston was the Church of the Higher Life established in
1894."[62] The Metaphysical Club was an outgrowth of the New Thought
group in Boston. Dresser gives a list of the original members, chiefly
significant through the presence among them of some of Quimby's
disciples and others whose books have since held a high place in New
Thought literature. There were manifest connections between the
movement and liberal (particularly Unitarian) theology.

[Footnote 62: All citations in this section are from Dresser's "History
of New Thought," unless otherwise indicated.]

The first New Thought convention was held in Boston in 1899 (there had
been earlier conventions of the Disciples of Divine Science--a related
movement--in western cities) and the second in New York City in 1900.
The New York convention was the first to make any general statement of
the "purposes" of the League. We find on the New York program one Swami
Abhedananda, lecturer on the Vedanta philosophy. Here is an early
indication of the return of Eastern religions upon the West which is
also one of the marked characteristics of the religious development of
our time. We do not need to follow through in detail the list of
successive conventions with their topics and their speakers. The group
is not so large but that the same names reappear. There are marked
attempts in the earlier conventions to associate leaders in recognized
schools of philosophy and theology with the movement. One does not
discover this tendency in the later convention lists.

The local groups throughout the country have had varying fortunes. They
have from time to time changed their names and naturally their leaders.
The west has responded perhaps more strongly than the Atlantic seaboard.
The movement is particularly strong on the Pacific Coast. There are no
available statistics and generalizations are of doubtful value. The
Cincinnati and Kansas City groups are offered by Dresser as typical
organizations, but they seem on the whole to be exceptional rather than
typical. The strength of the New Thought movement is not in its
organization but in its influence. "In England as in America interest
was aroused by Christian Science, then came a gradual reaction and the
establishment of independent branches of the movement." "It is
difficult," says Dresser, "to obtain information pertaining to the
influence of New Thought literature in foreign languages." The more
significant New Thought books, however, have been variously translated
and widely sold. New Thought leaders sometimes advise their disciples to
retain their old church associations and the movement has naturally
tended to merge in religious liberalism generally and to become only an
aspect of the manifold religious gropings of a troubled time.

In the Constitution and By-Laws of the New Thought Alliance, published
in 1916, the purposes of the society are "to teach the infinitude of the
Supreme One, Divinity of Man and his Infinite possibilities through the
creative power of constructive thinking and obedience to the voice of
the Indwelling Presence which is our source of Inspiration, Power,
Health and Prosperity." We discover here the same tendency toward the
deification of capital letters which we have already noted in Christian

_Its Creeds_

In 1917 the International New Thought Alliance went further than at any
other time before in the direction of a creed and set forth the
following series of affirmations: "We affirm the freedom of each soul
as to choice and as to belief, and would not, by the adoption of any
declaration of principles, limit such freedom. The essence of the New
Thought is Truth, and each individual must be loyal to the Truth he
sees. The windows of his soul must be kept open at each moment for the
higher light, and his mind must be always hospitable to each new

"We affirm the Good. This is supreme, universal and everlasting. Man is
made in the image of the Good, and evil and pain are but the tests and
correctives that appear when his thought does not reflect the full glory
of this image.

"We affirm health, which is man's divine inheritance. Man's body is his
holy temple. Every function of it, every cell of it, is intelligent, and
is shaped, ruled, repaired, and controlled by mind. He whose body is
full of light is full of health. Spiritual healing has existed among all
races in all times. It has now become a part of the higher science and
art of living the life more abundant.

"We affirm the divine supply. He who serves God and man in the full
understanding of the law of compensation shall not lack. Within us are
unused resources of energy and power. He who lives with his whole being,
and thus expresses fullness, shall reap fullness in return. He who gives
himself, he who knows, and acts in his highest knowledge, he who trusts
in the divine return, has learned the law of success.

"We affirm the teaching of Christ that the Kingdom of Heaven is within
us, that we are one with the Father, that we should judge not, that we
should love one another, that we should heal the sick, that we should
return good for evil, that we should minister to others, and that we
should be perfect even as our Father in Heaven is perfect. These are not
only ideals, but practical, every-day working principles.

"We affirm the new thought of God as Universal Love, Life, Truth, and
Joy, in whom we live, move and have our being, and by whom we are held
together; that His mind is our mind now, that realizing our oneness with
Him means love, truth, peace, health and plenty, not only in our own
lives but in the giving out of these fruits of the Spirit to others.

"We affirm these things, not as a profession, but practice, not in one
day of the week, but in every hour and minute of every day, sleeping and
waking, not in the ministry of the few, but in a service that includes
the democracy of all, not in words alone, but in the innermost thoughts
of the heart expressed in living the life. 'By their fruits ye shall
know them.'

"We affirm Heaven here and now, the life everlasting that becomes
conscious immortality, the communion of mind with mind throughout the
universe of thought, the nothingness of all error and negation,
including death, the variety of unity that produces the individual
expressions of the One-Life, and the quickened realization of the
indwelling God in each soul that is making a new heaven and a new

We discover in this creed a more distinct recognition of ideals and
truths which inherited Christianity supplied than in the earlier
statements of purpose. In the annual address of the President there is
distinct reference to the relation of the New Thought gospel to the
churches. "I am asked often: What is the relation of this movement to
the Church? This is not a new religion. It is not an institution seeking
to build itself up for the mere sake of the institution. We do not ask
anybody to leave the church. We ask them to become better members of
their churches than before. New Thought is designed to make people
better and more efficient in whatever relation of life they may find
themselves. In other words: 'New Thought teaches men and women only the
old common-sense doctrine of self-reliance and belief in the integrity
of the universe and of one's own soul. It dignifies and ennobles manhood
and womanhood.' The main idea on which Christianity is founded is that
of communion with God, that of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.
This is the very corner-stone of those modern movements that recognize
men and women as the living temples of the God within.... I predict that
this new interpretation and new understanding will become universal in
the new age which is now dawning."

A further paragraph, however, reveals the synthetic character of the
movement. "It is the realization in practical affairs of the teachings
not only of the Nazarene, but of every other great religious teacher
since the world began; for in their essence these teachings are
fundamentally alike; and the New Thought and other new spiritual
movements are but the efforts to apply, in our relations one with
another, these simple and sublime truths."

_The Range of the Movement_

I have quoted at length from these programs, affirmations and this one
address to indicate the range of the movement as it has found official
expression. We must look, however, to the literature of the movement as
a whole for a full understanding of its reach and influence. The
literature in general falls into three classes: (1) books concerned
mostly about healing; (2) books which instruct as to character,
spiritual states and fullness of life; (3) what one may call success
books which apply New Thought to business and the practical conduct of
life. The lines of demarcation between these three types of books is, of
course, not clear and there is a material which is common to all of
them, but the distinction thus suggested is real.

As a principle of healing New Thought differs from Christian Science in
almost the whole range of its assumptions. It does not deny the reality
of matter, not the reality of suffering, nor does it distinguish, as
does Christian Science, between the Divine Mind and the mortal mind.
There are, according to New Thought, healing forces which may be trusted
to do their remedial work in us, if only we surrender ourselves to them
and let them have their way. There is nothing in New Thought which quite
corresponds to the "demonstration" of Christian Science. It would seem
to an impartial observer that Christian Science asks of its disciples
an intensity of positive effort which New Thought does not demand.
Dresser, for example, believes all suffering to be the result of
struggle. Directly we cease to struggle we cease to suffer, provided, of
course, that our cessation is in the direction of relaxation and a trust
in a higher power. In some regions, however, Christian Science and New
Thought as therapeutic agents work along the same line, but where
Christian Science denies New Thought ignores. Here New Thought makes
more use of psychological laws; it follows James generally in its
psychology, as it follows Emerson in its thought of the over-soul,
though in this region Emerson's detached serenity of faith is given body
in an insistence upon the divine immanence for which New Thought is in
debt to the suggestions and analogies of modern science.

New Thought makes much of the shifting of attention and its disciplines
are rather the disciplines of the mystic than the disciplines of the
Christian Scientist. It seeks in substance to ascertain the laws of mind
in action and then, through the utilization of this knowledge, to secure
health, happiness and prosperity. It makes much, of course, of the
centrality of mind both in well-being and pain. It hardly goes so far as
to say that pain is an error in belief, but it does say that pain is a
matter of consciousness and that as we are masters of consciousness we
are masters of pain. It believes in thought transference and absent
treatment, but it is perhaps more conservative in the cases which it is
willing to undertake than Christian Science and recognizes the
limitations of the healer.

_The Key-Words of New Thought_

Its key-words are Harmony, Realization, Affirmation and Poise. Just here
New Thought is a strangely interwoven web. It makes much of "vibration"
and "friction." It is evidently under the spell of the wave theory of
light and heat. It is most dependable in its analysis and application of
laws of mental action, most undependable in trying to account for the
relation of mind to body and in its explanation of the physical
phenomena of disease. Fatigue, for example, "is evidently due to the
calling of power into a new direction. It [evidently the power] comes
into contact with dense matter, with an uncultivated portion of the
being, physical as well as mental, and meeting with resistance friction
of some sort is the natural result." One has only to compare a statement
like that with Cannon's careful study of bodily changes under emotional
states, to see the difference between speculation controlled by analogy
and the illuminating experimental methods of modern science.

When Dresser adds that "we shall eliminate disease not by fighting it,
not by studying its causes, or doctoring its physical effects, but by
seeing the wisdom of the better way," he is on dangerous ground, for if
we are not to study the causes of disease but to take as our guide the
serene generalizations of a speculative mind we are shutting in our
faces one of the doors by which we enter into that knowledge of the mind
of God, of which New Thought makes so much. How shall we know the mind
of God except as we ask endless patient and careful questions of every
revelation of the divine method, whether in sickness or health?

New Thought, however, takes a far more constructive view of suffering
than Christian Science. For New Thought suffering is at least
disciplinary and instructive: it compels reflection: it brings us to a
knowledge of the law. It is certainly, therefore, just and it may be
kind. Indeed, New Thought occasionally goes so far as to say that
suffering is also a revelation of love and must be so accepted and
entertained. Its general conclusions in this region are far more safe
than its insistence upon vibration and friction and its spacious

When Dresser says that there is a difference "between ignoring a
trouble, between neglecting to take proper care of ourselves and that
wise direction of thought which in no way hinders while it most surely
helps to remedy our ills," he is on perfectly safe ground. When he adds
that there is a strong reason for believing that "there is a simple,
natural way out of every trouble, that kind nature, which is another
name for an omniscient God, is ever ready to do her utmost for us" he is
speaking with a wise and direct helpfulness, though here as generally
New Thought errs on the side of too great a simplification. There is a
way out of every trouble but it is not always simple, it is often
laborious and challenging. We have accomplished marvels in the matter of
tropical sanitation but the way out has been anything but simple. It has
involved experimentations which cost the lives of physicians who offered
themselves for humanity as nobly as any soldier on any battlefield; it
involved the sweat of hard driven labour digging drainage ditches, the
rebuilding of the foundations of cities and a thousand cares and
safeguards. If New Thought wishes to dismiss such a process as this with
the single adjective "simple" it may do as it pleases, but this is not
simplicity as the dictionary defines it.

_Its Field of Real Usefulness_

All that way of thinking of which New Thought is just one aspect is
fatally open to criticism just here. It ignores the immense travail of
humanity in its laborious pilgrimage toward better things and it is far
too ready to proclaim short-cuts to great goals when there never have
been and never will be any short-cuts in life. None the less, trust and
quietness of mind and soul and utter openness to healing, saving forces
are immense healing agents and in its emphasis thereupon New Thought has
recalled us to that which in the very intensity of life's battles we are
in the way of forgetting. And beyond doubt, in that obscure range of
diseases which are due to the want of balanced life--to worry, fear,
self-absorption and over-strain--the methods of New Thought have a
distinct value.

In general, as one follows the history and literature of New Thought one
finds that, though it began with a group more interested in healing than
anything else, healing has come to play a progressively less important
part in the development of the movement and the larger part of its
literature deals with what one might call perhaps the laws of mental
and spiritual hygiene. The principles implicit in New Thought as a
healing cult carry of their own weight into other regions. It is
important enough to get well--that goes without saying--but it is more
important to keep well. Good health on the whole is a kind of
by-product. We suffer as distinctly from spiritual and mental
maladjustments as from physical. We suffer also from the sense of
inadequacy, the sense, that is, of a burdening disproportion between our
own powers and the challenge of life. New Thought has addressed itself
increasingly to such states and problems as this. Here it ceases to be a
cult or a method of healing and has become a most considerable influence
and here also it in general takes the direction of and is identified
with what is truest in the Christian religion, what is sanest and most
clear visioned in present-day thinking. The typical books just here are
Trine's "In Tune with the Infinite" and a similar literature.

_Its Gospel of Getting On_

Another application of New Thought is in the direction of personal
efficiency. There is a considerable literature in this region. It does
not specifically call itself New Thought but it is saturated with the
New Thought fundamentals and has distinctly the New Thought outlook.
Marden is the most popular and prolific writer in this connection and
the titles of his books are suggestive--"Keeping Fit," "Selling Things,"
"The Victorious Attitude," "Training for Efficiency," "Getting On,"
"Self-Investment," "Be Good to Yourself," "He Can Who Thinks He Can,"
"Character," "Opportunity," "An Iron Will." Something like this has, of
course, been done before but the modern efficiency literature moves
along a wider front than earlier books and makes a fuller use of the new
psychology. All this literature dwells strongly upon the driving power
of a self-assertive personality strongly controlled by will, single
visioned and master of its own powers. It suggests lines of approach by
which other people's wills can be overcome, their interest aroused or
their coöperation secured.

Quotation is almost impossible--there is such an abundance of material
and much of it is commonplace. It takes a deal of padding to make
shelves of books out of the familiar and generally accepted truisms
which are the "Sermon on the Mount" and the "Beatitudes" of this gospel
of personal efficiency. Keep fit, keep at it, assert yourself, never
admit the possibility of failure, study your own strength and weakness
and the strength and weakness of your competitor and success is yours.
Look persistently on the bright side of every situation, refuse to dwell
on the dark side, recognize no realities but harmony, health, beauty and

It is only just to say that success is generously defined and the
disciples of this New Thought are asked also to live in the finer
senses--the recognition of beauty and friendship and goodness, that
is--but on the whole the ideal character so defined is a buoyant
optimist who sells his goods, succeeds in his plans and has his own way
with the world. It is the apotheosis of what James called "The Religion
of Healthy-Mindedness"; it all fits easily into the dominant temper of
our time and seems to reconcile that serving of two masters, God and
Getting On, which a lonely teacher long ago thought quite impossible.

Naturally such a movement has a great following of disciples who
doubtless "have their reward." So alluring a gospel is sure to have its
own border-land prophets and one only has to study the advertisements in
the more generally read magazines to see to what an extent all sorts of
short-cuts to success of every sort are being offered, and how generally
all these advertisements lock up upon two or three principles which
revolve around self-assertion as a center and getting-on as a creed. It
would be idle to underestimate the influence of all this or, indeed, to
cry down the usefulness of it. There is doubtless a tonic quality in
these applications of New Thought principles of which despondent,
hesitating and wrongly self-conscious people stand greatly in need.

_The Limitations and Dangers of Its Positions_

But there is very great danger in it all of minimizing the difficulties
which really lie in the way of the successful conduct of life,
difficulties which are not eliminated because they are denied. And there
is above all the very great danger of making far too little of that
patient and laborious discipline which is the only sound foundation upon
which real power can possibly be established. There is everywhere here
an invitation to the superficial and, above all, there is everywhere
here a tendency toward the creation of a type of character by no means
so admirable in the actual outcome of it as it seems to be in the
glowing pages of these prophets of success. Self-assertion is after all
a very debatable creed, for self-assertion is all too likely to bring us
into rather violent collisions with the self-assertions of others and to
give us, after all, a world of egoists whose egotism is none the less
mischievous, though it wear the garment of sunny cheerfulness and
proclaim an unconquerable optimism.

But at any rate New Thought, in one form or another, has penetrated
deeply the whole fabric of the modern outlook upon life. A just
appraisal of it is not easy and requires a careful analysis and
balancing of tendencies and forces. We recognize at once an immense
divergence from our inherited forms of religious faith. New Thought is
an interweaving of such psychological tendencies as we have already
traced with the implications and analogies of modern science. The God of
New Thought is an immanent God, never clearly defined; indeed it is
possible to argue from many representative utterances that the God of
New Thought is not personal at all but rather an all-pervading force, a
driving energy which we may discover both in ourselves and in the world
about us and to which conforming we are, with little effort on our own
part, carried as upon some strong, compelling tide.

The main business of life, therefore, is to discover the direction of
these forces and the laws of their operation, and as far as possible to
conform both character and conduct, through obedience to such laws, into
a triumphant partnership with such a master force--a kind of conquering
self-surrender to a power not ourselves and yet which we may not know
apart from ourselves, which makes not supremely for righteousness
(righteousness is a word not often discovered in New Thought literature)
but for harmony, happiness and success.

_It Greatly Modifies Orthodox Theology_

Such a general statement as this must, of course, be qualified. Even the
most devout whose faith and character have alike been fashioned by an
inherited religion in which the personality of God is centrally
affirmed, find their own thought about God fluctuating. So great a thing
as faith in God must always have its lights and shadows and its changing
moods. In our moments of deeper devotion and surer insight the sense of
a supreme personal reality and a vital communion therewith is most clear
and strong; then there is some ebbing of our own powers of apprehension
and we seem to be in the grip of impersonal law and at the mercy of
forces which have no concern for our own personal values. New Thought
naturally reflects all this and adds thereto uncertainties of its own.
There are passages enough in New Thought literature which recognize the
personality of God just as there are passages enough which seem to
reduce Him to power and principle and the secret of such discrepancies
is not perhaps in the creeds of New Thought, but in the varying
attitudes of its priests and prophets. One may say, then, that the God
of New Thought is always immanent, always force and law and sometimes
intimate and personal. However this force may be defined, it carries
those who commit themselves to it toward definite goals of well-being.
The New Thought of to-day reflects the optimistic note of the scientific
evolution of a generation ago. It is not exactly "God's in His heaven,
all's right with the world," but it is the affirmation of streams of
tendency whose unfailing direction is toward happiness and success.

If an element of struggle be implied in the particular sort of salvation
which New Thought preaches, it is not at least clearly brought out.
There has been amongst us of late a new and a very dearly bought
recognition of the element of struggle which seems to be implicit in all
life. The optimistic evolutionary philosophy in which New Thought roots
itself is on the whole justified neither by history nor the insight of
those who have been most rich in spiritual understanding, nor, indeed,
by the outcome of that philosophy in our own time. The happy confidence
that we do not need to struggle, but rather to commit ourselves to
forces which make automatically for happiness and well-being, has only
involved us more deeply in a struggle where in some ways the smug
happiness and well-being of representative New Thought literature seem
more remote than ever.

This elimination of the element of moral struggle and the need for
deliverance which has so greatly coloured the older theologies gives a
distinct character to New Thought theology. There is no place in it for
a scheme of redemption; there is no place in it for atonement, save as
atonement may be conceived as a vicarious sharing of suffering incident
to all struggle for better things; there is no place in it for the old
anthropologies of Christian theology. It has on the whole little to say
about sin. Says Allen, in a very thoughtful short article on New Thought
in Hastings' "Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics," "New Thought
excludes such doctrines as the duality of man and God, miracles in the
accepted sense, the forgiveness of sins and priestly mediation. It seeks
to interpret the world and nature as science has recorded them, but also
to convey their finer and esoteric meanings to the human understanding.
The fundamental purpose of religion and science is the same--namely, the
discovery of truth." "New Thought does not teach the moral depravity of
man. Such thoughts demoralize and weaken the individual. Miracles, in
the accepted sense, New Thought does not conceive as possible in a
universe of law. The only miracles are phenomena not understood, but
nevertheless the result of law. It applies the pragmatic test to every
religion and philosophy. Are you true? What do you give to a man to
carry to his daily task?" "New Thought recognizes no authority save the
voice of the soul speaking to each individual. Every soul can interpret
aright the oracles of truth."

_Tends to Become a Universal and Loosely-Defined Religion_

Worship becomes, therefore, contemplation rather than adoration, and a
vast deal of the liturgical material which Christianity specifically has
heretofore supplied becomes useless for this cult. Christian hymnology
would need much editing before it would serve New Thought purposes; the
whole conception of prayer would need to be altered. Naturally, then, on
its more distinctly religious side New Thought is at once fluctuating
and incomplete. It is the proclamation, to quote one of its spokesmen,
of a robust individualism and, in the individual, mind is supreme. Right
thinking is the key to right living. New Thought affirms the limitless
possibilities of the individual. Here perhaps it is more loose in its
thinking than in any other region. It makes free use of the word
"infinite" and surrounds itself with an atmosphere of boundless hope as
alluring as it is vague.

The interest of New Thought is most largely in the present tenses of
life; its future in an eternal progress which should, of course, imply
immortality. New Thought is hospitable to truth from whatever source
derived. It is particularly hospitable to the suggestions of oriental
religions and, as far as it has taken form as a distinct religious
movement, it is becoming more and more markedly a kind of syncretism, a
putting together of religious elements drawn from widely universal
sources and it patently seeks nothing less than a universal religious
fellowship in which the values of all true faith are recognized and
which is to be under the control of what science has to say about the
world without and psychology of the world within. In a sentence New
Thought is an outstanding aspect of the unconquerably religious in human
nature, seeking to subdue to its own ends and inform with its own spirit
the new material which science, psychology and comparative religion have
put at our service in the last two generations.

If New Thought diverges from the accepted Christian theology in many
ways, it runs parallel in other regions with what is enduringly true in
the Gospels, and it runs parallel also with not a little of that
endeavour after theological reconstruction which is loosely known as the
New Theology. We are generally under a compulsion to reconstruct our
creeds and adapt our religious thinking to whatever is true about us in
our understanding of our world and its history and its mechanism and the
laws of our own lives. Theology must take account of a creative
evolution and a humanity which has struggled upward from far-off
beginnings along a far-flung front and the findings of Science and the
intimations of Psychology.

It will need a deal of pioneering to find roads through these new
regions and such adventurous souls as seek new paths, with a daring
disregard for ancient landmarks and a true passion to find religious
meanings in new facts and forces, are really serving us all. There is
the danger, however, that in the very freedom of their speculation they
may be too impatient of old experiences and hallowed certainties, for
these old experiences themselves are deeply rooted and testify to
realities which we may be compelled to let in by the window, once we
have put them out at the door.




_Historic Forces Carried Early Christianity West and Not East. The
Far-Reaching Results of This Process_

Christianity in its beginning belonged neither to the East nor the West;
it was born where they met and its subsequent development was greatly
governed by the direction of the dominant tides of historical
development. But from the beginning of the Christian era the main
currents of human action flowed West and they carried Christianity with
them. It is, therefore, outstandingly an occidental development. This is
not to minimize the influence of the East in the earlier phases of
Christianity. There was doubtless a measure of give and take, some
blowing of the winds of the spirit in changing directions across vast
regions and a confused time, which carried the germinal forces from one
religion to another. But in the main, Christianity, to use Gardner's
fine phrase, was baptized into the forms and forces of the West. I say
in the main, for Asia Minor was in the time of St. Paul the meeting
place of manifold religions and his first Gentile converts brought with
them into their new faith a very great deal of what their old faiths had
made them.

There was, generally, in the Apostolic world a very great longing for a
spiritual deliverance and a mystic temper which easily took over and
transformed those elements in Christianity which lent themselves to
mystic interpretations. Something of this we discover in the Pauline
Epistles themselves; Paul's use of the word "mystery" shows how he
adapted his teaching to the understanding of those to whom he addressed
himself. To quote Gardner: "In the growth and spread of popular
superstition, if we may call them by so harsh a name, we may well
discern a gradual preparation for Christianity.... These religions stand
toward Christianity, to continue my biological comparison, as the wings
of a penguin stand toward those of an eagle, and it is surely no slight
on Christianity to say that it met the blind longings of a pagan nation
and showed them a path toward which they had, for long generations, been
trying to find their way. The religious needs which were very
imperfectly met by the initiations and ceremonies and prayers of the
cults of the pagan saving deities found a complete and perfect
satisfaction from faith in an exalted Christ."[63]

[Footnote 63: "The Growth of Christianity," Gardner, p. 136. For fuller
treatment with suggestive detail see Fraser "The Golden Bough," chapter

Christianity could not do this really very great thing without at the
same time being affected by that which it, in a measure, took over and
completed. The influence of Asia upon Christianity is, therefore, a
very real influence. One can only wonder what would have happened had
the course of empire been East instead of West. Christianity might then
have been carried into India and China and through long centuries been
given so distinctly an oriental content as to have taken on a character
radically different from its Western form. But this did not happen. To
follow Gardner's figure still farther, it was baptized into Greek
philosophy and Roman imperialism and the power of the nascent nations of
western Europe, and into the medieval spirit, and so we have become its
heirs. More than that, the East took its own way, uninfluenced by the
West, until two entirely different types of culture, civilization,
religion and approach to reality had been developed, as far apart as the
East is from the West, and each, until almost our own time,
substantially uninfluenced by the other.

_The West Rediscovers the East; the East Returns Upon the West_

Given the contacts of the modern world this massive isolation of
cultures could not continue. The East and the West were bound to meet
and religion was bound to be affected by their meeting. Western
Christianity has for more than a hundred years now been sending its
missionaries to the Orient and oriental religions are beginning to send
their missionaries to the West. More justly the return of the East upon
the West is not so much in a missionary propaganda, though there is a
measure of that, as in a more subtle indoctrination of Western
speculation by the fascination and mystery of the Eastern cults. It is
not possible to follow this process in detail but it has gone on long
enough now for us to begin to see the outcome of it and to appraise its
force. It began with New Thought. One discovers oriental names on the
programs of New Thought conventions; the Vedanta Philosophy was
expounded by East Indian speakers at the Greenacre conference in Maine
in the late nineties; B.F. Mills was lecturing on Oriental Scriptures in
1907; and a lecture on the Vedanta Philosophy appears on the program of
the second convention of the International Metaphysical League held in
New York City in the year 1900. The New Thought movement in England
naturally reflected the same tendency to look for light to Eastern
speculation even more markedly than the American movement.

All this was natural enough because New Thought, once divorced from
inherited Christianity and committed to pure speculation about the
sources and meanings of life, was sure to find out that the Orient had
been doing just this for a thousand years. Two things happened. First,
New Thought welcomed Eastern teachers to its conventions in the hope of
receiving thereby some measure of enlightenment, and second, many of
these seekers, finding that the East had a wealth of speculation
compared with which the West is poor indeed, took over the Eastern cults
bodily, gave themselves up to their study and became their ardent
devotees and missionaries.

Generalizations are always dangerous and though the East has, until the
West began to exploit it, remained practically unchanged, the West has
changed so often that whatever one may say about it must immediately be
qualified. But, on the whole, Eastern and Western life are organized
around utterly different centers. The West in its present phase is
predominantly scientific. Our laboratories are perhaps the
distinguishing hall-mark of our civilization. We are always asking
questions of the outside world; we are hungry for facts; we are always
seeking to discover the law and direction of physical force; we have
taken small account, comparatively, of our own inner states, but we have
taken immense account of the universe of which we are a part and the
forces which play around us. Our realities are what we touch and see. We
have given to our sight an immense increase of searching power through
the microscope and telescope, but we are slow to venture beyond what
they reveal to us. We have increased the sensitiveness of our touch
through the instruments of our laboratories. We have organs to sensibly
register the vibrations of an etheric force and even to weigh light. But
we are slow to recognize any range of reality not thus revealed to us.

We have gained in such ways a really illuminating understanding of the
physical universe; we have formulated its laws, chronicled its sequence
and made it in a marvellous way the instrument of our material
well-being. If we have speculated at all it has been rather in the
direction of the ultimate nature of matter and force, as these have
supplied us material for speculation, than in any other direction. We
have been generally and soundly suspicious of conclusions which cannot
be verified by the scientific method, and so have built about ourselves
restraining limitations of thought which we are wholesomely unwilling to
pass. We have found our real joy in action rather than meditation. Our
scientific achievements have supplied material for our restless energy
and our restless energy has urged us on to new achievement.

True enough, there has been of late signs of a changing temper. We are
beginning to discover that science has marked limitations; there are
ranges of reality of which our laboratories can make no possible report
which we are beginning to take into account. But in a large way the
matured Western outlook upon life has been conditioned by the scientific
interpretation of the universe.

_Chesterton's Two Saints_

The East has taken an entirely different line; its laboratories have
been the laboratories of the soul. The East has had little concern about
outside things; it has had an immense concern for its own inner life.
The East has made little attempt to master outer forces; it has been
generally content to let them have their way with it, realizing, maybe,
that after all what the outside world can do for the inner life is
negligible compared with what the soul can do for itself. Race and
climate and the sequence of history have all conspired to produce this
temper. The history of the East is a strange combination of drive and
quiescence; its more vigorous races have had their periods of conquest
and fierce mastery, but sooner or later what they have conquered has
conquered them and they have accepted, with a kind of inevitable
fatalism, the pressure of forces which they were powerless to subdue to
their own weakening purposes. They have populated their lands to the
limit and accepted the poverty which a dense population without
scientific resource, on a poor soil and in a trying climate, inevitably
engenders. The more helpless have fallen back upon fate and accepted
with a pathetic resignation their hard estate, asking only to be freed
from the weariness of it. "It is better," says an Eastern proverb, "to
sit than to stand, it is better to lie than to sit, it is better to
sleep than to lie, and death is the best of all."

There is an immensity of weariness and disillusionment in such an
interpretation of life, which needs no comment. But the Eastern mind is
subtle and speculative, possessing a peculiar penetrating power; and,
for the want of any other field in which to act, it turned in upon

Chesterton has both hit and missed the immense difference between the
East and the West in one of his brilliant paragraphs.[64] "No two ideals
could be more opposite than a Christian saint in a Gothic cathedral and
a Buddhist saint in a Chinese temple. The opposition exists at every
point; but perhaps the shortest statement of it is that the Buddhist
saint always has his eyes shut, while the Christian saint always has
them very wide open. The Buddhist saint has a sleek and harmonious
body, but his eyes are heavy and sealed with sleep. The medieval saint's
body is wasted to crazy bones, but his eyes are frightfully alive. There
cannot be any real community of spirit between forces that produced
symbols so different as that. Granted that both images are
extravagances, are perversions of the pure creed, it must be a real
divergence which could produce such opposite extravagances. The Buddhist
is looking with a peculiar intentness inwards; the Christian is staring
with a frantic intentness outwards. If we follow that clue steadily we
shall find some interesting things."

[Footnote 64: "Orthodoxy," p. 243.]

But to follow Chesterton's own method, the saint with the open eyes may
still be blind while the saint with his eyes shut may really see a vast
deal, and the East has seen much. Whether what it sees be true or not,
is another matter, but there is no denying the range of his conjecture.
The Eastern saint has sought to answer for himself and in his own way
those compelling questions which lie behind all religion--Whence? and
Whither? and Why? He, too, has sought to come into right relations with
the power which manifests itself in the universe and he has sought, with
an intensity of effort to which the West is strange, for a real
communion with the power he has discovered. And above all, he has sought

_Why the West Questions the East_

He has not been so conscious of the need of forgiveness, since
forgiveness plays no great part in his understanding of the sequences of
life, but he is anxious enough to be set free from pain and weariness
and at his best he has traced the relation of moral cause and effect far
more analytically than his Western brother. He has, indeed, introduced
greatly speculative elements in his balancing of life's accounts, but
the West has done that also, for the accounts of life persistently
refuse to be balanced unless something beyond ordinary experience is
taken into account. The longing of the East for deliverance has, on the
whole, however, been less theological and more simple than the longing
of the West. The West has been led to turn to the East for teaching and
deliverance through a combination of forces. I have noticed already the
very direct way in which New Thought, once committed to free speculation
about life and God, found congenial guidance in the Eastern cults, but
other elements enter. The West has begun to share something of the
disillusionment of the East; so many things which promised to deliver us
have seemingly failed us. Our sciences have immeasurably enlarged our
knowledge and increased our power; they have added to our material
well-being; they have worked their miracles for us; but they have
brought us neither peace nor true happiness. They have instead added
their own disturbances to our other perplexities and they have
ultimately simply extended the frontiers of the mysterious and given a
new and vaster quality to our problems.

Our democracies and our humanitarian movements have shown us that the
keys both to liberty and progress are still in human nature and not in
forms of organization and government. As our civilizations have grown
older and particularly as they have wasted themselves in war, some
shadow of the age-old weariness of the East has begun to fall across our
Western world. We have also reacted strongly against materialism in
thought and life; we have begun to see, as has been said, how the need
and force of personality have the right to assert themselves against the
dominance of things. We are beginning to recognize the right of religion
and philosophy to suggest terms to science, and all these tendencies
have combined to produce a considerable group of people who, having
found, for one reason or another, no real satisfaction in their
inherited Christianity, have welcomed the Eastern solution of the
problems of life, or else have positively turned to the East in the hope
of discovering what Western Christianity has not been able to give them.
One should add also that the pure love of speculation which is one of
the phases of modern thought has made an opening in the West for the
East. If unlimited speculation is the main business of life, the East
has certainly everything to offer us, and for warning, as we shall
presently see, as well as for guidance.

_Pantheism and Its Problems_

The older Eastern religions are, to begin with, Pantheistic. We have
seen how religion generally in its development takes form and content
from its governing conception of God. We have seen also that there are
three governing conceptions of God: He is conceived as Transcendent or
Immanent, or else He is simply identified with the range and force of
the universe. Pantheism is generally the creation of brooding wonder and
uncritical thought; Pantheism feels rather than thinks; it accepts
rather than seeks to explain. It may be devout enough but its devotion
is passive rather than active. Pantheism is never scientific in the
accepted sense of that term; it has little concern for law; it explains
by personalizing the forces with which it has to deal; it is akin to the
temper which finds some animating spirit in all natural phenomena. The
flow of waters, the growth of things, the drift of clouds across the sky
are all, for Pantheism, simply the revelation of the action of some
indwelling spirit or other, without which they could neither exist nor
go on.

At its worst Pantheism issues in a grotesque mythology and an
inconceivable multiplication of divinity; the gods in the Hindu Pantheon
are numbered by the thousands. At its best Pantheism issues in a kind of
mystic poetry and creates a devotee sensitive as Tagore to the fugitive
gleams of beauty through the murk of things, voicing his prayers and
insights in rare phrases which are, on the whole, in arresting contrast
to the actuality of life about him. Western devotion has been caught by
the mystic and poetical character of Pantheism and is, on the whole,
strangely blind to its actual outcome in the life of its devotees.

We all feel the suggestion of it in certain of our tempers. If we should
take out of much of our finest poetry suggestions akin to the
suggestions of Pantheism at its best, we should leave even Western
poetry strangely poor, and we have beside, particularly in the
contemplation of rare natural beauty, a feeling of kinship with the
spirit which clothes itself in dawn and twilight, or speaks through the
rhythmic beat of sea waves, or lifts itself against the skyline in far
blue mountain summits, which helps us to understand this old, old faith.
And if modern cults had done nothing more than appropriate the poetry of
Pantheism they would have lent only a touch of oriental colour to the
somberness of Western life.

But Theosophy and kindred cults have gone farther, since Pantheism
itself must go farther. Directly you have identified creation and the
creative power so intimately as Pantheism does, then you are under
bonds, if you have any curiosity at all or any speculative force, to try
to explain the ways in which a God, who is just to begin with all that
there is, has managed to reveal Himself in such an infinitude of minute
and sometimes ungodlike ways. So Pantheism has its own scheme, not of
creation, for there is no place in Pantheism for creation, but rather of
emanation. Eastern thought substitutes for the cosmogony of the Old
Testament which simply carries the world back to a creative God and
seeks to go no farther, and for the methods of Western science which
carries creation back to ultimate force and is unable to go any farther,
an entirely different system.

_How the One Becomes the Many_

A paragraph in Mrs. Besant's "The Ancient Wisdom" (page 41) may help us
here. "Coming forth from the depths of the One Existence, from the One
beyond all thought and all speech, a Logos, by imposing on Himself a
limit, circumscribing voluntarily the range of His own Being, becomes
the manifested God, and tracing the limiting sphere of His activity thus
outlines the area of His universe. Within that sphere the universe is
born, is evolved, and dies; it lives, it moves, it has its being in Him;
its matter is His emanation; its forces and energies are currents of His
life; He is immanent in every atom, all-pervading, all-sustaining,
all-evolving; He is its source and its end, its cause and its object,
its centre and circumference; it is built on Him as its sure foundation,
it breathes in Him as its encircling space; He is in everything and
everything in Him. Thus have the Sages of the Ancient Wisdom taught us
of the beginning of the manifested worlds."

It is not, of course, fair to say that here is something entirely
different from the line of Western scientific and philosophic thought or
wholly alien to elements in modern Christianity.[65] The real problem of
modern Theism is to connect what science discovers with what faith
assumes. The broader generalization of science resolves action and
existence into the unities of an underlying and self-conserving force
which grows more and more subtle and tenuous as we follow it from
molecules to atoms, from atoms to eons and electrons, and even discern
beneath these something more impalpable than themselves, and there must
be some way in which a creative power conceived by faith in terms of
personality has released the forces which have built themselves into the
universe. The difference is, however, that Christian Theism refuses
completely to identify God and His universe.

[Footnote 65: Indeed this is a better commentary on the prologue to the
Gospel of John and certain passages of Colossians than most of the
orthodox theologies, and the self-limitation of God is the key to the
moral freedom of the individual.]

There is, after all, a profound distinction between creating and
becoming. Theosophy undertakes to explain for us how "the One beyond all
thought and all speech" has become us and our universe. It attempts also
to provide a way by which we, who are entangled, to our pain and sorrow,
in the web of things thus woven, may escape from it and lose ourselves
again in the One. It takes the wheel for its symbol in more senses than
one. Everything is a turning and returning and we ourselves are bound
upon the wheel, carried down or up and finally to be set free, only by
the acceptance of a certain discipline of life.

Theosophy, then, is both speculative and practical. Its speculations
take an immense range necessarily; it is no simple thing to follow the
One from the depths of His hidden existence to our earth-born lives and
the forces which flow about them. Only an expert deeply versed in
Eastern literature would be able to say whether Mrs. Besant follows her
Eastern masters faithfully in reporting their conclusions, but she has
plainly availed herself of many of the terms and suggestions of modern
science in interpreting them to us. If one could use a figure borrowed
from electricity, the One is "stepped-down" through a series of planes
and manifestations. Theosophy makes much of sevens--no use to ask
why--and bridges the gulf between ultimate and present realities by a
series of seven planes in which what is coarsest in the plane above
becomes the germ of what is finest in the plane beneath. Even so, the
One does not directly touch even the highest of these seven planes.
(Theosophy is, first of all, a study in descents and not in ascents;
ascent comes later.) There are between the One and the topmost plane
three emanations (but perhaps we would better let Mrs. Besant speak to
us herself): "The self-unfolding of the Logos in a threefold form: the
first Logos the root of all being, from Him the second manifesting the
two aspects of life and form, then the third Logos, the universal mind,
that in which all archetypically exists, the source of beings, the fount
of fashioning energies."[66]

[Footnote 66: "The Ancient Wisdom," p. 41.]

_Evolution and Involution_

It would seem to the uninitiated that all this is a kind of smoke-screen
of words to conceal our real ignorance of what we can never know and
really have no need to know. It is evidently just an attempt to bridge
the abyss between the immaterial and the material. If Theosophy wishes
to bridge this abyss with conjecture, well and good, but its conjectures
really leave us more deeply perplexed than we should be if we frankly
recognized and accepted the limitations of our ignorance. Once within
sight of the topmost of her seven planes, Mrs. Besant goes on a little
more definitely though she confesses "of what occurs on the two higher
planes of the universe, the seventh and the sixth, we can form but the
haziest conception." Each plane has what she calls its own "spirit
matter"; this spirit matter becomes coarser as we descend; each plane is
an emanation from the plane above it and the spirit matter of each plane
winds one more veil around those emanations of the immaterial One in
whom or which the whole process took its beginning.

Theosophy does not speak of evolution as it attempts to account for our
material world, it speaks of involution. Here it reverses what is most
distinctive in modern Western religious thought as far as modern Western
religious thought has accepted evolution. For us evolution, if we seek
to give it a Theistic content, is God making manifest, in the vast
ascent of form and existence, an always fuller revelation of Himself.
Our familiar phrase "the self-revelation of God" posits a power which
can never for a moment be contained in all that is, but which may always
be more clearly known as we follow His creative record from stage to
ascending stage. A grass blade is a richer revelation than a crystal, a
bird than a grass blade; personality is almost infinitely richer than
the lower forms, some personalities are more perfectly the instruments
of the divine self-revelation than others, and Christian faith accepts
in Jesus Christ the supreme self-revelation of God in terms of human

_Theosophy Undertakes to Offer Deliverance to the Entangled Soul_

But Theosophy reverses all this. As the One comes down from emanation to
emanation and from plane to plane He is always more deeply entangled in
the veil of things, until on our last and lowest plane He is seven times
enwrapped and smothered. We must not, however, confuse this last and
lowest plane with our little world, or even our universe; these are but
sensible aspects of it and they are really the manifestation of the
deeply enwrapped Divine trying to struggle up and out again and so
building our realities about us and eventually bringing us, with all our
conscious powers, into being. (Here the theosophist has more in common
with the evolutionist than one or two of the preceding paragraphs would
seem to indicate.) If we follow the figure of the wheel our present
plane, the last and lowest of them all, is really the turning point of
the wheel; now it begins to turn back upon that from which it descended,
and according to Theosophy our practical human task is so to avail
ourselves of its upward movement as to be carried back with it toward
the high planes of perfect being.

Theosophy undertakes to account for personality as it accounts for our
sensible universe and along much the same line of speculation. Just as
the whole physical plane on which our world exists has really somewhere
deep wrapped up within it some emanation of the One from whom everything
flows out, so our true selves, which have really come down from the One
and should thence return, are wrapped up so deeply as also to be near
lost and smothered with, nevertheless, the power to get themselves
unwrapped. Our wrappings are our bodies, but we do not begin to
understand Theosophy if we think of body in the ordinary sense; our
physical body is only one and that the coarsest of the seven veils, for
there are seven here also, in which the true soul is enmeshed. We have
really seven bodies and we are not any one of them though each of them
is useful and each one of them puts us in touch with a certain order of
existence. Some of these bodies are mortal, others of them belong to the
truly enduring order.

Now we are lost here unless we recognize the profound difference between
all our usual ways of thinking or talking and the wisdom of Theosophy.
Theosophy begins at the top and comes down, at least until it reaches
our present world; it also begins at the inside and works out. We think
of our physical bodies as the instruments, on one side at least, through
which the physical world communicates with us, but for the theosophist
they are only instruments through which we communicate with the world.
Not quite so, however, for Theosophy recognizes the give and take of
experience. The soul may slip out of the physical body in sleep and
it--our physical body--is at the best a stupid, imprisoning, misleading
sort of a husk which has its practical uses but ought by no means to be
taken too seriously.[67] Its coarse matter may be refined by discipline
and diet and apparently the physical body of a vegetarian is a finer
instrument than the physical body of one who feeds on the flesh of

[Footnote 67: For a striking modern phrasing of this see Edward
Carpenter's Free Verse "The Stupid Old Body."]

_But Becomes Deeply Entangled Itself_

The physical body has also an etheric double which duplicates in a more
subtle way the constitution of the physical body. This is the vehicle of
the life force, whatever that means. The physical body and its double
are in a rough way the vehicles of the give and take of physical
existence, but for the experiences of pain and pleasure and for the
dwelling place of the passions, desires and emotions, we have an astral
body. Here the theosophist makes much use of vibrations and colours, and
apparently our changing play of emotion is reflected in a play of colour
which puts the chameleon to shame and makes us in our most excited
moment rivals of the rainbow itself. The astral body shows upon occasion
browns, dark reds and greens and their combinations, lit from time to
time with flashes of scarlet. Our better feelings reveal themselves in
finer colours; rose indicates love, blue, religious feeling, yellow,
intelligence, and violet, spirituality. The Theosophist believes that we
can be trained to see all this and illustrates it in coloured plates
which are, to the uninitiated, not over convincing. Beside the body of
physical existence and the astral body we possess also a mental body.
This is the seat of thought and mental action. In a sentence, maybe, the
theosophist is trying to say that we have a body for each phase of
personality through which we come into contact with the finer realities
of the ascending planes of existence, and that the matter of these
bodies is more subtly refined as we pass from mere sensation to higher
spiritual states.

So within the astral body there is the mental body which, says Mrs.
Besant, is of finer material than the astral as the astral is finer than
the physical. This is the body which answers by its vibrations to our
changes of thought. The mental body may be refined by fitting
disciplines as it is coarsened by evil thoughts. These thoughts may
become "veritable diseases and maimings of the mental body incurable
during its period of life." These bodies we discard in due time, the
physical at death and the astral when ready to enter the heaven world.
What becomes of the mental body Mrs. Besant does not say.

Beyond these are bodies which belong to man's timeless existence,
curiously named and obscurely defined. There is apparently a causal body
which is possibly the vehicle of will and, more involved still, a
super-spiritual body which is the reality of God deep within us, and the
carrier and vehicle of our supreme and enduring personal values. All
this is a curious enough mingling of psychology, a subtle materialism,
and unbounded speculation; it is equally beyond proof and denial, though
for the proof of it the theosophist offers the testimony of those whose
senses are so refined by peculiar disciplines as to see in and about
physical form a play of light and colour which are themselves the
revelation of mental and emotional states. We literally go about,
according to this testimony, "trailing clouds of glory" or of gloom.
While for the denial of it there is the deep-seated protest of Western
reason, that personality, complex as it is, cannot possibly be so
bafflingly complex as this.

_The West Accepts Suffering as a Challenge and Looks to Personal
Immortality for Victory_

We are, therefore, according to the theosophist, emanations from the
Divine; deeply enveiled and much enshrouded within us is a timeless and
changeless self descended from the mysterious All which lies back of all
things and under high compulsion to seek again, in some vast turning of
the wheel of Being, that from which we sprang. Theosophy becomes more
understandable in its practical reaction upon life, for this many veiled
self is deeply involved in forces and states to which it is not really
akin, and since it suffers greatly in being so involved the end of
existence is, in discipline and ascent, to be set free from the pain and
weariness of conscious existence, and to be absorbed in the changeless
peace of that ultimate reality out of which we have issued and back
again to which we are destined to go. We cannot be insensible to the
vast scope of such a speculation as this for in one form or another
there are, in all religion and in the deeper yearnings of life, elements
akin to it.

The order of which we are a part bears hard upon the soul. No one who
meditates deeply upon the strangeness of human destiny can fail to
recognize the arresting estate of sensitive personality enmeshed in laws
and forces which drive on with so little apparent consideration for
those who are caught in the turning of their wheels, or ridden down in
their drive. Western faith has generally seen in this situation a
challenge to personality to assert its own supremacy over the impersonal
and subject its encompassing order to the high purposes of the soul. If
we are wounded in the fight we take our wounds as good soldiers; if the
forces which face us are challengingly strong we fall back upon our
deeper resources and in the end assert our own vaster powers.

We accept the conditions of the struggle as a part of the discipline of
life and in our braver moments win from the fight itself those elements
of personal steadfastness which, matured in character, give moral
meaning to the endeavour, and though we anticipate an ultimate release
and blessed compensation for the present travail of our souls, we find
that release and those compensations in a personal immortality which
attends the termination of the individual life in the present order, and
continues that life conscious, free and triumphant in an immortal order,
and even there we ask neither to be released from effort nor denied
progress. We challenge the fortunes of the Unknown in the poet's phrase,
and seek "other heights in other lives, God willing."

_The East Balances the Accounts of Life in a Series of Reincarnations_

But just as the East casts the glamour of its speculation over the
processes by which we have come to be where and what we are, so it casts
the glamour of its speculation over the process of our release. The
West stakes everything on the issue of one individual life even if death
ends it, or else it assumes a conscious continuity of life rich in
memory and persistent in individuality in whatever progress lies beyond
the grave. Those whom Dante saw ascending from terrace to terrace of the
Mount of Purgation were in all stages continuously and truly themselves.
They knew the faults for which they made atonement and looked back with
unclouded vision along all the stages by which they had climbed. The
East makes little of the continuity of individual life and everything of
the sequence of individual lives. It offers for the solution of our
problem of ultimate destiny and also for its solution of the problem of
pain and sorrow and manifest inequality in human states, two simple and
unescapable laws--the law of moral consequence and the law of
reincarnation. The East and the West both believe that "whatsoever a man
soweth that shall he also reap" but the West believes he gathers his
harvests of pain or punishment in a continuity of conscious existence,
the vaster part of which is lived beyond death, with no rebirth and with
no travelling again the light or shadowed ways of earth and time. The
Christian West believes also in redemption which is just that sharing of
God in the process which makes faith and repentance definite and saving
elements in the struggle of the soul.

The East believes in a series of reincarnations, each reincarnate state
taking its character from the quality of the life before. The fact that
the doors of recollection are shut and locked between each incarnate
existence makes no difference to the East. If a man has lived well and
justly and followed his light, he will hereafter be born higher up; if
he has loved darkness because his deeds are evil, he will be born into
some low estate; he may descend into the beast or ascend into the saint.
He will pay for present injustice with future suffering--

          "Or reach a hand through time to catch
          The far-off interest of tears"

even though he have no conscious remembrance of the faults for which he
atones, or the sorrow for which he is recompensed. If he is steadfast
through countless rebirths, the slow turning wheel will bear him higher
and higher until he begins to ascend the successive planes, discovering
in each plane for which he has fitted himself a new wealth and reality
of existence, until at last he is lost in the Infinite Existence and his
struggle is ended.

Perhaps the word "struggle" as here used is wrong. Deliverance for the
East is not so much struggle as acquiescence. For the theosophist desire
is the master mischief maker. Desire leads us in wrong directions,
complicates our spiritual problems and thrusts us against the turn of
the wheel. We are rather, according to the theosophist, to reduce desire
to its simplest terms, thereby freeing ourselves from restlessness,
above all taking care not to hurt or embitter others.

_Theosophy Produces a Distinct Type of Character_

There is no denying that here is a faith capable of producing a
distinctive type of character. It tends at its best toward an extreme
conscientiousness and an always excessive introspection; it creates also
a vast and brooding patience. "In countries where reincarnation and
karma [the law of Cause and Effect] are taken for granted by every
peasant and labourer, the belief spreads a certain quiet acceptance of
inevitable troubles that conduces much to the calm and contentment of
ordinary life. A man overwhelmed by misfortunes rails neither against
God nor against his neighbours, but regards his troubles as the result
of his own past mistakes and ill-doings. He accepts them resignedly and
makes the best of them.... He realizes that his future lives depend on
his own exertions and that the law which brings him pain will bring him
joy just as inevitably if he sows the seed of good. Hence a certain
large patience and philosophic view of life tending directly to social
stability and to general contentment."[68]

[Footnote 68: "The Ancient Wisdom," Besant, p. 273.]

If such a faith as this be informed with humaneness and be deeply
tempered with the principle of sacrifice, it may, and does, result in a
distinct type of real goodness. It is possibly a good faith for helpless
and more or less despairing folk, though it likely creates many of the
evils from which it desires to escape. The very reach and subtlety and
even splendour of its speculation will make a strong appeal to minds of
a certain type.

Two elements in the whole system doubtless account for what hold it has
upon the Western mind. It does offer, to begin with, a coherent
explanation of the problem of pain and sorrow. As we have seen more than
once in this study, Western Christianity has been deficient just here.
The accepted explanations of the shadowed side of life have not been
great enough to meet the facts. Practically every cult we have studied
has found its opportunity just here. Christian Science solves the
problem by denying the essential reality of pain and disease. New
Thought believes in an underlying and loving good to which life may be
so attuned as to bring us generally into the current of health and
happiness. Theosophy accepts pain, sorrow and all unhappy forces and
explains them as the inevitable result of wrong action either in this or
a previous existence.

_Theosophy a "Tour de Force" of the Imagination_

Christian Science saves the justice and affirms the love of God by
making Him just a God with apparently no concern for and no
participation in the shadowed side of life. New Thought saves the love
and justice of God by discovering in pain and unhappiness our lack of
harmony with Him. Theosophy meets the whole shadowed order along its
full front and explains everything in terms of compensation. Now there
is much in this to appeal to our modern temper. Directly we recognize
the scales in which the consequences of our actions are weighed as being
so sensitive that not even a thought can be thrown in the one balance
without disturbing the equilibrium, directly we recognize ourselves as
involved in a sweep of law from whose consequences there is no possible
escape, we have at least a consistent scheme in which there is room for
no evasion, and if we balance the manifold inequalities of one life by
what has been done or left undone in some previous life, we are always
able to add weight enough to the scales to make them hang level. True
enough, there is nothing to guide us here but imaginative ingenuity, but
it is always possible to imagine some fault in a previous existence
which we pay for in pain or loss or disappointment, or some good deed
done in a previous existence which accounts for our happy fortune in
this. And so justice is saved if only by a tour de force of the
imagination. (Mrs. Besant, for example, explains the untimely death of a
child as a penalty due the parents for unkindness to a child in an
earlier incarnation.)

The speculative aspects of Theosophy also appeal to tempers which love
to dream without accepting the laborious discipline of a truly reasoned
speculation. To quote a phrase of Macaulay's quoted in turn by William
James in one of his letters, there is a type of mind "utterly wanting in
the faculty by which a demonstrated truth is distinguished from a
plausible supposition," and there has been amongst us of late a marked
increase of this type of mind. There has been up to our own time no
great amount of such speculation as this in the West. It is not native
to the occidental temper and it has been held in control by our
scientific approach to the facts of our world and our experiences
therein. We have demanded for our speculations generally the
demonstration of fact and this has heretofore held us to a rather
narrow range, but that widening of the frontiers of the possible which
has attended the new psychology with its emphasis upon the subconscious,
along with the rather baffling character of psychic phenomena, has
opened the flood gates and released a tide of speculation which goes far
beyond the proved fact and accepts no limits but its own ingenious
audacity. We have already seen how evident deficiencies in the
discipline of present-day education and the loose state of mind too much
in evidence amongst us has contributed to all this. There are everywhere
a great number of perplexed people who want to believe something and
find it far easier to believe in dreams and guesses and cloud-built
systems than in restraining facts or even the rather clearly
demonstrated realities of the moral order, and such as these have found
a wealth of material in Eastern speculation.

_A Bridge of Clouds_

In trying to appraise the truth of Theosophy we have to disentangle the
system and the needs and the seekings which lead its adherents to accept
it. These needs and seekings are, after all, near and familiar; they are
only our old questions Whence? and Whither? and Why? Theosophy is at
least the attempt to really answer some of the questions which Western
science is either content or compelled to leave unanswered. The creative
point of contact between personality and matter and force is deeply
enwrapped in mystery. Orthodox Christianity has been content to affirm
the facts of creation without asking any questions at all as to its
methods. It has affirmed the omnipotence of the Creator and has found in
His omnipotence a satisfactory resting place. God is great enough to do
what has been done and the detail of it is rather an affair for God than
man. Scientific speculation generally has gone back as far as it can go
in the resolution of its forces and laws and recognized its own
limitations, leaving the rest to the theologian and the philosopher. The
result has been a gap which has not been bridged over. Theosophy has
undertaken to bridge that gap. But, examined more carefully, one sees
that the abyss has been crossed by nothing more solid than a fabric of
cloudy speculation. True enough these speculations are ingenious and
touched with suggestive light, but they are strangely insubstantial.
After all they do absolutely nothing more than our Western affirmation
of the immanence of God in life and force and law, and our Western
thought has the advantage alike in simplicity, in scientific basis and
reverent self-restraint.

We might as well recognize, and be done with it, that there are
questions here which in all human probability are insoluble. There are
elements of mystery in life and the universe beyond our present and
likely our future power to definitely resolve. In the end faith can do
nothing more than rest in God and accept as an aspect of life itself the
necessary limits of our position. Our organized knowledge all too
quickly brings us to regions where faith and faith alone completes the
inquiry. But on the other hand, a faith which too far outruns either in
the reach or audacity of its speculation those elements which organized
knowledge supplies and reason validates, loses itself in futilities or
else misleads us altogether. Eastern speculation is too far beyond
either ordered knowledge or right reason to be of any practical use in
the fruitful conduct of life. Believing too much does just as much harm
as believing too little.

Theosophy's seven planes and ascending emanations and sevenfold veils
and all the rest really explain nothing. On the other hand they tempt
their faithful to take conjecture for reality; they create a credulous
and uncritical temper; they are hostile to that honest dealing with fact
which is just one condition of getting on at all. A brave confession of
ignorance is often more truly reverent than knowing too many things
which are not so. As we approach more nearly the reality of things as
they are we find them always unexpectedly simple. The burden of proof is
always upon the murky and the complex. Those who try to escape the
difficulties in which our deeper understanding of the world order and
our own personalities involve us, by taking refuge in Eastern occultism
are on the wrong line.

_The Difficulties of Reincarnation_

The same criticism holds true of Reincarnation. It is involved in
hopeless difficulties. There are apparent injustices and inequalities in
life--so much is beyond debate--but we have in general, if we are honest
enough to follow it through, the clue to even these. We are all parts
of a struggling and, we trust, ascending order, an order which on the
whole is not so greatly concerned for the individual as we are concerned
for ourselves. We are hampered by our ignorance and we are deeply
involved one with the other. The orthodox theology which blames
everything upon sin as an abstraction is not convincing, but sin as the
projection of wrong desires, through self-will, into the field of human
action is a fact to be constantly reckoned with. The individual and
social consequences of it are enormous, nor can they be confined either
to one individual or one generation. Heredity continues weakness as well
as strength. A vast deal of our bitter reaping is due to the wrong or
foolish sowing of others, though fortunately we share the good as well
as the bad. The laws of heredity will account for a vast deal in any one
generation; the laws of social action and reaction for a great deal of
the rest, and there is finally not a little for which we ourselves are
responsible. A good many of our problems ought to be approached from the
point of view of the well-being of humanity generally and not our own
individual destiny.

We may safely trust our individual destiny to brave and unselfish
living. I ought not to test what I do or leave undone by its effect upon
me in some future reincarnation; I ought to test it by the effect which
it has now upon the world of which I am a part, upon the generation
which is to follow me and upon the quality of my own present life. True
enough, the theosophist and myself find ourselves here in substantial
agreement as to many of the things which a man ought practically to do
to secure a happier future, but I maintain that the motives just named
are far more solid and worthy motives than the camouflaged selfishness
of Theosophy, and they are certainly in far deeper accord with the
ascertained facts of life. If we recognize that the more shadowed side
of life is partly the result of social and individual development
conditioned by weakness, ignorance and sin, if we recognize that the
present reaps what the past has sown, if we recognize that we suffer for
the faults of others and that no one of us may hope to climb far until
his neighbour climbs with him, if we recognize that pain and suffering
are disciplinary, illuminating, educative, and finally, if we recognize
that we do possess the power to take all the more difficult elements in
experience and subdue them to an increased wealth of personality, we
have really all the elements in hand for the solution of the problem of
pain and sorrow in terms of action and understanding, and we do not need
a series of reincarnations to help us out.

Reincarnation really explains, as it claims to explain, neither the
exceptional individual nor the apparently unmerited sufferings of the
individual, and it has beside inescapable difficulties of its own. It
has to parallel the course of human existence with a range of supernal
existence for which there is absolutely no proof; it has to numerically
equalize birth and death--and these are not equal in an increasing
terrestrial population--or else it has to assume, as it does of course,
on other planes a storehouse of souls from which to draw. And more than
that, it involves itself in a perfect tangle of heavenly bookkeeping.
Here is the best Mrs. Besant can do to explain the difficulties of
reincarnation. "We have seen that man during his passage to physical
death loses, one after the other, his various bodies.... These are all
disintegrated and their particles remixed with the materials of their
several planes.... At this stage, then, only the man himself is left,
the labourer who has brought his harvest home and has lived upon it till
it is all worked up into himself. The dawn of a new life begins."[69]

[Footnote 69: "The Ancient Wisdom," p. 202--passim.]

To condense, he now proceeds to build up for himself a new body for his
coming life on the lower mental level. "This again exactly represents
his desire nature, faithfully reproducing the qualities he evolved in
the past; ... thus the man stands fully equipped for his next
incarnation.... Meanwhile action external to himself is being taken to
provide him with a physical body suitable for the expression of his
qualities.... All this is done by certain mighty spiritual Intelligences
often spoken of as the lords of Karma because it is their function to
superintend the working out of causes continually set going by thoughts,
desires and actions. They hold the threads of destiny which each man has
woven, and guide the reincarnating man to the environment determined by
his past. The race, the nation, the family thus determined, what may be
called the mould of the physical body ... is built within the mother's
womb by the agency of an elemental, the thought of the Karmic lords
being its motive power." The difficulties which this statement evades
are enormous, its conjectures are even more enormous.

This is the subversion of all the facts of biology and heredity to a
capricious scheme, built up just to answer a few practical
questions--Why do we differ? Why do we suffer? Why are we happy? Surely
there are far more simple and reasonable answers to these questions than
the answer of Theosophy, and the willingness of so many people to rest
in such an answer as this can prove only one of two things--the capacity
of the mind for credulity or the arresting failure of those whose
business it is to interpret life to the perplexed, to have even begun
their task.

_Immortality a Nobler, Juster and Simpler Balancing of Life's

If there be a want of opportunity in our present existence for a true
balancing of the scales of justice, and if some future existence be
needed to make things right, then the Christian doctrine of immortality
has an immense advantage over the reincarnations of Theosophy. We have
no right to underestimate the difficulties of a reasonable faith in
immortality, but they are simplicity itself as compared with the
difficulties of reincarnation, for reincarnation must answer every
question which the possibility of immortality raises and answer even
more difficult questions of its own. It is far simpler to believe that
having survived the shock of death we go on with the same essential
individuality we had before death, than to believe that having survived
we are sent back again through the gates of birth and are really
reincarnated in another individuality. More than that, the Christian
belief in immortality is more ethical. The action and reaction of life
have real meaning for me only as I know and remember. No theosophic
evasion can take the force out of this.

If I consciously connect to-day's pain with yesterday's pain with the
folly or fault of a previous existence of which I am really unconscious,
the chain has been broken and no speculative question can supply the
missing link. Very likely the accepted Christian doctrine of the
finality of life after death has given Theosophy an opportunity in the
West. Protestantism particularly has allowed absolutely no place after
death for repentance, has offered no new chance to the adventuring soul;
its Hell and its Heaven have been final states. Catholicism has eased
the strain of this with purgatory, a belief wholly without Scriptural
basis, but nevertheless evolved in answer to great necessities of life.
We need neither purgatory nor reincarnation; we need only the
recognition of what is so centrally a part of any conception of
immortality as to make one wonder why we have so greatly missed it; the
reasonable confidence, that is, that we really go on very much as we
left off here.

If there be in a future existence--and there must be if there be a
future existence--any room for repentance born of a clearer recognition
of fault and new and holier purposes born of a clearer understanding of
the true values of life, then we shall go on in a truly moral process of
growth, availing ourselves always of the teachings of experience and
working toward the true well-being of our souls, and if the mercy and
justice of God be not the figment of our imagination those who have been
hardly dealt with here will be given new opportunity, the deficient and
the handicapped released from what weighed them down will find a new
departure, and the justices of eternity complete what time began. All
this will be accomplished not in a series of existences, separated one
from the other by abysms of forgetfulness, but in a remembered
continuity of life deepening through endless growth. If this be only
faith and speculation it is at least a far more reasonable faith and
speculation than the alternative which Theosophy offers. Theosophy is a
side issue in the real solution of the problems of life.

_Pantheism at Its Best--and Its Worst_

Finally, though this is possibly unfair, Eastern Pantheism generally
must be tested by its fruits. We ought not, if we are to deal justly
with it, to ignore its better side. The East at its best has been strong
in a type of life wanting in the West; the East has been rich in
patience and gentleness and in consideration for every kind of life,
even the ant in the dust or the beast in the jungle. The East at its
best has weighed conduct in delicate balances and traced the play of
cause and effect in character far, far beyond the West; it has been
content with simple things and found its true wealth in the inner life.
It has willingly, for the sake of truth and goodness, subjected itself
to disciplines, some of which are admirable, others of which are
loathsome. It has at its best ventured everything for the well-being of
the soul, even when it has misconceived that well-being. It has had
little of the hard driving quality of the West. Not a little of the
teaching of Jesus fits in better with the temper and devotion of the
Orient than the competitive materialism of the Occident. It is easily
possible to pass not a little of the Gospels through the interpretation
of Eastern mysticism and find therein arresting correspondences. For
example, a little book called "At the Feet of the Master" by a young
Indian student, has in it a wealth of insight and an understanding of
the balanced conduct of life which is wanting in a good many of the
Western interpretations of life, but none the less, things must be
judged by their massed outcome and the massed outcome of Eastern
Pantheism does not commend itself.

The larger part of the religious literature of the East is upon a
distinctly lower level than those parts of it which are brought to us by
its devotees, and when Pantheism--and the basis of all Eastern
speculation is Pantheistic--comes down from its high places and begins
practically to express itself in worship and the conduct of the crowd,
then it is such as to give us pause. What Kipling calls "the sculptured
horrors" of the carved fronts of the temples in Benares are no accident;
they are simply the logical outcome of a faith which lifts the whole to
the level of the divine and has nothing beyond to correct what is by
what ought or ought not to be. Almost inevitably Pantheistic religions
unduly exalt those powers which make for fertility of field and the
increase of life. As they do this they have on their side the elemental
forces in human nature. When we begin to make gods of what after all
must be sternly subordinated to higher things, and the East has done
this in spite of its mystics and its dreamers, then we are not only in
danger of sculpturing symbolic horrors on the fronts of our temples but
of setting up therein strange altars to strange gods who are best
worshipped by strange rites. All this, inevitably enough, has given to
Eastern worship a more than earthly character, and has invested with the
sanction of religion forces which it must always be the business of
religion to subordinate and control.

Along with all this has gone a grotesque mythology and an inconceivable
multiplication of divinity. Since no one but an expert can hope to
understand the complexities of a faith like this, the East has developed
a priestly class which bears harder upon its devotees and at the same
time more contemptuously separates itself from them than perhaps any
priestly class in the world. If the East is to return upon the West in
substituting a refined and more or less mystic Pantheism for the sterner
forms of Western faith, we ought at least to understand what it is
which, with all its implications, is beginning to set up its altars
amongst us. No one can follow the theosophic religion of the West
without recognizing how largely Western Theosophy avails itself of
Western science and informs itself with what Christianity has given to
the West. If these were taken out of it it would be hopeless. Since,
therefore, its speculations carry us beyond reason or science, since its
solution of the problems of life is far too complex, since whatever is
good in it may be found more richly and simply in what we already
possess and since the practical outcome of it in the East itself is an
arrested civilization which has many depths but few heights, one must
inevitably conclude that Theosophy has no real meaning for those who
possess already the knowledge which we have so laboriously gained and
the faith and insight which Christianity has brought us.



Practically all the newer cults are quests in one general direction but
down more or less specific roads. Christian Science and New Thought are
endeavours after health and well-being and the endeavour also to
reconcile the more shadowed experiences of life with the love and
goodness of God. Theosophy and kindred cults are quests for illumination
and spiritual deliverance along other than the accepted lines of
Christian "redemption." Spiritualism is practically the quest for the
demonstration of immortality through such physical phenomena as prove,
at least to those who are persuaded by them, the survival of discarnate

All these movements involve in varying degrees the abnormal or the
supernormal. They imply generally another environment for personality
than the environment which the ordered world of science supplies, and
other laws than the laws of which it takes account. They are one in
affirming the mastery of the psychical over the physical. They either
affirm or imply faculties which do not depend upon the senses for their
material; they suggest a range of personality which, if the facts which
they supply are sound, demands a very considerable recasting of our
accepted beliefs about ourselves.

Christian Science and New Thought confine themselves largely to the
present term of life, though Christian Science affirms strongly enough
that death is an error of the mortal mind. New Thought places a shifting
emphasis upon immortality. Spiritualism centers wholly upon the
phenomena of the discarnate life, upon the power of the discarnate to
communicate with us and upon our power to receive and interpret their

Spiritualism, or Spiritism, the name its adherents prefer, is, however,
by no means so simple as this definition of it. It may be anything from
the credulity which accepts without question or analysis the trick of a
medium, to the profound speculation of Meyer or Hyslop or the new
adventures in psychology of Émile Boirac and his French associates. It
may be a cult, a philosophy or an inquiry; it may organize itself in
forms of worship and separate itself entirely from the churches. It may
reinforce the faith of those who remain in their old communions.
Spiritism has a long line of descent. The belief that the spirit may
leave the body and maintain a continued existence is very old. Mr.
Herbert Spencer finds the genesis of this belief in dreams. Since
primitive men believed themselves able, in their dreams, to wander about
while the body remained immobile and since in their dreams they met and
spoke with their dead, they conceived an immaterial existence. The
spirit of a dead man, having left the body, would still go on about its
business. They, therefore, set out food and drink upon his grave and
sacrificed his dogs, his horses or his wives to serve him in his
disembodied state. All this is familiar enough and perhaps the whole
matter began as Mr. Spencer suggested, though it by no means ends there.

The animism which grew out of this belief characterizes a vast deal of
early religion, penetrates a vast deal of early thinking. Primitive man
lived in a world constantly under the control of either friendly or
hostile spirits and the really massive result of this faith of his is
registered in regions as remote as the capricious genders of French
nouns and the majestic strophes of the Hebrew Psalms, for the genders
are the shadowy survivals of a time when all things had their spirits,
male or female, and the Psalms voice the faith for which thunder was the
voice of God and the hail was stored in His armoury. It would take us
far beyond the scope of our present inquiry to follow down this line in
all its suggestive ramifications. Animism, medieval witchcraft and the
confused phenomena of knocks, rappings and the breaking and throwing
about of furniture and the like reported in all civilized countries for
the past two or three centuries, supply the general background for
modern Spiritualism. (The whole subject is fully treated in the first
and second chapters of Podmore.)

_The Genesis of Modern Spiritualism_

Modern Spiritualism does not, however, claim for itself so ancient an
ancestry. In 1848 mysterious knockings were heard in the family of John
D. Fox at Hydesville, N.Y. They appeared to have some purpose behind
them; the daughters of the family finally worked out a code: three raps
for yes, one for no, two for doubt, and lo, a going concern was
established. It is interesting to note that mysterious noises had been
about a century before heard in the family of the Wesleys in Epworth
Rectory, England. These noises came to be accepted quite placidly as an
aspect of the interesting domestic life of the Wesleys. It has usually
been supposed that Hattie Wesley knew more about it than she cared to
tell and, as far as the illustrious founders of Methodism were
concerned, there the matter rests.

But the Fox sisters became professional mediums and upon these simple
beginnings a great superstructure has been built up. The modern interest
in Spiritualism thus began on its physical side and in general the
physical phenomena of Spiritualism have become more bizarre and complex
with the growth of the cult. Raps, table tiltings, movements of articles
of furniture, playing upon musical instruments, slate writing, automatic
writing, of late the Ouija Board, materialization, levitation, apparent
elongation of the medium's body, are all associated with Spiritism. It
was natural that the voice also should become a medium of communication,
though trance mediumship belongs, as we shall see, to a later stage of

Incidentally the movement created a kind of contagious hysteria which
naturally multiplied the phenomena and made detached and critical
attitudes unduly difficult. For reasons already touched upon, America
has been strongly predisposed to phases of public opinion which in their
intensity and want of balance have the generally accepted
characteristics of hysteria. Some of them have been religious, great
awakenings, revivals and the like. These in their more extreme form have
been marked by trances, shoutings and catalepsy and, more normally, by a
popular interest, strongly emotionalized, which may possess a real
religious value. Other religious movements have centered about the
second coming of Christ and the end of the world. Many of these peculiar
excitements have been political. The whole offers the psychologists a
fascinating field and awaits its historian.[70] Yet the result is always
the same. The critical faculty is for the time in abeyance; public
opinion is intolerant of contradiction; imposture is made easy and
charlatans and self-appointed prophets find a credulous following.
Movements having this genesis and history are in themselves open to

[Footnote 70: Sidis has a résumé of Social Epidemics in part three of
his work on the "Psychology of Suggestion."]

_It Crosses to England and the Continent_

The American interest in Spiritualism from 1848 to 1852 belongs
distinctly to this region. The Fox sisters have been generally
discredited, but what they began carried on. In 1852 a Mrs. Hayden and a
little later a Mrs. Roberts introduced raps and table turnings to
England. There, and more particularly on the Continent, Spiritualism met
and merged with a second line of development which in turn reacted upon
American Spiritualism, and, in America, released movements on the
surface wholly unrelated to Spiritism. In France to a degree and in
Germany strongly Mesmerism lent itself to spiritistic interpretations. I
quote Podmore, who is commenting upon the trance utterances of a Mrs.
Lindquist: "It is to be noted that the ascription of these somnambulic
utterances to spirit intelligences was in the circumstances not merely
easy but almost inevitable. The entranced person was in a state
obviously differing very widely from either normal sleep or normal
wakefulness; in the waking state she herself retained no recollection of
what happened in the trance; in the trance she habitually spoke of her
waking self in the third person, as of some one else; the intelligence
which manifested in the trance obviously possessed powers of expression
and intellectual resources in some directions far greater than any
displayed by the waking subject. Add to this that the trance
intelligence habitually reflected the ideas in general and especially
the religious orthodoxy of her interlocutors; that on occasion she
showed knowledge of their thoughts and intentions which could not
apparently have been acquired by normal means; that she was, in
particular, extraordinarily skillful in diagnosing, prescribing for, and
occasionally foretelling the course of diseases in herself and
others--the proof must have seemed to the bystanders complete."[71]

[Footnote 71: "Modern Spiritualism," Podmore, Vol. I, p. 77.]

_The Beginnings of Trance-Mediumship_

We have here plainly enough the beginnings of trance mediumship. It
needed only unstable personalities, capable of self-induced trance
states, so to widen all this as to supply the bases of spiritistic
faith and the material for the immensely laborious investigation of the
Society for Psychical Research. In the main, however, French interest in
Mesmerism and animal magnetism took a more scientific turn and issued in
the brilliant French studies in hypnotism. Spiritualism has made little
headway in Catholic countries. The authority of the Church is thrown so
strongly against it as to prohibit the interest of the credulous and the
penetrating minds of the southern European scientists have been more
concerned with the problems of abnormal personality than the continued
existence of the discarnate.

The interest in Germany took another line. There was less scientific
investigation of hypnotism and trance states as abnormal modifications
of personality and far more interest in clairvoyance and spirit
existence. Men whose names carried weight accepted the spiritistic
explanation of phenomena ranging from broken flower pots to ghosts. Very
likely the German tendency toward mysticism and speculation explains
this. Jung followed Swedenborg and the mystics generally in affirming a
psychic body, but was a pioneer in associating it with the luminiferous
ether in a range of speculation which in our time supplies an
hypothetical scientific basis for the environment of the discarnate. (So
Sir Oliver Lodge.) Podmore concludes that the foundations of modern
Spiritualism were laid by the German magnetists of the first half of the
nineteenth century.

The movement developed along these lines till 1875. Once broadly in
action it touches at one point or another the whole region of the
occult. Many spiritualists found in Theosophy, for which existence is
the endless turning of a wheel, a cycle of death and rebirth, a
pseudo-philosophic support for their belief. Spiritualism appealed
naturally to the lovers of the mystic and the unusual and it associated
itself, to a degree, with extreme liberalism in the general development
of religion. (On the whole, however, as far as religion goes,
Spiritualism has created a religion of its own.) Its advocates were
likely to be interested in phrenology, advanced social experiments, or
modification of the marriage laws. Spiritualistic phenomena themselves
became more varied and complex; trance mediumship became a profession
with a great increase of performers; slate writing was introduced and
finally materialization was achieved. All this might mean that the
spirits were growing more adept in "getting through," the mediums more
adept in technique, or else, which is more likely, that latent abnormal
aspects of personality were being brought to light through suggestion,
imitation and exercise. But no concerted effort was made by trained and
impartial observers to eliminate fraud, collect data and reach
dependable conclusions. This has been finally attempted by the Society
for Psychical Research and the results of their laborious investigations
are now at the service of the student of the occult.

_The Society for Psychical Research Begins Its Work_

The weight which attaches to the names of many English and some
American members of the Society, the carefully guarded admission of some
of them that there is in the whole region a possible residue of
phenomena which indicate communication between the living and the
discarnate and the profoundly unsettling influence of the war, really
account for the renewed interest in Spiritualism in our own time. In
1875 a few Englishmen, one of them a famous medium--Stainton
Moses--formed a Psychological Society for the investigation of
supernormal phenomena. (In general all this account of the history of
Spiritualism is greatly condensed from Podmore and Hill and the reader
is referred to their works without specific reference.)

This first group dissolved upon the death of one of its members--though
that would seem to have been a good reason for continuing it--and in
1882 Professor (afterward Sir) William Barrett, who had already done
some experimenting and had brought hypnotism and telepathy to the notice
of the British association for the advancement of science, consulted
Stainton Moses with the view of founding a society under better auspices
and the Society for Psychical Research was organized, with Professor
Henry Sidgwick as first president. The Society undertook, according to
its own statement:

     1. An examination of the nature and extent of any influence which
     may be exerted by one mind upon another, otherwise than through the
     recognized sensory channels.

     2. The study of hypnotism and mesmerism, and an inquiry into the
     alleged phenomena of clairvoyance.

     3. A careful investigation of any reports, resting on testimony
     sufficiently strong and not too remote, of apparitions coinciding
     with some external event (as for instance a death) or giving
     information previously unknown to the percipient, or being seen by
     two or more persons independently of each other.

     4. An inquiry into various alleged phenomena apparently
     inexplicable by known laws of nature, and commonly referred by
     Spiritualists to the agency of extra-human intelligences.

     5. The collection and collation of existing materials bearing on
     the history of these subjects.[72]

[Footnote 72: "Spiritualism," Hill, p. 100.]

They sought also "to approach these various problems without prejudice
or prepossession of any kind and in the same spirit of exact and
unimpassioned inquiry which has enabled science to solve so many
problems, once not less obscure nor less hotly debated."

As a matter of fact the region is the most obscure which inquiry has
ever been called to enter. A noble rationality pervades the whole normal
material order, causes can be controlled, effects anticipated, laws
formulated and above all, the hypotheses of science are, if true, always
capable of a luminous and splendid verification. The disciplined
intellect moves through it all with a sense of "at-homeness" which is
itself a testimony to profound correspondences between the human mind
and the order with which, during its long, long unfolding, it has been
associated in intimacies of action and reaction too close to be
adequately set forth in words. But the mind does not rest easily in the
region which Spiritism claims for its own.

_The Difficulties It Confronts_

Of course this is to beg the whole question. The more scientifically
minded spiritualists might fairly enough answer that they are attempting
to discover the laws of the occult and reduce an anarchical system to
order, that our feeling of strangeness in these regions is only because
of our little contact with them. There are, they claim, undeveloped
aspects of personality which we have had as yet little occasion to use,
but which would, once they were fully brought into action, give us the
same sense of rapport with a super-sensible order that we now have in
our contact with the sensible order. The crux of the whole contention is
probably just here and in view of what has heretofore been accomplished
in discovering and formulating the laws of the physical universe and in
reducing an immense body of apparently unrelated facts to order, there
is doubtless possible a very great systematization of psychical
phenomena, even the most obscure. Nor may we readily set bounds to the
measure of human development. But at any rate the statement with which
this paragraph began is true. The region which the Society for Psychical
Research set out to explore is obscure and is, as yet, so far from
yielding to investigation that the investigators are not even agreed as
to their facts, let alone the conclusions to be drawn from.

The proceedings of the Society literally fill volumes (thirty-two); it
would require a specialist to follow them through and an analysis here
impossible, rightly to evaluate them. When such careful investigators as
Hill and Podmore, dealing with the same body of fact, differ constantly
and diametrically in their conclusions, it is evident that the facts so
far collected have not cumulative force enough to establish in the
generality of disciplined minds a substantial unanimity of conviction.
There are far too many alternatives in the interpretation of the facts
and, in general, the personal equation of the investigator colours the
conclusions reached. Of course this is, in a measure, true in every
field of investigation, but it is outstandingly true in psychical

_William James Enters the Field_

For some years the Society was mainly occupied with hypnotism and
thought transference, with occasional reports on "apparitions, haunted
houses, premonitions, automatic writing, crystal vision and multiple
personality." Professor William James' experiment with Mrs. Piper
carried the Society over into the field of trance mediumship. James had
a sound scientific interest in every aspect of the play of human
consciousness and was earlier than any of his contemporaries awakened to
the psychological value of abnormal mental states. He also loved fair
play. He made his first report on Mrs. Piper in 1886. He was unable, he
said, "to resist the conviction that knowledge appeared in her trances
which she had never gained by the ordinary waking use of her eyes, ears
and wits.... What the source of this knowledge may be, I know not, and
have not a glimmer of explanatory suggestion to make, but from admitting
the fact of such knowledge I can see no escape."

In a letter to Flourney dated August 9, 1908, James says of later
investigations: "It seems to me that these reports open a new chapter in
the history of automatism.... Evidently automatism is a word that covers
an extraordinary variety of fact." The reports of Mrs. Piper's sittings
fill a large place in the Society's records. Dr. Richard Hodgson and
Professor Hyslop were finally led to accept her trance utterances and
writings as spiritistic revelations. Podmore, after a most careful
analysis, concludes that "Mrs. Piper's trance utterances indicate the
possession of some supernormal power of apprehension, at least the
capacity to read the unspoken and even unconscious thoughts and emotions
of other minds."[73] He is willing to admit that if any case in the
whole history of Spiritualism points at communication with the spirits
of the dead, hers is that case, but he adds, "to other students of the
records, including the present writer, the evidence nevertheless appears
at present insufficient to justify the spiritualistic view even of a
working hypothesis." "I cannot point to a single instance in which a
precise and unambiguous piece of information has been furnished, of a
kind which could not have proceeded from the medium's own mind, working
upon the materials provided in the hints let drop by the sitter."[74]

[Footnote 73: "Modern Spiritualism," Podmore, Vol. II, pp. 342-343.]

[Footnote 74: "Modern Spiritualism," Podmore, Vol. II, p. 345.]

_The Limitations of the Scientist in Psychical Investigation_

It is impossible in this study to follow through the records of the
Society. A representative group of its members, some of them men whose
names carry weight in other regions, have been led by their
investigations to adopt the spiritistic hypothesis. Significantly,
however, it is generally the scientist and not the psychologist who
commits himself most strongly to Spiritism. He is strongly impressed, as
was Sir William Crookes, by phenomena of one sort or another which do
not come under his laws, and he assigns to them causes which lie
altogether out of his field. Indeed the temper and training of the
scientist handicap him in all psychical investigations. He has only one
of two alternatives: to explain what he sees in terms of what his
laboratories have told him, or else in terms of forces with which he is
not familiar. His training in careful experimentation may fit him to
test and isolate physical phenomena, but if they cannot be explained in
terms of the forces and laws with which he is familiar his conclusions
are no more authoritative than the conclusions of any other reasonably
intelligent man. He may, therefore, lend the weight of a great name to
conclusions--or conjectures--entirely outside his own province. The
element of trickery in the ordinary professional séance is
notorious.[75] The ordinary physical phenomena of spiritism have almost
without exception been duplicated by conjurers--many of whom have
mystifying tricks of their own no medium can duplicate and even the most
unusual phenomena, such as Home's apparent ability to handle fire
unburnt and his levitation can be paralleled in savage rites or the
performance of Indian fakirs, to which no professedly spiritistic
explanation is attached. In many instances a trained conjurer would be
far more apt to detect fraud than a trained scientist. He would at least
know where to look for a probable explanation.

[Footnote 75: Carrington, "The Psychical Phenomena of Spiritualism," pp.
6 and 7.]

_The Society for Psychical Research Gives Intellectual Standing to Their

If the explanations of the whole group of phenomena is not in the known
resident forces about us it is presumably in powers or aspects of
personality not yet fully known. Here the psychologist is a better
witness than the scientist and it is significant that psychologists have
been slower to accept the spiritistic hypothesis than the scientist.
Hyslop is an exception but the extent to which Hyslop has of late gone
in some of his reported utterances would seem to indicate that he has
passed far beyond the bonds of the scientific. And indeed, the whole
tendency of those who let themselves go strongly with the spiritistic
tide is exactly in this direction. It ought, however, to be said that
even these members of the S.P.R. who have become spiritistic have
generally been savingly conservative in their conclusions.

At any rate, the work of the Society for Psychical Research has given
intellectual standing to what was before a sort of hole and corner
affair under suspicion twice: first, because of the character of those
involved, second, because of the character of what they revealed. It is
difficult for one not predisposed toward the occult and even strongly
prejudiced against it to deny in alleged spiritistic phenomena a
challenging residuum which may in the end compel far-reaching
modifications in the conclusions both of science and psychology. By one
set of tests this residuum is unexpectedly small. One of the canons of
the S.P.R. is to reject the work of any medium once convicted or
strongly suspected of fraud. There is a vast literature in this region
through whose outstanding parts the writer has for a good while now been
trying to find his way, often enough ready to quote the Pope in the Ring
and the Book.

          "I have worn through this sombre wintry day
          With winter in my soul ...
          Over these dismalest of documents"

The reports of sittings cover weary pages of murky statement; the
descriptions of the discarnate life are monotonously uniform and
governed almost without exception by old, old conceptions of planes and
spheres. There is always a preponderance of the trivial--though the
advocates of spiritism claim, and the justice of this claim must be
allowed, that this is inevitable and that only through the veridical
character of the inconsequential can the consequential be established.
Moreover, the impartial student working over the records should at least
recognize the pathetic importance which those, believing themselves to
be in touch with their own dead, naturally attach to even the most
trivial instances. This sense of really being in touch, itself entirely
subjective, probably carries over ninety-nine out of every hundred who
finally become spiritists. It would be foolish to ignore the
contributive force of this sense. In one form or another it is the last
element in our recognition of our friends, and it never can be judged
externally. But on the other hand a recognition of the unwarranted
lengths to which--with lonely longing behind it--it may carry even the
best poised minds, must give us pause in accepting any conclusion thus

_The Very Small Number of Dependable Mediums_

Spiritistic literature is endlessly diffuse, but on the other hand the
more dispassionate students rest their case on an unexpectedly small
body of undiscredited evidence. Mrs. Piper, Home and Stainton Moses are
the mediums with whom the case of the S.P.R. really stands or falls.
Home was never detected in fraud and was non-professional. Sir William
Crookes' experiments in these physical phenomena were carried on with
him as medium. His work, however, was generally done for a small group
of already convinced followers and their testimony, while sincere and
generally consistent, may often have been influenced in ways of which
they themselves were not conscious. Podmore thinks them to have been
unduly suggestible and offers hallucinations as an alternative
hypothesis. Stainton Moses was respected in his private life, a teacher,
a clergyman and a private tutor. His specialties were the introduction
of a great variety of articles--apports as they are called--at his
sittings, levitation, table-tipping and automatic writing and the direct
voice. His control was known as "Imperator" and this ghostly commander
fills a large place in the S.P.R. literature. "Imperator" had a strong
homiletic instinct (remember that Moses was a clergyman) and
communicated first and last through automatic writing, a considerable
exposition of the spiritualistic creed, the larger part of which could
have been preached from any liberal pulpit with no other effect on the
hearers than to win their assent to blameless commonplaces--or,
possibly, put them to sleep.

Mrs. Piper affords the strongest evidence of what Podmore calls "Some
supernormal power of apprehension" in the entire history of trance
mediumship. She was for years under the constant observation of a
capable group by no means unanimously sympathetic with the spiritistic
hypothesis, and has never been detected in fraud. She contributed a very
great amount of information to her sitters which she apparently could
not and did not obtain from known sources. There are no physical
phenomena in connection with her work. The records of her séances fill a
large place in the proceedings of the S.P.R. and the case for spiritism
could be more safely rested with her than any other medium.

But the point here is that these three--Home, Moses and Mrs.
Piper--supply the larger part of material which the really trained
investigators of the last forty years are at all willing to take
seriously. If there have been only three mediums in forty years who have
commanded the general confidence--and Podmore does not feel absolutely
sure of Home--of the group whose judgment the rest of us have to depend
upon, we have a situation in which the average untrained seeker dealing
with the average medium can have no sound confidence at all. The whole
region is shot through and through with uncertainties, deceits and
alternative hypotheses.

_Spiritism a Question of Testimony and Interpretation_

It is all fundamentally a matter of testimony. We have, or we have not,
a body of fact for which we are in debt to observation. The observation
may be first hand--as in Sir Oliver Lodge's sittings where he reports
what he saw and heard. It may be second hand as the cases reported in
the larger part of the authoritative literature of psychic phenomena.
(Second hand, that is, for the authors and those who depend upon them.)
Trustworthy observation is probably more difficult here than in any
region of investigation. The whole situation is unfavourable; low lights
and high emotion, the instinctive tendency to read into the facts a
desired content even in watching them, the possibility of hallucinations
and forms of hypnosis, all combine to render human testimony unreliable
and introduce errors of observation. Nowhere can we be less sure of our
facts and even when the facts are admitted the interpretation of them
still remains, and here the room for difference is equally great. At
best we are dealing with forces not yet subdued to law, phenomena for
which normal experience supplies no parallel. It is all a region of
intimations and possible permissions, but never for a moment of
inevitable conclusions. One must go slow enough in offering any opinion
at all. The writer recognizes and accepts, to begin with, a
preponderance of dependable testimony for physical phenomena not to be
explained in terms of any force with which science is now familiar.

In this he goes beyond Podmore who would eliminate all physical
phenomena from the problem, and fully as far as Carrington. But Sir
William Crookes never admitted entire error in this region,[76] and the
conclusions of Geley (though he cites in part Eusapia Palladino, who is
more or less discredited) point in the same direction. His studies of
materialization are so vivid as to be uncanny and his photographs a
series of documents which still await explanation.[77] There would seem
to be a possible exercise of personal force not dependent upon muscular
pull or pressure, bodily movements operating against known laws and even
the building of this mysterious force into complete or fragmentary
body-like forms.

[Footnote 76: See Carrington, "The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism,"
p. 377.]

[Footnote 77: Geley, "From the Unconscious to the Conscious."]

On the psychical side there is dependable evidence for information
conveyed by supernormal means across considerable spaces--possibly long
distances and the power to secure and report information not gained in
any normal way. These are bare statements capable of great
amplification. But they cover the ground.

_Three Possible Explanations of So-Called Spiritistic Phenomena_

Admitting the facts, there are three possible explanations. First, the
Daimonistic. There are, according to this theory, in the unseen
world--wherever and whatever that may be--an order of beings akin to
ourselves, either less or more highly developed, mischievous or benign.
This is an old, old belief; it has pervaded animistic religions,
fathered witchcraft, persisted in the belief of demoniac control,
enriched folk lore, filled the friendly silences of the night with
terror and haunted humanity. Now it has found its renaissance in the
full blaze of Twentieth Century Science.

"It seems not improbable," says Sir William Barrett, "that many of the
_physical_ manifestations witnessed in a spiritualistic séance are the
product of human-like but not really human intelligence--good or bad
daimonia they may be, _elementals_ some have called them, which
aggregate round the medium; drawn from that particular plane of mental
and moral development in the unseen which corresponds to the mental and
moral plane of the medium."[78] This is, with little enough alteration,
the very point from which we set out in the remote dawn of our endeavour
to interpret the mystery of the world about us. The only difference is
that Sir William has his daimon for a tipping table and the savage had
his for a flowing spring. Sir William may be right but primitive man was
wrong. The whole trend of science heretofore has been to eliminate
capricious and isolated elements from observed phenomena and include
them in a sweep of law for whose operation the resident forces in the
universe and human personality are seen to be sufficient. The
daimonistic hypothesis has always up to this time been proved not only
unnecessary but positively misleading. It belongs to a region where
proof and disproof are equally impossible, but the weight of experience
and especially all our truer understandings of ourselves and our world,
dearly bought through the intellectual travail of our race, are against
it. To accept it is really to turn back the clock and populate the
unseen again with the creation of our fears or our fancies. It is at the
best the too easy solution of a challenging problem, at the worst an
aspect of that renaissance of superstition which is one of the strangest
characteristics of our own time.

[Footnote 78: "On the Threshold of the Unseen," p. 113.]

The second explanation is spiritistic. There are unseen presences but
they are the discarnate who seek in the more trivial phenomena to bring
themselves to our attention and in the more important to assure us of
their continued existence and satisfy their longing and ours in renewed
personal contacts. Given a faith in immortality, this explanation is
natural enough--even inevitable. If the discarnate still live they must
remember and desire. Death does not end affection on our side. It should
not end affection on their side. There must be, moreover, what one may
call a discarnate status--an order, that is, of relationships and
activities in which discarnate personality realizes and expresses
itself. Our racial curiosities about the state of the dead are
quenchless. Every religion has its creeds, its dreams, its assurances.
From the Nirvana of the Buddhist to the ardent paradise of the
Mohammedan, faith and longing have built their structure and peopled it
with their dead. Great ranges of literature are coloured by such
speculations. Christian hymnology is instinct with them and not a little
of our noblest poetry. We have set our hells over against our heavens
and opposed their terror to celestial splendours. Modern Spiritualism
has to head it the whole drive of such speculations as these. For if the
generality have been content to leave the solution of the very great
difficulties which any faith in immortality involves, to the
demonstrations of eventual experience, and rest in what is really the
poetry of their faith, others either more curious or more credulous seek
the testimony of the senses. Such as these naturally find what they seek
in the phenomena of trance mediumship. They believe that the discarnate
are constantly seeking to penetrate the veil between their order and
ours and avail themselves of every opportunity to recall themselves to
the memory of the incarnate.

_Myers' Theory of Mediumship_

F.W.H. Myers undertakes to describe how this may be done from the point
of view of the spirit. "Seeking then for some open avenue, it discerns
something which corresponds to a _light_--a glimmer of translucency in
the confused darkness of our material world. This 'light' indicates a
_sensitive_--a human organism so constituted that a spirit can
temporarily _inform_ or _control_ it, not necessarily interrupting the
stream of the sensitive's ordinary consciousness; perhaps using a hand
only, or perhaps, as in Mrs. Piper's case, using voice as well as hand,
and occupying all the sensitive's channels of self-manifestation."

There are, naturally, in all this unescapable elements of speculation.
As a matter of fact anything which we may imagine about the discarnate
life may be almost unbelievably wide of the mark. Memory more than
anything else is the binding force in personality. We know ourselves to
be in the morning what we were when we went to sleep the night before,
simply because memory reassembles immediately the continuing elements of
our individual existences. More than that, we are greatly helped by our
surroundings; everything which meets us in the morning has associations
by which memory is served and, therefore, by the almost automatic
process of putting together what we remember and surrendering ourselves
to the suggestions of what we see and meet we find our places in a
waking, working world and go about our business.

If we were to awake in a totally strange world where nothing was in any
degree at all similar to the world in which we went to sleep, we might
find ourselves so sadly puzzled as to doubt our own identity, even
though memory persisted in its identifying suggestion. And if in
addition to this we found ourselves without the contribution of physical
sensation to which we have always been used--sightless, soundless,
touchless--one can easily imagine a shock in the face of which even the
most strongly centered personality would give way. And yet such changes
as this probably only faintly indicate the adjustments which the
discarnate are called upon to meet. It is as if we were asked to argue
or to imagine from one dimension to another.

These are difficulties, of course, which attend any conception of
immortality, but we usually escape them by refusing to follow through
what they involve and taking refuge in a free poetic imagination
sustained by faith and enriched by tradition. In the face of all this
Myers' supposition, ingenious as it is, can do no more than repeat the
more prosaic assumption which is the basis of spiritism, and that is
that the discarnate naturally desire to communicate with those whom they
have left, one hardly dares say behind them for even that simple word
introduces suppositions which may have no meaning at all, and would
naturally avail themselves of any possible opportunity. The whole
process, if it be a process, must lie in the region of suggestion. If
there be a telepathy between the living it is not impossible that there
should be a telepathy between the living and the discarnate.

_Telepathy: Between the Living or the Living and the Discarnate?_

There might be thus a kind of eager pressing of the departed against
the doors which had been shut and not quite locked behind them, taking
the form of more or less obscure suggestion to which the medium would be
sensitive and so recreate in ways at which we can only guess some hint
of the voice or presence of the discarnate. The suggestion would come
from the other side. The form in which it is given to our world would be
the contribution of the medium. As far as there is any possible
explanation of the facts of trance mediumship as a revelation from the
dead it is somewhere here.

Telepathy between the living is fairly well enough established to make
this a not impossible hypothesis, and even materialization might be
accounted for in the same way. Sir Oliver Lodge is inclined to discover
in the luminiferous ether an environment in which discarnate personality
could function. But this is pure supposition, though others have adopted
it. Walker, for example, in his extremely suggestive work on Monism and
Christian Theism. But he suggests the ether only as a help to the
imagination in meeting the difficulties of an immortal existence--the
old Heaven and Hell having been made astronomically and geologically
impossible. But if Einstein should upset the hypothesis of the ether all
this would go the way of the Heaven and Hell of Dante.

We cannot eliminate, however, in a supposition so vague as this the
contributive elements supplied by the friends themselves to whom the
communication is supposed to be addressed and by whom it is certainly
interpreted, for if the trance medium is open to suggestion from the
discarnate side, the medium must be equally open to suggestion from the
living, a suggestion likely to be very much stronger, more distinct,
more compelling.

The real crux of the whole problem is the disentanglement of these
possible lines of suggestion and the assignment of them to their true
sources. We may, the writer believes, eliminate as far as their
evidential value is concerned, all physical phenomena. In doing this we
need not necessarily deny the reality of some of the physical phenomena
but the larger part of the residue which might possibly be left after
the elimination of fraud on the part of the medium and unintentional
misrepresentation on the part of the witnesses is so utterly meaningless
as to have no value at all. The only physical phenomena which can have
any direct bearing on spirit communication are the tappings and table
tippings which can by a deal of ingenuity be made to spell out a message
or answer questions yes or no. The same question as to the source of the
suggestion enters here. Even if we admit the taps to spell out a
message, we have still to decide from whom the message comes and the
messages alleged to be contributed through the voice are so much more
full and intelligible as to leave the whole question standing or falling
with the credibility of voice trance mediumship.


The usual machinery of a séance creates suspicion. Most mediums have
controls. Nothing is more capricious than these controls. They may be
people who really never existed at all. The genesis of Mrs. Piper's
control, Dr. Phinuit, is suggestive. "It would appear that Mrs. Piper in
1884 had visited for advice a professional clairvoyant whose leading
control claimed to be a Frenchman named Finné, or Finnett."[79] When
Mrs. Piper was later seen by William James, a French doctor had
succeeded in obtaining almost exclusive control and his name was
reported to be Phinuit. Beyond debate, as far as name goes, here is a
kind of transmuted suggestion. The Finnett of the French clairvoyant,
who may or may not have really lived, becomes the Phinuit of Mrs. Piper,
for whose existence there is apparently no testimony at all.

[Footnote 79: Podmore's "Modern Spiritualism," Vol. II, p. 333.]

The controls have sometimes been Indians and indeed almost any one may
appear as a control--Longfellow, for example, or Mrs. Siddons, or Bach
or Vanderbilt. In a region where disproof and proof are equally
impossible this element of capricious control is suspicious. It is much
more likely to be some obscure casting up of the medium's mind, through
lines of association of which the medium is utterly unconscious, than to
represent the personalities so named. In Raymond the control is one
Moonstone, or a little Indian girl called Freda or Feda, who speaks of
herself in the third person and who reports a great many silly things in
a very silly way.

It is possible, of course, to say that these thus named are spirit
mediums as necessary for the transfer of suggestion from the discarnate
order as mediums seem to be in the incarnate order, and that abnormal
personalities are as much needed on one side as the other through the
abnormality of the whole process. But this is patently to beg the
question. There is room in the whole process for the trivial, even the
inconsequential. As the advocates of spiritism have urged,
identification very often turns on apparently trivial things but it is
difficult to justify the very great element of the capricious and
actually foolish which enters so largely into the records of all
sittings. It would seem as if death robbed grave personalities of their
gravity, the strong of their force and the wise of their wisdom, and
this is so hard to believe as to make us wonder whether we are not
really dealing with something which belongs to an entirely different
region and is open to an entirely different line of explanation.

But beyond such considerations as these, which may or may not have
force, there remains the graver question still--the question of the
identification of the sources from which the intelligible residue of
communications is received. If we fall back upon suggestion there are
always two general sources of suggestion--the incarnate and the
discarnate, and among the incarnate themselves there are manifold
sources of suggestion. The sitter may be unconsciously supplying the
material which the medium is receiving, recasting and giving back again,
or the medium may be reporting what is received from other incarnate
sources than the sitter. (This, of course, when we have eliminated all
that might possibly be contributed by the medium.)

_The Dilemma of Spiritism_

Anything, therefore, which is known to the living may be the source of
the medium's information. Only those things, therefore, which are
utterly unknown to the living anywhere, which cannot possibly have been
known by the medium himself or herself, can be finally and conclusively
a testimony to communications from the dead. But unless the information
thus received is known to the living, its truth or falsity can never be
proved or disproved. This is the dilemma which spiritism is finally
brought to face and from this dilemma there is absolutely no escape. It
does not forbid the conclusions which may be drawn from a seeming
preponderance of evidence, but it does forbid absolute certainty, for,
to repeat, if the information is to be verified it must be verified by
the living, which proves that some one does possess it and may have
communicated it--if we assume such communication to be possible--to the
medium. On the other hand, if no one at all possesses the information,
then we may never be sure that it is real information, or anything else
than a creation of an excited imagination.

There is one test here which, if it were really made under absolutely
dependable conditions, conditions, that is, in no wise open to suspicion
or misunderstanding, might be final. If a message written before death
and so sealed as to be unknown to any one save the one who wrote it,
could be correctly reported, it would have, everything else being
right, an immense force. (Though even here clairvoyance--for which, on
the whole, there is a pretty dependable evidence--might afford the true
explanation.) F.W.H. Myers left such a message as this. In January,
1891, he sent Sir Oliver Lodge a "sealed envelope, in the hope that
after his death the communication contained in the envelope would be
able to be given by means of a medium. Many different messages obtained
by a well-known medium, Madame Verrall, and coming supposedly from
Frederick Myers, led them to believe that they represented this
communication. The envelope was opened in December, 1904, and 'it was
found that there was no resemblance between its actual contents and what
was alleged by the script to be contained in it.'"[80] If there is any
authentic case of this final test being successfully maintained, the
writer does not know it. There are instances of hidden articles
discovered, but these tests by no means possess the same force of

[Footnote 80: Boirac, "The Psychology of the Future," p. 278.]

We may assume, then, that we have no absolute demonstration of spirit
communication. We have only a very complex group of phenomena capable of
varying explanations. Any fair-minded student of the whole subject must
recognize that men who have had ample opportunity for first hand
investigation, not hasty in their conclusions and in some instances of
very great intellectual force, have taken an opposite view. They have
felt the testimony to be both sound and sufficient. There is an
unescapable personal equation here which probably finally determines
divergent attitudes. As has been said before, those generally who have
accepted the spiritistic explanation have been led to do so through
communications in which they discovered some personal note or touch, to
which they themselves would be hospitably susceptible and which would
have far less weight with those whose affections and previous
associations were not thus involved. This does not necessarily prove
their conclusions to have been false. Perhaps just this personal element
is necessary to give final meaning to what otherwise is so perplexing
and even contradictory. The dogmatism which shuts the door squarely in
the face of spiritism is as unreasonable, as unscientific, as the
credulity which opens the door wide and accepts everything which comes

_The Influence of Spiritism Upon Its Adherents_

There are other considerations which bear more or less indirectly upon
this difficult matter, but which have their weight. In general, those
who have whole-heartedly accepted spiritism have been unable thereafter
to maintain the balanced detachment which they urge upon others. They
tend to become unduly credulous; they force their explanation beyond its
necessary limits; they tend to become persons of the idée fixe type;
they become sponsors for extravagant stories, and, in general, lead
those who are influenced by their position or name far beyond the limits
which impartial investigation, even on the part of those sympathetic,
has as yet justified. Those descriptions of the discarnate state,
moreover, which reach us through mediums are undependable.

There is a machinery of planes and spheres and emanations and
reincarnations which is not at all peculiar to spiritism but belongs to
the fringes of the occult in every manifestation of it, which is
perpetually recurrent in modern spiritualistic literature. We are on the
frontiers of a region where the reason which steadies us in the
practical conduct of life and guides us in an order with which we are
familiar through age-old inheritances, has no value at all. Our very
terminology ceases to have any meaning. A generous creative imagination
may build for itself what cities it will of habitation, furnish them as
it desires and try to conceive, as it has power, the experiences and
progressions of the discarnate, but to invest these imaginations with
evidential accuracy is to break down all the limits between the
dependable and the undependable.

And finally, though this is rather a commonplace observation than an
aspect of our investigation, there is little to be gained in the
necessary business of solid living by such an interweaving of the two
worlds as spiritism carries with it. One life at a time is plainly
enough all that we are equal to. Those who surrender themselves to such
conclusions and inquiries are in very great danger of being so detached
from the actualities of the present order as to become themselves errant
and eccentric spirits, finding their true interests in endless séances
and investigations which have no practical bearing upon life as it now

_The Real Alternative to Spiritism_

The writer's observation of the effect of much going to mediums upon
those whom he has personally known leads him to distrust the whole
matter and possibly to react too strongly against it. A discriminating
critic has said that Spiritualism is not Spiritualism at all, but a
subtle materialism, in that it is the effort to verify the reality of
the spiritual in terms of the material. It is, therefore, just one more
unexpected aspect of the hard skepticism of the time, which trusts
nothing it cannot hear, or see, or touch. A faith which is not solidly
established in reason, which does not continue and complete in its own
regions what we know and understand, is a cloud-built faith, but a
faith, on the other hand, which refuses to adventure beyond the limits
of the senses is a faith too largely empty of any noble content.

If the phenomena under examination, then, cannot be explained in terms
of animism and if the spiritistic hypothesis is gravely open to
question, what explanation is left? In what follows the writer has been
greatly influenced by the suggestion of the students of abnormal
personality generally, and partly by the work of certain Frenchmen who,
with French logic and brilliancy of insight, are working toward
far-reaching psychological restatements and even to recasting of the
accepted scientific understandings of matter and force. Maeterlinck says
somewhere in substance that our universe is as tightly sealed as a
sphere of steel and that whatever happens inside must be explained in
terms of its own resident forces, and, in general, the whole of science
and the weight of experience are on Maeterlinck's side. Of course this
assumes that a good many things have been put inside this sphere to
begin with. Speaking in terms of religion, this does not shut God out of
the world, but it does shut up life and experience to conformity with
their own laws and forces them to explain their phenomena in terms of
their own content.

In a sentence, just as the resident forces of the outside world have
been heretofore sufficient, in the measure that we have been able to
discover them, to explain all the phenomena of the outside world, it is
reasonable to believe that the content of personality is sufficient to
explain all personal phenomena, whether normal or abnormal, and that it
is to ourselves and not to the discarnate that we have to look for the
explanation of the phenomena of alleged spiritism.

_The Investigations of Émile Boirac_

The men who are working along this line, particularly Geley and Émile
Boirac, by no means deny the phenomena, but they offer another solution.
Boirac, particularly, finds his point of departure in hypnotism and
suggestibility. Now here is a continuation of the line of approach and
interpretation which cleared up the whole confused matter of mesmerism.
We have already seen how the French investigators found the explanation
of what Mesmer and those who followed him have been able to accomplish,
not in magnetic influence or any such thing, but in the remarkable
changes produced in personality by exterior or autosuggestion, and just
as this was the key to the phenomena of mesmerism, it is more likely
than anything else to prove the key to the explanation of the phenomena
of spiritualism, for these are really nothing more than simply aspects
of the trance state, however induced.

It is not necessary to follow, in this connection, Boirac's analysis of
the phenomena attendant upon the trance state, or to consider his
theories as to hypnosis itself. He believes that there are in our
personalities hidden forces which, in the normal conduct of life, are
not brought into action. They are no necessary part of our adjustment to
our working environment; on the whole they complicate rather than
simplify the business of living and they are best--though this is not
his statement but the writer's conclusion from the whole matter--they
are best left unawakened. What we are normally is the outcome of the
adjustment of personality to those creative and shaping forces in
response to which life is most happily and usefully carried on. But when
the waking self and normal self is for the moment put in abeyance and
new forces are evoked from the "vasty deep" of our souls, we are capable
of an entirely different set of manifestations. First of all, those
usually associated with the hypnotic state which do not need to be
further considered here--a great docility to suggestion, unconsciousness
to pain and the like. We have also the possibility of powers which
Boirac calls magnetoidal. "These appear to involve the intervention of
forces still unknown, distinct from those that science has so far
discovered and studied, but of a physical nature and more or less
analogous to the radiating forces of physics: light, heat, electricity,
magnetism, etc."[81]

[Footnote 81: Boirac, "The Psychology of the Future," p. 24. Some recent
French investigations seem to indicate that this force--Myers'
Telekinesis--operating through barriers, changes the magnetic properties
of that through which it passes. Carrington, the most skeptical student
in this region, is inclined to admit its existence. See "The Physical
Phenomena of Spiritualism," p. 359.]

Under this general head he considers Animal Magnetism, what is known
generally as mesmerism, the power, that is, to create hypnotic states in
others; the phenomena of Telepathy "comprising numerous varieties, such
as the transmission or penetration of thought, the exteriorization of
the sensitiveness, psychometry, telepathy, clairvoyance or lucidity,
etc.," and finally states "where physical matter appears to exert over
animate beings, especially human beings, an action that does not seem to
be explicable by any physical or chemical properties already known." He
believes also that there is in human beings a radiating influence
susceptible of being exercised at a distance over other animate beings
or else upon inanimate objects. He finds in trance mediumship all the
elements which enter into any hypnotic state. "The trance is produced
and developed spontaneously, without the intervention of any visible
operator, under the sole effect of the nervous and mental conditions in
which the medium is placed, and among which the _belief in spirits_ and
the expectation of their intervention would appear to play a
considerable part."[82] The italicized words "a belief in spirits" are
extremely significant. In the entranced personality there is the
suggestion, already strongly established, that whatever is experienced
during the trance will be due to spirit intervention or revelation. This
introduces the element of expectant attention. We know on the physical
side of what expectant attention is capable. It becomes a real factor in
all faith healing; it may produce, either for the better or the worse,
far-reaching changes in physical states and it is perfectly possible for
such an expectant attention once fully in action in the trance--given of
course, to begin with, the attitude and interests of the medium in a
waking state--to create all the machinery of controls, revelation and
the like, which characterize trance mediumship.

[Footnote 82: Boirac, "The Psychology of the Future," p. 271.]

Boirac finds, therefore, in spiritism a complex determined by certain
particular nervous and mental states into which there enter, in one form
or another, almost all the facts of abnormal psychology and he believes
that science, faithful to the principle of economy, should consider the
alleged phenomena of spiritism, until proved to the contrary, reducible
to facts of the preceding orders. He does not call the spiritistic
hypothesis impossible; he does believe it ought not to be called in
until every other explanation has been examined and found inadequate and
he is not inclined to believe that we have as yet exhausted other
possible explanations.

One man's authority here is by no means final. F.W.H. Myers has taken
into consideration many of the facts upon which Boirac dwells and on the
whole has reached a different conclusion. But, in general, the more
deeply we advance into the region of abnormal personality and the
phenomena of hypnotic and related states, the more reason there seems to
be for believing that there are resident in human personality powers
which, if at once evoked and released, are sufficient to account for all
mediumistic revelations without assuming that they come from the

_Geley's Conclusions_

Geley has gone much farther in some directions here than any one else.
He is more concerned with the physical phenomena. He has a striking
series of photographs of materialization, the authenticity of which it
is difficult to doubt. He finds an ascending series in abnormal
psychology from neuropathic states to mediumship with gradations which
intensify the abnormal or the supernormal, but in which the continuity
of development is never broken. His analyses here are both keen and
suggestive and tend to confirm the conclusions of other students that we
have resident in human personality elements which are adequate to the
explanation of any phenomena which have been as yet presented.

As far as the physical phenomena go, he cites experiments which seem to
reveal "threads of substance and rigid rods, sometimes visible,
sometimes invisible, proceeding from the fingers of the medium" and
serving as a real mechanism for the movement of distant and sometimes
quite heavy articles. He argues from this that there is a possible
exteriorization of power which may itself be governed by ideas and
believes also that such facts as this will eventually compel us to
recast our conceptions of matter and force and profoundly affect biology
and all evolutionary theories. The whole matter is necessarily obscure,
but such studies do give a new direction and a larger significance to
our whole subject matter.

In substance the spiritistic hypothesis is inadequate; it is too simple,
too easy. We are evidently only upon the threshold of the whole subject.
All conclusions are necessarily inconclusive; there is no region in
which one has less right to be dogmatic. The bearing of it all upon
immortality seems to the writer to be not at all where the spiritists
place it. If human personality has in itself such latent powers, if
there are these extensions of a mysterious force which operate beyond
our normal mechanism, if there are contacts of consciousness deeper than
consciousness itself in which information is given and received outside
normal methods of communication, we are led to conceive that what for
want of a better name we call spirit has an unexpected range and force.
We are by no means so shut in by the walls of the material and the
sensible as we have heretofore supposed. There is a transcendence of
spirit over matter and materially imposed conditions which must give us
pause. If, in the murky ways which have been brought to our attention,
spirit can transcend matter, we have at least one more reason for
affirming its supremacy and one more suggestion of a force or a reality
which may be able to survive even the dissolution of matter itself. In
other words, here is a line of testimony, richly suggestive, though by
no means clear, to the power of the soul to make its own conditions, and
what is immortality but just this?

The phenomena of so-called spiritism, while not as yet justifying
Spiritualism, certainly make a dogmatic materialism increasingly
different. Those of us who are as anxious for a sustaining faith in
immortality as any of our comrades in the great quest may possibly be,
but who are as yet unwilling to accept their conclusions, may
nevertheless find in this subject matter which is common both to us and
to them, the permission to believe that that which is most distinctly
ourselves possesses enduring possibilities. If it may from time to time
break through in curious ways the walls which now shut it in, may it not
in some very real way pass through the gate which Death opens and still
continue in such a richness of consciousness and identity as to organize
for itself another life beyond the grave?

_The Meaning of Spiritism for Faith_

Faith may find its permissions and witnesses in many regions. The writer
believes that faith in immortality finds an added permission in this
region also. Beyond debate, there are laws which we now but dimly
discern and possible forces which only now and again touch the coasts of
our present experience, as tides which sweep in from distant and
mysterious seas. Beyond debate, we may not confine the interplay of mind
with mind to purely physical channels, and under exceptional
circumstances effects may be produced whose causes we have not yet been
able to tabulate. Our conscious lives are rooted deeper than we dream.
They reach out in directions which we do not ourselves know. It may well
be, therefore, that they ascend to heights whose summits we do not see,
and possess a permanence independent of the body which they inhabit, or
the things of seeming sense which surround them, and it may be also that
what is now occult and perplexing and capricious may in the future
become as truly an organized science as the alchemy and the astrology of
the Middle Ages have become the chemistry and astronomy of our own time.
Beyond this one may assert the wholesome commonplace that the main
business of living is in the region of the known and the normal. It is
for our own well-being that the veil hangs dark between this world and
the next. An order in which there was constant passing and repassing
would be impossible. It would be either one thing or the other. It does
demoralize us to be always searching after the secrets of the unseen.
Might it not demoralize those who have passed through the veil to be
always trying to come back? Surely the most fitting preparation for what
awaits us hereafter is the brave conduct of life under those laws and
conditions which are the revelation of the whole solid experience of our
race. Beyond this it is difficult to go and beyond this it is not
necessary to go.



_Border-land Cults_

The cults which we have so far considered are the outstanding forms of
modern free religious movements, but they do not begin to exhaust the
subject matter. Even the outstanding cults have their own border-lands.
New Thought is particularly rich in variants and there are in all
American cities sporadic, distantly related and always shifting
movements--groups which gather about this or that leader, maintain
themselves for a little and then dissolve, to be recreated around other
centers with perhaps a change of personnel. The Masonic Temple in
Chicago is said to be occupied on Sundays all day long by larger or
smaller groups which may be societies for ethical culture or with some
social program or other, or for the study of Oriental religions. One
would need to attend them all and saturate himself far more deeply than
is possible for any single investigator in their creeds or their
contentions to appraise them justly. Their real significance is neither
in their organization, for they have little organization, nor in their
creed, but in their temper. They represent reaction, restlessness and
the spiritual confusion of the time. They can be explained--in part at
least--in terms of that social deracination to which reference has
already been made. They represent also an excess of individualism in the
region of religion and its border-lands.

An examination of the church advertisement pages in the newspapers of
New York, Detroit, Chicago or San Francisco reveals their extent, their
variety and their ingenuity in finding names for themselves. On Sunday,
February 25th, the Detroit papers carried advertisements of Vedanta,
Spiritist and Spiritualist groups (the Spiritist group calls itself "The
Spirit Temple of Light and Truth"), The Ultimate Thought Society, The
First Universal Spiritual Church, The Church of Psychic Research, The
Philosophical Church of Natural Law, Unity Center, The Culture of
Isolan, Theosophy, Divine Science Center, and Lectures on Divine
Metaphysics. Their leaders advertise such themes as: The Opulent
Consciousness, The Law of Non-Attachment, Psychic Senses and
Spirituality, The Continuity of Life, The Spiritualism of Shakespeare,
The Voiceless Code of the Cosmos, The Godlikeness of Divine Metaphysics
in Business. Their themes are not more bizarre, it must be confessed,
than some of the topics announced for the orthodox churches. (Indeed the
church advertisement page in cities whose churches indulge generously in
display advertisements is not altogether reassuring reading.) But, in
general, this list which can be duplicated in almost any large city is
testimony enough to a confusion of cults and a confusion of thought. As
far as they can be classified, according to the scheme of this study,
they are variants of New Thought, Theosophy and Spiritualism. If they
were classified according to William James' "Varieties of Religious
Experience" they would be seen as mystical rather than rational,
speculative rather than practical.

Fort Newton, who speaks of them perhaps more disrespectfully than they
deserve as "bootleggers in religion," finds in these lesser movements
generally a protest against the excessively external in the life of the
Church to-day and a testimony to the quenchless longing of the soul for
a religion which may be known and lived out in terms of an inner
experience. But this certainly is not true of all of them.


There is, however, one other larger and more coherent cult, difficult to
classify, which deserves a more extended notice. That is Bahaism, which,
as it is now taking form, is a leaven rather than a cult. It is an
attempt after spiritual unity and the reduction of religion to very
simple and inclusive forms and a challenge to the followers of religions
widely separated on the surface to be more true to what is deepest in
their faith. It has a long and stirring history and curiously enough is
drawn from Mohammedan sources. Its basal literatures are Arabic and
Persian, "so numerous and in some cases so voluminous that it would
hardly be possible for the most industrious student to read in their
entirety even those which are accessible, a half dozen of the best known
collections in Europe."

We find its genesis, historically, in certain expectations long held by
Persian Mohammedans akin to Jewish Messianic expectations held before
and at the time of Christ. There has been, we know, a tradition of
disputed succession in Mohammedanism ever since the death of the
prophet. Persian Mohammedans believed the true successor of Mohammed to
have been unjustly deprived of his temporal supremacy and they trace a
long line of true successors whose divine right would some day be
recognized and reëstablished. Perhaps we might find a parallel here
among those Englishmen who believe that the true succession of the
English throne should be in the house of the Stuarts, or those royalists
in France who champion the descendants of one or the other former
reigning houses. But the Persian faithful have gone farther than that.
They believe that the last true successor of Mohammed who disappeared in
the tenth century never died, but is still living in a mysterious city,
surrounded by a band of faithful disciples and "that at the end of time
he will issue forth and 'fill the earth with justice after it has been
filled with iniquity.'" A parallel here would be the old stories of
Frederick Barbarossa who waits in his cave for the proper time to come
forth and reassert his imperial power. This curious Persian belief has
worked itself out in a time scheme much like the time schemes of other
Apocalyptic beliefs, the detail of which is difficult enough.

But in substance this hidden and true successor of the prophet has had
from time to time those through whom he reveals himself to the faithful
and makes known his will, and these are known as Babs or gates; "the
gate, that is, whereby communication was reopened between the hidden one
and his faithful followers." The practical outcome of this would be that
any one who could convince Persian Mohammedans that he was the Bab or
"gate" would possess a mystic messianic authority. Such a confidence
actually established would give him an immense hold over the faithful
and make him a force to be reckoned with by the Mohammedan world.

_The Bab and His Successors_

As far as our own present interest is concerned, the movement dates from
1844 when a young Persian merchant announced himself as the Bab. If we
are to find a parallel in Christianity he was a kind of John the
Baptist, preparing the way for a greater who should come after him, but
the parallel ends quickly, for since the Mohammedan Messiah did not
appear, his herald was invested with no little of the authority and
sanctity which belonged to the hidden one himself. The career of the
first Bab was short--1844 to 1850. He was only twenty-four years old at
the time of his manifestation, thirty when he suffered martyrdom and a
prisoner during the greater part of his brief career. The practical
outcome of his propaganda was a deal of bloody fighting between
antagonistic Mohammedan factions. The movement received early that
baptism of blood which gives persistent intensity to any persecuted
movement. His followers came to regard him as a divine being. After his
execution his body was recovered, concealed for seventeen years and
finally placed in a shrine specially built for that purpose at St. Jean
d'Acre. This shrine has become the holy place of Bahaism.

During one period of his imprisonment he had opportunity to continue his
writings, correspond with his followers and receive them. He was thus
able to give the world his message and we find in his teachings the germ
of the gospel of Bahaism. Before his death he named his successor--a
young man who had been greatly drawn to him and who seemed by his youth,
zeal and devotion to be set apart to continue his work. To this young
man the Bab sent his rings and other personal possessions, authorized
him to add to his writings and in general to inherit his influence and
continue his work. This young man was recognized with practical
unanimity by the Babis as their spiritual head. Owing to his youth and
the secluded life which he adopted, the practical conduct of the affairs
of the Babi community devolved chiefly on his elder half-brother
Baha'u'llah. What follows is a confused story of schism, rival claimants
and persecution but the sect grew through persecution and the control of
it came in 1868 into the hands of Baha'u'llah.

During the greater part of his life Baha'u'llah was either an exile or a
prisoner. From 1868 until his death in 1892 he was confined with seventy
of his followers in the penal colony of Acca on the Mediterranean coast.
Meanwhile the faith which centered about him changed character; he was
no longer a gate or herald, he was himself a "manifestation of God"
with authority to change all earlier teaching. He really universalized
the movement. Beneath his touch religion becomes practical, ethical,
less mystic, more universal. He was possessed by a passion for universal
peace and brotherhood. He addressed letters to the crowned heads of
Europe asking them to cooperate in peace movements. It has been
suggested that the Czar of Russia was influenced thereby and that we may
thus trace back to Baha'u'llah the peace movement which preceded the

Pilgrims came and went and through their enthusiasms the movement
spread. After his death there was the renewal of disputes as to the
proper succession and consequent schisms. The power came finally into
the hands of Abdul-Baha who was kept under supervision by the Turkish
government until 1908. He was freed by the declaration of the New
Constitution and carried on thereafter with real power a worldwide
propaganda. He had an unusual and winning personality, spoke fluently in
Persian, Arabic and Turkish and more nearly than any man of his time
filled the ideal rôle of an Eastern prophet. He died in November, 1921,
and was buried on Mt. Carmel--with its memories of Elijah and
millenniums of history--his praises literally being sung by a most
catholic group of Mohammedans, Jews and Eastern Christians.

_The Temple of Unity_

Bahaism as it is held in America to-day is distilled out of the writings
and teachings of Baha'u'llah and Abdul-Baha. Naturally enough, in the
popularization of it its contradictions have been reconciled and its
subtleties disregarded. What is left fits into a variety of forms and is
in line with a great range of idealism. The twelve basic principles of
Bahaism as announced in its popular literature are:

     The Oneness of Mankind.
     Independent investigations of truth.
     The Foundation of all religions is one.
     Religion must be the cause of unity.
     Religion must be in accord with science and reason.
     Equality between men and women.
     Prejudice of all kinds must be forgotten.
     Universal Peace.
     Universal Education.
     Solution of the economic problem.
     An international auxiliary language.
     An international tribunal.

A program inclusive enough for any generous age. These principles are
substantiated by quotations from the writings of Abdul-Baha and the
teachings of Baha'u'llah. Many things combine to lend force to its
appeal--the courage of its martyrs, its spaciousness and yet at the same
time the attractiveness of its appeal and its suggestion of spiritual
brotherhood. Since the movement has borne a kind of messianic
expectation it adjusts itself easily to inherited Christian hopes. There
are real correspondences between its expected millennium and the
Christian millennium.

How far its leaders, in their passion for peace and their doctrine of
non-resistance and their exaltation of the life of the spirit, are in
debt to the suggestions of Christianity itself, or how far it is a new
expression of a temper with which the Orient has always been more in
sympathy than the West, it would be difficult to say, but in some ways
Bahaism does express--or perhaps reproduces--the essential spirit of the
Gospels more faithfully than a good deal of Western Christianity as now
organized. Those members of Christian communions which are attracted to
Bahaism find in it a real hospitality to the inherited faith they take
over. It is possible, therefore, to belong to the cult and at the same
time to continue one's established religious life without any very great
violence and indeed with a possible intensification of that life.

It is difficult, therefore, to distinguish between Bahaism as it is held
by devout groups in America, so far as ethics and ideals go, from much
that is distinctive in the Christian spirit, though the influence of
Bahaism as a whole would be to efface distinctions and especially to
take the force out of the Christian creeds.

Chicago, or rather Wilmette, is now the center of the movement in
America and an ambitious temple is in the way of being constructed
there, the suggestion for whose architecture is taken from a temple in
Eskabad, Russia. This is to be a temple of universal religion,
symbolizing in its architecture the unities of faith and humanity. "The
temple with its nine doors will be set in the center of a circular
garden symbolizing the all-inclusive circle of God's unity; nine
pathways will lead to the nine doors and each one coming down the
pathway of his own sect or religion or trend of thought will leave at
the door the dogmas that separate and, under the dome of God's oneness,
all will become one.... At night it will be brilliantly lighted and the
light will shine forth through the tracery of the dome, a beacon of
peace and unity rising high above Lake Michigan."

This study has led us into many curious regions and shown to what
unexpected conclusions the forces of faith or hope, once released, may
come, but surely it has revealed nothing more curious than that the old,
old controversy as to the true successor of Mohammed the prophet should
at last have issued in a universal religion and set the faithful to
building a temple of unity on the shores of Lake Michigan.

If this work were to be complete it should include some investigation of
the rituals of the cults. They are gradually creating hymns of their
own; their public orders of service include responsive readings with
meditations on the immanence of God, the supremacy of the spiritual and
related themes. In general they dispense with the sacraments; they have
no ecclesiastical orders and hardly anything corresponding to the
Catholic priesthood or the Protestant ministry, though the Christian
Science reader has a recognized official place. They meet in
conferences; they depend largely upon addresses by their leaders.
Spiritualistic movements organize themselves around séances. They use
such halls as may be rented, hotels, their own homes; they have not
generally buildings of their own save the Christian Science temples
which are distinctive for dignity of architecture and beauty of
appointment in almost every large city.

_General Conclusions; the Limitations of the Writer's Method_

It remains only to sum up in a most general way the conclusions to which
this study may lead. There has been a process of criticism and appraisal
throughout the whole book, but there should be room at the end for some
general statements.

The writer recognizes the limitations of his method; he has studied
faithfully the literature of the cults, but any religion is always a
vast deal more than its literature. The history of the cults does not
fully tell their story nor does any mere observation of their worship
admit the observer to the inner religious life of the worshippers. Life
always subdues its materials to its own ends, reproduces them in terms
of its own realities; there are endless individual variations, but the
outcome is massively uniform. Religion does the same thing. Its
materials are faiths and obediences and persuasions of truth and
expectations of happier states, but its ultimate creations are character
and experience, and the results in life of widely different religions
are unexpectedly similar. Both theoretically and practically the truer
understanding or the finer faith and, particularly, the higher ethical
standards should produce the richer life and this is actually so. But
real goodness is everywhere much the same; there are calendared saints
for every faith.

There is an abundant testimony in the literature of the cults to rare
goodnesses and abundant devotion, and observation confirms these
testimonies. Something of this is doubtless due to their environment.
The Western cults themselves and the Eastern cults in the West are
contained in and influenced by the whole outcome of historic
Christianity and they naturally share its spirit. If the churches need
to remember this as they appraise the cults, the cults need also to
remember it as they appraise the churches. Multitudes of Catholics and
Protestants secure from a religion which the cults think themselves
either to have corrected or outgrown exactly what the cults secure--and
more. Such as these trust God, keep well, go happily about their
businesses and prove their faith in gracious lives. There is room for
mutual respect and a working measure of give and take on both sides.

The writer is inclined to think the churches at present are more
teachable than the more recent religious movements. For a long
generation now the churches have been subject to searching criticism
from almost every quarter. The scientist, the sociologist, the
philosopher, the publicist, the discontented with things as they are and
the protagonist of things as they ought to be, have all taken their turn
and the Church generally, with some natural protest against being made
the scapegoat for the sins of a society arrestingly reluctant to make
the Church's gospel the law of its life, has taken account of its own
shortcomings and sought to correct them. The cults are as yet less
inclined to test themselves by that against which they have reacted. But
this is beside the point. The movements we have been studying can only
be fairly appraised as one follows through their outcome in life and
that either in detail or entirety is impossible. But it is possible to
gain from their literature a reasonable understanding of their
principles and interrelations and this the writer has sought to do.

_The Cults Are Aspects of the Creative Religious Consciousness of the

Certain conclusions are thus made evident. These movements are the
creation of the religious consciousness of the time. They are aspects of
the present tense of religion. Since religion is, among other things,
the effective desire to enter into right relationships with the power
which manifests itself in the universe there are two variants in its
content; first, our changing understanding of the power itself and
second, our changing uses of it. The first varies with our knowledge and
insight, the second with our own changing sense of personal need. Though
God be the same yesterday, to-day and forever, our understandings of Him
cannot and ought not to be the same yesterday, to-day and forever. Our
faith is modified by, for example, our scientific discoveries. When the
firmament of Hebrew cosmogony has given way to interstellar spaces and
the telescope and the spectroscope plumb the depths of the universe,
resolving nebulæ into star drifts, faith is bound to reflect the change.
The power which manifests itself in the universe becomes thereby a
vaster power, operating through a vaster sweep of law. Our changed
understandings of ourselves must be reflected in our faith and our
ethical insights as well. And because there is and ought to be no end to
these changing understandings, religion itself, which is one outcome of
them, must be plastic and changing.

What we ask of God is equally subject to change. True enough, the old
questions--Whence? Whither? and Why? are constant. As we know ourselves
to be living in a world which is less than a speck in an immensity
wherein the birth and death of suns are ephemeral, we may rightly
distrust our own value for the vaster order. We shall, therefore, the
more insistently ask Whence? and Whither? and Why? But, none the less,
there is always a shifting emphasis of religious need. Our own time is
manifestly more concerned about well-being in the life that now is than
a happy issue in the life which is to come. Temperament also qualifies
experience. The mystic seeks conscious communion with God as an end in
itself; the practical temper asks the demonstration of the love of God
in happy material conditions. In general, action and reaction govern
this whole region. The Puritan was supremely concerned about his own
salvation and the struggle consequent thereto; his descendants were
chiefly interested in the extension of knowledge and the conquest of the
physical order and we react against this in a new return upon ourselves
and the possibilities of personality.

Now these changing understandings of the power which manifests itself in
the universe on the one side and our own changing senses of need on the
other, give to religion a constantly fluctuating character and what is
most distinctively religious in any period must be the outcome of the
combination of these two variants. What an age asks of the God whom it
knows colours the whole of its religious life. These cults and movements
do not wholly represent the creative religious consciousness of our
time, of course; a great deal of that same creative religious
consciousness has given new quality to the organizations and orthodoxies
of the churches. But within the frontiers of historic Christianity it
has been rather the working over of the deposit of faith than an actual
adventure in the making of religion. The cults and movements have not
been thus limited. They have challenged old understandings, broken away
from the older organizations and taken their own line, using such
material as seems proper for their purpose.

They are not wholly independent of the past; some of them have taken the
immemorial speculations of the East for their point of departure though
introducing therein a good many of the permissions or conclusions of
modern science and something of the spirit of Christianity itself. Those
taking their departure from Christianity have claimed rather to
reinterpret and modernize it than to supplant it by their own creations.
Yet when all this is recognized these cults and movements are
particularly the creation of our own time. So accepted, they reveal
strongly the persistence of religion. All these conjectures and
confidences and reachings through the shadows are just a testimony that
few are content to go on without some form of religion or other.

All religion has, in one phase or another, gone through much the same
process. There has been for every religion a time when it took new form
out of older elements, a time when the accepted religions had little
enough sympathy for and understanding of what was taking place about
them while those committed to new quests were exultant in the
consciousness of spiritual adventure and discovery and heard the morning
stars sing together for joy. What is thus begun must submit always to
the testimony of time. In the end a religion is permanent as it meets
the great human needs and adjusts itself to their changing phases. It is
imperial and universal as it meets these needs supremely. If in addition
it be capable of organization, if there be within it room for expansion,
and if, on the whole, it justifies itself by the outcome of it in life
and society it will persist, and if it persists through a long period of
time and creates for itself literatures, dogmas and authorities, it
becomes as nearly fundamental as anything can be in this world. It
creates cultures, shapes civilizations, colours art, establishes ideals
and fills the whole horizon of its devotees.

If a religion is to endure it must meet a wide range of need; it must be
plastic and yet invest itself with the sanctions of History. For the
conservative it must possess the note of authority and at the same time
promise freedom to the liberal. It must persuade the forward-looking
that it holds within itself the power to meet changing conditions. It
must offer a satisfying experience to the mystic and the practically
minded and deliverance to the despairing. It must be able to build into
its structure new sciences and philosophies and yet it must touch the
whole of life with some sense of the timeless, and above all, it must
include the whole of life, nor depend upon particularized appeals or
passing phases of thought. Historic Christianity has more nearly met all
these tests than any other religion, for though under the stress of
meeting so great a variety of needs and conditions it has organized
itself into forms as different as Latin Catholicism and the Society of
the Friends, so losing catholicity of organization, it has secured
instead a catholicity of spirit and a vast elasticity of appeal which
are the secret of its power and the assurance of its continuing and
enduring supremacy.

_Their Parallels in the Past_

Now by such tests as these what future may one anticipate for such cults
as we have been studying? Are they likely to displace the historic forms
of Christianity, will they substantially modify it, or will they wear
away and be reabsorbed? Evidently one of these three things must happen.
This is not the first time in the Western world that historic and
authoritative Christianity has been challenged. We should have, perhaps,
to go back to the fourth century to find an exact parallel and then we
should find in the vast and confused movement of Gnosticism an
unexpected parallel to a great deal of what is happening about us.
Gnosticism was the effort of a reason excessively given to speculation,
undisciplined and greatly unrestrained by any sense of reality to
possess and transform the Church. Various forces combined to build its
fabric of air-born speculation and though for the time it gave the
patristic Church the hardest fight of its existence, the discipline of
the Church was too strong for it. Its own weaknesses proved eventually
its undoing and Gnosticism remains only as a fascinating field of study
for the specialist, only a name if even so much as that for the
generality of us and valuable chiefly in showing what speculation may do
when permitted at will to range earth and sky, with a spurious
rationalism for pilot and imagination for wings.

There have been, beside, in the history of the Church many other
movements possessing a great staying power and running in some cases for
generations alongside the main current of religious development, until
they finally disappeared with the changing centuries. Arguing from such
historical precedents as these one might easily assume a like fate for
the Gnosticism of our own time, and yet a note of caution is needed here
for there are divisive religious movements which have as yet neither
failed nor been absorbed in that from which they took their departure.
The expectation of the Catholic Church that Protestantism will spend its
force and be lost again in the majestic fabric of Latin Catholic
Christianity as it is continued amongst us, is as far from realization
to-day, or farther, than at any time in the last 300 years. We need to
remember also that conditions change. The right of individual initiative
and judgment once secured in the region of religion is not likely ever
to be lost. A good many divergent movements have literally been whipped
back into line or else put out in fire and blood. Nothing of that sort
is likely to happen now.

No student of history should be blind to the sequence of action and
reaction. A period of excessive dependence upon authority may follow a
period of undue self-assertion, but it is not likely that we shall ever
find recreated exactly the conditions of the past or that religion can
hereafter be held, as it has heretofore, in relatively well marked
channels under the stress of accepted authorities. Prophecy is hazardous
business but it is safe to assume that these modern religious cults and
movements represent the beginnings of a freer, more diffused, less
formal religious faith. The peculiar cults themselves may reach their
term but the temper which produced them is likely to continue and with
other groupings of forces produce something in the future which will at
least be their parallel.

_The Healing Cults Likely to be Adversely Influenced by the Scientific
Organisation of Psycho-therapy_

As far as the fortunes of the distinctive cults themselves go, one's
conclusions may be less tentative. For the most part the foundations
upon which they are built are not big enough to carry an ample and
secure structure. They have been made possible not only by marked
limitations in historic religion itself, but also by contemporaneous
tempers which, one may sincerely hope, are self-limiting, and this is
said not through undue prejudice against the cults themselves, but
simply because one is loath to believe that the want of critical
faculty which has made some of these cults possible will not in the end
yield to experience and a really sounder education. Since, moreover,
some of them--and Christian Science, preëminently--depend upon faith and
mental healing, whatever helps us to a clearer understanding of the
nature and limits of psycho-therapy will greatly affect their future.
All faith healing cults have heretofore depended very greatly upon the
atmosphere of mystery with which they have been able to surround
themselves. The fact that they have been able to secure results with no
very clear understanding of the way in which the results have been
secured has invested them with awe and wonder, so essential to every

But as psycho-therapy itself becomes organized, works out its laws,
develops its own science and particularly as the knowledge of all this
is extended and popularized, they will lose their base of support. For
this reason the writer believes that the final explanation of all faith
and mental healing in terms of some form of suggestion which is just now
strongly in evidence will prove a distinct service to us all.

The intimate association of religion and healing has, on the whole, been
good neither for religion nor health. Of course, this statement will
probably be sharply challenged but it is maintained in the face of
possible challenge. As far as religion goes it has withdrawn the
interest of the religious, thus influenced, from the normal expressions
of the religious life to border-land regions; it has stressed the
exceptional rather than the sweep of law, and the occult rather than the
luminously reasonable. Where it has failed in individual cases, as it
is bound to fail, it has left those thus disillusioned without any sound
basis for their faith and generally has driven them away from religion
altogether. It has tempted religious teachers to win a hearing by signs
and wonders. Even the Founder of the Christian religion grew weary of
this, as the records show plainly enough, in that He saw His true work
to be thereby not helped but hindered, and if this be true of the
Founder it is by so much the more true of His followers.

On the scientific side this temper has hindered honest thinking,
laborious investigation and that specialization which is absolutely
necessary to the furtherance of any great division of human effort.
Medicine made little progress until it got itself free of the Church.
Specifically the average minister is neither by training nor temperament
fitted for healing work and those laymen who have assumed that office
have generally been wanting in balance and self-restraint. This is not
to deny the reality of a power not ourselves making for health and
well-being generally, or the power of faith, or the efficacy of prayer.
Least of all is God, upon this understanding, to be shut out of life.
But the power not ourselves which makes for faith and healing is best
known through laborious investigation, the discovery of methods and
obediences to ascertained law. When we have clearly come to see the
nature of psycho-therapy, the occult authority of healing cults will in
the end yield to this understanding and the cults themselves be greatly
weakened or displaced.

One must recognize, on the other hand, the staying power of any
well-established religious system. Through nurture and those profound
conservatisms which hold more tenaciously in the region of religion than
anywhere else, it is possible to continue from generation to generation
the unreasonable or the positively untrue, and this holds in the Church
as well as outside it. None the less, the most coherent systems must
reckon with their own weaknesses. Christian Science may have before it a
long period of solid going or even marked growth, but its philosophy
will at last yield to the vaster sweep of a truer philosophic thought.
Its interpretations of historic Christianity will come up again and
again for examination until their fallacies become apparent and its
force as a system of psycho-therapy will be modified by simpler and more
reasonable applications of the same power.

_New Thought Will Become Old Thought_

New Thought is likely to take a different course but it also will have
to reckon with changing sciences and philosophies. What is New Thought
to-day will be old thought to-morrow; it will be challenged by new
expressions of the spirit which begot it. It will endure, therefore,
only as it is open, flexible and possesses a great power of
accommodation. But as long as understandings and ideals are fluid, as
long as religion is under bonds to take account of all the elements
which must be incorporated in it in order to enlarge and continue it, as
long, in short, as the human spirit outgrows fixed forms in any region
there is likely to be in religion itself something corresponding to the
New Thought of to-day, but this will be true only as New Thought is not
a cult at all but something larger--a free and creative movement of the
human spirit.

Of all these cults it has made the soundest contribution to religion as
a whole. It is also more easily assimilated, more easily absorbed. Its
own distinct field will be limited by the increasing hospitality of
Christian thought to contemporaneous truth. A wholly open-minded church
will go a long way toward taking from New Thought its raison d'être. Its
future depends, therefore, very largely upon the open-mindedness of the
older and more strongly established forms of religion.

The future of Spiritualism is greatly open to conjecture. We have
already seen the alternatives which Spiritualism is called upon to face
and the uncertainties which attend its conclusions. A fuller
understanding of the possibilities of abnormal personality and the reach
of automatism are likely to work against Spiritualism. If we find
ascertainable causes for its phenomena resident within personality
itself there will be no need of calling in the other world in order to
explain what is happening in this. On the other hand, if there should
evidence an increasing and tested body of facts which can be explained
only in terms of spiritistic communications, Spiritualism will naturally
make headway. But we are certainly standing only upon the threshold of a
scientific interpretation of spiritistic phenomena and until the whole
region has been very much more carefully worked through and far more
dependable facts are in hand, one can only say that Spiritism is a
hypothesis which may or may not be verified, and attend the outcome.

It is hard to believe that Theosophy and kindred speculation will ever
get a strong hold upon the practical Western mind. It owes what force it
has either to an excessive love of the speculative on the part of a few,
or else to that particular temper which always wants something else and
something new, or else to wearinesses and misunderstandings of the more
shadowed side of life. Theosophy is greatly at the mercy of the
positive, practical temper; it will always find a prevailing competitor
in the Christian doctrine of immortality. Whatever, moreover, explains
the apparent inequalities of life in more simple and reasonable terms
will cut the roots of it. The movement toward religious syncretism of
which Bahaism is just now the expression will not be so easy to dispose
of. There will always be a temper impatient of the past, eager for
unity, anxious for something big and interpenetrating. Historically this
temper has from time to time emerged, particularly in the latter phases
of Roman paganism, and there is likely to be a larger interchange of
religious faith and understanding in the future than there has been in
the past.

In general, this desire for a universal religion, simple and wanting in
distinctive characters, follows a weakening of conviction, a loss of
passion for accepted forms. If anything should deepen again amongst us
in religion what corresponds just now to the passion for nationality
these more general religious quests would suffer. A strong feeling for a
church or a creed or one's own movement would displace them. They have,
on the other hand, in their favour the general tendency of all religion
toward simplicity, the reduction of faith, that is, to a few broad and
generally shared elements. But there is no reason to anticipate a speedy
breakdown of what one may call particularist religion and the
substitution therefor of a faith built up out of many diverse elements
and held in common by widely separated tempers.

_There is Likely to be Some Absorption of the Cults by a Widening
Historic Christianity_

If the past supplies analogy or suggestion there will be some tendency
for the cults and movements to be reabsorbed by the dominant religious
forms from which they have broken off. A careful analysis of this
statement would involve the consideration of a finality of Christianity
as now held in the Western world. That is impossible in the range of a
study like this. Any general statement is of course coloured by the
temper of the one who makes it and to a certain extent begs the whole
great question. But a careful and dispassionate examination of
present-day cults would seem to indicate that they really have nothing
to offer which the dominant Christianity does not possess either
explicitly or implicitly. There is a solidity of human experience behind
its forms and creeds which cannot be lightly left out of account. They
represent the travail of twenty centuries and have behind them far
older confidences and hopes. If Christianity should widen itself to the
full limit of its possibilities, it would leave little room for that
which seeks to supplant it and would meet the needs which have begotten
the cults in far richer and more reasonable ways.

As far as the cults are mistakenly distinctive, as far as they cannot
stand a careful examination, they represent what must be corrected and
cannot be absorbed. Christianity can absorb New Thought far more easily
than Christian Science. Theosophy in its extremer forms it cannot absorb
at all. It is more hospitable to the quest for a universal religion for
it seeks itself to be a universal religion and can never achieve its
ideal unless it takes account of the desire for something big enough to
include the whole of life, East as well as West, and to make room within
itself for a very great variety of religious tempers.

_But Christianity is Being Influenced by the Cults_

If Christianity is not to reabsorb the cults in their present form, it
must, as has been said over and over again, take account of them and it
is not likely to go on uninfluenced by them. Already it has yielded in
some directions to their contentions. If it feels itself challenged by
them it must meet that challenge not so much by intolerance as by the
correction of conditions which have made them possible, and here its
most dependable instruments are education and self-examination. There is
need of a vast deal more of sheer teaching in all the churches. The
necessity for congregations and the traditions of preaching conspire to
make the message of the Church far less vital than it ought to be.
Preaching is too much declamation and far too much a following of narrow
and deeply worn paths.

The cults themselves represent a craving for light, especially in the
regions of pain and loss. Historic Christianity has lost out because it
has made religion too self-centered, not that the cults are a corrective
here, for they are even more self-centered--that is one of their great
faults. The individual is not the center of the world; he is part of a
larger order concerned for great ends for which his life can only be
contributory. The Church and the cults together have forgotten too
largely that life is sacred only as we lose it. We need in the churches
generally a braver personal note and a very much larger

It is interesting to note that the movement of the cults, with the
possible exception of New Thought, has been away from rationalism rather
than in the direction of it. This is a consideration to be taken into
account. It would seem on the surface of it to indicate that what people
are wanting in religion is not so much reason as mysticism and that for
the generality religion is most truly conceived in terms not of the
known but of the unknown. If the Christian Church is to meet the
challenge of the cults with a far more clearly defined line of teaching,
it is also to meet the challenge of the cults with a warmer religious
life, with the affirmation of an experience not so much tested by crises
and conversions as by the constant living of life in the sense of the
divine--to use Jeremy Taylor's noble phrase: in the Practice of the
Presence of God. The weakness of the cults is to have narrowed the
practice of the presence of God to specific regions, finding the proof
of His power in health and well-being. If we can substitute therefor the
consciousness of God in the sweep of law, the immensity of force, the
normal conduct of life, in light and understanding, in reason as well as
mysticism and science as well as devotion, we shall have secured a
foundation upon which to build amply enough to shelter devout and
questing souls not now able to find what they seek in the churches
themselves and yet never for a moment out of line with what is truest
and most prophetic in Christianity itself.

Sir Henry Jones has a paragraph in his "Faith that Enquires" distinctly
to the point just here. "The second consideration arises from the
greatness of the change that would follow were the Protestant Churches
and their leaders to assume the attitude of the sciences and treat the
articles of the creeds not as dogmas but as the most probable
explanation, the most sane account which they can form of the relation
of man to the Universe and of the final meaning of his life. The
hypothesis of a God whose wisdom and power and goodness are perfect
would then be tried and tested, both theoretically and practically, and,
I believe, become thereby ever the more convincing. The creed would be
not merely a record of an old belief to be accepted on authority, but a
challenge to the skeptic and the irreligious. The Church, instead of
being a place where the deliverances of ancient religious authorities
are expounded, and illustrated by reference to the contents of one book
and the history of one nation--as if no other books were inspired and
all nations save one were God-abandoned--the Church would be the place
where the validity of spiritual convictions are discussed on their
merits, and the application of spiritual principles extended; where
enquiring youths would repair when life brings them sorrow,
disappointment or failure, and the injustice of man makes them doubt
whether there be a God, or if there be, whether he is good and has
power, and stands as the help of man. Recourse to their certified
spiritual guides, knowing that full and sympathetic justice will be done
to all their difficulties, ought to be as natural to them as their
recourse to the physical laboratory or the workshop of the mechanician
when an engine breaks down."[83]

[Footnote 83: "A Faith that Enquires," p. 82.]

_Medical Science Should Take a More Serious Account of the Healing

Not only the churches but the schools and particularly Medical Science
need to take account of the cults. They constitute perhaps one of the
sharpest indictments of present-day education. Many of their adherents
are nominally educated above the average. They have secured for what
they follow the authority which always attaches, in the American mind,
to the fact that those who champion any movement are college bred, and
yet the want of clear vision, the power to distinguish and analyze,
along with the unexpected credulities which are thus made manifest,
seem to indicate arresting deficiencies in popular education. It has
left us unduly suggestible, much open to mass movement, at the mercy of
the lesser prophets and wanting in those stabilities and understandings
upon which a sound culture is to be built. When we consider what they
are capable of believing who have had college or university training, we
must conclude either that contemporaneous education is wanting in the
creation of sound mental discipline, or else that we have a strange
power of living in water-tight compartments and separating our faith
wholly from our reason.

The cults which are organized around faith and mental healing at once
challenge and in a measure indict modern medical science. In many
directions all these movements are reactions against an excessive
materialism; they affirm the power of personality as against its
environment, testify that the central problems of life may be approached
from the spiritual as well as from the physical and material side. It
would not for a moment be fair to say that modern Medicine is ignoring
this. There has probably always been a considerable element of mental
healing in any wise medical practice. But on the whole, the marvellous
successes and advances in Medical Science within the last thirty years
and the very great success which has attended the definition of all
diseases in terms of physical disarrangement has led physicians
generally unduly to underestimate or ignore the undoubted power of faith
and mind over bodily states.

Even as a matter of scientific investigation medicine as a whole has not
taken this line of approach seriously enough. The Society for Psychical
Research has something to teach the medical faculties just here. That
Society, as we have seen, set out in the most rigorous and scientific
way possible to find out first of all just what actual facts lay behind
the confused phenomena of Spiritualism. They have given a long
generation to just that. As they have finally isolated certain facts
they have, with a good deal of caution, undertaken to frame hypotheses
to account for them and so, with the aid of the students of abnormal
personality, they are gradually bringing a measure of order into the
whole region. Medical Science on the whole has not done this in the
region of faith and mental healing. We are, therefore, far too uncertain
of our facts. A good deal of this is open to correction. If a Society
for Psycho-Therapeutic Research should be organized, which would follow
up every report of healings with an accurate care, beginning with the
diagnosis and ending with the actual physical state of the patient as
far as it could be ascertained by the tests at their disposal, they
could greatly clarify the popular mind, prevent a vast deal of needless
suffering, save the sick from frustrated hope and secure for their own
profession a distinct reinforcement and an increased usefulness.

_A Neglected Force_

If they thus find--as is likely--that the real force of Psycho-therapy
has been largely overestimated, that imagination, wrong diagnosis and
mistaken report as to the actual physical condition have all combined to
produce confidences unjustified by the facts, we should begin to come
out into the light. And if, on the other hand, they found a body of
actual fact substantiating Psycho-therapy they would do well to add
courses therein to the discipline of their schools.[84] The whole thing
would doubtless be a matter for specialization as almost every other
department of medicine demands specialization. Every good doctor is more
or less a mental healer, but every doctor cannot become a specialist in
Psycho-therapy, nor would he need to.

[Footnote 84: But this is already being done.]

Temperamental elements enter here very largely. But we might at least
take the whole matter out of the hands of charlatans and the
half-informed and establish it upon a sound scientific basis. There is,
beyond debate, a real place for the physician who utilizes and directs
the elements of suggestion. They have gone farther, on the whole, in
this direction in France and Switzerland than we have in America.
Evidently we are standing only upon the threshold of marked advances
along these lines. Psycho-therapy can never be a substitute for a
medical science which deals with the body as a machine to be regulated
in its processes, defended against hostile invasion or reinforced in its
weaknesses, but there is also another line of approach to sickness. A
catholic medical science will use every means in its power.

_The Cults Must be Left to Time and the Corrections of Truth_

Beyond such general considerations as these there is little to be said.
The Christian churches will gain nothing by an intolerant attitude
toward expressions of faith and spiritual adventures beyond their own
frontiers. Just as there is a constant selective process in answer to
which the historic churches maintain their existences, a selective
process controlled by association and temper, in that some of us are
naturally Catholics and some Protestants, there are tempers which do not
take kindly to inherited organization, authority or creed. Such as these
are seekers, excessive perhaps in their individuality, but none the less
sincere in their desire for a faith and religious contact which will
have its own distinct meaning for their own lives. And if there may seem
to some of us elements of misdirection or caprice or unreason in their
quests, it is perhaps in just such ways as these that advances are
finally made and what is right and true endures.

If nothing at all is to be gained by intolerance, nothing more is to be
gained by an unfair criticism and, in general, all these movements must
be left to the adjustments of time and the corrections of truth.

We began this study by defining religion as the effective desire to be
in right relation with the power which manifests itself in the universe.
How vast this power is we are just beginning to find out. How various we
are in our temperaments and what unsuspected possibilities there are in
the depths of personality we are also just beginning to find out. There
is possible, therefore, a vast variation of contact in this endeavour to
be in right relation with the power which faith knows and names as God.
In an endeavour moving along so wide a front there is room, naturally,
for a great variety of quest. When we have sought rightly to understand
and justly to estimate the more extreme variants of that quest in our
own time, we can do finally no more than, through the knowledge thus
gained, to try in patient and fundamental ways to correct what is false
and recognize and sympathize with what is right and leave the residue to
the issue of the unresting movements of the human soul, and those
disclosures of the Divine which are on their Godward side revelation and
on their human side insight, understanding and obedience.

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"Holds an unchallenged place among aids to the interpretation of the
Scriptures."--_Baptist Review and Expositor._

"Of immense service to Biblical students."--_Methodist Times._

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge _Introduction by R.A. Torrey_

Consisting of 500,000 Scripture References and Parallel Passages. 788
pages. 8vo. Cloth. $3.00.

"Bible students who desire to compare Scripture with Scripture will find
the 'Treasury' to be a better help than any other book of which I have
any knowledge."--_R.R. McBurney, Former Gen. Sec., Y.M.C.A., New York._

_A.R. BUCKLAND, Editor_

Universal Bible Dictionary

511 pages. 8vo. Cloth. $3.00.

_Dr. Campbell Morgan_ says: "Clear, concise, comprehensive. I do not
hesitate to say that if any student would take the Bible, and go through
it book by book with its aid, the gain would be enormous."


       *       *       *       *       *

_ROGER W. BABSON Author of "Fundamentals of Prosperity," etc._

New Tasks for Old Churches

Cloth, $1.00. Paper, 60c.

Suggestions for the solution of to-day's problems, clear-cut and
courageous. Babson has little sympathy with the arguments of
self-interest of business men or with the outworn methods of the church
in industrial communities. His sole interest is in the physical, social,
and spiritual salvation of the men, women, and children in our
industrial centres.


_Author of "The New Church For The New Time" etc._

The Church in the Present Crisis $1.75.

Hon. Josephus Daniels says: "Dr. Harper has ably presented the demand
that the church shape the thought and life of the future. The world,
having tried everything else, is becoming convinced that no Golden Rule
alone will be the savior. Dr. Harper wisely stresses study of the Bible,
the Christian leaven in education, the duty to look difficult problems
in the face and solve them by application of the Christian religion. It
is a book of faith with wise directions and guidance."


_Author of "Modern Church Management."_

Money Talks

Stimulating Studies in Christian Stewardship. $1.25.

Ministers and laymen, who desire to present convincingly the principles
and practices which should govern Christians in getting and using money,
will find here a wealth of fresh material, popular in style, yet deeply
inspiring in tone. A companion volume to "Modern Church Finance" and
"Modern Church Management."


_Editor "Methodist Recorder."_

Democratic Methodism in America

A Topical Survey of the Methodist Protestant Church. $1.50.

A history of the Methodist Protestant church from its founding in 1830,
pointing out the various links in the chain of circumstances which lead
to the organization of the Methodist Protestant Church and the
fundamental principles which prompted and justified the movement. It
constitutes a vigorous and ably-argued plea for "mutual rights"


       *       *       *       *       *


_Author of "The Christ We Forget"_

The _Church_ We Forget.

A Study of the Life and Words of the Early Christians. 8vo, cloth, net

The author of "The Christ We Forget" here furnishes a companion-picture
of the earliest Christian Church--of the men and women, of like feelings
with ourselves, who followed Christ and fought His battles in the Roman
world of their day. "Here again," says Mr. Wilson, "my paint-box is the
Bible, and nothing else--and my canvas is a page which he who runs may


_Head of the Department of English in the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.

Key-note Studies in Key-note Books of the Bible 12mo, cloth, net

The sacred books dealt with are Genesis, Esther, Job, Hosea, John's
Gospel, Romans, Philippians, Revelation. "No series of lectures yet
given on this famous foundation have been more interesting and
stimulating than these illuminating studies of scriptural books by a
layman and library expert."--_Christian Observer._


God's First Words

Studies in Genesis, Historic, Prophetic and Experimental. 12mo, cloth,

Dr. Watson shows how God's purposes and infinite wisdom, His plan and
purpose for the race, His unfailing love and faithfulness are first
unfolded in the Book of Genesis, to remain unchanged through the whole
canon of Scripture. Dr. Watson's new work will furnish unusual
enlightment to every gleaner in religious fields, who will find "God's
First Words" to possess great value and profit.


_Author of "Sixty Years of American Life," etc._

A Lawyer's Study of the Bible

Its Answer to the Questions of To-day. 12mo cloth, net

Mr. Wheeler's main proposition is that the Bible, when wisely studied,
rightly understood and its counsel closely followed, is found to be of
inestimable value as a guide to daily life and conduct. To this end Mr.
Wheeler examines its teachings as they relate to sociology, labor and
capital, socialism, war, fatalism, prayer, immortality. A lucid, helpful

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