Spiritual Healing (1)

(Part I)
W. John Murray
The Astor Lectures
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1917, 8th ed.

“Alive I fell among my fellows slain,
Yet wounded so that each one thought me dead.
But when I opened first my eyes again
Night’s curtain black upon the earth was spread
And through the darkness to my feeble sight
Appeared the twinkling of a slender light.
My wounds began to smart, my hurts to ache:
Two men appear
With each a lamp in hand, who said ‘O son
In that dear Lord who helps his servants, trust
Who, ere they ask, grants all things to the just.’
This said, they mumbled hymns and psalms and
holy things,
Which I could neither hear, nor understand:
‘Arise,’ quoth they; with that, as I had wings,
All whole and sound I leaped up from the land.
O miracle, sweet, gentle, strange and true!
My limbs new strength received and vigor new.”

[130] The Church at Jerusalem was in the throes of a great persecution, in consequence of which the Christians, with the exception of the Apostles, were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Saul, at the height of his fame as a persecutor of the Christians, was [131] “Making havoc of the Church.” He had made himself custodian of the garments of those who had stoned Stephen to death; in fact, Saul was really more responsible for that martyrdom than if he had thrown the stones. Scarcely a day passed that he did not enter the houses of the Christians to drag forth both men and women that he might commit them to prison.

Philip was in the city of Samaria preaching the gospel and simultaneously healing the sick, “and many taken with palsies, and they that were lame were healed, and there was great joy in that city.” But there was a certain man called Simon who, by spectacular advertising, had gathered to himself a credulous following, people who had mistaken sorcery for the power of God. Accordingly at the advent of Philip, who spoke “with signs following,” the disciples of the sorcerer abandoned phenomena for reality and became followers of Philip’s doctrine. Simon, seeing himself deserted by his followers and unwilling to remain alone, feigned conversion to the doctrine of Philip, was baptized, and continued with the Apostle, wondering as he beheld the miracles.

In the first century of Christianity it was customary to administer confirmation immediately after baptism, but Philip, being a layman instead of a bishop of the Church, was unable to confer this sacrament. Therefore, when the disciples of Jerusalem heard of the success of his ministry, they sent Peter and John to Samaria to receive the new converts into the shelter [132] of the church. And when Simon saw that, through the laying on of the bishop’s hands, or through the receiving of the sacraments, which meant little less than their passport to martyrdom, they received the Holy Ghost or a fuller understanding of Truth, which enabled them to heal the sick, Simon proposed to buy the gift of God. He offered money to Peter and John, saying “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” It was a grave error on the part of Simon, for the gifts of God are above price, and may not be bought or sold, as is done with the things of the earth. We may not become proprietors of heavenly graces, which are free and voluntary.

The error of the sorcerer who was animated by the spirit of ambition, pride, and perhaps avarice, later crept into the church. The sacraments dwindled to commerce; martyrdom was supplanted by ecclesiastical honors; blessings were exchanged for anathemas; the house of God became the den of thieves, and the gift of healing was withdrawn from the church, as a ray of light is banished from a room by closed blinds. The beggars still sat at the beautiful gate of the temple, but the bishops could no longer bid them “rise and walk.” What the church had gained in materiality, it had lost in spirituality. Its princes could point to marvelous possessions, to rare and precious stones and exquisite statuary, gold, bronze, and priceless paintings in abundance, but they could no longer direct the weary [133] and heavy laden to a healing bishop. In the church metaphysics had given way to politics, creed had usurped the place of Christ, and idealism was swallowed in materialism. The martyrs became those who could not subscribe to creeds which had their inception for the most part in men’s desire to enlarge the girth of the church in order that she might include their sin without losing them heaven. It was thus that the healing mission of the church was lost, and a religion that does not include the healing of the sick ranks in usefulness in the same proportion that a skilled workman without tools ranks in efficiency, or as a great industrial plant without machinery would rank as a producer. Spiritual healing is the trademark of the Christian belief, the seal of Christ’s approval of His Holy Bride.

The gifts of God cannot be purchased with coin of the realm; they are not dispensed by the church; nor are they contained in “herbs and charms wherewith false men increase their patient’s harm.” Where, then, can healing be obtained? Spiritual healing can only be found in idealism which is the true principle of all spiritual healing. Idealism is best defined as “that philosophical view which regards what is thought as alone the actual,” and thought is that substance from which everything emanates, and that to which, in its last analysis, all things may be reduced. Thought, then is the immortal substance of the universe. Ideal thinking is the principle upon which Jesus the Christ based his healing [134] power. He taught that Thought is the substance of all reality and that the act of thinking gives shape to Thought. St. John expressed the same idea when he said that thought “was made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.”

Jesus was the ambassador of Spirit representing divine interests on a mundane plane of existence; he came to do the will of God, and he healed the sick by purely spiritual means. The carpenter’s son was the Prince of Idealists “full of zeal and faith, esteeming lightly all worldly honor, empire, treasure, might.”

The practice of medicine was in vogue sixteen centuries before the advent of Jesus, and the profession had evolved from the interpreting of dreams to “venomous decoctions of reptiles and Spanish flies, mold from dead men’s skulls, and woodlice, compounded with lies!” The evolution of medicine in the last nineteen hundred years seems more theoretical than practical. Dr. Mason Good of London has permitted himself to say: “The effect of medicine on the human system is in the highest degree uncertain, except, indeed, that it has already destroyed more lives than war, pestilence, and famine all combined.” Medicine cannot “minister to a mind diseased,” and sickness is a mental disorder. To cure disease it is necessary to restore order in the mental realm, and right thinking is the only thing that can accomplish this. It is not a nineteenth century idea that Thought is the only reality of the [135] universe. Sages have taught it and poets have echoed it. Byron has beautifully said:–

“The mind can make
Substance, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms that can outlive all flesh.”
And it is possible, by the process of spiritual thinking, to so impregnate the form with the presence of Life that it becomes immune from the ravages of death. Jesus demonstrated this fact in the three days of his entombment. Thought and existence are identical; therefore, the nature of your thought determines the state of your existence. To change your physical condition you have only to change the character of your thinking, and the true method of healing is to elevate your thought above the physical. Thought is a magnet which attracts everything to itself. To liberate the soul from the thraldom of sense, it is only necessary to elevate the thought, and, that accomplished, the body is raised from its prison of pain. To empty the mind of sense testimony and to fill it with the divine image of perfection and hold it in contradistinction to sense testimony is the prayer of faith which shall save the sick; for the divine rays that emanate from a perfect vision of Truth will penetrate the consciousness of the patient “as [136] unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn.”

It is not through asking God to heal that we arrive at the fountain of health, rather is it the realization of God as the only Creator that bears the healing on its wings. Man is the mirror in which God is most perfectly reflected, “and the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light” of this divine image in man. Spiritual healing is begotten of spiritual seeing. Jesus liberated the sinner from the illusion of sin; he healed the sick, and he raised the dead by the simple process of divinely imaging the facts of being in contradistinction to the phenomena of the senses. A leper went to Jesus and worshiped him. Jesus, oblivious to appearance, saw the image of God. The rays of light from that image penetrated the worshiper’s consciousness, and in that light he too saw himself as he was, and immediately “his leprosy was cleansed.” What, then, is disease but a phenomena of the senses that the might of Mind can efface, as light has the power to decompose chemical compounds? Is it more strange that thought can raise the body from its prison of pain, than that the barometer is raised or lowered by air pressure? The pressure of mind is more potent than an atmospheric impulse; for it is the most puissant force in nature, and its rays are the most penetrating. It knows not time nor space, nor can bronze walls alter it.

Jesus was entering Capernaum when He encountered [137] a Centurion, who said: “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.” The Master said “I will come and heal him.” The Centurion expostulated, saying, “I am unworthy of your entrance into my house; speak the word only, for the word proceeds from the mental image. I know this because I have men under me, and I say to one, go, thereby conveying the image in my mind to the mind of the man and he goes; and to another, come, and he comes; I say to my servant, do this, and he does it.” Jesus marveled, for he had met a man who knew that words were the symbols of ideas, and that if he said the word only, the idea would manifest itself in the healing of the servant. And “the servant was healed in the same hour.” It was the compassion of the Master that lent force to his benignity. He was so gentle with the penitent, so compassionate with the sick, and so tender with the tired little children, that his kindness warmed the people’s hearts and made them receptive to the Truth which he imparted.

It is a great art to be kind, for kindness is an ointment that soothes the soul and the body alike, and he who would heal after the example of the Nazarene must not lack in kindness. The sick are victims of delusions, and to banish these imps of sense, tact and discretion guided by intuition are essentially necessary. Never attempt to liberate a prisoner of pain by scoffing at his prison. He knows better than you how [138] hideous it is, and he feels the bonds of his servitude to the uttermost. What he does not know is how to establish his immunity from sickness and how to secure his pardon. Habit is a merciless tyrant, and when sickness has become a habit, it is necessary to change a person’s nature before you can rid him of it.

In the presence of pain we must remember that habit is involuntary and unintentional vice; therefore its slave is an object of compassion and not of ridicule. A person is not to be condemned for an involuntary vice any more than he is to be praised for a compulsory virtue. A breath of forbearance is more potent to heal the sick than a cyclone of theories. Example is as much more powerful than precept as the heavens are higher than the earth. Silver tongued oratory will not vanquish illusions; they must be consumed by the white flame of Spirit.

The sick room is no place for argument. The captives of sense are convinced that disease is a stern reality. It is the office of the idealist to disprove the patient’s belief in the reality of pain by destroying his distress. To destroy disease it is but necessary to realize that Mind is the only reality. He who would remove the clanking chains from the bondman of sense, must first liberate himself from the handcuffs of sin. Sickness sharpens the sensibilities of the sufferer, and leaves him or her susceptible to imperceptible influences. Men who have gone unflinchingly through the nameless hell of [139] war have been known to weep, when ill, over the silent beauty of a few wild violets. Therefore for one under subjection to sin to attempt to release a sick soul is a caricature on Christ’s mission.

Looking through the lens of fear, gnats take on the stature of camels, and compassion on the part of the divine metaphysician with these deluded ones will do more toward correcting the lens than a cataract of empty words. Error is a negative condition and is always at the mercy of positive truth. The higher Truth lifts her voice, the louder error will roar, but error is powerless in the presence of Truth. Evil can never raise an army that the still small voice of Truth will not cause to retreat. What men need is to increase their faith, and this will minimize their fear, to believe more in Mind and less in the phenomena of matter, to have more faith in the Creator and less dependence on the creature.

When man lays hold of the principle of Being and lets go of sense testimony, he will heal the sick involuntarily. Jesus proved that life is more than meat and body than raiment, for life and its manifestation are eternal, all else is transient and ephemeral. Let nothing enter your mind that you do not want to see mirrored in your body. Affirm the Truth without ceasing, and the body will reflect truthful images. Life is one and indestructible, and its rays are inseparable from their divine source. To diagnose [140] disease is to give a name to nothing, to crown deceit with honor, and to exalt fraud. God gave the single name “Good” to everything that He made, and it would be well to bear this in mind when we give names to things. Error is the only illegitimate thing in creation. Shakespeare speaks of error thus:–

“Thou never com’st unto a happy birth,
But kill’st the mother that engendered thee.”
Could a more scientific description of evil be given than this, from the inspired pen of an immortal poet? Shakespeare has said all that can be said and leaves nothing unsaid of error. The more evil is discussed the more its proportion increases. Therefore, silence is its most potent rebuke. Error wears a million masks; it is always the thing we fear, and to unmask evil, fear must be overcome. If it were not for fear, error could not exist even in appearance, the only place it does exist. Evil is not self-sustaining nor self-perpetuating; it owes its life to humanity’s ignorance; and its shadow will lurk in the gloaming until the noon-day of enlightenment evaporates superstition, and Truth is enthroned in the mind of man.

If you educate children to believe in ghosts, you may succeed, in their more mature years, in destroying the shape that the ghost has assumed in the childish mind, but you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to remove the impression [141] of fear that the belief in the ghost has inculcated. The original ghost may be destroyed, but the specters that will come to take its place only Truth can displace. The fear of sickness is the ghost story that loving parents introduce into the childish mind. It is one of the first things they learn, and it is the last thing they forget! It is, therefore, incumbent upon parents to know more about Truth and less about illusion. The child is the product of the parent’s thought, and the adult in turn is the victim of the world’s belief in the reality of evil. The body is the product of the mind. It has not action apart from that with which the mind endows it. Therefore, regulate the mind and the body will respond to that regulation. Like the face of a clock, the body never changes. It is the action of the mind, even as it is the moving of the hands on the dial which is responsible in either case for that which the time piece or the body registers, whether it be true or false. In a follower of Christ, conceit has no place, for pride precedes a fall.

“Who climbeth high on earth he hardest lights,
And lowest falls attend the highest flights.”
It is always well to remember in prosperity’s shallow sea that we sail, “But with Christ’s wind.” When you suffer for righteousness’ sake, and the exemption from sorrow on the part of the worldling seems to mock you, rejoice:–

[142] “The thunderbolt on highest mountains lights,
It never strikes the lower plane.”
If your understanding of Truth is not equal to every demand that others may make upon it, do not be discouraged or become faint-hearted. Use all that you have, and God will refill your spiritual reservoir. No judgment is the only admissible judgment, for who may say that under the same strain of temptation he or she might not have done likewise or worse? No man may measure the strength of temptation until after he has been tried. The only man who overcame all temptation never judged anyone. It has been written that all who live godly shall suffer persecution, but “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand,” and “strong is the hand of God.” (Psalm 87:13.)

A sufferer’s willingness to be rid of his disease is in favor of his cure, but it is more difficult to rid one of the gyves of sin, because the stronghold of error is the belief that there is a pleasure in sinning; the evil-doer does not realize that the pleasures of sin are death. The power of God is not diminished that it cannot save, but the evil-doer must save himself from the effect of sin by forsaking wrongdoing.

Ignorance is the mother of fear, and both are in subjection to Enlightenment. Mind is all and moves all, and every organ in the body responds [143] to the spiritual understanding of this law. There is no desert in which God cannot spread a repast, nor has ignorance ever devised a crime, or fear of disease, that Mind cannot overcome, for God is supreme good, and God is Mind. There is nothing too difficult for spirit to perform, albeit some people yield themselves to the influence of Truth less willingly than others, but “As marble stones are pierced by drops of rain,” Spirit makes its impress on hearts of adamant.

Materiality has lowered the standard of Truth, and only Mind can raise it to its pristine glory. Hatred poisons the hater, therefore there is no injury that warrants hate. Courage is the only weapon permissible to the Idealist, and it is the sword of Spirit. In the furnace of affliction a divine purpose is strengthened as a fire increases flame, and sorrow augments the faith of the righteous, for it turns them from sense to soul. “He that sows godly sorrow reaps joy by heaps,” but beware of

“The brazen trump of iron winged fame
That mingles faithful troth with forged lies,
While it hides Spirit’s fame.”
Love is the substance of Spirit. Disease is invariably caused by the insufficiency of this substance, and to cure disease Love is the only remedy required. Love is the preventive as well as the curative factor in disease, and it is [144] the only peacemaker; history is the proclamation of the prophecy that, “he who scorneth peace shall have his fill of war.”

Emotion must not be mistaken for love; the former is as variable as waves at sea or leaves in wind, the latter as constant and imperishable as the mighty Alps. Love is not blind, but it refuses to see aught but the ideal. The healing power of the God-Man was accomplished through Love. It was the only baggage that Jesus ever carried, the only medicine which he used or ever recommended to others, and it answered every requirement.

The Prince of Idealists replaced ten commandments with a single admonition “Love.” Love is the greatest thing in the world; it is the only thing in heaven. If a pitiful sufferer from a belief in anemia which seems to destroy the human body fibre by fibre, freezing the skin, and wasting the energies, could be brought to comprehend that the practical understanding and demonstration of his own love would heal him, he would be up and about his Father’s business, healing the soul-sick, feeding the poor, and suffering the little ones to come unto him and receive their portion of God’s abundance. To love humanity and serve mankind is to put one’s self in the attitude of mind necessary to the reception of the divine influx of spiritual healing.

Jesus has said that little children always behold the face of their Father; therefore, to serve the little children is to be in touch with God. [145] Death is a total eclipse of existence, but it does not touch Life. Humanity dies of many things of different names with different strange phenomena, but in truth it is not physical disease that eclipses their existence; it is dearth of the love of God scientifically understood. Why minister to the body when it is the mind that is sick? Physical examinations do not point the metaphysician to the mental travail that is responsible for the physical effect. The body is the result of thought, and to have a harmonious body, it is necessary to have your thoughts governed by Truth and not by sense testimony. If the tares of selfishness are choking newborn blades of Truth, the remedy lies in removing the tares and making room for the wheat of righteousness. Mind, not matter, is the only cause. Guard your thoughts, for Satan in the form of suggestion is

“Ever ready ere men need,
If once they think to make them do the deed.”
Christianity understood is Christliness proved. If we are Christians we must be willing to follow Christ through the gloaming as well as on the heights, for the best work is done in the tomb, the clearing house of matter. Congestions is a universal cause of disease, but the congestion is mental, not physical, and its cure lies in restoring circulation in the mind by the realization of harmony as ever present [146] and omnipotent. The body is an earthen vessel which owes its illumination to the lamp of Spirit. It is not the will of God that “the body be neglected, wherein so noble Light doth burn,” but it is the divine will that the body be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Every physical effect is wrought in the realm of Mind.

To go through the eye of the needle (a small gate in the walls of Jerusalem opened to belated merchants after nightfall), it was necessary that the merchants unload the camel’s burdens in order to drag them through the small aperture on their knees; after that they carried the merchandise through and reloaded the animals on the other side of the gate. The gateway of Spirit is narrow, and to enter the New Jerusalem we may be required to unload our minds of such superfluities as pride, hypocrisy, stolidity, and inhumanity, in each and all of their various disguises, but unlike the merchants of old we shall not have to carry these burdens through the gate. Physical existence bears the same relation to Spiritual life that the moon does to the sun; while it is not part of life, it nevertheless receives its illumination from life. Thus we put off existence at the close of a day much as the locust discards its sheath or the chrysalis of another insect is left behind, the earthen vessel painlessly dissolving while the lamp’s flame increases in luminosity and spiritual penetration. The soul of life seems to be retiring [147] to a “more inward and subtle region where it perchance nourishes an even brighter flame than before,” and existence is left behind without regret. It was in this way that the patriarchs passed away, and no mention is made of sickness in the Old Testament until the time for the passing of Israel, when someone told Joseph, “Behold, thy father is sick.” It was thus that death, for the first time was associated with sickness, in which the impartial reaper has no part. If the sick could be persuaded to take no anxious thought for the body, healing would be their quick reward. “Jesus forgave the beautiful Magdalen because she loved much!” If the follower in the sacred pilgrimage of the Nazarene has enough spiritual insight to discern love, albeit frozen in every human breast, he will be able to emulate the divine example and heal with “signs following.”

The heart’s needful nutriment is the love that is expressed in a tender compassion and infinite sympathy with the patient’s foibles, the love that is sufficiently charitable to see only the free woman of Spirit, instead of the bondwoman of sense. You can only give that which you have, and therefore he who would heal spiritually must ever increase his capacity to love. Live peaceably with all mankind, as far, says Paul, as it lies in you. Expect all good things and exact nothing, for what your Father has for you will come to you.

“Give every man thy ear; but few thy voice;
Take every man’s censure: but reserve thy judgment;
This above all; to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
In Italy a plant is found which comes from the deserts of Syria; a plant not unlike that which we call the field daisy and which bears a somewhat similar flower. It is called the Rose of Jericho. In the dry seasons, when the earth about the roots of the plant is devitalized and only dry sand remains, the plant is guided by Intelligence to separate itself from the earth’s grasp and to wrap itself, flower, root and all, into what appears as a little ball. It is then carried on the wings of the wind until it reaches some fresh, sheltered spot, where it unfolds, takes root once more in the earth, raises its head, and quietly blooms once more. It is thus with the individual soul. When it outgrows the sand of formalism, of necessity it must detach itself from the outgrown institution, and recommence its life in the new soil of Spirit. The hour comes when every disciple of Truth must stand alone with his own soul and rise into higher manifestation of power, or fall into a lesser expression, according to his spiritual knowledge. So narrow is the path which the pilgrim must tread in his ascent up the mountain [149] of Spirit that many times he must, of necessity, travel alone; but one with God is a majority, and the traveler’s heavenly guide, the Lord Christ Jesus, is always within call, although higher up on the mountain.

To be alone with God is to be with all that is real. Human affection may fail; the most sacred earthly ties may be broken, cherished friends absent in the hour of our extremity, but the love which is God is ever present and omnipotent. The hour of material desertion is the moment of our Spiritual birth; for only as we rise above a material dependence can the angels of the Christ’s presence come and minister unto us. Always the never setting sun of God’s protection, although behind a silver cloud, is streaming out its beams on every side. When Love has disarmed your life of every conventional defense, then, in deed and in Truth has God become the rock of your salvation. Trials of faith are followed by heavenly calm and a tender sense of God’s nearness. The God-inspired are neither deterred nor alarmed by torment, slaughter, fire, or sword. Hate and spite may devise slander, “for the thirst for glory can no partner bide,” but God who has sent you on His mission “thee with His hand shall guide, keep and defend.”

Fear is an indication that more Love is required. It is better to rise and fall than to sit still afraid to move, for “the fear of ill exceeds the ill we fear.” To overcome fear it [150] is often necessary to encounter the condition which we would avoid and thereby prove the nothingness of it.

Mind and form are one, and both are Spiritual and Eternal. What has been called “mortal mind and body” are but the superstitious beliefs concerning Mind and Form, the limitations preceded by ignorance of the illimitable and eternal. In the presence of ignorance it is well to remember that she “caused the soul to decay; therefore, desert her platitudes for rugged enlightenment.”

If you are made a victim of the pitiful jealousy of such ones as the rays of your light may have attracted from the mire of ungodliness, and if these sting you or yours, “as stings a snake that to the fire is brought which harmless lay, benumbed with cold before,” be glad that you are counted worthy to participate in the Lord’s Supper. When you are persecuted for the good which you have done, fear not, “Men propose, but high gods dispose,” and the disposition will be made in favor of God’s instrument. Men would do better if they knew better, and it is the business of the true apostle to educate them and heal them. It requires infinite patience to instruct humanity in the way of righteousness. The senses of men are as blind to the beams of Truth as are “owls to the sun’s rays.” And often it is necessary to merge slowly in introducing the deep things of Truth into unprepared soil. To rouse people from [151] sin takes time, and we must not expect the adamant of habit to yield at the first blow of the spiritual hammer. Let men walk by the light of your example until they have drawn the oil of Spirit from the universal supply, and having filled their lamp and lit it, they can walk by their own light, that light which is God.

Life is never dependent on bodily conditions, either before or after death. Life is God and is as inseparable from God as a sunbeam is inseparable from its source. The rays of Life illumine the body, but they are not of the body. To believe that life depends on bodily structure, or that because its rays cease to function in a certain body, the individual is dead, is to reveal our ignorance of what Life really is. Life was never limited to a body. It merely shone there temporarily, passing on its way to eternity, and it will ever continue to shine in the same individuality although we no longer see the personality, the limitation of our senses having blinded us to its form.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth
Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.”

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