« ZurückWeiter »
CURATIVE POWERS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.
as the continual succession of these (miraculous) powers through all ages, from the earliest Father who first mentions them down to the time of the Reformation.” So far from being rare and exceptional phenomena,” miracles were supposed to be of familiar and daily occurrence in the lives of the early and mediæval saints. * The British Quarterly Review for October, 1861, in an article on “Christianity and the true Civilizations,” remarks:-" The frequent intervention of supernatural agencies in human affairs was an admitted fact in the faith of the Ancients, and hardly less so in the faith of the Middle Ages. To reject all credence of that nature is peculiar to modern times.” Mr. Morison, in his “Life of Saint Bernard,” observes:-“Miracles, ghostly apparitions, divine and demoniac interference with sublunary affairs, were matters which a man of the twelfth century would less readily doubt of than of his own existence. To disbelieve such phenomena would have been considered good primâ facie evidence of unsoundness of mind.”
“ Saint Bernard, the most marked representative and fitting type of that central period of the middle ages, had visions and revelations, in which future events were revealed to him, and which he predicted with the greatest particularity and accuracy." His healing power was most extraordinary. Herman, Bishop of Constance, and nine others, kept a diary of what they saw with their own eyes, during his progress through the Rhine country. “Many miracles," they say, “from this time shone forth, which, if we should pass over, the very stones would proclaim.
The halt, the blind, the deaf, and dumb, were brought from all parts to be touched by Bernard." + We learn that Bernard himself became perplexed and uneasy at these wonders. He new that they were not done by his own power, and disclaimed all merit in them. He said: “I can't think what these miracles mean, or why God has thought fit to work them through such a one as I. I do not remember to have read, not even in Scripture, of anything more wonderful. Signs and wonders have been wrought by holy men and by deceivers. I feel conscious neither of holiness nor deceit. I know I have not those saintly merits which are illustrated by miracles. I trust, however, that I do not belong to the number of those who do wonderful things in the name of God, and yet are unknown to the Lord." *
* The Contemporary Review, p. 375. + The Two Worlds, p. 53.
But we are not dependent upon what are considered to be the fabulous ages of the Roman Catholic Church for an illustration of the curative power that belongs to some individuals. Mr. Valentine Greatrakes, a Protestant gentleman of the county of Waterford, born in 1628, a thoroughly sound Christian and good man, but no Saint, occupying a highly respectable place in society, showed a power quite equal to that related of St. Bernard. An account is given of this gentleman in Chambers' Journal, No. 314, and quoted in the Appendix to the Atkinson and Martineau's Letters ; Mr. Atkinson having himself considerable mesmeric power in the same way. Mr. Greatrakes, after practising with great success at home, went to England for the purpose of curing the Viscountess Conway of an inveterate headache, in which he failed. But while residing at Ragley, with the Conway family, he cured many hundreds afflicted with various diseases. Lord Conway, in a letter to his brother, thus speaks of the healer:—“I must confess that, before his arrival, I did not believe the tenth part of those things which I have been an eye-witness of. After all, I am far from thinking that his cures
* Ibid, p. 55.
CURATIVE POWER OF MR. GREATRAKES.
miraculous. I believe it is by a sanative virtue and a natural efficiency, which extends not to all diseases, but is much more proper and effectual to some than to others, as he doth also despatch some with a great deal of ease, and others not without a great deal of pains."
He was invited by the King to London, whither he went, curing very many by the way. There the Royal Society, evidently then young and green, threw the light of their countenance and wisdom upon the matter, publishing some of the cures in their Transactions, and accounting for them as produced by “a sanative contagion in Mr. Greatrake's body, which had an antipathy to some particular diseases and not to others." The “sanative contagion” had an pathy" to diseases mostly connected with the nervous system, upon which Mind and Will are known to exercise most influence, the nervous fluid from one body being infused into another. We are told by a contemporary writer, Henry More, mentioned by Southey in his “Omneana," that Greatrakes was successful in 66
cancers, scrofula, deafness, king's evil, headache, epilepsy, fevers, (though quartan ones,) leprosy, palsy, tympany, lameness, numbness of limbs, stone, convulsions, ptysick, sciatica, ulcers, pains of the body, nay, blind and dumb in some measure, and I know not but he cured the gout."
Mr. Atkinson tells us that “ Any change in the nervous condition affects others. I have told you,” he says, “how distinctly I felt the commencement of the mesmeric condition in my patient, as of a slight electric shock; and I have been sensible of each change during the sleep, and of the flowing away of disease. When diseases are dying out, they influence others. It is even so with a common cold, which passes away to another. And so, likewise, the state of a dying person influences :- flies off, as it were ; disturbs or influences the universal medium, and thus reaches those in whom there was rapport, if they be in a fit condition to receive."* + It seems from Greatrake's case, that if we can take disease-a feat which is not denied- so also can we take health. I
* Man's Nature and Development, p. 279.
+ The only ghosts that were considered to be “established” by the • Oxford Ghost Club”—a body formed expressly for the investigation of such supposititious phenomena, were those that appeared at death. The Brain contains a whole reservoir of correlated force called soul or spirit, and as the vital functions cease it must pass away through some other medium. “I have known,” says Mr. Atkinson, “a dying child mesmerise a powerful man,” (Letters, p. 278,) and from the numerous well-authenticated cases of people appearing to others at their deaths, it would seem that such force was able for a time at least, to retain some kind of identity and individuality and to impress it on others. The most modern ghost of this sort on record with which I am acquainted is the one seen by Dr. Pusey:
:-“I was,” says the reverend doctor, “passing down a somewhat crowded street in Oxford, when I was surprised to perceive at my elbow a man whom I believed to be too ill at the time to leave his bed; he said · Dr. Pusey, I have been burning in Hell the last hour for that lie I told you (it is supposed in the confessional).' I turned round,” the doctor went on to say, “to ask an explanation, but the people pressed npon me, and I lost -sight of the figure of the man who accosted me. In great surprise, I hastened to his residence and learnt at his door, that he had been dead about an hour.” This anecdote was told to the Sisters in Osnaburg Street, and is taken from the as yet uncontradicted statement made by Miss Goodman, in her “ Sisterhoods in the Church of England,” p. 25. It is impossible that a man of the well-known character of Dr. Pusey, can hav wholly invented this story. The “passing away” of the mental force of his acquaintance may have impressed itself on his mind, with even his last thought; or the ghost only may have been a reality, and the “Hell and Purgatory” the produce merely of a strong faith and imagination.— See Appendix C.
Since this was written, that is, on May 7th, 1866, I attended a lecture at Saint Mary's Hall, Coventry, by a Mr. George Powell, who styles himself Practical Mesmerist, Phrenologist, and Medical Electrician. The lecturer, after a few preliminary remarks to show that vital power was transmissible, as in the well known case of people sleeping with old ones, &c., &c., proceeded to mesmerise about twenty
CURATIVE POWER OF MR. POWELL.
Witchcraft is now generally believed to be entirely a delusion. But we must recollect that the belief was current throughout, not only Christendom, but the whole world, for many centuries.
So late as 1664, two women were condemned at Suffolk, by Sir Matthew Hale, for witchcraft, on the ground-first, that Scripture had affirmed the reality of
of the audience, all but one of whom he put to sleep immediately. He then selected six of the most sensitive to illustrate electro-biology, phreno-mesmerism, and mesmerism, in which he showed great power, and was completely successful, to the great amusement, delight, and wonder of the spectators. He then said that if there were any there suffering from pain he could probably dismiss it at once. Only one young gentleman came forward, who had been suffering from tooth ache, he said, all day; the pain was dismissed with a touch, and had certainly not returned when we left the room, probably an hour after. After the lecture, while I was waiting for Mr. Powell, in about a quarter of an hour, he cured two people of tooth ache, one of rheumatism and greatly relieved another, one lady of a pain and lameness in the foot, and another old lady of a bad head ache to which she was subject, and from which she had been suffering all day. I had no opportunity of ascertaining how far these cures were permanent, but Mr. Powell has since supplied me with a number of testimonials and letters of gratitude from persons who profess to have been cured of the most obstinate diseases, of the class mentioned above as cured by Mr. Greatrakes, and which, it was said, had previously resisted all medical treatment. Mr. Powell is a self-educated man, with a full development of the coronal region of the brain, a very large chest, and highly sanguine temperament. He discovered his power by accident, while staying at a farmhouse and pretending to mesmerise a gentleman's knee for rheumatism. His bodily system seems to generate immense vital power, which he can transmit to others; and we must infer, I think, from these experiments that in most nervous cases it is the want of vital power in the part affected that causes the disease.