The first event of significance during those years was the publication of Mr. Evans's book, The Mental Cure, in 1869. Great interest was shown in that work, and it was the beginning of a campaign of education which has continued ever since. But time was required to win assent to views which seemed so radical. That was before the days of the "new psychology." No one had then thought of supporting the teachings it contained by associating them with transcen -dentalism and the writings of Emerson. The devotees of the New Church did not respond to Mr. Evans's effort to apply Swedenborg's doctrines to spiritual healing.* What was needed, perhaps, was a more radical and less reasonable statement of the principles underlying the new therapeutism. For the general public is more apt to respond to radical views. Oftentimes the less reasonable view is needed to give sufficient contrast and provoke controversy.
* The only exception was Dr. Holcombe, to be mentioned later.
This impetus was given after the publication of Mr. Evans's third book, Soul and Body, by the launching of Mrs. Eddy's radical propositions in Science and Health, published in 1875. If we are to see any purpose at all in the publication of that book, we may venture to say that it had value in arousing people out of their materialism. The results of the past forty years apparently justify this statement, for to those of us who have known former Christian scientists as they came one by one out of their radical into more reasonable views it has been plain that something like Science and Health was needed to set matters in motion.
The first reaction was against the "revelator" and the claims made in behalf of a supposed "revelation." The second was against the theory contained in Science and Health, which had served for the time being to provoke thought. Just as the earlier readers of Mrs. Eddy's book took fundamental exception to it, so increasing numbers have departed from her organization to set up for themselves, meanwhile keeping such ideas as had proved of value. In time the last Christian scientist will probably take leave in the same way. In retrospect people will then wonder why such a reaction did not occur long before.
We chronicle the fact, then, significant for our history, that after Mrs. Eddy's work appeared there was a tendency to read both Evans and Eddy, and that "mental science" was a commingling of ideas gathered from these two sources and from the teachings of those who, like Mr. Julius Dresser, had held to Quimby's teaching in its original form. The term "mental science," introduced by Mr. Evans, with reference to the psychological aspect of the new therapeutism, began to be used in 1882-3 for the whole teaching. It was used in preference to the term Christian Science because the latter term had become identified with the hypothesis of a "revelation." The term "mental" was spiritualized by those who adhered to Quimby's teaching. Thus Mr. Dresser employed it when responding to the request to narrate "the true history" of the therapeutic movement. The term "mental" was almost a synonym for "Christian," as used by those who believed that the new healing was wrought by spiritual means. For others it was a convenient expression for their faith that health is mental rather than physical, that causality is in the realm of thought, and that true science is the opposite of medical materialism.
As we have seen above, Mr. Evans restated his views in terms of idealism in his later book, The Divine Law of Cure, Boston, 1881. We have also noted that Mrs. Eddy taught an idealism akin to Berkeley's view, as Berkeley is misunderstood. Readers untrained in philosophy easily found the two interpretations identical. Hence a practical idealism emphasizing thought as fundamental, as the "greatest power in the world," readily came into vogue. It did not of course matter that philosophically speaking it would be difficult to defend the proposition that "to think and exist are one and the same." What people wanted was their health. They were not interested in metaphysics. For them there was a very workable conception in the teaching that "disease is an error of mind." They' had been regarding it as merely physical. They had taken it to be an entity that can attack man from without, whatever his inner state. For the time being what they needed was a point of view as far removed from materialism as possible.
There is always an advantage in radical claims. If you adopt a point of view which in your way of thinking at the time contains all that is true, condemning all other views as false, you then give yourself as fully to that one view as did the early Mohammedans to their prophet when they held that all books save the Koran should be burned. The affirmative attitude goes with such claims, and people in search of health, after medical science has pronounced their cases hopeless, must be affirmative. "What we believe, that we create," so Quimby had taught. It was essential to believe that all causality was in the realm of mind. Meanwhile, the natural universe could take care of itself. It was not destroyed by the proposition that "there is no matter."
Some of the beliefs passing current in the mental-science period would indeed seem absurd to those of us who try to think matters out to the end, as well as to believers in natural facts and the ability of men of science to state facts apart from theoretical prejudice. But we must remember the bondages out of which the people had come who exclaimed in their enthusiasm that they could "eat mince-pie at midnight," or anything else they liked at any time, and suffer no inconvenience; since "there is no quality in food save what the mind gives it, in the unconscious beliefs of the race." What people were trying to do was to eliminate the "false beliefs," "the errors of mind," which had held them in subjection. They did this with enthusiasm and the results were on the whole good. It was natural, having concluded that medicines and drugs have no qualities save those attributable to the suggestions which people have associated with them, that all material things and conditions should be regarded as affecting man according to his belief. The point was that, whether agreeing with Mrs. Eddy in full or not, one should at least go as far as Quimby and Evans went, showing that matter contains "no intelligence or power in itself." To take this stand was to be prepared to overcome all adversaries.
The first groups of people assembled to discuss these matters in Boston in 1882 and 1883 were indebted for their impetus to the sources indicated above. A number of healers and teachers left Mrs. Eddy and branched out independently at the same time Mr. Evans's teachings were gaining headway in Boston, and Mr. Dresser contributed his share by giving the desired information concerning Quimby and his views. The papers began to take some notice of the new teachings, and the term "mind-cure" was brought into vogue. The new movement was of course looked upon as "the Boston craze" by those who saw no meaning in it, and it was an easy matter for the general public to misunderstand.
The first impression gained by the public was practically this: When we are ill, we merely think or imagine we are sick. Disease is simply a myth. It can be banished with a thought. Consequently, if you would address the devotee of the mind-cure with due respect say to him when he seems to have a cold, "Oh, you have the belief of a cold!" There is really no suffering or misery in the world, "but thinking makes it so" But it would be well for the mind-curers to "make hay while the sun shines," since they cannot expect people to hold such views very long.
What the new movement amounted to for the average devotee was first of all a method of healing that had somehow in a remarkable way given them back their health. As the healers increased in number, the interest grew, and many patients remained to study with their healers after they had regained their health. Thus the habit of teaching the principles of the new therapeutism came into vogue, and after taking a course of ten or twelve class-lectures some of the students started out to heal and then to teach in their own way. As the mental scientists had no authoritative text-book, no leader accepted as a revelator, and no organization maintaining a hold upon its followers, the tendency was for each healer to branch out freely, say nothing about the origin of the ideas in question; but to set them forth as if they had just been acquired.
Many of the devotees left the churches to which they belonged as disciples of the old theology, passed through a reaction against that theology, and found their religion in healing the sick. Thus in time the meeting devoted to an exposition of the new therapeutism took the place of the service in the churches. The silent treatment was akin to prayer or worship, on Its religious side, and so "the silence" as it has since been called became a part of the meeting. Such meetings used to be held Sunday evenings, so as to avoid a conflict of hours in the case of followers who still wished to attend the morning service in the established churches. The Wednesday evening experience meeting early came into vogue, everybody was invited to take part, and so the meetings became democratic. One of the early leaders in these meetings in Boston, J. W. Winkley, had been a Unitarian minister. Others had contemplated entering the ministry or were teachers. Hence there were devotees capable of directing the meetings and introducing the element of worship, or leading in regular instruction. The name given to the first of these independent societies in Boston, "Church of the Divine Unity," suggests the point of emphasis in such worship. The aim was to throw off the old theology and substitute the idea of the immanence of God in His wisdom, as the omnipresent help "in times of trouble."
To judge by their teachings simply, those that the general public misunderstood and treated with ridicule, would be wholly to miss the spirit of these early workers in the new field. There were able and earnest men and women among them who put into their work and their teachings the persuasive power of the evangelist giving to the masses the great truths which the world needed. They one and all owed their recovery to the new method. They one and all found a religion, a rediscovering of Christianity in their service among the sick. For them the healing of disease was part of the instruction of the whole individual, the beginning of a new life. Moreover, in their teaching and in their public meetings they had the impetus which comes to those who realize that the truths they have to give are relatively new and eagerly sought for. Consequently, with little previous preparation, oftentimes without notes or any subject chosen in advance, these speakers gave forth what was to them in very truth "the science of life and happiness," as Quimby had called it.
Among these leaders were some who, like Mr. E. M. Chesley, later active in the Metaphysical Club of Boston, took their clue from Mr. Evans's books and began to trace out the ideas in the philosophies of the past which resembled mental science.* Thus after a time the term "metaphysics" came into vogue to indicate that the fundamental principles of the new movement were akin to the great idealisms of the past. In his Facts and Fictions of Mental Healing, Boston, 1887, Mr. Charles M. Barrows, formerly a teacher and well acquainted with the history of thought, looked back to ancient India to find forerunners of the new ideas. Mr. Barrows also pointed out that the same idealistic wisdom was contained in the writings of Emerson, howbeit none of the therapeutic leaders had until then noted the resemblance. This was the beginning of interest in Emerson on the part of those who later became known as New Thought leaders.
* See Mr. Chesley's papers on "The New Metaphysical Movement," and "The Law of the Good," in The Spirit of the New Thought
At this time, also, people began to notice resemblances between mental science and theosophy. Miss M. J. Barnett, author of Practical Metaphysics, Boston, 1888, and other volumes, was the first writer to take the lead in what became a well-known branch of the rnental-healing movement, the tendency to interpret mental healing on a theosophical basis. Mr. Colville, author of The Spiritual Science of Health and Healing, 1889, and several other volumes, was among the first to set forth the therapeutic teachings in a manner typical of believers in mediumship or spiritism. It is a question whether the mental-healing movement has gained by the tendency to connect it with so many teachings more or less akin. But however that may be, we simply note the fact that, beginning in 1887, writers on the subject of mental healing tended to look afield. Hence the books from that time on became very diverse. Only those readers undertook to compass them all or compare their teachings who were concerned to follow the movement in all its branches.
The first mental-science magazine established in Boston, the Mental Healing Monthly, was edited by the same group of leaders who organized the Church of the Divine Unity. The same leaders also organized the first mental-science convention. In this period also belong the first publications issued in Chicago, the Mental Science Magazine, edited by Mr. A. J. Swartz, formerly a devotee of Christian Science, and the Christian Metaphysician edited by Mr. George B. Charles 1887-1897. Wayside Lights, established by Edward Sheldon, Miss L. C. Graham and other pioneers in mental science in Hartford, Conn., January, 1890; Thought, the forerunner of Unity, edited by Charles Fillmore, Kansas City; and Harmony, edited by Mrs. M. E. Cramer, San Francisco, 1889-1906, belong in the same group. All these publications stood for an independent interpretation of mental healing, but with a common tendency to look back to the New Testament and bring out its implied "spiritual science," according to the teachings of Quimby, Evans and Mrs. Eddy.
One of the earliest of the mental science writers, Miss S. S. Grimke, in a book bearing the curious title Personified Unthinkables, 1884, interpreted the practical idealism with special reference to mental pictures and their influence. This emphasis on mental pictures was characteristic of Mr. Quimby. In fact, Quimby sometimes described the mental part of his treatment with reference to the pictures he discerned intuitively in the patient's mind, and the ideal pictures in connection with which "the truth of a patient's being" was established in place of the "error or disease."
Mrs. Elizabeth G. Stuart, of Hyde Park, Mass., a sometime student under Mrs. Eddy's instruction, also brought forward this element of the silent treatment. Among Mrs. Stuart's students was Mr. Leander Edmund Whipple, whose work dates from the period of his studies with Mrs. Stuart in Hyde Park. Mr. Whipple employed the term mental science when he began his work as a mental healer in Hartford, Conn., December, 1885. The interest aroused by his highly successful work in Hartford led to the pioneer activities in mental healing there. Later, Mr. Whipple moved to New York, where he was also one of the pioneers, established The Metaphysical Magazine, 1895, a large-sized periodical, the first of its class devoted to mental healing; organized the American School of Metaphysics, and issued several volumes on the general subject, notably The Philosophy of Mental Healing, a standard work of its type, and The Manual of Mental Science. Mr. Whipple, who did not affiliate with the other therapeutists and teachers in New York, has been referred to as "the head of the metaphysical movement in this country.'' But he was one of the pioneer leaders, only, and for thirty years, until his death, May 25, 1916, a, distinctive teacher and healer. The term "metaphysical movement" was also used in Boston by the organizers of the Metaphysical Club.
Mrs. Stuart held the first class in Hartford, Conn., in May, 1885. Another class was formed in April, 1888. Among her students were Miss L. C. Graham, long a successful healer and teacher, and Miss Esther Henry, also a leading teacher and healer, connected in recent years with the New Thought Federation. Mrs. Stuart's followers in Massachusetts and New York, "believing that earnest cooperation of workers facilitated progress in any great work, had organized in each state under the name, "Light, Love, Truth." The Hartford group adopted the same name, the ideal being "that the work should not be aggressive, but that each one should go forth quietly, holding the torch of Truth firmly and fearlessly. . . .The symbol adopted was the equilateral triangle, as representing the fundamental trinity of Life, interpreted in this way: Life cannot be manifested apart from Love and Truth. Love cannot be separated from Life and Truth. Without Truth there can he neither Life nor Love." Miss Esther Henry was elected president; Mrs. Mary M. C. Keney, vice-president; and Miss Mary M. Davis, secretary and treasurer. In 1889 it was voted to admit mental scientists other than the immediate followers of Mrs. Stuart, and a special invitation was sent to Miss Minnie S. Davis and her students to join the society. Miss Davis was the pioneer in establishing mental science in Springfield, Mass.
Another leader whose work began in Hartford during the mental-science period was Mr. C. B. Patterson, who adopted mental science in 1887, established a society known as The Alliance, and later in New York took this name for his publishing business. But Mr. Patterson's work belongs rather with the New Thought period, as his books and magazine, Mind, were not published until the later years. In New York and Chicago, various phases of the mental-healing movement began to appear at this time, under the leadership of teachers who, like Mrs. Emma Curtis Hopkins and Mrs. Ursula N. Gestefeld, reacted against Christian Science and branched out for themselves, agreeing in part with the mental scientists, and in part introducing ideas of their own. Mrs. Gestefeld adopted the term Science of Being, instead of metaphysics. Mrs. Gestefeld was for many years one of the leading representatives of this type of mental-healing theory. Like the Divine Scientists and the followers of Mrs. Hopkins, Mrs. Gestefeld's students assimilated in their own way "the spiritual science" of the Scriptures.
Devotees of the mental-picture theory were inclined to place more stress on the psychological elements of mental healing. Mr. Whipple's terminology, for example, centered about the idea of a "specific-image treatment." According to this terminology, the blotting out of mental pictures pertaining to the disease and the substitution of ideal pictures in their stead is the essence of the whole mental-healing process. All devotees of the New Thought would recognize a truth in this way of stating the matter, but would be inclined to dwell on other elements of the process, also, such as the elimination of fear and other disturbing mental states, which might be more central or influential than the mere pictures associated with these states. The term "metaphysical healing" as employed by Mr. Whipple does not signify anything different so far as the underlying principles are concerned. Many disciples of mental science used this term as synonymous with "mental science" and applied idealism. Mrs. Eddy also employed the term "metaphysical" as the name of her school in Boston. The term "metaphysics" as thus employed need not be understood in the philosophical sense as a complete system of first principles. It means a practical idealism emphasizing mental or spiritual causality in contrast with the prevalent materialism, or the assumption that matter possesses independent life and intelligence. Thus the term "Christian metaphysics" is practically the same as the terms used by Quimby to indicate that there is a spiritual science in the New Testament.
I have elsewhere given a brief account of the work and teaching of Mr. Julius A. Dresser, (1838-1898) whose public activities as healer and teacher began in Boston, October, 1882. The articles contained in The Mental Healing Monthly of 1887-88, and the address delivered in the Church of the Divine Unity, 1887, may be regarded as typical of the line of thought developed directly out of Quimby's teaching." The first emphasis was on what Mr. Dresser called "The Omnipresent Wisdom," in accordance with Quimby's view that the therapeutic efficiency was attributable to the divine immanence. Mental science was for him the psychological theory by which the mental part of the process of cure was made explicit. Mr. Dresser used to introduce idealistic interpretations of the universe into his class-lectures in order to give his hearers the inner point of view. But, following Quimby, he did not deny the existence of the natural universe. For him the teaching he had acquired from Quimby was a religion. It was this religious spirit which impressed his students more than anything else in his teaching. Mr., Dresser read excerpts from Quimby's manuscripts in his classes, and heartily endorsed Mr. Evans's early books as expressions of the spiritual teaching of those manuscripts. The work established by Mr. Dresser belongs under the head of mental science, as thus understood, rather than under the name New Thought.
In a paper entitled "The Science of Life,'' Mrs. J. A. Dresser has given first-hand impressions of Quimby's teaching. Mrs. Dresser's experience as a healer led to the view which I have expressed in my own language in a chapter entitled "The Meaning of Suffering," in The Power of Silence, 1895, a book which with Health and the Inner Life, may be taken as representative of the type of mental science developing out of the teachings acquired from Mr. Quimby. This interpretation of suffering marked a departure to some extent from Quimby's view of disease, since there would appear to be no compensation if disease be merely an "error of mind." It means that behind our suffering there is the immanent divine life seeking recognition and cooperation. It means misunderstanding on our part of the profounder relationships of our existence. Instead of simply trying to banish our haunting mental pictures, or to substitute one set of suggestions or associations for another, we need to know our inner life to the foundation, transferring the centre of our mental activity from our discomfort, largely misunderstood, to the divine life, seeking to lift us into freedom. The result of this profounder interest, if we see its true significance, would be an essentially spiritual view of life in contrast with one that centres about the power of thought.
But mental science as Evans used the term in his first book was intended to be spiritual. In the more comprehensive terminology of that book, one can scarcely understand the human mind without learning that interiorly the mind is open to the divine life by influx. The true mind is the mind of the spirit, not the "mind of the flesh," not "mortal mind." The true mind or spirit operates directly on another spirit in the silent treatment. The true mental science would then be very different from the psychological theory passing current under that name. It would be essentially practical, and by applying it one would indeed be able, as Quimby said, "to teach goodness as a science." It was this insight which characterized Evans's teaching and gave the early impetus in the mental-science period.
It was the impetus which this insight gave which characterized the movement as it spread from Boston to Hartford and New York, and later found representatives in Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, and other cities. Later, the term "mental science" was employed by Mrs. Helen Wilmans and others, notably in the far West, in a rather different sense. According to Mrs. Wilmans mental science was a kind of self-emancipation involving a new assertion of the self, for one "who dares affirm the I." This affirmation of the self has been characteristic of some who have seized upon the machinery of suggestion and used it to advantage in attaining their freedom. But it should not be confounded with the earlier mental science of such leaders as Winkley, Chesley, Swartz, and Charles, nor with the movement in Kansas City which became known as Practical Christianity.
Mental science was indeed a broad tendency of thought. It could be connected with theosophy, spiritism, the teachings of Prentice Mulford, mysticism, pantheism, theoretical idealism, and the like. It could be traced back to India by those who took remote resemblances for historical causes. It could be identified with certain of Swedenborg's teachings about influx, correspondence, and the relation of the soul to the body. It could be regarded as modified Christian Science. It might be understood as Quimby's "theory" or "truth." It naturally found varied expressions because it appealed to individuals of different types. Each one gained the central ideas and then began to develop his special views around them. Out of these came with even greater variety what is now known as the New Thought.
In so far as one may discriminate between the two phases of the mental-healing movement, we note that in the mental-science period the application of mental science to health was the chief interest. The so-called prosperity treatment had not yet been heard of. Nothing had as yet been said about "the cause and cure of old age." * It had not become customary to hold meditation meetings. Very little effort had been made to organize the movement. There were as yet no Unity Centres or Circles of Divine Ministry. The public had merely a superficial view of the "mind-cure." Few people as yet saw an emancipating tendency in the movement skin to religious liberalism.
* This type of thought was made popular by Eleanor Kirk, author of Perpetual Youth, Brooklyn, 1895.
The popularizing of psychology and the development of psychical research were to come at a later time. Mental science had little influence on medical practice. But mental science did much more than merely keep in action the impetus which had come from Quimby and had been developed by his followers. It stood for a theory of mental healing primarily. But it was to lead to the New Thought, hence to find varied expression in rivalry with Christian Science. It fostered a kind of impersonalism, such that its leaders took only a modicum of credit to themselves. Thus it was a kind of protestantism. It rejected all claims to a "revelation," and substituted each man's thought for "the authorized text-book." To understand it on this side as a reaction, is to see why it naturally led to the individualism of the New Thought. Some of the New Thought leaders began their work in this period. But for purposes of convenience we classify them with the workers whose activity dates for the most part after 1890.
It would be well, no doubt, to bear in mind that as the mental-healing movement spread and became more or less connected with other movements of thought, it became more diffuse in various respects; hence lost some of its spiritual power. It was natural to trace resemblances to theosophy, spiritism, the idealism of ancient India, the idealism of Berkeley; but what was gained out of curiosity was scarcely sufficient to compensate for the loss in practical efficiency. There is a great advantage in concentration. It is not necessary to try in every possible way to state the same ideas. We need a standard. Mr. Evans was far better prepared as a writer than most of those who restated the essentials in their less enlightened fashion. His works remain the standard works of the mental-science period. They come nearer a complete demonstration of mental or spiritual healing than most books on the New Thought.
If, identifying the idealism of Mr. Evans's The Divine Law of Cure with the same line of thought in Mrs. Eddy's book, one should emphasize the psychological process, one might understand mental science to be no more than the term implies. For all the practical ideas centering about "thought" as the motive power are set forth in that book. Disease is traced to an erroneous or morbid idea, associated with similar ideas and tending in a wrong direction of mind. Its cure is found in breaking up this association, establishing a new direction of mind. The disease is then said to disappear, for "that which is not in thought has to us no existence." The doctrine of a healing power of thought . . . is based on the Hegelian principle that thought is a creative force. Mr. Evans employs the term "suggestion" in the sense of an ideal picture, and so leads the way to Mr. Henry Wood's theory of "ideal suggestion through mental photography." He says that "thoughts are things," and hence lays the foundation for Prentice Mulford's teaching with this proposition as its leading one. Thus he is the forerunner in varied ways of the New Thought.
If, however, one should read more deeply one would find the spiritual clue and regard the mental as secondary to the spiritual science, and see the full value of the mental-science period; hence the larger sources of the New Thought. Mr. Evans says, for example, "The spiritual physician, or one who heals the body by touching the springs of life in the soul of the patient, should speak and act from the Divine realm of his being, as did Jesus the Christ. 'The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.' . . . The real Christ is to be sought within, where alone he can be found . . . God's creative thought always cooperates with ours in every curative endeavor of our minds . . . In us, the Word is made flesh and still dwells among us, for it is our life, and that life is the light of men . . . This Word dwells in every man as the light of life, and invests us with a creative potency, for all things are made by it. It is God's Thought, and when our minds are in unison with it in our struggle with disease, we are invested with a fraction of God's omnipotence . . . If, in the effort to cure disease, I can find how God is doing it, and conform my healing endeavor to the Divine method, I come into line with Him . . . I can conform my effort to the Divine creative Thought."
When, therefore, Mr. Evans uses the term "thought" in its higher sense he means "the Divine creative Thought," and this usage is the one he has in mind in his idealistic interpretation of the universe. If one keeps this fact in mind one may avoid all superficial interpretations of this book and of mental science. But for the most part Mr. Evans employs the term in its human sense, and here one must always guard against ambiguity. He explains that by saying "thoughts are things" he means that they are "substantial realities," also "transmissible entities;" that "thought and existence are identical." Thoughts have great power over other minds because they can be transmitted directly. "A word, an uttered sentence, into which is concentrated the soul-life and heart-life of him who pronounces it, and which is animated by a Divine thought, a living truth, has in it a healing virtue above anything in a material drug." This vitalizing thought is what Evans called a "suggestion" as applied to various parts of our nature or the body, needing relief from pain. "The thought of a thing is a spiritual touch or contact with it--it is an ideal and real creation of it." It is this "ideal suggestion," as Mr. Wood called it, which breaks up the old association and establishes the new one. "The new association becomes the means of the . . . forgetfulness, of the disease; and in proportion as a disease is out of thought, or we become oblivious of it, it is cured." What we need to overcome is our fixed, morbid ways of thinking. Disease in its spiritual root is "the fixedness of an idea," It must be supplanted by the thought of a state of health. "This, by a law of correspondence, will tend to actualize itself." What we need, In brief, is a "new mode of thinking."
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