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§ 98. The Spiritual Agencies employed.—Faith demanded for the Cure.

Those works of redeeming love which Christ wrought upon the human body, the healing of diseases, and the like, displayed the peculiar feature of his whole ministry. The ailments of the body are closely connected with those of the soul;219219   It is remarkable that great plagues often spread over the earth precisely at the same time with general crises in the intellectual or moral world; e. g., the plague at Athens and the Peloponnesian war: the plagues under the Antonines and under Decius; the labes inquinaria at the end of the 6th century; the ignis sacer in the 11th; the black death in the 14th, &c. That great man, Niebuhr, whose letters contain so many golden truths, alluded to this coincidence in another connexion.—Leben, ii., 167. and even if, in individual cases, this cannot be proved, yet in the whole progress of human developement there is always a causal connexion between sin and evil; between the disorganization of the spirit through sin, and all forms of bodily disorder, There was a beautiful connexion, therefore, between Christ’s work in healing the latter, and his proper calling to remove the fundamental disease of human nature, and to restore its original harmony, disturbed by sin.

Some of these diseases, also, arose purely from moral causes, and could be thoroughly cured only by moral and spiritual remedies. Little as we know of the connexion between the mind and the body, 142we know enough to make it in some degree clear to us how an extraordinary Divine impression might produce remarkable effects in the bodily organism.

We do not mean, however, by this remark, to bring all such influences down (as some have done) into the sphere of the purely subjective. It is true that a natural power, highly intensified, might produce effects closely resembling the supernatural; it is true that the imagination, strongly stimulated and exalted, often works strange wonders; but we have to do here only with effects which must be attributed to higher causes, which must be due to an objective Divine agency. In. the cases to which we refer (as, indeed, in all cases), the objective and subjective factors could co-operate; the Divine influence of Christ upon the soul, and, through it, upon the bodily organism, could work together with the susceptibility to impression, the receptivity (so to speak), on the part of man. Hence it was that Christ demanded a special Faith as a necessary condition of his healing agency; indeed, we can find no instance of his working a miracle where a hostile tendency of mind prevailed.

We can conceive of bodily cures thus wrought by means of spiritual influences more readily than any others; and they correspond precisely with the laws which Christ’s operations have never ceased to follow. But we cannot bring all the instances of healing which he wrought under this class; some of them were wrought at a distance, and offer no point of departure of this kind. And as we are compelled to admit, in some of the miracles, immediate operations upon material nature, we are the less authorized to deny that such direct influences were exerted upon the bodily organism.

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