In our study of the cause and character of disease we must endeavor to begin at the beginning, and that is with LIFE itself, for the processes of health, disease and cure are manifestations of that which we call life, vitality, life elements, etc.

While endeavoring to fathom the mystery of life we soon realize, however, that we are dealing with an ultimate which no human mind is capable of solving or explaining. We can study and understand life only in its manifestations, not in its origin and real essence.

There are two prevalent, but widely differing, conceptions of the nature of life or vital force: the material and the vital.

The former looks upon life or vital force with all its physical, mental and psychical phenomena as manifestations of the electric, magnetic and chemical activities of the physical-material elements composing the human organism. From this viewpoint, life is a sort of spontaneous combustion, or, as one scientist expressed it, a succession of fermentations.

This materialistic conception of life, however, has already become obsolete among the more advanced biologists as a result of the wonderful discoveries of modern science, which are fast bridging the chasm between the material and the spiritual realms of being.

But medical science, as taught in the regular schools, is still dominated by the old, crude, mechanical conception of vital force and this, as we shall see, accounts for some of its gravest errors of theory and of practice.

The vital conception of life, on the other hand, regards it as the primary force of all forces, coming from the great central source of all power.

This force, which permeates, heats and animates the entire created universe, is the expression of the divine will, the "logos," the "word" of the great creative intelligence. It is this divine energy which sets in motion the whirls in the ether, the electric corpuscles and ions that make up the different atoms and elements of matter.

These corpuscles and ions are positive and negative forms of electricity. Electricity is a form of energy. It is intelligent energy; otherwise it could not move with that same wonderful precision in the electrons of the atoms as in the suns and planets of the sidereal universe.

This intelligent energy can have but one source: the will and the intelligence of the Creator; as Swedenborg expresses it, "the great central sun of the universe."

If this supreme intelligence should withdraw its energy, the electrical charges (forms of energy) and with it the atoms, elements, and the entire material universe would disappear in the flash of a moment.

From this it appears that crude matter, instead of being the source of life and of all its complicated mental and spiritual phenomena (which assumption, on the face of it, is absurd), is only an expression of the Life Force, itself a manifestation of the great creative intelligence which some call God, others Nature, the Oversoul, Brahma, Prana, etc., each one according to his best understanding.

It is this supreme power and intelligence, acting in and through every atom, molecule and cell in the human body, which is the true healer, the vis medicatrix naturæ, which always endeavors to repair, to heal and to restore the perfect type. All that the physician can do is to remove obstructions and to establish normal conditions within and around the patient, so that the healer within can do his work to the best advantage.

Here the Christian Scientist will say: "That is exactly what we claim. All is God, all is mind! There is no matter! Our attitude toward disease is based on these facts."

Well, what of it, Brother Scientist? Suppose, in the final analysis, matter is nothing but vibration, an expression of Divine Mind and Will. That, for all practical purposes, does not justify me to deny and to ignore its reality. Because I have an "all-mind" body, is it advisable for me to place myself in the way of an "all-mind" locomotive moving at the rate of sixty miles an hour?

The question is not what matter is in the final analysis, but how matter affects us. We have to take it and treat it as we find it. We must be as obedient to the laws of matter as to those of the higher planes of being.