The Word Faith in its Application to Psychic Phenomena. - Its Definition. - An Epitome of the Law of Suggestion. - Subjective Faith only required. - Illustrative Incident. - The "Spoken Word." - Jesus knew the Law, and always acted within its Limitations. - Intuitive Perception of the Laws of the Soul. - His Manhood and its Limitations. - Our Warranty of Title as Sons of God. - Christ constantly controlled by Reason. - His Subjective Powers subservient. - The Three Temptations illustrative. - The Great Lesson to Mankind. - The Normal Exercise of Subjective Power. - Simon the Sorcerer. - Miracle not a Necessary Explanation of the Power of Christ. - Conclusions.
IN proceeding to make a more direct application of our hypothesis to the doctrines of Jesus, it will be necessary first to consider the meaning of the word faith as it was employed by him, and as it must be understood in its application to all psychic phenomena.
In the common acceptation of the term, faith is "belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony."1 "The faith of the gospel is that emotion of the mind which is called ' trust' or 'confidence,' exercised towards the moral character of God, and particularly of the Saviour."2
It is obvious that neither of these definitions properly characterizes that emotion of the mind, called faith, which is the necessary prerequisite condition of the mind of a person to enable him to confer or to receive the benefits of psychic power.
It has been shown in a former chapter that the faith necessary to enable a person to be healed by mental processes is subjective faith; that is, the faith of the subjective mind, or soul. It has been shown that this faith may be entertained by the subjective mind in positive opposition to the faith, or belief, of the objective mind, - that it may be forced upon the subjective mind in defiance of objective reason or the evidence of the objective senses. It is not deemed necessary, therefore, to enter at this time into a full discussion of this branch of the subject, and the reader is referred to the chapters on psycho-therapeutics. In this view of the question it is obvious that the definition of the word faith must be revised if we would understand it as Christ understood it, and make it conform to the facts demonstrated by modern science. In other words, we must define that particular kind of faith which pertains to the development and exercise of psychic power, - that faith of which Christ was the first to proclaim the necessity and define the attributes.
Faith, therefore, in the sense in which Jesus employed it, may be defined as the assent of the soul, or subjective mind, to the truth of what is declared to be true.
In other words, faith is that emotion of the human soul which consists in the unhesitating acceptance and belief in the absolute verity of a suggestion.
As has been frequently stated before, the belief of the subjective mind in the verity of a suggestion made to it is the essential and never-failing law of its being. If the suggestion made to it is not counteracted by an auto-suggestion proceeding from the objective mind of the individual, it will always be unhesitatingly accepted. If it is controverted by auto-suggestion, the strongest suggestion must prevail. This law is universal. It frequently happens that a therapeutic suggestion is counteracted by autosuggestion. The latter may arise from intense prejudice, or from natural scepticism regarding phenomena not understood. It is, however, comparatively easy to overcome an auto-suggestion, in the treatment of disease, for the patient is generally anxious to be cured, and is willing to assume a passive state of mind; and this is generally all that is necessary. Moreover, the subjective mind, ever on the alert for any means of preserving the life or health of the individual, will readily accept a therapeutic suggestion if there is no active counter auto-suggestion. If the healer understands the law of auto-suggestion, and advises his patient that he can overcome the effect of objective unbelief by a simple assertion of belief, salutary results all the more readily follow.
A remarkable instance illustrating this principle occurred in the history of Jesus. It was in the case of the man who brought his son to be healed, who was afflicted with a "dumb spirit." He had gone to Jesus' disciples, who failed to effect a cure. In despair, he appealed to the Master, saying: -
"If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
"Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." 1
Whereupon Jesus rebuked the foul spirit and commanded it to come out of the boy, "and enter no more into him." And the boy was instantly healed.
Now, the whole circumstances surrounding this case were calculated to render the father sceptical concerning the power of Jesus to heal his son. He had gone to the disciples, and they had failed. When he appealed to Jesus he said: "If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us." This expression plainly implied a doubt. After Jesus had explained that belief was a necessary condition of success, the father cried out: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." This expression plainly indicated a want of objective faith. But he spoke the words, "I believe," and then intimated to Jesus that his real belief depended upon him. He uttered the words "I believe" in pursuance of an earnest desire to comply with the conditions imposed, and that was sufficient. These words constituted an auto-suggestion from his objective mind to his subjective mind; and Jesus was satisfied with that compliance with his demand for faith, and he instantly healed the sufferer. He knew the law, and was fully aware that any lingering objective doubt remaining in the father's objective mind could not prevail against the "spoken word" of faith.
1 Mark ix. 22-24.