It would seem to be a work of supererogation to cite particular passages of the Scriptures or to employ argument to prove the correctness of the proposition that Jesus considered faith in the patient a necessary condition of his recovery. The proposition is plainly true, and it has been so understood by all intelligent readers of the New Testament until very recent times. There are those, however, who now seem to fear that Jesus will be robbed of his glory, and reduced to the common level of mankind, if it is shown that the conditions necessary to the success of the mental healer of to-day are the same as they were nineteen hundred years ago. In other words, they endeavor to show that Jesus did not operate in harmony with the laws which he proclaimed, but independently and in defiance of the very principles of nature which it was his mission to illustrate and expound. He did not pretend to establish any new law of nature, but to teach mankind that which had been in existence from the beginning, to illustrate it in his life, and to sanction it by his death. He did not teach his disciples the principles and laws involved in healing the sick, and at the same time violate himself. He taught them his methods of healing, and sent them into the world to imitate his example.
When they failed, as they occasionally did fail, he reproved them for neglecting his teachings, and upbraided them for their want of faith. When the lunatic was brought to him, and he was told that his disciples had failed to cast out the devil which afflicted the patient, Jesus exclaimed: "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you?" After he had cast out the devil, the disciples asked him why they could not cast him out.
"And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."1
His expression concerning their power to remove mountains doubtless had reference to the fact that ponderable bodies can be moved by subjective power, under proper conditions, as has been frequently demonstrated in later times.
Many passages might be quoted illustrating the proposition that faith was a necessary condition in the minds of the apostolic healers; but it is believed that no one will gainsay the proposition. It may be said, however, that Jesus did not require faith in himself to enable him to heal the sick, - that he healed independently of that law. The obvious answer is that he had that knowledge of his power which transcended faith; or rather, that he had the faith which came from knowledge of that power. In the sense that faith ceases where knowledge begins, he may be said not to have had faith. His disciples arrived at that point after an experimental demonstration of their power; and so may we all do likewise. As I have shown in a former chapter, subjective faith may be acquired in direct contradiction to objective faith or belief; but after an experimental demonstration of the power of subjective faith, objective belief no longer sets up an auto-suggestion against it. It then becomes knowledge, and in that sense it ceases to be faith. Nevertheless, in the sense in which it is said that the healer must have faith to enable him to heal the sick, he has faith. In that sense it cannot be disputed that Jesus had faith in his power to heal the sick.
It is thought, therefore, that enough has been said to demonstrate the proposition that faith was a requisite element in the healers of Jesus' time. Certainly no one will dispute the proposition that it is necessary in the psychic healers of to-day. We may consider, therefore, that two points in our argument are established, - namely (1), that the conditions requisite in psychic healers of this day are identical with those required in apostolic times; and (2) that Jesus was the first to proclaim the principle and to exemplify it in his works. The difference is not in principle, but in degree of power.
1 Matthew xvii 20.
It is said, however, that Jesus did not require faith in those whom he healed. The first answer to this proposition is that there is nothing in his recorded words to warrant the statement. He never professed to be able to heal independently of that condition. On the contrary, all his expressions on that subject lead to the inevitable conclusion that faith was a necessary condition of the patient's mind to enable him to effect a cure. It may be true that in some cases he said nothing about it; but this is only negative evidence, and of the weakest kind, in view of what he did say on the numerous occasions when circumstances required an utterance on the subject.
A striking instance of healing, and a fair example of his utterances on this subject, is recorded in Matthew ix. 28, 29, 30: -
"And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.
" Then he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. "And their eyes were opened".