Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/13
NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.
anity on the healing art was twofold ; there was first a blessed impulse the thought, aspiration, example, ideals, and spirit of Jesus of Nazareth. This spirit, then poured into the world, flowed down through the ages, promoting self-sacrifice for the sick and wretched. Through all those succeeding centuries, even through the rudest, hospitals and infirmaries sprang up along this blessed stream. Of these were the Eastern establishments for the cure of the sick at the earliest Christian periods; the Infirmary of Monte Casino in the fifth century, the Hotel-Dieu at Lyons in the sixth, the Hotel-Dieu at Paris in the seventh, and the myriad refuges for the sick and suffering which sprang up in every part of Europe during the following centuries. Vital- ized by this stream, all conceivable growths of mercy bloomed forth. To say nothing of those at an earlier period, we have in the time of the Crusades great charitable organizations like the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and thenceforward every means of bringing the spirit of Jesus to help afflicted humanity. So, too, through all those ages we have a succession of men and women devoting themselves to works of mercy, culminating during modern times in saints like Vincent de Paul, Francke, Howard, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry, and Muhlenberg.
But while this vast influence, poured forth from the heart of the founder of Christianity, streamed through century after century, inspiring every development of mercy, there came from those who organized the Church which bears his name, and from those who afterward developed and directed it, another stream of influence a theology drawn partly from prehistoric conceptions of unseen powers, partly from ideas developed in the earliest historic nations, but especially from the letter of the Hebrew and Christian sacred books.
The theology developed out of our sacred literature in rela- tion to the cure of disease was mainly twofold : first, there was a new and strong evolution of the old idea that physical disease is produced by the wrath of God or the malice of Satan, or by a combination of both, which theology was especially called in to explain; secondly, there were evolved theories of miraculous methods of cure, based upon modes of staying the divine anger, or of thwarting Satanic malice.
Along both these streams of influence, one arising in the life of Jesus, and the other in the reasonings of theologians, legends of miracles grew luxuriantly. It would be utterly unphilosophical to attribute these as a whole to conscious fraud ; whatever part priestcraft may have taken afterward in sundry discreditable developments of them, the mass of miraculous legends, century after century, grew up mainly in good faith, and as naturally as elms along water-courses or flowers upon the prairie.