XII. MIRACLES AND MEDICINE.
By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL.D., L.H. D.,
EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.
WE have seen that during the middle ages, while various churchmen, building better than they knew, did something to lay foundations for medical study, the Church authorities, as a rule, did even more to thwart it among the very men who, had they been allowed liberty, would have cultivated it to the highest advantage.
Then, too, we find cropping out everywhere the feeling that, since supernatural means are so abundant, there is something irreligious in seeking cure by natural means: ever and anon we have appeals to Scripture, and especially to the case of King Asa, who trusted to physicians rather than to the priests of Jahveh, and so died. Hence it was that St. Bernard declared that monks who took medicine were guilty of conduct unbecoming to religion. Even the School of Salerno was held in aversion by multitudes of strict churchmen, since it prescribed rules for diet, thereby indicating a belief that diseases arose from natural causes and not from the malice of the devil; moreover, in the medical schools Hippocrates was studied, and he had especially declared that demoniacal possession is "nowise more divine, nowise more infernal, than any other disease": hence it was, doubtless, that Pope Innocent III, about the beginning of the thirteenth century, forbade physicians, under pain of excommunication, to undertake medical treatment without calling in ecclesiastical advice.