I have tried to illustrate how we are deceived by the idea that wisdom based on the sight of the natural eye is no stronger proof than what we believe from the evidence through our other senses. Now this mistake causes our trouble, for everything that we admit exists that can be changed suddenly or gradually, when it is out of sight, the evidence of its existence diminishes just according to circumstances or evidence.
I will illustrate. Suppose A and B see a person in a certain place. A leaves one moment before B and A and B are sitting in an adjoining room. As A left the room where the stranger sat before B, when A and B are in their room the evidence of the stranger being gone to A may depend on what B says. So as A left before B, B may deceive A because B left last. But suppose they don't agree. A says the stranger must be in the room, for he had just sat down to eat and according to the natural time of eating he must be there. So they argue and B tries to convince A.
Now suppose a stranger is seen approaching the house and walks directly up to your door and enters and you know that he knows nothing of what you are disputing about and you say to the stranger I wish to ask you a question as to the strength of evidence or testimony. The stranger feels the point in dispute and says I know what you are disputing about. B says, What is it? (S) You are disputing about a man you can't see. How do you know says A? (S) Because I see the man eating supper in the dining room. (A) Can you describe the man? So the stranger gives a description of the person and tells everything connected with him which A and B know. Now is not this stronger evidence to A than B gave him?
Then comes the question, how the stranger sees and he convinces you that partition to his sight is no obstruction. So belief is a partition between true sight and error. What a man sees with his eyes to him is light and what a man sees through a belief is not positive. Now this is the way with the sick. They see through a glass or partition or belief that is not certain and the doctor sees through the same medium, so that the patient and doctor stand in relation to each other as A and B reasoning about a man in the form or idea, pain, that exists in the dark.
The doctor has no idea of the stranger only as the patient describes him so the patient commences by telling how he appears, and he affects the side and he goes on to describe, the doctor being more ignorant than the patient but by his impudence and brass, pretends to tell who it is and where it is, in this or that room, either the heart or lungs or pleura, etc.
Now if the patient believes, the belief makes him nervous and a result follows and this is shown as the person that the doctor had described. This is called disease. I come to the patient after the doctor leaves and I see the doctor's ideas on the patient and I see how they have affected him and I say to him, You have been told that this stranger that the doctor has described, which is not anything but his mere opinion imagination is so and so and you received it as truth and the effect that follows is the natural result of the deception. Now until man finds the real point to reason from, he is not safe from all errors and superstitions that may be heaped upon him.
We are too apt to believe our senses and not believe our sight. Now sight being the stronger sense we often get deceived by belief and take belief for sight. A man's senses is his judgment and what looks clear he receives as true. Now light may come from truth or error so the light of the body is the eye and if the light is single and confined to the idea, then it is light or true. But if the eye or light is darkened by an obstruction or an opinion, then the body is full of doubt or darkness.
Now I see these difficulties in every patient I sit with and I see how they are deceived and cannot see the deception. And it is the hardest task I ever performed to convince them how they are deceived. They think because they feel so and so that they must have this or that disease.
Now the same error exists with the spiritualists. They see or hear something that they cannot account for and of course it must be the spirits and when disputed they say, If it is not spirits, what is it? Now the idea spirit, like the idea disease has become a part of our very being. And the ideas are as real as our existence, so that at any excitement that comes upon us we are ready to create a spirit or disease, just according to the pattern given. And the spirit mediums and doctors are just alike. Each deceives the masses by their beliefs and creates diseases the same as spiritual phenomena.
Now it all arises from our belief in some invisible world that no one ever saw with scientific eyes but we have been educated into a sort of superstitious belief and have settled down to a reality that certain things exist. And because we see and hear certain groans and sounds and pains and phenomena that we can't account for, therefore they must be disease or spirits.
Now convince man or educate him up to the point of science so that he can see that all men's bodies are as mortar or clay and any phenomena he is able to understand he will create, if excited by fear. Then he will see that it is for every person's happiness to test every teacher about what he knows, not take his opinion.
Let me give you a rule by which you can test a doctor and I will not give you a rule that I am not willing to be tested by. Suppose you feel a little out of sorts and call a physician. When he comes, say to him, I have sent for you to tell me what is my trouble. This is the way Nebuchadnezzar did; he had magicians or doctors, only he called his disease a dream. His magicians said, Tell me your symptoms or dream and I will give you the interpretation of it. Just as the physicians say, Tell me how you feel and I will give you the interpretation of disease. Now be as wise as Nebuchadnezzar and say, My dreams or feelings have departed but tell me how I felt. This they could not do any more than the magicians could so they will answer as they did, You ask too much; there is no one that asks the doctor to tell them their symptoms. The time had arrived when the wisest men had learned that a man's opinion is not to be relied on as a truth. So when Nebuchadnezzar made war, he ordered his officers to bring of the wisest men of the nation that were well versed in science and in language so they might teach him the Chaldean tongue. Now Daniel was one of the wise men and when Nebuchadnezzar became sick and alarmed, like a dream, he had no confidence in his magicians or sorcerers and he took this way to tell them. So when he wished them to tell his symptoms or dream they could not do it so he passed a decree.
Lawrence, July 15, 1865
[A notation is made at the end of this article: “The last piece written by the author.”—Ed.]