I am looking for the origin of disease - and I know it is in the mind (or belief).
I shall bring the Scriptures to show that the ancient Hebrews of the religious class
all attributed diseases to God as a punishment for sin. 
~ Phineas Quimby

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

Dr. Phineas P. Quimby

Disease Traced to the Early Ages & Its Causes

December 1861

My object in laying my ideas before the people in regard to the causes of disease is to separate myself from all others who pretend to cure disease. The world, or the people in it, are superstitious from ignorance, but their superstition shows itself in a variety of ways. Some who think they are free from it are in reality most affected by it.

Superstition is not applied to wisdom but to some idea that has never been understood, and the explanation of the phenomena is the superstition - if it is not explained on some scientific principle that puts an end to all investigation. My object in this communication is to confine myself to the prevailing superstition in regard to diseases, their causes and cures, and to show where I stand, independent of all others.

To commence with the diseases of man, we must go back to the ancients. The ancients believed that disease was the consequence of sin. The Hebrews were very little versed in the study of mental philosophy and attributed all their sickness to evil spirits who, they believed, were the executioners of divine vengeance. If they could not account for their disease, they did not hesitate to say that it was a blow from the avenging hand of God, and to him the wisest and most religious had recourse for cures.

King Asa was blamed for placing confidence in the physicians when he had a painful fit of gout in his feet and not applying to the Lord (2nd Chron. 16:12). "So Asa, in the 39th year of his reign, was diseased in his feet until his disease was exceedingly great; yet in his disease, he sought not the Lord...” - but the physicians. So in the one and 40th year, he died, having been under the medical faculty two years. This shows that the medical faculty was of little account with the ancient Hebrews, who claimed to put their trust in God. Asa was blamed for running after quacks, but the world has since been remodeled - not after the days of King Asa.

Job's friends ascribed all his distempers and sicknesses to God's justice, and to comfort him they used these words (Chap. 4: 7,8): "Remember, I pray thee, whoever perished, being innocent? Or when were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same." Here Job was accused of transgressing God's laws. Every phenomena that could not be accounted for was attributed to God or spirits from another world - and these superstitions of the Hebrews have come down to the present day.

Disease and death were the great evils to contend with, and in order to avoid them, it was necessary to do something to appease this God. So all sorts of religious theories and opinions sprang up to instruct the people in a belief that will govern their lives, so that they may show the evils which God has in store to afflict his children. Nearly all the diseases the people had were attributed to God. Leprosy, so common among the Jews, was treated as a disease sent by God. The priests judged of the quality of evil, confined the sick and declared that they were healed or still had the leprosy upon them; then they offered sacrifices to God for their sins (or faults) and so deceived the people through their craft (or ignorance).

In Numbers: Chap. 12, the case of Miriam's leprosy is recorded. Aaron and Miriam spake against Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman. The Lord sent for the three, and after learning the story, was wroth and departed. When the cloud disappeared, Miriam became white as snow. Then Moses called unto the Lord, saying, “Heal her now, Oh God, I beseech thee,” and the Lord said, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut out from the camp seven days.”

After this was done, she was cured. Here is the case of leprosy, its cause and cure; but the mode of operating is not given - but to me it is all plain. There is no doubt but disease is what follows our belief. They had such power over the masses that they cured their evils by imposing upon them the process I have mentioned. Their belief was their religion, and the forgiving of their sins was the cure - so religion was health, and disease was sin. This was Christ's idea, for he said the well need no physician - so according to the Hebrews it was a disgrace to be sick.

It may seem strange, at first thought, to say that any mode of curing disease was to make it, and all the cures are done by an unknown God, and therefore they are miracles. A miracle is some phenomenon that cannot be explained by the world of opinions. My object is to trace disease to its origin and see what it is, and who is its father, and whether it can be attributed to the one living and true God; for I cannot believe that God is the author of our misery. Man is the author of his own misery, and to trace disease to its author is to bring it down to man.

The priest is the author of all the diseases in the Old Testament, and it is easy to show that the case of Miriam's disease was made by her belief and cured by the same. She was made to believe it right to object to Moses marrying an Ethiopian or colored woman; consequently she must have been disturbed at the act. She got her system into a nervous excitement, and she was ready to bring about any phenomenon that happened to come up. Moses resented her anger, and of course she felt badly; and her belief being that leprosy was a punishment sent by God for sin, as she thought she had not done right - and so this punishment came upon her. The priests controlled the people and were the judges of right and wrong. You see, to make a disease is to transgress some law of God, and if any person had a brother or sister married to a black person, would he not feel badly?

I am looking for the origin of disease, and I know it is in the mind (or belief). I shall bring the Scriptures to show that the ancient Hebrews of the religious class all attributed diseases to God as a punishment for sin - so God had to bear the blame for all their error and hypocrisy. I will give some facts that go to show that disease followed some act that was not right according to their laws; for God never made a law. This is the law and the Gospel, and all sin is death. The people were taught that God sent their diseases upon them. So by their belief they were made sick, and by their belief the priests could pardon their sins and cure them, and their offerings were to pay the priests for curing them.

There were those who were not so superstitious as the rest, and they were, of course, called infidels. Show me the Christian who believes that God brought on the gout to Asa, or the leprosy to Miriam, or the disease on Job.

The cure of Naaman, the captain of the host of the king will be found in 2nd Kings: 5th Ch. Elisha, without prescribing any medicine, told the man to wash in the Jordan seven times, and he was healed. Elisha would not take pay, so his servant followed Naaman and took silver; for that act the prophet said that the leprosy should leave Naaman and cleave unto him, and it was so. Here you see a cure made and a disease transferred from one person to another. This was done just according to their belief, and the Lord had nothing to do with it; but the people believed that Elisha was a servant of God (or a medium).

You will find in 2nd Chron: 26th Ch. a case of King Uzziah who had flourished for a long time, and he became great. One day he went into the temple to burn incense, and Azariah, the high priest, followed with four score priests of the Lord. They undertook to stop him, and he grew wroth, and the leprosy arose on his forehead, and he became a leper to the day of his death. This was a case where temper threw his system into a state to be affected by his belief.

I could show hundreds of cases in our days of men dying of heart disease, as it is called, while it is all caused by some mental trouble; but all this goes to show that disease was made by some impression on the mind, under a belief that it is God's wrath.

Those who were affected did not believe that the priests could cure them, except the most superstitious; but they all believed in the disease, so a warfare was kept up between the priests and doctors till Jesus appeared. Then a new philosophy (or priesthood) sprang up that asked no sacrifices, and Jesus said that Aaron's priesthood was like an old garment, and the world required a more perfect mode of curing. The people no longer laid the disease to God but to the spirits of the dead and to the devil - who flourished about the time of Jesus - and these took away the credit of diseases which had been rendered to God.

The power of the priests was waning. It was like an old garment ready to drop to pieces, for it was founded on their doctrines or religious beliefs. So when they wanted to unite Jesus' doctrine with their own, he told them that would be like putting new wine into old bottles - it would ferment and break them. So his precepts of happiness would not be confined to their bottles (or religion), and as the people wanted a new religion that would not lay so many burdens on them, it must be in opposition to all their previous religion.

He said, “Come unto me all ye that are sick and bound down by the heavy burdens of the priests, and I will give you rest.” The rest was health, and the sick came, and he healed them by the word of his mouth. He said nothing about religion - for his works were in direct opposition to the priests, as much as mine are to the medical faculty. At that time, there were medical men and those who cured by the laying on of hands. They were opposed to the priests, and as the latter lost power in curing the people, the diseases took another form. Hell was invented, and a devil to torment the wicked people was introduced.

At the time of Jesus there was a variety of opinions, and people were afflicted according to their belief. They believed in a devil and that he entered into animals as well as men, and in this form it was called “spirits.” Jesus saw that, although the Jews had come up from out of the dominion of the priests in regard to curing of disease, the deception had only another form which opened the door to all sorts of quackery - medical and spiritual. There was competition and opposition among the sects. Each was cured according to their belief, which was their religion; so all who applied to medical men were not religious, but placed more confidence in these than in God. So the medical faculty did not amount to as much as they do now in the religious world.

Job gives a true view of the medical faculty, Ch. 13: "Lo, mine eye hath seen all this, mine ear hath heard and understood it. What ye know, the same do I know also; I am not inferior unto you. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God, but ye are forgers of lies; ye are all physicians of no value. Oh, that ye would altogether hold your peace - and it should be your wisdom!" Job knew that they were quacks, and all they said were idle opinions about what they did not know. He was a scientific - not a religious – man, but one who looked for causes and effects outside of the priests.

There is one mistake that the world is in, and they will not get out of it, till the origin of disease is acknowledged. Then men will learn to reason from cause to effect. My object is to show that the origin of the phenomenon called “disease” is in the mind (or belief).

Man is made up of opinions, for truth is not matter. The wisdom of opinions is man's religion; the wisdom of science is God - and that is not matter. So to find a cause for disease, you must find some fear; for fear hath torment, and the torment is the disease. The idea of death is a cause for fear, and to keep clear of death is what everyone tries to do.

The religion of the ancients did not contain any positive ideas of another world. Moses was a leader of a people who had been enslaved in Egypt. He made laws to govern them, and they were the best he could make, and they all had reference to their relations and comfort in this life.

Religion is something not found in our words, or acts, or in our beliefs. It contains no wisdom; it is a substance. I will liken it unto a well of water - there is no intelligence in the water, but it is to satisfy the desire of a person. It is like bread. It is the balm for every wound. It is to answer every person's desire for happiness.

This is religion. The priests undertook to give it to the people. Moses undertook to give it to the multitudes, but the Bible says he never saw this substance; only heard it, as it were. The people think religion is in a belief, and they can get it - and then they can sit down and say to themselves, as the rich man said, “I have much stores laid up, so I will tear down my barn and build a larger one.” Then the Lord said, “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

This illustrates the Christian of our days. How often do you hear professors of religion talking thus: “I take great pleasure in reading the Bible and meditating on the goodness of God, feeling that I am worthy to be his servant.”

This is all cant and is shown up in the illustration of the rich man, by Jesus. This man's happiness consisted in his great wealth. Therefore he could say, “I am rich - why should I not enjoy my riches? I will eat, drink and take my ease.”

The Christian is also rich in the opinions of the world - eating vanity, never giving any attention to anyone that will correct a pain or ache, but sits and enjoys his goodness, condemning everything that he knows nothing of. He is puffed up with the vanity of the world. When the truth comes and sets fire to his house (or theory) and burns up his opinions, it will say to him, “Thou fool! All your riches are vanity (or opinion) which, when Science comes, will take wings and fly away.”

This is the religious man, and in such God takes no delight. His followers are not of that kind. Their religion is their riches in wisdom and to impart this wisdom to the hungry and to feed all those who hunger and thirst after health and happiness.

The error is the idea “religion,” and the priests have taught that God is something - a spirit that will answer their requests. You never knew a Christian who was directed to act differently from any but a selfish act. If a man should be inclined to give up all his goods to the poor and spend his life in relieving those in distress, he would be looked upon as a monomaniac or fanatic by the church. But if he should give all his wealth to the church, and let his children starve - then he would be a Christian.

So religion is of this world and is the result of sin and ignorance. The time will come when every man will be rewarded according to his acts (or wisdom). When that time comes, to be religious will be to give to the sick something that the world of opinions cannot give; and then to be wise is to be religious - but your religion cannot be distributed among the poor or those that need it.

There is so much absurdity in regard to God, it makes the people disbelieve in almost everything. For instance, we are taught that God fills all space. Now we all know that matter in various forms fills some space. We are also taught that God is in everything. Here is a tree without any intelligence - we are taught that God is in the tree. How absurd it is to suppose that wisdom is in what we acknowledge contains none. It is not strange that, with such absurdities, people of intelligence should disbelieve in any religion.

Now here is the theory of my religion. My God is wisdom, and all wisdom is of God. When there is no wisdom, there is no God; for God is not matter. Matter is only an idea that fills no space in wisdom; and as wisdom fills all space, all ideas are in wisdom.

To make the creature larger than the Creator is absurd to me. My God is in nothing - but everything is in Him. Attach all sight, smell and all the senses of wisdom - then they all fill all space. Everything to which we attach wisdom - and all inanimate substances and opinions - are in this wisdom. Then you see the difference between the Christian's God and mine. Their man is of the earth, and their God is in him. My man is what we know - and their man is in that. So wisdom is my man, and matter is the Christian's. Therefore their wisdom is under a bushel. Jesus said, “Set your light on the bushel, that it may give light to all around.”

Wisdom in matter is no wisdom at all; but separate yourselves and come out, that your light may shine, so that others seeing your light (or wisdom) may be benefited. Matter is darkness to wisdom, for when a man is in an opinion, he is in a prison; and when the truth comes, he dies to opinions and lives in God (or wisdom).

To see where I differ from any living man that I ever heard of is to show what others believe. Disease is something outside of man's opinions, as the people believe. This belief makes disease - not dependent on man's belief - but existing independent of it. To prove it, they quote a child and say the child has no mind, yet it has a disease; so of course some remedies must be applied to cure a phenomenon which has no connection with mind.

Thus error, called “disease,” is admitted by almost every human being, and no one denies the phenomenon. And the whole civilized world agree that disease is something that exists independent of the mind. But in the causes and mode of cure they differ, and this makes all the varieties of practice.

Since the priests lost the power of curing, the causes of disease have changed. Under the priests, God was the author of disease, which was the punishment for some crime or misdemeanor; and the priests judged of the disease, according to the crime. All through the Old Testament disease followed some sin that the people had committed, as it did in the cases I have mentioned. The gout, leprosy, scrofula and rheumatism were all diseases that were cured by the priests.

Now how did they cure? The people in those days would answer, “By the power of God.” Here was their cause and remedy - the priests had made the people believe that, unless they followed after their wisdom, some trouble would come. All that was needed when some phenomena occurred was to attribute it to some wrong which they had done, and the priest would ask God to forgive them, and their forgiveness was the cure. This was their religion, and to make all healthy and good, all must believe. But there were some who would not believe in this way, and instead of calling on the priest, they called on the magicians, or on some other craft; for they believed in disease.

Every person that cured, or attempted to cure, uses the means in which they have faith. The medical men make the people believe that certain medicines will cure. The Spiritualist makes the people believe that they have some gift or power from the dead which directs them what to do. The Catholic priests, although they have lost their power, still claim to cure through the agency of God. These all admit disease. I stand alone on this ground - that the phenomenon, disease, is the punishment of our belief.

The priests commenced the evil, and they are at the bottom of all this. One need not go back further than Moses to show that restrictions put upon the people made them nervous, and the phenomenon that followed they called a “sin” (or disease), instead of the fear of the priests; for any simple thing that happened was some sin, and the punishment - disease.

Upon my theory, all disease can be accounted for by explaining the cause. Disease was the great evil that people were afflicted with, and various modes of getting rid of it were introduced. These include the people's religion, and just as that changed, so the evils (or disease) changed; but since the medical men have established their belief, they have the people more in their power than ever the priests had. Just as the latter lose their hold on the people, the doctors catch them. The people are just as superstitious in regard to the origin of disease as they were in Moses' time, and instead of correcting the evil, they have increased it.

The Catholics are freer from disease than the Protestants, for the latter, having lost their faith in the priests, have regained it in the medical faculty. The causes are not explained, and until they are, people will believe and put their lives in the hands of these humbugs - priests, doctors, mediums, mysteries [?] or something else - and they will continue to do so till they learn wisdom. Wisdom will teach them that everything we see is a phenomenon, and the cause that produces it is outside of it. Every thought that takes form in mind (or matter) has its cause outside of it, and man stands outside of all the above.

To believe a thing is to make it in the mind, for believing is understanding. If you believe what a person tells you, you create in your own mind the thing - and when you have created the thing, you are either in it or outside of it. For instance, I will tell you of some new disease. If I can explain it to you so you believe it - you have got it in your mind, ready to spring up at any time when your system is in the right condition. So you are in danger of the disease. If you had wisdom, the lie (or disease) would be in your wisdom as a lie - and be a dead letter. But if you believed it, your wisdom would be confined in your belief - and your punishment is the disease.

I am in no belief - but am outside of them all. I look upon the medical and religious beliefs as the offspring of heathen mythology and priestcraft. The fear of death is the cause of nine-tenths of all disease. Rewards and punishments make men sick and bring on disease. The first origin is putting restrictions on children in the form of religious instruction.

Take two children and bring them up in this way. Put restrictions on one; teach it if it does wrong God will punish it. And give it religious instruction. Take the other, and let it learn everything scientifically. Use no deception. Never use the word “God” or “religion,” but be kind, and reason with it. Then see which of the two will make the best man. One will be free from superstition, easy in manners, kind in disposition. The other will be fault-finding, crabby and overbearing - for just as you measure out to a child, just so the child will measure out to others. If you want to make a child good, be good yourself; and if you want him to be honest and respected, respect yourself, and do not try to make your children believe what you do not believe yourself.

The idea that the Bible teaches another world is all false. The New and Old Testaments were written to make man better and civilize him. The leaders, like politicians, varied in the mode of instruction. In the Old Testament, the people were governed by the rod - and in the New, Jesus introduced reason and sympathy. Disease was the consequence of civilization - not that it is impossible that man might advance without it; but the principle on which such a civilization is grounded would be scientific reasoning and analysis about every phenomenon of life and would not contain any religious belief - for that contains the seed of all man's error and misery.





Dr. Phineas Parkhurst Quimby



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