It is extraordinary how the Church of Christ fails to reap the harvest of her own experience, Montanists, Camisards, Irvingites have come and gone, with “tongues,” supernatural cures, and manifold trivial miracles, together with a real measure of the Christian Faith - miracles that dazzled for a time, and died; and yet, in spite of a present generation swamped in a Spiritualism demonstrably demonic, ever afresh rise new claimants to Divine powers whose unawareness of the subtleties of Demonism, and of the Scriptural tests for discrimination, almost passes belief.  The desim for miracle is legitimate and sound (1 Cor. 12: 31): the acceptance of untested miracle is the fearful precipice over which this generation will go (1 Tim. 4: 1-3).






Mr. J. M. Hickson, who, as he himself says, has “received invitations from archbishops and bishops to hold Healing Services in cathedrals and churches throughout the world,” lays claim, beyond doubt, to miraculous powers.  Defining it as “a revival of the healing ministry, on apostolic lines,” which existed in the Early Church, he says that he first became conscious of his healing power at the age of fourteen, when he began the laying on of hands, with cures following; and “I am conscious,” he says, “of this Power flowing through me when healing, as I am also of the Lord’s Personal Presence.”  So also he gives would-be healers the advice, so ominous to those experienced in Spiritualism, of perfect passivity.*  Throughout his whole work there is no remotest trace of any test as to the source of the miraculous power.  Yet such a case as the following, in a movement on the whole more Scriptural, might give the most ardent miracle-lover pause.  One cured in the Tongues Movement says:-  I heard of Pastor Jettreys from a friend, and attended the meeting.  When the invitation ‘Does anyone require healing from the Lord?’ came I rose to my feet, but was almost too weak and in too much pain to reach the front without assistance.  But scarcely had Pastor Jeffreys laid his hands upon me and anointed me with oil than I felt a great, dragging pain.  I screamed out with the pain of it.  For ten minutes the pastor prayed over me.  Then came a sort of shock.  I fainted for a moment, then rose to my feet.  All the pain had left my body; my feet seemed to take a firmer grip, and I walked home unaided.  Since then I have never felt better in my life, and am back to business.”  Meanwhile “weird in the extreme were the cries of those who had the gift of tongues.”  Such cures have been a commonplace of demon movements of all ages.**


[* J. M. Hickson’s Heal the Sick, p.p. 2-4, 269.


**The triviality of the cures wrought in all these modern movements - few, freakish, sometimes weird, and even grotesque - never rising above the level of the Spiritualistic healing medium of the Christian Science practitioner and never wholly free from the doubt whether they are miracles at all, is curiously illustrated by a recent inquiry held in British Columbia.  A committee of doctors and ministers investigated 316 alleged cures six months afterwards.  Only 5 patients then considered themselves cured; 38 said they had received some benefit; 212 were no better; 17 were worse; 5 had become insane; and 39 were dead.  Only very exceptionally,” says Mr. Hickson, apparently unconscious of the bridgeless gulf he thus opens between the Apostolic miracles and his own “are cures instantaneous.” Heal the Sick, p. 236.]






A second fact, coupled with this miraculous claim, opens the gravest possible solution of the problem.  The central doctrine of the Hickson Healing is a Sacerdotalism fundamentally indistinguishable from Rome; so that, if we admit the miraculousness of the cures, we are at once confronted with the doctrine they authenticate. Mr. Hickson says:- “Just as it was the Spirit of God who did the mighty works through the various means used by our Lord, so it is the operation of His Spirit manifesting through all, material means in the Sacraments in the Church to-day.  Bread and wine are used in the Blessed Sacrament, but the recipient knows that he is receiving our Lord’s own blessed Life, which preserves his body and soul unto everlasting life.”*  So Mr. Hickson’s appeal is to past miracles linked with shrine and relic and sacrament.  In the fourth century,” he says, “acts of healing were constantly performed by various means, such as prayer and sacraments, and the relics of the martyrs.”  In an ancient Prayer of Consecration he finds the heart and soul of his system:-  That they - the consecrated elements - may be to all of us for healing, and for renovation of soul, body and spirit.” **


[* Church of England Newspaper, May 12, 1922.


**Heal the Sick, pp. 257, 261.]






Now the modern peril, among other God-given discriminations, has had one safeguarding revelation (Deut. 13: 1) peculiarly apt.  If there arise in the midst of thee - this is the first mention of false prophets as not outside, but inside, the people of God - “a prophet” - one claiming to be a direct channel of God – “and he give thee a sign or wonder - real miracles actually performed: ‘signs,’ of an unseen presence; ‘wonders,’ for they surpass all the possibilities of the natural world – “and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee” - that is, the miracle was deliberately given to authenticate a doctrine – “saying, Let us go after other gods” - that is, an evil doctrine, which the miracle was to substantiate.






So now we receive a unique and priceless revelation.  Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams”: not only is the temptation not to be yielded to, but we are even to stop our ears to his every utterance; for the seducer who cannot reach the ear, is not likely to reach the heart.  For the unique revelation is this:- DOCTRINE CONFIRMS, OR DISPROVES, MIRACLE AS SURELY AS MIRACLE CONFIRMS, OR DISPROVES, DOCTRINE.  For the underlying principle is manifest.  God’s holy truth has already been established by miraculous proofs overwhelmingly greater than any Satan can ever show; in the burst of miracle on smoking Sinai, or our Lord’s cures which never failed, including the emptying of graves: any counter‑revelation, therefore, cannot conceivably be from God: its miracles, however real or marvellous, are therefore necessarily Satanic.  Divine doctrine and Satanic doctrine are opposites; and no miracle in the world can accredit contradictions: God has not only given evidence, but a kind and an amount of evidence, which puts His revelation beyond all doubt; and the purity of His truth authenticates His miracles.  Miracles, alone, are not a decisive test of truth: these prophets (in Deuteronomy) admitted the Mosaic revelation, yet, by miracle, sought to seduce God’s people from it: therefore the reality of the prophet’s miracle only makes him a more subtle and dangerous foe.






Another unique revelation follows.  Why does God permit hellish miracles?  This Scripture lets us into the very heart of the secret:-For the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”  That which heaven designed to be an aid to faith, hell transforms into a peril to faith, and God again over-rules into a test of faith.  So false prophets to-day are a test of every member of the Church of Christ; and their enormous increase at the end reveals the deep dissatisfaction of the Most High with the Churches.   Truth, to the faithful heart, is more than all wonders, for it is the breath of the God we love; so if we choose the wonders rather than the truth - our cure, for example, rather than the Holy Scriptures - we reveal the faulty measure of our love to God.  Miracle is the acid test at the end.






Lourdes is the goal of the Hickson Healing.  It is all part of the huge and unconscious trend Romeward, engineered from the unseen: the supernatural utterance in Irvingism led a Presbyterian Church step by step until it made formal application for entrance into the Church of Rome.*  Mass suggestion,” says Count Hoensbroech, once a Jesuit, “holds sovereign sway at Lourdes; it is impossible for any Catholic to resist the religious frenzy.”  Dr. Cox, the English medical assistant at Lourdes, says:-When you come to Lourdes you have to throw away all your methods of thought which served in the outside world.”  What is the mystic power in the background of the world’s mighty Sacerdotal growth Father Hugh Benson has revealed with a frankness that never realized its peril:-It would be possible to multiply parallels [between Roman Catholicism and Spiritualism] almost in indefinitely.  Communications made at a distance by other than physical means: phantasms of the living (called by the Church ‘bi‑location’) and of the dead; faith-healing; the physical effect of monotonous repetition; the value of what the church callssacramentals,’ that is, of suggestive articles (such as water) in which there is no intrinsic value; the levitations of heavy bodies [as the known and recorded ‘spirit levitations’ of St. Theresa and Ignatius Loyola]; even the capacity of inanimate objects to retain a kind of emotional or spiritual aroma of the person who was once in relation to them (as in the case of relics).”**  So also here is an actual spirit communication confirming the same point from the side of Spiritualism:- “What is every celebration of the Mass but a materializing seance carried to the highest Spiritualistic point?  And what is the teaching of the Church as to the invocation of all saints but Spiritualism pure and simple?  Despite all accretion of error, the Catholic Church has remained in all ages the great witness to the reality and truth of the close and constant communication of the discarnate and the incarnate.”***


[* See Irvingism, Tongues, and the Gifts of the Holy Ghost (Thynne and Jarvis).

**Atlantic Monthly, August, 1910.

***Contemporary Review, October, 1910.]