I will try to define what I mean by "taking a disease." Mind is matter and is under the direction of a power called the senses. The senses embrace no knowledge of themselves, no more than the mind; but the soul or intelligence is in some way connected with the senses, like the power with the direction. This same combination runs through all mechanical science. The direction is the wisdom that directs the senses. The senses cannot act all by themselves; only as they are acted upon by this power called wisdom. This wisdom can act upon the body or independently of the identity. This is all there is of man. The senses are under the direction of wisdom, either right or wrong, that controls them; either by science or error or for good or evil. As matter is an idea, I shall class it all together but attach the senses to it in some cases, and detach them in others.
I will illustrate. Suppose I think of Niagara Falls; my senses are no part of the falls, nor are they attached to them. Now suppose a person should undertake to throw me, that is, my bodily senses, over the falls; my senses are attached to my body, and both are matter, but one is under the senses, and the other is independent of my senses. The trouble lies in my knowledge of the result of being thrown into the falls; that is drowning; which is losing my identity, senses, matter and all there is of me. Now put me in possession of the fact that my senses will not be lost if the identity of my body is, then death is swallowed up in truth. As our knowledge is progressive and a higher power than ourselves, we know God only as we know ourselves; so that eternal life is in the dark. Our knowledge is in our belief, and we are taught that our body contains the senses. We have no proof that they can act independently of the body's identity. So when I am afraid that my life is in danger, I am afraid, just as much as my knowledge sees any danger of losing my life. So I stand, nervous and trembling, for fear that I shall be thrown into the falls. The fear is not in the falls, nor in my knowledge, but in the ignorance or idea that I shall be lost, if I fall into the water.
Now suppose I escape. The idea is now a part of my bodily identity; not the falls, but the danger. This is my disease. By the doctor, this is called "nervous," but is all the disease there can be. This is being bound in heaven or the mind. Now until all this is cleared up, the mind, as in a dream, is groaning over the trouble; fearing to be destroyed. This trouble, being a part of the matter, throws off a heat or atmosphere, and the soul or senses are in the scene. Every person who comes within this atmosphere affects me, because I am afraid. This knowledge or fear, for it is fear, is not known to another as knowledge, but as fear; or a peculiar state of mind which they construe falsely, giving a false interpretation to my acts, because they know not my trouble. Now if the fear changes my bodily identity, producing a deranged state of matter, which can be seen through the bodily senses, this effect is called by the profession "disease," and treated as such. So their explanation is like Aaron's priesthood, where sacrifices are offered up every year, but which could never take away sin or error. Therefore, to cure man of disease or error, it must be done by a new priesthood; not after the order of Aaron that can never explain it away, but after a higher and more excellent priesthood that can take upon himself our infirmities; can bear our burdens and lay down his life to save the sick.
Now return with me to the falls and behold a young person standing, trembling with flushed cheek and quivering lips with cold and clammy perspiration starting, urged on by her friends to make the last leap, never to return. Urged, I say, for error is always urging us on to destruction. Now in the midst of all this confusion, a voice is heard out of the clouds of error saying, "Be not afraid, there is no danger." They all stop, and lo! I appear before her enemies for it happens to be a young female, sentenced to be cast into this lake; never to return. There stand all her earthly friends, weeping and forcing her along. Just as she approaches the precipice, I seize her by the hand and command her enemies to desist. A sort of parley takes place, and I propose to run the risk of my own life to save the lady. This being agreed, I then say a few words to the friends. I tell them there is no danger of her being lost and will run the risk of my reputation to convince them of their errors in regard to her disease. This act washes away her sins or error and establishes the doctrine of eternal life, which is to them a mystery.
So I step forward to the brink, and in I go; now lost to sight and gone forever. In an instant, I am seen on the surface, perfectly calm, with not a ripple to be seen. This, to bystanders, is a miracle, so I repeat it, until the fears of that danger are passed. Then I return the young lady to her father's house, where all will rejoice, as all fears of the danger are gone. Health is returned, and again she is ready to embrace some other errors of the priests and doctors. The errors of these two classes of mankind give rise to all the evils that flesh is heir to. They are separate and apart from all science and do not embrace one single truth; but are the stumbling blocks for the truth to overcome in arriving at science. It is true that they were once necessary evils, but it is time now that man should look about and see if there cannot be a higher mode of worshiping God or science from a higher principle than fear. For say what you will, the whole foundation of the creeds is based on fear. This fear causes all the misery in the world, and I will show how it is grafted into the mind.
— July, 1860
P. P. Quimby