The Power of Thought– address by Elizabeth G. Stuart, April 1, 1888

Horatio Dresser’s history of New Thought, quoted in my last entry, linked the teachings of Sarah Stanley Grimke to those of Elizabeth G.Stuart.  But until visiting the Moorland-Springarn Research Center at Howard University last month, I had not known that Stuart’s involvement with Grimke and her daughter Angelina had lasted for many years.

Of special relevance to Church of Light roots is evidence in the Grimke letters concerning Stuart’s group “Light, Truth, Love” which operated into the 20th century. First person references to slavery in Grimke’s Esoteric Lessons seem to transfer the rhetoric of abolitionism to the cause of feminism.  No doubt influences behind this include the Weld/Grimke family into which Sarah married, all of whose eminent members had connected women’s rights with the anti-slavery movement.  Mrs. Stuart’s public statements are few, but she significantly gave an address at an event that did precisely that— connect the liberation of women to that of black slaves– the International Council of Women held from March 25 through April 1, 1888, sponsored by the Woman Suffrage Association.  Note the prominence of Frederick Douglass in the proceedings.  Here is Mrs. Stuart’s address, given on the final day:


Mrs. Stuart. I come before you as a member of the organization known as Humanity: passport to that organization, Spirit of Truth; basis of work, Common Sense; theory, Evolution. What is truth? Pythagoras said, “Truth is so great a perfection that if God were to render himself visible to man, he would choose Light for his body and Truth for his soul!” Truth is one, with infinite expressions; expression implies limitation, while truth is unlimited. Truth rests upon the law of identity, established through the law of polar or real opposites and its twin sister, the law of contradictories, revealed to man by the science of numbers. It is to that science man must look for a solution of the problems of life in their varied relations.

No science of ethics, which exempts the physical, can be true, since it makes man dependent upon the conditions of the body. No system of physics can be true which strikes from its premises the spiritual law, since it degrades morals to a dependence upon the physical. Man as a unit is governed by one law through his entire being, spiritually, intellectually, and physically, ever in the one order from the higher to the next lower.

The imaging faculty is the highest known to man; through it he expresses the ideal, and it is the means by which he expresses to the senses whatever intellect accepts, thus forming the relation between mind and body. Through that open door fear enters and stamps upon the body distorted, untrue mental images, which physicians name, then proceed to try to erase from the body by physical means.

It is a self-evident absurdity that a picture in mind can be removed by rubbing the body. Fear in the mind, from any cause, increases the heat of the body; and, as the thermometer rises higher and higher, we see the different degrees known as first inflammation, then congestion, ulceration, and so on.

“As a man thinketh, that he becometh.” As is the mind, so is the thought; as is the thought, so is the image expressed in form externally. Let him keep his picture-gallery free from impurity, who would have pure blood. Whatever he does not desire to appear in the external, must be watchfully kept out of the mind; once there, its picture hangs upon the inner walls, ready for the favorable moment to appear. The imaging faculty is both cause and cure for all bodily discord.