Spiritism - Ancient And Modern
Chapter 6 of the Book
We wrestle …, against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.—Eph. 6:12
GENERAL REMARKS.—PROOFS THAT IT IS DEMONISM.—WHO ARE THESE SPIRITS WHICH PERSONATE THE DEAD?—OBSESSION AT THE FIRST ADVENT.—MODERN SPIRITISM AND ITS TENDENCIES.—WARNINGS FROM A SPIRITIST AND SWEDENBORGIAN.—MANY POSSESSED OF DEVILS TODAY.—SPIRITISM REVIVING.—SPIRITS NOW ORGANIZE CHURCHES.—"IN THE SECRET CHAMBER."—"WE ARE NOT IGNORANT OF HIS DEVICES."—SATANIC POWERS MALIFIC.—"BE NOT HIGH-MINDED, BUT FEAR."—THESE ARE THE STRONG DELUSIONS.—HYPNOTISM AND TELEPATHY MODERN DEMONISM.—COMMUNICATION WITH THE DEAD.—REV. I. K. FUNK, D.D., "TOUCHED."—REV. R. HEBER NEWTON'S VIEWS.—SUGGESTIVE FACTS NOTED.—EXPERIENCES IN SPIRITUALISM.—OF AN IRRELEVANT CHARACTER.—THE SPIRITS BETRAY THEIR EVIL INTENTION.—A REMARKABLE VISION.—"WHY HE HAD BEEN SUMMONED TO ME."—ARREST THE PROGRESS OF EVIL.—THE TRIUMPH AND DEFEAT OF SATAN.—PHYSICALLY HEALED.—PREACHING TO THE DEAD.—PREACHING TO THE SPIRITS IN PRISON.—SPIRITS ONCE DISOBEDIENT.—IN CHAINS OF DARKNESS.—ONCE DISOBEDIENT—STILL DISOBEDIENT.—FIGHTING AGAINST GOD.—THROUGH MEDIUMS AND OBSESSIONS.—"KNOW YE NOT THAT THE SAINTS SHALL JUDGE ANGELS?"—HOW JESUS PREACHED IN DEATH.
"Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."—Eph. 6:11, 12, American Standard Revised Version.
THAT which we believe to be the truth respecting Spiritism is antagonized from two standpoints. (1) The majority of people have no confidence in Spiritism, but believe its claimed manifestations and proofs are fraudulent. (2) An increasingly large number are disposed to deny the existence of the evil spirit beings called demons, and of the prince of demons, called in the Scriptures the Devil and Satan.
Rev. Adam Clark, D.D., has well said:
"Satan knows well that those who deny his being will not be afraid of his power and influence; will not watch against his wiles and devices; will not pray to God for deliverance from the Evil One; will not expect him to be trampled down under their feet, if he has no existence; and, consequently, they will become an easy and unopposing prey to the enemy of their souls. By leading men to disbelieve and deny his existence, he throws them off their guard. He is then their complete master, and they are led captive by him at his will. It is well known that among all those who make any profession of religion, those who deny the existence of the Devil, are those who pray little or none at all; and are, apparently, as careless about the existence of God as they are about the being of the Devil. Duty to God is with them out of the question; for those who do not pray, especially in private — and I never saw a devil-denier who did — have no religion of any kind, except the form, whatever pretentions they may choose to make."
If it be asked how Spiritism could do injury to those who consider its claims to be deceptions and frauds and its votaries to be dupes, we answer that a large majority of its votaries are those who at one time thoroughly and heartily denied its claims and considered them impositions. Those who most thoroughly disbelieve in Spiritism are often the most ready to test its professed claims; and when convinced that many of its claims are genuine and many of its manifestations supernatural, these former disbelievers are more liable to become its devotees: whereas, if they had known just what Spiritism is, and how and by what power it operates, they would be on guard, and their judgment would have a support and guidance which it otherwise lacks. It is the lack of the true knowledge of Spiritism (imparted through the Scriptures and confirmed by indisputable evidences from outside the Scriptures) which causes so many to fall a prey to this delusion.
True, there are frauds committed in the name of Spiritism; but these are chiefly in connection with attempted "materializations." That Spiritists have done and can do, through some power or agency, many wonderful works beyond the power of man, has been abundantly proved in a variety of cases—some of them before scientific men, total unbelievers. Tambourines have been played while in the air beyond the reach of human hand and suspended by some invisible power; chairs have been lifted into the air while people were sitting upon them, and without any connection with any visible power or agency; mediums have been floated through the air, etc. The rapping tests, the table-tipping tests, the autograph tests and the slate-writing tests have been proved over and over again, to the satisfaction of hundreds of intelligent people in various parts of the world. And Spiritism reckons amongst its adherents judges, lawyers, business-men and numbers of women of ability. These people have tested the claims of Spiritism and have candidly avowed their faith in it. And it is unwise, to say the least, to sneer at such as fools or knaves—fools if simply deluded by tricks and sleight of hand; knaves if they are willingly and knowingly lending their time and influence to the perpetration of frauds.
The writer was inclined to be skeptical with reference to all the various claims of Spiritism until convinced to the contrary by a Christian man, in whose testimony he was justified in having full confidence. This friend was not a believer in Spiritism, but, being thrown into the company of some Spiritists for an evening, the suggestion was made, "Let us have a seance." The company present assented, our friend remaining from curiosity. They sat down to a table, placed their hands upon it in the usual manner, and one of the number present being a medium inquired, "Are there any spirits present?" The answer, indicated by raps upon the table—one for A, two for B, three for C, etc.—spelled out the information that spirits were present, but that they would hold no communication that evening. The medium asked "Why?" The answer rapped out was, "Because new mediums are being appointed all over the United States." The company was disappointed and through the medium asked that as a test the name of some prominent person dying that night should be communicated. The request was complied with and the name of a Russian dignitary, which we cannot now recall, was spelled out. This was before the Atlantic cable was laid, and my friend, anxious to test the matter, kept watch of the newspapers and finally, nearly a month after (the time requisite for Russian mails in those days) he saw the announcement of the death of the Russian notable bearing that very name.
Our friend was convinced that Spiritism was not all a "hoax," and was anxious for another meeting. When it took place, in view of the answer at the previous meeting, the medium inquired, "Are there any other mediums present? and, if so, how many?" The answer was "Four." The medium asked the spirit to please indicate which four of those present were mediums, and as each one called his name the mediums were indicated by a rap upon the table, by some invisible agent. Our friend was one of those indicated and right proud he felt of the honor. This occurred in Wheeling, W. Va. Shortly afterwards he visited an aunt, a widow. Anxious to display his newly conferred powers as a medium, he asked his aunt and her daughter to join him in a "seance." They were surprised, and the daughter said, "Why, are you a medium? I am a rapping medium also, brother Harry is a tipping medium and mother is a writing and trance medium." Our friend had never witnessed the powers of any but rapping mediums, and was very anxious that his aunt should display the powers of her mediumship, and was shown writing done by her which was an exact facsimile of his dead uncle's autograph upon checks. And strange, too, his uncle wrote a fine hand, while his aunt could not write at all, except under this influence.
Wishing to test her powers as a talking medium, the three surrounded a small table, and the aunt called for a spirit to communicate through her. The answer given was that there would be no communication, because there were no unbelievers present to convince. They persisted, however, and got the aunt to call again for the spirit. The answer this time was that her hands were forcibly lifted from the table and brought down upon it with a bang. This was something surprising to them all. The spirits evidently were provoked at the pertinacity of a second call after their refusal. But after discussing the matter for some ten minutes our friend prevailed upon his aunt to call again for the spirits and see what else would happen. She complied, and in response her hands were lifted from the table and brought down with fearful concussion, three times in rapid succession, sounding as though every bone would be broken; and with her eyes staring out wildly and shrieking Oh! Oh! Oh! she jumped from the table in a semi-delirious condition.
That spirit, whoever it may have been, was evidently angry and wanted it understood that it could not be trifled with. Our friend informs us that never after that would his aunt have anything to do with Spiritism as a medium—she had caution enough to let it alone. But our friend was anxious to witness the powers of a "tipping medium," and in the evening when his cousin Harry came home he insisted on having an exhibition of his mediumship. Harry complied and amongst other tests was the following:—He placed a small, light table in the center of the floor and said, "I call for the spirit of our old dog Dash to come into this table." Then addressing the table he said, "Come, Dash!" The table balanced itself on two feet and hobbled after him around the room.
We should here remark that our friend who vouches for these matters will no longer exercise any of his powers as a medium. He is a prominent Christian man now living in Pittsburgh, Pa. His views with reference to Spiritism are now the same that we are here endeavoring to present.
The claim of Spiritists is, that these manifestations and communications from unseen intelligences are from human beings, who once lived in this world, but who, when seeming to die really became more alive, more intelligent, freer, and every way more capable and competent than they had ever been before. It is claimed that the purpose of these manifestations is to prove that the dead are not dead, but alive;—that there is no need of a resurrection of the dead, because there are no dead—the dead being more alive than ever, after passing into what is termed death. We shall not stop here to show how inharmonious all this is to the testimony of Scripture upon this subject, but merely cite the reader to the Word of the Lord, reminding him that, "If there be no resurrection of the dead, … then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."—1 Cor. 15:13, 18; Job 14:21; Psa. 146:4; Eccl. 9:5, 6.
Here is the point of infatuation. As soon as the unbeliever in Spiritism has been convinced that an unseen intelligence communicates through the medium he is all interest. Nothing else offers such proofs from invisible sources as does Spiritism; and many seem not only willing but anxious to walk by sight rather than by faith. Every one has friends who have died, and thousands are anxious to communicate with them if possible, and to receive from them some message or some advice. It is not surprising, therefore, to find people greatly absorbed in these matters, and very willing to be directed by those whom they esteem their truest friends and most competent advisers.
They visit a medium for the purpose of holding communication with the dead. The medium describes the hair, the eyes, etc., and certain little peculiarities, such as a mole or an injured or deformed finger or foot (which the father or son or sister or wife identifies as the description of the loved one deceased) and delivers a message which, however vague or indefinite, is construed to be very important. The novices are filled with a sort of reverent joy mixed with a humble feeling of the inferiority of their own condition, and with a pride that they have been counted worthy to receive communications from "the spirit world," while so many good and great people are not so favored, but are "blind to the wonderful facts of Spiritism." The feelings thus started are somewhat akin to some kinds of religious feelings, and straightway the "converts" are ready to believe and obey the advice and instructions of those whom they believe to be so much wiser and holier than themselves, and so deeply interested in their welfare, present and eternal, as to leave the joys and ministries of Heaven to commune with them and instruct them.
The majority of people have no true Christian faith built upon the foundation of the Word of God; they have a wish for a future life, and a hope with reference to their dead, rather than a faith with reference to either. As a consequence, their minds being convinced that they have had communication with those beyond the grave, everything relating to the future life becomes more real and more interesting to them than ever before. And many such, wholly ignorant of religious feelings, say to themselves, Now I know what it is to have faith, and a religious feeling with reference to the future, and they congratulate themselves that they have received a great spiritual blessing.
But this is only the first lesson, and these comparatively uplifting experiences belong chiefly to it. Later experiences will demonstrate, as all Spiritists will freely acknowledge, that there are "evil spirits," "lying spirits," which time and again deceive them; and the messages and revelations, often foolish and nonsensical, gradually lead the investigator to a disbelief of the Bible and the Creator, while it teaches and exalts "the spirits" as the only sources of knowledge aside from nature; and thus the way is paved toward advanced lessons on "spirit-affinities," "free love," etc. But after the first deception and shaking of confidence the explanation that there are "both good and bad spirits" is generally satisfactory; and the poor victim follows blindly on, because assured that he communes with some supernatural power.
As an illustration of this we mention the case of an old gentleman, a Pittsburgher, an avowed Spiritist and an earnest defender of Spiritism. We knew something of his history through a mutual friend; how that, while holding a communication through a medium, supposedly his "evoluted" wife, the latter said to him: "John, I am perfectly happy only for one thing; and that is on your account." He answered, "Oh, Mary, do not allow my affairs to mar your bliss! I am comparatively happy for an old man and comparatively comfortable." But the answer came, "Oh, no, John, I know better! I know that you are lonely, very lonely, that you miss me very much, and are suffering from lack of many little attentions; and that your home is comparatively dreary." Mr. N. had full confidence in Mary's judgment, and the message carried great weight; and his home and its affairs gradually grew less happifying, and he gradually grew dissatisfied; and so at a subsequent "seance" he inquired of Mary what he could do that would relieve her burden and make her bliss complete. She replied that he should find a suitable companion and re-marry. But the old gentleman (seventy years old) objected that even if he could find a suitable companion, such a one would not have him. But at frequent interviews the supposed spirit of his wife insisted, and as he thought further over the matter he grew more lonely, and finally asked Mary to choose for him, as she had so much better judgment than any earthly being could have on the subject. The medium affected great indignation at the answer, and would not communicate it at first. The more she objected to giving the answer, the more anxious Mr. N. became to have it, and finally the medium explained that the spirit of his wife had said that Mr. N. should marry her (the medium); but that she was indignant that the spirit should think that she would marry an old man like him.
But the more Mr. N. thought the matter over the more he was inclined to be, as he supposed, led by the good spirit of his wife into ways of pleasantness and into paths of peace; and he urged upon the medium that it was the duty of humanity to obey the behests of their best friends in the "spirit world." Finally the medium consented that if he would deed over to her what property he possessed she would agree to follow the directions of the spirit and marry him. The matter was consummated in legal form, and Mr. N. with his medium wife and her daughter proposed to make the formerly cold and cheerless home of Mr. N. all that his spirit-wife had wished for him. It was a very short time, however, before the poor old gentleman was very glad to abandon home and all, to get free from the two "she-devils," as he afterward knew them.
But did not this shake the confidence of Mr. N. in Spiritism? By no means. He merely communicated with his wife again through another medium and was informed that a lying spirit had misrepresented her entirely and that she had given no such bad advice. Knowing these facts concerning his history when we met him shortly after, and he tried to urge upon the writer the claims of Spiritism, we said to him, "Mr. N., we will admit that Spiritism is backed by some super-human phenomena, but we deny that the powers which communicate represent themselves truthfully. They claim to be friends and relatives who once lived in this world, but the Scriptures assure us to the contrary of this that there is no work or knowledge or device in the grave, and that the dead know not anything. (Eccl. 9:5, 10.) They declare that the only hope of a future life is by a resurrection from the dead. You know, Mr. N., that whatever these powers may be which claim to be the spirits of your friends, their testimony is entirely unreliable. You cannot believe their most solemn declarations. They are what the Scriptures term "lying spirits." We proceeded to give him, as we are about to give in this article, the identity of these spirits as set forth in the Scriptures. He heartily assented that some of the spirits were unreliable, "thoroughly bad," but claimed that others were very good, very truthful, and had frequently given good advice which had been very helpful to him.
It is claimed by many Spiritists, especially by novices, that the influence of Spiritism is elevating; but those who have passed through the various stages of experience in this so called religious system have found, and have publicly declared, that its influence is quite the reverse of elevating—it is demoralizing.
The method of operation is explained by The Banner of Light, a leading Spiritist paper, in answer to the query, thus:—
"Q. Where a spirit controls the hand of a medium to write, is the impression always made through the brain?
"A. Sometimes the control is what is termed mechanical control; then the connection between arm and brain is entirely severed, and yet the manifestation is made through what is called the nervous fluids, a certain portion of which is retained in the arm for the purpose of action. But when the manifestation is what is called an impressional manifestation, then the brain and entire nervous system is used."
Explaining the difference between Mesmerism and spirit control, another journal, the Spiritual Age, says:
"Suppose I magnetize you today; and that I, the mesmerizer, speak, write, act through you, you being unconscious;—this is Mesmerism. Suppose, further, that I die tonight; and that, tomorrow, I, a spirit, come and magnetize you, and then speak, write, act through you; this is Spiritualism [Spiritism]."
The value of Spiritism to the world is thus summed up by the well known Horace L. Hastings:—
"According to the theory of Spiritualists there are a hundred times as many disembodied spirits about us as there are men in the flesh. Among them are all the poets, authors, orators, musicians and inventors of past ages. They know all they ever knew when they were in the flesh, and have been learning a great deal more since; and with their added powers and extended experience they should be able to do what mortals have never done before. They have had free access to the public mind and public press, with no end of mediums ready to receive their communications, and thousands and thousands of inquirers who have anxiously questioned them, and earnestly desired to obtain information from them. They have had tables and slates and pens and pencils and banjos and pianos and cabinets and bells and violins and guitars; and what have we to show for it all? Their business in this world has been to instruct men, to help them, to make them wiser and better. They have talked and rapped, they have tipped and rattled, they have fiddled and scribbled, they have materialized and dematerialized, they have entranced and exhibited; they have told us many things which we knew before; many things which we do not know yet; and many other things which it was no matter whether we knew or not; but when we come to real instruction, reliable information, or profitable and valuable knowledge, Spiritism is as barren as Sahara, as empty as a hollow gourd."
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