Spiritism - Ancient and Modern
The claim of Spiritists is that Spiritism is the new gospel which is shortly to revolutionize the world—socially, religiously, politically. But, as we have just seen, Spiritism under various garbs has long held possession of the world and borne bad fruit in every clime. It is well over a century since the rapping and tipping manifestations first occurred, in Rochester, N. Y. (1848), and gave start to what is at present known in the United States as "Spiritualism." It began with strange noises in a "haunted house," and first answered a little girl, who addressed the unseen author of the noises as "Old Splithoof." It had a rapid run of popularity, and judges, doctors, lawyers, ministers and hundreds of thousands of others speedily became its votaries, until its friends and its enemies claimed that its adherents numbered over ten millions. Believing in the consciousness of the dead, ignorant of the Scripture teachings on the subject of death and of their prohibition from holding communion with "mediums"; and very generally disbelieving in evil spirits, it is not surprising that intelligent men and women, having proved to their own satisfaction that supernatural powers were in their midst, as manifested by the rappings, tippings, slate-writings, answers to questions through mediums, clairvoyances, etc., should believe these invisible powers which desire to converse with them to be what they profess—their deceased friends. Even allowing that there are certain tricks of legerdemain, and certain frauds along similar lines, we cannot wonder that intelligent people would believe their own senses in respect to instances which they had personally investigated.
As a result, for a time many of God's people were in great danger, because of their failure to take heed to the sure Word of God's testimony (the Bible) on this subject. Indeed, the personating spirits seem at first to have been very careful in all their references to the Bible, sometimes advising the religious ones who attended seances to do more reading of the Bible, more praying, etc. But this was only to allay their suspicions and fears and to get them more fully under their influence. Gradually the teachings became more and more lax, and the student was given to understand that the Bible was better than nothing to the uninitiated world, but to those who had come to have intercourse with the spirits direct, the Bible was useless—and worse, a hindrance.
Well has an able writer upon the subject said of Spiritism:
"A system which commences with light, innocent, trifling and frivolous performances and communications, but which ends in leading its followers to deny 'the Lord that bought them,' and to reject the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever, gives evidence that there may be a deep purpose under all its fantastic tricks; and that the craft of the Old Serpent, who is a liar from the beginning, may underlie those trifling and unimportant communications which, by stimulating curiosity and inspiring confidence, lull to slumber the suspicions of honest but undiscerning souls, until they are in the fatal coils of the Enemy of all righteousness."
These demons who personate the dead, seeing that a New Dispensation is opening, were prompt to apply their knowledge so far as possible to the advancement of their own cause, and freely declared a New Dispensation at hand, and Spiritism the guiding angel which was to lead mankind safely into it; and they have not hesitated to declare that the New Dispensation means the utter wreck of the present social order, and the establishment of Spiritism as the new order. In some instances, where they thought it would serve their purpose, they have not hesitated to declare the Second Coming of Christ, and on one occasion at least it was distinctly stated that Christ had come a second time; and it was intimated that they were ready, if any one chose, to grant communication with Christ through the medium.
Many of God's people have been saved from being ensnared into this great evil, by what we might term their own spiritual sense, by which they discerned that there was something in connection with Spiritism quite at variance with the spirit of our Lord and the sentiments of His Word. We may safely conclude, however, on the strength of the Lord's promise, that none of the fully consecrated—the "elect"—are suffered to be fully ensnared.—Matt. 24:24.
The strongly marked tendency of Spiritism toward free-loveism served to bring it into general disrepute amongst the pure minded, who concluded that, if the influence of the dead was properly represented in some living advocates of Spiritism, then the social conditions beyond the vale of death must be much worse, much more impure, than they are in the present life, instead of much better, as these demon spirits claim.
We could make voluminous quotations from Spiritist writings, proving that it totally denies the Bible, and that it is in direct opposition to its teachings; that it has denied the very existence of God, teaching instead merely a good principle, and that every man is a god. It denies the atonement and the Lordship of Christ, while it claims that He was a spirit-medium of low degree; and furthermore, abundant testimony could be quoted from prominent Spiritists proving that the tendencies of Spiritism are extremely demoralizing. We will content ourselves with one.
Here is the testimony of J. F. Whitney, editor of the Pathfinder (N. Y.). Having been a warm and evidently an honest defender and advocate of Spiritism for a long time and well acquainted with its devotees, his is a testimony hard to impeach. He says:—
"Now, after a long and constant watchfulness, seeing for months and years its progress and its practical workings upon its devotees, its believers, and its mediums, we are compelled to speak our honest conviction, which is, that the manifestations coming through the acknowledged mediums, who are designated as rapping, tipping, writing and trance mediums, have a baneful influence upon believers, and create discord and confusion; that the generality of these teachings inculcate false ideas, approve of selfish individual acts, and endorse theories and principles which, when carried out, debase and make man little better than the brute. These are among the fruits of modern Spiritualism.
"Seeing, as we have, the gradual progress it makes with its believers, particularly its mediums, from lives of morality to those of sensuality and immorality, gradually and cautiously undermining the foundation of good principles, we look back with amazement to the radical change which a few months will bring about in individuals; for its tendency is to approve and endorse each individual act and character, however good or bad these acts may be."
He concludes by saying: "We desire to send forth our warning voice, and if our humble position, as the head of a public journal, our known [former] advocacy of Spiritualism, our experience, and the conspicuous part we have played among its believers, the honesty and fearlessness with which we have defended the subject, will weigh anything in our favor, we desire that our opinions may be received, and those who are moving passively down the rushing rapids to destruction, should pause, ere it be too late, and save themselves from the blasting influence which those manifestations are causing."
So bold and outspokenly immoral did some of the prominent representatives of Spiritism become, especially the female mediums (and most of its mediums are females), that the moral sense of civilization was shocked; and for a time demonism under the name of "Spiritualism" languished. Now that its past is measurably forgotten or denied, it is reviving, but along somewhat different lines. The new method seems to be to have less tipping and rapping and fewer special mediums, or rather to make of each believer a medium, by the use of mechanical appliances. Indeed, almost all who become investigators are assured that they would make excellent mediums. This flattery is no doubt intended to lure them on, the ability to do "wonders" having a great fascination, especially for people of naturally mediocre talents. Nor is the statement untrue: none but idiots are so stupid or so ignorant that they cannot be used as mediums; and they may become powerful mediums in proportion as they yield themselves obediently to the "control" of these "seducing spirits" and their "doctrines of devils (See 1 Tim. 4:1) and are "led captive" by Satan at his will.—2 Tim. 2:26.
The term "seducing spirits" exactly fits the case. From amusement of curiosity and answering of questions, sometimes quite truthfully, they proceed to gain the confidence of their victims, and in a plausible manner to break down the will power and make slaves of them. Then they tyrannize in a most diabolical manner, leading into excesses of various kinds. Should conscience rebel or an attempt be made to get free from this slavery, all reserve is cast aside and the victim is taunted with his fall, persuaded that there is no hope for him, and that his only future pleasure must be in diabolism—Scriptures being skillfully quoted and cited to apparently prove this.
A case of this kind came under the writer's observation. A gentleman who had occasionally attended our preaching asked that an interview be granted his sister whom he would bring from Cleveland for the purpose. She was, he said, laboring under the delusion that she had committed the unpardonable sin, and he hoped we could disabuse her mind of the thought which sometimes made her "wild." We consented, and she came. She conversed rationally enough but assured us that her case was hopeless. We explained the Scriptures relating to the "sin unto death" and endeavored to show her that she had never had sufficient light to come under its conditions, but we could make no headway. She declared that she had been in a salvable condition once, but was so no longer.
She told us how she had met in California a man who had a familiar spirit and occult powers; at first disbelieving, she afterward became his co-worker in "mysteries" resembling witchcraft, and had finally inveigled and injured a dear female friend. Since then remorse had seized her, and she had been tortured and at times frenzied and hope had forever fled. Before she left us she seemed comforted a little by what we told her of Divine compassion and the abundant provision made in the great Ransom for all given at Calvary. But we have heard since that she lost hope again and has been placed in an asylum to hinder her from taking her own life. She could not be trusted alone: she would attempt to throw herself headlong from a window, or while quietly walking the street would attempt to throw herself under passing vehicles;—reminding us of the case mentioned in Mark 9:22. We have regretted, since, that instead of merely reasoning with the poor woman we did not, also, in the name of the Lord, exorcise the evil spirit which evidently possessed her; or, failing to cast it out, at least have instructed and helped her to exercise her will power to resist the demon.
There are good spirits, as the Scriptures freely declare; and these holy angels are charged with the care of all who are fully consecrated to the Lord. These, however, do not operate in darkness, nor through "mediums," and have better employment than tipping tables, rapping out answers to foolish questions and entertaining humanity. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:14.) There is no warrant, however, for seeking or expecting communications from these holy guardian angels: God's will being that His "elect" shall walk by faith and not by unusual manifestations or sights or sounds. To this end He has prepared His Word as a storehouse of knowledge from which His faithful shall be supplied with "meat in due season"; and He declares it to be sufficient that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work.—2 Tim. 3:17.
Furthermore, it may be set down as a sure sign of evil (either germinating or developed), for any one to attempt to get control of the will and mind of another—as in mesmerism, spirit-mediumship, hypnotism and the like. The Lord respects our individuality and appeals to it, and urges our self-control in harmony with the principles of righteousness laid down in His Word. But Spiritism asks an abandonment of self-control in favor of spirit control. No one of ordinary prudence would dare to give up the use and control of his mind and will to fellow-men, much less to unseen powers which merely profess to be good and great and wise. No Christian who has the slightest confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God should submit himself to these influences as a "medium," or even become an "investigator" of that concerning which God's Word has given us so explicit warnings—that it is a way that leads from God and righteousness to sin and ruin, mental, moral and physical.
One of the simple modern devices for awakening interest and leading on to fuller "mediumship," "possession" and "control," is described in a letter received from a Christian lady, a school teacher in Georgia, and a deeply interested student of God's Plan of the Ages. The writer says:—
"I have been having a rather strange and perhaps unwise experience lately. My husband's brother is a Spiritualist, takes the Progressive(?) Thinker and is thoroughly imbued with its teachings, and, when I visit there, he reads articles from it and asks my opinion concerning them; especially those from persons claiming to have received messages from 'departed friends' through the aid of the mediums. Now I never have thought it 'all humbug' as many do, though there is much fraud connected with it—for it seems to me that the Bible plainly teaches that spirits have had, and will have, the power to communicate with men. I have told him that I believed those communications came from fallen angels who personated the dead for the purpose of deceiving men into believing Satan's old lie, "Thou shalt not surely die." But as my brother-in-law does not accept the Bible as the Word of God, my opinion had little weight with him. His wife (who is a firm believer in SCRIPTURE STUDIES) is much troubled over his belief; and both have found their difference of opinion anything but pleasant, though his wife avoids the subject as much as possible with fidelity to the Truth. Some time ago he bought a Psychograph, an instrument used by mediums for communing with spirits, but he could not use it.
"A few days ago it was placed in my hands, and, as I found I was a medium, I resolved to "try the spirits." [This is a misapplication of Scripture, as shown later. EDITOR.] About the first thing it said to me was that there is a valuable gold mine on our place: that did not surprise me, as we had been told that a "vein" had been traced across the place. It described the exact location to dig for it; said it is only 7½ feet below the surface. So that will not be difficult to prove. Then it gave me some Scripture messages, Col. 1:4, 5 and 2:4. I asked what was meant by "enticing words" and was answered, Bellamy, Christian Science, Spiritualism, Ingersollism, etc. I asked who was talking, and was told Epaphras. That did not seem to please my brother-in-law very much, and he said he would like to hear from some one we had known in the flesh, so I asked if such an one were present, and was told, "Yes, Eastman" (a stranger to me, but my brother-in-law and his wife, who alone were present, were both acquainted with him). When asked what he wished to say he cited us to Titus 3:5, said the doctrine of THE STUDIES is true, and that his wealth had hindered him from gaining the prize of the high calling. 'I,' said Eastman, 'was not thought a very good Christian, though a member of the church.'
"The next day I tried the wheel, or Psychograph, again, and was told that a dear good friend of mine who had lived in speaking distance of me for several years was talking to me. She asked me to write to her husband and tell him that she said, a certain boy (giving name) was having a bad influence over their boy. She told me that my husband (who is in Florida) was hurt and was very lame, and I got a letter from him day before yesterday confirming it. She said she regretted that she had not given SCRIPTURE STUDIES the attention that I had wished her to, that she had life on the angelic plane; she also told me of the "mine." I asked did she know the one claiming to be Eastman, and she said yes, that it was a deceiving spirit personating him, and that I would best not make use of the means through which I could receive such communications. One claiming to be Cephas cited me to the first chapter of Daniel. Another, claiming to be my father, said in substance the same. All said the same about the gold "mine," and all professed to believe in Christ and that SCRIPTURE STUDIES are correct exponents of God's Word, and told me that I was failing to make the best use of one of my "gifts"—teaching; that I should teach publicly as well as individuals, but was cautioned with 1 Cor. 3:7 and Eph. 4:2.
"During the little time I experimented with the instrument I was told many things (a few of which were not true) that would take too much of your time to tell you; and several of the 'spirits' claimed that they would heal the sick through me, if I would only trust them. A great deal of Scripture was given, and all very appropriate to those for whom it was given; but the Devil quoted Scripture to Christ; and I still think the same as I did before "trying the spirits"—only I was not sure that fallen angels would admit, even for the purpose of deceiving, that Christ had "come in the flesh"; but it seems now they will. Probably 1 John 4:1-3 refers to doctrines of men wholly. Of course, it would be possible for those who shall have "part in the first resurrection" to speak through such a device, but is it probable that they will? I will be glad to hear from you on this subject."
[That passage has reference to men—doctrines among men. It may be remarked here that the evil spirits not only have knowledge of present events, but by some power can frequently closely approximate the future. In one instance under our notice two deaths within a year were foretold: one of the parties died, the other became seriously ill, but recovered. Some power is in Satan's hand, but with limitations. Compare Heb. 2:14; Psa. 97:10; 116:15 and Job 2:3-6.—EDITOR.]
"What experience I have had tends to confirm your teaching —that the communications are from the fallen angels. They are very unreliable. One can but feel how impossible it will be in these closing days of the Gospel Age for any one to "stand" who has not a firm foundation for faith." ———.
Here is an illustration of the insidious methods of these demons. Like Satan and the evil spirits of our Lord's day, they will confess Christ and the Truth. Similarly the woman "possessed" followed Paul and Silas several days saying truly (Acts 16:16-18), "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation." But for that matter, abundant evidence could be adduced that they would confirm and approve almost any doctrine or theory held precious by the inquirer in order to gain his confidence, and thus a fuller power over him.
Respecting the "mine"—that is a bait to draw and hold the interest. It is questionable whether the fallen angels can see deeper into the earth than can mankind. Of course, it might happen that gold in paying quantities might be found on any of the gold-bearing veins of Georgia, but the experiences of miners in general and of drillers for petroleum who have been "directed by the spirits," or who have used "divining rods," has been that, in the end, they lost money by following such directions. The presumption must therefore be that, if the "lying spirits" are not deceiving by misrepresenting themselves as possessing knowledge when they have none, then the same malevolence which leads them as "seducing spirits" to lure mankind to moral and mental wreck, leads them to take pleasure in misleading them to financial wreck. Lying spirits, like lying men, are not to be believed or trusted under any circumstances.
Concerning the advice to "teach": coming from such a quarter, it should rather incline us to fear that the demons saw in the lady a weakness in that direction from which she would be most easily assailable. It is safe to conclude in advance that their advice is either directly or indirectly intended to do us harm. And notice the cunning which sought to guard against suspicion by quoting texts cautioning to humility!
True, the people need instruction, and all instructors are "teachers"; but it is very unsafe for any one to think of himself or herself as a teacher. The preferable plan, by far, is for each to be a pupil in the school of Christ, the great Teacher, and to be ready to learn of Him through any channel, or to be used by Him in helping to make plain to others His teachings. Each one who learns anything of the Lord should tell it to others, not as his own wisdom and teaching, but the Lord's, and himself merely the channel which gladly passes the water of life on to others. No wonder the Holy Spirit cautions us, "Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we [teachers] shall have the greater judgment [or severer trial]."—James 3:1.
With the thought of teaching others is closely associated the thought of superior wisdom; and from the first this has been Satan's bait. To mother Eve his promise as the reward of disobedience was, "Ye shall be [wise] as gods." And the temptation to her was that she perceived from his arguments that the forbidden fruit was desirable "to make one wise." Alas, the wisdom which Satan gives is very undesirable! It is " earthly,  sensual,  devilish"; as many, too late, have discovered. But on the contrary, "the wisdom which cometh down from above is first pure, then  peaceable,  gentle,  easy to be entreated,  full of mercy and good fruits,  without partiality and without hypocrisy." (Jas. 3:15-17.) No wonder the inspired Apostle said, "I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve, by subtilty [cunning], so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity [purity] that is in Christ." (2 Cor. 11:3.) Let us therefore lose no opportunity for telling the "good tidings of great joy";—but let us lose sight of ourselves as teachers and point all, as brethren and fellow-pilgrims, to the words and example of the great Teacher and of the twelve inspired Apostles whom He appointed as our instructors, our teachers.
We advised the Sister further, that it was very unwise to disobey the Divine instructions (Isa. 8:19, 20) by having anything whatever to do with these "seducing spirits." These are not the spirits which we are to "try" "whether they be of God," for God has already forewarned us that they are not of Him, but that they are "wicked spirits." As well might we use the Apostle's words as an excuse for trying all the various brands of intoxicating spirits to see if one could be found which would not make drunk. These "familiar," wicked spirits, claim that they are numerous, a "legion" possessing one man. They would ask no more than that humanity should "try" them all. A fair trial, or "test," is just what they request and they succeed sooner or later in enslaving most of those who test them.
In the passage which says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God" (1 John 4:1-6), the word spirits is used in the sense of teaching, or doctrine, and has no reference to spirit beings. This is shown by the verses following, which declare that we are to "try" or discern between "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." And this may be quickly done, for all false doctrines either directly or indirectly deny that "Christ died for our sins"; that "the Man Christ Jesus gave Himself a Ransom for all."
Assuredly we should not expect that the Lord, nor any in harmony with Him, will ever make use of methods which the "lying spirits" use and which God in His Word has condemned and forbidden. To do so would expose God's people to all the "wiles of the Devil."
The Sister sent us an advertisement of the Psychograph which says:
"Do you wish to investigate Spiritualism? Do you wish to develop Mediumship? Do you desire to receive communications? The psychograph is an invaluable assistant. Many, who were not aware of their mediumistic gift, have, after a few sittings, been able to receive delightful messages. Many, who began with it as an amusing toy, found that the intelligence controlling it knew more than themselves, and became converts to Spiritualism."
Thus does Satan now make use of the belief common to all denominations of Christians as well as heathendom, that the dead are not dead but are angels hovering round us; and what is more calculated to "seduce" them than just such a toy?
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