Spiritism - Ancient and Modern
By the same mail came the samples of The Progressive Thinker, a Spiritualist organ of the most pronounced type. We examined it, having in view matter for this article, and to our surprise found that several of its leading articles freely conceded that the vast majority of the communicating spirits are evil spirits which seek influence over human beings in order to work their ruin; and if possible to get possession of them to make them crazy. It told of written communications dropped into a room signed "Beelzebub" and "Devil." In one column under the caption "A Critical Study of Obsession," was an account of a poor woman who had been so beset by evil spirits that she was sent to an Insane Asylum and who finally got rid of their torments; and it gives her statement, "I prayed them away." Asked, "To whom did you pray?" her recorded answer is, "To the Ever-living God. He only can answer prayer." And yet in another column God's name is blasphemed, under the caption, "Peter and Paul," from which we quote these words—"Moses, who though said to be learned in all the Egyptian skill, was the very meanest of men, and for his God erroneously took Jehovah, a departed spirit of an Egyptian disappointed aspirant to some lucrative or ecclesiastical office."
In the same issue, under the heading—"Thoughts Illustrating the Status of Spiritualism, and the Dangers that Beset the Honest Investigator," by Charles Dawbran, we have a notice of a book by an English clergyman, entitled "The Great Secret, or the Modern Mystery of Spiritualism." Introducing the author the article says:—
"His experiences commenced with the development of his wife as a writing medium, through whom, from time to time, he received such tests as delight the heart of the worshiper of phenomena. He also seems to have made the acquaintance of almost every public medium who has at any time been high priest or priestess of the Occult, to the worthy citizens of London. And he has apparently been a welcomed visitor to the homes and seances of every distinguished investigator or full-fledged believer in that city during the forty years of which he writes. He has included hypnotism in his investigations, and has been successful both as operator and subject. He has even dabbled a little in 'Black Magic,' at least sufficient to prove it a dread reality. So we have in this author a man most unusually qualified to deal intelligently with the subject. That he is now, and has for almost all these years been a believer is evident, for he narrates incidents and proofs which would carry conviction to every intelligent and unprejudiced mind. But his trouble has been that of every experienced investigator. He has not only witnessed much phenomena that could be explained as due to the normal or abnormal powers of the mortal, but where there has been an evident 'ghost' at work, mistakes, and at times evident fraud, have troubled his ecclesiastical soul.
"So we have little but the usual mixed experiences of the average intelligent investigator. A grain of wheat to a bushel of chaff is claimed by the Spiritualist as abundant compensation for the toil and trouble of long years of waiting upon the 'dear spirits.' And to some minds perhaps it is. But to others there have ever been fierce attempts to increase the crop of truth. And it is herein that the experiences of this clergyman become interesting to every truth-lover the world over. He, as we have said, has had abundant experience in both public and private seances, but his pathway to progress seemed blocked. He was just as liable to the usual imperfections of spirit intercourse after many years of such investigation, as in the very first sittings with his own wife and a few chosen friends.
"So the question became: 'Is progress possible?' And to solve this he tried an experiment which inspires the present writer to call this attention to his book. For as we have seen, the rest was what almost everybody can endorse, and say 'me too.' He determined to seek spirit intercourse from the highest plane possible to the mortal, so that if there be truth to the maxim 'like to like' he might attract the very highest, and repel those who come from the unseen to trouble and perplex weary mortals. He devoted a house to that purpose. Not merely were there rooms for use by mediums and circles of investigators or believers, but a chapel was prepared where he himself conducted a religious service twice a week, and it was at the conclusion of this service that a special seance was held by the believers present. The surroundings were most solemn. Frivolity was conspicuous only by its absence. The spirits had promised great results. For over a year at one time, and for months at others, these meetings were continued. But no promise was fulfilled. Prayers to God for light and truth proved no more efficacious than the eternal 'Nearer, my God, to thee' of the usual public seance, with its miscellaneous crowd.
"So our poor clergyman has his one grain of wheat after forty years of honest attempt to make at least a pint of it. He clings to that atom of truth with his whole soul, but his earnest attempt at progress has proved a life-long failure, although, apparently, every condition was favorable to success. Since such is the experience of the thousands, once zealous, who have become 'silent' believers from the same cause, we may well ask: Is modern Spiritualism fixed and bounded like the theological systems of the past and present? Is there no hope of solving its problems, overcoming its barriers, and reaching a higher manhood on this side of the life line? Is the honest and convinced investigator presently to become discouraged, almost as a matter of course?"
The claim made by Spiritists that good spirits commune with good people, and evil spirits with evil people is thus disproved. Could stronger testimony than this be produced in evidence that all spirit communications are from evil spirits and are wholly unreliable? The writer, further on in the same Spiritist journal, gives the following account of the experiences of another "believer," for which he vouches:—
"For a score of years he had been true to his convictions, endeavoring to reduce all belief to a basis of provable facts. His own sensitiveness permitted spirit approach, and sometimes the heavens had seemed to open to shower blessings on his soul. But foes came as readily as friends whenever the gate was ajar, so that, for the most part, safety compelled him to avoid personal experience of spirit return. The active mind offers poor foothold to any spirit, so he accepted public office and labored zealously for the public weal. But at intervals the experiences reappeared, and it seemed as if the battle had to be fought all over again. He failed to find a direct cause which might account for the presence of his foes. But they seemed to have certain gathering points. For instance, he could rarely visit a public library to select a book but that he would be followed and annoyed for hours by some 'invisible,' seeking to control him. It is true, each battle, when fought to victory, was usually followed by a brief and happy reunion with angel friends, but the sense of danger made him only the more earnest to close the door to all spirit return. His method of fighting off the influence was to resolutely fix his mind on some matter of interest in his daily affairs. And this would, sooner or later, prove successful every time. Any attempt to gain help from the spirit side of life only seemed to give added power to the foe."
This man had evidently progressed in Spiritism so that he had become a "clairaudient medium." The supposed good spirits or "angel friends" which sometimes visited him were merely the same evil spirits called by the writer "foes"; but they transformed themselves to his mind by assuming an opposite attitude when they found him getting away from their influence—to keep him from abandoning them altogether, and in hope that by and by they would get such an influence over him that escape would be impossible.
From the same journal, under the heading, "Incidents With Good Advice," after giving two cases of pronounced insanity, the direct result of "spirit control," we find the following advice:—
"The lesson I would draw is this: Never sit alone, if there is the least probability of the controls overcoming one's judgment. Even though their intentions may be good, as in Mr. B.'s case, yet their experience has been insufficient with regard to the management of mediums, and their operations may become very injudicious. Never permit a control to cause you to do that which your judgment cannot sanction, no matter under what promise it is given. Only evil-designing controls are liable to resort to such measures.
"These cases call to mind the thought that undoubtedly there are many others in the asylums, who are simply the victims of control. I could cite another case, where during her first confinement, a young woman was given chloroform and other treatment which weakened her system to such an extent that a degraded spirit took hold of her organism, and the language he made that previously moral girl use was deplorable. Under these conditions she was committed to the asylum, where she is at present and at last reports was, at times, able to control her body, and, of course, at those times she was considered 'rational' by the authorities.
"Let all Spiritualists be sure to caution persons who are beginning their investigation by sitting alone to be very careful—and to make a regular practice of reporting, so that those of experience may know what is taking place and advise accordingly. And further, let us make a practice of looking into all cases of so-called 'insanity' before they are sent to the asylums; perchance it may be a case like those I have cited."
A "strong delusion," an "energy of Satan" truly, Spiritism is, when people with all these evidences before them still return to it time and again, even after being injured—as do the once singed summer moths to the deadly glare that fascinates them. There is a dense darkness in the world today upon Divine Truth; and thinking people, when awakened from the stupor which has so long benumbed their reasoning faculties, as respects religion, cry out for "Light, more Light"; and if they do not get the true Light of the knowledge of God (which shines only for the honest and consecrated believer in the Ransom), they are ready for the false lights with which "the god of this world," Satan, seeks to ensnare all—Higher Criticism, otherwise called Agnosticism, or Spiritism, or Christian Science, or Theosophy. These, if it were possible, would deceive the "very elect"; and are well represented as being Satan's ministers transformed as angels of light.
Another popular Spiritualist paper is The Philosophical Journal. It continually urges that its gospel of Spiritism be tested, and declares it to be the one thing the world needs; and yet it also admits the frauds practised by the "spirits" upon mediums. It will admit that when detected as "evil spirits," "lying spirits," by misrepresentation, fraud, wicked suggestions or works, arousing the victim to resistance or relief through prayer, evidently the same spirits return as moralists, with reproofs, professions of sympathy and promises of aid in resisting the evil spirits, etc., only to improve the first opportunity of weakness or temptation to break down all resistance of the will and obtain complete possession—obsession. We clip a statement in support of this from one of its issues, signed by A. N. Waterman, one of the leading Spiritualist lights. Under the caption, "Real Authorship of Spirit Communications," he says:—
"It appears to me impossible that in this life we can know from whom a spiritual communication from the other world is made. We can have evidence, something like that which we possess in reference to the authorship of a telegram, but no more."
Would people of "sound mind" stake their all, risk an insanity which according to their own accounts is manifold worse in torture than ordinary dementia, and spend their lives trying to get other people to risk their all similarly, when for it all they have no more evidence than goes with a telegram? Would they do so when the bitter experiences of seventy years testing had told them that the genuine are at most only as "one grain to a bushel"?
No, no! Only desperately deluded people would pursue such a course. Evidently as the Holy Spirit in men produces "the spirit of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7; Prov. 2:6, 7), so, on the other hand, the spirit of devils produces the spirit of an unsound mind.
Another letter received from Florida, from a brother in Christ, well educated in several languages, informs us concerning some peculiar experiences recently had with these "seducing spirits." He became aware of the presence of invisible spirit beings, and they seemed to manifest a curious interest in his work: he was translating STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES into a foreign language.
Well informed along the Scriptural lines presented foregoing, as to who these "seducing spirits" are, he nevertheless forgot, or failed to heed the Divine instruction—that mankind should hold no communication whatever with these "lying spirits" and "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." The neglect of this instruction caused him serious trouble; and but for the interposition of Divine mercy, in response to his and our prayers, it might have made shipwreck of him—soul and body.
He was allured to the conference by a mixture of curiosity with a benevolent desire to do them good by preaching to them the glorious Gospel of Divine love and mercy operating through Christ toward all mankind: and the eventual hope of a judgment (probationary trial) for the fallen angels, declared in the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 6:3.) At first they gave close attention and appeared to take a deep and reverent interest in the message; but before long they became very "familiar" spirits, intruding themselves and their questions and remarks at all times and places, disputing with him and with each other in a manner and upon topics far from edifying, so that he remonstrated. Finally he demanded that they depart, but having gained his "inner ear" (having made of him what Spiritists would term a "clairaudient medium"), they were not disposed to go, and only through earnest prayer was he finally delivered. He should have been on his guard against their seductive influences; he should have remembered that whatever message of grace the Lord may yet have for these fallen angels he has not yet sent it to them, and that none are authorized to speak for the Lord without authority. "How shall they preach except they be sent?" The message of salvation thus far is to mankind only; and even here it is limited, for although all are to be counseled to repent of sin and to reform, yet the Gospel of Salvation is restricted to repentant "believers" only—"the meek of the earth."
Joseph Hartman has published a book of 378 pages in which he recounts his experiences as a Spirit-medium (led into it by Swedenborg's teachings), his debasement almost to the loss of reason by spirit obsession, and his final recovery from its ensnarement of his will; but strange to say, he is still a firm believer in Swedenborgianism and Spiritism, although, like others, he cautions every one to be on guard against their wicked devices. Poor deluded man, he still believes that some of these are "good spirits"!
Mr. H. had come in contact with the "Planchette," a wooden device which holds a pencil and moves readily under the hands of certain mediums or "sensitives," even children, writing answers to questions propounded to it; and he had attended several tipping and rapping seances, and was convinced that they were not frauds, but the operations of invisible, intelligent spirits. He became actively interested while endeavoring to convince doubting friends of the genuineness of the manifestations. Next he tried it in his own family and developed the fact that his little son was a drawing and writing medium. Next he was curious to investigate the phenomena of spirit materialization. About this time his daughter "Dolly" died, and he was deeply interested in the apparitions or materializations which professed to be "Dolly." He, however, was incredulous, and in his own words, "gave it up under a cloud, and a suspicion of fraud." But after five years of experience he says: "Whatever doubts I may have entertained respecting the phenomena, I am clearly of the opinion that "honest materializations are now of frequent occurrence. Who the forms are, or whence derived, is a mooted question." We have just seen that if the manifestations are "honest" so far as the mediumship is concerned, they are frauds so far as the persons represented are concerned—simulations of the dead, by the fallen angels.
Later the table-tipping and rapping and drawing and writing tests were revived at Mr. H.'s home, two of his children becoming adept mediums, and finally, he himself became a writing medium, to his own surprise and without expectation or solicitation. Now he could and did hold frequent converse, supposedly, with his daughter "Dolly," but really with demons who personated her, and others. He was caused to smell pleasant odors, etc. As a later development he became a speaking medium, and "under control" would speak and act without his own intention or volition; but with full power to refuse to be a medium to such "spirits" as he chose to refuse, because of their former rudeness or obscenity. Next he was granted the "inner ear," "Clairaudience," or ability to hear sounds not audible to others, and thus to hold converse with the "spirits" without any outward agency, as writing, rapping, planchettes, ouija boards, etc.
Of his "spirit friends" he says: "They described to me that their controlling circle consisted of 'twelve spiritual gifts or virtues' which composed a 'band' of very great strength; and under their guidance, they declared, I would become one of the greatest mediums ever known. I revolted—had not the least ambition for fame of that sort: they were the more determined."
Thus gradually was Mr. Hartman brought, against his wish, more and more under the "control" of the wicked spirits who finally obsessed him. The next experience was with a peculiar clairaudient "Voice" which represented itself to be the Lord, and took full control of him, directing his every act. It pictured all his errors and weaknesses in darkest shades; and endeavored to destroy all hope. He was told to pray, and when he attempted to pray he was given such conflicting suggestions as to words as made it impossible. He was fast in the snare of the "wicked spirits"; "possessed," and controlled by "spirit-mesmerism," as he calls it.
But finally he escaped their bondage;—a once strong will reasserted itself, and he wrote the account to hinder others from being similarly entrapped. But he does not understand the matter, notwithstanding his remarkable experiences. His experiences had proved that all the "spirits" which he had come in contact with were "wicked," lying, profane, and a majority of them vulgarly and disgustingly obscene; yet, believing these to be the spirits of dead men and women, he surmised that he had met a band of evil ones only, and that there were other bands of good, truthful and pure spirits of good people. If he had but known the Lord's testimony on this subject, it would have put the entire matter in another light.
After gaining will-control of himself he was still attended by these evil spirits whose character he now fully knew; and they tried repeatedly to bring his will power again under "control," but had no power that he would not grant. He did, however, grant them liberty to use his hand in writing communications, and in reply to his questions respecting how and why they had abused his confidence, lied to him, were obscene and sought to bind and injure him, they answered that they were constitutionally and thoroughly bad and that they were "devils"—again contradicting this and declaring that they were spirits of dead human beings. But to confirm him in Swedenborgianism they told him that there were no Swedenborgians among them. And Hartman evidently believed these self-confessed "lying spirits," for he concludes his book by quoting proofs that Swedenborg had passed through experiences of obsession somewhat like his own. He quotes from Swedenborg's Diary 2957-2996 as follows:—
"Very often when any one spoke with me, spirits spoke through me. … This occurred many times; for instance twice today. I cannot enumerate the times, they are so many. … Moreover, they have laughed through me, and done many things. … These are those who introduce these things into my thoughts, and while I am unconscious of it, lead my hand to write thus."
Hartman says of Swedenborg further:—
"It is a matter of history that Swedenborg's maligners, not understanding interior temptations or spirit control, published that he was crazy, and that he did several foolish and insane things while living in London. … He was under control of spirits who acted through his body, speaking through him and moving his body as if it were their own. … During a part of this transitional period he was unquestionably controlled by evil spirits. He says he had 'tremors and was shaken from head to foot, and thrown out of bed on his face.' … 'I was in the temptation,' he says, 'thoughts invaded me that I could not control, … and full liberty was given them. … While I had the most damnable thoughts, the worst that could possibly be, Jesus Christ was presented visibly before my internal sight.' "
Mr. Hartman comments:—"This we believe was an evil spirit pretending to be Christ, as in our own case the spirit pretended to be God."
To us it seems evident that Swedenborg was a spirit-medium and was an advance agent for promulgating and establishing the "doctrines of devils" respecting "seven heavens and seven hells," etc., etc., ad nauseam. Yet Mr. Hartman closes his book with a eulogy of Swedenborg, who, although admittedly possessed of devils at times, he thinks was sometimes possessed and controlled by good spirits; while Hartman's own experience corroborated the Scriptures, that they are all "wicked," "seducing," "lying" spirits.
In a pamphlet entitled, "The Nature of Insanity; Its Cause and Cure," by J. D. Rhymus, the author shows that in many cases insanity is merely demoniacal possession or "obsession." He says:
"In my own case I know that the brain was not diseased at all; my whole nature seemed to be intensified by conflicting emotions raging within my breast. I was completely enveloped and pervaded by thought, or in other words thought came as something impinged upon me, seeking expression through me, without being coined or generated by the action of my own brain, although fully conscious at the time, as I am now, that I possessed a strength within me not my own will and brain power so-called;—yet it was so blended with, and manifested through my own powers of action, that I felt great exhaustion of nerve force, mental prostration as the conditions subsided."
After detailing his own case and his release from the thraldom of evil spirits, whom he supposed to be the spirits of wicked dead men (apparently he also was a follower of Swedenborg), he quotes a letter from a Philadelphia physician, as follows:
"The young lady to whom you refer in your letter is a Miss S——, who was once my patient and quite intimate in my family. Her father was a sea captain, and was lost at sea, no one knowing when or where. Her anxiety to learn something of his fate, led her to apply to a spirit medium. She was found to be very 'susceptible' and a remarkable medium. She did nothing to encourage the approach of spirits; but they came all the same. They almost tormented the life out of her for a long time—how long I do not remember. They often made her get out of bed at night and perform all sorts of grotesque antics. She finally drove them off by repeating the Lord's Prayer on their every approach. Your sincere friend, ———."
The same writer says:—
"Judge Edmonds of New York [a noted Spiritist and both a Clairvoyant and Clairaudient medium—now deceased], has recently expressed the opinion that many so-called lunatics in asylums are only under the influence of spirits." The Judge himself said: 'Some fifteen cases of insanity, or rather obsession, I have been instrumental in curing. This I said to the Academy of Science, in New York.'
"The Judge has had Catholic priests, after a thorough trial of their 'holy water and prayers,' send [to him] their mediumistic members when wickedly disordered, to be demagnetized and released from the grasp of obsessional spirits."
Few are aware to what extent Spiritism is now active; how it is gradually reviving. Here is an account of Dr. Peebles' visit to Melbourne, Australia. He writes to a Philadelphia newspaper as follows:—
"Although I had come for a rest, I was immediately pressed into active service, and have been lecturing every Sunday evening either in the Masonic hall (which seats 1300) or the Lyceum (700), both of them being filled at times to overflowing. I have also spoken in the Unitarian and Swedenborgian churches, and the Australian (Presbyterian) church, on vegetarianism and other reform subjects.
"Several mediums speak about coming to Australia. Before leaving, let me tell you that the Melbourne press says there are already 500 mediums in the city and suburbs, while others say 200, but I see none who compare with Mrs. Freitag, and others. I cannot, conscientiously, encourage mediums to come to Australia, unless they are absolutely first-class test mediums. That's what the people clamor for—tests, tests, tests. Old bald headed Spiritualists, who had tests years ago, want them renewed, and so seek for tests instead of going on to a higher plane of harmony, beauty and spiritual truth, becoming their own mediums."
Yes; the tests—rapping, writing, table-tipping, and even materialization tests—are only the beginnings of Spiritism, and not the desired ends sought by the spirits. The end sought is possession, "obsession"; and those who by strong self-control constantly resist absolute spirit-control are used as "test mediums," to catch others, and to exhort others, as above, to go "on to a higher plane of harmony," with lying, seducing, enslaving and demonizing spirits.
An English journal called Black and White gave a detailed and illustrated account of apparitions in the town of Tilly-sur-Seulles, Normandy, France. It said that the apparitions were of the Virgin Mary and had continued for several months, and were thoroughly vouched for. It adds:—
"The appearances, which seldom or never resemble each other even to the same voyants, always either ascend from the earth, as in the case of those of the Witch of Endor, or appear gradually bit by bit, first a leg, then an arm, and so on, at a slight elevation. All this is very queer reading.
"The trampled field of oats, the elm tree stripped of its branches by relic-hunters, the torn hedge protected by barbed wire and decorated with statues, pictures, rosaries, pots of flowers and votive tapers, remain to testify to a belief in the supernatural not less strong than it was in mediaeval times."
Black and White, after quoting from the Croix du Calvados (the official organ of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese), that, "Although it cannot doubt the fact of the appearances, it is inclined more and more to attribute them to diabolic intervention," adds:—
"If anything, this is calculated to lend them still greater interest in the eyes of the world, which shows itself especially ready to dabble in Satanism, crystal-gazing, astrology, theosophy, spiritualism and magic, both black and white. The chief points in favor of this clerical decision seem to be that one Vintras, who lived in an old mill, still standing on the banks of the Seulles, below the older village of Tilly, prophesied these apparitions about the year '30. Vintras was condemned as a sorcerer and incarcerated at Caen by request of Pope Gregory XVI. He claimed to have been 'inspired' by the Archangel Michael. Curiously enough, another 'prophet,' claiming to be inspired by another Archangel—Gabriel, to wit—namely, Mlle. Cuedon, who made a stir in Paris, and whom a certain Abbe declared to be 'possessed' rather than 'inspired,' prophesied these same apparitions at Tilly a fortnight before they began."
Satan's motto seems to be, Anything to deceive and bewilder humanity and to hinder the truth now due to them from reaching them. From an English Spiritist journal Light, we quote a statement of a seance, as follows:
"At a sitting which was being held one evening at the invitation of a mother who had just lost a dearly loved son, amongst other phenomena a remarkable light was seen. It was in the form of a beautiful radiant globe, the center of which was a bright blue of great brilliancy. It was apparently an immeasurable distance away, the wall of the room offering no obstruction to those who watched it, and it remained for about half an hour, when it gradually faded from their sight.
"All present were filled with a sense of deep reverence and veneration. The control [i.e., the spirit controlling the medium] explained that this was indeed the Light of Christ, who, in verification of the belief which is now very generally held by Christians of every denomination, is gradually approaching this earth; and in fulfilment of His words, spoken nearly two thousand years ago, is coming to establish His Kingdom, the reign of universal love and brotherhood, amongst us.
"The control further said: 'Write thus to the editor of Light. Tell him that light is coming to all men. It grows brighter day by day. This light is the Light that should lighten all men that come into the world. Love is embodied in it. Truth is bringing it. Wisdom teaches it. Faith reveals it. Hope nourishes it. Justice craves for it. Glory attends it. Peace claims it. Power waits for it. This remarkable light is attended by hosts of angels; by dwellers in the spheres of the Blest; by mighty conquerors; by those whose sins, being scarlet, now shine radiant in this Light;—Perfected good, perfected man, perfected light.
"Beautiful angels surrounded the medium. The Light appeared behind her; but she was pleased to know that the greatest glory shone when she spoke of Christ's power. Although not herself viewing the greatest glory of the Light she saw it, far, far away, having a star-like radiance."
Just as at His first advent the evil spirits acknowledged Jesus, saying, "We know Thee, who Thou art"; "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God?" and as they testified of the Apostles: "These be the servants of the Most High God which show unto us the way of eternal life"; so today, as we have seen, some of them will testify occasionally to the Truth, commend STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, etc.; but it is safe to assume that it is all for a purpose, as a "bait" for those who are interested or seeking light along these lines, to eventually lead them off into some gross darkness. Let us constantly remember that these deceptions will become so bold, and be apparently so backed by advanced truth that they will, "if it were possible, deceive the very elect."—Matt. 24:24-26.
Under such circumstances there is but one safe course. It is not to stand still with closed eyes, panic-stricken: that will be impossible, very soon. It is to fully accept Christ Jesus the Redeemer, the Ransomer of the race, as your Savior and your Teacher, and to be controlled only by His Spirit of Truth expressed to man through His Word—the Bible. So doing you will be kept by the power of God from all the snares of the wicked one; for the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that [obediently] believeth."
To what great dangers the people of Christendom are exposed we may judge when we remember that nearly all are laboring under the delusion of Satan, first enunciated to Mother Eve in Eden—to her deception and fall. He then said, "Ye shall not surely die." He has kept up his side of the controversy since then, and the majority of God's people believe Satan's statement and disbelieve the Lord's Word;—holding that no one really dies, but that when death apparently takes place the person is thereby made "more alive than ever." Believing that none are really dead, we cannot wonder that Christendom totally rejects the Bible doctrine that the only hope for a future life rests in God's promise of a "resurrection of the DEAD," and makes nonsense of it by claiming that it is merely a resurrection of the body that died—which the Apostle declares will never be resurrected—but a new body be substituted when the soul, the being is resurrected.—1 Cor. 15:12-18 and 36-38.
In evidence of the dangers along this line we note the fact that The Ram's Horn, a radical orthodox journal of Chicago, published on its outside cover a colored engraving representing a Christian mother with clasped hands, praying beside a little grave decorated with flowers, while just before her is shown the shadowy outline of her child approaching her. The editor of The Ram's Horn and his readers are like all other nominal Christians who neglect the teachings of God's Word on this subject — just ready for Satan's delusions to ensnare them.
Note also the following, clipped from The Philosophical Journal (Spiritualist). Under the caption "Progressive Thought," the editor quotes from Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage as follows:
"Even Talmage progressed from the old faith, and believed in the return of the spirit to this world of ours after death. He preached a sermon at Washington on the 'Celestial World,' showing the employment of 'the departed' in that state of existence. In answer to the question: 'What are the departed doing now?' he said: 'That question is more easily answered than you might suppose,' and added:
" 'Their hand has forgotten its cunning, but the spirit has faculties as far superior to four fingers and a thumb as the supernatural is superior to the human. The reason that God took away their eye and their hand and their brain, was that He might give them something more limber, more wieldy, more skillful, more multipliant.'
"Dr. Talmage said that the spirits, freed from the material body, are 'more limber, more skillful,' and 'are at their old business yet,' but with vastly improved faculties. He argued it thus:—
" 'Have you any idea that that affluence of faculty at death collapsed and perished? Why so, when there is more for them to look at, and they have keener appreciation of the beautiful, and they stand amid the very looms where the sunsets and the rainbows and the spring mornings are woven.
" 'Are you so obtuse as to suppose that because the painter drops his easel and the sculptor his chisel, and the engraver his knife, that therefore that taste, which he was enlarging or intensifying for forty or fifty years, is entirely obliterated?
" 'These artists, or friends of art, on earth worked in coarse material and with imperfect brain and with frail hand. Now they have carried their art into larger liberties and into wider circumferences.
" 'They are at their old business yet, but without the fatigues, without the limitations, without the hindrances of the terrestrial studio.'
"In answer to the question as to what the physicians are doing, since they passed to 'the beyond,' he said they are busy at their old business, and added:
" 'No sickness in heaven, but plenty of sickness on earth, plenty of wounds in the different parts of God's dominion to be healed and to be medicated. Those glorious souls are coming down, not in lazy doctor's gig, but with lightning locomotion.
" 'You cannot understand why that patient got well after all the skillful doctors had said he must die. Perhaps Abercrombie touched him. I should not wonder if he had been back again to see some of his old patients. Those who had their joy in healing the sickness and the woes of earth, gone up to heaven are come forth again for benignant medicament'
"Then he propounded another question, as to what all the departed are doing now—who in earth-life were 'busy, and found their chief joy in doing good.' He replied: 'They are going right on with the work—John Howard visiting dungeons; the dead women of Northern and Southern battlefields still abroad looking for the wounded; George Peabody still watching the poor; Thomas Clarkson still looking after the enslaved—all of those who did good on earth, busier since death than before. The tombstone is not the terminus, but the starting-post.'
"He then concluded with this very emphatic language:—
" 'To show you that your departed friends are more alive than they ever were; to make you homesick for heaven; to give you an enlarged view of the glories to be revealed, I have preached this sermon.'
"Without the slightest doubt, then, Dr. DeWitt Talmage was a Spiritualist. He did not claim that cognomen, but he taught the grand tenets of our philosophy and admitted the consequent phenomena of the return of the spirit to visit mortals—spirit physicians to touch those given up to die by mortal physicians, and to heal them—to visit those in dungeons in order to relieve their distress—to watch the poor—to look after the enslaved—and in this work to be 'busier since death than before!'
"If 'the departed are more alive than they ever were'—as Dr. Talmage affirmed in his closing remarks—then it is evident that he was correct in saying that 'the tombstone is not the terminus, but the starting-post'—the 'door' to the higher life, the entrance to the state of endless labor, grand possibilities, and eternal progression.
"If Dr. Talmage thought more of these grand truths than of his clerical standing, he would have frankly avowed himself a Spiritualist.
"All the churches are rapidly becoming permeated with Spiritual philosophy, and soon must either add to their structural confession these grand and inspiring verities, or sink into oblivion in the twentieth century, when the cycle of evolution shall be completely rounded out."
Who can deny the logic of the Spiritualist editor in claiming Dr. Talmage as a Spiritualist, who refrained from fully acknowledging his identity? Who can doubt that the hundreds of thousands who read that discourse in the many journals which published Dr. Talmage's discourses regularly, accepted every item of its poisonous, unscriptural suggestion as gospel; because in full accord with what they had been taught from other pulpits, and especially at funeral services? Alas! the millions of Christendom are ready, ripe, for the evil work of these seducing spirits, and are accepting it.
Note the following hand-bill announcement of Spiritist performances and tests, given at Muskegon, Michigan. It is in display type and illustrated etchings showing shadowy forms, etc.—and was sent to us through the Lord's providence just in time for a notice here. It reads thus:—
"Opera House, under the auspices of the Religio-Philosophical Society of Boston, Mass.
"Spirit materializations, marvelous superhuman visions, Spiritualistic rappings, slate writing, floating tables and chairs, remarkable tests of the human mind, a human being isolated from surrounding objects floating in mid air. Behold the marvels of today! Reflect on the one great question of the hour: Is there a spirit land? and what is the destiny of man? Do you want to be convinced that there is a hereafter? Do you believe in immortality? Do you believe in a soul world? or do you believe that death ends all?
"Dr. Loyd Cooke, preeminently peer of spirit mediums, assisted by a number of mediums of note, on the open stage, will produce some of the most wonderful materializations ever witnessed in this country.
"The following are some of the tests that usually take place in the presence of these mediums: A table rises 4 to 5 feet and floats in mid-air. Spirit hands and faces are plainly seen and recognized by their friends. A guitar is played and passed around the room by the invisible power. Flowers are brought and passed to the audience by hands plainly seen. Bells are rung, harps are played, and other tests of a startling nature take place in the presence of these wonderful mediums, if the conditions are strictly complied with.
"A night of wonderful manifestations! The veil drawn so that all may have an insight into the spirit world and behold many things that are strange and startling.
"The clergy, the press, learned synods and councils, sage philosophers and scientists; in fact, the whole world, has proclaimed these philosophical idealisms to be an astounding fact. You are brought face to face with the spirits. A large piano is played upon without a living soul touching it. And many spirit forms upon the stage—sometimes eight or ten at a time—are proof positive of the genuineness of these mediums. They have been three years developing for the special purpose of demonstrating the facts of spirit power in full gas light!
"The invisible powers are constantly producing new and startling manifestations to convert the skeptical and strengthen the believer. Come and see for yourself. Take no one's word. Investigate and believe your own eyes. Be guided by your own reason. Believe nothing you hear! Every man and woman has a right to see and think.
"Many ask: 'Is there any truth in Spiritualism?' If you should attend this seance with these new mediums, you would never doubt again that the spirits do re-visit the earth, and can be seen and recognized by their friends. They will stand beside you and shake hands with any one who will ask them. Remember, this seance is not like others you have attended. The forms seen here are not afraid of you, but will come so close to you that you cannot doubt their identity, and will satisfy you that they are not flesh of this earth. No one who has ever attended these seances can doubt the genuineness of these mediums. Remember, these are newly developed mediums, just arrived at this place, and are recognized by all that have seen them to have the most powerful circle that has ever been brought to this country. Not in darkness, but in open light. You feel their touch. You see their disembodied forms. In plain, open light! Every possible means will be used to enlighten the auditors as to whether these so called wonders are enacted through the aid of spirits or are the result of natural agencies.
"Committees will be selected by the audience to assist, and to report their views as to the why and wherefore of the many very strange things that will be shown during the evening. This is done so that every person attending may learn the truth regarding the tests, whether they are genuine or caused by expert trickery. Doors open at 7.15. Commences at 8. A small admission will be charged."
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