Spiritism - Ancient and Modern
Finding that Churchianity is popular, and a certain amount of formalism demanded by the people they seek to ensnare, Spiritists are organizing "churches" for the "worship" and "praise" of the "All Good"—the name they use instead of God. But since advanced Spiritists do not believe in a personal God this name merely represents to them — all good spirits, among whom they reckon Thomas Paine, Shakespeare, Judas and Nero, as well as Christ, Confucius and Buddha. In these "churches"—"Spiritualist," "Theosophical," and "Christian Scientist," all of the same cult, and all guided (unknown to many of their votaries) by the same master spirit—Satan—the preachers and evangelists are generally women: in marked contrast (whatever the explanation) with the course pursued by the true Head of the one and only true Church, our Lord Jesus, who appointed twelve Apostles and seventy evangelists, all of them men.
The newspapers gave an account of a Spiritist baptism service, at the "First Church of Spiritualists," Pittsburgh, by Mrs. Ida Whitlock, of Boston, as follows:—
"When the babies' parents and godmothers had been assembled, deacons of the church brought out a long flower-decked rope, which they tied about the participants in the ceremony. Mrs. Whitlock gave each baby a small bunch of carnations, handing them from a silver bowl. Having completed this ceremony, Mrs. Whitlock took another silver bowl, and, advancing to each baby, she dipped into the bowl a rose and sprinkled the faces of those to be baptized, saying as she did so, 'I, Ida Whitlock, by a power commissioned to me, do baptize thee, Anna Marie Klotz, in the name of the All Good.'"
The power commissioned to Mrs. Whitlock was certainly not from the Father, nor from the Son, nor by the Holy Spirit; and we feel confident it was from the one who backs all the tests and tricks and lies and obsessions — "Your Adversary the Devil." — 1 Pet. 5:8.
A Mr. Thori of St. Paul, Minn., once sent us the card of a Dr. Snyder of that city, who styled himself a Christian Spiritualist and claimed that he and others there held regular seances in which the Lord as a spirit being showed Himself to their mortal eyes. He said that about forty persons there had seen these manifestations. Three of them received "the communion" direct from the Lord's hand. The card received bore sixteen texts from the Bible, among which were the following:—
"God is a spirit."
"I am the light of the world."
"He that keepeth My commandments, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."—John 14:21.
In large type at the head of the card were these words:—
"HAVE YOU SEEN THE LORD? IF NOT, WHY NOT?"
This Mr. Thori remarked that the Doctor appeared to be very pious, and professed faith in the Ransom and in restitution. The incident at once reminded Mr. Thori of the statement of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Vol. II, page 158, which reads as follows:—
"Among other such things some of them even teach that Christ is present, and we doubt not ere long they will give seances at which they will claim to show Him 'in the secret chamber.'" (Matt. 24:26.) Then Mr. T. called the Doctor's attention to this Scripture and this application of it; but he was so enamored by the seducing spirits that he could make no application of it to his own experiences. He declared that it referred to such preposterous frauds as Schweinfurth.
Here we see more of Satan's policy: he works one fraud against another. A few weak-minded people are deluded into thinking and claiming that they are "some great one"—Christs, etc.—and by hypnotic powers deluding a few into their "heavens," thus disgust more sensible people, who, believing that these frauds fulfil the scope of our Lord's warning, are off guard against the much more subtle deceptions of Spiritism which draw nearer and nearer daily.
Then again, true to his character as a deceiver, Satan begins all such performances with the outwardly devout. He puts a bait on his hook when he fishes for men. It will be found that self-willed Christians, no matter what their morals or faith, will be subject to snares of the great enemy. The full submission of the will to the will of God as expressed in His Word is absolutely necessary to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
We will no doubt surprise some when we state that to our understanding "Christian Science," "Theosophy," "Mesmerism," "Clairvoyance" and "Hypnotism," as well as "Swedenborgianism," are all related to Spiritism, and designed by the "seducing spirits" to enthral and "pass along" the various classes of man-kind who are now awakening out of mental lethargy; and to blind their eyes to the truth respecting the Lord and His Word.—2 Cor. 4:4.
"Christian Science," by its attractive but deceptive name, no less than by its lying proposition that there is no pain, no sickness, no death, no sin, no devil, no Savior—nor need of any—by the very absurdity of its claims attracts the curious; and by its seeming harmlessness and "good works" ensnares the unguarded and uninstructed, who do not know "the depths of Satan." (Rev. 2:24.) Their processes for treatment of "imagined" diseases seem harmless, but are their cures therefore less of the demons and more of God than those of Spiritualists? While a pure faith in the first principles of the doctrines of Christ is not to be accepted as instead of good morals, the latter are nevertheless to be considered as concomitants to every manifestation of Divine favor and power. All, therefore, who deny our Lord Jesus as the Redeemer of mankind "who gave His life a Ransom-price for many," are not of God, and their "wonderful works," whether good or bad, are not to be credited to Divine power.
It may be questioned by some whether Satan and his associates can be charged on the one hand with causing sickness and death (Heb. 2:14), and on the other hand with healing the sick and casting out devils. Would not this seem to be an opposition to his own kingdom not supposable of any intelligent being? "If Satan cast out Satan he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?"—Matt. 12:25, 26; Mark 3:24-26.
Very true; and this shows to what straits "the prince of this world" is reduced by the great increase of intelligence shining in upon the world during the past century. The demons must sham to be "angels of light," teachers of advanced truths and good physicians, both of souls and bodies, in order to reënsnare those who are feeling after God, if haply they might find Him. (Acts 17:27.) The words of inspiration give us to understand that Satan's struggles to retain control of mankind will be specially desperate at its close—before he is "bound" for the thousand years that he may deceive the nations no more.—Rev. 20:1.
Here will be one of the "strong delusions" mentioned by the Apostle Paul, to cope with which God's people will have need of "the whole armor of God" that they "may be able to stand in this evil day." (2 Thess. 2:9-12; Eph. 6:11-13.) We are now in the period of which he cautions us to be specially on guard against "seducing spirits and doctrines of devils," (1 Tim. 4:1.) Here the Apostle Peter tells us to "beware lest ye also being led away [seduced] by the error of the wicked [one] fall from your own steadfastness." (2 Pet. 3:17.) Hence the Lord tells us to watch and pray to escape the delusions which will be so strong as to "deceive if it were possible the very elect." (Matt. 24:24.) Shall we, in view of these warnings, expect no "strong delusions," deceptions from the wicked spirits? Nay; we expect far more during the next few years than even Spiritists have dreamed of hitherto.
But if Satan and his faithful have a knowledge of curative agencies and skill in their application let us not forget that he has great malific power also. This has already been demonstrated. Take the case of Jannes and Jambres, the celebrated mediums and magicians of Egypt, who in the presence of Pharaoh duplicated many of the miracles performed by Divine power through Moses and Aaron. They could transform their rods into serpents; they also turned water into blood; they also produced frogs, although they could not duplicate the plagues of lice, etc.—Exod. 7:11, 22; 8:7.
We have every reason to believe that the fallen spirits have learned considerable during the past four thousand years and that they have a much wider range of power today. We are inclined to believe that the grasshopper plagues and the multitudinous farmer-pests and the spores and microbes of disease that are afflicting human and animal life in recent times, may be manifestations of the same power for evil. Similarly Satan is "the prince of the power of the air," and is malevolent enough to exercise his powers to the extent of Divine permission. This might account in part for the great floods, cyclones and tornadoes of recent years.
But surely such forces of nature are not left in the charge of demons? some one inquires.
Not entirely—most assuredly not; otherwise we may doubt if the world would be at all habitable. Take the case of Job: as soon as Divine restraints upon Satan were released, he moved the Sabeans to steal Job's cattle and to kill his servants; he caused fire to come down from heaven, which not only killed but burned up Job's flocks of sheep; he sent the Chaldeans who stole Job's camels, and finally produced a cyclone which smote the house in which Job's children were feasting together, and destroyed the house and killed its occupants; and he attacked Job's person with disease as soon as granted permission.—Job 1:9-2:7.
There is no question that Satan and his legions are as able and as willing as ever to do all the mischief that Divine Wisdom may see fit to permit them to do. It only remains, therefore, to notice that God has not only foretold that He will permit them to have great power in the end of this Age, but also why He does so. He tells us that He is about to "pour out His indignation, even all His fierce anger," upon the world of mankind, as a chastisement for sin and for a correction toward righteousness; to humble mankind and to prepare them for the blessings of the Millennial Kingdom. All are familiar with the plagues foretold in the book of Revelation to be poured upon the world in the end and judgment of this Age. Of these the plagues upon Egypt were illustrations—even though these "last" plagues be described in symbols. But let us always remember God's care over His people to preserve them from every calamity which would not under Divine supervision work out for them some valuable lesson or experience; and let us remember that He is able and willing to overrule the wrath of men and of devils and to restrain the remainder that would hinder His grand purposes.
The following words of Rev. A. B. Simpson some years ago are quite to the point:—
"The healing of diseases is also said to follow the practices of Spiritualism, and Animal Magnetism, Clairvoyance, etc. We will not deny that while some of the manifestations of Spiritualism are undoubted frauds, there are many that are unquestionably supernatural, and are produced by forces for which Physical Science has no explanation. It is no use to try to meet this terrific monster of Spiritualism, in which, as Joseph Cook says, is, perhaps, the great IF of our immediate future in England and America, with the hasty and shallow denial of the facts, or their explanation as tricks of legerdemain. They are often undoubtedly real and superhuman. They are 'the spirits of devils working miracles,' gathering men for Armageddon. They are the revived forces of the Egyptian magicians, the Grecian oracles, the Roman haruspices, the Indian medicine-men. They are not divine, they are less than omnipotent, but they are more than human. Our Lord has expressly warned us of them, and told us to test them, not by their power, but by their fruits, their holiness, humility and homage to the name of Jesus and the Word of God; and their very existence renders it the more imperative that we should be able to present against them—like the rod of Moses which swallowed the magicians', and at last silenced their limited power—the living forces of a holy Christianity."
In conclusion let Spiritual Israel hear the Word of the Lord to fleshly Israel:—
"When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after THE ABOMINATIONS OF THOSE NATIONS. There shall not be found among you any one that … USETH DIVINATION, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord; and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee."—Deut. 18:9-12.
"When they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and mutter: Should not a people SEEK UNTO THEIR GOD? on behalf of the LIVING should they seek unto the DEAD? To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."—Isa. 8:19, 20.
The Scriptures expressly show that the fallen spirits would be held under restraint for a long time, and that those restraints would gradually be relaxed in the closing of this Gospel Age, in the lapping of the Millennial Age. The record is that they were "restrained [in Tartarus, our atmosphere] in lasting chains of darkness unto the Judgment of the Great Day." (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4.) As now the "Great Day" is here, it is not surprising to watchers to note that the chains are being gradually loosened, and that these "wicked spirits" have greater liberties than ever before.
There is still danger to those who "don't believe in spirits," and who regard as superstitious the Bible narratives of how our Lord and the Apostles cast out demons, and how all wizards, witches, necromancers and others who proposed to hold intercourse with the dead were strictly prohibited in Israel. There is more danger to the self-confident, who "dare investigate anything," and who boast "a mind of their own," than to the humbler ones who say, "Let us fear to tamper with what God has forbidden." To many of the boldly self-confident curiosity is the demons' trap. Before they are aware of it they are snared. The beginning of the trap is a bait to curiosity—a visit to a "medium," "a seance" with friends, or a "planchette" or an "ouija board" at a neighbor's home.
The Scriptures forewarn us that we are no match intellectually for the wicked spirits, and need to give heed to the protections afforded us in the counsels of the Lord's Word. In the end of the Jewish Age many were afflicted with evil spirits, and a considerable part of our Lord's work and of His representatives was referred to by the Seventy when reporting to our Lord—"Even the demons are subject unto us in Thy name." (Luke 10:17.) So prominent is this matter in the four Gospels that they contain forty-two references to these demons—mistranslated "devils" in our Common Version.
The Apostle points out that in the end of this Age the Lord will "send," or permit to come, upon Christendom, "strong delusions," that they may believe a lie—that they all may be condemned. (2 Thess. 2:11, 12.) Thank God, we see clearly that they will not be condemned to everlasting torture. Oh, no! That blasphemous misrepresentation of God's Word is one of the devices of these "wicked spirits," by which they would drive men away from God, by which they would blind them to His real character. But we are now in the close of the "Harvest," and the wheat must be separated from the tares, and these "strong delusions" will be permitted to demonstrate who have loved and obeyed the Lord's counsel and who, not doing this, are to be adjudged unworthy of the high rewards soon to be given to the "overcomers."
The context shows this, declaring in so many words that the "delusions" will ensnare them because "they received not the truth in the love of it!" The "truth" is that the dead are dead, and cannot re-live except by Divine power exercised for their awakening from this death-sleep. This plain truth, so abundantly set forth in the Scriptures, is not relished by any except the truth-hungry. Others tell us that they do not like to believe thus; that they prefer to think of the dead as not being dead, but more alive than ever. Rejecting the plain truth as God presented it, and preferring Satan's lie, "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4), these are easy marks for the demons who are constantly striving to perpetuate the lie which deceived Mother Eve in Eden. They will now be permitted to personate the dead so successfully as to be a "strong delusion," which "if it were possible [if the Lord did not protect them by the 'armor of God'] would deceive the very elect."—Matt. 24:24.
Spiritism cunningly feigns, for a time, that its manifestations are the exercise of human powers. Thus it gains access to the hearts of men and women who dread demonism instinctively. Gradually, however, it comes to be conceded that the spirits are at the bottom of these powers, which are at least partially "occult." For years we have been almost alone in opposing hypnotism, telepathy, etc., as Spiritism in a new form; but now no less a celebrity than Professor J. H. Hyslop, formerly "Teacher of Logic and Ethics" in Columbia University, and a leading light in The American Society for Psychical Research, conceded that spirits have to do with such matters—not demons, but in his supposition "spirits of dead humans."
Professor Hyslop was quoted in the New York American thus:—
"Telepathy is not a matter of thought waves. The solution is so simple as to be astounding. Messages are carried from mind to mind by the spirits. Mediumistic qualities are necessary, but, possessed of these and able to get in touch with the spirit world, telepathy should become as easy of accomplishment as the telegraphing of a message with wires.
"None but scientists should tamper with the weird phenomena of nature represented by telepathy," said Dr. Hyslop. "Every investigation should be made sanely and every experiment approached with a mind clear, impartial and prepared to weigh and balance every fact as carefully as though it were a precious gem.
"Our experiments in telepathy I regard as convincing if not wholly satisfactory in number or in the ability to repeat them at will.
"In these experiments we used Mrs. Piper, who was sent to England in care of the British Society. She was allowed to come into contact with no one not in league with the persons making the experiments. We began our experiments in long distance telepathy in the hope of eventually getting a message across the Atlantic, but failed time after time.
"Finally we scored a success. It was as remarkable as it was unexpected. The message was sent across the ocean in a way to demonstrate perfectly the possibilities of long distance telepathy. The experiment was conducted in a manner to eliminate any trace of fraud or deception. It was sent in English and delivered in Latin."
In an article over his own signature in the New York World, Professor Hyslop said:
"That there would be great difficulties in communicating, if spirits actually exist, would naturally be taken for granted by intelligent people. The silence of so many discarnate spirits through the ages, if they exist, would be sufficient proof of that fact, as well as what we know of the difficulty of communications between living people, when they have no common language as a means of it. But there happen to be additional reasons for this difficulty, and they should be mentioned in order that the layman (we ought not to mention it to the scientist) may see and appreciate the reasons why the communications take the form which they show. The first of these is the abnormal mental and physical condition of the medium, specifically to illustrate, as in the case of Mrs. Piper. But this is not the chief reason that the communications are trivial and confused, or lacking in the kind of information wanted. The reason for these characteristics is deeper still. It is that the communicator is himself in an abnormal mental condition while communicating. It may be compared to a delirious dream, or to certain types of secondary personality in the living, or even to the trance of Mrs. Piper, in some of its aspects."
Rev. I. K. Funk, D.D., of New York City, the widely known Lutheran minister, had some thrilling experiences with spirits and published them to the world, asserting, however, what even Spiritualists will admit, that some of the so-called manifestations are frauds; that others are by deceiving or "lying spirits." His investigations, like those of Professor Hyslop, show the trend of our times, and give a hint of what we may expect when shortly the whole world will turn to the investigation of Spiritism as "the only proof that the dead are not dead."
"Discussing psychical science in an address tonight before the American Institute for Scientific Research in the home of C. Griswold Bourne, the Rev. R. Heber Newton made the assertion that the spirits of the dead communicate with the living; that telepathy is a power possessed by many men and women, and that clairvoyance is an established scientific fact. Said he in part: 'Clairvoyance was nothing but a will o' the wisp, but it is now a confessed power of certain organizations. Mollie Fancher, over in Brooklyn, has proved stronger than the incredulity of our savants. The belief in the existence of unseen spirits and of their power of communication with us in the flesh is one of the oldest, most widespread and most insistent beliefs of man, and it has revived strangely in our day.
" 'For the first time in the history of man these powers have been scientifically investigated in our day. Already the result is that a considerable number of eminent men of science have had the courage to avow that, after allowing for illusion, fraud and every possible hypothesis of interpretation, they have been driven up to the ultimate solution of the problem—the belief in the actual communication of the spirits of those whom we call dead with the living.
" 'Anyone who walks with his eyes open, ready to hear what men have to tell, will find stories pouring in upon him from men whom he cannot mistrust as liars, and whom he knows to be sane and sensible, which will stagger him. These experiences are not at all confined to the seance and the medium. Their most impressive forms occur in the privacy of the home without a professional medium present.'" — Pittsburgh Gazette.
It does not surprise us that Spiritism, like Christian Science, is aiming for the influential. Whatever else the fallen angels may be they are "wily," cunning. The Lord's people, on the contrary, number "not many wise, not many great, not many learned, not many rich, not many noble, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith."—Jas. 2:5.
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