FOR over one hundred years Spiritualism has been before the world. This surely is time enough to enable it to show its character by its fruits. "By their fruits ye shall know them," is a rule that admits of no exceptions. If evil fruits appear, the tree is corrupt.
Spiritualism has made unbounded promises of good. It has claimed to be the long-promised second coming of Christ; the opening of a new era among mankind; the rosy portal of a golden age, when all men should be reformed, evil disappear, and the renovation of society cause the hearts of men to leap for joy, and the earth to blossom as the rose.
Has it fulfilled all, or any, of these promises? If not, is it not a deception? and if a deception, considering its wide-spread influence, and the number of its adherents, is it not one of the most gigantic and appalling deceptions that has ever fallen upon Christendom? The Bible in the plainest terms, declares that in the last days malign influences will be let loose upon the world; false pretensions will be urged upon the minds of men; and deceptions, backed up by preternatural signs and wonders, will develop to such a degree of strength, that, if it were possible, they would deceive the very elect.
Is it possible that Spiritualism may be the very development of evil, against which this warning is directed?
To investigate these questions, and to show by unimpeachable testimony, what Spiritualism is, and the place it holds among the psychological movements of the present day, is the object of these pages. Not a few books have been written against Spiritualism; but most of them endeavor to account for it on the ground of human jugglery and imposture, or on natural principles, the discovery of a new and heretofore occult force in nature, etc., from which great things may be expected in the future. But rarely has any one discussed it from the standpoint of prophecy, and the testimony of the Scriptures, the only point of view, as we believe, from which its true origin, nature, and tendency, can be ascertained.
Many features in the work of Spiritualism would seem to indicate that the source from which it springs is far from good; but it is based upon a church dogma, firmly established through all Christendom, which in many minds is of sufficient weight to overbalance considerations that would otherwise be considered ample grounds for shunning or renouncing it. It is therefore the more necessary that the reader, in examining this question, should let the bonds that have heretofore bound him to preconceived opinions, sit loose upon him, and that he should put himself in the mood of Dr. Channing when he said: "I must choose to receive the truth, no matter how it bears upon myself, and must follow it no matter where it leads, from what party it severs me, or to what party it allies." And he should remember also, as the eminent and pious Dr. Vinet once sagaciously observed, that "even now, after eighteen centuries of Christianity, we are very probably involved in some enormous error, of which Christianity will, in some future time, make us ashamed."
In view, therefore, of the importance of this question, and the tremendous issues that hang on the decisions we may make in these perilous times, we feel justified even in adjuring the reader to canvass this subject with an inflexible determination to learn the truth, and then to follow it wherever it may lead.