Chapter 5 - What the Spirits Teach
IT has been shown in the preceding chapters that the unseen "controls" (the beings who control the mediums) in Spiritualism, are not the spirits of the dead, but are fallen angels or spirits of devils. This fact will be confirmed by a brief glance at some of their teachings; for we are to remember that if they speak not according to the law and the testimony there is no light in them. It matters not that what they teach may be supported by signs and wonders beyond the comprehension of the human mind. That is no guarantee of truth; for such phenomena are to be wrought, as will soon be shown, to prove a lie. The Lord anciently put his people on their guard in this respect. Deut. 13: 1-3, 5: "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, . . . out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in."
Thus the fact that one who professed to be a prophet could perform a sign or wonder, showing his connection with some unseen power, was not enough to shield him from condemnation and punishment, if what he undertook to prove by that sign or wonder was contrary to the truth, and tended to lead away from God. The teaching of any system is an important part of the fruit it bears; and by: that, according to our Lord''s own rule, we are to judge it, and not by any power or mighty works connected with it, however wonderful they may be.
"''Tis not the broad phylactery
Nor stubborn fasts, nor stated prayers
That make us saints. We judge the tree
By what it bears."
-- Alice Carey.
It is therefore pertinent to look sufficiently at the teachings of the spirits to ascertain their character. . Here we shall find some most damaging testimony; for --
1. They Deny God.-- It is no pleasure to transcribe the utterances of practical atheism; yet enough should be given to show what they teach on the great fundamental principles of Christianity. At a séance, reported in the Banner of Light, July 11, 1868, the following questions were addressed to the spirits, and the accompanying answers received: --
"Ques.-- It is said in the Bible that man is made in the image of God. Please tell us what that image is,"Ans.-- He is made in the image of everything that ever was, that is, or that ever shall be. He holds within his caliber everything that exists, that ever has existed, or that ever will exist. Now, God is included in this. If he exists at all, he exists everywhere (and we have taken in everything), every place, every name, every condition. I believe that the human stands above all things else, and holds within its embrace all the past, present, and future. In this sense he is created and exists in the image of God.
Q. --What is God essentially?
"A.-- Everything. Essentially you are God, and I am God -- the flowers, the grass, the pebbles, the stars, the moon, the sun, everything is God."
The Devil, through the serpent in the garden, taught Adam and Eve that the soul is immortal, and has transfused the same idea very successfully through paganism, Romanism, and Protestantism; but he also said, "Ye shall be as gods;" and now, it seems, he is trying to make the world swallow his other leg of his falsehood; but by putting it forth under the form of the old pagan pantheism, that everything is God, and God is everything, he betrays the lie he uttered in Eden; for in that case, Adam and Eve were no more gods after they ate than they were before.
Another séance, reported in the Banner about twenty years later than the one quoted above, April 28, 1888; an inquirer addressed to the "spirits" a question about God, and received answer, a portion of which is presented below: --
"Ques.-- Some Spiritualists, I learn, believe in a God; otherwise they would not pray to him -- taking for granted that there is such a being. Please enlighten us.
"Ans.-- We have yet to come in contact with a thorough Spiritualist, one who understands something of spiritual life and the revelations made by returning spirits, who directly believes in a personal God. True, many Spiritualists and many returning spirits offer their invocations to the ''Great Supreme Spirit of all life and intelligence,'' not because they expect to change the order of law, or to come into direct communication with, or nearness to, a Great Supreme Being, clothed in the image of man, but because they desire to enter an atmosphere of harmony, to uplift their own souls to a plane of thought which will bring spiritual inspiration to their minds. We make a distinction between that Great Supreme Overruling Force which we may call the Superior Spirit of Intelligence, Wisdom, and Love, and the personal Deity, clothed in the image of man, gigantic in stature, jealous and revengeful by nature, which has been set up and worshiped as the Christian Jehovah. We know of no Spiritualist--let us repeat it--who believes in such a personal God; but we can believe and accept the idea, though it may pass beyond almost our finite comprehension, that there is a grand universal Spirit permeating all forms of existence; that this great source of light, of activity and vitality vibrates with intelligence, and that it is superior to all organic forms, however grand they may prove to be."
The same views have been taught all along by the "spirits" of Spiritualism, as could be shown by extracts dating as far back as 1858, only ten years after the "Rochester Knockings." And though Spiritualism is now assuming more of the sedate speech of organized Christianity, the spirits do not modify their teaching in respect to God. In "Automatic, or Spirit, Writing," p. 148 (1896), are given many messages from the spirits through the mediumsbip of Mrs. S. A. Underwood, wife of the editor of the Philosophical Journal, Chicago. The " spirits" set forth their teaching in answer to questions by the medium, some of which have reference to God, though his name is not used. Thus on page 148, this conversation is given: --
"Ques.-- You often in these communications speak of the binding laws of spiritual life--that because of them you cannot give us such and such information, etc. Now who makes those laws, and whence came they, and how are they taught?
"Ans.-- Thou say''st ''who''-- therefore we cannot answer. Go back to the first question and ask one at a time.
"Q.--Well, who makes the laws?
"A.-- Spirits are not bondaged by persons.
"Q.-- Then how do you come to know those laws?
"A.-- Pharos will now answer. Spiritual laws are spiritually perceived, as soon as the physical perceptions are got rid of.
"Q.-- Could you explain to us those laws?
"A.-- Courses of teaching from our side are as necessary for you to understand even the rudimentary laws of Being, as courses in your colleges; and guessed-at spirit knowledge from your bounded view must always fail in accurate wording."
It will be perceived that the answers to these questions are, from the beginning, evasive; but the real idea entertained clearly shines through the thin veil drawn over to conceal it. The questions pertain to the source, or authorship, of the "laws of spiritual life;" and this would generally be understood to be God. But on a technicality the spirits refuse to answer. The question is made plainer, and the answer is that "spirits are not bondaged by persons;" that is to say that spirits have nothing to do with personalities, and that no personal being has anything to do with those laws. There is therefore no God who formulates and promulgates them. No wonder the question followed, how they came to know these laws; and it was a very convenient answer that we will know when we get there and have lost all physical perceptions. A desire for some explanation of those laws is met with the not very satisfactory information that they (the spirits) would have to give those in our sphere a course of teaching, like a college course, before we could understand even the rudimentary laws of Being. The only thing clear in all this is that there is no God; at least no personal God such as the Bible reveals. To the "grand whole," whatever that may be, they give the name of the "All of Being." In answer to a question concerning "personalities," they are called "atoms emanating from the same source -- parts of the great All of Being, partaking of the general characteristics of the grand whole." -- Page 14.9.
Reader, how does all this compare in your own mind with the God of the Bible, the Creator of all things, the loving Father of us all, who has for his creatures more tender regard and pity than a father can feel for his own children, whose very name and nature is Love, and who has purposed infinite good for all men, and will carry it out unless they, as free moral agents, by their own sin, prevent his doing for them what he desires to do? The Bible is not responsible for the aspersions cast upon God by a false theology, which misrepresent his character and give occasion for the charges of vindictiveness and vengeance and awful tyranny, so freely made by fallen angels and wicked men. They do not belong to him who is the source of all goodness and mercy; and we would labor to bring those who have perverted views of God back to a right conception of the great Friend of sinners, as he has revealed himself in his holy word.
2. They Deny Jesus Christ.-- Christ is revealed as the divine Son of the Father; and to deny that he was or is any more than any other man is surely to deny him; and the scripture says that "whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." 1 John 2: 23. The following is what the "spirits" began to teach in the earliest stages of Spiritualism concerning Christ: --
"What is the meaning of the word Christ?--''T is not, as generally supposed, the Son of the Creator of all things. Any just and perfect being is Christ. The crucifixion of Christ is nothing more than the crucifixion of the spirit, which all have to contend with before becoming perfect and righteous. The miraculous conception of Christ is merely a fabulous tale." -- Spiritual Telegraph, No. 37.
How fully does this declaration that any good man is Christ open the way for the fulfilment of the Saviour''s prophecy that in the last days many false Christs and false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. See Matt. 24: 24. A prospectus of the Truth Seeker contained these words: "It shall be the organ through which the christs of the last dispensation will choose to speak."
A little later, July 19, 1862, there was published in the Banner of Light a lecture on Spiritualism by Mrs. C. L. V. Hatch, in which she spoke of Christ as follows: --
"Of Jesus of Nazareth, personally, we have but little to say. Certain it is, we find sufficient that is divine in his life and teachings, without professing to believe in the fables of theologians respecting his birth and parentage. We are content to take the simple record as it stands, and to regard him as the son of Joseph and Mary, endowed with such purity and harmony of character as fitted him to be the Apostle and Revelator of the highest wisdom ever taught to man. It is the fundamental article in the creed of modern Christianity, that Jesus was divine in his nature, and of miraculous origin and nativity. Now, no human being of ordinary intelligence, unwarped by educational bias, would ever profess to believe in such a monstrous figment, which only shows the blindness of superstitious prejudice."
Here is something twenty-four years later. A séance reported in the Banner of Light, Oct. 9, 1886, gives the following questions and answer: --
"Ques.-- Do ''spirits'' generally believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ; that he was the Son of God; that he was crucified, dead, and buried, and rose again the third day for the saving of all who should believe in him?
"Ans.-- No; spirits generally -- advanced spirits, those who are intelligent, having studied deeply into the principles of life -- do not accept the theory of the divinity of Jesus Christ; they do not believe that he was crucified for mankind, in the accepted understanding of that term."
Some years ago a class was formed in New York City for the purpose of investigating what is called the spiritual philosophy. Before that class, Dr. Weisse said: --
"Friend Orton seems to make rather light of the communications from spirits concerning Christ. It seems, nevertheless, that all the testimony received from advanced spirits only shows that Christ was a medium and reformer in Judea; that he now is an advanced spirit in the sixth sphere; but that he never claimed to be God, and does not at present. I have had two communications to that effect. I have also read some that Dr. Hare had. If I am wrong in my views of the Bible, I should like to know it, for the spirits and mediums do not contradict me."
The peculiar insult here purposely offered to the Saviour will be appreciated when it is noted that at about the same time the spirits located Thomas Paine, the well-known skeptic, in the seventh sphere, one sphere above that of Christ. He must therefore have progressed very rapidly, seeing he so quickly surpassed Christ, who had over 1700 years the start of him.
Before the same class Dr. Hare is reported to have spoken as follows, which we give without assuming any responsibility for the spiritual grammar therein exhibited: --
"He said that he had been thus protected from deception by the spirits of Washington and Franklin, and that they had brought Jesus Christ to him, with whom he had also communicated. He had first repelled him as an impostor; but became convinced afterward that it was really him. He related that he had learned from that high and holy spirit, that he was not the character that Christendom had represented him to be, and not responsible for the errors connected with his name, but that he was, while on earth, a medium of high and extraordinary powers, and that it was solely through his mediumistic capabilities that he attained so great knowledge, and was enabled to practice such apparent wonders."
When Christ was upon earth, it was envy, jealousy, and malice that moved the Pharisees against him (Matt 27: 18); and it seems that he is followed by the same feelings in the spirit world. This is natural; for he who fired the hearts of the Pharisees with their malignant spirit, is the same one, as we have seen, who is working through the powers of darkness in the unseen world to-day. Any way to degrade Christ in the minds of men to a level with, or below, the mediums of our time, and make it appear that they can do as great wonders as he, seems to be the object in view.
There is plainly manifest an irrepressible desire on the part of spirits and mediums to show Christ to be inferior to the leaders of other great religions of the world, as Buddha, Confucius, Zoroaster, etc. Thus, at a séance held in 1864 (Banner of Light, June 4), the spirits were questioned as follows: --
"Ques.-- Have you ever seen Confucius or Zoroaster?
"Ans.-- Yes, many times.
Q.-- In the order of degree, which stands the higher in moral excellence --Jesus Christ, Confucius, or Zoroaster?
"A.-- Confucius stands in morality higher than the other two. . . . Jesus himself claims to have been inspired to a large extent, by this same Confucius. And if we are to place reliance upon the records concerning each individual, we shall find that Jesus spoke the truth when he tolls us that he was inspired by Confucius."
Indeed! Where are the records referred to? Where and when did Jesus "speak" the words attributed to him? And where does he tell us ,that he was inspired by Confucius? So we are to believe, are we, that the gospel of Jesus Christ, is only a rehash of what was originally wrought out in the brain of Confucius, and not words fresh from the fountain of light given him by his Father in heaven, to speak, as he claimed them to be? Yet he was a high and holy medium. We wonder what standard of holiness and perfection the spirits can have.
But still later, in 1896, we find the spirits putting forth the same teaching in reference to Jesus Christ. In "Automatic, or Spirit Writing," pp. 148, 149, we have this: --
"Ques.-- Do you accept Jesus as the model of spiritual knowledge?
"Ans.-- Shall you give us a better example?
"Q. --Well, we are willing to accept him as one of many, but not as chief.
"A.--Change the name. Call him by other names-- Buddha, Krishna, or Mohammed, the spirit is one -- is ever and ever the same. Spirit is one, not many, however often the name is changed.
"Q.-- Were not Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed distinct personalities?
"A.-- No more than all atoms emanating from the same source -- parts of the great All of Being, partaking of the general characteristics of the grand whole--but yielding to environments, showed marked individualism, such as the force of the times in which they appeared would create in their characters.
"Q.-- Are these leaders of religious thought not distinct individualities now?
"A.-- No, not on spiritual planes, which do not recognize any now."
Thus they persist in denying that Jesus holds any pre-eminent position as a religious teacher. He may as well be called Buddha, Krishna, or Mohammed as Jesus. They are all the same spirit, all atoms of the great "All of Being," all as much alike as three drops of water from the same ocean, and what is more bewildering still, they have now all lost their individuality in the spirit world. How, then, can it be told that Christ is in the sixth sphere, and Paine in the seventh? Such teachers, though they may claim to be good spirits, are branded as antichrist by both John and Jude. John says: "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2: 22. Again, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God." 1 John 4: 3. According to the spirits, Jesus Christ has no more come in the flesh than have Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Zoroaster, or any other religious teacher. They all simply yielded to their environments, and showed marked individualism while on this earth, and have now become absorbed in the "great whole" in the spirit world. Thus, as Jude says (verse 4), they deny "the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."
So much for their denial of Christ in his person. They also deny him in his offices; for to deny and ridicule what he came to do, is one of the most effectual ways of denying him. The great work of Christ was the shedding of his blood to atone for the sins of the world; and the spirits are particularly bitter in denouncing that idea. If such sentiments were uttered only by open and professed scoffers, it would not do so much harm; but it is not unusual to find those bearing the title of "Reverend" descanting on these themes in a manner to show themselves antichrist, according to the definition of that term by John. And even this need not surprise us; for the sure word of prophecy has foretold that some who have once held the true faith will depart therefrom to give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. 1 Tim. 4: 1.
One R. P. Wilson, to whose name is attached the ministerial title, in his lectures on "Spiritual Science," said: --
"Although as a believer in true spiritual philosophy, we cannot receive the orthodox views of salvation, yet we recognize the birth of a Saviour and Redeemer into the universal hearts of humanity, wherein truly the deity is incarnate, dwelling in the interior of man''s spirit. We believe that each soul of man is born with his or her Saviour within them; for as man is an embodiment of the universe in epitome, he contains in his central nature an incarnation of deity. The germ of immortal unfoldings resides within the spirit of it, which needs only appropriate conditions to call forth the expanding and elevating powers of the soul."
In "Spiritual Science Demonstrated," p. 229, Dr. Hare said: --
"Since my spirit sister''s translation to the spheres, she has risen from the fifth to the sixth sphere. It has been alleged by her that her ascent was retarded by her belief in the atonement."
A "spirit" calling himself Deacon John Norton, as reported in the Banner of Light, said: --
"I used to believe in the atonement; I honestly believed that Christ died to save the world, and that by and through his death all must be saved if saved at all. Now I see that this is folly -- it cannot be so. The light through Christ, the Holy One, shone in darkness; the darkness could not comprehend it; and thus it crucified the body, and Christ died a martyr. He was not called in that way, that by the shedding of his blood, the vast multitude coming after him should find salvation. Everything in nature proves this false. They tell me here that Christ was the most perfect man of his time. I am told here also that he is worthy to be worshiped, because of his goodness; and where man finds goodness he may worship. God''s face is seen in the violet, and man may well worship this tiny flower."
In the pantheism of Spiritualism, every object in nature, the tiny flower, the pebbles, the trees, the birds and bees, are worthy to be worshiped as much as Christ. In one breath the spirits extol him as a most perfect man, pre-eminent in goodness and worthy to be worshiped, and in the next, place him in a position which would make him the greatest fraud and impostor that ever lived. Such inconsistencies show that Christ is a miracle which evil men and evil angels know not how to dispose of.
As they deny Christ, they must, logically, deny the doctrine of his second coming. This doctrine is made of especial importance and prominence in the New Testament. The nature of that coming, its manner, and the circumstances attending it are so fully described, that no one who adopts the Bible view can possibly be deceived by false christs. But the church and the world have been turned away from the true doctrine of the second advent, and the way is thus prepared for the great deceptions of the last days. Spiritualism is one of these, and claims that it is itself that second coming. Joel Tiffany, a former celebrated teacher of Spiritualism, has said: --
"I must look for the coming of my Lord in my own affection. He must come in the clouds of my spiritual heavens, or he cannot come for any benefit to me."
And through Mrs. Conant, a famous medium of the early days of Spiritualism, the controlling spirit said: --
"This second coming of Christ means simply the second coming of truths that are not themselves new, that have always existed. . . . He said, ''When I come again, I shall not be known to you.'' Spiritualism is that second coming of Christ."--Banner of Light, Nov. 18, 1865.
But the Bible description of this event is, the revelation of the Lord himself in the clouds of heaven in the glory of the Father, the reverberating shout of triumph, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God, the flash of his presence like that of the lightning, the wailing of the tribes of the earth, as they thus behold him, while unprepared to meet him, and the resurrection of the righteous dead. And where and when have these inseparable accompaniments of that event been seen? They do not occur when a person is converted from sin, nor do they occur in time dying chamber, nor have they occurred in Spiritualism; and until they do take place, the second coming of Christ is not accomplished.
Many seek to dispose of such testimony as this, by making it all figurative, or meeting it with a bold denial, as in the case of the resurrection of the body. And the way has been too well prepared for this condition of things, by much of the teaching of popular orthodoxy, which turns the early records of the Bible into childish allegory, perverts the true doctrine of the coming and kingdom of Christ, and denies the resurrection of the dead, by destroying its necessity through the immortality of the soul. On the vital point of the resurrection, Dr. Clarke makes this noteworthy remark: --
"One remark I cannot help making,-- The doctrine of the resurrection appears to have been thought of much more consequence among the primitive Christians than it is now! How is this?-- The apostles were continually insisting on it, and exciting the followers of God to diligence, obedience, and cheerfulness through it. And their successors in the present day seldom mention it! So the apostles preached, and so the primitive Christians believed; so we preach and so our hearers believe. There is not a doctrine in the gospel on which more stress is laid; and there is not a doctrine in the present system of preaching which is treated with more neglect."-- On 1 Corinthians 15 (original edition).
In view of the way the Bible has been treated by its professed friends, it is no wonder that infidelity prevails, and Spiritualism prospers.
3. They Deny the Bible.-- The denial of God and Christ, as set forth above is, of course, a denial of the Bible; and not much need therefore be added on this point. We quote only a few representative utterances. Doctor Hare ("Spiritual Science Demonstrated," p. 209) says:--
"The Old Testament does not impart a knowledge of immortality, without which religion were worthless. The notions derived from the gospels are vague, disgusting, inaccurate, and difficult to believe."
As to the Old Testament, it would seem doubtful whether Mr. Hare ever read far enough to find (1) Job exclaiming: "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another; though my reins be consumed within me" (or, as the margin reads: "My reins within me are consumed with earnest desire [for that day];" or (2) David: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness;" or (3) Isaiah: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust;" or (4) Ezekiel: "Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves;" or (5) Daniel: "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt;" and (6) Hosea: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death." Job 19: 25-27; Ps. 17: 15; Isa. 26: 19; Eze. 37: 12; Dan. 12: 2; Hosea 13: 14. And as for the New Testament, it is no doubt "disgusting" to many Spiritualists to read that "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death;" and that without the city "are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." Rev. 21:8; 22:15.
Communications from spirits are offered in place of the Bible as a better source of instruction, the Bible being denounced, as above quoted, as "vague, inaccurate, and difficult to believe." A brief comparison of the two will furnish pertinent evidence on this point. Take, on the Bible side, for example, a portion of the record of creation (Gen. 1: 1-5): --
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."
The facts stated in this record, the profoundest minds can never comprehend; the language in which they are expressed, a little child can understand. The statements are plain and simple, a perfect model of perspicuous narrative. Place by the side of this an account of the same event as given us from the "spheres." The spirits have undertaken to produce a new Bible, beginning, like the old, with the creation; and this is the way it starts out, through the medinmship of "Rev." T. L. Harris:--
"1. In the beginning God, the Life in God, the Lord in God, the Holy Procedure, inhabited the dome, which, burning in magnificence primeval, and revolving in prismatic and undulatory spiral, appeared, and was the pavilion of the Spirit: In glory inexhaustible and inconceivable, in movement spherical, unfolded in harmonious procedure disclosive.
"2. And God said, Let good be manifest! and good unfolded and moral-mental germs, ovariums of heavens, descended from the Procedure. And the dome of disclosive magnificence was heaven, and the expanded glory beneath was the germ of creation. And the divine Procedure inbreathed upon the disclosure, and the disclosure became the universe."
We will inflict no more of this "undulatory spiral" nonsense on the reader. He now has both records before him, and can judge for himself which is the more worthy of his regard. There have been Spiritualists who, writing in their normal state, and not yet fully divorced from the influence of their former education, have acknowledged the authenticity of the Bible, and the doctrines of Jesus as recorded in the gospels. But these, it is claimed, are to be understood according to a spiritual meaning which underlies the letter; and this spiritual meaning generally turns out to be contrary to the letter, which is a virtual denial of the record itself. But the quotations here given (only a specimen of the multitudes that might be presented) are given on the authority of the "spirits," whose teachings are what we wish to ascertain.
THEY DENY ALL DISTINCTION BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG
There is implanted in the hearts of men by nature, a sense of right and a sense of wrong. Even those who know not God, nor Christ, nor the gospel, possess this power of discrimination. This is what Paul, in Rom. 2: 15 calls "the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another." That this distinction should now be denied by a class in a civilized community, professing to be advanced thinkers and teachers, among whom are found the learned, the refined, and the professedly pious, shows that we have fallen upon strange times. To be sure, many of them talk fluently of the beauty and perfection of divine laws; but in the sense in which they would have them understood, they rob them of all characteristics of law. The first great essential of law is authority; but this they take away from it; the next is penalty for its violation; but this they deny, and thus degrade the law to a mere piece of advice. The "Healing of the Nations," an authoritative work among Spiritualists, pp. 163, 164, says: --
"Thus thy body needs no laws, having been in its creation supplied with all that could be necessary for its government. Thy spirit is above all laws, and above all essences which flow therein. God created thy spirit from within his own, and surely the Creator of law is above it; the Creator of essences must be above all essence created. Amid if thou hast what may be or might be termed laws, they are always subservient to thy spirit. Good men need no laws, and laws will do bad or ignorant men no good. If a man be above law, he should never be governed by it. If he be below, what good can dead, dry words do him?
"True knowledge removeth all laws from power by placing the spirit of man above it."
A correspondent of the Telegraph said of this work, "The Healing of the Nations:
"According to its teaching, no place is found in the universe for divine wrath and vengeance. All are alike and forever the object of God''s love, pity, and tender care -- the difference between the two extremes of human character on earth, being as a mere atom when compared with perfect wisdom."
This is a favorite comparison with them,-- that the difference between God and the best of men is so much greater than the extremes of character among men,-- the most upright and the most wicked, -- that the latter is a mere atom, and not accounted of in God''s sight. That there is an infinite difference between God and the best of men, is all true; for God is infinite in all his attributes, and man is very imperfect at the best. But to argue from this that God is inferior to man, so that he cannot discern difference in character here, even as man can plainly discern it, seems but mad-house reasoning. What would we think of the man who had the same regard for the thief as for the honest man, for the murderer as for the philanthropist? To ignore such distinctions as even men are able to discern would destroy the stability of all human governments; what then would be the effect on the divine government? God has given his law -- holy, just, and good -- to men, and commanded obedience. He has attached the penalty to disobedience: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," "The wages of sin is death." Eze. 18: 20; Rom. 6: 23. And in the judgment, the distinction God makes in character will be plainly declared; for he will set the righteous on his right hand, but the wicked on the left. Matt. 25: 32, 33.
This view of the failure of law, and the absence of all human accountability, naturally leads to a bold denial of sin and the existence of crime. The "Healing of the Nations," p. 169, says: "Unto God there is no error; all is comparatively good." The same work says that God views error as "undeveloped good." A. J. Davis ("Nature of Divine Revelation," p. 521) says: "Sin, indeed, in the common acceptation of that term, does not really exist."
A discourse from J. S. Loveland, once a minister, reported in the Banner of Light, contained this paragraph: --
"With God there is no crime; with man there is. Crime does not displease God, but it does man. God is in the darkest crime, as in the highest possible holiness. He is equally pleased in either case. Both harmonize equally with his attributes--they are only different sides of the same Deity."
In "Automatic Writing" (1896), p. 139, a question was asked concerning evil, meaning sin and crimes among men. The spirit answered that these were conditions of progress, and were so necessary to elevation that they were to be welcomed, not hated. The questions and answers are as follows: --
"Ques.-- Can you give us any information in regard to the so-called Devil--once so firmly believed in?
"Ans.-- Devil is a word used to conjure with.
"Q.-- Well, then, as the word itself doubtless arose from the word ''evil,'' which means to us unhappiness, can you give us an explanation of tile existence of evil
"A.-- Evil--as you who are the greatest sufferers from it, name one of the conditions of progress--is as necessary, aye, more so, than what you call good, to your and our elevation to higher spheres. It is not to be hated, but welcomed. It is the winnowing of the grain from the chaff. Children of truth, don''t worry over what to you seems evil; soon you will be of us and will understand, and be rejoiced that what you call evil persists and works as leaven in the great work of mind versus matter.
" Q.-- But it seems to us impossible that brutal crimes like murder, assassinations, or great catastrophes, by which the innocent are made to suffer at the hands of malicious and cruel persons, should work for ultimate good?
"A.-- Percipients of the grand whole of Being can understand but may not state to those on your plane, the underlying good making itself asserted even through such dreadful manifestations of human imperfections as the crimes you name.
"When asked why certain wrongs were allowed to be perpetuated, this answer was given: --
"There is a law of psychical essence which makes necessary all these ephemeral entanglements which to you seem so severe, and you will yet see from your own standpoint of reason why such hardships must be endured by questioning souls on the highway of progress.
"Q.-- But do you from your vantage ground of larger knowledge grow careless that such injustice is done?
"A.-- We do care, but cannot remedy.
"Q.-- --Why can''t you remedy?
"A.-- Because humanity is but an embryo of existence.
"Q.-- If you can perceive the trials and sorrows of mortals, and can interfere to save them, why do you not more often do so?
"A.-- When undeveloped souls pay the price of development, we stand aloof, and let the play go on. Interference will do no good."
In view of such a confession, what becomes of the many claims put forth by other spirits that they are ever hovering near their friends to assist amid guard them, to help and inspire them, and keep them from evil and danger? These say that those terrible crimes (and this would include all crimes) are all necessary, that they are tending to develop souls, and bring them to higher spheres, and thus are just as laudable as good actions; so they settle back in a gleeful mood, and "let the play go on;" let wicked men cultivate and develop and practice their evil propensities, and the innocent suffer. Well may men pray to be delivered from such a spirit assembly as that.
In "Healing of the Nations," p. 402, Dr. Hare says: --
That anything should, even for an instant, be contrary to his will, is inconsistent with his foresight and omnipotency. It would be a miracle that anything counter to his will should exist."
A lecture on the "Philosophy of Reform," given by A. J. Davis, in New York City, bears testimony to the same effect: --
"In the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, it is affirmed that sin is the transgression of the law. But by an examination of nature, the true and only Bible, it will be seen that this statement is erroneous. It gives a wrong idea of both man and law. . . . It will be found impossible for man to transgress a law of God."
Thus they very illogically assume that if God has the will or the power to prevent evil, it could not exist, and therefore, if there is such a God, he is responsible, forgetting that God is long-suffering, and bears long with vessels of wrath fitted, for destruction, before they pass beyond the limits of his mercy and perish. But Mr. Davis says further: --
"Reformers need to understand that war is as natural to one stage of human development as peace is natural to another. My brother has the spirit of revenge. Shall I call him a demon? Is not his spirit natural to his condition War is not evil or repulsive except to a man of peace. Who made the non-resistant? Polygamy is as natural to one stage of development as oranges are natural to the South. Shall I grow indignant, and because I am a monogamist, condemn my kinsman of yore? Who made him? Who made me? We both came up under the confluence of social and political circumstances; and we both represent our conditions and our teachers. The doctrine of blame and praise is natural only to an unphilosophical condition of mind. The spirit of complaint -- of attributing ''evil'' to this and that plane of society --is natural; but is natural only to undeveloped minds. It is a profanation sort of atheism of which I would not be guilty."
The Bible says, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness." Isa. 5 20. And it makes another declaration which finds abundant confirmation in the sentiments quoted above: "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the Sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Eccl. 8: 11.
Having thus attempted to destroy in the minds of men all distinction between good and evil, all being alike in God''s sight, and all equally good, they try to make the way a little broader and easier for men to give full rein to all the propensities and inclinations of an evil heart, by teaching that there is no Lawgiver and Judge before whom men must appear to give an account of their deeds, but that they are responsible to themselves alone, and must give account only to their own natures. Thus Hon. J. B. Hall, in a lecture reported in the Banner of Light, Feb. 6, 1864, said: --
"I believe that man is amenable to no law not written upon his own nature, no matter by whom given By his own nature he must be tried -- by his own acts he must stand or fall. True, man must give an account to God for all his deeds; but how?-- Solely by giving account to his own nature--to himself."
At a séance reported in the Banner of Light, May 28, 1864, the following question was proposed, and the answer was by the communicating spirit: --
"Ques.-- To whom or to what is the soul accountable?
"Ans.-- To no Deity outside the realm of its own being, certainly; to no God which is a creation of fancy; to no Deity who dwells in a far-off heaven, and sits upon a white throne; to no Jesus of Nazareth; to no patron saint; to no personality; to no principle outside our own individual selves."
The "Healing of the Nations," p. 74, says: --
"Man is his own saviour, his own redeemer. He is his own judge--in his own scales weighed."
A little over twenty years after the birth of Spiritualism, Aug. 25, 1868, the Fifth National Convention of Spiritualists was held in Corinthian hall, Rochester, N. Y., at which a formal "Declaration of Principles" was set forth. From time seventh and eighth paragraphs, under principle 20, we quote the following: --
"Seventh, To stimulate the mind to the largest investigation . . . that we may be qualified to judge for ourselves what is right and true: Eighth, To deliver from all bondage to authority whether vested in creed, book or church, except that of received truth."
This is the same principle of man''s responsibility to no one but himself, authoritatively adopted. What a picture have we now before us! Destroy man''s belief in, and reverence for, God and Christ, as they do; lead him to ridicule the atonement, the only remedy for sin; make him disbelieve the Bible; take away from his mind all distinction between right and wrong, and assure him that he is accountable to no one but himself; and how better could one prepare the way to turn men into demons. All this the spirits, by their teaching, seek to do. And can any one fail to foresee the result? Comparatively a small proportion of the inhabitants of this country have committed themselves to these views; consequently but little of the legitimate fruit as yet appears; but take human nature as it is and suppose all the inhabitants of this land to act on these principles, and then what would we have? -- A pandemonium, a scene of anarchy, riot, bloodshed, and all depths of rottenness and corruption -- in short, a world where no place and no human being would be safe.
That this statement is none too strong, will appear as we look a moment at some of the results which have already developed themselves among the friends of such views, and as their inevitable fruit. The tendency can by no possibility be otherwise than to atheism amid all immorality. As has been already remarked, the repulsive features were made much more prominent in the early stages of Spiritualism than at the present time. They are now held in the background. The literature touching these points has been remodeled, and an air of respectability and religion assumed. Most of the quotations therefore date some years back, and would be charitably withheld were there any evidence of reform either present or prospective. But where or when have these principles ever been officially repudiated, and evidence given that the consequent practices had been abandoned? That there are many Spiritualists of upright and moral lives, and honorable members of society, in the best sense of that term, we gladly believe; but is not this because they are living above their principles; and due, not to the influence, but rather to the non-influence of real Spiritualism upon their lives? The quotations given are from those who have been prominent among Spiritualists as authors and speakers. If they overdraw the picture, the responsibility is with them. Dr. B. P. Randolph, author of a work "Dealings with the Dead," was eight years a medium, then renounced Spiritualism long enough to expose its character, then returned to it again, unable to break entirely away from the spell it has fastened upon him. He gives his opinion of it in the following scathing words:--
"I enter the arena as the champion of common sense, against what in my soul I believe to be the most tremendous enemy of God, morals, and religion, that ever found foothold on the earth -- the most seductive, hence the most dangerous, form of sensualism that ever cursed a nation, age, or people. I was a medium about eight years. during which time I made three thousand speeches and traveled over several different countries, proclaiming its new gospel. I now regret that so much excellent breath was wasted, and that my health of mind and body was well nigh ruined. I have only begun to regain both since I totally abandoned it, and to-day had rather see the cholera in my house, than be a spiritual medium.
"As a trance speaker, I became widely known; and now aver that during the ''entire eight years of my mediumship, I firmly and sacredly confess that I had not the control of my own mind, as I now have, one twentieth of the time; and before man and high heaven I most solemnly declare that I do not now believe that during the whole eight years. I was sane for thirty-six consecutive hours, in consequence of the trance and the susceptibility thereto.
"For seven years I held daily intercourse with what purported to be my mother''s spirit. I am now fully persuaded that it was nothing but an evil spirit, an infernal demon, who, in that guise, gained my soul''s confidence, and led me to the very brink of ruin. We read in Scripture of demoniac possession, as well as abnormal spiritual action. Both facts exist, provable to-day; I am positive the former does. A. J. Davis and his clique of Harmonialists say there are no evil spirits. I emphatically deny the statement. Five of my friends destroyed themselves, and I attempted it, by direct spiritual influences. Every crime in the calendar has been committed by mortal movers of viewless beings. Adultery, fornication, suicides, desertions, unjust divorces, prostitution, abortion, insanity, are not evils, I suppose. I charge all these to this scientific Spiritualism. It has also broken up families, squandered fortunes, tempted and destroyed the weak. It has banished peace from happy families, separated husbands and wives, and shattered the intellect of thousands."
The following is an extract from the writings of J. F. Whitney, editor of the New York Pathfinder. His view of the subject accords with that of Dr. Randolph: --
"Now, after a long and constant watchfulness, seeing for months and for 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 entranced 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 men little better than the brute. These are among the fruits of Modern Spiritualism, and we do not hesitate to say that we believe if these manifestations are continued to be received, and to be as little understood as they are, and have been since they made their appearance at Rochester, and mortals are to be deceived by their false, fascinating, and snakelike charming powers, which go with them, the day will come when the world will require the appearance of another Saviour to redeem the world from its departing from Christ''s warnings. . . . 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.
"We desire to send forth our warning voice, and if our humble position as the head of a public journal, our known advocacy of Spiritualism, our experience, and the conspicuous part we have played among its believers, the honesty and the 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."
Every one who knows anything about Spiritualism has heard of Cora Hatch, who traveled extensively, and manifested her powers as an extemporaneous lecturer before astonished multitudes. One of her husbands, Dr. Hatch, renounced Spiritualism, and the following is from the testimony he bore concerning it: --
"The most damning iniquities are everywhere perpetrated in spiritual circles, a very small percentage of which ever comes to public attention. I care not whether it be spiritual or mundane, the facts exist, and should demand the attention and condemnation of an intelligent community. . . . The abrogation of marriage, bigamy, accompanied by robbery, theft, rape, are all chargeable upon Spiritualism. I most solemnly affirm that I do not believe that there has, during the last five hundred years, arisen any people who are guilty of so great a variety of crimes and indecencies as the Spiritualists of America.
"For a long time I was swallowed up in its whirlpool of excitement, and comparatively paid but little attention to its evils, believing that much good might result from the opening of the avenues of Spiritual intercourse. But during the past eight months I have devoted my attention to critical investigation of its moral, social, and religious bearing, and I stand appalled before the revelations of its awful and damning realities."
Much testimony of this nature might be given from those who have had similar experiences and equally favorable facilities for judging of the character of Spiritualism. We present only a few extracts more.
Dr. Wm. B. Potter of New York, in an article under the head of "Astounding Facts," and also in a tract entitled, " Spiritualism as It Is," gives the result of his experience and observations. His testimony is the more valuable, since he writes not from the standpoint of one who has renounced Spiritualism, whose feelings may for the time be overwrought, and his language stronger than would be used in calmer moments. When he wrote, he was still an advocate of Spiritualism, and spoke as a friend who would, if possible, induce Spiritualists to reform their faith and their manner of living. He says: --
"Fifteen years of critical study of Spiritual literature, an extensive acquaintance with the leading Spiritualists, and a patient, systematic, and thorough examination of the manifestations for many years, enable us to speak from actual knowledge, definitely and positively, of ''Spiritualism as It Is.'' Spiritual literature is full of the most insidious and seductive doctrines, calculated to undermine the very foundations of morality and virtue, and lead to the most unbridled licentiousness.
"We are told that ''we must have charity,'' that it is wrong to blame any one, that we must not expose iniquity, as it will harden the guilty,'' that ''none should be punished,'' that ''man is a machine, and not to blame for his conduct,'' that ''there is no high, no low, no good, no bad,'' that ''sin is a lesser degree of righteousness,'' that ''nothing we can do can injure the soul or retard its progress,'' that ''those who act the worst will progress the fastest,'' that ''lying is right, slavery is right, murder is right, adultery is right,'' that ''whatever is, is right.''
"Hardly can you find a Spiritualist book, paper, lecture, or communication that does not contain some of these pernicious doctrines; in disguise, if not openly. Hundreds of families have been broken up, and many affectionate wives deserted by ''affinity-seeking'' husbands. Many once devoted wives have been seduced, and left their husbands and tender, helpless children, In follow some ''higher attraction.'' Many well-disposed but simple-minded girls have been deluded by ''affinity'' notions, and led off by ''affinity hunters,'' to be deserted in a few months, with blasted reputations, or led to deeds still more dark and criminal, to hide their shame."
The same writer also mentions a fact which shows where the responsibility of all this looseness of morals belongs. He says: --
"At the National Spiritual Convention at Chicago, called to consider the question of a national organization, the only plan approved by the committee, especially provided that no charge should ever be entertained against any member, and that any person, without any regard to his or her moral character, might become a member."
The fact that no plan could find approval which did not provide that they should never be blamed nor called to account for any of their deeds, shows on what points they felt the most anxious, and plainly proves that they belong to the class of which Christ spoke, who loved darkness rather than light, and who would not come to the light lest their deeds should be reproved. John 3 : 19-21.
It is unpleasant to wade through pools of filth, and we therefore spare the reader quotations from those Spiritualists who have not only avowed the most revolting practices of free love, but openly advocated the same, and endeavored to induce others to come out likewise, on the ground that they were only honestly and publicly admitting what the others believed and practiced in secret. For the same reason we pass by the notorious Woodhull and Claflin, and Hull and Jamieson episodes, in this field, which, in the illustration and language of another, "burst upon the country like a rotten egg three thousand miles in diameter!"
It may be said that these thing are in the past and the situation has now greatly changed. For the benefit of those who thus flatter themselves we introduce one more quotation. It is from "The Law of Psychic Phenomena," by T. J. Hudson (A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago, 1894). The language is candid and conciliatory, and the author cannot be accused of any undue prejudice on the question of which he speaks. On page 335, he says: --
"I do not charge Spiritualists as a class with being advocates of the doctrines of free love. On the contrary, I am aware that, as a class, they hold the marriage relation in sacred regard. I cannot forget, however, that but a few years ago some of their leading advocates and mediums proclaimed the doctrine of free love in all its hideous deformity from every platform in the land. Nor do I fail to remember that the better class of Spiritualists everywhere repudiated the doctrine, and denounced its advocates and exemplars. Nevertheless the moral virus took effect here and there all over the country, and it is doing its deadly work in secret in many an otherwise happy home. And I charge a large and constantly growing class of professional mediums with being the leading propagandists of the doctrine of free love. They infest every community in the land, and it is well known to all men and women who are dissatisfied or unhappy in their marriage relations, that they can always find sympathy by consulting the average medium, and can, moreover, find justification for illicit love by invoking the spirits of the dead through such mediums."
We have italicized that passage in the foregoing which shows that the deadly evil is still working in secret, and that a large and constantly growing number of professionals are aiding and abetting the iniquity.
DANGERS OF MEDIUMSHIP
A few testimonies will show that when one gives himself or herself up to the control of the spirits, such ones take a most perilous position. The spirits insist on their victims becoming passive, ceasing to resist, and yielding their whole wills to them. Some of their persuasive words are these: "Come in confidence to us;" "Let our teachings deeply impress you;" "You must not doubt what we say;" "Learn of us;" "Obey our directions and you will be benefited;" "Seek to obtain knowledge of us;" "Have faith in us;" "Fear not to obey;" "Obey us and you will be greatly blessed;" etc., etc. Mesmerists operate in the same way. They gain control of their subjects in the same way that the spirits mesmerize their mediums and when under their control, the spirits cause them to see whatever they bring before them, and hear according to their wills, and do as they bid. And the things they suppose they see and hear, and what they are to do, are only such things as exist in the mind of the mesmerizing power. The subject is completely at the mercy of the invisible agency; and to put one''s self there is a most heaven-daring and hazardous act. Mr. Hudson ("Law of Psychic Phenomena," p. 336) says: --
"To the young whose characters are not formed, and to those whose notions of morality are loose, the dangers of mediumship are appalling."
To further gain the confidence of mortals, the spirits claim to be the ones who answer their prayers. lit "Automatic Writing," p. 142, we have this:--
"Ques.-- Will our friends tell us whether from their point of view, there is any real efficacy in prayer?
"Ans. [by spirits].-- Shall not ''a soul''s sincere desire'' arouse ill discarnate and free spirits effort to make that sincere desire a reality? What good can come from aspirations on mortal planes, save through the efforts to make those aspirations realized on spiritual planes, by the will of freed spirits?"
Mediums are unable to resist the powers of the unseen world when once under their control. Professor Brittan (" Telegraphic Answer to Mahan," p. 10), concerning mediumship, says: --
"We may further add in this connection that the trance mediums for spirit intercourse are equally irresponsible. Many of them are totally unable to resist the powers which come to them from the invisible and unknown realms."
Dr. Randolph ("Dealings with the Dead," p. 150) shows the dangers of mediumship, as follows: --
"I saw that one, great cause of the moral looseness of thousands of sensitive-nerved people on earth, resulted from the infernal possessions and obsessions of their persons by delegations from those realms of darkness and (to all but themselves) unmitigated horror. A sensitive man or woman -- no matter how virtuously inclined -- may, unless by constant prayer and watchfulness they prevent it and keep the will active and the sphere entire, be led into the most abominable practices and habits."
This same writer, in the same work, pp. 108, 109, says:--
"Those ill-meaning ones who live just beyond the threshold, often obtain their ends by subtly infusing a semi-sense of volitional power into the minds of their intended victims, so that at last they come to believe themselves to be self-acting, when in fact they are the merest shuttlecocks bandied about between the battledores of knavish devils on one side, and devilish knaves upon the other, and between the two the poor fallen wretches are nearly heart-reft and destroyed."
A work by A. J. Davis called "The Diakka, and their Earthly Victims," mentions the nature of these denizens of the spirit world, and their wonderful location. The country (to speak after the manner of men) which they inhabit, is so large that it would require not less than 1,803,026 diameters of the earth to span its longitudinal extent. This he had from a spirit he calls James Victor Wilson, a profound mathematician! This space is occupied by spirits who have passed from earth, who are " morally deficient" and affectionally unclean."--
Page 7. The same spirit, Wilson, describes the diakka as those "who take insane delight in playing parts, in juggling tricks, in personating opposite characters to whom prayers and profane utterances are of equi-value; surcharged with a passion for lyrical narrations; one whose every attitude is instinct with the schemes of specious reasoning, sophistry, pride, pleasure, wit, subtle convivialities; a boundless disbeliever, one who thinks that all private life will end in the all-consuming self-love of God."-- Page 13. On page 13 he says further of them, that they are "never resting, never satisfied with life, often amusing themselves with jugglery and tricky witticisms, invariably victimizing others; secretly tormenting mediums, causing them to exaggerate in speech, and to falsify in acts; unlocking and unbolting the street doors of your bosom and memory; pointing your feet into wrong paths, and far more."
What this "far more" is, we are left to conjecture. The advertisement of this book says that it is "an explanation of much that is false and repulsive in Spiritualism." W. F. Jamieson, in a Spiritualist paper, called these diakka "a troop of devils," and quoted Judge Carter as saying: "There is one thing clear, that these diakka, or fantastic or mixed spirits, are very numerous and abundant, and take any and every opportunity of obtruding themselves."
Hudson Tuttle, author of "Life in Two Spheres" and other Spiritualistic works, speaks of "a communication, through a noted medium, to Gerald Massey from his ''dog Pip,'' the said Pip ''licking the slate and writing with a good degree of intelligence.''" He adds, "Mr. Davis would say that ''Pip'' was a ''diakka,'' and to-morrow he will communicate as George Washington. Theodore Parker, or Balaam''s ass. This diakka is flesh, fish, or fowl, as you may desire."
Some idea of how the spirits sometimes torment the mediums, as hinted at above, may be gained from the following instance. In "Astounding Facts from the Spirit World," pp. 253, 254, Dr. Gridley describes the case of a medium sixty years of age, living near him in Southampton, Mass. The sufferings inflicted upon him "in two months at the hands of evil spirits would fill a volume of five hundred pages." Of these sufferings, the following are specimens: --
"They forbade his eating, to the very point of starvation. He was a perfect skeleton; they compelled him to walk day and night, with intermissions, to be sure, as their avowed object was to torment him as much and as long as possible. They swore by everything sacred and profane, that they would knock his brains out, always accompanying their threats with blows on the forehead or temples, like that of a mallet in the hands of a powerful man, with this difference, however; the latter would have made him unconscious, while in full consciousness he now endured the indescribable agony of those heavy and oft-repeated blows; they declared they would skin him alive; that he must go to New York and be dissected by inches, all of which he fully believed. They declared that they would bore holes into his brain, when he instantly felt the action suited to the word, as though a dozen augers were being turned at once into his very skull; this done, they would fill his brain with bugs and worms to eat it out, when their gnawing would instantly commence. . .
These spirits would pinch and pound him, twitch him up and throw him down, yell and blaspheme, and use the most obscene language that mortals can conceive; they would declare that they were Christ in one breath, and devils in the next; they would tie him head to foot for a long time together in a most excruciating posture; declare they would wring his neck off because he doubted or refused obedience."
Who can doubt that such spirits are the angels of the evil one himself? Dr. Gridley in the same work, p. 19, gives the experience of another medium, for the truthfulness of which he offers the fullest proof: --
"We have seen the medium evidently possessed by Irishmen and Dutchmen of the lowest grade--heard him repeat Joshua''s drunken prayers [Joshua was a strong but brutish man he had known in life], exactly like the original, --imitate his drunkenness in word and deed --try to repeat, or rather act over his most brutal deeds (from which for decency''s sake, he was instantly restrained by extraordinary exertion and severe rebuke) -- snap and grate his teeth most furiously, strike and swear, while his eyes flashed like the fires of an orthodox perdition. We have heard him hiss, and seen him writhe his body like the serpent when crawling, and dart out his tongue, and play it exactly like that reptile. These exhibitions were intermingled with the most wrangling and horrible convulsions."
These descriptions, it would seem, ought to be enough to strike terror to any heart at the thought of being a medium. But there is yet another phase of the subject that should not be passed by. These fallen spirits who are engineering the work of Spiritualism, to maintain their "assumed characters," and "play their parts" like the aforesaid diakka, represent that disembodied spirits "just over the threshold," still retain the characteristics they bore in life, such as a disposition to sensuality and licentiousness, love of rum, tobacco, and other vices, and that they can, by causing the medium to plunge excessively into these things, thereby still gratify their own propensities to indulge in them. The following sketch by Hudson Tuttle, a very popular author among Spiritiualists, is somewhat lengthy, but the idea could not better be presented than by giving it entire. In "Life in Two Spheres," pp. 35-37, he says:--
"Reader, have you ever entered the respectable saloon? Have you ever watched the stupid stare of the inebriate when the eye grew less and less lustrous, slowly closing, the muscles relaxing, and the victim of appetite sinking over on the floor in beastly drunkenness? Oh, how dense the fumes of mingled tobacco and alcohol! Oh, what misery confined in those walls! If you have witnessed such scenes, then we need describe no further. If you have not, then you had not better hear the tale of woe. Imagine to yourselves a barroom with all its sots, and their number multiplied indefinitely, while conscience-seared and bloated fiends stand behind the bar, from whence they deal out death and damnation, and the picture is complete. One has just arrived from earth. He is yet uninitiated in the mysteries and miseries of those which, like hungry lions, await him. He died while intoxicated -- was frozen while lying in the gutter, and consequently is attracted toward this society. He possessed a good intellect, but it was shattered beyond repair by his debauches.
"''Ye ar'' a fresh one, aint ye?'' coarsely queried a sot, just then particularly communicative.
"''Why, yes, I have just died, as they call it, and ''taint so bad a change after all; only I suppose there ''11 be dry times here for the want of something stimulant.''
"''Not so dry; lots of that all the time, and jolly times too.''
"''Drink! Can you drink, then?''
"''Yes, we just can, and feel as nice as you please. But all can''t, not unless they find one on earth just like them.
You go to earth, and mix with your chums; and when you find one whose thoughts you can read, he''s your man. Form a connection with him, and when he gets to feeling good, you''ll feel so too--There, do you understand me? I always tell all fresh ones the glorious news, for how they would suffer if it was n''t for this blessed thing.''
"''I''ll try, no mistake.''
"''Here''s a covey,'' spoke an ulcerous-looking being; he''s of our stripe. Tim, did you hear what an infernal scrape I got into last night? No, you didn''t. Well, I went to our friend Fred''s; he didn''t want to drink when I found him; his dimes looked so extremely large. Well, I destroyed that feeling, and made him think he was dry. He drank, and drank, more than I wanted him to, until I was so drunk that I could not break my connection with him, or control his mind. He undertook to go home, fell into the snow, and came near freezing to death. I suffered awfully, ten times as much as when I died.'' . . . Reader, we draw the curtain over scenes like these, such as are daily occurring in this society."
In these cases the whole evil of the indulgences of course falls upon the mediums; and who would wish to assume personal relation with such a world, and be forced to bear in their own bodies the evils of the unhallowed indulgences of unseen spirits, against their will?
Other scenes represented as taking place in the spirit land, are most grotesque and silly and would be taken as a burlesque upon Spiritualism, were they not put forth in all gravity by the friends and advocates of that so-called new revelation. Thus Judge Edmunds, giving an account of what he had seen in the spirit world, mentions the case of an old woman busy churning, who promised him, if he would call again, a drink of buttermilk; he speaks of men fighting, of courtezans trying to continue their lewd conduct; of a mischievous boy who split a dog''s tail open, and put a stick in it, just to witness its misery; of the owner of the dog, who, attracted by its cries, discovered the cause, and beat the boy, who fled, but was pursued and beaten and kicked far up the road. See Edmund''s "Spiritualism," Vol. II, pp. 135-144, 181, 182, 186, 189. Surely here are the diakka playing their pranks in all their glory.
On the leading points of faith as held by Christians generally, quotations have been given to show sufficiently what the spirits teach, and the object they are trying to effect. But the reader will be interested to learn what they teach on some other points which incidentally appear in their communications.
Spiritualists object most strenuously to the idea of unconsciousness in death, or to the Bible declaration, "The dead know not anything." But the spirits themselves teach this very thing. Thus Judge Edmunds, Vol. II, Appendix B, p. 524, quotes the confession of a spirit that he was totally unconscious for a time, he could not tell how long, and awoke to consciousness gradually; and that the state of unconsciousness differs with different persons, depending on circumstances. A. J. Davis admits that Professor Webster was eight days and a half unconscious.--"Death and the After Life," pp. 18, 19.
Through Mrs. Conant, medium, in Banner of Light, June 3, 1865, we have this information: "It is said that some spirits require a thousand years to awake to consciousness. Is this true? -- Yes, this is true." In "Automatic Writing," p. 93, the spirits teach the same thing to-day. If others deny such statements, it only shows that their testimony is contradictory and therefore unreliable.
Again, the Bible doctrine that the incorrigibly wicked must cease from conscious existence, is denounced by Spiritualists; but on this point the spirits confess also: --
"Ques.-- Do I understand you to say that a diakka is one who believes in ultimate annihilation?
"Ans.--Only yesterday one said to a lady medium, signing himself ''Swedenborg,'' this: ''Whatsoever is, has been, will be, or may be, that I AM, and private life is but the aggregative phantasms of thinking throblets rushing in their rising onward to the central heart of eternal death.'' "--"Diakka" p. 11.
"Q.-- Does every human being continue life on higher planes?
"A.-- Shall not all who are abortions die?
"Q.-- Do you mean that some born on this plane may spiritually die from lack of force to persist?
"A.-- Yes--both women and men are born into the divine humanity who must necessarily perish, because they have not sufficient soul strength to persist." -- "Automatic Writing," pp. 101, 102.
There is, it seems, a purgatory in the spirit world. In answer to a question, a spirit replied: --
"There is a sphere in spirit life allotted to those who leave the earthly plane in spiritual ignorance, which is not pleasing to dwell upon, yet which is absolutely necessary to spiritual soul growth."- Id., p. 90.
Spiritualism is claimed to settle the question of immortality; but the spirits confess themselves ignorant of it:
"Ques.-- On your plane do you arrive at certainty in regard to immortality?
"Ans.-- We here are as ignorant as you are as to the ultimate of existence. immortality is still an undetermined issue. One life at a time seems as pertinent with us as with you."-- Id., p. 103.
The spirits'' heaven, it seems, is not so desirable a place that it prevents their being homesick.
"Ques.-- Why are you homesick?
"Ans.-- Have not found out the real reason; things are so different from former ideas."-- Id., p. 111.
Spirits are not allowed to tell too much about their condition, as the following question and answer show: --
"Ques.-- Can''t you tell us what makes it pleasanter,-- describe so we can understand?
"Ans.-- You''ll find out as I did -- ''gainst the rules here to tell. . . . Just be patient--it''s all easy enough when you learn how. I was puzzled, but it all seems straight enough now."-- Id., p. 115.
They teach the pre-existence of souls, and the old pagan doctrines of the reincarnation of souls, and the final absorption of all into Nirvana. A spirit having answered that all had been asserted in some other forum, questions and answers followed from which we quote: --
"Q.-- Is that statement an intimation of the truth of reincarnation?
"A.-- Souls of all who have preceded you are centered in you in spite of your childish protests. Ask not of those predecessors; for they yet live in you, and you in them.
Long ago you and I went over the ground under eminent names. . . . Were not we together when Socrates and Aspasia talked?" -- Id., pp. 151, 152.
Q.--Can you tell us, at least, whether spirit, as a whole or in its individual atoms, exists eternally?
"A.--Yes; spirit as a whole is eternal--exists--did exist -- by force of Powers you cannot understand. But you as individual, self-conscious, atomistic particles of spirit wholeness, are not eternal, and must return to the Primal Source."--Id., p. 133.
SPIRITS CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED
Having now sufficiently examined the teaching of the spirits, a final question arises in regard to them, whether it is possible to identify them, and determine with any absolute certainty whether they are the spirits of the particular individuals they claim to be, or even spirits of the dead at all, or not. It should be distinctly borne in mind, always, that evil angels, whose existence has been proved from the Bible, whose nature and delight is to deceive, can walk the earth unseen, imitate and personate any individual, and reveal their characteristics of thought, writing, acts, form, and features, and make so perfect a counterfeit as to defy detection. How, then, can it be told what spirit it is, even though it shows the face and features of some well-known friend? On this topic, as on preceding questions, Spiritualists themselves may produce the evidence. President Mahman ("Discussion with Tiffany and Rhen," p. 13) remarks: --
"Certain experiments have been made, in order to determine whether spirits are present. Individuals go in as inquirers, and get definite answers-- in the first place, from departed spirits of persons yet living; in the second place, from departed spirits of persons who never existed here or anywhere else; in the third place, from the departed spirits of brute beasts."
When it is considered, as already noted, that spirits do their work through mesmeric power, it is easy to understand how the medium is made to believe that such and such a spirit is communicating when it is not so at all. This question of identity came up in the very early stages of Spiritualism, and is no nearer settled, on their own confession, now than then. A Mr. Hobart, in 1856, who claimed to be the first Spiritualist in Michigan, made the following admission: --
"The spirit sometimes assumes the name of an individual belonging to the same church, to induce them to hear. This is necessary with some who are so bigoted they would not believe unless a name was assumed which they respected."
An article in the Spiritual Telegraph, of July 11, 1857, begins as follows: --
"The question is continually being asked, especially by novitiates in spiritual investigations, How shall we know that the spirits who communicate with us are really the ones whom they purport to be? . . . In giving the results of our own experience and observation upon this subject, we would premise that spirits unquestionably can, and often do, personate other spirits, and that, too, often with such perfection as, for the time being, to defy every effort to detect the deception. . . . If direct tests are demanded at all, we would recommend that they be asked for the purpose of proving that the manifesting influence is that of a spirit, rather than to prove what particular spirit is the agent of its production."
This is an entire begging of the whole matter in question; for it is not denied that it is a spirit; we want to know what particular spirit it is; but for that we must not ask; for it cannot be ascertained. The same article states that other and lower spirits often crowd in and take the place of the spirit communicating, without the knowledge of the medium. We might also quote "Spiritualism as It Is," p. 14, that "not one per cent, of the manifestations have had a higher origin than the first and second spheres, which are filled with low, ignorant, deceptive, mischievous, selfish, egotistical spirits;" and "Dealings with the Dead," p. 225, that "the fact is, good spirits do not appear one tenth as often as imagined."
Jan. 7, 1888, the following appeared in the Bamner of Light: --
"Ques.-- What is the cause of our receiving inconsistent and untruthful communications? Does the blame, if any there is, rest with us or the controlling intelligence?
"Ans.-- There are spirits who delight in imposing upon mortals; they realize their power outside of material things, and that those who seek knowledge from them cannot see nor get hold of them; therefore to an extent they exercise a certain power over those mortals who approach; and if the mortals are themselves tricky by nature, insincere, ready to take advantage of others, whether it be at the time of sitting or in their daily life, rest assured they may be imposed upon by spirits from the other side who occupy a like plane of existence with themselves."
Mediums themselves will not trust the spirits, according to statements made as late as 1896. Mrs. S. A. Underwood, medium, in "Automatic Writing," p. 55, says: --
"With all my experience in it, I would not to-day venture upon any change, business venture, friend ship, or line of conduct, advised from this source, unless my own common material sense endorsed it. Indeed, I would not take as fact any of its even reasonable advice without question, because it is not reliable as a guide in earthly affairs."
Spirit communication, then, certainly does not amount to much as a heavenly instructor, a celestial guide to enlighten the ignorance of men. Whatever we know ourselves, we may rely upon; all else is uncertain. Again, on p. 56, she says: --
"Then the assumption of great names by apparently common-place minds is a very strange thing. I was horrified and annoyed when this occurred under my own hand, because that is one of the things which disgusted me with spiritual messages before this writing came to me, as I had occasionally glanced over such messages. When I protested against such assumption, I was told that ''Elaine and Guinevere'' were not real beings, but types. So somewhere in our sphere are spirits who embody cleverness in creations of their own fancy, and adopt names suited to that fancy."
Thus the spirits themselves confess that the names they often assume are not those of real beings, but typical and fanciful. Nothing more, it would seem, is necessary to complete the condemnation of Spiritualism, so far as its own nature is concerned. When in addition to all else, it appears that the spirits cannot be identified; that the whole underlying claim that the spirits are the spirits of the dead, must itself be assumed; and that, too, in the face of the numberless known falsehoods and deceptions that are constantly issuing from the unseen realm,-- there is nothing left for it to stand upon.
 The revision of Dr. Clarke''s Commentary by Dr. Curry, proves the truthfulness of what the doctor here says, for this important passage is entirely eliminated, and its place filled with statements which Dr. Clarke did not make, and sentiments which he did not believe. It is no less than a crime to treat a dead man''s work in this manner.