« ZurückWeiter »
the narrowness of their ideas, which priests bring with them into the world. They never learn to think or to reason; and will never allow to any one the right to think or to reason. They are not edu. cated. Their minds are filled to satiety with strange and foreign ideas, in order that they may communicate them to others, and lead them in the same manner, if they possibly can. The priest knows but the church and her tenets, and drags his poor humanity forward without knowledge of himself; guides others without knowing them; speaking often about science without any adequate idea of science, and being, in fact, the enemy of science. Can such men be preachers, and educators, and professors, able to guide men into the true science of their relations to each other, to God, and to the universe ?
SPIRITUALISM. What is the thing now called Spiritualism, appearing in the middle of the 19th century?
Were we to attempt to define it, and to do it justice, the definition ought to embrace the thing with its essential attributes. The definition, we confess, is not easy. Some would define it, A mysterious rapping noise, accompanied by the moving of tables, chairs, and of loose and detached letters of the alphabet, and afterwards so arranging them as to spell any required name; and all this done without the intervention of any human agency. All these phenomena, it is said, have been heard and seen by disinterested and competent witnesses.
Letters, it is moreover affirmed, have been written and handed to persons, by and through the same mysterious medium-that is, without any visible human hand or agency, and purporting to have been written by a departed spirit. These are the faets said to have been witnessed. And if so, they should be embraced in a complete and satisfactory definition of spiritualism. These phenomena constitute the external, visible evidence, urged by the advocates of spiritualism, in proof of its truth and certainty. Such is the testimony upon which the thing called spiritualism is believed.
But does the evidence sustain the testimony that the communications are spiritual ? and if spiritual, are they worthy of belief! Were there not lying spirits in the days of the prophets? And may there not be lying spirits now as well as then? Let it be admitted, for the sake of argument, that the phenomena witnessed on these occasions are, in truth, spiritual manifestations of power over material objects,
and that the communications in manuscript received, are actual revelations made by the spirits of the dead, are they in accordance with, and confirmatory of, the truth of those revelations made by the Holy Spirit, that spoke anciently by the holy apostles and prophets! If they be, indeed, the communications of good spirits, their revelations will be in accordance with the truth spoken by the Spirit of God. For we are commanded to try the spirits. Hereby we are to know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. And besides, we are warned not to believe every spirit. For some, we are told, will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demonsthe spirits of dead men.
Now if these modern revelations, purporting to be from the spirit land, be actually spiritual communications, they are lying spirits, for they represent all the dead, however diverse their characters may have been while in the flesh, as comparatively happy. They never speak of any place of absolute punishment-no place of torment—no hell. Those who, while in the body, feared and worshiped God, and those who feared Him not, are seen to occupy the same sphere. The righteous and the wicked fare alike. All are happy.
Christ, who spake by the onerring Spirit of Truth, and who was truth himself, declared, “That they that have done good, shall arise to everlasting life, and they that have done evil, shall arise to suffer punishment.” These shall go away into everlasting punishment, and those into life eternal.
But there is a geographical fact in the history of these spiritual manifestations that ought not to be overlooked. Whence did they originate? In the very hot-bed of Universalism. Rochester, New York, has had the honor of having had the first communications with the spirit land. Its advantages of railroad and water communication, have given it much importance as a commercial city; and its late connection, by spiritual telegraph, with the world of spirits, may add much influence to at least a numerous class of its population. The spiritual guides of a large portion of its good citizens, have always shown much zeal, and a becoming desire to deliver themselves, in their hebdomadał lectures, in such a manner as would free the anxious minds of their hearers from all fears as to their future welfare; and, therefore, the preacher sought to find out acceptable words to soothe their minds and quiet their conscience. And especially to the young and ardent votary of pleasure, saying to him, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart; for I would have you to know, that for all these things God will not bring thee into judg. ment." And with the same assurance, showing to all his faithful
hearers that "God will not hereafter bring any work into judgment, nor any secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”
But amid all this outward graceful display and ingenious argument, uttered in a style of magniloquence that inakes it easy for the accomplished orator to tickle the fancy and captivate the gay and thoughtless devotees of pleasure and of mammon, the preacher himself cannot but feel that while he is playing his silly tricks in the face of his dying audience, there is within him something that tells him of a coming judgment, that shall contemn all such tinsel argument and specious sophistry, and that shall sustain inviolate the righteous decree that is ever sounding in his ears, "Say ye to the righteous it shall be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Say ye to the wicked it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him."
Nor will the thinking portion of his auditors, in this progressive age, be always satisfied, or better pleased than the speaker with the gossamer veil thus thrown over their mental vision. With all his eloquence the arguments have become stale, and if not effete, are at least like the salt that has lost its saltness. They are powerless to allay the fears of a guilty conscience, whose upbraidings they cannot hush.
This is confessedly an age of expedients. And the greater the difficulty-the more hopeless and desperate the case, the more desperate the expedient or remedy should be. This is, by many, thought to be a logical conclusion. And that truly must be regarded a well nigh gone cause, that has lost its hold on terra firma and slid off into terra incognita—a land of spirits, a land of insubstantial forms and shadows.
The cause of Universalism is now felt to be in imminent peril. It shrieks for help. Its piteous cries are heard even to the spirit land. Its long silence, coeval with the flight of the first spirit from its clay tenement, has been at length broken in the middle of the 19th century. If not hell beneath, the spirits of the seven spheres have all been moved at the invocation from earth, "Tell us, ye dead, will none of you in pity disclose the secret! Tell us where you are, and we must shortly be.” Obedient to the call, they come to the rescue, and their knocks at the portals of earth are heard, and the inhabitants thereof are startled at the strange response. At their mysterious touch doors fly open, chairs and tables, no longer obedient to the laws of macter, move upon their legs about the room. Strange phenomena! But, stranger still, the things they tell us. At first, their manner of speech appeared to the inhabitants of earth rude and of doubtful interpretation. But it was shortly found that their intercourse with men in the
Aesh, enabled the spirits to recover the art of writing legibly the languages of earth.
Wonderful as was the medium of conveying these epistolary communications, the things revealed were found yet more wonderful. Surely none would have conjectured that all things in the spirit world, even to the seventh sphere, were made after the pattern of the things in our world of matter. And their occupations are similar to those followed by them while in the body. Commerce, agriculture and manufactures, still engage the attention of many. The learned professions, we are told, are also prosecuted with great interest and success. Not having ourselves seen or read any of these epistles, we are not informed as to their facilities of travel or transportation, or with what speed intelligence may be conveyed from one sphere to another, or from remote points to other points of the same sphere. On these matters we are not as yet advised. We would, however, refer our readers to the lectures of Dr. Robert Hare, of Philadelphia, who is now, we understand, astonishing and delighting the good people thereof with a graphic view of the spirit land, with a classification of its inhabitants as they are found to exist in the seven spheres. He has been enabled to make to his fellow-citizens some interesting revelations relative to the present estate of some of our most distinguished revolutionary heroes and statesmen, for whose future welfare we had entertained some fears. Some of whom, we learn, are honored with the society of patriarchs, apostles and proph. ets, in the higher spheres. The distinction which our old fashioned book, called the Bible, has so clearly made between patriots, heroes and statesmen, of doubtful morals, and those distinguished for piety and purity of morals, is altogether ignored by the revelations of spiritualism.
If it now be asked, Where are the wise men of this world? Where are the learned scribes? Where are the reasoners and philosophers of the heathen world? The answer is now at hand. Spiritualism has lifted the curtain impervious to the vision of mortals, and has given to them a view of the seven spheres, and shown the relative positions of those who were once the great men of earth. Plato, Confucius, and Swedenborg, are seen in the seventh sphere, in company with Jesus Christ. The second sphere, which answers to the mythic pandemonium of the ancient Greeks, is situated some “sixty miles above our planet, and is the first residence of the ignorant and vicious spirits who have lately shuffled off their mortal tenements. This sphere resembles a vast desert, without a green spot to relieve the eye. Its denizens are seen straggling here and there, with no fixed object in view. All are seeking to minister to their perverted tastes.
· Some are holding forth in loud tones, and painting in false and gaudy colors the joy of their hofte; others, who occupied high stations on earth, hang their heads in confusion, and would fain hide themselves from view; but they are taunted with rude jests, and told that their pride of position will avail them nothing here. No children are seen in this sphere. No purity can exist where such evils abound. *The loud laugh which speaks the vacant mind,' is heard pealing forth in derision, as the teachers from the higher spheres approach the motley group. A moral darkness pervades the atmosphere, which renders it gloomy and uncomfortable in the extreme. The inhabitants are dark and dismal in their appearance, and are continually tortured with the pangs of a guilty conscience. Here disorder and confusion reign supreme, each spirit vieing with the other in rendering discord more discordant. Some, however, in whom the work of regeneration has commenced, are seen ascending the spiral stairway of progress which leads to the third sphere."
The above description we have taken from a letter purporting to be the spirit Maria's narrative to her father,
This legend needs no comment to show that it was penned by a lying spirit in the flesh. Do we not see in it the hand of the Universalian Restorationist? What signifies the professed faith of such men in the Bible? Have such preachers any reverence for the unerring word of God? The demons believe and tremble. But these teachers are alike destitute of faith and fear. Those disembodied unclean spirits that spoke in the days of the Saviour, told the truth when they cried out, “We know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. Art thou come to torment us before the time?” But these wicked spirits in the flesh cry out, without fear, against a coming judgment and a fiery vengeance that shall overtake and devour the adversary.
This imposture is much too barefaced to have the merit of a cunningly devised fable. The description of the seventh heaven or sphere, is little else than a servile imitation of Mohammed's highest beaven.
Besides, the character given the denizens of the spirit world, has all that dreamy, voluptuous langour of oriental indulgence, that shows a want of that manliness which a chaste imagination would depict as the most befitting immortals freed from the lusts and passions incident to flesh and blood. Take it, therefore, as it is, a mere fiction of a weak and unsanctified mind, attempting to draw a celestial landscape with an assemblage of objects and characters the most incongruous, and we have just such a picture as one can draw who has not one consistent spiritual idea in his mind. And for this reason alone, the limner can look upon his work and not blush.
A. W. C.