The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 5
Ellet J. Waggoner
We come now to our own time and to so-called Christian countries. In 2 Tim. 3 the apostle describes the condition of the mass of the professors of religion, in the days immediately preceding the coming of Christ. He says: —
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:1-7).
Compare this list of sins with the list given in Rom. 1:20-32, which were characteristic of the ancient heathen, and with the list of “the works of the flesh,” in Gal. 5:19-21, and it will be seen that all are the same, —the product of the same spirit. We shall have to recur to this text again, when we come to show the danger that threatens the churches at the present time; but first we must show the cause of this state of things to be Spiritualism, the same in modern as in ancient times. Now read further concerning these wicked ones in the last days, who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof: —
“Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:8).
The only ones besides Pharaoh, of whom we have any account that they resisted Moses, were the magicians whom Pharaoh called to his aid. Hence Jannes and Jambres are the names of the magicians who used their enchantments to confirm Pharaoh in his rebellion against God. It is sufficient to refer to the account in Exodus 7 and 8. When Moses performed miracles to prove his divine commission, the magicians and sorcerers did the same, up to a certain point. Their rods became serpents (Ex. 7:10, 12); they turned water into blood (Ex. 7:19-22); they brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:5-7); but when the third plague came, —the plague of lice, —they could not do the same with their enchantments, but were forced to say, “This is the finger of God” (Ex. 8:17-19). By the aid of the devils whom they worshiped, they performed miracles which served to harden Pharaoh’s heart against the truth; but they were not allowed to proceed very far before their folly was made manifest. Notice also, in this connection, that while the magicians could, with their enchantments, bring calamities, they could not cause those calamities to depart. This is in keeping with the character of the master whom the magicians served. Satan is the destroyer; to build up and do good is no part of his work.
The work, which the Egyptian magicians did, is the very work that modern Spiritualism is doing. Everybody who has given the subject any candid investigation must admit that modern Spiritualism is accompanied by wonders. It is true that there is a great deal of fraud connected with it. Many persons, who are unable to conjure up the evil spirits at will, seek the notoriety of genuine mediums by counterfeiting genuine manifestations. Nevertheless there are Spiritualistic manifestations that are not the work of sleight-of-hand performers. Many things have been accomplished which show the presence of a power not human. Of the many phenomena of Spiritualism, it will be sufficient to refer to slate-writing, as that is probably as good evidence of spirit power as has yet been afforded, and, under certain conditions, affords the least opportunity for collusion.
The phenomenon of slate writing has been manifested under conditions that absolutely precluded the possibility of any human intervention in the matter. The report of the Seybert Commission to investigate Spiritualism, says that when this writing is done the slates must always be concealed, and must be in contact with the medium, thus affording opportunity for the clean slates to be replaced by slates upon which messages have previously been written. But this is not so. The writing is often produced when the slates are at a considerable distance from any person, and under gaslight or in open daylight. It is a very common thing for people to bring their own slates, which they know are perfectly clean, lay them upon the floor in plain view, and several feet away from the medium, and have the writing produced while they watch. On one occasion, in the city of San Francisco, two slates that were perfectly clean were fastened together, with a pencil point between them, and were hung upon a lighted gas jet, in the presence of a large congregation. Without any person being within reach, the scratch of the pencil was distinctly heard, and in a few minutes the slates were covered with legible writing.
At another time two slates were fastened together as above described, and when they were opened, the surface of one was found to contain messages in twelve different languages, namely, English, Germany, French, Spanish, Italian, Egyptian, and old Asiatic or Assyrian cuneiform writing. We have in our possession a facsimile of the writing upon the slate. The slates were clean when the séance began, which was held in open daylight, and they were kept in sight all the time. More than this, the medium through whose influence the writing was obtained, had no knowledge of any language, except the English; and no person present had any knowledge of any language besides English, further than a smattering of Spanish and French. Therefore it is absolutely certain that no human being could have produced the writing upon the slate. The question is, who did the writing?
Spiritualists tell us that this writing was done by the spirits of men who once lived on this earth, and that such phenomena are proof that death does not put an end to conscious existence. But reason and revelation are both opposed to such an explanation. We have learned from the Bible that “the dead know not anything,” and that as soon as their breath goes forth their thoughts perish. We know that there is neither work nor device nor knowledge nor power, in the grave, whither all men go. But we know that there are spiritual beings whose nature is entirely different from that of man, who were created before man was, and that some of these beings, having sinned, and been cast down from their high estate in Heaven (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6), have ever since, together with their leader, Satan, been warring against the truth. These are the beings to whom we attribute this phenomena of Spiritualism, whether slate-writing, materialization, or anything else.
But then Spiritualists will ask, “How do you know that these spirits are evil spirits? And if these are evil spirits, then how do you know but that the beings that appeared to ancient prophets and the apostles were also evil spirits?” The answer to this is simple; we tell what kind of spirits they are by trying them. The apostle John says: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). And in trying these spirits we follow the directions given in Isa. 8:19, 20: “And when they say to you, Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter, should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Tried by this rule, the spirits that produce the phenomena of modern Spiritualism, like those that produced the wonders of ancient heathenism, are proved to be the spirits of devils. We shall allow the spirits and Spiritualists to speak for themselves.
We have already shown the similarity between modern Spiritualism and ancient heathenism, and we quote the following to show that Spiritualists themselves acknowledge that heathenism and Spiritualism are the same thing: —
“The oracles of Delphi were nothing more nor less than the utterance of spirits through the lips of sensitive’s.”—Gold Gate, January 22, 1887.
Again in the same journal, September 17, 1887, we find the following concerning Confucius: —
“In common with the majority of his countrymen, he believed in spirit communion, and we shall find that all Orientals are Spiritualists rather than idolaters when we understand them; their images are only symbols like the statutes in Catholic churches.”
We have already shown that all heathenism is devil-worship; therefore there need be no question as to the origin of Spiritualism, since it is identical with heathenism.
The Signs of the Times : January 20, 1888
The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 6
We know that the spirits that are responsible for the phenomena of modern Spiritualism are evil spirits that deny the Bible, and not the beings that appeared to the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles of old. This is their great work. N. F. Ravlin was for many years a Baptist minister, but is now an ardent Spiritualist lecturer. In the Golden Gate of December 18, 1886, he gave an account of how and why he became a Spiritualist, and also some of his experience since becoming one. Among other things, he said, concerning a message purporting to have come from his father: —
“The message of my father contained an epitome of my history for the last thirty years, and closed by a most emphatic endorsement of my recent preaching according to the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures. He commended my published discourses, which the Baptist denomination have repudiated as heresy.”
Farther on in the article he said: —
“Nearly half a score of old Baptist preachers, with whom I have been associated in the past, have already come to our home, and explained wherein their former preaching was erroneous. The whole system of biblical interpretation is far away from the truth, as everyone will find when they enter the spiritual world.”
The spirits deny God. The following we clipped from an article in the New Thought of January 1, 1886: —
“I was told, not long since by a God-worshiping Spiritualist, that they believed that ‘deep down in my heart, I believe in a God.’ I have not only been told that once, but many times; I consider it an insult, both to my intelligence and my honesty. But perhaps they only judge by themselves, and may be, in part, excusable. They may have one belief deep down in their hearts for Sundays, and another nearer the surface for weekday use.
“As for me, I have lived without hanging on to a God for a good many years and do not see but that I am as well off as before; though from early training, I was obliged to let go, inch by inch. How can we progress when tied fast to a God idea? To me it looks like tying a calf to a stake; he goes the length of his rope then goes around in a circle, and still thinks he is making progress.”
The above seems the more horrible because a woman wrote it. We do not wish to multiply testimony on any point, but we could give many more equally blasphemous extracts from Spiritualist writings. There are some Spiritualist papers that do not contain such bold statements as the above, but there is not one that does not deny God as revealed in the Bible.
Light in the Word, a Spiritualist paper published in St. Louis, Mo., contained the following question addressed to a spirit, and the answer of that spirit, in its issue of July 14, 1886: —
“‘We are taught that God made man after his own image; consequently, when we think of God we are apt to imagine him a being shaped like ourselves. How is this understood over on your side—are we correct?’
“The answer came quickly—
“‘It is not correct; it is an error. What you call God is the great creating spirit of the universe. Man is a part of God, —a spark thrown off from the Great Spirit. Imagine, if you please, a great circle. Man is placed upon it an infant, and commences his long journey around it. His first great change is what you call death; from thence he progresses, onward and onward, from sphere to sphere, until he reaches the place of beginning, when he again becomes a part of the Great Spirit, but retains his individuality.’”
They deny Christ and the atonement. The editor of New Thought in his issue of September 11, 1886, when writing of Andrew Jackson Davis, a noted Spiritualist, said: —
“Jesus was no more of an instrument in the hands of the superior powers than is Mr. Davis.”
And in the same paper of June 14, 1887, I find the following, which is a part of an interview between a man and his wife, who was on her deathbed: —
“‘It is very true, Maggie, I have done wrong, as we all have; but “the blood of Christ cleanseth from all unrighteousness.” If I have repented and been forgiven for Christ’s sake, you ought to forgive me.’
“‘O James,’ said his wife, ‘lean no longer upon this treacherous fallacy. So far as my forgiveness is concerned, you might have it a thousand times. But no forgiveness can change your crimes into virtue; no blood can wash out the guilty deeds deeply graven on your soul. You must atone for your own sins, and work out your own salvation. There is no alternative.’”
In the same paper, October 22, 1887, we find the following under the heading, “Our Creed”: —
“We believe that God does not pardon sin, as is represented in the Scriptures; and we also believe that sin is as much of a necessity as righteousness, so-termed; that sin in the evolution of Nature’s (God’s) laws is converted into righteousness, and vice versus.”
This is straight Spiritualist teaching. There is not a Spiritualist in the world who holds any different view of the atonement.
The Bible gives the devil the following character: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Of course all his angels have the same character. Now that Spiritualism emanates from that source is virtually acknowledged by a Spiritualist of many years’ standing. In the Golden Gate of August 7, 1886, the following appeared as part of an editorial entitled “Misleading Spirits:”—
“Whoever surrenders his individual judgment and gives his trust implicitly upon the communications of spirits, as given through promiscuous mediumship, is almost certain to be deceived. It matters not how confident his trust or implicit his faith, nor how sincere or honest he may be in his intentions, he will find the . . . spiritual message a veritable broken reed, if he attempts to lean upon it to the exclusion of the staff of his own reason.”
Now with the evidence already produced, showing that Spiritualism is of the devil, and with the above admission that the spirits are not to be trusted, - in other words, that they are lying spirits, - read the following from E. A. Brackett’s “Materialized Apparitions”: —
“When I had finished my investigations on this point, I found that I stood on the shore of a boundless sea of speculation and uncertainty. I could not help asking myself the question, ‘What are these forms that, for a few moments only, clothe themselves in objective reality, bearing the semblance of my friends, blended with the likeness of the medium? Are these my father, my mother, my wife, my brother?’ . . .
“In the midst of this perplexity, this whirl of unanswered questions, the voice of my old friend came to me: ‘Don’t stare these sensitive beings out of your countenance, but give them all that you can of your better nature, and you shall have your reward. If there is a possibility of mistake as to identity, if you are in any way deceived, the responsibility is theirs not yours. In all true séances, if the forms are not what they are supposed to be, they are at least beings from another life, seeking strength and comfort from association with you, else they would not come. Let not a shadow of doubt or distrust bar their approach. Have no awe, no reserve, no fear as to what they are, and they will blend into your soul, and become a part of your life.’ . . .
“I decided to follow the course which had been suggested to me. I would lay aside all reserve, and greet these forms as dear departed friends who had come from afar, and had struggled hard to reach me.
“From that moment the forms, which had seemed to lack vitality, became animated with marvelous strength. They sprang forward to greet me; tender arms were clasped around me; forms that had been almost dumb during my investigations now talked freely; faces that had worn more the character of a mask than of real life, now glowed with beauty. What claimed to be my niece, ever present and earnest in aiding me to obtain the knowledge I was seeking, overwhelmed me with demonstrations of regard. Throwing her arms around me, and laying her head upon my shoulder, she looked up and said, ‘Now we can all come so near you.’”
All Spiritualist writers give advice to the same effect, that the investigator should yield himself to the influence of the forms that come professing to be his dead friends. What a terrible thought that men would voluntarily put themselves into the hands of the devil, allowing him to obtain complete control of them. If the majority of the people on earth should thus submit themselves to his influence, who can imagine the evil that would follow? The only way in which a person can get any just conception of what would follow, is by reading 2 Tim. 3:1-7.
“But,” says one, “when we see the forms of our departed loved ones, and hear their voices, and they recall memories of the past, how can we be deceived? Can we not trust the evidence of our senses?” We reply, No; in this matter the senses are not a safe guide. Our only sure guide is the word of God, which declares that “the dead know not anything,” that their thoughts are perished, and that their dearest relatives may come to honor or be ruined, and they will not be affected by it in the least, because they cannot know anything of it. As further evidence that the senses cannot be trusted to determine whether a spirit is the one whom he professes to be, or not, we quote the following. It is from the New Thought of July 16, 1887, in a description of a Spiritualist séance: —
“Among other new demonstrations of spirit power was the transfiguration of Maud. Sitting right in her chair in the full gaslight, she assumed several transformations, which were marvelous. At one time she assumed almost the exact image of Mrs. Woodard, then in an instant she represented old Mrs. Graves, then her light brown hair and blue eyes and petite form was changed into a stout, full-chested lady with very dark eyes, and almost black hair, unknown to the circle. Then, again, she appeared a young man whom Calvin recognized as a college classmate. All this time she was semi-conscious.”
The apostle Paul says: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). In view of the testimony both of the Bible, and of Spiritualists themselves, none need be in doubt as to the source of Spiritualistic manifestations, or as to the identity of materialized forms. “They are the spirits of devils working miracles” (Rev. 16:14).
The Signs of the Times : January 27, 1888
The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 7
But it is urged that the spirits often do good service, giving valuable advice in business matters, healing the sick, etc., and that those who do such things must be good spirits. Again we recur to our rule: “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Do they acknowledge the God of the Bible, and accept Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world? Never. Then they are of the devil. Is it strange that the devil should do a little seeming good for a person, in order more completely to entangle that person in his toils, and to lure scores of others into his net? Does not the libertine often profess the utmost piety, in order that he may win his way into the homes of innocence? If men will steal the livery of the court of Heaven, to serve the devil, is it any wonder that Satan should steal the same insignia in order to serve himself?
Christ says that just before the end “there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24). And Paul says that just before the coming of Christ, Satan will work “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9,10). The miracles, which Satan works, are intended to deceive, and since they almost deceive even the saints of God, it is evident that they have the appearance of good. In order to capture professed Christians, Satan is going to profess to be Christ, and he must therefore counterfeit as far as possible the work of Christ.
Sometimes men wonder why the Lord should allow Satan to deceive people. He doesn’t allow him to deceive anyone who doesn’t want to be deceived. Only those who receive not the love of the truth, will fall under Satan’s wiles. No matter what garb Satan or his angels may assume, they can always be detected by comparing their words with the plain declarations of the Bible.
In previous articles we showed that from the very nature of the case, Spiritualism must tend to immorality; and now we have shown that it denies God, denies Christ, and makes man his own saviour, denies the Bible, and, consequently, the morality of the Bible, makes every man’s desires and natural propensities his own law, and advises men to submit themselves to spirits which it acknowledges are lying spirits. What more is needed to show that Spiritualism is the spirit of antichrist? Yet we give one more quotation. It is from an article in the Golden Gate of August 20, 1887, written by Dr. John B. Wolff, of Washington, D. C., who says that he was a Spiritualist years before the Rochester knockings, and a Methodist minister before he was a Spiritualist. Hence he ought to know whereof he speaks. He says: —
“There have been many attempts to unite Christianity and Spiritualism, but they have all been signal failures, and will continue so to be, because there is not enough in common to make the basis of a solid union.”
Again he says: —
“Spiritualism strikes at the root of every cardinal doctrine of Christianity; hence there can be no conciliation or reconciliation between that and genuine Spiritualism, except at the expense of the latter. The churches have control of public opinion, the press, and the machinery of the governments, and are using all these instruments to crush us out. While this state of facts exists, I do not propose to belittle and stultify myself by any concessions or courtships. I am ready to meet them halfway upon the platform of equality - till then no compromise. With me Spiritualism must stand alone upon its own facts and doctrines, perfectly discrete from any and all system, past or present. Those who are fond of conglomerates, such as Daniel’s model of iron and clay, can mix to suit their tastes and necessities, but I will have one of it.”
Yet in spite of all this, Spiritualism will soon profess to be ‘the Christianity of the Bible’, and as such will be accepted by a very large majority of the people of the earth. It will not change its character in the least, but will still continue to teach doctrines having the same immoral tendencies that it now does. This could not be done if it were not the fact that Satan, the arch deceiver, engineers it.
The Signs of the Times : February 3, 1888
The Spirit of Antichrist : No. 8
Some may think we have made a wildly extravagant statement in saying that the time is not far distant when the majority of professed Christians will be enrolled under the banner of Spiritualism, but we shall present ample proof to show that the so-called orthodox churches are even now ripe for Spiritualism, and wait only till it shall have put on a little more of the attire of Heaven, in order to accept it. In proof of this assertion, I shall quote only from those who are authorized to speak for the churches.
First, let it be remembered that with almost all the religious denominations of the world, the doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, is a cardinal point of faith; and we have shown that this doctrine is the corner-stone of Spiritualism, and that a belief in it logically tends to all the vagaries and abominations of heathen Spiritualism. A writer in the World’s Advance Thought, speaking of the phenomena of Spiritualism, says: —
“I can understand why materialists are unable to believe the possibility of such startling proofs of immortality; but why they should be called in question by Christians, when they come to prove the very foundation claim of their faith, and the one of all others which most taxes credulity, I cannot understand.”
That is, he can readily understand why Spiritualism is not accepted by those who do not believe in immortality at all; but he cannot see why those who believe in natural immortality for all men, and that there is no such thing as death, should refuse to accept the testimony which proves it. But we shall see that they are not so skeptical as some think.
A writer in New Thought, under the heading, “Who Are Spiritualists?” says: —
“As a matter of fact Spiritualists are found among the advocates of almost every system of religion, and all the peoples of the earth. It is received alike by orthodox and so-called heterodox Christians, by theists and deists, on its own testimony of facts. Thousands, who believe in a personal God and the divine inspiration of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, are as really Spiritualists as those who deny both . . ..
“Thousands do not think it necessary to leave their churches in order to consistently advocate the spiritual philosophy. Very many would be more active in the cause were it not for the wholesale denunciations of the churches, and of all Christian Spiritualists especially, by some who make themselves offensively conspicuous in our ranks, both as writers and speakers.”
That this is not the vain boasting of an enemy, who wishes to cast a reproach upon the churches, will be seen by what follows. We begin with the largest body of professed Christians, the Catholics. When Monsignor Capel, the famous agent of the Roman Propaganda, and sometime chaplain to Pope Pius IX, was lecturing in California, he had something of a discussion with one G. P. Colby, a Spiritualist. Colby set forth the beliefs of Spiritualism, and charged Capel with misrepresentation. The following is a part of the Chronicle’s account (Sept. 7, 1885) of the priest’s reply: —
“Monsignor Capel took up Mr. Colby’s chief statements seriatim. He at first expressed surprise that the latter had not tried to ascertain what he in the first place had said before replying to it. Much that was attributed to him was the merest parody of his real words. He was a believer in immortality. If he were not, the Catholic Church would not tolerate him within her bosom for a moment. It was brought against the Catholics that they believed themselves in daily communication with the angels and saints. But the angels and saints were spirits. To Catholics the spirit world was as clear as the light of a gas jet. They walked the streets accompanied by guardian angels. The dead were in their eyes disembodied spirits who surrounded the throne of God. They prayed to them as well as to the saints and angels. To say that they did not hold communication with the spirit world would be contrary to the whole evidence of the history of the church. Monsignor Capel denied that he had expressed a disbelief in spiritism. He had simply left out of the category of possible supernatural manifestations all biological phenomena. Aside from these, Spiritualism was but a misrepresentation of Catholic teaching, and it had been in the world from the beginning.”
Thus we find that, on the testimony of one of its foremost representatives, the Catholic Church is wholly Spiritualist. But we should know that without this testimony, for its prayers for and to the dead, and its host of “saints” to whom adoration is paid, are sufficient evidence of the fact. In his “Life of Pope Leo XIII.” (Page 44), Dr. Bernard O’Reilly says of the habit that Catholics have of naming their children after Scripture personages and churchmen: —
“It was thought, in the firm and universal belief of the real though invisible communion between the spiritual world of the blessed in Heaven and their brethren still struggling on earth, that the bestowing of these dear and honored names on children in baptism secured them special protectors in Heaven, and was to them a powerful motive, when grown to manhood and womanhood, to honor by Christian lives the sainted names they bore.”
And on page 83 he speaks of Stanislas Kostka as “the boy saint whom Catholic Poland reveres as its patron and protector in Heaven.” There is probably not a reader of these lines who could not from his own knowledge of the Catholic Church add many like evidences. So we have the great Roman Catholic Church as essentially a Spiritualist church, and claiming to be such. We turn now to Protestantism.
The Sunday Times has undoubtedly as wide a circulation as any religious journal in the land, and possibly larger than any other. It is undenominational, although its leading editor is a Methodist, but it is taken and read by Sunday-school teachers and scholars of all denominations, and among its correspondents are the leading divines and educators of both Europe and America. In an editorial in the issue of August 20, 1885, we find the following under the heading, “What Our Dead Do for Us:”—
“Much of the best work of the world is done through the present, personal influence of the dead. And in our estimate of the forces, which give us efficiency, we ought to assign a large place to the power over us, and in us, of loved ones whom we mourn as wholly removed from us. When death takes away one on whom we have leaned, . . . the temptation to us is to feel that his work for us is done, and that henceforth, while we live on here, we must live on without his presence or aid. Yet, as a practical fact, and as a great spiritual truth, our dead do for us as constantly and as variously as they could do for us if they were still here in flesh; and they do for us very much that they could not do unless they were dead.
“Some of the saintly faces of fathers and mothers, which are a benediction to all who look at them, could never have shone as now with the reflected light of Heaven, unless they had been summoned to frequent upward looking’s through the clouds, in loving communion with their children in Heaven. There are manly and womanly children, who are more serious and earnest and devoted in their young life struggles, because of their constant sense of the over watching presence of their dead parents . . .. And so the dead live on here, for, and with, and in, those who mourn and remember them as gone hence forever.”
“Our living friends do much for us, but perhaps our dead friends do yet more.”
“In the bitterness of our keenest grief over the loss of our loved ones, there may be the consoling thought that we do not lose the stimulus and the inspiration of their memories, nor part, even for the time being, with the more sacred influence of their example, and of their spiritual fellowship.”
The most ardent professed Spiritualist could not give utterance to more pronounced Spiritualist doctrine than this. The Sunday School Times has an “Open Letter” Department, in which correspondents may freely ask questions or express their opinions on any subject. It often contains sharp criticism on statements that have appeared in the paper, but no criticism on the sentiments quoted above, has ever appeared. On the contrary we have seen quite a number of commendatory notices of the article.
The California Christian Advocate of September 2, 1885, contained a letter from the editor, who was visiting in Oregon. In giving an account of his doings, he said: —
“We visited the cemetery, and enjoyed for a little while communion with the dead.”
The Advance, of Chicago, is the Congregationalist journal of the West, and is one of the leading church papers in the country. In the issue of July 9, 1885, the editor said: —
“God’s people never work alone. No child of his is ever left unaided. A great company which no man can number is sent forth to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation. Just what they do, or how they help, we may not know, but that they do help and interpose to protect and guide us, we surely believe.”
After referring to Heb. 1:14, which teaches that the angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation, the editor continues: —
“But are our departed friends among the number of those engaged in this ministry? Do those who have once lived in the flesh, and on this earth, form a part of this great host? A fair inference from the Scriptures will, it seems to us, give an affirmative answer to this question. We do not say that this is an authorized doctrine, but such inference is a fair one. No one has authority, either from nature or revelation, for the assertion that when the good die they cease to have any interest in the affairs of this world. [Compare Job 14:19-21.] The assumption that they never return to this earth is wholly unwarranted. Indeed, no one can be sure that they ever leave its busy scenes. They may simply pass beyond the range of our few senses. That ‘undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,’ is good Shakespeare, but it is not good Scripture.”
And the above extract from a Congregationalist journal is “good” Spiritualism. If it is not out and out Spiritualism, then there is no such thing. But we have more. The New York Observer is a staunch Presbyterian journal, one of the oldest and most influential in the United States. The following Spiritualist verses appeared in its issue of July 22, 1886: —
“How cheering the thought that spirits in bliss
Do bow their bright wings to a world such as this.
They leave the sweet joys of the mansions above,
To breathe ‘oer our bosoms the message of love.
“They come when that pilgrim has rested from woe,
To gild the dark couch of the mourner below.
They smile on the weeper, and brightly appears
The rainbow of hope through the mists of his tears.
“Oh, blessings upon them wherever they fly.
To brighten the earth or illumine the sky.
Heaven grant us, when parted from life and its cares,
A pinion of light, and a mission like theirs.”
No more direct Spiritualist doctrine was ever taught in any Spiritualist paper. Yet there are few professed Christian believers in the natural immortality of man, who would not call it orthodox. Then how far is the Christian world to day from Spiritualism? Who can tell?
The Signs of the Times : February 10, 1888