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VOL. XVII. JUNE 15, 1897. No. 12.
Views from the Watch Tower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Papacy Seeking National Prominence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
High-Church Opinion of Sectarianism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
“Overproduction of Ministers”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
What Say the Scriptures about Spiritism? —Proofs That it is Demonism . . . 177
Spirits Personating the Dead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Obsession at the First Advent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
The Gospel Sent to Europe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
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VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER
MANY were surprised that after the widely published announcement that Archbishop Corrigan (Roman Catholic) would take a prominent part in the recent dedication of the Grant Monument, and that he would pronounce the closing benediction,—he was afterward dropped from the arrangement and took no part. The explanation is now at hand. It appears that two of General Grant’s sisters caused the change of program. The Primitive Catholic says:—
“Mrs. Virginia Grant Corbin of Newark, and Mrs. J. Cramer of Orange, N.J., both sisters of General Grant, refused most emphatically to attend the ceremonies, if any Roman Catholic prelate should be called upon to bless the sarcophagus and utter any of his benedictions.
“Then the great men in Washington and New York, the generals and patriots composing the committee on ceremonies, exercised much diplomacy and cunning, animated into activity on account of their cringing fear of offending the popish politicians and their master, but it was all of no avail. Those two American women held out; no compromise was possible with the resolute stand they had taken. The committee was obliged to concede the palm of victory to them and avert a national scandal, consisting of a most flagrant breach of trust, against the memory of the dead soldier, against his family and the nation at large.”
PAPACY SEEKING NATIONAL PROMINENCE
During President Cleveland’s administration the Roman Catholic Church requested a grant of space on government ground at the United States Military Academy at West Point for the erection of a chapel. The permission was given, and forthwith foundations for a large church building were begun. But the press protested so vehemently against the providing of church sites by the general government that the permission was recalled and the work stopped.
The matter has come before the new administration, and it has decided that the church may be built; and that any other denomination desiring to build there shall also be granted a site; but the assumption is that not many Protestant denominations will accept the offer, since few of them would care to spend the money to build a structure that would compare favorably with the one now being started.
Romanism has for years been laboring to stamp its character and influence upon this government. To this end it has spent money liberally at our national Capitol—for the great Catholic College and other church institutions. This move on West Point is in the same line; for, altho comparatively few of the Cadets are Romanists, they recognize that influence upon them will be influence upon a class that some day will wield a pronounced influence in governmental affairs. They are zealous, too, in forwarding the interests of Catholic young men for admission to West Point. Protestants seem to think that Romanism has changed within the last century. She has changed her tactics, but not her principles; and that because she was losing her hold: she changed so as to take a fresh hold on the people’s liberties. She will be a prominent figure in the time of trouble and will have the cooperation of many “Protestants” in efforts to maintain “the present social order.” Both Protestants and Romanists have for some time been moving to have the United States declared to be a “Christian nation;” and having at last unitedly succeeded, as represented in the decision of the United States Supreme Court, Romanism will be crafty enough to grasp her full share of the power.
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HIGH-CHURCH OPINION OF SECTARIANISM
The rector of St. Ignatius’ Protestant Episcopal Church, New York City, Rev. Arthur Ritchie, edits a monthly church journal. In a recent issue of this paper appears an editorial of which the following is an extract:—
“As a matter of fact, could anything be more utterly contemptible than the great American sects? We do not refer to respectable religions, like the Presbyterian and the Lutheran, the fruit of the travail of the sixteenth century, but such low, time-serving, ignorant superstitions as the Baptist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the like. In the East these parvenu folk do not dare to raise their heads, or, if they do, they are laughed at for their pains. But no doubt in the West it is different, and quite possibly there a Baptist Minister or a Methodist minister may consider himself as on an equality with the Church clergyman! Should this be the case, a little ‘arrogance’ and ‘superciliousness’ would be very useful and highly commendable. Those who boast that they derive their office from the people should be made to know, if not to feel, that they are removed by an infinite chasm from those who derive their mysterious powers from above and are the vicegerents of heaven.
“Of course, in matters non-ecclesiastical there should be Christian politeness shown to every one according to his position in life; but even in such matters dissenting ministers should be made to feel their inferiority.
This minister and editor is not well posted. We can assure him that some Methodist and Baptist congregations have in recent years come nearer to his conceptions of true Christianity,—i.e., become more arrogant and supercilious, and nearer to the Scriptural description of the Laodicean stage of the Church—rich, increased in goods and having need of nothing; and knowing not that they are poor, blind, miserable and naked.—Rev. 3:16-19.
We much regret that all of the arrogance, etc., is not confined to Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Lutherans: and we trust that the truly meek and humble in every quarter of Babylon will give earnest heed to the Lord’s words, “Come out of her my people; that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her [chastisements] plagues.”—Rev. 18:4.
THE “OVERPRODUCTION OF MINISTERS”
Not long since The Evening Post (N.Y.) published an article advocating “A Society for the Decrease of the Ministry.” Some of the arguments for fewer ministers were: “the all-pervasive restlessness and discontent” of the ministry, so great that “a prominent officer of a missionary society is reported to have said that in all his visitations of the clergy of a certain State he had failed to discover a single incumbent who did not wish to make a change;” “the underlying anxiety for prospective bread and butter;” the disgraceful “scramble for place,” so that “a certain Congregational church in Connecticut, with by no means an inviting future, received not less than two hundred and fifty applications, scattered all the way from Maine to California;” the existence of a “dead line” beyond fifty years of age; and the growing “commercial basis of modern church life.”
This question, started in England, is being much discussed here also. The World (N.Y.) has interviewed some of the leading ministers and college professors on the subject, and we subjoin extracts from some of their replies:—
The President of Andover Seminary, Rev. George Harris, D.D., said,—”It is undoubtedly true that the ranks of the ministry are at present overcrowded. The number of unemployed clergymen is increased somewhat by reason of the protracted depression of business. Some of the small churches are not able to pay a living salary, and the missionary societies are obliged to reduce their working forces.”
Rev. Dr. George Hodges of Episcopal Theological School, Harvard University, says,—”It is true that every desirable vacant parish is pursued by an eager crowd of parsons, some of them being out of employment, others being discontented with their cures. It is true also that after middle life many ministers find the door of opportunity shut in their faces.”
“Rev. Lewis W. Mudge, D.D., Princeton, N.J., says,—”The spirit of unrest so manifest in churches and among ministers is seen also in other professions and in business circles, and is the outcome of financial and social conditions.”
Prof. Edward L. Curtis, Yale Theological Seminary, says,—”The complaint that there is an over-supply of ministers might be made of any of the learned
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professions as much as of the ministry.
“I do believe, however, that such schools as the Moody School and others of that kind, where only the English branches are taught, have had a tendency to send men into the ministry only partially equipped for the work, and that it has had a tendency to bring about a competition not desirable.”
Dr. James O. Murray, Dean of Princeton University, says,—”What the Church wants is a higher intellectual standard. There are too many men in the ministry that could not prosper at anything else and do not succeed here.”
Rev. Dr. John Hall said,—”Regarding an over-supply of ministers much may be said that is true, but no more true than of other professions. … What we need in the nation is not a reduction in the number of ministers, but an increase of spiritual power, of fidelity to the Master, of the teaching and preaching of the glorious gospel, and of reliance on the guidance of the holy spirit in the hearts of people and pastors.”
We agree with Dr. Hall, that there are not too many ministers of the right kind: there are merely too many professional ministers. Every fully consecrated,
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humble Christian is a member of the “royal priesthood,” commissioned to minister (serve) the truth to all who have ears to hear; to be ambassadors for God; to show forth the praises of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Such were the ministers of the primitive Church, and there cannot be too many of these God-ordained ministers of the Sanctuary, who labor not for filthy lucre’s sake, but gather fruit unto eternal life and await the Master’s—”Well done, good and faithful servant [minister], enter into the joys of thy Lord.”
The harvest is great and such laborers are far too few. Pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth more laborers into his vineyard; and seek and pray that you yourself may be one of them. Of such ministers it is written: “They shall be all taught of God.”
The Salvation Army in Great Britain has recently had a “self-denial week,” the results of which are announced to be $124,000. This is the second week of the kind within a year. When returns are received from other parts of the world it is expected that the total will be a quarter of a million dollars.
We greatly admire the zeal of the “Army,” and recommend that special efforts be made to put “present truth” before them favorably. We wonder whether clearer knowledge of the Lord and his goodness and gracious plan would lead them as it ought to redoubled energy in the service of so gracious a Master, or whether it would cool their ardor and self-denial. The truth is a crucial test of our consecration, true love and devotion to our Lord. He seeketh such as worship and serve him in spirit and in truth—from love, not from fear. Let each reader ask himself, How is it with me?
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WHAT SAY THE SCRIPTURES ABOUT SPIRITISM?
—PROOFS THAT IT IS DEMONISM—
THAT which we believe to be the truth respecting Spiritism is antagonized from two standpoints. (1) The majority of people have no confidence in Spiritism, but believe its claimed manifestations and proofs are fraudulent. (2) An increasingly large number are disposed to deny the existence of the evil spirit beings called demons, and of the prince of demons, called in the Scriptures the Devil and Satan.
Rev. Adam Clark, D.D., has well said,—
“Satan knows well that those who deny his being will not be afraid of his power and influence; will not watch against his wiles and devices; will not pray to God for deliverance from the Evil One; will not expect him to be trampled down under their feet, if he has no existence; and, consequently, they will become an easy and unopposing prey to the enemy of their souls. By leading men to disbelieve and deny his existence, he throws them off their guard. He is then their complete master, and they are led captive by him at his will. It is well known that among all those who make any profession of religion, those who deny the existence of the Devil, are those who pray little or none at all; and are, apparently, as careless about the existence of God as they are about the being of the Devil. Duty to God is with them out of the question; for those who do not pray, especially in private,—and I never saw a devil-denier who did,—have no religion of any kind, except the form, whatever pretensions they may choose to make.”
If it be asked how Spiritism could do injury to those who consider its claims to be deceptions and frauds and its votaries to be dupes, we answer that a large majority of its votaries are those who at one time thoroughly and heartily denied its claims and considered them impositions. Those who most thoroughly disbelieve in Spiritism are often the most ready to test its professed claims; and when convinced that many of its claims are genuine and many of its manifestations supernatural, these former disbelievers are more liable to become its devotees: whereas, if they had known just what Spiritism is, and how and by what power it operates, they would be on guard, and their judgment would have a support and guidance which it otherwise lacks. It is the lack of the true knowledge of Spiritism (imparted through the Scriptures and confirmed by indisputable evidences from outside the Scriptures) which causes so many to fall a prey to this delusion.
True, there are frauds committed in the name of Spiritism; but these are chiefly in connection with attempted “materializations.” That Spiritists have done and can do, through some power or agency, many wonderful works beyond the power of man, has been abundantly proved in a variety of cases—some of them before scientific men, total unbelievers. Tambourines have been played while in the air beyond the reach of human hand and suspended by some invisible power; chairs have been lifted into the air while people were sitting upon them, and without any connection with any visible power or agency; mediums have been floated through the air, etc. The rapping tests, the table-tipping tests, the autograph tests and the slate-writing tests have been proved over and over again, to the satisfaction of hundreds of intelligent people in various parts of the world. And Spiritism reckons amongst its adherents judges, lawyers, business-men and numbers of women of ability. These people have tested the claims of Spiritism and have candidly avowed their
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faith in it. And it is unwise, to say the least, to sneer at such as fools or knaves—fools if simply deluded by tricks and slight of hand; knaves if they are willingly and knowingly lending their time and influence to the perpetration of frauds.
The writer was inclined to be skeptical with reference to all the various claims of Spiritism until convinced to the contrary by a Christian man, in whose testimony he was justified in having full confidence. This friend was not a believer in Spiritism but, being thrown into the company of some Spiritists for an evening, the suggestion was made, “Let us have a seance.” The company present assented; our friend remaining from curiosity. They sat down to a table, placed their hands upon it in the usual manner, and one of the number present being a medium inquired, “Are there any spirits present?” The answer indicated by raps upon the table—one for A, two for B, three for C, etc., spelled out the information that spirits were present, but that they would hold no communication that evening. The medium asked “Why?” The answer rapped out was, “Because new mediums are being appointed all over the United States.” The company was disappointed and through the medium asked that as a test the name of some prominent person dying that night should be communicated. The request was complied with and the name of a Russian dignitary, which we cannot now recall, was spelled out. This was before the Atlantic cable was laid, and my friend, anxious to test the matter, kept watch of the newspapers and finally, nearly a month after (the time requisite for Russian mails in those days) he saw the announcement of the death of the Russian notable bearing that very name.
Our friend was convinced that Spiritism was not all a “hoax,” and was anxious for another meeting. When it took place, in view of the answer at the previous meeting, the medium inquired, “Are there any mediums present? and, if so, how many?” The answer was, “Four.” The medium asked the spirit to please indicate which four of those present were mediums, and as each one called his name the mediums were indicated by a rap upon the table, by some invisible agent. Our friend was one of those indicated and right proud he felt of the honor. This occurred in Wheeling, W.Va. Shortly after he came to Allegheny, Pa., and visited an aunt, a widow, who with her family resided here. Anxious to display his newly conferred powers as a medium, he asked his aunt and her daughter to join him in a “seance.” They were surprised, and the daughter said, “Why, are you a medium? I am a rapping medium also, brother Harry is a tipping medium and mother is a writing and trance medium.” Our friend had never witnessed the powers of any but rapping mediums, and was very anxious that his aunt
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should display the powers of her mediumship, and was shown writing done by her which was an exact facsimile of his dead uncle’s autograph upon checks. And strange, too, his uncle wrote a fine hand, while his aunt could not write at all, except under this influence.
Wishing to test her powers as a talking medium, the three surrounded a small table, and the aunt called for a spirit to communicate through her. The answer given was that there would be no communication, because there were no unbelievers present to convince. They persisted, however, and got the aunt to call again for the spirit. The answer this time was that her hands were forcibly lifted from the table and brought down upon it with a bang. This was something surprising to them all. The spirits evidently were provoked at the pertinacity of a second call after their refusal. But after discussing the matter for some ten minutes our friend prevailed upon his aunt to call again for the spirits and see what else would happen. She complied, and in response her hands were lifted from the table and brought down with fearful concussion, three times in rapid succession, sounding as tho every bone would be broken; and with her eyes staring out wildly and shrieking Oh! Oh! Oh! she jumped from the table in a semi-delirious condition.
That spirit, whoever it may have been, was evidently angry and wanted it understood that it could not be trifled with. Our friend informs us that never after that would his aunt have anything to do with Spiritism as a medium—she had caution enough to let it alone. But our friend was anxious to witness the powers of a “tipping medium,” and in the evening when his cousin Harry came home he insisted on having an exhibition of his mediumship. Harry complied and amongst other tests was the following:—He placed a small, light table in the center of the floor and said, “I call for the spirit of our old dog Dash to come into this table.” Then addressing the table he said, “Come Dash!” The table balanced itself on two feet and hobbled after him around the room.
I should here remark that our friend who vouches for these matters will no longer exercise any of his powers as a medium. He is a prominent Christian man now living in this city: his views with reference to Spiritism are now the same that we are here endeavoring to present.
The claim of Spiritists is, that these manifestations and communications from unseen intelligences are from human beings, who once lived in this world, but who, when seeming to die really became more alive, more intelligent, freer, and every way more capable and competent than they had ever been before. It is claimed that the purpose of these manifestations is to prove
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that the dead are not dead, but alive;—that there is no need of a resurrection of the dead, because there are no dead;—the dead being more alive than ever, after passing into what is termed death. We shall not stop here to show how inharmonious all this is to the testimony of Scripture upon this subject, but merely cite the reader to the Word of the Lord; reminding him that, “If there be no resurrection of the dead, … then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”—1 Cor. 15:13,18; Job 14:21; Psa. 146:4; Eccl. 9:5,6.
Here is the point of infatuation. As soon as the unbeliever in Spiritism has been convinced that an unseen intelligence communicates through the medium he is all interest. Nothing else offers such proofs from invisible sources as does Spiritism; and many seem not only willing but anxious to walk by sight rather than by faith. Every one has friends who have died, and thousands are anxious to communicate with them if possible, and to receive from them some message or some advice. It is not surprising, therefore, to find people greatly absorbed in these matters, and very willing to be directed by those whom they esteem their truest friends and most competent advisers.
They visit a medium for the purpose of holding communication with the dead. The medium describes the hair, the eyes, etc., and certain little peculiarities, such as a mole or an injured or deformed finger or foot (which the father or son or sister or wife identifies as the description of the loved one deceased) and delivers a message which, however vague or indefinite, is construed to be very important. The novices are filled with a sort of reverent joy mixed with a humble feeling of the inferiority of their own condition, and with a pride that they have been counted worthy to receive communications from “the spirit world,” while so many good and great people are not so favored, but are “blind to the wonderful facts of Spiritism.” The feelings thus started are somewhat akin to some kinds of religious feelings, and straightway the “converts” are ready to believe and obey the advice and instructions of those whom they believe to be so much wiser and holier than themselves, and so deeply interested in their welfare, present and eternal, as to leave the joys and ministries of heaven to commune with them and instruct them.
The majority of people have no true Christian faith built upon the foundation of the Word of God: they have a wish for a future life, and a hope with reference to their dead, rather than a faith with reference to either. As a consequence, their minds being convinced that they have had communication with those beyond the grave, everything relating to the future life becomes more real and more interesting to them than ever before. And many such, wholly ignorant of religious feelings, say to themselves, Now I know what it is to have faith, and a religious feeling with reference to the future, and they congratulate themselves that they have received a great spiritual blessing.
But this is only the first lesson, and these comparatively uplifting experiences belong chiefly to it. Later experiences will demonstrate, as all Spiritists will freely acknowledge, that there are “evil spirits,” “lying spirits,” which time and again deceive them; and the messages and revelations, often foolish and nonsensical, gradually lead the investigator to a disbelief of the Bible and the Creator, while it teaches and exalts “the spirits” as the only sources of knowledge aside from nature; and thus the way is paved toward advanced lessons on “spirit-affinities,” “free love,” etc. But after the first deception and shaking of confidence the explanation that there are “both good and bad spirits” is generally satisfactory; and the poor victim follows blindly on, because assured that he communes with some supernatural power.
As an illustration of this we mention the case of an old gentleman, a Pittsburger, an avowed Spiritist and an earnest defender of Spiritism. We knew something of his history through a mutual friend; how that, while holding a communication through a medium, supposedly his “evoluted” wife, the latter said to him: “John, I am perfectly happy only for one thing; and that is on your account.” He answered, “O Mary, do not allow my affairs to mar your bliss! I am comparatively happy for an old man and comparatively comfortable.” But the answer came, “O no, John, I know better. I know that you are lonely, very lonely, that you miss me very much, and are suffering from lack of many little attentions; and that your home is comparatively dreary.” Mr. N. had full confidence in Mary’s judgment, and the message carried great weight; and his home and its affairs gradually grew less happifying, and he gradually grew dissatisfied; and so at a subsequent “seance” he inquired of Mary what he could do that would relieve her burden and make her bliss complete. She replied that he should find a suitable companion and re-marry. But the old gentleman (seventy years old) objected that even if he could find a suitable companion, such a one would not have him. But at frequent interviews the supposed spirit of his wife insisted, and as he thought further over the matter he grew more lonely, and finally asked Mary to choose for him, as she had so much better judgment than any earthly being could have on the subject. The medium affected great indignation at the answer, and would not communicate it at first. The more she objected to giving the answer, the more anxious Mr. N. became to have it, and finally the medium explained that the spirit of his wife had said that Mr. N. should marry
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her (the medium); but that she was indignant that the spirit should think that she would marry an old man like him.
But the more Mr. N. thought the matter over the more he was inclined to be, as he supposed, led by the good spirit of his wife into ways of pleasantness and into paths of peace; and he urged upon the medium that it was the duty of humanity to obey the behests of their best friends in the “spirit world.” Finally the medium consented that if he would deed over to her what property he possessed she would agree to follow the directions of the spirit and marry him. The matter was consummated in legal form, and Mr. N. with his medium wife and her daughter proposed to make the formerly cold and cheerless home of Mr. N. all that his spirit-wife had wished for him. It was a very short time, however, before the poor old gentleman was very glad to abandon home and all, to get free from the two “she-devils,” as he afterward knew them.
But did not this shake the confidence of Mr. N. in Spiritism? By no means. He merely communicated with his wife again through another medium and was informed that a lying spirit had misrepresented her entirely and that she had given no such bad advice. Knowing these facts concerning his history when we met him shortly after, and he tried to urge upon the writer the claims of Spiritism, we said to him, “Mr. N., we will admit that Spiritism is backed by some
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super-human phenomena, but we deny that the powers which communicate represent themselves truthfully. They claim to be friends and relatives who once lived in this world, but the Scriptures assure us to the contrary of this that there is no work or knowledge or device in the grave, and that the dead know not anything. (Eccl. 9:5,10.) They declare that the only hope of a future life is by a resurrection from the dead. You know, Mr. N., that whatever these powers may be which claim to be the spirits of your friends, their testimony is entirely unreliable. You cannot believe their most solemn declarations. They are what the Scriptures term “lying spirits.” We proceeded to give him, as we are about to give in this article, the identity of these spirits as set forth in the Scriptures. He heartily assented that some of the spirits were unreliable, “thoroughly bad,” but claimed that others were very good, very truthful, and had frequently given good advice which had been very helpful to him.
It is claimed by many Spiritists, especially by novices, that the influence of Spiritism is elevating; but those who have passed through the various stages of experience in this so called religious system have found, and have publicly declared, that its influence is quite the reverse of elevating—it is demoralizing.
The method of operation is explained by The Banner of Light, a leading Spiritist paper, in answer to the query, thus:—
“Q. Where a spirit controls the hand of a medium to write, is the impression always made through the brain?
“A. Sometimes the control is what is termed mechanical control; then the connection between arm and brain is entirely severed, and yet the manifestation is made through what is called the nervous fluids, a certain portion of which is retained in the arm for the purpose of action. But when the manifestation is what is called an impressional manifestation, then the brain and entire nervous system is used.”
Explaining the difference between Mesmerism and spirit control, another journal, the Spiritual Age, says:
“Suppose I magnetize you to day; and that I, the mesmerizer, speak, write, act through you, you being unconscious;—this is Mesmerism. Suppose, further, that I die tonight; and that, to-morrow, I, a spirit, come and magnetize you, and then speak, write, act through you; this is Spiritualism [Spiritism].”
The value of Spiritism to the world is thus summed up by the well known Horace L. Hastings:—
“According to the theory of Spiritualists there are a hundred times as many disembodied spirits about us as there are men in the flesh. Among them are all the poets, authors, orators, musicians and inventors of past ages. They know all they ever knew when they were in the flesh, and have been learning a great deal more since; and with their added powers and extended experience they should be able to do what mortals have never done before. They have had free access to the public mind and public press, with no end of mediums ready to receive their communications, and thousands and thousands of inquirers who have anxiously questioned them, and earnestly desired to obtain information from them. They have had tables and slates and pens and pencils and banjos and pianos and cabinets and bells and violins and guitars; and what have we to show for it all? Their business in this world has been to instruct men, to help them, to make them wiser and better. They have talked and rapped, they have tipped and rattled, they have fiddled and scribbled, they have materialized and dematerialized, they have entranced and exhibited; they have told us many things which we knew before; many things which we do not know yet; and many other things which it was no matter whether we knew or not; but when we come to real instruction, reliable information, or profitable and valuable knowledge. Spiritualism is as barren as Sahara, as empty as a hollow gourd.”
WHO ARE THESE SPIRITS WHICH PERSONATE THE DEAD?
We have in the Scriptures most abundant and most positive testimony that no communication could come from the dead until after the resurrection. Furthermore, we have positive Scripture testimony (1) that not only some, but all, of these spirits are “evil spirits,” “lying spirits,” “seducing spirits.” The Scriptures forbid that humanity should seek to these
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for information, and clearly inform us that these demons or “devils” are “those angels which kept not their first estate,”—some of the angels to whom was committed the supervision of mankind in the period before the flood, for the purpose of permitting them to endeavor to lift mankind out of sin; that by their failure all might learn that there is but one effectual remedy for sin; viz., that provided in Christ. These angels, instead of uplifting humanity, were themselves enticed into sin, and misused the power granted them, of materializing in human form, to start another race. (Gen. 6:1-6.) Their illicit progeny, was blotted out with the flood, and themselves were thereafter restrained from the liberty of assuming physical bodies, as well as isolated from the holy angels who had kept their angelic estate inviolate.
The Apostle Peter (2 Pet. 2:4) mentions these, saying, “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Jude (6) also mentions this class, saying, “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation [proper condition] he hath reserved in everlasting chains—under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Notice three points with reference to these evil angels.
(1) They are imprisoned in Tartarus, restrained, but not destroyed. Tartarus is nowhere else rendered “hell,” but in this one passage. It does not signify the grave, neither does it signify the Second Death, symbolized by the “lake of fire and brimstone;” but it does signify the air or atmosphere of earth.
(2) They have some liberties in this imprisoned condition, yet they are chained, or restrained, in one respect—they are not permitted to exercise their powers in the light being “under chains of darkness.”
(3) This restriction was to continue until “the judgment of the great day,” the great Millennial Day—in all a period of over 4000 years. As we are now in the dawning of the Millennial Day—”the great day”—it is possible that this should be understood to mean that some of these limitations as to “darkness” may ere long be removed, gradually. If so, if the “chains of darkness” should be released, it would permit these evil spirits to work deceptions or “lying wonders” in the daylight (as they are now attempting to do) to the delusion of mankind more than ever has been known since the flood.
These fallen angels, or demons, are not to be confounded with Satan the prince of demons, or devils, whose evil career began long before—who was the first, and for a long time the only, enemy of the divine government; who, having been created an angel of a superior order, sought to establish himself as a rival to the Almighty, and to deceive and ensnare Adam and his race to be his servants; and to a large extent, for a time at least, he has succeeded, as all know. As “the prince of this world,” who “now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience,” he has indeed a very multitudinous host of deceived and enslaved followers. Naturally he would appreciate the deflection of the “angels who kept not their first estate,” and who were restrained at the time of the flood; and hence he is spoken of as their chief, “the prince of devils;” and no doubt as a superior order of being he exercises some degree of control over the others.
These fallen angels, “demons,” have probably very little to interest them amongst themselves;—evil beings apparently always prefer to make game of the purer, and apparently take pleasure in corrupting and degrading them. The history of these demons, as given in the Scriptures, would seem to show that the evil concupiscence which led to their fall, before the flood, still continues with them. They still have their principal pleasure in that which is lascivious and degrading; and the general tendency of their influence upon mankind is toward working mischief against the well-disposed, and the debauchery of those over whom they gain absolute control.
We are well aware that many Christian people have reached the conclusion that the Lord and the apostles were deceived, when they attributed to the works of demons conduct that is now considered human propensity and mental unbalance and fits. But all should admit that if our Lord was in error on this subject, his teachings would be an unsafe guide upon any subject.
Notice the personality and intelligence attributed to these demons in the following Scriptures—”Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; devils also believe and tremble.” (Jas. 2:19.) Do human propensities “believe and tremble?” The demons said to our Lord, “Thou art Christ, the Son of God! And he, rebuking them, suffered them not to speak [further], for they knew that he was Christ.” (Luke 4:41.) Another said, “Jesus I know and Paul I know, but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15.) The young woman from whom Paul cast out the spirit of soothsaying and divination (Acts 16:16-19) is a good illustration. Can it be claimed by any that the Apostle deprived the woman of any proper talent or power? Must it not be confessed to have been a spirit which possessed and used her body?—an evil spirit unfit to be tolerated there?
Many of those who claim that the demons of the Scriptures were the spirits of wicked men and women who died, and that these are the “lying spirits” acknowledged by Spiritists, have still another difficulty;—for generally they claim that the spirits of wicked dead
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go to hell-torments, as they wrongly interpret sheol
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and hades to mean.* If so, how could they be so much at liberty?
*See “What Say the Scriptures About Hell?” a pamphlet in which every text of Scripture containing the word hell is cited and examined in the light of Scripture and reason, together with other Scriptures and parables supposed to teach eternal torment. Price 10 cents. For sale by WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY, Allegheny, Pa.
“Witchcraft,” “Necromancy,” the “Black art,” “Sorcery,” etc., are supposed by many to be wholly delusions. But when we find that they had a firm hold upon the Egyptians, and that God made special provision against them with Israel, we are satisfied that he made no such restrictions either against that which is good, or against that which had no existence whatever. The instruction to Israel was very explicit: they should not have any communion nor make any inquiries through necromancers (those who claimed to speak for the dead; i.e., spirit-mediums); nor with any wizard or witch; nor with any who had occult powers, charms; nor with those who work miracles by means of sorcery and incantation.—Read carefully all of the following Scriptures,—Exod. 22:18; Deut. 18:9-12; Lev. 19:31; 20:6,27; 2 Kings 21:2,6,9,11; 1 Chron. 10:13,14; Acts 16:16-18; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8; Isa. 8:19,20; 19:3.
The Bible story of King Saul’s “seance” with the witch of Endor, a necromancer or spirit-medium, as related in 1 Sam. 28:7-20, is an illustration of what is claimed to be performed to-day. Altho the law with reference to these mediums was very strict and the punishment death, there were some who were willing to risk their lives because of the gains which could thus be obtained from people who believed that they were obtaining supernatural information from their dead friends—just as with spirit-mediums to-day. King Saul was well aware that there were numerous of these mediums residing in Israel contrary to the divine injunction and his own law, and his servants apparently had no difficulty in finding the one at Endor. Saul disguised himself for the interview, but no doubt the crafty woman knew well the stately form of Saul—head and shoulders taller than any other man in Israel. (1 Sam. 9:2.) Hence her particularity to secure a promise and oath from his own lips that no harm should befall her for the service.
The methods used by the evil spirits through the medium at Endor were similar to those in use to-day. They caused to pass before the medium’s mental vision the familiar likeness of the aged prophet, Samuel, wearing as was his custom, a long mantle. When she described the mental (or “astral?”) picture, Saul recognized it at once as a description of Samuel; but Saul himself saw nothing—he “perceived,” from the description, that it was Samuel. Easily convinced, as people under such circumstances usually are, Saul did not stop to question how it could be that Samuel looked as old and as stooped as he looked in the present life, if he was now a spirit being and far better off; nor did he inquire why he wore the same old mantle in the spirit world that he had worn when he knew him as an earthly being. Saul had been forsaken by the Lord and was now easily deceived by these “lying spirits,” who personated the prophet and spoke to Saul in his name, through their “medium,” the witch, necromancer, Spiritist.
The fallen spirits are not only well-informed in respect to all the affairs of earth, but they are adepts in deceit. In answering Saul, the manner and style, and as nearly as could be judged the sentiments of the dead prophet were assumed—the better to deceive. (Thus these “lying spirits” always seek to counterfeit the face manner and disposition of the dead.) The response was, “Why hast thou disquieted me to bring me up?” This answer corresponds to the Jewish belief—that when a person died he became unconscious in “sheol,” the grave, waiting for a resurrection. (Job 14:12-15,21; Psa. 90:3; Eccl. 9:5,6.) Hence the representation is that Samuel was brought up from the grave, and not down from heaven; and that his rest or peaceful “sleep” was disturbed or “disquieted.”—Psa. 13:3; Job 14:12; Psa. 90:5; John 11:11,14.
Saul was easily deceived into thinking that the Prophet Samuel who had refused to visit him to have any further converse with him while alive, had been forced to commune with him, by the wonderful powers of the witch. (See 1 Sam. 15:26,35.) Saul’s own testimony was, “God is departed from me and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams.”—1 Sam. 28:6,15.
Any rightly informed person will readily see the absurdity of supposing that Samuel would hold any conference whatever with Saul under the circumstance. (1) Samuel (when living) was aware that God had forsaken Saul, and hence Samuel had no right to speak to him and no right to give him any information which the Lord was unwilling to give him. And Samuel would not do so. (2) It is thoroughly absurd to suppose that a spirit-medium under condemnation of the Lord and prohibited of the right of residence in the land of Israel could have the power at the instance of a wicked king, whom God had deserted, to “disquiet” Samuel and to bring him “up” out of sheol. Was Samuel down in the earth, or was he afar off in heaven? and had the witch the power in either case to command him to present himself before King Saul to answer his question? Or is it reasonable to suppose that any spirit-mediums have the power to “disquiet” and “bring up” or in any other manner cause the dead
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to appear to answer the speculative questions of the living?
The “familiar spirit” of the witch, personating Samuel, foretold nothing which Saul himself did not anticipate. Saul knew that God’s word had been passed that the kingdom should be taken from him and his family, and he had sought the witch because of his fear of the Philistine hosts in battle array for the morrow. He expected no mercy for himself and his family, God having told him that David would be his successor. He even anticipated, therefore, the statement which was the only feature connected with this story that indicates in any degree a supernatural knowledge; viz., “To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.” The well-informed demons knew full better than did Saul the strength of the Philistines’ position and army, and the weakness of Saul’s position and army, and that he himself was already panic stricken and making this inquiry of the witch-medium because he was distracted at the situation. Any one familiar with the warfare of that time would know (1) that one day’s battle would probably settle the question; and (2) that the death of the king and his household would be the only logical result. Nevertheless, the “familiar spirit” erred, for two of Saul’s sons escaped and lived for years. It is even denied by scholars that the battle and the death of Saul occurred for several days after the visit to the witch.
It is not surprising that Satan and the fallen angels, his consorts in evil, should know considerably more than do men, concerning many of life’s affairs. We must remember that by nature they are a higher, more intelligent order than men; for man was made “a little lower than the angels” (Psa. 8:5): besides, let us remember their thousands of years of experience, unimpaired by decay and death, as compared with man’s “few years and full of trouble,” soon cut off in death. Can we wonder that mankind cannot cope with the cunning of these “wicked spirits,” and that our only safety lies in the divine provision that each one who so wills may refuse to have any communication with these demons? The Word of the Lord is, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas. 4:7.) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring [angry] lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith.”—1 Pet. 5:8,9.
But while able to tell things past and present, these evil intelligences are quite unable to do more than guess at the future. Yet these guesses are often so skillfully stated as to satisfy the inquirer and yet appear true, if the result should be the opposite of his expectation. Thus the oracle of Delphi having been consulted by Croesus demonstrated to him a super-human knowledge of present things, and when he, having thus gained confidence in it, inquired through its mediums, “whether he should lead an army against the Persians,” the answer as recorded by Herodotus the historian was, “By crossing the Halys, Croesus will destroy a mighty power!” Relying upon this, Croesus attacked the Persians and was defeated. His own mighty power was destroyed! History is full of such evidences that the demons know not the future; and God’s Word challenges all such, saying,—
“Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth and show us what shall happen. Let them show the former things [things before or to come what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods.”—Isa. 41:21,23.
But where was Samuel the prophet, if Saul would be with him the day following? Clearly the meeting place would not be heaven, for wicked Saul was surely unfit to enter there (John 3:5); nor could the meeting be in a place of flames and torment, for surely Samuel was not in such a place. No; the “familiar spirit” spoke to Saul from the standpoint of the general faith of that time, taught by Samuel and all the patriarchs and prophets,—namely, that all who die, good and bad
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alike, go to sheol, the grave, the state of death, the sleep from which naught can awaken except the resurrection power of Michael, the arch-angel (Dan. 12:1,2);—except it were claimed that the witch’s “familiar spirit” could awaken the dead in advance,—but this, as we are showing, was a deception, a fraud, the “lying spirit” personating the dead and answering for Samuel.
Of this passage Charles Wesley wrote—
“What do these solemn words portend?
A gleam of hope when life shall end?—
Thou and thy sons shall surely be
To-morrow in repose with me:—
Not in a state of hellish pain,
If Saul with Samuel remain;
Not in a state of damned despair,
If loving Jonathan be there.”
One remarkable thing in connection with the manifestations of these fallen angels, or “demons,” is that people of ordinary common sense are so easily deceived by them and accept such flimsy proofs respecting the dead, which they would not accept respecting the living. The inquirer will accept through the medium a description which fits to the individual and his manner, clothing and appearance years before, and will hold sacred a message purporting to come from him, whereas the same individual would be more on guard against deception by a living impostor, and his message through a servant.
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The mention in the Scriptures of these necromancers, witches and mediums, leads us to infer that through mediums they were for centuries seeking fellowship with the Israelites. But it is apparently the custom to change the manner of manifestation from time to time: just as witchcraft flourished for a time in New England and Ohio, and throughout Europe, and then died out and has been succeeded by Spiritism, whose tipping and rapping manifestations are gradually giving way to others, clairaudience and materialization being now the chief endeavors, the latter, being very difficult and the conditions often unfavorable, are often accompanied by mediumistic assistance and fraud.
OBSESSION AT THE FIRST ADVENT
In the days of our Lord and the early Church the method of operations on the part of these demons had changed somewhat from the practices in the days of Saul, and we read nothing in the New Testament about witches, wizards and necromancy, but a great deal about persons possessed by devils—obsession. Apparently there were great numbers thus possessed throughout the land of Israel: many cases are mentioned in which our Lord cast out devils; and the power to cast them out was one of those conferred upon the twelve apostles, and afterward upon the seventy that were sent out. The same power was possessed and exercised by the Apostle Paul.—See Luke 9:1; 10:11; Acts 13:8-11; 16:18.
Mary Magdelene, we remember, had been possessed of seven devils (Luke 8:2), and being set free from their control, she became a very loyal servant of the Lord. Another instance is mentioned in which a legion of spirits had taken possession of one man. (Luke 8:30; 4:35,36,41.) No wonder that his poor brain, assaulted and operated upon by a legion of different minds, would be demented. This tendency of these fallen spirits to congregate in one person indicates the desire they have still to exercise the power originally given them; namely, the power to materialize as men. Deprived of this power they apparently have comparatively rare opportunities of getting possession of human beings. Apparently the human will must consent before these evil spirits have power to take possession. But when they do take possession apparently the will power is so broken down, that the individual is almost helpless to resist their presence and further encroachment, even tho he so desires. Our Lord intimates such a condition (Matt. 12:43-45), suggesting that, even after an evil spirit had been cast out and the heart swept and garnished, if it were still empty, there would be danger of the return of the evil spirit with others to re-possess themselves of the man;—hence the necessity for having Christ enthroned within, if we would be kept for the Master’s use, and be used in his service.
Apparently these evil spirits have not the power to impose themselves, even upon dumb animals, until granted some sort of permission; for, when the “legion” was commanded to come out of the man whom they possessed, they requested as a privilege that they might have possession of the bodies of a herd of swine; and the swine being according to the law unclean to the Jew, and unlawful to eat, the Lord permitted them to have possession of them, doubtless foreseeing the results, and with a view to giving us this very lesson.
The same Apostle who speaks of these evil spirits as “lying wonders” and “seducing spirits” (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Thes. 2:9; compare Ezek. 13:6; 1 Kings 22:22,23) tells us that the heathen sacrificed to these demons. (1 Cor. 10:20.) And so, indeed, we find that in various parts of the world there are demon manifestations. Amongst the Chinese these demon powers are frequently recognized, and sacrifices are offered to them; so also in India and in Africa. Amongst the North American Indians in their savage state these evil spirits operated after much the same manner as elsewhere. An illustration is given by Missionary Brainard in a “Report to the Honorable Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge,” explanatory of the difficulties and obstacles to the spread of Christianity among the Indians with whom he had been laboring, as follows:—
“What further contributes to their aversion to Christianity is the influence which their powaws (conjurers or diviners) have upon them. These are a sort of persons who are supposed to have a power of foretelling future events, or recovering the sick, at least oftentimes, and of charming, enchanting, or poisoning persons to death by their magic divinations. Their spirit, in its various operations, seems to be a Satanic imitation of the spirit of prophecy with which the Church in early ages was favored. Some of these diviners are endowed with the spirit in infancy;—others in adult age. It seems not to depend upon their own will, nor to be acquired by any endeavors of the person who is the subject of it. … They are not under the influence of this spirit always alike,—but it comes upon them at times. Those who are endowed with it are accounted singularly favored.
“I have labored to gain some acquaintance with this affair of their conjuration, and have for that end consulted and queried with the man mentioned in my Diary, May 9, who, since his conversion to Christianity, has endeavored to give me the best intelligence he could of this matter. But it seems to be such a mystery of iniquity, that I cannot well understand it, and do not know oftentimes what ideas to affix to the terms he makes use of. So far as I can learn, he himself has not any clear notions of the thing, now his spirit of divination is gone from him.
“There were some times when this spirit came upon him in a special manner. Then, he says, he was all light, and not only light himself, but it was light all around him, so that he could see through men, and
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knew the thoughts of their hearts. These “depths of Satan” I leave to others to fathom or to dive into as they please, and do not pretend, for my own part, to know what ideas to affix to such terms, and cannot well guess what conception of things these creatures have at these times when they call themselves all light. But my interpreter tells me that he heard one of them tell a certain Indian the secret thoughts of his heart, which he had never divulged. …
“When I have apprehended them afraid of embracing Christianity, lest they should be enchanted and poisoned, I have endeavored to relieve their minds of this fear, by asking them, Why their powaws did not enchant and poison me, seeing they had as much reason to hate me for preaching to them, and desiring them to become Christians, as they could have to hate them in case they should actually become such? That they might have an evidence of the power and goodness of God engaged for the protection of Christians, I ventured to bid a challenge to all their powaws and great powers to do their worst on me first of all; and thus I labored to tread down their influence.”—Memoirs of Brainard, pages 348-351.
Three months since the New York Sun published the following account of the experiences of Capt. C. E. Denny, Indian agent for the Canadian Government among the Blackfeet Indians. Capt. Denny says:—
“On my arrival in the northwest territories with the northwest mounted police, in 1874, I was curious to find out how far these “medicine men” carried their arts, and also what these arts consisted of. I heard from Indians many tales of wonders done by them, but it was a long time before I got a chance to be present at one of these ceremonies. The Indians were reluctant to allow a white man to view any of their “medicine” ceremonies. As I got better acquainted with several tribes, particularly the Blackfeet, I had many chances to find out the truth regarding what I had heard of them, and I was truly astonished at what I saw at different times. Many of the medicine feats did not allow of any jugglery, the man being naked, with the exception of a cloth around his loins, and I sitting within a few feet of him.
“All Indians believe in their familiar spirit, which assumed all kinds of shapes, sometimes that of an owl, a buffalo, a beaver, a fox, or any other animal. This spirit it was that gave them the power to perform the
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wonders done by them, and was firmly believed in by them all.
“On one occasion I was sitting in an Indian tent alone with one of the “medicine” men of the Blackfeet Indians. It was night and all was quiet in the camp. The night was calm, with a bright moon shining. On a sudden the Indian commenced to sing, and presently the lodge, which was a large one, commenced to tremble; and the trembling increased to such a degree that it rocked violently, even lifting off the ground, first on one side and then on the other, as if a dozen pair of hands were heaving it on the outside. This lasted for about two minutes, when I ran out, expecting to find some Indians on the outside who had played me a trick, but, to my astonishment, not a soul was in sight, and what still more bewildered me was to find on examination that the lodge was firmly pegged down to the ground, it being impossible for any number of men to have moved and replaced the pegs in so short a time. I did not enter the lodge again that night, as the matter looked, to say the least, uncanny.
“On another occasion I visited a lodge where a “medicine smoke” was in progress. There were about a dozen Indians in the lodge. After the smoke was over, a large copper kettle, about two feet deep, and the same or a little more in diameter, was placed empty on the roaring fire in the middle of the lodge. The medicine man who was stripped, with the exception of a cloth around his loins, was all this time singing a “medicine” in a low voice.
“The pot after a short while became red-hot, and a pole being passed through the handle, it was lifted in this state off the fire and placed on the ground, so close to me that the heat was almost unbearable. On the pole being withdrawn the medicine man sprang to his feet and, still singing his song, stepped with both naked feet into the red-hot kettle and danced for at least three minutes in it, still singing to the accompaniment of the Indian drums. I was so close, as I have before said, that the heat of the kettle was almost unbearable, and I closely watched the performance, and saw this Indian dance for some minutes with his bare feet in it. On stepping out he seemed none the worse; but how he performed the act was and is still a mystery to me.”
Similar feats are performed by the fetish men of India “under control;” and tests given by “spirit mediums” “under control” sometimes include the handling of fire, red hot glass, etc., with bare hands without injury. God has protected his faithful in the flames (Dan. 3:19-27), and it seems that he does not always hinder Satan’s use of such power.
Dr. Ashmore, of long experience as a missionary in China, says,—
“I have no doubt that the Chinese hold direct communications with the spirits of another world. They never pretend that they are the spirits of their departed friends. They get themselves in a certain state and seek to be possessed by these spirits. I have seen them in certain conditions invite the spirits to come and to inhabit them. Their eyes become frenzied, their features distorted, and they pour out speeches which are supposed to be the utterances of the spirits.”
An old issue of Youth’s Day Spring contains a letter from a missionary describing the condition of the Africans on the Gaboon river at the approach of death. He says,—
“The room was filled with women who were weeping in the most piteous manner, and calling on the spirits of their fathers and others who were dead, and upon all spirits in whom they believed, Ologo, Njembi, Abambo, and Miwii, to save the man from death.”
A Wesleyan missionary, Mr. White, says,—
“There is a class of people in New Zealand called Eruku, or priests; these men pretend to have intercourse with departed spirits.”
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No part of humanity has been exempted from the attacks of these demons, and their influence is always baneful. India is full of it. So generally accepted at one time was the belief in demon-possession, that the Roman Catholic Church, through her priests, regularly practiced “exorcism,” or casting out of demons.
The very earliest recorded spirit manifestation was in Eden, when Satan, desiring to tempt mother Eve, used or “obsessed” the serpent. Mother Eve claimed that she was deceived by the serpent’s misrepresentations. God allowed the claim as true, and sentenced the serpent, which there became the symbolic representative of Satan. As the father of lies he there took possession of a serpent to deceive Eve and lead her to disbelieve God’s command by the false assurance, “Ye shall not surely die!” so ever since, tho he has varied his methods and mediums, all of them are to deceive—to blind the minds of mankind, lest the glorious light of the goodness of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, should shine unto them.
Thanks be to God for the promise that, in due time, the Kingdom of God shall be established in the earth, in the hands of our Lord Jesus and his then completed and glorified Church, and that one of the first works of that Kingdom, preparatory to its blessing “all the families of the earth,” will be the binding of that Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan, that he may deceive the nations no more for the thousand years of Christ’s reign; until all men shall be brought to a clear knowledge of the truth, and to a full opportunity to avail themselves of the gracious provisions of the New Covenant, sealed at Calvary with the precious blood of Christ.
While the name Old Serpent includes Satan, “the prince of devils,” it is here evidently used as a synonym for all the sinful agencies and powers which had their rise in him. It therefore includes the legions of “evil spirits,” “familiar spirits,” “seducing spirits.”
Spiritism, as a deceiving influence under the control of Satan, is foretold by the Apostle Paul. After telling of the work of Satan in the great Apostacy of which Papacy is the head-center, the Man of Sin, the Mystery of Iniquity,* the Apostle draws his subject to a close by pointing out that Satan, toward the end of this age, will be granted special licence to deceive by peculiar arts, all who, having been highly favored with the Word of God, have failed to appreciate and use it. He says,—”For this cause God will send them strong delusion [a working deception], that they may believe a lie: that they may all be condemned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness [doctrinal or practical].”—2 Thes. 2:11,12.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., chapter 9, pages 267-366.
We shall not be at all surprised if some later manifestations of the powers of darkness, transformed to appear as the angels of light and progress, shall be much more specious and delusive than anything yet attempted. We do well to remember the Apostle’s words,—”We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with princely powers of darkness, with the spiritual things of the evil one.”—Eph. 6:12.
In 1842, six years before “modern Spiritism” began to operate, Edward Bickersteth, a servant of God and student of his Word, wrote,—
“Looking at the signs of the times, and the long neglect and unnatural denial of all angelic ministration or spiritual influence, and at the express predictions of false Christs, and false prophets, who shall show signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they should deceive the very elect, and that when men receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they shall believe a lie; I cannot but think there is a painful prospect of a SUDDEN RECOIL and religious revulsion from the present unbelief and misbelief, to an unnatural and undistinguishing CREDULITY.”
Satan is the inspirer and supporter of every Anti-Christ; and as he led those who had pleasure in error rather than the truth to the organization of the great Anti-Christ, Papacy, symbolically the “beast” of Rev. 13, and as he is now operating to produce a Protestant “image of the beast” with life, which will cooperate with the chief Anti-Christ, so in combination with these will be the powers of darkness, the powers of the air, the lying and seducing spirits, operating in some manner or in a variety of ways,—Spiritism, Christian Science, Theosophy, Hypnotism, etc.
“Rev. Father Coppens, M.D. [Roman Catholic], Professor in Creighton University,” recently delivered a discourse on “Borderland of Science,” from which we extract the following on the phenomena of Spiritism:—
“What must we think of the nature of Spiritism, with its spirit rappings, table-turning, spirit apparitions and so on? Can the facts, which are not imposture, but realities, be explained by the laws of nature, the powers of material agents and of men? All that could possibly be done by the most skilled scientists, by the most determined materialists who believe neither in God nor in demon, as well as by the most conscientious Christians, has only served to demonstrate to perfect evidence that effects are produced which can no more be attributed to natural agency than speech and design can be attributed to a piece of wood. One principle of science throws much light on the nature of all those performances, namely, that every effect must have a proportionate cause. When the effect shows knowledge and design, the cause must be intelligent. Now many of these marvels evidently show knowledge and design, therefore the cause is certainly intelligent.
“A table cannot understand and answer questions; it cannot move at a person’s bidding. A medium cannot speak in a language he has never learned, nor know the secret ailment of a patient far away, nor prescribe
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the proper remedies without knowledge of medicine. Therefore these effects when they really exist, are due to intelligent agents, agents distinct from the persons visibly present, invisible agents therefore, spirits of another world.
“Who are these agents? God and his good angels cannot work upon these wretched marvels, the food of a morbid curiosity, nor could they put themselves at the disposal of pious men to be trotted out as monkeys on the stage. The spirits which are made to appear at the seances are degraded spirits. Spiritualists themselves tell us they are lying spirits. Those lying spirits say they are the souls of the departed, but who can believe their testimony, if they are lying spirits as they are acknowledged to be? This whole combination of imposture and superstition is simply the revival in a modern dress of a very ancient deception of mankind by playing on men’s craving for the marvelous. Many imagine these are recent discoveries, peculiar to this age of progress. Why this spirit-writing is and has been for centuries extensively practiced in benighted pagan China, while even Africans and Hindoos are great adepts at table turning. It is simply the revival of ancient witchcraft, which Simon Magus practiced in St. Peter’s time; which flourished in Ephesus while St. Paul was preaching the gospel there. It is more ancient still. These were the abominations for which God commissioned the Jews in Moses’ time to exterminate the Canaanites and the other inhabitants of the promised land.”
—(TO BE CONTINUED)—
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THE GOSPEL SENT TO EUROPE
—JULY 4.—ACTS 16:6-16.—
“The entrance of thy words giveth light.”—Psa. 119:130.
AFTER the conference at Jerusalem respecting the obligations of the Law upon Christians, we noticed that Jude and Silas returned with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch, to deliver the decision of the Council. After remaining with the Antioch Church for several months the Apostle Paul proposed to Barnabas that they revisit the Churches of Asia Minor, which they had established during the first preaching tour. The Apostle was thoughtful of the interests of the general work, and remembered the necessity of watering as well as sowing the truth. Experience is convincing that this thought is correct, and that it is just as true to day as then that beginners in the Christian way need the careful oversight of those who are more advanced, that they may become rooted, grounded, established and built up in the truth.
The necessity for doing something to center and develop the interest of beginners is very generally recognized to-day, but with many the thought seems to be that the beginner needs to get into the current of what is termed “Christian work,” but what in reality is very largely animal excitement. We may be very certain that the Apostle’s thought was not with reference to getting up some little excitement and entertainment for the “babes” in Christ, such as strawberry festivals, apron sociables, gossip societies and other entertainments to attract the world, at ten cents a head, for the Lord’s cause. These were not the considerations which moved the Apostle to suggest the new tour. He had a more important work than this; he thought of the newly interested believers, the opposition with which they would have to contend among their former friends, the false arguments and sophistries which would be raised by the adversary to combat the truth; the inexperience and perplexities of the Lord’s flock, and he needed to go amongst them to encourage, strengthen and establish them in the truth and make of them strong soldiers of the cross.
Barnabas readily assented to the proposed tour; but before they had proceeded far in the arrangement, a difference of opinion arose between the two which, however, has been very greatly exaggerated, we think, by many Commentators. We hold that they did not have a “quarrel, bitter and angry;” that they did not “part in anger;” that it is not true that “neither would yield to the other, and therefore both were wrong.” Quite to the contrary, we think that each had a right to act according to his own judgment of the Lord’s will in the matter under discussion; and that a sharp discussion, in which each would be positive, should not with Christians signify any bitterness or acrimonious feeling.
The point of the discussion was, whether or not John Mark (cousin of Barnabas and writer of the Gospel of Mark) should go with them on this journey. We saw in our lesson of May 2 that Mark forsook the service of the ministering brethren (Paul and Barnabas) in their first tour, and Paul evidently thought that up to this time Mark had not properly recognized his misconduct on that occasion, and hence was determined that the assistant on this occasion should be some one upon whom they could place greater dependence. Barnabas, on the contrary, stood up for Mark, and as a result they determined that it would be best to make two parties instead of one. The evidence seems to be that Barnabas was rather the loser by not acquiescing with the Apostle Paul’s view of the matter; for altho Barnabas and Mark started on a preaching tour, its importance and success were comparatively much less than attended the ministries of Paul: so
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much so that no particular report of it is given, and Barnabas thereafter is almost lost from sight.
That Paul’s conduct was not the result of any unkind feeling toward either Barnabas or Mark is evident from the fact that in one of his subsequent epistles he mentions Barnabas most kindly; and a little farther on we find Mark one of Paul’s associates in the work. Presumably he had learned the lesson which the Apostle thought he needed to learn. However, as a result of their candid differences of view, as Dr. Stalker puts it, Paul had to part “from the man to whom he owed more than to any other human being; and Barnabas was separated from the grandest spirit of the age.” “They never met again.”
Paul chose Silas, whose full name was Silvanus, one of the brethren sent from Jerusalem after the conference, to be his companion and helper; and they started northward from Antioch, then turned westward to Derbe, then to Lystra, where the company was joined by young Timothy. Altho Timothy’s mother was a Jewess, his father being a Greek he had never been circumcised. Paul, foreseeing that he would be a valuable assistant in the work, recommended that, according to the Jewish custom, Timothy be circumcised, and thus become in the fullest sense a Jew according to the custom divinely enjoined upon that nation.
Paul has been sharply criticised for his course in this matter by some who consider that his action here directly contradicted his testimony to the Galatians—”If ye be circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing.” (Gal. 5:2-6.) But these critics fail to notice an important feature; namely, (1) that circumcision was established before the Mosaic Law was given at Sinai; (2) that it was made a national mark, and that any Jew who was not circumcised, forfeited by that neglect his rights in the Abrahamic promise. (3) The Galatian Christians, who were told that they must not be circumcised, were not Jews, and had nothing to do with Israel’s national sign; and for them to perform circumcision would indicate that they were seeking for divine favor by becoming Jews and coming under the Jewish laws and regulations, and that they were not trusting fully to Christ. (Gal. 2:14-16.) (4) A Jew, on the contrary, while trusting in Christ, could properly enough conform to the national usage of circumcision established before the Law.
Having passed from the province of Galatia in which were located the cities of Antioch, Lystra and Derbe, the Apostle evidently here intended going into the province called Asia, a part of what is known as Asia Minor, but the holy spirit hindered them and forbade that course. How this instruction of the spirit was communicated we are not informed; and no matter, since we have confidence that the Apostle was not following mere impressions, but made sure that he was under the divine guidance. They next thought to go into the province of Bithynia, but again they were hindered, and so passed by Mysia; that is, they passed through the province of Asia without preaching therein, and came to the seaport of Troas, thinking there to take shipping, but apparently uncertain as to which direction the Lord would have them go.
Here the Lord’s leading was very distinct: in a dream the Apostle Paul saw a man of Macedonia beckoning to him and saying, “Come over and help us.” This settled the Apostle respecting the course he should take. The Lord was leading him, but evidently chose to delay the full and clear information respecting his route, that the Apostle (and the Church in general through this account) might realize the more fully how directly God was leading and providentially guiding in the presentation of his truth. The Apostle and his company immediately prepared to go to Macedonia in obedience to the Lord’s indication.
Thus the Lord specially directed the word of his grace to Europe. Instead of sending it northward and eastward through Asia—to the millions in Asiatic Russia and India and China, and instead of sending it
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southward to the other millions in Egypt and all Africa, the Lord specially guided his truth northwestward into Europe. Who cannot see that a great question was in the balances, and was here divinely decided?
Let it be remembered, too, that, in sending the gospel into Europe, the Lord chose first of all the most enlightened parts of Europe. Macedonia lies just north of Greece, and their peoples were practically one; their intelligence and civilization were practically on a par. Only a short time before, Greece, under Alexander the Great, had conquered the world, and Greek civilization and the Greek language and Greek philosophies had thus been spread among all civilized people. And altho subsequently the Caesars of Rome had conquered Greece, they had not destroyed the influence of the Greek literature and philosophy, which still dominated at the time of our lesson. In sending the gospel into Macedonia, therefore, the Lord was sending it to the people most advanced in civilization and the arts. After starting the work in Macedonia and in Greece, the good tidings were later sent to Rome, and from these, then the centers of civilization, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has spread northward through Europe and westward through America, and has been the instrumentality for producing the highest types of civilization that the world has ever known; and this in proportion as the Word of God has been free, and has been received into good and honest hearts.
In Macedonia, by the spirit’s leading, they went first to one of the principal cities, Philippi, and there on the Jewish Sabbath they found by the river side a prayer meeting. The women who attended it were probably all Jewesses, and the Apostle concluded that those who were seeking the Lord in worship and prayer would be in the best condition of heart to be approached with the gospel: a judgment which experience since, in every land, endorses as correct. Paul’s discourse concerning the hopes of Israel and the fulfilment of these in Jesus the Messiah, and the story of his crucifixion for our sins, found a lodgment in the hearts of some who heard it. This was the start of the Church at that city, to which later Paul wrote—the Epistle to the Philippians.
The brief reference to Lydia, one of the believers, is worthy of notice. Her heart being touched with the message of the gospel, she esteemed it a privilege to serve and entertain those whom the Lord had been pleased to honor as servants in carrying to her his message. We have here a good lesson of thankful appreciation and hospitality.