“What Is Modern Spiritualism?” American Sentinel 9, 46, pp. 363, 364.

MODERN SPIRITUALISM claims to be intercourse, or communion, with the spirits of the dead. In this it is identical with ancient witchcraft, which was likewise intercourse, or communion, with the dead.

That witchcraft was a real thing, and not simply a superstition, is evident from the fact that it was prohibited by the Lord under penalty of death. In Exodus 22:19, we find the express command: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live;” and again in Leviticus 20:27, we have these words: “A man also or a woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death.”

The latter text records, not only the sentence of death against those who had familiar spirits, but identifies witchcraft with spiritism, or with spirit possession; that is, one not merely pretending to have intercourse with familiar spirits, but one actually having a familiar spirit was a wizard or a witch, according to sex.

The Scriptures not only forbid, under penalty of death, intercourse with pretended spirits of the dead, but they declare that the dead take no interest in human affairs (Job 14:21), that they have no power to help those who invoke them (Psalm 146:3, 4), and that they “know not anything.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. This at once brands the whole system of witchcraft, ancestral worship, and Spiritualism as deceptive and soul-destroying.

That this intercourse with pretended spirits of the dead was for the purpose of obtaining revelations from them is evident; thus we find Saul seeking to a witch for information as to the future after the Lord had forsaken him (1 Samuel 23); and in Isaiah 8:19 (R.V.), we read these words: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?”

This spirit intercourse was universal among heathen peoples. The “Encyclopedia Britannica,” Art. “Manes,” says: “All nations have reverenced the spirits of their ancestors;” and again, “In all nations of antiquity, and in many existing savage tribes, these spirits [supposed spirits of the dead] were held in great awe and veneration, as being powerful for good or for harm.” “Offerings of all kinds were placed in the tomb or burnt on the pyre, and the rites of burial were, with the lamentations of surviving friends, thought necessary for the repose of the ghost.”

That the spirits referred to in Isaiah 8:19, were evil spirits will scarcely be disputed; else why the prohibition of communion with them? Besides it cannot be supposed that spirits in harmony with “the Father of spirits” would hold intercourse with men contrary to the will of God. But we are not left in doubt as to the character of these spirits. The apostle says, plainly: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:20. This, then, is the reason why witchcraft, or intercourse with evil spirits, is so hateful in the sight of God; it is devil worship.

It was into this debasing idolatry that the Israelites fell when “they joined themselves unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.” Psalm 106:28. “It was not,” says Faber, “that they ever absolutely renounced the adoration of Jehovah; but, apparently deeming him far above out of their sight, while they distantly viewed him with a decent, ineffective reverence, they addicted themselves to the more palpable funeral orgies of Thammuz, or Adonis, or Baal, or Osiris.” [160]

The same writer continues: “Such also is the worship, into which, according to the sure word of prophetic revelation, certain members of the church catholic [general] would lapse in the latter times. ‘The Spirit,’ says St. Paul, ‘speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall apostatize from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines concerning demon gods.’” [161]

This interpretation of the prophecy was received by the early church “probably more than twelve centuries before the Reformation.” [162]

But, it may be asked, has not devil worship, or witchcraft, ceased?—By no means. Has human nature changed? have demons become less wicked than formerly? are human beings any less prone to seek to know the future independently of God? A single negative will suffice to answer all these questions. Then how could demonology cease so long as the conditions necessary to its existence are unchanged?

In an article in the Arena for November, that well-known Spiritualist, J. M. Peebles, A.M., M.D., gives explicit testimony as to the continuance of spiritual phenomena and its identity in all ages; he says:—

Evolution is everywhere manifest. The telegraph, the telephone, the phonograph, surrognomy, mesmerism, clairvoyance, psychometry, in connection with other scientific discoveries and religious aspirations, seemingly constituted the befitting time for the rediscovery and propagation of Spiritualism. We say rediscovery, for to agnostic materialists and sectarian Christians, Spiritualism, demonstrating connections communications between mortals and the overarching, invisible world of immortals, was literally a discovery, a new revelation. And yet from remotest antiquity all races and tribes had addressed and echoed these phenomena in some form. They were considered as different periods miracles, magic, possessions, apparitions, oracles, special providence, witchcraft, demons, and angels. Their persistence, surviving the decay of deities and empires, is, according to Herbert Spencer, a proof of their reality and their value.

When in Canton, China, the guest of Dr. Kerr, physician and missionary, we chanced to speak of the spirit manifestations in America, when he coolly exclaimed: “Why, sir, these manifestations are very old in this country. China is an empire of spiritists.” And to prove it he took me out to temples, shrines, and booths, where I witnessed spirit-writing and other forms of mediumistic phenomena.

Thus, it is evident that intercourse with spirits has not ceased; and that these spirits are evil is also confessed by Spiritualists themselves. Said Judge Edmonds, in his Broadway Tabernacle lecture, in this city, Feb. 15, 1855:—

I assure you from my own experience and observation, that the fascination of this intercourse is so great that its tendency is to lead men away from their proper judgment, and instill a spirit of fanaticism most revolting to the calm and restored mind.

And in the Banner of Light, of Oct. 26, 1864, Dr. Child said:—

Nor can we doubt, I think, that there are a diverse host of badly misdirected spirits. The lower spirits seek to undo the good work of the higher, and to harass and to annoy and subject to suffering, medium and sitter. They will deceive us for their amusement. Where is the medium but what has either seen or felt this? I have both, but wise spirits, who are to be the revelators and executors of the divine will, designedly deceive us for our good.

The same paper, in its issue of March 26, 1869, quotes Swedenborg as follows:—

When spirits begin to speak with men, he must beware that he believe nothing that they say; for nearly everything they say is fabricated by them and they are; for if they are permitted to narrate anything, as what heaven is and how things in the heavens are to be understood, they will TELL SO MANY LIES that a man would be astonished.

According to these testimonies all these are lying spirits for all deceive; one class “for our good,” the other, “for their own amusement”! Judged by the Saviour’s rule, all are then of the devil, for his lusts they do.

That the spirits, from whom the communications come and by whom supernatural things are performed, are not the spirits of the dead is evident from the testimony of the apostle already quoted: “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils;” and also from the inspired declaration that “the dead know not anything.” [163] Moreover, the manifestations of Spiritualism are by a host of spirits, whereas revelations and manifestations from God are by one Spirit. Says the apostle: “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” [164]

As already shown in the quotation from Mr. Faber, special warning is given in the Bible against satanic delusions in the last days. In addition to the texts which he cites, our Lord himself says: “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” [165]

Again, we are told by the apostle, that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,” [166] and St. John, in describing the closing scenes of this earth’s history, says: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the [364] kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief.” [167]

Thus it is seen that the great and overpowering delusions of the last days, that shall deceive and sweep down to everlasting destruction all who are not rooted and grounded in the truth of God,—all who do not stand firmly on the divine declaration, “The dead know not anything,“—will come through what is known as modern Spiritualism, which is nothing more and nothing less than ancient witchcraft or devil worship in a new garb, the better to deceive the people to their eternal ruin. [364]

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