The Nature and Tendency of Modern Spiritualism

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Chapter Two. Divine Warnings Against Satanic Workings—Departing from the Faith—Seducing Spirits

Isaiah 8:19, 20: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter; should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” NTMS 28.1

If the present work of consulting mediums and countenancing their sorceries is not referred to in the above scripture, to what would it apply? or is the scripture without meaning? Only a few years ago this scripture might have appeared almost meaningless. Then the sorrowing friends would anxiously surround the bed of the dying, eager to catch each word, which was often laid up in the heart as a memento of the lost one. Then if the departing had aught to tell, it was listened to with breathless interest, as all were well assured that no future communication could pass between them till the morning of the resurrection should loose the silent tongue. But now, how changed the times! Parents no longer regard death as an enemy, tearing their children from their embrace; but as the best friend, to transplant them as buds of promise, where they can sooner blossom in a happier clime, and mature in richer beauty. The infidel no longer sinks to the sleep of death with a “fearful looking for of Judgment, and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries,” but he is led to expect to be released from the sinful surroundings and propensities of the present state, to awake where there is no suffering for sin, and all are progressing toward perfect bliss; thus making the cross of Christ of no effect, and rendering the gospel a nullity. Witness the case of the blasphemer, Thomas Paine, as revealed through “Rev. C. Hammond, medium,” which is in accordance with the general tenor of spiritualistic teachings as we shall hereafter show. NTMS 28.2

Two questions are asked and answered in Matthew 24: One concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and one concerning the coming of Christ, and the end of the world. The Saviour points out the long tribulation of the church, principally under the persecution by the papacy, which was to continue more than 1000 years. The full time of papal rule according to Daniel 7:25, and Revelation 12:6, 14; 13:5, was 1260 years, which commenced in 538 and terminated in 1798. The Saviour said the days should be shortened for the elect’s sake. History shows that the time of papal rule was not itself shortened, as the power continued with the papacy, till the spring of 1798; but the tribulation or persecution did not continue the full term of the days. The persecution was abated by the influence of the Reformation, and entirely ceased before the power of the papacy was taken away. This gave room for the precise fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the signs of our Saviour’s second coming. According to Mark 13:24, the first was to take place “in those days after that tribulation.” The sun was darkened in 1780; just 18 years before the end of the days (years); and as the moon cannot give any light when the sun is darkened, the second sign was also fulfilled at the same time. The falling of the stars occurred 53 years afterward, in 1833. 1 Says the Saviour, while discoursing of his coming and the end of these days, “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not. For 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.” Matthew 24:23, 24. NTMS 29.1

These deceptions are more specifically noticed in the warning given in NTMS 30.1

1 Timothy 4:1: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” NTMS 30.2

In the latter times. Equivalent to the last days. In our brief comparison of the prophecies of Daniel and John, it was shown that the facts concerning the kingdoms of earth prove that we are now in the last days; that the signs of the Saviour’s coming have been fulfilled, and that it is now time to look and prepare for that event. As the deliverance of God’s people draws near, the truth is resisted as it was in the days of Moses, by sorcerers, enchanters, necromancers, etc., who pretend to reveal secrets, and foretell events, by consulting the dead. This is “an abomination to the Lord.” Isaiah says, “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” NTMS 30.3

Some shall depart from the faith. As no person can depart from a place to which he has never been, so no one can depart from a faith that he has never professedly embraced. Then in the latter times we may expect to find some denying the truths of revelation, which they have before believed and advocated. That this is true of many of the advocates of Spiritualism; every one knows that is at all acquainted with that work. Many of the lecturers, and some of the mediums and editors, were formerly ministers of different denominations, and still prefix the title “Rev.” to their names; and some clergymen, still occupying their places in their respective churches, are writing and speaking in favor of the new spiritual theory. But other specifications of the prophecy fix it to a certainty. Many of various classes may renounce the truth, but those referred to in this scripture depart from the faith, NTMS 31.1

Giving heed to seducing spirits. This brings us to notice the claim continually set up that they are good spirits, doing good, etc. In order to seduce, they must have the appearance and profession of goodness. Seductive, says Webster, is “tending to lead astray; apt to mislead by flattering appearances.” Flattery is the seducer’s strong hold; and this is a characteristic of the teachings of the spirits. NTMS 31.2

And this is the real secret of the success of Spiritualism. Man is constituted to receive and enjoy the influence of God’s Spirit, and by sin his mind is so blinded, and his powers perverted, that it is absolutely necessary for him to receive its aid to guide him through the journey of life. This the Bible offers to him only on condition that he shall be humble, cross-bearing, and self-denying. On the contrary, while Spiritualism professes to supply the same wants, it deludes by flattery, fills the heart with pride, and grants such a license of life as is congenial to the carnal mind. NTMS 31.3

In 2 Timothy 3, as already noticed, it is said that men shall be lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud, high-minded. Many Spiritualists love themselves so deeply, and regard themselves as so noble and elevated, that they have lost all love and reverence for the Supreme Being. In their esteem the falsehood of the first great seducer is verified-” Ye shall not surely die.... Ye shall be as gods.” (See Genesis 3:4, 5.) NTMS 32.1

That they are seducing, flattering spirits, is also fully proved by their teachings respecting Christ, making their followers to believe themselves to be, not only prophets greater than those whose writings are in the Scriptures, but christs of stronger powers as mediums than Jesus of Nazareth! NTMS 32.2

It is claimed that they are benevolent and good because they heal diseases. Any reflecting mind will acknowledge that this alone is not sufficient to justify the claim. The argument is no more conclusive than it would be to claim that a physician must be of a benevolent disposition because he cures his patients. His reputation as such, and beyond this his fee or reward, may be the grand motive of his practice. The intent and general course of life must be considered; and so of these spirits. The general tendency of their course and teachings must be ascertained, and these being considered, we shall find that their healing power is exerted only to carry on their deceptions and work of seducing from the path of right. And we inquire, Who brought diseases into the world, and seduced man to a course of action that subjected him to disease? This was the work of Satan. All diseases are part of the process of decay, and prove man to be subject to death, which is in the power of the devil. Hebrews 2:14. But Jesus is the lifegiver. John 3:16; 6:40; 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 John 5:11, 12; Romans 2:7. When the Saviour healed a woman of disease of long standing, he said Satan had bound her eighteen years. Luke 13:16. And if Satan binds the human family in bonds of affliction, it is certainly no great cause of praise to him that he should release his hold of his victims for a season, the better to carry on his deceptions, and bring them under the power of the second death. Would we praise the magnanimity of the ruffian who had bound and maltreated his neighbor, because he had afterward let him go? We should rather blame him for having ill-treated him. Those who urge such a claim might, with equal show of reason, claim that the devil was benevolent because of the liberal offers he made to the Saviour! Luke 4:2-8. The offers were very large, but the intention deprived them of benevolence. NTMS 32.3

These miracles of healing are often wrought through mediums who deny the Bible, reproach the idea of salvation through Christ, and blaspheme the name of God. Does the Lord, or his ministering angels, work through such? If Satan works, or ever shall work, in them that perish, and that love not the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10, he could scarcely find more fitting subjects than many of the mediums through whom these “tests” and wonderful cures are manifested. Thus their character as “seducing spirits” is clearly proved. NTMS 33.1

The nature and influence of their teachings is aptly characterized by the apostle in the warning under consideration, who says that they who give heed to those seducing spirits are also giving heed to NTMS 34.1

Doctrines of devils. This brings us to a more full consideration of the doctrines of Spiritualism, as to their origin and tendency. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and whatever is opposed to Scripture is of the adversary, the devil. In giving proof on this point, we shall give the most direct, to wit, their own writings. And if some of them be found to border on blasphemy, they will present still stronger proof of our position. But while we regret the necessity of quoting such irreverent words, even to prove the fulfillment of prophecy, we assure our readers that we do not give the most blasphemous expressions that we have heard spoken, or have read in their publications. The columns of the Truth Seeker, published in Angola, Ind., were literally filled with the lowest and most vulgar infidelity. Its name stood in the Telegraph’s list of “weekly journals devoted to Spiritualism,” immediately above the Crisis, published in Laporte, Ind., by “Rev. Henry Weller.” NTMS 34.2