The Nature and Tendency of Modern Spiritualism

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Chapter Four. They Destroy all Distinctions of Right and Wrong—They Deny Law—Accountability—Punishment for Sin

This charge may seem severe, but it is no more severe than just; and we feel fully warranted in making it, judging them entirely by their own words. We prove them under this charge, in a threefold manner: 1. By their denying all law, and trusting to be guided by “intuition.” 2. By their denying human accountability, or the punishment of sin. 3. By their denying the plainest principles of morality. NTMS 62.1

1. They deny all law, and trust tointuition.” By intuition we are to understand their own mentalities-mental views for which they are not dependent. The difference between them and the teachings of the Bible is this: The Bible presents to us a system or code of morality as emanating from God, the Supreme moral Governor; that it is of course of absolute authority; that man is subject to it in his actions, and subject to a penalty (punishment) for its violation. NTMS 62.2

Now, though Spiritualists speak of the holiness and perfection of God’s laws, as they sometimes do, we are to take these expressions with very considerable qualification; as by many of their expressions relative to God, we should be led to think they believed in the personality of a Supreme Being. But when we examine their explicit declarations, we find their views are ultra-pantheistic. So, though they speak of laws, they rob them of every characteristic of law: of authority, the first great essential of law; of penalty, without which a law is mere advice; besides this, they deny free-agency, or probation, without which a law is a nullity, though in itself possessed of every essential attribute. NTMS 62.3

The “Healing of the Nations” says:- NTMS 63.1

“Thus thy body needs no laws, having been in its creation supplied with all that could be necessary for its government. Thy spirit is above all laws and above all essences which flow therein. God created thy spirit from within his own, and surely the Creator of law is above it; the Creator of essences must be above all essence created. And if thou hast what may be, or might be termed laws, they are always subservient unto thy spirit.” Page 163. NTMS 63.2

“Good men need no laws, and laws will do bad or ignorant men no good.” NTMS 63.3

“If a man be above the law, he should never be governed by it. If he be below, what good can dead, dry words do him?” NTMS 63.4

“True knowledge removeth all laws from power by placing the spirit of man above it.” Page 164. NTMS 63.5

That such expressions as these can only be understood in their most objectionable sense, that is, according to their obvious import, and not with reference to other expressions that might be considered qualifying, is evident from its relation to the following propositions:- NTMS 63.6

2. They deny human accountability and punishment for sin. A. J. Davis not only denies man’s accountability, but argues, or rather asserts, the necessity of human imperfections in the following singular manner:- NTMS 63.7

“Man is not accountable, in the manner in which this supposition would imply, for the original or present imperfection. For these sprang necessarily from his uncultivated social and moral situation. Indeed, it is only by the aid of these imperfections that man can properly know and appreciate purity and perfection.”-Nat. Div. Rev., page 392. NTMS 63.8

A correspondent of the Telegraph, elevated the “Healing of the Nations” far above the Bible, and says of it:- NTMS 63.9

“According to its teaching, no place is found in the universe for divine wrath and vengeance. All are alike and forever the object of God’s love, pity, and tender care-the difference between the two extremes of human character on earth being as a mere atom when compared with perfect wisdom.” NTMS 64.1

This is not merely the sentiment of the correspondent of the paper; he characterizes truly the teachings of the book, which is a standard work of Spiritualism. That there is a wider difference between God and the very best of the human race than there is between the two extremes of the human race, we do not deny; for God is infinite in every perfection, while man is imperfect at best. But to argue from hence that God disregards the distinctions of character, or will not vindicate his laws and punish the guilty, is but shallow reasoning, to say the best of it. Abraham passed a different judgment on the ways of God, and doubtless his perceptions of truth and justice in this matter were as acute as those of the spiritual authorities. He said, “That the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25. Instead of giving us an exalted view of the holiness of the Supreme Being, these spiritual teachings really place him below our estimate of a good, worthy man. We do not conclude that a man, because he is wise and good, will overlook and disregard all difference of action and character in his children or in his fellow-men. He who is the lowest and most debased will least regard these distinctions. Can we respect the man who places the same estimate upon the thief that he does upon the honest man? or regards the murderer in the same light that he does the innocent and inoffensive? We cannot. Such declarations deny, not the Bible only, but every principle in reason or revelation on which the stability of the divine government depends. NTMS 64.2

The Bible informs us that when God created man and placed him in Eden, he told him that if he disobeyed him he should die. We find this penalty for transgression confirmed in many scriptures. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. Who would imagine, from reading the works of Spiritualists, or even those of the popular authors of the day, either secular or religious, that death was an enemy, a curse, a fruit of sin? A popular author makes an apostrophe to death as follows:- NTMS 65.1

“O death! thou art lovely! O death! thou art grand. Now I see that man was made in the image of God. Life may deface it, but death restores it. The impress of the Divinity is here.” NTMS 65.2

If this were true, Jesus would again deface the image of God when he raised his saints from the dead! The Spiritual Age says:- NTMS 65.3

“There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as death, in the popular signification of that term. Death, so-called-the death of the human-is a veritable birth into a higher life. It is a change in the condition, consequent upon outward dissolution.... The real man survives the process intact, and still exists in full life and consciousness, upon a plane beyond-far beyond-the reach of fire and flood.” NTMS 65.4

The Scripture, corrected by this standard, should read: The soul that sinneth, it shall be born into a higher life! The wages of sin is a transition to a more elevated plane of being! This is comforting to sinners, no doubt, for the present; but when the penalty of God’s holy, just, and good law shall be inflicted, and the sinner dies, even the second death, how miserably foolish and vain will appear the perversions of God’s word on which he has staked eternal life! Truly, “they know not what they do.” NTMS 65.5

The “Healing of the Nations” says:- NTMS 66.1

“At the death of the outer body, the true life of the inner spirit commences.” NTMS 66.2

Thus again we may paraphrase the threat of the Lord to Adam: In the day thou eatest thereof, the true life of thine inner spirit shall commence. If some of our professed Christian friends discover the counterpart of their systems of theology in such teachings, we hope they may be led to consider well its opposition to the word of God. The rudiments of Spiritualism have been taught in the pulpits throughout the length and breadth of the land. And it is vain for those ministers to try to pull down the superstructure, and denounce it as evil, who guard and defend the foundation with such a jealous care. NTMS 66.3

In another part of this work we shall endeavor to point out more clearly the manner in which the way has been prepared for the introduction of Spiritualism by those who are professedly our teachers in Scripture theology. At present, we will show the harmony between Spiritualists and their death-worshiping brethren who deny the name. We will give quotations from both. NTMS 66.4

Says Dr. Hare:- NTMS 66.5

“Hence the dark hearse, the black pall, the bitter lamentation over the grave, which shows that it is not realized that death is only a glorious spiritual birth!” Page 145. NTMS 66.6

Dr. H. also gives the following spirit communications:- NTMS 66.7

“Oh, mother, why do you mourn my death? I have just begun to live. Grieve not for me.” NTMS 67.1

“My Dear Aunt: This is the first time that I have communicated. When I left the rudimental sphere I was so young I did not know what it meant to die; I know now. It was the beginning of life!” Page 188. NTMS 67.2

The Baptist Register said:- NTMS 67.3

“There is no death! what seems so is transition:
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portals we call Death.”
NTMS 67.4

A well-known religious hymn says:- NTMS 67.5

“Death is the gate to endless joy.” NTMS 67.6

A Spiritualist paper says:- NTMS 67.7

“Fold us in thy embrace, sweet angel Death,
So that no cloud can our twin being sever;
Come with soft lips and kiss away our breath,
And let us take our heavenward flight together.”
NTMS 67.8

The American Messenger, the organ of the American Tract Society, says:- NTMS 67.9

“Who calls thee grim and terrible,
Thou glorious angel, Death?
Thy form should wondrous beauty wear,
Like sweet perfume thy breath;
Thy robes should be of woven light,
Of clear, resplendent sheen;
A crown of stars upon thy head,
Thy face as Heaven serene.
“But now, midway from earth to Heaven,
Upon thy ebon throne,
A glorious boon is granted thee,
To thee, great Death, alone:
The golden key of life, true life,
Op’ning the pearly gates,
Where never enter woes nor strife,
But rest the freed awaits.”
NTMS 67.10

Another well-known hymn says that death NTMS 67.11

“Is but the voice which Jesus sends
To call us to his arms.”
NTMS 67.12

Joel Tiffany, in his lectures on Spiritualism, says:- NTMS 68.1

“But hark! a voice comes from beyond the grave to tell us that death is not our foe; that he is the messenger of life and joy; that he is the grand accoucheur of the soul, and comes to usher it into light and life eternal. NTMS 68.2

“To the bereaved husband, the voice of the departed wife comes back, saying, ‘Weep not for me, my dear husband, for I am with you still, and I watch over you, and will guide and guard you through life,’” etc. NTMS 68.3

Mr. Tiffany would pass for an infidel with many professed Christians, yet the whole page from which we make the above quotation is, not the mere counterpart of, but identical with, the majority of funeral discourses. NTMS 68.4

“Appendix-B,” in the “Healing of the Nations,” commences as follows:- NTMS 68.5

“From the N. Y. Evangelist. NTMS 68.6

“On the ministration of departed spirits in this world-By Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.

“It is a beautiful belief
That ever round our head,
Are hovering on viewless wings
The spirits of the dead.”
NTMS 68.7

We will offer a few brief remarks on the foregoing quotations. NTMS 68.8

The Scriptures say that the saints of God will all take their “heavenward flight together,” not when they die, but when the Lord Jesus shall come and restore them to life. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. If the Spiritualist theory were true, to destroy death would only be to reverse a desirable “transition.” What would the Baptist Register say to this? NTMS 68.9

Again, the Scriptures say, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26. How different the teachings of Spiritualism, and also of the theology quoted. In the Scriptures, Christ is called “our life;” he says it is his privilege to give life; that no man cometh to the Father but by him. But according to the above quotations, both spiritual and religious, this is the prerogative of death-of “death alone”! While the Spiritualist says it is a messenger of life, and the hymn book says it is the voice of Jesus to call us to his arms, and the American Messenger that it has the key of life and opens the pearly gates, the Bible says it is the fruit and wages of sin, and he that had the power of death is the devil. How different-how widely different! With such unscriptural ideas the theology of the present age has prepared the way for the introduction of Satan’s last deception-Spiritualism. And still they go hand-in-hand, affirming that death qualifies our friends to guard and guide us, and render us that assistance that the living cannot give. The article from Mrs. Stowe noticed above, together with a large proportion of the pen and pulpit essays of the theology of this age, is Spiritualism denying its name. NTMS 68.10

“Sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” Therefore, if death is a friend, if it opens the elysian fields to our view, we must give all the praise to sin, or yet to the devil, by whom this “messenger of life” was sent on his errand of joy! NTMS 69.1

Wisdom cries, “All they that hate me, love death.” Oh! that men would listen to the voice of wisdom, and seek life through Jesus and the resurrection from the dead. The Lord, by the prophet, speaks of them that say: “We have made a covenant with death, and with hell [the grave] are we at agreement.” Isaiah 28:15. They despise the word of the Lord, calling “evil good, and good evil.” But there is a day coming when God will vindicate his truth, and his enemies shall perish; for he says, “And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” NTMS 69.2

But it is not alone by perverting terms, calling darkness light and evil good, that they deny the punishment of sin. The following, from the “Healing of the Nations,” well expresses their faith:- NTMS 70.1

“God doth not condemn. A God of perfect love and wisdom can never condemn those himself created, and who are not equally perfect and wise unto himself. When man feeleth condemnation, his own wisdom chides him for his failure to apply wisdom and love. He who hath not wisdom and love within to violate, cannot suffer, for these being violated is the inward cause of suffering.” Page 400. NTMS 70.2

The tendency of such teaching as this is unmistakable. We will now pass to consider that wherein they most manifestly destroy the distinctions of right and wrong. NTMS 70.3

3. They deny the plainest principles of morality. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” God requires us to perfect holiness in his sight, and to purify our souls in obeying the truth; but if there is no choice of action, or no difference worthy of notice between the principles of truth and error, right and wrong, how shall we assure our hearts before God? The teachings of Spiritualism are truly destroying the foundations, by denying the distinctions of right and wrong, and affirming that no evil consequence can result from any course of action. NTMS 70.4

We call the especial attention of all to this, as it is a point that interests all. Men who deny the Bible, who deny God, who deny Christ, will, in general, acknowledge some principles of right-some rules of morality to which they are ready to admit all should conform. This is “the work of the law written in the heart,” more generally acknowledged than any written revelation that ever was given. In all ages it has been the same. No considerable body of people, especially of those claiming the advantages of civilization, have ever denied this except the Spiritualists of the present time. If we do not make good this charge by sufficient proofs, we stand ready to be impeached. But this we firmly believe, that all history does not show a parallel to the teachings of this class, though among them may be found the learned, the refined, and the professedly pious. Believing thus, it becomes us to speak plainly, if haply any may be saved from the snare. The peril is too imminent, the hazard too great, and the time too far spent, to daub with untempered mortar. NTMS 71.1

We have quoted from the “Healing of the Nations,” which says God does not condemn any creature. This is certainly just and true if the following is true, found on page 169 of the same book:- NTMS 71.2

“Unto God there is no error: all is comparative good.” NTMS 71.3

And of an inspired teacher, it says:- NTMS 71.4

“He vieweth error as God vieweth it, as undeveloped good.” NTMS 71.5

A. J. Davis says:- NTMS 71.6

“Sin, indeed, in the common acceptation of that term, does not really exist.”-Nat. Div. Rev., page 521. NTMS 71.7

“The innate divineness of the spirit prohibits the possibility of spiritual wickedness, or unrighteousness.”-Id., page 413. NTMS 72.1

Dr. Hare has a set of “theological axioms,” of which he says the affirmative is “as evidently true as any of the axioms of Euclid.” In them he says:- NTMS 72.2

“May not devotion to God be shown,
Whether through Christ or Mohammed known?
Whether men die in holy war,
Or kneel to be crushed by Juggernaut’s car?”
NTMS 72.3

Another of his axioms is that God would not leave men in error, and then punish for the error; but if God sends them truth and light, and they choose darkness, and despise the truth, and defy his authority, would he not be just in punishing them? Does not the very idea of government, and the welfare of the subjects at large, demand the punishment of the rebellious? Do not such false reasonings tend to lawlessness and anarchy? NTMS 72.4

The doctor evidently regarded everything as devotion to God which professes to be devotional, even though it lead men to sacrifice their own or others’ lives. Perhaps he was moved by the spirit that dictated the “Healing of the Nations,” and so considered war undeveloped peace! And may they not also excuse the falsehoods in which their teachings and communications abound as undeveloped truth? NTMS 72.5

On page 230, he says:- NTMS 72.6

“As respects free-will, Dr. Johnson shrewdly said that all practice is in its favor, all theory against it; but whatever view may be taken on this subject, no one can deny that so far as it is possible for sin to be avoided, it must be within the power of God to make men virtuous. The fact that they are not sinless, must arise either from his not wishing to make them more virtuous, or from his inability to make them so. NTMS 72.7

That he does not make them free from sin, implies either a want of will or a want of power.” NTMS 73.1

But is it not possible for God to constitute man free to choose his course of action? and does not our very consciousness combine with “all practice” to prove it true? This is a thought which Spiritualists will not entertain; and why? Because it makes man accountable for his crimes, and so disturbs their self-complacency. So they will plead that God had not power to do as he pleased, or that everything, filthy and abominable as it may be, is pleasing to him. This fully justifies our parody of the doctor’s argument on page 21. War, murder, slavery, fraud, licentiousness, are “undeveloped good,” and according to the will of God, for which he “doth not condemn.” If any think this is unjustly severe, let them note what follows. On page 402, Dr. Hare says:- NTMS 73.2

“That anything should, even for an instant, be contrary to his will, is inconsistent with his foresight and omnipotency. It would be a miracle that anything counter to his will should exist.” NTMS 73.3

With this agree the words of A. J. Davis:- NTMS 73.4

“In the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures it is affirmed that sin is the transgression of the law. But by an examination of nature, the true and only Bible, it will be seen that this statement is erroneous. It gives a wrong idea both of man and law.... It will be found impossible for man to transgress a law of God.” NTMS 73.5

The above is from a lecture on the “Philosophy of Reform,” given in New York City; but if this is true, there is neither need nor chance for reform, unless it is God’s will that needs reforming! But he goes further, and says:- NTMS 73.6

“Reformers need to understand that war is as natural to one stage of human development as peace is natural to another. My brother has the spirit of revenge. Shall I call him a demon? Is not his spirit natural to his condition? War is not evil or repulsive except to a man of peace. Who made the warrior? Who made the non-resistant? Polygamy is as natural to one stage of development as oranges are natural to the South. Shall I grow indignant, and because I am a monogamist, condemn my kinsman of yore? Who made him? Who made me? We both came up under the confluence of social and political circumstances; and we both represent our conditions and our teachers. The doctrine of blame and praise is natural only to an unphilosophical condition of mind. The spirit of complaint-of attributing ‘evil’ to this and that plane of society-is natural; but is natural only to undeveloped minds. It is a profanation-a sort of Atheism of which I would not be guilty. And all our religions, all our schemes of reformation, operating on this superficial plane, need the very elements which are necessary to reform.” NTMS 73.7

So revenge, war, polygamy, and every violation of the principles of morality, may not be blamed. According to “the true and only Bible,” it is impossible to do wrong! To call murder and adultery evil is “a sort of Atheism.” It seems quite unnecessary to pursue this point further. Any further “progress” in this direction is impossible. They may go some further in practice than they have gone, but the theory of lawlessness is fully developed. NTMS 74.1

A. P. McCombs, a Spiritualist, in a tract entitled “Whatever Is, Is Right, Vindicated,” says.- NTMS 74.2

“I will not contend about how Pope or anybody else viewed the axiom, or into what departments of God’s universe they give it entrance; I believe that ‘Whatever is, is Right,’ in its fullest and broadest sense, covering every act in the past, present, and future.” NTMS 74.3

For an utter contempt of Bible truth and of the authority of God, for an open rejoicing in iniquity, the following has few parallels. It is from a defense of the theater, by Mrs. Crowell, in Chicago:- NTMS 74.4

“The first woman plucked of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and gave it to the first man to eat, and thus brought death (a doubtful evil) into the world; ergo, woman ought to be abolished. But I, a woman, uphold and glory in the deed of the first of my sex.... Woman plucked from the tree of knowledge-not from the tree of life. Sublime choice!” NTMS 74.5

Publishing this, the editor of the Religio-Philosophieal Journal (Chicago Spiritualist) made the following comment:- NTMS 75.1

“But what is stranger than all, if God drove the first woman out of Eden for the act referred to, that he should have restrained his vengeance toward this woman who publicly glories in these acts. Lo! these are strange times upon which we have fallen, and ‘straws show which way the wind blows.’” NTMS 75.2

These extracts remind us of the blasphemous utterances of the “French Revolution;” but instead of disproving that scripture, as the editor intimates, it proves the truth of another most clearly: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Ecclesiastes 8:11. NTMS 75.3

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Isaiah 5:20. Read Malachi 2:17. NTMS 75.4