The Nature and Tendency of Modern Spiritualism


Chapter Five. Their Tendency Is to Atheism and Immorality

We are not left to conjecture what may be the result of such teachings; they are bearing fruit which is abundantly manifest, and we trust that all will justify our strictures when the result is pointed out. But it may be objected that such declarations as we have quoted from the “Healing of the Nations,” Dr. Hare, Davis, and others, will not be found in the writings of all. To this objection we answer by applying principles, as to other evils. Thus: The apologists of slavery will acknowledge that there are evils and abuses attending the system, of which they do not approve; that there are also good and kind masters, who do not abuse their slaves; to which we reply: What are termed the abuses are a vital part of the system; there is nothing in the system to prevent such abuses; the kind-hearted masters have really been the greatest foes to humanity, giving respectability to that which is in its very nature evil. So in regard to “respectable houses” and “fashionable saloons” in the traffic in ardent spirits. While the evils are necessary consequents of the systems, it were far better to let them bear only their hideous features, that mankind might reprobate them and put them away. And so of Spiritualism. There has nothing been published by Spiritualists that would forbid the sentiments we have quoted. The tendency of all that we have seen is in the same direction. We do not offer the testimony of those who have opposed it as a trick, a humbug, but of those who have examined it, embraced it, and been its firm adherents. 3 NTMS 75.5

Joel Tiffany, a well-known lecturer and publisher of the spiritualistic views, has testified on this point. Although quoted before, we repeat his testimony in this connection because of its importance:- NTMS 76.1

“In an article entitled, ‘Spiritualism,’ published in the December number of the Monthly, among other faults and errors, I charged that its influence had tended to create a kind of moral and religious Atheism-that these modern developments had not awakened religious aspirations in the minds of those who had been the subjects of them. To this charge many took exceptions as being too severe. I have carefully investigated its truth since that time, and find the charge to be just. My experience has been, go among Spiritualists where you will, and, as a general thing, they have no faith in a living, conscious, intelligent Deity; possessed of love, volition, affection, etc., as an object of religious aspiration and worship. They feel no demand for worship themselves, and they denounce and ridicule its exercise in others. On an examination both of their theoretical and practical faith in God, you will find that it amounts to nothing but an indefinite and incoherent Pantheism.” NTMS 77.1

Dr. Randolph was eight years a medium and a lecturer. He has given his opinion of it, from which we extract as follows:- NTMS 77.2

“I enter the arena as the champion of common sense, against what in my soul I believe to be the most tremendous enemy of God, morals, and religion, that ever found foothold on the earth-the most seductive, hence the most dangerous, form of sensualism that ever cursed a nation, age, or people. I was a medium about eight years, during which time I made three thousand speeches, and traveled over several different countries, proclaiming the new gospel. I now regret that so much excellent breath was wasted, and that my health of mind and body was well-nigh ruined. I have only begun to regain both since I totally abandoned it, and to-day had rather see the cholera in my house than be a spiritual medium! NTMS 77.3

“As a trance-speaker, I became widely known; and now aver that during the entire eight years of my mediumship, I firmly and sacredly confess that I had not the control of my own mind, as I now have, one-twentieth of the time; and before man and high Heaven I most solemnly declare that I do not now believe that during the whole eight years I was sane for thirty-six consecutive hours, in consequence of the trance and susceptibility thereto. NTMS 77.4

“For seven years I held daily intercourse with what purported ported to be my mother’s spirit. I am now fully persuaded that it was nothing but an evil spirit, an infernal demon, who in that guise gained my soul’s confidence, and led me to the very brink of ruin. We read in Scripture of demoniac possession as well as of normal spiritual action. Both facts exist provable to-day; I am positive the former does. A. J. Davis and his clique of Harmonialists say there are no evil spirits. I emphatically deny the statement. Five of my friends destroyed themselves, and I attempted it, by direct spiritual influences. Every crime in the calendar has been committed by mortal movers of viewless beings. Adultery, fornication, suicides, desertions, unjust divorces, prostitution, abortion, insanity, are not evils, I suppose! I charge all these to this scientific Spiritualism. It has also broken up families, squandered fortunes, tempted and destroyed the weak. It has banished peace from happy families, separated husbands and wives, and shattered the intellect of thousands. 4 NTMS 77.5

J. F. Whitney, editor of the N. Y. Pathfinder, gives his opinion. The following extracts will show his opportunities and ability to judge of its character and tendency:- NTMS 78.1

“Now, after a long and constant watchfulness, seeing for months and for years its progress and its practical workings upon its devotees, its believers, and its mediums, we are compelled to speak our honest conviction, which is, that the manifestations coming through the acknowledged mediums, who are designated as rapping, tipping, writing, and entranced mediums, have a baneful influence upon believers, and create discord and confusion; that the generality of these teachings inculcate false ideas, approve of selfish individual acts, and indorse theories and principles which, when carried out, debase and make men little better than the brute. These are among the fruits of Modern Spiritualism, and we do not hesitate to say that we believe if these manifestations are continued to be received, and to be as little understood as they are, and have been, since they made their appearance at Rochester, and mortals are to be deceived by their false, fascinating, and snake-like charming powers, which go with them, the day will come when the world will require the appearance of another Saviour to redeem the world from its departing from Christ’s warnings.... NTMS 78.2

“Seeing, as we have, the gradual progress it makes with its believers, particularly its mediums, from lives of morality to those of sensuality, and immorality, gradually and cautiously undermining the foundation of good principles, we look back with amazement to the radical change which a few months will bring about in Individuals, for its tendency is to approve and indorse each individual act and character, however good or bad these acts may be.... NTMS 78.3

“We desire to send forth our warning voice, and if our humble position, as the head of a public journal, our known advocacy of Spiritualism, our experience, and the conspicuous part we have played among its believers, the honesty and the fearlessness with which we have defended the subject, will weigh anything in our favor, we desire that our opinions may be received, and those who are moving passively down the rushing rapids to destruction, should pause, ere it be too late, and save themselves from the blasting influence which those manifestations are causing.” NTMS 79.1

Almost every one who has heard of Spiritualism has heard of Cora Hatch, the great trance-speaking medium who, accompanied by her husband, Dr. Hatch, has traveled extensively and astonished multitudes by her extemporaneous lectures on various subjects. Dr. H. has renounced Spiritualism, and we subjoin extracts from his testimony. Cora, lately his wife, is still a medium, and has separated herself from him and chosen an affinity. Dr. Hatch says:- NTMS 79.2

“All Spiritualists claim that the mental control of mediums is spiritual psychology, and that, for the time being, the mind is held in perfect vassalage to the controlling spirit. Also, that the spirit world is made up of just such persons as are daily passing from this world to that, and that both the good and evil alike have power to return and obsess mortals who are mediumistic. Therefore, taking the concession of the Spiritualist and combining it with the well-known laws of psychological control, we are inevitably forced to the following conclusion, viz., that there is no reliance to be placed upon the veracity or moral integrity of any mental medium on earth. Their oath would be wholly unreliable, for the moment they are called upon to bear witness they may become infested or obsessed by an outside influence which desires to give different testimony, and thereby made to utter such statements as they know to be wholly false, when in their normal condition; and at the same time they may be, apparently, perfectly themselves in reference to all other things. Here we have a basis, according to the Spiritualist’s own theory, which is incontrovertible, and which establishes upon immutable laws the perfect unreliability of mediums. NTMS 79.3

The most damning iniquities are everywhere perpetrated in Spiritual circles, a very small percentage of which ever comes to public attention. I care not whether it be Spiritual or mundane, the facts exist, and should demand the attention and condemnation of an intelligent community.... NTMS 80.1

“It is worse than useless to talk to the Spiritualists against this condition of things; for those who occupy the highest position among them are aiding and abetting in all classes of iniquities which prevail among them. The abrogation of marriage, bigamy, accompanied by robbery, theft, rapes, are all chargeable upon Spiritualism. I most solemnly affirm that I do not believe that there has during the past five hundred years, arisen any people who are guilty of so great a variety of crimes and indecencies as the Spiritualists of America. NTMS 80.2

“For a long time I was swallowed up in its whirlpool of excitement, and comparatively paid but little attention to its evils, believing that much good might result from the openings of the avenues of Spiritual intercourse. But during the past eight months I have devoted my attention to critical investigation of its moral, social, and religious bearing, and I stand appalled before the revelations of its awful and damning realities.” NTMS 80.3

This evidence of Dr. Hatch perfectly accords with that of Mr. Tiffany, Mr. Whitney, and Dr. Randolph. And later still, “Rev. T. L. Harris,” of New York City, a noted medium, through whom some of the most popular spirit-publications were given, renounced it, and gave a testimony as strong as any of the preceding. The quotation we take from the N. Y. Tribune, Feb. 25, 1860, as copied from the London Advertiser. It says:- NTMS 80.4

“We went to the place from a sense of duty, expecting, as did all the 300 or 400 Spiritualists who were present, that we should hear the most masterly vindication of Spiritualism that could be given; and hoping that having once heard its ablest defense, we should be the more fitted, as opportunity offered, to expose with greater success the iniquities, the dangers, and the disastrous results, morally, socially, and physically, of this latest and most insidious form of Pantheism. NTMS 80.5

“Mr. Harris held up to the eyes of his audience the system of Spiritualism as the most hideous and horrible thing which had ever come from the nether world. He said that he himself was a living proof of the danger, mentally and physically, of cultivating the so-called science of Spiritualism. He mentioned that only a few years ago it had taken so absorbing a possession of his mind, and had obtained so complete a mastery over him, that it gave rigidity to the muscles of his frame, and a terrible unearthly expression to his countenance. He added that he had seen and known many others-excellent and amiable persons before they became Spiritualists-from whom the power which the demoniacal system had acquired over them had taken away their appetites, had unfitted them for the ordinary duties of life, crushed all their energies, mental and physical, deprived them of sleep at night, and caused their bodies to waste away, as if the victims of some fell disease which set all medical skill at defiance. Others he had known and seen, whose arms and legs had become as cold and rigid as those of a marble statue, while the expressions of their countenances were so horrible as more to resemble those of demons than of human beings. The Spiritualists of America, he further stated, are not only as a body Pantheists, rejecting alike the idea of the Scriptures as a divine revelation, and of the existence of a God, but they are gross sensualists and utterly immoral in their conduct in all the relations of life. NTMS 81.1

“Mr. Harris added, that this was not only true of the Transatlantic Spiritualists as a body, but that it was true of every 999 out of 1000 of their number. Thousands of persons had died in America during the fifteen years that he had been a Spiritualist, who had notoriously lived most immoral lives, and yet the spirits of every one of these persons affirmed that they were all perfectly happy. The Spiritualist literature of America, Mr. Harris also stated, was, with one or two exceptions in a thousand cases, Pantheistic, feeble, driveling, nay, almost idiotic. The Spiritualists were utterly selfish, as well as sensual and grossly immoral. They were destitute of all human sympathies, and never were known to perform a single benevolent action. They fully believed that, in a future state, they would live the same licentious lives as they had done on earth. The American Spiritualists were in reality a body of Pagans, worshiping, like the ancient Pagans, obscene and, in every respect, grossly licentious deities. And as regards the spirits with whom they hold communion, they resembled the sorcerers and demons who took possession of men and women in the days of Christ, and are so frequently referred to in God’s word-that word which is the only sure foundation of our faith, and the only safe rule of our conduct. NTMS 81.2

“There were a few Christian men who had been deluded into the adoption of the system, but only in a modified degree, and so long as their Spiritualism was kept in subjection by their Christianity, the observations he had made did not apply to them. But these exceptions were so few as to be hardly worthy of notice. He begged to impress on the minds of his audience, that all that he had said of the system of Spiritualism, which he characterized as an infernal system, was the result of his own personal knowledge and experience. He mentioned some individual cases, of which he was an eye witness, in which the demon of Spiritualism had obtained so entire a mastery over its victims, as to throw them down on platforms and other public places, just as the evil spirits did of which we read in the New Testament. NTMS 82.1

The marriage vow imposes no obligations in the views of Spiritualists. Husbands who had for years been so devotedly attached to their wives, that they have said nothing in the world but death itself could part them, have abandoned their wives and formed criminal connections with other females, because the spirits had told them that there was a greater Spiritualist affinity between these husbands and certain other women, than between them and their lawful wives. Wives, too, the most devoted, and loving, and true to their husbands that had ever contracted the marriage obligation, had left their husbands and children, and lived in open immorality with other men, because the spirits had told them that they ought to do so on the ground of there being a greater Spiritualist sympathy between them and these men, than between them and their husbands.” NTMS 82.2

Later still we have the evidence of Dr. Wm. B. Potter of N. Y. In an article under the head of “Astounding Facts,” and also in a tract entitled, “Spiritualism as it Is,” he has given us the result of his experience and observation. While he portrays Spiritualism with as horrible features as any of the preceding witnesses, his testimony is still more conclusive, if possible, than theirs, as he is yet a Spiritualist, and does not publish to renounce the system, for he still advocates it publicly but with the vain hope of inducing Spiritualists to correct their errors and amend their lives. We have only room for brief extracts, sufficient, however, to give us a fair view of this most monstrous of all abominations. He says:- NTMS 82.3

“Fifteen years of critical study of Spiritual literature, an extensive acquaintance with the leading Spiritualists, and a patient, systematic, and thorough investigation of the manifestations, for many years, enable us to speak from actual knowledge, definitely and positively, of ‘Spiritualism as it Is.’ Spiritual literature is full of the most insidious and seductive doctrines calculated to undermine the very foundations of morality and virtue, and lead to the most unbridled licentiousness. NTMS 83.1

“We are told that ‘we must have charity,’ that it is wrong to blame any one, that we must not expose iniquity as ‘it will harden the guilty,’ that ‘none should be punished,’ that ‘man is a machine and not to blame for his conduct,’ that ‘there is no high, no low, no good, no bad,’ that ‘sin is a lesser degree of righteousness,’ that ‘nothing we can do can injure the soul or retard its progress,’ that ‘those who act the worst will progress the fastest,’ that ‘lying is right, slavery is right, murder is right, adultery is right,’ that whatever is, is right.... NTMS 83.2

“Hardly can you find a Spiritualist book, paper, lecture, or communication, that does not contain some of these pernicious doctrines; in disguise, if not openly. Hundreds of families have been broken up, and many affectionate wives deserted by ‘affinity-seeking’ husbands. Many once devoted wives have been seduced, and left their husbands and tender, helpless children, to follow some ‘higher attraction.’ Many well-disposed but simple-minded girls have been deluded by ‘affinity’ notions, and led off by ‘affinity-hunters,’ to be deserted in a few months, with blasted reputations, or led to deeds still more dark and criminal, to hide their shame.” NTMS 83.3

Speaking of the prevalence and influence of licentious principles among Spiritualists, he mentions the following well-known fact:- NTMS 83.4

“At the National Spiritual Convention, at Chicago, called to consider the question of a National Organization, the only plan approved by the committee especially provided that no charge should ever be entertained against any member, and that any person, without any regard to his or her moral character, might become a member.” NTMS 83.5

Such statements as these do not surprise us at all. We cannot be surprised that effect follows cause. We have shown that the teachings of Spiritualism lead to this result, a result we have looked for since the first introduction of this system of error. NTMS 84.1

The Cleveland Herald, speaking of Dr. Hatch’s statements, says:- NTMS 84.2

“The Doctor gives other cases to illustrate this, but those of our readers who saw the experiments made in this city not long since by Spencer, need no further proof of the assertion, that there are cases in which the subject becomes perfectly under the control of the operator.” NTMS 84.3

Spiritualists claim that “the spirits” can work wonders through the media that mesmeric and psychological operators cannot reach through their subjects. Of course they must have entire, complete control of the medium. In connection with this fact, take the admissions of Spiritualists that no spirit can be identified, and what a field of deception is opened before us! This point we will next examine. NTMS 84.4