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table rose in the air, while another (who had been watching its feet) is confident that it never left the ground; a whole party of believers will affirm that they saw Mr. Home float out of one window and in at another, whilst a single honest sceptic declares that Mr. Home was sitting in his chair all the time."
To illustrate the way in which persons are sometimes unconsciously misled by a strong mental prepossession, Dr. Hammond relates the following incident :
"I took a small oblong Japanese table weighing only a pound and a half, and in the presence of a young man of a highly impressionable nervous organization, and hence peculiarly well fitted to be acted upon by the force of suggestion, placed it upon the floor of my consulting room, raising a corner of the rug so that it could rest upon the bare floor. I then said to him, 'I am going to make this table so heavy that you cannot raise it: please give me your
attention for a few minutes.'
"I then placed the ends of my fingers of both hands on the table and stood in that position for about fifteen minutes. During this procedure, the young man looked at the table and me with the greatest interest, and when I saw from the expression of his face that his attention was sufficiently concentrated, I removed my hands and told him the table was now fastened to the floor, and that he could not lift it. He took hold of the light object with both hands, and appeared to be making strong efforts to raise it from the floor, but he could not, and I saw that so far from endeavouring to lift it as he supposed he was doing, he was in reality pressing it with all his might towards the floor. Finally he broke the top of the table in half, not by holding, but by pushing. He then desisted from his exertions and asked me to lighten the table so that he could lift it. I made a few passes over it, and then telling him he could raise it easily, he took hold of it and succeeded of course, without any appreciable exertion."
This seems scarcely credible. One would think there are not many
of such "a highly impressionable nervous organization" as to be thus deluded without being positively insane. Yet Dr. Hammond quotes equally astounding things from a lecturer on phrenology and animal magnetism, who has the greatest contempt for spiritism.
Dr. Hammond gives a good account of the experiments made by Mr. Crookes with regard to the variations in the weight of bodies produced by what he terms psychic force. After a careful consideration of the experiments performed by so accurate and trustworthy au investigator as Mr. Crookes, and attested as to the material facts by so cautious an observer as Mr. Huggins, he has arrived at the conclusion that to that extent they are correct, and that "Mr. Home was capable, without the exertion of muscular force, of so acting on the spring balance through the medium of the board as to indicate an increase of weight." Having made this liberal concession, he thus proceeds:
"But in admitting the facts, we go as far as it is possible to advance without meeting with uncertainties and assumptions. To attribute the falling of the index of the spring balance to spiritual agency is about as sensible as to allege its causation by lunar influence. Indeed, far less so, for we know that the moon does exert a very powerful effect upon the earth, and we have no satisfactory evidence to show that spiritual beings affect in any way the substances belonging to our planet. or even that such beings exist. Neither is Mr. Crookes much more happy with his psychic force.' Because a spring balance with a board attached to it. indicates increased weight when a person touches the arrangement in the manner described, that is certainly no adequate reason for rushing to the conclusion that a new force has been discovered. Mr. Huggins, while admitting the facts, exercises a proper degree of philosophical caution when he declines to express an opinion rela
tive to the cause of the phenomenon. There are so many ways in which known forces manifest themselves, and so little is known of the laws which govern them, that Mr. Crookes might, for the present, with safety and propriety, have held his opinion in abey. ance. Of course such a thing as a 'psychic force' is possible. But possibilities and actualities are very dif-. ferent things, and it will require much more evidence than that now submitted to remove Mr. Crookes's new power from the one category to the other.
"But the best evidence against the existence of spiritualistic force in the matter of Mr. Crookes's experiment, is the fact that the index can be made to move in the way and probably to the extent mentioned by him by similar pressure exerted by many persons not pretenders to mediumistic powers, and in whom there is no evidence tending to show the existence of any hitherto unknown force."
Experimenting with an apparatus like Mr. Crookes's, Dr. Hammond succeeded in producing similar variations of weight by means of electricity, and he thinks it not improbable that Mr. Home may have exercised sufficient electric force to have produced the observed results. Be this correct or not, there is no warrant for the assumption of a psychic or spiritual force. The ut most that can with reason be main tained is, that there is some force in operation, the laws of which have not yet been ascertained-in short, an unknown force. To call it psychic or spiritual conveys no real knowledge, and suggests all sorts of fallacious notions.
Reason and Revelation. Being an Examination into the Nature and Contents of Scripture Revelation as Compared with other forms of Truth. By W. Horne, M.A. H. S. King and Co., 1876.-Some years ago a prize of £100 was offered by a
gentleman, who did not make known his name, for the best essay on "The Nature and Contents of Scripture Revelation as Compared with other Forms of Truth." The
adjudicators awarded the prize to Mr. Horne, who has since re-written, enlarged, and remodelled his essay, which now forms a considerable volume. Mr. Horne, while admitting that many previous writers have fully discussed particular parts of the subject, claims the credit of being the first to treat it as a whole. He has certainly taken a wide range, as was perhaps inevitable from the extended and indeterminate character of the title given him. "The Nature and Contents of Scripture Revelation " is a pretty considerable subject in itself, if treated with any sort of thoroughness and completeness, to say nothing of "other Forms of Truth," which may embrace any branch of philosophy and science, if not history, biography, and every-day news. In fact, it is hard to say what may not be included within such elastic limits. Mr. Horne has treated, not so much of one subject as of many and various topics. He says his object has "been that of comparing the flitting images and apparent (query, apparently?) broken outlines
of truth which come to us from various sources." It was a natural, if not necessary result of including so many subjects within his scope, that he should not have discussed any oue of them otherwise than in very fragmentary fashion. He touches upon mythology, ancient and modern theism, conscience, miracles, prophecy, inspiration, the consciousness of spiritual facts, the Bible and theology, the Bible and science, Christianity and morality, and various other matters. Strange to say, out of nineteen chapters, he has only one on "The Contents of the Bible."
Mr. Horne objects to the popular
conception of revelation“ as a com- in the ordinary course of events," munication of a set of doctrines he does not explain, still less does contained in a particular book," and he furnish any sort of proof of the prefers regarding it as "the unveil- correctness of his view, though he ing of the divine through spiritual says “prove all things” is an facts made luminous in the ordinary essential part of the teaching of course of events, whether in nature Christianity. One of the most or in bistory.” This may wear marked features of his volume is rather a startling aspect for some, the dearth of argument in support but other portions of the volume of the assertions made throughout show plainly enough that on the it. The writer repeatedly says main points of religious belief Mr. he has proved this and that in Horne does not differ from the previous pages; but on turning generality of Christians. He is
back to them, we have found no. more mystical than sceptical. It is thing beyond bare assertion. His to be regretted that he has not ex- notion of proof is evidently differpressed bis views with such distinct- ent from the ordinary one. Logic ness and precision as to be clearly is a study to which he appears to understood by all. He talks much have devoted little attention, otherabout spiritual facts, spiritual ex- wise he would surely have been periences, spiritual consciousness, more precise in his statements, and spiritual manifestation, the spiritual more careful to substantiate them faculty, and so forth, without giving by intelligible and legitimate arguany precise definition of the sense ment. he attaches to the word spiritual, The following passage may be which in these days has various taken as comprising the main drift meanings. He does, indeed, give a of the whole work :negative description of what he means: “ The character of tbe
“ There never has been an objection, spiritual is such that the common that could bear looking at, brought eye cannot discern it, and the ordi
against Christianity as a spiritual renary course of things cannot suggest ligion. Without exception they have it to the mind of man.” But this been objections brought against many is hardly precise enough, because it things which a false theology has bound may without violence be said of the
up with religion. With ill-directed proceedings at spiritualistic séances, support as universal truths, and even
generosity men have undertaken to and even the performances of con
as vitally united with a spiritual jurors. Elsewhere Mr. Horne says, revelation, statements that are merely “ There are impressions produced the historical facts of the growth of upon men from a sphere outside intelligence. They have themselves that of the visual, the tactual,
believed, and made others imagine, or any other form of the merely through these facts, and have involved
that spiritual truth might be assailed sensible sphere.” Those who have experienced such impressions may
themselves in questionable answers to
objections that were pointless so far as understand Mr. Horne's meaning, regards the main question at issue. It but others and they are many, ac- 'may be granted, once for all, that you cording to his own confession- can match the early myths of the whose “consciousness is a great
Hebrews with those of neighbouring blank on supersensuous things," will
nations, that the Phænicians, Egypfind it impossible to enter into the
tians, Chaldees, and others with whom mystical phraseology with which his
they came into contact, contributed to book abounds. How he supposes
their intellectual growth, and furnished
them with a body of tales and systems “spiritual facts "are "made luminous of beliefs that were interwoven with
those of native origin; that you may find a cosmogony and the story of a flood in every nation; that you may discover the exact counterpart of the story of Eden in many lands, and the principle underlying it in almost all; that you may convict the Hebrew writers of as childish views of heaven and earth as other people, of as unworthy and degrading superstitions, or of beliefs as fantastical as those to whom no revelation such as theirs came. But no candid reader of the Bible would look for anything else. There is evident among the Jews a spiritual development, but there is no sign of a special immunity from error in thought on ordinary experiences. In the life eternal they were taught of God, as we must all be, if we are taught at all; in the knowledge of the sensible world around them they were taught as men from the beginning have been, and, to all appearances, to the end will be taught, viz., through gradual accumulations of experiences, and by careful and methodical comparisons. Knowledge in itself, that is not the result of inquiry and thought, is not so great a gain. A greater gain than any special knowledge is the cultivation and perfection of our powers of knowing. If, therefore, the Hebrews were exempted from pursuing the common road to wisdom, as some appear to think, we cannot envy them, since they must have missed the chief end of the acquisition of wisdom, the cultivation and perfection of their mental and moral nature. It is only by the exercise of any function that its ideal excellence can be realized, and we have no reason to think that the Jews were deprived of the only means by which their powers of observation and thought could be improved. A spiritual advantage that implies an irreparable intellectual loss of this kind would be, as we are constituted, a questionable gain.
"This appears to be the place for remarking that, when it is objected, as it often has been, against the Jewish religion and revelation, that the Jews in their treatment of the Canaanites, and in their exultation over deeds of
cruelty, as, for example, in one of their earliest and most vigorous and apparently most genuine songs, exhibit a condition of morality that is unworthy
a people who had the knowledge of God which they are reported to have had, it is an objection that tells unmistakably against the view of Divine guidance in every act of life and thought that has just been noticed. An answer to an objection like this is precluded to those who contend for guidance in every point. It is not open to them, as it would otherwise be, to say, who cares to defend the moral development of the Jews any more than their intellectual development? We do not seek to defend such developments elsewhere. The proper course here, as elsewhere, is explanation, not defence. Especially is it dangerous to defend this feature of Jewish history, as Mr. Mansel has done, by the extravagant supposition of a moral miracle-by what, to us, is worse than the act that is sought to be defended-the idea that murder may be a temporary suspension of morals and consistent with eternal morality. I shall have to notice elsewhere this notion of eternal morality; but I may say here that explanations intended to smooth such acts down as the result of special precepts cannot escape the prime difficulty, that they are expressions of a moral nature, which we are bound to interpret by these manifestations of itself."
One cannot but be amused at the easy confidence with which the author lays down the law, declaring (but not proving) that objections will not "bear looking at," summarily brushing aside the prevalent belief as "a false theology," and autocratically condemning the course adopted by other writers with the curt observation, that "The proper course here, as elsewhere, is explanation, not defence," without, however, furnishing the required explanation. It is all very well for him to deny the vital union of spiritual truth with what he obscurely describes as " merely the historical facts of the growth of intelligence;" but he is scarcely reasonable if he expects his solitary denial to outweigh the judgment of writers on both sides, without at least some explanation and argument. To make
his denial good, he should have shown in one or two instances how the spiritual truth could be separated from the other materials in which it is embedded, and with which it is incorporated, a task to which many have acknowledged themselves unequal.
It is a strange idea to suppose that any have undertaken to support the statements of Scripture that clash with modern ideas, simply out of "ill-directed generosity." Can Mr. Horne suppose for a moment that any Christian advocate ever intentionally gave the opposing party an undue advantage in argument? He tells us that the account in Genesis of the Creation is a hymn probably based upon "some older and cruder and more mythical forms," and, in point of scientific truth, it is not superior to other cosmogonies. What alone raises it above them is "a spiritual and Divine element;" but he gives no more specific account of this element, nor does he explain how it may be detected and elicited from the crude mythology in which it is embodied.
From the remark as to the Jews, that "In the life eternal they were taught of God, as we must all be," it would seem to be Mr. Horne's opinion that there was nothing more special about the revelation made to them than is experienced every day by ordinary Christians. This in itself is enough to startle some good people, and it is rendered still more startling by the further observation, that the spiritual knowledge thus communicated to them was no great gain compared with the advantage of ordinary knowledge acquired by the exercise of inquiry and thought.
Mr. Horne, like many before him, says there is no contradiction between the Bible and science, but only between "men's views of the Bible and science." The question
then comes as to whose views of the Bible are correct. Amid so many conflicting notions, which is one to choose? If positive assertion be a proof of truth, Mr. Horne may fairly claim undoubting allegiance. Unfortunately, he himself confesses truth has not yet been reached anywhere, and goes so far as to say,
am persuaded Christianity has yet to be expounded." These are astounding statements, especially taken in connection with the confident tone of easy assumption in which Mr. Horne writes. If, after all the years of earnest investigation and patient thought bestowed upon Christianity as revealed in Scripture, the so-called revelation is still an unsolved enigma, what hope is there of our ever understanding it aright? Mr. Horne supplies no clue for our guidance, beyond such oracular sayings as, that the kingdom of Christ is spiritual, and must be spiritually discerned by a Divine consciousness, a spiritual susceptibility," and that, "If we live in Him, then, through the spirit that proceeds from Him and God, we may be shown the deep things of God."
Mr. Horne shows an extensive acquaintance with philosophical and religious writers, and an intelligent appreciation of their views. His kindly spirit towards all, however mistaken he may deem them, is much to be admired.