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Observer, Feb. I, '75.

ism. But the question of vital importance is, to what cause can these events be ascribed ? Those who believe in the genuineness and authenticity of the books contained in the Holy Scriptures, and accept them as the inspired word of God, will not be at a loss for a reply, and will at once ascribe them to an extraordinary exercise of the power of the Omnipotent; a cause, the adequacy of which (if it really were present) none can deny. Not only throughout the whole of the Old and New Testament are these exceptions to the ordinary course of Nature never attributed to the intervention of the Spirits of the departed, but in only two instances of the many recorded miracles, have such Spirits any concern whatever. We have in the Biblical Miracles no groping in the dark, no experimenting with a force about which the operators knew little, no essays which sometimes succeeded and as often failed (these are the admitted characteristics of the “Spirit Force,") but always does the desired end follow the appeal to the Divine Power. Nor do the Scriptures contain any intimation that such communication between the living and the dead might ever be expected. Surely we have a right to conclude that if the Bible contains all the information we possess as to the destiny and condition of the soul of man after death, and if such things were ever to forin part of God's dealings with us, we should not have been left unenlightened on so momentous a /topic. If we are asked to show that the age of miracles is past, I reply by asking for proof that “Spiritualism" has ever commenced, and I assert that such proof will be sought in vain in either the Old or New Testament. Granted that the Spirit of Samuel did appear to Saul,* and that Moses and Elias did converse with our Lord the Mount, the onus of proving that these miracles were wrought by “Mediumistic" power, and not by the same Divine Power which was professedly the operative force in the other Biblical Miracles, rests upon the assertors of this novel theory.

This view of the distinction between the cause alleged for the Scriptural Miracles and that assigned for the marvels of modern Spiritualism, will be abundantly confirmed if we compare the two classes of phenomena with regard to their external marks and their consequences.

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First as to the manifestations themselves.

1.-The miracles of Christ are all characterised by simplicity and dignity. We find no resort to elaborate accessories. Indeed in only one of the thirty-three recorded examples of the miraculous power of our Lord are any mechanical means whatever employed. I refer, of course, to the mixture of clay and spittle used in the opening the eyes of him that was born blind. Surely none will contend that there was any virtue in this as a natural remedy which could even assist the Divine Power. Why this method was used I need not now stay to enquire. In the vast majority of cases “Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed,”—“I will, be thou clean,"—accurately foreshadow the only means employed. Now if Spiritualism be a mode of communication between the Spirits of the departed and the living,

* The Spiritualistic mind and conscience must be strangely constituted if they can fiud in the account of Saul's transactions with the woman at Endor, any encouragement for their practices, when it is recorded that “ Saul died for the transgression that he committed against the Lord, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit to enquire of it, and enquired not of the Lord.” 1 Chronicles x. 18.

Observer, Feb. 1, '75.

permitted by the same God through whose power the New Testament Miracles were wrought," what a falling off is here!" Can the ingenuity of man devise a more painfully clumsy method than rapping out answers to questions by the tilting of a table at certain letters of the alphabet, which letters when put together spell out the message ?

2.—Mark the undoubtedness of Christ's Miracles. If the account we have of the events is reliable, they cannot be explained on any other hypothesis. They were wrought in open day in the presence of friends and foes. No fortuitous concourse of circumstances, no law of nature unknown at the period, no theory that the supposed effects were due to the excited imagination of the spectators can explain them. The blind were made to see, the deaf to hear, and the dead were raised to life. How will Spiritualistic marvels bear such tests ? Some of the phenomena certainly may be explained as subjective impressions. With regard to others we have the evidence of those who have devoted much time and thought to their investigation (See Quaarterly Review, October, 1871), that the presence of one witness, not only sceptical but able to apply tests which really are crucial, does make a material difference to the manifestations. No feature of Spiritualism tends more to discredit its claims than the multiplicity of precautions used—the darkness—the long table cloths—and the various other mysterious contrivances, under the name of "conditions,” which are imposed upon spectators to limit their powers of observation.* If I have a good sovereign I don't care who rings it, but extreme nervousness about the tests which may be applied, will assuredly create suspicion as to the genuiness of the coin.

3.-Christ's Miracles were uniformly successful. They were not failures, they were not tentative. Never is an attempt made to exercise the superhuman power and the result a miscarriage. By the admission of Spiritualists, no guarantee can be given for the success of a séance. However this may be explained on scientific theories (though by the bye, of few sciences can anything similar be alleged), is it not a grave presumption against the supernatural hypothesis ?

4.—Again, the miracles of Christ though most of them instantaneous in their operation, were generally permanent in their results.

“ When Lazarus was raised from the dead, he did not merely move and speak, and die again, or come out of the grave and vanish: he returned to his home and his family and there continued.” How is it with the modern miracles? Is it not a fact that the extraordinary things which are alleged begin, continue, and end, in the room where the séance is held ? Who was ever able to produce anybody or anything on the day following which would attest the genuineness of the supernatural power? There are I know persons who advertise themselves as “healing mediums." Whether they have any patients, or whether if they have they are successful in effecting any cures I cannot say. But supposing these things are so—what then? Every medical man will tell you that in some diseases, especially in nervous affections, a belief in the possibility and probability of a cure, is the surest method of obtaining it, just as a fixed unbelief in the potency of the means employed will baffle all medical skill. We are therefore justified in excluding such cases from our consideration.

* For details of this description see Professor Tyndall's experiences in “ Fragments of Science."

Observer, Feb. 1, '75.

But after all that may be said about the miracles of Christ as wonders, we must never lose sight of the truth that their highest significance is as signs, witnesses to attest the truth of His message, and themselves confirmed by the character of the message. The force of the evidences of Christianity is grievously lessened if we separate the miracles from the Person of the worker, and from the doctrine He taught, and from the effect produced by His teaching on the world and on individuals. Space would fail me to dwell upon this, and though it applies with greater force to the Miracles of Christ than to the other supernatural occurrences of Bible history; yet it may be fearlessly alleged with regard to these, that not one was an unmeaning prodigy, devoid of moral purpose. “But taking the Miracles of Christ and His Apostles which belong to that highest and latest dispensation under which we live, we have a right to consider them as normal in their chief features, at least, for all future ages, or they will carry the sentence of condemnation on their front. They must not be aimless, objectless fantastic freaks of power—they must not be ludicrous, grotesque jests." I quote from Trench, in reference to the supposed Medieval Miracles (the reality of which, together with that of ghost stories, and modern Roman Catholic Miracles, Mr. Wallace has the consistency to admit,) but I leave those who have any knowledge of spiritualistic manifestations to say if it will not apply with even increased force to these.

Nor is the case of the Spiritualists improved if we come from the
marvels which accompany the delivery of the message to the message
itself. Is it not notorious that most of these utterances are monstrously
absurd, so that they give a low idea, indeed, of the intellectual character
of the denizens of the spirit world?
Shakespeare has told us

“There's not the smallest orb, which thou behold’st,
But in its motion like an angel sings :
Such harmony is in immortal souls ;
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.”
but judging from the inane and ridiculous communications with which
enquiring mortals are generally favoured, it would seem that the sounds
emanating from the “immortal souls,” when freed from the “ dy
vesture of decay,” are nothing better than harsh, and unintelligible
discords, or as a recent number of a Spiritualistic publication naively
puts it," there are bigger fools on the other side than here.” Well may
Professor Huxley write, “ Better live a crossing-sweeper than die and
be made to talk twaddle by a 'medium,' hired at a guinea a séance !"

But disregarding for a moment these unmeaning and ridiculous answers, and taking the teaching of the supposed Spirits at its highest and best, what is it worth and what has it done? Has any truth previously unknown to mankind ever been communicated ? Has the stock of human knowledge ever been thus increased, by one iota? I challenge the Spiritualists to produce a single instance. From a system which professes to supersede the revelation we possess, or which some of us think we possess, we have a right to expect some practical results of value. We know something of what Christianity has done, we believe that despite the many failures and defects of the Christian Church in


Observer, Feb. 1, 75.

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the present day, it is still doing something to advance the physical, moral and spiritual welfare of man. Have the apostles of Spiritualism any new remedies for the many social and moral evils which are in our midst? Are their remedies effectual ? Do the lives of their followers stand out as bright examples of something higher, purer, and more selfsacrificing than those of the rest of mankind ? I may be told I am seeking to apply an exacting test. It is so:—and one I should not attempt to apply to many useful and beneficent organisations. But Christianity professes its willingness to be thus tried, and claims to satisfy the ordeal, and a system which asserts for itself an authority at least co-ordinate with that of Christianity, must expect to have its pretensions judged in like manner. It is true that the literature of Spiritualism is full of “tall talk,” in the style which the Americans call "Spread Eagleism" about the “kingdom of freer thought, and larger life, and clearer light, and sweeter charities, and nobler love” which it is bringing in. I am, however, the less impressed by this bombastic rhetoric, when I remember it is also affected by the Shakers, the Mormons, the Free-lovers and every other sect which professes to have a nostrum for the regeneration of humanity. We can afford to wait for results—" By their fruits ye shall know them.”

It is however argued, that whatever may be the character of the manifestations, and of the utterances, their inestimable value is, that they are a refutation of the growing materialism of the age, and a demonstration of the immortality of the soul. To this I would reply that Christians are satisfied with the assurance they, at present, have of the “life and immortality” which have been “ brought to light by the gospel." Mr. Gerald Massey, in one of his pamphlets, draws a pitiable picture of a father mourning the loss of his child and inconsolably distressed, because of the doubts he has of its continued existence and welfare. The insinuation that this illustration at all represents the state of mind in which Christians usually think of the condition of those who have "died in the faith," I emphatically and indignantly repudiate. Irrepressible grief at the bereavement, painful inability to recognise the hand of a wise and loving father, there often is; but the vestige of doubt that the “ blest shade has passed “

“ to the realms of bliss,"

Where is the Christian Father who has not in reference to any deceased child been able to say in the language of David, “I shall go to him but he will not return to me.”

This craving for an absolute demonstration of the immortality of the soul, betrays a radically false conception of the character of the evidences available for the defence of Christianity. If this were attainable it would be strangely out of harmony with the arguments which can be adduced in support of the verities of the Christian faith. It is conceivable that the All-wise might have chosen to make the revelation of His will, as plain and unequivocal as if it had been blazoned on the skies. But we do not find that He has chosen this method. No where have we ready to hand a proof amounting to mathematical certainty, which objectively would be equally good for every man. The argument for what we, as Christians, believe, is not single and logical, but moral and cumulative. • We walk by faith and not by sight." Those who have studied Butler's Analogy will not be at a loss for an explanation why this



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Observer, Feb. 1 ,75.

is so.

Thus the only semblance of a reason for the existence of Spiritualism is to my mind an argument against it, since the alleged advantage is at once superfluous and unattainable.

It may be said that all these are only a priori arguments, any number of which are entirely beside the mark in a question of fact. But where a metaphysical cause is assigned for a physical fact, we are justified in enquiring what we know of the laws of that kingdom to which the alleged cause belongs; and if we have any reliable knowledge, and it is entirely inconsistent with the production of such a cause, it is, at least, a grave presumption that the cause is something else. This presumption will of course be strengthened if the consequences deducted from the theory in question are inconsistent with themselves.

Spiritualism professes to speak with authority on questions of faith and morals, and we find in most of its exponents (Mr. Wallace, for example), a sort of summary of its faith, and of the moral system it enjoins. At the same time, it is admitted that the Spirits who hold communication with mortals are of all sorts: good and bad—truthful and lying-wise and foolish. This, by the way, is often a convenient

hypothesis ; for should any information from the Spirit-world turn out to be inaccurate, as for instance, an account of the death of Livingstone given some twelve months before his decease, it merely proves the mendacity of the spirit who gave the intelligence. But this being so, it becomes interesting and important to know where, when, by whom, and to whom the revelation of this authorative system of morals was made? Whether on a single occasion, or rather at a single séance ; and if so, by what signs of its superiority was it accompanied ? or if not, in whom resides the infallible power of selecting and collating its various parts ? Now these are not speculative difficulties, for a recent number of the Spiritualist contained a review of the life of Mahomet, in which the “prophet was described as a “medium” of very advanced development, whose intercourse with the Spirit-world was most intimate, and who was indebted to the teaching of the “ Spirits” for his system of religion, and to their instrumentality for its success.

I have always understood that the difference between the Christian and Mussulman standard of morality, was sufficiently great as to constitute a practical difficulty, if for both systems there is the same sanction.


I have before me an American pamphlet which plainly states (and quotes confirmatory evidence from the writings of Spiritualists themselves,) that the tendency of the system in the United States, is not only irreligious but immoral. I regret that space will not allow me to make longer excerpts from this little work, but one must suffice as a sample. Joel Tiffany (described as “one of the most distinguished advocates of Spiritualism,") says: "Spiritualism, in throwing away the theology of the Churches, had made a sad mistake in throwing away their religion also; and hence modern Spiritualism was proving both to its converts, and to the world a curse rather than a blessing."—(Report of Lecture in Painesville (Ohio), Telegraph.) This is rather extraordinary and unlooked for in a system for which Mr. Wallace claims that it “ forms the only sure foundation for a true philosophy, and a pure religion.'

Mr. Wallace bases an argument for the reliability of "Spirit" communications, upon the assumed fact that they exhibit a marvellous

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