Larger font
Smaller font

The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

 - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First

    “What Is This But Spiritualism?” The Signs of the Times 13, 34, pp. 536, 537.

    LAST week we gave some extracts which show that the churches and pulpits are in reality the strongest hope and support of Spiritualism. Through the kindness of a friend we are enabled to lay before our readers further and stronger proofs of this. Our correspondent sent us a paper containing a sermon by Dr. T. De Witt Talmage, entitled, “Employments in Heaven.” The Doctor has taken it upon himself to tell the world what dead people are doing. As he is the preacher whose sermons are the most widely read of any in the world, except perhaps Spurgeon’s, we shall make quite liberal extracts, especially as the sermon is of the very essence of Spiritualism. The sermon was preached Sunday, July 31, 1887. The “Rev.” Spiritualist says:—SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.1

    “The question is often silently asked, though perhaps never audibly propounded: ‘What are our departed Christian friends doing now?’ The question is more easily answered than you might perhaps suppose. Though there has come no recent intelligence from the heavenly city, and we seem dependent upon the story of eighteen centuries ago, still I think we may from strongest inference decide what are the present occupations of our transferred kinsfolk.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.2

    Yes, this question is more easily answered than the people generally suppose; and it is answered abundantly and authoritatively, but the trouble is the people will not believe the answer, even though it be given by the Lord himself. The word of God says, “The dead know not anything,” also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, and even their thoughts, “is now perished,” and that “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:6, 10. All this and much more says the Bible plainly, and yet says the Bible plainly, and yet says Dr. Talmage, “There has come no recent intelligence” on the subject. Has Mr. Talmage, with the rest of the Spiritualists, “progressed” beyond the Bible? Has the Bible become to him also as “a last year’s almanac,” so that it conveys no recent intelligence? For our part we would far rather have one sentence from the Bible than ten thousand from Dr. Talmage.SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.3

    “Our transferred kinsfolk.” Of course they are not dead. According to Dr. Talmage’s idea nobody ever dies. In his opinion the death of a Christian is a “translation better than Elijah’s.” And as they are only transferred of course their employment there is the same as here. So he says:—SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.4

    “You have, then, only by a sum in subtraction and a sum in addition to decide what are the employments of your departed friends in the better world. You are to substract from them all earthly grossness and add all earthly goodness, and then you are to come to the conclusion that they are doing now in Heaven what in their best moments they did on earth.SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.5

    “In the first place, I remark that all those of our departed Christian friends who on earth found great joy in the fine arts are now indulging their tastes in the same direction.... Are you so obtuse as to suppose that because the painter drops his easel and the sculptor his chisel and the engraver his knife, that therefore that taste, which he was enlarging and intensifying for forty or fifty years, is entirely obliterated? These artists, or these friends of art, on earth worked in coarse material and with imperfect brain and with frail hand. Now they have carried their art into larger liberties and into wider circumference. They are at their old business yet but without the fatigues, without the limitations, without the hindrances of the terrestrial studio. Raphael could now improve upon his masterpiece of Michael the Archangel, now that he has seen him, and could improve upon his masterpiece of the Holy Family, now that he has visited them. Michael Angelo could better present the Last Judgment after he has seen its flash and heard the rumbling battering rams of its thunder. Exquisite colors here, graceful lines here, powerful chiaroscuro here.... The reason that God took away their eye and their hand, and their brain, was that he might give them something more limber, more widely, more skillful, more multipliant.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.6

    So Michael Angelo has seen the last Judgment has he? If that be so how are the cases to end of those who are now living? And the painter, and the sculptor, and the engraver, are all “at their old business yet”! At first sight it would seem that Mr. Talmage has them “at their same old business,” in Heaven, but from what follows we might almost conclude that he allows them to conduct “their same old business” at the same old stand. But suppose he means that “they are at their same old business” in Heaven; then are we to believe that they are painting with brushes, on canvas, with oil? are they carving with knives on stones? or are they painting-engraving, etc., with space, on the sky, with air? We cannot see how it could be the former, because he says that “God took away their eye, and their hand, and their brain,” consequently they have no hand to handle a brush, and no eye to see canvas or brush or anything else, and no brain to know how to do anything, even if they had eyes and hands. Therefore it must be that they are painting, carving, engraving, etc., with space, on the sky, with air; that would seem to be about the only thing for such people to do who have neither body nor brain, nor eye nor hand. Unless indeed the Doctor allows them to carry on “their same old business,” on earth, through the mediumship of those who have eyes and hands and brains. From what follows it would fairly seem that he does even allow this. True, he does not say it of the painter, the sculptor, the engraven, and the musician, but he does say that the “Christian soldier,” the doctor, and the preacher carry on their “same old business” on earth.SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.7

    Here is what he says of the military folks:—SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.8

    “Again, I remark that those of our departed Christian friends who in this world had very strong military spirit are now in armies celestial and out on bloodless battle. There are hundreds of people born soldiers. They cannot help it. They belong to regiments in time of peace. They cannot hear a drum or fife without trying to keep step to the music. They are Christians, and when they fight they fight on the right side. Now when these, our Christian friends who had natural and powerful military spirit, entered Heaven, they entered the celestial army....SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.9

    “When those who had the military spirit on earth sanctified entered glory, I suppose they right away enlisted in some heavenly campaign, they volunteered right away. There must needs be in Heaven soldiers with a soldierly spirit. There are grand parade days when the King reviews the troops. There must be armed escorts sent out to bring up from earth to Heaven those who were more than conquerors.... Besides that, in our own world there are battles for the right and against the wrong, where we must have the heavenly military. This is what keeps us Christian reformers so buoyant. So few good men against so many bad men; so few churches against so many grog shops; so few pure printing presses against so many polluted printing presses; and yet we are buoyant and courageous, because while we know that the armies of evil in the world are larger in numbers than the army of the truth, there are celestial cohorts in the air fighting on our side.SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.10

    I have not so much faith in the army on the ground as I have in the army in the air. O God! open our eyes that we may see them. The military spirits that went up from earth to join the military spirits before the throne—Joshua, and Caleb, and Gideon, and David, and Samson, and the hundreds of Christian warriors who on earth fought with fleshly arm, and now having gone up on high are coming down the hill of heaven ready to fight among the invisibles. Yonder they are—coming, coming. Did you not hear them as they swept by?SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.11

    Anybody who is at all acquainted with Dr. Talmage’s intensely demonstrative, dramatic style of delivery, can readily imagine what effect this last appeal would have upon his audience. They would imagine that a host of them were really sweeping by and that they did “hear them as they swept by.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 536.12

    Then he talks in the Talmagian way of what “our mathematical friends,” and “our transferred and transported metaphysicians,” are doing. Then he tells of “our departed Christian explorers” scaling Mount Blanc “without alpenstock” and exploring “the coral depths of the ocean without a diving bell;” and tells what our departed students, and historians, and astronomers, and chemists, and geologists, and lawyers are doing, and finally comes to the doctors—not the doctors of a spiritualistic divinity, but the doctors of medicine—and tells what they are doing. Thus he says:—SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.1

    “What are our departed Christian friends who in this world had their old business. No sickness in Heaven, but plenty of sickness on earth, plenty of wounds in the different parts of God’s dominion to be healed and to be medicated. You cannot understand why that patient got well after all the skillful doctors of New York and Brooklyn had said he must die. Perhaps Abercrombie touched him—Abercrombie, who, after many years’ doctoring the bodies and the souls of people in Scotland, went up to God in 1864. Perhaps Abercrombie touched him.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.2

    Now suppose somebody who believes in Dr. Talmage’s spiritualistic bombast, should form a personal friendship and alliance with “Dr. Abercrombie” and should thereby become a “healing medium” who could deny the correctness of the logic of the thing? Who?SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.3

    Next he notices the people whose chief employment in this world was in visiting. Of them he says:—SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.4

    “But what are our friends who found their chief joy in conversation and in sociality doing now? In brighter conversation there and in grander sociality. What a place to visit in, where your next-door neighbors are kings and queens; you yourselves kingly and queenly. If they want to know more particularly about the first paradise, they have only to go over and ask Adam. If they want to know how the sun and the moon halted, they have only to go over and ask Joshua. [Indeed! What will Joshua know about it, more than anybody else? When he was on earth he didn’t know any more about “how” it was done, than we do. And when all get to Heaven will not all have an equal chance to know?] If they want to know how the storm pelted Sodom, they have only to go over and ask Lot. [What will Lot know about it? He didn’t see it. His wife did—perhaps.] If they want to know more about the arrogance of Haman, they have only to go over and ask Mordecai. If they want to know how the Red Sea boiled when it was cloven, they have only to go over and ask Moses.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.5

    He got off a long string of this kind of stuff, but we shall impose no more of it on our readers. But it is when he comes to the preachers, that he gives us the very cream of the cream of Spiritualism. Hear him:—SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.6

    “What are our departed Christian friends doing in Heaven, those who on earth found their chief joy in the gospel ministry? They are visiting their old congregations. Most of those ministers have got their people around them already. When I get to Heaven—as, by the grace of God I am destined to go to that place—I will come and see you all. Yea, I will come to all the people to whom I have administered in the gospel, and to the millions of souls to whom, through the kindness of the printing-press, I am permitted to preach every week in this land and in other lands—letters coming from New Zealand and Australia, and uttermost parts of the earth, as well as from near nations, telling me of the souls I have helped—I will visit them all. I give them fair notice. Our departed friends of the ministry engage in that delectable entertainment now.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.7

    Oh, yes! He is going to be a great man when he “gets to Heaven,” that is, when he dies. No doubt he will be as ubiquitous as the grandest saint in the Catholic calendar. He will have to be, to visit “the millions” in “near nations” and the “uttermost parts of the earth.” But will he “communicate” with them? If not, why not? If he can find someone of his friends still in the flesh through whom he can speak to his old audiences, what is to hinder him from thus developing an “inspirational speaker”? But even if he does not, if someone comes to his old audiences and pretends to be inspired by the spirit of Doctor Talmage, and talks to them in the theology of Doctor Talmage, and with the manner and tone of Doctor Talmage, then how are the people to know that it is not he, as long as they bear in mind the promise and the expectation that he is going to visit them, according to the “fair notice” which he has given?SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.8

    These are but parts of the sermon, but what more need we give to prove our statement that the so-called Christian pulpits, it to-day the strongest bulwark of Spiritualism? As we said at the beginning of this article, Doctor Talmage is the one preacher whose sermons are the most widely read of any in the world, unless Mr. Spurgeon be an exception. And this single sermon sent broadcast as it is by the printing-press even to the “uttermost parts of the earth,” will do more to help forward the work and the iniquity of Spiritualism, than Spiritualism itself could do in a year.SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.9

    It is high time that everywhere, and by every means, the truth of God should be spread to “near nations” and to the “uttermost parts of the earth” that “the dead know not anything”; that “there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest; and that the thoughts of the dead are perished. As for these would-be wise men “Lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them.”SITI September 1, 1887, page 538.10