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    CHAPTER 2 WHAT IS THE AGENCY IN QUESTION?

    HAVING now shown that there are connected with Spiritualism supermundane phenomena that cannot be denied, and equally evident superhuman intelligence, sufficient to give to the movement unprecedented recognition in all the world, the way is open for the most important question that can be raised concerning it, and one which now demands an answer; and that is, What is the agency by which these phenomena are produced, and by which this intelligence is manifested? This question must be examined with the utmost care, and, if possible, a decision be reached of the most assuring certainty; for, as Mr. M.J. Savage says, “spiritualism is either a grand truth or a most lamentable delusion.”MOSP 32.1

    It is proper that the claim which Spiritualism puts forth for itself, in this regard should first be heard. This is so well known that it scarcely need be stated. It is that there is in every human being a soul, or spirit, which constitutes the real person; that it manifests itself through a tangible body during this earth life, and when that body dies, passes unscathed into the unseen world, into an enlarged sphere of life, activity, and intelligence; that in this sphere it can still take cognizance of earthly things, and communicate with those still in the flesh, respecting scenes which it has left, and those more interesting conditions still veiled from mortal sight; that it is by these disembodied, or “discarnated” spirits that raps are given, objects moved, intelligence manifested, secrets revealed, slates written voices uttered, faces shown, and epistles addressed to mortals, as friend would write to friend. If this be true, it opens what would indeed be considered a grand avenue of consolation to bereaved hearts, by giving them evidence that their departed friends still lived; that they recognized, loved, and accompanied them, and delighted still to counsel and instruct them. If not true, it is a masterpiece of superhuman craft and cunning; for it takes Christendom on the side where it is least guarded; as the view is everywhere held that the dead are conscious, and the only question would be as to their power to communicate with persons still living in the body; and it throws its arms around the individual when the heart is the most tender, when plunged into a condition in which every pang of bereaved sorrow, every tie of affection, and every throb of love, press him to crave with all his being that communication with the dead may be proved a fact, and to constrain him to accept the doctrine, unless kept from it by some power stronger than the cords that bind heart to heart in deathless love. If it be a deception, it occupies a vantage ground before which men may well tremble.MOSP 32.2

    But, as has been already stated, the question is here to be discussed from the standpoint of the Bible; the Bible is to be taken as the standard of authority by which all conflicting claims respecting the nature of man, must be decided. The authenticity of the Scriptures, in reference to those who deny their authority, is an antecedent question, into the discussion of which it is not the province of this little work to enter. A word, however, by way of digression, may be allowed in reference to its authorship.MOSP 34.1

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