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    SPIRITS CANNOT BE IDENTIFIED

    Having now sufficiently examined the teaching of the spirits, a final question arises in regard to them, whether it is possibly to identify them, and determine with any absolute certainty whether they are the spirits of the particular individuals they claim to be, or even spirits of the dead at all, or not. It should be distinctly borne in mind, always, that evil angels whose existence has been proved from the Bible, whose nature and delight is to deceive, can walk the earth unseen, imitate and personate any individual, and reveal their characteristics of thought, writing, acts, form, and features, and make so perfect a counterfeit as to defy detection. How, then, can it be told what spirit it is, even though it shows the face and features of some well-known friend? On this topic, as on preceding questions, Spiritualists themselves may produce the evidence. President Mahan (“Discussion with Tiffany and Rhen,” p. 13) remarks:-MOSP 121.3

    “Certain experiments have been made, in order to determine whether spirits are present. Individuals go in as inquirers, and get definite answers - in the first place, from departed spirits of persons yet living; in the second place, from departed spirits of persons who never existed here or anywhere else; in the third place, from the departed spirits of brute beasts.”MOSP 121.4

    When it is considered, as already noted, that spirits do their work through mesmeric power, it is easy to understand how the medium is made to believe that such and such a spirit is communicating when it is not so at all. This question of identity came in the very early stages of Spiritualism, and is no nearer settled, on their own confession, now than then. A Mr. Hobart, in 1856, who claimed to be the first Spiritualist in Michigan, made the following admission:-MOSP 122.1

    “The spirit sometimes assumes the name of an individual belonging to the same church, to induce them to hear. This is necessary with some who are so bigoted they would not believe unless a name was assumed which they respected.”MOSP 122.2

    An article in the Spiritual Telegraph, of July 11, 1857, begins as follows:-MOSP 122.3

    “The question is continually being asked, especially by novitiates in spiritual investigations, How shall we know that the spirits who communicate with us are really the ones whom they purport to be? ... In giving the results of our own experience and observation upon this subject, we would premise that spirits unquestionably can, and often do, personate other spirits, and that, too, often with such perfection as, for the time being, to defy every effort to detect the deception.... If direct tests are demanded at all, we would recommend that they be asked for the purpose of proving that the manifesting influence is that of a spirit, rather than to prove what particular spirit is the agent of its production.”MOSP 122.4

    This is an entire begging of the whole matter in question; for it is not denied that it is a spirit; we want to know what particular spirit it is; but for that we must not ask; for it cannot be ascertained. The same article states that other and lower spirits often crowd in and take the place of the spirit communicating, without the knowledge of the medium. We might also quote “Spiritualism as It Is,” p. 14, that “not one per cent. of the manifestations have had a higher origin than the first and second spheres, which are filled with low, ignorant, deceptive, mischievous, selfish, egotistical spirits;” and “Dealings with the Dead,” p. 225, that “the fact is, good spirits do not appear one tenth as often as imagined.”MOSP 123.1

    Jan. 7, 1888, the following appeared in the Banner of Light:-MOSP 123.2

    Ques. - What is the cause of our receiving, inconsistent, and untruthful communications? Does the blame, if any there is, rest with us or the controlling intelligence?MOSP 123.3

    Ans. - There are spirits who delight in imposing upon mortals; they realize their power outside of material things, and that those who seek knowledge from them cannot see nor get hold of them; therefore to an extent they exercise a certain power over those mortals who approach; and if the mortals are themselves tricky by nature, insincere, ready to take advantage of others, whether it be at the time of sitting or in their daily life, rest assured they may be imposed upon by spirits from the other side who occupy a like plane of existence with themselves.”MOSP 123.4

    Mediums themselves will not trust the spirits, according to statements made as late as 1896. Mrs. S. A. Underwood, medium, in “Automatic Writing,” p. 55, says:-MOSP 123.5

    “With all my experience in it, I would not to-day venture upon any change, business venture, friendship, or line of conduct, advised from this source, unless my own common material sense endorsed it. Indeed, I would not take as fact any of its even reasonable advice without question, because it is not reliable as a guide in earthly affairs.”MOSP 124.1

    Spirit communication, then, certainly does not amount to much as a heavenly instructor, a celestial guide to enlighten the ignorance of men. Whatever we know ourselves, we may rely upon; all else is uncertain. Again, on p. 56, she says:-MOSP 124.2

    “Then the assumption of great names by apparently common-place minds is a very strange thing. I was horrified and annoyed when this occurred under my own hand, because that is one of the things which disgusted me with spiritual messages before this writing came to me, as I had occasionally glanced over such messages. When I protested against such assumption, I was told that ‘Elaine and Guinevere’ were not real beings, but types. So somewhere in our sphere are spirits who embody cleverness in creations of their own fancy, and adopt names suited to that fancy.”MOSP 124.3

    Thus the spirits themselves confess that the names they often assume are not those of real beings, but typical and fanciful. Nothing more, it would seem, is necessary to complete the condemnation of spiritualism, so far as its own nature is concerned. When in addition to all else, it appears that the spirits cannot be identified; that the whole underlying claim that the spirits are the spirits of the dead must itself be assumed, and that, too, in the face of the numberless known falsehoods and deceptions that are constantly issuing from the unseen realm, - there is nothing left for it to stand upon.MOSP 124.4

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