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The Nature and Tendency of Modern Spiritualism

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    PROGRESS OF SPIRITUALISM

    Because the subject does not openly attract so much attention as it did at first, many suppose it is dying away. To the contrary, it never was growing more rapidly; and its successes are now carried on with a class who will soon give it a popularity which it has never yet had.NTMS 160.1

    The following is from the San Francisco Chronicle:—NTMS 160.2

    “Until quite recently, science has coldly ignored the alleged phenomena of Spiritualism, and treated Andrew Jackson Davis, Home, and the Davenport brothers, as if they belonged to the common fraternity of showmen and mountebanks. But now there has come a most noteworthy change. We learn from such high authority as the Fortnightly Review that Alfred R. Wallace, F. R. S.; William Crookes, F. R. S., and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Science; W. H. Harrison, F. R. S., and president of the British Ethnological Society, with others occupying a high position in the scientific and literary world, have been seriously investigating the phenomena of spiritism. The report which those learned gentlemen make is simply astounding. There is no fairy tale, no story of myth or miracle, that is more incredible than their narrative. They tell us, in grave and sober speech, that the spirit of a girl who died a hundred years ago, appeared to them in visible form. She talked with them, gave them locks of her hair, pieces of her dress, and her autograph. They saw her in bodily presence, felt her person, heard her voice; she entered the room in which they were, and disappeared without the opening of a door. The savants declare that they have had numerous interviews with her under conditions forbidding the idea of trickery or imposture.NTMS 160.3

    “Now that men eminent in the scientific world have taken up the investigation, spiritism has entered upon a new phase. It can no longer be treated with silent contempt. Mr. Wallace’s articles in the Fortnightly have attracted general attention, and many of the leading English reviews and newspapers are discussing the matter. The New York World devotes three columns of its space to a summary of the last article in the Fortnightly, and declares editorially that the ‘phenomena’ thus attested ‘deserve the rigid scientific examination which Mr. Wallace invites for them.’ This is treating the matter in the right way. Let all the well-attested facts be collected, and then let us see what conclusions they justify. If spirit communication is a fact, it is certainly a most interesting one. In the language which the World attributes to John Bright, ‘If it is a fact, it is the one beside which every other fact of human existence sinks into insignificance.’”NTMS 160.4

    Our present minister to England, Hon. Edward Pierrepont, recently addressed a letter through a medium to an ancestral lady of England making inquiries about the family genealogy. A writer under date of London, Aug. 12, 1876, says:—NTMS 161.1

    “The currents which show the tendency and growth of Spiritualism in public ways and places are great enough, but the extent to which it prevails in private circles, unknown to the public, is surprisingly great. This is known to a portion of the evangelical fraternity, and meetings have lately been held, presided over by bishops, archbishops, and laymen, to discuss what means shall be taken to check the growing ‘irreligion of the age.’”NTMS 161.2

    The well-known newspaper writer, Don Piatt, speaking quite recently of society in Washington City, says:—NTMS 161.3

    “I was surprised to find, after my attention was called to the subject, what a number of cultured persons I encountered here, confirmed believers in Spiritualism. I am told that the same fact exists in Europe. For example, when Foster was here, some three months since, his visitors were mainly composed of leading members of the senate, house, and secretaries of the cabinet, who openly consulted this man as to matters existing beyond the grave. Were I to give you their names my letter would be rather interesting, but spiteful, for there are few of these believers who do not shrink from being publicly known as such.”NTMS 161.4

    The Christian at Work of Aug. 17, 1876, under the head of “Witches and Fools,” says:—NTMS 162.1

    “But we do not know how many judges, bankers, merchants, prominent men in nearly every occupation in life, there are who make it a constant practice to visit clairvoyants, sight-seers, and so-called spiritual mediums; yet it can scarcely be doubted that their name is legion; that not only the unreligious man, but professing Christians, men and women, are in the habit of consulting spirits from the vasty deep for information concerning both the dead and living. Many who pass for intelligent people, who would be shocked to have their Christianity called in question, are constantly engaged in this disreputable business. They go to these dens-though as for that matter these mediums occupy some of the best houses in the most fashionable localities in the city-pay from two to five dollars, propound their inquiries, and get their answers.... We know that these clairvoyants are sought as preliminary to business ventures, that they are appealed to in behalf of sick friends,” etc. “And yet the duty of the Christian is clear and unmistakable. He has no right whatever to consult these familiar spirits. Saul consulted the witch of Endor and he received a revelation; but it was Saul’s perverted, wicked heart that drove him for refuge to a witch instead of to his God, and God did not approve his method; nor does he ever approve it.”NTMS 162.2