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The Nature and Tendency of Modern Spiritualism

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    BABYLON IS BECOME THE HABITATION OF DEVILS

    We have before referred to our belief that the ecclesiastical or church power of this country constituted one horn of the two-homed beast of Revelation 13. Like the civil power, or Republicanism, it is mild and lamb-like in its profession, but it has upheld slavery and war, and tests the faith of its members and others by its creeds instead of the word of God. Some of the most determined and pertinacious office-seekers in the country will be found among the clergy. That they are eager for the honors of this world, none can deny. They will take the field and pray to God that they may be successful in killing their fellow-men. At the political gathering, the air is made to ring with the loud huzzas of the professed followers of Christ, whose voices are scarcely ever heard at the prayer-meeting. Their strongest sympathies are with Caesar-their first acknowledged allegiance is to the laws of the land.NTMS 168.1

    In tracing this subject to its conclusion we must necessarily notice the part these churches are destined to act in the coming struggle. And in order to do this we must show the fulfillment of prophecy in their present fallen condition. This subject we approach with feelings of the deepest regret; but in ranking them as members of the family of great Babylon of Revelation 14 and 18, and daughters of the “mother of harlots” of Revelation 17, we are only following the course marked out for us by the eminently pious and observing of all Christian orders. The name Babylon signifies confusion; and we may safely appeal to all if the Protestant churches, with their hundreds of different creeds, are not more fitly represented by this name than the Catholic Church alone. This confusion was aptly noticed in an anniversary sermon in New York, by Dr. Riddle, of Pittsburgh, who thus speaks of the danger of the country from Catholic influence and the want of union and energy on the part of Protestants:—NTMS 168.2

    “A village in the West, for one-half its population, which is Catholic, has one church and pastor, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; the other half, which is Protestant, has five or six pastors and churches, and each has his separate ‘psalm, doctrine, tongue, revelation, and interpretation!’ Yet ‘God is not the author of confusion,’ but of peace, in all the churches of the saints.”NTMS 169.1

    It is truly humiliating that a Protestant doctor must place the Catholic Church, on one point at least, on the true scriptural ground, as he has done above, and the Protestants on the ground that God’s word condemns. And so manifestly unscriptural is their position that it has long been regarded by observing minds as a fulfillment of prophecy. The following testimony from the “Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge,” is pointed and truthful, and well worthy of the careful consideration of every Bible student:—NTMS 169.2

    “An important question, however, says Mr. Jones, still remains for inquiry. ‘Is Antichrist confined to the church of Rome?’ The answer is readily returned in the affirmative by Protestants in general; and happy had it been for the world were that the case. But although we are fully warranted to consider that church as ‘the mother of harlots,’ the truth is, that by whatsoever arguments we succeed in fixing that odious charge upon her, we shall, by parity of reasoning, be obliged to allow all other national churches to be her unchaste daughters; and for this plain reason among others, because, in their very constitution and tendency, they are hostile to the nature of the kingdom of Christ.”NTMS 169.3

    Said Alexander Campbell:—NTMS 170.1

    “The worshiping establishments now in operation throughout Christendom, increased and cemented by their respective voluminous confessions of faith and their ecclesiastical constitutions, are not churches of Jesus Christ, but the legitimate daughters of that mother of harlots-the church of Rome.”NTMS 170.2

    Said Lorenzo Dow:—NTMS 170.3

    “We read not only of Babylon, but of the whore of Babylon, styled the mother of harlots, which is supposed to mean the Romish church. If she be a mother, who are her daughters? It must be the corrupt national established churches that came out of her.”NTMS 170.4

    Why was the Romish church represented by a lewd woman, or harlot? Of course by reason of the position she occupied. The name denotes a woman of lewd practices: one having unlawful connection with men. And as the church is represented by a woman espoused to Christ, separated from the world to his praise and glory, the figure in the prophecy must denote that the church or churches referred to are alienated from Christ, and have become unlawfully connected with the world. When we look at the declension of vital piety, the worldly-mindedness, the love of fashion and fashionable folly, in the churches of the present day, we mark them as fulfilling the prophecy of Revelation 14:8: “Babylon is fallen.” This illicit intercourse with the world is the declared ground of her fall. This worldly spirit, which seeks an alliance with the nations, which leans upon the arm of public opinion and popular favor, instead of leaning on Him who should be “her beloved,” and which loves the praise of the world more than that of God, led them to reject the “Gospel of the Kingdom,” or the good news of the coming of the Son of man. In Revelation 14, this fact is announced as having occurred at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14, in the fall of 1844. There the Advent believers met with a disappointment as bitter as that suffered by the early disciples when their Lord was crucified. That disappointment brought reproach, and that reproach turned the glorious and soul-cheering doctrine of the advent of the Saviour out of the churches. But in rejecting this doctrine they rejected the “present truth,” and the consequence was what we might have expected from such a cause: the Lord withdrew his favor from them. The Jews incurred the divine displeasure in the same manner. They professed to believe what the prophets had written, but they rejected its fulfillment.NTMS 170.5

    Does the evidence exist that the churches of the present day are in a fallen condition? Facts are continually presenting themselves to our notice which fully prove it. Their interest is not in the cause of God. They are worldly, aspiring, ambitious, proud. They profess to be reformers, but they carry on their proposed reforms even as the most wicked of the earth. So manifest is their departure from the principles of the gospel that admissions of the fact meet us in every direction. Prof. Finney, of Oberlin, said, in 1844:—NTMS 171.1

    “We have had the fact before our minds that, in general, the Protestant churches of our country, as such, were either apathetic or hostile to nearly all the moral reforms of the age. There are partial exceptions, yet not enough to render the fact otherwise than general. We have also another corroborated fact: the almost universal absence of revival influence in the churches. The spiritual apathy is almost all-pervading, and is fearfully deep; so the religious press of the whole land testifies. It comes to our ears and to our eyes, also, through the religious prints, that, very extensively, church-members are becoming devotees of fashion-join hands with the ungodly in parties of pleasure, in dancing, in festivities, etc.... But we need not expand this painful subject. Suffice it that the churches generally are becoming sadly degenerate. They have gone very far from the Lord, and he has withdrawn himself from them.”NTMS 171.2

    Orange Scott, the celebrated Wesleyan Methodist, said, in 1846:—NTMS 172.1

    “The plainest principles of the gospel have slumbered for ages. The church is as deeply infected with a desire for worldly gain as the world. At least there is no perceptible difference. Professors of religion are emphatically worldly-minded. The churches are making a god of this world. Most of the denominations of the present day might be called churches of the world, with more propriety than the churches of Christ. The churches are so far gone from primitive Christianity that they need a fresh regeneration-a new kind of religion. They have gone over to the world and have opposed what the world opposed. The world will never be converted by such a religion. Christians pray for the union of the churches, but fight against it.”NTMS 172.2

    The Religious Telescope, of Circleville, Ohio, in 1844, contained the following:—NTMS 172.3

    Great Spiritual Dearth.-It is a lamentable fact, from which we cannot shut our eyes, that the churches of this country are now suffering severely on account of the great dearth, almost universally complained of. We have never witnessed such a general declension of religion as at the present. Truly the church should awake and search into the cause of this affliction; for an affliction every one that loves Zion must view it. When we call to mind how ‘few and far between’ cases of true conversion are, and the almost unparalleled impenitence and hardness of sinners, we almost involuntarily exclaim, ‘Has God forgotten to be gracious?’ Or is the door of mercy closed?NTMS 172.4

    “Look again and behold the spirit of the world, how it prevails in the church. Where is the pious man who has not been made to sigh on account of these abominations in the midst of us? Who is that man in the political crowd whose voice is heard above the rest, and who is foremost in carrying torch-lights, bellowing at the top of his voice? Oh, he is a Christian, perhaps a class-leader, or exhorter. Who is that lady dressed in the most ridiculous fashion, as if nature had deformed her? Oh, she is a follower and imitator of the humble Jesus! O shame! where is thy blush? This is no uncommon picture, I assure you. Would to God it was. My heart is pained within me while I write.”NTMS 172.5

    The report of the Michigan Yearly Conference, published in the True Wesleyan of Nov. 15, 1851, says:—NTMS 173.1

    “The committee on reforms, ask leave to report: That the popular sentiment, ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God,’ has, in general, been false since men fell from holiness. Popular opinion is commonly wrong—it is the broad way that leadeth to destruction. The church is not only called out of the world proper, but of nominal Christianity, and is to be a peculiar people—‘the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.’ Without her influence the world is lost: reason, philosophy, science, and all the imposing influence of eloquence and wealth in a carnal church, cannot save it. The world, commercial, political, ecclesiastical, are alike, and are together going in the broad way that leads to death. Politics, commerce, and nominal religion, all connive at sin, reciprocally aid each other, and unite to crush the poor. Falsehood is unblushingly uttered in the forum and in the pulpit; and sins that would shock the moral sensibilities of the heathen, go unrebuked in all the great denominations of our land. These churches are like the Jewish church when the Saviour exclaimed, Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.”NTMS 173.2

    This is strong language, but the facts fully sustain it. The Louisville Recorder says:—NTMS 173.3

    “Though we have (at least among Protestants) no human priest or sacrificial altar, yet among us the social element and power of the church has become cramped, ice-bound, or entirely destroyed. We have become an assembly, not of living actors, but of silent, passive hearers. The church have become mere listeners to preachers-a roll of names baptized, permitted to take the Lord’s supper, and expected to enjoy good preaching. Like the door on the hinges, they come and go. They are prayed for, and sung to, and preached to; and often sung and preached to sleep, if not to death. Thus, year after year, is this continuous round, this dead flat, over which not a breath of emotion passes to disturb the dull and decent monotony. The minister seeks not, and the church strives not, to ‘grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.’ But relying on the preacher; when he is gone, all is gone-the glory has departed.”NTMS 173.4

    A correspondent of a New York paper, writing from St. Louis, attending the Anniversary Meeting of the Presbyterian General Assembly there, says:—NTMS 174.1

    “It is getting to be an immense job for a sojourner in our large towns to find his way to a house of God; and as to poor residents (Heaven take care of and save them), if the doctrine be true that there is no salvation out of the church, the poor people are inevitably lost, for they can neither buy nor hire a pew in these hundred thousand dollar churches. Gentility is fast getting to be the only passport to Heaven; as the depths of a man’s purse, so are his chances for future glory.”NTMS 174.2

    The New York Evangelist bears the following testimony:—NTMS 174.3

    “To the shame of the church it must be confessed that the foremost men in all our philanthropic movements, in the interpretation of the spirit of the age; in the practical application of genuine Christianity; in the reformation of abuses in high and low places; in the vindication of the rights of man, and in practically redeeming his wrongs; in the moral and intellectual regeneration of the race, are the so-called infidels in our land. The church has pusillanimously left, not only the working oar, but the very reins of salutary reform, in the hands of men she denounces inimical to Christianity, and who are practically doing with all their might for humanity’s sake, that which the church ought to be doing for Christ’s sake; and if they succeed, as succeed they will (?) in abolishing slavery, banishing rum, restraining licentiousness, reforming abuses, and elevating the masses, then the recoil upon Christianity will be disastrous in the extreme. Woe, woe, woe, to Christianity, when infidels by force of nature, or the tendency of the age get ahead of the church in morals, and in the practical work of Christianity. In some instances they are already far in advance; in the vindication of truth, righteousness, and liberty, they are the pioneers, beckoning to a sluggish church to follow.”NTMS 174.4

    Such a testimony from such a source is worthy of careful consideration. The church sluggishly neglecting even the calls of humanity, and leaving the practical application of genuine Christianity to infidels! Surely the fine gold has become dim; the salt has lost its savor; their light has become darkness; the “city” is no longer “set on a hill,” “that it cannot be hid;” but it is become the “city of confusion” (Babylon), and the voice from Heaven solemnly declares that “Babylon is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” And even in this they “glory in their shame.” They boast of their connection with politics as an evidence that they are going to evangelize the nation. But they are not elevating the politics of the nation to a level with Christianity; they are lowering down Christianity to the level of the most degenerate national policy.NTMS 174.5

    The following, though from an unbeliever, is truthful, and no more pointed and condemnatory than the foregoing from the New York Evangelist:—NTMS 175.1

    “What is the use of converting the world to such a Christianity as is now exhibited in Christendom, to put an end to war, and slavery, and avarice, and lust? Do not our Christians fight? Do we not take our generals, colonels, captains, and soldiers from the church? And do they not fight as bravely and desperately as those taken from the world? Do they not plan a campaign, conduct an attack, point a cannon, thrust a bayonet, brandish a sword, fire a city, sack a town, better than the unchristianized savage, or unconverted heathen? Do we not send out our reverend chaplains with our invading armies to invoke the blessing of God upon our battles? Do not our churches rejoice in our victories and thank God that our enemies have been put to flight at the point of the bayonet, or by the edge of the sword? Do we not present the beautiful and sublime spectacle before the heathen world, and before angels, and God, of one Christian in hostile and deadly array against another? How, then, is the converting of the world to such Christianity to put an end to war? Since the days of Constantine, Christian men and Christian nations have been as prone to use the sword as Mohammedan or Pagan men and nations; and we might with as much propriety talk of converting the world to Mohammedanism or Paganism to put an end to war, as to hope for that result by converting the world to the present type of Christianity.”—Tiffany’s Lectures, page 240.NTMS 175.2

    The Presbyterian Herald, speaking of the present condition of the church, and the connection of politics and religion, says:—NTMS 176.1

    “There seems never to have been a time in the history of our country, when questions of religious and political science were so mingled together as at the present. When we open a paper, it is often hard to tell at the first glance whether it is a political or religious journal. In all parts of our land, the platform and the stump give excited utterance to theological dogmas; while the pulpit thunders forth political harangues.”NTMS 176.2

    It then gives a description of true religion, and the place it should occupy, and continues:—NTMS 176.3

    “Such is the position of religion, and such her relation to politics and all other earthly things. But of late we have seen her descend into the heated arena, lose herself in the surging and tossing crowd, and when next she emerges, or rather, when her position is again occupied, ‘tis no longer herself; but a drunken drab, wild with excitement, raves and retches, and belches forth words of strife and scorn, bloodshed and bitterness, adding fuel to the flames of hatred and envy, and mocking Heaven with daring blasphemy-essaying even to wield the thunders of Jehovah. When such a scene meets our troubled vision, we cry, Surely religion has been trodden in the streets, truth and righteousness lie bleeding in the dust. Alas! alas! has she perished forever? Shall we nevermore behold her beauty and feel her sweet attractions?”NTMS 176.4

    A writer in the American Baptist, speaking of the tendency of that denomination, says:—NTMS 176.5

    “I read some days since the report of proceedings in the recent Board meeting of the Missouri Union, and a splendid thing it is. Rev. so-and-so, D. D., and Rev. so-and-so, D. D., nearly thirty times in the preliminary proceedings of the first day; and so on to such a dizzy height of D. D.’s that I gave up the count-profoundly penetrated with the thought that we are a great denomination.... Such things look well enough on the brow of the Mother of Harlots—but in the church of Christ—the Baptist Church—O shade of Roger Williams—‘where are we drifting?’”NTMS 176.6

    Many such testimonies might be given, but we will let these suffice, as our object is not to enlarge on this point, but to notice it as a connecting link in the fulfillment of prophecy. But we cannot omit calling attention to the tendency of the times as shown in the church fairs, festivals, donation parties, mite societies, etc., so prevalent in these days. There is no spirit manifested in these parties but of fnolicking and money-making. They are worldly to the lowest degree, as their transactions are often so trifling and vain as to become a by-word and jest even among worldlings. These things are not confined to any locality, but are found in all parts of the land. Instead of sobriety and prayer, they are conducted with hilarity and plays, and sometimes dancing. Lotteries and gift enterprises are a common resort, and many youth have imbibed a taste for gambling, in parties conducted by church members, and for the support of the gospel! Even the decencies of life are often laid aside; the Genesee Evangelist once stated that a young lady, at a donation party in the State of New York, set herself up to be kissed for a prize; and we know a locality where the wife of the minister, at his donation party, was kissed by rude men, at a dime apiece! And church members are no more shocked at these impious triflings than are Spiritualists at the avowal and practice of free love. The church joins with the world, and in a whirl of excitement, rushes on to folly and to ruin. If these things do not indicate a fallen state of the churches, we do not know what could.NTMS 177.1

    In Revelation 18:2, is another announcement of the fall of Babylon with the additional facts that she “is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” The same cause is here assigned for her fall: her connection with the nations of the earth. In connection with this a voice from Heaven says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”NTMS 178.1

    The particulars of this cry show that our application of Babylon is correct, as it is where numbers of God’s people are; and the fall referred to is a moral fall, as God’s people are called out after her fall, to escape her plagues which are to follow. A large proportion of spiritual lecturers are ministers, and many others are believers; some are preaching it to their congregations, and their meeting-houses, dedicated to the worship of God, are frequently opened to their lectures, while they are denied to those who lecture on the Bible evidences of the signs of the times and the commandments of God. Thus, by inviting and receiving the “seducing spirits,” or “spirits of devils,” in their midst, and listening to their deceptive teachings, they are becoming the habitation of devils, in fulfillment of the prophecy.NTMS 178.2

    The great reason why church members and ministers are so easily deceived by these spirits, is their ignorance of the Bible. The members have left the reading of the Scriptures to their ministers, while they have turned their whole attention to making money. The ministers have been trained in theological schools to read the “classics,” instead of the writings of the prophets and apostles. All unite in their efforts to please the world, and hold forth a religion without a cross, which fosters pride and gratifies ambition. What little they read of the Bible is not with a desire to learn their duty there, so much as to find arguments to sustain their pre-adopted creeds and to build up their several denominations. A visit from a “test medium” to a village often fills the churches with the deepest surprise, and both ministers and members will sit for hours to listen to their seducing words, and to behold the manifestations, utterly disregarding the precept of the Lord, to seek not unto them that have familiar spirits, without once thinking that it is a subject of prophecy; and they are unwilling to believe the Bible statements concerning the dead, which prove it to be a deception of the enemy. Where they have been found reasoning together concerning these things, an individual has quoted the words of the Scriptures that “the dead know not anything,” and that their love, hatred, envy, and all their thoughts, are perished, and they would avoid him as they would a contagion. Errors that are popular, though their origin can be traced to the superstitions of the heathen, are preferred to the plainest truths of the Bible, if a belief in them brings reproach. And by this love of popularity, so manifest among professors, we are reminded of the words of N. P. Tallmadge, in regard to the ultimate spread of Spiritualism, in the introduction to the “Healing of the Nations,” page 29:—NTMS 178.3

    “The time is near at. hand when no one will hesitate to avow his or her opinion on this subject. Spiritualism is making rapid advances in the highest classes of society, and its onward progress will soon render it fashionable, and then no human power can resist it.”NTMS 179.1

    With the evidence of the Scriptures before us that they are the spirits of devils, we cannot hesitate to decide that wherever they are admitted, whether in political or ecclesiastical bodies, such bodies thereby become “the habitation of devils.” How fearful the condition of such bodies, and how marked the fulfillment of prophecy in the present and prospective attitude of the political and religious world!NTMS 179.2