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    February 27, 1893

    “Spiritualism Against the Gospel” The Signs of the Times, 19, 17.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Let it not be forgotten that Spiritualism is simply the belief that the dead are conscious, that they are interested in the affairs of men on the earth, and that they may communicate with them. That it is against the gospel is sufficiently shown in the fact that it contradicts the Bible. But we wish to trace a little more minutely its natural working. Take, for instance, the paragraphs quoted from Dr. Talmage last week. Read them carefully again, and see what is set forth as the motive for right doing. Is it the approval of the Lord Jesus?-Not at all, it is the approval of dead friends. The words are, “Young man! Better look out what you do and where you go, for your glorified mother is looking at you.” But that is not the motive to set before any man, in order to get him to do right. Even if his mother were alive, something higher than the fact that she is looking at him ought to be the motive of his actions. But the idea that people are alive after they are dead, and that they are watching the living, puts them in the place of the Lord Jesus Christ and the people.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.41

    Here is a fragment of an editorial in a religious paper that has a circulation of many thousands among all denominations of Christians:—SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.42

    Some of the saintly faces of fathers and mothers, which are a benediction to all who look at them, could never have shone as now with the reflected light of heaven, unless they had been summoned to frequent upward lookings through the clouds in loving communion with their children in heaven. There are manly and womanly children, who are more serious and earnest and devoted in their young life struggles, because of their constant sense of the overwatching presence of their dead parents.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.43

    That is the Spiritualist way of being glorified. But now read the Bible way: “But we all, with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.” “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6. That which can in reality be done only by the Lord Jesus Christ, Spiritualism thinks to have done by the spirits of the departed. Thus the Lord is robbed of the honor due him.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.44

    But further. Life and righteousness are inseparable. “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Romans 8:6. This is so because God alone is good. See Romans 3:9-12 and Mark 10:17. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and therefore the life of Christ was the life of God. His life is the only perfectly sinless life that was ever manifested on this earth. Therefore no one can be righteous unless he has the righteousness which is by the faith of Jesus Christ, the righteousness of God by faith. It is by the righteousness of one that many are to be made righteous. Romans 5:19. That one is Christ.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.45

    But as the life of God in Christ is the only righteous life, and righteousness is inseparable from the life of Christ, it follows that all who are made righteous by his obedience, are made so by having his life in them. It is in him that we are made the righteousness of God. So we read, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.46

    Now since righteousness is inseparable from the life of God, it follows that both eternal life and righteousness are attributes of Divinity. For one to claim that he has life in himself regardless of his faith, is to claim that he has also righteousness in himself, and that he has no need for the Saviour. For nothing is more certain than that Christ came to this earth for the sole purpose of giving life to men. See John 3:16; Colossians 3:3, 4; John 10:10. Therefore Spiritualism is opposed to the very fundamental truth of the gospel.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.47

    It is an easy matter to show, as we have many times, that Christ gives righteousness by giving his own life. But that teaching that would make out that man has life in himself, frustrates the grace of God, and makes out that Christ died in vain. The apostle Paul, after showing the necessity of faith in Christ as the only means of righteousness, says, “I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Galatians 2:21. And in the next chapter he says, “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” Wherever life is, there is righteousness. Therefore the man who thinks that he has life in himself, unconsciously denies that Christ is the source of righteousness for us.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.48

    The tendency of this teaching is to throw man upon himself for righteousness. Thus the Pharisees who would not come to Christ that they might have life, “trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” But this tends most directly to vice and immorality, for man is by nature corrupt, and out of evil only evil can come.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.49

    Again, take the temptation by which Eve was made to fall. Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die.” Being deceived, she ate, and gave to her husband, and he ate. This disobedience “brought death into the world and all our woe.” All the iniquity in the world shall has resulted from a belief of the words, “Ye shall not surely die.” Nothing but evil can come from that belief.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.50

    For this reason we lift up our voice in warning against any approach to the doctrine of Spiritualism. Shun as a pestilence any teaching that makes Christ and His sacrifice of none effect; accept nothing but the teaching of the word of God; and remember that man has life only by that same word.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.51


    The statements made in the previous paragraphs may seem too strong by some who have not given the matter much consideration and therefore a few words further are in place. It is not charged that all who have held the doctrine that man does not in reality die are immoral. That would be a gross perversion of facts. Among the adherents of that doctrine have been some excellent men, and so there are still. Yet that does not disprove the charges made against the doctrine. An error is not made truth, nor is its error lessened in the least, because it is held by good men. The fact that Luther believed in the Real Presence did not make that theory true, but diminish the evil which must result from it.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.52

    While it is true that many good Christians have held the doctrine that the dead are conscious, let it not be forgotten that they held that doctrine in common with all the heathen. Moreover, that doctrine was at the very bottom of the heathenism. There has been this difference, however, namely, that comparatively few of the Christians who have believed it have in time just carried it to its logical conclusion, and held that the dead could return and communicate with the living. But it is an alarming fact that of late years a belief in spirit return and communication has greatly increased among professed Christians. It is in this feature that the greatest danger lies; but whatever results from this must be charged to the belief of consciousness in death, from which is springs.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.53

    The way has been prepared for the prevalence of vice in the last days, even as great as it was in the days of Noah. In connection with what has preceded. A few quotations will suffice to show how it will be brought about. A few years ago Dr. Curry, a leading Methodist divine, in a conversation with a visitor, as he lay on his death bed, said, “I have perfect confidence in the truth of Christianity, although I expect my conceptions to be changed when I get over there.”SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.54

    Most people would doubtless consider that a very natural thing. It only serves to show that they are expecting to have their conceptions of Christianity changed after death. And that indicates a doubt as to the perfect truth of that which they now hold. But what we are concerned with is the effect that such ideas may have on the living. As a matter of fact, those who die have no consciousness of truth or error; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave. When a man dies, he returneth to his earth, and in that very day his thoughts perish. But it is a fact that many people have seen the appearance of their departed friends, and have talked with them. How was this? Why, simply that Satan, who originated the doctrine that the dead are alive, and who is able to transform himself into the appearance of even an angel of life (2 Corinthians 11:14), is working to propagate the false doctrine which he started in Eden. All the appearances of the dead, and the communications from them, are in reality from the spirits of devils.SITI February 27, 1893, page 119.55

    Now for another point. A few years ago a popular Baptist preacher in California became an avowed Spiritualist. He had, however, for a long time before he gave up his Baptist pulpit, been holding communications with spirits, whom he supposed to be the spirits of his dead friends. These spirits were familiar visitors to his family. Speaking of some of his experiences, he said:—SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.1

    Nearly half a score of old Baptist preachers, with whom I have been associated in the past, have already come to our home, and explained wherein their former teaching was erroneous. The whole system of biblical interpretation is far away from the truth, as everyone will find when he enters the spiritual world.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.2

    At a great religious gathering held in London less than two years ago, at which there were leading Protestant ministers from all parts of the world, one of the most applauded remarks was by a member who said: “We speak of holding fast to the faith of the fathers; how do we know what the faith of the fathers is now?” The idea was that the fathers may have made great changes in their faith since their departure from this life. Well, the spirits of devils will take care that all who are willing to be deceived in that way shall know what the faith of the “fathers” is now. These spirits will come with every appearance of those departed ministers, and will tell them, as they did the Baptist minister before referred to, that the Bible means a great deal differently from what it says. And those who believe that it does not mean what it says in regard to the condition of man in death, will be prepared to believe anything that these spirits tell them as to what it does mean.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.3

    This is an exact fulfillment of the words of inspiration by the apostle Paul: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy.” 1 Timothy 4:1, 2.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.4

    When men have thus cut themselves loose from the Bible, what is going to hold them?-Manifestly nothing. The Bible is the only safeguard against sin. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:11. “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.” Psalm 37:31. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” John 15:3. Man can live only by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. So when men come to trust themselves into the hands of the devil, for an understanding of the Bible, what can follow except that he will lead them into the sins of which he is the author? And this he will do while he is flattering them with the belief that they are making advancement in truth and righteousness. Thus it was when he deceived Eve, and the apostle says to the members of the church of Christ, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.5

    It was even thus that the flood of error and superstition and immorality came into the church in the first centuries after Christ, resulting in the Dark Ages. As the result mainly of the influence of Origen, the mass of professed Christians came to believe that the Bible does not mean what it says. His teaching was that it means often directly contrary to what it reads, and can be understood only by a certain few. Of course the practical result of this was to take the Bible out of the hands of the people. For they would soon cease to read a book which they were told they could not understand, and which would be more apt to mislead them than to lead them right. Consequently they had nothing by which to test the truth of that which was given to them by their teachers, and so imbibed the grossest errors.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.6

    More than this, the teachers themselves soon ceased to read the word of God. For since when they did read the Bible, they put their own interpretation upon it, making it mean whatever they pleased, it naturally came to pass that they soon fell into the practice of manufacturing scripture without the formality of reading the Bible before giving it to the people. Since it was only their own ideas that they taught the people, it made no difference whether they read the Bible, and then gave out their opinions, or gave out their opinions without reading the Bible. And so the whole world was open to the reception of the grossest errors. The result was seen in the frightful immorality that prevailed everywhere, and nowhere more than among those who professed to be Christians.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.7

    When Moses went to Pharaoh to demand the release of the children of Israel, the magicians withstood him with their enchantments. These magicians were Spiritualist mediums, and their enchantments were by the power of their master, the devil. Now read the apostle’s description of how it will be in the last days, even among those who profess godliness:—SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.8

    “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” 2 Timothy 3:1-8.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.9

    There are many good people who do not believe that they could ever be thus deceived. They cannot if they hold fast to the truth of God. But as long as they hold to error, they have no safeguard. It is the first step that contains all the rest. There are many who believe that the dead are conscious, who do not believe in spirit return and communication. But when they see the exact images of their departed friends, and receive communications from them, they will believe errors in spite of themselves. Only those who are settled beforehand in the truth that the dead know not anything, that life comes from Christ alone, and that immortality is bestowed only at his coming, and that all spiritual manifestations are from the devil, will be able to stand. May the Lord help all the readers of this to cleave to Christ and his word.SITI February 27, 1893, page 270.10

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