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died on the 30th of June, 1854. And I said aloud, 'Is it -?' Hearty affirmative slaps on the knee from the same hand, which had remained fixed till then, were the reply to my question. “I am glad to be again in the same room with you,' said I. Again the same hearty greeting was repeated. “Are you better?' I inquired. A still more joyous succession of slapš, or rather, if I may coin a word, of accussions ; for the hand was cupped to fit my bent knee, and gently struck me in that form. "Have you any message to your wife, whom I shall probably see in a few days?' Again, affirmative touches, five in number, therefore calling for the alphabet. Mr. Home now called over the alphabet, A B C D, and when he called T my knee was struck; again, when he said H and E, and so on until this was spelt out—'THE IMMORTAL LOVES.' I remember at the time thinking that this was rather a thin message ; but the next time I saw Mrs. I told her the circumstances, and gave her the words. Her son was sitting with her, and said,
That is very characteristic of my father, for it was a favourite subject of speculation with him whether or not the affections survive the body. Of the immortality of the soul itself he never doubted; but the words, the immortal loves, show that he has settled the problem of his life. Such was the import which the family of the deceased, quite unexpectedly to me, conferred upon the phrase. To return to Ealing, and that evening : after the last stroke of the hand had indicated the end of the sentence, I said, 'If it is really you, will you shake hands with me?" and I put my hand under the table, and now the same soft and capacious hand was placed in mine, and gave it a cordial shaking. I could not help exclaiming, “This hand is a portrait. I know it from five years' constant intercourse, and from the daily grasp and holding of the last several months !'
In this account the only point of information given is contained in the brief sentence spelled out by the communicating spirit—“The immortal loves.” A doubt on this point appears to have made the individual unhappy in his lifetime. Perhaps he might have been spared much mental agony had he received in faith the scriptures of truth, which, while they assure us of immortality, deal with us invariably as beings formed to love God supremely and all mankind as ourselves.
The following passage appears to contain information as to the mode in which spirits make themselves visible, which seems to be an extremely difficult operation, it being effected by “incarnating their hands” or other parts of the body "out of the vital atmospheres of those present,” their work being spoiled, and requiring to be recommenced, when interfered with by attempts to grasp the presented limbs :
“During what happened to myself, many of the rest of the circle were touched, and described their impressions much as I have described mine. Some had merely a single finger put upon their knees. Mr. Home said that the presenting spirits could often make one finger where they could not make two, and two where they could not form an entire hand; just as they could form a hand where they could not realise a whole human figure; and he also said that this was one reason why they did not show themselves above-board, because they did not like imperfect members to be seen."
This reads to us much more like the speculation of the medium than anything else. Our next extract contains many particulars more calculated to excite than allay curiosity; and no one we fear will be able to say when it is read that a single point has been added to our knowledge:
"Now the circle was broken up, and reconstituted, olne persons, to the best of my recollection, being arranged at the table. The table was placed opposite a window, and the bright moonbeams streamed down upon its side. There was no candle in the apartment. The space of table which fronted the window was not occupied by sitters; but the company sat round about three-fourths of it, leaving the rest vacant. The right wing of the party was terminated by Mr. Home; the left by the son of the host. In a few minutes' time, close beside the latter gentleman, there emerged into sight above the rim of the table, in the vacant space & delicately beautiful female hand and part of the forearm, apparently of ghostly tenuity. As I was sitting exactly opposite the vacant space, I had a fair opportunity of watching this hand as it projected against the moonlight; it was a filmylooking woman's hand, with the fingers drooping forwards from left to right as I sat. The hand curved up over the table margin, deliberately grasped a hand-bell placed near, and carrying it partly down, let it drop upon the floor. It then rose to sight again, and took away a cambric handkerchief also placed near, which was tied in two knots under the table, and presented to one of the company, who had been strongly moved from the time that this hand was first seen. I forbear to give the further details of this hand, because they seemed to be of a private nature; suffice it to say, that it caused no little emotion to a gentleman who seemed concerned. On its disappearance, another hand, large, strong, and with the fingers extended, and pushed bolt up in the moonlight, rose above the table near to Mr. Home. He cried out, 'Oh! keep me from that hand! it is so cold! Do not let it touch me!' Shortly it also vanished, and a third hand was seen at the other side of the vacant table edge: this hand was in a glove. Then presently a fourth hand ascended on the extreme left-a lady's hand, of beautiful proportionsmand traversed the entire vacant space from left to right, rising, and displaying the forearm; and then, as it neared Mr. Home, the entire arm. When it reached him, the hand was level with his forehead, upon which it laid its palm, and with its fingers put his hair back, and played upon his brow for perhaps half a minute. I was sitting next but one to him, and leant forward past my intermediate neighbour, at the same time requesting that if the hand belonged to my friend Mrs. it might also be laid on my forehead. This was deliberately done; and I felt its thrilling impression as the palm was laid flat upon my brow, where it remained for several seconds. It was warm and human, and made of no material but softest flesh. During the interval in which I felt it, I had abundant opportunity of examining most closely the arm and forearm. The forearm sleeve appeared to be of white cambric, plain and neat, and it shone like biscuit-porcelain in the moonlight. The sleeve of the dress up the arm was darker, but I do not remember the colour. And bending over, as I did, to the vacant rim of the table, I saw how the arm terminated, apparently in a graceful cascade of drapery; much as though an arm were put out through the peak of a snowy tent, the apex of which thus fell around the shoulder on every side. On leaving my forehead, the arm at once disappeared, and I watched it go. It was drawn into the same drapery; but so natively that I can only liken it to a fountain falling down again, and ceasing into the bosom of the water from which it rose. And I also saw the drapery itself vanish, apparently by the same dissipative process. And now the spirits spelt out 'Good Night.'
We are supported in our assertion that we cannot have our real knowledge increased by means of intercourse with spirits, after the most approved fashion of these strange times, by the statements of some of the most earnest advocates of such proceedings. We wonder what certain knowledge can possibly be derived from such beings as are spoken of in this strain :
“ Spirits delight in contradictions. They tell you all sorts of incompatibilities.
There is scarcely any, if there be any, doctrine whatever, or any religion whatever that they will not sanction or deny. They speak what they mean to be falsely understood. They speak to mystify-not always, but sometimes and often. They will tell positive lies with more outstretched conscience than man will. The greater part of them teach good morals and worldly prudence; but there are exceptions; and even of those who seem to be moral and prudent, there are some who ensnare, by leading into dangerous predicaments and labyrinths. The Rev. W. B. F. Barrett, a Swedenborgian clergyman, of New York, comes to the conclusion that a great many of them are evil spirits evidently; but of the rest that are not evidently evil, he says, “I have gathered many facts going to show the consummate craft and subtlety of the spirits, and how they will often communicate to their eager listeners many things true and beautiful at first, apparently for no other purpose than to gain their confidence, and thus lead them captive whithersoever they will.' So that even the good ones are to be suspected."-Spiritual Herald,
pp. 47, 109.
Under such circumstances we take leave to doubt whether the plainest matter of fact, or the simplest moral truth could derive confirmation or authority from the testimony of beings so manifestly erratic and untruthful. If they affirm what we find in scripture, we may believe them, because we believe scripture; but if they affirm what is not in scripture, we have the testimony of their own advocates that they are lying spirits, and must be suspected of evil designs even when they speak the truth.
The apology made for the spirits is rather ingenious :
"The truth is, that this world is a world of good and evil, and it would be out of all analogy with the character of the planet in which we live, if spiritualism were not good and evil also. Take it as it is, good and evil, and make the best you can of it. You will find it as good as anything else that is current in society.”
So, then, after all, we need not expect much improvement to our own condition by being brought into contact with a world of spirits who are no better than they should be, and who, in the matter of lying and tergiversation are infinitely worse than ourselves.
To draw off the mind from the character of the spirits themselves, let us briefly look at what are said to be the truths they teach respecting
our life.” The principal of these are produced ready to our hands at p. 56 of the Spiritual Herald. They are
1. “ The existence of man after death." This doctrine of the Bible derives no strength from such testimony.
2. “That we shall both know and love after leaving the body as before.” Also taught in scripture.
3. “That death only changes us to spirit-men, retaining all the faculties possessed on earth, while waiting for the resurrection of the body.” Clearly deducible from scripture.
4. “That we enter at once into indescribable happiness or misery.” The doctrine of the Bible.
5. "That our most secret thoughts can be known to, and revealed by, the intelligence that is surrounding us and communing with us." This, of the Infinite Intelligence, is a truth revealed: that it is true of any created intelligence is a doctrine of these lying spirits, and therefore to be suspected.
6. “Spiritualism demonstrates, to a great extent, what the state of existence really is after the life on earth.” Spiritualists have certainly told us many more things than are revealed in the Bible of the separate life, but these are to be brought "to the word and to the testimony,” and must be rejected “if they speak not according to them;" while if not contradicted thereby, they must be simply regarded with suspicion as doctrines taught by “spirits" that speak not the truth.
Religious men will see, by the line of remark we have adopted, that to them what are called spiritual manifestations, or intercourse with the invisible world, can be of no value whatever; and that, viewing them in the light of dealings with familiar spirits, which we more than suspect to be their correct designation, they are positively prohibited by the God of the Bible. The truths of our holy religion, which embrace and are intended to influence the whole of our life," must not be based upon evidence accidentally educed by means of surreptitious practices of this nature, but are founded upon the immutable word of the Father of our spirits and the Former of our frames—the Builder and Upholder of all things.
We have now perhaps entered as far into this subject as is requisite to serve the
purpose which induced us to take it up, and which it is right should now be stated. We learned with much surprise a short time ago that many religious people in various parts of the kingdom had begun the practice of inquiring in “spirit-circles,” concerning the affairs both of this life and the next; and that the practice had spread so far that even Methodist class-meetings, after the ordinary exercises, had been turned into “spirit-circles," and some extraordinary scenes enacted; while several of the deluded people had not hesitated to declare that they received “more good” from such sittings than from the previous religious exercises and fellowship. To determine the propriety of such proceedings we were convinced required only a patient examination of the subject, with the aid of the publications devoted to their advocacy; and such conclusions as we have ventured to state have, we trust, been arrived at with sufficient clearness as well as due caution. We respectfully commend them to the attentive consideration of those whom they concern,
One general remark may be made in conclusion. Let the men of the world seek knowledge after their own fashion; the cisterns they may hew out for themselves will in the end be found to hold no water; but let us who are instructed in the things that make for the peace and salvation of men, and for the ultimate renewal of the world in righteousness, seek earnestly to know more of the mind of God as revealed in his holy word, and “whereto we have already attained," in the know
ledge of Christ, who is emphatically “our life," "let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing;" knowing that then, " When Christ, who is 'our life’ shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory," and the whole problem of humanity shall receive its due solution.
GRATITUDE, CONFESSION, AND CONSECRATION.
A LOCAL PREACHER'S WATCH-NIGHT ADDRESS. My friends, we have, by the good hand of our God upon us, reached another boundary line of time. From this momentous stand point we can survey the past, and, as far as mortals may, come to some conclusions respecting the future. We shall be assisted in doing so by the solemnity of the moment. We are witnessing the death of one of our best friends.
Some of us have had many, others but few of such friends ; but whether we have had many or few, they have been truly our best friends. The one whose departure we are now called to witness will soon be numbered with the years beyond the flood: our watches and clocks will soon say,
“ He is gone gone for ever!” The bell of the church tower will, in a few more minutes, resound in every reflective mind, "gonegone, for ever!” Our day books and ledgers will soon record that he is
gonegone, for ever!” Our almanacks and histories will say “gone gone for ever!” and will all hasten to introduce us to a new friend. But before we take final leave of our old one, let us pause and review his history, and may God the Spirit graciously assist us.
“ This was a statute in Israel and a law of the God of Jacob : "Ye shall remember," said Moses, the man of God, "all the way in which the Lord your God hath led you these forty years in the wilderness,"—and the duty of reflection and self examination has been enjoined upon the New Testament Church : “Examine your own selves.” We shall be aided in doing so if we observe the four following particulars :1st. What have been the mercies of God during the passing year? 2ndly. What of our sins ? Srdly. What is our state to-night? And 4thly. What is our present duty.
First then, What have been the mercies of God towards us? We have not now time to examine all the mercies of the year which has nearly come to a close; we can only take a passing glance.
Life has been continued, and it has not been to us a mere blanka living death-we have really enjoyed life; it has been “something." And then life has not only been spared, but we have all had the necessaries of life, and not a few of us have had its comforts - and hence the appropriateness of those lines of Dr. Watts,
“Not more than others I deserve,
Yet God has given me more;
And bog from door to door."