The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 20
Scientific Objections to Spiritualism Considered
Scientific Objections to Spiritualism Considered.
A very numerous and a very attentive and apparently deeply-interested audience assembled at the Orderly Room last evening, to listen to a discourse by Mr Denovan on the above subject. Many, doubtless, were kept away in consequence of the heat of the weather. Fully a third of those present were ladies. The singing was very good, some fine female voices adding to the effect. Mr Denovan intimated that he would deliver the third of the series of lectures, on "The Christian Objections to Spiritualism Examined," in a month or six weeks from now, if possible.
The lecturer read a chapter from the Acts of the Apostles, and the hymns sung during the evening were Addison's noble composition, "The spacious firmament on High," "From North and South, from East and West, advance the myriads of the blest," "Death is the fading of a cloud," and the Doxology. Mr Denovan then proceeded:—
Friends,—In my former lecture on "The Evidences of Spiritualism," I endeavored to prove that the extraordinary phenomena occurring at circles, in all nations, were genuine, and were produced by the spirits of our departed friends and relatives, who, by means of a great natural law of God, of which we are ignorant, were, though absent in the body, still able to communicate with us. I pointed out to you that in former ages, by means of this law, spirits held daily converse with men; and, that if it were denied that they could do so in the present age, it would be incumbent on our opponents to prove when this law became inoperative, by whom it was rendered so, and for what wise purpose so beneficent a provision of nature was set aside. I also drew your attention to the present state of Christianity—to the wide-spread unbelief in the truth of divine revelation which prevails amongst the educated classes, and the necessity which exists for a new revelation, with a view of converting materialists and sceptics to a belief in God and a life to come. Spiritualism, as I showed you, had already been instrumental, to a very great extent, in bringing about the conversion of many thousands of "infidels" in all those countries where it had obtained a footing, and was understood by the people; and that as its truth was established by the most incontestible evidence from all quarters, and by all ranks and conditions of men, it was only fair, before being condemned by you, that it should be subjected to the crucial test of an honest and impartial investigation.
To-night, in accordance with my promise, I proceed to consider "The Leading Scientific Objections to Spiritualism." And in the discharge of this duty, permit me to assure you of my desire to act honestly and impartially in the matter. I would most respectfully remind you that if spiritualism be not true, and the objections urged against it are capable of proof, then before the arguments of the materialists, believers in the immortality of the soul will have to bow their heads; because, if the living evidence in favor of this all-important doctrine is to be rejected (for such evidence is, from the very nature of things, the most convincing), the dead evidence must also fail. Hence the vital importance to all believers in God, and a life beyond the present, of the truth of spiritualism.
The first objection I will deal with is as follows:—"The phenomena produced at circles, if genuine, are the result of brain force." Now, let us examine this objection carefully, and see if it is correct. Before this opinion can be received in elucidation of the phenomena, its advocates will require to prove to the satisfaction of the public what brain force is, how it can raise and suspend heavy bodies in the air without human contact, how loud raps on the tables, chairs, doors, and walls of rooms are produced by it, and how things are related at circles, through mediums, of which none present have any knowledge, but which are afterwards found to be strictly correct; and how it conjures up the spirits to visibly show themselves to mortals. That these phenomena are not the result of brain force I shall now endeavor to show. Robert Dale Owen, in his "Footfalls on the Boundary of another World," gives an account of a lady who resided in a beautiful country residence, at no great distance whom London, and who had lost by death an aged friend, to whom page 20 she was greatly attached, being impressed to write. One day after his death, she being in a very sorrowful frame of mind, went into her garden. "She had been there but a few minutes, when she felt a strong impulse to return to the house and write." She got some note paper and a pencil, sat down on the stops of the front door, placing the portfolio on her knee, with the sheet of paper across it. "After a time the hand was gradually drawn to the lower right-hand corner, and began to write backward; completing the first line rear the left-hand edge of the sheet, then commencing a second line, and finally a third, both on the right, and completing the writing near to where she had first put down her pencil. Not only was the last letter in the sentence written first, and so on until the commencing letter was written last, but each separate letter was written backward or inversely: the pencil going over the lines which composed each letter from right to left." Mr Owen adds:—"Mrs W. stated to me that (as may well be conceived) she had not the slightest perception of what her hand was writing; no idea passing through her mind at the time." * * The sentence read thus: "Ye are sorrowing as one without hope. Cast thy burden upon God, and He will help thee" The lady, after recovering from her surprise, pondered over in her mind who caused her to write the sentence, and she very naturally concluded that it was the spirit of her aged friend who had thus been permitted to comfort her. She silently prayed that if it were her old friend he would write his name. Mr Owen says: "The event, however, wholly belied her expectation. The pencil, again drawn nearly to the right-hand edge of the paper, wrote, backward as before, not the expected name, but the initials R. G. D. Mrs W., as she read them, felt herself shudder and turn pale. The grave seemed giving forth its dead. The initials were those of a young man who, eighteen years before, had sought her in marriage, but whom, though she had long known and highly esteemed him, she had rejected." I regret that time will not permit of me giving the narrative in full; but sufficient has been given to convince you that "brain-force" had nothing whatever to do with this spirit manifestation. In this case the lady was used as a mere mechanical agent by another, and that other an entirely different spirit to the one she was thinking of, one too who had been in the spirit world for a number of years. And in addition to the startling fact of the initials given being those of a person she was not even thinking of instead of those of her old friend, there was the writing itself, a letter of which she did not know when writing it until she had laid aside the pencil and read it. Friends, such facts as these will carry conviction to all whose minds are open to the reception of truth. I may add, too, that the lady in question was not a spiritualist. There was in this case strong evidence of the presence of an independent intelligence, which not only impressed the lady in question to write, but directed her hand in a totally different manner from her usual style of writing, making her write the last letter of the last word of the sentence backward, and so on to the end of the first letter of the first word of it; and though the sentence is a very beautiful one, she was so purely a mechanical agent in the writing of it, that she knew not what she had written until she read it. Then, her brain force came into action, and supplied her with the necessary intelligence to know and understand what she had written. I presume most persons will agree with me that this is the natural and legitimate purpose for which brain force is given to all of us. Rut it will be a hard task indeed for anyone to prove that the brain can of itself upset all the normal faculties of an individual, and so control him as to make him write in any manner it may choose, and to at the same time so deaden all his perceptions as to make him perfectly unconscious of what he is writing; and above all to supply him with intelligence which was not within his brain at the time he was made to write. It appears to me, in such a case, it would be much easier to believe in the spiritual theory than in that of brain force. But in all cases where men or women are used as mere mechanical mediums, it is a well-known fact that during the process of their organisations being so used, the brain is either made inactive or "deadened." This is frankly admitted now by the more learned of our opponents, who have been driven by the logic of facts to seek for other and more tenable objections to spiritualism. William Crookes, of the Royal Society, has proved by his experiments with Mr Home, that "an accordion was floated and played without human contact, and a tune performed without a key being touched by Mr Home or anybody else." Now page 21 if it was force from the brain of Mr Homo which performed the tune on the accordion without his touching the keys, what is there to prevent either you or mo from performing in the same way? Will some of the more rabid of the opponents to spiritualism try the experiment? I fear in such a case it would be found that the connecting link of matter with mind was wanting. Just as the electric telegraph requires an operator at each end of the line to transmit a message, so does an accordion require a hand to touch the keys before the holder can play a tune upon it. Before we can believe to the contrary, we must get rid of all the laws of physical science hitherto known amongst men. And as Mr Crookes and the other scientific gentlemen present with him in the room when his experiments with Mr Home wore made, all testify that neither their hands nor those of Mr Homo touched the keys, the question will naturally arise in the minds of all thinking persons—Whoso hands did it? Perhaps some of our much esteemed local clergymen in Sandhurst will answer. I make the suggestion to them in good faith.
The next objection of any weight is that urged by that eminent scientist, Dr Carpenter, namely, "Unconscious Cerebration." This idea means, as plainly as I can express it, the revival or reproduction of impressions or thoughts which, at one time or other, were in the brain, and which, unknown to us, remained dormant there, irrespective of the lapse of time. That is, if you and I wore to-night to receive an impression that the world was flat instead of round like a globe, the impression might be altogether forgotten by us, as though it had never been made; yet it would remain latent in the brain unconsciously to us, and might be by a corresponding action of the brain reproduced, and appearing to us as a now impression. Now, friends, Dr Carpenter in the 'Quarterly Review' and in his lectures against Spiritualism, has argued in favor of this theory being one of the principal causes of the extraordinary phenomena produced at circles, with all the eloquence and learning of which he is capable; but it has only had the effect of creating a little attention and excitement on both sides, without weakening the spiritualist hypothesis in the least. Because it only proves this much, and nothing more, namely, that where latent thought or impressions have at one time or other been made on the brain, they may without the knowledge of anyone present be revived. Now, I am quite prepared to admit that in not a few cases where mediums have met in circles for a few weeks only, what is spoken or written by them in the abnormal state may be nothing more than the abnormal action of their own brains, causing them to reproduce words and sentences which may appear new to them, but which in reality are nothing more than old disjointed scraps of what they have heard or learned at church, or the Sunday school, and with which no spirit out of the body has had anything to do. But to suppose for one moment that such a theory would account for the leading phenomena of spiritualism, is preposterous and absurd, and only goes to prove how very little knowledge such learned men as Dr Carpenter possess on the subject, or how little of their time and thought they have given to a proper investigation of it. It may be that statements have been made through mediums at circles which all present at the time thought were incorrect, but which afterwards were proved to be true, and thus recalled to the mind of some present; but it is likewise equally true that information has been given, which no one present had over known or heard of, and which has afterwards been verified to the letter. In the latter case it could not be by the aid of "unconscious cerebration," as it had never been impressed on the brain. And this theory most certainly does not create, whatever else it may do. But even in the former case, Dr Carpenter would have some trouble to prove to the satisfaction of an intelligent audience that his theory accounted for the information given. If not in the mind of the medium; but in that of one of the circle, by what means was the unconscious thought conveyed to the brain of the medium, and by him re-conveyed to the original possessor of it? With his brain deadened, as it is acknowledged to be in the abnormal state, what power enabled him to do such a thing? Let us examine Dr Carpenter's theory further. I frankly acknowledge its important bearing on the question at issue, and would, therefore, most respectfully ask your close attention while I endeavor to prove to you its utter fallacy as an antidote to the spiritualist hypothesis. Signor Damiani, in his evidence before the Committee of the Dialectical Society, of London, stated that at a seance he attended, a spirit came and announced itself to be his sister Marietta. He had page 22 no knowledge of such a sister, and wrote to his mother, asking her whether she had ever born a child called Marietta "By return of post," says the signor, "my brother, Joseph Damiana, wrote as follows: 'In reply to your inquiry, mother wishes me to tell you that on October 2nd, 1821, she gave birth, at the town of Messina, to a female child, who came into the world in so weakly a condition that the midwife, using her prerogative in such emergencies, gave her baptism. Six hours after birth the child died, when the midwife disclosed the fact of her having baptised the infant under the name of Maria (the endearing diminutive of which is Marietta).'" "The birth and death of this sister," says the signor, "I have verified by reference to the family register;" and he adds, "You must admit, gentlemen, that in the above case 'unconscious cerebration' has not one leg to stand upon." Signor Damiani adds: "I have frequently held spirit hands (at all events, hands not attached to any corresponding body) in my grasp. * * These hands would melt away and dissolve in mine. I have often seen the hands." In reply to a question by the chairman (Dr Edmund), "Have you ever obtained any information which could not have been known to the medium, or to any one present?" Lord Lindsay, another witness, said:—
"I know of one such fact, which I can relate to you. A friend of mine was very anxious to find the will of his grandmother, who had been dead forty years, but could not even find the certificate of her death. I went with him to the Marshalls, and we had a seance; we sat at a table, and soon the rape came; my friend then asked his questions mentally; he went over the alphabet himself, or sometimes I did so, not knowing the question. We were told the will had been drawn by a man named Wm. Walker, who lived in Whitechapel. The name of the street and the number of the house were given. We went to Whitechapel, found the man, and subsequently, through his aid, obtained a copy of the draft; he was quite unknown to us, and had not always lived in that locality, for he had once seen better days. The medium could not possibly have known anything about the matter, and even if she had, her knowledge would have been of no avail, as all the questions were menial ones."
Mr Manuel Eyre gives the following extraordinary evidence:—
"I will now relate a fact which, I think, shows an intelligence foreign to that of the persons present at the circle where it occurred. One object of my visit to this country was to obtain if possible the register of the baptism of a person born in England, and who died in America a century ago. From information given me, I was led to believe I would get this in Yorkshire or Cambridgeshire. I spoilt over three months, and took a great deal of trouble, but all to no purpose. I had received from America a spirit communication that I would be able to get the information of where this baptismal register was to be found through a medium in this country. I tried through several mediums, but got nothing satisfactory but the assurance I would get it. I at last received a communication from a spirit, directing me to go Mrs Marshall. Being mistrustful of public mediums, I determined to use extreme caution in pursuing my investigation. I went to Mrs Marshall in the winter of 1862. I did not tell who I was or what I wanted—sat down in a corner of the largo room, Mrs Marshall was sitting in the other; this was near the window. I was conversing with Mrs Marshall when the table, a large heavy round table, came jumping across from the opposite side of the room, and turned over in my lap; there was no one near the table, and it was in broad daylight. We then had some communications by the alphabet through the movement of the table. I said nothing about the information I wanted, but, when leaving, said I would come again. I did so in a few days. Before leaving home I wrote out and numbered about a dozen questions, among them was the question, 'Where can I find the register of the baptism I am searching for?' The paper with the questions I had folded and placed in a stout envelope and closed it. When we sat down to the table, I asked, after some other questions, if the spirit would answer the questions I had written and had in my pocket—the answer, by raps, was 'Yes.' I asked if I should lay the paper with the questions on, folded as it was and in the envelope on the table, and the answer was 'Yes.' I took the envelope containing these questions out of my pocket, and, without opening it, laid it on the table. I then took a piece of paper, and as the questions were answered—Nos. 1, 2, and so on—I wrote down the answers. When we page 23 came to the question where I could get the register of this baptism, the tabic telegraphed 'Stepney Church,' and at the same time Mrs Marshall, sen., in her peculiar manner, blurted out 'Stepney.' Being at that time a stranger in London, I did not know there was such a place. I went on with the questions I had prepared, and got correct answers to all of them. A few days afterwards I went to Stepney Church, and after spending some days in searching, I there found the register of the baptism as I had been told.'
And now, friends, I think that you will at once see that the theory of "unconscious cerebration" does not nor cannot account for such cases as these I have just read to you; and these are only a few out of hundreds of such. Take those of Professor Hare and Mr Peebles, which I related to you in my previous lecture, both being remarkable cases of spirit manifestations, and showing as plainly as evidence could show it, that the mediums nor no one connected with them in the body, had anything to do with their production. If, then, this theory of Dr Carpenter's does hot cover all of the more important phenomena occurring at spirit circles, it must be given up as untenable, and he and his supporters will either have to accept the spiritual origin claimed for them by upwards of twenty millions of people, or find out some other more rational cause for them than the one which he so persistently but so hopelessly advocates. And that it fails to do this, let me hope that the evidence which I have thus placed before you has abundantly demonstrated. The next leading objections to the spiritualist theory are these:—"The phenomena are genuine, but are to be accounted for in laws and forces connected with the human organism such as mesmerism, odic-force, muscular action," &c., &c. In this class of objectors the spiritualist perceives honesty of conviction, a belief in the integrity of most of those who testify to what they witness at the circles, and the wish to learn more. I desire, therefore, to return the gentlemanly courtesy of such opponents, by a respectful consideration of their theories. It is a step gained for the now philosophy when we find those opposed to it forced to admit the genuine character of the phenomena. If they would only apply themselves to a diligent and impartial investigation of them, they might find that instead of the spiritualist being wrong in attributing them to the action of disembodied spirits, they themselves were at fault in hastily adopting the opinion that they were only the result of some physical law connected with the human system, and hitherto unknown to science. Let us now see if there is anything in these objections. I have already endeavored to show you that brain force and unconscious cerebration had nothing whatever to do with the production of the principal manifestations at spirit circles, and that the agents of them were independent in many of their actions of the circles altogether; whilst at the same time, in consequence of the peculiar nature of certain organisms, these agents had the power of using them mechanically for such purposes us they deemed necessary in their efforts to impress us with the truth of their being able to communicate with us; and that these intelligences uniformly asserted they were the spirits of departed friends and relatives who had at one time or other dwelt amongst us. Now, before spiritualists can consistently be asked to distrust the evidence of their senses and disbelieve in the spiritual theory, our opponents must first be able to show us that these agents are laws and forces within us, instead of actual spirits. How could laws and forces within us carry a letter through the air, from Florence to Leghorn, wait for an answer, and take it back to its destination, a distance of 120 miles, as testified to by Baron Kirkup of Italy, as having been done last year by a spirit, to his knowledge, in little more than an hour of time? Would the laws and forces within us convey a message from Bendigo to Melbourne by electric telegraph and back, unless there were an operator at each end of the line? Or supposing, for the sake of argument, that we have laws and forces within us capable of doing such astounding things, contrary to all the known laws of our physical being, would not this go a great, way towards establishing the truth of spiritualism? For would it not prove an in-dwelling God—if I may so express it—who could create as well as execute, and whose power would reach beyond the finite understanding to conceive? It is on record, and supported by evidence which would be received in any court of justice in the world, that natural flowers have been brought into circles, formed into wreaths and crowns and placed on the heads of some of those present by invisible agent. Whether, let me ask, is it more consistent with common sense to believe that page 24 these agents were spirits, or to believe that they wore merely laws and forces within the members of the circles? And by what means could muscular action pass through stone walls and locked doors, and deposit material objects on the table in the presence of many witnesses, as has been done over and over again, both in England, Franco, Germany, America, and heroin Australia? (See recent manifestations at J. P.'s, Castlemaine.) It is a fact that spirits have appeared to persons in places where no circles were ever held, and that those spirits have been seen by many persons having no connection with them in any way. (See 'Footfalls on the Boundary of another World.") It is also a fact that in England, at the present time, spirits are now making themselves visible to the circles, appear in garments which look like cloth, converse with them, shake hands with them, tie and untie the mediums, and do many other wonderful things. But then, it is contended by some, that those are only odic vapors proceeding from the members of the circles themselves, and taking the shape of hands, faces, and forms, similar to those of a human being. Now, friends, you must admit that this is a far more extravagant idea than the spiritual one, for chemical substances emanating from our physical bodies produced by people sitting in a circle, to assume the functions of deity, create the human form so perfect in all its parts as to enable it to speak and act the same in every respect as a living, intelligent personality, is to ask us to believe a greater absurdity, than that of the eastern divinity who swallowed the entire ocean at night, and vomited it up again in the morning. The one miracle would be as hard to believe as the other. That would be a miracle with a vengeance, and makes that of Jonah and the whale look very small. But were such a thing possible, the creation thus brought into being would be, from its nature, a mere automaton of the thoughts, opinions, and peculiar characteristics of those present; but what are the facts? It is acknowledged that the spirits who visibly appear in bodily form at circles express opinions directly contrary to those held by the members, and act and think as independent beings, distinct and separate from us. William Howitt, writing of this odic force, says:—"Search through Reichenbach's essay on this force, and you will find no trace of a reasoning power in it. It cannot enable people to draw and write, and play exquisite music, who have no such power or knowledge in their brains; it cannot come from other brains, for there are often no other brains present. If it could do such things it would be spirit, endowed with volition, skill, and knowledge; and there would be an end to the dispute. The condition, therefore, of those who ascribe these powers to odic force, is that of one ascribing the telegraphic message to the wire, and not to the man at the end of it. Odic force may be the wire; for spiritual communications are, and ever have been, made through and under certain laws, as all God's works always are; but it certainly is not the intelligence at the end of it. Whilst the odists and automatists speculate about an action on the brain, we cut the matter short, and say—'There stand the spirits themselves, seen, hoard, felt and conversed with.'"
This idea, then, must also be given up as totally at variance with facts, as utterly repugnant to all the laws governing our physical organism, and as insulting to our common sense. Neither the laws and forces within us, nor the chemical emanations proceeding from our bodies, could possibly endow us with power to create an adult human being, perfect in every part, and able to shake hands with us, sing, write, and speak. Our opponents who advocate such a theory must indeed be hard pressed for an argument, which is about as near the truth as the one ascribing the table phenomena to the "knee-joints" of some one present, or to that of Mr Wizard Anderson, to "secret springs being placed under the rooms" whore they occur. The Mesmeric theory is the most sensible, in my opinion, of any yet propounded by our opponents. It is stated that the medium is involuntarily mesmerised cither by some one in the circle or by the circle. I do not say that in the case of some sensitives this is not the case; indeed, I think it highly probable that it is so; and that in such cases spirits out of the body have nothing to do with what they say or do. It would be a fatal mistake, friends, to attribute to spirits a great deal of the twaddle that is spoken and written at some of the circles by entranced mediums, who are but partially developed. Such mediums only give expression to their own thoughts, or those of some present, and are clearly under the delusive and visionary operations of mesmerism. And if their mediumistic qualifications are not of a page 25 high order, they are never likely to advance much further than the first stage of development. But you are not to suppose from this that the many wonderful things said and done at circles, some through mediums and some without them, are the result of the mesmeric powers of one or more of those present. In a considerable number of instances they are done by mesmerism, but in all such instances the operator, bear in mind, is a spirit. And he may not require to go inside the body, or even to be present in the circle, to effect his object. His will-power is brought to bear upon the medium whether he is absent or present. But in a very large number of cases those mediums controlled or mesmerised by the spirits, are persons who never could be mesmerised by any mesmerist in the body, a fact which I beg to commend to the special notice of such a learned gentleman as Dr Carpenter, and to ask him to explain it if he can. Again, there are many mediums, such as Koto Fox, D. D. Home, and Dr Slade, through whom some of the best and most convincing of the phenomena come in their normal state (see Owen's 'Debatable Land,' 'The Banner of Light,' and Home's 'Incidents in my Life and some without either circle or medium. In the circle of which I am a member, a mesmerist who joined it a year ago, and who was not then a spiritualist, thought he could prove the phenomena neither more nor less than the result of ordinary mesmerism, and without letting any of us know, quietly, whilst sitting in the dark, proceeded to try his experiments on the mediums while they were under control; but he soon found, to his utter astonishment, that he could exercise no power over them whatever, and that instead of his being able to mesmerise them, he was likely to get mesmerised himself. And so he did, the spirits completely controlling him and throwing him on the floor in a deep trance. Nor could any of us exercise the smallest control over them any more than our friend until the spirits would tell us to "wake them." Spiritualists, therefore, frankly admit the mesmeric theory as accounting for some of the phenomena; but they differ from their opponents as to the operators. With the ordinary mesmerist, the sensitive is under his control; but when the spirit-mesmerists control ordinary operators have to give place to them. This has been proved in our own circle over and over again when the usual mesmeric passes have failed to wake the mediums, and the spirits have chosen to wake them by other moans. These are facts, and facts are stubborn things. Mr Peebles, when in Bendigo, related a case in point. You will remember it, it was in reference to a young man Atkin, whom he had under his control, but after a time lost it, a spirit having controlled him. It was the same with Dr Dunn. This gentleman, when a lad, one night went on the platform to be mesmerised by a mesmerist lecturer. He went to sham, but was really mesmerised, not by the lecturer—who found he had no control over him—but by a spirit. Friends, from all these facts which I have thus endeavored to plainly bring before you, you must admit that there are good and substantial reasons for the spiritual theory; in fact, that "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy." It is all very well for the Materialist to sneer at, and deride the idea of our living after the physical body has been laid in the grave; but sneering will not make the fact any less, nor will it prevent the spread of the truth on this momentous question. Every day is teaching us how little we really know concerning ourselves and the wonders of creation. It is, no doubt, a hard matter for many highly educated minds to believe in the doctrine of the immortality of the soul; but they have had before now to unlearn many things which they supposed were as true as mathematical truth, and will have again. We are not to blindly follow the lead of the scientist who clings to his darling idea of matter being the first and only cause of all things, as a child does to his rocking horse; because God has bestowed upon us reasoning faculties which enable us to think and know differently. Plato and Pythagoras, as well as the so-called inspired penmen of the Bible, taught that the world was flat instead of round, and that the sun moved round it; instead of it—as the brave Galileo demonstrated—moving round the sun. Some highly respectable journals in England, supported by men of science, laughed at and ridiculed the idea of people travelling by rail, or crossing the ocean in a steamboat; yet all these things have been accomplished, and millions travel by both these means. And now, to meet the commercial requirements of the old and new worlds, a telegraphic girdle encircles the globe. Who, in the presence of such facts as these, will have the hardihood to assert that God's omnipotence page 26 cannot extend to the perpetuation of the lives of all his creatures beyond the present life? There may be more truth in the Darwinian theory of creation than many people suppose. It most certainly harmonises with the law of eternal progress which we see at work everywhere. When we take into consideration the fact of the infinite magnitude of the creation with its countless worlds all controlled by the hand of Divine wisdom and power, we are lost in wonder. With our poor finite comprehensions we may not be able to solve the complex problem as to how the spiritual power of the Creator was formed; but when we look around us and see this planet in which we live travelling in its orbit with a speed fifty times greater than that of a cannon ball, and yet sustaining in life myriads of living creatures, who are a mystery to themselves, can we doubt the existence of the spiritual power of God—the Soul of them universe? Says Professor Hare: "The existence of governing reason in this universe, has always appeared to me as evident as the matter which it controls." Let our materialist friends, then, be slow to reject the evidences of the truth of spiritualism. Let them do with this question, as they do with those other questions which more immediately interest them, subject it to a rigid and patient investigation; and by the same law of evidence which enables them to believe that an insect can emerge from a chrysalis into a full-blown butterfly, namely, the evidence of their senses will they learn the fact, that they and all mankind, when the change called death comes, shall enter upon a higher state of being. With materialists and freethinkers, all Progressive Spiritualists have much in common. With them, spiritualists enthrone reason above blind faith. They demand evidence first before giving their faith, faith following as the result of the other. They join with all liberal minds, whether in the Christian Church or out of it, in subjecting everything to analysis. Their watchword is—"Progress." Spiritualists say in the language of the Duke of Somerset, "Men who have been carefully trained to distrust authority, and to rely for the acquisition of knowledge upon experiment, analysis, and patient research, cannot subsequently divest themselves of a habit of mind which has become a part of their nature. They must either suppress or relinquish all religious thought, or they must apply to the records of the revealed religion, the same spirit of investigation, which has already reopened the sources of history, and extended the domain of science." This position, though it may be and is assailed by the clergy, is an impregnable one; and as education becomes the heritage of all, it must of necessity be the popular one. Spiritualists desire to respect the consciences of all, but openly proclaim on the house-tops their rejection and disbelief in all the leading tenets of orthodoxy. They reject the story of the Fall. They denounce as blasphemy the horrible doctrine of the devil rampant and an endless hell, refusing in the words of Gerald Massey, to "accept the notion that God cursed the whole creation on account of the trespass of one man and woman." They substitute God's law of progress for that of vicarious sacrifice, and whilst discarding the doctrine of the Trinity, believe in the beautiful philosophy of Jesus, as a divine code which, if men would but follow, would lead to happiness here and hereafter. They also teach the gradual substitution of the authority of the parents and schoolmasters for that of the clergy, honestly looking upon the clerical order as the remnants of the old systems of Government—a sort of moral police—which the growing intelligence, and self-respect of the people will soon enable them to do without. The progressive spiritualist is courageous to stand up and tell the whole Christian priesthood that they must either ally themselves with the progressive spirit of the age, or become reconciled to the fact of their authority and influence being gradually sapped and destroyed. People are beginning to see that practical religion—the religion of love and good works—is of far more importance to humanity at large, than a mere adherance to the old systems of belief or articles of faith, but which have served their day and generation, but which, as man progresses, in a knowledge of the laws of his being and rises higher in the scale of civilization, are no longer adapted to either his aspirations, or his circumstances. There are at this moment vast forces of men and women both inside and outside of all religious systems and belonging to all sections of society convinced that the pear is ripe for sweeping changes both in church and state; and these forces have long ceased to believe in the necessity for keeping up an immense army of professional clergymen, or their nostrums. These forces—heretical in the eyes of the church, no doubt, believe that the schoolmaster is a far more usfeul person to page 27 society, than the clergyman, and all progressive spiritualists join with them in this opinion, and in helping forward the noble work of reformation and education. But spiritualists believe at the same time, in the necessity of training up the young in a simple love of God the Great Father of all, and in teaching them beautiful lessons of virtue and religion. And, they therefore, urge upon all parents the duty of setting a good example to their children. Love of God and to your neighbour, as Jesus our elder brother taught, is the sum and substance of ail true religion, and where this prevails in the heart and life, creeds, forms and ceremonies, are of secondary importance. The dogma of the life beyond the grave, where taught as the result of a belief founded upon evidence and knowledge of its truth, tends to reconcile and discipline the human family to an endurance of, all the vicissitudes of this chequered life. All who are fortunate enough to possess this knowledge—and it is the heritage of all—feel their sympathies enlarged, and their love to God and and vitalised. In the language of Gerald Massey, the poet: "Ours is a faith, with ail the spirit-world about us as a witness; a positive, vitalising faith in a living, communicating God." See to it, then, spiritualists, that when in a spirit of love for all, you go forward seeking in your several ways to right the wrongs of humanity, you exhibit this faith in all you say and do. Exercise great toleration towards your brethren of the old faiths. Bear with them when they, in their ignorance of the facts of yours, rail at it. In your business be diligent, be just; and in striking a balance, as Mr Leech once said, "Let the scale be turned on the side of the poor." Teach virtue and probity to your children, both by your example and precept. In your domestic relations of husband and wife let there be esteem and affection, and mutual companionship and confidence. If there be weakness on one side, let there be forbearance and forgiveness on the other; "for whom God has joined together lot no man put asunder." Mothers, you whose influence is so great in moulding the future characters of your offspring, a heavy responsibility rests upon you. See to it that your own souls are cheered and purified by your intimate knowledge of the divine life. See to it that your domestic duties are lightened by systematic habits of cleanliness and order, and that all your children are trained to be industrious, thrifty, and self-reliant. Only but attend to these simple rules in the conduct of your households, and you will be beacon lights to the world—"living epistles known and road of ail men." Your children will grow up to be the joy of your old age. Your neighbors and friends will take knowledge of you; your word of honor will be accepted everywhere as your bond; your sphere of usefulness will be extended, and above and around the good which you do and the influence which you exercise will shod blessings and glory and honor upon you and yours; so that when your race is run and the hour of your departure has come, you will hear the voices of those whom you loved and lost on earth welcoming you to the summer land with the word?, Well done good and faithful servants; enter into the joys of paradise. Says Massey:—
"Blessed are they whose treasures are in heaven!
Their griefs too rich for our poor comforting.
Let us put on the robe of readiness,
The golden trumpet will be sounding soon,
That bids us to the gathering in the heavens!
Let us press forward to their summit of life,
Who have ceased to pant for breath, and won their rest,
And there is no more parting, no more pain."
to tell us of the life beyond the grave, and of the glories that await us in our new homes in the higher spheres. These divine messengers give us good counsels; telling us to live noble lives if we would be happy here and hereafter. The clergy say that it is all the work of the Devil. Well, all I have to say in reply to this is: it it be his Satanic Majesty, he must have got converted, for most assuredly he is doing the work of the other side. What a curious old fellow this Devil must be. Would Darwin or Buckle tell us if he has got a tail, and whether—as he appears to be ubiquitous—he ever appears in the pulpit with a surplice? Then, it is said to be all a delusion, the thousands who testify to what they have seen and heard having been deceived. Now, let me reply to this in the words of the late Dr Robert Chambers, who was a devoted spiritualist. He says:—
"The beloved ones, the true hearted,
Come to visit us once more."
"A little modesty would evidently go a great way to solve the difficulty which the incredulous profess to feel on this point. If they would so far yield to the behests of their favorite philosophy as to inquire before pronouncing, it might chance that the position of a believer in these phenomena would become more intelligible to them. So at least, it has already happened with a vast number of persons, equally positive at starting, that the whole was a delusion, and we are entitled to assume that what has been may be so again."
Friends, I beg to thank you for the undivided attention you have given me throughout the lecture, and commend what I have said to your favorable consideration. "I speak as unto wise men; judge ye what I say."
Mills, Dick & Co., Printers Stafford Street, Dunedin.