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vol. 3, p. 207
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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For the Spiritual Scientist

Spiritualism and its Work

Thou, who in the noon-time brightness

Seest a shadow undefined;
Hear'st a voice that indistinctly
Whispers caution to thy mind:
Thou, who hast a vague foreboding
That a peril may be nea,
Even when Nature smiles around thee,
And thy conscience holds thee clear —
Trust the warning — look before thee —
Angels may the mirror show,
Dimly still, but sent to guide thee:
We are wiser than we know.

–Charles Mackay
<We Are Wiser Than We Know >

A belief in spirit existence is almost the necessary result of a review of the vestiges of Egyptian mystic philosophy; the oracles and Pagan worship of Greece and Rome; the sorcery and magic of the Middle or “Dark Ages;” the witchcraft of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; and, subsequently, Animal Magnetism, with its sequel, modern Spiritualism. We cannot unceremoniously pronounce it all a delusion and a lie, without destroying our entire faith in human testimony. If we accept the testimony of our ancestors, and admit 'hat they are entitled to equal credibility with ourselves, we are by the force of evidence compelled to believe io the existence of spirits; either that, or, hypothetically that the brain of man, or whatever constitute his mental organism, conceal, a power more wonderful and mystical, even, than that of the spirit hypothesis.

Animal Magnetism is sometimes advanced as a principle explanatory of the entire spiritual phenomena. Those who argue thus, in their burry to reach a plausible explanation, seem to forget that Spiritualists claim animal magnetism as the medium of communication between spirits and men; and that, as a rule which works both ways, men—being spirits now as much as they will be when they have “shifted off this mortal coil”—can use it as a medium of communication with one another. A psychologist can impress the mind of his subjects with whatever fancies he pleases; if a spirit does the same, will the former fact explain away the latter? Few, who have had any experience in spirit-circles, are ignorant of the fact that mediums often receive impressions from spirits still in the form; ay, communications from individuals many miles distant at the time. The argument advanced from a psychological standpoint, instead of being in explanation of the spiritual phenomena, is a strong support to the doctrine of spirit entity; for, if we have the elements of a spiritual existence, it is rational to believe that we possess some of its power.

While the opponents of Spiritualism err in treating it as a matter of little moment—as something too absurd and puerile to merit consideration—Spiritualists err, on the other hand, in exalting its importance. Life, by many Spiritualists, is considered as valueless, if it be not continued beyond the grave; and they think that, if only in this life we have hope, good morals lose their virtue, and manhood has no inducement to maintain its integrity. Such principles are mean and despicable, and unworthy of a honest mind. Alger, in his “Doctrine of a Future State,” thus desposes of them in their tree light.

If all experienced good and evil wholly terminate for us when we die, still every intrinsic reason which, on the supposition of immortality, makes wisdom better than folly, industry better than sloth, righteousness better than iniquity, benevolence and purity better than hatred and corruption, also makes them equally preferable while they last. Even if the philosopher ana the Idiot, the religious philanthropist and the brutal pirate, did die alike, who would not rather live like the sage and the saint than like the fool and the felon? Shall heaven be held before men simply as a piece of meat before a hungry dog to make him jump well? It is a shocking perversion of the grandest doctrine of faith. Let the theory of annihilation assume its direst phase, still our perception of principles, our consciousness of sentiments, our sense of moral loyalty, are not devolved, but will bold us firmly lo every noble duty until we ourselves flow into the dissolving abyss. But some one may say, “If I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth me if the dead rise not?” It advantageth you everything until you are dead, although there is nothing afterwards. As long as you live, is it not glory and reward enough to have conquered the beasts at Ephesus? This is sufficient reply to the unbelieving flouters at the moral law. And as an unanswerable refutation of the feeble whine of sentimentality that without mortal endurance nothing is worth our affection, let great Shakspere advance, with his matchless depth of bold insight reversing the conclusion, and pronouncing in tones of cordial solidity:


I trust I have not wasted breath:
I think we are not wholly brain,
Magnetic mockeries; not in vain,
Like Paul with beasts, I fought with Death;
Not only cunning casts in clay:
Let Science prove we are, and then
What matters Science unto men,
At least to me? I would not stay.
Let him, the wiser man who springs
Hereafter, up from childhood shape
His action like the greater ape,
But I was born to other things.

<Alfred Tennyson

Making Spiritualism a religion seems to me ridiculous. What is there in the fact, that there is a sequel to the present life, more essentially religious than there is in the fact of our present existence? Why should we not have a religion for the present life, as well as for the future? Geology, with its revelations of the past, and Chemistry and Astronomy, with their revelations of the present, are as important to us as Spiritualism, with is revelatings of thefuture. Yet no one dreams of making Geology or Astronomy the basis of a form of religion. What manhood is to the boy, spirit-life is to the man; and there is equal danger in the precocious boy, who is a man before his time, and the precocious man, who lives a wholly spiritual existence while on the physical plane. Both are exceptions to the general operations of natural law.

Yet Spiritualism is doing a wonderful work, in renovating and purifying the superstitions of the past; in opening the eyes of the people to the shortcomings of modern theology in its efforts to inform and educate. By Spiritualism, man have been led to see that Christianity as now understood maybe likened to “clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever;” that the fear of hell is based on a falsehood; and that true liberty depends on the enlightenment of the understanding.

Persecution of Spiritualism in Paris

Our latest news from Paris dates May 15, when M. Firman the medium was brought up handcuffed before the Judge for examination, and was remanded without being admitted to bail or allowed to see any one.

M. Leymarie is still in prison. His case also came before the Court on May 14, but we have not yet heard the results. Mr. Gledstanes writes that this is a terrible state of things for these two men, because they are perfectly innocent. The same amount of sympathy is not felt for M. Buguet, as it is alleged that he has confessed to have mixed up imposture with real manifestations.

The clergy in Paris are angry with M. Leymarie for having inserted in the Revue Spirite a clever answer to the pastoral against Spiritualism issued by the Bishop of Toulouse; in fact, the clergy would like to annihilate both him and his journal if they could, and, as they have great influence, the proceedings against M. Leymarie are watched by Parisian spiritualists with some anxiety.

The Roman Catholic Church – Galileo

Sir,—As my name has frequently appeared in your columns, I wish it to be understood that I am not a Spiritualist; it being contrary to the tenets of the Homan Catholic faith to believe in “Spiritualism” commonly so called.

I must acknowledge the genuineness of some phenomena, but cannot attribute them to the spirits of the departed.

Being told by one wiser than myself that the Church has decided that the phenomena are produced by diabolical agency, I must abide by that decision. In the matter of Galileo, mentioned in your last number, as far as my memory serves me, I think you are mistaken. That notorious speculator, as Dr. Whewell has well shown, was condemned and punished for obstinate contumacy, and not for a scientific discovery.

The Inquisition was a tribunal where strict and searching investigation was carried out, and just punishment, when necessary, awarded.

Theresa Mary Carter Blake.

32, Great Ormond-street, Queen’s-square, W.C., Dec. 5th, 1876.

Editor's notes

  1. Spiritualism and its Work by Buddha, Spiritual Scientist, v. 5, No. 6, October 12, 1876, p. 68
  2. Persecution of Spiritualism in Paris by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 12, May 27, 1875, p. 139
  3. The Roman Catholic Church – Galileo by Blake, Theresa Mary Carter, London Spiritualist, No. 224, December 8, 1876, p. 226