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"MORE LAST WORDS."
While the last sheets of the preceding Chapter were going through the Press Mr. Dods' Book, "Spirit Manifestations Examined and Explained," was put into my hands.
Perhaps the explanation may be found in the direction in which he is looking for it. The theory by which he asserts that "the manifestations" are explainable-for it is no more than a theory-is certainly not less credible than that of spirit-agency. It is, however, little more than apocatastatical of similar attempts of the ancients to explain the same things.Compare what is said on pp. 81-3-4 of Mr. Dods' work with pp. 102-3-4 of the present volume, and page 101, with page 106, also page 185, with page 103. The theories are not perhaps identical—the difference is mostly verbal-but they are about equally explanatory of the facts; yet none of them reach all the alledged phenomena. I would that, for the sake of those who are following the lead of the spirits, "in wandering mazes lost," the explanation had been such as could not be evaded by those unwilling to accept any explanation but their own. These are the willing, and many of them wilful seducers, without whom few would long continue in a
path which was found to conduct no whither, except to a "fools' paradise."
My own plan, as the reader is aware, did not contemplate any investigation of the causes of the phenomena. My purpose was rather to examine the lofty claims of the development to entitle itself "The New Dispensation," "The New Era," "Progress" &c; and its arrogant and impious pretensions to take precedence of Christianity.
It may be thought by some that I have made use of language too severe and harsh towards men who, in my opinion, are merely in error, and have only adopted an incorrect theory.
The severity, if such there be, was not intended for mere investigators of the subject, or for those who are puzzled by the phenomena, and know not what to think, or think wrong; or for honest mediums, or honest believers in them,-except that I do not understand how an honest christian can be either a medium for necromancy, or a believer in its responses,—such it has been my main purpose to aid, in all love and sincere good-will, in forming correct opinions on so important a subject, wherein it is important, that is, in regard to its moral phenomena. But if any man can read what I have read of the language of the leaders of the movement, both men and spirits" Spiritualism" included, notwithstanding what Mr. Dods says of its handsome treatment of Christianity-in regard to God, and man, and the Christian religion, without the feeling of an "honest indignation" which would scorn to express itself as if it found very little to disapprove-truly, such a man is a much better, or a much worse Christian than I am. And tho' an honest man might be in doubt, on looking over the whole shallow blasphemy, whether it were proper to think worse of the head or of the heart of its authors, certainly he could not think much better of the heart than of the head.
Setting aside the religious pretensions of spiritism, it is of no more importance than the feats of Herr Alexander; yet it 26
is probable that nothing less than the most palpable showing of how each phenomenon of whatever kind has been, and can be, at pleasure, produced, without the agency of spirits, will now silence its claims in that respect among those to whom its doctrines are welcome, and who would gladly appeal to whatever authority may seem to confirm them. And even should full demonstration of the falsehood of the spirit-theory be arrived at, will not the New Dispensation still trust in its clairvoyant seers, and put faith in cataleptic visions, and appeal to its mesmerically evolved divine instincts and intuitions? Though it rejoices in the patronage of the spirits, would it not, without them, and dropping its physical manifestations, still "fit audience find," and that not "few?"
Since, then, its moral phenomena, its religious pretensions, are neither more nor less reliable, whether they are, or are not accredited by spirits, what remains but that its doctrines be judged on their own merits, wholly irrespective of their origin, and unprotected by the sophism of their source whether real or pretended; and that men accept or reject them according to their moral affinities, under responsibility to God, and to their own spiritual well-being. So shall it take its place among other infidelities, nibbling at the heel of Christianity, like its thousand and one equally boastful predecessors and allies to be crushed in its turn.