Seducing Spirits: Spiritism vs. Scripture
I presume most of you have observed that there has been a very real revival in Spiritism during these last few years. The Great War through which the world has recently passed made this possible. This is especially true in England where there is hardly one home without its empty chair and where hearts long for fellowship with loved ones who have passed within the veil.
In his book, “Raymond,” which he named after his son slain in battle, Sir Oliver Lodge records the words of his wife, which he found written on a sheet of paper:
“Raymond, darling, you have gone from our world, and Oh, to ease the pain, I want to know if you are happy, and that you, yourself, are really talking to me and no sham.”
It is the condition of heart and mind indicated by the words written on that piece of paper that makes the séance possible. I say “that condition of mind” because no one instructed in the Word of God, or led by the Holy Spirit, would ever express themselves in this manner. God has not left His people in darkness concerning their beloved dead. “I would not have you ignorant concerning them which are asleep,” says the Apostle Paul, and then, by direct revelation from the Lord Himself, he gives us the plainest possible truth regarding them, and our reunion with them beyond the veil. I would suggest that you read carefully 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:22–26, 51–57; 2 Corinthians 5:1–8.
Not Good Spirits
There was a time when the claims of the Spiritualist were rejected on the grounds of fraud and trickery, and undoubtedly there is, in connection with this cult, a great amount of trickery and deception. The Spiritualists themselves readily admit this, but the time has passed for answering their arguments with ridicule and jokes. Anyone who thus tries to meet their arguments shows ignorance of the gravity of this great subject and of prevailing conditions.
Among the notable adherents of Spiritualism are such men as the late Wm. T. Stead, Sir Wm. Crooks, Sir Oliver Lodge, and [Arthur] Conan Doyle. These men have stood in the very front rank of their professions, and they are held in the very highest esteem by thinking men all over the world. They are not the kind who would be very easily deceived. I am making these concessions because I want to be absolutely fair in discussing the subject. I would also say that I believe there are many mediums who are beyond all suspicion of intentional trickery and fraud—mediums that are in this business not for gain, nor with a desire to deceive, and undoubtedly many of them have marveled at the communications which they have received form the “Spirit World.”
Then you will ask me, “What are we to say about Spiritualism?” “What is there in it?” “Are we to concede the claims that they make, and is it possible for us to communicate with our beloved dead, who have passed beyond the veil?”
“Are we to concede that?” If so, we must say, with Mr. Doyle, that “Spiritualism is the biggest thing in the world.”
I say, if it is possible to communicate with our beloved dead who have gone into the other world, then we must admit Spiritualism is the biggest thing in the world; but, if, on the other hand, it is possible to show that the reality of Spiritualism is not the reality of good spirits, but of evil spirits, and if we can show that the fruit of Spiritualism is evil and not good, and the results are fatal, and if we can show that it is under the ban of the Scriptures and has the terrible anathema of the Almighty God upon it, then, beloved people, we had better take care lest we find ourselves in that company of which Paul speaks when he says, “In the last days some shall be parted from the Faith; giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.”
That is a solemn word, beloved friends, and I say we want to be on our guard lest we find ourselves in that particular company. Mr. Doyle states that we must admit “Spiritualism is a revelation from a divine source, or acknowledge that there has been an outbreak of lunacy extending over two generations and affecting two continents, and which attacks men and women otherwise eminently sane.” That is a big statement to make, but Mr. Doyle has omitted another very essential alternative and that is, it may be, that these “eminently wise and sane people” are decided as to the source of the revelation which comes to them. It may be that the revelation is supernatural, but not divine.
It May Be Devilish
Now, if there is no such thing as a seducing spirit, if there is no such thing as a doctrine of demons, then why should the Apostle Paul warn us to beware of these? On the other hand, if there is such a thing as a seducing spirit, if there is such a thing as a doctrine of demons, then might it not be that that supernatural manifestation which Mr. Doyle thinks is divine comes from another source altogether? Do you see what I mean? If he reads his Bible, and if he believes what the Bible says, then he must know that there is one who is called the “ruler of this world’s darkness,” “the prince of the power of the air,” the leader of the spirits that now work in the children of disobedience, and that he has, in all ages past, succeeded in deceiving men who have been “eminently sane.” In fact, some of the wisest men that ever lived in the flesh have been deceived by Him.
Campaign of Deception
He would also know, if he reads his Bible and believes it, that one of the characteristics of the closing hours of this age, is to be that “the prince of the power of the air” is going to concentrate all his infernal energy and power in one great campaign of deception, and so great is his success to be that, if it were possible, he would “deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:23–24).
We are not denying spirit manifestations. The time has come when we have got to face the fact that these things are realities. The Bible teaches that they are realities; realities, not of good spirits, but of evil impersonating spirits.
One of the very first principles of receiving a communication from the spirit world in the séance of the medium is that we must give up ourselves, mind and will, to the spirit control. A writer on this subject in the “Nineteenth Century Magazine,” says: “It seems to demand a surrender of the whole personality. There can be no half measures in either case—no taking half shares. A man can review Christianity from without as a critic; but there comes a point at which, if he is honest and logical, he must either give himself to God and accept the Lord Jesus as his Master and Friend, in which case his life will henceforth be dominated by his religion, or he must reject the claims of Christ once for all.
“The same thing applied to Spiritualism. Once begin, so to speak, and you cannot tell where you will end. And herein chiefly lies its surest and most real peril. It is admitted by Spiritualists themselves that if you rend the thin veil which separates this world from the next, you have no guarantee whatever as to the character of the personalities which may avail themselves of that rent. You are running an awful risk.”
That is the word, “AN AWFUL RISK,” and for fear I may omit it I would say to anybody who may be tempted to investigate this phenomenon—conclude first of all whether you can follow that trail without departing from the faith of your fathers and from the Holy Scriptures and from God Almighty Himself.
Now, I have two propositions. The first is, Can a man be a Christian and a Spiritualist at the same time? The second is, Can the dead preach the Gospel?
First, can a man be a Christian and a Spiritualist at the same time? The late Dr. Talmadge once said, speaking of this, “You cannot hold the Bible in one hand and Spiritualism in the other.”
I am prepared to say if you are honest and will take the Bible as your guide and believe it, you will have to conclude that the Bible is against Spiritualism, and if you accept the statements made by the medium you will have to conclude another thing, i.e., Spiritualism is against the Bible.
There is no compromise here. One is diametrically opposed to the other. For instance, they [the Spiritualists] say that Lorenzo Dow, the great Methodist evangelistic preacher, that mighty man of God who did such wonderful work for the Master, says, “All Christians are idolaters and Christianity is a farce.” They tell us that John Bunyan, the writer of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” is now living in exactly the same place as Tom Paine, the notorious infidel. They say that John Wesley, founder of the great Methodist Church, testifies from the spirit world that he has renounced everything that he ever lived for here. They deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, and say that He was only “a medium of a high order,” and that He is now in the sixth sphere. They take the word “mediator” between God and man and make it read “medium” between God and man. They tell you that the Holy Ghost is not a person. They deny these things that are fundamental and essential to the Christian faith, and without which no man or woman could possibly be a Christian at all. That is why I say that Spiritism is against the Bible and the Bible against Spiritualism.
Try the Spirits
The Apostle John tells us that we should not believe every spirit. This suggests that different kinds of spirits will seek admission. You should not believe every spirit, but try them, whether they be of God. But how should we try the spirit? By going into a dark room and submitting ourselves to the control of some other person’s mind? Is that the way to try the spirit? No, beloved friends. “If they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no light in them.” That is the way to try the spirits and their teachings.
Let me refer you to some passages of Scripture from different parts of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments:
1 Timothy 4:1–3;
Leviticus 19:31 and 20:6–7;
1 Samuel 28:5–7;
1 Chronicles 10:13–14;
2 Chronicles 33:1–6;
I have quoted both the Old and New Testaments on this subject, and I want to make the statement again that the Scriptures are diametrically opposed to “spiritualism.”
In the 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells us that in the last days:
“There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
“Behold, I have told you before.
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth; Behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not” (Matthew 24:24–26).
Matthew 7:15–16: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
Fruits of Spiritualism
Now, that is a fair test, and I want to ask you what are the fruits of spiritualism, mentally and morally? We will leave the spiritual question alone for the present. What is the effect upon home life?
Dr. Winslow, the Oxford lecturer on mental diseases, says, “The prevalence of madness owing to spiritualism is on the increase.”
Sir Wm. Crooks himself says, “After witnessing the painful state of nervous and bodily prostration in which many of the experiments have left the medium fainting, pale, breathless, I cannot doubt but that the violence of psychic forces means a corresponding drain on the vital forces.”
Professor Harris says, “The most remarkable case of mediumship I have met with was that of a lady who commenced with a little seemingly innocent table turning at a children’s party, and finished up by death in a madhouse.”
As I said a while ago, it has taken from this world some of the wisest intellects. It has swept into mental midnight some of the greatest men of the day—senators, judges, doctors, lawyers, and even ministers of the Gospel.
A father, writing of his daughter, now insane, says, “She became interested in spirit communication through a Ouija board that was brought into the house just for a little bit of amusement.” Another testifies that “during seven years of investigation I have learned of one hundred and fifty cases where minds have been ruined by this thing.”
I want to give you a personal experience that I have had with this thing myself. A few years ago my wife and myself went to visit at a home in western Ontario, where we had been entertained many times before. We were talking during the afternoon with our hostess and she told us that her brother was coming that night to have a little séance in the home, and I got terribly frightened.
A woman came to me once in Hamilton and offered me a complimentary ticket to some great demonstration that they were going to have.
I said I couldn’t go there.
She asked, “Why not?”
I answered, “I am afraid.”
She said, “You are afraid?”
I replied, “Yes, sister, I am a very weak man and I need the grace of God to keep me.”
“Don’t you think,” she said, “He will keep you there?”
I answered, “I have no promise in the Bible that the grace of God will keep me in the devil’s territory.”
And so I got frightened when this woman told me they were going to have a séance.
Her brother was an Anglican clergyman at that very hour. He had been there several times before and she showed me a communication they had received at the last séance. It was on a piece of paper. Now, I do not want to say it to amuse you, friends, but I confess to you, it was about the poorest bit of writing that I ever saw in my life. It looked to me almost as if a hen with frozen feet had stepped on a piece of paper. It seemed to me so terribly sad in the face of what God has said in His Word.
Well, her brother came in shortly and we got to talking about the inspiration of the Bible and Deity of Christ, which he denied. Then he brought up something about Robert Ingersoll, and said he believed Mr. Ingersoll was perfectly correct in his teaching.
“Well,” I said, “I must say I have profound respect for Robert Ingersoll because he was an infidel out of the church and he never took his bread and butter from the church, but I have profound contempt for a man that will get into a pulpit of a Christian church and take his bread and butter from a Christian people when he is an infidel at heart.”
And our visit ended right there. We had to leave before the séance came on. We went out, and I was very sad, for they had been very dear friends to me and mine. But I want to tell you, those séances continued in that house and inside of about six weeks that woman, the sister of that minister, became a raving maniac and was taken to the insane asylum where she died a most horrible death, continuously blaspheming the name of Jesus Christ. Her husband’s mind also gave way and he was taken to another asylum and remained there until, one day, he acknowledged his sin to God and wrote to a number of his old friends asking if they would pray that God would deliver him out of the clutches of the enemy, which they did.
We might repeat many other instances that we know of right along this line.
“By their fruits you shall know them.” That is how this thing must be judged as not being of God. Dr. Potter, in “Fancies and Fallacies of Spiritualism,” says, “I have known sixty cases of mediums that have left their husbands to live with other men who they claimed were their affinities.”
A remarkable thing is the spiritualists teach that everybody has an affinity, but you seldom ever read of the affinity being the man or woman they are married to at that time. It is always some other man or woman.
Dr. P. Randall, a spiritualist lecturer, finally withdrew from the ranks of spiritualism and denounced the whole system, and among other things he says,
“For seven years I held daily intercourse with what was purported to be my blessed mother, but I am now clearly persuaded that it was nothing in the world but an evil spirit—a demon, who, in that guise, gained my soul’s confidence and led me to the very brink of ruin. Five of my own personal friends have destroyed themselves as a result of spirit control. Every crime in the calendar has been committed by credulous people that have been moved by these evil spirits.” By their fruits ye shall know them.
We might say many other things along this line, but I want to make this remark:
It Attacks the Home
Any system, I don’t care whether it is Spiritualism or Christianity—if you call it by that name—any system that undermines that sacred institution we call home is not of God. Any system that attacks the sanctity of the marriage vow is an enemy of the State and ought to be thus judged. Spiritism does those two things.
Just a word or two on the other point—Can the dead preach the Gospel?
That is what they claim. We will read a few portions of Scripture and let you judge for yourselves.
In the 16th chapter of Luke we have what is commonly termed the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. You know the story. The rich man fared sumptuously every day, was clothed in purple and fine linen; the poor man had to beg for bread, and it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried, and, in Hell, lifted up his eyes and cried that he was in torment.
Let me say, friends, I am making no apology for this picture for it was painted by Jesus Christ Himself. The rich man lifted up his eyes and cried to Father Abraham, into whose bosom Lazarus had been taken (which is a Jewish conception of paradise), and he said, “Abraham, I am in torment in this flame; send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my parched tongue.”
Abraham told him that that was impossible. He said, “In your lifetime you had your good things and Lazarus his evil things, and now you are tormented and Lazarus is comforted, and besides this there is a great gulf fixed so that they cannot either pass to you nor can you pass over to them.”
That is the word of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then notice what he says:
“I pray you therefore that thou wouldst send him to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify to them lest they also come into this place of torment.” Abraham said unto him, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” He said, “No, Father Abraham, but if one went to them from the dead they will repent.” Notice this friends. And He said unto him, “If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
Now, friends, what are the simple deductions here?
In the first place they were not permitted to go from that place to preach the Gospel. Lazarus was not permitted to go and cool his lips, nor was Lazarus permitted to go back and preach the Gospel to these five brethren. It is a remarkable thing. If the claims of the spiritualists are true, why didn’t Dives [the rich man] go himself? Because he couldn’t go. The gates into Hades open inward, but never outward. Let us remember that, beloved friends. He could not go.
But listen! Christ said if they did go, if one went from the dead, it would do no good. Why not? If they would not believe God Himself, will they believe anyone else, even one rising from the dead? Let us remember, beloved friends, God has given us sufficient evidence of the other world, and has told us what we must do if we are to live in that place called Paradise.
Neither angel nor demon from the other world can bring us any further revelation of God’s love. We have had the fullest possible revelation of God’s plan of salvation, and if anyone came from the dead we would not believe them. You know that is true.
Does Spiritualism Convert Sinners?
Has Spiritualism brought about the conversion of sinners? Does it result in bringing sinners from the slums and highways and byways into the Church of the Living God? I trow not.
Another passage in connection with this which is a near answer to Dives’ prayer. Here you have one example of a man coming from the dead to speak to another. I read this in concluding what I have to say tonight. You know Samuel was dead. Saul was in distress, and here is what he said: “Seek me out a woman that has a familiar spirit,” and they went to the witch of En-dor. They found this woman, and you remember how frightened she was when she found out it was King Saul, but he allayed her fears by promising that nothing would happen to her. Then she called upon Samuel. “Samuel said unto Saul, why has thou disquieted me to bring me up?” And Saul answered, “I am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams; therefore I have called thee.”
That is what makes the séance possible—God answereth me no more; He has departed from me. The séance is born of an awful silence—“the silence not of the midnight, the silence not of the sea, the silence that comes from unrepented sin, from refusing to obey Almighty God;” not that God cannot hear, but God will not hear (1 Samuel 28:15–17).
In other words, Samuel could not tell him anything only what he had told him before he went into the other world. Then you know what happened.
First Samuel 28:20. “Then Saul fell straightway all along the earth, and was sore afraid because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no bread all the day, nor all the night.”
If any man under heaven would have helped Saul, it would have been Samuel. Saul never had a friend like Samuel, but he could not help him. He could not say one thing beyond what God had said when He was alive in the flesh. And, friends, we have nothing beyond the written oracles of God.
And Saul, instead of being comforted, was sore distressed, and the next day he died the death of a suicide.
Let me read you one more passage from 1 Chronicles 10. “So Saul dies for his transgression, which he committed against the Lord, even against the Word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it.
“And enquired not of the Lord; therefore he slew him, and turned the Kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.”
Why did the Lord slay him? Because he enquired of one that had a familiar spirit. Oh, friends, I am giving you tonight as fairly and honestly as I can, the Word of the living God. MAY GOD HELP US!
If any of you have taken in this thing, I pray you, in the name of Christ, that you seek tonight, before the Throne of Grace, the help of the Holy Spirit to deliver you from that thralldom that no power on Earth can break. God alone can save you and deliver you from the power of the enemy. May the Lord help you!