The following constituted the introduction to Mr. Massey's lecture on "The
Natural origin of Spirits—Elemental, Celestial and Human," at St. George's
Hall, on Sunday last:—
A. R. Wallace (1823-1913)
I am not about to make any personal attack an our friend
Alfred Russel Wallace, who is a good and true Spiritualist; but, in a
lecture recently delivered, he has been assuring the world that
"Spiritualism alone can reconcile the Bible with an intelligent
belief:" that "the three men unhurt in the fiery furnace are to
Spiritualists actual facts which they need not explain away:" that "when
Christ cast out evil spirits, turned the water into wine or renewed the
bread and, fishes so that 5,000 were fed, we can believe that these I
things did really occur as extreme manifestations of the same power as
that which is daily at work among us." The "Miracles imputed to the
Saints come into the same category"; so says Alfred Russel Wallace.
Now, I cannot imagine any position more unscientific, any
argument more false, any advocacy more fatal to the object we have at
heart. That one of our foremost Men of Science should set up
Miracles once more in the name of Modern Spiritualism; that he should
vouch for Spiritualism converting the Biblical Miracles into scientific
facts, is nothing short of a catastrophe for our Cause!
It would be a serious error for any man of science even to
use the language of ignorance concerning miracles, which the vulgar sense
imply a supernatural interference with natural law. But Mr. Wallace
does more than that, in vouching for the biblical miracles being actual
facts. By taking this course the co-contributor with Darwin in
establishing the magnificent generalization of Evolution, is unwittingly
undoing with one hand all that he has done with the other. He is
helping to rehabilitate the exploded or discredited beliefs of the past by
means of that which must consequently be held to be a kindred superstition
of the present. This is to set wide the floodgates of ancient and
modern superstition without even taking the precaution of putting up a net
to catch anything by it! It is just as fatal to include the Bible
miracles among the evidences of Spiritualistic phenomena as it would be to
vouch for the genuineness of all the impostures in materialization or the
tricks in conjuring.
Mr. Wallace once admitted to me that he could take no
interest in Mythology. That is a common position on the part of
those who little dream how great is the need of taking an interest in that
which has been so fruitful a source of utterly confounding falsification.
Why, literalization of Mythology has been the cause of half the
intellectual errors extant. It will be still more fatal to class and
claim as Spiritual that which was never anything more than a symbolical
mode of representation. For example, there is a picture in the Roman
Catacombs that shows the non-historic, non-Spiritual nature of those men
in the fiery furnace.
The four living creatures with the faces of a man, an ox, a
lion, and an eagle, which were seen by Ezekiel when the "heavens opened"
and he had "visions of God," belong to the mythological astronomy, as
imaged in various lands, and are the well-known types of the four corners
in all the representations. It was no more necessary to enter the
trance condition to see them than it would be to see the Great Bear
in heaven to-night.
The ascent of Elijah in a chariot of fire is no more a
spiritual transaction than it was historical. Another representation
in the Roman Catacombs shows the Greek Mercury in the same picture, where
Elijah is just as mythical as Mercury.
The miracle of the loaves and fishes is an identifiable
Egyptian myth, in common with a dozen others reproduced as Gospel history.
Spiritualism is not going to warrant the belief that the Fall
of man was a fact, and evolution is a lie; or that a serpent talked before
it knew how to crawl in the dust; or that Samson was a spiritual medium,
powerfully possessed; or that a flood was universal which stood fifteen
cubits higher than the mountain-tops.
The sun and moon never did stand still in heaven (or the
earth in its rotation) in any time past, though all the tables in the
world should take to turning in the present. As Mythology, the story
can be understood. It had its origin in natural phenomena. The
great battle between the forces of Light and Darkness was fought at the
Autumn Equinox. What we call the "harvest-moon" rises at the same
time, and nearly of the same size, for three or four nights together, and
so may be said to "stand still" until the fight was finished.
Adam and Moses only talked with the gods, Elohim. and Jah,
because they were not men, but characters, as entirely mythical as were
the gods who talked with them.
Literalized Mythology has its Miracles; Spiritualism
has only its Facts. We have now the means of comparing and
distinguishing the one from the other.
Eglinton's slate-writing is a fact, but it lends no
likelihood to the statement that the various conflicts between Jesus and a
personal Devil took place at the highest points of elevation that could be
found in the world. And when we learn that Eglinton sat for three
years without getting more than a scratch on the slate, it becomes obvious
that we are in presence of a process in the laboratory of nature, as
purely evolutionary and scientific as anything in chemistry. It
gives us such a glimpse of difficulty in attainment, no room is left even
for the word "Miracle," and we have no shadow of right to fling away the
result by classing the hard-earned accomplishment with the cheap and easy
miracles of Mythology. For a Spiritualist to do this is to commit
The miracles are supernatural and anti-natural, because they
were not human; whereas our facts are and must be a part of nature now as
they were in times past; or else they are not facts at all. The
miracles only happened "once upon a time”; the facts are continually
repeated, and therefore are scientifically true! We have more than
enough to do in our fight for that which is possible in the
present, to allow of Spiritualism being made responsible for all that was
impossible in the past.
It was as a Spiritualist that I made it the work of my
life to try for a true explanation of Mythology, so as to prevent our
rushing into this false position, which has been occupied by some of the
early Spiritualists; my object being to restate the ancient facts in their
right relationships, and make way for the new, by explaining the fictions
on purpose to explode the falsehoods.
The miracles of misinterpreted Mythology are not to be
actualized by Modern Spiritualism; they must be explained by
Mythology itself; and when explained, they are true to neither the one
nor the other, but as miracles are repudiated by both. They are the
very worst enemies of their own cause who ignorantly try to convert the
mythical miracles into spiritual phenomena, or who vouch for the fact of
their being identical. For instance, I find some of our writers
declaring that it has been left for us to gather from the phenomena of
Modern Spiritualism the precise nature of the resurrection of Jesus!
What, then, do our dead come back in the same body from the grave?
Is the tomb tenantless when the ghost walks? Do the departed ascend
to heaven visibly from a mountain-top in the same body that is missing
from the mausoleum? Does Spiritualism teach that the first
resurrection occurred 1800 years ago; or that it was corporeal; and that
all the other dead have to rest in their graves until the corporeal Christ
shall come again in the clouds of heaven, at the end of the world?
This is foolishly trying to re-vitalize a dying belief with a transfusion
of new life, drawn from facts which are verifiable: a belief that cannot
be vitalized, not if you were to bleed Spiritualism to death in the effort
to give it a little new life!
So far from the Christian cult being identical with
Modern Spiritualism, it was and ever has been, as it continues to be,
totally and fundamentally opposed to the phenomena now called
Spiritualistic. It was the pre-Christian, the GNOSTIC,
religion that based immortality or continuity of existence upon the
evidence of abnormal phenomena and clairvoyant vision. Historic
Christianity was built upon the tomb of the Ancient Spiritualism, which it
succeeded in burying alive. The resurrection of its Christ was
emphatically physical; and you cannot demonstrate a spiritual continuity
by means of a bodily resurrection.
The risen Christ of the Gospels expressly shows that he is
not a spirit; but that he has returned in the old physical body—blood,
bones, and all. Now the physical resurrection on which the churches
have rested their hope of immortality for 1800 years, never has been a
verifiable fact in human experience! That is the TRUE
testimony and teaching of Spiritualism. Nor can you rehabilitate the
fading belief by calling it "Spiritual"—because that would annihilate the
history! Christian revelation has no light on this subject, just
because the resurrection was Mythical and not Spiritual.
No matter how the Christian Spiritualist may want to, and try
to, read his interpretations into the plain facts of the case as recorded,
his facts are not there. They were not intended to be there.
The Historical Christians could not see them there. The Latter-day
Christians do not find them there. And it is not for the
Spiritualist to smuggle them in on purpose to prove them there.
Let every tub stand on its own bottom.