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declining, which I need not state. I am here simply as an inquirer: you begin, and I will look on.” The question was asked, “Do you know the Rev. Mr. Reeve ?" The table gave three gentle taps, which means in the table vernacular, “ Yes.” “Do you know the Rev. Mr. Fisk?” The table gave three gentle raps, in precisely the same manner. After asking two or three questions about various persons, present or absent, and receiving similar polite and courteous replies, my friends asked the supposed spirit, “Do you know Dr. Cumming ?” The table positively forgot all the respect due to a lady's drawing-room, and threw itself into a state of convulsive kicking, which made me anxious, not about my creed, but about the table's safety. My friends then asked how many shillings were in my pocket. It guessed eleven, and there were only five. They then asked how many sovereigns I had. It guessed five, and I had only one. It was then asked, “Will you answer Dr. Cumming at all?" The answer, according to their interpretation, was “ No,” in the most decided manner. “Why not?” An alphabet was then laid on the table, and, certainly, the proceeding was very curious. We began: A, the table stood still; B, it gave three taps. That was set down as the first letter of the answer. We then began again: A, the table was silent;' B, still silent. We went on till we came to E, then there were three taps. This was proceeded with till the words were made out, "Because he laughs.”
When I heard this, I submitted that my laughing and incredulity ought to be a reason for convincing me, and not leaving me a sceptic. But the table, or if not the table its manipulator, seemed to dislike me excessively. I confess I saw much that was curious; a great deal ingeniously done; but I have also seen very remarkable things in the feats of tumblers in the streets of London, in the tricks of card-shufflers in a room, and in the conversaziones of ventriloquists in a chimney-nook. But I have seen nothing necessarily supernatural about it; and mark, if there be a doubt that a thing is a miracle, it is no miracle. In the days of our Lord there was no doubt expressed by bitter enemies that what he did was miraculous; the puzzle was, “Is it from the devil below, or is it from God above ?" But table-talking is so equivocal, that the parties present witnessing the so-called miraculous responses, are puzzled to determine whether it be supernatural, or only very clever and talented. Now, in the last days, I look not for equivocal feats and dubious miracles, but for terrible startling manifestations of superhuman power, which shall deceive, if possible, the very elect.
But a word more on this subject. I have read on one side the pamphlets of the Rev. Mr. Close and the Rev. D. Wilson, who have written very ably and admirably; though I do not agree with either as to the grounds of their decision, yet I agree with their conclusions. I have read every pamphlet I could find on the other side, from that
of Mr. Dibdin, one of the best and most pious men in London, to those of Mr. Godfrey, Mr. Gillson, and others who have written in favour of their views; and in reading those various interesting works, I noticed that each inquirer of the table got all his answers very much in the direction of his own wishes and predilections. Let us mark well that fact. For instance: according to the Rev. R. W. Dibdin, demons enter into the table and tell lies, and declare that the worship of the Virgin Mary is right; that is, they are Jesuits, or Popish demons. According to Mr. Godfrey, it is the spirits of departed sinners that emerge from hell and confirm every doctrine of the Bible; that is, Protestant spirits. According to Owen, the infidel and Socialist, Voltaire, and Diderot, and D'Alembert, and Paine, all come down from eternal happiness, and tell him how perfectly happy they are, and have been, and expect to be! According to the Rev. Mr. Gillson, spirits speak against Popery; while, according to Mr. Dibdin, they praise it, as if they had been the priests of Dr. Wiseman. Now, I cannot believe that an evil spirit would speak the truth, or attest the inspiration of the Bible; for if a kingdom be divided against itself, how can it stand ? I cannot, in the next place, believe that an evil spirit would be so stupid a blunderer as to preach the worship of the Virgin Mary to so sound and pious a Protestant as Mr. Dibdin. And I can never believe that godly, pious, and evangelical ministers, are the media by whom devils come from
hell, to tell lies or truths to mankind. Nor can I believe that “ Alfred Brown," the name given by one spirit, could describe his torment, as recorded in the book of Mr. Godfrey; or that any other lost spirit ever can be, or is, suffered to come up to this world and tell the transactions of its awful prison. house, as long as I read the petition of the rich man and the decisive answer that was given him. “I pray thee, father, that thou wouldest send Lazarus unto my father's house, for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. And Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets : if they hear not them, neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” Now mark you, if the Old Testament alone was sufficient eighteen hundred years ago to render unnecessary and impossible an apparition from the dead to attest its truth, the Old and New Testament together are, à fortiori, more than sufficient to render unnecessary, unexpected, impossible, untrue, an apparition of a spirit from the realms of the lost for the same object and mission. I expect supernatural deeds before this dispensation closes ; but table-talking is not such proof of the manifestation of Satan as we are to look for. Besides, Satan has higher game to fly at; he is at present too busy in spreading German Rationalism, Tractarianism, Popery, Mormonism, and various kinds of moral evil, to have any disposable force and time to spare for such bungling manifestation as table-talking. I admit that there is much in it as a physical phenomenon that is curious, much that I cannot explain; but I protest against the conclusion that, because I cannot explain a phenomenon, I am bound to attribute it to supernatural and miraculous agency. The only trace of the serpent's presence, if such it be at all, that I can discover in the matter, is, I confess, to me a very sad one. It is this: that the absurd excitement it has produced should make lunatics in America — that the monstrous thing should be organized into a church, as they call it, in Philadelphia — that a clergyman should advertise a Lecture on the theology of table-talk in the metropolis of the world; and that Christian ministers, of undoubted piety and talent, purity of life, and clearness of mind, should waste their influence and weaken their power, by publishing medieval fancies, monkish nonsense, profane and anile fables.
Signs are predicted in the firmament, and these, too, are also multiplying. Every day's newspaper contains new and striking letters descriptive of astral phenomena, alike unexpected and remarkable. For the last three or four years we have heard of new planets, unexpected comets, brilliant auroras, lunar rainbows, and yet more brilliant and remarkable meteoric appearances. I am not superstitious, but I am not sceptical. I cannot help remembering that “signs and sights in the heavens” are the phenomena of the last days, and precede the appearance of the sign of the Son of Man.