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    THE PROGRESS OF SPIRITUALISM

    during the fifty years of its modern history. It began in a way to excite the wonder and curiosity of the people, the very elements that would give wings to its progress through the land. Men suddenly found their thoughts careering through new channels. An unseen world seemed to make known its presence and invite investigation. As the phenomena claimed to be due to the direct agency of spirits, the movement naturally assumed the name of “Spiritualism.” It was then hailed by multitudes as a new and living teacher, come to clear up uncertainties and to dispel doubts from the minds of men. At last an irrepressible curiosity was everywhere excited to know what the new “ism” would teach concerning that invisible world, which it professed to have come to open to the knowledge of mankind. Everywhere men sought by what means they could come into communication with the spirit realm. Into whatever place the news entered, circles were formed, and the number of converts outstripped the pen of the enroller. It gathered adherents from every walk of life - from the higher classes as well as the lower; the educated, cultured, and refined, as well as the uncultivated and ignorant; from ministers, lawyers, physicians, judges, teachers, government officials, and all the professions. But the individuals thus interested, being of too diverse and independent views to agree upon any permanent basis for organization, the data for numerical statistics are difficult to procure. Various estimates, however, of their members have been formed. As long ago as 1876, computations of the number of Spiritualists in the United States ranged from 3,000,000 by Hepworth Dixon, to 10,000,000 by the Roman Catholic council at Baltimore. Only five years from the time the first convert to Modern Spiritualism appeared, Judge Edmonds, himself an enthusiastic convert, said of their numbers:-MOSP 27.1

    “Besides the undistinguished multitudes, there are many now of high standing and talent ranked among them, - doctors, lawyers, and clergymen in great numbers, a Protestant bishop, the learned and reverend president of a college, judges of our higher courts, members of Congress, foreign ambassadors, and ex-members of the United States Senate.”MOSP 28.1

    Up to the present time, it is not probable that the number of Spiritualists has been much reduced by apostasies from the faith, if such it may be called; while the movement itself has been growing more prominent and becoming more widely known every year. The conclusion would therefore inevitably follow that its adherents must now be more numerous than ever before. A letter addressed by the writer to the publishers of the Philosophical Journal, Chicago, on this point, received the following reply, dated Dec. 24, 1895:-MOSP 28.2

    “Being unorganized, largely, no reliable figures can be given. Many thousands are in the churches, and are counted there. It is claimed that there are about five million in the United States, and over fifty million in the world.”MOSP 29.1

    The Christian at Work of Aug. 17, 1876, under the head of “Witches and Fools,” said:-MOSP 29.2

    But we do not know how many judges, bankers, merchants, prominent men in nearly every occupation in life, there are, who make it a constant practice to visit clairvoyants, sight-seers, and so called Spiritual mediums; yet it can scarcely be doubted that their name is legion; that not only the unreligious man, but professing Christians, men and women, are in the habit of consulting spirits from the vasty deep for information concerning both the dead and the living. Many who pass for intelligent people, who would be shocked to have their Christianity called in question, are constantly engaged in this disreputable business.”MOSP 29.3

    The following appeared some years ago, in the San Francisco Chronicle:-MOSP 29.4

    “Until quite recently, science has coldly ignored the alleged phenomena of Spiritualism, and treated Andrew Jackson Davis, Home, and the Davenport brothers, as if they belonged to the common fraternity of showmen and mountebanks. But now there has come a most noteworthy change. We learn from such high authority as the Fortnightly Review that Alfred R. Wallace, F.R.S. William Crookes, F.R.S., and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Science; W.H. Harrison, F.R.S. and president of the British Ethnological Society, with others occupying a high position in the scientific and literary world, have been seriously investigating the phenomena of spiritism. The report which those learned gentlemen make is simply astounding. There is no fairy tale, no story of myth or miracle, that is more incredible than their narrative. They tell us in grave and sober speech that the spirit of a girl who died a hundred years ago, appeared to them in visible form. She talked with them, gave them locks of her hair, pieces of her dress, and her autograph. They saw her in bodily presence, felt her person, heard her voice; she entered the room in which they were, and disappeared without the opening of a door. The savants declare that they have had numerous interviews with her under condition forbidding the idea of trickery or imposture.MOSP 29.5

    “Now that men eminent in the scientific world have taken up the investigation, Spiritualism has entered upon a new phase. It can no longer be treated with silent contempt. Mr. Wallace’s articles in the Fortnightly have attracted general attention, and many of the leading English reviews and newspapers are discussing the matter. The New York World devotes three columns of its space to a summary of the last article in the Fortnightly, and declares editorially that the ‘phenomena’ thus attested ‘deserve the rigid scientific examination which Mr. Wallace invites for them.’ This is treating the matter in the right way. Let all the well-attested facts be collected, and then let us see what conclusions they justify. If spirit communication is a fact, it is certainly a most interesting one. In the language which the World attributes to John Bright, ‘If it is a fact of human existence sinks into insignificance.’”MOSP 30.1

    One of the reasons why it would be quite impossible to state the number of real spiritualists in our land to-day has already been hinted at in a foregoing extract. It is that “many thousands,” and we think the number might in all probability be raised to millions, who are in reality Spiritualists, do not go by that name. They are in the various churches, and are counted there. Yet they believe the phenomena of Spiritualism, accept its teaching in their own minds, and quietly and constantly, as the Christian at Work avers, consult clairvoyants and mediums, in quest of knowledge. The grosser features of the teachings of Spiritualism which were painfully prominent in its earlier stages, which there is no reason to believe are discountenanced or abandoned either in theory or practice, are relegated to an invisible background, while in its outward aspect it now poses in the attitude of piety and the garb of religion. It even professes to adopt some of the more prominent and popular doctrines of Christianity. In this phase the average churchgoer can not see why he may not accept all that Spiritualism has to give, and still retain his denominational relationship. Besides this, the coming to light, every now and then, of the fact that some person of national or world-wide fame is a Spiritualist, adds popularity and gives a new impetus to the movement. Such instances may be named as the founder of the Leland Stanford University, of California, the widow of ex-Vice-President Hendricks, of Indiana, who, it is said, is carrying on some very successful financial transactions by direction from the spirit world, and Mr. W.T. Stead, London editor of the Review of Reviews, who, in 1893 started a new quarterly, called The Border Land, to be devoted to the advocacy of the philosophy of Spiritualism, which he had then but recently espoused. In other countries it has invaded the ranks of the nobility and even seated itself on the thrones of monarchs. The late royal houses of France, Spain, and Russia, are said, by current rumor, to have sought to the spirits for knowledge. No cause could covet more rapid and wide-spread success than this has enjoyed.MOSP 30.2

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