Page images
PDF
EPUB

by our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles. The Bible seemed clearly to assert the existence of a Trinity, and of all trinitarian denominations, the Episcopal form was most consonant to my feelings. From all I could see, hear, and read on the subject, it appeared to me to be the nearest to the Apostolic church. I attended the Episcopal church regularly, and constantly hearing a minister, whose eloquence, learning, depth of thought, powers of persuasion, and knowledge of human nature so eminently fitted him for convincing his listeners, I became persuaded that his cause must be the right one. A personal acquaintance with him confirmed me in that belief; his high order of intellect, his sincerity, earnestness, and depth of feeling, commanded my esteem and most respectful admiration. The kindness with which he instructed my mind, and awakened my feelings to holy aspirations, won from me the most heart-felt gratitude; and I shall ever remember him with the kindest feelings, for, I may truly say, he was the first who made me feel the loveliness of religion, and taught me to delight in doing my duty. I afterwards, during a short residence in Philadelphia, became acquainted with two young clergymen of superior intellect, who served to increase my prepossession in favor of the Episcopal church. One of them assured me, that, so long as I wilfully disobeyed any of the commands of God, I was not really a christian. And that as I had not yet become a communicant, that I was living in positive disobedience of a positive command of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all should join His church by partaking of His Holy Supper. He convinced me that I had no more right to refuse to obey that command than any commandment of the decalogue. When I returned to New York I consulted my first spiritual instructor, and he administered the Holy Communion to me on the Christmas of 1838. Thus I became a member of the Episcopal church. And though I remained so for several years, I was never at any time a sectarian: I cared for nothing taught in the church but that which I found authorized in the Bible. Nor did I ever doubt that many who had joined other than the Episcopal church on earth would become members of the christian church in heaven. Though there were some few points of the Episcopal creed to which I did not fully assent, I deemed them

[ocr errors]

unimportant, and I knew of no better or truer doctrines. I had not learnt the existence of the New Jerusalem Church, nor was I even acquainted with the name of Swedenborg. I did that which I thought my duty. I acted conscientiously, according to the light I then had.

But my Episcopal friends ask why I forsook their church, and whether I have acted as conscientiously in joining another church? I answer that conscientiously I could not remain in the old church, having become convinced, that it, like the Jewish church of old, had come to its end; owing to the false doctrines that have imperceptibly crept in. And that, as the Old or First Christian Church superseded the Jewish, so now the New Church, or New Jerusalem, as predicted in the Revelation of St. John, is the true Christian Church, and has superseded the old. An entire conviction of this fact is the reason why I have forsaken the Old and joined the New Church. If this conviction be well founded, I must have acted wisely; if not, I am a heretic, and as some of my friends have told me, I am in need of the prayers of the Church.

But before they decide upon my conduct, the truly charitable will be willing to listen to a brief exposition of our New Church views, and then pronounce whether I have indeed committed a gross error.

CHAPTER II.

Effect produced on the mind by witnessing experiments in_Mesmerism-Conclusions drawn from those experiments-Proof of the existence of a spiritual body and of spiritual sensesOur ignorance of the limits of possibility-First acquaintance with the works of Swedenborg-Investigation of his doctrines -Joining the New Church-Occasion of the slow progress of

this church.

'I Do not remember hearing the science of animal magnetism mentioned until the year 1837. It was then a subject so universally ridiculed, that I considered it one of the humbugs of the age. But when I read Colonel Stone's pamphlet on the subject, his narration seemed to me to bear

The

the stamp of truth; still I was not prepared to believe in anything so new and wonderful, without something like personal experience. In 1839 a connexion, who was a thorough believer, undertook to experiment upon me. sleep was not produced, but a strange and unaccountable influence was exerted over me, and I felt that it was obtained by the power of a concentrated will, for when the mesmeriser's mind was diverted the influence ceased. What I experienced convinced me that there was some mysterious medium of communication that one mind could establish with another.

In 1840 I witnessed a public exhibition of a magnetic somnambulist. Both the mesmerizer and his subject appeared so respectable, honest, and truthful, that I believed what I saw to be genuine. The experiments proved that mind could communicate with mind without the intervention of speech, sound, touch, or any sensible communication. I saw that the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin of the magnetizee, no longer conveyed impressions to her mind, but that she received her impressions through the senses of the magnetizer. And it was evident that she could read his thoughts without any of the usual modes of communication. I came away deeply impressed. When I related what I had seen, I was laughed at for my credulity-but the subject of mesmerism became one of serious reflection to me.

In 1842 I saw a magnetic somnambulist in private, and had an opportunity of suggesting experiments, which were tried upon her. In the midst of them, wholly unexpected by every one in the room, two ladies came in to pay a morning visit. They were dressed in the deepest mourning. The magnetic subject from the position in which she sat could not have seen them, nor been at all aware of their entrance, and yet the instant her magnetiser looked at them, though he said not a word, she exclaimed, "Why has that gloom come over you?" Every body present was struck at the evident communication of mind evinced by this remark. From that time I had an ardent desire to know more of this spiritual science. I read the Rev. C. H. Townshend's Facts in Mesmerism, and J. P. F. Deleuze's Practical Instruction in Animal Magnetism. And finally, to convince myself whether or not this strange power did exist,

B

I commenced operating on my sister, a child of twelve years old, remarkable for truthfulness, and of a character totally unimaginative. I made the usual passes for six or seven days, spending an hour each day, and then succeeded in throwing her into a perfect somnambulic state. There could no longer remain in my mind a vestige of doubt of the truth of magnetism. The usual channels to her senses were certainly closed, and she knew, heard, felt, and tasted through mine, though I said not a word. Was not this a proof that there existed a medium of communication to our spirits, other than that of our own material senses? A number of experiments were tried, all of which were incontestibly successful. Shortly after this I saw (in private,) a somnambulist read with her eyes tightly closed, a passage which I myself selected for her, and which was placed upon her forehead in such a manner that with her eyes open she could not have seen the words.

We all know, that it is not the material eye that sees, but the spirit within, and that the material eye is only the channel through which the spirit has communication with natural things. It was then her spiritual eye which saw without the medium of the natural! Being once convinced of this fact, I was very readily prepared to believe that the spiritual which dwells in the material body, is that to which the senses really belong, and that the material body, while we live in this world, is the channel to those spiritual senses, but at the same time clogs them instead of being indispensably necessary to their existence, and that those spiritual senses when wholly divested of the use of the material body, have much higher power than the natural senses can ever possess.

That, while we are in this world, a spiritual body within us pervades and fills every part of our material body, seems exemplified by the fact, that after a man has his leg amputated, he still, at times, distinctly feels the foot of that very leg. It certainly is not the material foot which he feels-what then can it be but the spiritual foot, which never can be severed from its body?

After having witnessed many of the most satisfactory experiments, I became a believer in animal magnetism; even in that state called clairvoyance. And why should this be considered an evidence of weak credulity in me, when

among the list of believers are to be found the names of men of such eminence as Drs. Wienholt, Olbers, Treviramas, Heinechen, Gmelin, Brandis, Passavant, Kluge, Ennemoser, Quiermaine, Elliotson, Cloquet-Professors Kieser, Eschenmayer, Naise, Marquise de Puyseger, Tardy de Montreval, Deleuze, de Lausaine, Dugald Stewart, Townshend, Kouillier, Chandel, Fillassier, La Place, Cuvier, Hufeland, and General Lafayette?

When I heard well authenticated cases of persons in a still higher state of magnetism, who had their spiritual senses so thoroughly opened, as to communicate with spirits, I could not, like many others, declare that this was impossible. By what superior wisdom are we enabled to decide what is possible and what is impossible? Some will answer that common sense and reason can decide. What is human reason? Is it not another name for our own experience. And whatever is foreign to our experience is commonly said to be unreasonable. Thus, to say, that by the means of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, intelligence can be communicated from Washington to Baltimore in the space of one minute, this must sound unreasonable to such persons as know nothing of electricity or magnetism. Almost all the scientific discoveries, before they were known to be real, seemed unreasonable to such as judged of things by their poor experience, which they called common sense and reason. We daily perceive that there are spiritual and natural mysteries which wholly baffle human reason. If this world and other worlds are the works of an Infinite Mind, how then can our finite minds decide what He has made possible or impossible? Until we know all that He knows, we are incompetent to decide what mysteries are possible and what impossible. For ages, things were believed impossible, which at the present day are no more doubted than the commonest event in life. Before the true Solar System was understood, was it not considered impossible that night and morning were occasioned by the revolving of the earth on its axis? Before Franklin's discoveries was it not considered impossible to draw electricity from the clouds? Before Harvey's time, was not even the circulation of the blood considered impossible? Let us not, then, be so presumptous as to determine that a thing must be impossible because it is incomprehensible to

« PreviousContinue »