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Mesmerism, clairvoyance, divination, and magic were also known to the Egyptians, and formed a considerable part of the mysteries of their Religion.
Of the truth of the prophecies and responses of the Oracles of Greece and the Roman Sybils, the testimony of the Historians is unanimous; the only question was how to account for them. Thus Rollin says, "admitting it to be true some oracles have been followed precisely by the events foretold, we may believe that God, to prevent the blind and sacrilegeous credulity of pagans, has sometimes admitted demons to have knowledge of things to come, and to foretel them distinctly enough. Which conduct of God, though very much above human comprehension, is frequently attested in the Holy Scripture.” Dr. Rogers accounts for the oracles as the result of " local mundane emanations," acting upon the nervous system of the Pythia, and developing to a wonderful degree the pre-sension, or divining power of the brain, standing, as he affirms it did, in a general relation to all matter. He holds that the controlling action of mind being suspended, her brain became entirely subject to a specific mundane influence, which being reflected back upon the outer world, was called the oracle of the gods, -as in the modern medium it is called “communications from the invisible spirit world.” * And Dr. Rogers has probably made a very good guess.
Plato and Pythagoras believed in a " Luciform ætherial vehicle," and Plato says man does not participate in the divinely-inspired and true prophecy as a reasoning being, but alone when he is either deprived, during sleep, or through sickness, of the exercise of reason, or when by some inspiration, he cannot command himself.”
* The Two Worlds, p. 26.
MANIFESTATIONS AMONG THE NEO-PLATONISTS.
But it was at Alexandria, among the Neo-Platonists as they were called, that we had the fullest development of these phenomena. “We have here," says the Rev. Charles Kingsley, in his Exposition of the Alexandrian Philosophy, “the very phenomena which are puzzling us so now-a-days. They are all there, these modern puzzles, in those old books of the long bygone seekers for wisdom.” The Neo-Platonists taught that the soul may in ecstacy attain to divine visions, see beyond the present, and predict the future. Plotinus, generally regarded as the founder of that school, says:6 You ask, how can we know the Infinite ? I answer, not by reason. It is the office of reason to distinguish and define. The Infinite, therefore, cannot be ranked among its objects. You can only apprehend the Infinite by a faculty superior to reason, by entering into a state in which you are your finite self no longer, in which the Divine Essence is communicated to you. This is ecstacy. But this sublime condition is not of permanent duration. It is only now and then that we can enjoy this elevation (mercifully made possible for us) above the limits of the body and the world. I myself have realised it but three times as yet, and Porphyry hitherto not once. All that tends to purify and elevate the mind will assist you in this attainment, and facilitate the approach and recurrence of these happy intervals. There are then, different roads by which this end may be reached. The love of beauty which exalts the poet; that devotion to the One and that ascent of science which makes the ambition of the philosopher; and that love and those prayers by which some devout and ardent soul tends in its moral purity towards perfection. These are the great highways conducting to that height above the actual and the particular, where we stand in the immediate presence of the infinite, who shines out as from the deeps of the soul.”
Iamblichus, or the writer of the treatise that bears his name, says: -“ The pomp of emperors becomes as nothing in comparison with the glory that surrounds the heirophant. His nature is the instrument of Deity who fills and impels him. Men of this order do not employ in the elevation they experience, the waking senses as do others. They have no purpose of their own, no mastery over themselves. They speak wisdom they do not understand, and their faculties absorbed in a divine power become the utterance of a superior will.
Frequently, not merely the ordinary exercise of reason, but sensation and animal life would appear to have been suspended; and the subject of the affilatus has not felt the application of fire, has been pierced with spits, cut with knives, and not been sensible of pain. Yea, often, the more the body and the mind have been alike impeded by vigils and fasts, the more mentally imbecile and ignorant a youth may be who is brought under this influence, the more freely and unmixedly will the divine power be made manifest. So clearly are these wonders the work, not of human skill and wisdom, but of supernatural agency! Characteristics, such as these I have mentioned are the marks of the true inspiration.” Victor Hugo also bears his testimony on this subject
6. There is a time when the unknown reveals itself in a mysterious way to the spirit of man. A sudden rent in the veil of darkness will make manifest things hitherto unseen, and then close again upon the mysteries within. Such visions have occasionally the power to effect a transfiguration in those whom they visit. They convert a poor camel-driver into a Mahomet; a peasant girl tending her goats into a Joan of Arc. Solitude generates a certain amount of sublime exaltation. It is like the smoke arising from the burning bush.
INSPIRATION ACCORDING TO VICTOR HUGO.
“A mysterious lucidity of mind results, which converts the student into a seer, and the poet into a prophet: herein we find a key to the mysteries of Horeb, and Ebron, and Ombos; to the intoxication of Castalian laurels, the revelations of the month Busion. Hence too, we have Peleia at Dodona, Phemonoe at Delphos, Trophonius in Zebadea, Ezekiel on the Chebar, and Jerome in the Thebais.
“More frequently this visionary state overwhelms and stupifies its victim. There is such a thing as a divine besotedness. The Hindoo fakir bears about with him the burden of his vision, as the Cretin his gôitre. Luther holding converse with devils in his garret at Wittenburgh; Pascal shutting out the view of the infernal regions with the screen of his cabinet; the African Obi conversing with the whitefaced god Bossum; are each and all the same phenomena, diversely interpreted by the minds in which they manifest themselves, according to their capacity and power. Luther and Pascal were grand, and are grand still; the Obi is simply a poor half-witted creature, &c.
" Reverie, which is thought in its nebulous state, borders closely upon the land of sleep, by which it is bounded as by a natural frontier. The discovery of a new world, in the form of an atmosphere filled with transparent creatures, would be a beginning of a knowledge of the vast unknown. But beyond opens out the illimitable domain of the possible, teeming with yet other beings, and characterised by other phenomena. All this would be nothing supernatural, but merely the occult continuation of the infinite variety of creation.'
* Toilers of the Sea, v. i., c. 7.
The Manifestations in the Catholic Church.
It is in the history of the Catholic Church among its saints and martyrs that we find the most numerous illustrations and the fullest confirmation of the phenomena of modern spiritualism, but these were misunderstood and misinterpreted by the Church, as they are in the present day by spiritualists. By Protestants they have all been regarded as pious frauds. The study of the subject, however, as a branch of physiology will teach us to be more discriminating. The fact of persons being raised from the ground and borne through the air has been variously attested. “The fact is authentically attested of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Dominick, St. Dunstan, St. Francis of Assissium, St. Teresa, St. Cozetan, St. Bernard Ptolæmæi, St. Catharine of Ricci, and several others." Calmet remarks, among other instances which came under his own observation:-“I knew a nun, to whom it has often happened, in spite of herself, to see herself thus raised up in the air to a certain distance from the earth; it was neither from choice, nor from any wish to distinguish herself, since she was truly confused at it.” *
With respect to what were thought to be miraculous cures, the testimony of the Church is overwhelming. Mr. Lecky, , with Middleton, rejects the old Protestant theory, that “ miracles became gradually fewer and fewer, till they at last entirely disappeared ;” and accepts without reserve the statement of this intrepid writer in his “ Free Inquiry,” that as far as the Church historians can illustrate or throw light on anything, “there is not a single point in all history so constantly, explicitly, and unanimously affirmed by them all
* The Two Worlds, p. 58.