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witchcraft; and secondly, that the wisdom of all nations had provided laws against persons accused of the crime. Sir Thomas Browne, the well-known author of the “ Religio Medici,” was called as a witness at the trial, and swore he was clearly of opinion that the persons were bewitched.” Not only so, but More and Cudworth, both of them belonging to the enlightened band of Cambridge Platonists, strongly expressed their belief in the reality of witchcraft; and more than all, Joseph Glanvil, the author of the "Scepsis Scientifica," and the most daring theological thinker, perhaps, of his time, wrote a special defence of the decaying superstition, under the name of “Sadducismus Triumphatus," probably the ablest book ever published in its defence. So far as mere arguments were concerned, the divines seemed to have it all their own way. “ The books in defence of the belief were not only far more numerous than the later works against it, but they also represented far more learning, dialectic skill, and even general ability.” The mass of evidence seemed in favour of it. " Those who lived when the evidences of witchcraft existed in profusion, and attracted the attention of all classes and of all grades of intellect, must surely have been as competent judges as ourselves of the question, were it merely a question of evidence.
It is, I think, difficult to examine the subject with impartiality without coming to the conclusion, that the historical evidence establishing the existence of witchcraft is so vast and varied, that it is impossible to disbelieve it without what, on other subjects, we should deem the most extraordinary rashness."* It is highly probable, indeed, that the people of those times were not such fools as we take them to be. Witchcraft appears to have been based upon the occult powers to which we have referred, and which were
Lecky on Rationalism, from The Contemporary Review, part 3.
INSPIRATION OF QUAKERS, SHAKERS AND JUMPERS.
then as much misinterpreted as they are now and have always been. “ The facts, misunderstood, were ridden by theories, and viewed in the light of a baneful superstition, compounded of Paganism, Judaism, and a corrupted Christianity." * The author of “Mary Jane" (p. 361) thus identifies witchcraft with the modern phenomena; he says: .“ The female of all animals, as well as man, is so constituted for the purposes of gestation and lectation as to eliminate more liquids, and probably consequently more vapours — that hence more women are mediums than men. That old women, from their sedentary habits, probably secreted more phosphorus, or at least eliminated it in confined rooms, where it produced those effects which we witness, and so becoming conscious of a power which they understood nothing of the nature of, they used it to get a livelihood, and thus, poor things, from Moses's time downwards, got burnt as witches; and there is no doubt, that when they saw the extraordinary phenomena they could produce, and that the church, and the magistrates, and the judges, and the mob, all declared that they were witches and possessed by evil spirits, that the poor things really believed it— the wrong persons were burned, in my opinion.” Still there was Scripture warrant for what was done, for we are told (Lev. xx. 27) that “ a man also, or woman, that hath a familiar spirit, shall surely be put to death."
The Abnormal Mental Powers of the Founders of Sects, &c.
Abnormal powers attended many great and good men and founders of sects, some phase of such powers being more strongly developed in some cases than in others, giving the name to particular sects, such as Quakers, Shakers, Jumpers,
* The Two Worlds, p. 102.
Methodists, &c., according as the powers of efflux and influx first displayed themselves, and which were afterwards thought necessary and therefore took that form in the disciples. For the history of such cases, and of many others connected with this subject, I must refer the reader to the admirable compendium from which I have previously quoted, called “The Two Worlds, the Mental and the Spiritual," published by Pitman, Paternoster Row. This book shows great research and is admirably and candidly written, although in support of individual spirit manifestations; but I think the facts will better bear the interpretation that I have put upon them. I would especially call attention to the fact that all the manifestations, whether subjective or objective, reflected the opinions of either the district, country, or age, and were warm from the minds of persons living, and not from such as had passed into another sphere, where they might be supposed to have gained fresh knowledge. The only “spirit" with which the world can really be said to be familiar is one having a goat's head with the extremities of the satyr of the heathen mythology, and whether he, or she most probably, is a reflex of our own minds — " a foregone conclusion established and favoured by the then dominant theology," or a real objective existence, must be left for each person to determine for himself. The author of “ The Two Worlds” says, Spiritualism is God in the Soul;" — in this at least I heartily agree with him. The same writer, speaking of Irving's time, says: “ Nor is the healing by spiritual power the only point of correspondence in the spiritual manifestations of Mr. Irving's time and of our own. In both periods we have spiritual utterances independent of the volition of the speaker, in the native, in foreign, and in unknown tongues; writing under spiritual influence and from spiritual dictation; sudden inward illumination and impression; and discernment
JOHN WESLEY ON THE MANIFESTATIONS.
of thoughts, and answers to questions, both mental and oral. In the spiritual utterances then and now we find the same general character of virtue and piety, with occasional inconsistencies and discrepancies, and other indications of a ‘vary. ing origin’; evidencing that the same differences in character and state which we find among men in the natural world prevail also in the spiritual world.” Irving himself, we are told by Mr. Baxter, regarded the manifestations as of " varying origin, that the utterances at one time might be of God, and at another time of Satan, even in the same person."
John Wesley's opinion of the manifestations that attended his church appear to have been very similar. The following is an extract from his Journal: -“ I. God suddenly and strongly convinced many that they were lost sinners; the natural consequences whereof were sudden outcries and strong bodily convulsions. II. To strengthen and encourage them that believed, and to make his work more apparent, He favoured several of them with divine dreams, and others with trances or visions. III. In some of these instances, after a time, nature mixed with grace. IV. Satan likewise mimicked the work of God in order to discredit the whole work; and yet it is not wise to give up this part any more than to give up the whole. At first it was doubtless wholly from God. It is partly so at this day; and he will enable us to discern how far, in every case, the work is pure, and where it mixes or degenerates.” This very correctly characterises what takes place at Revivals at the present time. It is a spirit circle on a large scale, and influx or inspiration, or what is “ borne in” on the mind is the reflex of the public opinion present, often mixed with other occult powers.
One of the most peculiar outbreaks of this kind is what has been called, the “Preaching Epidemic," of Sweden, in 1842, described by Mary Howitt. Fortunately we have the aid of a very sensible man in the investigation of this psychological phenomenon, who, if it was of divine origin as was generally supposed, was yet bent upon determining the conditions under which it took place. Dr. J. A. Butsch, bishop of Skara, in Westgöthland, reports to the archbishop of Upsala, on the subject. “ The bishop was of opinion that it was a disease originally physical, but affecting the mind in a peculiar manner.
He arrived at this conclusion by attentively studying the phenomenon itself. At all events, bodily sickness was an ingredient in it, as was proved from the fact that, although every one affected by it, in describing the commencement of their state, mentioned a spiritual excitement as its original cause, close examination proved that an internal bodily disorder, attended by pain, had preceded or accompanied this excitement. Besides, there were persons who, against their own wills, were affected by the quaking fits which were one of its most striking early outward symptoms, without any previous religious excitement; and these, when subjected to medical treatment, soon recovered. The bishop said that the effects corresponded very much with what he had heard and read respecting animal magnetism." The probability is that the internal bodily disorder was the “ medium,” or induced condition, by which the peculiar spiritual atmosphere entered their nervous systems.
The Constitution of the Medium.
We are told in the “ Two Worlds” “ that there are persons in some way peculiarly constituted, whose presence appears to furnish conditions requisite to enable Spirits to act upon Matter, or to manifest their agency in any way cognizable to
In what this peculiarity consists, whether it be chemical, electrical, magnetic, odylic, or some combination of