Imágenes de páginas

able, that if we put our heart into his hands he will guide it? And the experience of universal man, in all ages, all countries, all religions, teaches this value of prayer. It is taught by Socrates and Seneca, no less than by Jesus Christ.

Here is the place of religion ; this is its need. We do not need to pray to God for what we can do ourselves. But what we cannot do for ourselves is to guide and keep and direct this hidden man of the heart. We have a right to come boldly to God for this; asking his spirit and expecting to receive it. This is a promise we can trust in, that God will give his Holy Spirit to those who ask him.

I often see in the journals and elsewhere jeers at praying people, as if they were no better than others. This may

be very true of the prayer of form; of those who, pray to be seen of men ; of those who pray merely as a ceremony or a duty. But I do not believe that a man can ever pray privately and in earnest to be guided right, to be kept from evil, to be put into a good temper and a good spirit, without this good coming. Therefore, “keep thy heart” by put:ing it daily into God's hands with the sincere longing that he shall keep it for thee.





DO not propose, at this time, to discuss the difficult

question of demoniacal possession. I will, however, say a few words concerning it, before proceeding to my main subject.

It seems that, in the time of Jesus, many diseases, such as insanity, epilepsy, dumbness, were ascribed to the influence of evil spirits, who first got possession of the mind, and afterwards of the body. This opinion has widely prevailed, outside of Palestine, and has given rise to the belief in witchcraft and all its superstitions. It has revived again among ourselves, among some classes of Spiritualists, who have assured me that they have known persons who, after acting as mediums, have at last fallen into the power of the bad spirits, and become subject to disease, insanity, and perhaps death. If we once accept the fact of intercourse with spirits, the possibility of spiritual possession will easily be admitted. Spiritualists, therefore, have no difficulty with the stories of demoniacal possession in the New Testament, or elsewhere.

Another circumstance which ought to be mentioned is, that while in our English Testament we continually read of persons "possessed with the devil,” or “with a devil,”


no such phrases are to be found in the original. In the Greek, it is always stated that they are possessed by de

A distinction is always made between the demons, or spirits, and the devil ; which distinction our translators have seen fit to ignore. Possession by the devil or devils is mentioned seventy-six times in our English Bible, and in every one of these cases the word in the original is not Diabolos (or devil), but always Daimon, or evil spirit. Where the phrase in English is “possessed by a devil,” which occurs thirteen times in our Gospels, it is always “demonized” in the Greek. This is something which ought to be attended to in the new translation of the Bible.

One other fact is that Jesus, in every instance where he is reported as casting out devils, does it by mental and moral methods. He never uses magic formulas or physical tailsmans. It is a mind cure which he uses. He gives the poor sufferer faith, enables him to exercise his own will, puts forth upon his soul a moral influence. This same influence seems to have been exercised by others. The disciples of Jesus sometimes cast out demons, and they informed him that they one day saw a man who followed not with them doing the same thing in the name of Christ. This person seems to have believed in Jesus, for he cast out demons in his name. He wished to do good, and did it, and did it in the name of Jesus; but the disciples forbade him because he followed not them. This is the first instance of sectarianism in the Christian church, and was strongly rebuked by Jesus.

And now, perhaps, you may ask, “What then, is the dif--ference between a demon and a devil ? " I take the differ

ence to be this : A devil is an influence which is always bad; but the influence of a demon may be bad or good. It is bad when you are possessed by it, good when you possess it.

This distinction I hold to be very important. A demonic spirit is simply a powerful spirit. When you are able to use it, it will serve you, and may enable you to be very useful. When it uses you when you are possessed by it, when you are passive in its hands - it draws you down, makes a slave of you, and so demoralizes and de

bases you.

It is not meet that man should be possessed by anything. He is to possess all things, but not to be ever a possession. "Having nothing, and yet possessing all things," says the apostle. Self-possession is the most manly quality in man-self-possession, self-direction.

. When God gave to man his senses, he made them avenues by which to pass out of himself into nature, and into the great, all-surrounding universe of God. When we possess and control our senses, they are sources of pleasure, knowledge, power and good. But you will observe that all the senses have an active or passive employment. When we receive impressions passively through the eye, we say that we see ; when we search actively with the eye, we say that we look. In like manner, with the passive use of the ear, we hear; with the active exercise, we listen. So, too, through another sense, we either feel or touch. And although there are no phrases by which to express the difference between the active and passive exercise of smell and taste, there is yet the same distinction; and, universally, the passive exercise of the senses is called sensation; the active exercise is perception.

Now, the general rule is that we are possessed by the senses in sensation; we possess them in perception.

In this magnificent season, when all nature is glorious with the colors of the dying year, two persons go out into the woods. One possesses his senses; the other is possessed by them. The one is looking, the other only seeing.

The man of mere sensation has a vision of color before his eyes; but it soon tires, and all he can say about it is that "the country is looking very well, this October.” The other is, perhaps, an artist, searching into all the details of beauty, hour after hour. He notices the deep violet of the sky, the flaming crimsons and scarlets of the woods, every detail of light and shadow in the forest, every picturesque effect of the sunlight on the meadow, the airy perspective of the sky and distant land, and carries back a treasure of new experience for joy and use during the winter.

The senses, when we direct and possess them, are sources of infinite delight; when we allow ourselves to be possessed by them, they degrade us. Then the imagination is filled with low, unworthy pictures of self-indulgence; then, at last, the man becomes the slave of sensual pleasure, and becomes a brute. I beg pardon of the brutes ; they never go so low as a sensual man. Brutes use their senses, and do not abuse them. Forgive me, honest horse, doing your best to obey a drunken, surly, bad-tempered driver, who frightens you with curses, and then beats you because you are frightened — forgive me! You are less a brute than he. Faithful dog - affectionate, trusting, docile — forgive me! You are higher in the scale. of creation than the passionate scoundrel who kicks you in his senseless anger. Reptiles and creeping things, forgive me! You never stupefy your souls with low lusts; you never “ apply hot and rebellious liquors to your blood.” Only man makes himself the slave of his senses ; brutes use theirs, and do not abuse them. When they have eaten as much as they need, they stop. Only man is a glutton, “whose god is his belly;" only man allows himself to become the slave of some appetite—the slave of tobacco, the slave of whiskey. At Eaton Hall, near Chester, I saw a horse belonging to the Marquis of Westminster, who al

« AnteriorContinuar »