THE first edition of this remarkable book was issued in 1876. It was rather before its time, for Spiritualism had not yet gained its subsequent popularity, and by many was still regarded as almost entirely an imposture. But the treatise was shortly found of such eminent value from the Bible point of view that by 1891 it had reached its sixth edition. It was about that year it was put into my hands, to my permanent gain as a student of the Word of God. In 1910 I read it again when in India, in contact with Parsee and Brahmin Theosophists and their books, and was much impressed with the accuracy of its treatment of those occult religions which had their rise in the Orient.
A few portions have been omitted, making room for some explanatory notes and dates, which will be found within square brackets [ ]. In addition to the fresh matter in this Preface, a chapter of Confirmatory Evidence is added, bringing the book up to date, and also, in the Appendix, a full examination of Gen. vi. supports Pember's view that the " sons of God " were angels. The Index of Subjects has been augmented and there is a new Index of Persons, Places, and Books. All that Pember wrote remains in his own words, but, where suitable, footnotes have been incorporated in the text. New page headlines are given throughout, to guide the eye in tracing topics.
Perhaps there are still some who doubt the reality or nearness of a spirit world, or at least if there is any need for us to be concerned about it. They may question the reliability of proofs borrowed from the ancient and heathen world. Let such ponder the following authenticated instances from the present times, and consider whether there be not urgent reason that the soul be fortified by the light and teaching and warning found in Scripture, as elucidated in the present volume.
i. From a christian lady I knew intimately for years I had this personal story. Her father was the master of one of the old wooden naval vessels. At times she and a sister lived on the water. Changing ships, their father put them in the state cabin in the stem of the ship, which he had divided into two apartments. The first night the girls had chatted about their new quarters, when, as they were settling to sleep, a groaning voice in the adjoining apartment was heard to say, " Oh, don't! Oh, don't! " Each whispered to the other, " Did you hear that ? " and they slept little that night. In the morning they told their father. He was a tough old salt, and laughed at them. But he changed their quarters ; and years later, when they were grown up, he acknowledged that he had known that a former master had been murdered in that cabin.
ii. In this book Pember narrates the beginning of the modern spirit outburst in the Fox house in America in 1848. The advance was from the side of the spirits, by means of raps on the wall of the chamber of two young girls. Alongside of this put the following fact. At Ootacamund, the chief Government station of South India, on the Nilgiri Hills, I saw often, in 1909 and 1910, an earnest Christian woman, whose witness to Christ was clear and owned of God. She knew nothing of the Fox incident, but narrated to me a precisely similar experience of her own when a girl, peculiar and systematic rappings on the wall of her room having occurred, though, happily, failing to lead her into the toils, as the Fox family were led.
iii. She was of a susceptible temperament. In her worldly days she had been much in demand for amateur theatricals. I suggested to her that, on this account, the spirits had probably judged her to be a likely subject for enticement, and had approached her. This led her to tell me the further incident that, when once, in those unconverted days, she had been at a party at a European bungalow, she observed a tall gentleman leaning on the piano, listening to the lady playing. She was struck by him, because she had thought that she knew all the English people of the district, and because his clothes were of a somewhat out-of-date cut. After the party she asked the hostess who he was, and described him. The lady replied that she must have been dreaming, for no such person was known to her, or had been present. She, however, was sure she had seen him; and on the matter being mentioned to the oldest resident of the part, and the description being repeated, he said at once that he knew quite well who it was, a Mr. So-and-So, and that he had been murdered in that bungalow.
These two incidents seem capable of one of two explanations. Either, as the heathen believed, the dead, or some of them, can on occasion re-visit their old haunts, and re-enact their former experiences ; or spirits, designing to alarm or attract the living, can reproduce former events, and afterwards cause the facts to become known to the persons they would entice. In either case, how important it is for us to be fortified with the knowledge that God has most sternly forbidden such intercourse from either side. This is shown plainly in the following pages.
iv. Again, the brother of the last-mentioned lady drew my attention to a very remarkable attempt to entangle a correspondent of the well-known Methodist divine, Dr. Adam Clarke. The circumstances are narrated at the beginning of Book V of the Account of Dr. Clarke's life, ed. 1833.
His interest in chemistry led to a long friendship with a Mr. Richard Hand, who is described as " eminent as a man of science, a gentleman of character, and one who would not on any account knowingly misrepresent any fact."
On December 2nd, 1792, Mr. Hand wrote from Dublin to Dr. Clarke that,
The 2nd of November last, came to my house two men, one I thought to be a priest, and yet believe so, the other a plain sedatelooking man ; they asked for me. As soon as I went to them, the last-mentioned person said " He had called to see some of my stained glass, and hoped, as he was curious, I would permit him to call and see me now and then " : of course, I said I should be happy that he would do so. After much conversation he began to speak of metals and their properties, and of alchemy, asking me " If I had ever read any books of that kind " (but I believe he well knew that I had). After some time, and many compliments passing on my ingenious art, they went away. At twelve o'clock the next forenoon he came himself, without the priest, and told me " He had a little matter that would stain the glass the very colour I wanted," and which I could never get : that is, a deep blood red. Said he, " If you have a furnace hot we will do it, for the common fire will not do well." I replied, " Sir, I have not one hot, but if you will please to come with me I will show you my little laboratory, and I will get one lighted. " When we came out he looked about him, and then said, " Sir, do not deceive me, you are an alchemist."
Why do you think so, Sir ?"
"Because you have as many foolish vessels as I have seen with many others engaged in that study."
" I have," I answered, " worked a long time at it, it is true, without gain, and I should be glad to be better instructed."
"Do you believe the art ?"
"Why ? "
" Because I give credit to many good and pious men. " He smiled. " Will you have this air furnace lighted ? "
" Yes, Sir." I did so: he then asked for a bit of glass-opened a box, and turned aside, and laid a little red powder upon the glass with a pen-knife-put the glass, with the powder on it, into the fire, and when hot took it out, and the glass was like blood.
" Have you scales ? "
I got them for him, and some lead: he weighed two ounces.. he then put four grains of a very white Powder in a bit of wax, and when the lead was melted put this into it, and then raised the fire for a little while-then took it out and cast it into water:-never was finer silver in the world! I exclaimed and said, " O God! Sir, you amaze me! " 1
" Why," he replied, " do you call upon God, do you think He has any hand in these things ? "
" In all good things, Sir," I said.
" Ah, friend, God will never reveal those things to man. - Did you ever learn any magic ?"
" No, Sir."
" Get you, then, - he will instruct you; but I will lend you a book, and will get you acquainted with a friend who will help you in that knowledge. Did you ever see the devil ?"
" No, Sir, and trust I never shall."
" Would you be afraid ?"
" Then you need not be, he harms no one ; but is every ingenious man's friend. Shall I show you something wonderful ?"
" Not if it is anything of that kind."
" It is not, Sir ; please to get me a glass of clean water." I did so. He pulled out a bottle, and dropped a red liquor into it, and said something I did not understand. The water was all in a blaze of fire, and a multitude of little live things like lizards moving about in it. I was in great fear: this he perceived, took the glass, and flung it into the ashes, and all was over.
" Now, Sir," said he, " if you will enter into a vow with me, as I see you are an ingenious man, I will let you know more than you will ever find out."
This I declined, being fully convinced it was of the devil; and it is now I know the meaning of " coming improperly by the secret." After some little time he said " He must go, and would call again when I should think better of his offer." He left me the two ounces of luna.
In a letter of the next month, Mr. Hand gave further details of the experiments, and said:
" I was not imposed upon in the transmutation, having used a quarter of an ounce of the silver in my own work, and sold the remainder of it for Pure silver."
On his flinging the water on fire under the grate with the lizards in it, I looked to see if I could observe them there : he observed me, and said:
1 Possibly this was only a chemical action : but the question is how this person had learned the secret long before scientific chemistry thought such a process possible.
" They are gone."
" Where ? "
" From whence they came."
" Where is that ? "
" Oh, you must not know all things at once "
" Why, Sir, I believe this is magic. You could, I have no doubt, raise the devil if you liked."
" Would you be afraid ? "
" Yes, Sir, I hope ever to be saved from having anything to do with him." He replied:
" You are a very ingenious man, Mr. Hand, and I wish you to be better acquainted with Nature and the things in this curious world, through which I have myself almost been, and I have more knowledge than most I have met with, and yet I know many wonderful men."
" Do you know any person, Sir, who has the red stone ?"
" I do, multitudes."
" I wish I knew some."
" You shall, and the whole secret."
" Sir, you are very good."
" But you must know that we are all linked like a chain, and you must go under a particular ceremony and vow."
"I will vow to God, Sir," I replied, " that I will never divulge -" Here he stopped me, and said: " I was going beyond the question," and appeared vexed. He said the vow must be made before another; and with an angry tone, " It is no matter to you whether it be before God or the devil, if you get the art."
Then, indeed, my dear friend, I saw almost into his inmost soul, and I grew all on fire, and said: " I will never receive anything, not even the riches of the world, but from God alone."'
" Oh, Sir," he replied, " you seem to be angry with me. My intention was to serve you; you are not acquainted with me, or you would rather embrace than offend me."
He told me that there was but one way on earth of knowing the transmutation of metals, and of that he said I knew nothing.
On May 13th following, Mr. Hand added:
Since I wrote to you last, I met the man who was at my house, and who made the transmutation, and did the other matter. I said :
" How do you do, Sir? " He replied:
" Sir, I have not the honour of knowing you."
" Do you not remember," said I, " the person who stains glass, and to whom you were so kind as to show some experiments ? "
" No, Sir, you are mistaken," and he turned red in the face.
" Sir," I answered, " if I am mistaken, I beg your pardon for telling you that I was never right in anything in my life, and never shall be."
" Sir, you are mistaken, and I wish you good morning."
He several times turned round to look after me ; but be assured I never saw a man if that man was not the one who was with me.
Surely this was a deliberate attempt by evil powers to inveigle an able and inquiring mind into their toils. One is reminded by it of a statement by the founder of the Theosophical Society, Colonel Olcott, concerning the " Masters," who are alleged to be ever at hand to help seeking souls towards the " Great Reality," that " some have encountered them under strange guises in unlikely places " (Old Diary Leaves, The True History of the Theosofihical Society, 19). How does the Christian need to pray, " Deliver us from the Evil One," and to watch and to pray that he enter not into any temptation. Is it beyond possibility that some of the modern chemical discoveries, now in use for wholesale massacre, have been revealed diabolically, perhaps to minds not so cautious as Mr. Hand ?
v. Egypt is another land where the powers of darkness have been supreme for centuries, and can display their energies with impunity. In 1914 it was mine to lead to faith in Christ a young Copt, named Zaky Abdelmelik, serving in a Government department. On the 24th June, 1927, when staying with him in Heliopolis, he narrated the following circumstances from the experience of his own father, Abdelmelik Halil.
Some thirty-four years earlier, his father, who was about forty-five years of age, was walking in a street in Ghizeh, near Cairol and feeling anxious about the boy Zaky., then four years old, who was lying very ill in their village of Brombel, some forty-five miles south of Cairo. A sheikh he did not know spoke to him, and said, " Why are you troubled ? Come with me, and I will tell you what is in your mind." He led him to a darkened room in a house in a quiet side street, brushed the dust from a space of ground, and muttered some words which the other did not understand. He then told Halil to sit on the space of ground. The time was the middle of the day. There appeared suddenly a tiny man about four inches high. He disappeared and quickly returned with an equally tiny chair. Brushing the dust from a small space he set down the chair, and said, " The King is coming! " Immediately there appeared another such tiny man, but walking with pride and an air of importance. He set himself in the chair, and the former little man at once stood before him as if he were a soldier-servant, standing to attention and waiting orders from his sovereign.
The King then said peremptorily, " Go to Brombel, to the house of Abdelmelik Halff, and see what each is doing there."
The first little man disappeared, and was absent for perhaps three or four minutes. He then reappeared suddenly and told what each person in the house was doing, giving their names, and adding that the son who had been sick was playing. The sheikh then again spoke words which Halil did not understand, whereupon the two small men and the chair were gone.
Abdelmelik gave to the sheikh a dollar and they walked away. Upon reaching the bank of the Nile, which was near, the sheikh formed a piece of paper into a small ship, and floated away on the water and was seen no more.
Halil had noted the hour when the tiny man gave the information about his house, and wrote to ask what they were doing on that day at that time. The information given had been correct.
Zaky had received this narration from his father. I wrote it down at the time, and he signed it as a true account. Ten days later his eldest brother arrived, and I got him to repeat the story as here given. He added that their father had told the man. he was anxious to get news of his boy, which led to the incident.
The father was a Christian, and of what quality may be gauged from this further incident. Not very long after the former happening, a Moslem lay in their village paralyzed from his waist downwards. A sheikh from the great El Azhar University of Cairo was brought, who for three hours read over him portions of the Koran, but without effect. Halil then said that he would heal him by the Name of Jesus. He prayed in the Name and bade him rise, which he at once did, and walked here and there. The man was still alive in 1927, and active. That he had not become a Christian shows that miracles alone will not change the heart or produce saving faith. It is evident that the testimony of such a disciple can be trusted. He would not have deceived his own boys ; and the fact that he wrote to his home to enquire of their doings would of itself require explanation on his return.
The curious in such matters know well that there is abundant similar evidence that another world exists, is all around us, and presses into this world of mankind. It is certain that a large part of it is in rebellion against God. . Even avowed spiritists admit that they encounter many deceiving spirits. These enemies of God labour to reduce to ruin this human realm of.. His kingdom. It is both His wisdom and His love that has caused Him to forbid man to seek contact with that rebellious host or to accept their advances.
It is with every confidence that I commend to my fellowservants of Christ this illuminating treatise. I know of none other on its theme to be compared with it in spiritual value. Examination of more recent and of current literature shows that Spiritism and Theosophy to-day are what they were when Pember wrote. His treatise is, therefore, as suitable to-day as when written. Of this more will be said at the close of the book.
G. H. LANG