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strength equal to his day, is vouchsafed, but it is afforded by the ordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit: it is conveyed through the medium of second causes, and not by the intervention of a supernatural creation; by leading the mind into all truth, and not by the perversion of its imagination; by the sure word of God, and not by the presence of an angel. The latter fancied appearance is a brainular illusion, from which the disciple of Christ should pray to be delivered.
Nor let it be conceived, that this purely physical condition, is unequal to the effect produced. Let it be recollected that there is no instance of fortitude in the Christian martyr, which has not been paralleled by the unyielding endurance of the greatest ingenuity of torture by the heathen,-by him of whom it may justly be said, that God was not in all his thoughts, because he would not suffer his enemies to triumph over an extorted groan: he has even told them how to augment his sufferings, and has exulted in shewing the most unshaken fortitude, amidst the most appalling trials to human strength and constancy of purpose. This may be called infatuation. Granted: yet here, the mere motives of the man acted in producing such an ecstatic excitement of the brain that the individual rose above physical suffering, was lifted out of himself, and would not grieve the spirits of his ancestors, by exhibit ing the slightest sympton of degenerate courage. Oh suffer not the Christian's hope and consolation to rest upon a similar superstitious basis; but let him humbly rely upon that strength which has been promised in the performance of duty let him diligently seek for support in prayer, in the word of God, and in waiting upon him; and then he will be enabled, in the promises of the Gospel, to realize the Saviour's presence with his suffering children: let him strive to imitate Him who knows all our
infirmities, and was himself made perfect through sufferings: above all, let him look to his sufferings upon the cross, and during his last agony, and let him contemplate for what and for whom he suffered; so that the firmness of his principles, the reality of his faith, and their efficacy to support him, shall be demonstrated, and shall present a rational, a well-grounded, and a lovely example of Christian fortitude.
The agency of evil spirits is so nearly connected with this part of the subject, that it presents a just claim to consideration before we proceed. The principal forms in which we meet with this variety of superstitious influence, are those of supposed possession, and alleged temptation. Almost every hamlet has its traditional legend of the former state, or its actual habitation of some "cunning woman,” or witch, or other pretender to supernatural information; and in almost every coterie, will be found some mind under the actual agency of temptation. With these views are associated various processes, by which the power and presence of the evil one are to be evoked or deprecated; and a whole host of excuses, for a particular line of conduct or thought, which conscience admonishes is wrong, and which reason and religion prove, on other grounds, to be indefensible.
1. With possession, as far and as frequently as it may be the result of fraud or imposture, we have nothing to do; but instances are to be met with, in which it is verily believed by the patient, and has been adopted as an absorbing and exclusive idea; and it then forms a variety of religious melancholy, under the appellation of demonomania. This, with other indications of insanity, is to be referred to a peculiar bodily condition, and is attended by certain morbid manifestions of mind, which originate in a diseased state, either primary or secondary, of the intellectual organ. Its classification, as a variety of
melancholy, would shew that the ancients believed it to originate in a disordered secretion of bile; and indeed it is very certain, that irritation of the liver has a decided influence in throwing a sombre cloud over all the present, as well as the future events of life. But I am more disposed to believe, that in this case the first link in the chain of morbid action will be found in the brain itself; and that the disturbance of the digestive functions, is a consequence, rather than a cause, of such irritation, though it may afterwards tend to keep up, and even ultimately to aggravate, the operation of the originating cause.
This view of the subject is borne out by considering the circumstances of the malady. In the first place, there will be found to have existed a general predisposition to insanity. General ignorance, and contracted mental manifestation, will shew how little attention and cultivation have been bestowed upon the intellectual organ the patient is remarkable for mental feebleness, and pusillanimity; thus proclaiming a want of brainular energy, and of intellectual expansion. Previously to the fully formed paroxysm of malady, it will be found that the mind has been under the influence of prolonged disquietude, fear, or even terror; and these very generally own their commencement in false and erroneous opinions on the subject of religion, arising either from an injudicious statement of its real truths, or from partial and exclusive views; or from placing too great dependance on mere feelings and emotions, rather than on the sentiments-the results of sound judgment and a spiritually enlightened understanding; or from such a degree of physical nervous irritation, that the rays of religious comfort do not reach the mind through the material veil which disorder of cerebral function has drawn around its perceptions. Again all these causes of disturbance will be mutual re-agents with accumulating force; and after a
certain degree of conflicting and anxious attention, the false notions take possession of the individual, and beyond an ineffectual struggle, claim their supremacy-a supremacy of disease. Now it will be seen, that the remote causes of this malady operate rather immediately than intermediately upon the brain; and that its irritation is to be traced rather to mental than to bodily sources. This opinion is strengthened by the fact, that these views have become less frequent, and exert a diminished influence, exactly in proportion as knowledge has become diffused; as the Scriptures of truth have been rendered more accessible, and as they have ceased to be a dead letter, by the extension of religious education, and of juster views on the subject of God's dealings with his sinful children. That this state is the result of brainular irritation, is still further shewn by the prevailing disposition to suicide by which it is accompanied. Far be it from the author to diminish the awful responsibility of those who put a period to their existence, and rush unbidden into the presence of their Maker and Judge, with an act of aggravated treason on their hands: far be it from him to palliate the crime of suicide, or even to insinuate that in the majority of cases it is an act of insanity. On the contrary, he verily believes that it too frequently arises from a determination to get rid of present sorrow and perplexity at any hazard; and of course, from a practical disbelief of the tremendous risk involved in this act of disobedience. But the energy and extent of moral responsibility will never be invaded by the development of just views; nor by defining the boundary of moral accountability from the limits of physical impulse.
To apply these principles to the present instance: the patient verily believes himself possessed by evil spirits, rejected by God, sold to Satan, and hurried on to do his will; so that he finally commits an act
which, according to his own shew- the former influence from that of ing, would place him immediately natural corruption, or predisposition under the tormenting influence of to evil; particularly as exhibited in the evil one; and would make him that spontaneous or involuntary realize the fire which he has com- thought, which must arise from the plained of as existing in his brain-- prevalence of certain mental constithe hell of his bosom-the worm tutions, or must be the effect of that dieth not, and the fire that is nervous irritability; so satisfied was not quenched. Now this is not he, in his better moments, that sound, and certainly not scriptural, much of what he experienced dereasoning. To do that which seals pended upon a varying condition present suffering with an irrevoca of the organ of mind. This latter ble doom-a doom, too, which state will very generally be accommight have been avoided-is not panied by other uneasy sensations, legitimate reasoning; and the act and morbid mental manifestations, which results from its awfully tre- which will define its nature, and mendous perversion, must, in the clearly point to the diseased organ; judgment of truth and charity, be since disorder of function necessaconsidered an insane act. Far rily implies a disturbed and irritated otherwise the petulent impatience state of the organ by which the of him who thoughtlessly rushes function is carried on; and in the from present pain, upon the despe- case before us, the brain has been rate venture of presumed annihila- shewn to be that organ. This, howtion, or even upon a recklessness ever, is not always obvious: but of futurity; for, on the supposition then, the impression will very selthat this were depending upon ig- dom want the characteristic of unnorance, in this happy country at reasonableness; that is, it will be least, it must be voluntary, inex- without a solid basis of truth, and cusable, and therefore sinful. it will not be removable by its light.
But again, with regard to temptation. This term often signifies trial, and is then an expression of that life of probation in which we are placed, for the exercise of faith and patience; and, generally, of the Christian character. But this is not the acceptation of the term with which we have now to do: it is rather a supposed enticement by Satan, or his angels, to commit that which is hateful in the sight of God. Now this is either a physical or a moral state; but in neither case is it supernatural.
It may first be a physical condition; as, for example, in the history of G. H., who has often consulted me for varying states of health. At one time, he has referred to certain morbid manifestations of mind, and temptations to sin, which he has ascribed to Satanic influence: and at another period has begged of me to define the respective limits of physical and moral agency, and to assist him in distinguishing
It is not intended to deny the influence of the spirit of evil, but merely to place the subject upon a just foundation; and to shew that it is the same principle which produced the fall of our first parents; and which now operates upon their posterity, as it did also upon them, through the medium of their sensorial and intellectual capacities,-now augmented by the consequences of that fall, and by the introduction of those depraved mental states which render the spiritual principle assailable to the influence of sin; or which, in other words, prepare it for listening to the voice of temptation.
Now the simple scriptural truth is, "that every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed." And the sequel is most just: "Then when lust hath conceiveth, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." This, then, is the beautiful explanation of temptation,
against which we are taught to watch and pray. It consists in the supremacy of corrupt principles or passions, propensities or views, called into action by that evil change which has passed upon man, when he fell from his first estate; and which now operates in producing alienation of the heart from God, and rebellion of the will against his holy law. And the gradual increase of this corruption, from the first leaning of the heart towards that which is evil, to its full accomplishment in action; and to its final consummation in the cessation of spiritual life, and the universal devastating reign of spiritual death, are here beautifully pourtrayed. The same cause will operate the perversion of the intellectual faculties, and will explain how error is embraced, and nurtured into prejudice; and why it maintains the human soul divine in a state of darkness and destitution, from which nothing can recal it but the ray of scriptural truth, vivified by the Spirit of the most High God. But this Omnipotent Spirit deigns to employ means; and these will always be consistent with truth, and will ever tend to promote the glory of God, and the good of man: to both of which objects the extension of his knowledge, and the chastened development of his mental powers, seem indispensable; and not less so the government of his heart, and the regulation of his desires by the unerring law of God.
It will not be expected that I should notice the miserable impostures of fortune-telling, casting nativities, and developing the horoscope, or draw aside the veil which invests the whole science of divination and astrology; because these are manifestly the result of evil intention, and cannot, therefore, with propriety be referred to a physical state. We shall therefore pass on to the several points of interest involved in the last object of our attention; namely, the mystery of apparitions: and, in particular, the
question-Can they be explained upon any satisfactory principle?
The more usual forms of alleged supernatural appearance are those in which some deviation from the common processes of nature, as settled by its Divine Author, has been supposed to be produced for the purpose of occasioning a certain spiritual impression; in which individuals, just as they have ceased to live, have presented themselves to others for the purpose of giving an intimation of their death-oftentimes for no conceivable design; and the spectral forms of such are supposed to haunt particular spots, in order to reveal crime, or to give some other important information to the living. Now if we can succeed in shewing that there is a peculiar state of the brain, in which such appearances are not unusual, and that this is a morbid state; if we can shew that this is the result of impending disease, and that it may be produced by the exhibition of certain remedies; if we can further shew, that the anticipated results have not, in every instance, followed; and if we can account for some of the most remarkable instances upon natural principles, we shall not wander far from the truth when we adopt a physical interpretation for these same appearances.
It has sometimes been observed by those who disbelieve in apparitions, and with a kind of triumphant air, that a ghost was never seen by two persons at the same time. But this is no argument; for the very nature of the case supposes that it is a spiritual, not a material existence; and therefore not cognisable by the external senses, but only perceived by the internal. In the very nature of things, therefore, that which is immaterial can only be perceived by the one mind to which it is presented, or to two or more minds, individually acted upon by a similar spiritual agency. In giving up this objection to ghosts, it will however be seen, that this very abandonment of an untenable posi
tion, involves a corollary, fatal to all those relations in which material attributes have been ascribed to them. It will be seen hereafter, that this principle admits of an important application to one of the most frequently quoted histories of appari tions after death; namely, that of Lord Tyrone to Lady Beresford, which will be considered in a future paper. Apparitions are ascribable, in a great number of instances, to trick, and are generally produced for some sinister purpose; and then the science of optics and the resources of chemistry will afford many useful explanations, and will account for a large majority of the most farfamed ghost stories.
But there are many other histories which cannot thus be explained, and which must either be admitted as actual spectral appear ances of a supernatural character, or be considered as physical products, the result of a peculiar morbid state of the brain, which may be traced to irritation of that organ. This peculiar state may be, and indeed frequently is, induced by the pressure of impending disease; and then the supposed appearance will be followed by morbid excitement of the system (febrile action), which is now often ascribed to the influence of emotion excited by the spiritual appearance; whereas, in fact, the subsequent commotion is a mere consequence of the previously disordered state of the brainular function. This peculiar condition of the brain may likewise originate in intense mental emotion, particularly of a depressing character. I shall presently produce examples of these states, always preferring those which have fallen under my own notice.
But before we proceed further, we must add another word, on the subject of spiritual contemplation. It has been said, that an apparition is in fact presented to spiritual contemplation; that it is cognisable by mental perception alone; and that the truth of its existence is based CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 332.
upon this principle, that the idea is conceived in the mind. Dr. Hibbert, on the contrary, says, that it is a renovation of past feelings, with all the energy of truth, and all the vividness of an intensely interested imagination. Neither of these views is quite satisfactory.
It is agreed by all parties, that an apparition has no real and material existence-no flesh and bones; and that, although presented to the eye, and heard by the ear, it yet possesses no tangible substance; that it cannot intercept or transmit, absorb or reflect, the rays of light; and is incapable of producing those atmospherical vibrations, which are necessary for the propagation of sound. It may therefore, in this respect, be said to be an ideal object conceived in the mind, or to be the product of spiritual contemplation. But spiritual contemplation is that process during which the immaterial principle perceives, thinks, reflects, associates, remembers, reasons. Of the nature of spiritual existence, when separated from matter, we know nothing; and of the modes and habits of thought and feeling of pure spirit, wé equally know nothing. Moreover, we become conscious of these operations within ourselves, only through the medium of the brainular organ, -the appointed channel for the manifestations of mind. But if there be any disorder of function on the part of that organ; if it shall have received such a powerful mental emotion as shall have excited it vehemently; or if it shall be suffering from the threatened invasion of impending disease; it will cease to be a perfect medium for conveying the results of spiritual contemplation; the manifestations of mind will be perverted, and spectral illusions will be the result. And this view of the cause will be invariably borne out by the circumstances of the case. Some anxious state, some depressing passion, or some morbid cerebral condition, will have preceded the creation of the apparition. And,