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some occasion which would be of sufficient importance to account for such a deviation. In the moral government of the universe, we find the same employment of moral means. The moral law is promulgated as the will of God for the guidance of his creatures; and grace and strength are promised to those who seek them; the Holy Spirit to those who ask; the power and blessing of the Most High to such as diligently wait upon him in the way of his appointment. Then again, a great reward is promised to the righteous, to those who keep his laws, not as an act of merit, but as they are enabled to do so by the grace and strength vouchsafed in the employment of the prescribed means. The mansions of the blessed are prepared for those who hear the voice of the Great Shepherd, obey and follow him: the crown of glory is given to him that overcometh; the welcome reception of "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," is reserved for those who had given food to the hungry, and drink to the thirsty, and had received the strangers and the houseless, clothed the naked, visited and succoured the sick and the wretched, and had extended aid to every form of misery, not simply to that which obtruded itself upon their notice, but which was by circumstances concealed from view. "Inasmuch as ye have done it," says Christ, "unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Again, those who appear with white robes, with palms in their hands, are they "who have come out of much tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple." God is a God of love, infinite in compassion, and of tender mercy; his invitations and urgent entreaties to sinners to turn unto him are unbounded. But in all these instances

an appeal is made to the moral constitution of man's mind. And it is evident, that the Almighty longsuffering Jehovah sees fit to act rather upon the hopes than the fears of his creatures, so that the denunciations of his vengeance are only upon the finally impenitent. Yet no mention is made of supernatural agency; of deviations from the ordinary course of nature or the revealed will of God; or of spiritual influence, except through the medium of moral means, and providential circumstances. It is upon these that the mind should be fixed for the purpose of extracting a lesson of usefulness: here are to be found every where, the traces of a Supreme and Superintending Power of infinite goodness, and wisdom, and mercy; it is here that the ways of God to man are justified, and that he is left without excuse, if he refuses to receive Christ, and to obey his laws; whereas, if the reins be once given to imagination, every kind of alleged supernatural influence must be admitted, every variety of vision, all the Protean forms of dreaming, every supposed apparition, all the voices that have ever been heard, all the chosen offspring of enthusiasm, all the unexplained lights and shades, all the contentions of good and evil spirits for the mastery, and every other creation of superstition must be received as spiritual agents; the mind is lost in the wildest and most unlimited speculation; and, to say the very least, it has no means of judging whether the apparition has been produced to answer a good end, or only to deceive through the malignant influence of the arch-fiend. Besides, so many instances have occurred in which no conceivable good could have been produced, that we are justified, even on this ground, in believing that such supernatural agency, or rather supposed agency, is inconsistent with the ordinary course of God's most perfect Providence, and therefore is not lightly to be believed. When, moreover, a

1829.]

Essay on Superstition.

natural explanation can be found,
for that which is not conceivable
without much difficulty upon any
other principle, it is the duty of the
Christian, humbly to accept such
explanation; especially when it
offers a beautiful exposition of how
far the spiritual principle is modi-
fied in its manifestations, by the
debasing influence of that primæval
Fall, which separated man from his
Maker, and occasioned the loss of
the image of God upon his heart,
far
gone
by which he became "very
from original righteousness," and
"the servant of sin."

So far then from impugning the
wisdom, restraining the power, or
limiting the agency of Omnipo-
tence, by withdrawing it from the
shadowy wand of superstition, his
perfect knowledge, and his holy
operation, are vindicated from the
unhallowed creations of mortality;
the vagaries of imagination are dis-
tinguished from the suggestion of
his Spirit; the influence of the
Word of God, and of that unwritten
word which is found in the heart
and conscience of every man, is
defined and separated from those
words, and that influence, which
result from a disordered state of the
animal fibre. Hope and fear, joy
and sorrow, desire and love, obe-
dience and transgression, are snatch-
ed from the dominion of superna-
tural influence, and are placed on
a just basis; namely, the grace
of God which bringeth salvation
through our Lord Jesus Christ, re-
vealed to us by his word, and by
his providence, and received or
In fact,
rejected by the sinner.
they only impugn the power of
Omnipotence who question the
agency upon spiritual mind, of its
organic medium of manifestation;
and who doubt, nay deny, that
disorder of this material medium
may be, or rather must be, followed
by defective, or excessive, or per-
verted manifestation; who deny in
fact, that primary or sympathetic
irritation of the brain is insufficient
to account for the appearances in

question; as if it was not in the
power of Almighty God, to make
as it hath pleased him an organ
for this very purpose, and for the
reception and communication of
moral cause and effect. Let the
humble and sincere Christian con-
stantly lift his heart in adoration
and gratitude to that beneficent
Creator and Lawgiver, who pre-
serves from disorder a function of
such exquisite delicacy, and pos-
sessed of such fearful interest.

The influence of the nitrous-
oxigen gas has been alluded to in
this discussion, and it has been re-
presented as capable of producing
a state of the cerebral system, pe-
culiarly favourable to the production
of so-called apparitions. And this
is true to a certain extent, inasmuch
as it occasions that incipient morbid
action which has been shewn to be
prolific of spectral visions and ima-
ginings: but the more important
truth has not been mentioned;
namely, that the effect of this article
varies according to the peculiarity
of physical temperament, or to the
varying condition of that tempera
ment at the moment.
affords an excellent exposition of
two principles; first, as to the crea-
tion of apparitions, and unreal
images, from a cause operating ex-
clusively on the brain and nervous
system; and next, that the specific
character of these images, arising
from the same source of cerebral
irritation, will vary according to the
expression of predominant consti-
tution; or to its fluctuating state at
the time of receiving the morbid
stimulus; nay more, that, the pecu.
liar temperament of the individual
being given, the precise effect may
be calculated beforehand.

Thus it

Now the effect of inhaling the nitrous oxygen gas will differ upon half a dozen specimens of the same One shall be outcreature, man. rageously joyous and happy; another shall be excited to the most incredible muscular efforts, till he sinks subdued by exhaustion; a third shall exhibit the common

symptoms of intoxication, after the first effects of alcoholic stimulus have passed; a fourth will lose all power of volition and apparent consciousness, will seem abstracted from this world, and will tell of blissful visions; and a fifth will sink into a state of stupid reverie, from which it is impossible to recal him, and from which he wakens in total oblivion of the interval between inhaling the gas, and his return to consciousness; and all these varying effects will have been produced in a few seconds.

Moreover, in all these variations of morbid action, there may be, according to the peculiar excitation or depression of the brainular system, the creation of unreal images or apparitions, which shall be presented to the patient with all the energy and vividness of truth. And further, this state is exceedingly transient, and will soon give way to a languid condition arising from the feebleness consequent upon morbid excitement; and presently, to the resumption of the usual mental manifestations. But, if we trace all these effects to the influence of one physical agent operating upon the brain, and if we know that there are others of a similar, though not identical nature, it is not difficult to conceive that there may be other morbid states which will concur in the production of this particular influence. We shall here mention an illustration or two of this position.

C. D. had been taking the extract of belladona (deadly nightshade), for a painful affection of the nerves of the face. After a few doses had been exhibited, I was surprised one morning, on finding this lady conducted into the room by her servant, because she could not see the pupil of her eye was dilated to the utmost, the retina paralysed, and natural vision de stroyed. Yet in this case, varying forms of exceeding loveliness and beauty in quick and rapid succession, were presented to the mental

contemplation. This effect was transient, and soon gave way to appropriate treatment; and moreover, my patient was a lady of great intelligence, and was aware of the cause of these appearances: but had she possessed a contracted mind, or been ignorant or doubtful as to the physical influence under which she laboured, the apparitions would have been pronounced supernatural; and the simplest accidental brainular phenomena would have been dignified with an importance, which ought in justice to be reserved for proper occasions, but which in this case would have been constituted an object of superstitious hope, or fear, or reverence, according to the peculiar physical temperament of the patient, and the coincident predominance of cheerful, gloomy, or serious modes and habits of thought and action. Finally, let it be remarked, that in proportion as this morbid state subsided, the visions disappeared, and were completely gone when the optic nerve had thoroughly regained its power.

E. F., under the influence of stramonium, related to me the delight he had experienced from the cessation of pain, under its soothing agency, but detailed, as a great inconvenience attending its employment, the numberless and grotesque forms and images with which he had been assailed during the night; these having become onerous from their constant repetition, and often disagreeable from their horrible grimaces. A similar effect has been observed from digitalis, aconite, solanum tuberosum, hyosciamus, opium, and other narcotic medicines. With regard to opium, its influence in the production of unreal images of persons and things, has been well described in the "Confessions of an Opium Eater;" a little pamphlet, which, with much to blame, and much that his fanciful, enthusiastic, and sinister about it, possesses the merit of being for the most part true to nature, and particularly as it respects the unreal world, into which

the miserable patient is supposed to have been plunged by its operation. The case of G. H. is an example of a very frequent state, that of a young person in the last stage of consumption, who on her death-bed became the subject of many blissful visions, when under the influence of the physical effects of opium. It has been before remarked, how greatly the associated manifestations of mind are characterized by the peculiar organ which forms the point of irritation to the brain; and it has been mentioned, that in consumption of the lungs the passion of hope generally predominates, and clings to the patient, even to the last expiring gasp, if the morbid actions be confined to that viscus; and then it is, that an excited state of the brain will occasion the production of angelic forms which would have been exchanged for, or associated with, demons or other apparitions of terrific mien, had the stomach or liver been the primary source of mischief, or had disorder of these latter organs been combined with disease of the former. The case just referred to was as cribed to supernatural spiritual agency; but it had clearly a bodily origin, and should have no weight with us in forming our estimate of the character, or in drawing our inferences of support under the trying circumstances of dissolution. The excellence of a truly consistent, and eminently pious, though highly sus ceptible, and perhaps enthusiastic patient, who "being dead, yet speaketh," will afford to surviving mourners a more substantial ground of consolation, than the questionable manifestations of mind, under the influence of organic irritation, failing power, and medicinal agency.

A somewhat analogous instance is related in "Past Feelings renovated," as an extract from "Foreign Scenes and Travelling Recreations," by Mr. Howison, in which the extraordinary state of the nervous system is traced to the influence of tobacco fumes; and this is folCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 333.

lowed by the history of a German student, who voluntarily subjected himself to the agency of hemlock, foxglove, deadly nightshade, and other narcotic herbs, for the purpose of obtaining the enjoyments arising from the "flood of ideas and images of the most vivid, wonderful, and tremendous description ;" which resulted, as he supposed, from having "partaken of a superhuman state of existence," but, in reality, from irritation of the brain.

Only let these facts be duly and dispassionately weighed, and it will be impossible to resist the conclusion, that alleged supernatural appearances and yisions may be produced by the employment of medicine, occasioning a peculiar influence upon the brain; this action partaking of the nature of disease,— in other words, becoming cerebral irritation. But if so, it will follow, that many phenomena usually ascribed to spiritual agency may be more correctly shewn to be depending upon a peculiar condition of the body, especially of the brain. Nor is this extraordinary for since this viscus is the appointed organ for the manifestion of mind; since, as such, it is subjected to the general laws affecting organic life; since sin introduced death, and therefore, also that state of disease which, by its slow and successive accumulations, leads. to the dissolution of life; since general death results from the prior decease of one particular organ, which associates with itself all the other organs of the body; and since the death of every one organ of the body will always be preceded by primary or sympathetic irritation of that viscus, it will follow that every morbid state is really a result of the sad change which has passed upon all men; and that morbid state affecting the organ of mind, will disturb its functions, so that the manifestations of the brightest intellect, or of the holiest soul, may be impeded, deranged, suspended, or stopped in death, by the irritation of its material medium of communication, 3 Z

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X. Y. Z. about two years since became the subject of moral causes, which harassed him exceedingly, and which for a considerable time kept up continual irritation of the brain. He wanted peace of spirit, and his health was undermined. It should be premised, that X. Y. Z., though perhaps what the world might not term a very faulty cha racter, was at this time very far below the standard of Christian morality, and that in fact much of his present annoyance arose out of his neglect of the commands of God involving him in situations of difficulty. One night, after retiring to rest, with these disturbing causes weighing upon his mind, and also certainly not well, he was awakened by the impression of hearing a conversation in the next house, which related to himself, and to the peculiar object of his lengthened solicitude; these also were associated with circumstances of a highly distressing character. He endeavoured, by getting up, to ascertain the truth of his impression: all was quiet in the next house, and the stillness of night rested upon its inhabitants; he returned to bed, but again heard the same voices. The remainder of the night was passed in no very enviable condition, and he went to his duties in the morning. As the day wore away, and he was about to return to his abode, the voices became loud, and threatening destruction to himself; so that he was afraid of returning home, lest he should have been torn in pieces: his head felt as if on fire; and finally, in order to escape from these supposed enemies, he fled into the country, and wandered the whole night through the fields, and returned to the town where he dwelt, the next or the following day, but not to his own home; he obtained a lodging for the night elsewhere. Before the usual hour of rising in the morning, these voices informed him that the house

of a friend was to be burned down, and he hastened with all the cagerness of irresistible impulse to acquaint him with the event. Here, however, he was kindly taken care of, and the attack subsided in a few days.

At this time, X. Y. Z. was not under the influence of religious motive or impression; and indeed, as has been stated, his conduct was not strictly consistent even with the outward requirements of the Decalogue. A little afterwards, and when again he was conscious of being more particularly poorly, he took a walk to

At

(I suppress particular references), and was hurried into the fields by an impulse he knew not how to controul. Here a voice proclaimed to him as from the clouds, that the millennial reign of Christ on earth had commenced, and that in that very spot the city of redemption would be built. this time, he saw the forms of many whom he believed to be the happy spirits of the dead. He was directed to kneel down and say his prayers, which he did. He was told to be charitable, and he obeyed this command by indiscriminately giving away the money he had in his pocket, to a crowd of persons upon the road, which his extraordinary manner had gathered round him. On the same occasion, he was directed to repair to a heath at some distance from his abode, to meet the spirit of his father, at eleven o'clock that night. He attended also to this summons, but when there, he began to consider the lateness of the hour, and that he would be unable to return to his lodgings, and must pass the night upon the heath; and the voice told him it was enough, and that he might return home.

At another time, he was told to read his Bible, to go to church, and to be more attentive to religious duties, and he was so for a short time only; for this effect soon passed away.

On a late occasion, he again heard the voice as from heaven, assuring

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