« 上一頁繼續 »
THERE is very little reason for writing an intro
duction to a book. The habit had its origin, no doubt, with fastidious formalists, and it were well to honor the custom "in the breach.” To the discriminating reader, who has made up his mind to peruse the work, it is an affront to say, "I am he who has written this volume, and, for fear you may overlook or fail to discover its merits, I will point them out to your obtuse faculties."
If the reader expects me to indulge in such silly clap-trap,” he may as well discover his mistake at
I have written fearlessly of rugged and aggressive facts, which assail Error in high places. For this service, I expect to be defamed. But what of that? Praise and censure alternate in the life of men; but Truth has no variableness or shadow of turning
I have the honor of placing on record some startling and significant phenomena occurring in Modern
Spiritualism, which, to my mind, herald the dawn of a new and important era to the world.
That is why I give them the prominence I do.
What effect this record will have upon the public mind, gives me little concern. Truth has a good character, and can take care of itself. People who entertain opinions which are at all valuable, do not easily part with them; those who have no opinions will hardly be influenced by any thing I have written.
The multitude delegate their thinking to the infallible Pope, the Preacher, the Politician, and the Press. They are in no danger of being misled by this book. The shepherds have an interest in their flock, and will see that none wander from the fold. The pastors will be most disturbed, and make the greatest outcry of “wolf! wolf!" Wrong-doing has made their consciences morbidly sensitive to fear.
The book-critic will say, much of the matter in this volume might have been profitably omitted. I do not share in this opinion ; else the book would not be what it is. All truth is valuable to the world; and were I to suppress a part of it, would I be less than a moral coward, or a panderer to a debauched and ever-changing public sentiment?
As a recorder of facts, I have no discretion but to state them fairly. My business is to arrange them
for the clear inspection of the mind's eye.
If I have failed in this, I sincerely regret my incompetency, and will be a servant to any man who will teach me better. Try it, my master! Let us present all the truth we can to the world; for the tribulation of its great heart has its source in perverted views of life. Every effort we make to dispel error gives a new impulse to social enjoyment, and increases the aggregate stock of human happiness.
Some men have personal opinions; among them, I. These I have expressed, without reserve, throughout this volume. It is of no consequence whether the reader likes them or not. I have not printed them for his approbation, but because they are crystallized. convictions of my mind. . Would you have me write one thing, and think another ? Would you have me preach that which I dare not practice? Make me a slave, but do not teach me to be a villain! Lacerate my back, but do not brook my spirit to falsehood! I am that I am! All men should speak their bravest thoughts in the cause of Truth.
I saw a mob of ten thousand furious men intent upon killing Wendell Phillips in the streets of Boston. It was composed of the unripe, rotten sons of those miscreants who had mobbed Garrison a score of years before, and who later signified their willingness to put an iron hook into the jaws of The
odore Parker. They wanted to kill Phillips because he pronounced the Press and Pulpit the servile echoes of the mob, and both a degradation and disgrace to the civilization of the age.
First, they attempted to suppress his fearless speech in Music Hall; but, writhing under the torture of his incisive lampoons, they rushed howling to the streets, brandishing their weapons of murder in the sunlight of a Summer Sabbath-day. Here, too, the eloquent defender of free speech met the “mayor's mob;" and how nobly he vindicated the right of every man to be heard in the defense of Truth, is matter of history.
Personal security is no longer imperiled by speaking and writing the truth. When physical slavery was abolished in this country, the mental condition of all men, white and black, became improved. The Proclamation of Freedom had a more comprehensive application to human needs than Mr. Lincoln intended. He wrote “wiser than he knew," and urged the race to a step forward which can never be retraced.
Neither mobs nor public opinion are now regarded as the exponents of God's eternal verities. The stake, the halter, and the wheel no longer intimidate men from speaking the truth. Times have changed, and men change with the times,
Not many years ago a work of this character would have been esteemed heretical-the penalty of which, let the pure spirit of MICHAEL SERVETUS, from his sublime abode, declare. Even now, it is by no means certain “Helvetic divines" have become an extinct race. They exist in the spirit of every sect, and would, were they not impotent in power, prescribe burning as a remedy for all heresy or infidelity to their dogmas. As it is, they content themselves by consigning all dissentients to posthumous roasting.