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This is certainly the only explanation that will harmonize all the alleged facts and give coherency and consistency to the Old Testament accounts of the intercourse of God with man during the Mosaic dispensation. The same hypothesis applies with equal force to the intercourse of God with the prophets and seers, from the days of Abraham to the advent of Jesus of Nazareth.
Studied from this point of view, the facts related will be found to be illustrative of the principles and laws which modern scientific research has brought to light. As I have before remarked, the Old Testament is a record of most remarkable psychic experiences, a vast storehouse of misinterpreted and wrongly classified psychic facts. But, as I shall attempt to show in the ensuing chapters, they are facts which, properly classified and intelligently appreciated, are of the most transcendent interest and importance to mankind.
ANCIENT PSYCHIC PHENOMENA (continued).
The Prophets of Israel. - Elisha's Methods.
- He saves the Three Kings. Human Characteristics of Elisha's God. - The Evolution of the Monotheistic Idea through Psychic Phenomena. · The First Conception of the Idea of a Living God. - The Evolution of the Spiritual Man. - The First Great Step through Psychic Phenomena. The Jewish Origin of Monotheism - The God of Abraham. - The Dispensation of Moses. The Second Great Step in the Evolution of the Spiritual Man.- The Decalogue. The Influence of Egyptian Civilization. — The Wisdom of Moses. Egyptian Ethics and the Jewish Religion. - The Progress of the Prophets reflected in their Conception of the Character of God. - Isaiah's God no longer the God of Israel alone.
AVING now briefly adverted to a series of psychic phenomena recorded in the Pentateuch, it remains to note the continuation of the same through the prophets who succeeded Moses. It is undeniable that the phenomena exhibited by the prophets were the same as those of Moses in all essential particulars. They were dominated by the same beliefs, or suggestions, and the resultant manifestations necessarily corresponded, modified only by their different environment and the natural development and progress of the human mind. That the prophets were psychics, is undeniable. Even the methods sometimes employed by them in entering the psychical condition were identical with those often required by the modern psychic when preparing for some signal demonstration.
A striking illustration of this fact is found in the séance which the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom had with the prophet Elisha. The King of Moab, who had formerly been tributary to the King of Israel, had rebelled. The latter had formed an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the Kings of Judah and Edom for the purpose of bringing the King of Moab to terms. On their march through the wilderness of Edom towards the land of the Moabites, they found themselves in a region that was devoid of water wherewith to water their stock. In this condition it became evident to them that they would soon fall an easy prey to the King of Moab. In this strait "the King of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab."
"But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him? And one. of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha, the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.'
Accordingly the three kings sought out Elisha, who, after making some disparaging remarks concerning the King of Israel, consented to do as requested for the sake of Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah.
"But now," continued the prophet, "bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
"And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches." 2
The point to be noted in the foregoing is that, on this great occasion, when the fate of three kingdoms trembled in the balance, Elisha deemed it essential that he should have the aid of music to enable him to enter the subjective state and successfully invoke the name of the Lord. It is needless to remark that it was precisely the condition often 1 2 Kings iii. 10, 11. 2 Op. cit., v. 15, 16.
required by the modern psychic to enable him to enter into communication with spirits of the dead for the purpose of obtaining their advice in cases of emergency.
It is also worthy of note that the "control" of Elisha recommended a very common-sense plan for obtaining water, namely, digging for it, since the "probabilities" did not promise rain in time to relieve the distress of the three armies.
What follows is illustrative of the essentially human and emotional character of Elisha's God,
"And this [finding water] is but a little thing in the sight of the Lord; he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.
"And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones."
And it was so. Now, the prophets of Israel were undoubtedly the best men of that race. They it was who constantly enforced the monotheistic idea, and thus saved Israel from lapsing into idolatry. The hereditary priesthood represented the religion of the time in its external forms and ordinances. They were the guardians of its organization and its ritual. The predilection which the people evinced for ritual and ceremonial worship often betrayed them into acts of idolatry; that is to say, into the worship of other gods besides Jehovah. It was the prophets alone who constantly resisted this tendency towards polytheism on the part of the priesthood and the people. This conflict was carried on in a more or less pronounced form from the time of Moses to the time of Jesus; and to the successful resistance of the prophets to the insidious inroads of polytheism into the religion of the Jewish nation, is due the final triumph of Christianity.
1 Op. cit., v. 18, 19.
It will thus be seen that it is to psychic phenomena that the world owes its first conception of a living God. The fact that the phenomena were grossly misinterpreted does not militate against the truth of this proposition. Its very nature was necessarily conducive to monotheism. Originating in the subjective mind of the psychic, it was inevitable that it should develop the emotional characteristics peculiar to the subjective mind. One of the most pronounced of these characteristics, when it is not under the intelligent control of the objective mind, is that of monumental egotism. This emotion is developed in a more or less pronounced form in every phenomenal manifestation of subjective activity. The inevitable result was that, when once the idea was suggested that the source of the communications which were received by the psychics of the Mosaic Age was none other than the Deity himself, the character of the communications corresponded exactly to the psychic's conception of the character of God. That the first assumption should be that it was the greatest and most powerful of all the gods, was inevitable, especially when the psychic was imbued with the idea of a plurality of gods. The Jews, in common with all surrounding nations and peoples, were imbued with that idea. Idolatry and polytheism were everywhere dominant. The gods of other nations, however, were purely objective conceptions, and were represented by material objects of worship.
The God of the Jews, on the other hand, was evolved from the subjective intelligence of the seer by means of psychic manifestations. Just how the suggestion originated that the intelligence manifested in the phenomena was from God, must forever remain in obscurity; nor is the question of any great importance. That it originated with the Jews at a very early period of their national existence, is sufficiently
1 For a full discussion of the distinctive characteristics of the subjective mind, see "The Law of Psychic Phenomena."