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Spiritualism and Capital Punishment

The Mediums of Boston

[Spiritual Scientist Volume 1 December 10, 1874]




Suppose an individual should say, "I will become a candid investigator of Spiritualism, and visit the prominent spiritual mediums of Boston for this purpose,"--what would be the result? We thought this would be an interesting record, and shall present such an experience. The first of a series is published this week. The medium visited was Miss Nickerson,--this name being selected by chance. There are several others already in manuscript. The articles will become more interesting as they proceed; for the investigator will undoubtedly meet with some of the "mysteries of spirit control," which he will endeavor to harmonize or explain.


It is a singular fact,--the reader may call it a coincidence if he will, but nevertheless it is a fact patent to every close observer,--that murders and suicides at times seem epidemic. Read of one suicide and frequently it will be followed by another. So with murders: several will be chronicled in quick succession, then follows a brief respite.
Now, can we deduce from this a theory or philosophy? Is it cause and effect? One thing is noticeable,--public opinion, when once aroused, checks the frequency of these occurrences. Public sentiment says, "Thou shall do no murder." It runs through the community, and every member shares its electric influence. Spiritualists would say they are then in a positive condition, or averse to any murderous influences or feelings.
Obviously the reverse of this is the negative condition when the majority neither think nor care about those things which do not concern them directly. This negative condition is receptive, and conducive to general crime.
"Murder is in the air," is an expression, at times, with the reporters of the press,--or at least used to be. Inquest would follow murder, and murder inquest, again and again, before a trial could be finished on the first case. The columns of a daily would bear evidence to this fact for weeks at a time, and then months would go by without either a murder or a suicide.
We never could understand why this should be so, until we became somewhat familiar with Spiritualism. Is it at all unreasonable to believe that there are influences in the surroundings of an individual which draw round him closer and closer until the fatal blow is struck? Well may one say, who has witnessed the genuine surprise and remorse of a murderer, as he learns of the death of his victim, "Queer case."
And so these queer cases will continue to start up and horrify the community, or the world at large, until they become familiar with that philosophy which teaches that the spirit of man is untouched by the action of death: that the spiritual existence is an unbroken continuity of the present. Then will they see the truth of the statement, "Man in his lifetime is an omnibus carrying many passengers." Then will they believe that the spirit of the murderer, set free by the gallows, is not sent out of his relationship with this sphere, but can aid and abet, nay, worse, even instigate, a murder.
Spiritualists believe this; they arrive at such a conclusion by a logical train of reasoning. Theoretically, one premature death affects the whole world. They should therefore enter their protests against capital punishment. In justice to the man, in justice to themselves, in justice to the world, they should not hesitate to say that capital punishment is unwise, and retards the progress of society as a whole.
We record this as our belief,--That the old Mosaic laws should be superseded by Christian philosophy.
[Better yet--one must study Theosophical ideals to understand what happens to victims who die prematurely.]
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