PHILANTHROPIC WORK OF SPIRITS.
Now come to refer to a class of experiences of the most remarkable sort. To go into this with sufficient detail to make the whole matter perfectly clear would necessitate the writing of a small volume. A few years ago there was a famous preacher to the poor in the city of Boston. He and his wife both were particularly interested in those who had few other friends. They used to refer to these people as"my poor." In the old age of this minister he had a colleague. Both he and his colleague were intensely orthodox in their views, and naturally had nothing whatever to do with occult phenomena. After the minister's death, his former parishioners, these poor people, were naturally scattered in different parts of the city. Some of them in course of'time moved to the suburbs and even to other towns farther away. It is a com mon objection brought against these mani festations that they seem matters only to interest the curious, and never show an interest in any serious work of any kind. Now come some hints as to the nature of certain extraordinary facts. I asked the privilege of writing a small book detailing many of these experiences at length some years ago, but received a message, pur porting to come from the other side, for bidding my doing it. The reason given was that it would call attention to what was going on and interfere with the work. The work referred to was like this. For a series of years a loving labour of charity and help was carried on, involving no glory, no notoriety, no publicity, but the opposite. It cost effort and money to carry on this work, and nobody but two or three intimate friends were ever let into the secret. The widow of the col league of this old clergyman was the"medium." She had never herself seen a medium in her life. She had had no thing whatever to do with ordinary spirit ualism, did not believe in it, and in fact was opposed to it. She was, and is still, if living, not only orthodox, but intensely religious in her feelings. Such, then, was the situation. This old clergyman and his wife were the claimed agents in the unseen, who spoke through this widow of his former colleague, and made her their agent in their charitable undertakings. She lived in a town not far from the city of Boston. She would receive orders to go into town to such a street and such a number, and would be told that there she would find such and such person or per sons in such or such a condition, and she was to render them the service that was needed. Cases like this occurred over and over again. She would follow these directions, knowing absolutely nothing about the case except that which had thus been told her, and she said that there was never a mistake made. She always found the person and the condition as they had been described to her, and she did for them what their case required. In one instance she travelled to a city in another State under orders like these, knowing not even the name of the person she was to seek out, except that which had been told her. She found the case, however, as it had been reported, and rendered the called-for assistance. Not all of these were cases of mere physical need. Some of them were instances of rescue from moral peril, the description of which would read like a chapter in a sensational story.
As a part of this general ministry, another happening is worthy of record. The daughter of this old minister received explicit orders, claiming to come from her father and through his colleague's widow as the medium, to enclose twenty dollars in an envelope and send it to another town, directing it to an address of which she had never heard. She hesitated about sending the money in this way, and wanted to wait and get a check so as to avoid risk of loss. She was peremptorily ordered, however, not to wait, as the matter was one of immediate and vital importance. She sent the money as thus directed, two ten-dollar bills. I have had the privilege of reading the letter acknow ledging its receipt. It was written with difficulty and the use of a lead pencil, and the grammar and spelling were poor.
One could, however, almost hear the drip of tears as he read it. It told the story of abuse and desertion on the part of her husband. The forsaken wife had done all she could to keep her little family to gether. She had reached the end of the endeavour, had just pawned her last bit of decent furniture, and with the proceeds had bought some charcoal and was making preparations to go out of the world and take her children with her, when the money arrived.
There is one other incident in the life of this minister's daughter that is import ant enough to set down, although it is not connected with this particular work. This lady lived at the South End in Bos ton. She had a friend, a wealthy widow, living at the Back Bay. This widow was known to a few intimates as possessing psychic sensitiveness, so that she herself received what she claimed to be commun ications from the other world. One of those commonly communicating was the old minister I have referred to, the father of the friend living at the South End. One day there came a note from Beacon Street asking her friend to come and dine with her on the following Monday, as she had many things which she wished to talk over. The South End lady, when she read the note, said to herself: "It is impossible for me to go, for I have an en gagement in another direction at that time." And then the thought coming into her mind, she said to herself;"Now, if father does really communicate with this friend, why cannot he tell her that I am engaged next Monday. If he only would, it would be quite a satisfactory test." Then the matter passed from her mind. The next morning before breakfast she wrote a letter explaining the situation, and gave it to the postman when he called with the mail about eight o'clock. Now, it is possible that this letter might have reached Beacon Street in the twelve o'clock delivery, though, from my experi ence of years with the postal authorities in Boston, I should say that the proba bilities are that it would not arrive before three; but that is of no consequence. Between nine and ten that same morning, the coachman of the friend in Beacon Street appeared with a note which said: "You need not take the trouble to answer my invitation, for your father has been here and has told me that you are engaged next Monday and so cannot dine with me." Here is a little circumstance which has about it one feature which is somewhat unique and so makes it worthy of attention. I was sitting with a friend in my study in Boston. This friend was one of my parishioners, and not a public medium. Indeed, not all of her friends and relatives knew that any of these things occurred in her presence. Generally, the phenomena taking place when she was with me were in the nature of table move ments and automatic writing. On this occasion, however, she went into a trance. Her first husband claimed to be present and speaking through her. I had never known anything about him, so that the messages delivered were for her and not for me. There were a great many, most interesting, and of different kinds. For a special purpose, I select, however, only this one. He said: "You tell her for me that that friend she is expecting to visit her from New York will come on Satur day"; and then he added: "She won't believe that." After she came out of the trance I told her, and she said: "Of course, I don't believe it. It must be a mistake. I know it is not true. I have just had a letter from this friend, and she is not coming until next Monday." The day of this sitting was Wednesday. I knew nothing about either friend or proposed visit. At the end of the sitting she went home, and I thought nothing more about the matter. On Friday, however, I re ceived a note from her saying: "I have just got a letter from my friend in New York, and she has changed all her plans and is coming to-morrow."