Historical Reprints Mysteries Fiends, Ghosts, and Sprites

Fiends, Ghosts, and Sprites

Fiends, Ghosts, and Sprites
Catalog # SKU3749
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name John Netten Radcliffe
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Ghosts, and Sprites

The Origin and Nature of
Belief In The Supernatural.

John Netten Radcliffe

A belief in the supernatural has existed in all ages and among all nations. To trace the origin of this belief, the causes of the various modifications it has undergone, and the phases it has assumed, is, perhaps, one of the most interesting researches to which the mind can be given,-interesting, inasmuch as we find pervading every part of it the effects of those passions and affections which are most powerful and permanent in our nature.

Print size, 13 point font



So general is the belief in a supreme and over-ruling Power, possessing attributes altogether different from and superior to human powers, and bending these and the forces of nature to its will, that the thought has been entertained by many that it is inborn in man. Such a doctrine is, however, refuted by an acquaintance with the inlets and modes of obtaining knowledge; by the fact that reason is necessary to its discovery; and by its uselessness.

"There are neither innate ideas nor innate propositions; but there is an innate power of understanding that shows itself in primitive notions, which, when put into speech, are expressed in propositions, which propositions, decomposed, produce, under the influence of abstraction and analysis, distinct ideas."

Others have asserted and maintained that man derives his knowledge of the existence of Deity, and, consequently, of the supernatural, from the exercise of reason upon himself and his own powers by self-reflection. If he reflects upon the wonderful power of liberty and free-will which he possesses, on his relation to surrounding beings and things, and particularly on his imperfect, limited, and finite powers, it is argued that the antithetical proposition of infinite must of necessity be admitted. "I cannot have the idea of the finite and of imperfection without having that of perfection and of infinite. These two ideas are logically correlative."

Or if man extends his reasoning powers to the study or the contemplation "of the beauty, the order, the intelligence, the wisdom, and the perfection displayed throughout the universe; and as there must of necessity be in the cause what is witnessed in the effect, you reason from nature to its author, and from the existence of the perfection of the one you conclude the existence and perfection of the other."

But many theologists maintain that the knowledge of a Deity, and of the existence of supernatural beings, is derived solely from revelation; and stern and prolonged have been the struggles in this country between the upholders of the rival tenets.

That no idea of a Deity, such as that which the Christian entertains, is to be found among the vague and undefined notions of supernatural power which are contained in the mythologies of pagan nations; that even the conceptions of Plato are to be summed up in the phrase "the unknown God;" and that the perfect idea of the Godhead is to be derived solely from Scripture, can be satisfactorily shown. But the conclusion sought to be established from this, that all our ideas of the supernatural are derived from this source, does not necessarily follow.

The postulate that man can derive a knowledge of the supernatural from the exercise of his mental powers alone, cannot either be affirmed or denied, but it is not improbable.

Perhaps the nearest approach to correctness which we are as yet capable of on this subject is as follows:-

After the creation of man, God revealed himself. The perfect knowledge of the Deity thus obtained, was perpetuated by a fragment of the human race, notwithstanding the baneful effects of the fall; and at the epoch of the deluge, the solitary family which escaped that mighty cataclysm, formed a centre from which anew the attributes and powers of the Godhead were made known in all their truth and purity. But again sin prevailed, and with the exception of one race, who alone treasured the true knowledge of the Deity, mankind lost by degrees the pure faith of their fathers; and as they receded from the light, the idea of the Godhead became obscured, and in the progress of time well nigh lost, and the vague and imperfect ideas of a supernatural Power derived from tradition, prompted to a terror and awe of some invisible yet mighty influence, unknown and inexplicable, but which was manifested to man in the more striking objects and the incomprehensible phenomena of nature, which were regarded and worshipped as the seats of this unknown Power, forming the substratum of those wonderful systems of mythology which have characterised successive eras and races.

"Once," writes Plato, referring to the earlier traditions of the Greeks, "one God governed the universe; but a great and extraordinary change taking place in the nature of men and things, infinitely for the worse (for originally there was perfect virtue and perfect happiness on earth), the command then devolved on Jupiter, with many inferior deities to preside over different departments under him."

200 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover

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