The Great Controversy, by Ellen G. White, , at sacred-texts.com
I saw the rapping delusion. Satan has power to bring the appearance of forms before us purporting to be our relatives and friends that now sleep in Jesus. It will be made to appear as if they were present, the words they uttered while here, which we were familiar with, will be spoken, and the same tone of voice which they had while living will fall upon the ear. All this is to deceive the world, and ensnare them into the belief of this delusion.
I saw that the saints must have a thorough understanding of the present truth, which they will have to maintain from the Scriptures. They must understand the state of the dead; for the spirits of devils will yet appear to them, professing to be beloved friends and relatives, who will declare to them unscriptural doctrines. They will do all in their power to excite sympathy, and work miracles before them, to confirm what they declare. The people of God must be prepared to withstand these spirits with the Bible truth that the dead know not anything, and that they are the spirits of devils.
I saw that we must examine well the foundation of our hope, for we shall have to give a reason for it from the Scriptures; for we shall see this delusion spreading, and we shall have to contend with it face to face. And unless we are prepared for it, we shall be ensnared and overcome. But if we do what we can on our part to be ready for the conflict that is just before us, God will do his part, and his all-powerful arm will protect us. He would sooner send every angel out of glory to make a hedge about faithful souls, than that they should be deceived and led away by the lying wonders of Satan.
I saw the rapidity with which this delusion was spreading. A train of cars was shown me, going with the speed of lightning. The angel bade me look carefully. I fixed my eyes upon the train. It seemed that the whole world was on board. Then he showed me the conductor, who looked like a stately fair person, whom all the passengers looked up to and reverenced. I was perplexed, and asked my attending angel who it was. Said he, It is Satan. He is the conductor in the form of an angel of light. He has taken the world captive. They are given over to strong delusions, to believe a lie that they may be damned. His agent, the next highest in order to him, is the engineer, and others of his agents are employed in different offices as he may need them, and they are all going with lightning speed to perdition. I asked the angel if there were none left. He bade me look in an opposite direction, and I saw a little company traveling a narrow pathway. All seemed to be firmly united, and bound together by the truth.
This little company looked care-worn, as though they had passed through severe trials and conflicts. And it seemed as if the sun had just appeared from behind the cloud, and shone upon their countenances, and caused them to look triumphant, as though their victories were nearly won.
I saw that the Lord had given the world opportunity to discover the snare. This one thing was evidence enough for the Christian if there were no other. There is no difference made between the precious and the vile.
Thomas Paine, whose body has mouldered to dust, and who is to be called forth at the end of the 1000 years, at the second resurrection, to receive his reward, and suffer the second death, is purported by Satan to be in heaven, and highly exalted there. Satan used him on earth as long as he could, and now he is carrying on the same work through pretensions of having Thomas Paine so much exalted and honored; and as he taught on earth, Satan is making it appear that he is teaching in heaven. And some on earth who have looked with horror at his life and death, and his corrupt teachings while living, now submit to be taught by him who was one of the vilest and most corrupt of men; one who despised God and his law.
He who is the father of lies, blinds and deceives the world by sending his angels forth to speak for apostles, and make it appear that they contradict what they wrote when on earth, which was dictated by the Holy Ghost. These lying angels make the apostles to corrupt their own teachings and declare them to be adulterated. By so doing he can throw professed Christians, who have a name to live and are dead, and all the world, into uncertainty about the word of God; for that cuts directly across his track, and is likely to thwart his plans. Therefore he gets them to doubt the divine origin of the Bible, and then sets up the infidel Thomas Paine, as though he was ushered into heaven when he died, and with the holy apostles whom he hated on earth, is united, and appears to be teaching the world.
Satan assigns each one of his angels their part to act. He enjoins upon them to be cunning, artful and sly. He instructs some of them to act the part of the apostles, and speak for them, while others are to act out infidels and wicked men who died cursing God, but now appear to be very religious. There is no difference made between the most holy apostles and the vilest infidel. They are both made to teach the same thing. It matters not who Satan makes to speak, if his object is only accomplished. He was so intimately connected with Paine upon earth, and so aided him, that it is an easy thing for him to know the very words he used, and the very hand-writing of one of his devoted children who served him so faithfully, and accomplished his purposes so well. Satan dictated much of his writings, and it is an easy thing for him to dictate sentiments through his angels now, and make it appear that it comes through Thomas Paine, who was his devoted servant while he lived. But this is the masterpiece of Satan. All this teaching purporting to be from apostles, and saints, and wicked men who have died, comes directly from his Satanic majesty.
This should be enough to remove the vail from every mind and discover unto all the dark, mysterious works of Satan; -- that he has got one whom he loved so well, and who hated God so perfectly, with the holy apostles and angels in glory: virtually saying to the world and infidels, No matter how wicked you are; no matter whether you believe in God or the Bible, or disbelieve; live as you please, heaven is your home; -- for everyone knows that if Thomas Paine is in heaven, and so exalted, they will surely get there. This is so glaring that all may see if they will. Satan is doing now what he has been trying to do since his fall, through individuals like Thomas Paine. He is, through his power and lying wonders, tearing away the foundation of the Christians' hope, and putting out their sun that is to lighten them in the narrow way to heaven. He is making the world believe that the Bible is no better than a story-book, uninspired, while he holds out something to take its place; namely, Spiritual Manifestations!
Here is a channel wholly devoted to himself, under his control, and he can make the world believe what he will. The Book that is to judge him and his followers, he puts back into the shade, just where he wants it. The Saviour of the world he makes to be no more than a common man; and as the Roman guard that watched the tomb of Jesus, spread the false and lying report that the chief priests and elders put in their mouth, so will the poor, deluded followers of these pretended spiritual manifestations, repeat, and try to make it appear, that there is nothing miraculous about our Saviour's birth, death and resurrection; and they put Jesus with the Bible, back into the shade, where they want him, and then get the world to look to them and their lying wonders and miracles, which they declare far exceed the works of Christ. Thus the world is taken in the snare, and lulled to security; not to find out their awful deception, until the seven last plagues are poured out. Satan laughs as he sees his plan succeed so well, and the whole world in the snare.
See Ecclesiastes 9:5; John 11:1-45; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; Revelation 13:3-14