[I was not content, and took time to consider what had
been written. It was very contrary to any opinions I then held, but I was
conscious of an extremely powerful and elevating influence during the time the
writing was going on. I wished to get rid of the influence before I replied.
On the following day I had an opportunity of resuming
my argument. I objected to what had been said, that such a creed would not be
acknowledged as Christian by any member of a Christian Church, that it was
contradictory to the plain words of the Bible; and that such views appeared even
to be the subject of special denunciation as those of Anti-Christ. Moreover, I
suggested that such vaguely beautiful views, as I admitted them to be, had a
tendency to take the backbone out of faith. It was replied:--]
Friend, you have opened points on which we shall be glad to speak with you.
As to our authority, we have touched on that point before. We claim it to be
devine, and we await with confidence the acceptance of our mission when the
times are ripe for our teaching. That time must come after much steady
preparation, and we are quite prepared to find that none can yet accept in full
the teaching which we promulgate, save the little band to whom it is given to
precede in progressive knowledge the rest of their fellows. We say that this
does not strike us with surprise. For, think! has it ever been that a fuller
revelation has found acceptance among men at once? The ignorant cry has always
been raised against progress in knowledge that the old is sufficient: that it
has been proven and tried; whilst of the new, men say that they know nothing
save that it is new and contradictory of the old. It was the self-same
cry that assailed Jesus. Men who had laboriously elaborated the Mosaic theology,
which had served its time, and was to give place to a higher and more spiritual
religion: men who had drawn out the minutiae of this system until they had
reduced it to an aimless mass of ritual, a body without a spirit, aye, a corpse
without life: these cried out that this blasphemer (so they impiously called the
Saviour of man's religion) would destroy the law and dishonour God. The Scribes
and Pharisees, the guardians of orthodox religion, were unanimous in their
disbelief of Him and of His pretentions. It was they who raised the howl which
finally led the Great Teacher to the Cross. You know now that He did not
dishonour God: and that He did but demolish man's glosses on God's revealed law
in order that He might refine and spiritualise its commands, and raise if from
the dead by infusing into it spiritual life and power, by breathing into it
vitality and giving it renewed vigour.
In place of the cold and cheerless letter of the law which prescribed outward
duty to a parent--a duty discharged without love, with scanty dole grudgingly
offered,--He taught the spirit of filial affection springing from a loving
heart, and offering the unbought and ungrudged tribute of affection to earthly
parents and to the Great Father. The formalism of mere external conventionality
He replaced by the free-will offering of the heart. Which was the truer, the
nobler creed? Did the latter override the former, or did it not stand to it
rather as the living man to the breathless corpse? Yet they who were content to
buy off from filial duty at the poor cost of a few paltry coins scornfully given
were they who finally crucified the Christ, as a man who taught a new religion
blashphemously subversive of the old. The scene at Calvary was the fitting
culmination to such a religion.
Again, when the followers of the Crucified stood forth to declare their
gospel to a world that cared not for it, and which was not prepared to receive
it, the charge against them perpetually was that they taught new doctrine which
was subversive of the old faith. Men taxed their ingenuity to discover horrible
accusations which they might charge upon them. They found nothing too monstrous
to be delivered by those who were eager to credit any accusation of the new
faith which "Everywhere was spoken against." They were lawless; yet so rigidly
respectful to the established faith, and to the "powers that be," that no cause
of blame could be discovered. They were devourers of infants: they who were the
followers of the loving and gentle Jesus. Nothing was too monstrous to be
believed about them; even as men now wish to believe everything that can
discredit us and our mission.
Has it not been so ever since? It is the story of all time that the new is
spoken against and discredited in religion, in science, in all with which man's
finite mind deals. It is an essential quality of his intelligence that such
should be the case. The familiar commends itself: the new and strange is viewed
with suspicion and mistrust.
Hence it is not any legitimate cause for surprise that when we teach a
spiritualised Christianity we should at first be met with incredulity. The time
will come when all men will admit, as you do, the beauty of the creed and
recognise its divine origin.
It is not wonderful that our message should seem to contradict some human
utterances. Nay, that it should really controvert some details of the teaching
given through human minds more or less undeveloped in days long past is to be
expected. We have no desire to hide the plain fact that there is much in some
parts of the Bible which does not amalgamate with our teaching, being, indeed,
the admixture of human error which came through the mind of the chosen medium.
We need not repeat on this head our previous argument which is familiar to you.
Revelation, as contained in your Bible, includes many progressive
developments of the knowledge of God which are in themselves irreconcilable in
minute detail. And, moreover, it contains much admixture of human error which
has filtered in through the medium. You can only arrive at truth by judging of
the general drift. Private opinions selected without reference to the body of
teaching are but the sentiments of the individual, valuable as showing his mind,
but not in any way binding as of faith. To imagine that an opinion uttered many
centuries ago is of binding force eternally is mere folly. Indeed, all such
opinions are contradictory in themselves, and are contradicted by other and
opposite opinions contained within the same volume. No doubt it was a current
belief, at the time when many of the writers of books in the Bible composed the
treatises which you call inspired, that Jesus was God,
and harsh denunciations are made against any who should deny the dogma. No
doubt also that the same men believed also that He would, in mysterious manner,
return in the clouds to judge the world, and that before their generation
shoud die. They were mistaken in both beliefs, and over one at least more
than 1800 years have rolled and still the return is unaccomplished. So we might
push the argument were it necessary.
What we wish to impress on you is this: You must judge the Revelations of God
by the light which is given you: in the mass, not by the dicta of its preachers:
by the spirit and general tendency, not by the strict phraseology. You must
judge of us and our teaching, not by conformity to any statement made by any men
at any special time; but by the general fitness and adaptability of our creed to
your wants, to your relations with God, and to the progress of your spirit.
What, then, is the outcome of our teaching? How far does it square with right
reason? How does it teach you of God? How does it help your spirit?
You have been taught in the creeds of the orthodox churches to believe in a
God who was propitiated by the sacrifice of His Son, so far as to allow a
favoured few of His children to be admitted to an imagined heaven, where for
ever and for evermore, with monotonous persistence, their occupation should be
the singing His praise. The rest of the race, unable to gain admission to this
heaven, were consigned to a hell of indescribable torment, perpetual, endless,
These miserable ones failed of bliss, some of them because they had not
faith; and others, because they had evil surroundings by which they were
degraded. And others fell, being assailed with fierce temptations, by which they
were led away and seduced to sin. And others were incarned in debasing and
sensual bodies, and were overcome of ungoverned passions. And others could not
understand what was wanted from them, though they tried, and would fain have
done what they could. And others had intellectual inability to accept certain
dogmatic propositions which they had been taught to believe essential to their
salvation. And others had not, when bodily existence ceased, assented to certain
statements which were able to secure them the entry into the heaven we have
described. And so they perished everlastingly; and on their endless torments,
from a height of serene and secure, the blessed who have gained their bliss
through a faith in certain dogmatic assertions, though many of them had been men
of grievous and degraded lives, look with the satisfaction of undisturbed and
A life of gross sensuality, or of sloth, or of offence against all law, you
are taught, is remediable by and act of faith. The grossest and most sensual
ruffian may, by a cry on his deathbed, find himselft instantaneously fitted for
admission into the immediate presence of the God whom he has all his life
blasphemed. He, the impure, base, degraded, earthy spirit admitted to
association with the refined, the noble, the pure, the holy, in the immediate
presence of the stainless perfection of the all-pure God!
And yet the half is not told, but enough by way of contrast. We tell you
nothing of such a God--a God of whom reason cannot think without a shudder, and
from whom the fatherly instinct must shrink in disgust. Of this God of Love, who
shows His love in such a fashion, we know nothing. He is of man's fashioning,
unknown to us. We pause not to expose the miserable pretence that such a human
idol can ever have been aught but the figment of a barbarous mind. We do but ask
you to wonder with us at the presumptuous ignorance and folly which has dared to
paint such a caricature of the pure and holy God. Surely, friend, man must have
been in a degraded spiritual condition ere he could have pictured such a Deity.
Surely, too, they who in this age have not shrunk from such a creation must have
sore need of a Gospel such as that we preach.
The God whom we know and whom we declare to you is in very truth a God of
Love--a God whose acts do not belie His name, but whose love is boundless, and
His pity unceasing to all. He knows no partiality for any, but deals out
unwavering justice to all. Between Him and you are ranks of ministering spirits,
the bearers of His loving message, the revealers from time to time of His will
to man. By His spirit- messengers the train of ministering mercy is never
suffered to fail. This is our God, manifested by His works, and operating
through the agency of His ministering angels.
And you yourselves, what of you? Are ye immortal souls, who by a cry, a word,
by and act of faith in an unintelligible and monstrous creed can purchase a
heaven of inactivity, and avoid a hell of material torment? Verily, nay. Ye are
spirits placed for a while in a garb of flesh to get training for an advanced
spirit-life, where the seeds sown in the past bear their fruit, and the spirit
reaps the crop which it has prepared. No fabled dreamy heaven of eternal
inactivity awaits you, but a sphere of progressive usefulness and growth to
Immutable laws govern the results of deeds. Deeds of good advance the spirit,
whilst deeds of evil degrade and retard it. Happiness is found in progress and
in gradual assimilation to the Godlike and the perfect. The spirit of divine
love animates the acts, and in mutual blessing the spirits find their happiness.
For them there is no craving for sluggish idleness; no cessation of desire for
progressive advancement in knowledge. Human passions and human needs and wishes
are gone with the body, and the spirit lives a spirit life of purity, progress,
and love. Such is heaven.
We know of no hell save that within the soul: a hell which is fed by the
flame of unpurified and untamed lust and passion, which is kept alive by remorse
and agony of sorrow: which is fraught with the pangs that spring unbidden from
the results of past misdeeds; and from which the only escape lies in retracing
the steps and in cultivating the qualities which shall bear fruit in love and
knowledge of God.
Of punishment we know indeed, but it is not the vindictive lash of an angry
God, but the natural outcome of conscious sin, remediable by repentance and
atonement and reparation personally wrought out in pain and shame, not by coward
cries for mercy, and by feigned assent to statements which ought to create a
Happiness we know is in store for all who will strive for it by a consistent
course of life and conduct commendable to reason and spiritual in practice.
Happiness is the outcome of right reason, as surely as misery is the result of
conscious violation of reasonable laws, whether corporeal or spiritual.
Of the distant ages of the hereafter we say nothing, for we know nothing. But
of the present we say that life is governed, with you and with us equally, by
laws which you may discover, and which, if you obey them, will lead to happiness
and content, as surely as they will reduce you to misery and remorse if you
wilfully violate them.
We need not specify at length now the creed we teach as it affects man in his
relation to God, to his fellows, and to himself. You know its main features. One
day you shall know it more fully. Sufficient has now been said to point the
contrast, and to reply to our question: Whether such a view as this be not pure,
divine, ennobling, the natural complement of that which Jesus Himself preached?
Is it less definite, more vague than the orthodox? It may be less minute in
details which are repulsive, but it breathes a nobler and purer atmosphere; it
teaches a higher, holier religion; it preaches a diviner God. It is not vaguer,
not less definite. But even were it so, it deals with subjects into which the
reverent mind will not curiously pry. It throws a veil over the unknown, and
refuses to substitute speculation for knowledge, or to apply the cruder human
notions to the very nature and attributes of the Supreme.
If it be vagueness to veil the curious eye before the footstool of the divine
and incomprehensible, then are we vague in our knowledge and indistinct in our
teaching. But if it be the part of the wise to dwell only on the known and the
comprehensible; to act rather than speculate; to do rather than to believe, then
is our belief dictated by wisdom. conformable to right reason, and inspired by
It will bear the test of rational sifting and experiment. It will endure, and
inspire the myriad souls in distant ages when those who cavil at its teachings
and insult its authors shall be working out in sorrow and remorse the
consequences of their folly and sin. It will have conducted countless myriads of
pure spirits, who have progressed in its faith, to happiness and advancement,
when that which it is destined to spiritualise shall have shared the fate of the
mouldering body from which the spirit is withdrawn. It will live and bless its
votaries in spite of the foolish ignorance which would charge its divine
precepts on a devil, and anathematise its votaries as the children of darkness.
That seems to me rational and beautiful. And I think
you meet the charge of vagueness. But I fancy most people would say that you do
practically upset popular Christianity. I should like to have from you some
ideas on the general outcome of Spiritualism, more especially as it affects the
undeveloped, whether incarnated or not.
We will speak to you of this in due course. But not yet. Ponder what has
been said before you seek for further messages. May the Supreme enable us to
guide you aright!