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Spirit Teachings
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Section XIV


[The communication last recorded produced considerable effect on me, and it was some days before I replied. When I did so, I objected thus:--]

The parallel betwen the days of Christ and the present days is comprehensible. I can quite imagine an educated Sadducee looking on the pretensions of Christ with scorn; and he would have been wrong, as we now know; but, as I think, very excusably wrong. Judged by the mere light of reason, they would seem monstrous. And a Sadducee of that day, whose tone of mind was set against the supernatural, would excusably refuse to credit what must seem to him a lie, or a delusion. For myself, I do not see how he could do anything else. Yet he had a concrete man before him--one whom he could see, and whose words he could hear; one whose life he could test as to whether it was in accord with the holy teaching which fell from His lips. I am so far worse off that I have only an impersonal influence to deal with, only the utterances which may conceivably be the voice of my spirit questioning with itself. I have nothing to lay hold of. All around me I see Spiritualism vague, and frequently contemptible, in its utterance. Its revelations are shadowy where they are not silly; and frequently one is shocked by that which passes current under its name. I cannot see my way. As to you, I know nothing of you, even if you be an entity at all. I do not see any way of satisfying myself about you; nor would it help me very much if you were to assume shape as a previous dweller on this earth. Had you ever a personality, or are you merely an influence? It would help me somewhat if I could picture you as a definite individuality. But, on the whole, I wish you would leave me alone.

[I had in fact become wearied out with this strenuous conflict between my own strongly-conceived opinions and those of an Intelligence so powerful in statement and so coherent in argument. I was torn by conflicting emotions, and undergoing, no doubt, a state of preparation necessary for what was to follow. The answer came thus:--]

Friend, we sympathise with your questionings, and will try to aid you. You say that the sceptical Sadducee was better off in that he had the definite personal Jesus before him. Doubtless he had; but, so far from that being a help to him, it would be an additional cause of perplexity. He would find it far harder to associate the son of the carpenter of Nazareth with God's new revelation, of which he recognised the want, than you do to associate us with the Supreme. "Is not this the carpenter?" would be to him a far more serious difficulty than your query, "Is this an individuality?" For he would see all around him the tangible and palpable difficulties which he could not surmount. The lowly origin, the humble friends, the world's scorn, the rejection of the mission by all on whose opinion he had been accustomed to rely--all this would form a real and very insuperable difficulty; one which, if your words are taken literally, you would yourself hold him justified in considering final. And, assuredly, if in the end he failed to grasp the message and to accept the Messenger, he would, if honest, be guilty of no sin. He would but have lost an opportunity of progress which would recur when he was more fitted to avail himself of it.

With you the case is otherwise. You have to deal with no external difficulties. You have simply to battle with intellectual doubt. You know and acknowledge that the words which have been spoken to you are such as you might reasonably expect from a teacher sent from God. They are fraught with a message the need of which you feel, the beauty of which you admit, and the moral grandeur of which commends itself to all who are fitted to receive it. You know it full well that it originates in some source external to yourself. You must know that no unconscious effort of your own mind could produce that which contradicts the outcome of your own thoughts. Were the thoughts we utter those which would naturally spring from your own mind, you might have room for hesitation. But it is not so. And no theory of self-questioning, however ingenious, will satisfy your mind. You know that is not so; and the phase of doubt through which you now pass, and which is so evanescent, can exercise no permanent influence upon you. When it is gone, you will wonder how you can ever have imagined that I am not an entity as real as yourself, and as real as any embodied intelligence whom you call "man."

Yes, friend, time is all that you require; time for patient thought; time to weigh issues, to estimate evidence, and to tabulate results. The words which have stirred you so deeply--you know not how deeply--are the words of one who sees your thoughts, who sympathises with your difficulties, and not least with those very doubts and questionings which now perplex you. During my earth-life I was a prominent actor in scenes of difficulty not unlike those which preceded the life of the Christ, and which are now recurring. It has been so in all cycles where the revolving course of time brings round a similar condition of things. Man in all ages has been constituted mentally the same. He is developed: he progresses; he thinks more deeply; he knows more. But sure as in your world night succeeds to day, so surely there comes a time when his conceptions of the Deity become faint and unreal; when the spark of Divinity within him craves for a fuller knowledge, and cries to heaven for a message from its God. A new revelation is needed. The craving spirit of man yearns for it. The old has done its work, and from its ashes rises the new, which is to the receptive soul the voice from on high that speaks words of consolation and comfort. It has ever been so. You know it. You can trace it all through the history of God's dealings with mankind. And why should it cease to be so now? Why now, when man most needs it, should the voice be dumb, and the ear of the Supreme be deaf?

You say that you know nothing of me. Why will you confuse the messenger with his message, why will you insist on associating with that which is Divine the vehicle through whom it is conveyed?

[The result of the argument was that , in reference to my weak-kneed faith, I got what I obstinately fought for. And when I had so far prevailed, I saw how hollow was the boon for which I had contended. I began to grasp, as I had been unable to grasp before, the tendency of the teaching, and to separate it from the individuality of the messenger. I went back over the time during which this argument--portions of which only I think it well to print--had been in process, and I grasped as I could not grasp before what was to me, in very truth, a new Revelation. The messenger became lost in the importance to me of his message: and the desire to probe and prove minute points of detail was lost in the full blaze of conviction that then first burst upon me.

This state, however, was evanescent. I was too wedded to old habits of analysis to let impulse and enthusiasm take the place of logical conviction. Moreover, early religious training asserted itself, and I recurred to my old theological objections. The first effect passed, and after an interval of two days I resumed my objections. During that time I had carefully read over and over again all that has been printed here, and much that is too personal for publication. I had estimated the experience of a year, during which I could discover no departure from strict truth. And I came clearly to the conclusion that the Power which was in action was--

(1) external to myself;
(2) truthful and consistent in its statements;
(3) pure and elevated in the religious teaching which it conveyed.

This seemed clear to me: and I turned to consider the question of identity, and the claims put forward. As to other matters, I felt that they might wait. The points which had settled themselves in my mind raised a strong presumption that the truthful intelligence of the past was truthful still. But then came the doubt as to how far all might be the work of "Satan transformed into an angel of light," labouring for the subversion of the faith. My exact objection was put thus:--]

May it not be said with some pretence of fair criticism that your teaching tends to what men call Deism, Pantheism, or (wrongly, I know) even to Atheism? Does it not degrade God to the level of a Force, and tend to breed in man a doubt as to the absolute truth of anything? God, one begins to think, is only a name for the influence which permeates the universe, pictured differently by different peoples in different ages. The revelation of Him comes ab intrů, imagined in the mind, not revealed to it. Christianity is one of many forms of faith, all more or less mistaken. Man gropes on more or less blindly, evolving for himself, from time to time, ideas more or less erroneous. Since God exists only in the conceptions, each man has his God peculiar to himself. Absolute truth, out of mathematics, does not exist. And so man, at his best, becomes a solitary unit, alone with his own spirit, replying to its questionings, evolving views which satisfy for a moment, only to be succeeded by others, which in their turn give way to newer ideas; unless, indeed, intellect becomes fossilised, and the old views are permanent because they have ceased to live.

This colourless idea is to supplant a Gospel which bears the Divine imprimatur: whose precepts are precise, whose morality is as elevated as most men can grasp, and which is enforced by a system of definite reward and punishment such as experience has always found necessary in dealing with men. This Gospel, so backed, has not been, as you say, successful in raising men to a very high pitch of moral perfection. How, then, am I to expect that a philosophy such as yours, which has a shadow of good, indeed, but a shadow only, dim, vague, and impalpable, which is destructive of the past, without the power to construct for the future: how can I believe that this can hold in hand rebellious minds which have chafed under a religion so precise in its moral dicta, so forcible in its appeals to human interests, so commended by its Divine origin and by the halo shed around it from the saintliest life ever held up for human imitation? It seems to me most unlikely.

I do not now repeat what I have said about the hazy source from which this teaching comes: nor do I insist upon the dangers which I forsee from its general adoption. That danger is too remote to need enlarging on. At the same time it is an important factor in the argument, that your teaching would, as it seems to me, relax many of the wholesame bonds which have been valuable morally, socially, and religiously to mankind. And were that which we know as Spiritualism to flood the community, I sadly fear that it would leave men enthusiasts and fanatics; and that the world, so far from having gained ground, would have relapsed into the blindest superstition, and the shallowest credulity. I may be utterly wrong; but so it strikes me. I cannot see that your teaching is any substitute for what men have believed. Even if it be what it pretends to be, surely man is no more fit to be governed according to such notions than he is to live on angels' food. Even in its highest form it is of doubtful practical utility, while, in many of its more vulgar shapes, it seems simply pernicious and demoralising.

In the name of the Supreme, we greet you. It is not in our power to help you now. What we say seems to you other than it is. The upheaval which has so disturbed your mind has left it in a condition little fit to weigh niceties. For that you must bide your time as patiently as may be; meantime the training is valuable to you. You will know the why as you knew it not before; and impulse and enthusiasm will yield to experimental knowledge and calm conviction. The venerable belief which has been assented to rather than accepted will pale before the knowledge of truth which is born of investigation and logical analysis. What we have said merits the deepest study. We would have you take every opportunity of reading over consecutively what has been written; and of thinking deeply on the whole tenor of our intercourse with you. We claim to be judged by our whole communion with you, by words and deeds alike; by the moral effect of our teaching, no less than by its relation to previous creeds, by the spiritual atmosphere which we bring with us, no less than by the imperfect utterances in which logical sublety may readily find a flaw.

For the present it is enough that we solemnly reiterate our claim to be the bearers of a Divine message. The words we speak are the words of God. You know it; and no additional argument can add any weight to our claim on this head. You are no more the sport of evil, than you are deluded by phantasies of a diseased brain. Evil does not tell of God, as we tell. Nor can any brain tell you what we have told you, and give you evidence such as we have given. When you are more calm you will see this. Were you in other state now, we should have somewhat to say concerning the sin of curiously seeking out indication of evil which may be fastened on that which is holy and divine, even as when the holy Jesus walked your earth 'mid its corruptions and its curses, the devils whom He ejected turned on Him through the mouth of the orthodox religionists, and charged Him with association with Beelzebub. We do not care to answer such objections. They bear on their face their own sufficient refutation. When you have had time to think calmly, we will make such answer to your objections as may be requisite. For the present it is better that you give yourself to meditation and prayer. Pray, friend, with zeal and earnestness, that you may be guided into all truth.

That prayer at least you cannot refuse to put up, even though it be dictated by the very Tempter. Pray, in company with us, for enlightenment and patience; for power to see and for grace to follow the truth. Pray that you may be released from the fetters of dogmatism which would bind your aspiring soul; and that being released you may be guided in your upward progress, lest you soar and fall. Pray that the influence of others may be separated from your own soul's wants; that you may have grace to choose the right, and to leave others to select what they find suitable for them. Pray that you may realise clearly the responsibility of choice or rejection, and that you may be saved, on the one hand, from obstinate prejudice, and, on the other, from hasty acceptance. And, above all, pray for honesty, sincerity, and humility, that you may not mar God's work by pride, by obstinacy, or by unworthiness.

And our prayers shall join with yours to draw down an answering message of love and consolation from those who watch on high, in anxious expectations of the spread of Divine Truth. We have answered so much of your objection as relates to the general outcome of the movement at large. We have shown you that deep down below the surface there is a something which does not meet the eye. As in the days of the development of the knowledge of God, in whatever age it may occur, there are many silent devotees of whom the world knows little, who grow steadily up to more and more perfect knowledge, so we have told you it is now. Many there are, very many, who deplore the unlicensed vagaries which shock and distress them, but which have no power to alter or diminish the faith which is founded on experience.

We would further point out to you that all our intercourse with the material plane is governed by laws which your science has not yet defined. Neither we nor you know as yet many of the causes which interfere with our power. We are not able to lay down laws for your guidance, scarce even for our own. With you the vast importance of the subject is little appreciated even by those who interest themselves in our work. In many cases sentiments of mere curiosity predominate. With some, even lower motives obtain. No proper care is taken of our mediums. The instruments is out of tune, unstrung, or overworked. The atmosphere conditions vary. We know not always how to meet the various effects so caused. Circles are not properly composed; and many things combine to make it impossible that phenomena should always be similar in their nature, or be evoked with precise regularity.

This will account for much of the erratic character of the phenomena, as well as for the influence which is exercised over the curious who obtrude themselves perpetually into communion with the spheres, and attract spirits congenial to themselves. Much might fitly be said on this topic, but other matters press. What has been hinted may suggest to you another reason for dealing mercifully in your estimate of the vagaries of some circles. Nothing now is said of those into which deceit is admitted. There none but the most undeveloped spirits enter, and all is untrustworthy and repellent.

You can do much to aid us. You may help us to crush out idle curiosity and deceit. You know well how , in our own circle, the manifestations have gradually developed as you have followed our advice. You may say to others that they should use the same means. The cloud will in time be blown away. Meantime, the causes which produce it are at least as much in your hands as in ours.

+IMPERATOR.