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Spirit Teachings
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Section XVI


[As I attempted to put other objections, many of which occurred to me, I was stopped.]

We have something to say by the way of summing up what has already been spoken. You do not sufficiently grasp the fact that religion has a very scanty hold on the mass of mankind; nor do you understand the adaptability of what we say to the needs and aspirations of mankind. Or perhaps it is necessary that you be reminded of what you cannot see clearly in your present state, and in the midst of your present associations. You cannot see as we see the carelessness that has crept over men as to the future state. Those who have thought about their future condition have come to know that they can find out nothing about it except that the prevalent notions are vague, foolish, contradictory, and unsatisfying. Their reasoning faculties convince them that the Revelation of God which they are taught to believe to be of plenary inspiration, contains plain marks of human adulteration; that it will not stand the test of sifting such as is applied to works professedly of human origin; and that the priestly fiction that reason is no measure of revelation, that it must be left behind upon the threshold of inquiry, and give place to faith, is a cunningly-planned means of preventing man from discovering the errors and contradictions which throng the pages of that infallible guide which is forced upon him. Those who use the touchstone of reason discover them readily enough: those who do not, betake themselves to the refuge of faith, and become blind devotees, fanatical, bigoted, and irrational; conformed to a groove in which they have been educated, and from which they have not broken loose simply because they have not dared to think.

It would be hard for man to devise a means of cramping the mind and dwarfing the spirit more complete than this persuading a man that he must not think about matters of religion. It is one which paralyses all freedom of thought, and renders it almost impossible for the soul to rise. The spirit is condemned to a hereditary religion, whether suited or not to its wants. It is absolutely without choice as to that which is the food of its real life. That which may have suited a far-off ancestor may be quite unsuited to a struggling spirit that lives in other times from those in which such ideas had force and vitality. And so the spirit's vital nourishment is made a question of birth and locality. It is a matter over which they can exercise no personal control, whether they are to be Christian, Mahommedan, or, as you say, heathen; whether their God is to be the Great Spirit of the Red Indian, or the fetish of the savage; whether his prophet be Christ, or Mahomet, or Confucius, in short, whether their notion of religion be that prevalent in east, west, north, or south; for in all quarters they have evolved for themselves a theology which they teach their children as of binding force, as supremely necessary for salvation.

It is important that you ponder well this matter. The assumption that any one religion, which may command itself to any one race, in any portion of your globe, has a monopoly of Divine Truth, is a human fiction, born of man's vanity and pride. There is no such monopoly of truth in any system of theology which flourishes or has flourished among men. Each is, in its degree, imperfect; each has its points of truth adapted to the wants of those to whom it was given, or by whom it was evolved. Each has its errors: and none can be commended to those whose habits of thought and whose spiritual necessities are different, as being the spiritual food which God has given to man. It is but human frailty to fancy such a thing. Man likes to believe that he is the exclusive possessor of some germ of truth. We smile as we see him hugging himself in the delusion, congratulating himself on the fancied possession, and persuading himself that it is necessary for him to send missionaries far and wide, to bear his nostrum to other lands and other peoples, who do but laugh at his pretensions and deride his claims.

It is, indeed, supremely marvellous to us that your wise men have been and are unable to see that the ray of truth which has shone even unto them, and which they have done their best to obscure, is but one out of many which have been shed by the Sun of Truth on your world. Divine Truth is too clear a light to be tolerated by human eyes. It must be tempered by an earthly medium, conveyed through a human vehicle, and darkened somewhat lest it blind the unaccustomed eye. Only when the body of earth is cast aside, and the spirit soars to higher planes, can it afford to dispense with the interposing medium which has dulled the brightness of the heavenly light.

All races of men have had a beam of this light amongst them. They have received it as best they might, have fostered it or dimmed it according to their development, and have in the end adapted to their different wants that which they were able to receive. None has reason to vaunt itself in exclusive possession, or to make futile efforts to force on others its own view of truth. So long as your world has endured, so long has it been true that the Brahmin, the Mahommedan, the Jew, and the Christian, has had his peculiar light, which he has considered to be his special heritage from heaven. And, as if to make the fallacy more conspicuous, that Church which claims to itself an exclusive possession of Divine Truth, and deems it right to carry the lamp throughout all lands, is most conspicuous for its own manifold divisions. Christendom's divisions, the incoherent fragments into which the Church of Christ is rent, the frenzied bitterness with which each assails other for the pure love of God; these are the best answers to the foolish pretension that Christianity possesses a monopoly of Divine Truth.

But the days are approaching when a new ray of light shall be shed on this mist of human ignorance. This geographical sectarianism shall give place before the enlightenment caused by the spread of the New Revelation, for which mankind is riper than you think. They shall be made to see that each system of religion is a ray of truth from the Central Sun, dimmed, indeed, by man's ignorance, but having withing it a germ of vital truth. Each must see the truth in his neighbour's belief, and learn that best lessons, to dwell on the good rather than on the evil; to recognise the Divine even through human error, and to acknowledge the godlike even in that which has not commended itself to his own wants hitherto. The time draws nigh when the sublime truths which we are commissioned to proclaim, rational and noble as they are, when viewed from the standpoint of reason, shall wipe away from the face of God's earth the sectarian jealousy and theological bitterness, the anger and ill-will, the rancour and Pharisaic pride which have disgraced the name of religion, and have rendered theology a byeword amongst men. Alas! alas! that the divine science which should tell man of the nature of his God, and in telling should breathe into his soul somewhat of that divine love which emanates from Deity; alas! that it should have become the battle-ground for sects and parties, the arid plain where the pettiest prejudices and the meanest passions may be aired, the barren, cheerless waste, where man may most surely demonstrate his own ignorance of his God, about whose nature and operations he so bitterly disputes!

Theology! it is a byeword even amongst you. You know how, in the ponderous volumes which contain the records of man's ignorance about his God, may be found the bitterest invective, the most unchristian bitterness, the most unblushing misrepresentation. Theology! it has been the excuse for quenching every holiest instinct, for turning the hand of the foeman against kindred and friends, for burning and torturing and rending the bodies of the saintliest of mankind, for exiling and ostracising those whom the world should have delighted to honour, for subverting man's best instincts and quenching his most natural affections. Aye, and it is still the arena in which man's basest passions vaunt themselves, stalking with head erect and brazen front over all that dares to separate itself from the stereotyped rule. "Avaunt! there is no room for reason where theology holds sway." It is still the cause for most that may make true men to blush, for in its stifling atmosphere free thought gasps, and man becomes an unreasoning puppet.

To such base ends has man degraded the science which should teach him of his God.

We tell you, friend, that the end draws nigh. It shall not be always so. As it was in the days which preceded the coming of the Son of Man, as it has been in the midnight hours which precede every-day dawn from on high, so it is now. The night of ignorance if fast passing away. The shackles which priestcraft has hung around struggling souls shall be knocked off; and in place of a fanatical folly, and ignorant Pharisaism, and misty speculation, you shall have a reasonable religion and a Divine Faith. You shall have richer views of God, truer notions of your duty and destiny; you shall know that they whom you call dead are alive amongst you; living, as they lived on earth, only more really; ministering to you with undiminished love; animated in their unwearying intercourse with the same affection which they bore to you whilst they were yet incarned.

It was said of the Christ that He brought life immortality to light. It is true in a wider sense than the writer meant. The outcome of the Revelation of Christ, which is only now beginning to be seen amongst men, is in its truest sense the abolition of death, the demonstration of immortality. In that great truth--man never dies, cannot die, however he may wish it--in that great truth rests the key to the future. The immortality of man, held not as an article of faith, a clause in a creed, but as a piece of personal knowledge and individual experience, this is the keynote of the religion of the future. In its trail come all the grand truths we teach, all the noblest conceptions of duty, the grandest views of destiny, the truest realisations of life.

You cannot grasp them now. They gaze and bewilder your spirit, unaccustomed to such glare. But, mark well, friend, brief space shall pass before you recognise in our words the lineaments of truth, the aspect of the divine.

+IMPERATOR.