Section XIII

[On reading over consecutively this series of communications which I had received, I was more than ever struck by their beauty, both of form and matter. When I considered that they were written with vast rapidity, without conscious thought on my part, that they were free from blot or blemish of grammatical construction, and that there was no interlineation or correction throughout their whole course, I could not but wonder at their form. As regards the subject-matter, I was still in difficulty. There was much in them with which I sympathised; but at the same time I could not get rid of the idea that the faith of Christendom was practically upset by their issue. I believed that, however it might be disguised, such would be their outcome in the end. No man, I reasoned, could accept such teaching, in its spirit as well as in its letter, without being led to throw aside very much that the Christian world had agreed to receive as de fide. The central dogmas seemed especially attacked: and it was this that startled me. A very extended acquaintance with the writings of theologians--Greek, Roman, Anglican, and Protestant, especially those of modern German school of thought--had prepared me to make little of divergence of opinion on minor matters. I knew that such divergences were inseparable from the subject. I also knew that individual opinion on abstruse mysteries of revelation is of little worth. I should have even been prepared for startling statements on such matters. But here was a very different matter. The points impugned seemed to me to be of the very essence of the Christian religion. to "spiritualise," or, as I preferred to call it, to explain away these, seemed to me absolutely fatal to my belief in any revelation whatsoever. After long and patient thought, I could come to no other conclusion; and I shrank from accepting such momentous issues on the ipse dixit of an intelligence of whom I knew, and could know, so little. I felt that I must have more time for thought: and that I, at any rate, was not ripe for the acceptance of a creed, however beautiful, which was not better attested, and less iconoclastic. These objections I stated. In answer it was written:--]

You have said wisely. Time is requisite that you may ponder deeply that which is indeed of vital import. We leave you to think over what we have advanced with a full conviction that you will, in time, assimilate the teaching, and appreciate its importance. Should you desire enlightenment from us on any points, it shall be given; but we will not force upon you other communications until time has done for you what you require. Let patience and earnest prayerfulness have full sway.

You know not in your cold earth atmosphere, so chilling, so repellent to spirit life, how the magnetic rapport between your spirit and the guides who wait to bear its petition upwards is fostered by frequent prayer. It is as though the bond were tightened by frequent use; as though the intimacy ripened by mutual association. You would pray more did you know how rich a spiritual blessing prayer brings. Your learned sages have discussed much of the value of prayer, and have wandered in a maze of opinion, befogged and ignorant of the real issue. They do not know--how could they?--of the angel messengers who hover round ready to help the spirit that cries to its God. They know not of the existence of such, for they cannot test their presence by human science in its present state; and so, with crude effort, they would reduce the results of prayer to line and measure. They try to gauge its results, and to estimate its effect by the compilation of statistics. And still they find themselves in difficulty, for though they grasp the shell, the spirit eludes their ken. Such results are not to be so measured, for they are imperceptible by man's science. They are spiritual, varying in various cases: different as are the agencies at work.

Frequently it is the unspoken petition which is not granted that is the cause of richest blessing to the praying soul. The very cry of the burdened spirit shot forth into the void--a cry wrung out by bitter sorrow--is an unknown relief. The spirit is lightened, though the prayer is not granted in the terms of its petition. You know not why: but could you see, as we see, the guardians labouring to pour into the sorrow-laden soul the balm of sympathy and consolation, you would know whence comes that strange peace which steals over the spirit, and assures it of a sympathising and consoling God. The prayer has done its work, for it has drawn down an angel friend: and the bursting heart, crushed with its load of care and sorrow, is comforted by angel sympathy.

This, the magnetic sympathy which we can shed around those with whom we are in close communion, is one of the blessed effects which can be wrought by the cry of a human soul reaching upward to its God. And under no other conditions can the full blessedness of spirit intercourse be realised. It is the spirit that is most spiritualised that alone can enter into the secret chambers where the angels dwell. It is to the soul that lives in frequent communion with us that we are best able to come nigh. This, friend, is invariable: another part of that unchangeable law which governs all our intercourse with your world. To the spiritual soul come, in richest measure, spiritual gifts.

Nor is it always the answer which man in his ignorance expects that is the truest response to his petition. Many times to grant his request would be to do him grievous harm. He has asked ignorantly, petulantly, foolishly: and his prayer is unheeded in its request: but it has availed to place his spirit in communion with an intelligence which is waiting an opportunity of approach, and which can minister to him strength and consolation in his necessity.

'Twere well if men would more strive to live a life of prayer. Not the morbid life of devotion falsely so called, which consists in neglecting duty and in spending the precious hours of the probation of life in morbid self-anatomy: in developing unhealthy self-scrutiny: in idle, dreamy contemplation, or in forced and unreal supplication. The life of prayer is far other, as we advise it. Prayer to be real must be the heart-cry, spontaneous and impulsive, to friends who hover near. The fancy of a prayer to the ear of an ever-present God who is willing to alter unalterable laws in response to a capricious request has done much to discredit the idea of prayer altogether. Believe it not! Prayer--the spontaneous cry of the soul to its God through the friends who, it knows, are near, and are ever ready to catch up the unuttered petition and bear it upwards and ever upwards till it reach a power that can respond--this is no matter of formal preparation. It consists not in any act of outward show. It is not necessarily syllabled in utterance: far less is it trammelled by conventional form, or bound up in stereotyped phraseology. True prayer is the ready voice of spirit communing with spirit: the cry of the soul to invisible friends with whom it is used to speak: the flashing along the magnetic line a message of request which brings, swift as thought, its ready answer back.

It is the placing of a suffering soul in union with a ministering spirit who can soothe and heal. It needs no words, no attitude, no form. It is truest when these are absent, or at least unstudied. It needs but a recognition of a near guardian, and an impulse to communion. To this end it must be habitual: else, like the limb long disused, the impulse is paralysed. Hence, it is those of you who live most in the spirit who penetrate deepest into the hidden mysteries. We can come nearest to them. We can touch hidden chords in their nature which vibrate only to our touch, and are never stirred by your world's influences. 'Tis they who reach highest in their earth-life, for they have learned already to commune with spirit, and are fed with spiritual food. For them are opened mysteries closed to more material natures: and their perpetual prayer has wrought for them this at least, that they live above the sufferings and sorrows from which it cannot exempt them, seeing that such are necessary to their development.

Alas! alas! we speak of that which is little known. Were this grand truth better realised, man would live in the atmosphere of the pure and elevated spirits. His spiritual attitude would drive from him the base and baleful influences which too often beset those who pry unbidden into mysteries that are too high for them, and which, alas! beset and annoy even the best at times. If it prevailed not to obtain exemption, it would provide protection, and do more to strengthen us than all else that man could do. It would avail more to sanctify the acts, to purify the motives, and to keep alive the reality of spirit communion than anything which we know of.

Pray, then; but see that you pray not with formality, heartlessly, and with unreal supplication. Commune with us in communion of the spirit. Keep a single eye to the issues of such communion as respect your own spirit. The rest will follow in due course. Leave abstruse and perplexing questions of man's theological controversy, and keep close to the central truths which so intimately affect the well-being of your spirit. The vain bewilderments which man has cast around the simplicity of truth are manifold. Nor is it for you to disentangle them, nor to decide what is or is not essential in that which has hitherto been revealed. You will learn hereafter to view much that you now regard as vitally essential truth, rather as a passing phase of teaching which was necessary for those to whom it was given. It is human weakness that impels you to rush to the end. You must tarry, friend, tarry long yet in the early searchings before you reach the goal. You have much to unlearn before you can penetrate all mysteries.

We have more to say to you on this. But for the present enough has been written. May the Supreme keep us and you, and enable us so to lead and guide you that in the end truth may shine on your darkened soul, and peace may dwell within your spirit.

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[I made no rejoinder to what was last said, but I thought over it, and was preparing to say somewhat, when I was imperiously stopped. The hand dashed off with violent speed, and the communication following was written without pause in an incredibly short space of time. So vehement was the effort that I was in a state of semi- trance until it was complete.]

Stay! stay! stay! Attempt not now to argue, but learn yet again of the truth. You are impatient, and it is in your mind to say foolish things. What matters it to you if what we say contradicts that which others have believed? Why shrink back at that? Does not all faith firmly grasped contradict some other faith? Nay, does not each faith contain within itself elements of contradiction? If you know not so much as that, then are you not fit to go forward. From those old creeds and faiths, venerable in their antiquity, but crude too frequently in development, men have derived comfort. They have found their utterances convenient and suitable for them. They have derived from them a satisfaction which they do not bring to you. Why? Because your spirit has outgrown those old, and to you lifeless, utterances. They benefit you not. They are powerless to stir your soul. They have no voice for your spirit: no remedy for your wants. They are but faint and far-off echoes of what to some was a living voice, but which to you is cold and meaningless.

Why, then, perplex yourself at that? Why linger, striving in vain to extract a meaning from that which to you has none? Why turn a deaf ear to a living voice which cries to your soul from the land beyond in accents which are living, burning, true? Why refuse to listen when the voice speaks of the true, the spiritual, the noble, of all that is real and actual in place of the dying or the dead? Why, for a fancy--from reverence for a lifeless past--cut yourself off from the living present, from the communion of spirits, from the society of those who can tell you noble truths of God and of your destiny?

Surely this is but madness, only the influence of spirits who would gladly hold back the soul and drag it down to earth. Were our revelation a blank contradiction of the old, what is that to you? Ours speaks in living accents to your spirit; you know it; you drink in it, and find it to be a blessed influence. The old is dead to you. Why linger round the lifeless form? Why embrace the mouldering corpse which was once a living being instinct with Divine truth?

Your sacred records tell you how, at the sepulchre of Jesus, the angel message to the sorrowing friends was one of aspiration. "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, He is risen." So, friend, we say to you: Why linger in the dead past, the sepulchre of buried truth, seeking, in fruitless sorrow, for that which is no longer there? It is not there, it is risen. It has left the body of dogmatic teaching which once for a restless age enshrined Divine truth. There remains but the dead casket. The jewel is gone. The spirit has risen, and lo! we proclaim to you sublime truth, a nobler creed, and a Diviner God.

The voice which in ages past has sounded in the ears of those to whom has been entrusted the Divine mission on their earth and to their generation reaches even to this age and to you. It has ever been so. God deals now in no other sort than He has ever dealt with men. He calls them up to fuller light, to higher truth. It is theirs to accept or to reject the heavenly message. Probably it has been to each aspiring soul a difficulty that the past, the familiar, the venerable faith has charms from which it is hard to sever. In the first blush of perplexity it seems to the bewildered spirit that all must go that is old and cherished, and the new and untried must be accepted. It seems to be a death; and man shrinks from death. Yes; but it is a death unto life. It is a passage through the tomb to a land of life and hope. Even as the spirit soars in freedom from the body of death from which it has been emancipated, so does the enfranchised spirit, set free from the trammels of the past, soar aloft in liberty, the liberty of the truth which, Jesus said, alone can make man free. You know it now; but you shall know it hereafter.

This, then, is our cry to you. Why turn your face to the dead past, when the living present and the bright future attract, and promise rich store of blessing? Were we in our mission the absolute contradiction of the old, what is that to you? The old words are spiritless, and you cannot infuse into them again the spirit that is gone. Leave them to those for whom they still have a voice and a meaning, and follow with unfaltering step the impulses of the Divine Spirit which lures you on to higher views of truth. Quit the dead past, though it be to journey through a new present to an unknown future.

But, friend, it is not so. The past casts a glamour over you, and you share the common idea that the new must utterly destroy the old. Did Jesus so say? Did He counsel the abolition of the Mosaic teaching? Yet, as we have before said, our teaching is no more startling development as compared with His than was His as compared with Moses'. That which we present for your acceptance is the complement rather than the contradiction of the old; the growth to a fuller stature; the development of a wider knowledge.

If you meditate deeply on the state of the world when Jesus proclaimed to it His reformed faith, you will see many points of similarity to that which now obtains among men. It is not, we reiterate, more startling to read the gospel which we preach alongside of that which passes current among men for religion, than it was to put the gospel of Jesus in juxtaposition to the ritual of Pharisaism, or the sceptical indifferentism of Sadducee. The world then needed a new revelation, even as it does now; and that which it received was not less startling than is this to those who love the old, and desire not to be stirred from the paths to which they are accustomed.

In those days, even as now, the revelation of God, which had been adapted to the special wants of a special people, had been overlaid with rubbish, until it had become a mass of ritual without a meaning and without life. For many long years the voice of God had not been heard, and man had begun to crave, as he craves now, for a renewal of the Divine message. The old had become dead, and he sought for a new and living voice. It came to him--this Divine utterance--in the voice of Jesus; from a source the most unlikely, as men think; from a quarter least calculated to command respect of the educated Pharisee, or to carry conviction to the scoffing Sadducee. Yet that voice prevailed, and for 1800 years has animated the religious life of Christendom. The creed so originated has become debased, but the spirit of the Crucified is in it even now; and it needs but the vivifying touch to call it forth into new life. The old rags with which man has thought to clothe it may readily be thrown aside, and the truth shine all the brighter for their loss.

The source from which our revelation comes is not more strange that was the source of that power wielded by Him who was to His generation the despised carpenter of Nazareth. Men sneered at Him in the plenitude of their scorn; even as they sneer at us. They were ready to stare at His marvels; they would follow Him in hosts to marvel at the physical miracles which were wrought through Him; but they were not sufficiently spiritual to drink in His teachings. They are ready now to wonder at us and our mighty works, even as they wondered then. Even as then they sought for yet further and further tests--"Come down from the cross, and we will believe on thee"--so now there is even one more test which is necessary to ensure complete conviction. They called Him a deceiver, even as they cry out now. They hooted Him out of their society; they drove Him out of their midst, and they strove by their laws and by their influence to crush out the new doctrine from their land. New it was indeed, but the truth that it enshrined was old, old as the God who gave it, only new in form. Ours is new now, but the time shall come when men shall see that it is but the risen truth of ages past, rejuvenescent and eternal.

The Divine truth which we proclaim is not more strange to you than was the message of Jesus to His age--the age that sneeringly asked whether any educated person of position and respectability--"any of the Pharisees or the rules"--had believed on Him. Both were progressive developments of the same continuous stream of truth, suited to the wants and cravings of those to whom they were vouchsafed. Meditate on the mental condition of Nicodemus, and contrast it with that of many such in your own day. And be assured that the same power which availed to stir the dead faith of the Jew, and to reveal his God more clearly, is still able to infuse new life into the well-nigh lifeless body of Christian faith, and to restore it to energy and vitality.

May the All-wise guide, bless, and keep you.

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