Section XX

[At this time many communications were made to me from various sources with the avowed purpose of accumulating evidence and producing conviction in my mind. One of these was a well-known person with whom I had been acquainted. I asked permission to bring the fact of his communicating under the notice of his relatives. It was replied:--]

It is impossible and unwise to attempt it. They know not of the truth of spirit communion, nor could we manifest to them. Were you to tell them, they would receive your word as the idle tale of a madman. You would not be able to reach them. This is one of the sore trials of those who endeavour to communicate with the world which they have lately quitted. Usually they cannot reach personal friends. The very anxiety with which they strive prevents the realisation of their wishes. It seems to them so important, so desirable, that personal evidence should be given to their friends, that their very eagerness, coupled with the sorrowing tearfulness of their friends, places an impassible barrier between them. It is not till the eargerness is past, and they have soared above the atmosphere of personal feeling, that they are able to reach your sphere. You will know more of this hereafter.

Our friend who now communicates is shut off from those who were united to him by ties of kindred. Any attempt to force on them knowledge for which they are unprepared would be mischievous and fruitless. This is one of the unalterable laws with which we have no power to interfere; we can no more force on men a knowledge for which they are unfit than you can explain to a child the deep mysteries of science into which your sages gaze with wonder. Nay, less the child would not understand, indeed, but he would not be injured. We, on the contrary, should retard, by unconscious forcing, the end we have in view, and should injure those whom we would benefit. No such attempt is made by the wise. They see, as you cannot, that if they were able to force on the unprepared advanced knowledge, and to anticipate the orderly working of Divine laws, you world would cease to be a sphere of probation. It would become merely a field for the experiments of any spirits who desired to try their power, and there would be an end to law and order. No such reversal of law would be permitted. Rest assured of that.

[About this same time my perplexity as to the question of Identity was much increased by the fact that a spirit who had written his name "direct," i.e. without the intervention of any human agency, had spelt it wrongly. Here, apparently, the fault could not be charged on the medium: and I put it strongly that I could not be expected to believe in the identity of a spirit that gave a well-known name which it could not even spell. Imperator replied:--]

We do not desire to argue out the question of identity, but the incident to which you refer is susceptible of a ready explanation. The identity of the spirit was avouched by me, and you have at least found my words to be accurate. The error was committed by the manifesting spirit who wrote. The intelligences who are able to compass the particular manifestation which you call direct writing, and for which you had on this particular occasion expressed a strong wish, are few. Most frequently the actual writing is done by one who is accustomed to manifest in that way, and who acts, as it were, as the amanuensis of the spirits who wish to communicate. In many cases several spirits are concerned. The error which arose in this way through inadvertence was during the seance corrected in a communication given through the table; but it would seem to have escaped you. It is well that you inquire patiently into seeming errors and contradictions. Many, so inquired into, would be found susceptible of explanation, even as this.

[The disturbed state of my mind now caused our sittings to be disturbed. Phenomena were evolved in a very erratic fashion, violently at times, and with great irregularity. It was said that "the instrument being out of tune, the notes extracted from it were jarring and discordant." Sometimes a sitting would soothe me, but sometimes it would work we me up to a pitch of nervous tension, which was extremely painful. It was written on Sept. 30, 1873:--]

Sometimes we are able to quiet and soothe, but not when every nerve is quivering, and the overwrought system is strained to an extremity of tension. We have little power then, and at best can only save you from the risk you run of being seized upon by undeveloped spirits who are attracted by your state. We urge you not at such times to place yourself in communion with our world. We wary of the future for many reasons. Your greater development, which is rapid and progressive, will render you more and more amenable to spiritual influence of all kinds. Such spirits will endeavour to approach you, and by sitting you facilitate their entry to the circle. You need fear no evil, but you may have disturbance. It is well for all highly-developed mediums to be chary of sitting in circles where influences other than those which surround them are gathered. Danger always attends such experiments, and your present tone and temper of mind lays you doubly open to assault. Try to bring to the circle a patient and a passive mind. Your evidence will be the more readily attained if you are content so to act.

[ I replied that I wished so to do, but that I must estimate everything according to my own reason. I put two or three points which seemed to me to be of crucial importance, far more than the communications given from spirits who had borne great names on earth; and who rather perplexed me than otherwise. I did not think it likely that the world's celebrities would come back for the purpose of giving me little bewildering messages. I asked for good and plentiful evidence of the return of a friend who had lately passed from among us, and who had been most deeply interested in our circle. That seemed to me to be an opportunity which might settle the identity question definitely. And I further asked very earnestly for clear and conclusive statements as to the origin, scope, and issue of the movement, specially as to spirit identity. Assuming the truth of statements already made, I pointed out that it was vitally important that the necessary proofs to withstand scoffing and sceptical criticism should be full and unmistakable. At present I had no shred of proof of anything beyond the existence of certain phenomena, and the presence of some external intelligence. I could not act on that. Even if I were willing I was not able to go on till doubts which I could not dispel were cleared from my mind. An answer came to me, Oct. 1, 1873:--]

May the blessing of the All-wise rest upon you! If we do not follow you into all the points or discuss all the questions which you have mooted, you must attribute it to the impossibility of giving you complete evidence which shall be satisfactory to you in your present frame of mind. Though we are thankful to recognise in many particulars a fair and candid spirit in your objection, still we cannot fail to know that at the root of them lies mistrust of our statements and want of confidence in our claims. This is painful to us, and, as we feel, unjust. Doubt is sin in none. Intellectual inability to accept certain statements is not matter for blame. But refusal to weigh evidence fairly, and inclination to set up a personal standard of evidence which is fictitious and selfish, may end in grievous consequences, and this is the ground of our complaint. We respect your doubts, and shall rejoice with you when they are removed. But we blame and censure the attitude which makes it well-nigh impossible for us to remove them; which fences you in as with an icy barrier beyond which we cannot pass; which degrades a candid and progressive soul to a state of isolation and retrogression, and binds the spirit to the dark regions of the nether earth. Such temper of mind is the baleful result of evil influence, and, if it be not checked, it may become a permanent bar to progress.

We have not deserved of you that you should receive us in such a spirit, or that all our attempts at communion should be viewed with jealous and suspicious eye. You are fond of comparing the state of the world and the favoured few in Jud‘a with that which now obtains. We will give you a parallel from the very mouth of Jesus in His answer to those who asked of Him a sign. You know that none was given save one which He Himself selected. We care not now as to the why and wherefore. Perhaps it was impossible: perhaps it was undesirable: perhaps the very attitude of mind precluded the possibility of granting the request. Such is precisely the case with you in this respect. The temper of mind which dictates such arguments as you have addressed to us makes it impossible for us to reply to them in terms pleasing to you. The reasons which presumably operated in the one case now operate in the other. And it should scarcely be necessary to remind you that it was not to the Pharisee, the Sadducee, or the wise in their own conceit, who came to Him seeking to entangle Him in His talk, that Jesus vouchsafed either His words of comfort or His miracles of mercy, but to the humble and the meek, to the poor in spirit, the faithful, earnest souls who were too careful to gather up the blessed truth, and to reap the precious fruit, to care very curiously to inquire in what form it came or under what conditions it was bestowed. It was so throughout His earthly career: and in so doing He did but act as the Father Himself deals with man. The proud, dogmatic, haughty man who informs Omnipotence of what he wants, and murmurs if it be not instantly bestowed, is not the recipient of Divine benediction, but the humble, trustful, prayerful soul, whose cry from the depths of an earnest and loving heart is, "Father, not my will but Thine be done."

This is the law which governs all Divine manifestations. We say nothing now of the identical law which operates amongst you. But we deal thus with you; and we complain that the positive tone of your mind, and the line of dogmatic argument which you have determined to follow, is one that is little fitting in your case. We are compelled, however unwillingly, to visit it with censure. Review the past. Let your mind recur to that phase of your life which you know to have been associated with us. Of the previous care of your guardians extending throughout your life you can have no knowledge yet. The watchful care which developed in you the struggling germ of progress; the tender care of those angel-guards whose watchful protection never failed; the preservations from evil; the guidance in difficulty; the direction in the onward path; the raising of your soul from ignorance and error to knowledge of the truth--this unseen working is to you unknown. But our efforts have not been entirely secret. During the immediate past we have been around and about you day by day. You have known our words and acts; you have received from us constant messages, records of which remain with you. Did a word of ours ever strike your mind as false? Did an act ever seem to you mean, or selfish, or unkind? Have we committed ourselves? Have we spoken to you words that were degrading or foolish? Have we influenced you by wiles which were earthy, by motives that were sordid? Have we led you to a course that is retrogressive? In short, by our fruits if we are judged, has the influence on you been for evil or for good? for God or for His foes? You yourself, are you better or worse for it? more or less ignorant? more or less useful? more or less happy?

We dare any to say of us aught that may reasonably reflect on us, on our acts, or on our teaching. We assert in the face of all who hear that it is God-like, and that our mission is of and from Him.

Nor have we failed to justify our claims by signs following, even as Jesus did and said. We have placed before you a body of convincing evidence to which it would be difficult to add. We have not been chary of complying with your wishes for manifestations of power. Nay, we have even risked doing harm to you in our desire to gratify our friends by the exhibition of the more remarkable manifestations. We have cheerfully granted all requests made to us, when it was possible, and as we, in the exercise of wider wisdom, judged desirable to do so. When we have refused your requests it has been because you have asked impossibilities, or because in your ignorance you have wished for what would do you harm. It is necessary to remind you that we see from a clearer standpoint, and with a more piercing vision than man has yet attained; and we are frequently obliged to refuse requests made in ignorance and folly. But what has been refused, never without good reason, is as a speck to the mountain of evidence which has been given--evidence which is sufficient to prove over and over again the existence of a power external to earth, beneficent in its action, elevating in its operation, and blessed in its issue--a power which can come from none but God, since it is Divine in act and outcome. Yet that power, so proven, so known to you, you distrust, and seriously question the statements which we make to you as to our identity. It is to you, forsooth, a stumbling-block that names which you have exalted should stoop to concern themselves with a Divine Work, under the leadership of Divinely-sent messengers, and designed for the amelioration of man's destiny. And so you refuse credence, and, with daring ignorance, charge on us that we are, or at least may be, impostors, and that we are performing acts of beneficence with a lie in our mouths. This you do though you know that you can devise no reason why we should deceive, no source but God from which we can be derived, no errand but mercy on which we can be sent, no end but man's eternal benefit on which we can be employed.

It is this that constitutes your fault, as we are bound to censure it in you. We tell you that it is in you sin, and that we will have no dealings with you on such terms. We will give no signs so demanded. We have reached the limits beyond which we will not go, and warn you that it is at your own peril that you despise what has been placed before you. We charge you solemnly that you meditate on the past, that you ponder its lessons, weigh its evidence, and pause before you wilfully put aside such a body of teaching, and such a mass of evidence merely for an idea.

More we will not now give. We refuse to be judged as you would judge; and we appeal from yourself blind and foolish to that calmer and truer self whom we chose originally as the recipient of our teaching. That appeal you must entertain according to the ability and honesty which is in you. By it we stand or fall as regards you. We wish you decide fairly, and as in the sight of God--not hastily or rashly, but as one who knows the magnitude of the issues, and the vastness of the responsibility of decision.

Meantime seek not for further evidence; it will not be given. We warn you to avoid mixing with other circles. At your risk do you seek communication thus. You will but perplex and bewilder yourself, and render our task more difficult. We will afford you information on points that may arise; and we do not absolutely forbid, though we discourage, the meeting of our own circle. We can give no new evidence there, and, if you meet, it must be with a desire for explanation, and for the promotion of harmonious intercourse. We hinted to you long ago that rest and reflection are needful for you. We now enjoin them on you. If our circle will meet, we will join them occasionally under certain conditions, which we will tell you of. But we discourage any such meetings. You will not be left alone; rather you will be doubly guarded. We leave you our blessing, and we guard you with our prayers. May the All-wise guide you! May He direct you, for you cannot direct yourself.