Section XXI

[During this time my state was such as to preclude any sort of manifestation that could bring satisfaction to my mind. I was powerfully influenced, and all my endeavours could not bring me any satisfaction. I was forced to recur to the past, and to try to gain some coherent view of what had been said. Though I did not in the least realise what was going on in me, I can see now that this was part of the educational process to which I was being subjected. I was compelled to traverse the past again and again, to review the arguments from every possible standpoint, and to tear them to pieces again. I hardly rested day or night, so vehement was the influence that dominated me. Only when at work, with which I never suffered anything to interfere, was my mind occupied with any other subject. I made a stern rule, which has never been broken in these ten years, that I would always do my daily work before I permitted myself to think on these engrossing subjects. When I did turn to them, the mind was absolutely filled by them.

As the result of all my pondering I came to the conclusion that no good end could be served by reiterating objections which I was far from considering that Imperator had met. I regarded his reply as a piece of special pleading. I never denied the claims put forward by him, and he ignored utterly what seemed to me of the last importance. I considered that I had a complete right to require proof which should satisfy my own judgment as to identity, and which should establish in my mind a conviction that I was not the sport of my own fancy, or of a delusion, or of an organised attempt to deceive. So I simply stated again what my difficulty was, saying that it had not been met, and that a threat of withdrawal only made matters worse. I professed my readiness to wait, to review what had been said, and to hear and weigh anything that might be added. But I stated firmly that I could go no step further until my judgment was satisfied. I pointed out that vague denunciation was not with us considered to be reply, and that a frame of mind such as mine was not fairly described in terms that had been used. Moreover, I submitted that to tell me that Jesus Christ refused all tests save those of His own choosing--while undoubtedly a strong point--was perhaps a dangerous argument to advance. As to the threat of withdrawal, I said that it would only be to leave me in my present state of uncertainty, not to say of disbelief, and its result must be to cause me to throw over the whole matter as a tangled web which I could not unravel: which might be useful if one could disentangle it, but which might be useless and unprofitable, and which probably was not worth the trouble. The answer came at once:--]

FRIEND, we have weighed what you say, and we are disposed to recognise the cogency of your reply. We did not intend in the words which we felt constrained to employ to censure your desire for information, but rather the attitude of mind which seemed to prescribe to us conditions with which we felt ourselves unable to comply. And we intended to convey forcibly to your mind the impression which was made upon us by constant opposition, or at least by the perpetual presence in your mind of anxiety and mistrust. Such inharmonious conditions hamper us. We have a mission to discharge, and we are not content to wait and waste precious time and opportunity. We have a work to do, and it must be done; if not through this circle of friends, then through others. And we did but state our intention of withdrawing from you because we accepted your own statement that it was impossible for you to go forward until we had complied with your conditions. We could not do so, and felt the necessity of withdrawal. We have no wish to break the connection we have formed, and to undo the work which has been so laboriously accomplished. It may be that in the future we may influence you more fully. It may be that rest and reflection may help us and you. We urge you to ponder and meditate, and to ask only at rare intervals for communications in circle. Only when an earnest desire for communion exists will we give it. We are not desirous indeed to add anything to what has already been given. The additions to our circle which you speak of are not desirable. Every such addition involves a change of conditions which causes much anxious care and trouble to us, which we do not grudge when there is prospect of advantage. In this case there is not, and we must discourage the scheme.

All attempts at physical experiment with yourself we absolutely forbid. You are certainly unable to bear the strain which such could involve; especially now, you set too much store by mere physical marvels. They are at best subsidiary. And you run risk of injury by sitting in strange circles. We discourage all such attempts. They do but retard progress, and will end in injury and disappointment. Such a course is never beneficial to you; and though we have not interfered to prevent you from joining other circles, we tell you that we must repress such attempts now. If we are to work with you, you must seclude yourself from other influences. This is essential. If you do not, you render yourself so far the worse for our work, and run grave risk of possession by intelligences whom you would avoid, did you know more of the risk you run, and with whom we could have no part. You err in supposing that your power is of value to other spirits in other circles. We prevent that; and you will gain no proofs in that way, nor be of service in helping other mediums; rather the reverse. We cannot allow you to be so used.

For the present we do not enter further into the points raised. Did we not know integrity and truth to govern your mind, we should long since have ceased to take pains which yield so little fruit. Ignorance has caused you to do much that you would not have done had you been wiser. And though our friends have not aided us as we hoped, we have desired to do all we can to benefit them and you. But there is a limit to our power and will in such matters, and we should act unwisely did we attempt to force on you that for which collectively you are not fit. Hereafter it may be done; now we see it impossible to do more. We shall not attempt fresh efforts. We cannot spend further time and pains on that which, you have convinced us, is useless. Your arguments prove at any rate that your mind has not grasped the true nature of our work. We are not able, nor indeed are we willing, to comply with the suggested tests which you prescribe. It is not thus that conviction is assured, and God's messengers avouched. Compliance would but cause further demands; and conviction cannot be established by any such material means.

Meditate rather on what has been done. You have put aside what we have laid before you. We do not blame you for honestly rejecting what does not commend itself to you. But this done, we have no alternative. The choice is of eternal import, and you appear to have made it; whether wisely, time will show; and it may then be possible for you to undo some of the effects of your choice. We would even yet hope that a careful review of your position may induce you to retreat from it.

+IMPERATOR.

[On the following day, Oct. 4, 1873, the writing was resumed. Some of it was purely personal that I prefer not to print it. It was couched throughout in terms of great solemnity and commenced with an invocation. The gist of it all was the reiteration of the claims previously made, and the concession of some points which I had insisted on, especially that of the threatened withdrawal. On this point the reply shows such evidence of pure human reason, and is so typical of the logical method in which this Intelligence has always dealt with my arguments, that I print it as it stands, though so personal in its nature. It was written with great clearness and rapidity, and entirely without knowledge on my part of what the substance was until it was complete:--]

I, the servant of God, the minister of the Most High, and the guide and guardian of your spirit, implore upon you the divine benediction. The Holy and Loving Father bless you. May the influences, invisible but potent, by which you are surrounded be gracious and powerful for your good. It has been strongly urged on us that we should pause before we abandon all our efforts to act further upon you. This has especially been put forward by ---- [a friend recently dead, who had communicated with me very soon after his departure], whose knowledge of the conditions of belief which beset you is more fresh and vivid than our own. It has been urged that, while our work must be done through others if not through you, still that time should be given for consideration, and that no one who has received the mass of evidence which you have can in the end resist complete conviction of the truth. The point of view from which you see, the mists of prejudices which enshroud even a candid mind, the influences which the adversaries are able to throw around you, the difficulties which must beset attempts at spirit intercourse--all these are points which are to be borne in mind. And while we, knowing as we do the truth and sincerity of all that seems to you dubious, can scarcely grasp your position, we are still hopeful that the earnestness and reality of your doubts will be the measure of the strength of your conviction in the future.

So long as your frame of mind did not surround you with an atmosphere in which we were not able to act upon you, we confined ourselves to replying to your difficulties. But when the circle which we had gathered with such pains and care became so broken as to be useless, and so inharmonious that it was impossible for us to establish a control in most cases, our plans were frustrated, and we were forced to consider if any good could come of further efforts. The constant repetition of physical phenomena was far from our wish. It is not for such purpose that we are with you. And even if it were, we could not use your organism for that mode of manifestation. The daily demand which you make upon your vital power, and the peculiar nature of your bodily strength, constantly fluctuating, preclude any such attempts. It needs a ruder organism on which no other demands are made to safely carry out such experiments. We have indeed successfully communicated to you in this way by writing much that we desired to say. But, after all, we found that a great part of our work was confined to answering your objections, and, as regards our circle, the great end we have in view remained unaccomplished.

It was while we were perplexed and troubled thus that you put forward a demand for certain tests which we found it impossible as well as undesirable to give. We felt that they would but be the prelude to more; and we knew that you had not sufficiently weighed the evidence already given. Moreover, we could, at our own opportunity, supply better proof than that which you ignorantly asked for. So we decided that if you were withdrawn from spirit communion, by the withdrawal of communications, your mind would probably recur to the past, and learn its lessons aright. But we have in view the alternative prospect, which is that we are unable to cut off the power which is in you, though we may refuse to use it; and so that you would run the risk of its being seized upon by others, and deceit and falsehood might find and entry, and our work be utterly set at naught. We dare not ignore this risk. Nor can we refuse to acknowledge that to leave you now might be to allow you to relapse into disbelief. From the habit of pure logical deduction, which in you supersedes intuition to a great extent, it might result that you would cease to believe what had ceased to recur daily. Impressions would fade, and gradually die out.

It seems, then, that patient waiting is the only course that does not present difficulty. We are not able to prophesy results; but we know the two roads that lie before you, and that you will pursue whichever of them your reason chooses. We have no power, even if we had the wish, to force your choice. Its responsibility rests solely on yourself. You may choose well, and your spirit be put on the road to progress and enlightenment; or you may refuse the opportunity, and find that you have thereby consigned yourself to darkness and retrogression in the future. That rests with you. We abate not a jot of our claims: rather do we magnify them. You will know in the future more clearly what they are. For the present, earnest, prayerful, and careful study is due to us, and what we have put before you. Go over the past: weigh its teachings, study its records, draw out in words your conclusions from it. Mark the progress made. Record with minute care the process by which what you admit to be a Divine Creed has been elaborated; and then carry on your mind to the future. Look down the vista of the ages yet to come; reflect that you stand but on the very threshold--that much remains to be eradicated before your spirit can progress--that much has to be cleared away before the building can be raised--that eternity is before you, and that we proffer to you the key of knowledge.

Pause, we implore you, before you reject what comes a second time to none. Rejected, it will be a curse that shall rest like a dark shadow on your soul through the ages. Accepted, it shall be a jewel that shall shine with increasing lustre, brighter and brighter yet through eternity.

Pray rather, pray to the Great Father that He will bless your work, and allow us to guide you still. Pray that your spirit may be raised from the cold, cheerless atmosphere of earth to commune with the bright intelligences that wait to instruct you. Few have been so tended; shall it be that few have so little benefited? Our prayer shall mingle with yours that such may not be, but that you may be protected from influences of ill, bodily and spiritual, and that you may be led on to higher fields of knowledge and to clearer and more perfect trust.

Father!--Eternal, Infinite, All-wise--we draw near to Thee, and lay before Thee our petitions, knowing that Thou dost hear us and wilt answer our prayers. Eternal God, remove from our path the bars and clogs that hinder and hamper us. Loving Father, shed into the doubting heart a beam of light to illumine the dark corners, and to drive out the lurking foe. Mighty Master, bear down to us that consolation which we need in our labour. Great the labour, great must be the love. Great is the work, great must be the power. Grant it, Almighty Power! and to Thee will we render our praises. Before Thee we will testify of our grateful adoration, and to Thee will we bring the free-will offering of our loving homage. Glory and blessing and honour and praise be to Thee from angel and spirit through Thy universe!

+IMPERATOR.

[The above communication was practically the conclusion of this phase of the argument. I did not feel immediately convinced, but the cessation of argument, and to a great extent of communication of all kinds with the world of spirit, left me free to estimate the past. I could judge more calmly when direct influence was in abeyance, and conviction of the honesty, sincerity, and truth of the communications grew by slow degrees from this date; or rather, perhaps, I should say that faith was perceptibly deepened, and doubt imperceptibly removed.]