Section XXIV

[I asked a question as to that interval of time between the records of the Old and New Testaments of which we have no account in the Bible.]

Of that age you have no record, because the influence of the Spirit was withdrawn save in cases of rare influence rarely exerted. We do not dwell on that, because we wish to point out the grand chain of spiritual influence from Melchizedek to Jesus. Sufficient now that you know that it was a period of darkness and desolation and spiritual dearth, after which we were again enabled to awaken in the minds of men an expectation of dawning light. The first ray of light shot across the world--that portion of it with which alone we are now concerned--when men were led to feel their blindness, and to look onward to a time when the pall should be lifted, and the light should shine again.

It is ever so with the races of men. Though the corporeal may so far assert itself from time to time that the spiritual be to all appearance completely eclipsed, it is not actually so. The period of darkness gives place to dawning light, and the spiritual germ asserts its existence. The spirit-power is renewed, and man awakes to the knowledge of divine truths higher than he had before conceived. It is as with the man who has laid him down to rest, tired with the labours of the day. Darkness has gathered around him; his spirit is chafed and wearied with toil; his body tired and worn. Gloom outer and inner settles on his spirit, and he falls into sleep. Tired nature is restored, the wearied mind is recuperated, and he wakes again to find the bright sun shining with its blessed beams upon him. Elasticity returns to mind and body, and his spirit rejoices in the life and beauty that surround him. The joy of morning is come.

Even so it is with the spiritual experiences of the generations of mankind. There come epochs when the old spirit-teachings which were so satisfying pall on the understanding. The mind of man wearies itself with questionings. The material side of humanity predominates. Doubts and difficulties creep in, take root, bear fruit. One truth after another is questioned, one fact after another denied, until man feels that the blessed sunlight of Divine truth is being veiled from his eyes. The sun sinks below the spiritual horizon, and the night of inaction, and weariness, and thick darkness begins. The Spirit of God strives not; the night of ignorance and gloomy despair reigns, and the spirit-messengers bide their time, waiting for the moment when the sleeping souls shall stir again and turn towards the light. Sure as that man's spirit is not dead but sleepeth, that moment comes, and in the dawning of the morn the messengers of God sing their anthem of praise to Him who brings light and joy out of darkness and despair.

Such period intervened between the spiritual epoch which closed with the Old Testament record and that when the voice of the forerunner sounded. Such has recurred in days immediately preceding your own. We are directing you to the dawn, and doubt not that it shall be now as ever, that the morning shall be one of increased knowledge, of extended experience, of more assured belief. The morning light shall be stronger and clearer than the twilight that has preceded it. Only wait and watch. Be ready to catch the inspiration lest it fail and pass away, and you turn again to slumber, and the opportunity be lost.

[I inquired whether such a period of darkness invariably followed one epoch of revelation and preceded another.]

It is necessary to be more precise. It is not always a period of darkness, but at times a period of rest and repose after excitement and deep stirring. To borrow again an illustration from your earth. The body needs repose for a period of assimilation. So much of truth has been given as the world can assimilate, and the process goes on till more is needed. The craving precedes the revelation.

Then revelation is more from within--subjective?

The internal craving is correspondent to the external revelation: we have said before that man cannot receive more than he is prepared for. He is gradually led by spirit-guidance to a higher plane of knowledge, and then, when the need is felt, advanced and progressive information is given to him. Those of you who have questioned whether man does not evolve for himself a theoretic or speculative system which comes entirely from within, are not informed as to the operations of the Divine messengers. At the very outset of our information to you we explained that man was only the vehicle of spirit-guidance. What he wrongly imagines to be the evolution of his own mind is in reality the outcome of spirit-teaching which acts through him. Some of your greater minds have wandered near the truth when they have so speculated. Did they but know enough of spirit-teaching to be aware of the influence that acts upon them, they would be far nearer the truth than those who have fancied that their Bible contains a complete and infallible Revelation, to which nothing will ever be added, and from which no scrap may ever be removed as useless. It is not necessary for practical purposes in your life on earth to speculate on the exact correlation between man's mental action and God's revelation. You may easily bewilder yourself by vain attempts to separate the inseparable and to define the indefinable. Sufficient that we tell you that spirit- preparation precedes your knowledge, and enables the progressive mind to evolve for itself higher views of truth, those very views being not the less the very voice of the messenger of truth. And so revelation is correlative with man's needs.

It is to us curious how perpetually man seeks to define his own part in our work. What if we use the readiest means to our hand, and instead of keeping to the sterile work of acting without human agency, influence the mind and mould the thoughts of those whom we influence? Is that a less noble and profitable work than producing some curious phenomenal action apart from human means--as the juggler who astonishes and amuses by apparently inexplicable tricks? We have done enough to show an independent action. Cease to tie down our work by confining it to so narrow a groove and learn to receive the impressions which we can convey to the mind, and which will be all the more vivid because we find material stored up there. You need not fear that we shall find there anything which will supersede the necessity for our teaching.

Scarcely. But I want to keep my own individuality out of the question. And, on wider grounds, many great thinkers have doubted the possibility of Divine revelation at all. They argue that man cannot receive what he cannot understand, and that no external revelation can make a home in his mind which he could not have evolved for himself.

They are answered in what has been already written. You will see as time goes on how wrong is such conclusion. We do but protest against the mechanical nature of the work to which you would condemn us. Even when you imagine your own mind to be most assuredly acting you err, for there is no such thing with you as independent action. You have always been guided and influenced by us.

[Some days after the above communication, I asked as to some conclusions to which I had come in reading over the Gospels with the new light which I had received. I seemed to see them in a new light altogether. I wondered whether my conclusions were true, and whether they were new.]

The result is in the main correct. The conclusions are not new. They have been reached long ago by those who have been enabled to case aside trammels, and pursue truth without clogs and fetters. It has been given to many.

Then why cannot I read their works? It would save trouble.

Better you should arrive by your own paths at the results, which you may then compare with the conclusion of others.

You always work so. It seems roundabout. If this be so, why was I allowed to live so long in error?

We have told you already that you were not fitted to receive truth. Your past life, which has not been so long as you imagine, was a careful preparation for progress. It was in its day useful and progressive, but only as leading you on to higher planes of knowledge. The time will come when you will look back on this too, which now is new and strange, and wonder how it could have seemed to you so startling.

Life, the totality of your being, is progressive throughout; and its early stages are but preparatory to its later development.

Theology was a necessary phase in your training, and we were both unwilling and unable to prevent you from taking erroneous views. Be content to pursue your present path. It has been one of our chiefest difficulties to uproot false dogmas from your mind. It has been steady work, and now we hope that you may find out much respecting the question of revelation which will enable us to clear away false opinions and infuse true knowledge. We can do little so long as traditional reverance for any mere words, however venerable in their associations, is implanted in your mind. We must wait till you can appreciate at its real value each utterance made through man, whether that utterance be contained in your Bible or not. So long as you reply to our arguments with a text we cannot teach you. Any one who can so reply is beyond reach of reasonable teaching.

There are many points to which you may well direct your mind in the life and teachings of the Christ before we throw upon it the light which we are able to give. Your study of the records of His life may lead you to discuss the question of their reliability, the source from which they were derived, the authority which they claim. You may deal with such questions as these: the account of the incarnation; the atonement, as grounded on the words--first of Jesus, and then of those who spoke in His name; the miracles; the crucifixion and resurrection. You may ponder these points: the teaching of the Christ about man's duty to God and his fellows as compared with ours; Jesus' views on prayer, and those of His followers; the duty of resignation and self- abnegation as put forth by Him and them; charity; pardon on repentance and conversion; heaven and hell; reward and punishment.

On such questions as these you are now prepared to enter honestly. Prior to this you would have sought only to find a preconceived conclusion. Weigh first the validity of the records. Settle the exact weight to be given to their statements; and then select the teaching of Jesus in such way as you would select the teaching and system of a Socrates, a Plato, or an Aristotle. Translate Eastern hyperbole into sober fact. Estimate the utterances of enthusiasm by calm reason. Cast aside that which is merely legendary, mythical, or traditional, and dare to walk alone, untrammelled by any bonds, and unfettered by dread of any conclusion at which you may arrive. Dare to trust God, and seek for truth. Dare to think soberly, calmly, about revelation.

To such a seeker shall come a knowledge of which he little dreams; a comfort which no creed of tradition can afford. He will know of God and of His truth as none can know who has not trodden the path of personal investigation. He will know of things Divine as the traveller knows of a far-off country when he has himself visited it and lived amongst its people. Round him will centre the ministry of enlightenment, the guidance of the spirits whose mission it is to proclaim truth and progress to mankind. Old prejudices will fall away; old fallacies will shrink from the new light into congenial darkness; and the soul will stand unbound in the presence of Truth. Be of good cheer. Jesus it was who said, "The Truth shall make you free, and you shall be free indeed."

[I said it was worth any cost, if attainable. I was not sanguine, and rather grumbled at being left to grope.]

We do not leave you. We help, but we may not save you from personal labour. You must do your part. When you have laboured, we will direct and guide you to knowledge. Believe us, it is best that you do this. In no other way can you learn the truth. If we told you, you would not believe us, nor would you understand. There is much outside of this question of the Christian revelation that you must look to; other Divine words; other spiritual influences; but not yet.

Cease: and may the Blessed One illuminate you!

+IMPERATOR.