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Man and the Spiritual World


In the foregoing pages, we have seen that the Bible, by disclosing certain facts concerning our being and constitution, and the great Spiritual World with which we are so closely connected, has answered, clearly and definitely, the important Question—'What will become of us when we die?'

It has told us that we are beings possessed of a spirit and a spirit-body, which are enwrapped, while we live out our first phase of existence on the plane of matter, in an exterior physical body; and that, when at death this physical body is laid aside, this spirit and spirit-body will obtain their complete 'adaptation to environment' in a Spiritual World, where the second phase of existence, coloured and complexioned by the life that has preceded it, will be started; and where education and progress will be possible.

And with regard to those facts disclosed by the Bible, be it remembered that they are not presented to us for acceptance simply and solely on the basis of faith.

There is the antecedent probability that those records of spiritual experiences are true. There is no call in accepting them for an authoritative pronouncement that they must be believed because they are in the Bible; no need to set our thinking powers aside, and to unquestioningly assent to what we are told. We are required by Scripture to believe certain great truths only on the grounds of faith, but those records of spiritual experiences are not among that number. Later history furnishes a testimony of such a character as to make it more likely that those Bible-records are true than untrue. The things that happened long ago, have happened since.

Many and many of the experiences of the Spiritual, declared by the Bible to have been vouchsafed to men and women in the past, are credible, because they have been vouchsafed again and again to mankind during the intervening centuries, and are being vouchsafed to thousands living to-day. To those of us who have investigated the subject, the knowledge of present-day facts concerning the Spiritual in us and about us, makes it an easy matter to believe the testimony of the Bible as to facts that completely coincide with them. We do not have to do as so many good and earnest Christians have had to do in order to persuade themselves that they believe the Word of God, viz., to close the ears against the slightest breath of criticism, and to religiously chloroform the mind for fear it should think. We have not a shadow of reason for doubting the records of that Book. It does but tell us great facts as to spirit-life which are capable of verification, inasmuch as they are taking place now. When we know that persons now living are possessed of powers of clairvoyance and clairaudience, why question the Bible when it tells us of those similarly gifted long ago? When we ourselves have seen persons exhibiting powers of thought and speech which we can prove to be not their own, why invent an ingenious theory to explain away the statements of Scripture, that men and women were controlled by spiritual beings, and that Christ and others cast out from them the evil spirits?

What an enormous gain is it to all who view the Bible—as we do—as the Text-Book of truth for all time, if they can take those records of spiritual phenomena, not as symbolisms nor allegories; not as mysterious, extraordinary occurrences that happened long ago, and detached and isolated from all that can possibly happen now; but as facts whose correspondences are to be found in the subsequent and present-day history of mankind!

Thus, only, is it possible for the assent we give to the statements of Scripture to rise out of the region of credulity into the higher and better atmosphere of real faith in which the intellectual powers of a man are called into play, and conviction, grounded on reason, can live and grow.

There is another consideration to which we would direct the reader's attention. It is this. The tendency of scientific thought, in regard to the investigation of Psychical phenomena, and that also which is known as 'Spiritualism,' is decidedly to confirm the Bible's declarations as to the nature of Man, and the existence of something non-physical or ultra-physical within and about him. The subject is too great a one to be dealt with in the closing pages of this volume. Those who are abreast of the science of to-day well know that many of the ablest of our scientific men have discarded the idea that it is any longer possible to account for Man and a certain class of his experiences on the supposition that he is merely material. One of these scientists who, although not a Spiritualist, admits the phenomena of Modern Spiritualism, writes: 'Spiritism has also served a noble purpose, in that it has stayed the wave of materialism which swept like a cyclone over the civilised world, upon the announcement of the doctrine of organic evolution.'

The scientific men who have not stared so intently at the physical as to lose all perception of the Spiritual, not only now acknowledge such facts as Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Telepathy and the genuineness of phenomena termed 'Spiritualistic,' but admit that there exists in Man two minds; that he possesses powers that transcend the senses, which constitutes presumptive evidence that those powers do not perish when the senses are extinguished; and also that the phenomena referred to cannot be explained by any hypothesis that excludes the non-physical.

We give an extract from a work of a well-known and distinguished scientist. He writes:—

'It will now be conceded that whilst the existence of a dual mind in Man is presumptively proven by the very nature of the phenomena exhibited, it is conclusively demonstrated by the facts of physiology and cerebral anatomy. . . . The objective mind is the function of the brain, and ceases when the brain dies, or is destroyed. The subjective mind, on the other hand, belongs to an entity, which is neither dependent for its existence, nor for the power to perform its functions, upon the vitality, or even the existence, of the brain.'

In the face of a conclusion such as this, openly professed, not by a doctor of theology, but by a man of science, where, we ask, is the difficulty of accepting the statements of the Bible, that Moses, Samuel, our Lord, the crucified robber, the departed Antediluvians, 'the souls under the altar,' and others, were, after death, living entities who could think and speak?

The time is coming, and it is not far off, we think, when the belief of mankind as to the existence of a spirit within them and a Spiritual World environing them, will rest as it did in days of old, and when Jesus walked this earth, on ascertained fact. Tens of thousands now are getting to know what they once only believed; and Science, banned and excommunicated by Popes and Christians for centuries, will ere long be shown to be the handmaid of true religion— the prover that the Bible is true, and that Man and his surroundings are interpenetrated by the Spiritual.

It only remains for us, in a few closing words, to point out the bearing of all we have considered upon our religious thought, and upon some of the common, but most affecting, experiences of life. If, in regard to Man and the Spiritual World, the case be such as we think the Bible has very clearly disclosed it to be, it must considerably re-complexion some of the common ideas held concerning the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as ideas as to what we are, and what we shall be when this brief span of earthly existence shall have been lived out, and we shall form part of that great multitude who have passed beyond the veil. Moreover, we cannot grasp these overlooked truths of Scripture without exalting our conceptions of God and of His revelations made to mankind through His eternal Son. That, surely, will be an enormous gain to true Religion. It will mean the pruning away of some of the errors that have been grafted on the stock of Divine truth during the centuries. The Religion of Jesus itself will be all the better for the pruning. As the truths with which we have dealt are realised, Christianity will assume an attractiveness and a reasonableness which will woo thousands of thoughtful men to its ranks.

Like a burst of Divine sunshine, those truths will disperse the earth-born fogs, which, gendered in the heated atmosphere of fevered imaginations of men like Augustine, Calvin and others, have enwrapped in awful gloom the theology of the past, distorted man's vision of the great Father-God, blurred His glorious truth, and sent hundreds of thousands of our fellow-creatures shuddering into the shades of a cheerless Agnosticism. It will be possible, then, for such to love and revere the Lord and His Christ. Yes; the grasping of these great truths will invest the Gospel with reasonableness. It is not reasonable—and all the learned sophistry of the theological schools cannot make it reasonable—to imagine that a God, whose name is 'Love,' should coerce into Heaven by 'irresistible grace' a few royal favourites, and indifferently pass over and allow to drift into perdition, without any effort to rescue them, earth's teeming myriads.

It is not reasonable to suppose that the everlasting destiny of the bulk of mankind, whom God wills to be saved, and who have never so much as heard of a Saviour, should be determined by a brief earth-life. It is not reasonable to believe that a solitary act of faith and repentance at the fag-end of a misspent life can enable a person to suddenly acquire a moulded and perfected character, and a spirit replete with every Christ-like grace. It is not reasonable to teach in one breath that Christ is 'the Saviour of all men,' and was manifested 'to destroy the works of the devil,' and in the next breath to teach that the knowledge of Him cannot be vouchsafed to the ignorant and unsaved crowds that throng the Spirit-World, and that, when the end shall come, those crowds shall be the everlasting witnesses that evil, not Christ, has triumphed.

These are strong words, I know; but not too strong as a protest against a great deal of what has been written and labelled as 'Gospel.'

Some there will be who will read these pages, and deny the conclusions at which we have arrived. To such we say—Put all we have affirmed in the form of negative propositions, and then ask which is the better Gospel; the one more Scriptural, more worthy of God and the beautiful Christ as He is photographed in the New Testament. Is yours, which denies the educational character of the Spiritual World, and shuts off the Saviour from poor lost sheep in that World; or is ours (or rather God's), which enables us to accept, without any mental reservations, the glorious truths that the Father is 'Love,' and the Christ is unchanged, and that one day He shall not be disappointed because He has failed to 'draw all men' to Himself, but 'shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied'? (Isa. liii. 11 v.).

Ask yourself—Which is the more likely to be true —a Gospel, in the scope of which there is room enough for the exercise of all the acknowledged attributes of God—His love, mercy, justice, compassion and infinite solicitude for the happiness and well-being of man; or a 'Gospel' which has converted those attributes into their opposites for all except a selfish 'elect,' and has taught (according to Augustine) that there are 'infants in Hell a span-long,' and (according to Calvin and his narrow-minded followers) that the bulk of the human race will be fiendishly tortured throughout the ages of eternity?

May God have had mercy upon, and have enlightened in the World Beyond, those two theologically hard and cruel men. It was their teaching that made the Inquisition in Spain and the fires at Smithfield possible. It is their teaching that has cast such a blighting shadow, and lain as a horrible nightmare, upon Western theology. They so pared away, and taught others to pare away, the love and goodness of the Almighty as to call forth that awful reply of an earnest man to a rigid Calvinist—'Sir, if what you say be Christianity, I never can become a Christian. Your God is my devil'

Glance, now, at the bearing of the grand truths we have considered upon two of the experiences of our life that most affect us. We refer to (a) the experience that has come to all of us, viz., that of being severed by death from those we love best, and (b) the experience awaiting all, viz., that of facing, in one's own person, the fact of dying. Take the first. When the desolating hand of Death has removed from our side a beloved one, it is a terrible and a mind-paralysing ordeal to be able only to focus our thoughts upon a grave in which a dear dead form has been laid; when a loving man or woman, who has not realised the truth about a Spiritual World and a life after death, has to stand at a newly-raised mound and say, 'There lies the being in whom all the noblest and best feelings of my nature centred themselves—Dead! Dead!'

Yes, it is a terrible experience; but a very common one. It ought not, after more than eighteen centuries of Christian teaching and preaching, to be a common one; but it is. Thousands and thousands of Christians who go to their Church or Chapel, who believe in the Saviour and reverence the Bible, have that experience. It should not be so; it would not be so if Christian teachers had taught the whole of revealed truth. But this is what they have not done. The pulpit, the theological works and the religious tracts, whatever else they may have done, have not shown how much the Religion of Jesus can lessen the pang of separation and remove 'the sting of death.'

We do not mean that a future Life has not been taught; nor do we assert that there has not been a belief that something or other of departed ones has survived the 'catastrophe' of dying, and that one day, ever so long ahead, all will come right—the dear 'dead' one will again become the real man or woman. But we do mean that the teaching of the past as to what is beyond the grave has been very, very vague and uncomforting. The departed father, mother, husband, wife, child or friend has been viewed as dead, rather than as living; as lying in the churchyard, rather than as energising and advancing in a World of activity. Do you doubt the truth of this assertion? What mean, then, the skulls and crossbones on Christian tombstones; the broken columns; the funeral urns; the epitaphs eloquent on death, but significantly silent on life?

What mean the black clothes and the other gloomy symbols of pagan despair? What mean those religious services, in which figure catafalques and empty coffins, and black altar-frontals, and the monotonous chanting of dismal dirges and requiems by sombrely-vested priests? What means the custom of speaking of the departed as if they did not exist? What means it that the Church in past ages, and the Church of to-day, in teaching us not to forget our dear ones at the throne of grace when they have gone hence, has made the grievous mistake of calling such intercessions 'Prayers for the Dead,' instead of 'Prayers for the living Departed'? Are not all these things so many indications that the Christian world has not adequately grasped the import of the Saviour's words, spoken to a mourning woman, who, although she believed in a distant resurrection, did not understand the truth concerning an antecedent World of spirit and life—'Whosoever believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?' That question was unanswered by Martha, and there are thousands, like her, whose imperfect knowledge of the Spiritual makes it impossible for them to say 'yes' to it.

Now let us flash upon the experience of separation from dear ones the light of Divine truth as it reaches us through the medium of the Bible.

What does that light disclose? First, those dear ones of ours in a World of spirit, not as shapeless essences, not as comatose entities who have been robbed by Death of the power to see, to hear, to speak, to think, to feel, to love and to continue their interest in those they have left behind; but as beings who are not less human because the Almighty Father has seen fit to strip them of the rough cloak of the physical. We see, by the eye of reason and faith, spirits who are encased in spiritual bodies of form and organisation, which have faculties and powers surpassing our own, and which make their owners far more the real men and women than we, limited by the restrictions of coarse matter, can possibly be.

What does that light disclose? we ask again. That there exist marvellous possibilities of inter-communication between us and dear ones who are more completely in the Spiritual World than we at present are. That unseen by physical eyes, and unheard by physical ears, drawn by the mighty magnets of God-begotten love and sympathy, the departed husband may be often close beside the sorrowing widow; the mother by the orphaned child; the child by the weeping parent, and that they, although unseen and unperceived by us, may be God's ministers, God's angels of light from a higher sphere, to spiritually suggest to us, to help us, and to lead us to restfulness, to hope, to nobler thoughts, to truer life and to God.

Yes, and more than this does that light disclose. It shows us that there will be times when the obscuring veil of the physical will be drawn aside for some of us, even in the midst of the surroundings of common earthly life, and for all of us when we come to die; and that then will be seen and recognised those whom we 'have loved long since, and lost awhile.'

Once more we ask—What does that light disclose? A glorious World of spiritual intelligence, life and progress, over whose portal gleams the hope-inspiring word, 'Excelsior'—'Higher'; a World of magnificent possibility for every human creature whom the Father loves, and for whom the Saviour has humbled Himself and died; a World in which all that is good and noble in our dear departed ones will, assuredly, be expanded and matured; where all that is evil and imperfect, even at the cost of painful discipline and pruning, will be eliminated and improved; where the partner, the parent and the child, will grow in the knowledge and love of God, and in likeness to His Christ, until they become the spirits of just men and women 'made perfect,' and at last shall be 'numbered with God's saints in glory everlasting.'

With such thoughts as these concerning the World of Spirit and our dear ones there, what more natural, more thoroughly Christ-like and consistent with sanctified common sense and real faith, than that we should pray for them!

To the Christian mourner, whose so-called 'Evangelical' ideas will be shocked by these words, we commend the following incident.

Some time ago, a Low-Church clergyman called upon me, and in the course of conversation the subject of praying for the Departed was started. I was somewhat astonished when he said, 'Shall I tell you how I came to use such prayers? It was when I was a little boy of about nine years of age,' he continued. 'On the evening of the day on which my father died, I was crying bitterly as I knelt down as usual at my mother's knees to say my prayers. I had been upstairs in the death-chamber, and the sight of the still, white face had terrified and distressed me. To comfort me, my mother (a good Wesleyan) told me I must not cry, that my father was still alive, and was thinking about and loving us still; that he had gone to another World, where he was with God, and God was taking care of him. I was glad of this, and ceased my weeping, and went on with my evening prayers. Presently I came to the part where I had always said, "God bless father and mother." I paused, and was just going to leave out the word "father," when my mother's words flashed across my mind—"Father is still alive, and is with God Who is taking care of him."

'In a moment my mind was made up. If that was so, of course I must speak to God about him. So I prayed, "God bless father who has gone to be with You, and mother." From that evening I have never ceased to pray for him. Years afterwards my mother told me she thought that childish prayer was wrong, but she had not forbidden me using it, because it would have seemed, she said, had she done so, to contradict her words spoken to me when I was crying, and I might have asked a question that she would not have been able to answer—"Mother, why must I not speak to God about father, if father is alive and with God?'"

'Become as a little child,' said Jesus. Yes, and I would to God that our teachers and preachers had less of the 'doctrine' of the cold and unsympathetic theologians and schoolmen, and more of the God-implanted instinct, the faith, and the spiritual sense and perception of the little child!

One thing is absolutely certain. It is this: that those who pray for their dear ones Beyond are they who best realise the great fact of a World of Spirit, and extract the most comfort from the Gospel of Jesus when the shadow of bereavement is resting upon them.

Lastly, the grand truths considered in these pages must, if grasped, powerfully affect the experience of facing in one's own person the fact of dying. A good deal of the religious teaching, past and present, has created the idea that it is an indication of exalted piety to frequently concentrate the mind upon dying. To sit in a gloomy cell, in front of a skull and an hour-glass, and depressingly meditate on 'Death'; to dig one's own grave in the monastery burial-ground, and sleep in one's coffin; to wearily and morbidly pore over a wretched little manual on 'Mortality'; to afflict oneself by reading as a 'religious' duty the melancholy musings of a Mediæval 'Father,' who would have been all the better for a little more work; and in a score of other ways to force the mind to fix itself upon the thoughts of physical dissolution— these have been considered as excessively godly and improving exercises.

In the light of spiritual truth, as disclosed in the Word of God, we cannot so regard them. We think them to be exactly the opposite. We view them as ungodly exercises, inasmuch as they are calculated to retain 'the sting of death' which Christ's Gospel is pledged to take away; and demoralising exercises, because it is not consistent with a Religion of life to expend our time and mental energies on brooding over death.

The fact is, there is no call for us, if we are humble followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, and realise the truth of a Life Beyond, to bother ourselves at all about dying. Nay, more, we are not acting in harmony with the principles of true Christianity if we do so. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews stated of Jesus that He should deliver those persons 'who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage' (Heb. ii. 14 and 15 v.). The Gospel brought 'life and immortality to light,' and never intended that a Christian should focus his thoughts upon death and dissolution.

'Whosoever believeth in Me shall never die,' said Jesus; 'There is no Death! What seems so is transition,' said the poet.

And so, by the light that streams from the Spiritual World, we perceive our concern to be as to living and not as to dying.

To live aright, because in mind, character and spirit we shall be in the Beyond what we make ourselves here. To see to it that we, who by our thoughts and feelings, and words and actions, are weaving the pattern on the tapestry of our Hereafter experience, may not in that Hereafter have 'to be saved so as by fire'—to painfully unpick the wrongly-worked stitches, and to sorrowfully weave them again.

'Become as a little child,' said the Lord of the Spiritual World. Yes; that is it. Dear little child! he is so brimful of life that he never thinks of death. 'There is no Death' to him. He loves, believes in, trusts his father. If anyone said that that father was not good and kind and just, he would like to knock him down. He cheerfully lives out and enjoys the school-life in which his father has placed him; he never pretends to be sick of it, nor distresses his father (as some well-to-do Christians do in their hymns) by describing it as a 'dreary wilderness,' and by asking to be taken out of it.

But he lives and learns, and grows in knowledge and manliness in that preparatory school, until one day the father says, 'My boy, I must put you in a higher school to complete your education.' And the little fellow answers, 'Father, I am ready; you know best; I am happy here, but I am sure I shall be happy there, since you will be my father still.'

Dear little trustful child! Pointing to you, the King of Immortality has said to us teachers and preachers and theologians—'Go thou, think and do likewise.'


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Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Thoughts of the Spiritual" (1905 American Edition)
"Problems of the Spiritual" (1907 UK Edition)

Rev. Arthur Chambers Returns From "Death" To Speak Through The Zodiac Circle
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