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Man and the Spiritual World

As Disclosed by the Bible


An Important Question.

What will become of us when we die? This is a question that we haye asked ourselves again and again in the course of our life. Probably all persons, except those who are very thoughtless, or very bad, have put it to themselves at one time or another.

It is an important question. It thrusts itself upon us, however much our business, our pleasures and other concerns may distract us; however devoid we may be of religious instincts, and however indifferent to solemn matters.

Yes, and it is also a pressing question. Perhaps we do not like it, or take the slightest pains to answer it. We may have made up our mind to thrust it aside and forget it; but all to no purpose. No thoughtful person can effectually evade it. For a while we may succeed in scaring it away by worldly excitement, but it soon comes back, as importunate as ever, to startle, perplex and even annoy us again.

Persistently it tracks the footsteps of the thinker all along the pathway of his life, and grows more clamorous as the end is neared. It calls upon him to give an answer. It even wins over to its side the man's own conscience, until that inward monitor reproaches him if he makes no effort to supply that answer. There is no chance of escape unless we never pause to think, and that to most of us is an impossibility. Moreover, the common circumstances of every-day life seem as if they were in league with this haunting question.

We take up a newspaper and read the accounts of disaster and death.

An earthquake has laid a town in ruins, and hundreds of men, women and children have perished in the calamity. An ocean-liner has struck on a sunken rock, and crew and passengers have found a watery grave.

There has been an explosion in a coal-mine, and scores of poor colliers have been suddenly blasted into death. The plague has swept away a quarter of the population of an eastern city. A cyclone, a thunderstorm, a railway accident, a war, or a murderer's hand, has violently hustled fellow-beings from the stage of physical existence.

'Very shocking!' we exclaim, as we lay aside the paper; and then we mentally ask, 'What of those curtailed lives, those victims? After death, is there anything for them?'

Sometimes the question thrusts itself upon us in another way. It starts up out of the midst of circumstances more nearly and more painfully affecting us.

The messenger of Death has entered our own home. His icy touch has fallen upon one very dear to us—upon a wife, a mother, or a child.

Then, most likely, our first thought has been of ourself. We have wept because of our own misery and despair. An awful void has been opened in our life, and the sense of a tremendous personal loss has oppressed us. Without meaning it, we have allowed grief to project self to the forefront of the experience.

Then, after a while, when the first burst of our anguish has expended itself, our sorrow has assumed another and a better complexion. The consideration of self, under the wrong done us by Death, has ceased to be uppermost. A nobler feeling has asserted itself. Concern for another—for the dear one who has died— has taken the first place in our thoughts. Into our grief there has been imported a distressful pity and concern for that still form lying upstairs in the darkened chamber, because an overwhelming loss and a horrible oblivion seem to have overtaken her. What if she should never see, hear and speak again! What a torture to think that a beautiful world of sights and sounds should continue as before, and be nothing to her!

While standing, thus pitiful and broken-hearted, beside that figure so pale and passionless, have you not asked yourself, tenderly and yearningly, 'What of her? What becomes of us when we die?'

Have I awakened painful memories in describing an experience that you may have had? If so, believe me I have an object in doing this. It may be that thereby you will be led to read carefully and thoughtfully the following pages, in which the attempt will be made to give the true answer to this important question

The Question answered in Different Ways.

At the outset of our consideration of this subject we shall do well to notice a fact that should not be overlooked. It is that the question, in its own nature, is not only an important one, but mankind in all ages has perseveringly regarded it as such. The most casual reader of human history can hardly have failed to see that all sections of the race have made some attempt to answer it.

What is the underlying significance of those many and variant religions of mankind? Many are puzzled exceedingly by their number and dissimilarity. And, indeed, it does seem strange, and even bewildering, that the human family should be split up into so many religious organisations. What barriers of separation between man and man are expressed by the terms 'Christian,' 'Jew,' 'Mohammedan,' 'Buddhist,' ' Hindoo,' etc.!

In spite of national distinctions, all in that great family are constitutionally allied; all bear the same relationship to the earth on which they live, and all are confronted with the same experience of dying. And yet men have ranged themselves, not in one, but in many religious communities. Then, look at those communities. Each is detached from, and often intensely hostile to, all the others. Each has its own peculiar ideas, teachings and worship.

Does not all this variety, it has been asked, afford a presumption that religion is not true? If it were true; if it owed its origin to God, would there not be uniformity in regard to religious ideas?

Many have reasoned thus, and labelled religion as false because beliefs and forms are unlike.

But such reasoners are wrong in their judgment. They should have looked more deeply into the matter. Behind all the differences, there lies the oneness for which they seek. As the starting-point and basis of the religions of the world, they will find the idea of a Life to come. Not one of these religions is without it. All of them, however much overlaid with error and superstition, are expressions of sincere effort on the part of men to answer that ever-recurring question— 'What will become of us when we die?'

If we remember this, and, moreover, bear in mind how dissimilar are the moral, intellectual and spiritual capacities of men, it need not surprise us to find, as we proceed with the inquiry, that the question has been answered in various ways.

In the judgment of the writer, some of the answers given are wholly incorrect; while others fall short of the truth. It will be well to briefly consider both of these classes of answer, in order the better to clear the ground for that which is viewed as the true answer.

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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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