Home  | The Zodiac Messages | Articles | Services | Visitors Book | Books | Site Map | Contact | Search 

Man and the Spiritual World

II. The Answers that fall short of the Truth.

Under this heading we place:—

(a). The general answer given by those hundreds of millions who are neither Materialists nor Agnostics, i.e., by those persons who may be classed as religious. What say the Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, Hindoos, Buddhists, etc., and even the Pagans? Surely their testimony should be taken into account.

We have already noticed the fact that there is a root-belief, a common starting-point of all these religions and all the variety of ideas concerning God and truth. It is the conviction that the physical body is not the all of a man, and that its death does not include his extinguishment.

With the exception of the Christian-Materialists, all in these great religious camps believe that there is a Life for man when his body shall have gone into the grave. However different and conflicting the conceptions of that Life may be, the fact of the Life itself is admitted. Whether one accepts the ordinary Christian view, that a man at death goes to 'a happy land, far, far away,' or that of the Jew, that he passes into Sheol, or that of the Mohammedan, that he enters a sensuous Paradise, or that of the Indian, that he finds himself in ' a happy hunting-ground,' it all amounts to the same thing; the root-belief of each one's creed is the same; all acknowledge that death does not destroy the individual.

So far, this general reply approaches the truth concerning the Hereafter of man; but it does not satisfy us. We are profoundly thankful that the majority of our fellow-creatures share our belief that we are not merely pieces of animated clay. It strengthens us in our conviction that a Hereafter will be, since so widely disseminated an instinct exists. But we crave to know more.

It is a tremendous relief to turn from the blank of Materialism and the doubt of Agnosticism, to the thought of being something and of going somewhere when we die; but, at the same time, we cannot help crying out for fuller knowledge as to that ' something' and 'somewhere.' The 'happy land' of the ordinary Christian is not exhilarating. It rather depresses us. It is 'far, far away.' Its distance in unexplored and mysterious space robs it of much of its attracting power, and seems to immeasurably widen the gulf of separation between us and a dear one who has gone there. And so we are dissatisfied with the general answer of the religions. It is right as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. It acknowledges a great principle, but we seek for information more definite and particular. And this we do in spite of the frowns of the lovers of vagueness, because we believe that that information has been given.

(b). Next, we turn to an answer given by a large section of Christians, who dissent from the teaching of the Church of England and other great branches of the Universal Church, not on the point of man's survival of physical death, but as to the character of the Life upon which he enters when the earth-life has closed.

The Church of England proclaims that at death a person passes into an Intermediate Life; so called because it is a mid-way existence between this physical life and Heaven, or Hell.

A very prevalent belief (less common than it was), held by our Dissenting brethren is that, at the death of a man's body, he goes, if good, at once to Heaven, or, if bad, at once to Hell. When the great preacher, Mr Spurgeon, passed away, a notice was affixed to the railings of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, informing the public that he had 1 entered Heaven' at a certain hour.

The Westminster Catechism—a statement of Christian doctrine accepted by many—altogether ignores an Intermediate existence, and in the clearest terms declares that the souls of the righteous are perfected, and pass straight to Heaven at the moment of departure from earth.

We shall show that the acceptance of this view stamps as inaccurate many of the statements of the Bible. The New Testament discloses the fact of an Intermediate World.

(c). There remains still another answer to which we must refer. It is that of many who admit the fact of an Intermediate World, but have no definite idea of the man, as to his nature and being, in that World.

Their answer to the question—'What will become of us when we die?'—stops short before an all-important point is reached. Let me explain what I mean.

Ask many English Churchmen in what way they think of a person who has departed this life. They will tell you they believe him to be still living. So far— good; and every Christian, Churchman or Dissenter (except the Christian-Materialist) will give the same reply.

Ask, further, where do they suppose him to be living? Well-instructed Churchmen will answer at once, 'In an Intermediate Life.'

Go on with the inquiry. Ask next, how do they think of that person in the Intermediate World? Is their idea of him a definite one? Do they picture him as a man? Has he, now that his physical body has been cast aside, any characteristics entitling him to that name? For example, does he possess shape? Can he still think, speak, hear, see and be seen?

At this point, the one questioned will, in all probability, hesitate and commence to beat about the bush. You know at once what kind of answer you will get. It will be a vague one, full of generalities and pious Agnosticism.

He does not think that anyone can possibly know aught of the condition of man after death. He believes that he continues to exist in some way or another; but as to how he does so—well, it is all mystery and uncertainty.

Very likely, if he be of a philosophical bent of mind, he will go a step further, and tell you his conviction is that the subject does not lend itself to investigation, and that, moreover, there is a savour of presumption in wanting to know, or trying to know, more about it than is commonly taught in pulpits and books.

You perfectly well see how the case stands with your friend. He has no idea at all of a man in the World Beyond. In whatever way he pictures him, as he will be one day in Heaven or Hell, it is not of a man in the Intermediate World that he is thinking. Probably he would find it difficult to define his idea of him there, but were he to do so, it would be no more than that of an essence; an unorganised, formless, intangible, surviving something; a shade, an airiness, a nebulosity; no more resembling a man than gas resembles coal.

So hazy a conception of ourselves Beyond is, of course, a misfortune to the Religion of Christ, as well as to believers themselves. There are thousands at the present time in this country and in America, who have deserted the Christian Religion, and swelled the ranks of Theosophy and Modern Spiritualism, for no other reason than that they imagine these two last-named systems present a better and more definite idea of the World of Spirit than the Religion of Christ does.

It is very regrettable; but the fault does not lie with Christianity, but with its exponents. In what has been taught, as well as in what has been done, Christianity has not always corresponded with the religion of its Divine Founder.

In the hands of preachers and teachers of that which we account a revelation from God, there has been, all through the centuries, a text-book—the Bible. It is full of clear information concerning a Spirit-World. And yet, strange to say, how little more than the elementary truth of the bare existence of such a World has been grasped by the greater number of Christian folk. Conventionality has Iain as an incubus upon Christian thought. Teachers in the past have failed to perceive how much has been disclosed in the Bible in regard to a Life to come, and, unfortunately, it has been the fashion in Church and Chapel, to slavishly bow to 'the traditions of the Fathers,' and to account it impossible that later generations may have a fuller understanding of this particular subject than the generations that preceded them. Thus the avenues to fuller knowledge have been closed, and the indefinite thought of the past still lingers in the sermons and religious literature of the present.

Nor is this all. This vagueness of idea does a wrong to the believer himself. It deprives him of a power that could exorcise the haunting spectre of Death.

In spite of their trust in God and belief in a future, many of the best, sincerest and most stout-hearted of Christians are appalled at the prospect of dying. Brave, good and devout men and women have shown cowardice then. Can that be as the Christ of the Gospel intended? Surely not. We can understand a person feeling regretful, and even sorrowful, in leaving dear ones and a world in which happiness has been found; but it is an inconsistency that he, as a Christian, should be appalled at the thought of departure.

There are some who sing hymns that represent them as panting to die, and then exhibit an abject terror when there is the barest probability that God will take them at their word. What shall we say of such? Must we label them as insincere? No, I think not: that terror is only the outcome of a vagueness of idea concerning the Hereafter. They have no definite thought as to what, how and where they will be when the curtain shall have fallen on the first act of their existence, and they reasonably shudder at plunging into the unpictured and unknown.

To every thoughtful mind the horror of dying must exist if the reality of the Spiritual be not perceived. The reader may ask—to what cause do you attribute this vagueness? We believe it to be the ordinary religious idea (accepted on no basis of proof), that a spirit must necessarily be a being shapeless and unorganised.

This, we shall have to show, is an assumption not in accordance with what the Bible teaches, and, more over, contrary to the evidence of a Spiritual Universe, vouchsafed to thousands of our fellow-creatures in all the ages.

We reject, then, the idea that man, after death, is a formless essence that floats about in a world of shadow and intangibility, and think that there is available more solid information respecting him in that world than has been 'dreamed of in the philosophy' of many.

To Next Chapter »

Return To Contents of "Man and the Spiritual World"

floppy save button Download "Man and the Spiritual World" (.pdf) floppy save button

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
 Home  | The Zodiac Messages | Articles | Services | Visitors Book | Books | Site Map | Contact | Search