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Man and the Spiritual World

III.—Man, while in the Earth-life, possesses certain Faculties that point to an Interior Spiritual Organisation.

Thus far we have seen that the Bible discloses not only that man is more than physical in his constitution, but also that he retains after death a bodily form. We have now to see what explanation can be given of this post-mortem retention of form. So many regard a person as no more than a material body plus an unorganised Something—viz., a soul, considered to be an intangible essence—that it is extremely difficult for them to picture anyone, after the material body has been laid aside, as still remaining a creature of shape. The old philosophical notion is held that the part of a man that survives physical dissolution is an unorganised existence, and, therefore, (despite the statements of the Bible), possesses no parts nor shape.

Depend upon it, the vagueness that enwraps theological teaching will not be lifted, nor will our ideas of man as he is after death become clear, until once and for all we have got rid of that old philosophical notion- As long as we regard the centre of our being as an abstraction instead of a concrete entity, so long will Death, that strips us of our material encasement, seem to rob us of all that can constitute personality. An individuality apart from form is unthinkable; and, consequently, by thousands who profess Christianity, the dear ones snatched by Death are practically viewed as non-existent. Their survivors weep about them, cherish their memories and in orthodox fashion speak of them as in Heaven, but all the time the departed are really thought of as if lying beneath the grass of the churchyard. Why is this? Have these mourners no belief in a spirit that cannot be harmed by the Destroyer that breaks up the casket in which it had dwelt? Oh, no! that is not the reason why the departed are dropped out of the prayers, spoken of in the past tense, and generally viewed and treated as being outside the circle of life. They believe in a surviving spirit, but that spirit to them is no more than an abstract principle; vague and unreal when detached from the flesh. I venture to assert that the Christianity taught in thousands of pulpits fails in removing 'the sting of death,' not because the existence of a soul and a Life Beyond are denied, but in consequence of a non-realisation of the truth concerning man's interior spiritual part. Many have yet to learn that no human spirit exists apart from shape and organisation, whether it be on the plane of the physical or on that of the Spiritual.

But it may be asked—how is it possible for a man to be manifested in shape, after his physical organisation has been placed in the grave? Is the surviving entity—his spirit—re-clothed with another envelope in place of the one laid aside? Is another body, spiritual in its composition, super-added to the bodiless essence, whereby physical dissolution brings him into possession of something that he had not previously had? Or, does he, in dying, only take with him that which he had all along possessed?

An illustration in point will help the reader to see what we mean. Take the case of Moses. According to the testimony of three Evangelists, he appeared in bodily form as a man on the mountain of Transfiguration. In what way do we account for that? His physical body had died, and been buried, fifteen hundred years before. Had it been resurrected and glorified for this solemn occasion? Some explain the fact thus. If they be right, then St Paul was wrong, since Moses, not Christ, would be 'the first fruits of them that slept' (1 Cor. xv. 20 v.).

Had the spirit of Moses, then, when it left its 'earthly tabernacle,' received a super-addition in the shape of a recognisable spiritual organisation that could both speak and hear? We think not. There is not so much as a hint in the Sacred Volume to warrant such a supposition. We think that Moses, when seen by Peter, James and John, was possessed of no more than he had taken with him, when at death he had stepped from the sphere of the material into that of the Spiritual.

That body in which he appeared on the mount was not a body that he had not possessed in the earth-life. His long sojourn in the Spiritual World had, doubtless, developed and beautified it, but he had had it long before he entered that World. The coarser external body of flesh, beneath which it had once lain, had but concealed it from physical sight. Spiritual in its composition, and of a higher organisation than matter is capable of receiving, it was still beyond the range of physical vision, even when stripped of its earthly wrapper. The disciples on that mountain saw Moses, not with their physical eyes, but with a vision pertaining to an interior body possessed by them, which in nature and constitution was similar to the body they beheld. Just as an angel had stationed himself in the pathway of Balaam, and had been unseen, until the eyes of the prophet's interior body had been opened, so Moses and Elias would have been unseen by those disciples except for a like opening. The Universe of Spirit lies closed to the merely physical.

It will be asked—upon what do you base the assertion that man possesses this interior body? We answer—upon facts disclosed in the Bible and supported by the concurrent testimony coming to us from outside the area of Biblical history, i.e., from the universal experiences of mankind.

The Bible bears witness that men, while still in the earth-life, possess certain faculties that point to the existence of an interior spiritual organisation.
Let us substantiate this statement.

It will be admitted by everyone, until he gets into the domain of ordinary theological thought and doctrine, that the fact of any faculty existing presupposes an organisation, and, moreover, some kind of body and shape. We have no experience, nor can we form any conception, of a faculty unconnected with a body, which is an organised thing. When we think about the faculties of sight, speech, hearing and smell, we involuntarily associate them with the eyes, the vocal organs, the ears and the nose; or, at all events, with organs that stand in the stead of them. Were one to assert that an eyeless, throatless, earless and noseless creature was, nevertheless, able to see, speak, hear and smell, his statement would be treated as absurd. Were he to go further and say that a being not having even so much as a body and shape could yet exercise all the faculties named, sane persons would account him mad.

And yet this is precisely the statement that has been made by the greater number of Christian teachers all through the centuries. Nor am I exaggerating. I have standard books in my library, whose teaching may be summarised in some such way as follows: Man is two-fold in his nature; he has an organised physical body, and an unorganised spirit, or soul. When he dies he leaves his body and all organisation behind him, and goes to Heaven without either the one or the other. There, bodiless and unorganised, he, nevertheless, sees beautiful sights, listens to enchanting music and sings Alleluias.

But suppose the thinker should ask the awkward question—How can this be? How can a creature devoid of organised parts and a body exercise faculties and perform functions that require organisation and bodily form? In what way shall we answer that fair and sensible question? Shall we—as has often been done—thrust the question aside, as being one of those things that can never be known this side of the grave, and concerning which it is rather wicked for us to inquire? If we do this, depend upon it, we shall justify the position of many intellectual ones who label the current ideas of a life after death as unreasonable. Or, shall we—just a little impatient, perhaps, with so- called 'orthodoxy'—turn from the unsatisfactory textbooks of Church and Chapel, to the Bible, the Book that both revere, in order to gather from it a better and clearer explanation of what we rightly wish to know?

Surely there can be no doubt as to the course a Christian should adopt. If the Bible be really a revelation concerning man's nature and destiny, how marvellous were it altogether silent on a subject so important!

Now, when we turn to the pages of Scripture, one of the first things that strikes us is, how large a number of persons are introduced into the sacred narrative, who are shown to be in the possession of faculties of such a character that in the exercise of them the bounds and possibilities of the physical are surpassed.

Patriarchs, seers, prophets and others are represented as seeing and hearing sights and sounds, external to themselves, not only invisible and inaudible to other men, but also absolutely beyond the range of physical organs.

For this reason we claim to be consistent in applying the term 'super-physical' to these extra-ordinary faculties. But before we consider these faculties more particularly, there are two points in regard to the Bible's reference to them that should not be overlooked.

One is, that the Bible mentions them, not as if they were abnormal manifestations of mysterious and superhuman powers meant to astonish the reader, but rather as if they were, if not common, at all events well-known experiences of mankind. The sacred writers tell their story without drawing any sharp line of demarcation between the natural and what we in our ignorance call the 'supernatural.' They tell us of men possessing super-physical faculties, in just as sober and matter-of-fact a way as they describe any commonplace circumstances affecting them. For example, no hint is given that anything marvellous had happened because Abraham, Jacob, Daniel, Zacharias, St Peter and many others saw beings from the Spirit-World, or that the boy Samuel, the prophets, Saul of Tarsus and St John the Divine heard voices that were not earthly. The writers make no more of a person encountering a spiritual being, and of hearing him speak, than they do of anyone meeting an ordinary stranger in the highways of Palestine and conversing with him.

The fact is suggestive, and it is not difficult to explain it. The Bible writers realised, as too many Bible readers do not, that the physical and super- physical meet in man, and both are natural. When shall we learn to extend the horizon of our thought, and cease to restrict ' nature' to our own little miserable circle of experience! When shall we fling away as a human impertinence the word 'supernatural' Not, I think, until we have grasped a great truth realised by the writers of Scripture—that there are things in Heaven and earth that are super- physical, but nothing in the universe of God that is supernatural.

We spoke of another point to be noticed. It is this. The Bible distinctly asserts that what was seen and heard by men through the mediumship of their super-physical faculties had a real and objective existence; that is to say, the sights and sounds were external to the seers and hearers themselves. This is a very important point.

There are many who think that science requires them to explain away all the super-physical facts recorded in the Bible, and outside that Book, too, on the hypothesis that they are no more than subjective experiences. They are said to exist only in the minds of the seers and hearers. Thus we are to understand, not that Samuel really heard a Voice calling his name, but thought he did so. That Abraham, Balaam and others did not actually see angels, nor did the three disciples on the mount see Moses, but that they had the idea they did. Neither the Voice, the angel, nor Moses, was an audible or visible reality; but only an impression. Our reply to this is—that this theory is not countenanced by the Bible. There is not a shadow of a hint in that Book that men's super-physical experiences had no basis in external fact. On the contrary, what was seen and heard are declared to be objective realities, and are afterwards, again and again, referred to as such.

The Voice to Samuel is given as a fact, as much so as is the voice of Eli who questioned the lad. The angels who met Balaam, stood beside Zacharias, and led St Peter from his prison, are made by Scripture no less real objects than the prophet's ass, the priest's altar, and the apostle's chains.

Let us look, now, at the testimony borne by the Bible to the existence in us of those faculties already described as extra-ordinary and super-physical.

And in doing this, let it not be forgotten that our belief in the existence of those faculties rests not simply on the statements of the Bible.

We might put aside that Book, and yet there would remain an overwhelming mass of testimony that the super-physical exists in man. First, we have the witness of men and women of all the past centuries that it does. Next, we have an accumulation of the personal experience of thousands now living, who either themselves possess those powers, or have seen others in possession of them.

Emphatic as is the testimony of Scripture on this point, it must be remembered that it is only a very small fragment of the testimony that has been borne.

Many of the super-physical experiences recorded in the Bible have their counterpart in what is happening to-day.

Thus, the statements of the Bible on this subject are credible, if for no other reason, because they agree with a mass of absolutely independent testimony, as well as with present experiences that we can verify.

I lay stress upon this, for the reason that many Christians who would be intensely shocked at being charged with not believing their Bible, appear not to have the slightest notion that these super-physical faculties exist. They acknowledge that man has a spirit encased until death in an earthly body, and think that spirit, when freed from the physical, will exhibit marvellous powers, including spiritual sight, hearing and speech. But they fail to perceive that these powers—however rudimentary and undeveloped at present—are inherent in the spirit of a man, all the while that that spirit is incarnated in the physical. In spite of the frowns of science and common sense, such persons experience no difficulty in thinking that spiritual organs, not existent before death, can, within two or three minutes, at death be brought into a condition of wonderful perfection and exercise.

They do not understand that the organs of our spirit-body exist before our spirit is transferred from the plane of matter to that of spirit, in the same way as the physical organs of a babe exist before the circum-stance of birth. Neither death, in the one case, nor birth, in the other, calls the organs into being. They existed before; death and birth but open up for them two wider fields of exercise.

Now, suppose you tell a person of the class mentioned, of any well-authenticated case of one living in London being able to see and hear that which is inappreciable to physical eyes and ears. How will he receive your communication? Will he not shake his head, and, more than likely, tell you he is far too strong-minded to believe in such nonsense? Will he not exhaust his ingenuity in devising all kinds of hypotheses, except the right one, to account for the matter? Falsehood, hallucination, disordered stomach, or pious imagination, are good enough explanations for him. I have only one word to say to Christians of this type. In labelling as incredible the testimony that men and women of tlie present day possess super-physical faculties, are they conscious that they practically convict the Bible of falsehood?

It states that those faculties were possessed by many living in the times at which that Book was written. They profess to believe that fact, but resort to any theory to explain away the twin-fact that persons of the present age possess those powers. But why this inconsistency? Why believe the one, and refuse to believe the other? Man's constitution has undergone no change. What was possible to him once is possible to him now. The church or chapel goer, who thinks it incredible that a person whose interior faculties are open should see a spiritual being, or hear a spirit-voice, ought not to believe that Abraham, Samuel, the prophets and others had those same experiences.

Let them be consistent. If the super-physical does not exist in man now, then there are no grounds for believing it existed in him in the far-away Bible- times, since he was not constituted then differently from what he is at present.

If, on the other hand, they can bring themselves to acknowledge that it does exist now (and the proof of that is overwhelming to anyone sufficiently freed from conventionality and prejudice to inquire), then they will be in a better position to refute the disquieting accusation that the old Book is altogether outside the limits of modern thought and experience, and the Bible will fling for them an unsuspected light upon the wonder of human existence.

The Bible bears very clear testimony that man, while still an inhabitant of earth, possesses, at least, two wonderful super-physical faculties. It shows him as capable of seeing and hearing realities external to himself, which are invisible and inaudible to those who are only seeing with the physical eyes, and hearing with the physical ears.

These interior faculties to which we allude are known as Clairvoyance and Clairaudience.

The terms denote clear or refined sight and hearing. The clairvoyant sees, and the clairaudient hears that which those in whom those powers are undeveloped, or (to speak more correctly) unopened, do not see and hear. The phrase 'Second-sight' is often used as a synonym for 'Clairvoyance.' Few who use it, however, have any adequate notion of what it implies. Many take it to mean no more than an abnormal development of physical vision.

It is easy to show that the facts of clairvoyance are such as to extend beyond the possibilities of the physical. We contend, therefore, that the phrase 'second-sight' is improperly defined unless it be made to connote the existence of an organ of vision other than the material eye.

There are three phases of clairvoyant and clairaudient manifestation that go to show that these faculties in man cannot be classed as physical.

(A) Some clairvoyant and clairaudient persons can see and hear external spiritual realities that are near to them, in spite of those realities being imperceptible to the physical senses.

(B) Others can see and hear spiritual realities that are distant so far as to be absolutely beyond the range of material sight and hearing.

(C) Some, again, can clairvoyantly see and clairaudiently hear external physical realities, under such circumstances of time and distance as to make it impossible that physical eyes and ears can be the media of the sight and hearing.

It will be interesting to note the testimony of the Bible on these points.

One or two instances of each of these phases of manifestation must suffice. The reader, when once started on the right track of thought, will see that the whole Book is one long record of man's clairvoyant and clairaudient power.

Take, under the first phase, instances of Clairvoyance, by which near spiritual realities, although invisible to the physical organs, are seen. Balaam is riding along a highway on his ass, attended by two servants, when an angel confronts him to bar his progress. The prophet and his attendants do not see him. The physical eyes of the three men are wide open, and yet are unable to perceive a spiritual being who stands before them. Even the prophet's ass has a consciousness of the nearness of the super-physical (as animals frequently have), but the men have no such consciousness, until the clairvoyant faculty of one of them is quickened into operation. 'Then' (says the Bible) 'the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way' (Num. xxii. 31 v). Which eyes were opened? we ask. Surely, some other than those of his external body, since the latter had been open all the while, and were powerless to see the spiritual, although it was so close.

Elisha, in consequence of his clairaudient power (see 2 Kings vi. 12 v.), had incurred the hatred of the King of Syria, and that monarch had sent out a great host to effect his capture. The prophet's servant is full of fear that his master's life is endangered. He has seen the army that encompasses the city. Elisha is strangely calm in the face of his peril. He sees what as yet the servant does not see. 'Lord, open his eyes' (he prays) 'that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and, behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha' (2 Kings vi. 17 v.). Again we ask— which eyes were opened? Not the physical eyes of the young man, for they were already open, or he would not have seen the Syrian host; but the eyes of an interior organisation that enabled him to see what his master had already seen—a manifestation of spiritual reality close at hand.

We have likewise the testimony of the Bible as to Clairaudience, under this particular phase of manifestation.

The boy Samuel and the aged Eli have laid themselves down to rest in the chambers of the Temple-courts, when a voice from the Spiritual World calls the boy. The old man does not hear it, in spite of his being so near the boy that the latter thinks it is he who has spoken.

It is Samuel's first experience in clairaudience. He 'did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him' (1 Sam. iii. 7 v.). Eli knows what the boy does not. His past experience in the super-physical had taught him that a near reality, inaudible to the ears of flesh, could be heard by the ears of a finer interior organisation. 'He perceived that the Lord had called the child' (verse 8). Within the precincts of a later temple, Christ is one day standing, surrounded by a crowd of people. Before them He has offered a prayer, and the answer to it comes as an articulate message from the realm of the Spiritual. Christ hears it, as, undoubtedly, does the evangelist who alone records the words spoken by that voice. But the bystanders do not. To them no words are distinguishable. Their clairaudient faculties are partially open, but only partially. 'The people . . . said that it thundered; others said—an angel spake to him' (John xii. 29 v.).

Saul of Tarsus is journeying to Damascus, when a manifestation from the Spiritual World converts the fiery persecutor of Christianity into its foremost and devoted apostle. Speaking afterwards of that experience, in his defence before a Jewish mob howling for his blood, St Paul said, 'They that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him that spake to me' (Acts xxii. 9 v.). Why this inability to hear? Because, unlike the Apostle, they were not clairaudient.

We turn again to the Bible for instances of another phase of clairvoyant and clairaudient power, whereby distant spiritual realities are seen and heard.

Not all who are clairvoyant and clairaudient as regards near spiritual realities are so as regards distant ones.

First, with respect to Clairvoyance.

Isaiah, the prophet, while his interior spirit-body is still encased in flesh, sees ' the Lord sitting upon his throne high and lifted up' (Isaiah vi. x v.).

Ezekiel, under the same conditions, by the river of Chebar, sees the heavens opened and has visions of God (Ez. i. 1 v.).

Daniel and others of Old Testament times have like experiences, and the point to be noticed is this, that the objects seen by these seers are not near objects. In this respect they are unlike the manifestation of angels and Samuel and Moses after death, who were clairvoyantly seen as close beside the seers.

There is a notable instance in the New Testament of the particular phase of clairvoyance with which we are dealing.

Stephen, the first Christian martyr, has just finished his address to a fanatical mob that is about to stone him to death, and says, 'I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God' (Acts vii. 56 v.).

In this case also the spiritual objects seen are distant ones. The Christ at His ascension had passed out of the sphere of the physical, and, even in that sphere, our physical vision is very, very limited.

Had Peter, James and John been standing beside St Stephen at his martyrdom, it is probable that their clairvoyant eyes, that saw Moses on the mount of Transfiguration, would not have seen the heaven and the Christ that the martyr saw.

His was a higher phase of clairvoyance than theirs.

The Bible also bears witness to clairaudient powers in man that come under this second and higher phase of development.

Abraham is passing through a mysterious and terrible trial of his faith in God, when an angel calls unto him out of heaven (Gen. xxii. 11 v.). It is significant that the assertion is repeated in the 15th verse—'The angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time.'

We affix no rigid definition to the term 'heaven' as here employed, but we do contend that it points to a spiritual manifestation that was distant from the patriarch. Jesus (and remember that He, although the Son of God, was truly man) hears at His baptism 'a Voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son' (John iii. 17 v.). Peter, James and John, in presence of the transfigured Saviour and the departed lawgiver and Elijah, hear the same Voice which bids them 'Hear ye Him' (Matt. xvii. 5 v.).

St Paul—whether in the body or out of it he cannot tell, but certainly while his physical body was still alive on earth—sees Paradise and hears from there unspeakable words untranslatable into mundane language (2 Cor. xii. 2-4 v.).

St John, the aged exile among the convicts of Patmos, sees 1 under the altar' (a Hebrew phrase for ' Paradise') those who have been slain for the Word of God, and hears them cry with a loud voice, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true?' (Rev. vi. 10 v.).

It remains for us to notice the Biblical testimony as to the third phase of clairvoyant and clairaudient power, viz., that by which external physical realities are seen and heard under such circumstances of time and distance as to make it impossible that physical eyes and ears can be the media of the sight and hearing.

First, as regards Clairvoyance.

Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, prompted by avarice, has obtained a costly gift from Naaman, and, convinced that it is impossible that his master can have seen the transaction, presents himself before him in all the unblushing effrontery of assumed innocence. But Elisha is a seer, and his clairvoyant power has enabled him to know of his servant's rapacity apart from the mediumship of physical sight. Clairvoyantly he has witnessed the details of the meeting of Gehazi and Naaman. 'Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee?' (2 Kings v. 26 v.).

Philip has found Nathanael and brought him from a distance to see the Christ. Jesus has already clairvoyantly seen the devout Israelite, although they have not previously met. 'Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.' The man is astonished. Here is the exercise of a power that he thinks resides only in God. Jesus has seen him, although space presents a barrier to physical sight.

'Rabbi' (he exclaims), 'thou art the Son of God.'

The Saviour, who knows what is in man, gently sets aside the reasoning as inconclusive. Clairvoyant power in a human being is no proof of Divinity; others, beside Him, possess that power. 'Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these. Hereafter ye shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man' (John i. 45-51 v.).

Next, as regards Clairaudience.

The King of Syria is warring against Israel. Again and again he plans the disposal of his troops (unknown, as he thinks, to his adversary) in such a way as to score a military advantage over him. The King of Israel, however, does not fall into the trap. He has had a warning of his enemy's tactics and saves himself 'not once nor twice.' Syria's monarch suspects treachery. 'Will ye not shew me' (he asks of his servants), 'which of us is for the King of Israel?' 'None, my lord, 0 King' (is the answer of one of them); 'but Elisha, the prophet, that is in Israel, telleth the King of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber' (2 Kings vi. 12 v.). The clairaudience of the man of God had frustrated the stratagem of the man of war.

Here, then, we have a few out of many instances of clairvoyance and clairaudience, as described by the Bible. Let it not be supposed, however, that the proof of man's possession of these powers rests solely on the testimony of that Book. If the Bible had been silent on the subject, it had still been impossible to deny that these powers exist; for the simple reason that there are men and women now living who are clairvoyant and clairaudient. None but those who have never investigated the subject will challenge this assertion. There is not a phase of clairvoyant and clairaudient power recorded in Scripture for which a counterpart may not be found in present-day experience. This is known to hundreds whose testimony we should accept on any other point. When we find distinguished literary and scientific men admitting the phenomena, and, at the same time frankly acknowledging that they have no hypothesis to adequately account for them, to say the least, it requires a fair amount of ignorance and assurance to calmly assign those phenomena to the region of mere fancy.

And yet, strangely enough, many good Christians, educated and uneducated, have done so.

Because they have no personal experience of these powers and know no one in possession of them; because they read their Bible and fail to perceive much that is there; and because it is so very easy to attribute everything of an extraordinary character to a disordered stomach, or an overwrought brain, they have never taken the trouble to cast upon the subject the search-light of honest and careful inquiry.

Is it not a fact that theological works, instead of being the first, are the last sources to which an inquirer looks for enlightenment on these great and all-suggestive truths concerning the nature of Man?

These truths are quietly ignored, and many, in consequence, betake themselves to other quarters for information that Christian teachers, did they but fully understand their text-book, would be able to furnish.

We have now seen that Scripture most clearly teaches—(a) that Man is more than physical; (b) that after death he is in bodily form; and (c) that while still in the earth-life he possesses certain faculties that point to an interior spiritual organisation.

Let us see further.

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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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