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Problems of the Spiritual


IV. How can it be explained that many of the communications alleged to come from discarnate beings are unsatisfactory, misleading and untruthful?

This is a question submitted by one who admits the possibility of communication between us and beings in Spirit-life, but rejects, as being wholly subversive of the main-principle of the Christian Religion, the "Diabolic" theory, viz., that all such communication is "the work of the Devil." The difficulty confronts him of accounting for the fact that some of the communications received are of the character he has described. The Questioner perceives how illogical is the position of those who accept the Christian Religion, and yet regard as incredible all communication between us and beings in Spirit-life. He is quite right. What, we ask, could be more inconsistent than to profess to implicitly believe that after death Moses, Samuel, our Lord, the saints who appeared to many in Jerusalem at the first Easter-time, and the Christian brother who visited St. John at Patmos—that these manifested themselves to, and conversed with, the dwellers on earth a few hundred years ago, but that since then such an occurrence has been an impossibility; nay! that the mere thought of it is an absurdity! We argue—if such things really did take place in Bible-times (and the credibility of the Gospel narratives is destroyed, if they did not), why can they not occur in the twentieth century? What was possible then is possible now. God's universe has undergone no change of constitution. If there be no intermingling of the life of the Spirit-World with the life of this world at all times, we have little or no grounds for believing that there ever has been such an intermingling. "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be." Those Christians who deny the present possibility of communion with spirit-beings are piously shocked if an Agnostic or a Materialist asserts that all the Bible-records of such contacts are "nonsense." But why be shocked? Those persons who take that position cannot consistently find fault with the Agnostic. He and they both account as incredible the thought of communion between the two worlds. He is the more consistent.

He says the thing itself is absurd; it never does, and it never did, happen. They say, of course, it happened long ago, for hundreds and hundreds of years; but it could not possibly happen now. Those were Bible-times, and all was very different then from what it has been since. We are told that everything the Scriptures state concerning the contact of spiritual beings with men is reasonable, and on no account to be doubted; but that to acknowledge that anything of a like character could take place now is most unreasonable and incredible.

Now do let us as Christians be logical! If communication between us and the Spiritual World be an impossibility at the present time, and has been so ever since the times of the Bible, then the Agnostic is right; we have no grounds for believing that it existed as that Book declares. Consequently, we must reject the Bible-accounts of Spiritual phenomena as fabrications. On the other hand, if such communication is a present-day fact, we have an assurance that the principle upon which the Christian Religion has been based is a true one. The good folk to whom we are alluding say—"We believe in the long-ago communication between the two worlds, because the Bible asserts it was so." "Quite so," we reply, "and this means that although you, of course, had no experience of these happenings, and have no means of verifying the statements made concerning them, you, nevertheless, unquestioningly believe in them?" "Of course, we do," is the rejoinder, "the Bible vouches for the facts."

Well, those who believe in a present-day communication between the two worlds have a far stronger case for their belief than have the ones who believe that such communication existed only in the olden times. In the first place, the testimony of the Bible in regard to intercourse with the Spiritual is very small, in comparison with the testimony which has been borne to the same thing apart from that Book. The Bible is a selection of writings brought together by a Church Council in a.d. 400, and constituted the Sacred Canon. The writings comprise the statements of a small body of persons who wrote at different times during a period covering many centuries. From the time of the closing of the Canon to the present moment, hundreds and thousands of writers have narrated their experiences of the Spiritual, as the Bible-writers did; and in a great number of instances the experiences of both classes of writers are coincident. The testimony borne by the men of to-day who have scientifically studied the phenomena of the Spiritual, shows how, point by point, the present-day phenomena resemble those of which we read in the Bible.

Moreover, we have an enormous amount of testimony from living persons who have had their experiences of spiritual things, and have never committed those experiences to writing. We ask, why accept the testimony of a few men who lived in "the hoary past," and account it most reliable, when an overwhelmingly greater mass of similar testimony, given subsequently and also at the present time, is rejected as unreliable and worthless? We have not one tithe of the evidence for the fact that intercourse with the Spiritual existed in Bible-times, that we have for the fact that it exists to-day. How absurd for any Christian to go to a non-believer and tell him that he must accept as absolute truth the statements of the Bible concerning spiritual happenings; and in the next breath to inform him that all present-day occurrences of the same order are naught but the outcome of distorted imagination!

In the next place, there is, of course, no possibility of verifying the statements of the Bible-writers. We cannot come into contact with the ones who had the spiritual experiences. We can simply take their word for what they narrate. The case for present-day spiritual intercourse is in a very much stronger position. There are numbers of persons living among us to-day—men distinguished in science and culture—whose word we should not dream of doubting; men whose experiences of the Spiritual have been similar to many of those of the Bible-writers. We can receive from their own lips the accounts of what they have experienced. And more still than this; it is possible for every open-minded enquirer as to the truth of Spiritual communion, to obtain for himself the proof that the door between the two worlds is still open.

The Questioner, therefore, as a Christian, is quite right in dissenting from those other Christians who say that it is a mark of piety to believe that Spiritual intercourse existed long ago, but that it is impious and foolish to think it can exist now.

But what perplexes many who acknowledge the fact of present-day intercourse between us and spirit-beings, is that the communications received are often of an unsatisfactory character. These communications do not come up to the preconceived idea of what they should be. Many have no conception of a spiritual being, except as an angel or a devil. It never enters the ordinary religious mind that there are millions in the Spirit-World who, for a while at least, are extraordinarily like the men and women in this world. "How absurd," say some, "to suppose that beings from the Other World should come to us and talk 'common-places,' or display ignorance and mental incapacity, or in some cases even tell lies!" But why should it be absurd to suppose this? We are inclined to think that the absurdity lies in expecting that, of necessity, all communications from discarnate beings must be of a high order and tone. We do not suppose that if the repentant robber who was crucified with our Lord, had appeared after death to persons in this world, as others mentioned in the Gospel narrative did—that his mental tone and conversation would have been of the lofty character of that of Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration. We believe it would have been the tone and conversation of one who had just learned the A. B. C. of higher thoughts and better life; and no more. We regard it also as bordering on the absurd, to suppose that the ordinary non-cultured and non-developed ones who depart this life, and afterwards manifest themselves to those left behind, should come with no traces of that which had previously characterized them. It is not reasonable. The idea is founded on a false notion of what is. The Bible itself and our knowledge of the laws of mind and being exclude such a supposition. The established order of things would be broken, if it were so; the connection between sowing and reaping, between cause and effect would be at an end.

Now, a very common notion concerning the Other World is, that in passing into it we undergo at once a complete change of mind, character and disposition. The one who in this life may have been very silly, very ignorant, or very morally and spiritually imperfect, is pictured as becoming soberminded, wise and virtuous, as soon as ever he crosses the threshold of Spirit-life. All frivolity and light-mindedness will instantaneously disappear, it is said, in that World where all is intense reality; all ignorance will cease in a light which reveals everything; and moral imperfection—well, that, too, will disappear with the physical body.

Of course, those who hold this view of the tremendous transforming power of Death on our being, regard this sudden acquirement of mental and moral excellence as only accruing to those who die in the condition of "saved souls." Death, they suppose, works a transformation in the case of the other class; but it is a transformation into a condition which is hopelessly and irretrievably bad. For the "unsaved" ignorant and sinful ones, Death gives the stereotyping touch for an endless Satanic life. It is an awful thought! a thought which makes one shudder; but it is an idea which hundreds of thousands of sincere men have attached to the Religion of Jesus, and labelled "Orthodoxy." Yes, and it is the thought which has caused many who acknowledge the fact of spirit-return, to account as a marauding force of the Devil those poor, earth-bound spirits who sometimes come to us, with all the disfigurement of a neglected past upon them; the ones who, although they have moved off the stage of the Temporal, are less wise, less good, and less spiritually-developed than we are.

Some of the truth-obscuring traditions of the past must be unlearned. Death is no Transformer of the inner being of anyone; nor does change of environment suddenly make a person excellently good or hopelessly evil. Death strips from off a man that physical vehicle through which for a while he expressed himself; but it does not alter him. It transfers him to another plane of life; but it effects no change in the bent of his will, the tone of his character and the nature of his desires. He commences his new phase of experience in the Spirit-World at precisely the mental and moral point he had touched when he left the earth-life. If in this world he was silly, or ignorant, or vicious, or un-spiritual, he will be so in the Other World; until the disciplining Love of God shall have worked its results, and the soul, previously unborn to the Divine, shall feel the thrill of quickening life, and shall set itself with the tide of spiritual being which makes for the upward and for God.

Yes, and the consequences of the past may be such, that only slowly and with difficulty can the mind be brought to hate the alienation, the shame and the swine, and to say—"I will arise, and go to my Father."

The believer in the Bible should have no difficulty in realizing that Death will not change the mind, the character and the disposition. The Samuel who appeared after death was the same in thought and feeling as he had been before he entered Spirit-life. His words spoken as a discarnate one were but the echo of what he had said when in the flesh. Departed Moses, too, in his converse with Jesus, at that rendezvous where beings in earth-life and spirit-life met, showed by the subject on which he spoke, that his discarnate mind was in the same groove as his incarnate mind had been long before. The Saviour, too, in those manifestations of Himself after He had passed out of the earth-life, showed, by the words He spoke to men and women who were privileged to see Him, that none of the characteristics of His beautiful mind and spirit had undergone change or modification. The first Easter greeting— "Mary!"—denoted that the bond of friendship and affection had not been broken. His words—"All hail!" "Peace be unto you," "I ascend to my Father and your Father"; His exposition of truth as He walked unrecognized with those two men on the road to Emmaus; His special appearance to St. Peter; His significant thrice-repeated question— "Lovest thou Me?" and His reiterated charge to that same Apostle—"Feed my lambs"—"Feed my sheep"—all showed that entrance into spirit-life had not altered the Jesus Himself. The old love, the old longing to lighten burdened hearts, the old desire to impart peace, the old passion to make men realize that God is their Father, the old yearning that they might understand truth, the remembrance of what had happened, and the principle which had dominated the whole of his earth-life—concern for others—all this remained unchanged in Jesus after death.

Years after this glorious Easter-tide of intercourse between the two worlds, a faithful servant of the Master wrote that he had "a desire to depart and to be with Christ." This statement of St. Paul has been taken by some to denote that Death will usher all believing souls into an immediately-acquired condition of perfection. "Prayers for the Faithful Departed," say some," are wholly unnecessary: they have reached the goal; they go to be with Christ; St. Paul said so." Well, we do not believe that non-developed Christians—the ones who are selfish, petty, bad-tempered and lack the sweetness of love—go at death to "be with Christ," in the sense in which the Apostle meant the words. St. Paul was of a very different class from such. But suppose they do! The robber who died on the Cross went that very day to be with Jesus in Paradise; but does that involve that that man, with his neglected and perverted past, in a few moments or a few hours, acquired perfection of mind and character? That St. Paul and other developed souls should go at death to be with our Lord is only the corollary of their previous life. It is only in accord with the Divine law that one reaps as he sows. It implies no transformation of being, in the act of dying. Mentally, morally and spiritually, such blessed ones at death become no more than they were. The changed environment does but afford them enhanced possibilities of adding glory on glory to their moral being, as their fuller life rolls on. St. Paul's expectation of being with Christ as soon as he should leave this life, was based on the fact that for him "to live (here) was Christ." In a word, then, the Bible teaches that no moral miracle is worked by Death, but that men and women on entering Spirit-life are what they were on leaving earth-life.

Now, if this truth expressed above be realized, there will be no difficulty in understanding why some of the communications received from the Other Side are unsatisfactory, misleading and even lying. Many attach to the utterance of a spiritual being an importance and authority which they would not dream of attaching to the utterance of any earthly speaker. But why? Do they not know that the World of Spirit holds men and women whose mental and moral conditions are just as varied as are the conditions of men and women here? There, are to be found good, bad and indifferent ones, some enlightened, others but partially so, and many, as yet ignorant of Divine truth, and irresponsive to the vibrations of goodness. These, are to be found those to whom cling the thoughts, instincts and tendencies which have been persistent in the earth-life. The physical body has been laid aside, but the character has been retained. The ones who have been debased, deceitful and untruthful on earth, possess the same pre-disposition and potentiality, until the judgments of God shall have awakened them to better things.

The closing words of the Canon of Scripture are no declaration of a vindictive God; but a statement of what must be under the inviolable law of Cause and Effect—"He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still; and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still." (Rev. xxii. 11 v. Revised Version.)

In the face of this truth, how foolish to treat any statement as authoritative and true, simply and solely because it comes to us from the Other World. And yet there are many who do so. If a communicating spirit should declare that the great verities of the Christian Religion are not to be believed, that, in itself, is quite sufficient in the case of some to cause those verities to be discredited. But that is a very illogical position to assume. The communicator may be an ignorant one, a deceiver, or a liar. In this world we come into contact with such persons, but we do not dream of accepting as truth all that they tell us, simply on the grounds of its being their ipse dixit. No, we exercise our judgment, and estimate the worth of any statement made, by giving due weight to the fact that our informant may be ignorant, misled, or untruthful in regard to the matter about which he speaks.

In just such a sensible way should we treat all communications which come to us from the Other Side. They may be true or they may be false. There are ignorant ones there; those who have carried their old habits and predispositions with them into spirit-life, and who still try to deceive, to lie and to mislead. Earth-bound, and not in tune with the higher life of the Spiritual, they find avenues open to them whereby they can re-establish their connection with the Physical. Are we to believe and to account as authoritative all they may tell us? Not if we be wise; not if we obey the injunction of that Apostle who had a personal experience of the Spirit-World, before he had severed his connection with the Physical World. (See 2 Cor. xii. 1 to 4 v.) He bade us beware of "seducing spirits." We must listen to the counsel of one—another Apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ— the man who saw and heard Jesus, Moses and a Christian fellow-labourer after their departure from this world. "Beloved," wrote he, "believe not every spirit, but test (test the spirits) the spirits whether they are of God.....Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God" (1 John iv. 1—3 v.).

Are we to suppose, if a spirit came to us and told us that God had commissioned him to be "a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets," in order to compass the physical destruction of a wicked man, that that spirit was speaking the truth? We should know at once that he was a deceiver and a liar; because for God to forbid lying and then to sanction and enjoin it, would be on the part of God a breach of the law of righteousness.

A personal friend of mine, who is clairvoyant and clairaudient and possesses great psychic power, and who is, moreover, a Christian and highly cultured, has received many audible and written communications from spirit-beings, of a high order, in the same way as the seers of old did. That person was one day much distressed and perplexed at being told by a spiritual communicator, that he (the spirit) had had no reason to alter or modify the views he had held in earth-life—viz., that the Christian Religion was not true. It seemed so incredible to my friend that a being in spirit-life should be ignorant of a matter which, if true, is of such vital importance to himself and others. "Surely," said he, "the statement of that spirit suggests the thought that the belief we hold may not be right! "Our answer is, that such a statement points to no conclusion of the Christian Religion being untrue; but only to the fact that one in spirit-life was still unenlightened in regard to higher truth; that the consequences of indifference, prejudice, ignorance and irreligion in this world, had blinded a poor soul in the Beyond to the Light of God as it is manifested in the Jesus Who here and there reveals it.

"A misleading spirit!" say some. "Yes," we reply, "if we who know the fuller truth let him mislead us. But not so, if we measure him by the Christ." The authority of the Jesus of earth-life, or the Jesus of Anastasis-life, will be greater to us than the authority of any spirit who may come to us from Behind the Veil. We do not, in this world, surrender our faith, and alter our convictions of truth, at the bidding of an unenlightened and non-developed "casual " who may cross our path.

"A devil—that one!" say others. "No," we again reply, "only a poor soul living in 'the darkness without’; reaping the consequences of past neglect and wilfulness; not yet awakened to truth; not yet drawn to the Christ. Curse him not, though you count him an enemy. The cursing-age for those who believe in the Great Lover of human souls is fast passing away. Discourage his visits to you, if you be not strong enough to help him to God and light, or be weak enough for his ignorance to imperil your faith in Christian truth; but pray for him, tell him to pray; and tell him, too, that other spirits, wiser than he, grander and more developed than he, have come to some of us dwellers on earth from God's spheres of higher and highest Spiritual-life, to help us and uplift us; to tell us that the unattuned and un-Christlike soul cannot know the greatest truths of God, and that only as the soul of man is permeated with Love, and is brought thereby into union with the Christ Who is the Embodiment of Divine Love, can it know the all of Truth, and reach the destined end of being."

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Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Man and the Spiritual World" (1903 UK Edition)
"Thoughts of the Spiritual" (1905 American Edition)

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

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