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Problems of the Spiritual


III. The prohibition given by God to the ancient Israelites, that no communication should be held with "familiar spirits," is—to my mind— a proof that such communication was, and is, possible. But does not the prohibition also imply that all intercourse with the Spiritual World is contrary to the will of God?

The first of these two conclusions is right; the other is wrong. If it be acknowledged that God forbad persons to hold communication with spiritual beings, it must also be acknowledged that this communication could be effected; unless we commit our selves to the absurdity of supposing that the Almighty solemnly charged men not to do that which they could not possibly do. If there be no such thing as communion between beings in this world and beings in the Spirit-World, then there would seem to be no more sense in this prohibition than there would in one that commanded men not to jump over the moon. The point is an important one in regard to the attitude assumed towards Spiritualism by many Christians. There are many good and earnest persons who profess to believe the statements of the Bible, and are also convinced that this prohibitory command is a Divine one, who, nevertheless, scout as being foolish the idea of communication with the Spiritual. "The thing is an impossibility," say they. "The Departed cannot under any circumstances or any conditions re-establish intercourse with those whom they left behind. An impassable barrier is set up between us in this life and all others in Spirit-life."

But, surely, this is a very illogical position to take! If it be true that there is this "impassable barrier" between the two worlds, of course, it cannot be passed. Then why tell persons not to pass it? A wholly unnecessary command! A restrictive law is not required, except in respect to things which men can do. Thus we account the prohibition itself as implying the possibility and fact of communication with Spirit-beings.

There is another class of Christians, who perceive the illogical position of those to whom we have just referred, and endeavour to explain the matter by resorting to what, for convenience sake, we may term the "Diabolic" theory. According to them, the Devil is at the bottom of all intercourse between us and the Other World. Spiritualism is therefore, of course, his direct work.

They tell us that communication is possible between terrestrial and spiritual beings; but that the spiritual beings who come into contact with us are all bad ones;—agents in the service of the great and very powerful Devil. No good spirit, no departed loved one, between whom and ourself a bond of love exists, is ever allowed by God (we are told) to come near us, to comfort us, help us, and affect us for good by the projection to us of the distillations of his ascending mind and spirit. Oh! no; such a thought is supposed to be a disparagement of the work and power of the Holy Ghost. (Though why it should be so in that case, more than in the case of those in this world who help and bless each other, we cannot see.)

No; only the evil spirits are permitted to come to us; the "barrier" between us and the Spiritual World is impassable for all the good, but passable for the crew of evil. "Did not God forbid all intercourse with familiar spirits, because of this?" ask they.

The answer which suggests itself to the ordinary, common-sense individual is—"How strange! how very contradictory it seems, that God should let the veil between this world and the Other be drawn at all, if only the bad, and none of the good, are suffered to pass through it to us! "

Our friends have yet to learn that intercourse with the Spiritual World involves exactly that which is involved in our intercourse with persons belonging to this world; viz., we may come into contact with the good, bad and indifferent. Society in the Spirit-World is not, as some have supposed, composed only of two great classes—the good and the bad.

Between the conditions described by these two terms lie "all sorts and conditions" of spirit-beings. There are men and women passed into Spirit-life, who exhibit there as much variety in mind, character and spirit, as do the men and women who move among us here. There are those who have passed hence with the spiritual side of them wholly undeveloped. They are " of the earth, earthy." Many of them, unfitted for the new life, are eager to re-establish relations with the old. There are others in whom as yet the spiritual is but slowly developing. These for a while, at all events, will retain many of their imperfect moral characteristics and their limitations of knowledge. Others who, in the ascending scale, stand at different altitudes of moral excellence, wisdom and spirituality. A great mass of widely-differing individuals is that inconceivable aggregation of beings in the Spiritual World; as widely-differing from one another in knowledge, thought and cultivation as do the men and women who constitute the population of a continent.

Now, if this fact as to the variety which characterizes life and experience in the Spirit-World be realized, we shall be able to form some true idea of the possibilities connected with intercourse between that World and this. The door between the two worlds has been opened,—and is still open—in some cases and under certain conditions. The denial of that involves the rejection of the persistent testimony of mankind throughout the centuries—a testimony more persistent and emphatic to-day than ever it has been—; the rejection of the Bible statements which affirm the fact, and, moreover, the rejection of the results of careful modern scientific investigation which go to verify the statements of that Book. "Quite so," says the supporter of the "Diabolic" theory, "there is communication to us from the Spirit-World, but only the devils ever come to us from it." "But why only they?" we ask. Is it not opposed to all ideas of the fitness of things, that God should permit the opening of the door of the Spiritual only to let loose on us the beings who will seek to harm us? That is not what He does when, in this lower earth-life, He opens the doors of communication between us and others. That was not what His Christ did when He opened the door of the Spiritual on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the Garden of Joseph. Through that open door came no devils to men and women, but departed Moses and Elijah and God's angels. What a dreadful state of affairs it would be, if God had granted us in earth-life only to associate with the evil! What a fearful conception of God is that which thinks of Him as opening the door of the Spiritual solely to let loose the Devil and his crew on us! An idea such as this savours to us of dishonour to God.

How much more consistent is it to believe that our Father-God, in granting to those who are in spirit-life the power of sometimes coming to us who are in earth-life, has granted it not only to the bad, but also to the good and others! And may it not be that the reason why at times He allows to us in earth-life this association with good, bad and indifferent spirit-beings, is to bring home to our feebly-working minds the true significances of Life Beyond? And may not another reason be, that the contact of such with us will, in some way or another, be made to contribute to God's great Purpose of good in regard to them? Suppose it be so—suppose these constitute the two great objects for God's allowing of this contact of the Spiritual with the Physical World,—then how all-important becomes the matter!

From good, bad and indifferent spirits we may realize great truths which, perchance, we did but imperfectly realize from the earthly preachers and teachers—viz., that the Other Life is but a development from the earth-life; that God's Law of Correspondence is inviolable, making men and women in spirit-life (for a while, at least) no more and no less than they have made themselves to be in earth-life; and that the pronouncement—"He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, and he that is holy, let him be holy still"—is no mere sentence of punishment for the bad and reward for the good, but the Divine proclamation to us that all reaping will answer to the sowing. Yes, and these spirits, good and bad and indifferent, may come to us as God's Object-Lessons on these eternal truths. From those poor, debased, earth-bound spirits, who have been seen by many as haunting the scenes of their former vice, with the desire for the low, the sensual and the unspiritual still dominating them—we may learn, better than from any manual on Hell-fire and damnation, what an evilly-directed life really means. From the frivolous, silly, uninformed spirits, who startle us by their ignorance of those truths which our better-trained soul both knows and accepts— we may learn the danger—the awful danger of starving in earth-life the spirit-part. Transferred though they be to the World of Mind and Spirit, their knowledge of God and Divine things is less, as yet, than ours. Yes, and we may learn the same great significances of life from those higher ones in Spirit-life who come to us at times—those souls who when on earth were loved and prized because, like the Master, they helped and blessed and exhaled sweetness. They, too, come, because the Spiritual Life is but a continuance, a development of the earth-life. Death has not changed their being; it did but alter their environment. The same thoughts of love, and the same desire to help and bless are within them as of old. Their present has been moulded by their past. Like departed Moses on the Mount with Jesus, they show that the trend of the mind on earth is the trend of the mind Beyond. And what (as we said just now) if this opening of the door of the Spiritual to these developed and undeveloped ones on the Other Side, be made to further God's purpose of good in respect to them!

The World of Spirit is no Province of life and experience detached from and unrelated to this Physical World. The two are correlated. The former is as much a part of the vast Empire of our Father-God, and as closely connected with this Physical World, as India is a part of King Edward's Empire and connected with England. Nay, more so; for we, while still living on earth, have our being in two Worlds—the Physical and the Spiritual.

Moreover, this fact of the consolidarity of God's universe—that no part of it is detached from any other part, and that inter-dependence is the Divine Law of all being—should make us realize that all provision made by God for blessing is made in view of the whole, and not in view of any part only. The true conception of the Christ is a magnificent one. In the particular, He is God's Provision for blessing mankind. True, but the blessing is to affect the whole universe. How those words of St. Paul voice this truth as to consolidarity—"That God might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are in earth ... that He might fill all things" (Eph. i. 10 v., and iv. 10 v.)! How they dwarf into insignificance the notions of some as to the non-salvability of countless myriads in the Empire of God.

And, of course, this view of the connectedness of each sphere of life with every other sphere of life, will considerably modify our idea as to why we should be Christians. The raison d’être which is so commonly given is, that we may thereby be saved from a wrath to come, and receive a great blessing for ourselves. That is not the true raison d’être. The blessing which comes to anyone, individually, from union with Christ, was never meant to be an end in itself. The blessing was given to be extended. That blessed one is not a detached being; he stands related to others—to the whole universe. Never will he fulfil the reason of his calling, until somehow and somewhen, in this life or some other life, he has caused his blessing, as a tributary stream of effort for others' good, to run into that great mainstream of God's Purpose of blessing all.

In the light of this truth of the connectedness of each with all others, and of this world with the Spiritual World, is it not likely that we on earth, by prayer and uplifting thoughts at all times, and by actual intercourse sometimes, may be able to help and bless discarnate ones?

There is another reason for believing that we may help these ones.

It arises from the fact of the enormous number there must be on the Other Side who stand in need of help. It must be so, unless we are prepared to think that Death for ever fixes the character and unalterably determines the destiny of all who pass thither. The brighter Theology of this age has discarded the old notion that beings must remain throughout Eternity what they are at the time of physical dissolution. Though Death works no miracle of moral transformation in regard to any, the mercy and love of God puts no soul outside the Purpose of advancement and ultimate Salvation. According to the Master, the "lost" things are not for ever to remain "lost," nor are the "dead" things never to be made "alive again."

Now, the vast majority of those who pass from earth-life into Spirit-life are either what Christ would have called "lost" or "dead" ones, or they are undeveloped ones, mentally, morally and spiritually. Millions face the realities of the Spiritual World with no sense of relationship to God, and are dead, or all but dead, to that which constitutes life in the spirit. Other millions there are whose minds, whose characters and whose spirits are such as to make the highest life impossible to them, so long as they remain unridded of imperfection. Think of an enormous ladder whose foot rests on the earth, and whose top touches the summit of an Alp. The ladder represents the ascent to that possible moral and spiritual Perfection, defined by Jesus in the words—"Ye therefore shall be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. v. 48 v.). Its topmost rung represents that promised Perfection; its bottom-most rung that point of moral and spiritual attainment which is reached by the great bulk of mankind at the time they pass into Spirit-life; while the intervening rungs of that ladder denote those spheres of ascension through which every soul must pass on its way to the goal of being. The illustration will give us some idea of the greatness of the goal which a Father-God has marked out for the creatures His Love enwraps. The number of those rungs to be trodden will suggest the folly of neglecting, in the earth-life, the teaching of our spirit-self to do the work of mounting Godward; and it will divest those words of the Apostle of that ring of hopelessness which a certain Theology has imported into them, and will invest them with another meaning—"Now is the accepted time"; the height is great, and the rungs are many! Yes, and it may lead us to realize how great—how inconceivably great—must be the multitude of discarnate ones who cry to others—to us, perchance,— who have reached the higher rungs, to help them in their climbing upward.

An inconceivably great multitude? Yes; picture it, if you can. It has been estimated that about 44,000 persons die on this earth in every month of the year. Think of this Death-harvest of the years, the centuries and the millenniums. Think of that mighty stream of human souls which has been pouring, and is still pouring, into the World of Spirit, and then ask yourself—"How many of those souls have scaled the ladder and are ripe for Heaven?" The answer will be—" Very few, in comparison with the hosts at the base of the ladder."

Is it, then, a groundless belief to think that in a universe bearing the Divine hall-mark of Consolidarity, we on the plane where the Spiritual and Physical intermingle, may play some part in the Divine Purpose of helping and blessing the World of the Spiritual? We think not. We dare believe that that interview between the Christ in the Earth-life and Moses and Elijah in the Spirit-life on that mountain of Palestine, led the lawgiver and the prophet to mount to higher rungs of Divine Knowledge. We know of actual cases, in which poor, earthbound spirits have been seen and heard by clairvoyant and clairaudient persons, and have asked the latter for their prayers and uplifting thought-influences. "Pray for me! pray for me!" said one of these undeveloped ones from the World of Spirit, to a Christian friend I know. "I will," was the reply—"every day I will pray that you may find light and peace. Every time I kneel at God's Holy Altar, too, I will pray for you." That gentleman saw that spirit once again, and heard these words—"I am not earth-bound now; the desire for God has come; the darkness has gone; it was your prayers for me which led me to pray."

But further, the fact of being able to help our fellow-creatures in the Other World is in accordance with that principle under which we know and see the redemptive and uplifting work of God to be carried on. No new principle of the Divine modus operandi is introduced thereby. "God blesses man through man," says the old adage, and the essential being of no one is changed because of the transference of him from the Physical to the Spiritual. God blesses the ignorant, the undeveloped and the base in this world through their contact with the more enlightened, the more developed and better ones. That is the principle which underlies all missionary effort and the work of social reclamation. Are we prepared to say that God, while acting on this principle in regard to saving work in this world, disallows it in regard to that Spiritual World with which we are so closely connected? If the fact of intercourse between that World and this be admitted, (and the foundation-truth of the Christian Religion would be removed, if it be denied) is it not the most reasonable of all thoughts to suppose that behind God's allowance of the intercourse lies His purpose of blessing man through man? The man who is God's instrument of blessing may be in this world and the man to be blessed in the Other World; but that seems to us to make no difference in the power of the one to help the other.

The consolidarity of the universe remains. No part of it is independent of any other part. God and His Love and His power for uplifting are not shut off from any quarter of it. The Psalmist was right when he said that if men ascended up into Heaven they could find Him there, or made their bed in hell, there also would He be (Ps. cxxxix. 8 v.). This world and the Other are correlated. Influences for good and evil are streaming in from the Spiritual to the Physical, and vice versa. The good and Christlike in Spirit-life may project their mind and spirit-impulses upon us in Earth-life, and at times may visibly manifest themselves to us, as the glorified departed "fellowservant" did to the aged St. John; while the good and noble on earth may, by prayer for the departed, by the sending forth to them of concernful thoughts, of soul-impulses impregnated with the quickening power of a Divine Love passed from God through them—help on to light and refreshment and advancement poor souls who have crossed the frontier-line of the Spiritual, undeveloped and unsaved.

I know, perfectly well, what some who read these lines will say. I can voice their reply in two words —"Danger—Devil!" I have dealt with that reply in another chapter of this volume. Here, I will only add this. Why do you not exclaim the same thing in respect to all Evangelistic work? Is there no danger of baneful influence to those who for the cause of Christ and the love of souls suffer themselves to come into contact with all sorts of undeveloped ones—the revolting savage and the debased dweller in the filthy back-slum? Why believe in the principle of the bad being raised by their contact with the good, as it applies to this world, and deny it in its application to the Other and more needful World? God does not work under conflicting sets of principles in different spheres.



All that has been said above as to the possibility of and the reason for this intercourse between the earth-world and the Other World, will make it easier to answer the question which stands at the head of this chapter—"Does not the prohibition given to the ancient Israelites imply that all intercourse with the Spiritual World is contrary to the will of God?" We answer—"No; it does but imply that, at a particular time and under particular circumstances, such intercourse was forbidden to certain persons for special reasons." It does not follow that, if God forbid a thing at one time, He forbids it for all time.

Circumstances may alter the case. Take an instance. According to the Mosaic law, the Israelites were prohibited from intermarrying with foreign races. The regulation was a good one, in view of the fact that the Israelites were to bear witness to the true principles of religion and morality, and the foreign races were steeped in Polytheism and vice. The prohibition was a necessity of the time. But is all intermarriage between nations, therefore, to be accounted wrong? Is this law, which was made for special circumstances, to debar all persons from marrying foreigners? For sufficient and good reasons, God may even for a while close the door of the Spiritual, as when in the time of Eli " there was no open vision," or during the few centuries preceding the birth of Jesus, no exalted spirit seems to have come to men, and no earthly teacher received that influx of Spiritual inspiration which could constitute him a prophet. And yet, at the coming of the Saviour, the door was opened again, and inter-communion between the Spiritual World and this marked the earth-life history of the Son of Man. If the prohibition given to the Israelites denoted that all intercourse with the World of Spirit is contrary to the will of God, how very strange and inconsistent that angels and departed men should have so identified themselves with God's Christ and His mission on earth! Can anything, more than this intermingling of the Spiritual and the Physical in the time of Jesus, establish the fact that all intercourse with the Other Side is not forbidden by God?

We have to consider the circumstances which rendered that prohibition to the Israelites a necessary one. The social and moral condition of that race at that time was a very low one. The people had been but lately emancipated from all the demoralizing influences of Egyptian slavery. Their views of God were crude and chaotic, and their religious ideas showed the constant tendency to become assimilated to the ideas which characterized the religion of Egypt, and the still baser forms of the religions of those nations with whom they came into contact after the Exodus. The first commandment—"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me"—indicates the Israelites' proneness to Polytheism; while the commands not to kill, not to steal and so on, denote that the standard of morality among them at that time was of no high type. They had been chosen, in the Divine ordering of things, to pioneer in the world the cause of true Religion and righteousness, but as yet mentally, morally and socially they were undeveloped. They were susceptible to every influence hostile to a true conception of God, and in danger from every contact pertaining to the moral undevelopment from which they were slowly emerging. Both the hostile influence and danger soon presented themselves in a special form. In the progress of the Israelites to the land in which they were to subsequently settle themselves, they encountered foes who resisted the invasion of their territory. Thousands of these foes were slain in the sanguinary encounters which ensued. Thousands and thousands of human souls, ignorant, morally base, and filled with the feelings of hatred and revenge against their slayers, were violently hurled by the Israelites into Spirit-life. Some among the Israelites were "mediums"—their psychic powers were so developed as to make it possible for the ones in Spirit-life to re-establish through them communication with their persecutors. Through these open doors came a host of malignant ones, thirsting for retaliation, and eager to harm. There was but one safeguard for a people, so little prepared for the attack of evil, and who, moreover, had themselves provoked the attack. The door must be closed; the communication between the Spiritual and the Physical be broken in that particular case and under those particular circumstances. Hence the prohibition. It was given not to proscribe all communication between this world and the Other, but to meet the exigences of a particular case.

But lastly, those who account this prohibition given to the ancient Israelites, as implying that all intercourse with the Spiritual World is contrary to God's will, prove too much. They cut away the foundation upon which the Jewish and Christian Religions rest. Communication between this world and the Spiritual is the fact upon which prophets and apostles relied for their credentials. Without such communication, Christianity, on its own showing, would possess no evidences of its preternatural origin, its spiritual inspiration or Divine vocation in the world at all. It has been accepted by men because of its vital relationship to the Spiritual. The history of the Hebrew race as narrated in the Old Testament, is indissolubly bound up with the fact of men's contact with the World of Spirit.

Are we to suppose that the experiences of that race, in regard to spiritual visitants and phenomena, were in opposition to the will and command of God? There would seem to be an inconsistency in God's proscribing intercourse with the Spiritual World, and then employing that intercourse as the foremost means of teaching men the highest truth.

Again, in the New Testament, the life and work of Jesus and the Apostles are inseparably connected with spiritual intercourse. From the birth of the Saviour to His withdrawal of Himself into the plane of sublimated and ascended life, inter-communion between this world and the Spirit-World marks the whole track of His experience. And so, too, with respect to the Apostles and others associated with them. Almost every chapter of the Acts contains the record of a spiritual sign or wonder, an angelic visit, a spiritual vision or a spiritual voice. All this is inexplicable and contradictory, if the prohibition, given under special circumstances, against communion with the Spirit-World, denotes that the thing itself is forbidden by God. The contradiction disappears, if it be realized that God's opening of the door of the Spiritual has been the great means by which He has instructed man in Divine truth; and that His reason for commanding certain ones not to open that door, was because the great Law of Spiritual Attraction must always operate, and the danger to those morally and spiritually undeveloped ones of attracting to them evil influences, was greater than any likelihood of drawing the good.

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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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