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Thoughts of the Spiritual



"Master, it is good for us to be here!"—Mark 9: 5.

The man who uttered this exclamation was standing, for the first time in his life, face to face with two of the grandest and sublimest facts that can be known to human consciousness. The first—that this world of material objects is in close proximity to, and interpenetrated by, another world, not appreciable to the organs of physical sense; and the other fact—that death causes no break in the continuity of human existence and mind.

The demonstration of these facts revolutionized the ideas of this particular man, as similar demonstrations of spiritual realities are revolutionizing the religious notions of thousands.

St. Peter was the person who made the exclamation—rough, honest, enthusiastic, religiously-minded Peter; the man who had conscientiously attended his synagogue, listened to the rabbis, and believed in religion, without grasping the foundation-truth upon which religion must be built; the man, so like the many in our own time, who drowsily acquiesce in the authorized teaching concerning a Life Beyond, and then are profoundly surprised when it pleases God to vouchsafe to them any proof of the reality of that Life.

Only, there is this great essential difference between St. Peter and those to whom we refer. He, in presence of Spiritual manifestations, said— "Master, it is good for us to be here!"; they, when confronted with the facts of the Spiritual— say—"Nonsense! hallucination! impossibility! However true these sorts of things may have been in Bible-times (and of course, as Christians, we implicitly believe the statements of the Bible), we do not credit any evidence that they are happening now. Spiritual manifestations are outside the area of our experience, and therefore all testimony concerning them can only be the outcome of delusion, or something worse."

There is no inconsistency more remarkable than this,—that the ones who admit that their religion has its roots in the Spiritual, and are most convinced of the truthfulness of the Bible, are the very last ones to acknowledge the possibility of Psychic phenomena. The Christian who would be horrified at the bare suggestion that Moses and Elijah did not appear on the mountain of Transfiguration, is often the foremost in denouncing as incredible and absurd any testimony, however reliable, that similar post-mortem appearances are now taking place.

If, in regard to these appearances, the testimony be so overwhelming and persistent that it is found to be impossible to account for it on the hypothesis of delusion or fraud, then numbers of Christians resort to that very old-fashioned expedient of attributing anything outside the ordinary to the agency of Satan.

It is refreshing, in view of this mental attitude of modern Christians toward Spiritual realities, to get back, in thought, to one who could say in presence of them—"Master, it is good for us to be here."

We have mentally transported ourselves to where St. Peter was when he first came into contact with the verities of Another World.

Picture a stately mountain, about thirty-five miles north of the Lake of Galilee—the loftiest and most imposing mountain in the land of Palestine. Gleaming with dazzling whiteness in the sunshine, its summit lies capped with a turban of snow, while its rough, rocky sides stand out in solemn and severe outline, as Nature's reminders to man of the littleness of himself and the greatness of God. Truly, a suitable spot for the revelation of a Higher Life! Thither, the Master had led His band of disciples, and as they had journeyed along the hot, dusty road, He had spoken of His coming suffering and death.

May it not have been that one of Christ's objects in turning the mind of His followers toward death, was to rivet their attention the better upon the magnificent contrast of life that was to be manifested? God teaches us on the principle of contrasts.

At the foot of the great, towering mountain, Jesus had singled out three—Peter, James and John —to go with Him, and had bidden the others wait behind. The psychical condition of these three was such that they, in contradistinction to the others, would be able to perceive the realities of the Spiritual. The faculties of their interior spirit-body— clairvoyance and clairaudience—were more developed than in the case of their companions.

The Master and the chosen three commence the steep ascent. Higher and higher they climb. A bend in the track has taken them out of sight from those below. A lovely prospect bursts upon their view. Away toward the west, the dim outline of the great sea. Stretching toward the north, the long mountain-chain of Lebanon. Away in the east, just discernible in the clear atmosphere, the towers and buildings of the city of Damascus; while southward, sparkling in the sunshine, lie the waters of Gennesaret, into whose bosom the silver, threadlike stream of the upper-Jordan is emptying itself. Higher still! The world seems miles away, and the voices of the chattering crowd below are no longer audible.

They have reached the spot where a demonstration of Spiritual facts is to be vouchsafed to the men who are presently to be leaders in a Church, whose raison d'etre is to proclaim those facts to the world.

A solemn hush is upon everything about them. No sound of earth breaks in upon the silence. The very atmosphere seems to be pulsating with mystery. The sense of an expected something all but unnerves them, as they look into each others' faces, and then on the silent and absorbed Jesus, as He stands apart, looking upward.

What is coming? They know not; the Master has not told them why they have left their fellows' and scaled that mountainside.

But see! a change is coming over the Person of the Master. An extraordinary brightness is lighting His face, and His raiment is gleaming whiter than the snow above their heads. He is a man still; but oh! so glorified! A superstitious dread of what they call the "supernatural" takes hold of them. They wish the Master had not asked them to come with Him. They know not that that brightness is the electric radiance of the SpiritChrist breaking through the walls of the enwrapping flesh. They know not that a day is at hand when a servant of that Jesus, standing before his accusers and murderers, shall shine with the light of the soul, as the Master is shining; and that men shall see the face of Stephen "as it had been the face of an angel."

But see! two men have appeared upon the scene. From whence they came, and how they came, the three know not. They were not there a moment ago; they are there now. The wondering ones know not that the Master has exercised His Divine power to open the eyes of their interior spirit-body to behold the realities of spirit.

The two men are conversing with Jesus, and the words that are uttered disclose their identity. It is Elijah the prophet, and Moses the great lawgiver who had died and been buried over fifteen hundred years before.

A look of amazement and awe stamps itself on the faces of the friends of Jesus. A tremendous conviction has taken hold of them. Now they know that Religion, indeed, rests on the solid basis of fact, and not upon theory. Doubts and perplexities have been swept away; a mystery has been elucidated; an intense assurance has been established. Human life has suddenly been made to assume to them another meaning; its unsatisfactoriness has disappeared; its bugbear, Death, has been stripped of its horrors, and the grave is seen to be but the vestibule of a World of enhanced possibilities.

Now they know why the Master has brought them there. Now they know what they had never realized before. Death is not the extinguisher of man's hopes; the interrupter of his being. It means but transition; the introduction into fuller life, and the calling into activity of greater powers. Moses, of whom priest and rabbi have thought and spoken as the dead leader and moulder of their nation, is a living man. Oh! would that all the world could see and know this! What if the Master and these revered visitors would consent to remain awhile in this mountain, while the three hasten to the Holy City to summon the teachers of Religion to see what they are beholding!

Enthusiastic Peter can contain himself no longer. He breaks in upon the sacred discourse of the Saviour and the old-time prophet "like unto Him." "Master, Master, it is good for us to be here! Stay awhile in this hallowed spot. Let others see what we have seen. Let us make three tabernacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias."

As he speaks, another manifestation of Spiritual reality is vouchsafed. Many of my readers who have investigated the Psychical are familiar with a like phenomenon. A luminous cloud overshadows them. A voice is heard, speaking as if from out the Spiritual brightness—"This is My beloved Son; hear Him: He can tell you the secrets of the Beyond."

The unearthly radiance pales; the visitants from Behind the Veil have gone; the demonstration of the Spiritual has been made. The three men look around, and see no man, "save Jesus only with themselves."

Such was the experience of St. Peter and his companions on the mountain of Manifestation.

It may be instructive to ask why he said it was good for him to be there. What great truths were inborne upon his mind, which were not understood by him before?

Firstly. I think that manifestation lifted his ideas of life after death out of the atmosphere of mere speculation and hope, into that of intelligent belief and certainty. St. Peter, up to that moment when he actually saw and heard departed Moses, was very much in the same condition as thousands of the Christian-folk at the present time.

He accepted, as a part of his religion, the tradition of his Church, that there is a life beyond the grave; but it had had no influencing, no moulding effect, upon his thoughts and actions. His conception of that life was far too dim and shadowy to produce that result. Like the many who profess to believe in uninterrupted life at death, I dare say, had dear ones of his died, he would have done very much as they do. He would have thought and talked of them as if they were extinct, and would have buried them with all the gloomy paraphernalia of pagan hopelessness. Without doubt, he had believed, in common with his co-religionists, that the animating principle of a man—his soul—survives the catastrophe called "Death," and lives on in Another World; but as to what the soul itself is after its departure from the body, and what the World of Spirit is, into which it enters when it leaves here, he had but the crudest notion. Probably, he had often thought about the subject. Most likely he had questioned the rabbis, and had only elicited from them something similar to what the inquiring Christian elicits from many of the foremost teachers of these times; viz., that the Life Beyond is veiled in impenetrable mystery, and that nobody ever has known, or ever will know, anything about it until he gets there.

And so, up to the moment when Jesus demonstrated the reality of the Spiritual to St. Peter, the thought of dying had been to him what it was to Socrates and other grand souls—the prospect of "a leap in the dark." Like thousands since him, he believed in a resurrection; but it was a resurrection in the far distance, that spoke nought to a trembling soul of intermediate unbroken life and uninterrupted progress. What he saw on that mountain of Manifestation revolutionized all his old ideas on the subject of Death. That horror of human experience was different from what he had imagined.

It was not a curse; but a blessing in disguise. It did not chloroform a soul into suspended animation for an indefinite period; it was but the birth-pang to fuller life.

The presence of Moses on that mount of Manifestation makes that truth perfectly clear to him. There he stands—the great Lawgiver—the one reckoned by the teachers as being the foremost among the honored "dead "; the man whose body had mouldered into dust ages ago! There he stands—that departed Moses; not a shadowy vapor; not a nebulous luminosity; not a phantom of the imagination; but a man, with the shape of a man, the voice of a man, and the thoughts and reasoning powers of a man! "Behold there talked with Him two men."

From that moment, the World of Spirit, and the unbroken continuance of life on the part of those who are ushered into it by death, became living realities to St. Peter.

Grasping the truth which was later on to be embodied in the words of a brother-apostle—"There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body"—St. Peter realized the truth which the world to-day is being awakened to realize, that our essential self is not a bodiless, naked entity; but a spirit enclosed in a spiritual organism; and that Death, which strips us of the physical, leaves us with a spiritual enwrapment which acquires extended powers by its emancipation from the flesh. Years after St. Peter had had this experience on the mount, he could write as calmly and fearlessly about dying as if he were only proposing to discard an unneeded garment—"Shortly," wrote he, "I must put off this my tabernacle."

Those after-words of the Apostle reveal to us the primary reason for that exclamation—"Master, it is good for us to be here."

Further, St. Peter learned another great truth concerning life Behind the Veil, viz., that the tone and disposition of a person's mind before death characterizes his mental condition after death. The act of dying does not remodel us as a being with a wholly new set of thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions and aspirations. The one who has not cultivated, in this life, the mental and spiritual parts of his being, will not, as some have supposed, find, in the Spiritual World, those parts of him to be vigorous. In that World where mind is predominant, for a while, at least, he will be unadapted to his environment. The earth-life handicapping of himself will have placed him at a disadvantage.

The person who has attached little or no importance as to the formation of character; who has imagined that a death-bed repentance and the transference to Another World will suddenly equip him for the perfection and blissfulness of Heaven, will find out his mistake. Whatever condition of future Salvation that postponed repentance may initiate him into, it does not transform him into an individual whose character is developed as soon as he crosses the frontier-line of the Spiritual. That man, too, will have handicapped himself.

Conversely, the one who has rightly disposed the mind, during earth-life; who has courted uplifting thoughts, cherished Christ-like feelings and developed noble traits of character, will carry those acquirements with him as he passes hence.

In other words, we are not one kind of being here, and an altogether different kind of being there. The act of dying effects no break in the continuity of our existence, nor does it effect any break in the continuity of thought and character. That fact was made very clear to St. Peter and his friends on that mountain of Manifestation. The mind of Moses on the Spirit-plane, who was heard conversing with the Saviour, was shown to be the same mind that had energized in the man when he was on earth. To whatever extent his sojourn of fifteen hundred years in the Spiritual World had developed the capabilities of his mind, it had not altered its disposition.

He was still, as a discarnate man, thinking on the lines he had thought as an incarnate man. When in that land of Moab, "according to the word of the Lord," that grand old emancipator of Israel finished his earth-life's work, and passed to the Beyond, he did not leave his thoughts, his ideas, and his hopes behind him. Centuries of spiritual experience had not eradicated those thoughts and ideas.

In the earth-life, his mind had been concentrated upon the idea of sacrifice and death. He it was who had formulated and established the system of Levitical worship. In the spirit-life, his thoughts were still in the same groove, and with clearer perceptions of Divine truth, he was thinking of the same things. St. Luke, in recording the incident of that conversation on the mountain, states, that Moses "spake of His (the Saviour's) decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem."

It was this truth in regard to the continuity of mind that flashed itself upon the consciousness of the Apostle on this occasion. He felt that henceforth life on earth would bear a different and a more important significance. What he would be after death would correspond exactly with what he was making himself to be before death. The disposition he was now giving to his mind and character would be the disposition that both would have Beyond the Veil. From that conversation between Moses and the Christ, he could gather that Death would bring no sudden mental and moral transformation; no change of nature, no instant redirection to the mind and will; it would but change environment. "Master," he exclaims, "it is well I know this; well for my earnestness in that task of cultivating my mind and character now while I am in this lower-life. It is good for us to be here!"

Yes, and it is good for us who are living in an age when Spiritual verities are being demonstrated in our midst, to grasp the great lessons which our Father-God, in His goodness, is imparting.

Many, since Moses on that mountain of Manifestation appeared to astonished disciples, have manifested, and are still manifesting, themselves from the World of Spirit to us who are here.

To any reader who doubts this assertion, we say—"Open your mind to conviction; do not let the dreary agnosticism which has characterized so much of the religious teaching of the past, cause you to close your eyes to the wonderful revealments of the present. Study the published reports of men who have investigated the phenomena of the Psychic (I mean the admissions of the men of Science), until you shall be compelled to concede, in opposition to all you have been taught, that there are more things in heaven and earth than you had hitherto dreamed of in your philosophy."

To those earnest, but narrow-minded and illogical ones, who ascribe all Psychical phenomena— all proof that man possesses a death-surviving soul —to the agency of a Satan, supposed to be as powerful as, or even more powerful than, the God Himself, we say—"Nonsense—do not be silly! How can the devil further his ends by concocting spiritual manifestations which convince man, first, that 'life is real; life is earnest,' and next, that 'the grave is not its goal'?"

Why, in the name of common sense, account that incident on the mountain of Spiritual Manifestation, a blessed revealment of God; and in the next breath, account later manifestations, declaring the same mighty truths of uninterrupted life and character, as machinations of the Evil One!

It was good for St. Peter, who saw a departed one after death, and it is good for thousands who are now living, and have had a similar experience —to know that Death denudes us of nought but our physical encasement; that it is but the birth-pang that ushers us into fuller being, and the God-appointed gateway through which we pass to greater possibilities.

Yes, and it was good for St. Peter, and it is good for us also to know that the eternal moral laws of God are inviolable; that a man must reap in his life Beyond what he has sown in his life on earth; that the bent and disposition given to the mind here, will be its bent and disposition after death.

It is good for us to know and realize this, because it will lead us so to think, so to feel, and so to act in this Infant-school of our experience, that when God shall say—"Come up higher!" we may pass easily on to our perfection and salvation.

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Other Books by Rev. Chambers:

"Man and the Spiritual World" (1903 UK Edition)
"Problems of the Spiritual" (1907 UK Edition)

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