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vol. 3, p. 167
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Ancient Theosophy; or Spiritism in the Past (continued from page 3-163) >

before him; and provided the custom is not a bad one, the reason is valid. And he likes to go to the same church; he likes to use the same prayers; he likes to keep up the same festivities.”

For such as these, the barren fig trees of Paley and Spinoza are worthless, and with such the words of the Hindoo conception put into the mouth of Christna—“The infinite and the boundless can alone comprehend the boundless and the infinite, God only can comprehend God,”—is a reasonable excuse.

Humanity must prepare for its future destiny, and accept the “Father of all in every clime” to be adored by the “Coming Race.”

With everything material around the inhabitants of cities their spiritual life is killed. The race requires solid sustenance in order to comprehend between body and spirit; for as with the philosopher, so with the peasant, and to few are given the apprehension which Emerson so beautifully explains:—

“We cannot describe the natural history of the soul, but we know that it is divine. All things are known to the soul. It is not to be surprised by any communication. Nothing can be greater than it, let those fear and those fawn who will. The soul is in her native realm; and it is wider than space, older than time, wide as hope, rich as love. Pusillanimity and fear she refuses with a beautiful scorn. They are not for her who putteth on her coronation robes, and goes oat through universal love to universal power.”

Yes, the Spirit Soul which, disengaged of its cumbrous envelope will re-wing its way to the better and purer regions whence it came. Onwards, onwards, onwards—Excelsior.


< Thoughts of the Mediumship of Indian Fakirs (continued from page 3-166) >

themselves to the necessary conditions, or rather are overpowered by them. It is almost necessary to assume a special working of Providence in all these things; therefore, also, in the so-called stigmatisations. They follow the same law of order and continuity that govern other events, so far as we perceive them, though in the present case much remains veiled in mystery. These phenomena are very wonderful, but they are not miracles in the popular sense of the word, though they have been unquestionably held as such by pious believers in all times. We cannot, however, argue with those who, in complete ignorance of the subject, think they can annihilate the facts with the terrible name “deception,” and who prove to their own satisfaction, from natural laws which in no way affect the question, the “impossibility” of mystic phenomena, and who prefer the applause of the unjudging crowd to open and earnest investigation.

Soul and Spirit

February 18, 1876 (Spiritualist)

We have received the following letter:—

To the Editor of The Spiritualist

Sir,—The letters of “M. A. Cantab,” and of “M. A. Oxon,” on this topic are most interesting, and the definition of the latter is excellent. “Within this spirit body dwells the soul, that temporarily segregated portion of the divine mind, by virtue of the possession of which man is immortal, and is a potential sharer in the attributes of Deity. This soul is given at incarnation; and not till it becomes possessed of it is the spirit immortal.”

But, I would ask, is the soul given at incarnation? We know that the body of the embryo infant is much developed before it is “quickened.” Is it not so with the intelligence, which has to be developed to some extent before the immortal soul can be quickened in it? As the intellectual faculties (which constitute a sensible child as compared with an idiot) are gradually grown and developed, and exercised after birth, so I understand that the infinitely more subtle immortal soul is gradually developed and born into the spirit body, which spirit body has been made, and to a certain degree developed, in the young material body.

The signs of the existence of this soul are an instinctive love of good, and hatred of evil, i.e., the possession of a moral sense, quite independent of that external law which even a dog can learn by the accompaniment of rewards and punishments. To feel the beauty of holiness, and to perceive an undying principle amid transitory life are proofs that we have been born the second time, and that we have passed from death to life; that we possess a sense which will not die with the body, and that we are “potential sharers in the attributes of Deity.”

But if, unfortunately, this germ is in some person either not implanted or not developed, or if conscience be killed, and with it the soul germ, then the spirit body contains not its destined immortal guest, and therefore becomes gradually extinguished after death, resolving itself back into the spirit elements, as the earth body does to its physical elements.

This natural psychic law seems to have been known to those who wrote of “the second death,” of “trees whose fruit withered, of wandering stars, to whom it reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” It is absolute extinction of individuality; it is not corrective pain; it is simple extinction; a less painful fate than that of the multitude who have had a conscience, whose immortal soul has been generated, but suppressed, during mortal life, and whose progressive destiny will take them through purifying fires, and who will suffer from “the worm that dieth not.”

Is it not probable that some of the elementary spirits of an evil type are those spirit bodies which, only recently disembodied, are on the eve of an eternal dissolution, and which continue their temporary existence only by vampiring those still in the flesh. They had existence; they never attained to being. I think our lunatic asylums furnish certain half-witted, yet cunning creatures, who possess only the elementary spirit within “a fluctuating mass of atoms,” and evidently have not even the germ of the higher and immortal soul.

It must be remembered that the most gifted of seers, prophets, and mediums, reveal only the things of the spirit. The soul is not to be unveiled nor expressed, save in those deep, yet simple impulses of loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourself. And my divergence from M. A. Oxon is only on his words that the soul is given at incarnation. I rather think it is the object of passing through material existence that the hitherto elementary spirit by alliance with a body of inherited powers of intelligence—should, while without body, generate and develope the higher principle—the immortal soul—so as to attain to what it never before possessed—a death-surviving immortality.

G. T. C. M.

“M.A. Oxon,” writes upon the above subject:—

“The short letter in which I attempted to put into precise words the views on this subject which are embodied in Spirit Teachings'' has called forth several replies. Some of my correspondents discuss elaborately the nature of soul and spirit, even of the Great Spirit Himself; but as they do not define their terms, the result on my mind is to render confusion worse confounded. The letter printed by Mr. Fitz-Gerald suggests the use of ‘spirit’ for what is in my letter called ‘soul.’ There can be no objection, so far as I see, to the use of either word, provided only that care is taken to use it always in the same sense. This is by no means the case in all writers on ‘Scriptural psychology.’ As might be expected from men who had received no exact mental training, they use language more or less loosely. If we had to invent our terminology, it would be well to use some such expressions as ‘physical body,’ ‘spiritual body,’ and ‘soul.’ As most men (I think) understand by soul the immortal principle in man, it seems to be convenient to keep to ‘body,’ ‘spirit,’ ‘soul,’ remembering that we can only observe the operations of the two former, and that we take the existence of the latter on faith alone.


“Most of my correspondents raise points which either can be settled only by a dogmatic ex cathedra'' decision, such as no man should venture to give, or are such as transcend human knowledge. Speculation is usually fruitless; but in theology it is positively futile. That which, in the nature of things, is unknowable, and beyond the reach of our faculties in their present stage of development, should surely be left untouched as one of ‘the secret things which belong to the Lord our God,’ which eternity may unravel. Yet such are made the subject of frequent questions to communicating spirits. No matter of what degree of intelligence and progression in the spirit, he is apparently assumed to know all mysteries. The most abstruse questions are propounded, and of course the most foolish and contradictory answers are received.

“Perhaps the spirit has but lately left a bodily life of ignorance and vice, yet he must discourse on philosophies and religious systems, on the nature of God and the mystery of evil. Or he has been cramped all his life within the iron bonds of some form of dogmatic sectarianism, yet he is expected to have thrown aside the character that he has been building up all his life, and to be an impartial revealer of the Eternal Verities. Simply, it cannot be: and to ask such questions is to foster delusion and invite contradiction. As well ask the first farm labourer you meet about the Baconian philosophy, or question a child about metaphysics.

“Among many fruitful causes of error and contradiction in messages that come from the spirit-world to us, I believe this is among the most prolific. I wish I could see any hope of its being diminished.


“A minor error, ending in waste of time and much fruitless ink shed, is to debate such questions as the origin of the soul and its final destiny, at length and with minuteness of detail. Few can put with sufficient precision the ideas which, in dealing with such matters, must almost necessarily be vague. The letter of ‘G. T. C. M.’ is an exception, and deals very precisely with a subject on which few have thought very deeply. Coming from the pen of an old and experienced Spiritualist, who has given much time and thought to the deeper questions which underlie the subject, it is deserving of all attention. If I do not enter on an elaborate discussion of the minute points of difference between the writer and myself, it is only because, not being responsible for the opinions stated in Spirit Teachings,'' I prefer to seek a <... continues on page 3-168 >

Editor's notes

  1. Soul and Spirit by unknown author (signed as G. T. C. M.), London Spiritualist, No. 182, February 18, 1876, pp. 74-6