vol. 3, p. 249
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Spiritualism and Christianity (continued from page 3-248) >

edge, is the only power that can restore a vitalizing religion in the minds of the people.

Spiritualism is the head of the Church inasmuch as it demonstrates the Universal Presence of God in the world. It is the very voice of God, responding to the cry of the age. God has not spoken once, and for all time since been dumb. The ancient heavens are as strong as of yore; the Shekniah of God has not departed from the Holy of Holies, and, as in the days of Adam, Moses and Jesus, God is faithful, and his loving care is over all. Sinai was not the only place where God revealed himself; Samuel was not the only one to whom God spoke. He speaks now as of yore, and reveals. His ever-abiding presence as in the ancient days.

Spiritualism commends itself as an aid to Christianity by throwing additional light upon many knotty points in the Bible. Says one writer, “We need not ask a Christian to disbelieve his Bible, but only beg him to understand it. We can help him when his knowledge of the original tongues, however profound, affords him no satisfactory aid. lake for instance, Mark xvi.,15-18 verses inclusive. His belief in what is here stated can yield him nothing but perplexity and trouble as often as he seriously reflects upon it.” In the light of Spiritualism, this and a hundred other such passages, which deal with spiritual phenomena, are clear as the light of day. What can a churchman or dissenter make of such passages, as the above, or the numerous “trances,” “spirit-lights” ‘spirit voices” spoken of in Ezekiel, or of the enumeration of spiritual gifts by St. Paul himself? As a rule a creed has been followed in such cases and not the Bible, thus arriving at conclusions far wide of the truth, whereas all difficulty would have disappeared in the light of modern phenomena akin to the ancient “miracles.”

Again: Under the influence of materialistic teaching of Science, there are those who avow that belief in a future existence belittles this present life; but those who read the pages of existence in the full glare of Spiritualism know that immortality is the inalienable birthright of every human soul, and can testify that, on the contrary, it gives this present life an incomparable greatness. What is man with all his desires, his hopes, his labors, and his fears, if the passing hour be the end and aim of all? Every day his fondest hopes are seemingly blighted, his efforts rendered fruitless, his intentions misunderstood, his love despised. He gathers thorns where he had hoped for figs, thistles for grapes, and in the flushed moment of expectancy his vain imaginings elude his grasp, and melt into thin air. If this life is the only one—if our only country and home is this “passing show"—then life has indeed no meaning; it is an enigma as cruel as it is inexplicable, and over the threshold of existence should be written the wonderful despairing legend:—

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate.

If this be the cruel, thrice cruel truth, that man, standing as he does at the apex of material creation—its highest possible perfection—is alone doomed, of all the products of glorious being, to retrace his steps in the scale of development, and lay down with hopes blighted and cruel disappointments, with memories of misfortunes, mistakes, and failures at the very moment his aspirations had reached the threshold of an invisible spiritual world, then indeed, to quote the words of Paul, are mankind “left without God, and without hope in the world.”

But Spiritualism lights up the dark picture, and points out that the decayed hopes and scattered plans of yesterday will bear a glorious fruition to-morrow. The disappointments, misfortunes, and mistakes of the past cluster over our heads awaiting us transformed into golden-winged evangels of life— eternal life—in the future, when the thorns and thistles which now hinder our onward path shall be transmuted into the sweetest flowers and fruits of Paradise.

Spiritualism is also an aid to Religion in banishing the universal fear of death which disgraces nine-tenths of Christendom, and which certainly suggests grave doubts as to the efficacy of religious teaching. And what, after all, is equal to the positive knowledge concerning the next life which Spiritualism supplies? Humanity, pausing on the mount of vision, sees his fellows passing from the shore of one Eternity towards another. One by one they move with mournful faces to the tomb, and the way seems dark and drear. Where is the one who has lost a friend who has not wished it might be possible for that friend to come back? What would not have been given for just one glimpse, one word from the sweet voice hushed in death? Are all these hopes and longings vain? Thank God, no. The dead are human still, and being human they live and love. Unseen, they are everywhere: death has no power over them; the grave cannot keep them back. “Oh Death, where is thy sting? oh grave, where is thy victory?” A voice from the tomb shouts forth in glorious triumph, “Lost in the joys of life.” Ah, poor sorrowing souls, cheer up, the dead are still alive. Weeping mother, thy child, whom thou hast loved so dearly and so well, has not gone forever. Some beautiful writer has said “In the loss of earthly friends, of children, we see the vine growing up by the side of the fences, and passing over the top, the flower is on the other side. Some of us have dear children flowering in heaven. The flower passes out of sight, but the bloom is on the other side, but no less sweet than if we had it here, for they are radiant with the Father’s glory.” Oh, the dead are not dead; they are near at hand— oh, so near! Oftentimes our eyes can pierce the thin vail and see the shining forms of loved ones walking in the sunshine of our Father’s love, watching and guarding the dear ones on earth.

Such then are the needs of the Christian Church, and such is the assistance which Spiritualism can render. Oh! brothers of one Common Father, reject not, we pray thee, the proffered hand. Parted once at the hour of birth, let us be united now, joining hand in hand in the combat of life, rendering mutual offices of love. We labor for one common object— for God and immortality—let us then join issues, mighty in strength, united in action, unbounded in charity and love.

Universal Faith in the Spirit-World

An interesting and valuble book might be written on the incidental and undesigned evidences of Spiritualism in general literature. Poetry and prose, newspapers and magazines, history and biography, books of travel, philosophy, and science, might all be laid under contribution. Following the didactic suggestion of the poet, we might survey mankind from China to Peru, or we might travel backward in time to the father of History; and still farther back to the earliest Scriptures of every Religion, and to the still more remote time of primitive tradition; and still beyond, to a time of which the only records are in the mounds and burial places of the first races of mankind; and in all climes and periods, in all stages of society, and in all varieties of condition, character and culture; in the saint, the savage and the sage, we should find, under all diversities of form and expression, the same essential, universal faith in man’s spiritual mature, and immortality brought home to the consciousness of men by experience of manifestations from, and communion with those who hid left the mortal for the immortal state.

Mr. Peebles (late U. S. Consul)who, in company with Dr. Dunn, has lately returned home, having traveled round the globe—in his Round the World (just published), lifts a little of the veil of mystery, and gives us some clear glimpses of this wide spread experience among the various nations of the world, especially in the ancient countries of the East, among the aboriginees of Australia, and the natives of Polynesia. Travelers, missionaries, and other residents, tell the same unvarying tale. Hue and Gabet, in Tartary and China; Howard and Malcolm, in South-Eastern Asia; Mr. Lane (still, perhaps, our best authority on the modern Egyptians); his sister, Mrs. Pool; Harriet Martineau, who has given such glowing pictures of Eastern Life, past and present; a Mr. Barker, British Vice-Consul at Theodosia, in his work. The Mendal; the African explorers. Burton and Livingstone, with many more who might be enumerated, all have added something to our knowledge of Spiritualism in the places where they have severally been; not, indeed, with special intent (and it may be more trustworthily on that account), but as incidents which came under their observation, or information they had obtained upon the spot. Thus, in his last journals (just published), Livingstone tells us of tribes m the interior of Africa who, in their dances and rejoicings, express the; satisfaction they feel that the prospect of returning to earth as spirits, and accomplishing what now they are unable to effect; and in the same work (Vol. II., p. 86), he tells us:—

Suleiman-ben-Juma lived on the main-land, Mosessame opposite Zanzibar. It is impossible to deny his power of foresight, except by rejecting all evidence, for he frequently foretold the deaths of great men among Arabs and he was pre-eminently a good man, upright and sincere—“Thisti,” none like him now form goodness and skill. He said that two middle-sized white man, with straight noses and flowing hair down to the girdle behind, came at times at and told him things to come. He died twelve years ago, and left no successor; he foretold his own decease three days beforehand, by cholera.

Editor's notes

  1. image by unknown author
  2. Universal Faith in the Spirit-World by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 20, July 22, 1875, pp. 232-3