Chapter XIV: A Word of Caution and Hope
Having summarized—far more briefly than I could have wished, or the importance of the subject demands—the new interpretation of the heaven and the earth as placed before me by Omra, I am not sufficiently unreasonable as to ask for its immediate acceptance as true on the authority of my own unsupported declaration. No person, whether he is in the body or out of the body, has the right to make such a demand, and far be it from me to raise even the suspicion of such a course. I am simply recording that which has been revealed, made known to, and fully approved by myself. In the light it has afforded, I have been able to solve many problems, have broken the seals of hitherto inscrutable mysteries, have been able to test the value of many insistent authorities, freed myself from the burden of weighty superstitions; and have gained a nobler and more consistent idea and conception of God. In the days of my incarnation I claimed the right to exercise my free-will—I might use it, or misuse it, as I neglected or determined, always subject to the just penalty I incurred by my action. You have a right to the same freedom I claimed, and I would be the last to restrict it. In the ultimate “God will have all men to be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth.” The question for every man to consider is—What are the best means of reaching the goal in the shortest time and under the most favourable conditions? There is very little, if any, dispute as to the essential qualification for success; all the difficulty arises when we come to interpret the rules by which the qualification is to be secured. The Guide-Book (scriptures) we have at our own disposal for help and direction tells us that these rules are so plainly and simply set forth therein that “the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.” Would you ask me where these rules are set forth? The great Shepherd, who declared Himself to be the Way, condensed them into a simple, unequivocal sentence: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matt. vii, 12). A life so lived is anointed by the Holy Spirit—the Christ-life—and cannot come near death. But to be so it must be consistently lived, not merely accepted as a form of belief. Habit of life produces character when the cloak of the flesh is thrown off, character manifests itself as a clothing for the soul in gradations of colour ranging from white to deepest crimson, and every shade of colour must occupy its legitimate station. “Order is heaven’s first law.” You can find no filthy rags of unrighteousness among the white-robed throng before the throne.
Again I wish to remind you, that, though I am speaking to you from where faith has been changed into sight, I am not insisting on your accepting my word if it does not commend itself to you; but I have suggested, and I again repeat my advice to think, ponder, meditate on these things, and “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind,” as to whether I am speaking the words of soberness and truth or not, and then let him act accordingly. For—and in what I am now about to say I am not speaking lightly, nor in ignorance of the awful consequences of the result, but boldly and lovingly declaring the truth as it has been revealed to me, and as I have spoken—if in the issue you do discover that you have made a mistake in not accepting the advice I am offering, you will find the error is not irremediable.
You must reap what you have sown, must go to the identical place for which you have prepared yourself, must pay to the utmost farthing the penalty you have incurred, and you will be compelled to endure whatever treatment is necessary to take out every stain and taint you have contracted; but wherever you may find yourself located you will, as I have already pointed out, always find efficient and sympathetic ministers of God to help and direct you, whenever you, having discharged your liability, turn your thoughts and desires homeward. And though you fall to the lowest depths—horrible thought, from which may you be preserved—remember that the “man after God’s own heart” has declared: “if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou [God] art there.” God, who has promised: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hos. xiii, 14); and this because His love is everlasting, and He “will have all men to be saved.”
Once again I invite you to ask yourself the question whether such an evangel as I set forth does not make an appeal to your affections and consideration that prompts the soul to, respond with “I will arise and go to my Father,” and thus avoid the inevitable results of disobedience?
But I also want you to think for a moment of the soul that wakes up too late to escape the penalty; or the one that find itself the victim of blind leaders of the blind—the soul that opens its eyes to discover that the promises and assurances of the professional priest are worse than valueless in the customs house of the hereafter. The victim of a confidence trick may not be responsible for the robbery that has taken place, but he has to suffer for his neglect to take precautions against falling into the trap that brought about his downfall. It is sad indeed to watch the bewildered victim as the stroke of disillusionment falls upon the unprotected shoulders, and the conscience is smitten with remorse as it is reminded by a tenderly sympathetic voice, lamenting: “How often would I … but ye would not.” Yet out of the wreckage there comes a salvage gleam of hope. All is not lost. The dictum of the hireling was equally false in both directions. If he had no authority to promise a crown upon false terms, neither had he the right to affirm an eternity of punishment.
Presently—no matter to what depth the weight of personal responsibility has sunk the soul—it will come to itself and review the condition in which its culpable conduct has justly placed it. At such a crisis it will not find itself alone. Near at hand will be found one of the authorized angels of God to whom charge has been given to render such assistance as I received at the hands of Myhanene’s band, which you have been able to follow, and to whose instructions I have afforded you an insight. After having profited by such a divine ministry, I never see or hear of such an one as I was, but I yearn to find him, that I may speak to him of what I have experienced.
Poor pilgrim brother, like the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, you have indeed fallen into the hands of adventurers by the way. But you are in the hands of true friends at length. Hear them, commune with them, go with them, for, in the spirit of the dear Master, they will cause your heart to burn within you by the way. Oh, how I would love to whisper in your ears something of the consolations I have received from such a ministry from the time when first the suspicion of what had occurred begun to suggest itself as I lay bewildered on the slopes at the time when Helen found me! Omra has said that the Court of the Voices will fascinate me through the whole course of the ages. It may be so—the spell it weaves is only beginning at present to envelop me in its wondrous charm, and, it may well be, that I am not competent to form an opinion as to the attraction it will have in the ages to come—but, at present, I cannot conceive of heaven producing a fuller, sweeter, holier, or more soul-soothing chord of music, than the simple declaration Helen made in answer to the doubt as to whether acts of love and sympathy were, in themselves, of any value here.
“Why, ‘God is love,’” she answered me. “That which is born of love is born of God. That is all we know about Him.”
I did not catch the fullness of the music of it at the time—my ears were too full of the sounds of the shock that had thrown me over the border, to hear anything but words. I have been able since then to catch and listen to the theme, also to sound something of the depth of that evangel, and I tell you that you need not despair, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow,” even though you are compelled to make your first bed in the lowest hell; because He who “will have all men to be saved” is able to carry out His purpose to the uttermost. whether that uttermost be of distance, time or depravity.
We may not know the way by which your salvation will be accomplished, but the Architect who designed the house is Himself conversant with every means of communication, and should it at last be found that He has failed to bring only one soul to its appointed goal, in that one failure His almightiness would fall short of perfection. Therefore be of good courage. You have heard the call: “Come unto me!” Your sins may have delayed your answer to that call, but you will not be forsaken—you will not be left to find your way alone. In whatever darkness and uncertainty you may meet with you will have the assistance and support of an authorized guiding hand. You will come through many vicissitudes, it may be, but rest assured that in the end your feet will cross the Paternal threshold, and your final rest will be in your Father’s home.
Such is the prospect which lies before my eyes. You, who are still in the valley, may not be able to see it, but take courage—climb the upward, onward path, which lies at your feet, listen to the whispers of hope that fall like echoes from the hilltops, ask yourself where all those are going who are toiling up the ascent, and following in their footsteps you will soon see, as I am seeing now, and hear the music that I am hearing—the heavenly chorale which Helen sang to me when I was standing where you are standing now, but which I failed to appreciate then as you are failing to understand the evangel I am commissioned to proclaim to you.
But let me breathe one word of caution against a danger it is possible, but not probable, for you even at this time to fall into. Do not attempt to form any estimate of how long it will be before you reach the goal you were promised to reach just through the veil of death. Behind you lies the Yesterday of the flesh, but now you stand in the eternal To-day, to which there is no To-morrow. Time has ceased to be. And God, who is perfect in all Its works and ways, will now perfect that which concerns yourself. Into His heaven there can nothing enter that defileth, and before you cross its threshold you must be without spot or wrinkle. As I think of it I recall those lines of Eilele:
Oh! ’tis not as men would teach us—
Just one step from earth to God;
Passing through the death-vale to Him,
In the garb that earth we trod;
Called to praise Him while aweary.
Or to sing, while yet the voice
With love’s farewell sob is broken,
Could we, fitly, thus rejoice?
No! We must wait until the last trace of an earth stain is removed, till the final indication of the weight that did so easily beset us is lost, and the soul becomes so buoyant with the indwelling of the spirit as to be able to tread with a firm assurance the gossamer fabric that spans the gulf, and with the step of a conquering hero enter upon its reward.
For by far the greater majority of pilgrims the path leading to such a consummation lies through the valley of Hinnom rather than over the brow of Olivet. But fear not—“If thou seek [God] with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” thou shalt find Him, though He be compelled to bring thee through a Babylonian furnace, and not so much as a smell of burning shall be found upon thee, when the deliverance is accomplished.
Do you, from the earth plane, ask me: “Why must this be so, if God will have all men to be saved?” I reply: “Because God hath decreed that every soul that hears and responds to the invitation, ‘Come unto me,’ shall enter into the kingdom through the ‘strait gate’ which is always at hand, leading into a highway—‘The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it’ (Isa. xxxv, 8), and it leads, without the shadow of a turning, direct from the spot where the wanderer is found, to the long-lost home. If the valley of Hinnom lies in that direct line, it is the Sin, not God, who is to be blamed. But the wayfaring soul need not be afraid of the vicissitudes by the way for he shall hear a still small voice of love and encouragement behind him saying: ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee … when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isa. xliii, 2).
Still, though the ultimate victory is assured, it is not yet attained, and, particularly in the early stages of the soul’s redemptive career, there are dangers to be encountered which I am anxious not to pass by unnoticed. There are lions in the path, as Bunyan saw in his famous allegory, and it was never more necessary than now for some Porter to be on the watch to assure pilgrims not only that the lions are chained, but also to explain and advise as to other devices and obstacles which have been placed in the path to turn others aside.
Just here I can fancy that I hear a voice from one—it may be more—of my nervous readers who are watching and rightly so—for any sign of heresy, or mayhap the cloven hoof, in my teaching, asking me if I have forgotten that I am supposed to be speaking from beyond the river, and whether I am not somewhat mixed in my allusions?
I thank you a thousand times for the reminder, dear friend, and pray you to go on occupying the watch-tower, and shouting whenever you discover any sign of danger. We are all safe, so far, however. In the use of your dogmatic field-glasses you are resting your eyes on the foaming, turbulent Jordan over which
. . . timorous mortals start and shrink
but I, in further explorations, have found the place where the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan” (Jos. iii, 17), and having learned, in the home beyond the dried-up river, what Christ fully meant when He declared life to be “everlasting,” therefore indivisible, it is all one whether the dangers and difficulties arise a little earlier or later—they do occur, and have to be surmounted.
The rediscovery of this dry-shod passage—for it has existed from the beginning—and the re-establishment of communion, which is now as conclusively demonstrated as any natural facts of existence, entails upon every individual who ventures to profit by the advantages it offers, very serious responsibilities. The establishment of any relationship always demands circumspection, and satisfactory guarantee against mistakes, even in the commonplace connections of a commercial life. Where the relationship contemplated is that of a closer and more enduring kind, a correspondingly more severe scrutiny is demanded. But where we are establishing an intercourse with an outlook ranging over the eternities, how necessary it is that we only enter into relationship with those whose credentials are unimpeachable, authoritatively established, and being well-tried are presently proved to be in every way efficient and trustworthy.
It is in relation to placing yourselves in the hands of unknown and voluntary guides and counsellors to instruct you in connection with this latter and most important aspect of life that I wish to offer another word of caution.
Please let me be understood at once. I have no axe to grind, and with all the reverence I am capable of, I say; God forbid that I should attempt to disparage the meanest effort that has been put forth by the least of God’s little ones to bring the truth of a continued existence home to the mind of the most unworthy mortal, whatever form, or however apparently ridiculous that effort might take in its demonstration. The Lord of hosts—if the incident is faithfully recorded—has been known to make use of the vocal apparatus of an ass, and in His omnipotence has magnified His revelation thereby quite as gloriously as when He elected to break the bondage of Israel by the intervention of a destroying angel. Therefore, that which God has chosen to employ, I have no right or wish to traduce. At the same time—and this is the position I wish to take – because God may have used Balaam’s ass upon a most extraordinary occasion, it would be foolishness to argue that the braying of every ass is to be accepted as the voice of God. The master-key of Sin is a travesty of Truth. For this reason, it behoves every man to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John iv, 1), and this is why I wish to offer this word of caution and explanation.
Sympathetic attraction is the most potent influence in life, whether that attraction be towards good or evil, and it is probably more dominant in the region of the soul than in that of the flesh. Prayer is the wrestling yearning of the life for the object of its desire, whether that desire be pure or vicious. A request may be clothed in the mask of a verbal formula, but the soul will instinctively shrink from appropriating an uncongenial favour. Therefore “everyone that asketh [in accordance with this law] receiveth.”
Christ lays this down clearly: “If”—mark this emphatic qualification for success—“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John xv, 7). On the other hand: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John v, 6).
Now, prayer—or yearning desire—is the wireless installation by which the call to communion is first made, between the incarnate and discarnate estates of the soul, and every heart, which is the instrument of despatch—as a man “thinketh in his heart so is he” (Prov. xxiii, 7)—is sympathetically connected with one or the other of the only two existent exchanges which exist—either the God-appointed centre (whether you call it Christ or by any other name), or that of the enemy. You cannot hold the two connections.
When, therefore, one determines to make an effort to establish a connection for communication with the discarnate, the all-important prelude is for a man to examine himself and come to a clear understanding as to the quality of soul that will respond to his call for intercourse.
Be not deceived. It is a vital necessity, if you wish to come to a knowledge of the truth, that a man should rather undervalue himself in this estimate than otherwise, for righteousness cannot meet on equal terms with unrighteousness; light will not hold communion with darkness; Christ hath no concord with Belial. The law controlling this lack of attraction the one to the other is just as certain in its operation as that which warns against playing with matches in the presence of gunpowder.