Talks By The Way (part I)

T. Good-morrow, friends, What happy circumstance
Has brought about this wonderful surprise,
That I should light upon you in this land,
So desolated and despoiled by war,
Its pristine beauties scarce are traceable?
It seems an age since last these eyes of mine
Had one good look into your friendly face,
Tho’ now to meet you, where the power and pride
Of savage vandals have such havoc wrought,
Unhappily diminishes the joy
Of this occasion good, and what is left
With melancholy mingles; yet am I
Right glad to give you greeting. Which of us
Would for a single moment have supposed
When last we met, that when we would again
Look one another in the face, a scene
Like this would temper with its woes the joy
That springs from clasping on a foreign soil
The hand of one well-known and well-beloved?
But here we find ourselves, and face to face
With the effects of that which with its huge
And wildering horrors, has a prosperous land
Ravaged and ruined, blasted, battered, bruised;
And with its fierce infernal frightfulness,
And infamies too horrible to name,
Has left a world with horror stupified.
Here traceable is the acursed track
Of barbarous brutalities, here death
Met suckling and the patriarch that leaned
Hard on his staff; here amid multitudes
Of overwhelming woes aghast we stand,
And contemplate the fearful havoc wrought
By fell inventions, to one end applied—
Destruction of both life and property.
Here, and for leagues beyond the bound of sight,
Red ruin shrieks of murder pitiless,
Let loose with fire and sword upon the world,
Here was an Eden, where the fruitful field
Met the glad footsteps of the husbandman
With overflowing basket, of the best
That cultivated nature could bestow;
And here, with kindness prodigal, the trees
With luscious fruits their laden arms provoked
The drouth of those who sneltered in the sun.
And now what meets the eye? Those ruined heaps
Of wood and stone and lime, where you may see
Dejected creatures searching nervously
For souvenirs of vanished happier days,
Are what remains of villages and homes,
In which a well-contented people dwelt;
And from the midst of which at early morn
And eventide arose the gladsome song,
The merry laugh, the music of a joy,
Thro’ which not e’en the peevish pessimist
Expected one discordant note to strike;
And now amazed, and almost terrified,
We view the desolation, that with tongue
Of woeful eloquence and noiseless force,
Bruits the unpardonable wickedness
Of ruthless miscreant, whose venomed will
Heaped for the basest ends those cruel woes
Upon the inoffensive heads of men,
Gainst whom no other accusation could
Be laid, than that they wished to live at peace
With every member of the human race.
C. No words can give expression to the grief,
The helpless grief, that one is made to feel,
When called to contemplate the ravages
Of fighting forces, loosed from the restraint
Of their commanders, confident that they
Have no account to render for their deeds
Of cruelty, when perpetrated on
Weak, helpless, and unweaponed citizens
Of the invaded death-devoted land.
Around us everything with dumb despair
Bears witness of the diabolic march
Of legions powerful and pitiless.
And yet I question seriously your right
To lay the guilt of this dread razzia—
The dire effects of which we sadly are
Compelled to witness, and to scathingly
Condemn—on one crowned head, as oft is done.
Tho’ surely those who have the ruling power
Must most of all be held responsible
For the excesses executed by
Those under their control, especially
Their fighting forces, for the populace
Cannot their ruthless cruelties resist.
Still if we would dig deep into the root
Of all this woe, we must take serious
Account of yet a higher Autocrat
Than him who seemed to be the ruling force,
And leading spirit of the Central Powers.
If never further than the Emperor
Our diligent investigation goes,
Never shall we have recognised the root,
The seed, the secret of the dread distress
Thus fallen on the world.
T. Who, then, I ask
Should in your judgment bear the bitter blame
Of all the ills that have befallen us?
C. Myself, the first transgressor, after that
You and the rest of men on whom the name
Of Christ has solemnly been called, and who
Have got the Holy Scriptures in their hands,
His priceless and too much forgotten gift,
And revelation of His thoughts divine.
We, and we only, most responsible,
Because most privileged of all mankind,
Must bear the blame of all the miseries
That have been heaped upon this erring world
By this most sanguinary razzia.
Is it not so that nations Christian called
Are almost all that did participate
In this unholy struggle? And of those
Not actively engaged upon the field,
Is there a single one of them that has
Not somehow suffered from its dire effects?
Was it a pleasure to the living God
To see His creatures in their madness dash
At one another’s throats, and like wild beasts
Mangle and murder mercilessly those
With whom they had no personal dispute?
And could He not have ordered that the war
Should never be? or having been declared,
Should have been settled ere a single man
Had fallen on the field? I grieve to see
One of whose faith I once had better hopes,
Leave out the living God, as tho’ He had
Nothing to do with the affairs of men.
Is He in your esteem of no account—
In His creation a nonentity—
A cypher in this world of wilful men?
Has He no business to interfere
In mundane matters? Has He naught to say,
(That is, if you imagine He exists)
Regarding the behaviour of a race
That wallows in corruption like the beast,
Or lower than the beast, and who has filled
This whole wide world with vice and violence?
Is He the only one to be left out
In our examination of the cause
Of the afflictions that upon us fall,
Leaving hearts desolate and minds distraught?
Must we in our analysis of things,
Limit ourselves to the activities
And machinations of misguided men
And say, If such an one had not done this,
Or such another had not moved in that,
Such and such things would not have taken place;
And thus leave out of sight, in our blind quest,
The righteous Ruler of the universe,
Who takes the most minute account of all
The griefs unnumbered that oppress the soul?
If men exalted to the height of heaven
With privileges of the highest kind,
Upon them lavished with most liberal hand,
Make of those privileges little gain,
Or none whatever, but to fables turn—
Food only for the soul adrift from God,
And for the voice of conscience silencers—
Thus setting at defiance God, and Him
Who gave Himself to die the cursed death,
That unto all He might a Saviour be,
And adding to their heavy load of guilt
By speaking evilly of that great work
By which alone salvation could be won,
Then let them never think the righteous God
Will intervene on their behalf, to save
Them in the hour of their calamity,
From him who can with craft and subtlety
Clothe his intention fell with what appears
A panacea for the cure of souls.
If this His castigation stern and sore
Of all the nations that are Christian called
Lead not to true repentance, and return
To Him who this rebuke so grave has given,
He may be forced to say, as once He said
Of Ephraim: “He is to idols joined;
Let him alone.” He may not speak again
With warning merciful, but let the world
Drift onward in its mad and wilful way,
Until in its presumption, pomp, and pride,
It flings its forces in insane revolt
Against the throne of the Omnipotent,
To be in pieces dashed, as the proud waves
That foaming in their foray furious,
Are broken by the rock unshakeable.
T. Whatever purpose may have been in view
In bringing to our doors this world-wide war,
Not at this moment am I well prepared
To speak with confidence; but this one fact
Is everywhere apparent, that the chief
Effect of so great sacrifice of life,
Has been to interest the minds of men
In the existence of a future life,
That long has mantled been with mystery:
A life that does for worse or better hang
On what behaviour may have been on earth;
Whether with diligence we disciplined
Ourselves with scrupulous and ceaseless care,
On moral and on spiritual lines,
In order to our elevation, when
We have passed over to the other side.
Out from the past dark years this precious light
Has moved with marvellous and mighty power;
And by its brilliant beams have sorrowing souls
From the encircling gloom been gently drawn,
Hearts well-nigh broken have been cheered and healed;
Sorrows have been assuaged, and tears have been,
From eyes made blind with weeping, wiped away.
C. Regarding Spiritism, of which you speak,
In it is nothing new. From early days
It has been practised; and in places dark
Veiled from God’s Revelation, where are served
Spirits infernal, it is practised still,
And in much greater power than appears
In your seances; such physicists would but laugh
At your apology for spiritism.
But with regard to life beyond the grave,
Where in our consciousness can room be found
For the dark shadow of a single doubt?
When our allotted span upon this earth
Has to an end been brought; and be it long
Or short—short at its longest—well we know
By the innate conviction in the soul,
That death is but the breaking of the bonds
That bind us to the present course of things,
And not the utter end of everything.
Along with this an impress permanent
Seems to be made upon the souls of all
Of yet a day of reckoning, when things
Never on earth adjusted, shall be dragged
Into the light, and there be manifest,
Bereft of all their varnish and veneer;
When a most sure reward of praise sincere,
Or blame with punishment, shall be bestowed
In certain and unerring righteousness.
Upon the souls of men this impress may
Be less or more distinct, the after life
Take various forms in various peoples, still
The fact itself remains, that in the soul
Of man is planted the conviction firm,
That death, whatever it may do, does not
Bring to an end the vital principle,
But is the simple instrument by which
The transfer to another sphere is made.
But when we come to God’s eternal truth,
The revelation He has made to men,
We have this principle confirmed, and put
Before our minds in verity and power,
And thus are we delivered from the vain
Vagaries of the unfettered mind,
That not the truth believes, unless it be
A state of matters sanctioned by itself.
The very earliest records of the Word
That God has given in His unfathomed grace
To us for our enlightenment and life,
Make known to us in most convincing power
That those from whom we part and mourn as dead,
Whose flesh and bones are mingled with the dust,
Still live in life beyond the power of death,
For He declares Himself to be the God
Of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
The God of Jacob. He is not the God
Of dead but living, for all live to Him.
Men when they die die from their fellow-men;
Dust unto dust returns, and they are lost
To us for ever, as in flesh and blood:
To us they are as tho’ they had not been.
Their memory alone remains to dim our eyes
As we bemoan the irreparable loss.
But only unto us are they extinct,
For in their spirits all yet live to God.
Hence every one of us must recognise
That from His presence there is no escape,
And with the ancient seer confess: “If I
Should make my bed in sheol, THOU ART THERE.”
This solemn truth throughout the Word of God,
From alpha unto omega, doth run,
And by it resurrection is evinced.
T. No one will question that the Bible speaks
Most definitely of a future life;
But from the Book most people turn away,
Because so many of its dogmas war
Against all sense of justice. Is it not
A fact that the majority of men
Refuse most stubbornly to be enticed
To spend one hour in every seven days
Within a church, to worship, or to hear
A sermon by an erudite divine?
C. True, a political oration, or
A kinematograph performance, has
Much more attraction for the multitude
Than has the service of the living God.
But this is what the prophets have foretold,
And therefore have the people of the Lord
Been well prepared for what has come to pass.
Plain was a warning word on record placed,
While yet the Lord’s apostles walked the earth.
Early in this the day of heavenly grace
The danger signal to the breeze was given,
And plain before our vision was portrayed
The nature of the day, in which is cast
Your lot and mine, and there am I apprised,
That in the last days of this time of grace
Those in the midst of that which bears the name—
The holy name of Christ—would give their minds
Unto seducing spirits, being taught
Doctrine of demons, and would lovers be
Of pleasure, being without love to God.
What cares the mass of people now for Him,
Or for the Gospel of His saving grace?
The mad tub-thumping orator, who stands
In open spaces, or in public parks,
To rant and rave about the rights of men,
Is able huge attention to command,
And thunders of applause to influence;
While he who seeks to call the madding crowd
To give attention to the rights of God,
Has few to hearken to his wholesome words.
The crime of this lies crouching at the door
Of those who influence the vicious trend
Of modern thought. The theologic chairs,
For training those who hope to give themselves
To minister to men the Word of grace,
Are largely occupied by men who care
No more for Gospel verities than for
The vagaries of Islam. Is it then
A wonder that the pulpits have got filled
With semi-infidels, and infidels
Fully developed? Had these men that sit
In seats of learning been the servants true
Of Him who spoke as spoke no other man,
They had the Word which they have travestied,
With solemn earnestness and power impressed
Upon the minds and hearts of those who came
To be instructed in the living truth;
And stead of pulpits being occupied
By men who for the truth have no regard,
Men filled with God’s good Spirit, and with love
For human souls, and for the risen Christ,
Might have from every rostrum in the land
Been heralding the saving grace of God;
And not alone would churches have been filled,
But they would not have had capacity
For all the multitudes of pious men
Who would have eagerly admission sought.
Alas, that we can only speak of this
As but a splendid might have been, and not
A great and glorious reality!
Too many of the hierarchs themselves
Have never tasted of the grace of God,
And therefore cannot truly set it forth
To those who look to them for light and help.
They know the world, its pleasures, politics,
The drivellings of the evolutionists,
The higher Critics’ bumptious bellowings,
The pagan ritual of Anglicans,
The clamour for admission into Rome,
The swagger of conceited Modernists,
And every other mad invention found
Within the boundary of Christendom.
In this strange school of speculation vain
They live, and move, and reason, rant and rave,
Of things unseen and by themselves unknown,
But still more oft of things terrestrial,
And better by those worldlings understood.
And thus the consciences of men are left
Without the light that would have been their guide
To rest and peace, that only can be found
In the pure atmosphere of God’s great love,
T. Whatever reasons you may offer for
The absence of the people from their place,
When tolling bells to sacred service call,
You should, I fancy, honestly confess
Your Christianity has sadly failed
To interest the masses, or to gain
The approbation of impartial men.
C. The masses never yet have been, nor are,
The main despisers, or antagonists
Of things relating to the grace of God,
And to the Gospel of that heavenly grace,
However little they may seriously
Into consideration take the fact
Of their own personal and private need
Of that which is proclaimed. As in the days
When Christ was here exponent of that grace,
The common people heard Him gladly, but
Were hindered by the hierarchy, so
In these days, as in those, the hierarchs
Who dabble in the false philosophy
Of sceptical and atheistic minds,
And babble in the pulpit and the press,
Concerning things of which they nothing know,
And speak of erring men as God-inspired,
And tell their hearers that in every cult
Under the shining sun the truth is found,
Have had one sad effect from all their work,
And that is, that the crowds that used to come
To hear the Word of God belief have lost
In everything that to religion has
The slightest reference.
Had they been true
And faithful to the trust in them reposed
By Him whom they were sworn to serve in truth;
And had they faithfully the Word declared
To those who were disposed to hear their words,
Instead of tearing into tatters that
Which they had undertaken to set forth,
Many had heard, and had through grace believed.
But turning to a wretched ritual
With plain avowal of their unbelief
In that which men had come to church to hear,
And leading lives of open worldliness,
They have become to all who to them turn
For rest of heart a disappointment huge.
Clouds they appear, with promise fair of rain,
To make the dry and thirsty earth rejoice,
But from which no refreshing dews descend;
Guides by profession, but instead of guides,
They are themselves outvoiced and set aside,
And borne about by the uncertain winds
Of movements popular; trees without fruit,
By nature dead, and by apostasy;
Waves raging in a sea of lawlessness,
And foaming out in unbecoming boast
The things of which they should be most ashamed;
And yet by titles and habiliments
Professing sanctity, to which no men,
Except themselves have got the slightest claim,
That is, if we accept them at the price
They without blushing put upon themselves.
These are the men that into disrepute
Have brought the Gospel of the grace of God:
Tho’ surely none of us can take the ground
Of being absolutely free from blame.
T. It seems to me, that if all this be so,
The Gospel must give place to something else,
For it is useless to convert the world.
C. It never was intended to do that.
T. This certainly is news to me. Can you
Inform me, then, what is its mission here?
C. To call a people out of it to Christ.
T. But those who make profession of His name,
And those who set themselves apart to teach,
If I your verdict honestly receive,
Are nothing better than the Pagan world.
C. Little, if anything, I must confess.
But merely to profess His sacred name
Will save no human being. Men must have
Another life and nature, different
From that derived from Adam’s fallen stock.
And this can only be by living faith
In Him who died for us, and rose again.
T. The revelation that you glory in
Is to my mind a manifest mishmash
Of wisdom and of folly. No one could
This gallimaufry disentangle, or
Extract the precious from the vile, unless
Possessed of more than ordinary powers.
I cannot antevert the notion, that
The level-headed man whom I have known—
Yourself among the number—who have found,
Or fancy they have found, within that Book
Wisdom immortal and eternal life,
Must have done ferine violence
To reason, with which most of mortal men
Have been endowed, and that in this one case,
Not only stifled in their souls its voice,
But rudely thrown it on the rubbish heap,
As an encumbrance and impediment
To their blind faith. Infatuation such
As you exhibit, who have cleverness
Beyond the ordinary measure given
To men, I can no other way explain.
Just think of all the cursed cruelties
Commanded, ay, commended, eulogised,
By that blood-thirsty tribal God, the God
Of those imaginary patriarchs
And their descendants, ay, and carried out
By them, with all the venom of the time,
And by that autocratic murderer
King David, after God’s own heart the man.
Read of his horrible and hellish deeds,
Hear his denunciation of his foes,
His cry for their extinction, his appeal
For their humiliation, their complete
Extermination, woman, man, and child!
Foh! But to read it makes my very blood
Boil in my veins.
C. This choloric display
Of will unbridled, blasphemous and fell,
Plainly proceeds from a proud mind, made blind
By influence satanic. Why should you
Cry out against such imprecations made
To Him who has the power of life and death,
And who is of His whole creation, Lord.
It seems to me He is the only One
To whom to make appeal in the dark hour
Of our extremity, especially
If we are soldiers fighting in His wars.
Surprised am I, and greatly grieved to hear
You thus express yourself, you who have been
Thro’ the late wasteful war, and have beheld
Upon the bloody field of battle dour,
The dreadful engines of destruction used
To waste, to wound, to bruise, to blind, to maim,
To blow to atoms men impressed to fight;
While both sides grieved that they could do no more,
To mangle or annihilate their foes.
And possibly had you the cleverness
Possessed, of bringing into evidence
An instrument of death more terrible
Than any yet by cunning mind contrived,
You would, without the slightest reticence,
Have put in operation all your craft
To perfect such a weapon, and to bring
It into action with the least delay.
And yet in impious horror you lift up
Your voice against the prayer of righteous men,
Who plead the intervention of their God,
To save them from destruction by their foes.
I cannot think you really expect
That I suppose your cavilling sincere.
Hidden it surely cannot be from you
Certes it is from not another hid—
That the dark fount, from which arises all
This feverish eagerness to find a flaw
Within the sacred Word, is the innate
Hostility to all that is of God.
That little tract of land, that lies between
Euphrates and the shore of the Great Sea,
Was unto Abraham by promise given,
And to his seed, as an inheritance,
Made theirs for ever by the oath of God.
This land the sons of Jacob had command
To take, to occupy, and to retain,
In spite of all the forces that withstood
His purpose, who has every right to give
The earth to whomsoever He may please.
This opposition to His will divine
Shall once again assert itself, and men
Shall seek to utterly annihilate
That ancient, hated, persecuted race.
And truly were not God their help and shield
Not one of them, when that dread day shall dawn
Would to possess the land alive be left.
Our Lord has said that if those days of woe
Were not cut short there would no flesh be saved.
It is to this great sorrow yet to come,
That those expressions that so worry you
Have application. Any one can see
Without much study of the sacred page,
That where those fervent invocations find
Their Spirit-given and well ordered place,
The circumstances of the people as
Therein depicted never did exist
During the reign of Jesse’s son, but some
Less grave events were by the Spirit used
To set before us in prophetic power
A time of tribulation, never yet
Experienced by this world; and after which
Nothing to equal it shall be again.
To this sad hour our thoughts are forward led,
And to the true resources of the saints
When in that fearful hour they find themselves.
T. The eternal right of Him who made the worlds
I question not, but this I question much,
Insistence such as yours, that Scripture is
The revelation of His mind divine,
And, as originally given to men,
Faultless from the beginning to the end;
This, for the reasons I have plainly given,
In spite of your most vincible defence,
Not for one instant could my mind accept.
C. But is not God in His own universe
To have His own and undisputed way?
And may He not reprove, rebuke, chastise,
Remove from this world altogether those
No longer here required? and may He not
Take them away by whatsoever means,
And at whatever age, or in what time,
He may in wisdom infinite elect?
He does it anyhow, not taking you
Or your humane and tender-heartedness
Into account; and I can boldly say,
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
You seem to think He had a mighty hand
In bringing this late cruel war to pass;
And venture to suggest that by its means
He sought to turn our base and barren thoughts
Toward the truth of yet another life;
Leading us as disciples to sit down
At the dim gateway of the spirit world,
And hearken to the voice that comes from thence,
Not knowing who may be the oracle.
That the eternal God has got His own
And perfect way in which He speaks to men,
And shall, in spite of all His critics, speak,
Cannot be rightly called in question, tho
He speak by cruelty of despot, dead
To all compassion; or by servant true
And loyal to the God that gave him life,
And armed him with a sword, to execute
In this rebellious world His sovran will;
Or by the elements of nature, which
Only by His permission operate,
And which have no perverse and evil will
To manifest compassion, when the hour
For showing clemency has passed away;
Or judgment merciless to execute,
When but compassion fills the Maker’s heart.
But let us now for one brief moment give
Attention unto things inanimate,
And over which God has complete control.
Who sends the fireball from the thunder-could?
The lightning forked to paralyse and kill?
The tidal wave that whelms a Galveston?
The terrible tornado that with mad
Demonian laughter leaves upon its track,
Death, desolation, ruin, wretchedness?
By whose dread fiat does the pestilence
Creep thro’ the darkness, blasting old and young?
And by whose leave are born into this world,
The blind, the deaf, the crippled, the insane?
T. These are unfathomable mysteries.
C. But mysteries, or not, they do exist.
And He who made this marvellous universe,
And by whose power the fabric is upheld,
Cannot but have most absolute control
Of every, atom, as of every life
That He has made; nor can they live, or move,
Or anything accomplish, great or small,
Apart from His permission. May I ask,
This being so, what moral difference
Can one discover, should He use the sea
To whelm a city large and populous?
Or send down fire from heaven? or call a host
Of barbarous and brutal, weaponed men?
Or cloud-burst big to desolate a land?
If cruel to despatch, or to allow,
A ruthless razzia a land to waste,
It cannot be less cruel to despatch
A deadly microbe armed with power to kill.
T. The great Designer of the universe
Cannot be saddled with the deeds of men.
C. I have not said He could. But your reply
Shows you have lost the subject on debate.
For your contention is, that the true God
Is not the God of the Old Testament,
Because of all the wars unmerciful
Made by the Jews at His command;
And also on account of imprecations harsh,
Addressed to God by men inspired by Him
To offer prayer to Him agreeable,
Against the foes who rose to do them hurt.
And I have sought to show you that the God
Who could a microbe or a cyclone send,
Or could permission to the creature give
To bring Disease and death to hearth and home,
Might also to His servants give a charge
To wipe a nation out from under heaven.
As far as moral feelings are concerned,
And the importance of man’s little life,
He that could kill one man could millions kill.
No want of harmony exists between
The God who rules the world and David’s God.
T. It cuts across the current of my thought
To hear of God our Maker who is good,
And Author and preserver of all life,
As leading us on any other line
Than that of friendly intercourse with all.
And surely we responsible must be,
As far as in us lies, to live at peace
With all our fellow-creatures. If we fail
And lives of raven lead, so that we be
A pest and peril to society,
A sure reward of punishment must be
Found to await us in the sphere beyond,
Since for our deeds we are accountable.
C. But are you not an evolutionist?
T. Most surely and confessedly I am.
C. And is an ape accountable to God
For its misdeeds?
T. I do not say it is.
C. How then can you, who are, as you affirm,
The offspring of the ape, be made to give
Account for your misdeeds? If it be so,
That from accountability the sire
Is held immune, how can the son become
Accountable, who nature has and life
From that same father not accountable?
T. The son has more intelligence.
C. But then
The ape is still more clever than the pig,
And if responsibility be gauged
According to the standard of intelligence
Possessed by man, or dog, or chimpanzee,
To what condition of intelligence
Must either of these various beasts arrive
Before it ranks as one that must beware
Lest in your purgatorial fires it finds
Its woeful portion after leaving earth?
You may be much more clever than an ape,
But of an ape the nature you have got,
However anthropoid you have become,
You cannot dodge responsibility,
Nor can your father ape from whom you sprung.
That is, if that which you affirm be true;
For ape derives from ape, and dog from dog.
For like begets like, sheep derive from sheep
A hog has got the nature of a hog,
For from a hog its nature is derived.
It neither brays nor neighs, but grunts, and in
They mire it wallows; it is neither ape
Nor ass, nor horse, nor cow; if it could speak
Its derivation it would not disown,
But frankly would confess—I am a Hog.
A man has got the nature of a man,
For let a man be large or small or stout
Or lean, or any other sort you like,
A man he surely is, and with the form
And nature of a man, and certainly
Will not be pleased if you will call him dog.
But you your hairy ancestor disown,
At least in practice, he is less to you
Than is your dog, tho, nearer as your kin.
You catch him, cage him, at his antics laugh,
And thus at his expense amuse yourself.
You will not have him as relation near,
Not as your cousin-german possibly,
Nor will you introduce him to your friends
As of your kindred by the ties of blood.
He is a beast of course, but so are you,
That is, if you’ve descended from the ape.
Better be honest and confess the fact
That you and he are of one family.
And near of kin.
T. Sir, this is lunacy.
C. A kind of lunacy that’s easy proved
To be a litte scrap of common sense.
That there is an affinity between
Man and the lowest creature no sane man
Who knows the Scriptures should have any doubt,
And this to every soul is manifest.
The purpose of the all-wise Maker was
That man should over all His works be set,
That is, the works which under heaven are.
The image and the respresentative
Of God invisible, and governor
O’er all the living creatures on the earth:
The flying fowl, the cattle of the field
And all the creatures that are in the sea.
And that he might be competent to fill
This honoured place all creatures under him
Were formed with an affinity to man;
For to be head and ruler this must be.
If he must govern he must understand
The nature of the creatures over which
He was to exercise despotic sway.
Therefore it needful was he should possess
A scruple of connaturality.
Now men behold the living chain that binds
The creatures of this fallen nether world,
And note the links that are from head to feet.
But stead of starting from the honoured head,
And tracing down the interesting links,
They at the feet begin and upward trace,
Or try to trace their witless way until
They reach the head, and in their blind
And utterly contemptible and vain
Conceit, they fancy they have found great things
And fathomed mysteries while yet remains
The greatest mystery of all unsolved,
The mystery of their misguided minds,
And alienation from the life of God.
True, Adam, latest of all creatures made;
In this immense creation, over which,
In his almighty Maker’s counsel wise,
He was to hold the reins of government,
He of necessity must be prepared,
Before he could assume the place of head.
But when was made the creatures that should be
Placed in subjection under him, then he
Was formed, and in the place supreme installed.
You seem to have a special preference
For placing the creation upside down,
And making of the world and its contents
A most phantastic topsyturvydom.
Depend upon it, sir, your wiser plan
Would be to take it in the perfect way
In which God made it, and in the divine
And perfect order in which all was set,
As traced in the unerring Word of truth.
T. It puzzles me how you make bold to speak
In such extravagant and boastful terms
Of records ancient, fact and fable mixed,
As God’s own Word, and as the Word of Truth.
We have no word directly from Himself.
The Testaments, let them be Old or New,
Are to us given only by report
Of men as liable to err as we.
The words and works of Christ are handed down
To us by certain men, who are supposed
To have accompanied His steps when here;
Most earnest men, I readily admit,
But most of them unlearned and ignorant.
C. But at what disadvantage are we placed,
By knowing that our Lord took up such men
To be His witnesses? Would you not own
That, where the question is of hearing words,
And seeing works accomplished, any one
However humble and illiterate,
Who was a witness of the words and deeds,
Would as to testimony rendered, be
As worthy of our trust and confidence,
As he who is for erudition famed?
Indeed I think I would give preference
To the unvarnished testimony given
By the uneducated, rather than
To that by the scholastic, who would be
Less likely to report in simple terms
The plain unvarnished data of the case.
That the apostles of the Lord were not
Of calibre most easily convinced,
Their almost stupid stubbornness, when faced
With facts that bore convincingly upon
Their Lord’s resurgence from among the dead,
Bears powerful witness. Incredulity
Is that which strikes us forcibly, and not
Their confidence or gullibility.
They tell us that they saw His works of power;
The dead were raised, the lepers cleansed, the sick
Restored to health, and those by demons grieved
And sore tormented were released, and that
By the strange might that companied His word.
And this went on before their wondering eyes
For more than three whole years. It was not once
Nor twice in darksome rooms; nor here and there
A hundred fakes and frauds, deceptions gross,
And lies cold-blooded, punctuated by
A casual and questionable sign
Of something answering from out the gloom;
But every day and in the light of heaven,
And every hour before the multitudes
That followed Him, cases uncountable
Sprang up upon His right hand and His left,
Proclaiming their deliverance from woes
That had made dark their previous history.
The sick in multitudes went home with songs
Of praise upon their lips to Israel’s God,
And bearing on their shoulders strong the beds
That long had borne their tossings, and had been
Drenched with their tears of spiritless despair.
Could these apostles, bookless tho’ they be,
For these long wondrous years been daily duped?
Is there a man insane enough to think,
When he has analysed the evidence,
That those eleven men were mesmerised,
Hoodwinked, bewitched, bedevilled, made to see
Things that had no existence; things that they,
Throughout Judea and to all the world,
Reported as the verities of God:
And when imprisoned, beaten, threatened, stoned,
The only truthful answer they could give
Was, that they never could do otherwise
Than speak the things that they had seen and heard.
The man that thinks—if such a man exist—
That these eleven men were dreaming fools,
Must have been either idiotic born,
Or filled with such infernal enmity
Against the Holy Saviour of the world,
That human evidence, however great
And overpowering he will treat with scorn
And in his wicked rage will madly grasp
The most outrageous vile absurdity,
Concocted by the enemy of souls
For his degraded, graceless appetite,
If it do give the flimsiest excuse
For unbelief of God’s most sacred word.
Were those eleven men deceivers all,
Bound in one horrible conspiracy,
To mystify and victimise the world?
For sure they were not victimised themselves.
I know your spirits, or your mediums,
For both are very much the same to me;
And you yourself are very well aware,
That very many of the latter lead
Degraded and disreputable lives
And that whenever they have failed to get
A message thro’, they do not hesitate
A barefaced falsehood to invent, which will
Serve for the time to satisfy their dupe.
T. This is infrequent, tho’ I must admit
Such things have taken place, but in the main
The mediums are of moral calibre.
C. I only speak of that which I have read
In books put forth by prophets of your own,
Who unto spiritism give support.
And what a contrast to your mediums
Are the apostles of the Christ of God!
Read but the writings of these holy men.
In what most simple language everything
Relating to the Master’s mighty works
Is the attention of the reader called!
With no parade of high-flown rhetoric,
With no great, swelling words, no flourishes,
With not a flash of bragadocio,
With no embellishment of adjectives,
With not the least excitability,
The marvellous doings of the Man divine,
That every hour before their vision passed,
Are tamely and most temperately told!
No flaming picture, gilding, garnishing,
Excessive colouring, verbosity,
Or phraseology high-sounding, no
Great glut of words, depict the thrilling scenes
That every moment must have brought to light
By beds of sickness, tortured, dying, dead.
What mind of man, not under God’s control,
Would have depicted such a wondrous life
In such a simple unpretentious way?
Their every word the heavenly hall-mark bears
Of truth unvarnished; every sentence comes
Forth from the bosom of eternal love,
And redolent with love’s sweet atmosphere.
The marvellous unfathomed verities
Relating to the ever-blessed Son,
Eternal and immortal—His descent
From Godhead form to that of bondsman—come
In human likeness—of the Virgin born—
Rejected from the outset—scorned, despised—
With malefactors on a gibbet hung—
Laid in a sepulchre—raised from the dead—
His patient grace with the most culpable
And unbelieving followers, who might have known
That He to whom death oft was made submit
Could not be held within its dark domain
A moment more than He considered good—
His exaltation to the Father’s throne,
Until the day when He shall come and claim
The throne that rightly is His own on earth—
All these eternal verities we find
Declared in words that leave no single doubt
That those who to our ears bring the report
Speak of the things that they have seen and heard.
Think of the moral spirit that pervades
Epistles, gospels, sermons, sermonettes.
Could these dark spirits you interrogate
Or those unwholesome mediums you employ,
Or you yourself, put forward anything
That could incorporated be within
The sacred text, and that would not appear
Like a foul blot upon a work of art?
No, sir, no human being sound in mind,
Who with a little carefulness has read
What the apostles have made known to us,
Imagines for one instant, that the men
Who thus were honoured by the risen Christ
Had been by Him befooled, so that they thought
The works beheld that never were performed,
Or secrets heard that never were divulged;
Nor can a single soul, not biased made
By stupid enmity opposed to God,
Conclude that the apostles of our Lord
Were all deceived, and every one of them
In turn deceiver of the human race.
The only honest verdict that can be
Recorded is, that thro’ these faithful men
We have God’s revelation of His mind.
Refuse the witness that those men have given,
But when you do, be honest and confess
No human testimony can we trust.
T. No one will wholly question the report
Of those devout and well-intentioned men,
For doubtless Christ was supernatural;
But in a mortal body He was here,
And in how far He from that body spoke,
Or called upon the spiritual power
That lay beyond it, one may still enquire;
For certainly, according to the source
From which He spoke, His word must be adjudged.
C. But how know you that the eternal Christ
Was in a mortal body here on earth?
T. I should have fancied that His cross and grave
Were all-sufficient to evince that fact.
C. The fact that He could die is not a proof
That He was subject to that dreaded foe.
The life of flesh and blood He took, that He
Might die our death, and death for us annul.
Had He Himself to death been liable,
His life for others He could not have given.
But that He from His human body spoke
At certain intervals, which you affirm,
I must confess I know not what you mean.
No human being from his body speaks.
He speaks by means of one small member, but
His understanding is the source from which
His thoughts arise, which into others ears
Are blazoned by the tongue. As Servant here
The Lord of glory spoke the living words
The Father gave Him, and no other words.
T. But you have not the tenets of your faith
Made so completely unassailable,
That when bombarded by an avalanche
Of incontestable and stubborn facts,
They may not be laid level with the ground,
And in their weakness utterly exposed.
C. The bulwark of divine and heavenly truth
Is unassailable. As I have said,
The twelve apostles could not be misled.
Too many years they were witnesses,
And far too numerous were all the words
That they had heard, and works that they had seen,
For them to be mistaken or deceived.
No worthless fakes and frauds gave them the power
To bear without a murmur sufferings
That they could have avoided, had they wished
To silent be, and speak not in His name.
How wondrously affecting is their warm
Expressions of thanksgiving unto God
That they were counted worthy for the name
Of Christ to suffer. Their unworldly lives,
Their lofty morals, heavenly hopes and joys,
Their one consuming passionate desire
To seal their testimony with their blood:
These virtues, baffling all description, show
The absolute impossibility
Of our associating with these men
The notion of deceit. The verdict just
Must out of hearts unperjured be, that they
Neither deceivers nor deceived could be.
And to a like conclusion must we come
Regarding those who wrote the ancient Script.
Besides, the statements of our Lord have well
Authenticated the prophetic Word.
From Genesis to Malachi the Book
Is Spirit-breathed, and every single pen
With nectar of eternal wisdom drips.
T. Then you believe these imprecations fell,
By which the prophets did Jehovah’s throne
So brutally bombard, for the despatch
To hell of all their enemies, were fit
To be presented at the throne of One
Who for His creatures may have some respect?
C. You do, at any rate.
T. I do!
C. Yes, you.
You have no need to be informed that prayer
Was offered frequently for the success
Of British arms and their confederates.
And if you did not much believe in prayer,
A slaughter of the fierce invading foe
Would have been pleasant reading. Do not think
That I believe the miserable cant
Of men who would their foes in pieces rend,
And yet like lunatics will rant and rave
Against the imprecations of the Jews
Addressed to God in their extremity,
When causeless was their blood like water spilt…
I reckon these peurile attempts of yours
To cast discredit on the Word of Truth,
Are not alone invective against God,
But insult heaped upon my common sense.
T. But surely you would never have me take
Those fierce anathemas, of which I speak,
As breathings of true Christianity!
C. But what has spiritism got to do
With Christianity? The Christian
Is called to follow the rejected Christ.
And his inheritance is in the heavens.
Not so the Jew to whom the earth belongs.
We quarrel not with those who empire claim,
And have their portion in this present life.
When Jesus reigns we share the throne with Him
Until that day we leave the world alone.
The earth was Israel’s, as I have said,
And by the sword, and in the might of God
The foe that rose their title to dispute
They were most mercilessly to destroy,
But place and portion is for us above.
No one can rob us of our fair estate,
That richer is than all the wealth of worlds.
Therefore our battles are with spirits fell
Which in the heavens have their present place,
With such we wrestle, not with flesh and blood.
And therefore we without the least regret
Can earth relinquish in the hands of those
Who when they part with it do part with all.
Besides, it is our happy privilege,
While Christ is in rejection by this world,
To share in His rejection, and to walk
In that good path His feet have traced for us;
Instead of wrong resisting, doing good
To them that do us evil, blessing them
That heap with senseless hate upon our heads
Curses all causeless, for when we deserved
The curse of God the blessing was bestowed.
T. If this alone be Christianity,
Then there is none of it on earth today.
C. It is no more than the example set
Before His followers by Him their guide,
Who when reviled, did not revile again,
And when He suffered uttered not one threat,
But to the One who judges righteously
Himself did in strong confidence commit.
We follow in His path until the day
When He shall come to judge in righteousness
This world that, when He was on earth, in grace
And ready to deliver man from all
The woes that him encompassed, placed upon
His brow a crown of thorns, and brutally
The holy Saviour to a gibbet nailed
And yet this crowning act of human sin
Has been, in the great mercy of our God,
Made an occasion for the grand display
Of His eternal wisdom, love, and power.
For there the evil that had man oppressed
Received its judgment, and a glorious way
Of free salvation was disclosed for all.
T. What element of justice can be found
In the vicarious sacrifice of Christ?
C. This element of justice: should you be
Bound as a debtor in a prison cell,
And someone in the kindness of his heart
Stepped in, and price of your redemption paid;
Justice, I think, would be well satisfied,
And your redemption follow without doubt.
T. But where is justice found in making one
Guiltless of doing evil bear the blame
And judgment of the wrong that has been done
By someone else.
C. The difficulty found
In dealing with such unbelieving minds
As you exhibit is, that such have no
True understanding of the topic which
Is at the present moment in dispute.
From notions that are current in the air
Throughout the whole of Christendom you have
Your false theology, for false it is.
And you have not a serious study made
Of God’s own revelation. Had you closed
Your ears to the confusion and the noise
Of many voices, and with earnest prayer
To God for guidance, sought to search His Word
For light regarding His most blessed will,
Seeking for grace, that when His will is known
It might be your delight that will to do,
You had not been in such a darkness left
As that in which you find yourself today.
You know enough, if you but felt your need,
To lead you to the Saviour of the lost;
For lost you are, whatever you may think.
No latent power reposes in yourself
Your own recovery to bring to pass;
And if no other witness could be found
This fact to perfectly substantiate,
The painful story of the human race,
Revealing a progressive downward drift
To bestiality, and phrenzied claim
To kinship with the beast, might be adduced
As absolutely indisputable.
I do not wish to give the least offence
Neither to you nor to your boon compeers,
But I must say, that neither you nor they
Know anything of the true character
Of God’s salvation in the risen Christ.
It surely is a very painful thing
To have impressed on the reluctant mind,
The fact that, with the Scriptures everywhere,
Minds should be found so utterly devoid
Of all true knowledge of their rich contents,
And of the woes that wait the rebel soul,
Despising both the Saviour and His work;
And yet with ever reckless tongue and pen,
Imputing to His wisdom foolishness,
And wrong and cruelty to truth and love.
But as it was from the beginning, so
It is today, the heart unchanged by grace
Is in its nature full of vain conceit,
And enmity against the God of truth.
T. This does not justify the cruel wrong
Done to the just, by making him atone,
And that by sorrows indescribable,
For evil deeds by evil doers done.
C. But would it not be quite as great a wrong
To make a just man pay a debtor’s debts?
T. Surely, but then the just might act in grace,
And mercifully pay the debtor’s debts.
But this must be of his unfettered will,
And not as by an autocrat compelled.
C. But there was no compulsion placed upon
The Christ, to give Himself to bear our woe.
Who was there great enough to have compelled
To anything the Maker of the worlds?
The mind of the eternal triune God
Is one. By this I do not only mean
That there is no divergency between
The mind of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
As tho’ each Person had a will distinct,
Tho’ with the others in agreement true.
One mind, one will, one counsel, and one thought,
Not as three men might be in purpose one,
For every man a mind has of his own,
But God is ONE, and yet in function THREE;
The Father sends the Son, the Son in grace
Becomes a Man, tho’ never less than God,
And gives Himself a ransom for our souls;
Raised from the dead and glorified He sends
The Holy Spirit to possess His own,
That by His power they might the Word proclaim,
And by that means might gather to His name
Those foreordained to everlasting life.
The words He spoke, and all the works He did,
Are to the Trinity attributed.
The Son was here performing mighty signs,
And yet He says, The Father dwells in Me,
And does the works; and by the Holy Ghost
He cast the demons out of men possessed.
One God are the three Persons; it is not
The Three in concord are; the Three are ONE.
No one compelled the Son to bear our woe,
It was the purpose of the Triune God.
Unfathomable is the mystery
Of Him on whom no creature eye hath looked,
Who dwells in light all unapproachable,
And yet as far as He can be revealed,
He has been manifested in the Son.
With this let satisfaction fill our souls.
Man is a lawless creature, broken loose
From his Creator, wandering in the earth,
Guilty of deeds he well knows to be wrong,
And contradictory to the divine
And just command. Of this he was aware
Before he did those deeds; for doing which
He stands most righteously condemned to bear
The fearful penalty. And how could God
Say to intelligences made by Him,
Either by word, or deed, that He might do,
That lust, that pride, departure from Himself,
Rebellion rank gainst His authority,
Was of but little or no consequence?
Would this not restlessness have caused among
The vast unfallen host that ready stand
Before His throne to do His holy will?
What confidence, and what security,
Could any creature find within the realm
Of the eternal God, if He could bear
The presence of iniquity, and let
The rebel creature loose in His domain
To work his lawless and his wicked will?
No, blessed be His name for ever!
He must punish sin wherever it is found.
He cannot say by either work or word
That sin is not of any consequence.
The cross of Christ is proof infallible
That sin He cannot, will not, tolerate,
And it is also that which manifests
How far for man’s advantage He would go.
What safety would men have in any land
Where lawless people with impunity
Could trample under foot the wholesome laws
Made for their welfare and their happiness?
Who would desire at any time to live
Under administration such as this?
In constant peril would be property,
And life would be without security.
We can be thankful that the throne of God
Established is in perfect righteousness.
And that the slightest evagation from
The golden lines of righteousness and truth
Must never be permitted to disturb
The tranquil realm of everlasting love.
Therefore in order that in righteousness
A channel might be made, thro’ which His grace
Could flow to every son of Adam’s race,
The Son eternal took a servant’s form
And gave Himself, that on the shameful cross
Might. be before the universe displayed
God’s utter detestation of the sin,
That had the fair creation so defiled,
And judgment brought upon the human race,
And also His great love to erring man.
But after all it is the sense we have
Of sin and of the holiness of God,—
To whom we all one day must give account,—
Determines in the main our attitude
Toward the question we investigate.
If we suppose that sin in God’s esteem
Is very much the same as in our own,
And that we may dismiss from heart and mind
All discomposure as regards a day
When every secret of the human heart,
As well indeed as every overt act,
Shall into conspicuity be brought,
And every single soul of man receive
For deeds committed, whether good or bad,
Thus having foolishly our souls deceived,
We are not likely to be much disturbed
By warnings solemn that accompany
The Gospel of the grace and love of God;
Nor are we likely to take sides with Him
Against the evil that destroys the earth;
Tho’ why we helpless creatures should prefer
Eternal discord to eternal peace,
Ourselves could not a sober reason give.
T. I do not say that you no data have
For much that you have honestly believed;
But you will not allow as evidence
Facts on our side incontrovertible.
We are in contact with the spirit world,
With people who have passed the great divide,
Who tell us how they passed, and where they are,
What they have found, the people they have met,
Their occupations, and the life they lead,
Their eagerness to get in touch with us,
That they may set at rest our nervous fears,
But sadly hindered by our want of faith;
And these communications companied
By signs that break down every prejudice,
And absolute assurance bring to us
That we discourse with those we knew on earth.
Surely in that which you so trustfully
And with tenacity adhere to, tho’
Received on circumstantial evidence,
And in the things that we have seen and known,
And which are open to be seen and known
By any exercised unbiassed mind,
A grand substratum of eternal truth
Might be discovered, on the ground of which
A glorious temple of pellucid light
Might be erected, that would one day drive
The darkness and the sorrow from the world.
C. Between your spiritism and the truth
Of Christianity is no accord.
Should I, to save myself from seeming rude,
Say otherwise than this, I should but prove
Myself to be your foe and not your friend.
The one is light, the other rayless gloom;
One from above, the other, from beneath;
One from the Spirit of the living God,
The other from the spirit of Antichrist;
One for the good of your immortal soul,
The other for its everlasting hurt;
The goal before the one is heaven above,
The goal before the other hell beneath:
Between the two is no affinity.
A gulf of breadth and deepness infinite
Is fixed unbridgeable between the two.
Apart, and with, a different end in view,
Both have been toiling since the fall of man,
And yet shall toil until the dark abyss
Receives the fell deceiver of our race.
T. You may believe all this; I do not doubt
You speak according to the faith you have.
But could you talk to Peter or to Paul,—
And truly you might reach them if you would—
I doubt not they would tell you something else,
And that astonishingly different
From that which in their writings you have read.
Much knowledge they have gathered since the day
They passed, and entered on the spirit-sphere.
C. Who told you?
T. The inhabitants who dwell
Within that spirit-region, whom you may
Consult whatever time you should desire.
C. But how know you that those who answer make
Out from the shadows to your questions are
The human spirits they profess to be?
Or human ghosts at all?
T. What could they be?
The signs they give are overwhelming proofs,
That they are quite the men that we have known.
The most indomitably sceptic minds
Have had to yield before established facts,
And overthrow, confess most secret things
That in their earthly life had come to pass,
Known only to another and themselves,
Have been advanced by them, to set at rest
All doubt that they the spirits are of those
Whom they assume to be. We also have
Had them before the unerring camera;
And very critical comparison
Made with their pictures taken while on earth
As well as having them examined by
Their living relatives, who recognised
Them as the persons they professed to be.
C. But do you think allowance has been made
Regarding powers that may be possessed
By those dark spirits you interrogate?
Are you quite sure they cannot personate
The dead whom you would daringly consult?
T. If so, they must have powers astonishing.
C. Powerful they surely are.
T. Omnipotent,
Omniscient, omnipresent, they must be.
C. Oh, no, but wise enough to wilder you.
How can you tell what creatures occupy
That darksome sphere, in which you make yourself
A reckless trespasser, and must accept
The consequences of your lawless act?
You think that you can answer for yourself,
Absurd to fancy you are victimised,
You shall the witnesses interrogate,
The evidence you’ll analyse and weigh,
No message must be pocketed on trust,
Above-board all experiments must be,
You will not, and you cannot, be deceived,
Proofs you must have that all is fair and just,
The spirits shall be tested carefully,
And microscopically every proof
Shall be examined, that no tinge of fraud
Shall without challenge be allowed ta pass.
But is it wise, where no necessity
Exists for trial, to throw down your glove
Before the forces of another world,
Of whose resources you are ignorant,
And thus to challenge them, brains against brains,
That powerless is their art and subtlety
You to bamboozle, mystify, or fool?
I do not doubt that, clever as you are,
On earth are men alive and to be found,
Who could with very little effort dupe,
Delude, deceive, and victimise you all.
And if your fellowmen can do such things,
What powers may not spirit-beings have?
Suppose that those intelligences, whom
You take to be departed human souls,
Are spirits fell, and in such myriads
That almost everything that men have done
Is known to them; and let us yet suppose
That they are of such fearful power possessed
That if they would impersonate the dead,
Means to accomplish this they could invent,
And that despising counsel you became
Their willing dupe, until the day and hour
You passed from here, and found yourself, not where
They told you you would be, but in the dark
And everlasting region of despair:
What dread that waking hour would bring to you!
Soon there shall be a medium here on earth,
The like of which has never been before,
Nor after him shall any be again.
By him such signs and wonders shall be done,
That none but those by God’s great power preserved
Shall have the wisdom to withstand his wiles.
The signs that then shall every day be done
Shall make those that today have you convinced,
Appear like little children’s playful pranks.
This strong delusion is now held in check
By the almighty mercy of our God,
And but the shadow of those coming ills,
Entice today the foolish multitude.
But if the shadows have such subtle might,
When comes the substance, who shall it resist?
T. The spirits that in answer to our call
And give us all the knowledge we desire,
Are not the evil demons you suppose,
If there be such in all the universe,
For never have they sought to do us ill,
But ever calmly to communicate
That which assures us of an after-life,
A life not cursed with hopeless miseries,
As this world teems with, but a better life
Of happiness for all who do their best
On earth for peace, and for the good of men:
A life that has before it prospects great
Of rising ever higher, till the plane
Of absolute perfection has been reached.
C. Oh, tell me not those spirits have not sought
To do you ill. Is it no ill to be
Enticed from God’s own truth to Satan’s lie?
Is it no ill if you are made forsake
The only One in whom salvation is,
To follow that which you will one day find
To be a baseless murderous deceit?
Is it no ill to scorn the grace of God,
The Gospel to reject? Christ to despise?
To designate His blessed sacrifice
A relic of a coarse and barbarous age?
Will you assert when you have been arraigned
Before the throne, of God, and have your place
Appointed with blasphemers of His Word,
That those dark spirits have not done you ill?
Turn from those soul-destroyers unto God,
And in confession of your wickedness
Lay hold by faith in His beloved Son
Of that salvation that is found in Him.
You know not who those spirit-beings are;
You cannot say you could not be deceived,
For you know not the forces that may lurk
Within the darkness you would penetrate.
You think they are the spirits of the dead,
But do not tell me that you know they are,
For this you certainly cannot affirm.
The spirits of the dead cannot appear,
Neither to you, nor unto any other soul
Of man who yet in flesh and blood is found.
To come to you they must their flesh resume,
And from their graves re-enter earth again.
Scripture reveals no other opening
Back to this earthly sphere than by the grave,
And of that region Christ has got the keys
In His possession; and with Him are those
Who conscious of their lost and ruined state
To Him for refuge fled, and put their trust
For ever in the virtue of His blood,
As that which expiation made for sins.
The spirits of the wicked are in woe.
Their hopeless situation they have now,
With grief and ruthless sorrow, realized;
And just as they had chosen in this world
To do without the company of God,
So now at last they must experience,
That God without their company can do.
But neither good nor bad can visit earth,
Unless their bodies leave the sepulchre.
Impersonated they may be by those
Who by such means destroy the human race,
But they themselves must tarry where they are.
T. Not for one instant has the faintest thought
Flashed thro’ my rather pessimistic mind,
That any testimony I could bring,
However powerful and convincing, in
Support of things well-founded, and well-known,
Would alter, even in the least degree,
A stubborn mind like yours, too long obsessed
By one idea; room does not exist
Within your rational capacity
For one resplendent, hope-inspiring ray,
However brilliant with celestial light.
If you will neither credit that which we
Report to you, as having seen and heard,
Nor come these matters to investigate,
I think it manifests an obstinate
And bigoted ambition to remain
In ignorance and superstition dark,
And it were best you should be left alone.
C. As I have said, so now I say again,
The things that you suppose that you have seen
And heard have neither worth nor weight with me,
Unless I know who from the shadows speak.
And since by God’s own Word I am advised
That if I hear those spirits I shall fall
Under their influence, me it becomes
To steer my shallop far from rocks that lie
Within my vision, leaving God to guide
From dangers hidden neath the whelming wave.
Loss endless, and not profit, have you gained
By these new phantasies you have embraced;
Loss that shall fully on your vision break,
When you have closed this transitive career,
And have to meet with Him, whose matchless grace
You have for wicked spirit-lore despised.
T. My gain is great, and very quickly told:
I know what waits me when I pass from here.
I know the circumstances of my friends
Who have passed over to the other side.
I know the golden stairs that I must climb
Till at the summit glorious I arrive,
And I am lost in God.
C. And everything
That ever lived and passed into the shades
Is with you on your lofty enterprise,
From the mollusc to the philosopher!
Millions of ages ere they toad became,
And billions ere the first ambitious ape
Determined to make long his stumpy legs,
And make them end in feet instead of hands,
And greatly shorten his too lengthy arms,
And bite his tail hard off by the backbone,
Must ages, ere was memoranda kept,
Have reached the height to which your soul aspires.
What a position proud was his who led
That long procession toiling thro’ the years,
Onward and upward, leading every life.
Maggot, or snail, what was its outward form—
Its spirit-body? That can matter not,
It had its proud position as the one
Leading to glory the great universe.
I think your mediums purposely ignore
The presence in the spirit-world of souls
Continually passing on, not men
But birds and beasts and reptiles, climbing up
And on to that same end you have in view.
That ape your cousin-german shall be there;
But which of you shall have the precedence?
Your opportunities to make advance
Are at this present moment more than his.
But which of you has been more diligent
To reach perfection may be still in doubt.
If he has used his meagre benefits
With greater diligence than you have yours,
I would not be surprised some day to find
That he had passed you panting on the stairs.
T. This is the raving of a mind diseased.
C. Diseased or healthy, I must draw my own
Conclusions from the dogmas you advance.
The snail has reached the ape, the ape the man,
The man is on his upward way to God.
Snails are for ever rising up to ape,
Ape up to man, and hence am I compelled
To view all living creatures on this earth,
Along with all the creatures that have been,
As of one great bewildering family;
Each single member of one bone and flesh,
And of one spirit too with all the rest,
Whether they fly, or creep, or walk, or swim,
And these you cannot part with as you please.
But as you found them here upon the earth
On your arrival, you must find them there
When you have entered on the spirit-world,
And all of the same moral stature as
They were when death removed them from this scene,
Bear, elephant, snake, tiger, dog, and man.
What fearful myriads of such as these
Must now be wandering in the spirit-world,
And fierce as when they left this selfish scene.
If this your creed is credible how full
Of nameless horrors must the future be!
Beasts wild and tame, men good and reprobate,
Rapacious, ravenous, meek, merciful;
For as on earth they were, so are they there,
Rampaging, roaring, rending, raving, mad,
While other stubborn spirits walk abroad,
Their spiritual rifles shouldering,
And with munitions spiritual stocked,
To keep at bay wild beast and wilder man.
This is the logical deduction from
Your system, as propounded by yourself
United with your spiritual creed
Is evolution, and the chattering ape
Is of your bone and flesh, and cannot be
Other than with you in the future sphere,
And where you leave off here you there begin.
The man that here is brute, there brute he is,
Orang-outang is there orang-outang,
Tiger is tiger, and the dog is dog,
And this, and this alone, is in accord
With those strange theories you have embraced.
From that far distant fount from which you sprung,
Mollusc, or toad, from this the wolf and bear
Have likewise sprung, and all that now is worm,
Baboon, or man, must in the distance dim
With you put on the immortal diadem.
If you with all those people you call beasts
Have had your woes together in this world,
Why should they not be with you where you go?
They boast as much morality as man.
T. What utter gibberish! A dog is not
In any sense a moral being.
C. Why?
I take it you make bold to say that you
A moral being are; but if you be,
By what strange freak of nature did you come
To this distinction? You were born a man;
Your father was a man, this made you one;
His father was, his father’s father was;
And back you go until another step
Would bring you to the jungle and the beast.
The naked, hairy, and unmoral ape
Becomes the parent of a moral man!
This, I am confident, you will admit
Makes huge demand on our credulity.
But let that pass: as I have said, you join
Along with spiritism the principle
Of evolution, and this makes the whole
Vital creation one in life and hope.
All living creatures that have ever been,
Except the few that may have reached the goal,
Are on the onward, upward, patient move;
And when they all have cast the outward shell,
They shall together take the second step,
And onward move into the higher sphere;
For as they all one life and hope possess,
And in this earthly sphere are intermixed,
Why in the higher sphere should some be found
And others not? Now please do not suggest
That all are not of moral stature one,
For then I should be warranted to ask,
Are all that enter this terrestrial sphere
Of the same moral stature? Here I find
Life in an infinite variety,
Diversified from maggot up to man.
And if they come into this nether world
In such variety, and leave it much
As when they entered, why should they not
Together pass into the higher sphere?
And if the course of man is morally
Downward on earth—for downward without doubt
It surely is—what confidence have we
That in the higher sphere the tendency
To that which bestial is shall be reversed?
I marvel that the sheer insanity
Of this delusion does not tear the vail
From off your eyes! no certainty,
No rock unshakeable have you, on which
To build your hopes of everlasting bliss.
The end shall surely come when you shall see
Your creed, your confidence, your baseless hopes,
Your godless superstitions fade and fall
Like autumn leaves in the oragious blast
Of a tempestuous and storm-swept sky.
In that dread day you will awake to find
That you your proud but puny mind have matched
With beings whose dark subtlety as far
Exceeds your own, as yours that of the worm
You tread beneath your feet. You are no match
For those infernal beings you consult.
You are presumptuously trespassing
Upon forbidden ground, nor can you tell
Into what pitiless and cruel hands
You may at any luckless moment fall.
You have no fear! In this your danger lies,
For to be coward here is to be wise.
You cannot keep yourself, no creature can.
All that are kept, are kept by power divine,
And safe is he that holds this fact in faith.
When man by trespass fell away from God,
And from that hour a downward course pursued,
Both him and his care-worn posterity:
The devil, demons, angels, fallen men
Are in their different localities
And camps divided, but in their enmity
Against the Maker of the worlds agreed,
Tho’ man alone is dreadfully deceived.
And yet to man, and to him only, has
The grace and mercy of a Saviour-God
Been in a manner unmistakably
Made manifest; therefore the demon-host
With energy unabated dedicate
Their fell activities to this one end,
The everlasting ruin of the race
To which unfathomed mercy has been shown.
And man, misguided, miscontented man,
Because of his immortal bitterness
Against his Maker merciful becomes
An easy prey to these infernal ghosts
That are on his destruction resolute.
You have been trespassing on ground tabooed,
And there the fell destroyer of your soul
Has spread his snares and nets, and you suppose
No harm shall come to you. You vainly think
That you may with impunity blaspheme
And tread beneath your feet the Word of God,
But in the end—and may that end be not
Too late to seek salvation, and to find
The mercy that today awaits to save—
You shall discover that the living God,
With whom all men on earth must have to do,
Has not been to your ways indifferent,
But has of every secret thought, as well
As of each overt act, a record made,
And not a movement winked at or forgot.
Your disregard of prohibitions made
For your protection and prosperity,
Your venture to consult the spirit-world,
Explicitly forbidden by His Word—
Your fierce denunciations of that Word—
Your fulsome claim to kindred with the beast—
Shall into judgment certainly be brought.
And when your vain and ignorant conceit
With God’s eternal verities shall meet,
I leave to you to settle as you may
With Him whose mercy you despise today.