The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
Are Christianity and Spiritualism Antagonistic?
Are Christianity and Spiritualism Antagonistic?
As one that has had but little experience in the mysteries of Spiritualism—as a child standing before an unexplored ocean of knowledge—I have ventured a few lines on the subject that forms the heading. What Christianity is, perhaps nine out of every ten would differ in defining, but such, as I take it, appears simply to consist of one God, the Father of us all, His greater Son, Christ—I mean greater than we ourselves are—and of the Spirit, or essence of God, an uucreate Spirituality that acts on us in a way that we may feel, but may not define of ourselves, as simply spirits clothed in flesh while on this earth, with good and bad impulses, and liable to good and bad impressions, and going on to a future beyond the grave, if we prove in this life our capacity to exist in a second one. My ideas of Spiritualism are gathered from a little theory and less experience, but, as honest, sober imaginings, they may command respect, if they do not coincide with others' ideas on the matter.
The orthodox idea of Heaven is one that no really intellectual mind can or will recognise as even a probability. That in that future, exalted state, we shall be secure from a host of evils that are inseparable from our moral and physical natures, no one doubts that believes in a future state at all. The exploded notion of a hell I shall not trouble my readers with, besides the mere mention thereof. But Heaven is a state of perpetual rejoicing—so says popular religious opinion. Think you that the mighty energies of a Newton, a Herschel, or a Tyndall, would be content to pass an eternity of idleness—for such the aforesaid opinion would seem to amount to. No; the knowledge that their mortality alone hindered their mighty minds from penetrating and unfolding would be pursued with more gigantic power and superhuman energies, and the mysteries of the universe would eventually be made clear to their wondering vision. It is only fair to suppose that if in this lower life we are free agents in thought and deed, so, under grander and brighter auspices, our actions would be equally unrestrained. Imagine, then, if you can, the awe-struck wonderment that a great astronomer or scientist would feel at seeing and solving the great mystery of the source of the Sun's light, or the workings of the rings of Saturn, or any of the vexed problems their telescopes have but faintly conjectured. And, to descend into commonplace, would not the great majority of those whose lives had been so far blameless on earth enjoy a perfectly untrammelled page 90 existence, brought into nearer relationship with the Great Supreme; and, as they were capable of greater love and veneration towards that Ineffable Being, they would also increase in knowledge, "going on from strength to strength." The remembrance of their companions in the life struggle on earth would naturally be deep and intense; and though their incorporeal forms would unfit them to be seen by mortal eye, yet they would desire often to look at, with feelings of love and tenderness, those upon this earth they once associated with. It is just the precise amount and influence of that affinity I am endeavouring to theorise upon.
Independently of Biblical and direct Spiritual messages by the mediums of the present day, we have little, save our human, fallible minds, to guide us. But, as we know the handicraftsman takes many a long year—sometimes a lifetime—to attain extraordinary proficiency in his art, so, then, the Great Unseen cannot be rushed upon by any would-be fools. Were we to examine some of the scientific discoveries of Edison, the majority would be nonplussed to account for the marvellous results obtained from such comparatively simple instruments. There is no elaborate machinery employed, truly; and were we to set a most accomplished mechanician to accomplish the same things by wheel and crank, he would, in all probability, fail most miserably. If he, then—knowing nothing of electricity/and caring less—were to scoff and ridicule the inventions—speaking from a materialistic standpoint—we should all despise him. Why not also a dogmatic and rigid positivist in matters Spiritual ? The mysteries therein contained are more tremendous than any of a simply scientific nature; for while the telescope, with all its wonderful modern improvements, only explores the inert far-distant, the advocates of the mind—telescoping, so to speak—deal with living and moving beings, with whom the depths of earthly wisdom are but trivialities. Granting, in a future state, to our perfected selves both love and wisdom, is it incongruous to imagine that there should be a means of sending and receiving messages to and from the spirit-world ? To the earnest and thoughtful student, not to the sceptic and scoffer, would be granted a knowledge of these things. From the wide gulf between the natural and the supernatural, such communication would necessarily be but rare, and under certain circumstances. In the hurry of business, and the clamouring rush for daily bread we are all more or less engaged in, such pursuits would be distasteful and incompatible; but in the seclusion of our chambers at night the crude inexperience of the beginner might in time turn to the matured knowledge of the future. That such knowledge would jar with a liberal and enlightened Christianity I fail to see. Why the superhuman should have disappeared with the apostles page 91 without any declaration to that effect seems strange, especially as Paul himself says that, "Of spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." Precisely so; Paul himself saw many things in the silence and solitude of his dungeon, that of them "it was not lawful for a man to utter," that must have made the greatest earthly splendour pale and dim by comparison. Why, then, my readers, Christianity can or ought to be regarded as distinct from Spiritualism, I fail utterly to understand. Like electricity, the knowledge of the reality of the unseen is but in its infancy, as far as the present age is concerned; and when our minds have become sufficiently prepared by "prayer and fasting," and not till then, shall we understand what only an enlightened man can understand, as, in the same way, a savage cannot comprehend music till after years of training and practice. The time is coming, surely, but very slowly, when those professing Christianity and Spiritualism will be joined hand-in-hand in the glorious work of mental advancement, so that the light shed on the future may make us contemptuous of the victories of the tomb over inert clay, and, having crossed the Jordan into the unseen, happy to be able to mix with and enjoy the companionship of those that have gone before, besides being able and willing to cheer on the earnest and true in heart that are yet in the wilderness.
A. J. Ivimey.Copeland.
February 29, 1880