004 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: A Defense of Spiritualism
I had returned from
and spent several years in India before the subject of Modern Spiritualism was brought under my immediate notice. Cursorily I had heard it mentioned by some people as a dreadfully wicked thing, diabolical to the last degree, by others as a most England
amusing pastime for evening parties, or when one wanted to get some “fun out of the table”. But neither description charmed me, nor tempted me to pursue the occupation.
I had already lost too many friends. Spiritualism (so it seemed to me) must either be humbug or a very solemn thing, and I neither wished to trifle with it or to be trifled with by it. And after twenty years’ continued experience I hold the same opinion. I have proved Spiritualism not to be humbug, therefore I regard it in a sacred light. For, from whatever cause it may proceed, it opens a vast area for thought to any speculative mind, and it is a matter of constant surprise to me to see the indifference with which the world regards it.
That it exists is an undeniable fact. Men of science have acknowledged it, and the churches cannot deny it. The only question appears to be: “What is it, and whence does the power proceed?” If (as many clever people assert) from ourselves, then must these bodies and minds of ours possess faculties hitherto undreamed of, and which we have allowed to lie culpably fallow. If our bodies contain magnetic forces sufficient to raise substantial and apparently living forms from the bare earth, which our eyes are clairvoyant enough to see, and which can articulate words which our ears are clairaudient enough to hear – if, in addition to this, our minds can read each other's inmost thoughts, can see what is passing at a distance, and foretell what will happen in the future, then are our human powers greater than we have ever imagined, and we ought to do a great deal more with them than we do. And even regarding Spiritualism from that point of view, I cannot understand the lack of interest displayed in the discovery, to turn these marvellous powers of the human mind to greater account.
To discuss it, however, from the usual meaning given to the word, namely, as a means of communication with the departed, leaves me as puzzled as before. All Christians acknowledge they have spirits independent of their bodies, and that when their bodies die, their spirits will continue to live on. Wherein, then, lies the terror of the idea that these liberated spirits will have the privilege of roaming the universe as they will ? And if they argue the hnpossibility of their return, they deny the records which form the only basis of their religion. No greater proof can be brought forward of the truth of Spiritualism than the truth of the Bible, which teems and bristles with accounts of it from beginning to end. From the period when the Lord God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and the angels came to Abram's tent, and pulled Lot out of the doomed city ; when the witch of Endor raised up Samuel, and Balaam's ass spoke, and Ezekiel wrote that the hair of his head stood up because “a spirit” passed before him, to the presence of Satan with Jesus in the desert, and the reappearance of Moses and Elias, the resurrection of Christ Himself, and His talking and eating with His disciples, and the final account of John being caught up to Heaven to receive the Revelations – all is Spiritualism and nothing else.
The Protestant Church that pins its faith upon the Bible, and nothing but the Bible, cannot deny that the spirits of mortal men have reappeared and been recognized upon this earth, as when the graves opened at the time of the Christ’s crucifixion, and “many bodies of those that were dead arose and went into the city, and were seen of many”. The Catholic Church does not attempt to deny it. All her legends and miracles (which are disbelieved and ridiculed by the Protestants aforesaid) are founded on the same truth – the miraculous or supernatural return (as it is styled) of those who are gone, though I hope to make my readers believe, as I do, that there is nothing miraculous in it, and far from being supernatural it is only a continuation of Nature.
Putting the churches and the Bible, however, on one side, the History of Nations proves it to be possible. There is not a people on the face of the globe that has not its (so-called) superstitions, nor a family hardly, which has not experienced some proofs of spiritual communion with earth. Where learning and science have thrust all belief out of sight, it is only natural that the man who does not believe in a God nor a Hereafter should not credit the existence of spirits, nor the possibility of communicating with them. But the lower we go in the scale of society, the more simple and childlike the mind, the more readily does such a faith gain credence, and the more stories you will hear to justify belief. It is just the same with religion, which is hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed to babes.
If I am met here with the objection that the term “Spiritualism” has been at times mixed up with so much that is evil as to become an offence, I have no better answer to make than by turning to the irrefragable testimony of the Past and Present to prove that in all ages, and of all religions, there have been corrupt and demoralized exponents whose vices have threatened to pull down the fabric they lived to raise. Christianity itself would have been overthrown before now, had we been unable to separate its doctrine from its practice.
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