2010-01-10

019 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: Defending Spiritualism Again






In this world, we mostly believe what we want to believe, and the thought of a future troubles us in proportion to the lives we lead here. It must often strike spiritualists (who mostly look forward to the day of their departure for another world, as a schoolboy looks forward to the commencement of the holidays) as a very strange thing, that people, as a rule, evince so little curiosity on the subject of Spiritualism. The idea of the spirits of the departed returning to this world to hold communication with their friends may be a new and startling one to them, but the very wonder of it would make one expect to see them evince a little interest in a matter which concerns us all.


Yet the generality of Carlyle's British millions either poohpooh the notion as too utterly ridiculous for their exalted minds to entertain, or inform you, with superior wisdom, that if Spiritualism is true, they cannot see the use of it, and have no craving for any further knowledge. If these same people expected to go to Canada or Australia in a few months' time, how eagerly they would ask questions concerning their future home, and procure the best information on what to do, whilst they remained in England, in order to fit themselves for the journey and the change.


But a journey to the other world – to the many worlds which perhaps await us –, a certain proof that we shall live again (or rather, that we shall never die but need only time and patience and well-living here to reunite us to the dear one gone before) – that is a subject not worthy of our trying to believe and of not sufficient importance for us to take the trouble of ascertaining. I pity from my soul the men and women who have no dead darling buried in their hearts whom they know they shall meet in a home of God's own choosing when this life ends.


The old, cold faiths have melted away beneath the sun of Progress. We can no longer be made to believe, like little children, in a shadowy indefinite Heaven where the saints sit on damp clouds with harps in their hands forever singing psalms and hymns and heavenly songs. That sort of existence could be a Heaven to none, and to most it would be a Hell. We do not accept it now, any more than we do the other place, with its typical fire and brimstone, and pitch-forking devils with horns and tails. But what has Religion given us instead? Those whose common-sense will not permit them to believe in the parson's Heaven and Hell generally believe (like Dr. H ) in nothing at all. But Spiritualism, earnestly and faithfully followed, leaves us in no doubt. Spiritualists know where they are going to. The spheres are almost as familiar to them as this earth – it is not too much to say that many live in them as much as they do here, and often they seem the more real, as they are the more lasting of the two.


Spiritualists are in no manner of doubt who their eyes will see when opening on another phase of life. They do not expect to be carried straight up into Abraham's bosom, and lie snugly there, whilst revengeful demons are torturing those who were, perhaps, nearest and dearest to them down below. They have a better and more substantial religion than that – a revelation that teaches them that the works we do in the flesh must bear their fruit in the spirit, and that no tardy deathbed repentance, no crying out for mercy because Justice is upon us, like an unruly child howling as soon as the stick is produced for chastisement, will avail to wipe off the sins we have indulged in upon earth. They know their expiation will be a bitter one, yet not without Hope, and that they will be helped, as well as help others, in the upward path that leads to ultimate perfection. The teaching of Spiritualism is such as largely to increase belief in our Divine Father's love, our Saviour's pity, and the angels' ministering help. But it does more than this, more than any religion has done before. It affords proof – the only proof we have ever received, and our finite natures can accept – of a future existence.


The majority of Christians hope and trust, and say they believe. It is the Spiritualist only that knows. 


I think that the marvellous indifference displayed by the crowd to ascertain these truths for themselves must be due, in a large number of instances, to the unnatural but universal fear which is entertained of Death and all things connected with it. The same people who loudly declaim again the possibility of seing a “ghost”, shudder at the idea of doing so. The creature whom they have adored and waited on with tenderest devotion passes away, and they are afraid to enter the room where his body lies. That which they clung to and wept over yesterday, they fear to look at or touch to-day, and the idea that he would return and speak to them would inspire them with horror. But why afraid of an impossibility? Their very fears should teach them that there is a cause. From numerous notes made on the subject I have invariably found that those who have had the opportunity of testing the reality of Spiritualism, and either rejected or denied it, have been selfish, worldly, and cold-hearted people who neither care, nor are cared for, by those who have passed on to another sphere.


Plenty of love is sure to bring you plenty of proof. The mourners, who have lost sight of what is dearest to them, and would give all they possess for one more look at the face they loved so much, or one more tone of the voice that was music to their ears, are only too eager and grateful to hear of a way by which their longings may be gratified, and would take any trouble and go to any expense to accomplish what they desire.


It is this intense yearning to speak again with those that have left us, on the part of the bereaved, that has led to chicanery on the part of media in order to gratify it. Wherever money is to be made, unfortunately cheating will step in; but because some tradesmen will sell you brass for gold is no reason to vote all jewellers thieves.


The account of the raising of Samuel by the witch of Endor is an instance that my argument is correct. The witch was evidently an impostor, for she had no expectation of seeing Samuel, and was frightened by the apparition she had evoked; but Spiritualism must be a truth, because it was Samuel himself who appeared and rebuked Saul for calling him back to this earth. What becomes, in the face of this story, of the impassable gulf between the earthly and spiritual spheres? That atheists who believe in nothing should not believe in Spiritualism is credible, natural, and consistent. But that Christians should reject the theory is tantamount to acknowledging that they found their hopes of salvation upon a lie. There is no way of getting out of it. If it be impossible that the spirits of the departed can communicate with men, the Bible must be simply a collection of fabulous statements; if it be wrong to speak with spirits, all the men whose histories are therein related were sinners, and the Almighty helped them to sin; and if all the spirits who have been heard and seen and touched in modern times are devils sent on earth to lure us to our destruction, how are we to distinguish between them and the Greatest Spirit of all, who walked with mortal Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.


“Oh yes! I think I hear somebody cry…” But that was in the Bible… as if the Bible were a period or a place. And did it ever strike you that there is something else recorded in the Bible? “And He did not many miracles there because of their unbelief.” And yet Christ came to call “not the righteous but the sinners to repentance.”


Surely, then, the unbelieving required the conviction of the miracles more than those who knew Him to be God. Yet there He did them not, because of their unbelief, because their scepticism produced a condition in which miracles could not be wrought. And yet the nineteenth century is surprised because a sceptic, whose jarring element upsets all union and harmony, is not an acceptable addition to a spiritual meeting, and that the miracles of the present – gross and feeble, compared to those of the past, because worked by grosser material though grosser agents – ceased to be manifested when his unbelief intrudes itself upon them.


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