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Questions Answered Extempore by Miss Emma Hardinge 1866

 

Question 6

 

WILL you explain the law of faith as a practical principle of life?

Answer

 

WITH permission, we will materialise your Question. We claim that faith is knowledge. Wheresoever faith exists it is the spirit’s knowledge of that which is. True faith is in reality the soul’s perception of truth. It is often demanded as an act of volition, that the mind shall manifest faith; but you do not represent to that mind what are the antecedent facts which constitute the knowledge which ensures faith. There can be no faith within the human soul, which is not the result of a manifestation of some realised truth. Take, for example, the faith required by the Gracious Master for the performance of cures. It is represented even by the followers of Christ, that He could not in some places perform the cures He did in others, because of the lack of faith of those who appealed to Him for aid. It is claimed in sacred history that His greatest cures were performed upon those who asked not even for the touch of His healing hand, or the contact of His garments, but had a faith which perceived that the cure was with Him, and demanded alone His exercise of will. What was this faith? It was the knowledge that he could effect a cure. So a true faith existing in the human soul, is always a perception of a truth. It may not be an actual truth in nature, but it is a truth to the perception of that soul which feels its movement, and thus faith may exist in error as well as in truth. Faith is often what you call mere blind belief and is then founded upon fanaticism. Faith is often the tendril of the soul that outreaches to grasp some shadow which it mistakes for substance; but it is the perception of a fancied truth in the soul, which constitutes true faith. There are spiritual truths which illustrate faith far better than that which we have alluded to; for “faith is the substance of things unseen,” and such is main’s faith in immortality. Such in part is our confident trust in God, or even in the love of friends. Faith alone, it must be, that realises the protection of an all-wise heavenly Father; faith that believes God is our Father. Mark the faith of the poor ignorant savage who prays to the “Manitou” of whom no Bible gospel or creed has taught him. Remember man’s faith in the true and beautiful which enables him still to go on conquering the spirit of destructiveness of which we spoke in the earlier part of the evening, and still to do battle for the right even in the midst of all earth’s cruel blows levelled against his work. What is it but faith that carries us onward to the unseen realms of immortality - still striving for the prize we have not seen, the goal we have never known? Faith in God is the action of the grand divine Magnet Himself - the action of God in the universe who by faith is ever calling us upward to Him. I ask not for faith in aught which is not a truth to the individual whom I would convince. The objects I should lay before him whom I would convince, should seem to me to be some comprehensive truth. If the mind of my client cannot perceive this truth, I ask in vain for faith; for faith is like the reason and judgment of which I spoke in the definition of insanity: it is the culminating point of mind; the soul’s perception of what that soul believes to be the truth and nothing but the truth, hence faith is indeed the spiritual substance of things unseen, the knowledge of that which the spirit feels as truth.

 

MR COLEMAN proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Hardinge, which was unanimously carried.


 

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MISS HARDINGE: Permit me to say a few words in reply. Although my inspiration must fail me as far as the power of oratory is concerned, it will at least be prompted by the sentiments of truth. You are doubtless aware, many of you, that I am of English birth, but you will also remember the words of the poet, that, “we live in heart-throbs, not in figures on the dial.” Therefore during my ten years’ residence in America, English though I am, I lived so very quick, and my heart-throbs in that great land of the West were so rapidly repeated, that I believe I have lived more than thrice-told the number of years in events in that country, consequently, when I returned, I felt far more like a stranger among you than one who had never trod your shores except in the facts of history or tradition. I had forgotten my country’s institutions and perhaps in some respects, many of my country’s customs. The best effort that I could make to serve the cause of Spiritualism I felt was due, for to me it is my life. I had been spiritually born in America since my departure from England, and I felt I never could make sacrifices enough for that which had brightened my way and been a lamp to my feet – an angel presence in all my wanderings; and these have been very far, sometimes amounting to thousands and thousands of miles in one single year, yet at every footfall the power of the spirit was about and with me. I went where the spirit voice bade me. I never took a step, nor fulfilled an engagement that was not sanctified by the voice of one whom men called “dead,” and I never passed from point to point where may path was not illuminated and made straight for me by those whom the world say “are not.” In obedience to the voice of this dear invisible host, I had determined to make my short visit to England (although it was necessarily one of business) one of spiritual effort also. You may remember, or you may have heard, that we have five millions of Spiritualists in America, and that our ranks are divided into societies which are recognised by the laws of the country. And as union is strength, so the existence of these societies enables the Spiritualists to extend their sphere of usefulness in many ways besides providing hospitable homes, arranging meetings, and focalising interests about their mediums, which places them very much in the position of priests, and sometimes as in my case, amongst the dear Americans almost as an idol in their midst, for truly their love was sometimes worship and there was and is a deep devotion in the ties that bind the people to their mediums, that fills our hearts with love and designates me as “their Emma,”they, as my “peculiar people.”

 

I have found their hearts, their arms, and homes ever open to receive me, and in all these they have enshrined me with so much tenderness, and with such a vast amount of that faith of which the spirits have been talking, that it seemed to me I had almost forgotten myself, my country, and that country’s very widely differing institutions. So when I came to England, where I find that Spiritualism stands upon another basis, and in the exceeding wisdom of the spirits has reached a different class of mind to those who constitute American’s millions, I was sad, disappointed, and perhaps impatient. It seemed to me that the long habits of my ministry in past days were closed against me. I had been accustomed frequently to visit the prisons, the dens of vice, the hospitals, and even the woeful battle-field; I had been called upon to labour for the poor, and take part in charitable movements, and every Sunday to sanctify Spiritualism by the blessed name of religion, and to perform two Sabbath services to “our people.” All this was so very dear to me, and gave me the feeling of leading a life of such exceeding usefulness, that here I felt almost lost; I thought I could do no good amongst you, and I longed for the Spring-time to come that would send me back to a life of very great labour, but withal of very great usefulness. I could not see in what


 

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direction I could be of service here, for where I found an opening for giving spiritual lectures, it appeared to me to involve such a great amount of responsibility on my part, to which I was not accustomed, and such a heavy tax upon my own limited means, for which I had no provision, that I felt it was almost impossible thus for me to begin life afresh. Then it was, that - in obedience to the kind invitation of our good Chairman, who has been to me more like a father than a mere friend in this crisis - simply to please him, because I felt so very grateful to the ever-warm hand that had been stretched out to greet the stranger before he knew whether I was to be successful or not - simply, I say, in response to his kind invitation, I came amongst you for the first time. You remember the opening night of these meetings. With me my presence was an act of personal friendship, as I stated. Before I left this stand, I felt that the masses I had left behind me were compensated for in the quality of that which I that night addressed. I felt that I had stood within a noble circle of appreciative minds - minds which fully realised the truth and worth of Spiritualism in its higher and grander phases, as a prophesy of what is yet to come. I had spoken to the comfortless and sorrowful; I had lectured much to those who live so fast that they have no time to reflect upon the future, but only stoop to gather the flowers of the present hour. Here, however, I was speaking to the stern old British heart and brain, to that which digests philosophy and ultimates it in the slow and inevitable course of a progress that the ages cannot uproot. I felt all this realisation crowding upon me the first night I was amongst you; and then my home-sick longing for the dear land of the West became gradually appeased, and I felt it was a privilege to be amongst you; that although my usefulness to “spirits in prison” might scarcely be called into play here, I could gather strength from you, learn philosophy by intuition, and realise phases of spiritual life, which have often failed me when I alone was the giver and all about me were recipients. I have begun to change places amongst you, and realise an inspiration, for which I heartily and gratefully thank you all. Our ministrations have not been long together, but I have already learned to feel not as if you were “my people” - but my friends, my support, my counsellors, and that we are walking together up the steps of that mysterious temple, on whose threshold we are standing, and which, when we have purified ourselves and practised knowledge till we have made it deeds, we may hope to be permitted to enter. This is my relation to you.

 

Now I am about to enter upon another experiment, but one which I contemplated from the stand-point of my American experience, rather than my knowledge of this country. I thought it was but to present myself to the public as of old, and I should certainly be received at least with candour, and be enabled to present myself in most of my arrangements as I had done in America. In this, however, I have been grievously deceived. I find that in this great Babylon of London there is so much preliminary effort required and such a vast amount of responsibility to be undertaken, that I have already shrunk back again and again from the effort I contemplated; and nothing but the strength and confidence which your outstretched hands have given me could induce me to go on even for one lecture on my own account. It is already now determined that that lecture shall be given. It is an experiment, perhaps too rashly entered into in view of its financial arrangements which are overwhelming; nevertheless it has been, like all other movements of mine, the word of the spirits. It has been given to me months and months ago to present to you a picture of the land I have traversed. I have no fear of my undertaking as far as that success, which in spirit­land is motive, rather than human results, is concerned. I have acted from the motives of the deepest gratitude to those who have sent me forth and guarded me with a wall


 

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of spirit-fire. The spirits bade me lecture, the spirits bade ms stand before large public audience here, and tell the English public what should be given me to say about America. It matters not whether I speak to those who politically may have been opposed to my course or not. God’s truth and the spirit’s mode of rendering it know no politics, no sect or section. The chief success, if I may venture so to state it, of any political efforts which I have been privileged to make, has been because those efforts have been made from the stand-point of principles and not of politics. Now I have no fear of addressing you - though I love you so dearly, every one of you, that I feel that my lips should be seared before I should speak the words of unwelcome truths to you - or even tread hastily upon your prejudices, but I have no fear of doing this. I am going to speak God’s truth so far as wise spirits can give it me to say, and my own humble obedience to them can render it. And I ask you all to come and hear me - not because I feel I can enlighten you, or that you, in especial, need my teaching on this subject - but because you can strengthen me, because by surrounding me on that occasion I shall feel that I am in the hands of those who have witnessed my shortcomings, and yet feel that in my obedience to the precious masters whose I am, and whom I serve, I have been permitted to render that which of myself I could not do. We have all felt that the spirit has been amongst us here. Oh, extend to me the girdle of your affection, kindness, and sympathy amongst the strangers where I am now to be launched, and I have no fear of failure. I will offer but one pledge more in conclusion, and it is this: so long as you feel that I can be a mouth-piece for the presentation of those thoughts which find an echo in your own hearts - so long as you are seeking light from the spirit-world, and I am standing like a foot-print on its boundary, and am permitted to catch the dear voice of the spirit, feebly re-echoing it again to you - so long as I can do this during my stay in England - I am yours.

 

Question 1 January 15th, 1866