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Questions Answered Extempore by Miss Emma Hardinge 1866

 

ADDRESS  February 19th, 1866

 

“AND upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great; Mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.”

 

You may deem the passage I have selected for this night’s address, a strange one; we will ask your attention to its elaboration as the subject of the evening, however, for you will find that it bears especially on our own movement as Spiritualists, and generally on the signs of the times. It has been quoted by those who “wrest” what they call “Scripture” for their own purposes, as descriptive of the splendid hierarchy of Roman Catholicism; but we are taught that “no scripture is of private interpretation,” and that when the passage was written it applied to a period like the present - a period when men desired to array mystery against light and revelation; for though we are told by those who profess to wield the only key which opens revelation, that “there are mysteries that belong to God,” I claim there are none such, but that God’s dealing with man is one continuous and continuing stream of revelation; while man’s interpretation of God alone is mystery. “The signs of the times” are now rife with the spirit of agitation - an agitation which is stirring the very depths of the human mind, and appears from time to time on its surface in the form of change and disruption; but the restless activity of the mind which characterises the present era, is but an evidence to those who realise the ever imminent providences of God in human history, that it is His divine spirit that is moving on the face of the waters, and that His purposes are again to be outworked in the creation of a new state of order, from the chaos and void of mighty changes. In a word, I believe that there is now a great and momentous warfare pending - the warfare of Mystery and Materialism against Light and Spiritualism; a strife between the mysteries initiated by man, against the manifest purposes of God’s continuous revelation.

 

Let me quote again the passages that I have selected - “And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great; the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth.” In the final destruction of the dynasties of the once splendid Orient, in the last dying hours of the broken power of the East, in the day when all the myths of old were being weighed in the balances, found wanting, and their chains broken, in the liberty wherewith Christ made man free; in such an hour as


 

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that were those solemn words spoken to the spiritual ear of John the revelator. The same voice proclaimed that Babylon, the type of mystery “was fallen;” and these words are therefore significant, not of any special sect then in existence, or yet to be established; but of the action of man, in darkening the revelations of God in the solemn and incomprehensible form of mystery.

 

Ignorant we may be of all the profound and infinite purposes of the Creator; but their meaning is ever becoming revelation to our growing intellect - hence, there are no mysteries with God; mystery is only the invention of man, to darken out God’s counsels. Let us trace some of its onward steps, until the period when it wields its solemn sway over mankind today, and stands confronted with the new Spiritualistic movement, which is so unmistakably “the Word made flesh, and dwelling amongst men.” This Word is once more, indeed, amongst you, and would spread the light over the incomprehensible, which mystery has obscured by its dark and fatal pall. Behold, in this movement, light and darkness arrayed against each other, while the day has come when spiritual persecution wields once more the arms of mental and intellectual shafts, literary racks, and moral crucifixes; and in every form that the law and custom of the time will admit of, look to see the warriors of light, intellectual and spiritual liberty, assailed by the advocates of that mystery which is again attempting to initiate her old captivity of the human soul by the imposing plea, that, “Great is the mystery of godliness.” How idly we talk of God, and pretend to define Him, and threaten each other with His wrath; and yet, what know we of Him whom we call sometimes Allah, or Buddha, Krishna, Jehovah, God? Except, that man from his earliest intuitions of the Power unknown cries “Abba, Father?” We know no more than this; we need to know no more.

 

Our spirits witness, from one eternity to another, that there must be an adequate cause for the grand yet awful phenomena of creation - that creation, in a word, is but the effect of a mighty cause. What matters it how in any age or any form of speech we name the first Great Cause? Let the heart’s utterances testify of God, and they still will say, “Our Father!” From the hour when we wake to the consciousness of life, from the age when we feel that we have eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and our intellect is sufficiently developed to enable us to comprehend right and wrong, and the power of a law hindering and binding us about, - even when we realise a feeling of responsibility within, extending from our earthly life into the dim and untried mystery of the hereafter, - by the voice of conscience, - by all that we have ever known or felt as man, our reason has determined that there MUST BE A GOD; and we as His creatures are bound to Him in spiritual ties that express themselves in the necessity of prayer, and praise, and worship. And with this ceaseless revelation of man’s own consciousness, recognising himself and therefore his Creator, crying, “I am, O God, and therefore Thou must be,” - from this point man feels that whatsoever of earthly toil and labour his energetic nature and intellectual being propels him to do, is performed in obedience to the viewless power he worships as God, Hence, in the earliest periods of man’s existence he was a worshipper, a religious being; and in his earliest child-like state of natural intuition nearer in aspiration and inspiration to a spiritual life than now. The multitude of objects that now distract his thoughts, and engross his intellectual nature, existed not for him then. On the contrary, all was to him a vast and unknown realm; a world which, to his ignorance, was veiled in profoundest mystery. The earth whereon he trod slowly revealed to him its nature; but ever as he searched through the unfolding law of cause


 

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and effect, spring-time and harvest, growth and decay, resolved themselves from miracle into the domain of natural law, mystery receded, and science echoed the eternal cry of man’s searching mind in the ages, “Light, more light!” And ever as light came with search, a broader field of exploration opened upon his view, whose dim horizon, mystery, became plain knowledge. And thus throughout the boundless realms of nature, mystery has receded before the light of science, and science is itself God’s revelation of His laws through man. Man queried wherefore winter chilled the earth, and why the sunbeams fell with such diminished force on starving nature at certain seasons of the year? Then he must speculate why it returned to light again the earth with renewed life and vigour in the spring, and in such glorious majesty culminated to full splendour in midsummer? He asked these mysteries of nature, and no sooner would his inquisitive intellect search into the causes of change, than behold! The Light-bringer, Inspiration, speaks to his intellect through the sciences of astronomy, physics, and natural history. He turns the open page of God’s Gospel in the earth, and earth, air, sunlight, darkness, pain, and death, become his teachers, until the gathered experience of succeeding ages writes answers full in science. Age after age has each one added its monumental stone to the great cairn of Revelation until it has mounted to the skies, and rears a platform on which man standing, gauges the heavens, measures the heights of air, sounds the ocean’s depths, explores and understands his earth, and beholds what was once to him the mystery of God, His most glorious page of open Revelation!

 

Once that viewless mass of undiscovered matter which surrounds earth, the air - which is in fact composed of the elements of matter, held in solution - was to man, mere empty space, and the upheaval of mighty worlds in its thin and unsubstantial ether, was of mysteries to man the most inscrutable; and yet by search the composition of the invisible worlds of life on every side are being revealed; from thence man has drawn his knowledge of how earth’s, planets, suns, and systems move, and have their being. The ages have yielded up one ceaseless revelation through chemistry, of the mystery (for such it was to ignorance) of the workmanship of the Creator in compounding these earths, and suns, and systems. Their nature, movements, their very weight and density, are mystery no more. The creature has studied at the feet of the Creator, until all mysteries find their solution in eternal law, and prove that naught but ignorance is the horizon to the last of the revelations, that shall disclose to man the full sum and perfection of himself, his God, his cause and ultimate, - Spirit, “the Alpha and Omega” of creation.

 

Geology has declared to him step by step, in its descent to the very lowest chambers of the earth, its chemistry and wondrous construction. Science has pierced even into the central place of the fire king, and carried mind through the dim old corridors of time, until mystery has receded in the light of the living realities of the present hour; thus man, having disentombed the secrets of the past, beholds the Creator working in His works, and piercing the infinite space behind him, realises even what to the ancients was the mystery of creation. To the illuminated eye of science, there is no mystery in the starry path of the heavens. Man has trod with his Maker the milky way; and where stars and suns are the dust of this eternal road, the footprints of science have dissipated for man the mystery of starry worlds and their paths in infinity. The miscroscope and telescope alike have proved to him what vast revelations shall yet be his, when intellect and brain are sufficiently powerful to grasp yet wider vistas of creative wisdom than science has yet disclosed.


 

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And so - through pain and death, growth, decay, and all the incidents and accidents of human life - man has learned to read, through the ever-opening pages of science, the once mysterious hieroglyphs of God’s Gospel, till naught has been concealed from him that his finite being could bear. Step by step he has followed the creative hand, until at last it finishes its work sublime, within man’s sovereign mind: and only there does revelation pause; for there only the soul is baffled by the impossibility of stepping behind itself, and comprehending the mystery of spirit. Where, then, are “the mysteries that,” man declares, “belong to God?” There are none but in relation, and none there but such as man has invented.

 

Return once more to the primal ages, and trace God’s dealings with his creatures in the revealments of religion. We know that in the earliest days of man’s existence, when the knowledge of a vast though unknown power possessed the human mind, man could only realise that power as imaged in himself, or revealed in the phenomena of nature. All men have made a God in their own image. In every age, in every clime, that has been the mode of representing the power whom men have worshipped as the Creator. Something of a Grand Man has been always the human conception of God. Hence we find the ancients represented their God as pleased or offended, hasty, wrathful, repenting, or partial, and propitiated by sacrifices and homage; and therefore it was, that ancient worshippers offered such sacrifices as would be acceptable unto their princes, nobles, or men of power amongst them. They deemed of God as one of these; loving and hating, judging and changing like themselves, but always selecting as the object of His peculiar care, the theological system, and the special nation to which the worshipper belong. They deemed of Him as manifesting displeasure through the elemental strife of storm and tempest; bestowing rewards of wealth, success, and temporal advancement, in return for acts of worship and propitiatory sacrifices. We need not remind the scholar how these systems at last grew into theologies, and became established forms of worship, until, when venerable by age and custom, such forms were labelled “Sacred.” But in a working world, it became necessary that those who speculated on these subjects, and devoted time and talents to their exposition, should be exempt from the ordinary routine of life’s hard daily duties, and in short be set apart and especially devoted to interpret to the uninstructed people the mysterious and awful themes of religious belief and worship.

 

Thus the earliest forms of theology that have obtained on earth, were those that man himself has instituted. In the ancient hermitages of Hindostan dwelt seers and wise men; those who passed their lives in silent contemplation of the ways, the purposes, and possible relations with His creature - man, of the awful, the unknown God. Retired from the hum of cities to the solemn depth of sacred groves, dwelling in some lonely wilderness, or the remote recesses of some mountain cave, alone with God and Nature, listening only to the voice of the tempest, or the booming of the ocean; the thunder of the cataract, or the sighing of the summer breeze; the fervid imagination of the Hindoo solitaries might well interpret the voices of Nature into the mystic tones of Divine revealments, and in time persuade themselves that the secret purposes of the unknown powers who ruled in these dim solitudes was conveyed to them through the thousand-toned harmonies of nature.

 

Living ascetic lives, and devoting themselves wholly to acts of bodily purification and spiritual contemplation, they inevitably promoted whatever of rapport can exist


 

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between the realms of the visible and invisible worlds; hence their receptive minds became an open page of inspiration, and their physical forms the recipients of all possible variety of spiritual gifts; so that when visited by the inhabitants of the distant city, attracted to their hermitages by the mysterious awe with which their devoted lives invested them, they were often gifted with the power to heal the sick, reveal the past and future, counsel the ignorant, and astound the wise. To us, upon whom the science of mind is already beginning to dawn, the possession of such powers as these is no marvel, but results, as we can well believe, from the intimate relations which human nature sustains to the realm of Spirit, the gifts of which Nature most freely yields to those who faithfully search into her grand laboratory, and live obedient to her laws. Let the soul ask, and nature answers us with those supernal gifts that prove a source of abundant spiritual supply for all our soul’s spiritual needs. If, like the sage of old, we so live as to subordinate matter to spirit, we all may drink at the full cup of the spiritual life that is around us.

 

In process of time the fame of these ancient sages, and (to the uninstructed of their age) the report of their miraculous powers, grew into such repute that their hermitages became the centres of a new and imposing form of worship. Multitudes flocked thither to sit at the feet of these ancient men, as scholars, and hence were formed the first rudiments of public systems of religious teaching, and the basis of what subsequently became the famous order of Priesthood. From this point, too, may we date the commencement of a system of theology. The revelations of these ancient men, conveyed oft-times in language too rapt and spiritualised for the comprehension of those who sought them, impressed their ignorant and awe-struck listeners with the belief that they spoke the language of the gods and gave forth the edicts of the unknown beings whom they served. As generation after generation passed away, the persons of this ancient priesthood disappeared, but the office still remained. At first that office was filled by those only whose gifts qualified them for it; but after a while and when it was found that the inhabitants of the cities brought rich gifts, costly offerings, and sacrifices to the gods, and that the human depositories of these treasures were necessarily these self-made priests, the office of mediator between the votaries and the gods began to partake of a somewhat commercial, and finally, of a highly mundane character. The office of the dispenser of spiritual gifts was combined with that of the recipient of human gifts, and so at last it became sufficiently profitable to induce the said hermits to desire to transmit its advantages to their posterity. As they claimed to be sacred in their own persons, so of course must a sacred unction be supposed to descend to their children; and so in due process of time the office of priest became hereditary, and resolved itself into the stringent law of a sacred caste. As the influence of this powerful priesthood gradually spread through various other lands, and became a model for similar orders in other countries of the East, with all allowance for the varieties of customs and habits which obtain in different places and periods, the Hindoo solitaries and their successors and descendants may still be regarded as the founders of the once splendid and powerful hierarchy of the Oriental priesthood.

 

True, they commenced in the uplifting of the soul to its Author, and sprang into form from the inevitable demand which the spirit makes to know, commune with, and reduce the comprehension of the Great Spirit to a system of theology. I believe that spirituality is a sixth sense, and that its comprehends all the rest. I deem other senses are but the various avenues by which the sixth is instructed, and by which the outward


 

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forms of matter inform the spirit, which at last gathers up all the revelations of mere sensuous perception in the one grand realisation of its own spiritual nature and its alliance with the Great Spirit. Hence I believe that to the original intuitions of the soul religion is inevitable - religion is a part of self-consciousness, and expresses itself in the invariable forms of prayer, praise, faith, appeal, and worship. Minds there are that have worshipped atoms, and bowed down to dust. Great intellects that, by continued speculation and a keen realisation of the wonderful action of the Great Spirit through matter, have become so enamoured with the effects that they have forgotten the cause. Minds such as these exist, but they are only the abnormal growths upon the normal order of creation. Hence I do not speak of the first dawning of religion in the heart as a direct and special revelation of God to man; nor as yet as the invention of sage or priest. It is no discovery of men, nor result of theology. Theology founds upon natural religion; - religion grows not from theology. The first inquiry of the worshipping man was, to whom and after what fashion it should address the prayer with which the heart was full; and the first and most obvious forms of the large, and the great, and the powerful, in the realm of visible nature, attracted necessarily the sensuous perception of the ancient worshipper, and to this mind what was so obviously the direct source of good, what was so large, so vast, or so powerful as the wonderful luminaries of the sky? They recognised that from the sun came the invigorating warmth of summer, and the genial growth of spring, and in the decadence of its light, and heat, and power, earth languished in the cold and famine of winter. Men beheld the grand luminary in its march through the seasons, always attended by certain groups of stars which they called constellations, and to which they gave names in correspondence with their fancied configurations or influence; and, as these appeared or disappeared, so did they assume that they were subordinate powers, representatives of an invisible spiritual hierarchy of beings that inhabited them; and it is from this point, and the distribution of the heavenly bodies into groups and signs, and their association with certain supposed influences which in connection with the sun they were presumed to exercise on earth, and the destiny of its inhabitants that the earliest attempts of men to arrange religion into a system of theology sprang.

 

This theme I shall not now follow farther. Enough to note that men imagined they recognised, in the luminous scriptures of the firmament, the subordination of moon and stars to the mighty central sun, a picture of the invisible powers that rules the world through. The visible order of creation first possessed their own mind of the truth of this idea, and priests imparted it, in the ordinary modes of religious instruction, to the people. To the ignorant, who were thus, through their sensuous perception, instructed to adore the invisible and unknown Author of Creation through the mysterious phenomena of nature, such an obvious form of worship was willingly accepted; and the system of theology thus founded was believed by the people, through the teachings of their priesthood, to be the direct revelation of God and his ways. Thus, sun, moon, and stars were worshipped as the visible symbols of the powers of the universe or the creative hands that brought man into existence, and sustained and pervaded the earth; and this belief originated the peculiar system called fire-worship, which, in one form or other, underlies all the old systems of theology that existed in the early ages of mankind, - in fact in all the Oriental portions of the earth, we have some modification of this system of primeval theology. Let it not be supposed, however, that the ancients absolutely worshipped the visible form alone. To the deeply reflective mind of the Hindoo sage, a Spiritual cause alone seemed adequate to produce the wonder of creation; and the real mystery of the ancient


 

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priesthood consisted in the recognition of a spiritual and invisible presence, animating the sensuous and visible symbol.

 

In the most spiritual part of the Vedas, the Zenda-vesta, and the Pouranas, ay, even in the strange and materialistic mythology of Greece and Rome, we have the obvious recognition of an all-pervasive, spiritual cause, permeating external nature.

 

In every religion we find this spiritual idea redeeming the grossness of sensuous forms of worship. But I repeat this was the great mystery acknowledged alone by the priesthood, and by them studiously hidden from the people; and the better to veil their belief from the vulgar mind, they enclosed it within the net-work of priestly craft, and enrapt it in the solemn shroud of “sacred mystery;” and thus the spiritual idea, or true foundation of religion, was veiled in mystery, while the sensuous outward shell was dealt out by the priests at will to the credulous ignorant multitude. Did time serve, we might this night lift up the veil of Isis, and place before you a picture of the famous mysteries of Osiris and Eleusis; of the solemn rites of mystery in Tyre and Sidon; and, above all, that famous and long-preserved form of mystification which originated in the days of which we speak, and still casts its shadow on the mind of man, in the form of that pretentious mystery which asserts that the earth was founded upon a system of geometry, that the entire air was full of music, that all the grand and magnificent revelations of the Master-Workman in matter, were square, and plumb, and true, fashioned with mathematical precision and geometrical skill. And so as the discovery of these facts were deemed profound truths in nature, they must necessarily be shrouded in the veil of mystery. The world, according to these mystics, is a grand lodge, with a starry canopy and tesselated floor, a stairway leading to graduated heights, with an arched portal and columns of strength and beauty on either side. It was, and is deemed, we suppose a knowledge too high for vulgar minds to understand how, step by step, the soul ascends up the mystic stairways of knowledge, through the various degrees of inner life, until the tyro is led through the secrets of creation, and the invisible meaning of nature’s visible signs are interpreted to him, and shewn all at last to be merged in the master word of “GOD.”

 

But we know that these ideas, sublimated as they may have appeared to the priests, were, if revealed to the people, a little too comprehensible for the best interests of priestcraft. Had the real meaning of ancient theology been thus unveiled to the people, some amongst them, at least, would have been sure to understand them and become as wise as the priests themselves. No more sacrifices would then have been offered through priestly mediation; no more rites; no more hereditary priesthood, for the people would then have become their own priests. The power of the priesthood was awe and fear; the maintenance of that power was mystery; but do not let us confound the ministry of an hereditary priesthood, or one simply instructed in the ceremonials of the order, with the spiritually-gifted powers which God and nature bestow on man. History proves that though the office of the priests was hereditary, that of the PROPHET is not. The priest is of man - the prophet of God; and the two offices were seldom, if ever, combined. God’s priesthood has been composed of men like Moses and Elias, Daniel, John, and others of the Disciples, on whom the anointing oil of spiritual gifts was poured by the hand of God, their only High Priest. For the priests of the order of Melchisedee, there exists no need of initiation into those rites that darken knowledge and hide counsel from the people. They are endowed with the


 

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baptism of the Holy Spirit, and go forth to rend the veil of mystery, not to hide their light behind it.

 

But the whole of this mighty system of ancient mystery, that spread like a pall over the entire East, and wove itself around the minds of the people, sinking them in superstitious error and sensuous darkness, was destroyed by the pure and truthful revelations of the Founder of Christianity; and hence it is that He stands forth to the view of enlightened ages as “the living Word of God made flesh,” the Revelation of light and truth, and the Destroyer of all those corrupt and baneful systems of mystery that darken out the truth of God’s spiritual nature, the universality of His revelations to man, and the soul’s alliance and similarity of nature to its Spiritual Author.

 

Humanity, enamoured of His mission, still too ignorantly worships the mere name of Christ, rather than the principles He taught, or the glorious deliverance that His mission brought to the human soul; for in Him was found the light that relieved humanity from the abominations of religious mystery, and illuminated the darkness that priestcraft had woven around the mind of man. And thus we may trace through all time, by the aid of priestly craft, the work of mystery.

 

But there are priests of science and politics as well as of religion - men in all situations and all times that assume the priestly office to their fellow-men, and keep back the little knowledge they possess in the shroud of mystery, that themselves alone may monopolize its power, and dole it out in minimum proportions to mankind. Age after age some great disruptive power arises to break the chains of mystery, and in such epochs timid souls are often found wavering in the balance between the old and new. I do believe that such a disruptive era is upon us now; I do believe that, in the language of one of earth’s greatest politicians, “This is the time to try men’s souls.” To me the signs of the times are pregnant with the prophecy of a day at hand that will sorely try your souls, and try your faith. And yet, whatever may befall, if you are (in your Christian profession) in the truth, your path is clear before you. If you hear His voice, and recognise His teaching who founded your religion, he has left with you the unquestioning authority for the path which you should tread, and has sent you forth all armed to meet whatever trials come.

 

Oh, permit me then, once more, in view of what I deem to be the coming day of strife, to remind you how by the pure and simple edicts of natural religion your Master rent the veil of mystery in twain. Amongst a people who were accustomed to deem of God as “the awful Jehovah,” the terrible, the fearful - speaking to man only through the voice of storm and thunder; to a people seeking Him either in the splendour of earthly temples, searching for Him only at the foot of the burning mount or in the enactment of scenes of awe and miracle; to a people thus accustomed to deem of God, Christ spoke of the Deity by the tender and familiar name of “Father.” To a people who enacted laws for every hour of life; whose daily walks and practices - whose very garments and ablutions were all regulated by sternest law - this unanointed Priest came, fulfilling all law in the single word of “Love.” He came, too, infracting their daily laws; entering into their synagogues and reading from their scripture with unlicensed freedom. To a people who were accustomed to conceive that eternal salvation depended on the observance of mere external forms, this man came amongst them a “Sabbath-breaker” and despiser of many of their honoured usages.


 

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To those who were looking for a Messiah to come in clouds of power and splendour, amidst great thunderings and lightnings, and quaking of earth, and rending of rocks, and temples, He came, with the voice of singing shepherds - as the Child of the lowly manger; and the houseless wanderer, who had not where to lay His head. To a people that looked for a King of Glory, for a mighty and triumphant Ruler, that should dethrone all monarchs of earth, and reign for ever, He came with a following only of a few poor, humble fishermen, a lineage of poverty, and a ruler over none but Himself. To a people who scarcely knew of the dread hereafter, or only deemed of it as of some great golden heaven, or awful hell of torture, He came telling them of a heaven within the human heart, and as types of the inheritors of the kingdom He ruled over, He pointed to little children, poor outcast Magdalenes, and hated publicans and sinners. To those who were ever accustomed to deem of the law of Moses as of the only revelation of the Divine will, he presented them with all law comprehended in two little verses only; to those who deemed that God respected alone the Jews, He came bidding them go out and proclaim His gospel to all mankind; and while they insisted that the offices of religion consisted alone in priestly rites, and temple services, He pointed to the poor Samaritan, the hated of all sects among the Jews, as the type of the only true religion - the religion of human love, and Divine charity. Even to His disciples, when they would have required from all belief in Him as the only passport to heaven, He declared it was not those that cried, “Lord, Lord,” “but those that did the will of the Father in heaven,” who would be accepted of God.

 

In such teachings as these, where then is the mystery of religion? Rent was the veil, from the hour when the Man of Sorrows trod the earth, and made life practise worship, and every act a prayer.

 

I do not propose to pursue this theme further. Those who are historians may well do this by the light of the fires of persecution, and the track of the rivers of blood, that the attempt to build up once more the temple of mystery have produced. To enshrine mystery, men have hated one another in the name of religion. It is only to represent some solemn mystery in the name, or through the forms of religion, that the sword of religious persecution has been drawn, or that the spirit of fierce sectarianism has arrayed brother against brother. The day has come at last, when in the shaking of the dry bones of science, morals, politics, and social life, - when in the great inquisition of causes, old institutions and solemn mysteries are standing at the tribunal of causes. Busy, angular, one-idea’d reformers are abroad, and thinkers are let loose amongst men; reason is knocking at the door of human judgment, and demanding to be heard in the momentous trial of mystery against eternal revelation.

 

The spirit of investigation is abroad, and in aid of men’s searching inquisition into the infinite realm of causation, behold, the strange illumination of a spiritual science dawning in our midst. As yet men hardly know by what name to welcome the uninvited guest; Sectarianism shrinks from naming it “religion,” its spiritual character rebels against the materialism of science alone. The world denies it as a truth - its facts proclaim it no falsehood; and, thus, this mysterious and nameless thing has come like a thief in the night; scarce known from whence or how. It came in the year when the governments of Europe were shaken, and the dry bones of politics agitated to their very centre. It came when kings and kaisers were questioned of their power and right to rule, and the whole framework of European society was moved by a common but irrresistible spirit of change and disruption; for it was in the year 1848 that the “Spirit­


 

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knockers” first sounded their telegraphic message in the human ear; and amidst the universal spirit of agitation that shook the earth, it was then that those fires of magnetism by spirit-hand were lighted, whose illumination our own eyes have witnessed. Throughout this century the slow and silent, but inevitable revolution of human thoughts, has been onward, tending in the direction of the various kindred sciences that bear on Spiritualism. The mind has shaken itself free from the dominion of old opinions, and is become an authority unto itself in the name of awakened reason; and it has been in such a crisis in the history of psychology that the bright white banner of Spiritualism has been unfurled, calling upon every true thinker of the race, and every soul that believes in its own individual responsibility, to rally round its standard. And yet, perhaps, in the history of moral persecution and intellectual tortures, modern Spiritualism can present an almost unprecedented record. In the discovery of mesmerism, psychology, and clairvoyance - in all the reforms effected in the healing art, or the progress of science in new inventions or principles - a perpetual warfare against the new has been sustained by the conservatism which is ever battling against innovation; but because the revelations of Spiritualism, by disclosing the master-key of creation, deals with the hitherto undiscovered science of mind, and includes light, progress, and reform in every other department of being, - so has the outcry of that conservatism (whose strongholds are ignorance and whose garrisons are the repellant legions of mystery), been raised with the loudest and most universal wail that has ever yet sounded against the advance of light and knowledge.

 

By the action of magnetism and the revelations of the clairvoyant and healing mediums, the craft of the mediciner is threatened, and the mystery of disease is in danger of being superseded by the science of health. Spirit witnesses reverse the proverb that “dead men tell no tales,” and the mystery of the law is in danger of being converted into the simple processes of justice. Psychometry is a spirit police, discovering hidden crimes and prating of man’s whereabouts with its piercing and unwelcome revelations of secret life and character. The mysteries of scholasticism are outrivalled by the gifts of the spirit to the ignorant and unlearned. The phantom past and the dim untried future have both rolled back their curtain of mystery to the eye of the spirit; but, above all, the spiritual revelation is the new and universal priesthood of humanity, and by solving all the mysteries hitherto so carefully veiled from the knowledge or even comprehension of the vulgar, by adding to faith the assurances of knowledge, and superseding for the mediations of man the responsibility of the individual; by revealing all mysteries, whether of life, death, immortality, or even the awful and hitherto inscrutable mystery of God the Great Spirit; - modern Spiritualism, by setting the seal of light and complete revelation upon the edicts of religion, has challenged the invincible animosity of every religionist whose faith or doctrine is the ally of mystery. It is as the foe of all mystery or craft monopoly, that Spiritualism has been so loudly and universally assailed. If the image-makers of Ephesus raised their cry against the new teaching of Christianity eighteen centuries ago, for fear only of their single craft of image-making, need we marvel that all classes of craftsmen, who profit by the ignorance of the people, and grow rich and powerful by keeping their craft a mystery from the masses, now join in the universal shout of “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!” for I maintain it is to earth’s mystics only, to those whose craft consists of mystery, whether in science, politics, morals, or religion, that we owe the shafts of hate and scorn, persecution and ribald sneer, that now are launched so freely against Spiritualism.


 

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Is there any one of you that has seen the fading form of father, mother, companion, or child pass from your side into the unrelenting grasp of death? Have you watched these beloved ones day by day grow weaker and fainter, the eye’s lustre fade, the waxen impress of inevitable decay steal over the pale white cheek and faded brow? Physicians’ skill, love, wealth, all - all fail then, and nothing can keep back the parting soul from the great mystery of the unknown hand, which seems to be tugging at the silver cords of life with the mighty power that mortal hand would vainly strive to restrain; and when the last dread hour of parting came at length, and you have laid your dead away, and felt that a star was gone out from heaven, and that once familiar voices were grown strange to you; and the streets were cold, and the house was empty, and something was missing that had changed the whole tone and current of your life, what would you have given if you could then have been told that the dead was by your side, a glorious transformed angel? Widow! if you could have known that your strong companion still was there, and that the world’s cold shafts that they hurled at you were heard and noted; that there was a power guarding you stronger even than the arm of flesh - Country, that hast mourned thy patriots! couldst thou have known that, not removed from earth, but in the brighter counsels of the better land they still laboured for earth, and poured their glorious influence upon the land they loved, repeating themselves a thousandfold in their tides of spirit inspiration - Fathers! mothers! friends! Would you not have hailed such a mighty revelation, even as the rolling back the stone from the gates of death, and the soul’s eternal triumph over the dreadful grave?

 

And yet, look abroad, and listen to the welcome earth has given to the spirits; look at the representation of public opinion in your daily papers, and see what greeting these risen souls have found, whose power and strength and glorious influence is being poured on the scorners’ heads in angelic guardian ministry. To the messengers who bring the glad tidings, they cry, “Disturb not the ashes of the dead. Back with thy shades to the sepulchre! back into the darkness of the tomb! Tell us not of the soul, except as sleeping in the dim repose of the endless night, whose awakening is the trump of judgment! What care I to hear of the spirit I once so fondly loved! Father, mother, brother, sister, child! Dead they are all: trouble me not with them! How dare man seek to penetrate the darkness of the tomb? Does not the Church forbid, and declare that life and death are the mysteries that belong to God? I answer, “There are no mysteries with God!”No, not even the mystery of death; for God Himself has promised “There shall be no more death,”and Spiritulism is the fulfilment of that glorious truth. But even yet, beneath that awful spell of mystery, men senselessly fear the very beings whom they once best loved; and from those whom a few short days ago they would have clasped with tenderest passion to their hearts, they now shrink back with dreadful fear and loathing.

 

The necessity for preserving the crafts of mystery and maintaining power over the human mind through its awful shroud, has thus arrayed a vast moral warfare against modern Spiritualism. Modern Spiritualism! do we call it? It is but another phase of the eternal revelation of Him who from the beginning of this earth’s existence as a planet cried, “Let there be light.” And steadily and inevitably nature has obeyed the charge, and every age has been fraught with growing light. Who, then, denies us light, but human mystics? There is not a realm in the varied departments of nature but it has yielded to our search for light and revelation;t here is not a mystery hidden in the bosom of the Father but it has given up its secret to man’s inquisition. Tell us, is there


 

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aught that the Father keeps back from the child? as of the silent stars. We have read their record in the vast eternity from whence they come, and mystery hides that shining page no more; we have torn the clasps asunder, and read the heavens as a book. Ask for the earth. Its secrets are our own. No other boundary has the Creator set, but our ignorance, to the full disclosure of all the wonders of its many-hued creation. Where we have not searched, the mysteries of God incite us to investigation; and His unknown is but a fresh demand upon our inquisition, which day by day is answering us with knowledge.

 

We speak idly of “the great mystery of our own being.” Are we not compelled to comprehend by the phenomena of magnetism, mesmerism, clairvoyance, and psychometry, what the mystery is that the moderns vaguely call the “life principle” and the ancients sought in vain in the philosopher’s stone, and the elixir vitae? And such knowledge as this gradually dawns upon us, and that almost without our seeking it. The eternal stream of revelation is ever flowing onwards, and the human mind is irresistibly borne on its current. Where then is the man that dares stand up between the creature and the Creator, and darken out God’s counsel? None such there are, save those who believe that their interest consists in mystery. The day is at hand, when “the war in heaven,” again will be enacted. The dragon of mystery again finds himself arrayed against Michael, the light-bringer, in this modern revelation.

 

Those who can read aright the perturbed and phenomenal signs of the times perceive the hour is near at hand when your faith will be sorely tried; and in view of this we ask you to search into your own lives, and by the experiences of your reason, to determine your answer. Question whether there is aught of mystery in the ways of God; whether there is evidence of purpose in the great Revelator of the universe, to place one single boundary between Himself and you in your search into His ways and purposes. Follow your inquisition into ALL your systems; into your churches, faith, and doctrines, formulas and creeds. And if you fear to do this, lest the sacred mysteries of Christianity be invaded by the searching scrutiny of reason, go back in spirit with the Master to Jerusalem; tread with Him the hill-top and the plain; follow Him with His disciples through their pure and sinless lives, and you will find the path of religion was simple daily practice. Go to the temples of great nature and worship with them the Father whom we feel although we see Him not, save in His creature’s image. If you still must trust in any name but God’s, why, trust if you will in Christ. You never can place your faith in any name, or word, or form of revelation more bright, more true, more pure, or more divine, than the Spirit that is so named; but only trust in Him for the truths that He revealed, and because He taught the truth; because His teaching is the key that unlocks the truths of all religions; because in Him there is no mystery; because in Him we perceive the great and mighty revelation of the Infinite One preparing us against the attempts of man to make a mystery of true religion. I have ventured thus to warn you, I repeat, from the deep prophetic feeling of this hour, that the time is now at hand to try your souls. If your faith be not based upon the Rock of Ages - Truth - the waters of affliction, the tempests of adversity, and the storms of human opinion, will surely sweep away your faith. Depart from this chamber, then, each one resolving to follow out a true self-inquisition. Search into every mystery; and be sure where there is mystery there is either ignorance in yourself or human wrongs to hide. There are secret societies abroad to-day. What are they? All secret societies were founded in the supposed necessity of keeping light from the people. They were assumed to be necessary for the perfection of human brotherhoods;


 

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and in some sort, and in this respect at least, they have done their work. They have bound the brother’s hand with a stronger grip of charity; united man to man, and fulfilled the duties of kindness and human fellowship. But their mission now is ended. If they have done all this, they have only proved in this day of revelation how truly they belong to the whole world, and should be secret societies no more. If they have done all this, the good that they have effected belongs to all humanity. The ancient myth, the idea, it may be the allegorical representation of truth which they attempted to enshrine in mystery, is now the understanding of the age. We know God dwells not in the sun nor stars nor moon, nor is He alone revealed in the order of the seasons, but He is everywhere and in all things.

 

No occasion now exists to enshrine in mystery the knowledge of a Spiritual God, and give to the people the crude husks and forms of external ceremonials only; and therefore the theories and supposed necessities upon which secret societies are founded, exist no more. It is not against these alone that I would plead, but against all forms of mystery that darken knowledge. Distrust them wherever you find them, and when they would repel you from clasping hands with the spirit, when they would tell you to beware lest you subvert religion, injure the Church, and wrong the secret “mysteries of godliness,” tell them you mean to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith God hath made you free;” that in Him there is no mystery; and that if there were, the light-bringers have come this day through the hosts of modern Spiritualism to rend that veil of mystery, and again roll back the stone from the grave in disclosing the realisation of immortality. Tell them they come to bring us face to face with the consequences of our earthly lives, and produce at our spirit circle, before our very eyes, and in the revelations of our own firesides, the evidences, as well as the conditions, of the soul hereafter. The last shreds of this veil of mystery are destroyed, and in its place are the shining robes of the hosts of bright immortals! Why do men fear this Spiritual revelation, except it is because it comes to widen the church gates, and to let all humanity in? Unless it is because it erects a broad temple where every living creature with sense and reason and comprehension may worship God and know Him for Himself. It comes to brotherhoods to open the lodge gates and extend the grip of human charity to every creature upon whose brow is the stamp of manhood. Who, then, but the votaries of mystery need fear or scoff, or seek to drive back the light of modern Spiritualism? We, at least, however the world may fail to realise it, should turn to the great and wondrous revelation of the future which shone before the inspired eye of John in Patmos, and whilst we cry with him that mystery is “the mother of all the abominations of the earth” - the great Babylon in whose streets is found the blood of the saints, and enmity ever to the progress of truth and revelation - let us, like the brave Apostle, war against mystery with the broad, bright light of spiritual truth and knowledge which this age has even so abundantly poured out on all mankind. When mortals aid the bright immortals in this work, we, too, shall echo the angelic proclamations of old, that “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, is fallen!”

 

ADDRESS  February 26th, 1866