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Questions Answered Extempore by Miss Emma Hardinge 1866

 

ADDRESS  MARCH 12th, 1866

 

[MISS HARDINGE was requested to deliver an Address on any subject she might select.]
 

MARTŘOM

 

WE take advantage of this privilege to present you with a strange, and perhaps it may seem at fırst a repulsive, subject. We desire to speak to you to-night on the subject of martyrdom and the questions that grow out of it, not only with reference to its causes here on earth, but its results in spirit-land. Far away across the wide waters of two oceans a voice of pleading has come, that here, in this chamber where we are gathered together as the pioneers of a science whose origin we scarcely comprehend, whose ultimate we cannot foresee - that here, as a centre of power which should go out from this place into the world, and, perhaps, as a grain of mustard seed, grow into a mighty tree, - I say a voice of pleading has come to your speaker, that the record should be made here to-night that may go back again to those who dearly love her and trust her words, and believe that she can interpret a great and mighty grief, and say why the fair and good untimely perish miserably - why the fıres of martyrdom are permitted to enclose, as a burning winding-sheet, earth's best, most beautiful and good - where the guardian angels are that should protect the loved and sinless ones from the grasp of the destroyer in some dark and hideous form of death - why God permits the unjust to triumph over the just - why man is not only suffered to strive against the powers and principalities of a spiritual and material life, and too often left to struggle vainly against the evil of both worlds, but why the hand of brother man is so often stretched to crush him down. In a word, what and why is martyrdom? We know that age after age this question has been asked. We have put it to our theologians; they answer, "It is the will of God." We ask the Materialists, and they tell us "It is inevitable fate" -"a destiny that none can turn aside." We question the Spiritualists, and even they marvel, when so many times the whisper of the guardian angel comes and warns one back from death, or some fate of misery perhaps worse


 

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than death, why this voice is dumb to other ears - why all are not alike protected by the ever-watchful power of ministering spirits. And questions more than this grow out of the mystery of martyrdom. We all ask, - What of the spirit violently driven forth from its earthly tenement? what of those who should drop like ripe fruit in the fullness of old age, and learn all of life’s experiences that earth can give? Perhaps the answer to this question may by some be rendered in the teaching of “re-incarnation,” assuming that back to earth the spirit roams that has failed in the mission that earth alone can give. But despite all attempts of sage or philosopher to solve the mystery, age after age we see the bright and beautiful untimely perish - some “leaping to heaven from fiery graves,” and some going out in torture or a sea of blood; and still the question follows them - “Perhaps they live again, and do perform their earthly mission, earthbound as they needs must be, in re-incarnation?”

 

Questions such as this have hovered on men’s lips from age to age, and now find expression in the voices that have pleaded with your speaker to leave some record here concerning the teachings of those spirits who prompt your speaker’s utterances on the vast and vexed questions of the necessity, providential action, and spiritual results of martyrdom. And first, in the wise and beneficent laws that rule the universe, can we discover what is the cause of martyrdom? where exists its origin? and what is its effect upon the human soul beyond the vast unknown which mortal eye vaguely seems to scan in a spiritual hereafter? Let us call to mind the definition which we must apply to the term “a martyr.” A martyr is one who suffers unjustly - one who has not earned in his own person the penalty that is forced upon him. It is no explanation of God’s providences, in this form of unjust suffering, to reply, with Moses, “that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children.” We know that this is true, but this is not enough for reason; we know that day by day we pass earth’s martyrs in our city streets. Not only those are martyrs whose dark and dreadful fate has set them up on some earthly Calvary, for all to behold their doom; there are martyrs in this chamber, broken hearts, in whom the racks and thumbscrews of life are tearing away, piece by piece, the joy and brightness and blossom of earth. There are martyrs everywhere: - men who strive against man’s injustice; and, with stern poverty, or wrong, or misery in some form of other, bend beneath the yoke, that they themselves have not through sin or crime, fashioned for themselves. How many meek and suffering ones there are who stand in the presence of earth’s judges, and hear the shouting multitude choose a Barabbas and reject a Jesus! There are yet others who have knelt with righteous Stephen, and felt the stones of persecution, hate, and loathing crushing them down to death, even at the very hour when all might see the angelic light of heaven in shining glory on their bleeding brows. Oh! Why is this?

 

Turn we to the eternal revelation of God’s providence in universal laws, and let us inquire what this declares to us in answer.

 

We know that the progressive light of science is bringing us face to face with the causes that move around us in the effects of life and action through all the grand phenomena of nature, and by investigation of these we find we are enclosed in a network of eternal law. We behold on every side the strange and erratic manifestations of nature, so very varied, and yet so constant - constant in cause, yet varied in effect. We know that though the heaving tides shall ever return at certain periods, they never return to any exact spot with the same force, nor dash on the pebbly shore with the selfsame measure of power that marked the preceding wave.


 

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And yet, notwithstanding the infinite variety of nature’s phenomena, which age by age is fraught with change, and rolls on in the eternal march of progress, pointing man, sun, stars and planets ever upwards and onwards, never pausing, never retrogressing, - amidst all this, we trace the action of eternal law. We are prepared, then, to accept of the belief that between the laws appropriate to each, matter and spirit move eternally. I believe these laws apply to each, and may be called two sets of laws; the one of which is physical, or those which are manifest upon and through matter: the other is a set of moral laws, and bind and regulate the Psyche or soul. Both move on harmoniously; are often related, but are never found clashing with each other. In the physical universe, we find that the largest as the smallest atom in nature is the subject of laws which govern matter generally; and yet beneath the influence of mind, the more we consider the nature of the elements with which we deal, the more we arrive at the inevitable conclusion that we, as beings endowed with a power superior to matter, govern and control it, and are destined to be God’s viceregents on earth in subjecting it to our will and use, always provided that we understand the law that hinders and binds and governs matter. Just in as far as we comprehend this law, all things and all elements are our servants. Where we fail, they master and destroy us. Search as we will for precedents to find some partial providence infracting law, we search in vain. The fire will burn - the water drown - the falling mass will crush us. If we comprehend the nature of the elements, I repeat, they are our subjects; we control them ever. What are these wondrous manifestations of fire, heat, light, and electricity? We know they are imponderable elements that resolve themselves into one cause, and that cause - motion. As we comprehend the causes by which motion elaborates all these varieties of one primary element, as we understand that it is the same matter appearing in different states of motion, as we begin to comprehend this law, so we hold the key that enables us to guide and regulate the results; and just so long as, by your wisdom or our caution, we place ourselves in harmonious relations with them, just so far are we safe from all the penalties which so often destroy us, and which we so ignorantly assume to be “the will of God.” When we consider the infinite beneficence of that Being, the vast and boundless realm of power in which He permits man to act, in which His wisdom and love have endowed us with the authority of ruling creation, I call this charge upon the Deity scarcely less than blasphemous, and but the result of that excessive ignorance that fails to perceive how God works through law. When we murmur, then, against the eruptive earth, or the leaping fire, the quaking ground beneath us, the yawning gulf that swallows up the city, the whelming wave that encloses in its watery winding-sheet the saint and the sinner both, - when we deplore that the leaping flame tortures the bright and the beautiful as cruelly as the wicked and worthless, - while the falling mass crushes the evil and spares not the good, - when we consider all the “accidents,” as we term them, of life, the catastrophes and calamities, storm and tempest, that have destroyed at least one­third of the human race, that God has fashioned with such wondrous care, - we can at last arrive at but one conclusion, and that is, that man may and does by wisdom control the powers of elemental nature, or in his ignorance must be controlled by them.

 

When we comprehend the nature of our planet; when, step by step, we arrive at the knowledge of matter, and by the sciences of geology, chemistry, and the workmanship of the great laboratory that is fusing and still composing and re-composing earth’s crust, fashioning unborn islands, and preparing for the upheaval of unborn continents, and, by the eternal law of action and reaction, now engulfing cities and consuming


 

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towns, we find that, large as is the sphere of knowledge in which we must search to comprehend the causes of all this vast and awful realm of change, wisdom can learn, science reveal, and mind can, comprehending, adjust itself to meet it. There is no mystery with God: with Him all is light and revelation, and as the sciences are systematised by the mind of man, and as page after page of the grand revelation of creation is unfolded to his view, he compasses, first, the knowledge of the catastrophic action of elemental life on earth; and, next, the power to govern it. Thus much for the physical laws: and observe, they regard not, or are ever turned aside to respect the moral law. The fire consumes the saint and sinner alike: the water drowns the fairest and the best, as well as the most repulsive: the falling tower crushes the forms of saints; and the engulfing earth clasps in its dread embrace the tender infant or the aged sire. No matter what be the virtue, pre-eminence, or excellence of the moral law manifest through the victims of ignorance, physical laws act with their stern and unyielding force on all alike.

 

Even so do I claim that there is an inevitable and immutable chain of law in the realm of morals. Age after age we have sought for the source of crime; we have fancifully traced its action back to a failure of the Creator - assumed that the Great Machinist of existence was insufficient for His work. Like the ancients, we have endeavoured to solve the problem of evil, as we term it, and shouldered it at last upon the Supreme Being. We now begin to understand something of the physiology of sin, and to discover that there is an intimate relation between the chemistry of every atom and its results upon human character. We thank mesmerism, clairvoyance, phrenology, but, more than all, bright, revelating Spiritualism, for the assurance that that imponderable “nerve aura,” “life principle,” or “magnetic force,” which connects spirit and matter, is charged with the nature of both; that the outward form and the internal character are both represented through the magnetic sphere, both represented on the external form of the cranium, both represented to the eye of the clairvoyant, not as the mere mask of human flesh and blood, but as the dark or the bright spirit. We find, by all the various glimpses of revelation that precede the dawning of the one grand science of mind, that at last we are beginning to discover wherefore the solemn course of Moses on sin was pronounced as “inevitable in its descent from father to son, and onward through succeeding generations. Every characteristic of the human mind has a corresponding effect in matter. Every physical inharmony of the human system has its inevitable expression in mind; and thus it is that we may understand why our city streets present such dark and deformed specimens of human nature. The correlative sciences of mind and matter, studied together, reveal the causes that underlie crime, and treat the soul as the physician treats the body, as morally sick rather than wilfully wicked. And thus we learn that there is any inevitable moral law that grows out of the physical, and that all nations, complexions, and even characters originate in law; that all inhabitants of varied soil and scenery, as well as of various grades and strata of humanity, the dwellers of our gutters and cellars, no less than of our palaces and saloons, are, in part, the results of the surroundings and the circumstances that first bind them about in a set of physical conditions, and then represent themselves in moral states.

 

And now let us proceed to consider how the force of these two sets of laws act upon the question of martyrdom. When we remember who and what earth’s martyrs were; when we take our stand in the day of the brightest and purest revelation that was ever given to man, and in memory behold face to face that sinless Being whose every act was a benefaction, who walked amongst men to bless who gave of His love and pity


 

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to every living creature, and hear the wild cry of an insensate multitude, demanding the life of a murderer and rejecting Him; when we see the edict of so-called human justice branding on that brow the doom of malefactor, and writing innocence upon a wretch who, as murderer, was man’s direst enemy, we need seek deep in the mystery of the human heart, and search for the tangled skein of laws that stultify some human consciences, to discover the springs of hatred, envy, jealousy, and bigotry, that could prompt such dark obliquity of moral vision to reason, sense, and justice; and yet we know the love and law of crime is stamped upon some human natures as surely as virtue is upon others. From what other stand-point can we contemplate the scenes at Calvary, the judgment hall of Pilate, and the mockery at the cross? The law of bad natures, bad organisations, of cruelty and injustice, is as stringent as the nature of consuming fire unchecked, or whelming waters unrestrained. And when we heed the stern necessity by which our spirits are related here on earth to matter, our spirit, pure in its essence, unitary (as I believe) in its origin, but when associated with matter, compelled to progress from the very lowest to the very highest conditions, when we behold human nature in all these stages of progress, we must expect to see these undeveloped states of mind as surely as we know the unlovely root must precede the life of the fully-blossoming plant. The hour must come when we Spiritualists must understand this physiology of crime, and realise that those who inflict martydom upon man, that those who have stained the history of religion with fire and blood and persecution, who have haled the blessed and bright and beautiful to the stake, and who, age after age, have sacrificed whole hecatombs of human life, are as much the creatures of inevitable law as the pure victims whom they sacrificed. But mark here: though I claim that tendencies to crime and cruelty are stringent laws of certain inharmonious organisations, sometimes inherited and sometimes shaped the time and place and circumstances, I also would remind you that it is for us to obtain a conquest over the elements by a knowledge of their physical laws; that as we progress in wisdom, and ascend from the ages of barbarian to civilisation by a study of the elements, until last we make them our servants, even so must we deal with the moral law. We must not flinch from the question and evade responsibility, or fear to look causes, laws, effects, and true philosophy calmly in the face. We find the evil is a portion of the development of the race; but we have no more right to permit it to be stationary, than we have to suffer the fire to consume us, or the waters to drown us for want of wisdom to control them. Remember, that with every catastrophe in nature, and every suffering that results from our ignorance, we grow daily wiser. It is by the action of fire, the yawning earth, and the destroying lava, that we have first begun to understand the chemistry and composition of our earth. Warned by the destroying power of lightning we have discovered the mode to master it, and apply it in the uses of science. It is by the wail of the drowning mariner and the shriek of the victims engulfed in the destroying wave that we have improved our systems of navigation, charted and mapped out the dangerous paths of the whelming ocean, and prepared vast ships, with ever-improving powers, to guard against the wrecks of past experiences, whose very ruin has been our teacher. Whatever conquests we have thus achieved, whether in fire or air, ocean or earthly perils, has been the result, in part at least, of physical martyrdoms. Goaded on by suffering, we have learned at last that either the elements must control us, or we them. What has been the result? Do we stand idly by and complain of the fierce storm, while we bow before it? Do we suffer the tempest to sweep us away or the fire to consume us without seeking to master it? Not so. There is not a single point of history but what is fraught with the benefits that have grown out of this system of teaching.


 

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I have dwelt on this before: I revert to it now to illustrate my affirmation that the same system is demanded of us in dealing with the moral law. We have been content to suppose that the mind was beyond our control, but that it was an erratic, wayward, masterless thing - perhaps too sublimated for us to comprehend, much less to control, subject to no laws which we could understand. We have taught that as sin was amongst us we could only submit to it, or at most restrain or punish it. I claim that if we study the science of mind, morals, and the inharmonious conditions of the human soul, as outgrowths of the bad conditions of the human frame, the physiology of sin as a corollary of the physiology of disease, if we attempt to comprehend and deal with the fine lines of demarcation that separate sanity from insanity, and reason from passion, we shall find that there is as much a science in mind, and a law of morals that we can guide, rule, control, and improve upon, as there is a law for every atom of matter in creation. How changed would be our systems then for the prevention of crime! Instead of the art of the mediciner legislating alone for disease of the physical frame, we should institute moral hospitals for the soul, and gaols and penitentiaries would become infirmaries for sick intellects and diseased and poisoned minds. What possible benefit would you Spiritualists gaining the advancement of your belief from hurling unoffending beings into the destroying fire because they believe not as you do?

 

You smile at such a mode of propagandism; apply this to the whole of the dark and calamitous history that stains the page of religion; ask why other men did so, and you do not. Will you not urge that you have seen the light, and understand the cause of sin; that you comprehend the nature of the human mind, and realise that it is a flower not yet unfolded, and that the spirits of all living creatures are destined for perfection; that each one is running his race, and somewhere on the great harp of creation, from the lowest bass to the highest treble, the angel of experience is striking life’s strings, and that, in the infinite variety of tones, the oratorio of creation is produced?

 

Thus do you reason: can you not comprehend, then, that the lack of the light which you enjoy has produced the ages of moral darkness we deplore? Can we not understand, that if the motive power of cause produces one set of results, their absence necessarily engenders another set? By the analysis of mind do we not realise that now, as ever, we are, and have been ever, under the dominance of law; that mind is the result of its association with matter, and its necessary growth through various conditions of place and scene and time and circumstance? Students of psychology in this age, we know that the psychology of one bad man’s thought poisons the universe; and even the power and magnetic life of one good and pure mind, one sigh of pity, one gentle wish, one tender purpose (though it may be baffled) - all these are in the air which all men breathe, and make all nature better for their life. One secret whole heart wish for good, is like the little violet in the hedge-row, that mortal eye has never seen, but yet its fragrant breath is in the air, and makes earth better because it has lived and died. Comprehending the vast array of subtle forces that act through nature upon mind, we need to be very merciful in our construction of poor human nature; need to determine how much of stern law elaborates the bad man’s acts: but still, having done this, let us next deal with his evil. It is not because we know the cause, that we should neglect the effects; we must apply not only one science, but many, in the reform of our criminal minds, ere we can hope to prevent the development of evil minds in evil acts, or restrain this upas tree of crime from imposing the horrors of


 

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martyrdom upon our fellow men. And yet let our ways, like our judgment, be fair and equal; let us search into our own natures, and ask wherefore we hear, and read, and admire the gentle loving spirit of Him we call The Master, and yet fail to do what He commanded us? We answer, we cannnot. Wherefore not? Because we have not the organisation that has grown to this; because we have not the motives that impel our minds to this; because there are too many inharmonies within ourselves, and these appear in angularities of character that jostle one another, instead of fitting in with all that kind and loving gentleness that masks a human brotherhood. But yet a law applied may work the cure; and I would here revert to one of the former Addresses delivered in this place, on the example of secret societies, and the law of brotherly kindness and charity that there compels even the bad man to become the subject of the fraternal bonds that bind the whole. I would ask, if this can be done in one heterogeneous society of men, why not in the whole human family? I would ask, if a law that is thus binding upon the few, cannot become so upon the many? I do not ask for the system of restraint, nor a bond, nor an oath to compel us to be obedient to the highest law; but I do ask that we, as professing thinkers, shall give to the world the system of psychology proved in spiritual communion, whose revelations of the law of mind will throw its radiative light on every subject of human weal and woe, which originates in the influence of mind, or impresses itself upon the human consciousness.

 

Not long since, in point of earthly time - though, perhaps, as we shall show you, very long in spirit-life and its peculiar mode of registering periods - there were two thousand of the purest and most beautiful blossoms of mortal life gathered together in a solemn place of worship, for the holy purpose of tendering praise and prayer to God in religious service. There were to thousand of the youngest and most sinless girls (so says report), the most loved and lovely portion of the population of the city of Santiago, met to worship God, perhaps not in your peculiar fashion, nor yet in mine. They may have called on God after some other mode than we do: they may have knelt, or stood, or uttered their orisons in some other language than our own, but their spirits were moved upon by the same Spirit that moves on us, and their appeal to the great Father was made after the same heart impulses that inspire our prayers, and so went up to the same throne of mercy as we say needs our prayers. And yet men say that at that special time and in that special place the God of Santiago failed or forgot his worshippers. As they prayed on that dreadful night and in that place of doom, the leaping flame surrounded them. The voice of prayer was choked by clouds of wreathing smoke, driven back in the throats of scorching victims by waves of fire, and the anthem of praise concluded in the dying shrieks of two thousand burning, tortured, writhing creatures, roasted alive in the very act of prayer. For some thirty ghastly minutes a vast and heterogenous mass of agonised humanity, tossing in seas of fire, torn limb from limb, in frantic struggles to escape - crushed, mangled and hideously charred by fire and scalding blood, writhed, shrieked, contorted, blazed and midst the roar of flames, death wails, and echoing yells of horror from within and without - all miserably perished. The flames sank down upon those blackened, stark, and moveless forms, sobbed out their muttering wail, and went out for lack of life to feed them. Slowly and dolefully the hideous pall of wreathing smoke ascended to the high, groined arches of the distant roof, then settled, like a curling, mocking, giant monster, over the awful wreck of charred black forms that it left below; and then - why, then - the hour of martyrdom was done, and all was over! A few handfuls of undistinguishable cinders, a few dark, ghastly shapes, half human and half formless mass of ashes, and that was all of the largest, fairest, loveliest portion of the mourning


 

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city of Santiago! Those who gazed with seared eyes and bursting hearts on that miserable wreck were glad - ay, glad! - when all was still; glad when the crash of that most dire death anthem that ever wailed in mortal ears was hushed; glad that the black hour of the dreariest martyrdom that ever racked the form of dying mortality was done. But, oh! the awful memory of that wild half hour of the reign of fiery death! Oh, the thought of the martyrs who endured it! Back, back, wild tortured fancy! Nor ever let the nameless horrors of that scene stretch the racked mind to think what they endured, or what they felt in that wild and fearful spell of fiery death till all was done, and the martyrs were at rest. And then how many were the voices that went up in demand to God to know why He had thus dealt with his good and sinless children; for though men could not wrestle with their Deity, by their murmurs, fierce, wild questionings, and unreasoning charges on the God of doom, did they not accuse him of the deed of death? How many amongst the suffering survivors of that mourning city spoke of the hour of death as proceeding from man’s folly, carelessness, and ignorant violation of law, as the cause of this great woe? Few, few were those who thus knew how to think or reason! “God’s inexorable will,” “the Holy Virgin’s wrath,” or some supernature or miraculous act of a supernatural world, were the chief causes which ignorant superstition could assign for so mighty a physical mistake of ignorant and superstitious man.

 

A few short weeks ago, the public heart was wrung by the tale of a sinking ship, an overwhelming storm, and hundreds of shrieking human forms engulphed in the tossing billows of a tempest-torn ocean grave. The scene, far, far away from here, was witnessed by some agonised survivors of the fatal wreck. A fair young mother, and a gentle boy, clinging in desperate anguish to a shivering spar were heard to cry to guardian angels for protecting care - and still they died, died miserably. A long protracted night and day’s fierce agony rolled over their martyred heads, and still they were heard to cry for pity to their guardian angels and when the tale was told, and these piteous utterances were recorded in the sneering sceptic ear, they said - “Can Spiritualists thus perish? What is the use of spirits if they cannot save their votaries?” None answered them with “Where was God? Or why did he not save? Or how could finite spirits do what the Infinite had not willed?” But Spiritualism answers for God and spirits both. The history of the universe reveals no precedent wherein ‘tis shewn that physical laws were ever turned aside for moral ones. The moral law which would have prompted tender friends, or loving guardian spirits, to have saved the mother and child from death, could not prevail against the storm/s unyielding power which rendered their salvation all impossible. If spirits ever save their human charge from death or accident, some physical combination of favouring circumstances aids them; but without this, spirit no more can turn aside the whelming force of nature’s eternal laws. God breaks not these Himself, and yet we even claim of spirits what we dare not ask of God. We demand of our guardian angels, what the Infinite power that rules the universe cannot or does not do - namely, to infract his supremest laws. There is no change in them, and, therefore, such scenes as I describe (and such as all our memories will supply us with), whether they arise from accidents in nature, from the ignorance that places us in false relations with the elements, or from the wilful infliction of suffering by men, all and each take place by the direct agency of God’s eternal law.

 

And the law of morals acts in one more direction, of which I shall speak to night: and this is in the law of retribution. I have claimed that the martyrdoms of human nature


 

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are our best teachers. We all know that hunger, suffering, poverty, distress, and all the pains and penalties that toil and labour force on man, have been the motive powers for elaborating the genius of the race. Poet, artist, and musician have produced their sweetest music, painted their noblest gems of art, and written their finest epics beneath the stimulus of hard necessity. Sometimes, indeed, they have perished in their martyrdoms from out our midst, but they have left the noble tributes of their genius as evidence of the flowers that bloom in the bitter atmosphere of cruel pain - earth’s stern but inexorable cultivator. Inventions, arts, and sciences have sprung from the suffering people. The non-producers, alas! having no need, have also little energy to labour. The intellectual wealth of history has, it is true, grown from out the ranks of those whom time and leisure compel, by the very martyrdom of indolence, and the pains and penalties of idle wealth, to labour in some direction; even luxurious indolence becomes a burden, and so we have our Newtons, Herschels, and those whose minds can pause in contemplation and silent leisure on the wonders of creation; but, even then, the weariness of leisure is often the goad which prompts the mind to labour.

 

Thus all the pains and penalties of life, whether in poverty or wealth, have elaborated themselves in the noblest works of art, the progress of science, and the gradual discovery of those realms of ever-widening natural beauty that only yield their revelations to the worker.

 

But there is yet another kind of martyrdom, whose fruit we too must analyse. What of those who have laboured in our midst and borne the shafts of bitter persecution? Such men as Mesmer, who gave to the world a priceless gift, and laid the foundation of the noblest science that ever yet has lit the ages; for mesmerism is the opening of the gates of Spiritualism, the discovery of the mystery of life; and by the understanding of that mysterious power which Mesmer at last discovered to be identical with life, or vital magnetism, we have the key to the whole philosophy of ancient and modern miracles, and the telegraphic force of spiritual communion: and yet, when we ask how mankind has rewarded Mesmer, we have the old tale of base ingratitude - a life of persecution, a death of neglect, and poverty. And Mesmer’s is the fate of thousands gone before, and feebly halting after him. Our city streets are full of such: the poets, who die for very want of bread, whom posterity will enshrine in useless bronze and marble; musicians, whose starved and hungry faces make our own grow pale to gaze at - haunting our path, beseeching bread, for the very notes we shall chant with immortal honours on their names when they are starved and dead.

 

Kind Heaven! why we jostle our martyrs in the city streets each hour, and know them not! we see them go down to nameless graves, and ages hence the world shall all be changed, and the surface of society shall be alight with their resurrected genius! Regard the flame that meets your eye this night; the light that conquers darkness. What a glorious invention is this light! and yet, do you hear the shouting multitude giving honour and doing homage to him who discovered gas? Few even know his name. And such is the fate of half life’s unknown martyrs. Our only question then must be, since earth denies them justice, what is the result upon their spirits in the great hereafter? I propose to answer this question in an allegory - by one of those word-pictures by which the ancients used to signify a deeper meaning than the blunt rebuke or pointed individual appeal.


 

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They say that long ago a fair and tender wife died in the arms of the husband of her love. He had been her idol - the joy and star of life - her only earthly hope or thought or occupation. And when this tender wedded pair beheld the inevitable hour of doom that was to part them, their souls alike were torn with speechless anguish. She passed, and left her mourning love with all the light and joy of life departed. She carried with her to the spirit-world naught but the memory of him whom she had loved. She stood (so says the fable which I quote) at the gates of Paradise, a risen spirit, and, still deploring her lost love, sought for her place within the land of the blest; but ere she entered, the judgment angel pointed to the book of life, and thereon she read recorded all the faults and unconsidered sins of her earthly life; there she beheld, with wonder and amazement, how very few, how small and scarcely worth the noting were the good deeds she had done. Poor idle careless child! They had not told her of the worth of life: she pleaded this, but it was all in vain - the stern, immutable moral law was on her. She must learn there was no royal road to heaven; she must live all of life in positive experience, actual practice. All her thought had been idolatry for her lost love; all her joy and earthly life had been knit up in him; to her all the world was naught beside. Now she must suffer - so the angel said: and “a thousand years of penance” were before her. Ere she entered upon the mournful doom of practice and instruction in her thousand years of fresh rudimental life, the still loving woman pleaded with the angel yet once more to return to earth and warn the idol that she had left; to whisper in his ear, and teach him how in mortal experiences to practice life, and strive to live so greatly better than herself, that he “should not come into this place of torment.” And the kind angel yielded to her prayer, and took her back to earth again. They sought the lover of her heart within the mansion she had lately left: he was not there. They passed into the groves where she had wandered with him hand in hand, in the blessed days of love; she knew he would be walking midst those shades, she said, in tender memory of his vanished joy: but still he was not there. “Surely,” she cried, “we shall find him in the house of God, bending before the altar of religion, pleading for resignation to bear his loss of me; we shall find him where we knelt and prayed so oft together. Take me there.” The angel, yielding to her pleading, led her to the altar; and there indeed they found her loved one, but not in supplication for the lost dead wife, nor yet in prayerful mourning for her loss: he stood beside a fair young girl repeating the marriage rite, and placing on her hand the ring of the dead wife. In the deep and burning agony of woe that pressed on the poor spirit, she turned to the guardian angel and bade him take her hence - take her to doom - take her to torture - take her to any penalty; nought now was too hard to bear. Her heart’s love wrecked - all, all was wrecked; no doom of burning pain or agonizing torture would be penance now to the wrung and broken spirit. But, turning from the path of doom to Paradise, the pitying angel cried, “Come home, come home! Poor spirit! come with me; come to thy Paradise! Thy penalty is paid - thy penance done - thy free soul purified; for in the deep unfathomable anguish of one dreadful moment, - in the single sand grain of an hour, when all life’s bitterest martyrdoms are crowded in one point, - thy thousand years of penalty is paid.”

 

And in this allegory I tell you the history of the martyr in the world of spirits. In this I have told you the effect of martyrdom upon the human soul. It is ever so. In spirit land, there is no time or space. We only mark the dial “by our heart-throbs;” we only know the movements of creation by the emotions of our souls. There we may live in one short moment of agony for centuries, and so in the few consuming hours of torture wherein the human form is racked with a martyr’s suffering, in the few


 

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dreadful moments that destroy the blazing body; in the pain of long imprisonment, or the quickened heart-throbs of bitter grief with which we suffer man’s ingratitude; in the wretchedness of woe which consumes in silent anguish so many breaking hearts; in every pain and penalty of life there is a moral transmutation in our souls, a glorious transfiguration that makes the doom of martyrdom the gate of purgatory through which we pass to Paradise. You still may question this assertion because we cannot prove it, because it is not in your experience. But have you stood in the presence of earth’s martyrs, returned again to earth at the spirit circle? Question one of these: question of those who in the agony of drowning have beheld all memories of life, all its event and with it all its judgments crowded upon them - think you there is no transmutation there? Think you that when we behold the page of cause and effect mapped out before us we do not comprehend far better than in the darkness, in which we are now groping, why we have erred, and how to make atonement? And in this knowledge we are transfigured. There is no real time in spirit life, as we define it, and whilst therefore we do not excuse the hand that strikes the blow, whilst we have no extenuation to offer for those who make earth’s martyrs, still the pain inflicted by whatever cause is purifying in its action. The spirit vision opened as with the drowning man to the page of cause and effect, the spirit sits in judgment upon himself, his book of life is opened, but especially in the tortures of martyrdom, the transfigured spirit comes out of the fearful crucible of pain, instructed in a spiritual point of time in a whole life's penalty of action. Thus much for the martyrs; but for their persecutors, remember that, “though offences must come, woe unto those by whom the offence cometh.” I would rather say, “God help the men that make the martyrs”, than “God help the martyrs” - they have more need of prayer. Every living creature that is in the hand of God is safe. Every living soul that places itself in harmony after its best knowledge morally or physically with the Infinite is safe. We may by ignorance become the victims of physical law, but in the martyrdom with which we pass from earth in some agonising form of death; in the few moments or hours, weeks, months, or years, in which we endure the pains of martyrdom, we are in the fire of purification, we are in the great crucible of pain, and He, the Eternal Alchemist, is preparing to produce from this the thrice-refined gold. But not so of those that do inflict the pain - woe, woe to them! If there is an inevitable result of the moral law that purifies the soul through suffering, so there is an inevitable result of the moral law that re-acts upon those who inflict the suffering. Oh! let us take heed to this and reflect upon it. Pause, Spiritualists, before the spirit-circle, and question of the martyrs what is their condition. Question of those who have passed through great fires of tribulation. We may not, with illuminated eyes, perceive the angel-light upon their brows, but it is surely there. It shines on many an obscure form, on many a broken­hearted wife, a toiling child, a patient unrequited drudge, and many an humble being who lives and dies unknown, toiling away in dim obscurity the precious oil of life - from mortal recognition finding no sympathy, no pity, no help nor hope on earth. How many martyrs move around us now, bearing this bitter cross! We may pity as we hear the tale of martyrdom, but oh! the glorious transfiguration of the hour of death! Have you ever thought why the Man of Sorrows, despised and rejected of men, a houseless wanderer, without “where to lay his head,” should appear to the eyes of his amazed disciples in the moment of transfiguration, a being so gloriously bright “they wist not what they said.” Was not this the effect of the change from the mortal sufferer to the spiritual conqueror! Was not this the picture of a sorrowing earthly soul, shorn of its mask of earth, and shining in the glorious radiance of a spiritual life?


 

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This is the glorious representation of the effect of earthly life and its pains and penalties appearing upon the purified spirit. And it does not take years, nor even hours, to effect these changes. It is enough that we suffer, endure, and realise the judgment without ourselves, whether in a minute or in a life; it is enough that in that judgment all the causes and effects of crime are judged within us: we spring up free from that judgment bright and purified. No need to come back to earth for “re­incarnation.” There are spheres enough in spirit-life to afford us all of progress, knowledge, and experience that we shall need; even those whose career has been violently cut off, whose earthly mission seems to be destroyed and snapped in twain. It is not a question of time how they shall work that broken mission out, it is only a question of soul experience; and whether it be the life of an hour for the babe, or the life of the century for the old man, so long as the soul is associated with matter here, it obtains all that the earth need give, all that material life can render. And beyond the boundaries of this life are all the experiences necessary for the full elaboration of that soul’s progress, especially, as I have shewn you, in the transition of the suffering spirit through the dreadful gates of martyrdom. It may be a consolation even to some amongst yourselves to analyse the deep and sublime philosophy of martydom, and consider the stern, but wise and just character of physical laws; to speculate on the soul experiences of those who may have perished in some vast catastrophe. When you have familiarised yourselves with spiritual revelations and spiritual conditions, you will know that martyrdom is not in vain - that lives are not snapped in twain outside of law - that no laws of God are broken, but all are ultimated and carried out, even in that worst and darkest problem of existence which we call martyrdom.

 

Souls of the martyrs! shades of the heroes! bright and glorious forms of earth’s patriots, brave reformers, noble sufferers and mighty teachers! If we have dared to draw aside the veil this night that hides thy shining forms from the eye of man, thou best knowest that thine inspiration has been the coal of fire that is placed upon these lips. Thou best knowest that it has been for earth to ask of thee, and that thou, through earthly lips, have rendered back the answer. Perhaps there are many of earth’s best and dearest yet to follow in the path of martyrdom; - perhaps there are some about us treading even now the hill to Calvary. Oh, may the lesson of this hour be with them in the darkness and the gloom - may they remember not alone the glorious liberty in which the martyred soul goes free, but may they ever feel in their bitter hour of trial that thou art pouring on this earth thine inspiration, and teaching us the uses of the bright and glorious mission which pain and suffering bring to men, then thou wilt not have died in vain; and, if by thy bright example, by thy holy teaching, by the revelation of thy transfiguration from earth’s darkness to the light of Paradise, we may be strengthened in our hour of trial - martyrdom for thee, and us will not have been in vain.

 

Question 1 - March 19th, 1866