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Questions Answered Extempore by Miss Emma Hardinge 1866

 

Question 5

 

WILL you explain the process of death, and of birth into the spirit-world?

 

Answer

 

DEATH and birth, whether into the natural or the spiritual worlds, are one and the same thing. Mortal death is but the birth of the soul into the spirit-world. There is, perhaps, no more beautiful or philosophical explanation of death than that passage, so


 

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often quoted and yet so little understood, that “the wages of sin is death.” We do not mean by sin the guilt of criminal action only, but sin is imperfection - imperfection throughout the realm of nature. There is a law by which all things harmonise. They commence from a point, they grow up from the smallest atom in being, become a centre of attraction, and, by the inherent life in all things, gather up from the various elements that surround them, materials to build up the form to which they tend. They arrive at last at the culmination point of their vigorous growth, and from this stage they have no more power to attract a sufficient amount of life elements to sustain the now decaying form. They have turned the hill of time, and descend into its valleys; they waste more than they gather in; and, at last, when the power of attraction is ended, when the electrical pole of the battery of life can no more draw the aliments from nature necessary to sustain being, the spirit withdraws; the gates of life are closed against it, and the spirit, fully ripened for another world, is born therein.

 

This is the history of all forms - whether in what is called the inanimate or the animated world. And thus the history of birth, life and death are but sequences one to the other. As the seed dies, the shoot grows from it, and hence the development of the plant, the blossom, the new seed, and then the death of the whole structure, and the gathering in of whatsoever it has produced, the flax, the hemp, the cotton. We kill the fibre, as fibre, in order that it shall live again in some fresh and more useful condition. We weave it into this fabric (holding up a handkerchief), and now it is full of life. There is some mysterious power of attraction that binds together these particles. We see it not; but to-day it is - a few years hence and it shall be dead; dead in its present form, but still living in some other element than this shape. This fabric will be crumbled into dust, but the attraction that binds it together now will be somewhere in existence, and every atom gathered up into the great totality of matter. Nothing is lost, visible or invisible. The process by which this substance decays from the culminating point of its life and vigour until it dies, is very gradual - but it comes at last, and in the death of this substance it liberates the attraction into the vast laboratory of attraction, and so even the substance of this thing, which is the life principle, is born into some other substance. The vast earth itself was born, from the death of the comet. The comet was a birth from the nebulae of some starry mass in the skies; and this again was condensed as a birth from the unparticled nature of the elements. As one state of nature died, another was born from it. All is the same, even in the vast sums of life existing in suns, satellites, and worlds; our earth is very young; it has not yet attained its full culminating point of life, but there is a period when that too must progress to a standard of final growth, and then turn the hill of time, and perhaps die! Mountains, vast hills, and gigantic rocky ranges - all these grow, aggregating unto themselves the elements that form them from mere atoms. They reach their vast life’s manhood, and then the attraction passes from them - they crumble into dust, and perish.

 

I have said thus much to shew you that the law of life and death is pervasive in all things alike. Even so with human life and the relations of matter with spirit. I have before traced the embryotic cell in its processes of growth, and shewn how a mere monad of matter gathers up from its surroundings the elements that extend it into the rudiments of a brain; and then, by throwing off fibres, forms a nervous system, then proceed to secrete the various elements that build it up into a heterogenous and organic structure, until at last it produces a fully formed and living being. It is then born into another sphere than its embryotic one - even into the outer life of earth -


 

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and from this birth, growth proceeds, until the magical transmutation from the wailing babe into the strong and mighty man is fully effected. When we contemplate the grand and powerful form of man - the man of muscle, knowledge, and mind - we may cry, “Can this then be the babe? Surely the babe is dead, and the man is the growth from its altered life! Ay! and such are the processes of life in the mighty changes that are effected through growth.

 

The only diversity in man is the fact that he has gathered up from all things in nature the elements that make him man. When he arrives at manhood, he still builds up the form with aliment and elements, but he wastes more than he attracts, and so he gradually decays; and if life is permitted to attain to its full and natural periods of being, the waning life of man will slowly pass away, and the repulsive force shall prevail over the attractive, till the hour shall come when the powers of life shall feebly pulsate, and then be quenched in the eternal sleep of death. But even then, whilst the freed spirit escapes from the broken casket, the forces of motion shall act in the crumbling form, but operate only in the mode of repulsion or decay. ‘Tis strange and touching to observe how, in the age of feeble man, as the spirit nears the bright and shining shore, and the glorious forms of the immortals gleam across the beautiful river in dreamy shadowy visions, scarce understood, or deemed hallucination, how surely the normal decay of the earthly powers seems to enlarge the border of the spiritual, and the old and feeble man, in his state of gradual abstraction, seems to be drawn nearer and nearer to the shining shore, to which his soul is speeding. He feels the invisible cords that are drawing him away from the realms of matter to the home of his soaring spirit. Earth’s landscapes grow more dim, but the visionary glory of a brighter world breaks ever through the gloom. As earth’s twilight closes round him, heaven’s stars come trooping up on the firmament of mind, until, when the midnight hour of mortal death is sounding, the last vibrating echo of the bell is lost in the glorious morning chime that heralds in the arisen day of spiritual existence. This is not death, but birth. The changes of mortal life are but the immortal’s growth, and whilst the body fades like a worn-out garment, the spirit shakes it off in the normal birth of a new and better state.

 

Death! There is no death. It is but change from one glory to another - it is but the birth from one sphere to another. Death is a liberty angel, which opens the door of matter for the captive soul bound in the dungeons of earth. Death pays the wages of sin; for sin is the imperfection of the worn-out body, unable to sustain and fulfil the uses of existence longer. Death is the beautiful and holy steward, that pays back to the earth all the wages of earth’s imperfection. Have you ever passed by the graves of those who have perished from out your midst by violence, with a stain of evil on their names, and not felt the loathing with which society regards the criminal softened by the change of death, until your voice grows low and pitiful as you speak of them, and the tone of harsh reproach is changed to kind regret? And thus is it ever, death is the penalty of sin, and its just demands fulfilled, we feel, if we fail to comprehend our thought, that the good alone is eternal and preserved, the evil is a transitory shadow which death in part dispels. The good man becomes exalted through the gloom of death into actual sainthood, the evil melts like midnight shades in the bright revealments of a spiritual day; so death is the mighty alchemist whose work it is to transmute earth’s baser metals into spiritual gold. Let the old past die! Old buildings, forms, old architecture, customs and habits, all must perish; but in their death spring up the new and beautiful. The great Architect of creation gathers up the beautiful with


 

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such perfection and fidelity, that nothing good can die. Rome and Greece are in ashes, but their faults alone have perished - their virtues still survive - their histories of warning and instruction are with us still - their arts and sciences are the foundations of our schools and colleges - their pride and luxury - their reckless waste of life - their dark superstitious rites, and spirit of greedy conquest, death has swallowed up - their grand achievements in the games of intellectual warfare, are all immortal as the souls that battled for the good, and won, through triumph over evil. In physics as in metaphysics, the imperfect only dies. The sin alone can perish. So I hail the angel of death, as the genius of progress, and that not alone for the soul, but for the earth on which we live. Surely it would be cumbered with forms of the effete, the old and worn, did not kind glorious death sweep away with the besom of destruction, the relics of the imperfect in the past, while it still conserves the spirit of the beautiful in never-dying life.

 

Question 6 - March 19th, 1866