Gerald Massey: from a lecture.

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The Spiritualist Newspaper

LONDON, FRIDAY, JUNE 5th, 1874.

ETERNAL PUNISHMENT AND ORTHODOX THEOLOGY.
BY GERALD MASSEY.
(Extracted from the last lecture delivered by Mr. Massey in America.)


   
CERTAIN things, our orthodox friends assure us, are settled.  But, according to their own showing, these very things, when started, were never more unsettled; never so uncertain as at the present time.  And when these certain things do get settled, I do not doubt that the occupation of those who preach them will be gone.

The world is waking from its phantom dreams
To make out that which is from that which seems;
And in the light of day shall blush to find
What things of night had power enough to blind
Its vision; what thin wall of musty gray,
As if of granite, stopped its onward way.

    We are about to question everything they have assumed.  They have closed the controversy; we have but just begun to open it.  They have made and tied up their little bundle of dried sticks, whilst ours are only just beginning to grow, and are yet green and lusty with the sap of life.  We have not done with the note of interrogation.  Many questions have to be put and answered that they little dream of.  Why, what are we ourselves but incarnate questions which God alone can answer?

    Some people have a vision of their own they will not part with, even though they have to close their eyes and shut out everything else.  But that is what others of us cannot do.  There's a spirit within us that wants to see, and will see, and must tear off the bandage and the blinkers to see—each for himself— whether the traditional vision be true.  And why on earth did God give us the faculty of sight, and hold up the light for us to see by, but that he meant us to see, and to go on seeing?

    It has become necessary to doubt what has been taught on theological grounds as a duty to ourselves.  It has become necessary to stand outside the orthodox churches before we can appreciate the character of their supposed founder, and see how little they have in common with him.  They are not thinking God's thoughts by merely echoing the thoughts of the Hebrews who wrote two or three thousand years ago.  Our question is, What is the Eternal thinking—i.e., thinking or shaping now?  What is He driving at?  Which way is the Divine breath blowing?  What fresh revelation has He for England?  What new message for America?  Can you divine, rethink His living will in the present living time?  Can you gauge the tide that is setting in from the other shores?

    Only this will avail, only this will help our nineteenth century need.  Spiritualism is undermining them on the one hand as fast as science saps them on the other, and they are at war against the facts of both, on behalf of a belief established on the ground that both are destroying day by day—on behalf of a religion that is at once non-scientific and non-spiritual.

    Belief on the theological grounds grew less and less the more you reasoned about its postulates.  Hence their dread and denunciation of reason, they had so lumped the impossible and the possible together, to the utter confusion of both and confounding of reason.  But no amount of reason can ever destroy the solid body of a single fact.  And their anathema against reason shows they do not rest on a solid ground of fact.  What chance, think you, has the old religion of faith against our religion of fact?  The same as glass in a clashing with iron.  If these men truly cared for the facts of religion, instead of shaking the fist and gnashing the teeth at Spiritualism, they would embrace it as if it were the hand of very salvation itself, for it contains the sole fact that they have to go upon, or ever did have, or ever can have.  But what they care for are the fables and the figments which have become their stock-in-trade.  The fact may go to the devil, to whom, indeed, they generally consign it.  For if God ever does try to speak with them, to prove the fact, they say "it can't be our God, He is dead and buried in a book; it must be the devil."  Why, they are ignorantly, stupidly committing that crime against the Holy Spirit which Jesus called the unpardonable sin, which unpardonable sin they are puzzling their heads over, never dreaming of what our great Spiritualist meant.  Look at your supposed learned doctors still trying to get at the other world as grave-diggers, still fumbling after the spiritual being of man as if his real essence were dust of the earth, which they assure us God has the power to put together, again—every particle of it—and so we shall rise again.  And so eighteen hundred years after their Jesus Christ hewed out His window in the blank, dense wall of Hebrew materialism, to let in a spiritual light, they are yet trying to stuff and stop up the aperture with His dead body and the physical resurrection, and to thorn it is a blind window still.

    What is there that men have not found compatible with mere belief?  Have they not cut each other's throats, believing it to be for the glory of God?  Have they not burned bodies by the thousand, believing it to be the surest way of saving souls from hell?  Why, men have believed that by standing on one leg for thirty years they would be permitted to hop into heaven at last.  They believed that we were children of the same father, and brethren of one family, created in the image of one God, and yet for ages they could leave the poor in the grossest mental night.  They have seen these poor brothers and sisters of theirs being gradually transformed into the likeness of devils by want, and squalor, and filth, and disease of all kinds, physical and mental, huddled together in the pits and dens of poverty and crime like a stock of pestilence kept for breeding purposes; never remembering they were of one flesh and blood until the effluvia of the cholera reek ascended, and the poor neglected wretches caught them in the arms of death, thus proving their brotherhood by their power to infect and kill them.

    Men have believed there must be a physical resurrection, otherwise the damned could not gnash their poor teeth in eternal torment.  Men believe they ought not to bow down before any graven image, who all the week go down and grovel in the dust on all fours in front of one that twinkles golden and winks at Moses, having on it the image of the queen or president stamped on the current coin of the realm.  Men have believed that God was the natural author of diseases and evils which they created, and have fostered for ages, and are responsible for before God and man to-day.  They have mocked us long enough with their lying beliefs about God and the origin of evil, but we maybe sure that God is not mocked.  He sees through all the selfish pretence of such belief, and the reckoning has yet to come.  The wrongs they have done to God and man here on earth have yet to be righted here on earth.  Men have believed that on account of Adam's sin myriads on myriads of helpless, guiltless human beings were doomed to an eternity of eternities of eternalised torments in which they were to suffer out a salamandrine immortality, if you did not think as they did.  They have believed that in the field of human soul Satan is the harvester and God the gleaner, and the crowded wains roll staggering through the doorways of hell, while the redeemed vestiges of the world-crop are easily borne to heaven in the arms of a few weeping angels.  They have believed in a God who was an omnipotent fiend and demoniac, quite unknown to the devil-worship of the past—a curse that sat enthroned amid the universe, breathing horror all abroad, and brooding down in blackness on the souls of men, and the ascending smoke of torments was to magnify the features of his monstrous majesty.  And if you were one of the chosen, elected to a front seat in the kingdom of this dreadful God, the daintiest part of your enjoyment was to be a full and perfect view of the poor damned souls, including those of wee babies a span long.  The great Mr. Spurgeon will tell you what a delectable entertainment you may expect, for he says all their veins are roads for the feet of pain to travel in, and every nerve is a string on which the devil shall for ever play his diabolical tune of hell's unutterable torment.  And as the song of the ransomed was singing, word would come that your father was among the damned, and you would sing all the louder; or that several of your little ones were in hell, and your hallelujahs would be redoubled.

    And orthodox hearts have been warmed and hands exultingly rubbed over these pictures in the fire.  "Don't deprive me of my devil," said Charles Lamb.  And in giving up the old ideas of hell, one does feel a lingering regret that these gloating ghouls should not have the taste in life of that which they have described with such infernal relish.

 



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