THE LIFE ELYSIAN
There breaks the soul from every weight away
And for itself beholds and understands!
In that clear dawn of life’s true morning light
It turns, reviews, and then must needs accept
Whate’er results from yesternight’s wild rush
And feverish greed, within the robing-room of earth.
’Tis then it learns how cherished ignorance
False guide has been, and led the soul astray,
Appraising tinsel at the price of gold,
And teaching how base metal and true wealth were one,
That, also, all the wild array of masquerade,
Which fools had brought together for their revels,
Were robes, insignia, orders and rewards
Provided by the King, that all His sons
Might dress and grace the marriage feast!
There comes the Truth, and all the false array
In which we strutted forth, lordly and envied,
Must then be thrown aside and left behind,
As worse than useless – we have to pay their cost
Ere we can forward pass. Each soul with painful rue
There doffs its mantle of hypocrisy, to find
Its royal lustre and its richness vanished with the night,
Leaving but sign of poverty behind.
Then sighs the soul to learn its bankrupt state,
For till that moment none can ever know
The price it pays for such a treacherous robe,
And false deceitful outfit; –
We don it in expediency and haste,
We doff it in the searching light of God.
Where is laid bare all bruises, scars and wounds
We felt not when received in maddened rush
To save the object of our choice from other hands.
But in our passage to the feast we have to pause,
Consider, and discharge th’ account for what we thought
Was free to those who could secure and keep!
And this is painful reckoning.
When this is o’er, then breaks the soul away
And learns it has another role than masquerade
To play on life’s eternal stage. It throws aside
All relics of the brute, the savage and barbaric tastes,
And making restoration with a pure repentance
Steps to life’s mark clad but in freedom’s garb,
With naught to weight, to hinder or retard
Its course, and as a man starts on the race
Which has its goal and destiny in God.
’Tis of this race I sing, and now I bid you come
And see how it is run on God’s own course –
The Life Elysian!
This book is not a novel, neither have I any more claim to its authorship than the publisher, compositor or binder who will presently do their part in handing it forward to the public!
This disclaimer naturally demands an explanation, and my present object is to furnish the same as briefly and simply as possible. But the task is by no means an ordinary one, for the affidavit it necessitates, and which I reverently make in the presence of God, is of such a nature as probably to constitute it unique in the annals of literature.
We live in an age of marvels, with almost every edition of the newspaper bringing reports of some new wonder, but I have one to place on record the portentous significance of which is sufficient to shake the foundations of earth in its proclamation!
If any man has been summoned to step with unshod feet upon holy ground, I also have heard the call and have had laid upon me the awful responsibility of publishing the things I have seen and heard.
The voice said, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” How shall I escape if I refuse him that speaketh? Therefore I obey, not fearing any consequences which may result, but rather weighed down with a sense of my own unworthiness of the mission to which God has called me.
Let me try to make myself and mission understood, by a necessary but brief reference to my past.
On the maternal side I come of a line of prophets – using the word in the sense it is employed in the following pages – and from both parents inherit a strain of Puritan blood. ‘Psychic invasions,’ as F. W. H. Myers would call them, have been my companions from the cradle, I am informed, but I am personally aware that as a child I cried at being left in the darkness unless I saw a mysterious, and to others invisible, kilted Highlander who remained beside me talking or singing till I fell asleep. And even now, after a lapse of half a century, the vivid memory of his strong but kindly face is as freshly recalled as if he had sat beside me while this new year was born.
When about thirteen years of age I entered upon a second and vastly different series of psychic experiences, the invasions taking the form of a change of consciousness, and for several years I was associated with the Spiritualistic movement in Birmingham, where I was brought into connection with D. D. Home and many of the early pioneers. This is neither the time nor place for me to dwell upon the accepted evidences of the continuity of existence after death which were given through my lips during these periods of hypnotic oblivion. I merely wish to indicate the way by which the guiding hand of God has brought me to the present.
Before reaching my twentieth year I was removed from the sphere of my activities into a most determined seclusion, having previously declared, during an entrancement, that the life I was pursuing in connection with promiscuous séances was unfitting me for some special work I had to do in the future. And now followed a period of very active doubt and agnosticism as to the source from which these truly remarkable phenomena sprang.
While the pillars of cloud and fire stood still, though my faith was shaken, my interest never for a moment abated, and several years were spent in a very close study of the subject while I retained an unshakable faith in Christ as the anchor of my soul.
In this inquiry, of course, the Bible – read by itself, as I would read another book, and for itself, to see what it really had to say – formed a very important part of my quest; and it was from the pages of that book that the newer after-light first broke upon me. I began to read it in the desire that it would strengthen my agnosticism into certainty, but to my great surprise it spake with another voice, charging me to bless where I had sought for a mandate to condemn.
Then I married, and with one beside me who has ever been as the angel of a holier presence – without whose patient suffering and encouraging assurances all must have been so different to what it is – I entered upon the third and more memorable epoch of my life. The old phenomena and many I had not hitherto experienced were quietly and almost imperceptibly re-insinuated into recognition with so definite a confirmation of their origin as to finally compel acknowledgement. It would be an easy matter to fill volumes with the unanswerable evidences which came upon us at this time like a flood, were this the place to do so.
I have said the old phenomena were revived, but this scarcely represents what actually did occur, for while they might have been the same in kind, the latter were in every way far greater and the communications they transmitted were incomparably more reliable than the former. The why and wherefore of this was presently explained to me, and in the counsel which accompanied it a sharp and definite dividing line was drawn which has from that time separated myself from the ordinary spiritualist. If I was to fulfil the mission opening out to me I was to hold no séances but rather to live a life which would supply an ever-present condition for the operation of a spiritual ministry.
Unquestionably assured of the bona fides of these angelic visitors, we naturally grew into a compact of service in which each mutually waited upon the other, and striking evidences of their nature, fidelity and power began to multiply. Then as the months went on shadowy forms from the invisible began to make their appearance, which presently and gradually increased in density until I became able to touch, handle and speak to them, and the whisper of musical voices was heard in reply; still the development went on, until now for years past they have assumed such solid shape as to be able to use my books and sit with me for hours in the full light of day!
I can see you start – almost catch the emphatic exclamation with which you are tempted to throw the book aside and read no more. But ‘yield not to temptation.’ ‘I am not mad . . . but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.’ I am saying no more than James, John and Peter might have told their companions after coming down from the Mount of Transfiguration. I proclaim no more than the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – that gospel which has been given to bind up the broken-hearted. It only sounds incredible because we have lost the evidences of this vital part of it. I bear this testimony calmly, reverently and thankfully, in the presence of that God whose angels aforetime were entertained by Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, closed the mouths of the lions for Daniel, liberated Peter from prison and rolled away the stone from the door of the sepulchre. He is still the same God, invariable, ‘without the shadow of a turning,’ and ‘whatsoever He doeth it shall be for ever.’
It is now a quarter of a century since this last stage of my career began, during which, so far as their particular work is concerned, I have been kept very much to myself, while they have been working towards some goal they see, but which I, at present, do not understand. But the years have not been fruitless. The evidences of their ministry lie thickly strewn along the way, and many to-day rejoice at the blessings these angels of God have bestowed in their passing by.
But to the book!
With few exceptions I spend two or three hours every day in the companionship of these visitors from across the border. Some years since they suggested at one of our conferences, that in answer to many earnest solicitations for some definite record of life as they enjoy it, I should assist them in writing a volume which might prove to be a helpful illustration and clear up some of the many mysteries of existence. The proposal was taken up with eagerness, Myhanene foreseeing a valuable aid therein to the work he had in hand; a choice was made of one to direct the undertaking, with many promises of assistance from his fellow-labourers, and myself to act as amanuensis. We commenced our labours at once, but the task of translating ideas even from one language to another entails much sacrifice for which no adequate recompense can be supplied. What then was the loss we found to be involved in representing the Life Elysian in the gross and unmusical jargon of earth? Many times and oft did we come to a stand, doubtful of our success, but in the end, with many regrets and misgivings at what he called ‘the sorry achievement,’ Aphraar gave me permission, some six years ago, to publish the volume entitled Through the Mists. Never did a book leave the hands of its creator with a clearer consciousness and acknowledgement of its failure to represent the ideal aimed at, a deficiency far more clearly recognized by its Author than its critics appear to have discovered.
But sown in fears it has produced a most unexpected harvest of thankfulness, and the grateful recognitions of the help it has afforded has led Aphraar to redeem his conditional promise, and throughout the whole year which has just closed we have laboured together in the production of this second volume now sent forth upon its errand of consolation and revelation.
Of the subjects discussed herein it must be left to deeper minds than my own to express any opinion. Whoever reads will find that it treats of some of life’s great mysteries with a frank familiarity and certain composure which suggests more than speculation, and to my mind the harmonious completion towards which every various subject is found to contribute its individual part, savours more of truth than otherwise. But I may be prejudiced in my opinion by the reverent affection they one and all inspire in their more than human tenderness and consideration for my many shortcomings, therefore I will leave any suggestion as to its relative value as a revelation to minds better qualified to judge.
It will now be understood, I trust, why I penned the above disclaimer; but let me, in closing, say with what unspeakable gratitude I acknowledge the honour of being called to the service I have here so inadequately rendered. I know, more than my readers will discover, how much my own limitations have prevented the ideals of the Author from being realized, and am humbled at the knowledge, but since he approves, I send it forth as the joint effort of hands clasped across the tomb, hoping by the blessing of God that it may be the means of helping many homeward, even more so than was granted to its predecessor.
ROBT. JAS. LEES.
New Year’s Day, 1905.