Audio recordings of Chapter 6 (two parts):
Study group for Chapter 6 with Mary Magdalene, Session 1:
Audio of study group for Chapter 6:
Chapter VI: A Magnetic Chorale
As we walked along my attention was attracted by the chiming of a peal of bells in the distance, and simultaneously an irresistible fascination seized upon me, momentarily increasing, until, at length I felt as if was being impelled forward by some invisible but tangible influence to accept the invitation those rhythmic tongues were issuing far and wide. What that influence was or how it obtained such a mastery over me, I could not tell, and even now, with my more extended experience of this life, I am unable to explain. The sensation produced was novel, entrancing, and, indescribable. Its operation seemed to permeate my whole being, and to exert itself equally from within as without. Neither was it due entirely to my recent arrival, for I perceived that it had the same effect upon my guide as upon myself. By some accountable process I translated the voice of those bells into an appeal for help and assistance which I alone had the power to render, and though I had no inclination to hasten in obedience to the call, I was certain that it would not be right to delay.
But why should it be me? was a question that I put to myself again and again. I was entirely ignorant of everything surrounding me, why was not the summons to many others walking in the same direction – gathering, as it were, from every visible point of the compass? And as I thus queried I scanned the faces of those nearest to me, and became convinced that they too were moving under the impulse of that same mysterious power. This discovery served to further increase my interest, and excite my imagination as to what the result and explanation would be.
My companion saw, and no doubt fully understood, the perplexity I was enduring, but when I turned and would have sought the interpretation, he merely smiled, and my tongue was silent. So we went forward in obedience to the one impulse attracting us both by its strange magnetic power.
Presently another source of gratification was afforded me, as through the trees I began to catch in the distance broken glimpses of a stately pile of buildings which we were steadily approaching. Hitherto, I had only seen such, as I looked across that boundless landscape under the direction of Eusemos but now, it was evident that I was to have the opportunity of inspecting one of the homes of paradise at close quarters. With this a pleasing spasm of excitement seized me as I involuntarily asked myself – “Will this be my home? – a question I at the same time answered in the negative, but how I know not, unless it was by the power of revelation which is so natural, and yet so in infallibly a part of our personality in this life. Therefore I ceased speculate on the ownership of the home, and prepared to examine its character as soon as circumstances would allow of my doing so.
Immediately we reached the open plain, the centre and crown of which it occupied, I intuitively knew that I was looking upon the Home of Rest, or sanatorium, in the grounds of which I had enjoyed my refreshing and rejuvenating sleep. As the physiognomy of a man affords a certain index to his character and disposition so the contour of this home declared at once its nature and purpose. At a glance I saw it was a citadel of repose, a fortress of rest, an ambuscade of joy to every soul that came that way. Stately and grand in its unassuming magnificence as if its foundations were laid deep down within the eternal calm of God’s omnipotence, pure and unsullied in its fabric as the infinite and changeless love of its Divine designer, every stone and feature apparently throbbing with the spirit of mercy and forgiveness which hovered around, I felt as, I gazed upon it that I in some manner had solved the mystery of that profound attraction by which I had been drawn towards such a desirable centre. Reverence, gratitude, worship and awe, seemed to be the janitors who stood as guards at the four towers which rose at the terminating points of its stately porticoes.
So much of the building as was visible from where we stood, for me to wonder at and admire its beauties, was undoubtedly a hall of enormous proportions, its shape that of an amphitheatre. Three sides were flanked by spacious piazzas of equal length, carrying out the design to a perfect square, the corners being occupied by four towers which served the purpose of entrances to the hall. The style of architecture was composite, the columns supporting the roof of the porticoes were Corinthian, their material more resembling ivory than marble; the plinths upon which they rested were of pinkish alabaster, and massive enough to form the corner-stones of pyramids, but whereas the Egyptians would have left a Sphinx-like blank upon their faces, these were panelled with exquisite bas-reliefs such as the Grecians loved to carve; the pediments were used as galleries for groups of statuary in the contemplation of which the convalescent inmates of home might learn progressive lessons of the life to which they had been called. In that self-illumined atmosphere which offered no facility for the birth of shadows, from the distance at which I stood the walls of the hall appeared to be built of stone of a delicate and variable shade of green. I afterwards discovered that this effect was produced by a magnificent screen of elaborately carved and perforated marble, draped around the hall in folds as exquisite and soft as lace, through which the foliage of a noble vine was visible. The towers rose to a considerable height, terminating in minarets like polished silver, from which the bells chimed forth their music; and crowning the hall rose a majestic dome serving the double purpose of completing design and lighting the interior.
The wonderful appositeness of every feature of the scene to each other was again impressed upon me; art and nature being blended in such manner as to enrich the harmony. That garden-like plain so artistically dotted with flowers and shrubs would have been half-voided of its beauty had that noble structure not been there; and as for the hall, it needed that flower bejewelled mantle of a lawn as a fit setting whereon to display its matchless perfection. Blended together the beauties of each were emphasised, while the movements of the multitude kept the balance of the harmony swinging.
Cushna moved forward; and I, enraptured with the scene and wondering what its next development would be, mechanically followed, until I became conscious that it was not his intention to enter by any of the approaches visible to me. Then for a moment I wavered, as all my soul called me within that place and I was doubtful whether he was not leading me elsewhere. In an instant he divined my difficulty, and appeared to be by no means displeased thereat, but assuring me he was about to enter, led me to the main portion of the building, before hidden from my sight, and which formed the temporary abode of those who tarried at this home for rest and recuperation. At that moment the bells ceased to ring, and I was glad when, without attempting to show me the numerous apartments opening on every hand, he motioned me to follow him along a corridor which led in the direction of the hall. At the end, drawing aside a richly-embroidered curtain, he ushered me at once into what I may legitimately call the arena.
Shall I describe the, scene which met my sight? It was a mountain of faces on every side, and over and around us an atmosphere of unbroken peace. I was conscious that I had reached a goal; a period of uncertainty lay behind me. For the time I felt satisfied, and drew a deep breath of relief at having accomplished something, I knew not what; but my heart was glad.
The flower-carpeted floor of that spacious arena contained a number of lounges composed of various aromatic mosses, soft as air, each one designed to produce its own peculiar effect magnetically. Cushna drew my attention to the different odours they exhaled, and invited me to throw myself upon them to test their comfort, and, as I complied, briefly explained that magnetism is the strength and nourishment of the spiritual body. Then he led me to a vacant seat, and left me in charge of a friend, who, he said, would interpret the chorale to me.
Rapidly that spacious auditorium was filling up its seats. Tier after tier, rising one above another, contributed to that sea of faces, upon every one of which happiness had set her name in living characters. From each of the four entrances a steady stream poured in until the hall was full, ceasing when just one seat remained for the last who entered. The dresses worn were of many colours, but only of the lighter shades; all serving to make the groupings as picturesque as they were varied. The lower seats were filled by children wearing robes of spotless white, or tints of the most imaginable delicacy; some of the wearers being of such tender age as to make me wonder how they were kept in the quiet order which everywhere prevailed.
Behind these, thousands of youths and maidens were arranged according to some method I did not understand. Above these, again were, women in greater proportions still; and finally rank after rank of men to the outer edge of that wide circle. Every nation upon earth had its legitimate representation in that throng, and all were so disposed that each complexion added its own influence to the balance of the picture. But the most pleasing thought of all was that every voice would say ‘Our Father’, to the selfsame God, and feel at heart that they were members of one family, The Jew was not conscious of election, the Gentile had lost his hatred, the caste restriction of the Brahmin was broken down the hand of the Arab was no more against his fellow. The Hindu woman had doffed her veil, the Mohammedan had lost his bigotry, Greek and Roman thought not of deadly feuds, the hand of the Zulu held no assegai, the Indian had no tomahawk, while the Christian had sheathed his sword. Romanist and Protestant gave the preference to each other, the Episcopalian boasted of no apostolic succession, and the narrow-minded sectarian sat side by side with the whilom atheist, whom he had before consigned fire eternal. In such a multitude, with such a bond uniting them I could fancy that I was not very far removed from the inner shrine of heaven.
Was it the association in which I found myself that started such a train of reflection in my mind? I know not, perhaps never shall know; but it afterwards resolved itself into an impromptu symphony, introducing that never-to-be-forgotten chorale. I had scarcely reached its termination before the key note sounded.
In common with those around me, I raised my eyes to the dome, where a dove of tintless electric brilliance poised itself on outstretched wing, as if to hush the tremor of its rapid flight. In its beak it held something which flashed and blazed with a glory that paled the lustre of its carrier, and added perceptibly to the hallowed light which bathed the hall. With one impulse, but without a sound, those thousands rose and bowed their heads in, reverent adoration; and when the silence had been hushed into an awful calm the quickened sense of the soul could almost hear, that jewel fluttered on the air, and like a flash of lightning dying from our sight the dove had disappeared.
Steadily, as a bubble on the air becalmed, that brilliant globule floated, gradually falling in the centre of that vast concourse of worshippers. Down, slowly down, enlarging as it fell, it gained still greater brilliancy by expansion. I watched it with bated breath, wondering when we should sound the depth of its self-inspiring awe, until, at length bursting with a soft detonating chime, it threw a proportion of its crystal spray on every head within that audience, the which lingered through that service like a jewel sent to flash God’s blessing upon His children gathered there.
The echoes of that soft percussion remained while that vast concourse took their seats, bearing the bright insignia of the presence of their Father, who waited to hear and answer prayer.
Seven bars of silence intervened; and then the opening strains of the first chorus fell upon my ears. The theme commenced with a pianissimo number in unison of male magnetisms, for in all that chorale there was not one articulate sound. I looked, and from the heads of the men saw crimson rays emitting, which darting towards the centre of the dome blended with each other, formed into circles of various sizes, and began to gyrate in the room. The movements caused vibrations of deeper or higher tones, according to the size of each circle and the speed with which it moved. The effect of this blending of the bass and tenor was like the muffled music of the ocean’s roll when heard from some distant inland hill. The melody was too sweet to set to words without detracting from its cadence; and yet, as I listened to its holy inspiration, its greatest charm being the perfect unison of such diverse nations, religions, and tongues, I felt that heaven had accomplished a triumph in the setting to such music the immortal poem of Israel’s sweetest singer, and that I was listening to a challenge to earth and heaven to ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’
The invitation issued, and the gamut of their variations being exhausted, the circles ceased their flight, met, embraced, and finally spread themselves as a canopy across the dome. Then succeeded a duct of the blue and amber offerings of the youths and maidens, rising in the volume of its gradual crescendo, the sweeps of blue soprano and curves of amber contralto waking sweet echoes with the declaration – ‘It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down unto the beard – even to Aaron’s beard – that went down to the skirts of his garment.’
At this point the women joined their rose-tinted pulse-throbs of a second soprano to swell the trio – ‘As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew which descended upon the mountains of Zion.’ Then the full chorus pealed, a thousand children contributing the brilliance of their untinted music, as the canopy of circles re-formed, and moved to lend their deep foundation to the strain.
It sounded like a choir of angels singing, with the voice of far distant thunders, and heaven’s own Bourdon serving as a double bass to the orchestra of the oceans roll. All harmonies, above, beneath, around, with all the chords and voices nature can command, being represented in the universal confirmation – ‘For there the Lord commanded His blessing, even life for evermore.’
The chorus swelled around us with such majestic force and intensity that every colour flashed its echo to enhance the glory, until the hall was bathed with the perfume of thanksgiving; then gathering over the arena, as the final beat of the last bar was reached, a harmony of shades as sweet as that of sound was formed, and the cloud ascended as an offering of gratitude for our Father’s love.
The dome was not yet clear of that prismatic cloud before a chord of even sweeter music fell upon our ears, and I perceived that the jewels on our heads were chiming the acceptance and ‘Amen’ of God.
Up to this point Cushna had assumed the directorship from the centre of the arena; being surrounded by a number young men and women who moved in graceful order with the rhythm of the music, as if engaged in working out some figure in a mystic dance. On making enquiry I was informed that this chorus was but an introduction to the ceremony, sung aid those special attendants in producing a suitable magnetic condition into which to introduce the patients; and looking intently in obedience to the wish of my instructor, I saw that all the magnetisms had not ascended; some had been distilled – shall I say etherealised? – and filled the arena like the least suspicion of a cloud – and yet, it was not cloud, since such a designation conveys the idea of an unsubstantial vapour which could have been carried hence upon the arms of motion; this had weight and body through which the attendants moved to and fro as bathers move through shallow water, with the exception that this scarce visible something seemed to offer no resistance. Here is a metaphor which will convey the idea of what it seemed to be: it was like the spectre of a lake, which in its restless wanderings had been conjured to pause for a time, that the spirits of some children of mortality might bathe therein, and wash the last traces of the earth away.
My attention was here called to a man who entered the hall from the corridor through which I came. His tall and stalwart form was clothed in a robe of electric grey, over which he wore a flowing mantle of blue, lined with amber and gorgeously embroidered from his loins downwards. His face. complexion, and general bearing, reminded one of an Arab sheik, except that haughtiness was here replaced by calm humility. Around his head, waist, wrists, and ankles he wore circlets of some strange amalgam, set with gems that emitted rays of light, thereby forming six circles of halo, which invested him with some mysterious power.
As he stepped into the arena a flash of welcome greeted him from that immense assembly. He glanced round the hall, just as a skilled conductor will survey his orchestra to see if all is ready for the baton’s wave; reaching the point where Cushna awaited him, he merely bowed his head at which the attendants turned and left the hall by the passage at which he had entered.
Here I took the opportunity to ask:
“Who is this?”
“Siamedes, the magnetic adept who will conduct the chorale.”
“An Oriental, I presume?”
We had no time for further conversation. Scarcely had that single word been spoken before the Assyrian raised his hand, as if to call his audience to attention; for an instant it remained poised, while a luminous sea-green cloud enveloped it, then with a majestic sweep he struck a circle, throwing, the halo in the air above him. A pause, and then another sweep repeated again and yet again, each motion adding another circle to expand and follow its predecessor. Only a pulse throb marked the interval between each beat, but that was long enough to change the colour, as he desired to change the note to form that bugle-call with which he summoned his army to march to victory.
The challenge had not died away before a jubilant response was floating in the air. It was a martial strain, and one could almost fancy they heard the steady and measured tramp of the approaching battalions as they came in the strength and confidence of their cause to certain triumph. The gentle crescendo grew in force and volume as each succeeding wave of magnetism rolled into the expanse above us. Their form was no longer circle and curve and flash, as in the opening chorus, but following the example of the Assyrian, each contribution came in vapoury strains to form the novel harmonies of that theme.
Waves of primrose and blue met and kissed each other into the life-chord for which they had been born, then blended in their next development to form the glory-green of hope; clouds of crimson strength from men took to their embraces the white purity of the children’s love, and nursed them into tones of sympathy; then each one yielding to the other, united in the pink of charity. Brown and rose, mauve and cerise, auburn and grey, green and gold washed over each other, embraced and eddied round, as each produced the note desired; and having thus achieved the first purpose of existence, they added to their music the perfume of duty faithfully fulfilled, until the air was weighted with fragrant sounds, changing in volume and in kind with every chord and combination.
At length the hall itself was full; perfume was crushing colour and colour crowding sound, but that grand march of life seemed only half complete. Again the adept raised and swept his hand, this time throwing into the transparent clouds around us variegated sparks bright with electric glow, like jewels flashing in the sun. An instant’s pause, during which the magnetism of that host changed the form of its appearance, then perfume, sound and colour were supplemented by a myriad gems giving still greater beauty to the fairy-like scene. At length from head of Siamedes a rainbow signal flashed, and the strains music gradually died away, but fragrance, light and colour still remained.
While this was proceeding, the attendants carried the patients in. Very tenderly was the service rendered, for Cushna was careful in the assignation and arrangement of each couch upon which they were laid as if they had been the subjects of excruciating pain – rather than lying in a state of unconsciousness – for whom he was anxious to exhaust his resources to mitigate their suffering. When the last couch had received its occupant a signal was given, and the music ceased.
At this time the hall was like a sea of variegated colours – a magic, incomparable sea, with its now motionless depths illumed by a million fairy lamps; a sea in which a mighty host lay engulfed, overwhelmed with joy and calm content. Well might it be so; for, oh! the life, increasing life, which found its birth therein! Its waters were allowed to rest, that they might softly bathe those sleepers with life’s fullness, and re-ingraft the existence which seemed to flicker in its disasters and catastrophes through which their past has led them. The practised eye of the Assyrian attentively watched the progress of each patient as the energising powers around them were absorbed and assimilated, until returning strength began to show itself, and the inoculation had produced its needed change.
When he was satisfied, throwing his mantle back across his shoulders with a kingly gesture, he raised his arms and waved them to and fro as a monarch would sway his sceptre, in confidence that some pre-command would be obeyed. The effect was talismanic. Those mysterious forces immediately assumed intelligence – understood his sign, and hastened to obey.
By the operation of some mystic law, each colour was divided from the rest, some being changed into forms of fruit or flowers; others, weaved into semblances of brocades of silk and plush and satin, were draped in graceful folds as decorative hangings upon the walls, further ornamented and embroidered with a multitude of gems, which flashed their lustre from the borders. Others, again, were woven into triumphal banners or emblems, with which the dome, arena, and seats were dressed; while the offering of the children, worked into lace of spotless purity, was gathered into festoons and valances to finish the decorations. Thus, by the simple act of the Assyrian’s will, was the hall transformed and arrayed, as if for some thanksgiving or welcome home, when a nation meets to honour the return of an exiled chief or king.
As he spread his hands to heaven, every knee around him bent in adoration. I knew it, though my eyes were fixed on him who, facing me, looked like a gladiator preparing for the contest, confident of victory, though death itself should be his adversary. Yet he was not proud or arrogant. All his majesty of mien, the glory of his strength, the perfection of his form, seemed to him unknown or, rather, for the moment were forgotten, and nothing but the child-like heart remained as he addressed his God. His thoughts flew upwards, like spasms of earth-engendered lightning flying towards the sun, pure and untinted by any shade of colour. They were directed to the Great Supreme, and nothing but unsullied purity can gain admission to that sacred presence.
Was there a quiver in their early flight? I do not know; but if so, it was due to the intense earnestness of the soul which poured its libations forth. Still no words; but in the silvern music I thought I could comprehend the burden of his heart: ‘Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; all that is in the heavens and the earth is Thine; Thine are all kingdoms, O Lord and Thou art exalted as head over all. Both riches and honour come of Thee; and in Thine hand is power and might, and in Thine hand it is to make great and to give strength unto all. Now, therefore, O Father, we thank Thee, and praise Thy glorious name.’
His prayer was done. There was no supplication. His confidence and faith declared that to be unnecessary. The presence of that host around him was a more eloquent and acceptable supplication than he could frame. God requires no superfluities. He was but the representative of the many, who desired to gain a victory over a hitherto triumphant wrong, and he was but the chosen champion for the combat. Stripped for the fray, he paused to lay his weapons at the feet of Him for whose glory he was about to fight, to thank his King for the use of such victorious arms, and then to await the royal sign to strike. He was there to break the bands of captivity, to give freedom to the slave, and in his eye the assurance of triumph shone. His victory was already won in the confidence he possessed.
His steady gaze still rested on that vaulted dome. He knew the answer would not tarry, and when it came it should find him waiting to receive it. A deeper hush fell over us, and then a cloud of glory, like a mantle of sunshine, descended, making him radiant with the power and presence of God.
No need to wait longer when clothed with such authority and sanction. He approached a couch upon which lay a young woman deformed almost past recognition of the human form. She had appliances to nearly every part of her body, not fitted help or render support, but rather to torture and force her in dwarfish and unnatural shapes. The eyes had been purposely turned to make her sight uncertain, while her limbs were so pressed and malformed in order to prevent the possibility unaided movement.
Let it be here distinctly remembered that this deformity was spiritual, but to my astonishment at that time, confirmed by later and considerably extended experience, I found that in the persons of these recent arrivals from earth, for whose benefit and assistance the chorales are specially held, spiritual restrictions arbitrarily forced upon an enquiring mind with a view of preventing it from overstepping dogmatic limits, produce upon the soul a disfigurement in growth as tangible and real as if they were surgical appliances purposely designed to effect such horrible shapes, and the Great Father in His all-embracing provision has designed this process of restoration that such oppressed and struggling souls should be at once restored to their normal condition and enter upon the immortal life free from the disabilities under which they have hitherto laboured. Further, let it not be supposed that I am seeking to create a poetic fiction, for which purpose I allow my fancy to roam in search of novelties or situations; truth is far more strange than any such ideal the mind could frame, and in this record I am satisfied to state the simple facts of God’s eternal law, as I have found – and you will find by-and-by.
My descriptions may jar upon your senses by their seemingly vulgar materiality; they may even cause a shock by what appears a coarse portrayal of, and as being antagonistic to, your cherished conception of the nature of this life. For that I cannot hold myself responsible. My attempt is to translate into earth’s prosaic vocabulary, so far as circumstances and means will allow, some slight idea of the realities and truths to be found in the poem and the music of this after-life. If the result is but a thick and guttural jargon, void of melody, and disappointing to your hopes, blame me not; the extent of my desire is but to indicate a very brief outline of what the picture might be if the facilities were at my disposal; but that outline is true to scale, as you yourself will find it one day by experience. Should you attempt to re-translate my record from the physical into the spiritual, that you may comprehend the truth as I behold it, let me offer one suggestion, by attention to which at least half your difficulty will be, cleared away. Death works one change, and it is this:
In the process of dissolution everything is altered except yourself; old things pass away and all things become new, but you will remain unmoved, unchanged, as the one world makes its exit and another its entrance in the theatre of your life. This transformation is effected in the twinkling of an eye when the wand of the Magician-Death, is waved. The material will fade away ‘like the baseless fabric of a vision’ ever after to appear as a vague and shadowy substance which must be sought for and be but dimly visible to the newly acquired state; while that world upon whose eternal shores your feet will rest, will leap from the realm of vision into a solid and startling reality, having foundations which never can be removed since they are aid deep down in the bosom of infinity, and whose inhabitants have solved the birth-pangs of immortality. Bear this in mind, and read the following pages in the light of this suggestion, then you will understand why I have not hesitated to use that language – however unworthy for the other reasons – which conveys to you the idea that the scenes among which I move are, to me at least, as real and solid as the earth at present appears to you.
Just another thought which offers food for meditation and reflection and may help to remove the impression that my statement of spiritual deformity is erroneous and imaginative. Parental profligacy, immorality, ignorance, accident , and a hundred other pre-natal influences produce physical and mental distortions in a child. Why then should it be illogical to assert that in like manner, spiritual errors, unnatural ideas, and bigoted restrictions, generate corresponding malformations and disfigurements in the soul, when it is set free from the flesh in which its shape and lineaments have been moulded ? Whether you may be able to satisfy yourself on the reasonableness of this point or not, the fact remains the same, and the time is not far distant when you will recognise its truth and appreciate the justice of the law by which it is governed. Be not deceived, the diseases of the soul resulting from personal sin are only removed and cured by slow and painful processes; but the unavoidable defects caused by other’s sin or force of circumstances, have a speedy rectification in such chorales as that to which I draw your attention.
But to return to my digression.
Very narrowly did I watch the Assyrian as he applied himself to the removal of those torturing restrictions. At the first, I must confess, it appeared to be a useless labour of love upon which he was engaged, since there was scarcely an indication of life remaining in the sufferer. Presently, however, she gave evident signs that she was still sensible to the pain they caused but even then I thought it would be greater kindness to let her die in peace rather than disturb her when too late to save; for in that moment of sympathy I had forgotten that it was impossible for her to die any more, since death itself was dead. With more tender care than a mother could have shown to an ailing child, the soft and gentle hands of that physician loosed and threw aside each bond, until at length the last was taken away and she lay at perfect liberty. She felt the freedom, and, glad to make an effort to use it, endeavoured, with considerable success, to turn, yawned, and stretched out her arms; then finding that all restraint was gone she finally straightened herself upon the couch, and rolling over fell at once into an easy and refreshing sleep. The whole movement was the spontaneous action of a person who, waking from a troubled dream before sufficient rest had been obtained, and feeling the terror of the nightmare broken at once sinks back again to sleep without fully being roused consciousness.
With what interest and sympathy Siamedes watched her progress can better be imagined than described, until she lay in that quiet and comfortable repose to which she had hitherto been a stranger. Then he was satisfied and turned to give his attention to the next case.
All my powers of observation were attracted to the one individual; the further work of liberation would be more or less a repetition of what had already been accomplished, and as there was much I could not understand, I judged a fitting opportunity had arrived to seek some explanation; therefore, turning to my companion, I asked:
“Will you explain what these bonds are, and how such deformities are possible here?”
“I have no doubt,” he replied, “but that this service is full of wonder and amazement to you. It must of necessity be so, until you grow familiar with our law and mode of existence – until you learn how scrupulously this life is a corollary of the one you leave behind. Hypocrisy, sham and cant are masks which are torn off as you come through the mists, and the real man – whether base or noble – stands undisguised, able to read and to be read of all men. With us no subterfuge is available for the concealment of unpleasant deformity, no matter whether it arises from your own sin or the neglect and criminality of another. Everything is known.
“To the practised eyes of Siamedes, Cushna, and thousands of such ministers engaged in their noble work, the real author and source of every such malformation can be told at a glance, and by an inexorable law, impossible to evade, the penalty and punishment of every wrong falls upon the offender. In this you will see there is a balancing of accounts and a righteous retribution for the deeds done in the body. It is a sad mistake to say that death levels all men, and that this life is a new one, while the record of the old one has been wiped out with the sponge of death. All life is a continuation of that which had gone before; and entering here you have but turned over the page to commence another chapter, the story and plot are the same.
“In this you will find that the mistakes of the past are rectified, overdue accounts have to be settled, and compensation awarded to those who have unjustly suffered. Men are here weighed in the balances of God, appraised by a valuer whose judgment is righteous, and against whose verdict there is no appeal but that of repentance. You will find no bribery and corruption; everything is sternly real; all men and things are just what they appear to be.
“The restrictions binding these friends have been worn in violence to their better judgment, but lacking power to conquer the forces opposed to them, they have become victims of circumstances, and have passed their lives in an irksome bondage, being dominated by wills and usages they could not successfully resist. If they had given a ready consent to custom and dogma, followed with unquestioning faith where others led, and been content to crush the right to think, they would have developed the required littleness of soul, without necessity to apply restraint. But they recognised the God within, and refused to still the voice calling them to newer, nobler, higher duties, for the welfare of their kind.
“Their prophetic utterances were dangerous to a craft, hence, the gag must be applied; their eyes saw visions of coming glory for the weary and oppressed, therefore, their sight must be distorted, lest the interests of a class be endangered; the intelligent vigour of the child proclaimed a leader in the man, and church and dogma forged letters to cripple his power, and force the noble stature of the giant into the contortions of the dwarf. You can see it was a battle to the death, noble lives have been hindered from work-wasted, yea worse; for whereas they were ordained for construction and deliverance, being forcibly tampered with they have been perverted by party bigotry, and compelled to struggle for existence instead of scattering the blessings they were designed to carry to their fellows. The result is to be seen in the wrecks which lie before us. Wasted opportunities, wasted intellects, wasted lives! For all these things those who are responsible must be brought to judgment.
“Guilt must be righteously punished, while the excess of pain which the victim has endured must receive its legitimate compensation. With the punishment we have nothing to do, the natural law of this life is fully adequate to that, and every guilty soul will reap the just harvest of the seed he has sown. It is that we may take part in the compensation that we are here. Justice demands that an instant liberation shall be given from those bonds, and life must be lavished upon the sufferers until we have helped to build up and invigorate their souls, then each one shall reach the full development for which it was design and for which it wept and struggled, but was prevented by action of oppressors.”
“But where do we find mercy and forgiveness in the administration of such inexorable justice?” I asked.
“Every attribute of God has its legitimate sphere of operation,” he replied, “and the inviolate maintenance of each in its appointed order is essential to the continuance of the almighty and all-wise perfection of our Father, but it is impossible for any one of these to usurp the jurisdiction of another. Suppose, for a moment, that mercy was allowed to withstand justice and prevail in any single instance; the immediate result would be an injustice; since to show mercy to the offender would be an injustice to the offended, unless, in turn, you show him mercy too. Carry this to its logical sequence and you will be compelled to abolish justice in favour of mercy, in which case punishment and retribution would become an impossibility; law would be a dead letter, and sin, freed from fear or restraint, would revel in its license. But when we see the working of the attributes of God according to His Divinely appointed plan, we find how infinitely wise has been the adaptation to the necessities of the human family in its development.
“Take those to which you have referred – Mercy, Justice, and Forgiveness. Mercy operates on earth, where patience, forbearance, and long-suffering, are so much needed during the early stages of the conscious existence of the soul. Imagine the catastrophe and disaster which would ensue if unerring justice was enthroned at such a crisis in life’s history – would there be any subsequent immortality to record? Unconscious, practically, of his whence and whither, an untutored experimentalist as to his powers and capabilities, failure and mistake. the law by which he shall develop and learn to understand himself, uncertain if it be right to gratify even the most ardent of his longings, filled with fear and trembling at the forces surrounding him, a volume of nature before him of nature of whose hieroglyphics he is ignorant though called upon to read, himself the most profound mystery among, the million other problems – under such circumstances, how often would earth be swept clear of man if justice was applied to every transgression of the law ; that justice which is perfect as its Framer?
“No! This attribute’ cannot be applied to such an undeveloped condition; what man could be found wild enough to imagine that it is? Is not rather the absence of justice so manifest as to be used for an argument against the existence of a God, while it has become a proverb among the nations that ‘Villainy is the heir to Fortune, but Honesty marries Miss.’ Oppression, tyranny and persecution are rampant, that ‘Might is Right’ is the universal motto practically both of politics and religion; the affluent and wealthy are the honoured of the nations, the poor and needy, the curse and bane. Is this right? you will ask me, and I reply, a thousand times no! But even the injustice of man is not strong enough to cause God to change the action of His attributes, and substitute justice for Mercy upon the earth.
“This universal custom is wrong, and man has gained enough knowledge to know that it is so; but God is long-suffering that the oppressor may be able to redeem himself before he is brought in to judgment. Mercy pleads, while hope of restitution remains; but once let the law take hold of the offender, and the issue passes from the court of Mercy to justice. The mists marking the boundary line between that state and this, also form the vestibule of the hall of judgment, and every soul must pass through and receive its righteous verdict before it enters here. Mercy has no power to cross that threshold; the soul stands alone before that inscrutable tribunal its own witness, its own judge, hence its life deeds pass the sentence from which no appeal is possible.”
“But forgiveness; what of that?” I asked.
“That follows later,” he replied. “The penalties enforced by that Justice are for wrongs committed against your fellow-man such sins must be redeemed, they are never forgiven, for no one not even God, has power to forgive a trespass against any other than Himself, such being contrary to His own law. When the penalty for sins against his fellow has been righteously discharged then the repentant soul has power to ask forgiveness for his sin against God, which is always freely granted; but it is requisite that he be first reconciled to his brother, for only ‘he that clean hands and a pure heart’ can ascend to the presence of God where Christ will secure his full remission.”
I was silent before the unexpected elucidation of a difficulty which had always perplexed me, for I knew my instructor not expounding his opinions, but actual facts which were very widely opposed to all the ideas and teachings I had ever heard on earth, and yet they are fraught with the most momentous interest to every soul who has to pass the mists, and in the depths of my being I yearned again to discover some means whereby I could reach earth, and make the revelation for the benefit the blinded and the ignorant. My friend, however, did not leave me long to myself, but called my attention to what was passing in the arena.
Every bandage and restriction had been removed, and all the patients lay free from the bonds with which earth had bound them. The order of procedure had been to take the most serious case first, and so on through the whole, that the resuscitation of all might be accomplished as simultaneously as possible. Very earnestly did I watch the gradual absorption of that mysterious spectre lake into which they had been carried, the wither limbs and contorted frames expanding and growing as they fed upon that strange nourishment, until every trace of colour had been abstracted from the atmosphere in the vicinity – 70 – of the couches whereon they lay. Then rays of magnetism were drawn from appointed individuals, according as the Assyrian required to form some combination specially adapted to each case, these in turn being broken at the moment when the first traces of colour seemed to evolve from the sleepers. This, I was informed, afforded the natural indication of the condition of each soul.
By the exercise of that mystic power by which he weaved the unique decorations of that hall, Siamedes now resolved the flowers, fruit, and bannerets round the arena and seats, and called them to bathe the sleepers with the mellowed influences produced by the combinations they had formed. The magnetism evolved from each individual had a sympathetic attraction for the corresponding colour called into service, and was drawn in billowy clouds around the couches, over which they rolled to and fro in rhythmic time with the music born of the returning motion. Sweet and soothing was the lullaby it chanted, and the silent hush of the attendant thousands was a fitting accompaniment to the grateful psalm.
Without a sign or movement from the director, who calmly watched the scene, the melody concluded, every thirsty soul had drank its fill, and the waves of life which yet remained, lifted above our heads, leaving the sleepers “beautiful in all the soul’s expansion’ and waiting for nothing but a waking kiss to rouse them to a life of which as yet they were unconscious.
The Work was done, the victory accomplished; but the victor betrayed no pride at the conquest in his deep humility. I did not need to be told that the final number of that life- giving chorale was at hand; but what new powers would it develop? Were there still phases of magnetic wonder to be revealed? other mysteries to be displayed? The thought of the miracle wrought in the condition of those sleepers filled me with hope that I had misunderstood the meaning of my instructor respecting the exclusion of mercy from his life; and, turning to him, I pointed to the couches, and asked:
“Is it not mercy which has been shown to these, in liberating them from their condition of suffering?”
“Not by any means” he replied.
“By what name do you call it then?”
“Justice. Hitherto they have been the victims of an injustice they were powerless to withstand; we have only been the instruments of helping to terminate the effects of the wrong, and introducing them into a commensurate compensation. You judge of justice in the light of your earth impressions; let me advise you to get rid of that idea. Justice rightly dispensed is justness, and such you will ever find it with us; it is the quality of being just carried to perfection, with every attendant circumstance taken into consideration; think of it as such, and you will love its righteousness, in which there is no shade of fickleness, favouritism or partiality.”
“Would you not call it justice tempered with mercy?”
“No! Strict justice needs no tempering. You have been in the habit of thinking of justice as necessarily allied to oppression. It is so on earth, but you will not find that here therefore you have to learn that with us it means strict rightness, and if you add any mercy to that on behalf of either party, the adulteration produces injustice.”
I could see that the error had been mine, due to a misconception and misinterpretation of the word according to the earth impressions; the shadow which had for a time passed across the firmament of my heaven was dissolved by his explanation, and my heart again was glad.
The work was complete. Siamedes spread his hands to give his thanks to God, while every knee again was bowed as the joyous flashes winged their flight. Then, reverently dismantling his shoulders of that halo, he spread it on the air to receive throbs of praise and adoration that pealed like a great Amen, with which it ascended to the Father.
Still that audience lingered, the silence growing moment more profound; but I knew they were waiting for the benediction that would rouse those sleepers to the consciousness of life upon which they had unknowingly entered – to the recognition of the restoration which had taken place – to the realisation of the fact that death had touched them, and in that touch shackles had fallen away, whose weight beforetime had exhausted their energies in a painful but unsuccessful struggle.
What a revelation! It would be a greater surprise than I myself had experienced. What were their surroundings when the tide of consciousness ebbed away and the cloud of oblivion fell upon them? What a gulf lay between that sleeping and the waking! How would they realise its certainty – how be convinced of its fact? Would not the waking be a dream – a fairy dream – more enchanting than the imagination ever conjured up before? It was a time of supreme suspense to me to watch that advent into the knowledge and realisation of immortality, and every sense I possessed was on the alert to follow its development.
It was not long delayed. The walls before me opened, and from that arc of light crowning the zenith of the path on which I stood to contemplate the celestial landscape, a flood of glory fell into the hall, like a harbinger and forerunner of a more resplendent presence still. I looked, and down the halo-viaduct beheld a chariot as of burnished silver – flying – drawn by four steeds of transparent creamy whiteness, gifted with the speed of the winds of a hurricane. Time had not opportunity for birth before the equipage was in our midst, then, pausing for a moment while one of its riders stepped into the hall, it turned and disappeared. The glory-road was then withdrawn, the walls were closed, and my attention was riveted upon the stranger.
He was a young man, scarcely more than a youth; graceful and noble. The first impression conveyed to my mind was the strange combination of the innocence of the child with the wisdom of the sage which formed a very striking feature in his person. I loved him the instant I beheld him. His presence inspired my confidence, forbade the approach of fear, but also whispered a caution against presumptuous assumption. In him were blended strength and gentleness like a bed of down on a granite rock, while he emphasised every quality a man would desire to find in a cherished friend. From his eyes love and patience streamed in a steady, ebbless flow, his mouth breathed the fragrance of fidelity and affection, upon his shoulders rested the mantle of condescension, and his waist was bound with the girdle of constancy. He was a monarch, but his kingship was of service, and his prowess had been gained in lifting up the fallen.
For a brief moment he paused to receive and return the salutation which greeted him, then proceeded to execute his commission by the bestowal of the kiss which should break the seal of that final sleep and usher the sleepers into the day which knows no eventide. Over one and then another he bent his radiant form, loosing the influence of the refreshing spell which still caressed them, and as their eyes opened upon the bewildering scene around, he caught each new-born soul in his strong embrace, lifted it to his feet, and bade it welcome into a life of sympathy and compensation. The revelation and recognition of the truth were simultaneous. It was simply a glance of enquiring wonder, followed by a smile of inexpressible joy, and all was over.
With one impulse the audience rose and sang another chorus – this time it was a welcome home, answered by a pathetic doxology from thankful hearts, the theme of which, words and music, I have tried in vain to learn, and then that Magnetic Chorale was complete.
As the congregation dispersed the new comer lingered in the hall in conversation with the Assyrian, and I asked my companion:
“Who is he?”
“Myhanene!” he replied.