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
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
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
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