THE friend with whom I was staying having asked me to obtain for her, if possible, while in her house a precise and practical instruction on this subject, I found myself surrounded in my sleep by a group of spirits, who conversed together upon it evidently for my benefit. They began by saying that all the mistakes made about the Bible arise out of the mystic books being referred to times, places, persons, and things 2 material, instead of being regarded as containing only eternal verities about things spiritual. The opening chapters of the sacred books, they said, exhibit the meaning and object of religion, and the method of salvation. They are an epitome of the whole Bible, a kind of argument prefixed to the divine drama of the spiritual history of man.
The key to their interpretation is to be found in the word Now. There is no past in the Divine Mind, no future in the Divine Economy. To each is one thing forbidden under penalty of death. This one thing is disobedience to the Divine Will. Death is the natural and inevitable result of rebellion against the Central Will, which is the Tree of Life. Death ensues in the body when the central will of the system no longer binds in harmony the
component elements of the body. And death ensues in the soul when it is no longer desirous of union with the Divine Will. Wherefore disobedience and rebellion are death. But to desire ardently that which God wills, and to give oneself even to the death to fulfil God's Will, is life. For "he who will find his life shall lose it"; which means that he who seeks his own in opposition to the Divine Will, shall perish. "And he who loses his life shall find it"; which means that he who giveth himself to the death to fulfil the Divine Will, shall have--nay, already hath--eternal life.
Now, the injunction laid on every human soul is, not to disobey the Divine Will. For, in the day that the soul wilfully opposes itself to God, she shall surely die. This means that the natural death or dissolution of the body shall, in such case, entail the dissolution and dispersion of the soul. For the Divine Breath, or Spirit, is the central life of the human soul, or true man; and if the elements of this personality be no longer bound in obedience to the Divine Fire, they will become dissolved and dispersed in the void, and so the individual perish. "Dying, thou shalt die." The rebellious Adam hath not eternal life. Death in the body is for him death in the soul. The soul is a purer and finer essence than the mere matter of the body. But when she is rebellious, and her elements are no longer bound to their central fire, they continue, after the death of the body, to disunite and disintegrate, until, at length, the Holy Spirit being withdrawn, the soul dissolves into the void and is no more. This is eternal death. On the other hand, the soul redeemed by obedience to the Divine Will, withdraws itself, and aspires ever more and more to its centre, until--absorbed therein--it becomes like unto God, wholly spiritual. This is eternal life.
Now, "the Gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." "For, as in the earthly and rebellious Adam we die; so in the Christ we are made alive for evermore." That is, that inasmuch as by disobedience to the Divine Will the soul brings on itself dissolution and eternal death; so, when it is regenerate and strives continually to attain the Christ nature, it obtains thereby eternal life. For it arises necessarily out of the law of the universe that nothing can continue to exist which is out of harmony with the Divine Central Will. Now, the nature which is in most perfect harmony with the Divine Will is the Christ-nature. Wherefore, of the redeemed universe the perfect chord is, Thy Will be done.
But had it been permitted to the rebellious and fallen Adam, after his act of disobedience in plucking and eating of the forbidden fruit, to "put forth his hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and to live for ever," the result would have been an eternal hell. For then the soul would have continued to exist for ever while in a state of separation by disobedience from God, and while insulting and defying God. Such division of the universe against itself would have involved its destruction--a catastrophe which can by no possibility occur. And the condition would have involved the soul in a perpetual hell of misery; wherefore, in merciful arrest of such a doom, God drove out the fallen soul from the reach of eternal life. But even while doing so, God pronounced the words of hope and redemption. For with the curse comes the promise, "Adam falling, Christ redeems."
For the soul, having accomplished the act of disobedience, has its "eyes opened." And it now perceives that alone and divorced from the Divine Will it is "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," as said of the Church of Laodicea in the Apocalypse; and Adam, knowing he is fallen, "hides" himself. For apart from God, Who is its life, the soul is nothing. And this knowledge of her shameful condition is all the soul gains by rebellion. And so the lesson to the soul is this:--If thou disunite thyself from God and make thy desire earthwards, thou art as the dust of the ground, and must die the death of the body. But if thou desire only God, and make God's law thy will, and its accomplishment thy delight, thou becomest as God, and hast eternal life.
17:1 Paris, July 29, 1880. Referred to in Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, p. 369.
17:2 In the First Edition the word "things" was, inadvertently, omitted from the text, and the passage read: "places and persons material." This is confirmed by E. M.'s quotation from this Illumination in the Life of Anna Kingsford (vol. i, p. 369), which includes the word "things." S. H. H.