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The Spirit's Second Visit






Part of: SATURN
From: A Journey In Other Worlds

Accordingly, the next morning they concentrated their minds
simultaneously on the spirit, wishing with all their strength
that he should reappear.

"Whether he be far or near," said Ayrault, "he must feel that,
for we are using the entire force of our
minds."

Shadows began to form, and dancing prismatic colours appeared,
but as yet there was no sign of the deceased bishop, when
suddenly he took shape among them, his appearance and
disappearance being much like that of stereopticon views on the
sheet before a lantern. He held himself erect, and his
thoughtful, dignified face had the same calm expression it had
worn before.

"We attracted your attention," said Ayrault, "in the way you said
we might, because we longed so to see you."

"Yes," added Bearwarden and Cortlandt, "we felt we MUST see you
again."

"I am always at your service," replied the spirit, "and will
answer your questions. With regard to my visibility and
invisibility"--he continued, with a smile, "for I will not wait
for you to ask the explanation of what is in your minds--it is
very simple. A man's soul can never die; a manifestation of the
soul is the spirit; this has entity, consciousness, and will, and
these also live forever. As in the natural or material life, as
I shall call it, will affects the material first. Thus, a child
has power to move its hand or a material object, as a toy, before
it can become the medium in a psychological seance. So it is
here. Before becoming visible to your eyes, I, by my will, draw
certain material substances in the form of gases from the ground,
water, or air around me. These take any shape I wish--not
necessarily that of man, though it is more natural to appear as
we did on earth--and may absorb a portion of light, and so be
able to cast a shadow or break up the white rays into prismatic
colours, or they may be wholly invisible. By an effort of the
will, then, I combine and condense these gases--which consist
principally of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon--into
flesh, blood, water, or anything else. You have already learned
on earth that, by the application of heat, every solid and every
liquid substance, which is solid or liquid simply because of the
temperature at which you find it, can be expanded into gas or
gases; and that by cold and pressure every gas can be reduced to
a liquid or a solid. On earth the state of a substance, whether
solid, liquid, or gaseous, depends simply upon those two
conditions. Here neither thermal nor barometric changes are
required, for, by mastering the new natural laws that at death
become patent to our senses, we have all the necessary control.
It requires but an effort of my will to be almost instantly
clothed in human form, and but another effort to rearrange the
molecules in such a way as to make the envelope visible. Some
who have been dead longer, or had a greater natural aptitude than
I, have advanced further, and all are learning; but the
difference in the rate at which spirits acquire control of
previously unknown natural laws varies far more than among
individuals on earth.

"These forms of organic life do not disintegrate till after
death; here in the natural state they break down and dissolve
into their structural elements in full bloom, as was done by the
fungi. The poisonous element in the deadly gust, against which I
warned you, came from the gaseous ingredients of toadstools,
which but seldom, and then only when the atmosphere has the
greatest affinity for them, dissolve automatically, producing a
death-spreading wave, against which your meteorological
instruments in future can warn you. The slight fall you noticed
in temperature was because the specific heat of these gases is
high, and to become gas while in the solid state they had to
withdraw some warmth from the air. The fatal breath of the
winged lizards--or dragons, as you call them--results from the
same cause, the action of their digestion breaking up the fungus,
which does not kill them, because they exhale the poisonous part
in gaseous form with their breath. The mushrooms dissolve more
easily; the natural separation that takes place as they reach a
certain stage in their development being precipitated by
concussion or shock.

"Having seen that, as on earth, we gain control of the material
first, our acquisitiveness then extends to a better understanding
and appreciation of our new senses, and we are continually
finding new objects of beauty, and new beauties in things we
supposed we already understood. We were accustomed on earth to
the marvellous variety that Nature produced from apparently
simple means and presented to our very limited senses; here there
is an indescribably greater variety to be examined by vastly
keener senses. The souls in hell have an equally keen but
distorted counterpart of our senses, so that they see in a
magnified form everything vile in themselves and in each other.
To their senses only the ugly and hateful side is visible, so
that the beauty and perfume of a flower are to them as loathsome
as the appearance and fumes of a toadstool. As evolution and the
tendency of everything to perpetuate itself and intensify its
peculiarities are invariable throughout the universe, these
unhappy souls and ourselves seem destined to diverge more and
more as time goes on; and while we constantly become happier as
our capacity for happiness increases, their sharpening senses
will give them a worse and worse idea of each other, till their
mutual repugnance will know no bounds, and of everything
concerning which they obtain knowledge through their senses.
Thus these poor creatures seem to be the victims of circumstances
and the unalterable laws of fate, and were there such a thing as
death, their misery would unquestionably finally break their
hearts. That there will be final forgiveness for the condemned,
has long been a human hope; but as yet they have experienced
none, and there is no analogy for it in Nature.

"But while you have still your earthly bodies and the
opportunities they give you of serving God, you need not be
concerned about hell; no one on earth, knowing how things really
are, would ever again forsake His ways. The earthly state is the
most precious opportunity of securing that for which a man would
give his all. Even from the most worldly point of view, a man is
an unspeakable fool not to improve his talents and do good. What
would those in sheol not give now for but one day in the flesh on
earth, of which you unappreciatives may still have so many? The
well-used opportunities of even one hour might bring joy to those
in paradise forever, and greatly ease the lot of those in hell.
In doing acts of philanthropy, however, you must remember the
text of the sermon the doctor of divinity preached to Craniner
and Ridley just before they perished at the stake: 'Though I
give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me
nothing'--which shows that even good deeds must be performed in
the proper spirit.

"A new era is soon to dawn on earth. Notwithstanding your great
material progress, the future will exceed all the past. Man will
find every substance's maximum use, thereby vastly increasing his
comfort. Then, when advanced in science and reason, with the
power of his senses increased by the delicate instruments that
you, as the forerunners of the coming man, are already learning
to make, may he cease to be a groveller, like our progenitors the
quadrupeds, and may his thoughts rise to his Creator, who has
brought him to such heights through all the intricacies of the
way. Your preparation for the life to come can also be greatly
aided by intercourse with those who have already died. When you
really want to associate spiritually with us, you can do so; for,
though perhaps only one in a hundred million can, like me, so
clothe himself as to be again visible to mortal eyes, many of us
could affect gelatine or extremely sensitive plates that would
show interruptions in the ultra-violet chemical rays that, like
the thermal red beyond the visible spectroscope, you know exist
though you can neither see nor feel them. Spirits could not
affect the magnetic eye, because magnetism, though immaterial
itself, is induced and affected only by a material substance.
The impression on the plate, however, like the prismatic colours
you have already noticed, can be produced by a slight rarefaction
of the hydrogen in the air, so that, though no spirit could be
photographed as such, a code and language might be established by
means of the effect produced on the air by the spirit's mind. I
am so interested in the subject of my disquisition that I had
almost forgotten that your spirits are still subject to the
requirements of the body. Last time I dined with you; let me now
play the host."

"We shall be charmed to dine with you," said Ayrault, "and shall
be only too glad of anything that will keep you with us."

"Then," said the spirit, "as the tablecloth is laid, we need only
to have something on it. Let each please hold a corner," he
continued, taking one himself with his left hand, while he passed
his right to his brow. Soon flakes as of snow began to form in
the air above, and slowly descended upon the cloth; and, glancing
up, the three men saw that for a considerable height this process
was going on, the flakes increasing in size as they fell till
they attained a length of several inches. When there was enough
for them all on the table-cloth the shower ceased. Sitting down
on the ground, they began to eat this manna, which had a
delicious flavour and marvellous purity and freshness.

"As you doubtless have already suspected," said the spirit, "the
basis of this in every case is carbon, combined with nitrogen in
its solid form, and with the other gases the atmosphere here
contains. You may notice that the flakes vary in colour as well
as in taste, both of which are of course governed by the gas with
which the carbon, also in its visible form, is combined. It is
almost the same process as that performed by every plant in
withdrawing carbon from the air and storing it in its trunk in
the form of wood, which, as charcoal, is again almost pure
carbon, only in this case the metamorphosis is far more rapid.
This is perhaps the natural law that Elijah, by God's aid,
invoked in the miracle of the widow's cruse, and that produced
the manna that fed the Israelites in the desert; while apergy
came in play in the case of the stream that Moses called from the
rock in the wilderness, which followed the descendants of Abraham
over the rough country through which they passed. In examining
miracles with the utmost deference, as we have a right to, we see
one law running through all. Even in Christ's miracle of
changing the water to wine, there was a natural law, though only
one has dwelt on earth who could make that change, which, from a
chemist's standpoint, was peculiarly difficult on account of the
required fermentation, which is the result of a developed and
matured germ. Many of His miracles, however, are as far beyond
my small power as heaven is above the earth. Much of the
substance of the loaves and fishes with which He fed the
multitude--the carbon and nitrogenous products--also came from
the air, though He could have taken them from many other sources.
The combination and building up of these in the ordinary way
would have taken weeks or months, but was performed
instantaneously by His mighty power."

"What natural laws are known to you," asked Bearwarden, "that we
do not understand, or concerning the existence of which we are
ignorant?"

"Most of the laws in the invisible world," said the spirit, "are
the counterpart or extension of laws that appear on earth, though
you as yet understand but a small part of those, many not having
come to your notice. You, for instance, know that light, heat,
and motion are analogous, and either of the last two can be
converted into the other; but in practice you produce motion of
the water molecules by the application of heat, and seldom
reverse it. One of the first things we master here is the power
to freeze or boil water, by checking the motion of the molecules
in one case, and by increasing it, and their mutual repulsion, in
the other. This is by virtue of a simple law, though in this
case there is no natural manifestation of it on earth with which
to compare it. While knowledge must be acquired here through
study, as on earth, the new senses we receive with the awakening
from death render the doing so easy, though with only the senses
we had before it would have been next to impossible.

"At this moment snow is falling on the Callisto; but this you
could not know by seeing, and scarcely any degree of evolution
could develop your sight sufficiently, unassisted by death. With
your instruments, however, you could already perceive it,
notwithstanding the intervening rocks.

"Your research on earth is the best and most thorough in the
history of the race; and could we but give you suggestions as to
the direction in which to push it, the difference between
yourselves and angels might be but little more than that between
the number and intensity of the senses and the composition of the
body. By the combination of natural laws you have rid yourselves
of the impediment of material weight, and can roam through space
like spirits, or as Columbus, by virtue of the confidence that
came with the discovery of the mariner's compass, roamed upon and
explored the sea. You have made a good beginning, and were not
your lives so short, and their requirements so peremptory, you
might visit the distant stars.

"I will show you the working of evolution. Life sleeps in
minerals, dreams in plants, and wakes in you. The rock worn by
frost and age crumbles to earth and soil. This enters the
substance of the primordial plant, which, slowly rising; produces
the animal germ. After that the way is clear, and man is evolved
from protoplasm through the vertebrate and the ape. Here we have
the epitome of the struggle for life in the ages past, and the
analogue of the journey in the years to come. Does not the
Almighty Himself make this clear where He says through his
servant Isaiah, 'Behold of these stones will I raise up
children'?--and the name Adam means red earth. God, having
brought man so far, will not let evolution cease, and the next
stage of life must be the spiritual."

"Can you tell us anything," asked Ayrault, "concerning the bodies
that those surviving the final judgment will receive?"

"Notwithstanding the unfolding of knowledge that has come to us
here," replied the spirit, "there are still some subjects
concerning which we must look for information to the inspired
writers in the Bible, and every gain or discovery goes to prove
their veracity. We know that there are celestial bodies and
bodies terrestrial, and that the spiritual bodies we shall
receive in the resurrection will have power and will be
incorruptible and immortal. We also know by analogy and reason
that they will be unaffected by the cold and void of space, so
that their possessors can range through the universe for
non-nillions and decillions of miles, that they will have
marvellous capacities for enjoying what they find, and that no
undertaking or journey will be too difficult, though it be to the
centre of the sun. Though many of us can already visit the
remote regions of space as spirits, none can as yet see God; but
we know that as the sight we are to receive with our new bodies
sharpens, the pure in heart will see Him, though He is still as
invisible to the eyes of the most developed here as the ether of
space is to yours."





Next: Cassandra And Cosmology

Previous: A Great Void And A Great Longing



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