"Yes, my hitherto misguided brother you are entitled to, and will receive consideration now that you have fallen into the hands of God - not the God you have been authorized to set before your fellow-men as the central figure in a man-made system of theology, but the God who was made manifest in the life, the teaching and the works of His anointed, who 'will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth,' the power of whose irresistible love you will be no longer be able to escape, when, once, like the wretched prodigal, you awake and come to yourself.
"Let us sit down for a moment while I tell you something of the loving kindness
of the Father with whom you have now to do," and the four of us threw ourselves on the crest of the slope while Rael poured out his soul in a setting of the gospel that was old and yet entrancingly new by the way in which it was declared.
"The epitome of every life the world has known - ever can know" - he
began - "is to be found in connection with the records of the life of
Jesus; the commentary and details, so far as are essential, are set forth
in the other parts of scripture.
The law and the prophets are not doctrinal, philosophical and scientific codes, placed in the hands of priests for the government of the people; ….they are allegories, given to children that the older may teach the younger the simple love-stories the Father has written to excite and stimulate the love of His beloved
But as the variety of time, place, circumstance, position, mental ability and inherited gilt will be combined in producing an innumerable diversity of personality, while frequently large groups will be more closely held together by one or another of distinctive traits, so interblended as to retain the union of the whole family, the stories are not told in consecutive chapters and complete volumes, but the allegories are set, like jewels in the histories of men, families or nations, that the child playing at 'hide-and-seek' may search and find, and, learning to piece each lesson in accordance with its own conception of its Father's image, may present its own idea of its unseen Father's portrait in the life it builds.
The eternal King hath declared that 'Death is swallowed up in victory' - when now you reach the uttermost of the extremity of wandering you reach the extremity of
all but the eternal, and the sweep of the circumference takes an upward turn.
You cannot suffocate in the filth of the swine-trough, since there is an everlasting arm even underneath the mire to lift up the head until the vilest prodigal awakes with the latent determination to escape.
"I am not saying that you have to meet this limit - far be that from me.
You are now in the realm of law and justice, not administered as in the earthly court, but in accordance with the inviolable righteousness of God. You will be neither dragged nor escorted to any place other than for which you have prepared yourself, but when we leave you, our brother Eldare may save you much trouble - perhaps also sorrow - by pointing out the way in which your own place lies, then you will be left to find it for yourself, and when you select it, no one will attempt to dispute your choice.
"But though you will be free from outward restraint in selecting your first abode, it is quite certain to me where your choice will fall."
"Will you be kind enough to tell me?" he entreated in a still more chastened spirit. "Will it be with other clerics, since you say we each go to our own place?"
Rael met the half-expectant gaze with which the entreaty was made with
a look of pitiful commiseration. and did not hasten to reply. Then with a
marked deliberation he said:
"There are no clerics here.
Such distinctions, with all such like accessories of Vanity Fair, lie yonder," pointing away to the great banks of mists.
"All the pomps and vanities of the seductive revelries of the flesh lie buried with the body. These cannot rise again.
For you that Fair is over;
its attractive drama is ended;
the plaudits of the entertained have ceased;
the curtain has fallen;
the robes in which you elected to strut the stage have been doffed;
and I have before me not the popular hero of the footlights,
but the miserable actor who is seeking for a shelter where he can lay his head - for some friend who will break and give him the bread for which he is starving. How gladly would I give you to eat, but in your infatuation for your art you have so weakened your constitution that to give you solid food would only be to increase your suffering.
You need the most skilled and careful treatment to secure your recovery. It will be painful to begin with - due to your neglect to take precaution in the past.
You aspired to fame, and won it;
but in your victory you lost your soul's health;
now you have to fight a sterner battle to recover it.
But you need not despair. However drastic your treatment may have to be, let this help you to bear it - it cannot end fatally.
Nor will you be left to bear it unattended. You may have to pass through a
Babylonian furnace on your way; but fear not, the fire is only an agent for purification, to carry away and get rid of the filth, it cannot destroy life; and though in the pains of the ordeal you may not be conscious of the fact, there will be with you, in the midst of the furnace, one like unto the Son of Man, to watch and deliver you when the purifying effect is secured.
It may be that the crucible may be necessary to remove the dross that is poisoning your life; if so, the refiner will be in constant attendance; and when, at length, he can clearly see his own image reflected in your depths he will bring you forth back to the spot on which we are standing now.
"When, in the providence of God, you are able to do this, you will be altogether another man - your eyes will be opened, your understanding enlarged, and taking a review of your whole career, you will be filled with wonder and surprise at the tender loving-kindness of the Father which has been made manifest to you.
I would that I could save you from all that lies between now and then in the pain of the purifying process, but the seed has been sown, and the harvest must be reaped,
but in the reaping you will find the blessing that maketh rich, and when we meet again you will tell me that the gain has been far in excess of the cost."
With this we left him.
It may be that I am wrong in my estimates of the comparison, but as I look back upon this incident, I cannot recall an experience that filled me with a greater yearning to do something to alleviate its consequences than the case we were then leaving behind us.
Several times did I turn my head and cast a look of melancholy desire upon that suffering soul.
At length my sympathy grew too strong for resistance, and I entreated Rael:
"Is it not possible for us to do something in some way to help him?"
"Nothing more," he replied laconically, but there was a volume of eloquent meaning in the sympathetic shake of the head by which it was accompanied.
"It seems to me to be almost criminal to leave him alone just as he is," I
"His case is not exactly as it seems to your inexperienced eyes," he replied. "For us to attempt to do more, at present, will not only be ill advised, but detrimental. Eldare is far more competent to render the aid he needs than either you or I, and much as either of us would be glad to assist him, after what has been accomplished we must be content to leave him until such time as further treatment will be helpful rather than otherwise."
"Pardon the presumption of my ignorance, Rael," I pleaded in my importunity, "but if we remained at hand, could we not the more readily assist him when he really needed it?"
There was more of commendation than reproof in the look he gave me as he asked
"And would you suggest our neglect of other legitimate duties while we waited until he should appeal for assistance, then to discover that others had been appointed who were better qualified for the purpose than ourselves?"
"Ah, my friend, forgive me, I am admonished indeed. In my ignorance I knew not what I asked, but in my sympathy with suffering I wanted to stretch out a hand to help.
"There is nothing to repent of or be forgiven in anything you have done, my brother," he replied, his face brightening into a beam of commendation. "So far as I am permitted to read it, this whole incident has had for one of its purposes the presentation of this test to you: to ascertain whether at the instant when you might put your newly found power of 'thereth' into operation, you would be willing, at the call of duty, to waive your personal gratification in order to perform a doubtful
Your response has been the equivalent of having successfully rendered the service for which you pleaded, and the reward of it will be yours."
"Oh Rael," I cried, almost trembling with gratitude at the protecting power which had been afforded to me in the trial, "what manner of men we ought to be as we move to and fro among these interblended opportunities of Providence!"
"Now you are approaching that attitude of soul that it is necessary to attain on earth in order to prevent such catastrophes as the one we have just encountered."
"Should I be wrong," I carefully ventured to enquire, "if I asked the nature of the sin to which his downfall was due?"
"No, I could read his record as in an open book from the motley character of his apparel, and you will presently be equally able to do the same, but it is neither necessary nor advisable to practice too close a scrutiny.
We are not judges, but rather ministers. It is no part of our work to examine and discover whether 'the last farthing' of the penalty has been paid, but rather to try to anticipate the redemption by imparting what strength we may to leave the bondage at the earliest available instant.
But of the general aspects and symptoms of a case it is well for those who are brought into contact with it to be familiar in order to become the more efficient in its treatment.
In those main features this case is a very common one; it is one of spiritual
petrifaction arising from a mechanical and insincere formalism without any approach to real spiritual life to control it."
"Is not much of that due first of all to taints we receive from our parents, then as children from observation, and finally from the spiritual teachers who claim authority to teach us?"
"We recognize that perhaps more clearly than you may be inclined to admit. That is why I have said, 'we are not judges.'
At the same time, I can refer to yourself in support of my claim that a man has power, if he chooses to use it, in most cases, to break away from these restrictive
influences, and worship God in the beauty of holiness, in spite of any and every spider's web, whether of science, philosophy or theology, which any organization or combination may seek to throw around him.
The standard of judgment by which a soul is judged on his arrival here is not perfection - no man is perfect, or can be so, until he is lost in his union with God - but by that approach towards perfection which he, personally, had been able to attain.
An exemplary instance of that was given by the Master Himself in the case of the woman who had broken the box of costly ointment over his head. He expressed no opinion in respect to the act in itself, whether it was discreet or otherwise - that He
left as it may or may not have been - but of the motive which had prompted it He said 'She hath done what she could.'
Such is the standard of the judgment here delivered, not by the verdict of any
individual, but by the revelation of the life which has passed through the
God demands to know how the balance of our stewardship stands concerning the soul He has entrusted to our care.
We have to meet Him with the reward of our trading with our fellow men in our hands; if we have been slothful or buried our talents in the earth, there is no admission to His presence until we have corrected our folly - unless we wish to be condemned.
But having discovered this fact on arrival here, it is demanded that we set about correcting our error at once that we may all be found ready to present ourselves in the day when He shall make up His jewels."