The author of this work used the pseudonym Seti but internet searches revealed that this book was written by John Archibald Douglas Parker. I searched for him at Ancestry.co.uk which revealed that he died in 1937 and therefore under the 70 year rule (UK Copyright Law) his work has been out of copyright since 1st January 2008.
To make this wonderful book more easily accessible I scanned it with OCR software and carried out some editing to remove obvious typographical errors introduced by this process and added the tags to convert the text file to XHTML. I carefully checked that the resulting manuscript that follows in this web page is a faithful copy of the original, but it is possible that some errors remain which I alone am responsible for. If anyone should find an error please use the contact details on this website Home to inform me immediately.
If this — the writer's poor attempt at stringing together many short talks with one who called himself "The Wayfarer" — should ever appear in print it will only be on the understanding that the story is sent out, not as a dream or vision, which leaves the reader guessing as to how much is truth and how much imagination; neither is there any intention of dragging in any particular doctrine or sectarian teaching; nor in any way intruding the writer's own views, but purely as a plain statement of fact, true in every detail — Truth to which nothing has been added and nothing withheld.
" At even ere the sun was set " — these words seemed to form themselves subconsciously in my mind as I lay down, stretched out at full length on the beautiful green sward on top of the highest cliff in a small sleepy, almost unknown Sussex village on the sea coast.
I had just passed the village Church, the people were singing their evening hymn. I had not consciously noticed what they were singing. It may have been the beautiful old hymn which opens with the above words which had found a temporary resting place in my otherwise occupied mind, or it may have been the thought borne in upon me as I lay gazing lazily across the beautiful blue sea — scarcely less vividly blue than the sky above. It was a gloriously beautiful spot, this place that I had chosen. I would often find my way here when at the end of a trying week of business life I could get away from everything and everybody, and be alone with my thoughts. It was here that I could rest undisturbed; here one seemed to be in a world alone — a world apart. As I turned away from watching the sea, there stretched out as far as the eye could see, hundreds of square miles of the most glorious country. Here one watched the play of light and shade over the sun-kissed hills and valleys known as the South Downs.
To one of an artistic temperament here was surely a riotous feast of colour. Just down below were small farms, dotted about. Here and there were cultivated crops showing ever—varying patches of colour, catching the last lingering caress of the setting sun, standing out like beautiful gems set in Nature's lovely background of soft velvety greens. Even the golden brown of the recently ploughed up land added its complement of beauty; at other parts the dazzling white of the chalk pits would give just that touch of contrast that went to make Nature's picture so perfect. Trees — glorious, noble oaks and elms stretched away for miles. Down there, in the valley one could hear the "cawcaw" of the rooks, the lowing of cattle and the bleating of sheep; all fitted perfectly into this dream picture, and indeed it seemed more dream-like than real, especially as it was just now, and so often had been a picture for me alone.
Nowhere could I discern a single human form, and I caught myself wondering if this was partly the reason why this wonderful piece of God's earth seemed so peaceful and full of beauty. Was it man? Could it be the human element that robbed the earth of its beauty? Was it man who brought into this Eden of loveliness, strife and trouble, covering in his greed for gain the beautiful land with his smoking factories; grasping with both hands all that gold could buy; taking that which belongs rightly to his neighbour; thrusting down the weaker and waxing fat on his ill-gotten gains? And so I dreamed on.
I turned away from the contemplation of the beauty of the land, giving up for the moment the disturbing thoughts to which my mind had been drifting —I turned round and faced again the sea. Ah! the sea, the glorious sea. That which had before claimed my attention was forgotten for a time in my admiration of the glorious, sparkling expanse of glittering diamonds, dancing across the golden path, stretching as far as the eye could reach right away to where the sun was soon to say his daily farewell to thankless and thoughtless man. But for those dancing, scintillating sparks of light along the sun's path the sea was as smooth and tranquil as a lake. All was quiet except for the music of the lap, lap of the tiny wavelets as they washed against the shore.
Just behind me was beauty, but surely here was something even more wonderful, something truly majestic, something awesome in the feeling of its vastness. Yet both were the handiwork of the same wonderful Creator and surely out there somewhere, in all this vastness, this expanse of glorious sea and sky, was God Himself. A holy silence seemed to breathe upon the waters, here surely one was alone with his Creator. Here, surely, if one were but gifted with a perfect sense of sight and hearing, he could see and talk with God Himself, as did the men of old, and then perhaps one could understand for oneself and tell to others with no uncertain voice the wonderful story of Life.
Ah! if only one could understand. if only in some way the truth — the naked truth stripped from the tangle of man's twisted imagination — could be told — told as to a little child. But what was truth? Who could say what was true and what was false amidst so much conflicting teaching and so many self-deluded and self-interested teachers? Why, oh, why was it that nobody seemed to proclaim truth for truth's sake instead of continually wrangling over teachings and dogmas? Even if we went to the Book itself, even here it would seem to the honest seeker for truth that truth had been well nigh lost in repeated muddling, perhaps by those who copied the original chronicles, perhaps by the priests and scribes who must needs translate to suit their own narrow-minded teachings, or by the successive revisers who must make each isolated incident correspond with previous prophecy. Even the preacher must water down every text to fit in with his own preconceived ideas, his own narrow minded outlook. Sect must ever war against sect and each cries: "Lo, here is Christ!" This is the way!— "the only way, and all others lead to destruction."
With these thoughts running through my mind my eyes wandered down to where I could see the straggling congregation leaving the tiny Church, wending their way homewards, looking in the distance like tiny insects. Yes, surely here was the disturbing element. The God-like solemnity of the beautiful scene before me seemed to have lost something of its holiness. Yes, undoubtedly, it was man — myself for instance. Why was it that all around was so beautiful and only man seemed to fall short — he whom the preacher speaks of as the "crowning glory of God's' creation." Then, if this be so, why was all nature still so beautiful and man alone so out of harmony with his surroundings? Surely then he must have deteriorated to have become such a soulless machine, working, grubbing among the filth; eating, drinking, just existing for a few weary years and then —? Ah! and what then?
I could get no further, my eyes left the Church with its moving specks of humanity, and again I turned to the sea. Right away to the right the great golden ball of fire was peeping above a bank of glorious, billowy clouds. Everywhere was bathed in a glow of crimson and gold, and soon the sun would drop down into rest, but at present it was throwing out and around the shifting cloud forms an ever changing kaleidoscope of gorgeous colours.
Oh, to be an artist! But no! No artist could ever hope to do justice to this gloriously beautiful piece of Nature; it must be at best but a feeble imitation; better far to paint it on the tablets of memory; better enshrine it in one's innermost consciousness to bring out and feast upon, in the drab days, when one must needs work at the daily grind.
I was still lingering, looking out to sea, thinking of nothing in particular, when suddenly I became aware that after all I was not alone.
" At even ere the sun was set," — again those words. But this time there was no mistaking the fact that it was something more than a brain echo.
I raised myself on one elbow, and half turned to see whence the sound had come. Who had spoken these words, for it was undoubtedly a voice I had heard.
Then I saw I think the most striking figure I had ever yet seen. It would be difficult off hand to say in what particular way I was most affected. At first I'm afraid there was a feeling of resentment that some stranger should have intruded upon my privacy. I said nothing and quickly looked away again across the sea, but there was a fascination about the stranger that drew me, and I felt I simply must look again upon this man, who had evidently walked so noiselessly over the short springy turf as to appear to my startled eyes as an apparition. I looked longer this time, but he seemed quite oblivious of my look, or even my presence. He stood in rapt attention, gazing away out towards the now fast sinking sun.
This then was the meaning of the words that had fallen so startlingly on my ears. And well might such a sight as we — this stranger and I — beheld evoke such a poetical thought, or have brought to memory some such scene of the past. Again my eyes wandered to where he was still looking and again they returned to the man. He was still standing as if completely immersed in his own thoughts, just a little to my left and slightly behind me. Slowly — without taking his eyes from the setting sun — he raised one hand and removed his hat, or I should rather say cap — just as the sun disappeared over the earth's rim. I thought I caught a few softly spoken words almost as if he were praying, or pronouncing a blessing, or maybe sending a message by the departing sun.
It was while in the act of removing his cap that his glorious hair came falling around his shoulders — such hair as I had never seen, or thought to see on a man — or for that part even a woman. It had evidently been caught up inside his head-covering. It may have been just the last glint of sunlight that had caught it and turned it into gold, but now that the sun had gone I saw that it was a wonderful, indescribable shade of bronze, of a texture of finest spun silk. Just now — just as the sun dipped — it had appeared to my amazed eyes a part of the sun itself, indeed the light had seemed to surround his whole body, radiating like a halo around an angel.
Now I sat perfectly still, not daring to open my lips. Who and what manner of man was this that had come so quietly, so unobtrusively into my presence, and yet seemed not to know nor care that there was another human being near? I did not like to look too hard at him, in fact it seemed now that I myself was the intruder and not he. I even wondered if it would be possible to creep away unnoticed and leave him to his contemplation of, or communion with, I knew not what or whom, for he appeared to be gazing out at something far beyond. One had the impression that he was at prayer, communing with some Holy Being over the edge of beyond, and one wondered what message the great round sun had taken with him as he sank to rest.
Presently he turned his head; he seemed for the first time to be aware of my presence. Then taking up the coils of his beautiful hair he replaced his cap. I noticed this was of some dark material and of the Tam-o-Shanter kind, very like that which used to be worn by the old Scotch shepherds. As to the rest of his apparel I can neither remember the colour nor the shape except that it was of a bygone age, and very picturesque, and I remember, though his clothes were spotlessly clean, they were old and shabby as if he were none too well off, also that I thought he looked footsore and weary. But one thing remains fixed in my memory and is ever likely to — I know it made a great impression at the time — it was the eyes that riveted my attention. They were a wonderful blue — blue as the sea and sky at which he had been gazing — but it was not so much the colour as the expression. A somewhat sad and sorrowful, yet sweet smile seemed ever to lurk within their depths. A light that depended not on the reflection of the setting sun seemed to come from his very soul, and I came to know later that those eyes were indeed the very windows of surely the most beautiful soul that ever dwelt in earthly temple.
This then was the man whom I had first looked upon as an intruder; even perhaps a tramp who had wandered from the beaten track and ventured to enter what I had selfishly come to look upon as my very own sanctuary. But now he looked down on me as I still reclined on the grass. He seemed about to speak, but before any word left his lips he gave me such a kind, yet searching look which seemed to penetrate my very soul. My eyes dropped — I know not why — yet it seemed I saw in that moment the uselessness of my life. I seemed suddenly to be judging myself, and I knew I was found wanting, ah, sadly wanting.
But presently he spoke and the voice seemed to thrill me through and through. But what is he saying? "My son, it is no use being a dreamer unless you make your dreams come true."
I raised my eyes to him and stammered something in reply. I know not now what were the words used but he seemed to understand. He drew near to me and sat down by my side. He seemed in no hurry to talk but sat gazing out to sea, and I was able to study more closely his features, and gradually it dawned upon me that I had seen him before, even the style of dress seemed familiar, and then I thought of the glorious head of hair that was now tucked away out of sight.
Ah! the hair, of course. Then the whole thing came back with a rush to my mind.
Once before — some years ago, I had seen this my companion. Yes, once before I had both seen and spoken with him. Now it came to my mind how that even then I had been struck with his rugged beauty. It had been a sultry, hot day in the year 1914, just previous to the outbreak of war. I was standing in my shop arranging some photographic studies which I had just completed when someone made a halt at the open door. Raising my eyes to see who it was that had come between the light and my work I saw — framed in the doorway — one whom I took to be a picturesque beggar. My first glance took in the fact that here was no ordinary type. I thought at first he was a much older man, standing as he was with his back to the light, but there was a rustic beauty about the whole figure and pose as he stood there apparently interested in what I was doing.
My artistic sense of colour and form was stirred and I remember thinking: "What a fine subject for a picture." I spoke to him, and he came in smiling towards me. Then it was I got a better look at him. I noticed his firm, clear-cut features, his sunburnt face and unusually abundant head of wonderful wavy hair. An old picturesque cap with its Tam-o-Shanter-like crown hanging over one side of his face, and slung round his neck was a musical instrument, something between an old-fashioned lute and a guitar. I thought to myself as he stood looking at something, his fine head almost in profile, with the light striking him aslant — "What a subject for a Master Painter, what a study for a Rembrandt, a Titian, a Rubens!"
Even I doubted if these giants among painters could have done him justice. Certainly here before me stood an embodiment of what was virtually the finest old-world picture of a man I had ever seen.
We entered into conversation, and I asked him would he allow me to take a picture of him.
He did not seem at all surprised at my question, and willingly gave his consent.
I felt it would be a kindness to invite him into my shady little back room. Here he very carefully removed his old weather-worn cap and then before my astonished eyes (as it just now had done) the glorious hair fell all around his shoulders framing in a face that might have been carved out of bronze, both as to its perfectly moulded features and its colouring, looking as if it had been constantly exposed to tropical sun.
Taking from his inner pocket a neat leather case he produced a pocket comb, with which he combed and re-combed his wonderful hair until it looked like so much finely spun gold, soft and silky. It seemed to fall naturally into waves, which rested caressingly on his fine broad shoulders. After which, having bathed his hands, he sat down at the table seemingly quite at home.
I had ordered tea to be brought up, and we sat down together. I noticed how pleased, even thankful he seemed to be at the little trouble and attention given him. I cannot at this time remember of what we talked, but I do remember that he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the few simple things set before him. He drank a cup of tea and praised the small home-made cakes, of which he must have eaten five or six, remarking that it was long since he had tasted anything so nice.
Having finished tea, we talked a little while, then, as the light was going, I ventured once again to ask, "might I take his picture?"
His answer was: "Why, yes, my son."
We went into the studio. I arranged his wonderful hair so that the light would best bring out its beauty, despairing all the while that the limitations of the photographic process could never do justice to the golden brown tone of the hair nor to the deep sun-bronzed colour of the face; even the wonderful blue eyes would never tell as they should.
Feverishly I got to work arranging the lighting, drawing the curtain until I should get the effect I wished. I knew if only I could reproduce — even photographically — anything like the picture I saw before me, I should have accomplished something that would eclipse anything I had ever done before.
All was ready. I must hasten, for the daylight was fading and light was everything. I made four exposures, and so anxious was I to develop those plates that I am afraid I did not press my sitter to stay for further talk. I ventured to ask his name as he was about to depart, promising to forward a copy of the resultant picture if successful.
He looked into my eyes as he clasped my hand in parting. There was a look in his own eyes which I could not interpret. I have seen him many times, since writing this, but it was the one and only time I had seen in his eyes almost a merry twinkle lurking in their depths as he answered: "My Son, the name matters not, I am just "A Wayfarer." He was gone.
I will not try to tell in detail of the task I had in developing those four plates. I took every precaution possible, trying every possible dodge known to the photographer, to bring out the image that should have been impressed upon the sensitive surface. But perspiring in that small, stuffy, dark room I waited and waited for that which would not come. There seemed to be a fog over the whole surface; one only of the four showed signs of a possible picture. This I carefully washed, fixed and intensified until I was able to get a very thin but otherwise fair result. This was again subjected to various processes until at last I was able to get a result that would bear enlargement. This, I am glad to say, is still in my possession and one of the greatest treasures I possess. No — it does not do him justice, but it is a picture from life of him who called himself "The Wayfarer" and who now sat beside me.
Although this takes long in the telling, the whole thing had passed through my mind very quickly on discovering that I had seen this, my companion, on a previous occasion.
Who was he? Why had he come suddenly, once before into my life and then once again at this time and place just as suddenly — just as quietly come upon me? "Well, son," were his next words, "Why do you not speak your thoughts aloud? So you remember the Wayfarer."
It was enough, the ice was broken, my stupid, dreaming reserve had gone. I jumped up and caught both of my companion's hands, eyes looked into eyes, we were not then such complete strangers after all.
Then we sat and talked of that previous meeting. He surprised me by remarking that he thought the picture very good, and that he was pleased with it, "and others also" were pleased with it. This seemed most strange to me, when so far as I knew he had never seen it. But as yet I was a little shy of asking too many questions of this wonderful man, who seemed to know everything. But I did venture to ask if others had not wished to paint or photograph him. His answer was:
"Yes, many times, many have tried, but they have not in any single instance succeeded. All who have made the attempt have failed in one way or another, either as to securing a likeness or, having made more or less successful attempts one day, their efforts would have disappeared, or become effaced by the following day. In one way or another the result would always prove a failure."
"Then why" — was my natural enquiry — "was I permitted to succeed where others had failed?"
"Because, my son," said he, "I was a stranger and you took me in and treated me right royally. You knew me not, and yet you cared for me and treated me kindly." .
"Then," I said, "I have something that nobody else in the wide world has got?"
"Yes, son," he answered, "there are many representations of me, some purely imaginative, some inspirational, some bearing a likeness, others very unlike, but none actually taken from life, for at that time — when I went about daily among men — it was not reckoned among man's accomplishments that one should make a likeness of another."
Now all this seemed passing strange at the time — although now I understand better. Then I did not realise the exceeding great honour that had been paid me. Now nothing — no price on earth could buy my picture — my poor efforts to secure an impression of him who at that time came to me in my ignorance as a stranger.
Yet how was I, a poor struggling artist, to have known that in that tired, travel-stained wanderer I was entertaining an angel unawares?
And so on this occasion — this second meeting — we sat and talked, or rather, he talked while I for the most part remained dumb. He spoke of wonderful things, beautiful things that lifted me for the time being right away, far above myself and my surroundings.
Presently, I found myself telling him something of the things of which I had been thinking or dreaming as I lay there before I had been aware of his presence. He listened patiently. This man who seemed to know everything, from whom nothing seemed hidden, neither past, present nor future, who had already shown that my unspoken thoughts were as plain to him to read as 'twere from an open book. Yet he listened patiently, and even seemed to be deeply interested in my rambling words — for my thoughts had ever been bigger than my ability to express them. It would seem that he must have been close beside me all the time that I had thought myself alone, for he refreshed my memory on many points, referring to difficulties with which I had been struggling, but had not mentioned in our conversation.
More wonderful still, he showed that he was familiar with much of what I had done, and dreamed of doing in the past — things that certainly had not found a place in my thoughts on that particular evening.
We talked on until daylight gave way to twilight and twilight to darkness. Stars began to make their appearance in the sky; the moon was playing hide-and-seek between some rather stormy clouds. Presently he made as if to go. We walked away side by side along the cliffs, gradually descending to the lower level and thence on to the sea shore. Here he became very quiet, seemingly preoccupied.
I invited him to my home, wondering, but not liking to ask him, where he would sleep the night. But thanking me, he held out both hands to me as he wished me good-night, saying he wished to commune alone for a while, but promising he would see me again within a little while.
I left him and walked towards the path that skirted the top of the beach. When I looked back I could still see him standing with upturned face and clasped hands, as if he were communing with the Great Spirit above.
I continued along the path for perhaps a hundred yards and then once more, ere I turned a point which would prevent me seeing that part of the beach at which I had parted from him, I looked back again. The moon was shining brightly, from end to end of the strand of beach I could see plainly. It was but a few minutes since I had shaken his hand, yet he was no longer there, not a soul, not an object on the bare stretch of shore met my eyes. Not even a cat or a dog could have escaped my sight, yet he was gone.
I was bewildered, I could not believe my own eyes. I turned and retraced my steps along the path with some idea at the back of my mind that I must go down to the water's edge and find him, although my own common sense told me it was useless, for had he been anywhere within a mile I could have seen him for it was now light as day, and at this part of the beach there was not so much as a boulder, or piece of wreckage that could obscure my view. Then it came into my mind that perhaps he might resent my apparent curiosity at even trying to seek him out, so once more — and this time without any backward glance — I continued my way home.
I will not try to tell how I passed that following week. Not one hour passed, I am quite sure, but that either the man or his message came into my mind.
Truly, while I had talked with him my heart had burned within me, and all that week things of which he had spoken seemed to lift me out of myself. If ever before I had dreamed I dreamed to some purpose that week. All life seemed changed, all around me things wore a new aspect. At one time I wanted to cry my news from the house top, to tell others of this great thing that had come into my life. Yet I knew only too well that no one, not even those that were — or should be — nearest and dearest to me, would understand. No, he was right, "though one returned from the dead none would believe."
But the week passed, even that long week came to an end. Again it was the Sabbath, once more the bells were sending out their message to the people to come to prayer. The sun was working his way round on his homeward journey. I had been thinking during the week that this time, if I were so fortunate as to see him, I would venture to put a question to "The Master" — for I had somehow come to call him in my own mind by this name, though why and when I began to think of him as such I cannot say. But just as he had referred to me over and over again as "son" so it seemed to come perfectly natural to me to think of him as "Master."
This time I would ask him of something that had gradually been forming in my mind. And with this I quickened my steps as I neared the spot which to me had become Holy Ground.
Would he be there? Would he be early or late? Then a tiny doubt crept in. I thought of the mysterious way he had disappeared on the last occasion. Where had he gone? What manner of man was this that seemed to have vanished into thin air? Was he man? Was he angel or God? Had I indeed seen him, or had I dreamed?
But no, dreamer I might be, but I was far too matter of fact, too given to questioning the why and wherefore of everything, to be deceived by a dream or vision, or to be carried away by fanciful imagination.
Yes, surely this man, God-like, beautiful — and in every sense a human man — was flesh and blood as we are. He was tall, hearty and vigorous. This is but a poor picture of him whom I was going to meet — if not to-day, then another day.
Thus I persuaded myself; thus I hoped against hope that it would be to-day, and not at some future time, I should meet him who had come to mean so much to me. With this thought in my mind I was nearing the bend that would bring me in full view of my favourite nook and my heart began to flutter in quite an uncontrollable manner as I looked across the green. Yes, he was there, early as I was, he was there waiting, standing as before, apparently wrapt in thought, gazing out to sea (he told me afterwards he had really been watching the birds, the sea-gulls, skimming hither and thither with their beautiful glistening, outspread wings, calling to each other in their own particular mournful way).
I stole up quietly behind him, not wishing to break in upon his meditations. But, though it would seem well nigh impossible he could have seen or heard my approach, yet he had evidently sensed my presence, for, without changing his position or even turning his head in my direction, he greeted me with the words, "Peace, my son." Then slowly turning he brought to bear upon me his beautiful gaze and something within me, or perhaps it was something in the wonderful majesty of him who seemed to tower above me in every sense of the word, something, I say, made me drop on my knees before him, bending my head towards the ground, for there seemed to be something so spiritual in his bearing and such a bright light in his face, that it seemed fitting that I should take this, my rightful attitude.
He came to me and placed his hands upon my head, and again he said: "Peace, my son."
An indescribable thrill ran through me, and not for the first time some hitherto past and forgotten memory seemed to stir within me, struggling to awaken into life. Again I had the feeling that I was in the presence of some Great and Holy Being. But for the fact that I could feel the gentle pressure of his hands resting so lightly upon my bending head, I could have imagined that I had slept and dreamed this thing, or that like the men of old I had seen a vision.
Presently he withdrew his hands and bidding me rise, he walked with me a little nearer to the cliff's edge, where we could get the full benefit of the sea, and sat himself down, drawing me down beside him. For some time nothing was said on either side, for in some strange way we seemed to have reached that state of beautiful friendship in which we could be perfectly happy whether we talked or remained silent. Enough for me that we were together.
When again he turned from his contemplation of the sea and spoke, I was surprised at his question:
"Tell me, son," were his first words, "what it is you would ask of me. What is it you would tell to the world that has not already been told many times? Why do you think they would read what you had written, or listen to aught you may have to tell, when your book tells you they would not believe though one returned from the dead. Nay, when they in very truth do return from the dead, when the highest beings your world has ever known have returned, again and again telling them of, and proving by unmistakeable evidence, the continuous life of the soul beyond the grave? What does it profit them? Do they change their mode of living? Does the living testimony of those — even those who have been nearest and dearest to them in the earth life, have any effect on them? Do they heed the message they bring? Do they trust their own senses, use the intellect God has given them? Do they for one moment consider this — the last Call — the closest touch between mortals and those who they had known in the past to be mortal, even as they themselves are mortal? Does even this arrest them in their mad rush down the path of life, or rather, living death?
"Nay, I tell you the days are come when that shall come to pass of which John the Divine saw and gave testimony:
"' He that is unjust let him be unjust still, and he which is filthy let him be filthy still, and he that is righteous let him be righteous still, and he that is Holy let him be Holy still. Behold I come quickly.'
"But still they remain deaf and blind. If they but contemplate a journey to a foreign land they make all preparations for the journey; they go to much trouble to find out about the land to which they go — clothing, food, manner of living, language — even the difference of climate has to be considered. All their affairs at home must be settled and yet these — fools in their blindness — see not the need for preparing for that country to which all alike must surely go. They leave it to the last moment — the eleventh hour — ere they give a thought even to the robe that would be needed to cover their naked soul They have learned nothing from the story of the one who had forgotten the Wedding Garment.
"Nay, these blind, these wilfully disobedient blind ones learn nothing when they see day after day their fellows dropping out, falling by the way, lowered into the gaping grave, encased in the last earthly shell, decked out in all its finery and covered beneath a weight of fair blossoms (the only pure living things worthy of their existence, and doomed to a shortened life). All adding to the mockery of this — the passing of a wasted life — to the altogether unknown beyond. Even those who have shed many tears and shown most grief at the yawning grave do but return to fight and quarrel over the riches, the lands and the goods and chattels of the one who has gone from their midst.
"Nay, I tell you, even this last grim reminder opens not their eyes nor their understanding. Then what would you tell them, son? What would you write that these stiff — necked, blind, rebellious ones should read? What miracle would you show them that would cause them to lift their eyes upwards? How would you teach those who have no use for a teacher, who would scorn and put to death again and again the Teacher of Teachers?"
He stopped — I don't think he even expected me to answer such unanswerable questions, for he sat as if still following out his train of thought.
I could only sit and stare at him in astonishment. He knew then, the thought that had been in my mind all through that week. The thought that I would ask him to tell me in simple language the story of man's past — the Creation, the riddle of life — and death. That he would tell me slowly and simply as to a child that which I might pass on to others. I knew full well my own ignorance, I was unlettered and untaught, I had not been blessed with what we call "education." I had had scarcely a year's consecutive schooling, and that little was but the teaching of a village school. Yet, I had hoped that I might be able in some way to pass on to others something of what I was experiencing myself, just that breaking through of the light of a new understanding, like a gleam of sunlight penetrating through a crevice of a shuttered and darkened room, lighting up objects within, turning in its path even the myriads of dancing particles of dust into scintillating diamonds.
But now, as he turned and looked at me with amazing love and pity in his beautiful eyes — I felt how petty, how small had been my mind, how foolish and blind I had been to imagine for a moment that I — the dreamer — could, all ignorant as I was, succeed where others so much my superiors in knowledge had failed.
I hung my head in my humiliation as some schoolboy might have done had his teacher caught him in some act of foolishness, but I need not have done. He reached out his hand to me and drew me yet closer to him and encouraged me to put my thoughts into words — the thoughts that had been in my mind as I had walked along that evening. And I tried to tell him of the hope that had been with me since last we had met.
An indulgent smile came into his eyes, putting his arm around my neck he asked: "And why, son, do you think I can tell you of these things?"
"Because," was my reply, "you have told me so much already and my heart tells me you are from the beginning and that you know all. Also, I know that somewhere, at some time you have told me of these things before, of things sacred and beautiful, which are now forgotten, or if not entirety forgotten, have become so confused that the simple truth has been well nigh lost."
Then it was that, looking into that loving face, I seemed once more to be living over again a wonderful scene of the past. I was one — the youngest of a few chosen ones — of those gathered around him, the Great Teacher, listening to question and answer as one and another of the little company enquired of him:
"What did this mean? " and "What was the explanation of that?" wearying him with all manner of questions, and he patiently and lovingly answering.
He had had a wearisome day, pressed about by the throngs of people, always thinking of others and never sparing himself. Now, after a tiring, dusty journey, we had come to a halting place — a little, flat-roofed, stone-built house, a place where we were always sure of a rest, a meal and loving attention from the family, consisting of two sisters and their brother.
I can see but one of the sisters; she is sitting as she loved to sit, at his feet, with hands resting on his lap and her beautiful dark, dreamy eyes 'fixed intently on his face,' drinking in every word that fell from his lips. Then, just as suddenly the picture fades, my companion at my side is speaking.
"Son, I will tell you what you wish to know. Even in this, the last day, there is a remnant of the Golden City family who need to be gathered in. Those who still see as through a glass darkly and yet through much fog and mist have struggled to keep their light burning. You shall write, and it may be that still some of the sleepers shall awaken ere the light of this their short day has departed. Yes, I will tell you the story of 'The Garden Beautiful.'"
For a moment he sat lost in thought, then turning to me he bade me take my "tablet" and write.
I tremblingly drew out my pocket book and pencil, wondering if I would be able to keep pace with the words as I should, hear them, when, as if he knew the difficulty, he began very slowly, very quietly:—
"Life and all that life means is man's birthright.
The Great Master Artist made man in His own image. He breathed the breath of life into his nostrils and he became a living creature. Man was perfect, perfect in body and soul. The body was a living temple, containing the holy spirit of the Great Over-Soul Himself — He whom men call God.
"Man was God on earth, wonderful to behold, upright and beautiful; breathing God's divine breath; drinking in and assimilating all the life-sustaining, ethereal forces around him; living a joyous, care-free existence. The beautiful earth-form had breathed and become man. Man had taken upon himself the nature of his Creator and had become divine — man had become God — God's earth-part.
"Not one poor solitary creature placed in a fabled garden hemmed in and around with childish restriction. Nay, not one, but a great and glorious company of happy, God-like mortals living to the full a glorious,free and untrammelled existence. A beautiful race of men-angels or earth-Gods, worthy of their Maker and worthy of the beautiful world Garden in which they were placed to play their part.
"It was a beautiful thought, conceived and begotten in love by the great Master Architect—He would lend to these people one of his beautiful worlds. It was at this time situated very near to his own habitation, and it was known as 'The Garden Beautiful.' It was not the only world-garden, created and peopled by the great Over-Lord, it was one of millions upon millions of beautiful planets all working harmoniously around one great living centre, and all having their own peculiar part in the great divine scheme.
But this garden was the jewel among jewels, and in His great love he placed these beautiful beings in this the most wonderful of all wonderful worlds. And thus a new era — it was the dawn of a new day.
"No man can name the time when this great thing — the peopling of the Garden Beautiful — took place, aeons and aeons of years before man began to make records of time and to chronicle imaginary events, to write and re-write of what, in their ignorance, they call,' in the beginning.' For with him — the Divine Creator — there is no beginning. He who is Alpha and Omega knows no time. Who shall say that even these dwellers in the Garden Beautiful had not in one way or another in one sphere or another — had an earlier part in the working of the Mighty plan? Yea, indeed, it was so, for life, that divine essence men call the soul, depends not on the form of tabernacle that enshrines it. Like its author and creator it knows no beginning and no ending (See Appendix A). But now, in this new creation it takes on the beautiful earth-form, divinely human and humanly divine.
"And so I say it was indeed a beautiful thought of the Great Divine One that, without restriction, without one word of ' thou shalt' or ' thou shalt not,' he gave them — these newly created beings — his most beautiful world garden, this earthly Paradise to dwell in. Love — great divine Love — created them and Love, the great mainspring of all creation was to be their guide. No rules, no commandments, no rulers — what need? when within each of these God-like beings was implanted that unfailing guide 'the Light of Life,' that radiant spark from the living Altar of His Own celestial being; that divine attribute; that celestial sun which was to illumine all the cells of this most wonderful tabernacle. The great 'Master thought' was breathed into the nostrils of man and he had become a living creature. The 'Light of Life' was enshrined in his innermost parts and he became a living Soul.
"So this Garden Beautiful and its people, like the whole of creation — the whole Universe — was upheld and controlled by Love. Neither pen nor tongue can adequately describe these God-created humans, nor can decadent man to-day realise, even dimly, or visualise for one moment the wonderful glory of their surroundings.
"It has been written, 'God made man a little lower than the angels.' This is true only in the sense that the Garden Beautiful was a little below the celestial spheres in which dwelt those glorious celestial beings who were co-equal and co-workers with the great Over-Soul himself. These were no better, no higher, no more beautiful than man. They differed only in that they were celestial and man was terrestrial; they dwelt in the spheres above and around the Garden Beautiful, the others were earth dwellers. So that even the angels could not outshine man in his first pristine loveliness. His exquisitely pure and beautiful form radiated brightness, indeed he was enveloped in a dazzling light such as could not be looked upon by the earth man of your day, no more than can the eye of man to-day look upon the sun in the heavens.
"As for Woman, his consort, the great crowning glory and happiness that was bestowed upon man — no one in these days can conceive of her beauty. That which men call marriage was unknown, yet each had his own counterpart, each his soul-mate. Both were drawn together by the divine law of attraction. This was the 'Union of Souls' — Love in its highest and purest form. A love such as none but high and noble mortals can conceive; a love which sees and hears with its innermost understanding. A state in which soul communed with soul; a beautiful sex-love of which none need be ashamed, having nothing in common with the sympathies and ties of the latter-day coarse affections. It might well be said of them they were naked and unashamed, not the nakedness of nudity — for their robes were, like their wearers, white, spotless and beautiful to behold. Nay, it was the nakedness of Truth in its complete perfection. There each part found its counterpart. The beautiful had become more beautiful, love had reached out to love. Love had found its mate — two perfect parts had become one perfect whole. They had fulfilled the command 'be ye perfect even as I am perfect.'
"These were the days when God walked with man, and man was not ashamed to meet his Creator face to face. Angels and Archangels could, and did, pass unhindered from the higher spheres to the lower. Yea, the very angels dwelt among men. Each of the beautiful God-like attributes had its angel representative, and all was one beautiful harmonious whole. There was singing in the heart of man because there was music in his soul.
"Have you listened to the song of the waves on the shore
As they roll from the deep blue sea?
Is your heart attuned to the message sweet,
Do you hear in the winds the drum's deep beat?
In the breeze 'mong the trees do you hear the song
That the angels waft in the sky?
Do the flowers — complete in their beauty sweet,
Draw your soul to realms on high?
Does the song of the bird so sweet and clear
Open your ears its message to hear?
Or the lightning's flash and the thunder's roll
Lift to its height the flight of your soul?
Do the mountains, the hills, the rivers and plain
Teach to you life is not in vain?
Does the call of the cattle or coo of the dove
Teach to your soul that God is Love?
(For this was known and known full well
In the days of 'the Garden Beautiful!' ")
"Thus sang 'the Angel of Music,' and thus in perfect rhythm man and all Nature took up the song, for all life was a vibration, and the heart of man vibrated in unison with Nature. All were like unto finely tuned instruments with sensitive strings upon which were produced the most delicately sweet strains of Heaven-born music. Man's spiritual perceptions and intuition enabled him to discern and appreciate to the full the music of form, colour and beauty in all his surroundings, whether it were the beauty of perfect rest and quietude; the stillness and serenity of the inanimate things around him; the sighing and singing of the tree tops as they swayed to and fro in the breeze; the pearly liquid notes that dropped from the sweet singing birds above him; the call of the cattle, the voice of the brook; even the dropping of the leaves had their own particular music understood and easily interpreted by man's keenly sensitive ear. Each and all things — all nature in fact — had its own language, easily read and perfectly comprehended by man. Each to each told their own story. Each made music for the other, for man's perfectly vibrating senses were atune with all nature, atune with each other, and atune with his Creator.
"In such a world then, where all was beautiful, what must be said of God's crowning glory man, the human form of God himself?
"In this present day there are but few among the teeming millions of your earth people who, by God's long-suffering mercy are sufficiently sensitive to catch some few of the higher vibrations, and are thereby enabled to catch some fleeting glimpse of the wonderful forms of the Spirit world — those beings who dwell in the wonderful rarified ether above and around them. These, 'the salt of the earth,' these few misunderstood and persecuted mortals are the only ones who can form some slight idea of what man was like in the perfectly attuned surroundings of which I am speaking, of man in his first angelic earth-form, and the gloriously beautiful form of woman, and the pure, little angel-like forms of its children.
"But I have spoken of the angel of music. I would speak of other angels who dwelt among men. Here in the Garden Beautiful dwelt the Angel of Light. 'Tis said among those whom you term the Ancients, that the sun is the reflection of God's countenance, and 'tis true. But think if you can of a face that shines with such brightness that even the sun is but a reflection thereof. Yet, at this time man, who was God-man, was so bright and beautiful himself, that he could look fearlessly into the face of his Maker, or into the sun itself. Indeed man was light even as God is Light; he 'needed not the light of the sun by day nor moon by night, for each was a light unto himself and all were as a light to each other. Each carried his own sun within him, and each knew full well that even the brightness of the globe you call the sun was no brighter than the reflection of his own beautiful world.
"When, my son, but a little while since you were complaining of your need of light and understanding, regretting that truth was hidden, and everything had become perplexing, you had forgotten this thing, as all have forgotten, that man was created with his own indwelling sun, that glorious divine tight, the 'Life Light,' the illumination of his own soul's divinity — his own soul consciousness — each a sun or a light unto himself, and each shone out accordingly. And this was the light of the Garden Beautiful.
"Imagine, if you can, such a garden wherein lived and reigned 'The Angel of Life,' where life was life indeed, where each individual glowed with the very light of life, each a radiant, glowing being like unto God himself who is the essence of all life; each knowing himself to be part and parcel of that great and glorious thing called Life, which is the divine impetus of Love, the great motive power behind the whole Universe.
"There also in the Garden Beautiful dwelt Love. Surely one of the most lovely of all heavenly hosts was 'The Angel of Love.' Yes, the ruling power, the most divine power in creation's scheme was Love, and Love ruled and held divine sway over this people; Love, like light and the other wonderful attributes was a living thing in every man, his every impulse being actuated and guided by its divine influence, the living, throbbing mainspring that moved and controlled his every action, an essence born of the Great Infinite, ever giving out and ever receiving. They loved their God; they loved each other, and they loved themselves because they were part of Him who was Love. They lived in Love, they slept in Love and woke again to Love. It was theirs for ever, their praise, their song of thanksgiving was one great paeon of Love. Love pure and undefiled.
"Peace reigned there also in that sunlit Garden, 'The Angel of Peace' — the twin sister of Love. These two were ever together, Love and Peace walked hand in hand and ever in their wake followed the Angels of Truth, Justice, Mercy and Understanding. They dwelt together and worked together in perfect harmony, and Love made all things beautiful. Peace was like a beautiful placid river, its silvery waters flowing through the Garden was as balm to all.
"Because of this beautiful influence and the perfect harmony of Peace and Love 'The Angel of Justice' was seen everywhere, known and beloved by all. Justice was welcome throughout the land. None sought him in vain. No one was favoured more than another, each gave and each received full measure pressed down and satisfaction was theirs.
"It would seem at this time there was little need for 'Mercy' to exercise her beautiful gift. She and Justice were always together. The people loved her, and saw in her the wonderful mercy of the great Over-Soul in His loving kindness towards His children.
"It would be difficult for the people of to-day to realise what man was like when he was God-like and perfect, yet truly in that day 'The Angel of Perfection' held court and ruled in the Garden Beautiful, and each and everyone, each and every thing was indeed perfect. Every form and feature, every faculty was perfect. Sickness, sorrow and want were unknown. Radiant forces of Life and Light flowed freely through each; no defect was ever seen or experienced. Each and every organ functioned perfectly; brain and soul working perfectly in harmony; limbs, faculties, intellect, sight, hearing and every sense known to you, and many quite unknown, were functioning as God meant they should, each and all were perfect even as He Himself was and is perfect.
"I would tell also of 'the Angel of Truth,' who dwelt within the gates of the Garden Beautiful. Truth was there with the others from the beginning and each life was a living truth; therein they were free, for Truth was freedom's gate. Truth was known as God's Word — that which was from the beginning and stands for ever; that which nought can destroy; that which is, and nothing can alter. Yea, Truth was no stranger in that day, they all knew and loved him, and he was their infallible guide, and because of the companionship, the love and unity of all the attributes represented and symbolised in these Angel dwellers among men there was perfect understanding. Everywhere the other angel-beings went 'the Angel of Understanding' would be seen, and known by these dwellers of this happy Paradise, who understood the joy of life, not only their own but all life around them, the beautiful things in the animal kingdom, the birds, the flowers. All contributed to the joy and happiness born of understanding. For in this day God spoke to man through all things that He had created, and man understood and conversed with them in their own language, for man's perceptions were so keenly sensitive that the sound vibrations from all Nature were as an open book of understanding. Everything in man and man's surroundings were attuned and all joined in one great Song of Praise and Thanksgiving to their Creator. Man could never be lonely among so many beautiful things, among such perfect understanding, and because Understanding lived in their midst, life was a beautiful thing, pure and holy, and it was because of this, that Realisation made her home in the Garden beautiful, among all this wonderful understanding — culminating in the union of man and his counterpart woman, each in perfect harmony with the other and with their Maker, thus forming a Trinity of Perfection. How could it be otherwise when 'Realisation' — that high Angel being (who was ever the constant attendant of 'Understanding') came into her own?
"For understanding had brought realisation among the children of God, a state of ecstasy — where all that is hoped for, longed for, or needed is brought to perfection. These happy beings — men and angels — lived, walked and talked together. They had reached the highest form of happy contentment; they had found realisation; they knew and understood their relationship to God the Holy Father, who is the realisation of all things.
"There were many other angels in the Garden Beautiful — each perfect individually yet incomplete without the others; all bearing a remarkable likeness to each other, each depending upon each; each doing his or her part and everyone fitting perfectly into this great scheme of happiness. And there were many beautiful institutions, many wonderful gatherings and much of which I stay not at this time to tell you. I do but give you a glimpse of the state of love, joy and happiness that reigned among God's first earth-people.
"It would seem perhaps to the coarsened nature of man to-day that so much happiness might become dull, monotonous; that man must have tired of such an existence. But it was not so. Where all was perfection, perfect man was in his own element. It is only the latter-day man — the imperfect man — who imagines, in his imperfection, that he is enjoying life by indulging in the false counterfeit of pleasure, which endures but for a season, and is nought but a ghostly mirage of the real happiness that might have been his were he but living on the pure ethers instead of feeding on the husks which he, in his delusion, imagines to be so necessary to his existence. Besides, true happiness does not mean continuous idleness, or an everlasting indulgence in anyone particular form of pleasure. Nay, such would not have been true happiness to these people; none loved idleness; all had their allotted task; all worked because they loved to work; each delighted in making progress in the way for which Nature had best fitted him. Each success was crowned with delight, all hailed the success of the finished work of another; men and angels rejoiced together and there was no bar between the mortal and the immortal, between the earth and the higher realms. There was no drop-scene between these people and what you call the invisible. There was an ever open path known as 'the Golden Way,' by which men and angels alike could freely pass and repass between the Garden Beautiful and the Angel world, never too wide, never too narrow for those who would seek fellowship and sweet communion one with the other. Swift as thought and quick as light can travel, just so quickly and unhindered could man or angel-friend, in their perfect freedom, see, hear and communicate with each other, or indeed be actually in each other's presence.
"Yes, ever the beautiful 'play' went on, and never, by night or day, did the curtain drop to obscure their vision. Such was man's lot, such was man's happiness in the Garden Beautiful."
At this point my companion ceased speaking and sat for some minutes as if in deep thought. It seemed almost he had forgotten my presence.
I laid down my pocket-book and waited, watching his face and wondering, but not daring to ask, what would be the finish of this wonderful story.
Presently he turned to me with, oh! so sad an expression on his beautiful face, in the growing dimness of the fading daylight, I fancied there were tears welling up in his dear eyes as he said:
"My son, I cannot tell you to-night of the other part — the sad part of the World's story. We will talk of this another time."
He did not ask me "What did I think of it, or if I understood the things he had been telling me?" Neither did he make any comment on it himself; he offered no suggestion as to the way I might make use of what I had written; nor did he give an undertaking that he would continue or ever finish the story, except the hint above mentioned — that the story must, for that day at any rate, remain unfinished and the implied impression that the rest of man's history was too sad a thing to speak of after so beautiful a beginning.
For two successive Sunday evenings I had hastened to my favourite resting place on the cliff heights. During that fortnight I had read and pondered over what I had written and wondered what was yet to be written.
This, the second Sunday, was a repetition of the last. I sat hoping against hope that He would come. Not once but many times doubts would assail me as to whether I should ever write the end of that story. Would he return? Yet in my heart I knew he would. Yes, I should see him again; in his own time he would come and tell of the people who had lived again in my imagination as he had sat and talked to me. I felt he would not leave me long in suspense as to the other part of the story.
Now, once again I read over what I had written. Each time I saw new truths, new, yet not new, for the more I went over it, the more it came home to me that I might have known for myself much of the truth herein contained. I took out my small pocket Bible (for lately I had studied this more than ever before in connection with the new truths that had been suggested to my mind). I turned to many passages and read with new meaning many of the truths here revealed and came to the conclusion that much of the same story could be traced. It was the story of the Garden Beautiful, only told in a different way. Now I found that what were once meaningless words were really alive with truth; it needed but the light within to illumine the hitherto dark passages, many of which had always been skipped as unsolvable riddles. Now even the apparently inaccurate and inconsistent teaching of the Old Testament became plain and enlightening. Yes, even in the beautiful allegory of the Creation as told in the first book. I could trace the writer's attempt to portray the perfect work of the Creator, disjointed and incomplete as was the narrative (at least as it seemed, and had always seemed to me). Now I saw it was not the book that was all wrong, the fault had been mine — my want of understanding. I had not realised before that the writers, even in that day had "Sight and Discernment" and the more fully developed senses. 'Tis true they used the imagery of their peculiar times and they evidently took for granted that those for whom they wrote would have the sense to fill in the gaps for themselves and understand the spirit of the picture presented, rather than be everlastingly trying to fit together the actual letter of the word with its many obviously missing parts, and its present-day intentional and unintentional mistakes.
Very little perhaps either in the Old or New Testament was of the writer's own first-hand knowledge; much was taken from earlier chronicles. A great deal was undoubtedly inspired, and some was purely imagination, and oftentimes made to fit in with the writer's own preconceived ideas, and coloured by the doctrines, teachings, laws and customs of the day. Much matter was included that might well have been left out, and much valuable and sacred history perhaps lost or purposely withheld, by enemies of the truth of all ages. Yes, all this may be granted, yet in spite of all or perhaps because of all, the truth is still there between the two covers of what we call the Holy Book. The way is so plain that the wayfaring man though a fool, need not err therein, and the writers were certainly familiar with much that man has completely forgotten or lost to-day. What to us are miracles or supernatural happenings and looked upon by many as questionable happenings, were to them but the working of God's natural laws. It was no great cause for wonder and astonishment that God spoke to man, that angels appeared unto man; that man had visions; that prophets prophesied; that the blind and lame were healed of their infirmities; the lepers were made whole; or the dead returned, and were seen and spoken to by man. Those that had died and were buried were called from the grave; that Devils were cast out of men; that God spoke from the burning bush. No, they, with all their faults and their short-comings were simple minded, were child-like in their faith. Even in their day, although they had gone a long way down the downward path of degeneracy, doubted not the power and majesty of their God. They saw nothing to doubt in his wonderful revelations.
Truly, I began to see for myself that with all its blunders and inaccuracies as we find it to-day, the Bible as a whole was and is indeed an inspired book telling of, and proving beyond doubt, the existence of an inspired universe, holding between its two covers truths none the less great because hidden from those of us who have become encrusted with the rust from the non-use of our original perfect faculties, and the fact of our having degenerated into a race of blind sheep following after generations of equally blind shepherds, whose blindness has become chronic and therefore incurable. Yes, more and more I began to see the inner truths gradually unfolding themselves, truths that had been hidden away like pearls between the shells of the oyster, which one had but to use the commonsense means of opening to discover for himself the wonders within, to feast his eyes and senses on the jewels herein displayed.
And so it seemed to me as I sat musing, that perhaps after all my enforced idleness due to the non-appearance of him whom I was longing to see, had not been altogether in vain. If only the truth had in some small measure become plainer by the light of the Wayfarer's story, then perhaps there might still be some chance of opening other eyes than my own.
I got up to retrace my steps. I would go home happy in my new found thoughts. Once more I looked around; it was too late to expect Him now, but perhaps next time ? — yes, next time, surely I should see Him.
After telling of my next meeting with "the Wayfarer" I shall not further intrude myself on the reader's notice as to the place, time and manner of meeting, nor interrupt the sequency of the story, but would say in passing that it was not always that we spoke of the story of the Garden Beautiful. Sometimes many weeks would elapse ere I was able to continue the succeeding chapters, but as well as I was able, and in the order in which it was given, I have written down word for word the rest of the story as it fell from his lips, and so I send it forth broken and incomplete as it must necessarily be, without any attempt to re-write or alter in any way the Wayfarer's story of the Garden Beautiful.
Another week had come and gone. I had started out on my journey of great expectancy. I was an hour earlier than usual and stayed to watch the incoming tide; then something prompted me to go down to the shore. Here for some time I walked to and fro, then I stood still and looked out to sea.
I stood there — perhaps for the best part of an hour — the waves were lapping at my feet and I had to keep stepping backwards to keep free of the water. I did not notice particularly what was happening before my eyes, for my thoughts were far away at the time, or I should perhaps have seen a small boat rounding the cliffs and coming towards me, but I suddenly became aware of this, and that someone had landed on the beach and the small boat was being pushed back into the water. Then my awakened interest centred on the figure of the man who had apparently been the only occupant of the boat. He was slowly coming up that part of the beach to where I was standing. As he got nearer my heart began to beat faster as I recognised in this visitor from the sea, the one whom I hoped once again to meet.
He seemed not the least surprised to find me waiting here instead of in my accustomed place. He greeted me as usual with one hand clasping my outstretched hand, and his other hand placed upon my forehead, saying: "Greetings, my son, peace be unto you." Then linking his arm within mine we turned with one accord and climbed up to the cliff head and walked towards my little sanctuary, up among the seagulls. Even now hundreds of these graceful birds were skimming hither and thither, planing the air with their outstretched, glistening white wings.
We sat down upon the grass. Now I looked out across the vast expanse of ocean, for a thought had come to me. I remembered that the boat in which my companion had arrived had not been made fast in any way; and I rather blamed myself for my negligence in not thinking of this; then I remembered that I had seen, or thought I had seen him or someone push it out to sea, as if it had served its purpose, and was no longer required. I thought now, as I shaded my eyes, I could just discern a tiny speck which I took to be the discarded, empty boat bobbing up and down, right out at sea. Then, as my companion still remained silent, I stole a side glance at him and wondered if I had discovered a secret. I wondered if this was the manner in which he was wont to come and go, if this was why I had on each occasion left him standing at the edge of the water as I had bidden him good-night. Perhaps he lived hermitlike in one of the caves of which there were many along this part of the coast. I knew of many such, tucked away cunningly between the chalk cliffs, some of them running for some considerable distance inland. But then, if this were so, why had he sent away the boat, and how would he return to-night after I had left him?
At this point he spoke: "Why trouble yourself, my son, about my coming and going, and why look with staring eyes at yon frail barque which did but serve its purpose?"
So, as usual, he had read my thoughts. I had noticed this so often that it had ceased to be a matter of wonder, but I could not help remarking that I was afraid the boat would be lost. Then I asked. "Was it empty, or had he a companion with him?"
"Yea, son," was his reply, "I had many companions and the pilot is still on board and will guide it safely into port."
I must have looked my surprise as I gazed into his face, so astonishing did this answer appear, for although I had not noticed the incident of his landing with any degree of certainty, yet I could have sworn that he had been alone. And furthermore, the boat was nothing but a cockle-shell for size, and could not have held more than two people comfortably. Yet he had answered that his companions had been many and that the pilot was still on board.
"Ah, son," he answered — to my unspoken thoughts — "thy memory is not what it once was or this thing would have caused thee no surprise."
I did not answer. I could not. Neither did I dream of questioning him further on the matter. I sat down and waited his time. I felt that for the moment the subject of the boat and his implied reminder of an earlier and more perfect or better memory must wait. It would be at least something for me to ponder over by and by. I was anxious just now but for one thing, that he might continue the interrupted story of the Garden Beautiful.
Again, as if in direct answer to my thoughts, he went on, just as if there had been no break in the story.
"It was not at first a rapid and headlong flight — this downward trend —this thing that writers have called 'The Fall of Man.' For a long time they had enjoyed life — life in its fullest sense. It was just a gradual falling away from the great ideal of perfect manhood. First one and then another would become discontented. Love of self and love of power would creep in, instead of the wonderful love that had hitherto made life sweet and beautiful. They began to put self first; to envy others who appeared to be more favoured, or more highly placed than were they themselves, and just as 'like attracts like,' so these discontented ones, these covetous ones, would influence others. The one became two and the two four, and as they grew in numbers, so also would the evil thus engendered grow and multiply.
They soon discovered that even in the unity of evil there was strength, for these had drawn to themselves evil influences from without, evil elementals that, in their first state of beautiful perfection could in no wise have gained an entrance to the beautiful Garden, much less have gained control over the lives of God's greatest living creation — man himself. Man knew well from the first that thoughts were living things, yet in his changing condition he did not realise the extent to which these living thoughts, which in the past had had such power to attract all that was beautiful, all that was sweet, and pure around him; how that now they were tenfold stronger to draw around him all that was the very personification of evil. Their eyes were already not so clear to discern the fact that what were at first but idle, mischievous thoughts, had now become evil, sinful things. Thoughts begat words and words begat deeds. Malice, hatred and all uncharitableness grew to such alarming proportions that nothing, it seemed, could stop them in their mad downward rush to destruction.
"At first evil had come to them in its most insinuating guise; garbed in its most attractive dress, even at times disguised in angel-like forms. Ah! the sadness of it all, to think that already these once perfect ones could have so far lost their keen sense of discernment as to be misled even to the extent of receiving with open arms evil decked out in mock representation of good. And the saddest of all was that those beautiful angel-beings who had hitherto been their constant guides had been driven away by the self-abuse of man's free will. These fallen ones had begun in their delusion to call evil good and good to them was evil. Yea, man, the shattered work of the Great Master Sculptor, was losing his pristine beauty. These marvellous works of the Creator's art were gradually but surely becoming defaced, bidding fair ultimately to become well-nigh unrecognisable. These wonderful beings — perfect out of the hands of Him who was perfection — were fast losing the God-part and taking on the earth-part, both of which were perfect in their created unity, but disastrous in their separation. They had taken of their own free will the first downward step from God-man to earth-man; they had left the path; they had wilfully abused that glorious God-given power of discernment of right and wrong, that great, inestimable gift that was denied to all the rest of creation — the gift of free will — the one thing above all others, which was ordained to raise man above all other things created, and to put him in authority over all.
"This then was the power, the holy thing that man at this time in his base ingratitude turned as a poisonous weapon against his very Maker and so henceforth, instead of being master of his own will, his will, governed by the powers of evil, had become his master and was soon, very soon, to prove a terrible taskmaster. Perhaps it would be truer to say he had lost the power of choice, his will was no longer his own because evil had become possessed of this once most precious possession, and holding the reins in its vicious grasp was driving its poor, deluded dupes as dead leaves before a gale, and they, poor deluded mortals, grasping the shadow for the substance, imagined they were still free agents, strong in the strength of ignorance, taking — like restless steeds — the bit between their teeth and going their own way, whereas in reality, they were ever being driven by the demons of darkness further and further from the light.
"You are wondering, my son, even while you write, why I speak of Demons, of Elementals, of things evil as if they were living things, and why and whence such beings came to exist, where all around had been perfection, where all else had been pure and beautiful. I would carry your mind back a little. In our first talk I told you that even these — the newly created people of the Garden Beautiful — may have had, and indeed had had a previous existence. I told you that life took on many forms, that life had ever been, that life must ever be, that these, even these, had had in one way or another, in one sphere or another, a part in the great scheme of creation, the mighty plan of the Universe. I told you there was no beginning and no end to the thing we speak of as life. In like manner even the angels have had their various stages of life; all have had their own part to fulfil, and all must in one way or another make good and render unto Him — the Great Over-Soul — that which is His from the beginning. Though they fail over and over again in their mission, all, whether it be man or angel, or whether it be the lower creation, all must in the fullness of time render unto God that which is His, for all creatures of Creation are but stewards of the gifts entrusted to their care, and each must render account of his stewardship.
"And so, just as these people had fallen from that perfect state in which we first saw them so also had others fallen, cycles and cycles of years before our story opens. Even angels had fallen from their exalted position, yea, even they in their time had become envious, envious of God Himself, even they would arrogate to themselves the very powers that were so immeasurably above them, they would become as Gods and dictate to others, they thirsted for power that would make them equal or even superior to the Great Over-Soul Himself.
"There was at this time one, who dwelt in the heavenly spheres among the highest celestial beings, whose name was Lucifer — one of the most gloriously bright and beautiful beings in the angel band. So exceeding bright and beautiful was he that he was known throughout the Angel realms as 'The bright and Morning Star.' So wonderful, so beautiful in form and feature was this angel, that it would be impossible to convey, in any word-picture that you would understand, but a faint idea of his magnificent presence. Mortal mind to-day cannot conceive of the transcendent beauty of Celestial beings, much less can it understand the majestic presence of the one of whom I am speaking and I do but tell of it to show how even one of the very highest beings in all creation may and must fall if he wilfully disobeys his maker and would usurp to himself — for his own selfish ends — that power which belongs to God alone.
"So I speak of this glorious being who was (and is still in outward appearance when he so wills) the most perfectly beautiful among men or angels, a very God of beauty — yet — he fell. Indeed he was the first of God's Super-creation to fall. He grew to love admiration and power and this was the beginning of the end. There came a time when he became so dissatisfied and so determined to rise that he gathered others around him — those whom he thought most likely to side with him in his unholy ambition. He talked with them and gradually he persuaded one and another, and these, in their turn would influence others. When he had collected all that would support him and acknowledge him as their chosen leader in this lust for power and position, in very defiance of God Himself, he rose up and gathering all his forces (which by this time were legion, so great was his power of attraction) he then brought together this mighty army, pitting his boasted strength against the Angels of God. 'And there was war in Heaven.'
"It is enough now that I tell you the angels of God overcame the legions of Lucifer. He was driven back, he and his hordes of dupes. He was driven out of Heaven down, down and still lower down into the gulf of darkness and despair. Yea, into the very jaws of Hell. His beaten hosts descended into the lower planes of those dark, shapeless, undeveloped valleys and rocks which abound in and about the outer belt of the lower planets. Here among the ugliness of undeveloped worlds, taking up their dwelling among all the elementary things and creatures of creation, dwelt these once gloriously bright beings — lost angels, being without a home, neither mortals nor immortals. Worse by far their condition than that of the lowest of the animal kingdom because they had known the highest form of life, while the lower order of creation were in their own element. Yea, with the lowest things of undeveloped nature, the unformed, slimy, shapeless, blind things of the underworld, these poor deluded beings — once glorious angels — had now to take up their abode.
"Here then, in this Hell of torture, this never dying fire of wounded pride and everlasting, tormenting conscience, sat he who had once been a very prince among angels. Now pointed at, spat upon, laughed and jeered at by those who had put their faith in his boasted powers, and from a Prince of Light and Beauty he had now become the Prince of Darkness. Here then — the most wretched of all these outcasts — sat this once mighty one, brooding over his lost position. Perhaps his dual nature was his greatest curse for the two natures were continually warring within him. It is written that 'He sat in power." There is in this a more awful, solemn truth than will ever be rightly known to earthly mortals. This accursed one had indeed sat in power in the greatest sense — the highest sense. He who had been trusted with all the knowledge that was permitted to those outside the great Over-Soul Himself, must now still sit in power for the terrible thing he had done.
"Yea, son, ponder over these words 'He sat in power.' (Hence his name 'Sat-in,' since called Satan). The Prince of Light had become the Prince of Darkness and must still hold his kingship over all evil. He would create for himself a power that should be superior to that of the Creator Himself. He had succeeded in creating evil, henceforth he must be the god of his own creation. He who cursed God and vowed to destroy God's work must henceforth be held to that vow. He was now the angel of darkness, yet still possessing enough of that original light to make of his new existence a tormenting hell of remorse. Ever and anon would the knowledge and memory of the past, and does even to this day, tug at his soul. At such times he will so far repent as to carry darkened, lost souls far upwards towards the road of progression, and leave them to the care of ministering ones and then return swiftly lest his mind should change and he desire (in accordance with his vows of vengeance) to drag them back. Thus, even to this day this king of an evil kingdom must ever torment himself. Yet that wonderful spark of the divine light has such vital power that even this one — the very author of Evil — though lost, is not eternally lost, for verily God who cannot lie, has said that 'not one shall be lost.' And one day when Satan finds his power of destruction can avail nothing; that after all, his terrible struggle must end in failure; that God is God; that good must in the end overcome evil, then, and only then, after he has suffered as no other being has ever or can ever suffer, then even he will look upwards and make the ascent of his own free will.
"Till then children of men have free will and power to choose whom they will serve — God or Mammon. Having chosen the downward path they make their own hell here below, and, hereafter. Hell is the abode of the troubled conscience — 'Healed' or 'Walled-in' by remorse and regret. They who choose it cannot escape its torment. Let none forget that reparation is required for every deed done in the body, for every injury in thought, word or deed to each other, payment must be made — and that to the uttermost. None can pay another's debt. Not even a crucified Son of God can pay another's debt of wrong-doing and sin against God or man. This is a truth that will cause many to stumble, yet there is no greater truth in earth or Heaven. Whether fallen angel or fallen man, the same law holds good. Others may point the way, others may give a helping hand, may even lead, but each must take the journey for himself, each work out his own salvation. Here or hereafter the debt must be paid. Time is nothing. Man's span of life on earth, even though he return many times. is but a tick of Eternity's clock. He may even by one self-sacrificing, self-effacing good deed to another go far towards working out his own salvation. He may rise in progression in the body, or out of the body, by the exercise of his own free will. Yet it is just as true he can choose to continue in the hell of his own making, here or hereafter, and none other, not even his own Creator, can lift him out of his self-made prison.
"I did not intend to speak at such length on this subject, my son, only you were asking in your own mind 'whence came evil to the dwellers of the Garden Beautiful?' This then was the beginning of evil. Evil came from without, but at the invitation of those within. Evil was waiting; evil had cursed God; had boasted of its strength and power; had pledged itself in a blasphemous vow to destroy. And evil must fulfil the vow it had made. The evil thought which had prompted the boastful threat had sprung into life. Evil must fulfil its self-imposed task. It must do its very best — or worst — to damage God's kingdom, to wreck His mighty creation, and spoil His beautiful handiwork. Yet, even so, evil could not have prevailed and overcome the people of the Garden Beautiful without the willing co-operation of man. While man had loved his God and lived as God intended him to live, evil was powerless to harm him, for evil with all its mighty strength must have abided in its own place — in the underworld, the hell, of its own making, gnawing and tearing at its own prison bars; dying a thousand deaths in its tantalising periods of returning memories; having its season of sane reasoning, yet living its everlasting life of ever recurring remorse, and then again remembering its vows, licking its terrible jaws of anticipated revenge, and yet withal, it must bide its time till man — God's new creation — should show the first sign of weakening. This and this only would give its long waited-for opportunity to pay its vows to its Chief and revenge itself against God for its own downfall. Thus it is not difficult to see how easy it was, when men began to rebel, for evil to take control and how easily man fell a prey to its influence. Thus I tell how man of his own free will placed himself in the power of evil. This is how evil came from without — it was admitted by the traitors within.
"The draw-bridge was lowered, the gate was open — at first so tiny the opening that only the least streak of the light from within could be seen by the enemy without. But soon the breach became wider and the time came when there was scarce any obstacle to the inrush of the army of darkness and destruction. The smallest thought of evil had gone forth, but it found its counter-thought of evil and was eagerly caught up — a living thing — within the hungry grasp of its fellows. Once again history repeats itself 'Like had attracted like,' evil had found evil; darkness settled over the land, night had come where once it was always day.
"Men wandered further and further from the light. The angel guards had sounded the Alarm. They had brought up their hosts and fought valiantly, but were powerless to help man against his will and inclination. He, poor, blind worm, could not, or would not distinguish between light and darkness. The face of evil became to him more acceptable than the faces of his beautiful forsaken angel guides. The Golden Way no longer remained to man a way of communication from their planet to the upper realms. They no longer sought to travel that way. They no longer looked forward to meeting those beautiful companion angels who had ever welcomed them, nay, they were naked and they were ashamed to meet their God. (See Appendix B).
"This then was the beginning of the end, this was how those beautiful God-like beings forsook their God and joined forces with evil. This is how they began to repay that divine Love. This is how that 'Master-light,' that 'Divine Spark,' that 'Mazda Essence,' that 'Living Breath,' that 'Godlikeness,' that living, breathing 'Soul force,' — God's inestimable gift to man — was abased, thrown back by man into the face of his Divine Creator.
Ah! I the pity of it all! What wonderful divine love must that Great Over-Soul have had to have stood by and looked upon this spoilation which later must lead to little short of complete destruction of what had been so fair a thing to look upon — his cherished ideal, his beautifully conceived thought that had become a gloriously beautiful living thing. There it lay in ruins; this once fairest thing in creation. What divine forbearance that He did not utterly destroy every breathing thing that had once been man! Ah! sad enough, but sadder still the thought that even HIS OWN SON, the first to bear the title of 'The Bright and Morning Star,' that it should be He of all others that was first and foremost in the work of destruction. He, of all the mighty fallen ones, was now to be the ringleader, the head of all the forces of evil. Man had given him just the opportunity for which he had long waited — the means to complete the destruction which he had sworn to bring about.
"Nothing that mortal can understand, nothing in history, past, present or future, can offer so sad a picture, and gladly would I have been spared the telling but that you have sought the truth, and none have ever sought out the Angel of Truth for truth's own sake but that he has found Him waiting to give and give abundantly of that precious attribute of God. Truth which is the living breath of God Himself made manifest through all His creation; only blurred and forgotten by man, to whom the Angel of Truth is now almost a complete stranger. Man has long since become a living lie and it has become far easier for him to believe a lie than to accept the truth.
"But to continue our story. These wilfully disobedient children did not stop to think of their share in this awful tragedy. Nor did they consider the ineffable Love that had caused them to breathe the living breath of a divine Father, nor to think what must be the grief of their Creator, when he looked on in sorrow at the spoilation of these beings who, with evil in their hearts, still bore an outward likeness to their Maker — that great loving God-Parent who had thought nothing too good nor too great for his children. They wrecked nothing of the grievous disappointment of the great Master Sculptor, who must look on in sorrow at the wilful destruction of his most cherished creation, now broken and defaced almost beyond recognition, nor gave a thought to the great divine Artist, whose glorious sun-kissed world — his best beloved garden — was rapidly becoming choked with weeds, where once was seen the fairest flowers, nor cared that stench and abomination arose from the earth, where hitherto all around had arisen sweet perfume. (See Appendix C.)
"It would serve no purpose to follow these erring ones through all their different stages, through the thousands upon thousands of years that followed. Generation upon generation rose up and took the place of those who had become old and shrivelled and had gone the way of what had long since become a naturally looked-forward-to end — the dissolution of all flesh. The earth period had become shorter, man's days in the earth-body were few compared with their earlier generations. Children were born, grew up apace, lived upon the coarse things of earth, died and were buried, few remembering or caring to know that there was an after life; the majority living a life of sin and wickedness, openly defying God to His face: many living an animal-like life of ignorance and stupidly burying their heads, ostrich-like, in the sand of ignorance that they might not see the danger which threatened them.
"And so this once wise people — even those who were not wilfully and desperately wicked, vile and steeped in sin — even these had become dull and stupid. Their eyes and ears and understanding, which had once been so perfect, so marvellously sensitive, had become dulled to such an extent that it might well be said, that "seeing they saw not, and hearing they heard not." Generation after generation had wilfully stopped their ears and covered their eyes lest the glorious light should shine in upon their darkness, and show up the hideousness of that existence which they now called life, and which they clung to so tenaciously. Many who were not totally blind and not quite stone deaf to that still, small voice of consciousness within them would run this way and that crying out ' lo! Here is light! There is heaven!' Others like sheep without a shepherd would run after them, only to find the light was but a flickering Will-o'-the-wisp, and heaven but a mocking mirage in the dry and arid desert. For even these blind leaders of the blind were not sincere; they themselves were in a maze of doubt and darkness, misunderstanding and self-delusion. Yet they would not trust that divine spark of intelligence within them, that God-given light which had been doused and dimmed, battered down, neglected and forgotten — struggling fast to exist in its dark, windowless prison. Yea, 'windowless'; for even its beautiful windows (the 'see-in' eyes of man), once so bright and beautiful, had become quite opaque with fog and mist, the neglect of ages — opaque as the walls surrounding them. And so, the light of understanding that might have been theirs shone not upon them, nor from them.
"Yet, even yet, the Great Divine One, in his mercy had never allowed its flame to be utterly extinguished. Nay, he could not; it was the one tiny spark of His own Divinity that could not die — the one thing that could not be killed outright, nor even wholly extinguished. Would they but clear the dirt and grime from the windows, trim and clean their lamp, let that spark of divine light waken up into even a semblance of the God-given power it once had been — then — were they truly in earnest — these benighted souls, that tiny starved flicker would have leapt up into new life and shone out like a beacon to show to themselves and others the way. Darkness would have been dispersed, the crooked paths of their tortuous, self-constructed maze would have become plain.
"But even these were not sincere. They knew that they were intended for something better, something higher, but they could not see further than their limited selfish natures would allow them. True they would sometimes raise their weary eyes and wonder if somewhere, far away, perhaps beyond the grave, there might not be something better and brighter, but with a sigh they would again turn to their muck-rake and with their dull, lustreless, unseeing eyes on the ground they would rake among the filth for tiny bits of yellow dross which it seemed none could live without.
"It is curious, this yellow trait which had developed in these coarsened natures, the thing for which they were for ever toiling and searching — this yellow metal which they called gold. When they found it, they would make it into small, round discs; it was used for barter even as it is to-day. It eventually became a mania with this self-exiled people to collect this gold; indeed it became a god, and was soon the god set up before all other gods — worshipped by all. None it seemed could resist its power — its fascination — it was the God that ruled absolutely throughout the land, the God that was bowed down to and worshipped by young and old alike. It was the standard by which all conditions of men were measured. Whatever the position or standing in life, every man must be weighed in the balance, and the weight set against him must be his wealth of gold. His very virtues, or want of them, must be considered in the light of his possessions. It mattered not how he had become rich so long as he possessed gold in abundance. It was accounted nothing that many must starve that the few might become wealthy. Even for balancing the scales of so-called Justice the weights used in the balance must be of gold. Be he rich he is acquitted; if poor he must suffer imprisonment. It was the boast of many that anything could be bought with gold, even man's honour and woman's purity. Lives could be sold into bondage, the unwanted could be removed. The highest positions could be bought with gold. Gold was the key that unlocked the door of every great position in the land. Yea, even in the Church itself; for be a man ever so worthy but poor, he must be content to remain at the bottom, but be he rich or has he rich friends — known as influential friends — then he can reach out and take the highest position, he can become a Dictator — a very God of power — even in the Church he may be a 'Golden Calf' — though he be without the brain-power of the poor beast thus represented — and he will be fawned upon, bowed down to and worshipped — a useless golden image — a very idol in what his poor dupes call 'The House of God.' He may dwell in a palace and have many hired slaves to do his bidding. He does but fulfil the truth of that saying in the Book, 'Man made unto himself a golden calf and the people did kneel down and worship it.'
"So these poor deluded ones, like the ostrich we spoke of, continued to bury their heads in the sand. They could not see that even their golden god must one day be shattered to pieces, and the day must come when men's riches must be left behind; that his hoard of gold which had blinded his eyes to the golden opportunities he had missed in this life, and those that should have been his when this earth life was finished, he sees not that the earth-gold was but a reminder of that beautiful city — that Garden Beautiful, which was once his golden heritage — his rightful home — just a shadowy symbol of the great and glorious Golden City to which even yet he might have returned. Yea, even as the prodigal son — would he but leave the husks and the swine-like conditions — would he but 'stand still and ask for the old paths' — would he but learn to live, to breathe again as he once had breathed 'the breath of life.' Yea, did he but understand, even this poor unrecognisable edition of what was once a perfect being — he might have returned to his father. But no, his eyes had become so dull and unseeing that it had become to him well nigh impossible to distinguish between the substance and the shadow — good and evil, life and death.
"And yet in all this God was not unmindful of his people even though they had deteriorated to such an extent as to be well nigh unrecognisable, to have lost almost every trace of His likeness. Eyes, ears and understanding had lost their first uses. Though they were wilfully sinful and rebellious, yet He who in infinite love had begotten them was not unmindful of his erring children.
"Great teachers were sent from time to time, many beautiful angel forms clothed in the flesh of man, came among them; lived among them; worked and suffered among them, yet one and all were doubted and generally unrecognised; misunderstood, discredited, buffeted about, imprisoned and even tortured and their earth bodies killed.
And thus, time after time, man laughed in the face of his Maker, spurned his offer to re-instate him and still His wonderful patience held out. Yea, there came a time when He sent out the greatest messenger of all — His well-beloved son — He whom they called 'Jesus the Christ.' Right out from the realms of glory came this mighty one. He came — the only begotten Son of the Great Divine Father, part of God Himself.
"I have told of one who had borne the name of 'Bright and Morning Star,' how he fell and brought destruction with him. Now once more a mighty one bearing the same exalted Name was to come from the very bosom of the Father to redeem from utter destruction those lost ones. One of royal title had defied God and His creation and would drag man down with him, now came One who was the very 'Master of Love,' the very essence of His Divine Father.
"He came among men to show from his very life and example what Love Divine could do to raise man up again, to lift him up from out the mire in which he had sunken so deep. And so yet another chance was to be given to man. He came, this divine One into the coarsened conditions of decadent man, just as one of themselves, eating and drinking and sharing man's hardships. You may read of Him in your book; of this great divine One who came in lowly estate, came to teach this rebellious people — this stubborn and stiff-necked race. Many had been his heralds; many the Prophets who had foretold his coming, yet so blind were these people that there were but few who recognised this, the lowly babe, born of lowly parents. They looked for a King — but few recognised in this lowly born babe the "King of Kings." Nay, truly is it written 'He came unto His own and His own received Him not.' Even those of His own household — His own brethren — knew not that this babe who grew up among them, played among them, studied with them and worked patiently at his father's bench, that He was indeed very God in human flesh.
"From first to last He was misunderstood, despised, beaten, bruised and ill—treated by those whom He had come to save; denied and forsaken even by those whom He called His friends. Yea, His very disciples, those few chosen ones who had followed Him, were found wanting when it would seem He most needed sympathy and companionship.
"There is no need I should tell you the life and teaching of this — God's great messenger — for although you say that your Book is misleading and obscure — as indeed it is in many ways — yet much of His life is chronicled therein, enough to show whom He was, and what was His mission, in what manner He was received; how He suffered and was put to an ignominious death in the most degrading way and made to suffer the most intense pain that degraded man could conceive and devise.
"You are thinking, my son, that all this was a long time ago when men were ignorant. You would say that things would be different now, that surely in this more enlightened age man would recognise such a Divine Teacher, were He to appear among them as in the Gallilean days; that dull and blind as they are, they must needs see the God-like beauty in the face, form and life of the Christ.
"Nay, I tell you, man has not changed, unless it be for the worse. In all this time man has learned nothing. What would you say, son, if I told you that this messenger whom the Great Holy Father sent out from his bosom had never yet left the earth plane? Yet, verily I tell you but the simple truth when I say that He, the Nazarene, has not ceased to go up and down, and to and fro, among His people. Aye, even in the flesh, in bodily form, in this place or that, in one form or another.
"Yes, I know you would say, 'He died. He was crucified. He rose again, He ascended into heaven.' Yes, 'tis true they killed His earthly body, yet for Him that was a trifling thing. Truly the breathing ceased, the heart in that body of flesh ceased to beat just for a moment of time, true He suffered even the pangs of bodily death, for, as it is written, 'He suffered in all points like as we, yet without sin.' He must go the whole gamut of human suffering that man's body was heir to.
"Yes, it is true they — the Jews — goaded by their crafty priests did indeed murder the Great Teacher sent out from God, but they who killed His body killed their own soul; 'twas they who died and He who lived. He could not die, and He did not. That which you call death was but the stopping for a moment of the breath, that living thing which had enabled the earth body to function, But even this could not materially affect this perfect body, it did but rest awhile — slept awhile. Even this cessation of breathing did not kill that body, nay, that perfect form could not, and did not, see corruption. No grave could get the victory over a body that was perfect.
"Here was a perfect 'God-Man '-being, like the first race of earth dwellers; like those of the Garden Beautiful. Perfect Divinity in perfect Humanity. Could such an one die? Did He die? Nay, a thousand times nay. Think a moment — you yourself, my son, have seen that which it is not given to many in this materialistic age to see. You yourself have seen — in the case of one who is dear to us both, not once, but on three separate occasions; how that poor imperfect body has lain racked with pain until at last the heart has ceased to beat; breath has stopped; the organs ceasing any longer to function. You have known of a certainty beyond all possible doubt that the spirit has fled away to another sphere, free of its earthly habitation, leaving behind that poor frail body, now cold and stiff, in that state which men call death. Yet, because her time was not yet come; because there was still much for her to accomplish; because she had a part to play in that loving Father's scheme for the final call of man, for these things, and because of the great love of one of the faithful watchers at her side, for this cause, and for this and other reasons, you have watched those cold, glazed eyes, the earthly windows from which her beautiful soul had gazed. You have watched, and have seen after a short period of rest, that spirit returning. You have watched breathlessly — wonderingly — the colour returning to those cold, pale cheeks, the light divine once more struggling to shine in a loving smile through those dear eyes. You have felt the first faint pulsations of the heart's beat as the life blood recommenced its task of supplying the earth body with new life. You have waited and watched anxiously for the first sign of recognition, and then the first faintly articulated words of this beloved one, as once again she came back to gladden your heart. Then later you have listened with bated breath to hear of the beautiful rest that had been hers; the wonderful draught of the 'Water of Life'; that had been administered, the joyous welcome accorded her by the loving friends who had so tenderly and lovingly watched over her during her short sojourn in the dark planet below. She had found the 'Golden Way,' she had travelled along that once well-trodden path and had returned by it once more to take up the thread of what men call life — the living death that man has brought about in the planet that has wandered so far away from its position near the sun, having well-nigh lost his own sun, or soul light, in the descent thereof.
"You have seen this, my son; this thing in your own time; this natural law of God, this thing that men would call 'miracle.' 'What is Life?' 'What is Death?' You have known the one and you have seen the other. Full well you know that she of whom we speak did in truth pass the portals of what men call death, and yet each time she did in very truth return. The same spirit, the same body, the same life. For a time she sleeps, the breath of life is withdrawn from the body and travels up the 'Golden Way.' The body dies. The breath of life is once more breathed into her nostrils and behold she lives. Yet what would they say — these non-believers — had you told them the truth? How would they have received this revelation of God's wonderful love? Would they not have treated you as they did the Divine One of whom I have been speaking, would they not have called you a madman, or one possessed of devils?
"I do but remind you of this, son, that you may see what occurred after the Crucifixion of the Master Messenger. They did indeed murder the Son of God. They also laid him in a grave. Yea, he descended into hell — ('healed' — or 'walled in' — a closed in tomb). Yet hell could not hold Him, and even here there was no miracle, unless it be a miracle that his few closest friends (who had begged the body and laid it here away from the angry people) watched over him, and waited patiently and confidently for the return of the spirit to the body, and then straightway led him back through the secret passage which connected the tomb with the house of its owner — Joseph of Arimathea. Here they were met by that most wretched of all men — poor Judas — who in his distraught state of mind thought he saw the ghost of his betrayed Master returning from the dead, leaning on the arms of two men, whom he took to be his accusers. This was the unbearable point at which his reason snapped, and with a frenzied shriek he dashed back along the secret passage leading to the tomb, and with the abnormal strength of the maniac he dashed himself against the obstacle that seemed to bar the way to freedom. With terrible shrieks and curses and the strength of ten normal men, he forced away — all unaided — the heavy sealed stone that closed up the entrance to the tomb, and with the terrible howl of the madman, rushed away to the place where he met his own destruction.
"I tell you this at some length for your own enlightenment. It was not that there was any need for undue secrecy (except in the minds of a few faithful friends who still feared the power of the Authorities), but that it was his wish to withdraw for a time from the scenes of strife, perhaps to rest from the apparently useless endeavour to save an unsaveable people.
"I speak of it now to show that there was no death for Him, not even the death of the body — that perfect tabernacle which held within it the beautiful living spirit of Him of whom the preacher says 'He had to die that sinners might live.' Not so, the spirit did but pass for a short time to return again to the scene of His earthly sojourn. Again and again He appeared to His chosen ones, showing even the most sceptical, the marks of his murderers, proving even to doubting Thomas that it was not only Himself in very truth, but that it was the same body, the form they had all known and loved so well. It is true He ascended into Heaven, but is it not true also that He left part of Himself — the Holy Ghost — with them? Has this, the Christ Spirit ever left? It is true He ascended unto His Father from whence He had come, and that that divine essence — that freed spirit — was seen to rise in its beautiful glistening robes in the very sight of man, and, as an acknowledgment of His finished work, was received back into the bosom of His Father. But it is just as true — although men know it not — that His beautiful Spirit — free to come and go as it willed — still deigned to return to earth and even to inhabit that perfect body, and entered a place known as 'The Golden City,' which was but another name for the 'Garden Beautiful.' For — like all other perfect works of creation — this beautiful Garden World had been preserved, or at least that part of it was, and is still perfect and intact, in which lived and still live those of its people who have remained loyal to its Creator. Although it was still on the same planet and had of necessity fallen with the rest into a lower position, yet it had ever been preserved and girded about with an etheric belt of an impenetrable force of protection. It still existed, does exist and must exist, forming a nucleus from which once again shall grow up a complete and beautiful World Garden, peopled by perfect beings, when the wheat has been sifted from the chaff, and God shall gather in His Elect; when man shall have come into his own, and that great fallen Angel shall find nothing left worth his unequal fight; when he will have done his worst and failed as fail he must.
"I would like to tell you more of this secret City which was, and is, hidden from the sight of degenerate man, wherein have ever lived a remnant of those God-like faithful ones, those beautiful beings who have always, and do even now from time to time, like the Master Messenger of whom I was speaking, leave this blessed abode, and go out into the dark places of the earth, to try to influence erring men; to re-kindle that light that is within them, and use the means God has given them, to get back to their lost estate, back to that lost Paradise that was theirs from the beginning. Often, very often, these messengers will go among men in the guise of humble travellers in their own perfect earth bodies, yet from the blind dwellers of earth their brightness is hidden and they appear as solid, heavy bodies like unto their own, eating and drinking with them; walking, working and talking with them; and poor, blind man, with his nose to the grind-stone, thinking only of the things of this life, knows not that he is entertaining angels. But I stay not at this time to tell you further of these people of the 'City of Gold' except to say, that this was the place to which the Master would often, in weariness of soul, return during His years of ministry, and this is where He took up His abode when He had finished the fight that was so cruelly brought to an end by the people's final and utter rejection.
"He was no longer wanted by those He had come to save and they — those misguided Jews, who sealed their own doom by calling down God's vengeance on their own heads, and the heads of their children for ever, from that moment began to scatter as sheep without a shepherd, and are, and must be, to the end a race of wandering outcasts for they, like that great fallen one, Lucifer, must fulfil their task; must take upon themselves the murderer's doom. The innocent blood that was shed by their frenzied demand 'Crucify Him! Crucify Him!' instead of being their salvation has ever been, and must be, their condemnation. At their own command or blasphemous prayer that 'His blood be upon their children's head.' So to this day, and to the last day of their sojourn on earth, have they been and must be branded as murderers; reaping the benefit of their fathers' curse: having no home, no King, no Shepherd, and no fold — still looking for that earthly king which for them will never come. Waxing fat on the land; getting to themselves riches as men count riches; filling their barns with much corn, sweating the worker, grinding to death the poor, covering the whole earth like locusts, bloated in shape and full to the bursting, even when famine and want stalk through the land, saying to themselves, 'eat, drink and be merry for to-morrow we die.' Ah! fools — blind fools — better, far better for them, had they never lived and brought forth their kind, for I say unto you, 'Even these have their reward,' for they killed their King, and His blood is upon them, and their children, and their children's children. They, like their Master who cursed God and His whole creation, must reap the reward of wilful perversion of their own free will and must pay the price to the uttermost farthing, for 'God is not mocked.' And even these, as all others who spit in the face of God, must pay the dreadful cost of working out their own salvation. 'None shall escape.' (See Appendix D).
"And so, when He had said 'It is finished' so was finished that self-imposed task of this, the divine envoy of the great Divine Father. He had fought a great fight with gentle, pure, God-like weapons. Not once had he failed, he had won a triumph such as no mortal mind can grasp. Yet once again it would seem that so far as the redemption of man was concerned, the victory had gone to the enemy. Evil had drawn to itself evil, and those whom He had come to save, had murdered their rejected Saviour. It was here, then in this City of Gold, that He withdrew from the eyes of the world and the persecution of the enemy. He whom they thought to have destroyed; He who was now supposed to be dead, as others had died before Him, repaired to this city of refuge, together with His beloved John, His Mother, the Bethany family, and a few of the faithful ones who had followed Him; for these also He took with Him.
"Here he remained for a time in this sanctuary, finding a haven of rest in this world within a world that had been kept from the beginning. Here from time to time others would come and rest awhile, and others again would leave and go forth into the outer world. For there was no giving up even though the people had rejected the greatest Messenger of all. Others must take up the fight. The seed had been sown, and, here a grain and there a grain, may perchance have fallen upon good ground and would need to be tended and watched over. And from here also He, the Messenger, would go forth, sometimes with His workers and sometimes alone, but never more was He to be seen teaching the multitude and following the life and work that had been His before the Crucifixion.
"Yet, as I have already told you, He has ever appeared and does even in this your day appear from time to time in one bodily form or another among men as solidly material as they themselves. Many have been the times when that divine Messenger has been pushed from pillar to post and driven away as 'the unwanted,' even by those who take upon their lips His name and hide their false identity under the name of Christian. Yet even to this day, He continues to materialise and dematerialise, to create a form, and to dissolve that form and reappear in another form and place. Or to take possession of and use for a period some existing form, even some well-known character, no matter who they be or in what position of life they be found. If and when the great Messenger can find an 'empty vessel' fit for His use, then such an one, be he preacher, healer or other worker, becomes a 'living breath,' a light unto the people who sit in darkness. Yea, if but clean and empty, no matter how poor and humble that vessel, it may be of the commonest clay, and of the poorest glaze or no glaze at all, yet when filled with His beautiful spirit that vessel becomes beautiful, and pours forth its sparkling water — 'the Water of Life.'
"And so this City of Gold still remains — a place of rest for God's messengers, who still retain their perfect earth bodies, and are still endowed with those perfect God-given attributes, and who still deem it a privilege that they may be allowed to try and influence those other earth dwellers who have sunk so low and are groping in the darkness of ignorance. So think it not strange, my son, that you find me or others of this Golden City in this place and that, or that the manner of going and coming seems to you strange, for those of whom I speak do but make use of the gifts and powers that have been theirs from the beginning, and might well be yours to-day did you but understand what perfect life is, and what perfect liberty means. If that light within you was burning brightly, you would know that even you yourself are but a part of one of the dwellers of that Golden City, just a part sent out and watched over by that other part, the living part — the perfect part. You come once again in this present generation with nothing to distinguish you from others around you, nothing to help you but your own light within. But the little light you had well nigh lost has become stronger, the failing voice within you has begun to make itself heard, the weeds around you are being plucked up by the roots, and the beautiful flowers are gradually making their appearance, the breath of life is awakening and regenerating that power within. Your eyes and ears and other faculties are slowly but surely regaining a measure of that sensitiveness that was once yours.
"Even now, as we sit here, you can hear the bells of that Golden City ringing out their joyous chimes, which are heard by none outside the family. No stranger hears even faintly their beautiful golden message. Yea, son, you have begun to read life's message aright. You are exercising your choice of freedom towards that better part — working out your own salvation — which none other, not even a dying Saviour, can work out for you. Then go on to that fuller understanding, reach out and take with both hands that birthright which was yours from the first. 'Work while it is called day, for the night cometh.'
"Yes, I know the question that you would ask: 'Where is this Golden City whose bells are even now ringing?' Many have wondered, many have asked of that City; many have dreamed of it; many have tried to describe it. Some even, being more spiritually gifted, have seen it from afar, but even at the best it has been but a poor, blurred vision, conveying but a faint idea of its real glories. Yet in very truth it exists to-day, as real and as solid, as the rock on which we sit, but it is the one spot on this darkened planet that is protected against man in his search for conquest and his greed for gold; protected by a belt of etheric force that no mortal can approach, much less penetrate. Not all the combined force of man-invented explosives could move by one hair's breadth the outermost edge of this belt of protection which surrounds all that is left of the Garden Beautiful — that world within a world, 'the City of Gold.' Yet it is there — a perfect Heaven on earth — awaiting the return of the faithful who are out gathering in the harvest, seeking to point out the way home to erring man, helping him to re-kindle that light which is within him; helping him to regain that state which shall once again admit him to his own place, 'a perfect man,' — a beautiful being having within him that perfect divine light, breathing freely that divine Breath of Life.
"This is the password to the City of Gold, this is the power that can pierce that belt of protection and reveal to man what was once his own and for so long has been lost.
"If you would ask what it is like within the City of Gold, then you must know it is exactly the same as was the Garden Beautiful when God created man in His own image. It is the old yet new Jerusalem, it is a remnant of God's perfect creation saved by the faithful, for the faithful, and it is here that the harvest will be gathered in when that time comes (and it comes quickly) which men call the Millennium. And it is the same which John the Divine saw in that vision which he calls 'A new Heaven and a new Earth,' prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, a tabernacle of God wherein He shall dwell with His people, when they have been gathered in, and when all tears shall be wiped from their eyes, and there shall be no more death neither sorrow nor crying, nor any more pain shall be theirs. Where he that overcometh shall inherit all things.
"This, my son, was not a vision of some faraway Heaven to be gained after death when poor blind man (after a wasted life of selfishness and greed had gone through some eleventh hour form of repentance, and by proclaiming a belated belief in a crucified Saviour) might enter into a blissful state of rest and forgetfulness, nay, it was a perfect picture impressed on the brain or mind of John (illuminated by that light within him which he had kept burning more brightly than others) of that Golden City on this your earth plane. What he saw and described was a picture of an actual existing city, that Garden Beautiful, God's perfect creation; that perfect abode of a perfect people that has remained from the first, and will be saved intact when the crash comes and when all other parts that have been trodden on and degraded by man, shall be submerged and forgotten, together with the dross for which man bartered his birthright and the toys he had made and the houses he had built and the gold he had amassed; when the wheat is gathered in and the useless chaff burned or swept away in the whirlwind of the outraged elements, or engulfed in the deluge, or swallowed up in the yawning jaws of the opening earth or buried 'neath the falling mountains. Too late then to preach a living Christ and too late for a dead Christ to listen.
"But perchance, son, some may even yet listen. Write, tell them of the living Christ, even though all around it is the dead Christ that is held aloft as the Saviour of a dead people, and as a sacrifice for their own wilful sin, as a bridge to carry a life of lies to a home of truth and beauty. Yea, cry it from the housetops, my son, that 'Christ lives.' 'Tis the living Christ that matters, the death was nought but treachery and murder. It is the life that matters, death is but the passing of a miss-spent life to yet another beginning (not an oblivious ending). Nay, 'believing in the death of the crucified one,' 'washing in the blood,' 'bathing in the crimson fountain' — avails nothing. Let those who would teach first learn that salvation is to those who live the life as He lived and taught it. That for Him there was no death and for them there is no death. 'Fear not those who can kill the body but rather those who would kill the soul,' says the writer. Even your preacher has much to learn ere he would teach others 'the Way, the Truth and the Life.' Let him first find the life, live the life, and then show it to others. Why do these preachers obscure and make mystery out of the scriptures which they themselves do not understand, why take His simple teachings and twist them to make straight their own crooked ways, turning the most simple truths into miraculous mysteries. Why pretend to swallow the scriptures as a whole, giving out that the whole Book — independent of obvious inaccuracies, misrepresentations and misquotations — is the inspired word of God, yet in their hearts refusing to recognise the most simple truths? Proclaiming light when they themselves sit in darkness, 'having eyes and seeing not, having ears and hearing not,' teaching others as they themselves have been taught, and having not the courage to think for themselves, neglecting to use the gift of discernment God has given them, failing to let the light which is within them so shine that others may be illumined thereby. Yea, like the foolish virgins, they have forgotten to trim their lamps and are stumbling along in unnecessary darkness, 'blind leaders of the blind.' Everything is taken out of its simple setting and made to appear mysterious.
"From cradle to Cross His life — this One of whom I am speaking — was one beautiful, simple, loving example, showing once again to fallen man what man had once been. Once again a perfect man had come to dwell among men, preaching Life, living Life, radiating that glorious 'light of Life' all around, lighting up the dark places. He was God, 'tis true, but 'tis just as true that He was man. He was no more divine than human and no more human than divine. He was just a living example of a perfect man, perfect in every sense of the word. His body an earthly tabernacle enshrining that divine part — the 'light of Life.'
"Yes, 'tis true He was God, but He came as man. There was no mystery about Him, no, not even about His birth. He was born just a child of earthly parents. Mary was His mother just as Joseph was His father. That which was man was born of man and that which was Spirit was born of Spirit. In that tiny embryo — even at conception — was implanted that Spirit Divine. And just as every man was perfect in the Garden Beautiful in the beginning, so once more a single perfect man had come to earth; born a perfect babe; lived a perfect child; a perfect youth, a perfect man, but with this difference: man in the beginning lived amid perfect surroundings and ideal conditions. Here was a perfect God-man living and demonstrating a perfect life among the most uncongenial surroundings; teaching that which He lived and living that which He taught; pointing out the way to erring man and showing by His own life the possibility of regaining that lost Paradise by the re-kindling of that light that was and is within him.
"But, alas! their deeds were evil and they loved darkness rather than light in His day even as they do to-day."
"And so again I say: marvel not, my son, that to-day they pretend to accept the truth as set forth in the book you call the Bible; swallowing all the apparently strange happenings therein recorded as miracles of a bygone day, yet wilfully shutting their eyes to present day happenings, when God in His long-suffering mercy still deigns to show them signs and wonders. Marvel not that they should, in their sinful ignorance and wilful blindness, attribute God's present-day warnings to Satanic agency. The great loving Father, in His infinite mercy, still speaks to man, even in these — the last days — He speaks in signs and wonders. His messengers — both in the body and out of the body — are still allowed to point the way and to sound the alarm. Still man goes on seeing nothing beyond his immediate surroundings, clinging with feverish tenacity to this tiny span of existence which he calls life; this short breathing space of time which is but as a second in the great eternity of his soul's existence. He sees not the writing on the wall; he sees not that the day of reckoning is here, for verily I tell you that these are in very truth the last days. Also I tell you that God will not always be mocked, the day of wrath is even now upon them, but they will not see, they will not believe. Nay, even in this day, when His messengers do indeed return from the so-called dead, and others cry out from all the ends of the earth, in this way and that, in this form and that; declaring ever, proving ever that there is no death; that life goes on for ever and ever; that what a man sows that shall he also reap, if not in one life then in another, and none shall escape the consequences of his own wilful blindness — his own continued rush downwards to destruction.
"And so it is even in your day. Man has forgotten everything — even how to eat. He continues to ignore the command 'Thou shalt not kill.' Yea, I would remind you that the day man shed the blood of beast, and did eat thereof, that day did his nature partake of the nature of the beast, and his beautiful God-given body, with its perfect functioning parts, its full complement of keen senses, its lofty ideals, its fulness of life, began to deteriorate and his whole nature became coarsened, until a time came when the wonderful etheric food, and the other foods Nature had so freely and abundantly provided, could no longer satisfy or sustain him.
"Then life on earth grew shorter and man began to be subject to all kinds of illness and disease, and he began to waste away and die the earth-death, the bodily death. It was partly through this unnatural food that the body took on the nature and conditions which have in course of time brought about the chaotic conditions that have obtained, in greater or lesser degrees, for thousands upon thousands, nay — millions of years — indeed for so long a time — as men count time — that your historians do but write of people, things and times as if an earlier and better time had never existed. And so this once perfect body partook of the nature and conditions of rot and decay — that body which might have lived on in its blissful earthly condition, became subject to corruption, and man began to die — that is his coarsened body became feeble with age. Through its imperfect functioning there came a time, in the fullness of years, when the Spirit, the Light, the Sun (call it what you will) could no longer be held prisoner in the darkened, ruined earthly temple, but must needs burst its prison bars and escape to another sphere, where life took on a fresh meaning; where it must begin over again its allotted task, to fulfil its unfinished mission, and the body — worn out and withered — must return for a time to the dust of the earth to die, and yet not to die, but to take on life in another form. And this was the beginning of what men call death.
"So I say unto you: tell man while there may even yet be time to care for the body, which even your preacher says (without knowing what he means) 'is the temple of the Holy Ghost.' Tell him he can, if he so will, live so that even his body, that ill-treated shrine of his soul, may yet be brought to a state of real life, may yet take upon itself the likeness, the attributes, the perfection of his first self.
"'Tis true he sees all around him the signs of death and decay — the burying of the body beneath the ground; for cycles and cycles of years it has been so, and for those who will not hear and cannot or will not see, it must even yet be so. To such ones the poor, frail tent, or tabernacle in which for so short a space of time their feeble light has struggled in a vain endeavour to make its smothered existence known, to such, I say, the spirit within must soar away to its own place — whether upwards and onwards — ever making for progression, or whether downwards among the undercurrents, to learn the lesson of 'what might have been,' the awful lesson of wilful blindness.
"This, I say, will be according to the way he has used the light that is within him. Yet, even so, even with these, God — the God of Justice — has decreed that they should be allowed to make good if they will. Yes, even with these, as in the body, so out of the body, free will remains to them and many have been allowed, time after time, to return to the earth plane. Some, while on the other side, would have made some progress in the more congenial surroundings, while others would have learned nothing or, worse, would have sunken deeper in degradation, dragging others down with them.
"And ever the eternal fight goes on — this struggle between man's will and God's will. Ignorance and darkness against wisdom and light. Cycles upon cycles of wasted years spent in kicking against the pricks, the worm raising its head against its maker, beings who were once glorious things of light now through their own folly degenerated into blind moles ever groping along a maze of darkness of their own making. In their wilful blindness they remember nothing of their first estate. They profit nothing by the former generation's mistakes; they go through a useless existence, and if they look forward at all to a future, it is to some undefined, shadowy 'better land,' where their own commonsense — stupid as they are — must tell them they could not be happy. They are worse than blind, they are dead while they live, and they do not realise in their blind drifting that even to-day, at the eleventh hour, He sends His messengers of Light to try and awaken them to the necessity of re-kindling that spark of Light that is within them. Imploring them even yet to trim their lamps, to let their own God-given sun shine and illumine the whole temple. Bidding them heal themselves, heal their own bodies, learn to breathe aright, to breathe in again, even here and now on this earth, that God-given breath to its fullest life-giving capacity. To get back again to that perfect state of healthy clean living, that free and happy condition that had been theirs in the beginning of time — that perfect state from which they started. To learn right here and now, that in saving their bodies, they save their souls. To heed not the cowardly teaching that the consequences of a useless, miss-spent life may be evaded by shifting the guilt on to a dying Saviour.
"Nay, let them listen rather to the Clarion Call sent out all along the line that Christ lives, and lives for ever, and that man lives and lives for ever. Let that perfect example which was but one of many — albeit the greatest — be the standard of living even here upon earth. Learn to live aright in this life and there will be no need to worry about the after life, for the after life will be but the beautiful continuance of the perfect present. Learn what it means to breathe in to the full that life-force all around you, filling every part of that wonderful being with the live energy which is and always has been free to all. Learn to breathe aright that life-giving galamac force that is yours for the taking. Fill up those ill-used, or almost disused, lungs to their utmost capacity, with head thrown back and spine erect, eyes lifted to the blue vault above as very sons of God. Recognise and take your birthright. Yea, lift up your eyes from the ground. Throw down the muck-rake, 'lift thine eyes up unto the hills from whence cometh thy help' and, instead of a selfish, whining prayer for forgiveness, break forth into a Song of Thanksgiving to your great loving Father because you are beginning to live; just taking the first determined step forward — or rather backward — towards that perfect state from which you started, because you are determined to rise and return to your Father, and claim your inheritance; determined to let go the shadow, and grasp the substance.
"Learn then to live. Learn to recharge those exhausted cells; reawaken those sleeping senses; rekindle the illuminating rays of that wonderful sun — the light divine that is within you, lighting up with its brilliance every disused chamber in that wonderful temple, that Holy Tabernacle. Bring into active working all those almost forgotten attributes of perfect man. Learn what it really means to see and hear and understand; learn to eat aright of the abundance of food Nature provides, learn to know thyself. Learn that there is nothing outside of yourself better worth knowing; that in the whole universe there is nothing greater than yourself — not even God — and this is no blasphemy, because God is within you — a part of you — therefore you are a part of Him. Remember that in your body is the crystalisation of everything in the whole realm of Nature, whether it be of animal, vegetable, mineral or any other kingdom.
"Man—perfect man — is beautiful. Man is sublime, every form of power and force found in Nature is represented in its perfect form in man."
With these words the voice stopped. My "Divine Wayfarer" paused. Seemingly He had finished His story.
Presently, looking up into that wondrous face, I ventured on the remark, "How man must have fallen. I wonder does he realise to what extent ?" He slowly shook His head with its beautiful crown of hair.
"Nay, my son," he answered, "it is for the want of thought he goes on and on ever downward — simply because he does not stop to think. If man could only be got to think seriously for himself, to seriously reason with that still small voice within — his Deity, his earthly Saviour which the Divine and Holy God left within the secret recess of the chamber of his soul — then and only then would man realise the truth, then, like the prodigal son, he would return unto his Father, and his Father (his soul's Deity) would gladly embrace him, and no questions would be asked. He would throw away those humiliating husks and evermore partake of the Royal feast. Henceforth he would go forward ever remembering that 'good thoughts, good words and good deeds' towards his fellow creatures were to be to him as the very breath of life, evermore living in the radiating light of his soul's state of consciousness. Being a law unto himself, ever obeying without question 'that still small voice' within, and needing not that others should teach him. Proving the words 'the kingdom of Heaven is within you' — for does not the Great One say, 'Ye are God and God's.'
"So, my son, take this message, and give it unto humanity — that they may read what is written — that they may see, hear, learn and understand — for these are the days of gathering in, and if there are those who hear and understand and respond not, grieve not over them for the loss is theirs. The 'last trump' is sounding and all the dead that are to live again shall arise — that is, those who are dead in sin and ignorance, and who have wandered, shall respond to the message of life and return unto the Royal Household.
"Yea, the message is even to-day being sent broadcast to the four ends of the earth — North, South, East and West shall receive the message with no uncertain sound. Wise and happy are they who have ears to hear, and respond to the call. But woe unto those who will not listen to this last message for they shall call upon the rocks and mountains to hide them.
"A few years hence atmospheric conditions on this planet will be such that only those who have forsaken the husks will be able to stand the changed conditions of life. So, my son, you see the importance of my message, and always remember 'the Hope of the World is Love, ' — love, pure and undefiled, universal love and the soul's pure illuminating light to lighten their feet unto the way of everlasting happiness and peace. Unto this end let all things prosper."
These seven words — forming the concluding sentence of this wonderful story — were uttered with great solemnity — with hand raised and eyes looking away into infinity. They were strange words to me then, and I hardly grasped their import. Since then I have heard them on many occasions, and always do they bring forcibly to my mind's eye — sometimes it would seem to the very life — the sublime form of that wonderful being who spoke of Himself simply as "The Wayfarer."
These few notes are the result of further talks with "The Wayfarer" on the subject of the Garden Beautiful and the Fall of Mankind.
(A.) There was a time when the divine essence — the Soul — was enshrined in a very ethereal body, created quite sexless and containing neither internal organs nor blood, as we understand the terms. Each and all were especially suited to the conditions of the various worlds or planets on which they were to dwell, and for the work they were required to do. For God in His wisdom required that each group of created people, together with the world itself, and all living in it, should from the beginning and for all time be in a continuous state of evolution. Each in its own way must rise to a higher state. Some day I will tell you of the divine beings — created perfect male and female entities — who could take on separate bodies, and work individually and apart from each other, or could become one perfect whole, and carry on the divine Father's plan of creation. Perfect male and female beings, yet without sex as you understand it to-day. This may seem to you a mystery, yet indeed there is no mystery in the whole of creation, not even in the creation of the Godhead — the Trinity itself, or the first divine beings created outside the Trinity. The mystery is of man's own making, the confusion and limitations of his undeveloped or rather atrophied state of inner sense, — his seeing mind.
(B.) The time came when they could no longer find the golden way. It had become quite hidden from man's sight. For evil had encircled the whole earth-world with such a dense fog of etheric resistance that nothing but a greater power than evil could possibly penetrate it. This condition of black isolation remained and must remain until man himself, by his own free willingness to rise to higher things, shall himself remove it. Were it otherwise, he would communicate with and thus contaminate the people of God's other spheres or planets where evil is unknown. Thus we see where man has brought about his own punishment.
(C.) How can I tell, how shall you understand, to what extent man fell, back in the dim ages before your histories began? In the time when all things to you seem as it were a blank; and truly it is a tale to make angels weep. At times it would seem even God, the all-loving Father, must turn His eyes away. Man had indeed fallen and the earth planet had fallen with him. Now the earth world — that once lovely garden — that had been near to the Godhead, began to descend. That once perfect world with its beautiful ethereal, angel-like beings was wandering down, down into darkness. Everything was changed. The beautiful even climate had become ever more variable. There were sudden changes of temperature. Man began to experience long hours of darkness until the time came when night was as long as day. He who had been in tune with all Nature, now found himself unprepared for the sudden changes of heat and cold. Rain winds, and terrible storms terrified him to the point of death. The lightnings flashed forth and the thunders rolled and muttered in angry rumblings, then crashed in a deafening tumult in their very midst. The earth quaked, mountains split asunder and fell about them, crushing and burying them among the splintered rocks. The waters gathered and flooded the land and great seas covered much of what had before been dry land. And as the planet descended further in its wayward course, so the conditions changed, so also changed these earth dwellers. Grosser and heavier became their bodies, grosser, heavier and denser their minds and natures. The physical had well-nigh smothered the spiritual, and they were fast becoming more animal than human. Their coarsened, heavy, mortal sex-bodies became mixed and intermixed to such an alarming extent, that they were now rapidly approaching the nature of the brute-beasts, which they had by their artificial and bestial mode of life dragged down with them. And under these most horrible conditions they continued to reproduce their kind. Woman, that most beautiful part of mankind — had long since begun to experience the pain and agony of childbirth. Life had become brut a short span, and the earth-world had become a wearisome trial ground, the terribly hard school to which the tiny spark of divine life would come again and again, often to return but little or no better — it would seem — for its repeated visits to a world where it was always more or less strangled by its uncongenial surroundings. In some parts of this lost planet man had become well-nigh unrecognisable, and almost indistinguishable, from the misshapen and hair-covered beasts that the changed conditions had produced. In colour, form, and appearance he had seemed to take on the very nature of the beast he had hunted; killed, eaten, and associated with. Indeed, trace of this terrible state of depravity may still be found. I do but mention these things, my son, because it explains in part man's present-day idea of the evolution of Man from the animal kingdom; but he sees evolution from the wrong end — from its lowest form — seeing but its tardy birth struggles from its own suicidal death, beginning at the lowest depth of man's fall and understanding not the glorious height from which he had fallen. They dare even to question the wisdom of the Creator, even crediting him with bringing into being such ugliness misery, such pain, suffering and want. The inequalities to be found; for sudden death, wars, and other calamities which sweep away life; being too blind to see that Man has but himself to blame, directly and indirectly, for his fall from earthly paradise. But, my son, I am glad to turn away from even this tiny glimpse of such a saddening picture and again remind you that this your dark planet is gradually — very gradually — rising from its sunken position; slowly, but surely, moving up towards its rightful place and coming into a more rightful condition. And Man, though still groping in a darkness of his own making, is rising with it. But in this there is a great warning: very soon your planet will move upwards very rapidly into a condition that will make it mare and more difficult for man to live. Even now the signs are all around you. All kinds of things are happening that should open your eyes. The time has come when Man must put his house in order, or he must be swept away into another existence. For this planet, once again having reached its rightful position, will be peopled only by those who are able to rise with it and are made fit to join hands with those who have never fallen. Soon, very soon, shall fall away all the artificial encumbrances that have so long clung to this your beautiful earth-world, leaving only that which is of God. Soon shall be removed that wall of resistance that Evil has placed around it and once again the Golden Way will be opened to those who can breathe the pure ethereal air and look fearlessly into the celestial brightness of what was, is, and shall be THE GARDEN BEAUTIFUL.
(D.) Not even this, the terrible sin of the Jewish leaders, was, or is, beyond the forgiveness of "the Master of Love" whom they condemned to death; for God is not a God of love and mercy to one and a stern unrelenting judge to another — for all have sinned grievously. Nay, rather it is because they themselves, with their eyes open, and knowing full well the strength of such a curse, did wilfully curse the whole of their race, and this caused a state of blindness to settle down upon themselves and their followers; and by the unalterable law of the Universe such a curse must take its course. It immediately springs into life and must go forth and accomplish that to which it is sent, gathering up strength in its wake, charging and recharging the ethers with a tremendous force of evil, ever travelling in a circle and ever returning like a boomerang to the one who sent it forth. Thus they did in their blind rage shut themselves out of mercy, creating a mist of impenetrable darkness around themselves by wilfully shutting out the LIGHT that had come to them — "The Light of the World" — choosing for themselves and their children self-imposed blindness. Thus they stand self-condemned, and this must ever be so until at last they choose to exercise that same free will and turn of their own accord to the only source of Light that can shine through that wall of doubt, darkness and isolation. Once again we find a terrible example of the abusive use of free will, and once again it must be the exercising of free will that shall bring them Light, understanding and salvation. But what I wish you to see, my son, is that it was not so much the enormity of their sin in killing Him — who was truly the Son of God — for in this they were no worse than those of all the generations following. Even in your own day, your own people — even your "Christians" — are continually crucifying their Lord and Master. Nay, neither they — the Jews — nor even poor Judas, were beyond forgiveness, but they wilfully condemned themselves and their descendants to everlasting blindness, and their life, and very worship, has become a mockery. Their children are born in darkness and remain by choice in darkness, and Mammon is their God. They still raise temples to "their Jehovah," but cannot, do not, and will not recognise the God who came to them out of God Himself. "The Light" is shut out from among them and they have received with open arms "The God of this world" who hath blinded their eyes. Thus they remain to this day a cursed race — CURSED BY THEIR OWN CURSE — and this must be their state till they work out their own salvation.