Naturalness of Spirit Life, by Sir David Brewster

The human mind is subject to false and specious reasoning, and time after time opinions which have been held and argued upon with seeming logical acumen, have, by further developments and discoveries, been proven fallacious. And yet of so elastic a nature is the mind of man that he is not crushed nor discouraged by his mistakes, but immediately commences to build new theories; but as he establishes them by specialties instead of generalities, he is again defeated.

The European mind has adopted a certain line of thought respecting the future state of existence, which it substantiates by narrow reasonings and isolated facts.

Of the future we can only judge by analogy of the past with the present.

Nature ever shadows forth her new developments upon the old.

The many periods or stages through which the earth has passed in reaching her present state of refinement, have been stamped one upon the other so that the Geologist can determine definitely what would be the result of a certain period from the characteristics of the foregoing.

Now it is educible: if the Creator of the race of men who inhabit the terrestrial globe had intended for them a future state or destination differing in every respect from their present one, he would have prepared their minds for different pursuits, and ordained them for other occupations than those they follow to the very grave.

Take man in his most natural condition examine those nations that are most ancient, and unmixed with other races and you will perceive that their ideas of a future state were in accordance with the life they were living on earth.

The Asiatic race in burying its dead prepares the favorite food of the deceased, the fragrant tea, and the money so useful on earth. Also slips of paper on which messages are written to departed friends are lighted at these burial ceremonies, and reduced to ashes, that the spirit of the text may be transmitted to their friends in the world of souls.

In these "Pagan rites," as they are termed, we discern the workings of an intuitive belief that the spirit of man still retains the sensations, attributes, and desires which have accompanied it through life.

The ancient Greeks and Romans held similar opinions, likewise the
Africans, Hindoos, and the Indians of North and South America.

By far the largest portion of mankind believe in a natural state hereafter, corresponding to their earth existence, but the European nations which are supposed to be advanced in science, art, and philosophical attainments beyond all the nations of the earth, have, in their speculations and in their efforts to penetrate the mysteries of the world of spirits, lost sight, of the natural and entered the supernatural, where they are surrounded by fogs, clouds, and ignes-fatui.

Now if these people are told that the spirit world is divided into states and continents, cities and towns, as is their own world (though under spirit appellations), they would scoff at the statement.

But as mankind has a natural love of locality, and as congenial minds will select similar locations, adapted to their ideas of beauty and comfort, the result is that spirit inhabitants unite and form cities and towns as on earth. Thus combining, they must have some points of interest to occupy their minds, and as they still possess their power of construction and ingenuity, their love of beautiful forms and of architecture, they prefer not to live in the open air and on the bare ground (as they can certainly do), but choose rather to employ their various faculties in building cities and habitations in accordance with their tastes and ideas of convenience.

Once grant that man is provided with a spiritual body after he emerges from his original one accept the hypothesis that this body must possess form and sensation, and with sensation, eyes, ears, mouth, taste, and motion then you must provide means for that body to exist. In providing these means you must place him upon a soil capable of producing vegetation, where his intelligence may compound the various articles adapted to his use.

Some individuals enter the spirit world deformed, some feeble in intellect, some incapable of constructing or arranging. All these must have provision made for them; their wants must be supplied. The effort to supply want or demand produces a system of exchange or barter.

Many of the inhabitants of the spirit world are both good and kind. They are spiritualized in their natures, and are influenced by a desire to assist those who are needy.

Nature, or God, has ordained that existence should depend upon effort; that a state of inactivity should produce dissolution; and much the same means are taken there to enforce activity as in the material world.

True, some men possess natural gifts, by which knowledge is acquired without labor. The power of seeing before the demonstration belongs to all humanity. It is the negative form of knowledge; but combined with that power is the positive, which compels man to desire a visible representation or demonstration of the knowledge he has received by intuition.

The astronomer thus, before he constructs his telescope, perceives intuitively the very stars which his telescope proves as existing, where none are visible to the eye.

It was this active-positive principle, that made him construct the instrument; and in the spirit world, as on earth, that active-positive principle acts in conjunction with the negative-intuitive one, in impelling him to exertion, and forcing him to acquire knowledge in every department of science, art, philosophy and religion. As well expect this earth to rest in her revolution and still retain her place in the solar system, as to suppose that the spirit of man can lose its activity and sink to rest eternal.

Man is not only active in constructing and exploring in the spirit world, but he is also engaged in inventions. Most of the discoveries that have lessened manual labor and made gross matter subservient to man's use originated in the land of spirits. The inventor finds full field for his talents in the superior state.

Man naturally delights in knowledge, and the individual who knows how to construct a steam locomotive finds a thrill of satisfaction in the possession of that ability. So does he who can arrange and construct any piece of mechanism, any domestic tool. That feeling of gratification at the accomplishment of his plans accompanies man to the spirit life.

All persons do not follow the same pursuits in which they were engaged on earth, yet they adopt a kindred and congenial employment. The clergyman thinks his work done when he leaves the earth; but in the next state, also, he will find beings who need to have their spiritual and moral natures instructed men who desire to be led?who cannot think for themselves, but lean upon the thoughts and inferences of others.

So with almost every pursuit there is opportunity to exercise it in the world of spirits. The painter finds nobler themes for his pencil, more angelic faces for his canvas; and the desire to reproduce them as they appear is as intense there as it is here. Although a spirit can impress his form in color and raiment upon the sensitive plate in the spirit world, and the image remains fixed and permanent (for the photographic art is essentially spiritual in its origin), that result though definite, is as unsatisfactory to some minds in the spirit world as it is in the natural. And thus, while persons differ in their desires and perceptions, there will be the same varied modes of expressing thought in the superior life as in this.

The question is often asked, "Why should immortals walk, when they can move with greater velocity than light?"

In return I would inquire, "Why, when men can travel by the steam-engine, do they prefer the slow movements of the horse?"

Again, it is asked, "Why, if spirits can converse by thought-languagen if they can express with their eyes, or impress magnetically their wishes, or the words they desire to utter why should they employ their vocal organs?"

But I rejoin that the deaf and dumb on earth converse by signs with great celerity, yet would gladly express their thoughts with voice also.

Many trancendentalists and idealists fancy that the inhabitants of the spirit world do not converse audibly; yet they would be greatly shocked if told that in that world there reigned one vast silence; that sound was unknown; and yet such a condition would exist, if their mode of reasoning were correct.

No unbiased person would suppose for a moment, that song was unheard in this land of the immortals; that the voices of the spirit maidens never burst forth into melody; and that they could not give utterance to their feelings and sentiments, in the warbling notes of music!

Spirits can read each other's thoughts, although possessing a universal spoken language, and also retaining in many sections the native dialect they used on earth.

Though the spirit world is a world of marvels and miracles, and things unutterable, which the tongue cannot express, yet it is a world similar to the natural one; a glorified body of the old earth.

The soul visiting that new country will not feel itself an utter stranger on its shore, but will find that it can assimilate with the thoughts and feelings of the residents of that land, and the knowledge and experience which it developed on earth will be useful to it there.

If the teachers on your planet, and those who instruct concerning the condition of the soul after death, would employ the same reason and intelligence that they exercise in investigating any other obscure subjects either chemistry, astronomy, or natural philosophy, they would arrive at more truthful data respecting the spirit globe which ultimately they are all destined to inhabit.