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The Law of Spiritual Growth by W. T. Stead

One of her [Julia] communications, which came on the 18th June, 1893, was obviously addressed to me throughout.

Spirit Communication Not Harmful to the Spirits

I am over the border, but I am in constant communication with you on the earth-side. To me this has been the means of great blessing. I cannot conceive how anyone can consider that such communications can possibly retard growth. Growth depends upon love and service; and you limit the area of both when you put a wall of iron between the spheres. The conception of earth as a geographical place is very material. You think too much in matter. You cannot realize that to me and to all on this side you are spirit-fogged in a little body limited and conditioned by that fog. But the real self is spirit, not flesh-fog, and life is ministry and sacrifice and service and love. As, therefore, this means of communication enables me to minister to and serve those whom I loved, who are often sorely pressed and troubled, you can see how absurd is the doctrine that it is a hindrance to development.

The Lesson of the Incarnation

The question arises at once, Was Jesus wrong? Did His Incarnation impair or harm His Divine Nature. If not, then remember His own example. As He saved us, we also must save others, walking so far as we can in our Lord’s steps. You are able to bear witness to the fact whether or not for the eleven months during which I have communicated with you I have ever sought anything but your welfare, and the welfare of your friends. Would it have been good for you to have been without my friendship? I have been ever near to you, and have more than once been able to tell you of what was to come, to explain what seemed mysterious, and generally to help and encourage you in all your work. What is there in this to harm one I am surprised that anyone should be so matter-minded as to imagine the earth-sphere is a geographical and not a spiritual limitation. No one is on the earth-sphere who lives in the spirit of the Lord. The place is immaterial; the spirit is everything.

The Wail of the Bereaved

Now, there are millions of good souls here whose love for those whom they left on earth is vast and consuming.

There are mothers who have been taken away from their children; there are women who have lost their lovers and their husbands; there are numberless men who love and have lost their only joy in life when a gulf was made between them and those whom they loved. Oh, my dear friend, don’t talk such nonsense! What is the use of saying they ought to find all consolation in the love of God? How is God revealed to me? He is revealed to them only when they love; there is no God where there is no love. Do you think that we, on this side, because we live more visibly in the presence of God, and are more consciously in the light of the love of our Lord, therefore love less those whom we loved on earth? I tell you, nay. It is quite the opposite. We love them more and more and more continually as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.

The Barrier to be Broken Down

But how is it that we find ourselves thus cut off by a barrier from those whom we love? Partly, no doubt, by our own fault. But, also, largely by yours.

One Army of the Living God

You have had teaching as to the communion of saints; you say and sing all manner of things as to the saints above and below being one army of the Living God, but when any one of us on the other side tries to make any practical effort to enable you to realize the oneness, and to make you feel that you are encompassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, then there is an outcry. It is against the will of God! It is tampering with demons! It is conjuring up evil spirits!

Argumentum ad Hominem

Oh, my friend, my friend, be not deceived by these specious outcries! Am I a demon? Am I a familiar spirit? Am I doing what is contrary to the will of God when I constantly, constantly try to inspire you with more faith in Him, more love for Him and all His creatures, and, in short, try to bring you nearer and closer to God? You know I do all this. It is my joy and the law of my being.
I should go on doing, it even if you were to refuse to let me use your hand. I am more privileged than most, because I can consciously interpret my action to you. But I am only doing consciously to you what is being done to others who are more or less unconscious of the influence they are subject to.

A Blessing from on High

Take my darling Ellen, for instance. I never write to her now with your hand, because I can, and do, constantly communicate with her direct. I do not visualize myself before her eyes; but she knows I am with her constantly, and always most with her when she is most troubled. But if you had not happened to be at F— , as you would say, Ellen would only have had a vague semi- consciousness, hardly daring to call itself a hope, that I was with her.

Now she knows. And you can ask her whether the knowledge is not to her as a great blessing from on high.

The Ocean of Heavenly Love

Oh, my friend, my friend, you do not know the volume of refreshing water that will rush forth if you strike the rock, and save this people from perishing in the arid wilderness of unbelief. I am not now speaking about religion. I am speaking about love. There is love in this world like the water in the sea. Its waves are wailing and sobbing on the shore of human life; but you cannot bear, you do not understand. Why not try to flood your world with this heavenly love? Is it not worthwhile doing? If not, what is worth doing?

The Dangers of Communicating Across the Border

I want to say one word now about the danger of the communications about which you hear so much. I have not much to say. That there is love on this side is true.

The devil and his angels are no mere metaphysical abstractions. There are evil ones, false ones, frivolous ones on this side, as there are on yours. You can never enlarge the scope and range of existence without at the same time enlarging the area of possible temptation and probable loss and peril. But the whole question is one of balance. And what I want to ask you is this: Do you or anyone else in your world ever cut off your communications with your children when they have gone into the larger life of a city, because they may bring you into the vortex of a city’s temptations and the risk of evil and danger? You laugh at the suggestion. Why not laugh equally when those whom you love have passed on, not to New York, or Chicago, or London, but in the presence of God? I do not ask that you should open a door into your souls through which all who feel disposed on this side should enter in to possess it. You can, if you like, either on this side or that, enter into companionship with the good or the bad. And I dare say that it is as true, on this side as on yours, that there is a possibility of making acquaintances who may be difficult to shake off. But so it is in London. You do not shrink from coming up to London from the country because in London there are many thousands of thieves, drunkards, swindlers, and men of evil and vicious life.

The Risk: Nothing to Love

You say you came up to London to do your work, and that it was therefore necessary to run the risk. Yes, and so it is necessary to run the risks of communicating with the wider field of spiritual existence. You say why? Oh, my friend, why? Is it necessary to ask that question, if so, then you have never loved, or known the craving passion to help the loved ones? I rest the case on love. I will not argue it now upon what you believe and know, of the importance of realizing the segmentary nature of earth life.

I base it on the wide and universal want of the human heart not to have its consciousness of the presence and existence of the beloved suddenly severed by death – what you call death – which is really the entrance into life. It is necessary to risk the danger of evil spirits for the sake of keeping in conscious touch with the loved who have gone before.

Nothing Supernatural

And, believe me, the danger is monstrously exaggerated.

It springs entirely from the false and foolish notions which have prevailed. If only you grasp the idea of the continuity of existence; if only you remember that, though the conditions of existence are altered, the life itself remains the same, you will no more have to face so many evils as those which come from believing that, when we speak to you, you are confronted by a kind of spiritual earthquake – a rushing into your life of something altogether supernatural. There is no such thing as supernatural. All is natural, and our Lord is the Lord of all.
“The Law of Spiritual Growth” is an extract from After Death: Letters from Julia by W. T. Stead.


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“Life After Death – The Communicator” by Paul Beard – If the telephone rings, naturally the caller is expected to identify himself. In post-mortem communication, necessitating something far more complex than a telephone, it is not enough to seek the speakers identity. One needs to estimate also as far as is possible his present status and stature. This involves a number of factors, overlapping and hard to keep separate, each bringing its own kind of difficulty. Four such factors can readily be named. Read here
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