I was pondering the words, “they overcame him [the Devil] by their word of testimony”, (Revelation 12:11) and a couple of snatches from more recent utterances came back to me. “When you stand up to give my word, it will be firsthand experience from start to finish, that you will give no second-hand experience, no second-hand theology. You will tell nothing but that which you have proved from me yourselves.” (1968) And “Have you an answer to give when I call for you, and when you stand before me? It must be your own answer, but it must flow from the divine mind.” (1976)
Three writers with pioneering minds have been a great help to me over the years, George MacDonald (1824 – 1905), Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936), and C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963). And a tongue-in-cheek poem by Kipling came to mind which highlighted the above words. I’d like to share the first part of this poem today. It was written in April 1891, and published in January 1892..
Now Tomlinson gave up the ghost in his house in Berkeley Square,
And a Spirit came to his bedside and gripped him by the hair –
A Spirit gripped him by the hair and carried him far away,
Till he heard as the roar of a rain-fed ford the roar of the Milky Way:
Till he heard the roar of the Milky Way die down and drone and cease,
And they came to the Gate within the Wall where Peter holds the keys.
“Stand up, stand up now, Tomlinson, and answer loud and high
The good that ye did for the sake of men or ever ye came to die –
The good that ye did for the sake of men in little earth so lone!”
And the naked soul of Tomlinson grew white as a rain-washed bone.
“O I have a friend on earth,” he said, “that was my priest and guide,
And well would he answer all for me if he were by my side.”
“For that ye strove in neighbour-love it shall be written fair,
But now ye wait at Heaven’s Gate and not in Berkeley Square:
Though we called your friend from his bed this night, he could not speak for you,
For the race is run by one and one and never by two and two.”
Then Tomlinson looked up and down, and little gain was there,
For the naked stars grinned overhead, and he saw that his soul was bare:
The Wind that blows between the worlds, it cut him like a knife,
And Tomlinson took up his tale and spoke of his good in life.
“This I have read in a book,” he said, “and that was told to me,
And this I have thought that another man thought of a Prince in Muscovy.”
The good souls flocked like homing doves and bade him clear the path,
And Peter twirled the jangling keys in weariness and wrath.
“Ye have read, ye have heard, ye have thought,” he said, “and the tale is yet to run:
By the worth of the body that once ye had, give answer – what ha’ ye done?”
Then Tomlinson looked back and forth, and little good it bore,
For the Darkness stayed at his shoulder-blade and Heaven’s Gate before:
“O this I have felt, and this I have guessed, and this I have heard men say,
And this they wrote that another man wrote of a carl in Norroway.”
– “Ye have read, ye have felt, ye have guessed, good lack! Ye have hampered Heaven’s Gate;
There’s little room between the stars in idleness to prate!
O none may reach by hired speech of neighbour, priest, and kin
Through borrowed deed to God’s good meed that lies so fair within;
Get hence, get hence to the Lord of Wrong, for doom has yet to run,
And…the faith that ye share with Berkeley Square uphold you, Tomlinson!”
Amusing? Yes, of course. But with amazing irony Kipling describes the dangers of the “shared mind”. “Love the many, Trust but
few, but ALWAYS paddle your own canoe.”
The second half of Kipling’s poem may be read by using the following link. http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_tomlinson.htm