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Title: Esoteric Christianity, or The Lesser Mysteries
Author: Besant, Annie Wood, 1847-1933
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note: The many inconsistently spelt words in this book
(e.g. Samskrit/Sanskrit) have been retained as in the original.


ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY
OR
THE LESSER MYSTERIES.



BY
ANNIE BESANT.



[SECOND EDITION]



The Theosophical Publishing Society.
LONDON AND BENARES.
1905.



     In proceeding to the contemplation of the mysteries of knowledge,
     we shall adhere to the celebrated and venerable rule of tradition,
     commencing from the origin of the universe, setting forth those
     points of physical contemplation which are necessary to be
     premised, and removing whatever can be an obstacle on the way; so
     that the ear may be prepared for the reception of the tradition of
     the Gnosis, the ground being cleared of weeds and fitted for the
     planting of the vineyard; for there is a conflict before the
     conflict, and mysteries before the mysteries.--_S. Clement of
     Alexandria._

     Let the specimen suffice to those who have ears. For it is not
     required to unfold the mystery, but only to indicate what is
     sufficient.--_Ibid._

     He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.--_S. Matthew._



FOREWORD.


The object of this book is to suggest certain lines of thought as to
the deep truths underlying Christianity, truths generally overlooked,
and only too often denied. The generous wish to share with all what is
precious, to spread broadcast priceless truths, to shut out none from
the illumination of true knowledge, has resulted in a zeal without
discretion that has vulgarised Christianity, and has presented its
teachings in a form that often repels the heart and alienates the
intellect. The command to "preach the Gospel to every
creature"[1]--though admittedly of doubtful authenticity--has been
interpreted as forbidding the teaching of the Gnosis to a few, and has
apparently erased the less popular saying of the same Great Teacher:
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your
pearls before swine."[2]

This spurious sentimentality--which refuses to recognise the obvious
inequalities of intelligence and morality, and thereby reduces the
teaching of the highly developed to the level attainable by the least
evolved, sacrificing the higher to the lower in a way that injures
both--had no place in the virile common sense of the early Christians.
S. Clement of Alexandria says quite bluntly, after alluding to the
Mysteries: "Even now I fear, as it is said, 'to cast the pearls before
swine, lest they tread them underfoot, and turn and rend us.' For it is
difficult to exhibit the really pure and transparent words respecting
the true Light to swinish and untrained hearers."[3]

If true knowledge, the Gnosis, is again to form a part of Christian
teachings, it can only be under the old restrictions, and the idea of
levelling down to the capacities of the least developed must be
definitely surrendered. Only by teaching above the grasp of the little
evolved can the way be opened up for a restoration of arcane knowledge,
and the study of the Lesser Mysteries must precede that of the Greater.
The Greater will never be published through the printing-press; they can
only be given by Teacher to pupil, "from mouth to ear." But the Lesser
Mysteries, the partial unveiling of deep truths, can even now be
restored, and such a volume as the present is intended to outline these,
and to show the _nature_ of the teachings which have to be mastered.
Where only hints are given, quiet meditation on the truths hinted at
will cause their outlines to become visible, and the clearer light
obtained by continued meditation will gradually show them more fully.
For meditation quiets the lower mind, ever engaged in thinking about
external objects, and when the lower mind is tranquil then only can it
be illuminated by the Spirit. Knowledge of spiritual truths must be thus
obtained, from within and not from without, from the divine Spirit whose
temple we are[4] and not from an external Teacher. These things are
"spiritually discerned" by that divine indwelling Spirit, that "mind of
Christ," whereof speaks the Great Apostle,[5] and that inner light is
shed upon the lower mind.

This is the way of the Divine Wisdom, the true THEOSOPHY. It is not, as
some think, a diluted version of Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Taoism, or of
any special religion. It is Esoteric Christianity as truly as it is
Esoteric Buddhism, and belongs equally to all religions, exclusively to
none. This is the source of the suggestions made in this little volume,
for the helping of those who seek the Light--that "true Light which
lighteth every man that cometh into the world,"[6] though most have not
yet opened their eyes to it. It does not bring the Light. It only says:
"Behold the Light!" For thus have we heard. It appeals only to the few
who hunger for more than the exoteric teachings give them. For those who
are fully satisfied with the exoteric teachings, it is not intended; for
why should bread be forced on those who are not hungry? For those who
hunger, may it prove bread, and not a stone.



CONTENTS.


                                              PAGE
FOREWORD                                      vii.

CHAPTER I.
  THE HIDDEN SIDE OF RELIGIONS                  1

CHAPTER II.
  THE HIDDEN SIDE OF CHRISTIANITY              36

CHAPTER III.
  THE HIDDEN SIDE OF CHRISTIANITY              69
    (_concluded_)

CHAPTER IV.
  THE HISTORICAL JESUS                        120

CHAPTER V.
  THE MYTHIC CHRIST                           145

CHAPTER VI.
  THE MYSTIC CHRIST                           170

CHAPTER VII.
  THE ATONEMENT                               193

CHAPTER VIII.
  RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION                  231

CHAPTER IX.
  THE TRINITY                                 253

CHAPTER X.
  PRAYER                                      276

CHAPTER XI.
  THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS                     301

CHAPTER XII.
  SACRAMENTS                                  324

CHAPTER XIII.
  SACRAMENTS (_continued_)                    346

CHAPTER XIV.
  REVELATION                                  369

AFTERWORD                                     386

INDEX                                         388



ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY.



CHAPTER I.

THE HIDDEN SIDE OF RELIGIONS.


Many, perhaps most, who see the title of this book will at once traverse
it, and will deny that there is anything valuable which can be rightly
described as "Esoteric Christianity." There is a wide-spread, and withal
a popular, idea that there is no such thing as an occult teaching in
connection with Christianity, and that "The Mysteries," whether Lesser
or Greater, were a purely Pagan institution. The very name of "The
Mysteries of Jesus," so familiar in the ears of the Christians of the
first centuries, would come with a shock of surprise on those of their
modern successors, and, if spoken as denoting a special and definite
institution in the Early Church, would cause a smile of incredulity. It
has actually been made a matter of boast that Christianity has no
secrets, that whatever it has to say it says to all, and whatever it has
to teach it teaches to all. Its truths are supposed to be so simple,
that "a way-faring man, though a fool, may not err therein," and the
"simple Gospel" has become a stock phrase.

It is necessary, therefore, to prove clearly that in the Early Church,
at least, Christianity was no whit behind other great religions in
possessing a hidden side, and that it guarded, as a priceless treasure,
the secrets revealed only to a select few in its Mysteries. But ere
doing this it will be well to consider the whole question of this hidden
side of religions, and to see why such a side must exist if a religion
is to be strong and stable; for thus its existence in Christianity will
appear as a foregone conclusion, and the references to it in the
writings of the Christian Fathers will appear simple and natural instead
of surprising and unintelligible. As a historical fact, the existence
of this esotericism is demonstrable; but it may also be shown that
intellectually it is a necessity.

The first question we have to answer is: What is the object of
religions? They are given to the world by men wiser than the masses of
the people on whom they are bestowed, and are intended to quicken human
evolution. In order to do this effectively they must reach individuals
and influence them. Now all men are not at the same level of evolution,
but evolution might be figured as a rising gradient, with men stationed
on it at every point. The most highly evolved are far above the least
evolved, both in intelligence and character; the capacity alike to
understand and to act varies at every stage. It is, therefore, useless
to give to all the same religious teaching; that which would help the
intellectual man would be entirely unintelligible to the stupid, while
that which would throw the saint into ecstasy would leave the criminal
untouched. If, on the other hand, the teaching be suitable to help the
unintelligent, it is intolerably crude and jejune to the philosopher,
while that which redeems the criminal is utterly useless to the saint.
Yet all the types need religion, so that each may reach upward to a life
higher than that which he is leading, and no type or grade should be
sacrificed to any other. Religion must be as graduated as evolution,
else it fails in its object.

Next comes the question: In what way do religions seek to quicken human
evolution? Religions seek to evolve the moral and intellectual natures,
and to aid the spiritual nature to unfold itself. Regarding man as a
complex being, they seek to meet him at every point of his constitution,
and therefore to bring messages suitable for each, teachings adequate to
the most diverse human needs. Teachings must therefore be adapted to
each mind and heart to which they are addressed. If a religion does not
reach and master the intelligence, if it does not purify and inspire the
emotions, it has failed in its object, so far as the person addressed is
concerned.

Not only does it thus direct itself to the intelligence and the
emotions, but it seeks, as said, to stimulate the unfoldment of the
spiritual nature. It answers to that inner impulse which exists in
humanity, and which is ever pushing the race onwards. For deeply within
the heart of all--often overlaid by transitory conditions, often
submerged under pressing interests and anxieties--there exists a
continual seeking after God. "As the hart panteth after the
water-brooks, so panteth"[7] humanity after God. The search is sometimes
checked for a space, and the yearning seems to disappear. Phases recur
in civilisation and in thought, wherein this cry of the human Spirit for
the divine--seeking its source as water seeks its level, to borrow a
simile from Giordano Bruno--this yearning of the human Spirit for that
which is akin to it in the universe, of the part for the whole, seems to
be stilled, to have vanished; none the less does that yearning reappear,
and once more the same cry rings out from the Spirit. Trampled on for a
time, apparently destroyed, though the tendency may be, it rises again
and again with inextinguishable persistence, it repeats itself again
and again, no matter how often it is silenced; and it thus proves itself
to be an inherent tendency in human nature, an ineradicable constituent
thereof. Those who declare triumphantly, "Lo! it is dead!" find it
facing them again with undiminished vitality. Those who build without
allowing for it find their well-constructed edifices riven as by an
earthquake. Those who hold it to be outgrown find the wildest
superstitions succeed its denial. So much is it an integral part of
humanity, that man _will_ have some answer to his questionings; rather
an answer that is false, than none. If he cannot find religious truth,
he will take religious error rather than no religion, and will accept
the crudest and most incongruous ideals rather than admit that the ideal
is non-existent.

Religion, then, meets this craving, and taking hold of the constituent
in human nature that gives rise to it, trains it, strengthens it,
purifies it and guides it towards its proper ending--the union of the
human Spirit with the divine, so "that God may be all in all."[8]


The next question which meets us in our enquiry is: What is the source
of religions? To this question two answers have been given in modern
times--that of the Comparative Mythologists and that of the Comparative
Religionists. Both base their answers on a common basis of admitted
facts. Research has indisputably proved that the religions of the world
are markedly similar in their main teachings, in their possession of
Founders who display superhuman powers and extraordinary moral
elevation, in their ethical precepts, in their use of means to come into
touch with invisible worlds, and in the symbols by which they express
their leading beliefs. This similarity, amounting in many cases to
identity, proves--according to both the above schools--a common origin.

But on the nature of this common origin the two schools are at issue.
The Comparative Mythologists contend that the common origin is the
common ignorance, and that the loftiest religious doctrines are simply
refined expressions of the crude and barbarous guesses of savages, of
primitive men, regarding themselves and their surroundings. Animism,
fetishism, nature-worship, sun-worship--these are the constituents of
the primeval mud out of which has grown the splendid lily of religion. A
Krishna, a Buddha, a Lao-tze, a Jesus, are the highly civilised
but lineal descendants of the whirling medicine-man of the savage. God
is a composite photograph of the innumerable Gods who are the
personifications of the forces of nature. And so forth. It is all summed
up in the phrase: Religions are branches from a common trunk--human
ignorance.

The Comparative Religionists consider, on the other hand, that all
religions originate from the teachings of Divine Men, who give out to
the different nations of the world, from time to time, such parts of the
fundamental verities of religion as the people are capable of receiving,
teaching ever the same morality, inculcating the use of similar means,
employing the same significant symbols. The savage religions--animism
and the rest--are degenerations, the results of decadence, distorted and
dwarfed descendants of true religious beliefs. Sun-worship and pure
forms of nature-worship were, in their day, noble religions, highly
allegorical but full of profound truth and knowledge. The great
Teachers--it is alleged by Hindus, Buddhists, and by some Comparative
Religionists, such as Theosophists--form an enduring Brotherhood of men
who have risen beyond humanity, who appear at certain periods to
enlighten the world, and who are the spiritual guardians of the human
race. This view may be summed up in the phrase: "Religions are branches
from a common trunk--Divine Wisdom."

This Divine Wisdom is spoken of as the Wisdom, the Gnosis, the
Theosophia, and some, in different ages of the world, have so desired to
emphasise their belief in this unity of religions, that they have
preferred the eclectic name of Theosophist to any narrower designation.

The relative value of the contentions of these two opposed schools must
be judged by the cogency of the evidence put forth by each. The
appearance of a degenerate form of a noble idea may closely resemble
that of a refined product of a coarse idea, and the only method of
deciding between degeneration and evolution would be the examination, if
possible, of intermediate and remote ancestors. The evidence brought
forward by believers in the Wisdom is of this kind. They allege: that
the Founders of religions, judged by the records of their teachings,
were far above the level of average humanity; that the Scriptures of
religions contain moral precepts, sublime ideals, poetical aspirations,
profound philosophical statements, which are not even approached in
beauty and elevation by later writings in the same religions--that is,
that the old is higher than the new, instead of the new being higher
than the old; that no case can be shown of the refining and improving
process alleged to be the source of current religions, whereas many
cases of degeneracy from pure teachings can be adduced; that even among
savages, if their religions be carefully studied, many traces of lofty
ideas can be found, ideas which are obviously above the productive
capacity of the savages themselves.

This last idea has been worked out by Mr. Andrew Lang, who--judging by
his book on _The Making of Religion_--should be classed as a Comparative
Religionist rather than as a Comparative Mythologist. He points to the
existence of a common tradition, which, he alleges, cannot have been
evolved by the savages for themselves, being men whose ordinary beliefs
are of the crudest kind and whose minds are little developed. He shows,
under crude beliefs and degraded views, lofty traditions of a sublime
character, touching the nature of the Divine Being and His relations
with men. The deities who are worshipped are, for the most part, the
veriest devils, but behind, beyond all these, there is a dim but
glorious over-arching Presence, seldom or never named, but whispered of
as source of all, as power and love and goodness, too tender to awaken
terror, too good to require supplication. Such ideas manifestly cannot
have been conceived by the savages among whom they are found, and they
remain as eloquent witnesses of the revelations made by some great
Teacher--dim tradition of whom is generally also discoverable--who was
a Son of the Wisdom, and imparted some of its teachings in a long
bye-gone age.

The reason, and, indeed, the justification, of the view taken by the
Comparative Mythologists is patent. They found in every direction low
forms of religious belief, existing among savage tribes. These were seen
to accompany general lack of civilisation. Regarding civilised men as
evolving from uncivilised, what more natural than to regard civilised
religion as evolving from uncivilised? It is the first obvious idea.
Only later and deeper study can show that the savages of to-day are not
our ancestral types, but are the degenerated offsprings of great
civilised stocks of the past, and that man in his infancy was not left
to grow up untrained, but was nursed and educated by his elders, from
whom he received his first guidance alike in religion and civilisation.
This view is being substantiated by such facts as those dwelt on by
Lang, and will presently raise the question, "Who were these elders, of
whom traditions are everywhere found?"

Still pursuing our enquiry, we come next to the question: To what people
were religions given? And here we come at once to the difficulty with
which every Founder of a religion must deal, that already spoken of as
bearing on the primary object of religion itself, the quickening of
human evolution, with its corollary that all grades of evolving humanity
must be considered by Him. Men are at every stage of evolution, from the
most barbarous to the most developed; men are found of lofty
intelligence, but also of the most unevolved mentality; in one place
there is a highly developed and complex civilisation, in another a crude
and simple polity. Even within any given civilisation we find the most
varied types--the most ignorant and the most educated, the most
thoughtful and the most careless, the most spiritual and the most
brutal; yet each one of these types must be reached, and each must be
helped in the place where he is. If evolution be true, this difficulty
is inevitable, and must be faced and overcome by the divine Teacher,
else will His work be a failure. If man is evolving as all around him
is evolving, these differences of development, these varied grades of
intelligence, must be a characteristic of humanity everywhere, and must
be provided for in each of the religions of the world.

We are thus brought face to face with the position that we cannot have
one and the same religious teaching even for a single nation, still less
for a single civilisation, or for the whole world. If there be but one
teaching, a large number of those to whom it is addressed will entirely
escape its influence. If it be made suitable for those whose
intelligence is limited, whose morality is elementary, whose perceptions
are obtuse, so that it may help and train them, and thus enable them to
evolve, it will be a religion utterly unsuitable for those men, living
in the same nation, forming part of the same civilisation, who have keen
and delicate moral perceptions, bright and subtle intelligence, and
evolving spirituality. But if, on the other hand, this latter class is
to be helped, if intelligence is to be given a philosophy that it can
regard as admirable, if delicate moral perceptions are to be still
further refined, if the dawning spiritual nature is to be enabled to
develope into the perfect day, then the religion will be so spiritual,
so intellectual, and so moral, that when it is preached to the former
class it will not touch their minds or their hearts, it will be to them
a string of meaningless phrases, incapable of arousing their latent
intelligence, or of giving them any motive for conduct which will help
them to grow into a purer morality.

Looking, then, at these facts concerning religion, considering its
object, its means, its origin, the nature and varying needs of the
people to whom it is addressed, recognising the evolution of spiritual,
intellectual, and moral faculties in man, and the need of each man for
such training as is suitable for the stage of evolution at which he has
arrived, we are led to the absolute necessity of a varied and graduated
religious teaching, such as will meet these different needs and help
each man in his own place.

There is yet another reason why esoteric teaching is desirable with
respect to a certain class of truths. It is eminently the fact in
regard to this class that "knowledge is power." The public promulgation
of a philosophy profoundly intellectual, sufficient to train an already
highly developed intellect, and to draw the allegiance of a lofty mind,
cannot injure any. It can be preached without hesitation, for it does
not attract the ignorant, who turn away from it as dry, stiff, and
uninteresting. But there are teachings which deal with the constitution
of nature, explain recondite laws, and throw light on hidden processes,
the knowledge of which gives control over natural energies, and enables
its possessor to direct these energies to certain ends, as a chemist
deals with the production of chemical compounds. Such knowledge may be
very useful to highly developed men, and may much increase their power
of serving the race. But if this knowledge were published to the world,
it might and would be misused, just as the knowledge of subtle poisons
was misused in the Middle Ages by the Borgias and by others. It would
pass into the hands of people of strong intellect, but of unregulated
desires, men moved by separative instincts, seeking the gain of their
separate selves and careless of the common good. They would be attracted
by the idea of gaining powers which would raise them above the general
level, and place ordinary humanity at their mercy, and would rush to
acquire the knowledge which exalts its possessors to a superhuman rank.
They would, by its possession, become yet more selfish and confirmed in
their separateness, their pride would be nourished and their sense of
aloofness intensified, and thus they would inevitably be driven along
the road which leads to diabolism, the Left Hand Path, whose goal is
isolation and not union. And they would not only themselves suffer in
their inner nature, but they would also become a menace to Society,
already suffering sufficiently at the hands of men whose intellect is
more evolved than their conscience. Hence arises the necessity of
withholding certain teachings from those who, morally, are as yet
unfitted to receive them; and this necessity presses on every Teacher
who is able to impart such knowledge. He desires to give it to those
who will use the powers it confers for the general good, for quickening
human evolution; but he equally desires to be no party to giving it to
those who would use it for their own aggrandisement at the cost of
others.

Nor is this a matter of theory only, according to the Occult Records,
which give the details of the events alluded to in Genesis vi. _et seq._
This knowledge was, in those ancient times and on the continent of
Atlantis, given without any rigid conditions as to the moral elevation,
purity, and unselfishness of the candidates. Those who were
intellectually qualified were taught, just as men are taught ordinary
science in modern days. The publicity now so imperiously demanded was
then given, with the result that men became giants in knowledge but also
giants in evil, till the earth groaned under her oppressors and the cry
of a trampled humanity rang through the worlds. Then came the
destruction of Atlantis, the whelming of that vast continent beneath the
waters of the ocean, some particulars of which are given in the Hebrew
Scriptures in the story of the Noachian deluge, and in the Hindu
Scriptures of the further East in the story of Vaivasvata Manu.

Since that experience of the danger of allowing unpurified hands to
grasp the knowledge which is power, the great Teachers have imposed
rigid conditions as regards purity, unselfishness, and self-control on
all candidates for such instruction. They distinctly refuse to impart
knowledge of this kind to any who will not consent to a rigid
discipline, intended to eliminate separateness of feeling and interest.
They measure the moral strength of the candidate even more than his
intellectual development, for the teaching itself will develope the
intellect while it puts a strain on the moral nature. Far better that
the Great Ones should be assailed by the ignorant for Their supposed
selfishness in withholding knowledge, than that They should precipitate
the world into another Atlantean catastrophe.

So much of theory we lay down as bearing on the necessity of a hidden
side in all religions. When from theory we turn to facts, we naturally
ask: Has this hidden side existed in the past, forming a part of the
religions of the world? The answer must be an immediate and unhesitating
affirmative; every great religion has claimed to possess a hidden
teaching, and has declared that it is the repository of theoretical
mystic, and further of practical mystic, or occult, knowledge. The
mystic explanation of popular teaching was public, and expounded the
latter as an allegory, giving to crude and irrational statements and
stories a meaning which the intellect could accept. Behind this
theoretical mysticism, as it was behind the popular, there existed
further the practical mysticism, a hidden spiritual teaching, which was
only imparted under definite conditions, conditions known and published,
that must be fulfilled by every candidate. S. Clement of Alexandria
mentions this division of the Mysteries. After purification, he says,
"are the Minor Mysteries, which have some foundation of instruction and
of preliminary preparation for what is to come after; and the Great
Mysteries, in which nothing remains to be learned of the universe, but
only to contemplate and comprehend nature and things."[9]

This position cannot be controverted as regards the ancient religions.
The Mysteries of Egypt were the glory of that ancient land, and the
noblest sons of Greece, such as Plato, went to Saïs and to Thebes to be
initiated by Egyptian Teachers of Wisdom. The Mithraic Mysteries of the
Persians, the Orphic and Bacchic Mysteries and the later Eleusinian
semi-Mysteries of the Greeks, the Mysteries of Samothrace, Scythia,
Chaldea, are familiar in name, at least, as household words. Even in the
extremely diluted form of the Eleusinian Mysteries, their value is most
highly praised by the most eminent men of Greece, as Pindar, Sophocles,
Isocrates, Plutarch, and Plato. Especially were they regarded as useful
with regard to _post-mortem_ existence, as the Initiated learned that
which ensured his future happiness. Sopater further alleged that
Initiation established a kinship of the soul with the divine Nature, and
in the exoteric Hymn to Demeter covert references are made to the holy
child, Iacchus, and to his death and resurrection, as dealt with in the
Mysteries.[10]

From Iamblichus, the great theurgist of the third and fourth centuries
A.D., much may be learned as to the object of the Mysteries. Theurgy was
magic, "the last part of the sacerdotal science,"[11] and was practised
in the Greater Mysteries, to evoke the appearance of superior Beings.
The theory on which these Mysteries were based may be very briefly thus
stated: There is ONE, prior to all beings, immovable, abiding in the
solitude of His own unity. From THAT arises the Supreme God, the
Self-begotten, the Good, the Source of all things, the Root, the God of
Gods, the First Cause, unfolding Himself into Light.[12] From Him
springs the Intelligible World, or ideal universe, the Universal Mind,
the _Nous_ and the incorporeal or intelligible Gods belong to this.
From this the World-Soul, to which belong the "divine intellectual forms
which are present with the visible bodies of the Gods."[13] Then come
various hierarchies of superhuman beings, Archangels, Archons (Rulers)
or Cosmocratores, Angels, Daimons, &c. Man is a being of a lower order,
allied to these in his nature, and is capable of knowing them; this
knowledge was achieved in the Mysteries, and it led to union with
God.[14] In the Mysteries these doctrines are expounded, "the
progression from, and the regression of all things to, the One, and the
entire domination of the One,"[15] and, further, these different Beings
were evoked, and appeared, sometimes to teach, sometimes, by Their mere
presence, to elevate and purify. "The Gods," says Iamblichus, "being
benevolent and propitious, impart their light to theurgists in unenvying
abundance, calling upwards their souls to themselves, procuring them a
union with themselves, and accustoming them, while they are yet in body,
to be separated from bodies, and to be led round to their eternal and
intelligible principle."[16] For "the soul having a twofold life, one
being in conjunction with body, but the other being separate from all
body,"[17] it is most necessary to learn to separate it from the body,
that thus it may unite itself with the Gods by its intellectual and
divine part, and learn the genuine principles of knowledge, and the
truths of the intelligible world.[18] "The presence of the Gods, indeed,
imparts to us health of body, virtue of soul, purity of intellect, and,
in one word, elevates everything in us to its proper nature. It exhibits
that which is not body as body to the eyes of the soul, through those of
the body."[19] When the Gods appear, the soul receives "a liberation
from the passions, a transcendent perfection, and an energy entirely
more excellent, and participates of divine love and an immense joy."[20]
By this we gain a divine life, and are rendered in reality divine.[21]

The culminating point of the Mysteries was when the Initiate became a
God, whether by union with a divine Being outside himself, or by the
realisation of the divine Self within him. This was termed ecstasy, and
was a state of what the Indian Yogî would term high Samâdhi, the gross
body being entranced and the freed soul effecting its own union with the
Great One. This "ecstasy is not a faculty properly so called, it is a
state of the soul, which transforms it in such a way that it then
perceives what was previously hidden from it. The state will not be
permanent until our union with God is irrevocable; here, in earth life,
ecstasy is but a flash.... Man can cease to become man, and become God;
but man cannot be God and man at the same time."[22] Plotinus states
that he had reached this state "but three times as yet."

So also Proclus taught that the one salvation of the soul was to return
to her intellectual form, and thus escape from the "circle of
generation, from abundant wanderings," and reach true Being, "to the
uniform and simple energy of the period of sameness, instead of the
abundantly wandering motion of the period which is characterised by
difference." This is the life sought by those initiated by Orpheus into
the Mysteries of Bacchus and Proserpine, and this is the result of the
practice of the purificatory, or cathartic, virtues.[23]

These virtues were necessary for the Greater Mysteries, as they
concerned the purifying of the subtle body, in which the soul worked
when out of the gross body. The political or practical virtues belonged
to man's ordinary life, and were required to some extent before he could
be a candidate even for such a School as is described below. Then came
the cathartic virtues, by which the subtle body, that of the emotions
and lower mind, was purified; thirdly the intellectual, belonging to the
Augöeides, or the light-form of the intellect; fourthly the
contemplative, or paradigmatic, by which union with God was realised.
Porphyry writes: "He who energises according to the practical virtues is
a worthy man; but he who energises according to the purifying virtues is
an angelic man, or is also a good daimon. He who energises according to
the intellectual virtues alone is a God; but he who energises according
to the paradigmatic virtues is the Father of the Gods."[24]

Much instruction was also given in the Mysteries by the archangelic and
other hierarchies, and Pythagoras, the great teacher who was initiated
in India, and who gave "the knowledge of things that are" to his pledged
disciples, is said to have possessed such a knowledge of music that he
could use it for the controlling of men's wildest passions, and the
illuminating of their minds. Of this, instances are given by Iamblichus
in his _Life of Pythagoras_. It seems probable that the title of
Theodidaktos, given to Ammonius Saccas, the master of Plotinus, referred
less to the sublimity of his teachings than to this divine instruction
received by him in the Mysteries.

Some of the symbols used are explained by Iamblichus,[25] who bids
Porphyry remove from his thought the image of the thing symbolised and
reach its intellectual meaning. Thus "mire" meant everything that was
bodily and material; the "God sitting above the lotus" signified that
God transcended both the mire and the intellect, symbolised by the
lotus, and was established in Himself, being seated. If "sailing in a
ship," His rule over the world was pictured. And so on.[26] On this use
of symbols Proclus remarks that "the Orphic method aimed at revealing
divine things by means of symbols, a method common to all writers of
divine lore."[27]

The Pythagorean School in Magna Græcia was closed at the end of the
sixth century B.C., owing to the persecution of the civil power, but
other communities existed, keeping up the sacred tradition.[28] Mead
states that Plato intellectualised it, in order to protect it from an
increasing profanation, and the Eleusinian rites preserved some of its
forms, having lost its substance. The Neo-Platonists inherited from
Pythagoras and Plato, and their works should be studied by those who
would realise something of the grandeur and the beauty preserved for
the world in the Mysteries.

The Pythagorean School itself may serve as a type of the discipline
enforced. On this Mead gives many interesting details,[29] and remarks:
"The authors of antiquity are agreed that this discipline had succeeded
in producing the highest examples, not only of the purest chastity and
sentiment, but also a simplicity of manners, a delicacy, and a taste for
serious pursuits which was unparalleled. This is admitted even by
Christian writers." The School had outer disciples, leading the family
and social life, and the above quotation refers to these. In the inner
School were three degrees--the first of Hearers, who studied for two
years in silence, doing their best to master the teachings; the second
degree was of Mathematici, wherein were taught geometry and music, the
nature of number, form, colour, and sound; the third degree was of
Physici, who mastered cosmogony and metaphysics. This led up to the true
Mysteries. Candidates for the School must be "of an unblemished
reputation and of a contented disposition."

The close identity between the methods and aims pursued in these various
Mysteries and those of Yoga in India is patent to the most superficial
observer. It is not, however, necessary to suppose that the nations of
antiquity drew from India; all alike drew from the one source, the Grand
Lodge of Central Asia, which sent out its Initiates to every land. They
all taught the same doctrines, and pursued the same methods, leading to
the same ends. But there was much intercommunication between the
Initiates of all nations, and there was a common language and a common
symbolism. Thus Pythagoras journeyed among the Indians, and received in
India a high Initiation, and Apollonius of Tyana later followed in his
steps. Quite Indian in phrase as well as thought were the dying words of
Plotinus: "Now I seek to lead back the Self within me to the
All-self."[30]

Among the Hindus the duty of teaching the supreme knowledge only to the
worthy was strictly insisted on. "The deepest mystery of the end of
knowledge ... is not to be declared to one who is not a son or a pupil,
and who is not tranquil in mind."[31] So again, after a sketch of Yoga
we read: "Stand up! awake! having found the Great Ones, listen! The road
is as difficult to tread as the sharp edge of a razor. Thus say the
wise."[32] The Teacher is needed, for written teaching alone does not
suffice. The "end of knowledge" is to know God--not only to believe; to
become one with God--not only to worship afar off. Man must know the
reality of the divine Existence, and then know--not only vaguely believe
and hope--that his own innermost Self is one with God, and that the aim
of life is to realise that unity. Unless religion can guide a man to
that realisation, it is but "as sounding brass or a tinkling
cymbal."[33]

So also it was asserted that man should learn to leave the gross body:
"Let a man with firmness separate it [the soul] from his own body, as a
grass-stalk from its sheath."[34] And it was written! "In the golden
highest sheath dwells the stainless, changeless Brahman; It is the
radiant white Light of lights, known to the knowers of the Self."[35]
"When the seer sees the golden-coloured Creator, the Lord, the Spirit,
whose womb is Brahman, then, having thrown away merit and demerit,
stainless, the wise one reaches the highest union."[36]

Nor were the Hebrews without their secret knowledge and their Schools of
Initiation. The company of prophets at Naioth presided over by
Samuel[37] formed such a School, and the oral teaching was handed down
by them. Similar Schools existed at Bethel and Jericho,[38] and in
Cruden's _Concordance_[39] there is the following interesting note: "The
Schools or Colleges of the prophets are the first [schools] of which we
have any account in Scripture; where the children of the prophets, that
is, their disciples, lived in the exercises of a retired and austere
life, in study and meditation, and reading of the law of God.... These
Schools, or Societies, of the prophets were succeeded by the
Synagogues." The _Kabbala_, which contains the semi-public teaching, is,
as it now stands, a modern compilation, part of it being the work of
Rabbi Moses de Leon, who died A.D. 1305. It consists of five books,
Bahir, Zohar, Sepher Sephiroth, Sepher Yetzirah, and Asch Metzareth, and
is asserted to have been transmitted orally from very ancient times--as
antiquity is reckoned historically. Dr. Wynn Westcott says that "Hebrew
tradition assigns the oldest parts of the Zohar to a date antecedent to
the building of the second Temple;" and Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai is said
to have written down some of it in the first century A.D. The Sepher
Yetzirah is spoken of by Saadjah Gaon, who died A.D. 940, as "very
ancient."[40] Some portions of the ancient oral teaching have been
incorporated in the _Kabbala_ as it now stands, but the true archaic
wisdom of the Hebrews remains in the guardianship of a few of the true
sons of Israel.

Brief as is this outline, it is sufficient to show the existence of a
hidden side in the religions of the world outside Christianity, and we
may now examine the question whether Christianity was an exception to
this universal rule.



CHAPTER II.

THE HIDDEN SIDE OF CHRISTIANITY.

_(a)_ THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES.


Having seen that the religions of the past claimed with one voice to
have a hidden side, to be custodians of "Mysteries," and that this claim
was endorsed by the seeking of initiation by the greatest men, we must
now ascertain whether Christianity stands outside this circle of
religions, and alone is without a Gnosis, offering to the world only a
simple faith and not a profound knowledge. Were it so, it would indeed
be a sad and lamentable fact, proving Christianity to be intended for a
class only, and not for all types of human beings. But that it is not
so, we shall be able to prove beyond the possibility of rational doubt.

And that proof is the thing which Christendom at this time most sorely
needs, for the very flower of Christendom is perishing for lack of
knowledge. If the esoteric teaching can be re-established and win
patient and earnest students, it will not be long before the occult is
also restored. Disciples of the Lesser Mysteries will become candidates
for the Greater, and with the regaining of knowledge will come again the
authority of teaching. And truly the need is great. For, looking at the
world around us, we find that religion in the West is suffering from the
very difficulty that theoretically we should expect to find.
Christianity, having lost its mystic and esoteric teaching, is losing
its hold on a large number of the more highly educated, and the partial
revival during the past few years is co-incident with the
re-introduction of some mystic teaching. It is patent to every student
of the closing forty years of the last century, that crowds of
thoughtful and moral people have slipped away from the churches, because
the teachings they received there outraged their intelligence and
shocked their moral sense. It is idle to pretend that the wide-spread
agnosticism of this period had its root either in lack of morality or in
deliberate crookedness of mind. Everyone who carefully studies the
phenomena presented will admit that men of strong intellect have been
driven out of Christianity by the crudity of the religious ideas set
before them, the contradictions in the authoritative teachings, the
views as to God, man, and the universe that no trained intelligence
could possibly admit. Nor can it be said that any kind of moral
degradation lay at the root of the revolt against the dogmas of the
Church. The rebels were not too bad for their religion; on the contrary,
it was the religion that was too bad for them. The rebellion against
popular Christianity was due to the awakening and the growth of
conscience; it was the conscience that revolted, as well as the
intelligence, against teachings dishonouring to God and man alike, that
represented God as a tyrant, and man as essentially evil, gaining
salvation by slavish submission.

The reason for this revolt lay in the gradual descent of Christian
teaching into so-called simplicity, so that the most ignorant might be
able to grasp it. Protestant religionists asserted loudly that nothing
ought to be preached save that which every one could grasp, that the
glory of the Gospel lay in its simplicity, and that the child and the
unlearned ought to be able to understand and apply it to life. True
enough, if by this it were meant that there are some religious truths
that all can grasp, and that a religion fails if it leaves the lowest,
the most ignorant, the most dull, outside the pale of its elevating
influence. But false, utterly false, if by this it be meant that
religion has no truths that the ignorant cannot understand, that it is
so poor and limited a thing that it has nothing to teach which is above
the thought of the unintelligent or above the moral purview of the
degraded. False, fatally false, if such be the meaning; for as that view
spreads, occupying the pulpits and being sounded in the churches, many
noble men and women, whose hearts are half-broken as they sever the
links that bind them to their early faith, withdraw from the churches,
and leave their places to be filled by the hypocritical and the
ignorant. They pass either into a state of passive agnosticism, or--if
they be young and enthusiastic--into a condition of active aggression,
not believing that that can be the highest which outrages alike
intellect and conscience, and preferring the honesty of open unbelief to
the drugging of the intellect and the conscience at the bidding of an
authority in which they recognise nothing that is divine.

In thus studying the thought of our time we see that the question of a
hidden teaching in connection with Christianity becomes of vital
importance. Is Christianity to survive as _the_ religion of the West? Is
it to live through the centuries of the future, and to continue to play
a part in moulding the thought of the evolving western races? If it is
to live, it must regain the knowledge it has lost, and again have its
mystic and its occult teachings; it must again stand forth as an
authoritative teacher of spiritual verities, clothed with the only
authority worth anything, the authority of knowledge. If these teachings
be regained, their influence will soon be seen in wider and deeper
views of truth; dogmas, which now seem like mere shells and fetters,
shall again be seen to be partial presentments of fundamental realities.
First, Esoteric Christianity will reappear in the "Holy Place," in the
Temple, so that all who are capable of receiving it may follow its lines
of published thought; and secondly, Occult Christianity will again
descend into the Adytum, dwelling behind the Veil which guards the "Holy
of Holies," into which only the Initiate may enter. Then again will
occult teaching be within the reach of those who qualify themselves to
receive it, according to the ancient rules, those who are willing in
modern days to meet the ancient demands, made on all those who would
fain know the reality and truth of spiritual things.

Once again we turn our eyes to history, to see whether Christianity was
unique among religions in having no inner teaching, or whether it
resembled all others in possessing this hidden treasure. Such a question
is a matter of evidence, not of theory, and must be decided by the
authority of the existing documents and not by the mere _ipse dixit_ of
modern Christians.

As a matter of fact both the "New Testament" and the writings of the
early Church make the same declarations as to the possession by the
Church of such teachings, and we learn from these the fact of the
existence of Mysteries--called the Mysteries of Jesus, or the Mystery of
the Kingdom--the conditions imposed on candidates, something of the
general nature of the teachings given, and other details. Certain
passages in the "New Testament" would remain entirely obscure, if it
were not for the light thrown on them by the definite statements of the
Fathers and Bishops of the Church, but in that light they became clear
and intelligible.

It would indeed have been strange had it been otherwise when we consider
the lines of religious thought which influenced primitive Christianity.
Allied to the Hebrews, the Persians, and the Greeks, tinged by the older
faiths of India, deeply coloured by Syrian and Egyptian thought, this
later branch of the great religious stem could not do other than again
re-affirm the ancient traditions, and place in the grasp of western
races the full treasure of the ancient teaching. "The faith once
delivered to the saints" would indeed have been shorn of its chief value
if, when delivered to the West, the pearl of esoteric teaching had been
withheld.

The first evidence to be examined is that of the "New Testament." For
our purpose we may put aside all the vexed questions of different
readings and different authors, that can only be decided by scholars.
Critical scholarship has much to say on the age of MSS., on the
authenticity of documents, and so on. But we need not concern ourselves
with these. We may accept the canonical Scriptures, as showing what was
believed in the early Church as to the teaching of the Christ and of His
immediate followers, and see what they say as to the existence of a
secret teaching given only to the few. Having seen the words put into
the mouth of Jesus Himself, and regarded by the Church as of supreme
authority, we will look at the writings of the great apostle S. Paul;
then we will consider the statements made by those who inherited the
apostolic tradition and guided the Church during the first centuries
A.D. Along this unbroken line of tradition and written testimony the
proposition that Christianity had a hidden side can be established. We
shall further find that the Lesser Mysteries of mystic interpretation
can be traced through the centuries to the beginning of the 19th
century, and that though there were no Schools of Mysticism recognised
as preparatory to Initiation, after the disappearance of the Mysteries,
yet great Mystics, from time to time, reached the lower stages of
exstasy, by their own sustained efforts, aided doubtless by invisible
Teachers.

The words of the Master Himself are clear and definite, and were, as we
shall see, quoted by Origen as referring to the secret teaching
preserved in the Church. "And when he was alone, they that were about
Him with the twelve asked of Him the parable. And He said unto them,
'Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God, but
unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.'" And
later: "With many such parables spake He the word unto them, as they
were able to hear it. But without a parable spake He not unto them; and
when they were alone He expounded all things to His disciples."[41] Mark
the significant words, "when they were alone," and the phrase, "them
that are without." So also in the version of S. Matthew: "Jesus sent the
multitude away, and went into the house; and His disciples came unto
Him." These teachings given "in the house," the innermost meanings of
His instructions, were alleged to be handed on from teacher to teacher.
The Gospel gives, it will be noted, the allegorical mystic explanation,
that which we have called The Lesser Mysteries, but the deeper meaning
was said to be given only to the Initiates.

Again, Jesus tells even His apostles: "I have yet many things to say to
you, but ye cannot bear them now."[42] Some of them were probably said
after His death, when He was seen of His disciples, "speaking of the
things pertaining to the kingdom of God."[43] None of these have been
publicly recorded, but who can believe that they were neglected or
forgotten, and were not handed down as a priceless possession? There was
a tradition in the Church that He visited His apostles for a
considerable period after His death, for the sake of giving them
instruction--a fact that will be referred to later--and in the famous
Gnostic treatise, the _Pistis Sophia_, we read: "It came to pass, when
Jesus had risen from the dead, that He passed eleven years speaking with
His disciples and instructing them."[44] Then there is the phrase, which
many would fain soften and explain away: "Give not that which is holy to
the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine"[45]--a precept which
is of general application indeed, but was considered by the early
Church to refer to the secret teachings. It should be remembered that
the words had not the same harshness of sound in the ancient days as
they have now; for the words "dogs"--like "the vulgar," "the
profane"--was applied by those within a certain circle to all who were
outside its pale, whether by a society or association, or by a
nation--as by the Jews to all Gentiles.[46] It was sometimes used to
designate those who were outside the circle of Initiates, and we find it
employed in that sense in the early Church; those who, not having been
initiated into the Mysteries, were regarded as being outside "the
kingdom of God," or "the spiritual Israel," had this name applied to
them.

There were several names, exclusive of the term "The Mystery," or "The
Mysteries," used to designate the sacred circle of the Initiates or
connected with Initiation: "The Kingdom," "The Kingdom of God," "The
Kingdom of Heaven," "The Narrow Path," "The Strait Gate," "The
Perfect," "The Saved," "Life Eternal," "Life," "The Second Birth," "A
Little One," "A Little Child." The meaning is made plain by the use of
these words in early Christian writings, and in some cases even outside
the Christian pale. Thus the term, "The Perfect," was used by the
Essenes, who had three orders in their communities: the Neophytes, the
Brethren, and the Perfect--the latter being Initiates; and it is
employed generally in that sense in old writings. "The Little Child" was
the ordinary name for a candidate just initiated, _i.e._, who had just
taken his "second birth."

When we know this use, many obscure and otherwise harsh passages become
intelligible. "Then said one unto Him: Lord, are there few that be
saved? And He said unto them: Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for
many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in and shall not be able."[47]
If this be applied in the ordinary Protestant way to salvation from
everlasting hell-fire, the statement becomes incredible, shocking. No
Saviour of the world can be supposed to assert that many will seek to
avoid hell and enter heaven, but will not be able to do so. But as
applied to the narrow gateway of Initiation and to salvation from
rebirth, it is perfectly true and natural. So again: "Enter ye in at the
strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to
destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is
the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life; and few there be
that find it."[48] The warning which immediately follows against the
false prophets, the teachers of the dark Mysteries, is most apposite in
this connection. No student can miss the familiar ring of these words
used in this same sense in other writings. The "ancient narrow way" is
familiar to all; the path "difficult to tread as the sharp edge of a
razor,"[49] already mentioned; the going "from death to death" of those
who follow the flower-strewn path of desires, who do not know God; for
those men only become immortal and escape from the wide mouth of death,
from ever repeated destruction, who have quitted all desires.[50] The
allusion to death is, of course, to the repeated births of the soul into
gross material existence, regarded always as "death" compared to the
"life" of the higher and subtler worlds.

This "Strait Gate" was the gateway of Initiation, and through it a
candidate entered "The Kingdom." And it ever has been, and must be, true
that only a few can enter that gateway, though myriads--an exceedingly
"great multitude, which no man could number,"[51] not a few--enter into
the happiness of the heaven-world. So also spoke another great Teacher,
nearly three thousand years earlier: "Among thousands of men scarce one
striveth for perfection; of the successful strivers scarce one knoweth
me in essence."[52] For the Initiates are few in each generation, the
flower of humanity; but no gloomy sentence of everlasting woe is
pronounced in this statement on the vast majority of the human race.
The saved are, as Proclus taught,[53] those who escape from the circle
of generation, within which humanity is bound.

In this connection we may recall the story of the young man who came to
Jesus, and, addressing Him as "Good Master," asked how he might win
eternal life--the well-recognised liberation from rebirth by knowledge
of God.[54] His first answer was the regular exoteric precept: "Keep the
commandments." But when the young man answered: "All these things have I
kept from my youth up;" then, to that conscience free from all knowledge
of transgression, came the answer of the true Teacher: "If thou wilt be
perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou
shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." "If thou wilt be
perfect," be a member of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience must be
embraced. And then to His own disciples Jesus explains that a rich man
can hardly enter the Kingdom of Heaven, such entrance being more
difficult than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle; with men
such entrance could not be, with God all things were possible.[55] Only
God in man can pass that barrier.

This text has been variously explained away, it being obviously
impossible to take it in its surface meaning, that a rich man cannot
enter a post-mortem state of happiness. Into that state the rich man may
enter as well as the poor, and the universal practice of Christians
shows that they do not for one moment believe that riches imperil their
happiness after death. But if the real meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven
be taken, we have the expression of a simple and direct fact. For that
knowledge of God which is Eternal Life[56] cannot be gained till
everything earthly is surrendered, cannot be learned until everything
has been sacrificed. The man must give up not only earthly wealth, which
henceforth may only pass through his hands as steward, but he must give
up his inner wealth as well, so far as he holds it as his own against
the world; until he is stripped naked he cannot pass the narrow gateway.
Such has ever been a condition of Initiation, and "poverty, obedience,
chastity," has been the vow of the candidate.

The "second birth" is another well-recognised term for Initiation; even
now in India the higher castes are called "twice-born," and the ceremony
that makes them twice-born is a ceremony of Initiation--mere husk truly,
in these modern days, but the "pattern of things in the heavens."[57]
When Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, He states that "Except a man be
born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," and this birth is spoken
of as that "of water and the Spirit;"[58] this is the first Initiation;
a later one is that of "the Holy Ghost and fire,"[59] the baptism of the
Initiate in his manhood, as the first is that of birth, which welcomes
him as "the Little Child" entering the Kingdom.[60] How thoroughly this
imagery was familiar among the mystic of the Jews is shown by the
surprise evinced by Jesus when Nicodemus stumbled over His mystic
phraseology: "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these
things?"[61]

Another precept of Jesus which remains as "a hard saying" to his
followers is: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in
heaven is perfect."[62] The ordinary Christian knows that he cannot
possibly obey this command; full of ordinary human frailties and
weaknesses, how can he become perfect as God is perfect? Seeing the
impossibility of the achievement set before him, he quietly puts it
aside, and thinks no more about it. But seen as the crowning effort of
many lives of steady improvement, as the triumph of the God within us
over the lower nature, it comes within calculable distance, and we
recall the words of Porphyry, how the man who achieves "the paradigmatic
virtues is the Father of the Gods,"[63] and that in the Mysteries these
virtues were acquired.

S. Paul follows in the footsteps of his Master, and speaks in exactly
the same sense, but, as might be expected from his organising work in
the Church, with greater explicitness and clearness. The student should
read with attention chapters ii. and iii., and verse 1 of chapter iv. of
the First Epistle to the Corinthians, remembering, as he reads, that the
words are addressed to baptised and communicant members of the Church,
full members from the modern standpoint, although described as babes and
carnal by the Apostle. They were not catechumens or neophytes, but men
and women who were in complete possession of all the privileges and
responsibilities of Church membership, recognised by the Apostle as
being separate from the world, and expected not to behave as men of the
world. They were, in fact, in possession of all that the modern Church
gives to its members. Let us summarise the Apostle's words:

"I came to you bearing the divine testimony, not alluring you with human
wisdom but with the power of the Spirit. Truly 'we speak wisdom among
them that are perfect,' but it is no human wisdom. 'We speak the wisdom
of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before
the world' began, and which none even of the princes of this world know.
The things of that wisdom are beyond men's thinking, 'but God hath
revealed them unto us by his Spirit ... the deep things of God,' 'which
the Holy Ghost teacheth.'[64] These are spiritual things, to be
discerned only by the spiritual man, in whom is the mind of Christ. 'And
I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto
carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.... Ye were not able to bear it,
neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal.' 'As a wise
master-builder[65] I have laid the foundation,' and 'ye are the temple
of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.' 'Let a man so account
of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the Mysteries of
God.'"

Can any one read this passage--and all that has been done in the summary
is to bring out the salient points--without recognising the fact that
the Apostle possessed a divine wisdom given in the Mysteries, that his
Corinthian followers were not yet able to receive? And note the
recurring technical terms: the "wisdom," the "wisdom of God in a
mystery," the "hidden wisdom," known only to the "spiritual" man, spoken
of only among the "perfect," wisdom from which the non-"spiritual," the
"babes in Christ," the "carnal," were excluded, known to the "wise
master-builder," the "steward of the Mysteries of God."

Again and again he refers to these Mysteries. Writing to the Ephesian
Christians he says that "by revelation," by the unveiling, had been
"made known unto me the Mystery," and hence his "knowledge in the
Mystery of Christ"; all might know of the "fellowship of the
Mystery."[66] Of this Mystery, he repeated to the Colossians, he was
"made a minister," "the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from
generations, but now is made manifest to His saints"; not to the world,
nor even to Christians, but only to the Holy Ones. To them was unveiled
"the glory of this Mystery"; and what was it? "Christ _in you_"--a
significant phrase, which we shall see, in a moment, belonged to the
life of the Initiate; thus ultimately must every man learn the wisdom,
and become "perfect in Christ Jesus."[67] These Colossians he bids pray
"that God would open to us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of
Christ,"[68] a passage to which S. Clement refers as one in which the
apostle "clearly reveals that knowledge belongs not to all."[69] So
also he writes to his loved Timothy, bidding him select his deacons from
those who hold "the Mystery of the faith in a pure conscience," that
great "Mystery of Godliness," that he had learned,[70] knowledge of
which was necessary for the teachers of the Church.

Now S. Timothy holds an important position, as representing the next
generation of Christian teachers. He was a pupil of S. Paul, and was
appointed by him to guide and rule a portion of the Church. He had been,
we learn, initiated into the Mysteries by S. Paul himself, and reference
is made to this, the technical phrases once more serving as a clue.
"This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the
prophecies which went before on thee,"[71] the solemn benediction of the
Initiator, who admitted the candidate; but not alone was the Initiator
present: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by
prophecy, by the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery,"[72] of the
Elder Brothers. And he reminds him to lay hold of that "eternal life,
whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession
before many witnesses"[73]--the vow of the new Initiate, pledged in the
presence of the Elder Brothers, and of the assembly of Initiates. The
knowledge then given was the sacred charge of which S. Paul cries out so
forcibly: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy
trust"[74]--not the knowledge commonly possessed by Christians, as to
which no special obligation lay upon S. Timothy, but the sacred deposit
committed to his trust as an Initiate, and essential to the welfare of
the Church. S. Paul later recurs again to this, laying stress on the
supreme importance of the matter in a way that would be exaggerated had
the knowledge been the common property of Christian men: "Hold fast the
form of sound words which thou hast heard of me.... That good thing
which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in
us"[75]--as serious an adjuration as human lips could frame. Further,
it was his duty to provide for the due transmission of this sacred
deposit, that it might be handed on to the future, and the Church might
never be left without teachers: "The things that thou hast heard of me
among many witnesses"--the sacred oral teachings given in the assembly
of Initiates, who bore witness to the accuracy of the transmission--"the
same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others
also."[76]

The knowledge--or, if the phrase be preferred, the supposition--that the
Church possessed these hidden teachings throws a flood of light on the
scattered remarks made by S. Paul about himself, and when they are
gathered together, we have an outline of the evolution of the Initiate.
S. Paul asserts that though he was already among the perfect, the
initiated--for he says: "Let us, therefore, as many as be perfect, be
thus minded"--he had not yet "attained," was indeed not yet wholly
"perfect," for he had not yet won Christ, he had not yet reached the
"high calling of God in Christ," "the power of His resurrection, and
the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His
death;" and he was striving, he says, "if by any means I might attain
unto the resurrection of the dead."[77] For this was the Initiation that
liberated, that made the Initiate the Perfect Master, the Risen Christ,
freeing Him finally from the "dead," from the humanity within the circle
of generation, from the bonds that fettered the soul to gross matter.
Here again we have a number of technical terms, and even the surface
reader should realise that the "resurrection of the dead" here spoken of
cannot be the ordinary resurrection of the modern Christian, supposed to
be inevitable for all men, and therefore obviously not requiring any
special struggle on the part of any one to attain to it. In fact the
very word "attain" would be out of place in referring to a universal and
inevitable human experience. S. Paul could not avoid _that_
resurrection, according to the modern Christian view. What then was the
resurrection to attain which he was making such strenuous efforts? Once
more the only answer comes from the Mysteries. In them the Initiate
approaching the Initiation that liberated from the cycle of rebirth, the
circle of generation, was called "the suffering Christ;" he shared the
sufferings of the Saviour of the world, was crucified mystically, "made
conformable to His death," and then attained the resurrection, the
fellowship of the glorified Christ, and, after, that death had over him
no power.[78] This was "the prize" towards which the great Apostle was
pressing, and he urged "as many as be perfect," _not the ordinary
believer_, thus also to strive. Let them not be content with what they
had gained, but still press onwards.

This resemblance of the Initiate to the Christ is, indeed, the very
groundwork of the Greater Mysteries, as we shall see more in detail when
we study "The Mystical Christ." The Initiate was no longer to look on
Christ as outside himself: "Though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more."[79]

The ordinary believer had "put on Christ;" "as many of you as have been
baptised into Christ have put on Christ."[80] Then they were the "babes
in Christ" to whom reference has already been made, and Christ was the
Saviour to whom they looked for help, knowing Him "after the flesh." But
when they had conquered the lower nature and were no longer "carnal,"
then they were to enter on a higher path, and were themselves to become
Christ. This which he himself had already reached, was the longing of
the Apostle for his followers: "My little children, of whom I travail in
birth again until Christ be formed _in you_."[81] Already he was their
spiritual father, having "begotten you through the gospel."[82] But now
"again" he was as a parent, as their mother to bring them to the second
birth. Then the infant Christ, the Holy Child, was born in the soul,
"the hidden man of the heart;"[83] the Initiate thus became that
"Little Child"; henceforth he was to live out in his own person the life
of the Christ, until he became the "perfect man," growing "unto the
measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."[84] Then he, as S.
Paul was doing, filled up the sufferings of Christ in his own flesh,[85]
and always bore "about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,"[86] so
that he could truly say: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I
live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."[87] Thus was the Apostle
himself suffering; thus he describes himself. And when the struggle is
over, how different is the calm tone of triumph from the strained effort
of the earlier years: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my
departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a
crown of righteousness."[88] This was the crown given to "him that
overcometh," of whom it is said by the ascended Christ: "I will make him
a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out."[89] For
after the "Resurrection" the Initiate has become the Perfect Man, the
Master, and He goes out no more from the Temple, but from it serves and
guides the worlds.

It may be well to point out, ere closing this chapter, that S. Paul
himself sanctions the use of the theoretical mystic teaching in
explaining the historical events recorded in the Scriptures. The history
therein written is not regarded by him as a mere record of facts, which
occurred on the physical plane. A true mystic, he saw in the physical
events the shadows of the universal truths ever unfolding in higher and
inner worlds, and knew that the events selected for preservation in
occult writings were such as were typical, the explanation of which
would subserve human instruction. Thus he takes the story of Abraham,
Sarai, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac, and saying, "which things are an
allegory," he proceeds to give the mystical interpretation.[90]
Referring to the escape of the Israelites from Egypt, he speaks of the
Red Sea as a baptism, of the manna and the water as spiritual meat and
spiritual drink, of the rock from which the water flowed as Christ.[91]
He sees the great mystery of the union of Christ and His Church in the
human relation of husband and wife, and speaks of Christians as the
flesh and the bones of the body of Christ.[92] The writer of the Epistle
to the Hebrews allegorises the whole Jewish system of worship. In the
Temple he sees a pattern of the heavenly Temple, in the High Priest he
sees Christ, in the sacrifices the offering of the spotless Son; the
priests of the Temple are but "the example and shadow of heavenly
things," of the heavenly priesthood serving in "the true tabernacle." A
most elaborate allegory is thus worked out in chapters iii.-x., and the
writer alleges that the Holy Ghost thus signified the deeper meaning;
all was "a figure for the time."

In this view of the sacred writings, it is not alleged that the events
recorded did not take place, but only that their physical happening was
a matter of minor importance. And such explanation is the unveiling of
the Lesser Mysteries, the mystic teaching which is permitted to be given
to the world. It is not, as many think, a mere play of the imagination,
but is the outcome of a true intuition, seeing the patterns in the
heavens, and not only the shadows cast by them on the screen of earthly
time.



CHAPTER III.

THE HIDDEN SIDE OF CHRISTIANITY(_concluded_).

(_(b)_) THE TESTIMONY OF THE CHURCH.


While it may be that some would be willing to admit the possession by
the Apostles and their immediate successors of a deeper knowledge of
spiritual things than was current among the masses of the believers
around them, few will probably be willing to take the next step, and,
leaving that charmed circle, accept as the depository of their sacred
learning the Mysteries of the Early Church. Yet we have S. Paul
providing for the transmission of the unwritten teaching, himself
initiating S. Timothy, and instructing S. Timothy to initiate others in
his turn, who should again hand it on to yet others. We thus see the
provision of four successive generations of teachers, spoken of in the
Scriptures themselves, and these would far more than overlap the writers
of the Early Church, who bear witness to the existence of the Mysteries.
For among these are pupils of the Apostles themselves, though the most
definite statements belong to those removed from the Apostles by one
intermediate teacher. Now, as soon as we begin to study the writings of
the Early Church, we are met by the facts that there are allusions which
are only intelligible by the existence of the Mysteries, and then
statements that the Mysteries are existing. This might, of course, have
been expected, seeing the point at which the New Testament leaves the
matter, but it is satisfactory to find the facts answer to the
expectation.

The first witnesses are those called the Apostolic Fathers, the
disciples of the Apostles; but very little of their writings, and that
disputed, remains. Not being written controversially, the statements are
not as categorical as those of the later writers. Their letters are for
the encouragement of the believers. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, and
fellow-disciple with Ignatius of S. John,[93] expresses a hope that his
correspondents are "well versed in the sacred Scriptures and that
nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet
granted"[94]--writing, apparently, before reaching full Initiation.
Barnabas speaks of communicating "some portion of what I have myself
received,"[95] and after expounding the Law mystically, declares that
"we then, rightly understanding His commandments, explain them as the
Lord intended."[96] Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, a disciple of S.
John,[97] speaks of himself as "not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For I
now begin to be a disciple, and I speak to you as my
fellow-disciples,"[98] and he speaks of them as "initiated into the
mysteries of the Gospel with Paul, the holy, the martyred."[99] Again
he says: "Might I not write to you things more full of mystery? But I
fear to do so, lest I should inflict injury on you who are but babes.
Pardon me in this respect, lest, as not being able to receive their
weighty import, ye should be strangled by them. For even I, though I am
bound [for Christ] and am able to understand heavenly things, the
angelic orders, and the different sorts of angels and hosts, the
distinction between powers and dominions, and the diversities between
thrones and authorities, the mightiness of the æons, and the
pre-eminence of the cherubim and seraphim, the sublimity of the Spirit,
the kingdom of the Lord, and above all the incomparable majesty of
Almighty God--though I am acquainted with these things, yet am I not
therefore by any means perfect, nor am I such a disciple as Paul or
Peter."[100] This passage is interesting, as indicating that the
organisation of the celestial hierarchies was one of the subjects in
which instruction was given in the Mysteries. Again he speaks of the
High Priest, the Hierophant, "to whom the holy of holies has been
committed, and who alone has been entrusted with the secrets of
God."[101]

We come next to S. Clement of Alexandria and his pupil Origen, the two
writers of the second and third centuries who tell us most about the
Mysteries in the Early Church; though the general atmosphere is full of
mystic allusions, these two are clear and categorical in their
statements that the Mysteries were a recognised institution.

Now S. Clement was a disciple of Pantænus, and he speaks of him and of
two others, said to be probably Tatian and Theodotus, as "preserving the
tradition of the blessed doctrine derived directly from the holy
Apostles, Peter, James, John, and Paul,"[102] his link with the Apostles
themselves consisting thus of only one intermediary. He was the head of
the Catechetical School of Alexandria in A.D. 189, and died about A.D.
220. Origen, born about A.D. 185, was his pupil, and he is, perhaps,
the most learned of the Fathers, and a man of the rarest moral beauty.
These are the witnesses from whom we receive the most important
testimony as to the existence of definite Mysteries in the Early Church.

The _Stromata_, or Miscellanies, of S. Clement are our source of
information about the Mysteries in his time. He himself speaks of these
writings as a "miscellany of Gnostic notes, according to the true
philosophy,"[103] and also describes them as memoranda of the teachings
he had himself received from Pantænus. The passage is instructive: "The
Lord ... allowed us to communicate of those divine Mysteries, and of
that holy light, to those who are able to receive them. He did not
certainly disclose to the many what did not belong to the many; but to
the few to whom He knew that they belonged, who were capable of
receiving and being moulded according to them. But secret things are
entrusted to speech, not to writing, as is the case with God. And if
one say[104] that it is written, 'There is nothing secret which shall
not be revealed, nor hidden which shall not be disclosed,' let him also
hear from us, that to him who hears secretly, even what is secret shall
be manifested. This is what was predicted by this oracle. And to him who
is able secretly to observe what is delivered to him, that which is
veiled shall be disclosed as truth; and what is hidden to the many shall
appear manifest to the few.... The Mysteries are delivered mystically,
that what is spoken may be in the mouth of the speaker; rather not in
his voice, but in his understanding.... The writing of these memoranda
of mine, I well know, is weak when compared with that spirit, full of
grace, which I was privileged to hear. But it will be an image to recall
the archetype to him who was struck with the Thyrsus." The Thyrsus, we
may here interject, was the wand borne by Initiates, and candidates were
touched with it during the ceremony of Initiation. It had a mystic
significance, symbolising the spinal cord and the pineal gland in the
Lesser Mysteries, and a Rod, known to Occultists, in the Greater. To
say, therefore, "to him who was struck with the Thyrsus" was exactly the
same as to say, "to him who was initiated in the Mysteries." Clement
proceeds: "We profess not to explain secret things sufficiently--far
from it--but only to recall them to memory, whether we have forgot
aught, or whether for the purpose of not forgetting. Many things, I well
know, have escaped us, through length of time, that have dropped away
unwritten.... There are then some things of which we have no
recollection; for the power that was in the blessed men was great." A
frequent experience of those taught by the Great Ones, for Their
presence stimulates and renders active powers which are normally latent,
and which the pupil, unassisted, cannot evoke. "There are also some
things which remained unnoted long, which have now escaped; and others
which are effaced, having faded away in the mind itself, since such a
task is not easy to those not experienced; these I revive in my
commentaries. Some things I purposely omit, in the exercise of a wise
selection, afraid to write what I guarded against speaking; not
grudging--for that were wrong--but fearing for my readers, lest they
should stumble by taking them in a wrong sense; and, as the proverb
says, we should be found 'reaching a sword to a child.' For it is
impossible that what has been written should not escape [become known],
although remaining unpublished by me. But being always revolved, using
the one only voice, that of writing, they answer nothing to him that
makes enquiries beyond what is written; for they require of necessity
the aid of some one, either of him who wrote, or of some one else who
has walked in his footsteps. Some things my treatise will hint; on some
it will linger; some it will merely mention. It will try to speak
imperceptibly, to exhibit secretly, and to demonstrate silently."[105]

This passage, if it stood alone, would suffice to establish the
existence of a secret teaching in the Early Church. But it stands by no
means alone. In Chapter xii. of this same Book I., headed, "The
Mysteries of the Faith not to be divulged to all," Clement declares
that, since others than the wise may see his work, "it is requisite,
therefore, to hide in a Mystery the wisdom spoken, which the Son of God
taught." Purified tongue of the speaker, purified ears of the hearer,
these were necessary. "Such were the impediments in the way of my
writing. And even now I fear, as it is said, 'to cast the pearls before
swine, lest they tread them under foot and turn and rend us.' For it is
difficult to exhibit the really pure and transparent words respecting
the true light, to swinish and untrained hearers. For scarcely could
anything which they could hear be more ludicrous than these to the
multitude; nor any subjects on the other hand more admirable or more
inspiring to those of noble nature. But the wise do not utter with their
mouth what they reason in council. 'But what ye hear in the ear,' said
the Lord, 'proclaim upon the houses'; bidding them receive the secret
traditions of the true knowledge, and expound them aloft and
conspicuously; and as we have heard in the ear, so to deliver them to
whom it is requisite; but not enjoining us to communicate to all without
distinction, what is said to them in parables. But there is only a
delineation in the memoranda, which have the truth sown sparse and
broadcast, that it may escape the notice of those who pick up seeds like
jackdaws; but when they find a good husbandman, each one of them will
germinate and will produce corn."

Clement might have added that to "proclaim upon the houses" was to
proclaim or expound in the assembly of the Perfect, the Initiated, and
by no means to shout aloud to the man in the street.

Again he says that those who are "still blind and dumb, not having
understanding, or the undazzled and keen vision of the contemplative
soul ... must stand outside of the divine choir.... Wherefore, in
accordance with the method of concealment, the truly sacred Word, truly
divine and most necessary for us, deposited in the shrine of truth, was
by the Egyptians indicated by what were called among them _adyta_, and
by the Hebrews by the veil. Only the consecrated ... were allowed access
to them. For Plato also thought it not lawful for 'the impure to touch
the pure.' Thence the prophecies and oracles are spoken in enigmas, and
the Mysteries are not exhibited incontinently to all and sundry, but
only after certain purifications and previous instructions."[106] He
then descants at great length on Symbols, expounding Pythagorean,
Hebrew, Egyptian,[107] and then remarks that the ignorant and unlearned
man fails in understanding them. "But the Gnostic apprehends. Now then
it is not wished that all things should be exposed indiscriminately to
all and sundry, or the benefits of wisdom communicated to those who have
not even in a dream been purified in soul (for it is not allowed to hand
to every chance comer what has been procured with such laborious
efforts); nor are the Mysteries of the Word to be expounded to the
profane." The Pythagoreans and Plato, Zeno, and Aristotle had exoteric
and esoteric teachings. The philosophers established the Mysteries, for
"was it not more beneficial for the holy and blessed contemplation of
realities to be concealed?"[108] The Apostles also approved of "veiling
the Mysteries of the Faith," "for there is an instruction to the
perfect," alluded to in Colossians i. 9-11 and 25-27. "So that, on the
one hand, then, there are the Mysteries which were hid till the time of
the Apostles, and were delivered by them as they received from the Lord,
and, concealed in the Old Testament, were manifested to the saints. And,
on the other hand, there is 'the riches of the glory of the mystery in
the Gentiles,' which is faith and hope in Christ; which in another place
he has called the 'foundation.'" He quotes S. Paul to show that this
"knowledge belongs not to all," and says, referring to Heb. v. and vi.,
that "there were certainly among the Hebrews, some things delivered
unwritten;" and then refers to S. Barnabas, who speaks of God, "who has
put into our hearts wisdom and the understanding of His secrets," and
says that "it is but for few to comprehend these things," as showing a
"trace of Gnostic tradition." "Wherefore instruction, which reveals
hidden things, is called illumination, as it is the teacher only who
uncovers the lid of the ark."[109] Further referring to S. Paul, he
comments on his remark to the Romans that he will "come in the fulness
of the blessing of Christ,"[110] and says that he thus designates "the
spiritual gift and the Gnostic interpretation, while being present he
desires to impart to them present as 'the fulness of Christ, according
to the revelation of the Mystery sealed in the ages of eternity, but now
manifested by the prophetic Scriptures'[111].... But only to a few of
them is shown what those things are which are contained in the Mystery.
Rightly, then, Plato, in the epistles, treating of God, says: 'We must
speak in enigmas; that should the tablet come by any mischance on its
leaves either by sea or land, he who reads may remain ignorant.'"[112]

After much examination of Greek writers, and an investigation into
philosophy, S. Clement declares that the Gnosis "imparted and revealed
by the Son of God, is wisdom.... And the Gnosis itself is that which has
descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by
the Apostles."[113] A very long exposition of the life of the Gnostic,
the Initiate, is given, and S. Clement concludes it by saying: "Let the
specimen suffice to those who have ears. For it is not required to
unfold the mystery, but only to indicate what is sufficient for those
who are partakers in knowledge to bring it to mind."[114]

Regarding Scripture as consisting of allegories and symbols, and as
hiding the sense in order to stimulate enquiry and to preserve the
ignorant from danger.[115] S. Clement naturally confined the higher
instruction to the learned. "Our Gnostic will be deeply learned,"[116]
he says. "Now the Gnostic must be erudite."[117] Those who had acquired
readiness by previous training could master the deeper knowledge, for
though "a man can be a believer without learning, so also we assert that
it is impossible for a man without learning to comprehend the things
which are declared in the faith."[118] "Some who think themselves
naturally gifted, do not wish to touch either philosophy or logic; nay
more, they do not wish to learn natural science. They demand bare faith
alone.... So also I call him truly learned who brings everything to bear
on the truth--so that, from geometry, and music, and grammar, and
philosophy itself, culling what is useful, he guards the faith against
assault.... How necessary is it for him who desires to be partaker of
the power of God, to treat of intellectual subjects by
philosophising."[119] "The Gnostic avails himself of branches of
learning as auxiliary preparatory exercises."[120] So far was S.
Clement from thinking that the teaching of Christianity should be
measured by the ignorance of the unlearned. "He who is conversant with
all kinds of wisdom will be pre-eminently a Gnostic."[121] Thus while he
welcomed the ignorant and the sinner, and found in the Gospel what was
suited to their needs, he considered that only the learned and the pure
were fit candidates for the Mysteries. "The Apostle, in
contradistinction to Gnostic perfection, calls the common faith _the
foundation_, and sometimes _milk_,"[122] but on that foundation the
edifice of the Gnosis was to be raised, and the food of men was to
succeed that of babes. There is nothing of harshness nor of contempt in
the distinction he draws, but only a calm and wise recognition of the
facts.

Even the well-prepared candidate, the learned and trained pupil, could
only hope to advance step by step in the profound truths unveiled in the
Mysteries. This appears clearly in his comments on the vision of
Hermas, in which he also throws out some hints on methods of reading
occult works. "Did not the Power also, that appeared to Hermas in the
Vision, in the form of the Church, give for transcription the book which
she wished to be made known to the elect? And this, he says, he
transcribed to the letter, without finding how to complete the
syllables. And this signified that the Scripture is clear to all, when
taken according to base reading; and that this is the faith which
occupies the place of the rudiments. Wherefore also the figurative
expression is employed, 'reading according to the letter,' while we
understand that the gnostic unfolding of Scriptures, when faith has
already reached an advanced state, is likened to reading according to
the syllables.... Now that the Saviour has taught the Apostles the
unwritten rendering of the written (scriptures) has been handed down
also to us, inscribed by the power of God on hearts new, according to
the renovation of the book. Thus those of highest repute among the
Greeks dedicate the fruit of the pomegranate to Hermes, who they say is
speech, on account of its interpretation. For speech conceals much....
That it is therefore not only to those who read simply that the
acquisition of the truth is so difficult, but that not even to those
whose prerogative the knowledge of the truth is, is the contemplation of
it vouchsafed all at once, the history of Moses teaches; until
accustomed to gaze, as the Hebrews on the glory of Moses, and the
prophets of Israel on the visions of angels, so we also become able to
look the splendours of truth in the face."[123]

Yet more references might be given, but these should suffice to
establish the fact that S. Clement knew of, had been initiated into, and
wrote for the benefit of those who had also been initiated into, the
Mysteries in the Church.

The next witness is his pupil Origen, that most shining light of
learning, courage, sanctity, devotion, meekness, and zeal, whose works
remain as mines of gold wherein the student may dig for the treasures of
wisdom.

In his famous controversy with Celsus attacks were made on Christianity
which drew out a defence of the Christian position in which frequent
references were made to the secret teachings.[124]

Celsus had alleged, as a matter of attack, that Christianity was a
secret system, and Origen traverses this by saying that while certain
doctrines were secret, many others were public, and that this system of
exoteric and esoteric teachings, adopted in Christianity, was also in
general use among philosophers. The reader should note, in the following
passage, the distinction drawn between the resurrection of Jesus,
regarded in a historical light, and the "mystery of the resurrection."

"Moreover, since he [Celsus] frequently calls the Christian doctrine a
secret system [of belief], we must confute him on this point also, since
almost the entire world is better acquainted with what Christians preach
than with the favourite opinions of philosophers. For who is ignorant
of the statement that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He was
crucified, and that His resurrection is an article of faith among many,
and that a general judgment is announced to come, in which the wicked
are to be punished according to their deserts, and the righteous to be
duly rewarded? And yet the Mystery of the resurrection, not being
understood, is made a subject of ridicule among unbelievers. In these
circumstances, to speak of the Christian doctrine as a _secret_ system,
is altogether absurd. But that there should be certain doctrines, not
made known to the multitude, which are [revealed] after the exoteric
ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but
also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and
others esoteric. Some of the hearers of Pythagoras were content with his
_ipse dixit_; while others were taught in secret those doctrines which
were not deemed fit to be communicated to profane and insufficiently
prepared ears. Moreover, all the Mysteries that are celebrated
everywhere throughout Greece and barbarous countries, although held in
secret, have no discredit thrown upon them, so that it is in vain he
endeavours to calumniate the secret doctrines of Christianity, seeing
that he does not correctly understand its nature."[125]

It is impossible to deny that, in this important passage, Origen
distinctly places the Christian Mysteries in the same category as those
of the Pagan world, and claims that what is not regarded as a discredit
to other religions should not form a subject of attack when found in
Christianity.

Still writing against Celsus, he declares that the secret teachings of
Jesus were preserved in the Church, and refers specifically to the
explanations that He gave to His disciples of His parables, in answering
Celsus' comparison of "the inner Mysteries of the Church of God" with
the Egyptian worship of animals. "I have not yet spoken of the
observance of all that is written in the Gospels, each one of which
contains much doctrine difficult to be understood, not merely by the
multitude, but even by certain of the more intelligent, including a
very profound explanation of the parables which Jesus delivered to
'those without,' while reserving the exhibition of their full meaning
for those who had passed beyond the stage of exoteric teaching, and who
came to Him privately in the house. And when he comes to understand it,
he will admire the reason why some are said to be 'without,' and others
'in the house.'"[126]

And he refers guardedly to the "mountain" which Jesus ascended, from
which he came down again to help "those who were unable to follow Him
whither His disciples went." The allusion is to "the Mountain of
Initiation," a well-known mystical phrase, as Moses also made the
Tabernacle after the pattern "showed thee in the mount."[127] Origen
refers to it again later, saying that Jesus showed himself to be very
different in his real appearance when on the "Mountain," from what those
saw who could not "follow Him on high."[128]

So also, in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Chap, xv., dealing
with the episode of the Syro-Phœnician woman, Origen remarks: "And
perhaps, also, of the words of Jesus there are some loaves which it is
possible to give to the more rational, as to children, only; and others
as it were crumbs from the great house and table of the well-born, which
may be used by some souls like dogs."

Celsus complaining that sinners were brought into the Church, Origen
answers that the Church had medicine for those that were sick, but also
the study and the knowledge of divine things for those who were in
health. Sinners were taught not to sin, and only when it was seen that
progress had been made, and men were "purified by the Word," "then and
not before do we invite them to participation in our Mysteries. For we
speak wisdom among them that are perfect."[129] Sinners came to be
healed: "For there are in the divinity of the Word some helps towards
the cure of those who are sick.... Others, again, which to the pure in
soul and body exhibit the 'revelation of the Mystery, which was kept
secret since the world began, but now is made manifest by the Scriptures
of the prophets,' and 'by the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,' which
'appearing' is manifested to each one of those who are perfect, and
which enlightens the reason in the true knowledge of things."[130] Such
appearances of divine Beings took place, we have seen, in the Pagan
Mysteries, and those of the Church had equally glorious visitants. "God
the Word," he says, "was sent as a physician to sinners, but as a
Teacher of Divine Mysteries to those who are already pure, and who sin
no more."[131] "Wisdom will not enter into the soul of a base man, nor
dwell in a body that is involved in sin;" hence these higher teachings
are given only to those who are "athletes in piety and in every virtue."

Christians did not admit the impure to this knowledge, but said:
"Whoever has clean hands, and, therefore, lifts up holy hands to God ...
let him come to us ... whoever is pure not only from all defilement,
but from what are regarded as lesser transgressions, let him be boldly
initiated in the Mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only
to the holy and the pure." Hence also, ere the ceremony of Initiation
began, he who acts as Initiator, according to the precepts of Jesus, the
Hierophant, made the significant proclamation "to those who have been
purified in heart: He, whose soul has, for a long time, been conscious
of no evil, especially since he yielded himself to the healing of the
Word, let such a one hear the doctrines which were spoken in private by
Jesus to His genuine disciples." This was the opening of the "initiating
those who were already purified into the sacred Mysteries."[132] Such
only might learn the realities of the unseen worlds, and might enter
into the sacred precincts where, as of old, angels were the teachers,
and where knowledge was given by sight and not only by words. It is
impossible not to be struck with the different tone of these Christians
from that of their modern successors. With them perfect purity of life,
the practice of virtue, the fulfilling of the divine Law in every detail
of outer conduct, the perfection of righteousness, were--as with the
Pagans--only the beginning of the way instead of the end. Nowadays
religion is considered to have gloriously accomplished its object when
it has made the Saint; then, it was to the Saints that it devoted its
highest energies, and, taking the pure in heart, it led them to the
Beatific Vision.

The same fact of secret teaching comes out again, when Origen is
discussing the arguments of Celsus as to the wisdom of retaining
ancestral customs, based on the belief that "the various quarters of the
earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending
Spirits, and were thus distributed among certain governing Powers, and
in this way the administration of the world is carried on."[133]

Origen having animadverted on the deductions of Celsus, proceeds: "But
as we think it likely that some of those who are accustomed to deeper
investigation will fall in with this treatise, let us venture to lay
down some considerations of a profounder kind, conveying a mystical and
secret view respecting the original distribution of the various quarters
of the earth among different superintending Spirits."[134] He says that
Celsus has misunderstood the deeper reasons relating to the arrangement
of terrestrial affairs, some of which are even touched upon in Grecian
history. Then he quotes Deut. xxxii. 8-9: "When the Most High divided
the nations, when he dispersed the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of
the people according to the number of the Angels of God; and the Lord's
portion was his people Jacob, and Israel the cord of his inheritance."
This is the wording of the Septuagint, not that of the English
authorised version, but it is very suggestive of the title the "Lord"
being regarded as that of the Ruling Angel of the Jews only, and not of
the "Most High," _i.e._ God. This view has disappeared, from ignorance,
and hence the impropriety of many of the statements referring to the
"Lord," when they are transferred to the "Most High," _e.g._ Judges i.
19.

Origen then relates the history of the Tower of Babel, and continues:
"But on these subjects much, and that of a mystical kind, might be said;
in keeping with which is the following: 'It is good to keep close the
secret of a king,' Tobit xii. 7, in order that the doctrine of the
entrance of souls into bodies (not, however, that of the transmigration
from one body into another) may not be thrown before the common
understanding, nor what is holy given to the dogs, nor pearls be cast
before swine. For such a procedure would be impious, being equivalent to
a betrayal of the mysterious declarations of God's wisdom.... It is
sufficient, however, to represent in the style of a historic narrative
what is intended to convey a secret meaning in the garb of history, that
those who have the capacity may work out for themselves all that relates
to the subject."[135] He then expounds more fully the Tower of Babel
story, and writes: "Now, in the next place, if any one has the capacity
let him understand that in what assumes the form of history, and which
contains some things that are literally true, while yet it conveys a
deeper meaning...."[136]

After endeavouring to show that the "Lord" was more powerful than the
other superintending Spirits of the different quarters of the earth, and
that he sent his people forth to be punished by living under the
dominion of the other powers, and afterwards reclaimed them with all of
the less favoured nations who could be drawn in, Origen concludes by
saying: "As we have previously observed, these remarks are to be
understood as being made by us with a concealed meaning, by way of
pointing out the mistakes of those who assert ..."[137] as did Celsus.

After remarking that "the object of Christianity is that we should
become wise,"[138] Origen proceeds: "If you come to the books written
after the time of Jesus, you will find that those multitudes of
believers who hear the parables are, as it were, 'without,' and worthy
only of exoteric doctrines, while the disciples learn in private the
explanation of the parables. For, privately, to His own disciples did
Jesus open up all things, esteeming above the multitudes those who
desired to know His wisdom. And He promises to those who believe on Him
to send them wise men and scribes.... And Paul also in the catalogue of
'Charismata' bestowed by God, placed first 'the Word of wisdom,' and
second, as being inferior to it, 'the word of knowledge,' but third, and
lower down, 'faith.' And because he regarded 'the Word' as higher than
miraculous powers, he for that reason places 'workings of miracles' and
'gifts of healings' in a lower place than gifts of the Word."[139]

The Gospel truly helped the ignorant, "but it is no hindrance to the
knowledge of God, but an assistance, to have been educated, and to have
studied the best opinions, and to be wise."[140] As for the
unintelligent, "I endeavour to improve such also to the best of my
ability, although I would not desire to build up the Christian community
out of such materials. For I seek in preference those who are more
clever and acute, because they are able to comprehend the meaning of the
hard sayings."[141] Here we have plainly stated the ancient Christian
idea, entirely at one with the considerations submitted in Chapter I. of
this book. There is room for the ignorant in Christianity, but it is not
intended _only_ for them, and has deep teachings for the "clever and
acute."

It is for these that he takes much pains to show that the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures have hidden meanings, veiled under stories the
outer meaning of which repels them as absurd, alluding to the serpent
and the tree of life, and "the other statements which follow, which
might of themselves lead a candid reader to see that all these things
had, not inappropriately, an allegorical meaning."[142] Many chapters
are devoted to these allegorical and mystical meanings, hidden beneath
the words of the Old and New Testaments, and he alleges that Moses, like
the Egyptians, gave histories with concealed meanings.[143] "He who
deals candidly with histories"--this is Origen's general canon of
interpretation--"and would wish to keep himself also from being imposed
on by them, will exercise his judgment as to what statements he will
give his assent to, and what he will accept figuratively, seeking to
discover the meaning of the authors of such inventions, and from what
statements he will withhold his beliefs, as having been written for the
gratification of certain individuals. And we have said this by way of
anticipation respecting the whole history related in the Gospels
concerning Jesus."[144] A great part of his Fourth Book is taken up with
illustrations of the mystical explanations of the Scripture stories, and
anyone who wishes to pursue the subject can read through it.

In the _De Principiis_, Origen gives it as the received teaching of the
Church "that the Scriptures were written by the Spirit of God, and have
a meaning, not only such as is apparent at first sight, but also
another, which escapes the notice of most. For those [words] which are
written are the forms of certain Mysteries, and the images of divine
things. Respecting which there is one opinion throughout the whole
Church, that the whole law is indeed spiritual; but that the spiritual
meaning which the law conveys is not known to all, but to those only on
whom the grace of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in the word of wisdom and
knowledge."[145] Those who remember what has already been quoted will
see in the "Word of wisdom" and "the word of knowledge" the two typical
mystical instructions, the spiritual and the intellectual.

In the Fourth Book of _De Principiis_, Origen explains at length his
views on the interpretation of Scripture. It has a "body," which is the
"common and historical sense"; a "soul," a figurative meaning to be
discovered by the exercise of the intellect; and a "spirit," an inner
and divine sense, to be known only by those who have "the mind of
Christ." He considers that incongruous and impossible things are
introduced into the history to arouse an intelligent reader, and compel
him to search for a deeper explanation, while simple people would read
on without appreciating the difficulties.[146]

Cardinal Newman, in his _Arians of the Fourth Century_, has some
interesting remarks on the _Disciplina Arcani_, but, with the
deeply-rooted ingrained scepticism of the nineteenth century, he cannot
believe to the full in the "riches of the glory of the Mystery," or
probably never for a moment conceived the possibility of the existence
of such splendid realities. Yet he was a believer in Jesus, and the
words of the promise of Jesus were clear and definite: "I will not leave
you comfortless; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world
seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At
that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in
you."[147] The promise was amply redeemed, for He came to them and
taught them in His Mysteries; therein they saw Him, though the world saw
Him no more, and they knew the Christ as in them, and their life as
Christ's.

Cardinal Newman recognises a secret tradition, handed down from the
Apostles, but he considers that it consisted of Christian doctrines,
later divulged, forgetting that those who were told that they were not
yet fit to receive it were not heathen, nor even catechumens under
instruction, but full communicating members of the Christian Church.
Thus he states that this secret tradition was later "authoritatively
divulged and perpetuated in the form of symbols," and was embodied "in
the creeds of the early Councils."[148] But as the doctrines in the
creeds are to be found clearly stated in the Gospels and Epistles, this
position is wholly untenable, all these having been already divulged to
the world at large; and in all of them the members of the Church were
certainly thoroughly instructed. The repeated statements as to secrecy
become meaningless if thus explained. The Cardinal, however, says that
whatever "has not been thus authenticated, whether it was prophetical
information or comment on the past dispensations, is, from the
circumstances of the case, lost to the Church."[149] That is very
probably, in fact certainly, true, so far as the Church is concerned,
but it is none the less recoverable.

Commenting on Irenæus, who in his work _Against Heresies_ lays much
stress on the existence of an Apostolic Tradition in the Church, the
Cardinal writes: "He then proceeds to speak of the clearness and cogency
of the traditions preserved in the Church, as containing that true
wisdom of the perfect, of which S. Paul speaks, and to which the
Gnostics pretended. And, indeed, without formal proofs of the existence
and the authority in primitive times of an Apostolic Tradition, it is
plain that there must have been such a tradition, granting that the
Apostles conversed, and their friends had memories, like other men. It
is quite inconceivable that they should not have been led to arrange
the series of revealed doctrines more systematically than they record
them in Scripture, as soon as their converts became exposed to the
attacks and misrepresentations of heretics; unless they were forbidden
to do so, a supposition which cannot be maintained. Their statements
thus occasioned would be preserved as a matter of course; together with
those other secret but less important truths, to which S. Paul seems to
allude, and which the early writers more or less acknowledge, whether
concerning the types of the Jewish Church, or the prospective fortunes
of the Christian. And such recollections of apostolical teaching would
evidently be binding on the faith of those who were instructed in them;
unless it can be supposed that, though coming from inspired teachers,
they were not of divine origin."[150] In a part of the section dealing
with the allegorising method, he writes in reference to the sacrifice of
Isaac, &c., as "typical of the New Testament revelation": "In
corroboration of this remark, let it be observed, that there seems to
have been[151] in the Church a traditionary explanation of these
historical types, derived from the Apostles, but kept among the secret
doctrines, as being dangerous to the majority of hearers; and certainly
S. Paul, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, affords us an instance of such a
tradition, both as existing and as secret (even though it be shown to be
of Jewish origin), when, first checking himself and questioning his
brethren's faith, he communicates, not without hesitation, the
evangelical scope of the account of Melchisedec, as introduced into the
book of Genesis."[152]

The social and political convulsions that accompanied its dying now
began to torture the vast frame of the Roman Empire, and even the
Christians were caught up in the whirlpool of selfish warring interests.
We still find scattered references to special knowledge imparted to the
leaders and teachers of the Church, knowledge of the heavenly
hierarchies, instructions given by angels, and so on. But the lack of
suitable pupils caused the Mysteries to be withdrawn as an institution
publicly known to exist, and teaching was given more and more secretly
to those rarer and rarer souls, who by learning, purity, and devotion
showed themselves capable of receiving it. No longer were schools to be
found wherein the preliminary teachings were given, and with the
disappearance of these the "door was shut."

Two streams may nevertheless be tracked through Christendom, streams
which had as their source the vanished Mysteries. One was the stream of
mystic learning, flowing from the Wisdom, the Gnosis, imparted in the
Mysteries; the other was the stream of mystic contemplation, equally
part of the Gnosis, leading to the exstasy, to spiritual vision. This
latter, however, divorced from knowledge, rarely attained the true
exstasis, and tended either to run riot in the lower regions of the
invisible worlds, or to lose itself amid a variegated crowd of subtle
superphysical forms, visible as objective appearances to the inner
vision--prematurely forced by fastings, vigils, and strained
attention--but mostly born of the thoughts and emotions of the seer.
Even when the forms observed were not externalised thoughts, they were
seen through a distorting atmosphere of preconceived ideas and beliefs,
and were thus rendered largely unreliable. None the less, some of the
visions were verily of heavenly things, and Jesus truly appeared from
time to time to His devoted lovers, and angels would sometimes brighten
with their presence the cell of monk and nun, the solitude of rapt
devotee and patient seeker after God. To deny the possibility of such
experiences would be to strike at the very root of that "which has been
most surely believed" in all religions, and is known to all
Occultists--the intercommunication between Spirits veiled in flesh and
those clad in subtler vestures, the touching of mind with mind across
the barriers of matter, the unfolding of the Divinity in man, the sure
knowledge of a life beyond the gates of death.

Glancing down the centuries we find no time in which Christendom was
left wholly devoid of mysteries. "It was probably about the end of the
5th century, just as ancient philosophy was dying out in the Schools of
Athens, that the speculative philosophy of neo-Platonism made a definite
lodgment in Christian thought through the literary forgeries of the
Pseudo-Dionysius. The doctrines of Christianity were by that time so
firmly established that the Church could look upon a symbolical or
mystical interpretation of them without anxiety. The author of the
_Theologica Mystica_ and the other works ascribed to the Areopagite
proceeds, therefore, to develop the doctrines of Proclus with very
little modification into a system of esoteric Christianity. God is the
nameless and supra-essential One, elevated above goodness itself. Hence
'negative theology,' which ascends from the creature to God by dropping
one after another every determinate predicate, leads us nearest to the
truth. The return to God is the consummation of all things and the goal
indicated by Christian teaching. The same doctrines were preached with
more of churchly fervour by Maximus the Confessor (580-622). Maximus
represents almost the last speculative activity of the Greek Church, but
the influence of the Pseudo-Dionysian writing was transmitted to the
West in the ninth century by Erigena, in whose speculative spirit both
the scholasticism and the mysticism of the Middle Ages have their rise.
Erigena translated Dionysius into Latin along with the commentaries of
Maximus, and his system is essentially based upon theirs. The negative
theology is adopted, and God is stated to be predicateless Being, above
all categories, and therefore not improperly called Nothing [_query_,
No-Thing]. Out of this Nothing or incomprehensible essence the world of
ideas or primordial causes is eternally created. This is the Word or Son
of God, in whom all things exist, so far as they have substantial
existence. All existence is a theophany, and as God is the beginning of
all things, so also is He the end. Erigena teaches the restitution of
all things under the form of the Dionysian _adunatio_ or _deificatio_.
These are the permanent outlines of what may be called the philosophy
of mysticism in Christian times, and it is remarkable with how little
variation they are repeated from age to age."[153]

In the eleventh century Bernard of Clairvaux (A.D. 1091-1153) and Hugo
of S. Victor carry on the mystic tradition, with Richard of S. Victor in
the following century, and S. Bonaventura the Seraphic Doctor, and the
great S. Thomas Aquinas (A.D. 1227-1274) in the thirteenth. Thomas
Aquinas dominates the Europe of the Middle Ages, by his force of
character no less than by his learning and piety. He asserts
"Revelation" as one source of knowledge, Scripture and tradition being
the two channels in which it runs, and the influence, seen in his
writings, of the Pseudo-Dionysius links him to the Neo-Platonists. The
second source is Reason, and here the channels are the Platonic
philosophy and the methods of Aristotle--the latter an alliance that did
Christianity no good, for Aristotle became an obstacle to the advance of
the higher thought, as was made manifest in the struggles of Giordano
Bruno, the Pythagorean. Thomas Aquinas was canonised in A.D. 1323, and
the great Dominican remains as a type of the union of theology and
philosophy--the aim of his life. These belong to the great Church of
western Europe, vindicating her claim to be regarded as the transmitter
of the holy torch of mystic learning. Around her there also sprang up
many sects, deemed heretical, yet containing true traditions of the
sacred secret learning, the Cathari and many others, persecuted by a
Church jealous of her authority, and fearing lest the holy pearls should
pass into profane custody. In this century also S. Elizabeth of Hungary
shines out with sweetness and purity, while Eckhart (A.D. 1260-1329)
proves himself a worthy inheritor of the Alexandrian Schools. Eckhart
taught that "The Godhead is the absolute Essence (Wesen), unknowable not
only by man but also by Itself; It is darkness and absolute
indeterminateness, _Nicht_ in contrast to _Icht_, or definite and
knowable existence. Yet It is the potentiality of all things, and Its
nature is, in a triadic process, to come to consciousness of Itself as
the triune God. Creation is not a temporal act, but an eternal
necessity, of the divine nature. I am as necessary to God, Eckhart is
fond of saying, as God is necessary to me. In my knowledge and love God
knows and loves Himself."[154]

Eckhart is followed, in the fourteenth century, by John Tauler, and
Nicolas of Basel, "the Friend of God in the Oberland." From these sprang
up the Society of the Friends of God, true mystics and followers of the
old tradition. Mead remarks that Thomas Aquinas, Tauler, and Eckhart
followed the Pseudo-Dionysius, who followed Plotinus, Iamblichus, and
Proclus, who in turn followed Plato and Pythagoras.[155] So linked
together are the followers of the Wisdom in all ages. It was probably a
"Friend" who was the author of _Die Deutsche Theologie_, a book of
mystical devotion, which had the curious fortune of being approved by
Staupitz, the Vicar-General of the Augustinian Order, who recommended it
to Luther, and by Luther himself, who published it A.D. 1516, as a book
which should rank immediately after the _Bible_ and the writings of S.
Augustine of Hippo. Another "Friend" was Ruysbroeck, to whose influence
with Groot was due the founding of the Brethren of the Common Lot or
Common Life--a Society that must remain ever memorable, as it numbered
among its members that prince of mystics, Thomas à Kempis (A.D.
1380-1471), the author of the immortal _Imitation of Christ_.

In the fifteenth century the more purely intellectual side of mysticism
comes out more strongly than the exstatic--so dominant in these
societies of the fourteenth--and we have Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa, with
Giordano Bruno, the martyred knight-errant of philosophy, and
Paracelsus, the much slandered scientist, who drew his knowledge
directly from the original eastern fountain, instead of through Greek
channels.

The sixteenth century saw the birth of Jacob Böhme (A.D. 1575-1624), the
"inspired cobbler," an Initiate in obscuration truly, sorely persecuted
by unenlightened men; and then too came S. Teresa, the much-oppressed
and suffering Spanish mystic; and S. John of the Cross, a burning flame
of intense devotion; and S. Francois de Sales. Wise was Rome in
canonising these, wiser than the Reformation that persecuted Böhme, but
the spirit of the Reformation was ever intensely anti-mystical, and
wherever its breath hath passed the fair flowers of mysticism have
withered as under the sirocco.

Rome, however, who, though she canonised Teresa dead, had sorely harried
her while living--did ill with Mme. de Guyon (A.D. 1648-1717), a true
mystic, and with Miguel de Molinos (1627-1696), worthy to sit near S.
John of the Cross, who carried on in the seventeenth century the high
devotion of the mystic, turned into a peculiarly passive form--the
Quietist.

In this same century arose the school of Platonists in Cambridge, of
whom Henry More (A.D. 1614-1687) may serve as salient example; also
Thomas Vaughan, and Robert Fludd the Rosicrucian; and there is formed
also the Philadelphian Society, and we see William Law (A.D. 1686-1761)
active in the eighteenth century, and overlapping S. Martin (A.D.
1743-1803), whose writings have fascinated so many nineteenth century
students.[156]

Nor should we omit Christian Rosenkreutz (d. A.D. 1484), whose mystic
Society of the Rosy Cross, appearing in 1614, held true knowledge, and
whose spirit was reborn in the "Comte de S. Germain," the mysterious
figure that appears and disappears through the gloom, lit by lurid
flashes, of the closing eighteenth century. Mystics too were some of the
Quakers, the much-persecuted sect of Friends, seeking the illumination
of the Inner Light, and listening ever for the Inner Voice. And many
another mystic was there, "of whom the world was not worthy," like the
wholly delightful and wise Mother Juliana of Norwich, of the fourteenth
century, jewels of Christendom, too little known, but justifying
Christianity to the world.

Yet, as we salute reverently these Children of the Light, scattered over
the centuries, we are forced to recognise in them the absence of that
union of acute intellect and high devotion which were welded together by
the training of the Mysteries, and while we marvel that they soared so
high, we cannot but wish that their rare gifts had been developed under
that magnificent _disciplina arcani_.

Alphonse Louis Constant, better known under his pseudonym, Eliphas Lévi,
has put rather well the loss of the Mysteries, and the need for their
re-institution. "A great misfortune befell Christianity. The betrayal of
the Mysteries by the false Gnostics--for the Gnostics, that is, _those
who know_, were the Initiates of primitive Christianity--caused the
Gnosis to be rejected, and alienated the Church from the supreme truths
of the Kabbala, which contain all the secrets of transcendental
theology.... Let the most absolute science, let the highest reason,
become once more the patrimony of the leaders of the people; let the
sacerdotal art and the royal art take the double sceptre of antique
initiations, and the social world will once more issue from its chaos.
Burn the holy images no longer; demolish the temples no more; temples
and images are necessary for men; but drive the hirelings from the house
of prayer; let the blind be no longer leaders of the blind, reconstruct
the hierarchy of intelligence and holiness, and recognise only those who
know as the teachers of those who believe."[157]

Will the Churches of to-day again take up the mystic teaching, the
Lesser Mysteries, and so prepare their children for the re-establishment
of the Greater Mysteries, again drawing down the Angels as Teachers, and
having as Hierophant the Divine Master, Jesus? On the answer to that
question depends the future of Christianity.



CHAPTER IV.

THE HISTORICAL CHRIST.


We have already spoken, in the first chapter, on the identities existing
in all the religions of the world, and we have seen that out of a study
of these identities in beliefs, symbolisms, rites, ceremonies,
histories, and commemorative festivals, has arisen a modern school which
relates the whole of these to a common source in human ignorance, and in
a primitive explanation of natural phenomena. From these identities have
been drawn weapons for the stabbing of each religion in turn, and the
most effective attacks on Christianity and on the historical existence
of its Founder have been armed from this source. On entering now on the
study of the life of the Christ, of the rites of Christianity, its
sacraments, its doctrines, it would be fatal to ignore the facts
marshalled by Comparative Mythologists. Rightly understood, they may be
made serviceable instead of mischievous. We have seen that the Apostles
and their successors dealt very freely with the Old Testament as having
an allegorical and mystic sense far more important than the historical,
though by no means negating it, and that they did not scruple to teach
the instructed believer that some of the stories that were apparently
historical were really purely allegorical. Nowhere, perhaps, is it more
necessary to understand this than when we are studying the story of
Jesus, surnamed the Christ, for when we do not disentangle the
intertwisted threads, and see where symbols have been taken as events,
allegories as histories, we lose most of the instructiveness of the
narrative and much of its rarest beauty. We cannot too much insist on
the fact that Christianity gains, it does not lose, when knowledge is
added to faith and virtue, according to the apostolic injunction.[158]
Men fear that Christianity will be weakened when reason studies it, and
that it is "dangerous" to admit that events thought to be historical
have the deeper significance of the mythical or mystical meaning. It is,
on the contrary, strengthened, and the student finds, with joy, that the
pearl of great price shines with a purer, clearer lustre when the
coating of ignorance is removed and its many colours are seen.

There are two schools of thought at the present time, bitterly opposed
to each other, who dispute over the story of the great Hebrew Teacher.
According to one school there is nothing at all in the accounts of His
life save myths and legends--myths and legends that were given as
explanations of certain natural phenomena, survivals of a pictorial way
of teaching certain facts of nature, of impressing on the minds of the
uneducated certain grand classifications of natural events that were
important in themselves, and that lent themselves to moral instruction.
Those who endorse this view form a well-defined school to which belong
many men of high education and strong intelligence, and round them
gather crowds of the less instructed, who emphasise with crude
vehemence the more destructive elements in their pronouncements. This
school is opposed by that of the believers in orthodox Christianity, who
declare that the whole story of Jesus is history, unadulterated by
legend or myth. They maintain that this history is nothing more than the
history of the life of a man born some nineteen centuries ago in
Palestine, who passed through all the experiences set down in the
Gospels, and they deny that the story has any significance beyond that
of a divine and human life. These two schools stand in direct
antagonism, one asserting that everything is legend, the other declaring
that everything is history. Between them lie many phases of opinion
generally labelled "freethinking," which regard the life-story as partly
legendary and partly historical, but offer no definite and rational
method of interpretation, no adequate explanation of the complex whole.
And we also find, within the limits of the Christian Church, a large and
ever-increasing number of faithful and devout Christians of refined
intelligence, men and women who are earnest in their faith and
religious in their aspirations, but who see in the Gospel story more
than the history of a single divine Man. They allege--defending their
position from the received Scriptures--that the story of the Christ has
a deeper and more significant meaning than lies on the surface; while
they maintain the historical character of Jesus, they at the same time
declare that THE CHRIST is more than the man Jesus, and has a mystical
meaning. In support of this contention they point to such phrases as
that used by S. Paul: "My little children, of whom I travail in birth
again again until Christ be formed in you";[159] here S. Paul obviously
cannot refer to a historical Jesus, but to some forthputting from the
human soul which is to him the shaping of Christ therein. Again the same
teacher declares that though he had known Christ after the flesh yet
from henceforth he would know him thus no more;[160] obviously implying
that while he recognised the Christ of the flesh--Jesus--there was a
higher view to which he had attained which threw into the shade the
historical Christ. This is the view which many are seeking in our own
days, and--faced by the facts of Comparative Religion, puzzled by the
contradictions of the Gospels, confused by problems they cannot solve so
long as they are tied down to the mere surface meanings of their
Scripture--they cry despairingly that the letter killeth while the
spirit giveth life, and seek to trace some deep and wide significance in
a story which is as old as the religions of the world, and has always
served as the very centre and life of every religion in which it has
reappeared. These struggling thinkers, too unrelated and indefinite to
be spoken of as forming a school, seem to stretch out a hand on one side
to those who think that all is legend, asking them to accept a
historical basis; on the other side they say to their fellow Christians
that there is a growing danger lest, in clinging to a literal and unique
meaning, which cannot be defended before the increasing knowledge of the
day, the spiritual meaning should be entirely lost. There is a danger of
losing "the story of the Christ," with that thought of the Christ which
has been the support and inspiration of millions of noble lives in East
and West, though the Christ be called by other names and worshipped
under other forms; a danger lest the pearl of great price should escape
from our hold, and man be left the poorer for evermore.

What is needed, in order that this danger may be averted, is to
disentangle the different threads in the story of the Christ, and to lay
them side by side--the thread of history, the thread of legend, the
thread of mysticism. These have been intertwined into a single strand,
to the great loss of the thoughtful, and in disentangling them we shall
find that the story becomes more, not less, valuable as knowledge is
added to it, and that here, as in all that is basically of the truth,
the brighter the light thrown upon it the greater the beauty that is
revealed.

We will study first the historical Christ; secondly, the mythic Christ;
thirdly, the mystic Christ. And we shall find that elements drawn from
all these make up the Jesus Christ of the Churches. They all enter into
the composition of the grandiose and pathetic Figure which dominates the
thoughts and the emotions of Christendom, the Man of Sorrows, the
Saviour, the Lover and Lord of Men.


THE HISTORICAL CHRIST, OR JESUS THE HEALER AND TEACHER.

The thread of the life-story of Jesus is one which may be disentangled
from those with which it is intertwined without any great difficulty. We
may fairly here aid our study by reference to those records of the past
which experts can reverify for themselves, and from which certain
details regarding the Hebrew Teacher have been given to the world by H.
P. Blavatsky and by others who are experts in occult investigation. Now
in the minds of many there is apt to arise a challenge when this word
"expert" is used in connection with occultism. Yet it only means a
person who by special study, by special training, has accumulated a
special kind of knowledge, and has developed powers that enable him to
give an opinion founded on his own individual knowledge of the subject
with which he is dealing. Just as we speak of Huxley as an expert in
biology, as we speak of a Senior Wrangler as an expert in mathematics,
or of Lyell as an expert in geology, so we may fairly call a man an
expert in occultism who has first mastered intellectually certain
fundamental theories of the constitution of man and the universe, and
secondly has developed within himself the powers that are latent in
everyone--and are capable of being developed by those who give
themselves to appropriate studies--capacities which enable him to
examine for himself the more obscure processes of nature. As a man may
be born with a mathematical faculty, and by training that faculty year
after year may immensely increase his mathematical capacity, so may a
man be born with certain faculties within him, faculties belonging to
the Soul, which he can develop by training and by discipline. When,
having developed those faculties, he applies them to the study of the
invisible world, such a man becomes an expert in Occult Science, and
such a man can at his will reverify the records to which I have
referred. Such reverification is as much out of the reach of the
ordinary person as a mathematical book written in the symbols of the
higher mathematics is out of the reach of those who are untrained in
mathematical science. There is nothing exclusive in the knowledge save
as every science is exclusive; those who are born with a faculty, and
train the faculty, can master its appropriate science, while those who
start in life without any faculty, or those who do not develop it if
they have it, must be content to remain in ignorance. These are the
rules everywhere of the obtaining of knowledge, in Occultism as in every
other science.

The occult records partly endorse the story told in the Gospels, and
partly do not endorse it; they show us the life, and thus enable us to
disentangle it from the myths which are intertwined therewith.

The child whose Jewish name has been turned into that of Jesus was born
in Palestine B.C. 105, during the consulate of Publius Rutilius Rufus
and Gnaeus Mallius Maximus. His parents were well-born though poor, and
he was educated in a knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. His fervent
devotion and a gravity beyond his years led his parents to dedicate him
to the religious and ascetic life, and soon after a visit to Jerusalem,
in which the extraordinary intelligence and eagerness for knowledge of
the youth were shown in his seeking of the doctors in the Temple, he was
sent to be trained in an Essene community in the southern Judæan desert.
When he had reached the age of nineteen he went on to the Essene
monastery near Mount Serbal, a monastery which was much visited by
learned men travelling from Persia and India to Egypt, and where a
magnificent library of occult works--many of them Indian of the
Trans-Himâlayan regions--had been established. From this seat of mystic
learning he proceeded later to Egypt. He had been fully instructed in
the secret teachings which were the real fount of life among the
Essenes, and was initiated in Egypt as a disciple of that one sublime
Lodge from which every great religion has its Founder. For Egypt has
remained one of the world-centres of the true Mysteries, whereof all
semi-public Mysteries are the faint and far-off reflections. The
Mysteries spoken of in history as Egyptian were the shadows of the true
things "in the Mount," and there the young Hebrew received the solemn
consecration which prepared him for the Royal Priesthood he was later to
attain. So superhumanly pure and so full of devotion was he, that in his
gracious manhood he stood out pre-eminently from the severe and somewhat
fanatical ascetics among whom he had been trained, shedding on the stern
Jews around him the fragrance of a gentle and tender wisdom, as a
rose-tree strangely planted in a desert would shed its sweetness on the
barrenness around. The fair and stately grace of his white purity was
round him as a radiant moonlit halo, and his words, though few, were
ever sweet and loving, winning even the most harsh to a temporary
gentleness, and the most rigid to a passing softness. Thus he lived
through nine-and-twenty years of mortal life, growing from grace to
grace.

This superhuman purity and devotion fitted the man Jesus, the disciple,
to become the temple of a loftier Power, of a mighty, indwelling
Presence. The time had come for one of those Divine manifestations which
from age to age are made for the helping of humanity, when a new impulse
is needed to quicken the spiritual evolution of mankind, when a new
civilisation is about to dawn. The world of the West was then in the
womb of time, ready for the birth, and the Teutonic sub-race was to
catch the sceptre of empire falling from the failing hands of Rome. Ere
it started on its journey a World-Saviour must appear, to stand in
blessing beside the cradle of the infant Hercules.

A mighty "Son of God" was to take flesh upon earth, a supreme Teacher,
"full of grace and truth"--[161] One in whom the Divine Wisdom abode in
fullest measure, who was verily "the Word" incarnate, Light and Life in
outpouring richness, a very Fountain of the Waters of Life. Lord of
Compassion and of Wisdom--such was His name--and from His dwelling in
the Secret Places He came forth into the world of men.

For Him was needed an earthly tabernacle, a human form, the body of a
man, and who so fit to yield his body in glad and willing service to One
before whom Angels and men bow down in lowliest reverence, as this
Hebrew of the Hebrews, this purest and noblest of "the Perfect," whose
spotless body and stainless mind offered the best that humanity could
bring? The man Jesus yielded himself a willing sacrifice, "offered
himself without spot" to the Lord of Love, who took unto Himself that
pure form as tabernacle, and dwelt therein for three years of mortal
life.

This epoch is marked in the traditions embodied in the Gospels as that
of the Baptism of Jesus, when the Spirit was seen "descending from
heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him,"[162] and a celestial voice
proclaimed Him as the beloved Son, to whom men should give ear. Truly
was He the beloved Son in whom the Father was well-pleased,[163] and
from that time forward "Jesus began to preach,"[164] and was that
wondrous mystery, "God manifest in the flesh"[165]--not unique in that
He was God, for: "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are Gods? If
he called them Gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture
cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified and
sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of
God?"[166] Truly all men are Gods, in respect to the Spirit within them,
but not in all is the Godhead manifested, as in that well-beloved Son of
the Most High.

To that manifested Presence the name of "the Christ" may rightly be
given, and it was He who lived and moved in the form of the man Jesus
over the hills and plains of Palestine, teaching, healing diseases, and
gathering round Him as disciples a few of the more advanced souls. The
rare charm of His royal love, outpouring from Him as rays from a sun,
drew round Him the suffering, the weary, and the oppressed, and the
subtly tender magic of His gentle wisdom purified, ennobled, and
sweetened the lives that came into contact with His own. By parable and
luminous imagery He taught the uninstructed crowds who pressed around
Him, and, using the powers of the free Spirit, He healed many a disease
by word or touch, reinforcing the magnetic energies belonging to His
pure body with the compelling force of His inner life. Rejected by His
Essene brethren among whom He first laboured--whose arguments against
His purposed life of loving labour are summarised in the story of the
temptation--because he carried to the people the spiritual wisdom that
they regarded as their proudest and most secret treasure, and because
His all-embracing love drew within its circle the outcast and the
degraded--ever loving in the lowest as in the highest the Divine
Self--He saw gathering round Him all too quickly the dark clouds of
hatred and suspicion. The teachers and rulers of His nation soon came to
eye Him with jealousy and anger; His spirituality was a constant
reproach to their materialism, His power a constant, though silent,
exposure of their weakness. Three years had scarcely passed since His
baptism when the gathering storm outbroke, and the human body of Jesus
paid the penalty for enshrining the glorious Presence of a Teacher more
than man.

The little band of chosen disciples whom He had selected as repositories
of His teachings were thus deprived of their Master's physical presence
ere they had assimilated His instructions, but they were souls of high
and advanced type, ready to learn the Wisdom, and fit to hand it on to
lesser men. Most receptive of all was that "disciple whom Jesus loved,"
young, eager, and fervid, profoundly devoted to his Master, and sharing
His spirit of all-embracing love. He represented, through the century
that followed the physical departure of the Christ, the spirit of mystic
devotion that sought the exstasis, the vision of and the union with the
Divine, while the later great Apostle, S. Paul, represented the wisdom
side of the Mysteries.

The Master did not forget His promise to come to them after the world
had lost sight of Him,[167] and for something over fifty years He
visited them in His subtle spiritual body, continuing the teachings He
had begun while with them, and training them in a knowledge of occult
truths. They lived together, for the most part, in a retired spot on the
outskirts of Judæa, attracting no attention among the many apparently
similar communities of the time, studying the profound truths He taught
them and acquiring "the gifts of the Spirit."

These inner instructions, commenced during His physical life among them
and carried on after He had left the body, formed the basis of the
"Mysteries of Jesus," which we have seen in early Church History, and
gave the inner life which was the nucleus round which gathered the
heterogeneous materials which formed ecclesiastical Christianity.

In the remarkable fragment called the _Pistis Sophia_, we have a
document of the greatest interest bearing on the hidden teaching,
written by the famous Valentinus. In this it is said that during the
eleven years immediately after His death Jesus instructed His disciples
so far as "the regions of the first statutes only, and up to the regions
of the first mystery, the mystery within the veil."[168] They had not so
far learned the distribution of the angelic orders, of part whereof
Ignatius speaks.[169] Then Jesus, being "in the Mount" with His
disciples, and having received His mystic Vesture, the knowledge of all
the regions and the Words of Power which unlocked them, taught His
disciples further, promising: "I will perfect you in every perfection,
from the mysteries of the interior to the mysteries of the exterior: I
will fill you with the Spirit, so that ye shall be called spiritual,
perfect in all perfections."[170] And He taught them of Sophia, the
Wisdom, and of her fall into matter in her attempt to rise unto the
Highest, and of her cries to the Light in which she had trusted, and of
the sending of Jesus to redeem her from chaos, and of her crowning with
His light, and leading forth from bondage. And He told them further of
the highest Mystery the ineffable, the simplest and clearest of all,
though the highest, to be known by him alone who utterly renounced the
world;[171] by that knowledge men became Christs for such "men are
myself, and I am these men," for Christ is that highest Mystery.[172]
Knowing that, men are "transformed into pure light and are brought into
the light."[173] And He performed for them the great ceremony of
Initiation, the baptism "which leadeth to the region of truth and into
the region of light," and bade them celebrate it for others who were
worthy: "But hide ye this mystery, give it not unto every man, but unto
him [only] who shall do all things which I have said unto you in my
commandments."[174]

Thereafter, being fully instructed, the apostles went forth to preach,
ever aided by their Master.

Moreover these same disciples and their earliest colleagues wrote down
from memory all the public sayings and parables of the Master that they
had heard, and collected with great eagerness any reports they could
find, writing down these also, and circulating them all among those who
gradually attached themselves to their small community. Various
collections were made, any member writing down what he himself
remembered, and adding selections from the accounts of others. The inner
teachings, given by the Christ to His chosen ones, were not written
down, but were taught orally to those deemed worthy to receive them, to
students who formed small communities for leading a retired life, and
remained in touch with the central body.

The historical Christ, then, is a glorious Being belonging to the great
spiritual hierarchy that guides the spiritual evolution of humanity, who
used for some three years the human body of the disciple Jesus; who
spent the last of these three years in public teaching throughout Judæa
and Samaria; who was a healer of diseases and performed other remarkable
occult works; who gathered round Him a small band of disciples whom He
instructed in the deeper truths of the spiritual life; who drew men to
Him by the singular love and tenderness and the rich wisdom that
breathed from His Person; and who was finally put to death for
blasphemy, for teaching the inherent Divinity of Himself and of all men.
He came to give a new impulse of spiritual life to the world; to
re-issue the inner teachings affecting spiritual life; to mark out again
the narrow ancient way; to proclaim the existence of the "Kingdom of
Heaven," of the Initiation which admits to that knowledge of God which
is eternal life; and to admit a few to that Kingdom who should be able
to teach others. Round this glorious Figure gathered the myths which
united Him to the long array of His predecessors, the myths telling in
allegory the story of all such lives, as they symbolise the work of the
Logos in the Kosmos and the higher evolution of the individual human
soul.

But it must not be supposed that the work of the Christ for His
followers was over after He had established the Mysteries, or was
confined to rare appearances therein. That Mighty One who had used the
body of Jesus as His vehicle, and whose guardian care extends over the
whole spiritual evolution of the fifth race of humanity, gave into the
strong hands of the holy disciple who had surrendered to Him his body
the care of the infant Church. Perfecting his human evolution, Jesus
became one of the Masters of Wisdom, and took Christianity under His
special charge, ever seeking to guide it to the right lines, to protect,
to guard and nourish it. He was the Hierophant in the Christian
Mysteries, the direct Teacher of the Initiates. His the inspiration that
kept alight the Gnosis in the Church, until the superincumbent mass of
ignorance became so great that even His breath could not fan the flame
sufficiently to prevent its extinguishment. His the patient labour which
strengthened soul after soul to endure through the darkness, and cherish
within itself the spark of mystic longing, the thirst to find the Hidden
God. His the steady inpouring of truth into every brain ready to
receive it, so that hand stretched out to hand across the centuries and
passed on the torch of knowledge, which thus was never extinguished. His
the Form which stood beside the rack and in the flames of the burning
pile, cheering His confessors and His martyrs, soothing the anguish of
their pains, and filling their hearts with His peace. His the impulse
which spoke in the thunder of Savonarola, which guided the calm wisdom
of Erasmus, which inspired the deep ethics of the God-intoxicated
Spinoza. His the energy which impelled Roger Bacon, Galileo, and
Paracelsus in their searchings into nature. His the beauty that allured
Fra Angelica and Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci, that inspired the genius
of Michelangelo, that shone before the eyes of Murillo, and that gave
the power that raised the marvels of the world, the Duomo of Milan, the
San Marco of Venice, the Cathedral of Florence. His the melody that
breathed in the masses of Mozart, the sonatas of Beethoven, the
oratorios of Handel, the fugues of Bach, the austere splendour of
Brahms. His the Presence that cheered the solitary mystics, the hunted
occultists, the patient seekers after truth. By persuasion and by
menace, by the eloquence of a S. Francis and by the gibes of a Voltaire,
by the sweet submission of a Thomas à Kempis, and the rough virility of
a Luther, He sought to instruct and awaken, to win into holiness or to
scourge from evil. Through the long centuries He has striven and
laboured, and, with all the mighty burden of the Churches to carry, He
has never left uncared for or unsolaced one human heart that cried to
Him for help. And now He is striving to turn to the benefit of
Christendom part of the great flood of the Wisdom poured out for the
refreshing of the world, and He is seeking through the Churches for some
who have ears to hear the Wisdom, and who will answer to His appeal for
messengers to carry it to His flock: "Here am I; send me."



CHAPTER V.

THE MYTHIC CHRIST.


We have already seen the use that is made of Comparative Mythology
against Religion, and some of its most destructive attacks have been
levelled against the Christ. His birth of a Virgin at "Christmas," the
slaughter of the Innocents, His wonder-working and His teachings, His
crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension--all these events in the story
of His life are pointed to in the stories of other lives, and His
historical existence is challenged on the strength of these identities.
So far as the wonder-working and the teachings are concerned, we may
briefly dismiss these first with the acknowledgment that most great
Teachers have wrought works which, on the physical plane, appear as
miracles in the sight of their contemporaries, but are known by
occultists to be done by the exercise of powers possessed by all
Initiates above a certain grade. The teachings He gave may also be
acknowledged to be non-original; but where the student of Comparative
Mythology thinks that he has proved that none is divinely inspired, when
he shows that similar moral teachings fell from the lips of Manu, from
the lips of the Buddha, from the lips of Jesus, the occultist says that
certainly Jesus must have repeated the teachings of His predecessors,
since He was a messenger from the same Lodge. The profound verities
touching the divine and the human Spirit were as much truths twenty
thousand years before Jesus was born in Palestine as after He was born;
and to say that the world was left without such teaching, and that man
was left in moral darkness from his beginnings to twenty centuries ago,
is to say that there was a humanity without a Teacher, children without
a Father, human souls crying for light into a darkness that gave them no
answer--a conception as blasphemous of God as it is desperate for man, a
conception contradicted by the appearance of every Sage, by the mighty
literature, by the noble lives, in the thousands of ages ere the Christ
came forth.

Recognising then in Jesus the great Master of the West, the leading
Messenger of the Lodge to the western world, we must face the difficulty
which has made havoc of this belief in the minds of many: Why are the
festivals that commemorate events in the life of Jesus found in
pre-Christian religions, and in them commemorate identical events in the
lives of other Teachers?

Comparative Mythology, which has drawn public attention to this question
in modern times, may be said to be about a century old, dating from the
appearance of Dulaure's _Histoire Abrégée de differens Cultes_, of
Dupuis' _Origine de tous les Cultes_, of Moor's _Hindu Pantheon_, and of
Godfrey Higgins' _Anacalypsis_. These works were followed by a shoal of
others, growing more scientific and rigid in their collection and
comparison of facts, until it has become impossible for any educated
person to even challenge the identities and similarities existing in
every direction. Christians are not to be found, in these days, who are
prepared to contend that Christian symbols, rites, and ceremonies are
unique--except, indeed, among the ignorant. There we still behold
simplicity of belief hand-in-hand with ignorance of facts; but outside
this class we do not find even the most devout Christians alleging that
Christianity has not very much in common with faiths older than itself.
But it is well known that in the first centuries "after Christ" these
likenesses were on all hands admitted, and that modern Comparative
Mythology is only repeating with great precision that which was
universally recognised in the Early Church. Justin Martyr, for instance,
crowds his pages with references to the religions of his time, and if a
modern assailant of Christianity would cite a number of cases in which
Christian teachings are identical with those of elder religions, he can
find no better guides than the apologists of the second century. They
quote Pagan teachings, stories, and symbols, pleading that the very
identity of the Christian with these should prevent the off-hand
rejection of the latter as in themselves incredible. A curious reason
is, indeed, given for this identity, one that will scarcely find many
adherents in modern days. Says Justin Martyr: "Those who hand down the
myths which the poets have made adduce no proof to the youths who learn
them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the
influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human
race. For having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the
Christ was to come, and that the ungodly among men were to be punished
by fire, they put forward many to be called sons of Jupiter, under the
impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the
things which were said with regard to Christ were mere marvellous tales,
like the things which were said by the poets." "And the devils, indeed,
having heard this washing published by the prophet, instigated those who
enter their temples, and are about to approach them with libations and
burnt offerings, also to sprinkle themselves; and they cause them also
to wash themselves entirely as they depart." "Which [the Lord's Supper]
the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding
the same thing to be done."[175] "For I myself, when I discovered the
wicked disguise which the evil spirits had thrown around the divine
doctrines of the Christians, to turn aside others from joining them,
laughed."[176]

These identities were thus regarded as the work of devils, copies of the
Christian originals, largely circulated in the pre-Christian world with
the object of prejudicing the reception of the truth when it came. There
is a certain difficulty in accepting the earlier statements as copies
and the later as originals, but without disputing with Justin Martyr
whether the copies preceded the original or the original the copies, we
may be content to accept his testimony as to the existence of these
identities between the faith flourishing in the Roman empire of his
time and the new religion he was engaged in defending.

Tertullian speaks equally plainly, stating the objection made in his
days also to Christianity, that "the nations who are strangers to all
understanding of spiritual powers, ascribe to their idols the imbuing of
waters with the self-same efficacy." "So they do," he answers quite
frankly, "but these cheat themselves with waters that are widowed. For
washing is the channel through which they are initiated into some sacred
rites of some notorious Isis or Mithra; and the Gods themselves they
honour by washings.... At the Apollinarian and Eleusinian games they
are baptised; and they presume that the effect of their doing that is
the regeneration and the remission of the penalties due to their
perjuries. Which fact, being acknowledged, we recognise here also the
zeal of the devil rivalling the things of God, while we find him too
practising baptism in his subjects."[177]

To solve the difficulty of these identities we must study the Mythic
Christ, the Christ of the solar myths or legends, these myths being the
pictorial forms in which certain profound truths were given to the
world.

Now a "myth" is by no means what most people imagine it to be--a mere
fanciful story erected on a basis of fact, or even altogether apart from
fact. A myth is far truer than a history, for a history only gives a
story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances
that cast the shadows. As above so below; and _first_ above and _then_
below. There are certain great principles according to which our system
is built; there are certain laws by which these principles are worked
out in detail; there are certain Beings who embody the principles and
whose activities are the laws; there are hosts of inferior beings who
act as vehicles for these activities, as agents, as instruments; there
are the Egos of men intermingled with all these, performing their share
of the great kosmic drama. These multifarious workers in the invisible
worlds cast their shadows on physical matter, and these shadows are
"things"--the bodies, the objects, that make up the physical universe.
These shadows give but a poor idea of the objects that cast them, just
as what we call shadows down here give but a poor idea of the objects
that cast them; they are mere outlines, with blank darkness in lieu of
details, and have only length and breadth, no depth.

History is an account, very imperfect and often distorted, of the dance
of these shadows in the shadow-world of physical matter. Anyone who has
seen a clever Shadow-Play, and has compared what goes on behind the
screen on which the shadows are cast with the movements of the shadows
on the screen, may have a vivid idea of the illusory nature of the
shadow-actions, and may draw therefrom several not misleading
analogies.[178]

Myth is an account of the movements of those who cast the shadows; and
the language in which the account is given is what is called the
language of symbols. Just as here we have words which stand for
things--as the word "table" is a symbol for a recognised article of a
certain kind--so do symbols stand for objects on higher planes. They are
a pictorial alphabet, used by all myth-writers, and each has its
recognised meaning. A symbol is used to signify a certain object just as
words are used down here to distinguish one thing from another, and so a
knowledge of symbols is necessary for the reading of a myth. For the
original tellers of great myths are ever Initiates, who are accustomed
to use the symbolic language, and who, of course, use symbols in their
fixed and accepted meanings.

A symbol has a chief meaning, and then various subsidiary meanings
related to that chief meaning. For instance, the Sun is the symbol of
the Logos; that is its chief or primary significance. But it stands also
for an incarnation of the Logos, or for any of the great Messengers who
represent Him for the time, as an ambassador represents his King. High
Initiates who are sent on special missions to incarnate among men and
live with them for a time as Rulers or Teachers, would be designated by
the symbol of the Sun; for though it is not their symbol in an
individual sense, it is theirs in virtue of their office.

All those who are signified by this symbol have certain characteristics,
pass through certain situations, perform certain activities, during
their lives on earth. The Sun is the physical shadow, or body, as it is
called, of the Logos; hence its yearly course in nature reflects His
activity, in the partial way in which a shadow represents the activity
of the object that casts it. The Logos, "the Son of God," descending
into matter, has as shadow the annual course of the Sun, and the
Sun-Myth tells it. Hence, again, an incarnation of the Logos, or one of
His high ambassadors, will also represent that activity, shadow-like, in
His body as a man. Thus will necessarily arise identities in the
life-histories of these ambassadors. In fact, the absence of such
identities would at once point out that the person concerned was not a
full ambassador, and that his mission was of a lower order.

The Solar Myth, then, is a story which primarily representing the
activity of the Logos, or Word, in the kosmos, secondarily embodies the
life of one who is an incarnation of the Logos, or is one of His
ambassadors. The Hero of the myth is usually represented as a God, or
Demi-God, and his life, as will be understood by what has been said
above, must be outlined by the course of the Sun, as the shadow of the
Logos. The part of the course lived out during the human life is that
which falls between the winter solstice and the reaching of the zenith
in summer. The Hero is born at the winter solstice, dies at the spring
equinox, and, conquering death, rises into mid-heaven.

The following remarks are interesting in this connection, though looking
at myth in a more general way, as an allegory, picturing inner truths:
"Alfred de Vigny has said that legend is frequently more true than
history, because legend recounts not acts which are often incomplete
and abortive, but the genius itself of great men and great nations. It
is pre-eminently to the Gospel that this beautiful thought is
applicable, for the Gospel is not merely the narration of what has been;
it is the sublime narration of what is and what always will be. Ever
will the Saviour of the world be adored by the kings of intelligence,
represented by the Magi; ever will He multiply the eucharistic bread, to
nourish and comfort our souls; ever, when we invoke Him in the night and
the tempest, will He come to us walking on the waters, ever will He
stretch forth His hand and make us pass over the crests of the billows;
ever will He cure our distempers and give back light to our eyes; ever
will He appear to His faithful, luminous and transfigured upon Tabor,
interpreting the law of Moses and moderating the zeal of Elias."[179]

We shall find that myths are very closely related to the Mysteries, for
part of the Mysteries consisted in showing living pictures of the
occurrences in the higher worlds that became embodied in myths. In fact
in the Pseudo-Mysteries, mutilated fragments of the living pictures of
the true Mysteries were represented by actors who acted out a drama, and
many secondary myths are these dramas put into words.

The broad outlines of the story of the Sun-God are very clear, the
eventful life of the Sun-God being spanned within the first six months
of the solar year, the other six being employed in the general
protecting and preserving. He is always born at the winter solstice,
after the shortest day in the year, at the midnight of the 24th of
December, when the sign Virgo is rising above the horizon; born as this
sign is rising, he is born always of a virgin, and she remains a virgin
after she has given birth to her Sun-Child, as the celestial Virgo
remains unchanged and unsullied when the Sun comes forth from her in the
heavens. Weak, feeble as an infant is he, born when the days are
shortest and the nights are longest--we are on the north of the
equatorial line--surrounded with perils in his infancy, and the reign of
the darkness far longer than his in his early days. But he lives
through all the threatening dangers, and the day lengthens towards the
spring equinox, till the time comes for the crossing over, the
crucifixion, the date varying with each year. The Sun-God is sometimes
found sculptured within the circle of the horizon, with the head and
feet touching the circle at north and south, and the outstretched hands
at east and west--"He was crucified." After this he rises triumphantly
and ascends into heaven, and ripens the corn and the grape, giving his
very life to them to make their substance and through them to his
worshippers. The God who is born at the dawning of December 25th is ever
crucified at the spring equinox, and ever gives his life as food to his
worshippers--these are among the most salient marks of the Sun-God. The
fixity of the birth-date and the variableness of the death-date are full
of significance, when we remember that the one is a fixed and the other
a variable solar position. "Easter" is a movable event, calculated by
the relative positions of sun and moon, an impossible way of fixing year
by year the anniversary of a historical event, but a very natural and
indeed inevitable way of calculating a solar festival. These changing
dates do not point to the history of a man, but to the Hero of a solar
myth.

These events are reproduced in the lives of the various Solar Gods, and
antiquity teems with illustrations of them. Isis of Egypt like Mary of
Bethlehem was our Immaculate Lady, Star of the Sea, Queen of Heaven,
Mother of God. We see her in pictures standing on the crescent moon,
star-crowned; she nurses her child Horus, and the cross appears on the
back of the seat in which he sits on his mother's knee. The Virgo of the
Zodiac is represented in ancient drawings as a woman suckling a
child--the type of all future Madonnas with their divine Babes, showing
the origin of the symbol. Devakî is likewise figured with the divine
Krishna in her arms, as is Mylitta, or Istar, of Babylon, also
with the recurrent crown of stars, and with her child Tammuz on her
knee. Mercury and Æsculapius, Bacchus and Hercules, Perseus and the
Dioscuri, Mithras and Zarathustra, were all of divine and human birth.

The relation of the winter solstice to Jesus is also significant. The
birth of Mithras was celebrated in the winter solstice with great
rejoicings, and Horus was also then born: "His birth is one of the
greatest mysteries of the [Egyptian] religion. Pictures representing it
appeared on the walls of temples.... He was the child of Deity. At
Christmas time, or that answering to our festival, his image was brought
out of the sanctuary with peculiar ceremonies, as the image of the
infant Bambino is still brought out and exhibited at Rome."[180]

On the fixing of the 25th December as the birthday of Jesus, Williamson
has the following: "All Christians know that the 25th December is _now_
the recognised festival of the birth of Jesus, but few are aware that
this has not always been so. There have been, it is said, one hundred
and thirty-six different dates fixed on by different Christian sects.
Lightfoot gives it as 15th September, others as in February or August.
Epiphanius mentions two sects, one celebrating it in June, the other in
July. The matter was finally settled by Pope Julius I., in 337 A.D., and
S. Chrysostom, writing in 390, says: 'On this day [_i.e._ 25th December]
also the birth of Christ was lately fixed at Rome, in order that while
the heathen were busy with their ceremonies [the Brumalia, in honour of
Bacchus] the Christians might perform their rites undisturbed.' Gibbon
in his _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, writes: 'The [Christian]
Romans, as ignorant as their brethren of the real date of his [Christ's
birth] fixed the solemn festival to the 25th December, the Brumalia or
winter solstice, when the Pagans annually celebrated the birth of the
Sun.' King, in his _Gnostics and their Remains_, also says: 'The ancient
festival held on the 25th December in honour of the birthday of the
Invincible One,[181] and celebrated by the great games at the Circus,
was afterwards transferred to the commemoration of the birth of Christ,
the precise date of which many of the Fathers confess was then unknown;'
while at the present day Canon Farrar writes that 'all attempts to
discover the month and day of the nativity are useless. No data whatever
exist to enable us to determine them with even approximate accuracy.'
From the foregoing it is apparent that the great festival of the winter
solstice has been celebrated during past ages, and in widely separated
lands, in honour of the birth of a God, who is almost invariably alluded
to as a 'Saviour,' and whose mother is referred to as a pure virgin. The
striking resemblances, too, which have been instanced not only in the
birth but in the life of so many of these Saviour-Gods are far too
numerous to be accounted for by any mere coincidence."[182]

In the case of the Lord Buddha we may see how a myth attaches itself to
a historical personage. The story of His life is well known, and in the
current Indian accounts the birth-story is simple and human. But in the
Chinese account He is born of a virgin, Mâyâdevî, the archaic myth
finding in Him a new Hero.

Williamson also tells us that fires were and are lighted on the 25th
December on the hills among Keltic peoples, and these are still known
among the Irish and the Scotch Highlanders as Bheil or Baaltinne, the
fires thus bearing the name of Bel, Bal, or Baal, their ancient Deity,
the Sun-God, though now lighted in honour of Christ.[183]

Rightly considered, the Christmas festival should take on new elements
of rejoicing and of sacredness, when the lovers of Christ see in it the
repetition of an ancient solemnity, see it stretching all the world
over, and far, far back into dim antiquity; so that the Christmas bells
are ringing throughout human history, and sound musically out of the
far-off night of time. Not in exclusive possession, but in universal
acceptance, is found the hallmark of truth.

The death-date, as said above, is not a fixed one, like the birth-date.
The date of the death is calculated by the relative positions of Sun and
Moon at the spring equinox, varying with each year, and the death-date
of each Solar Hero is found to be celebrated in this connection. The
animal adopted as the symbol of the Hero is the sign of the Zodiac in
which the Sun is at the vernal equinox of his age, and this varies with
the precession of the equinoxes. Oannes of Assyria had the sign of
Pisces, the Fish, and is thus figured. Mithra is in Taurus, and,
therefore, rides on a Bull, and Osiris was worshipped as Osiris-Apis, or
Serapis, the Bull. Merodach of Babylon was worshipped as a Bull, as was
Astarte of Syria. When the Sun is in the sign of Aries, the Ram or Lamb,
we have Osiris again as Ram, and so also Astarte, and Jupiter Ammon, and
it is this same animal that became the symbol of Jesus--the Lamb of God.
The use of the Lamb as His symbol, often leaning on a cross, is common
in the sculptures of the catacombs. On this Williamson says: "In the
course of time the Lamb was represented on the cross, but it was not
until the sixth synod of Constantinople, held about the year 680, that
it was ordained that instead of the ancient symbol, the figure of a
_man_ fastened to a cross should be represented. This canon was
confirmed by Pope Adrian I."[184] The very ancient Pisces is also
assigned to Jesus, and He is thus pictured in the catacombs.

The death and resurrection of the Solar Hero at or about the vernal
equinox is as wide-spread as his birth at the winter solstice. Osiris
was then slain by Typhon, and He is pictured on the circle of the
horizon, with outstretched arms, as if crucified--a posture originally
of benediction, not of suffering. The death of Tammuz was annually
bewailed at the spring equinox in Babylonia and Syria, as were Adonis in
Syria and Greece, and Attis in Phrygia, pictured "as a man fastened with
a lamb at the foot."[185] Mithras' death was similarly celebrated in
Persia, and that of Bacchus and Dionysius--one and the same--in Greece.
In Mexico the same idea re-appears, as usual accompanied with the cross.

In all these cases the mourning for the death is immediately followed by
the rejoicing over the resurrection, and on this it is interesting to
notice that the name of Easter has been traced to the virgin-mother of
the slain Tammuz, Ishtar.[186]

It is interesting also to notice that the fast preceding the death at
the vernal equinox,--the modern Lent--is found in Mexico, Egypt, Persia,
Babylon, Assyria, Asia Minor, in some cases definitely for forty
days.[187]

In the Pseudo-Mysteries, the Sun-God story was dramatised, and in the
ancient Mysteries it was lived by the Initiate, and hence the solar
"myths" and the great facts of Initiation became interwoven together.
Hence when the Master Christ became the Christ of the Mysteries, the
legends of the older Heroes of those Mysteries gathered round Him, and
the stories were again recited with the latest divine Teacher as the
representative of the Logos in the Sun. Then the festival of His
nativity became the immemorial date when the Sun was born of the Virgin,
when the midnight sky was filled with the rejoicing hosts of the
celestials, and

Very early, very early, Christ was born.

As the great legend of the Sun gathered round Him, the sign of the Lamb
became that of His crucifixion as the sign of the Virgin had become that
of His birth. We have seen that the Bull was sacred to Mithras and the
Fish to Oannes, and that the Lamb was sacred to Christ, and for the same
reason; it was the sign of the spring equinox, at the period of history
in which He crossed the great circle of the horizon, was "crucified in
space."

These Sun myths, ever recurring throughout the ages, with a different
name for their Hero in each new recension, cannot pass unrecognised by
the student, though they may naturally and rightly be ignored by the
devotee; and when they are used as a weapon to mutilate or destroy the
majestic figure of the Christ, they must be met, not by denying the
facts, but by understanding the deeper meaning of the stories, the
spiritual truths that the legends expressed under a veil.

Why have these legends mingled with the history of Jesus, and
crystallised round Him, as a historical personage? These are really the
stories not of a particular individual named Jesus but of the universal
Christ; of a Man who symbolised a Divine Being, and who represented a
fundamental truth in nature; a Man who filled a certain office and held
a certain characteristic position towards humanity; standing towards
humanity in a special relationship, renewed age after age, as generation
succeeded generation, as race gave way to race. Hence He was, as are all
such, the "Son of Man," a peculiar and distinctive title, the title of
an office, not of an individual. The Christ of the Solar Myth was the
Christ of the Mysteries, and we find the secret of the mythic in the
mystic Christ.



CHAPTER VI.

THE MYSTIC CHRIST.


We now approach that deeper side of the Christ story that gives it its
real hold upon the hearts of men. We approach that perennial life which
bubbles up from an unseen source, and so baptises its representative
with its lucent flood that human hearts cling round the Christ, and feel
that they could almost more readily reject the apparent facts of history
than deny that which they intuitively feel to be a vital, an essential
truth of the higher life. We draw near the sacred portal of the
Mysteries, and lift a corner of the veil that hides the sanctuary.

We have seen that, go back as far as we may into antiquity, we find
everywhere recognised the existence of a hidden teaching, a secret
doctrine, given under strict and exacting conditions to approved
candidates by the Masters of Wisdom. Such candidates were initiated into
"The Mysteries"--a name that covers in antiquity, as we have seen, all
that was most spiritual in religion, all that was most profound in
philosophy, all that was most valuable in science. Every great Teacher
of antiquity passed through the Mysteries and the greatest were the
Hierophants of the Mysteries; each who came forth into the world to
speak of the invisible worlds had passed through the portal of
Initiation and had learned the secret of the Holy Ones from Their own
lips: each who came forth came forth with the same story, and the solar
myths are all versions of this story, identical in their essential
features, varying only in their local colour.

This story is primarily that of the descent of the Logos into matter,
and the Sun-God is aptly His symbol, since the Sun is His body, and He
is often described as "He that dwelleth in the Sun." In one aspect, the
Christ of the Mysteries is the Logos descending into matter, and the
great Sun-Myth is the popular teaching of this sublime truth. As in
previous cases, the Divine Teacher, who brought the Ancient Wisdom and
republished it in the world, was regarded as a special manifestation of
the Logos, and the Jesus of the Churches was gradually draped with the
stories which belonged to this great One; thus He became identified, in
Christian nomenclature, with the Second Person in the Trinity, the
Logos, or Word of God,[188] and the salient events recounted in the myth
of the Sun-God became the salient events of the story of Jesus, regarded
as the incarnate Deity, the "mythic Christ." As in the macrocosm, the
kosmos, the Christ of the Mysteries represents the Logos, the Second
Person in the Trinity, so in the microcosm, man, does He represent the
second aspect of the Divine Spirit in man--hence called in man "the
Christ."[189] The second aspect of the Christ of the Mysteries is then
the life of the Initiate, the life which is entered on at the first
great Initiation, at which the Christ is born in man, and after which He
develops in man. To make this quite intelligible, we must consider the
conditions imposed on the candidate for Initiation, and the nature of
the Spirit in man.

Only those could be recognised as candidates for Initiation who were
already good as men count goodness, according to the strict measure of
the law. Pure, holy, without defilement, clean from sin, living without
transgression--such were some of the descriptive phrases used of
them.[190] Intelligent also must they be, of well-developed and
well-trained minds.[191] The evolution carried on in the world life
after life, developing and mastering the powers of the mind, the
emotions, and the moral sense, learning through exoteric religions,
practising the discharge of duties, seeking to help and lift others--all
this belongs to the ordinary life of an evolving man. When all this is
done, the man has become "a good man," the Chrêstos of the Greeks, and
this he must be ere he can become the Christos, the Anointed. Having
accomplished the exoteric good life, he becomes a candidate for the
esoteric life, and enters on the preparation for Initiation, which
consists in the fulfilment of certain conditions.

These conditions mark out the attributes he is to acquire, and while he
is labouring to create these, he is sometimes said to be treading the
Probationary Path, the Path which leads up to the "Strait Gate," beyond
which is the "Narrow Way," or the "Path of Holiness," the "Way of the
Cross." He is not expected to develop these attributes perfectly, but he
must have made some progress in all of them, ere the Christ can be born
in him. He must prepare a pure home for that Divine Child who is to
develop within him.

The first of these attributes--they are all mental and moral--is
_Discrimination_; this means that the aspirant must begin to separate in
his mind the Eternal from the Temporary, the Real from the Unreal, the
True from the False, the Heavenly from the Earthly. "The things which
are seen are temporal," says the Apostle; "but the things which are not
seen are eternal."[192] Men are constantly living under the glamour of
the seen, and are blinded by it to the unseen. The aspirant must learn
to discriminate between them, so that what is unreal to the world may
become real to him, and that which is real to the world may to him
become unreal, for thus only is it possible to "walk by faith, not by
sight."[193] And thus also must a man become one of those of whom the
Apostle says that they "are of full age, even those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."[194] Next,
this sense of unreality must breed in him _Disgust_ with the unreal and
the fleeting, the mere husks of life, unfit to satisfy hunger, save the
hunger of swine.[195] This stage is described in the emphatic language
of Jesus: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother,
and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life
also, he cannot be my disciple."[196] Truly a "hard saying," and yet out
of this hatred will spring a deeper, truer, love, and the stage may not
be escaped on the way to the Strait Gate. Then the aspirant must learn
_Control of thoughts_, and this will lead to _Control of actions_, the
thought being, to the inner eye, the same as the action: "Whosoever
looketh on a woman to lust after her, _hath committed adultery_ with her
already in his heart."[197] He must acquire _Endurance_, for they who
aspire to tread "the Way of the Cross" will have to brave long and
bitter sufferings, and they must be able to endure, "as seeing Him who
is invisible."[198] He must add to these _Tolerance_, if he would be the
child of Him who "maketh His sun to rise on the evil, and on the good,
and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,"[199] the disciple of
Him who bade His apostles not to forbid a man to use His name because he
did not follow with them.[200] Further, he must acquire the _Faith_ to
which nothing is impossible,[201] and the _Balance_ which is described
by the Apostle.[202] Lastly, he must seek only "those things which are
above,"[203] and long to reach the beatitude of the vision of and union
with God.[204] When a man has wrought these qualities into his character
he is regarded as fit for Initiation, and the Guardians of the Mysteries
will open for him the Strait Gate. Thus, but thus only, he becomes the
prepared candidate.

Now, the Spirit in man is the gift of the Supreme God, and contains
within itself the three aspects of the Divine Life--Intelligence, Love,
Will--being the Image of God. As it evolves, it first develops the
aspect of Intelligence, develops the intellect, and this evolution is
effected in the ordinary life in the world. To have done this to a high
point, accompanying it with moral development, brings the evolving man
to the condition of the candidate. The second aspect of the Spirit is
that of Love, and the evolution of that is the evolution of the Christ.
In the true Mysteries this evolution is undergone--the disciple's life
is the Mystery Drama, and the Great Initiations mark its stages. In the
Mysteries performed on the physical plane these used to be dramatically
represented, and the ceremonies followed in many respects "the pattern"
ever shown forth "on the Mount," for they were the shadows in a
deteriorating age of the mighty Realities in the spiritual world.

The Mystic Christ, then, is twofold--the Logos, the Second Person of the
Trinity, descending into matter, and the Love, or second, aspect of the
unfolding Divine Spirit in man. The one represents kosmic processes
carried on in the past and is the root of the Solar Myth; the other
represents a process carried on in the individual, the concluding stage
of his human evolution, and added many details in the Myth. Both of
these have contributed to the Gospel story, and together form the Image
of the "Mystic Christ."

Let us consider first the kosmic Christ, Deity becoming enveloped in
matter, the becoming incarnate of the Logos, the clothing of God in
"flesh."

When the matter which is to form our solar system is separated off from
the infinite ocean of matter which fills space, the Third Person of the
Trinity--the Holy Spirit--pours His Life into this matter to vivify it,
that it may presently take form. It is then drawn together, and form is
given to it by the life of the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity,
who sacrifices Himself by putting on the limitations of matter, becoming
the "Heavenly Man," in whose Body all forms exist, of whose Body all
forms are part. This was the kosmic story, dramatically shown in the
Mysteries--in the true Mysteries seen as it occurred in space, in the
physical plane Mysteries represented by magical or other means, and in
some parts by actors.

These processes are very distinctly stated in the _Bible_; when the
"Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" in the darkness that
was "upon the face of the deep,"[205] the great deep of matter showed
no forms, it was void, inchoate. Form was given by the Logos, the Word,
of whom it is written that "all things were made by Him; and without Him
was not anything made that was made."[206] C. W. Leadbeater has well put
it: "The result of this first great outpouring [the 'moving' of the
Spirit] is the quickening of that wonderful and glorious vitality which
pervades all matter (inert though it may seem to our dim physical eyes),
so that the atoms of the various planes develop, when electrified by it,
all sorts of previously latent attractions and repulsions, and enter
into combinations of all kinds."[207]

Only when this work of the Spirit has been done can the Logos, the
kosmic Mystic Christ, take on Himself the clothing of matter, entering
in very truth the Virgin's womb, the womb of Matter as yet virgin,
unproductive. This matter had been vivified by the Holy Spirit, who,
overshadowing the Virgin, poured into it His life, thus preparing it to
receive the life of the Second Logos, who took this matter as the
vehicle for His energies. This is the becoming incarnate of the Christ,
the taking flesh--"Thou did'st not despise the Virgin's womb."

In the Latin and English translations of the original Greek text of the
Nicene Creed, the phrase which describes this phase of the descent has
changed the prepositions and so changed the sense. The original ran:
"and was incarnate _of_ the Holy Ghost _and_ the Virgin Mary," whereas
the translation reads: "and was incarnate _by_ the Holy Ghost _of_ the
Virgin Mary."[208] The Christ "takes form not of the 'Virgin' matter
alone, but of matter which is already instinct and pulsating with the
life of the Third Logos,[209] so that both the life and the matter
surround Him as a vesture."[210]

This is the descent of the Logos into matter, described as the birth of
the Christ of a Virgin, and this, in the Solar Myth, becomes the birth
of the Sun-God as the sign Virgo rises.

Then come the early workings of the Logos in matter, aptly typified by
the infancy of the myth. To all the feebleness of infancy His majestic
powers bow themselves, letting but little play forth on the tender forms
they ensoul. Matter imprisons, seems as though threatening to slay, its
infant King, whose glory is veiled by the limitations He has assumed.
Slowly He shapes it towards high ends, and lifts it into manhood, and
then stretches Himself on the cross of matter that He may pour forth
from that cross all the powers of His surrendered life. This is the
Logos of whom Plato said that He was in the figure of a cross on the
universe; this is the Heavenly Man, standing in space, with arms
outstretched in blessing; this is the Christ crucified, whose death on
the cross of matter fills all matter with His life. Dead He seems and
buried out of sight, but He rises again clothed in the very matter in
which He seemed to perish, and carries up His body of now radiant
matter into heaven, where it receives the downpouring life of the
Father, and becomes the vehicle of man's immortal life. For it is the
life of the Logos which forms the garment of the Soul in man, and He
gives it that men may live through the ages and grow to the measure of
His own stature. Truly are we clothed in Him, first materially and then
spiritually. He sacrificed Himself to bring many sons into glory, and He
is with us always, even to the end of the age.

The crucifixion of Christ, then, is part of the great kosmic sacrifice,
and the allegorical representation of this in the physical Mysteries,
and the sacred symbol of the crucified man in space, became materialised
into an actual death by crucifixion, and a crucifix bearing a dying
human form; then this story, now the story of a man, was attached to the
Divine Teacher, Jesus, and became the story of His physical death, while
the birth from a Virgin, the danger-encircled infancy, the resurrection
and ascension, became also incidents in His human life. The Mysteries
disappeared, but their grandiose and graphic representations of the
kosmic work of the Logos encircled and uplifted the beloved figure of
the Teacher of Judæa, and the kosmic Christ of the Mysteries, with the
lineaments of the Jesus of history, thus became the central Figure of
the Christian Church.

But even this was not all; the last touch of fascination is added to the
Christ-story by the fact that there is another Christ of the Mysteries,
close and dear to the human heart--the Christ of the human Spirit, the
Christ who is in every one of us, is born and lives, is crucified, rises
from the dead, and ascends into heaven, in every suffering and
triumphant "Son of Man."

The life-story of every Initiate into the true, the heavenly Mysteries,
is told in its salient features in the Gospel biography. For this
reason, S. Paul speaks as we have seen[211] of the birth of the Christ
in the disciple, and of His evolution and His full stature therein.
Every man is a potential Christ, and the unfolding of the Christ-life
in a man follows the outline of the Gospel story in its striking
incidents, which we have seen to be universal, and not particular.

There are five great Initiations in the life of a Christ, each one
marking a stage in the unfolding of the Life of Love. They are given
now, as of old, and the last marks the final triumph of the Man who has
developed into Divinity, who has transcended humanity, and has become a
Saviour of the world.

Let us trace this life-story, ever newly repeated in spiritual
experience, and see the Initiate living out the life of the Christ.

At the first great Initiation the Christ is born in the disciple; it is
then that he realises for the first time _in himself_ the outpouring of
the divine Love, and experiences that marvellous change which makes him
feel himself to be one with all that lives. This is the "Second Birth,"
and at that birth the heavenly ones rejoice, for he is born into "the
kingdom of heaven," as one of the "little ones," as "a little
child"--the names ever given to the new Initiates. Such is the meaning
of the words of Jesus, that a man must become a little child to enter
into the Kingdom.[212] It is significantly said in some of the early
Christian writers that Jesus was "born in a cave"--the "stable" of the
gospel narrative; the "Cave of Initiation" is a well-known ancient
phrase, and the Initiate is ever born therein; over that cave "where the
young child" is burns the "Star of Initiation," the Star that ever
shines forth in the East when a Child-Christ is born. Every such child
is surrounded by perils and menaces, strange dangers that befall not
other babes; for he is anointed with the chrism of the second birth and
the Dark Powers of the unseen world ever seek his undoing. Despite all
trials, however, he grows into manhood, for the Christ once born can
never perish, the Christ once beginning to develop can never fail in his
evolution; his fair life expands and grows, ever-increasing in wisdom
and in spiritual stature, until the time comes for the second great
Initiation, the Baptism of the Christ by Water and the Spirit, that
gives him the powers necessary for the Teacher, who is to go forth and
labour in the world as "the beloved Son."

Then there descends upon him in rich measure the divine Spirit, and the
glory of the unseen Father pours down its pure radiance on him; but from
that scene of blessing is he led by the Spirit into the wilderness and
is once more exposed to the ordeal of fierce temptations. For now the
powers of the Spirit are unfolding themselves in him, and the Dark Ones
strive to lure him from his path by these very powers, bidding him use
them for his own helping instead of resting on his Father in patient
trust. In the swift, sudden transitions which test his strength and
faith, the whisper of the embodied Tempter follows the voice of the
Father, and the burning sands of the wilderness scorch the feet
erstwhile laved in the cool waters of the holy river. Conqueror over
these temptations he passes into the world of men to use for their
helping the powers he would not put forth for his own needs, and he who
would not turn one stone to bread for the stilling of his own cravings
feeds "five thousand men, besides women and children," with a few
loaves.

Into his life of ceaseless service comes another brief period of glory,
when he ascends "a high mountain apart"--the sacred Mount of Initiation.
There he is transfigured and there meets some of his great Forerunners,
the Mighty Ones of old who trod where he now is treading. He passes thus
the third great Initiation, and then the shadow of his coming Passion
falls on him, and he steadfastly sets his face to go to
Jerusalem--repelling the tempting words of one of his
disciples--Jerusalem, where awaits him the baptism of the Holy Ghost and
of Fire. After the Birth, the attack by Herod; after the Baptism, the
temptation in the wilderness; after the Transfiguration, the setting
forth towards the last stage of the Way of the Cross. Thus is triumph
ever followed by ordeal, until the goal is reached.

Still grows the life of love, ever fuller and more perfect, the Son of
Man shining forth more clearly as the Son of God, until the time draws
near for his final battle; and the fourth great Initiation leads him in
triumph into Jerusalem, into sight of Gethsemane and Calvary. He is now
the Christ ready to be offered, ready for the sacrifice on the cross. He
is now to face the bitter agony in the Garden, where even his chosen
ones sleep while he wrestles with his mortal anguish, and for a moment
prays that the cup may pass from his lips; but the strong will triumphs
and he stretches out his hand to take and drink, and in his loneliness
an angel comes to him and strengthens him, as angels are wont to do when
they see a Son of Man bending beneath his load of agony. The drinking of
the bitter cup of betrayal, of desertion, of denial, meets him as he
goes forth, and alone amid his jeering foes he passes to his last fierce
trial. Scourged by physical pain, pierced by cruel thorns of suspicion,
stripped of his fair garments of purity in the eyes of the world, left
in the hands of his foes, deserted apparently by God and man, he endures
patiently all that befalls him, wistfully looking in his last extremity
for aid. Left still to suffer, crucified, to die to the life of form,
to surrender all life that belongs to the lower world, surrounded by
triumphant foes who mock him, the last horror of great darkness
envelopes him, and in the darkness he meets all the forces of evil; his
inner vision is blinded, he finds himself alone, utterly alone, till the
strong heart, sinking in despair, cries out to the Father who seems to
have abandoned him, and the human soul faces, in uttermost loneliness,
the crushing agony of apparent defeat. Yet, summoning all the strength
of the "unconquerable spirit," the lower life is yielded up, its death
is willingly embraced, the body of desire is abandoned, and the Initiate
"descends into hell," that no region of the universe he is to help may
remain untrodden by him, that none may be too outcast to be reached by
his all-embracing love. And then springing upwards from the darkness, he
sees the light once more, feels himself again as the Son, inseparable
from the Father whose he is, rises to the life that knows no ending,
radiant in the consciousness of death faced and overcome, strong to help
to the uttermost every child of man, able to pour out his life into
every struggling soul. Among his disciples he remains awhile to teach,
unveiling to them the mysteries of the spiritual worlds, preparing them
also to tread the path he has trodden, until, the earth-life over, he
ascends to the Father, and, in the fifth great Initiation, becomes the
Master triumphant, the link between God and man.

Such was the story lived through in the true Mysteries of old and now,
and dramatically pourtrayed in symbols in the physical plane Mysteries,
half veiled, half shown. Such is the Christ of the Mysteries in His dual
aspect, Logos and man, kosmic and individual. Is it any wonder that this
story, dimly felt, even when unknown, by the mystic, has woven itself
into the heart, and served as an inspiration to all noble living? The
Christ of the human heart is, for the most part, Jesus seen as the
mystic human Christ, struggling, suffering, dying, finally triumphant,
the Man in whom humanity is seen crucified and risen, whose victory is
the promise of victory to every one who, like Him, is faithful through
death and beyond--the Christ who can never be forgotten while He is born
again and again in humanity, while the world needs Saviours, and
Saviours give themselves for men.



CHAPTER VII.

THE ATONEMENT.


We will now proceed to study certain aspects of the Christ-Life, as they
appear among the doctrines of Christianity. In the exoteric teachings
they appear as attached only to the Person of the Christ; in the
esoteric they are seen as belonging indeed to Him, since in their
primary, their fullest and deepest meaning they form part of the
activities of the Logos, but as being only secondarily reflected in the
Christ, and therefore also in every Christ-Soul that treads the way of
the Cross. Thus studied they will be seen to be profoundly true, while
in their exoteric form they often bewilder the intelligence and jar the
emotions.

Among these stands prominently forward the doctrine of the Atonement;
not only has it been a point of bitter attack from those outside the
pale of Christianity, but it has wrung many sensitive consciences within
that pale. Some of the most deeply Christian thinkers of the last half
of the nineteenth century have been tortured with doubts as to the
teaching of the churches on this matter, and have striven to see, and to
present it, in a way that softens or explains away the cruder notions
based on an unintelligent reading of a few profoundly mystical texts.
Nowhere, perhaps, more than in connection with these should the warning
of S. Peter be borne in mind: "Our beloved brother Paul also, according
to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you--as also in all his
epistles--speaking in them of these things; in which are some things
hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,
as they do also the other scriptures, unto own destruction."[213] For
the texts that tell of the identity of the Christ with His brother-men
have been wrested into a legal substitution of Himself for them, and
have thus been used as an escape from the results of sin, instead of as
an inspiration to righteousness.

The general teaching in the Early Church on the doctrine of the
Atonement was that Christ, as the Representative of Humanity, faced and
conquered Satan, the representative of the Dark Powers, who held
humanity in bondage, wrested his captive from him, and set him free.
Slowly, as Christian teachers lost touch with spiritual truths, and they
reflected their own increasing intolerance and harshness on the pure and
loving Father of the teachings of the Christ, they represented Him as
angry with man, and the Christ was made to save man from the wrath of
God instead of from the bondage of evil. Then legal phrases intruded,
still further materialising the once spiritual idea, and the "scheme of
redemption" was forensically outlined. "The seal was set on the
'redemption scheme' by Anselm in his great work, _Cur Deus Homo_, and
the doctrine which had been slowly growing into the theology of
Christendom was thenceforward stamped with the signet of the Church.
Roman Catholics and Protestants, at the time of the Reformation, alike
believed in the vicarious and substitutionary character of the atonement
wrought by Christ. There is no dispute between them on this point. I
prefer to allow the Christian divines to speak for themselves as to the
character of the atonement.... Luther teaches that 'Christ did truly and
effectually feel for all mankind the wrath of God, malediction, and
death.' Flavel says that 'to wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God
without mixture, to the very torments of hell, was Christ delivered, and
that by the hand of his own father.' The Anglican homily preaches that
'sin did pluck God out of heaven to make him feel the horrors and pains
of death,' and that man, being a firebrand of hell and a bondsman of the
devil, 'was ransomed by the death of his only and well-beloved son'; the
'heat of his wrath,' 'his burning wrath,' could only be 'pacified' by
Jesus, 'so pleasant was the sacrifice and oblation of his son's death.'
Edwards, being logical, saw that there was a gross injustice in sin
being twice punished, and in the pains of hell, the penalty of sin,
being twice inflicted, first on Jesus, the substitute of mankind, and
then on the lost, a portion of mankind; so he, in common with most
Calvinists, finds himself compelled to restrict the atonement to the
elect, and declared that Christ bore the sins, not of the world, but of
the chosen out of the world; he suffers 'not for the world, but for them
whom thou hast given me.' But Edwards adheres firmly to the belief in
substitution, and rejects the universal atonement for the very reason
that 'to believe Christ died for all is the surest way of proving that
he died for none in the sense Christians have hitherto believed.' He
declares that 'Christ suffered the wrath of God for men's sins'; that
'God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell
for,' sin. Owen regards Christ's sufferings as 'a full valuable
compensation to the justice of God for all the sins' of the elect, and
says that he underwent 'that same punishment which ... they themselves
were bound to undergo.'"[214]

To show that these views were still authoritatively taught in the
churches, I wrote further: "Stroud makes Christ drink 'the cup of the
wrath of God.' Jenkyn says 'He suffered as one disowned and reprobated
and forsaken of God.' Dwight considers that he endured God's 'hatred and
contempt.' Bishop Jeune tells us that 'after man had done his worst,
worse remained for Christ to bear. He had fallen into his father's
hands.' Archbishop Thomson preaches that 'the clouds of God's wrath
gathered thick over the whole human race: they discharged themselves on
Jesus only.' He 'becomes a curse for us and a vessel of wrath.' Liddon
echoes the same sentiment: 'The apostles teach that mankind are slaves,
and that Christ on the cross is paying their ransom. Christ crucified is
voluntarily devoted and accursed'; he even speaks of 'the precise amount
of ignominy and pain needed for the redemption,' and says that the
'divine victim' paid more than was absolutely necessary."[215]

These are the views against which the learned and deeply religious Dr.
McLeod Campbell wrote his well-known work, _On the Atonement_, a volume
containing many true and beautiful thoughts; F. D. Maurice and many
other Christian men have also striven to lift from Christianity the
burden of a doctrine so destructive of all true ideas as to the
relations between God and man.

None the less, as we look backwards over the effects produced by this
doctrine, we find that belief in it, even in its legal--and to us crude
exoteric--form, is connected with some of the very highest developments
of Christian conduct, and that some of the noblest examples of Christian
manhood and womanhood have drawn from it their strength, their
inspiration, and their comfort. It would be unjust not to recognise this
fact. And whenever we come upon a fact that seems to us startling and
incongruous, we do well to pause upon that fact, and to endeavour to
understand it. For if this doctrine contained nothing more than is seen
in it by its assailants inside and outside the churches, if it were in
its true meaning as repellent to the conscience and the intellect as it
is found to be by many thoughtful Christians, then it could not possibly
have exercised over the minds and hearts of men a compelling
fascination, nor could it have been the root of heroic self-surrenders,
of touching and pathetic examples of self-sacrifice in the service of
man. Something more there must be in it than lies on the surface, some
hidden kernel of life which has nourished those who have drawn from it
their inspiration. In studying it as one of the Lesser Mysteries we
shall find the hidden life which these noble ones have unconsciously
absorbed, these souls which were so at one with that life that the form
in which it was veiled could not repel them.

When we come to study it as one of the Lesser Mysteries, we shall feel
that for its understanding some spiritual development is needed, some
opening of the inner eyes. To grasp it requires that its spirit should
be partly evolved in the life, and only those who know practically
something of the meaning of self-surrender will be able to catch a
glimpse of what is implied in the esoteric teaching on this doctrine, as
the typical manifestation of the Law of Sacrifice. We can only
understand it as applied to the Christ, when we see it as a special
manifestation of the universal law, a reflection below of the Pattern
above, showing us in a concrete human life what sacrifice means.

The Law of Sacrifice underlies our system and all systems, and on it all
universes are builded. It lies at the root of evolution, and alone makes
it intelligible. In the doctrine of the Atonement it takes a concrete
form in connection with men who have reached a certain stage in
spiritual development, the stage that enables them to realise their
oneness with humanity, and to become, in very deed and truth, Saviours
of men.

All the great religions of the world have declared that the universe
begins by an act of sacrifice, and have incorporated the idea of
sacrifice into their most solemn rites. In Hinduism, the dawn of
manifestation is said to be by sacrifice,[216] mankind is emanated with
sacrifice,[217] and it is Deity who sacrifices Himself;[218] the object
of the sacrifice is manifestation; He cannot become manifest unless an
act of sacrifice be performed, and inasmuch as nothing can be manifest
until He manifests,[219] the act of sacrifice is called "the dawn" of
creation.

In the Zoroastrian religion it was taught that in the Existence that is
boundless, unknowable, unnameable, sacrifice was performed and manifest
Deity appeared; Ahura-mazdâo was born of an act of sacrifice.[220]

In the Christian religion the same idea is indicated in the phrase: "the
Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,"[221] slain at the origin
of things. These words can but refer to the important truth that there
can be no founding of a world until the Deity has made an act of
sacrifice. This act is explained as limiting Himself in order to become
manifest. "The Law of Sacrifice might perhaps more truly be called The
Law of Manifestation, or the Law of Love and of Life, for throughout the
universe, from the highest to the lowest, it is the cause of
manifestation and life."[222]

"Now, if we study this physical world, as being the most available
material, we find that all life in it, all growth, all progress, alike
for units and for aggregates, depend on continual sacrifice and the
endurance of pain. Mineral is sacrificed to vegetable, vegetable to
animal, both to man, men to men, and all the higher forms again break
up, and reinforce again with their separated constituents the lowest
kingdom. It is a continual sequence of sacrifices from the lowest to the
highest, and the very mark of progress is that the sacrifice from being
involuntary and imposed becomes voluntary and self-chosen, and those who
are recognised as greatest by man's intellect and loved most by man's
heart are the supreme sufferers, those heroic souls who wrought,
endured, and died that the race might profit by their pain. If the world
be the work of the Logos, and the law of the world's progress in the
whole and the parts is sacrifice, then the Law of Sacrifice must point
to something in the very nature of the Logos; it must have its root in
the Divine Nature itself. A little further thought shows us that if
there is to be a world, a universe at all, this can only be by the One
Existence conditioning Itself and thus making manifestation possible,
and that the very Logos is the Self-limited God; limited to become
manifest; manifested to bring a universe into being; such
self-limitation and manifestation can only be a supreme act of
sacrifice, and what wonder that on every hand the world should show its
birth-mark, and that the Law of Sacrifice should be the law of being,
the law of the derived lives.

"Further, as it is an act of sacrifice in order that individuals may
come into existence to share the Divine bliss, it is very truly a
vicarious act--an act done for the sake of others; hence the fact
already noted, that progress is marked by sacrifice becoming voluntary
and self-chosen, and we realise that humanity reaches its perfection in
the man who gives himself for men, and by his own suffering purchases
for the race some lofty good.

"Here, in the highest regions, is the inmost verity of vicarious
sacrifice, and however it may be degraded and distorted, this inner
spiritual truth makes it indestructible, eternal, and the fount whence
flows the spiritual energy which, in manifold forms and ways, redeems
the world from evil and draws it home to God."[223]

When the Logos comes forth from "the bosom of the Father" in that "Day"
when He is said to be "begotten,"[224] the dawn of the Day of Creation,
of Manifestation, when by Him God "made the worlds,"[225] He by His own
will limits Himself, making as it were a sphere enclosing the Divine
Life, coming forth as a radiant orb of Deity, the Divine Substance,
Spirit within and limitation, or Matter, without. This is the veil of
matter which makes possible the birth of the Logos, Mary, the
World-Mother, necessary for the manifestation in time of the Eternal,
that Deity may manifest for the building of the worlds.

That circumscription, that self-limitation, is the act of sacrifice, a
voluntary action done for love's sake, that other lives may be born from
Him. Such a manifestation has been regarded as a death, for, in
comparison with the unimaginable life of God in Himself, such
circumscription in matter may truly be called death. It has been
regarded, as we have seen, as a crucifixion in matter, and has been thus
figured, the true origin of the symbol of the cross, whether in its
so-called Greek form, wherein the vivifying of matter by the Holy Ghost
is signified, or in its so-called Latin, whereby the Heavenly Man is
figured, the supernal Christ.[226]

"In tracing the symbolism of the Latin cross, or rather of the crucifix,
back into the night of time, the investigators had expected to find the
figure disappear, leaving behind what they supposed to be the earlier
cross-emblem. As a matter of fact exactly the reverse took place, and
they were startled to find that eventually the cross drops away, leaving
only the figure with uplifted arms. No longer is there any thought of
pain or sorrow connected with that figure, though still it tells of
sacrifice; rather is it now the symbol of the purest joy the world can
hold--the joy of freely giving--for it typifies the Divine Man standing
in space with arms upraised in blessing, casting abroad His gifts to all
humanity, pouring forth freely of Himself in all directions, descending
into that 'dense sea' of matter, to be cribbed, cabined, and confined
therein, in order that through that descent _we_ may come into
being."[227]

This sacrifice is perpetual, for in every form in this universe of
infinite diversity this life is enfolded, and is its very heart, the
"Heart of Silence" of the Egyptian ritual, the "Hidden God." This
sacrifice is the secret of evolution. The Divine Life, cabined within a
form, ever presses outwards in order that the form may expand, but
presses gently, lest the form should break ere yet it had reached its
utmost limit of expansion. With infinite patience and tact and
discretion, the divine One keeps up the constant pressure that expands,
without loosing a force that would disrupt. In every form, in mineral,
in vegetable, in animal, in man, this expansive energy of the Logos is
ceaselessly working. That is the evolutionary force, the lifting life
within the forms, the rising energy that science glimpses, but knows not
whence it comes. The botanist tells of an energy within the plant, that
pulls ever upwards; he knows not how, he knows not why, but he gives it
a name--the _vis a fronte_--because he finds it there, or rather finds
its results. Just as it is in plant life, so is it in other forms as
well, making them more and more expressive of the life within them. When
the limit of any form is reached, and it can grow no further, so that
nothing more can be gained through it by the soul of it--that germ of
Himself, which the Logos is brooding over--then He draws away His
energy, and the form disintegrates--we call it death and decay. But the
soul is with Him, and He shapes for it a new form, and the death of the
form is the birth of the soul into fuller life. If we saw with the eyes
of the Spirit instead of with the eyes of the flesh, we should not weep
over a form, which is a corpse giving back the materials out of which it
was builded, but we should joy over the life passing onwards into nobler
form, to expand under the unchanging process the powers still latent
within.

Through that perpetual sacrifice of the Logos all lives exist; it is the
life by which the universe is ever becoming. This life is One, but it
embodies itself in myriad forms, ever drawing them together and gently
overcoming their resistance. Thus it is an At-one-ment, a unifying
force, by which the separated lives are gradually made conscious of
their unity, labouring to develop in each a self-consciousness, which
shall at last know itself to be one with all others, and its root One
and divine.

This is the primary and ever-continued sacrifice, and it will be seen
that it is an outpouring of Life directed by Love, a voluntary and glad
pouring forth of Self for the making of other Selves. This is "the joy
of thy Lord"[228] into which the faithful servant enters, significantly
followed by the statement that He was hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, a
stranger and in prison, in the helped or neglected children of men. To
the free Spirit to give itself is joy, and it feels its life the more
keenly, the more it pours itself forth. And the more it gives, the more
it grows, for the law of the growth of life is that it increases by
pouring itself forth and not by drawing from without--by giving, not by
taking. Sacrifice, then, in its primary meaning, is a thing of joy; the
Logos pours Himself out to make a world, and, seeing the travail of His
soul, is satisfied.[229]

But the word has come to be associated with suffering, and in all
religious rites of sacrifice some suffering, if only that of a trivial
loss to the sacrificer, is present. It is well to understand how this
change has come about, so that when the word "sacrifice" is used the
instinctive connotation is one of pain.

The explanation is seen when we turn from the manifesting Life to the
forms in which it is embodied, and look at the question of sacrifice
from the side of the forms. While the life of Life is in giving, the
life, or persistence, of form is in taking, for the form is wasted as it
is exercised, it is diminished as it is exerted. If the form is to
continue, it must draw fresh material from outside itself in order to
repair its losses, else will it waste and vanish away. The form must
grasp, keep, build into itself what it has grasped, else it cannot
persist; and the law of growth of the form is to take and assimilate
that which the wider universe supplies. As the consciousness identifies
itself with the form, regarding the form as itself, sacrifice takes on a
painful aspect; to give, to surrender, to lose what has been acquired,
is felt to undermine the persistence of the form, and thus the Law of
Sacrifice becomes a law of pain instead of a law of joy.

Man had to learn by the constant breaking up of forms, and the pain
involved in the breaking, that he must not identify himself with the
wasting and changing forms, but with the growing persistent life, and he
was taught his lesson not only by external nature, but by the deliberate
lessons of the Teachers who gave him religions.

We can trace in the religions of the world four great stages of
instruction in the Law of Sacrifice. First, man was taught to sacrifice
part of his material possession in order to gain increased material
prosperity, and sacrifices were made in charity to men and in offerings
to Deities, as we may read in the scriptures of the Hindus, the
Zoroastrians, the Hebrews, indeed all the world over. The man gave up
something he valued to insure future prosperity to himself, his family,
his community, his nation. He sacrificed in the present to gain in the
future. Secondly, came a lesson a little harder to learn; instead of
physical prosperity and worldly good, the fruit to be gained by
sacrifice was celestial bliss. Heaven was to be won, happiness was to
be enjoyed on the other side of death--such was the reward for
sacrifices made during the life led on earth.

A considerable step forward was made when a man learned to give up the
things for which his body craved for the sake of a distant good which he
could not see nor demonstrate. He learned to surrender the visible for
the invisible, and in so doing rose in the scale of being; for so great
is the fascination of the visible and the tangible, that if a man be
able to surrender them for the sake of an unseen world in which he
believes, he has acquired much strength and has made a long step towards
the realisation of that unseen world. Over and over again martyrdom has
been endured, obloquy has been faced, man has learned to stand alone,
bearing all that his race could pour upon him of pain, misery, and
shame, looking to that which is beyond the grave. True, there still
remains in this a longing for celestial glory, but it is no small thing
to be able to stand alone on earth and rest on spiritual companionship,
to cling firmly to the inner life when the outer is all torture.

The third lesson came when a man, seeing himself as part of a greater
life, was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the whole, and so
became strong enough to recognise that sacrifice was right, that a part,
a fragment, a unit in the sum total of life, should subordinate the part
to the whole, the fragment to the totality. Then he learned to do right,
without being affected by the outcome to his own person, to do duty,
without wishing for result to himself, to endure because endurance was
right not because it would be crowned, to give because gifts were due to
humanity not because they would be repaid by the Lord. The hero-soul
thus trained was ready for the fourth lesson: that sacrifice of all the
separated fragment possesses is to be offered because the Spirit is not
really separate but is part of the divine Life, and knowing no
difference, feeling no separation, the man pours himself forth as part
of the Life Universal, and in the expression of that Life he shares the
joy of his Lord.

It is in the three earlier stages that the pain-aspect of sacrifice is
seen. The first meets but small sufferings; in the second the physical
life and all that earth has to give may be sacrificed; the third is the
great time of testing, of trying, of the growth and evolution of the
human soul. For in that stage duty may demand all in which life seems to
consist, and the man, still identified in _feeling_ with the form,
though _knowing_ himself theoretically to transcend it, finds that all
he feels as life is demanded of him, and questions: "If I let this go,
what then will remain?" It seems as though consciousness itself would
cease with this surrender, for it must loose its hold on all it
realises, and it sees nothing to grasp on the other side. An
over-mastering conviction, an imperious voice, call on him to surrender
his very life. If he shrinks back, he must go on in the life of
sensation, the life of the intellect, the life of the world, and as he
has the joys he dared not resign, he finds a constant dissatisfaction, a
constant craving, a constant regret and lack of pleasure in the world,
and he realises the truth of the saying of the Christ that "he that
will save his life shall lose it,"[230] and that the life that was loved
and clung to is only lost at last. Whereas if he risks all in obedience
to the voice that summons, if he throws away his life, then in losing
it, he finds it unto life eternal,[231] and he discovers that the life
he surrendered was only death in life, that all he gave up was illusion,
and that he found reality. In that choice the metal of the soul is
proved, and only the pure gold comes forth from the fiery furnace, where
life seemed to be surrendered but where life was won. And then follows
the joyous discovery that the life thus won is won for all, not for the
separated self, that the abandoning of the separated self has meant the
realising of the Self in man, and that the resignation of the limit
which alone seemed to make life possible has meant the pouring out into
myriad forms, an undreamed vividness and fulness, "the power of an
endless life."[232]

Such is an outline of the Law of Sacrifice, based on the primary
Sacrifice of the Logos, that Sacrifice of which all other sacrifices are
reflexions.

We have seen how the man Jesus, the Hebrew disciple, laid down His body
in glad surrender that a higher Life might descend and become embodied
in the form He thus willingly sacrificed, and how by that act He became
a Christ of full stature, to be the Guardian of Christianity, and to
pour out His life into the great religion founded by the Mighty One with
whom the sacrifice had identified Him. We have seen the Christ-Soul
passing through the great Initiations--born as a little child, stepping
down into the river of the world's sorrows, with the waters of which he
must be baptised into his active ministry, transfigured on the Mount,
led to the scene of his last combat, and triumphing over death. We have
now to see in what sense he is an atonement, how in the Christ-life the
Law of Sacrifice finds a perfect expression.

The beginning of what may be called the ministry of the Christ come to
manhood is in that intense and permanent sympathy with the world's
sorrows which is typified by the stepping down into the river. From that
time forward the life must be summed up in the phrase, "He went about
doing good;" for those who sacrifice the separated life to be a channel
of the divine Life, can have no interest in this world save the helping
of others. He learns to identify himself with the consciousness of those
around him, to feel as they feel, think as they think, enjoy as they
enjoy, suffer as they suffer, and thus he brings into his daily waking
life that sense of unity with others which he experiences in the higher
realms of being. He must develop a sympathy which vibrates in perfect
harmony with the many-toned chord of human life, so that he may link in
himself the human and the divine lives, and become a mediator between
heaven and earth.

Power is now manifested in him, for the Spirit is resting on him, and he
begins to stand out in the eyes of men as one of those who are able to
help their younger brethren to tread the path of life. As they gather
round him, they feel the power that comes out from him, the divine Life
in the accredited Son of the Highest. The souls that are hungry come to
him and he feeds them with the bread of life; the diseased with sin
approach him, and he heals them with the living word which cures the
sickness and makes whole the soul; the blind with ignorance draw nigh
him, and he opens their eyes by the light of his wisdom. It is the chief
mark in his ministry that the lowest and the poorest, the most desperate
and the most degraded, feel in approaching him no wall of separation,
feel as they throng around him welcome and not repulsion; for there
radiates from him a love that understands and that can therefore never
wish to repel. However low the soul may be, he never feels the
Christ-Soul as standing above him but rather as standing beside him,
treading with human feet the ground he also treads; yet as filled with
some strange uplifting power that raises him upwards and fills him also
with new impulse and fresh inspiration.

Thus he lives and labours, a true Saviour of men, until the time comes
when he must learn another lesson, losing for awhile his consciousness
of that divine Life of which his own has been becoming ever more and
more the expression. And this lesson is that the true centre of divine
Life lies within and not without. The Self has its centre within each
human soul--truly is "the centre everywhere," for Christ is _in_ all,
and God in Christ--and no embodied life, nothing "out of the
Eternal"[233] can help him in his direst need. He has to learn that the
true unity of Father and Son is to be found within and not without, and
this lesson can only come in uttermost isolation, when he feels forsaken
by the God outside himself. As this trial approaches, he cries out to
those who are nearest to him to watch with him through his hour of
darkness; and then, by the breaking of every human sympathy, the failing
of every human love, he finds himself thrown back on the life of the
divine Spirit, and cries out to his Father, feeling himself in conscious
union with Him, that the cup may pass away. Having stood alone, save for
that divine Helper, he is worthy to face the last ordeal, where the God
without him vanishes, and only the God within is left. "My God, my God,
why hast Thou forsaken me?" rings out the bitter cry of startled love
and fear. The last loneliness descends on him, and he feels himself
forsaken and alone. Yet never is the Father nearer to the Son than at
the moment when the Christ-Soul feels himself forsaken, for as he thus
touches the lowest depth of sorrow, the hour of his triumph begins to
dawn. For now he learns that he must himself become the God to whom he
cries, and by feeling the last pang of separation he finds the eternal
unity, he feels the fount of life is within, and knows himself eternal.

None can become fully a Saviour of men nor sympathise perfectly with all
human suffering, unless he has faced and conquered pain and fear and
death unaided, save by the aid he draws from the God within him. It is
easy to suffer when there is unbroken consciousness between the higher
and the lower; nay, suffering is not, while that consciousness remains
unbroken, for the light of the higher makes darkness in the lower
impossible, and pain is not pain when borne in the smile of God. There
is a suffering that men have to face, that every Saviour of man must
face, where darkness is on the human consciousness, and never a glimmer
of light comes through; he must know the pang of the despair felt by the
human soul when there is darkness on every side, and the groping
consciousness cannot find a hand to clasp. Into that darkness every Son
of Man goes down, ere he rises triumphant; that bitterest experience is
tasted by every Christ, ere he is "able to save them to the
uttermost"[234] who seek the Divine through him.

Such a one has become truly divine, a Saviour of men, and he takes up
the world-work for which all this has been the preparation. Into him
must pour all the forces that make against man, in order that in him
they may be changed into forces that help. Thus he becomes one of the
Peace-centres of the world, which transmute the forces of combat that
would otherwise crush man. For the Christs of the world are these
Peace-centres into which pour all warring forces, to be changed within
them and then poured out as forces that work for harmony.

Part of the sufferings of the Christ not yet perfect lies in this
harmonising of the discord-making forces in the world. Although a Son,
he yet learns by suffering and is thus "made perfect."[235] Humanity
would be far more full of combat and rent with strife were it not for
the Christ-disciples living in its midst, and harmonising many of the
warring forces into peace.

When it is said that the Christ suffers "for men," that His strength
replaces their weakness, His purity their sin, His wisdom their
ignorance, a truth is spoken; for the Christ so becomes one with men
that they share with Him and He with them. There is no substitution of
Him for them, but the taking of their lives into His, and the pouring of
His life into theirs. For, having risen to the plane of unity, He is
able to share all He has gained, to give all He has won. Standing above
the plane of separateness and looking down at the souls immersed in
separateness, He can reach each while they cannot reach each other.
Water can flow from above into many pipes, open to the reservoir though
closed as regards each other, and so He can send His life into each
soul. Only one condition is needed in order that a Christ may share His
strength with a younger brother: that in the separated life the human
consciousness will open itself to the divine, will show itself receptive
of the offered life, and take the freely outpoured gift. For so reverent
is God to that Spirit which is Himself in man, that He will not even
pour into the human soul a flood of strength and life unless that soul
is willing to receive it. There must be an opening from below as well as
an outpouring from above, the receptiveness of the lower nature as well
as the willingness of the higher to give. That is the link between the
Christ and the man; that is what the churches have called the outpouring
of "divine grace"; that is what is meant by the "faith" necessary to
make the grace effective. As Giordano Bruno once put it--the human soul
has windows, and can shut those windows close. The sun outside is
shining, the light is unchanging; let the windows be opened and the
sunlight must stream in. The light of God is beating against the windows
of every human soul, and when the windows are thrown open, the soul
becomes illuminated. There is no change in God, but there is a change in
man; and man's will may not be forced, else were the divine Life in him
blocked in its due evolution.

Thus in every Christ that rises, all humanity is lifted a step higher,
and by His wisdom the ignorance of the whole world is lessened. Each man
is less weak because of His strength, which pours out over all humanity
and enters the separated soul. Out of that doctrine, seen narrowly, and
therefore mis-seen, grew the idea of the vicarious Atonement as a legal
transaction between God and man, in which Jesus took the place of the
sinner. It was not understood that One who had touched that height was
verily one with all His brethren; identity of nature was mistaken for a
personal substitution, and thus the spiritual truth was lost in the
harshness of a judicial exchange.

"Then he comes to a knowledge of his place in the world, of his function
in nature--to be a Saviour and to make atonement for the sins of the
people. He stands in the inner Heart of the world, the Holy of Holies,
as a High Priest of Humanity. He is one with all his brethren, not by a
vicarious substitution, but by the unity of a common life. Is any
sinful? he is sinful in them, that his purity may purge them. Is any
sorrowful? in them he is the man of sorrows; every broken heart breaks
his, in every pierced heart his heart is pierced. Is any glad? in them
he is joyous, and pours out his bliss. Is any craving? in them he is
feeling want that he may fill them with his utter satisfaction. He has
everything, and because it is his it is theirs. He is perfect; then they
are perfect with him. He is strong; who then can be weak, since he is in
them? He climbed to his high place that he might pour out to all below
him, and he lives in order that all may share his life. He lifts the
whole world with him as he rises, the path is easier for all men,
because he has trodden it.

"Every son of man may become such a manifested Son of God, such a
Saviour of the world. In each such Son is 'God manifest in the
flesh,'[236] the atonement that aids all mankind, the living power that
makes all things new. Only one thing is needed to bring that power into
manifested activity in any individual soul; the soul must open the door
and let Him in. Even He, all-permeating, cannot force His way against
His brother's will; the human will can hold its own alike against God
and man, and by the law of evolution it must voluntarily associate
itself with divine action, and not be broken into sullen submission. Let
the will throw open the door, and the life will flood the soul. While
the door is closed it will only gently breathe through it its
unutterable fragrance, that the sweetness of that fragrance may win,
where the barrier may not be forced by strength.

"This it is, in part, to be a Christ; but how can mortal pen mirror the
immortal, or mortal words tell of that which is beyond the power of
speech? Tongue may not utter, the unillumined mind may not grasp, that
mystery of the Son who has become one with the Father, carrying in His
bosom the sons of men."[237]

Those who would prepare to rise to such a life in the future must begin
even now to tread in the lower life the path of the Shadow of the Cross.
Nor should they doubt their power to rise, for to do so is to doubt the
God within them. "Have faith in yourself," is one of the lessons that
comes from the higher view of man, for that faith is really in the God
within. There is a way by which the shadow of the Christ-life may fall
on the common life of man, and that is by doing every act as a
sacrifice, not for what it will bring to the doer but for what it will
bring to others, and, in the daily common life of small duties, petty
actions, narrow interests, by changing the motive and thus changing all.
Not one thing in the outer life need necessarily be varied; in any life
sacrifice may be offered, amid any surroundings God may be served.
Evolving spirituality is marked not by what a man does, but by how he
does it; not in the circumstances, but in the attitude of a man towards
them, lies the opportunity of growth. "And indeed this symbol of the
cross may be to us as a touchstone to distinguish the good from the evil
in many of the difficulties of life. 'Only those actions through which
shines the light of the cross are worthy of the life of the disciple,'
says one of the verses in a book of occult maxims; and it is interpreted
to mean that all that the aspirant does should be prompted by the
fervour of self-sacrificing love. The same thought appears in a later
verse: 'When one enters the path, he lays his heart upon the cross; when
the cross and the heart have become one, then hath he reached the goal.'
So, perchance, we may measure our progress by watching whether
selfishness or self-sacrifice is dominant in our lives."[238]

Every life which begins thus to shape itself is preparing the cave in
which the Child-Christ shall be born, and the life shall become a
constant at-one-ment, bringing the divine more and more into the human.
Every such life shall grow into the life of a "beloved Son," and shall
have in it the glory of the Christ. Every man may work in that direction
by making every act and power a sacrifice, until the gold is purged from
the dross, and only the pure ore remains.



CHAPTER VIII.

RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION


The doctrines of the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ also form part
of the Lesser Mysteries, being integral portions of "The Solar Myth,"
and of the life-story of the Christ in man.

As regards Christ Himself they have their historical basis in the facts
of His continuing to teach His apostles after His physical death, and of
His appearance in the Greater Mysteries as Hierophant after His direct
instructions had ceased, until Jesus took His place. In the mythic tales
the resurrection of the hero and his glorification invariably formed the
conclusion of his death-story; and in the Mysteries, the body of the
candidate was always thrown into a death-like trance, during which he,
as a liberated soul, travelled through the invisible world, returning
and reviving the body after three days. And in the life-story of the
individual, who is becoming a Christ, we shall find, as we study it,
that the dramas of the Resurrection and Ascension are repeated.

But before we can intelligently follow that story, we must master the
outlines of the human constitution, and understand the natural and
spiritual bodies of man. "There is a natural body, and there is a
spiritual body."[239]

There are still some uninstructed people who regard man as a mere
duality, made up of "soul" and "body." Such people use the words "soul"
and "spirit" as synonyms, and speak indifferently of "soul and body" or
"spirit and body," meaning that man is composed of two constituents, one
of which perishes at death, while the other survives. For the very
simple and ignorant this rough division is sufficient, but it will not
enable us to understand the mysteries of the Resurrection and
Ascension.

Every Christian who has made even a superficial study of the human
constitution recognises in it three distinct constituents--Spirit, Soul,
and Body. This division is sound, though needing further subdivision for
more profound study, and it has been used by S. Paul in his prayer that
"your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless."[240] That
threefold division is accepted in Christian Theology.

The Spirit itself is really a Trinity, the reflexion and image of the
Supreme Trinity, and this we shall study in the following chapter.[241]
The true man, the immortal, who is the Spirit, is the Trinity in man.
This is life, consciousness, and to this the spiritual body belongs,
each aspect of the Trinity having its own Body. The Soul is dual, and
comprises the mind and the emotional nature, with its appropriate
garments. And the Body is the material instrument of Spirit and Soul. In
one Christian view of man he is a twelve-fold being, six modifications
forming the spiritual man, and six the natural man; according to
another, he is divisible into fourteen, seven modifications of
consciousness and seven corresponding types of form. This latter view is
practically identical with that studied by Mystics, and it is usually
spoken of as seven-fold, because there are really seven divisions, each
being two-fold, having a life-side and a form-side.

These divisions and sub-divisions are somewhat confusing and perplexing
to the dull, and hence Origen and Clement, as we have seen,[242] laid
great stress on the need for intelligence on the part of all who desired
to become Gnostics. After all, those who find them troublesome can leave
them on one side, without grudging them to the earnest student, who
finds them not only illuminative, but absolutely necessary to any clear
understanding of the Mysteries of Life and Man.

The word Body means a vehicle of consciousness, or an instrument of
consciousness; that in which consciousness is carried about, as in a
vehicle, or which consciousness uses to contact the external world, as a
mechanic uses an instrument. Or, we may liken it to a vessel, in which
consciousness is held, as a jar holds liquid. It is a form used by a
life, and we know nothing of consciousness save as connected with such
forms. The form may be of rarest, subtlest, materials, may be so
diaphanous that we are only conscious of the indwelling life; still it
is there, and it is composed of Matter. It may be so dense, that it
hides the indwelling life, and we are conscious only of the form; still
the life is there, and it is composed of the opposite of Matter--Spirit.
The student must study and re-study this fundamental fact--the duality
of all manifested existence, the inseparable co-existence of Spirit and
Matter in a grain of dust, in the Logos, the God manifested. The idea
must become part of him; else must he give up the study of the Lesser
Mysteries. The Christ, as God and Man, only shows out on the kosmic
scale the same fact of duality that is repeated everywhere in nature. On
that original duality everything in the universe is formed.

Man has a "natural body," and this is made up of four different and
separable portions, and is subject to death. Two of these are composed
of physical matter, and are never completely separated from each other
until death, though a partial separation may be caused by anæsthetics,
or by disease. These two may be classed together as the Physical Body.
In this the man carries on his conscious activities while he is awake;
speaking technically, it is his vehicle of consciousness in the physical
world.

The third portion is the Desire Body, so called because man's feeling
and passional nature finds in this its special vehicle. In sleep, the
man leaves the physical body, and carries on his conscious activities in
this, which functions in the invisible world closest to our visible
earth. It is therefore his vehicle of consciousness in the lowest of the
super-physical worlds, which is also the first world into which men pass
at death.

The fourth portion is the Mental Body, so called because man's
intellectual nature, so far as it deals with the concrete, functions in
this. It is his vehicle of consciousness in the second of the
super-physical worlds, which is also the second, or lower heavenly
world, into which men pass after death, when freed from the world
alluded to in the preceding paragraph.

These four portions of his encircling form, made up of the dual physical
body, the desire body, and the mental body, form the natural body of
which S. Paul speaks.

This scientific analysis has fallen out of the ordinary Christian
teaching, which is vague and confused on this matter. It is not that the
churches have never possessed it; on the contrary, this knowledge of the
constitution of man formed part of the teachings in the Lesser
Mysteries; the simple division into Spirit, Soul, and Body was exoteric,
the first rough and ready division given as a foundation. The
subdivision as regards the "Body" was made in the course of later
instruction, as a preliminary to the training by which the instructor
enabled his pupil to separate one vehicle from another, and to use each
as a vehicle of consciousness in its appropriate region.

This conception should be readily enough grasped. If a man wants to
travel on the solid earth, he uses as his vehicle a carriage or a train.
If he wants to travel on the liquid seas, he changes his vehicle, and
takes a ship. If he wants to travel in the air, he changes his vehicle
again and uses a balloon. He is the same man throughout, but he is using
three different vehicles, according to the kind of matter he wants to
travel in. The analogy is rough and inadequate, but it is not
misleading. When a man is busy in the physical world, his vehicle is the
physical body, and his consciousness works in and through that body.
When he passes into the world beyond the physical, in sleep and at
death, his vehicle is the desire body, and he may learn to use this
consciously, as he uses the physical consciously. He already uses it
unconsciously every day of his life when he is feeling and desiring, as
well as every night of his life. When he goes on into the heavenly world
after death, his vehicle is the mental body, and this also he is daily
using, when he is thinking, and there would be no thought in the brain
were there none in the mental body.

Man has further "a spiritual body." This is made up of three separable
portions, each portion belonging to one of, and separating off, the
three Persons in the Trinity of the human Spirit. S. Paul speaks of
being "caught up to the third heaven," and of there hearing "unspeakable
words which it is not lawful for a man to utter."[243] These different
regions of the invisible supernal worlds are known to Initiates, and
they are well aware that those who pass beyond the first heaven need the
truly spiritual body as their vehicle, and that according to the
development of its three divisions is the heaven into which they can
penetrate.

The lowest of these three divisions is usually called the Causal Body,
for a reason that will be only fully assimilable by those who have
studied the teaching of Reincarnation--taught in the Early Church--and
who understand that human evolution needs very many successive lives on
earth, ere the germinal soul of the savage can become the perfected
soul of the Christ, and then, becoming perfect as the Father in
Heaven,[244] can realise the union of the Son with the Father.[245] It
is a body that lasts from life to life, and in it all memory of the past
is stored. From it come forth the causes that build up the lower bodies.
It is the receptacle of human experience, the treasure-house in which
all we gather in our lives is stored up, the seat of Conscience, the
wielder of the Will.

The second of the three divisions of the spiritual body is spoken of by
S. Paul in the significant words: "We have a building of God, an house
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."[246] That is the Bliss
Body, the glorified body of the Christ, "the Resurrection Body." It is
not a body which is "made with hands," by the working of consciousness
in the the lower vehicles; it is not formed by experience, not builded
out of the materials gathered by man in his long pilgrimage. It is a
body which belongs to the Christ-life, the life of Initiation; to the
divine unfoldment in man; it is builded of God, by the activity of the
Spirit, and grows during the whole life or lives of the Initiate, only
reaching its perfection at "the Resurrection."

The third division of the spiritual body is the fine film of subtle
matter that separates off the individual Spirit as a Being, and yet
permits the interpenetration of all by all, and is thus the expression
of the fundamental unity. In the day when the Son Himself shall "be
subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in
all,"[247] this film will be transcended, but for us it remains the
highest division of the spiritual body, in which we ascend to the
Father, and are united with Him.

Christianity has always recognised the existence of three worlds, or
regions, through which a man passes; first, the physical world;
secondly, an intermediate state into which he passes at death; thirdly,
the heavenly world. These three worlds are universally believed in by
educated Christians; only the uninstructed imagine that a man passes
from his death-bed into the final state of beatitude. But there is some
difference of opinion as to the nature of the intermediate world. The
Roman Catholic names it Purgatory, and believes that every soul passes
into it, save that of the Saint, the man who has reached perfection, or
that of a man who has died in "mortal sin." The great mass of humanity
pass into a purifying region, wherein a man remains for a period varying
in length according to the sins he has committed, only passing out of it
into the heavenly world when he has become pure. The various communities
that are called Protestant vary in their teachings as to details, and
mostly repudiate the idea of _post mortem_ purification; but they agree
broadly that there is an intermediate state, sometimes spoken of as
"Paradise," or as a "waiting period." The heavenly world is almost
universally, in modern Christendom, regarded as a final state, with no
very definite or general idea as to its nature, or as to the progress or
stationary condition of those attaining to it. In early Christianity
this heaven was considered to be, as it really is, a stage in the
progress of the soul, re-incarnation in one form or another, the
pre-existence of the soul, being then very generally taught. The result
was, of course, that the heavenly state was a temporary condition,
though often a very prolonged one, lasting for "an age"--as stated in
the Greek of the New Testament, the age being ended by the return of the
man for the next stage of his continuing life and progress--and not
"everlasting," as in the mistranslation of the English authorised
version.[248]

In order to complete the outline necessary for the understanding of the
Resurrection and Ascension, we must see how these various bodies are
developed in the higher evolution.

The physical body is in a constant state of flux, its minute particles
being continually renewed, so that it is ever building; and as it is
composed of the food we eat, the liquids we drink, the air we breathe,
and particles drawn from our physical surroundings, both people and
things, we can steadily purify it, by choosing its materials well, and
thus make it an ever purer vehicle through which to act, receptive of
subtler vibrations, responsive to purer desires, to nobler and more
elevated thoughts. For this reason all who aspired to attain to the
Mysteries were subjected to rules of diet, ablution, &c., and were
desired to be very careful as to the people with whom they associated,
and the places to which they went.

The desire body also changes, in similar fashion, but the materials for
it are expelled and drawn in by the play of the desires, arising from
the feelings, passions, and emotions. If these are coarse, the materials
built into the desire body are also coarse, while as these are purified,
the desire body grows subtle and becomes very sensitive to the higher
influences. In proportion as a man dominates his lower nature, and
becomes unselfish in his wishes, feelings, and emotions, as he makes his
love for those around him less selfish and grasping, he is purifying
this higher vehicle of consciousness; the result is that when out of the
body in sleep he has higher, purer, and more instructive experiences,
and when he leaves the physical body at death, he passes swiftly through
the intermediate state, the desire body disintegrating with great
rapidity, and not delaying him in his onward journey.

The mental body is similarly being built now, in this case by thoughts.
It will be the vehicle of consciousness in the heavenly world, but is
being built now by aspirations, by imagination, reason, judgment,
artistic faculties, by the use of all the mental powers. Such as the man
makes it, so must he wear it, and the length and richness of his
heavenly state depend on the kind of mental body he has built during his
life on earth.

As a man enters the higher evolution, this body comes into independent
activity on this side of death, and he gradually becomes conscious of
his heavenly life, even amid the whirl of mundane existence. Then he
becomes "the Son of man which is in heaven,"[249] who can speak with the
authority of knowledge on heavenly things. When the man begins to live
the life of the Son, having passed on to the Path of Holiness, he lives
in heaven while remaining on earth, coming into conscious possession and
use of this heavenly body. And inasmuch as heaven is not far away from
us, but surrounds us on every side, and we are only shut out from it by
our incapacity to feel its vibrations, not by their absence; inasmuch as
those vibrations are playing upon us at every moment of our lives; all
that is needed to be in Heaven is to become conscious of those
vibrations. We become conscious of them with the vitalising, the
organising, the evolution of this heavenly body, which, being builded
out of the heavenly materials, answers to the vibrations of the matter
of the heavenly world. Hence the "Son of man" is ever in heaven. But we
know that the "Son of man" is a term applied to the Initiate, not to
the Christ risen and glorified but to the Son while he is yet "being
made perfect."[250]

During the stages of evolution that lead up to and include the
Probationary Path, the first division of the spiritual body--the Causal
Body--develops rapidly, and enables the man, after death, to rise into
the second heaven. After the Second Birth, the birth of the Christ in
man, begins the building of the Bliss Body "in the heavens." This is the
body of the Christ, developing during the days of His service on earth,
and, as it develops, the consciousness of the "Son of God" becomes more
and more marked, and the coming union with the Father illuminates the
unfolding Spirit.

In the Christian Mysteries--as in the ancient Egyptian, Chaldean, and
others--there was an outer symbolism which expressed the stages through
which the man was passing. He was brought into the chamber of
Initiation, and was stretched on the ground with his arms extended,
sometimes on a cross of wood, sometimes merely on the stone floor, in
the posture of a crucified man. He was then touched with the thyrsus on
the heart--the "spear" of the crucifixion--and, leaving the body, he
passed into the worlds beyond, the body falling into a deep trance, the
death of the crucified. The body was placed in a sarcophagus of stone,
and there left, carefully guarded. Meanwhile the man himself was
treading first the strange obscure regions called "the heart of the
earth," and thereafter the heavenly mount, where he put on the perfected
bliss body, now fully organised as a vehicle of consciousness. In that
he returned to the body of flesh, to re-animate it. The cross bearing
that body, or the entranced and rigid body, if no cross had been used,
was lifted out of the sarcophagus and placed on a sloping surface,
facing the east, ready for the rising of the sun on the third day. At
the moment that the rays of the sun touched the face, the Christ, the
perfected Initiate or Master, re-entered the body, glorifying it by the
bliss body He was wearing, changing the body of flesh by contact with
the body of bliss, giving it new properties, new powers, new capacities,
transmuting it into His own likeness. That was the Resurrection of the
Christ, and thereafter the body of flesh itself was changed, and took on
a new nature.

This is why the sun has ever been taken as the symbol of the rising
Christ, and why, in Easter hymns, there is constant reference to the
rising of the Sun of Righteousness. So also is it written of the
triumphant Christ: "I am He that liveth and was dead; and behold, I am
alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."[251]
All the powers of the lower worlds have been taken under the dominion of
the Son, who has triumphed gloriously; over Him death no more has power,
"He holdeth life and death in His strong hand."[252] He is the risen
Christ, the Christ triumphant.

The Ascension of the Christ was the Mystery of the third part of the
spiritual body, the putting on of the Vesture of Glory, preparatory to
the union of the Son with the Father, of man with God, when the Spirit
re-entered the glory it had "before the world was."[253] Then the triple
Spirit becomes one, knows itself eternal, and the Hidden God is found.
That is imaged in the doctrine of the Ascension, so far as the
individual is concerned.

The Ascension for humanity is when the whole race has attained the
Christ condition, the state of the Son, and that Son becomes one with
the Father, and God is all in all. That is the goal, prefigured in the
triumph of the Initiate, but reached only when the human race is
perfected, and when "the great orphan Humanity" is no longer an orphan,
but consciously recognises itself as the Son of God.

Thus studying the doctrines of the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the
Ascension, we reach the truths unfolded concerning them in the Lesser
Mysteries, and we begin to understand the full truth of the apostolic
teaching that Christ was not a unique personality, but "the first
fruits of them that slept,"[254] and that every man was to become a
Christ. Not then was the Christ regarded as an external Saviour, by
whose imputed righteousness men were to be saved from divine wrath.
There was current in the Church the glorious and inspiring teaching that
He was but the first fruits of humanity, the model that every man should
reproduce in himself, the life that all should share. The Initiates have
ever been regarded as these first fruits, the promise of a race made
perfect. To the early Christian, Christ was the living symbol of his own
divinity, the glorious fruit of the seed he bore in his own heart. Not
to be saved by an external Christ, but to be glorified into an inner
Christ, was the teaching of esoteric Christianity, of the Lesser
Mysteries. The stage of discipleship was to pass into that of Sonship.
The life of the Son was to be lived among men till it was closed by the
Resurrection, and the glorified Christ became one of the perfected
Saviours of the world.

How far greater a Gospel than the one of modern days! Placed beside that
grandiose ideal of esoteric Christianity, the exoteric teaching of the
churches seems narrow and poor indeed.



CHAPTER IX.

THE TRINITY.


All fruitful study of the Divine Existence must start from the
affirmation that it is One. All the Sages have thus proclaimed It; every
religion has thus affirmed It; every philosophy thus posits It--"One
only without a second."[255] "Hear, O Israel!" cried Moses, "The Lord
our God is one Lord."[256] "To us there is but one God,"[257] declares
S. Paul. "There is no God but God," affirms the founder of Islâm, and
makes the phrase the symbol of his faith. One Existence unbounded, known
in Its fulness only to Itself--the word It seems more reverent and
inclusive than He, and is therefore used. That is the Eternal Darkness,
out of which is born the Light.

But as the Manifested God, the One appears as Three. A Trinity of Divine
Beings, One as God, Three as manifested Powers. This also has ever been
declared, and the truth is so vital in its relation to man and his
evolution that it is one which ever forms an essential part of the
Lesser Mysteries.

Among the Hebrews, in consequence of their anthropomorphising
tendencies, the doctrine was kept secret, but the Rabbis studied and
worshipped the Ancient of Days, from whom came forth the Wisdom, from
whom the Understanding--Kether, Chochmah, Binah, these formed the
Supreme Trinity, the shining forth in time of the One beyond time. The
Book of the Wisdom of Solomon refers to this teaching, making Wisdom a
Being. "According to Maurice, 'The first Sephira, who is denominated
Kether the Crown, Kadmon the pure Light, and En Soph the Infinite,[258]
is the omnipotent Father of the universe.... The second is the
Chochmah, whom we have sufficiently proved, both from sacred and
Rabbinical writings, to be the creative Wisdom. The third is the Binah,
or heavenly Intelligence, whence the Egyptians had their Cneph, and
Plato his _Nous Demiurgos_. He is the Holy Spirit who ... pervades,
animates, and governs this boundless universe.'"[259]

The bearing of this doctrine on Christian teaching is indicated by Dean
Milman in his _History of Christianity_. He says: "This Being [the Word
or the Wisdom] was more or less distinctly impersonated, according to
the more popular or more philosophic, the more material or the more
abstract, notions of the age or people. This was the doctrine from the
Ganges, or even the shores of the Yellow Sea, to the Ilissus; it was the
fundamental principle of the Indian religion and the Indian philosophy;
it was the basis of Zoroastrianism; it was pure Platonism; it was the
Platonic Judaism of the Alexandrian school. Many fine passages might be
quoted from Philo on the impossibility that the first self-existing
Being should become cognisable to the sense of man; and even in
Palestine, no doubt, John the Baptist and our Lord Himself spoke no new
doctrine, but rather the common sentiment of the more enlightened, when
they declared 'that no man had seen God at any time.' In conformity with
this principle the Jews, in the interpretation of the older Scriptures,
instead of direct and sensible communication from the one great Deity,
had interposed either one or more intermediate beings as the channels of
communication. According to one accredited tradition alluded to by S.
Stephen, the law was delivered 'by the disposition of angels'; according
to another this office was delegated to a single angel, sometimes called
the Angel of the Law (see Gal. iii. 19); at others the Metatron. But the
more ordinary representative, as it were, of God, to the sense and mind
of man, was the Memra, or the Divine Word; and it is remarkable that the
same appellation is found in the Indian, the Persian, the Platonic, and
the Alexandrian systems. By the Targumists, the earliest Jewish
commentators on the Scriptures, this term had been already applied to
the Messiah; nor is it necessary to observe the manner in which it has
been sanctified by its introduction into the Christian scheme."[260]

As above said by the learned Dean, the idea of the Word, the Logos, was
universal, and it formed part of the idea of a Trinity. Among the
Hindus, the philosophers speak of the manifested Brahman as
Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence, Intelligence, and Bliss. Popularly, the
Manifested God is a Trinity; Shiva, the Beginning and the End; Vishnu,
the Preserver; Brahmâ, the Creator of the Universe. The Zoroastrian
faith presents a similar Trinity; Ahuramazdao, the Great One, the First;
then "the twins," the dual Second Person--for the Second Person in a
Trinity is ever dual, deteriorated in modern days into an opposing God
and Devil--and the Universal Wisdom, Armaiti. In Northern Buddhism we
find Amitâbha, the boundless Light; Avalokiteshvara, the source of
incarnations, and the Universal Mind, Mandjusri. In Southern Buddhism
the idea of God has faded away, but with significant tenacity the
triplicity re-appears as that in which the Southern Buddhist takes his
refuge--the Buddha, the Dharma (the Doctrine), the Sangha (the Order).
But the Buddha Himself is sometimes worshipped as a Trinity; on a stone
in Buddha Gaya is inscribed a salutation to Him as an incarnation of the
Eternal One, and it is said: "Om! Thou art Brahmâ, Vishnu, and Mahesha
(Shiva) ... I adore Thee, who art celebrated by a thousand names and
under various forms, in the shape of Buddha, the God of Mercy."[261]

In extinct religions the same idea of a Trinity is found. In Egypt it
dominated all religious worship. "We have a hieoroglyphical inscription
in the British Museum as early as the reign of Senechus of the eighth
century before the Christian era, showing that the doctrine of Trinity
in Unity already formed part of their religion."[262] This is true of a
far earlier date. Râ, Osiris, and Horus formed one widely worshipped
Trinity; Osiris, Isis, and Horus were worshipped at Abydos; other names
are given in different cities, and the triangle is the frequently used
symbol of the Triune God. The idea which underlay these Trinities,
however named, is shown in a passage quoted from Marutho, in which an
oracle, rebuking the pride of Alexander the Great, speaks of: "First
God, then the Word, and with Them the Spirit."[263]

In Chaldæa, Anu, Ea, and Bel were the Supreme Trinity, Anu being the
Origin of all, Ea the Wisdom, and Bel the creative Spirit. Of China
Williamson remarks: "In ancient China the emperors used to sacrifice
every third year to 'Him who is one and three.' There was a Chinese
saying, 'Fo is one person but has three forms.' ... In the lofty
philosophical system known in China as Taoism, a trinity also figures:
'Eternal Reason produced One, One produced Two, Two produced Three, and
Three produced all things,' which, as Le Compte goes on to say, 'seems
to show as if they had some knowledge of the Trinity.'"[264]

In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity we find a complete agreement
with other faiths as to the functions of the three Divine Persons, the
word Person coming from _persona_, a mask, that which covers something,
the mask of the One Existence, Its Self-revelation under a form. The
Father is the Origin and End of all; the Son is dual in His nature, and
is the Word, or the Wisdom; the Holy Spirit is the creative
Intelligence, that brooding over the chaos of primeval matter organises
it into the materials out of which forms can be constructed.

It is this identity of functions under so many varying names which shows
that we have here not a mere outer likeness, but an expression of an
inner truth. There is something of which this triplicity is a
manifestation, something that can be traced in nature and in evolution,
and which, being recognised, will render intelligible the growth of man,
the stages of his evolving life. Further, we find that in the universal
language of symbolism the Persons are distinguished by certain emblems,
and may be recognised by these under diversity of forms and names.

But there is one other point that must be remembered ere we leave the
exoteric statement of the Trinity--that in connection with all these
Trinities there is a fourth fundamental manifestation, the Power of the
God, and this has always a feminine form. In Hinduism each Person in the
Trinity has His manifested Power, the One and these six aspects making
up the sacred Seven. With many of the Trinities one feminine form
appears, then ever specially connected with the Second Person, and then
there is the sacred Quaternary.

Let us now see the inner truth.

The One becomes manifest as the First Being, the Self-Existent Lord, the
Root of all, the Supreme Father; the word Will, or Power, seems best to
express this primary Self-revealing, since until there is Will to
manifest there can be no manifestation, and until there is Will
manifested, impulse is lacking for further unfoldment. The universe may
be said to be rooted in the divine Will. Then follows the second aspect
of the One--Wisdom; Power is guided by Wisdom, and therefore it is
written that "without Him was not anything made that is made;"[265]
Wisdom is dual in its nature, as will presently be seen. When the
aspects of Will and Wisdom are revealed, a third aspect must follow to
make them effective--Creative Intelligence, the divine mind in Action. A
Jewish prophet writes: "He hath made the earth by His Power, He hath
established the world by His Wisdom; and hath stretched out the heaven
by His Understanding,"[266] the reference to the three functions being
very clear.[267] These Three are inseparable, indivisible, three aspects
of One. Their functions may be thought of separately, for the sake of
clearness, but cannot be disjoined. Each is necessary to each, and each
is present in each. In the First Being, Will, Power, is seen as
predominant, as characteristic, but Wisdom and Creative Action are also
present; in the Second Being, Wisdom is seen as predominant, but Power
and Creative Action are none the less inherent in Him; in the Third
Being, Creative Action is seen as predominant, but Power and Wisdom are
ever also to be seen. And though the words First, Second, Third are
used, because the Beings are thus manifested in Time, in the order of
Self-unfolding, yet in Eternity they are known as interdependent and
co-equal, "None is greater or less than Another."[268]

This Trinity is the divine Self, the divine Spirit, the Manifested God,
He that "was and is and is to come,"[269] and He is the root of the
fundamental triplicity in life, in consciousness.

But we saw that there was a Fourth Person, or in some religions a second
Trinity, feminine, the Mother. This is That which makes manifestation
possible, That which eternally in the One is the root of limitation and
division, and which, when manifested, is called Matter. This is the
divine Not-Self, the divine Matter, the manifested Nature. Regarded as
One, She is the Fourth, making possible the activity of the Three, the
Field of Their operations by virtue of Her infinite divisibility, at
once the "Handmaid of the Lord,"[270] and also His Mother, yielding of
Her substance to form His Body, the universe, when overshadowed by His
power.[271] Regarded carefully She is seen to be triple also, existing
in three inseparable aspects, without which She could not be. These are
Stability--Inertia or Resistance--Motion, and Rhythm; the fundamental or
essential qualities of Matter, these are called. They alone render
Spirit effective, and have therefore been regarded as the manifested
Powers of the Trinity. Stability or Inertia affords a basis, the fulcrum
for the lever; Motion is then rendered manifest, but could make only
chaos, then Rhythm is imposed, and there is Matter in vibration, capable
of being shaped and moulded. When the three qualities are in
equilibrium, there is the One, the Virgin Matter, unproductive. When the
power of the Highest overshadows Her, and the breath of the Spirit comes
upon Her, the qualities are thrown out of equilibrium, and She becomes
the divine Mother of the worlds.

The first interaction is between Her and the Third Person of the
Trinity; by His action She becomes capable of giving birth to form. Then
is revealed the Second Person, who clothes Himself in the material thus
provided, and thus become the Mediator, linking in His own Person Spirit
and Matter, the Archetype of all forms. Only through Him does the First
Person become revealed, as the Father of all Spirits.

It is now possible to see why the Second Person of the Trinity of Spirit
is ever dual; He is the One who clothes Himself in Matter, in whom the
twin-halves of Deity appear in union, not as one. Hence also is He
Wisdom; for Wisdom on the side of Spirit is the Pure Reason that knows
itself as the One Self and knows all things in that Self, and on the
side of Matter it is Love, drawing the infinite diversity of forms
together, and making each form a unit, not a mere heap of particles--the
principle of attraction which holds the worlds and all in them in a
perfect order and balance. This is the Wisdom which is spoken of as
"mightily and sweetly ordering all things,"[272] which sustains and
preserves the universe.

In the world-symbols, found in every religion, the Point--that which has
position only--has been taken as a symbol of the First Person in the
Trinity. On this symbol St. Clement of Alexandria remarks that we
abstract from a body its properties, then depth, then breadth, then
length; "the point which remains is a unit, so to speak, having
position; from which if we abstract position, there is the conception of
unity."[273] He shines out, as it were, from the infinite Darkness, a
Point of Light, the centre of a future universe, a Unit, in whom all
exists inseparate; the matter which is to form the universe, the field
of His work, is marked out by the backward and forward vibration of the
Point in every direction, a vast sphere, limited by His Will, His Power.
This is the making of "the earth by His Power," spoken of by
Jeremiah.[274] Thus the full symbol is a Point within a sphere,
represented usually as a Point within a circle. The Second Person is
represented by a Line, a diameter of this circle, a single complete
vibration of the Point, and this Line is equally in every direction
within the sphere; this Line dividing the circle in twain signifies also
His duality, that in Him Matter and Spirit--a unity in the First
Person--are visibly two, though in union. The Third Person is
represented by a Cross formed by two diameters at right angles to each
other within the circle, the second line of the Cross separating the
upper part of the circle from the lower. This is the Greek Cross.[275]

When the Trinity is represented as a Unity, the Triangle is used,
either inscribed within a circle, or free. The universe is symbolised
by two triangles interlaced, the Trinity of Spirit with the apex of the
triangle upward, the Trinity of Matter with the apex of the triangle
downward, and if colours are used, the first is white, yellow, golden or
flame-coloured, and the second black, or some dark shade.

The kosmic process can now be readily followed. The One has become Two,
and the Two Three, and the Trinity is revealed. The Matter of the
universe is marked out and awaits the action of Spirit. This is the "in
the beginning" of Genesis, when "God created the heaven and the
earth,"[276] a statement further elucidated by the repeated phrases that
He "laid the foundations of the earth;"[277] we have here the marking
out of the material, but a mere chaos, "without form and void."[278]

On this begins the action of the Creative Intelligence, the Holy Spirit,
who "moved upon the face of the waters,"[279] the vast ocean of matter.
Thus His was the first activity, though He was the Third Person--a point
of great importance.

In the Mysteries this work was shown in its detail as the preparation of
the matter of the universe, the formation of atoms, the drawing of these
together into aggregates, and the grouping of these together into
elements, and of these again into gaseous, liquid, and solid compounds.
This work includes not only the kind of matter called physical, but also
all the subtle states of matter in the invisible worlds. He further as
the "Spirit of Understanding" conceived the forms into which the
prepared matter should be shaped, not building the forms, but by the
action of the Creative Intelligence producing the Ideas of them, the
heavenly prototypes, as they are often called. This is the work referred
to when it is written, He "stretched out the heaven by His
Understanding."[280]

The work of the Second Person follows that of the Third. He by virtue of
His Wisdom "established the world,"[281] building all globes and all
things upon them, "all things were made by Him."[282] He is the
organising Life of the worlds, and all beings are rooted in Him.[283]
The life of the Son thus manifested in the matter prepared by the Holy
Spirit--again the great "Myth" of the Incarnation--is the life that
builds up, preserves, and maintains all forms, for He is the Love, the
attracting power, that gives cohesion to forms, enabling them to grow
without falling apart, the Preserver, the Supporter, the Saviour. That
is why all must be subject to the Son,[284] all must be gathered up in
Him, and why "no man cometh unto the Father but by" Him.[285]

For the work of the First Person follows that of the Second, as that of
the Second follows that of the Third. He is spoken of as "the Father of
Spirits,"[286] the "God of the Spirits of all flesh,"[287] and His is
the gift of the divine Spirit, the true Self in man. The human Spirit
is the outpoured divine Life of the Father, poured into the vessel
prepared by the Son, out of the materials vivified by the Spirit. And
this Spirit in man, being from the Father--from whom came forth the Son
and the Holy Spirit--is a Unity like Himself, with the three aspects in
One, and man is thus truly made "in our image, after our likeness,"[288]
and is able to become "perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven
is perfect."[289]

Such is the kosmic process, and in human evolution it is repeated; "as
above, so below."

The Trinity of the Spirit in man, being in the divine likeness, must
show out the divine characteristics, and thus we find in him Power,
which, whether in its higher form of Will or its lower form of Desire,
gives the impulse to his evolution. We find also in him Wisdom, the Pure
Reason, which has Love as its expression in the world of forms, and
lastly Intelligence, or Mind, the active shaping energy. And in man
also we find that the manifestation of these in his evolution is from
the third to the second, and from the second to the first. The mass of
humanity is unfolding the mind, evolving the intelligence, and we can
see its separative action everywhere, isolating, as it were, the human
atoms and developing each severally, so that they may be fit materials
for building up a divine Humanity. To this point only has the race
arrived, and here it is still working.

As we study a small minority of our race, we see that the second aspect
of the divine Spirit in man is appearing, and we speak of it in
Christendom as the Christ in man. Its evolution lies, as we have seen,
beyond the first of the Great Initiations, and Wisdom and Love are the
marks of the Initiate, shining out more and more as he develops this
aspect of the Spirit. Here again is it true that "no man cometh to the
Father but by Me," for only when the life of the Son is touching on
completion can He pray: "Now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own
Self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."[290]
Then the Son ascends to the Father and becomes one with Him in the
divine glory; He manifests self-existence, the existence inherent in his
divine nature, unfolded from seed to flower, for "as the Father hath
life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in
Himself."[291] He becomes a living self-conscious Centre in the Life of
God, a Centre able to exist as such, no longer bound by the limitations
of his earlier life, expanding to divine consciousness, while keeping
the identity of his life unshaken, a living, fiery Centre in the divine
Flame.

In this evolution now lies the possibility of divine Incarnations in the
future, as this evolution in the past has rendered possible divine
Incarnations in our own world. These living Centres do not lose Their
identity, nor the memory of Their past, of aught that They have
experienced in the long climb upwards; and such a Self-conscious Being
can come forth from the Bosom of the Father, and reveal Himself for the
helping of the world. He has maintained the union in Himself of Spirit
and Matter, the duality of the Second Person--all divine Incarnations in
all religions are therefore connected with the Second Person in the
Trinity--and hence can readily re-clothe Himself for physical
manifestation, and again become Man. This nature of the Mediator He has
retained, and is thus a link between the celestial and terrestrial
Trinities, "God with us"[292] He has ever been called.

Such a Being, the glorious fruit of a past universe, can come into the
present world with all the perfection of His divine Wisdom and Love,
with all the memory of His past, able by virtue of that memory to be the
perfect Helper of every living Being, knowing every stage because He has
lived it, able to help at every point because He has experienced all.
"In that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour
them that are tempted."[293]

It is in the humanity behind Him that lies this possibility of divine
Incarnation; He comes down, having climbed up, in order to help others
to climb the ladder. And as we understand these truths, and something of
the meaning of the Trinity, above and below, what was once a mere hard
unintelligible dogma becomes a living and vivifying truth. Only by the
existence of the Trinity in man is human evolution intelligible, and we
see how man evolves the life of the intellect, and then the life of the
Christ. On that fact mysticism is based, and our sure hope that we shall
know God. Thus have the Sages taught, and as we tread the Path they
show, we find that their testimony is true.



CHAPTER X.

PRAYER.[294]


What is sometimes called "the modern spirit" is exceedingly antagonistic
to prayer, failing to see any causal nexus between the uttering of a
petition and the happening of an event, whereas the religious spirit is
as strongly attached to it, and finds its very life in prayer. Yet even
the religious man sometimes feels uneasy as to the rationale of prayer;
is he teaching the All-wise, is he urging beneficence on the All-Good,
is he altering the will of Him in "whom is no variableness, neither
shadow of turning?"[295] Yet he finds in his own experience and in that
of others "answers to prayer," a definite sequence of a request and a
fulfilment.

Many of these do not refer to subjective experiences, but to hard facts
of the so-called objective world. A man has prayed for money, and the
post has brought him the required amount; a woman has prayed for food,
and food has been brought to her door. In connection with charitable
undertakings, especially, there is plenty of evidence of help prayed for
in urgent need, and of speedy and liberal response. On the other hand,
there is also plenty of evidence of prayers left unanswered; of the
hungry starving to death, of the child snatched from its mother's arms
by disease, despite the most passionate appeals to God. Any true view of
prayer must take into account all these facts.

Nor is this all. There are many facts in this experience which are
strange and puzzling. A prayer that perhaps is trivial meets with an
answer, while another on an important matter fails; a passing trouble is
relieved, while a prayer poured out to save a passionately beloved life
finds no response. It seems almost impossible for the ordinary student
to discover the law according to which a prayer is or is not
productive.

The first thing necessary in seeking to understand this law is to
analyse prayer itself, for the word is used to cover various activities
of the consciousness, and prayers cannot be dealt with as though they
formed a simple whole. There are prayers which are petitions for
definite worldly advantages, for the supply of physical
necessities--prayers for food, clothing, money, employment, success in
business, recovery from illness, &c. These may be grouped together as
class A. Then we have prayers for help in moral and intellectual
difficulties and for spiritual growth--for the overcoming of
temptations, for strength, for insight, for enlightenment. These may be
grouped as Class B. Lastly, there are the prayers that ask for nothing,
that consist in meditation on and adoration of the divine Perfection, in
intense aspiration for union with God--the ecstasy of the mystic, the
meditation of the sage, the soaring rapture of the saint. This is the
true "communion between the Divine and the human," when the man pours
himself out in love and veneration for THAT which is inherently
attractive, that compels the love of the heart. These we will call Class C.

In the invisible worlds there exist many kinds of Intelligences, which
come into relationship with man, a veritable Jacob's ladder, on which
the Angels of God ascend and descend, and above which stands the Lord
Himself.[296] Some of these Intelligences are mighty spiritual Powers,
others are exceedingly limited beings, inferior in consciousness to man.
This occult side of Nature--of which more will presently be
said[297]--is a fact, recognised by all religions. All the world is
filled with living things, invisible to fleshly eyes. The invisible
worlds interpenetrate the visible, and crowds of intelligent beings
throng round us on every side. Some of these are accessible to human
requests, and others are amenable to the human will. Christianity
recognises the existence of the higher classes of Intelligences under
the general name of Angels, and teaches that they are "ministering
spirits, sent forth to minister;"[298] but what is their ministry, what
the nature of their work, what their relationship to human beings, all
that was part of the instruction given in the Lesser Mysteries, as the
actual communication with them was enjoyed in the Greater, but in modern
days these truths have sunk into the background, except the little that
is taught in the Greek and Roman communions. For the Protestant, "the
ministry of angels" is little more than a phrase. In addition to all
these, man is himself a constant creator of invisible beings, for the
vibrations of his thoughts and desires create forms of subtle matter the
only life of which is the thought or the desire which ensouls them; he
thus creates an army of invisible servants, who range through the
invisible worlds seeking to do his will. Yet, again, there are in these
worlds human helpers, who work there in their subtle bodies while their
physical bodies are sleeping, whose attentive ear may catch a cry for
help. And to crown all, there is the ever-present, ever-conscious Life
of God Himself, potent and responsive at every point of His realm, of
Him without whose knowledge not a sparrow falleth to the ground,[299]
not a dumb creature thrills in joy or pain, not a child laughs or
sobs--that all-pervading, all-embracing, all-sustaining Life and Love,
in which we live and move.[300] As nought that can give pleasure or pain
can touch the human body without the sensory nerves carrying the message
of its impact to the brain-centres, and as there thrills down from those
centres through the motor nerves the answer that welcomes or repels, so
does every vibration in the universe, which is His body, touch the
consciousness of God, and draw thence responsive action. Nerve-cells,
nerve-threads, and muscular fibres may be the agents of feeling and
moving, but it is the _man_ that feels and acts; so may myriads of
Intelligences be the agents, but it is God who knows and answers.
Nothing can be so small as not to affect that delicate omnipresent
consciousness, nothing so vast as to transcend it. We are so limited
that the very idea of such an all-embracing consciousness staggers and
confounds us; yet perhaps a gnat might be as hard bestead if he tried to
measure the consciousness of Pythagoras. Professor Huxley, in a
remarkable passage, has imagined the possibility of the existence of
beings rising higher and higher in intelligence, the consciousness ever
expanding, and the reaching of a stage as much above the human as the
human is above that of the blackbeetle.[301] That is not a flight of the
scientific imagination, but a description of a fact. There is a Being
whose consciousness is present at every point of His universe, and
therefore can be affected from any point. That consciousness is not only
vast in its field, but inconceivably acute, not diminished in delicate
capacity to respond because it stretches its vast area in every
direction, but is more responsive than a more limited consciousness,
more perfect in understanding than the more restricted. So far from it
being the case that the more exalted the Being the more difficult would
it be to reach His consciousness, the very reverse is true. The more
exalted the Being, the more easily is His consciousness affected.

Now this all-pervading Life is everywhere utilising as channels all the
embodied lives to which He has given birth, and any one of them may be
used as an agent of that all-conscious Will. In order that that Will may
express itself in the outer world, a means of expression must be found,
and these beings, in proportion to their receptivity, offer the
necessary channels, and become the intermediary workers between one
point of the kosmos and another. They act as the motor nerves of His
body, and bring about the required action.

Let us now take the classes into which we have divided prayers, and see
the methods by which they will be answered.

When a man utters a prayer of Class A there are several means by which
his prayer may be answered. Such a man is simple in his nature, with a
conception of God natural, inevitable, at the stage of evolution in
which he is; he regards Him as the supplier of his own needs, in close
and immediate touch with his daily necessities, and he turns to Him for
his daily bread as naturally as a child turns to his father or mother. A
typical instance of this is the case of George Müller, of Bristol,
before he was known to the world as a philanthropist, when he was
beginning his charitable work, and was without friends or money. He
prayed for food for the children who had no resource save his bounty,
and money always came sufficient for the immediate needs. What had
happened? His prayer was a strong, energetic desire, and that desire
creates a form, of which it is the life and directing energy. That
vibrating, living creature has but one idea, the idea that ensouls
it--help is wanted, food is wanted; and it ranges the subtle world,
seeking. A charitable man desires to give help to the needy, is seeking
opportunity to give. As the magnet to soft iron, so is such a person to
the desire-form, and it is attracted to him. It rouses in his brain
vibrations identical with its own--George Müller, his orphanage, its
needs--and he sees the outlet for his charitable impulse, draws a
cheque, and sends it. Quite naturally, George Müller would say that God
put it into the heart of such a one to give the needed help. In the
deepest sense of the words that is true, since there is no life, no
energy, in His universe that does not come from God; but the
intermediate agency, according to the divine laws, is the desire-form
created by the prayer.

The result could be obtained equally well by a deliberate exercise of
the will, without any prayer, by a person who understood the mechanism
concerned, and the way to put it in motion. Such a man would think
clearly of what he needed, would draw to him the kind of subtle matter
best suited to his purpose to clothe the thought, and by a deliberate
exercise of his will would either send it to a definite person to
represent his need, or to range his neighbourhood and be attracted by a
charitably disposed person. There is here no prayer, but a conscious
exercise of will and knowledge.

In the case of most people, however, ignorant of the forces of the
invisible worlds and unaccustomed to exercise their wills, the
concentration of mind and the earnest desire which are necessary for
successful action are far more easily reached by prayer than by a
deliberate mental effort to put forth their own strength. They would
doubt their own power, even if they understood the theory, and doubt is
fatal to the exercise of the will. That the person who prays does not
understand the machinery he sets going in no wise affects the result. A
child who stretches out his hand and grasps an object need not
understand anything of the working of the muscles, nor of the electrical
and chemical changes set up by the movement in muscles and nerves, nor
need he elaborately calculate the distance of the object by measuring
the angle made by the optic axes; he wills to take hold of the thing he
wants, and the apparatus of his body obeys his will though he does not
even know of its existence. So is it with the man who prays, unknowing
of the creative force of his thought, of the living creature he has
sent out to do his bidding. He acts as unconsciously as the child, and
like the child grasps what he wants. In both cases God is equally the
primal Agent, all power being from Him; in both cases the actual work is
done by the apparatus provided by His laws.

But this is not the only way in which prayers of this class are
answered. Some one temporarily out of the physical body and at work in
the invisible worlds, or a passing Angel, may hear the cry for help, and
may then put the thought of sending the required aid into the brain of
some charitable person. "The thought of so-and-so came into my head this
morning," such a person will say. "I daresay a cheque would be useful to
him." Very many prayers are answered in this way, the link between the
need and the supply being some invisible Intelligence. Herein is part of
the ministry of the lower Angels, and they will thus supply personal
necessities, as well as bring aid to charitable undertakings.

The failure of prayers of this class is due to another hidden cause.
Every man has contracted debts which have to be paid; his wrong
thoughts, wrong desires, and wrong actions have built up obstacles in
his way, and sometimes even hem him in as the walls of a prison-house. A
debt of wrong is discharged by a payment of suffering; a man must bear
the consequences of the wrongs he has wrought. A man condemned to die of
starvation by his own wrong-doing in the past, may hurl his prayers
against that destiny in vain. The desire-form he creates will seek but
will not find; it will be met and thrown back by the current of past
wrong. Here, as everywhere, we are living in a realm of law, and forces
may be modified or entirely frustrated by the play of other forces with
which they come into contact. Two exactly similar forces might be
applied to two exactly similar balls; in one case, no other force might
be applied to the ball, and it might strike the mark aimed at; in the
other, a second force might strike the ball and send it entirely out of
its course. And so with two similar prayers; one may go on its way
unopposed and effect its object; the other may be flung aside by the
far stronger force of a past wrong. One prayer is answered, the other
unanswered; but in both cases the result is by law.

Let us consider Class B. Prayers for help in moral and intellectual
difficulties have a double result; they act directly to attract help,
and they react on the person who prays. They draw the attention of the
Angels, of the disciples working outside the body, who are ever seeking
to help the bewildered mind, and counsel, encouragement, illumination,
are thrown into the brain-consciousness, thus giving the answer to
prayer in the most direct way. "And he kneeled down and prayed ... and
there appeared an Angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him."[302]
Ideas are suggested which clear away an intellectual difficulty, or
throw light on an obscure moral problem, or the sweetest comfort is
poured into the distressed heart, soothing its perturbations and calming
its anxieties. And truly if no Angel were passing that way, the cry of
the distressed would reach the "Hidden Heart of Heaven," and a messenger
would be sent to carry comfort, some Angel, ever ready to fly swiftly on
feeling the impulse, bearing the divine will to help.

There is also what is sometimes called a subjective answer to such
prayers, the re-action of the prayer on the utterer. His prayer places
his heart and mind in the receptive attitude, and this stills the lower
nature, and thus allows the strength and illuminative power of the
higher to stream into it unchecked. The currents of energy which
normally flow downwards, or outwards, from the Inner Man, are, as a
rule, directed to the external world, and are utilised in the ordinary
affairs of life by the brain-consciousness, for the carrying on of its
daily activities. But when this brain-consciousness turns away from the
outer world, and shutting its outward-going doors, directs its gaze
inwards; when it deliberately closes itself to the outer and opens
itself to the inner; then it becomes a vessel able to receive and to
hold, instead of a mere conduit-pipe between the interior and exterior
worlds. In the silence obtained by the cessation of the noises of
external activities, the "still small voice" of the Spirit can make
itself heard, and the concentrated attention of the expectant mind
enables it to catch the soft whisper of the Inner Self.

Even more markedly does help come from without and from within, when the
prayer is for spiritual enlightenment, for spiritual growth. Not only do
all helpers, angelic and human, most eagerly seek to forward spiritual
progress, seizing on every opportunity offered by the upward-aspiring
soul; but the longing for such growth liberates energy of a high kind,
the spiritual longing calling forth an answer from the spiritual realm.
Once more the law of sympathetic vibrations asserts itself, and the note
of lofty aspiration is answered by a note of its own order, by a
liberation of energy of its own kind, by a vibration synchronous with
itself. The divine Life is ever pressing from above against the limits
that bind it, and when the upward-rising force strikes against those
limits from below, the separating wall is broken through, and the divine
Life floods the Soul. When a man feels that inflow of spiritual life,
he cries: "My prayer has been answered, and God has sent down His Spirit
into my heart." Truly so; yet he rarely understands that that Spirit is
ever seeking entrance, but that coming to His own, His own receive Him
not.[303] "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my
voice, and open the door, I will come in to him."[304]

The general principle with regard to all prayers of this class is that
just in proportion to the submergence of the personality and the
intensity of the upward aspiration will be the answer from the wider
life within and without us. We separate ourselves. If we cease the
separation and make ourselves one with the greater, we find that light
and life and strength flow into us. When the separate will is turned
away from its own objects and set to serve the divine purpose, then the
strength of the Divine pours into it. As a man swims against the stream,
he makes slow progress; but with it, he is carried on by all the force
of the current. In every department of Nature the divine energies are
working, and everything that a man does he does by means of the energies
that are working in the line along which he desires to do; his greatest
achievements are wrought, not by his own energies, but by the skill with
which he selects and combines the forces that aid him, and neutralises
those that oppose him by those that are favourable. Forces that would
whirl us away as straws in the wind become our most effective servants
when we work with them. Is it then any wonder that in prayer, as in
everything else, the divine energies become associated with the man who,
by his prayer, seeks to work as part of the Divine?

This highest form of prayer in Class B merges almost imperceptibly into
Class C, where prayer loses its petitionary character, and becomes
either a meditation on, or a worship of, God. Meditation is the steady
quiet fixing of the mind on God, whereby the lower mind is stilled and
presently left vacant, so that the Spirit, escaping from it, rises into
contemplation of the divine Perfection, and reflects within himself the
divine Image. "Meditation is silent or _unuttered_ prayer, or as Plato
expressed it: 'the ardent turning of the Soul towards the Divine; not to
ask any particular good (as in the common meaning of prayer), but for
good itself, for the Universal Supreme Good.'"[305]

This is the prayer that, by thus liberating the Spirit, is the means of
union between man and God. By the working of the laws of thought a man
becomes that which he thinks, and when he meditates on the divine
perfections he gradually reproduces in himself that on which his mind is
fixed. Such a mind, shaped to the higher and not the lower, cannot bind
the Spirit, and the freed Spirit leaping upward to his source, prayer is
lost in union and separateness is left behind.

Worship also, the rapt adoration from which all petition is absent, and
which seeks to pour itself forth in sheer love of the Perfect, dimly
sensed, is a means--the easiest means--of union with God. In this the
consciousness, limited by the brain, contemplates in mute exstasy the
Image it creates of Him whom it knows to be beyond imagining, and oft,
rapt by the intensity of his love beyond the limits of the intellect,
the man as a free Spirit soars upwards into realms where these limits
are transcended, and feels and knows far more than on his return he can
tell in words or clothe in form.

Thus the Mystic gazes on the Beatific Vision; thus the Sage rests in the
calm of the Wisdom that is beyond knowledge; thus the Saint reaches the
purity wherein God is seen. Such prayer irradiates the worshipper, and
from the mount of such high communion descending to the plains of earth,
the very face of flesh shines with supernal glory, translucent to the
flame that burns within. Happy they who know the reality which no words
may convey to those who know it not. Those whose eyes have seen "the
King in His beauty"[306] will remember, and they will understand.

When prayer is thus understood, its perennial necessity for all who
believe in religion will be patent, and we see why its practice has
been so much advocated by all who study the higher life. For the student
of the Lesser Mysteries prayer should be of the kinds grouped under
Class B, and he should endeavour to rise to the pure meditation and
worship of the last class, eschewing altogether the lower kinds. For him
the teaching of Iamblichus on this subject is useful. Iamblichus says
that prayers "produce an indissoluble and sacred communion with the
Gods," and then proceeds to give some interesting details on prayer, as
considered by the practical Occultist. "For this is of itself a thing
worthy to be known, and renders more perfect the science concerning the
Gods. I say, therefore, that the first species of prayer is Collective;
and that it is also the leader of contact with, and a knowledge of,
divinity. The second species is the bond of concordant Communion,
calling forth, prior to the energy of speech, the gifts imparted by the
Gods, and perfecting the whole of our operations prior to our
intellectual conceptions. And the third and most perfect species of
prayer is the seal of ineffable Union with the divinities, in whom it
establishes all the power and authority of prayer; and thus causes the
soul to repose in the Gods, as in a never failing port. But from these
three terms, in which all the divine measures are contained, suppliant
adoration not only conciliates to us the friendship of the Gods, but
supernally extends to us three fruits, being as it were three Hesperian
apples of gold. The first of these pertains to illumination; the second
to a communion of operation; but through the energy of the third we
receive a perfect plenitude of divine fire.... No operation, however, in
sacred concerns, can succeed without the intervention of prayer. Lastly,
the continual exercise of prayer nourishes the vigour of our intellect,
and renders the receptacle of the soul far more capacious for the
communications of the Gods. It likewise is the divine key, which opens
to men the penetralia of the Gods; accustoms us to the splendid rivers
of supernal light; in a short time perfects our inmost recesses, and
disposes them for the ineffable embrace and contact of the Gods; and
does not desist till it raises us to the summit of all. It also
gradually and silently draws upward the manners of our soul, by
divesting them of everything foreign to a divine nature, and clothes us
with the perfections of the Gods. Besides this, it produces an
indissoluble communion and friendship with divinity, nourishes a divine
love, and inflames the divine part of the soul. Whatever is of an
opposing and contrary nature in the soul, it expiates and purifies;
expels whatever is prone to generation and retains anything of the dregs
of mortality in its ethereal and splendid spirit; perfects a good hope
and faith concerning the reception of divine light; and in one word,
renders those by whom it is employed the familiars and domestics of the
Gods."[307]

Out of such study and practice one inevitable result arises, as a man
begins to understand, and as the wider range of human life unfolds
before him. He sees that by knowledge his strength is much increased,
that there are forces around him that he can understand and control, and
that in proportion to his knowledge is his power. Then he learns that
Divinity lies hidden within himself, and that nothing that is fleeting
can satisfy that God within; that only union with the One, the Perfect,
can still his cravings. Then there gradually arises within him the will
to set himself at one with the Divine; he ceases to vehemently seek to
change circumstances, and to throw fresh causes into the stream of
effects. He recognises himself as an agent rather than an actor, a
channel rather than a source, a servant rather than a master, and seeks
to discover the divine purposes and to work in harmony therewith.

When a man has reached that point, he has risen above all prayer, save
that which is meditation and worship; he has nothing to ask for, in this
world or in any other; he remains in a steadfast serenity, seeking but
to serve God. That is the state of Sonship, where the will of the Son is
one with the will of the Father, where the one calm surrender is made,
"Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. I am content to do it; yea, Thy law
is within my heart."[308] Then all prayer is seen to be unnecessary;
all asking is felt as an impertinence; nothing can be longed for that is
not already in the purposes of that Will, and all will be brought into
active manifestation as the agents of that Will perfect themselves in
the work.



CHAPTER XI.

THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.


"I believe in ... the forgiveness of sins." "I acknowledge one baptism
for the remission of sins." The words fall facilely from the lips of
worshippers in every Christian church throughout the world, as they
repeat the familiar creeds called those of the Apostles and the Nicene.
Among the sayings of Jesus the words frequently recur: "Thy sins are
forgiven thee," and it is noteworthy that this phrase constantly
accompanies the exercise of His healing powers, the release from
physical and moral disease being thus marked as simultaneous. In fact,
on one occasion He pointed to the healing of a palsy-stricken man as a
sign that he had a right to declare to a man that his sins were
forgiven.[309] So also of one woman it was said: "Her sins, which are
many, are forgiven, for she loved much."[310] In the famous Gnostic
treatise, the _Pistis Sophia_, the very purpose of the Mysteries is said
to be the remission of sins. "Should they have been sinners, should they
have been in all the sins and all the iniquities of the world, of which
I have spoken unto you, nevertheless if they turn themselves and repent,
and have made the renunciation which I have just described unto you,
give ye unto them the mysteries of the kingdom of light; hide them not
from them at all. It is because of sin that I have brought these
mysteries into the world, for the remission of all the sins which they
have committed from the beginning. Wherefore have I said unto you
aforetime, 'I came not to call the righteous.' Now, therefore, I have
brought the mysteries, that the sins of all men may be remitted, and
they be brought into the kingdom of light. For these mysteries are the
boon of the first mystery of the destruction of the sins and iniquities
of all sinners."[311]

In these Mysteries, the remission of sin is by baptism, as in the
acknowledgment in the Nicene Creed. Jesus says: "Hearken, again, that I
may tell you the word in truth, of what type is the mystery of baptism
which remitteth sins.... When a man receiveth the mysteries of the
baptisms, those mysteries become a mighty fire, exceedingly fierce,
wise, which burneth up all sins; they enter into the soul occultly, and
devour all the sins which the spiritual counterfeit hath implanted in
it." And after describing further the process of purification, Jesus
adds: "This is the way in which the mysteries of the baptisms remit sins
and every iniquity."[312]

In one form or another the "forgiveness of sins" appears in most, if not
in all, religions; and wherever this consensus of opinion is found, we
may safely conclude, according to the principle already laid down, that
some fact in nature underlies it. Moreover, there is a response in
human nature to this idea that sins are forgiven; we notice that people
suffer under a consciousness of wrong-doing, and that when they shake
themselves clear of their past, and free themselves from the shackling
fetters of remorse, they go forward with glad heart and sunlit eyes,
though erstwhile enclouded by darkness. They feel as though a burden
were lifted off them, a clog removed. The "sense of sin" has
disappeared, and with it the gnawing pain. They know the springtime of
the soul, the word of power which makes all things new. A song of
gratitude wells up as the natural outburst of the heart, the time for
the singing of birds is come, there is "joy among the Angels." This not
uncommon experience is one that becomes puzzling, when the person
experiencing it, or seeing it in another, begins to ask himself what has
really taken place, what has brought about the change in consciousness,
the effects of which are so manifest.

Modern thinkers, who have thoroughly assimilated the idea of changeless
laws underlying all phenomena, and who have studied the workings of
these laws, are at first apt to reject any and every theory of the
forgiveness of sins as being inconsistent with that fundamental truth,
just as the scientist, penetrated with the idea of the inviolability of
law, repels all thought which is inconsistent with it. And both are
right in founding themselves on the unfaltering working of law, for law
is but the expression of the divine Nature, in which there is no
variableness, neither shadow of turning. Any view of the forgiveness of
sins that we may adopt must not clash with this fundamental idea, as
necessary to ethical as to physical science. "The bottom would fall out
of everything" if we could not rest securely in the everlasting arms of
the Good Law.

But in pursuing our investigations, we are struck with the fact that the
very Teachers who are most insistent on the changeless working of law
are also those who emphatically proclaim the forgiveness of sins. At one
time Jesus is saying: "That every idle word that men shall speak, they
shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,"[313] and at
another: "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee."[314] So in
the _Bhagavad Gîtâ_ we read constantly of the bonds of action, that "the
world is bound by action,"[315] and that a man "recovereth the
characteristics of his former body;"[316] and yet it is said that "even
if the most sinful worship me, with undivided heart, he, too, must be
accounted righteous."[317] It would seem, then, that whatever may have
been intended in the world's Scriptures by the phrase, "the forgiveness
of sins," it was not thought, by Those who best know the law, to clash
with the inviolable sequence of cause and effect.

If we examine even the crudest idea of the forgiveness of sins prevalent
in our own day, we find that the believer in it does not mean that the
forgiven sinner is to escape from the consequences of his sin in this
world; the drunkard, whose sins are forgiven on his repentance, is still
seen to suffer from shaken nerves, impaired digestion, and the lack of
confidence shown towards him by his fellow-men. The statements made as
to forgiveness, when they are examined, are ultimately found to refer to
the relations between the repentant sinner and God, and to the
_post-mortem_ penalties attached to unforgiven sin in the creed of the
speaker, and not to any escape from the mundane consequences of sin. The
loss of belief in reincarnation, and of a sane view as to the continuity
of life, whether it were spent in this or in the next two worlds,[318]
brought with it various incongruities and indefensible assertions, among
them the blasphemous and terrible idea of the eternal torture of the
human soul for sins committed during the brief span of one life spent on
earth. In order to escape from this nightmare, theologians posited a
forgiveness which should release the sinner from this dread imprisonment
in an eternal hell. It did not, and was never supposed to, set him free
in this world from the natural consequences of his ill-doings,
nor--except in modern Protestant communities--was it held to deliver
him from prolonged purgatorial sufferings, the direct results of sin,
after the death of the physical body. The law had its course, both in
this world and in purgatory, and in each world sorrow followed on the
heels of sin, even as the wheels follow the ox. It was but eternal
torture--which existed only in the clouded imagination of the
believer--that was escaped by the forgiveness of sins; and we may
perhaps go so far as to suggest that the dogmatist, having postulated an
eternal hell as the monstrous result of transient errors, felt compelled
to provide a way of escape from an incredible and unjust fate, and
therefore further postulated an incredible and unjust forgiveness.
Schemes that are elaborated by human speculation, without regard to the
facts of life, are apt to land the speculator in thought-morasses,
whence he can only extricate himself by blundering through the mire in
an opposite direction. A superfluous eternal hell was balanced by a
superfluous forgiveness, and thus the uneven scales of justice were
again rendered level. Leaving these aberrations of the unenlightened,
let us return into the realm of fact and right reason.

When a man has committed an evil action he has attached himself to a
sorrow, for sorrow is ever the plant that springs from the seed of sin.
It may be said, even more accurately, that sin and sorrow are but the
two sides of one act, not two separate events. As every object has two
sides, one of which is behind, out of sight, when the other is in front,
in sight, so every act has two sides, which cannot both be seen at once
in the physical world. In other worlds, good and happiness, evil and
sorrow, are seen as the two sides of the same thing. This is what is
called karma--a convenient and now widely-used term, originally
Samskrit, expressing this connection or identity, literally meaning
"action"--and the suffering is therefore called the karmic result of the
wrong. The result, the "other side," may not follow immediately, may not
even accrue during the present incarnation, but sooner or later it will
appear and clasp the sinner with its arms of pain. Now a result in the
physical world, an effect experienced through our physical
consciousness, is the final outcome of a cause set going in the past; it
is the ripened fruit; in it a particular force becomes manifest and
exhausts itself. That force has been working outwards, and its effects
are already over in the mind ere it appears in the body. Its bodily
manifestation, its appearance, in the physical world, is the sign of the
completion of its course.[319] If at such a moment the sinner, having
exhausted the karma of his sin, comes into contact with a Sage who can
see the past and the present, the invisible and the visible, such a Sage
may discern the ending of the particular karma, and, the sentence being
completed, may declare the captive free. Such an instance seems to be
given in the story of the man sick of the palsy, already alluded to, a
case typical of many. A physical ailment is the last expression of a
past ill-doing; the mental and moral outworking is completed, and the
sufferer is brought--by the agency of some Angel, as an administrator of
the law--into the presence of One able to relieve physical disease by
the exertion of a higher energy. First, the Initiate declares that the
man's sins are forgiven, and then justifies his insight by the
authoritative word, "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."
Had no such enlightened One been there, the disease would have passed
away under the restoring touch of nature, under a force applied by the
invisible angelic Intelligences, who carry out in this world the
workings of karmic law; when a greater One is acting, this force is of
more swiftly compelling power, and the physical vibrations are at once
attuned to the harmony that is health. All such forgiveness of sins may
be termed declaratory; the karma is exhausted, and a "knower of karma"
declares the fact. The assurance brings a relief to the mind that is
akin to the relief experienced by a prisoner when the order for his
release is given, that order being as much a part of the law as the
original sentence; but the relief of the man who thus learns of the
exhaustion of an evil karma is keener, because he cannot himself tell
the term of its action.

It is noticeable that these declarations of forgiveness are constantly
coupled with the statement that the sufferer showed "faith," and that
without this nothing could be done; _i.e._, the real agent in the ending
of this karma is the sinner himself. In the case of the "woman that was
a sinner," the two declarations are coupled: "Thy sins are forgiven....
Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."[320] This "faith" is the
up-welling in man of his own divine essence, seeking the divine ocean of
like essence, and when this breaks through the lower nature that holds
it in--as the water-spring breaks through the encumbering
earth-clods--the power thus liberated works on the whole nature,
bringing it into harmony with itself. The man only becomes conscious of
this as the karmic crust of evil is broken up by its force, and that
glad consciousness of a power within himself hitherto unknown,
asserting itself as soon as the evil karma is exhausted, is a large
factor in the joy, relief, and new strength that follow on the feeling
that sin is "forgiven," that its results are past.

And this brings us to the heart of the subject--the changes that go on
in a man's inner nature, unrecognised by that part of his consciousness
which works within the limits of his brain, until they suddenly assert
themselves within those limits, coming apparently from nowhere, bursting
forth "from the blue," pouring from an unknown source. What wonder that
a man, bewildered by their downrush--knowing nothing of the mysteries of
his own nature, nothing of "the inner God" that is verily
himself--imagines that to be from without which is really from within,
and, unconscious of his own Divinity, thinks only of Divinities in the
world external to himself. And this misconception is the more easy,
because the final touch, the vibration that breaks the imprisoning
shell, is often the answer from the Divinity within another man, or
within some superhuman being, responding to the insistent cry from the
imprisoned Divinity within himself; he oft-times recognises the
brotherly aid, while not recognising that he himself, the cry from his
inner nature, called it forth. As an explanation from a wiser than
ourselves may make an intellectual difficulty clear to our mind, though
it is our own mind that, thus aided, grasps the solution; as an
encouraging word from one purer than ourselves may nerve us to a moral
effort that we should have thought beyond our power, though it is our
own strength that makes it; so may a loftier Spirit than our own, one
more conscious of its Divinity, aid us to put forth our own divine
energy, though it is that very putting forth that lifts us to a higher
plane. We are all bound by ties of brotherly help to those above us as
to those below us, and why should we, who so constantly find ourselves
able to help in their development souls less advanced than ourselves,
hesitate to admit that we can receive similar help from Those far above
us, and that our progress may be rendered much swifter by Their aid?

Now among the changes that go on in a man's inner nature, unknown to his
lower consciousness, are those that have to do with the putting forth of
his will. The Ego, glancing backward over his past, balancing up its
results, suffering under its mistakes, determines on a change of
attitude, on a change of activity. While his lower vehicle is still,
under his former impulses, plunging along lines of action that bring it
into sharp collisions with the law, the Ego determines on an opposite
course of conduct. Hitherto he has turned his face longingly to the
animal, the pleasures of the lower world have held him fast enchained.
Now he turns his face to the true goal of evolution, and determines to
work for loftier joys. He sees that the whole world is evolving, and
that if he sets himself against that mighty current it clashes him
aside, bruising him sorely in the process; he sees that if he sets
himself with it, it will bear him onwards on its bosom and land him in
the desired haven.

He then resolves to change his life, he turns determinedly on his steps,
he faces the other way. The first result of the effort to turn his
lower nature into the changed course, is much distress and disturbance.
The habits formed under the impacts of the old views resist stubbornly
the impulses flowing from the new, and a bitter conflict arises.
Gradually the consciousness working in the brain accepts the decision
made on higher planes, and then "becomes conscious of sin" by this very
recognition of the law. The sense of error deepens, remorse preys on the
mind; spasmodic efforts are made towards improvement, and, frustrated by
old habits, repeatedly fail, till the man, overwhelmed by grief for the
past, despair of the present, is plunged into hopeless gloom. At last,
the ever-increasing suffering wrings from the Ego a cry for help,
answered from the inner depths of his own nature, from the God within as
well as around him, the Life of his life. He turns from the lower nature
that is thwarting him to the higher which is his innermost being, from
the separated self that tortures him to the One Self that is the Heart
of all.

But this change of front means that he turns his face from the
darkness, that he turns his face to the light. The light was always
there, but his back was towards it; now he sees the sun, and its
radiance cheers his eyes, and overfloods his being with delight. His
heart was closed; it is now flung open, and the ocean of life flows in,
in full tide, suffusing him with joy. Wave after wave of new life
uplifts him, and the gladness of the dawn surrounds him. He sees his
past as past, because his will is set to follow a higher path, and he
recks little of the suffering that the past may bequeath to him, since
he knows he will not hand on such bitter legacy from his present. This
sense of peace, of joy, of freedom, is the feeling spoken of as the
result of the forgiveness of sins. The obstacles set up by the lower
nature between the God within and the God without are swept away, and
that nature scarce recognises that the change is in itself and not in
the Oversoul. As a child, having thrust away the mother's guiding hand
and hidden its face against the wall, may fancy itself alone and
forgotten, until, turning with a cry, it finds around it the protecting
mother-arms that were never but a handsbreadth away; so does man in his
wilfulness push away the shielding arms of the divine Mother of the
worlds, only to find, when he turns back his face, that he has never
been outside their protecting shelter, and that wherever he may wander
that guarding love is round him still.

The key to this change in the man, that brings about "forgiveness," is
given in the verse of the _Bhagavad-Gîtâ_ already partly quoted: "Even
if the most sinful worship me, with undivided heart, he too must be
accounted righteous, _for he hath rightly resolved_." On that right
resolution follows the inevitable result: "Speedily he becometh dutiful
and goeth to peace."[321] The essence of sin lies in setting the will of
the part against the will of the whole, the human against the Divine.
When this is changed, when the Ego puts his separate will into union
with the will that works for evolution, then, in the world where to will
is to do, in the world where effects are seen as present in causes, the
man is "accounted righteous;" the effects on the lower planes must
inevitably follow; "speedily he becometh dutiful" in action, having
already become dutiful in will. Here we judge by actions, the dead
leaves of the past; there they judge by wills, the germinating seeds of
the future. Hence the Christ ever says to men in the lower world: "Judge
not."[322]

Even after the new direction has been definitely followed, and has
become the normal habit of the life, there come times of failure,
alluded to in the _Pistis Sophia_, when Jesus is asked whether a man may
be again admitted to the Mysteries, after he has fallen away, if he
again repents. The answer of Jesus is in the affirmative, but he states
that a time comes when re-admission is beyond the power of any save of
the highest Mystery, who pardons ever. "Amen, amen, I say unto you,
whosoever shall receive the mysteries of the first mystery, and then
shall turn back and transgress twelve times [even], and then should
again repent twelve times, offering prayer in the mystery of the first
mystery, he shall be forgiven. But if he should transgress after twelve
times, should he turn back and transgress, it shall not be remitted unto
him for ever, so that he may turn again unto his mystery, whatever it
be. For him there is no means of repentance unless he have received the
mysteries of that ineffable, which hath compassion at all times and
remitteth sins for ever and ever."[323] These restorations after
failure, in which "sin is remitted," meet us in human life, especially
in the higher phases of evolution. A man is offered an opportunity,
which, taken, would open up to him new possibilities of growth. He fails
to grasp it, and falls away from the position he had gained that made
the further opportunity possible. For him, for the time, further
progress is blocked; he must turn all his efforts wearily to retread the
ground he had already trodden, and to regain and make sure his footing
on the place from which he had slipped. Only when this is accomplished
will he hear the gentle Voice that tells him that the past is out-worn,
the weakness turned to strength, and that the gateway is again open for
his passage. Here again the "forgiveness" is but the declaration by a
proper authority of the true state of affairs, the opening of the gate
to the competent, its closure to the incompetent. Where there had been
failure, with its accompanying suffering, this declaration would be felt
as a "baptism for the remission of sins," re-admitting the aspirant to a
privilege lost by his own act; this would certainly give rise to
feelings of joy and peace, to a relief from the burden of sorrow, to a
feeling that the clog of the past had at last fallen from the feet.

Remains one truth that should never be forgotten: that we are living in
an ocean of light, of love, of bliss, that surrounds us at all times,
the Life of God. As the sun floods the earth with his radiance so does
that Life enlighten all, only that Sun of the world never sets to any
part of it. We shut this light out of our consciousness by our
selfishness, our heartlessness, our impurity, our intolerance, but it
shines on us ever the same, bathing us on every side, pressing against
our self-built walls with gentle, strong persistence. When the soul
throws down these excluding walls, the light flows in, and the soul
finds itself flooded with sunshine, breathing the blissful air of
heaven. "For the Son of man is in heaven," though he know it not, and
its breezes fan his brow if he bares it to their breaths. God ever
respects man's individuality, and will not enter his consciousness until
that consciousness opens to give welcome; "Behold I stand at the door
and knock"[324] is the attitude of every spiritual Intelligence towards
the evolving human soul; not in lack of sympathy is rooted that waiting
for the open door, but in deepest wisdom.

Man is not to be compelled; he is to be free. He is not a slave, but a
God in the making, and the growth cannot be forced, but must be willed
from within. Only when the will consents, as Giordano Bruno teaches,
will God influence man, though He be "everywhere present, and ready to
come to the aid of whosoever turns to Him through the act of the
intelligence, and who unreservedly presents himself with the affection
of the will."[325] "The divine potency which is all in all does not
proffer or withhold, except through assimilation or rejection by
oneself."[326] "It is taken in quickly, as the solar light, without
hesitation, and makes itself present to whoever turns himself to it and
opens himself to it ... the windows are opened, but the sun enters in a
moment, so does it happen similarly in this case."[327]

The sense of "forgiveness," then, is the feeling which fills the heart
with joy when the will is tuned to harmony with the Divine, when, the
soul having opened its windows, the sunshine of love and light and bliss
pours in, when the part feels its oneness with the whole, and the One
Life thrills each vein. This is the noble truth that gives vitality to
even the crudest presentation of the "forgiveness of sins," and that
makes it often, despite its intellectual incompleteness, an inspirer to
pure and spiritual living. And this is the truth, as seen in the Lesser
Mysteries.



CHAPTER XII.

SACRAMENTS.


In all religions there exist certain ceremonials, or rites, which are
regarded as of vital importance by the believers in the religion, and
which are held to confer certain benefits on those taking part in them.
The word Sacrament, or some equivalent term, has been applied to these
ceremonials, and they all have the same character. Little exact
exposition has been given as to their nature and meaning, but this is
another of the subjects explained of old in the Lesser Mysteries.

The peculiar characteristic of a Sacrament resides in two of its
properties. First, there is the exoteric ceremony, which is a pictorial
allegory, a representation of something by actions and materials--not a
verbal allegory, a teaching given in words, conveying a truth; but an
acted representation, certain definite material things used in a
particular way. The object in choosing these materials, and aimed at in
the ceremonies by which their manipulation is accompanied, is to
represent, as in a picture, some truth which it is desired to impress
upon the minds of the people present. That is the first and obvious
property of a Sacrament, differentiating it from other forms of worship
and meditation. It appeals to those who without this imagery would fail
to catch a subtle truth, and shows to them in a vivid and graphic form
the truth which otherwise would escape them. Every Sacrament, when it is
studied, should be taken first from this standpoint, that it is a
pictorial allegory; the essential things to be studied will therefore
be: the material objects which enter into the allegory, the method in
which they are employed, and the meaning which the whole is intended to
convey.

The second characteristic property of a Sacrament belongs to the facts
of the invisible worlds, and is studied by occult science. The person
who officiates in the Sacrament should possess this knowledge, as much,
though not all, of the operative power of the Sacrament depends on the
knowledge of the officiator. A Sacrament links the material world with
the subtle and invisible regions to which that world is related; it is a
link between the visible and the invisible. And it is not only a link
between this world and other worlds, but it is also a method by which
the energies of the invisible world are transmuted into action in the
physical; an actual method of changing energies of one kind into
energies of another, as literally as in the galvanic cell chemical
energies are changed into electrical. The essence of all energies is one
and the same, whether in the visible or invisible worlds; but the
energies differ according to the grades of matter through which they
manifest. A Sacrament serves as a kind of crucible in which spiritual
alchemy takes place. An energy placed in this crucible and subjected to
certain manipulations comes forth different in expression. Thus an
energy of a subtle kind, belonging to one of the higher regions of the
universe, may be brought into direct relation with people living in the
physical world, and may be made to affect them in the physical world as
well as in its own realm; the Sacrament forms the last bridge from the
invisible to the visible, and enables the energies to be directly
applied to those who fulfil the necessary conditions and who take part
in the Sacrament.

The Sacraments of the Christian Church lost much of their dignity and of
the recognition of their occult power among those who separated from the
Roman Catholic Church at the time of the "Reformation." The previous
separation between the East and the West, leaving the Greek Orthodox
Church on the one side and the Roman Church on the other, in no way
affected belief in the Sacraments. They remained in both great
communities as the recognised links between the seen and the unseen, and
sanctified the life of the believer from cradle to grave. The Seven
Sacraments of Christianity cover the whole of life, from the welcome of
Baptism to the farewell of Extreme Unction. They were established by
Occultists, by men who knew the invisible worlds; and the materials
used, the words spoken, the signs made, were all deliberately chosen and
arranged with a view to bringing about certain results.

At the time of the Reformation, the seceding Churches, which threw off
the yoke of Rome, were not led by Occultists, but by ordinary men of the
world, some good and some bad, but all profoundly ignorant of the facts
of the invisible worlds, and conscious only of the outer shell of
Christianity, its literal dogmas and exoteric worship. The consequence
of this was that the Sacraments lost their supreme place in Christian
worship, and in most Protestant communities were reduced to two, Baptism
and the Eucharist. The sacramental nature of the others was not
explicitly denied in the most important of the seceding Churches, but
the two were set apart from the five, as of universal obligation, of
which every member of the Church must partake in order to be recognised
as a full member.

The general definition of a Sacrament is given quite accurately, save
for the superfluous words, "ordained by Christ Himself," in the
Catechism of the Church of England, and even these words might be
retained if the mystic meaning be given to the word "Christ." A
Sacrament is there said to be: "An outward and visible sign of an inward
and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ Himself, as a
means whereby we receive the same and a pledge to assure us thereof."

In this definition we find laid down the two distinguishing
characteristics of a Sacrament as given above. The "outward and visible
sign" is the pictorial allegory, and the phrase, the "means whereby we
receive the" "inward and spiritual grace" covers the second property.
This last phrase should be carefully noted by those members of
Protestant Churches who regard Sacraments as mere external forms and
outer ceremonies. For it distinctly alleges that the Sacrament is really
a means whereby the grace is conveyed, and thus implies that without it
the grace does not pass in the same fashion from the spiritual to the
physical world. It is the distinct recognition of a Sacrament in its
second aspect, as a means whereby spiritual powers are brought into
activity on earth.

In order to understand a Sacrament, it is necessary that we should
definitely recognise the existence of an occult, or hidden, side of
Nature; this is spoken of as the life-side of Nature, the
consciousness-side, more accurately the mind _in_ Nature. Underlying all
sacramental action there is the belief that the invisible world
exercises a potent influence over the visible, and to understand a
Sacrament we must understand something of the invisible Intelligences
who administer Nature. We have seen in studying the doctrine of the
Trinity that Spirit is manifested as the triple Self, and that as the
Field for His manifestation there is Matter, the form-side of Nature,
often regarded, and rightly, as Nature herself. We have to study both
these aspects, the side of life and that of form, in order to understand
a Sacrament.

Stretching between the Trinity and humanity are many grades and
hierarchies of invisible beings; the highest of these are the seven
Spirits of God, the seven Fires, or Flames, that are before the throne
of God.[328] Each of these stands at the head of a vast host of
Intelligences, all of whom share His nature and act under His direction;
these are themselves graded, and are the Thrones, Powers, Princes,
Dominations, Archangels, Angels, of whom mention is found in the
writings of the Christian Fathers, who were versed in the Mysteries.
Thus there are seven great hosts of these Beings, and they represent in
their intelligence the divine Mind in Nature. They are found in all
regions, and they ensoul the energies of Nature. From the standpoint of
occultism there is no dead force and no dead matter. Force and matter
alike are living and active, and an energy or a group of energies is the
veil of an Intelligence, of a Consciousness, who has that energy as his
outer expression, and the matter in which that energy moves yields a
form which he guides or ensouls. Unless a man can thus look at Nature
all esoteric teaching must remain for him a sealed book. Without these
angelic Lives, these countless invisible Intelligences, these
Consciousnesses which ensoul the force and matter[329] which is Nature,
Nature herself would not only remain unintelligible, but she would be
out of relation alike to the divine Life that moves within and around
her, and to the human lives that are developing in her midst. These
innumerable Angels link the worlds together; they are themselves
evolving while helping the evolution of beings lower than themselves,
and a new light is shed on evolution when we see that men form grades in
these hierarchies of intelligent beings. These angels are the "sons of
God" of an earlier birth than ours, who "shouted for joy"[330] when the
foundations of the earth were laid amid the choiring of the Morning
Stars.

Others beings are below us in evolution--animals, plants, minerals, and
elemental lives--as the Angels are above us; and as we thus study, a
conception dawns upon us of a vast Wheel of Life, of numberless
existences, inter-related and necessary each to each, man as a living
Intelligence, as a self-conscious being, having his own place in this
Wheel. The Wheel is ever turning by the divine Will, and the living
Intelligences who form it learn to co-operate with that Will, and if in
the action of those Intelligences there is any break or gap due to
neglect or opposition, then the Wheel drags, turning slowly, and the
chariot of the evolution of the worlds goes but heavily upon its way.

These numberless Lives, above and below man, come into touch with human
consciousness in very definite ways, and among these ways are sounds and
colours. Each sound has a form in the invisible world, and combinations
of sounds create complicated shapes.[331] In the subtle matter of those
worlds all sounds are accompanied by colours, so that they give rise to
many-hued shapes, in many cases exceedingly beautiful. The vibrations
set up in the visible world when a note is sounded set up vibrations in
the worlds invisible, each one with its own specific character, and
capable of producing certain effects. In communicating with the
sub-human Intelligences connected with the lower invisible world and
with the physical, and in controlling and directing these, sounds must
be used fitted to bring about the desired results, as language made up
of definite sounds is used here. And in communicating with the higher
Intelligences certain sounds are useful, to create a harmonious
atmosphere, suitable for their activities, and to make our own subtle
bodies receptive of their influences.

This effect on the subtle bodies is a most important part of the occult
use of sounds. These bodies, like the physical, are in constant
vibratory motion, the vibrations changing with every thought or desire.
These changing irregular vibrations offer an obstacle to any fresh
vibration coming from outside, and, in order to render the bodies
susceptible to the higher influences, sounds are used which reduce the
irregular vibrations to a steady rhythm, like in its nature to the
rhythm of the Intelligence sought to be reached. The object of all
often-repeated sentences is to effect this, as a musician sounds the
same note over and over again, until all the instruments are in tune.
The subtle bodies must be tuned to the note of the Being sought, if his
influence is to find free way through the nature of the worshipper, and
this was ever done of old by the use of sounds. Hence, music has ever
formed an integral part of worship, and certain definite cadences have
been preserved with care, handed on from age to age.

In every religion there exist sounds of a peculiar character, called
"Words of Power," consisting of sentences in a particular language
chanted in a particular way; each religion possesses a stock of such
sentences, special successions of sounds, now very generally called
"mantras," that being the name given to them in the East, where the
science of mantras has been much studied and elaborated. It is not
necessary that a mantra--a succession of sounds arranged in a particular
manner to bring about a definite result--should be in any one particular
language. Any language can be used for the purpose, though some are more
suitable than others, provided that the person who makes the mantra
possesses the requisite occult knowledge. There are hundreds of mantras
in the Samskrit tongue, made by Occultists of the past, who were
familiar with the laws of the invisible worlds. These have been handed
down from generation to generation, definite words in a definite order
chanted in a definite way. The effect of the chanting is to create
vibrations, hence forms, in the physical and super-physical worlds, and
according to the knowledge and purity of the singer will be the worlds
his song is able to affect If his knowledge be wide and deep, if his
will be strong and his heart pure, there is scarcely any limit to the
powers he may exercise in using some of these ancient mantras.

As said, it is not necessary that any one particular language should be
used. They may be in Samskrit, or in any one of the languages of the
world, in which men of knowledge have put them together.

This is the reason why, in the Roman Catholic Church, the Latin language
is always used in important acts of worship. It is not used as a dead
language here, a tongue "not understanded of the people," but as a
living force in the invisible worlds. It is not used to hide knowledge
from the people, but in order that certain vibrations may be set up in
the invisible worlds which cannot be set up in the ordinary languages of
Europe, unless a great Occultist should compose in them the necessary
successions of sounds. To translate a mantra is to change it from a
"Word of Power" into an ordinary sentence; the sounds being changed,
other sound-forms are created.

Some of the arrangements of Latin words, with the music wedded to them
in Christian worship, cause the most marked effects in the
supra-physical worlds, and any one who is at all sensitive will be
conscious of peculiar effects caused by the chanting of some of the most
sacred sentences, especially in the Mass. Vibratory effects may be felt
by any one who will sit quiet and receptive as some of these sentences
are uttered by priest or choristers. And at the same time effects are
caused in the higher worlds directly affecting the subtle bodies of the
worshippers in the way above described, and also appealing to the
Intelligences in those worlds with a meaning as definite as the words
addressed by one person to another on the physical plane, whether as
prayer or, in some cases, as command. The sounds, causing active
flashing forms, rise through the worlds, affecting the consciousness of
the Intelligences residing in them, and bringing some of them to render
the definite services required by those who are taking part in the
church office.

Such mantras form an essential part of every Sacrament.

The next essential part of the Sacrament, in its outward and visible
form, are certain gestures. These are called Signs, or Seals, or
Sigils--the three words meaning the same thing in a Sacrament. Each sign
has its own particular meaning, and marks the direction imposed on the
invisible forces with which the celebrant is dealing, whether those
forces be his own or poured through him. In any case, they are needed to
bring about the desired result, and they are an essential portion of the
sacramental rite. Such a sign is called a "Sign of Power," as the mantra
is a "Word of Power."

It is interesting to read in occult works of the past references to
these facts, true then as now, true now as then. In the Egyptian _Book
of the Dead_ is described the _post-mortem_ journey of the Soul, and we
read how he is stopped and challenged at various stages of that journey.
He is stopped and challenged by the Guardians of the Gate of each
successive world, and the Soul cannot pass through the Gate and go on
his way unless he knows two things: he must pronounce a word, the Word
of Power: he must make a sign, the Sign of Power. When that Word is
spoken, when that Sign is given, the bars of the Gate fall down, and
the Guardians stand aside to let the Soul pass through. A similar
account is given in the great mystic Christian Gospel, the _Pistis
Sophia_, before mentioned.[332] Here the passage through the worlds is
not of a Soul set free from the body by death, but of one who has
voluntarily left it in the course of Initiation. There are great Powers,
the Powers of Nature, that bar his way, and till the Initiate gives the
Word and the Sign, they will not allow him to pass through the portals
of their realms. This double knowledge, then, was necessary--to speak
the Word of Power, to make the Sign of Power. Without these progress was
blocked, and without these a Sacrament is no Sacrament.

Further, in all Sacraments some physical material is used, or should be
used.[333] This is ever a symbol of that which is to be gained by the
Sacrament, and points to the nature of the "inward and spiritual grace"
received through it. This is also the material means of conveying the
grace, not symbolically, but actually, and a subtle change in this
material adapts it for high ends.

Now a physical object consists of the solid, liquid, and gaseous
particles into which a chemist would resolve it by analysis, and further
of ether, which interpenetrates the grosser stuffs. In this ether play
the magnetic energies. It is further connected with counterparts of
subtle matter, in which play energies subtler than the magnetic, but
like them in nature and more powerful.

When such an object is magnetised a change is effected in the ethereal
portion, the wave-motions are altered and systematised, and made to
follow the wave-motions of the ether of the magnetiser; it thus comes to
share his nature, and the denser particles of the object, played on by
the ether, slowly change their rates of vibration. If the magnetiser has
the power of affecting the subtler counterparts also he makes them
similarly vibrate in assonance with his own.

This is the secret of magnetic cures: the irregular vibrations of the
diseased person are so worked on as to accord with the regular
vibrations of the healthy operator, as definitely as an irregularly
swinging object may be made to swing regularly by repeated and timed
blows. A doctor will magnetise water and cure his patient therewith. He
will magnetise a cloth, and the cloth, laid on the seat of pain, will
heal. He will use a powerful magnet, or a current from a galvanic cell,
and restore energy to a nerve. In all cases the ether is thrown into
motion, and by this the denser physical particles are affected.

A similar result accrues when the materials used in a Sacrament are
acted on by the Word of Power and the Sign of Power. Magnetic changes
are caused in the ether of the physical substance, and the subtle
counterparts are affected according to the knowledge, purity, and
devotion of the celebrant who magnetises--or, in the religious term,
consecrates--it. Further, the Word and the Sign of Power summon to the
celebration the Angels specially concerned with the materials used and
the nature of the act performed, and they lend their powerful aid,
pouring their own magnetic energies into the subtle counterparts, and
even into the physical ether, thus reinforcing the energies of the
celebrant. No one who knows anything of the powers of magnetism can
doubt the possibility of the changes in material objects thus indicated.
And if a man of science, who may have no faith in the unseen, has the
power to so impregnate water with his own vital energy that it cures a
physical disease, why should power of a loftier, though _similar_,
nature be denied to those of saintly life, of noble character, of
knowledge of the invisible? Those who are able to sense the higher forms
of magnetism know very well that consecrated objects vary much in their
power, and that the magnetic difference is due to the varying knowledge,
purity, and spirituality of the priest who consecrates them. Some deny
all vital magnetism, and would reject alike the holy water of religion
and the magnetised water of medical science. They are consistent, but
ignorant. But those who admit the utility of the one, and laugh at the
other, show themselves to be not wise but prejudiced, not learned but
one-sided, and prove that their want of belief in religion biases their
intelligence, predisposing them to reject from the hand of religion that
which they accept from the hand of science. A little will be added to
this with regard to "sacred objects" generally in Chapter XIV.

We thus see that the outer part of the Sacrament is of very great
importance. Real changes are made in the materials used. They are made
the vehicles of energies higher than those which naturally belong to
them; persons approaching them, touching them, will have their own
etheric and subtle bodies affected by their potent magnetism, and will
be brought into a condition very receptive of higher influences, being
tuned into accord with the lofty Beings connected with the Word and the
Sign used in consecration; Beings belonging to the invisible world will
be present during the sacramental rite, pouring out their benign and
gracious influences; and thus all who are worthy participants in the
ceremony--sufficiently pure and devoted to be tuned by the vibrations
caused--will find their emotions purified and stimulated, their
spirituality quickened, and their hearts filled with peace, by coming
into such close touch with the unseen realities.



CHAPTER XIII.

SACRAMENTS (_continued_).


We have now to apply these general principles to concrete examples, and
to see how they explain and justify the sacramental rites found in all
religions.

It will be sufficient if we take as examples three out of the Seven
Sacraments used in the Church Catholic. Two are recognised as obligatory
by all Christians, although extreme Protestants deprive them of their
sacramental character, giving them a declaratory and remembrance value
only instead of a sacramental; yet even among them the heart of true
devotion wins something of the sacramental blessing the head denies. The
third is not recognised as even nominally a Sacrament by Protestant
Churches, though it shows the essential signs of a Sacrament, as given
in the definition in the Catechism of the Church of England already
quoted.[334] The first is that of Baptism; the second that of the
Eucharist; the third that of Marriage. The putting of Marriage out of
the rank of a Sacrament has much degraded its lofty ideal, and has led
to much of that loosening of its tie that thinking men deplore.

The Sacrament of Baptism is found in all religions, not only at the
entrance into earth-life, but more generally as a ceremony of
purification. The ceremony which admits the new-born--or adult--incomer
into a religion has a sprinkling with water as an essential part of the
rite, and this was as universal in ancient days as it is now. The Rev.
Dr. Giles remarks: "The idea of using water as emblematic of spiritual
washing is too obvious to allow surprise at the antiquity of this rite.
Dr. Hyde, in his treatise on the _Religion of the Ancient Persians_,
xxxiv. 406, tells us that it prevailed among that people. 'They do not
use circumcision for their children, but only baptism, or washing for
the purification of the soul. They bring the child to the priest into
the church, and place him in front of the sun and fire, which ceremony
being completed, they look upon him as more sacred than before. Lord
says that they bring the water for this purpose in bark of the
Holm-tree; that tree is in truth the Haum of the Magi, of which we spoke
before on another occasion. Sometimes also it is otherwise done by
immersing him in a large vessel of water, as Tavernier tells us. After
such washing, or baptism, the priest imposes on the child the name given
by the parents.'"[335] A few weeks after the birth of a Hindu child a
ceremony is performed, a part of which consists in sprinkling the child
with water--such sprinkling entering into all Hindu worship. Williamson
gives authorities for the practise of Baptism in Egypt, Persia, Thibet,
Mongolia, Mexico, Peru, Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, and among the
Druids.[336] Some of the prayers quoted are very fine: "I pray that this
celestial water, blue and light blue, may enter into thy body and there
live. I pray that it may destroy in thee, and put away from thee, all
the things evil and adverse that were given to thee before the beginning
of the world." "O child! receive the water of the Lord of the world who
is our life: it is to wash and to purify; may these drops remove the sin
which was given to thee before the creation of the world, since all of
us are under its power."

Tertullian mentions the very general use of Baptism among non-Christian
nations in a passage already quoted,[337] and others of the Fathers
refer to it.

In most religious communities a minor form of Baptism accompanies all
religious ceremonies, water being used as a symbol of purification, and
the idea being that no man should enter upon worship until he has
purified his heart and conscience, the outer washing symbolising the
inner lustration. In the Greek and Roman Churches a small receptacle for
holy water is placed near every door, and every incoming worshipper
touches it, making with it on himself the sign of the cross ere he goes
onward towards the altar. On this Robert Taylor remarks: "The baptismal
fonts in our Protestant churches, and we need hardly say more especially
the little cisterns at the entrance of our Catholic chapels, are not
imitations, but an unbroken and never interrupted continuation of the
same _aqua minaria_, or _amula_, which the learned Montfaucon, in his
_Antiquities_, shows to have been vases of holy water, which were placed
by the heathens at the entrance of their temples, to sprinkle themselves
with upon entering those sacred edifices."[338]

Whether in the Baptism of initial reception into the Church, or in these
minor lustrations, water is the material agent employed, the great
cleansing fluid in Nature, and therefore the best symbol for
purification. Over this water a mantra is pronounced, in the English
ritual represented by the prayer, "Sanctify this water to the mystical
washing away of sin," concluding with the formula, "In the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen." This is the Word
of Power, and it is accompanied by the Sign of Power, the Sign of the
Cross made over the surface of the water.

The Word and the Sign give to the water, as before explained, a property
it previously had not, and it is rightly named "holy water." The dark
powers will not approach it; sprinkled on the body it gives a sense of
peace, and conveys new spiritual life. When a child is baptised, the
spiritual energy given to the water by the Word and the Sign reinforces
the spiritual life in the child, and then the Word of Power is again
spoken, this time over the child, and the Sign is traced on his
forehead, and in his subtle bodies the vibrations are felt, and the
summons to guard the life thus sanctified goes forth through the
invisible world; for this Sign is at once purifying and
protective--purifying by the life that is poured forth through it,
protective by the vibrations it sets up in the subtle bodies. Those
vibrations form a guardian wall against the attacks of hostile
influences in the invisible worlds, and every time that holy water is
touched, the Word pronounced, and the Sign made, the energy is renewed,
the vibrations are reinforced, both being recognised as potent in the
invisible worlds, and bringing aid to the operator.

In the early Church, Baptism was preceded by a very careful preparation,
those admitted to the Church being mostly converts from surrounding
faiths. A convert passed through three definite stages of instruction,
remaining in each grade till he had mastered its teachings, and he was
then admitted to the Church by Baptism. Only after that was he taught
the Creed, which was not committed to writing, nor ever repeated in the
presence of an unbeliever; it thus served as a sign of recognition, and
a proof of the position of the man who was able to recite it, showing
that he was a baptised member of the Church. How truly in those days the
grace conveyed by Baptism was believed in is shown by the custom of
death-bed Baptism that grew up. Believing in the reality of Baptism, men
and women of the world, unwilling to resign its pleasures or to keep
their lives pure from stain, would put off the rite of Baptism until
Death's hand was upon them, so that they might benefit by the
sacramental grace, and pass through Death's portal pure and clean, full
of spiritual energy. Against that abuse some of the great Fathers of the
Church struggled, and struggled effectively. There is a quaint story
told by one of them, I think by S. Athanasius, who was a man of caustic
wit, not averse to the use of humour in the attempt to make his hearers
understand at times the folly or perversity of their behaviour. He told
his congregation that he had had a vision, and had gone up to the
gateway of heaven, where S. Peter stood as Warder. No pleased smile had
he for the visitant, but a frown of stern displeasure. "Athanasius,"
said he, "why are you continually sending me these empty bags, carefully
sealed up, with nothing inside?" It was one of the piercing sayings we
meet with in Christian antiquity, when these things were real to
Christian men, and not mere forms, as they too often are to-day.

The custom of Infant Baptism gradually grew up in the Church, and hence
the instruction which in the early days preceded Baptism came to be the
preparation for Confirmation, when the awakened mind and intelligence
take up and re-affirm the baptismal promises. The reception of the
infant into the Church is seen to be rightly done, when man's life is
recognised as being lived in the three worlds, and when the Spirit and
Soul who have come to inhabit the new-born body are known to be not
unconscious and unintelligent, but conscious, intelligent, and potent in
the invisible worlds. It is right and just that the "Hidden Man of the
heart"[339] should be welcomed to the new stage of his pilgrimage, and
that the most helpful influences should be brought to bear upon the
vehicle in which he is to dwell, and which he has to mould to his
service. If the eyes of men were opened, as were of old those of the
servant of Elisha, they would still see the horses and chariots of fire
gathered round the mountain where is the prophet of the Lord.[340]

We come to the second of the Sacraments selected for study, that of the
Sacrifice of the Eucharist, a symbol of the eternal Sacrifice already
explained, the daily sacrifice of the Church Catholic throughout the
world imaging that eternal Sacrifice by which the worlds were made, and
by which they are evermore sustained. It is to be daily offered, as its
archetype is perpetually existent, and men in that act take part in the
working of the Law of Sacrifice, identify themselves with it, recognise
its binding nature, and voluntarily associate themselves with it in its
working in the worlds; in such identification, to partake of the
material part of the Sacrament is necessary, if the identification is to
be complete, but many of the benefits may be shared, and the influence
going forth to the worlds may be increased, by devout worshippers, who
associate themselves mentally, but not physically, with the act.

This great function of Christian worship loses its force and meaning
when it is regarded as nothing more than a mere commemoration of a past
sacrifice, as a pictorial allegory without a deep ensouling truth, as a
breaking of bread and a pouring out of wine without a sharing in the
eternal Sacrifice. So to see it is to make it a mere shell, a dead
picture instead of a living reality. "The cup of blessing which we
bless, is it not the communion [the communication of, the sharing in] of
the blood of Christ?" asks the apostle. "The bread which we break, is it
not the communion of the body of Christ?"[341] And he goes on to point
out that all who eat of a sacrifice become partakers of a common nature,
and are joined into a single body, which is united to, shares the nature
of, that Being who is, present in the sacrifice. A fact of the invisible
world is here concerned, and he speaks with the authority of knowledge.
Invisible Beings pour of their essence into the materials used in any
sacramental rite, and those who partake of those materials--which become
assimilated in the body and enter into its ingredients--are thereby
united to those whose essence is in it, and they all share a common
nature. This is true when we take even ordinary food from the hand of
another--part of his nature, his vital magnetism, mingles with our own;
how much more true then when the food has been solemnly and purposely
impregnated with higher magnetisms, which affect the subtle bodies as
well as the physical. If we would understand the meaning and use of the
Eucharist we must realise these facts of the invisible worlds, and we
must see in it a link between the earthly and the heavenly, as well as
an act of the universal worship, a co-operation, an association, with
the Law of Sacrifice, else it loses the greater part of its
significance.

The employment of bread and wine as the materials for this
Sacrament--like the use of water in the Sacrament of Baptism--is of very
ancient and general usage. The Persians offered bread and wine to
Mithra, and similar offerings were made in Tibet and Tartary. Jeremiah
speaks of the cakes and the drink offered to the Queen of Heaven by the
Jews in Egypt, they taking part in the Egyptian worship.[342] In Genesis
we read that Melchisedek, the King-Initiate, used bread and wine in the
blessing of Abraham.[343] In the various Greek Mysteries bread and wine
were used, and Williamson mentions their use also among the Mexicans,
Peruvians, and Druids.[344]

The bread stands as the general symbol for the food that builds up the
body, and the wine as symbol of the blood, regarded as the life-fluid,
"for the life of the flesh is in the blood."[345] Hence members of a
family are said to share the same blood, and to be of the blood of a
person is to be of his kin. Hence, also, the old ceremonies of the
"blood-covenant"; when a stranger was made one of a family or of a
tribe, some drops of blood from a member were transfused into his veins,
or he drank them--usually mingled with water--and was thenceforth
considered as being a born member of the family or tribe, as being of
its blood. Similarly, in the Eucharist, the worshippers partake of the
bread, symbolising the body, the nature, of the Christ, and of the wine
symbolising the blood, the life of the Christ, and become of His kin,
one with Him.

The Word of Power is the formula "This is My Body," "This is My Blood."
This it is which works the change which we shall consider in a moment,
and transforms the materials into vehicles of spiritual energies. The
Sign of Power is the hand extended over the bread and the wine, and the
Sign of the Cross should be made upon them, though this is not always
done among Protestants. These are the outer essentials of the Sacrament
of the Eucharist.

It is important to understand the change which takes place in this
Sacrament, for it is more than the magnetisation previously explained,
though this also is wrought. We have here a special instance of a
general law.

By the occultist, a visible thing is regarded as the last, the physical,
expression of an invisible truth. Everything is the physical expression
of a thought. An object is but an idea externalised and densified. All
the objects in the world are Divine ideas expressed in physical matter.
That being so, the reality of the object does not lie in the outer form
but in the inner life, in the idea that has shaped and moulded the
matter into an expression of itself. In the higher worlds, the matter
being very subtle and plastic, shapes itself very swiftly to the idea,
and changes form as the thought changes. As matter becomes denser,
heavier, it changes form less readily, more slowly, until, in the
physical world, the changes are at their slowest in consequence of the
resistance of the dense matter of which the physical world is composed.
Let sufficient time be given, however, and even this heavy matter
changes under the pressure of the ensouling idea, as may be seen by the
graving on the face of the expressions of habitual thoughts and
emotions.

This is the truth which underlies what is called the doctrine of
Transubstantiation, so extraordinarily misunderstood by the ordinary
Protestant. But such is the fate of occult truths when they are
presented to the ignorant. The "substance" that is changed is the idea
which makes a thing to be what it is; "bread" is not mere flour and
water; the idea which governs the mixing, the manipulation, of the flour
and water, that is the "substance" which makes it "bread," and the flour
and the water are what are technically called the "accidents," the
arrangements of matter that give form to the idea. With a different
idea, or substance, flour and water would take a different form, as
indeed they do when assimilated by the body. So also chemists have
discovered that the same kind and the same number of chemical atoms may
be arranged in different ways and thus become entirely different things
in their properties, though the materials are unchanged; such "isomeric
compounds" are among the most interesting of modern chemical
discoveries; the arrangement of similar atoms under different ideas
gives different bodies.

What, then, is this change of substance in the materials used in the
Eucharist? The idea that makes the object has been changed; in their
normal condition bread and wine are food-stuffs, expressive of the
divine ideas of nutritive objects, objects fitted for the building up of
bodies. The new idea is that of the Christ nature and life, fitted for
the building up of the spiritual nature and life of man. That is the
change of substance; the object remains unchanged in its "accidents,"
its physical material, but the subtle matter connected with it has
changed under the pressure of the changed idea, and new properties are
imparted by this change. They affect the subtle bodies of the
participants, and attune them to the nature and life of the Christ. On
the "worthiness" of the participant depends the extent to which he can
be thus attuned.

The unworthy participant, subjected to the same process, is injuriously
affected by it, for his nature, resisting the pressure, is bruised and
rent by the forces to which it is unable to respond, as an object may be
broken into pieces by vibrations which it is unable to reproduce.

The worthy partaker, then, becomes one with the Sacrifice, with the
Christ, and so becomes at one with also, united to, the divine Life,
which is the Father of the Christ. Inasmuch as the act of Sacrifice on
the side of form is the yielding up of the life it separates from others
to be part of the common Life, the offering of the separated channel to
be a channel of the one Life, so by that surrender the sacrificer
becomes one with God. It is the giving itself of the lower to be a part
of the higher, the yielding of the body as an instrument of the
separated will to be an instrument of the divine Will, the presenting of
men's "bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God."[346]
Thus it has been truly taught in the Church that those who rightly take
part in the Eucharist enjoy a partaking of the Christ-life poured out
for men. The transmuting of the lower into the higher is the object of
this, as of all, Sacraments. The changing of the lower force by its
union with the loftier is what is sought by those who participate in it;
and those who know the inner truth, and realise the fact of the higher
life, may in any religion, by means of its sacraments, come into fuller,
completer touch with the divine Life that upholds the worlds, if they
bring to the rite the receptive nature, the act of faith, the opened
heart, which are necessary for the possibilities of the Sacrament to be
realised.

The Sacrament of Marriage shows out the marks of a Sacrament as clearly
and as definitely as do Baptism and the Eucharist. Both the outer sign
and the inward grace are there. The material is the Ring--the circle
which is the symbol of the everlasting. The Word of Power is the ancient
formula, "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost." The Sign of Power is the joining of hands, symbolising the
joining of the lives. These make up the outer essentials of the
Sacrament.

The inner grace is the union of mind with mind, of heart with heart,
which makes possible the realisation of the unity of spirit, without
which Marriage is no Marriage, but a mere temporary conjunction of
bodies. The giving and receiving of the ring, the pronouncing of the
formula, the joining of hands, these form the pictorial allegory; if the
inner grace be not received, if the participants do not open themselves
to it by their wish for the union of their whole natures, the Sacrament
for them loses its beneficent properties, and becomes a mere form.

But Marriage has a yet deeper meaning; religions with one voice have
proclaimed it to be the image on earth of the union between the earthly
and the heavenly, the union between God and man. And even then its
significance is not exhausted, for it is the image of the relation
between Spirit and Matter, between the Trinity and the Universe. So
deep, so far-reaching, is the meaning of the joining of man and woman in
Marriage.

Herein the man stands as representing the Spirit, the Trinity of Life,
and the woman as representing the Matter, the Trinity of formative
material. One gives life, the other receives and nourishes it. They are
complementary to each other, two inseparable halves of one whole,
neither existing apart from the other. As Spirit implies Matter and
Matter Spirit, so husband implies wife and wife husband. As the abstract
Existence manifests in two aspects, as a duality of Spirit and Matter,
neither independent of the other, but each coming into manifestation
with the other, so is humanity manifested in two aspects--husband and
wife, neither able to exist apart, and appearing together. They are not
twain but one, a dual-faced unity. God and the Universe are imaged in
Marriage; thus closely linked are husband and wife.

It is said above that Marriage is also an image of the union between God
and man, between the universal and the individualised Spirits. This
symbolism is used in all the great scriptures of the world--Hindu,
Hebrew, Christian. And it has been extended by taking the individualised
Spirit as a Nation or a Church, a collection of such Spirits knit into a
unity. So Isaiah declared to Israel: "Thy Maker is thine Husband; the
Lord of hosts is His name.... As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the
bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee."[347] So S. Paul wrote that
the mystery of Marriage represented Christ and the Church.[348]

If we think of Spirit and Matter as latent, unmanifested, then we see no
production; manifested together, there is evolution. And so when the
halves of humanity are not manifested as husband and wife, there is no
production of fresh life. Moreover, they should be united in order that
there may be a growth of life in each, a swifter evolution, a more rapid
progress, by the half that each can give to each, each supplying what
the other lacks. The twain should be blended into one, setting forth the
spiritual possibilities of man. And they show forth also the perfect
Man, in whose nature Spirit and Matter are both completely developed and
perfectly balanced, the divine Man who unites in his own person husband
and wife, the male and female elements in nature, as "God and Man are
one Christ."[349]

Those who thus study the Sacrament of Marriage will understand why
religions have ever regarded Marriage as indissoluble, and have thought
it better that a few ill-matched pairs should suffer for a few years
than that the ideal of true Marriage should be permanently lowered for
all. A nation must choose whether it will adopt as its national ideal a
spiritual or an earthly bond in Marriage, the seeking in it of a
spiritual unity, or the regarding it as merely a physical union. The one
is the religious idea of Marriage as a Sacrament; the other the
materialistic idea of it as an ordinary terminable contract. The student
of the Lesser Mysteries must ever see in it a sacramental rite.



CHAPTER XIV.

REVELATION.


All the religions known to us are the custodians of Sacred Books, and
appeal to these books for the settlement of disputed questions. They
always contain the teachings given by the founder of the religion, or by
later teachers regarded as possessing super-human knowledge. Even when a
religion gives birth to many discordant sects, each sect will cling to
the Sacred Canon, and will put upon its word the interpretation which
best fits in with its own peculiar doctrines. However widely may be
separated in belief the extreme Roman Catholic and the extreme
Protestant, they both appeal to the same _Bible_. However far apart may
be the philosophic Vedântin and the most illiterate Vallabhâchârya, they
both regard the same _Vedas_ as supreme. However bitterly opposed to
each other may be the Shias and the Sunnis, they both regard as sacred
the same _Kurân_. Controversies and quarrels may arise as to the meaning
of texts, but the Book itself, in every case, is looked on with the
utmost reverence. And rightly so; for all such books contain fragments
of The Revelation, selected by One of the great Ones who hold it in
trust; such a fragment is embodied in what down here we call a
Revelation, or a Scripture, and some part of the world rejoices in it as
in a treasure of vast value. The fragment is chosen according to the
needs of the time, the capacity of the people to whom it is given, the
type of the race whom it is intended to instruct. It is generally given
in a peculiar form, in which the outer history, or story, or song, or
psalm, or prophecy, appears to the superficial or ignorant reader to be
the whole book; but in these deeper meanings lie concealed, sometimes in
numbers, sometimes in words constructed on a hidden plan--a cypher, in
fact--sometimes in symbols, recognisable by the instructed, sometimes in
allegories written as histories, and in many other ways. These Books,
indeed, have something of a sacramental character about them, an outer
form and an inner life, an outer symbol and an inner truth. Those only
can explain the hidden meaning who have been trained by those instructed
in it; hence the dictum of S. Peter that "no prophecy of the Scripture
is of any private interpretation."[350] The elaborate explanations of
texts of the Bible, with which the volumes of patristic literature
abound, seem fanciful and overstrained to the prosaic modern mind. The
play upon numbers, upon letters, the apparently fantastic
interpretations of paragraphs that, on the face of them, are ordinary
historical statements of a simple character, exasperate the modern
reader, who demands to have his facts presented clearly and coherently,
and above all, requires what he feels to be solid ground under his feet.
He declines absolutely to follow the light-footed mystic over what seem
to him to be quaking morasses, in a wild chase after dancing
will-o'-the-wisps, which appear and disappear with bewildering and
irrational caprice. Yet the men who wrote these exasperating treatises
were men of brilliant intellect and calm judgment, the master-builders
of the Church. And to those who read them aright they are still full of
hints and suggestions, and indicate many an obscure pathway that leads
to the goal of knowledge, and that might otherwise be missed.

We have already seen that Origen, one of the sanest of men, and versed
in occult knowledge, teaches that the Scriptures are three-fold,
consisting of Body, Soul, and Spirit.[351] He says that the Body of the
Scriptures is made up of the outer words of the histories and the
stories, and he does not hesitate to say that these are not literally
true, but are only stories for the instruction of the ignorant. He even
goes so far as to remark that statements are made in those stories that
are obviously untrue, in order that the glaring contradictions that lie
on the surface may stir people up to inquire as to the real meaning of
these impossible relations. He says that so long as men are ignorant,
the Body is enough for them; it conveys teaching, it gives instruction,
and they do not see the self-contradictions and impossibilities involved
in the literal statements, and therefore are not disturbed by them. As
the mind grows, as the intellect develops, these contradictions and
impossibilities strike the attention, and bewilder the student; then he
is stirred up to seek for a deeper meaning, and he begins to find the
Soul of the Scriptures. That Soul is the reward of the intelligent
seeker, and he escapes from the bonds of the letter that killeth.[352]
The Spirit of the Scriptures may only be seen by the spiritually
enlightened man; only those in whom the Spirit is evolved can understand
the spiritual meaning: "the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit
of God ... which things also we speak, not in the words which man's
wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth."[353]

The reason for this method of Revelation is not far to seek; it is the
only way in which one teaching can be made available for minds at
different stages of evolution, and thus train not only those to whom it
is immediately given, but also those who, later in time, shall have
progressed beyond those to whom the Revelation was first made. Man is
progressive; the outer meaning given long ago to unevolved men must
needs be very limited, and unless something deeper and fuller than this
outer meaning were hidden within it, the value of the Scripture would
perish when a few millennia had passed away. Whereas by this method of
successive meanings it is given a perennial value, and evolved men may
find in it hidden treasures, until the day when, possessing the whole,
they no longer need the part.

The world-Bibles, then, are fragments--fragments of Revelation, and
therefore are rightly described as Revelation.

The next deeper sense of the word describes the mass of teaching held by
the great Brotherhood of spiritual Teachers in trust for men; this
teaching is embodied in books, written in symbols, and in these is
contained an account of kosmic laws, of the principles on which the
kosmos is founded, of the methods by which it is evolved, of all the
beings that compose it, of its past, its present, its future; this is
The Revelation. This is the priceless treasure which the Guardians of
humanity hold in charge, and from which they select, from time to time,
fragments to form the Bibles of the world.

Thirdly, the Revelation, highest, fullest, best, is the Self-unveiling
of Deity in the kosmos, the revealing of attribute after attribute,
power after power, beauty after beauty, in all the various forms which
in their totality compose the universe. He shows His splendour in the
sun, His infinity in the star-flecked fields of space, His strength in
mountains, His purity in snow-clad peaks and translucent air, His energy
in rolling ocean-billows, His beauty in tumbling mountain-torrent, in
smooth, clear lake, in cool, deep forest and in sunlit plain, His
fearlessness in the hero, His patience in the saint, His tenderness in
mother-love, His protecting care in father and in king, His wisdom in
the philosopher, His knowledge in the scientist, His healing power in
the physician, His justice in the judge, His wealth in the merchant, His
teaching power in the priest, His industry in the artisan. He whispers
to us in the breeze, He smiles on us in the sunshine, He chides us in
disease, He stimulates us, now by success and now by failure. Everywhere
and in everything He gives us glimpses of Himself to lure us on to love
Him, and He hides Himself that we may learn to stand alone. To know Him
everywhere is the true Wisdom; to love Him everywhere is the true
Desire; to serve Him everywhere is the true Action. This Self-revealing
of God is the highest Revelation; all others are subsidiary and partial.

The inspired man is the man to whom some of this Revelation has come by
the direct action of the universal Spirit on the separated Spirit that
is His offspring, who has felt the illuminating influence of Spirit on
Spirit. No man knows the truth so that he can never lose it, no man
knows the truth so that he can never doubt it, until the Revelation has
come to him as though he stood alone on earth, until the Divine without
has spoken to the Divine within, in the temple of the human heart, and
the man thus knows by himself and not by another.

In a lesser degree a man is inspired when one greater than he stimulates
within him powers which as yet are normally inactive, or even takes
possession of him, temporarily using his body as a vehicle. Such an
illuminated man, at the time of his inspiration, can speak that which is
beyond his knowledge, and utter truths till then unguessed. Truths are
sometimes thus poured out through a human channel for the helping of the
world, and some One greater than the speaker sends down his life into
the human vehicle, and they rush forth from human lips; then a great
teacher speaks yet more greatly than he knows, the Angel of the Lord
having touched his lips with fire.[354] Such are the Prophets of the
race, who at some periods have spoken with overwhelming conviction, with
clear insight, with complete understanding of the spiritual needs of
man. Then the words live with a life immortal, and the speaker is truly
a messenger from God. The man who has thus known can never again quite
lose the memory of the knowledge, and he carries within his heart a
certainty which can never quite disappear. The light may vanish and the
darkness come down upon him; the gleam from heaven may fade and clouds
may surround him; threat, question, challenge, may assail him; but
within his heart there nestles the Secret of Peace--he knows, or knows
that he has known.

That remembrance of true inspiration, that reality of the hidden life,
has been put into beautiful and true words by Frederick Myers, in his
well-known poem, _S. Paul_. The apostle is speaking of his own
experience, and is trying to give articulate expression to that which he
remembers; he is figured as unable to thoroughly reproduce his
knowledge, although he knows and his certainty does not waver:

  So, even I, athirst for His inspiring,
    I, who have talked with Him, forget again;
  Yes, many days with sobs and with desiring,
    Offer to God a patience and a pain.

  Then through the mid complaint of my confession,
    Then through the pang and passion of my prayer,
  Leaps with a start the shock of His possession,
    Thrills me and touches, and the Lord is there.

  Lo, if some pen should write upon your rafter
    Mene and Mene in the folds of flame,
  Think ye could any memories thereafter
    Wholly retrace the couplet as it came?

  Lo, if some strange intelligible thunder
    Sang to the earth the secret of a star,
  Scarce should ye catch, for terror and for wonder,
    Shreds of the story that was pealed so far!

  Scarcely I catch the words of His revealing,
    Hardly I hear Him, dimly understand.
  Only the power that is within me pealing
    Lives on my lips, and beckons to my hand.

  Whoso hath felt the Spirit of the Highest
    Cannot confound, nor doubt Him, nor deny;
  Yea, with one voice, O world, though thou deniest,
    Stand thou on that side, for on this am I.

  Rather the world shall doubt when her retrieving
    Pours in the rain and rushes from the sod;
  Rather than he in whom the great conceiving
    Stirs in his soul to quicken into God.

  Nay, though thou then shouldst strike him from his glory,
    Blind and tormented, maddened and alone,
  E'en on the cross would he maintain his story,
    Yes, and in Hell would whisper, "I have known."

Those who have in any sense realised that God is around them, in them,
and in everything, will be able to understand how a place or an object
may become "sacred" by a slight objectivisation of this perennial
universal Presence, so that those become able to sense Him who do not
normally feel His omnipresence. This is generally effected by some
highly advanced man, in whom the inner Divinity is largely unfolded, and
whose subtle bodies are therefore responsive to the subtler vibrations
of consciousness. Through such a man, or by such a man, spiritual
energies may be poured forth, and these will unite themselves with his
pure vital magnetism. He can then pour them forth on any object, and its
ether and bodies of subtler matter will become attuned to his
vibrations, as before explained, and further, the Divinity within it can
more easily manifest. Such an object becomes "magnetised," and, if this
be strongly done, the object will itself become a magnetic centre,
capable in turn of magnetising those who approach it. Thus a body
electrified by an electric machine will affect other bodies near which
it may be placed.

An object thus rendered "sacred" is a very useful adjunct to prayer and
meditation. The subtle bodies of the worshipper are attuned to its high
vibrations, and he finds himself quieted, soothed, pacified, without
effort on his own part. He is thrown into a condition in which prayer
and meditation are easy and fruitful instead of difficult and barren,
and an irksome exercise becomes insensibly delightful. If the object be
a representation of some sacred Person--a Crucifix, a Madonna and Child,
an Angel, a Saint--there is a yet further gain. The Being represented,
if his magnetism has been thrown into the image by the appropriate Word
and Sign of Power, can re-inforce that magnetism with a very slight
expenditure of spiritual energy, and may thus influence the devotee, or
even show himself through the image, when otherwise he would not have
done so. For in the spiritual world economy of forces is observed, and a
small amount of energy will be expended where a larger would be
withheld.

An application of these same occult laws may be made to explain the use
of all consecrated objects--relics, amulets, &c. They are all magnetised
objects, more or less powerful, or useless, according to the knowledge,
purity, and spirituality of the person who magnetises them.

Places may similarly be made sacred, by the living in them of saints,
whose pure magnetism, radiating from them, attunes the whole atmosphere
to peace-giving vibrations. Sometimes holy men, or Beings from the
higher worlds, will directly magnetise a certain place, as in the case
mentioned in the Fourth Gospel, where an Angel came at a certain season
and touched the water, giving it healing qualities.[355] In such places
even careless worldly men will sometimes feel the blessed influence, and
will be temporarily softened and inclined toward higher things. The
divine Life in each man is ever trying to subdue the form, and mould it
into an expression of itself; and it is easy to see how that Life will
be aided by the form being thrown into vibrations sympathetic with
those of a more highly evolved Being, its own efforts being reinforced
by a stronger power. The outer recognition of this effect is a sense of
quiet, calm, and peace; the mind loses its restlessness, the heart its
anxiety. Any one who observes himself will find that some places are
more conducive to calm, to meditation, to religious thought, to worship,
than others. In a room, a building, where there has been a great deal of
worldly thought, of frivolous conversation, of mere rush of ordinary
worldly life, it is far harder to quiet the mind and to concentrate the
thought, than in a place where religious thought has been carried on
year after year, century after century; there the mind becomes calm and
tranquillised insensibly, and that which would have demanded serious
effort in the first place is done without effort in the second.

This is the rationale of places of pilgrimage, of temporary retreats
into seclusion; the man turns inward to seek the God within him, and is
aided by the atmosphere created by thousands of others, who before him
have sought the same in the same place. For in such a place there is not
only the magnetisation produced by a single saint, or by the visit of
some great Being of the invisible world; each person, who visits the
spot with a heart full of reverence and devotion, and is attuned to its
vibrations, reinforces those vibrations with his own life, and leaves
the spot better than it was when he came to it. Magnetic energy slowly
disperses, and a sacred object or place becomes gradually demagnetised
if put aside or deserted. It becomes more magnetised as it is used or
frequented. But the presence of the ignorant scoffer injures such
objects and places, by setting up antagonistic vibrations which weaken
those already existing there. As a wave of sound may be met by another
which extinguishes it, and the result is silence, so do the vibrations
of the scoffing thought weaken or extinguish the vibrations of the
reverent and loving one. The effect produced will, of course, vary with
the relative strengths of the vibrations, but the mischievous one cannot
be without result, for the laws of vibration are the same in the higher
worlds as in the physical, and thought vibrations are the expression of
real energies.

The reason and the effect of the consecration of churches, chapels,
cemeteries, will now be apparent. The act of consecration is not the
mere public setting aside of a place for a particular purpose; it is the
magnetisation of the place for the benefit of all those who frequent it.
For the visible and the invisible worlds are inter-related, interwoven,
each with each, and those can best serve the visible by whom the
energies of the invisible can be wielded.



AFTERWORD.


We have reached the end of a small book on a great subject, and have
only lifted a corner of the Veil that hides the Virgin of Eternal Truth
from the careless eyes of men. The hem of her garment only has been
seen, heavy with gold, richly dight with pearls. Yet even this, as it
waves slowly, breathes out celestial fragrances--the sandal and
rose-attar of fairer worlds than ours. What should be the unimaginable
glory, if the Veil were lifted, and we saw the splendour of the Face of
the divine Mother, and in Her arms the Child who is the very Truth?
Before that Child the Seraphim ever veil their faces; who then of mortal
birth may look on Him and live?

Yet since in man abides His very Self, who shall forbid him to pass
within the Veil, and to see with "open face the glory of the Lord"?
From the Cave to highest Heaven; such was the pathway of the Word made
Flesh, and known as the Way of the Cross. Those who share the manhood
share also the Divinity, and may tread where He has trodden. "What Thou
art, That am I."


PEACE TO ALL BEINGS.



INDEX.                               PAGE

_Acts of the Apostles_ referred to;  281

À Kempis, Thomas;  115

Afterword;  376

Allegory;  66

Allegories, Old Testament; 121

All-wide Consciousness; 281 _et seq._

Ammonius Saccas; 28

Animal Symbols of Zodiac; 165

Anselm and Redemption; 195

Answers to Prayer; 277
  "        Subjective Prayer; 290

Apollonius of Tyana; 31

Apostolic Fathers; 70

Appearances of Divine Beings; 93

Aquinas, Thomas; 112

_Arians of the Fourth Century_, quoted; 103

Aristotle, Effect on Mediæval Christianity; 112

Ascension, The; 231, 250
  "      and Solar Myth; 231
  "      of the Christ; 249

_Asiatic Researches_, quoted; 258

Aspects of the ONE; 262

Athanasius, Story of; 353

Athanasian Creed, quoted; 263, 367

Atlantis, Continent of; 18

At-one-ment; 209

Atonement as one of Lesser Mysteries; 200
  "     Early Church on the; 195
  "     Calvinistic View of; 197
  "     Edwards on the; 197
  "     Flavel on the; 196
  "     Luther's Views on the; 196
  "     Dr. McLeod Campbell on the; 199
  "     F. D. Maurice on the; 199
  "     Vicarious and Substitutionary; 196

Atonement--Views of Dwight, Jeune, Jenkyn, Liddon, Owen,
             Stroud, and Thomson; 198
  "     Truth underlying the Doctrine of; 199
  "     Pamphlet on, quoted; 198
  "     _Nineteenth Century_ quoted on; 205

Augöeides; 27


Barnabas; 71

Baptism, A Mantram in; 350
  "     A Minor Form of; 349
  "     Belief in Death-bed; 352
  "     Infant; 353
  "     In the Early Church; 352
  "     In Other Religions; 348
  "     of Initiate; 53
  "     of Holy Ghost and Fire; 188
  "     of Jesus; 133
  "     of the Christ; 186
  "     Tertullian on; 349

Beatific Vision, The; 95, 295

Bernard of Clairvaux; 112

Bel-fires; 164

_Bhagavad Gîtâ_ referred to; 50, 202, 270, 306, 318

Bible Account of Creation; 179

Birth, Second; 247

Blavatsky, H. P., referred to; 127

Blood of Christ symbolised in Eucharist; 359

Böhme, Jacob; 115

Body, Causal; 239, 247
  "   Desire, Changes in;  244
  "   Meaning of a; 234
  "   Mental; 236
  "     "     Building of; 245
  "   Natural or Physical; 236
  "   Natural, of St. Paul; 237
  "   of Bliss; 240
  "   of Desire; 236
  "   Physical, Changes in; 243
  "   Resurrection; 240

Body, Spiritual; 239

_Book of Job_, quoted; 268, 332
  "  _of the Dead_, referred to; 339
  "  _of Wisdom_, quoted; 266

Bread, General Symbol in Sacraments; 358

_Brihadâranyakopanishat_, quoted; 50, 202

Brotherhood of Great Teachers; 9

Bruno, Giordano, referred to; 5, 113, 115, 225, 322

Buddha, Birth Story of; 164

Buddhist Trinity; 258


Calvinistic Doctrine; 197

Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa; 115

Cathari, The, referred to; 113

Cave of Initiation; 186

Celsus--Controversy with Origen; 88

_Chhândogyopanishat_, quoted; 253

Chrêstos and Christos; 174

Christ as Hierophant of Mysteries; 231
  "   Baptism of; 186
  "   Crucifixion of; 183
  "   Disciples of; 223
  "   in the Spiritual Body; 137
  "   Life of the; 217
  "   of the Mysteries; 191
  "   The; 132, 134
  "   the Crucified; 182
  "   the Historical; 120, 140
  "   the Kosmic; 179
  "   the Mystic; 170
  "   the Mythic; 145
  "   Sufferings of the; 223

_Christian Creed_, referred to; 180, 181
  "                quoted; 206, 207, 229

Christian Disciples--their work; 223

_Christian Records_, quoted; 348

Christian Symbols, &c., not unique; 148

Christianity has the Gnosis; 36

Christmas Day; 159, 161

Christmas Festival, rightly regarded; 164

_Clarke's Ante-Nicene_ Library, quoted; viii., 21, 58, 71, 72, 73, 74,
    77, 78, 80 _et seq._, 87, 88, 90 _et seq._, 103, 150, 151, 266

Classes of Prayers; 283

Clement of Alexandria, quoted; viii., 20
  "  "     referred to; 73
  "  "     on the Gnosis; 83, 84
  "  "     on Scripture Allegories; 83
  "  "     on Symbols; 80
  "  "     and Catechetical School; 73
  "  "     a Pupil of Pantænus; 73

_Colossians, Epistle to_, referred to;  58, 65, 81, 177

Comparative Mythologists; 7
  "  "  Theory of; 8
  "  Religionists; 7, 8
  "  Mythology; 147

Consecrated Objects; 382

Consecration of Churches, Cemeteries, &c.; 385

Constant, Alphonse Louis; 118

Conversion, Phenomenon of; 313 _et seq._

_Corinthians, Epistles to_, quoted; ix., x., 6, 32, 55, 64, 67, 124,
    175, 177, 232, 239, 240, 241, 251, 253, 270, 356, 373

Creed, taught after Baptism in Early Church; 352

_Cruden's Concordance_, quoted; 33

_Cur Deus Homo_ of Anselm; 195


Dangers to Christianity; 125

Dark Powers in Nature;  186, 187

Dean Milman, quoted; 255 _et seq._

Death of Solar Heroes; 166

_De Principiis_ of Origen; 101, 102

_Deuteronomy_, quoted; 96, 253

_Diegesis_ of R. Taylor, quoted; 350

_Die Deutsche Theologie_; 114

Dionysius the Areopagite; 110

Disappearance of the Mysteries; 184

Disciples, The; 136
  "  Work of the; 223
  "  Writings of the; 140

Divine Beings, Appearance in Mysteries; 93

"Divine Grace," What it is;  224
  "  Ideation; 359
  "  Illumination; 377
  "  Incarnations; 273, 274

Duality of Manifested Existence; 235
  "  of Second Person of Trinity; 265


Easter Festival; 159

Eckhart, Teachings of; 113

Edwards on the Atonement; 197

Egypt and the Mysteries; 131

_Encyclopædia Britannica_, referred to; 22, 23, 117
  "  "  quoted; 110 _et seq._

_Ephesians, Epistle to_, quoted; 57, 65, 67, 366

_Epistle of James_, quoted;  276
  "  _of Peter_, quoted; 64, 121, 194, 354, 371

Esoteric Christianity, Popular Denial of; 2
  "  Teaching in Early Church; 2

Essentials of Religion; 4

Eucharist, Bread and Wine of; 357
  "  Change of Substance in; 361
  "  connected with Law of Sacrifice; 357
  "  Meaning and Use of;  357
  "  Sacrifice of; 355
  "  Unworthy Participants in; 362

_Exodus, Book of_, quoted; 91

Exstasy; 295


Faith Needed for Forgiveness; 312

Fathers, The Christian, on Scriptures; 371

Festivals; 147

Fish Symbol in Religions; 166

Flavel on Atonement; 196

Fludd, Robert; 116

Forgiveness of Sins; 301
  "  in Lesser Mysteries; 323
  "  in most Religions; 303
  "  ultimately refers to _Post-Mortem_ Penalties; 307

Fourth Manifestation Feminine; 261
  "  Person; 263

Free-thinking in Christianity; 123

_Friends of God in the Oberland_; 114

Friends, Society of; 117

Future of Christianity; 41


_Galatians, Epistle to_, quoted; 64, 65, 66, 124

_Genesis_, quoted; 18, 180, 268, 269, 271, 279, 358

Germain, Comte de S.; 117

Gestures in Sacraments;  338

Gibbon's _Decline and Fall of R. Empire_, quoted;  162

Giles, Rev. Dr., quoted;  347

Gnosis, The;   viii., 9, 108
  "      " in Christianity;  36

Gnostic, The, of S. Clement; 84 _et seq._

_Gnostics and their Remains_, quoted; 162

Gods in the Mysteries; 25

Grades of Hierarchies; 331

Grand Lodge of Central Asia; 31

Greek Cross, The;  267

Guyon, Mme. de; 116


Haug, Dr., _Essay on Parsis_, cited; 202

_Hebrews, Epistle to_, quoted; 53, 67, 81, 91, 175, 176, 205,
    216, 222, 223, 247, 270, 274, 280

Hebrew Trinity; 254

Hell-fire Dogma, The; 48

_Heroic Enthusiasts, The_, quoted; 323

Hidden God, The;  207
  "  Meanings in Jewish and Christian Scriptures; 100
  "  Side of Christianity; 36
  "  Teaching in all Religions; 20

Hierarchies of Divine Beings; 331
  "  of Superhuman Beings; 23

Hindu, Trinity, The; 257

History _versus_ Myth; 153

Holy Spirit as Creator; 269

Holy Water; 343, 349, 351

Human Evolution repeats Kosmic Process; 271

Huxley, T. H., quoted; 282

Hyde, Dr., quoted;  347

_Hymn to Demeter_; 22


Iamblichus, _On the Mysteries_, quoted; 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29,
    296 _et seq._

Iamblichus, _Life of Pythagoras_, referred to; 28

Ignatius; 71

Incarnation of Logos;  179

Initiation and Rebirth;  51, 53
  "  Cave of;  186
  "  Ceremonies of; 247 _et seq._
  "  Conditions of; 173
  "  Mount of;  91

Inspiration, True; 378

Intelligences in Invisible Worlds; 279

Inviolability of Law; 305

Invisible Helpers; 280

Invisible Worlds interpenetrate the Visible; 279

Irenæus, _Against Heresies_, referred to; 105

_Isaiah_, quoted; 210, 295, 366, 377

Isomeric Compounds; 361


_Jeremiah, Book of_, quoted; 262, 357

Jesus at Mount Serbal;  130
  "  Baptism of;  133
  "  Date and Place of Birth; 130
  "  His Work in Christendom;  143
  "  in Egypt; 130
  "  Inner Instructions of; 137
  "  Master of the West; 147
  "  Sacrifice of; 133
  "  the Divine Teacher; 183
  "  the Healer and Teacher; 127
  "  training in Essene Community; 130
  "  the Master; 142

_Judges, Book of_, quoted;  97

Juliana Mother; 117

Justin Martyr;  148
  "  "  quoted; 149 _et seq._


_Kabbala_, Five Books of, referred to; 34

Karma;  288, 309

_Kathopanishat_, quoted; 32, 33, 49

_Key to Theosophy_, quoted; 294

Kingdom of Heaven--real meaning; 52

_Kings, Book of_, quoted; 33, 354

Kosmic Christ, The; 179
  "  Process of becoming; 268
  "  Sacrifice; 183


Lang, Andrew, referred to; 11, 12

Language of Symbols; 153

Latin Cross, Origin of; 206
  "  Use of, in Roman Church; 337

Law of Sacrifice; 201
  "  "  in Hinduism;  202
  "  "  in Nature of Logos;  204
  "  "  in Zoroastrianism;  202
  "  "  or Manifestation; 203

Law, William; 117

Left-hand Path; 17

Lent; 167

Levi Eliphas; 118

_Leviticus_, quoted; 358

_Light on the Path_, quoted; 220

"Little Child"; 65

Logos, Birth of the; 205
  "  and Sacrifice; 204
  "  Life of, in every form; 208
  "  Meaning of the Term; 172
  "  of Plato; 182
  "  Perpetual Sacrifice of; 209

Loss of Mystic Teaching in Christianity; 37

_Luke, Gospel of_, quoted; 45, 48, 175, 176, 264, 289, 302, 312

Luther on the Atonement; 196


Madonnas; 160

Magnetic Cures, Secret of; 342
  "  Change in Sacramental Substance; 342
  "  Energies in Ether;  341

Magnetisation of Substances; 341

_Making_ of _Religion_, The, referred to; 11

Man as Microcosm;  271
  "  and Woman Complementary; 365
  "  develops Second Aspect; 272

Man's Manifold Nature; 234

_Mandakopanishat_, quoted; 202

"Mantras"; 335
  "  essential in Sacraments; 338
  "  in rite of Baptism; 350
  "  in Sanskrit;  336
  "  spoilt by translation; 337

_Mark, Gospel of_, quoted; vii., 45, 47

Martin, St.; 117

Marriage, Deeper meaning of; 365
  "  in Lesser Mysteries; 368
  "  Mystery of; 366
  "  Sacrament of;  364
  "  type of union between God and Man; 366

Mary, the World Mother;  206

Master, Jesus, the; 142

_Matthew, Gospel of_, quoted;   vii., 45, 46, 49, 52, 53, 54, 92, 134,
    176, 177, 186, 210, 216, 240, 271, 274, 281, 306, 319

Maurice, cited; 254

Mead, G. R. S., quoted; 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 114

Mediator, Nature of;  274

Meditation--What it is; 293
  "  Growth by; 299

Men at different levels; 3

Miguel de Molinos; 116

Ministry of Angels, The; 287, 289

Miracles; 145

Mithras, Birth of; 161

Modern Spirit antagonistic to Prayer; 276

More, Henry; 116

Mother Juliana of Norwich; 117

Mount Serbal; 130

Mount of Initiation; 91, 188

Müller, George, Case of; 284 _et seq._

Music in Worship; 335, 337

Myers (F.), St. Paul; 378

Mystery Gods; 25
  "  of Christ;  57

Mysteries, Christian, Symbolism of; 247

Mysteries and Yoga; 31
  "  Christ as Hierophant of; 231
  "  Disappearance of the; 184
  "  Eliphas Levi on the; 118
  "  established by Christ; 142
  "  Greater, The; ix., 1, 22, 27, 63
  "  in the Gospels; 45
  "  in Egypt; 131
  "  in relation to Myth; 157
  "  Lesser; ix., 1, 22
  "  "  and Prayer; 280
  "  "  as to Bodies; 237
  "  "  Teaching of; 251
  "  Names in Christianity; 47
  "  of Bacchus; 21, 27
  "  of Chaldæa, Egypt, Eleusis, Mithras, Orpheus, Samothrace,
        Scythia; 21
  "  of God; 57
  "  of Jesus; 1, 42, 94
  "  of the Early Church; 69 _et seq_.
  "  of Magic, quoted; 157
  "  praised by Learned Greeks; 21
  "  Pseudo, and Sun-God Story; 167
  "  source of Mystic Learning; 108
  "  The; 171, 178
  "  taught, _Post-mortem_ Existence; 21
  "  The True; 179
  "  The Christ of the; 184
  "  Theory of the; 22
  "  withdrawn; 108

Mystic Christ, The; 170
  "  "  Twofold; 178
  "  Vesture, The; 138

Mythic Christ, The; 145

Myth, Meaning of; 152, 153
  "  Solar; 156

Mythology Comparative; 147


Natural and Spiritual Bodies; 232
  "  Body--of St. Paul; 237

Natural Body, The; 235 _et seq._

Need for Graded Religion; 14

Neoplatonists;  29, 112

Newman, Cardinal, quoted; 103 _et seq._
  "  Recognises a Secret Tradition; 104

New Testament Proofs of Esotericism; 42 _et seq._

Nicene Creed; 181

Nicolas of Basel; 114

Noachian Deluge; 19

_Nous Demiurgos_ of Plato; 255

_Numbers, Book of_, quoted; 270


Object of all Religions; 3

Occult Experts; 127
  "  Knowledge, Danger of; 16
  "  Records; 18
  "  "  and the Gospels; 129
  "  side of Nature; 279
  "  use of Sounds;  334

Old Testament Allegories; 121

One Existence, The; 253

One, The, Three aspects of; 262
 "  "  Manifest; 261

Origen _Against Celsus_; 88 _et seq._
  "  "  ";  95
  "  on the Need of Wisdom; 99
  "  "  Mysteries;  89
  "  "  Scriptures; 372
  "  "  Tower of Babel; 97
  "  referred to;  44
  "  Shining Light of Learning; 87

_Orpheus_, Mead's, quoted; 28, 29, 30, 114

Owen on Atonement; 197


Pantænus; 73, 74

Paracelsus; 115

Paradise; 242

Path of Discipleship; 174

_Philippians, Epistle to_, quoted; 62

Physical Ailments final expression of Karma; 310

Physical Body, Changes in; 243
  "  Material in Sacraments; 340

Pilgrimages, Rationale of; 382

_Pistis Sophia_, quoted; 46, 138, 139, 302 _et seq._,
    319 _et seq._, 340
  "  "  referred to; 137

Plato's Cave; 153

Plato initiated in Egypt; 21

Platonists of Cambridge; 116

Plotinus, Dying Words of; 31
  "  referred to; 23
  "  Mead's, quoted; 31

Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna; 70

Popular Christianity, Mistake of; vii.
  "  Denial of Esoteric Christianity; 1

Porphyry, quoted;  27, 54

Prayer; 276
  "  Answers to; 277
  "  as Will; 285
  "  Class B--general principle; 292
  "  Failure of; 287
  "  for Spiritual Enlightenment; 291
  "  for the Student of Lesser Mysteries; 296
  "  Highest form of; 293
  "  Puzzling Facts as to; 277

Prayers classified; 278

Probationary Path, The; 247

"Proclaim upon the houses"--Mystical meaning; 79

Proclus, Teaching of; 26, 29, 51

Psalms, quoted; 5, 299

Pseudo-Mysteries and Sun-God Drama; 167

Pupils of the Apostles; 70

Purgatory; 242

Purification; 244

Pythagoras, referred to; 28
  "  in India; 31

Pythagorean School, Discipline of; 29, 30


Qualifications of Disciple; 175

Quietists, The; 116


Regions of the Invisible Worlds; 239

Re-incarnation;  239

Religion, Need for graded; 14

_Religion of Ancient Persians_, quoted; 347

Religions, Common origin of; 7
  "  Custodians of Sacred Books; 369
  "  Essentials of; 4
  "  fitted for Stages of Growth; 13
  "  Object of all; 3
  "  Source of all; 7

Religious Founders; 10
  "  Scriptures; 10
  "  Teachers; 9

Resurrection and Solar Myth; 231, 250
  "  Body; 240
  "  of the Christ; 249
  "  of the Dead; 62
  "  The--Part of Lesser Mysteries; 231

Revelation; 369
   "  Fragments of in Sacred Books; 370
   "  in Cypher; 370
   "  of Deity in Kosmos; 375

_Revelations, Book of_, quoted; 50, 63, 66, 249, 263,
    292, 322, 331

Revolt against Dogma; 38

Roman Empire dying; 107

_Romans, Epistle to_, quoted; 82, 363

Rosenkreutz Christian; 117

Ruling Angel of Jews; 96, 98

Ruysbroeck; 115


Sacrament, a kind of crucible; 326
  "  a Pictorial Allegory; 325
  "  Change in substance at; 343
  "  link between Visible and Invisible; 326, 327
  "  of Baptism; 347
  "  of Eucharist; 347
  "  of Marriage; 347, 364
  "  of Penance; 340

Sacraments; 324
  "  Angels connected with; 343
  "  defined in Church Catechism; 329

Sacraments, Gestures used in; 338
  "  in all Religions; 324
  "  Lost at Reformation; 327
  "  Mantrams in; 338
  "  of Christian Church; 327
  "  Peculiar Characteristics; 324
  "  Seven, of Christianity; 327, 346
  "  Signs, Seals, or Sigils in; 339
  "  "Substance" and "Accidents" of; 361
  "  Twofold Nature of; 324 _et seq._
  "  Two, In Protestant Communities; 328, 346

Sacred Places and Objects; 380

Sacred Quaternery, The; 261

Sacrifice as Joy; 210 _et seq._
  "  Law of; 201
  "  "  Four Stages in; 212
  "  Lessons in; 212 _et seq._
  "  of Jesus; 133

Saint Bonaventura; 112
  "  Elizabeth; 113
  "  Francois de Sales; 116
  "  John of the Cross; 116
  "  _John's Gospel_, quoted; x., 46, 52, 53, 54, 56, 103, 132, 133,
       134, 137, 177, 180, 216, 240, 246, 250, 262, 270, 273, 292, 382
  "  Paul, quoted; 55 _et seq._, 124, 184
  "  Paul an Initiate; 61
  "  "  and Mysteries; 57
  "  "  and Timothy; 59, 69
  "  "  on Allegory; 66
  "  Peter, quoted; 194
  "  Teresa; 116
  "  Timothy, referred to; 59

_Samuel, Book of_, quoted; 33

Savage Deities; 11

Savages as Descendants of Civilisation; 12

Saviour, The True; 219 _et seq._

Sayings of Jesus; 53, 54, 301

Scientific Analysis of Vehicles; 237

Search for God, The; 5

Secret Teachings of Jesus; 90
  "  Tradition recognised by Newman; 104

Second Birth; 185, 247

_Sepher Yetzirah_, quoted; 34

_Sharpe's Egyptian Mythology_, quoted; 259

_Shvetâshvataropanishat_, quoted; 32

"Sign of Power"; 339

Society of Friends; 117

Solar Gods; 160
  "  Myth, Root of; 178

Sopater, quoted; 21

Sophia--The Wisdom; 138

Soul--Dual; 233

Sound and Form in the Invisible Worlds; 333

Sound, Occult use of; 334

Source of Religions; 7

Spirit and Matter; 367

Spirit threefold; 233
  "  manifested as triple Self; 330

Spiritual Body, Divisions of; 240 _et seq._

"Star of Initiation"; 186

"Strait Gate" term of Initiation; 49, 50, 174, 177

_Stromata_ or Miscellanies of S. Clement, quoted; 58, 74 _et seq._,
   78, 83, 84, 85, 87

Sufferings of the Christ; 223

Superintending Spirits; 98

Sun God Legend; 158
  "  "  Symbol of Logos; 171
  " Heroes; 165
  " Myths, recurring; 169
  " of Righteousness; 249
  " Symbol of the Logos; 154
  " Symbols; 155

Survival of Christianity?; 40

Symbol of Jesus; 165
  "  of Trinity; 267

Symbols--animal, in Zodiac; 165
  "  Language of; 153

Symbols of Logoi; 266 _et seq._


Tatian and Theodotus, referred to;  73

Tauler, John; 114

Taylor, Robert, quoted; 350

Teachings common to all Religions; 146
  "  in the hands of Spiritual Brotherhood; 374

Tertullian on Baptism; 151

The Christ; 132, 134

The Hidden Side of Religions; 1
  "  of Christianity; 36

The Disciples; 136

The "Simple Gospel"; 39

The title of Lord; 96

The Testimony of the Scriptures; 36

The Tower of Babel; 97

The Thyrsus; 75

The True Exstasis; 108

The Trinity; 253
  "  among the Hebrews; 254
  "  Hindu; 257
  "  in Buddhism; 258
  "  in Chaldæa; 259
  "  in China; 259
  "  in Extinct Religions; 258
  "  in Egypt; 259
  "  in Man; 177, 233
  "  in Manifestation; 254
  "  in Zoroastrianism; 257

The Word of Wisdom, of Knowledge; 102

Theological Hell; 308

_Theosophical Review_, quoted; 228

_Thessalonians, Epistle to_, quoted; 233

Three Worlds, The; 241

_Timothy, Epistle to_, quoted; 59, 60, 61, 65, 134, 227

Tradition of _Post-mortem_ Teaching of Jesus; 46

Transubstantiation--Truth Underlying; 360

Triangle as a Symbol of Trinity; 267

Trinity, A Second; 263
  "  of Spirit; 233

Trinity in Christian agrees with other Faiths; 260

Triple Aspect of Matter; 264

Triplicity in Nature; 261

True Theosophy defined; x.

Two Schools of Christian Interpretation; 122

Two-fold Division of Man Insufficient; 232


Vaivasvata Manu; 19

Valentinus; 137

Vaughan, Thomas; 116

Vehicles of Consciousness, Need for Different; 238

Vibrations; 334

Vibratory Effects of Mass; 338

Virgin Matter; 264
  "  "  and Third Person of Trinity; 265
  "  "  and Second  "  " ; 265
  "  Mother; 264

Virgin's Womb, Meaning of; 180

Virgo, Zodiacal Sign of; 158, 160

Virtues in the Mysteries; 27

_Voice of the Silence_, quoted; 249

_Voice Figures_--Mrs. Watts Hughes, referred to; 333


Williamson's _Great Law_, quoted; 161, 163 _et seq._,
   166, 167, 203, 255, 259, 348, 358.

Will as Prayer; 285

Words of Power; 335

Work of the Holy Spirit; 179, 268
  "  Second Person; 179, 269
  "  First Person; 270

Working of Logos in Matter; 182

Workers in Kosmos; 283
  "  the Invisible Worlds; 152, 280

World Bibles, fragments of Revelation; 374

World Soul, The; 23

World Symbols; 266

Writings of the Disciples; 140


_Zechariah_, quoted; 268

Zodiac, The; 160


       *       *       *       *       *



FOOTNOTES:

[1] S. Mark xvi. 15.

[2] S. Matt vii. 6.

[3] Clarke's Ante-Nicene Christian Library, Vol. IV. Clement of
Alexandria. _Stromata_, bk. I., ch. xii.

[4] I. Cor. iii. 16.

[5] _Ibid._, ii. 14, 16.

[6] S. John, i. 9.

[7] Psalms, xlii. 1.

[8] 1 Cor. xv. 28.

[9] Ante-Nicene Library, Vol. XII. Clement of Alexandria. _Stromata_,
bk. V., ch. xi.

[10] See Article on "Mysteries," _Encyc. Britannica_ ninth edition.

[11] Psellus, quoted in _Iamblichus on the Mysteries_. T. Taylor, p.
343, note on p. 23, second edition.

[12] _Iamblichus_, as _ante_, p. 301.

[13] _Ibid._, p. 72.

[14] The article on "Mysticism" in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ has
the following on the teaching of Plotinus (204-206 A.D.): "The One
[the Supreme God spoken of above] is exalted above the _nous_ and the
'ideas'; it transcends existence altogether and is not cognisable by
reason. Remaining itself in repose, it rays out, as it were, from its
own fulness, an image of itself, which is called _nous_, and which
constitutes the system of ideas of the intelligible world. The soul is
in turn the image or product of the _nous_, and the soul by its motion
begets corporeal matter. The soul thus faces two ways--towards the
_nous_, from which it springs, and towards the material life, which is
its own product. Ethical endeavour consists in the repudiation of the
sensible; material existence is itself estrangement from God.... To
reach the ultimate goal, thought itself must be left behind; for
thought is a form of motion, and the desire of the soul is for the
motionless rest which belongs to the One. The union with transcendent
deity is not so much knowledge or vision as ecstasy, coalescence,
_contact_." Neo-Platonism is thus "first of all a system of complete
rationalism; it is assumed, in other words, that reason is capable of
mapping out the whole system of things. But, inasmuch as a God is
affirmed beyond reason, the mysticism becomes in a sense the necessary
complement of the would-be all-embracing rationalism. The system
culminates in a mystical act."

[15] _Iamblichus_, as _ante_, p. 73.

[16] _Ibid_, pp. 55, 56.

[17] _Ibid_, pp. 118, 119.

[18] _Ibid_, p. 118, 119.

[19] _Ibid_, pp. 95, 100.

[20] _Ibid_, p. 101.

[21] _Ibid_, p. 330.

[22] G. R. S. Mead. _Plotinus_, p. 42.

[23] _Iamblichus_, p. 364, note on p. 134.

[24] G. R. S. Mead. _Orpheus_, pp. 285, 286.

[25] _Iamblichus_, p. 364, note on p. 134.

[26] _Iamblichus_, p. 285, _et seq._

[27] G. R. S. Mead. _Orpheus_, p. 59.

[28] _Ibid_, p. 30.

[29] _Ibid_, pp. 263, 271.

[30] G. R. S. Mead. _Plotinus_, p. 20.

[31] _Shvetâshvataropanishat_, vi., 22.

[32] _Kathopanishat_, iii., 14.

[33] I. Cor. xiii. 1.

[34] _Kathopanishat_, vi. 17.

[35] _Mundakopanishat_, II., ii. 9.

[36] _Ibid_., III., i. 3.

[37] I Sam. xix. 20.

[38] II. Kings ii. 2, 5.

[39] Under "School."

[40] Dr. Wynn Westcott. _Sepher Yetzirah_, p. 9.

[41] S. Mark iv. 10, 11, 33, 34. See also S. Matt. xiii. 11, 34, 36,
and S. Luke viii. 10.

[42] S. John xvi. 12.

[43] Acts i. 3.

[44] _Loc. cit._ Trans. by G. R. S. Mead. I. i. 1.

[45] S. Matt. vii. 6.

[46] As to the Greek woman: "It is not meet to take the children's
bread, and to cast it unto the dogs."--S. Mark vii. 27.

[47] S. Luke xiii. 23, 24.

[48] S. Matt. vii. 13, 14.

[49] _Kathopanishat_ II. iv. 10, 11.

[50] _Brihadâranyakopanishat_. IV. iv. 7.

[51] Rev. vii. 9.

[52] _Bahgavad Gîtâ_, vii. 3.

[53] _Ante_, p. 26.

[54] It must be remembered that the Jews believed that all imperfect
souls returned to live again on earth.

[55] S. Matt. xix. 16-26.

[56] S. John xvii. 3.

[57] Heb. ix. 23.

[58] S. John. iii. 3, 5.

[59] S. Matt. iii. 11.

[60] _Ibid._ xviii. 3.

[61] S. John iii. 10.

[62] S. Matt. v. 48.

[63] _Ante_, p.24

[64] Note how this chimes in with the promise of Jesus in S. John xvi.
12-14: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear
them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide
you into all truth.... He will show you things to come.... He shall
receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."

[65] Another technical name in the Mysteries.

[66] Eph. iii. 3, 4, 9.

[67] Col i. 23, 25-28. But S. Clement, in his _Stromata_, translates
"every man," as "the whole man." See Bk. V., ch. x.

[68] Col. iv. 3.

[69] Ante-Nicene Library, Vol. XII. Clement of Alexandria. _Stromata_,
bk. V. ch. x. Some additional sayings of the Apostles will be found in
the quotations from Clement, showing what meaning they bore in the
minds of those who succeeded the apostles, and were living in the same
atmosphere of thought.

[70] I. Tim. iii. 9, 16.

[71] I. Tim. i. 18.

[72] _Ibid._, iv. 14.

[73] _Ibid._, vi. 13.

[74] _Ibid._, 20.

[75] II. Tim. i. 13, 14.

[76] _Ibid._, ii. 2.

[77] Phil. iii. 8, 10-12, 14, 15.

[78] Rev. i. 18. "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am
alive for evermore. Amen."

[79] II. Cor. v. 16.

[80] Gal. iii. 27.

[81] Gal. iv. 19.

[82] I. Cor. iv. 15.

[83] I. S. Pet. iii. 4.

[84] Eph. iv. 13.

[85] Col. i. 24.

[86] II. Cor. iv. 10.

[87] Gal. ii. 20.

[88] II. Tim. iv. 6, 8.

[89] Rev. iii. 12.

[90] Gal. iv. 22-31.

[91] I Cor. x. 1-4.

[92] Eph. v. 23-32.

[93] Vol. I. _The Martyrdom of Ignatius_, ch. iii. The translations
used are those of Clarke's Ante-Nicene Library, a most useful
compendium of Christian antiquity. The number of the volume which
stands first in the references is the number of the volume in that
Series.

[94] _Ibid. The Epistle of Polycarp_, ch. xii.

[95] _Ibid. The Epistle of Barnabas_, ch. i.

[96] _Ibid._ ch. x.

[97] _Ibid. The Martyrdom of Ignatius,_ ch. i.

[98] _Ibid. Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians_, ch. iii.

[99] _Ibid._ ch. xii.

[100] _Ibid. to the Trallians_, ch. v.

[101] _Ibid. to the Philadelphians_, ch. ix.

[102] Vol. IV. Clement of Alexandria _Stromata_, bk. I. ch. i.

[103] Vol. IV. _Stromata_, bk. I. ch. xxviii.

[104] It appears that even in those days there were some who objected
to any truth being taught secretly!

[105] _Ibid._ bk. I, ch. i.

[106] _Ibid._ bk. V., ch. iv.

[107] _Ibid._ ch. v.-viii.

[108] _Ibid._ ch. ix.

[109] _Ibid._ bk. V., ch. x.

[110] Loc. Cit. xv. 29.

[111] _Ibid._ xvi. 25, 26; the version quoted differs in words, but
not in meaning, from the English Authorised Version.

[112] _Stromata_, bk. V., ch. x.

[113] _Ibid._ bk. VI., ch. vii.

[114] _Ibid._ bk. VII., ch. xiv.

[115] _Ibid._ bk. VI., ch. xv.

[116] _Ibid._ bk. VI. x.

[117] _Ibid._ bk. VI. vii.

[118] _Ibid._ bk. I. ch. vi.

[119] _Ibid._ ch. ix.

[120] _Ibid._ bk. VI. ch. x.

[121] _Ibid._ bk. I. ch. xiii.

[122] Vol XII. _Stromata_, bk. V. ch. iv.

[123] _Ibid._ bk. VI. ch. xv.

[124] Book I. of _Against Celsus_ is found in Vol. X. of the
Ante-Nicene Library. The remaining books are in Vol. XXIII.

[125] Vol. X. _Origen against Celsus_, bk. I. ch. vii.

[126] _Ibid._

[127] Ex. xxv. 40, xxvi. 30, and compare with Heb. viii. 5, and ix.
25.

[128] _Origen against Celsus_, bk. IV. ch. xvi.

[129] _Ibid._ bk. III. ch. lix.

[130] _Ibid._ ch. lxi.

[131] _Ibid._ ch. lxii.

[132] _Ibid._, ch. lx.

[133] Vol. XXIII. _Origen against Celsus_, bk. V. ch. xxv.

[134] _Ibid._ ch. xxviii.

[135] _Ibid._ ch. xxix.

[136] _Ibid._ ch. xx xi.

[137] _Ibid._ ch. xxxii.

[138] _Ibid._ ch. xlv.

[139] _Ibid._ ch. xlvi.

[140] _Ibid._ chs. xlvii.-liv.

[141] _Ibid._ ch. lxxiv.

[142] _Ibid._ bk. IV., ch. xxxix.

[143] Vol. X. _Origen against Celsus_, bk. I., ch. xvii, and others.

[144] _Ibid._ ch. xlii.

[145] Vol. X. _De Principiis_, Preface, p. 8.

[146] _Ibid._ ch. i.

[147] S. John xiv. 18-20.

[148] _Loc. cit._ ch. i. sec. III. p. 55.

[149] _Ibid._ ch. I. Sec. III. pp. 55, 56.

[150] _Ibid._ pp. 54, 55.

[151] "Seems to have been" is a somewhat weak expression, after what
is said by Clement and Origen, of which some specimens are given in
the text.

[152] _Ibid._, p. 62.

[153] Article on "Mysticism."--_Encyc. Britan._

[154] Article "Mysticism." _Encyclopædia Britannica._

[155] _Orpheus_, pp. 53, 54.

[156] Obligation must be here acknowledged to the Article "Mysticism,"
in the _Encyc. Brit._, though that publication is by no means
responsible for the opinions expressed.

[157] _The Mysteries of Magic._ Trans. by A. E. Waite, pp. 58 and 60.

[158] II. S. Peter i. 5.

[159] Gal. iv. 19.

[160] II. Cor. v. 16.

[161] S. John i. 14.

[162] S. John i. 32.

[163] S. Matt. iii. 17.

[164] _Ibid._ iv. 17.

[165] I. Tim. iii. 16.

[166] S. John x. 34-36.

[167] S. John xiv. 18, 19.

[168] Valentinus. Trans. by G. R. S. Mead. _Pistis Sophia_, bk. i., I.

[169] _Ante_, p. 72.

[170] _Ibid._ 60.

[171] _Ibid._ bk. ii., 218.

[172] _Ibid._ 230.

[173] _Ibid._ 357.

[174] _Ibid._ 377.

[175] Vol. II. Justin Martyr. _First Apology_, §§ liv., lxii., and
lxvi.

[176] Vol. II. Justin Martyr. _Second Apology_, § xiii.

[177] Vol. VII. Tertullian, _On Baptism_, ch. v.

[178] The student might read Plato's account of the "Cave" and its
inhabitants, remembering that Plato was an Initiate. _Republic_, Bk.
vii.

[179] Eliphas Lévi _The Mysteries of Magic_, p. 48.

[180] Bonwick. _Egyptian Belief_, p. 157. Quoted in Williamson's
_Great Law_, p. 26.

[181] The festival "Natalis Solis Invicti," the birthday of the
Invincible Sun.

[182] Williamson. _The Great Law_, pp. 40-42. Those who wish to study
this matter as one of Comparative Religion cannot do better than read
_The Great Law_, whose author is a profoundly religious man and a
Christian.

[183] _Ibid._ pp. 36, 37.

[184] _The Great Law_, p. 116.

[185] _Ibid._ p. 58.

[186] _Ibid._ p. 56.

[187] _Ibid._ pp. 120-123.

[188] See on this the opening of the Johannine Gospel, i. 1-5. The
name Logos, ascribed to the manifested God, shaping matter--"all
things were made by Him"--is Platonic, and is hence directly derived
from the Mysteries; ages before Plato, Vâk, Voice, derived from the
same source, was used among Hindus.

[189] See _Ante_, pp. 124.

[190] See _Ante_, pp. 93-94.

[191] See _Ante_, p. 85.

[192] II. Cor. iv. 18.

[193] II. Cor. v. 7.

[194] Heb. v. 14.

[195] S. Luke xv. 16.

[196] _Ibid._ xiv. 26.

[197] S. Matt. v. 28.

[198] Heb. xi. 27.

[199] S. Matt v. 45.

[200] S. Luke ix. 49, 50.

[201] S. Matt xvii. 20.

[202] II. Cor. vi. 8-10.

[203] Col. iii. 1.

[204] S. Matt. v. 8, and S. John xvii. 21.

[205] Gen. i. 2.

[206] S. John i. 3.

[207] _The Christian Creed_, p. 29. This is a most valuable and
fascinating little book, on the mystical meaning of the creeds.

[208] _Ibid._ p. 42.

[209] A name of the Holy Ghost.

[210] _Ibid._ p. 43.

[211] _Ante_, p. 124.

[212] S. Matt. xviii. 3.

[213] 2 S. Peter iii. 15, 16.

[214] A. Besant. _Essay on the Atonement._

[215] _Ibid._

[216] _Brihadâranyakopanishat_, I. i. 1.

[217] _Bhagavad Gîtâ_, iii. 10.

[218] _Brihadâranyakopanishat_, I. ii. 7.

[219] _Mundakopanishat_, II. ii. 10.

[220] Haug. _Essays on the Parsîs_, pp. 12-14.

[221] Rev. xiii. 8.

[222] W. Williamson. _The Great Law_, p. 406.

[223] A. Besant. _Nineteenth Century_, June, 1895, "The Atonement."

[224] Heb. i. 5.

[225] _Ibid._, 2.

[226] C.W. Leadbeater. _The Christian Creed_, pp. 54-56.

[227] _Ibid._ pp. 56, 57.

[228] S. Matt. xxv. 21, 23, 31-45.

[229] Is. liii. 11.

[230] S. Matt. xvi. 25.

[231] S. John xii. 25.

[232] Heb. vii. 16.

[233] _Light on the Path_, § 8.

[234] Heb. vii. 25.

[235] Heb. v. 8, 9.

[236] I Tim. iii. 16.

[237] Annie Besant. _Theosophical Review_, Dec., 1898, pp. 344, 345.

[238] C. W. Leadbeater. _The Christian Creed_, pp. 61, 62.

[239] I Cor. xv. 44.

[240] I Thess. v. 23.

[241] See Chapter IX., "The Trinity."

[242] See _Ante_, pp. 84, 99, 100.

[243] 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4.

[244] S. Matt. v. 48.

[245] S. John xvii. 22, 23.

[246] 2 Cor. v. 1.

[247] 1 Cor. xv. 28.

[248] This mistranslation was a very natural one, as the translation
was made in the seventeenth century, and all idea of the pre-existence
of the soul and of its evolution had long faded out of Christendom,
save in the teachings of a few sects regarded as heretical and
persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church.

[249] S. John iii. 13.

[250] Heb. v. 9.

[251] Rev. i. 18.

[252] H. P. Blavatsky. _The Voice of the Silence_, p. 90, 5th Edition.

[253] S. John. xvii. 5.

[254] 1 Cor. xv. 20.

[255] _Chhândogyopanishat_, VI. ii., 1.

[256] Deut. vi. 4.

[257] 1 Cor. viii. 6.

[258] An error: En, or Ain, Soph is not one of the Trinity, but the
One Existence, manifested in the Three; nor is Kadmon, or Adam Kadmon,
one Sephira, but their totality.

[259] Quoted in Williamson's _The Great Law_, pp. 201, 202.

[260] H. H. Milman. _The History of Christianity_, 1867, pp. 70-72.

[261] _Asiatic Researches_, i. 285.

[262] S. Sharpe. _Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christology_, p. 14.

[263] See Williamson's _The Great Law_, p. 196.

[264] _Loc. Cit._, pp. 208, 209.

[265] S. John i. 3.

[266] Jer. li. 15.

[267] See _Ante_, pp. 179-180.

[268] Athanasian Creed.

[269] Rev. iv. 8.

[270] S. Luke. i. 38.

[271] _Ibid_, 35.

[272] Book of Wisdom, viii. 1.

[273] Vol. IV. Ante-Nicene Library. S. Clement of Alexandria.
_Stromata_, bk. V., ch. ii.

[274] See _Ante_, p. 262.

[275] See _Ante_, p. 207.

[276] Gen. i. 1.

[277] Job xxxviii. 4; Zech. xii. 1; &c.

[278] Gen. i. 2.

[279] Gen. i. 2.

[280] See _Ante_, p. 262.

[281] See _Ante_, p. 262.

[282] S. John i. 3.

[283] _Bhagavad Gîtâ_ ix. 4.

[284] 1 Cor. xv. 27, 28.

[285] S. John xiv. 6. See also the further meaning of this text on p.
272.

[286] Heb. xii. 9.

[287] Numb. xvi. 22.

[288] Gen. i. 26.

[289] S. Matt. v. 48.

[290] S. John xvii. 5.

[291] S. John v. 26.

[292] S. Matt. i. 22.

[293] Heb. ii. 18.

[294] Much of this chapter has already appeared in an earlier work by
the author, entitled, _Some Problems of Life_.

[295] S. James i. 17.

[296] Gen. xxviii. 12, 13.

[297] See Chapter xii.

[298] Heb. i. 14.

[299] S. Matt. x. 29.

[300] Acts xvii. 28.

[301] T. H. Huxley. _Essays on some Controverted Questions_, p. 36.

[302] S. Luke xxii. 41, 43.

[303] S. John i. 11.

[304] Rev. iii. 20.

[305] H. P. Blavatsky. _Key to Theosophy_, p. 10.

[306] Is. xxxiii. 17.

[307] _On the Mysteries_, sec. v. ch. 26.

[308] Ps. xl. 7, 8, Prayer Book version.

[309] S. Luke, v. 18-26.

[310] _Ibid._ vii. 47.

[311] G. R. S. Mead, translated. _Loc. cit._, bk. ii., §§ 260, 261.

[312] _Ibid._ §§ 299, 300.

[313] S. Matt. xii. 36.

[314] _Ibid._ ix. 2.

[315] _Loc. cit._ iii. 9.

[316] _Ibid._ vi. 43.

[317] _Ibid._ ix. 30.

[318] See _ante_, Chap. VIII.

[319] This is the cause of the sweetness and patience often noticed in
the sick who are of very pure nature. They have learned the lesson of
suffering, and they do not make fresh evil karma by impatience under
the result of past bad karma, then exhausting itself.

[320] S. Luke, vii. 48, 50.

[321] _Loc. cit._, ix. 31.

[322] S. Matt. vii. 1.

[323] _Loc. cit._, bk. ii. § 305.

[324] Rev. iii. 20.

[325] G. Bruno, trans. by L. Williams. _The Heroic Enthusiasts_, vol.
i., p. 133.

[326] _Ibid._, vol. ii., pp. 27, 28.

[327] _Ibid._, pp. 102, 103.

[328] Rev. iv. 5.

[329] The phrase "force and matter" is used as it is so well-known in
science. But force is one of the properties of matter, the one
mentioned as Motion. See _Ante_, p. 264.

[330] Job xxxviii. 7.

[331] See on forms created by musical notes any scientific book on
Sound, and also Mrs. Watts-Hughes' illustrated book on _Voice
Figures_.

[332] See _ante_, p. 138 and p. 302.

[333] In the Sacrament of Penance the ashes are now usually omitted,
except on special occasions, but none the less they form part of the
rite.

[334] See _ante_ p. 329.

[335] _Christian Records_, p. 129.

[336] _The Great Law_, pp. 161-166.

[337] See _ante_, p. 151.

[338] _Diegesis_, p. 219.

[339] 1 Pet. iii. 4.

[340] 2 Kings vi. 17.

[341] 1 Cor. x. 16.

[342] Jer. xliv.

[343] Gen. xiv. 18, 19.

[344] _The Great Law_, pp. 177-181, 185.

[345] Lev. xvii. 11.

[346] Rom. xii. 1.

[347] Isaiah liv. 5; lxii. 5.

[348] Eph. v. 23-32.

[349] Athanasian Creed.

[350] 2 Pet. i. 20.

[351] 1 See _ante_, p. 102.

[352] 2 Cor. iii. 6.

[353] 1 Cor. ii. 11, 13.

[354] Is. vi. 6, 7.

[355] S. John v. 4.


       *       *       *       *       *

WILLIAM BYLES & SONS, PRINTERS, BRADFORD.





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