PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
ACCORDING to classical legend, the Goddess Athena had once for votary a fair virgin named Medusa, who, becoming vain of her beauty and weary of the pure service of the maiden Goddess, introduced folly and defilement into the very sanctuary of the Temple in which she was wont to worship. Thereupon a terrible fate overtook her. The beautiful face, which had been the cause of her fall, assumed an aspect so terrible as to blight and petrify all who looked upon it; her tresses, once the chief object of her pride: were changed into vipers: and the hands which had ministered to heaven became as the talons of a bird of prey. Thus transformed into a Gorgon, she brought forth monsters, and for a time devastated the earth. At length the hero Perseus, “Son of God,” commissioned by Athena and Hermes, and armed by them with wings and sword and shield, slew the terrible creature, and smote off her venomous head. This exploit, – itself fraught with great perils, – was followed by the achievement of another not less difficult. Andromeda, daughter of the Aethiopian king, being doomed to become the prey of a dragon which long had ravaged her father’s
coasts, was already chained to a rock on the sea-shore and on the point of being devoured, when Perseus, – divinely guided to the scene of the intended sacrifice – vanquished the Dragon and delivered the princess. And, having won her love and espoused her, the son of Zeus bore her away from her father’s kingdom into heaven, to shine forever beside him, redeemed, immortal, and glorious.
names Medusa and Andromeda have a common root, and signify respectively
“guardian” or “house” of Wisdom, and “the ruler” or “helpmeet” of
to deliver the world from its blighting influence. But it is not enough that the Gorgon be slain. A task yet greater and more glorious awaits achievement. Andromeda, the Soul, the better part of Man, is on the point of being devoured outright by the baleful dragon of Negation, the agent of the lower nature, and the ravager of all the hopes of mankind. Her name, – identical with the terms in which is described the first Woman of Hebrew story, – indicates her as the helpmeet and ruler of man; her parentage denotes the origin of the Soul from the astral Fire or Aether, signified by the land of Aethiopis; the brazen fetters with which she is bound to the rock, typify the present bondage of the Divine in man to his material part; and her redemption, espousal, and exaltation by the hero Perseus, prefigure the final and crowning achievement of the Son of God, who is no other than the Spiritual Manhood, fortified and sustained by Wisdom and Thought. Of no avail against the monster which threatens to annihilate the Soul, are the old devices of terrorism, persecution, and thraldom by which the corrupt Church sought to subjugate mankind to her creed. The Deliverer of the Soul must be free as air, borne on the wings of a Thought that knows no fear and no restraint, and armed with the blade, two-edged and facing every way, of a knowledge potent alike for attack and defense. And he must be wise and free in every sense, bent, not on destruction merely, but on salvation likewise, and his sword must be as apt to smite the fetters from the limbs of Andromeda, as to deal the stroke of death to the Gorgon. It is not enough
It is thus evident that classical story, identical in substance with the allegorical prophecies of Hebrew and Christian scripture, exhibits the work of the Saviour or Liberator, as having a two-fold character. Like Zeus, the Father of Spirits, whose son he is, the Reason is at once Purifier and Redeemer. The task of Destruction accomplished, that of Reconstruction must begin. Already the first is well-nigh complete, but as yet no one seems to have dreamed of the last as possible. The present age has witnessed the decline and fall of a system which, after having successfully maintained itself for some eighteen centuries against innumerable perils of assault from without
faction from within, has at length succumbed to the combined arms of scientific
and moral criticism. But this very overthrow, this very demolition, creates a
new void, to the existence of which the present condition of the world and the
apprehensions and cravings everywhere expressed, bear ample testimony. On all
sides men are asking themselves, “Who will show us any good?” To whom or to
what, if the old system be fallen, shall we turn for counsel and salvation from
Doom? Under what roof shall we shelter ourselves if the whole
so painfully sought, this work of Reconstruction so sorely needed, are all attainable by man. The certainty of their attainment is involved in the nature itself of existence, and ratified in every expression given to the mysteries of that nature from the beginning of the world.
prime object of the present work is, then, not to demolish, but to reconstruct.
Already the needful service of destruction has been widely and amply rendered.
now time for the fulfillment of the second and last act of the prophetical
drama; – “Thus saith Cyrus,” – that is KurioV the
Lord, the Christ; – “All the kingdoms of the earth hath the God of heaven given
me, and He hath charged me to build Him again a House in
In these words is expressed the intention of the writers of this book. And if they have preferred to withhold their
names, it is neither because they distrust the genuineness of their commission or the soundness of their work, nor because they shrink from the responsibility incurred; but in order that their work may rest upon its own merits and not upon theirs, – real or supposed; – in order, that is, that it may be judged and not pre-judged one way or the other. Such reservation is in accordance with its whole tenor. For the criterion alone to which appeal is made on its behalf is the Understanding, and this on the ground that it is contrary to the nature of Truth to prevail by force of authority, or of aught other than the understanding; since Truth – how transcendent so-ever it be – has its witness in the Mind, and no other testimony can avail it. If truth be not demonstrable to mind, it is obvious that man, who is essentially mind, and the product of mind, cannot recognise or appropriate it. What is indispensable is, that appeal be made to the whole mind, and not to one department of it only.
In this book no new thing is told; but that which is ancient – so ancient that either it or its meaning has been lost – is restored and explained. But, while accepting neither the presentations of a conservative orthodoxy, nor the conclusions of a destructive criticism, its writers acknowledge the services rendered by both to the cause of Truth. For, like the Puritans, who coated with plaster and otherwise covered and hid from view the sacred images and decorations which were obnoxious to them, orthodoxy has at least preserved through the ages the symbols which contain the Truth, beneath the errors with which it has
overlaid them. And criticism, however fiercely infidel, has, by the very act of destruction, cleared the way for rebuilding. It has fulfilled the man’s function, – that of analysis, and made possible the woman’s, – that of synthesis. And this is according to the Divine order.
In both nature and method, therefore, this book is mainly, interpretative, and, consequently, reconciliatory. And it is this, not only in respect of the Hebrew, Christian, Oriental, and Classic systems in particular, but in respect also of modern thought and human experience in general. It aims at making at-one-ment between Mind and Heart by bringing together Mercy – that is, Religion – and Truth – that is, Science. It seeks to assure man that his best and most powerful friends on every plane are Liberty and Reason, as his worst enemies are Ignorance and Fear; and that until his thought is free enough and strong enough to bear him aloft to “heaven,” as well as to “the lowermost parts of the earth,” he is no true Son of Hermes, whose- typical name is Thought, and who yet is, in his supremest vocation, the Messenger and Minister of God “the Father.”