14. EVOLUTION AND FREETHOUGHT
AS Evolutionists and Freethinkers, the Wise of Old anticipated and surpassed the science of our day. For, with them, evolution meant the unfoldment, through manifold experience, of the potentialities of the Spiritual Ego, or permanent self of the individual, which through all changes and chances persists and remembers, creating itself and its conditions according to the tendencies voluntarily encouraged by it, thus determining for itself its character and its place on the ladder of existence. By this doctrine they at once vindicated the divine justice and exonerated nature from responsibility for the qualities of her offspring. She but suffers each one to manifest itself according to the spirit it has cultivated. The form is but the expression of its qualities.
And they were Freethinkers. But not as those who in our day are wont to usurp that noblest of the titles of man, and who either do not think at all, or else exercise their thought in but one single direction, or on one single plane only of existence, and this the outermost and lowest, assuming it to be the whole. They whom we extol as true Freethinkers projected their thought in all directions, and into every sphere and mode of being: upwards and inwards, as well as downwards and outwards, to the world of substantial Idea, as well as to that of phenomenal Fact; to Spirit and reality, as well as to Matter and appearance, being everywhere impelled and sustained by their faith in and love for the divinity which they instinctively recognised as lying within and behind all existence. By such means they completed their philosophy, and attained to that supreme necessity of man rational – a perfect system of thought and rule of life – a system and rule the observance of which is to realise man's highest possible aspiration; for it is to turn existence to the best possible account in the long run. And they proved also that, duly purified and developed, man has – nay, is – in himself an organon of
knowledge, competent to attain to certitude of truth, even the highest.
For ages and ages have this system and rule been in the world; and though ofttimes ignored, suppressed, or forgotten, they have never been confuted or rivalled. And whenever they have found recognition anew, it has been through a recovery of the special faculty whereby alone is the perception of divine things. The name of this faculty is Intuition. It represents the experience of the Soul, and is therefore possible in its fulness to those alone who live as the Soul would have them live, and eschew slaughter and bloodshed as a means of sustenance or gratification.