IF MAN will not himself voluntarily travel the path of redemption to Christhood, no one – not even God – can tread it for him. The way is within himself, the means are not beyond his discovery and adoption, incentive and certitude of attainment are before his eyes in the Christs who have gone before, but he must “betake
himself to no external refuge,” for he alone can work out his own salvation and win the Gift of God. Therefore the Bible, in all those passages or books which truly vindicate its claim to being the Word of God – and they form but a lamentably small proportion of the whole compilation – pictorially represents the spiritual history and adventures of man and his soul, often personating the latter as a woman, through the three great stages or cycles of Generation, Degeneration, Regeneration.
An Odyssey of the Soul
In the first period Adam and Eve, as respectively the outer earthly man and the inner spiritual man, the bodily nature and the soul, are evolved or created by God as the two halves of one whole and perfect Humanity. The second stage supervenes whenever the soul, Eve, transferring her allegiance from its proper centre, God, to the “apples” of illusion or sense, falls into the snare of the serpent of matter and drags the exterior man, Adam, with her, who thereupon is able to assume such dominion over the soul as may threaten her very existence as an individual by the loss of her Divine Spirit. But even in the destiny she thereby makes for herself the soul is not left, like the perishable Adam, without hope of restoration, for her nature is immortal and her elements divine. She shall yet, in her own rejuvenated Self and through her redeemed Offspring, crush the head of the serpent of matter and sense. And so the soul enters on that necessary and protracted process of suffering, expiation, purification, and unfoldment during manifold embodiments and intermediate states, summed up in the term Redemption or Atonement, and comprehended in the final cycle or stage of Regeneration.
Now the Bible, in that section specially devoted to the last of the three stages, deals with the
later and closing rather than with the preparatory and middle states of regeneration – although some of the Old and New Testament personages may be taken as symbolical of man and the soul partially redeemed. For the New Testament opens once more with man and his soul, but personifies the latter now as Mary, who is none other than Eve become immaculate or virgin. And she, finally and forever centering her love and will in the Love and Will of God, wedding herself indissolubly to the Holy Spirit, brings forth at last a new Humanity, a spiritual Adam, who is Christ, in and by Whom none die but all are made to live.
Iesous Chrestos, – the Perfect Yes of God
Jesus and Christ, therefore, are in their highest and deepest significance not the names of any one individual, but of many and potentially of all individuals. They stand primarily, the first for an order, school, or fraternity of Men Regenerate or made perfect through suffering, and the second for the interior principle and process whereby the perfect Love and Wisdom of God become individuated within the redeemed soul that has reached unto complete liberation. While He is a Christ, whatever His name in the world physical, who, having thus perfected His spiritual Selfhood and passed beyond all necessity for further incarnation, yet out of pure love returns to embodiment that He may demonstrate fully while in the body for all men the process whereby the Kingdom of God may be realised by and in themselves.
Thus the mystery of Divine Incarnation is simply this that God does not cease to be pure spirit, or pure spirit to be God, by becoming individualised in a human soul, even when that soul assumes to itself a human body. Therefore man is indeed “saved by the blood of Christ,” for that blood is the very life and spiritual essence
of the condition of Christ. And man is truly redeemed by “the love of Christ,” yet not by the love of a Christ Who suffers instead of him – for the utmost even a Christ can do is to suffer in and with others, and by His measureless sympathy and perfection of boundless love win them also to love – but by the love engendered in man for purity and perfection of being, which in its exercise atones for his sins and is, as Christ, God manifest in him. And if it be contended that this is to remove the personal Jesus of Bible history from the sphere of human love, the answer is that food offered unto idols may partially satisfy a primitive sense, but cannot long nourish the soul, and that self-reliance must supplement hero-worship as man’s nature develops and his consciousness expands. (1)
Worship God Only
Thus it will be seen that whatever may be the historical or personal correspondences on which such divine allegories as the Fall, the Incarnation, and the Crucifixion are constructed, it is not the historical element, however transcendental, that is of vital interest and importance to the real ego or man. What constitutes them divinely true is their applicability as principles to the soul now, at any and every stage of her evolution, in any and every individual, and in the macrocosmic no less than in the microcosmic world. The final criterion of all narratives, incidents, and statements in the Bible as vehicles of spiritual truth is: – Are they translatable by the reason into ever-occurring verities for the soul? If they
cannot be so resolved they have not the kernel of true religion within them, whatever the theologians may say of them.
(39:1) It is just this limited personal love for the man Jesus, lapsing so often from a pure emotion into a selfish idolatry, that Ecclesiasticism has set up as a barrier rather than a ladder between the man who has put away childish things and God. “All the world loves a lover” – but only because the lover reminds us of our own love for others; and so should it be with our love for the Universal Lovers, or Christs of humanity.