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(p. 16)



            “ALL the mistakes made by Orthodoxy in respect of Biblical interpretation come of referring statements of which the intention is spiritual and mystical, implying principles, processes, and states belonging to the soul, to persons, events, and things belonging to the body.”

            Similarly, all the objections made by Agnosticism and Materialism to revelation, miracles, divine incarnation, immortality, the reality and accessibility of the spiritual world, and other tenets of religion, come of ignorance of the true substance of existence, and the consequent substitution of matter for that substance.

            From this it follows that to a true conception of the nature of substance these tenets, rightly apprehended, represent facts founded in the nature of existence, and bound, therefore, under due conditions, to find demonstration in existence.

            To speak, then, of substance is to speak of that on which the whole system of Biblical cosmology, anthropology, and theology, and therefore of creation and redemption, turns. Hence, the exposition of it must, of necessity, form a prominent element in these chapters. But as a prior sketch of the rival doctrine at present in possession, its character and the methods of its partisans, will conduce to a better appreciation of that which has to be said about it – if only by exposing the fallacies at present prevalent – some remarks will first be made on that head.

            Now, not even professed Materialists claim to know the nature either of matter or of the force by which it is actuated and evolution caused. Nay, in their ignorance, they are to be found straying so far from reason as to confound matter with that force, making the two things, force and substance, one and the same! They are, nevertheless, wont, on the strength of their assumption

(p. 17)

respecting matter, to deny positively the possibility of experiences such as are claimed by those who possess experiential knowledge of the nature of substance. This is to say that, while recognising evolution as the method of nature, and admitting their total ignorance both of the force by which, and of the substance in which, evolution occurs, they presume to assign limits to evolution! And so far from maintaining that true and only scientific attitude of mind which, while it makes experience the basis of conclusion, holds opinion in suspense until the advent of experience, they have constructed their hypothesis first, and forthwith proceeded to reject, off-hand and prior to examination, all testimony to facts which they are unable to reconcile with their hypothesis, to the stultification of their pretensions to represent an experiential science. And not only have they, by thus asserting “positively respecting that which they do not know positively, recklessly exposed themselves to the risk of false speaking”; but, by bringing, as they have done, the charge of madness against all who claim to be in receipt of experiences incompatible with their narrow hypothesis, they have rendered freedom of expression in respect of experience not merely disagreeable, but in the highest degree dangerous. Such is the spirit, at once unagnostic and unscientific, of the science, so-called, of the day, in accordance with which the very confession of experiences tending to invalidate the materialistic hypothesis is, by its medical representatives, accounted plea justificatory of a certificate of lunacy. And such have been the effects of this practice that it is impossible to assign a limit to the extent to which knowledge has been kept back through the attachment of penalties, medical, social, or legal, to the confession of faculties and experiences passing the comprehension of those whose own mental horizon is avowedly limited to the physical and physiological. Persons who have evolved a larger share than ordinary of the faculties appertaining to humanity have been forced to keep silence concerning their results, because those who were deprived – idiotes the Greeks called them – have been in power. And so it has come that, while medical science fairly

(p. 18)

enough defines madness as consisting in possession by a fixed idea which neither reason nor evidence can displace, its professors fail to see that the charge really lies against those who bring it on the grounds in question, in that they themselves have a fixed idea, which renders them inaccessible to reason and evidence on the subject, that such faculties and experiences are impossible. And, inasmuch as their incredulity rests on their own failure to have attained the consciousness of those planes in man’s nature to which such faculties and experiences belong, they are really guilty of making themselves, while in such rudimentary condition, the measure of humanity. For, as man is only man in so far as he has evolved the consciousness of all the regions of being, spiritual as well as material, which are comprised in and which constitute humanity – to attain to which is to attain to his spiritual majority and become fully man – prior to this he is but man rudimentary, and this no matter what his attainments in respect of the outer and lower planes of consciousness. By which it is evident that when the Materialist or Agnostic says positively – as with curious inconsistency such persons do say – that “we neither have nor can have any certain knowledge concerning God, the soul, and immortality,” all that is true in such statement is that as Agnostics or Materialists we cannot have it, not that we cannot have it as men; since it is precisely as men who are fully man that we have it, and we are not fully man, in the sense of having attained to the full stature of humanity, until we have it.

            In nothing does the besetting sin of the system in possession – the sin of unreasoning assumption – exhibit itself more conspicuously than in its restriction of the term “science” to the subjects exclusively of its own cognition, the physical and phenomenal, to the exclusion of the moral and spiritual. Resting as it does on the monstrous assumption that there is no science, actual or possible, of these things, such restriction is altogether arbitrary and unwarrantable. Even admitting – as Agnosticism does admit – the existence of a veil impenetrable to “science,” it forgets that the science on behalf of which such admission is made is

(p. 19)

not really science, but nescience. For, as science means knowledge, the science which does not know is not knowledge, but ignorance. Yet such is the “science,” and such are the limitations of the reasoning by which the men of the present generation have suffered themselves to be cajoled out of their inalienable birthright, the divine potentialities belonging to them in virtue of the nature of the substance of existence! (1)

            This substance the philosophy in vogue assumes to be matter, and makes evolution occurring in it the method of nature. But, inasmuch as that philosophy rejects the idea of consciousness, mind, or life inhering in matter or pre-existing organism, and recognises, moreover, no permanent ego to retain and progress by means of impressions received, it not only fails utterly to account for evolution, but makes evolution itself impossible, and only escapes from its dilemma by borrowing from Orthodoxy the device of miracle. And this in more than one respect. For, by deriving from this negative and unconscious basis – matter as defined by it – a positive universe teeming with life, consciousness, and intelligence, it first supposes the very miracle with which it taunts Orthodoxy in respect of its doctrine of creation, that of getting something out of nothing; and, next, it makes matter transcend itself. These are achievements which involve the negation of its own fundamental postulate of orderly evolution. And, yet further, while professing to be atheist, it is really theist,

(p. 20)

and even polytheist. For, by making matter self-subsistent and eternal, it virtually deifies matter, and makes of every particle of matter a separate divinity; while it posits the principles oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon as the four great gods of its pantheon, who between them built up the universe, and this after an image quite other than their own, seeing that it comprises properties and qualities which can in no wise be attributed to them. In all of which Materialism postulates a miracle transcending any imagined by Orthodoxy. For even the most sanguine theist would shrink from investing Deity with the power of self-transcension. (1)

            From these and all other defects of logic the esoteric and real doctrine of the Bible concerning substance is free. For, while it derives all things from a source amply competent for their production, it posits orderly natural evolution as the method of manifestation, and allows space for its accomplishment by according permanence to the ego. And it does this alike as regards the processes theologically termed creation and redemption, each of which it recognises as founded in the nature of existence.

            For (1) by creation it means, not the making of something out of nothing, but the making manifest of that which in itself is unmanifest. And (2) by redemption it means, not the reparation of an original defect of construction, but the completion and perfectionment of the entity concerned by means of the unfoldment and realisation of potentialities inherent in it from the beginning. And both processes – or rather both stages of the process, for it is really one and continuous – follow

(p. 21)

necessarily from the nature of the substance and of the force in and by which evolution is accomplished.

            This substance neither is nor can be matter. For the term “substance” implies that which sub-stands, or underlies, that which appears; and that which appears is not that which is, since appearance is not reality; and it is this last that is substance. Wherefore substance is necessarily spirit – such being the term to denote the immaterial. And as there is necessarily but one original substance, of which all things are modes, matter is a mode of spirit, and is definable as spirit projected into conditions and limitations and made exteriorly cognisable.

            But, being spirit, matter is capable of reverting to spirit, and tends so to revert. This tendency of matter to revert to spirit – or, stated exactly, this tendency of substance to revert from its material, manifest, and artificial condition to its spiritual, unmanifest, and normal condition – is the cause of evolution; and but for it – but for matter being a mode of something superior to itself as matter, or but for substance, when in the condition of matter, recognising itself as entitled to a superior condition – evolution would be impossible; since the impulse to evolve would be lacking.

            But evolution is not of substance itself. For, being original and self-subsistent, it is incapable of enhancement. Evolution is of the manifestation of the properties and qualities of substance in the subject-entity of the process. Being inherent, these properties and qualities must, in due course, unless arbitrarily withheld, find manifestation. And, as this occurs through evolution, evolution is the manifestation of inherency. (1)

(p. 22)

            From all which it follows that man’s potentialities depend upon the nature of the substance of which he is constituted; and, also, that until this is determined, only the sheerest presumption would venture to assign limits to his evolution. We have seen the limits assigned by the nescience of the dominant school.

            The science of the Bible assigns no limits. Its whole object is to show that the inherency of substance is divine, and, therefore, that evolution is accomplished only with the realisation of divinity. And this, not by any one special, exceptional, and abnormal personage, but by every individuation whatever of substance. For that with which the Bible, esoterically regarded, deals, is not persons, but principles; not men, but man; and this man considered, not as a material and phenomenal, but as a spiritual and substantial, being. And that which the Bible recognises as alone withholding any man from the realisation of his proper divine potentialities is his own will.

            To say which is to say that the esoteric and real doctrine of the Bible is the doctrine most of all abhorred and anathematised of Orthodoxy – the doctrine of Pantheism.




(19:1) The following utterance may be cited as a typical instance of all the sins against reason above denounced: “There is no more certain fact than that we have absolutely no knowledge of any soul apart from association with the material frame. No man of sane mind will assert that he has any recollection of anything that happened before he was born, or that he has received any authentic message from any world of spirits inhabited by the dead [sic]. The last word of science is ‘Beyond the Veil’” (Agnosticism and Immortality, p. 9, by Samuel Laing). Elsewhere the same writer says: “What we say is that we neither have nor can have any positive, exact, scientific knowledge concerning God, the soul, and immortality.” Thus does Agnosticism convict itself of incoherency, seeing that, by indulging in positive affirmation, it abandons its own position in order to usurp that of Gnosticism! – E.M.

(20:1) It is true that the foremost exponent of modern philosophic thought, Herbert Spencer, emphatically repudiates any such restriction of the capacities of the substance of existence, be that substance what it may. But he speaks for himself only, and stands nearly, if not quite, alone in such repudiation, and Materialism in its baldest form is everywhere rampant in the schools. While even he can find no better expression for substance than the “Unknowable” – a term every whit as applicable to life, mind, force, and whatever else is capable of being known only through its manifestations. – E.M.

(21:1) In a letter in the Agnostic Journal of the 5th January, 1895, Edward Maitland says: – “A Materialistic science, working with a faculty mutilate and depraved, the intellect divorced from the intuition and leagued with the sense-nature, necessarily mistakes matter for substance, and builds its system on the appearance instead of on the reality of which matter is the appearance, and hence defines evolution as the ‘integration of matter.’ Doing which, it arbitrarily restricts man to the capacities of matter as matter, and assigns limits to evolution, even to making evolution itself impossible; for, without a permanent and substantial ego, to retain and advance by means of experiences received, there can be no evolution. Whereas the truth is, as now revealed anew, and demonstrated by actual experience, that, owing to the divinity of the substance of existence, there is no limit to the unfoldment of the universe within man or without him; but, as the manifestation of a divine inherency, evolution is accomplished only by the realisation of divinity. Such is the scientific statement of the Christ doctrine as held by the Church Unfallen, and contained in the Bible, and as it will be held in the Church, now fallen, in the regeneration to be accomplished by the New Gospel of Interpretation.” – S.H.H.



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