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(p. 31)



            AS in the story of the Creation so in the story of the Flood, the theme is, first and foremost, the spiritual elaboration of man, and only subordinately, generally, and by correspondence, has it any physical import; and the only sense in which it is intended historically is that in which it relates to cataclysms occurring in the spiritual history of the race. For it tells how, when the soul of man, whether individual or collective, has become so deep sunk in materiality as to have lost the consciousness of its true nature, and spiritual “darkness is on the face of the deep” of man’s mind, and “the wickedness of man is great on the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually,” then “the spirit of God moves on the face of the waters” of God, as individuated in man, and forthwith the ark of human nature, with its three divisions, “lower, middle, and upper” – or physical, intellectual, and spiritual – containing its four principles, the spirit, the soul, the mind, and the body, denoted by Noah and his three sons, together with its gifts and graces, affections and appetites, symbolised by the animals, and actuated by the “eight persons,” God and the seven spirits of God, is upborne on a flood of intuition – the soul’s awakened perceptions and recollections – above “all the high hills that are under the heaven” – the hills of man’s intellectual self-conceit, which, be they high as they may, can in no wise reach to Heaven or the spiritual, as the Babel-builders, or constructors of materialistic systems, in all ages find – to be at length deposited safe on the summit of spiritual attainment, Ararat – a term identical with Arahat, the Hindu name for the adept in spiritual science – while all that is vile and base in man is overwhelmed and destroyed, and humanity, “regenerate of water and the spirit,” is made a “new creature.” And

(p. 32)

thenceforth the “bow” – symbol of the “seven spirits of God” – is “set in the clouds of the heaven” of man’s soul, reminding him ever of God’s immanence in the world, and, so long as it is discerned, rendering another such “flood” unnecessary; since no more then are the “sons of God,” or man intuitional and spiritual, liable to become enamoured of the “daughters of men,” or things intellectual merely and material.

            Thus does the story of the Flood, like that of Creation, when duly read from its mystical and proper standpoint, disclose itself as no physical monstrosity, but as a spiritual verity everlastingly true of the human soul so long as by reason of its association with matter it is subject to alternations of obscuration and illumination. No history, then, is it but a prophecy – or utterance of the things of the soul – and this a prophecy which, in our day, is finding fulfilment on a scale which bids fair to surpass all previous experience. For, just as the depth of materiality to which the world has now sunk is lower than any hitherto reached, so does the flood of intuition on which it is now being upborne promise to land it on heights transcending any hitherto reached, to the complete submergence and destruction of all that, being inveterately materialistic, is incapable of redemption. Meanwhile the high priests of a materialistic science, instead of “ploughing with the heifer” of the spiritual consciousness, cling to the paths of the Orthodox literalism, and, unable to read the riddle of the times, or the allegories of the Creation and the Flood, ignore the former and denounce the latter as “lies.” (1)

            In illustration of the wealth of spiritual allusion buried in these symbols, for such indeed they are, it must suffice here to lift a corner of the veil of the mysteries concealed under one of the personages of the latter. In Ham, for example, who stands for the bodily nature, we find illustrated the body’s function

(p. 33)

as the manifestor of the spirit, and its incapacity to appreciate spiritual mysteries, by his exposure of the person of his father, Noah, who stands at once for the spirit and for the mysteries of the spirit; while his other sons, Shem and Japhet, who stand for the soul and the mind, which are themselves unmanifest, reverence and veil the spirit and its mysteries. The curse pronounced on Canaan, the “son” of Ham: “A servant of servants shall he be to his brethren,” implies the body’s subordination to its superior fellow principles in man. And while Ham’s name is identical with Cham or Khemi, the genius of Egypt – also a symbol of the body – who represents the principle of physical generation, and is the root of the words “Alchemy” and “Chemistry,” so called in token of the transmutatory or generative properties of matter; his son Canaan, which signifies low-lying lands, is the continuator of Cain, the “tiller of the ground” or lower nature, and gives his name to the Canaanites, or lower appetites and propensities, which Israel, as the soul bent on spiritual perfection, must subdue and eradicate before he can inherit the “promised land” of his quest.

            Passing on to the culminating instance given in the Bible of the spirit or energy of God moving upon the waters, or substance, of God, the scene of action becomes an individual soul, who, having crushed in herself the head of the serpent of the sense-nature, is no longer “Eve” and subject to materiality, and competent to be “mother” only of man degenerate; but who, purified from the “original sin” of materiality, has reversed in herself the fall, and, representing the ‘‘waters” of substance restored to its divine because pure condition, is called in consequence Virgin Maria, and qualified to be “mother” of man regenerate. Not of his physical part – the mystic Scriptures deal not with material things, but with spiritual realities – but of his substantial selfhood, the inner and spiritual man, the esoteric Christ or “Christ within,” who, as the immediate product of pure spirit operating in a pure soul, and constituted of their life and substance – the “blood” and the “water” of the pierced Christ – is himself purely spiritual, and is truly said to have for

(p. 34)

his parents the Holy Ghost and Virgin Maria; and who, being thus divinely engendered in man as matrix, is “son” at once of God and of man, and is God-man. And that he is called Christ (1) is because he is suffused or “anointed,” not of any physical ointment, but of the “oil” of divinity, even pure spirit, which is poured out upon him without measure. And that he is called Jesus (1) is because Jesus signifies Liberator, and in and by this new selfhood within him the man is liberated at once from the limitations of matter and from liability for his past shortcomings. This is the only sense in which the term “vicarious” is applicable. The “old man” has disappeared in the new, and the new is sinless.

            This, then, and no other, is the doctrine of divine incarnation as set forth in the Bible. Whenever and wherever there is a pure spirit in a pure soul – and only in a pure soul can such spirit subsist – there is God individuated. And whenever and whenever such soul and spirit are in a human body, there is God incarnated. For spirit is not the less God because individuated

(p. 35)

in a human soul, or because, when thus individuated, such soul is invested with a human body. But always is it the interior spiritual selfhood that is thus engendered, and is the “son” to the “Father-Mother” in the Trinity of the manifest. Concerning the parentage of the physical selfhood of Jesus, the human vehicle of the Christ, the Gospels are silent.

            As if expressly to leave no doubt on the subject for those who care to know, and to deprive Orthodoxy of any excuse for the distortion or suppression of a doctrine so simple, logical, and obvious, the Gospels represent their typical man regenerate as himself explaining it to a representative of the Orthodoxy of his time, whose ignorance of it elicited from Jesus the exclamation – no less appropriate to the corresponding class now – “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things!” For, in saying to Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again of water and the spirit,” Jesus declared the necessity to every person, as the sole condition and means of salvation, of being “born” precisely as he himself is said to have been born, of “Virgin Mary” and “Holy Ghost,” these terms implying the two constituent principles, substance and energy, or soul and spirit, of the individual himself, restored to their original divine condition of purity. From which it follows that to deny the “divinity of Jesus Christ,” and therein the doctrine of divine incarnation, is to deny to man the possibility of his having a pure soul and spirit, and to Deity the power of self-individuation; to deny either of which is to place an arbitrary limit to evolution, to cut man off from the realisation of his proper perfection, and – by making parent and offspring of diverse substance – to interpose an impassable barrier between God and man (1). Now,

(p. 36)

whatever may be the doctrine of modern science, that of the Bible recognises first and foremost the doctrine of Heredity; and in virtue of this doctrine it represents man as made at once in the image of his primary progenitor, God, and of his intermediary progenitors, the four elements and the solar system; whereof his body, mind, soul, and spirit correspond in the one to earth, fire, water, and air, and in the other to the spheres planetary, atmospheric, ethereal and solar. And the reasons why any man fails to discern the two higher are, first, because his attention is riveted so exclusively on the outer and lower that he never looks inwards and upwards; and, next, because, through the grossness of his life and thought, his mental atmosphere is so thick laden with the exhalations arising from below as to obscure and shut out from view the clear heaven above of his soul and the sun of his divine spirit. These are none the less there and perceptible, notwithstanding his inability to discern them. For there is no really invisible world. But, in order to do this, it is above all things necessary that he be a Freethinker; not as this noblest of all the titles of man has come to be regarded. They who have usurped it are, for the most part, scarcely even thinkers; least of all are they free thinkers. To think freely is to suffer thought to range equally in all directions open to thought, not merely outwards and downwards to matter and negation, but also inwards and upwards to spirit and reality. Only by ascending thither can man complete the system of his thought and attain to certitude of truth; for only there is to be found the substantial idea which interprets the phenomenal fact. For the idea is of the spirit, and is spirit.

            Now, of the heavens within man there are three degrees – purity of life, purity of heart, and purity of thought. And in such degree as man attains thereto he “sees God.”




(32:1) Sic Professor Huxley, Nineteenth Century, July, 1890. He is, however, fairly entitled to plead in extenuation the provocation received from the Orthodox persistence in unreasoning literalism of his opponent, Mr. Gladstone. – E.M.

(34:1) In the letter dated 19th September, 1891, referred to in the preface to this edition, Mr. Maitland says that, what he undertook to do in this series of articles was, “not to propose a substitute for the term ‘Christ,’ nor to enter on the question of the historical personality of Jesus, but to expound the philosophic conception intended by the former, and its illustration by the character assigned to the latter. That the rejection of either because ‘hackneyed,’ ‘prostituted,’ or ‘stale,’ would have been wholly incompatible with the vindication and rehabilitation undertaken by me, which comprised the terms as well as the doctrines concerned, all of which alike have been the victims of misrepresentation.” And in a letter (the original MS. of which is in my possession) sent on the 22nd September, 1891, for publication in the Agnostic Journal, Edward Maitland, in reply to a critic, says: – “that to deal with ‘Occultism’ or, as I prefer to call it, ‘Mysticism,’ while ignoring ‘Jesus,’ ‘Christ’ and ‘the old clothes’ of the Bible, would be tantamount to omitting Hamlet from the play of Hamlet, and the inner chambers and top corner-stone from the great pyramid. For those who know – a category from which your profession of Agnosticism excludes you, positive though your language is apt to be – the Bible is the very prince of occult books, and that which is meant by ‘Christ’ is its crowning mystery.” – S.H.H.

(35:1) The above definition of divine incarnation entirely disposes of the objection to it contained in the following utterance of one of the most thoughtful and sincere of the Agnostic writers of the day: “The high purpose of scepticism is to winnow out of the human mind all such beliefs as prevent its expansion and progress. Among these are the doctrines of a personal God, of miracles, the divinity of Jesus Christ, of the infallibility of the Bible, of heaven and hell.” (The Noble Path, by F.J. Gould, being Nº. V of “Stepping-Stones to Agnosticism”.) – E.M.



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