THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
Pagan Roots: In the Beginning
WITHOUT going very far into antiquity for comparisons, if we only stop at the fourth and fifth centuries of our era, and contrast the so-called "heathenism" of the third Neo-platonic Eclectic School with the growing Christianity, the result may not be favorable to the latter. Even at that early period, when the new religion had hardly outlined its contradictory dogmas; when the champions of the bloodthirsty Cyril knew not themselves whether Mary was to become "the Mother of God," or rank as a "demon" in company with Isis; when the memory of the meek and lowly Jesus still lingered lovingly in every Christian heart, and his words of mercy and charity vibrated still in the air, even then the Christians were outdoing the Pagans in every kind of ferocity and religious intolerance.
And if we look still farther back, and seek for examples of true Christism, in ages when Buddhism had hardly superseded Brahmanism in India, and the name of Jesus was only to be pronounced three centuries later, what do we find? Which of the holy pillars of the Church has ever elevated himself to the level of religious tolerance and noble simplicity of character of some heathen? Compare, for instance, the Hindu Asoka, who lived 300 b.c., and the Carthaginian St. Augustine, who flourished three centuries after Christ. According to Max Muller, this is what is found engraved on the rocks of Girnar, Dhauli, and Kapurdigiri:
"Piyadasi, the king beloved of the gods, desires that the ascetics of all creeds might reside in all places. All these ascetics profess alike the command which people should exercise over themselves, and the purity of the soul. But people have different opinions and different inclinations."
And here is what Augustine wrote after his baptism: "Wondrous depth of thy words! whose surface, behold! is before us, inviting to little ones; yet are they a wondrous depth! O my God, a wondrous depth! It is awful to look therein; yes . . . an awfulness of honor, and a trembling of love. Thy enemies [read Pagans] thereof I hate vehemently; Oh, that thou wouldst slay them with thy two-edged sword, that they might no longer be enemies to it; for so do I love to have them slain." (Translated by Prof. Draper.)
Wonderful spirit of Christianity; and that from a Manichean converted to the religion of one who even on his cross prayed for his enemies!
Who the enemies of the "Lord" were, according to the Christians, is not difficult to surmise, the few inside the Augustinian fold were His new children and favorites, who had supplanted in His affections the sons of Israel, His "chosen people." The rest of mankind were His natural foes. The teeming multitudes of heathendom were proper food for the flames of hell; the handful within the Church communion, "heirs of salvation."
But if such a proscriptive policy was just, and its enforcement was "sweet savor" in the nostrils of the "Lord, why not scorn also the Pagan rites and philosophy? Why draw so deep from the wells of wisdom, dug and filled up to brim by the same heathen? Or did the fathers, in their desire to imitate the chosen people whose time-worn shoes they were trying to fit upon their feet, contemplate the reenaction of the spoliation-scene of the Exodus? Did they propose, in fleeing from heathendom as the Jews did from Egypt, to carry off the valuables of its religions allegories, as the "chosen ones" did the gold and silver ornaments?
It certainly does seem as if the events of the first centuries of Christianity were but the reflection of the images thrown upon the mirror of the future at the time of the Exodus. During the stormy days of Irenaeus, the Platonic philosophy, with its mystical submersion into Deity, was not so obnoxious after all to the new doctrine as to prevent the Christians from helping themselves to its abstruse metaphysics in every way and manner. Allying themselves with the ascetical therapeutae-forefathers and models of the Christian monks and hermits, it was in Alexandria, let it be remembered, that they laid the first foundations of the purely Platonic trinitarian doctrine. It became the Plato-Philonean doctrine later, and such as we find it now. Plato considered the divine nature under a three-fold modification of the First Cause, the reason or Logos, and the soul or spirit of the universe. "The three archial or original principles," says Gibbon, "were represented in the Platonic system as three Gods, united with each other by a mysterious and effable generation." Blending this transcedental idea with the more hypostatic figure of the Logos of Philo, whose doctrine was that of the oldest Kabala, and who viewed the King Messiah, as the metatron, or "the angel of the Lord," the Legatus descended in flesh, but not the Ancient of Days Himself; the Christians clothed with this mythical representation of the Mediator for the fallen race of Adam, Jesus, the son of May. Under this unexpected garb his personality was all but lost. In the modern Jesus of the Christian Church, we find the ideal of the imaginative Irenaeus, not the adept of the Essenes, the obscure reformer from Galilee. We see him under the disfigured Plato-Philonean mask, not as the disciples heard him on the mount.
So far then the heathen philosophy had helped them in the building of the principal dogma. But when the theurgists of the third Neo-platonic school, deprived of their ancient Mysteries, strove to blend the doctrines of Plato with those of Aristotle, and by combining the two philosophies added to their theosophy the primeval doctrines of the Oriental Kabala, then the Christians from rivals became persecutors. Once that the metaphysical allegories of Plato were being prepared to be discussed in public in the form of Grecian dialectics, all the elaborate system of the Christian trinity would be unravelled and the divine prestige completely upset. The eclectic school, reversing the order, had adopted the inductive method; and this method became its death-knell. Of all things on earth, logic and reasonable explanations were the most hateful to the new religion of mystery; for they threatened to unveil the whole groundwork of the trinitarian conception; to apprise the multitude of the doctrine of emanations, and thus destroy the unity of the whole. It could not be permitted, and it was not. History records the Christ-like means that were resorted to.
The universal doctrine of emanations, adopted from time immemorial by the greatest schools which taught the kabalistic, Alexandrian, and Oriental philosophers, gives the key to that panic among the Christian fathers. That spirit of Jesuitism and clerical craft, which prompted Parkhurst, many centuries later, to suppress in his Hebrew Lexicon the true meaning of the first word of Genesis, originated in those days of war against the expiring Neo-platonic and eclectic school. The fathers had decided to pervert the meaning of the word "daimon,"1 and they dreaded above all to have the esoteric and true meaning of the word Rasit unveiled to the multitudes; for if once the true sense of this sentence, as well as that of the Hebrew word asdt (translated in the Septuagint "angels," while it means emanations),2 were understood rightly, the mystery of the Christian trinity would have crumbled, carrying in its downfall the new religion into the same heap of ruins with the ancient Mysteries. This is the true reason why dialecticians, as well as Aristotle himself, the "prying philosopher," were ever obnoxious to Christian theology. Even Luther, while on his work of reform, feeling the ground insecure under his feet, notwithstanding that the dogmas had been reduced by him to their simplest expression, gave full vent to his fear and hatred for Aristotle. The amount of abuse he heaped upon the memory of the great logician can only be equalled-never surpassed-by the Pope's anathemas and invectives against the liberals of the Italian government. Together, they might easily fill a copy of a new encyclopedia with models for monkish diatribes.
Of course the Christian clergy can never get reconciled with a doctrine based on the application of strict logic to discursive reasoning. The number of those who have abandoned theology on this account has never been made known. They have asked questions and been forbidden to ask them; hence, separation, disgust, and often a despairing plunge into the abyss of atheism. The Orphean views of ether as chief medium between God and created matter were likewise denounced. The Orphic AEther recalled too vividly the Archeus, the Soul of the World, and the latter was in its metaphysical sense as closely related to the emanations, being the first manifestation-Sephira, or Divine Light. And when could the latter be more feared than at that critical moment?
Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, Chalcidius, Methodius, and Maimonides, on the authority of the Targum of Jerusalem, the orthodox and greatest authority of the Jews, held that the first two words in the book of Genesis-b-rasit, mean Wisdom, or the Principle. And that the idea of these words meaning "in the beginning" was never shared but by the profane, who were not allowed to penetrate any deeper into the esoteric sense of the sentence. Beausobre, and after him Godfrey Higgins, have demonstrated the fact. "All things," says the Kabala, "are derived from one great Principle, and this principle is the unknown and invisible God." From Him a substantial power immediately proceeds, which is the image of God, and the source of all subsequent emanations. This second principle sends forth, by the energy (or will and force) of emanation, other natures, which are more or less perfect, according to their different degrees of distance, in the scale of emanation, from the First Source of existence, and which constitute different worlds, or orders of being, all united to the eternal power from which they proceed. Matter is nothing more than the most remote effect of the emanative energy of the Deity. The material world receives its form from the immediate agency of powers far beneath the First Source of Being ... Beausobre makes St. Augustine the Manichean say thus: 'And if by Rasit we understand the active Principle of the creation, instead of its beginning, in such a case we will clearly perceive that Moses never meant to say that heaven and earth were the first works of God. He only said that God created heaven and earth through the Principle, who is His Son. It is not the time he points to, but to the immediate author of the creation.' Angels, according to Augustine, were created before the firmament, and according to the esoteric interpretation, the heaven and earth were created after that, evolving from the second Principle or the Logos-the creative Deity. "The word principle," says Beausobre, "does not mean that the heaven and earth were created before anything else, for, to begin with, the angels were created before that; but that God did everything through His Wisdom, which is His Verbum, and which the Christian Bible named the Beginning," thus adopting the exoteric meaning of the word abandoned to the multitudes. The Kabala-the Oriental as well as the Jewish-shows that a number of emanations (the Jewish Sephiroth) issued from the First Principle, the chief of which was Wisdom. This Wisdom is the Logos of Philo, and Michael, the chief of the Gnostic Eons; it is the Ormazd of the Persians; Minerva, goddess of wisdom, of the Greeks, who emanated from the head of Jupiter; and the second Person of the Christian Trinity. The early Fathers of the Church had not much to exert their imagination; they found a ready-made doctrine that had existed in every theogony for thousands of years before the Christian era. Their trinity is but the trio of Sephiroth, the first three kabalistic lights of which Moses Nachmanides says, that "they have never been seen by any one; there is not any defect in them, nor any disunion."
The first eternal number is the Father, or the Chaldean primeval, invisible, and incomprehensible chaos, out of which proceeded the Intelligible one. The Egyptian Phtah, or "the Principle of Light-not the light itself, and the Principle of Life, though himself no life." The Wisdom by which the Father created the heavens is the Son, or the kabalistic androgynous Adam Kadmon. The Son is at once the male Ra, or Light of Wisdom, Prudence or Intelligence, Sephira, the female part of Himself; while from this dual being proceeds the third emanation, the Binah or Reason, the second Intelligence-the Holy Ghost of the Christians. Strictly speaking, there is a Tetrakis or quaternary, consisting of the Unintelligible First monad, and its triple emanation, which properly constitute our Trinity.
How then avoid perceiving at once, that had not the Christians purposely disfigured in their interpretation and translation the Mosaic Genesis to fit their own views, their religion. with its present dogmas, would have been impossible? The word Rasit, once taught in its new sense of the Principle and not the Beginning, and the anathematized doctrine of emanations accepted, the position of the second trinitarian personage becomes untenable. For, if the angels are the first divine emanations from the Divine Substance, and were in existence before the Second Principle, then the anthropomorphized Son is at best an emanation like themselves, and cannot be God hypostatically any more than our visible works are ourselves. That these metaphysical subtleties never entered into the head of the honest-minded, sincere Paul, is evident; as it is furthermore evident, that like all learned Jews he was well acquainted with the doctrine of emanations and never thought of corrupting it. How can any one imagine that Paul identified the Son with the Father, when he tells us that God made Jesus a little lower than the angels" (Hebrews ii. 9), and a little higher than Moses! "For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses" (Heb. 3:3). Of whatever, or how many forgeries, interlined later in the Acts, the Fathers are guilty we know not; but that Paul never considered Christ more than a man "full of the Spirit of God" is but too evident: "In the arche was the Logos, and the Logos was adnate to the Theos."
Wisdom, the first emanation of En-Soph; the Protogonos, the Hypostasis; the Adam Kadmon of the kabalist, the Brahma of the Hindu; the Logos of Plato, and the "Beginning" of St. John is the Rasit of the Book of Genesis. If rightly interpreted it overturns, as we have remarked, the whole elaborate system of Christian theology, for it proves that behind the creative Deity, there was a higher god: a planner, an architect; and that the former was but His executive agent-a simple power!
They persecuted the Gnostics, murdered the philosophers, and burned the kabalists and the masons; and when the day of the great reckoning arrives, and the light shines in darkness, what will they have to offer in the place of the departed, expired religion? What will they answer, these pretended monotheists, these worshippers and pseudo-servants of the one living God, to their Creator? How will they account for this long persecution of them who were the true followers of the Grand Megalistor, the supreme great master of the Rosicrucians, the first of masons? "For he is the Builder and Architect of the Temple of the universe; He is the Verbum Scipienti."3
"Every one knows," wrote the great Manichean of the third century, Fauste, "that the Evangeliums were written neither by Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, but long after their time by some unknown persons, who, judging well that they would hardly be believed when telling of things they had not seen themselves, headed their narratives with the names of the apostles or of disciples contemporaneous with the latter."
Commenting upon the subject, A. Franck, the learned Hebrew scholar of the Institute and translator of the Kabala, expresses the same idea. "Are we not authorized," he asks, "to view the Kabala as a precious remnant of religious philosophy of the Orient, which, transported into Alexandria, got mixed to the doctrine of Plato, and under the usurped name of Dionysius the Areopagite, bishop of Athens, converted and consecrated by St. Paul, was thus enabled to penetrate into the mysticism of the medieval ages?"
Says Jacolliot: "What is then this religious philosophy of the Orient, which has penetrated into the mystic symbolism of Christianity? We answer: This philosophy, the traces of which we find among the Magicians, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, the Hebrew kabalists and the Christians, is none other than that of the Hindu Brahmans, the sectarians of the pitris, or the spirits of the invisible worlds which surround us."
Note.--"The Christian Scheme," collated chiefly from the works of H. P. Blavatsky, recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
1 "The beings which the philosophers of other peoples distinguish by the name "Daemons,' Moses names 'Angels'," says Philo Judaeus.
2 Deut. 33:2, asdt is translated "fiery law."
3 "The altogether mystical coloring of Christianity harmonized with the Essene rules of life and opinions, and it is not improbable that Jesus and John Baptist were initiated into the Essene Mysteries, to which Christianity may be indebted for many a form of expression; as indeed the community of Therapeutae, an offspring of the Essene order, soon belonged wholly to Christianity" (Yost i, 411-quoted by the author of Sod, the son of the Man).