The Mystery of the Ages

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The Mystery of the Ages




When Hero, the tyrant of Syracuse, once proposed to the philosopher Simonides the question : What is God? the latter desired a day to consider it. Being asked the same question the next day, he desired two days for that purpose, and thus from time to time doubled the number. Hero, being greatly surprised at this, inquired the reason of his conduct. "Because," said Simonides, "the longer I consider the subject, the more obscure it seems to be."

"Should you now ask of me this same question," says Cicero, in his dissertation De Natura Deorum, ' On the Nature of the Gods,' " I will reply to you as Simonides did to the tyrant of Syracuse ; and I am disposed to believe," he continues, " that Simonides, who was not only an excellent poet, but also was neither wanting in erudition nor in good sense, after his mind had followed opinion after opinion, one more subtle than the other, without being able to discern which were true, finally lost all hope of finding Truth."

Thus far the learned of old. Uninspired reason, it would appear, cannot attain to a knowledge of the • Divine; and if this was the state of mind of the great Roman orator when he wrote his treatise On the Natur4 of the Gods, well might an average Roman of that period exclaim: What is Truth? while Truth incarnate stood before him.

To ask what is Truth is but to ask what is God; for God is the essence of Truth, and Truth is the essence of God. The knowledge of truth is therefore the knowledge of God, even as the knowledge of God must he a knowledge of the Divine and omnipotent Truth that sustains the Universe. Truth-knowledge and God-knowledge must be identical, for it is impossible to conceive a truth opposed to the Divine All-Truth, even as it is inconceivable that God could be opposed to our knowledge of a Truth whereto our Soul urges us to seek. Truth and God being one, the knowledge of that Truth which is God and of God, who is the Truth, is the Divine Wisdom of the. Ages, and the Religion connected therewith is the Religion of Wisdom.

This Esoteric Wisdom, ever jealously guarded by Initiates, the writer, by a course of studies which became both a consolation and a recreation, bas been able to trace in most Religions, and herewith presents the results of those investigations in a collected form. Although these studies cannot equal the researches of a man who can devote his life to the subject, yet being thus far in the favoured position of having had all kinds of views providentially presented, it is thought that at least a one-sided exposition has been avoided, and the reader will get a truly catholic-that is, a universal idea of what the Secret Doctrine really is, which has been kept concealed from the beginning.

In this age a universal inquiry into all religious systems is carried on around us by kindred spirits, clearly indicating that it is the age of revealment, or of making known. The sacred books. of every land and age are being translated, and their merits discussed; imperfectly, no doubt, at present; but let ns not despair, for others shall follow the path to esoteric knowledge that we have but intuitionally indicated. What has been kept secret from the beginning is now made manifest; and although the less liberal ecclesiastics, inspired by fear for the safety of their sheltering church, still strive to obscure the divine light emanating from what they are pleased to call pagan sources, who is there that can now believe, for instance, that the teachings of Gotama Buddha were inspired by Satan simply because they anticipated those of Christ Jesus?

Virtue is divine by whoever it may be taught and practised, and no sect can claim a monopoly of goodness, or to have originated a virtue that was not known and practised long anterior to the existence of that sect. God is Truth, and was known from the beginning. Man stood ever in the same relationship to his Divine Father. To say: "other religions may have been good, but mine is the best," is but to assert: "other men may. have been good, but I am the best." For the religion is the man himself, and his highest ideal. If that ideal is imperfect, the whole man is imperfect; if wrong and false, the whole man is wrong and false, and become!! the very reverse of his pretensions. Therefore, to assume : " all religions except mine are bad," is but to declare: "all men are devils, I only am an angel," and is the height of egotistical presumption. The Truth of the Heathen is as true to him as the Truth of the Christian; for Truth is its own law, and its Divine Spirit knows no sectarian distinctions. Some of these are more liberal-minded than we are, when they say: "Though we may each look out of different windows, we all see the same great Sun-source of light and warmth."

The occult Theo-pbilosophy set forth iii these pages is not a new invention, nor the mystic craze of a few visionaries, as irresponsibly-minded Agnostics and the soi-disant Orthodox would fain describe it, but the continuance of the most ancient Divine WisdomReligion co-eternal with the existence of the Divine Soul. For wherever the Soul was, there was the Law and Way of re-birth andre-ascension.

To whom shall we now turn for information on this mystic knowledge?

The ordinary religionists, depending for their knowledge of the Divine upon the Sunday sermon, which but too often is given by one who is only a Theologian, and who consequently teaches but what he has been taught by those who knew as little as be hi~self knows of the inner truth, can afford us no reply. The words of the Word are only incidentally produced in as far as these can be twisted to agree with a mass of arbitrary dogmas, that, like parasitical creepers, overgrow and conceal the tree of life from our views.

Nor can the atheistic Materialists-or, as they prefer to be called, "Agnostics,"-tell us that which they themselves do not know. These would rather enslave all mankind with the bonds of their own wilful ignorance, to compel the debasing belief that not only God but even a life beyond the grave are subjects hopelessly unknowable. How gladly would the Materialists stamp out the ideas of God and Immortality and erase the words from the Dictionary 1 · For to admit a knowledge beyond the~ ec.mprehension is to resign their pretensions to positive science ; and rather than accept the reality of a spiritual knowledge, which they by their perversity are incapable of acquiring, they would willingly, to uphold their own prestige, condemn all mankind to spiritual blindness.

· Therefore must Theosophists submit to be called visionaries, and Theosophy remain a tabooed subject ; and with characteristic forgetfulness they, whose predecessors but a century ago were crushed by the intolerance of ecclesiastic bigotry, would now set up a system of pseudo-scientific infallibility, from which, according to them, it is not only heresy, but insanity, to differ. Such is the modesty of the Agnostics, or know-nothings, that they do not hesitate to say that Spiritualists and proh pudoT Theosophists cannot possibly be right-minded; for are not they, the Materialists, the absolute authorities for all Science, and have not they the sole monoply of reason ? 1'o hear them discourse one would be inclined to believe that all the knowledge in the world is already their own ; yet the Gospel of their Unfaith amounts only to this: there is no God, and the Agnostic is his prophet. This No-God, however, does not increase our knowledge of fhe unknown laws of nature, and, having not even an existence his poor nothingness can afford ns but small consolation.

What justification have such men, vain of that little knowledge known to be a dangerous thing-what justification have they to consider those deluded who differ from them because they preach the Unknown God ? The greatest madman is the Atheist; for can he be otherwise than insane who denies the existence of that omnipotent All-Reason whose manifestation is the Universe? 

Wiser than the moderns with their ephemeral science were the ancients, who more concealed than revealed their spiritual knowledge.

Seeking the Truth therefore, neither in unbelief nor in blind belief, neither lightly condemning nor lightly believing, by following the self-constituted authorities of credulity or incredulity, but accepting Truth wherever it is found, and giving credit to all for the knowledge that they really possess, we have arrived at the conclusion, which the impartial reader is at liberty to accept or reject, that in antiquity, as well as in more recent times, there were beings claiming to have a knowledge of the Divine, that they attained to this knowledge by practising virtue, and whether their claims are justifiable can be discerned from a perusal of this our Inquiry, wherein we also indicate the works that will aid the reader desirous for further information.

Truths that we already know become not more valuable because we find them accepted by a multitude of witnesses, or garbed in outlandish jargon ; but sometimes the very familiarity with a Truth that has been inculcated to us from early youth prevents us from appreciating its value and perceiving its importance upon which a new wording often throws new light and displays the jewel that has been all the while overlooked.

Our investigations have been carried on in accordance with the rules Bishop Beveridge (1636-1707) laid down for himself, in his Privates Thoughts on Religion, Part I., Article 2, and whose remarks are prefixed to the first volume of the Sacred Books of the East :-  

"The general inclinations which are naturally implanted in my eoul to some religion, it is impossible for me to shift off: but there being such a multiplicity of religions in the world, I desire now seriously to consider with myself which of them all to restrain these my general inclinations to. And the reason of this my inquiry is not that I am in the least dissatisfied with that religion I have already embraced, but because it is natural for all men to have an overbearing opinion and esteem for that particular religion they are born and bred up in. That, therefore, I may not seem biassed by the prejudice of education, I am resolved to prove and examine them all ; that I may see and hold fast to that which is best. • • • •

" Indeed there was never any religion so barbarous and diabolical but it was preferred before all other religions whatsoever by them that did profess it; otherwise they would not have professed it. . . • .

"And why, say they, may not you be mistaken as well as we ? Especially when there is, at least, six to one against your Christian religion ; all of which think they serve God aright, and expect happiness thereby as well as you. • • • And hence it is that my looking for the truest religion, being conscious to myself how great an ascendant Christianity holds over me beyond the rest, as being that religion whereinto I was born and baptized; that which the supreme authority has enjoined and my parents educated me in ; that which everyone I meet withal highly approves of, and which I myself have, by a long-continued profession, made almost natural to me: I am resolved to be more jealous and suspicious of this religion than of the rest, and be sure not to entertain it any longer without being convinced by solid and substantial arguments of the truth and certainty of it. That, therefore, I may make diligent and impartial inquiry into all religions, and so be sure to find out the best, I shall, for a time, look upon myself as one not at all interested in any particular religion whatsoever, much less in the Christian religion; but only as one who desires, in general, to serve and obey him that made me in a right manner, and thereby to be made partaker of that happiness  my nature is capable of.”

Having carried on our investigations in this very spirit, we now declare to have found in the Esoteric Doctrine, or Universal Wisdom-Religion, which forms the secret Doctrine of all religions, the solution to that mystery of the ages which satisfies both the aspirations of the Soul and Intellect. 

This Secret Doctrine, which we have found to be the Esoteric basis or foundation of all the religions, we have been able to study, and which we have therefore named Universal, is sometimes known as the Ancient Wisdom-Religion, which derives its name from the Divine Wisdom Itself, of which we .read so much in the Proverbs of Solomon, and in the Book of Ecclesiastes, and which is so evidently shown forth as being the feminine principle in the Divinity 

To quote from Swedenborg-in whose writings we find this theory so clearly set forth-" Love and Wisdom are the two Essential Principles in the Divinity"; in speaking separately of either, it is customary to say, "The Divine Love," or "The Divine Wisdom." They represent the Masculine and Feminine sides of the Great First Cause, whom we call God, or the Divine BEING, for God alone IS. 

Reason comprehends that where there is Being, or EssE, there is also ExiSTERII:; one is not possible without the other, for an Esse is not an Esse unless it exists, because it is not in a form; and what is not in a form, either spiritual or natural, has no qualityis nothing. Whatever exist.s from an Esse makes one with the Esse. Now, this is the case with the Divine Love and Wisdom. These two are so much One that they may be distinguished in thought, but not in act ; they may therefore be said to be distinctly One-that is to say, Biune, or Two in One. 

The Divine Spirit of God-man is understood by the Divine Love (Esse), and His Divine Soul by Wisdom (Existere); they are distinctly One, since Divine Wisdom exists from Love, and Divine Love makes itself seen and known by Wisdom.

All that proceeds from Divine Wisdom is called TRUTH " The Truth," then, is no other than the form  of the affection which is engendered by the Divine Love. For this r~ason the Lord Jesus Christ is called the Only Begotten Son of God, although the Churches may not be aware of this spiritual interpretation, or inclined to reason concerning it. But Jesus himself declared it before the Judgment Seat of Pilate. "Thou sayest that I am King. To this end was I born, and for this reason came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the Truth. Everyone who is of the t1-uth heareth my voice." 

Let us not then tum a deaf ear to thiR voice, in our search after TRUTH ; for by listening to it we may be directed to find the fundamental Truth underlying all the religions of the Ages; and as Christ himself said : "Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day"; which the Jews could not at all understand when they looked upon a man who was " not more than thirty years old" ; for they were as limited then in their Spiritual views as we are now, to whom the same Christ is speaking nearly two thousand years later; but we can still only see the historical man, who Jaid down his life to bear witness to the Truth at the age of 33, and not THE TRUTH to which he came to bear witness, which be manifested to the world, and which belongs to spiritual light, or insight; " that light which Bhi'Mth in dark7lt88, and the darkness comprehendeth it not"; the Only B~otten Son of God, Born of the DIVINE WISDOK, whom the Lord possessed in the beginning, before ever the earth was. (Read the VIII. Chapter of Wisdom.)  

But to avoid repeating this formula, we prefer to adopt an expressive word derived from the Greek, or, rather, from two Greek words-Theo, God, and Sophia, Wisdom-which together, as "Theosophia," or, in English," Theosophy," means the Science of "Divine Wisdom"; and though we can never hope to know this in its fulness, yet we may certainly quench our thirst at the ever-Bowing fountain ; for it is that dOUrce of which Christ said : "If any man drink, it shall be to him a tvell of water sprim,ging up into Eternal life."

This divine science bas been known in all ages, and by the followers of many different systems of religion, because it is the oldest science there is in the world ; though the outward name bas been adopted by an extensive 'organization, inaugurated in India, with which it has perhaps become rather too exclusively identified of late, as Branches of this Society or Brotherhood are extended in all directions, not only over all India, but exist also in Europe and America; this Society, however, makes no claim to the exclusive use of the term, and its members are quite aware that there are many Theosophists in the world, belonging to all religions, although they do not outwardly bear that name. We cannot suppose, therefore, that a narrow, prejudiced party-Bpirit will prevent any large-minded reader from following us through this earnest inquiry we have endeavoured to make concerning the DIVINE WISDOM, or Theosophy, underlying all the Religions of the Ages. 

We are told that the disciples of Jesus were indignant because they saw someone casting out devils by the same power or Name, who followed not them : but Jesus replied : "Forbid them not, for M that i8 not against 'U8 i8 on our part." This is the first lesson to be learned by every true Theosophist ; for to be a Theosophist, you must rise to the height of view that finds the underlying truth in every system. 

The Study and Science of the Priests of all religions is THEOLOGY-and Theology, as well as Theosophy, may also be dignified as a Divine Science, because it is the study of God and the Scripture-or, so called, Sacred Writings; but whilst Theology affirms the knowledge of God to be inaccessible to Reason, and only attainable through Faith, which is a gift of God, Theosophy affirm11 the intellectual and intuitional apprehension of divine things, and declares that God is to be seen in all His works, and is still more particularly to be found and understood by the investigation and study of the Occult laws of nature, whilst keeping clear, however, of Tluurgy, a study which might end by leading the student in an opposite direction.

"Theosophy professes to exclude all dialectical proofs (which is the method employed by Theology and by Philosophy), and to derive its knowledge of God from direct and immediate intuition and contemplation, or from the immediate intuition-communication-of God Himself. So far, therefore, as regards the Science of God, Theosophy is but another name for Mysticitrrn, although the latter name implies much more, and the direct and immediate knowledge or intuition of God to which the mystics lay claim, was in fact the foundation of that intimate ·union with God, and consequent abstraction from outer things, which they made the basis of their moral and ascetieal system " (Chambers' Encyclopllldia). 

If, then, it be true, as it is thus implied by a generally received authority, that mysticism is the Soul's inner knowledge of God, may we not define Theosophy as the Science that cultivates the spiritual perceptions and faculties of the Soul, and thus helps it to unfold that intuitional knowledge which, as a divine seed, is already planted in that precious garden ? 

The mission of man is to learn to know God as far as He can be known ; but as long as we are worshippers of the external God only, we are idolators and creedmongers, and are led mechanically, like sheep, through our own indifference in neglecting to cultivate the interior faculties of our souls.

The Soul is the One little Garden given by our heavenly Father to each one of His children in particular, and which, were we to cultivate, tend, and care for, as we do our outer earthly bodies, would richly reward us by the fragrance and beauty of the flowers and rare fruits it would put forth, and which would bloom and flourish in its fruitful soil. 

If we realize what SoUL is, we realize what Theosophy is. The infinitude of God cannot be made known to us in words, it must be acquired in the infinite region-the region of the Soul. The carnal mind cannot apprehend Spiritual Truth. Above the realm of the senses and passions, out of the noise into the silence must be go who would find the truth. " Be still, and know that I am God."

The Soul of man is a mirror in nature, and the mind may read the lessons written there in the lurid fires of passion, or in the clear light of eternity. If the mirror of the Soul be turned habitually towards the spiritual world-if passion be subdued, and pride destroyed, the mists will roll away, and knowledge of everlasting verities will flow into the Soul. 

"Theosophy is the Divine Wisdom which is the science of divine bliss ; it is the science of contemplating problems that lie deep in man's spiritual nature. • • • • This great Science is the Science of ETERNAL LIFE; the contemplation of which causes the present life to assume its true proportions. 

" Theosophy is the essence of all doctrines, the inner truth of all religions. Creedless, nameless, untaught by priests, because it is of the Spirit and not to be found in temple or synagogc.e. It is the still small voice heard in the whirlwind, and felt in the storm." 

Theosophy believes in the still small Voice of God within, or the Spirit within the Soul. God is Spirit, and Spirit is One, Infinite and Eternal, whether it speak through the life of Buddha or Jesus, Zoroaster or Mohammed. 

The words Jesus spoke, and the works He performed, he spoke and wrought through the Spirit, or the God within his own Spiritual Soul. And whoever lives in the Spirit bears the same witness. The truths of the Spirit are only known by the Spirit. When we walk in the light of the Intellect alone, and without the Intuition, these things are foolishness unto us, because they are intuitionally discerned by the Soul, and it is only after they have been first discerned that they can become understood by the intellect. 

The ideal of the Theosophist is the At-one-ment of his own spirit with that of the Infinite, and to be able to say with Jesus, " The Father and I are one." The Theosophist sees that this is the essential teaching of all religions, and to obtain and enjoy this union you must believe in and obey the voice of your own higher conscience ; for the true Christ is the Divine Spirit within you, and thus God manifest in humanity. 

All truly-inspired men, as well as Jesus himself, advance the claim of their unity with God. The sense in which Jesus meant this is revealed when he said: "It i8 written ye are God8." The spirit of man is part of the breath of God. When man comes to a true knowledge of himself, be also comes to a true knowledge of God, and from being the son of man, he feels he ~ say with Jesus, "I am the Son of God." "I and my Father are one." And though on earth he suffers and dies, yet angels minister to him, and death is but the entrance into a larger, fuller, and more perfect life. 

When we attain to this exalted state the Immanuel of the heart, or God with m, the Christ hom within us, will work mighty works, and redeem us from the world and the flesh, and make us conscious of our own relation to God, and our heirdom of Eternal life. 

To be a true Theosophist, or lover of DIVINE WISDOM, we must have largeness of heart to embrace the whole; therefore a heart attuned to divine melodies; or, in other words, a spirit that feels and thrills to the glorious harmonies of all that comes to us so bountifully from the DIVINE Love AND WISDOM of our Heavenly FATHER AND MOTHER God, and keenly alive to all the beauties that surround us on every side, as well as to all the dangers to which we are continually exposed, and from which we are only saved by their ever-watchful and merciful providence for the safety of all. 

True Theosophy studies all religions, but teaches none, leaving to each the right of finding TRUTH for himself. Nevertheless, it is the summary of the Wisdom of the Brahmin, of the Buddhist, of the Jew, and also of the Christian; for it is that branch of Christianity which demonstrates and distinguishes the Spiritual Christ from the historical Christ, too exclusively taught by Theology. 




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