IT is a God who hath brought thee to us, Asclepios, that thou mayst assist at a divine discourse, and one which will be the most truly religious of all we have as yet held, or with which we have been inspired from on high. In understanding it thou wilt be in possession of all blessings,--if so be indeed there are several, and if it be not more correct to say there is but one blessing which comprises all. For each one of them is bound to another; all are derived from one and make but one, so that their mutual bonds make separation impossible. This is what thou wilt understand by paying attention to that which we are about to say. But first, Asclepios, go away for a little while and look for another hearer for our discourse.
[Asclepios proposes to call Ammon.]
There is no objection to Ammon's presence among us, says Trismegistos. I have not forgotten that I have addressed to him, as to a dear son, several writings on Nature and other subjects relating to exoteric teaching. But it is thy name, Asclepios, which I shall inscribe at the head of the present treatise. And call no other person than Ammon. For a discourse upon the holiest matters of religion would be profaned by a too numerous audience. It is an impiety to deliver to the knowledge of a great number, a treatise full of divine majesty. 1
[Ammon enters the sanctuary, and completes the holy quartet, 2 filled with the presence of God. The invitation to devotional silence comes from the lips of Hermes, and in the presence of the attentive souls who hang upon his words, the divine Love thus begins:--] 1
Every human soul, Asclepios, is immortal; but this immortality is not uniform. It differs both in mode and in duration.
It is because souls, Trismegistos, are not all of the same quality.
How quickly thou understandest the reason of things, Asclepios! I have not yet said that all is one and that one is all, since all things were in the Creator before the creation and we can call Him all since all things are His members. Wherefore, throughout all this discourse, bear in mind Him who is One and All, the Creator of all things.
Everything descends from heaven upon the earth, into the water, into the air: only fire is vivifying, because it tends upwards; that which tends downwards is subordinate to it. That which descends from above is generative; that which emanates and rises is nutritive. The earth, alone self-supported, is the receptacle of all things, and reconstructs the types which she receives. That Universal Being which contains all and which is all, puts into motion the soul and the world, all that nature comprises. In the manifold unity of universal life, the innumerable individualities distinguished by their variations, are, nevertheless, united in such a manner that the whole is one, and that everything proceeds from unity.
Now this unity, which constitutes the world, is formed of four elements: fire, water, earth, and air:--one single world, one single soul, and one single God. Lend me now all the powers and all the penetration of thy thought; for the idea of Divinity, which cannot be conceived save by divine assistance, resembles a rapid stream precipitating itself onwards with impetuosity, and often, therefore, outstrips the attention of the listeners, and even of him who teaches.
46:1 It is the indiscriminate disclosure of spiritual mysteries to those who, by reason of their exclusively fleshly condition, are incapable of appreciating and reverencing then, that is called by Jesus a casting of pearls before swine.
46:2 The fourth being Tatios, the son of Trismegistos. All such discourses required--for occult reasons--the presence of a minimum number of four. The four above represented the four great divisions of existence, and constituted an epitome of the Universe. "The form of the fourth is like the Son of God," Nabuchodonosor is made to exclaim in the Hermetic allegory in Daniel, representing the transmutation--instead of the expected destruction--of the earthly elements of Man under the fiery alchemic ordeal of suffering.
47:1 This identification of Hermes with Eros--the only instance Dr. Menard says he has found in literature--accords with the Hermetic axiom--" Love and Wisdom are One."
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