PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION|
No substantial alterations will be found in the text of the present edition ; but a few typographical errors have been corrected, and an index is appended.
We would again urge attention to the solution of Geological difficulties connected with the Bible which is advocated in this volume. Critical care in translating the original is all that it needs for its support ; and while it absolutely disables the attacks of Geology upon the Book of Genesis, it casts no discredit upon the science itself. For, when rightly understood, the Bible is found to have left an interval of undefined magnitude between creation and the Post-tertiary period, and men may bridge it as they can with their discoveries without fear of impugning the revelations of God.
The mischief which we endeavour to combat in the latter half of our work is still active and spreading. Opinions exactly corresponding to Paul's description of the final apostasy, and in most cases avowedly derived from the sources to which he refers them, are becoming more and more apparent in the literature of the day. Stories founded upon or introducing Spiritualistic incidents, and presenting Theosophic or Buddhist doctrines, not infrequently find their way into periodicals, and are beginning to appear in the form of novels. Newspaper and magazine articles on supernatural subjects are no longer rare, and the writers, even when they profess to be sceptical, often evince a curiosity and interest in their theme which bear testimony to its fascinating power.
The last remark applies in an especial manner to the frequent comments on Astrology in the daily newspapers. The almanacs of Moore and Zadkiel have been raised from their former low condition to respectability and repute; and we are continually reminded that Astrology is a science, and not a superstition. The assertion may possibly be true ; but the science is at least a forbidden one, though, strange to say, some of its principles have been recently applied even to the elucidation of prophecy. The pretensions and confidence of its advocates will, however, be best set forth by an extract from the correspondence of a London newspaper (St. James' Gazette, April 2ft, i885).
" Permit me to call the attention of your readers to the extraordinary way in which certain predictions, which may be found in 'Zadkiel's Almanac' for the current year, have been fulfilled during the past four months. It is easy to deride Astrology; but it is absurd to suppose that the editor of 'Zadkiel's,' writing in September last, could have prophesied with this remarkable measure of success, if he had trusted merely to his natural opinion as to what was likely to happen. I might cite from the other Astrological almanacs other predictions which have been similarly justified by the course of events. I venture to submit that Astrology deserves far more serious attention than it commonly receives in this country, and I feel confident that, if it were taken in hand by the class of men who in former times devoted themselves to it, humanity would greatly profit. It should never be forgotten that Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Bacon, Napier, and others of equal eminence, studied Astrology and believed in it, yet nowadays people who know nothing whatever about it make no apology for sneering at it at every opportunity."
The close connection of Astrology with Buddhism and Theosophy is shown in the following extract. "We hold that the science of Astrology only determines the nature of effects, by a knowledge of the law of magnetic affinities and attractions of the Planetary bodies, but that it is the Karmasee P. 251-Of the individual himself which places him in that particular magnetic relation " (The Theosophist, February, 1885).
We may thus see that a transgression of old is being revived in our midst, and that many are again looking to " the Astrologers, the star-gazers, and the monthly Prognosticators," who could by no means save great Babylon from her fall (Isa. x1vii. 14). Were there a prophet among us now, might he not say, in reference to our misfortunes and disgraces of the last few years: "Thou hast forsaken Thy people . . . because they are replenished from the East, and are soothsayers like the Philistines " ? (Isa. ii. 6). Of course we have also many other national sins, just as Judah had in the days of Isaiah.
And again, just as it was with the ancient oracles, so there is often a startling amount of truth in modern predictions; while at other times they as signally fail. This is precisely such a mingling of the supernatural with fraud as we may expect to find in every manifestation of the Kingdom of Satan, in every work of his evil and unscrupulous agents, who are indeed possessed of power and knowledge beyond our own, but are neither omnipotent nor omniscient. [See p. 286.]
The manner in which the Greeks and Romans explained difficulties arising from this limitation of power is instructive. It is not to be supposed that they could remain loyal to their gods without supernatural displays and occasional answers, or fancied answers, to their prayers. But they were often disappointed ; and, to account for such disappointment, they imagined the inexorable Fates, sitting in the background of Olympus, and wielding a power which not even Zeus might dispute.
And not infrequently it is to a consciousness of this limit of power that we may trace the exposure of some who are nevertheless real mediums. For having, either through zeal for their faith, or, perhaps, for the sake of gain, resolved to exhibit their powers in public, and at fixed times, they are well aware that they cannot rely upon their supernatural aids and, therefore, make preparations to satisfy an audience, should it be necessary, by other means.
According to the Hindus, the success of either medium or adept depends on the presence in his body of a subtle fluid, called akasa, which is soon exhausted, and without which the demons are unable to act. This fluid, it is said, may be artificially generated by a vegetarian diet and chastity-an ominous sign to the student of prophetic Scripture.
That demons do extract something vital from those who surrender their bodies to be tampered with is not improbable. Professor Crookes, in his account of the scientific tests to which he subjected Home, relates that after a successful seance the medium appeared to be very exhausted, and sometimes lay on the floor in a state of utter prostration. He says : " In employing the terms vital force, or nervous energy, I am aware that I am employing words which convey very different significations to many investigators ; but after witnessing the painful state of nervous and bodily prostration in which some of these experiments have left Mr. Home-after seeing him lying in an almost fainting condition on the floor, pale and speechless -I could scarcely doubt that the evolution of psychic force is accompanied by a corresponding drain on vital force (Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, P. 41) And Morell Theobald speaks of " direct spirit-writing without known human intervention," and then explains:- " I advisedly say ' without known human intervention,' because very frequently, if not always, when direct spirit-writings are done in the house, whether in the room where I am or not, I feel indescribable sensations either of confused headache or drawing pains in the lower part of the back, which cease as soon as the Psychogram is completed " (Light, May 9th, 1885). [See P. 304.]
The manner in which the West is now being replenished from the East is well illustrated by Max Miffler's recently published book, Biographical Essays. In the letters to Keshub Chunder Sen, which it contains, the Professor regards the East as the parent and teacher of the West and the Brahma Somaj as being far more likely to modify Christianity than to be absorbed by it. The aim of the founder of the Brahma Somaj is thus described.
" What Rammohun Roy wanted for India was a Christianity purified of all mere miracles, and relieved of all theological rust and dust, whether it dated from the first Council or from the last. That Christianity he was willing to preach, but no other; and in preaching that Christianity he might still, he thought, remain a Brahman and a follower of the religion of the Veda. "
Such is the fundamental principle of the Hindu Broad Church Movement, which evidently will not stand in the way of the future universal religion. Max Miffler's own conception of Christianity betrays its parentage very unmistakably.
" Christianity is Christianity by this one fundamental truth, that as God is the Father of man, so truly, and not poetically or metaphorically only, man is the son of God, participating in God's very essence and nature, though separated from God by self and sin. This oneness of nature between the Divine and the Human does not lower the concept of God by bringing it nearer to the level of humanity: on the contrary, it raises the old concept of man, and brings it nearer to its true ideal."
Such teaching is a manifest preparation for Antichrist, and from it the Professor goes on to the Theosophic doctrine that any man may become a Christ, and affirms that our Lord was the " Firstborn " Son of God in the sense that He was the first to realize fully the common relationship between God and man, and to proclaim it " in clear and simple language."
In another and very strange passage he denies the miraculous circumstances of our Lord's birth, and explains away the resurrection of His body. And in support of these opinions he claims the authority of the late Dean Stanley, thus expressing himself to Keshub Chunder Sen on the subject of the resurrection :
"Of this I am perfectly certain, that if you had said to Stanley, 'Am I a Christian if I believe only in the spiritual resurrection of Christ ? ' he would have said, ' Yes, and all the more if you do not believe that His body was taken up to the clouds.' I often regret that the Jews buried and did not burn their dead ; for in that case the Christian idea of the resurrection would have remained far more spiritual, and the conception of immortality would have become less material."
Both Theosophists and Spiritualists are extremely anxious to destroy faith in the resurrection of the body; the former, because such a doctrine renders their theory of transmigration untenable ; the latter, because it is fatally opposed to their fundamental principle, which requires that the spirits of the departed should become angels immediately after death.
Since the issue of our last edition, the Press has been doing much for the new faith, and among other works we may notice, as an additional proof of the connection between Theosophy and Paganism, that the Hermetic fragments are being translated into English. The Divine Pymander has already appeared under the auspices of Hargrave Jennings ; while E. Maitland and Anna Kingsford have an edition of the Virgin of the World in preparation. In a paper read on the 27th of April, 1885, the President of the London Hermetic Society remarked in regard to the latter work: " The very title of this celebrated fragment is a revelation of the identity subsisting between the ancient wisdom-religions and the creed of Catholic Christendom."
Even while writing these lines we observe advertisements of several new Theosophic and Spiritualistic books; but the most important that has lately appeared in England is a translation of Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Voystellung [The World as Will and Idea], which has powerfully assisted the spread of Buddhist ideas among the more highly educated classes of the West. Yet the wisdom of the-philosopher did not enable him to walk in the paths which he could indicate to others, and it has been remarked that his definition of the universe as " one enormous Will, constantly rushing into life," was no bad description of his own spiritual constitution. " I preach sanctity," he himself said, " but am no saint." And to the last he lamented that his animal propensities allowed him no present hope of passing into Nirvana by the gate of death.
Yet, although his vigorous intellect was ever labouring to adapt Eastern thought to the Western mind, he seemed to meet, with little or no success, and lived in comparative neglect. Only at the close of his career his power began to be recognized, and he became the centre of a continually increasing circle of admirers. " After one has spent a long life in insignificance and disregard," he bitterly said, " they come at the end with drums and trumpets, and think that is something."
But the doctrine planted with such painful toil had at last taken root; and since his death (September 2.ist, 1860) it has grown vigorously, and bids fair to be presently surrounded with the whitening bones of many who have sought it as a Tree of Life.
And while all these different influences are acting upon the West, the news from the East is also portentous. The following extract from the Times of India excites but little attention to-day ; how great a sensation would it have produced a few years ago!
" A novel and imposing ceremony took place on the 5th of April (1885) at the Widyodya Buddhist College in Colombo, by which a young and accomplished English lady, well known in Bombay, formally professed herself a follower of Lord Buddha. Not long ago a clergyman from England, the Rev. C. W. Leadbeater, took the 'five precepts' in the presence of the High Priest Sumangala. This time it was Miss Mary Flynn who accepted the faith which is now becoming fashionable among the enlightened classes in the West. It was a curious sight to see an English lady, dressed in an elegant robe of black silk, sitting in the midst of a crowd of yellow-robed Buddhist priests and repeating the Pansil. The High Priest began the ceremony by examining the fair candidate as to the reasons that led her to desire to accept Buddhism as her faith; and Miss Flynn replied that, after having studied the various religious systems of the world, she had found the Buddhistic esoteric philosophy to be most in accordance with her own mind and with common sense. Other questions having been satisfactorily answered by her, the High Priest administered the 'five precepts,' which Miss Flynn promised to observe. The ceremony ended with the chanting of ' Ratana Sutta ' by all the assembled priests. Besides these, there were also present, in the temple in which the ceremony took place, many of the most prominent Buddhists of Colombo, the captain and several officers of the screw-steamer Tibre, of the Messageries Maritimes, and a number of European passengers who had arrived in that vessel."
It would, therefore, seem that the attack of the Madras Christian College upon Madame Blavatski has by no means checked the movement in which she has been so conspicuous an actor; and, apparently, the failure is nowhere more manifest than in Madras itself. It was confidently predicted that the High Priestess of Theosophy and Buddhism would not dare to show her face again in that city. Nevertheless, she did so and, according to The Theosophist, received a warm welcome not merely from the members of the Theosophical Societies but also from the students of the various Colleges, and from many other persons. She was conducted in procession from the shore, to the Patcheappa Hall, and was there presented by the students with an address of sympathy and admiration, to which, among other signatures, were appended those of more than three hundred members of the very Christian College whose professors had assailed her.
No wonder that a letter appeared shortly afterwards in the Madras Standard, January 9th, 1885, questioning the wisdom of attempts to diffuse Christianity by means of a higher education. Hitherto it has been usual to assume that the spread of Western culture would in itself prove fatal to Paganism; but experience and a closer acquaintance with the esoteric philosophy'of the East are rapidly dissipating that idea. Satan is now setting in motion intellectual forces which will be more than a match for the missionaries, if they persist in carrying on their warfare in the old way.
But there must be a change. The fact that the supernatural is largely mingled with the frauds and juggleries of the kingdom of Darkness must no longer be denied, and its true nature must be pointed out. Like Paul, our missionaries must recognize the presence and power of the spirit of Python; they may then receive strength to withstand and overcome it.
Moreover, some of them need to imitate the apostle of the Gentiles in another particular, in not shunning to declare all the counsel of God. Already Brahmans, Buddhists and Mohammedans are beginning to preach the near advent of their Messiah, that is, of Antichrist : it is high time that those who are dealing with them should proclaim with no uncertain voice the speedy coming of the Christ to take to Himself His great power and to reign. This doctrine was ever prominent in the teaching of the apostles, and must in no case be omitted by those who would enter into their labours and share their reward.
Let us, then, take a momentary but comprehensive glance at the phenomenon before us. Three phases of thought of a more or less religious character are rapidly overspreading every country of Christendom. Their influence is extended by means which vary from the highest philosophic teachings to the most debasing practices of sorcery. And yet those who take the trouble to investigate have little difficulty in discovering links which connect the three propagandas, and prove them to be parts of one great movement which is changing the creed of the Western world. In the general doctrines of this movement the first feature which strikes us is a determined effort, at once by insinuation and direct assault, to overthrow faith in the facts connected with the incarnation of the Lord and the glorious Gospel of His atonement for sin. Then comes a claim to supernatural knowledge, and sometimes even to supernatural power, obtained, whether by medium or adept, from the spirits of the air (I Tim. iv. 1, 2). And, lastly, the law is laid down that those who would carry on the forbidden intercourse to perfection must abstain from flesh and alcohol, and must practise chastity (I Tim. iv. 3).
Would it be possible to have a more complete transcript into history of the great prophecy contained in the First Epistle to Timothy ? (See p. 191).
1. I Tim. iii. 16, iv. I. It is scarcely necessary to remark that there should be no new chapter here. The two verses are intimately, connected; in the first the doctrines of the mystery of godliness are enumerated ; in the second, we are told that in latter times men will fall away from them.