We have received several communications for publication,
bearing on the subjects discussed in the editorial of our last issue, "Let
every man prove his own work." A few brief remarks may be made, not
in reply to any of the letters which, being anonymous
and containing no card from the writers, cannot be published (nor
are such noticed, as a general rule) but to the ideas and accusations contained
in one of them, a letter signed "M." Its author takes up the cudgels
on behalf of the Church. He objects to the statement that this institution
lacks the enlightenment necessary to carry out a true system of philanthropy.
He appears, also, to demur to the view that "the practical people either
go on doing good unintentionally and often do harm," and points to
the workers amid our slums as a vindication of Christianity which, by-the-bye,
was in no sense attacked in the editorial so criticized.
To this, repeating what was said, we maintain that more mischief has
been done by emotional charity than sentimentalists care to face. Any student
of political economy is familiar with this fact, which passes for a truism
with all those who have devoted attention to the problem. No nobler sentiment
than that which animates the unselfish philanthropist is conceivable; but
the question at issue is not summed up in the recognition of this truth.
The practical results of his labours have to be examined. We have to see
whether he does not sow the seeds of a greater while relieving a lesser evil.
The fact that "thousands are making great efforts in all the cities
throughout our land" to meet want, reflects immense credit on the character
of such workers. It does not affect their creed, for such natures would
remain the same, whatever the prevailing dogmas chanced to be. It is certainly
a very poor illustration of the fruits of centuries of dogmatic Christianity
that England should be so honeycombed with misery and poverty as she is especially
on the biblical ground that a tree must be judged by its fruits! It might,
also, be argued, that the past history of the Churches, stained as it is
with persecutions, the suppression of knowledge, crime and brutality, necessitates
the turning over of a new leaf. The difficulties in the way are insuperable.
"Churchianity" has, indeed, done its best to keep up with the
age by assimilating the teachings of, and making veiled truces with, science,
but it is incapable of affording a true spiritual ideal to the world.
The same Church-Christianity assails with fruitless pertinacity, the
ever-growing host of Agnostics and Materialists, but is as absolutely
ignorant as the latter of the mysteries beyond the tomb. The great necessity for the Church, according to Professor Flint, is
to keep the leaders of European thought within its fold. By such men it
is, however, regarded as an anachronism. The Church is eaten up with scepticism
within its own walls; free-thinking clergymen being now very common. This
constant drain of vitality has reduced the true religion to a very low ebb,
and it is to infuse a new current of ideas and aspirations into modern thought,
in short, to supply a logical basis for an elevated morality, a science
and philosophy which is suited to the knowledge of the day, that Theosophy
comes before the world. Mere physical philanthropy, apart from the infusion
of new influences and ennobling conceptions of life into the minds of the
masses, is worthless. The gradual assimilation by mankind of great spiritual
truths will alone revolutionize the face of civilization, and ultimately
result in a far more effective panacea' for evil, than the mere tinkering
of superficial misery. Prevention is better than cure. Society creates its
own outcasts, criminals, and profligates, and then condemns and punishes
its own Frankensteins, sentencing its own progeny, the "bone of its
bone, and the flesh of its flesh," to a life of damnation on earth.
Yet that society recognises and enforces most hypocritically Christianity i.e. "Churchianity." Shall we then, or shall we not, infer that
the latter is unequal to the requirements of mankind? Evidently the former,
and most painfully and obviously so, in its present dogmatic form, which
makes of the beautiful ethics preached on the Mount, a Dead Sea fruit, a
whitened sepulchre, and no better.
Furthermore, the same "M," alluding to Jesus as one with regard
to whom there could be only two alternatives, writes that he "was either
the Son of God or the vilest imposter who ever trod this earth." We
answer, not at all. Whether the Jesus of the New Testament ever lived or
not, whether he existed as an historical personage, or was simply a lay
figure around which the Bible allegories clustered the Jesus of Nazareth
of Matthew and John, is the ideal for every would-be sage and Western candidate
Theosophist to follow. That such an one as he, was a "Son of
God," is as undeniable as that he was neither the only "Son
of God," nor the first one, nor even the last who closed the series
of the "Sons of God," or the children of Divine Wisdom, on this
earth. Nor is that other statement that in "His life he (Jesus) has
ever spoken of himself as co-existent with Jehovah, the Supreme, the Centre
of the Universe," correct, whether in its dead letter, or hidden mystic
sense. In no place does Jesus ever allude to "Jehovah";but, on the contrary, attacking the Mosaic laws and the alleged Commandments
given on Mount Sinai, he disconnects himself and his "Father"
most distinctly and emphatically from the Sinaitic tribal God. The whole
of Chapter V., in the Gospel of Matthew, is a passionate protest of the
"man of peace, love and charity," against the cruel, stern, and
selfish commandments of "the man of war," the "Lord"
of Moses (Exod. xv., 3). "Ye have heard that it was said by them of
old times," so and so "But I say unto you," quite the reverse.
Christians who still hold to the Old Testament and the Jehovah of the Israelites, are at best schismatic Jews. Let them be that,
by all means, if they will so have it; but they have no right to call themselves
even Chréstians, let alone Christians.1
It is a gross injustice and untruth to assert, as our anonymous correspondent
does, that "the freethinkers are notoriously unholy in their lives."
Some of the noblest characters, as well as deepest thinkers of the day,
adorn the ranks of Agnosticism, Positivism and Materialism The latter are
the worst enemies of Theosophy and Mysticism; but this is no reason why
strict justice should not be done unto them. Colonel Ingersoll, a rank materialist,
and the leader of freethought in America, is recognised, even by his enemies
as an ideal husband, father, friend and citizen, one of the noblest characters
that grace the United States. Count Tolstoi is freethinker who has long
parted with the orthodox Church, yet his whole life is an exemplar of Christ-like
altruism and self-sacrifice. Would to goodness every "Christian"
should take those two "infidels" as his models in
private and public life. The munificence of many freethinking philanthropists
stands out in startling contrast with the apathy of the monied dignitaries
of the Church. above fling at the "enemies of the Church," is
as absurd as it is contemptible.
"What can you offer to the dying woman who fears to tread alone
the DARK UNKNOWN?" we are asked. Our Christian
critic here frankly confesses (a.) that Christian dogmas have only
developed fear of death, and (b.) the agnosticism of
the orthodox believer in Christian theology as to the future post-mortem state. It is, indeed, difficult to appreciate the peculiar type of bliss
which orthodoxy offers its believers in damnation.
The dying man the average Christian with a dark retrospect in
life can scarcely appreciate this boon; while the Calvinist or the Predestinarian,
who is brought up in the idea that God may have pre-assigned him from eternity
to everlasting misery, through no fault of that man, but simply because
he is God, is more than justified in regarding the latter as ten times worse
than any devil or fiend that unclean human fancy could evolve.
Theosophy, on the contrary, teaches that perfect absolute
justice reigns in nature, though short-sighted man fails to see it in
its details on the material and even psychic plane, and that every man determines
his own future. The true Hell is life on Earth, as an effect of Karmic punishment
following the preceding life during which the evil causes were produced.
The Theosophist fears no hell but confidently expects rest and bliss
during the interim between two incarnations, as a reward for all
the unmerited suffering he has endured in an existence into which he was
ushered by Karma, and during which he is, in most cases, as helpless as
a torn-off leaf whirled about by the conflicting winds of social and private
life. Enough has been given out at various times regarding the conditions
of post-mortem existence, to furnish a solid block of information on this
point. Christian theology has nothing to say on this burning question, except
where it veils its ignorance by mystery and dogma; but Occultism, unveiling
the symbology of the Bible, explains it thoroughly. [ED. Lucifer.
Lucifer, December, 1887
H. P. Blavatsky
1 See "The Esoteric
Character of the Gospels," in this number. [This volume pp.168-202. back to text