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This is why certain nations, at the child point of development, _must_ be treated as children. They don't realise the appeal to the spiritual, and will only misconceive you and your motives, and read cowardice in your attempt to treat from a standpoint they have not reached.
It is the same with certain religions, and this is the cause of much failure in mission work.
Theosophy and Roman Catholicism appeal strongly to comparatively immature minds.
Those who care more for form than for essence are always in the immature stage.
They love big words and mysterious sayings and doings. To have something apart from others--whether it be happiness or knowledge--is their idea of bliss. Hence in most theosophists, as in all Roman Catholic converts, you find this note of immaturity and monopoly. I say _converts_, because those born in the Roman Catholic faith are on different ground. Their spiritual life may grow and develop in spite of the creed limitations into which Fate has cast them, but those who deliberately _choose_ such limitations give the best possible proof of their own standpoint. And the same may be said also of all strict creed religions.
They have their great and valuable uses, as prison bars have their uses in a community which has not learnt to respect the rights and property of its neighbours.
Withdraw these bars and you let loose upon society a pestilential crew of murderers and marauders. Relax the bars of creed and you will find the same result. But as bars are not necessary for the advanced souls who recognise that to murder or defraud their fellow-creatures leads to their own misery, apart from any detection or punishment, so creeds are not necessary, under a corresponding evolution of the spiritual instinct, which tallies with the social and moral instincts noted above.
And as treadmills and oak.u.m picking can be dismissed in the one case, so can much of the theological machinery for the discipline and punishment of sinners against spiritual laws be dispensed with, in the case of those who are, spiritually speaking, _coming of age_.
They come then into the full liberty of Sons of G.o.d, and shall be no more treated as servants, _but as sons_, as the Apostle puts it.
This brings me to my special subject.
There are many things of great and transcending interest which we are obliged to keep secret from our younger children, partly because they would fail to understand, but still more because they would _misunderstand_, and this to their own hurt and disadvantage; not to speak of possible injury to others through them.
Spiritual Evolution is the true Doctrine, but it is not food for babes in spiritual life.
To have an unlimited series of advancing lives and advancing experiences unfolded before their eyes would not only dismay and bewilder, but would also paralyse their energy for good, and terribly augment their capacity for evil--for the _not good_.
Until they are sufficiently versed in spiritual experience to realise the difference between purity and impurity, good and evil, G.o.d and the world, fame and peace, pleasure and happiness, the peace which pa.s.ses understanding and the false glamour of sensual pa.s.sion and sensuous self-indulgence, so long it is dangerous for them to know, with absolute certainty, the real facts of the case.
Even the terrible and abhorrent pictures of an Eternal h.e.l.l, of endless flames and of undying worms, have had their uses.
In this form alone could the thoroughly immature mind be made to realise the discomfort and misery that would inevitably attend wrong-doing. It _was_ a truth, although not a literal truth. Many literal truths convey a false impression to the immature mind, whilst a symbolic truth may convey as true an impression as such a mind is capable of receiving.
The old ideas of Heaven and h.e.l.l are already doomed; but other ideas, equally untrue from the literal point of view, still hold their own, and will be more slowly eradicated. It is well this should be so. The world at large is not prepared yet to take this further step.
Frequent examinations have been found useful and inevitable in school training, both as a test of progress and still more as an encouragement.
If you tell a school of boys and girls in January that a grand examination will be held the following December, do you suppose they will work as well and as diligently as if they knew there will be short examinations at Easter and more important ones at midsummer?
Again, if you tell boys of ten years old, who are learning a little history, geography, and arithmetic, just in the Rule of Three and simple fractions, with perhaps a little Latin; of the Algebra and Euclid and Conic sections and higher Mathematics, and Latin and Greek verse and Hebrew and Philosophy, which they must some day confront, you will puzzle and paralyse their brains, and leave only a sense of misery and revolt and helplessness, which will quickly show forth in reckless despair, even concerning the tasks which are well within their present capacity.
G.o.d, in His Infinite Wisdom (of which ours is the feeblest reflection), acts in precisely the same way as wise fathers and wise teachers.
Your earth is more or less of an infant school, but before leaving it, some of you must prepare for the higher cla.s.ses and learn to take your own spiritual responsibilities.
It is seen that in these days of reaction and readjustment, many minds are puzzled and perplexed by the old doctrines, which they have outgrown, and which were never more than the outer husk and protection for the inner kernel--the casket for the jewel of spiritual truth.
The one term of probation--the one chance for progress--the immediate Heaven or h.e.l.l--the Great White Throne of Judgment, instant and inevitable--all these correspond with the frequent examinations, with the good and bad marks--the judging of the school work at the end of each term. The only difference lies in the fact that the schoolboy _knows_ he has other terms in front of him, and we are all aware that this is a very unfortunate fact where an idle boy is concerned.
How often you may hear them say: "Never mind! I'm a bit behind now--but I have three years more--I shall catch up later." And this is probably just what they fail to do; for with such characters it is always _to-morrow_ that is to see the reformation which so often comes only when life has taught its hard lessons to the defaulter.
Is it not apparent, therefore, that there has been wisdom and goodness in our very theological mistakes and illusions?
The opposition to spiritualistic teachings has its good and healthy side. It is really the fierce antagonism of the undeveloped nature towards a truth it dimly apprehends to be ahead of its own development; and, tiresome as it seems, and _is_ from one point of view, it is the best safeguard for the world at large.
Unimaginable horrors would come to pa.s.s upon the earth were Power as well as Knowledge put into the hands of the crude and undeveloped.
It would be arming savages with Winchester rifles and quick-firing guns.
_Never regret_, therefore, this opposition, even whilst fighting against it in individual cases.
Both _must_ grow together till the Harvest--the Tares and Wheat, the Crude and the Developed--and the former are the enormous majority.
This is the reason why all Truth must be born into each world through a fight and an agony; for it always comes as an advance upon normal conditions, no matter in which sphere it may be. And it is through the struggle that the Victory comes and the Light is born.
Let people jeer and deride when they hear of a future life, not so very different from your own; of houses and lectures and boats and horses, of pet animals, and so forth.
Those who jeer and deride or talk of blasphemy are still at the orthodox stage, when it is well for them to know only of _one_ school, of _one_ term, of _one_ chance, and of an immediate and final judgment for the deeds done on earth.
Others are old enough (spiritually speaking) to know the truth _i.e._--that G.o.d is in _all_, of an infinite series of spheres, through which each travelling soul must pa.s.s, gaining ever fresh light, growing ever into fresh knowledge and realisation of Divine Beauty and Divine Love; spheres differing little externally from the one left behind, but enormously in the capacities and qualities which by degrees the soul will unfold in the Cosmic Journey.
The outer will become more and more the result of the inner condition; for the creative faculty, scarcely born with you, flourishes in the ascending spiral. Down here you are babes, with your clothes made for you, your bottles filled for you, and dependent on others for the conditions of life, but by degrees you will enter on the full responsibility and the full joy and glory of independent existence, which yet will be unified--first into the life of the Affinities--the True and completed Being--and then into the life of that Body of _Christ_, of which St Paul speaks in his prophetic moments, where "there shall be neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, Bond nor Free," but _Christos_, the glorified and crowned Humanity, shall be all in all--G.o.d IN MAN; the coping-stone of the Building, whose foundations were laid as MAN (the Image and Likeness of G.o.d) IN G.o.d.