Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant)
Unity is the principle and the synthesis of numbers; it is the idea of God and of man; it is the alliance of reason and of faith. Faith cannot be opposed to reason; it is made necessary by love, it is identical with hope. To love is to believe and hope; and this triple outburst of the soul is called virtue, because, in order to make it, courage is necessary. But would there be any courage in that, if doubt were not possible? Now, to be able to doubt, is to doubt. Doubt is the force which balances faith, and it constitutes the whole merit of faith. Nature herself induces us to believe; but the formulae of faith are social expressions of the tendencies of faith at a given epoch. It is that which proves the Church to be infallible, evidentially and in fact. God is necessarily the most unknown of all beings because He is only defined by negative experience; He is all that we are not, He is the infinite opposed to the finite by hypothesis. Faith, and consequently hope and love, are so free that man, far from being able to impose them on others, does not even impose them on himself. “These,” says religion, “are graces.” Now, is it conceivable that grace should be subject to demand or exaction; that is to say, could any one wish to force men to a thing which comes freely and without price from heaven? One must not do more than desire it for them. To reason concerning faith is to think irrationally, since the object of faith is outside the universe of reason. If one asks me: – “Is there a God?” I reply, “I believe it.” “But are you sure of it?” – “If I were sure of it, I should not believe it, I should know it.” The formulation of faith is to agree upon the terms of the common hypothesis. Faith begins where science ends. To enlarge the scope of science is apparently to diminish that of faith; but in reality, it is to enlarge it in equal proportion, for it is to amplify its base. One can only define the unknown by its supposed and supposable relations with the known. Analogy was the sole dogma of the ancient magi. This dogma may indeed be called “mediator,” for it is half scientific, half hypothetical; half reason, and half poetry. This dogma has been, and will always be, the father of all others. What is the Man-God? He who realizes, in the most human life, the most divine ideal. Faith is a divination of intelligence and of love, when these are directed by the pointings of nature and of reason.
It is then of the essence of the things of faith to be inaccessible to science, doubtful for philosophy, and undefined for certainty. Faith is an hypothetical realization and a conventional determination of the last aims of hope. It is the attachment to the visible sign of the things which one does not see. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” To affirm without folly that God is or that He is not, one must begin with a reasonable or unreasonable definition of God. Now, this definition, in order to be reasonable, must be hypothetical, analogical, and the negation of the known finite. It is possible to deny a particular God, but the absolute God can no more be denied than He can be proved; He is a reasonable supposition in whom one believes. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” said the Master; to see with the heart is to believe; and if this faith is attached to the true good, it can never be deceived, provided that it does not seek to define too much in accordance with the dangerous inductions which spring from personal ignorance. Our judgments in questions of faith apply to ourselves; it will be done to us as we have believed; that is to say, we create ourselves in the image of our ideal. “Those who make their gods become like unto them,” says the psalmist, “and all they that put their trust in them.” The divine ideal of the ancient world made the civilization which came to an end, and one must not despair of seeing the god of our barbarous fathers become the devil of our more enlightened children. One makes devils with cast-off gods, and Satan is only so incoherent and so formless because he is made up of all the rags of ancient theogonies. He is the sphinx without a secret, the riddle without an answer, the mystery without truth, the absolute without reality and without light. Man is the son of God because God, manifested, realized, and incarnated upon earth, called Himself the Son of man. It is after having made God in the image of His intelligence and of His love, that humanity has understood the sublime Word who said “Let there be light!” Man is the form of the divine thought, and God is the idealized synthesis of human thought. Thus the Word of God reveals man, and the Word of man reveals God.
Man is the God of the world, and God is the man of heaven. Before saying “God wills,” man has willed. In order to understand and honour Almighty God, man must first be free. Had he obeyed and abstained from the fruit of the tree of knowledge through fear, man would have been innocent and stupid as the lamb, sceptical and rebellious as the angel of light. He himself cut the umbilical cord of his simplicity, and, falling free upon the earth, dragged God with him in his fall. And therefore, from this sublime fall, he rises again glorious, with the great convict of Calvary, and enters with Him into the kingdom of heaven. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to intelligence and love, both children of liberty. God has shown liberty to man in the image of a lovely woman, and in order to test his courage, He made the phantom of death pass between her and him.
Man loved, and felt himself to be God; he gave for her what God had just bestowed upon him – eternal hope. He leapt towards his bride across the shadow of death. Man possessed liberty; he had embraced life. Expiate now thy glory, O Prometheus! Thy heart, ceaselessly devoured, cannot die; it is thy vulture, it is Jupiter, who will die! One day we shall awake at last from the painful dreams of a tormented life; our ordeal will be finished, and we shall be sufficiently strong against sorrow to be immortal. Then we shall live in God with a more abundant life, and we shall descend into His works with the light of His thought, we shall be borne away into the infinite by the whisper of His love. We shall be without doubt the elder brethren of a new race, the angels of posterity. Celestial messengers, we shall wander in immensity, and the stars will be our gleaming ships. We shall transform ourselves into sweet visions to calm weeping eyes; we shall gather radiant lilies in unknown meadows, and we shall scatter their dew upon the earth. We shall touch the eyelid of the sleeping child, and rejoice the heart of its mother with the spectacle of the beauty of her well-beloved son!
The binary is more particularly the number of woman, mate of man and mother of society. Man is love in intelligence; woman is intelligence in love. Woman is the smile of the Creator content with himself, and it is after making her that He rested, says the divine parable. Woman stands before man because she is mother, and all is forgiven her in advance, because she brings forth in sorrow. Woman initiated herself first into immortality through death; then man saw her to be so beautiful, and understood her to be so generous, that he refused to survive her, and loved her more than his life, more than his eternal happiness. Happy outlaw, since she has been given to him as companion in his exile! But the children of Cain have revolted against the mother of Abel; they have enslaved their mother.
The beauty of woman has become a prey for the brutality of such men as cannot love. Thus woman closed her heart as if it were a secret sanctuary, and said to men unworthy of her: “I am virgin, but I will to become mother, and my son will teach you to love me.” O Eve! Salutation and adoration in thy fall! O Mary! Blessings and adoration in thy sufferings and in thy glory! Crucified and holy one who didst survive thy God that thou mightst bury thy son, be thou for us the final word of the divine revelation! Moses called God “Lord”; Jesus called Him “My Father,” and we, thinking of thee, may say to Providence, “You are our mother.” Children of woman, let us forgive fallen woman! Children of woman, let us adore regenerate woman! Children of woman, who have slept upon her breast, been cradled in her arms, and consoled by her caresses, let us love her, and let us love each other!
The Ternary is the number of creation. God creates Himself eternally, and the infinite which He fills with His works is an incessant and infinite creation. Supreme love contemplates itself in beauty as in a mirror, and It essays all forms as adornments, for It is the lover of life. Man also affirms himself and creates himself; he adorns himself with his trophies of victory, he enlightens himself with his own conceptions, he clothes himself with his works as with a wedding garment. The great week of creation has been imitated by human genius, divining the forms of nature. Every day has furnished a new revelation, every new king of the world has been for a day the image and the incarnation of God!
Sublime dream which explains the mysteries of India, and justifies all symbolisms! The lofty conception of the man-God corresponds to the creation of Adam, and Christianity, like the first days of man in the earthly paradise, has been only an aspiration and a widowhood. We wait for the worship of the bride and of the mother; we shall aspire to the wedding of the New Covenant. Then the poor, the blind, the outlaws of the old world will be invited to the feast, and will receive a wedding garment. They will gaze the one upon the other with inexpressible tenderness and a smile that is ineffable because they have wept so long.
The Quaternary is the number of force. It is the ternary completed by its product, the rebellious unity reconciled to the sovereign trinity. In the first fury of life, man, having forgotten his mother, no longer understood God but as an inflexible and jealous father. The sombre Saturn, armed with his parricidal scythe, set himself to devour his children. Jupiter had eyebrows which shook Olympus; Jehovah wielded thunders which deafened the solitudes of Sinai. Nevertheless, the father of men, being on occasion drunken like Noah, let the world perceive the mysteries of life. Psyche, made divine by her torments, became the bride of Eros; Adonis, raised from death, found again his Venus in Olympus; Job, victorious over evil, recovered more than he had lost.
The law is a test of courage. To love life more than one fears the menaces of death is to merit life. The elect are those who dare; woe to the timid! Thus the slaves of law, who make themselves the tyrants of conscience and the servants of fear, and those who begrudge that man should hope, and the Pharisees of all the synagogues and of all the churches, are those who receive the reproofs and the curses of the Father. Was not the Christ excommunicated and crucified by the synagogue? Was not Savonarola burned by the order of the sovereign pontiff of the Christian religion? Are not the Pharisees to-day just what they were in the time of Caiaphas? If any one speaks to them in the name of intelligence and love, will they listen?
In rescuing the children of liberty from the tyranny of the Pharaohs, Moses inaugurated the reign of the Father. In breaking the insupportable yoke of mosaic pharisaism, Jesus welcomed all men to the brotherhood of the only son of God. When the last ideals fall, when the last material chains of conscience break, when the last of them that killed the prophets and the last of them that stifled the Word are confounded, then will be the reign of the Holy Ghost. Then, Glory to the Father who drowned the host of Pharaoh in the Red Sea! Glory to the Son, who tore the veil of the temple, and whose cross, overweighing the crown of the Caesars, broke the forehead of the Caesars against the earth! Glory to the Holy Ghost, who shall sweep from the earth by His terrible breath all the thieves and all the executioners, to make room for the banquet of the children of God! Glory to the Holy Ghost, who has promised victory over earth and over heaven to the angel of liberty! The angel of liberty was born before the dawn of the first day, before even the awakening of intelligence, and God called him the morning star. O Lucifer! Voluntarily and disdainfully thou didst detach thyself from the heaven where the sun drowned thee in his splendour, to plow with thine own rays the unworked fields of night! Thou shinest when the sun sets, and thy sparkling gaze precedes the daybreak! Thou fallest to rise again; thou tastest of death to understand life better!
For the ancient glories of the world, thou art the evening star; for truth renascent, the lovely star of dawn. Liberty is not licence, for licence is tyranny. Liberty is the guardian of duty, because it reclaims right. Lucifer, of whom the dark ages have made the genius of evil, will be truly the angel of light when, having conquered liberty at the price of infamy, he will make use of it to submit himself to eternal order, inaugurating thus the glories of voluntary obedience. Right is only the root of duty; one must possess in order to give. This is how a lofty and profound poetry explains the fall of the angels.
God hath given to His spirits light and life; then He said to them: “Love!” “What is – to love?” replied the spirits. “To love is to give oneself to others,” replied God. “Those who love will suffer, but they will be loved.” “We have the right to give nothing, and we wish to suffer nothing,” said the spirits, hating love. “Remain in your right,” answered God, “and let us separate! I and Mine wish to suffer and even to die, to love. It is our duty!” The fallen angel is then he who, from the beginning, refused to love; he does not love, and that is his whole torture; he does not give, and that is his poverty; he does not suffer, and that is his nothingness; he does not die, and that is his exile. The fallen angel is not Lucifer the light-bearer; it is Satan, who calumniated love. To be rich is to give; to give nothing is to be poor; to live is to love; to love nothing is to be dead; to be happy is to devote oneself; to exist only for oneself is to cast away oneself, and to exile oneself in hell. Heaven is the harmony of generous thoughts; hell is the conflict of cowardly instincts. The man of right is Cain who kills Abel from envy; the man of duty is Abel who dies for Cain for love. And such has been the mission of Christ, the great Abel of humanity. It is not for right that we should dare all, it is for duty. Duty is the expansion and the enjoyment of liberty; isolated right is the father of slavery.
Duty is devotion; right is selfishness. Duty is sacrifice; right is theft and rapine. Duty is love, and right is hate. Duty is infinite life; right is eternal death. If one must fight to conquer right, it is only to acquire the power of duty: what use have we for freedom, unless to love and to devote ourselves to God? If one must break the law, it is when law imprisons love in fear. “He that saveth his life shall lose it,” says the holy Book; “and he who consents to lose it will save it.” Duty is love; perish every obstacle to love! Silence, ye oracles of hate! Destruction to the false gods of selfishness and fear! Shame to the slaves, the misers of love! God loves prodigal children!
The Quinary is the number of religion, for it is the number of God united to that of woman. Faith is not the stupid credulity of an awestruck ignorance. Faith is the consciousness and the confidence of Love. Faith is the cry of reason, which persists in denying the absurd, even in the presence of the unknown. Faith is a sentiment necessary to the soul, just as breathing is to life; it is the dignity of courage, and the reality of enthusiasm. Faith does not consist of the affirmation of this symbol or that, but of a genuine and constant aspiration towards the truths which are veiled by all symbolisms.
If a man rejects an unworthy idea of divinity, breaks its false images, revolts against hateful idolaters, you will call him an atheist! The authors of the persecutions in fallen Rome called the first Christians atheists, because they did not adore the idols of Caligula or of Nero. To deny a religion, even to deny all religions rather than adhere to formulae which conscience rejects, is a courageous and sublime act of faith.
Every man who suffers for his convictions is a martyr of faith. He explains himself badly, it may be, but he prefers justice and truth to everything; do not condemn him without understanding him. To believe in the supreme truth is not to define it, and to declare that one believes in it is to recognize that one does not know it. The Apostle St. Paul declares all faith contained in these two things: – To believe that God is, and that He rewards them who seek Him. Faith is a greater thing than all religions, because it states the articles of belief with less precision. Any dogma constitutes but a belief, and belongs to our particular communion; faith is a sentiment which is common to the whole of humanity.
The more one discusses with the object of obtaining greater accuracy, the less one believes; every new dogma is a belief which a sect appropriates to itself, and thus, in some sort, steals from universal faith. Let us leave sectarians to make and remake their dogmas; let us leave the superstitious to detail and formulate their superstitions. As the Master said, “Let the dead bury their dead!” Let us believe in the indicible truth; let us believe in that Absolute which reason admits without understanding it; let us believe in what we feel without knowing it! Let us believe in the supreme reason! Let us believe in Infinite Love, and pity the stupidities of scholasticism and the barbarities of false religion! O man! Tell me what thou hopest, and I will tell thee what thou art worth.
Thou dost pray, thou dost fast, thou dost keep vigil; dost thou then believe that so thou wilt escape alone, or almost alone, from the enormous ruin of mankind – devoured by a jealous God? Thou art impious, and a hypocrite. Dost thou turn life into an orgie, and hope for the slumber of nothingness? Thou art sick, and insensate. Art thou ready to suffer as others and for others, and hope for the salvation of all? Thou art a wise and just man. To hope is to fear not. To be afraid of God, what blasphemy! The act of hope is prayer. Prayer is the flowering of the soul in eternal wisdom and in eternal love. It is the gaze of the spirit towards truth, and the sigh of the heart towards supreme beauty. It is the smile of the child upon its mother.
It is the murmur of the lover, who reaches out towards the kisses of his mistress. It is the soft joy of a loving soul as it expands in an ocean of love. It is the sadness of the bride in the absence of the bridegroom. It is the sigh of the traveller who thinks of his fatherland. It is the thought of the poor man who works to support his wife and children. Let us pray in silence; let us raise toward our unknown Father a look of confidence and of love; let us accept with faith and resignation the part which He assigns to us in the toils of life, and every throb of our hearts will be a word of prayer! Have we need to inform God of what we ask from Him? Does not He know what is necessary for us? If we weep, let us offer Him our tears; if we rejoice, let us turn towards Him our smile; if He smite us, let us bow the head; if He caress us, let us sleep within His arms!
Our prayer will be perfect, when we pray without knowing whom we pray.
Prayer is not a noise which strikes the ear; it is a silence which penetrates the heart. Soft tears come to moisten the eyes, and sighs escape like incense smoke. One feels oneself in love, ineffably in love, with all that is beauty, truth, and justice; one throbs with a new life, and one fears no more to die. For prayer is the eternal life of intelligence and love; it is the life of God upon earth. Love one another – that is the Law and the Prophets! Meditate, and understand this word. And when you have understood, read no more, seek no more, doubt no more – love! Be no more wise, be no more learned – love! That is the whole doctrine of true religion; religion means charity, and God Himself is only love. I have already said to you, to love is to give. The impious man is he who absorbs others. The pious man is he who loses himself in humanity.
If the heart of man concentrate in himself the fire with which God animates it, it is a hell which devours all, and fills itself only with ashes; if he radiates it without, it becomes a tender sun of love. Man owes himself to his family; his family owes itself to the fatherland; and the fatherland to humanity. The egoism of man merits isolation and despair; that of the family, ruin and exile; that of the fatherland, war and invasion. The man who isolates himself from every human love, saying, “I will serve God,” deceives himself. For, said St. John the Apostle, if he loveth not his neighbour whom he hath see, how shall he love God whom he hath not seen? One must render to God that which is God’s, but one must not refuse even to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. God is He who gives life; Caesar can only give death. One must love God, and not fear Caesar; as it is written in the Holy Book, “He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword.”
You wish to be good? Then be just. You wish to be just? Then be free. The vices which make man like the brute are the first enemies of his liberty. Consider the drunkard, and tell me if this unclean brute can be called free! The miser curses the life of his father, and, like the crow, hungers for corpses. The goal of the ambitious man is – ruins; it is the delirium of envy! The debauchee spits upon the breast of his mother, and fills with abortions the entrails of death. All these loveless hearts are punished by the most cruel of all tortures, hate. Because – take it to heart! – the expiation is implicit in the sin. The man who does evil is like an earthen pot ill-made; he will break himself: fatality wills it. With the debris of the worlds, God makes stars; with the debris of souls He makes angels.
The Senary is the number of initiation by ordeal; it is the number of equilibrium, it is the hieroglyph of the knowledge of Good and Evil. He who seeks the origin of evil, seeks the source of what is not. Evil is the disordered appetite of good, the unfruitful attempt of an unskilful will. Every one possesses the fruit of his work, and poverty is only the spur to toil. For the flock of men, suffering is like the shepherd dog, who bites the wool of the sheep to put them back in the right way. It is because of shadow that we are able to see light; because of cold that we feel heat; because of pain that we are sensible to pleasure. Evil is then for us the occasion and the beginning of good. But, in the dreams of our imperfect intelligence, we accuse the work of Providence, through failing to understand it. We resemble the ignorant person who judges the picture by the beginning of the sketch, and says, when the head is done, “What! Has this figure no body?” Nature remains calm, and accomplishes its work.
The ploughshare is not cruel when it tears the bosom of the earth, and the great revolutions of the world are the husbandry of God. There is a place for everything: to savage peoples, barbarous masters; to cattle, butchers; to men, judges and fathers. If time could change the sheep into lions, they would eat the butchers and the shepherds. Sheep never change because they do not instruct themselves; but peoples instruct themselves. Shepherds and butchers of the people, you are then right to regard as your enemies those who speak to your flock! Flocks who know yet only your shepherds, and who wish to remain ignorant of their dealings with the butchers, it is excusable that you should stone them who humiliate you and disturb you, in speaking to you of your rights. O Christ! The authorities condemn Thee, Thy disciples deny Thee, the people curses Thee, and demands Thy murder; only Thy mother weeps for Thee, even God abandons Thee! “Eli! Eli! lama sabachthani!”
The Septenary is the great biblical number. It is the key of the Creation in the books of Moses and the symbol of all religion. Moses left five books, and the Law is complete in two testaments. The Bible is not a history, it is a collection of poems, a book of allegories and images.
Adam and Eve are only the primitive types of humanity; the tempter serpent is time which tests; the Tree of Knowledge is ‘right’; the expiation by toil is duty.
Cain and Abel represent the flesh and the spirit, force and intelligence, violence and harmony. The giants are those who usurped the earth in ancient times; the flood was a great revolution. The ark is tradition preserved in a family: religion at this period becomes a mystery and the property of the race. Ham was cursed for having revealed it. Nimrod and Babel are the two primitive allegories of the despot, and of the universal empire which has always filled the dreams of men, – a dream whose fulfilment was sought successively by the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, Alexander, Rome, Napoleon, the successors of Peter the Great, and always unfinished because of the dispersion of interests, symbolized by the confusion of tongues. The universal empire could not realize itself by force, but by intelligence and love. Thus, to Nimrod, the man of savage ‘right,’ the Bible opposed Abraham, the man of duty, who goes voluntarily into exile in order to seek liberty and strife in a strange country, which he seizes by virtue of his “Idea.”
He has a sterile wife, his thought, and a fertile slave, his force; but when force has produced its fruit, thought becomes fertile; and the son of intelligence drives into exile the child of force. The man of intelligence is submitted to rude tests; he must confirm his conquests by sacrifices. God orders him to immolate his son, that is to say, doubt ought to test dogma, and the intellectual man should be ready to sacrifice everything on the altar of supreme reason. Then God intervenes: universal reason yields to the efforts of labour, and shows herself to science; the material side of dogma is alone immolated. . This is the meaning of the ram caught by its horns in a thicket. The history of Abraham is, then, a symbol in the ancient manner, and contains a lofty revelation of the destinies of the human soul. Taken literally, it is an absurd and revolting story. Did not St. Augustine take literally the Golden Ass of Apuleius? Poor great men!
The history of Isaac is another legend. Rebecca is the type of the oriental woman, laborious, hospitable, partial in her affections, shrewd and wily in her manoeuvres. Jacob and Esau are again the two types of Cain and Abel; but here Abel avenges himself: the emancipated intelligence triumphs by cunning. The whole of the genius of the Jews is in the character of Jacob, the patient and laborious supplanter who yields to the wrath of Esau, becomes rich, and buys his brother’s forgiveness. One must never forget that, when the ancients want to philosophize, they tell a story.
The history or legend of Joseph contains, in germ, the whole genius of the Gospel; and the Christ, misunderstood by His people, must often have wept in reading over again that scene, where the Governor of Egypt throws himself on the neck of Benjamin, with the great cry of “I am Joseph!” Israel becomes the people of God, that is to say, the conservator of the idea, and the depositaries of the word. This idea is that of human independence, and of royalty, by means of work; but one hides it with care, like a precious seed. A painful and indelible sign is imprinted on the initiates; every image of the truth is forbidden, and the children of Jacob watch, sword in hand, around the unity of the tabernacle. Hamor and Shechem wish to introduce themselves forcibly into the holy family, and perish with their people after undergoing a feigned initiation. In order to dominate the vulgar, it is already necessary that the sanctuary should surround itself with sacrifices and with terror.
The servitude of the children of Jacob paves the way for their deliverance: for they have an idea, and one does not enchain an idea; they have a religion, and one does not violate a religion; they are, in fine, a people, and one does not enchain a real people. Persecution stirs up avengers; the idea incarnates itself in a man; Moses springs up; Pharaoh falls; and the column of smoke and flame, which goes before a freed people, advances majestically into the desert.
Christ is priest and king by intelligence and by love. He has received the holy unction, the unction of genius, faith and virtue, which is force. He comes when the priesthood is worn out, when the old symbols have no more virtue, when the beacon of intelligence is extinguished.
He comes to recall Israel to life, and if he cannot galvanize Israel, slain by the Pharisees, into life, he will resurrect the world given over to the dead worship of idols. Christ is the right to do one’s duty. Man has the right to do his duty, and he has no other right. O man! thou hast the right to resist even unto death any who prevents thee from doing thy duty. Mother! Thy child is drowning; a man prevents thee from helping him; thou strikest this man, thou dost run to save thy son! Who, then, will dare to condemn thee? Christ came to oppose the right of duty to the duty of right. ‘Right,’ with the Jews, was the doctrine of the Pharisees.
And, indeed, they seemed to have acquired the privilege of dogmatizing; were they not the legitimate heirs of the synagogue? They had the right to condemn the Saviour, and the Saviour knew that His duty was to resist them. Christ is the soul of protest. But the protest of what? Of the flesh against the intelligence? No! Of right against duty? No! Of the physical against the moral? No! No! Of imagination against universal reason? Of folly against wisdom? No, a thousand times No, and once more No! Christ is the reality, duty, which protests eternally against the ideality, right. He is the emancipation of the spirit which breaks the slavery of the flesh. He is devotion in revolt against egoism. He is the sublime modesty which replies to pride: “I will not obey thee!” Christ is unmated; Christ is solitary; Christ is sad: Why? Because woman has prostituted herself. Because society is guilty of theft. Because selfish joy is impious. Christ is judged, condemned, and executed; and men adore Him! This happened in a world perhaps as serious as our own. Judges of the world in which we live, pay attention, and think of Him who will judge your judgments! But, before dying, the Saviour bequeathed to His children the immortal sign of salvation, Communion. Communion! Common union! the final word of the Saviour of the world! “The Bread and the Wine shared among all,” said He, “this is my flesh and my blood.” He gave His flesh to the executioners, His blood to the earth which drank it. Why? In order that all may partake of the bread of intelligence, and of the wine of love. O sign of the union of men! O Round Table of universal chivalry! O banquet of fraternity and equality! When will you be better understood? Martyrs of humanity, all ye who have given your life in order that all should have the bread which nourishes and the wine which fortifies, do ye not also say, placing your hands on the signs of the universal communion: “This is our flesh and our blood”?
And you, men of the whole world, you whom the Master calls His brothers; oh, do you not feel that the universal bread, the fraternal bread, the bread of the communion, is God? Retailers of the Crucified One! All you who are not ready to give your blood, your flesh and your life to humanity, you are not worthy of the Communion of the Son of God! Do not let His blood flow upon you, for it would brand your forehead! Do not approach your lips to the heart of God, He would feel your sting! Do not drink the blood of the Christ, it will burn your entrails; it is quite sufficient that it should have flowed uselessly for you!
THE NUMBER EIGHT
The Ogdoad is the number of reaction and of equilibrating justice. Every action produces a reaction. This is the universal law of the world.
Christianity must needs produce anti-Christianity. Antichrist is the shadow, the foil, the proof of Christ. Antichrist already produced itself in the Church in the time of the Apostles: St. Paul said: – “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked One be revealed. …”Thess. II. 7,8. This passage is presumably that referred to by the author. Cf. 1 John IV. 3, and II, 18. TRANS. The Protestants said: “Antichrist is the Pope.” The Pope replied: “Every heretic is an Antichrist.” The Antichrist is no more the Pope than Luther; the Antichrist is the spirit opposed to that of Christ. It is the usurpation of right for the sake of right; it is the pride of domination and the despotism of thought. It is the selfishness, self-styled religious, of Protestants, as well as the credulous and imperious ignorance of bad Catholics. The Antichrist is what divides men instead of uniting them; it is a spirit of dispute, the obstinacy of the theologians and sectarians, the impious desire of appropriating the truth to oneself, and excluding others from it, or of forcing the whole world to submit to the narrow yoke of our judgments. The Antichrist is the priest who curses instead of blessing, who drives away instead of attracting, who scandalizes instead of edifying, who damns instead of saving. It is the hateful fanaticism which discourages good-will.
It is the worship of death, sadness, and ugliness. “What career shall we choose for our son?” have said many stupid parents; “he is mentally and bodily weak, and he is without a spark of courage: – we will make a priest of him, so that he may ‘live by the altar.'” They have not understood that the altar is not a manger for slothful animals. Look at the unworthy priests, contemplate these pretended servants of the altar! What do they say to your heart, these obese or cadaverous men with the lack-lustre eyes, and pinched or gaping mouths?
Hear them talk: what does it teach you, their disagreeable and monotonous noise? They pray as they sleep, and they sacrifice as they eat. They are machines full of bread, meat and wine, and of senseless words. And when they plume themselves, like the oyster in the sun, on being without thought and without love, one says that they have peace of soul! They have the peace of the brute. For man, that of the tomb is better: these are the priests of folly and ignorance, these are the ministers of Antichrist. The true priest of Christ is a man who lives, suffers, loves and fights for justice. He does not dispute, he does not reprove; he sends out pardon, intelligence and love.
The true Christian is a stranger to the sectarian spirit; he is all things to all men, and looks on all men as the children of a common father, who means to save them all. The whole cult has for him only a sense of sweetness and of love: he leaves to God the secrets of justice, and understands only charity. He looks on the wicked as invalids whom one must pity and cure; the world, with its errors and vices, is to him God’s hospital, and he wishes to serve in it. He does not think that he is better than any one else; he says only, “So long as I am in good health, let me serve others; and when I must fall and die, perhaps others will take my place and serve.”
THE NUMBER NINE
This is the hermit of the Tarot; the number which refers to initiates and to prophets. The prophets are solitaries, for it is their fate that none should ever hear them. They see differently from others; they forefeel misfortunes. So, people imprison them and kill them, or mock them, repulse them as if they were lepers, and leave them to die of hunger. Then, when the predictions come true, they say, “It is these people who have brought us misfortune.” Now, as is always the case on the eve of great disasters, our streets are full of prophets. I have met some of them in the prisons, I have seen others who were dying forgotten in garrets. The whole great city has seen one of them whose silent prophecy was to turn ceaselessly as he walked, covered with rags, in the palace of luxury and riches. I have seen one of them whose face shone like that of Christ: he had callosities on his hands, and wore the workman’s blouse; with clay he kneaded epics. He twisted together the sword of right and the sceptre of duty; and upon this column of gold and steel he placed the creative sign of love. One day, in a great popular assembly, he went down into the road with a piece of bread in his hand which he broke and distributed, saying: “Bread of God, do thou make bread for all!”
I know another of them who cried: “I will no longer adore the god of the devil! I will not have a hangman for my God!” And they thought that he blasphemed. No; but the energy of his faith overflowed in inexact and imprudent words. He said again in the madness of his wounded charity: “The liabilities of all men are common, and they expiate each other’s faults, as they make merit for each other by their virtues. “The penalty of sin is death. “Sin itself, moreover, is a penalty, and the greatest of penalties. A great crime is nothing but a great misfortune. “The worst of men is he who thinks himself better than his follows. “Passionate men are excusable, because they are passive; passion means suffering, and also redemption through sorrow. “What we call liberty is nothing but the all-mightiness of divine compulsion. The martyrs said: ‘It is better to obey God than man’.” “The least perfect act of love is worth more than the best act of piety.” “Judge not; speak hardly at all; love and act.” Another prophet came and said: “Protest against bad doctrines by good works, but do not separate yourselves. “Rebuild all the altars, purify all the temples, and hold yourselves in readiness for the visit of the Spirit. “Let every one pray in his own fashion, and hold communion with his own; but do not condemn others. “A religious practice is never contemptible, for it is the sign of a great and holy thought.
“To pray together is to communicate in the same hope, the same faith,and the same charity. “The sign by itself is nothing; it is the faith which sanctifies it. “Religion is the most sacred and the strongest bond of human association, and to perform an act of religion is to perform an act of humanity.” When men understand at last that one must not dispute about things about which one is ignorant, When they feel that a little charity is worth more than much influence and domination, When the whole world respects what even God respects in the least of His creatures, the spontaneity of obedience and the liberty of duty,
Then there will be no more than one religion in the world, the Christian and universal religion, the true Catholic religion, which will no longer deny itself by restrictions of place and of persons. “Woman,” said the Saviour to the woman of Samaria, “Verily I say unto thee, that the time cometh when men shall no longer worship God, either in Jerusalem, or on this mountain; for God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
THE ABSOLUTE NUMBER OF THE QABALAH
The key of the Sephiroth.
THE NUMBER ELEVEN
Eleven is the number of force; it is that of strife and martyrdom. Every man who dies for an idea is a martyr, for in him the aspirations of the spirit have triumphed over the fears of the animal. Every man who falls in war is a martyr, for he dies for others. Every man who dies of starvation is a martyr, for he is like a soldier struck down in the battle of life. Those who die in defence of right are as holy in their sacrifice as the victims of duty, and in the great struggles and revolutions against power, martyrs fell equally on both sides. Right being the root of duty, our duty is to defend our rights. What is a crime? The exaggeration of a right. Murder and theft are negations of society; it is the isolated despotism of an individual who usurps royalty, and makes war at his own risk and peril. Crime should doubtless be repressed, and society must defend itself; but who is so just, so great, so pure, as to pretend that he has the right to punish? Peace then to all who fall in war, even in unlawful war! For they have staked their heads and they have lost them; they have paid, and what more can we ask of them?
Honour to all those who fight bravely and loyally! Shame only on the traitors and cowards!
Christ died between two thieves, and He took one of them with Him to heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. God bestows His almighty power on love. He loves to triumph over hate, but the lukewarm He spueth forth from His mouth. Duty is to live, were it but for an instant! It is fine to have reigned for a day, even for an hour! though it were beneath the sword of Damocles, or upon the pyre of Sardanapalus! But it is finer to have seen at one’s feet all the crowns of the world, and to have said, “I will be the king of the poor, and my throne shall be on Calvary.”
There is one man stronger than the man that slays; it is he who dies to save others. There are no isolated crimes and no solitary expiations. There are no personal virtues, nor are there any wasted devotions. Whoever is not without reproach is the accomplice of all evil; and whoever is not absolutely perverse, may participate in all good. For this reason an agony is always an humanitarian expiation, and every head that falls upon the scaffold may be honoured and praised as the head of a martyr. For this reason also, the noblest and the holiest of martyrs could inquire of his own conscience, find himself deserving of the penalty that he was about to undergo, and say, saluting the sword that was ready to strike him, “Let justice be done!” Pure victims of the Roman Catacombs, Jews and Protestants massacred by unworthy Christians! Priests of l’Abbaye and les Carmes, victims of the Reign of Terror, butchered royalists, revolutionaries sacrificed in your turn, soldiers of our great armies who have sown the world with your bones, all you who have suffered the penalty of death, workers, strivers, darers of every kind, brave children of Prometheus, who have feared neither the lightning nor the vulture, all honour to your scattered ashes! Peace and veneration to your memories! You are the heroes of progress, martyrs of humanity!
THE NUMBER TWELVE
Twelve is the cyclic number; it is that of the universal Creed. Here is a translation in alexandrines of the unrestricted magical and Catholic creed: I do believe in God, almighty sire of man. One God, who did create the universe, his plan. I do believe in Him, the Son, the chief of men, Word and magnificence of the supreme Amen.
He is the living thought of Love’s eternal might, God manifest in flesh, the Action of the Light. Desired in every place and every period, But not a God that one may separate from God. Descended among men to free the earth from fate, He in His mother did the woman consecrate.
He was the man whom heaven’s sweet wisdom did adorn; To suffer and to die as men do He was born. Proscribed by ignorance, accused by envy and strife, He died upon the cross that He might give us life. All who accept His aid to guide and to sustain By His example may to God like Him attain.
He rose from death to reign throughout the ages’ dance; He is the sun that melts the clouds of ignorance. His precepts, better known and mightier soon to be, Shall judge the quick and dead for all eternity. I do believe in God’s most Holy Spirit, whose fire The heart and mind of saints and prophets did inspire.
He is a Breath of life and of fecundity, Proceeding both from God and from humanity. I do believe in one most holy brotherhood Of just men that revere heaven’s ordinance of good. I do believe one place, one pontiff, and one right, One symbol of one God, in one intent unite. I do believe that death by changing us renews, And that in man as God life sheds immortal dews.
THE NUMBER THIRTEEN
Thirteen is the number of death and of birth; it is that of property and of inheritance, of society and of family, of war and of treaties. The basis of society is the exchange of right, duty and good faith. Right is property, exchange is necessity, good faith is duty. He who wants to receive more than he gives, or who wants to receive without giving, is a thief. Property is the right to dispose of a portion of the common wealth; it is not the right to destroy, nor the right to sequestrate.
To destroy or sequestrate the common wealth is not to possess; it is to steal. I say common wealth, because the true proprietor of all things is God, who wishes all things to belong to everybody. Whatever you may do, at your death you will carry away nothing of this world’s goods. Now, that which must be taken away from you one day is not really yours. It has only been lent to you.
As to the usufruct, it is the result of work; but even work is not an assured guarantee of possession, and war may come with devastation and fire to displace property. Make then good use of those things which perish, O you who will perish before they do! Consider that egoism provokes egoism, and that the immorality of the rich man will answer for the crimes of the poor. What does the poor man wish, if he is honest? He wishes for work. Use your rights, but do your duty: the duty of the rich man is to spread wealth; wealth which does not circulate is dead; do not hoard death!
A sophist has said, “Property is robbery,” and he doubtless wished to speak of property absorbed in itself, withdrawn from free exchange, turned from common use. If such were his thought, he might go further, and say that such a suppression of public life is indeed assassination. It is the crime of monopoly, which public instinct has always looked upon as treason to the human race. The family is a natural society which results from marriage. Marriage is the union of two beings joined by love, who promise each other mutual devotion in the interest of the children who may be born.
Married persons who have a child, and who separate, are impious. Do they then wish to execute the judgment of Solomon and hew the child asunder? To vow eternal love is puerile; sexual love is an emotion, divine doubtless, but accidental, involuntary and transitory; but the promise of reciprocal devotion is the essence of marriage and the fundamental principle of the family. The sanction and the guarantee of this promise must then be an absolute confidence. Every jealousy is a suspicion, and every suspicion is an outrage. The real adultery is the breach of this trust: the woman who complains of her husband to another man; the man who confides to another woman the disappointments or the hopes of his heart, – these do, indeed, betray conjugal faith.
The surprises which one’s senses spring upon one are only infidelities on account of the impulses of the heart which abandons itself more or less to the whispers of pleasure. Moreover, these are human faults for which one must blush, and which one ought to hide: they are indecencies which one must avoid in advance by removing opportunity, but which one must never seek to surprise: morality proscribes scandal.Every scandal is a turpitude. One is not indecent because one possesses organs which modesty does not name, but one is obscene when one exhibits them. Husbands, hide your domestic wounds; do not strip your wives naked before the laughter of the mob!
Women, do not advertise the discomforts of the conjugal bed: to do so is to write yourselves prostitutes in public opinion. It needs a lofty degree of courage to keep conjugal faith; it is a pact of heroism of which only great souls can understand the whole extent. Marriages which break are not marriages: they are couplings. A woman who abandons her husband, what can she become? She is no more a wife, and she is not a widow; what is she then? She is an apostate from honour who is forced to be licentious because she is neither virgin nor free. A husband who abandons his wife prostitutes her, and deserves the infamous name that one applies to the lovers of lost women.
Marriage is then sacred and indissoluble when it really exists.
But it cannot really exist, except for beings of a lofty intelligence and of a noble heart. The animals do not marry, and men who live like animals undergo the fatalities of the brute nature. They ceaselessly make unfortunate attempts to act reasonably. Their promises are attempts at and imitations of promises; their marriages, attempts at and imitations of marriage; their loves, attempts at and imitations of love. They always wish, and never will; they are always undertaking and never completing. For such people, only the repressive side of law applies. Such beings may have a litter, but they never have a family: marriage and family are the rights of the perfect man, the emancipated man, the man who is intelligent and free. Ask also the annals of the Courts, and read the history of parricides. Raise the black veil from off all those chopped heads, and ask them what they thought of marriage and of the family, what milk they sucked, what caresses ennobled them. … Then shudder, all you who do not give to your children the bread of intelligence and of love, all you who do not sanction paternal authority by the virtue of a good example!
Those wretches were orphans in spirit and in heart, and they have avenged their birth. We live in a century when more than ever the family is misunderstood in all that it possesses which partakes of the august and the sacred: material interest is killing intelligence and love; the lessons of experience are despised, the things of God are hawked about the street. The flesh insults the spirit, fraud laughs in the face of loyalty. No more idealism, no more justice: human life has murdered both its father and its mother. Courage and patience! This century will go where great criminals should go. Look at it, how sad it is! Weariness is the black veil of its face … the tumbril rolls on, and the shuddering crown follows it.
Soon one more century will be judged by history, and one will write upon a mighty tomb of ruins: “Here ends the parricide century! The century which murdered its God and its Christ!” In war, one has the right to kill, in order not to die: but in the battle of life the most sublime of rights is that of dying in order not to kill. Intelligence and love should resist oppression unto death – but never unto murder. Brave man, the life of him who has offended you is in your hands; for he is master of the life of others who cares not for his own… Crush him beneath your greatness: pardon him! “But is it forbidden to kill the tiger which threatens us?” “If it is a tiger with a human face, it is finer to let him devour us, – yet, for all that, morality has here nothing to say.” “But if the tiger threatens my children?”
“Let Nature herself reply to you!” Harmodius and Aristogiton had festivals and statues in Ancient Greece. The Bible has consecrated the names of Judith and Ehud, and one of the most sublime figures of the Holy Book is that of Samson, blind and chained, pulling down the columns of the temple, as he cried: “Let me die with the Philistines!” And yet, do you think that, if Jesus, before dying, had gone to Rome to plunge his dagger in the heart of Tiberius, He would have saved the world, as He did, in forgiving His executioners, and in dying for even Tiberius?
Did Brutus save Roman liberty by killing Caesar? In killing Caligula, Chaerea only made place for Claudius and Nero. To protest against violence by violence, is to justify it, and to force it to reproduce itself. But to triumph over evil by good, over selfishness by selfabnegation, over ferocity by pardon, that is the secret of Christianity, and it is that of eternal victory. “I have seen the place where the earth still bled from the murder of “Abel,” and on that place there ran a brook of tears. Under the guidance of the centuries, myriads of men moved on, letting fall their tears into the brook. And Eternity, crouching mournful, gazed upon the tears which fell; she counted them one by one, and there were never enough to them to wash away one stain of blood. But between two multitudes and two ages came the Christ, a pale and radiant figure.
And in the earth of blood and tears, He planted the vine of fraternity; and the tears and the blood, sucked up by the roots of the divine tree, became the delicious sap of the grape, which is destined to intoxicate with love the children of the future.
THE NUMBER FOURTEEN
Fourteen is the number of fusion, of association, and of universal unity, and it is in the name of what it represents that we shall here make an appeal to the nations, beginning with the most ancient and the most holy. Children of Israel, why, in the midst of the movement of the nations, do you rest immobile, guardians of the tombs of your fathers? Your fathers are not here, they are risen: for the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, is not the God of the dead! Why do you always impress upon your offspring the bloody sigil of the knife? God no longer wishes to separate you from other men; be our brethren, and eat with us the consecrated Bread of peace on altars that blood stains never.
The law of Moses is accomplished: read your books and understand that you have been a blind and hard-hearted race, even as all your prophets said to you. You have also been a courageous race, a race that persevered in strife. Children of Israel, become the children of God: Understand and love!
God has wiped from your forehead the brand of Cain, and the peoples seeing you pass will no longer say, “There go the Jews!” They will cry, “Room for our brethren! Room for our elders in the Faith!” And we shall go every year to eat the passover with you in the city of the New Jerusalem. And we shall take our rest under your vine and under your fig-tree; for you will be once more the friend of the traveller, in memory of Abraham, of Tobias, and of the angels who visited them. And in memory of Him who said: “He who receiveth the least of these My little ones, receiveth Me.” For then you will no longer refuse an asylum in your house and in your heart to your brother Joseph, whom you sold to the Gentiles. Because he has become powerful in the land of Egypt where you sought bread in the days of famine. And he has remembered his father Jacob, and Benjamin his young brother, and he pardons you your jealousy, and embraces you with tears. Children of true believers, we will sing with you: “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His prophet!” Say with the children of Israel: “There is no God but God, and Moses is His prophet!” Say with the Christians: “There is no God but God, and Jesus Christ is His prophet!” Mohammed is the shadow of Moses. Moses is the forerunner of Jesus. What is a prophet? A representative of humanity seeking God. God is God, and man is the prophet of God, when he causes us to believe in God. The Old Testament, the Qur’an, and the Gospel are three different translations of the same book. As God is one, so also is the law. O ideal woman! O reward of the elect! Art thou more beautiful than Mary? O Mary, daughter of the East! caste as pure love, great as the desire of motherhood, come and teach the children of Islam the mysteries of Paradise, and the secrets of beauty! Invite them to the festival of the new alliance! There, upon three thrones glittering with precious stones, three prophets will be seated. The tuba tree will make, with its back-curving branches, a dais for the celestial table. The bride will be white as the moon, and scarlet as the smile of morning.
All nations shall press forward to see her, and they will no longer fear to pass AL Sirah; for, on that razor-edged bridge, the Saviour will stretch His cross, and come to stretch His hand to those who stumble, and to those who have fallen the bride will stretch her perfumed veil, and draw them to her. O ye people, clap your hands, and praise the last triumph of love! Death alone will remain dead, and hell alone will be consumed!
O nations of Europe, to whom the East stretches forth its hands, unite and push back the northern bear! Let the last war bring the triumph of intelligence and love, let commerce interlace the arms of the world, and a new civilization, sprung from the armed Gospel, unite all the flocks of the earth under the crook of the same shepherd! Such will be the conquests of progress, such is the end towards which the whole movement of the world is pushing us. Progress is movement, and movement is life. To deny progress is to affirm nothingness, and to deify death. Progress is the only reply that reason can give to the objections which the existence of evil raises. All is not well, but all will be well one day. God begins His work, and He will finish it. Without progress, evil would be immutable like God.
Progress explains ruins, and consoles the weeping of Jeremiah. Nations succeed each other like men; and nothing is stable, because everything is marching towards perfection. The great man who dies bequeathes to his country the fruit of his works; the great nation which becomes extinguished upon earth transforms itself into a star to enlighten the obscurities of History. What it has written by its actions remains graven in the eternal book; it has added a page to the Bible of the human race.
Do not say that civilization is bad; for it resembles the damp heat which ripens the harvest, it rapidly develops the principles of life and the principles of death, it kills and it vivifies.
It is like the angel of the judgment who separates the wicked from the good. Civilization transforms men of good will into angels of light, and lowers the selfish man beneath the brute; it is the corruption of bodies and the emancipation of souls. The impious world of the giants raised to Heaven the soul of Enoch; above the Bacchanals of primitive Greece rises the harmonious spirit of Orpheus. Socrates and Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle, resume, in explaining them, all the aspirations and all the glories of the ancient world; the fables of Homer remain truer than history, and nothing remains to us of the grandeur of Rome but the immortal writings which the century of Augustus brought forth. Thus, perhaps, Rome only shook the world with the convulsions of war, in order to bring forth Vergil. Christianity is the fruit of the meditations of all the sages of the East, who live again in Jesus Christ. Thus the light of the spirits has risen where the sun of the world rises; Christ conquered the West, and the soft rays of the sun of Asia have touched the icicles of the North.
Stirred by this unknown heat, ant-heaps of new men have spread over a worn-out world; the souls of dead people have shone upon rejuvenated races, and enlarged in them the spirit of life. There is in the world a nation which calls itself frankness and freedom, for these two words are synonymous with the name of France. This nation has always been in some ways more Catholic than the Pope, and more Protestant than Luther. The France of the Crusades, the France of the Troubadours, the France of songs, the France of Rabelais and of Voltaire, the France of Bossuet and of Pascal, it is she who is the synthesis of all peoples: it is she who consecrates the alliance of reason and of faith, of revolution and of power, of the most tender belief and of the proudest human dignity.
And, see how she marches, how she swings herself, how she struggles, how she grows great! Often deceived and wounded, never cast down, enthusiastic over her triumphs, daring in her adversities, she laughs, she sings, she dies, and she teaches the world faith in immortality. The old guard does not surrender, but neither does it die! The proof of it is the enthusiasm of our children, who mean, one day, to be also soldiers of the old guard!
Napoleon is no more a man: he is the very genius of France, he is the second saviour of the world, and he also gave for a sign the cross to his apostles. St. Helena and Golgotha are the beacons of the new civilization; they are the two piles of an immerse bridge made by the rainbow of the final deluge, and which throws a bridge between the two worlds. And can you believe that a past without aureole and without glory, might capture and devour so great a future?
Could you think that the spur of a Tartar might one day tear up the pact of our glories, the testament of our liberties? Say rather that we may again become children, and enter again into our mother’s womb! “Go on! Go on!” said the voice of God to the wandering Jew. “Advance! Advance!” the destiny of the world cries out to France. And where do we go? To the unknown, the the abyss perhaps; no matter! But to the past, to the cemeteries of oblivion, to the swaddling-clothes which our childhood itself tore in shreds, towards the imbecility and ignorance of the earliest ages – never! never!
THE NUMBER FIFTEEN
Fifteen is the number of antagonism, and of catholicity. Christianity is at present divided into two churches: the civilizing church, and the savage church; the progressive church, and the stationary church. One is active, the other is passive: one has mastered the nations and governs them always, since kings fear it; the other has submitted to every despotism, and can be nothing but an instrument of slavery. The active church realizes God for men, and alone believes in the divinity of the human Word, as an interpreter of that of God. What after all is the infallibility of the Pope, but the autocracy of intelligence, confirmed by the universal vote of faith?
In this case, one might say, the Pope ought to be the first genius of his century. Why? It is more proper, in reality, that he should be an average man. His supremacy is only more divine for that, because it is in a way more human. Do not events speak louder than rancours and irreligious ignorances? Do not you see Catholic France sustaining with one hand the tottering papacy, and with the other holding the sword to fight at the head of the army of progress? Catholics, Jews, Turks, Protestants, already fight under the same banner; the crescent has rallied to the Latin cross, and altogether we struggle against the invasion of the barbarians, and their brutalizing orthodoxy. It is for ever an accomplished fact. In admitting new dogmas, the chair of St. Peter has solemnly proclaimed itself progressive. The fatherland of Catholic Christianity is that of the sciences and of the fine arts; and the eternal Word of the Gospel, living and incarnate in a visible authority, is still the light of the world. Silence, then, to the Pharisees of the new synagogue! Silence to the hateful traditions of the Schools, to the arrogance of Presbyterianism, to the absurdity of Jansenism, and to all those shameful and superstitious interpretations of the eternal dogma, so justly stigmatized by the pitiless genius of Voltaire!
Voltaire and Napoleon died Catholics. “i do not say that Voltaire died a good Catholic, but he died a Catholic.” E. L. Christian authors unanimously hold that, like all ‘heretics,’ he repented on his death-bed, and died blaspheming. What on earth does it matter? Life, not death, reveals the soul. TRANS. And do you know what the Catholicism of the future must be?
It will be the dogma of the Gospel, tried like gold by the critical acid of Voltaire, and realized, in the kingdom of the world, by the genius of the Christian Napoleon. Those who will not march will be dragged or trampled by events. Immense calamities may again hang over the world. The armies of the Apocalypse may, perhaps, one day, unchain the four scourges. The sanctuary will be cleansed. Rigid and holy poverty will send forth its apostles to uphold what staggers, lift up again what is broken, and anoint all wounds with sacred oils. Those two blood-hungered monsters, despotism and anarchy, will tear themselves to pieces, and annihilate each other, after having mutually sustained each other for a little while, by the embrace of their struggle itself.
And the government of the future will be that whose model is shown to us in nature, by the family, and in the religious world by the pastoral hierarchy. The elect shall reign with Jesus Christ during a thousand years, say the apostolic traditions: that is to say, that during a series of centuries, the intelligence and love of chosen men, devoted to the burden of power, will administer the interests and the wealth of the universal family. At that day, according to the promise of the Gospel, there will be no more than one flock and one shepherd.
THE NUMBER SIXTEEN
Sixteen is the number of the temple. Let us say what the temple of the future will be!
When the spirit of intelligence and love shall have revealed itself, the whole trinity will manifest itself in its truth and in its glory. Humanity, become a queen, and, as it were, risen from the dead, will have the grace of childhood in its poesy, the vigour of youth in its reason, and the wisdom of ripe age in its works. All those forms, which the divine thought has successively clothed, will be born again, immortal and perfect. All those features which the art of successive nations has sketched will unite themselves, and form the complete image of God. Jerusalem will rebuild the Temple of Jehovah on the model prophesied by Ezekiel; and the Christ, new and eternal Solomon, will chant, beneath roofs of cedar and of cypress, the Epithalamium of his marriage with holy liberty, the holy bride of the Song of Songs.
But Jehovah will have laid aside his thunderbolts, to bless with both hands the bridegroom and the bride; he will appear smiling between them, and take pleasure in being called father. However, the poetry of the East, in its magical souvenirs, will call him still Brahma, and Jupiter. India will teach our enchanted climates the marvellous fables of Vishnu, and we shall place upon the still bleeding forehead of our well-beloved Christ the triple crown of pearls of the mystical Trimurti. From that time, Venus, purified under the veil of Mary, will no more weep for her Adonis. The bridegroom is risen to die no more, and the infernal boar has found death in its momentary victory.
Lift yourselves up again, O Temples of Delphi and of Ephesus! The God of Light and of Art is become the God of the world, and the Word of God is indeed willing to be called Apollo! Diana will no more reign widowed in the lonely fields of night; her silvern crescent is now beneath the feet of the bride. But Diana is not conquered by Venus; her Endymion has wakened, and virginity is about to take pride in motherhood! Quit the tomb, O Phidias, and rejoice in the destruction of thy first Jupiter: it is now that thou wilt conceive a God!
O Rome, let thy temples rise again, side by side with thy basilicas: be once more the Queen of the World, and the Pantheon of the nations; let Vergil be crowned on the Capitol by the hand of St. Peter; and let Olympus and Carmel unite their divinities beneath the brush of Raphael!
Transfigure yourselves, ancient cathedrals of our fathers; dart forth into the clouds your chiselled and living arrows, and let stone record in animated figures the dark legends of the North, brightened by the marvellous gilded apologues of the Qur’an!
Let the East adore Jesus Christ in its mosques, and on the minarets of a new Santa Sophia let the cross rise in the midst of the crescent! Let Mohammed set woman free to give to the true believer the houris which he has so long dreamt of, and let the martyrs of the Saviour teach chaste caresses to the beautiful angels of Mohammed! The whole earth, reclothed with the rich adornments which all the arts have embroidered for her, will no longer be anything but a magnificent temple, of which man shall be the eternal priest.
All that was true, all that was beautiful, all that was sweet in the past centuries, will live once more glorified in this transfiguration of the world. And the beautiful form will remain inseparable from the true idea, as the body will one day be inseparable from the soul, when the soul, come to its own power, will have made itself a body in its own image. That will be the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth, and the body will be the temple of the soul, as the regenerated universe will be the body of God. And bodies and souls, and form and thought, and the whole universe, will be the light, the word, and the permanent and visible revelation of God. Amen. So be it.
THE NUMBER SEVENTEEN
Seventeen is the number of the star; it is that of intelligence and love. Warrior and bold intelligence, accomplice of divine Prometheus, eldest daughter of Lucifer, hail unto thee in thine audacity! Thou didst wish to know, and in order to possess, thou didst brave all the thunders, and affronted every abyss! Intelligence, O Thou, whom we poor sinners have loved to madness, to scandal, to reprobation! Divine right of man, essence and soul of liberty, hail unto thee! For they have pursued thee, in trampling beneath their feet for thee the dearest dreams of their imagination, the best beloved phantoms of their heart! For thee, they have been repulsed and proscribed, for thee they have suffered prison, nakedness, hunger, thirst, the desertion of those whom they loved, and the dark temptations of despair! Thou wast their right, and they have conquered thee! Now they can weep and believe, now they can submit themselves and pray! Repentant Cain would have been greater than Abel: it is lawful pride satisfied which has the right to humiliate itself! I believe because I know why and how one must believe; I believe because I love, and fear no more. Love!
Love! Sublime redeemer and sublime restorer; thou who makest so much happiness, with so many tortures, thou who didst sacrifice blood and tears, thou who art virtue itself, and the reward of virtue; force of resignation, belief of obedience, joy of sorrow, life of death, hail! Salutation and glory to thee! If intelligence is a lamp, thou art its flame; if it is right, thou art duty; if it is nobility, thou art happiness. Love, full of pride and modesty in thy mysteries, divine love, hidden love, love insensate and sublime, Titan who takest Heaven in both hands, and forcest it to earth, final and ineffable secret of Christian widowhood, love eternal, love infinite, ideal which would suffice to create worlds; love! love! blessing and glory to thee! Glory to the intelligences which veil themselves that they may not offend weak eyes! Glory to right which transforms itself wholly into duty, and which becomes devotion! To the widowed souls who love, and burn up without being loved!
To those who suffer, and make none other suffer, to those who forgive the ungrateful, to those who love their enemies! Oh, happy evermore, happy beyond all, are those who embrace poverty, who have drained themselves to the dregs, to give! Happy are the souls who for ever make thy peace! Happy the pure and the simple hearts that never think themselves better than others! Humanity, my mother, humanity daughter and mother of God, humanity conceived without sin, universal Church, Mary! Happy is he who has dared all to know thee and to understand thee, and who is ready to suffer all once more, in order to serve thee and to love thee!
THE NUMBER EIGHTEEN
This number is that of religious dogma, which is all poetry and all mystery. The Gospel says that at the death of the Saviour the veil of the Temple was rent, because that death manifested the triumph of devotion, the miracle of charity, the power of God in man, divine humanity, and human divinity, the highest and most sublime of Arcana, the last word of all initiations. But the Saviour knew that at first men would not understand him, and he said: “You will not be able to bear at present the full light of my doctrine; but, when the Spirit of Truth shall manifest himself, he will teach you all truth, and he will cause you to understand the sense of what I have said unto you.” Now the Spirit of Truth is the spirit of science and intelligence, the spirit of force and of counsel. It is that spirit which solemnly manifested itself in the Roman Church, when it declared in the four articles of its decree of the 12th December, 1845:
1 Degree. – That if faith is superior to reason, reason ought to endorse the inspirations of faith;
2 Degree. – That faith and science have each their separate domain, and that the one should not usurp the functions of the other;
3 Degree. – That it is proper for faith and grace, not to weaken, but on the contrary to strengthen and develop reason;
4 Degree. – That the concourse of reason, which examines, not the decisions of faith, but the natural and rational bases of the authority which decides them, far from injuring faith, can only be useful to it; in other words, that a faith, perfectly reasonable in its principles, should not fear, but should, on the contrary, desire the sincere examination of reason.
Such a decree is the accomplishment of a complete religious revolution, it is the inauguration of the reign of the Holy Ghost upon the earth.
THE NUMBER NINETEEN
It is the number of light. It is the existence of God proved by the very idea of God. Either one must say that Being is the universal tomb where, by an automatic movement, stirs a form for ever dead and corpse-like, or one must admit the absolute principle of intelligence and of life. Is the universal light dead or alive? Is it vowed fatally to the work of destruction, or providentially directed to an immortal birth? If there be no God, intelligence is only a deception, for it fails to be the absolute, and its ideal is a lie. Without God, being is a nothingness affirming itself, life a death in disguise, and light a night for ever deceived by the mirage of dreams.
The first and most essential act of faith is then this. Being exists; and the Being of beings, the Truth of being, is God. Being is alive with intelligence, and the living intelligence of absolute being is God. Light is real and life-giving; now, the reality and life of all light is God. The word of universal reason is an affirmation and not a negation. How blind are they who do not see that physical light is nothing but the instrument of thought! Thought alone, then, reveals light, and creates it in using it for its own purposes. The affirmation of atheism is the dogma of eternal night: the affirmation of God is the dogma of light! We stop here at the number Nineteen, although the sacred alphabet has twenty-two letters; but the first nineteen are the keys of occult theology. The others are the keys of Nature; we shall return to them in the third part of this work.