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divinity to Jesus Christ.* But men will abandon this error. Those who attach themselves to the letter, without comparing texts or seeking for the Spirit, cannot perceive the object of these words as the condition and means of the progress of humanity, and of its ascending course to light and truth. They cannot understand that when intelligence develops, its views are enlarged in proportion. If they would reflect seriously, without preconceived ideas, they would perceive that God has prepared and disposed everything to give men gradually and progressively what they were able to receive, and to dispense to each the daily bread of intelligence, according to his faculties and necessities. They would then perceive how wisely God has prepared everything by successive revelations to lead men gradually to a knowledge of the Father, God; and of the Son, Jesus Christ. The spiritual era now opening before you through the perpetual and always progressive revelations of the Spirit of Truth, is to lead you on to the time of the second coming of Jesus, to manifest the unveiled Truth.
At the commencement of the Hebrew period, although the idea of the One God prevailed over the divinities worshipped by the masses, among all nations, yet it was only for the initiated, and the multitude were polytheists. This arose from the communication between the spiritual and corporeal worlds, which is one of the laws of Nature, and as eternal as that God from whose will it proceeds. The Oriental nations believed in gods in heaven, and sons of gods among men, who were miraculously born of virgins, and were afterwards raised to the rank of "gods;" and the Jews had imbibed these popular ideas during the Captivity.
At the opening of the Hebrew era, the most civilized races of men had arrived at a phase when it was needful that the Divine Unity should be placed before the eyes of all, by a spirit-revelation of God, as One, Alone, and Indi
* Although the Commentary on the first chapter of John is somewhat tedious, the importance of the subject compels me to retain many of the repetitions of the original.-TRANS.
visible, the Creator ; but not by the divisibility of his essence. Polytheism was then doomed to disappear gradually under the influence of successive revelations, in the course of ages.
God manifested the Divine Unity to all, when he gave men the Decalogue on Mount Sinai,* by the instrumentality of a superior spirit, and proclaimed through Moses, “Thou shalt have no other Gods but me." I am the One Eternal and Only God; I am That I am.”
Afterwards, conformably with the necessity for linking the present with the past, God, having thus proclaimed Monotheism, proclaimed himself the God of Gods, by the prophets in Israel, who were inspired and guided by the superior spirits, in the words (Ps. lxxxii. I and 6): “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth the gods.” “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.” God thus proclaimed himself to be the Uncreated Creator ; and that all creatures exist only from him, by him, and in him, and are thus distinct from him ; and that all spirits, whether called gods in heaven or on earth, whatever may be their purity and elevation, are all creatures; all derived from the same principle, and having had originally the same origin. They are therefore his sons; and all brethren, as regards each other. But the time was not yet come when men should thus understand the Divine words in spirit and in truth. That time was only to come through the advent of the Spirit, after humanity had been struggling for ages in the trammels of infamy, and had slowly and laboriously progressed through the stages of its childhood and youth, to the age preceding its manhood, under the empire of the veil of the letter, the shell of mystery, and the prestige of miracle.
The ancient polytheism was to be completely and finally uprooted in the course of ages, and was to disappear from the minds of the masses among civilized nations, whose mission it should be to advance those who were in an
* See the explanations given in Part III. relative to the manner in which the Decalogue was given, and promulgated.
inferior condition. Men were thus to be led to recognize
This transition could only be accomplished by a messenger
But Jesus being a spirit of perfect and immaculate purity, the architect, protector, and ruler of your planet, could not* assume a material body incompatible with his spiritual nature. Nevertheless, he could not appear among men to accomplish his superior mission without clothing himself (in accordance with the laws of Nature, and the immutable will of God, which never varies) with a body in harmony with his own nature, and relatively in harmony with your sphere; and such as to create an illusion in the eyes of
It was therefore needful for him to assume a body which, though not of the same nature as that of the inhabitants of the earth, should be similar to it, and possess the same form. Men could then regard him as one of themselves, and be attracted to him by this resemblance, in order that their hearts might be touched by his words, teachings and example, and that his pure and spotless life of devotion, charity and love, should show them how much nobler he was than themselves, that they might be led to love, admire and imitate him. But seeing that his actions were greater than those of men, they were astonished and overawed, and led to perceive that he was a messenger of God, and that what he taught likewise proceeded from God.
* See the explanations given in vol. i. & 14, pp. 18-30, &c.
Therefore Jesus Christ was to be regarded by men, during his earthly mission, as a man like themselves : hence the necessity for his being apparently born of a human father and mother; and although this origin was simply apparent, men were nevertheless to regard it as real. His earthly mission was designed to effect the transition which should uproot the ancient polytheism in the minds of men, preserve the knowledge of the Son, and the knowledge of the Father, and lead men on to the period when the Spirit could be freed from the letter. In order to attain this end, the Divine foresight and wisdom deemed it necessary to appropriate successive revelations to the popular opinions, prejudices, state of intelligence, and necessities of the age, and of the generations which were to follow. In consequence of these revelations, the superior mission of the Messiah, Christ, took place among the Hebrews. The masses had brought back from the captivity the popular idea of Sons of God living among men; and hence, notwithstanding the monotheism which had been forced upon them,* they believed that God communicated with men directly, under the name of the Holy Spirit. The masses likewise held the belief that God was corporeal ; and this was the idea which Jesus designed to destroy when he said, “God is a Spirit." We shall explain the full sense and meaning of these words hereafter.
In accordance with the popular opinions of the age, and the monotheism taught by Moses and the prophets, which the masses did not understand in spirit and in truth, it was needful that a Divine man should appear, who should be regarded as both man and God, and who should be deified by men, owing to the veils and uncertainties of the Hebrew and Messianic Revelations, as the only Son of the Father, and equal to him. This belief was to be founded on the events of his earthly mission ; his pure and spotless life; his mysterious (miraculous or Divine) origin; the miracles which he accomplished; his sublime apotheosis by his apparent death and resurrection, which men regarded as
Compare Ex. chaps, xxxii., xxxii. and xxxiv.
real; his appearances to the women and the disciples; and
This was necessary that men might purify their ideas by
Thus Jesus was to be regarded during his earthly mission as a man among men, the son of Mary and Joseph; but. after the accomplishment of his mission, and not until then, men regarded him as the son of the Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Spirit; and thus as the Son of God. Here the necessity and object of the Hebrew Revelation, announcing the coming of Him in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed; the Messiah or the Christ. At first they openly proclaimed his human origin, as born of the posterity of Abraham, and of the house of David; but afterwards the prophets of Israel announced, though under the obscurity of the letter, the miraculous and divine origin. of a son born in the house of David, to whom the Lord himself would give a sign; “that a virgin should conceive, and bear a son, whose name should be called Emmanuel.” But the meaning of this remained hidden, until it was revealed by the Evangelist Matthew, who added, under spiritual inspiration, “That is, God with us." Consequently, when Jesus appeared on your earth, the Hebrews interpreted the prophecies to teach that the Messiah was to be a man like themselves, who should be of the posterity of Abraham, and the Son of David. *
Hence the object and necessity of the revelation made by the angel to Mary and Joseph, under such circumstances. that it remained secret till after the accomplishment of the
* Isaiah yii. 13, 14; Matth. i. 21.23.