BLTC Press Titles

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Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Dawn of the awakened mind

by John Sumpter King


This much I state, not to any extent in an egotistical spirit, but with a view to support the claim that I have at least a fair share of common sense, intelligence, and discernment; and am not more liable to be deceived than the average intelligent man. I have never professed, nor laid claim in a religious sense, to being very devout or holy; but have always entertained a respectful, though not unquestioning attitude toward the orthodoxies of the church in which I was reared (Presbyterian). I have never recognized any inclination to materialism; but on the contrary have always cherished the conviction, almost as an intuition, that the few short years of physical existence on this terrestrial sphere, varied with its trials, and temptations, joys and sorrows, successes and failures, growth and decay, were but an incident, in the continued existence of the individual creation called man; and that an All-powerful, All-seeing, everywhere present, All-wise Intelligence, and Infinite Power and Governor of the universe—pf which this earth is but an infinitesimal speck, in a boundless expanse of worlds, of planetary systems, and of space — had a system of development with a purpose, by which mankind was to attain to higher intelligence, nobler conditions of being, and purer realms of existence. The earnest orthodoxical expositions of heaven and hell; and the familiar pulpit references to man as a body, soul, and spirit, destined either for eternal happiness or eternal misery, with deviations at the starting point in earth life not discernible by human judges while interesting, fell far short of being to me at least, perfectly lucid and satisfactory.

"Constant and persistent assertion naturally has a tendency to create conviction; and conviction crystallized becomes belief. Belief is not necessarily knowledge, though many assume that it is. How can we reconcile the many religious beliefs, though we may be prepared to admit the sincerity of the many believers? Not only is there diversity of belief, but equal diversity in the intensity of belief; and does not intensity of belief develop bigotry, and bigotry result in illiberality, misrepresentation, and even persecution? The man who ventures an opinion at variance with popular belief is placed in the category of. antagonists of truth, though he may be much nearer the truth than those who uncharitably judge him. Christ, according to testamentary evidence, was persecuted by the priesthood and people because he taught that which was different from their cherished orthodoxies and beliefs."*

Who is more to be pitied than the reverend minister or priest (whose designation means entitled to reverence, which latter means fear mingled with respect and affection) who is so egotistical in his belief, and at the same time uncharitable, that he presumes to pass condemnation upon his fellow man who differs from that belief; and withal so Pharisaical, as he thanks God he is not the dupe his neighbor is? And what must be said of those who blindly adopt a belief, the result of circumstantial surroundings, or hereditary family belief, or by an assertion oft repeated, yet deny others the attainment of a satisfactory knowledge, from careful and continued study and investigation?

"Most men by education are misled;

They so believe because they are so bred.
The priest continues what the nurse began,
And so the child imposes on the man."

Have we not been taught from childhood up that he who preaches and teaches from the orthodox pulpit is a minister or ambassador from God, or, as some say, "called of God" to teach and preach the truth, and we must not question it? Orthodoxy asks us to have faith and believe. It demands acceptance of the statements by faith and belief, and promises salvation; or doubt, and it promises damnation.

In business, men exercise what is known as "common sense." Why should not man exercise common sense in other matters, such as belief? Why shut their eyes to self-evident truth? Will it be denied that mankind of today knows, or ought to know more of the Infinite Spirit or Universal Spirit God, the fount of creation

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