BLTC Press Titles

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The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle

Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Spiritual Order

by Thomas Erskine


And if this knowledge of the divine nature is necessary to the education of man, we are prepared to find that it has been communicated to him in such a way as to distinguish it from the products of his own mind, and mark it as coming direct from God. If a man felt that he had wrought out the true idea of God and of the spiritual order by his own faculties, it would be to him a philosophy in which he took an intellectual interest rather than a religion which dominated his spirit. Abstract thoughts can never sink into the heart of humanity, and can give rise only to the dogmas of a school not to a religion for the race.

Evidently such a revelation, being thus essential to God's chief purpose, is not merely not incredible, but on the contrary is in the highest reason to be looked for; and whatever its form may be, it must in its substance be supernatural, being a revelation of God; and yet it ought not to be considered preternatural, being only the coming forth of a higher nature.

Any one who really apprehends the superiority of the spiritual over the material is prepared to believe that the natural laws which reign in the world of matter, such as gravitation, electricity, and chemical affinities, belong to a lower order; and that underlying and overruling these are the true eternal laws, which can be nothing else than God's own mind and character,—His wisdom, love, and righteousness. There is therefore no reason to be astonished if, in that greatest work of educating spiritual intelligences, those outward laws give place to the deeper, especially when the object to be attained is the communication of the knowledge of Himself.

Christianity, though a divine revelation, did not profess to reveal—and did not in point of fact reveal—anything which has not a response in man's spiritual intelligence, and of the truth of which his reason and conscience cannot judge; so that we are never left entirely dependent on external authority for any of its statements. These statements refer to relations in which we actually stand to God and to the spiritual world. It does not make the relations, it only calls our attention to them; we are created in them, they enter into the very substance of our spiritual organization, so that there must be a consciousness of them within us, dormant and torpid perhaps, but capable of being awakened and quickened by the proper application. In fact, these communications could never enter into us nor influence us, unless there were in our original constitution a capacity for apprehending them, through the possession of faculties and instincts corresponding to the relations to which they refer.

This principle will be readily admitted in reference to the doctrine of the existence of God, and of His relation to men as a loving righteous Father, by many who would yet hesitate to admit that they have actual grounds in reason and conscience, apart from all authority, for believing in the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God, and to be the Head and Lord and Saviour of men.1

I believe that the fatherly relation and purpose of God towards men is the fundamental revelation of Christianity, and that all other true doctrines can only be explanatory and illustrative, or corroborative of it. The loving purpose of God to educate men into a moral sympathy with Himself and with one another, is the light which I require to see in a religious doctrine, in order that I should believe it. I must see a reasonableness in it, that is, I must see that it harmonizes both with the nature and character of God, and with man's spiritual needs and instincts. Now, do I see such a reasonableness in the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ 1 I think I do, to this extent, that. I am sure there must be a distinction in the Divine nature analogous to that of Father and Son, whether Jesus be that Son or not, and I shall endeavour to explain my conception, praying the reader to give me his calm and unprejudiced attention.

1 Those of my readers who know the essay on the Incarnation in the series of Tracts for Priests and People are already acquainted with the train of thought here developed. As I read that essay, it commended itself to my mind as one of the most important contributions to theological science which had been made in our day. And if I may judge of its author's feelings by my own, I believe that he will be gratified by finding that any other person had independently been led to the same conclusions. I had from an early period learned to see how the character and mission of Christ met the needs of men, but I always felt the just demands of my reason unsatisfied until I saw how that character and mission were really implied in the Divine Nature itself.

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