Stephen Pearl Andrews, “The Science of Universology” (XXV–XXXVI)

The Science of Universology appeared in 36 installments in the free religionist paper, The Index, between January 4, 1877 and June 19, 1879, following the conclusion of a debate between Andrews, Benjamin R. Tucker and William Batchelder Greene regarding Proudhon. It is essentially a third book-length examination of Andrews proposed universal science, following two volumes published in book form:

(An early discussion of universology appeared in the Spiritual Telegraph in 1857.)

Andrews’ mature projects—Universology, the Pantarchy, the New Catholic Church, Alwato and Tikiwa, the Colloquium, etc.—are an often baffling manifestation of both his individual eccentricity and his ability to synthesize elements from so many of the social scientific projects around him. That results in some very interesting moments, like those here in which Andrews engages with Greene as a philosopher, rather than simply as an interpreter of Proudhon’s credit projects. It also results in a lot of prose where Andrews’ wide reading and his fascination with the supposed significance of minute details combine in daunting and dizzying fashion. In the end, it is hard to consider Andrews anything but a gloriously persistent crank, but one of the tasks still to really be accomplished in our examination of the origins of anarchism is to come to terms with the ways in which figures like Andrews so clearly spoke to something in the radical milieus, gaining considerable influence and shaping that early history in important ways.

The Science of Universology

The Science of Universology



Truth I have previously defined as through-th; that which goes through, or attains to its end; which does not fail or fall through into fallacy, or come short. This is, however, a very general definition, its antithet (its opposite or contrasted exhibit) being fallacy or failure (to go through to perfection). There are, it must now be observed, other and more special definitions of truth, according to the point of view from which we are considering it, and which are indispensable to a complete understanding of the subject.

Of these special definitions of truth there are, especially, three; which may be discriminated as naturismal, scientismal, and artismal, respectively. The first and simplest of these is this: Truth is conformity: to an ideal standard of perfection (or, in the phrase of the general definition, that which goes through and attains to such proposed conformity). In the simple matter of “telling the truth,” the ideal standard of perfection is the actual fact, to which the words of the recital must conform in order to be the truth. This is what the common mass of mankind have in mind, chiefly, when they speak of truth; and It Is this therefore which may be designated as the simple or naturismal, but still specific idea.

There is, however, with the highly intelligent classes, and especially with idealistic philosophical thinkers, another conception of truth (telic, or teleologlcal, and) modelled after the doctrine of Plato on the subject, which may be defined as follows: Truth is the ultimate, complete, or artistic conformity of the actual (which, naturismally, or in any lower grade than this ultimate, is imperfect, and hence untrue) to the perfect ideal, or ideal model or pattern, proposed as the goal of any evolution, or career of exertion or achievement. It is in this sense that Hegel uses the term truth; and this may be called the artismal special definition, to which I thus pass over, leaving the intermediate scientismal definition for subsequent and more elaborate consideration. This artismal conception of truth partakes of the practical, inasmuch as it looks more especially to an operation, ft process, or to the per-currence of a career; and to performance, or an arrival at the end of the career; whence it Is called telic or teleological. It is also necessarily of a synthetic or complicated character, as it takes into account conformity with the ideal in the infinity of ultimate particulars. Truth of this kind thus becomes identified with the ideal, to which it has, as it were, returned after an estrangement; and its antithet (or that with which it is contrasted) is therefore the actual (naturismally conceived of, or as lower down in its career than its ultimate complete return to, and reconciliation with the ideal); and as such the imperfect.

Neither of these special definitions of truth covers, or really touches at all, the proper scientism of the subject, as universologically conceived of: that in respect to which the true Is contrasted with the real (and incidentally with the good), as in the tabular exhibit at the end of the last article. The truth in this sense, may be defined as: The standard and instrument of the rigorous exactification of each individual instance of relation among the mass of particulars analytically discriminated within the reality, or subject-matter, or stuff to be regulated, in order to conduct, the more surely, to the ulterior synthetic perfection (or artistic truth); this standard and instrument itself prepared, by means of a prior process of test, to intervene as the permeative exactifying element, or the truth, of the career now in question.

This definition is confessedly very complicated; and I should be glad to be helped to make it less so, if that is practicable. It is also subject to apparently damaging criticism from the very first. The truth, it will be said, is a matter of relation; how, then, can a standard and an instrument stand in loco veritatis? It may be a measure of truth; but can it be the truth itself? The radical importance of the subject, and the conviction that in the sense I mean I am quite right, embolden me, nevertheless, to insist, and to trust to the following explanations to make myself better understood. The analogues of truth in this sense are the units of measure, upon which every scientific procedure rests, as the pound-weight, the foot, the foot-pound, the ohm, etc.; and, among concrete objects, the foot-rule, the square, the thermometer (meters of all kinds), the compass, etc. These are the standards and instruments of all scientific, exactifying, or truth-giving processes, in that more rigorous sense in which science insists on the truth in each minute analytical instance, as securing the larger and complex synthetic truth, with more certainty. By a slight figure of speech, merely, they may then be said to embody in themselves truth in this peculiar and analytically elemental sense—what may be called truth in the least form and yet as elemental,—truth as the source, fountain-head, and absolute principle of all truth.

But why resort to this figure of speech? Why speak of the carpenter’s square as the truth of carpentry; of the compass as the truth of navigation? etc. For two reasons. The first is this: In the definition above, these standards of precision are described rightly as having been themselves subjected to test. They are measures, because they have been themselves measured in a prior process not now under consideration. They are themselves, therefore, embodied types of the artismal truth attained to in that prior process (of test); and brought now into a new process which they are to govern by virtue of the truth so embodied in them, they are in an almost literal sense the truth of this new process, certainly the true, or that factor which is true, as contrasted with the crude reality to which they are now to be united and applied. The second reason why this figure of speech is adopted, or, rather, as the case will now appear, why this radical working of scientific analogy is recognized and insisted on is, that in the abstract sphere of pure analytical thought, that which answers to these standard units of measurement in the concrete is those least elements of mentation from which all mentation is compounded, and of.which, again, in the ideal constitution of things, the minims or least elements of substance and form are the analogues. In these two spheres of being, therefore, the subjective sphere of thought and the objective general sphere of being (metaphysical), what appeared in the tangible concrete as exactifying instruments, a species of concrete things, reappears, analogically, as elemental entity and relation, each at once a measure and a constituent. In other words, the truth as a relation, and the measure of truth here become blended, or so far identified as to be no longer distinguishable from each other, and to be only distinguishable from the reality which they concern; and the primal discrimination of all discriminations (whatever it shall prove to be, as it shall be further precisionized) thus becomes the organon of thought and being, and the canon of criticism upon all our subsequent thinking. It is this, therefore, which is the truth of universal things as scientismally defined; or, the true as contrasted with the real.

In this sense the rigorous, rectangular outline-drawing of any piece of work, of a piece of landscape-gardening, for instance, is the true (or truth) of the work;; the materials wrought in, in this case the crude earth or wild natural landscape, are the real (or realty, or reality); and, in fine, the finished harmony which results from the combination and blending of the real and the true is the beautiful, of tills (or any) particular subject of consideration. So, by a cruder or more concrete analogy, the severe, formative, and regulative skeleton is the truth (the ideic or form-giving factor) of the human or animal body, and the soft concessive flesh, capable of being wrought into form, as a material, is the real, or realty, or reality, (the substantive factor); and the finished harmony from the perfect union of flesh and bone, with its appropriate integuments, is the beautiful, of the body.

So geometry at large is the true or truth of universal structure; the concrete objects of Nature, which are, or are to be, geometrically disposed of or arranged, are the real, realty, or reality, and the perfect and harmonious structure, in its complete finish and Imposing effect, is the beautiful.

So the intellect is the true or truth of the mind; that is to say, the faculty which cognizes truth (and fallacy), and is, as such, embodied truth itself, or the representative of truth, as it also is, the formative ideic) and regulative factor of mind; sentiment sensation, sense, sensitivity, etc.) is the real or reality of mind,—furnishing the substantial materials to be regulated; and will or desire, the faculty of choice or preference, is the beautiful or the art-realm of mentality.

So the laws of the land are (or should be) the true or truth of society; the personnel, the muster of its individualities, its real or reality; and the modelic structure and functioning of society its beautiful (aspect or feature).

So form is everywhere the true, substance the real, and harmonious structure and function the beautiful.

So, in fine, science—as the laws of being, discovered, expounded, formulated, and regulative—is the true, or the truth-like factor of universal being; Nature, with her Bacchanalian license and freedom, is the real, the substance, or material, the stuff-like, or to-be-regulated factor: and, to complete the scale, art is the beautiful—as the compromise or reconciliation, the blended and final harmony of the real and the true.

Naturism, scientism, and artism, or the spirit of nature, unrestrained exuberance of freedom: the spirit of science, regulation, exactitude, precision, and rigor; and the spirit of art, ultimate reconciliation and harmony of opposites, are thus completely identified with the real, the true, and the beautiful.

Naturism, scientism, and artism are the technical names for these aspects of being considered as operative or presiding principles.

Naturismus, scientismus, and artismus are the technical names of the ideal domains or dominions of being, over which, or within which, naturism, scientism, and artism preside. Again, and more Interiorly, in respect to the great dominant features of society, religion (religious unity, unismal, allied with sentiment) is the real or reality factor of society; intelligence, science, philosophy, learning, (politique, or the science of government included) is the true (the regulative factor); and business rightly conducted, a truly regulated social activity, a perfect social construction, functionating in harmony, is the beautiful,—the artistic factor of the social organismus.

Within the governmental range of the social organismus, hierarchical aristocracy (the inequality-idea) is the naturismus (the real); democracy or equality of rights (the equality-idea) is the scientismus (the true); and pantarchism, a word devised to mean the ultimate and artistic reconciliation of aristocratic inequality (in the sense of genuine superiorities) with democratic equality (in essential rights), Is the artismus (or the beautiful) in this sphere of the application of these three idealoglcal aspections, — the real (including the good), the true, and the beautiful.

In the natural order of arrangement, the real—the naturismus—is first mentioned, and the true (the scientismus) subsequently. In the logical order, the arrangement is reversed, and scientism takes the lead. It was by an adoption of the logical order that I have first disposed of the classifications of the sciences,—scientismal; and that I shall now proceed to the consideration of the underlying religious unity of mankind.

In fine, unism, duism, and trinism, repeating, more elementarily and radically, naturism, scientism, and artism, are the threefold discrimination of all discriminations above alluded to; and, hence, the organon of thought and being; and the canon of criticism upon all future thinking.


Science is duismal (separative, dispersive) and religion is unismal. The logical order (of investigating subjects) begins with duism and proceeds to unlsm—inverting the natural order; and this is the reason, as shown at the close of the preceding article, why I have chosen to dispose, in the first instance, of the various classifications of the sciences, reducing them to unity, before entering upon the consideration of the domain of religion.

In other words, science is, in predominance, analytical or distributive, and only in a secondary sense synthetical; while religion is primarily (in predominance) unitize, and only in a secondary sense (in subdominance) dispersive (tending to break up into sects, etc.).

In one word, religion is the sentimental, the speculative, and the social drift and tendency toward unity. This is its highest scientific definition. It is primarily, therefore, sentimental; secondarily, dogmatic; and ultimately, social; its dogma playing the quasi-scientific role of science within the dominantly unscientific and mainly experiential scope of religion as such. It Is, nevertheless, religious dogma or creed, and the underlying common origin of, and essential unity in, it, in the midst of all its seeming manifoldness and variety, which I am now about to consider.

It might almost be said that the fundamental article of the creed of the Reconciliative Church of the Future will be that: There has ever been, and Is, and especially that in the future there will be, one only religion, in and for the whole world; and that consequently the seemingly various religions, which have succeeded, or coexisted and replaced or conflicted with, each other, were branches merely of the one underlying and all-embracing religious movement of the world, their conflicts being the necessary or (in religious phrase) the providential differentiations incident to the immense religious evolution in question.

The new theology, therefore, holds and teaches that the various grand religions of the world, as, for example, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Tauism (or Confucianism), Sintooism, Egyptianism, Olympianism, Judaism, Mohammedanism. Christianism, Spiritism or Spiritualism, Free Religion, and Positivism, are merely larger sects within the pale of the Universal Church; and that such sects or segments of the Church Universal, whether large or small, are merely in the nature of the different classes in a great schoolhouse, all undergoing education in their various degrees. This idea is the basis of their universal reconciliation and future cooperation, in the place of mutual depreciation, prejudice, and persecution, as in the past; for nothing can be more unphilosophical and barbarous, not to say irreligious, than for the several classes of the same school to oppose, persecute, and rend each other.

It is true, however, that the later religions are, in an important sense, the older religions—in that sense in which we are older people than our grandfathers, having our experience added to theirs,—that is to say, they are the higher classes in the great religious school-house of the world; and for us, as Christians, or other advanced holders of later creeds, to sneer at or malign those farther back, or for those who think themselves more advanced than Christians to do so with respect to Christians, is something analogous with the habit of hazing in our colleges and universities, a remnant of barbarism, a custom “more honored in the breach than in the observance.”

The Universal Church which shall embrace, reunite or reconcile and coordinate, all these branches of the great religious experience and education of mankind may properly receive and bear the name of the Church of the Grand Reconciliation; or as an alternate name, it might be called the True, but better, ex gratia modestiœ, the New Catholic Church; and this in torn is, in conception, the religious branch or department of the pantarchal régime, or universal government, or culminative administration, of the totality of collective, that is to say of societary, human affairs. A convenient popular name for the communicants of this new church would be: The Reconciliationists.

The chief factor of religion is not, as I have said, the dogma or doctrine, which is of the intellect, and may be varied in its form of presentation, according to the capacities and grade of advancement of each class; it is, on the other hand, that sentimental bond of unity which binds heart to heart fraternally and in the worship of the most high, and which prompts to mutual acts of kindness and love. “Pare religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep one’s self unspotted from the world.” [*] It is by no means to be inferred, however, that the dogma of religion is therefore unimportant, but that, being the intellectual or rational element of religion, it is more amenable to the scientific method, and more susceptible of graduation to the capacity and state of the catechumen.

Integralism is the name of the new philosophy, coupled with universology, which covers the whole ground of Nature, Science, and Art. Art is the effort, through labor, to realize our ideals. Religion, in its social aspect, is the result of the reflex action of our highest ideals on our conduct, by stimulating the earnestness of our efforts to realize or to attain to them, exciting especially the unifying sentiment, or the sentiment of the unity of mankind. As a cultus, it is the worship of the most high; meaning, thereby, not necessarily a personal God, an ideal heaven in another world, or any special definite form of conception, but simply that which is the highest, whatsoever it be, to which each individual mind has attained, as an ideal. The woman who casts her infant Into the river, or the fire, or the devouring jaws of an idol; the scientist who labors, from the love of truth, to discover new truth; or the atheist who devotes his life to blasting what he believes to be the deleterious delusions of the Christian or any other faith, is as truly religious in his devotion to what he conceives to be the truth as the most devoted Christian. The truth of opinion is another matter, and belongs to the region of inquiry and instruction,—to science rather than religion. It is a perversion of the meaning of religion to make it consist mainly of dogmas, which must, of necessity, undergo change from age to age, with the mere increase of intelligence. It should be the first object of the New Catholic Church to educe, distinctify, and definitely fix this fundamental conception of religion, as the common elementary ground of unity for all sects and special religions, in the higher religious life, and in the higher organization of the religious development of the future, in harmony with Nature, science, and art. The edifice to arise on such a foundation will be rightly entitled to be called the grand reconciliation,—“the final restitution of all things.”

It is the mistake of the Church, at this day, to continue to teach dogma as if it were assured knowledge; and the mistake of science to attack dogma as if it were essentially erroneous. Dogma, held as hypothesis, reinforced merely by faith, but held subject to revisal and improvement with advancing knowledge, is perfectly legitimate, even from the scientific point of view, and so soon as it ceases to pretend to be anything more will be accepted and cultured by science. Faith is not knowledge, and should not be claimed as such. The very word, “I believe,” confesses that “I do not know.”

The Scripture phrase, “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face,” is as applicable to the unfolding future higher knowledge of this world as to the other life believed in by Christians.

The recognition of the consecration and devotion of the whole being to the worship of the most high, or of whatsoever highest ideal, as the essential basis of religion, is, at the same time, the basis of a true and universal religious fellowship, now, perhaps, for the first time distinctly propounded and scientifically defined. Upon this ground, and upon no other, the universal religious reconciliation of mankind becomes possible,—the cooperative unity of all, in a higher and broader sense than that in which the Christian world is now beginning to aspire after a renewed unity; as, by the discovery of universology, a similar reconciliation of all intellectual conceptions is effected; and as, by pantarchism, the practical orchestration of all human affairs will be accomplished. The measuring reed, the cubic structure of the New Jerusalem, and the governing force of the mystic or sacred numbers, as revealed to the interior vision of St. John, are realized in the exactifications of universal science. The New Catholic Church is, therefore, the Church of the Grand Integral and Final Reconciliation.

To belong to the New Catholic Church involves little or nothing of ceremony, and does not necessarily demand separation from any other religious or secular body, any more than to be a citizen of the United States precludes citizenship of the individual States of the Union. It is socially and religiously as the United States are politically, and as the pantarchy will be, for all nationalities, e pluribus unum. Within its pale, the other religions and sects of the world are regarded as lower and higher classes engaged in conducting the religious education and training of mankind.

The old religious strongholds will not be subdued by simply denouncing them, in the spirit of a negative infidelity. They will be, easily and even gladly and gratefully, overcome and absorbed, or annexed, by being transcended in their own sphere.

The essential unity of religions dogma is now to be searched for, first, in the past history of doctrine. The idea of essential unities of human affairs in the past, where we are accustomed to see only diversity, is beginning to be familiarized. August Fick, the distinguished German philologist, has published a work entitled The Early-Time Speech-Unity of Hindu-Germanic Europe (Die chemalige Spracheinheit der Indogermanen Europas). We need a similar treatment of the early-time religions unity of the world; and it is my purpose to give here a radical inception to that kind of elaboration, sufficiently distinct from anything touching on this subject in the labors of others to dispense me from the necessity of specifically naming them.

The foundation conception of theology, that from which the very idea of a religious system of ideas flows, concerns the existence and attributes of a Supreme Being; and modern research is every day more clearly demonstrating that in every nation of the past in which such conception was at all developed, the Supreme Being or the Most High has been conceived of, and held to be, either absolutely one, or relatively one,—as two or three in one, and so recombined in some sort of higher unity or godhead. The Chinese, the Hindu, the Greek, the Jew, the Christian, and the Mohammedan agree in this, and this alone would constitute them, at bottom, members of the same Universal Church. The idea or conception of the one God is, radically, that of some primal, central, and single source or fountain-head of thought and being, such as human reflection cannot do otherwise than recur to, whenever the attempt is made to account for the nature of things. Hence, as religion, sentimentally considered, resolves itself into the one word, unity—sentimental unity being also love,—so, dogmatically, or on the Intellectual side, the religious schematismus of thought also resolves itself into the idea of unity. The whole fundamental conception of religion has relation, therefore, to oneness, and, by analogy, to the arithmetical unit, or one; and again, to the geometrical point, centre, and origin (as, on the other hand, thought relates primarily to division or discrimination, and hence to the number two, and geometrically to the limit, or line. Hence it is that religion is unismal, and thought, knowing, and science duismal).

Max Muller in his recent treatment of the subject of religion recurs to and reaffirms his former definition of its subjective element as “a mental faculty which independent of, nay, in spite of, sense and reason enables man to apprehend the Infinite, under different names and under varying disguises.” He adds: “If we but listen attentively, we can hear, in all religions, a groaning of the spirit, a struggle to conceive the inconceivable, to utter the unutterable, a longing after the Infinite, a love of God.”

Upon a close scrutiny, this will prove to be only another method of saying the major part of what I have just said. The infinite identifies itself with unity thus: Infinity is the removal, the thinking away, of limits or bounds. The substance which remains, as the unlimited, then flows together, as one; as undistinguished mass; so that substance, apart from limits (Spinozan) and unity are virtually the same idea. There is this difference however. It Is impossible to succeed, absolutely, in the effort to think away all limits. The last and least, but persistent, relic of limitation, in the mental struggle to be rid of it altogether, is this notion of unity, or rather of unitism. This vanishing point of limit, which still relate* wholly to vanish, identifies itself, therefore, with the lubstanclve mass of unlimitedness around it; and so with the Infinite; and, most naturally, as its centre. It is the intellectual residuum within the Infinite, while infinity as such pertains to the feeling,—and they two together—Infinity and its centring unity—are the kernel of religion.

With the God-idea thus defined as essential unity, the conflict between theism, pantheism, and atheism virtually ceases, and pietism and rationalism are reconciled; that is to say, there is found in this ultimate analysis a legitimate place for each. As feeling predominates pietism results; as intellect predominates rationalism results; and rationally, if the single unity of the total infinite is conceived of as one-centered, we have monotheism; if the centre is posited many-wheres or everywhere; for which there are rational considerations; we have polytheism and pantheism, and if the Infinite seems to exclude the idea of centre, we have atheism. These last three phases of conception are simply so many natural outcomes of the wavering intellectual effort to comprehend that which to the intellect is incomprehensible; for, to cognize (to think or know intellectually) is to posit limits; and at this point the intellect is endeavoring to limit away all limits. That which must have something to stand on is endeavoring to stand upon nothing, and in its failure to do so, it may fall upon either side,—except that in theism, the toppling intellect resorts to, and steadies Itself by, feeling. In that case, the result is religious faith, which expresses itself in the credo, and is quasi-intellectual.

[*] James, 1: 27.


The idea of unity—which I have shown to be the essential idea, first of religion at large, and then of theology as culminating in monotheism (one-God-ism) —is, it should be impressively stated and reiterated, no other than these special applications of the mathematical idea one, as the primal arithmetical number: and we are hence authorized to expect, as will be shown later to be the fact, that whatever is opposed to or contrasted with religion and with God, whatever is evil or irreligious, and satanic or averse to God, will be allied in thought with the number two, as the opposite of one. This tendency was even extended, in many early speculations, to the female principle and everything feminine, God being taken m masculine and as exclusively good; woman therefore as evil. In the main, however, and finally, justice is done, as we shall see, to the female principle.

One is, in the next place. Identified with point, centre, source, origin, or beginning, first-ness, or first cause; and hence with generation and paternity; and hence again, the one God is the father of all.

The God-idea is, therefore, essentially masculoid, or associated with the male sex. It is true that, in the earlier hermetic speculation, the feminine aspect or side of God was equally provided for, as will be subsequently shown; but the Christian fathers, the found era of Christian theology, confined the term God to the male attributions of Supreme Being; while yet Christianity, as will also be shown, still adequately provided otherwise, for the feminoid aspect of Supremacy. Reference is not here made to “Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God,” of the Roman Catholic Church. This dogma is the quite inadequate and merely provisional development of the larger, more rational, and more truly religious idea of the feminine aspect of divinity. It is, however, less metaphysical and occult than the truly philosophical solution; and ft is far belter capable of satisfying the aspirations of the souls of men and women for a supreme motherhood than the bald absence of any female representative in the divinity, which characterizes Judaism, Mohammedanism, and the Protestant sects. The various stages of the conception of Supremacy or of the Most High have, however, their justification and legitimate place, in the course of the development of the integral or total idea.

At the opposite extreme of the long career of the development of the religious conception—in this age and generation—arises the effort to found a church and a religion on the exclusion of the God-idea, and upon the lifting of humanity into the supreme place as the Most High; as, in other words, the conception and object of worship most worthy of the supreme adoration of man. The immediate originator of this “new religion” was Auguste Comte, the great French philosopher and “founder of the philosophy of Positivism.” John Stuart Mill wrote, In the Westminster Review, in defence of the position that the traditional belief in the existence of God is nowise essential to the existence of religion. John Stuart Stuart-Glennie writes a work of great profundity and force, In the Morningland; or. The Law of the Origin and Transformation of Christianity,” the leading thought of which is that not only Christian theology, but the whole Christian polity or system of social ideas, is effete, decadent, and ready to give place to a more positive and rational faith. Within the churches a virtual concession of this startling proposition is extensively made; and in the scientific world at large it is the tacitly foregone conclusion.

At the various centers of civilization, small congregations are beginning to gather for the organization of religious worship and effort, under this new form of religion; precisely as at Rome and at Ephelus the little knots of Christians assembled eighteen hundred years ago. In the city of New York one of the most prominent assemblies of this kind is called “The Church and Society of Humanity,” and is presided over by Thaddeus B. Wakeman, who is the author of The Epitome of the Positive Philosophy and Religion. That Christianity is about to undergo, or is in the process of undergoing, an immense transformation cannot be doubted; but is it merely to be transformed to accord with the exigencies of the times and the progress of knowledge, or is it to give place to this new phase of religion based wholly on humanity, with the exclusion of the God-idea; or with, at least, the admission of our entire ignorance of the existence and nature of God? with, in other words, no place found, and no want felt, for that aspect of thought, belief, and adoration which hitherto faith in the existence of God has filled and supplied?

Let us contrast with the more ancient idea the newer conception of humanity. The humanity worshipped by the positivists is not the crude and universal bulk of mankind, past, present, and future. It is humanity idealized or the ideal humanity; or, in other words, the true and perfect type of collective or societary human existence. In still other terms, it is the élite of humanity; and this is the same word and idea as ec clesia, the called forth, separated, or chosen, the select and perfected body of humanity. The humanity of the positivists is, therefore, in a large sense, and with a more modern seeming, identifiable with the early Christian idea of the Church.

It is this perfect humanity, or the Church; as it is also the “high harmony” of the humanity of the future, of Charles Fourier; and the heaven, or glorified consociations of perfect men and women, as spirits in the spiritual world, of Swedenborg, which is to be contrasted with the God-idea, in the constitution of that which is most high or supreme. And, in so far as the God idea is that of beginning, source, or cause, and hence of paternity and masculism,—so this contrasted idea, that of a perfected humanity or the true Church, is that of end, final purpose, or result; that which as affected and effected or caused to produce; and so with maternity, the mother-principle, and feminism at large. In the apocalypse God (as father) is transformed into the Lord, as a bridegroom or husband, and the Church into the bride.

In a word, then, God is the masculine, and humanity or the Church is the feminine, aspect of the supreme ideal. Each is from a different point of view the most high; and both, in their marriage or mystical union, are, in the supremest sense, the most high. The female sex instinctively—and so the infanta-feminoidal stage of the historic development of mankind, which has lasted hitherto (see Basic Outline of Universology, Index, words infantism and infanta-feminoidal)—turns to the worship of the male Ideal; and as that relates to origin and causation, it relates also to the past in history and in time; and hence the predominant veneration for ancestry and antiquity in this earlier age of the world. On the other hand, the male sex—and no the seneeto masculoidal age, upon which the world is now entering (see Basic Outline, Index); the age dominated by science and reason, rather than by natural Impulse and sentiment; turns, just as naturally, to the study of Nature and the worship of humanity (both of which are antithetical to the God-idea). It is the courtesy and devotion of the male to the female principle, succeeding to that which the world’s age, prior to now, has rendered as the homage of the female to the male. An age which could and did instinctively worship a God in whom there was nothing, or only a subordinate presence of anything, feminine could only have been itself feminoid. A masculoidal age turns admiringly towards Nature and humanity, both feminine ideals, and goes forth from science and God, which are in kind like itself, or of its own essence. We love, go to, and so manifest ourselves as the opposite of that which we are. This is a universal principle; the antithetical reflection of inherence and appearance. This again means, for instance, that an age which is inherently feminine will manifest itself by its tendency to the projection of male ideals; and vice versa.

This principle accounts for the fact that Comte, himself pivotally representative of the positive spirit of modern science (masculoidal), projects Nature, humanity, and Naturism-in-humanity, which is woman (affectional, emotional, the opposite of the scientopositive), as the object of worship; why, indeed, this grim apostle of the most hard-headed scientific philosophy should elevate woman into the place of supremacy; and speculate upon the possibility that the exceptional part of the Christian miracle-system may become normal, in the ideal future, and women become independent of men in the procreation of progeny. No extreme can go farther than this in illustration of the principle here invoked. We may see now why it is that, while the utmost to which Catholicism reaches is the secondary deification of the mother and child, positivism places the feminine principle in the ascendant. See the vignetted heading of The Positive Thinker, in which the mother and child stand as’ the central figure, surrounded by the representative men of science.

But the Christian Scriptures, as their final legacy, exceptionally, and against the general spirit of Christianity, had prepared the way for the quasi-deification of woman, or what, by the analogy, is the same thing, of humanity, or the Church. “The heavenly New Jerusalem” (Rev. xxi.), which symbolizes the harmonic or divinized new or future order of human society, is the bride of the Lamb, that is to say of the Lord. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready””(Rev. xix., 7). “And I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. xxi., 2). The church, the New Jerusalem, the true humanity, is therefore, by the symbolism, the wife of God; and thence, by the true idea of wifehood, coequal with God. If God, the Lord, “or the Lamb be, then, the King of kings and the Lord of lords” (Rev. xix., 16), the ideal humanity is, by the logic of the analogy, the Queen of queens and the Lady of ladies, or she who, equally with the Lord, is entitled to oar supreme adoration.

On the other hand, as the ideal true humanity of the future is symbolized by a pure and beautiful woman, so the extant and false humanity of the past is represented as a harlot; and by another city than Jerusalem, namely Babylon, which stands for the imperfect social condition of the past. And as the true humanity is the spouse and consort of God, so this harlot of Babylon and mother of harlots is the consort of Satan. “The great dragon was . . . that old serpent called the Devil and Satan” (Rev. v., 9); and the dragon gave his power to [was transformed into] the beast (Rev. xiii., 4), and the harlot sat upon the beast (Rev. xvii., 3). We have, therefore, in presence, four personages, two male figures, God, the embodiment of beneficent masculinity, and Satan, of maleficent masculinity, and the bride, the embodiment of a pure or perfect femininity, and the harlot, the embodiment of fallen or imperfect feminine condition. The male principle, as generator or father, was at a previous point contrasted with the female principle as generatrix, or mother. This is the tempic or historical view, and the discrimination refers us to the past, or the historical beginning, and the future, or the historical end. But, here, at the close of the New Testament, we are conducted forward to a more complex relationship. The symbolism is with the good husband or man and the bad man, on the one hand; and with the good wife or woman and the bad woman, on the other hand; or otherwise, and abstractly conceived of, with the two opposite principles, good and evil, each of them developed in a two-fold manner, according to the proclivities of sex. The consideration of this four-fold symbolism will be resumed farther on. At present let us pass to the consideration of a particular sign by which it is intimated, in the Bible record, that the principle of evil is to be specially recognized.

This distinctive sign is mystery, the natural attendant upon night-time and obscurity. Mysticism and the love of mystery have been the characteristics of the past history of mankind, and especially in the religions domain. The Apocalyptic prophecy foretells the abolishment of this phase of human affairs, with the rising of the future sun of scientific intelligence. It places mystery, as a damning brand, upon the forehead of the scarlet woman, and again identifies her with Babylon, the symbol of the old, hitherto extant, and chaotic order of the world’s condition: “And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. xvii., 5).

Positivism, the distinctive representative of science, is pledged to the elimination of the element of mystery. Such is the essential nature of science; bat in the sphere of life, also, the most emphatic injunction of Comte to his followers is to live absolutely without concealment, and to be open as the day. Perhaps the two most fundamental points of distinctive positivism may be stated as: The Worship and Service of the True Humanity; and the Expulsion of Mystery from the Programme of Human Affairs.

Upon both of these points Christianity may fairly claim, as we now see, to have foreshadowed positivism; not indeed in its own practical evolution, which has belonged emphatically to the old, but in this inspired prevision of the new order. The way is therefore clear and open for the reconciliation of Christianity with positivism and the new scientific order. It need have no difficulty in submitting to its own necessary transformation, which, in the closing up of its own Scriptures, it has undeniably prognosticated. The glorified woman, in the twelfth chapter of John, is also the Church. But at first she is simply “with child,” “travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered” (Rev. xii., 2). But “she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron [the rigors and exactitudes of science]; and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne,” while she withdrew for a time into the wilderness. It is, thus, scientized humanity which succeeds, under the new dispensation, to that which was the throne of God, under the old,—or becomes, in other words, the controlling power over the world.

Inversely, to reconcile positivism to the Church, to the acceptance of its dogma throughout, including the God-idea, as having had an adequate scientific basis, and as truly capable of being integrated with the scientific doctrine of the future, is a severer task. For that purpose we must recur to the older world-religions, those hermetic origins from which Christianity mainly derived its theology, and to the universological rediscovery, verification, and enlargement of those primitive scientific truths.

In the meantime we have been conducted to another important basis of reconciliation. The Protestant sects have been prolific in their interpretations of prophecy. In this they have mostly concurred in charging upon Roman Catholicism the character of the scarlet woman (Babylon), the dragon, and the beast. The Catholic church, less profuse in this style of literature, has to some extent cast back the imputation. By the new theology it is shown that these wonderful symbols apply directly and mainly to the whole past, unscientific and mystery-loving development of human career. We are all, therefore, “in the same boat.” Let us, then, “shake hands over the bloody chasm,” and consent to be brethren, in the out-working of a higher and happier destiny for the future of the human world.


The sciences of comparative mythology and comparative religion have, quite of late, undergone a remarkable development. Ordinary mythology has been discovered to be, in great part, “a disease of language,” in that portion of it which related to the simple aspects and processes of Nature; and it may now be added that the mysticism of the Hermetic philosophy, of which the Kabbala so largely partakes, is the corresponding disease of language affecting, not physical aspects and processes, but the earliest metaphysical speculations of the human mind. “Myths,” says Stuart-Glennle, “may now be considered as conclusively proved to originate, not in the conscious allegory of philosophic thought, but in the causation-notions of primitive Ignorance and the poesy of popular language” (In the Morningland, p. 256). What is here asserted is only true of one class of myths, those of ordinary mythology. There was another distinct and more subtle current of similar development which was based expressly on “the conscious allegory of philosophic thought.” This cropped out primitively in the Hermetic and Kabbalistic doctrine, mysteries, and literature, and was finally crystallized in the doctrine of the Trinity and the allied doctrines of the Christian theology. The explanation of these statements will result from what follows; and we shall see how mythology and naturianism were derived mainly from Nature, were, in other words, Nature-myths; while Hermetics and Christian theology were derived, on the contrary, from the primitive science of mankind.

To recur now to the origin of the distinct idea of God as Creator and Father. There are three dominant ideas which are closely allied with all our experiences, and which, indeed, constitute the epitome of all experience, or of the on-going of things in time. These are: beginning, middle, and end. So named they are cosmical discriminations of the tempic or ordinal class. But, concurrently, the same discriminations crop out in various special spheres. Mathematically, they recur, and appear as: first, second, and third; tempically, as past, present, and future; philosophically, as cause, means, and end, or effect; socially, as parent, child, and grandchild; practically and semi-theologically, as creator, maintainer, and destroyer, modified in a more theological sense into creator, creation, and creature; or, again, both theologically and philosophically, as: god, the world or universe, and man. All these several series of thought are so analogically identified that, in the earliest use of language, they were virtually confounded with each other. Indeed, this had to be so; for before language had developed abstract terms (or distinct series in each sphere) the concrete terms, as father, son, etc., had to be employed in the abstract sense also (or the single series for the still greater variety of meanings). Later, when language differentiated and developed, the primitive series of terms, charged with many meanings, fell into partial disuse, and became mystical. This was the origin of the Hermetic mysticism above alluded to. The desire to conceal the secret wisdom, to which the mysticism is usually attributed, was a subsequent affectation and pedantry. The mysticism itself had this otherwise everyway sufficient philosophical and scientific ground.

The most distinct identification of this primitive ordinal trio of ideas with theology, which now remains to us, is found In the Brahminical trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, who are literally, the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer; and in the three idols of the Chinese joss-house, which distinctly symbolize the past, the present, and the future. It is the same succession of ideas, as partially shown in what precedes, and as will be more fully shown in what follows, which was subsequently lifted and modified into the far more spiritually constituted Christian Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. But notwithstanding the difference, the fundamental identity is such as to constitute the valid basis for another instance of the impending grand reconciliation,—that, namely, between Brahminism, Buddhism, and Christianlsm. Madame Blavatsky is of the opinion that this particular Brahminical trinity was “an after-thought, or of later origin than the other more subtle, metaphysical, and occult trinities of the Brahminical system,”—which will be subsequently noticed. It is, at all events, the simplest or most palpable one, and therefore popularly, or is the ordinary historical point of view, the earliest, howmuchsoever a higher metaphysic may have preceded it.

Generalizing this family of ideas, or making them universal, the beginner, or author of things, was also the Father of universal being, and thence God the Father; and also First, and Cause, and hence First Cause. The maintainer or preserver of things, or else that which is maintained and preserved—for an ambiguity begins here to declare itself—is the second in the series of three. From the prior view, we have, here, the Son of God, and the mediator (means, middle term, or go-between); and, provisionally we may say, the grandchild or grandson, as the third of the series. From the other or mundane point of view, we have: 1. God; 2. The Universe or World, or Man (the human world); and 3. The Son of Man, for any darling or beloved member of the human world, and so especially for the messianic idea. Hence the designations the Son of God and the Son of Man concurred as the appropriate titles of Christ.

Continuing, in a simplistic way, the generative idea, from God, through a son, and then through successive generations, infinitely, but essentially of the same family and kind, we have the origin and type of the Neo-Platonic system of theology and doctrine of emanations; by which God diffused himself into the external universe, and by which all beings whatsoever are sparks or emanations from God. This doctrine reproduces itself in modern Rationalism and Pantheism, and is intermediate between Brahmanism and Christianism, and is consequently swept into the same grand circuit of reconciliation.

But this immense sweep of mental evolution was destined to reach a higher refinement in that wonderful series of doctrines, the Christian theology. The method of this transformation is curious and instructive. Instead of pursuing onward the generative idea indefinitely, or indeed very distinctly, even to the third stage, that of a grandson, the current of speculation was arrested and became transcendental. The method of it was this: Instead of the series, father, son, and grandson, we have, as a natural epitomizing of this series with all subsequent progeny, the following abridgement: 1. Father, or, now, God the Father; 2. Son, or God the Son; and 3. The total out-sending, spirit, or projection along that line of descent; as if we should say, Father, Son, etc. It was, then, this “etc.” (et cetera) which finally became The Holy Spirit; much as when Max Miiller finds the question-word “How?” transmuted, in Hindoo mythology, into a god. “Total” Is the same as “whole-y” which converts into “holy”; and spirit (out-giving), sprit (what stands out), spray, sprite, and spirit are the same word, etymologically modified. The wind and breath are the allied ideas, as currents, and “ghost” is similarly allied with “gust.” It is of no importance that these words are modern and English. They are also ancient and Aryan. Apart from this, the ideas involved have the same relations in all languages, and the specialized meanings having once become attached to the words, in any one nation, the words with those meanings were readily rendered into all other languages. Doubtless, also, in passing through some one of these translations, a case occurred where for “son” a word was used which meant also the young of an animal, perhaps especially of the sheep (?), whence the “Lamb” of God came also to be used as synonymous with the “Son” of God.

The series of terms here given is masculine. There must have been at one time a corresponding female series: “Mother, daughter, etc.” Hence it happened that there are in Gnostic and Kabbalistic literature two Holy Ghosts,—one male, Ennoia, and one female, Sophia.

It is the profound and acute perception of Stuart-Glennie, that the long and severe conflict between Neo-Platonism and early Christianism turned solely upon the peculiar constitution of the Christian Trinity and its all-important logical inferences. He has also, with astonishing acumen, seized upon the very essence of the difference between the two systems; a difference upon the historical origin of which, this investigation will, however, throw an additional illumination. Without necessarily participating in the animus of the writer, the following quotation is too important to be omitted in this connection. Having stated the Neo-Platonic theory of the trinity, this author proceeds as follows (p. 266):—

“Compare now the Christian theory of the Trinity. The three persons are not here, as in the Neo-Platonic trinity, united by the same, but by a different relation. The Father begets the Son, but the Son does not beget the Holy Spirit. This person is the fruit of the union of the Father and the Son, and proceeds from both the one and the other. Nor are these distinctions so puerile as they may to some appear. If the three hypostases of the trinity are conceived as emanating, the second from the first, and the third from the second, each has an immediate relation only with that which precedes, and the first and the third are in a manner strangers to one another. But if the third person is conceived as the very relation of the first and the second, the Father and the Son, all three are profoundly united together, and form, to use the expression of Bossuet, ‘une sainte et divine société.’ And hence results another important consequence. The world must be thus conceived as profoundly separated from God. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost form, as it were, a circle. They suffice for themselves. And if the world depends on God, it is by a bond altogether different from that which unites the divine persons to each other. The world has neither proceeded from, nor has it been engendered, but created by God. Not a necessary, and therefore a divine emanation, as in the Neo-Platonic system, the world is thus but, as it were, an accident. Its duration is but a point in eternity. And It needs but that the hand be withdrawn which has formed it out of nothing, and sustained it on the abyss, and all this fair world returns to the nothing whence, for the glory of its Creator, it was commanded forth.

“Now consider these two theories. Equally unverifiable they may indeed be, and equally dreams. But not on that account will the true student of man’s history turn away from the consideration of them. For he knows that nothing has hitherto exerted a greater influence on the destinies of mankind than mere feignings, dreams, fictions: most of them, no doubt, uttered in good faith, bat none, therefore, the less false. It is, indeed, the tragic pathos of this fact that chiefly gives to the history of humanity its profound and Inexhaustible interest, as of a sublime drama. And the scientific student further knows that, In different modes of dreaming, there may be discovered tendencies of thought and general intellectual conceptions which it is of the utmost consequence, for a true understanding of the history of man, duly to distinguish and rightly to appreciate. Puerile, therefore, as these theories of the trinity, both Christian and Neo-Platonic, may be, not trifling is the interest, nor trivial the task, of their examination.

“Seriously, then, comparing the Christian and Neo-Platonic theories of God, is it not evident that they are distinguished by nothing less important than fundamentally different conceptions of causation? In the Greek theory of Neo-Platonism, God, as the cause of things, is conceived of as in the world; hence all the orders of being are knit together In a series of necessary relations; and, even in the relation of things to the first cause of all, there is nothing arbitrary, but throughout the whole system of the universe there is one pervading law.

“In the Judaic theory of the Christians, God, as the cause of things, is conceived of as outside and independent of the world; and, hence, there is no necessary connection between the various orders of being; no necessary, and therefore predictable, relation between the different classes of phenomena themselves, but only a purely arbitrary relation to a cause outside of them, an Independent Creator. But the Neo-Platonic conception of the relation of things is thus seen to be fundamentally the conception of science; and its theory of an emanating trinity, though but a dream, a prophetic dream—a dream of law, and a prophecy of the theories of transformation, evolution, and development. On the other hand, the Christian’s conception of the relation of things is thus seen to be fundamentally the negation of all science; yet its theory of a creating trinity, though but a dream, is also a prophetic dream—a dream of miracle, and a prophecy of the most disastrous superstition, intolerant bigotry, and intolerable cruelty.”

Returning to the historical and lingual development of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, observe how it is that this close family type of the idea was differentiated from the open-communion type of Neo-Platonism. It is obvious, on reflection, that the “etc.” which developed into the Holy Ghost represented equally the Father-and-the-Son; or neither more than the other. It was not a definite descendant of the Son, as a grandson would have been. It was a spirit or efflux from both; and so came as directly from the Father as from the Son. From this seemingly slight Incident, the immense difference of doctrine in question seemingly arose. But it is in the seeming merely that this circnmstance is trivial. Any difference whatever at this fountain-head of discriminations—such even as it may require the closest metaphysical acumen to perceive—is like the pebble which, disparting two mountain rills at their common source, sends two mighty rivers to their opposite oceans. We shall have still more striking Illustrations of this fact in treating of occultism and spiritualism, in this same connection; and when we are fully acquainted with the subject, we shall be no longer free, with the author quoted, and with the proclivities of the positivistic order of mind, to regard these logico-fundamental discriminations as mere dreams or fancies. Nor is it to be inferred, from the account we are giving of the historical and lingual genesis of doctrines, that the things represented, the doctrines themselves, are much less important than they have been instinctively conceived of as being. All that positivism can tightly insist on, in the premises, is, that the element of mystery be eliminated; and to this Christianism is also absolutely committed.


It is the ordinal trio of fundamental ideas—first, second, third—which has been hitherto considered. It remains to consider the corresponding cardinal trio,—one, two, three. This elevates us into a higher metaphysical, speculative, and spiritistic realm. The cardinal trio holds a relation to ideal space, and, so, to the invisible universe, and, within the visible universe, to real space and to ether and air (breath, spirit), as infilling and occupying space; like that which the ordinal trio holds to time, with its watery-currental character, to matter at large (temporalities), to generation, as a chain or currental succession of beings, and to the creative and practical relations of God to the world and to man; as an on-going, the grandis ordo eventorum. The ordinary, or temporal, sphere of being is related to ordinality, among numbers; and the cardinary or spiritual sphere of being to cardinality, among numbers (see Basic Outline of Universology).

At this transition from the ordinal numbers to the cardinal numbers, and, so, from what is analogous with one to what is analogous with the other, we transcend all popular religious conceptions, and ascend to Hindu philosophy, Zoroastrianism, Hebrew Monotheism, and Hermetics; the aristocracy of theosophies or theological ideas; in other words to mysteries and occultism, the basis of that wide-spread older world-religion which preceded ordinary theological and ecclesiastical history.

From this point of view, and as now understood by the aid of the results of modern scholarship and discovery, the claims of the Catholic Church to authority, on the ground of its antiquity, are greatly diminished. Judaism has become almost modern, and Christianism altogether so. Eighteen hundred years is now no more to us than a century was, half a century ago. Abraham is just a little remote, and on the hither border of our present antiquity; while Jesus, Peter, and Paul are almost our fellows.

From this transcendent point of view; that of magic, of initiates and adepts; of Hermetics and Kabbala; of a back lying and profound metaphysic, originally the philosophy of ancient India,—from this point of view, allied with the cardinal number trio (one, two, three), the whole other trio—ordinal (first, second, third)—was exoteric, public, popular, plebeian, womanish, and predominantly false and-evil (devilish or satanic); while only the secret wisdom was deemed esoteric, manly, and divine; or really worthy, true, and good. It will be shown presently how the ordinality and temporality series—the lower series—became permanently allied with Satan or the Devil.

From this pretentious, but reserved and really lofty, point of view—that of the older and quasi-universal philosophy and (religion, communicated to learned initiates—God is not, now, the First (Cause), in any work of creation, in time, or in any historic sense whatever; but the one (To Hen) in the logical or purely metaphysical sense; not implying, but denying all action or change,—without “variableness or shadow of turning” (James I., 17). Still more rigorously, and somewhat otherwise conceived of, God in his absoluteness is the zero, back of one, out of which all number emerges; and hence the Nirvana, or Notibeing, of Brahminism and Buddhism; and, again, the unknowable, of Spencer. It is with the Neo-Platonists, perhaps, that we find the one, abstractly conceived of, most distinctly defined and insisted on as the supreme and absolute God,—hyper and hypostatic, or the source of all emanations (hypostases); but, concretely, it was the Jewish nation which embodied this idea as the one true God, and gave it practical authority. This absolute unity of God has descended from the Jews to the Mohammedans, and is subsumed by modern Unitarianism. The Jewish ceremonial of the synagogue of to day has this formula of credo:

“I believe in one God, whose unity is perfect, and who can never be understood as distinct in different persons and personifications. There are no limits, either of time or of space, to his being and existence. He has never been, nor never will be, known unto man in any shape or form of bodily or physical appearance.”

The Hindu and the Jew are reconciled in the philosophy of Hegel, who demonstrates, as his point of departure, the virtual identity of zero and unity; or of not-being and being; or of negation and reality. This farthest back point of philosophy, this identification of opposites, was, however, conceived of by the old Hindus, and is their Aum or Aun; the ineffable or unpronounceable, the supremely sacred and unutterable, name; for a farther explanation of which, see farther on. In a less transcendental sense, however, making the transition to the more popular (vulgar) class of ideas (related to time, creation, and change), the one may be taken as the type of the supreme God-idea.

The two, as the opposite or “adversary” of one, is then, logically, the devil, or the embodiment of evil; and the three should, by the same logic be the representative of an integration or higher unity of good and evil, or of God and the devil, in a supreme harmony of some kind; but this ultimate reconciliation required a bolder stretch of reasoning than any of the old philosophies or religions seemed competent to. The Two hardly appears as a distinct individual embodiment; but instead of it we have, interposed between Brahminism and Judaism, the old Persian theology (Zoroastrianism or Zarathrustianism), which recognizes two opposite and coeternal principles, that of good and that of evil, as constituting the dlvinoid supremacy. This doctrine came into Judea from Persia, as the Hindu trinities came thither from India. It occupies, logically, the middle ground, in one direction between Hinduism, with its Three-God-idea, and Judaism with its One-God-idea; and in another direction between this last and Christianism, which readopted the Three-God idea within the One-God-idea.

We can now see that Christianism was a blending and smelting of the oriental philosophic theosophies with the indigenous theology of Judea. From the point of view of the initiates in Hermetics it was a disastrous vulgarizing of “the secret wisdom”; from that of religious integration and evolution it was a prodigious lifting of the common mass of mind, immersed still in Polytheism,—many-god-ism; while from the point of view of Judaism itself it was a wicked defection from a higher and purer doctrine. Its great moral feature was that it introduced the truly human elementthe heart of flesh—into the Godhead, and so laid a powerful hold upon the sympathies and affectional sentiment of mankind.

The distinct representation of the evil principle was not then so consistently made by the single number two as that of the supreme good principle was by the number one. The reason seems to have been: That the whole cardinal trio (one, two, three) was, by another aspect of the symbolism, taken, as we have seen, to be relatively good, as compared with the whole ordinal trio (first, second, third), which was then taken to be bad. This ordinal series, representing temporalities, and, more primitively still, time (as the cardinal series represented spiritualities of the out-spreading heavens, and, primitively, space), and also being successionoid and currental, or elongated and broken into segments, coincided in character with the body of a serpent,—each fold of his body representing a successive age. So it came that the serpent completing a circle (with his tail in his mouth) was the universally accepted symbol of eternity or endless time; and (it would seem)—when the two ends were not so connected—of time merely, and especially of past or historical time; and, so, finally, of tradition or ancient habits and popular unphilosophic belief. At the same time, devotion to temporalities is practical wisdom; whence it happened that the serpent was both a symbol of the wicked or profane aspect of things and of wisdom; and was sometimes worshipped as divine. Thus the serpent, or the old serpent, or the old red serpent or dragon (a modified form of the serpent), was the symbol of evil, and of time or tradition; and exceptionally of wisdom. (Red is symbolic of the past, green of the present, and blue of the future.) The woman as inferior to man was also relatively evil, and was closely connected with the serpent. The sea, with its current of successive waves, its stream-like character, was again a special analogue of time, and so of historical tradition.

The symbolism of the third chapter of Genesis can be readily understood by the aid of these Hermetic solutions; but at present we are concerned rather with the origins of Christianism. We, with whom Christianism has now become in a great measure traditional, have difficulty in realizing that the great straggle of Jesus and the Christian apostles was with tradition,—“the traditions of the elders.” The devils over which he gave to them power were, especially, bad spiritual influences and false doctrines; and when he said “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven,” (Luke x., 18) it was, in the symbolic oriental phrase of his day, only what a reformer of our day would express by saying, in plain, unfigurative speech: “I see, as certain, the extinction of the traditional authority of the past.” To really translate from the literature of an early people, we must be familiar with their habitual methods of thought, and especially avoid first rendering our habitual methods of thought into their language; and the greatest extremes in this respect are between the ancient oriental and the modern western orders and states of mind; so that it may be said, with no little propriety, that “the Scriptures” have never yet been translated. The same idea is rendered in Luke as follows: “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (Luke xii., 31); that is to say, the dominant opinion, descended from the past, shall be utterly subverted.

The two specific enemies of nascent Christianism, in the first century after Christ, were the diffusive Hindu “Secret Wisdom,” which either had taken or soon afterwards did take a modified specific form in the Jewish Kabbala, as we have it still in the Zohar; and the more rational Persian form of the same doctrine, which came somewhat later than the more primitive Hinduism. This modified Jewish Hinduism we may for convenience refer to as the Kabbala, and the other as the old Persian philosophy. The old Jewish theosophy had had idolatry (Polytheism, many-god-ism), as its enemy to be overcome, and had thoroughly accomplished its task. Jesus and the apostles came most immediately in conflict with this common and triumphant Jewish doctrine (as Phariseeism, Sadduceeism, etc.). And the new movement either vanquished it, or separated itself from it. One or a few generations later, when the Apocalypse was written, the Kabbala and the old Persian philosophy were the remaining forms of tradition, with which young Christianity found itself arrayed in direct hostility. All this appears inferentially in the Apocalypse itself. It was still later that the new faith had its great battle with Neo-Platonism.

The Kabbala was already, at that day, traditional; its very name signifies virtually tradition (Kitto, Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, word Kabbala); and the revelator returns upon the old doctrine, “the secret wisdom,” the complement of calling it that very old serpent, which it, in its palmy days, had pronounced all merely temporal or historical affairs to be, teaching the world to treat time-lore, or tradition with depreciation and contempt. The characteristic schema of the Kabbala was the propounding of ten Sephiroth, a sort of divine attributes and emanations, virtually ten fundamental points of doctrine. Of these ten Sephiroth, the first three belonged to the essence of God, and the remaining seven were merely crowned heads, an expression equivalent to cardinal principles (Kitto, Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, word Kabbala, p. 190). Among the ten, the first was also called the crown, as prominent or cardinal among themselves. The old Persian philosophy had its two fundamental principles merely, good and evil; and, being more philosophical and less traditional, had more ground to stand upon. There must have been recognized, also, three stages of the Kabbalistic tradition, an older one, the serpent (of the sea), more purely traditional, a later one, more philosophic, represented by the dragon, a lizard type of animal transitional to the land beast or true animal, and finally the beast, as the finally constituted philosophy.

Let us now quote from John, the revelator: “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns,. . . and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born And she brought forth a man-child who was to role all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God and to his throne. . . . And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Rev. xii). And I stood upon the sand of the sea and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns. . . . And I saw one of his heads, as it were, wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed; and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast who is able to make war with him? . . . And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and [but] he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was – healed (Rev. xiii). And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornications. And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus; and when I saw her I wondered with great admiration” (Rev. xvii).

For the fuller exposition, really the true translation of this, for us, mystical literature, in the light of the principles stated in what precedes in this article, the reader is referred to the article which will follow this.


Let us now expound, or, in strict propriety, really translate this brilliant semi-poetic Oriental allegory, into the soberest of modern prose, in accordance with the principles of interpretation previously indicated; bearing in mind that “the woman clothed with the sun” is presumably the same as “the lamb’s wife,” which last is elsewhere (Rev. xxi., 9, 10,) as specifically identified with the New Jerusalem as is “the harlot” with Babylon; and that the New Jerusalem is the undoubted and well-recognized symbol of Christianism, in its prospective triumph and ultimate glory, in the world. The reader is again referred to the twelfth, thirteenth, and seventeenth chapters of the Revelation.


There is a wonderful conflict now instituted and actually going on in the world, between the new doctrine, that of the Christian Church, and the old superstitions. In the foreground of the scope of vision of the observer (“a great wonder, in heaven”)—[lifted, as it were, in the sky], is the Church (“a woman”), warmly affectional, loving, devout, and gloriously feminine (“clothed with the sun”)—[the heat of which denotes the warmth of sentiment and affection]; with, however, a subordinate degree, also, of rational philosophy [“the moon under her feet”—the moon symbolizing reflection, and its subordinate place denoting the secondary rank assigned to the intellect in the scheme of religion; the woman with her predominant affectionality and the warm rays of the sun holding precedence; that is to say, the communion of affection being the staple of Christianism, and the doctrine developed in its dogma secondary]. The Church has also a grand array of special sources of enlightenment (“and upon her head a crown of twelve stars”). And, notwithstanding the fact that Christianism is as yet a sentiment rather than a philosophy; notwithstanding she is as yet only in a subordinate sense intellectual, she is nevertheless pregnant with, and gestating, and near to the production of the final and absolute philosophy. (“And she, being with child, and travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.”)

The opposing object of consideration, lifted also into the same scope of critical observation, and appearing prominently before the world, is the ancient and traditional kabbalistic system of doctrine, which has prevailed and still prevails among mankind, with its ten fundamental doctrines, its three general and its seven specialized principles,—its characteristic heads and points of doctrine (“the dragon”)—[with his “heads and horns”].

This old traditional system of belief is the most formidable enemy both of the Church as such (“the woman”) and of the new scientific philosophy which the Church is about to produce, and which is destined to rule the world. It is especially antagonistic to the new philosophy, which is to be produced through the Church [the son to be born of the woman], “And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered,” standing ready “to devour her child as soon as it was born”—[a philosophy forefelt and foreshadowed, if not foreseen, as the true science-and-philosophy of the future; and so of this latter day]—with its critical and vigorous principles and methods: (“the rod of iron”) with which the son of the woman, the resultant philosophy of the Church, is to rule the whole earth. [Such is to be the masculine or Intellectual progeny of the Church; though she is herself ruled by affection and sentiment] This new philosophy, to be born of the Church, will certainly escape the hostility of the old traditional system (“the dragon”), and will rise into the supreme place, and will be triumphant over all. (“And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”)

[John was probably a Jew by birth; a Roman by citizenship; a Greek-and-Jewish Kabbalist; an adept of the secret wisdom” by education and training; and a Christian by conversion. Like all converts, he employs the learning of the old system against the old system. He is fighting Kabbalism, by the use of the occult and mystical style and methods of the Kabbala; and he was, we cannot doubt, far better understood by the adepts and initiates of that day than he has been since. Observe also, again, that the Kabbala which in its day had treated all popular belief as mere tradition, and scorned it as such, is now, in its turn, treated as tradition, and as the worst enemy of the new doctrine.]

There is [the writer continues], undoubtedly, an open warfare between these two systems, the modern doctrine of truth and progress (“Michael and his angels”—the advocates of truth), and the old traditional doctrine the dragon and his angels” the advocates of error. (“And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.”) But the old tradition so far from conquering (“and prevailed not”) is destined to fade out, and to be known no more in the world. (“Neither was their place found any more in heaven”; i. e., within the scope of the mental vision of mankind.)

Virtually (the author proceeds), learned tradition (“the great dragon, the old serpent called the devil and Satan”), the popular (philosophic) error of the past (which deceiveth the whole world”), with its followers (“his angels”), is already conquered in its worst form, as merely traditional; and is landed upon a somewhat more rational basis (“cast out upon the earth”). [Hence the water-serpent or sea-serpent and dragon or saurian reappear subsequently—ch. xiii.— as a land beast, with the same characteristics, the seven heads and ten horns, and no longer as a serpent of the sea or a dragon. The dragon, an intermediate reptile of the waters’ slimy edge—the crocodile, —Is the transitional stage between the other two. The serpent, the dragon, and the beast are three stages of the development and governing influence of the old, doctrine; first as pure tradition and mystery, with no philosophic ground, properly speaking, to stand upon; the serpent—then as tradition modified by philosophy,—the reading of myths into story, the dragon or saurian; and finally as a full-fledged or grounded philosophy, the beast that came up “out of the sea.” “The sea,” the slime, and “the earth” repeat the symbolism, or represent, in another form, the same three stages.] (“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the devil and Satan [the adversary of the truth], which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”)

[The figure is here mixed. It was a real progress, an elevation, for the serpent to become a dragon, and then a land-beast; but the favorers of the new doctrine, the lovers of truth were conceived of as elevated into heaven or the air, and so as above both sea and land; and hence from the point of view of their position it was a being cast down for the adversary to be thrown on the earth. And even then he is allowed but a short time to exist.] (“Therefore, rejoice ye heavens and ye that dwell in them” disciples of the true doctrine.) “Wo to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea” (disciples of all the stages of the old doctrine), for the devil is come down unto you having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

The highest and best grounded form of the old doctrine (“the beast with seven heads and ten horns”), (so the revelator proceeds), is still a mere derivation from the earliest and most debased form of it.

I hold it, therefore, to its legitimate genesis from mere tradition (as “coming up out of the sea”). I speak from that point of view (“standing upon the sand of the sea”). It is not the less a profane and false system (“and upon his heads the name of blasphemy”). The ten fundamental principles of this old doctrine are still propounded and exulted in (“and upon his horns ten crowns”; “and I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy”). The description of the old doctrine is here resumed and amplified, as it presents itself, at the best, as symbolized by the land-beast in the place of the saurian and ophidian.

The old doctrine (the symbologist continues) is, at its best, a motley patchwork of contradictions (“like unto a leopard”); its real basis, or pediments! supports, if allowed to be represented by the nobler quadrupedal animals at all, must be likened to the feet of the inferior style of such brutes (“and his feet as the feet of a bear”); while yet the loud-mouthed and pretentious promulgations of the sect would present it as a lion (“and his mouth as the mouth of a lion”). But whatsoever it be, its character and authority are, as we have said, wholly derived from and merely transferred to him from the dragon, and so farther back from the serpent; that is to say, the most advanced school is not distinctively different from the earlier schools. (“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were like unto the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power and his seat and great authority.”)

One of the fundamental doctrines of this system was, indeed, at one time supposed to be refuted and abandoned (“and I saw one of his heads wounded, as it were, nnto death”); but it is really upheld and defended as staunchly as ever (but “his deadly wound was healed”), and mankind have continued to delight in this false philosophy (“and all the world wondered after the beast”). But they were, in reality, doing homage to ignorant tradition merely (“and they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast”), etc.

[Many details of exposition have here to be omitted for the want of space.]

There is another great system of philosophy also prevalent in the world (so the account proceeds); namely, Persianism or Zoroastrianism, with its two fundamental principles of good and evil. This doctrine seems Innocent, amiable, and lamb-like in comparison with the other; but at bottom It is nowise different. Its teachings areequally pernicious (“he spoke as a dragon”), and are indeed allied with those of the Kabbala, notwithstanding the fact that it is undoubtedly better grounded in philosophic reasonings (“coming up out of the earth”) [not out of the unstable sea like the other]. (“And I beheld another beast, coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns [points of doctrine] like a lamb [but], “he spoke as a dragon.”)

And so (the account proceeds) these two systems, Kabbalism and Persianism, have blended into each other, and have virtually become one system. Persianism has succumbed to Kabbalism, and now in effect teaches the same doctrine, and so enhances its influence in the world. (“And he [the lamb-like beast] exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them that dwell therein [the great mass of unchristianized philosophers and religionists] to worship the first beast [Kabbalism] whose deadly wound was healed.”)

There is also (the account proceeds) a corresponding social system, or state of society—a grand phase of human evolution—which rests upon and is due to the prevalence of this double form of false philosophy. (“And I saw a woman |the chosen emblem for humanity, or any special civilization or collective state of mankind—as the Church was, as we have seen, represented by a woman] sit upon a scarlet-colored beast [the same color is here assigned to the beast as previously to the serpent], full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (ch. xvii., v., 3). This entire social polity or condition is the old and yet prevalent one in the world, full of wrongs and outrages of every conceivable kind, rich, luxurious, and hypocritical (“and the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color [identified in character with the beast], and decked with gold and precious stones,” etc.); meretricious and false and sustained (up-held) by the old traditional doctrine [sitting or riding upon the beast. Our doctrines are our hobbies or “hobby-horses.” We still speak of “riding our hobbles.” What with us is a trivial illustration or figure of speech was with the Kabbalists an elaborate symbol. Swedenborg makes the Scripture symbol of a doctrine to be a “bed, “which is only another form of something to rest upon. Bed, couch, seat, saddle, or mounted hobby, the genuine idea is the same. Kabbalism was an elaborate form of literature wrought out in the spirit of such symbols, and any attempt to translate or expound it otherwise than by using the key, can lead only to absurdity.]

Still (continues our Kabbalistic author), the crowning sin and branded shame (“upon her forehead”) of the extant social order is its babel of conflicting doctrines and deceptive usages (“Babylon the great”); and, again, the essential cause, the whole, in spirit, of this confused mass of ideas and conducts may be summed up in the one word mystery. [And upon her forehead was a name written. Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.”] This alone is the source of all falsities and extravagant conceptions of the nature of things. [The initiate and adept of the ancient and sacred mysteries, eleusinian, etc., here solemnly renounces and defies them as the very fountain of error; and we of this day can hardly conceive the strength of conviction and the hardihood of bravery required for that act. To make such a renunciation, or to vulgarize the sanctified wisdom of the wide-spread secret society of which the mysteries were functional manifestations had been, for ages, punishable with death.] The old social order (so the account proceeds) is just now especially engaged in the attempt to stamp out the new doctrine by bloody persecutions and other means. (“And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”) And one can only look with wonder at the great conflict, as it progresses. At this point the angel, the admonishing demon, the muse, suggests a needed explanation to the writer’s mind (v., 7.); but the explanation is given in the terms of the same symbolism. It is to the effect, previously implied, that the beast is merely a re-presentation of the serpent, and so merely means tradition (time, or time-lore). “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not,” yet; consists, in other words, of the past and the future; the two great divisions of time. Below they are increased to three, by inserting the present. “The beast that was (past), and is not, yet (future,) and yet is,” now, the present, (v., 3.) The interpolated clause, “shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition,” repeats the “was and is not” as describing the past and future, meaning time. The bottomless pit, the abyss of the mystics, was that past incomprehensibility out of which all things came, and the perdition of the future is that ulterior incomprehensibility into which all things go. “They that dwell upon the earth,” and who wonder at or admire the beast, are the unenlightened masses (“whose names were not written in the book,” etc.).

[“And here is the mind that hath wisdom,” means merely, “I am now about to make a learned statement, which only such as are well versed in this mystic lore will comprehend.” “The seven heads are seven mountains” means that “heads and mountains—mountain-peaks—are synonyms, or mean alike, and may be indifferently used to denote fundamental points of doctrine, horns denoting minor points.” “And there are seven kings” means that kings is another word employed, in this form of literature to mean principles, as in the Zohar (compare princes and principles in their etymology). “Five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.” This clause has a sufficiently obscure look, and after what exposition I can give of it, may still retain somewhat of obscurity; but in the main it is easily apprehended. The writer for some reason, not wholly clear, throws the seven ground doctrines of the Kabbala Into a series, and allies five of them with the past, one with the present, and one with the future— as if we were to ally them with the musical septave, taking the sixth for the present “Five are fallen,” i.e., relate to the past (as we say that a note has fallen due, when its time is past); “one is” (relates to the present), and “the other is not yet come” (relates to the future); “and when he cometh,” when this future arrives (becomes the present), “he must continue a short space” (will be transitory, like the present). “And the beast that was and is not” yet—time at large, past, and future—”even he is the eighth”—is the full octave, “and is of the seven”—subsumes or unifies the seven in one totality aspect which is the eighth—the whole of time—”and which goeth into perdition”—is lost in the incomprehensibility of an eternity to come. Perdition means simply a being lost or lost sight of.]

And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings [principles] which have received no kingdom as yet [minor or more general] in character, not so vigorously stated as principles], but receive power as kings one hour with the beast, [accessory commentaries which are attached temporarily to the general body of the doctrine—the beast]. “These have one mind,” etc. “These shall make war,” etc. The meaning of the seventeenth and eighteenth verses (ch. xvii.) seems then to be that the habit of adding commentaries, of making comments upon the old doctrine will help to undermine and destroy It; God thus intervening to convert evil into good. “And the woman which thou Rawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth,”—that on-going of the social order, which moulds and modifies the operation of all philosophical and doctrinal views. The contents of the eighteenth chapter (and indeed of all the chapters to the end of the Revelation) become now perfectly luminous in the light of these principles of interpretation; and nowhere in the whole range of literature is there a more gorgeous exhibition of the power of language to produce a stupendous picture in words.


The proposition seems to be made good, by the preceding partial interpretation of the Apocalypse, that the mysteries of theology are, in a large degree, an adoption, a partial misapprehension, and a sort of sanctimonious exaggeration or exaltation, of the early and really profound speculations of philosophy. This view of the case will be confirmed by a farther-on examination of the subject; and the time seems propitious now for the revendication, by philosophy, of what was originally its own. To that end, the “secret wisdom,” the Kabbala. and the Kabballstic writings of the Old and New Testaments, must be reexamined in the light of a kind of scientific criticism exactly adapted to the case. Universology. which rediscovers the intellectual grounds of the early system of symbolism—which was the first attempt at the elaboration of a universal science—furnishes the key for, and is that alone which is competent to, the solution demanded. Nothing will more conduce to put the rightfulness of this claim past all doubt than an investigation of the nature and meaning of the so-called sacred numbers. In what precedes, of the interpretation of the revelation, I have purposely omitted numerical passages, reserving them for a special treatment under this head.

One, the One, was (and is) the head-number of all numeration; but it stood, as has been shown, in immediate relation with Two and Three,—they, collectively, being the composite head of number. Reflect how the world’s first serious thinkers must have struggled with the primary problems of number and geometrical form; questions seemingly so simple that they had long ceased to excite interest in the scientific world, until they are, at this moment, recalled for universological purposes. To have discriminated the cardinal from the ordinal numbers, fractions from whole numbers, odd from even numbers, or the three dimensions,—each and every step was a grand scientific triumph of that early dawn of science and discovery. And for us, the solution of mysticism lies in recurring to just those beginning-points, and in taking up threads of investigation which were then provisionally abandoned.

As the definite science of mathematics emerged, the positivistic minds of that early day diverged from further search into the logical and metaphysical meaning of those prime elements (of number and form), and followed out the special elaboration of the new science. The subtler questions affecting the qualitative properties of number, completely surrendered by this class of thinkers for the more obvious and practical considerations of quantity, fell into comparative disrepute, and a feeling doubtless arose among them, like that for which the positivists of this age quote Newton as saying: “O physics, beware of metaphysics!” The subtler meanings were retained only in the memory of the common people, as something which science had been engaged upon, and so became first traditional, and then mythological. In this state, they were taken up by the priesthood, sanctified, and so were ultimately converted into mysteries.

It is in this manner that there has descended through all the ages, with the common people, with the dreamy thinkers of all schools, and in all theosophies and theologies alike, Naturian and Christian, a belief in the doctrine of “sacred numbers.” Certain numbers have been reputed to have a pivotal or transcendent importance in the regulation of the affairs of the universe,—to constitute, in a word, the aristocracy of numbers; and to each of these superior numbers certain special meanings were attached. The whole philosophy of Pythagoras rested upon this idea, and his labors were an effort to recover and give form to an earlier and even then obsolescent system of thought. The Tetraktvs, or sacred four, and the Decad, or sacred ten (1+2+3+4) were made prominent by him; but 1, 8, 7, and 12 (40 and 144) have among all peoples held preeminence. The philosophy of Charles Fourier is at bottom nothing else but the effort to adjust the universal distribution of things to the governing influence of these numbers; as in music, with its unison, its three chords, its seven diatonic and its twelve chromatic notes; and in all this, he is again in full harmony with the Christian Scriptures. All theologians recognize a certain mystical significance in these numbers; and the teaching of this lore, in connection with a special and very peculiar form of literature, the object of which was in part to conceal and in part to communicate ideas, constituted mainly, perhaps, the mysteries taught to initiates in the great religions of the past. The object of this Essenian* or allegorical form of literature was to convey definite philosophical doctrine in such a way as to be so understood by adepts, while it should seem to the uninitiated to be a simple narration of events. It was an extended parable, or a parable upon a large scale. It differed widely, however, from the simple allegory of our times, in the fact that the formation of this particular kind of allegory was rigorously governed by the secret wisdom, or cryptic science, which in turn furnished a key for its interpretation.

The most remarkable and brilliant writer of this school of whom we now know, was undoubtedly John the Revelator; and in respect to him the paradox already alluded to occurs, which is the very irony of history. The chief burden of his so called Revelation was, as we have seen, a powerful invective against Mystery in the traditional and perhaps less accurately constructed works of other authors, really of his own school,—the Kabbalists, especially,—while he was himself employing a style, and consigning his thoughts to a form, which have proved the quintessence of mystery, from his day to this. It sounds like a huge joke to speak of a Revelation, which was so hermetically sealed that nobody has been, heretofore, able to reveal it

The reason of this has been that the very technical and nicely-fitted key to this and other similar literary enigmas was lost, and was perhaps never possessed in perfection by more than a handful of persons. In respect to the matter of numbers, the following solution, derived from the universological rediscovery of the primitive basis of the doctrine of sacred numbers, will, it is believed, prove satisfactory.

Among the numerical passages omitted in the portion of the Revelation above treated of, are the expressions “time and times and half a time.” often repeated (ch. xii.. v. 14, et al.), and which is to be taken as meaning 3½, and the number 660 (“six hundred threescore and six,” ch. xiii., v. 18). This last number, elsewhere assigned to Antichrist, has been the grand crux in the thousands of efforts which have been made to expound the Apocalypse. They are recalled here, to say that their solution (omitted above) will form an early portion of the following comment.

Numbers sometimes occur of course In these Hermetic writings, In their ordinary quantitative meanings, as in the case of the seven heads and ten horns, as above interpreted. But in addition to this ordinary use of numbers, numbers were employed in certain qualitative senses; that is to say, certain numbers were first supposed to involve the meaning of certain qualities, principles, or general ideas; and the numbers themselves were then used for those ideas, with no quantitative value whatever attached to them. This gave to the writings which employed this and other similar devices a secret meaning, the understanding of which and of the metaphysical or philosophical grounds of the devices constituted the far-famed “secret wisdom,” or cryptic lore of the ancients. This obscurity given to the use of numbers was still further involved in mystery, and sometimes doubtless as a mere pedantry, by using augmentations, doublets, multiples, etc., of simple numbers to mean the same things as the simple numbers, with only perhaps some difference of emphasis. The key of this cryptic lore has not been retained among the moderns; but this style of literature has been known to have existed, something of its nature has been guessed, and theologians and others have referred to it as the origin of the doctrine of sacred numbers; but it has hardly been seriously suspected that portions of Genesis, the Revelation entire, and sundry other parts of the Bible are the purest instances of this exceptional form of literature.

The best known instance of a number having qualitative meaning is that of the number seven, which, it is agreed on all hands, is used throughout the Scriptures to denote all, entirety, the whole, sufficiency, satisfaction, fulness, completeness, perfection, abundance, etc. One has only to look into any biblical dictionary to find all this asserted. Swedenborg assembles nearly thirty Instances of this use of the word in the Bible. So in secular writings, Cicero styles the number seven “the knot and cement of all things, as being that by which the natural and spiritual world are comprehended in one idea.” (Tusc. Quoest, 1, 10.) But neither class has known the true reason why this number acquired this meaning: which will be shown farther on.

The number seven, used in this Kabballstic or Hermetic sense, occurs quite frequently in the Apocalypse, thus:—

“The seven churches” means the whole Church, the Christian world.

“The seven golden candlesticks,” all sources of enlightenment, the whole Church (ch. i., v. 19).

“The seven stars in the right hand of God,” all the luminaries or great men of the Church, the favorites of God, whom he holds “in the hollow of his hand.” Stars means celebrities, as we speak of theatrical stars. “The stars of heaven” are the leading men, the thinkers and philosophers of the whole world. So, to Bay of the dragon, “His tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” (ch. xii., v. 4). means that the Kabbala tradition was one of the three great dominant systems of faith and philosophy; commanded the allegiance of one-third of the great thinkers or leaders of opinion; and, by so doing, was the badge of their degradation to a lower plane (did cast them to the earth). The tail of serpent or dragon merely repeats and emphasizes the back-extending trail-like character (traditional) of the animal itself, the whole animal of this type being nothing but a sort of animated tail (whence its symbolism).

“The seven spirits which are before his throne,” a periphrasis of perfection, the divine spirit.

“The seven angels of the seven churches,” all the presiding officers and luminaries of the Church Universal (ch. i., v. 19).

“A lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits” (ch. v., v. 6), means the risen Lord or lordship over humanity, replete with all right principles or doctrines (seven horns, all points of doctrine), and all investigating powers, or powers of insight or wisdom (seven eyes, all insight), which are the entire spirit of the divine revelation made to man. The seven spirits, the whole spirit of God sent forth into all the earth.

“And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals” (ch. v., v. 1), means: I was contemplating as closely guarded by God himself (kept in his right hand) the volume of universal nature (the book), wholly unreadable (written within and on the back side, out of sight), and absolutely sealed (by seven seals), as the Problem of Being, to be resolved or read. The writer goes on to say that he sorrowed much that none could read the book (v. 2, 3, 4), but that assurance finally came to him that the Christian story is the solution. The seven seals were now to be taken off of the book (v. 5-14).

Observe here a peculiar characteristic in this literature. While seven means all, or the whole. It still suggests so much of its quantitative meaning that this writer immediately sets about elaborating this whole into seven constituent parts. So he names seven particular churches, and works up some sort of a message to each of them; and so here he sets a different angel to the opening of each seal; and so to the manipulation of the trumpets and vials which follow. The filling in of this detail makes a considerable part of the treatise, in volume; but it is less significant, and may be regarded as the flowering-out of the author’s poetic license, rather than in the light of a fundamental part of the plot. The fact that these interpolations may sometimes run into fanciful involutions which we are not wholly able to interpret does not interfere with the fact that our key unlocks the main plot of this mystical composition.

When it came the turn of the seventh angel to remove the last seal (when the problem of the universe was to be finally or completely unfolded, solved), postponement takes place; “there was silence in heaven” for a short space; expectation is on tiptoe; seven other angels are introduced who are furnished with seven trumpets. This means that the formalities of complete promulgation (seven trumpets) had still to be waited for. The heraldry of heaven is marshalled to the front, and again we are carried through the detail of what occurred at the blast of each trumpeter. This Is an exquisite literary device, but, as a philosophical denouement, the hoped for ultimate solution of the problem of being, when “the mystery of God should be finished” (ch. x., v. 7), was destined never to be fully and satisfactorily accomplished by the philosophic method then in question. The process of partial promulgation now proceeded, as that of unloosing the seals had done before, until the seventh trumpeter comes forward, and with him the pregnant instant of time, when at last the whole truth was to burst on the waiting eye and ear; but, alasl another disappointment and postponement! Murmuring took the place of elucidation. Seven thunders uttered their voices (ch. x., v. 3, 4). The mighty angel waited till the thunders subsided, and then, armed with the seventh trumpet (v. 1-5), striding the land and the sea (v. 2-5), and holding the universe, as it were, in suspense, swore a most mighty oath “that there should be time no longer,” and consequently tradition no longer and mystery no longer; but that from the instant that he should begin to sound, “the mystery of God should be finished.”

But alas! and alas! he did not begin to sound. He never uttered the first note. An intervention took place from on high; expectation was allayed, and matters took another turn. A quiet intimation was conveyed to the intent listener (v. 8) that, instead of the trumpet-blast of an absolute and overwhelming revelation, he must content himself with receiving “a little book open,” a small modicum or instalment of explanation of the great sealed book of Nature. This be was told he could “eat” (and digest) at his leisure. And the unpleasant information was added that, while in the eating, or at first, it would be pleasing and satisfactory to him (as new suggestions of truth are so), yet, as he should digest it, it would prove disappointing, baffling, and unsatisfactory. And his experience confirmed this assurance. “And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, and as soon as I had eaten it my belly was bitter” (v. 10). “And he said unto me: Thou must prophesy again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (v. 11); which meant that he must resume his weary task of trying to do some good, without so much as hoping for an absolute revelation of all truth. Sad and tragic ending of the splendid promise of the grand imaginative spectacle he had been witnessing! but strictly true to the logic of the nature of things.

Still, his patient waiting was ultimately, and in another sense, rewarded. After more delay, and three great woes, the seventh angel did finally sound, and the prospective triumph of Christianity was the burden of his trumpeting, not a philosophical but a practical solution, not an objective but a subjective synthesis of universal things (ch. xi., v. 15—19).

The seven vials of the wrath of God mean the entire subversive or disharmonic period of the development of history, prior to the advent of that high harmony of which Christianity was the promise, and of which it was the prospective realization. Vials mean (probably), etymologically, filled things, hence fulnesses, and “seven vials” means, emphatically, all of the given period.

Seven, meaning all, when it is applied to time (days, months, or years), means always or forever. The significance of the other sacred numbers will be resumed in the next article.

* I employ this term not as though the Essenes were the only writers of this (Hermetic) style, but because with them, and especially with John the Revelator, we have what may be called the Augustan age of this remarkable literary development.


The last preceding article ended by an allusion to the objective synthesis, and the subjective synthesis, of universal things. These terms are derived from the positive philosophy of Auguste Comte, and need some explanation. To solve the, problem of the universe is to obtain a satisfactory schemative conception of the world and of the relation of its parts. This universal schemative conception is a synthesis, in the mind of the thinker, of universal things, or of the way in which things are.

Any such scheme of things, entertained by us, being necessarily within the mind (whether it also exists objectively or not), Is necessarily, in that sense, subjective; but the scheme itself may be conceived in either of two ways, such that they may still be appropriately discriminated as objective and subjective, respectively.

If the world is conceived of from its own point of view, or as it is supposed to be in itself, man taking his place in it only as a minor and inconsiderable portion of things at large, which he is, from that point of view, we constitute, in our thoughts, what is known as the objective synthesis,—assuming that the way in which we think the thing is substantially the way in which the thing is. This kind of synthesis is, however, of several sorts. Descartes attempted such a synthesis on the basis of the mathematics, the abstract ideas of magnitude, figure, and motion; and with algebra as his Instrument. The evolutionists of more recent date are now attempting it on the basis of biology (see Evolution and Positivism, by J. H. Bridges, Fortnightly Review, June and July 1877). I, again, discover that the most ancient class of thinkers, founders of the pre-Christian theosophies and mysteries, and, prior to these, of the higher type of ancient philosophy, made the same attempt, also on a mathematical basis, but differing from Descartes by taking, as basis within the mathematics, the first elements merely of number and form,—one, two, three; odd, even; the curve and the straight line, etc. Universology re-discovers, re affirms, clarifies, and enlarges this latter view, working out from these few simple elements a demonstrative objective synthesis as basis and guide, while, then, it accepts and further elaborates the subjective synthesis (defined below), and ends by integrating the two syntheses, making the new objective synthesis dominant, as the canon of criticism, on the other.

If, on the other hand, the world is conceived of from the point of view of man, and his wants and destiny, taken as the matter of focal and supreme importance, all the rest of the world being ranged as high and low, near and far, according to its relative Importance to man (the cosmical subject), we constitute in our thoughts what is named the subjective synthesis. (See Bridges, as quoted above, and Wakeman’s address before the Free Religious Association.) This also is of several sorts. The primitive selfish instincts of every Individual race and nation begin by a subjective synthesis proper to him or itself. There is not a baby three months old but has a schemative conception of universal things of which itself is the centre, the all-important something, to which everything else is adjunct, and important precisely in the degree in which it tends to subserve the little despot’s wants. This is the first type or variety of the subjective synthesis. The second remarkable subjective synthesis is that of the Christian scheme of salvation, or, in other phrase, of the Christian religion and theology. In accordance with these, the human soul is infinitely the most precious thing in existence; to save one’s own soul and the souls of mankind is the great work and purpose of all sane thinking and exertion; and “the world,” as contrasted with the soul, is “earthly, sensual, devilish,”—a something to be valued, used, or tolerated only in so far as it is indispensable, and its use unavoidable. The third and latest subjective synthesis is that of “Positivism” (Comtean), which, setting aside the supramundane factor, the world to come, otherwise agrees with Christianism (with which in that respect it is strongly contrasted) in making man and his concerns, that Is to say, not his heavenly but his earthly destiny, the subject of our supreme concernment,—subordinating the world apart from man to the rank of a mere pediment for him; having no other importance than as it relates to and subserves the needs of his existence.

The doctrine of the objective synthesis, of any grade, is then that which presents, or attempts to present, in the language of Mr. Bridges, “a picture of the universe,” man taking his very subordinate position as a minor part of it, a genus, a species, or a mere variety of the animal world; and the doctrine of the subjective synthesis, of any of its grades, is that which presents man with the world as his footstool, or that which, in the language of the same writer, “is no picture of the universe, but only of the relations of the universe to human life.”

Further to illustrate these two technicalities which are destined to play a great part in the sciento-philosophic discussions of the future, the objective synthesis is like au occidental map of the world taken as a globe,—which gives no precedence to the locality of the most leading nations, but treats all alike; while the subjective synthesis is Illustrated by a Chinese map of the world, which fills nineteen twentieths of the room assigned to it with “the central flowery kingdom” (China), and places all the other nations, England, France, etc., as little islets around the edges. The Chinese, when they instituted their geography, were, relatively to this earth, situated as the positivist holds that we are situated with regard to the larger world, or universe,—in a state of inability to compass it as it is, and reduced therefore to the necessity of treating it in an incomplete and purely relative manner,—relative to the way in which it more or less particularly concerns us. The subjective synthesis is confessedly very imperfect; but it is the best, it is held, which we can hope to do, with our limited powers.

We have now to observe that the objective synthesis stands correlate with discursive and theoretical methods of thinking; in a word, with metaphysical philosophy and pure science. It is indifferent to the superiority of man over crude Nature, putting everything which is upon the same footing; while, on the other hand, the subjective synthesis stands correlate with practical affairs, with the social destiny of man, and with our duty as rational beings in the world; in a word, therefore, with religion,—whence it is that Comte’s philosophy culminates In religion; differing from Christianity, it is true, in not attempting to reach beyond this world, but agreeing with it, as against mere philosophy and science, in making human destiny the focus and centre of all its purposes and exertions.

In a word, the objective synthesis, or a mental picture of the world as it is supposed to be, in itself (with no special prominence or supremacy assigned to man), is characteristic of philosophy and science; and the subjective synthesis, or a mental picture of the world as it stands related to man—to the needs, aspirations, duty, and career of man—(the outer or objective world being merely his pediment or footstool), is characteristic of religion and the practicalities of life; and, in fine, the integral or unlversological synthesis is that which embraces and coordinates these two in a higher unity, subjecting the religious and practical to the guidance of the purely rational,—the purely rational meaning, not a system of general raisonnements about the facts of history and observation, but an absolute metaphysical and logical analysis of the universal nature of things.

The earliest philosophy had aimed at this objective synthesis. John the Revelator had looked to it with confidence, before he became a Christian, to solve the mystery of being. As a Christian, his attention and hope were turned away from this earlier promise, as something disappointing and futile, and fixed upon the subjective synthesis of Christianism. It is the presentation of these two views, and the transition of the author’s mind from the one to the other, as the hope of the world, which is the burden of the Revelation.

I now discover, therefore, that the Apocalypse is a divine drama in two acts, grander in conception, and more grandly outwrought, from a purely literary point of view, than the Divina Commedia of Dante, but demanding the special key of the ancient hermeticism, to unlock the treasures of Its peculiar form of literature. The subject of the first act of the drama is the promised solution of the world’s problem (the enigma of existence) through philosophy, and the virtual failure of philosophy to redeem its promise. The enigma is represented by the “book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals (absolutely sealed, ch. v., v. 1.), impervious in all senses to the searching sight of the inquirer. The meagre outcome of the immense promise of philosophy to solve the enigma, and its small and disappointing result (the virtual failure of the attempt to institute an objective synthesis) is represented by the other “little book open” (ch. x., v. 2), sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly (v. 9, 10). The subject of the second act of the drama is the real solution of the same problem and enigma, through the new and true religion,—Christianity,—by the marriage of the God-man,—the divinizing teacher and martyr, “our Lord,”—and the prospective divinized humanity, the New Jerusalem, or the Church (John’s conception of the subjective synthesis).

The first three chapters of the Apocalypse are a proem or general Introduction, and a dedication of the drama to the whole Christian world. The first act extend* from the first or, exsluding the proem, from the fourth to the tenth chapters inclusive. The eleventh chapter is a special introduction to the second act, sketching the long period of evil—what Fourier calls the subversive career of mankind—preceding the advent of high harmony. From the twelfth chapter, inclusive, to the end is the second act of this magnificent drama. It bursts upon us, at the opening of the twelfth chapter, with the presentation of the glorified woman, the Church,—the destined bride of the Lord. From this point up to the nineteenth chapter, eleventh verse, the space is filled with the most vivid pictures of the conflicts and conquests of the Church with and over the serpent, dragon, and beast, the old traditional doctrine; and over Babylon, the old and false social order. At this point, the Lord, the Word of God (ch. xix., v. 13), the Logos, the bridegroom, Is introduced and duly celebrated. He aids the Church to her final conquest. The beast and the false prophet (another symbol of the prevalent badness of the times) are overcome and imprisoned (v. 20); and the action of the drama now moves on with majestic sweep to its grand denouement, in the marriage of the King of kings and Lord of lords with the Church, the redeemed world, symbolized by the New Jerusalem, and the new heaven and the new earth.

We may now return to the consideration of the numerical clauses involved in the drama, including to some extent a further notice of the hermetic numerals at large. The fact that seven means all is admitted on all hands, and has been sufficiently established. Shall we now ask why? Theologians are ready with their assumedly-historical answer, and feeble guess: “It is most likely that the idea of sufficiency and completeness became originally associated with the number seven from the Creator having finished, completed, or made sufficient all his work on the seventh day; and that hence, also, it was adopted as a sacred number, a number chiefly employed in religious concerns in order to remind mankind of the creation and its true author.” (Kitto, Cyc. of Bib. Lit. w. seven.) Philosophy inverts the order of response, after this manner. It first shows the adequate logical reasons for the values assigned to this and the other sacred numbers by the early or so-called hermetic thinkers, and then points out the fact that the supposed history of creation in Genesis, the rest of God on the seventh day included, Is merely the reading of these early philosophic speculations into mythical story.

First, in respect to 7, with its meaning of all, summation, or the whole. This was nothing more than the tradition of the first discovery of the fact that certain numbers are sums or products of other numbers which are factors or parts of these larger and entire sums. Thus 3 is the all or entirety of 1 and 2 (1+2); 7 of 3 and 4 (3+4); and 12 of 3 multiplied by 4 (3×4), or of 7 plus 5 (7+5), etc. This incipiency of arithmetic is now for us so simple, so much of the nature of necessary and obvious truth, that it requires a mental effort to conceive that it was, for its day, a great scientific discovery; proclaimed as such; talked of by the learned of that unlearned period; stamped upon the wondering mind of the masses, and so magnified in importance that it remained impressed upon the general public as something marvellous, and ultimately as mystical, magical, and “sacred,” long after those early scientists who first made the observation had forgotten it, as anything other than a natural and simple fact.

Almost any number, being in fact the sum or product of certain other and complement of numbers, might be taken as all or whole, and accordingly 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12 occur in the Kabbala in that sense, when the confusion pointed out by scholars for instance in the philosophy of Pythagoras. The 7, however, gained a general and almost exclusive prominence for this idea, except that 12 represented it in a still higher and holier sense, less philosophic and more religious, especially when doubled, 24, or squared, 144, and again when augmented by the usual decimal series of numbers,—140,000, ate. The reason of this predominance of these two numbers 7 and 12, as indices of complete summation, was doubtless the pivotal importance of 3 and 4, the immediate (less elementary and more elaborate) successors of 1 and 2, and the relation of 7 and 12 with these numbers, and with each other, through the fact that 7 Is their sum and 12 their product. We are thus conducted back to the question of the qualitative meanings assigned to 4 and 8.

The 4 was the elaborated head (2, the elementary) of the even number series, 2, 4, 6, 8, etc.; and 3 the elaborated head (1, the elementary) of the odd number series, 1, 3, 5, 7, etc. Even means equal, odd means unequal. Herbert Spencer has elaborately and conclusively shown that the universal form of intellectual mentation, or, in other words, of the whole process of reasoning, is the perception and discrimination of equality and inequality (of the dual relation of the equal and the unequal; i.e., of odd and even, even and odd). Spencer, Psyc. v. ii., pp. 352-3, et al. The first discoverers of odd and even, as a simple fact of the distribution of numbers, were close upon the track of, and had a more or less clear perception of, this astute metaphysic reformulated in our day by Mr. Spencer. Their method of formulation was to assign a special and very significant meaning to the number 4, and another contrary and equally significant meaning to the number 3. Let us see what were the meanings so assigned.

The number 4 was first associated with the geometrical square,(and with all things square, squared, or “on the square,” and so with superior moral excellence,—number, form, and morals being thus analogically, and as It were spiritually associated by a tie of relation transcending the particular sphere; 4 came also to denote spiritual and divine affairs, and also analogia, or the higher logic. It was named in Greek the tetracktis, or sacred four.

The number 3 was first associated, on the contrary, with the geometrical triangle (Isosceles), and with all things ratio-ed, or tapering from a broad base to an apex; and then with ratio or reason; and with reasoning of the inductive order (from apex to base) and of the deductive order (from base to apex), all of which was deemed a lower, inferior, and merely human method of mentation, as compared with the transcendental and divine method, signified by 4.

The 4 repeats analogically the cardinal series at large, with an augmentation of its sanctity and excellence; the 3 repeats, by its tapering divergency, the stream or snake-like pretension of the ordinal series, with an augmentation of its profanity and badness. The 4 was, therefore, absolutely correct (square), supreme, analogical or figurative, spiritual, divine, masculoid; and the 3 was relatively incorrect, (though in the form of ratio or reason), subordinate, merely logical or literal, human, devilish, and feminoid (as contrasted with the spiritual, divine, and masculoid. Cf. the theological expressions more divino and more humano). Herein is the germ of the whole doctrine of the imperfection of the human reason, and of the fact that it can be and is transcended by a divine revelation made to another and different faculty of the mind than that which merely reasons, after the human type of reasoning. We also now see clearly what Cicero, already quoted, himself doubtless an initiate, means, when he says that 7 (3+4) is “the knot and cement of all things, as being that by which the natural and spiritual world are comprehended in one idea.”

The classical expression “ter, quater que beati” (thrice and four times blessed), contains an allusion to the union of 3 and 4 In the composition of 7, meaning absolutely, or in the highest degree. It is the same with the frequent repetitions of three and four in the first chapter of Amos. See, for a striking exhibit of the great prevalence of 7 in the early writings of the world, Isis Unveiled, Blavatskl, v. ii., p. 407.

A great revival of interest in hermetic literature has already begun. The appearance within a few years, in America alone, of four such works as The Blazing Star, by the late Wm. B. Greene, Isis Unveiled, by Madame Blavatski, The Kabbala, by Dr. S. Pancoast, and Swedenborg a Hermetic Philosopher, by Gen. E. H. Hitchcock, are indications of this fact. It is believed, however, that a clear exposition of the divine comedy, if we may borrow the term, of John of Patmos will do more than all that has occurred to augment the interest in, and the recognition of, the importance of this unique literature.

The numerical exposition will be continued in the next number.


Let us now give attention to the applied meanings of 4 and 3 in the Apocalypse. Perhaps the two most mystical, and seemingly hopelessly incomprehensible, passages in the whole drama are the following two extracts, the first involving the significance of 4, and the second that of 3: “And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the/our horns of the golden, altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour and a day and a month and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breast-plates of fire, and of jacinth, and of brimstone; and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire and by the smoke and by the brimstone which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.” (ch. lx., vs. 13-10.) Could anything seem more hopelessly involved, mystical, and incapable of explanation than this 1

The second test passage is the well-known battleground of exegesis, the crux of theology, and the despair of theologians, thus: “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred and threescore and six.” (ch. xiii., v. 18.)

Around these two passages I will hinge my exposition of the meanings of 4 and 3, as applied in the Apocalypse, condensing to the utmost.

First, in regard to the first of the two passages, from the ninth chapter. We are here in the midst of the sounding of the seven trumpeters, who announce, in series and detail, the particulars of the reign of evil and mystery, allied with time, of which “the other mighty angel” (ch. x., v. 1) was about to announce the end. This seriation of the reign of evil, a series of 7, is itself divided into 4 and 3. The first four trumpeters announced evils, to be sure, but moderated by the benign presidency of this diviner number 4.(a “third part” signifying here, probably, a minor proportion); but the heraldry of the last, three trumpeters, ruled over by the nefastous spirit of this accursed number 3, culminates in the three grand woes of humanity. “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Wo, wo, wo to the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpets of the three angels which are yet to sound.” (ch. viii., v. 13.)

The burden of the trumpeting of the fifth angel is the summing up of the innumerable minor evils of life, symbolized by locusts and scorpions, the vermin or minor pests of life, with their capacity to annoy and sting. These embody the first wo. “One wo is past, and -behold there come two woes more hereafter.” (ch. ii., v. 12.)

The burden of the trumpeting of the sixth angel (that with which we now have to do) is the systematized false doctrine in the world, preeminently the Kabbala, the philosophy, with its mystical teachings and instituted mysteries, which, preceding Christianity, then remained its chief obstacle and enemy. This embodies the second wo. The third wo was the open insurrection of the powers of evil against the powers of good. The larger detail of these last two woes is remitted to the second act.

The burden of the passage under comment (the sixth angel’s trumpeting) is therefore the old philosophy then extant in the world, the same which is to be more fully expanded in the second act, under the symbols of the serpent, the dragon, and the beast. It is here introduced in a preliminary way merely. By the four horns of the golden altar which was before God, understand the four points of doctrine affecting the nature of God; subdivisions of the “Crown,” or chief doctrine of the Kabbala. The trinity of attributes (subsequently, in Christian theology, erected into persons) and the unity of personality, called the Godhead, readily expand in the minds of both learned and simple into a uniform fourfoldness. Madam Blavatski thus identifies the hermetic doctrine of the trinity (the invisible unity, the two opposite emanating forces, and the produced equilibrium=4) with the tetraktisof Pythagoras (Isis Unveiled, v. I., p. 507). And Prescott, in his Conquest of Peru, tells us of the youth Philipillo, who, being educated in the Catholic dogma, to convey it to the Peruvians, taught his countrymen, in simple good-faith, that the Spaniards had four gods,—”They first had three gods, and then they had one god.” So here “a voice from the golden altar which is before God” is merely a poetico-philosophical mode of saying, “a voice from God,” from him who embodies the supreme 4 attributions or aspections of his own being.

What, then, are “the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates”? Asia is used hermetically or kabbalistically to denote the universe of being, conceived as emanating from God. As, the root of the word Asia, is the Sanscrit and general Hindu-European root to signify being. It is the English is, the third person singular (ind. pres.) of the verb to be. At the same time that Asia meant universal being, the universe, it meant also the world, and in a more special sense the great central continent (Asia), which at an earlier period was practically the world, in the same sense as that in which the Roman Empire was go, subsequently. It was the very essence of the cryptic literature to play upon such double meanings of words, the one metaphysical and the other physical. Now Euphrates was the great central river of the physical Asia; and a river with its currental, seriated, wave-like pretension was, equally with a serpent, the emblem of whatsoever current or course, and so of time, and of the total outflow of successive emanations from God and light and good (according to this philosophy), into Nature, and to and beyond the confines of good, into the realm of darkness and evil. Such was the celebrated emanations-doctrine of kabbalists and hermetlcs. The great river Euphrates, centering the continent of Asia (the world, the universe, in the metaphor), rightly, therefore, and grandly, symbolizes the total evolution or current of (inverse) development, as a natural outflowing from God, according to this emanations-theory, then the supreme thesis of philosophy.

The emanations from the divine, in their successive currental waves, were infinite in their possible number; but, mainly, they were reckoned as four; this divine number appropriately measuring them. They had been already (in the fifth chapter) elaborately symbolized by the four horsemen, seated upon the series of four horses, white, red, black, and pale or livid. (This symbolism will be more specifically expounded further on.) As the feathered heels of Mercury meant voyaging and speed, so horsemen,— rushing forth as couriers and headsmen of clans,— were a fitting emblem of those emanations from the divinity which, as they became more remote and vitiated, declining from white, to red, black and livid, were destined to turn and make war on the Almighty himself. The series of four issuing horsemen is, then, merely reproduced here in and by the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. In both cases the real thing designated is the philosophical doctrine of emanations, in successive flow or current, time like, and, as the writer now believes, essentially erroneous or evil. The limiting number 4 was assigned to the doctrine by its advocates, which the writer once was, and he does not disturb the language of usage; but he now sees that this whole hypothesis of the nature of things is time-like, currental, evanescent (such as should be represented by 8 and the ordinal series); and this view he now states in these terms: They, the four angels (emanations), “were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year,” i.e., for the divisions of time, or for temporary and evil purposes; they too, as a phase of evil, a grand wo, were destined to slay a third part of men. The kabbalisttc philosophy, here characterized by one of its main doctrines,—that of emanations,—is the same, be it remembered, which reappears in the second act, as serpent, dragon, and beast; and we are elsewhere told that “the serpent drew the third part of the stars of heaven with his tail, and did cast them to the earth.”

The correctness of this reading is now strikingly confirmed in the next verse (ch. ix., v. 15): “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand.” Nothing has been said of horsemen, or their armies, in this connection. It is, then, without any possible doubt, the horsemen of the fifth chapter which are here again brought forward, and identified with the four angels in the great river. They now appear as warriors, which is an idea added to their former character as couriers, ‘and leads on to their reappearance, in this latter character, in the second act. The two hundred million, mentioned as their army, I take to be not a kabbalistic number, but an actual estimative census of the population of the world, perhaps current in that age, and as meaning all mankind.

Of the four horsemen (or angels) the one nearest to the divine, the immediate and inmost, he who was seated on the white horse, was the divine logos, as held by the philosophers. Him the writer adopts, and identifies with the Christ-lord of Christianism. The three other emanations are evil, and blend into the serpent, dragon, and beast. The logos reappears In the opening of the second act as Michael, and late in the second act, as the identical first horseman fighting against and overcoming his enemies. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold! a white horse, and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns, and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself. And he was clothed In a vesture dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God”—the Logos, (ch. xix., vs. 11-13.)

“And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat upon them, having breastplates [escutcheons] of fire and of jacinth and of brimstone” (ch. ix., v. 17). Fire symbolizes intensity, earnestness, Love. Jacinth means brilliancy, luminosity, Intelligence, Wisdom; and brimstone means pungency (from its odor), emanating energy, force, Operation. In the good, sense these, then, are the Divine Love, the Divine Wisdom, and the Divine Operation, which are Swedenborg’s trinity of divine essences, constituting the Inmost nature of God. In the inverse or evil sense, they are the Satanic love, the Satanic wisdom (the wisdom of the serpent), and the Satanic operation or activity. (See, also, Swedenborg.) In the terms of modern science, we may say, instead, substance, form (idea—Gr. eidor) and movement, or force. “Fire and brimstone” are merely, therefore, the matter and force (Stoff und Kraft) of our modern (and equally of the antique) materialism; and it may be added, in passing, that “the worm that never dies” was only another expression for the snake or serpent, denoting time and temporal evolution, with its perpetual coiling*, progressions, and reversions. Thus these awful theological sanctions of divine wrath are traced to their very innocent sources in philosophical disquisitions, which were afterwards distilled, first through the crucible of popular misapprehension, second through that of poetical mythology, and thirdly through that of the priestly assumption of the divine authority of priests “to deal damnation round the land.”

“And the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions,” denoting boldness and strength of manifestation, as already explained In the case of the beast (ch. xiii., 2). And out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone,—a mixture of clearness, obscurity, and force,—partly intelligible revelation, partly obscure intimation, but always, alike, undeniably potential.

“By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.” What three? No three horsemen and horses (having months) have been mentioned. Abruptly here again, as when he introduced the horsemen, the author refers to what was in his own mind, but which he has not explained; namely, that the remaining three emanations (the black, red, and pale horses), after disposing of the first and divine emanation (the white horse and his rider), are evil potencies destructive of mankind. “For their power is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt” Months denote promulgations, utterances, doctrines. Tails denote (the same as serpents) traditions, customs, things which gather “head” by mere force of continuance—“the power of things which are.

We recur now to the other passage, which involves directly, and in its most concentrated form, the evil meaning of the number three. “Here is wisdom.” This expression, several times repeated, means in every case simply a notification to the reader that what is about to be said belongs peculiarly to the cryptic science or “secret wisdom” of the hermetlcs—that it is something which cannot be understood without the key—something technical in this school. Hence, it is added: “Let him that hath understanding [who is rightly instructed] count the number of the beast.” The beast repeats and represents the serpent. Both are allied with time, temporality, tradition, transitory, ephemeral things; ordinary (or ordinal), i. e., commonplace things, as contrasted with spacial things, or the cardinary sphere; hence with profane as contrasted with sacred things; with evil as contrasted with good; with the lower or merely human order of things as contrasted with the spiritual, celestial, and divine order. “To count the number of the heart” is, therefore, to recognize by the “secret wisdom,” by hermetic lore, how to describe this lower and evil order of things, this night-side of Nature, so as to designate it numerically—to affix to it its appropriate number—according to this peculiar theory of the Inherent significance of numbers. “For it is the number of a man,” means, what has been stated, that this range of things is the human range, as contrasted with the divine sphere—things viewed more humano, and not more divino. This is the number of man, in the depreciative sense, as unfavorably contrasted with the divine. Later (ch. xxi., v. 17) 144 (12 x 12) is called “the number of a man, that is of the angel” (i.e., of the perfected or divinized man).

This sinister number is no other than our now familiar acquaintance, the number 3 (the contrasted number with the tetraktis or divine number, 4); but it is the number 3 carried to its utmost Intensity by being wrapped up in considerable complexity. To emphasize the human, imperfect, and evil character of this order of things the 3 is first doubled, making 6, (cf. 12 x 2 = 24 elders), and then this duplicated 3 is carried up to a sort of third power, as 666 (“six hundred threescore and six”). This number, from its evil-omened character, then became associated with antichrist, as contrasted with the divine 4, at first assigned by the hermetics to the ensemble of the divine emanations; but 4 reduced to 1, the first of these emanations, the divine logos, (by the revelator), and so identified with Christ,—the remaining three of these emanations were by him passed over to the side of evil, and ingeniously relegated to the sinister number 3. Thus it is that 7 (4 + 3) was, with the ancients, the inclusive number, the symbol of totality, or of combined good and evil, the combined spiritual and material, etc. Other passages will be considered and other numbers explained in the next article.


Let us select two other passages involving the symbolism of the numbers 4 and 3, hardly less seemingly mystical than those which have been expounded. First, as involving the number 4: “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God, and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them that were sealed; and there were sealed one hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.” (Ch. vii., vs. 1-4.)

It was the usage of the ancients to imagine some god or spirit or angel as presiding over every part and every operation of Nature. Not until Kepler, who supposed the planets to be drawn by delegated angels, did this habit expire. The four angels of this order, here introduced by our author, presided over the four quarters of the firmament; and hence over the four winds which issued thence. The number 4 was, as we have seen, peculiarly and especially cardinal or cardinary (compare our expression: the four cardinal points), and so especially related to the static cosmos, the space above the earth; as 3 was on the other hand related to time, things time-y or temporal, ordinal, ordinary, and currental, or streamlike; beginning, middle, and end. Space is again coincident with air, breath, wind, spirit. All things spiritual are thus related to space on the one hand, and to whatsoever is breathy or wind-like on the other hand. (“The spirit bloweth where it listeth,” etc) The winds blow to bless or to blast (Ger. blasen, to blow). As their bad result, they were about to blast the land and the sea and the vegetable world, signifying the mundane or unsaintly world at large; that is to say, good spiritual influences were destined and about to emanate from the four quarters of the world, or from all directions, which would act as a blight upon the bad spiritual influences and powers then dominant in the world, and so, as it were, upon the great mass of mankind. But by divine intervention they were withheld for a time, that God might seal and so protect his own,—an idea similar to that of the passover. This means that destruction was restrained from coming upon the old social order, until the germination of the new social order should be adequately advanced. Hence, the divine command restraining the four angels from letting the winds blow, until the grand whole, one hundred and forty-four thousand of the elect, should be securely designated and so saved. There is the germ, in this symbolic outgiving, of the doctrine of the damnation of the wicked (and of the numerousness of the wicked as contrasted with the few good), as sharply contrasted with the salvation of the saints as when it came to be afterwards exoterically wrought out in the Church. Thus the doctrine of eternal damnation as well as that of the Trinity goes back to the hermetic philosophy; as was partially shown in connection with “fire and brimstone” and “the worm that never dies.”

The other passage above referred to as involving the number 3 is this: “And I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet; for they are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Ch. xvi., vs. 13, 14.) The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet are the three modes of presentation, or three aspects of all that is elsewhere summed up as antichrist; the aggregate of all the principles, Influences, facts, and persons that stood or stand opposed to the introduction and triumph of Christianism and its new social order. Nevertheless, the utterances or promulgations of these three (the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet) are so far different that they mark three distinct periods, or phases, in the reign of wickedness, which precedes the ultimate reign of the truth. An utterance or promulgation is that which comes out of the mouth. The frog is the natural and appropriate symbol of period or stop—as the serpent is of the contrasted idea of elongated continuity; of the periodicity of time—as the serpent, stretched out, is so of time itself, and, when incurvated, his tail in his mouth, of eternity or endless time. The short, point-like body of the frog, first like a point, and then like a single vertebral section of the snake’s body; his jump or hop (his staccato or punctated movement); his single note or ictus of voice (also punctated),—all these render him the emblem, first of sudden stoppage (pointlike) and then of the internode between two “full stops.” The primary meaning of “period” is point, whence stop; and its secondary meaning is the stretch or reach between point and point or stop and stop. Such stops and interstops constitute periodicity, the concomitant and measurer of time. Imagine an immense snake or serpent stretched out at full length, and a frog jumping alongside of him, each jump being equivalent to the length of one of the joints of his body, and you have the full symbolism of time and its successive breakage into periods of time. The haps or happenings in time chronicle the periodicity of time. Hop and hap, whence happening, are etymologically related words in English. And so it is that the frog as well as the serpent is, hermetically, a significant emblem of evil.

Three, the number of the frogs, meaning also all in a less pronounced way than seven, and then, very especially, evil, perversity, depravity, inauspiciousness, all that is summed up in the meaning of the very expressive Latin word nefas, the three frogs, the indicia of the three periods or phases of evil (related also to the three woes), may well be described as “three unclean spirits,” “the spirits of devils,” etc. The frogs are merely the particularizations and specifications of the more general and continuous spirit of evil symbolized by the serpent, which again, in the larger view, branches out into and culminates in its three grossest forms, the dragon (false philosophy as such), the beast (false philosophy applied in the social order), and the false prophet (the false ideal and promise made by the false theory and practice). The three frogs were merely the minor utterances or promulgations or symptoms of these three more bulky masses of evil, and are, therefore, represented appropriately as coming out of their months.

To sum up and restate this Important symbolism in a somewhat technical way: The frog is the punctator or punctuator of the pretension of time; and so of the serpent, the symbol of time. Time is the produced point, continuous and perpetual change; evanescence, uncertainty, and disappointment. Hence temporality is identical with evil, and spaceality with its four cardinal points and its character as a firmament is, alone, good. (“There is nothing true but heaven”). The frog is the marker of the periodicity of the successional line of events, of the steps and inter-steps of history; the jumper, hopper, and spanner of given spaces in time, and so, himself, consigned to evil,—time and temporalities with all their accompaniments, the number 3 included, being, from the hermetic point of view, as it must be constantly borne in mind, predominantly mundane, human, and evil; as space, with its four cardinal points, four quarters (with their presiding angels), four free winds, the wind, the atmosphere at large, the ether, and the empyrean, which are celestial, is spiritual, divine, and therefore supremely good. These are the ordinary and the cardinary spheres of universal things respectively. True, evil descends from the cardinary upon the ordinary sphere, as a punishment for its evil; as when “the four angels, standing upon the four corners of the earth,” shall cease to be restrained from letting the blasting winds blow upon the earth, the sea, and the trees. The earth, the sea, and the vegetable kingdom, being the lower order of the cosmic totality, symbolize the inferior or unsainted human world. Compare what will be said, later, of the lion, the eagle, the ox, and the man, the four living creatures (ch. iv.), the higher order of the cosmic totality, representing the saints around the throne of God.

Locusts and scorpions, as well as serpents and frogs, are, as we have seen, minor types of evil, or rather types of minor and sporadic evils. They, also, come out of the abyss (the bottomless pit, the original source of time and change; see ch. ix.). The locusts were not allowed to hurt the earth, the sea, and the vegetable kingdom, to do essential injury, but only to annoy, especially, the outcasts, “les miserables,” the lower order of mankind (symbolized by the earth, sea, and trees), v. 4; not to kill but to torment five months (vs. 5, 10). Five (5) means part, partial, trivial, or little, the fraction of ten (10), which means much, a great deal, a large quantity, as will be explained presently. Torment for five months means minor local and temporary evil, such as comes from conditions, and is not inherent; the less manifestation of the general principle of evil.

“And the holy city shall they [the powers of evil] tread under foot forty and two months” (ch. xi., v. 2); and forty-two months is (thirty days to the month) twelve hundred and sixty days. “A thousand two hundred and threescore days” (v. 8) is the same term. By construing days into prophetic years, this period, as twelve hundred and sixty historical years, has figured more largely than any other number in the development of Millerism and millenarianism generally. . “Three days and a half” (v. 9), taken as three years (of three hundred and sixty days) and a half, are also twelve hundred and sixty days, which are again, by the method of interpretation, years; and “a time, times, and half a time” are construed as another mode of saying the same thing, meaning twelve hundred and sixty historical years. These are very violent strains upon the meaning of the language, for the purpose of connecting the Apocalypse with literal history, as prediction. By a double and treble license of interpretation, a definite period is evolved, and conclusions are deduced which can in no way be justified if another and simpler solution can be found. Let us see.

The Apocalypse is in no sense a prophecy of historical events,—at all events, not in its primary and direct meaning; and only so in the secondary, analogical, and necessarily vague sense in which the principles of universal things are reproduced in the facts of history; or as, for example, the ultimate triumph of the powers of good over the powers of evil, or more specifically, according to the faith of the author, of pure Christianity over its enemies, is foretold. It is not, then, in any leading sense, a recital of facts or events, past, present, or future, but a symbolization of truths (eternal verities) under the guise of a seeming recital of events. I am not unaware that the main strength of the historical method of interpretation has come from a supposed identification of the symbolism here with that of the book of Daniel, which seems to bear a very literal historic meaning. I have no space here to diverge into the discussion of that subject; but I stand upon my ground as above stated, that this wonderful composition, the Apocalypse, is a dramatization of pure abstract ideas.

Another argument sometimes urged for a prophetical historical meaning is derived from the opening words, “To show unto his servant things which must shortly come to pass.” Apart from the difficulty that, taken as events, the things spoken of did not shortly come to pass, and that many of them have not yet come to pass,—a difficulty which theologians have greatly labored with,—to take the statement literally is to denaturalize the recital and make it commonplace and ordinary, whereas its distinctive nature is1 to be symbolic throughout The clause must be rendered in connection with the distinct instruction given a little later (ch. il., v. 19), “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the thlngB which shall be hereafter’; that is to say, those static and eternal principles which are alike true of the past, the present, and the future. What, then, is the meaning of the twelve hundred and sixty days, which otherwise expressed is forty-two months? The literal time element (days, months, or years) is unimportant, and the different designations are synonymous. The whole phraseology is contrived mainly, if not wholly, to introduce and display an occult numerical idea. In this connection, Swedenborg rightly says: “Times, whether they be hours, or days, or months, or years, do not signify time, but state; and numbers determine its quality (Swed. Apo. Rev., 427). The whole riddle here is solved by the fact that. 6 (3+3) is the numeral symbol of double-distilled evil (cf. 666); that 7 means utter or all; and that, therefore, 7×6=42 coupled with a word of time (“months”) is our author’s technical way of saying: Until the complete culmination of the reign of evil; or, until the utter fulfilment of the evil days.

“Time, times, and half a time” means quite the opposite; viz., 3}, the half of 7, and as such the antithet or contrasted idea to that of 7; and hence in connection with time, as expressed in the phrase, it means, a short while, or for a short time; as the opposite of always or forever, which is the meaning of 7, when it is coupled with time. So the woman persecuted by the dragon took refuge in the wilderness, and was nourished in retiracy “for a time and times and half a time,” (ch. xii., v. 14); that is to say, temporarily, or for a short season.

The Kabbalistic meaning of the number 10 is very peculiar. Ten is 7+3. Seven is oil or entirety, and 3 is here significant of failure or deficiency, which is the general character of evil (cf. w. fault). So 7+3 means all + a deficiency; so that, while seeming to be more, it is really less, than seven. Hence 10 means a great deal, a great many, nearly or proximately all; and alone, or augmented into 100, 1000, etc., is the common hermetic designation of numerousness. Five, on the other hand, the half of ten, means few or little, and, as applied to time, a little while, or a short time (as previously observed), and much the same as 3J, the half of 7. Swedenborg, whom Gen. Hitchcock has written a book to prove to have been a hermetic philosopher, assigns these meanings to the numbers 10 and 5, without, however, showing the reason of the assignment. We have also Swedenborg’s authority for saying that the tenth part has the same meaning as 10. Without this clew, the following clause would offer great difficulty: “And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand; and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” (Ch. xi., v. 13.) Now if 7 were directly applied to the number of the men killed, that would mean all; and then how could there have been a remnant? But that is not said. The 7 is coupled with and modified by a multiple of 10 (i.e., 1000), and collectively they mean nearly all. The text, therefore, rendered into plain English, reads thus: And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and a large portion of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain nearly all of the inhabitants; and those who survived were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. When the analogy is with space, rather than with time, 8 replaces 7, as 4 replaces 3; and the double of 8 (16) emphasizes the idea; but this is also reduced from its absoluteness, and made merely augmentative, in a general sense, by adding the multiples of 10: hence we have this remarkable passage: “And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and the blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse-bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred (1600) furlongs” (ch. xiv., v. 20); that is to say, for a very great distance.


There remains another important and heretofore overwhelmingly difficult connection of passages (in the Apocalypse) to be expounded. In the conclusion of the drama it is said, “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound, him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and put a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” By the bottomless pit is meant “the abyss,” about which the hermetic philosophers talk so abundantly, and by which is meant the unfathomable depths of the logical and temporal past, out of which, as out of “the womb of time,” all change or evolution proceeds. It is the great backlylng incomprehensibility, whence all Instability and hence evil originated; the source of time and temporality, which is the old serpent and dragon of this same imaginative literature, as has now been sufficiently demonstrated. The essential idea throughout is that immutability (4) is divine, male, true, and good; and that mutability (3) is human, female, false, and bad. It is this principle of evil which was to be overcome in the great conflict, and it was with a view to that victory that it could be said, “Time shall be no more”; and since the currental flux and instability of the sea, and the sea itself like a great river, is another symbol of time, it is added elsewhere, “and there shall be no more sea.”

To bind Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit is the same as to repress time and the on-going of change (and so of evil), and to crowd them back into the abyss whence they issued. This whole imagery simply means the overcoming of the principle of evil by the prevalence of good, or as the outcome of the great conflict between good and evil; but the first victory in that great war would not be a complete one,—would not absolutely extinguish evil and end the war. At first, and as all that could be immediately hoped for or promised, there would occur the relative extinction of evil, its repression and partial or seeming extinction, for a very long time, which means rather in a very great degree,—for a virtual but not an absolute eternity; for a thousand (1000) years, 10 meaning many and 1000 a very great many {i. e., in a very great degree). That is to say, the number 10 means a great many, a great deal, in a high degree; and 1000 a relatively infinite augmentation, but not an absolute one, of the same idea,—infinite but not infinite in the absolute sense. This is a very important discrimination, in order that we may understand what follows respecting the reappearance of Satan on the scene of action, and about the two kinds of death, and the two resurrections,—the most subtle metaphysical speculations in the whole Apocalypse.

The world lies “dead” before the vision of the writer “in trespasses and sins.” This is the first death, which Is assumed as known or conceded, no account being given of it, the series of events opening with the first resurrection. Still there was life enough to struggle against the body of death, and destined to rise triumphantly above it. The first victory will be the relative extinction of evil, which is the cause of death. But, notwithstanding this seeming or apparently complete extinction of evil, to last through a long period of the happy future of humanity, the germ of evil would not be absolutely eradicated. The fact (it is averred) must be recognized, that in any relative view of the nature of things evil is always extant, and ready to spring up again after any amount of repression and of conquest over it. It is this precise idea which is expressed symbolically by the statement that, “after that [the thousand years], he [Satan] must be loosed for a little season.” After all, that is to say, evil must come in for something. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection” (v. 6), which is the relative suppression of evil. Fortunate are they who shall experience even so much of blessedness; fortunate they who shall yield even to this general predominance of good. “On each, the second death hath no power.” That is to say, they are not concerned in what is now about to be said farther, of a second and ulterior kind of death and resurrection resulting from the more subtle and occult persistency of evil. They have become good; and this ulterior special kind of death and resurrection, or recovery from it, concerns those who shall have persistently remained bad or evil.

But before passing to this subject, let us consider another designation which is, applied to the abyss (v. 10); viz., “the lake of fire and brimstone.” What is temporal is also mundane. What is timelike is also earth-like; and both are, from the point of view in question, devilish. (Cf. Paul’s expression, “earthly, selfish, devilish.”) The beginning of time, as an abyss, finds, therefore, an analogous rendering, in the depths or bowels of the earth, up and out of which evil is then supposed to arise; as God and good, on the other hand, descend from the air and space above. The depths and bowels of the earth are, or are supposed to be, and were, or were supposed to be, a burning lake of molten matter, an incandescent mass, of which, judging from their outpourings through the mouths of volcanoes, the fuel was sulphur or brimstone. So it came to be that, with the hermetlcs, the abyss or bottomless pit, as the backlying source of time and change, and the lake of fire and brimstone, as the molten interior of the earth (and also hell, or the hole or opening in the earth, Ger. hölle), were synonymous, and alike the residence of Satan and the origin of evil, into which it was held that evil was to be repressed, or crowded back, and there withheld; but not at first, absolutely. The grand evil of all is destruction or dissolution, or death, whence the “angel” or prince or general of the bottomless pit is Abaddon, the Hebrew word for destruction (ch. ix., v. 11).

We come now, in due order, to the second death and the second resurrection. The first death was the introduction and general prevalence of evil. It, as sin, “brought death into the world, and all our woe.” The first resurrection was to be the general and relative, but not the absolute, prevalence of good over evil. But evil would still exist. What, then, can be said of its ultimate or final and absolute extinction? This is, or would be were it to occur, the second death, in a most remarkable sense,—the death of death itself, the death even of hell itself; and so accepting the paradox, with poetic boldness the revelator declares (v. 14), “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire,” that is, into hell, the essential idea of which is destruction; and it is emphatically added, “this is the second death.” The second death is, therefore, the destruction of death and hell, or the full, final, and absolute conquest over evil. The second resurrection is not specifically described, but it is now easily inferred. It is the escape, elevation, or salvation of those who had remained subject to death and evil at the prior and partial deliverance. It can be no other than the rescue of the wicked from the power of evil, and be the ultimate redemption and salvation of all. The good are not to be affected by this ultimate and supreme event, for they were saved already. “On such, the second death hath no power”; but those who had rested still under the power of evil needed, and could only be saved by, this absolute and final conquest over evil itself. After that, after all names were thus inscribed in the book of life, after death and hell and the lake of fire itself should thus be obliterated from the programme of being, then the writer might safely add, as a mere flourish of rhetoric: “And whosoever was not found written In the book of life [when there were no longer any such] was cast into the lake of fire [which no longer had any existence].”

What has preceded includes substantially all the numerical passages of the Apocalypse, except the number 4 in connection with the living creatures (ch. iv.), and 12 with its duplicate 24 and its square 144 in the numbering of the saints, the description of the New Jerusalem, etc., the cube 1728 not being mentioned. These will be treated of incidentally in what follows. Before looking, in conclusion, more specifically (though still very cursorily) at the. general plot and structure of this remarkable drama, let us resume, in a sort of tabular way, what we may call the inherent symbolic meanings of the elementary numbers from 1 up to 12 (or 13); in part as they were construed by the earliest crop of scientific investigators in prehistoric times, and as they were traditionally delivered from that time down by an unbroken succession of hermetics, mystics, and philosophers, especially Including the Pythagoreans, and spread as a doctrine over all the known world from China and Hindustan to Western Europe, subsiding Into the so-called sacred numbers of Scripture exegesis; and, in part, as the same investigation is reinstituted, enlarged, and clarified by Universology.


One (1): Unit, unity, singleness, the Absolute, the absolute unlimited One, God (xxxx of the Greeks). First: the first, origin, governing cause, government, authority, arbitrary will, origin-and-govemment (Gr. xxxx). Least portion and origin of substance, element: unit, individual, separate one, least thing, atom, tittle, jot (Gr. xxxx). Point (first element of form): position, positiveness as fact, or first actual presentation, crude primitive positivism. Nature or naturism: statism, rest, immobility, death.

It is to be observed that the meanings thus involved in the single numerical idea One are so numerous and varied that they swing around the circle from that which is absolute and infinite, or most general (universal), to that which is most especially individualized and particular; from that which is the source of all life to absolute death; while yet they are logically related in unity, or as one idea. This immense scope of meaning is inevitably inherent in what as unism (or one-llke-ness) Is one of the two fundamental generalizations of all things. Unism is therefore, necessarily, a very vague idea, taken in its generality, and only becomes definite in its special applications. So also of duism (and trinism). The primary, secondary, and tertiary meanings of 2 are, if possible, still more striking and contradictory.

Two (2): Duad, duality, one and another one, whence, 1st meaning: opposition, antagonism, averseness, “the adversary,” Satan, the devil (the opposite of God, which is to xxx, the Supreme One). The hermetics held to this one of the several meanings of 2. Pythagoras is said to have sworn by the number 2. It is more probable, from the side lights on the subject, that the tradition Is confused, and that he objurgated or swore at it. The 2 is the beginning of a row (complete in 3), a series, succession, evanescence, time-like, ordinal, temporal, and hence evil. 2nd meaning: polarity of the thought-line which connects the one and the other one, line, edge, straight-edge, cut, division, part-ing, de-parting, and motism or movement (as the first or side-wise aspect of a line, but the opposite idea of tie and union in the lengthwiseness of the line). 3rd meaning: straight, just, even, true. Fr. uni, unie, so that the 2 goes over inversely into the meaning of 1, but a higher kind of unity: as the one went over into duality, in the form of individuality, or by separation from the other one,—in each case a terminal conversion into opposites. Duism, as two-like-ness, Bums up all this diversity-in-unity of meaning, counterparting that of unism.

Three (3): Two plus one or one plus two; the first or elementary unity of one and two, or of unism and duism, in the total constitution of being; which as three, distributedly, are dissentient or unreconciled and conflicting, and hence evil. Subsumed under the one, they become tri-unity and divine, but in that state they are virtually four. The 3 here laps back upon the 1 (31+), and so closes and completes the first circuit of number. The series from 1 to 3 thus becomes an elementary epitome of absolutely all numeration; and unism (one-ism), duism (two-ism), and trinism (three-ism) become, or rather are and must be, the three fundamental principles of philosophy and science (inasmuch as number is representative of all things numerable; that is to say, of all things). Or, as elsewhere stated, the broadest and quite all-inclusive law of science at large—the fundamental thesis of universology—is: That all phenomena whatsoever, in all spheres of being, material and mental, are distributed into three primal classes, having reference to the numbers 1, 2, and 3 respectively; for which reason the three governing principles of universal things are named Unism (one-ism), Duism (twoism), and Trinism (three-ism,). These numbers are the head numbers of the mathematical, which is, scientifically, the governing, sphere of things. They first distribute the universe at large into (1.) The concrete or agglomermtive (unismal); (2.) The abstract or separative (duismal); and (3.) The rational, rationate, ratio ed, or proportional (2+1). They then distribute the contents of each particular science (or of its domain) in a precisely similar manner, and so on, subdivisionally, to infinity.

Four (4): Quarternary, tetraktis, square, correct-ness, co-exactitude, equity, non-perversity, nondepravity, whence innocence, goodness, or the Good (in the true); spiritual excellence allied with space or measured by the four cardinal points, as contrasted with the time-like and merely rational meaning of 3, organic rectitude, divine quality, the cardinary sphere of entities and properties (specially and representatively so within the cardinality.) The contrasted meanings of 3 and 4 have been so extensively discussed in the body of this exposition, that they need not be enlarged upon at this point. It may be restated, however, that, geometrically allied, 3 has to do with everything ratio-ed, or non-rectangular, and 4 with everything rectangular. It may also be added that of the series 1, 2, 3, 4, the 1 and 4 (the extremes) were reckoned good by the ancients, and 2 and 3 (the middle terms) were reckoned evil.

Five (5): This number is 2+3 = 5 = one-half of 1+2+3+4 = 10. Ten signifies much, many, numerous, large (see 10); and 5, the antithet of this; few, little, small. Geometrically, it yields the pentagonal figure, the proper incipiency of polygonal configuration, intermediate between the straight and the curve, hence common-place, simple, natural. Emerson says, “Nature loves the number 5.”

Six (6): This is 3+3, the reduplication and augmentation of the evil character of 3; as in 666, the number of the beast; co-depravity, complex perversity, social evil.

Seven (7): This is 3+4, the unity of good and evil or their spheres or domains; of the temporal and spiritual; and hence, totality, all; the integration of the crooked and the straight; of chaos and the cosmos, of sin and organic righteousness, the erode aggregate wholeness, from the unblended, non-reconciled, inharmonious union of opposites, spanning but not truly unifying the entire sum of existence; the universe in its primitive or naturismal condition, as contrasted with its scientized exactitude (see S), and its artistic harmony (see 12).

Eight (8): This is 4+4; co-quarternity, cubosity; supreme or absolute rectitude, the type of all-sided straightness; all, in the sense of complete ad-equate-ness to the demands of truth. “Give a portion to 7, also to 8”; be just alike to the freedom of Nature and to the rigors of exact truth (science).

Nine (9): The trinity of trinities (3×3); or, the triunity of triunities; and, in this higher sense, the grand distributive number,—the source of the infinity of tri-logies which occur throughout Nature and all the philosophies; the basis of classification, subsumed in the first and universal trilogy, unism, duism, and trinism. On the recognition of this classifatory potency of the number 9, by the ancients, see, especially, Exposition of Daniel, by R. A. Watkinson, at large. In the minor sense, as a higher aggravation of evil than 3 and 6, the 9 does not appear.

Ten (10): This 5+5 is, geometrically allied, polygonism numerously constituted and verging into the circle (see 5 as the lower term of polygonism); hence many, but not the infinitely many, which is circular; in respect to time, a great while (as 7+3 or all plus a deficiency, see text of this exposition).

Eleven (11): This unusual number, in symbolism, is best viewed as 12—1; and then means a coming short of the absolute grace and perfection symbolized by 12.

Twelve (12): This is 6+6, the reversion by excess from evil to good, 3×4, the higher unity of 3 and 4 than in 7 (3+4); their blended harmony and reconciliation by the recognition of “the soul of good in things evil,” instead of a mere adherence inanity; or, 7+5, the erode totality (7) plus a somewhat more (5); all, in the modulated, artistic, or finished sense (see 7 and 8),—the Artismus of the Numerismus; the high harmony of principles, classification, and order. This most plastic and conciliative of all the elementary numbers denotes, in the Apocalypse grace (as it does, more generally, gracefulness in the art sense) and the ultimate perfection of the Church; whence 12, 24, and 144, as the supreme and triumphant numbers. As redemption from the state of individual and complex social perversity (see3 and 6), forgiveness and the consequent love it inspires, it denotes, celestiality, religions ecstasy, bliss, and supreme excellence and happiness of all sorts.

Thirteen (13): This ultimate and “pivotal” (as called by Fourier) elementary number, is superimposed upon the otherwise ultimate harmony existent in the 12, as its return to the primal 1, and its consequent completion of this larger circuit of distributive principles (see 3). Hence, if it had occurred in the Apocalypse, it would have been used to denote the Lord God, presiding over the Church; or the bridegroom as related to the Church, 12 or 144 meaning the Church. The harmony of 12 may then again be viewed as a graceful swaying or balanced vibration between the deficiency of 11 and the exuberant or infinite fulness of the 13.

Recurring to and restating the 3 and 4, inverted as 4 and 3, 4 is, in the moral sphere, according to the ideas of the ancients, truth and its good; honor, dignity, masculinity; the higher style of things; the spiritual world or, the cardinary sphere; and 3 (repeating the ordinal series, 1st, 2d, 3d, etc.) means actuality; the state of natural wrong; falsity and its evil; Nature; woman and her tendencies; whatsoever is ordinary, mundane, or material; in a word, the ordinary or inferior sphere of universal things. It is now, let me emphatically state, the farther on and strictly univeraological perception and demonstration, that all this is a one-sided and partial insight into the whole truth of the subject; that “there is a soul of good in things evil,” and, inversely, a soul of evil in things good; that the universe is more complex than has been thought; that there are two ups and two downs (as we stand at the earth or the son), two opposite and coequal scales of superiority and inferiority; that woman has her range of supremacy as man has his, etc. This is merely a universological caveat, that in stating the doctrine of the ancients we are only gaining a standing-ground for the understanding of the higher doctrine. But it is the ancient idea alone with which we are here brought directly in contact.

Fourier, who dealt largely with the sacred numbers, asserts, with startling boldness, that music is the only one of the harmonies as yet discovered and developed; that a series of such harmonizations are to occur, and preeminently, and in precise correspondential unity with music, that of human society, through the similar harmonization of the human passions, etc. He cites the unison, the 3 (or 4) chords, the 7 notes of the diatonic scale, the 12 of the chromatic, etc. Is he the scientific prophet of humanity? Are Fourier the socialist and St. John the revelator, who are at one with each other, right; and are all commonplace mortals mistaken? Is it worth while seriously to inquire?


We are now prepared for the promised brief synopsis of Apocalyptic drama.

The exordium occupies the first three chapters, and need not detain us. The first act opens with the fourth chapter, and, at bottom, pictures the old philosophies and pre-Christian attempt at the solution of the enigma of universal being, and its essential failure,—extending from the fourth to the end of the tenth chapter. The eleventh chapter is an intermede and introductory to the second act, which opens with the twelfth chapter, and pictures the Christian struggle and triumph.

The first scene in the opening of the fourth chapter is a throne set in heaven, occupied by the supreme God, surrounded by twenty-four seniors, a senate or conclave of wisdom, and the types of the superior animal world symbolizing the higher order of intelligence. It was the superior or spiritual quality of life which was to be represented; otherwise It would be reptiles, creeping things, fishes, insects (locusts, scorpions, etc.), which would have been selected.

At the beginning of the fifth chapter, the problem is propounded which the solemn conclave instituted in the first scene is looked to to solve. By “the book written within and on the back side, and sealed with seven seals,” the problem of the universe is intended. The rapt expectant witness grieved sore over the impossibility of solving or opening the book (v. 4.) So far everything is strictly hermetic, or belongs to the pre-Christian order of spiritual conceptions. But at this point the rush of Judaistic and more recent Christian thought floods the imagination of the writer. In a strictly logical sense, the allusions which follow, to the lion of the tribe of Judah, etc., should have been reserved for the second act, which is the properly Christian half of the drama; but from the religious and practical point of view, this anticipation of the ulterior form of the solution is not out of place (v. 5, 6, 7). The true hero of the whole glorious story having thus been, as it were, incidentally mentioned, the author dilates, through the remainder of this fifth chapter, on the cheers with which his presence was greeted. The new and strictly Jewish and Christian idea of God, as to his personality, is here interpolated within the hermetic conception, of the ineffable pure abstract and intellectual light which shines above and throughout the universe. “In the midst of the throne,” etc., stood the martyred human God, filling, as it were, the place of the older conception, and introducing the touching sympathetic or personal element; and this individual, the Lamb, proceeds to preside over the dénouement, even of the first act,— which was strictly and logically pre-Christian. It was fidelity to the Christian conception to antedate in this manner: “Before Abraham was, I am.”

In the sixth chapter, the hermetic conception is resumed, presided over merely by the Lamb. This chapter portrays the old Hindu and Neo-platonic idea of divine emanations, going out like a succession of waves from the throne of God, the first (inner or nearest the throne) being pure and divine, or wholly of the nature of God, and the subsequent ones (more and more remote) deteriorating by the admixture of evil, as of darkness with light, in the production of color. The first or inmost emanation is symbolized by a conquering rider upon a white horse (whiteness repeating the idea of pure light). This first of divine emanations is, preeminently, the Logos (ch. six., v. 11); and so identified with the Lamb himself in another rôle. Three remaining emanations are then mentioned, in the order of their greater and greater departure from the divine type, he doctrine is a sublime one, and will ever remain true. The steps of deterioration are symbolized by the colors of the other three horses, red, black, and livid or pale. Hence, the warfare between the one horseman on the white horse and the powers of evil symbolized by the riders on the other three horses. This conflict occupies the attention of the writer on to the opening of the fourth seal (ch. vi., v. 7). With the opening of the fifth seal, further special pursuit of the doctrine of emanations is abandoned, and the conflict is pictured as going temporarily against the good powers, and in favor of the powers of evil (see The Revelation of John its own Interpreter, by John Cochran). With the opening of the sixth seal (v. 12), all is again changed, and the triumph of the good powers is represented. In the seventh chapter, the progress of the direct action of the drama is arrested to give space of time for gathering out the elect before the final execution of judgment upon the conquered world of evil. The ideas here are mixed, partly hermetic and partly Christian.

Then, in fine, comes the opening of the seventh seal: the episode of the (other) seven angel trumpeters; the further episode of the three woes, or distinct dispensations of evil; and, finally, that of the detention of the “four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates,” and which, as shown, are the reintroduction of the doctrine of emanations, and identical with the four horsemen. Finally, we are brought to the conclusion of this act in the tenth chapter: the preparation of the last mighty angel, of those commissioned to open the seals; his oath; the sudden interruption that occurred; and the collapse of the whole grand promise of hermetics, of philosophy, or of the subjective synthesis, to solve the enigma of being. All this has been elaborately set forth in the body of this exposition. The act closes with the handing forth and the eating hp of the little book, “sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the belly”; the diminutive and disappointing outcome of the old doctrine.

The eleventh chapter of the Apocalypse is the prologue of the second act. There was first given to the acolyte of the new knowledge a measuring rod, a canon of criticism, a true method of judging and knowing, a necessary preparation for the new course of instruction about to be inaugurated. He was ordered to measure the temple of God, to take due notice of the subjective synthesis, and to neglect or put aside the objective synthesis, or the merely philosophical, secular, or profane method of Interpretation (the outer court, the court of the Gentiles). Then are introduced “my two witnesses,” the Lord speaking. These can be no other than the external and the internal evidences, or bodies of evidence, of the Christian system. These are to prophesy (or preach) a dreary while, in the sad earth, themselves “clothed in sackcloth.” They are often, or from time to time (“time, times, and half a time” or “three days and a half”) overcome (by adverse reasonings), and, as it were, killed outright, but still always, after a while, they revive and triumph.

The second act of the Apocalyptic drama open with the twelfth chapter. The woman clothed with the sun, the Church, the glorified humanity of the future, is first presented, and consociated with her divine son, science, or the scientific method, which it was intuitively fore-felt was to be the ultimate philosophy to be born of the Church. Scientific exactitude is “the rod of iron” with which he was and is “to rule the world.” The hostile powers of evil are now arrayed, as the serpent, the dragon, and the beast, the three prevalent forms of the then dominant (false) philosophy. Accompanying and allied with these was Babylon, the false social system attendant upon and growing out of these mystery-loving false doctrines; and the false prophet as the perverted religious presentation of truth.

At the opening of the fourteenth chapter, the Lamb, that is to say the Lord, the same as the conquering rider on the white horse, surrounded by the Church, reappears, now in his right place, as the proper hero of the orderly development of the drama. The first announcement of the fall of Babylon immediately follows,—the announcement of an event the details of which are given considerably later. The hero of the drama again appears in the fourteenth verse of this fourteenth chapter, having on his head a golden crown and in his hand a sharp sickle. The metaphor is here changed, for the moment, and instead of a battle and a conquest we are introduced to a husbandman and a harvest.

At the opening of the fifteenth chapter, the action of the drama is interrupted and delayed in a manner quite similar to that in which the first act had interpolated into it the seven trumpeters charged with the heraldry of events; and here seven angels appear charged with pouring out the seven last plagues: that is to say, there is here again sketched symbolically, as an episode, the whole subversive career of humanity, as if divided into seven periods, each with some distinctive and characteristic feature.

With the opening of the sixteenth chapter, the previously announced subject of the destruction of Babylon, the old social polity or régime, is resumed, and the details are given. The harlot is introduced and identified with Babylon. The procedure here has been previously treated of with ample extension. The utter destruction of this old social order is vividly delineated in the eighteenth chapter, and up to the seventh verse of the nineteenth chapter. At this point the action changes. The coming marriage of the Lamb and the Lamb’s wife, of the Lord and the Church, is announced. At the eleventh verse the same victor upon the white horse is shown as the coming bridegroom; and in the thirteenth verse (ch. xviii.) he is identified with logos or the pure reason.

Here occurs also another bold and striking change of the metaphor. He who was before presented as the son of the woman, who was to rule the world with a rod of iron, is now to be the husband instead of the son. He is the king of kings and lord of lords. Then comes the heraldic proclamation of invitation to all spirits, “all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven” (“birds of every feather”), to be present at the marriage supper of the great God, and “to eat of the flesh,” that is, partake of the substance, of the evil and vanquished party.

Again (v. 19), we recur to the idea of an outbreak of the war; but the contest, this time, is a mere émeute; and almost immediately (v. 20) the final conquest is announced and the destiny of the enemy proclaimed. Then follows the deep philosophical episode touching the two kinds of death and the two kinds of resurrection, which has been already sufficiently expounded.

Finally, in the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters, we have the dénouement of the second act, in the ultimate and complete triumph and permanent establishment of the new social order. The New Jerusalem, the true humanity, is now identified with the Church and with the wifehood of the bride of the Lord (v. 9, 10). From this point out, and in everything which relates to the new city or commonwealth, the ultimate celestiality, the perfection of social existence, the number 12, the celestial number, with its higher powers, abounds (ch. xxi., v. 12). Even the 4-ness of the 3 within the 12 disinfects and sanctifies the 3 (v. 13). The allusion to the 12-foldness of the foundations probably signifies the occult presence of those principles of truth in the old order which are finally brought to light and established in the new.

Then follows the formal admeasurement and scientific appreciation of the new order (v. 15, 16).

Observe the rare and incomprehensible shape, except as symbolic of the city,—that of an exact cube,—the third morphic power of exact rectification—the prevalence of universal justice and equity 12x12x12 = 1728, numerically the third power of this celestial or chief sacred number 12. And “the wall thereof,” the surface presentation, the phenomenality thereof, was 12 x 12 = 144 (cubits), the second morphic and numeric powers, respectively; which, it is added, is “the measure of a man,”—that is, of an angel (or the perfect or typical man). Felt and Page, art critics, are discovering that these numbers actually rule throughout the domain of art anatomy. Man is himself, in some sense, a surface manifestation of phenomenality on a base of universal substance (which last is the God-idea of Spinoza). And so man divinized, made angelic, has now (by this symbolism), in a secondary degree, this culminative sacred number (12 + 12) as his note, type, or harmonic signature; whereas, the designative number of man in his natural or unredeemed state was that accursed number 660 (ch. xiii., v. 18), the third degree of the duplication of 3, the ruling sinister number or note of the domination of evil (the measure of a man,—that is, of a devil). Thus it is that God and man in his highest estate are so identified that the same Lord is appropriately denominated either “the Son of God” or “the Son of Man.”

The twelve foundations of the city, another illustration by twelve varieties of precious stones, are in part too obscure and in part too much a matter of detail to demand attention here. So of the twelve gates, each of which was an entire pearl. But the following statement (ch. xxi., v. 22) is perhaps the most pregnant and important utterance of the whole Apocalypse: “And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” The temple is the indubitable symbol and all-embracing epitome of organized religious culture or worship. Whether taken, therefore, as an abstraction of truths or as a literal prophecy, the announcement here made is that, in the ultimate divinized order of human society, the formalities of religion will have fallen into complete disuse; that the Church, as a distinct institution charged with the evangelization and religious training of the world, will be functa officio,—will have performed her office and have ceased to exist; the Church as the bride of the Lord then having come to mean the whole of humanity, so divinely illuminated from the highest sources of knowledge that the primary school of spiritual instruction, which the Church was, shall be no longer needed. This startling statement embodies the lost word of pure rationalism. On that basis, rationalism and ecclesiasticism may clasp hands and become reconciled; for it is in the purview of both that provisional adaptations to an imperfect order of things shall supersede themselves. The medical profession and the legal profession, as well as the priesthood, will have exhausted the necessity of their existence when all men shall have become healthy, just, and natively wise and good. Fontanelle, giving instructions to the tutor of the dauphin of France, wrote thus: “Use your best endeavors to make yourself useless.” Or, otherwise conceived and stated, to be made kings and priests of this new and divinized order of man is to become truly enlightened individuals, with the capacity for the fulfilment of all the offices of life, dispensing with the further use of provisional priests and tutors. And so, the further elaboration of this culminative conception of the ultimate redemption and perfection of our total humanity continues to the end; for by the doctrine of the ultimate extinction of evil, the crowning metaphysic of the Apocalypse, the wicked are as essentially justified as the good. The best have no title to exult in their goodness, over the worst; and all are alike saved in the second resurrection.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2096 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.