The book known by the name of the Apocalypse, has seemed to be until now unintelligible, merely because people persisted to see in it a real prediction of the future, which every one has explained after his own fashion, and in which they have always found what they wanted, namely anything but that, what the book contained. Newton and Bossuet stood in need of that great glory, they had already acquired, in order that their fruitless efforts, to give us an explanation of it, should not be taxed with folly. Both started from a false hypothesis, namely, that it was an inspired book. Today, when it is acknowledged by all enlightened minds, that there are no inspired books, and that all books carry with them the character either of wisdom or of human folly, we shall analyze that of the "Apocalypse" according to the principles of the sacred science, and in conformity with the well-known genius of Mystagogy of the Orientals, of which this work is a production.
The disciples of Zoroaster, or the Magi, of whom the Jews and the Christians have borrowed their principal dogmas, as we have shown in our chapter on the Christian religion—have taught that the two principles, Oromaze and Ahriman, of which one was the ruler of Light and Goodness, and the other of Darkness and of Evil, warred against each other in this World, each destroying the other’s works; each commanding his own secondary Genii or Angels, and having his partisans or favored people; that finally however the people of Ahriman would be overcome, and that the God of Light Page 409 and his people would triumph. Then the Good and the Evil would have to return to their principle, and each one of the two rulers would dwell with his people, one in the primary Light and the other in the primary darkness, from which they both had issued. There would come a time, which was marked by Fate, as Theopompus says, where Ahriman, after having brought pestilence and famine, would be entirely destroyed. Then the Earth, without inequality would be the abode of happy men, living under the same laws and invested with transparent bodies; there they would enjoy an unalterable happiness under the reign of Ormuzd, or the God of Light.
Let the Apocalypse be read and the conviction will be the result, that this is the theological idea, which forms the basis of that production. All the mysterious details, by which it is surrounded, are only the scaffolding of that singular dogma, which, like a spectacle, was put in action in the Sanctuaries of the Initiates into the mysteries of Light or of Ormuzd. All this theatrical and wonderful decoration is borrowed from the images of Heaven, or from the constellations, which control the revolutions of Time, and which adorn the visible World, from the ruins of which the wand of the priest shall bring out the luminous World, or the Holy Land and the Celestial Jerusalem, into which the Initiates shall enter. In the midst of night, says the Neophyte in the mysteries of Isis, the Sun seemed to me to shine with a brilliant light; and after having trod the threshold of Proserpine, and having traversed the elements, I have found myself in the presence of the Gods.
In the mysteries of Eleusis, an anticipated enjoyment of that future bliss, and an idea of the state, into which the Initiation elevated the soul after death, was given to the Neophyte. After the profound darkness, in which he was held for some time, and which was an image of that of this life, Page 410 they made to follow a brilliant light, which all at once invested him with its radiance, and which revealed to him the statue of the God, into whose mysteries he became initiated. Here it is the Lamb, which is the great Divinity, the image of which is reproduced throughout the whole of the Apocalyptic production.
It is placed at the head of the Celestial city, which has twelve divisions like the zodiac, of which “Aries” or the Lamb is also the leader. This is about the whole substance of the Apocalypse. In order to compare its features with those of the sphere and to analyze in detail the various pictures, which it offers, nothing less would be required, than the explanation, which we have given in our larger work and the planisphere thereto annexed. Nevertheless we shall trace here a summary of that work, which will be sufficient for the reader, to give him an idea of the correspondence, which exists between the tableaux of the Apocalypse and those of Heaven and its divisions.
Two things strike at first every reader: which is the frequent repetition that is made by the author in his book of the numbers “Seven” and “Twelve,” they being sacred numbers in all theologies, because they express two grand divisions of the World, that of the planetary system and that of the zodiac; or of the signs, the two great instruments of fatality or predestination, and the two bases of the astrological science which has presided at the composition of that work. The number seven is repeated there, twenty-four times; and the number “Twelve” fourteen times.
The planetary system is there represented, without any kind of equivocation, by a candlestick of seven branches, or by seven candlesticks and seven stars held in the hand of a luminous Genius, similar to the God principle of Light, or to Ormuzd adored by the Persians. Under this emblem they expressed the seven Celestial bodies, into which the uncreated Page 411 Light is distributed, and in the center of which shines the Sun as its perpetual focus. It is the Angel of the Sun, which under the form of a Genius, resplendent with light, appears to John, and unveils the mysteries, which he shall reveal to the Neophytes. Jewish and Christian writers are furnishing us themselves the explanation, which we give of the seven candlesticks, which expresses here merely the same cosmogonic idea, indicated by the symbol of the candlestick with seven branches, placed in the temple of Jerusalem. Clemens, bishop of Alexandria, alleges that the candlestick with seven branches, which was in the middle of the altar of perfumes, represented the seven planets. On each side spread three branches, each surmounted by a lamp. In the middle there was the lamp of the Sun, in the center of the six other branches, because this luminary, placed in the midst of the planetary system, communicates its light to the planets beneath in accordance with the laws of its divine and harmonious action. Josephus and Philon, two Jewish writers, give the same explanation.
The seven inclosures of the temple represented the same thing. There are also the seven eyes of the Lord, denoted by the spirits, resting on the rod, which rises from the root of Jesse, as Clemens of Alexandria continues to remark. It will be observed, that the author of the Apocalypse also says, that the seven horns of the Lamb are the seven spirits of God, and consequently that they represent the planetary system, which receives its impulsion from “Aries” or the Lamb, the first of the signs.
In the monument of the religion of the Persians or of Mithras, seven stars are likewise to be found, designed to represent the planetary system, and near each one of them is the characteristic attribute of the planet to be seen, which the star represents. Therefore nothing else was done here by the author of the Apocalypse, than to employ an admitted Page 412 emblem, in order to represent the harmonious system of the Universe, into the sanctuary of which man was introduced by the Initiation, as may be seen in our chapter on the Mysteries.
We may be still more convinced of this truth, by the reflection that this same emblem represented seven churches, of which the first one was that of Ephesus, where the first of the seven planets or the Moon was worshipped under the name of Diana.
After the planetary system, the mystagogue presents us with the tableau of the Heaven of the fixed Stars, and with the four Celestial figures, which were placed at the four corners of Heaven, according to the astrological system.
These four figures were the Lion, the Bull, the Waterman and the Eagle, which divided the whole zodiac into four parts, or from three signs to three signs, in the points of the sphere called fixed and solid. The stars, which corresponded to it, were called the four royal stars.
In the mysteries of Mithras, besides the seven gates, designed to represent the seven planets, there was an eighth one, which corresponded to the Heaven of the fixed stars. Hence the expression of the author of the Apocalypse, that he saw a gate open in Heaven, and that he was invited to ascend there, in order to see the things, which should come to pass in future. From this it follows, taking the principles of Astrology or the science revealing the secrets of the future as a starting point, that the author, after showing us the planetary system under the emblem of the seven candlesticks, wished to fix our eyes on the eighth Heaven and on the zodiac, with which the planets are concurring to reveal the pretended secrets of divination. The mystagogue has done here merely that which an astrologer should do, who announces himself as a revealer of the destinies of the World, and to foretell the evils, with which the Earth was threatened, and Page 413 which were the forerunners of its destruction. He established the sphere on the four cardinal points of the astrological “determinations,” and he shows the four figures, which divided the circle of fatality into four equal parts. These figures were distributed at equal distances around the throne of God: namely the firmament above which the Deity was placed. The twenty-four parts of the time, which divide the revolution of Heaven, are called the twenty-four Elders, as Time itself or Saturnus has always been called.
These hours, taken six by six, are also called "Wings," and it is well known, that they were always given to time. This is the reason why the Celestial animals, dividing the zodiac from six to six hours, were presumed to have each six wings. These figures of animals, which we find in the Heaven of the fixed Stars, and which are distributed in the same order as they are named in the Apocalypse, are figures of Cherubims, the same as we see in Ezechiel. Now, the Chaldeans and the Syrians called the Heaven of the fixed Stars, the Heaven of the Cherubimns, above which they placed the great Sea or the upper waters and the Heaven of Crystal. Consequently the author of the Apocalypse employs absolutely the same language, as the oriental Astrology.
The Christian writers justify here again our explanations. Clemens of Alexandria, amongst others, says expressly that the wings of the Cherubims signified the Time, which circulates in the zodiac: therefore the figures of the zodiac, corresponding exactly to the four divisions given by the wings, can only be the Cherubims, to which those wings are attached, because they are absolutely the same figures of animals. Why should we look for them in an ideal Heaven, when we can find them in the real Heaven, the only one, where figures of animals, commonly called Celestial animals, are to be seen? The author repeatedly says: “I saw in Heaven;” very well, let us examine with him the Heavens. Page 414
These same figures are those of the four animals dedicated to the Evangelists. They are also those of the four Angels, who, according to the Persians are to sound the trumpet, when the end of the World has come. The ancient Persians adored four principal stars, keeping watch over the four corners of the World, and these four stars corresponded to the four Celestial animals, which have the same figures as those of the Apocalypse. These four stars are also to be found with the Chinese, where they serve to designate the four seasons, which in the times of “Iao” corresponded to these points of Heaven.
The astrologer, who has composed the Apocalypse has therefore merely reiterated what is found in all the ancient books of oriental astrology.
After having thus established his sphere upon these cardinal points, he opens the book of Destiny of the World, called here allegorically the book sealed with seven seals, and the opening of which is intrusted to the first of the signs, Aries or the Lamb.
Nonnus, in his Dionysiacs, makes use of nearly a similar expression, in order to designate the book of Fate; he calls it the book of the seven tablets, in which the destinies were written. Each tablet bore the name of a planet. It is thus easy to recognize in the book of seven seals, the book of Fate, which is consulted by him, who takes upon himself to announce here, what shall come to pass in the World. Hence it is, that the chapters VI up to the XI inclusive, contain all the predictions, which include the series of evils, with which the Universe is threatened, such as war, famine, pestilence, &c. The features of all these tableaux are arbitrary enough and are the fruit of an exalted imagination.
It would be perhaps as difficult to analyze them, agreeable to the principles of science, as to render an account of the dreams of a sick person in delirium. Moreover, the doctrine Page 415 of the Magi taught, that before Ahriman would be destroyed, pestilence, famine and other scourges would desolate the Earth. The Tuscan conjurors announced also, that when the Universe would be destroyed, in order to put on a new face, the sound of the trumpet would be heard, and that signs would make their appearance in Heaven and on Earth. It should seem, that those dogmas of the theology of the Persians and the Tuscans have furnished the matter for the exaggerated representation of the priest author of the Apocalypse: behold the canvas, which he has embroidered in those six Chapters after his own fashion.
In the twelfth chapter the author turns his eyes again towards the Heaven of the fixed stars, and towards that part of the firmament, where the vessel called the Ark is to be found, towards the Virgin, followed by the Dragon, upon the Whale, which sets, when the latter rises, upon the beast with the horns of a Lamb, or upon Medusa rising at the former’s setting: those are the various tableaux, which he puts upon the scene, and which he encases in a marvelous and altogether allegorical frame. After reviewing that part of the constellations, which determine the Epoch, in which Nature renews herself every year, when the Sun reaches the sign of the Lamb, the author of the Apocalypse describes a succession of events, in which the predictions, which he had drawn from the book of Fate, may be seen finally realized. Everything is executed in the same order, as above he had predicted.
Subsequently to these scourges the grand judgment arrives; a fiction, which is to be found in Plato, and which is peculiar to the oriental mystagogy. Since rewards and punishments had been invented, what could be more natural than to suppose, that justice should preside over this distribution, and that the Supreme Justice should treat every one according to his actions. Thus the Greeks believed in the judgment of Page 416 Minos. Thus far the Christians have invented nothing; they have copied the dogmas of the ancient leaders of Initiation.
The effect of this judgment was the separation of the people of Ormuzd from that of Ahriman, and to make each one of the two follow the banners of its leader, these toward Tartarus, those towards Elysium or the abode of Ormuzd. This forms the subject of the last chapters, beginning with the seventeenth. The principle of Evil appears here, as in the theology of the Persians, under the form of a monstrous Serpent, which is the form taken by Ahriman in that theology. He gives battle to the principle of Good and of Light and to its people; but he is finally overcome and precipitated with his partisans into the horrible abode of darkness, whence he issued; it is Jupiter, who in Nonnus, is fulminating Typhon or Typheus, before he had reestablished the harmony of the Heavens.
The God of Light, as conqueror, brings afterwards his people and his elected into the mansion of Light and Eternal Bliss, a new land, from which Evil and Darkness, reigning in this World, shall be eternally excluded. But this new World is still preserving the divisions of the old one, and the duodecimal number, which divided the first Heaven, is adhering to the divisions of the new Universe: the Lamb or “Aries” is there equally presiding.
It is particularly in this latter part of the work, that astrology is recognized. The ancient astrologers had indeed subjected all the productions of Nature to the influence of the Celestial signs, and had classed the plants, the trees, the animals, the precious stones, the elementary qualities, the colors, &c., &c., with the twelve animals of the zodiac, on account of the analogy, which they thought to discover with the nature of the sign.
We have published in our larger work the systematic tableau of the influences, which represents the relation of the Page 417 Celestial causes with the sublunary effects in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdom. There are remarked twelve precious stones, being absolutely the same as those in the Apocalypse, ranged in the same order and each appropriated to a sign. Thus it happened, that the Celestial signs were represented by as many precious stones, and as in the distribution of the months the signs are grouped three by three, in order to mark the four Seasons, so are in the Apocalypse the precious stones equally grouped three by three in the City of the twelve gates and of the twelve foundations. Each one of the faces of the sacred City looked towards one of the cardinal points of the World, according to the astrological division, which appropriated three signs to each of these points, on account of the winds, which blow from the various parts of the horizon, which was divided into twelve or as many parts as the signs. The three signs of the East corresponded to spring, those of the West to autumn, those of the South to summer, and those of the North to winter.
There are, says an astrologer, twelve winds, on account of the twelve gates of the Sun, through which these winds issue, and which proceed from the Sun. It is for this reason, that Homer gives to Æolus, or to the God of winds, twelve children. With regard to the twelve gates of the Sun, they are those, which are designated here under the name of the twelve gates of the Holy City of the God of Light. At each of the gates the author places an Angel or a Genius, he who was set over each wind in particular. A pyramid may be seen in Constantinople, overtopped by a figure, which by its movements indicated the twelve winds, represented by twelve Genii or twelve images. Angels are also set in the Apocalypse over the breath of the winds. There may be seen there four, which have charge of the four winds, issuing from the four corners of the horizon. The horizon is here divided into twelve winds, which is the reason, why twelve Angels were Page 418 placed there. In all this, there is nothing but astrology, combined with a system of Angels and Genii, adopted by the Chaldeans and the Persians, from whom the Hebrews and the Christians have borrowed this theory.
The names of the twelve tribes, written on the twelve gates, remind us again of the astrological system of the Hebrews, who had assigned to each of their tribes one of the Celestial signs, and in the prediction of Jacob may be seen indeed, that the characteristic traits of each of his sons agree with that of the signs, under which the Hebrews placed the tribe, of which he is the chief.
Simon Joachites, after making the enumeration of the intelligences or Spirits, which he distributes according to the relations, which they should have with the four cardinal points, has placed in the center a Holy temple sustaining the whole. It has twelve gates, upon each of which is sculptured a sign of the zodiac; on the first one is the sign of Aries or of the Lamb. Those are, proceeds this Rabbi, the twelve leaders or moderators, which have been ranged in conformity with the plan of distribution of a city or a camp; those are the twelve Angels, which are set over the year and over the twelve boundaries or divisions of the Universe.
Psellus, in his book of the Genii or of the Angels, which have the superintendence of the World, is grouping them also three by three, so as to face the four corners of the World.
But let us hear the Christian doctors and the Jews themselves. The learned bishop of Alexandria tells us of the Rational, which ornaments the breast of the High Priest of the Jews, that it is an image of Heaven, that the twelve precious stones, of which it is composed, and which are ranged three by three on a quadrilateral, designate the zodiac and the four seasons, from three to three months. Now these stones, being disposed like those of the Apocalypse, are also Page 419 the same, or very nearly so. Philon and Josephus, give a similar explanation. On each of the stones, says Josephus, there was engraved the name of one of the twelve sons of Jacob, the chief of the tribes, and these stones represented "the months or the twelve signs, which figure in the zodiac." Philon adds, that this distribution of three by three, clearly indicated the seasons, which “under each of the three months, correspond to three signs.”
After these testimonies, we are not permitted to doubt, that the same astrological genius, which presided over the composition of the Rational, has also projected the plan of the Holy City, resplendent with light, and into which are admitted the elect, and the faithful disciples of Ormuzd.
In Lucian, there will also be found a similar city, destined to receive the Blessed, into which the gold and precious stones, which adorned the city of the Apocalypse are to be seen in their refulgence. There is no difference whatsoever between these two fictions, if it is not this, that in Lucian there is the division by seven, on the planetary system, which is there represented; and that in the Apocalypse the division by twelve has been preferred, being that of the zodiac, through which the people passed, in order to return to the luminous World. The Manicheans, in their sacred fictions on the return of the souls “to the perfect air and to the pillar of light,” represented these same signs by twelve vases attached to a wheel, which in its circular motion elevated the souls of the Blessed towards the center of eternal Light. The mystagogical genius has altered the emblems by which the World and the zodiac were designated: this great wheel is the zodiac, called by the Hebrews the wheel of the signs. Those are the wheels, which Ezechiel had seen moving in the Heavens; because the Orientals, as Beausobre judiciously remarks, are very mystical, and express their thoughts only by symbols and figures. To take them literally, would be taking the shadow for reality. So for instance, the Page 420 Mahometans describe the Universe by a city, which has twelve thousand “Parasangs” of circumference, and in which there are twelve thousand porticos, in other, words, they employ the millesimal division, of which the Persians make use of in their fable of the creation, in order to represent the time or the famous period, which the two principles divide amongst themselves. These fables are to be found everywhere.
The nations of the North speak also of twelve Governors, who were charged with the organization of all that concerns the administration of the Celestial city. They hold their meetings in the plain called Ida, which is in the midst of the Divine residence. They sit in a Hall, where there are twelve thrones, besides the one which is occupied by the universal Father. This Hall is the largest and the most magnificent in the World. Nothing is to be seen there but gold outside and inside: it is called the mansion of Bliss. At the extremity of Heaven there is the most beautiful of all cities: it is called Gimle; it is more brilliant even than the Sun. This city shall remain in existence even after the destruction of Heaven and Earth; the good and the upright people shall dwell there for all ages to come.
It will be observed, that there is in the sacred fables of these people, just as in the Apocalypse, a conflagration of the actual World, and a passage of mankind into another World, where they shall live. After many prodigies, which accompany this grand catastrophe, there appear many habitations, some of which are agreeable and others horrible. The best of all is Gimle. The “Edda” speaks, as the Apocalypse, of a new Heaven and a new Earth. “It says, that there shall issue from the sea, another beautiful and agreeable Earth, covered with verdure and with fields, where grain grows spontaneously and without culture. Evils shall be banished, from the World.” In the Voluspa, a poem of the Scandinavians, there is also to be seen the great Dragon of the Apocalypse, Page 421 which is attacked and killed by the son of Odin or the God Thor. “Then the Sun shall go out, the Earth shall be dissolved in the Sea; the devouring flame shall reach all the bounds of Creation, and shoot up towards Heaven. But from the bosom of the waves, says the prophetess, I see surging a new Earth, clothed with verdure. There are to be seen ripe crops, which had never been sown: the Evil disappears. At Gimle, I see a mansion, covered with gold and more brilliant than the Sun; there, the virtuous people shall dwell, and there shall be no end to their bliss.” I do not think, that people will be tempted to believe, that this Scandinavian prophetess was inspired by God. Why then should the author of the prophecy of the Christians of Phrygia, or of the revelation of the prophet John, be regarded in preference as inspired? Because there are absolutely the same mystagogical ideas, which we have seen consecrated in the theology of the Magi, of which Theopompus has given us a summary, long time before ever any Christians existed.
We have a precious piece of that theology in the twenty-fourth allocution of Dion Chrysostom, wherein the system of the conflagration of the World and of the reorganization is described, under the veil of an allegory. There will be observed the dogma of Zeno and of Heraclites, on the transfusion or on the metamorphosis of the elements one into the other, until the element of fire succeeds in converting the whole into its nature. This system is that of the Indians, who believe that Vichnu makes everything reenter into his substance, in order to create from it a new World. In all this, there is nothing very surprising or inspired, but simply a philosophical opinion, like so many others. Why should it be regarded with us, as a revealed truth? Is it because it is found in a book, which is reputed as sacred? This fiction in Dion Chrysostom, is adorned with images as wonderful as those in the Apocalypse. Each one of the elements is represented Page 422 by a horse, bearing the name of the horse of the God, who is set over the element. The first horse belongs to the element of the Fire Ether, called Jupiter; it is superior to the three others, as the Fire, which occupies the highest place in the order of the elements. This horse has wings and is the fleetest of all; it describes the largest circle, which encompasses all the others; it shines of the purest light, and on its body are the images of the Sun and the Moon and of the Stars which are situate in the ethereal regions. This horse is the handsomest of all, and is singularly beloved by Jupiter. The Apocalypse has also its horses, each of which is distinguished by its color.
There is a second one, which comes immediately after that, and which almost touches it. It is that of Juno, or in other words, that of the Air, because Juno is very often taken for the Air, over which that Goddess presides. It is inferior in force and swiftness to the first, and describes an interior and narrower circle; its color is naturally black, but that part, which is exposed to the Sun, becomes luminous, while the other, which is in the shade preserves its natural color. Who does not recognize in these traits the Air, which is luminous during the day and dark in the night.
The third horse is consecrated to Neptune, the God of the Sea. It is still heavier in its gait, than the second.
The fourth is immoveable. It is called the horse of Vesta. It remains in its place, biting its bit. The two nearest lean against and incline on it. The fastest circulates around it as around its post. It will be sufficient to remark here, that Vesta is the name, which Plato gives to the Earth and to the central fire, which it contains. He also represents it as immovable in the midst of the World. Thus three concentric strata of elements are raised above the Earth, which is placed in the center, the velocity of which is in inverse ratio to their density. The most subtile, as the quickest, is the element of Page 423 Fire, represented by the first horse: the heaviest is the Earth, stable and fixed in the center of the World, and expressed by an immovable horse, around which the three others turn in distances and in velocity, which increase in proportion to their distance from the center. These four horses, in spite of the difference in their temperature, live harmoniously together, which is a figurative expression of the well-known principle of the philosophers, that the World is preserved by the concord and harmony of its elements.
However, after many and many turns, the vigorous and heated breath of the first horse, falls upon the others and particularly upon the last; it burns its mane and all its finery, of which it seemed so proud. This is the event, as the Magi say, which the Greeks have sung in the fable of Phaeton; we have explained it in our larger work.
Many years after, the horse of Neptune, by over exertion, was covered with sweat, which overflowed the immovable horse near it. This is the Deluge of Deucalion, which we have also explained.
These two fictions express a philosophical dogma of the Ancients, who predicted the conflagration of the World, when the principle of Fire would domineer, and the deluge, when the principle of Water became paramount. These disasters nevertheless did not bring along with them the total destruction of the World.
There would be a still more terrible catastrophe, which would cause the universal destruction of all things; it would be that, which would result from the metamorphosis, or from the transmutation of the four horses into each other, or to speak without figure, from the transfusion of the elements among themselves, until they were fused into one single nature, by yielding to the victorious action of the strongest. The Magi still compare this last movement to a set of horses harnessed to chariots. The horse of Jupiter, being the Page 424 strongest, consumes the others, which are, compared to it, as it, were of wax, and it absorbs in itself all their substance, being itself of an infinitely better nature. After this only substance had expanded and rarefied, so as to acquire anew all the purity of its primitive nature, it is tending then to reorganize itself, and to reproduce the three other natures or elements, from which a new World of an agreeable form shall be composed, and which shall have all the beauty and freshness of a new work. This is the summary of that Cosmogony, of which we have given a detailed explanation in our manuscript of “comparative Cosmogonies,” which has long been ready for the press. It is therefore not surprising to see the philosophical dogma of a destroyed and renewed World, and replaced by a better order of things, reproduced in other forms, amongst the various religious sects. This is that dogma, which forms the basis of the fourth Eclogue (Idyl) of Virgil, and of the fictions of the Indians on the return of the golden age. It is also to be found in the third book of the natural questions of Seneca.
In the theology of the East Indians, which is written absolutely in the same style as this piece of the theology of the Magi, they presume, that after the total destruction of the Universe, God, who remained as a flame, or even as a light, willed, that the World should assume again its primitive condition, and forthwith he proceeded with the reproduction of beings. We shall not further pursue the parallel of all these philosophical opinions, which each of the mystagogues has rendered after his own fashion. We shall content ourselves with this example, which suffices to give us an idea of the allegorical genius of the ancient sages of the East, and to justify the use we have made of the philosophical dogmas, with which we are acquainted, in order to find out the meaning of those monstrous fictions of Oriental mystagogy. This way of instructing the people, or rather to impose upon it Page 425 under the pretext of instruction, is as far from the habits and manners of the present day, as the hieroglyphical writing is different from ours, and as the style of the sacred science is from that of the philosophy of our days. But such was the language, which was used towards the Initiates, says the author of the Phœnician Cosmogony, in order to excite through it the astonishment and the admiration of the mortals. It is the same genius, that presided over the compilation of the first chapters of the Genesis, and which has created the fable of the tree of the two principles, or the tree of the knowledge of Good and of Evil, and that of the famous Serpent, which introduces into the World an Evil, which can only be redeemed by the Lamb.
The object of the apocalyptical fiction was not only to excite
the astonishment of the Neophyte initiated into the mysteries
of the Lamb, but also to strike terror into the heart of
all those, who should not remain faithful to the laws of Initiation;
because all the great sacerdotal fables, of the Tartarus,
of the deluge, of the end of the World, &c., have had the
same object. The priests wanted to rule the World by fear.
All nature was put in arms against man; no phenomenon
could happen, but it was a sign of an effect of the wrath of
the Gods. Hail, thunder, a great fire, pestilence, &c., all the
scourges, with which poor humanity is afflicted, have been regarded
as so many blows of the divine vengeance, falling on
guilty generations. The destruction of Sodom by fire, is held
up as a punishment for the misdeeds of its inhabitants. There
are certain tribes amongst the Arabs, which are called “the
lost ones,” because they did not obey the voice of the prophet.
The famous “Atlantis,” perhaps only existing in the
imagination of the priests of Egypt, was submerged merely
because the Gods wished to punish the sins of those islanders.
The Japanese have also the fiction of their island
Maury, which was likewise submerged in consequence of
divine vengeance. But it was particularly the philosophical
dogma on the transmutation of the elements, which has been
the most abused under the name of the end of the World;
because everything, wherewith to frighten mankind and to
hold it in their dependence, seemed good enough to the
priests. Although this threat should never be realized, yet
it was always feared, and that was enough. It is true, that
on that account men did not change for the better. If by
chance they dared to fix the epoch of that catastrophe, they
got rid of it, by putting it off for another time, and the people
were nevertheless duped; because such will always be its
fate, as long as it shall put trust in priests; hence those perpetual
fears, in which it was kept during the first centuries of
the Church, and those fatal apprehensions of the end of the
World, which was always believed to be near at hand: afterwards
it was put off to the eleventh century or to the year
one thousand of the Christian era. This chimera, which
frightens now nobody, not even under the forms of a comet,
which new mountebanks have given it, had been revived in
these latter centuries. It belongs to philosophy, aided by
learning, to lift the veil, which covers the origin of those
fables, to analyze those marvelous tales, and above all to
point out its object. This is, what we have done in this work.
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