The Virgin of the World

A.K.

^77:2 This passage qualifies the previous statement in Sect. IX., concerning the duration of the purgatorial state, and shows that it is not [p. 78] to be regarded as eternal, but as proportional to the faults committed. Moreover, it supplies a reason for the Catholic custom of shriving the dying, seeing that unconfessed sin entails heavier penalty than sin confessed, and therefore no longer “hidden.”

A.K.

^78:1 An obscure passage. Probably its meaning is that great sinners, cut off by violent means in the midst of their iniquity, have no time to work out their penance in life, and, being thus deprived of the opportunity of restitution and amendment, suffer the more acutely in purgatory. For since they cannot discharge their debt on earth, they are delivered to torment after death until the “uttermost farthing” is paid.

A.K.

[The opinions expressed in the above, or other scholarly annotations herein, must be disclaimed being in any way necessarily accepted as expressive of, or identical with my own.

Robt. H. Fryar, Bath.]

The Virgin of the World, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, [1884], at sacred-texts.com

PART XI.

SINCE such is the state of the universe, there is nothing immutable, nothing stable, nothing unchanging in nature, either in the heavens or on the earth. God alone, and rightly alone, is wholly full and perfect in Himself, of Himself, and around Himself. He is His own firm stability, nor can He be moved by any impulsion, since all things are in Him, and He alone is all. Unless, indeed, we should dare to say, that His movement is in eternity, but this eternity itself is motionless, since all the motion of time revolves in eternity and takes its form therein. God, then, has ever been and is for ever immutable; with Him likewise is the immutable eternity, bearing within it, as

[the

[p. 81]

the image of God, the uncreated universe not yet manifest. Hence, the created universe constitutes the imitation of this eternal universe. Time, despite its perpetual movement, possesses, by means of its necessary revolutions on itself, the force and nature of stability. Thus, although eternity is fixed and immutable, nevertheless, since the motion of time unfolds itself in eternity, and this mobility is the very condition of time, it appears that eternity, immutable in itself, yet revolves by means of the time which is within it, and which contains all motion. Thence it results that the stability of eternity appears mobile, and the mobility of time, stable, by the fixed law of their course. And thus it might seem even that God moves in His own immutability. For there is in the immensity of the equilibrium an unchangeable movement; the law of His immensity is unchangeable.

That, therefore, which is not subject to sense–the Infinite, the Incomprehensible, the Immeasureable–can not be sustained, nor carried, nor sought out; neither can we know whence it comes, whither it goes, where it is, how it is, nor what it is. It is contained in its own supreme stability, and its stability in it; whether God be in eternity, or eternity in God, or both one and the other in the two. Eternity is undefinable by time; and time, which may be defined by number, by alternative, or by periodical revolutions, is eternal. Thus both appear equally infinite and eternal. Stability being the fixed point which serves as the basis of Movement, must, because of this stability, hold the principal place. God and Eternity are, therefore, the principle of all things; but the world, which is mutable, cannot be considered the principle. The mutability of the world takes precedence of its stability, by means of the law of eternal movement

[in

[p. 82]

in equilibrium. The whole consciousness of Divinity is then immutable, and moves only in equilibrium; it is holy, incorruptible, eternal; or to define it better, it is eternity, consisting in the very truth of the Supreme God, the plenitude of all feeling and knowledge, or indeed, so to speak, in God Himself. The consciousness of the natural universe includes all sensible things and species; the consciousness of humanity involves memory, by which man remembers his acts performed.

Now, the consciousness of Divinity descends even to the human creature. God has not seen fit to extend to all beings this supreme and divine consciousness, lest, were it common to all animals, the glory of it should be diminished. The intelligence of the human mind,–whatever may be its quality and quantity,–lies wholly in the memory, and it is by means of this tenacity of memory that man has become the lord of the earth. The intelligence of nature, the quality and consciousness of the universe, may be understood by means of the sensible things it contains. Eternity, in the next place, is understood as to its consciousness and its quality, according to the sensible world.

But the intelligence of the Divine Being, the consciousness of the Supreme God, is the only truth, and this truth cannot be discovered,–no, nor so much as its shadow,–in this world full of illusion, of changeful appearances, and of error, where things are known only in the dimension of time.

Thou seest, O Asclepios, what lofty matters we dare to treat! I thank Thee, O most high God, Who hast illumined me with the light of Thy Grace! As for you, O Tat, Asclepios, and Ammon, keep these Divine mysteries in the secret place of your hearts,

[and

[p. 83]

and conceal them in silence. Intellect differs from perception in this–that intellect, by means of study, is competent to understand and to know the nature of the universe.

The intellect of the universe penetrates to the consciousness of eternity, and of the super-mundane Gods. And as for us who are men, we perceive heavenly things as it were darkly through a mist, for thus only does the condition of our human sense

permit us to behold them. Feeble, indeed, is our strength to penetrate things so Divine; but, when at last we attain to them, we are indeed blessed by the joy of our inward consciousness.

The Virgin of the World, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, [1884], at sacred-texts.com

PART XII.

CONCERNING the Void, to which so much importance is attached, my judgment is that it does not exist, that it never has existed, and that it never will exist. For all the various parts of the universe are filled, as the earth also is complete and full of bodies, differing in quality and in form, having their species and their magnitude, one larger, one smaller, one solid, one tenuous. The larger and more solid are easily perceived; the smaller and more tenuous are difficult to apprehend, or altogether invisible. We know only of their

[existence

[p. 84]

existence by the sensation of feeling, wherefore many persons deny such entities to be bodies, and regard them as simply spaces, but it is impossible there should be such spaces. For if indeed there should be anything outside the universe, which I do not believe, then it would be a space occupied by intelligible beings analogous to its Divinity, in such wise that the world, which we call the sensible world, would be filled with bodies and creatures appropriate to its nature and quality. We do not behold all the aspects of the world; some of these indeed are very vast, others very small, or else they appear small to us by reason of their remoteness, or the imperfection of our sight; their extreme tenuity may even cause us to be wholly ignorant of their existence. I speak of the genii, for I hold they dwell with us, and of the heroes who dwell above us, between the earth and the higher airs; wherein are neither clouds nor any tempest.

For in truth, O Asclepios, it cannot be said that there is anywhere a void, unless care be taken to define what is signified by void; as, for instance, void of fire, or water, or of some other such thing. And even if this or that space, small or great, be empty of these elements, nothing can be empty of the spirit and aerial fluid. The same thing may be said of place; this word alone cannot be understood, unless it is applied to something. By omitting the chief term, the sense intended is lost; thus, it is correct to say, “the place of water,” “the place of fire,” or of any other similar thing. For as it is impossible that there should be space void of everything, so also it is impossible there should be place by itself. If a place is supposed without its contents, then it is an empty place, and, in my judgment, such a place does not

[exist

[p. 85]

exist in the universe. But if nothing be void, then there can be no such thing as place in itself, unless it be qualified by length, breadth, and depth, even as human bodies have distinguishing signs.

If, then, these things be so, O Asclepios and you who are also present, know that the Intelligible World, that is to say, God, Who is perceived only by the eye of intelligence, is incorporeal, and that nothing corporeal can be mingled with His nature, nor anything that can be defined by quality, quantity, or numeration, for there is nothing of such a kind in Him. This world, which is called the sensible world, is the receptacle of all sensible appearances, qualities, and bodies, nor can this universe exist without God. For God is all, and all come forth from Him, and depend on His Will; He contains everything that is good, orderly, wise, perfect, perceptible for Him alone, and intelligible for Him alone. Apart from Him nothing has been, nothing is, nothing will be; for all proceed from Him, are in Him, and by Him; whether manifold qualities, vast quantities, magnitudes exceeding measurement, species of all forms. If thou understandest these things, Asclepios, render thanks to God; and, observing the universe, comprehend clearly that this sensible world, and all that it contains, is enfolded, as in a garment, by the supernal world. O Asclepios, beings of every kind, whether mortals, immortals, reasonable, animate, inanimate, to whatever class they may belong, bear the impress of that class, and although each of them has the general appearance of its kind, there are yet among them special differences. Even so, the human kind is uniform, and man may be defined by his type; nevertheless, under this general likeness, men present many dissimilarities. For the

[character

[p. 86]

character which proceeds from God is incorporeal, as is all that is comprehended in intelligence. Since the two principles which determine form are corporeal and incorporeal, it is impossible that they should generate a form wholly resembling something else, at whatever distance of time or of place. Forms, nevertheless, are as changeful as the moments in an hour’s space, in the moveable circle wherein is that omniform God of whom we have spoken. Therefore the type persists, producing as many images of itself as the revolution of the world has instants of time. The world has changes in its revolution, but species (individuality) has neither period nor change. Thus the forms of every species are permanent, and yet various in the same species.

Asclepios:

And does the world also vary in its species, Trismegistos?

Hermes:

Why then, Asclepios, hast thou been asleep all the while we have been discoursing? What is the world, or of what is it composed, if not of all that is generated in it? Or dost thou speak of heaven, of the earth, and of the elements, for other beings continually change in appearance? But even so the heaven, now rainy, now dry, now hot, now cold, now clear, now covered with clouds, has many successive changes of aspect beneath its apparent uniformity. So also the earth constantly changes its aspect, for now it brings forth its fruits, now it hides them in its bosom, bearing

[products

[p. 87]

products of diverse quality and quantity; here is repose, there is movement, and every variety of trees, flowers, seeds, properties, odours, savours, forms. Fire, likewise, has its manifold and divine transformations, for the sun and the moon have all manner of aspects comparable to the multitude of images beheld in mirrors. And now we have discoursed enough of these things.

The Virgin of the World, by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland, [1884], at sacred-texts.com

PART XIII.

LET us return to man, and enquire concerning the divine gift of reason which entitles him to be called a reasonable creature. Among all the wonders we have noted in man, that which above all commands admiration is this:–that man has discovered the divinity of nature, and has made it efficient to his designs. [*1] [Our

[p. 88]

Our ancestors, wandering astray in matters of faith concerning the Gods, and unable to lift their minds to the Divine knowledge and religion, discovered the art of making Gods; and, having discovered it, they invested their products with appropriate virtues drawn from the nature of the world. And, as they could not make souls, they evoked the spirits of genii and angels, and endowed with them the holy images and sacraments, thus enabling their idols to exercise powers

[for

[p. 89]

for good or ill. In such wise thine ancestor, O Asclepios, the inventor of medicine, has a temple on the Lybian mountain by the shores of the crocodile-frequented river, where also lies enshrined all of him which belonged to the earth–that is, his body. For the rest of him–his better part, or rather, indeed, himself–because the principle of consciousness and of life is the whole man–is restored to heaven. And now, by his divinity, he lends help to men in their sicknesses, who once instructed them in the art of healing. So also, Hermes, my own ancestor, whose name I bear, now enshrined in the country which is called after him, hears the prayers of those who come thither from all parts of the land to obtain of him assistance and health. Behold, again, what blessings Isis, the spouse of Osiris, confers upon men when she is favourable to them, and what ills she inflicts when she is angered! For these mundane and earthly Gods are accessible to wrath, being formed and composed by men out of Nature. Of, such sort in Egypt is the adoration paid to animals; and thus also do cities honour the souls of those men who, in their lifetime, gave them laws and whose names they preserve. And for this reason, O Asclepios, those deities which are adored in some places, receive in others no worship; whence arise many wars between the cities of Egypt.

Asclepios:

And of what kind, O Trismegistos, is the divinity of these Gods who inhabit the earth?

[Hermes:

[p. 90]

Hermes:

It consists in the divine virtue, which naturally subsists in herbs, rocks, and aromatic principles, wherefore these deities love frequent sacrifices, hymns, and praises, and sweet music resembling the celestial harmony, which heaven-like rite, attractive to their sacred nature, draws them and retains them in their shrines, so that they patiently endure their long sojourn among men. It is thus that men make Gods. Neither must thou suppose, O Asclepios, that the acts of these terrestrial deities are controlled by hazard. For while the supernal Gods abide in the heights of heaven, keeping each the order which belongs to him, these Gods of ours have also their special functions. Some predict by means of lots and divination the events of the future; others preside, in various ways, over things depending on their care, or come to our assistance as allies, as kinsmen, or as friends.

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