Two things follow from the considerations of the ninth book: (a) That there are or there have been custodians of secret knowledge in Christian times, but I express only my personal view if I say that they remain to this day; (b) that the term of their purpose does not differ in kind from that of the external Churches; but (c) by their claim they had carried the Great Experiment further. Their testimony offers therefore (1) deeper intimations of Church doctrine; (2) a contribution in concealment to the annals of the life of sanctity; (3) by the remembrance--in perpetuity of dedication--that there is one thing needful; (4) and this is to partake, if it be possible, of Divine Substance--that is, spirit and life--of which the impermanent consubstantiation with Divine Humanity in the official Eucharist is the vestige in symbolism only. The way of attainment must have had its doctrinal correspondence in the Descent of the Paraclete. It does not follow that the custodians celebrated what we understand by a Mass, but it is impossible to delineate their process by a stricter, analogy. After exhausting all other considerations we can speak of it only in this manner. I suggest that it was said in the heart, and that Christ came down into the heart. It follows that for those unseen masters, as for us also, the Mysterium Eidei was the Eucharist. The Greek
[paragraph continues] Epiclesis clause may pass, therefore, among official things as the nearest approach to a rite above all things valid, that is, manifesting supernaturally. Its history is one of the most interesting in the wild garden of liturgical formulæ. It should be understood, in this connection, that during the earlier days of the Church there was not a method of consecration which prevailed everywhere; the Latin rite held, with certain variations, to the canonical words of institution, as I have shown in a previous section; but there are traces of instances in which it was performed by the recitation of an Oratio Dominica--possibly the Pater noster over the elements, thus by the hypothesis converting the daily bread into heavenly manna. By the hypothesis also, the Epiclesis clause brought down upon the elements the influence and even the presence of the Holy Ghost, and it must be admitted that this contains, ritually speaking, a very high suggestion. At the Council of Florence the Latins required the Greeks to expunge the Epiclesis, with all forms of invocation, and there can be no doubt that they were doctrinally and technically correct, within the convention of their own order, because it was admitted on all hands that the words of institution produced a valid Eucharist, and the principle of invocation was to give the officiating priest within the range of the convention an express and personal part in the mystery of consecrating, which, by the same hypothesis, must be regarded as superfluous, though we can--on our own part--discern a deeper reason. The clause remains to this day in the Greek Church, and for those who lay stress on its efficacy that Church has therefore the words but not seemingly more than the outward sign of that life which should be resident therein.
If it be said that in these considerations the Churches are impeached collectively, and because the literature of the Graal creates exactly the same contrast in the same manner exactly, that it therefore concurs in the impeachment, the conclusion on the surface may seem
almost irresistible, but that it is untrue is my whole contention. The facts which here follow must be held to silence any voices of dissent. We have seen that there are three literatures which testify concerning the voided House of Doctrine. (a), The first is the Graal literature, and in no uncertain way does it bear witness that the official Church has the efficacious means. (b) The second is Zoharic Kabalism, with all its connections, but while it tells of the cloud on the official sanctuary of Israel, this also bears witness (1) that Israel is of God; (2) that the Church in Israel contains the Words of the Mystery, with the reflection at least of the cohabiting glory, and (3) that the way of salvation is that Law by which the world was made in Mercy. (c) The third is Masonry, and in the dual schools thereof--which are the Craft and High Degrees--it bears the same witness: (1) that the Symbolic Temple is the Holy Place, but the Spiritual Temple is to come; (2) that the Lord has risen truly, and though at the present time we do not know certainly where we shall find Him, we are on the Quest which does not fail. I say therefore again that there has been no more faithful testimony throughout the centuries. It does not concern a competitive orthodoxy or a distinct process, but the development of the same doctrine and the extension of the same process to what is called in Masonry the ne plus ultra degree. It is not that anything exists outside the Church, but that more subsists within it than is comprehended by the lower grades. The equivalent is that the Law of Nature reflects the Law of Grace, and the perfect paradox that Nature imitates Grace.
The external Church is therefore, and so it remains, that body in which the first work of regeneration takes place--and this, as one may say, of necessity; it is the reflection of life everlasting projected on the perishable plane. It is in this sense the condign and legitimate governor of all holy external places. The Church is the good husbandman who prepares the ground and tills
the earth of humanity. It fertilises that earth after various manners, as, for example, by the laws of moral conduct, by the great literatures, by the high consecration of the seven sacraments, by the water, the oils and the wine. In all these ways it sows with a generous hand the seeds of secret life. But the earth is hard and the earth is also unresponsive. The seed will germinate in many directions, and the earth will therefore be irradiated by a certain undeclared presence of the secret life; but it issues above the ground only in a few cases, and then the individual enters into the manifested life of sanctity. It is a question thereafter of the particular quality of the earth and the environment of the life. Generally the growth is stunted and too weak to put forth its powers. It is only on rare occasions that they spring up into the high light and the clear air, lifting the radiant glory of a perfect head amidst their peers.
The hidden life of the soul is well known to the doctors of the soul, and the Church has also its hidden life, wherein it communicates with all things nearest to the Divine in the higher consciousness. Official doctrine is, however, in the same position as normal consciousness; it covers a part of the field only. There is therefore, on both sides, a certain sense of the incommensurate, and assuredly it is for this reason that the Churches are desolate; such desolation is, however, on account of that which is in hiding, not of that which is withdrawn. The offices are not abrogated and the sacraments are still administered, being also efficacious up to a determined point. Perhaps indeed the desolation is not less especially in ourselves, so that it is we who individually and collectively have helped to make void the House of Doctrine. The fact that the external Church is from this point of view in widowhood makes its desertion a grave offence against the high unwritten code of chivalry, just as a dereliction of masonic good conduct is implied in forsaking one's mother lodge. At the same time the great work can sometimes be done
from without as well as from within, but in this case that work is an approximation towards a higher side of the Church.
It follows that the official Church can act only up to the extent of its consciousness, and the side on which it has derogated has been the side of policy and conduct. We can account in this manner for all its imperfections, for that which we term its abuses, but there will remain the glories of its doctrine as things which, in their proper understanding, emerge apart and unaffected. These are the treasures which it was instituted to preserve, and if it has added some things to the jewel-house which are of secondary or even dubious value, our part is to wait for its wakening in the higher mind. The Greek Rite has slept over-long therein, and the Roman Rite has had nightmares, but the happy Prince, who is a true Son of the House, will arrive one of these days and will ask the unspelling question. Meanwhile, the individual man must be appraised at his highest only, so far as that highest has been indicated, and it is the same with the Church. The lower standards are deceptive, and it is for this reason that conduct--as we understand it conventionally--is comparatively of less importance; it is that which maintains the world and not that which renews it. There is also the irrefutable consideration of all those unhappy sects which exist for the dissemination of a contracted symbolism under the guise of pure doctrine, thinking that the situation can be ameliorated by taking in their fairyland. The undue multiplication of symbols tends, of necessity, to attenuate their force by spreading it over too large a surface, but it is not to be compared with the malefic dismemberment of symbolism, which produces its paralysis, for the loss of so many limbs causes the body to decay and puts an end to the office of the Wardens.