On the historical side the Secret Church is then the shadow of an hypothesis at best; on the spiritual side of the intellect it is an implicit, but it is that irresistibly; mystically it is a truth which is not less than obvious, but it should be understood--and I repeat therefore--that it is apart from all forms, conventions and instituted existence. When in our highest moments we conceive with least unworthiness of the Church on the ideal plane, we approximate, but still under the reserves of our own insufficiency, to the Holy Assembly. It is the unity of arch-natural minds. It is that in which, by the mediation of the creeds, we confess our beliefs daily--the communion of saints. If we like to express it in such words--and they are excellent apart from their unhappy associations--it is the choir invisible. It is even like the priesthood of the Graal sanctuary, as we judge by the romances concerning it; it does not ordain or teach; it fulfils its office sufficiently because, speaking symbolically, it is "in the foremost files of time." It is like Saint-Martin--its feet are on earth and its head is in Heaven.
The Secret Church has said therefore: "Introibo ad altare Dei," and it has entered and gone in. When it comes out, in the person of one of its members, it carries bread and wine, like Melchisedech. The conditions of its membership correspond to the conditions of finding
the Holy Graal, as described in the German Parsifal. If it were possible to regard it as an Order, it might be said that its device is: "Behold, I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the world." It is the place in which Mary conceived in her heart before she conceived in her body. As already indicated, it has not issued manifestoes, or we should be in a better position to judge regarding it; it has not had its documents abstracted, or we should not have had the Graal romances extant in their present form. But things have transpired concerning it, and thus we have the Characteristics of the Interior Church by Loupoukine, the Cloud upon the Sanctuary by Eckartshausen, Werner's Sons of the Valley, the Eucharistic side of Alchemy and the rumour of the Holy Quest. It gives to those who can receive it a full answer to the question: "Art thou He that is to come, or do we look for another?" In a word, the natural Graal is everywhere but the supernatural Graal is in the Secret Church.
So far as there has been any evidence offered on the hypothesis concerning it, this has gone entirely astray, because it has assumed that we are concerned with some corporate and organised body, whereas we are concerned only with the course of experience in the higher consciousness. Now, if there is no such experience, the claim of the official Church is at once voided.
The presence of the Secret Church is like that of angels unawares. In the outer courts are those who are prepared for regeneration, and in the adyta are those who have attained it: these are the Holy Assembly. It is the place of those who, after the birth of flesh, which is the birth of the will of man, have come to be born of God. It is in the persons of those who are regenerate that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church. The place of the Holy Assembly is the place of Eden and Paradise; it is that whence man came and whither he returns. It is also that place from which the Spirit and the Bride say "Come";
or it is the place of the Waters of Life, with power to take freely. It is like the still, small voice; it is heard only in the midst of the heart's silence, and there is no written word to show us how its rite is celebrated. Its work upon things without is a work of harmony, wherein is neither haste nor violence. There are no admissions--at least of the ceremonial kind--to the Holy Assembly, but in the last instance the candidate inducts himself. There is no sodality, no institution, no order which throughout the Christian centuries has worked in such silence. It is for this reason that it remains an implicit in mystic literature rather than a formal revelation; it is not a revelation but an inference; when it is not an inference it is an attainment. It is neither an interference nor a guidance actually; it is better described as an influence. It does not come down; more correctly it draws up, but it also inheres. It is the place of those who have become transmuted and tingeing stones.
The mystery in chief of the Secret Church is that of Divine communication, of which it has the sanctifying sacraments; but, once more, so far as these are typified symbolically it can have no more efficient and unspotted outward signs than the bread and wine for oblation. It is in this sense that it connects more especially with the Eucharist. Christian temples are oriented to show that there is a light behind, and by all previous considerations churches with open doors are the thresholds of the Church which is not entered by doors because it has not been built with hands. The Secret Church is the manifest Church glorified and installed in the spiritual kingdom, as this was first set over the kingdom of the visible world. It is therefore the withdrawn spirit of the outward Holy Assembly, and it would be unreasonable for those who acknowledge the visible body to deny that which transcends it. But to speak of a spirit which thus transcends a body is still to say that, because the lesser is contained by the greater, the latter is until
now not exactly without the former nor apart therefrom, and its mode of manifestation, in so far as it can be said to manifest, is not otherwise than from within. There is, no separate incorporation. It has no ambassadors nor chargés d’affaires at any court of the hierarchies, nor does it send out visible physicians and healers, for it has no conventional offices either in the interests of things above or even of those below. If some have spoken of it as leading the official Church, there is here an imperfection of expression, because it is speaking after a formal manner concerning modes which are apart from all whatsoever that we understand by convention. Without in any sense representing and much less exhausting the process, I have indicated that it draws rather than leads, and if I may attempt one further definition, as the synthesis of all my statements--echoing and reflecting all--I would describe the Secret Church as the integration of believers in the higher consciousness.