The Key of the Mysteries

(La Clef des Grands Mystères)

Eliphas Levi


"Religion says: — 'Believe and you will understand.' Science comes to say to you: — 'Understand and you will believe.'

"At that moment the whole of science will change front; the spirit, so long dethroned and forgotten, will take its ancient place; it will be demonstrated that the old traditions are all true, that the whole of paganism is only a system of corrupted and misplaced truths, that it is sufficient to cleanse them, so to say, and to put them back again in their place, to see them shine with all their rays. In a word, all ideas will change, and since on all sides a multitude of the elect cry in concert, 'Come, Lord, come!' why should you blame the men who throw themselves forward into that majestic future, and pride themselves on having foreseen it?"
 —  J. De Maistre, Soirées de St. Petersbourg.

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In the biographical and critical essay which Mr. Waite prefixes to his Mysteries of Magic he says: "A word must be added of the method of this digest, which claims to be something more than translation and has been infinitely more laborious. I believe it to be in all respects faithful, and where it has been necessary or possible for it to be literal, there also it is invariably literal."

We agree that it is either more or less than translation, and the following examples selected at hazard in the course of half-an-hour will enable the reader to judge whether Mr. Waite is acquainted with either French or English:

"Gentilhomme" — "Gentleman."

"The nameless vice which was reproached against the Templars."

"Certaines circonstances ridicules et un proces en escroquerie" — "Certain ridiculous processes and a swindling lawsuit."

"Se mêle de dogmatiser" — "Meddles with dogmatism."

"La vie pour lui suffisait à l'expiation des plus grands crimes, puis qu'elle etait la consequence d'un arrêt de mort" — "According to him life was sufficient for the greatest crimes, since these were the result of a death sentence."

"Vos meilleurs amis ont dû concevoir des inquiétudes" — "Your best friends have been reasonably anxious." (The mistranslation here turns the speech into an insult.)

"Sacro-sainte" — "Sacred and saintly."

"Auriculaire" — "Index."

"N'avez vous pas obtenu tout ce que vous demandiez, et plus que vous ne demandiez, car vous ne m'aviez pas parlé d'argent?" — "Have you not had all and more than you wanted, and there has been no question of remuneration?" (This mistranslation makes nonsense of the whole passage.)

"Eliphas n'etait pas a la question" — "Eliphas was not under cross-examination."

"Mauvais plaisant" — "Vicious jester."

"Si vous n'aviez pas … vous deviendriez" — "If you have not … you may become." (This mistranslation turns a compliment into an insult.)

"An awful and ineffaceable tableaux."

"Peripeties" — "Circumstances."

"Il avait fait partie du clerge de Saint Germain l'Auxerrois" — "He was of the Society of St. Germain l'Auxerrois."

"Bruit de tempete" — "Stormy sound."

We are obliged to mention this matter, as Mr. Waite (by persistent self-assertion) has obtained the reputation of being trustworthy as an editor. On the contrary, he not only mutilates and distorts his authors, but, as demonstrated above, he is totally incapable of understanding their simplest phrases and even their commonest words.


This volume represents the high-water mark of the thought of Eliphas Levi. It may be regarded as written by him as his Thesis for the Grade of Exempt Adept, just as his Ritual and Dogma was his Thesis for the grade of a Major Adept. He is, in fact, no longer talking of things as if their sense was fixed and universal. He is beginning to see something of the contradiction inherent in the nature of things, or at any rate, he constantly illustrates the fact that the planes are to be kept separate for practical purposes, although in the final analysis they turn out to be one. This, and the extraordinarily subtle and delicate irony of which Eliphas Levi is one of the greatest masters that has ever lived, have baffled the pedantry and stupidity of such commentators as Waite. English has hardly a word to express the mental condition of such unfortunates. Dummheit, in its strongest German sense, is about the nearest thing to it. It is as if a geographer should criticize Gulliver's Travels from his own particular standpoint.

When Levi says that all that he asserts as an initiate is subordinate to his humble submissiveness as a Christian, and then not only remarks that the Bible and the Qur'an are different translations of the same book, but treats the Incarnation as an allegory, it is evident that a good deal of submission will be required. When he agrees with St. Augustine that a thing is not just because God wills it, but God wills it because it is just, he sees perfectly well that he is reducing God to a poetic image reflected from his own moral ideal of justice, and no amount of alleged orthodoxy can weigh against that statement. His very defence of the Catholic Hierarchy is a masterpiece of that peculiar form of conscious sophistry which justifies itself by reducing its conclusion to zero. One must begin with one, and that one has no particular qualities. Therefore, so long as you have an authority properly centralized it does not really matter what that authority is. In the Pope we have such an authority ready made, and it is the gravest tactical blunder to endeavour to set up an authority opposed to him. Success in doing so means war, and failure anarchy. This, however, did not prevent Levi from ceremonially casting a papal crown to the ground and crying "Death to tyranny and superstition!" in the bosom of a certain secret Areopagus of which he was the most famous member.

When a man becomes a magician he looks about him for a magical weapon; and, being probably endowed with that human frailty called laziness, he hopes to find a weapon ready made. Thus we find the Christian Magus who imposed his power upon the world taking the existing worships and making a single system combining all their merits. There is no single feature in Christianity which has not been taken bodily from the worship of Isis, or of Mithras, or of Bacchus, or of Adonis, or of Osiris. In modern times again we find Frater Iehi Aour trying to handle Buddhism. Others again have attempted to use Freemasonry. There have been even exceptionally foolish magicians who have tried to use a sword long since rusted.

Wagner illustrates this point very clearly in Siegfried. The Great Sword Nothung has been broken, and it is the only weapon that can destroy the gods. The dwarf Mime tries uselessly to mend it. When Siegfried comes he makes no such error. He melts its fragments and forges a new sword. In spite of the intense labour which this costs, it is the best plan to adopt.

Levi completely failed to capture Catholicism; and his hope of using Imperialism, his endeavour to persuade the Emperor that he was the chosen instrument of the Almighty, a belief which would have enabled him to play Maximus to little Napoleon's Julian, was shattered once for all at Sedan.

It is necessary for the reader to gain this clear conception of Levi's inmost mind, if he is to reconcile the "contradictions" which leave Waite petulant and bewildered. It is the sad privilege of the higher order of mind to be able to see both sides of every question, and to appreciate the fact that both are equally tenable. Such contradictions can, of course, only be reconciled on a higher plane, and this method of harmonizing contradictions is, therefore, the best key to the higher planes.

It seems unnecessary to add anything to these few remarks. This is the only difficulty in the whole book, though in one or two passages Levi's extraordinarily keen sense of humour leads him to indulge in a little harmless bombast. We may instance his remarks on the Grimoire of Honorius.

We have said that this is the masterpiece of Levi. He reaches an exaltation of both thought and language which is equal to that of any other writer known to us. Once it is understood that it is purely a thesis for the Grade of Exempt Adept, the reader should have no further difficulty. — A. C.


On the brink of mystery, the spirit of man is seized with giddiness. Mystery is the abyss which ceaselessly attracts our unquiet curiosity by the terror of its depth.

The greatest mystery of the infinite is the existence of Him for whom alone all is without mystery.

Comprehending the infinite which is essentially incomprehensible, He is Himself that infinite and eternally unfathomable mystery; that is to say, that He is, in all seeming, that supreme absurdity in which Tertullian believed.

Necessarily absurd, since reason must renounce for ever the project of attaining to Him; necessarily credible, since science and reason, far from demonstrating that He does not exist, are dragged by the chariot of fatality to believe that He does exist, and to adore Him themselves with closed eyes.

Why? — Because this Absurd is the infinite source of reason. The light springs eternally from the eternal shadows. Science, that Babel Tower of the spirit, may twist and coil its spirals ever ascending as it will; it may make the earth tremble, it will never touch the sky.

God is He whom we shall eternally learn to know better, and, consequently, He whom we shall never know entirely.

The realm of mystery is, then, a field open to the conquests of the intelligence. March there as boldly as you will, never will you diminish its extent; you will only alter its horizons. To know all is an impossible dream; but woe unto him who dares not to learn all, and who does not know that, in order to know anything, one must learn eternally!

They say that in order to learn anything well, one must forget it several times. The world has followed this method. Everything which is to-day debateable had been solved by the ancients. Before our annals began, their solutions, written in hieroglyphs, had already no longer any meaning for us. A man has rediscovered their key; he has opened the cemeteries of ancient science, and he gives to his century a whole world of forgotten theorems, of syntheses as simple and sublime as nature, radiating always from unity, and multiplying themselves like numbers with proportions so exact, that the known demonstrates and reveals the unknown. To understand this science, is to see God. The author of this book, as he finishes his work, will think that he has demonstrated it.

Then, when you have seen God, the hierophant will say to you: — "Turn round!" and, in the shadow which you throw in the presence of this sun of intelligences, there will appear to you the devil, that black phantom which you see when your gaze is not fixed upon God, and when you think that your shadow fills the sky, — for the vapours of the earth, the higher they go, seem to magnify it more and more.

To harmonize in the category of religion science with revelation and reason with faith, to demonstrate in philosophy the absolute principles which reconcile all the antinomies, and finally to reveal the universal equilibrium of natural forces, is the triple object of this work, which will consequently be divided into three parts.

We shall exhibit true religion with such characters, that no one, believer or unbeliever, can fail to recognize it; that will be the absolute in religion. We shall establish in philosophy the immutable characters of that Truth, which is in science, reality; in judgment, reason; and in ethics, justice. Finally, we shall acquaint you with the laws of Nature, whose equilibrium is stability, and we shall show how vain are the phantasies of our imagination before the fertile realities of movement and of life. We shall also invite the great poets of the future to create once more the divine comedy, no longer according to the dreams of man, but according to the mathematics of God.

Mysteries of other worlds, hidden forces, strange revelations, mysterious illnesses, exceptional faculties, spirits, apparitions, magical paradoxes, hermetic arcana, we shall say all, and we shall explain all. Who has given us this power? We do not fear to reveal it to our readers.

There exists an occult and sacred alphabet which the Hebrews attribute to Enoch, the Egyptians to Thoth or to Hermes Trismegistus, the Greeks to Cadmus and to Palamedes. This alphabet was known to the followers of Pythagoras, and is composed of absolute ideas attached to signs and numbers; by its combinations, it realizes the mathematics of thought. Solomon represented this alphabet by seventy-two names, written upon thirty-six talismans. Eastern initiates still call these the "little keys" or clavicles of Solomon. These keys are described, and their use explained, in a book the source of whose traditional dogma is the patriarch Abraham. This book is called the Sepher Yetzirah; with the aid of the Sepher Yetzirah one can penetrate the hidden sense of the Zohar, the great dogmatic treatise of the Qabalah of the Hebrews. The Clavicles of Solomon, forgotten in the course of time, and supposed lost, have been rediscovered by ourselves; without trouble we have opened all the doors of those old sanctuaries where absolute truth seemed to sleep, — always young, and always beautiful, like that princess of the childish legend, who, during a century of slumber, awaits the bridegroom whose mission it is to awaken her.

After our book, there will still be mysteries, but higher and farther in the infinite depths. This publication is a light or a folly, a mystification or a monument. Read, reflect, and judge.

The Key of the Mysteries
(La Clef des Grands Mystères)

Eliphas Levi

Part I

Religious Mysteries

Problems for Solution

  1. — To demonstrate in a certain and absolute manner the existence of God, and to give an idea of Him which will satisfy all minds.
  2. — To establish the existence of a true religion in such a way as to render it incontestable.
  3. — To indicate the bearing and the raison d'être of all the mysteries of the one true and universal religion.
  4. — To turn the objections of philosophy into arguments favourable to true religion.
  5. — To draw the boundary between religion and superstition, and to give the reason of miracles and prodigies.

Preliminary Considerations

When Count Joseph de Maistre, that grand and passionate lover of Logic, said despairingly, "The world is without religion," he resembled those people who say rashly "There is no God."

The world, in truth, is without the religion of Count Joseph de Maistre, as it is probable that such a God as the majority of atheists conceive does not exist.

Religion is an idea based upon one constant and universal fact; man is a religious animal. The word "religion" has then a necessary and absolute sense. Nature herself sanctifies the idea which this word represents, and exalts it to the height of a principle.

The need of believing is closely linked with the need of loving; for that reason our souls need communion in the same hopes and in the same love. Isolated beliefs are only doubts: it is the bond of mutual confidence which, by creating faith, composes religion.

Faith does not invent itself, does not impose itself, does not establish itself by any political agreement; like life, it manifests itself with a sort of fatality. The same power which directs the phenomena of nature, extends and limits the supernatural domain of faith, despite all human foresight. One does not imagine revelations; one undergoes then, and one believes in them. In vain does the spirit protest against the obscurities of dogma; it is subjugated by the attraction of these very obscurities, and often the least docile of reasoners would blush to accept the title of "irreligious man."

Religion holds a greater place among the realities of life than those who do without religion — or pretend to do without it — affect to believe. All ideas that raise man above the animal — moral love, devotion, honour — are sentiments essentially religious. The cult of the fatherland and of the family, fidelity to an oath and to memory, are things which humanity will never abjure without degrading itself utterly, and which could never exist without the belief in something greater than mortal life, with all its vicissitudes, its ignorance and its misery.

If annihilation were the result of all our aspirations to those sublime things which we feel to be eternal, our only duties would be the enjoyment of the present, forgetfulness of the past, and carelessness about the future, and it would be rigorously true to say, as a celebrated sophist once said, that the man who thinks is a degraded animal.

Moreover, of all human passions, religious passion is the most powerful and the most lively. It generates itself, whether by affirmation or negation, with an equal fanaticism, some obstinately affirming the god that they have made in their own image, the others denying God with rashness, as if they had been able to understand and to lay waste by a single thought all that world of infinity which pertains to His great name.

Philosophers have not sufficiently considered the physiological fact of religion in humanity, for in truth religion exists apart from all dogmatic discussion. It is a faculty of the human soul just as much as intelligence and love. While man exists, so will religion. Considered in this light, it is nothing but the need of an infinite idealism, a need which justifies every aspiration for progress, which inspires every devotion, which alone prevents virtue and honour from being mere words, serving to exploit the vanity of the weak and the foolish to the profit of the strong and the clever.

It is to this innate need of belief that one might justly give the name of natural religion; and all which tends to clip the wings of these beliefs is, on the religious plane, in opposition to nature. The essence of the object of religion is mystery, since faith begins with the unknown, abandoning the rest to the investigations of science. Doubt is, moreover, the mortal enemy of faith; faith feels that the intervention of the divine being is necessary to fill the abyss which separates the finite from the infinite, and it affirms this intervention with all the warmth of its heart, with all the docility of its intelligence. If separated from this act of faith, the need of religion finds no satisfaction, and turns to scepticism and to despair. But in order that the act of faith should not be an act of folly, reason wishes it to be directed and ruled. By what? By science? We have seen that science can do nothing here. By the civil authority? It is absurd. Are our prayers to be superintended by policemen?

There remains, then, moral authority, which alone is able to constitute dogma and establish the discipline of worship, in concert this time with the civil authority, but not in obedience to its orders. It is necessary, in a word, that faith should give to the religious need a real satisfaction, — a satisfaction entire, permanent and indubitable. To obtain that, it is necessary to have the absolute and invariable affirmation of a dogma preserved by an authorized hierarchy. It is necessary to have an efficacious cult, giving, with an absolute faith, a substantial realization of the symbols of belief.

Religion thus understood being the only one which can satisfy the natural need of religion, it must be the only really natural religion. We arrive, without help from others, at this double definition, that true natural religion is revealed religion. The true revealed religion is the hierarchical and traditional religion, which affirms itself absolutely, above human discussion, by communion in faith, hope, and charity.

Representing the moral authority, and realizing it by the efficacy of its ministry, the priesthood is as holy and infallible as humanity is subject to vice and to error. The priest, qua priest, is always the representative of God. Of little account are the faults or even the crimes of man. When Alexander VI consecrated his bishops, it was not the poisoner who laid his hands upon them, it was the pope. Pope Alexander VI never corrupted or falsified the dogmas which condemned him, or the sacraments which in his hands saved others, and did not justify him. At all times and in all places there have been liars and criminals, but in the hierarchical and divinely authorized Church there have never been, and there will never be, either bad popes or bad priests. "Bad" and "priest" form an oxymoron.

We have mentioned Alexander VI, and we think that this name will be sufficient without other memories as justly execrated as his being brought up against us. Great criminals have been able to dishonour themselves doubly because of the sacred character with which they were invested, but they had not the power to dishonour that character, which remains always radiant and splendid above fallen humanity.[1]

We have said that there is no religion without mysteries; let us add that there are no mysteries without symbols. The symbol, being the formula or the expression of the mystery, only expresses its unknown depth by paradoxical images borrowed from the known. The symbolic form, having for its object to characterize what is above scientific reason, should necessarily find itself without that reason: hence the celebrated and perfectly just remark of a Father of the Church: "I believe because it is absurd. Credo quia absurdum."

If science were to affirm what it did not know, it would destroy itself. Science will then never be able to perform the work of faith, any more than faith can decide in a matter of science. An affirmation of faith with which science is rash enough to meddle can then be nothing but an absurdity for it, just as a scientific statement, if given us as an article of faith, would be an absurdity on the religious plane. To know and to believe are two terms which can never be confounded.

It would be equally impossible to oppose the one to the other. It is impossible, in fact, to believe the contrary of what one knows without ceasing, for that very reason, to know it; and it is equally impossible to achieve a knowledge contrary to what one believes without ceasing immediately to believe.

To deny or even to contest the decisions of faith in the name of science is to prove that one understands neither science nor faith: in fine, the mystery of a God of three persons is not a problem of mathematics; the incarnation of the Word is not a phenomenon in obstetrics; the scheme of redemption stands apart from the criticism of the historian. Science is absolutely powerless to decide whether we are right or wrong in believing or disbelieving dogma; it can only observe the results of belief, and if faith evidently improves men, if, moreover, faith is in itself, considered as a physiological fact, evidently a necessity and a force, science will certainly be obliged to admit it, and take the wise part of always reckoning with it.

Let us now dare to affirm that there exists an immense fact equally appreciable both by faith and science; a fact which makes God visible (in a sense) upon earth; a fact incontestable and of universal bearing; this fact is the manifestation in the world, beginning from the epoch when the Christian revelation was made, of a spirit unknown to the ancients, of a spirit evidently divine, more positive than science in its works, in its aspirations, more magnificently ideal than the highest poetry, a spirit for which it was necessary to create a new name, a name altogether unheard[2] in the sanctuaries of antiquity. This name was created, and we shall demonstrate that this name, this word, is, in religion, as much for science as for faith, the expression of the absolute. The word is CHARITY, and the spirit of which we speak is the spirit of charity.

Before charity, faith prostrates itself, and conquered science bows. There is here evidently something greater than humanity; charity proves by its works that it is not a dream. It is stronger than all the passions; it triumphs over suffering and over death; it makes God understood by every heart, and seems already to fill eternity by the begun realization of its legitimate hopes.

Before charity alive and in action who is the Proudhon who dares blaspheme? Who is the Voltaire who dares laugh?

Pile one upon the other the sophisms of Diderot, the critical arguments of Strauss, the "Ruins" of Volney, so well named, for this man could make nothing but "ruins," the blasphemies of the revolution whose voice was extinguished once in blood, and once again in the silence of contempt; join to it all that the future may hold for us of monstrosities and of vain dreams; then will there come the humblest and the simplest of all sisters of charity, — the world will leave there all its follies, and all its crimes, and all its dreams, to bow before this sublime reality.

Charity! word divine, sole word which makes God understood, word which contains a universal revelation! Spirit of charity, alliance of two words, which are a complete solution and a complete promise! To what question, in fine, do these two words not find an answer?

What is God for us, if not the spirit of charity? What is orthodoxy? Is it not the spirit of charity which refuses to discuss faith lest it should trouble the confidence of simple souls, and disturb the peace of universal communion?[3] And the universal church, is it any other thing than a communion in the spirit of charity? It is by the spirit of charity that the church is infallible. It is the spirit of charity which is the divine virtue of the priesthood.

Duty of man, guarantee of his rights, proof of his immortality, eternity of happiness commencing for him upon the earth, glorious aim given to his existence, goal and path of all his struggles, perfection of his individual, civil and religious morality, the spirit of charity understands all, and is able to hope all, undertake all, and accomplish all.

It is by the spirit of charity that Jesus expiring on the cross gave a son to His mother in the person of St. John, and, triumphing over the anguish of the most frightful torture, gave a cry of deliverance and of salvation, saying, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!"

It is by charity that twelve Galilean artisans conquered the world; they loved truth more than life, and they went without followers to speak it to peoples and to kings; tested by torture, they were found faithful. They showed to the multitude a living immortality in their death, and they watered the earth with a blood whose heat could not be extinguished, because they were burning with the ardours of charity.

It is by charity that the Apostles built up their Creed. They said that to believe together was worth more than to doubt separately; they constituted the hierarchy on the basis of obedience — rendered so noble and so great by the spirit of charity, that to serve in this manner is to reign; they formulated the faith of all and the hope of all, and they put this Creed in the keeping of the charity of all. Woe to the egoist who appropriates to himself a single word of this inheritance of the Word; he is a deicide, who wishes to dismember the body of the Lord.

This creed is the holy ark of charity; whoso touches it is stricken by eternal death, for charity withdraws itself from him. It is the sacred inheritance of our children, it is the price of the blood of our fathers!

It is by charity that the martyrs took consolation in the prisons of the Caesars, and won over to their belief even their warders and their executioners.

It is in the name of charity that St. Martin of Tours protested against the torture of the Priscillians,[4] and separated himself from the communion of the tyrant who wished to impose faith by the sword.

It is by charity that so great a crowd of saints have forced the world to accept them as expiation for the crimes committed in the name of religion itself, and the scandals of the profaned sanctuary.

It is by charity that St. Vincent de Paul and Fenelon compelled the admiration of even the most impious centuries, and quelled in advance the laughter of the children of Voltaire before the imposing dignity of their virtues.

It is by charity, finally, that the folly of the cross has become the wisdom of the nations, because every noble heart has understood that it is greater to believe with those who love, and who devote themselves, than to doubt with the egotists and with the slaves of pleasure.


First Article

Solution of the First Problem


God can only be defined by faith; science can neither deny nor affirm that He exists.
God is the absolute object of human faith. In the infinite, He is the supreme and creative intelligence of order. In the world, He is the spirit of charity.
Is the Universal Being a fatal machine which eternally grinds down intelligences by chance, or a providential intelligence which directs forces in order to ameliorate minds?
The first hypothesis is repugnant to reason; it is pessimistic and immoral.
Science and reason ought then to accept the second.
Yes, Proudhon, God is an hypothesis, but an hypothesis so necessary, that without it, all theorems become absurd or doubtful.
For initiates of the Qabalah, God is the absolute unity which creates and animates numbers.
The unity of the human intelligence demonstrates the unity of God.
The key of numbers is that of creeds, because signs are analogical figures of the harmony which proceeds from numbers.
Mathematics could never demonstrate blind fatality, because they are the expression of the exactitude which is the character of the highest reason.
Unity demonstrates the analogy of contraries; it is the foundation, the equilibrium, and the end of numbers. The act of faith starts from unity, and returns to unity.

Image 2

We shall now sketch out an explanation of the Bible by the aid of numbers, for the Bible is the book of the images of God.
We shall ask numbers to give us the reason of the dogmas of eternal religion; numbers will always reply by reuniting themselves in the synthesis of unity.
The following pages are simply outlines of qabalistic hypotheses; they stand apart from faith, and we indicate them only as curiosities of research. It is no part of our task to make innovations in dogma, and what we assert in our character as an initiate is entirely subordinate to our submission in our character as a Christian.[5]



Unity is the principle and the synthesis of numbers; it is the idea of God and of man; it is the alliance of reason and of faith.
Faith cannot be opposed to reason; it is made necessary by love, it is identical with hope. To love is to believe and hope; and this triple outburst of the soul is called virtue, because, in order to make it, courage is necessary. But would there be any courage in that, if doubt were not possible? Now, to be able to doubt, is to doubt. Doubt is the force which balances faith, and it constitutes the whole merit of faith.
Nature herself induces us to believe; but the formulae of faith are social expressions of the tendencies of faith at a given epoch. It is that which proves the Church to be infallible, evidentially and in fact.
God is necessarily the most unknown of all beings because He is only defined by negative experience; He is all that we are not, He is the infinite opposed to the finite by hypothesis.
Faith, and consequently hope and love, are so free that man, far from being able to impose them on others, does not even impose them on himself.
"These," says religion, "are graces." Now, is it conceivable that grace should be subject to demand or exaction; that is to say, could any one wish to force men to a thing which comes freely and without price from heaven? One must not do more than desire it for them.
To reason concerning faith is to think irrationally, since the object of faith is outside the universe of reason. If one asks me: — "Is there a God?" I reply, "I believe it." "But are you sure of it?" — "If I were sure of it, I should not believe it, I should know it."
The formulation of faith is to agree upon the terms of the common hypothesis.
Faith begins where science ends. To enlarge the scope of science is apparently to diminish that of faith; but in reality, it is to enlarge it in equal proportion, for it is to amplify its base.
One can only define the unknown by its supposed and supposable relations with the known.
Analogy was the sole dogma of the ancient magi. This dogma may indeed be called "mediator," for it is half scientific, half hypothetical; half reason, and half poetry. This dogma has been, and will always be, the father of all others.
What is the Man-God? He who realizes, in the most human life, the most divine ideal.
Faith is a divination of intelligence and of love, when these are directed by the pointings of nature and of reason.
It is then of the essence of the things of faith to be inaccessible to science, doubtful for philosophy, and undefined for certainty.
Faith is an hypothetical realization and a conventional determination of the last aims of hope. It is the attachment to the visible sign of the things which one does not see.
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," said the Master; to see with the heart is to believe; and if this faith is attached to the true good, it can never be deceived, provided that it does not seek to define too much in accordance with the dangerous inductions which spring from personal ignorance. Our judgments in questions of faith apply to ourselves; it will be done to us as we have believed; that is to say, we create ourselves in the image of our ideal.
"Those who make their gods become like unto them," says the psalmist, "and all they that put their trust in them."
The divine ideal of the ancient world made the civilization which came to an end, and one must not despair of seeing the god of our barbarous fathers become the devil of our more enlightened children. One makes devils with cast-off gods,[6] and Satan is only so incoherent and so formless because he is made up of all the rags of ancient theogonies. He is the sphinx without a secret, the riddle without an answer, the mystery without truth, the absolute without reality and without light.
Man is the son of God because God, manifested, realized, and incarnated upon earth, called Himself the Son of man.
It is after having made God in the image of His intelligence and of His love, that humanity has understood the sublime Word who said "Let there be light!"
Man is the form of the divine thought, and God is the idealized synthesis of human thought.
Thus the Word of God reveals man, and the Word of man reveals God.
Man is the God of the world, and God is the man of heaven.
Before saying "God wills," man has willed.
In order to understand and honour Almighty God, man must first be free.
Had he obeyed and abstained from the fruit of the tree of knowledge through fear, man would have been innocent and stupid as the lamb, sceptical and rebellious as the angel of light. He himself cut the umbilical cord of his simplicity, and, falling free upon the earth, dragged God with him in his fall.
And therefore, from this sublime fall, he rises again glorious, with the great convict of Calvary, and enters with Him into the kingdom of heaven.
For the kingdom of heaven belongs to intelligence and love, both children of liberty.
God has shown liberty to man in the image of a lovely woman, and in order to test his courage, He made the phantom of death pass between her and him.
Man loved, and felt himself to be God; he gave for her what God had just bestowed upon him — eternal hope.
He leapt towards his bride across the shadow of death.
Man possessed liberty; he had embraced life.
Expiate now thy glory, O Prometheus!
Thy heart, ceaselessly devoured, cannot die; it is thy vulture, it is Jupiter, who will die!
One day we shall awake at last from the painful dreams of a tormented life; our ordeal will be finished, and we shall be sufficiently strong against sorrow to be immortal.
Then we shall live in God with a more abundant life, and we shall descend into His works with the light of His thought, we shall be borne away into the infinite by the whisper of His love.
We shall be without doubt the elder brethren of a new race, the angels of posterity.
Celestial messengers, we shall wander in immensity, and the stars will be our gleaming ships.
We shall transform ourselves into sweet visions to calm weeping eyes; we shall gather radiant lilies in unknown meadows, and we shall scatter their dew upon the earth.
We shall touch the eyelid of the sleeping child, and rejoice the heart of its mother with the spectacle of the beauty of her well-beloved son!


The binary is more particularly the number of woman, mate of man and mother of society.
Man is love in intelligence; woman is intelligence in love.
Woman is the smile of the Creator content with himself, and it is after making her that He rested, says the divine parable.
Woman stands before man because she is mother, and all is forgiven her in advance, because she brings forth in sorrow.
Woman initiated herself first into immortality through death; then man saw her to be so beautiful, and understood her to be so generous, that he refused to survive her, and loved her more than his life, more than his eternal happiness.
Happy outlaw, since she has been given to him as companion in his exile!
But the children of Cain have revolted against the mother of Abel; they have enslaved their mother.
The beauty of woman has become a prey for the brutality of such men as cannot love.
Thus woman closed her heart as if it were a secret sanctuary, and said to men unworthy of her: "I am virgin, but I will to become mother, and my son will teach you to love me."
O Eve! Salutation and adoration in thy fall!
O Mary! Blessings and adoration in thy sufferings and in thy glory!
Crucified and holy one who didst survive thy God that thou mightst bury thy son, be thou for us the final word of the divine revelation!
Moses called God "Lord"; Jesus called Him "My Father," and we, thinking of thee, may say to Providence, "You are our mother."
Children of woman, let us forgive fallen woman!
Children of woman, let us adore regenerate woman!
Children of woman, who have slept upon her breast, been cradled in her arms, and consoled by her caresses, let us love her, and let us love each other!


The Ternary is the number of creation.
God creates Himself eternally, and the infinite which He fills with His works is an incessant and infinite creation.
Supreme love contemplates itself in beauty as in a mirror, and It essays all forms as adornments, for It is the lover of life.
Man also affirms himself and creates himself; he adorns himself with his trophies of victory, he enlightens himself with his own conceptions, he clothes himself with his works as with a wedding garment.
The great week of creation has been imitated by human genius, divining the forms of nature.
Every day has furnished a new revelation, every new king of the world has been for a day the image and the incarnation of God! Sublime dream which explains the mysteries of India, and justifies all symbolisms!
The lofty conception of the man-God corresponds to the creation of Adam, and Christianity, like the first days of man in the earthly paradise, has been only an aspiration and a widowhood.
We wait for the worship of the bride and of the mother; we shall aspire to the wedding of the New Covenant.
Then the poor, the blind, the outlaws of the old world will be invited to the feast, and will receive a wedding garment. They will gaze the one upon the other with inexpressible tenderness and a smile that is ineffable because they have wept so long.


The Quaternary is the number of force. It is the ternary completed by its product, the rebellious unity reconciled to the sovereign trinity.
In the first fury of life, man, having forgotten his mother, no longer understood God but as an inflexible and jealous father.
The sombre Saturn, armed with his parricidal scythe, set himself to devour his children.
Jupiter had eyebrows which shook Olympus; Jehovah wielded thunders which deafened the solitudes of Sinai.
Nevertheless, the father of men, being on occasion drunken like Noah, let the world perceive the mysteries of life.
Psyche, made divine by her torments, became the bride of Eros; Adonis, raised from death, found again his Venus in Olympus; Job, victorious over evil, recovered more than he had lost.
The law is a test of courage.
To love life more than one fears the menaces of death is to merit life.
The elect are those who dare; woe to the timid!
Thus the slaves of law, who make themselves the tyrants of conscience and the servants of fear, and those who begrudge that man should hope, and the Pharisees of all the synagogues and of all the churches, are those who receive the reproofs and the curses of the Father.
Was not the Christ excommunicated and crucified by the synagogue?
Was not Savonarola burned by the order of the sovereign pontiff of the Christian religion?
Are not the Pharisees to-day just what they were in the time of Caiaphas?
If any one speaks to them in the name of intelligence and love, will they listen?
In rescuing the children of liberty from the tyranny of the Pharaohs, Moses inaugurated the reign of the Father.
In breaking the insupportable yoke of mosaic pharisaism, Jesus welcomed all men to the brotherhood of the only son of God.
When the last ideals fall, when the last material chains of conscience break, when the last of them that killed the prophets and the last of them that stifled the Word are confounded, then will be the reign of the Holy Ghost.
Then, Glory to the Father who drowned the host of Pharaoh in the Red Sea!
Glory to the Son, who tore the veil of the temple, and whose cross, overweighing the crown of the Caesars, broke the forehead of the Caesars against the earth!
Glory to the Holy Ghost, who shall sweep from the earth by His terrible breath all the thieves and all the executioners, to make room for the banquet of the children of God!
Glory to the Holy Ghost, who has promised victory over earth and over heaven to the angel of liberty!
The angel of liberty was born before the dawn of the first day, before even the awakening of intelligence, and God called him the morning star.
O Lucifer! Voluntarily and disdainfully thou didst detach thyself from the heaven where the sun drowned thee in his splendour, to plow with thine own rays the unworked fields of night!
Thou shinest when the sun sets, and thy sparkling gaze precedes the daybreak!
Thou fallest to rise again; thou tastest of death to understand life better!
For the ancient glories of the world, thou art the evening star; for truth renascent, the lovely star of dawn.
Liberty is not licence, for licence is tyranny.
Liberty is the guardian of duty, because it reclaims right.[7]
Lucifer, of whom the dark ages have made the genius of evil, will be truly the angel of light when, having conquered liberty at the price of infamy, he will make use of it to submit himself to eternal order, inaugurating thus the glories of voluntary obedience.
Right is only the root of duty; one must possess in order to give.
This is how a lofty and profound poetry explains the fall of the angels.
God hath given to His spirits light and life; then He said to them: "Love!"

"What is — to love?" replied the spirits.

"To love is to give oneself to others," replied God. "Those who love will suffer, but they will be loved."
"We have the right to give nothing, and we wish to suffer nothing," said the spirits, hating love.
"Remain in your right," answered God, "and let us separate! I and Mine wish to suffer and even to die, to love. It is our duty!"
The fallen angel is then he who, from the beginning, refused to love; he does not love, and that is his whole torture; he does not give, and that is his poverty; he does not suffer, and that is his nothingness; he does not die, and that is his exile.
The fallen angel is not Lucifer the light-bearer; it is Satan, who calumniated love.
To be rich is to give; to give nothing is to be poor; to live is to love; to love nothing is to be dead; to be happy is to devote oneself; to exist only for oneself is to cast away oneself, and to exile oneself in hell.
Heaven is the harmony of generous thoughts; hell is the conflict of cowardly instincts.
The man of right is Cain who kills Abel from envy; the man of duty is Abel who dies for Cain for love.
And such has been the mission of Christ, the great Abel of humanity.
It is not for right that we should dare all, it is for duty.
Duty is the expansion and the enjoyment of liberty; isolated right is the father of slavery.
Duty is devotion; right is selfishness.
Duty is sacrifice; right is theft and rapine.
Duty is love, and right is hate.
Duty is infinite life; right is eternal death.
If one must fight to conquer right, it is only to acquire the power of duty: what use have we for freedom, unless to love and to devote ourselves to God?
If one must break the law, it is when law imprisons love in fear.
"He that saveth his life shall lose it," says the holy Book; "and he who consents to lose it will save it."
Duty is love; perish every obstacle to love! Silence, ye oracles of hate! Destruction to the false gods of selfishness and fear! Shame to the slaves, the misers of love!
God loves prodigal children!


The Quinary is the number of religion, for it is the number of God united to that of woman.[8]
Faith is not the stupid credulity of an awestruck ignorance.
Faith is the consciousness and the confidence of Love.
Faith is the cry of reason, which persists in denying the absurd, even in the presence of the unknown.
Faith is a sentiment necessary to the soul, just as breathing is to life; it is the dignity of courage, and the reality of enthusiasm.
Faith does not consist of the affirmation of this symbol or that, but of a genuine and constant aspiration towards the truths which are veiled by all symbolisms.
If a man rejects an unworthy idea of divinity, breaks its false images, revolts against hateful idolaters, you will call him an atheist!
The authors of the persecutions in fallen Rome called the first Christians atheists, because they did not adore the idols of Caligula or of Nero.
To deny a religion, even to deny all religions rather than adhere to formulae which conscience rejects, is a courageous and sublime act of faith. Every man who suffers for his convictions is a martyr of faith.
He explains himself badly, it may be, but he prefers justice and truth to everything; do not condemn him without understanding him.
To believe in the supreme truth is not to define it, and to declare that one believes in it is to recognize that one does not know it.
The Apostle St. Paul declares all faith contained in these two things: — To believe that God is, and that He rewards them who seek Him.
Faith is a greater thing than all religions, because it states the articles of belief with less precision.
Any dogma constitutes but a belief, and belongs to our particular communion; faith is a sentiment which is common to the whole of humanity.
The more one discusses with the object of obtaining greater accuracy, the less one believes; every new dogma is a belief which a sect appropriates to itself, and thus, in some sort, steals from universal faith.
Let us leave sectarians to make and remake their dogmas; let us leave the superstitious to detail and formulate their superstitions. As the Master said, "Let the dead bury their dead!" Let us believe in the indicible truth; let us believe in that Absolute which reason admits without understanding it; let us believe in what we feel without knowing it!
Let us believe in the supreme reason!
Let us believe in Infinite Love, and pity the stupidities of scholasticism and the barbarities of false religion!
O man! Tell me what thou hopest, and I will tell thee what thou art worth.
Thou dost pray, thou dost fast, thou dost keep vigil; dost thou then believe that so thou wilt escape alone, or almost alone, from the enormous ruin of mankind — devoured by a jealous God? Thou art impious, and a hypocrite.
Dost thou turn life into an orgie, and hope for the slumber of nothingness? Thou art sick, and insensate.
Art thou ready to suffer as others and for others, and hope for the salvation of all? Thou art a wise and just man.
To hope is to fear not.
To be afraid of God, what blasphemy!
The act of hope is prayer.
Prayer is the flowering of the soul in eternal wisdom and in eternal love.
It is the gaze of the spirit towards truth, and the sigh of the heart towards supreme beauty.
It is the smile of the child upon its mother.
It is the murmur of the lover, who reaches out towards the kisses of his mistress.
It is the soft joy of a loving soul as it expands in an ocean of love.
It is the sadness of the bride in the absence of the bridegroom.
It is the sigh of the traveller who thinks of his fatherland.
It is the thought of the poor man who works to support his wife and children.
Let us pray in silence; let us raise toward our unknown Father a look of confidence and of love; let us accept with faith and resignation the part which He assigns to us in the toils of life, and every throb of our hearts will be a word of prayer!
Have we need to inform God of what we ask from Him? Does not He know what is necessary for us?
If we weep, let us offer Him our tears; if we rejoice, let us turn towards Him our smile; if He smite us, let us bow the head; if He caress us, let us sleep within His arms!
Our prayer will be perfect, when we pray without knowing whom we pray.
Prayer is not a noise which strikes the ear; it is a silence which penetrates the heart.
Soft tears come to moisten the eyes, and sighs escape like incense smoke.
One feels oneself in love, ineffably in love, with all that is beauty, truth, and justice; one throbs with a new life, and one fears no more to die. For prayer is the eternal life of intelligence and love; it is the life of God upon earth.
Love one another — that is the Law and the Prophets! Meditate, and understand this word.
And when you have understood, read no more, seek no more, doubt no more — love!
Be no more wise, be no more learned — love! That is the whole doctrine of true religion; religion means charity, and God Himself is only love.
I have already said to you, to love is to give.
The impious man is he who absorbs others.
The pious man is he who loses himself in humanity.
If the heart of man concentrate in himself the fire with which God animates it, it is a hell which devours all, and fills itself only with ashes; if he radiates it without, it becomes a tender sun of love.
Man owes himself to his family; his family owes itself to the fatherland; and the fatherland to humanity.
The egoism of man merits isolation and despair; that of the family, ruin and exile; that of the fatherland, war and invasion.
The man who isolates himself from every human love, saying, "I will serve God," deceives himself. For, said St. John the Apostle, if he loveth not his neighbour whom he hath see, how shall he love God whom he hath not seen?
One must render to God that which is God's, but one must not refuse even to Caesar that which is Caesar's.
God is He who gives life; Caesar can only give death.
One must love God, and not fear Caesar; as it is written in the Holy Book, "He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword."
You wish to be good? Then be just. You wish to be just? Then be free.
The vices which make man like the brute are the first enemies of his liberty.
Consider the drunkard, and tell me if this unclean brute can be called free!
The miser curses the life of his father, and, like the crow, hungers for corpses.
The goal of the ambitious man is — ruins; it is the delirium of envy! The debauchee spits upon the breast of his mother, and fills with abortions the entrails of death.
All these loveless hearts are punished by the most cruel of all tortures, hate.
Because — take it to heart! — the expiation is implicit in the sin.
The man who does evil is like an earthen pot ill-made; he will break himself: fatality wills it.
With the debris of the worlds, God makes stars; with the debris of souls He makes angels.


The Senary is the number of initiation by ordeal; it is the number of equilibrium, it is the hieroglyph of the knowledge of Good and Evil.
He who seeks the origin of evil, seeks the source of what is not.
Evil is the disordered appetite of good, the unfruitful attempt of an unskilful will.
Every one possesses the fruit of his work, and poverty is only the spur to toil.
For the flock of men, suffering is like the shepherd dog, who bites the wool of the sheep to put them back in the right way.
It is because of shadow that we are able to see light; because of cold that we feel heat; because of pain that we are sensible to pleasure.
Evil is then for us the occasion and the beginning of good.
But, in the dreams of our imperfect intelligence, we accuse the work of Providence, through failing to understand it.
We resemble the ignorant person who judges the picture by the beginning of the sketch, and says, when the head is done, "What! Has this figure no body?"
Nature remains calm, and accomplishes its work.
The ploughshare is not cruel when it tears the bosom of the earth, and the great revolutions of the world are the husbandry of God.
There is a place for everything: to savage peoples, barbarous masters; to cattle, butchers; to men, judges and fathers.
If time could change the sheep into lions, they would eat the butchers and the shepherds.
Sheep never change because they do not instruct themselves; but peoples instruct themselves.
Shepherds and butchers of the people, you are then right to regard as your enemies those who speak to your flock!
Flocks who know yet only your shepherds, and who wish to remain ignorant of their dealings with the butchers, it is excusable that you should stone them who humiliate you and disturb you, in speaking to you of your rights.
O Christ! The authorities condemn Thee, Thy disciples deny Thee, the people curses Thee, and demands Thy murder; only Thy mother weeps for Thee, even God abandons Thee!
"Eli! Eli! lama sabachthani!"


The Septenary is the great biblical number. It is the key of the Creation in the books of Moses and the symbol of all religion. Moses left five books, and the Law is complete in two testaments.
The Bible is not a history, it is a collection of poems, a book of allegories and images.
Adam and Eve are only the primitive types of humanity; the tempter serpent is time which tests; the Tree of Knowledge is 'right'; the expiation by toil is duty.
Cain and Abel represent the flesh and the spirit, force and intelligence, violence and harmony.
The giants are those who usurped the earth in ancient times; the flood was a great revolution.
The ark is tradition preserved in a family: religion at this period becomes a mystery and the property of the race. Ham was cursed for having revealed it.
Nimrod and Babel are the two primitive allegories of the despot, and of the universal empire which has always filled the dreams of men, — a dream whose fulfilment was sought successively by the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, Alexander, Rome, Napoleon, the successors of Peter the Great, and always unfinished because of the dispersion of interests, symbolized by the confusion of tongues.
The universal empire could not realize itself by force, but by intelligence and love. Thus, to Nimrod, the man of savage 'right,' the Bible opposed Abraham, the man of duty, who goes voluntarily into exile in order to seek liberty and strife in a strange country, which he seizes by virtue of his Idea.
He has a sterile wife, his thought, and a fertile slave, his force; but when force has produced its fruit, thought becomes fertile; and the son of intelligence drives into exile the child of force. The man of intelligence is submitted to rude tests; he must confirm his conquests by sacrifices. God orders him to immolate his son, that is to say, doubt ought to test dogma, and the intellectual man should be ready to sacrifice everything on the altar of supreme reason. Then God intervenes: universal reason yields to the efforts of labour, and shows herself to science; the material side of dogma is alone immolated. . This is the meaning of the ram caught by its horns in a thicket. The history of Abraham is, then, a symbol in the ancient manner, and contains a lofty revelation of the destinies of the human soul. Taken literally, it is an absurd and revolting story. Did not St. Augustine take literally the Golden Ass of Apuleius?
Poor great men!
The history of Isaac is another legend. Rebecca is the type of the oriental woman, laborious, hospitable, partial in her affections, shrewd and wily in her manoeuvres. Jacob and Esau are again the two types of Cain and Abel; but here Abel avenges himself: the emancipated intelligence triumphs by cunning. The whole of the genius of the Jews is in the character of Jacob, the patient and laborious supplanter who yields to the wrath of Esau, becomes rich, and buys his brother's forgiveness. One must never forget that, when the ancients want to philosophize, they tell a story.
The history or legend of Joseph contains, in germ, the whole genius of the Gospel; and the Christ, misunderstood by His people, must often have wept in reading over again that scene, where the Governor of Egypt throws himself on the neck of Benjamin, with the great cry of "I am Joseph!"
Israel becomes the people of God, that is to say, the conservator of the idea, and the depositaries of the word. This idea is that of human independence, and of royalty, by means of work; but one hides it with care, like a precious seed. A painful and indelible sign is imprinted on the initiates; every image of the truth is forbidden, and the children of Jacob watch, sword in hand, around the unity of the tabernacle. Hamor and Shechem wish to introduce themselves forcibly into the holy family, and perish with their people after undergoing a feigned initiation. In order to dominate the vulgar, it is already necessary that the sanctuary should surround itself with sacrifices and with terror.
The servitude of the children of Jacob paves the way for their deliverance: for they have an idea, and one does not enchain an idea; they have a religion, and one does not violate a religion; they are, in fine, a people, and one does not enchain a real people. Persecution stirs up avengers; the idea incarnates itself in a man; Moses springs up; Pharaoh falls; and the column of smoke and flame, which goes before a freed people, advances majestically into the desert.
Christ is priest and king by intelligence and by love.
He has received the holy unction, the unction of genius, faith and virtue, which is force.
He comes when the priesthood is worn out, when the old symbols have no more virtue, when the beacon of intelligence is extinguished.
He comes to recall Israel to life, and if he cannot galvanize Israel, slain by the Pharisees, into life, he will resurrect the world given over to the dead worship of idols.
Christ is the right to do one's duty.
Man has the right to do his duty, and he has no other right.
O man! thou hast the right to resist even unto death any who prevents thee from doing thy duty.
Mother! Thy child is drowning; a man prevents thee from helping him; thou strikest this man, thou dost run to save thy son! … Who, then, will dare to condemn thee?
Christ came to oppose the right of duty to the duty of right.
'Right,' with the Jews, was the doctrine of the Pharisees. And, indeed, they seemed to have acquired the privilege of dogmatizing; were they not the legitimate heirs of the synagogue?
They had the right to condemn the Saviour, and the Saviour knew that His duty was to resist them.
Christ is the soul of protest.
But the protest of what? Of the flesh against the intelligence? No!
Of right against duty? No!
Of the physical against the moral? No! No!
Of imagination against universal reason? Of folly against wisdom? No, a thousand times No, and once more No!
Christ is the reality, duty, which protests eternally against the ideality, right.
He is the emancipation of the spirit which breaks the slavery of the flesh.
He is devotion in revolt against egoism.
He is the sublime modesty which replies to pride: "I will not obey thee!"
Christ is unmated; Christ is solitary; Christ is sad: Why?
Because woman has prostituted herself.
Because society is guilty of theft.
Because selfish joy is impious.
Christ is judged, condemned, and executed; and men adore Him!
This happened in a world perhaps as serious as our own.
Judges of the world in which we live, pay attention, and think of Him who will judge your judgments!
But, before dying, the Saviour bequeathed to His children the immortal sign of salvation, Communion.
Communion! Common union! the final word of the Saviour of the world!
"The Bread and the Wine shared among all," said He, "this is my flesh and my blood."
He gave His flesh to the executioners, His blood to the earth which drank it. Why?
In order that all may partake of the bread of intelligence, and of the wine of love.
O sign of the union of men! O Round Table of universal chivalry! O banquet of fraternity and equality! When will you be better understood?
Martyrs of humanity, all ye who have given your life in order that all should have the bread which nourishes and the wine which fortifies, do ye not also say, placing your hands on the signs of the universal communion: "This is our flesh and our blood"?
And you, men of the whole world, you whom the Master calls His brothers; oh, do you not feel that the universal bread, the fraternal bread, the bread of the communion, is God?
Retailers of the Crucified One!
All you who are not ready to give your blood, your flesh and your life to humanity, you are not worthy of the Communion of the Son of God! Do not let His blood flow upon you, for it would brand your forehead!
Do not approach your lips to the heart of God, He would feel your sting!
Do not drink the blood of the Christ, it will burn your entrails; it is quite sufficient that it should have flowed uselessly for you!


The Ogdoad is the number of reaction and of equilibrating justice.
Every action produces a reaction.
This is the universal law of the world.
Christianity must needs produce anti-Christianity.
Antichrist is the shadow, the foil, the proof of Christ.
Antichrist already produced itself in the Church in the time of the Apostles: St. Paul said: — "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked One be revealed. …"[9]
The Protestants said: "Antichrist is the Pope."
The Pope replied: "Every heretic is an Antichrist."
The Antichrist is no more the Pope than Luther; the Antichrist is the spirit opposed to that of Christ.
It is the usurpation of right for the sake of right; it is the pride of domination and the despotism of thought.
It is the selfishness, self-styled religious, of Protestants, as well as the credulous and imperious ignorance of bad Catholics.
The Antichrist is what divides men instead of uniting them; it is a spirit of dispute, the obstinacy of the theologians and sectarians, the impious desire of appropriating the truth to oneself, and excluding others from it, or of forcing the whole world to submit to the narrow yoke of our judgments.
The Antichrist is the priest who curses instead of blessing, who drives away instead of attracting, who scandalizes instead of edifying, who damns instead of saving.
It is the hateful fanaticism which discourages good-will.
It is the worship of death, sadness, and ugliness.
"What career shall we choose for our son?" have said many stupid parents; "he is mentally and bodily weak, and he is without a spark of courage: — we will make a priest of him, so that he may 'live by the altar.'" They have not understood that the altar is not a manger for slothful animals.
Look at the unworthy priests, contemplate these pretended servants of the altar! What do they say to your heart, these obese or cadaverous men with the lack-lustre eyes, and pinched or gaping mouths?[10]
Hear them talk: what does it teach you, their disagreeable and monotonous noise?
They pray as they sleep, and they sacrifice as they eat.
They are machines full of bread, meat and wine, and of senseless words.
And when they plume themselves, like the oyster in the sun, on being without thought and without love, one says that they have peace of soul!
They have the peace of the brute. For man, that of the tomb is better: these are the priests of folly and ignorance, these are the ministers of Antichrist.
The true priest of Christ is a man who lives, suffers, loves and fights for justice. He does not dispute, he does not reprove; he sends out pardon, intelligence and love.
The true Christian is a stranger to the sectarian spirit; he is all things to all men, and looks on all men as the children of a common father, who means to save them all. The whole cult has for him only a sense of sweetness and of love: he leaves to God the secrets of justice, and understands only charity.
He looks on the wicked as invalids whom one must pity and cure; the world, with its errors and vices, is to him God's hospital, and he wishes to serve in it.
He does not think that he is better than any one else; he says only, "So long as I am in good health, let me serve others; and when I must fall and die, perhaps others will take my place and serve."


This is the hermit of the Tarot; the number which refers to initiates and to prophets.
The prophets are solitaries, for it is their fate that none should ever hear them.
They see differently from others; they forefeel misfortunes. So, people imprison them and kill them, or mock them, repulse them as if they were lepers, and leave them to die of hunger.
Then, when the predictions come true, they say, "It is these people who have brought us misfortune."
Now, as is always the case on the eve of great disasters,[11] our streets are full of prophets.
I have met some of them in the prisons, I have seen others who were dying forgotten in garrets.
The whole great city has seen one of them whose silent prophecy was to turn ceaselessly as he walked, covered with rags, in the palace of luxury and riches.
I have seen one of them whose face shone like that of Christ: he had callosities on his hands, and wore the workman's blouse; with clay he kneaded epics. He twisted together the sword of right and the sceptre of duty; and upon this column of gold and steel he placed the creative sign of love.
One day, in a great popular assembly, he went down into the road with a piece of bread in his hand which he broke and distributed, saying: "Bread of God, do thou make bread for all!"
I know another of them who cried: "I will no longer adore the god of the devil! I will not have a hangman for my God!" And they thought that he blasphemed.
No; but the energy of his faith overflowed in inexact and imprudent words.
He said again in the madness of his wounded charity: "The liabilities of all men are common, and they expiate each other's faults, as they make merit for each other by their virtues.
"The penalty of sin is death.
"Sin itself, moreover, is a penalty, and the greatest of penalties. A great crime is nothing but a great misfortune.
"The worst of men is he who thinks himself better than his follows.
"Passionate men are excusable, because they are passive; passion means suffering, and also redemption through sorrow.
"What we call liberty is nothing but the all-mightiness of divine compulsion. The martyrs said: 'It is better to obey God than man'."
"The least perfect act of love is worth more than the best act of piety."
"Judge not; speak hardly at all; love and act."
Another prophet came and said: "Protest against bad doctrines by good works, but do not separate yourselves.
"Rebuild all the altars, purify all the temples, and hold yourselves in readiness for the visit of the Spirit.
"Let every one pray in his own fashion, and hold communion with his own; but do not condemn others.
"A religious practice is never contemptible, for it is the sign of a great and holy thought.
"To pray together is to communicate in the same hope, the same faith,and the same charity.
"The sign by itself is nothing; it is the faith which sanctifies it.
"Religion is the most sacred and the strongest bond of human association, and to perform an act of religion is to perform an act of humanity."
When men understand at last that one must not dispute about things about which one is ignorant,
When they feel that a little charity is worth more than much influence and domination,
When the whole world respects what even God respects in the least of His creatures, the spontaneity of obedience and the liberty of duty,
Then there will be no more than one religion in the world, the Christian and universal religion, the true Catholic religion, which will no longer deny itself by restrictions of place and of persons.
"Woman," said the Saviour to the woman of Samaria, "Verily I say unto thee, that the time cometh when men shall no longer worship God, either in Jerusalem, or on this mountain; for God is a spirit,[12] and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."


The key of the Sephiroth. (Vide Dogme et rituel de la haute magie.)


Eleven is the number of force; it is that of strife and martyrdom.
Every man who dies for an idea is a martyr, for in him the aspirations of the spirit have triumphed over the fears of the animal.
Every man who falls in war is a martyr, for he dies for others.
Every man who dies of starvation is a martyr, for he is like a soldier struck down in the battle of life.
Those who die in defence of right are as holy in their sacrifice as the victims of duty, and in the great struggles and revolutions against power, martyrs fell equally on both sides.
Right being the root of duty, our duty is to defend our rights.
What is a crime? The exaggeration of a right. Murder and theft are negations of society; it is the isolated despotism of an individual who usurps royalty, and makes war at his own risk and peril.
Crime should doubtless be repressed, and society must defend itself; but who is so just, so great, so pure, as to pretend that he has the right to punish?
Peace then to all who fall in war, even in unlawful war! For they have staked their heads and they have lost them; they have paid, and what more can we ask of them?
Honour to all those who fight bravely and loyally! Shame only on the traitors and cowards!
Christ died between two thieves, and He took one of them with Him to heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
God bestows His almighty power on love. He loves to triumph over hate, but the lukewarm He spueth forth from His mouth.
Duty is to live, were it but for an instant!
It is fine to have reigned for a day, even for an hour! though it were beneath the sword of Damocles, or upon the pyre of Sardanapalus!
But it is finer to have seen at one's feet all the crowns of the world, and to have said, "I will be the king of the poor, and my throne shall be on Calvary."
There is one man stronger than the man that slays; it is he who dies to save others.
There are no isolated crimes and no solitary expiations.
There are no personal virtues, nor are there any wasted devotions.
Whoever is not without reproach is the accomplice of all evil; and whoever is not absolutely perverse, may participate in all good.
For this reason an agony is always an humanitarian expiation, and every head that falls upon the scaffold may be honoured and praised as the head of a martyr.
For this reason also, the noblest and the holiest of martyrs could inquire of his own conscience, find himself deserving of the penalty that he was about to undergo, and say, saluting the sword that was ready to strike him, "Let justice be done!"
Pure victims of the Roman Catacombs, Jews and Protestants massacred by unworthy Christians!
Priests of l'Abbaye and les Carmes,[13] victims of the Reign of Terror, butchered royalists, revolutionaries sacrificed in your turn, soldiers of our great armies who have sown the world with your bones, all you who have suffered the penalty of death, workers, strivers, darers of every kind, brave children of Prometheus, who have feared neither the lightning nor the vulture, all honour to your scattered ashes! Peace and veneration to your memories! You are the heroes of progress, martyrs of humanity!


Twelve is the cyclic number; it is that of the universal Creed.
Here is a translation in alexandrines of the unrestricted magical and Catholic creed: —
I do believe in God, almighty sire of man.
One God, who did create the universe, his plan.
I do believe in Him, the Son, the chief of men,
Word and magnificence of the supreme Amen.
He is the living thought of Love's eternal might,
God manifest in flesh, the Action of the Light.
Desired in every place and every period,
But not a God that one may separate from God.
Descended among men to free the earth from fate,
He in His mother did the woman consecrate.
He was the man whom heaven's sweet wisdom did adorn;
To suffer and to die as men do He was born.
Proscribed by ignorance, accused by envy and strife,
He died upon the cross that He might give us life.
All who accept His aid to guide and to sustain
By His example may to God like Him attain.
He rose from death to reign throughout the ages' dance;
He is the sun that melts the clouds of ignorance.
His precepts, better known and mightier soon to be,
Shall judge the quick and dead for all eternity.
I do believe in God's most Holy Spirit, whose fire
The heart and mind of saints and prophets did inspire.
He is a Breath of life and of fecundity,
Proceeding both from God and from humanity.
I do believe in one most holy brotherhood
Of just men that revere heaven's ordinance of good.
I do believe one place, one pontiff, and one right,
One symbol of one God, in one intent unite.
I do believe that death by changing us renews,
And that in man as God life sheds immortal dews.


Thirteen is the number of death and of birth; it is that of property and of inheritance, of society and of family, of war and of treaties.
The basis of society is the exchange of right, duty and good faith.
Right is property, exchange is necessity, good faith is duty.
He who wants to receive more than he gives, or who wants to receive without giving, is a thief.
Property is the right to dispose of a portion of the common wealth; it is not the right to destroy, nor the right to sequestrate.
To destroy or sequestrate the common wealth is not to possess; it is to steal.
I say common wealth, because the true proprietor of all things is God, who wishes all things to belong to everybody. Whatever you may do, at your death you will carry away nothing of this world's goods. Now, that which must be taken away from you one day is not really yours. It has only been lent to you.
As to the usufruct, it is the result of work; but even work is not an assured guarantee of possession, and war may come with devastation and fire to displace property.
Make then good use of those things which perish, O you who will perish before they do!
Consider that egoism provokes egoism, and that the immorality of the rich man will answer for the crimes of the poor.
What does the poor man wish, if he is honest? He wishes for work.
Use your rights, but do your duty: the duty of the rich man is to spread wealth; wealth which does not circulate is dead; do not hoard death!
A sophist[14] has said, "Property is robbery," and he doubtless wished to speak of property absorbed in itself, withdrawn from free exchange, turned from common use.
If such were his thought, he might go further, and say that such a suppression of public life is indeed assassination.
It is the crime of monopoly, which public instinct has always looked upon as treason to the human race.
The family is a natural society which results from marriage.
Marriage is the union of two beings joined by love, who promise each other mutual devotion in the interest of the children who may be born.
Married persons who have a child, and who separate, are impious. Do they then wish to execute the judgment of Solomon and hew the child asunder?
To vow eternal love is puerile; sexual love is an emotion, divine doubtless, but accidental, involuntary and transitory; but the promise of reciprocal devotion is the essence of marriage and the fundamental principle of the family.
The sanction and the guarantee of this promise must then be an absolute confidence.
Every jealousy is a suspicion, and every suspicion is an outrage.
The real adultery is the breach of this trust: the woman who complains of her husband to another man; the man who confides to another woman the disappointments or the hopes of his heart, — these do, indeed, betray conjugal faith.
The surprises which one's senses spring upon one are only infidelities on account of the impulses of the heart which abandons itself more or less to the whispers of pleasure. Moreover, these are human faults for which one must blush, and which one ought to hide: they are indecencies which one must avoid in advance by removing opportunity, but which one must never seek to surprise: morality proscribes scandal.
Every scandal is a turpitude. One is not indecent because one possesses organs which modesty does not name, but one is obscene when one exhibits them.
Husbands, hide your domestic wounds; do not strip your wives naked before the laughter of the mob!
Women, do not advertise the discomforts of the conjugal bed: to do so is to write yourselves prostitutes in public opinion.
It needs a lofty degree of courage to keep conjugal faith; it is a pact of heroism of which only great souls can understand the whole extent.
Marriages which break are not marriages: they are couplings.
A woman who abandons her husband, what can she become? She is no more a wife, and she is not a widow; what is she then? She is an apostate from honour who is forced to be licentious because she is neither virgin nor free.
A husband who abandons his wife prostitutes her, and deserves the infamous name that one applies to the lovers of lost women.
Marriage is then sacred and indissoluble when it really exists.
But it cannot really exist, except for beings of a lofty intelligence and of a noble heart.
The animals do not marry, and men who live like animals undergo the fatalities of the brute nature.
They ceaselessly make unfortunate attempts to act reasonably. Their promises are attempts at and imitations of promises; their marriages, attempts at and imitations of marriage; their loves, attempts at and imitations of love. They always wish, and never will; they are always undertaking and never completing. For such people, only the repressive side of law applies.
Such beings may have a litter, but they never have a family: marriage and family are the rights of the perfect man, the emancipated man, the man who is intelligent and free.
Ask also the annals of the Courts, and read the history of parricides.
Raise the black veil from off all those chopped heads, and ask them what they thought of marriage and of the family, what milk they sucked, what caresses ennobled them. … Then shudder, all you who do not give to your children the bread of intelligence and of love, all you who do not sanction paternal authority by the virtue of a good example!
Those wretches were orphans in spirit and in heart, and they have avenged their birth.
We live in a century when more than ever the family is misunderstood in all that it possesses which partakes of the august and the sacred: material interest is killing intelligence and love; the lessons of experience are despised, the things of God are hawked about the street. The flesh insults the spirit, fraud laughs in the face of loyalty. No more idealism, no more justice: human life has murdered both its father and its mother.
Courage and patience! This century will go where great criminals should go. Look at it, how sad it is! Weariness is the black veil of its face … the tumbril rolls on, and the shuddering crown follows it…
Soon one more century will be judged by history, and one will write upon a mighty tomb of ruins:
"Here ends the parricide century! The century which murdered its God and its Christ!"
In war, one has the right to kill, in order not to die: but in the battle of life the most sublime of rights is that of dying in order not to kill.
Intelligence and love should resist oppression unto death — but never unto murder.
Brave man, the life of him who has offended you is in your hands; for he is master of the life of others who cares not for his own… Crush him beneath your greatness: pardon him!
"But is it forbidden to kill the tiger which threatens us?"
"If it is a tiger with a human face, it is finer to let him devour us, — yet, for all that, morality has here nothing to say."
"But if the tiger threatens my children?"
"Let Nature herself reply to you!"
Harmodius and Aristogiton had festivals and statues in Ancient Greece. The Bible has consecrated the names of Judith and Ehud, and one of the most sublime figures of the Holy Book is that of Samson, blind and chained, pulling down the columns of the temple, as he cried: "Let me die with the Philistines!"
And yet, do you think that, if Jesus, before dying, had gone to Rome to plunge his dagger in the heart of Tiberius, He would have saved the world, as He did, in forgiving His executioners, and in dying for even Tiberius?
Did Brutus save Roman liberty by killing Caesar? In killing Caligula, Chaerea only made place for Claudius and Nero. To protest against violence by violence, is to justify it, and to force it to reproduce itself.
But to triumph over evil by good, over selfishness by selfabnegation, over ferocity by pardon, that is the secret of Christianity, and it is that of eternal victory.
I have seen the place where the earth still bled from the murder of Abel, and on that place there ran a brook of tears.
Under the guidance of the centuries, myriads of men moved on, letting fall their tears into the brook.
And Eternity, crouching mournful, gazed upon the tears which fell; she counted them one by one, and there were never enough to them to wash away one stain of blood.
But between two multitudes and two ages came the Christ, a pale and radiant figure.
And in the earth of blood and tears, He planted the vine of fraternity; and the tears and the blood, sucked up by the roots of the divine tree, became the delicious sap of the grape, which is destined to intoxicate with love the children of the future.


Fourteen is the number of fusion, of association, and of universal unity, and it is in the name of what it represents that we shall here make an appeal to the nations, beginning with the most ancient and the most holy.
Children of Israel, why, in the midst of the movement of the nations, do you rest immobile, guardians of the tombs of your fathers?
Your fathers are not here, they are risen: for the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, is not the God of the dead!
Why do you always impress upon your offspring the bloody sigil of the knife?
God no longer wishes to separate you from other men; be our brethren, and eat with us the consecrated Bread of peace on altars that blood stains never.
The law of Moses is accomplished: read your books and understand that you have been a blind and hard-hearted race, even as all your prophets said to you.
You have also been a courageous race, a race that persevered in strife.
Children of Israel, become the children of God: Understand and love!
God has wiped from your forehead the brand of Cain, and the peoples seeing you pass will no longer say, "There go the Jews!" They will cry, "Room for our brethren! Room for our elders in the Faith!"
And we shall go every year to eat the passover with you in the city of the New Jerusalem.
And we shall take our rest under your vine and under your fig-tree; for you will be once more the friend of the traveller, in memory of Abraham, of Tobias, and of the angels who visited them.
And in memory of Him who said: "He who receiveth the least of these My little ones, receiveth Me."
For then you will no longer refuse an asylum in your house and in your heart to your brother Joseph, whom you sold to the Gentiles.
Because he has become powerful in the land of Egypt where you sought bread in the days of famine.
And he has remembered his father Jacob, and Benjamin his young brother, and he pardons you your jealousy, and embraces you with tears.
Children of true believers, we will sing with you: "There is no God but God, and Mohammed is His prophet!"
Say with the children of Israel: "There is no God but God, and Moses is His prophet!"
Say with the Christians: "There is no God but God, and Jesus Christ is His prophet!"
Mohammed is the shadow of Moses. Moses is the forerunner of Jesus.
What is a prophet? A representative of humanity seeking God. God is God, and man is the prophet of God, when he causes us to believe in God.
The Old Testament, the Qur'an, and the Gospel are three different translations of the same book. As God is one, so also is the law.
O ideal woman! O reward of the elect! Art thou more beautiful than Mary?
O Mary, daughter of the East! caste as pure love, great as the desire of motherhood, come and teach the children of Islam the mysteries of Paradise, and the secrets of beauty!
Invite them to the festival of the new alliance! There, upon three thrones glittering with precious stones, three prophets will be seated.
The tuba tree will make, with its back-curving branches, a dais for the celestial table.
The bride will be white as the moon, and scarlet as the smile of morning.
All nations shall press forward to see her, and they will no longer fear to pass AL Sirah; for, on that razor-edged bridge, the Saviour will stretch His cross, and come to stretch His hand to those who stumble, and to those who have fallen the bride will stretch her perfumed veil, and draw them to her.
O ye people, clap your hands, and praise the last triumph of love! Death alone will remain dead, and hell alone will be consumed!
O nations of Europe, to whom the East stretches forth its hands, unite and push back the northern bear![15] Let the last war bring the triumph of intelligence and love, let commerce interlace the arms of the world, and a new civilization, sprung from the armed Gospel, unite all the flocks of the earth under the crook of the same shepherd!
Such will be the conquests of progress, such is the end towards which the whole movement of the world is pushing us.
Progress is movement, and movement is life.
To deny progress is to affirm nothingness, and to deify death.
Progress is the only reply that reason can give to the objections which the existence of evil raises.
All is not well, but all will be well one day. God begins His work, and He will finish it.
Without progress, evil would be immutable like God.
Progress explains ruins, and consoles the weeping of Jeremiah.
Nations succeed each other like men; and nothing is stable, because everything is marching towards perfection.
The great man who dies bequeathes to his country the fruit of his works; the great nation which becomes extinguished upon earth transforms itself into a star to enlighten the obscurities of History.
What it has written by its actions remains graven in the eternal book; it has added a page to the Bible of the human race.
Do not say that civilization is bad; for it resembles the damp heat which ripens the harvest, it rapidly develops the principles of life and the principles of death, it kills and it vivifies.
It is like the angel of the judgment who separates the wicked from the good.
Civilization transforms men of good will into angels of light, and lowers the selfish man beneath the brute; it is the corruption of bodies and the emancipation of souls.
The impious world of the giants raised to Heaven the soul of Enoch; above the Bacchanals of primitive Greece rises the harmonious spirit of Orpheus.
Socrates and Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle, resume, in explaining them, all the aspirations and all the glories of the ancient world; the fables of Homer remain truer than history, and nothing remains to us of the grandeur of Rome but the immortal writings which the century of Augustus brought forth.
Thus, perhaps, Rome only shook the world with the convulsions of war, in order to bring forth Vergil.
Christianity is the fruit of the meditations of all the sages of the East, who live again in Jesus Christ.
Thus the light of the spirits has risen where the sun of the world rises; Christ conquered the West, and the soft rays of the sun of Asia have touched the icicles of the North.
Stirred by this unknown heat, ant-heaps of new men have spread over a worn-out world; the souls of dead people have shone upon rejuvenated races, and enlarged in them the spirit of life.
There is in the world a nation which calls itself frankness and freedom, for these two words are synonymous with the name of France.
This nation has always been in some ways more Catholic than the Pope, and more Protestant than Luther.
The France of the Crusades, the France of the Troubadours, the France of songs, the France of Rabelais and of Voltaire, the France of Bossuet and of Pascal, it is she who is the synthesis of all peoples: it is she who consecrates the alliance of reason and of faith, of revolution and of power, of the most tender belief and of the proudest human dignity.
And, see how she marches, how she swings herself, how she struggles, how she grows great!
Often deceived and wounded, never cast down, enthusiastic over her triumphs, daring in her adversities, she laughs, she sings, she dies, and she teaches the world faith in immortality.
The old guard does not surrender, but neither does it die! The proof of it is the enthusiasm of our children, who mean, one day, to be also soldiers of the old guard!
Napoleon is no more a man: he is the very genius of France, he is the second saviour of the world, and he also gave for a sign the cross to his apostles.
St. Helena and Golgotha are the beacons of the new civilization; they are the two piles of an immerse bridge made by the rainbow of the final deluge, and which throws a bridge between the two worlds.
And can you believe that a past without aureole and without glory, might capture and devour so great a future?
Could you think that the spur of a Tartar might one day tear up the pact of our glories, the testament of our liberties?
Say rather that we may again become children, and enter again into our mother's womb!
"Go on! Go on!" said the voice of God to the wandering Jew. "Advance! Advance!" the destiny of the world cries out to France. And where do we go? To the unknown, the the abyss perhaps; no matter! But to the past, to the cemeteries of oblivion, to the swaddling-clothes which our childhood itself tore in shreds, towards the imbecility and ignorance of the earliest ages … never! never!


Fifteen is the number of antagonism, and of catholicity.
Christianity is at present divided into two churches: the civilizing church, and the savage church; the progressive church, and the stationary church.
One is active, the other is passive: one has mastered the nations and governs them always, since kings fear it; the other has submitted to every despotism, and can be nothing but an instrument of slavery.
The active church realizes God for men, and alone believes in the divinity of the human Word, as an interpreter of that of God.
What after all is the infallibility of the Pope, but the autocracy of intelligence, confirmed by the universal vote of faith?
In this case, one might say, the Pope ought to be the first genius of his century. Why? It is more proper, in reality, that he should be an average man. His supremacy is only more divine for that, because it is in a way more human.
Do not events speak louder than rancours and irreligious ignorances? Do not you see Catholic France sustaining with one hand the tottering papacy, and with the other holding the sword to fight at the head of the army of progress?
Catholics, Jews, Turks, Protestants, already fight under the same banner; the crescent has rallied to the Latin cross, and altogether we struggle against the invasion of the barbarians, and their brutalizing orthodoxy.
It is for ever an accomplished fact. In admitting new dogmas, the chair of St. Peter has solemnly proclaimed itself progressive.
The fatherland of Catholic Christianity is that of the sciences and of the fine arts; and the eternal Word of the Gospel, living and incarnate in a visible authority, is still the light of the world.
Silence, then, to the Pharisees of the new synagogue! Silence to the hateful traditions of the Schools, to the arrogance of Presbyterianism, to the absurdity of Jansenism, and to all those shameful and superstitious interpretations of the eternal dogma, so justly stigmatized by the pitiless genius of Voltaire!
Voltaire and Napoleon died Catholics.[16] And do you know what the Catholicism of the future must be?
It will be the dogma of the Gospel, tried like gold by the critical acid of Voltaire, and realized, in the kingdom of the world, by the genius of the Christian Napoleon.
Those who will not march will be dragged or trampled by events.
Immense calamities may again hang over the world. The armies of the Apocalypse may, perhaps, one day, unchain the four scourges. The sanctuary will be cleansed. Rigid and holy poverty will send forth its apostles to uphold what staggers, lift up again what is broken, and anoint all wounds with sacred oils.
Those two blood-hungered monsters, despotism and anarchy, will tear themselves to pieces, and annihilate each other, after having mutually sustained each other for a little while, by the embrace of their struggle itself.
And the government of the future will be that whose model is shown to us in nature, by the family, and in the religious world by the pastoral hierarchy. The elect shall reign with Jesus Christ during a thousand years, say the apostolic traditions: that is to say, that during a series of centuries, the intelligence and love of chosen men, devoted to the burden of power, will administer the interests and the wealth of the universal family.
At that day, according to the promise of the Gospel, there will be no more than one flock and one shepherd.


Sixteen is the number of the temple.
Let us say what the temple of the future will be!
When the spirit of intelligence and love shall have revealed itself, the whole trinity will manifest itself in its truth and in its glory.
Humanity, become a queen, and, as it were, risen from the dead, will have the grace of childhood in its poesy, the vigour of youth in its reason, and the wisdom of ripe age in its works.
All those forms, which the divine thought has successively clothed, will be born again, immortal and perfect.
All those features which the art of successive nations has sketched will unite themselves, and form the complete image of God.
Jerusalem will rebuild the Temple of Jehovah on the model prophesied by Ezekiel; and the Christ, new and eternal Solomon, will chant, beneath roofs of cedar and of cypress, the Epithalamium of his marriage with holy liberty, the holy bride of the Song of Songs.
But Jehovah will have laid aside his thunderbolts, to bless with both hands the bridegroom and the bride; he will appear smiling between them, and take pleasure in being called father.
However, the poetry of the East, in its magical souvenirs, will call him still Brahma, and Jupiter. India will teach our enchanted climates the marvellous fables of Vishnu, and we shall place upon the still bleeding forehead of our well-beloved Christ the triple crown of pearls of the mystical Trimurti. From that time, Venus, purified under the veil of Mary, will no more weep for her Adonis.
The bridegroom is risen to die no more, and the infernal boar has found death in its momentary victory.
Lift yourselves up again, O Temples of Delphi and of Ephesus! The God of Light and of Art is become the God of the world, and the Word of God is indeed willing to be called Apollo! Diana will no more reign widowed in the lonely fields of night; her silvern crescent is now beneath the feet of the bride.
But Diana is not conquered by Venus; her Endymion has wakened, and virginity is about to take pride in motherhood!
Quit the tomb, O Phidias, and rejoice in the destruction of thy first Jupiter: it is now that thou wilt conceive a God!
O Rome, let thy temples rise again, side by side with thy basilicas: be once more the Queen of the World, and the Pantheon of the nations; let Vergil be crowned on the Capitol by the hand of St. Peter; and let Olympus and Carmel unite their divinities beneath the brush of Raphael!
Transfigure yourselves, ancient cathedrals of our fathers; dart forth into the clouds your chiselled and living arrows, and let stone record in animated figures the dark legends of the North, brightened by the marvellous gilded apologues of the Qur'an!
Let the East adore Jesus Christ in its mosques, and on the minarets of a new Santa Sophia let the cross rise in the midst of the crescent![17]
Let Mohammed set woman free to give to the true believer the houris which he has so long dreamt of, and let the martyrs of the Saviour teach chaste caresses to the beautiful angels of Mohammed!
The whole earth, reclothed with the rich adornments which all the arts have embroidered for her, will no longer be anything but a magnificent temple, of which man shall be the eternal priest.
All that was true, all that was beautiful, all that was sweet in the past centuries, will live once more glorified in this transfiguration of the world.
And the beautiful form will remain inseparable from the true idea, as the body will one day be inseparable from the soul, when the soul, come to its own power, will have made itself a body in its own image.
That will be the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth, and the body will be the temple of the soul, as the regenerated universe will be the body of God.
And bodies and souls, and form and thought, and the whole universe, will be the light, the word, and the permanent and visible revelation of God. Amen. So be it.


Seventeen is the number of the star; it is that of intelligence and love.
Warrior and bold intelligence, accomplice of divine Prometheus, eldest daughter of Lucifer, hail unto thee in thine audacity! Thou didst wish to know, and in order to possess, thou didst brave all the thunders, and affronted every abyss!
Intelligence, O Thou, whom we poor sinners have loved to madness, to scandal, to reprobation! Divine right of man, essence and soul of liberty, hail unto thee! For they have pursued thee, in trampling beneath their feet for thee the dearest dreams of their imagination, the best beloved phantoms of their heart!
For thee, they have been repulsed and proscribed, for thee they have suffered prison, nakedness, hunger, thirst, the desertion of those whom they loved, and the dark temptations of despair! Thou wast their right, and they have conquered thee! Now they can weep and believe, now they can submit themselves and pray!
Repentant Cain would have been greater than Abel: it is lawful pride satisfied which has the right to humiliate itself!
I believe because I know why and how one must believe; I believe because I love, and fear no more.
Love! Love! Sublime redeemer and sublime restorer; thou who makest so much happiness, with so many tortures, thou who didst sacrifice blood and tears, thou who art virtue itself, and the reward of virtue; force of resignation, belief of obedience, joy of sorrow, life of death, hail! Salutation and glory to thee! If intelligence is a lamp, thou art its flame; if it is right, thou art duty; if it is nobility, thou art happiness. Love, full of pride and modesty in thy mysteries, divine love, hidden love, love insensate and sublime, Titan who takest Heaven in both hands, and forcest it to earth, final and ineffable secret of Christian widowhood, love eternal, love infinite, ideal which would suffice to create worlds; love! love! blessing and glory to thee! Glory to the intelligences which veil themselves that they may not offend weak eyes! Glory to right which transforms itself wholly into duty, and which becomes devotion! To the widowed souls who love, and burn up without being loved! To those who suffer, and make none other suffer, to those who forgive the ungrateful, to those who love their enemies! Oh, happy evermore, happy beyond all, are those who embrace poverty, who have drained themselves to the dregs, to give! Happy are the souls who for ever make thy peace! Happy the pure and the simple hearts that never think themselves better than others! Humanity, my mother, humanity daughter and mother of God, humanity conceived without sin, universal Church, Mary! Happy is he who has dared all to know thee and to understand thee, and who is ready to suffer all once more, in order to serve thee and to love thee!


This number is that of religious dogma, which is all poetry and all mystery.
The Gospel says that at the death of the Saviour the veil of the Temple was rent, because that death manifested the triumph of devotion, the miracle of charity, the power of God in man, divine humanity, and human divinity, the highest and most sublime of Arcana, the last word of all initiations.
But the Saviour knew that at first men would not understand him, and he said: "You will not be able to bear at present the full light of my doctrine; but, when the Spirit of Truth shall manifest himself, he will teach you all truth, and he will cause you to understand the sense of what I have said unto you."
Now the Spirit of Truth is the spirit of science and intelligence, the spirit of force and of counsel.
It is that spirit which solemnly manifested itself in the Roman Church, when it declared in the four articles of its decree of the 12th December, 1845:

1 Decree. — That if faith is superior to reason, reason ought to endorse the inspirations of faith;

2 Decree. — That faith and science have each their separate domain, and that the one should not usurp the functions of the other;

3 Decree. — That it is proper for faith and grace, not to weaken, but on the contrary to strengthen and develop reason;

4 Decree. — That the concourse of reason, which examines, not the decisions of faith, but the natural and rational bases of the authority which decides them, far from injuring faith, can only be useful to it; in other words, that a faith, perfectly reasonable in its principles, should not fear, but should, on the contrary, desire the sincere examination of reason.

Such a decree is the accomplishment of a complete religious revolution, it is the inauguration of the reign of the Holy Ghost upon the earth.


It is the number of light.
It is the existence of God proved by the very idea of God.
Either one must say that Being is the universal tomb where, by an automatic movement, stirs a form for ever dead and corpse-like, or one must admit the absolute principle of intelligence and of life.
Is the universal light dead or alive? Is it vowed fatally to the work of destruction, or providentially directed to an immortal birth?
If there be no God, intelligence is only a deception, for it fails to be the absolute, and its ideal is a lie.
Without God, being is a nothingness affirming itself, life a death in disguise, and light a night for ever deceived by the mirage of dreams.
The first and most essential act of faith is then this.
Being exists; and the Being of beings, the Truth of being, is God.
Being is alive with intelligence, and the living intelligence of absolute being is God.
Light is real and life-giving; now, the reality and life of all light is God.
The word of universal reason is an affirmation and not a negation.
How blind are they who do not see that physical light is nothing but the instrument of thought!
Thought alone, then, reveals light, and creates it in using it for its own purposes.
The affirmation of atheism is the dogma of eternal night: the affirmation of God is the dogma of light!
We stop here at the number Nineteen, although the sacred alphabet has twenty-two letters; but the first nineteen are the keys of occult theology. The others are the keys of Nature; we shall return to them in the third part of this work.
Let us resume what we have said concerning God, by quoting a fine invocation borrowed from the Jewish liturgy. It is a page from the qabalistic poem Kether-Malkuth, by Rabbi Solomon, son of Gabirol:
"Thou art one, the beginning of all numbers, and the foundation of all buildings; thou art one, and in the secret of thy unity the most wise of men are lost, because they know it not. Thou art one, and thy unity neither wanes nor waxes, neither suffers any change. Thou art one, and yet not the one of the mathematician, for thy unity admits neither multiplication, nor change, nor form. Thou art one, and not one of mine imaginations can fix a limit for thee, or give a definition of thee; therefore will I take heed to my ways, lest I offend with my tongue. Thou art one indeed, whose excellence is so lofty, that it may in no wise fall, by no means like that one which may cease to be.
"Thou art the existing one; nevertheless, the understanding and the sight of mortals cannot attain thine existence, nor place in thee the where, the how, the why. Thou art the existing one, but in thyself, since no other can exist beside thee. Thou art the existing one, before time, and beyond space. Thou art indeed the existing one, and thine existence is so hidden, and so deep, that none can discover it, or penetrate its secret.
"Thou art the living one, but not in fixed and known time; thou art the living one, but not by spirit or by soul; for thou art the Soul of all souls. Thou art the living one; but not living with the life of mortals, that is, like a breath, and whose end is to give food to worms. Thou art the living one, and he that can attain thy mysteries will enjoy eternal delight and live for ever.
"Thou art great; before thy greatness all other greatness bows, and all that is most excellent becomes imperfect. Thou art great above all imagination, and thou art exalted above all the hierarchies of Heaven. Thou art great above all greatness, and thou art exalted above all praise. Thou art strong, and not one among thy creatures can do the works that thou dost, nor can his force be compared with thine. Thou art strong, and it is to thee that belongs that strength invincible which changes not and decays never. Thou art strong; by thy loving-kindness thou dost forgive in the moment of thy most burning wrath, and thou showest thyself long-suffering to sinners. Thou art strong, and thy mercies, existing from all time, are upon all thy creatures. Thou art the eternal light, that pure souls shall see, and that the cloud of sins will hide from the eyes of sinners. Thou art the light which is hidden in this world, and visible in the other, where the glory of the Lord is shown forth. Thou art Sovereign, and the eyes of understanding which desire to see thee are all amazed, for they can attain but part of it, never the whole. Thou art the God of gods, and all thy creatures bear witness to it; and in honour of this great name they owe thee all their worship. Thou art God, and all created beings are thy servants and thy worshippers: thy glory is not tarnished, although men worship other gods, because their intention is to address themselves to thee; they are like blind men, who wish to follow the straight road, but stray; one falls into a well, the other into a ditch; all think that they are come to their desire, yet they have wearied themselves in vain. But thy servants are like men of clear sight travelling upon the highroad; never do they stray from it, either to the right hand or the left, until they are entered into the court of the king's palace. Thou art God, who by thy godhead sustainest all beings, and by thy unity dost being home all creatures. Thou art God, and there is no difference between thy deity, thy unity, thy eternity, and thy existence; for all is one and the same mystery; although names vary, all returns to the same truth. Thou art the knower, and that intelligence which is the source of life emanates from thyself; and beside thy knowledge all the wisest men are fools. Thou art the knower, and the ancient of the ancient ones, and knowledge has ever fed from thee. Thou art the knower, and thou hast learned thy knowledge from none, nor hast acquired it but from thyself. Thou art the knower, and like a workman and an architect thou hast taken from thy knowledge a divine will, at an appointed time, to draw being from nothing; so that the light which falls from the eyes is drawn from its own centre without any instrument or tool. This divine will has hollowed, designed, purified and moulded; it has ordered Nothingness to open itself, Being to shut up, and the world to spread itself. It has spanned the heavens, and assembled with its power the tabernacle of the spheres, with the cords of its might it has bound the curtains of the creatures of the universe, and touching with its strength the edge of the curtain of creation, has joined that which is above to that which was below." — (Prayers of Kippour.)
We have given to these bold qabalistic speculations the only form which suits them, that is, poesy, or the inspiration of the heart.
Believing souls will have no need of the rational hypotheses contained in this new explanation of the figures of the Bible; but those sincere hearts afflicted by doubt, which are tortured by eighteenth-century criticism, will understand in reading it that even reason without faith can find in the Holy Book something besides stumbling-blocks; if the veils with which the divine text is covered throw a great shadow, this shadow is so marvellously designed by the interplay of light that it becomes the sole intelligible image of the divine ideal.
Ideal, incomprehensible as infinity, and indispensable as the very essence of mystery!

Article II

Solution of the Second Problem


Religion exists in humanity, like love.
Like it, it is unique.
Like it, it either exists, or does not exist, in such and such a soul; but, whether one accepts it or denies it, it is in humanity; it is, then, in life, it is in nature itself; it is an incontestable fact of science, and even of reason.
The true religion is that which has always existed, which exists to-day, and will exist for ever.
Some one may say that religion is this or that; religion is what it is. This is the true religion, and the false religions are superstitions imitated from her, borrowed from her, lying shadows of herself!
One may say of religion what one says of true art. Savage attempts at painting or sculpture are the attempts of ignorance to arrive at the truth. Art proves itself by itself, is radiant with its own splendour, is unique and eternal like beauty.
The true religion is beautiful, and it is by that divine character that it imposes itself on the respect of science, and obtains the assent of reason.
Science dare not affirm or deny those dogmatic hypotheses which are truths for faith; but it must recognize by unmistakable characters the one true religion, that is to say, that which alone merits the name of religion in that it unites all the characters which agree with that great and universal aspiration of the human soul.
One only thing, which is to all most evidently divine, is manifested in the world.
It is charity.
The work of true religion should be to produce, to preserve, and to spread abroad the spirit of charity.
To arrive at this end she must herself possess all the characteristics of charity, in such a manner that one could define her satisfactorily, in naming her, "Organic Charity."
Now, what are the characteristics of charity?
It is St. Paul who will tell us.
Charity is patient.
Patient like God, because it is eternal as He is. It suffers persecutions, and never persecutes others.
It is kindly and loving, calling to itself the little, and not repulsing the great.
It is without jealousy. Of whom, and of what, should it be jealous? Has it not that better part which shall not be taken away from it?
It is neither quarrelsome nor intriguing.
It is without pride, without ambition, without selfishness, without anger.
It never thinks evil, and never triumphs by injustice; for all its joy is comprehended in truth.
It endures everything, without ever tolerating evil.
It believes all; its faith is simple, submissive, hierarchical, and universal.
It sustains all, and never imposes burdens which it is not itself the first to carry.

Image 3

Religion is patient — the religion of great thinkers and of martyrs.
It is benevolent like Christ and the apostles, like Vincent de Paul, and like Fenelon.
It envies not either the dignities or the goods of the earth. It is the religion of the fathers of the desert, of St. Francis, and of St. Bruno, of the Sisters of Charity, and of the Brothers of Saint-Jean-de- Dieu.
It is neither quarrelsome nor intriguing. It prays, does good, and waits.
It is humble, it is sweet-tempered, it inspires only devotion and sacrifice. It has, in short, all the characteristics of Charity because it is Charity itself.
Men, on the contrary, are impatient, persecutors, jealous, cruel, ambitious, unjust, and they show themselves as such, even in the name of that religion which they have succeeded in calumniating, but which they will never cause to life. Men pass away, but truth is eternal.
Daughter of Charity, and creator of Charity in her own turn, true religion is essentially that which realizes; she believes in the miracles of faith, because she herself accomplishes them every day when she practises charity. Now, a religion which practises charity may flatter herself that she realizes all the dreams of divine love. Moreover, the faith of the hierarchical church transforms mysticism into realism by the efficacy of her sacraments. No more signs, no more figures whose strength is not in grace, and which do not really give what they promise! Faith animates all, makes all in some sort visible and palpable; even the parables of Jesus Christ take a body and a soul. They show, at Jerusalem, the house of the wicked rich man!! The thin symbolisms of the primitive religions overturned by science, and deprived of the life of faith, resemble those whitened bones which covered the field that Ezekiel saw in his vision. The Spirit of the Saviour, the spirit of faith, the spirit of charity, has breathed upon this dust; and all that which was dead has taken life again so really that one recognizes no more yesterday's corpses in these living creatures of to-day. And why should one recognize them, since the world is renewed, since St. Paul burned at Ephesus the books of the hierophants? Was then St. Paul a barbarian, and was he committing a crime against science? No, but he burned the winding-sheets of the resuscitated that they might forget death. Why, then, do we to-day recall the qabalistic origins of dogma? Why do we join again the figures of the Bible to the allegories of Hermes? Is it to condemn St. Paul, is it to bring doubt to believers? No, indeed, for believers have no need of our book; they will not read it, and they will not wish to understand it. But we wish to show to the innumerable crowd of those who doubt, that faith is attached to the reason of all the centuries, to the science of all the sages. We wish to force human liberty to respect divine authority, reason to recognize the bases of faith, so that faith and authority, in their turn, may never again proscribe liberty and reason.

Article III

Solution of the Third Problem


Faith being the aspiration to the unknown, the object of faith is absolutely and necessarily this one thing — Mystery.
In order to formulate its aspirations, faith is forced to borrow aspirations and images from the known.
But she specializes the employment of these forms, by placing them together in a manner which, in the known order of things, is impossible. Such is the profound reason of the apparent absurdity of symbolism.
Let us give an example:
If faith said that God was impersonal, one might conclude that God is only a word, or, at most, a thing.
If it is said that God was a person, one would represent to oneself the intelligent infinite, under the necessarily bounded form of an individual.
It says, "God is one in three persons," in order to express that one conceives in God both unity and multiplicity.
The formula of a mystery excludes necessarily the very intelligence of that formula, so far as it is borrowed from the world of known things; for, if one understood it, it would express the known and not the unknown.
It would then belong to science, and no longer to religion, that is to say, to faith.
The object of faith is a mathematical problem, whose x escapes the procedures of our algebra.
Absolute mathematics prove only the necessity, and, in consequence, the existence of this unknown which we represent by the untranslatable "x."
Now science progresses in vain; its progress is indefinite, but always relatively finite; it will never find in the language of the finite the complete expression of the infinite. Mystery is therefore eternal.
To bring into the logic of the known the terms of a profession of faith is to withdraw them from faith, which has for positive bases anti-logic, that is to say, the impossibility of logically explaining the unknown.
For the Jew, God is separate from humanity; He does not live in His creatures, He is infinite egoism.
For the Mussulman, God is a word before which one prostrates oneself, on the authority of Mohammed.
For the Christian, God has revealed himself in humanity, proves Himself by charity, and reigns by virtue of the order which constitutes the hierarchy.
The hierarchy is the guardian of dogma, for whose letter and spirit she alike demands respect. The sectarians who, in the name of their reason or, rather, of their individual unreason, have laid hands on dogma, have, in the very act, lost the spirit of charity; they have excommunicated themselves.
The Catholic, that is to say the universal, dogma merits that magnificent name by harmonizing in one all the religious aspirations of the world; with Moses and Mohammed, it affirms the unity of God; with Zoroaster, Hermes and Plato, it recognizes in Him the infinite trinity of its own regeneration; it reconciles the living numbers of Pythagoras with the monadic Word of St. John;[18] so much, science and reason will agree. It is then in the eyes of reason and of science themselves the most perfect, that is to say the most complete, dogma which has ever been produced in the world. Let science and reason grant us so much; we shall ask nothing more of them.
"God exists; there is only one God, and He punishes those who do evil," said Moses.
"God is everywhere; He is in us, and the good that we do to me we do it to God," said Jesus.
"Fear" is the conclusion of the dogma of Moses.
"Love" is the conclusion of the dogma of Jesus.
The typical ideal of the life of God in humanity is incarnation.
Incarnation necessitates redemption, and operates it in the name of the reversibility of solidarity,[19] or, in other words, of universal communion, the dogmatic principle of the spirit of charity.
To substitute human arbitrament for the legitimate despotism of the law, to put, in other words, tyranny in the place of authority, is the work of all Protestantism and of all democracies. What men call liberty is the sanction of illegitimate authority, or, rather, the fiction of power not sanctioned by authority.
John Calvin protested against the stakes of Rome, in order to give himself the right to burn Michael Servetus. Every people that liberates itself from a Charles I, or a Louis XVI, must undergo a Robespierre or a Cromwell and there is a more or less absurd anti-pope being all protestations against the legitimate papacy.
The divinity of Jesus Christ only exists in the Catholic Church, to which He transmits hierarchically His life and His divine powers. This divinity is sacerdotal and royal by virtue of communion; but outside of that communion, every affirmation of the divinity of Jesus Christ is idolatrous, because Jesus Christ could not be an isolated God.
The number of Protestants is of no importance to Catholic truth.
If all men were blind, would that be a reason for denying the existence of the sun?
Reason, in protesting against dogma, proves sufficiently that she has not invented it; but she is forced to admire the morality which results from that dogma. Now, if morality is a light, it follows that dogma must be a sun; light does not come from shadows.
Between the two abysses of polytheism, and an absurd and ignorant theism, there is only one possible medium: the mystery of the most Holy Trinity.
Between speculative theism, and anthropomorphiosm, there is only one possible medium: the mystery of incarnation.
Between immoral fatality, and Draconic responsibility, which would conclude the damnation of all beings, there is only one possible mean: the mystery of redemption.
The trinity is faith.
The incarnation is hope.
The redemption is charity.
The trinity is the hierarchy.
Incarnation is the divine authority of the Church.
Redemption is the unique, infallible, unfailing and Catholic priesthood.
The Catholic Church alone possesses an invariable dogma, and by its very constitution is incapable of corrupting morality; she does not make innovations, she explains. Thus, for example, the dogma of the immaculate conception is not new; it was contained in the theotokon of the Council of Ephesus, and the theotokon is a rigorous consequence of the Catholic dogma of the incarnation.
In the same way the Catholic Church makes no excommunications, she declares them; and she alone can declare them, because she alone is guardian of unity.
Outside the vessel of Peter, there is nothing but the abyss. Protestants are like people who have thrown themselves into the water in order to escape sea-sickness.
It is of Catholicity, such as it is constituted in the Roman Church, that one must say what Voltaire so boldly said of God: "If it did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it." But if a man had been capable of inventing the spirit of charity, he also would have invented God. Charity does not invent itself, it reveals itself by its works, and it is then that one can cry with the Saviour of the world: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!"
To understand the spirit of charity is to understand all mysteries.

Article IV

Solution of the Fourth Problem


The objections which one may make against religion may be made either in the name of science, or in the name of reason, or in the name of faith.
Science cannot deny the facts of the existence of religion, of its establishment and its influence upon the events of history.
It is forbidden to it to touch dogma; dogma belongs wholly to faith.
Science ordinarily arms itself against religion with a series of facts which it is her duty to appreciate, which, in fact, she does appreciate thoroughly, but which she condemns still more energetically than science does.
In doing that, science admits that religion is right, and herself wrong; she lacks logic, manifests the disorder which every angry passion introduces into the spirit of man, and admits the need that it has of being ceaselessly redressed and directed by the spirit of charity.
Reason, on its side, examines dogma and finds it absurd.
But, if it were not so, reason would understand it; if reason understood it, it would no longer be the formula of the unknown.
It would be a mathematical demonstration of the infinite.
It would be the infinite finite, the unknown known, the immeasurable measured, the indicible named.
That is to say that dogma could only cease to be absurd in the eyes of reason to become, in the eyes of faith, science, reason and good sense in one, the most monstrous and the most impossible of all absurdities.
Remain the objections of dissent.
The Jews, our fathers in religion, reproach us with having attacked the unity of God, with having changed the immutable and eternal law, with adoring the creature instead of the Creator.
These heavy reproaches are founded on their perfectly false notion of Christianity.
Our God is the God of Moses, unique, immaterial, infinite God, sole object of worship, and ever the same.
Like the Jews, we believe Him to be present everywhere, but, as they ought to do, we believe Him living, thinking and loving in humanity, and we adore Him in His works.
We have not changed His law, for the Jewish Decalogue is also the law of Christians.
The law is immutable because it is founded on the eternal principles of Nature; but the worship necessitated by the needs of man may change, and modify itself, parallel with the changes in men themselves.
This signifies that the worship itself is immutable, but modifies itself as language does.
Worship is a form of instruction; it is a language; one must translate it when nations no longer understand it.
We have translated, and not destroyed, the worship of Moses and of the prophets.
In adoring God in creation, we do not adore the creation itself.
In adoring God in Jesus Christ, it is God alone whom we adore, but God united to humanity.
In making humanity divine, Christianity has revealed the human divinity.
The God of the Jews was inhuman, because they did not understand Him in His works.
We are, then, more Israelite than the Israelites themselves. What they believe, we believe with them, and better than they do. They accuse us of having separated ourselves from them, and, on the contrary, it is they who wish to separate from us.
We wait for them, the heart and the arms wide open.
We are, as they are, the disciples of Moses.
Like them, we come from Egypt, and we detest its slavery. But we have entered into the Promised Land, and they obstinately abide and die in the desert.
Mohammedans are the bastards of Israel, or rather, they are his disinherited brothers, like Esau.
Their belief is illogical, for they admit that Jesus is a great prophet, and they treat Christians as infidels.
They recognize the Divine inspiration of Moses, yet they do not look upon the Jews as their brothers.
They believe blindly in their blind prophet, the fatalist Mohammed, the enemy of progress and of liberty.
Nevertheless, do not let us take away from Mohammed the glory of having proclaimed the unity of God among the idolatrous Arabs.
There are pure and sublime pages in the Qur'an.
In reading those pages, one may say with the children of Ishmael, "There is no other God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet."
There are three thrones in heaven for the three prophets of the nations; but, at the end of time, Mohammed will be replaced by Elias.
The Mussulmans do not reproach the Christians; they insult them.
They call them infidels and "giaours," that is to say, dogs. We have nothing to reply to them.
One must not refute the Turks and the Arabs; one must instruct and civilize them.
Remain dissident Christians, that is to say, those who, having broken the bond of unity, declare themselves strangers to the charity of the Church.
Greek orthodoxy, that twin of the Roman Church which has not grown greater since its separation, which counts no longer in religion, which, since Photius, has not inspired a single eloquence, is a church become entirely temporal, whose priesthood is no more than a function regulated by the imperial policy of the Tsar of All the Russias; a curious mummy of the primitive Church, still coloured and gilded with all its legends and all its rites, which its popes no longer understand; the shadow of a living church, but one which insisted on stopping when that church moved on, and which is now no more than its bloated-out and headless silhouette.
Then, the Protestants, those eternal regulators of anarchy, who have broken down dogma, and are trying always to fill the void with reasonings, like the sieve of the Danaides; these weavers of religious fantasy, all of whose innovations are negative, who have formulated for their own use an unknown calling itself better known, mysteries better explained, a more defined infinite, a more restrained immensity, a more doubting faith, those who have quintessentialized the absurd, divided charity, and taken acts of anarchy for the principles of an entirely impossible hierarchy; those men who wish to realize salvation by faith alone, because charity escapes them, and who can no longer realize it, even upon the earth, for their pretended sacraments are no longer anything but allegorical mummeries; they no longer give grace; they no longer make God seen and touched; they are no longer, in a word, the signs of the almighty power of faith, but the compelled witnesses of the eternal impotence of doubt.
It is, then, against faith itself that the Reformation protested! Protestants were right only in their protest against the inconsiderate and persecuting zeal which wished to force consciences. They claimed the right to doubt, the right to have less religion than others, or even to have none at all; they have shed their blood for that sad privilege; they conquered it, they possess it; but they will not take away from us that of pitying them and loving them. When the need to believe again takes them, when their heart revolts against the tyranny of a falsified reason when they become tired of the empty abstractions of their arbitrary dogma, of the vague observances of their ineffective worship; when their communion without the real presence, their churches without divinity, and their morality without grace finally frighten them; when they are sick with the nostalgia of God — will they not rise up like the prodigal son, and come to throw themselves at the feet of the successor of Peter, saying: "Father, we have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and we are no more worthy to be called thy sons, but count us among the humblest of thy servants"?
We will not speak of the criticism of Voltaire. That great mind was dominated by an ardent love of truth and justice, but he lacked that rectitude of heart which the intelligence of faith gives. Voltaire could not admit faith, because he did not know how to love. The spirit of charity did not reveal itself to that soul which had no tenderness, and he bitterly criticized the hearth of which he did not feel the warmth, and the lamp of which he did not see the light. If religion were such as he saw it, he would have been a thousand times right to attack it, and one would be obliged to fall on one's knees before the heroism of his courage. Voltaire would be the Messiah of good sense, the Hercules destructor of fanaticism. … But he laughed too much to understand Him who said: "Happy are they who weep," and the philosophy of laughter will never have anything in common with the religion of tears.
Voltaire parodied the Bible, dogma and worship; and then he mocked and insulted that parody.
Only those who recognize religion in Voltaire's parody can take offence at it. The Voltaireans are like the frogs in the fable who leap upon the log, and then make fun of royal majesty. They are at liberty to take the log for a king, they are at liberty to make once more that Roman caricature of which Tertullian once made mirth, that which represented the God of the Christians under the figure of a man with an ass's head. Christians will shrug their shoulders when they see this knavery, and pray God for the poor ignorants who imagine that they insult them.
M. the Count Joseph de Maistre, after having, in one of his most eloquent paradoxes, represented the hangman as a sacred being, and a permanent incarnation of divine justice upon earth, suggested that one should raise to the old man of Ferney a statue executed by the hangman. There is depth in this thought. Voltaire, in effect, also was, in the world, a being at the same time providential and fatal, endowed with insensibility for the accomplishment of his terrible functions. He was, in the domain of intelligence, a hangman, an extirminator armed by the justice of God Himself.
God sent Voltaire between the century of Bossuet and that of Napoleon in order to destroy everything that separates those two geniuses and to unite them in one alone.
He was the Samson of the spirit, always ready to shake the columns of the temple; but in order to make him turn in spite of himself the mill of religious progress, Providence made him blind of heart.

Article V

Solution of the Last Problem


Superstition, from the Latin word superstes, surviving, is the sign which survives the idea which it represents; it is the form preferred to the thing, the rite without reason, faith become insensate through isolating itself. It is in consequence the corpse of religion, the death of life, stupefaction substituted for inspiration.
Fanaticism is superstition become passionate, its name comes from the word fanum, which signifies "temple," it is the temple put in place of God, it is the human and temporal interest of the priest substituted for the honour of priesthood, the wretched passion of the man exploiting the faith of the believer.
In the fable of the ass loaded with relics, La Fontaine tells us that the animal thought that he was being adored; he did not tell us that certain people indeed thought that they were adoring the animal. These people were the superstitious.
If any one had laughed at their stupidity, he would very likely have been assassinated, for from superstition to fanaticism is only one step.
Superstition is religion interpreted by stupidity; fanaticism is religion serving as a pretext to fury.
Those who intentionally and maliciously confound religion itself with superstition and fanaticism, borrow from stupidity its blind prejudices, and would borrow perhaps in the same way from fanaticism its injustices and angers.
Inquisitors or Septembrisors,[20] what matter names? The religion of Jesus Christ condemns, and has always condemned, assassins.

Resume of the First Part

In the Form of a Dialogue


SCIENCE. You will never make me believe in the existence of God.
FAITH. You have not the privilege of believing, but you will never prove to me that God does not exist.
SCIENCE. In order to prove it to you, I must first know what God is.
FAITH. You will never know it. If you knew it, you could teach it to me; and when I knew it, I should no longer believe it.
SCIENCE. Do you then believe without knowing what you believe?
FAITH. Oh, do not let us play with words! It is you who do not know what I believe, and I believe it precisely because you do not know it. Do you pretend to be infinite? Are you not stopped at every step by mystery? Mystery is for you an infinite ignorance which would reduce to nothing your finite knowledge, if I did not illumine it with my burning aspirations; and if, when you say, "I no longer know," I did not cry, "As for me, I begin to believe."
SCIENCE. But your aspirations and their object are not (and cannot be for me) anything but hypotheses.
FAITH. Doubtless, but they are certainties for me, since without those hypotheses I should be doubtful even about your certainties.
SCIENCE. But if you begin where I stop, you begin always too rashly and too soon. My progress bears witness that I am ever advancing.
FAITH. What does your progress matter, if I am always walking in front of you?
SCIENCE. You, walking! Dreamer of eternity, you have disdained earth too much; your feet are benumbed.
FAITH. I make my children carry me.
SCIENCE. They are the blind carrying the blind; beware of precipices!
FAITH. No, my children are by no means blind; on the contrary, they enjoy twofold sight: they see, by thine eyes, what thou canst show them upon earth, and they contemplate, by mine, what I show them in Heaven.
SCIENCE. What does Reason think of it?
REASON. I think, my dear teachers, that you illustrate a touching fable, that of the blind man and the paralytic. Science reproaches Faith with not knowing how to walk upon the earth, and Faith says that Science sees nothing of her aspirations and of eternity in the sky. Instead of quarrelling, Science and Faith ought to unite; let Science carry Faith, and let Faith console Science by teaching her to hope and to love!
SCIENCE. It is a fine ideal, but Utopian. Faith will tell me absurdities. I prefer to walk without her.
FAITH. What do you call absurdities?
SCIENCE. I call absurdities propositions contrary to my demonstrations; as, for example, that three make one, that a God has become man, that is to say, that the Infinite has made itself finite, that the Eternal died, that God punished his innocent Son for the sin of guilty men. …
FAITH. Say no more about it. As enunciated by you, these propositions are in fact absurdities. Do you know what is the number of God, you who do not know God? Can you reason about the operations of the unknown? Can you understand the mysteries of charity? I must always be absurd for you; for, if you understood them, my affirmations would be absorbed by your theorems; I should be you, and you would be me; or, to put it better, I should no longer exist, and Reason, in the presence of the infinite, would halt, blinded for evermore by your doubts, which are as infinite as space.
SCIENCE. At least, you should never usurp my authority, or give me the lie in my own domains.
FAITH. I have never done so, and I could never do so.
SCIENCE. So! You have never believed, for example, that a virgin could become a mother, without ceasing to be a virgin, in the physical, natural, positive order of things, in spite of all the laws of Nature; you do not affirm that a piece of bread is not only a God, but a real human body with its bones and its veins, its organs, its blood; such, in short, that you make of your children who eat this bread a little race of cannibals.
FAITH. There is not a single Christian who would not be revolted by what you have just said. That sufficiently proves that they do not understand my teachings in this positive and gross sense. The supernatural which I affirm is above Nature, and consequently could never oppose itself to her; the words of Faith are understood only by Faith; Science has only to repeat them to pervert their proper sense. I employ these words because I have no others; but since you find my remarks absurd, you should conclude from that that I give to the same words a meaning which escapes you. When the Saviour revealed the dogma of the real presence, did he not say: "The flesh profiteth nothing, but my words are spirit and life." I do not give you the mystery of the incarnation for an anatomical phenomenon, nor that of transubstantiation for a chemical manipulation. By what right do you exclaim "Absurd!"? I do not reason about any of the things you know; by what right do you say that I talk unreasonably?
SCIENCE. I begin to understand you, or rather, I see that I shall never understand you. This being so, let us remain separate; I shall never have need of you.
FAITH. I am less proud, and I recognize that you may be useful to me perhaps. Perhaps, too, you will be very sad and very desperate without me, and I will not leave you unless Reason consents.
REASON. Be well 'ware of doing so! I am necessary to both of you. And I, what should I do without you? In order to be just, I need to know and to believe. But I must never confound what I know with what I believe. To know is to believe no longer; to believe is not to know as yet. The object of Science is the known; Faith does not occupy itself with that, and leaves it all to Science. The object of Faith is the unknown; Science may seek it, but not define it; she is then obliged, at least provisionally, to accept the definitions of Faith which it is impossible for her even to criticize. Only, if Science renounces Faith, she renounces hope and love, whose existence and necessity are as evident for Science as for Faith. Faith, as a psychological fact, pertains to the realm of Science; and Science, as the manifestation of the light of God within the human intelligence, pertains to the realm of Faith. Science and Faith must then admit each other, respect each other mutually, support each other, and bear each other aid in case of need, but without ever encroaching the one upon the other. The means of uniting them is — never to confound them. Never can there be contradiction between them, for although they use the same words,, they do not speak the same language.
FAITH. Oh, well, Sister Science; what do you say about it?
SCIENCE. I say that we are separated by a deplorable misunderstanding, and that henceforward we shall be able to walk together. But to which of your different creeds do you wish to attach me? Shall I be Jewish, Catholic, Mohammedan, or Protestant?
FAITH. You will remain Science, and you will be universal.
SCIENCE. That is to say, Catholic, if I understand you correctly. But what should I think of the different religions?
FAITH. Judge them by their works. Seek true Charity, and when you have found her, ask her to which religion she belongs.
SCIENCE. It is certainly not to that of the Inquisition, and of the authors of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.
FAITH. It is to that of St. John the Almoner, of St. Francois de Sales,[21] of St. Vincent de Paul, of Fenelon, and so many more.
SCIENCE. Admit that if religion has produced much good, she has also done much evil.
FAITH. When one kills in the name of the God who said, "Thou shalt not kill,"[22] when one persecutes in the name of Him who commands us to forgive our enemies, when one propagates darkness in the name of Him who tells us not to hide the light under a bushel, is it just to attribute the crime to the very law which condemns it? Say, if you wish to be just, that in spite of religion, much evil has been done upon earth. But also, to how many virtues has it not given birth? How many are the devotions, how many the sacrifices, of which we do not know! Have you counted those noble hearts, both men and women, who renounced all joys to enter the service of all sorrows? Those souls devoted to labour and to prayer, who have strewn their pathways with good deeds? Who founded asylums for orphans and old men, hospitals for the sick, retreats for the repentant? These institutions, as glorious as they are modest, are the real works with which the annals of the Church are filled; religious wars and the persecution of heretics belong to the politics of savage centuries. The heretics, moreover, were themselves murderers. Have you forgotten the burning of Michael Servetus and the massacre of our priests, renewed, still in the name of humanity and reason, by the revolutionaries who hated the Inquisition and the Massacre of St. Bartholomew? Men are always cruel, it is true, but only when they forget the religion whose watchwords are blessing and pardon.
SCIENCE. O Faith! Pardon me, then, if I cannot believe; but I know now why you believe. I respect your hopes, and share your desires. But I must find by seeking; and in order to seek, I must doubt.
REASON. Work, then, and seek, O Science, but respect the oracles of Faith! When your doubt leaves a gap in universal enlightenment, allow Faith to fill it! Walk distinguished the one from the other, but leaning the one upon the other, and you will never go astray.


Thanks be unto thee, O my God, that thou hast called me to this admirable light! Thou, the Supreme Intelligence and the Absolute Life of those numbers and those forces which obey thee in order to people the infinite with inexhaustible creation! Mathematics proves thee, the harmonies of Nature proclaim thee, all forms as they pass by salute thee and adore thee!

Abraham knew thee, Hermes divined thee, Pythagoras calculated thee, Plato, in every dream of his genius, aspired to thee; but only one initiate, only one sage has revealed thee to the children of earth, one alone could say of thee: "I and my Father are one." Glory then be his, since all his glory is thine!

Thou knowest, O my Father, that he who writes these lines has struggled much and suffered much; he has endured poverty, calumny, proscription, prison, the forsaking of those whom he loved: — and yet never did he find himself unhappy, since truth and justice remained to him for consolation!

Thou alone art holy, O God of true hearts and upright souls, and thou knowest if ever I thought myself pure in thy sight! Like all men I have been the plaything of human passions. At last I conquered them, or rather thou has conquered them in me; and thou hast given me for a rest the deep peace of those who have no goal and no ambition but Thyself.

I love humanity, because men, as far as they are not insensate, are never wicked but through error or through weakness. Their natural disposition is to love good, and it is through that love that thou hast given them as a support in all their trials that they must sooner or later be led back to the worship of justice by the love of truth.

Now let my books go where thy Providence shall send them! If they contain the words of thy wisdom they will be stronger than oblivion. If, on the contrary, they contain only errors, I know at least that my love of justice and of truth will survive them, and that thus immortality cannot fail to treasure the aspirations and wishes of my soul hat thou didst create immortal!


[1] A dog has six legs. Definition. It is no answer to this to show that all dogs have four. — O.M.

[2] Who, however, had the word laid aside against the time when Paul should give it a meaning. — O.M.

[3] Sublime houmour of sophistry! Levi asserts, "Any lie will serve, provided every one acquiesces in it," and reprehends Christianity for disturbing the peace of Paganism. Or, indicates that Christianity is but syncretic-eclectic Paganism, and defends it on this ground. — O.M.

[4] The Priscillianist heresy was disturbing the Church, especially in Spain. The Emperor Maximus, a Spaniard, was inclined to put it down with a strong hand and confiscate the heretics' property. The Gallic clergy hounded him on, and the Councils of Bordeaux and Saragossa encouraged him. Two Spanish priests, Ithacus and Idacus, clamoured for the heretics' punishment by the secular arm. But St. Martin of Tours, stalwart champion of orthodoxy as he was, resisted, and in 385 he went to Treves to plead for the persecuted Priscillianists. He prevailed. So long as Martin stayed at court the Ithacan party was foiled. When he left they had the upper hand again, and Maximus gave the suppression of the heretics into the hands of the unrelenting Evodious. Priscillian was killed. Exile and death were the fate of his followers. Heresy blazed the stronger, and a worse persecution was threatened. Then St. Martin left his cell at Marmontier, and set out a second time to Treves. News of the old man coming along the road on his ass reached his enemies. They met him at the gate and refused him entrance. "But," said Martin, "I come with the peace of Jesus Christ." And such was the power of this presence that they could not close the city gates against him. But the palace doors were closed. Martin refused to see the Ithacans or to receive the Communion with them, and their fury at this is eloquent testimony of their sense of his power. They appealed to Maximus, who delivered over Martin bound to them. But in the night Maximus sent for Martin, argued, coaxed, persuaded him to compromise. The schism would be great, he persisted, if Martin continued to exasperate the Ithacans. Martin said he had nothing to do with persecutors. In wrath the Emperor let him go, and gave orders to the Tribunes to depart to Spain and carry out a rigorous Inquisition. Then Martin returned to Maximus and bargained. Let this order be revoked, and he would receive Communion with the Ithacans next day at the election of the new Archbishop. The order was revoked, and Martin kept his word. But when he knew the cause of Humanity safe, he departed, and on his way back to Tours experienced a great agony. Why had he had dealings with the Ithacans? In a lonely place he pondered sadly. An angel spoke to him. "Martin, you do right to be sad, but it was the only way." Never again did he go to any council. He was wont to say with tears that if he had saved the heretics he himself had lost power over men and over demons.

They have outraged the meaning of the episode who explain Martin's protest as merely against the surrender of the Church to Secular Power. It was lèse-humanité of which he held the Ithacans guilty.

St. Martin of Tours was often called Martin the Thaumaturgist. He was noted for his power over animals.

[5] This passage is typical of the sublime irony of Levi, and the key to the whole of his paradoxes. — TRANS.

[6] Christianity has fallen, and so Christ has already become the 'devil' to such thinkers as Nietzsche and Crowley. — O.M.

[7] Right — 'droit' — a word much in evidence at the time, with no true English equivalent, save in such phrases as 'the right to work.' By itself it is only used in the plural, which will not do here, and throughout this treatise. — TRANS.

[8] Almost too visible a sneer of the Atheist and woman-despiser. — O.M.

[9] 2 Thess. ii. 7,8. This passage is presumably that referred to by the author. Cf. 1 John iv. 3, and ii, 18. — TRANS.

[10] Actual priests. Levi's ideal priest, of whom 'bad; is an impossible epithet, is not to be looked for in the Church. He is in that 'Church' which is also Ark, Rose, Font, Altar, Cup, and the rest. He is that Word of Truth which is 'established' by two witnesses. —O. M.

[11] This is the true clairvoyant Levi. The Levi who prophesied Universal Empire for Napoleon III was either the Magus trying to use him as a tool, or a Micaiah unadjured. —O. M.

[12] A mistranslation by monotheists. The Greek is πνευμα ο Θεος: "Spirit is God." — TRANS.

[13] Monasteries in Paris which were used as prisons in the Reign of Terror. —TRANS.

[14] Proudhon. —TRANS.

[15] Written about the time of the Crimean War, this indicates Levi's attempt to use Imperialism as his magical weapon, just as Allan Bennett tried to use Buddhism. All these second-hand swords break, as Wagner saw when he wrote Siegfried, and invented a new Music, a Nothung which has shorn asunder more false sceptres than Wotan's. —O. M.

[16] "I do not say that Voltaire died a good Catholic, but he died a Catholic." —E. L. Christian authors unanimously hold that, like all 'heretics,' he repented on his death-bed, and died blaspheming. What on earth does it matter? Life, not death, reveals the soul. —TRANS.

[17] It is amusing to remark that this very symbol is characteristic of the Greek Church which he has been attacking. Levi should have visited Moscow. —TRANS.

[18] The author had perhaps no space to continue with a demonstration that the Gospel legend itself is a macedoine of those of Bacchus, Adonis, Osiris, and a hundred others, and that the Mass, and Christian ceremonies generally, have similarly pagan sources. —O. M.

[19] This and many similar phrases employed in the controversies of the period are to-day practically unintelligible. Levi was at one time a kind of Socialist. —TRANS.

[20] Those who took part in the massacres of the Revolution of the 4th September, 1792. —TRANS.

[21] Levi was certainly never the dupe of this boudoir Theologian. He accepted him without perusal, as the Englishman accepts Shakespeare and Milton. —O. M.

[22] And habitually commanded the rape of virgins and the massacre of children. 1 Sam. xv. 3, etc. —O. M.

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