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partly caused by them; but the Godlike quality, which is the evolutionary advance constituting man, is imperceptible in the lower embodiment. The science of æsthetics is certainly the stepping-stone to the ethics of beauty, but it is as certainly not the same thing.
To one who revels in æsthetic enjoyment, and desires nothing better, beauty will have very little to say that will prove educative in the higher sense ; while, to one looking for its moral meaning, it will speak of divine causative forces, and strengthen the effort to understand and use life — which beauty both trauslates and incarnates.
The ethics of beauty finds its significance in spiritual laws, because the source and the sanctions of ethics exist in spiritual realities, and beauty is an emanation from God, and it must, therefore, develop according to the attributes of Deity. It is of the first importance to acknowledge this in seeking to attain to just estimate of the power they may exercise.
The modern world has had true insight, inasmuch as it has assigned to beauty a mission, has listened to its teaching, and has bowed before the glory of its illumination. The error into which the Epicurean philosopher, and the hermits of the first centuries alike fell, although they saw opposite sides of the falsehood-scared face - sprang from the denial of the spirit-source of beauty. The pagan did not admit the existence of moral meaning in any form of the beautiful. It was neither bad nor good. Not inmoral but unmoral, was his verdict upon the wonderful fact. Almost immoral - absolutely so, if its sway were yielded to - seemed beauty to the stunted humanity which thought to illustrate the most beautiful life that has shone upon earth, by putting to death that half of being which is nearest to God's smile. Ascetic and Epicurean were both wrong — as are their spiritual lineage of to-day.
Emerson says ; " It has been the office of Art to educate the perception of beauty. We are immersed in beauty, but our eyes have no clear vision.” And why is this? Is it not because the majority of men wander through the mazes of life adoring appearances, and blind to the realities that form them? Therefore has the work of the deep-seeing souls been treasured. Their clear eyes have looked through the shadows of facts, and seen the substance whose projection they are, — and their knowledge has been gathered and studied and sounded and treated as an education for those who wish to know the more exalted aspects of that glorious thing called beauty. For its lowlier expressions, art is not imperatively necessary. There is no soul that has not kept some tiny corner free from stain, and beauty finds it, and makes a dwelling there amidst its silent sweetness.
If it be true that the artist sees, feels, hears and worships beauty as the non-artist cannot do, and that his aid is needed by the average man, it is also a fact that the inartistic nations demand help from the more sensitively endowed races, while the peculiar art-genius of a people consists in its susceptibility to certain art truths and forms.
In the embodiments of beauty, in painting and sculpture, in architecture and music, and in that most comprehensive of all the arts, literature, is presented a vast body of facts from which to draw the soul. Opportunity is given to analyze the conception of beauty, and to watch its growth from its germ in the mind of a barbarous individual or race, until it flowers in the finest art of which as yet the world is capable. The relation may be traced between it, and the life of the personality or period whence it is born; and the law may be discovered to which the art owes allegiance, and
notice taken of the points at which it renders it, as well as of those places where it is forsworn.
This is a weighty task. Truly does “the question of beauty take us out of surfaces to thinking of the foundation of things,” and truly is “the beautiful a manifestation of secret laws of nature or, rather, of a special thought of God.
Absolute fidelity, therefore, to the principle of the supremacy of spirit must be looked for in whatever reflection of loveliness may be under consideration; and by the manner in which it endures this test, must it be ranked in the order of beauty. Who has not felt the different degrees and kinds of power which landscapes exert upon the mind? What lover of nature fails to recognize the pervasive, ethereal suggestiveness of some scenes, and their sweet, vague hints of a mysterious beyond ? Sometimes such an one will even seem like a transparency between this world and the next while others, equally dowered in contour and color, lack that divine idealism, and so are devoid of the highest attributes of beauty.
That it be not misunderstood, let it be restated that all nature is a tran. script of God; - but it is not all equally translucent. The same distinction is observable in the interpretation of identical scenes by various painters, and in the word paintings of the artist writers. Humanity also, must be judged by this light, that face being the most beautiful which best fulfills this requirement. And by this is not meant, that type only of which the critical gazer says, “ how exquisite the expression, it almost redeems the features." There is a manifestation of spiritual loveliness which shines through and overflows the fleshly covering, without either remodeling or obliterating it. But there also exists a face whose beauty is that of informed matter, quite as much as of the informing spirit; whose perfection results from the outworking of the primary law of the ethics of beauty, that which proclaims the power of the spirit to mold the medium in which it is to dwell, and the plastic responsiveness of substance to transforming forces. The nobility, serenity, sweetness, strength and harmony which are necessary elements in a face deserving to be called beautiful, are the agents which have modeled the features in direct and interpretative accord with themselves. Of these three grades of beauty – the merely fleshy, the spiritual, winning recognition in spite of physical defects, and the divine-incarnate, in which line and texture are glorified, and the physical is lifted to the level of the spiritual — the highest is the last.
One of the most strongly marked ethical characteristics of the beautiful is an all-embracing, yet clear-slighted compassion rising, at times, into a tenderly uplifting pity. The rain of its gracious charity falls alike upon the just and the unjust, as, with wide eyes, it sees the universal need. Îhe artist who is entirely faithful to this trait in the composite nature of his goddess will come near to the heart of this generation, and take his place amongst its worthiest workers.
Indeed, tolerance, which is an outgrowth of this quality, is so cherished a child of the present intellectual and moral conditions, that any disregard of its dictates is quickly discerned and avenged. This distinctly modern gain is a most encouraging possession. It has accomplished much, and it promises more. It is a tendency in beauty of word, of tone, of form, and in the benignant care-taking of nature, — who only seems indifferent because of her heart's spaciousness — whose Godlikeness is clearest when all-loving, and who loves the most where most the love is needed. How
tenderly she binds the wounds of earth! How more than earnestly she seeks to hide its gashes and its scars. How lavishly she expends herself to bring back beauty to the places whence it has been driven. How she asserts and re-asserts the claim of everything to share in beauty's dower.
Again; beauty is not beauty unless it is purposeful. Every variety of beautiful face and figure expresses a purpose, - the direction in which the soul is facing, and, sometimes, the stage of progress it has attained. If this be true of the human body, it is doubly so of a creation in any of the departments of art, the privilege of selection and arrangement creating an obligation to use it aright - that is, to an end. No milder adjective than conscienceless can be applied to those artists who deny any aim in art beyond good execution. “Art for Art's sake,” is the watch-word of a school, but it is also the utterance of a mischievous half-truth. “Art, for art's sake” should remember its origin, its mission, its destiny. It should pay homage to what it reveals, claim allegiance for what it accomplishes, and point forward to what it shall achieve.
The strength of beauty is too generally admitted to require more than the statement that the one is invariably the crown of the other, when it occupies its rightful throne. Fragile loveliness is often spoken of, it is true, but if the loveliness be real, the fragility is only apparent, or is but the crystal covering of the vital light within.
And what conception can be had of beauty which does not include purity ? It is not necessarily passionless, although purity exists where passion is not, just as peace dwells where strife has never been. But the tenderest purity, and the loftiest peace, have lived through the lightning and the whirlwind, before they watched the stars come out. There is the beauty of frost, and the beauty of flame. They are both pure and purifying; and in the various phases of beauty in art, in nature, and in life, the purity of the flame must not be ignored.
Beauty is always courageous. It has the fine dauntlessness to look the sun in the face, and it shuts not its eyes to the storm. is two-fold, and is compounded of submission and aspiration. It yields to the mandate of law, while longing for union with its source.
All these forces work together for the creation of something of which it may be said ; “God saw it, and it was good.” Men name it beauty.
The harmony of the universe is reflected in each of the inethods by which beauty is made cognizable to mankind, and in that majestic image the soul finds satisfaction. Beauty is an inlet into the mind of God. Men may go a step within its courts, and worshipfully acknowledge that the Mighty One has dealt with them as with kings and princes of the spirit, crowning them with“ power and light,” and robing them in the effulgent splendor of some knowledge of Himself.
MARY C. C. BRADFORD. [To be continued.]
BY SARAH E. TRUE.
Read before the “ Society Esoteric.” We often hear the question asked; In what do the Esoteric people believe? I will endeavor, to the extent of my knowledge, to answer it in a sim. ple way. In the first place, we believe in but one God, the Creator of all things, the life of all animate objects in nature; and further that He
is the ever-acting force in all nature; and that through it, He expresses Him. self; for nature is the language of God. We do not believe in a God seated on a throne, loving one minute and angry the next; sending sin, and sorrow upon His children whenever it pleases Him. Ono! Away with such a God! The God we worship is a loving father to us, merciful and just, giving us life, health and strength, so long as we live in accordance with His divine laws, for they are unchangeable, and we must not break them. If we put ourselves under a law that God never intended us to, then we suffer the consequences of that law. For instance, if we put our hands into the fire we must expect to get burned, for there is a law there which holds good under all circumstances. We did not break a law, for that law fulfilled its duty; the fault was in our putting ourselves within the reach of that law. Now we are striving to place ourselves under the Divine Law, which is to come into perfect unity with the Divine Will. Now the Divine Will, in regard to man, is, we believe, that he may become conscious of the God within him, and so unfold his soul to the spiritual side of life in order he that may know the mind and will of the Father, and be willing to do His works; for we believe that God works through man, — that is, that God's thoughts are expressed through him. We also believe that, by coming into harmony with God's laws, we can control our bodies and make them what we will. We are not able, in our present condition, to immediately change them to what we would like to be, but we can make them much better by understanding the law, and taking control of the creative forces within us, thus living the life that Jesus taught us. He said ; “ Follow me, for I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” meaning that we should live as he lived, and do the works which he did. The mission of man is to do good, and to improve ; – to do that which is most useful for his ripening and development.
The true actual measure of every man's religion and life, is the amount of good he unselfishly does in the world. Jesus taught us the life of regeneration, and we all should try and live that life, conserving all the lifeforces within our bodies. We believe in following out the teachings of Jesus to the letter, knowing that we can do all that he did, when we reach the height of human attainment which he reached. If we commence to live this life, we must give up all the earthly loves which bind us to earth. After we are fairly started in this new life, the world is changed to us, for what was pleasure once would then bring us only sorrow. If through weakness we should turn back to the world which we had renounced, and should find that all was changed, that nothing could satisfy us, we should turn back to the better life we had left, and, with more will and determination than ever, rededicate ourselves to our highest ideal of God. We should live continually in our higher loves, and those higher illuminations of consciousness which alone are subjects of true contemplation.
We should cultivate our highest ideals of goodness and virtue, so that we may
become conscious of our relatedness to God, and may hold communion with Him, for there may be communion between God and us,
if but bring ourselves into harmony with His divine laws. The consciousness of the masses is awake only to the external, and they find themselves in confusion, unhappiness, disease and sorrow; and the first step out of such a condition is to go into the interior of our being, and find the God within us,still the senses, and to commune within ourselves, and then
the Light will soon begin to flow in, and the darkness will disappear. Let us remem
ber that the man who honors God most, is the one who tries to be Godlike.
Not long ago I came across the report of a lecture given in Channing Hall by Rev. T. R. Slicer of Providence, R. I., on the subject of Unitarian Theology, and, it being so very esoteric, I thought I would read it to you. He said that Unitarianism was not committed to unchangeable creeds; that it was awaiting all the returns before crystallizing its opinions; that it believed in an all-pervading, all-powerful, all-knowing God, who is Nature, and with whom, in common with all creation, we have a kinship; that science has found obstacles insurmountable in its researches; that it has not and could not find out God, and yet that it had discovered, in the past forty years, a principle of much value to Christianity, namely, that all forces heat, light, power, etc., are interchangeable and identical. In this same way it is clear that man is fulfilling his highest mission when he is bringing himself into harmony with the laws of God, and thus fitting himself to the relationship which he was intended to sustain to nature, namely, that of harmony, of perfect unity of his will with God's will, and communion with His spirit. God and man are mutually conscious of each other. There is communion between them. The same life includes both.
We can see by this that the minds of the clergymen of to-day are advancing in spite of themselves, for the mental atmosphere of our planet is full of great and grand truths awaiting our receptivity, and all that is necessary is to desire to know the Truth with all our heart, with all our strength, and with all our might, and it will be attracted to us ; for the mind is as a magnet which attracts to itself whatever it desires. Then let us desire to live the highest life now, and the highest will be ours in eternity. In Pope's “Essay on Man” we find the following lines which define in a few words the Esoteric Theology.
Slave to no sect, who takes no private road,
LISTEN MY SOUL!
WHEN passions lure thee to deeds of shame,
Turn away! Turn away my soul !
Keep away! Keep away my soul!
Be honest! Be honest my soul !