This chapter is one of the most
important of them all, for it discusses the Work of the Salvator, who whenever He comes to earth does indeed “bestow
a treasure of knowledge” to those who are able to receive it. However, not
all are able to receive such advanced teachings as Christ Himself also indicates (St
Matthew 11; 14) and to them they will only be revealed in parables (St Luke 8;
10) When one’s mind is divided between physical and spiritual desires, it is like a battlefield and this internal
struggle makes him strongly rebellious. He questions everything. However, the highest desires of man have been recognised
from ancient times. They are represented by a handful of eternal truths and whether or not he realises it, Man is always searching for knowledge of them.
We are told that they have been
“preserved from antiquity, from the time of his original glory”, a passage which obviously has a couple of meanings.
Firstly, it indicates that the same basic truths have always been revealed by the Salvator at His various comings, though
clearly in a more primitive society they will have been expressed in simpler ways. The reference to “original glory”
actually refers to the time when the Divine Spark first came forth from the Godhead, for then it was possessed of all true knowledge. This explains why a new concept may simply “seem right” when
we first hear it, even if it is strange to us in this incarnation – it is because in the innermost depths of our being
we once “knew” it
Verse 4 sees a tendency to violence
as a symptom of deeper problems – it may indicate that many serious faults such as pride, jealousy and hate, still lurk
within, gnawing away at the roots of the spiritual seed within us, even as it begins to grow. As a result of this wickedness
within, such a man; eventually succumbs to the temptations of the Tempter who thus tears him away from the things of God.
Psychically sin separates us from God, becoming, as it were a barrier, interposing between our individual spirits and the
Divine Life Force. The effect of this barrier is to separate the Divine Spark that is within each human spirit, from spiritual
sustenance, without which it cannot grow and develop. This separation from God may be only temporary, but whilst it persists
it threatens its “return to the heights of the spirit for
he spends all his efforts in the petty struggles of this low and material world”.
In other words, it is not only the karma of misdeeds
that drags down the sinful man. The mere fact of his being so pre-occupied with the things of the world ensures that he lacks
the time and energy to make spiritual progress, even if he wishes to do so. This is why, throughout all ages and in all major
faiths those who have seriously sought to achieve sanctity have frequently withdrawn from the world, seeking solitude and/or
the company of other seekers. Obviously “this handful of truths” has from time to time been proclaimed in a number
of very different contexts, both social and theological. Hence its outward form has varied significantly, but the inner truths
remain the same, and if a man can look beneath the superficial outer form to discover the essential elements of faith within,
“this handful of truths invigorates growth, both in spirituality and wisdom”. In
other words, both his spiritual standing and the wisdom that he needs to help others will be stimulated by this inner knowledge.
The Hebrew original of the word “denuded”
properly refers to depilation – and wherever idioms linked with baldness occur in these texts they always have positive
connotations. This is because the Semitic peoples had much less body hair than the either the red-haired Sumerians or the
racially-similar aboriginal inhabitants of Palestine and so saw hairlessness as a virtue. The reference
to superficiality seems to indicate that like Jesus of Nazareth, Melchizedek clothed much of His Teaching in parable and allegory.
Once this external “superficiality”
is removed, the “handful of truths” contained therein is revealed and thus made free to stimulate our growth in
spirituality and wisdom.
In more primitive spirits, the same effect may
be produced by “an abundance of tumult and fear”. Obviously primitive spirits are often to be found in a state
of tumult, both external and internal, and the uncertainties that this produces in their minds trigger many fears.
Such a state is hardly comparable with the spiritual
inner peace of the highly evolved spirit, yet strangely perhaps, through such fears such spirits may likewise be driven to
improve their spiritual standing and wisdom, spiritual edifices which in this case are described as “tempestuous and
strong”. In other words, the more primitive spirit is guided mainly by the Law of Justice in which fear of Retribution
drives it to do right, for as yet its interior confusion has prevented it developing a self-will that is strong enough to
lead it to attempt to defy God.
We are told “the Divine Law sees all”,
and it is true that the Law of Justice, otherwise known as the Law of Karma affects all, but in truth, so too, does the other
half of the Divine Law – the Law of Love, though usually only the most highly evolved spirits will respond to training
therein. They, however, respond brilliantly, and in fact it is usually only through the Law of Love that any spirit can achieve
the end of the Quest. This is what is meant by saying that these two parts of the Divine Law distribute “holiness to
the upright, whether lowly souls or the highest”.
Verse 10 introduces a slight change of subject
– referring to the way in which many individuals try to conceal their weaknesses. Now
although the idea of confessing one’s faults and repenting thereof is fundamentally the product of the Revelation of
Jesus Christ, it has nevertheless always been an essential step for those who wished to end their earthly incarnations and
the underlying need to acknowledge one’s faults was recognised long before.
Concealing our Faults only encourages them to
grow and there is a spiritual reason for this, because if whilst they are still young those faults are exposed to the strong
light of Truth, perhaps criticised by those whose opinions we value , they may well wither or die.
But if they are allowed to grow unchecked, without
ever having been exposed for what they really are, they will become stronger, and although sooner or later this growth means
that they can no longer be concealed, all too frequently, by the time this happens they have grown so strong that they have
destroyed the spiritual parts of our natures and as a result we are forced down to the dark depths of Hell.
This only happens because we have turned away
from the “handful of truths”, for no matter which religion we follow, if we do so sincerely, we will never fall
into Hell. However, once our faults lead us to seek darkness rather than light these truths become concealed from us by the darkness
with which we have surrounded ourselves in Hell.
They remain the only real cure for our poor spiritual
condition, but surrounded by darkness as we are in Hell, we fear the Light that they provide and so may remain in Hell for
long ages until at last we seek them again. Whilst we remain in Hell, separated from the Truth, we are indeed “divided in mind,
violent and cursed with sorrow.”
At the same time, the faults that have been concealed
become obvious to all, tyrannously destroying whatever remnants of our high ideals we still retain, whilst we sink ever lower
in Hell until we begin to rise again
After discussing the way that Concealed Faults
can lead us to fall into Hell, the last segment discusses the fate of a good man after death, contrasts it with that of the
sinner in Hell and indicates that he will eventually be able to help those who have fallen into Hell.
The Hebrew original from which the “Other
Side” is derived refers literally to “the further bank of the river” and perhaps demonstrates the envy of
the nomads for the fertile pastures on the West Bank of the Jordan.
On the other hand, it has always been customary
in many faiths to see the Afterlife as being separated from the Physical world by a sort of River, and even in modern times,
many mystics have perceived it in this way.
The Highest part of the Spirit Plane is the dwelling
Place of those whose High Ideals have led them to that summit. Here the best and most spiritual souls gather together as they continue
their journey towards still greater heights, where only the very highest ideals can flourish. In other words, even though
they may have reached Paradise, they still have much work to do before they can reach Heaven.
This result contrasts with the fate of the one
who on earth had been dominated by the desire for worldly possessions and often for possessions that he had won by shedding
blood. We are told that he is “wrapped in the darkness of Hell”, and these facts are made plain to all true seekers
by the “handful of truths” the Eternal Verities that lie behind all the world’s great religions.
Verse 18, seemingly is an interjection - a shout
of exaltation perhaps - and may indicate simply that these sayings were recited publicly in some form of worship. On the other
hand, the link with Melchizedek “King of Righteousness” is obvious, and the phrase may refer specifically to the
establishment of His righteous reign in the old citadel city of Salem
more than 4000 years ago.
Verse 19 continues the theme of verses 14 –
15. Because of his high ideals, the good man is constantly enabled to triumph over the many hidden tests and temptations that
beset him. Most importantly he learned to work with others who share his aims and this in turn strengthens his idealism until
at length the same ideals that had led him to the heights of the spirit, also enable him to help those in Hell.
This is an important point, for no one can achieve
the greatest heights by his own endeavours alone. There are always times in our lives when we need help –sometimes we
may receive it directly from God Himself, but more frequently it comes from other mortals whom He sends to our aid. Equally,
however, by the Law of Karma, this help has to be paid for, and we can only do this by assisting those who are spiritually
behind us, even as we ourselves have been helped by those above us. Thus if he is to make further spiritual progress, the good man must turn back and help those in Hell.