On Prophecy

Now it is well known that man differs from all other animals in that he cannot enjoy a good life in isolation and alone, managing all his affairs without any partner to assist him in the fulfilment of his needs. A man must perforce attain satisfaction by means of another of his species, whose needs in turn are satisfied by him and his like : thus, one man will act as conveyor, another as baker, another as tailor, another as sewer; when all unite together, the needs of all are satisfied. For this reason they were constrained to construct cities and societies. Those makers of cities who did not observe the conditions required in their undertaking, confining themselves only to coming together in one community, achieved a kind of life little resembling that which is proper to men, being devoid of those ' perfections' which men require.

This being so, it is necessary for men both to associate with each other, and to behave like citizens. This is obvious; it also follows that it is necessary to the life and survival of mankind that there should be co-operation between them, which can only be realized through a common transaction of business; in addition to all the other means which secure the same purpose. This transaction requires a code of law and just regulation, which is their turn call for a lawgiver and regulator. Such a man must be in the position to speak to men, and to constrain them to accept the code; he must therefore be a man.

Now it is not feasible that men should be left to their own opinions in this matter so that they will differ each from the other, every man considering as justice that which favours him, and as injustice that which works against his advantage. The

survival and complete self-realization of the human race requires the existence of such a lawgiver, far more than for instance the growth of hair on the eyelashes and eyebrows, the development of a hollow instep, and such other advantages as arc not necessary to survival but are at the most merely useful to that end.

It is entirely possible for a righteous man to exist; and it is not feasible that the Divine Providence should have required the other small advantages, and not have required this which is the foundation of them all; neither is it reasonable to suppose that the First Principle and the Angels should have been aware of the former and not have known of the latter. Finally it is not likely that this, being a matter known to be existentially possible and actually necessary to establish a beneficent order, should yet not exist; indeed, how should it not exist, seeing diat that which depends and is constructed upon its existence does in fact already exist ?

It follows therefore that there should exist a prophet, and that he should be a man ; it also follows that he should have some distinguishing feature which docs not belong to other men, so that his fellows may recognise him as possessing something which is not theirs, and so that he may stand out apart from them. This distinguishing feature is the power to work miracles.

Such a man, if and when he exists, must prescribe laws for mankind governing all their affairs, in accordance with God's ordinance and authority, God inspiring him and sending down the Holy Spirit upon him. The fundamental principle upon which his code rests will be to teach them that they have One Creator, Almighty and Omniscient, Whose commandment mine of right be obeyed; that the Command must belong to Him Wiio possesses the power to create; and that He has prepared fat those who obey Him a future file of bfas, but «raicdaBi for such as disobey Him. So the masses will receive the prescriptions, sent down upon his tongue from God and the Angels, with heedful obedience.

It is not necessary for him to trouble their minds with any part of the knowledge of God, save the knowledge that He is One, True, and has no like ; as for going beyond this doctrine, so as to charge them to believe in God's existence as not to be defined spatially or verbally divisible, as being neither without the world nor within it, or anything of that sort—to do this would impose a great strain upon them and would confuse the religious system which they follow already, bringing them to a pass wherefrom only those rare souls can escape who enjoy especial favour, and they exceedingly uncommon. The generality of mankind cannot imagine these things as they really are except by hard toil; few indeed are they who can conceive the truth of this Divine Unity and Sublimity. The rest are soon apt to disbelieve in this sort of Being, or they fall down upon the road and go off into discussions and speculations which prevent them from attending to their bodily acts, and often enough cause them to fall into opinions contrary to the good of society and inconsistent with the requirements of truth. In such circumstances their doubts and difficulties would multiply, and it would be hard indeed by words to control them : not every man is ready to understand metaphysics, and in any case it would not be proper for any man to disclose that he is in possession of a truth which he conceals from the masses ; indeed, he must not allow himself so much as to hint at any such thing. His duty is to teach men to know the Majesty and Might of God by means of symbols and parables drawn from things which they regard as mighty and majestic, imparting to them simply this much, that God has no equal, no like and no partner.

Similarly he must establish in Ami the belief in an afterlife, in a manner that comes within the range of their imagination and will be satisfying to their souls ; he will liken the happiness and misery there to be experienced in terms which they can understand and conceive. As for the truth of these matters, he will only adumbrate it to them very briefly, saying that it is something which " eye hath not seen nor ear heard ", and that there is pleasure awaiting us beyond the grave which is a mighty kingdom, or pain that is an abiding torment. God certainly knows the beneficcnt aspect of all this, and it is always right to take what God knows exactly for what it implies. There is therefore no harm in his discourse being interspersed with sundry hints and allusions, to attract those naturally qualified for speculation to undertake philosophical research into the nature of religious observances and their utility in terms of this world and the next.

Now this person, the prophet, is not of the kind that often comes into the world, in every age : the gross matter able to receive his sort of' perfection ' occurs in but few temperaments. It follows from this that the prophet must devise means of securing the survival of his code and laws in all the spheres of human welfare. There is no doubt that the advantage in this is, that men will continue to be aware of the existence of God and of an afterlife ; and the danger of their forgetting these things, a generation after the prophet's mission, will be circumvented. He must therefore prescribe certain acts which men should repeat at close intervals, so that if the time for the performance of one act is missed there may soon be an opportunity for performing the next like act while the memory is still fresh and has not yet become obliterated.

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