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vol. 1, p. 46
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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Chicago, July 20th, 1875.

To the Editor of the Spiritual Scientist:—

I have been much interested in the second article on Rosicrucianism by “Hiraf.” (The first I did not see, having just returned from Sonora, and the critigue thereon by a lady. I have also read Mr. Sotheran’s lecture upon Cagliostro. These able papers are timely, because unless we have a larger scope of thought and action, it seems to me that Spiritualism is going straight to the — well, you can guess. The Scientist is just what the world needs at this juncture, and in opening its columns to the discussion of Rosicrucianism, it performs a most noble service to the Age and the Cause. A few things bother me, however, in all three of the above-noted papers. First, I deny that either Bulwer Lytton, or Hargrave Jennings were or are at the head of the Mystic Order in England. Second, the statement that the Order does not exist.

Surely, these writers ought to know that in London there is a large body of the Order of Rosicrucians; in Bristol, England, a flourishing branch; in Montreal and Quebec, a mighty lodge; and in the street called Spring, in New York City, there is a very large weekly convention of them every mortal week, and that there are isolated Rosicrucians all over the land, from Maine to Mexico, from Florida to Mariposa, and to-day constant inquiries are being made as to where affiliations car be bought and had.

It is evident to me that of the 119 persons whose writings on Rosicrucianism have appeared in this country since 1853, not more than eight of them really know aught either of it, or of either of the three Cabalas—so-called. I have read quite a number of communications from alleged adepts, and only one do I believe to be true, and that one from the Egyptian wing of the Fraternity,—the Brotherhood of Luxor.

Again, the lady seems to know a deal more, in some respects, about the real Order, than either Sotheran, Bulwer, Jennings, and yet I doubt the source of that knowledge, for I am unaware that ladies,—Mme. St. Germain and Mme. Cagliostro included,—have ever been intromitted. I dispute the fact that they have. Certainly they have not in the East, and if not there, where? in the West or South? One might just as well look for a lady in the lofty degrees of the F. and A. M., as in the mystic lodges of the R. C. In a world, I dispute the actual membership in the Order, of any of the parties alluded to.

Geo. Corbyn.

Our correspondent’s letter is interesting, but he shoots wide of the mark. It is true an Order of Rosicrucians exists in Europe and America; but it bears about as close a resemblance to the fraternity of Cagliostro and Rosencranz, as our modern masonic lodges do to the hypothetical lodge of Solomon and the two Hirams which they typify. Masonry is to have passed from the “operative” to the “speculative” phase at the death of Sir Christopher Wren, Grand Master of England, and builder of St. Paul’s Cathedral; and it is probable that Rosicrucianism as a practical, operative science passed away when Cagliostro expired in the dungeons of St. Leon. Can any one of the multitude of members in the R. C. lodges which our correspondent catalogues, display any one of the mysterious powers of that adept, or of Madame Blavatsky, the lady to whom he alludes? If not, it behooves him to seek farther before saying that she either was or not initiated at the East, West or South. Attention and silence.

( Е. А. ∴

Ex Nihilo Nihil-Fit

To the of the “Spiritual Scientist,”

Frater:—I read with much astonishment the “leading” letter inserted in your valuable periodical, in which one George Corban insidiously indicts myself and others for misleading your readers, falsifying facts, and attributing a participation in the Rosie Mysteries to individuals who have no true status therein.

Such a concoction simply merits contempt; and with that I shall treat this puerile series of negations, notwithstanding the writer has in one and the same breath styled my essay on Cagliostro an “able” one, and myself inferentially a “liar.”

“Every bullet has its billet” is an old adage;—in this instance a lamentably wide shot has scored “Zero.”

To those who are genuinely anxious, and seek with abnegation for information, I will freely impart—having freely received, becoming not being made authority through + + + + + + + and the “M. C.” will my credentials, engraved on the tablets, be freely displayed—to those who may remain passive spectators attentively waiting for the true light, Lumen Lumine, I would recommend the following lines from Cicero to meet present requirements:—

“Nihil est tam volucre quam maledictum, nihil facilius emittitur, nihil citius excipitur, nihil latius dissipatur.”

Yours respectfully in spirit,

Charles Sotheran

Societatis Rosa Crucis. of Memphis, of Mizraim, et...

Retributive Justice

by Henry S. Olcott.

I have not misconceived the plain teachings of the best Spiritualists and their familiar spirits, there will have to be a great remodeling of our theological doctrines. We will have to abandon both the Hebrew notion of the “scape-goat,” and the Christian one of Original Sin and the Atonement. We must face, with such courage as we may, the idea that it is impossible to escape punishment for our offences. We must realize that our sins can neither be bound upon the back of an animal, to be borne out in the wilderness, not laid upon the shoulders of a self-sacrificing Saviour. In short, we must understand that the Divine Wisdom which has created Law, metes out equal and exact Justice to all of us according to our deserts. Of course, this necessitates the relinquishment of the theory that all men sinned in Adam, the outcome of which was the alternative that we could not avoid damnation except through the vicarious suffering of the only Son of God.

I think I state the case fairly. If my studies have not been fruitless, this is the attitude in which the revelations of Modern Spiritualism place us dwellers in the flesh. I have conversed with very learned people who process to know all about the economy of the future life, and they tell me that we are not only held to account for what evil we do to ourselves and others, directly, but also for what we indirectly cause others to do. That is to say, if a father misgoverns his son, in such a way as to make him a criminal, the greater share of responsibility for his crimes devolves upon him, the cause, the lesser upon him, the victim.

A doctrine like this would be monstrous and appalling if it were conceded that we were totally depraved by nature, for there would be no hope for escape from a terrible doom unless we chanced to gain favor by profession of belief in the saving merits of a common intercessor. This idea upon which our prevailing theological systems are based, implies several things. In the first place, that one person’s sin can be expiated by another’s suffering; secondly, that certain of our fellow-men, by reason of extreme influence with God, can placate his just wrath, if so moved to do; and, thirdly, that the Supreme Ruler of the Universe is a being of moods and impulses, liable to be diverted from the execution of Justice by the prayers of the devout.

Spiritualism, as I understand its advocates, teaches that, so far from man having been originally evil, he has been constantly growing better and better; that some are worse than others, but none irretrievably bad; that our well-being here and the rapidity of our progress hereafter, are wholly within our own control; that we may advance more or less surely and quickly to light, wisdom, and goodness, as we cultivate our own natural faculties; and that faith in ourselves, the desire to improve and especially, the re-enforcement of our Will Power are all that are necessary to place us beside the highest Sephiroths, in the highest spheres.

What a contrast between this theory of Evolution and Progression, and that of the Church, as forcibly and beautifully expressed in this familiar verse:

"Though my tears forever flow,
Though my zeal no languor know,
These for sin can not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone!”

The philosophical student, contemplating these two systems, may well be pardoned for asking, if this theory of the sole efficacy of the atonement be true, what incentive there for personal effort towards self purification. If neither constant remorse, nor unflagging zeal in good works avail anything, of what use is either? If a man may crown career of fearful lust, and robbery and violence with the capital crime murder, and, by death-bed the sacrament and of faith, find peace and profession of faith, find peace and forgiveness, and so be as well off as the life-long saint, why should not all who choose to be lustful and violent? The belated traveler who jumps abroad as the plank is cast off, gets to the journey's end as soon as he who came first; why should not all be laggards who choose?

It may be heterodox to profound such questions but does it not seem as if our friends, the Spiritualists, have in their creed the greater inducement to live good lives, and, doing equal justice to all here, merit the rewards of Divine justice hereafter?

Editor's notes

  1. Rosicrucianism by unknown author (signed as E. A. ∴), Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 22, August 5, 1875, p. 257
  2. Ex Nihilo Nihil-Fit by Sotheran, Charles, Spiritual Scientist
  3. Retributive Justice by Olcott, H. S., Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 10, May 13, 1875, p. 111