I STOOD in my sleep on the balcony of a house. It was night, and so dense and dark and impenetrable that neither earth nor star, nor any object, could be distinguished. Nevertheless, though not knowing where I was, I was conscious of being in or very near to a city.
And I beheld floating about in the darkness, small tongues of
flame exactly resembling in appearance the flame of a candle. They moved of themselves as if they were living creatures who, directed their motions with intelligence and will. They sank and rose and passed through the air in all directions, and nothing but them was visible, so intense was the darkness.
And as I watched the flames, two of them came floating towards me, and entering the house, glided round the room, and then returned to me on the balcony, and stopped and alighted, one on each of my hands, and there remained awhile. And then the whole scene passed away and the following succeeded.
I saw a child, a boy at school, who thought himself unjustly treated by the woman who kept the school, and sorely oppressed and persecuted. And he went into the room where she sat, and in a fury broke and destroyed everything upon which he could lay his hands. And the paroxysm of his anger made him appear as one possessed. He dashed beautiful vases to the floor, and trampled flowers under his feet, and tore to pieces rich draperies, for the room was furnished and decorated in a very costly and splendid fashion. And then he suddenly turned on the woman, and seizing her by the hair, beat her and tore her garments, and scratched her hands and face. And all the defence she made was a few words of remonstrance. And I was shocked and terrified, thinking she was dead, and wondered what would become of the child who had the fury of a wild beast and the strength of a man.
Then, after an interval, I saw a young girl, the daughter of the woman who had been thus assaulted. She was kneeling before a furnace and watching something in the flames. And she turned and looked at me and said, "The punishment due to the child is a terrible one, and cannot be escaped. He is condemned to be branded with a red-hot iron on the palm of each hand, and then to be expelled from the school. The brands are now beating in the furnace."
Saying this, she turned again to the furnace, and then with a rod drew out the iron and branded herself on each hand. And I saw the flesh shrivel up with the heat. Then she held up her palms towards me, and said, "See and read what is written on them." And I read on each hand the word, burnt into the flesh, "Guilty." "And now," she added, "I am going to quit this house my home, as I am banished." "You!" I cried. "You are not the guilty one! What have you done to deserve this? I do not understand."
And she answered, "I told you the punishment due to the child
cannot be escaped. And I have taken it upon myself of my own free will, although I am innocent, and the beloved daughter of her who has been so grievously offended and injured. As he would have been branded, I am branded. And as he would have been expelled, I am expelled. Thus have I redeemed him. I suffer for him. justice is satisfied, and he is pardoned. This is Vicarious Atonement."
Then, as she spoke these words, a wind blew in my face, and I breathed it in, and being inspired, spoke thus, with a loud voice:--
"O fool, to imagine that justice can be satisfied by the punishment of the innocent for the guilty! Rather is it doubly outraged. How can your being branded on the hands save the child? Hath not the Word of God declared, 'No man shall take the sin of another, nor shall any make atonement for his brother's trespass; but every one shall bear his own sin, and be purified by his own chastisement.' And again, is it not written, 'Be ye perfect'? And as no one can become perfect save through suffering, how can any become perfect if another bear his suffering for him? To take away his suffering is to take away his means of redemption, and rob him of his crown of perfection. The child cannot be pardoned through your assumption of his chastisement. Only if through suffering himself he repent, can he receive forgiveness. And so with the man who sins against the Creator by outraging his intuition and defiling the temple of God. The suffering of the Creator Himself for him, so far from redeeming him, would but rob him of his means of redemption. And if any declare that the Lord God hath thus ordained, the answer is, 'Justice first, and the Lord God afterwards!' But only through the perversion of ignorance can such doctrine be believed. The Mystery of Redemption has yet to be understood.
"This is that Mystery. There is no such thing as Vicarious Atonement; for none can redeem another by shedding innocent blood. The Crucifix is the emblem and symbol of the Son of God, not because Jesus shed his blood upon the cross for the sins of man, but because the Christ is crucified perpetually so long as sin remains. The saying, 'I am resolved to know nothing save this one mystery, Christ Jesus and Him crucified,' is the doctrine of Pantheism. For it means that God is in all creatures, and they are of God, and God as Adonai suffers in them. 1
"Who, then, is Adonai? Adonai is the Dual Word, the manifestation of God in Substance, who manifests himself as incarnated
[paragraph continues] Spirit, and so manifesting himself, by love redeems the world. He is the Lord who, crucified from the beginning, finds his full manifestation in the true Son of God. And therefore is it written that the Son of God, who is Christ, is crucified. Only where Love is perfect is Sympathy perfect, and only where sympathy is perfect can one die for another. Wherefore the Son of God says, 'The wrongs of others wound me, and the stripes of others fall on my flesh. I am smitten with the pains of all creatures, and my heart is pierced with their hearts. There is no offence done and I suffer not, nor any wrong and I am not hurt thereby. For my heart is in the breast of every creature, and my blood is in the veins of all flesh. I am wounded in my right hand for man, and in my left hand for woman; in my right and left feet for the beasts of the earth and the creatures of the deep; and in my heart for all.'
"The Crucifix, then, is the divinest of symbols because it is the emblem of Christ and token of God with man. It is the allegory of the doctrine of Pantheism that man becomes perfect--the soul becomes God--through suffering. He who is wise, understands; and he who understands is initiated; and he who is initiated loves; and he who loves knows; and he who knows is purified. And the pure behold God and comprehend the Divine, with the mystery of pain and of death. And because the Son of God loves, he is powerful, and the power of love redeems. He being lifted up, draws all men unto him. This is the mystery of the Seven Steps of the Throne of the Lord. And the Throne itself is of white, a glory dazzling to look upon. And in the midst of that Light is one whose appearance is that of a lamb that hath been slain. And he is Christ our Lord, the manifestation of Adonai, whose love hath thrust him through and through. And to him is given all power to redeem in heaven and on earth. For he opened his heart to all creatures, and gave himself freely for them. And because he loved, he laboured and grudged not, even to death. And because he laboured he was strong, for love laboured in him. And being strong he conquered, and redeemed them from death. They were not forgiven because Christ died; they were changed because he loved. For he washeth their souls white with his doctrine, and purifieth them with his deeds. And these are his heart's blood, even the word of God and the pure life. This is the atonement of Christ and perpetual sacrifice of the son of God. Believe and thou shalt be saved: for he that believeth is changed from the image of death to life. And he that believeth sinneth no more, and oppresseth no more. For he loveth as Christ hath
loved, and is in God and God in him. The blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin, not by the purchase of pardon with another's gold, but because the love of God hath changed the life of the sinner. The penitent saves himself by suffering, sorrow, and amendment. By these he rises and his life is redeemed. And it is the Christ that redeems him by giving his heart's blood for him. It is Christ in him who takes his infirmities and bears his sorrows in his own body on the tree. And the same which was true of old is true to-day, and for ever. Christ Jesus is crucified continually in each one until the kingdom of God come. For wherever is sin, are suffering, death, and oppression; and where these are the Christ shall be manifest, and by love shall labour, and die, and redeem."
Here the sound of my voice woke me, and the vision ended. But presently I slept again, and beheld an infinite expanse of sky, open and clear and blue and sunlit, all in the most intense degree. And across it and upwards flew an eagle like a flash of lightning before me, and I knew that it was intended to signify that with the reproach of innocent blood removed from God, and the Divine character vindicated, there is nought to check the soul's aspiration. 1
73:1 Paris, January 31, 1880. Referred to in Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, pp. 323-325.
75:1 See note 4 on p. 68.
77:1 Another meaning was, subsequently, shown to Anna Kingsford as the one intended: "Representing the return of the inspiring spirit to God, the apparition of the eagle was . . . an emphatic declaration of the divinity of the utterance" (Life of Anna Kingsford, vol. i, p. 325) S. H. H.