The Path – November 1892

SCIENTIFIC SALVATION — Alexander Fullerton

Salvation means "the making safe". But safe from what? In the usage of contemporary religionism, safe from future punishment for sin. If we inquire further as to the means to safety, we find it to be reliance upon another who has purchased the right to save by having himself undergone the punishment. The popular conception therefore considers the safety as from suffering, its date the hereafter, and its reception a gift.

But this whole operation is evidently external to the cause which once produced the liability to punishment and may produce it again. Punishment is the result of breaking of law; law is broken because the individual's sympathies are with the thing prohibited; and if still with the thing prohibited, they will continue to violate the prohibition. Hence law will be broken and penalties incurred just so long as the law is distasteful, and the only way to ensure obedience and a consequent immunity is a reversal of sympathy from the thing prohibited to the prohibition.

Now the springs of this sympathy are in the physical appetites, the intellectual convictions, and the moral sense. The state of the body, the mind, and the soul dictates the attitude towards law, and if the attitude is to be changed, that state must be changed because its cause. If a man who loves drunkenness, for instance, is to become sober by preference, it must be through his body's loss of craving for stimulant, his mind's conviction of the good of sobriety, and his soul's repugnance to the evil of indulgence. In other words, the whole man must face about, — not his taste merely, or his judgment, or his morals, but all in their totality. Only then is he "safe", for he has no inducement to offend, no conviction to oppose, no impulsion to resist. All unite in producing harmony with the law, conformity to its injunction, immunity from its penalty.

In such a change, furthermore, each section of the composite being must receive distinct treatment. A cancellation of the physical appetite will not alter the mental status or affect the moral sense. Intellectual beliefs will not cure a disordered physique or reverse the pose of the soul. Revolution in moral sentiment will not effect corresponding revolution in the body and the mind. A radical change — "conversion", from con, together, and verto, to turn — can come only as each is turned, and each can only be turned as the handling appropriate to it is given.

If, then, a man is to be made safe from sin and from its penal effects, it can be by nothing short of such a physical treatment of physical state, mental treatment of mental state, and moral treatment of moral state as shall transform him from a hater of law to a lover of law. He now obeys from preference, and is therefore free both from temptation and from punishment.

Yet freedom from suffering in the pilgrimage of an Ego no more exhausts its evolutionary demands than would a like freedom in one incarnation. Who would consider a life perfect if guaranteed from all risk of disease or accident? Irrespective of such negative good, there is a whole cycle of positive and progressive development. The body has to be trained to such dexterity as is demanded by its avocation; the mind has to be fed with fact from many separated areas and its powers educated to their highest potency; the soul has to be nurtured with truth from above, and its voice in conscience grow clear and regnant. Each component of man needs its copious expansion if it is to fulfil the law of being and mount to the heights designed for it by the Supreme. Every separate incarnation in the chain is to contribute something to the attainment of the ideal, until that ideal is complete and incarnations needless. So long as any element is deficient must incarnations be repeated, and he only can be "safe" from the hamperings of rebirth who has surmounted its necessity.

Considered as immunity from either violation of law or imperfection of existence, "salvation" must, then, be achieved through the perfecting of each component of the being, and that perfecting must be through the specific training required for each. In other words, it must be scientific. Now what does this mean?

It means, negatively, that the accomplishment is not by a pious sentiment or a generous sympathy or a spasmodic aspiration. It means, positively, that it is a systematic education of every faculty under the laws impressed by Nature thereon, and after the experience which the most enlightened practitioners have accumulated during aeons of action. Evolution of the whole man beyond the danger-limit is as much a matter of formulated knowledge as is the training for athletic sport or a college examination. Neither is done by an emotion or a spurt or a faith: nor is it. Under accepted rules, crystallizing ancestral wisdom, the physical nature is so disciplined that it becomes pliant to the will; the mind is so broadened and vivified that it educes dormant faculty and ranges over areas previously unknown; the spiritual nature secures uninterrupted action and harmonizes the whole being with the highest truth. Nothing is left to haphazard or to impulse. All parts are developed in accord with law, and the several faculties, fully ripened and in entire coordination, work without jar or an approach to friction. As wisdom and goodness together advance, cognate powers appear, and when the whole nature has reached the point of complete identification with the consciously-perceived scheme of the universe, it is at one therewith in knowledge, character, and function. Thus identified, it is an integral part. It has no discordant efforts, for its purposes are the same; it has no isolated interests, for it is one with the All; it has no risks from broken law, for it is fused with law. Possibilities of deflection are forever at an end. There is no danger of fracture, for not a spot is weak. Having been harmoniously developed in every department after the ideal mode, it is symmetrical and perfect. It exhibits the design of the Great Architect; it reflects His will. It has no need of salvation. There is nothing to be saved from. It is scientifically safe.

The Path