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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Five - The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion
The early Fathers recognized this truth, and realized that the story written in the heavens had a definite relation to humanity and to the evolution of human souls. Clement of Alexandria tells us that "the path of souls to ascension lies through the twelve signs of the zodiac," and the church festivals today are based, not upon historical dates in connection with the outstanding religious figures to which they refer, but upon the times and the seasons. We saw how in the Birth at Bethlehem the date was fixed astronomically nearly four centuries after Christ was born. The combination of Virgo with the Star in the East (Sirius), and the Three Kings (symbolized by Orion's belt) was the determining factor. The Virgin was seen in the east, with the line of the horizon passing through her center, and this is one of the factors determining the doctrine of the Virgin birth. [184]

Another instance can here be given to illustrate the astronomical background of our Christian festivals. There are two festivals kept in the Roman Catholic and the higher Anglican Churches, called the Assumption of the Virgin and the Birth of the Virgin Mary. One is celebrated on August 15th and the other on September 8th. Each year, the sun can be seen entering the sign Virgo about the time of the Assumption, and the entire constellation is enveloped and lost to sight in the radiant glory of the sun. About September 8th the constellation Virgo can be seen slowly reappearing as it emerges from the rays of the sun. This is spoken of as the birth of the Virgin.

Easter Day is always decided astronomically. These facts warrant the most careful consideration. This information should be in the hands of all Christian people, because then and only then can they arrive at a full and clear understanding of what, in His cosmic nature, Christ came to Earth to do. That event was of far greater importance than simply bringing about the salvation of any individual human being. It signified far more than the basis of the belief of several million people in their heavenly future Christ's incarnation, apart from its historical value, and apart from the keynote which He sounded, marked the closing of a great cosmic cycle, but it marked also the opening of that door into the kingdom which had opened only occasionally theretofore, in order to permit the entrance of those sons of God who had triumphed over matter. After the advent of Christ, the door stood wide open for all time, and the kingdom of God began to form on Earth. In the long processes of time four great expressions of divine life, four forms of God immanent in nature, have appeared upon our planet. We call them the four kingdoms of nature. They constitute, symbolically, the planetary reflection of the four arms of the zodiacal cross upon which the cosmic Christ can be seen crucified. Down the ages human beings have symbolized the comic Christ immolated upon the cross of matter, and thus have perpetuated in the [185] consciousness of the race the knowledge of that event; so in a planetary sense, the four kingdoms of nature do the same, portraying the spirit of God stretched upon a cross of material form, in order eventually to make possible the appearance of the kingdom of God on Earth. This connotes the spiritualization of matter and form, the assumption of matter into heaven, and the release of God from the cosmic crucifixion. The poet, Joseph Plunkett, makes this beautifully clear in the following verses:

"I see His blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of His eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see His face in every flower,
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but His voice - and carven by His power
Rocks are His written words.

All pathways by His feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree."

- Quoted in The Testament of Man, by Arthur Stanley, p. 498.

The wonder of Christ's mission lay in the fact that, though He was one of a long continuity of perfected divine men, He had a unique function. He summed up in Himself and brought to a conclusion the symbolic presentation of God's eternal sacrifice upon the fixed cross of the heavens, to which the stars bear testimony and which the history of religion has so successfully veiled, and today refuses to recognize. The Heavenly Man is today pendant in the Heavens, as He has been since the creation of the solar system, and as Christ said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me," (St. John, XII, 32.) and not all men only, but eventually all forms of life in all kingdoms will render up their life, not as an imposed sacrifice, but as a willing offering to the [186] final glory of God. "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," (St. Matt., X, 39.) is a fact which is often forgotten and one which has a definite bearing upon the story of the crucifixion its wider implications. It is, however, through the achievement of the last of the manifesting kingdoms, the human, that the cross and its purpose is completed, and to this the death of Christ bears testimony.

But the important point is not His death, though that was climactic in the evolutionary process, but the subsequent Resurrection, symbolizing as it did the formation and the precipitation upon Earth of a new kingdom in which men and all forms would be free from death - a kingdom of which the Man released from the Cross should be the symbol. We thus complete the entire circle, from the Man in space, with arms outspread in the form of a cross, through the sequence of crucified Saviors, telling us again and again what God had done for the universe, until we arrive at the culminating Son of God Who carried the symbolism down on to the physical plane, in all its stages. He then rose from the dead to tell us that the long task of evolution had at last reached its final phase - if we so choose, and if we are ready to do as He did - pay the price, and, passing through the gates of death, attain to a joyful resurrection. St. Paul sought to bring this truth home to us, though his words have been so often distorted through translation and theological misinterpretation:

"I long to know Christ and the power which is in His resurrection, and to share in His suffering and die even as He died; in the hope that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. I do not say that I have already gained this knowledge or already reached perfection, but I press on." (Phil., III, 10, 11, Weymouth's Translation.)

It would not appear from this passage that St. Paul regarded it as sufficient to salvation that one should simply believe that Christ died for one's sins. [187]

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