Now, let us, with regard to our thoughts of God, realise that there are two lines towards knowledge. The first is the way of the intellect, which deals with metaphysics, which deals with philosophy, which gradually lifts a man out of superstition, out of narrowness, out of ignorance, and carries him as far as human intellect can go. Along those lines exercise your intellect, think your best, but remember, that it is written that not by intellect shall the Self be found, and the path of realisation is not the path of the intellect. It is the path of the conquered senses, of the conquered mind, when in the “quietude of the senses and the tranquillity of the mind, the man beholds the glory of the Self”. That is realisation: that is the only knowledge: that is Eternal Life. By the intellect we reach the highest philosophy, and let none dare to despise philosophy, which rises up to peaks of knowledge, which are the glory of the human race. But, on the other hand, remember that it is the pure in heart who see God. It is the conquest of the lower nature which enables us to breathe the air in which the higher nature lives; and not by intellectual research, not even by devotion itself, but by sinking into the depths of your own being, by searching within, there where the Self abides; by casting aside everything that changes; by saying to the senses: “You are not I”; by saying to the mind: “You are not I”; by saying to the highest intelligence: “You are not I”; in the silence, where the mind has naught to say; in the silence, where the senses are not heard; in the depths of yourself, one with the Supreme Self; there, and there only, shall you realise that you yourself are one with the Self Universal. A hard path, a difficult path, the outcome of the practice of lives of self-abnegation and of service; but once you have realised God, you can never doubt again. An intellectual argument may be overthrown by keener logic, by larger grasp of facts; but the man who once has seen the Face of God, he never again can doubt that God is, that God is All. That is the Self-realisation of the Mystic. That is the triumph, not of the intellect but of the Spirit; then the Spirit which is Divine recognises its kinship with the Spirit Omnipresent, and when once, as I have said before, you have found God within yourself, then, and only then, will you find Him in every one in everything, around you. That is the triumph of the Spirit. That is the Peace of the ETERNAL.
And now, let us turn to man’s conceptions of God, and see how they have changed. And, in doing this, friends, let us seek for the kernel of truth which underlies even mistaken beliefs; for, man is so constituted that no error can hold him long in bondage save by the truth that that error conceals. Just as you may have the husk, the shell, and the kernel within it, so in every error that dominates mankind there is a kernel of truth that gives it its nutritive power. Only when you recognise the kernel of truth will you be able to convince a man of the husk of error.
Now, looking back to early times in our race, we find what is called Polytheism; and that you practically find everywhere. You find it very very strongly in the first half of the Hebrew _Old Testament_, as is called the Hebrew part of the Christian Bible. If you read that, what is the God that you find? Clearly, a God of limited power, a God of limited knowledge, what in the talk, the jargon, of the day is called a “tribal God”. In the early story told by the Hebrews, the conception of God is very limited. You find Him “walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” and calling out to the man he had created: “Adam, where art thou?” You find him a little later–when men have multiplied and begun to build a tower which in their ignorance they think will reach up to heaven–saying; “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” For “now nothing,” he said, “will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”. And so, we read, that “the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded,” and he confused the speech of the builders, so that they were scattered abroad and could not build their tower. And the Babel of Tongues is a phrase in English, because it was the Tower of Babel from which all the languages on earth originated! You find him again with his chosen people, the children of Abraham, leading them into the land he gives them; and then you come across the remarkable statement that “the Lord was with Judah,” one of the tribes, and he drove out all “the inhabitants of the mountain, but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron”. You see at once that you are in the realm of a very limited kind of tribal God. Of course, I know that in the days when the Bible was regarded as verbally inspired, as God’s Word, they said these statements were an accommodation to the ignorance of man; but that is only the desperate effort of the believer in verbal inspiration to infuse the knowledge of later days into the form of ancient fables. You and I recognise at once that where thoughtful Christians are concerned, these are to them old ideas, that you have here the local God, the tribal God, and that the God of the Hebrews of the early days does not claim to be the only God, but only the chief one, the chief for his own nation: “Who among the Gods is like unto Thee, O Jehovah!” That is the position of the Hebrews, and they have their own National God. To go away from him is treachery to the State. To disbelieve in him is punishable with death, because it is treason to the Nation, and such punishment was not so much regarded as a religious persecution as a State penalty. As a State and social sanction, the worship of Yahveh was maintained among the Hebrews; it was the State, the National, Religion. He conquered the Gods of the Philistines, He fought with the Gods of all the other people round about, each with their own God.