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Chapter 26 - Cyrenius' friendly response to Roklus. The reasons for the decline of the priesthood.
26,1. Hereupon Cyrenius turns to Roklus again and says: "Now listen, my friend, I have thoroughly thought about everything I heard from you and have deliberated back and forth; I have found your reasons quite true and convincing and cannot do otherwise but tell you that you are right in many aspects, but still not in all because, despite all your healthy views, your flaw is excessive zeal and you throw out the baby with the bath water; you base your judgments on the present and build a structure that does not have a solid base, stands on sand and can be easily destroyed by storms.
26,2. It is quite true that the priests, especially the high ones, are in most cases extremely power-hungry and are therefore, in most cases, heartless people and the minor priests must dance to their tune most times, especially the ones who have to hold office in the immediate vicinity of the great and high ones; but things are not so vacuous and a pure fraud, as you imagine and assume!
26,3. Think about the difference in language between now and the distant past! Thousand years ago one spoke in pictures and relevant parables. The entire language was true poetry, for which reason ancient people wrote everything in verses and generally talked like that with each other; the so-called wretched prose only appeared when people went over into the purely materialistic life of the flesh in a basically corrupted way.
26,4. Thus, the old prophets and seers may have described and showed to the people the true and right God, and the first people certainly understood them better than we understand them now; but by strictly abiding the known wisest commandments of God at that time the first descendants achieved great affluence. This soon made them wanton, sensualistic and mean. Soon enough such people had nothing more to do with figurative spiritual language and soon after they did not understand the language of the old prophets and seers at all.
26,5. People started to stick to the meaning of letters, which does not animate, but only kills, and in this manner they lost the light core of truth. Except for two among us, none of us, as we are here, knew anything about an inner, spiritual sense for the truth, and everything we heard from all the seers and oracles seemed to us, as it did to you, bare foolery. But the two, who are also among us, and especially one of them, have disabused us and showed us how downright terribly wrong we had misunderstood the old seers and prophets.
26,6. From such wrong insights had to finally stem completely wrong life principles, and from those other myriads of fooleries; in the end the teachings about god could not have a better face than everything else man did and achieved.
26,7. But because mankind became quite bleary in its inner spiritual life sphere and must have felt completely abandoned by the higher, godly spiritual influences, selfishness started to grow, shielded itself, sensed all enemies and armed itself against their possible attack with outer weapons, like a man caught by night in the woods, who for fear of any hostile creatures, mobilizes everything possible in order to prepare a defense against his assumed enemies, wanting to encroach upon him.
26,8. Yes, many a man takes his fear so far that he completely annuls the possible existence of a creature friendly to him, shuts himself off from everyone, and is a perfect miser, who snatches up everything for his protection and does not allow anyone to come up next to him! He surrounds his house with high and thick walls, locks his treasures in iron coffins and on top of that often buries them underground, usually in a place that is hardly ever treaded by people.
26,9. In such a condition man also often becomes power-greedy, surrounds himself with all sorts of might and seeks in the most relentless way to appropriate everything for fear of ever having to have too little.
26,10. Go and ask such a real miser for whom he snatches up everything, as he himself cannot in a thousand years consume what he saved up. He will immediately regard you as his archenemy and will certainly not answer you or talk to you. Priests in particular are like that, especially in spiritual respect.
26,11. They are in possession of the old prophetic deliverances and read and follow them most of all; but by that in most cases they also get first into a dense forest full of darkness and doubts from which they cannot ever find their way out. But because they are already priests, before the people they must give the impression through some foolish pomp that they know and understand something; however, they do not know and understand anything, except - but that, only most secretly for themselves - that they totally do not know, understand and sense anything!
26,12. Therefore they spend their time on how to ever more effectively hide their complete ignorance from the people and how they can best fool them; that is not too difficult a task for the priests who have brought it so far with their thinking, that they do not know anything for themselves - which takes a lot in itself.
26,13. Through an approximation some surely enough often come to a light of the right kind; but because of the once confused people, they cannot knock over the once built structure, which unfortunately is full of deception and lies. They must float with the current and at the most keep the better conviction very secretly to themselves.
26,14. Believe me for sure that there are among the priests of whatever theology men who know their completely false teachings all too well and who have knowledge of one, true god, whom they follow completely in their hearts; but they still cannot once and for all change anything in the old, wrong structure! They patiently leave it to the One who has the power to knock over the temples of deception at His convenience and when He thinks it appropriate. He will know best, why He allowed the building of all sorts of temples for false gods and idols and their fortification through walls and swords!
26,15. If you consider it carefully, it must begin to dawn on you a little that with all your sagacity and all your numerous experiences as a complete atheist all your mentioned reasons are not absolutely correct and you are still very far away from the pure, inner truth!
26,16. It is your turn again to justify yourself, as you like and can. We face each other as friends now and you are granted free speech without the slightest penalty! You can speak out on how you feel completely openly and I will not endeavor to bring you on the right path through word, advice and deed as a first authority bearer of Rome or as a chief justice, but as a man and brother! If, however, you do not want that, you can at your freest will betake yourself from here and move on unhindered wherever you like and want! I will feel sorry to let you leave in your illusion; nevertheless, due to your sagacity that I respect, you will never be coerced by me in the least. - So speak to me, your friend, completely openly and freely!"
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