Secrecy; its Uses and Abuses.—Mystery; its Definition.—Mysticism, and its Definition.
It is not true, as has been sometimes said, that wherever there is secrecy there is error.
Secrecy, like most all else, hath its uses and abuses: its uses, as developed in modesty and domestic virtue, in religious meditation, self-examination, and prayer, and in prudence in the affairs of life: its abuses, in prudery, asceticism, superstitious awe, undue veneration of power, and when used as a cloud to conceal crime so hideous that nothing but the truth of God, vindicated by human laws founded thereon, directed by wisdom, can dispel it.
Virtue and modesty shrink from public gaze. Each looks alone to its innate sense, the gift of God, and to the sole approval of the great "I AM."
The hidden sincere aspirations of the heart are known only to Him who "breathed into man the breath of life, and he became a living soul." These are a secret between the created being and its Almighty Father. At the lonely hour, when the burdened soul, knowing no earthly refuge from overwhelming troubles, but a mightier Hand than that of man, seeks on bended knee and with penitential tear, a blessing from on high, no word is spoken, no sound uttered save the sob from a contrite heart. The aspiration has gone forth inaudibly to Him who said to all mankind, then and for future ages, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
It is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward glancing of an eye
When none but God is near."
What knoweth the outer world of this? Yet wrong can not exist in such secret communion between a penitent heart and its Maker. Pure religious meditation, leading us from earth to heaven, is only promoted by secret study and reflection in solitude. Neither philosophy nor religion can be cultivated in the midst of the vortices of commerce or other business requiring constant intercourse with hundreds of men during the day, nor in the whirl of fashion in the evening.
Thus, then, do we trace one of the uses of secrecy. Both its use and its abuse we shall hereinafter find exemplified in marked effects not only on individual minds, but also on the masses of mankind in past history: its use, in the development of true piety: its abuse, in asceticism, superstition, and overweening spiritual power resulting in crimes, which were "a sin unto death." Another abuse of secrecy has been manifested in means heretofore employed in the constant effort to obtain and maintain worldly power. This was by affecting the imagination and blinding the reason of the masses. Some time ago, an ephemeral work was published, even the name of which is not recollected by this writer, wherein was a picture showing the section of a handsome tent with curtains closely drawn. Within, is a man eating and feasting like other mortals. Without, is a stand on which are exposed to view the usual emblems and insignia of royalty, before which there is a kneeling crowd....