If we compare these sentences with those from Rudolf Steiner's later life, the sentences that bear the title: Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, we find the alteration, the remodeling, the spiritual meaning of this early essay by Rudolf Steiner. We then see how the sensual-perceptible world is an image, just the work, of the divine being, a world that isn't alive anymore. In this world the human being lives as a being that still can have the divine permeation in his intelligence. An image of a cosmos appears that is completely lifeless and without any divine permeation, but in this cosmos a human being is living who is permeated with God and who can bring this divine life in a living relationship with the cosmos. This is exactly the spiritualisation of the thoughts in the early essay that we are discussing here: Only Possible Critique of the Atomistic Concepts, from 1882. The sensual objects are forms that appear outwardly; the original living divine spiritual intelligence is there inwardly in the human being, although in a shaded form. Michael gives the power to grasp these shaded thoughts in their original living way. Through this, Life is given back to the cosmos, the earth, nature. By seeing the reality in the object, one is diverted to Ahriman.By seeing reality in the concept, in the idea, one will find Michael, the 'fiery Prince of Thought'.
Quote from: Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts, The Activity of Michael and the Future of Mankind:
'Nature is this divinely accomplished work of God; Nature everywhere around us is an image of the Divine Working.In this world of sun-like Divine glory, but no longer livingly Divine, man dwells. Yet as a result of Michael's working upon him man has maintained his connection with the essential Being of the Divine and Spiritual. He lives as a being permeated by God in a world that is no longer permeated by God.Into this world that has become empty of God, man will carry what is in him — what his being has become in this present age.
'Humanity will evolve into a new world-evolution. The Divine and Spiritual from which man originates can become the cosmically expanding Human Being, radiating with a new light through the Cosmos which now exists only as an image of the Divine and Spiritual.The Divine Being which will thus shine forth through Humanity will no longer be the same Divine Being which was once the Cosmos. In its passage through Humanity the Divine-Spiritual will come to a realisation of being which it could not manifest before.
‘The Ahrimanic Powers try to prevent evolution from taking the course here described. It is not their will that the original Divine-Spiritual Powers should illumine the Universe in its further course. They want the cosmic intellectuality which they themselves have absorbed to radiate through the whole of the new Cosmos, and in this intellectualised and Ahrimanised Cosmos they want man to live on.
'Were he to live such a life man would lose Christ. For Christ came into the world with an Intellectuality that is still of the very same essence as once lived in the Divine Spiritual, when the Divine-Spiritual in its own Being still informed the Cosmos. But if at the present time we speak in such a manner that our thoughts can also be the thoughts of Christ, we set over against the Ahrimanic Powers something which can save us from succumbing to them.'
Michael by Rogier van der Weyden (1400 - 1464), Beaune, Hôtel-Dieu.