The preface, although somewhat intricate, is pretty straightforward and is actually something of a bold manifesto for social, religious and intellectual reform. She is essentially arguing against a dogmatism that has created a separation between faith and reason, exemplified by the conflict between religion and science.
She argues that spiritual realities and phenomena are not outside of nature and do not depend on blind faith, but rather can be explained according to laws of nature, which modern science has not yet adequately understood. The reality of powers latent in each human soul is the fundamental principle explaining the essential spiritual reality or God, because it demonstrates one’s transcendent nature and this individual transcendent nature is linked to the absolute transcendent reality like a drop of water to an ocean.
She proposes to present a kind of perennial esoteric scientific philosophy, the Universal Wisdom-Religion or Hermetism as the solution to harmonizing and blending the spiritual with the material, faith and reason, religion and science. Moreover, a study and positive appreciation of ancient traditions of culture and knowledge to assist in this endeavour will be an important tool. To justify these claims, she clearly relates her acquaintance with Eastern adepts who have demonstrated and taught these notions to her.
Our work, then, is a plea for the recognition of the Hermetic philosophy, the anciently universal Wisdom-Religion, as the only possible key to the Absolute in science and theology
She boldly declares her intention to question, challenge and critique many of the dogmas, beliefs, and values of the time and is very aware of the opposition and controversy that this endeavour will provoke and even names the likely sources:
4-Broad Churchman and Free Thinkers
5- Men of Letter and Authorities
6- The Press
She concludes her preface with an optimistically combative statement, which however ends with a stern paraphrase of the roman gladiators salute:
”The contest now going on between the party of public conscience and the party of reaction, has already developed a healthier tone of thought. It will hardly fail to result ultimately in the overthrow of error and the triumph of Truth. We repeat again — we are laboring for the brighter morrow.
And yet, when we consider the bitter opposition that we are called upon to face, who is better entitled than we upon entering the arena to write upon our shield the hail of the Roman gladiator to Caesar: MORITURUS TE SALUTAT!”
For a good overview of the intense socio-religious ferment that Blavatsky is referring to, the following provide good references: