Page images
PDF
EPUB

b. It is not divided in space; for it is omnipresent (p.395) and there are no intervals, that might serve as divisions between parts, and no external agencies, to cause separations.?

c. There is no division in kind ; that is to say, no separation of inherent qualities; for it everywhere contains all kinds, and embraces all qualities. It is all everywhere. The fact that an apparent separation of qualities has taken place, so that “gravitation” is found here, in stones, and appetite there, in animals, and yonder, nothing at all; so that, in one place all the attributes of matter embodied, and in another, the attributes of mind, and in a third, no sensible attributes of anything, does not prove, surely, any inherent loss at any point of space. The other kinds of power may be latent, when not evident to sense ; and the potentiality may remain where the actuality is, to human experience, wanting. The gold in your right hand may be but an apparition to sense of that one substance, which has also taken the form of silver, in your left hand, of carbon, in your diamond ring, and of oxygen in the air you breathe ; and, since originally all these qualities were potentially omnipresent, we have no right — having no reason — to say that they are inherently absent anywhere now.

There is, manifestly, no possible reason for believing that, in the beginning, there was any difference between the kinds of power present in different parts of space. That which is self-existent, is one and the same, since there cannot be two self-existent, i. e. absolutely independent, powers. But the power that is anywhere present “in the beginning,” is selfexistent; and so everywhere the same. Again, being selfexistent, absolute, it is immutable, and so always the same; never anywhere changed in its kind, but eternally embracing

If, in process of development, it have now resolved itself into parts, even this is in accordance with its own law, and by virtue of it; and is but a preservation of its immutability and identity (or oneness) of nature. Although it is apparently divided into parts, there are only divisions in certain respects or particulars, and these phenomenal; while, in other respects, and fundamentally, it is still itself, and the unity must be supposed to continue.

all possible kinds. Besides, by our very supposition, it is one, for we are “philosophizing" here, and trying to account for the universe. Any one then who, in such connection, denies this unity, forgets himself, loses the thread of his own thought, drops into confusion, and talks incoherently. It is sufficiently apparent, therefore, that we at least, can not rationally refuse to say that the original Power is one.

Here, however, an objection comes in. A doubter rises and declares: There is no Eternal Being, but the universe is an endless "flux,” a flux aimless and without method, other than that of necessity, having no reason for it or in it, so that there can be no rationale of it, and no philosophy.

The “universe is a flowing!” But what flows ? Underneath this appearance, there is something appearing; an apparent, evident something, is there not? “ Flux” is not substance, but the act or state of a substance and which indicates and proves its real and positive being. “ The universe is a changing," you say. A changing then of something. Of what thing? What, but of that eternal original, which through all these changes remains, and upholds each successive appearance. The forms come and go; they have their beginnings and their endings; they pass away and cease to be; but the original substance abides. It begins not; it ends not; in all changes, is unchanged; but endures, in eternal action immutable, and immutably creating and sustaining mutation.

Ah! but the universe in an Infinite Series,says another.

This is but the same objection in other words. Is the " series,” we ask, made of nothing? Then it is “nothing." But if, of something, then, of what?

It is acknowledged that the present universe is real; but then, this, it is affirmed, is the product of that which existed before it, which again sprung from another older still; and so on, forever and forever.

1 This unity is, in truth, higher and more absolute than has yet been distinguishingly affirmed. This we shall have occasion more particularly to unfold hereafter ; but, for the present, are content with justifying our use of terms in speaking of “the Power.”

Now, manifestly, these several universes are either forms of one substance which abides eternally, and takes these shapes in succession, or else each new form is not merely new in shape and condition, but new in its very substance. Then, on the last-mentioned hypothesis, supposing that we are able to distinguish the generations one from another, we have the following philosophy of the universe. 6 There was a universe in being, a thousand (or any other number of) years ago. That universe ceased. In ceasing, however, it created, out of new substance, another universe, also endowed with creative power. This second universe, in its turn, dies, and in dying, it creates a third, and so on. The substance is new every time. These births and deaths have always been taking place, and will always continue.”

Now, manifestly, this very statement itself asserts the re. ality of an eternal power, an omnipresent energy, inherent in all these successive forms, and by virtue of which it is possi. ble for them to come thus in an unbroken series, each one creating its successor. And this power is a most substantial being, exalted above all conditions of time and place, a reality that no death or change can approach, but which itself originates all endings as well as all beginnings. Thus, this theory of an infinite series is itself an affirmation-infelicitous, indeed, to awkwardness of the reality of that which it tries to deny.

Or again: There is a “series," it is said. This series, then, has a law which makes it a “series;" by virtue of which it is an order, and not a mere chaos of heterogeneity. But this law," is the mode or condition of some substance; the method in which the substance acts, or is. Since, too, the series is from everlasting, its law is from everlasting. And since the law is eternal, the substance of which it is the mode is eternal, and there is an " ETERNAL POWER” in the universe.

When last we halted in our ascent, and, lifting our eyes from the uncouth and somewhat rugged path of our argument, essayed to look about us, we found ourselves in the midst of an infinite darkness and stillness. There was no

sound, no motion, no thing, no sensible action. Only one word breathed itself to the soul, not articulated without, but rising like an enchantment within the spirit, and whither. soever we turned in our thought, it smote upon us with its unseen stroke. Power ! everywhere, Power ! eternally, Power! Power original, absolute, omnipresent, immutable. But we have now mounted higher up; and the utter darkness has broken away, and forms and sounds, and motions are seen. Action is begun; nay, it has always been begun, and is seen to be from everlasting. How, then, do we now image the universe to our minds; and as we pause to view and contemplate, what do we see? We see the manifestation of the power. In what? We know not in what particulars; for we are not able, beginning with the great original, to trace down its operations in all successions, gradations, and development; and we are especially ignorant concerning those which stand early and earliest in the series. The original methods of the Eternal one, remain to us an unfathomable mystery; and, were we to seek to picture within our minds, that beginning in which this visible universe, or any region of it, first stood forth a reality, we could, at best, only image it in symbols; our science is incompetent to furnish us with the facts. We only know, that, in its glorious progression and everlasting changing, as in its mysterious beginning, a presence, immutable and eternal, abides, the element of all substance, the spring of all action. In all visible glories, in all that wonder and majesty, which eye cannot see nor ear hear, and which the intellect but feebly grasps, and the heart is too faint to feel; in all, we see but the manifestation of the eternal activity of the POWER. It is an omnipresent sea, lifting its waves, ever, amid the darkness, and these visible things are but the shining foam with which they break into view and disappear. Wide all around, unto an illimitable extent everyway, their lamenting voices rise; the moaning of the infinite element of this shoreless ocean, as it mourns, in eternal blindness and senselessness, from everlasting to everlasting; moved by necessity, and, in dreary monotone without ceasing, raising its unconscious elemental cry; moaning as it works on endlessly.

We have now attained the materialist's conception of God.

This great, eternal, absolute, unreasoning Power, is his “ God.” He believes in a “power,” not in a “spirit;” in a force, not in a benevolent and intelligent Will. Nature stands, with him, in place of Deity; Nature, working with interminable succession of cause and effect, worked by an invincible Necessity, the embodiment of force and fate; Nature, driving her million orbs and her ceaseless combination and dissolution of elements; driving and grinding on with her boundless inquiry, without rest from age to age, and from everlasting to everlasting ; Nature, immense, dumb, pitiless, senseless NATURE is his God.

He looks into the skies at night. Who is it, that "stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in?” He replies : It is the law of gravitation, and other unknown laws. He gazes upon the stormy sea, “when the deep utters his voice, and lifts up his hands on high.” Who is it that "ruleth the raging of the sea, when the waves thereof arise?“ It is the principles of hydrostatics and of aerial pressure.” Or, he turns his gaze inward, and looks upon the wonder of the soul. What is this, which thinks, which loves so tenderly, and rules in this mystery of the will ? “ Oh, this! It is a very curious effect of atomical combination : this is the most ethereal of all the forms of matter!” And so on, through the whole realm of things visible or known, he finds only the operations of nature, only the hand of necessity.

It is the same, also, in the experience of life. When sickness comes, it comes not under the supervision of any wise and kind Providence, but merely according to certain natural and necessary laws, and is but the working of the original energies of matter. When death enters his home, and the beautiful and the gentle one, whom he dearly loved, lies pale and cold, he hears no Father's voice speaking to him, feels no Father's hand laid on him, in admonition or reproof; and of the consolation which the Spirit, the Comforter, gives, he knows nothing. It is the deed of Fate. He gazes, in bitterness, on this work of the pitiless powers. In utter

« PreviousContinue »