Page images
PDF
EPUB

itself is in its essence the original and only being; or whether, again, in addition to the original element and out of it, constituted by its inner force, other essences and secondary beings have sprung into separate and partially independent existence. Here, we neither affirm nor deny; but, certainly, either in itself alone, or in itself and with its own products, achieved and achievable, this element constitutes the whole universe, present, past, future, possible. Either it is, or is and produces, the great whole. Thus, whatever theories we may adopt, this one fact remains sure : THERE IS AN ORIGINAL AND ETERNAL Power"; and all things not embraced within it, are of it.

We propose, now, carefully to examine this our conception, and to see what it logically and rationally involves. Possibly we may discover that what the mind believes to be eternal and real, it must also believe to be spiritual. Perhaps it will become evident to us, that the original power" can be none other than a personal God. We will advance slowly and with care; endeavoring to make every successive step to stand forth in light, looking at each successive proposition in its place and connection, until each, with the whole, becomes luminous. It is already clear:

IV. THAT THIS ORIGINAL POWER IS NOT DEPENDENT ON ANY OTHER POWER.

It was not created by any other, for it is original; nor sustained, for there was none to sustain it; nor limited, nor

1 The word "power" is used in two senses. In one, it refers to the capacity or potentiality residing in a substance, and is the name of an energy, or of energy, which may be put forth by that in which it inheres. Thus, various things are said to have” various powers. But, in its second meaning, this word refers to that unity of both substance and accident which constitutes being or reality, and is the name of something, or of any. thing, which asserts positive being. All such things are “powers.” Thus of the soul, it is properly said, when the body is yielding up the ghost:

“A power is passing from the earth.”

Again, each distinct material element is, it is, a “power,” a reality, i. e. a genuine substance and presence within the universe. “Power"-it is an appropriate name for all, and for any " being."

modified, nor qualified, nor in any way affected by anything else, for it was alone. It can not depend, for there is nothing outside of it on which it might depend. It is independent, then.

It is self-existent. Nothing makes or helps it exist, or in any way whatsoever, or in the slightest degree influences its existence. All that it needs, it is. All that can be had, it has. Self-existent, and self-sufficient, it is in the highest, widest, fullest sense, absolute.

V. THIS ETERNAL, ORIGINAL, INDEPENDENT, SELF-EXISTENT, ABSOLUTE Power IS NOT LIMITED.

We have already seen that, in itself and its possible outgoings, it is all that is real, all that is certain, and all that is possible. That is to say, its various kinds and species embrace all possible powers or existences; and there can be no form of power, which is not essentially involved and contained in this. There can be no being, whose integral original forces are not, from eternity, active or sleeping within the great original Force.

For example : We will take it for granted that light is a one pure elementary substance, or else one kind of action in some one substance. It is thus, or else it represents a certain definite pure power (substance). Certain effects it produces; others, it is not capable of producing. It can shine; it can cause opaque forms to be visible to the eye; but it can not carry a mill, like water; can not feed lungs, like air ; can not think, like the soul. Now this identical energy, whatever it be, resident in light, or rather constituting light, is, manifestly, either a part of the eternal Power, or a product of it. Its integral, original force, traced back, is found at last-there. The same is true in every existing element, substance, and action. The same is as true, also, of the things that will be, or the things that can be, as of the things that are or have been.

They are all parts, or else products, of the Eternal, whose possible activity, therefore, goes forth, from its centre, in all directions; the rays fill up the universal sphere, the sphere of possibility, and it makes that all solid with itself.

Whatsoever things, or forms or relations of things, may be reasonably supposed to be, are within its scope. Whatsoever things can be rationally talked about, the supposition of whose existence is not a contradiction, jargon, all such are contained within the sphere of the original Power; its range is the range of the possible; and so we may say, with truth,

(a) That in kinds and directions it is infinite. But more than this must be true ; for, clearly,

(b) In each kind and direction it is absolute. Whatsoever it is, it is unchecked. By supposition, there is nothing in being, that might put constraint upon it; and so it has the fullest liberty to act out itself, being wholly without limit, not only in its action as a whole, but in every distinct part, or kind of its action.

It is to be observed, however, that when we speak of "parts,” we speak of limitations. In saying, therefore, that in these “parts” it is unlimited, we must not be understood as affirming that there are limitations which have, severally, no limits; or, that there are particular, definite kinds of this power, which are all other kinds; or, that in these, the Original Power is in such a sense infinite, that it could give them an intensity that should surpass the original limitations of their nature and idea. To say this, would be mere jargon. Accordingly, if an objector should ask : “ Is the Original · infinite in each kind, in such a sense that it could have constituted light, e. g. so brilliant that a single pencil of it, no larger than a straw, would have clothed a world like ours with noon-day effulgence, and have awakened, in mere flesh and bones, in woody fibre, and in crystals, a faculty of vision?” it might be replied: We have no reason to believe that results like these belong to any degree of that action and power which we have named “light." A little reflection will make this very plain. For the sake of illustration, we will suppose that the “ Theory of Vibration” is the true one, though the particular theory chosen would make no difference with our argument. According to this hypothesis, the effects of light are produced by the vibration of a certain ethereal medium, and the medium thus vibrating

we call “light." It is apparent, now, as soon as stated, that, if the intensity of these vibrations be supposed to increase indefinitely, by and by the effects are changed, not in degree merely, but in nature; we have a different kind” of phenomena, and what was light, has become, we know not what, perhaps magnetism, heat, electricity, a something else; or, possibly, nothing perceivable by any human

sense.

When, therefore, we affirm that the Original is unlimited in this or in any particular “kind," we mean: That all the intensity of this particular energy, or substance, which is, in its nature and idea, possible or conceivable (and none higher is namable), all this is within the range of the sole real Original Power

So, when we say that the “ Original is, in all kinds and directions, absolute," we mean, obviously: That whatsoever kinds of power (substance) are, in the nature of things, possible, or, in other words, whatsoever kinds are rationally conceivable, the fulness and completeness of all those powers (substances) resides in the One which is original and selfexistent; and can be exercised, to any degree of intensity, up to the line dividing them, respectively, from other forms and kinds of substance - the crossing of which line would not be a heightening of degree, but a change of nature.

The truth of this statement is easily shown. For, in the first place, it is manifest that all the intensity of any substance (power) that has yet existed, is directly traceable to the sole Original ; and if any higher degree can, in the nature of things, possibly exist, it is because there is energy

in that which is the ground and origin of the “nature of things,” equal to the constituting that higher degree. But if no higher degree be, in the nature of things, possible, then it is because the substance (itself a part or limited product of the Original) is, in its own idea and nature, exactly so defined that it cannot even be supposed capable of increase without a contradiction. To ask that a certain specific product of the Original, which is that specific thing by virtue of being

from any

limited to a degrees of a certain kind of energy, or form, should manifest x+y degrees, is saying—nothing.

The proposition (b) holds good, then, of all kinds and directions of power; and, in every one, the Original is un. limited, is absolute.

But (c) the original power is infinite in extent, or space; that is to say, it is "omnipresent.”

There is the same reason for its presence in any one place as in any other; and no reason for supposing it excluded

For even if it have a centre, in any sense, there is no possible supposable obstacle to its extension more than to any kind of its action. It must be everywhere absolute, since at no point is there anything to oppose it. Moreover, in the beginning, no place can be selected as its possible centre, since every other place has as good a claim as that. Its" centre must be everywhere, and its circumference nowhere." But let us meditate somewhat further.

It is objected, we will suppose, that, perhaps, this power has a law within itself, according to which the intensity of its energy and action diminishes from some particular centre. It may diminish, too, in a finite series, and so come to an end; or, fading away infinitely, may at last approach infinitely near to nothingness, and be inefficient.

Answer. If this be so, you cannot think it is so; for you can have no reason for so thinking; and thought without reason in it is no thought. You can have no reason, for all space is the same utter desert until the original power has made one part to differ from another; and you have no right to assume that there is a difference when there is no possible cause or reason for a difference. The propositionThere is an eternal, absolute, infinite Being - is just as good for any other place, as for that in which you stand to affirm it. Why not? Does it grow weaker by travelling? In climbing the heights, does it faint ? Or in sounding the depths, is it lost? What has any supposed position to do

1 The power which is absolute, both in kind and in degree, is properly called “ Almighty.”

« PreviousContinue »