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self, if a necessary one, must have been caused again; and so we find ourselves, once more, stumbling up the ladder of an infinite series." There is no such conception as that of a self-agent necessitated. The two terms are contradictory and cancel each other. Such language is jargon, and no statement of thought.
It has been proved that the “ Original Power” is active from eternity. But if the original be a natural power, then this action must have been caused by something else, which proves itself, therefore, the true Original; but on the supposition that it also is physical, this one immediately surrenders his crown to another, and then that other to another still: and the last that we can see is, the insignia of royalty flying, with infinite speed, along an infinite line of powers; each one of them became a king and no king the same instant, and discrowned forever : The “infinite series " again.
There is no “ beginning" conceivable, then, in anything which is under necessity, or anywhere but in will, which, by its very idea and definition, is self-active. The will, being essentially intelligent, makes and chooses its own object, and originates its own action. So strictly is this true, that the instant you bring in any other “ cause,” you destroy personality. So plainly is this true, that there is no man so feeble as not to be conscious of doing some things, and of having a corresponding responsibility ; or so stupid as to believe himself answerable for what is not done by himself.
Since, therefore, the Power which originates all power, all substance, all phenomena and events, must be self-active, and since no powers are self-active but such as are of that kind which we call“ voluntary” or “ personal,” the absolute beginning can be found nowhere else but in a personal Author."
1 We have a clear conception of voluntary action, and a positive conscious. ness of originating it; and though this action, in us, finite and created beings, is put forth under close limitations, and upon a basis of occasions furnished to us, we readily understand that, with an eternal Spirit — the Original — no such constraints can exist, and no such basis be needed; but that his absolute intelligence must furnish objects at which his absolute will aims. Thus, though differing from us immensely, as infinite must from finite, and the original from things derivative, he does not so differ but that we find ourselves in his similitude, and call his action “voluntary," and call him a "Will," a "Person.”
But we are now ready to go a step further yet. We have already affirmed and proved that there can be no omnipresent unity save a personal one; also that there is no beginning save a personal one. We now affirm,
Thirdly : THAT THERE IS NO TRUE, STRICT UNITY, EVEN, THAT IS NOT PERSONAL. For,
a. Every natural force whatsoever may be supposed to be divided; must be viewed as divisible; and so, has no absolutely necessary unity.
The smallest particle of matter has its sides or circumference, which can be cut by a plane that, of the one, would make two. The thinnest and minutest lamina, that at any moment you can think of, may, the next moment, be logically and rationally imagined the base of a pyramid whose apex should be, by any desired ratio, smaller than the base. So much for physical force embodied in solidity. But its form makes no difference.
Think of it as fluent, and moving in that simplest of directions, a straight line. First, this is not a “mathematical" line, for it must have some thickness, since it has material substance. This line of power, then, can even be conceived of as split longitudinally, by a wedge from that pyramid, if you please; and, certainly, can be cut across.
But reduce your conception to the last degree of evanescence, which shall yet leave any real natural power. Conceive of its utmost concentration, viz. into the nearest ap. proximation in reality possible, to a “mathematical” point. This point is not a hard atom, but something else. We will not exact too great precision, a force, something. Still, it cannot be absolutely without extent; for then, as a physical force, it must be without being. Yet, if it be viewed as having extent, it must also be viewed as divisible. It has a north part, and a south part, an eastern half, and a western. But if divisible, then it has no essential, no necessary unity, since its unity is such as may, logically and rationally, be conceived as lost. It is impossible, then, to conceive of any merely physical power, as being essentially and necessarily one. Its unity, at any time, exists by chance,
merely; that is, by a temporary, and to us, uncertain and vague necessity, not by a necessity eternal and absolute.
But, let us even suppose, as the objector affirms, that the universe is at bottomí a mere physical force, and that this all is a unit. Then are all souls blended and lost in this necessary indestructible physical unity, and blended, not merely with one another, but with all matter also. And, since this unity is so absolute, we must go one step further, and affirm this : The whole physical force of the universe, (for it is eternally one and indivisible) is in each part in souls, as well as in atoms, and in each act, alike of matter and of mind. For, being essentially indivisible, it must be in each thing, in it all the time, and in all its motions, all these, again, not potentially, but actually. That is, all particular forces are actually and physically infinite, in mind as well as in matter; all powers are irresistibles, all resistances immovables; all momentum and all inertia, all intelligence and all stupidity, are alike infinite. No wonder, that, from the boundless crash and conflict of the tremendous forces of this “unity," wherein infinite meets infinite in reckless concussion, results of remarkable brilliancy should ensue. When such fint meets such steel, it must be that celestial fires are elicited. The existence of suns, and comets, and philosophers is a problem no longer.
On the whole, is it not sufficiently clear, that, whether we select any conceivable part of the physical universe, or view it entire, it is impossible to imagine any merely natural power to have in itself, and to be, an essentially indestructible unity? We think it is clear. But,
b. Every“ person" must be conceived of as essentially, necessarily, indestructibly, absolutely one.
That which says “I” cannot be divided, or be supposed
1 If the possibility of an eternal, physical unity could be proved, this unity could not be conceived of as originating the universe, because, by supposition having no other material than itself to make it of, and being itself an absolute, indestructible unity, it can neither make nor become a diversity. A spiritual Power, however, in its very idea, is one that “works undivided, operates unspent.” The substance of the soul is not diminished by living, nor the force of the will divided by willing. Vol. XIII. No. 50.
to be divided. (1) It cannot be divided in time.
(2) Nor in space. No man can think of himself as being partly in one place, and partly in another; but wherever he is, he is there.
(3) Nor into different kinds of things. The self is not dissected into sensation, knowledge, will; but it is the self itself which feels, knows, and chooses.
All the powers of the spirit, are powers which it possesses; and, however much they may diminish or change, the unity of the central, self-affirming, self-active agent is neither destroyed nor marred. It is not possible to conceive of this unity as not involved in the essential idea of “ person,” and of " spirit.” While the being lasts, this unity is necessary and indestructible, has no degrees, does not vary in different individuals, but is absolute in all.
We have already endeavored to show that there is no “ beginning" conceivable (for anything) save in a will. But even if we had been wrong there, we cannot be wrong in affirming,
Fourthly : THAT FOR THE UNIVERSE, AT LEAST, THERE IS NO CONCEIVABLE ORIGINAL, SAVE A PERSONAL AUTHOR.
Here is an immense system claimed, by the objector, to be altogether material, i. e. subject to the strict, perpetual operation of " cause and effect,” a combined movement of natural forces. There is no God, he claims, superior to the whole of all these parts. God, if such a term be proper, and the universe, are identical. Or, perhaps he refuses the term altogether, and says: there is no God, no spirit; matter is all, mind is but one of its operations. With such views, he proceeds to inquire for the origin of the universe, the great first cause.
In other words, having here an infinite chain, he is looking for a hook whereon he may hang it. Unless he find this, the whole falls, instantly, out of his sight. He must have a first cause, an original.
But is it not plain, that the original of the universe, is not in the universe; and that the cause must not be looked for among its effects ? that the chain cannot be hung on any one of its own links, or on them all together. If there is good sense or right reason, in this perpetual search of philosophy after the “one original,” then must that “one” be found outside of what we call the universe, outside, and above; anterior, in order of nature, certainly, and superior in essential dignity, in real power, and in comprehensiveness of being. Surely, the original of the universe is not wholly contained within it.
But it is equally clear, that you do not get out of this “ sphere of cause and effect,” until you have entered that of free-agency; you do not emerge from the natural, until you come to the spiritual. You have not escaped from matter, unless you have reached mind. In short, you have not got outside of the world, unless you find yourself in the presence of a personal cause, i. e. not “cause,” but author. You are still entangled in the interminable succession of cause and effect, until you see God.
SYLOGISMS. The "origin" of the world is out of the world. The world (the objector himself claims) is all a sphere of cause and effect. The "origin" of the world is out of the sphere of cause and effect. But free-agents are the only existences that are out of the sphere of cause and effect. The "origin" of the world, then, is a free agent.
Or again: The “beginning" cannot have been “ caused.” All action is caused, save that of " persons." The act of the beginning, then, was the act of a person.
OBJECTION. A single objection here demands a brief notice. It is said : " In proving the existence of God, you have but plunged into deeper embarrassments than ever; have escaped from one mystery, only to fall into a greater mystery. If the world needs to be accounted for, much more, God; and, if the universe without this incomprehensible being, furnishes a difficult problem, much greater does the difficulty become, when this new infinitude is added to the old."