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In the next place, whatever view we may entertain of the Darwinian hypothesis and the relation of man to the lower animals, there can be no doubt that they are all of a similar physical construction. What physiologists term the matter of life is very much the same in all, so that the body of any one animal may in general afford food for any other. Now, is it likely that there are two living systems, absolutely distinct and as different from one another as we can well imagine, both connected with the visible universe?
We think this view would imply such a want of unity in the plan of development as to be absolutely fatal to its reception, even as a working hypothesis. On these accounts, therefore, we do not hesitate to dismiss the conception of a superior order of beings connected with the present physical universe as one which is altogether untenable.
189. If we now turn from the verdict of science to the sacred writings of the Jews, we find that one grand idea which pervades the whole of the Old Testament is man's absolute superiority and practical sovereignty over all created beings whom he can perceive otherwise than with the mind's eye.
He is supreme, or it is part of his work on earth to become supreme, over all that can be perceived by his senses, i.e. all the visible and tangible world. Thus we read in Gen. i. 28: 'And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.'
Again, we read (Psalm viii. 5, 6): 'For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.' [It appears that the correct reading of the first part of this is, 'Thou hast made him little less than divine,' etc.]
190. It is worthy of note that the same idea is still more fully developed in the New Testament, where it is confessed that, in one very important respect, this superiority of man is seen to fail.
He has greatly enlarged his powers over nature, and has by these means much ameliorated the condition of his race; yet death overtakes him just as remorselessly and as ruthlessly as if he were a savage of no account. He may meet death fearlessly, conscious that he has at least done something for the good of his fellows. But what does it all amount to? Death will ultimately overtake the race just as remorselessly as the individual. Now it is this fearful enemy, this terrible exception to the domination of man, which Christ, as the Son and type of man, is commissioned to destroy. Thus we read (1 Cor. xv. 25): 'For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet.' And presently (verse 54) the apostle breaks forth into the following triumphant and beautiful language:— 'So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.' Again we read (Heb. ii. 8): 'For in that he put all in subjection
under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him: but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.' [Here again it appears that instead of the phrase 'made a little lower than the angels,' we should read, 'made for a little time lower than the angels'—i.e. an idea identical in meaning with the phrase 'made under the law,' the Old Testament law being viewed as administered by angels. From this dispensation, in which cosmical powers come between man and God, Christ frees us, by himself for a little time entering into it, and even under it meeting death.]
191. From all this we may conclude that both science and religion tell us the same tale. They inform us that man, and beings similar to man, are at the head of the visible universe. No doubt religion informs us, in addition to this, that there are other beings above man, but these do not live in the visible universe, but in that which is unseen and eternal.
THE UNSEEN UNIVERSE.
‘For I reckon, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.'-ST. PAUL (Rom. viii. 18, 19).
'Rabbi Jacob said, "This world is as it were the anteroom of the world to come. Prepare thyself in the anteroom so that thou mayest be fit to enter the banquet-room."-Mishna, Pirke Aboth, chap. iv. par. 16.
⚫ Eternal process moving on
From state to state the spirit walks,
192. IN the preceding chapters we have examined by the light of our present knowledge the possibilities contained in the visible universe. What is it good for in the way of possible immortality? is the question we have tried to answer. It will have been seen that the reply is eminently unfavourable. If we take the individual man to begin with, we find that he lives his short tale of years, and that then the visible machinery which connects him with the past, as well as that which enables him to act in the present, falls into ruin and is brought to an end. If any germ or potentiality remains, it is certainly not connected with the visible order of things.
If we next consider the human race we find that the state of advancement to which they have attained is in many respects greatly due to their physical surroundings. Coal and iron have been as instrumental in promoting knowledge as Galileo and Newton, but our whole stock of these materials will come to an end. By economy it may be possible to lengthen out the period during which they can be supplied, but is it not manifest that we are year by year exhausting them as sources of available energy ?
Are we not inevitably led to conclude that our present state cannot last even for a lengthened period, but will be brought to an end long before the inevitable dissipation of energy shall have rendered our earth unfit for habitation?
193. But even supposing that man, in some form, is permitted to remain on the earth for a long series of years, we merely lengthen out the period, but we cannot escape the final catastrophe. The earth will gradually lose its energy of rotation, as well as that of revolution round the sun. The sun himself will wax dim and become useless as a source of energy, until at last the favourable conditions of the present solar system will have quite disappeared.
But what happens to our system will happen likewise to the whole visible universe (Art. 116), which will, if finite, become in time a lifeless mass, if indeed it be not doomed to utter dissolution. In fine, it will become old and effete, no less truly than the individual-it is a glorious garment this visible universe, but not an immortal one—we must look elsewhere if we are to be clothed with immortality as with a garment.