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Again, (o) is developed out of (1); (1) is developed out of (2); (2) out of (3); (3) out of (4), and so on. Further, (1) both precedes and follows (o) in point of duration, while (2) bears a similar relation to (1), (3) to (2), and so on.
Again, the material substance of (o) is a phenomenon of that of (1), that of (1) a phenomenon of
that of(2), and so on. Go back as far as we choose, we are only led from one phenomenon to another; so that, as far as their essential nature is concerned, all are equally phenomenal, and the mind cannot repose in any order as its ultimate haven of thought, but is driven inexorably forward to look for some thing different.
We see too, that, as far as energy is concerned, that of (1) is greater than that of (o), inasmuch as (1) develops (o), that of (2) greater than that of (1), inasmuch as (2) develops (1), and so on. Therefore, if we go infinitely far back, we shall be led to a universe possessing infinite energy, and of which the intelligent developing agency possesses infinite energy.
It will also be seen that, inasmuch as all these various orders exist together at the present moment, the energy of their sum must be infinite, and this energy will never come to an end. In other words, the Great Whole is infinite in energy, and will last from eternity to eternity.
[If merely to prevent, in future, the possibility of a mistake which has already been made by some of our critics, including even Professor Clifford, it may be well to sketch here very briefly another and quite different concrete illustration of our idea.
Just as points are the terminations of lines, lines the boundaries of surfaces, and surfaces the boundaries of portions of space of three dimensions :—so we may suppose our (essentially three-dimensional, matter to be the mere skin or boundary of an Unseen whose matter has four dimensions. And, just as there is a peculiar molecular difference between the surfacefilm and the rest of a mass of liquid—wherever such a surface-film exists, even in the smallest air-bubble
-so the matter of our present universe may be regarded as produced by mere rents or cracks in that of the Unseen. But this may itself consist of fourdimension boundaries of the five-dimensional matter of a higher Unseen, and so on. We might even try
to explain by this how it is that so very little of the nature of definite description of the Unseen is given, even by a learned man like Paul—for the notion of four dimensions would have been totally unintelligible to any one eighteen hundred years ago. And just as he says he heard in the third heaven 'unspeakable words which it is not possible for a man to utter,' so he may have seen things which language was incompetent to describe. But on this hypothesis, as on the former, reflection leads us to the ultimate conception of an infinite series of Universes, each depending on another, and possessing of course among them an infinite store of energy.]
Before concluding this article we would desire to reply to two objections which have been made to our book. It has been alleged by some that we advocate the doctrine of the past eternity of stuff or material. We therefore take this opportunity of stating that the Principle of Continuity as upheld by us has reference solely to the intellectual faculties. We are led, for instance, by this principle to assert that the process of production of the visible universe must have been of such a nature as to be comprehensible more or less to the higher intelligences of the universe.
But we are not led to assert the eternity of stuff or inatter, for that would denote an unauthorised application to the invisible universe of the experimental law of the conservation of matter, which belongs entirely to the present system of things. Again, it has been objected that we advocate an ethereal future state. To this we reply that our principles do not lead us to assert that the ether must play some important part in our future bodies, for our knowledge of things is vastly too limited to enable us to come to any such conclusion.
221. Let us here pause for a moment and consider the position into which science has brought us. We are led by scientific logic to an unseen, and by scientific analogy to the spirituality of this unseen. In fine, our conclusion is, that the visible universe has been developed by an intelligence resident in the Unseen.
Of the nature of this intelligent agency we are profoundly ignorant as far as Science is concerned. So far as Science can inform us, it may consist of a ultitude of beings, as the Gnostics have supposed, or of one Supreme Intelligence, as is generally believed by the followers of Christ. As scientific men we are absolutely ignorant of the subject. Nor can we easily conceive information to be attainable except by means of some trustworthy communication between the beings resident in the Unseen and ourselves. It is absolutely and utterly hopeless to expect any light on this point from mere scientific reasoning. Can scientific reasoning tell us what kind of life we shall find in the interior of Africa, or in New Guinea, or at the North Pole, before explorers have been there, and if this be so, is it not utterly absurd to imagine that we can know anything regarding the spiritual inhabitants of the unseen, unless we either go to them or they come to us?
It is therefore of supreme importance for us to know whether there has been any such communication. It would be affectation in us not to say that if
1 One of our religious' critics quotes this sentence as a confession that the authors are absolutely ignorant of theology !!
there be any such trustworthy communication, we believe it will be found in the Christian records.
It has been said to us by our critics, “What have you to do with these records ?' To this we reply, Not perhaps so much as a professed theologian, but still something
There is a well-known record, which claims to give us the history of a communication with the spiritual intelligences of the unseen. If true, it must of course teach us many things which science is utterly incompetent to reveal. Nevertheless it is the object of this book to prove that science alone gives us by logic and analogy combined a certain insight into this most interesting and mysterious region. Working our way upwards, we have reached by the principle of Continuity certain regions. Working their way downwards, the Christian records have reached these same regions of thought. Now if our scientific logic be correct, and if the Christian records be trustworthy, we should expect the two accounts of this common region to be consistent with one another.
Let us here therefore inquire what the Christian records say regarding this mysterious, infinitely energetic, intelligent developing agency residing in the universe, and therefore in some sense conditioned, to which we have been led by scientific analogy.
222. These records, as they are interpreted by the majority of the disciples of Christ, are believed to lead to a conception of the Godhead, in which there is a plurality of persons but a unity of substance. It ought, however, to be remembered that here the word person does not mean the same thing as it does when