Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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 im

portant 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 multitude 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.1 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

applied to ourselves, but only denotes some distinction which may be regarded as best expressed by this word. Our idea of person or individual is derived solely from our experience in the position which we occupy in the universe.

The first Person in this Trinity, God the Father, is represented as the unapproachable Creator-the Being in virtue of whom all things exist.

Thus it is said (John i. 18), 'No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.'

Again, Paul tells us (Rom. xi. 36), 'For of him and through him and to him are all things.' Also (1 Cor. viii. 6), 'But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we to him (eis avtóv); and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.'

Also (Eph. iv. 6), 'One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.' Also (1 Timothy vi. 16), 'Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.'

223. Again, of the second Person of the Trinity we are told, in addition to what we gather from the expressions just quoted (John i. 1), ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.'

Again (2 Cor. v. 10): For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.'

[ocr errors]

Again (Col. i. 15): 'Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature: for in him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.'

Again (Heb. i. 1): 'God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.'

224. It is, we believe, a prevalent idea among theologians that these passages indicate, in the first place, the existence of an unapproachable Creatorthe unconditioned One who is spoken of as God the Father; and that they also indicate the existence of another Being of the same substance as the Father, but different in person, who has agreed to develop the will of the Father, and thus in some mysterious sense to submit to conditions and to enter into the universe.1 The relation of this Being to the Father is expressed in Hebrews2 in the words of the Psalmist, 'Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.' In fine, such a Being would represent that conditioned, yet infinitely powerful developing agent, to which the universe,

1 We are not here opposing the theological doctrine that the Universe is in the Son of God. In fact, when we contemplate any past phase of the Universe, we are driven to look upon this as having been previously developed by the Son of God, who doubtless also sustains it. This therefore represents the theological doctrine, nevertheless it will at once be acknowledged that we may speak of Christ as being in the Universe. Heb. x. 7.

« AnteriorContinuar »