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they have been unable to do more than acknowledge these difficulties and allow them to remain.
But from our point of view these difficulties are by no means impenetrable barriers, barring for ever the progress of research. On the contrary, we assert that, if approached with sufficient boldness, and examined with sufficient care, they will be found to contain avenues leading up to the invisible universe, and directing our inquiries thitherwards. There may be possibly other apparent breaks or barriers, but these appear to be the best established; and, with these exceptions, we may suppose that the visible universe, in so far as we are capable of investigating it, has been left to develop itself in accordance with those laws of energy which we see in operation at the present day.
In fine, the visible universe was plainly intended to be something which we are capable of investigating, and the few apparent breaks are in reality so many partially concealed avenues leading up to the unseen.
248. Our readers must not however infer from what we have now said, that we do not recognise any present points of contact between us and the invisible. There may possibly be (but even of this we are not quite sure) no points of apparent interference between the two, so that the man of science cannot say,—Here is a break;-but nevertheless there may be a close and vital union between the two universes, in those regions into which investigation cannot penetrate, and who shall say that the laws of these regions do not admit of the objective efficacy of prayer? There may be an action of the invisible world upon the individual mind, and there is no reason why there
should not also be an action upon the visible universe, by means of those processes of delicacy which, as we have already seen, obtain in that quarter (Art. 184). Neither the one action nor the other would be detected by science, unless we except certain providential occurrences, which are generally, however, better recognised by the individuals to whom they refer than by the world at large. And just as reversibility (Art. 113) is the stamp of perfection in the inanimate engine, so a similar reversibility may be the stamp of perfection in the living man. He ought to live for the unseen-to carry into it something which may not be wholly unacceptable. But, in order to enable him to do this, the unseen must also work upon him, and its influences must pervade his spiritual nature. Thus a life for the unseen through the unseen is to be regarded as the only perfect life.
249. In fine, the unseen may have a very wide field of influence, but from its very nature its working is not discernible, or at least easily discernible, by the eye of sense, and we are therefore led to consult the Christian records for otherwise unattainable information regarding the reality of a present influence exercised by the invisible universe upon ours.
In the first place, we have the following words of Christ himself (Matt. xiii. 41): The Son of man. shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.' Again (Matt. xxv. 31): 'When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory and before.
him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.' Again (Matt. xxvi. 53), speaking to Peter: 'Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?' Furthermore, we read (Heb. i. 14): 'Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?'
These passages (and many more might be quoted) would appear to show that, according to the Scriptures, the angels take a very prominent part in the administration of the universe under the direction of the Son of God. They are his ministers, his messengers, who execute his decrees and perform his errands, whether of mercy or of justice. Therefore it is said of Christ, 'Thou art the King of angels;' and of himself in his glorified state, speaking to his disciples, Christ says (Matt. xxviii. 18): ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.'
Let us close these quotations by one from the Old Testament-2 Kings vi. 15-17: And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host encompassed the city both with horses and chariots: and his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and
said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man: and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.'
Finally, it is the belief of a large portion of the Christian Church that the Spirit of God dwells in and acts upon the souls of believers. This action represents the influence which reaches the soul of man from the unseen, enabling him to live for the unseen.
250. We have in our opening chapter quoted a very remarkable passage from Swedenborg upon the particular nature of God's providence. Let us now hear what the Scriptures say upon the same subject. Christ tells us (Luke xii. 6): Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.' Again, St. Paul tells us (Rom. viii. 28): 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.' Also (Rom. viii. 38): 'For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
251. We think it may be concluded from all these passages that the doctrine of a particular providence is taught in the Scriptures. Nevertheless it is one of the hardest things to understand how this doctrine can be made consistent with the working out of general laws which, so far as we can study them,
appear to have no reference whatever to individuals. This was a difficulty intensely felt by the late John Stuart Mill. He says, in a work published after his death :
'For how stands the fact? That, next to the greatness of these cosmic forces, the quality which most forcibly strikes every one who does not avert his eyes from it is their perfect and absolute recklessness. They go straight to their end without regarding what or whom they crush on the road. Optimists, in their attempts to prove that "whatever is, is right," are obliged to maintain, not that Nature ever turns one step from her path to avoid trampling us into destruction, but that it would be very unreasonable in us to expect that she should. Pope's "Shall gravitation cease when you go by?" may be a just rebuke to any one who should be so silly as to expect common human morality from Nature. But if the question were between two men, instead of between a man and a natural phenomenon, that triumphant apostrophe would be thought a rare piece of impudence. A man who should persist in hurling stones or firing cannon when another man goes by," and, having killed him, should urge a similar plea in exculpation, would very deservedly be found guilty of murder. In sober truth, nearly all the things which men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are Nature's every-day performances.'
This objection to belief in the reality of the government of God has been clothed in very eloquent language in a sermon by the Rev. James Martineau : -The battle of existence' (he tells us, putting himself for the moment into the position of Mill and his school) 'rages through all time and in every field; and its rule is to give no quarter-to despatch the maimed, to overtake the halt, to trip up the blind, and drive the fugitive host over the precipice into the sea.'
In very beautiful language the poet Tennyson, after proposing the same riddle, replies to it thus :