HPB-SB-3-56

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vol. 3, p. 56
from Adyar arhives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)
 

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< Recent Materialistic Speculations Viewed in the Light of Spiritualism (continued from page 3-55) >

sor will scarcely thank us for crediting him with, this, namely, that though his belief in matter is so profound, he is not able to assert precisely what matter is.

We mortals stalk, like horses in a mill,
Impassive media of Atomic will.

No Great First Cause inspired the happy plot,
But all was Matter, and no matter what.

Mr. Huxley’s elaborate argument affirms throughout that an animal is, or may be, a Conscious Automaton, i.e., a machine with the attribute of consciousness. It is not necessary to quote isolated passages from an elaborate address, the whole tenor of which is to establish this proposition. The elimination of spirit from the individual man, and the destruction of intelligence at death, is the fitting complement to that Materialism which reduces all things to Matter, and blots out the Deity from the Universe.

What has Spiritualism to say to all this ? In the faith which is professed by us, have we any points of contact with the Professors ? Hardly any. The whole teaching, nay, the very existence of that belief which is called spiritual, is entirely opposed to the creed of Tyndall and Huxley. They tell us of Matter, the Unknown and the Unknowable, yet the one Really Existent Fact. We reply that, even if you can define Matter at all, which you confess yourselves unable to do, you are but scantily acquainted with its properties : and as your acquaintance grows, unless you confine yourselves within a narrow groove, you will find that Matter vanishes and gives place to Spirit. We tell you that the external manifestation which is known to us in this sphere of being, is so far from being the permanent reality which you profess, that it is but the shell that covers spirit, and that, to borrow the Professor’s language, Spirit will live, indestructible and eternal, when he, and matter with him, “shall have melted into the infinite azure of the past.”

They tell us of matter as its own Final Cause. We reply that it is so far from being final or actual that they will find it difficult to demonstrate its real existence, and that Bishop Berkley’s argument is, at least, as forcible as Prof. Tyndall’s. The very properties which the scientific school of thought has, with one consent, agreed to regard as invariable in Matter are, we tell them, open to grave question, and, in some cases, to easy disproval by the experiments of Spiritualism. The law of gravitation, supposed by them to act invariably, is seen to be frequently suspended by the action of a Force of which they have no knowledge. Solid objects are found, under certain conditions, to be no bar to the passage through them of other solid bodies, so that even into a closed room, or through locked doors, solid objects pass in a way which Science has no means of explaining. Nay more, not only are the properties unknown, and its very existence, as anything more than a Sensation, not capable of mathematical proof, but those who are searching most with its qualities, outside of the orthodox scientific groove,—a groove as rigidly bound by Scientific Dogmatism as ever was the road to truth by Theological Creed,—these men will tell the Professors of that which amounts to nothing short of a new creation : the formation of that which is apparently a perfect human form in a room where no such form naturally exists, and of the resolution of this form again into empty nothingness before the eyes of careful observers. They may even obtain scientific evidence touching a new formation of a living body from men who bear appended to their dames the magic letters F.R.S., the diploma of scientific infallibility.

As to Prof. Huxley’s automaton, we tell him that what he mistakes for man is only the temporary shell which man occupies during his present state of being. That accretion of atoms round the spirit body which enshrines and protects it here, is no more really a part of the man—the Individuality—the “ I,” than are his clothes. The time comes, the Professor and we alike know, when this body of earth is laid aside. For him it is done with, and for us, too. But for him there remains nothing else. Fuit is the epithet which he inscribes upon its grave. The Automaton is dead, and can work no more. For us the case is far different. The old worn out body is laid aside, indeed, but only because the Spirit, the Real Man, has no further need for it. The spirit body with all its faculties, and with more than all the life it had on earth, has passed to a higher sphere of existence and a nobler range of work. It has but undergone a process of development, and has been “ evolved,” to Borrow language that Mr., Huxley is familiar with, from the rude body which has served its purpose, and it is then translated into a higher plane of being. It is not dead ; for the Spirit knows no death. It has undergone dissolution : and is still a sentient, intelligent individuality in spite of its separation from what the Professors would call “ itself.”

Prof. Huxley once declined in sarcastic language to investigate the phenomena of Spiritualism. He has a soul, above “ twaddle,” and “ feels no interest ’’ in the subject. Mr. Tyndall did, on one occasion, so far condescend as to perform at a seance some remarkable tricks, such as causing a room to vibrate by nipping a muscle in his leg and playing a solo on an inverted wine glass with his whiskers. One cannot but hope that the success of this performance may lead him to the conclusion that there are things which his philosophy has not yet fathomed, and that he is deluded when he imagines such remarkable results to be attributed to such unlikely causes. If he will go on he may find himself a Medium in spite of himself : and, at any rate, he will discover that Spirits do not require to nip a muscle in order to cause a room to vibrate, or to use whiskers and an inverted wine glass in order to produce musical sounds.

Should it ever chance that the Professors should become experimentally acquainted with the things which they now ignore and condemn, we may hope that their dreary creed which ends in annihilation may be reversed. It is idle, we know full well, to quote against this Scientific Nihilism any arguments derived from the records of Ancient Scripture, or from modern experiences with which they are not acquainted. Nor is it necessary. The question is one that reaches further than any mere opinions held by any men however eminent in special branches of scientific research. It is a matter which concerns intimately the whole question of Moral and Religious Belief and Practice. And in this aspect we invite to it the attention of the Ministers of Religion and all who have at heart the cause of truth. Let these consider the alternative that Science by the mouth of its High Priest has placed before the people of England and America : and let them ponder on the answer they are prepared to give. He has spoken, and it is well to gauge accurately what he has thought right to say. He has lifted up his voice from the chiefest platform of science, and his cry, in effect, has been, “There is no God. There is no Spirit. There is no Immortality. Matter exists, and nought else.” And his cry is taken up and echoed by the voice of one no^ less powerful than himself. “ Man needs not to look outside himself for the cause or end of his existence. He is but a Machine.” Away go all the dogmas of Religion. All is useless, since the God to whom adoration and prayer are offered is wiped out. The very source and spring of all Religion—we had almost said of all Morality—is gone forever.

And what will the Preachers say ? Will they meet together in hearty accord and point to the unanimous consent of undivided Christendom to the facts which the, Professors deny ? As well expect the lion to lie down with the lamb as such a Millennial Miracle. If they could perchance agree in defense of God and Immortality, they would but turn and send each other over dry bones of dogma which the world has long since cast aside. Will they enter into the conflict with the Bible as their Sword and do battle with the Professors on the ground of Inspiration and Revelation ? No two of them will agree on any but the broadest and simplest points. From that book each has drawn his creed, selecting that which pleases him, and that creed he vainly endeavors to force upon others : while they in their turn have their nostrums which they hold to be of universal application. Or will they boldly prove to their scientific opponents the facts which they deny ? Will they demonstrate to them a Present God, operating in their midst, and life perpetuated after death ? Will they prove the existence of a Soul apart from a Body, and the reality of a Life beyond the Grave ? How can they ? The Bible ! “ a farrago of delusions and contradictions.” The Church ! “a mischievous compound of superstition and credulity, in which ambitious priests compass their own ends by deluding foolish dupes.” The Faith of Christendom! “ there is no faith, but many contradictory opinions, each annihilating another. If priests agree in anything it is only in that, on which their very existence depends.” Such is the way in which their weapons will be turned, and assertions which pass currentonly so long as they are unquestioned will be found to be sorry reeds when relied on against those who admit nothing, not even their own soul’s life.

Here it is that the creed of Spiritualism steps in, and should, one would think did one not know otherwise, find a cordial welcome from those who wish to defend the faith of God and Immortality. That Bible from which conflicting sects have drawn their nostrums, we see to be but the record of that progressive revelation of the Supreme which has never ceased among men. The contradictory views of God which are contained in it, and which they have spent ages of time and mountains of labor in vain attempts to harmonize, give us no difficulty, for we see in them the gradual growth of man’s knowledge, the ceaseless revealing of the Supreme, as man has been able to bear it. The Miracles and records of the intervention of spirit power which crowd its pages, so unintelligible to them, are familiar occurrences to us. They occur in our midst, and we have no reason to explain their way by processes of tortuous sophistry. To us it is not strange that angels should have talked with men, or even that the three children should have passed unharmed through fire. But what can orthodox Preachers say to such things ? Miracles ! They are to be passed by with hurried step, to be accepted only as events which used to happen, but have long since ceased. And who told them that they have ceased ? Who, indeed ? Their cessation dates from the time when ignorant and unspiritual minds practically dethroned God from the government of

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