Изображения страниц

Observer, July 1, '71

came flashing upon him the mighty eye of the Infinite; and for weeks and months he dared not lift his eyes to heaven for fear of that eye. Even yet, the fields he oft traversed at eventide suggest again to memory that first terrible vision of the eye of God. Times have changed since then,. the thought of the presence of that eye is not always terrible now,-a rev elation of the thought of the Infinite has been received, that does not make the MIGHTY ONE a terror. Years after that same astronomy-loving youth, now taking his place as a man among men, read a biography of John Hessel, in 、. vhich are described his feelings, at a certain time, when fine natural scenery, thuscontemplating some

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Immediately the ia a of His (God's) presence recurred to me, the conviction that He was there .. ashed upon my mind. I can give you no conception of my feelings at that noment. I felt His eye was gazing upon me, that I was the object of His scrutinizing gaze, that I was sturrounded by God. Every sensibility of my soul trembled and quivered with the most intense emotion.' The Life of John Hessel was a thought book, it not only related facts but it united thoughts. It revealed to the ere while astronomer that he was not alone in the world that others tha n he had felt the eye of God. Henceforth dead John Hessel was alive again. Whatever his objective, his subjective immortality had begun. His thought was one with that of another man, they had both seen Ged, and had been ashamed. Then again in a Scotch book on "Bible Bards," the same thinker met some words (what winged spirit words were 'hey?) about that eye that looked out from the pillar of cloud and troubled Egypt's King surrounded by Edom's waters. Did Pharoah see that eye that looked on John Hessel and this young star gazer? Then again, South ey has it about the Eternal, as known to the Hindoo-" Siva opened his eye of pride, and Kehama saw and perished." The books off Gilfillan, of Southey, of Hessel are thought books; they reveal the thoughts of many hearts. Yet, again, that old book itself tells before any of the others of that poor out-cast mother who has left her fainting, thirsting boy to die alone, and who hearing a voice and finding water and life, realizes first timidly, then fearfully and not without reverence that God "seest ME." Oh me, me, that swellest out so great and includes so oft all that is of importance, or that has a right to be; how poor, feeble, puny art thou when that eye sees thee! Oh grand old fashioned Bible, that revealest to the heart of holiness, or the soul that is pure, how it may see God and live!

Thought books! You read Carlyle on the French Revolution, and you find that, like Isaac Taylor, he has dived into the under current of national life, and learned that there are others in the world besides himself and you who believe

[blocks in formation]

That the cause of the bloodthirstiness of the knitting-woman, who applauded the Septembriers, was not merely her ingrained natural depravity and cherished spirit of vengeance, but lay farther back in the deeds of generations that had made possible the more recent deeds of terrible, awful tyranny which that same knitting-woman had chronicled in her stockings. You read the book of Dickens, and the philosophy of events is emphasized to your thought, and though in all the records you shrink from

"The horror they outpour."

Observer, July 1, '71.

Yet you find world thoughts borne in upon you, and the words of an ancient master come to you with added power, as you murmur to that inner me so often asserting its own superiority over every other me: 'Judge not that thou mayest not be jugded.' I have quoted Longfellow, and taken from Dickens and Poe, and that sublimest man, the Nazarene, and are not all their works thought books-volumes of thought-sustaining, thoughtcreating pabulum.


Oh! thinker, how old art thou? By the revolutions of the sun, what is thy time of day? Not yet thy grand climacteric is reached-young art thou still,-beardless, with wisdom teeth uncut; or art thou furnished with years called of discretion, and is thy counsel sought of men? Well, thou art a thinker, and thou hast introverted thine eye and questioned thyself. Diderot says: Many times in the design of examining that which passes in my head, and to catch my soul in the fact, I have thrown myself into a most profound meditation, retiring into myself with all the self-containing ability of which I am capable." Thou findest then, oh thinker, that Diderot has done what thou hast. He reveals his thoughts in his book and shows that thou art not alone, and thou canst with greater vigour follow thy thoughts, and well will it be if thy speculations end as did Diderot's. Thus, he says: "These efforts never produced anything. It seems to me that it would be necessary to be always within and without one's self, and to play at the same time the diffierent roles of observer and the machine observed. But it is of the spirit as of the eye-it cannot see itself. There is none but God who knows how the syllogism is formed within us."

It is the Jew, Sidonia, I think, who says that a young man should finish his metaphysical speculations before he is thirty. Yes, speculate, look into the mysteries of the ego and non-ego, the me and not-me, the self and not-self, or by whatever terms thou choosest to refer to object and subject; yet finish before thou art grey, and do not end with doubting whether there is object or subject, or neither; but learn to respect that marvel of marvels, thine own soul, that self which thinks and that not-self which is spread out before thee, that wondrous outer world of star, and sun, and crag, and flower, and sea, and air; and that other greater, mightier, infinite not-me, which clothes the lily, feeds the sparrow, burnishes the sun and sustains thee!

In that which is called the History of the Vestiges of Creation read thou of the succession of life, and let savant Huxley tell thee that he thinks not with Diderot, but that though the single eye cannot examine its own organism, yet the eye of me, aided by paraffin and forceps, and knife, and lens, can see the eye of another me, and so explain the mystery of sight, and that yet it may be seen by one ego how the brain of another ego thinks-nay thought, for the forceps and the knife only are used when the other ego has been deprived of its consciousness as a self. If thou thinkest the same thought as Huxley thou mayest be wrong, but if thou wilt dare to think of the same things thou mayest with reverence for thy bodily and inner nature, think rightly and thou mayest advance a little on the savant and the negress who "specs they growed," and thankfully acknowledge in the words of that ancientest of thought books that thou art fearfully and wonderfully made."


That word wonderfully sends me off to another thought book,—a biography (or so called),-of Herr Teufelsdröckh. He has something wonderfully true about wonder, thus: "Wonder is the only reasonable temper for the denizen of so singular a planet as ours. Wonder is the basis of worship: the reign of wonder is perennial, indestructible in man,





Observer, July 1, 71



only it is at certain stages (as at the present) for some short season a reign in partibus infidelium. The man who cannot wonder, who does not habitually wonder and worship, were he president of innumerable Royal Societies, and carried the whole Mecanique Celeste and Hegel's Philosophy, and the epitome of all Laboratories and Observatories, with their results, in his single head-is but a pair of spectacles behind which there is no eye. Let those who have eyes look through him, then he may be useful." Oh man, hast thou done with speculation, or art thou deep in science, or hast thou a faith-hold of the infinite? Still wonder, wonder for ever, for still there is something beyond, a land thou hast not seen, a steep thou hast not climbed, a thought thou hast not thought, a mystery thou hast not solved

"Underneath the sun

There are heights yet unascended;
Palmy countries to be won."

Here is a

And what beyond? Ay what? Seek and thou shalt find somewhat on which thy knowledge, thy faith, thy wonder shall increase. murmur and its rebuke from another thought book:

"I knelt me on that gold and purple strand

Where thought waves wrestle-'twas the land of dreams,—
And at the fountain of its thousand streams,

I, bowing on the star besprinkled sand,
To heaven murmured with uplifted hand ;-

'Lord, is it light that shows not whence it beams ?'
'Lord, is it clear where endless mystery teems?
'Hold,' said a whisper, smiting like a sword,
"The Earth's one breathing beauty, sea and shore,
'Worship's the child of wonder!' and the Lord
Saith: Look, enjoy, then wonder and adore!
'For e'en towards Him as to thy kind 'twill hold,
'When wonder waneth worship waxeth cold.""
There, that sonnet and its thought have

"Sent my memory slipping back
Into the golden days

When that soul that is the me of the present writer was turning its back on a great despair, and with a divine purpose (not yet accomplished) was seeing new beauties in this " singular planet of ours," and the sky that is above it, and was finding an alter ego also, to wear the cockleshell and share the wallet on the pilgrimage to the land we have not seen.

A SURVEY OF HISTORICAL SUPERNATURALISM.-No. V. THE 11th chapter of Genesis is very suggestive, both to the student of humanities and to the scientific theologian. The whole earth was of one language and of one speech-literally, of one lip and of one words. "And it came to pass, as they journeyed eastward, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there." There is something deeply impressive in the gathering and swarming of humanity, in triumphal processions, in pilgrimages and in marches to battle. As a spectacle, the exodus before us in this chapter has wonderful interest; and such a great march of a human host is not conceivable now, the modern conditions being all so dissimilar. When the earth was so affluent and prodigal in her increase, and there were no game laws, and no hostile armies to dispute their passage or contest the possession of the country,

Observer, July 1, 71.

they needed no careful commissariat nor fulgent weapons; in deep security and sensuous pleasure the human mass rolled on, finding food in abundance and rest without peril, as necessities and impulses arose. As the power of wine was known and instruments of music had been constructed, we can easily conceive what harmonies would float irto the air when they halted on the road, when tents arose, when camp fires were kindled and savoury viands smoked on the green sward.


They were alive without the law," in the unredeemed life of nature; but not having the conflicts and agonies which afterwards came. Sin had not the malignancy or deforming power which it gathered in another period. Before that came, there needed a solemn, explicit, authoritative law, to bring man face to face with the majesty of God-demanding from him the renunciation of his selfishness, and an austere moral culture. It was then the war began; and the Law slew men on a new battle-field, but could not make them alive. Though it was holy, just and good, it brought not forth righteousness or life, but filled the earth with the pains of death and the ghastliness of the slain.

Another great impulse followed that of migration. Having reached a plain which seemed desirable for permanent habitation, the idea of a city and a tower comes into shape. It was too early a period for Atheism in a creed; men had not uttered the dreadful NAY, the denial of Him who alone can be said to exist for we are all but the creatures of a day, consumed by the moth, whereas He lifteth up His right hand to heaven and saith I LIVE FOR EVER; and He is from Eternity to Eternity. The time of bad development had not arrived in which mortal shadows could conspire against the Everlasting One, by propagandism of disbelief and the blasphemy of open denial. There was, however, incipient Atheism in the desire and impulse to be independent of even God. They wished for a refuge and sanctuary, of their own devising and making, from which no storms of heaven or earth could dislodge them, or destroy the memorials of their greatness and glory. Hence, under the powerful impulse, they began to build, and, to a certain extent, the city and tower arose defiantly. However, it is vain to build without God; for, either the structures never get roofed, or, when finished, the wrath of the Creator descends in penal fire. In this case the Divine hindrance took a very simple form, but perfectly successful. He confounded their language.

No longer of "one lip," and doubtless amazed to find that they could not understand each other, the concerted action failed and the unfinished pile was abandoned. As they gradually discovered that within certain limits they could still commune with each other, the sections with common idiom clave together, and wandering in different directions, though led by an invisible hand, the nations of antiquity were planted.

Long afterwards, the site and even the unfinished buildings became of material service to that gigantic evil force of Babylon which was opposed to the cause and the kingdom of God, and which, in another form, maintains even now the same diabolical hostility. Confusion, Polytheism, divided nations and Heathenism, all have their source in Babel. Men wander away from each other and lose the ancient, holy feeling of brotherhood and fatherhood; they are neither one family nor have they one Creator and Proprietor whose wings of life are over all. Hence the battles and cruelties and slaveries and all the dreadful wars of ambition, lust and revenge. One of the finest indications that a new age would descend from heaven and from God to gather, not to divide or separate, came when chosen men, qualified by immediate miracle, made known the

Observer, July 1, 71.

kingdom of God; and their declaration of His wonderful works was understood by men of all languages spoken in the Roman world. That strain of sacred music was prophetic of the time when God will restore to human races a pure and a common language, that Babel or babble may come to an end, and all may call on the name of one Lord with one consent. Oppert, who travelled to Mesopotamia under the auspices of the French Government, gave, in the Journal Asiatique, 1857, a cuneiform inscription with an interlinear version. Nebuchadnezzar is the writer, who reigned 604-561 before Christ; and, as the building of Babel must be placed, according to Bible chronology, in the twenty-third century before Christ, the reader will perceive that this agrees with the forty-two generations-according to common reckoning, from thirty-five to forty years. We are not, however, to forget that the inscription confirms the local tradition, as well as the chronology. "The Temple of the Seven Lights of the Earth (the planets), the ancient monument of Barsippa, was built by an ancient King; since then are reckoned fifty-two generations; but he did not reach the summit of it. Men had left it (the tower) since the days of the flood which confused their languages. Earthquake and thunder had shattered the bricks and thrown down the tiles of the roof; the bricks of the walls were cast down and formed heaps. The great god Merodach has put it into my heart to build it again; I have not altered the place nor disturbed the foundations. In the month of Salvation, on the auspicious day, I pierced the unburnt bricks of the walls and the burnt bricks of the casings with arches. I inscribed the glory of my name on the frieze of the arches."

Despite the unbelief of renegades, from Spinoza to Colenso, we have long felt assured, and the assurance deepens, that the verities set forth in Genesis are in the moral what the granite rocks are in the physical world-the strong, the immovable foundations.

I. God, el Shadai, the Almighty, the "I am" comes before us in true personality. Not an impersonal order of nature; but the Spirit of all life and power, who, though penetrating all, is above all and beyond all and separate from all. He is conscious perfection, the fountain-head of wisdom, power and love, of holiness and glory; executing His high pleasure among the armies of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth.

II. True, absolute Creation; not the heathen dream of blind forces in existence from eternity gradually working into order, but God the Absolute One, calling the possibilities into fact and reality. We find a true and glorious birth-the fiat of God, the word of God, the spirit of God, all in creative operation, and an actual supernatural commencement.

III. Man comes before us as the earthly head of the early creation. The angels might excel in a certain kind of power, but still they are inferior to man. Man, the microcosm of the world is likewise the image of God. He is the point where nature and spirit meet: and hence, through his materialism and his supernaturalism, moral freedom has been revealed as in harmony with the character of God, and history has become a moral science.

IV. The manner in which moral evil enters the world has all the marks of truth; no other account like it can be found; it is true to experience true to the deepest experience. We don't need, however, to go to Genesis for the fact that moral evil is in us and among us. All the fields of history, experience and consciousness bear terrible testimony. Man is a ruin in the midst of ruins-explain it as we may.

V. We discover the matchless wisdom of God in the election of &

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »