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IS A DIRECT DIVINE REVELATION POSSIBLE ?
Our first question is, Does the nature of man permit a direct revelation of his Creator? In other words, Is that revelation possible ? In reply, we say,
Man is a being of intellect, emotion, action. Intellect perceives conditions ; emotion supplies power and direction ; action is the result. There can be no action without emotion and intelligence. But each of these is a predicate which cannot belong to matter. Neither of them has weight, figure, or dimensions. Action is the application of immaterial power to material things. Unconscious material force, as we see it in the visible universe, can only be the result of emotion and intelligence out of itself, after the same manner as the use of our hands and of inert matter by us. Lo
We can conceive of the essence in which intellect, emotion, and action abide, producing matter with all its combinations and imposed conditions ; because all the properties of matter are open to our intelligence, and within a wide range we can modify form and relative position, and direct and modify the primarily imposed material forces as our will—the sum of our emotion-directs. But we cannot conceive of matter producing intellect, emotion, action, because they not only are distinct from, but they are plainly above all material qualities, and rule over them.
If we consider the brain the material instrument of thought, without which we can no more think than we can see without the eye, it does not follow from our uniform use of the brain that such an instrument is in all cases necessary, because in dreams, in imagination, and in memory we see without the eye. The thinking does not follow spontaneous pulsations of the brain, but the pulsations of the brain follow the will of the thinker, who in the exercise of his will is not influenced by material qualities, but by immaterial, although the object in which the qualities are seen may be, in some cases, material.
Besides, the brain and the
eye are not self-originated, but are the products of a high intelligence, which we who use them are not able fully to gauge.
This intelligence must therefore have been in existence before the brain, and have had control over its structure and substance, or this admirable instrument of thinking could not have been formed so as to serve no other purpose in the animal economy than the maintenance of conscious life.
While, in the lower animals, we find intellect, emotion, and action bounded by limits more or less narrow, according to the position they occupy in the scale of being, we see on the contrary that in man they are without limit; and further, that the normal tendency of human nature and conditions is to their unlimited development. All knowledge not only produces a desire for more, but by enlarging our mental horizon, and by giving quickness and penetration to our powers, increases our ability to acquire more. So also with emotion ; its natural exercise increases its spontaneity, and range, and power. A comparison of human action, now and at former times, will show that it has a wider range, is able to use more freely the primary forces of nature, to lessen human toil and perfect its own results, and is constantly
turning to better use the substance of the earth, so as greatly to increase the aggregate. Thus the material bounds of immaterial action are pushed farther and farther back, so that we have more numerous and more promising openings for extension than we had half a century since.
In the condition of humanity, we also see scope for unlimited improvement. wonderful union of our immaterial self with a material body, we are brought into contact with the whole material universe: we can discover its secrets, measure its forces, and observe its tendencies, and are only prevented calculating its limits by the feebleness of our instruments and the paucity of our figures. But within our present ken, no student of science supposes that he has discovered all the facts within his own particular line of observation. Like Newton, we are playing with the pebbles on the shore, while the unexplored ocean of physical truth lies before us. Thus we have a nature and conditions which evidently give scope for unlimited progression of intellect, emotion, and action.
In the present condition of the relations of man to the physical universe, we see abundant