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Chapter 2 The Mind Immaterial, but Substantial

There are two distinct substances in the universe. One we call mind or spirit, the other matter. It is difficult for some to conceive of a substance without attaching to it some material properties, for, to most persons, in consequence of the senses having a controlling influence over their conceptions, that which is not material is as nothing. Their thoughts seldom rise above the range of the external or sensuous degree of the mind’s action. All spiritual realities are in their thoughts materialized.

The common idea of spirit is that of refined, etherialized matter, — a matter so subtle as to be impondcrable, and almost without reality. But we must learn to think of spirit and matter as discrete or distinct substances, that is, as real being, but having no properties in common.

When we assert that mind is immaterial, we do not weaken the conception of the reality of its being, but we simply mean that its essence is invested with properties entirely unlike those by which matter is manifested to our senses. Yet it is the most vitally real thing in the universe. Matter is known to us by a certain combination of properties, cognizable to our senses; mind by other distinct properties or powers, known only to our consciousness or inner perceptions. Yet our knowledge of the latter is as certain as that of the other.

Persons are apt to think of matter as something solid and tangible to the senses, but of spiritual substance as an etherialized, volatile essence, destitute of these qualities and consequently of reality. But what we call solidity is only force. It is simply resistance, and is more a sensation in us than a property of matter. Taking this view of it, spirit may be as solid a reality as anything in nature.

Anything that causes in us the proper sensation of resistance is as solid to us as gold, or platinum. For all that we know, or can know of hardness, firmness, compactness, impenetrability, or gravity, is a force occasioning in us a particular sensation. The world of spirit is as real in itself, and to the sensations of its inhabitants, as this outside range of created things.

All that we know of matter is force, as all its properties are only modifications of force. Its inmost essence may be spiritual, and what we call matter may be only the outward clothing, or ultimation, or external manifestation of some spiritual reality. The properties of matter are reduced to the single idea of force. Mind is a higher and diviner force, approaching many degrees nearer the Central Life. All force, in its origin, as well as all causation, is spiritual. Mind is a manifestation of force entirely distinct from that we call matter. Between color and thought, there is a broad distinction. They are not identical. One belongs to matter, the other to mind. One is a material, the other a spiritual property or force.

We have seen that God is the Central Life, the first and only life. All life in the universe is a derivation from Him, and a manifestation or modification of this primal vital force. But His life is love. Hence His love is the first and only substance, whence all other substances emanate. Everything, from the atom to the world, from the animalcule to the angel, has the root of its being in Him. He is Love and Wisdom, two divine forces, like positive and negative. But love and wisdom, or affection and intellect, are the essential properties of personality. The divine love is not a mere idea, or an emotion, but a substance from which, by creative influx, has gone forth all other being.

If we can accustom ourselves to think of Love and Wisdom in God, and will and understanding in man, as substance, an important point will be gained. But we must carefully subtract from our conception of that substance all the properties or forces of matter, such as divisibility, impenetrability; and weight. The essential conditions of all material existence are time and space. All matter exists in time and fills space. Mind or spirit is not in time, and is not limited by space. To raise the thoughts above time and space is to think spiritually. Until we can do this, all our ideas of God, of the human soul, and of spiritual and heavenly things, will be material, earthly, and sensual.

Whether the soul of man be destined to endless existence, is a question that is not affected by its materiality or immateriality. The ancient philosophers, as Plato, and after him, Cicero, endeavored to maintain the doctrine, that mind in its own nature was indissoluble and indestructible. But this is not true of any finite thing in the universe. Nothing has life in itself, but all live from God. He alone has immortality or life in Himself eternally springing from the depth of His own being.

Immortality depends upon the will of God. The immutability of that will is the ground of its certainty. It is true now and always will be so, that because He lives, we live also. We live by virtue of our being finite receptacles of the one and only Life.

But why is not animal life, which must be referred to the same primal source, also immortal? We do not hesitate to affirm, that no life will ever be annihilated. It is the conclusion of the improved science of the day, that all force is perpetual and indestructible. What we call life is a force, a vital force. The quantum of life in the universe will never be diminished, but the forms receptive of it may change.

Man is the recipient of the divine life in the highest degree. The human soul exists in three degrees, whereas animals possess only the lower or external degree. The life of animals is indestructible, but their individuality is not equally stable. The latter may cease, while the former goes forth to animate other forms. The vital force is persistent, but the external shell that contains it, is evanescent. There is no real death anywhere. The boundless universe is life. But man retains his individual and personal existence. His inner life is not only a persistent and imperishable force, springing perpetually from out the depths of the divine existence, but his affcctionsl and intellectual nature ultimate themselves in an outward form that constitutes his everlasting identity or individuality.

If it be true, that all men live from the one and only Life, and that the father does not create new life in his offspring (for he has no life in himself), but that life is imparted to the receptive germ in the womb from the Lord alone, then, as Des Guys has truly shown, all men are brethren, children of a common Father. It matters not whether there was only one created pair, from whom the race has sprung, or a thousand, the brotherhood of men, and the fatherhood of God are established on an unshaken basis.

And moreover, all men, of every clime and color, are sons of God and incarnations of the Divinity. All conception is an operation of the central living Force, whether in the womb of Mary or any of the millions of the daughters of Eve. In all men the Divinity becomes finitely human. The consciousness of this grand verity would be a living moral force to elevate the debased populations of the globe. Self-respect is one of the safeguards of virtue. To think meanly of human nature has a depressing moral influence. To entertain noble thoughts of the real dignity of man, ourselves and others, becomes an interior conatus or endeavor to act worthily of our divine origin, and “to do the works of God.”


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