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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/573

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

New Testament as authentic and true, no further demonstration is needed." And yet a little further on this important position is very materially qualified. The Bishop points out that the Scriptural presentation of the doctrine of immortality is neither made prominent nor emphatic, and, notwithstanding "its profound and solemn interest," he gives reasons why it was best to leave it meager and obscure. He uses the following language: "The light that is thrown upon the next stage of existence in the Scriptures is designedly somewhat general and limited. All the direct information on the subject which they give could be condensed into a very small space. The eschatology of the Old Testament could all be written on a single page, and very much in the New Testament which has been supposed to relate to the subject is now referred to the setting up of the kingdom of truth and righteousness here on earth. 'The kingdom to come' in many cases means simply the kingdom of Christ among men. Revelation was not intended to gratify our curiosity, and it would not be well to make the veil which hangs between us and the future too translucent. Our work is here, and, if that work is properly done, we can afford to wait until an actual entrance into the next world reveals its mysteries. The time is not most properly employed which is spent in speculating about these mysteries."

This is rational and encouraging, and a wide departure from the traditions; for theology has always maintained that the universe is insufficient for man, even during the short time that he occupies it; and that the knowledge of his immortal future is a thousandfold more momentous to man than all he can learn about the present world. In liberal contrast to this, the Bishop now assures us that the teachings of revelation upon this subject are general and limited; that it was not intended merely to gratify our curiosity; that it would not be well to remove the veil that hides the distant future; that our work is here; that we can afford to wait; and that speculation about those mysteries is not the most profitable.

But, having indulged in this little episode of common sense, the Bishop seems to have remembered where he was, and quickly tacked back into the middle current of the Monday lectureship. There is no more talk of unprofitable speculations, and veils not to be rent. The secret of this transcendental mystery of spiritual existence must be plucked out, and it must agree with the calculations about it, or life is a cheat and all nature an empty mockery! This view is enforced with rhetorical emphasis in the following spirited passage:

"A division as old as Aristotle separates speculators into two great classes—those who study the How of the universe, and those who study the Why. All men of science are embraced in the former of these, all men of religion in the latter." I would like to under stand both, if this is possible; but, if I must choose between the two, I would rather know the reason for which I exist than the mode by which I exist. The one is an end, the other only a means. If it is impossible to discover the end, or if that end, when it is supposed to be discovered, does not seem to be such as justifies the elaborate process by which it is reached; if all the magnificent discoveries of science land us in the conclusion that the universe is only a great clock put together and weighted and wound up to run for a certain period, and then when it has struck the last hour to fall to pieces and become resolved into the materials of which it was originally made—the clock having marked the process of time faithfully and truly as long as the flow of events continued, but the time itself leaving behind no permanent results which abide after the clock has ceased to strike—if the end of existence is exhausted in the process by which that existence is registered, and terminates with the process; or, again, if the universe is only a huge electric wheel throwing out sparks of life which glisten for an instant in the darkness and vanish for ever; or, again, if man is only the effervescence of a physical compound that buds and blossoms and then dies as soon as the soil furnishes no further sustenance—