The foregoing, added to the wonderful confessions of science and what we have just quoted from the Unseen Universe, throw an additional lustre on the wisdom of the long departed ages. In one of the preceding chapters we have alluded to a quotation from Cory’s translation of Ancient Fragments, in which it appears that one of the Chaldean Oracles expresses this self-same idea about ether, and in language singularly like

Page   189

that of the authors of the Unseen Universe. It states that from aether have come all things, and to it all will return; that the images of all things are indelibly impressed upon it; and that it is the store-house of the germs or of the remains of all visible forms, and even ideas. It appears as if this case strangely corroborates our assertion that whatever discoveries may be made in our days will be found to have been anticipated by many thousand years by our “simple-minded ancestors.”

At the point at which we are now arrived, the attitude assumed by the materialists toward psychical phenomena being perfectly defined, we may assert with safety that were this key lying loose on the threshold of the “chasm” not one of our Tyndalls would stoop to pick it up.

How timid would appear to some kabalists these tentative efforts to solve the GREAT MYSTERY of the universal ether! although so far in advance of anything propounded by cotemporary philosophers, what the intelligent explorers of the Unseen Universe speculate upon, was to the masters of hermetic philosophy familiar science. To them ether was not merely a bridge connecting the seen and unseen sides of the universe, but across its span their daring feet followed the road that led through the mysterious gates which modern speculators either will not or cannot unlock.

The deeper the research of the modern explorer, the more often he comes face to face with the discoveries of the ancients. Does Elie de Beaumont, the great French geologist, venture a hint upon the terrestrial circulation, in relation to some elements in the earth’s crust, he finds himself anticipated by the old philosophers. Do we demand of distinguished technologists, what are the most recent discoveries in regard to the origin of the metalliferous deposits? We hear one of them, Professor Sterry Hunt, in showing us how water is a universal solvent, enunciating the doctrine held and taught by the old Thales, more than two dozen centuries ago, that water was the principle of all things. We listen to the same professor, with de Beaumont as authority, expounding the terrestrial circulation, and the chemical and physical phenomena of the material world. While we read with pleasure that he is “not prepared to concede that we have in chemical and physical processes the whole secret of organic life,” we note with a still greater delight the following honest confession on his part: “Still we are, in many respects, approximating the phenomena of the organic world to those of the mineral kingdom; and we at the same time learn that these so far interest and depend upon each other that we begin to see a certain truth underlying the notion of those old philosophers, who extended to the mineral world the notion of a vital force, which led them to speak of the earth as a great living organism, and to look upon the various changes of its air, its waters, and its rocky depths, as processes belonging to the life of our planet.”

Page   190

Everything in this world must have a beginning. Things have latterly gone so far with scientists in the matter of prejudice, that it is quite a wonder that even so much as this should be conceded to ancient philosophy. The poor, honest primordial elements have long been exiled, and our ambitious men of science run races to determine who shall add one more to the fledgling brood of the sixty-three or more elementary substances. Meanwhile there rages a war in modern chemistry about terms. We are denied the right to call these substances “chemical elements,” for they are not “primordial principles or self-existing essences out of which the universe was fashioned.” Such ideas associated with the word element were good enough for the “old Greek philosophy,” but modern science rejects them; for, as Professor Cooke says, “they are unfortunate terms,” and experimental science will have “nothing to do with any kind of essences except those which it can see, smell, or taste.” It must have those that can be put in the eye, the nose, or the mouth! It leaves others to the metaphysicians.

Pin It on Pinterest