The minute we speak of matter we speak of a medium which the mind of to-day is just beginning to understand. The mind of other days did not understand it at all. Few phases of modern advance seem to me more significant of a closer approach to the understanding of spiritual things than that which has been made along these lines.

To all the generations before our own, matter was a sheer and positive density. Its hardness, solidity, and actuality could not be gainsaid. Earth was earth; iron was iron; wood was wood. Blood was blood; flesh was flesh; bone was bone. A man was a material being attached to a material planet, as a sponge is attached to the bottom of the sea. All that he touched and ate and wore and used was of the same material Absolute. As to the spiritual there could be a question; as to the material, there could be none. The speculation of occasional philosophers, that matter might not after all be more than a mental phenomenon, was invariably hooted down. “I know that matter is matter by standing on it,” are in substance the words attributed to even so spiritually-minded a man as the great Dr. Johnson. On this point, as perhaps on some others, he may be taken as a spokesman for the Caucasian portion of our race.

And now comes modern physical science reducing matter to a tenuousness only one remove from the purely spiritual, if it is as much as that. Gone is the mass of the mountains, the stoniness of rocks, and the hard solidity of iron. The human body, as someone puts it, is no more than a few pails of water and a handful of ash. Ash and water are alike dissipated into gases, and gases into elements more subtle still. Keeping strictly to the material modern science has reached the confines of materiality. Where it will lead us next, no man knows.

But the inference is not unfair that the world of matter is to a considerable degree, and perhaps altogether, a world of man’s own creation. That is to say, while God is doing one thing with it, the human mind understands another. For the human point of view to develop and develop and develop till it becomes identical with God is perhaps the whole purpose of existence.


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