DEDUCTIONS FROM VARIOUS ATTRIBUTES OF THE SOUL

It has often been said that no proposition is worthy of belief that
is not verified by phenomena. Whilst I do not commit myself to a
maxim so broad in its terms, I have thus far religiously refrained
from advancing an idea that is not so verified. In other words, the
primary object of this book is to interpret phenomena, and not to
advance new ideas, except those which are thrust upon me as necessary
deductions from the terms of my hypothesis. Sincerely believing that
the fundamental propositions of that hypothesis are true, I have not
hesitated to follow them into whatever field they might lead, and to
accept every legitimate conclusion. In pursuance of such deductions I
have been led reluctantly to the conclusion that none of the phenomena
commonly attributed to supermundane agencies afford tangible evidence
of the continued existence of the soul after the death of the body.
I have, however, been more than compensated by the discovery, in
pursuance of the same hypothesis, that in the inherent powers and
attributes of the soul is to be found indubitable evidence of its
immortality. This evidence is based on phenomena which have been, and
may be, produced by experiment. Many of these phenomena have been
already pointed out, but others remain to be considered which have an
important bearing upon the question under immediate consideration;
namely, the immortality of the soul, and its relations to the Supreme
Being.

There are still other attributes and powers of the soul which have
been considered, from which further conclusions may be drawn which may
assist us in forming correct conclusions regarding its status in a
future life. The first of these attributes which I purpose briefly to
discuss is that of memory, and its relations to the question of spirit
identity.

The question as to whether the soul of man retains its identity after
the death of the body, is second only in interest and importance to
the question of immortality. There are many who hold that the soul
is necessarily reabsorbed into the Divine essence, and finds its
compensation for the ills of earthly life in becoming an integral part
of God, and, as such, a participator in his power and glory. This
presupposes a loss of identity, and to most minds would be considered
equivalent to annihilation; by others it is regarded as the highest
conception of eternal felicity. Thus far no one, as far as I am
aware, has attempted to offer any scientific reasons for believing
one way or the other. It seems to me that there is abundant evidence
in phenomena observable in this life to demonstrate, as far as such a
proposition is demonstrable, that the soul does retain its identity in
a more pronounced degree, if possible, than we can retain it in this
objective existence. In what does identity consist, or, more properly
speaking, how is it retained? The answer is, through our consciousness
and memory. It is obvious that if either is lost, identity is lost. It
is equally obvious that if both are retained, identity is retained.
Now, the phenomena alluded to which bear upon the question relate to
the perfect memory of the subjective mind, or soul. This faculty of
subjective memory is implanted in the human soul for some purpose.
It certainly does not pertain to this life, for, as we have seen, it
is only under abnormal conditions that the phenomenon is observable.
It must, therefore, be a part of the Divine economy pertaining to
the future existence of the soul. It has no use here, for objective
recollection is all-sufficient for objective existence and purposes.
The conclusion is irresistible that it is for the purpose, amongst
other things, of enabling the soul to retain its identity. Its bearing
upon the question of future rewards and punishments has already been
commented upon; nevertheless, at the risk of repetition, a further
remark will be ventured. It is obvious that if the soul did not retain
a conscious memory of its earthly life, no adequate or just reward or
punishment could be meted out to it. Even human justice would revolt
against, and human laws would prevent, the infliction of the penalty
for a capital crime, if it were clearly proved that the criminal had so
far lost his mind as to have no recollection of the events of his past
life, or, in other words, had lost conscious identity. Besides, it must
not be forgotten that the soul is the seat of the emotions, as well as
the storehouse of memory. It is obvious that it is only through the
emotions and the memory that rewards can be conferred, or punishments
inflicted, upon the immaterial soul.

Another question which has been incidentally alluded to deserves a
more extended notice, for the reason that it bears directly upon the
question of future rewards and punishments, and is also illustrative
of the general hypothesis under consideration; it is the question of
conscience. Metaphysicians are divided in opinion on this question,
one school holding that conscience is innate and instinctive, and the
other that it is the result of experience and education. My hypothesis
leads to the conclusion that each school is partly right and partly
wrong. Granted that the eternal principles of right and wrong are a
part of the fixed and immutable laws of God, it follows that the soul
of man will, under favorable conditions, have a clear perception of
those laws. Those conditions may or may not be present during the life
of the body. They certainly will be present when the soul is freed
from the clogs of the flesh, and is able to perceive all the fixed
laws of nature. In the mean time, while it is an inhabitant of the
body it is amenable to control by the power of objective suggestion,
and hence is dependent upon the objective education of the individual
for its standard of right and wrong. This standard may be high or low
in any individual case. There will be one standard in one community,
and another in another, all depending upon education and social
environment; but in each case the subjective mind will follow the
suggestions imparted to it by objective education. If the standard
is high in any individual case, the sentiment will gradually become
instinctive, so that the subjective impulses and emotions will play an
important part. If the standard is low, the instinctive emotions will
only be conspicuous for their absence.

Man stands in his relation to the principles of right and wrong in
just the same position that he occupies in his relation to the laws of
electricity or any other natural law. He is struggling to ascertain
the laws in each case for the purpose of placing himself in harmony
with them. His knowledge is of slow growth, but each century finds the
general standard of right and wrong higher than it was the century
before. If the soul possessed, in the normal condition of man, an
instinctive knowledge of those laws, he would not have to await the
slow process of evolution to develop them.

History records the name of but one man in whom the eternal principles
of right and wrong were instinctive. That man was Jesus Christ. He
perceived those laws, as he perceived all spiritual laws, while yet
in the flesh. We may profit by his example and his precepts, but
otherwise we must work out our own salvation, knowing that, when the
soul reaches its final home, it will be in possession of the eternal
standard by which to measure the guilt or innocence of every deed done
in the body.

The only remaining psychic phenomena which I propose to discuss are
those connected with that emotion of the human soul which finds its
expression in the worship of the Supreme Being. This feeling is so
widespread that no system of philosophy is complete that does not take
it into account. Like every other emotion, it has its normal mode of
expression, and its abnormal manifestations. The difference between the
two modes of expression is so great that their identity of origin has
been, to a great extent, lost sight of.

The abnormal manifestation of this emotion now occurs principally among
the uncultivated classes of religious worshippers, and the feeling
has been somewhat contemptuously designated as “emotional religion.”
It is conspicuous in the revival meetings of certain religious sects,
where in former years its manifestations were so violent and unseemly
that it was looked upon as reprehensible; but these exhibitions have
been, of late years, generally repressed, except among the lower orders
of the people. Scientists have tried to account for it on the ground
that it is the result of mesmeric power consciously or unconsciously
exerted by the preachers over their congregations, resulting in an
ecstatic emotion wholly abnormal and entirely unconnected with true
religion. The fact that it sometimes results in a cataleptic condition,
and sometimes in a trance undistinguishable from that produced by
hypnotic processes, lent color to the theory, and has gradually brought
the educated classes to regard the feeling of religious emotion with
distrust. The result is that what used to be known as “vital religion”
is gradually becoming a thing of the past, and is giving place to a
cold, self-contained, unemotional sentiment, which is as unlike true
religious worship as the other, and as abnormal.

It is true that the abnormal manifestations of the emotion are governed
by the same laws, and are produced by the same causes, as other
subjective phenomena. Suggestion plays its part in these as in other
things pertaining to the attributes of the soul; and in these, as in
all others, a wrong, extravagant, or misdirected suggestion produces
abnormal results. But this does not argue that the emotion is abnormal.
There is no emotion of the human soul that has not its abnormal
manifestations when not directed and controlled by reason. The common
experience of every-day life demonstrates this proposition. One of the
most sacred and praiseworthy of all the human emotions is that of love
between the sexes. But the fact that our jails are filled with those
who have indulged in its abnormal manifestations does not argue that
the institution of marriage is abnormal.




The sentiment of worship is as widespread as the sentiment of love;
and that very fact shows that it must be taken into account in
the diagnosis of the human entity, if we would arrive at correct
conclusions. That this sentiment is universal, and is repressed only by
an effort of will, no one will deny. It is its abnormal manifestations
merely that are to be guarded against. Like every other emotion of
the soul, its normal indulgence is in the highest degree healthful
and exalting. The normal expression of the emotion of earthly love
brings us into harmonious relations with our fellow-beings. The normal
expression of the emotion of worship brings the soul into harmonious
relations with its Creator. Every form and act of worship is an
expression of this emotion. It is experienced by all races of the human
family, from the fetich worshipper to the Christian. Each stands in
awe and reverence before some superior power, external to himself, and
capable of controlling his destiny. In proportion to his intelligence
will his conceptions of that power be exalted; and in proportion to the
exaltation of his conceptions will be the intensity of his emotions of
awe, reverence, love, worship.

The conclusions which necessarily follow are of the most important
character. The first and most important–for it includes all the
rest–is that the fact of the existence of the emotion of worship is
demonstrative of the existence of a Supreme Being.

And right here I wish to make an important distinction. The
standard-theological argument in favor of the immortality of the soul
is based upon the following syllogism:

1. There is a universal desire for immortality.

2. The mind of man cannot conceive an object of desire the means for
the attainment of which are not somewhere in existence.

Conclusion: Man is necessarily immortal.

Now, if these premises were demonstrably correct, we might safely
rely upon the conclusion. But they are not correct. The first may be
assumed to be practically true, for the sake of the argument; but the
desire for continued life beyond the grave may be explained upon other
grounds, namely, upon the instinctive desire to prolong life. This
instinct is shared with man by all the animal creation, and pertains,
primarily, to the preservation of animal existence. Man soon learns
that continued animal existence is impossible. He sees that all must
die; but, as “hope springs eternal in the human breast,” he conceives
the hope that he may, somehow, live after the death of the body. The
existence of the desire for immortality is, therefore, traceable
directly to the purely animal instinct of self-preservation.

The second premise is intrinsically absurd. It is obvious that
the brain of man may conceive of many objects of desire which are
manifestly impossible of realization, as well as non-existent. In
the Christian mythology of Milton the idea is developed of a rival
power–Satan–in heaven almost, but not quite, equal to God. In the
struggle which ensued from a rebellion of Satan he was cast out, and
set up a kingdom of his own on this earth. Now, a strictly orthodox
person might say that this was merely an allegorical representation of
an existent fact. But suppose the poet had gone a step further, and had
represented Satan as going outside the universe and setting up a rival
universe of his own. Would that conception have proved that an outside
universe is possible or existent?[58]

Again, the existence of a Supreme Being is thought to have been
demonstrated by the argument of Socrates wherein he confuted
Aristodemus the atheist, and used the statues of Polycletus and the
pictures of Zeuxis to illustrate the idea that, as the structure of
the universe shows evidence of design, therefore there must have been
a designer. Theology has never improved upon this argument, and Paley
makes the same use of the watch for an illustration as Socrates did
of the statues and pictures. It is a strong argument, but it does not
reach the point which the human heart desires to have demonstrated. Nor
does it add force to, but rather weakens, the argument which is found
by all reflecting minds in every tree, leaf, bud, or flower. It simply
proves the existence of a force, which all admit.

What the human heart desires, and what the human mind seeks, are proofs
of the existence of a God, not of mere intelligence and potentiality,
but such a God as Jesus characterized,–a God of love and benevolence,
a God who sustains the relation of Father to all humanity.

It seems to me that in seeking within the realm of human desire for an
argument in proof either of immortality or the existence of a Supreme
Being, theologians have failed to make a necessary distinction between
desires which may or may not be universal and inherent, and desires
which have their source in the affectional emotions. It is upon the
latter only that an argument can be logically predicated. And I may
go further, and say that an argument logically predicated upon the
affectional emotions, is demonstrative. It is true that some of the
emotions of the soul seem to pertain exclusively to this life; but not
all. The emotion of religious worship pertains solely to that invisible
power which we call God. Nevertheless, we may employ the others for
illustration. Let us see how this doctrine applies to the subject under
consideration. Putting it in syllogistic form, we have the following:–

1. The affectional emotions are universal attributes of every normally
developed human mind.

2. No affectional emotion can have an existence in the normally
developed human mind in the absence of an object of affection capable
of reciprocal feeling.

Therefore, when a normally developed human being experiences the
emotion of love or affection, there is necessarily existent an object
of love or affection normally capable of reciprocal emotion.

Thus, the emotion of friendship presupposes the friendly relation
existing between man and his fellow-man.

The emotion of sexual love presupposes the sexual relation and the
existence of persons of the opposite sex normally capable of reciprocal
emotion.

The emotion of parental love presupposes the relation of parent and
child, each normally capable of reciprocal attachment.

It follows that _the emotion of religious worship presupposes the
existence of an object of worship capable of reciprocal emotion_.

If this is not the correct interpretation of the universal sentiment of
worship which is inherent in the breast of every normal human being,
then there is an exception to the laws which govern every other human
emotion. As there are no exceptions in the operation of nature’s laws,
the conclusion is inevitable, not only that the emotion of religious
worship is normal, but that it is the one phenomenal attribute of the
soul which gives to man indubitable evidence of his Divine origin, and
demonstrates the existence of a God of love. It is the connecting link
between man and his Creator. It is the instinctive manifestation of
filial affection which proclaims our Divine pedigree, and demonstrates
the universal brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God.

“Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till
they rest in Thee.”

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