The Essential Orson Pratt
Foreword by David J. Whittaker
Absurdities of Immaterialism, or, A Reply to T. W. P. Taylder’s Pamphlet,
Entitled, “The Materialism of the Mormons or Latter-day Saints, Examined and Exposed.”
(Liverpool: R. James, Printer, 1849)
[p.61]”What is truth?” This is a question which has been asked by many. It is a question supposed to be of difficult solution. Mr. Taylder in his tract against materialism, says, “It is a question which all the philosophers of the Grecian and Roman schools could not answer.” He seems to think the question was unanswerable until the introduction of the gospel; since which time he considers that the veil is taken away, and that “we now enjoy the full blaze of truth.” He further confidently asserts, that “with the materials afforded us in that sacred book, (meaning the New Testament,) we are enabled satisfactorily to answer the question, What is truth?”
What does this author mean by the foregoing assertions? Does he mean, that no truth was understood by the Grecian and Roman schools? That no truth was discerned by the nations, during the first four thousand years after the creation? Or, does he mean, that the gospel truths were not understood until they were revealed? He certainly must mean the latter and not the former. Both the Romans and Grecians could, without the least difficulty, answer the question. “What is truth?” Nothing is more simple than an answer to this question. It is a truth, that something exists in space, and this truth was just as well perceived by all nations before the book called the New Testament existed as afterwards. It is a truth that, “the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles.” This was not learned from that sacred book—the Bible. We admit that the question, what is gospel truth, could not be answered by any one to whom the gospel had never been revealed. Dr. Good, in his “Book of Nature,” says, “general truth may be defined, the connexion and agreement, or repugnancy and disagreement, of our ideas.” This definition we consider erroneous; for it makes general truth depend on the existence of ideas.” Now truth is independent of all ideas. It is a necessary truth that, space is boundless, and that duration is endless, abstract from all connexion and agreement of our ideas, or even of our existence, or the existence of any other being. If neither the universe nor its Creator existed, these eternal unchangeable, and necessary truths would exist, [p.62]unperceived and unknown. Truth is the relation which things bear to each other. Knowledge is the perception of truth. Truth may exist without knowledge, but knowledge cannot exist without truth.
The New Testament unfolds, not all the truths which exist, but some few truths of infinite importance. The vast majority of truths of less importance were discovered independently of that book.
“The followers of Joseph Smith,” says this author, “hold the doctrine of the materiality of all existence in common with the ancient academics.” This, sir, we admit. Our belief, however, in this doctrine, is founded, not on any modern supernatural revelation, unfolding this doctrine, as this author insinuates, but on reason and common sense. The doctrine of immaterialism, in our estimation, is false, and in the highest degree absurd, and unworthy the belief of any true Christian philosopher.
The author of the treatise against materialism has stated his first proposition as follows:—
“The Philosophy of the Mormons is IRRATIONAL.”
What the author means by this proposition is, that it is “irrational” to believe all substance material. To substantiate this proposition he sets out in quest of proof. An immaterial substance is the thing wanted. No other proof will answer. If he can prove the existence of an immaterial substance his point is gained,—his proposition established, and the irrationality of the material theory will be demonstrated.
As we are about to launch forth into the wide field of existence in search of an “immaterial substance,” it may be well to have the term correctly defined, so as to be able to distinguish such a substance from matter. It is of the utmost importance that every reasoner should clearly define the terms he employs. Two contending parties may use the same word in altogether different meanings; and each draw correct conclusions from the meaning which he attaches to the same word; hence arise endless disputes. As we have no confidence in the immaterial theory, we shall let the immaterialist define his own terms. We shall give,
Taylder’s Definition.—”What is meant by an immaterial substance is merely this, that something exists which is not matter and is evidently distinct from matter, which is not dependent on matter for its existence, and which possesses properties and qualities entirely different from those possessed by matter.” (Taylder’s Tract against Materialism. Page 14.)
This definition of an “immaterial substance” is ambiguous. It needs another definition to inform us what he means. Does he mean that ALL of “the properties and qualities” of an immaterial substance are “entirely [p.63]different from those possessed by matter;” and that it possesses NO properties in common with matter? Or does he mean that while it “possesses SOME properties and qualities entirely different” from matter it inherits OTHERS in common with matter? If the latter be his meaning, we see no reason for calling any substance “immaterial.” Iron possesses SOME properties and qualities “entirely different” from all other kinds of matter, and other properties it inherits in common with every other kind. Shall we therefore say that iron is not matter? Among the various kind of matter, each has its distinct properties, and its common properties; and notwithstanding each possesses “entirely different” properties and qualities from all other kinds, yet each is called matter because it possesses some properties in common with all other kinds. Hence the term matter should be given to all substances which possess any properties in common, however wide they may differ in other respects. A substance to be immaterial must possess NO properties or qualities in common with matter. All its qualities must be entirely distinct and different. It is to be regretted that our opponent has not defined an immaterial substance more clearly. As he is ambiguous in his definition, we shall presume that he entertains the same views as the modern advocates of immaterialism generally entertain.
That celebrated writer, Isaac Taylor, says,—”a disembodied spirit, or we should rather say, an unembodied spirit, or sheer mind, is NOWHERE. Place is a relation belonging to extension; and extension is a property of matter; but that which is wholly abstracted from matter, and in speaking of which we deny that it has any property in common therewith, can in itself be subjected to none of its conditions; and we might as well say of a pure spirit that it is hard, heavy, or red, or that it is a cubic foot in dimensions, as say that it is here or there. It is only in a popular and improper sense that any such affirmation is made concerning the Infinite Spirit, or that we speak of God as everywhere present.” * * * “Using the term as we use them of ourselves, God is not here or there.” * * * “When we talk of an absolute immateriality,” continues this author, “and wish to withdraw mind altogether from matter, we must no longer allow ourselves to imagine that it is, or can be, in any place, or that it has any kind of relationship to the visible and extended universe.” (Taylor’s “Physical Theory of Another Life.” Chapter II.) Dr. Good says, “The metaphysical immaterialists of modern times freely admit that the mind has NO PLACE of existence, that it does exist NOWHERE; while at the same time they are compelled to allow that the immaterial Creator or universal spirit exists EVERYWHERE, substantially as well as virtually.” (Good’s “Book of Nature,” Series III., Lecture I.)
Dr. Abercrombie, in speaking upon matter and mind, says, that “in as far as our utmost conception of them extends, we have no grounds [p.64]for believing that they have anything in common.” (Abercrombie on the “Intellectual Powers.” Part I. Sec. I.)
With these definitions, we shall follow our opponent in his researches after an “immaterial substance.” After taking a minute survey of man, he believes he has found in his composition, and in connexion with his bodily organization, something immaterial. He says, “the spirit is the purely immaterial part, which is capable of separation from the body, and can exist independently of the body.”
“The body is that material part, ‘formed out of the dust of the ground,’ and is the medium through which the mind is manifested.” (Taylder’s Tract against Materialism. Page 8.)
That the mind or spirit, “is capable of separation from the body, and can exist independently of the body,” we most assuredly believe; but that it is “immaterial” we deny; and it remains for Mr. Taylder to prove its immateriality. His first proof is founded on his own assertion, that “mind is simple, not compounded.” If this assertion be admitted as true, it affords not the least evidence for the immateriality of mind. Every material atom is simple, not compounded. Is it, therefore, not matter? Must each simple, uncompounded elementary atom be immaterial?
Mr. Taylder next says, “Mind is not perceivable to corporeal organs, matter is so perceivable.” This assertion is altogether unfounded. “Corporeal organs” can perceive neither matter nor mind. The mind alone can perceive: corporeal organs are only the instruments of perception. Bishop Butler, in his Analogy, expressly says, that “our organs of sense prepare and convey on objects, in order to their being perceived, in like matter as foreign matter does, without affording any shadow of appearance, that they themselves perceive.” (Butler’s Analogy. Part I. Chap. I.) The mind clearly perceives its own existence as well as the existence of other matter. Perception, then, is a quality peculiar to that kind of matter called mind. Mr. Taylder further remarks, that “All the qualities of matter are not comparable with the more excellent qualities of mind, such as power and intelligence.” We willing to admit that power and intelligence, and some other qualities of mind, are far superior to the qualities of other matter; but we do not admit that the superiority of some of the qualities of a substance prove its immateriality. The superiority of some qualities has nothing to do with the immateriality of the substance. OXYGEN possesses some qualities, not only distinct from, but superior to, those qualities possessed by BARIUM, STRONTIUM, SILICIUM, GLUCINIUM, ZIRCONIUM, and many other metals and material substances; yet no one from this will draw the conclusion, that oxygen is immaterial. Oxygen is material though it possesses some distinct and superior qualities to other matter; so mind or spirit is material, though it differs in the superiority of some of its qualities from other matter.
[p.65]It is strange, indeed, to see the inconsistencies of this learned author: he remarks, “Mind thinks, matter cannot think. It is the existence of this thinking principle which clearly proves the immateriality of the mind or spirit.” This method of reasoning may be termed (petitio principii), begging the question. First, he assumes that “matter cannot think;” and, second, draws the conclusion that a thinking substance is immaterial. This conclusion is a legitimate one if the premises are granted; but the premises are assumed, therefore the conclusion is false. Prove that mind is not matter before you assume that “matter cannot think.” It would seem from the assertions of this author, that the quality of “thinking” is to be the touchstone—the infallible test—the grand distinguishing characteristic between material and immaterial substances. It matters not, in his estimation, how many qualities different substances inherit in common, if one can be found that thinks, it must be immaterial. There is no one substance out of the fifty or more substances discovered by chemists, but what possesses some qualities “entirely different” from any of the rest; therefore, each substance, when compared with others, has equal claims with that of mind to be placed in the immaterial list. In proving that mind is immaterial, it is not enough to prove that it has some properties entirely distinct from other substances; but it must be proved to have no properties in common with matter. Nothing short of this will agree with the modern notions of immateriality. It must be shown that mind or spirit has no relation to duration or space—no locality—that it must exist “NOWHERE”—that it has no extension—that it exists not “Now” and “Then,” neither “Here” nor “There”—that it cannot be moved from place to place—that it has no form or figure—no boundaries or limits of extension. These, according to the definitions of modern immaterialists, are the negative conditions or qualities absolutely necessary to the existence of all immaterial substance. While the opposite of these, or the positive qualities or conditions are absolutely necessary to the existence of all material substance.
“How do you distinguish,” inquires Mr. Taylder, “between any two given substances, such as, that a block of stone is not a log of wood?” He answers, “Because they possess different qualities.” And then declares, “So also you distinguish between mind and matter.” But the “different qualities” by which “a block of stone” is distinguished from “a log of wood,” do not prove either the stone or the wood to be immaterial; neither do the different qualities by which the substance called mind is distinguished from other substances, prove either the mind or the other substances to be immaterial. So far as the different qualities are evidences, the mind has as good a claim to materiality as the stone or wood.
“The properties of body,” continues our learned opponent, “are size, weight, solidity, resistance, &c.; those of the mind are joy, hope, fear, [p.66]&c.; but weight is not joy, resistance is not hope, size is not fear; therefore, as a block of stone is not a log of wood, so mind is not matter.” That a stone possesses many different qualities from wood, and that mind possesses many different qualities from other substances, we by no means deny; but that these different qualities prove stone, or wood, or mind, or any other substance to be immaterial, we do deny. We care not how many different properties mind possesses over and above other substances; that is altogether foreign from the question. But is it destitute of any or of all the properties which other substances possess? is the question. Is it destitute of “size, weight, solidity, resistance, &c?” If not, then the mind possesses all the essential characteristics of matter, though its peculiar and distinct properties should be multiplied to infinity.
This author calls “weight” one of the properties of matter. What is weight? It is nothing more nor less than force. Matter approaches to, or presses on, other matter with weight, or force, or power. Now matter either exerts this force of itself, or else it is impelled either directly or indirectly by other substances, possessing intelligence, power, and other properties of mind. If matter exerts this power of itself, then it exhibits one of the properties of mind; but if the seat of this power is in that substance called mind, then it is mind that exhibits the power called weight, and not other substances. Mr. Taylder informs us that “it is mind, and mind alone, which is the seat of power.” (Taylder against Materialism. Page 12.) If this be true, (and we feel no disposition to deny it), then weight is not the property of unintelligent matter, but a property of mind. And the same reasoning will apply to all other powers or forces which are generally ascribed to unintelligent matter. They are only the powers or forces of mind, or else other substances exhibit powers or forces which are common to mind: in the latter case, mind could not be immaterial: in the former case, unintelligent matter (if such exist) is deprived of every force usually ascribed to it. It can have neither gravitation, attraction, repulsion, chemical affinity, nor any other conceivable force. Though deprived of all energy or force, unintelligent matter would still be possessed of those inert qualities (if, indeed, they may be called qualities) essential to its existence. These qualities, or rather conditions necessary to its existence, are duration, extension or place, solidity, figure, &c. An immaterial substance must have none of those conditions or qualities.
It is amusing to trace this author’s process of reasoning. He first assumes premises entirely false, argues from the same, shows the deductions to be absurd and triumphantly exclaims, “Mind then is not matter.” We will quote the following specimen: “If the mind,” says this author, “be material and the brain nothing but a large gland, secreting the various affections of thought, hope, joy, memory, &c, then all these [p.67]affections or qualities are material, and must be also little particles of matter, of different forms and dimensions, and perhaps of various colours. Then we might, with the utmost propriety, without the shadow of an absurdity, logically say, ‘the twentieth part of our belief, the half of a hope, the top of memory, the corner of a fear, the north side of a doubt,’ &c. Mind then is not matter.” (Taylder against Materialism. Page 15.) It will be perceived that this logical author, in the foregoing quotation, confounds affections or qualities with mind; that is, he supposes “thought, hope, joy, memory,” &c. all to be material as well as the mind; he then introduces a material brain that secretes the material affections; but what becomes of the material mind he does not tell us; probably the material mind is stowed away in some extremity of the body—in the foot or big toe, so as not to interfere with its material affections, which are secreted in the material brain at the other extremity. After imagining up such an unheard of being, no wonder that he should discover some absurdities in its composition. No wonder that in such a creature of his own invention, there should be, not only “the corner of a fear,” and “the north side of a doubt,” but a cubical imagination with horns to it. No wonder that such frightful absurdities should cause as great a man as Taylder to exclaim with the upper part of a five-cornered assurance, that “Mind then is not matter.” It would be a logical conclusion from his logical absurdities, founded on his material affections of a material mind.
But who does not know that “thought, hope, joy, memory,” and all other affections or qualities are not substances of any kind, but merely different operations or states of the mind? A material mind, possessing the power to think, to feel, to reason, to remember, is not the brain, nor secretions of the brain, nor any other part of the fleshy tabernacle; but it is the being that inhabits it, that preserves its own identity, whether in the body or out of it, and remains unchangeable in its substance whatever changes may happen to the body. This material spirit or mind existed before it entered the body, exists in the body, will exist after it leaves the body, and will be reunited again with the body in the resurrection.
As another specimen of monstrous absurdities logically deduced from absurd premises, we quote the following:—”Materialism” he remarks, “is not only relatively but absolutely absurd. If mind be matter, or matter mind, then we may have the square or cube of joy or grief, of pain or pleasure. We may divide a great joy into a number of little joys, or we may accumulate a great joy by heaping together the solid parts of several little joys. We shall then have the color and shape of a thought. It will be either white, grey, brown, crimson, purple, or it may be a mixture of two or more colors. Then we shall have a dark grey hope, a bright yellow sorrow, a round brown tall pain, and an octagonal green [p.68]belief; an inch of thought, a mile of joy.” We do most cordially agree with Mr. Taylder that these results would be “not only relatively but absolutely absurd;” and only equalled by the absurdity of the premises from which they were deduced. He has assumed that the several STATES or CONDITIONS of the mind, such as joy, grief, pain, pleasure, thought, &c., are material as well as the mind. With the same propriety he might have assumed that MOTION is material as well as the matter moved. Joy is no more a substance than motion, both are merely the states or conditions of substance. As great absurdities could be deduced from assuming that motion is material, as there can be from Mr. Taylder’s assumption that joy is material. As an illustration, let us take this author’s own words, with the exception of substituting iron for mind, motion for the affections of the mind; it will then read thus:—”If” iron “be matter, or matter” iron, “then we may have the square or cube of” a solid motion. “We may divide a great” solid motion “into a number of little” solid motions, “or we may accumulate a great” solid motion “by heaping together the solid parts of several little” solid motions. “We shall then have a color and shape of a” motion. “It will be either white, grey, brown, crimson, purple, or it may be a mixture of two or more colors. Then we shall have a dark grey” motion “a round, brown, tall” motion; “an inch” or “a mile of” solid motion, &c. It is strange that Mr. Taylder did not close his train of reasoning, by saying, “Mind, therefore, is not matter;” and then we could have completed the parallel by saying, iron, therefore, is not matter. If such reasoning proves mind immaterial, similar reasoning will prove any other substance immaterial.
“Mr. Orson Pratt,” observes our author, “calls matter into existence, of which the world knows but little. He has not only ‘intelligent matter,’ but ‘all-wise,’ and ‘all-powerful’ matter. This matter is capable of division into parts; for all matter has length, breadth, and thickness. Then we shall have the half of an intelligent atom of matter, the eighth of an all-wise atom, the thousandth part of an all-powerful atom &c. Such are the absurdities which ‘the Latter-day Saint’ embraces.” Here the author seems to have recovered partially from the wild absurd notions of applying the term material to the affections, and is willing to apply it to substance where it belongs. But he speaks of the division of atoms which does not accord with the general notions of modern philosophy. The immortal Newton says, “It seems probable that God, in the beginning, formed matter in solid, masses, hard, impenetrable, moveable particles.” This does not favor the divisibility of atoms. Newton further observes, “That nature may be lasting, the changes of corporeal things are to be placed only in the various separations, and new associations, and motions of these permanent particles; compound bodies being apt to break, not in the midst of solid particles, but where those particles are laid to-[p.69]gether, and touch only in a few points. These are the views entertained by philosophers generally at the present day, with the exception of here and there an isolated individual who advocates the theory of the infinite divisibility of matter. Perhaps our author may be of that class; for he speaks of the division of atoms. It is admitted that substance is capable of division and subdivision until arriving at its ultimate atoms, after which all further separation ceases. This division of the same kind of substance does not alter or change the nature or properties of the respective parts; if they possessed attraction when united, they also possess it when separated or else attraction is the result of union and ceases with it. So in relation to intelligent substance, without regard to its materiality or immateriality; if it is intelligent as a whole, it is intelligent in its respective parts after division, or else the intelligent power is the result of the union of unintelligent parts, and ceases when the union ceases. Therefore if the intelligent substance, called mind, is intelligent, as a whole, it is intelligent in all its parts; and there would be no more absurdity in speaking of the half, the eighth, or the thousandth part of an intelligent substance, than there would be in speaking of the half, the eighth, or the thousandth part of an attracting substance. And yet Mr. Taylder exclaims, “Such are the absurdities which the ‘Latter-day Saint’ embraces.”
Perhaps our author’s immaterial mind or spirit will not suffer him to believe that the whole spirit of man is made up or consists of parts. If the spirit of man is a substance, as Mr. Taylder admits, though he denies its materiality, then it must be either a simple uncompounded being or atom, or a united collection of such beings or atoms.
Bishop Butler supposes the spirit of man to be a single, simple, indivisible being. He remarks, that “since consciousness is a single and individual power, it should seem that the subject in which it resides must be so too,” “that is the conscious being.” He remarks, that “since consciousness is a single and individual power, it should seem that the subject in which it resides must be so too,” “that is the conscious being.” He further says, “That we have no way of determining by experience what is the certain bulk of the living being each man calls himself; and yet, (continues he), till it be determined that it is larger in bulk than the solid elementary particles of matter, which there is no ground to think any natural power can dissolve, there is no sort of reason to think death to be the dissolution of it, of the living being, even though it should not be absolutely indiscerptible.” (Butler’s Analogy. Part I, Chap. I.) Our author seems to be a little more positive than Butler, and asserts apparently without any doubt, that “mind is simple not compounded.” (Taylder against Materialism. Page 14.) Here, then, according to both Butler and Taylder, we have a simple, uncompounded, indivisible, little [p.70]atom of conscious substance, or, in other words, an intelligent atom. The terms atoms and being are synonymous when applied to a simple indivisible substance so small that Butler intimates that its “bulk” has not been determined to exceed “the solid elementary particles of matter.”
If the spirit of one man is a little atom of intelligent substance having “bulk,” the spirit of every other man is a similar atom; hence in the human bodies now living on the earth, there must exist nearly one thousand million of intelligent atoms, each conscious of its own existence, and capable of originating motion independently of the others. Mr. Taylder says this intelligent atom or spirit “is capable of separation from the body, and can exist independently of the body.” This being admitted, then there must be many thousand million of intelligent atoms which once inhabited bodies but now exist independently of them. This is the legitimate result of the theory which assumes that the spirit of a man is a little conscious being—a substance, simple, uncompounded and indivisible, capable of existing either in or out of a body. Where, then, Mr. Taylder, is the absurdity in believing as the “Saints” do, in the existence of immense numbers of intelligent atoms? It agrees most perfectly with the results of your own theory—the only difference is in the name. You call these little indivisible substances immaterial, we call them material. You apply to them the same powers that we do. You believe them to be conscious, intelligent, and thinking atoms as well as we. The name of a substance does not alter its nature; as for instance some call one of the constituent elements of the atmosphere “azote,” others call it “nitrogen,” but all admit that it possesses the same nature and properties. If this indivisible conscious being, or atom of substance, possesses “bulk,” as Bishop Butler intimates, then in this respect it is like the atoms of all other substances, and therefore it must be matter.
If some atoms can possess various degrees of intelligence, wisdom, and power, whether in the body or out of it, then there is no absurdity in the theory that there are other atoms which are “all-wise” and “all-powerful.” Mr. Taylder admits that there must be a God, and that he is an all-wise and all-powerful being or substance,—that substance must be either a simple uncompounded indivisible being or atom, or a collection of such beings or atoms. If it be an indivisible being or atom, it would prove the existence of one all-wise and all-powerful being or atom: if it be a collection of such beings or atoms, then the theory of all-wise and all-powerful atoms of substance is established. All theistical writers admit the existence of such a substance. It is not the existence of the substance that is questioned, but it is its nature. One class calls it immaterial, another material. Mr. Taylder has undertaken to prove that it is immaterial, but as yet he has not furnished us with even the most distant shadow of an evidence, unless, indeed, his own assertions are evi-[p.71]dence. Indeed, he has nowhere attempted to prove that the spiritual substance of either man or the Deity possesses no properties in common with other substance admitted to be matter.
As another specimen of Taylder’s logic we quote the following:—
“There is another conclusion equally absurd, if the existence of an immaterial substance be denied, and thinking be ascribed to matter, and that is, the mind must always think in the same way, in the same direction.” As a proof of this assumption our author refers to the writings of Priestly, as follows:—”If man,” says Dr. Priestly, “be a material being, and the power of thinking the result of a certain organization of the brain, does it not follow, that all his functions must be regulated by the laws of mechanism, and that, of consequence, all his actions proceed from an irresistible necessity?” “The doctrine of necessity,” continues Priestly, “is the immediate result of the doctrine of the materiality of man; for mechanism is the undoubted consequence of materialism.”
We are willing to admit that “an irresistible necessity” would be the inevitable consequence of assuming that “the power of thinking is the RESULT of a CERTAIN ORGANIZATION of the BRAIN.” But this is a most absurd assumption; for if “the power of thinking be the result of a certain organization of the brain,” then, when that organization ceases, the power of thinking would cease also, and there could be no separate existence for the mind or spirit.
But we believe that the power of thinking is not the RESULT of a brain organization, but the original property of that substance called spirit or mind, which can exist independently of a brain organization, and entirely separate and apart from the body.
Priestly asserts that “mechanism is the undoubted consequence of materialism.” But this is a baseless assertion. Mechanism implies the incapability of acting only according to the laws of Mechanism, as it is acted upon: hence, “an irresistible necessity characterizes all of its movements.” But not so with an intelligent thinking substance: it can originate its own motions, and act according to its own will, independently of the laws of mechanism: hence a perfect freedom characterizes all of its movements. Before Priestly or any other man can logically assert that “mechanism is the undoubted consequence of materialism,” he must first prove that matter cannot think, and will, and move, or, in other words, he must prove that mind is not matter.
Our author endeavours to overthrow materialism because of the absurdities which Darwin advocated. He quotes the words of that author as follows:—”Ideas are material things: they are contractions, motions, or configurations of the fibres of the organs of sense.” “Here,” exclaims Mr. Taylder, “is the real perfection of materialism! It destroys man’s [p.72]accountability to God!” There is then no such thing as praise or blame, fear or hope, reward or punishment, and, consequently, no religion. “How,” inquires our author, “can the Mormons reconcile this conclusion with their religious fabric, built on revelations and visions?” “If their God be a material being, he must necessarily act mechanically.” We reply that we do not wish to reconcile our religious fabric with Darwin’s absurdities. Darwin has assumed that “ideas, contractions, motions, or configurations,” are all material.
What man, disencumbered of a strait waistcoat, could ever believe in such ridiculous nonsense! It is only equalled by Taylder’s material joys and sorrows, of which we have already had occasion to speak. The substance of the Deity, nor no other intelligent substance, is dependent on the “contractions, motions, or configurations” of organical fibres for its actions, but it is a self-moving substance, not subject to the law of necessity or mechanism like unintelligent matter.
“The last consideration,” says this immaterialist author, “which it is necessary to advance for the real existence of mind, is consciousness.” (Taylder’s Tract against Materialism. Page 18.)
“The real existence of mind” is not doubted by us. Mr. Taylder has strayed entirely from the question. The question is not whether mind has a real existence, but whether it is immaterial.
“It is generally considered,” remarks this author, “that in a few years our bodies are entirely changed. How, then, on the material scheme, can a Mormon tell that he is the same person now that he was twenty years since, or shall be ten years hence?” We reply that it is only the substance of the material body that is constantly changing, while the material spirit which inhabits the body, remains unchangeable. Personal identity consists, not in the identity of a changeable body, but in the identity of an unchangeable substance called spirit, which feels, thinks, reasons, and remembers. The Athenian galley, which was sent every year to Delos for a thousand years, had been repaired so often that every part of its materials had been changed more than once, therefore it did not remain the same identical substance during that period of time; but if a certain unchangeable diamond had been carried within this galley for one thousand years, it would be the same identical substance still, though the galley that carried it had been changed ever so often; so likewise let the material body meet with an entire change every few years, the unchangeable material spirit which it carries within will remain the same identical substance still.
Indeed, if Bishop Butler’s intimation be correct, that the spirit of man is a small indivisible being or atom, whose bulk has not been determined to exceed the size of small elementary particles of matter, then it would be impossible for such a small conscious indivisible atom to [p.73]change its substance in the least degree, and therefore it must preserve its entire identity under all possible circumstances.
Our author next inquires, “How can spiritual matter occupy the same space with the matter of which the body consists?” We answer that it cannot occupy the same identical space with other matter, for this is in all cases an absolute impossibility. It can only occupy its own space in union with the matter of which the body consists. Every particle of the body occupies a distinct space of its own, and no two particles of the body can exist in the same space at the same time, neither can any atom of spirit occupy the same space at the same time with any other atom or substance. All substances are porous. It can be proved that the component particles of all known substances are not in absolute contact, for all bodies composed of these particles can be compressed, and their dimensions reduced without diminishing their mass. All organized substances are porous in a high degree, that is their “volume consists partly of material particles and partly of interstitial spaces, which spaces are either absolutely void and empty, or filled by some substance of a different species from the body in question.” (Lardner’s Scientific Lectures. Vol. II. Lecture 1.) The material body being porous, there is room for the material spirit to exist in close connexion with its component parts, and this too without infringing upon the impenetrability of substances. If the material spirit be as small as Bishop Butler intimates, it will not occupy much room in the body. Many millions of millions of such spirits, if “not larger in bulk than the elementary particles of bodies,” could occupy much less room that a cubic inch of space.
We have now examined all of Mr. Taylder’s arguments (if, indeed, they may be called arguments) which have been adduced in support of his first proposition, which it will be recollected, was stated in these words—”The philosophy of the Mormons is IRRATIONAL?” or, in other words, it is irrational to believe in the materiality of all substance. How far he has supported this proposition our readers can judge for themselves. He has not brought forth the least shadow of evidence to prove that such a thing as an immaterial substance exists. He has, indeed, argued, that such a thing as mind or spirit has a real existence—that it thinks, and feels, and is conscious. In all these things he agrees with us, without the least variation. He argues that the substance called mind, possesses many different and superior qualities to all other substance; his views in this respect do not differ in the least from ours. He has clearly exhibited the absurdities of Priestly, Darwin, and various other writers, who have made mind the result of the motions of the brain or of its organization. We agree with him most perfectly in the rejection of such absurdities, but in no place has he brought forward argument, reason, or evidence to prove that the substance called mind possesses no [p.74]properties in common with other substances; therefore he has utterly failed in establishing his proposition. As no immaterialist can, from experiment, reason, or any other process whatsoever, glean the least shadow of evidence in favour of the immateriality of any substance, therefore we shall now on our part show—
I.—THAT IMMATERIALISM IS IRRATIONAL, OPPOSED TO TRUE PHILOSOPHY. II.—THAT AN IMMATERIAL SUBSTANCE CANNOT EXIST.
II. THAT AN IMMATERIAL SUBSTANCE CANNOT EXIST.
I.—Immaterialism is absurd, and opposed to true Philosophy.
1.—The immaterialist assumes that god consists of an immaterial substance, indivisible in its nature, “whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” The indivisibility of a substance implies impenetrability; that is, two substances cannot exist in the same space at the same time; hence, if an indivisible substance exist everywhere, as it cannot be penetrated, it will absolutely exclude the existence of all other substances. Such a substance would be a boundless, infinite solid, without pores, incapable of condensation, or expansion, or motion, for there would be no empty space left to move to. Observation teaches us that this is not the case; therefore an infinitely extended, indivisible, immaterial substance is absurd in the highest degree, and opposed to all true philosophy.
2. The immaterialist teaches that the godhead consists of three persons of one substance, and that each of these persons can be everywhere present. Now in order to be everywhere present, each of these persons must be infinitely extended, or else each must be susceptible of occupying two or more places at the same time. If a substance be infinitely extended it ceases to be a person; for to all persons there are limits of extension called figure; but that which is not limited can have no figure, and therefore cannot be a person. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that a person should be included in a finite extent. Now that which is limited within one finite extent, cannot be included within some other extent at the same time; therefore it is utterly impossible for a person to be in two or more places at the same time, hence immaterialism is totally absurd and unphilosophical.
3. The immaterialist teaches that the substance of the Deity is not only omnipresent and indivisible, but that all other substances are contained in his substance and perform all their motions in it without any mutual action or resistance. The profound and illustrious Newton, in the Scholium at the end of the “Principia,” has fallen into this error; he says, “God is one and the same God always and everywhere. He is omnipresent, not by means of his virtue alone, but also by his substance, for virtue cannot subsist without substance. In him all things are contained, [p.75]and move, but without mutual passions God is not acted upon by motions of the bodies; and they suffer no resistance from the omnipresence of God.” Here we have an omnipresent substance, which is said by immaterialists to be so compact as to be indivisible, with worlds moving in it without suffering any resistance: this is the climax of absurdity. All masses of substance with which we are acquainted, are susceptible of division, yet even in these, bodies cannot move without being resisted; how much more impossible it would be for worlds to exist and move in an indivisible substance without resistance, yet this is the absurdity of the immaterial hypothesis. There is nothing too ridiculous or too unphilosophical to be incorporated in an immaterial substance when its existence has been once assumed.
The reflecting mind turns away from such fooleries with the utmost disgust, and feels to pity those men who have degraded the great and all-wise Creator and Governor of the universe by applying to him such impossible, unheard of, and contradictory qualities. The heathen, in their wildest imaginations never fancied up a god that could begin to compare with the absurd qualities ascribed to the immaterialists’ god.
II.—AN IMMATERIAL SUBSTANCE CANNOT EXIST.
1. We shall first endeavour to show what is absolutely essential to the existence of all substance. It will be generally admitted that space is essential to existence. Space, being boundless, all substances must exist in space. Space is not the property of substance, but the place of its existence. Infinite space has no qualities or properties of any description excepting divisibility. Some eminent philosophers have supposed extension to be a property of space, but such a supposition is absurd. Extension is space itself, and not a property of space. As well might we say that azote is a property of nitrogen, whereas they are only two different names given to the same substance, as to say that extension is a property of space. Infinite space is divisible, but otherwise it cannot possibly be described, for it has no other properties or qualities by which to describe it. It has no boundaries—no figure—no other conceivable properties of any description. It has a variety of names such as space, extension, volume, magnitude, distance, &c., all of which are synonymous terms.
2. Duration is also essential to the existence of substance. there can be no such thing as existence without duration. Duration, like infinite space, is divisible, but otherwise it has no properties or qualities of any description. Like space we can call it by different names, as duration, time, period, &c; but to give it any other kind of description would be absolutely impossible. Infinite space can only be distinguished from duration by certain imaginary qualities, which can be assigned to finite portions of it, but which cannot be assigned to duration. We can conceive [p.76]of cubical, prismatical and spherical portions of space, but we cannot conceive of portions of duration under any kind of shape. Both space and duration are entirely powerless, being immovable, yet both are susceptible of division to infinity. To assist us in our future remarks we shall give the following definitions:—
Definition 1.—SPACE is magnitude, susceptible of division.
Definition 2.—A POINT is the negative of space, or the zero at which a magnitude begins or terminates; it is not susceptible of division.
Definition 3.—DURATION is not magnitude, but time susceptible of division.
Definition 4.—AN INSTANT is the negative of duration, or the zero at which duration begins or terminates; it is not susceptible of division.
Definition 5.—MATTER is something that occupies space between any two instants, and is susceptible of division and of being removed from one portion of space to another.
Definition 6.—NOTHING is the negative of space, of duration, and of matter; it is the zero of all existence.
3. Modern immaterialists freely admit, as we have already shown, that “a disembodied spirit” is NOWHERE. “We must no longer allow ourselves to imagine,” says the immaterialist, “that it is or can be, in any place.” (Taylor’s Physical Theory of another Life. Chapter II.) But that which does not occupy any place or space, has no magnitude, and is not susceptible of division; therefore it must be an unextended point or nothing—(see definitions 2 and 6,) the negative of both space and matter, that is, the negative of all existence. Immateriality is a representative of nothing: immaterial substance is only another name for no substance; therefore such a substance does not, and cannot exist.
4. Having shown that an immaterial substance can have no existence, because it has no relation to space, we shall next show that it can have no existence, because it has no relation to duration. Isaac Taylor says, “that which is wholly abstracted from matter, and in speaking of which we deny that it has any property in common therewith, can in itself be subjected to none of its CONDITIONS.” One of the conditions absolutely essential to the existence of matter is duration or time. (See definition 5.) That which is not subjected to the condition of duration, must be subjected to the condition of an instant, which is the negative of duration; but nothing is also the negative of duration and of substance; (see definition 4 and 6;) therefore that which has no duration is nothing, and cannot be a substance; hence an immaterial substance cannot exist.
There are many truths which may be called FIRST TRUTHS, or self-evident truths, which cannot be demonstrated, because there are no truths of a simpler nature that can be adduced to establish them. Such truths are the foundation of all reasoning. They must be admitted without dem-[p.77]onstration, because they are self-evident. That space and duration are essential conditions to the existence of all substance, may be denominated a self-evident truth; if so, it is useless to undertake to prove it. And in this case, the foregoing need not be considered as a demonstration, but merely different forms of expression representing the same self-evident truth.
IMMATERIALISTS ARE ATHEISTS
There are two classes of Atheists in the world. One class denies the existence of God in the most positive language: the other denies his existence in duration or space. One says, “There is no God;” the other says, “God is not here or there, any more than he exists now and then.” (Isaac Taylor’s Physical Theory of Another Life Chap. II.) The infidel says, God does not exist anywhere. The Immaterialist says, “He exists Nowhere.” (Good’s Book of Nature.) The infidel says, There is no such substance as God. The Immaterialist says, There is such a substance as God, but it is “without Parts.” (First of the Thirty Nine Articles; also I Art. Methodist Discipline.) The Atheist says, There is no such substance as Spirit. The Immaterialist says, “A Spirit, though he lives and acts, occupies no room, and fills no space, in the same way and after the same manner as matter, not even so much as does the minutest grain of sand.” (Rev. David James on the Trinity, in Unitarianism Confuted. Lec. VII., page 382.) The Atheist does not seek to hide his infidelity: but the Immaterialist, whose declared belief amounts to the same thing as the Atheist’s endeavours to hide his infidelity under the shallow covering of a few words.
The “thinking principle,” says Dr. Thomas Brown, “is essentially one, not extended and divisible, but incapable by its very nature, of any subdivision into integral parts. (Brown’s “Philosophy of the Human Mind.” Lec. XCVII.) What is this but the rankest kind of infidelity couched in a blind, plausible form. That which is “not extended and not divisible” and “without parts,” cannot be anything else than nothing. Take away these qualities and conditions, and no power of language can give us the least idea of existence. The very idea conveyed by the term existence is something extended, divisible, and with parts. Take these away, and you take away existence itself. It cannot be so much as the negative of space, or, what is generally called, an indivisible point, for that has a relation to the surrounding spaces. It cannot be so much as the negative of duration, or, what is generally called, an indivisible instant, for that has a relation to the past and future. Therefore, it must be the negative of all existence, or what is called absolutely NOTHING. Nothing, and nothing only, is a representative of that which has no relation [p.78]to space or time—that is, unextended, indivisible, and without parts. Therefore, the immaterialist is a religious Atheist; he only differs from the other classes of Atheists, by clothing an indivisible unextended NOTHING with the powers of a god. One class believes in no God; the other class believes that NOTHING is god, and worships it as such. There is no twisting away from this. The most profound philosopher in all the ranks of modern Christianity, cannot extricate the Immaterialists from atheism. He cannot show the least difference between the idea represented by the word nothing, and the idea represented by that which is unextended, indivisible, and without parts, having no relation to space or time. All the philosophers of the universe could not give a better or more correct definition of Nothing. And yet this is the god worshipped by the Church of England—the Methodists—and millions of other atheistical idolaters, according to their own definitions, as recorded in their respective articles of faith. An open Atheist is not so dangerous as the Atheist who couches his atheistical doctrines under the head of “ARTICLES OF RELIGION.” The first stands out with open colours and boldly avows his infidelity; the latter, under the sacred garb of religion, draws into his yawning vortex, the unhappy millions who are persuaded to believe in, and worship an unextended indivisible nothing without parts, deified into a god. A pious Atheist is much more serviceable in building up the kingdom of darkness than one who openly, and without any deception, avows his infidelity.
No wonder that this modern god has wrought no miracles and given no revelations since his followers invented their “Articles of Religion.” A being without parts must be entirely powerless, and can perform no miracles. Nothing can be communicated from such a being; for, if nothing give nothing, nothing will be received. If, at death, his followers are to be made like him, they will enjoy, with some of the modern Pagans, all the beauties of annihilation. To be made like him! Admirable thought! How transcendently sublime to behold an innumerable multitude of unextended nothings, casting their crowns at the feet of the great, unextended, infinite Nothing, filling all space, and yet “without parts!” There will be no danger of quarrelling for want of room; for the Rev. David James says, “Ten thousand spirits might be brought together into the smallest compass imaginable, and there exist without any inconvenience for want of room. As materiality,” continues he, “forms no property of a spirit, the space which is sufficient for one, must be amply sufficient for myriads, yea, for all that exist.” (Rev. David James on the Trinity, in Unitarianism Confuted. Lec. VII., page 382.) According to this, all the spirits that exist, “could be brought together into the smallest compass imaginable,” or, in other words into no compass at all; for, he says, a spirit occupies “no room, and fills no space.” What an admi-[p.79]rable description of Nothing! Nothing “occupies no room, and fills no space!” If myriads of Nothings were “brought together into the smallest compass imaginable,” they would “there exist without any inconvenience for want of room.” Everything which the Immaterialist says, of the existence of Spirit, will apply without any variation, to the existence of Nothing. If he says that his god cannot exist “Here” or “There,” the same is true of Nothing. If he affirms that he cannot exist “Now” and “Then,” the same can, in all truth, be affirmed of Nothing. If he declares, that he is “unextended,” so is Nothing. If he asserts that he is “indivisible” and “without parts,” so is Nothing. If he declares that a spirit “occupies no room and fills no space,” neither does Nothing. If he says a spirit is “Nowhere,” so is Nothing. All that he affirms of the one, can, in like manner, and, with equal truth, be affirmed of the other. Indeed, they are only two words, each of which express precisely the same idea. There is no more absurdity in calling Nothing a substance, and clothing it with Almighty powers, than there is in making a substance out of that which is precisely like nothing, and imagining it to have Almighty powers. Therefore, an immaterial g
SUBSTANCE IS MATERIAL
That spirit or mind has a relation to space, is evident from the fact of its location in the body. The body itself exists in space, therefore every particle of substance which it contains must exist in space. No point can be assumed in the body but what has a relation to the surrounding space or extension. Therefore spirit must have a relation to extension or it cannot exist in the body. All unextended points have a relation to space, though they are no part of space, and do not occupy space; but an unextended substance to have no relation to space cannot be as much as a point. A point is a located nothing, but an unextended substance is nothing, having no location.
What can be more unphilosophical, contradictory, and absurd, than to assume that something can exist that is “unextended,”—that “occupies no room, fills no space,”—has “no parts?” We ask our readers to pause for a moment, and endeavour to conceive of a substance that has no parts. Grasp it if you can in your imaginations. Think of its existing where there is no space. Conceive, if you can in your imaginations. Think of its existing where there is no space. Conceive, if you can, of a locality outside of the bounds of a boundless space. Do not your judgments, and every power of your minds revolt at the absolute absurdities and palpable contradictions? By this time, perhaps, you are ready to inquire, can it be possible that any man in all the world could believe in such [p.80]impossibilities? Yes, it is possible. These very absurdities now stand in bold relief, not only in the most approved philosophical works of modern times, but incorporated in the very “Articles of Religion” which millions have received as their rule of faith.
That spirit or mind has a relation to duration is manifest in the act of remembering. Through the memory the mind perceives itself to be the same conscious being now, that it was, an hour, a day, a year ago; it perceives that itself has existed through a certain period of duration. There is as much certainty of its own relations to duration as there is of any such relation in any other substance whatever. If there is no certainty that mind has a relation to duration, there is no certainty that any other substance has such a relation; hence all would be uncertainty, even our own existence. Bishop Berkeley denied the existence of the material world, and the first Article of his religion swept away the immaterial world from space; and the modern immaterialist sweeps it away from all relation to time. So between them all, space and time are pretty well cleaned out; not so much as a nest egg left to replenish the great infinite void.
Mind, like all other matter, is susceptible of being moved from place to place. We see this exemplified in the movements of the mind through the medium of the body which conveys it from place to place on the surface of the earth. But though man was stationary upon the earth’s surface, the earth itself with all its inhabitants, is moving with the rapid velocity of nineteen miles every second, which proves to a demonstration that mind is capable of being moved from place to place with a velocity far exceeding that of a cannon ball. But motion involves the ideas of both space and time. Mind cannot be moved without being moved in space; it cannot pass from point to point instantaneously. However rapid the velocity, time is an essential ingredient to all motion. That eminent and profound philosopher, the late Professor Robison of Edinburgh, says, “In motion we observe the successive appearance of the thing moved in different parts of space. Therefore, in our idea of motion are involved the ideas or conceptions of space and time.”
“All things are placed in space, in the order of situation. All events happen in time, in the order of succession.”
“No motion can be conceived as instantaneous. For, since a moveable, in passing from the beginning to the end of its path, passes through the intermediate points; to suppose the motion along the most minute portion of the path instantaneous, is to suppose the moveable in every intervening point at the same instant. This is inconceivable and absurd.” (Robison’s Mechanical Philosophy. Vol I. Introduction.) The motion of mind, therefore is another positive proof that it has a relation to both space and duration.
[p.81]”Extension and resistance,” says Dr. Thomas Brown, “are the complex elements of what we term matter; and nothing is matter to our conception, or a body, to use the simpler synonymous term which does not involve these elements.” Figure, magnitude, divisibility, are only different modifications of extension. Solidity, liquidity, viscidity, hardness, softness, roughness, smoothness, are different modifications of resistance. All these terms are only extension and resistance, modified in a certain degree, and under other names. Our notion of extension is supposed by Dr. Brown to be acquired from our notion of time as successive, involving length and divisibility. Our notion of resistance he supposes to be obtained through our muscular organs. These organs are first exerted, and then excited by something without, and in their turn excite the mind with a feeling of resistance. The feeling of resistance combined with the feeling of extension gives us the notion of matter. If Dr. Brown’s views be correct, no one can acquire a notion of matter, by seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or simple touch. Either or all of these will only produce certain feelings in the mind without giving us any notion of an external extended resistance. A muscular effort opposed by some substance or foreign body is the only possible way, according to his theory, for the infant mind to obtain a notion of extended solidity or resistance. (Brown’s Philosophy of the Human Mind. From the xx to the xxix Lecture inclusive.)
If solidity and extension then are the essential characteristics of matter; and if the resistance of a muscular effort be the only possible way of learning these characteristics; it may be asked, how did Dr. Brown learn that the rays of light are material? He has frequently in his philosophy called light material. Has light in any way resisted his muscular efforts? Have the muscular organs ever been able to grasp a ray of light? Have the particles of light either singly or collectively ever acted upon our muscular organs in such manner as to give us a notion of extension and resistance? Have they ever affected the mind in any way only to impart to it the feeling of color? Does not Dr. Brown himself repeatedly affirm, that light can only impart the sensation of color; and that extension, magnitude, figure, solidity, can never be known by the sense of seeing? Does he not assert, that “nothing is matter to our conception which does not involve these elements?” Why then does he assume light to be material?
If, then, light can be ranked as a material substance without exhibiting the least resistance to the muscular organs, why not mind or spirit be considered material also? Why believe that light consists of inconceivably small vibratory or emanating particles of matter from the mere affection of mind called color, and yet be unwilling to believe that the mind affected is material? If that which produces a sensation or feeling be regarded a solid extended substance, independently of muscular [p.82]resistance, where is the impropriety, in regarding that which receives the sensation or feeling, as a solid extended substance also?
Dr. Brown, and all other immaterialists, universally believe that the sensation of smell is produced by small material particles, acting upon our olfactory nerves. But we ask, how is Dr. Brown or any other person to determine those odorous particles to be material? It may be said, that we determine them to be solid and extended by tracing them to the substances from which they emanate. But can it be proved that they constitute any part of the solid extended substance from which they emanate, any more than light is a part of the substance from which it emanates? We know a rose to be solid and extended, not from the sensation of vision or smell, but from the sensation of resistance which it offers to our muscular organs when we attempt to grasp it. But because a rose is solid and extended, that does not prove that light and fragrance, by which we discern its color and smell, are any part of the rose.
If Dr. Brown’s theory be true, it is absolutely impossible to prove that the odoriferous particles which affect us with the sensation of fragrance, are a solid extended substance. These particles of odour appear, indeed, to have been connected in some way with bodies from which they emanate; but there is no possible means for the muscular powers to determine them to be parts of those bodies, any more than the colored light or the heat which are also transmitted from them. No one in speaking of a rose would think of classifying heat and light as a portion of its solid substance; yet both heat and light, like the particles of odour, are intimately connected with it, and are constantly being thrown off from it.
“What is there,” inquires Dr. Brown, “which we can discover in the mere sensation of fragrance, that is itself significant of solidity, extension, or whatever we may regard as essential to the existence of things without? As a mere change in the form of our being, it may suggest to us the necessity of some cause or antecedent of the change. But it is far from implying the necessity of a corporeal cause;—any more than such a direct corporeal cause is implied in any other modification of our being, intellectual or moral—in our belief, for example, of the most abstract truth, at which we may have arrived by a slow development of proposition after proposition in a process of internal reflective analysis, or in the most refined and sublime of our emotions, when, without thinking of any one of the objects around, we have been meditating on the divinity who formed them—himself the purest of spiritual existences. Our belief of a system of external things, then, does not, as far as we can judge from the nature of the feelings, arise from our sensations of smell, more than from any of our internal pleasures or pains.” (Brown’s Philosophy of the Human Mind. Lecture xx.)
[p.83]Odorous particles, then, have never been submitted to Dr. Brown’s only test of materiality, and yet he, and all other immaterialists, without any hesitation, pronounce them to be matter. The spirit, like these particles of odour, can exist in connexion with the body or separate from it; and yet it forms no part of the fleshy tabernacle. If like the particles of odour, it really eludes the grasp of the muscular organs, and if neither these odoriferous particles, nor the spirit, can be proved by any muscular effort to have solidity and extension; why, then, should one be called material, and the other immaterial?
If the mind be unextended, how can it receive any sensations from things without? It could not act upon bodily organs, for they are extended. Neither could bodily organs act upon it.
Philosophers have endeavoured to invent numberless hypothesis to account for the action of matter on the mind, which they have assumed to be immaterial. The old Peripatetic doctrine of perception, by species or phantasms, which for so many centuries held so unlimited a sway in the philosophic world, was probably originated to connect material with immaterial substances. When this absurdity slowly died away, other hypothesis, no less erroneous, immediately supplied its place. Des Cartes, seeing no possibility of any reciprocal action between matter and something that was inextended, invented his system of occasional causes, and represented the external world entirely incapable of affecting the mind in any way whatever. He ascribed all the sensations and affections of the mind to the immediate agency of the Deity, virtually rendering external objects entirely useless to the mind. This conjecture has been modified by succeeding philosophers without, however, removing its absurdities. It is useless to revert to all the absurd theories which have from time to time distracted the metaphysical world, and which have been originated for no other purpose than to uphold the still greater absurdity of immaterialism. Philosophers of ancient times imagined the existence of an immaterial substance, unextended in its nature, like nothing. To support this wild and vague imagination, learned metaphysicians have given birth to innumerable conjectures, in order to connect this imaginary substance with the material world.
Dr. Brown, however, being a little more wise than the immaterialists who preceded him, does not attempt to connect the mutual affections, existing between matter and mind, by substituting some conjectural intervening causes. Instead of this, he advocates the direct affection of the mind by the presence of material objects—that the change of state in the one is produced by the change of state in the other, independently of intervening causes. Now this, in our view, is really what happens.
We believe that matter can only act upon mind because mind is an extended material substance. But Dr. Brown supposes there is no ab-[p.84]surdity in matter acting upon that which is unextended. He endeavours to substantiate the possibility of the direct mutual affections of mind and matter, by referring to some examples of matter acting upon matter as in gravitation. (Brown’s Philosophy of the Human Mind. Lecture xxx.) But we do not conceive these cases to be in the least analogous; for there is no absurdity in supposing one extended substance to act upon another which is also extended. But for extended substances with parts to act upon unextended substances is without a parallel, and inconceivably absurd. Indeed there could be no action at all; an immaterial mind could not act upon an immaterial mind any more than nothing could act upon nothing. To talk about matter affecting that which is inextended and without parts, is to talk about matter affecting nothing.
The very fact of the external organs affecting the mind without any intervening cause, the same as other matter affects other matter, is an argument of the strongest kind in favour of the materiality of mind. A piece of iron is affected in a certain manner by introducing into its presence a loadstone, so the mind is affected in a certain manner by the presence of light upon the retina, or by the presence or odour upon the olfactory nerve. If, then, mind can be directly affected by other substances, the same as matter directly affects matter, why should it be called an immaterial substance?
If resistance to our muscular efforts, as Dr. Brown supposes, be our only test of solidity and extension, and consequently of matter, then mind itself has the greatest claims to materiality. A muscular effort is nothing more than an effort of the mind. Without the mind the muscles are incapable of any effort whatsoever. Two men stretch out their arms, press their hands together, and resist each other with great force. In this example as it is commonly said, the muscular efforts of the one are resisted by the muscular efforts of the other; but as the muscles have no power of themselves, the facts of the case are, that the mind of the one truly resists the mind of the other through the medium of their respective muscles. If that which causes resistance then be material, mind must be material.
If two bodies of iron of equal size were moving with equal velocities towards each other, upon meeting they would destroy each others motion, and the next moment, though in contact, there would be no signs of resistance; not so with the resistance which mind offers to mind through the medium of the muscular organs; the resistance can be continued at the option of the two resisting minds; hence mind exhibits resistance in a greater degree than other substances, and should, therefore, according to Dr. Brown’s test, be considered material in preference to all other substances.
[p.85]No two atoms of spirit or any other matter can occupy two or more places at the same time. We have never known of a circumstance of the spirit of man residing in the body and out of it at the same time. No particles of light, odour, heat, electricity, can occupy two places at once. These substances can only be extensively diffused by being extensive in quantity. The particles of light which enter the right eye are not the same which enter the left eye. Though their qualities may be exactly alike, yet they are separate individual substance, as much so as if they were millions of miles asunder. The same is true of the atoms of spirit and all other substances.
OF THE ESSENCE OF SUBSTANCES
Philosophers of modern times have asserted that we know nothing of the essence of bodies. It is affirmed that all that can be known of mind or matter, are merely its properties. Dr. Abercrombie, says, “We talk, indeed, about matter, and we talk about mind; we speculate concerning materiality and immateriality, until we argue ourselves into a kind of belief that we really understand something of the subject. The truth is, we understand nothing. Matter and mind are known to us by certain properties: but in regard to both it is entirely out of the reach of our faculties to advance a single step beyond the facts which are before us. Whether in their substratum or ultimate essence, they are the same, or whether they are different we know not, and never can know in our present state of being.” (Abercrombie on the Intellectual Powers. Part I. Sec. I.)
There are many truths which we ascertain by reflection, independently in a great measure of our senses. We are assured and know in our own minds that duration must be endless, and that space must be boundless, not because we have learned these truths directly through the medium of our senses, or have been able to demonstrate them by any process of reasoning. In the same way we know concerning the essence of bodies. Instead of being entirely ignorant on the subject, as modern philosophers assert, it is directly the opposite; we know the essence of all substances. Solidity is the only essence in existence. Although the ultimate atoms of matter cannot come under the cognizance of our senses, and we cannot demonstrate their solidity by any process of reasoning, yet we are none the less assured of their solidity. We believe that they are solid because it is impossible for us to believe otherwise. We are as certain that the ultimate atoms of all substances are solid, [p.86]as we are that they exist. What we mean by solidity is, that all substances completely fill a certain amount of space, and that it is impossible for them ever to fill a greater or less amount of space.
The amount of absolute space occupied by any substance is constant, that is the elementary atoms cannot be increased or decreased in magnitude in the least degree. Particles may be divided, but their respective parts occupy the same amount of space when separated as when united. Condensation or expansion is not a property of the ultimate atoms of bodies, but merely the relation which these atoms sustain to each other. When a collection of atoms called body are forced into a closer connexion with each other, the body is said to be condensed. When their relative distances are increased the body is expanded. The maximum of density excludes all pores. In such a condition the space is wholly occupied—any further condensation is absolutely impossible. A bar of iron varies its dimensions with its temperature, while the atoms of which the bar consists remain unchangeable in size. The pores of the iron increase in the same proportion as the bar increases, and diminish as the bar diminishes. Solidity is universally supposed to be a property of atoms, but this is an error. Solidity is not a property, but only another name for the essence. A property must be a property of something; but solidity is not a property of anything—it is the essence itself—the thing that exists, aside from all properties and powers. If we suppose solidity to be a property, then it is evident that there must be a distinction between atoms as possessors, and solidity as the thing or property possessed; but we find it impossible to conceive of atoms separate and apart from solidity. Deprive atoms of solidity, and they are deprived not of a property, but of existence itself, and nothing remains. Solidity is associated with existence, and we cannot conceive of the one independently of the other. Solidity, then, is the essence to which all qualities belong—taste, smell, colour, weight, &c., are the affections of solids. Every feeling or thought is the feeling or thought of solids. All the powers of the universe, from the almighty powers of Jehovah down to the most feeble powers that operate, are the powers of solid atoms. We can conceive of solid atoms existing without powers, but we cannot conceive of atoms existing without solidity; therefore the very essence of all substance is solidity. Love, joy, and all other affections are only the different states of this essence.
When the essence or solidity of substance is considered by itself, independently of its powers, there cannot possibly be any difference in atoms only in their magnitude and form. The essence of all substance is precisely alike when the essence alone is considered. Substances can only differ in their magnitude, form, and susceptibilities, but not in their essences, for they are and must be alike.
[p.87]THE IMMATERIALISTS ONLY POSSIBLE ARGUMENT REFUTED
The only possible argument which the immaterialist pretends to bring forward in support of the inextension and indivisibility of a thinking substance, and consequently of its immateriality—is founded on the self-consciousness of such substance.
A thinking substance is conscious of its own individual unity: it is conscious that itself is not many beings, but one. Mankind universally feel their own individual unity when each contemplates himself. Each one is certain that it is the same being that rejoiced yesterday who remembers to-day—that all past and present affections are the affections of one being, and not of many. The absolute oneness of a thinking being is supposed to be inconsistent with a plurality of parts. To avoid this supposed inconsistency the immaterialist assumes that such a substance is without parts.
Dr. Brown says “that the very notion of plurality and division is as inconsistent with the notion of self as the notions of existence and nonexistence.” (Brown’s Philosophy of the Human Mind. Lecture XCVI.) That by the term “plurality,” he means the plurality of parts, as well as a plurality of atoms,—is very evident from the whole tenor of his reasoning. If the materialist, as Dr. Brown again says, “assert thought to be the affection of a single particle, a monade; he must remember that if what he chooses to term a single particle, be a particle or matter, it too must still admit of division; it must have a top and bottom, a right side and a left; it must, as it is demonstrable in geometry, admit of being cut in different points, by an infinite number of straight lines; and all the difficulty of the composition of thought, therefore, remains precisely as before.” “If it be supposed,” continues he, “so completely divested of all the qualities of matter, as not to be extended, nor consequently divisible, it is then mind which is asserted under another name, and every thing which is at all important in the controversy is conceded. (Brown’s Philosophy of the Human Mind. Lecture XCVI.)
A unity of substance, consisting of parts, is supposed by Dr. Brown and other immaterialists to be, not only relatively, but absolutely absurd. But this supposed absurdity is only imaginary, and is founded wholly on supposition and false reasoning, and not on our self-consciousness. Self-consciousness teaches us the unity of self, but it does not teach us that a unity of self is inconsistent with a plurality of parts, and consequently inextended.
The absolute oneness or unity of a thinking being can, by no means, be denied. Every man in all the world,—the savage as well as the philosopher,—is conscious that what he calls himself is not many but one; but no man is conscious that the thinking substance called self does not [p.88]consist of a plurality of parts—no one is conscious that self is inextended. Indeed, in the very notion of unity is involved the notion of a plurality of parts. In abstract numbers themselves a unit consists of an unlimited number of fractional parts. A unit of time is composed of innumerable parts called moments. A unit of space embraces a countless number of fractional spaces. A unit of substance is composed of an immense number of fractional parts. Without a plurality of parts we can form no notion whatsoever of unity. If consciousness, therefore, teaches us of the unity of self, it must teach us of a unity consisting of parts; otherwise it teaches us nothing. The unity of the thinking being, then, proves to a demonstration that it consists of parts, and consequently must be extended.
The term unity when applied to time, space, or substance, is entirely indefinite as to quantity. Any quantity, either great or small, may be assumed as a unit. In a multitude of human beings a man; in a bodily organ a molecule of any compounded substance which enters into its composition; and, in a molecule, an atom may be assumed as the unit. In an atom there is an indefinite number of parts, either of which may be chosen as a unit. But when we descend the scale still farther, and speak of that which has no parts, we can form no possible conception of a unit of inextension. The term nothing, instead of unity, is the only applicable term for that which is inextended. To think of unity in reference to external things, we think of something that has parts; so likewise to feel the unity of the mind is to feel that it has parts.
If the unity or oneness of the mind is any evidence in favor of its being inextended and without parts, the unity or oneness of all other substances is equal evidence of their inextension. All the atoms of every substance in the immensity of space, when considered separately and apart, are units, that is each atom is not many substances, but one. Therefore, if the unity of substance necessarily implies the inextension of substance, every atom in the universe must be inextended and without parts, and consequently immaterial.
If it be said that the universe contains no substances that can be called units, but that each atom is a plurality of substances, this would not obviate the difficulty in the least; it would only be adding absurdity to absurdity; for a plurality to exist without the possibility of a unity’s existing, is inconceivable nonsense. A plural number, without a singular, or many substances to co-exist without the possibility of the existence of any single one, is as grossly absurd as immaterialism itself. Hence unity implies parts as much as plurality. Therefore, wherever a unity or plurality of substance exists, there matter exists, with all its essential characteristics.
No doubt but that the immaterialist absurdity was invented princi-[p.89]pally to combat the gross errors which have been embraced by some materialists, both of ancient and modern times. The great majority of materialists have contended that thought and feeling are the results of organization, beginning and ceasing with it. Hobbes, Spinosa, Priestley, Darwin, and numerous other individuals, have strenuously advocated this inconsistency. They have asserted that particles of matter have no susceptibilities of thought and feeling when unorganized, but as soon as they were brought together into a certain system, the result of such union is thought and feeling. Dr. Drown, in combating this vague conjecture, has clearly shown that a system of particles can have no properties as a whole which it does not possess in its individual parts; and, consequently, that a thought, or a joy, or a fear, or any other affections of the mind, cannot possibly be the affections resulting from a plurality, but in all cases must be the affections or feelings of every part of a substance. We most cordially believe with Dr. Brown, that a system of particles cannot possibly possess a property which the individuals composing the system do not possess. Had this great philosopher and metaphysician stopped here, his reasoning would have been amply sufficient to have overthrown the errors of Priestly, Darwin, and others who have supposed thought to begin and end with organization. But by supposing an individual unity to be inconsistent with extension and parts, he has advocated an absurdity still more glaring than the one which a part of his reasoning has so successfully overthrown.
There is another gross error of a very different nature from the one advocated by Priestley and his followers, which Dr. Brown also very clearly exposes. This error consists in assuming thought, hope, fear, joy, sorrow, desire, and all other affections to be little particles of matter. We are not aware, however, that there was ever a human being so void of common sense as to advocate this palpable inconsistency. It is very evident that this error is not necessarily incorporated with that absurd notion which supposes thought and other affections to be a property of an organized system of particles, but not a property of each individual particle. The two errors are widely different: the one supposes a thought or feeling to be a property, not of a single particle, but of a collection of particles; the other supposes a thought or feeling to be a little particle of matter itself, and not a property of either a particle or collection of particles. The former error has had numerous advocates in such men as Priestley, Darwin, &c.; but the latter, so far as we are aware, has had no advocates. Dr. Brown, however, has attacked not only the former, but the latter error, as though it really had an existence in some popular theory.
If thought be little particles of matter, Dr. Brown justly argues, “that it will be not more absurd to talk of the twentieth part of an [p.90]affirmation, or the quarter of a hope, of the top of a remembrance, and the north and east corners of a comparison, than of the twentieth part of a pound, or of the different points of the compass in reference to any part of the globe of which we may be speaking.” We agree with him most perfectly in saying, “that with every effort of attention which we can give to our mental analysis, we are as incapable of forming any conception of what is meant by the quarter of a doubt, or the half of a belief, as of forming to ourselves an image of a circle without a central point, or of a square without a single angle.”
Dr. Brown also endeavours to bring this mode of reasoning to bear against the absurdity which supposes thought to be a quality of a collection of particles arranged in the form of an organ, but not a quality of single particles. But it is evident that the arguments which entirely demolish one error, leave the other entirely untouched. The weakness of Dr. Brown’s argument, when wrongfully applied against the last-named error, will more fully appear by reference to his own words which read as follows:—
“Even though it were admitted, however, in opposition to one of the clearest truths in science, that an organ is something more than a mere name for the separate and independent bodies which it denotes, and that our various feelings are states of the sensorial organ, it must still be allowed that, if two hundred particles existing in a certain state form a doubt, the division of these into two equal aggregates of the particles, as they exist in this state at the moment of that particular feeling, would form halves of a doubt; that all the truths of arithmetic would be predicable of each separate thought, if it were a state of a number of particles.”
By a little reflection it will be seen that Dr. Brown’s inference is entirely unfounded. “If two hundred particles existing in a certain state form a doubt,” it does not necessarily follow that “the division of these into two equal aggregates of the particles,” would form halves of a doubt. If two hundred pounds weight attached to a certain machine will produce a result called motion, it does not necessarily follow that one hundred pounds will produce a result called half of a motion. If exactly two hundred particles organized in a certain form, were requisite to produce a certain thought, then it is evident that to alter in the least either the number or organization would be a complete destruction of that particular thought, instead of forming fractions of it. This is what Priestley and his followers assert. They say that thought begins and ends with the organization, and that the single individuals entering into the system, form no thought nor fractions of a thought. This absurdity, therefore, remains untouched by this argument of Dr. Brown. It is effectually demolished, however, by another species of argument, used by him to which we have already referred. He has proved Priestley’s theory to [p.91]be false, not by supposing that the fractions of a doubt could be made to result from it, but by clearly showing that an organ is only a name for a collection of many substances, which cannot possibly possess any property as a whole, which the individuals do not possess when existing singly. He has also proved the theory which asserts that a thought or a feeling is a little particle of matter, to be false, because it involves the absurdity of fractional thoughts, hopes, fears, &c.
But there is one more theory which we venture to propose, that we believe to be impregnable, which no philosopher or metaphysician ever has or ever can refute. This theory may be stated as follows:—
A thought, hope, fear, joy, or any other feeling is not a little particle of matter, nor the result or quality of a collection of particles, called an organ or a system or organs, but it is the state or affection of a single individual substance, having extension and parts, and all the essential characteristics belonging to all other matter.
There is no absurdity in speaking of the half, or of a quarter, or of any other fractional part of this substance, but there would be a great absurdity in speaking of the fractional parts of its mere states or affections. The half or a thousandth part of a thinking substance is as reasonable as the half or a thousandth part of an attracting substance; but the top or bottom of a thought would be as absurd as the top or bottom of attraction. The north or east side of a substance which remembers, is just as correct as the north or east corners of a substance which possesses a chemical affinity; but the north side of a remembrance would be as inconsistent as the north side of a chemical affinity. Hence, none of the arguments which are so successfully brought to bear against the other two theories, will in the least affect this. It is invulnerable in every point at which it may be assailed.
Every conceivable part of this substance, however minute, possesses the same property as the whole. A thought, or any other state of feeling is, therefore, perceived by every possible part of which a whole consists. A unity of substance, as we have already had occasion to remark, consists of an immense number of fractional parts. These, in order to constitute unity, must be so closely connected with, and related to each other, that whatever state or affection one may happen to be in, all the rest must immediately be notified of the same. If one part be affected with pain, every other part most be conscious of it. If one part rejoices, hopes, or fears, the whole must, by sympathy, rejoice, hope, or fear in the same manner. But if one part could suffer, while another part was unconscious of such suffering; or if the affection of one part had no tendency to affect another, then the individual unity would be destroyed, and the substance would be as many distinct, thinking, feeling beings as there were parts unconscious of the affections of the others.
[p.92]It is not necessary that a thinking substance should be limited to magnitudes or quantities that are exceedingly minute in order to constitute a unity. Large amounts of substance are as consistent with unity as small ones. But in all cases, whether the quantity be large or small, it is necessary that the parts should bear that relation to each other, that when one is affected every other should be affected also; otherwise, it could not be a unity. The feeling or thinking substance of an elephant or whale is as much an individual unity as the feeling substance or spirit of a gnat or animalculae, though the magnitude of the former far exceeds that of the latter. It is the peculiar organization or relation of parts in such a manner as to be all conscious of each other’s affection which constitutes the unity, without any regard to the size or amount of substance organized. When the several parts are so organized as to think, remember, hate, love, and feel alike, under the different circumstances to which the organization may be exposed, the whole is one individual unity or being.
If the mind or spirit be of the same magnitude as the body, then the impressions received through the various organs of a human body would only have to be transferred to the distance of about five feet, in order that every part of the mind might be alike conscious of such impressions. Let the velocity be ever so rapid, time would be an essential ingredient to the transfer of these communications from part to part. If they were communicated with the velocity of sound, those parts of the mind the most distant from the one first affected, would receive the impression in the two hundredth part of a second. If the transfer were as rapid as light, the impression would be conveyed to the most distant extremities of the mind in the two hundred millionth part of a second. These inconceivably minute portions of time would be altogether imperceptible to the mind. Hence, whenever any part of the mind is affected through its sensorial organs, every other part seems to be affected in the same instant, whereas, in reality, the affection is conveyed successively from part to part, the same as sound or light is conveyed from a sounding or a luminous body.
The conveyance of internal thoughts or emotions of any kind form one part of the mind to the other, is probably equal in velocity to the transfer of the various notions gained by sensation. Therefore, in consequence of the inconceivable velocity with which all thoughts and sensations are conveyed from one extremity of the mind to another, it is impossible for one part of the mind to have a thought, sensation, or feeling of any kind which the other parts of the mind can, during any term of time that is appreciable, be ignorant of. It is for this reason that the whole of the mind thinks,—the whole of the mind loves,—the whole of the mind hates,—the whole of the mind wills, &c.
[p.93]If the term of time were of any appreciable length in which thoughts and feelings are conveyed from one part of the perceptive mind to the other, then, while one part of the mind was hating an object, another part of the same mind might be loving it because of newly discovered qualities; and while a part of the mind in one foot was suffering intense pain, caused by treading upon hot iron, another part of the mind in the other foot, not having had time to receive the information, would venture also into the same danger.
Were it possible for the different parts of the mind to feel and think without being able to communicate their respective feelings to each other, then every part that thus thought and felt, would be a distinct individual, as much so as if it were separated for miles from all the rest, or, as if it were a separate organization. In this case, the whole being or mind which we before termed I, would cease its individual unity; and each part which thought and felt independently, could appropriate to itself the term I, and with the greatest propriety could apply the term YOU to every other part which thought and felt distinctly and differently from itself.
It is, therefore, because all parts of the mind seem to be affected in the same way, and apparently at the same time, that it is felt to be a single individual mind. It is this, and this only, that constitutes the unity of a thinking being, and not, as the immaterialist asserts, a something “without parts,” which from its very nature could constitute neither a unity, nor a plurality, nor any thing else, but nothing.
If the human spirit be nearly the same form and magnitude as the fleshly tabernacle in which it dwells, it must be composed of an immense number of particles, each of which is susceptible of almost an infinite variety of thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Whence originated these susceptibilities? Are they the results of organization? Did each particle obtain its susceptibilities by being united with others? This would be impossible; for if a particle were entirely destitute of the capacity of thinking and feeling, no possible organization could impart to it that power. The power to think and feel, is not, nor can not be derived from any arrangement of particles. If they have not this power before organization, they can never have it afterwards. It follows then, that if ever there were a time when the particles of the human spirit existed in a disorganized state, each particle so existing, must have had all the susceptibilities of feeling and thought that it now has; and, consequently, each particle must have been a separate independent being of itself. Therefore, under such circumstances, one particle would have been no more affected with the state or condition of others, than one man is affected with the pleasures or pains of others with whom he is not associated.
How, then, it may be asked, can these separate independent beings, [p.94]be so united as to form but one being, possessing the same susceptibilities as each of the individuals of which it is composed? The answer to this question may be more clearly understood by the following illustration. Let a certain number of iron filings exist in a scattered condition, widely separated from each other. It is evident that each possesses the susceptibility of magnetism. Such as are brought within the influence of a loadstone or magnet, under favourable circumstances, will exhibit all the magnetic phenomena, while others unconnected and at a distance, will remain entirely unaffected. But let all these filings be firmly united together into one bar of iron, and be exposed to the influence of a magnet or loadstone, and they will then be affected alike. Those which were before the union distinct individual particles, exhibiting at the same time different susceptibilities and qualities, according to the different circumstances in which they were placed,—are, by their union, consolidated into one mass. In this condition, if one part be magnetized, the whole will be magnetized; if one part be moved, the whole will be moved. Therefore the particles in this bar, though distinct parts of the same substance, can no longer be considered distinct individuals, because they are no longer affected differently, but alike. So it is with the human spirit: its particles previous to the organization, are, as above stated, separate and distinct beings, and the affections of each are entirely independent of the state of the others. But when organized into a person, all particles must from henceforth be subject to the same influences; and though they are distinct parts of the same substance, yet they are one in all their thoughts and feelings; and it is this which constitutes individuality in all intelligent organizations.
If a bar of iron, weighing one pound, had the power of expressing its different qualities, it could with the greatest propriety say, I am heavy—I am magnetized—I move. The term I would represent the whole bar, consisting of an infinite number of parts,—all affected precisely in the same moment and in the same manner. Now no one would for a moment suppose the pound of iron to be immaterial and without parts, because the term I was representative of a single individual bar. So likewise in the expressions, I think,—I feel,—I remember; the term I is a representative of the whole being, every part of which thinks, feels, and remembers in the same moment and in the same manner.
The arguments which Dr. Brown has used (Brown’s Philosophy of the Human Mind. Lecture xcvi.) against the materiality of the mind, would apply with the same force against the materiality of iron or any other substance; for if thought or feeling prove the unity and inextension of mind,—weight, magnetism, or motion will, with as much reason, prove the unity and inextension of iron.
Mr. Taylder has asserted that “The Materialism of the Mormons is [p.95]not only unscriptural, but anti-scriptural.” (Taylder against Materialism, page 21.)
I.—He undertakes to show that it is unscriptural, by asserting that it is “in opposition to the spirituality of the Divinity.” (Taylder against Materialism, page 22.)
We readily admit that any system which is “in opposition to the spirituality of the Divinity,” is not only unscriptural but dangerously false. That the Spirits of the Father and the Son, as well as the Holy Spirit, consist of a substance purely spiritual, can by no means be denied by any believer in the sacred scriptures. It is a doctrine firmly believed by us and all the Latter-day Saints. It is a doctrine most definitely expressed and advocated in our pamphlet on the Kingdom of God, and that, too, on the very page from which Mr. Taylder makes copious extracts. It is there that we have definitely spoken of “the SPIRITS of the Father and Son:” it is there that we speak of the Holy SPIRIT: it there that we have expressly said that “God is a SPIRIT.” And yet in the face of all these declarations Mr. Taylder has had the hardihood to say that our theory is “in opposition to the spirituality of the Divinity.” Instead of this, it is the material theory alone that establishes the very existence, of Spirit. Take away the materiality of Spirit, and you at once destroy its very existence, as we have abundantly shown in the foregoing pages.
The immaterialists have aimed a deadly blow at the foundation of all spiritual existence, by denying it extension and parts. We, in opposition to this unphilosophic, unscriptural, and atheistical doctrine, have most clearly expressed our belief in a real tangible substance called Spirit, which has extension and parts, like all other matter.
“In the case of the angels’ visit to Abraham, and of their partaking of food, who,” inquiries Mr. Taylder, “would conclude they must have fleshy bodies?” (Taylder against Materialism, page 24.) We answer that a ‘”fleshly body” and a spiritual body are entirely different things. One is a body of material flesh; the other is a body of material spirit—they are entirely different kinds of matter, as much so as iron and oxygen. Jesus says, “God is a Spirit;” and again he says, “a Spirit hath not flesh and bones.” From these sayings of Jesus, we can see that spiritual matter and fleshy or bony matter are distinct substances. These passages are sometimes quoted as a supposed proof of immateriality. But everyone knows that there are millions of substances that are not flesh and bones. A house, a stone, or a tree, “hath not flesh and bones,” any more than a spirit; shall we therefore say that all these substances are immaterial?. If a spirit must be immaterial because it hath not flesh and bones, then every substance in the universe, except flesh and bones, must be immaterial.
Mr. Taylder supposes that the persons who appeared to Abraham, and ate, and walked, and conversed with him, were only “bodily forms,” [p.96]“assumed in mercy to man.” But, we ask, how does our author know but what these bodily forms were the real, true, substantial forms of these beings, instead of assumed ones? He seems to think that “it might be assumed, with equal propriety, that the Divine Being is ‘a rock,’ ‘a fortress,’ ‘a tower,’ ‘a shield,’ ‘a buckler,’ because he is so styled in the bible.” But did he ever appear in the form of a “rock,” or “a fortress,” to any person anciently? Did he ever appear to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to the Seventy Elders of Israel, to Micaiah, to Isaiah, or to the Jewish nation, when he walked among them,” in the flesh, as a tower, a shield, or a buckler? No: he appeared to them all as a person. If the three persons whom Abraham saw had appeared like a shield, or any other inanimate thing, they would not have been called men. It was because they resembled the human species that they were thus called.
Mr. Taylder says, “this scheme contradicts itself; for if Christ were possessed of a body of flesh and blood, how could he become incarnate? The Mormons believe,” continues he, “in the incarnation, but this contradicts it. Their doctrine implies that he had a body before he was incarnate, or he had a body before he had a body, or he had a body and had not a body at the same time.” (Taylder’s Tract, page 26.)
This author must be very ignorant of our doctrine if he supposes that we think that Christ had “a body of flesh and blood” before his incarnation. Christ, before his incarnation, was a spiritual body, and not a body of flesh and bones. It was the body of his spirit and not a fleshly body that was with the Father in the beginning, when God said, “let us make man in our likeness and in our image.” Whenever he appeared before he dwelt in flesh, it was the pure spiritual matter only that was seen. The spiritual body of Christ has hands, face, feet, and all other members, the same as his body of flesh and bones. The spiritual bodies of all men were in the likeness of the spiritual body of Christ when they were first created.
That spiritual bodies are capable of condensation, is evident from the fact of their occupying the small bodies of infants. The spirits of just men, who have departed from the fleshly tabernacle, have been seen by the inspired writers; and from their description of them, we should not only judge them to be of the same form, but likewise of about the same size as man in this life. These departed spirits, then, which are about the same magnitude as men in the flesh, once occupied infant bodies. There are only two methods by which to account for their increase in magnitude; one is by an additional quantity of spiritual matter, being gradually and continually incorporated in the spiritual body, by which its magnitude is increased in the same way and in the same proportion as the fleshly body is increased. And the other is by its elasticity or expansive properties by which it increases in size, as the tabernacle of flesh [p.97]and bones increases, until it attains to its natural magnitude, or until its expansive and cohesive properties balance each other, or are in a state of equilibrium.
The latter method seems to be in accordance with scripture. The spiritual body of Christ, when seen previous to his incarnation, is not represented as an infant in stature, but as a man, and consequently his spirit must have been of the size of a man. Therefore, when he came and dwelt in the infant tabernacle of flesh, born of a virgin, his spirit must have been greatly condensed; and did not completely regain its former magnitude until the fleshly tabernacle had attained its full growth.
As a further evidence of the condensation of spiritual matter, we read of seven devils beings cast out of Mary Magdalene, and of a legion of others inhabiting one man, and which, after being cast out, entered a large herd of swine. Now these devils were once angels who kept not their first estate. Those angels who kept their first estate, that have been seen, appear about the size and of the form of men, insomuch that they are frequently called men in the scriptures: and it is reasonable to suppose that those angels who fell did not, to any great extent, alter their size and form. Therefore, they must have been very much condensed and crowded when a legion of them entered one body.
That the different particles of a spirit are not all in actual contact is very evident from the fact that a spiritual body can alter its dimensions by condensation or expansion. It is also evident from the fact of its entering into union with flesh and bones, and also withdrawing itself at death. If the particles were in contact, and inseparably connected, there would be no possibility of getting in and out of a fleshly body, unless by entirely dissolving its parts. But, as it is, each refined particle of the spirit can, like heat or electricity, pass between the fleshly particles; and thus the whole body of spiritual particles can liberate themselves; and by their own self-moving powers and free will, can still preserve and maintain their own organization. Here is manifested the great superiority of spiritual matter to all other matter; each particle has the power of self-motion. The whole mass of particles have power to preserve themselves in an organized form as long as they please. Should they, by any contingency, be disarranged, as in passing in or out of a body, they can with the greatest ease, resume their former position, and maintain their bodily organization either in or out of a fleshly tabernacle.
Mr. Taylder, in speaking of the seven devils which possessed Mary Magdalene, says, if they were material they must have “condensed themselves into a very small space.” He then remarks, “No doubt the reader questions the possibility of any sane person, first embracing and then calmly propagating such errors. (Taylder’s Tract, page 28.) But we calmly ask Mr. Taylder, which would be the most reasonable and philosophic,—[p.98] to believe that seven substances could all occupy the same space at the same time, or to believe, as we do, in the condensation of substance? The former is an admitted absurdity, but the latter is something that is constantly taking place in a great variety of substances. None could believe the former, unless his mental vision was obscured and his eyes blinded by the absurd insane notions of priestcraft and false tradition; but any man of sound sense, who dares think for himself, could believe the latter, because it does not involve an absurdity.
“The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove” upon the Saviour, and like “as cloven tongues of fire” on the apostles. “How can a dove,” inquires Mr. Taylder, “extend through all space and intermingle with all the matter?” “It is (he asserts) a clear impossibility.” We readily admit that a dove or a cloven tongue of fire cannot be omnipresent. It is, as Mr. Taylder says, “a clear impossibility.” And it is likewise just as impossibile for a person to be everywhere present, as it is for a dove. Why should our author suppose it possible for a person to be everywhere present, when he admits that a dove could not be in such a condition? The “cloven tongues of fire” that appeared unto the disciples on the day of pentecost, were only parts of that all-wise substance which extends through space. The cloven tongue of fire which rested upon one man, was not the same that rested upon all the others; hence there was a plurality of them that appeared. The prophet Joel informs us, that in the last days the Spirit shall be poured out upon all flesh. No two persons can receive the same identicle particles of this Spirit at the same instant; a part therefore of the Holy Spirit will rest upon one man, and another part will rest upon another. If the Spirit rests upon all flesh at the same time, then there will be as many parts of the Spirit as there are distinct individuals in whom it dwells. No one of these parts of the Spirit can be everywhere present any more than a dove. Each part can occupy only one place at a time. If the whole be infinite in quantity, it can extend through infinite space; if it be finite in quantity, it can only occupy finite space.
That different parts of this spirit can assume different shapes, is evident from its appearing as a dove at one time, and as cloven tongues of fire at another. It is also evident from the fact of the Saviour’s speaking of the Holy Spirit as a personage. “Howbeit, when he the Spirit of truth, is come, HE will guide you into all truth; for HE shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever HE shall hear, that shall HE speak: and HE will shew you things to come.” (John, xvi., 13.) There is no more inconsistency in one part of the Holy Spirit existing in the form of a person, than there is in another part existing in the form of a dove, and several other parts existing in the form of cloven tongues of fire.
That the all-powerful matter called the Holy Spirit is very widely [p.99]diffused, is evident from the fact that the time will come when it will be poured out upon all flesh. It is very certain that the Psalmist had some idea of the immense quantities of this substance, and of its extensive diffusion, when he exclaims, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?” &c. The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the deep, and by his Spirit the heavens were garnished. When we speak of the Spirit of God, extending through all space, we do not mean that it absolutely fills every minute portion of space, for if this were the case, there would be no room for any other matter. A substance, to absolutely fill all space, would be an infinite solid, without pores and immovable in all its parts; therefore, the Spirit exists in different parts of space in greater or less degrees of density, like heat, light, or electricity. It is this glorious and all-powerful substance that governs and controls all other substances by its actual presence, producing all the phenomena ascribed to the laws of nature; in it we exist, we live, we move, and by it we receive wisdom and knowledge, and are guided into truth in proportion as we permit it to dwell within us and receive its heavenly teachings.
2.—”The next consideration,” says our author, “is their denial of the infinity, perfection, and omnipresence of the Godhead.” (Taylder’s Tract, page 31.) Under this head he quotes many passages of scripture to show that the presence of God fills heaven and earth, and that the heaven of heavens cannot contain him. All these things we freely admit. The Holy Spirit is called God in the scriptures, as well as the Father and Son. This, we presume, Mr. Taylder will admit. It is God, the Holy Spirit, then, that is everywhere, substantially and virtually. The Holy Spirit is infinitely perfect and wise, one in substance, but one in wisdom, power, glory, and goodness. Jesus prayed that all his disciples might be made one, as he and his Father are one. If Jesus and the Father are one person, then all the disciples must, according to the prayer of Jesus, lose their individual identity and become one person: this would be perfect nonsense. Therefore, Jesus and the Father are two persons or two substances, the same in kind but not the same in identity—in the same sense that his disciples are different persons: and, consequently, distinct substances. His disciples are to be made one with him, and with each other, the same as Jesus and the Father are one; that is, they are to be one in wisdom, power, and glory, but not in person and substance. The substance of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three distinct substances, as much as the substance of three men are distinct.
These three substances act in concert in the same way that all the innumerable millions of his disciples, after they are glorified, will act in concert. The disciples will then be like him. Their glorified bodies will be similar to that of Christ’s but not the same as Christ’s: they will all maintain their separate individualities, like the Father and Son. The one-[p.100]ness of the Godhead may be in some measure illustrated by two gallons of pure water, existing in separate vessels, representing the Father and Son, and an ocean of pure water, representing the Holy Spirit. No one would say of these three portions of water that they were identically the same. Every portion would be a separate substance of itself, but yet the separate portions would be one in kind—one in quality, but three in separate distinct identities. So it is with the Godhead so far as the spiritual matter is concerned. There is the same power, wisdom, glory, and goodness in every part, and yet every part has its own work to perform, which accords in the most perfect harmony with the mind and will of every other part.
Each atom of the Holy Spirit is intelligent, and like all other matter has solidity, form, and size. It is because each acts in the most perfect unison with all the rest that the whole is considered one Holy Spirit. All these innumerable atoms are considered one Holy Spirit in the same sense that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are considered one God. The immense number of atoms, though each is all-wise and all-powerful, is, by virtue of their perfect concord and agreement, but one Holy Spirit, the same as the intelligent particles of a man’s spirit are, by their peculiar union, but one human spirit. Their unity or oneness does not consist in that inexplicable, incomprehensible, imaginary something without extension or parts, as taught in the first of the “Thirty-nine Articles,” but it consists in a unity or oneness of wisdom, power, and glory, each part performing its own splendid works and operations in union with the mind and will of every other part. No one part can perform any work but what is the mind of the whole. Therefore, in this sense it is the same mind—the same will—the same wisdom that pervades the whole.
Mr. Taylder, in order to establish his views of a god without parts, quotes from the theological works of a very celebrated writer on the omnipresence of God, which reads as follows:—
“The essential presence is without any division of himself. I fill heaven and earth, not part in heaven and part in earth: I fill one as well as the other. One part of his essence is not in one place, and another part of his essence in another place; he would then be changeable, for that part of his essence which was now in this place he might alter to another, and place that part of his essence which were in another place to this; but he is undivided everywhere. It is impossible that one part of his essence can be separated from another: for he is not a body, to have one part separable from another. The light of the sun cannot be cut into parts; it cannot be shut into any place, and kept there; it is entire in every place: shall not God, who gives the light that power, be much more present himself? Whatsoever hath parts is finite, but God is infinite; therefore, hath no parts of his essence. Besides, if there were such a division [p.101]of his being, he would not be the most simple and uncompounded being, but would be made up of various parts; he would not be a spirit, for parts are evidences of composition, and it could not be said that God is here or there, but only a part of God is here and a part of God is there. But he fills heaven and earth; he is as much a God in the earth beneath as he is in heaven above. ‘The Lord he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else.’—Deut. iv. 39. Entirely in all places, not by scraps and fragments of his essence.” (Charnock on the “Omnipresence of God.”)
Of all the absurdities ever imagined up by mortal man in relation to God, the above caps the climax. “One part of his essence,” says Charnock, “is not in one place and another part of his essence in another place.” How does he exist? According to this theologian, the whole of the essence of God entire must exist in every place. The whole of his essence, not a part, must exist in every cubic inch of space. In one cubic foot of space, according to Charnock, there would be seventeen hundred and twenty eight cubic inches, each containing the whole of the essence of God. As each cubic inch of space is susceptible of being divided into an infinite number of fractional spaces, each fractional space must contain the whole of the essence of God; hence the whole of his essence would be repeated an infinite number of times in every cubic inch. Therefore, if the whole of the essence of God constitutes God, we shall have an infinite number of gods in every cubic inch of space.
But the absurdity does not stop here. Charnock admits the omnipresence of God; he supposes his essence to fill the infinity of space. Now the whole of this infinitely extended essence must exist in the smallest fractional space that can be imagined, and must be repeated an infinite number of times in all finite spaces, in order that the whole of his essence may be in every possible space.
“It is impossible,” says Charnock, “that one part of his essence can be separated from another.” But, we ask, are not the different parts of space separated from each other? And if he fills all space, then his essence that is in one part of space must be separate from his essence in another part of space. If the whole of his essence occupies a cubic foot of space on the earth, and the whole of his essence occupies another cubic foot of space at the distance of the sun, how is it that these essences at this great distance are not separate from each other? But does not every school-boy know that the whole of any essence cannot be in two separate places at the same instant? And does not every one know that the whole of an essence, infinitely extended, cannot possibly exist in a finite space.
Charnock endeavours to illustrate his absurdities by referring to the rays of light. “The light of the sun,” he says, “cannot be cut into [p.102]parts,”— it is entire in every place.” What does this great theologian mean by this? Does he mean that the light of the sun is without parts like his god? or that the whole light of the sun is in every place? Does the whole light of the sun enter our eyes or only a part of his rays? If the whole light of the sun “is entire in every place,” then the intensity of his light must be equal in all places. If this be the case, philosophers must be entirely mistaken, for they say that light varies in intensity inversely as the square of the distance from the luminous body; they inform us that a body situated at twice or three times the distance of the earth from the sun will enjoy only one-fourth or one-ninth of the amount of light that we enjoy; but how could this be possible, if the whole light of the sun, instead of part, “is entire in every place?”
It takes light over eight minutes to come from the sun to the earth. Charnock says, “The light of the sun cannot be cut into parts.” This is not true; for if an opaque body, one million of miles in diameter, were to be placed at any given instant half way between the earth and sun, the light of the sun would still continue to be seen for upwards of four minutes after the intervention of this body. The rays of light between the earth and the opaque body would be entirely cut off from the rays on the opposite side of the body.
It matters not whether the corpuscular or the undulatory theory of light be adopted—whether the particles of light emanate from the sun or merely vibrate; each atom is separate from every other atom, and each is only a part of the great whole. An infinite number of parts enter into the vast assemblage of luminous atoms. Light radiates from the sun in all directions, and fills the surrounding spaces by a part being in one space and a part in another, and not, like Mr. Charnock’s god, the whole being repeated in every part of space. That part of the essence of light which is in one place, cannot by any possibility be in any other place at the same instant. In one sense it may be said to be one light, or the same light, because the properties are alike. Each particle is a distinct, separate essence from every other particle, but the qualities of each are alike or similar. Therefore, in this sense we may speak of the light of the sun as one light, though it possesses an infinite number of parts, the same as we speak of God being one God, though the parts of his essence are infinite in number. Mr. Charnock says, “Whatsoever hath parts is finite, but God is infinite, and, therefore, hath not parts of his essence.” Space likewise is infinite, and therefore, according to this gentleman’s logic, it can have no parts. Duration is infinite, and, therefore, it also must be without parts. What would a cubic inch of space be? Any man that was not insane would at once say that it is a part of space. Therefore, if an infinite space or an infinite duration can have parts, why not an infinite essence have parts?
[p.103]”The Lord he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else.”—Deut. iv. 39. Such a passage when referring to the person of God, should be understood the same as we would understand a similar expression concerning any earthly ruler: for instance, it can be said of her Majesty, she is queen in Great Britain and also in Canada, and there is none else; that is, there is none else that is queen in these two places. This would have no reference to her person being in these two places at the same time; it only shows that she should be the only acknowledged queen in these two places. But when God says, “I fill heaven and earth,” he has reference to his Holy Spirit, a part of which fills heaven, and another part fills the earth. That part which fills the earth has the same wisdom, knowledge, glory, and power as the part that fills the heaven; hence, though distinct and separate essences, their perfections and attributes are one. One wisdom—one glory—one power, pervade every part of this glorious essence. This oneness is such that the part which fills the earth will never act contrary to the will of the part which fills the heavens. The essence possesses a plurality of parts, but the wisdom possesses no divisibility of parts; it is infinite wisdom in every part. Wisdom cannot be divided into parts any more than love, hope, joy, or fear. A truth is identically the same truth whether possessed by one or a million of persons, and is not susceptible of being divided into fractions. The Holy Spirit is called “The Spirit of Truth.” Though the essence that possesses this truth may be divided into an infinite number of parts, occupying an infinite number of separate spaces, yet the truth that pervades them all is ONE truth. It is the indivisibility and unity of these perfections or qualities that constitute the oneness of the Godhead.
3.—Mr. Taylder supposes my assertion that “there is no such thing as moral image,” to be unscriptural, and that “it denies in some respects the moral perfections of the Godhead.” (Taylder’s Tract, page 33.)
We still maintain that there cannot be any such thing as moral image independently of an essence or substance to which it belongs. And this is the only sense which we intended to convey in our tract on the “KINGDOM OF GOD.” Indeed, it is there expressly said, that “Morality is a property of some being or substance. A property without a substance or being to which it appertains is inconceivable. A property can never have figure, shape, or image of any kind.” This is a truth admitted by all philosophers. Sir Isaac Newton in the Scholium, at the end of the “principia,” in speaking of God says, “He is omnipresent, not by means of his virtue alone, but also by his substance, for virtue cannot subsist without substance.” Virtue or morality cannot subsist without substance; hence it can have no image without substance. Substance alone can have an image. Such an image may have the property of virtue, or [p.104] of morality, and by reason of this property may be called a virtuous image, or a moral image. It is in this sense alone that the apostle Paul applies the term image to the new man. “Ye have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” Col. iii. 10. “Ye have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Eph. iv. 24. Now what is this new man? It is the spirit of man renewed in its properties, but not changed in its substance or essence. This substance previously to the renewal of its qualities was immoral, after the renewal it became moral or virtuous, possessing the same quality in a degree as the substance or image of the Deity. The substance of the Deity may be termed a moral substance or image, the same as the substance of gold is called a yellow substance, or yellow image, if it resembles a person. The yellowness of gold could not be an image independently of the substance, neither could the morality of the Deity be an image independently of his essence.
The spiritual substance of man was formed in the beginning after the same image as the spiritual substance of the persons of the Father and Son. Previously to the fall these spirits were all moral in their nature; by the fall the spirits of men lost their morality and virtue, but not their essence—that continued the same; by the new birth man regains his morality and virtue, while the essence remains the same; it now becomes a moral virtuous image, whereas the same substance was before immoral. Paul, in speaking of the resurrection, says, “As we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” I Cor. xv. 49.
This cannot mean a heavenly image without substance; for when man rises from the dead, he certainly will rise with flesh and bones. The immortal bodies of the saints when they rise from the grave “will be fashioned,” as Paul says, “like unto the glorious body of Jesus Christ.” As Jesus ascended into heaven with a body of flesh and bones, so will his saints bear the same image, having flesh and bones after “the image of the heavenly.” That these glorious bodies of immortal flesh and immortal bones will be moral images, in the sense above stated, there is no doubt. But such a thing as a moral image in the sense that the immaterialists use the term, is a clear impossibility. Such an image, as we remarked in our treatise on the “KINGDOM OF GOD,” never can and never will have “an existence only in the brains of modern idolaters.”
4.—Mr. Taylder falsely accuses us of denying “the personality of each person in the Trinity, making each to be only a part in the Godhead.” (Taylder’s Tract, page 34.)
This author very well knows that the personalities in the godhead are not denied by us. It will be seen on the very pages to which he has so frequently referred, that we believe the Father and Son to be two [p.105]separate distinct personages, as much so as fathers and sons of the human race; it will there be seen that we also believe the Holy spirit to be a separate distinct substance from the two substances of the Father and Son. That all may see that this author has wrongfully accused us of denying “the personality of each person in the Trinity,” we make the following extract from our treatise on the “KINGDOM OF GOD.”
“The Godhead consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is a material being. The substance of which he is composed is wholly material. It is a substance widely different in some respects from the various substances with which we are more immediately acquainted. In other respects it is precisely like all other materials. The substance of his person occupies space the same as other matter. It has solidity, length, breadth, and thickness, like all other matter. The elementary materials of his body are not susceptible of occupying, at the same time, the same identical space with other matter. The substance of his person, like other matter, cannot be in two places at the same instant. It also requires time for him to transport himself from place to place. It matters not how great the velocity of his movements, time is an essential ingredient to all motion, whether rapid or slow. It differs from other matter in the superiority of its powers, being intelligent, all-wise, and possessing the power of self-motion to a far greater extent than the coarser materials of nature. “God is a spirit.” But that does not make him an immaterial being—a being that has no properties in common with matter. The expression, “an immaterial being,” is a contradiction in terms. Immateriality is only another name for nothing. It is the negative of all existence. A “spirit” is as much matter as oxygen or hydrogen. It has many properties in common with all other matter. Chemists have discovered between fifty and sixty kinds of matter; and each kind has some properties in common with all other matter, and some properties peculiar to itself which the others do not inherit. Now, no chemist in classifying his substances would presume to say, this substance is material, but that one is immaterial, because it differs in some respects from the first. He would call them all material, though they in some respects differed widely. So the substance called spirit is material, though it differs in a remarkable degree from other substances. It is only the addition of another element of a more powerful nature than any yet discovered. He is not a being “without parts,” as modern idolators teach; for every whole is made up of parts. The whole person of the Father consists of innumerable parts; and each part is so situated as to bear certain relations of distance to every other part. There must also be, to a certain degree, a freedom of motion among these parts, which is an essential condition to the movements of his limbs, without which he could only move as a whole.
[p.106]”All the foregoing statements in relation to the person of the Father, are equally applicable to the person of the Son.
“The Holy Spirit being one part of the Godhead, is also a material substance, of the same nature and properties in many respects, as the spirits of the Father and Son. It exists in vast immeasurable quantities, in connexion with all material worlds. This is called God in the Scriptures, as well as the Father and Son. God the Father and God the Son cannot be everywhere present; indeed they cannot be even in two places at the same instant: but God the Holy Spirit is omnipresent—it extends through all space, intermingling with all other matter, yet no one atom of the Holy Spirit can be in two places at the same instant, which in all cases is an absolute impossibility. It must exist in inexhaustible quantities, which is the only possible way for any substance to be omnipresent. All the innumerable phenomena of universal nature are produced in their origin by the actual presence of this intelligent all-wise and all-powerful material substance called the Holy Spirit. It is the most active matter in the universe, producing all its operations according to fixed and definite laws enacted by itself, in conjuction with the Father and the Son. What are called the laws of nature are nothing more nor less than the fixed method by which this spiritual matter operates. Each atom of the Holy Spirit is intelligent, and like other matter has solidity, form, and size, and occupies space. Two atoms of this spirit cannot occupy the same space at the same time. In all these respects it does not differ in the least from all other matter. Its distinguishing characteristics from other matter are its almighty powers and infinite wisdom, and many other glorious attributes which other materials do not possess. If several of the atoms of this Spirit should exist united together in the form of a person, then this person of the Holy Spirit would be subject to the same necessity as the other two persons of the Godhead, that is, it could not be everywhere present. No finite number of atoms can be omnipresent. An infinite number of atoms is requisite to be everywhere in infinite space. Two persons receiving the gift of the Holy spirit, do not each receive at the same time the same identical particles, though they each receive a substance exactly similar in kind. It would be as impossible for each to receive the same identical atoms at the same instant, as it would be for two men at the same time to drink the same identical pint of water.” (Kingdom of God. Part I, page 4.)
From this extract it will be perceived that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are believed by us to be three distinct material substances, the same in kind, but not the same in identity. The person of the Father is a body of Spirit, consisting of parts. Mr. Taylder enquires, “What does the author mean by ‘the elementary materials of his body?’ Is his body a compounded substance, capable of being reduced to original and sim-[p.107]ple elements?” We answer that the elements of his body are the different parts of which it consists. The whole, being “compounded” of “elementary” parts.
The Godhead may be further illustrated by a council, consisting of three men—all possessing equal wisdom, knowledge, and truth, together with equal qualifications in every other respect. Each person would be a separate distinct person or substance from the other two, and yet the three would form but ONE council. Each alone possesses, by supposition, the same wisdom and truth that the three united or the ONE council possesses. The union of the three men in one council would not increase the knowledge or wisdom of either. Each man would be one part of the council when reference is made to his person; but the wisdom and truth of each man would be the whole wisdom and truth of the council, and not a part. If it were possible to divide truth, and other qualities of a similar nature into fractions, so that the Father should have the third part of truth, the third part of wisdom, the third part of knowledge, the third part of love, while the Son and the Holy Spirit possessed the other two-thirds of these qualities or affections, then neither of these persons could make “one God,” “but only a part of a God.” But because the divisibility of wisdom, truth, or love is impossible, the whole of these qualities dwell in the Father—the whole dwells in the Son—the whole is possessed by the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is one part of the Godhead” in essence; the whole of God in wisdom, truth, and other similar qualities. If a truth could become three truths, distinct from each other, by dwelling in three persons or substances, then there would be three Gods instead of one. But as it is, the Trinity is three in essence but one in truth and other similar principles. The oneness of the Godhead, as described in the Scriptures, never was intended to apply to the essence, but only to the perfections and other attributes.
If the Father possess infinite wisdom and knowledge, why, some may ask, can he not get along with his work without the assistance of the Son and Holy Spirit? We answer, the Son is necessary to reconcile fallen man to the Father: the Holy Spirit is necessary to sanctify and purify the affections of men, and also to dwell in them as a teacher of truth. Immense quantities of this substance are also necessary in order to be present in connexion with all other substances, to control and govern them according to fixed and definite laws that good order and harmony may obtain in every department of the universe. The Father and Son govern the immensity of creation, not by their own actual presence, but by the actual presence of the Spirit. The union of the three does not give any additional wisdom and knowledge to either, but by the union, they are able to carry on certain works which could not be carried on by one singly. One singly, as for instance the Father, could [p.108]have power to do all things not inconsistent with his perfections and attributes, that is, he could act where he was present, but without the assistance of the Holy Spirit or some other being, he being a person, could not act where he is not present. By the union of the three, each is able to act in all places through the assistance of the others. The persons of the Father and Son can be in heaven, and yet, through the agency of the spirit, act upon the earth. An omnipresent person is impossible, but an omnipresent substance, diffused through space, is not only consistent, but reasonable. Persons through the medium of such an all-wise and all-powerful substance, can exercise Almighty power, at the same time in the most distant departments of creation. Without such a substance with which they were in union, they could not carry on the grand and powerful operations of universal nature; for no substance can act where it is not present.
Perhaps the objector may refer to matter attracting matter as a proof that it can act where it is not present. But we are bold to affirm that such a thing as attraction cannot possibly exist. For matter to draw distant matter towards itself, and consequently act where it is not present, would be as utterly impossible as it would be for a person to be in two or more places at the same time. All the phenomena of universal gravitation can be accounted for upon principles infinitely more simple and consistent, than to ascribe to matter the impossible power of acting where it is not present. The author may, at some future time, give his views with regard to the powers of nature, and the laws by which it is governed. But to enter in this work into a full development of our theory in relation to those intricate though sublime subjects, would be a digression foreign to the objects we have in view in this treatise.…