Proving God

Swedenborg’s Remarkable Quest
For The Quantum Fingerprints Of Love

by Edward F. Sylvia, M.T.S.
with a foreword by Ian J. Thompson, Ph.D.

A daring work that unifies Science and Theology
by challenging many of the world’s current beliefs about both.

Proving God

Forget what both scientists and the clergy have told you about the ultimate reality. This extraordinary book explains how scientists have misinterpreted the laws of the physical universe and how theologians have misinterpreted the revealed wisdom of the Lord God’s Holy Word. Fasten your seatbelt and prepare yourself for the new laws of physics and the new theology that will fulfill God’s promise of making “all things new”!


432 pages | pb | illustrations | index | glossary

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Swedeborg’s Remarkable Quest for the Quantum Fingerprints of Love

by Edward F. Sylvia, M.T. S.                                                 
                                                                                      ©2009 Staircase Press. All Rights Reserved.

Unifying science and religion is a high-risk venture. Landmines and dangers are everywhere on both sides of the issue. Yet, the history of human exploration is full of individuals who have risked even death to find what they are seeking. The passion of the human mind and spirit is such that visionary people will always feel it is worth making the attempt to explore the unknown.

For that very reason, there is growing interest among scientists, theologians, and laypeople to explore another uncharted region and resolve whether science and religion can both answer the same questions about reality and have real points of interaction. I like to think of myself as a part of this exciting and mentally stimulating movement. This book is my contribution to this discussion.

Both religion and science make truth claims about ultimate reality. Science deals with facts and religion deals with values. Because of this, some people feel that science and religion address different issues and should be kept apart.

But, can these two powerful endeavors ultimately satisfy the human psyche by keeping them apart? Einstein said in 1941 that, “science without religion is lame, and religion without science is blind.” Religion is weak on the how of creation, and science is weak on the why. In other words, science shuns teleology or purposefulness in the universe as a legitimate category of explanation. In place of a purposeful creation, scientists embrace the concepts that fundamental reality consists of irreducible chance and that everything must be describable exclusively in physical terms and physical quantities.

Many scientists also believe that metaphysical principles cannot be a part of real science because such principles and philosophies make claims that are not testable. Ironically, physicists who have jumped on the bandwagon of string theory and a multidimensional universe have embraced concepts that also cannot be tested. Checkmate.

If God created the world, then God created the laws of nature as well as the tenets of virtuous living. But theology offers us no further rational help here. It offers only faith and expects belief. Does God create one set of laws for nature and another set of laws for the human heart? Or are God’s laws wholly self-consistent? (Inconsistency implies imperfection.) If the ubiquitous law that everything in the universe proceeds by the most economical means flows out from the action of the Creator, then there must be a top-down causal link between God’s nature and the laws of nature.

This book attempts to show that the laws of nature emerged out from God’s spiritual principles and values. That is, the laws of nature and its forces are actually spiritual laws and forces extended into spacetime constraints. While this is daunting and challenging enough, it is not the only challenge of this book!

Many other tricky problems are associated with attempting to write a book like this. Each of these problems is one more landmine ready to explode when stepped on. In spite of this, I have decided to step everywhere and not purposely avoid any dangers. The first big landmine is best expressed by the quote:

“ I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you
the formula for failure: which is: try to please everybody.”

– Herbert B. Swope

I did not write this book to please anyone. People have different and strong opinions about things. Theologians argue with theologians, scientists argue with scientists, and theologians and scientists argue with each other, often bitterly. In science, we have competing theories, even within the realm of quantum physics. In religion, we have competing theologies, even within the realm of a single “ism.” For instance, did God create the world and let it run on its own (Deism) or is God continually active in the world (Theism) and interested in our personal happiness? If the latter is true, which interpretation of quantum mechanics do I use (assuming one is correct) for demonstrating how God acts in the world?

So, in my attempt to unify science with religion, I must answer the question: which scientific model do I use and which interpretation of theological doctrine do I use? Two wrongs do not make a right, and my attempt will surely lead to an enormous backlash, since most of my readers will have their oxen gored no matter what choices I make.

In our post-modern world, it is taboo even to suggest in any way that one religion or worldview is “superior” to another (and I would do this if I picked one). But there is a big difference between respecting everyone’s deepest beliefs and suggesting that these belief systems can be improved upon; few people are experts concerning their own faith systems anyway. Does any theology excel over others in addressing scientific issues? Does any theology even adequately address such issues as the virgin birth, miracles, the resurrection, the Second Coming, and the nature of heaven from a scientific perspective? (I have already tipped my hand that I will try to unify science with Christian theology.)

Even if I enjoyed special enlightenment and chose the best interpretation from science to describe reality and the best interpretation from theology, the problem still exists that science and theology use wholly different languages. The differences must be addressed and bridged. And, unless I plan to sell this book only to a handful of intellectuals, I also need to reach the understanding of normal but serious-thinking laypeople while still challenging their minds.

Another problem is that God will stand in the way of my ultimate success. I believe God does not want to be proven in any way that would threaten a person’s freedom of thought and discrimination. Otherwise God would use coercion and constantly interfere with all our daily activities. And what constitutes proof? For instance, if experiments reveal that prayer and worship have a positive effect on one’s health (and they do), is this proof of a Divine Architect? One might just as easily explain that faith is an evolutionary strategy of selfish genes to calm the human mind from stressful thoughts about the inevitable fate of one’s death and enable us to live longer and have more chances at reproduction. So even if such an experiment in faith were repeatable, it would still be open to interpretation.

I have also put myself in the uncomfortable position of going against the experts. Therefore, I run the risk that this work will be summarily dismissed. However, since none of the experts has all the answers, I have invited myself to the table.

“A leader must have the courage to act against the expert’s advice.”
– James Callaghan

My calling is to go against the advice of the experts, to shake things up and stir up the dust. I come to the table with the wish to stimulate healthy discussion. I have not shied away from making choices, and you will find my choices to be quite unexpected; in many cases they will be quite new to you.

I have chosen to use the scientific and theological ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg, an eighteenth-century scientist, philosopher, mystic and theologian. Using the ideas of a little known eighteenth-century thinker to straddle complex twenty-first century issues may seem like intellectual suicide. But I have studied this extraordinary man for more than 35 years, and I am confident that he has provided the world with scientific ideas that have yet to be grasped (like quantum gravity) and a theology that is most suited to interface with the discoveries of modern science. My undertaking will live or die on that choice.

Who is he? Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) is one of the most overlooked thinkers in human intellectual history. His theology, while Christian, is radically inclusive and teaches that all those who sincerely live according to their religious beliefs and conscience and strive to do good from spiritual principles are welcomed into heaven. He states:

“ All people who live good lives, no matter what their religion,
have a place in heaven.”

This universal idea of the essence of religion to seek goodness in one’s life was shared by Einstein, who said:

“ True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all
one’s goodness and righteousness.”

Swedenborg’s Christian theology was so universal that Buddhist scholar T.S. Suzuki wrote a book about him, comparing his ideas to Buddhism and calling him the “Buddha of the North.” Swedenborg demonstrated that similar universal principles could be found at the heart of all the world’s religions.

His most remarkable idea is that God’s Holy Word was more than a historical account of the human predicament. It was a scientific and multi-dimensional document. The Holy Word, which encompasses God’s wisdom, not only teaches us how to live, but also contains deeper levels of meaning that offer insights into the true nature of God and the scientific principles, laws, and symmetries that emerge from this Divine nature and Divine order.

God and science are one.

All true knowledge is connected because it leads to Love and Wisdom. Knowledge that does not lead us to wisdom is incomplete and disconnected from the bio-friendly laws of the universe. This idea of the ultimate interconnectedness of knowledge is not simply New Age drivel or philosophical naiveté. Real Science seeks knowledge for the goodness and benefit of society. How else is human achievement to be a blessing? How else can human society reach true greatness? Again, Einstein:

“ All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
All these aspirations are directed towards ennobling man’s life,
lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading
the individual towards freedom.”


“ Intelligence makes clear to us the interrelationship of means and ends.
But mere thinking cannot give us a sense of the ultimate and fundamental ends.
To make clear these fundamental ends and valuations
and to set them fast in the emotional life of the individual,
seems to me precisely the most important function
which religion has to form in the social life of man.”

Swedenborg underscores Einstein’s sentiment that knowledge must lead us beyond head-intelligence and move toward the heart:

“ To understand and to be wise are two altogether distinct things,
for we may understand and still not be wise; but one leads us to the other,
namely, science to the cognition of truth (veri) and truth (veritas)
to the cognition of good, and it is the good which is sought for.
But in order that we may be wise, it is necessary,
not only that we should know and thus understand what truth and good are,
but that we should also be affected with the love of them.”

– Worship and Love of God, Part 3, footnote b

Love is an emotion, and only recently has neuroscience begun to look at the importance of emotion within human cognitive function and consciousness. All human thought links itself to some emotion, appetite, desire, intention, volition, or derivative of love, and emotion is now recognized as a vital part of human reason. In other words, the neural networks are subservient to affection, which modifies the activity that animates, focuses our attention, and shapes our very thoughts and memory.

Swedenborg anticipated these “modern” ideas about the brain more than 250 years ago, even taking these ideas into deeper structures within the neuron. He believed that passion, emotion, intention, and love modified the neural structures of the brain, and the resulting modifications represented the analogs, ratios and equations that produce human thought. Thoughts are the outer forms of our intentions. Said another way, emotions and affections are the inner life of our thoughts, and from these thoughts come our speech. No information, idea, or subject can connect itself to our personal lives without some affection. Our worldview is an internalization of our loves.

The importance of emotion in all this is that it links neuroscience to personal-level experience and contributes an important link between hard science, the human heart and a heavenly God of Love.

In spite of all the problems that come with writing a book like this, there is a way out of the challenge of pleasing readers. Everyone responds to Love. This book is about Love! Therefore, no matter what beliefs you hold, you are invited to experience a most pleasant surprise—that Love is the ultimate reality. I am not a betting man, but I wager that, quietly, you will root
me on!

                                                                               – Edward F. Sylvia, M.T.S.

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by Ian J. Thompson, Ph.D.                                                  


It is well known that there are many severe problems yet unsolved in the foundations of physics, not least the question of whether and how to unify the dynamic geometries of general relativity with the superpositions of quantum mechanics. There are even more difficult problems when it comes to understanding minds and how they can be related to the physical world. Most scientists these days want to accept some kind of “non-reductive physicalism,” but there are still persistent debates about whether such a view is even internally consistent. And there is always the question of how to God can possibly be understood, and how anything Divine can be related to the physical world. Can we say anything scientific, for example, about how God could influence the evolution of life on earth? Most scientists and philosophers want rather to accept some kind of “dual magisteria,” whereby science and religion are allowed to peaceably coexist within their own realms, and as long as they are not allowed to disturb each other.


These commonly held views are all based on the desire to leave science alone; to let it proceed autonomously and not to disturb it. However, the views are all based on ignorance of connections. They all reflect the fact that we do not yet have any scientific knowledge that connects general relativity with quantum mechanics, or connects minds with the physical world, or connects anything Divine with the universe. They are all therefore susceptible to revision if we do have some good theory about any of these connections. Many today say that there are no connections, but that again is from ignorance. If someone does propose a theory for these connections, then that proposal should be worked out as best as possible, as it may be a chance for solving our severe problems.


Developing such a connecting theory is what Ed Sylvia is trying to do in this book, based on some neglected ideas found in the works of Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg, a Swede who lived from 1688 to 1772, claimed to have received extensive instruction in philosophical, spiritual and theological knowledge after his “inner sight was opened” in his 50s. Before that stage, Swedenborg had demonstrated a very independent and penetrating scientific mind, and published a Principia to explain his theory of how physical objects may be constructed by the rapid spiral motions of microscopic points.


This is not the place to discuss the entire veracity of Swedenborg’s writings, but his ideas do certainly appear to be relevant to all our contemporary problems as listed above. This book starts by using Swedenborg’s early physics ideas to see how a more modern account of how a “pregeometric” realm might be constructed. Ed then works to link that account with Swedenborg’s later ideas about how a spiritual realm might exist, and how such a realm might function in relation to the physical world. In a most interesting manner, Swedenborg and Sylvia see the spiritual world as continuously existing “alongside” the physical, and continually generating the physical world to sustain it in apparently stable forms. This, they argue, gives the appearance of physicalism, as the world functions “as if” from its own powers; but the powers are themselves derived from some other (spiritual) cause. And it would go some way to explain the apparent autonomy of the physical world.


Of course, anyone can make such claims: the proof is in the details. And there are certainly many details known today about the world that could not have been known in the 18th century. It is therefore a challenge to present Swedenborg’s ideas again in relation to what we now know about physics, biology and neurology. Sylvia certainly rises to that challenge.



Ian J. Thompson



Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California
and Department of Physics, University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom.

Aug 28, 2009.

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© 2008-2013 Staircase Press. All Rights Reserved.

Degrees and Correspondences

  Lecture VI

Degrees and Correspondences

Whatever theory of creation we may adopt, we must admit that all things are connected and related. If we make matter the origin, and rise to man, as along an inclined plane; or if we begin with God stance and force, and descend from Him to the lowest as the First Cause and the embodiment of all substance and force, and descend from Him to the lowest forces of matter, and ascend from them to man, it is evident that there must be a constant connection between the first and the last step. We may give different names to the process by which one organized form is evolved from another; we may call it evolution, progress, development; but the change of name does not touch the constant fact that there is an unbroken chain of cause and effect, binding all things to each other and each to all. “Whatsoever is unconnected does not exist.” The materialist and the Christian stand on the same ground in this respect, though setting out from opposite positions. I propose to state as clearly as I can, and as fully as the limits of a lecture will allow, the doctrine concerning this constant connection between the Creator and the creation, first distinctly taught by Swedenborg, and which runs through his philosophy and all his doctrines concerning God and man and nature, and their relations to each other.

According to this doctrine, all substances and forces have their origin in the Lord, and flow forth from Him as their infinite fountain. He is the Every substance that emanates from Him descends from its source, and in its descent parts with some “Most High.” Departure from Him is descent. of its energy and activity. If we regard the sun as representing the Lord, we shall have a perfect example of this descent and loss of activity in the substances which flow from him. His heat constantly diminishes, and his light grows dim and the sub stances less active until they rest in the rock. But this loss of energy and change in he nature of substance does not take place by a regular, constant and continuous diminution. As the rock did not this loss of energy and change in the nature of substance does not take place by a regular, constant, emanate from the sun as a rock, or water as water, but in some purer, more active substance, possessing qualities entirely distinct and impossible to solid matter, so the creation descends from its Infinite Fountain, and in its descent changes into substances and forces entirely distinct from those which first proceeded from their source. The substances combine and form a composite, a grosser and less active one. They form distinct degrees or planes of substance. These degrees do not shade off and run into each other by imperceptible gradations. They are steps; they are discrete degrees, each one of which is as distinct from the other as the atmosphere from the ether, or water from the gases which compose it. Each degree becomes a plane of creation separate from every other. Its boundaries are clearly defined; its substances possess qualities which belong to no other degree. “They are like things prior, subsequent, and final, or like end, cause, and effect. These degrees are called discrete, because the prior is by itself, the subsequent is by itself, and the final by itself; yet is formed by a combination of the substances of a higher degree. taken together they make one.” Each lower degree is formed by a combination of he substances of a higher degree.

We find abundant examples of this universal law of creation in our own natures and in everything around us. A gas and a fluid are entirely distinct from each other in substance and qualities. But one is created from the, other. Two gases unite and form water, which is an entirely different substance from either. A grain of powder, which can be measured, possesses color and form, can be instantly changed into gases. It is a well-established fact that our earth and all the planets were derived or evolved from the sun, and consequently the matter which composes them was of the same ‘substance as the sun. These examples, which might be indefinitely multiplied, are sufficient to show what is meant by a discrete degree of the creation.

There are three of these discrete degrees In the whole creation and in every part of it. They exist in the least things and in the greatest; in every mineral, plant, animal, and man. It is universal law of existence. The three essentials of the Divine nature are love, wisdom, and the two combined in use, or in the thing or being created. Taking the whole of being and creation into view, we have the Creator, the infinite source of all substance and power; the spiritual universe and the material universe. There are three heavens, the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural, each of which is as distinct from the other in substance as earth, water, and atmosphere. Each has its own sun, consequently, its own light and heat, its own earth and sky, formed of its special degree of substance, and possessing its special qualities. There are three material atmospheres derived from the sun the aura, the ether, and the air. Nature is divided into three kingdoms : the animal, the mineral, and the vegetable. Three degrees or planes of organs in potency or actual creation compose the human spirit. These planes are organized of the substances of the three heavens; they partake of their nature. Each degree can receive influx from its corresponding degree in the heavens, and is specifically adapted to it, as the eye to the ether, the ear to the atmosphere, and the stomach to liquid and solid food. There are three vital organs in the material body : the heart, the lungs, and the brain, each performing its specific functions and having its boundaries. Everything in its least and largest parts is created in a threefold order.

This trinal order originates in the nature of things. There must be the trinity of end, cause, and effect in the creation of everything, and these three are entirely discrete from one another. The end is not the cause, the cause is not the effect, but the effect is the result of both acting together. In the relation of these three essential factors of every act, we can see the absurdity of materialism. It leaves out the prime factor. According to that doctrine there is no end or purpose in it.

Every material thing must have three dimensions: length, breadth, and thickness. Take either of the factors away and the others would have no existence. In every complete mental or spiritual act there must be love, wisdom, and use; or affection, thought, and act. This universal mode of action and being in the least and greatest things, is not a hypothesis or theory. It is a law of the Divine order which can be verified by science and philosophy, and even by the senses, in everything that comes within the domain of human knowledge. It has its ground in the necessity of existence. It is, therefore, a universal law of the Divine order embodied in the creation. It is a thread which, originating in the Divine nature, runs through every secret labyrinth of spirit and matter. By following its clew we can pass from one realm of the creation to another, and from every one to the Lord. “The doctrine of degrees,” as Swedenborg has truly said, “is the key to open the causes of things.” Without it we cannot know the difference between spirit and matter, creation and the. Lord.

Degrees are of two kinds, discrete and continuous. Discrete degrees are related to each other as end, cause, and effect. Continuous degrees consist in the gradual increase of some quality of the same discrete degree of substance. The increase’ of light from the faintest indications to the most intense brightness; the change from cold to intense heat; all the variations of matter from soft to hard, fine to gross, dense to rare, weakness to strength, are examples of continuous degrees.

According to this doctrine, the creation is divided into distinct planes or degrees of descent from the Creator, between which there is no continuity of substance by continuous and insensible decrease of quality, as from finer to grosser, from the active to the inert. There is a distinct cleavage between them, each degree possessing kinds of substance and force and qualities which cannot be transmitted to the other. Neither realm can invade the other and appear in its own form. While intimately connected as cause and effect, they are still separated by an impassable gulf. The higher degree can create the lower, but it cannot become the lower. It can create it as an instrumental cause, as affection can create thought and move to action, but cannot become thought and physical motion. It follows from this law of discontinuity between the distinct degrees of the creation, that while God creates the universe of matter and being from Himself, He does not become the universe. Nature is not God though a constant emanation from Him.

The same law rules in the ascent as in the descent. The lower cannot become the higher by any purification or sublimation of its substance. Matter cannot become spirit, as physical action cannot become thought, and thought cannot become affection, and knowledge love. Man cannot become God, however high he may rise in the scale of being in intelligence and power.

While there is this distinct cleavage between the different degrees of substance and being, there is still the most intimate connection between them. So intimate and constant is the connection, and so dependent is a lower step upon the one above it, that the substance and power and even the existence of the lower depend upon the higher. The universe and all it contains are a constant creation from the Lord and by the Lord, and if His creative energy were withheld for a moment, all worlds and all created beings would fade into non-existence, as light and heat vanish when their cause ceases to act.

Creation is not a mechanical work, resulting from the action of one thing upon another by contact, as men shape and arrange material objects and combine. them into new forms. Creation is effected by the operation of forces and substances flowing from within. These substances and forces originate in the Lord as their infinite fountain, and constantly emanate from Him. This first substance contains within itself the promise and potency of every created substance, being, and thing. It contains within itself a tendency, an effort towards the human form. It is an organizing force. As there is in quantities, a power that moulds it into spheres, and water and in every fluid, in the largest and smallest which does it when the world, or ocean, or globule of mist is left free to move, so there is in every substance and force a tendency constantly acting to organize it into the human form. Matter in every state, gaseous, fluid, or solid, is formed from this substance, and constantly retains qualities which fit it to become a part of an organized body. Organization is not effected by matter itself. It is not a chance hit in the ebb and flow of its forces. It is the effect of a force of a distinctly higher degree of substance acting upon it from within. This force, like attraction, which is one form of it, is everywhere present in all planes and degrees of creation, and is constantly operating in the least and largest things, sustaining and binding all together, and out of innumerable distinct things making one harmonious whole.

The distinct degrees of substance are first created, as materials out of which to organize plants, animals, and men. Then, by the inflowing and constant action of the forces into the substances created, the kingdoms of nature and intelligent beings are formed. The universe is pervaded by these spiritual and Divine forces in constant operation, working to pro: vide the inorganic materials and mould them into organic forms which are capable of receiving life. The result of the action of these influent forces is always determined by the state and quality of the materials into which it flows. It may be some form of a plant. It is a well-known fact that every plant has a specific form, color, and quality, and that no plant will grow in soil which does not possess the substances that enter into its composition. It may be some Form of animal life. Where special conditions are present the same insects and animals will appear. Climate and soil and the state of matter determine the special form of creation, though they are only the materials out of which it is formed. The fish must have water, the bird air, the animal special vegetable substances to supply the materials for its organization. The same power that creates a plant, an animal, or a man constantly flows into the forms created and manifests itself according to the nature of the thing or being formed.

The degree of life and the quality of life will be determined by the capacity of the object to receive and communicate it. And not only the measure and quality of the life on one plane, but the distinct degree of it. The plant has a form which inorganic matter does not possess, and consequently it can receive life and possesses qualities impossible to the mineral. The animal is not merely formed out of substances contained in the plant, but those substances serve as a basis for the organization of forms that can receive life in a higher degree. The animal can be endowed with consciousness and intelligence in the form of instinct which is a quality of life entirely distinct, discreted from the life of the plant. It is not evolved from the plant. It is created by the influent forces entirely distinct from any that the plant was capable of receiving. The plant supplied materials of such a nature that substances of a higher degree could find a basis in them for creating higher forms which could receive life of a corresponding nature.

The same principle applies to man. His intellectual and moral qualities are not evolved from the nature which he possesses in common with animals becomes the basis and the instrumental means for the consciousness and instinct of the animal. The nature which he possesses in common with animals becomes the basis and the instrumental means for the creation of a distinctly higher plane of faculties or forms organized of spiritual substances; and, therefore, capable of receiving the inflowing forces of life creation of a distinctly higher plane of faculties or from the Lord of a pre-eminently superior quality. The spiritual degree of man’s nature is created; a nature or an organization homogeneous to the spiritual and celestial degrees of the creation, and capable of being acted upon by the supreme excellence of their forces. It can be endowed with a distinctly finer and higher consciousness, and is, therefore, capable of becoming the subject of the most exquisite delight. The substances which flow from the Lord descend step by step from Him, becoming more concrete and less active, until they reach the circumference of creation, form its boundary and rest in the form of dead matter. This matter which constitutes the material universe becomes the foundation on which the kingdoms of nature and the universe of intelligent being rest, and the materials which the same intelligent Power that constantly creates it can use in the organization of the higher forms of life. The order and process is the same in principle as that which every man pursues in building a house and providing a home for his family. He must procure the materials and lay the foundation for this superstructure.

Having a basis for His creation of intelligent beings, the superstructure begins to rise from story to story, until the circuit is complete and returns to Him from whom it commenced. The stories are distinct stages of forms increasing by distinct steps until it reaches the highest degree of ascent. It rises through the material universe by three distinct steps, which are the kingdoms of nature. Then from the material universe to the spiritual, when it again ascends by the more distinct steps from natural to spiritual, from the spiritual to. the celestial. The three steps are three universes of spiritual beings, each one of which has its distinct boundaries which its members cannot pass. They may constantly increase in the excellence of their own organization, and, consequently, in the qualities of life they can receive from the Lord. But it is as impossible to ascend out of it as it would be for a fish to rise out of the water and breathe the atmosphere which gives life to the animal.

Every step in the creation is complete in itself, but yet forms a distinct factor and component part of the whole. Every step is created by the Lord by forces and substances which constantly flow from Him and constantly operate to sustain and multiply the forms of vegetable, animal, and spiritual life. No created thing or being has any power which is not constantly given to it by influx from the Lord. Power cannot be created; it can only be communicated. Forms only can be created capable of being moved to action by the untreated forces which flow in and set all things in motion. The kind of action will always be determined by the quality of the form. Thus we make the Lord the centre and constant source of the material and the spiritual universe, and of every form of matter, and being from the rock to the highest angel. He is the First and the Last.

Having considered the subject of degrees in the creation, and the manner in which the Lord creates and sustains all things, it remains to show the relation which these discrete degrees hold to one another, and how the different planes of existence act and react upon each other; how the innumerable variety of objects and forces of every conceivable form and degree of power whose currents flow into each other act and react against each other, move in perfect harmony and give stability to the universe; and, though infinitely complex, move in the paths of a perfect order to the accomplishment of a specific purpose. The law, according to which these discrete degrees of creation. are bound together, and the forces of one degree act upon another, and the inhabitants in one state of being communicate with the inhabitants of another, is called Correspondence.

The doctrine of Correspondence holds a most important place in the system of creation; and when it is known and understood, it will enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge beyond all present conception by the most intelligent students of nature. It will solve a multitude of problems which have baffled the power of scientist and theologian, and bridge the gulf between matter and spirit, between the inhabitants of the material and the spiritual universe, and between the whole creation and the Lord. Swedenborg calls it “the science of sciences,” and says it was the principal subject of study by the wise men in the Golden Age of humanity.

Correspondence is the relation between one discrete degree of the creation and another. As it man is an epitome of the universe, a microcosm in whose nature are gathered all its substances, forms, orders, degrees, and relations, we can find in him holds equally between small and large things, and as perfect examples and illustrations of the nature of Correspondence. We all know that man’s affections and thoughts manifest or represent themselves in his looks, speech, and the motions of the body. His affections show themselves in the tones of his voice, in the changes of the muscles of his face, and in the various movements of the whole body. They do this naturally, that is, without any purpose or effort on his part. Grief will cause weeping; shame mantles the face with blushes; joy expresses itself by smiles and laughter. Sadness darkens the countenance and draws a veil over the features. Humility bows the head and softens the voice, while pride and disdain lift it up. Anger inflames the eye, clinches the hands, and gives harshness to the tones. Every feature and limb may express the same affection but each in its own way. The affections and passions cause these effects. There is nothing arbitrary or artificial in their production. They are not limited to particular persons. They are the same among all nations and in all ages. They exist in the nature of a human being; they are a universal language which is understood without any instruction. All these actions are correspondences. Weeping and tears correspond to grief; a blush corresponds to shame; laughter to joy; the bowed head and somber face to sadness; the fierce look and the clinched hand to anger; the crouching form and the uncertain step and the wild look to fear. These physical actions are the effects of which those emotions or passions are the cause. They are related to them as effects are related to their causes. They are the forms in which those affections express themselves when they come down from the spiritual plane of being into the material. Therefore they perfectly represent them. They are the language of the soul in material forms. There is a most intimate connection between them, but a clear distinction. They are totally unlike, and yet the natural motion, form, tone is the perfect expression of the affection which caused it. A tear is not grief; a smile is not a pleasant affection; a blush is not shame; the clinched hand is not anger; laughter is not joy. The effect is never the cause, is always wholly unlike it, and yet is most intimately connected with it and perfectly represents and expresses it. The physical act responds to the spiritual or mental act. It always responds in the same way, always speaks the same language, and, so far as relates to man himself, it can be understood. The affections come down into the material plane, clothe themselves with the physical organs, and declare their nature and purposes. They use the material faculties to express and do their will. By looking on the face, by listening to the tones of the voice, and watching the motions of the body, we can learn the intentions and qualities of the affections; we can see the thoughts, and form some conclusion concerning the character and intelligence of those with whom we associate.

From these examples, which might be indefinitely multiplied, and which every one can understand, we can get a distinct and true idea of the law of Correspondence. We can see how one discrete degree of the creation manifests itself in a lower degree and by correspondence binds the two together. We can see how a higher and a lower plane act as one while they remain entirely distinct. Let us apply this law to the relation of the Creator to the creation.

Every act of creation is effected by forces and substances which originate in the Lord, reach nature and man from within. Creation is not an arbitrary, mechanical work. A tree is not made like a house; an animal is not created in the same way as an engine. While it is true that one material thing is used as an instrument in creating another, the power which uses it comes from within. It is an influence, an inflowing, as light and heat from the sun, as affection and thought into the physical organs of the body.

According to this law, the universe is a constant creation of the Lord by substances and forces which flow from Him. It follows as a natural and inevitable consequence that the universe, as a whole and in every particular that is in true order, corresponds to Him and represents His love and wisdom. It is no poetic fancy; it is no invention of the imagination; it is not by any arbitrary and artificial conception of the human mind; it is a fact based on the immutable laws of the Divine order, and the inherent relations between cause and effect. As a tear corresponds to sorrow, as laughter is the effect of joy, of material forms and living beings is the embodiment of the Divine love and wisdom, corresponds to them, represents them, and expresses them in a natural and perfect language: In the sublime and scientific words of the Psalmist : “The heavens declare, the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.”

Let us now look for a moment at some particular things which voice the love and wisdom of the Lord. It is true that but little of this language is now understood. But some natural things by universal consent are employed to express thoughts and affections, and, in general, states and activities of the mind. Light is used as the correlative and correspondent of truth. It is not in an arbitrary way that light gains this meaning; it is not by way of figure of speech. It is the specific effect of a correspondential cause. That is the reason why it is understood without any explanation. Light is to the material universe as truth to the spiritual universe. Truth is spiritual light, and natural light is a lower form of truth. It corresponds to it; it renders man stood without any explanation. Light is to the same service. Natural light reveals the forms, qualities, and relations of material objects. Truth reveals the forms, qualities, and relations of ideas and principles which are spiritual objects. The analogy between these two discrete degrees of light is perfect. Learning truth upon any subject is getting light upon it. We call an intelligent mind an enlightened one. We describe the qualities of the intellect by the qualities of light. The intellect is bright, clear, brilliant, luminous, or unenlightened, obscure, and dark.

In the same way, and for the same reason, heat corresponds to love, and represents it. It acts in the same’ manner and performs the same use in material things that love does in the spiritual plane of being. Love is the end or purpose which moves all the spiritual faculties to action. Heat renders the same service in the material world. Love is the life of the soul; heat is the life which sets all things in. motion. Love is represented by the heart. Love is the heart of the spiritual body, and performs the same functions that the material heart performs-to the material body. The terms of heat are therefore constantly applied to express the state of the affections. We speak of a cold, frozen, icy, warm heart, of ardent affections, burning and fiery passions. All the qualities, activities, and relations of heat are employed to express the qualities, relations, and activities of love. But to see the correspondence between heat and love clearly we must have some true knowledge of the nature of love. When we understand that love is something more than a feeling or an emotion; when we know that it is the inmost and highest form of substance and power, we can see that the correspondence between heat and love runs through the universe. Both are a substance in motion, and each performs the same office in its own sphere. We can therefore accurately describe love in terms of heat, or heat in terms of love.

This law of correspondence is of universal application. It is beautifully exemplified in the three kingdoms of nature. Each kingdom corresponds to and represents the Lord. They represent His love and wisdom and power in different forms and degrees. The mineral kingdom corresponds to them in the most general and lowest forms. The rock which is the most stable of material things, and forms the foundation for land and water, corresponds to the immutability of the Divine purposes and methods of accomplishing them. For this reason the Lord is often called a rock. Water is a general solvent of substances of which plants and animals are organized and the means of life to them. As all life and the substances which support it come from the Lord in a constantly flowing stream, the ocean, the clouds, the rain, and dew, the springs which well forth from the hills and the flowing stream are perfect correspondents and representations of the methods by which He works in all planes of the creation. The atmosphere, from its motions and qualities and use in the creation of plants and animals, and especially in its relations to the material body and its agency in setting all its organic forms in motion and endowing man himself with consciousness, performs the same office as the Holy Spirit, which is the. Divine truth, and, consequently, corresponds to and represents it. It performs the same office as water, which is also the correspondent of Divine truth, but on a lower plane of the creation. Divine truth is to man’s spiritual organism as water to his physical organism.

As matter becomes fixed in the mineral kingdom and determines space and time, high and low, and the various spatial relations of one thing to another, we obtain a great number of correspondences that represent the relations and qualities of -spiritual beings to each other and to the Lord. He is called the Most High, to designate His supreme perfections. Improvement in the excellence of character is called ascent, rising. We use the terms high, low, broad, narrow, deep and shallow, large and small, and many others to express degrees of intelligence and moral excellence. Nature supplies us with a language to express the qualities of spirit, because the objects of nature correspond to spiritual qualities and activities. When we use them we think only of their spiritual meaning.

The vegetable and mineral kingdoms represent the Lord’s love and wisdom in higher forms. The special qualities of the Divine character. They are forms of life; and every step in the process of organization is taken according to a law which originates various objects in these kingdoms correspond to special qualities of the Divine character.  They are forms of life; and every step in the process of organization is taken according to a law which originates in the Divine nature. Organization is the Divine method of creating forms that can receive the Divine love and wisdom, become conscious of their possession, recognize their qualities, and be made happy and blessed by them. This is the reason why so much is said about trees and animals in the Sacred Scriptures which are written according to the relation between natural and spiritual things. The Lord calls Himself a vine. All plants, from the tender grass to the oak,. cedar, and palm, are employed as symbols of the processes of spiritual growth. The Lord is also called a lion and a lamb, because the strength of the one and the innocence of the other are primary qualities of His nature. Nature is the created word of God. It is a revelation of His love and wisdom, of the laws of His order, purposes, and the means by which He attains them. The objects in nature are not arbitrary characters. They are correspondences, they are the actual effects of the ends and causes they represents They have not become, and never can become, obsolete. They are connected with the First Cause by a living bond; they are the creation of a power which acts with uniform and ceaseless energy. Consequently, they represent the qualities of the Divine nature, not only in their forms and qualities, but in their growth and in all their relations.

As man was made in the image of God, and all the elements of the Divine nature are finited in him, the material universe as a whole and all the objects which compose it, correspond to the faculties and forces of his own spiritual being. They are a mirror in which he can see himself faithfully and variously reflected. Nay, more, they are his affections and thoughts, embodied in material and objective forms. As a smile is the embodiment of a pleasant emotion, as the brightness which shines in the eye and illuminates the face when a new and beautiful thought is born in the intellect, so every plant and animal, and the light of the sun which reveals and glorifies the material world, is the embodiment of some affection, some thought or principle in the composition of the human mind. God reveals Himself to man in nature. He reveals man to Himself in nature. In this way the outward and visible world becomes the means of communion and conjunction between man and his Maker. It is a common ground on which they can stand, a common language, which expresses in the fullest and most specific manner the nature and purposes of both. If man, by the perversion of his faculties, has become blind to the real meaning of the living characters which environ him, if he has become deaf to the Divine harmonies and the many-toned voices in which the Lord speaks to him in the sounds of nature, it does not invalidate the fact that they are a Divine language, and, consequently, full of infinite and specific meanings.

This doctrine of evolution does not banish God from the universe, or, having once created it, make Him a remote spectator of a work completed ages ago. It brings Him near to it as a constant, active agent in vital connection with it. It is a manifestation of what He is doing to-day. It is the embodiment of the love and wisdom He is exercising now before our eyes. It is not a creation effected by accident in the wild conflict of unconscious forces which originate in no intelligent purpose and have no meaning. Every substance has a Divine origin; every force is adjusted to the specific work to be done; every motion follows in the paths of a Divine order towards its accomplishment. There is no conflict and waste of power of one element with another. What seems so is but the play and balance of forces which are directed by infinite skill to accomplish a special purpose. Every object is luminous with a Divine meaning. Creation is not a theatre formed by chance on which puppets appear and disappear without cause or meaning, and are whirled about in an endless maze which has no beginning, no orderly connection, and no end. It is a grand panorama in which its Divine author displays His love and wisdom in infinitely complex but orderly forms, giving to every part a freedom according to its nature and mission, and a power to cooperate in its own way with every other in the accomplishment of a heavenly purpose. It is not a chaos but a cosmos, over which broods a Divine power guided by a Divine intelligence to the accomplishment of the ends of infinite love.

This doctrine gives us an evolution that is not chaos but a cosmos, over which broods a Divine  spread out on the level of an indefinitely extended plane, where there is but one substance existing in various forms, which melt into one another by continuous and indistinguishable degrees. The universe is divided into distinct planes, each of which has its boundaries, containing substances peculiar to itself, which contain qualities and motions and capacities for a distinct degree of life, richer and fuller and finer than is possible to any form of matter. But these degrees are themselves bound into a perfect unity by correspondence. It is not a unity of similarity of substance with no distinction but more or less, grosser or finer. It is a distinction which gives infinite variety of form and quality, in which each discrete degree is a complement of the other, increasing its excellence and forming a more perfect whole. This doctrine gives us an infinite fountain from which all things are evolved, and which must therefore contain the promise and potency of substances, qualities, and forms, without any limit; which reveal a Divine personal Creator, distinct from His creation, and yet as intimately connected with every part of it as cause and effect. Who creates man and endows him with faculties capable of knowing and loving the Divine Author of his being, of seeing His love and wisdom in the means He has provided to supply his wants, develop and perfect his faculties, and crown him with joy.  

The Office of Environment in Evolution

 Lecture V

The Office of Environment in Evolution

 “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” Psalm cxxxix. 5.

Heredity and environment play a most important part in all the theories of evolution. They are, indeed, regarded as the chief factors whose product is life. A creative power is attributed to them a power inhering in them and even if not self-originating, has its source in Nature which stands in many theories of the creation in place of God. The creation taken collectively is called Nature, and then the particular operations and objects in the world are called the works of Nature. According to this notion, creation is the author of the parts which cornpose it, and consequently must have existed prior to itself. It involves the same absurdity that it would to say that a tree created its roots, trunk, limbs, and leaves. In every scientific treatise, and in many theological works, we are constantly told about Nature’s works, Nature’s laws, as though Nature was an intelligent being. But Nature has no purpose or power of its own; Nature enacts no laws. It is merely a passive instrument in the hands of an intelligent power wielded to accomplish the purposes of infinite love. To attribute the works of Nature or the influences of Nature to itself, is as absurd as brush and colors and canvas on which they were laid, it would be to attribute the Dresden Madonna to the brush and colors or the Cologne cathedral to the stones of which it is constructed. We do speak in common language of what the pen and the chisel and the engine perform, but the language is always understood figuratively. We attribute to the instrument the skill and power that wields it. But when we mistake figure for fact, we fall into the most fatal errors.

That heredity and environment are most important instrumentalities in the creation and in the development of human beings needs no proof. The fact is evident to the most casual observer. But they are not causes in themselves; they are merely instruments in the hands of an intelligent power to secure a special end. The theory of evolution as it is commonly understood is that they are original, but not intelligent causes; that they are the drift of blind and purposeless forces, and that the products of these forces and substances are the creation of the wonderful organisms and conscious activities we find in the three kingdoms of Nature. But how do the scientists know that Nature has this power? They do not know it. It is an Assumption, and one that is constantly contradicted by man himself in all his operations. The assumption or hypothesis is not adequate to the effects claimed for it. If we must frame a hypothesis or make a demand, why not make one large enough to cover the whole ground and honor all the drafts we can make on it?

The philosophy of the New Church does this. It sets out from the hypothesis, if any one desires to regard it as an hypothesis rather than a matter of revelation, that the whole creation is evolved from an infinite Being, who is substance, love, wisdom, and power in Himself. This postulate covers the whole ground. It even embraces Revelation; it accounts for all the facts. All the facts which the scientists have accumulated with so much industry and sagacity confirm it. It accounts for heredity. Heredity is a necessary consequence of the I would prefer to call it axiom rather than hypothesis from which we set out. It accounts for the variety and similarity and difference of the various objects in the three kingdoms of Nature. It discriminates and unifies, but does not confound. It defines Nature, and assigns to it its true origin, qualities, and use.

Let us, in the first place, get as distinct an idea as possible of what we mean by environment. It means everything which surrounds us. Physically it means the material objects which we can see, the sounds which we can hear, the forces which constantly act upon us. It comprises the air we breathe,  the food we eat, the houses we dwell in, the occupations we pursue, and all external things that in any way touch us. Socially and civilly it means the society in which we move, the direct and indirect influence we receive from friends, acquaintances, and all the men and women with whom we associate and come in contact in the employments, the duties, and the pleasures of life. Our civil environment is the government, the general and special laws, customs, and institutions of our country, and of the community in which we live. Our intellectual environment consists of all the means within our reach of gaining knowledge and the development of our intellectual faculties. Our moral and spiritual environment is composed of all the moral and spiritual influences in the midst of which we live and move. In its largest sense our environment comprises everything without and around us which can in any way affect our physical, moral, intellectual, or religious nature. In modern science it is wholly limited, so far as I know, to the influences of those things and forces which lie around and without us. The subject for , our consideration is the office of environment in the evolution of man as an individual and a race. In more common phrase the subject is the influence of circumstances upon our physical, intellectual, and spiritual nature. It is a most important one from whatever point of view we regard it, and it will richly repay us for any amount of thought we may give to it.

The position of science, as I understand it, is that our environment has some inherent power in itself from which it acts and helps to fashion body and mind. It is not merely an instrument, but an independent agent which, co-operating with heredity, is the efficient cause of life and all the products of life. If there is any power behind Nature, it is an unknown power; it is the somewhat outside of Nature. It is not the action of an intelligent personal Being who has a distinct end to accomplish, and who is providing the means and using them to accomplish it. The effects of our environment are described effects are wonders, curiosities, which are produced by the wild play of unconscious elements. They with precision, but they have no meaning. The are like the colors of a kaleidoscope turned by an unconscious hand, without even the purpose of seeing the constant succession of beautiful colors, forms, and useful products. Evolution is the grand result. The largest and most important part of man’s environment is entirely ignored. All that gives definiteness, purpose, and significance to it is denied a hearing. It is a toss of dice, it is the play of wild forces acting and reacting upon each other that is directly the reverse of this. All the objects, the social, intellectual, and moral forces which compose man’s environment, are the provisions of infinite

The doctrine I am endeavoring to state and illustrate is directly the reverse of this.  All the objects, the social, intellectual, and moral forces which compose man’s environment, are the provisions of infinite love and wisdom for the development of human beings. They are the instrumental means which the Lord employs to effect the purposes of His love. They have a meaning, a distinct and definite purpose. The winds which seem to human ignorance so wild and lawless are running on His errands; the waves that ebb and flow with ceaseless and apparently idle motion are doing His work; the more interior and subtile forces which elude man’s senses and seem to be subject to no law are His servants, doing His bidding and promoting His ends. Every object in the three kingdoms of Nature is an instrument in His hand, created and guided with infinite skill and the most delicate power to create intelligent human beings who can receive and reciprocate His love in ever-increasing fullness and excellence for fortuitous events; there is nothing without a meaning and a purpose. The universe itself in its largest ever. There are no lawless forces; there are no and smallest forms, collectively and individually, is penetrated and environed with a beneficent and intelligent mind directing all things to the accomplishment of a specific purpose. The Lord says to everything in the universe, in language which can be understood, “Let us make man.” With this light to guide us, and with the consciousness and assurance that we are not walking in the midst of forces which have no supreme intelligence to direct them, let us notice some of the agencies in man’s environment and see how they operate in the evolution of his physical and spiritual faculties.

We have no difficulty in discovering that the outward world into which man is born, is adjusted with infinite precision to sustain and develop his physical organism. The most common things are the best examples of this adaptation, and of the agency of environment in effecting the Lord’s purpose concerning us. Take the atmosphere as an example. We live in an ocean of air as fishes in an ocean of water. It presses upon us on all sides; we breathe it every moment. It contains the substances we need to purify and vitalize the blood and give us natural sensation and consciousness. It is the universal symbol of life, because it is the material medium by which physical life is given to us. Notice its adjustment to our physical organism and to all our needs.. It would require but a slight change in its composition to destroy instead of sustaining life. The most potent cause of disease comes through the atmosphere. Consider its weight. It presses upon us with the power of many tons, but we do not feel it; we move freely in it. It is so elastic that we can pass easily, through it. It parts for us as we advance, and closes behind us, leaving no vacant space. A little more pressure would make it an intolerable burden; a little less, and the delicate organism of the body would be destroyed by distention. When men ascend high mountains breathing becomes difficult, the blood will often start from the ears and nostrils, and if they were carried high enough the body would be blown to pieces. These are common facts, which are generally known. How delicate must be the adjustment, how perfect the equilibrium to enable us to move freely in this great ocean, or to remain at rest in it!

But it not only sustains life directly as we inhale and exhale it. It is the proximate cause of sensation. It is to the material body what steam is to machinery : it sets it in motion. It is a well-known fact that there is no sensation in the material body until the atmosphere enters the lungs and sets the whole machinery of the body in action. When respiration is suspended, as in swooning and suffocation, consciousness is lost. There can be no sensation without motion. The office of the atmosphere, then, is not limited to supplying certain substances which are necessary to vitalizing the body. It is the universal motor adapted in the most exquisite manner to every form and state of the lungs, which communicate their general motion to every part of the body, and set every wheel in its infinitely complex organ-. ism revolving upon its axis, and give to every muscle and nerve the power to expand and contract and vibrate in the performance of its use, and in this way to fill every organ in the whole universe of the body with the power of sensation. It is one of the factors of physical life, though not the only one. Is it not a wonderful power, exhaustless in extent, always ready for use, and adapted to every possible form of lung, giving a just measure of supply to the microscopic insect and to beasts of mammoth size.

We are environed with atmospheres or ethers of  finer substances which are the media of light, magnetism, and attraction. I need not speak of the exquisite adaptations of light to the eyes, and the uses it performs in giving color to the various objects of nature, revealing their forms and photographing them upon the sensitive retina of the eye, where they become ideas and food for the sustenance and development of the natural mind and the materials of knowledge. I only need to mention how attraction is adapted to our strength. If it grasped us with stronger arms locomotion would be impossible; if its hold were relaxed, we should be thrown from the surface of the earth and sent flying through space to destruction. It is perfectly adjusted to the least and largest bodies, holds all things in connection and gives stability and permanence and motion to all. Surely we are girded about and penetrated and moved by omnipotent forces, which are yet so exquisitely adjusted to our organism and so perfectly balanced that we move in freedom in the midst of them. They give us power; they sustain our life; they run on our errands and are obedient to our will.

But we are not only environed by these invisible and formless forces, we are set in the midst of an infinite variety of objects which constitute the three kingdoms of the material universe. They, too, stand ready to offer us their service. They supply us with an abundance and variety of food. They are corn, posed of the same elements as our material bodies and can be woven into their organic forms. They gratify our taste, they satisfy our hunger, quench our thirst, and supply the constant wastes of life. They furnish us with materials to clothe our bodies, to build our houses. In one form or another they meet every material want. But this is not their only service. They minister to our pleasure and contribute to our human needs in manifold ways. They delight us with their beauty; they charm us with their variety; they awaken emotions of awe by their grandeur; they pique our curiosity and rouse us to action; they win our affections, and charm our fancy, and supply us with images which become. the bases of knowledge and the materials of intelligence. With such an endless variety of objects differing in form, color, nature, and use, each one of which offers us a special service, are we environed.

This universe of forms and forces which environ us, is itself environed within and without by spiritual forces guided by an infinite intelligence.  The kingdoms of Nature are forms of the Divine love; they are the implements which a Divine and personal intelligence provides and uses, moment by moment, for the creation of man and the development of those faculties which constitute a human being.

Nature is the garment with which the Lord clothes Himself; it is the veil which partly conceals and partly reveals His face. He stands behind it, imbues it with power, moulds its forms, guides its movements, directs and adjusts with infinite precision all its forces, to embody His own life, own love, wisdom, and power, in human beings who can bear His image and become the heirs of His power and blessedness. This conception gives meaning and an intelligent purpose to our environment. It insures the stability and perfectibility of the universe and of the human race. Everything becomes transparent, and we can see shining through all the objects in the three kingdoms of Nature, colored by its own light and modified by its own form, the image of our Heavenly Father, who is seeking to reveal Himself to us and bless us by all these instrumentalities.

But man is not created and set in a solid and unchangeable environment. Adjusted as all the objects and forces which compose it are with infinite precision, they are elastic and capable of constant change. Man inherits from the Lord the power to modify his own environment. He cannot create it; but he can change it and adapt it to his changing states. There is a reciprocal action constantly going on between man and his environment. The Lord touches him on all sides and in every conceivable form by his environment, rouses him to action, calls his faculties into play, enlarges and enriches his intellect with mental images, and awakens his affections to, conscious life. By these means the infant man soon outgrows his environment. He is not content to lie in the cradle or in the mother’s arms. He creeps, he walks, he sees a larger world than the nursery, and he longs to explore it. He begins to have ideas, tastes, and purposes of his own. He is not content with the food which Nature provides, and he prepares it to suit his taste and wants. He finds that his body needs protection from cold and storm, and he provides clothing for it. He seeks a cave for shelter, but in time discovers that he can build one better suited to his purpose, and we have the wigwam, the log-cabin, and finally the modern dwelling. He is not content to live on acorns and roots and the fruits which grow spontaneously around him. He finds that he has an agency in multiplying varieties and improving the qualities of grains and fruits, and the forests vanish away, the wild beasts disappear, and are replaced by vineyards, orchards, gardens, and fields waving with wheat and rich with golden corn. He changes his whole environment to adapt it to his new condition.

There is no better illustration of the power of man to change his environment than the place where we now are. It is but a few years since the site of our city and the region around us, from the lakes to the ocean, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was an unbroken forest inhabited only by savage men and wild beasts. What has caused this miraculous change? Why have the forests and the wild beasts and the more savage men disappeared? Why are the bills covered with orchards? Why are the fields rich with herds and flocks, with corn and various products to gratify the taste and sustain the life of man? Why the paved streets, the stores filled with the products of all climes, the comfortable dwellings and elegant mansions, the factories resonant with the hum of revolving wheels, the market, the banks, the courts of justice, the school-houses and colleges, and the churches whose spires point to heaven and whose walls resound with praises to the living God? The answer is easy. A people of greater intelligence, of finer tastes, of wider culture, a people who had some knowledge of God and of their own natures as spiritual beings, settled here. The environment of the savage was not suited to them; it did not meet their physical, much less their intellectual, moral, and spiritual wants. It did not correspond to their tastes and ideas; it did not give sufficient scope to their energies, and they gradually have wrought the miraculous change in their environment which is familiar to us all.

But this transformation was not wrought at once, or even conceived in the beginning. The civilized people who first planted their feet on the banks of the Delaware had no conception of a multitude of things which now environ us; which enter into our daily lives, and have become common necessities. The people have changed with their environment, and the environment with the people. Action and reaction have been in constant play, each modified and modifying the other. This is a most important law of human progress, and demonstrates that man possesses faculties entirely distinct from and superior law of human progress, and demonstrates that man to the plant and animal. The animal can hear sounds even more accurately than men; he hungers and thirsts, and the objects in his environment form the same images upon his eye. But he cannot make the same use of them. They do not enlarge and change his nature, and, consequently, he is content with his environment.

But it is not so with man. By the ideas he gains from Nature his intellectual faculties are called into play, and acquire strength and enlargement. By working for others-and by association with them his affections are awakened. He is drawn into closer union with them. He discovers that they have a common nature and common wants, and can render environment is created entirely distinct from the one another a larger and higher service; and a new material one. He lives in the same place, he breathes the same atmosphere, the same sun shines upon him. But he has risen into a new world. He becomes a factor in social life; he is quickened into action by new affections; he is touched by ideas instead of things; he sees principles as well as rocks and trees. He is environed by institutions which he has formed, and which constantly react upon him and raise him to a higher level of thought and life. He breathes an atmosphere of art, of music, of intellectual and moral culture. His horizon not only enlarges and the objects become more numerous and varied, but he is brought into more intimate and vital relations with them. By the aid of the printing-press he can sit in his home and commune with the wisest men of the past and the present age. By other means and by mutual service all men come to his door and offer him their gifts.

There is another remarkable process constantly going on in our environment. It is being transferred from without to within us. The objects of the outward world become ideas in the inward world. The memory becomes our environment. Such is its amazing capacity that every object we have seen with its colors, form, relations to other objects, its size and qualities, and all the associations and circumstances connected with them, are gathered into the memory, and form the environment of thought and feeling. They gird us round and bound our existence, and constitute the field of all our activities. This horizon can be indefinitely extended and filled with new ideas; but we can never pass beyond it. There is no limit to the combinations which can be made of the images. that have been photographed upon its delicate surface. But only those can enter into the combinations which exist in the mind. We think little of it, and yet it is a fact that we are daily and hourly forming the environment in which we must live forever. Every truth or error we learn, every deed we do, every object we look upon, every person we meet, enters into that environment and becomes a part of it which can never be eliminated. The material ideas may fade, but they enter into new combinations and. become the elements of a life.

Are we, then, the creatures of circumstance? Are we passive instruments to be played upon by all forces? Empty vessels to be filled with whatever happens to be poured into them? By no means.

The Lord has placed man in an environment designed with infinite wisdom to call all his faculties into orderly play. The essential principle of a human being is love, and love, as I have said in former lectures, is a vital substance, the embodiment of power. It is of its nature to act; to give itself to others, and to draw all others into union with itself. It gains power and delight by action. Man is, therefore, born into the world in perfect helplessness, naked and destitute, with only the possibilities of becoming a man, that his physical, natural, and spiritual faculties may be evolved by his own effort; and to this end that every possible motive and means of physical, intellectual, and spiritual action should be supplied .

Man is endowed with faculties which enable him to co-operate with the Lord in supplying his wants and in forming his spiritual environment. The Lord creates the material types in their general forms without man’s agency. He supplies the materials for food, clothing, and habitation, and equips man with all the means necessary to sustain his existence; endows him with faculties capable of endless enlargement and perfection, and shares with him the work and the delight of adapting himself to his material environment, and of shaping that environment to himself as his wants multiply.

The problems of human life can never be solved while we leave out their most important factor, and that is, that man is a spiritual being. In the creation of man the ford’s purpose was an immortal and an intelligent personal being who could partake of His nature and share His love and wisdom; and not a more excellent animal. Consequently everything in man’s environment is adapted to secure that end. His voluntary co-operation is necessary to the attainment of it, and consequently there is something left for him to do. His affections and intellectual faculties are to he developed by exercise, and every conceivable inducement is placed before him to think, to know, and to love. He is impelled by necessity; he is aroused by curiosity; he is won by beauty; he is attracted by novelty; and sustained in the most laborious exercise of all his intellectual faculties by the delight of seeing the order and complicated harmonies which open to his advancing footsteps. He has difficulties to overcome that he may gain strength by overcoming them; his wants multiply that he may be them; the most precious things are hidden that his intellectual sight may be sharpened and his rational faculties strengthened in finding them. There is always an element of uncertainty and incompleteness in the attainment of every apparent good that he may have constant occasion to use his judgment; his natural appetites and desires are strong and clamorous for gratification that his spiritual faculties may gain power by controlling them; he is placed in the midst of many attractions and repulsions and conflicting interests that he may freely choose the right; he is led to feel his own weakness, and brought into despair that he may distrust his own wisdom and seek strength and light from their fountain in the Lord. Thus everything in man’s environment from the least to the greatest, through all his changing states, is ordered by infinite wisdom to repress and keep in subordination his animal nature, develop his spiritual and distinctly human faculties; to create the purest, the largest, the most lovely spiritual environment, and, at the same time, preserve untouched his spiritual freedom, and make him a man, and not a machine or an animal.

In the evolution of human life in its physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual qualities, whether they relate to man as an individual or a race, we bring into the account a third factor of vastly more importance and active power than heredity or environment, a factor which the evolutionists for the most part practically ignore – that factor is God, the Supreme Intelligence, the omnipotent and constantly operating power. Grant that, and we gladly admit the methods and natural agencies which the scientists describe with much accuracy and power. But they are His agencies and His methods of accomplishing the ends of His love according to the forms of His wisdom.

This as it seems to us is a most important point. It bridges the gulf between science and religion. It gives to science everything that it claims for itself as science. It does more; it illuminates it with a light higher than its own. It puts a soul into the lifeless mechanism of the universe. The scientist describes the changes which take place in the form, color, and character of animals by domestication. That .is the Creator’s method of adjusting them to human use, and an instance of His constant care to provide, in the least as well as in the largest things, the means of human happiness. We are told how the exercise of every physical organ increases its power. This is a well-known and most significant fact. But whence comes the increase of power? Does it originate in the muscle or mental organism? Certainly not. It comes from a source outside of them. A large muscle is stronger than a small one, ‘because it can receive the influx of more power, on the same principle that a large vessel will hold more than a small one. The use of the power we possess is the Divine method of increasing it. It is an instance of the essential nature of perfect love which desires “to give its own to become another’s own.” The Lord seeks to give to every living thing the power to co-operate with Him in its own development. He bestows upon animals and men a semblance of creative power, leads them by their delights to exercise it, and rewards them by its increase.

This truth gives purpose and meaning to the creation. It is not a mechanical universe given up to the control of unconscious laws, the embodiment of awful forces which have no purpose, but act and react upon each other, and which at any moment may come in conflict and reduce everything to chaos. It is not a desolate and dead universe. It is the product of a personal Intelligence. It is warm with a Divine love; it is bright with a Divine wisdom; it is moved by a Divine hand; it is animated with a Divine life. In whatever direction we turn we can see in every movement God working; we can hear His voice in every sound; we can see His face, veiled and its glory obscured to adapt it to our feeble vision, in every object that is useful to man. We can look up to Him, and with reverent joy say, in the words of the Psalmist, “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid Thine hand upon me.” It is a Father’s hand, omnipotent in power, guided by infinite wisdom, but tenderer than a woman’s, and it is laid upon our heads in loving benediction.