BY GUY THORNE
Author of "When It Was Dark," "Made in His Image," "First It Was Ordained," Etc.
G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK
Copyright, 1908, by
G. W. DILLINGHAM COMPANY
I do not think a book of this sort requires a very lengthy foreword, but one or two things I feel it necessary to say concerning it. In the first place, I have to thank Mr. Hamilton Edwards for many valuable suggestions concerning it, suggestions which, undoubtedly, helped me very much in the writing.
The story is an attempt to impress upon readers the fact that we are, without doubt, surrounded on our way through life by unseen presences, unseen intelligences, which guard or attack that real portion of us which is ourselves—the soul.
Superficially, but only superficially, this is a very material age. We are surrounded by so many material wonders that the unthinking person is inclined to believe, at any rate to state, that the material is everything. Yet there is nothing more unsatisfying than the purely material aspect of life, after all.
How can any one be surprised if the ordinary man is perplexed when he is called upon to decide questions of economy and morality, when the material point of view is all that he can see? For all questions of morality must necessarily depend—as long ago Plato pointed out—upon a belief in something which we cannot touch or see. Otherwise, morality has no significance and no meaning, except that of expediency.
If, when our body dies, our personality stops, then I can see no logical reason whatever for trying to be good. To get all this life in itself has to offer by means of any sort—provided they do not entail personal discomfort—is the logical philosophy of the materialist. Yet the materialist, at the same time, is very frequently an honest and good-living man. This is not because he is a materialist, for there is no reason for being honest, unless one is found out in one's dishonesty, but because there is implanted within that soul which he denies a spark of the Divine Fire.
Of course, amongst thinking and really educated men and women, materialism is as out-moded as the bow and arrow in modern warfare, yet the majority of people do not think very much, nor are they well educated.
This story is an endeavour to point out that people who assert nowadays that Matthew Arnold's dogma, "miracles do not happen," are hopelessly out of the run of modern thought.
Men like Sir Oliver Lodge are laboriously discovering some of the laws of the Universe which give us portents and signs. No one who knows to-day dares to sneer at parthenogenesis, or to repeat the slander of Celsus about the Mother of God. It is only men who do not know, and men who have grown rusty in reposing on their past reputations, who cannot see that Materialism as a philosophy is dead.
Day by day fresh evidence of the power of the Spirit over Matter bursts upon us. A plea for "philosophic doubt," for Professor Huxley's infallibility, is no longer necessary. The very distinction between Matter and Spirit grows more and more difficult as Science develops analytical power. The minds of men are being again prepared to receive that supreme revelation which told of the wedding of the earth and Heaven, the taking of the Manhood into God.
The processes by which the hero of this story—Joseph—became what he was have been carefully thought out, in order to provide an opportunity for those who read the story, to get near to the explanation of some of those psychical truths which need not necessarily be supernatural, but only supernormal. It seems to me the wildest of folly to say that because a thing is not capable of being explained by the laws of Nature as we know them, that it is above the laws of Nature. Every week is a witness to the fact that the laws of Nature are only imperfectly known by us, and therefore, to say that anything is outside Nature is, to put it plainly, simply nonsense.
For Nature does not exist, nor is there any possibility that it has ever existed, without a Controlling Power which created it.
At the very end of his famous and wonderful life, Lord Kelvin himself stated it as his unalterable opinion, after all the investigations he had made into the primary causes of phenomena as we know them, that the only possible explanation was that a Controlling Intelligence animated and produced them all.
I was reading a few days ago one of a series of weekly articles which an eminent modern scientist, Sir Ray Lankester, is writing in a famous newspaper. He was speaking of Darwin and "The Origin of Species," and he seemed to imagine that the great discovery of Darwin finally disposed of the truth of the first chapter of Genesis, as we have it in the pages of the Holy Bible. Surely nothing was ever more limited than such a view as this! God manifests Himself in His own way, at His own time, and in a fashion which is modified and adjusted to the intelligences and opportunities of those who live at the time of this or that Revelation in the progressive scheme of Revelation itself. To say that because modern science has proved that God did not, as a human potter or modeller of clay would do, make the whole of living things in full being, and at a definite time, that therefore the Bible is untrue, is simply the blindness of those who do not realize that Truth must often wear a robe to hide its glory from the eyes of those who are unable to appreciate its full splendour and magnificence.
If we are descended or evolved from primeval protoplasm, as I for one am quite prepared to believe, one simply goes back to the simple question—"Who made the protoplasm?"
It is no use. We cannot get away, try as we will, from the fact of God, and we cannot also get away from the fact of the Incarnation, when God revealed Himself more fully than ever before, and when God Himself became Man.
My idea in this story is to show that, by means of processes of which we have at present but little idea, a man may be drained and emptied, under special circumstances, of himself and the influences of his past life, and be made as a vessel for the special in-pouring of the Holy Spirit.
The death of Lluellyn Lys for Joseph, the mysterious interplay of a soul going, and meeting on its way, another soul about to go into the Unknown, aided by the special dispensation of God, might, I think, well produce some such supernormal being as the Joseph of this tale. Perhaps an angel, one of those mysterious beings—whom Christians believe to be the forces and the messengers of God—may have animated Joseph in his mission, without entirely destroying or obscuring his personality. Be this as it may, I offer this story as an effort to attract my readers' minds towards a consideration of the Unseen which is all around us, and which—more probably than not—is the real world, after all, and one in which we, as we are now, walk as phantoms and simulacrums of what we shall one day be in the glorious hereafter.
AND GOD SPAKE——
Two men stood outside a bird-fancier's shop in the East End of London. The shop was not far from the docks, and had a great traffic with sailors. Tiny emerald and gamboge love-birds squawked in their cages, there was a glass box of lizards with eyes like live rubies set in the shop window, while a hideous little ape—chained to a hook—clattered in an impish frenzy.
Outside the shop door hung a cage containing a huge parrot, and it was this at which the two men were looking.
Hampson, a little wrinkled man in very shabby clothes, but of a brave and confident aspect, pointed to the parrot.
"I wonder if it talks?" he said.
Immediately upon his words