[[Tes de gar ek triados pan pneuma pater ekerase.]] -- TAY.: Lyd. de Mens., 20.
"The more powerful souls perceive truth through themselves, and are of a more
inventive nature. Such souls are saved through their own strength, according to the
oracle." -- PROCLUS in I Alc.
"Since the soul perpetually runs and passes through all things in a certain space of time,
which being performed, it is presently compelled to run back again through all things,
and unfold the same web of generation in the world . . . for as often as the same causes
return, the same effects will in like manner be returned." -- FICIN. de Im. An., 129,
"If not to some peculiar end assign'd,
Study's the specious trifling of the mind." -- YOUNG.
FROM the moment when the foetal embryo is formed until the old man, gasping his last, drops into the grave, neither the beginning nor the end is understood by scholastic science; all before us is a blank, all after us chaos. For it there is no evidence as to the relations between spirit, soul, and body, either before or after death. The mere life-principle itself presents an unsolvable enigma, upon the study of which materialism has vainly exhausted its intellectual powers. In the presence of a corpse the skeptical physiologist stands dumb when asked by his pupil whence came the former tenant of that empty box, and whither it has gone. The pupil must either, like his master, rest satisfied with the explanation that protoplasm made the man, and force vitalized and will now consume his body, or he must go outside the walls of his college and the books of its library to find an explanation of the mystery.
It is sometimes as interesting as instructive to follow the two great rivals, science and theology, in their frequent skirmishes. Not all of the sons of the Church are as unsuccessful in their attempts at advocacy as the poor Abbe Moigno, of Paris. This respectable, and no doubt well-meaning divine, in his fruitless attempt to refute the free-thinking arguments of Huxley, Tyndall, Du Bois-Raymond, and many others, has met with a sad failure. In his antidotal arguments his success was more than doubtful, and, as a reward for his trouble, the "Congregation of the Index" forbids the circulation of his book among the faithful.
It is a dangerous experiment to engage in a single-handed duel with scientists on topics which are well demonstrated by experimental research. In what they do know they are unassailable, and until the old formula is destroyed by their own hands and replaced by a more newly-discovered one, there is no use fighting against Achilles -- unless, indeed, one is for-
tunate enough to catch the swift-footed god by his vulnerable heel. This heel is -- what they confess they do not know!
That was a cunning device to which a certain well-known preacher resorted to reach this mortal part. Before we proceed to narrate the extraordinary though well authenticated facts with which we intend to fill this chapter, it will be good policy to show once more how fallible is modern science as to every fact in nature which can be tested neither by retort nor crucible. The following are a few fragments from a series of sermons by F. Felix, of Notre Dame, entitled Mystery and Science. They are worthy to be translated for and quoted in a work which is undertaken in precisely the same spirit as that exhibited by the preacher. For once the Church silenced for a time the arrogance of her traditional enemy, in the face of the learned academicians.
It was known that the great preacher, in response to the general desire of the faithful, and perhaps to the orders of ecclesiastical superiors, had been preparing himself for a great oratorical effort, and the historic cathedral was filled with a monster congregation. Amid a profound silence he began his discourse, of which the following paragraphs are sufficient for our purpose: