“Thou can’st not call that madness of which thou art proved to know nothing.” — TERTULLIAN: Apology.
“This is not a matter of to-day,Or yesterday, but hath been from all times;And none hath told us whence it came or how!” — SOPHOCLES.
“Belief in the supernatural is a fact natural, primitive, universal, and constant in the life and history of the human race. Unbelief in the supernatural begets materialism; materialism, sensuality; sensuality, social convulsions, amid whose storms man again learns to believe and pray.” — GUIEOT.
“If any one think these things incredible, let him keep his opinions to himself, and not contradict those who, by such events, are incited to the study of virtue.” — JOSEPHUS. FROM the Platonic and Pythagorean views of matter and force, we will now turn to the kabalistic philosophy of the origin of man, and compare it with the theory of natural selection enunciated by Darwin and Wallace. It may be that we shall find as much reason to credit the ancients with originality in this direction as in that which we have been considering. To our mind, no stronger proof of the theory of cyclical progression need be required than the comparative enlightenment of former ages and that of the Patristic Church, as regards the form of the earth, and the movements of the planetary system. Even were other evidence wanting, the ignorance of Augustine and Lactantius, misleading the whole of Christendom upon these questions until the period of Galileo, would mark the eclipses through which human knowledge passes from age to age.
The “coats of skin,” mentioned in the third chapter of Genesis as given to Adam and Eve, are explained by certain ancient philosophers to mean the fleshy bodies with which, in the progress of the cycles, the progenitors of the race became clothed. They maintained that the god-like physical form became grosser and grosser, until the bottom of what may be termed the last spiritual cycle was reached, and mankind entered upon the ascending arc of the first human cycle. Then began an uninterrupted series of cycles or yugas; the precise number of years of which each of them consisted remaining an inviolable mystery within the precincts of the sanctuaries and disclosed only to the initiates. As soon as humanity entered upon a new one, the stone age, with which the preceding cycle had closed, began to gradually merge into the following and next higher age. With each successive age, or epoch, men grew more refined, until
the acme of perfection possible in that particular cycle had been reached. Then the receding wave of time carried back with it the vestiges of human, social, and intellectual progress. Cycle succeeded cycle, by imperceptible transitions; highly-civilized flourishing nations, waxed in power, attained the climax of development, waned, and became extinct; and mankind, when the end of the lower cyclic arc was reached, was replunged into barbarism as at the start. Kingdoms have crumbled and nation succeeded nation from the beginning until our day, the races alternately mounting to the highest and descending to the lowest points of development. Draper observes that there is no reason to suppose that any one cycle applied to the whole human race. On the contrary, while man in one portion of the planet was in a condition of retrogression, in another he might be progressing in enlightenment and civilization.
How analogous this theory is to the law of planetary motion, which causes the individual orbs to rotate on their axes; the several systems to move around their respective suns; and the whole stellar host to follow a common path around a common centre! Life and death, light and darkness, day and night on the planet, as it turns about its axis and traverses the zodiacal circle representing the lesser and the greater cycles. Remember the Hermetic axiom: — “As above, so below; as in heaven, so on earth.
” Mr. Alfred R. Wallace argues with sound logic, that the development of man has been more marked in his mental organization than in his external form. Man, he conceives to differ from the animal, by being able to undergo great changes of conditions and of his entire environment, without very marked alterations in bodily form and structure. The changes of climate he meets with a corresponding alteration in his clothing, shelter, weapons, and implements of husbandry. His body may become less hairy, more erect, and of a different color and proportions; “the head and face is immediately connected with the organ of the mind, and as being the medium, expressing the most refined motions of his nature,” alone change with the development of his intellect. There was a time when “he had not yet acquired that wonderfully-developed brain, the organ of the mind, which now, even in his lowest examples, raises him far above the highest brutes, at a period when he had the form, but hardly the nature of man, when he neither possessed human speech nor sympathetic and moral feelings.” Further, Mr. Wallace says that “Man may have been — indeed, I believe must have been, once a homo-