Ancient and Modern Prophecy
( Originally Published 1904 )
NO one will dispute the proposition that the trend of modern science is in the direction of demonstrating that whatever happens in this world is brought about in accordance with natural law.
In other words, it is the province of science to remove every event from the realm of the supernatural, and to demonstrate that God created and rules this universe by and through the operation of immutable laws, which were implanted in matter and spirit from the beginning.
It is a self-evident proposition that science does far more reverence to God in thus ascribing to Him such a power and such an intelligence, than does superstition in believing Him to labor under the necessity of supplementing His work by special creations and miraculous interventions.
That the triumphs of science in this direction have been many and important, no one will deny. That it has been opposed at every step in its progress by theological dogmatism is current history. The reason is obvious. When science first declared its independence, it was denounced as atheistic, and it was persecuted accordingly. So great was the antagonism at first that it was tacitly understood for a long time that science was opposed to religion ; and it was many years before any one seriously thought that there could be any harmonious relations between them.
Gradually, however, it has dawned upon the contesting parties that the conflict is not between science and religion, but between science and theological dogmatism. With this understanding, the relation of science to the Church has, within a few years, undergone a decided change.
The great body of the intelligent members of the Church no longer hold themselves in antagonism to the essential claims of science ; and science no longer disputes the essential tenets of the Christian religion. One by one the points have been yielded, until there are but few essential features of difference in dispute.
The miracles were the last to yield. For many years they have been the stumbling-block ; and they would doubtless have continued to stand in the way of a full acceptance of the essential truths of Christianity had not science itself been able to demonstrate the fact that the phenomena which were supposed to have been produced by miraculous power are clearly within the domain of natural law.
And now for the first time in the history of the Church it has dawned upon the world that Jesus never claimed that he could perform a miracle. That is to say, he never claimed that he transcended natural law in performing his wonderful works. On the contrary, he gave us to know, by word and deed, that he al-ways acted strictly within the law. In point of fact, history and science unite in showing that Jesus was the first discoverer of the great law under which he wrought his wonders, and which has but recently been rediscovered.
Science and the Church are, therefore, now in practical accord on this great question.
But there is another stumbling-block which the Church has not been disposed to yield, and which science has thus far refused to accept and failed to explain. I refer to prophecy in general and Messianic prophecies in particular.
I scarcely need to say to you that prophecy, as the term is generally understood, cannot be admitted among the verities. It is generally understood and defined as a prediction made under the immediate influence and inspiration of God. As this implies a miraculous intervention of divine power, science, of course, cannot recognize or deal with it in the absence of such proofs as are required under the strict rules of induction.
Nevertheless the belief that there exists, somewhere, the power to make inerrant predictions is astonishingly prevalent, even among those who regard themselves as altogether too scientific to believe in special interpositions of Divine Providence in the affairs of mankind.
In strict justice to everybody it must be admitted that there are thousands of things happening every day, and have been happening for thousands of years, that have never yet been accounted for ; and many of them seem to point unmistakably to the conclusion that the faculty of inerrant prophecy exists. Ultra scientists, as usual, content themselves with a wholesale denial of the facts. Others believe the facts and account for them on the theory of immediate divine inspiration. Which of these two classes is the less scientific it is difficult to say.
Another class believes the facts and denies the inspiration, but proceeds to account for them on grounds less tenable, if possible, than either of the others. A large number of this class hold that, in saint unaccountable way, spirits of the dead come into possession of a knowledge of all things, past, present, and future especially of the future. Others, who are inclined to be extremely scientific, without reference to facts upon which to base their propositions, tell us that Time is merely a mode of finite thought; that it really has no existence in point of fact; that past, present, and future events are somehow mixed and jumbled up in one eternal Now ; and that all that is necessary to constitute a true prophet is the ability to tell which is which. .The same brand of philosophers also tell us that there is no such thing as space; and the ablest of them that is those possessing the greatest ability to pervert the plain facts of nature — insist that there is no such thing as matter. In other and plainer words, they hold that this beautiful world, with all its rich varieties of land and sea, hills and dales, mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, trees, birds, and flowers, together with the grand and glorious universe around us, constitute one stupendous, cosmic lie. With them the heavens do not declare the glory of God, nor does the firmament show forth His handiwork. On the contrary, their philosophy teaches us that the heavens are grand illusions, instituted on a cosmic scale, for no conceivable object whatever save to delude and destroy men who do not exist. The people who believe these things also believe themselves to be " scientists."
Now no one needs to be told that true science deals largely with just those things — matter, space, and time. As to time, and the human events occurring in it, we can take cognizance of but three grand divisions, namely, past, present, and future. Of the past we can be reason-ably certain through memory. Of the present we know through consciousness. But of the future, no absolute knowledge can be claimed, save of those events in the physical universe which are governed by mathematical law. Not can the possibility be admitted that absolute knowledge of future human events is within the range of the powers of the human intellect. Please to remember that I use the word " absolute " in its strictest sense, as unrelated, unconditioned.
Nevertheless there are numerous and well-authenticated instances of prophecy or prevision in modern times which it is the duty of science, or of scientists, to account for, instead of taking refuge behind an assumed skepticism.
But as no one has ever attempted an explanation in harmony with known laws of nature, I shall beg your indulgence while I make an attempt to do so.
Leaving the Messianic prophecies out of consideration for the moment, I remark that there are two classes of previsions to deal with. The first embraces those cases where a specific event is predicted for the near future; but in relation to which there is a pre-existent fact which, if known to the one who made the prediction, would take the case out of the category of previsions. Thus, if I predict that John Smith is going to New York tomorrow, when in fact he has no present intention to go there inside of a month ; and if he should receive, later, a telegram from that city announcing the dangerous illness of a member of his family and requiring his immediate attendance, he would doubtless regard it as a wonderful case of genuine prevision. But if it should transpire that I had previous knowledge that such a telegram had been sent, he would regard it as a very commonplace case of fraud or false pretence.
But suppose he was in consultation with a psychic, — a spirit medium so called, and consequently a mind reader. Then suppose that said medium possessed no knowledge whatever, obtainable through sensory channels, of the sickness or of the telegram. It is, nevertheless, within easy range of possibility for the medium to obtain the knowledge of the facts by means of telepathy. That is to say, the sitter is in constant telepathic rapport with his own family. But telepathy is exclusively a faculty of the subjective mind. Consequently, not being a psychic, the sitter receives the information unconsciously to his objective senses. The medium, however, being a psychic, reads the contents of the sitter's subjective mind ; and thus obtains the data for the prediction. In the meantime, if the medium courts prophetic honors, she simply prophesies that the sitter will go to New York on the following day.
Here I must pause to invite your attention to a very curious and interesting phase of this class of phenomena. They are exceedingly flexible and are adapted to various uses. They can be fitted to all forms of belief, and they can be made to suit all customers.
I have said that if the medium poses as a prophet she simply predicts that her sitter will go to New York on the day following. That is prophecy, mediumistic prophecy.
If she poses as a spirit medium, she tells her sitter that the spirits say that his wife is very sick and wants him to come home immediately. That is spiritism.
If she chooses to claim to be divinely inspired, she tells her sitter that the Lord has spoken to her, saying : " Tell the young man to arise quickly and go hence; for his wife, who sojourneth in Gotham, yea, even the greater Gotham, is sick unto death." That is inspiration.
If the medium poses as a clairvoyant, she tells the sitter that she sees a letter or a telegram on the way from New York containing news that his wife is sick. That is clairvoyance.
If she seeks fame as a clairaudient, she tells her sitter that she hears the voice of his wife calling him to come to her, for she is sick. That is clairaudience.
If she poses as an astrologist, she casts the sitter's horoscope, and declares that the stars indicate the serious illness of a member of his family on the current date, and a consequent hasty journey on his part. That is astrology.
If she is a gypsy fortune-teller, she looks in the sitter's hand, or shuffles a pack of greasy cards, and tells him that he is about to take a long journey on very important business ; and if he will give her another dollar, she will tell him all about it. That is fortune-telling.
But if the psychic seeks telepathic honors, she just simply tells the truth, and informs her sitter that she reads in his subjective mind a message from his wife, announcing her illness and desiring his immediate re-turn home. That is telepathy. And that is the truth ; for that is the simple explanation of the phenomenon. In each of the cases mentioned, the explanation is the same. The classification, therefore, either as a prophecy, a spirit communication, a telepathic message, or what not, depends entirely upon what the particular psychic. happens to think or say about it. And that obviously depends upon the suggestions embraced in her education. If she believes it to be a telepathic message she declares it to be that and nothing more. If she poses as a prophetess, she makes a prediction based upon the information received telepathically.
But it is not prophecy in any true sense of the word ; for it is based upon a fact, known to the psychic, which must inevitably lead to the event predicted. But it is a typical case of modern prophecy. And I undertake to say that ninety-nine one-hundredths of all the marvellous cases of correct predictions many of which are well authenticated - can be traced to telepathy as the source of positive information regarding the subject matter of the supposed prophecy. And thus it happens that in these days of spirit mediums, fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, magicians, and mahatmas, the supply of prophecy is more nearly equal to the demand than ever before. But it keeps them all busy ministering to the insatiable cravings of those strenuous souls who are either longing for husbands or yearning to get rid of them.
There is another class of cases which are a trifle more obscure, and which have been held up as inexplicable under the telepathic theory.
I will trouble you with one, because a certain great and famous London editor, whom you all know by reputation, has given it to me as a case which telepathy cannot account for. He had criticised my first published work — The Law of Psychic Phenomena — because I omitted to explain prophecy under the terms of my hypothesis. It is true that I omitted it, but I did so for the simple reason that I had not at the time any cases sufficiently well authenticated to warrant me in treating the subject from a scientific standpoint.
The case related is briefly this : The editor, in company with a lady, visited a psychic — a so-called spirit medium. In the course of the seance, the psychic prophesied that the lady would visit America within a few months. The lady protested that such an event was impossible within the time given. Nevertheless she did visit America within the time. She was suddenly and unexpectedly called to visit the bedside of a very sick mother.
What is the explanation? The great editor could find none outside of spirit intercourse, or a divine power of knowing the future.
The telepathic explanation is, in his mind, clearly out of the question. To my mind the phenomenon is clearly and easily explicable under the telepathic hypothesis. Let us see.
If there is anything about telepathy that is more clearly established than anything else, it is that near relatives, especially parents and children, are constantly in telepathic rapport with each other, especially when one or the other is sick or threatened with illness or other disaster. It is equally well established that the subjective mind of each individual has a perfect knowledge of the conditions of the body which it inhabits. This being true, it follows that when the seeds of disease are in the system, the subjective mind is aware of the fact, and it can easily foresee the time of probable culmination in serious illness. This information is naturally conveyed to those who are interested, and it thus becomes a part of their subjective mental equipment. If they do not happen to be psychics themselves, that knowledge is unconsciously possessed ; and is only revealed to their normal consciousness when they come in contact with a psychic. Then, as I have before remarked, if the psychic is ambitious of prophetic honors, she prophesies whatever event is sure to follow, without divulging the fact that leads her to that conclusion.
These predictions, however, can in no wise be designated as prophecies, — scarcely as previsions. They are simply predictions based upon knowledge of proximate and entirely adequate causes.
No matter how that knowledge is obtained, whether by a previous inspection of family records and tomb-stones, or by means of telepathy, the mystery is dispelled the moment it is known that the alleged prophet is in possession of that knowledge.
It is obvious that in the cases thus far mentioned it does not require even good judgment to make an absolutely correct prediction. - It requires only the simple power of mind-reading to ascertain the governing fact. Thus far no other power of the subjective mind is brought into requisition.
I now approach another class of previsions that rest upon a far different foundation. I will premise by saying that there is nothing miraculous about prophecy. It simply calls into exercise certain inherent faculties of the human soul. It transcends no law. On the contrary, like every other power on this earth, or in the heavens above, or in the waters under the earth, it operates strictly within the limits of natural law. It neither annihilates nor transcends any of the three eternal verities, — matter, space, or time. Nothing can transcend these. Every phenomenon that is -tangible to the senses is manifested through matter. All things exist in space. Time is simply the fact of continuous or successive existence. Its three grand divisions are, the past, the present, and the future; and these furnish the sphere of all activities and events, finite or infinite. No one of the three can take the place of either of the others or be confounded with it.
It is a maxim of logic that whatever is self-evident requires no proof. That the existence of matter is self-evident, no one but a metaphysician will pretend to deny. Moreover, science tells us that matter is in-destructible. It can be changed in form but not destroyed.
Space is another self-evident fact; and the normal mind cannot so much as conceive the possibility that there exists any power that can annihilate it ; or that anything can exist except in space.
Time is another of the self-evident, eternal verities. It requires no proofs to demonstrate its objective reality. But if proofs were necessary, the Creator Himself has supplied them; for the starry heavens constitute one stupendous, cosmic horologe, which marks the grand succession of events, human and divine.
As I have before remarked, the past, present, and future are not interchangeable. It follows that nothing can be positively known except the past and the present. It would require a miracle to give one absolute, unconditioned knowledge of future events; for there is and can be no law of the mind that would enable one to cognize that which does not exist.
It involves an absolute contradiction as gross and palpable as it would be to suppose that God could make a three-year-old horse in a minute.
Nevertheless man has a means of knowing the future. Thus in the physical sciences, when we once know the law governing a subject matter of inquiry, we can predict the future with unerring certainty. For instance, when the laws governing planetary motion were discovered, astronomers were enabled to foretell the eclipses and other stellar events with mathematical exactitude. But this is not prophecy in the sense in which we are considering the term. We are considering human events, and they are not governed by mathematical laws. If they were, man would not be a free moral agent. Being a free moral agent he is at liberty to choose the wrong instead of the right. He has it in his power either to violate every law of nature or to place himself in harmony therewith, just as he sees fit.
Nevertheless he is governed by law. He is governed by the laws of his physical being, the laws of mind and soul, and by the laws of progressive development of the mental, moral, and spiritual nature of mankind. More-over, whatever the segregated individual may do as an independent entity, mankind considered en masse and by great epochs or dispensations, is governed by natural laws that operate with absolute certainty of ultimate results. It will readily be seen, therefore, that previsions may be predicated upon such laws with a great degree of moral certainty of ultimate fulfilment.
Now the great question is, what faculties of the mind are brought into requisition in making an inerrant prophecy? I will answer that question by first defining prophecy as I understand it.
A prophecy is nothing more or less than a statement of the conclusions derived from reasoning from cause to effect. In other words, an inerrant prophecy is a logical conclusion derived from a correct premise. That premise may consist of a known fact or a known law, or of the two combined. But there must be one or the other. The prophetic mind must have data from which to deduce conclusions as to future events, precisely as ordinary, every-day mortals search for ordinary, everyday truth.
It follows that the prophetic potential resides, to a limited extent, in the objective, reasoning mind. I have already remarked that in the domain of the physical sciences, inerrant predictions as to future events are common. It is also true that the highly cultivated objective mind is equal to a very high order of previsions regarding human events.
A striking instance of this occurred some years before the War of the Rebellion. Many will remember the cry of incredulity and indignation which went up from all over the land when William H. Seward declared that there is a " higher law than the Constitution "; that an " irrepressible conflict " was then going on between " opposing and enduring forces " — freedom and slavery — and that a crisis was already impending which would decide the question forever.
This fulmination comprised the conclusions derived from a long and earnest inductive study of the situation. It was derided at the time as a wild, fanatical dream. But when, two short years later, the first gun was fired on Sumter, Seward was hailed as a prophet.
It will also be remembered that when that event occurred, Mr. Seward predicted that the war would be over in ninety days. Some of Mr. Seward's admirers, referring to the first prediction, went so far as to declare him to be an inspired prophet. But the two predictions simply exhibit the marked contrast between his sagacity as a politician, and his weakness as a military man. He was a statesman, but not a soldier.
It will thus be seen that a very high degree of prophetic power resides in the objective mind ; and that the only faculties called into requisition are those of pure reason, based on an intelligent observation of facts.
Inerrant prophecy, therefore, in the sense in which we have been considering it, is nothing more or less than the result of good judgment. By good judgment, I mean the power to deduce correct conclusions from given premises.
It now remains to consider prophecy in its higher aspects ; that is, prophecies which call into exercise the faculties of the subjective mind.
In these the same steps are necessary, namely, first acquiring the data, and second, exercising the faculty of deduction. As this faculty is potentially perfect in the subjective mind, it is obvious that marvellous results are possible. And when it is remembered that the faculty of intuitive perception also belongs to the subjective mind, it becomes evident that the prophetic power of the soul is practically unlimited. It is in fact limited only by the laws under which it performs its functions.
It must not, however, be supposed that the sources from whence the subjective mind may acquire its data are limited to the intuitional faculty. The province of intuition is that of general laws or first principles. But the data from which the subjective mind draws its prophetic conclusions are not limited to these. It may also acquire particular facts, or even general laws, from the researches of the objective mind; and, as its memory is absolute, it possesses in that alone a vast storehouse of available data from which to draw prophetic deductions.
It is frequently impossible in particular cases of modern prophecy to know just what is the quality and character of the data relied upon. Sometimes, however, we can afterwards see the process clearly defined. Thus, in 1803, a celebrated Quaker preacher, named Joseph Hoag, who was also a psychic, published a prophecy in which he predicted a schism in the various churches of the United States, including his own.
He also prophesied the agitation of the slavery question, its entrance into politics, the consequent civil war, resulting in the abolition of slavery. The Quakers believe him to have been directly inspired by God Him-self. They can see no other way to account for it.
It is clear that the unaided reasoning powers of man-kind were, at that date, unequal to such a prevision. At least no one in his normal condition made this pre-diction. But this obscure preacher, while in a trance or a tranceoid condition, was enabled to make a pre-diction, the literal fulfilment of which to-day fills the minds of his people with reverential awe.
What fact he may have been cognizant of that enabled him to predict a schism in his own church, I know not. But it is now clear that one event which was then sure to happen in the near future, was amply sufficient to release the forces which inevitably brought about the fulfilment of his prophecy. That event was the abolition of the slave trade, the Constitutional limitation of which was to expire in 1808. Slavery was already practically confined to the South. It was unprofitable in the North, and hence its gradual abolition there had been provided for. This was current history. The psychic also knew the stern, uncompromising devotion of the New England character to the cause of human liberty, its hatred of oppression, its pious regard for the natural rights of man; and he foresaw that these qualities would shine forth with renewed lustre and become an aggressive force in the New England political character just as soon as a cargo of New England rum could no longer be profitably bartered for a cargo of African slaves. It was also natural that when the controversy was once begun, the churches would be the first to divide; that intense sectionalism was sure to follow, with all its train of prejudices, hatred, contumely, hysteria, and violence, culminating in the total destruction of the cause of the controversy, and placing the United States *here she properly belongs — in the van of human progress. It will thus be seen that whilst the prophecy of this obscure psychic preacher antedated that of Mr. Seward by more than half a century, and was infinitely more specific as to detail, it was equally exact, and its fulfilment involved the greatest tragedy of modern history. It is, however, but a feeble illustration of the vast difference in the deductive powers of the two minds. That difference can be appreciated only when we come to consider the Messianic prophecies.
But it may be here remarked, the fact that the subjective mind has intuition from which to draw its arguments, and that this faculty is potentially perfect, easily accounts for' the marvellously correct deductions which in all human history, sacred and profane, have been recorded under the name of prophecy. It is prophecy, in the highest and the noblest sense of the term; for it is the foreseeing and foretelling of future events under and by virtue of the immutable laws of God.
Now let it not be forgotten that the special province of intuition is the laws which govern the being and destiny of the human soul. In animals and primitive than it is known as the instinct of self-preservation, — pertaining solely to the safety and development of the body and the perpetuation of the species. As objective reason developed, it took the place of the purely animal instinct to a great extent, in matters of this world, and the latter developed into the higher form of intuition. Being a faculty of the soul its higher manifestations pertain to the soul. It is not exempt from the law. of suggestion ; but in the absence of suggestion it performs its highest functions untrammelled. Hence it was that before the days of philosophic doubts and scientific skepticism, intuition laid the foundation for the grand superstructure of modern civilization.
Misinterpreted though it has been, even by its most devout adherents, the fact still remains that the Bible contains the natural history of the human soul. Misunderstood as have been the phenomena therein re-corded, even by those who experienced them, it still remains that they constituted the necessary steps in the evolution of the religion absolute.
The first great step in that direction was taken when the monotheistic idea was evolved from the inner consciousness of the earliest Jewish prophet. That the idea of one living God was an intuitive perception is evidenced by the fact that the suggestion could not have emanated from any of the polytheistic, idolatrous peoples with whom the Jews were in contact. It was an original conception, and, crude though it was in its inception, it was the immortal germ of a great truth.
It was inevitable that the idea should be limited and perverted by the suggestions embraced in the religions of the surrounding nations. Each had its own gods, and there were enough of them, such as they were. It was natural, therefore, that the one God of Israel should be their God exclusively, — a tribal God. It required many years of progressive development to expand the original monotheistic conception so far as to embrace all humanity. Isaiah, I believe, was the first to proclaim the broad intuition. I say " intuition," for it could have been nothing less, since it was a vast expansion — a generalization of the limited, traditional conception of the God of Israel. It remained, however, for the inerrant intuitions of Jesus to dispel the anthropomorphic conceptions of the earlier prophets and to give to the world its first conception of the living and true God of love, mercy, and benevolence, the loving Father of all humanity. Moreover, what is of still more pro-found significance, Jesus was the first to proclaim in specific and unmistakable language, the two cognate, concomitant facts that we are the sons of God, and that the kingdom of Heaven is within us. But it must not be forgotten that the intuitions of one of the earliest prophets shadowed forth the same fact in the broad declaration that God created man in His own image.
This declaration has been scoffed at during all the ages of so-called " scientific " skepticism, solely because of the anthropomorphic conceptions of its meaning by the critics who deride it.
It is, nevertheless, when considered in its true light as referring to the faculties of the soul instead of the shape of the body, the most remarkable instance re-corded in history of a genuine intuitive perception of a great and fundamental truth. According to Bible chronology, it took nearly two thousand years of progressive development of the prophetic faculty to produce a man capable of putting that intuition into words comprehensible to the objective mind. It has taken two thousand years more for the objective mind to verify that intuition by the processes of induction. And it is verified and scientifically demonstrated by a simple analysis of the faculties of the subjective mind, — the mind of the soul.
It will be asked, in this connection, why may not the Mosaic account of Creation be accepted as scientifically correct, since the same writer was responsible for both the history and the intuition. The obvious answer is this: Because the province of intuition in man is that of great general principles and laws of the moral and spiritual universe, and not of the specific facts and events of physical science. If men would learn to make this broad and obvious distinction they would find no difficulty in recognizing the great and fundamental truths of spiritual philosophy with which the Bible is overflowing.
No better illustration of this distinction and the necessity of observing it can be conceived than the very instance we are considering.
For here we find, in one chapter, — the first in the Bible, - an account of the creation of the physical world that no one presumes to defend as scientifically possible; and in the same chapter we find a scientifically accurate statement of the most stupendous and fundamental truth of all that concerns the relations existent between God and man. Moreover, it is demonstrative that it was the intuition of man, and not a direct and miraculous inspiration from God ; for if it had been the latter there could have been no such admixture of fundamental spiritual truth and palpable physical error.
The great lesson that it teaches is that God rules the spiritual and the physical world alike by and through the operation of natural law and that His method of inspiration is by implanting in the primordial germ the seeds of the divine power of intuitive perception of fundamental and essential truth.
In like manner, the Messianic prophecies originated in an intuitive apprehension of certain principles of natural law. With these principles for a major premise, the logical deductions were crystallized into a prophecy of a coming leader whose voice the world would hear and obey.
The first prophecy pointing unmistakably in that direction was that of Moses. I shall be obliged to confine my remarks largely to his prophecies for three reasons : first, for want of time; secondly, because his was the most clear, concise, and direct to the point; and thirdly, because his was the principal one bearing the unmistakable stamp of absolute originality. Most of the others, being later productions, are obviously open to the inference that they may have been inspired by that of the great Iaw-giver.
In order to understand the prophecy of Moses fully, it is necessary to recall briefly the circumstances under which it was made. It will also throw much light upon the prophecies of his successors.
Moses was not only a prophet, but a man of affairs. If the blood of kings did not flow in his veins, he was at least born to command.
Educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, he still clung to the religion of the Israelites. His mind was filled with their traditions, and he worshipped the God of his fathers. He was the chosen leader of his people, and he had delivered them from the house of bondage. He had shown them many signs and wonders, and the covenant had been renewed amid the smoke and the thunders of Sinai. Their forty years' sojourn in the wilderness was drawing to a close, and they were about to cross the Jordan. He had conducted them to the threshold of the promised land, but was himself prohibited from entering. His days were numbered. He was preparing to ascend Mount Pisgah to view from afar the future home of his people and there to close his long and eventful career. Preparatory to this he summoned all Israel before him upon the plains of Moab, to hear his final words of counsel and to receive his last blessing. Then followed one of the most remarkable discourses that ever fell from mortal tongue. He began by reviewing the principal events of their long and wearying journey through the wilderness. He re-counted their trials and their triumphs.
He recited many of the rules of civil polity that had been enacted in the past. He reminded them of the covenant and of the duties required of them by its terms and conditions.
He rehearsed their rebellions and denounced them for their disobedience. He pronounced the direst curses upon the wicked and rebellious, but reminded them of God's mercy to the penitent. He gave them particular directions for the selection of a temporal leader, -- the election of a king, — describing his necessary qualifications in terms that should convey a much-needed lesson to the people of that country. He then launched forth into a dissertation on the subject of their moral and religious duties. He set forth the status and duties of the priesthood ; and warned the Israelites against the immoral practices of the people into whose country they were about to enter. He laid particular stress upon the necessity for avoiding the practices of the necromancers, the charmers, the witches, the consulters of spirits, and all other producers of spiritistic phenomena.
Having done this, he proceeded to utter a prophecy that has done more than any other one thing to shape the destiny, mould the character, inspire the hope, and perpetuate the homogeneity of the Jewish race.
Nor is its influence confined to that people ; for it constitutes one of the bulwarks of Christian faith in the Divinity of Jesus.
The words are these :
" The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me ; unto him ye shall hearken."
He believed himself to be reiterating the very words of God, for he declared that the Lord God said unto him:
" I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.
"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him."
Here, then, is the prophecy. It is the only one in the Old Testament that specifically asserts the prophetic character of the coming Messiah. Was it a special divine inspiration or a deduction from a known law ? We are logically bound to accept the latter view if it is found to be within the range of the known powers of the human mind.
To determine this question, we must first refer to the words of the prophecy : " A prophet like unto thee." Not a temporal leader like Moses. Not a statesman like Moses. But a prophet like Moses. That is to say, he was to be endowed with the same intuitional, prophetic powers that Moses possessed, differing only in degree and not in kind; emanating from the same source, and therefore not from a supernatural source.
The crucial question is, What data did Moses possess from which to deduce a conclusion so momentous as that involved in the coming of a Messiah? For the fact that Jesus did come, that he was a prophet like unto Moses, — that is, that he possessed the same intuitive powers, , though multiplied a thousandfold, — together with the historical fact that, because of that and subsequent prophecies, the children of Israel had for more than a thousand years anticipated his coming, invests the question with a scientific interest that cannot be ignored without relegating the whole subject to the domain either of fable or of the supernatural.
It seems to me that the question is easily answered. Moses was a prophet. That is to say, he possessed the power, in an extraordinary state of development, to draw upon the resources of his subjective mind.
He was a man of education, and of vast experience. He had been accustomed all his life to entering the subjective state, and in that state to entering into communion with an intelligence which he believed to be none other than that of God Himself. In that state, through the perfect memory of the subjective mind, he had at his command all the resources of his learning and experience, In that state, his intuitional powers were constantly active and in evidence. In short, he was a man of genius ; for his reasoning faculties were never subjugated to the domination of the subjective intelligence. They acted in practically perfect synchronism. This is what, in those days, constituted a true prophet, as distinguished from those whose reason was dominated and submerged, and who were known by the name of necromancers, and consulters of familiar spirits, otherwise spirit mediums. Under the Mosaic law the latter were punished by death.
These were the powers that enabled Moses to cope successfully with his environment during the forty years of his leadership. He was, of course, aware of those powers, whatever may have been his belief in regard to the immediate cause of their manifestation.
Moreover, he was intuitively aware of the great law of progressive evolutionary development. He was aware from his own experience that those powers were susceptible of cultivation; and he knew the tendency of the Jewish mind in that direction.
What data could be required more ample for the purposes of his prophecy? What visions the dying seer may have had of the perfection of the powers of the coming Prophet, man may not know. But certain it is that the Prophet did come, that his utterances were divine, and that his voice is heard around the world.
Of the later prophecies little can be said ; for it is no part of my purpose, in this connection, to make an exhaustive analysis of the Messianic prophecies. Many of them were doubtless inspired by the example of Moses. Some of them were mere enlargements of the original, and others entered into more specific details as to the character and special powers of the coming Messiah. But they seem to have been founded upon facts that occurred subsequent to the days of Moses. Thus, some of the prophets succeeding Moses developed the power to heal the sick ; and this may have moved Isaiah to prophesy that, when the Messiah should come, the blind should be made to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to sing, and the lame to leap as a hart,— a prophecy that was literally fulfilled.
I cannot refrain from mentioning in this connection one of the most remarkable of all the prophecies in the Old Testament. It was that of Jeremiah (xxxi. `3i ). I have never seen it classed as a Messianic prophecy. Doubtless it is not so classified for the reason that it does not foretell a coming personality. It does, however, clearly foreshadow the Christian dispensation. But even that is but the beginning of the great consummation which he predicted. It is but the means to the great end that he foresaw. Moreover, it bears the unmistakable stamp of a genuine intuition. Here are the words :
" Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah :
"Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt ; .. .
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
" And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord,"
Here are foretold or foreshadowed three events of the greatest possible importance to mankind. Two of them are distinctly foretold.
First, the total collapse of the Mosaic system was distinctly foretold.
Secondly, the Christian dispensation was clearly fore shadowed; for, as we now know, it was by that alone that it was possible to supplant the Mosaic system.
Thirdly, it was distinctly foretold that the time would come when all men should know the laws of God. Mark the words : the " law " of God.
Not his will merely ; not his personal commands; not his possible capricious decrees; but " his law.
Could words more clearly demonstrate the fact that the prophet was aware that God governs this universe by means of universal law ; and that the time is coming when all men will know that law? Man will at least know the relationship which he sustains to God and to his fellow-man.
It could have been nothing less than an intuition, for the great prophet had no data save an intuitive perception of the great law of human progress, — the great law of evolutionary development of the human soul. He had focussed in his prophetic eye a grand panoramic picture of the three great dispensations; the dispensation of Symbols, which was the dispensation of Moses ; the dispensation of Faith, which was the dispensation of Jesus; and last of all the promised dispensation of Knowledge, which is just dawning upon the human race.
The Christian dispensation was the outgrowth of the Mosaic in the natural order of evolution. The latter was the only system then existent in which Christianity could have taken root. The germ, the life principle of both, was the monotheistic idea, — the conception of one living God. The name of the man to whose intuitive perception of truth the world is indebted for that conception is lost in the twilight of tradition. But we know that he must have towered above his generation like a giant oak in a forest of shrubbery.
Think, for a moment, what the world owes to that towering genius, whose intuitive powers were equal to the apprehension of the one grand, fundamental truth which lies at the basis alike of the Christian religion and of Christian civilization.
That it was an intuition is all but self-evident; for science was unknown to the Jewish race in those primitive times; and the religions of the surrounding nations ranged from Polytheism to Fetishism.
The original conception was necessarily anthropomorphic, for that is the natural result of the limitations of human thought and language, especially of the primitive races. It continued to be so during all the ages of the Mosaic dispensation, and was only elevated to its present altitude by the sublime and perfect intuitive perception of Jesus of Nazareth.
As the Christian dispensation was the evolutionary outgrowth of the Mosaic, so is the dispensation of knowledge the natural outgrowth of the Christian dispensation. That is to say, whatever of truth is known in this world, is inevitably destined to become better and better known, by virtue of the law of progressive development of the human intellect.
If there is truth in Christianity, therefore, the Christian world will yet find a way of demonstrating that truth by the processes of induction. When that time comes, then will the prophecy of Jeremiah be fulfilled. Then will the law of God be " written in the hearts" of all mankind.
" And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord ; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord."
Christianity will then no longer rest exclusively upon teaching, or preaching, or faith, but upon absolute, scientific knowledge.
Jesus made the same prophecy in his last interview with his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane, when he said :
" I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth."
Like the prophecy of Jeremiah, this utterance was prompted by an intuitive apprehension of the great law of progressive development of human reason, as well as of the faculty of intuitive perception.
Each of the apostles knew that eventually reason must be appealed to and satisfied before mankind in general could be said to have the absolute knowledge that each foretold as the heritage of all humanity. And the experience of the nineteenth century demonstrates the perfection of their intuitions. For we all now know that the sublimest intuitions count as nothing to the scientific mind in the absence of the demonstrations of induction.
Jesus especially had an intuitive comprehension of the laws of the soul that was far too accurate and comprehensive to permit us to suppose that he could have predicted a supernatural communication of knowledge. The " Spirit of Truth," therefore, could have been nothing else than the spirit of scientific investigation, the legitimate object of which is "guidance into all truth."
It did not, of course, exclude intuition; nor could it exclude induction. For when the highly endowed intellect is in pursuit of truth with sincerity of purpose, and is in the path which leads to it, intuition and induction mutually interact. But the most highly endowed mind, in the path of error, can never enjoy the advantages of intuitional perception, for the simple reason that the false suggestions of error lead the subjective mind astray, and thus destroy its efficiency. On the other hand, a great truth once mastered by induction leads to a thousand inerrant intuitions and deductions. Hence it is that the highest intuitions of mankind are of comparatively little value, until they are verified by induction.
It is, therefore, by the inductive verification of intuitional perceptions that mankind, in the language of Jesus, will eventually be " guided into all truth." It is thus that the laws of God, in the language of Jeremiah, will be " put into the inward parts," and " written in the hearts " of all humanity.
It must not be supposed, however, that the Bible contains the only ancient record demonstrative of the existence, in the soul of man, of the inherent faculty of intuitive perception of truth, and the consequent power of inerrant prophecy. The grandest monument ever erected by human hands has stood for more than four thousand years, bearing silent witness to this stupendous fact.
The Pyramid of Cheops is not only the embodiment of symbolized science, but it is prophetic record of human events, and a demonstration of the God-like powers of the human soul. Its outside measurements and its proportions constitute a symbolical epitome of astronomical science which tallies exactly with the latest modern scientific measurements and discoveries. It was, therefore, a prophecy; for the science of the day on which it was built was unequal to the correct measurement of any one of the prime factors of its size or pro-portions. The inside passages and measurements are clearly prophetic of the evolutionary development of spiritual and intellectual man. It traces the course of intellectual empire on its broad lines of development. It symbolizes the three great dispensations. It is, there-fore, a Messianic prophecy, and one that is more clearly marked, especially as to the element of time, than any prophecy contained in Holy Writ.
This is a subject so vast, intricate, and interesting, that it requires separate treatment. I cannot refrain, however, from mentioning one fact in this connection, which bears an interrelationship with one of the Messianic prophecies of the Bible; for it seems to throw some light upon a passage that has not been clearly understood.
In Psalm cx. it was prophesied that the coming Messiah would be "a priest after the order of Melchizedek." The Bible says very little about this personage, beyond the fact that he was King of Salem and that he and Abraham met in Palestine. A very plausible theory has been promulgated, showing that Melchizedek, Job, and the builder of the Great Pyramid were one and the same person. Many good and seemingly sufficient reasons have been given in support of this theory. If. it is correct, it reveals the reason why the psalmist looked for a Messiah who would be a " priest after the order of Melchizedek. It was natural for the prophets to compare the coming Messiah with their highest ideals. If Melchizedek was the architect of the pyramid, he was necessarily a famous man in his own country. He was necessarily a worshipper of the one living and true God; and his fame as a prophet and a seer was undoubtedly traditional with the Israelitish nation, This also throws an additional light upon the question why it was that the Jews failed to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah. Moses had foretold the coming of a prophet like himself ; and the Jews looked for a great temporal leader, a ruler, a king.
The psalmist had prophesied a priest after the order of Melchizedek; and the Jews looked for a Messiah who was not only a ruler, but a man of affairs, capable of conceiving and carrying out great enterprises, erecting stupendous structures, weighing the earth as in a balance, and timing the movements of the planetary universe. All this Melchizedek was and did (if he was the builder of the pyramid) . centuries before Moses saw the light ; milleniums before Jesus was born.
The early prophets, being men, and guided solely by their own intuitions, naturally and inevitably chose their highest ideals as their standard of comparison. Nor could they conceive higher ideals than were exemplified in the sages and heroes of their national traditions.
The common people naturally accepted the standards of their great spiritual leaders ; and hence they could not recognize in the meek and lowly Man of Peace, whose kingdom was not of this world, a more sublime character than that of Moses and Melchizedek combined. Hence their refusal to follow in his footsteps ; and hence, in a spiritual sense, they have remained on the level upon which he found them. All this is symbolized in the pyramid ; and so is the onward and upward march of Christian civilization ; and so is the dispensation of knowledge which both Jesus and Jeremiah foretold.
In point of fact the Great Pyramid is a Messianic prophecy of a more pronounced character, more clear in detail, and more accurate as to time, than any re-corded in the Old Testament. It is scarcely necessary to remark, in this connection, that the plan of the pyramid had its inception in the intuitions of its architect. There is no other way to account for it, unless we invoke the aid of miracle; for clearly the science of two thousand years before Christ was not equal to it. Nor is it a severe tax upon our credulity to suppose a man to be capable of grasping geometrical laws by intuition, when there are so many modern instances of intuitive apprehension of the intricate laws of numbers.
Nor does it strain belief beyond reason to suppose him capable of grasping the general laws of evolutionary development, when we know that all history is full of evidences of the existence of that power.
I repeat, therefore, that prophecy, in its ultimate analysis, is neither more nor less than the exercise of human judgment. It is reasoning from cause to effect. It is a deduction from known laws, whether the knowledge of those laws is obtained by induction or by intuition.
The accuracy of the prediction depends upon the accuracy of the prophet's knowledge of causes or laws, and upon his individual capacity to formulate correct deductions. If prophecy were the result of direct divine inspiration this would not be true. All prophecy would then be inerrant. But it is true, from the lowest order of the microcephalous fortune-tellers or spirit mediums up to omniscience. I say it reverently, but none the less positively, that omniscience itself foreknows all events only by virtue of an infinite knowledge of ultimate as well as proximate causes. A positive, unconditioned knowledge of the future is impossible.
I know that I shall shock the prejudice of all lawyers present when I assume that omniscience necessarily foreknows all things. I violate no confidence when I tell you that it is an esoteric, unwritten maxim of law, or of lawyers, that God cannot foresee the verdict of a petit jury. I admit that there must be serious difficulties in the way ; but we must not be guided by the prejudices of mere human lawyers.
When I say that a positive, unconditioned knowledge of the future is impossible, I mean more than would be implied by simply asseverating that such is the law governing the phenomenon of prophecy. I mean that an unconditioned knowledge of the future is impossible for the same reason that it is impossible for one to be here and at the antipodes at the same moment. The present and the future in time are just as distinctly separated as this continent is from New Zealand. Localities are separated by space ; and two localities cannot occupy the same position in space. It would be a contradiction in terms to say that they could. In like manner successive events are separated by intervals of duration ; and two successive events cannot. happen at the same moment. That would also involve a contra-diction in terms. These propositions are self-evident.
It is also a self-evident proposition that the mind can-not take immediate cognizance of two successive events at the same moment. It follows that, of any two or more events, the one that is happening at a given moment is the one that the mind immediately cognizes. Those that have not yet happened are the ones of which immediate cognizance cannot be taken.
The most difficult task in the whole realm of ratiocination is to prove a self-evident proposition. Such a task is an attempt to prove the existence of matter, space, or time. They are all self-evident, and, logically require neither argument nor proof. Such a task it is to prove that positive, unconditioned knowledge of events that have not yet occurred is impossible. It is a self-evident proposition. Yet we are sometimes compelled to argue each of these questions ; for there are plenty of men, and some women, who deny the existence of matter, space, and time. And there are thousands who believe the exasperatingly absurd proposition that neither past nor future exists in time; and hence that the mind can have unconditioned knowledge of events that have never happened.
Let it be borne in mind that I am speaking of absolute, " unconditioned " knowledge of future events. Conditioned knowledge of future events is possible, to a greater or less extent, to every intelligent being. The conditions prerequisite I have endeavored to point out; and I again repeat them with increased emphasis. They are: 1. Knowledge of causes or laws governing the subject matter ; and 2. Powers of deductive reasoning.
It will thus be seen that prophecy constitutes no exception to the rule that God governs the universe by immutable laws which are " never reversed, never suspended, and never supplemented in the interest of any special object whatever."
In the meantime, He has given us two means by which we may acquire a knowledge of those laws. The first is instinct or intuition, — a power which was implanted in the primordial, germ, and which has been developed by evolutionary processes until in man its powers are displayed in the realm of the soul, The second is by inductive reasoning. This is the only method by which we can be scientifically certain that we know anything.
Intuition alone is swift, but uncertain, owing to the modifying influence of suggestion. Induction is slow and laborious, but comparatively sure in its results. Intuition finds a limited work to do in this life, but reaches the full fruition of its powers in the life to come. Induction belongs exclusively to this life, though like the poet's eye, it " doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven."
But whilst it dwells in the prosaic realm of facts, it is in constant communion with the-Creator of all things ; for it reads his words written all over the face of nature. They are engraved upon the rocks, they are carved in every tree and flower, they are emblazoned in- the burnished heavens. And in the soul of man, induction, as well as intuition, reads the record of his divine origin and his title deed to a home not made with hands.
Nor is it by vague dreams and shadowy speculations that this knowledge of the laws of God can be obtained in this age of exact science ; but by an intelligent observation of the facts and phenomena which everywhere await our study. Facts constitute the sign language of Omnipotence. Facts are the words of God, addressed to the common intelligence of mankind ; and Reason is their divinely commissioned interpreter.
It is upon these that we must, in this life, depend for our means of acquiring a knowledge of truth for all time to come. The golden days of intuitional perception and prophecy are gone, never to return. We have no occasion to regret it; for we are just entering the promised era of exact knowledge.
Those were days of primitive simplicity. Mankind were in close contact . and intimate communion with Nature; and it was to her that their yearning souls appealed for light and knowledge. The starry vault was their open book which declared the glory of God, whose every page showed forth his handiwork. They no longer worshipped nature, or any part of it, as a deity ; but looked " through nature up to nature's God."
This attitude, physical, mental, and spiritual, called forth all the latent powers of the soul. The basic conception of the prophets being founded upon the rock of Eternal Truth, — the monotheistic idea, - all their in-tuitions were in harmony with truth, just in proportion to each one's individual capacity and environment. Being human, their perceptions were sometimes vague and indefinite ; but they were oftentimes mathematically exact. On the whole, they have left mankind a rich legacy. They led the van of evolutionary progress on the one line of its highest possibilities, and they left a record of Eternal Truth which modern science can only verify. Their works were demonstrative of the fact that God rules the universe by immutable law, and their lives were illustrative of the God-like powers of the human soul.