Are The Natural And Spiritual Worlds One In Law? -- By: George F. Magoun

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 042:166 (Apr 1885)
Article: Are The Natural And Spiritual Worlds One In Law?
Author: George F. Magoun


Are The Natural And Spiritual Worlds One In Law?

George F. Magoun

Professor Henry Drummond has started this question by his notable and brilliant book.1 At last advices from England its issues had been thirty-four thousand. It owes its exceptional success as a literary venture to two things: its felicitous and polished style, and the preparation for it in the public mind by certain “scientific [so-called] speculations.” Few intelligent readers, we apprehend, have failed to think, in some vague way at least, of likenesses between some of these speculations and certain religious truths. If a theological writer had elaborated these likenesses, he might have received little attention, or have been suspected of laboring to prop up beliefs weak in themselves. It needed only that a scientific instructor should do it attractively to secure wide applause.

The thesis of the book is: Unity of law in the two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. Between these two worlds, commonly understood to be distinct and different, he maintains a resemblance, not hitherto admitted, in this, that law — in some sense of the word “law”— runs from the one into the other. He recognizes the distinction between identity of law and analogy of laws, and also between analogy of laws and analogy of phenomena, — though he does not by any means always respect these distinctions. The book, then, must stand or fall by its success, not in exhibiting either class of analogies, but in proving the absolute identity affirmed. It is said (p. viii):

“There is a deeper unity between the two kingdoms than the analogy of their phenomena”; (p. ix): “Natural law, could it be traced in the spiritual world, would have an important scientific value — it would offer Religion a new credential.” His purpose is to find (p. xiii) “the basis [of the two] in a common principle — the Continuity of Law,” i.e., of Physical Law. “The position we have been led to take up is not that the spiritual laws are analogous to the natural laws, but that they are the same laws. It is not a question of analogy, but of identity. The laws of the invisible are the same laws, projections of the natural, not supernatural. Analogous phenomena are not the fruit of parallel laws, but of the same laws — laws which at one end, as it were, may be dealing with Matter; at the other end, with Spirit” (p. 11 of Introduction). “As the natural laws are continuous through the universe of matter and of space, so will they be continuous through the universe of spirit” (p. 41).

This language implies the universal identity of law in the two kingdoms, z.

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