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"Exactly. But how does that apply to your discovery?"
“In this way, my friend: miracle is constant, cannot be otherwise, since God's providence, which is God's interference, is constant. So the power of prayer is constant. But, man's receptivity is the variable function in the problem. That variability we call progress-it does not matter for the name. Now the point to which man's oscillations have just now brought him - the stage in his present progress - is one that makes him demand to have everything developed by a scientific process, adapted to scientific requirements, adjusted to scientific tests. The disagreement between man and religion to-day
. proceeds from the fact that man is scientific and cannot comprehend things unless they are scientifically put, while religion is dogmatic and will not deal with man except dogmatically."
“ But what are you going to do about it? Do you propose to reconstruct religion?”
“How you talk! Reconstruct a truth - a divine constant ! Oh no! The thing to be done is simply to reconstruct man's relation to religion, and put what was before on a dogmatic or a sentimental basis, on firm ground again and a scientific basis."
“ But, what relation has this to the Aither and your great discovery of the methods of controlling it?"
** You will not hear me out. When I came to this work, I took a purely sentimental view of it, and, as you know, sought to develop within myself a personal receptiveness of the Aither, of which and of the force of which I was diinly conscious. That would have been to make myself the prophet and the High Priest of a new cultus. I have learned better and have adopted other views. I will not monopolise the profits of any nostruin, but will bless the whole race with a universal medicine, which each man, ignorant or cultivated, may equally administer to himself. This I learned from you, when you turned me from mere morbid introspection to sound and wholesome science."
And you propose to become a scientific Spiritualist ?"
"O horror of follies! No! Spiritism is so far well-founded, that Spiritists have in some sort a communication with the Aither and derive a measure of inspiration from it. But the relation of Spiritism to the Divine is like the relation of Paganism with the Divine. The Spiritist is drunken with lees of the wine rejected and washed out from the gutters of the Temple of Truth —?
“It's the saine old alcohol in both, however," muttered the doctor.
" But my process will leave no lees, but give the refined and purified distilled spirit, unadulterate, and wholesome
“Will it be wholesome, do you think, Mr. Yarrow?” asked this unconscionable doctor. “The purest drugs are the subtlest poisons, my pharmacology teaches."
"Will it hurt man to quaff the divine - to have Truth at first hand — to know his Maker face to face, as in the days before the Fall?”
The doctor shrugged his shoulders. “ Quién sabe ?” he said. “I always thought that nothing but what happened could have resulted from Semele's rashness, and that she had nobody to blame but herself. Curiosity may be quite as fatal as it is impertinent.”
“Curiosity! But this thing does not mean curiosity. It means reform."
“Go on, then. After all, science is but applied curiosity." “You are totally wrong.
Science is clarified truth “Boiled down, labelled, put in bottles, and shelved for use, eh, like yonder sirups! You are right, then. But don't let me interrupt you. I am listening curiously — or scientifically -- or religiously — if that will suit you better.”
"Oh ay,” said Mr. Yarrow, softly, and laying his hand a moment upon the doctor's. “You have given me science and the road to truth. You shall accept from me religion in return. I have that in process that will rend this rough husk asunder and reveal the red ripe pomegranate-heart within."
The doctor laughed a great boisterous not unembarrassed laugh. "I thought the invitation was but to those that are weary and heavy laden. I carry something of a load," he said, smiting his stomach; “but I swear I do not feel the burthen and am not aweary under it."
“By-and-bye,” said Mr. Yarrow, "by-and-bye that will come too, “Well
, we won't play the dead march while there is still breath in the fellow. You promised to explain your invention to me."
“And all this is but the preface to it, I agree. But a new science must begin with definitions. Now, we have referred to the Spiritists, and the measure of truth to which they grovelling attain. Take another example: the Prayer-machines of the Buddhists, which, by certain turnings of a crank, register a certain number of vows and wishes. Do you think those prayers are answered ?"
The doctor shrugged his massive shoulders again. There was a singular force and elasticity in this gesture of his. “As much as any, perhaps," he said ; "that is, if they are prayers at all.”
“ They are prayers, my friend."
“Faith, it seems to me your religion is liberalised of late to the point of heterodoxy."
“Not at all. I am merely approaching the subject of the scientific rapport between man and faith — such a form of relation having become necessary to restore the equilibrium between the two."
“Very well. Let me see what you are coming to. Hang me if I am not completely in the dark.”
“We are all in the dark, Doctor Hornbeam, and our universal petition should reach no farther than the prayer of Ajax. Science is incredulous -science must have light! Science ignores the sentimental and the dogmatic miracle. Science must have the scientific miracle. Science demonstrates and pins its faith to the fact that God's laws are eternal and immutable. Let us develop and demonstrate another of these laws, and out of it and the new radiance it casts abroad, establish man's scientific relation with the Divine. Now, the Aither! I named that without knowing what it is. I defined its purposes while ignorant of its qualities. I did not even know, what I now know, that man's spiritual kingdom was fully as capable of being scientifically extended and developed as his intellectual kingdom. What a blindness that was, to suppose that man's
growth in physical and mental power was indefinite, while his growth in moral power was circumscribed and could not be carried further! New mediums in Nature, but not new mediums with God! Getting our full stature in the material, yet abiding infants in the spirituali It is foily! It is madness!”
“So it is; but like most manias, supposed to be incurable."
“My friend, the skeptic is always lame, because he will not cast his crutch away through fear. Why should not the current of Aither tingle along the filaments of Emotion, and produce moral effects, just as certainly as the current of electricity tingles along our nerves and produces physical effects?”
“Oh, you have me there! I know no reason for it unless the reason be the same that prevents me from stepping out of the window yonder and walking away to Orion, to see what he made of.”
“You could do that, could you not, if you could take the first step or two on the new meciium, as Peter walked on the water easily, when he had made up his mind he could do it?"
"Certainly. C'est le premier pas qui coûte."
"You have established a communication with the Aither?' said Dr. Hornbeam, curiously eyeing his patient as an entomologi.st might inspect a new moth. There was not a gleam of pity in his hard and self-satisfied countenance, though perplexity struggled there with curiosity.
“I have developed a process for scientifically invoking the Spirit of Prayer,” said Mr. Yarrow, reverently.
"And can you explain that process to me?”
"Faith goes above works, in this as in all things.” He rose, and brought from a table a small machine, like an electrometer of some delicate kind. He connected this with certain wires that traversed the ceiling
" These wires, as you know,” he said, “communicate with the air without, and transmit to us whatever currents of electricity may be induced without. You see that the instrument marks a degree of disturbance. Very well — I break the connection, insulate the instrument, discharge the electric fluid into this Leyden vial - what remains? The instrument is still charged, but with a new fluid, which I have purified by separating the electric fluid from it. What is that fluid? You shall see.”
He pushed aside a small slide in the bottom of the machine, and rested the machine upon his head, with the part thus opened in immediate contact with his scalp. Instantly a glow of rapture lighted up his countenance and he seemed transfigured before the Doctor's astonished eyes, like a person in the ecstatic trance of clairvoyance. His breath came sost and childlike; his lips moved as if syllabling rhythmic fancies; his eyes were upturned; his whole attitude that of a man absorbed and enraptured in the critical. emotions of religious enthusiasm. Presently, his features sank again, his eyes fell and filled with tears, his hands ceased their waving gestures, he removed the instrument from his head, and sat down like one exhausted.
Doctor Hornbeam tried to take his hand and feel his pulse, but Mr. Yarrow waved him away. “Not that,” said he almost fretfully. “That is all right, I am not exhausted, but I fail, I fail! There is ecstasy supreme — sublime visions — realised faith - but I cannot retain it - I cannot find how to make the spirit tarry long enough."
He sighed, Oh so wearily!
“I believe it !” returned Mr. Yarrow, with intense fervor. “I feel sure that I will be able to perfect the process. I have an experiment even now in view, but lack the means to carry it out.”
“Tell me: perhaps I can help you out."
“I have read that, in Central America, at certain seasons, the maidens are used to go early in the morning after mass, and bow their heads into the mystic cup of that wonderful flower El Espiritu Santo, and from it derive new faith and strange inspirations — I think, if I had a blosom of that flower, I could perhaps —"
“I can get you one, Mr. Yarrow. One of my friends, the wife of Captain Holcombe, of the navy, has one in her green-house. It should be in bloom now, and I think she will give me a flower or bud.”
Mr. Yarrow grasped the doctor's hand fervently. “You are a friend indeed !” he cried.
He went to a case and took from it a small ebony box.
“Here is a receptacle which I designed for the sacred treasure, if I could find it. The flower, laid in here, will carry safely, while this vase below, filled with etherised ammonia, will preserve its freshness and fragrance indefinitely."
The doctor put the box in his pocket and rose to go.
“You must take some rest now," he said. “I will see you again in a day or two, and probably fetch the flower.”'
He shook hands with Mr. Yarrow and left the room.