Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

conception of the Messiah. The logos is a universally conceived principle of the world, and seeks personification: the Messiah is an ideal of a people conceived as a person, and seeks universali. zation. Both trends of thought need to supplement and penetrate each other; this supplement is sought on the Jewish side. To introduce Platonism into Judaism is to think the logos idea into the conception of the Messiah. This problem, already adumbrated in the Jewish-Alexandrian book of wisdom, is solved by Philo, who makes the logos-Messiah the central point of his philosophy, the Mediator and Savior of the world.

The problem of salvation demands a personal solution. It is solved if a man appears who actually overcomes the world in himself, who, in the deeper meaning of the word, is truly free from the world, in whom humanity recognizes its archetype, and in whom it, therefore, believes as the Savior of the world. This is the only possible form in which the solution of the religious problem of the world can be effected. A person must appear, who saves himself from the world, and, through faith in him, the world itself; a person of whom one can say that in him salvation has taken place, the idea has appeared, the logos has become flesh, God has become man. Only through faith in such a person can the desire of men for salvation be satisfied.

From the point of view of the logos idea, as this was developed in the consciousness of Greek philosophy, this man was not to be found, for this idea had no reference whatever to a particular individual, to an actual man: it gave to the faith which animated no direction whatever towards a person. From the logos to man there was an impassable chasm, a chasm that could not be bridged by any conceivable number of orders of divine beings. The logos idea sought personification, but it was utterly incompatible with the natural life of man. The thought of salvation was inconsistent with human nature. It remained on the other side of reality, something universal and inanimate; and so under this conception the desire of salvation was without expectation and without hope.

The Jewish desire for salvation, on the other hand, was filled with a definite expectation and hope. An ideal of their people was given to it in the person of the Messiah. It waited patiently for this Savior who was to come to be the deliverer of a people, a people whom God had chosen and preserved to rule the world. This world-ruling Messiah, whom the prophets beheld in the future of Israel, was the object of the highest hopes of the faith of the Jews. Now, when a Messiah appeared who became a savior, not in the Jewish sense, but the Grecian, a savior from the world, the conditions were fulfilled under which the religious problem of the world received its solution. Its starting point lay in the centre of the Jewish people. Their Messianic ideal gave the personal direction which the idea of the logos lacked. The desire for salvation had, therefore, to accept this ideal in order to reach its goal, in which, as a phenomenon of history, the logos was believed to have become flesh, God to have become man. Faith had at first no path from the logos to man; but there was a path from man to the Messiah, and from this Messiah, who was not a deliverer in the Jewish worldly sense, to the logos. Historical development took this path, a roundabout one indeed, but the shortest one, because it led to the goal; and, as Lessing has said in the “Education of the Human Race,» «It is not true that a straight line is always the shortest way.”

Chapter ii. of «The History of

Modern Philosophy.”

CAMILLE FLAMMARION

(1842–)

GL L AMMARION is, no doubt, the most popular scientific writer of

his generation,-a distinction he owes to the poetical quality

of detached essays with which he loves to relieve his astronomical writings. These essays, though they are often prose poems of great beauty, are generally governed by scientific generalizations rather than by the poetic imagination. At times, however, Flammarion gives free rein to his imagination, as when he promoted in the scientific and unscientific world an elaborate discussion of the possibility of communicating with the possible inhabitants of the planet of Mars. He was born at Montigny-le-Roi, France, February 25th, 1842, and educated for the Church, but he has devoted his life to astronomy, writing a large number of books which have been widely read in both hemispheres. Among them are «The Plurality of Inhabited Worlds”; “Worlds, Imaginary and Real”; “The Wonders of the Heavens, 1865; and “The World before the Creation of Man.”

ves free" fe poetic ima overned by Scare often

THE REVELATIONS OF NIGHT
O nuit! que ton langage est sublime pour moi! »

Night, how sublime is thy language to me! . . . Where are the souls to whom the spectacle of starry night is not

an eloquent discourse? Where are those who have not been sometimes arrested in the presence of the bright worlds which hover over our heads, and who have not sought for the key of the great enigma of creation? The solitary hours of night are in truth the most beautiful of all our hours, those in which we have the faculty of placing ourselves in intimate communication with great and holy Nature. Far from spreading a veil over the universe, as is sometimes said, they only efface those which the sun produces in the atmosphere. The orb of day conceals from us the splendors of the firmament; it is during the night that the panoramas of the sky are open to us. "At the hour of midnight the heavenly vault is strewn with stars, like isles of light in the midst of an ocean extending over our heads. Who can contemplate them and bring back his looks to the earth without feeling sad regrets, and without longing for wings in order to take flight and be blended with them, or be lost amid their immortal light ? »

In the midst of darkness our eyes gaze freely on the sky, piercing the deep azure of the apparent vault, above which the stars shine. They traverse the white constellated regions, visiting distant regions of space, where the most brilliant stars lose their brightness by distance; they go beyond this unexplored expanse, and mount still higher, as far as those faint nebulæ whose diffused brightness seems to mark the limits of the visible. In this immense passage of sight, Thought with rapid wings accompanies the forerunning visual ray, carried away by its flight and wonderingly contemplating these distant splendors. The purity of the heavenly prospect awakens that eternal predisposition to melancholy which dwells in the depths of our souls, and soon the spectacle absorbs us in a vague and indefinable reverie. It is then that thousands of questions spring up in our minds, and that a thousand points of interrogation rise to our sight. The problem of creation is a great problem! The science of the stars is an immense science; its mission is to embrace the universality of created things! At the remembrance of these impressions, does it not appear that the man who does not feel any sentiment of admiration before the picture of the starry splendor, is not yet worthy of receiving on his brow the crown of intelligence ?

Night is, in truth, the hour of solitude, in which the contemplative soul is regenerated in the universal peace. We become ourselves; we are separated from the factitious life of the world, and placed in the closest communion with nature and with truth.

Of all the sciences, Astronomy is the one which can enlighten us best on our relative value, and make us understand the relation which connects the Earth with the rest of creation. Without it, as the history of past centuries testifies, it is impossible for us to know where we are or who we are, or to establish an instructive comparison between the place which we occupy in space and the whole of the universe; without it we should be both ignorant of the actual extent of our country, its nature, and the order to which it belongs. Inclosed in the dark meshes of ignorance, we cannot form the slightest idea of the general arrangement of the world; a thick fog covers the narrow horizon which contains us, and our mind remains incapable of soaring above the daily theatre of life, and of going beyond the narrow sphere traced by the limits of the action of our senses. On the other hand, when the torch of the Science of the Worlds enlightens us, the scene changes, the vapors which darkened the horizon fade away, our mistaken eyes contemplate in the serenity of a pure sky the immense work of the Creator. The Earth appears like a globe poised under our steps; thousands of similar globes are rocked in ether; the world enlarges in proportion as the power of our examination increases, and from that time universal creation develops itself before us in its reality, establishing both our rank and our relation with the numerous similar worlds which constitute the universe.

The silence and profound peace of a starry night present an appropriate scene to our contemplative faculty, and no time is more propitious for the elevation of the soul toward the beauties of the heavens. But the poetry of the sight of these appearances will be soon surpassed by the magnificence of the reality. And it is on this point that we must first insist, in order to get rid of all delusions caused by the senses. It seems to me right to remove the causes of error which may leave false impressions on our minds; it is completely useless, if not dangerous, to devote the first part of an astronomical discourse to describing apparent phenomena, which will afterward have to be proved false. Let us not follow this troublesome road; let us keep away from the ordinary path, and begin, on the contrary, by raising the veil, in order to allow the reality to shine. Poetry, whose harmonious breath has just hushed our suspended souls, will not vanish on that account; it will rather regain a fresh aspect and new life, and, above all, a greater energy. Fiction can never be superior to truth; the latter is a source of inspiration to us, richer and more fruitful than the former.

Complete. «The Wonders of the Heavens,»

Book I., Chap. i.

« AnteriorContinuar »