Characteristics of the Present Age/Lecture 8

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The Third Age has now been described in its fundamental character,—as an Age which accepts nothing but what it understands;—and its leading conception in this process of understanding has been sufficiently set forth as that of mere sensuous Experience. From this fundamental principle of the Age we have deduced the distinction between a Learned and an Unlearned Class, and the constitution of these two classes, both in themselves and in their relation to each other. In addition to this we have shown historically, in our last lecture, that this relation has not always existed as at present; how and in what way it has arisen and become as it now is;—and also how this relation must exist in the following Age,—that of Reason as Knowledge.

Now we have formerly remarked, in our general survey of this subject, that such an Age of mere naked Experience and of empty Formal Knowledge does by its very nature stir up opposition, and bears within its own breast the germs of a reaction against itself. Let us take up this remark in the lecture of to-day, and pursue it somewhat further. It cannot be but that single individuals,—either because they actually feel the dreary barrenness and emptiness of the results of such a principle, or else moved by the mere desire of bringing forward something wholly new, which desire itself we have already discovered among the characteristics of this Epoch,—precisely inverting the principle of the Age, and representing its pretension to understand all things as its bane and the source of all its error,—should now, on the contrary, set up the Incomprehensible as such, and on account of its incomprehensibility, as their own principle,—as all of which man stands in need, the true source of all healing and sanctification. Even this phenomenon, as I said before, although apparently quite opposed to the Third Age, does nevertheless belong to the necessary phenomena of this Age, and is not to be overlooked in a complete delineation of it.

In the first place, the fact that the supporters of the maxim,—that we must be able to understand everything which we ought to admit as true,—do nevertheless constantly accept many things which neither they nor their opponents understand, is a manifest contradiction of the maxim itself; which contradiction obviously cannot take place, or be theoretically propounded until the maxim itself be announced, and indeed only arises in the polemical discussion of the maxim;—a contradiction, however, which must necessarily make its appearance so soon as this maxim has been prevalent for any length of time, has received mature consideration, and has been brought out in clear and unequivocal distinctness. Thus the announcement of this principle of the Incomprehensible is neither the beginning nor yet any essential element of the new Age which is to arise out of the Third, namely, the Age of Reason as Knowledge; for it finds no fault with the maxim of absolute Intelligibility, but rather recognises it as its own; finding fault only with the mischievous and worthless notion which is now made the standard of this Intelligibility, and the measure of all authentic Truth; while as to Intelligibility itself, the Age of Reason as Knowledge lays it down as a fundamental principle, that everything, even the Unknown itself, as the limit of the Known, and as the only possible pledge that the domain of the Known is exhausted, must be comprehended; and that in all Times, and as the only sufficient substratum of the Time, there must be a then Unknown,—known only as the Unknown; but at no Time an absolute Incomprehensible. This principle of absolute Incomprehensibility is thus much more directly opposed to Knowledge, than even the principle of the Intelligibility of all things through the conceptions of mere sensuous Experience. Finally, this principle of Incomprehensibility, as such, is not a remnant of any former Age, as is obvious from what we have already said on this point. The absolute Incomprehensible of Heathen and Jewish antiquity,—the arbitrary God, never to be understood but always to be feared, with whom man could only by good fortune come to terms,—far from having been sought out by these Ages, was imposed upon them by necessity, and in opposition to their own will, and they would gladly have been delivered from this conception had that been possible. The Incomprehensible of the Christian Church, again, was accepted as true,—not on account of its being incomprehensible, but because it existed in the Written Word and in the Traditions and Doctrines of the Church, although it had accidentally turned out to be incomprehensible. The maxim of which we now speak, on the contrary, sets up the Incomprehensible as the Highest, in its own character of incomprehensibility, and even on account of its incomprehensibility; and it is thus a wholly new and unprecedented phenomenon peculiar to the Third Age.

When the matter does not end in this mere acceptance of the Incomprehensible generally,—so that it might be left to each man to determine for himself what is incomprehensible to him;—but when besides this, as might be expected from the dogmatic Spirit of the Age, a specific and defined formula of the Incomprehensible is set forth and proposed for our acceptance; the question presents itself,—How does this phenomenon arise? Not from the elder superstition,—for this has now passed away so far as the cultivated classes are concerned, and its residue is only to be found in Theology;—nor from Theology,—for this is, as we have already seen, something altogether different. It is through insight into the emptiness of the previous system, and thus by means of reasoning, that this new system has arisen; it must therefore establish its Incomprehensible by means of reasoning and free thought, which here, however, assume the forms of Invention and Imagination:—Hence the founders and representatives of this system will bear the name of Philosophers.

The production of an Unknown and Incomprehensible, by means of unrestrained Imagination, has always been named Mysticism; we shall therefore comprehend this new system in its essential nature, if we set forth distinctly what Mysticism is, and wherein it consists.

Mysticism has this in common with true Reason as Knowledge;—it does not recognise the conceptions of mere sensuous Experience as the Highest, but strives to raise itself above all Experience;—and since there is nothing beyond the domain of Experience but the world of Pure Thought, it builds up a Universe for itself from Pure Thought alone,—as we have already said of Reason as Knowledge. The defenders of Experience as the only source of truth thus hit the mark as closely as they possibly can, and more closely perhaps than they themselves are aware of, when they denominate him a Mystic who, on whatever ground, denies the exclusive validity which they claim for Experience;—for this Mysticism, which they can only apprehend by an effort of fancy, and from which they have so carefully guarded themselves beforehand by strict adherence to Experience,—this Mysticism, I say, does indeed raise itself above Experience;—whilst the other way of rising above Experience,—namely, by Knowledge,—has never presented itself to them in its true character, and on this side they have had, as yet, no temptations to overcome.

In this firm reliance on the world of Thought, as the Highest and most excellent, Reason as Knowledge and Mysticism are completely at one.

The distinction between them depends solely upon the nature of the thought from which they respectively proceed. The fundamental thought of Reason as Knowledge—which because it is a fundamental thought, is absolutely one and complete in itself—is, in the view of Reason, thoroughly clear and distinct; and from it Reason perceives, in the same unchangeable clearness, the immediate procession of all the multiplicity of particular thoughts; and, since things can only exist in thought, of the multiplicity of all particular things,—making them, in this procession, the subject of immediate apprehension;—this even to the limits of all clearness; and, as these limits must likewise be conceived of as necessary limits, even to the boundaries of the Unknown. Further, this thought does not spontaneously present itself to Reason, but must be pursued with labour, assiduity, and care; for Reason must never rest satisfied with anything which is, as yet, imperfectly understood, but must continually ascend to a higher principle of interpretation, and again to a higher, until at last there shall be but one pure mass of Light. So it is with the Thought of Reason. But the thoughts from which Mysticism may arise,—for these are very different in the different individuals who entertain them, and are even very variable in one and the same individual,—these thoughts can never be clearly referred to any fundamental principle. On this account they are only to a certain extent clear even in themselves; and, so far as regards their connexion with each other, they are absolutely unintelligible. On this account, too, these thoughts can never be proved, nor attain any greater degree of clearness than that which they already possess; but they may be postulated,—or, should the language of true Reason be already current, the reader or hearer may be directed to the ‘Intellectual Intuition’; which latter, however, has a totally different meaning in Reason from that which it bears in Mysticism. For the same reason, no account can be given of the method in which these thoughts have been discovered, because, in reality, they have not been discovered by means of a systematic ascent to a higher principle, like the primitive thoughts of Reason,—but are, in truth, the mere conceits of Chance.

And this Chance,—what is it at bottom? Although those who are in its service can never explain it, yet cannot we explain it? It is a blind thinking-power, which, like all other blind powers, is, in the final analysis, only a force of Nature from the control of which free thought sets us at liberty; depending, like all other natural conditions, upon the state of health, the temperament, the mode of life, the studies, &c. of the individual;—so that these Mystics, with their fascinating philosophy, notwithstanding their boast of having raised themselves above Nature, and their profound contempt for all Empiricism, are themselves but a somewhat unusual empirical phenomenon, without having the least suspicion of the real state of the case.

The remark that the principles of Mysticism are mere accidental conceits, imposes upon me the duty of distinguishing it from another, and, in some respects, similar process of thought;—and I embrace this opportunity of more strictly defining it. In the domain of Physics, namely, not only the most important experiments, but even the most searching and comprehensive theories are often the results of chance, or it may be said, of mere conjecture; and so must it be, until Reason be sufficiently extended and spread abroad, and have fulfilled the duty which it owes to Physics, as strictly defined in our last lecture. But the true Physical Inquirer always proceeds beyond the Phenomena, seeking only the Law in the Unity of which the Phenomena may be comprehended; and as soon as he has reached the primitive Thought, returning again to the Phenomena in order to test the Thought by its application to them;—undoubtedly with the firm conviction that the validity of the Thought can only be established by its sufficiency for the explanation of the Phenomena, and with the determination to throw it aside should it not be verified in this way. It is verified; and he is thereby satisfied that his conception has been no arbitrary conceit, but a true Thought revealed by Nature herself;—and thus his inspiration is not Mysticism but is to be named Genius. Quite otherwise is it with the Mystic:—he neither proceeds outwards from Empiricism, nor yet does he recognise Empiricism as the judge of his fancies,—but he demands that Nature should regulate herself by his thoughts;—in which he should be perfectly justified, had he only got hold of the right Thoughts, and if he knew how far this a priori conception of Nature can go, at what point it comes to an end, and where Experiment alone can decide.

These fancies of the Mystic, I have said, are neither clear in themselves, nor are they proved, or even capable of theoretical proof which indeed is renounced in the avowal of Incomprehensibility; but yet they may be true, and may therefore be confirmed by our natural sense of Truth, provided they fall within its sphere. How is it then, that they are believed in by their original authors themselves? I am bound to solve this question before we proceed further.

These fancies are, at bottom, as we have shown above, the products of a blind natural thinking-power; which power must necessarily manifest itself in these particular circumstances and in these particular individuals exactly as it does manifest itself;—must, I say, unless the individual were to elevate himself above the mere natural thinking-power to free and clear Thought; and so foreclose this necessity. If this do not happen, then the necessary consequence is as follows:—every blind power of Nature is constantly active, although invisibly and unconsciously to man; it is therefore to be anticipated that this thinking-power, as the essential nature of this individual, should have already manifested itself in many shapes within him, and thus from time to time have passed through his mind without its principle being discovered, or any distinct resolution being taken as to its adoption. Thus he goes on passively, or listening attentively to the voice of Nature thinking within him; till at last the true centre-thought of the whole reveals itself; and he is not a little astonished to find unity, light, connexion, and confirmation spread over all his previous fancies; never imagining for a moment that these earlier fancies were but shapes or branches of that ever-active thought which has now come forth into light, with which they must therefore unquestionably harmonize. He satisfies himself of the truth of the whole by its sufficiency to afford an explanation of all the parts; for he does not know that they are only parts of this whole, and have only an existence by means of the whole. He accepts Imagination as Truth because it coincides with so many earlier Imaginations, which, without any suspicion on his part, have come to him from the same source.

Since this imagination of the Mystic is but a thinking-power of Nature, it returns upon Nature, attaches itself to her soil, and attempts to exercise an activity there; in one word, Mysticism is, and always must be, a Philosophy of Nature (‘Natur-Philosophie.’) It is necessary that we should carefully consider these latter remarks, in order strictly to distinguish between Mysticism and something else which is often inconsiderately mistaken for it. Either the mere sensuous instinct, the desire of personal preservation and of physical well-being, is the only impulse to the thoughts as well as to the actions of men,—and then Thought is only the servant of Desire, and only exists for the purpose of observing and choosing the means of its satisfaction; or, Thought is living and active in itself and by its own proper power. Upon the first supposition is founded the whole wisdom of the Third Age, which we have already sufficiently described, and need not further refer to at present. On the second supposition there are, on the other hand, two, or it may be, three cases. Namely, this self-existent and active Thought is either the mere Sensuous Individuality of Man clothing itself in the form of Thought, and is thus still a mere sensuous desire, only disguised, and therefore not recognised as such,—and then it is Mysticism:—or, it is Pure Thought flowing forth from itself without any dependence on Sense, not recognising individual persons, but always comprehending the Race, as we have already sufficiently described it in our second, third, and fourth lectures;—i.e. the Idea. Is it the Idea which is present?—then again, as we have already said, it may manifest itself in two different ways:—either, in one of its primitive forms which we previously indicated; and in this case it struggles irresistibly onward to direct outward activity, streams forth in the personal life of the man, extinguishing all his sensuous impulses and desires; and then he is an Artist, Hero, Man of Science, or Religious Man;—or, the same Pure Thought may manifest itself in its absolute unity; and then it is easily recognisable as the one, perfectly clear, and undisturbed thought of the Higher Reason, which in itself impels to no activity in the World of Sense, but only to free activity in the World of Pure Thought; or, in other words, is true and genuine Speculation. Mysticism will not of itself act in direct opposition to the Life in the Idea; but that it may act in conformity with it, requires a specific determination of the will moved thereto by desire. Thus Mysticism is still Speculation; it does not, however, comprehend the Race as such but only Individuality, because it proceeds only from the Individual and refers only to that whereon the life of the Individual depends, namely, to Physical Nature,—and it is thus necessarily Speculation founded on Nature (Natur-Spekulation.) Hence the Life in the Idea, which the uneducated man presumes to call Mysticism, is in reality very widely and distinctly separated from Mysticism. We have already sufficiently distinguished Mysticism from true and genuine Speculation; but in order that we may be able to distinguish this true and genuine Speculation from its opposite,—that of the Mystic, with reference to the Philosophy of Nature (Natur-Philosophie),—we ought to be already in possession of the former, and this is not the business of the unlearned public. Upon this matter,—and therefore upon the ultimate principles of Nature,—no true Scholar will think of communicating with the general public; the Speculative theory of Nature presupposes scientific culture, and can only be comprehended by the scientific intellect; and the general and unlearned public never stands in need of it. But with respect to that whereon the true Scholar can and ought to communicate with the general public,—with respect to Ideas,—there is an infallible test whereby this public may determine for itself whether any doctrine which is presented to it is, or is not, mere Mysticism. Let it be asked,—‘Has this doctrine a direct and immediate bearing on action, or does it rest on a fixed and immovable constitution of things?’ Thus, for example, the question which I put to you at the beginning of these lectures, and upon the assumed answer to which, the whole of my subsequent discourses have proceeded as their true principle:—this question, whether you could refrain from approving, respecting, and admiring a Life wholly devoted to the Idea?—this question refers exclusively to an action, and to your judgment upon that action; and therefore, while we were elevated above the world of mere sensuous Experience, it is evident that there was nevertheless nothing of Mysticism in our inquiries. To adduce a still more marked example:—The Doctrine of a Perfect God; in whose nature nothing arbitrary or changeable can have a place; in whose Highest Being we all live, and in this Life may and ought at all times to be blessed;—this Doctrine, which ignorant men think they have sufficiently demolished when they have proclaimed it to be Mysticism, is by no means Mysticism, for it has an immediate reference to human action, and indeed to the inmost spirit which ought to inspire and guide all our actions. It can only become Mysticism when it is associated with the pretext that the insight into this truth proceeds from a certain inward and mysterious light, which is not accessible to all men, but is bestowed only upon a few favourites chosen from among the rest:—in which pretext the real Mysticism consists, for it betrays a self-complacent assumption of personal merit, and a pride in mere sensuous Individuality. Thus Mysticism, besides the essential and inward criterion which can only be thoroughly discovered by true Speculation, has also an outward mark by which it may be recognised;—this, namely, that it is never a Moral or Religious Philosophy, to both of which it is, in its true character, wholly antagonistic; (what it calls Religion is only a deification of Nature)—but it is always a mere Philosophy of Nature;—that is, it strives to discover, or believes that it has discovered, certain mysterious and hitherto inconceivable properties in the principles of Nature, by the employment of which it endeavours to produce effects surpassing the ordinary course of things. Such, I say, is Mysticism,— necessarily such by reason of its vital principle;—and such it has always been in reality. Let us not be deceived by the frequent promises it has held forth of introducing us to the secrets of the Spirit-World, and revealing to us the charm whereby we may spell-bind and enthral Angel and Archangel, or even God himself;—the purpose of all this has been only to employ such knowledge for the production of results in the world of sense; and these spiritual existences have therefore never been regarded as such, but only as powers of Nature. The end has always been to discover some charm, some magical spell. If we consider the matter strictly, as I do here, and do it advisedly, in order by this example, at least, to make myself perfectly clear and intelligible;—if, I say, we consider the matter strictly, the system of Religion which was described in our last lecture, which proceeds upon the conception of an Arbitrary God, and admits an interposition between Him and man, and believes that,—through the efficacy of a ratified Covenant, either by observation of certain arbitrary, and, so far as their purpose is concerned, unintelligible laws, or by an historical belief equally unintelligible as regards its end,—it can redeem itself from any farther inflictions on the part of God; this Religion itself, I say, is such a system of mystical enchantment, in which God is contemplated, not as the Holy One, to be separated from whom is, in itself and without farther consequence, the greatest of all evils; but only as a dreadful power of Nature, threatening man with its devastating visitations, whose agencies, however, we have now discovered the means of rendering harmless, or even of diverting to our own purposes.

This which we have now described, and, I think, sufficiently defined and distinguished from all other things wherewith it may be associated, is Mysticism in general; and wherever it manifests itself, it must do so with those characteristics which we have now set forth: it establishes itself in the way we have now described wherever it is mere nature. In the case in which we have here to speak of it,—as the reaction of the Third Age against itself,—it is not mere nature but chiefly Art. It proceeds from deliberate opposition to the principle of the Third Age; from dissatisfaction with the recognised emptiness and impotence of that Age; from the opinion that man can save himself from this emptiness and impotence only by means of the principle directly opposed to the commonly received notion of the comprehensibility of all things,—i.e. by the Incomprehensible; and from the determination which arises therefrom, to establish such an Incomprehensible. Further, there is in the Third Age, and in all natures which proceed from it, but little energy to be applied to this Mysticism. How then do its adherents establish this Incomprehensible, and summon up the amount of Mysticism which they actually exhibit? They proceed in this way:—They set to work to invent some imaginary theory as to the hidden principles of Nature,—for it is the invariable habit of the Mystic to place Nature before him as his object; he admits whatever fancies may occur to his mind, and entertains those among them which are most agreeable to him; stimulating himself, should such fancies not flow so readily as he desires, by means of physical appliances,—the recognised and established support of all Artists in Mysticism, in ancient and modern times, amongst rude and civilized people;—a means through which the clearness, discretion, and freedom which belong to genuine Speculation, and which demand the highest degree of temperance, are infallibly lost, and from the use of which, for the sake of production, we may at once and with certainty conclude that what is produced is not true Speculation but mere Mysticism. If even with the aid of these accessories the veins of fancy still do not flow with sufficient fulness, recourse is had to the writings of former Mystics. The more singular and the more decried these writings are, the better; for, according to their principles, everything is good in proportion as it departs from the prevailing spirit of the Age;—and with these extraneous fancies they now decorate their own imperfect conceits, if indeed they do not take credit for them as their own. I may remark in passing, what cannot be denied, that among these fancies of the old and now decried Mystics, there are many admirable and genial thoughts; and we have even no wish to deny that among the more modern of them also there may be found many excellent expressions; but these gleams of genius are always surrounded by errors, and are never clear in themselves: in order to discover the beauties contained in these writings, the reader must bring similar excellencies with him to their study, and no one will learn from them who was not already wiser than they when he sat down to their perusal.

All Mysticism goes forth in a kind of enchantment; this is its invariable characteristic. What form of this art-magic, then, does that kind of Mysticism of which we now speak, exhibit? Only its Scientific form;—at least we now speak only of the scientific Mysticism of the Age; although there is doubtless another Mysticism of Art, as well as one of Life, which we may perhaps characterize at another time. This scientific Mysticism must therefore endeavour to produce some extraordinary and magical effect in science—something wholly impossible in the ordinary course of Nature. What then?—Science is either a priori or empirical. To comprehend a priori Science, partly as creating the world of Ideas, and partly as determining the world of Nature so far as it does determine it;—there is needed calm dispassionate thought, ceaselessly examining, correcting and explaining itself;—and it requires time and labour, and half a life of devoted endeavour, to produce anything remarkable after all. This is too well known for any one to dream of the influences of enchantment here;—hence the Mystics look upon themselves as excluded from this province, and whatever they may require from it for the frame-work of their own productions, they can borrow from others, and elaborate after their own fashion so that no one may be able to recognise it;—and they may the more securely reckon upon concealment if they abuse him whom they plunder while they are plundering him. Empiricism still remains. In so far as this is purely empirical, by separation from all that is a priori in Nature, it is the common opinion, which may indeed be the right one, that this province can only be investigated by way of experiment, and that every inquirer must in the first place acquire an historical acquaintance with what is already known, and carefully test it again for himself, and can only hope to arrive at any new result by means of new experiments based upon an intelligent survey of the whole existing stores of Experience. This however is too tedious, and demands time and persevering exertion; and there are too many skilful fellow-labourers who might anticipate our discoveries; so that we might labour on to the end of our lives without getting credit for originality. Here some charm might be applied; and it is necessary to have one. Here therefore the Mystic attempts to penetrate, by a direct incursion of fancy, to the secret principles of Nature, and thus to supersede the course of laborious study and the troublesome method of experiment which peradventure might overturn all his previously formed systems.

On account of the universal propensity of human nature for the Wonderful, this scheme cannot fail to attract general attention and to call forth ardent enthusiasm. Although old men who have already travelled this path of laborious study, and perhaps have themselves produced fortunate and fruitful experiments, may see with some jealousy their former labours regarded as fruitless and inglorious, the results brought to light by their experiments demonstrated a priori in a few sentences, and proved to have been attainable in other ways,—this phase of the Wonderful not having yet appeared when they were young;—the more welcome to those who have not yet entered upon this path of study, but now stand at the point whence according to former usage they must enter upon it, will be the promise of being safely lifted over it in the course of a few paragraphs. Should there, after all, no miracle ensue, as is the common fate of such magic arts; should no new empirical knowledge arise, and the Faithful remain exactly as wise or as ignorant as they were before;—should it be obvious, at least to every one who is not blind, that whatever is essential in any particular instance actually brought forward has not been deduced a priori, nor even attained by any course of reasoning, but has been already known by means of previous experiment, and is now only compressed into an allegorical form, in which compression the pretended deduction consists;—should the wonder-worker himself neither satisfy the demand which must of necessity be made upon him to authenticate his higher mission by at least one fulfilled prophecy, nor even produce, as he ought, a single experiment never before made either by himself or others in some region unattainable by means of inference from previous experiment, the results of which, distinctly announced by himself beforehand, shall be found coincident with its actual fulfilment, but should proceed, like all false prophets, to prophesy the result a priori after its accomplishment has taken place;—should all this unquestionably have occurred, yet will the assured Faith of the Adept never waver;—to-day indeed the process has not succeeded, but on the seventh, or on the ninth day, it will infallibly succeed.

To this stimulus of applause, there is added another very powerful one. The human mind, left to itself without discipline or education, would neither be idle nor industrious;—were a middle state between these two discovered, that were the proper thing for it. To remain idle altogether and do nothing is too tiresome;—and if one has unfortunately made study his business, it is to be feared that in such a case he might learn nothing, which again is unpleasant, especially on account of its consequences. Real Thought and Speculation are troublesome and unproductive;—truly to learn anything demands indeed an effort of attention and memory. Imagination steps in. Let a successful master once bring this power into play,—and how can he fail if he be a Mystic, since Mysticism is always sure to lay hold of the unguarded and inexperienced?—then Imagination pursues its way without farther trouble to its possessor, quickens into life, assumes new and varied forms, and thus puts on the appearance of a vigorous activity without the smallest trouble on our part;—bold and adventurous thoughts make their appearance in our minds without we ourselves being called on to think at all; and study is changed into the most pleasant business in the world. And then, above all, the glorious results!—when scarcely released from school, or even while still there, to confront the most approved men in the land with brilliant thoughts, which they indeed, too well acquainted with the nature of true knowledge, have never dreamed of!—and to be able to shrug our shoulders at their momentary embarrassment on account of our absolute ignorance, as at a confession of their own weakness, and so pass on pluming ourselves on our fancied superiority!

During the course of this description we have not been ignorant, nor have we overlooked the fact, that absolutely unscientific men may probably pass the same judgment on the labours of genuine Speculation and its friends. We grant that, since they must hold all Speculation to be Mysticism,—there being absolutely nothing in existence for them but Experience,—they are perfectly right in doing so according to their own view; and, on the other hand, since we maintain the existence of a world lying beyond all Experience, and at the same time, and precisely on account of this a priori world and as a consequence of it, contend also for the existence of an Experience which must always remain Experience, so we for our part cannot fitly express in any other way the censure which is called forth by the analogous error,—that of introducing a pretended Speculation into the legitimate domain of Experience. Generally speaking, however, the mere expression is of little moment; but it is of moment that one understand the subject under discussion, and can venture to give a reason to him who does understand it; and to this extent, we believe that we have vindicated our pretensions, were it only by what we have said to-day. It is allowable publicly to remain silent upon such obvious folly as does not force its way into our more immediate presence; and we should not, even in this narrow circle, have wasted upon such a subject the few words which we have spoken to-day, had not the completeness of our undertaking required us to do so.

In fine, this seems to be the spirit of the particular period of our Age in which we live:—the system of mere naked Experience as the only legitimate source of Truth may be supposed to be on the decline, and on the contrary, the system of Mysticism which, by means of a pretended Speculation, seeks to dislodge Experience even from its own legitimate province, now begins to bear sway with all its revolutionary consequences, in order to inflict a fearful retribution on the Race which gave itself up to the former delusion. It is in vain to seek a remedy against this movement, for it is now a necessary tendency of the Age, and is besides equipt with all that is most attractive to the Age. Happy the wise man who can rise superior to his Age and to all Time! who knows that Time is nothing in itself, and that there is a Higher Guidance securely leading our Race, amid all its apparent wanderings, to the true end of its existence!