Chapter XVI

Modern Commentary Related to Chapter XVI


    Wide, and more wide, the kindling bosom swells,
    As love inspires, and truth its wonders tells.
    The soul enraptured tunes the sacred lyre.
    And bids a worm of earth to heaven aspire,
    Mid solar systems numberless, to soar,
    The depths of love and science to explore.

As I have before remarked, man is a candidate for a series of progressive changes, all tending to develop his intellectual and physical faculties, to expand his mind, and to enlarge his sphere of action, and consequent usefulness and happiness.

He begins his physical, or rudimental, fleshly career by descending below all things. He has at his birth less power of locomotion, or even instinct, than other animals.

His powers of motion are so very limited, that for several months he is entirely unable to change his locality. Wherever he is placed, there he must remain until removed by the agency of others. He can hardly be said to have a will, or, at least, it is so undeveloped, as scarcely to manifest itself by any effort beyond the movement of some portion of his members. While he remains in this state of mental inability and physical helplessness, a casual observer, entirely unacquainted with his progress and destiny, might very naturally conclude that this was the climax of his maturity, the natural sphere of his eternal existence.

A few months, however, develop a marked change—he begins to learn the use, and put forth the powers of his will. The body, developed in a commensurate degree, is able to obey that will. Thus commences locomotion. The child crawls or creeps about the floor; explores the little world—that is to say, the room where he resides, or the adjoining apartment—becomes familiar with its dimensions, bearings and contents, and recognizes his associates or fellow citizens of the same little world. Then he becomes familiar with the science of geography and of history, if I may so call it, in his little world.

Prompted by curiosity, he may, perhaps, cast an occasional glance beyond the limits of his own abode. He may contemplate a building or landscape on the other side of the street or field, but with much of the same feeling as a man, more matured, casts his eyes to the distant planets. He concludes that these distant objects are entirely beyond the reach of his powers of locomotion.

In a short time, however, his faculties, still expanding, develop new and increasing energies. He conceives “big thoughts.” He even thinks of dispensing with his plodding, creeping manner of locomotion, and of trying to stand upright, and even make a first step towards walking. It is a great undertaking. He hesitates, doubts, fears, hopes, till finally, being cheered onward in his career by his parents or his nurse, he makes the attempt. After several falls, failures, and disappointments, he at length succeeds in walking two or three steps. O what a triumph in his powers of locomotion! He is cheered, embraced, overwhelmed, by those who have been watching his progress and encouraging him, until, overcome and carried away by an extasy of transport, he falls, blushing, smiling and exulting into the arms held out for his reception. He dreams not of a higher attainment. He is now, in his own estimation, at the very highest pinnacle of human development.

Improving in his new mode of locomotion, he soon runs about the yard, along the street, through the field, makes new discoveries, sees new habitations, enlarges his geographical knowledge, and begins to conceive the probability that his views have been too narrow, and that there may be a bigger world, more people, and more buildings than were dreamed of in his philosophy.

In a few years he may become familiar with the geography and history of the island or continent on which he lives. He may even begin to aspire after the knowledge of other climes, and to conceive or conjecture that beyond the limits of the almost infinite expanse of waters, things and beings may exist after the similitude of his own sphere. He longs to overcome the physical barriers, which confine him in so limited a sphere, and thus enlarge his acquaintance, his social feelings, his friendship, his affections and his scientific knowledge.

So boundless and varied is the field, so complicated are the obstacles to be surmounted, so vast the preparations, improvements and inventions to be brought into requisition, that, after ages and generations have exhausted their energies, much is still left to be done—much which can only be done by the progress and extension of those modern triumphs of art, by which the elements—the fire, the wind, the water, the lightning, submit to the control of man, and become his chariot, his bearer of despatches. By these means the globe we occupy will soon be explored, the limits, boundaries and resources of every dark corner be clearly defined and understood.

Man already moves over the surface of the earth at the rate of fifty, sixty, and even ninety miles per hour, and still he aspires. He contemplates making the air his chariot, and wafting himself through the open firmament at the rate of, perhaps, a thousand miles per hour. Suppose he attains to this, what then? Will the great, the infinite principle within him be satisfied? No. He lifts his eyes to the contemplation of those myriads of shining orbs on high. He knows by actual admeasurement that some of them are much larger than the planet he occupies. He also knows by analogy that eternal riches are there; that a boundless store of element and resources is there; that they are treasured there for the use, comfort, convenience, and enjoyment, of intellectual and physical beings—beings, for aught he knows, of his own species, and connected with him by kindred ties, or by the law of universal sympathy and affection. He has reason to believe that there is gold and silver, that there are precious stones, and houses, and cities, and gardens. That there are walks of pleasure, and fountains, forests, brooks, and rivers of delight; that there are bosoms fraught with life and joy, and swelling with all the tender sensibilities of a pure, holy and never-ending affection.

Why, then, should his aspirations not reach forth, his mind expand, his bosom swell with love, and his heart beat with the boundless, fathomless infinitude of thought, of feeling, and of love? Why not be noble and boundless in charity, like the God whom he calls his father? Why does he not rise from his groveling sphere in this small island, which floats in the ocean of space, as a small black speck, amid the numberless shining orbs? The reason is obvious; it is not for the want of noble aspirations; it is not for the want of grand conceptions; it is not for the lack of will. It is because the body is chained, imprisoned, confined here, by the operation or attraction of surrounding elements, which man has not yet discovered the means to control. It may be said that the powers of earth enslave him, and chain him down, beyond the possibility or hope of escape.

Reader, in order to illustrate this subject try an experiment on your own physical and mental powers. For instance; will your arm to move, and it will instantly obey you. Will your body to go three miles, and it will obey you as fast as it can; perhaps in one hour it will have accomplished the journey assigned to it by your will.

But tie your hand behind you, and then will it to move up and down, forward and backward, and it will make the effort to obey you, but cannot, because it is confined. Chain your body in a dungeon, bolt and bar the door, and will it to go to a certain place, and it will not obey you, because it is physically incapable.

Unchain this body, provide the means of conveyance at the rate of a mile per minute, the body, at the bidding of the will, will then go the three miles in three minutes.

Now, if it were possible to overcome the resisting elements, so as to increase the speed of conveyance for your body—that is, if there were no resisting element to be overcome, your will might dictate, and your body would move through actual space with the speed of light, or electricity. There is no apparent limit to the speed attainable by the body when unchained, set free from the elements which now enslave it, and dictated by the will.

    “The lightning on its wiry way would lag behind.
    The sun-ray drag its slow length along.”

This immense velocity of locomotion, as applied to a body of flesh and bones, or of material elements, may at first thought, strike the mind as being contrary to the known laws of physical motion.

But let it be recollected that the vast earth on which we dwell, with all its weight and bulk, its cities, animals and intelligences, moves through actual space, at the astonishing velocity of eighteen miles per second, one thousand and eighty miles per minute, or sixty-four thousand eight hundred miles per hour.

If so vast a bulk of gross, and in a great measure inanimate matter, can move through space, at a rate of speed so inconceivably great, how easily we can conceive the probability of vastly increased powers of locomotion on the part of animate bodies released from their earthly prison, quickened by superior and celestial element, dictated by an independent, inherent principle called the will, and urged onward by the promptings of the eternal, infinite mind and affections, in their aspirations for knowledge and enjoyment.

A corporeal, human body, raised from the dead, and quickened by elements so refined, so full of life and motion, so pure, and so free from the influences control, or attractions of more gross elements, will, like the risen Jesus, ascend and descend at will, and with a speed nearly instantaneous.

Let us pause, and contemplate, for a moment, such a being taking leave of the confines of the earth, and sea, and clouds, and air, with all their dark and gloomy shadows. Behold him as he speeds his way on the upper deep, and launches forth in the clear and boundless expanse bespangled with millions of resplendent orbs.

He calculates his distance, and regulates his course by observing the relative position of those most familiar to him, and soaring upwards still, his bosom swells with an unutterable and overwhelming sensation of the infinitude of his own eternal being, and of all around, above, below him, till unable to contain his gratitude, and joy, and exultation, he breaks forth in the language of a celebrated British poet, and sings as he flies—

    “Heavens broad day hath o’er me broken,
    Far above earth’s span of sky!
    Am I dead? Nay, by this token,
    Know that I have ceased to die!”

Planets will be visited, messages communicated, acquaintances and friendships formed, and the sciences vastly extended and cultivated.

The science of geography will then be extended to millions of worlds, and will embrace a knowledge of their physical features and boundaries, their resources, mineral and vegetable; their rivers, lakes, seas, continents and islands; the attainments of their inhabitants in the science of government; their progress in revealed religion; their employments, dress, manners, customs, &c. The science of astronomy will also be enlarged in proportion to the means of knowledge. System after system will rise to view in the vast field of research and exploration! Vast systems of suns and their attendant worlds, on which the eyes of Adam’s race, in their rudimental sphere, have never gazed, will then be contemplated, circumscribed, weighed in the balance of human thought, their circumference and diameter be ascertained, their relative distances understood. Their motions and revolutions, their times and laws, their hours, days, weeks, sabbaths, months, years, jubilees, centuries, millenniums and eternities, will all be told in the volumes of science.

The science of history will embrace the vast “univercoelum” of the past and present. It will in its vast compilations, embrace and include all nations, all ages, and all generations; all the planetary systems in all their varied progress and changes, in all their productions and attributes.

It will trace our race in all its successive emigrations, colonies, states, kingdoms and empires; from their first existence on the great, central, governing planet, or sun, called Kolob, until they are increased without number, and widely dispersed and transplanted from one planet to another, until, occupying the very confines of infinitude, the mind of immortal, eternal man, is absorbed, overwhelmed, wearied with the vastness, the boundless expanse of historic fact, and compelled to return and retire within itself for refreshment, rest and renewed vigour.

Next in order, will be the field of prophetic science. The spirit of prophecy will be poured upon the immortal mind, till, from seeing in part, and knowing in part, man will be able to gaze upon a boundless prospective, a future of still increasing glory, knowledge, light, love, might, majesty, power and dominion, in which the sons of God-the kings and priests of heaven and earth, and of the heaven of heavens, and all their retinue of kingdoms and subjects, will find ample room for boundless increase and improvement, worlds without end. Amen.

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