MATTER AS A MEANS TO DIVINE END
by Frank Sewall
Matter was made as the only means by which the end of creation might be effected.
The End of Creation, the purpose for which the world was made, lies in the highest or first Degree of the Divine Nature, in the Divine Love.
Love by its very nature demands an object. That object must be another than self, else the love of it would be self-love. Love, then, in order to exist, must create another than itself.
This other that Love creates must not only be wholly other than its creative source, must feel itself to be absolutely apart and distinct from it, but it must be able to reciprocate this love, to love in return. For it is only in reciprocation that love is satisfied, that the end of love is attained.
These being the qualities and motives inherent in love by its very nature, it follows that creation must necessarily result, and that the Divine Love is, for no other reason than its own being, the Creator of the world.
To create a world which shall not be the creative Love itself, but the object of it and the reciprocator of it, the Divine Love proceeds by spheres emanating from itself, and yet not itself. These spheres, actuated by the Divine life from within, become the living forces and substances out of which a world is made. As living forces and substances, they constitute the spiritual world or the world of creative instrumental causes. They constitute a complete world in all its discrete trinal order, a world having a supreme central sun or source of vivifying power and substance, and also atmospheres, waters, and earths. To speak of a “world” without these three constituents, sun, atmospheres, and habitable earth, is to deprive the term of all its meaning. Therefore a spiritual world means a spiritual sun, atmospheres thence proceeding, and an earth or lowest plane of spiritual living substance. But “Atmospheres, waters, and earths are spoken of as being the general causes by and from which all and everything exists in infinite variety.
“The atmospheres are active powers, the waters are the intermediate powers, and the earths are the passive powers by which all effects exist. These three are such powers in their series solely from the life which proceeds from the Lord as a sun, and causes them to be active.” D. L. W. No. 178.
And beyond and beneath this instrumental world of ” active powers ” and by means of them, the proceeding spheres of creative Love produce a world of dead inactive nature, in which the substances and powers, instead of being living or actuated from within, are inert or actuated only from without or from the living forces of the atmospheres of the spiritual world. This world is nature ; a world which, from its sun, through its heat, light, atmospheres, and waters, even to its mineral structure, is wholly dead and inert, that is, without life or power of motion from itself.
” Since the sun of the natural world is pure fire, and for that reason dead, therefore the heat proceeding is dead heat, and the light proceeding dead light. By parity of reasoning, the atmospheres, the ether and the air, which receive and communicate the heat and light of that sun, are dead ; and being dead, all and everything of the world under them called the earths is dead. Nevertheless, all and each are surrounded by spiritual things which proceed and flow from the sun of the spiritual world ; and unless they were so surrounded, the earths could not have been actuated and made capable of producing forms of use, that is vegetables, or forms of life, that is animals ; or of furnishing a supply of material for the existence and subsistence of man.
“Now since nature exists from that (natural) sun, all that exists and subsists therefrom is called natural, it follows that nature with all and everything pertaining to it is dead. The appearance of nature as alive in men and animals is owing to the life which accompanies and actuates nature.”
“Since the lowest substances of nature which constitute earths are dead, and are not mutable and various according to the state of the affections and thoughts as in the spiritual world, but immutable and fixed, therefore in nature there are spaces and distances of spaces. Such things are the consequences of creation closing there, and subsisting in a state of rest. Hence it is evident that spaces are proper to nature. And since spaces in nature are not appearances of spaces according to dates of life as in the spiritual world, they may also be called dead.
” Since times in like manner are stated and constant, they also are proper to nature ; and as they are not states of life as in the spiritual world, they therefore are dead.”
“The difference between the spiritual atmospheres and the natural atmospheres is that the spiritual atmospheres are receptacles of Divine fire and Divine light, consequently of love and wisdom; for they contain these within them; whereas the natural atmospheres are not receptacles of Divine fire and Divine light, but of the fire and light of their own sun, which is in itself void of life, and therefore they contain nothing from the sun of the spiritual world, but still are surrounded by spiritual atmospheres which come from that sun.”
” As the atmospheres decrease in descending, it follows that they become more and more compressed and inert, and at length in the outmost so compressed and inert that they are no more atmospheres but substances at rest, and in the natural world fixed, like those substances on the earth which are called matter. These substances retain from the atmospheres whence they originated an effort and endeavour to perform uses”
” From this universal origin of all things in the created universe a likeness arises in every one of its parts in that they proceed from firsts to outmosts which are in a state of rest respectively, there to close and subsist. Thus in the human body fibres proceed from their first forms to tendons ; the fibres and these vessels proceed from their first forms till they become cartilages and bones upon which they may rest and subsist. As there is such a progression of the fibres and vessels in a man from first to last, therefore there is a similar progression of the states of those which are sensations, thoughts, and affections ; these must also pass from their first where they are in light to their last where they are in shade ; or from their first where they are in heat to their last where they are not ; and as there is such a progression of these, there is also such a progression of love and all its predicates, and of wisdom and all its predicates ; in a word, of all things of the created universe.”
” From the origin of the earth, as thus stated, it appears that in the substances and the matters of which they consist there is nothing of the Divine in itself, but that they are deprived of all that is Divine in itself, being as was said the ends and terminations of the atmospheres whose heat has ended in cold, their light in darkness, their activity in inertness ; but still they have brought with them by continuation from the substance of the spiritual sun that which was there from the Divine, namely, a sphere surrounding the God-Man or the Lord ; from this sphere, by continuation from the sun proceeded by means of the atmospheres the substances and matters of which the earths consist.”
” The origin of earth from the spiritual sun by means of atmospheres can only be so described in words flowing from natural ideas. It could be otherwise described in words flowing from spiritual ideas, since spiritual ideas are without space ; but as such they do not fall into any words of natural language. It is only by correspondences that spiritual thought and speech can communicate with natural thought and speech. But it will suffice if from the above the origin of the earth is perceived in some measure after a natural manner.”
When therefore in the fixed matter of the earth the Creative Love has reached a lowermost basis which is absolutely inert and dead in being wholly void of the Love . itself which is its source, there can begin a reaction of the Divine force in the formation of a free voluntary agent who shall reciprocate the Divine Creative Love, and thus being at once loved and loving, the object of Divine Love and the subject of human love, fulfilling the end of creation. For the production and sustenance of such an intelligent and free agent of reciprocated love the natural world was created according to a scale of uses reaching from the lowest mineral up to the highest human and angelic capacities. By these all created things tend to the formation of an angelic heaven or a perfected and immortal human society in which the Divine Love attains the object of its desire.
” All things above mentioned, as the sun, the atmospheres, and the earths, are only means to ends ; the ends of creation are the things produced by the Lord as a sun through the atmospheres from the earths, and these ends are called USES ; they embrace in their whole extent all things of the vegetable kingdom, all things of the animal kingdom, and at length the human race, and by the human race the angelic heaven. These are called uses because they are recipients of Divine Love and Wisdom, and because they have regard to God their Creator, and thereby conjoin Him to His greatest work, and by this conjunction cause themselves to subsist from Him as they existed.”
” The uses of all created things ascend by degrees to man, and by man to God the Creator, from whom they originate.”!). L. W., No. 307.
A doctrine of the gravest importance is here conveyed, and one in which the general doctrine of discrete degrees exhibits its highest worth, namely, the utter and absolute severance of Deity from matter or from man, and thus the closing of the way to pantheism in any of the forms in which it has found abode in all monistic theories hitherto. It will appear from the foregoing statements and citations, that while the three degrees of substance, end, cause, and effect, have their counterparts respectively in God, the spiritual world, and matter, yet that God as the End, or the Being in whom the ends of creation are, is neither the spiritual sun nor the material earths, but is in these. And in these, as in all the things of His creating, He resides by virtue of the ultimate of His own Divine Degrees Love, Wisdom, and Use. The ends of the universe are not the mere product of matter as the effect of spiritual cause; but matter itself is a means by which the ends of creation are brought about, or in which the Divine degree of use as the embodiment of Divine Love and Wisdom can reside and take effect.
We are not therefore to think of matter as the lowest degree of God, but as that which God has made to be absolutely not Himself, in order that by and from it His own principle of use may be actually and constantly exercised in the raising up of beings capable of sharing and reciprocating His love. Therefore, while matter or the mineral kingdom is the lowest degree of natural substance, and is the outmost and lowest effect in the trine of being, still the ” ends of creation,” which are the uses of creation, are not the matters, the earths themselves, but “the things produced through them.” The Divine uses are indeed the effects of the higher Divine Degrees of Love and Wisdom, which are end and cause, but these uses reside in the ultimates, and so in all the ascending degrees of creation, not as being the things themselves, but as finding in them their forms, embodiments, and means. And thus it is that “all effects or ultimate ends become anew first ends, in a continual series from the Lord the Creator, who is the first, to the conjunction of man with Him, which is the last”.
It is the end residing in the effect, as end, which makes the effect to live, to thrill with the Divine living and moving principle of use; and yet it is only in the effect, as effect, that is as itself utterly and for ever discrete from cause or source, that the end can thus exert its living force and endeavour. So each degree, while operating one within and through the other, remains for ever discrete from the other. God the First, the Substance, the All of Self-existent Being, in whom we indeed do “live, and move, and have our being,” must be for ever other than the objects He created, and yet must be ever in them as their only life, their only power of endeavouring or of loving, and thus of becoming new ends in the series of universal being. The Divine must become objective to itself by the creation of things not itself, and the life of these created, things and their ends, in their series, will all be the result of the Divine Degree of Use, that is, the result of the indwelling in them, as means, of the living and ever-actuating Divine Ends of created things, which live and have being only because they are the means by which creation is for ever being effected.
How Divine Love, from its own substance, not by continuity, but by the proceeding of discrete degrees, can create things not itself as means of its own using, even to dead matter, and as objects of its own delights, as in men and angels, and how these can again, as from subjects wholly free and spontaneous, become lovers in turn of their creative and ever-sustaining source, mysterious as the problem sounds in words, is simple and manifest when viewed in the light of the doctrine of the three necessary degrees of being. For the moment I admit that I, who exist, require as a cause for my being something not myself, yet without which I am nothing, or never would have been ; or, the moment I admit that all the instrumental causes by which existing things are must themselves be the result of some prior end or motive, as no cause exists except there were a motive which it sub serves that moment I have conceived and intelligently defined that link which alike connects and eternally divides the discrete degrees of being, and which therefore distinguishes the Creator from the created; and in the Creator the degrees of His own being ; and in the created universe the degrees of its own existence.
The moment I conceive of an “other” to conscious being, which ” other ” the conscious being can become aware of only as that ” other “becomes a part of its own consciousness, that moment I form at least a mental image of a creation or production by discrete degrees. For that mental act, wherein I discern between myself as conscious and some other being as the object of my consciousness, whether it be by affection, or thought, or sensation, at the same time establishes a division of all that exists into at least two existences, present and actual viz. the conscious being and the ” other ” of which it is conscious. Carrying this discrimination beyond the limitations of my own being even to the eternal and infinite I find that such a division of being, being now possible, may have been always possible; that a contemplation of being, as involving both subject and object, is warranted by reason and experience. If we ask the reason of this first discrimination of being into subject and object, we find it in the nature of Love itself as demanding an object on which to dwell ; if we ask the means by which the loving subject can procure an object to itself, we find it is in the creating of substances from itself which shall be not itself ; if we ask how can this created object respond to the demands of Creative Love, we find it will be in becoming itself a spontaneous loving subject. Thus the eternal end procures to itself a cause by which it produces the effect in which its ends are reached. That first step from the consciousness of self to consciousness of an ” other ” which can be an object of love, is the first step in the process of creation by discrete degrees. Whether that “other” be the very first sphere of spiritual life, substance, and power proceeding from Deity itself, and constituting a spiritual sun, which shall be the great centre and medium of all creative operations ; or whether it be the natural sun as the centre and creating medium of a solar universe of the natural world ; or whether it be the grain of hard and motionless sand on the sea-shore, these are all equally “not-God,” they are all absolutely void of life and power and substance of themselves ; and the power of the All-Creating First Substance to produce the utterly dead, inert matter of our earth from itself without its being itself is no more strange or inexplicable than the power to emit from itself a sphere of the highest vital forces and substances, such as constitute the spiritual sun ; for one equally with the other of these projections of being in distinct planes is really involved in the primary fact of the division of the totality of being into the self-conscious, and an object of that consciousness and this division we know from momentary experience now exists, and therefore must have had an original existence in the beginning of creation itself.
If, then, the process of creation consisted in its first step in this production by the Creative Source of something other than itself, the reason, nay, the necessity, of such a self-division of Being lies in the nature of that Creative Source in, namely, that the inmost being and substance, alike of Deity as it is of created man, is essential Love. This Creative Love, producing an ” other ” as the object of its delight, can be governed from the first by only the self-imposed law of removal by discrete and not continuous degrees. It is not by merging and mingling Himself indiscriminately in creation that the Creator could form an object of His love, but by removing by an absolutely impassable gulf the created from the Creator, the finite from the infinite. Therefore ” we are to beware of thinking that the sun of the spiritual world is God Himself ; for that sun is not God, but is the first proceeding of the Divine Love, which is essential spiritual heat, and of the Divine Wisdom, which is essential spiritual light.” D. L. W., Nos. 93-97.
” As the things which constitute the sun of the spiritual world are from the Lord, and are not the Lord, therefore they are not life in itself, but are void of life in itself ; just as the things which flow from an angel or a man, and constitute the sphere (of his thoughts or his affections), are not the angel or the man, but are from them, void of their life. And these proceeding spheres make one with the angel or the man only in the degree that they accord with them, being derived from the forms of their body, which were the forms of their life in them.” Seeing, then, that the first thing of creation, the first proceeding sphere of Divine effluence, which is nothing else than the sphere of the Divine Love and Wisdom flowing forth as creative Heat and Light from a spiritual sun, is absolutely not God, the severance of this created plane of existence from its source in the eternal Being is in nowise different in kind although differing in degree from that separation between God and the lowest mineral. But the purpose of creative love is not attained until it has formed an image of Itself which can act from a consciousness of absolute independence and severance from Deity ; which, while recipient of the only, the Divine Life of love and wisdom in its mental receptacles of will and intellect, may yet act with absolute freedom, and by the exercise of its own rational judgment. Such an image of God to return the love of God freely must be, as it were, a new creative centre and beginning, a new source of power and motion ; his will must burn with the creative fires of love ; his intellect must shine with the informing light of truth. All this must be, and yet he must not be God, for as such he could not be the object of God’s love. In him God’s love and wisdom must have assumed forms or states in which they are no longer Divine but human. What are these forms by which the spheres of intelligent life and love from God become not God, but objective to God, and the subject in man?
They are the forms of human thinking and feeling, as distinct from the divine. These distinctive forms of human feeling and thinking are the mental forms of The conditions necessary to the creation of a free and voluntary loving subject by an Infinite Source of creative love are that there be a world of times and spaces. It is in such a world only that a human life of will and intelligence can begin and develop in a sense of absolute separation, finitude, and independence of Deity. In a natural world, and in the thoughts and feelings of a natural mind, with all the gross delusions of sense and the limitations of matter, mast that life begin which can develop an image of God in the form of a man and an angel capable of receiving and reciprocating freely the Love of the Creator.
But that times and spaces may exist we have seen that matter must exist, as that fixed and dead and inert basis in which the proceeding spheres of creative life rest and terminate. Here these spheres find term and limit. Here they are self-limited. Here is found the dividing line between the lowest degree of conscious and active life, and that which is absolutely unconscious, inert, dead. Until this basis of absolute inertia is reached, there is still lacking that utmost removal of finite from infinite which is necessary in order to form the basis of a new degree of conscious being. In this sensation of the dead and inert and unsubstantial as the veritably real and substantial, and in this conviction that sensuous knowledge is the only knowledge of which the mind is capable, man, like the brute animal, takes his position at the utmost possible remoteness from the Divine Self-consciousness. And from this standpoint he begins his ascent upward to Deity ; not to be merged into its infinite abyss by the gradual losing of these perceived limitations, but by becoming, in constantly higher degrees, a form for the reception and exercise of Divine Love in the pursuit of its ultimate end the creation of a perfect human society, in a heaven of angels.
These human forms of the Divine uses become in their ascent discretely separated from the merely animal forms, by the creation in man of a spiritual mind above the natural mind. By this spiritual nature, between which and the animal or sensual intervenes the rational plane of the mind, man is capable of rising out of the natural limitations of his life, of thinking apart from time and space, and of loving things above the body and its sensual life. The soul of man, therefore, while born and given its basis of human individuality in a body of earth and a mind shaped from notions of time and space, does not die when its material body dies, but continues to live in the spiritual world, preserving from its natural form of thought its finite personality, but capable of living in a world of spiritual substance, and of progressing there indefinitely in the exercise and enjoyment of the Divine gifts of life of which he is the constant recipient.
In the perfect life of a human society in the spiritual world, in which the inflowing Love of God finds free and intelligent exercise in the mutual love and service of man to man, and in their adoring recognition and love of God as its source, the Desire of Creative Love is satisfied, the Ends of Creation are attained.
It is because we think from time and space that we necessarily draw so broad a line of discrimination between the degrees of creation at that point where living substance and force become dead, inert matter. But it is because this is the outmost, the extreme opposite to living, self-moving substance that here creation terminates and rests. We think naturally of matter as substance ; and it is necessary that we should first think naturally in order to become intelligent and voluntary recipients of spiritual thought and life. Did not Creative life terminate in matter, as that which is so manifestly without life as to be known and distinguished from all other existence by the fact that it is inanimate and inert, that is, lifeless then we would in so far have no objective world for our consciousness, and existence would be to us like a dream from which we could never wake, instead of being the world as we know it. But if we would in our metaphysics rise into the plane of causes, we must rise above this plane of natural thinking from time and space, and must think from the plane of spiritual realities. We must think of spiritual things of thoughts and affections, and, above all, of the Divine Love and Wisdom, as actual substances. These things exist they exist as powers ; they exist as the powers, the reasons, the causes, without which nothing natural could exist, because matter has no power of creating or moving or forming itself ; therefore in these spiritual things we may readily recognise the causative plane of being : their part in the sum total of ” all that is” is the part of the mediate degree in the trine of end, cause, and effect. But these spiritual things exist not alone as the reasons and the forming or determining cause of things, but as the substances themselves.
Apart from bodily sensation, things have no other substance for us than the substance they have to our thoughts and feelings, or the existence they have to our minds. I do not say in our minds as if they had no objective being ; for our own thoughts become objects of our thinking and our affection when ultimated in things we say or do or make, or even when contemplated in themselves as pure mental creations. They exist to our minds as substances, not by virtue of the momentary and occasional contact of bodily sense, but by virtue of the substance and form they have in our thought of them and affection from them. Things that we have seen and touched we know substantially, not alone when in contact with our organs of sense, but when entirely removed from sensuous cognition. A thing we have never seen or felt or thought of has therefore no substantial being so far as WE are concerned. If there be, indeed, no minutest or remotest particle of matter but what affects us in some indirect way by physical contact, then the whole natural world still exists to us, or has substantial being, only by virtue of its appeal to our consciousness through our sensations. But if, on the other hand, it be true that there are innumerable material things and vast universes of matter which do not thus exist to our sensuous affection or knowledge, still this, fact does not necessarily remove them from the realm of real existence. Yea, even though they exist not to us, still they exist to Him who knows all, and who in His Divine Wisdom, from His Divine Love, is everywhere present. Existing to the Divine mind, they have there-from, or as forms of Divine consciousness, their existence and all the substantial being they possess.
Therefore the new metaphysics is as far as possible from asserting the non-existence of matter, or the dependence of matter for its existence on the conscious thought of man. Matter is a Divine absolute fact, and is the substratum on which all our human consciousness is built up ; but it derives its whole existence from God as the only real substance, and it exists only as the forms which Divine Love and Wisdom, the Self-conscious, and the Creator of all consciousness and of all forms of sensation, rest. It is that ” other than itself ” which Self-originating and Self-conscious Being is compelled to create by the laws of existence itself which the very knowledge we have of the ” all that exists,” as involving in itself an end, a cause, and an effect, demand as a necessary postulate.
If, however, we seek for substance and form in matter, rather than in the spiritual or mental creation which it represents to our senses, we shall surely fail to find either the one or the other there. As for substance, there is nothing discoverable in matter which is not destructible, perishable, evanescent, and changing. Whatever we may mean when we boldly generalize the law that the total volume of matter is invariable, and that matter is accordingly indestructible, we surely do not mean that there is any known particle of matter which cannot be destroyed or changed into something else. It is, then, only of matter as a whole that we can say it is indestructible. But what is matter “as a whole ” ? Is it the totality of matter as now existing ? But in the twinkling of an eye this vanishes away in the changes that are every instant occurring throughout the whole physical universe. All that remains unchanged, undiminished, unimpaired ” as a whole,” is not matter but it is substance, that alone from which matter borrows its ever-changing being.
But what is it that changes this abiding substance into the changing forms of matter 1 Or, in other words, if we do not find substance in matter, shall we not at least find form there 1 Shape, indeed, we shall find as the spatial dimension which the natural world gives to objects of sensation in the natural mind, but we shall find no form in matter itself as a property. For form is that which determines things into this or that shape, and thus fits them for this or that use. All the forms of use are mental creations, for they are all acts of designing intelligence, being intelligent adaptations of means to ends. Therefore forms as intelligent powers cannot reside in matter itself, but must reside in some spiritual agent to which matter is entirely subject.
We see, then, that matter, while neither substance in itself nor form in itself, is created, that is, has its whole existence, out of that substance and form which is spiritual. Its existence, then, while a most real existence, is real in the degree that, and because the Divine Love and Wisdom as creative Substance and Form make it to be. These make it to be as the effect of what they are the end and the cause. They make it to be because such is the means they require for accomplishing their own use. For the Divine Will to desire a material world is to give it substance, since all substance originates in the Divine Will or Love ; for the Divine Mind to think a material world, from that desire, is to give a material world form, since all form originates in the Divine Wisdom ; and for the Divine Love and Wisdom to proceed in creation through created means to the ends of creation, is to give a material world an objective, tangible, visible existence in time and space to give it shape to make it, what it is, an outmost plane of lifeless, inert effect from which conscious life may seemingly begin anew and develop with free human rationality, liberty, and love. Matter is the translation of substance into bodily sense of time and space.
Author: FRANK SEWALL, From The New Metaphysics (1888)