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Questions Answered Extempore by Miss Emma Hardinge 1866

 

Question 4

 

WHAT was the state of the human race in its first creation, and what did it lose by the fall?

 

Answer

 

YOUR questions are so shaped as to make one answer another. What was the state of the flora and the fauna in the earliest periods of the earth’s history? The flora was rough, rude, coarse, simple; the fauna were either strange, grotesque, and monstrous, or else humble molluscs, or simple radiata. The vertebrate animal and mammalia came at length, - but came as growths in the progressive order of nature. What then must have been the first condition of humanity, when the atoms of matter were sublimated enough (by passing through immense varieties of animal forms) to produce man? He came as did the flora and fauna. Whenever the conditions for life were fitted to originate him, and wherever in every part of the known world there was a capacity to produce man, thus did he come, in harmony with the development of all other forms of being, and in no special or different mode. “The fall! ”The fall from what? From ignorance to knowledge! is that a fall? From barbarism to civilisation! from infancy to manhood! Thus, and thus only, has man fallen; - in no other sense, that we can discover. Even if we could accept of that which lacks all scientific authority - that is, authority in aught but the allegorical mode of representing the exodus of mankind from its state of innocence into knowledge, as rendered in the Jewish Scriptures - if we could accept of any other historical account of the origin of man than that which nature, science, and the harmonies of both point out, our reverence for the Great Architect of creation would induce us to deny the possibility that He could make any mistake in His creation, or so great a failure in His all-wise purposes as you imply in the term of “The fall.” How would you deem of any human workman who should fashion a machine with the intention that it should perform a certain work and who so failed to accomplish his purpose, that in anger or disgust at


 

Addresses by EHB                                       98

its failure he should next proceed to destroy it? and yet more - after having condemned his first work as worthless, that he should hit upon no other mode of improving on his failure than the re-creation of a machine similar to the old! We have before, in this place, been compelled to point to the fact, that we accept of the historical account of “the fall of man” rendered in your Scriptures, as that which Christ and his apostles claimed it to be - “and allegory” - the teaching of the “letter which killeth,” requiring the interpretation of the Spirit to make that Scripture life and wisdom. Were we to take the entire of the history of the Jewish Scriptures and measure them by the definition rendered by St Paul - himself one of the noblest and best of the theological writers amongst the Jews - we should say that even the history of Abraham and Sarah, according to him, “is an allegory,” - “which things are an allegory,” he writes. We need not enquire into these mysticisms now; it is enough for us to know that science now gives us absolute proofs concerning the origin of material forms, the construction of society, and the growth of civilisation, knowledge, and human history. All this carries us back to Central Asia, where strange, rude troglodite remains of humanity, are the first monuments of the race, and these represent a people of whom we have even no history, no tradition. A small, dwarfish, woolly-headed race are there sculptured; and from this alone, besides innumerable other sources of witness, we may gather something of our first view of primeval man upon this earth. Why do we question so doubtfully the origin of man, more than that of any other being or form of being? Science assures us that we need but place the conditions for life in order anywhere, to ensure its manifestation. Associate moisture, air, heat, and solid matter together, assemble the elements of life, whether in the vegetable or animal world, in due juxtaposition, and we have life - life in the insect, reptile, animal, or the vegetable form. All things are tending to life: is man alone an exception ”No! It is the glory and sublimity of creation to recognise that its grandest and culminating points of existence - man, proceeds in the march of the ages just where he should be, as the last work performed in the grand laboratory, but ultimated by the same simple and sublime laws that pervade all nature beside. It is in reverence for God’s laws rather than scepticism of what man calls “His Word,” that we believe the Creator has made NO FAILURE IN CREATION.

 

We reject, therefore, the literal interpretation of the fall, as rendered by a literal interpretation of your Scriptures; and, whilst we believe that the babe falls from the state of pure, angelic innocence - which is, after all, but ignorance - to the condition of manhood, which in the knowledge of good and evil may prove him to be no longer the ignorant and innocent, but the very guilty man, so do we recognise that humanity changes by growth, and in that sense, and in no other, do we recognise a fall for man.

 

Question 5 - March 19th, 1866