not the road they had traveled ; but the distance appeared striking when
they became attentive to it. Primitively, men could not name objects, they must show them; not corporeally, it is true, but substantially and
by the force of thought; as those objects exist in God, and as we still
perceive them in dreams, in which there is evidently something more than imagination.*
An immediate communication of thoughts and sentiments is quite as conceivable, and even more simple than all those which are made by means more or less distant; and such a communication is so rich that it suffers no comparison with the poverty of all the others. When that primitive faculty of seeing and showing the immediate object of thought, and the natural emblem of sentiment was weakened, then, only, exterior signs came to join it. Thence the language of gestures, spoken at first more particularly by the eyes, the mouth, and the particular composition of the face, which at length introduced conventional sounds, and all exterior signs, such as are still found among the deaf and dumb; and, finally, those offered by hieroglyphics and writing the Scripture.
At the epoch when the two manners of speaking (that by natural emblems and that by articulate sounds) were mixed, then resulted the language which
is now called prophetic or extatic, in which conventional words are used only to recall the more significant emblems of nature.
It is in this last language, evidently double, we repeat, that we have
found to be written the greater number of the books which antiquity has transmitted to us as inspired. To understand the Bible, therefore, it is not enough to understand the Hebrew, the Greek, the Latin, or any other idiom into which it is translated; but it is necssary also to understand the language of nature; for the sacred writers, primitively, borrowed from the language used in their times, only the words necessary to retrace the natural images which speak of themselves. Hence those strange things found in the prophets, which have so much shocked superficial philosophers; those monstrous images, uniting the discordant members of many different animals; for, in speaking of collective societies, or of different traits of moral character in the same individual, the prophets were forced to amalgamate primitive emblems, and
to form of them compounds, such as are remarked, principally, in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Saint John. All that was entirely in the genius of the language of nature, and, consequently in the essence of things; and to ridicule the animals, the horns, the wheels covered with eyes, of the prophets, the white horse of the Apocalypse, is like those ignorant beings who laugh when they see Chinese writing or Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Unless it be admitted that by that imagination we can form Berkeley's whole world, and consequently all possible worlds.
In speaking of religious matters, Voltaire most frequently joked; he did not reason. As to Dupuis, he had not made himself master of the subject he treated. An attentive perusal of Kreutzer's symbolics, (a very useful work to the philosopher who wishes to undertake the study of the language of Nature,) furnishes evidence excluding all doubt, that the ancient pagan religions, with their different mythologies and cosmogonies, generally arose from the language of Nature misunderstood; and that, consequently, the completion of the Christian religion, the only true one, will consist in that same language being regained and carried to a certain degree of perfection.