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monster might inhabit it; poisonous serpents were probably nestled at the entrance, courting the cool breeze which their breath tainted. But this was not a time for doubt and hesitation. Merub stepped into the cave. As he timidly moved on, he thought he perceived a soft luminous whiteness at a distance. It was like the first faint speck in the East, which the benighted traveller strains his eyes to discover. But the dawn-like spot became more distinct as he advanced. Trembling, yet hoping, he hastened on, and it might be truly said that the white light was now beginning to make the darkness of the cavern visible. By degrees the soft splendour increased, and already the lovely face of a female became distinguishable. But though Merub approached, so that, had she spoken, he must have heard her distinctly, yet no figure, either human or otherwise, could be seen supporting this beautiful face.—This prodigy was too much for the youth, and he stopped, trembling. Moved by an internal impulse, he gently fell upon his knees. He would fain have raised his eyes to heaven, but the immense thick rock was above him. He was too much weaned from his idolatry, too much disgusted with the worship in which he had grown, to address himself in prayer to any thing visible,—else that lovely face would have extorted his devotions. But he turned his thoughts within himself, searching the eternal source of mind in his own soul. “If I cannot reach the fountain head of spiritual life, I will pray by the streamlet which I derive from it, as my countrymen worship on the banks of the Ganges, because the source is distant and high. Eternal spring of my mind and intellect, (he went on in fervent prayer,) since thou knowest that I search for Truth, and that all other love fades in my heart when opposed to that which I bear to that lovely attribute of thy Being, forsake me not when I feel on the brink of despair !"
" Approach, Merub,” said a voice as sweet as that of the nightingale. Merub stood on his feet with difficulty. The brambles, and the points of the rock had lacerated them deeply : and the agitation of his whole frame was by itself enough to weaken the power of sounder limbs. “Who art thou, that thus infusest life into my exhausted body ?" said Merub, with courage which seemed inspired.—"I am the Genius of Truth ; the emblematic representative of what infinitely exceeds the knowledge of the highest created being. Approach, and I will reveal to you mysteries which are hid from most men. Yet do not flatter yourself with the hope of science or learning. The universe will remain to you what it was before ;-but the eye of your mind will be opened to see yourself; and the temper of your heart will be revealed by the choice you will make; for a choice will be given to you."
Merub came still nearer the heavenly face. Forgetting his former pain, and bolder with admiration than if he had been intoxicated with wine—“Oh,” he exclaimed, “ be thou my bride.” “Poor mortal,” (answered the voice with a solemn tone, but without indignation,) “it is but a few moments ago that thou doubtedst the existence of Truth, and now because thou seest but a reflected ray of her coun. tenance, thou stretchest thy puny arms to embrace her, as if she was made only for thee. Dost thou wish to scoop the sea with the hollow of thy hand ? Look forward, and be humble.”
Merub stretched his view to the utmost, and saw that the vision of the glorious face stood, like a reflection of light and shadow, before the body of an immense serpent, which could
hardly be distinguished in the darkness which enveloped it. It seemed to lie in immense convolutions for thousands of roods. The extent of the cavern would have defeated the ken of the most powerful human eye, had not this wonderful animal sparkled at irregular, but not very distant points, with light like that of the stars after the rainy season. By the help of these spangles, the farthest end of the cavern was, at intervals, visible, though not perfectly. It seemed to open into a region of light, where the coils of the serpent disappeared, as if melting into a sea of crystal. But the eye of Merub became clouded at that moment, and he fell down into a swoon.
He knew not how long he had remained insensible ; but refreshed as if by a charm, he stood again before the lovely face.—" Merub,” said the vision, “ you know not that you bear within yourself that Truth for which you pant.”“How can that be, oh glorious angel,” replied the youth, " when I perceive nothing but darkness in my mind ?” “Do not mistake me,” said the vision ; " Truth itself extends in darkness throughout this visible universe, and expands into an unfathomable sea of glory beyond it. But no man is born without some rays of its light in his soul. Their misery arises from the careless and irreverent manner in which they treat this heavenly gift.-Approach, and I will show you what you never suspected." Merub approached, and the vision breathed on his forehead. The fragrance of the breath was purer than that of a valley of roses and white lilies, when swept by the first evening breeze after the heat of noon. A circular piece, as of glass, detached itself without pain, and Merub lost all perception, except of himself within, of the voice which spoke, and of this curious part of himself, with which he had now become acquainted. Innumerable and strange were the figures which, painted as if by the aid of the most powerful microscope, he observed drawn on its small surface. Some of these figures were originally monstrous in shape and colouring, and had become more hideous by being rudely scratched without being defaced. Others there were, the original drawing of which was regular and beautiful; yet some un. skilful hand had rendered them more hideous than even the former, by the absurd additions and changes which with perverse industry it had contrived. Merub's spirit was exceedingly troubled at this view. “What is it I behold ?” asked the youth.—“Your natural organ of truth,” answered the voice. “Did I then take these figures—these horrid monsters, I should say—for the truth ?”—“Yes," was the reply. “Listen,” continued the voice, "and I will explain this wonder. Every human being bears this piece of glass invisibly fixed in his forehead. It is his organ of Truth. At first it is perfectly free from pictures of any kind. But the reflection of the external world very soon begins to draw delicate copies of some of the infinite shapes in which Truth appears in this lower region. Soon, however, the perverse industry of other men, using coarse, earthy colours, obscure the glass more or less, so that the light of heavenly Truth cannot penetrate to the mind. I will not stop to describe the different gradations of darkness which these pictures produce, and the variety of monsters which they present to the mind. Some men (as you have known) have a degree of perception of their darkness and the hideousness of the images impressed upon them. Rashly and inconsiderately indeed do they undertake the work of correcting them. Instead of turning the delicate organ of Truth towards Heaven, and endeavouring, by means of the rays of light, which never fail, more or less, to pass through the false and gross images painted by other men and ourselves on the glass—instead of separating the copies of natural images from the fanciful and absurd representations of men's dreams, ardent minds like yours call their most violent passions and wishes to assist them in clearing away the pictures. But here they fall into a great and dangerous delusion; for, far from clearing the glass, and making it pervious to the rays of Heavenly Truth, they cover it with new monsters. At one time, the bloated image of Pleasure is laid on it in the coarsest and most glaring colours, and the mind settles that only Pleasure is Truth. At another season, and generally when these coarse colours peel off, and, breaking into scaly fragments, make the monstrous figure appear struck with leprosy, many men paint themselves, and nothing else, on the glass, and call their own figure Truth. Others cover it with gold and silver ; not a few fill it up with slaves in chains. But I cannot describe, one by one, the numerous devices which occupy the glass or organ of Truth, generally by the wilful contrivance of each individual. This is the case with the mass of mankind. But the spirited and impatient not unfrequently so utterly scratch the glass as to render it incapable of conveying any thing but confusion to the mind. These men, forgetting that the labyrinth they perceive is their own work, refer it entirely to the universe, and firmly believe that Truth is the name of a Fiction. Had not Heaven protected you, it is very probable that your organ of Truth would have been reduced to that semiopaque state which lets in the light of Heaven into the recesses of the mind only to show how dark they are. But it is time that we conclude this interview. You have been conducted here to settle the future state of your organ of