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THE CHIEF REQUISITES.

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a breadth and importance and winning a degree of attention which will be felt by the better portion of the press as entitling it to that respectful notice which is the due of a reputable opponent. And surely this is as it should be. Let the facts be as they may, the duty of the press and of the pulpit is best fulfilled, and the dangers incident to the subject are best averted, by promoting, not discouraging, inquiry;* but inquiry, thorough, searching, sedulously accurate, and in the strictest sense of the term impartial.

The first requisite in him who undertakes such an investigation--more important, even, than scientific training to accurate research—is that he shall approach it unbiased and unpledged, bringing with him no favorito theory to be built up, no preconceived opinions to be gratified or offended, not a wish that the results should be found to be of this character or of that character, but a single, earnest desire to discover of what character they are.

To what extent I bring to the task such qualifications, they who may read these pages can best decide. No man is an impartial judge of his own impartiality. I distrust mine I am conscious of a disturbing element; a leaning in my mind, aside from the simple wish to detect what really is. Not that on the strictest selfscrutiny I can accuse myself of a desire to foist into such an inquiry any preconceptions, scientific or theolo

phenomena of magnetism and mesmerism; the nature of sleep and dreams, of spectral illusions, (in themselves a decisive proof that the sense of sight may be fully experienced independently of the eye ;) the limits and work. ing of mental delusion and enthusiastic excitement.”- National Review for July, 1858, p. 13.

* "Éclairons-nous sur les vérités, quelles qu'elles soient, qui se présentent à notre observation; et loin de craindre de favoriser la superstition en admettant de nouveaux phénomènes, quand ils sont bien prouvés, soyons persuadés que le seul moyen d'empêcher les abus qu'on peut en faire, c'est d'en répandre la connaissance." —BERTRAND.

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A BESETTING TEMPTATION.

gical, nor yet of the least unwillingness to accept or to surrender any opinions, orthodox or heterodox, which the progress of that inquiry might establish or disprove. Not that. But I am conscious of a feeling that has acquired strength within me as these researches progressed; a desire other than the mere readiness to inspect with dispassionate equanimity the phenomena as they appeared; an earnest hope, namely, that these might result in furnishing to the evidence of the soul's independent existence and immortality a contribution drawn from a source where such proof has seldom, until recently, been sought.

Against the leaning incident to that hope, interwoven with man's nature as it is, the explorer of such a field as this should be especially on his guard. It is one of the many difficulties with which the undertaking is beset. “It is easy,” truly said Bonnet, the learned Genevese,"it is easy and agreeable to believe; to doubt requires an unpleasant effort.”

And the proclivity to conclude on insufficient evidence is the greater when we are in search of what we strongly wish to find. Our longings overhurry our judgments.

. But what so earnestly to be desired as the assurance that death, the much dreaded, is a friend instead of an enemy, opening to us, when the dark curtain closes on earthly scenes, the portals of a better and happier existence ?

It is a common opinion that the all-sufficient and only proper source whence to derive that conviction is sacred history.

But, how strongly soever we may affirm that the Scripture proofs of the soul's immortality ought to command the belief of all mankind, the fact remains that they do not.* Some rest unbelievers; many more carry

* The number of materialists throughout the educated portion of civilized

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about with them, as to the soul's future destiny, a faith inanimate and barren; and, even among those who profess the most, the creed of the greater number may be summed up in the exclamation, “Lord, I believe: help Thou mine unbelief !”*

Since, then, no complaint is more common from the pulpit itself than of the world-wide discrepancy daily to be found, even among the most zealously pious, between faith and practice, may we not trace much of that discrepancy to the feeble grade of credence, so far below the living conviction which our senses bring home to us of earthly things, which often makes up this wavering faith?"

society, especially in Europe, is much greater than on the surface it would appear. If one broaches serious subjects, this fact betrays itself. I was conversing one day with a French lady of rank, intelligent and thoughtful beyond the average of her class, and happened to express the opinion that progression is probably a law of the next world, as of this.

“ You really believe, then, in another world ?” she asked.

“ Certainly, Madame la Comtesse."

“Ah! you are a fortunate man,” she replied, with some emotion.' “How many of us do not !

* We shall often find, in the expressions employed by distinguished men (especially the leaders in science) to express their sense of the importance of a firm religious belief, rather a desire to obtain it, and envy of those who possess it, than an assertion that they themselves have found all they sought. . Here is an eloquent example:

“I envy no qualities of the mind and intellect in others,-nor genius, nor power, nor wit, nor fancy; but if I could choose what would be most delightful and, I believe, most useful to me, I should prefer a firm religious belief to every other blessing. For it makes life a discipline of goodness, creates new hopes when all earthly hopes vanish, and throws over the decay, the destruction, of existence, the most gorgeous of all lights ; awakens life in death, and calls out from corruption and decay beauty and everlasting glory.”—SIR HUMPHRY DAVY.

† One among a thousand illustrations of this discrepancy is to be found in the bitter anguish-the grief refusing to be comforted-with which survivors often bewail the dead; a grief infinitely more poignant than that with which they would see them embark for another hemisphere, if it were even without expectation of their return and with no certainty of their

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CAUSES OF SKEPTICISM.

It is important also to distinguish among those who go by the general name of unbelievers.

Of these, a few deny that man has an immortal soul; others allege that they have as yet found no conclusive proof of the soul's ultramundane existence: and the latter are much more numerous than the former.

The difference between the two is great. The creed of the one may be taxed with presumption, of the other with insufficiency only. The one profess already to have reached the goal; the others declare that they are still on the road of inquiry.

But as to these latter, any additional class of proofs we can find touching the nature of the soul are especially important. Here we come upon the practical bearings of the question. For, while men diversely constituted and so variously trained as we find them, the same evidence will never convince all minds. And it is equally unchristian,* unphilosophical, and

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bappiness. If we do not forget, do we practically realize, that article of faith which teaches that it is only to us they die? The German idiomatio expression, in this connection, is as correct as it is beautiful :

“Den Oberlin hatte zuweilen die Ahnung wie ein kalter Schauer durchdrungen, dass sein geliebtes Weib ihm sterben könne.”—Das grosse Geheimniss der menschlichen Doppelnatur," Dresden, 1855.

* Matthew vii. 1. It is quite contrary to the fact to assume as to skeptics in general that they are willfully blind. Many, it is true, especially in the heyday of youth, fall into unbelief, or an indifference much resembling it, from sheer heedlessness; while some deliberately avoid the thoughts of another world, lest these should abridge their pleasures in this; but the better and probably the more numerous portion belong to neither of these classes. They scruple because difficulties are thrust upon them. They doubt unwillingly and perforce. The author of the “Eclipse of Faith" (written in reply to Newman's Phases of Faith") gives, as the confession of such a one, what is appropriate to hundreds of thousands :

“I have been rudely driven out of my old beliefs; my early Christian faith has given way to doubt; the little hut on the mountain-side, in which I had thought to dwell with pastoral simplicity, has been shattered by the tempest, and I turned out to the blast without a shelter. I have wandered long and far, but have not found that rest which you tell me is to be obtained. As I examine all other theories, they seem to me pressed by at least equal difficulties with that I have abandoned. I cannot make myself contented, as others do, with believing nothing; and yet I have nothing to believe. I have wrestled long and hard with my Titan foes, but not successfully. I have turned to every quarter of the universe in vain. I have interrogated my own soul, but it answers not. I have gazed upon nature, but its many voices speak no articulate language to me; and, more especially, when I gaze upon the bright page of the midnight heavens, those orbs gleam upon me with so cold a light and amidst so portentous a silence that I am, with Pascal, terrified at the spectacle of the infinite solitude."

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unjust to condemn one's neighbor, because the species of testimony which convinces us leaves him in doubt or disbelief. Shall we imagine a just God joining in such a condemnation? Or may we not, far more rationally, believe it probable that, in the progressive course of His economy, He may be providing for each class of minds that species of evidence which is best fitted for its peculiar nature?

A Paris physician of the highest standing, Dr. Georget, the well-known author of a Treatise on the Physiology of the Nervous System,* made his will on the 1st of March, 1826, dying shortly after. To that document a clause is appended, in which, after alluding to the fact that in the treatise above referred to he had

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*De la Physiologie du Système Nerveux, et spécialement du Cerveau." Par M. Georget, D. M. de la Faculté de Paris, ancien Interne de première classe de la division des Aliénées de l'Hospice de la Salpetrière: 2 vols., Paris, 1821.

The original text of the clause in Georget's will, above quoted from, will be found in “Rapports et Discussions de l'Academie Royale de Médecine sur le Magnetisme animal,” by M. P. Foissac, M.D., Paris, 1833, p. 289. , The exact words of his avowal are, “ À peine avais-je mis au jour la ‘ Physiologie du Système Nerveux,' que de nouvelles méditations sur un phénomène bien extraordinaire, le somnambulisme, ne me permirent plus de douter de l'existence, en nous et hors de nous, d'un principe intelligent, tout-à-fait différent des existences materielles.”

Husson, a member of the Paris Academy of Medicine, in a report to that body made in 1825, speaks of Georget as "notre estimable, laborieux, et modeste collègue.”-Foissac': Rapports et Discussions, p. 28.

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