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THE UTTERINGS OF
moments when man feels that if life were but made up of such, he would need no other heaven.
And these are the moments when the spirit of man, Sibyl-like, may be questioned of the future; for the divine rage is upon her, and her foreboding instincts are the earnest of what is to be.
This argument from analogy, it will occur to the reader, is similar to that which has so often been made in proof of the soul's immortality. A universal desire must have an ultimate correspondence. But, if we look closely at it, the argument will be seen to prove much more than continued existence. The desire has a certain definiteness. In its purest type, it is not a vague, coward dread of annihilation; it is not a mere selfish longing to be. The instinct is of far nobler aim and wider scope than this: it is the voice of the IDEAL in man; and it teaches not one lesson, but many. It calls up before him a thousand varied images of the Grand, and the Good, and the Beautiful, and tells him, "These are for thee." It appeals to the divinity within him, and declares, "This thou mayest be." But as it is to man, so it is of man, that it speaks,-of man's capabilities, of man's career, of the excellence that he may attain,he, the human creature, and not another. The desires it awakens are of corresponding character.
But, if we are to take a present desire for proof of a future condition, let us make clear to ourselves what that desire demands. Does it crave, at this stage of its progress, another nature or sublimer dreams? No; but only that this nature might maintain the elevation which its aspirations have sometimes reached,-only that its dream-glimpses of moments might have reality and endurance in a purer atmosphere and under a orighter sky.
It is a stage for the unchecked exercise of earthly
THE PRESAGING VOICE.
virtues, toward which, as yet, the heart's magnet points. The good which we would, yet did not, that we would still do. The human virtues which we have loved more than practiced, these we would still cherish and exemplify. The human affections which have suffered shipwreck and pined for some quiet haven, they, too, still hope for exercise, still yearn for satisfaction. Our devotional impulses, also, are rife and aspirant, imploring better knowledge and a clearer light. Yet they constitute but one emotion out of many. They interest deeply, they elevate; but they do not engross.
The prophetic voice, then,—the divine foreboding,— speaks not of one life completed and another to comIt indicates not, as the next phase of existence, a Day of Judgment on which hope must die, and then (but for the blessed alone) a heaven too immaculate for progress, too holy for human avocation or human endeavor. Its presentiments are of a better world, but of a world still,—the abode of emancipated spirits, but of human spirits,—a world where there is work to do, a race to run, a goal to reach,—a world where we shall find, transplanted from earth to a more genial land, energy, courage, perseverance, high resolves, benevolent actions, Hope to encourage, Mercy to plead, and Love--the earth-clog shaken off that dimmed her purity—still selecting her chosen ones, but to be separated from them
Such are the utterings of the presaging voice. A state, then, suddenly reached, in which one class only of our emotional impulses should find scope for development or opportunity for action, would leave man's instinct, except in a single phase, unanswered and unsatisfied. There would be an initiative, and no correspondence; a promise, and no fulfillment; a preparation, and no result. Our earth-life would, indeed, be succeeded by
MAN REMAINS HUMAN.
another; yet in itself it would forever remain frag mentary and incomplete.
If, then, we have accepted man's universal desire for immortality as proof that his spirit is immortal, let us accept also the trendings of that desire as foreshadowings of the Paradise to which that spirit is bound.
Thus, by the light of analogy alone, we find every probability in favor of the conclusion that, in the next phase of his existence, man does not cease to be the human creature he is, and that the virtues, the occupations, and the enjoyments that await him in Hades are as many and various as those which surround him here, -better, indeed, brighter, of nobler type and more extended range, but still supplemental only, as appertaining to a second stage of progression,-to a theater fairer than this, yet not wholly disconnected from it,—to a land not yet divine, but in which may be realized the holiest aspirations of earth.
A step beyond this it is still, perhaps, permitted to go. If there be footfalls on the boundary of another world, let us listen to their echoes and take note of the indications these may afford.
I do not pretend that there is to be found in the examples adduced in this volume sufficient to mark fully and distinctly the character of our next phase of life; and I will not at the present go beyond these. Yet, few in number as are the indications, they touch on masterinfluences.
Eminent among these is one clearly to be derived from many of the preceding narratives,*-an earnest of social progress in the future, which we may hail with joy and
* As in the case of Mary Goffe, and of Mrs. E, (see "The Dying Mother and her Babe;") also in that of Mr. Wynyard, of Captain G(see "The Fourteenth of November,”) and, indeed, in all cases in which the spirit is alleged to have appeared soon after death to some beloved survivor.
should accept with gratitude. If any reliance can be placed on some of the best-authenticated incidents recorded in the foregoing pages, they not only prove (what, indeed, we might rationally assume) that it is the body only which imposes the shackles of distance, but they afford evidence also that the released spirit instinctively seeks its selected ones, and attains in a moment the spot where cluster its affections.
But if, beyond a sound body, a clear conscience, and an absence of the fear of want, we look around us, in this world, in search of that one circumstance which above all others stamps our lot in life as fortunate or the reverse, where shall we find it? When we picture to ourselves some happy prospect in the future, some tranquil retreat whence care shall be excluded and where contentment will dwell, what is the essential to that earthly paradise? Who that deserves such blessing but has the answer on his lips?
In the deepest regrets of the Past, how legibly is that answer written! We meet, among our fellow-creatures, with some, as to whom we feel how mighty for good, upon our minds and hearts, is their power; we have glimpses of others, whose very atmosphere sheds over us a glow of happiness. The stream sweeps us apart, and we find the same influence on earth no more.
But if, hereafter, the principle of insulation that prevails throughout this earthly pilgrimage is to give place to the spirit of communion unchecked by space; if, in another phase of life, desire is to correspond to locomotion; if, there, to long for association is to obtain it, if to love is to mingle in the society of the loved; what an element, not of passive feeling but of active organization, is Sympathy destined to become! And how much that would render this world too blessed to leave is in store for us in another!
If we sit down, in our calmest and most dispassionate
WE ARE JOURNEYING TOWARD
moments, to consider how much of our highest and least selfish pleasures, moral, social, intellectual, has been due to a daily interchange of thought and feeling between kindred minds and hearts, and if we reflect that all the other losses and crosses of life have been as nothing when compared with those which, by distance and by death, our severed sympathies and affections have suffered, we may be led to conclude that the single change above indicated as appertaining to our next phase of life will suffice there to assure a happy existence to pure minds and genial hearts; to those who in this world, erring and frail as they may have been, have not wholly quenched the spirit of light; with whom the voice within has still been more potent than the din without; who have cherished, if often in silence and secret, God's holy instincts, the flowers that are still to bloom; and who may hope in that Hereafter, where like will attract its like, to find a home where never shall enter the Summoning Angel to announce the separation of its inmates,-a home of unsundered affections among the just and good.
I might proceed to touch on other indications scarcely less important or less encouraging than the preceding, but which, in the examples furnished in this work,* are less palpably marked; as that when, at death, the earthmask drops, the mind and the heart are unvailed, and thoughts are discerned without the intervention of words; so that, in the spirit-land, we "shall know even as we are known." It will, then, be a land of TRUTH, where deceit will find no lurking-place, and where the
* The prayer offered by Mrs. W. (see narrative entitled "The Rejected Suitor") was a silent one; and those who have obtained similar communications know well that a mental question usually suffices to procure a pertinent answer. This phenomenon of thought-reading I have myself verified again and again.