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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 504
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 exist
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 pertipent answer.
This phenomenon of thought-reading I have myself verified again and again.
A LAND OF LOVE AND TRUTH.
word “falsehood” will designate no possible sin. Can we imagine an influence more salutary, more nobly regenerating, more satisfying to the heart, than this?
But I pause, and check the impulse to amplify the picture. Hereafter, it may be, in possession of more copious materials, I may be enabled better to carry out such a task.
Meanwhile, in pursuit of my immediate object, there needs not, perhaps, further elaboration. I may have adduced sufficient argument in proof that the hypothesis of spirit-visitation involves no absurd postulate. I may also, perhaps, have proved to the satisfaction of a portion of my readers, that the common conceptions of death are false,—that death is not, as Plato argued and as millions believe, the opposite of life, but only the agency whereby life changes its phase.
Yet I know how fast-rooted are long-cherished opinions. Even while I have been writing, I have occasionally been fain to tolerate current phrases of faulty import. Although in the preceding pages, for the sake of being intelligible, I have employed the expressions “on this side the grave,” “beyond the tomb," and the like, these, as applied to human beings, are, strictly speaking, inaccurate. We have nothing to do with the grave. We do not descend to the tomb. It is a cast-off garment, encoffined, to which are paid the rites of sepulture.
“In completing this design, I am ignorant neither of the greatness of the
work, nor of my own incapacity. My hope, however, is, that if the love of my subject carry me too far, I may, at least, obtain the excuse of affection. It is not granted to man to love and be wise."-Bacon.
BEFORE I part from the reader, he may desire to ask me whether I conceive the reality of occasional spiritual interference to be here conclusively made out.
I prefer that he should take the answer from his own deliberate judgment. In one respect, he is, probably, better qualified to judge than I. It is not in human nature to ponder long and deeply any theory,—to spend years in search of its proofs and in examination of its probabilities,—yet maintain that nice equanimity which accepts or rejects without one extraneous bias. He who simply inspects may discriminate more justly than he whose feelings have been enlisted in collecting and collating
Yet I will not withhold the admission that, after putting the strictest guard on the favoritism of parentage, I am unable to explain much of what my reason tells me I must here receive as true, on any other hypothesis than the ultramundane.
Where there are clear, palpable evidences of thought, of intention, of foresight, I see not how one can do otherwise than refer these to a thinker, an intender, a foreseer. Such reference appears to me not rational only, but necessary. If I refuse to accept such manifestations of intelligence as indicating the workings of a
ADMISSIONS DEMANDED BY REASON.
rational mind,—if I begin to doubt whether some mechanical or chemical combination of physical elements may not put on the semblance of reason and counterfeit the expression of thought,then I no longer perceive the basis of my own right to assume that the human forms which surround me have minds to think or hearts to feel. If our perceptions of the forest, and the ocean, and the plain, are to be accepted as proofs that there really is a material world around us, shall we refuse to receive our perceptions of thoughts and feelings other than our own, as evidence that some being, other than ourselves, exists, whence these emanate?* And if that being belong not to the visible world, are we not justified in concluding that it has existence in the invisible ?
That the rational being of which we thus detect the agency is invisible, invalidates not at all the evidence we receive. It is but a child's logic which infers that, where nothing is seen, nothing exists.
As to the mode and place of existence of these invisible beings, Taylor's conjecture may be the correct one, when he supposes,
“That within the field occupied by the visible and ponderable universe, and on all sides of us, there is existing and moving another element, fraught with another
* Thus argues an elegant and logical mind:—“On the table before us a needle, nicely balanced, trembles, and turns, as with the constancy of love, towards a certain spot in the arctic regions; but a mass of iron, placed near it, disturbs this tendency and gives it a new direction. We assume, then, the presence of an element universally diffused, of which we have no direct perception whatever. Now, let it be imagined that the sheets of a manuscript, scattered confusedly over the table and the floor, are seen to be slowly adjusting themselves according to the order of the pages, and that at last every leaf and every loose fragment has come into its due place and is ready for the compositor. In such a case we should, without any scruple, assume the presence of an invisible rational agent, just as in the case of the oscillations of the needle we had assumed the presence of an invisible elementary power.”—TAYLOR'S “Physical Theory of Another Life,” London, 1839, p. 244.