« ПредишнаНапред »
MAN'S CHOICE BECOMES HIS JUDGE.
nor a dream of the beautiful that vanishes, during the earth-phase of life, but will find noble field and fair realization when the pilgrim has cast off his burden and reached his journey's end.
Meanwhile, what motive to exertion in self-culture can be proposed to man more powerful than the assurance, that not an effort to train our hearts or store our minds made here, in time, but has its result and its reward, hereafter, in eternity? We are the architects of our own destiny: we inflict our own punishments; we select our own rewards. Our righteousness is a meed to be patiently earned, not miraculously bestowed or mysteriously imputed. Our wickedness, too, and the inherent doom it entails, are self-imposed. We choose: and our Choice assumes place as inexorable judge. It ascends the tribunal, and passes sentence upon us; and its jurisdiction is not limited to earth. The operation of its decrees, whether penal or beneficient, extends as surely to another phase of existence as to this. When death calls, he neither deprives us of the virtues, nor relieves us of the vices, of which he finds us possessed. Both must go with us. Those qualities, moral, social, intellectual, which may have distinguished us in this world will be ours also in another, there constituting our identity and determining our position. And as the good, so the evil. That dark vestment of sin with which, in a man's progress through life, he may have become gradually endued, will cling to him, close as the tunic of Nessus, through the death-change. He, too, still remains the being he was. He retains his evil identity and decides his degraded rank. He awakes amid the torment of the same base thoughts and brutal passions that controlled him here, and that will attract to him, in the associates of his new life, thoughts as base and passions as brutal. Is there in the anticipation of a material Hell, begirt with flames, stronger influence to deter from
PNEUMATOLOGY OF THE BIBLE.
vice, than in the terrible looming up of an inevitable fate like that?
Inevitable, but not eternal. While there is life, there is hope; and there is life beyond the vail.
But I should be commencing another volume, instead of terminating the present, were I to enlarge on the benefits that may accrue from spiritual agency. The task I set to myself was to treat of an antecedent inquiry; an inquiry into the reality, not into the advantages, of ultramundane intervention. With a single additional observation, then, touching the bearings of that inquiry on the credence of the Christian world, I here close my task.
It is not possible to rise from the perusal of the Scriptures, Old or New, without feeling that the verity of communication with the Invisible World is the groundwork of all we have read. This is not a matter left to inference or construction,-nothing like a case of chronological or narrational variance, which commentators may reconcile or philologists may explain away. It is a question essential, inherent, fundamental. Admit much to be allegory, make allowance for the phraseology of Oriental tongues, for the language of parable and the license of poetry, there yet remains, vast, calm, and not to be mistaken, the firm faith of that Old World in the reality, and the occasional influence directly exerted, of the world of spirits. That faith undermined, the foundations are sapped of the entire Biblical superstructure.
I speak of a great fact declared, not of minute details supplied. The pneumatology of the Bible is general, not specific, in its character. It enters not upon the mode, or the conditions, under which the denizens of another sphere may become agents to modify the character or influence the destiny of mankind. It leaves man to find his way along that interesting path by the
MORE LIGHT HEREAFTER.
light of analogy,-perhaps by the aid of such disclosures. as this work records. The light may be imperfect, the disclosures insufficient to appease an eager curiosity. In the dimness of the present, our longings for enlightenment may never attain satisfaction. We may be destined to wait. That which human wit and industry cannot compass in this twilight world, may be a discovery postponed only till we are admitted, beyond the boundary, into the morning sunshine of another.
CIRCULAR OF A SOCIETY, INSTITUTED BY MEMBERS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND, FOR THE PURPOSE OF INVESTIGATING PHENOMENA POPULARLY CALLED SUPERNATURAL.
THE interest and importance of a serious and earnest inquiry into the nature of the phenomena which are vaguely called "supernatural" will scarcely be questioned. Many persons believe that all such apparently mysterious occurrences are due either to purely natural causes, or to delusions of the mind or senses, or to willful deception. But there are many others who believe it possible that the beings of the unseen world may manifest themselves to us in extraordinary ways, and also are unable otherwise to explain many facts, the evidence for which cannot be impeached. Both parties have obviously a common interest in wishing cases of supposed "supernatural" agency to be thoroughly sifted. If the belief of the latter class should be ultimately confirmed, the limits which human knowledge respecting the spirit-world has hitherto reached might be ascertained with some degree of accuracy. But in any case, even if it should appear that morbid or irregular workings of the mind or senses will satisfactorily account for every such marvel, still, some progress would be made toward ascertaining the laws which regulate our being, and thus adding to our scanty knowledge of an obscure but important province
of science. The main impediment to investigations of this kind is the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient number of clear and well-attested cases. Many of the stories current in tradition, or scattered up and down in books, may be exactly true; others must be purely fictitious; others, again,-probably the greater number,-consist of a mixture of truth and falsehood. But it is idle to examine the significance of an alleged fact of this nature until the trustworthiness, and also the extent, of the evidence for it are ascertained. Impressed with this conviction, some members of the University of Cambridge are anxious, if possible, to form an extensive collection of authenticated cases of supposed "supernatural" agency. When the inquiry is once commenced, it will evidently be needful to seek for information beyond the limits of their own immediate circle. From all those, then, who may be inclined to aid them, they request written communications, with full details of persons, times, and places; but it will not be required that names should be inserted without special permission, unless they have already become public property: it is, however indispensable that the person making any communication should be acquainted with the names, and should pledge himself for the truth of the narrative from his own knowledge or conviction.
The first object, then, will be the accumulation of an available body of facts: the use to be made of them must be a subject for future consideration; but, in any case, the mere collection of trustworthy information will be of value. And it is manifest that great help in the inquiry may be derived from accounts of circumstances which have been at any time considered "supernatural," and afterward proved to be due to delusions of the mind or senses, or to natural causes; (such, for instance, as the operation of those strange and subtle forces which have been discovered and imperfectly investigated in recent times;) and, in fact, generally, from any particulars which may throw light indirectly, by analogy or otherwise, on the subjects with which the present investigation is more expressly concerned.
The following temporary classification of the phenomena about which information is sought may serve to show the extent and character of the inquiry proposed.