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now, prove to us that they are adapted for the perfect experience, hereafter, of what we deserve, that they are wondrous instrumentalities of a perfect retribution for all the evil of our characters and doings. What elements are there now, indeed, developed but in part, but which, when developed in their strength and perfection, seem adequate to do even God's own work of judgment and of retribution.
We find them, even in our intellectual nature, considered apart from the awful fact of our guilt, and before the question of desert or conscience in our moral nature, an assurance of the preservation of all the materials of judgment. We find an assurance of the perfect representation of all our character and doings. We find a machinery provided, so to speak, which will bring into view, and into renewed experience, all the developments of our being, on which it is requisite that judgment be passed, and sentence or verdict awarded." We find the fearful and wonderful development of MEMORY, by which the next most perfect consciousness and possession of our being, after that of present existence, is that of our past existence; which itself may be, the whole of it, an eternal now, and eternal present consciousness and possession, by the working of this power. Next after what is, is that which has been ; and from that which has been and is, comes that which is to be. The foundation of the nature of our future existence is the preservation of our past ; and the preservation of the past is a demonstration, not of the Divine omniscience only, but of our own intellectual constitution. The two demonstrations from the Di. vine omniscience and the human memory, are both referred 10 in that wonderful passage in the wonderful book of Ecclesiastes, to which we have already alluded as a system of Natural Theology; “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been ; and God requireth that which is past."
There are five great realities that constitute the body of our practical theology, known partly from experience, and partly from God :-Remembrance, Remorse, Repentance, Redemption, Retribution. Three of these belong to our Natural Theology, are either developed or clearly demonstrated there, namely, remembrance, remorse, retribution. But the other two belong to Revealed Theology, namely, repentance and redemption. Considered under another classification of deep interest, remembrance and remorse are of man ; retribution is a demand of man from God, and a work both of God and man; repentance is a demand of God from man, and a work of God in man; but REDEMPTION is the work ONLY of God, the infinite benevolence of God, the infinite glory of God.
Now to trace the passage of these from one to the other; remembrance leads inevitably to remorse, and remorse to retribution. But the passage from remorse to retribution, which is the legitimate chain and passage in Natural Theology, from the first step to the last, may be intercepted by Revealed Theology, by the interposition of repentance, leading to and resting in redemption, this side of retribution. It may be ; but that passage, though made possible, and offered and urged, by God's mercy in the gospel of his Son, is not inevitable. There is no natural nor inevitable connection between remorse and repentance. Remembrance leads unfailingly to remorse, but remorse does not lead unfailingly to repentance, but, for the most part, passing over both repentance and redemption, disbelieving, or neglecting and rejecting both, plunges, as in the case of Judas, into the depths of eternal retribution. And there is nothing behind retribution. Retribution is the last thing. Every other thing stands between it and the soul, to keep the soul away from it. God has put everything before it, every development, every experience, every effort of mercy, every instruction and admonition of nature and of revelation, the interposition of promise, of threatening, of expostulation, of law, of grace, of providence, of truth, of discipline, of partial suffering, all things possible in the constitution and course of nature, God has put before retribution, and in the way of it. The thunderings and lightenings of Sinai, the warning judgments of God's wrath, before the perfect execution of it, the pestilence going before him, and burning coals at his feet, the nations driven asunder, the everlasting mountains scattered, the deep uttering his voice, the deluge and the earthquake, the fiery brimstone-light of burning cities, all these things are intervened of God in the way of retribution to keep men from advancing into it. But above all, the cross uplisted between heaven and earth, the God Incarnate stretched upon it, the sublime mysteries and amazements of God manifest in the flesh, the scheme of salvation, and the agencies of the universe engaged in it, all stand before the last dread reality of retribution; so that the soul has to storm its way, as it were, through the successive barriers of the delay of God's justice, the trial of God's goodness, and the work of redemption itself
, before it arrives at this last thing. But retribution is the last thing. Arrived at that, there is nothing else to experience. The soul has gone, as it were, to the bottom of eternity, and will find no further element or mode of exist. ence. There is no return. The only way into redemption is from this side, through repentance; but from retribution to redemption there is no way back. There is a way from repentance to redemption, and redemption was appointed both to make repentance possible and available, and to render possible an avoidance of retribution. If there could have been redemption by retribution, no other redemption than retribution would have been needed. Redemption was not instituted to make retribution available, but to avoid retribution, because retribution is that ultimate state, from which there is no return. It is precisely because of this last ingredient in retribution, because of its ultimateness and eternal dreadfulness, that the occasion becomes worthy of the interposition of such an infinite scheme of grace as that of redemption, by which, through repentance, that eternal reality of retribution may be avoided. The eternity and unchangeableness of retribution justify the sacrifice even of the Son of God upon the cross, to render possible the salvation of those who will repent.
In this view, and it is the only possible view in this direction, retribution is the foundation of redemption ; that is, it is the necessity and certainty of retribution, which have made redemption necessary and fit. God so loved the world as to give his only Son, that whosoever would believe in him might not perish. Here the thing represented as the cause of redemption, the object of it, is, that men might not perish. That is, they would inevitably perish without redemption, or in other words would go on to meet the retribution of eternity, from which eternal retribution it is the object of redemption to save them.
The first great development in our intellectual nature, looking towards the judgment, is Remembrance. The first great development in our guilty nature, is that of Conscience. But we should have known nothing about what we call conscience, had it not been for sin. It is a remarkable testimony of the state of human nature, that the very term conscience is indissolubly associated with, and almost springs out of, the idea of sin. The mere consciousness of innocence could never have made any approximation to our idea of conscience. The consciousness of sin constitutes the power of conscience, and we find thus developed a faculty in our nature, which by itself alone works out a kind of retribution, even now. But this is by no means regarded as the retribution, which the consciousness of sin compels us to expect. Conscience is the Judge, not the Avenger; it is the declaration of desert, and the promise of retribution, but not the accomplishment. Conscience is not the Executor of God's law, but the accuser of the soul for having violated it Conscience is the Attorney General, the officer who draws up and brings against the soul the indictment of its guilt. Then there must be the trial, then the execution of the sentence. The consideration of the sentence will come up under the article of retribution ; and meanwhile, in our enquiries as to the power of retribution with which the operations of conscience are by themselves invested, it is always to be borne in mind, that we are not supposing conscience itself to be the last retribution, however great and important may be the part which we may find conscience playing in that retribution. But the more distinct consideration of the nature and power of conscience must come in under the article of Remorse.
We have now, therefore, to consider that part of the constitu
tion of the human mind, through which conscience itself works, and on which the reality of the judgment would seem to depend; that part of our constitution which renders certain the supply and presentation of materials for conscience and the judgment to act upon. That part is the Memory. Conscience acts by remembrance, and without it would be divested of all her retrospective power. By remembrance conscience becomes at every step the consciousness of past sin, or the past consciousness of sin, renew. ed in present consciousness. By remembrance the 'consciousness of sin is rendered eternal. Without remembrance there could be no consciousness of sin, except at the instant fleeting interval of time, in which sin is actually in commission. The moment the sin is past, there would cease, without remembrance, to be any consciousness of it. Reflection upon it would be impossible, and therefore the sight and sense of its sinfulness would be impossible. For it is only on reflection that the sinner ever sees and feels truly his guilt. The excitement of sinful motive, and the strength and passion of design, intent upon accomplishing an object, very much prevent the sense of sin during its commission, so that it is only after the commission that conscience begins her active pow. er. There was a warning power beforehand, but the retributive power not till afterwards.
What, then, is the power of the Memory? How does it work? By what circumstances is it affected? What reason have we to suppose that it is eternal ? All these become questions of a deep and solemn interest, when we put them looking at our destiny in the eternal world. Our memory might almost be described as the power of Omniscience, and Omnipresence at every part of the circle of being, in which we have had existence; so rapid is its operation, so minute its action. It is that faculty or operation of the mind, by which we recall our past experience; that mysterious power, by which we may live over again our past life, and do live it over again, in all its vividness. It is that faculty by which we recollect; but what is it to recollect? Separate the word into its elements. Re-collect, to collect again what has been scattered, to gather together what has been dispersed. The mind does this, as a master among its treasures; the mind collects again under its own survey, into its own present experience, the materials and steps of its past experience, its past knowledge, no matter how widely they have been strown abroad.
It is that faculty or power, by which we retrace our past life, go over it again, not merely retouch it, as a painter might retrace an old faded painting, but re-track it, renew it, reviving its past realities and impressions, and travel again among them. It is that fac. ulty by which we remember. But what is it to re-member? It is to unite, in their true relation and place, the misplaced or forgotten facts and experiences of past existence, not merely to recollect them, but to member them together in their true relative arrangement, to re-member them. It is not merely to remind ourselves of them, to reinstate them in the mind, but to re-mind them, to renew them as parts of the mind's present consciousness, and as it were, throw the mind into them. In this sense, remembrance may denote a higher exercise of the memory than mere recollection, which may be a re-gathering without a re-placing.
The Memory is a powerful and capacious faculty. Even in this world, with so many hindrances, in an imperfect development, its manifestation of tenacity and vastness is sometimes prodigious. There have been men, who have seemed to remember everything, and it is in the highest degree probable that the memory can and does retain all past experience. And by this we mean not merely experience of men and things in personal life, with which we become acquainted, but all things that have ever passed through the mind, ever occupied a place in the consciousness. All books, all knowledges gained in any way, all words and movements of the soul, either in receiving or transmitting impressions, all conversations, and all trains of feeling and reflection, and all thoughts transmitted, may be retained in the mind, so retained at least, and linked with its being, as to be under complete command of the memory, capable of being brought up again into notice and existence of the mind, and liable at any time to be reproduced, and not only so, but in such a way as to set the mind back, as it were, living its past life over again. This power may transport the whole being into a past period of existence, with all the associated events and characters darting their influences again upon the soul, and all the associated thoughts and feelings clustering again around it, in all their original freshness and vividness. We see and know this to be done sometimes in this world. The way in which it is accomplished may seem under no law, a matter almost of mere chance, the steps are so hidden and unobserved. The secret links that bind thoughts and things together being unnoticed, the starting of such invisible scenery into existence seems something of a supernatural character, not to be accounted for.
A man shall be walking alone, beneath the stars, by the sea-side, among the trees, on a lonely mountain, anywhere indeed, and ever so far removed from his customary associations; when, from some slight secret connection of thought and feeling, some mysterious invisible suggestion by a circumstance not possible to be traced, there shall suddenly gather around his mind a past world of experience and associations. It shall come upon him so powerfuly and so suddenly, that it shall be as if a circle of forms and intelligences, acting and conversing, had suddenly, at the bidding of Omnipotence, filled the air around him. And yet he cannot trace the incomprehensible power of identity and relation in past and present existence, that brought all this so suddenly into being. But