صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

some other way? If the latter, the objection is irrelevant; and if the former, we may surely adduce him as evidence of the truth of our position. Why similar examples are not more numerous it concerns us not to answer, any more than to account for the infinite diversity in man's corporeal faculties, or other mental powers. In other words, having established the position that all men have, and will always have memory sufficient to assure them of their own identity in every period of their existence, we are no more obliged to say why one has the ability of calling that faculty into use more readily than another, than we are to account for the greater acuteness of one man's eye. sight, hearing, or any other bodily sense.

(4.) To say it were unnecessary that memory should be thus burdened with all the scenes of past existence, and draw thence an argument in opposition to our theory, is manifestly to beg the whole question. Who shall say what is, and what is not necessary ? And how, when taking into consideration the whole of man's existence, and not merely the brief period of his sojourn on earth, will the objector be able to prove that it is necessary any thing should be forgotten ? or even that it is not necessary that every thing should be vividly remembered ? The burden of proof manifestly rests upon the objector, before any argu. ment can be drawn from the necessity of the case.

(5.) “ But we have evidence that the memory decays with the infirmi. ties of old age; that it becomes weak, feeble, and inefficient.” True; and so do sight and hearing ; imagination, judgment, nay, reason itself seems flickering in the socket; but who argues thence that it is going out, or on the point of being extinguished for ever? The argu. ment, if it be allowed in the one case, must be equally valid in the other; and the result evidently would be, that death is annihilation.

And again : the destruction of memory involves the destruction of all the other faculties of the soul. Without memory, we know, in this world at least, men cannot compare, judge, reason; and however much the faculties of the mind may be enlarged and strengthened in a future state of existence, we have no authority for supposing that it will ever receive any new faculties.

(6.) But, if memory be indestructible, how is it that the Deity is said to forget? (Jer. xxiii, 39; Hos. iv, 6.) And how shall we reconcile this proposition with his oft-repeated declarations concerning the sins of the penitent, “ I will remember them no more?(Jer. xxxi, 34; Heb. viii, 12, &c.)

To this objection, I apprehend, a satisfactory answer is found in the fact, that in the passages first alluded to the only ones, I believe, in the Bible, where the Almighty is said to forget—the word is evidently not designed to be understood in its literal sense, but means simply neglect, or some word equivalent thereto. And with reference to the latter quotations I may say, in the language of another,* “ The divine Being's not remembering is only a strong expression for his never recalling, as grounds of judicial charge, the sins which he has par. doned.” And again : “ To the infinite Mind there is present the his. tory of every individual of all the millions of the world's population for nearly six thousand years—a history comprehending, in each case, all that has been thought, or felt, or said, or done by him every moment

* Wardlaw on the Extent of the Atonement.

of his life—and that, too, in perfect order and circumstantial accu. racy, without the slightest intermixture or confusion."*

This view of the case is absolutely essential to the perfections of the divine Being. It is impossible, with reverence be it spoken, it is impossible that, in the strict sense of the word, any thing should be forgotten by the Almighty, or that he should be unable at any moment to recall the events of any individual's life at any given hour of his existence; or the recurrences, with all their minutiæ, in any part of his vast creation during the whole of a past eternity.

(7.) Most true, continues the objector ; and it is true, because pre. dicated of the perfections of Jehovah. But what is man? Is he per. fect? or is his a perfect memory?

I answer : Scripture and our own experience unite in assuring us that man, in his present condition, is far from being in the state in which God created him. He made man upright; he has lamentably fallen. But it is not clear that the faculties of his mind; the ability to reason ; to compare ; to reflect ; to judge between good and evil; however much warped by the propensities of a wicked heart, or biased to evil by the suggestions of his subtle and ever watchful enemy-have been in any way lessened by the fall. The accusation against him does not lie in this direction at all. It is the heart that is deceitful; the will that is perverse ; the feelings that are depraved. The charge is not, that he is unable, but that he does not, that he is unwilling to consider, reflect, reason. This is beautifully illustrated by that en. dearing invitation of the great Creator to his fallen creature,—“ Come, and let us reason together.” So, throughout the Scriptures, it is nowhere intimated that on account of the fall, or for any other cause, man is unable to comprehend his relation to God and his fellows; or to understand all that it is essential for him to know; or even form correct principles to reason correctly. Indeed, if I mistake not, the direct contrary is assumed by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, wherein he declares of certain individuals that “ they are without excuse.” And by the Saviour himself, when he directs the Jews to search the Scriptures, and charges upon them that they would not come unto him that they might have life, (Rom. i, 19, 20; John v, 39, 40.)

And this reasoning applies equally to the memory as to any of the other mental faculties. True, since his fall, man has sought out many inventions ; and though from the multiplicity of events perpetually occurring around him, and the exhaustless fountain of thought that is springing up within him, he be unable (probably more unable than he would have been had he not fallen) to recall the occurrences of his own history at any moment ; yet is this no argument that the memory of them has perished; or that any thing has been erased from its tablet.

Thus much for the objections. Let us now adduce a few arguments which go to establish the truth of the doctrine, that forgetfulness of any event in which the individual has been a participant is impos. sible. Of course it will be perceived, from what has been already said, that by this expression I would be understood to mean--forget, fulness absolute and entire.

* Wardlaw on the Extent of the Atonement.

(1.) We have no assurance in our own history that we have forgotten any thing. On the contrary, who has not, from an apparently ca. sual association of ideas, a hint, a catch-word, had vividly brought before him, in all their particularity, events the recollection of which had seemed perished for ever? and this, too, with a distinctness as if they had been but of yesterday.

The youth just bursting into manhood, panting after distinction, wealth, fame, leaves the home of his fathers. He wanders into dis. tant parts; forms new connections ; is surrounded by new associates. By degrees, the recollection of his home and the scenes of his child. hood grow faint. His youthful sports, and cares, and joys, and hopes, and thoughts are no longer present with him. His memory is busied with other matters. On returning, after the lapse of, it may be, half a century, the sight of a particular tree, house, stream, brightens im. pressions which had been made on the memory, and which seemed to have been blotted out to make room for others. The recurrence of them, however, proves that this had not been the case; that the im. print had been indelible. The view of these scenes of his childhood had only caused the impression then made to stand forth with promi. nence before the mind's eye. Similar recurrences are frequent in the history of every individual. “I thought I had forgotten it;" “ I do not now recollect,” are common expressions with reference to any of the scenes of past existence. No man, in view of his endless life, can say I know I have forgotten ; I shall never recollect.

(2.) Again : Having seen clearly that memory is essential to man's identity, and that a knowledge of this identity is essential to his future existence, the impossibility of absolute forgetfulness of any event may be thus argued:--If it be possible for me to forget one thing, I may another. And if one, why not all, every thing, and my identity, or at least my knowledge of that indentity, be destroyed ? and thus man be enabled to exert a power which God never gave him,-a power which, I think it may be shown, God himself could not give him,-even the power of self-annihilation ?

(3.) Farther : It is evident that things in this life do not impress them. selves upon the memory universally, in proportion to their relative im. portance. Trifles, sometimes, are uppermost when matters of deep moment are buried beneath the rubbish that has accumulated in the storehouse of the mind. Can any one believe that it shall be always thus ? or that, amid the realities of eternity, the mind shall for ever dwell on trivial matters to the exclusion of those of more importance which now seem to be forgotten? Or does it not seem more probable that actions, words, thoughts will then be remembered with a distinct. ness precisely proportioned to their relative importance ?

(4.) We may deduce another argument from the fact that we cannot forget what we please. We have it in our power to say, This I will remember, and we can do it; but it is not in the power of man to say, That I will forget, and it shall be as though it had not been. Indeed, to make an effort to forget, what is it, but to make the impres. sion deeper, and to cause it to stand forth with greater prominence? Trying to forget, so far as actual mental exertion is implied, is a phrase, if not synonymous with trying to remember, yet productive of the same results; as any one may perceive by making the experi. ment.

Herein we see, as I suppose, why solitary confinement is a punish. ment so dreadful ; and why, to the convicted felon, idleness alone is far more irksome and less endurable than increasing toil with the so. ciety of his fellows. In the latter case he is enabled, partially at least, to bury the scenes of his past life in forgetfulness. In the former, memory is awake; and is perpetually bringing up before him one deed of guilt after another, in long and dread array. He is pacing his narrow cell from morn to night, trying to forget. Vain effort ! It is the gnawing of a worm that will not die. •

(5.) The things which now have a tendency to induce partial forgetful. ness will not always prevail. Man will not always be surrounded by the unceasing whirl of business ; or his attention be distracted by the multiplicity of its cares. He will not always have it in his poweras he now has to some extent-by plunging into scenes of dissipation and revelry, to efface the recollection of things unpleasant. What takes that man so frequently to the society of the depraved and the dissolute? Or this one to the theatre, the ball room, the fashionable party! In his own slang dialect, he is drowning memory; driving dull care away. The time is coming the eternity rather-when objects that now distract attention and divert the mind shall be removed ; when, in spite of himself, man shall have leisure to reflect. And in that leisure every deed, and word, and thought of his past existence will be seen in its full bearings upon that unalterable state to which they have brought him.

(6.) This brings us to the argument from Scripture, which we have intentionally reserved until now. If our views, as hitherto expressed, are controverted by the oracles of truth; nay, if they be not rather corroborated thereby, we are satisfied that they should be reckoned what they are indeed, if this be the case—the mere musings of a vain philosophy.

It is explicitly revealed in the Bible,

(1.) That, in the future judgment, there will be degrees of reward as well as of punishment. One star shall differ from another star in glory. While some are beaten with few, others with many stripes. For some it will be more, and for others less tolerable in that day.

(2.) That, although faith in the Son of God be the meritorious cause of salvation, and the want of it the procuring cause of condemnation; yet, in either case, the works of the individual will be the criteria by which his reward shall be adjudged, or his condemnation meted out.

(3.) That all his works, of whatever class or description, from ear. liest infancy to dissolution, shall be taken into the account. It is not in the power of language to express this truth more clearly or ex. plicitly than is done by the sacred writer, (Eccles. xii, 14.)

The argument, then, with these premises, is exceedingly simple, and easy of comprehension. It resolves itself into the plain question :Would it appear just in God to punish or reward an individual for actions, words, thoughts, that the individual had absolutely and en. tirely forgotten ? The question is not, you perceive, Would it be just that has an appearance of irreverence in it—but, would God's justice be apparent to the condemned sinner, for instance, sinking to the lowest depths of hell, if then he remembered not the causes that had brought this calamity upon his soul, or the aggravated instances of his iniqui. ties whereby he had treasured up wrath against the day of wrath? It will be conceded on all hands, that it is expedient that the infinite justice of God, as well in the punishment of the guilty as in the recompense of the righteous, should be manifest to all who shall stand before God and participate in those awards.

If, then, every secret thing is to be taken into the account, it fol. lows that every secret thing will be remembered ; and the grand re. sult is,

10. Every individual is bearing about with him his own register for the judgmenteven that faculty of the soul by which he is now, and shall for ever be, assured of his own identity--a register correct, ex. act, and abundantly competent for the purpose-a register to which each has it in his power to add to an indefinite extent; but from which himself, or any other creature, cannot erase one jot or tittle. Leaf after leaf, as it is turned over, is filled with matter that is im. perishable.

Reader! it is in thine own power now to say, whether the future pages of that record shall be such as will afford thee pleasure or pain in the perusal; when thou, with the dead, small and great, shall stand before God; and the books shall be opened, to be shut no more for ever.

Art. VI.--THE WITNESSING CHURCH. A Sermon, delivered in the Great Queen-street Chapel, London, April 28, 1837;

and in Grosvenor-street Chapel, Manchester, June 20. By the Rev. Joux HARRIS, author of “Mammon," " The Great Teacher,” “Britannia," &c.

For the only copy we ever saw of this powerful sermon we are in. debted to our excellent friend, the Rev. J. Stinson, superintendent of the Indian missions in Canada. This discourse was delivered at the respective anniversaries of the English Wesleyan Missionary Society, and the East Lancashire Auxiliary to the London Missionary Society. It has been spoken of by the English press in very high terms. As we propose to give it entire, it will be useless to speak of its merits in this place. We predict, however, that the reader, after he has pe. rused it, will have more enlarged views of the duty of Christians with respect to evangelizing the world, and more ardent feelings stirring in his bosom, and prompting him to action in this work, than he ever experienced before.—ED.

“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God," Isa. xliii, 12. THERE is one important respect in which all objects in the universe, from the atom to the archangel, unite : all are witnesses for God. He who made all things for himself has so made them that, volun. tarily or involuntarily, according to their respective natures, they dis. tinctly attest the divine existence and character. He has not left it contingent whether they give such testimony or not. The great name of the Maker is inwoven into the texture of every thing he has made. So that even if the creature possess a will, and that will become de. praved, and guiltily withhold its intelligent testimony to the divine existence, an eloquent and incorruptible witness is still to be found in

« السابقةمتابعة »