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it reveals to him a power of his nature, a capacity and activity of memory, a law of intelligent existence, which may well lead him to exclaim, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Sometimes the mind of a sinful man is hurried by this law, which acts with a certainty and power as fixed as the laws that whirl on the swift spheres of God's universe, back into a far distant period of life, into the presence of some distinct but long forgotten act of sin; it may be a word, a fraud, a theft, an injustice, a cruelty, a sin against God or man ; and he is made to confront it, and stands, as it were, alone in the universe, with nothing but his sin and himself in company, and gazes at it as if insensible to all things else, and sees it not only as he then saw it, when first he gave it being, but in new lights, in relations before unnoticed, unimagined. Now let the Deity but commission this power to take the sinner thus in the eternal world over the circle of his past sinful experience, and at every step let merely the judgmənt of the man against himself be recorded, and then let the law and the condemnation be announced to the universe, and assuredly there would be need of no other expo. sition to justify the processes of Divine retribution.
Looking at this matter with reference to the eternal world, it is necessary to bear in mind that in this world remembrance is in fact the great spontaneous occupation and operation of our intellect. Our processes of induction and of reasoning are carried on from what we remember; from materials, which memory surnishes, all the fabrics of our busy powers are woven. Remembrance constitutes almost the whole body of our literature; the world of thought and feeling, of imagination and of genius, grow out of it. We are ever living in remembrance. The whole history of our race is remembrance. The past is all remembrance. Our projections of ourselves into the future, and our compulsions of the future into the sphere of the present, are all based upon conclusions drawn from the materials, of remembrance. Man may be defined as a remembering being, and a reasoning being only through remembrance. Every addition to the stores of memory constitutes, according to the moral character of the remembering agent, an additional source of future happiness or misery, an extension of the circle of experience and of voluntary being, which the soul is still to be occupied in reflecting upon, retracing, and out of it still forecasting and demonstrating the future. "Just so must it be in the eternal world. Every added interval of existence then, every age and every cycle of ages will form, according to the character of the soul, as holy in God's image, or sinful in its unregenerate own, additional material of memory, additional provinces of past existence approximating forever to the reality of a past eternity, over which the mind will be ceaselessly winging its solemn retrospective flight, and from which it will be forecasting, from broader, vaster, mightier con
clusions of the past, still vaster, more interminable, more demonstrable incursions of expectation into the future. So, from the weight of the experience of thousand, thousand ages past, the holy soul will be able to demonstrate, and will be ever forecasting, the blissful experience, and the sinful soul the gloomy and terrible experience of thousand ages to come. The present thus ties together both the past and the future in our existence, and makes it in some respects an eternal Now.
As to the vividness and minuteness with which men's past lives thus come back to them in this world, much depends upon the weakness or power of the law of association in individual minds; for it is upon the law of association mainly that the phenomena of memory depend; a law which we shall have occasion to trace with reference to the security by which God has provided in ourselves for the appearance of all things at the judgment, in proper order and fulness and unity. What we see and experience in this world shows us with what amazing power and comprehensive extent this law may act in the eternal world, where every hindrance is removed, and the mind shall be at leisure, under guidance of this law, to travel broodingly over its whole past existence. And just so the prodigious capacity of some men's voluntary memory, in this world, when they set themselves to the exercise and improvement of this faculty, shows what may be done with it in the eternal world. It can retain, we have reason to believe, all past experience. This conclusion is almost demonstrable from the various and interesting phenomena of involuntary memory As persons in a momentary swoon or trance have sometimes lived what has seemed a lifetime in a moment, so persons in a state of drowning have had the scenes of their whole life developed to their consciences (a phenomenon well known, and quite familiar, though sometimes most extraordinary,) as if the whole transactions of the judgment were passing in an incredibly swift interval. Persons drawing near to death not unfrequently remember the minutest incidents of childhood, or things of later life long utterly forgotten. And solemn and awful it is to see with what tenacity and power the minute recollections of guilt cling to the soul.
I knew a rich old man dying, who suddenly sent to a poor widow the price of an iron crow-bar, of which he had defrauded her many years before. A mountain of iron lays not so heavy on the earth, as the remembrance of one sin on a guilty man's conscience, when nearing the passage into the eternal world. No human being beheld the circumstance of the transfer of that ironbar from the possession of that poor widow into the possession of that rich man. It might have been at first a simple act of borrowing, with the intention to return still deferred, till the iron-bar became inventoried, as it were, as a fixture of the rich man's own. But conscience and the memory glide not over life so superficially, as men might wish, in their selfish, careless disregard of what belongs to others. Conscience and the memory came to the dying man's bedside, and asked him what he would now do with the poor
widow's iron-bar, and the soul was compelled to its decision. But if there be such minuteness of recollection, and such power of conscience in little things, how much more in greater things, in all schemes of fraud and injustice, planned and executed in whatever apparent security. Security? There is an omnipresent Conscience, and an all-recording Memory, that constitutes not only a security, but a certainty, of retribution for your guilt, an assurance infallible for its knowledge and discovery; but there can be no possibity of security against it; there is an assurance infallible for its knowledge and discovery, in your own being; but there is no possibility of concealment, there is no such thing as success in guilt
, or an escape from its consequences. Even if you could keep it from the knowledge of others, you do not keep the key of your own memory; you are not the master of its possessions, to confine them or bid them forth at your will. You may shut the chest, in which you think to keep buried in the caves of memory your secret sins; you may lock it, and throw away the key; but Conscience will wrench it open, and scatter its letters of shame to the eye of the universe. It may be a Safe against all ordinary fires of human investigation, and even providential discovery ; but put it into the fires of conscience, and it shrivels like a scroll. Or if it were even possible that the fires of conscience could not touch it, then there are the fires of the Last Day.
Our subject now becomes intensely interesting and solemn, in the light of the law of association, and we are not willing to dismiss it with a merely general or superficial survey. It is a subject full of points, from which the fires of God's expostulations against sin, shoot off in every direction ; lines of warning, in Mr. Foster's striking language, infinitely more formidable than material fire. For, what one portion of his past existence is then, from which the tyrant conscience of the sinner, by her agent, memory, will not evoke the buried forms of guilt, and the materials of condemnation? What one portion is there, from which conscience does not predict, and demonstrate as inevitable, a future complete Retribution ? Therefore, the voice from the whole past deep of a man's existence is a perpetual warning to flee from the wrath to come.
Sometimes there are great reefs of guilt, where the surges break and roar with incessant thunder ; and even if the reefs of á man's sins be so deep buried in the waste of waters, that no human eye ever sees their rugged prominences, still there is a roar of the sea above them. In moments of silence or of unex. pected thoughtfulness, a man hears it, and knows its prediction,
its warning, even though, amidst the whirl of business, of care, of gain, of revelry, of pleasure, ordinarily and profoundly insensible. If he would stand still amidst the roar of life, and listen to the voice of conscience and of God, stand still and hear what God says to him, what his own being says to him, he would oftener turn at that voice, and flee where Christ beckons him.
PAUL BEFORE THE AREOPAGUS
By ASAHEL ABBOT, New York.
Among all the reasons that have been alleged to favor the study of the old heathen authors, the strongest and best is that which the great lights of the church have ever held as a sufficient justification for their practice in the diligent comparison of sacred and profane authors. It is this. In those authors alone we are able to learn most fully what man will do when left free from the restraints of the Divine Word and its ministry. In the gospel we have God humanized; while in heathenism we have man deified. Of this point, no man seems ever to have been more fully aware than the great apostle to the Gentiles; and if we are wise we shall imitate his example, and make ourselves masters of heathen learning; that we too may know what man is when left without a special revelation, and what has been the influence of Heathenism upon Christianity itself, from the days of the apostles to the present time.
Natural Theology has been substantially the same in all nations and through every age. Proclus, in commenting upon the Ti. mæus, tells us that there has been ever less doubt and controversy concerning the one God than concerning the many gods; and Maximus Tyrius, in oft-quoted words, affirms the sense of the whole pagan world to be, that there is one God, the King and Father of all, and many gods, the sons of God, reigning together with God.
But when we come 10 what Varro and Scævola name Political and Mythical Theology, the confusion is endless and without remedy; and all the teachings of their natural theology prove but words without life, through the want of that requisite discipline the church alone can furnish, and that influence of his Spirit that God has never vouchsafed to such as, in any age and for any cause, turn from his word and ordinances to the inventions or perversions of men.
Thus heathenism in its politics, mythology, and philosophy, affords a foil to Christianity. Without it we should never have
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known out of what depths of darkness and moral debasement the Cross has delivered us; and with it we shall be saved from “wandering after” that most terrible and apostate Power that has clad himself in the “armor of light,” only the more to contend against God, and “wear out the saints of the Most High,” till the Son shall consume him and his allies " with the brightness of his coming."
It is worthy of notice, that while plain and unlearned men were chosen as apostles to the more remote and rude nations, as well as to the body of the Hebrews in their dispersion, yet for the more polished nations about the Levant one was preferred who knew heathenism, not only as Jews knew it, but as the heathens themselves knew it; thus not only commending to them, on their own principles the gospel of Christ, and clearing it from their objections by means of their own dialectics, while he reproved them for the practice of vices that they knew to be damnable ; but leaving us also an example by which we may be taught that we should never despise any proper means of enlightening our fellow-men, and above all that we should not neglect the study of that heathenism which in his time afforded the apostles of our faith no insignificant share of help and hindrance in their work. Paul, by knowing heathenism, through we know not how much study, and the passing of a large part of his life in the heathen city of Tarsus, knew how to approach the mind of the heathen as if he were one of themselves, at the same time he could justify to himself a proper contempt for their metaphysical subtleties as tending to no end but to “darken counsel by words without knowledge.
Thus at the opening of his wonderful argument concerning justification by faith, in his Epistle to the Romans, he brings to the minds of all well-read men all that Homer and the Greeks, and, after them, the Romans, with the priests of Babylon, Tyre, and Egypt, have ever written, when they declare God to be known by means of his works and providence, and the violators of his laws to be jnstly deserving of eternal death ; while he exposes their vices in all their original horror, and accuses them of raising to the dignity of gods such as exceeded other men in the practice of them; by which they deified vice itself. So in his defence against the false reasoners that troubled the church in Corinth with subtle and vain questions, while they ridiculed the plainness and directness of his teaching, as wanting in the art and elegance of the highest rhetoric, he blows upon the whole world of their philosophers, as men of words and nothing more, from which reproach he will except none, not even Socrates and Plato; since even their superior knowledge in divine things never emancipated them from the thrall of error, nor was accompanied with the virtue to put in practice what they knew; after which he affirms that his teaching was according to God's Spirit, and accompanied by a power and influence that helped and enabled the weakest under Christian discipline to