« PrécédentContinuer »
MEMORY AND CONSCIENCE, BELOVED BROTHER CAMPBELL :
I was much interested by a communication in your Millennial Harbinger, I think in the March number, from your esteemed friend, J. Buchanan. Every age has its patriarchs. The “father of the faithful” has been exemplified before the eyes of every generation, so that God has not been without witnesses to declare his graciousness and to manifest the beauty of holiness. How refreshing to the pilgrim, to meet with spirits like his own, nurtured from the same exhaustless fountain of holiness and truth, and journeying, under like hopes, to the same land of promise and bliss! A fellowpilgrim, walking as though seeing things invisible, and conversing, amidst the din and hum of busy, eager, grasping worldliness, about things wbich are above, where Christ sitteth. I could not but feel the contrast between the warm mutual greetings of this “ father in Israel” and yourself, and the angry and self-conceited irreverence and impertinence of some young stripplings among us, who seem to fancy that they alone have the string and the pebble for Goliath, and that good sense and good breeding were not only born, but must die with them! Alas, for the times upon which we are fallen! I subscribe to a number of periodicals because they are ours, and when the mail brings them to me, I look into them for the refreshing thoughts of a refined spiritual heart—the breathings of holy natures—the lofty and ennobling ideas of minds imbued with the grandeur and sublimity of things heavenly and divine, but instead of finding what my soul thirsteth for, in too many instances I meet with little else than abortive efforts to be smart, and blotched re. productions of pictures drawn by greater masters, and already long familiar, in their true colors and native beauty. A kind of backwoods rudeness is mistaken for the wellbehaved virtue of independence, and the Bowie knife of a carnalized strife, brandished about our heads under the pretence, and perhaps the honest conceit, that SERIES HI. -VOL. VI.
it is the veritable Sword of the Spirit. Through all the fustian and froth of sophistry and rant, the one sole motive can be seen peering out through the all pervading “ I," and the heart of the reader, intent only for the good and the beautiful, both in nature and grace, grows sick of the dose, and turns away in sorrow or disgust, to purer or sweeter fountains. So at least we have felt, at reading, not all, indeed, but some of the productions coming to us under cover of more promising and holy names.
Are we not privileged, my brother, to remonstrate against such abuses of the religious press, and to tell those who write for us, that such a spirit and such a style are not only uncongenial to a cultivated and refined Christian taste, but derogatory to our cause, and a reproach upon our people ? Some of my most esteemed brethren and friends deplore with me, the want in our journals of a more elevated style, a more sanctified spirit, a more scriptoral languageyet they say it is a delicate matter to speak about these things pub. licly, and rather fear, lest it may give offence. But what is to be done? We feel it to be our duty to censure every other species of injurious influence, and why not this ? Shall our scribes be wholly self-constituted and responsible not even to Christian criticism ! Are we to stand by and see conceit stalking it in stilts over modesty and good breeding, reviling good men, and not only nurturing and cherishing a depraved taste, but by a narrow and contracted view of some of the great topics of the Christian system, actually teaching errors dangerous and pernicious, and yet answer not a word, lest we should hurt somebody's feelings, or cross devoted Editor in the object of his devotions? And when we do venture to speak, shall we be put under the ban of personal hostility, and have the edge taken off all that we say, no matter how much truth and good sense there may be in it, merely by the imputation of an unfriendly mo. tive, or a disposition to injure? If an Editor is criticised, why can he not stand or fall upon the merits of the criticism, just as any other writer? There is no more propriety in his crying out malice, pero sonal hostility, envy, jealousy, than there would be in Macaulay's objecting to the criticism of his great history upon the same ground. But no more of this at present. I only intended, when I commenced these remarks, to notice the kindly style of the true Christian gentleman, and then to pass on to the consideration of the interesting subjects of his essay.
Memory and conscience will doubtless play a conspicuous. part in the great day of final accounts. God has given us no more irrefuta. ble internal evidence of our own immortality, than is to be found in
the nature of memory. It is our perpetuating self, retaining in ineffaceable colors the true likeness of our own actions, and reflecting them, as the full portrait of our entire character. Indeed, man's character is his moral likeness, the express representation of his inner self. Actions spring from thoughts and motives, and therefore take their significance from them. The memory of these is conscious history; and as the omission of any act, or thought, or motive of a man's life, would leave the character so far incomplete, it appears essential, in order to a full view of ourselves and a perfect comprehension of our character, that there should be such a provision in our constitution, as will preserve without a single omission, for our future inspection, or rather subject to our future consciousness, every thought, motive and action, which had ever occupied the mind or employed the body. How is it, that we maintain our personal iden. tity, if it be not by remembered consciousness ? Physiologists tell us that man changes the natural particles of his body once every seven years, yet persons like our venerable brother know themselves at four score, and in hearing of the mighty Niagara to be the same self that gamboled, in childhood, over the fields of England. What is it that has been the connecting link in this changing experience ? Not the material body, for that has passed through successive changes to repeated decay, and is not the same.
It is the mind, one and imperishable, keeping a history of itself by the faculty of memory, and perpetuating consciousness by its own undying energy.
There have been many instances of suspended memory, in which the person, from disease, for years, lost all remembrance of his
• The Rev. William Tennant, while conversing in Latin with his brother, fainted, and apparently died. His friends were invited to his funeral; but his physician, examining the body, thought he perceived signs of life: he remained in this state of suspended animation three days longer, when his family again assembled to the funeral, and while they were all sitting around him, he gave a heavy groan, and was gradually restored. Some time after his resuscitation he observed his sister reading : he asked her what she had in her hand. She answered, " A Bible.” He replied, “ What is a Bible?" He was found to be totally ignorant of every transaction of his past life. He was slowly taught again to read .and to write, and afterward began to learn Latin, under the tuition of his brother. One day, while he was reciting a lesson from “ Cornelius Nepos," he suddenly felt a shock in his head. He could then @peak the Latin fluently, as before his illness, and his memory was in all respects completely restored.”