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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 speak the Latin fluently, as before his illness, and his memory was in all respects completely restored."
It is not only in such remarkable examples as this that we are presented with the imperishable nature of memory, but our more common experience teaches us that suspension is not annihilation, and prepares us for the admission of the great inference that no act of the mind, no matter what its magnitude or littleness, will ever be so entirely effaced from the tablet of memory, as not to be awakened by the touch of Him, who is the resurrection and the life.
It only requires that the mind and the body—the thinking, willing, self-conscious and immaterial self, and the nerve-matter through which it is brought into relation with external things, shall be placed again in the same relation with one another, which they had at the time any impression was made, in order to have that impression revived and felt, as a part of our past experience. This relation can be, and is, in many cases, restored by an effort of the will. We exert the controlling power of the mind to bring back the impressions of the past, and by a continual application of the power of our wills, often succeed in restoring those states of past experience so fully, as to recall most vivid pictures of the transactions connected with them. In some cases, the same result is obtained by the influence of association, and in other cases by an influence too recondite to be traced, and which we in vain attempt to reconcile to the laws of suggestion. The mind seems at times to display independent springs of action, whence it mounts back to the fountains of experience, and bounding, without any intermediate steps of association or suggestion, over the long track of almost a century, sits down to the contemplation of its schoolboy dreams, as though they were the transactions of yesterday. How it is that these mental states are thus so fully restored, we cannot tell,-but of the fact we are fully assured.
In our present condition of being, the great difficulty in remembering is simply the difficulty of re-producing those relations of mind and matter, which existed at the time the impression, which we wish to remember, was made. This difficulty, like every other one, arising from the sluggishness of our material bodies, is greatly overcome by habit. When we first attempt to restore a past relation of the mind and body, so as to remember the experiences we then felt, it is with difficulty we succeed. We repeat the effort again and again, and the difficulty yields more and more readily, until we find it easy to recall any event we please. This we call strengthening the memory. Now, as this is effected in a great measure through the will, does it not afford us a reason why," as your venerable correspondent asks, « conscience and memory alike fall asleep as to our bad actions, yet are ever wakeful and alive as to those we deem good or worthy of praise ?” In regard to the latter case, the will is fully consenting, and the mind is not only inclined, but delighted to recall the circumstances which so much gratify its self-esteem and love of approbation ; but in the former case every principle of selfishness is pained by the contemplation, and the recollection is only entertained when forced upon us against our will, and by circumstances that we cannot control. Thus the story of memory and the voice of conscience alike may be hushed, but the story is still written, and the voice, though unheeded, is still speaking, and will continue to utter its reproaches, till the silence, the solemn silence of the great judgment, shall allow it to be heard.
We are able, in our present imperfect state, to form little or no apprehension of infinity. We are indeed able to lose ourselves in wonder at our own powers, but still we do not comprehend them. They display capabilities, at times, which we could not have predicted, and which are so much a marvel to us, as to be almost incredible. In the department of memory and of imaginatinn, we find the most impressive evidences of the mind's wondrous powers. Until we can trace the connection between mind and matter, and fathom the depths of infinity, we can neither account for nor limit the powers of memory. The air is doubtless a medium of intercommunication between minds, and by its vibrations receives and transmits impressions not only corresponding to the cause which puts it into motion, but suited to communicate the proper effects of that
Every word and action is thus written upon the air, as well as upon the memory. True, the vibrations soon grow too feeble to effect us sensibly in our present state; but unless we can assign a límit to infinity, they still tremble in undying waves, and must for ever. Suppose, then, that in another state our impressibility is 30 far refined and heightened, that these eternal records upon the invisible parchment of the air shall become sensible, then will the assembled universe be able to listen to the narrative of forgotten ages, and hear the words of the vocal air reciting the stories of the mighty past. This, we are ready to admit, is but a philosophic vision; yet we may adduce it to show, that nothing is impracticable with Him, who is in every thing, and whose own infinite power seems presented to us in the endlessness of every manifestation of motion or life.
Without speculation, we may well ask, with your esteemed friend “Who has power to obliterate even the most silly trivial expressions ?” Words neither understood, nor heeded when heard, someSERIES 111.-VOL. VI.
times come back to us when the mind is strung to an unusual tension, and display themselves, as ineffaceably graven on the tablet of memory. Coleridge tells of " an ignorant servant girl, who, during the delirium of fever, repeated, with perfect correctness, passages from a number of theological works in Latin, Greek, and Rabbinical Hebrew. It was at length discovered that she had been servant to a learned clergyman, who was in the habit of walking backward and forward along a passage by the kitchen, and there reading aloud his favorite authors.". Dr. Abercrombie tells of a child, who, at four years of age, and while in a profound stupor from a fracture of the skull, underwent the operation of trepanning. After his recovery, he retained no recollection either of the operation or of the accident, yet at the age of fifteen, during the delirium of a fever, he gave his mother an exact description of the operation, of the persons present, their dress, and many other minute particulars. These facts lead us to the conclusion that impressions once made upon the mind are incorporated into its very essence, and become, therefore, as it, eternal. Nothing short of the hand of Omnipotence can wipe them out, or obliterate their slightest trace.
But God does nothing in vain. If he has made memory eternal, it has been in respect to the future, that man should know himself and see himselfin an ever present portrait, through endless eternitythat his own memory should be the volume of his own history, not only perfect and complete, but bearing the testimony of conscious
ness, as the incontestible evidence of its truth. On the subject of • the books that John saw opened, there were doubtless others; but
there appears good reason for believing that the book of memory and the book of conscience were two of them. Without the memory of actions, we could not regard them as ours. We cannot identify ourself with an action that is past, unless we can remember, or be made conscious, that we did it, and hence the necessity, in the future judgment, for every one retaining a full and perfect recollection of all the actions and words of his life. By memory, our own consciousness will associate us with the action, and we shall need no other accuser.
But memory is not enough. There is no moral element in memory. It does not feel approbation or disapprobation-has no emotion of innocence or guilt-impels us neither to do nor to refrain. This is the province of conscience. Hence, to enable us to feel in connection with our action, the motives from which actions were performed must be written down along with the record of the facts; and this is the book of conscience. Here the secret springs, which urged us to say or to do, are faithfully presented; and as we gaze upon our actions as our pictured self, we shall also see in their uncovered nakedness the feelings which urged us to their performance. Wonderful records! Before their startling disclosures, who shall be able to stand! Who must not feel himself to be “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!” O my soul ! who shall deliver thee from this eternal shame! Where wilt thou find raiment to cover thy nakedness, and a hand to erase from the books of memory and conscience the deeds of guilt which blacken their pages! It is only here that we shall see the true efficacy of that blood which taketh away the sin of the world, and experience fully the blessedness of Him, to whom the Lord imputeth not sin. When we shall see the Son of God wiping from the record, with his own blood, every iniquity, that it may be remembered against us no more for ever, and feel ourselves covered with the white raiment of his own perfect righteousness, and led along by Him, who alone is “ able to present us faultless before the presence of HIS glory with exceeding joy,” then, and only then, shall we be able fully to unite with the “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, in saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."
I have made you, beloved brother, a long essay instead of a friendly letter, as I intended; but these are noble and delightful themes to me, and I doubt not, on this account, will prove, however imperfectly treated, agreeable both to you and our venerable brother Buchanan, for whom and for yourself I pray the Lord to prolong and. multiply his richest blessings and tenderest mercies. As ever yours,
REFORMATION_No. XV. The unscriptural language current amongst the religious parties of the day, affords to the reflecting mind one of the strongest evidences of their need of reformation.. Such is the intimate connexion between words and things, and such the influence of language upon the human mind, that a departure from the “spiritual words” of inspi, ration necessarily implies a departure from the "things of the spirit:” Hence, it is not without reason, that the Apostles enjoin the use of
“ sound speech that cannot be condemned,” and urge a careful