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matter to a wonderful extent. It is indeed the boast of modern achievement, that spirit, by its inventive skill, has subdued nature, and rendered the elements of matter subservient to its purposes. And while this is a thing of common and open notoriety, there are relationships between mind and matter of a nature far more astounding, than all those included within the ordinary range of scientific and mechanic art. There are relationships and points of contact between the thinking soul and the world of matter, which, instead of flattering our pride of intellect, may well awe our hearts, and fill us with holy fear. We say only, what the best teachers of natural science declare, when we aver that the outward world is a depository of the moral doings of each accountable man. Nature is the great ledger, on whose sheets a recording angel traces a record of our every thought and act. The air we breathe, the light which enwraps us, and the dull clod we press in the daily rounds of our business, are so many scribes, taking note of all our movements, and recording all our works. The heavens which surround us are the parch. ment scroll on which God's telegraphic agencies are ever tracing the symbolic characters that delineate our lives. This is not fancy, but the demonstrative testimony of the most exact and rigid science. In proof we advert to a few familiar illustrations.
We are accustomed to speak of matter as dead, inert, unfeeling. But the fact is, it is ever in motion, and always impressible. Every particle entering into the composition of the material world, is so nicely adjusted to every other particle, as to preserve its balance, while it ceaselessly vibrates. And while thus vibrating, every kind of matter--the granite rock as well as the yielding clay--are all busy in receiving impressions, just as wax takes and retains the image stamped upon it. Thus all the pages of nature are adapted to receive the image of our words and works.
From this general, to proceed to more specific illustrations. Take the atmosphere. This is a fluid ocean-raising its waves and its ripples, similar to those which are visible on an ocean of
When you cast a stone into a sea or a lake, you set in motion a series of concentric circles, which recede farther and farther from the place of disturbance, until they finally become invisible. But, if when the naked eye loses the power of tracing them, it were assisted by a powerful magnifying glass, they would still be discerned rolling on. And if when the eye and the glass together should fail to follow them, recourse should be had to the searching analysis of mathematical investigation, it would be found that beyond a peradventure, they still continued to widen and widen, coming in contact with other circles originating from other centres, modified by them and modifying them in return; yet never losing their motion but entering into the permanent movements and forces which fill up the universe. This is indeed a mystery, but no less a fact ; and none but the illiterate or the sciolist will deny it. As this is true of impressions made on water, so also is it of impressions made on air. Our words, which are the outward flows of invisible thought, and every act, set in motion a series of waves, just as surely as do the vibrations of a bell when struck; and these waves enter into the permanent movements of the atmosphere ; and are all preserved there and will be preserved until the heavens shall flee away. It argues nothing against this fact, that these waves be. come invisible or inaudible to us—for our perceptions are not the limits of material existence. If it be objected that the impressions produced upon the atmosphere may become infinitely minute, I answer that this minuteness will be no hindrance to their being read by Him, whose infinity embraces the minute as well as the vast.
In like manner we might go on to show that the unfeeling earth preserves, amid all the vibrations of its countless atoms, the record of human action. So that the lonely spot where the mur. derer dashed down his victim-the darkened cave, where persecution tracked his martyr, and the dungeon's wall where suffering virtue bowed the head in agony-are as so many memorial. stones, whereon man's acts are engraven, as with the pen of a diamond ; and there is no deed of man, whether done in the day or in the night, of which the insensible particles of earth are not the witnesses and the recording angels.
To confirm these illustrations and establish the general fact, we may avail ourselves of the aid which the nature and properties of light afford, in proof of a natural record of human transactions. I need not tell you that there is a light-bearing ether -a luminous fluid—diffused through all space and penetrating all bodies, however dense. The sun and the stars, singly, do not produce light. This is generated by the chemical and electrical power of the heavenly bodies, working upon, and in connection with, this light-bearing ether. The sun puts in motion this fluid, so that light comes to us in waves. Now, if the sun be regard. ed as one, and the earth as another shore of an ocean, one hundred and ninety-five millions of miles across, then the wave on the opposite shore must impel a succession of waves, infinitely minute, through all the intervening space, until the last wave reaches the eye of the observer. The rapidity of these undulations or waves is so great, that only eight minutes of time are required for the delivery of an impression, made at the distance of 195,000,000 miles, to the eye of a spectator on our earth. Two august and imposing facts here meet us and compel our attention. Here is a medium of transmission as widely diffused as the universe; all impressions made on it are conveyed with a rapidity inconceivable. And this everywhere present ether becomes the means of daguerreotyping the forms of human transactions upon the tablets of nature. This earth may be regarded as a
mighty cylindrical press, with men for its types, and whose every revolution impresses upon the broad sheets of light that envelope it, the nature and character of each day's doings--of every man's work-yea, printing all upon a sheet which may be read almost instantaneously in the remotest regions of space. There is another thought in connection with this, which we ought not to omit. It is known that a message forwarded by telegraph from New York to New Orleans, would, if the point of connection were formed, travel in about the same space of time from New York to Pekin-and will you tell me wherein the rapidity of electrical transmission on Morse's telegraph differs from the rate of transmission on God's telegraph ? For the light which surrounds us is a divine telegraph, along whose lines the report of all our works is carried with a celerity surpassing thought. The work I do in secret, therefore, is published, as soon as done, in far off worlds. He who created the light reads its report; and may not spirits, good and bad, do the same?
Startling thought! That nature is everywhere present, witness and reporter of our works—that the spirits above and the spirits beneath are summoned to take knowledge of us! There is indeed "nothing hid which shall not be made manifest.” When the day shall blaze for the revelation of all our doings, earth, air and sky shall disclose all that we have written and graven upon them—whether of word or deed-virtuous or vicious. This is to me a thought of the soberest and weightiest practical moment. It is a grand and imposing aspect which nature presents in her ceaseless activity. When we consider how busy are all her elements—how air, earth and sky are working in wondrous combination—that all are taking signs and impressions that will never be erased until the great day, it may well admonish us to beware indulging the hope that anything can be said or done beyond the observation of witnesses ever with us.
Lest some may set all this down to the score of fancy, I ask these plain questions. Does not the geologist read on the rocks and in the fossils of bygone centuries the record of events which occurred long ere Adam breathed the air of paradise ? Are there not now vibrations on the surface of the earth which sometimes startle whole communities? Does not the breeze carry on its wings tidings of things done far away from the reach of our vision? Is not light a swift-winged messenger to bear to us report of occurrences in far distant regions of space ? And if all nature is thus occupied in bringing intelligence to us, is it fancy and not rather the demonstration of experience as well as of science, that nature is also occupied in bearing intelligence of us—that her every whisper, however faint, and her every sign, however obscure, can be read by Him who holds the uni. verse in his hand and counteth the number of its atoms, is what we dare not doubt, if we believe in a God of infinite knowledge. It was therefore no flourish of rhetoric, when the inspired Isaiah appealed to the heavens and the earth to bear testimony to the sins of Israel.
Let not the sinner think that his sins will be buried in oblivion. The darkness and the light are both alike to Him who, as well a thousand years hence, as at moment, can read on the broad pages of the visible universe, the inscriptions graven there by our works and our words.
II. The book of Human Consciousness will be opened.
The human soul is not only a laboratory of thought-it is also a great storehouse, wherein are deposited its thoughts, emotions and volitions. Without material locks or bars it has a power of retention that far surpasses our conception. It is the inspector of its own contents—the inquisitor of its own state. This is indeed what we understand by consciousness—the knowledge of our own mental sensations and operations—the internal perception of self. Consciousness takes knowledge of what is constantly passing within, and memory stores up these impressions for the fu. ture. Memory is the broad page on which consciousness is ever writing the narrative of a soul's daily and hourly history. And this self-observing faculty of the mind acts as the guardian and interpreter of the memory. In our eager pursuit of pleasure or wealth, we try to forget the past, yet often before our astonished vision, sins perhaps long ago committed, start up as fresh as though of yesterday.
No faculty of soul is more certain in its action, than this power of perpetuating and retaining the past. Much we forget, and often regret that our memories are feeble, and our knowledge of past events dimmed. Yet vivid realizations of the past are greatly hindered by our want of effort, and by our endeavors to erase the inscriptions of past feelings and events. Yet slight causes will “ bring back on the heart the weight which it would fling aside forever.” And contrary to our wishes the dead past stands
ands up before us. This power of recollecti and involuntary consciousness is a matter of each man's experience.
There are times when memory seems roused to an unwonted energy-when consciousness, like the lightning's flash on a dark night, illumines with a most intense vividness the whole field of our moral history. The chambers of imagery, long veiled, are suddenly opened. Old thoughts and old schemes are brought glaringly to view.-Many now before me can attest the truth of this. The standing by a death couch, or the look into an open grave, or the hearing of a sermon from a faithful pastor, or a calm reproof from the lips of a parent-yea, even the rustling of a dead and withered leaf, may have been the means of recalling reflections and emotions long faded from recollection. Numerous are the well authenticated records of dying hours in which the believing and the impenitent have found themselves confronted with scenes and mental acts that had long been forgotten. Death, like a mighty magician, brings these together and arrays them with terrible distinctness before the quickened senses of the departing spirit.
And why should we doubt that when the clog and clod of sense are dropped, that this consciousness of self will be vastly intensified. Little as we know of the world on the other side death, yet of this, reason and revelation both assure us—that there
we shall know, even as we are known.”
There, the book of self will be opened. Partly through the craft of Satan, and partly on account of our own wilful obstinacy, self is now little understood, because little studied ; or if studied, the work is conducted in such a spirit that we too often rise from our investigations, complacently self-deceived. But when the archangel's trump shall sound, each individual, instead of viewing, as now, the faults and crimes of others, will be summoned to contemplate "all that his thinking soul hath thought, for glory or for shame."
III. The book of Divine Remembrance will be opened.
Though nature fail, and consciousness be infirm, there is a being whose knowledge is infinite-by whom actions are weighed. Should creation's records be dimmed or effaced, there is nevertheless a record everlastingly vivid and immutably trueHis mind—to whom the darkness and the light are alike; who penetrates every disguise ; who beholds at once the entireness of his universe, as also the parts which compose it.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for our comprehension.
“ Thou God seest me,” said one of old, whose soul was deeply impressed with a sense of the divine presence! And he uttered a truth no less awful than it is certain.
We shrink from publicity when we ld plan or act contrary to conscience. We desire not the presence of human witnesses to our guilt, either in thought or action. Crime courts concealment. Sin shuns the light of day. When the wicked act is done, the sinner endeavors to quiet his conscience, by the flattering unction that no man knoweth it. But in all these calculations of concealment one fact is overlooked and forgotten, viz., there is an ever present, an all beholding spirit--an eye whose lightning glance penetrates every concealment—which discerns all the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The divine knowledge never faileth. To the memory of the Infinite, the unchangeable God, there pertaineth no imperfection. All the acts of our intelligent being are treasured up in his recollection. The plans, thoughts, words, acts of our whole lifeall that has entered into the composition of our moral historyhowever much may have escaped our memory-all is deposited