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without exciting in the beholder any sense of disappointment. But the flower-bud holds out a different prospect. If the canker-worm devour it ere it bloom into a rose, we are sensible of grievous failure; and a garden in which all the buds should so perish would be more hideous than any desert. The body of a man grows to its full stature and complete development; but no man has ever yet reached his loftiest mental stature, or the plenitude of moral strength and beauty of which he is capable. If the simile be just which compares the physical nature to a scaffolding, and the spiritual to the temple built up within it, then we behold the strange anomaly of a mere framework made so perfect that it could gain nothing were it preserved to the fabulous age of the patriarchs, while the temple within is never finished, and is often an unsightly heap. The “ City of God” cannot be built of piles never to be completed, nor His Garden of Souls filled with flowers destined all to canker ere they bloom.
IV. Human love also urges on us an appeal to Faith which has probably been to millions of hearts the most conclusive of all. We are fond of quoting the assertion, that
66'Tis better to have loved and lost
But its truth may very much be questioned, unless we can trust that the “many waters” of the Dark River “cannot quench love," and that we shall surely rejoice still in that light of life upon the further shore. Intense
love becomes torture if we believe it to be a transient joy, the “meteor gleam of a starless night," and fear that it must soon go out in unfathomable gloom. To think of the one whose innermost self is to us the world's chief treasure, the most beautiful and blessed thing God ever made, and believe that at any moment that mind and heart may cease to be, and become only a memory, every noble gift and grace extinct, and all the fond love for ourselves forgotten for ever,—this is such agony, that having once known it we should never dare again to open our hearts to affection, unless some ray of hope should dawn for us beyond the grave. Love would be the curse of mortality were it to bring always with it such unutterable pain of anxiety, and the knowledge that every hour which knitted our heart more closely to our friend also brought us nearer to an eternal separation. Better never to have ascended to that high Vita Nuova where self-love is lost in another's weal, better to have lived like the cattle which browse and sleep while they wait the butcher's knife, than to endure such despair.
But is there nothing in us which refuses to believe all this nightmare of the final sundering of loving hearts ? Love itself seems to announce itself as an eternal thing. It has such an element of infinity in its tenderness, that it never fails to seek for itself an expression beyond the limits of time, and we talk, even when we know not what we mean, of “undying affection,” “immortal love." It is the only passion which in the nature of things we can carry with us into another world, and it is fit to be prolonged, intensified, glorified for ever.
It is not so much a joy we may take with us, as the only joy which can make any world a heaven when the affections of earth shall be perfected in the supreme love of God. It is the sentiment which we share with God, and by which we live in Him and He in us. All its beautiful tenderness, its noble self-forgetfulness, its pure and ineffable delight, are the rays of God's Sun of Love reflected in our souls.
Is all this to end in two poor heaps of silent dust decaying slowly in their coffins side by side in the vault? If so, let us have done with prating of any Faith in heaven or earth. We are mocked by a fiend. Mephistopheles is on the throne of the universe.
V. Another and very remarkable moral argument for Immortality was put forth some years ago by Prof. Newman, and has never (to my knowledge) attracted the attention it deserves. It cannot be stated more succinctly than in his own volume of “Theism” (p. 75). After describing our pain at the loss of a friend, he continues :
“But if Virtue grieve thus for lost virtue justly,
How then must God, the Fountain of Virtue, feel?
Even so, some might judge the Divine heart likewise
the holy, Such love as man has for man in pure and sacred friendship, We seem justly to infer that those whom God loves are death
Else would the Divine blessedness be imperfect and impaired.
In short, close friendship between the Eternal and the Perishing
In the five ways now specified, the moral arguments drawn from the phenomena of human life and sentiment, and from all that we may conjecture of the Divine purposes, lead up indirectly to the conclusion that there must be another act of the drama after that on which the curtain falls at death.
There remain some other lines of thought converging towards the same end which cannot now be followed
out; as, for example, the ennobling influence of the belief in Immortality; which Faith refuses to trace to a delusion. Space only can be reserved to touch briefly on the two forms in which mankind possesses something like a direct consciousness of a Life after Death, and in which Faith therefore speaks immediately and without any preliminary argument. These two forms are: 1st, the general dim consciousness of the mass of mankind that the soul of a man never dies; 2nd, the specific vivid consciousness of devout men that their spiritual union with God is eternal.
VI. The first of these forms of direct faith is too familiar a topic to need much elucidation. The extreme variability of its manifestations in nations and individuals makes it difficult to estimate its just value, and to decide whether we have a right to treat it as a mere tradition, or as the quasi-universal testimony of the soul to its own natural superiority to death. It may be remarked, however, that the belief, when examined carefully (e.g. as in Alger's admirable History of the Doctrine of a Future Life), bears very much the characteristics we should attribute to a real and spontaneous instinct, and not to any common tradition, such as that of a Deluge, -disseminated by the various branches of the human family in their migrations. 1st. The belief begins early, though probably not in the very earl stage of human development. 2nd. It attains its maximum among the highest races of mankind in the great primary forms of civilization (e.g. the Egyptian, Vedic