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In view of all these facts, and many more that could be given, pertaining both to our internal and external life, well may we ask, in the spirit of a profound Christian philosophy
- Where were these ideas and images in the mind all this time? Surely they were there, and only waiting the recurrence of similar states, to bring them vividly into consciousness again. Thus, whether we understand it fully or not, in all the connections, there is an interior and an exterior memory; and it is upon this inmost tablet of the soul, that our whole life-experience is recorded with an exactness and particularity which admit of no power of escape.
And even if we had no revelation so much fuller and more perfect, these facts would point to a fair and definite conclusion concerning our life beyond death. As it is, they mutually confirm each other. In that spiritual world; how surely shall we be the self-same creatures which we have made ourselves in this! For the spiritual world is but this world uncovered. And how fearful is the thought on the one hand, and consoling on the other, that, during our whole life here on earth, we are really treasuring up in the interiors of the soul, by every thought, feeling, and action ; by all our sorrows, pleasures, temptations, successes, disappointments; by all our knowledge and wisdom; by all our folly and wickedness; by every association with persons and things, and by all our employments; - treasuring up a substantial form of life in the soul, which we must take with us into the spiritual world, and make the groundwork of our existence there ! Nay, that we must see this panorama of our past life, and realize how fully and exactly it has become interwoven into the soul! And from this, too, we are to go on gathering a new experience, but infallibly connected with and likened to the past, through eternal ages and ever-increasing variety of life! “ Memory, indeed, seems intended to qualify us to treasure impressions in all worlds, and to carry on the record and history of our feelings from time to eternity. The everlasting future grows upon the past; remembrance is the basis of eternal
knowledge.” And as no particle of matter can be annihilated, but is only passed through a succession of changes, so no part of spirit, and no part of the experience of any spirit; but what has been done exists. somewhere in the vast universe of souls
of which every individual is a part and parcel. And it can be reproduced with infinite exactness. But as before observed, it will not always or in all respects be necessary ; we shall not have our past life continually before us; but the power to do this resides with God in the soul. And, at times, the soul is let into its previous states, that it may see itself as it was and is, for humiliation and correction. Even with the natural memory, such is sometimes the case.
“Although the external or natural memory is in man after death, still the merely natural things which are therein are not reproduced in the other life, [except occasionally, H. H. 461,] but the spiritual things which are adjoined to the natural things by correspondences; which things, nevertheless, when they are presented to the sight, appear in a form altogether similar, as in the natural world.” H. H. 464.
In fact, to have any part of our experience annihilated would be to destroy the individuality of the spirit, and to imagine a providence without a purpose.
There is another idea connected with this subject. We frequently find ourselves in possession of stores of ideas, without previously being aware of it, or knowing how they got there. How often is this felt in writing and in speaking. The reason of this is, that in addition to a continual influx from the spiritual world, the experience of the past has been faithful to us. And it has not been in vain that we have been carried through this or that particular experience - directed to read this or that book — listened to this or that sermon - and passed so strangely through a multitude of occurrences. They all have done their part in helping to form and impress the soul, and have faithfully recorded their impressions in the book and
volume of the brain.” Perhaps, now, in the future world, we may be privileged to see the connection of these experiences, and how every idea and feeling has had its orderly occurrence, so far as it could have, in reference to our various states, and the final end of all; so that we may be able to read the providence of God in the minutest circumstances of our life — to trace the connection between little things and great things between what we are, and what we have been called to suffer and enjoy - to see how a train of mental associations was instrumental in exciting us to this or that course of conduct and how necessary certain things were that we deemed trivial or disgusting — and how our whole life has been subject to the guidance of a wise and beautiful providence. In short, we may there learn the force of circumstances in developing character; and by the memory and experience of the past, be able to converse on this subject with higher orders of intelligences ; and with a clear,
reason, see that our living spirits have been exposed in this world of trial and darkness, to nothing trivial, nothing accidental; but that other spirits, invisible to us, have been permitted to be busy with our sensations and thoughts, for specific purposes suited to our case ; either for temptation, or for withdrawment from temptation, to turn us from our own devices, for spiritual exaltation, or, may we not say, for the more mysterious abandonment of the soul to evil ; thereby the better to exhibit the awful sublimity of the Divine Government, which shall finally educe good from every evil, and render darkness itself the medium of glory.” * The revelations of Swedenborg on this head assure us of the most thrilling interest and the completest satisfaction, in thus contemplating in the spiritual world, our past career and our varied fortunes in this life.
Finally, it is to be observed that this Memory of the soul is the Book of our Life, spoken of in the Scriptures. How often
* See “Power of the Soul over the Body,” for this extract, and a few altered lines previous.
is it said that we are to be judged out of a book - that "a book of remembrance was written for them that feared the Lord and thought upon his name.” (Mal. 3: 16.) It is sometimes called the “book of God's remembrance,” but it is man's remembrance, given to him of God. It is the style of the Scriptures to speak of God's doing what man, by the divine providence, does in his own soul. Again, that “the dead, both small and great, stood before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things that were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev. 20: 12.) The books that were here opened were the interiors of the minds, or the memory of the wicked; and the other book, which was the book of life, is the interior memory of the good. What other books can be referred to ? A book, in spiritual language, corresponds to the mind, because it contains the writer's thoughts and intentions. Book of life, sure enough! Book of our own life! which we have written ourselves, and within whose ominous folds are recorded with infinite precision, every thought and act, upon immortal tablets ! It is this volume, upon which we have been so busily at work for so many years, which is to be opened and read by us, from the beginning to the end of it. And how shall every villany, every secret sin, there stand forth in letters of living light! and every virtue, every holy aspiration, all that has been done in secret silence of the mind, also shine in characters of heaven upon the page of our existence ! It is in this way that “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12: 14.) Also, “ that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day [or state] of judgment.” (Matt. 12: 36.) Idle words are expressions of thoughts; and thoughts, of some love or affection. We understand the philosophy of the statement, and we need be no longer in doubt of the fact.
Such is the Memory. It is the basis and instrument of the
eternal providence of God, and in vain should we attempt a clear and full idea of the great theme we are treating, without an understanding of its nature. It is by this that all providences are connected, and that nothing can happen to man's spiritual life without being carefully treasured up in the Divine substantial archives, and made to tell through infinity and eternity. Oh, wonderful and mighty contemplation! How applicable to mortal man !
“We take no note of time
“My hopes and fears