almost lost, and the experiences of life so erased that the wife forgot her husband, the mother her children. The natural conclusion would be that this gradual decay ends in extinction. The question might well be asked, whether the individuality, so nearly lost in this world, is likely to be restored by the destruction of the organism. I hope and trust that my feelings are right, which tell me that this world demands a complement. If the evidence of the New Testament is a proof (and not merely a probability of a certain value, variously estimated by different honest persons), there is no need of asking the question. One thing seems to me clear,--that if the future life is to be for the bulk of mankind what the larger part of our pulpits teach, namely, a condition of hopeless woe, there is no reason why we should wish to have proof of another life. The more I consider the doctrine of eternal punishment, the more it seems to me a heathen invention, which has found its way into Christianity, and entirely inconsistent with the paternal character attributed to the Deity. (We must carry to any future sphere the characters we form here; and these must influence, if they do not determine, our condition. Yet it seems in accordance with the paternal principle that any punishment should be reformatory and not vindictive.) One thing is certain: it is impossible to disprove the reality of a future life, and we have all a right to cherish the hope that we may live again under more favorable circumstances, and be able to account for these preliminary arrangements, which, as a finality, are certainly unsatisfactory.1
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 : old Cambridge
Chapter 2 : old Cambridge in three literary epochs
Chapter 3 : Holmes
Chapter 4 : Longfellow
Chapter 5 : Lowell
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