"Help Thou mine Unbelief"

As I was emerging from boyhood I read one day a strong and beautiful poem whose lofty thought enshrined in noble words lingered in my memory for a long time, but in the passing of many years it seemed to have disappeared wholly from my conscious remembrance. A few days ago I came across the poem and read it again. Except as modified by the changes wrought in myself by time, much of the fervor of my former admiration was renewed; the fogs seemed to lift from my memory, and all the attendant circumstances as well as the ardent impressions of its first perusal arose vividly before me. It is evident that the event had therefore never been obliterated from what I may call my unconscious memory.

According to the teaching of psychology, it is not improbable, indeed it is quite probable, that all the impressions made upon our mentality, including our imagination, reason, emotions, even our prejudices, are more or less indelible, however unconscious we may become of their possession. Our beliefs may and do undergo many conscious transformations, but it is very probable that the impressions of all our former beliefs remain with us, and that they continue to have some influence over us. I cannot conjecture how much or how little the reading of the inspiring poem in my impressionable boyhood may have affected my subsequent life; but I am entirely sure that it did affect it to no inconsiderable extent, and I feel equally sure that every false belief I have ever cherished, as well as every impure and vicious emotion or imagination I have ever entertained has affected my subsequent life to no inconsiderable extent. The hosts of our beliefs continue to haunt us, and are more or less recognizable. Their shadowy hands help to build the structures of our lives. We are truly fortunate if the lines in Henry VI. do not apply to us,—

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The Church
April 23, 1904
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