The first day of this month was the grand festival of All Saints, so in past centuries the second of November was set apart in honour of " All Souls." The motives which led to its abolition were doubtless adequate at the time, but yet we may be allowed to regret its abandonment. Undoubtedly there was a certain grandeur, a certain catholicity, a certain triumphant faith, a certain indomitable hope in that ancient commemoration of the departed. It was the feast of All Souls. It is true that it was originally intended only for the faithful departed; for the souls in purgatory. But in the title of the day at any rate there was no exception made. On that day men might think, if they would, of all the souls of all the innocent little ones that have passed away like a breath of vernal air since time began; of all the souls which the great, and the wise, and the aged have sighed forth in pain and weariness after long and noble lives; of all the souls of the wild races of hunters and fishermen in the boundless prairies or the icy floes; of all the souls that have passed, worn and heavy-laden, from the roaring city-streets; of all the souls of those whose life has ebbed away in the red tide of unnumbered battles, or whose bodies have been dropped into the troubled waves unknelled, uncoffined, and, save to their God, unknown; of all the souls even of the guilty, and of the foolish, and of the miserable, and of those who have rushed by wild self-murder into their Maker's presence. All Souls' Day was a day of supplication for, of commemoration of, all these. For these too are souls that He created; into these too He breathed the breath of life; and all these lie in the hollow of His hand as the snows of the countless water-lilies — whether white and immaculate, or torn and stained—lie all on the silver bosom of the lake. Yes, there is a grandeur and sublimity in the thought of all human souls, as one by one they have passed away and been taken to the mercy of the Merciful; and a day might well have been set apart to commemorate, in all humble reverence, their awful immortality. Oui finite imaginations may grow dizzy at the thought of these infinite multitudes,—these who at each ticking of the clock pass from the one thousand millions of the living; the tribes, the generations, the centuries, the millenniums, the aeons of the dead ; all of which are but the leaves—green or fallen— of the mighty Tree of Existence ;—the wave after wave of its illimitable tide. As we think of all these souls, we recall the imagination of the great poet of the Inferno, and seem to be gazing on a white, rushing, indistinguishable whirl of life, sweeping on and on and on, from horizon to horizon, in ever-lengthening cycles and infinite processions, endless, multitudinous, innumerable, as the motes that people the sun's beam. To us, inevitably, in this infinitude, all individuality is lost; human numeration reels at it. But it is not so with Him to whom is known the number of the stars of heaven, and the sands of the sea, and by whom "Every leaf in every nook, Every wave in every brook," are heard as they sing forth their unending Paean all day long. And knowing this, we are not appalled at the thought of these vast multitudes, whose bodies are now the dust of the solid earth, even though so many millions of them have passed away in sin and sorrow, because we can say with the Holy Psalmist of Israel, " O let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before Thee; according to the greatness of Thy power, save Thou those that are appointed to die: so we, that are Thy people and sheep of Thy pasture, shall give Thee thanks for ever, and shall alway be showing forth Thy praise from generation to generation".
Eternal Hope, p. 26.