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which could retain so much of its earthly constitution as would render it a visible substance, or cause it in any one point to resemble that material body of which the immortal soul is now the inhabitant. Can there, then, be in Scripture a true foundation for that faith which, professing the resurrection of the body, is accustomed to realise the idea of an appearance visible, limited, and material ?
That which has a beginning, may be now, but must have an end :
The human body has had a beginning :
Therefore, the human body may be now, but must have an end.
“ Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord: (for we walk by faith, not by sight:) we are confident, I say,
and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” b
a See Note A.
b 2 Cor. v. 6—8.
THE SOUL OF MAN.
HERE, then, let us pause; and, while believing that our material, limited, and temporary body will, in its mysterious change, be conformed to the image of that One Spiritual Being who is immaterial, infinite, and eternal; while rejoicing in the assurance that “whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God,” that we dwell in Him, and He in us a; while thus reposing trustfully in the promises of eternal life, let us turn to contemplate that other spiritual Being, that immortal soul, in the presence of which within his mortal frame every Christian believes. For proof of its existence we need not refer to the critical examination of Locke into the nature of simple and complex ideas, nor to the material conceptions of the modern German school. Our own reflection is sufficient to convince us that, in addition to the presence of various ideas, there dwells within us another power or faculty, which takes note of their appearance and of their ever-changing aspects. It is this self-consciousness, in itself immaterial and unchanging, which constitutes our continuous identity; and whether we give to it the name of “prima vita," or "anima animarum,” or “spiritûs afflatus," — whether it be called life, or soul, or spirit, — that “ ÚTÓCTAVIS ” which causes our present self to be the same with the self which will be a partaker in the resurrection, which will stand before the judgment-seat, and there receive the irrevocable sentence of eternal happiness or punishment, must be consistent with that self, whether it be material or immaterial, limited or infinite, temporal or eternal.
1 John, iv. 15.
Some of the more enlightened philosophers of antiquity entertained a notion, though perhaps a vague one, of the immortality of the soul. Plato appears to have taught this doctrine, and to have supported his belief by four distinct arguments.
The first of these rests upon the belief which a philosopher entertains, that, as man is born to know the Creator, he must necessarily be born to know the truth; and that as this knowledge can never be attained while his body upon earth remains as an obstacle to the aspirations of the
soul, perfect knowledge must be reserved for a future life: and hence the doctrine of immortality.
The second argument is drawn from the principle that contraries produce their contraries; and that, consequently, as life ends in death, so must death produce life.
The third argument is supported by our conviction, that as we now possess a knowledge – intelligent, that is, not a sensible knowledge — of certain qualities, such as justice and equality, unattainable in this life, so must we previously have known such intellectual and perfect Being. Hence the belief in the remembrance of a previous state of existence, or, rather, in another and eternal sphere of consciousness.
The fourth argument rests upon the nature of the soul. The soul is simple and immaterial; and as destruction can only take effect upon compounded bodies, Socrates states that the soul must necessarily be incapable of dissolution.
These arguments are well worthy the serious attention of us all. By the examination of them perception is quickened, comprehension enlarged, and reason strengthened; the disposition is softened, feelings of devotion and veneration are aroused, and our hopes and thoughts are taught to dwell upon an eternal and a spiritual creation. Such would be the principal result, and one highly conducive to the development of man's better powers; but that contemplated by the philosopher, that which is indeed the very object of the whole discourse, can scarcely be said to have been attained. After a careful perusal of these arguments, although perhaps no decided objection may arise in the mind of the inquirer, his reason remains unconvinced. He is aware of a high degree of probability, but the full consciousness of certainty is, I think, wanting, and he is unable to yield that unqualified assent which arises only when the mind feels thorough inward sensation of satisfaction.
" It appears, then, that whatever arguments may
have been adduced, and with whatever effect, in favour of the natural and necessary immortality of the soul, at least the natural and necessary tendency of virtue to earn a happy immortality can never have been discovered by human reason; because nothing can, properly speaking, be discovered which is not true.
“ But it has been my endeavour to show that the arguments which human reason actually did or might suggest in favour of a future immortality