« VorigeDoorgaan »
plied, not to distinguish one part of man from the other, but to the whole man. This observation is certainly just, for these terms are often used in that lax sense. But if men and persons are often, by a figure, which puts a part for the whole, called souls, one would certainly suppose it was because the soul is the most distinguished and glorious part of man, that it was so often used for that compound being. We can scarcely suppose that man should be so called, (as we are told that lucus is derived a non lucendo) because he has no soul. He also acknowledges that this term is often opposed to the body, or flesh, and quotes a good many scriptures in which it is thus opposed. Now, this very opposition settles the controversy; fór, upon the principles of Materialism, they cannot even be distinguished, much less opposed. We may call one part of our frame the soul, and another part the body, but they are all equally material. We cannot follow his Lordship through all the arguments, which he uses to show, that there is no intermediate state, but we shall attend to a few of the principal of them.
" The wicked shall not be severed from the righteous till the resurrection." There will certainly be no complete and final separation till the resurrection, but Lazarus and the rich man were, in the intermediate state, separated by a gulf which could not be passed.-“ We are upon trial, or in a state of probation, till the resurrection, or the day of Christ." Those who are alive are so, till they die; but how those who are in the grave can, upon his own principles, be in a state of probation or trial, is not easy to be understood; for he does not suppose that they can think, or act there._. Sincere Christians shall not have boldness, or confidence, before Christ, till the resurrection.” He quotes two texts of scripture, (1 John, ii. 28,
and iv. 17) which affirm that Christians shall have confidence before Christ at his coming, and boldness in the day of judgment, and then pronounces that they shall not have confidence and boldness before that time. The first declaration is that of the Apostle, the second is an inference of his own.- .-6. The virtuous shall not be rewarded till the resurrection.” Certainly the reward of the righteous will not be complete, till the resurrection. But even in this life, the effect of righteousness is peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, which are a part of that reward; and the bliss enjoyed in the intermediate state, by the spirits of just men made perfect, is another part; though the full reward be deferred till the resurrection of the just.—“ They, their faith, labours, and sufferings, are lost, perished, unprofitable, if there be no resurrection”. 1 Cor. xv. 18,-58, &c. It is only necessary to observe here, that those who believe in an intermediate state, do not adopt the absurd hypothesis of the Platonists, and some other philosophers, that the soul is the whole of man, and, consequently, they allow that if one component part of him were for ever lost, the labours and sufferings of the Christian, which are those of the whole man, must likewise perish; and his faith, the object of which is the complete salvation of the whole man, must also perish. The happiness of the disembodied spirit of man is not the happiness of the man. To form this happiness, the soul and body must be re-united, and the same individual who lived in this world be made to live again, and to be crowned with eternal glory in the world to come.—“The wicked will not be punished till the resurrection.” The punishment of the whole man certainly cannot take place, when a part of him is dissolved; and though the Scripture speaks of the happiness of Lazarus, and the misery of the rich man, in an intermediate state, it never supposes it to be the happiness or misery of the whole man ; though by a common figure of speech, the remaining conscious part is put for the whole. The full punishment of the wicked cannot take place, till the sentence be publicly passed upon them all collected together, which time the Scripture calls the Day of Judgment. But as a criminal suffers much from his imprisonment, before sentence is passed upon him, and before its full execution, so those spirits that are shut up in prison cannot but suffer from their present consciousness of guilt, and from the knowledge of the more dreadful doom to which they are reserved.
Upon the supposition that the soul of man is immortal, and will never cease to exist, that immortality had by rebellion against God, become its curse, and made it subject to everlasting misery. The interposition of God to rescue countless millions from the bitter agonies of eternal death, and to raise them to everlasting bliss and glory, by the incarnation and sufferings of his own Son, (the most wonderful act of Divine mercy and goodness) has in it an object of great and infinite importance. If one soul be of such value, that its importance is fairly stated in the following beautiful lines of a great poet
“ Know'st thou th' importance of a soul immortal ?
Dr, Young's COMPLAINT. NIGHT 7.
What then must be the value of numbers without number! If the price paid, was beyond all our powers of calculation, the misery from which, and the happiness to which they are redeemed, also transcend all our conceptions, and we see an end, of infinite consequence, attained by means which, without the discoveries of revelation, it could never have entered into the heart of man to conceive.—But upon the other supposition, that sin has rendered the souls of men mortal, and put them upon a level with the beasts that perish, and that the whole man descends into the grave, the means of our Redemption are still the same; but the end of it is infinitely diminished, and the Son of God has become man, suffered and died, not to ransom immortal suuls, but only to resuscitate mortal frames. In fine, upon this supposition, the Saviour died, not to redeem us from everlasting misery, but to restore us again to existence.-" They who hold the soul to be only a quality, and yet talk of its sleep between death and the resurrection, use a jargon which confounds all languages, as well as all reason. For such a sleep is annihilation; and the waking again, a new creation.”*
All men who have believed in a future state, with the exception of a few philosophers, have believed that state to commence at death, and that dismission from this life was the entrance into that new condition of being. Upon the belief of that transition being immediate, the force of the doctrine of a future world, as a motive of action, in a great measure depends. Tell a man, that after he has lain three hundred and sixty five thousand years in the grave,f
• Divine Legation, Book vi, Sec. 4.
# Dr. Priestley, in his Institutes, supposes the duration of the Millennium, which is to take place before the end of the world, to extend to that period.
without consciousness, he shall be again created, and rise to give an account of his actions at the tribunal of his Judge, you remove in his apprehension the day of retribution to such a distance, that he feels himself but little interested in its consequences. But tell him, and bring him to believe, that the door which shuts upon this world, opens into the world of eternity ; and that the first step from time is into an everlasting scene of bliss or of misery; that his soul shall, when it leaves his body, pass into heaven or hell, you place before him a consideration in which he has not a distant, but a present and a powerful interest, that comes home to his hopes and to his fears. He cannot be ignorant that his life here is but a momentary existence,-an existence, on which no dependence can be placed, even for a day.
OF NECESSITARIANISM AND NECESSITA
The doctrine of Necessity seems to be the legitimate consequence of the former. If man be nothing more than a piece of organized matter, if his soul be no immortal spirit, but something which arises from the peculiar texture of his brain, it is undoubtedly fit that such a piece of mechanism should be governed by the laws of other mechanical bodies. To talk to such a being of moral government, of virtue, or of vice, except in Mr. Hume's sense of these words, by which virtue means nothing more than a good sound constitution, or a handsome shape ;