« السابقةمتابعة »
every system of religion, however rude. The natives of America had this knowledge before the arrival of Columbus ;* the Esquimaux and the Aborigines of New Holland, although sunk the lowest in the human scale, cherish the hope of an after-state of existence. Nature, then, instructs all, that there is such a something within us as the soul-acting as a director of that living machine which we call the body; and this feeling, like all intuition which arises in the animal world, must come from the Creator, and has been given us for good and wise purposes. The voice of the Deity to man in ancient times, either when he was awake or in visions of the night, we term direct revelation, and it confirms the impression which springs from intuition. The powers of reason, which God enables us to exert, furnish additional proof of the same fact.
When Socrates (one of the wisest of the heathen philosophers) was dying, a friend wished to receive directions about his funeral :—“Bury me," said the sage, "wherever you please, provided you can catch me; for it seems that I, Socrates, who now reason with you, cannot convince you that when I quit this lifeless body, I shall be no longer present."+ Cicero has in different places of his works shown that he held a similar opinion of his own nature-"It is not you," he writes on one occasion, "but your body, which is mortal: for you are not what you appear to be; but it is the mind
This is a curious and important fact. Mr. Irving, in his life of Columbus, tells us, that in the great island of St. Domingo, "they had confused notions of the existence of the soul when separated from the body, and believed in apparitions of the deceased. They had an idea that the spirits of good men after death were reunited to the spirits of those they had most loved, and to those of their ancestors: they were transported to a happy region.-" Chap. XXI. In the same work, an interesting anecdote is given of a venerable Indian, a native of Cuba, who told Columbus that they believed souls went after death to a dismal or to a delightful place, according as their lives on earth had been.
Abridged Life of Columbus. Family Lib.
+ Quoted, with concurrence in the belief, by that eminent physiologist, John Abernethy, in a lecture delivered by him before he Royal College of Surgeons, London, on the system of Phrenology
which is the non.
The celebrated address of the Roman
“Anmala, vazza, blandala,
Hostes comesque corporis.
Which may be thus freely translated :—
Etherial spirit, child of air!
Once cheerful guest within my breast;
Ye think not now of mirth but flight,
And seem'st all startl'd, shiv'ring, dying;
The Rev. Dr. Blair thus expresses himself on the nature of
* The words of Cicero are-" Tu habeto, te non esse mortalem, sed corec enim is es quem forma ista declarat ; sed mens cujusque is est quis
Cicero de Senectute.
mankind have in general agreed in holding the soul to be an immaterial substance; that is, a substance the nature of which we cannot explain or define farther than that it is a substance quite distinct from matter. This being once admitted, it clearly follows, that since thought depends not upon matter, from the dissolution of the material part, we have no ground to infer the destruction of the thinking part of man."
Whether man, if he had been left entirely to his own judgment and reasoning powers, would have discovered that he had a soul-that his mind or will was distinct from his corporeal frame, it is hard to say; but when the Creator communicated the fact to us through the medium of what is well known under the denomination of instinct or intuition,* then we can easily find reasons and weighty arguments for its truth, and are sometimes led to fancy these proceed entirely from our own wisdom. The train of reasoning nevertheless may seem to have suggested itself very naturally, and is thus detailed by Dr. Crombie :-" When man becomes acquainted with the various faculties of his mind, and what they are capable of accomplishing, observing also the subserviency of the body to the government of the will, he perceives that his mental powers are so unlike to the qualities and properties of gross matter, that they must belong, he concludes, to something of a more refined character than brute material substance. Unable, however, to divest himself of the notion that nothing can exist which may not be seen or touched, he forms a conception of some attenuated matter, some aerial being, by whatever name it may be called, whether soul, or breath, or spirit, which lives and thinks within him. It is still, however, material; and he perceives, on reflection, that the difficulty, though apparently diminished, is not removed. He is thence led to proceed one step farther, and to conclude, that the simple individual being, which he believes himself to be, can have no resemblance to
* Dr. Thomas Brown justly terms instinct “an internal revelation from on high."
matter which is composed of parts."-"The philosopher presumes not to say what the soul is; but he is persuaded that it is not material. He denies it to be a property or an effect; and affirms it to be a substance and a cause, imperceptible indeed by corporeal organs, but known, through internal sense and reflection, by its powers and properties, as matter is known, through its external sense, by its sensible qualities."*
Mr. Drew, by a fair and forcible train of natural reasoning, proves that the soul must be an uncompounded essence, differing in its qualities from all known properties of matter -therefore cannot be subject to death by dissolution as the body is;—that it must be immortal from the very nature given it by God; and that consciousness is an inherent quality which it therefore cannot lose by the death of the mortal frame in which it merely resides while here, and uses as its means of communicating with this world.†
It has been often stated as an objection to the separate conscious being of the soul, that it could not act without the body, by which in life here it sees and hears; but an intimate connexion with the bodily frame does not necessarily imply, that the governing spirit is entirely dependent upon it and an inherent quality or function of the visible or material part of man; and this may be shown by revelation, by arguments, and by facts, all tending to prove the evident independence in certain cases of the one upon the other, from which the general inference may fairly be drawn, that the soul does not suffer even a temporary state of inactivity or insensibility on the death of the body, and consequently must live on in possession of its present and probably new and much superior faculties when the body lies dead and dissolved.
* Natural Theology, &c. Vol. II. p. 452—4.
+ An original essay on the immateriality and immortality of the human soul, founded solely on physical and rational principles, by Samuel Drew, A. M. 5th edit. 1831.
We cannot explain how the angelic spirits act independently of body, and until we can do so, we cannot expect to be able to determine in what mode the soul acts without the aid of corporeal organs. We believe that the great Father and God of the universe is a Spirit, and does not act by means of a bodily frame, and this being admitted, removes any objection which might be brought against the possibility of a spirit acting by its own power and without corporeal organs.t
There can be no reasonable doubt, that the soul, when entirely clear of the body, can exert both intelligence and activity. It can even do so without the aid of the body in many things while in it, as shall soon be illustrated. Even now we cannot explain how our souls see and hear,-how we think or understand,-how we remember least of all, though we have continual experience of all these operations in ourselves. And must it be thought strange, that we cannot tell how our souls shall understand and operate when out of their bodies, that being a state of which we never yet had any experience? Indeed, while our souls are wrapped in this flesh, we can no more imagine how they shall act when divested of it, than a child in the womb (even though we should suppose it to have the actual understanding of an adult person) can conceive what kind of life or world this is into which it is afterwards to be born. We can no more conceive the manner of the soul's operation when absent from the body, than a man born blind can understand a discourse on colours, or comprehend all the wonders and mysteries of the science of Optics. Who can take upon himself to say, that it is impossible man can afterwards have more than the senses which he at present possesses, or that those which he has may not be increased in a wonderful degree!
* St. John iv. 24.
"By the soul," says Archbishop Tillotson, "we mean a part of man distinct from his body, or a principle in him which is not matter," again-“supposing that there is a God, who is essentially a spirit, there can be no doubt of the possibility of such a thing as a spirit."
1st Sermon on 2 Tim. i. 10.