Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and sea, leading from London to Paris, or Constantinople, and we may add, to all the other cities of the globe, whether his idea was conceived from the structure of the human body or not, would operate just as certainly on the materialist's plan, to constitute the globe, or the ball of this earth a thinking substance, as the mere material mechanism of the human body, bound together by a system of nerves, transmitting impressions from one point of its surface or part of it to another, constitutes man a thinking conscious being.

But here the materialist will allege, that to the particles of matter united in the human body, God has superadded the power of consciousness. But we may add, that inasmuch as these particles though united in one body are nevertheless as really distinct as before their union, they themselves cannot be the subject in which that individual consciousness inheres. That consciousness, or thinking unit can only be the intelligent percipient being at the one end, if we may so remark, of the telegraphic series--something superadded to mechanism, or the human body, which, in all its particles, if we must make use of the expression, is still, itself butone individual conscious being. It follows therefore legitimately that inasmuch as the power of thinking, whatever that power may be, is one individual consciousness, it cannot possibly be a material substance.

If the brute creation should be cited as a proof to the contrary, we would reply that as it regards the characteristic acts of the human mind, there is nothing similar in them, and that even if we should admit the existence of spirit, in connection with the bodies of animals, that will not impose on us the necessity of maintaining their immortality or even intellectuallity. For the immortality of man we affirm is not to be inferred from a mere supposed indestructibility of spirit, but from the constitu. tution or will and agency of God the Creator, and who that admits the existence of spirit, will undertake to say that there may not be endless modifications of spiritual existence, as there are of matter. Undoubtedly angelic and human minds are and must be characteristically as different as are the mind of man and the spirit of the brute."

21

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The human soul not a chain of exercises—The objection against its sub

stantiality drawn from the want of definite conception of its nature not valid-Frightful consequences resulting from the scheme of the exercisists—Destruction of personal identity-Scriptural facts-1. Appearance of Moses and Elias—2. The dying thief-3. Dives and Lazarus. Visions–Of Peter-Of Cornelius—5. Inspiration—6. Scriptural facts—7. Scriptural assertions—Job, xxxiij. 18: Eccles. xii. 7: 2 Cor. v. 1: 2 Cor. v. 8: Heb. xii. 23: Mat. xxii. 22–32-Reflections—The common sense of mankind and the scriptures in accordance-What a noble and illustrious being must man originally have been.

There are others beside the materialist, whose views seem to militate against the doctrine for which we contend. With some it is a favorite idea, that the soul is a mere succcssion or chain of ideas and exercises. The principal argument in support of this scheme is altogether fallacious. It is alleged, by its advocates, that we are, and can be, conscious only of our acts and exercises, and that, of any substance in which they are immanent, or by which they are originated, we can have neither knowledge nor conception. But, admitting all this, it does not therefore follow, that there is not in reality some substance or base, appropriate to thought,—some real existence the peculiar seat or subject of ideas and exercises. For, should we allow ourselves to pursue the assumption in the above objection or argument, viz., that nothing exists of which we have no conception, we should doubt, and disbelieve the existence of every cause, agent and substance whatever.

1

[ocr errors]

The advocates of this scheme, assuredly, do not mean to maintain the absurd and stale objection of the rationalists in religion, that what we cannot understand, does not exist-is not true. Their meaning must be, that they have no appropriate or sufficient evidence of the existence of any thing, beside their own ideas and exercises, inasmuch as they can form no conception of spirit abstracted from such ideas and exercises.? If so, then do we ask what evidence have they of the existence of God? Can they form any distinct conception of His Being? What evidence can they have of any of His attributes? Can they have more definite conceptions of these than of their own being?

Assuredly they do not conceive of God as a mere assemblage of ideas and exercises, but must attribute a unity to His Being. On this subject they cannot doubt. But in what does that evidence consist? By no means in a distinct perception or conception of either His being or His attributes. Why then, if they can form no definite conceptior. of these things, and bow to the evidence of truth which demonstrates them, will they not admit the existence of a spirit, or soul, or immaterial substance in man, if equally appropriate evidence be adduced? Indeed, on this assumption, they must deny the existence of many other things which they nevertheless believe to be true. They must

1 Even the knowledge which we have of our own ideas through consciousness is not a direct purely intellectual apprehension of them. We can only speak of them as analogically known even after consciousness has reported them. "Nothing can be more absurd than for a being composed of spirit and body in strict intimate union, to imagine it can frame either merely sensitive or merely spiritual ideas of its thinking faculty or its acts: And if it has not ideas of either sort separately, consequently it can have no direct and immediate knowledge of its own mind but by complex conceptions, formed from a consciousness of the operations themselves and ideas of sense taken together, and as necessarily mixed and blended in order to this knowledge of itself, as its own essence is in fact composed of matter and spirit.”-Div.

Inal. p. 24

deny the existence of matter too, for they can have no more distinct conception of its substance than of spirit. Yea, and they must deny their own material existence; for of what are we conscious? Not of flesh and blood, nor of the processes of circulation, and secretion, &c. that take place within us, but of our mental acts and our various emotions. Our ideas and feelings are the extent of our consciousness. Will the exercisist presume to rejcct all other evidence with regard to the structure of his frame than that of mere consciousness of acts, or operations? His knowledge of matter is a mere conception of its properties, but does he reject the evidence which proves that there must be some substance in which these properties reside? Yet should he, to act consistently, and thus, by pursuing the miserably fallacious principle on which his scheme is based, he will be found to deny the existence alike of matter and spirit, of God and His universe. Creation becomes a mere assemblage of qualities devoid of reality, and moral agents—the immortal spirits of men a mere concatenation of events!

We can scarcely bring our minds to dwell upon this scheme long enough to give it a dispassionate examination. It is at war with the common sense of mankind. They turn away disgusted with such reasonings; and well they may, for the scriptures call them all a vain philosophy. Every man as it were instinctively reasons, from the actions that he perceives, to the existence of some agent, or cause, or being producing them. Thus his mind becomes convinced of the existence of a God, and thus too he becomes convinced that he himself is something distinct aud different from his acts. God has so constituted us. This is the law of our minds, and if we are led, invariably, in, fallibly, universally to the belief, or conclusion, that the thinking I myself is something different and distinct from thoughts and acts, is not God chargeable with the error, and His whole creation, so far as the operation of mind is

« ZurückWeiter »