Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

duces an important change! In this awful moment, life. retires, and death usurps its place; animation ceases in an instant ; vitality disappears, and the immaterial spirit, dislodged from its habitation, repairs immediately to a state of certainty, to anticipate the destiny that awaits it in another world. By what peculiar application of power this change is wrought, is a question that forms no part of our present inquiry ; it is sufficient for us to know that this actually takes place, and that it cannot be accomplished by a mere nonentity.

If then those changes to which we refer are in actual existence, and these changes cannot be produced by a nonentity, because a nonentity can produce no effects ; it follows that some active influence must be admitted to exist, to produce those changes which we discover taking place in death. In what light soever death may appear unto us, whether with an existence that is positive, or only relative; we have demonstrative evidence that the influence exercised on the occasion, is not uninfluencing ; and consequently, we are satisfactorily assured that it cannot be a nonentity,

Can then that influence, which produces such important changes, and which since it separates soul and body, cannot be a nonentity, be finally removed by a nonentity ? Or, can we possibly suppose that the mere removal of an entity is a nonentity in itself? If so, action, and the reverse of action must be the same ; and entity and nonentity can have nothing to distinguish them from each other ; in this case the removal of a positive inflųence, and the removal of nothing must be alike, since the term nonentity will equally apply to both, And hence, since the conclusion undeniably follows, we may be assured that the principle itself must necessarily be false, which breaks down all distinctions between entity and nonentity, and blends to: gether without any discrimination, that which is, and that which is not.

If then the removal of an entity, cannot be in itself a nonentity, nor effected by one ; some considerable change must be produced by the application of that energy, through which the influence of death will be removed. And certain it is that the change will be considerable, in proportion to the magnitude of that influence which is removed by this adequate cause, whatever may be its nature. As therefore, the influence which death extended, produced those effects which we discover, in the separation of soul and body, and in the final dissolution of the bodily parts, so this counteracting energy (which cannot be a nonentity) must produce effects congenial to its own nature. And, as the destruction of death, is one of those effects which must result from the removal of moral evil, the intrinsic nature of this counteracting energy must manifest itself in reuniting the soul and body, when death shall be no more. Therefore, as the influence of death produced, by its operations, the dissolution of the human body; this adequate cause through which the influence of death is removed, must coun

[ocr errors]

teract the effects of that influence which it destroys, and finally result in the resurrection of the body from the grave, as an inevitable consequence.

From these reasonings, which have been advanced in the preceding paragraphs, it will follow by a natural inference, that when the influence is totally removed, the body cannot remain in a state of torpor. For, as that influence, through which the body had been reduced to a state of dissolution, could not be a nonentity ; so the cause through which this influence is counteracted, must be admitted to have a similar state of existence ; because those effects, which we behold on death and dissolution, can only be counteracted by an active energy. Now, as all influence, in the nature of things, must produce some effect to be entitled to that appellation ; so this counteracting energy produces its effects also, in the removal of the influence of death. And, as the effects, produced by the influence of death, were torpor and inactivity; so the effects produced by this energy, through which the influence of death shall be removed, must be the reverse, which is a destruction of torpor and inactivity. They must therefore finally issue in a restoration of the body to animation and vigour ; and consequently, in a resurrection of the body from the sleep of death. For, as a separation of soul and body is the immediate effect of death (or probably is death itself) so, the removal of it must be a reunion of both, since nothing less can be the reverse. And as, by its disunion from the soul, the body had been reduced

to a state of corruption, and its component parts had been dissolved and separated from one another; so, in order to effect the reunion of soul and body, the body must be restored to life and activity; and, since death is presumed to be no more, life and activity must necessarily put on immortal vigour.

The primary source of all our calamities, in what form soever they, assail us, must be moral evil; and the fatal succession which appears to take place in those changes which we undergo, seems to proceed in the following order. Moral evil produces death, death, which either produces, or consists in a separation of soul and body, produces torpor, and this finally issues in the separation of the component bodily parts. And, whether we begin at the primary cause, which is moral evil, and trace onward to its remotest consequences, or begin at the remotest consequence, and trace upward to its primary cause, all our inquiries must centre in moral evil ; and we must view it as the real parent and legitimate source of all those natural evils* and calamities which afflict the human race.

[ocr errors]

* On the moral consequences of moral evil, much may be said to distinguish them from those natural evils, of which I have spoken. But, these consequences can have little or no connection with those physical causes, which I have been attempting to investigate. They will undoubtedly remain as punishments to the individuals, to whom they apply ; but we can have no conception of any punishment which includes eternal inertness and unconscious inactivity. A resurrection therefore to immortal vigour, and perpetual life, seems to follow from the abové principle ; and all individuals both good and bad, must rise from their graves to receive their respective rewards.

[graphic]

SECTION IV.

On the Effects which may be expected to result

from the Annihilation of Death, when considered as having only a relative Existence. Probation confined to the present State,

That the human body in the moment of its separation from its immortal partner, and also in all the subsequent stages of its dissolution, must undergo

We are

told expressly in the book of God, that all that are

in the graves shall come forth ; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation

The degrees of punishment due to lapsed intelligences, seem, however, to arise not from physical, but moral causes ; and they must perpetually remain in close connection with the mo. ral justice of God. In what manner the morality and immorality of human actions are to be precisely estimated, is hardly à branch of the human province ; it rather appears to be a question, which in all probability is too vast for the mind of man to grasp. It is sufficient, that God has pointed out both our privileges and our duties; and we rest ourselves assured that the Judge of the whole earth, unable to act inconsistently with bis nature, must dispense justice with an impartial hand, and therefore must do right; so that individuals as well as nations must ultinately acknowledge that rectitude, which regulates his ways, both in time and in eternity. And, though difficulties, which seem inexplicable, involve the moral economy of God, in his government of the universe ; yet he has in the midst of our blindness, communicated to us a sufficiency of information, through which we see that these difficulties which encircle us, arise not from the imperfection of his ways, but from the limited state of the human intelļect, which must necessarily be unable to comprehend, or even to penetrate the complicated parts of the amazing whole.

« ForrigeFortsett »