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rection of the body must be demanded by the moral and retributive justice of God.
On these, and facts like these it is, that we behold the distinction which subsists between the natural effects and the moral consequences of sin, as they apply to man. We behold the former depending upon moral evil as its natural cause : and we perceive the latter in close connection with the moral justice of God. The former must expire when its natural cause shall perish ; while the latter must continue until moral justice can be no more. In death I have supposed that moral evil'shall expire ; and consequently that death must then give place to life." But, as the moral consequences of sin are founded upon an immutable cause; these consequences must survive time and continue through eternity. If, therefore, we conclude that rewards and
punishments will continue as the moral consequences of guilt and virtue, and continue for
while death, the natural effect of sin, shall be done away; we shall behold all the parts of the economy of heaven harmonizing together, and even the natural effects of moral evil making way for the great displays of infinite justice and mercy. And, by being rendered subservient to the wise designs of God, they shall tend to the developement of those attributes, through which all finite lapsed intelligences will be held forth, either as monuments of justice or of mercy through all duration, even for ever and
n what personal identity consists, is an important question, which has been frequently agitated and variously discussed ; and on this account it may appear presumptuous rather than prudent in me, to attempt an investigation of a subject on which the learned world has been so much and so long divided. But, since it is a point which is inseparably connected with the resurrection of the body from the grave; I am under a necessity of examining briefly its evidences, and nature, in order to fix some criterion that may serve to solve some of those difficulties with which the subject of the resurrection appears to be perplexed.
It is an opinion which has obtained the sanction of general suffrage that “ personal identity consists in consciousness.” Whether this opinion be true or false I take not upon me presumptuously to determine ; but certain I am, that my habits of reflection have produced in my mind a different conviction, and led me to conclude that this consciousness, which with many, has been thought to constitute identity, is no more than an evidence which we have
of it. For, as consciousness implies a substance in which it inheres; so, this consciousness rather presupposes than constitutes that identity which is attributed to it.
It is certain, I think beyond all doubt, that our consciousness of any given fact can never constitute that fact; nay, the fact itself must stand or fall independently of our consciousness of it; and must in the order of nature, have had an existence previously to any consciousness which we could possibly possess of it. Existence, therefore, and our conscious ness of it are two distinct ideas.
In addition to the above observation, I think it will appear equally evident, that, though some particular action might have been performed by me, of which at present I have no recollection, while I am destitute of all consciousness, I am at the same time totally deprived of all evidence of the fact itself ; and consequently, my consciousness which in this case must be absent, can never constitute the identity either of the action, or of any person or thinking substance, by which that action was performed. If, therefore, personal identity consists in consciousness, it will be extremely difficult for us to ascertain, as in the case before us, whether identity can remain after all consciousness of it is totally done away. There can, I think, be no doubt, that our consci
any given fact will be admitted by ourselves as decisive evidence of that fact; while this consciousness remains.;, and this evidence will sufficiently prove to us the existence of the fact itself.
But then, this consciousness of the fact being only a simple action of the mind, must be brought into contact with the fact, to the certainty of which it becomes evidence. And as this consciousness is founded upon the fact which it necessarily presupposes, and to which it owes its existence; it can never constitute either the fact which it proves, or the identity of that being by whom the fact was performed. Nay, this particular act of consciousness, instead of constituting personal identity, will not immedia ately prove its existence. It will indeed sufficiently prove the fact in question; and hence we may rest assured, that if there be an action there must be an actor ; but the personal identity of the actor can neither consist in the action, nor be constituted by that consciousness which assures us of both, nor by any subsequent consciousness which we may hereafter possess.
Our present consciousness of any given action, which we have performed, is to us an invincible evidence of the existence of that action; and the subsequent consciousness which we may have hereafter, of our present consciousness, will be to us a sufficient evidence of our consciousness of the given action. Our present consciousness of any given action is a simple act of the mind, operating upon the past connection which subsisted between the action itself and our former consciousness of it; as well as between the former consciousness and action, and our present consciousness of both. In the former case, our consciousness became an evidence of the action itself, while in the latter our consciousness becomes evidence of the former, and is an act of the mind operating upon its past operations.
But, although our former consciousness of any given fact or action, and our present perception of that past consciousness must be admitted as indisputable evidence on the points in question; yet personal identity cannot possibly consist in either. And therefore, it will follow that personal identity may remain uninjured and entire, though all evidence of its existence were done away. And, since our consciousness of our own identity depends upon identity itself for its existence; we cannot avoid obtaining an assurance, that where identity is not, there a consciousness of it cannot possibly be.
But, though there can be no consciousness of our own identity where identity is not; it will not follow, that where our own identity is, there must be an invariable consciousness of it. And the reason is evident: The identity of our persons' being independent, can have no necessary reliance upon our consciousness of it; whereas our consciousness of our own identity, being in itself necessarily dependent must expire, the instant we conceive that identity, on which it is founded to be done away. Hence then it is evident, that our own personal identity may remain, though our consciousness of it should ness of it will infallibly prove its existence; and,
while op from its dependent nature, demonstrate that our identity never can be lost while our consciousness of it remains in existence. And hence also it follows,