Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

not have been so. The tendencies, therefore, which we perceive, must have arisen from some other source ;-a source which, in that remote period of duration, could have had no existence.

SECTION V.

Arguments tending to prove, that the Immortality

of the Body of Adam was secured by the Efficacy of the Tree of Life, notwithstanding the natural Tendency of the Parts to Dissolution,

When, from this remote view, in which we have been considering the constituent divisible parts of matter, before the elements were called into

any

distinct existence, we turn our thoughts to those elements into which it has been since divided, and from which the human body has been actually formed, the natural tendency of all compounded bodies to dissolution assumes a very different form, In this case, without all doubt, the various particles of which the human body was actually formed, have a native tendency to resolve themselves into their pristine elements, through an inherent tendency somewhat analogous to gravitation. This propensity, or tendency, scems to have been impressed upon all the parts of matter with which we are intiinately, acquainted, in what element soever they

reside. But what the origin of this tendency is, how far it actually extends, and what the boun

may reside.

daries of its operations are, appear to be points which, with exact precision, we cannot comprehend.

That Adam, when created, was permitted to eat of all the trees in the garden, except one which was interdicted, is plain scripture; and from this circumstance, it may be as plainly inferred that nutrition was necessary to the preservation of his being. And since he possessed those appetites and faculties, which were calculated to perform all the functions of animal life, I can discover nothing which could mark the nature of his body, as being distinct from that of our own. Nor have I hitherto discovered any peculiar properties which his body could possess, except that manly beauty which must have resulted from that perfect state of moral rectitude, which was inseparable from the primeval state of man. The command which was given to our first parents to be fruitful and multiply, and to replenish the earth, proves them to have been of the same earthly mould with ourselves; though mortality could not be applied to their condition, nor could death attach itself to the great progenitor of mankind.

There can be no doubt, that the human body was originally more excellent than it is at present, and we are even compelled to conclude that the body of Adam approached much nearer to a state of perfection, than the bodies of any of his posterity have since been able to attain. The changes which moral evil has introduced are such as baffle all calculation-; and it is a point of inextricable difficulty for us to decide, how far we have descended in the scale of human dignity; how much our organs are impaired; how much we have sunk below that standard of primeval glory, which was once the distinguishing characteristic of man.

As man came immediately from the hands of the Almighty, nothing, either of moral evil or natural imperfection, could have been found in his nature. And so far as beings with capacities and faculties which were limited like those of the human species, were capable of bearing any resemblance to the moral perfections of God, man must have been created in a state of finite perfection. At the same time the human body, which formed an essential part of man, must, as coming from the hands of so excellent a workman, in conjunction with the rank which man sustained in the empire of creation, have been the standard of all terrestrial beauty and perfection. The

pure state of the atmosphere in which man was placed, must have been congenial to the state of his body, and the temperature of all around him, must have prevented all such effects as are produced by the intensity of the heats of summer and the colds of winter The temperature of the climate, the purity of the atmosphere, the odoriferous exhalations which all vegetative nature conspired to yield, being in perfect unison with his bodily organs, must have contributed to the longevity of a being not otherwise immortal, and lengthened out the existence of man to an extent of duration, of which modern instances can furnish us with no examples. In short, the happiness which must have resulted from

such a harmonious state of things, it is hard to conçeiye, and still more difficult to express. It must have been a felicity to which we are strangers, and of which we must be content to remain ignorant in this state of being, and which, probably, we are under the necessity of dying to comprehend.

In the midst of this general harmony, from what quarter could death possibly arise ? Could death originate in God? This must be contrary to his nature, and contrary to the facts which we have been contemplating. The general harmony of all nature had demonstrated, that the designs of God were to communicate happiness, and the immutability of his nature precluded the possibility of a change. It must have been contrary to the divine nature to lessen that felicity which he had bestowed, which death must certainly have effected ; and therefore the conclusion is certain, that death could not possibly originate in God,

Could then the dissolution of the body flow from the body itself? This, under circumstances which we now review, could not be possible. The body gave not union to the particles of which it was composed, and consequently could not destroy the adhesion of its component parts. The simple particles of matter never can be lost, in what form soever they may be, or may have been combined. And the modification of these particles into a human body, through the supernatural agency of God, must necessarily have been retained also, unless that supernatural agency was withdrawn, which his immutability rendered impossible ; or until some other adequate cause should dissolve the union between the combined atoms, and reduce them to their elementary state.

But what arguments soever may be adduced in favour of primeval immortality, there is still a difficulty of considerable importance, which it is necessary to remove. The elementary divisions which had taken place in matter, had removed it from its primary condition, and impressed upon it the influence of gravitation, or of something analogous thereto, which, by acting upon every particle, must have communicated to each a tendency, which was unknown in its primitive state. The body of Adam was not created until these divisions had taken place, and being composed of atoms which had been selected from these different regions, the surrounding elements must have acted upon every part, so that the silent but insinuating impulses which were imperceptibly communicated, must have been productive of the most astonishing effects.

Compounded of atoms, and formed of dissoluble parts, the body of Adam, though possessed of immortality, must in itself have been capable of dissolution; while, being free from all moral evil, it must have been placed beyond the influence of mortality; and this circumstance must have ensured to human nature that exemption from death, which sinless natures can alone claim as their exclusive privilege. Destitute of sin, he was not entitled to its wages; Justice therefore could inflict no punishment; and consequently his body must have been placed beyond the reach of death. By being desti

« ForrigeFortsett »