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I am sure it will not be, till his opponents become strangely stultified. They are such objections as I never heard of, and, for the most part, such as have no relation to the subject. If Mr. B. can find amusement in building, and then slaying a man of straw, I would not deprive him of it. But it is no part of a fair and honest reasoner, to put into the mouths of his opponents, arguments whose silliness conveys an insult to their understandings, and then set himself gravely to their refutation ; as if they were the main hinge of the controversy. Surely he has presumed much on the ignorance of his readers, or he would not dare hold out the pretence, that the immortality of the soul was believed on such grounds.
Mr. Balfour's fourth section of this essay, is occupied with objections, or what he calls “facts showing that the common opinion respecting a man's soul and its condition after death cannot be true.” These I shall notice in their numerical order.
1. “When God created man he did not inform him that he had given him an immortal soul.” Answer.—That he did not we have Mr. Balfour's assertion. And if he did not, the fact proves nothing. For he did not inform him of a thousand other things, which were facts notwithstanding.
2. “God has not imparted to Adam's posterity immortal souls either by gift or propagation.” Answer.-- This rests on Mr. B.'s bare assertion. It is an assertion that man has not an immortal soul brought as a fact to prove that he has not.
3. “God has not, during the past history of man, ever informcd him that he has given him an immortal soul which shall either suffer or enjoy in a future state." Answer.—Here again we have an assumption of the very point in dispute brought to prove that point, and need not occupy the time in refuting it. The tirade against revivals of religion and missionary exertions which is brought in to illustrate this objection, is doubtless a genuine expression of the writer's feelings, but is of little avail to prove that men have not immortal souls.
4. “We do not read in scripture of any persons in time of sickness, or near prospect of death, expressing fears that their souls after death would go to hell, and suffer endless misery.”
Answer.--Should we grant this assumption, the fact that God had not revealed man's immortality, by recording in his word expressions of the dying to that effect, would be no proof that he has not amply revealed it in other forms.
5. “We never read in scripture of any soul's being in hear en or hell after death.” Answer.-Here, those who understand the scriptures as they plainly read, will differ in opinion from Mr. B., and find it hard to be convinced by such an argument.
6. “None of the persons raised from the dead intimated that their disembodied spirits, while they were dead, enjoyed happiness, suffered misery, or had conscious existence of any kind.” Answer.—That God has not seen fit to record in his word any surveys of the world of spirits made by these persons, is very true; and for a very good reason. For if it had been consistent with his wisdom to lay out to our view the scenes of that world, he has more effectual means of doing it. But he chooses to deal with men now, rather through Moses and the prophets, than through those who arose from the dead. Whether, in the nature of things, it was possible for Lazarus to bring and publish reports in this world of scenes in a world of spirits, is a question which we are not interested to decide. For the fact that we have not testimony of a certain kind, does not invalidate sufficient testimony which we have of other kinds.
7. “Nothing is said in Scripture respecting the immortality of men's souls or disembodied spirits at the resurrection of the dead.” 8. “Nothing is said of them after the resurrection." 9. "The term immortal is never joined in Scripture with the terms soul or spirit.” Answer.-Respecting the last three, this general remark is sufficient ;—That admitting the assertion true, about which different opinions will be entertained, as we understand certain passages differently, it proves nothing. It is only saying, because we have not this kind of evidence which we choose to demand, that which we have, full and distinct as it is, is good for nothing. So much for our author's chapter of objections. If this be all that he has to object, it will surely require no great amount of positive proof to balance it.
His third section consists of a lalvored attempt to show that the doctrine of the soul's immortality prevailed among the heathen; and that from them it was borrowed by christians. This section, of course, will not require particular examination. For the question before us, is, whether it be or be not a doctrine of christian revelation. And this is a question wholly independent of the questions agitated in this section. Mr. B. seems to reason as if the fact that some vague notions of the soul's immortality floated about among the heathen, was, of itself, enough to disprove the doctrine of its immortality. As well might you say, that because many heathen nations had some notion of a God, therefore the being of a God is not taught in the Bible, but was incorporated into christianity through the influence of the Platonic philosophers. I cheerfully grant, that all the more enlightened heathen nations had some ideas of the immortality of the soul, and consider it a strong proof that this doctrine was divinely communicated to man in the first ages of the world, and by tradition diffused over the world, and a proof that it is at least intimated in the law which is written in the hearts of men. But I go not to tradition nor to the law written in the heart, when I have before me the more sure word of prophecy, in which life and immortality are brought to light. The question is simply this, Is the doctrine taught in the Bible ?
Mr. B.'s third section is occupied in putting down what he calls the doctrine of ghosts. Yes, the man, for purposes best known to himself, spends thirteen pages of his learned treatise in seriously arguing that apparitions, and the disembodied spirits of the departed dead, are not wont to reveal themselves to the bodily eye in this world. I wonder why he did not incorpo-'. rate with his disproof of future punishment also, a dissertation upon witch-craft, and number off his objections up to eighthly, against the once popular notions of houses being haunted by evil spirits. It would have been equally instructive and pertinent.
We have now gone over all the ground of this essay except the first section. This section consists of an examination of
the testimony of Scripture, as to the existence of the soul after death. Here we are happy to meet him, and will give his statements all due consideration. But in the first place, I must lay aside as irrelevant, his endless quotations brought to show the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words translated soul or spirit. I have carefully run them through, and can conceive of no possible benefit to him or his cause, gained by filling out page after page with quotations from a concordance, and ringing perpetual changes upon such euphonious words, as Nesme and Nephish and Ruah and Pseuche and Pneuma, unless it come from the impression left on the minds of those who are stupid enough to look upon Greek and Hebrew words, as the mystic symbols of incomprehensible wisdom. If an examina- tion of the original words could throw any light on the subject, not already in possession of the English reader it is well, otherwise it is the silliest pedantry. The English words, soul and spirit, have essentially the corresponding varieties of meaning found in the Greek and Hebrew words. And yet we find no difficulty in expressing distinctly, the doctrines which relate to the immaterial spirit by means of them, and no difficulty in determining when to understand them of animal life, and when of. the immortal soul. The numerous passages remarked upon by Mr. B. which have little or no relation to the subject, need not be noticed. Whatever advantage he gets from an expedient, often resorted to, of refuting arguments that were never urged, he is welcome to enjoy. Such artifices show that he is writing for effect upon a class of readers capable of being influenced by such means, and are no compliment to his readers' understanding.
I shall first notice those passages on which he relies to disprove the conscious existence of the soul after death, and before the resurrection, and then those which go to prove the doctrine. Those of the first class, are, Job 14: 10. Man giveth up the ghost and where is he? Psalm 115: 17. The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. Ps. 6: 5. For in death there is no remembrance of thee; in the grave who shall give thee thanks ? Eccl. 9: 5,6. The dead know not
any thing—their love and their hatred and their envy is now perished. And verse 10. For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave. In these and two or three others of the same import, is all the force of scriptural argument which he adduced to build his conclusion upon. And there is nothing in any of these passages, which may not be said on the ground, that man has both a mortal and an immortal part. What is here' asserted respects man's relations to this world. His existence among the living in this world is suid to be done at death :-he cannot join in the praises of God in this world. He cannot praise him as he is here praised—can have no part in the enterprises which engage the hearts of his people here.
In one instance the context thus limits the meaning. Their hatred and their envy is now perished, neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun. This shows that the whole assertion respects only man's relations to what is done under the sun,—that they know not anything that is done under the sun. But Mr. B. asks, "Is it any honor to the sacred writers to make them gravely and repeatedly tell us that a dead carcase cannot praise God ?” Does Mr. B. need to be informed that all writers have occasion, for the purpose of connecting an argument or of aiding impression, to state truths as obvious as that? If Mr. B. can show that such statements are not consistent with the scope of the passages in question, the showing will be to the point. Besides, if it be a fact that man is nothing but body, I might retort the question upon Mr. B., Does a Sacred writer tell us that a dead carcase cannot praise God? For there is still less occasion to say it on his hypothesis.
I come now to notice those passages which Mr. Balfour has remarked upon for the sake of showing that they do not prove the doctrine of the existence of the soul after death, Matt. 16: 26. What shall it profit a man if he shill gain the whole world and lose his own soul? That the word here rendered soul, is the same that is in inany places, and in the context, rendered life, I admit. And I will go further and admit, that this text was a common proverb in the time of Christ, and that its mean