Larger font
Smaller font
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font


    These are mainly three, viz: First - The desire all men feel for it. Second - That the soul is immaterial, uncompounded, indivisible, hence indestructible, and therefore immortal. Third - That God wills the immortality of all men.SSII 21.2

    To these, perhaps, another should be added, viz: - “All nations and people have believed the soul immortal.” To this last argument, I answer - There is no evidence that all nations and people have believed it. There is evidence to the contrary. In the “Dialogue on the Immortality of the Soul” - found in “PLATO’S DIALOGUES” - Socrates, having spoken of the nature of the soul, says - “Shall a soul of this nature, and created with all these advantages, be dissipated and annihilated as soon as it parts from the body, as most men believe?” Here the fact is brought out, that so far from its being a general belief that the soul is immortal, the exact reverse was true in Socrates’ day. Socrates is supposed to have believed the souls of the good were immortal, and would ascend to the Gods at death. With respect to bad men, it is not so clear what his opinion was in regard to the final result with them. It seems, however, that he thought after they left the body, they wandered awhile in impure places, in suffering, “till they again enter a new body, and in all probability plunge themselves into the same manners and passions, as were the occupation of their first life. “For instance,” continues Socrates, “those who made their belly their God, and loved nothing but indolence and impurity without any shame, and without any reserve, these enter into the bodies of asses, or such like creatures. And those who loved only injustice, tyranny and rapine, are employed to animate the bodies of wolves, hawks and falcons. Where else should souls of that sort go? The case of the rest is much the same. They go to animate the bodies of beasts of different species, according as they resemble their former dispositions. The happiest of all these men are those who have made a profession of popular and civil virtues, such as temperance and justice; to which they have brought themselves only by habit and exercise, without any assistance from philosophy and the mind. It is probable, that after their death, their souls are joined to the bodies of politic and meek animals, such as bees, wasps and ants.”SSII 22.1

    Surely, one would think that this is little short of annihilation itself. Socrates, after speaking of those who lived, “following reason for their guide,” etc., says - “After such a life, and upon such principles, what should the soul be afraid of? Shall it fear, that upon its departure from the body, the winds will dissipate it, and run away with it, and that annihilation will be its fate?”SSII 23.1

    On this subject, Archbishop Whately, in his Lectures on “Scripture Revelations Concerning a Future State,” speaks thus: -SSII 23.2

    “Among the heathen philosophers, Plato has been appealed to, as having believed in a future state of reward and punishment, on the ground that the passages in his works in which he inculcates the doctrine, are much more numerous than those in which he expresses his doubt of it. I cannot undertake to say that such is not the case; for this arithmetical mode (as it may be called) of ascertaining a writer’s sentiments, by counting the passages on opposite sides, is one which had never occurred to me; nor do I think it is likely to be generally adopted. If, for instance, an author were to write ten volumes in defence of Christianity, and two or three times to express his suspicion that the whole is a tissue of fables, I believe few of his readers would feel any doubt as to his real sentiments. When a writer is at variance with himself, it is usual to judge from the nature of the subject, and the circumstances of the case, which is likely to be his real persuasion, and which, the one, he may think it decorous, or politically expedient, to profess.SSII 23.3

    “Now in the present case, if the ancient writers disbelieved a future state of reward and punishment, one can easily understand why they should nevertheless occasionally speak as if they did believe it; since the doctrine, they all agreed, was useful in keeping the multitude in awe. On the other hand, would they, if they did believe in it, ever deny its truth? or rather (which is more commonly the case in their works) would they allude to it as a fable so notoriously and completely disbelieved by all enlightened people as not to be worth denying, much less refuting, any more than tales of fairies are by modern writers?SSII 24.1

    “Even Aristotle has been appealed to as teaching (in the first book of the Nicomachean Ethics) the doctrine of a future state of enjoyment or suffering; though it is admitted by all, that, within a few pages, he speaks of death as the complete and final extinction of existence, “beyond which there is neither good nor evil to be expected.” He does not even assert this as a thing to be proved, or which might be doubted; but alludes to it merely, as unquestioned and unquestionable. The other passage (in which he is supposed to speak of a state of consciousness after death) has been entirely mistaken by those who have so understood it. He expressly speaks of the dead, in that very passage, as “having no perception;” and all along proceeds on that supposition.SSII 24.2

    “But many things appear good or evil to a person who has no perception of them at the time they exist. For example, many have undergone great toils for the sake of leaving behind them an illustrious name, or of bequeathing a large fortune to their children: almost every one dislikes the idea of having his character branded with infamy after his death; or of his children coming to poverty or disgrace: many are pleased with the thought of a splendid funeral and stately monuments; or their bones reposing beside those of their forefathers, or of their beloved friends; and many dread the idea of their bodies being disinterred and dissected, or torn by dogs. Now no one, I suppose, would maintain that all who partake of such feelings, expect that they shall be conscious, at the time, of what is befalling their bodies, their reputation, or their families after death; much less, that they expect that their happiness will, at that time, be effected by it. In fact, such feelings as I have been speaking of, seem to have always prevailed, even the more strongly, in those who expected no future state.SSII 24.3

    “It is of these posthumous occurrences that Aristotle is speaking, in the passage in question. But he expressly says, in that very passage, that “it would be absurd to speak of a man’s actually enjoying happiness after he is dead;” evidently proceeding (as he always does) on the supposition that the dead have ceased to exist.SSII 25.1

    “The ancient heathens did but conjecture, without proof, respecting a future state. And there is this remarkable circumstance to be noticed in addition; that those who taught the doctrine (as the ancient heathen lawgivers themselves did, from a persuasion of its importance for men’s conduct,) do not seem themselves to have believed what they taught, but to have thought merely of the expediency of inculcating this belief on the vulgar.SSII 25.2

    “It does not appear, however, that they had much success in impressing their doctrine on the mass of the people: for though a state of future rewards and punishments was commonly talked of among them, it seems to have been regarded as little more than an amusing fable. It does not appear, from the account of their own writers, that men’s lives were ever influenced by any such belief. On the contrary, we find them, in speeches publicly delivered and now extant, ridiculing the very notion of any one’s seriously believing the doctrine. And when they found death seemingly unavoidable and near at hand, as in the case of a very destructive pestilence, we are told, that those of them who had been the most devout worshippers of their gods, and had applied to them with various superstitious ceremonies for deliverance from the plague, finding that the disease still raged, and that they had little chance of escaping it, at once cast off all thoughts of religion; and, resolving to enjoy life while it lasted, gave a loose to all their vicious inclinations. This shows, that even those who had the firmest faith in the power of their gods, looked to them for temporal deliverance only, and for their preservation in this life, and had not only no belief, but no suspicion even, that these Beings had any power to reward and punish beyond the grave; - that there was any truth in the popular tales respecting a future state.SSII 25.3

    “It may be thought, however, by some, that the wisest of the heathen philosophers, though they did not hold the notions of the vulgar as to the particulars of a future state of rewards and punishments, yet had convinced themselves (as in their writings they profess) of the immortality of the soul. And it is true that they had, in a certain sense; but in such a sense as in fact makes the doctrine amount to nothing at all. They imagined that the souls of men, and of all other animals, were not created by God, but were themselves parts of the divine mind, from which they were separated, when united with bodies; and to which they would return and be reunited, on quitting those bodies; so that the soul, according to this notion, was immortal both ways; that is, not only was to have no end, but had no beginning; and was to return after death into the same condition in which it was before our birth; a state without any distinct personal existence, or consciousness. It was the substance of which the soul is composed, that (according to this doctrine) was eternal, rather than the soul itself; which, as a distinct Being, was swallowed up and put an end to. Now it would be ridiculous to speak of any consolation, or any moral restraint, or any other effect whatever, springing from the belief of such a future state as this, which consists in becoming, after death, the same as we were before birth. To all practical purposes, it is the same thing as annihilation.SSII 26.1

    “Accordingly the Apostle Paul, when speaking to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15.) of some persons who denied the “Resurrection of the dead,” (teaching, perhaps, some such doctrine as that I have just been speaking of,) declares, that in that case his “preaching would have been vain.” To deny the “resurrection” is, according to him, to represent Christians as “having hope in this life only,” and those “who have fallen asleep in Christ, as having perished.” (v. 18, 19.) As for any such future existence as the ancient philosophers described, he does not consider it worth a thought.SSII 26.2

    “Such was the boasted discovery of the heathen sages! which has misled many inattentive readers of their works; who, finding them often profess the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and not being aware what sort of immortality it was that they meant, have hastily concluded that they had discovered something approaching to the truth; or, at least, that their doctrine was one which might have some practical effect on the feelings and conduct, which it is plain it never could. And such, very nearly, is said to be the belief entertained now by the learned among the East Indian Brahmins, though they teach a different doctrine to the vulgar.”SSII 27.1

    Thus, then, it appears there is no truth in the oft repeated assertion that all nations and people have believed in man’s immortality, or an endless conscious survivance of a fancied entity called the soul. It was not true of the ancient heathen philosophers themselves, much less of the mass of the people.SSII 27.2

    So far from all nations and people believing the soul immortal, there were a large class among the Jews who did not believe it, viz.: the Sadducees, who said, “There is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit.”SSII 27.3

    It may be replied - “The Sadducees were infidels, but the nation at large believed in the immortality of man; for the Pharisees taught it.” I reply - These two sects were both extremes: the first denying any future life, and the other making a future life dependent on what we now call transmigration of souls, rather than a real resurrection: and that idea probably arose from their notion of the soul’s immortality. - These two sects are alike condemned by our Lord; and his followers are warned to beware of their doctrine: see Matthew 16:6-12. Both sects were corrupt in doctrine and in practice. Enough has now been said to show that all nations and people did not believe in the immortality of man.SSII 27.4

    I proceed to take up the three main arguments in support of man’s immortality.SSII 28.1

    1. The desire all men feel for it. This argument can avail nothing, unless it can be proved, that what men desire they will possess. But men desire many things they never obtain. All men desire happiness; but does it, therefore, follow that all men will be happy? Certainly not. So, neither does it follow, because all men desire immortality, that therefore, they are immortal, or will all attain it. We might as well argue that because all men desire to be rich, therefore they are rich, or will certainly be so. The desire for immortality is, without doubt, a strong principle implanted in us by the author of our being, to excite us to a course of living that shall secure that invaluable blessing, which He designed to bestow upon man, if he would walk in obedience to to the law of his God. - Hence, the dread of the loss of it was to influence men in enduring whatever of trial might be their lot, during their sojourn in this state of probation; and, properly considered, will be a mighty stimulus to enable us to suffer even unto death, if need be, that we may gain ETERNAL LIFE.SSII 28.2

    2. It is said - “The soul is a simple essence, immaterial, uncompounded, indivisible, indestructible, and hence immortal.”SSII 29.1

    Here is surely an array of words that might deter a timid man from investigation; but, following the apostolical injunction, I proceed to prove, or examine, these assumptions.SSII 29.2

    1.) How do those who take this position know the soul is a simple essence? Again, What is a simple essence? can they tell us? Or, is it merely a phrase to blind the mind and hinder investigation? Surely the phrase communicates no idea to the mind of man - it is too vague to give any instruction - it is too subtle to admit of being the subject of thought, and therefore it must pass for an unfounded assumption.SSII 29.3

    2.) What is immateriality? Strictly speaking it is, not material - not matter. In other words - it is not substance. What is that which has no substance? - What kind of creation is it? If the Creator formed “all things out of nothing,” it would seem that man’s soul has taken the form of its original, and is nothing still; for it is not matter, we are told. If it is said - “It is a spiritual substance” - I ask, What kind of substance is that, if it is not matter? I cannot conceive, and I do not see how it is possible to conceive, of substance without matter, in some form: it may be exceedingly refined. I regard the phrase, immaterial, as one which properly belongs to the things which are not: a sound without sense or meaning: a mere cloak to hide the nakedness of the theory of an immortal soul in man; a phrase of which its authors are as profoundly ignorant as the most unlearned of their pupils.SSII 29.4

    3.) It is said - “The soul is uncompounded.” If that is true, then it follows that it is uncreated. I can form no idea of a creation without compounding. If not compounded it is only what it was: no new idea is produced. Then, if the soul exists at all, as an entity, it must be a part of the uncreated: that is, it must be a part of God. If a part of God, how can it sin? Can God be divided against himself? But how is that God who is “without body or parts” to be separated into the millions of souls that have inhabited, and do inhabit this earth? And then these parts of God often meet in the battle field, slaying each other! Horrid work, truly, for parts of God to be engaged in! But we cannot stop here. Millions of these parts of God sin against other parts of God, and are sent to hell to be tormented eternally, and eternally to curse and blaspheme the other parts of God! Such is the inevitable result of the theory I oppose, disguise it as its advocates may.SSII 29.5

    4.) “The soul is indivisible,” it is affirmed. Then, if a part of God, it is an undivided part of God; and there is not, and cannot be, in the nature of the case, but one soul to the whole human family. If the soul is indivisible, how could Abraham give or communicate a soul to Isaac? It could not be an offshoot from his own, for that would make his soul divisible, and our opposers say it is “indivisible.” I cannot see, if Abraham communicated Isaac’s soul to him, but what it must still have been Abraham’s soul in Isaac, if the soul is not divisible; and then I do not see how there can be more than one soul for the whole family; and as that is “indivisible,” it is a family soul; hence it follows that the action of any one man must be the action of the family soul; so if one man sins, it is a family sin, or if one man acts virtuously it is a family virtue. Again, as the soul is “indivisible,” all men must have the same common destiny: say, for example, if Abraham should be lost, Isaac must be lost, for the soul can’t be divided! and so whatever is the fate of the first man, Adam, must be the fate of all his race, or else the soul must be divisible; and then, what would become of the theory of its indivisibility? - Happy for man, however, we have the assurance that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are saved, and that proves Adam and Eve were, and that all their posterity must inevitably be so too - for “the soul is indivisible!” Thus our opposers take a short and certain rout to universal salvation. Can they get out of that dilemma without abandoning their theory?SSII 30.1

    There is no avoiding these conclusions only by affirming that a soul is created for each new-born child. But if created, is it holy or unholy? If holy, does God place holy souls in unholy bodies to pollute and defile them? If souls are a new creation at birth, how is Adam’s moral depravity transmitted to his posterity? as theologians affirm it is. But if they are created unholy, is any soul of man blameworthy for his moral depravity? These are questions for the theologians to solve who maintain the indivisibility of the soul: questions which are no longer to pass by any man’s mere affirmation. Give us proof - “thus saith the Lord,” for these assumptions about the soul.SSII 31.1

    5.) Shall it be affirmed the soul is “indestructible?” If so, it is because God has determined it shall not be destroyed, or because he lacks power to destroy it. - If it is the first, give us Scripture testimony of such determination. I hesitate not to say, there is no “thus saith the Lord” for any such assumption. If it is said, God cannot destroy it - I ask, did he create it? If so, does it take a greater exertion of power to destroy than to create? or, did God so exhaust his omnipotence in the act of creation that it is not now equal to the work of reducing back to its original state that which he has made? If I were to affirm God’s inability to destroy anything he has created I might justly be charged with being “infidel.” As it is, my opposers might more justly be charged with atheism; for they, in fact, deny Jehovah’s omnipotence, which is equivalent to a denial of his being.SSII 31.2

    If to make their assumptions stronger they use the term annihilate, and say, “nothing can be annihilated - therefore man cannot be;” I answer, this position is wholly untenable, and is a deceptive play upon words. If a man dash in pieces a bottle, or burn a house to ashes, or consume a lamb in the fire, are not the bottle, the house, the lamb, annihilated? Say not, the elements of which they consisted still exist: they - the bottle, the house, the lamb - do not exist, as such: that form is annihilated. Not the elements of which he was formed: but as man he is no more. On the subject of annihilation, however, I may speak more at large in another place: I will only add now - If “God created all things out of nothing,” as the theology of the age affirms, then he can, if he will, reduce all things back to nothing, or omnipotence has ceased to be omnipotent.SSII 32.1

    The attempt to prove the immortality of the soul, from its supposed indestructibility, is without force or truth; and with it falls the whole catalogue of assumptions, with which it is connected. He who created can destroy - “Fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” - in gehenna.SSII 32.2

    The Philosophical argument for the immortality of man’s soul, when stript of all its useless attire, stands thus: -SSII 32.3

    1. There are only two primary substances, viz: matter and spirit.SSII 33.1

    2. Matter has no power of self-motion, or self-determination, however it may be organized.SSII 33.2

    3. Therefore, wherever we see matter endowed with this power, there must have been added to it an immortal spirit or soul, that is immaterial, etc.SSII 33.3

    This is the soul of all the philosophical arguments that have ever been put forth to prove man has an immortal soul. If the position is true it endows every animal, insect, or crawling worm upon earth with an immortal and immaterial soul just as really as man; and strips Jesus Christ of all the glory of bestowing immortality upon man by his work and meditation.SSII 33.4

    Having examined the first two arguments in favor of the natural immortality of men, and shown, as I think, that they have no foundation in truth, the ground of argument is narrowed to the one point, viz:SSII 33.5

    3. Is it the will of God that wicked men, who die in their sins, shall be immortal?SSII 33.6

    In determining this question, no man will be called master or father that now lives or ever did live. It will weigh nothing in my mind, what any of the (so-called) “fathers,” have said or written; but what saith the testimony of God? “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”SSII 33.7

    First, I call attention to what man lost by the fall. In order to understand this, let us look at man prior to the fall. He was a probationer. For what? Not for life merely, as he was in the enjoyment of that. I conclude it was for eternal life, or, life uninterrupted by death - figured and set forth before his eyes by the “tree of life” - as death, the opposite, was set forth by the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Each of those trees, I conclude, were signs; the one of Life, the other of Death - not of man’s body merely, but of the whole man; or, in other words, “Life and Death” were “set before” him. Eternal life must depend upon the development of a moral character in harmony with his Maker. If a development is made hostile and unharmonious, he is assured he shall not live, but shall “surely die.” Thus permanent disorder is guarded against in God’s universe, and man had before him a standing call and warning - a call to obedience and Life; a warning against disobedience, or sin and Death. he disregarded the warning, and slighted the call - he sinned. Now, “The Lord said, lest he (man) put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and LIVE FOR EVER, he (God) drove out the man, and placed a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” That is as clear as language can express it, the Lord God determined, or willed, that man should not be immortal in his sin; or, in other words, by sin man failed to secure a title to immortality, and was cut off from the “tree of life;” or, the sign God had given him of eternal life, was “hid from” his “eyes.”SSII 33.8

    That this loss relates to the whole man, and not to the body merely, as some suppose, I prove from the fact, that if it related to the body only, then there is not a particle of evidence in the transaction, of pronouncing sentence upon man, by his Maker, that any penalty was threatened to the soul - supposing man to possess such an entity - or inflicted upon it. There is surely none in the context; and it appears to me, that if the exclusion from the tree of life, lest man should eat and live for ever, does not relate to the entire man, there is no evidence there that the denunciation of God against him affected any thing but his body. - It appears it was God’s will that man should not be immortal in sin and misery; and this will is expressed in the text under consideration.SSII 34.1

    Again - that this loss related to the whole man, I prove from the fact, that our Saviour, in his address to one of the seven churches of Asia, says, “to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” How clear the reference, and how obvious, that it is the whole man that is spoken of; and that none are to have access to that tree, or have immortality, but such as overcome. Will it be pretended that this relates to the body only? If so, then it proves that the body will not be immortal, unless we overcome - for the objector has admitted that the loss of the tree of life was the means of death to the body; and unless he regains access to that tree, or that which it represented, he must remain under death; and, as access to that tree is to be had only on condition of victory, the impenitent sinner will not have an immortal body, if the objector’s theory is correct, whatever becomes of the fancied soul.SSII 35.1

    But I wish to call attention further to the tree of life, to show that it related to something more than the body. Revelation 22nd chapter and 2nd verse, we read thus: - “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life,” etc.; and at the 14th verse - “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The reference here is too clear to be misunderstood; no one will pretend that this relates to the body merely. By what authority, then, do they assume it, in regard to the “tree of life” in Paradise?SSII 35.2

    Allow me here to introduce an extract or two from Richard Watson. Few men have written better than he. His “Institutes” are well known among many in this country, as well as in Europe. In his sermon on “Paradise shut and re-opened,” he has this remark -SSII 36.1

    “The tree of life was a kind of sacrament. As the promise of immortality was given to Adam, every time he ate of this tree by God’s appointment, he expressed his faith in God’s promise; and God, as often as he ate of it sealed the promise of immortality to man. - In this view, sin excluded man from the tree of life, as he lost his title to immortality.” Again, Mr. Watson says, in his sermon on “The tree of life,” - “It has been suggested that it was the natural means appointed to counteract disease by medical virtue; and thus to prevent bodily decay and death. This” he says, “is not an improbable hypothesis; but we have no authority for it; and if we had, our inquiries would not be at an end. For this hypothesis relates only to the body; whereas we find the tree of life spoken of in connection with the life of the soul - not only with immortality on earth, but with immortality in heaven. Thus wisdom, heavenly wisdom, is called ‘a tree of life, with reference to the safety of the soul; and the ‘fruit of the righteous’ is declared to be ‘a tree of life,’ with reference to its issue in another world. - Thus also in the visions described by Ezekiel, of the glories of the Church on earth, and of those of St. John relating to the Church in heaven, ‘the tree of life’ stands as a conspicuous object in the scenes of grandeur and beauty which each unfold; and therefore as closely connected with ideas of spiritual life here and hereafter.”SSII 36.2

    “Is it not, therefore, without reason,” he continues, “that many eminent divines have considered this tree as a constant pledge to Adam of a higher life; and since there was a covenant of works, the tenor of which was, ‘this do, and thou shalt live,’ - and as we know God has ever connected signs, seals, and sacraments with his covenants - analogy may lead us to conclude that this tree was the matter of sacrament - the eating of it a religious act; and that it was called ‘the tree of life,’ because it was not only a means of sustaining the immortality of the body, but the pledge of spiritual life here, and of a higher and more glorious life in a future state, to which man might pass, not, indeed, by death, but by translation.”SSII 37.1

    “This will explain,” continues Mr. Watson, “the reason why the fruit of that tree was prohibited after man had sinned. He had broken the covenant, and had no right now to eat of the sign, the sacrament, the pledge of immortality. ‘Lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life and eat and live for ever: therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden. God resumed his promises, withdrew the sign of them, and now refused any token or assurance of his favor.”SSII 37.2

    Mr. Watson add, “The Judge passes sentence, but the Judge also gives a promise; and man is bidden to hope in another object, ‘the seed of the woman.’ That seed was henceforth to be his tree of life.”SSII 37.3

    Thus much for Mr. Watson. He did not hold the doctrine for which I contend, in regard to the final destiny of the wicked; still, there are passages in hisSSII 37.4

    Larger font
    Smaller font