Imagini ale paginilor

that the distinctness of its character and func. tions from those of the body become most conspicuous. The faculties of reflection and abstract reasoning, and above all, the faculty of worship, must forever distinguish the mind of man from the instinct of the inferior animals ; and still more obviously from all things merely material. These are functions which a man performs without any aid from his natural senses, and often when during the hour of silent meditation, the world within him is separated from all external objects. The mind can then roam over the universe at its pleasure ; and when it rises in living aspirations towards the Maker and Ruler of that universe, it holds converse with God himself.

All inquiries into the nature and essence of mind — what it is, or of what it consists — are improper and absurd ; because the question lies beyond our reach. It is not within the province of our faculties. Mind and matter are severally known only by their properties. By matter we mean, that which is tangible, extended, and divisible ; by mind, that which perceives, reflects, wills, and reasons. These properties are wholly dissimilar and admit of no comparison.

To pretend that mind is matter, is to propose a contradiction in terms, and is just as absurd as to pretend that matter is mind. Since, therefore, the thinking part within us is plainly distinct in its nature and character from the gross body with which it is here connected, it is only reasonable to believe, that they are essentially independent, and that when the body perishes, or rather falls to pieces, (for in the course of nature, no particle of matter is ever destroyed,) the mind will survive the wreck.

II. This presumption is greatly strengthened by facts familiar to every observer, and often brought home to the experience of individuals. A man may lose many parts of his body — the eye by which he sees, the tongue by which he tastes, the ear by which he hears, and the hand by which he handles - he may be deprived of all his ergans of sense, and yet is the same man as he was before. The mind which is the man, continues unchanged and unimpaired. Chemistry, indeed, demonstrates that our bodies are in a state of perpetual flux, and that not a particle of the matter which once belonged to us, can now be called our own; yet we never lose our personal identity. We

are still the same rational and responsible individuals, as ever. These remarks apply to the brain, which is the receptacle of sensationthe connecting link between the senses and the mind as well as to other parts of our mortal frame. It is a well known fact, that this organ is sometimes seriously injured and a large part of it actually removed, without any material interruption of the functions of the mind. Closely connected, therefore, as is this wondrous instrument with these functions, and in general essential to their exercise in our present state of being, it is no more to be confused or identified with the mind itself, than is any other part of the human body. Finally, it often happens, that when the body is desperately diseased and within a few moments of death, the mind remains unimpaired, and even shines forth with peculiar strength and brightness; displaying its loftiest powers of reflection, hope, and adoration.

These and similar facts plainly indicate that as matter exists independently of mind, so mind may exist independently of matter; and they confirm the presumption, derived from the distinctness of their natures, that death cannot

»* it is

annihilate our rational faculty. Since experience proves that “all things continue as they are, except in those respects in which we have some reason to think they will be altered," plain that the doctrine of the soul's surviving the body agrees with experience. Who that reflects on the native powers of the living spirit within him can avoid acknowledging the propriety of that distinction on which our Saviour insisted ; “ Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell ?”

Here we may call to mind a lesson taught us by reason as well as by Scripture, that the Creator of heaven and earth, who pervades the universe which he has made, is himself an immaterial Being. Yet He is the Living One and the Fountain of all life; and in Him are centered, in infinite perfection, all the properties of a rational mind. When, therefore, he breathed into man a spark of his own intelligencea soul capable of reflection and reason — may fairly conclude that He bestowed upon him something which, like Himself, exists in

* Butler's Analogy, chap. i, p. 19.


* to.

depently of matter -- something which, like Himself, can never die.

III. From the premises it may be inferred, that the only respect in which the soul of man is altered by the death of the body is this — that being freed from its mortal tenement, it is introduced to a higher and purer state of existence a state of which, at present, we can form no conception. On this point again, the presumptions of reason are in accordance with revelation. “Verily I say unto thee,” said the dying Redeemer to the thief on the cross, day thou shalt be with me in Paradise;" that is, in the region of departed spirits — in a place of exaltation and felicity.

Now such a change of condition as we have here supposed, is so far from being at variance with the visible order and constitution of the world, that it is precisely analogous to many things which we know to take place in nature ; that is, under the perceptible government of God. The seed is sown in the earth, and falls to pieces in the ground; yet in due season it becomes “ the full corn in the ear," or the flower laden with blossoms, or even a tree so mighty, that the fowls of the heaven lodge

« ÎnapoiContinuați »