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reasons for human action; such reasons as control our conduct in the every day affairs of life. Keeping this remark in view, let us now look at some of these intimations.
And here, as we pause upon the threshold, let us endeavor to look distinctly, and, if we can, fearlessly and without tears, at the fact which necessitates our argument. The life-span is measured. “All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” The child of Adam, whose struggles from day to day with the destroyer we have noted, shares at last the doom of his great progenitor. He is dead! The last struggle ends-pulsation ceases, and death with unmistakable impress has placed his seal upon the settling features. Subdued if not awe-struck, we stand in the very presence of the destroyer and gaze upon the lifeless form which we think of by association as the proper man, though we feel and know that he is absent. Is there not a voice which from the pulseless bosom, the marble forehead, the pallid features, the corrupting carcass, seems to say, that this is the end ? that the living soul with all its marvellous capacities has ceased to be, and forever? Its tones sometimes in those of guilty hope, sometimes in those of wailing lamentation, are : “ Man dieth and wasteth away, yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" "The dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” It is an utterance which depresses the good and encourages the bad; which cuts the sinews of all moral excellence, and nerves with desperation the arm of the assassin and evil-doer. There are, perhaps, moments in the experience of all when its depressing influence can not be altogether put aside. That it has not annihilated all idea of immortality from the minds of a great majority of our race, is one of the most remarkable facts in the record of human experience. Death visibly reigns. His dominion is manifest and overpowering. “After life's fitful fever” the child of mortality “sleeps well.” . “ Dust to dust he mingleth well among his native soil."
And yet by a strange and marvellous fascination we linger. The bitterness of death is passed, and that which we thought of almost with dread, holds us with its almost unearthly stillness. It is not life, yet how peacefully and beautifully like it !—and even while looking upon this repose of the dead, our thonghts and feelings experience reäction. The imagination is filled, it may be, with the process of physical corruption and decay, which ere long the decencies of the grave shall hide from our sight. And yet there is something in this aspect of the dead to which that imagination clings in hope of a future restoration. ..
“Weep not, I weep not. Death is strong,
The eyes of death are dry;
Only those who have been conversant with the mysteries of the last hour, can understand the last two of these lines placed by the poetess in the mouth of the broken-hearted and dying Rosalind. It is this "corpse's smile” which not indeed always, but which so frequently shineth with an expression of radiant and perfect peace upon the features of the departing, bringing back the well-known expression which waste of sickness and rack of pain had destroyed; it is this upon which even sense and sight sometimes depend, in their anticipations of future reünion. Thirty years ago there was an expression of countenance with which, in boyhood, we were perfectly familiar. This expression of gentle cheerfulness, of freedom from care and anxiety, had gradually in the course of years, and almost imperceptibly through pressure of trouble, been replaced by another of carefulness and solicitude. So gradually and imperceptibly had this change been accomplished, the latter expression had been worn so long, and been so much, in turn, softened by the consoling influences of Divine grace, that the earlier expression had glided from our memory, and we had come to look on this latter as natural. Not long since, it was our mournful duty to look upon those lineaments again, and in the great change from time to eternity. And there in the last moment, in the radiant expression of perfect peace which lit up the settling features as with a prophecy of heaven, we again recognized that expression known so well in
childhood; that expression so long faded from memory, but which thus coming back in the moment of separation not only recalled the past but seemed to point onward to future reünion. Frequently, we are persuaded, has this very aspect of death itself suggested the idea of some future state of being. The silent majesty of that repose which needs no second glance to assure as that physical suffering and anguish are no longer possible; that unspeakable grace and loveliness which the departing spirit so often impresses upon its former companion; that well-known face brought back in death after having been so long lost in life; all these have prompted the rising thought, the half-hope: "He is not dead but sleepeth.” This can not be the end. The slumber is indeed profound, unlike any thing and beyond any thing that he has ever before experienced. Yet it is not, it is too much like life; it can not be endless. It must at some time and in some way know of an awakening. We can not prove, but we will hope that death is not utter destruction. This marvellous semblance of life even in death, is, we trust, an intimation that life has not ended forever.
Thus far the imagination. But sense and sight, and the imagination, can only deal with appearances. Are there deeper grounds for supposing that life is not destroyed by the event in question? If so, what are they?
1. First of all, we are met by the great physical fact that there is no such thing known in nature as annihilation. There is change, and decay, and dissolution; but never, so far as we can see, utter destruction. The wreck of one era goes to the re-construction of another. But in this work of re-construction we are not able to detect any waste of material. The fragments are all gathered up, and nothing is lost. All the proba. bilities seem to intimate that such destruction is as much beyond our power as is the fact which forms its complement, that of creation.* God, it is true, may annihilate that which
* The feeling which Cebes is described as giving utterance to in the Phædon, that the passage of any thing from the sphere of visibility, is its passage into nonenity, exercises perhaps as powerful influence upon the mind now as it did in his day. We are constantly tempted to look only at the things which are seen; and
he has called into being. He may do this with spirit as well as with body. But as He does not thus with the body in the moment of death, so also the presumption is that He does not thus with the soul. This presumption is heightened when we remember the unity of that soul, in all of its present acts and operations; that many of its powers, those for instance, of reflection and abstraction, have no necessary dependence on bodily organs, in fact, are sometimes thwarted and hindered by the connection. Let it be admitted that there is something distinct from the body, that the soul has a present substantial existence, and at once the natural presumption holds that this principle will continue, until reason be seen for its cessation. The remark has been frequently made in reference to Butler's effort to prove the independence of man's spiritual nature, that still it does not prove that this independent principle can not cease to exist, which, indeed, is very true, but which is withont any relevance to the argument which it pretends to criticise. The object of that argument is not to prove the necessary immortality of the soul from its immateriality. But rather to show that the death of the body which we see is not necessarily death of the soul, which we can not see; and to insist upon proof, of which there is none, that these two things are simultaneous and identical. When, therefore, it is urged that God can take away His own gift, the life of the soul, as He does His other gift, the life of the body, the reply is obvious. Doubtless He can. But we are not authorized in the absence of all evidence to assert that He does, or will. All the analogies of His established system of things suggest an opposite conclusion. The natural adaptabilities of the human soul agree with this deduction. Until positive information as proof be adduced, that the soul dies with the body, the presumption is that its separate existence is continued. “Physicians," says Cudworth, “ speak of a certain disease or madness, the symptoms of those that have been bitten by a mad dog, which makes them have a monstrous antipathy to water. So all Atheists are possessed of a certain kind of madness that may be called Pneumatophobia, that makes them have an irrational abhorrence from spirits or incorporeal substances, they being infected also with an Hylomania, whereby they madly doat upon matter and worship that as the only numen.” This same disease, as well in its positive as its negative manifestation, is quite as distinctly characteristic of those who deny man's future existence, as it is of those who deny all separate existence from body, even that of the Infinite Spirit Himself, nor is it difficult in either case to see its origin. There is an unerring instinct—not dependent upon logical processes for its conclusions, yet like all truthful instincts capable of logical verification—by which it is seen, or rather felt, that if there be a spirit in man, then bodily dissolution does not necessarily destroy this spirit. So keen is this instinct, that we believe it will be found, that in every argument extant against the immortality of man, this denial of his proper spiritual existence in the present is either tacitly implied or distinctly brought forward. An immaterial being is not necessarily immortal. But a man who believes intelligently the former of these facts will be apt to believe the latter. The one, in absence of all positive contrary proof, if it do not imply the other, opens the way to its reception. But the point now before us is : that whether the fact of the pure spirituality of the soul be yielded or contested, there is no evidence, in death, of its annihilation ; there is this presumption from the immutability of all natural substances in favor of its continuance. If, for instance, it be said of the soul, that it is ethereal, or it be described by any of those attenuating expressions sometimes made use of to disguise materiality, still the fact remains unaltered. If it be something over and above mere flesh and blood and bones, the presumption is, that like these it may be changed not annihilated in death; this change of the soul being, like that of the body, according to its own peculiar nature and modes of operation; as will also be its future, and, so far as we can see, indefinitely prolonged exist
this although we know that there are things unseen around and above us quite as substantial and of much greater importance. How hard, for instance, to realize the constant process of change and restoration in that element which we breathe, but which we can not see. How marvellous the immutability of that which has been ever regarded as the type of change; the indestructibility and wonderful preservation, in all its constituents, of that which in itself was so long thought of as nothingness and vanity. On the earth, in the air, and in the waters, there is, as to form and appearance, constant change-as to substantial being, immutability.