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that human nature is so constructed that in its best phases, it chooses and has an affinity for falsehood; that in its worst, it spontaneously seeks, and holds, and acts upon the truth : in the one of these instances being kept pure and happy by the falsehood, in the other being kept depraved and vicious by the truth. This evasion of the difficulty only brings it back in a more intolerable form. Whether belief in immortality renders man fit for it, or whether it commends itself to those who are already thus fitted, we are alike led to the same conclusion. Truth and goodness, whether as cause or effect, are inseparably connected. They are connected here. And the presence of the one is proof of the other. * * * *
VI. Last of all, there is that in this doctrine, which is not merely intimated in the movements of these different departments of human nature, but which meets and satisfies the aspirations of this nature, as a whole: of the whole physical, intellectual, social, and moral being. “Man never is, but always," and in all these aspects of his nature, “ to be blessed."
Now whether this maxim be applied to the unsatisfied and restless worldling, or to the anticipating child of heaven, it alike reveals this common necessity of our nature. The mournful confession, that “all is emptiness, and a grasping at the wind," in our present sphere of being, coupled with the consciousness and longing for something higher, better, and more permanent, constitute a rational ground of expectation, that these desires will be satisfied, In some few cases, the dread of a coming retribution may overpower all such desires. But if this dread be removed those desires will return; and they frequently exert their influence in spite of it.
"Were man to live coëval with the sun,
The patriarch pupil would be learning still,
There is nothing in this statement which seems at all extravagant or unnatural. It is but in accordance with what we see in the healthy development of the individual man, with the development of man, collectively, from the beginning of time. And we know of no reasons but those that are physical and removable by death, which interfere with its verification. How differently, on the other hand, are we affected by the opposite supposition! “If even a soul like Milton's can know death.” How startling and revolting, to a properly constituted mind, is the idea thus suggested, and held up to reprobation ! There is not only, as we have seen, an instinctive looking forward to a future life, but this instinct satisfies all the demands of our rational and moral nature. Without insisting upon the outrage alluded to in the last of these quotations, when we consign the dying Milton or Newton, in the moment of departure from this world, to annihilation, we see scarcely less difficulty in asserting the same thing of the most ordinary capacity. The individual begins conscious existence with a stock of ideas and of experience obtained in the nursery. He passes from this first course of education, and with the knowledge of this sphere to another, that of boyhood. Here another process of acquisition is undergone; a process, which, as in the previous case, affords experience and a large class of ideas, for the season of opening maturity. So is it with this latter period relatively to full manhood, and so again with manhood relatively to old age. And then not unfrequently in old age, as a shock of full corn in its season, fully ripened, yet by decay untouched, “his eye undimmed and his natural strength unabated,” the life graduate is “gathered to his fathers.” How revolting to every principle of nature and of reason is the thought that here existence ends; that the shock is not gathered up into its garner, as a rich seed of future growth, but in every instance rots into annihilation. It is not here, as with the mighty oak, whose branching limbs withstand the blasts of a thousand storms, and then fall at last under the power of physical decay and corruption. Even in this, physical life is evolved out of the physical death which has taken place; there is a change in the arrangement of particles, of material organization, not annihilation. Neither again, is it like the death of the animal organism, in the lower forms of existence. With these the animal instinct unprogressive, runs through the whole earthly existence. They are connected neither with the past nor the future. Their intellectual education, as a race, is perfected, in the first generation as individuals, so soon as they are able to provide for their
physical necessities. So far as we can see, they have no anticipation of another and higher stage of being, evince no capability for it, in the way of intellectual and moral progression and preparation. Neither, again, would the difficulty be so great, with the human being, if, in every case, the intellectual and physical processes went together “pari passn," in the course, alike, of development and dissolution. Some sort of argument might then be drawn from the imagination, if not from the reason, to predicate simultaneous dissolution of both systems. But even this argument can not be made. We meet with a Gallatin, a Webster, a Chalmers, their physical forms bending and sinking under the weight of threescore and fourscore, while intellectually they tower as loftily above their fellows as at any earlier period. We see again a life-long invalid, like Vinet or Moses Stuart, not only untouched as to mind, but exhibiting a spectacle of intellectual vigor, robustness, and acquisition of the most comprehensive character. Besides, as has been already hinted, there is an education and progress of the race, which, upon the hypothesis of annihilation, is no less aimless and unaccountable. “We are much wiser than our fathers," to use the idea of one of Homer's boasting heroes: because we have their stock on hand with which to begin business. We can see, perhaps, much farther than they, because we are standing upon their shoulders. The same advantages over ourselves will be possessed by our children. There is a course of accumulation going on through successive ages; of this all may partake, and to this all may contribute for those who come after. “Many come by birth and go by death, and knowledge is increased.” But upon the hypothesis of annihilation, this accumulation is altogether unaccountable. If the mind refuses to believe that the noblest individual structure passes into nothingness and vanity—that "a Milton can know death,” how can that mind be reconciled to the thought that not merely one such, but all, and all the accumulated wisdom, and goodness, and purity, and love of the noblest, and loveliest, and wisest should be covered up in one common grave, to rottenness and corruption? This would be to make the Deity apparently aimless and purposeless in
reference to the highest capabilities of his earthly creatures - to make "our very being's being a contradiction !"
We have thus glanced at some of these natural intimations of a future life. Whatever may be their entire value, we may perhaps get a better idea of this value, by supposing the effect of their absence. How would it be, apart from the light of Scripture, or even with it, if facts different and opposed to those brought forward existed, in the world around us? Suppose, for instance, that undoubted physical annihilations were constantly occurring to our knowledge ? That the belief of man recognized no hereafter and that nature's teachings had all been accepted and understood as pointing to annihilation ? Suppose that this idea of a future life if held, were held most firmly by the vicious, that its tendency was to encourage present viciousness, and to produce expectation of future excess, that it was dreaded by the virtuous as a continuance of their trials and sufferings ? Suppose again, we saw no inequality of present condition to present desert, or that vice, on the whole, was more productive of welfare than virtue? Suppose, again, that there was no capability of looking forward to a future life, of preparing for it, no sense of its fitness, of outrage at the thought of annihilation, no progression of the individual or the race; that the mind and body, in all cases, sank together, and by simultaneous movements? What a difference would there be in favor of the annihilationist! If such existing facts would give force to his argument, certainly the present undeniable existence of opposite facts gives no less force to one of an opposite character. It is certainly enough to set men to work, to lead them to enter upon a serious investigation, to welcome the authoritative dictate of inspired revelation.
But we may be told that the argument is not a demonstration;" " we are not perfectly satisfied.” Perhaps not. But are we perfectly certain that the fault is in the facts, or in any portion of the argument? There are some minds which in this present sphere of being, can never be made to comprehend the force of the clearest demonstration, such, for instance, as is afforded in the higher mathematics. Others, again, who excel in these departments, are greatly defective in their capability of appreciating the conclusiveness of a train of moral reasoning. May not this suggest an idea in regard to some of those arguments, which the human mind has taken up, in different ages, wrought on them for a time, become discouraged, and yet could not and can not give them up altogether? Des Cartes' "cogito ergo sum,” and Anselm's and Clarke's a priori demonstrations, are not perfectly satisfactory. Certain points upon which these authors place great stress, have little or no force to the popular mind. But has any man, who thoughtfally put himself down, or rather endeavored to brace himself up, to the serious work of fully taking in what these arguments involved, then ventured flippantly to dismiss them, with the assertion of their utter baselessness? We do not believe it. Perhaps if we could elevate ourselves to the purer atmosphere in which these men moved, and could see stretching around us the broader horizon which met their sight, we should see a force in portions of their arguments of which now we have no conception. And so in regard to this fact of immortality. Man needs a satisfactory and authoritative revelation of it, for that revelation has been given, and God does nothing in vain. As man is, the natural argument may partially disturb or comfort him, but can not control his conduct. How would it be if man were free from the disturbing influences of sin, of passion, and of appetite? Elevate him still higher to the position of the unfallen archangel, and how would it be then? Might not, then, every link be seen clear, and bright, fully formed and interlocked with its fellow? The only feeling experienced being that of surprise and amazement that such demonstration had not been previously seen, that it does not enforce conviction upon the most blinded and unwilling. Let us wait patiently, yet hopefully. A few more days, and the great mystery will have been cleared up forever.
Thus far, we will say, nature speaks. There is one practical inference, however she may be understood. If her voice obscarely and imperfectly, yet really and truly, points to another world, in doing this, it points to any and all other information that may be offered in regard to the same great fact. And it creates an obligation on our part, to examine all such information, and if it be founded upon truth, to follow it. The highest light of nature, here as every where else, is only a higher rev