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out long before this?” Answer : these views are not new, for some of the great and learned have held them before me. Dr. Taylor in his correspondence with bishop Law says-"no man can prove from Scripture, that the human soul is a principle which lives, and acts, and thinks independent of the body." As to man after death, he adds—"revelation alone can give an answer to this point; for whatever the metaphysical nature, essence, or substance of the soul may be, which is altogether unknown to us, all arguments, for the natural immortality of the soul, taken from the nature of its substance or essence, are manifestly vain ; we can never prove that the soul of man is of such a nature that it can and must ex. ist and live, think and act, separate from, and independent of the body; all our present experience shows the contrary, the operation of the mind depends constantly and invariably upon the state of the body, of the brain in particular.”
The late bishop of Carlisle asserts that upon a perusal of the Scripture " by which we Protestants profess to be determined, we may possibly discern that the natural immortality of the human mind is neither necessarily connected with, nor to a Christian any proper proof of a future state of rewards and punishments." Paley, in his Natural Theology, says—that grand point, the resurrection of the human dead, might appear hopeless, did we not see the power at work adequate to the effect; but I admit it is first necessary to be persuaded that there is a God to do so.
This being settled, there seems to be nothing in this process which need to shock our belief. They who have taken up the opinion, that the acts of the human mind depend on organization, are supposed to find greater difficulty than others do, in admitting a transition by death, to a new state of sentient existence, because the old organization is apparently dissolved.
But I do not see that any impracticability need be apprehended even by these.”
6th. It may be objected—“We do not see any particular advantages resulting from your views, and we may just as well retain our old opinions." Answer: This is not true; for some of the advantages which my views have over the common opinions have already been noticed, and I shall proceed to state a few more for the serious considération of the reader. 1st. If my views be true, it is some advantage to embrace truth instead of error, allowing both to be attended with equal advantages.
But will any man assert that truth has no advantage over error? But
2d. My views exhibit God's impartiality in a light which is certainly not done by the common opinions. For example, as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive, but not one of the human race shall enjoy future life and happiness sooner than another. Abel lived, and Abel died, and so do all men ; but he has no advantage over the last man who shall die before the last trumpet sounds. Then all shall be awakened out of the sleep of death, and with those found alive, shall be changed in the same moment to immortality. But if the common opinions are true, Abel and many others, shall enjoy some thousand years happiness more, than a vast proportion of the human race. Indeed those found alive on the earth, shall never know what the state and condition of disembodied spirits are. And if Dr. Griffin's calculations are correct, some disembodied spirits must make a short stay in heaven, hell, or the Catholic purgatory, before called to the general resurrection. He says, in the sermon already referred to, p. 18—“twenty thousand die a day, eight hundred and fifty-six an hour, and fourteen a minute." How long will the last fourteen be in any of those places, who happen to die before the last
trumpet sounds ? Hardly a minute, according to the Dr's. calculations.
3d. If my views are correct, they put an end to the doctrine of ghosts ; yea, show the impossibility of their existence. No ghost can come from heaven or hell, on my views, for there are none to come. But, has not many a child suffered much from the superstitious fear of ghosts? Yea, how many full grown intelligent men, have not been able to conquer the influence
which this superstitious notion has over them? It cannot be denied, but the common opinion of disembodied spirits, affords a solid foundation for such fears. Nor can they ever be entirely destroyed, but by the removal of the erroneous doctrine on which they are founded. So long as people are taught, that souls exist after death in a disembodied state, there is a foundation laid for suspicions, that they may visit our world. The thing is at least possible, and who can certainly assure us to the contrary? But, if what has been stated in this Essay be true, the whole of these superstitious fears are swept away, and not a wreck is left behind.
Is there no advantage in all this?
4th. If my views are correct, a very popular objection against some Universalists is entirely removed. We shall state the objection in the words of a Universalist writer and sure no orthodox man will complain that it is too feebly stated. Mr. Hudson, in his Letters, p. 66, 67, thus writes.
6 1f all men are introduced into heaven at death, then the inhabitants of the old world were snatched to immediate felicity as a reward of their wickedness, and the righteous Noah was left in this world of woe; then the wicked Sodomites were cursed with immortal glory,
and the just Lot was blessed with pain and distress ; ihen the rebellious Korah was instantly conveyed to heaven, and those who were obedient were left in
the desert; then the hard-hearted Pharaoh and his oppressive legions were translated in an instant to the paradise of God, and the oppressed Israelites were left to wander in the wilderness; then the treacherous Judas was introduced into glory by suicide, and so arrived at heaven sooner than his master."
Such is the way Mr. Hudson and many others run on, and their language evidently implies, that they have a better title to heaven than those wicked wretches, because they have not been so wicked. But if my views are found correct, not a word of this is true, for I send no man, either good or bad, to heaven at death. Nor at any period after it, until the resurrection of all the dead. Mr. Hudson's doctrine of punishment after death for the disembodied spirit, falls at once to the ground, unless he can show my views to be unscriptural. He must see the thing is impossible; for men have no such souls which survive death to be punished in an intermediate state. If it can be proved, that men are to be punished after the resurrection, let it lie done. This is a distinct question, and shall receive attention in the sequel. Mr. Hudson advocates a punishment both before and after the resurrection. But if he cannot maintain the first, we should think it a hopeless case to maintain the last.
5th. If my views are correct, people's anxieties and fears, relative to the condition of their souls after death, are for ever put to rest. Men have been taught, that their immortal souls must go to heaven or bell at death. To die right then, must be the first object of concern. Indeed with many, to die well, is much more their concern than to live well. But how few die with any positive certainty, that at death their souls will go io heaven; for all admit their bodies must return to dust. With some of the very best of men, death " is a mere leap in the dark.” Some
are all their life-time in bondage through fear of death; and some have been driven to derangement and suicide by fearful anticipations of misery beyond it.
It is because religious people lay their own creed so little to heart, that so few cases of this kind occur. They flatter themselves that they shall 'escape. But however well satisfied any man may
be, that he is fit to die himself, who of this faith can have a moment's peace, while he sees his wife, chilple around, all totally unfit for it.
But alas! personal doubts and fears often haunt the best of men to the last. To use their own language—“their sun sets in a cloud, and they go to heaven in a mist," leaving but a poor recommendation to others, that their religion supports them in death. But from whence arises all this misery and anxiety? I answer; from having their minds led away from the hope of the resurrection from the dead, the only hope which the Bible presents to man for future existence or happiness. Their minds are directed to a mere hea. then notion, and no wonder it should give little solid the hopes of good men respected their being raised from the dead through the Messiah, who hath destroyed death, and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel. Here is something solid and permanent for the mind of man to rest on, but the other is a mere phantom. Accordingly, no one in Scripture is ever mentioned, as haunted with the anxieties and fears so common now, that at death the soul might go to hell. And though several cases of suicide and derangement are recorded, not a hint is dropped, that they arose from anticipations of misery after death. God does not say this of Ju.das, though many good people are disposed to say it for him.