« EdellinenJatka »
compound or divide it, alter it, and change it how you will, you can never make it see, feel, hear, or act vitally, without a quickening and actuating soul. Yet we must still remember, that this active principle, the soul, though it hath this vital power in itself, it hath it not from itself, but in a constant receptive dependance upon God, the first cause, both of its being and power.
III. It is a spiritual substance. All substances are not gross, material, visible, and palpable substances; but there are spiritual and immaterial, as well as corporeal substances, discernible by sight or touch. To deny this, were to turn a downright Sadducee, and to deny the existence of angels and spirits. (Acts xxiii. 8.) The word substance, as it is applied to the soul of man, puzzles and confounds the dark understandings of some, that know not what to make of an immaterial substance, whereas in this place it is no more than substare accidentibus, i. e. to be a subject in which properties, affections, and habits are seated and subjected. This is a spiritual substance, and is frequently in scripture called a spirit. "Into thy hands I commit my spirit." (Luke xxiii. 46.)
Lord Jesus, receive
my spirit," (Acts vii. 59.) and so frequently all over the scriptures. And the spirituality of its nature appears, (1.) By its descent, in a peculiar way, from the Father of spirits. (2.) In that it rejoiceth in the essential properties of a spirit. (3.) That at death it returns to that great Spirit who was its efficient and former.
(1.) It descends in a peculiar way from the Father of spirits. God styles himself its Father, Heb. xii. 9. its former, Zech. xii. 1. It is true, he giveth to all living things life and breath. Acts xvii. 25. Other souls are from him, as well as the rational soul, but in a far different way and manner. They flow not immediately from him by creation, as this doth. It is said, Gen. i. 24, 27. “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind;" but "God created man in his own image." Which seems plainly to make a specific difference betwixt the reasonable and all other souls.
(2.) It rejoiceth in the essential properties of a spirit; for it is an incorporeal substance, as spirits are. It hath not extension of parts, nor is it divisible, as the body is. It hath no dimensions and figures as matter bath; but is a most pure, invisible, and (as the acute
Dr. Moore expresseth it) indiscernible substance. It hath the principle of life and motion in itself, or rather, it is such a principle itself, and is not moved, as dull and sluggish matter is, by another. Its efficacy is great, though it be unseen, and not liable to the test of our touch, as no spiritual substances are. "A spirit (saith Christ) hath not flesh and bones." Luke xxiv. 39. We both grant and feel that the soul hath a love and inclination to the body, (which indeed is no more than it is necessary it should have) yet can we no more infer its corporiety from that love to the body, than we can infer the corporiety of angels from their affection and benevolent love to men. It is a spirit of a nature vastly different from the body in which it is immersed. "There is (saith a learned author) no greater mys tery in nature, than the union betwixt soul and body. That a mind and spirit should be so linked to a clod of clay, that while that remains in a due temper, it cannot by any art or power free itself! What so much akin are a mind and a piece of earth, a clod and a thought, that they should be thus affixed to one another?"
Certainly, the heavenly pure bodies do not differ so much from a dunghill, as the soul and body differ. They differ but as more pure and less pure matter; but these, as material and immaterial. If we consider wherein consists the being of a body, and wherein that of a soul, and then compare them, the matter will be clear.
We cannot come to an apprehension of their beings, but by con sidering their primary passions and properties, whereby they make discovery of themselves. The first and primary affection of a body (as is rightly observed) is that of extension of parts whereof it is compounded, and a capacity of division, upon which, as upon the fundamental mode, the particular dimensions (that is, the figures) and the local motion do depend.
Again, for the being of our souls, if we reflect upon ourselves, we shall find that all our knowledge of them resolves into this, that we are creatures conscious to ourselves of several kinds of cogitations; that by our outward senses we apprehend bodily things present, and by our imagination we apprehend things absent; and that we often recover into our apprehension things past and gone, and, upon our perception of things, we find ourselves variously affected.
Let these two properties of a soul and body be compared, and upon the first view of a considering mind it will appear, that divisibility is not apprehension, or judgment, or desire, or discourse: that to cut a body into several parts, or put it into several shapes, or bring it to several motions, or mix it after several ways, will never bring it to apprehend or desire. No man can think the
combining of fire, and air, and water, and earth, should make the lump of it to know and comprehend what is done to it, or by it. We see manifestly, that upon the division of the body, the soul remains entire and undivided. It is not the loss of a leg or arm, or eye, that can maim the understanding, or the will, or cut off the affections.
Nay, it pervades the body it dwells in, and is whole in the whole, and in every part, which it could never do if it were material. Yea, it comprehends, in its understanding, the body or matter in which it is lodged; and more than that, it can and doth form conceptions pure spiritual and immaterial beings, which have no dimensions or figures; all which show it to be no corporeal, but a spiritual and immaterial substance.
(3.) As it derives its being from the Father of spirits, in a peculiar way, and rejoiceth in its spiritual properties; so at death it returns to that great Spirit from whence it came. It is not annihilated, or resolved into soft air, or sucked up again by the element of fire, or catched back again into the soul of the world, as some have dreamed; but it returns to God who gave it, to give an account of itself to him, and receive its judgment from him. "Then shall the dust return to the earth, as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it," Eccl. xii. 7. Each part of man to its like, dust to dust, and spirit to spirit. Not that the soul is resolved into God, as the body is into earth: but as God created it a rational spirit, conscious to itself of moral good and evil, so when it hath finished its time in the body, it must appear before the God of the spirits of all flesh, its Arbiter and final Judge.
By all which we see, that as it is elevated too high on the one hand, when it is made a particle of God himself; not only the creature, but a part of God, as Plutarch and Philo Judeus, and
others have termed it; (spirit it is, but of another and inferior kind) so it is degraded too low, when it is affirmed to be matter, though the purest, finest, and most subtile in nature; which approacheth nearest to the nature of spirit. A spirit it is, as much as an angel is a spirit, though it be a spirit of another species. This is the name it is known by throughout the scriptures. In a word, it is void of mixture and composition; there are no jarring quali ties, compound elements, or divisible parts in the soul, as there are in bodies; but it is a pure, simple, invisible, and indivisible substance; which proves its spirituality. Flavel. 1681. What is this soul of mine that I am now speaking of, that is so nimble in its actions, and so spiritual in its nature? Why, 'tis that which actuates and informs the several organs and members of my body, and enables me not only to perform the natural actions of life and sense, but likewise to understand, consult, argue, and conclude; to will and nill, hope and despair, desire and abhor, joy and grieve, love and hate; to be angry now, and again appeased. 'Tis that by which, at this very time, my head is inditing, my band is writing, and my heart resolving what to believe, and how to practise. In a word, my soul is myself; and therefore, when I speak of my soul, I speak of no other person but myself.
The soul, being a spiritual substance, is always in action, and its proper and immediate act is thinking; which is as natural to the soul as extension is to the body; 'tis that upon which all the other actings of the soul are grounded, so that neither our apprehensions of nor affections to any object can be acted without it. And bence it is, that I think the soul is very properly defined, substantia cogitans, a thinking substance; for there is nothing else but a spirit can think; and there is not a spirit but always doth think; and this I find by experience to be so true and certain, that if at any time I have endeavoured to think of nothing, (as I sometimes have done) I have spent all the time in thinking upon that very thought.
None ever yet heard of a soul's funeral. Who is it, where is the man, or what is his name, that wrote the history of her life and death? Can any disease arise in a spiritual substance, wherein there is no such thing as contrariety of principles or qualities to occasion
any disorder or distemper; can an angel be sick, or die ? and if not an angel, why a soul, which is endowed with the same spiritual nature here, and shall be adorned with the same eternal glory hereafter? No, no, deceive not thyself, my soul; for 'tis more certain that thou shalt always live, than that thy body shall ever die.
And as I believe my body shall be raised from the grave, so Į believe the other part of me, my soul, shall never be carried to it; I mean, it shall never die; but shall be as much, yea, more alive, when I am dying, than it is now; by so much my soul shall be more active in itself, by how much it is less tied and subjected to the body.
And further, I believe, that as soon as ever my breath is out of my nostrils, my soul shall remove her lodging into the other world, there to live as really to eternity, as I now live here in time. Yea, I am more certain that my soul shall return to God who gave it, than that my body shall return to the earth out of which I had it; for I know 'tis possible my body may be made immortal, but I am sure my soul shall never be mortal. Bishop Beveridge.
Immortal! What can strike the sense so strong,
As this the soul? It thunders to the thought.
It has been clearly shown, in the preceding chapter, that there is in man an iminaterial, conscious, active principle, which we designate the SOUL. And I feel a solemn and awful impression that it is immortal. But as with the body, so with the soul-the Doctors must know best. I have consulted men eminent in their profession, whose opinions are as follow:
Immortal! were but one immortal, how
Would others envy! how would thrones adore!