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annihilation of once-existing energy, and it points to the fact that chemistry is perfectly able to trace after death the persistent actiqn of the various compounds which have sustained a human body during life. Be it so. But, if this law of the conservation of energy or force is food for one department of our being, why not for another? Is there then no energy, properly speaking, except that of the substances which are known to chemistry? Are not thought, will, love truly energy? Are they not just as much energy as any energy that we can identify with oxygen, or hydrogen or nitrogen, or carbon? And, if thought and affection and will are energy, what, pray, becomes of them at death? "Chemistry knows what becomes of their physical companions. Give chemistry time and opportunity, and, when a man has been dead for a year, it will tell you upon analysis what each of the physical forces which one year ago combined to sustain his living body is now doing. But what can chemistry tell you about his thought, his affection, his will? And, if these are—as surely they are—properly energy, have they ceased? Have they ceased only because they are unrepresented in the transformation to the physical forces which were for years their partners? Surely to suppose that they are extinct is to reject this admitted law of the conservation of energy, to reject it for no better reason than that for the moment we are unable to verify its applicability to a particular detail—a preceding which would certainly be deemed irrational if nothing beyond a physical fact or a physical doctrine, wereatstake. In this way some minds outside the Christian faith might fairly be led up to the great conviction, to which so much else points that is independent of revelation—the conviction that the spiritual nature of man survives the death of his body. If it is reasonable to think that physical energy does not perish at death, but only takes new forms, then it is, at least, equally reasonable to believe in a like survival of spiritual energy.
But here there arises the momentous question: How, or in what shape, will this surviving spiritual energy be preserved? Will the living spirit, like the body, be dissolved? Will the spiritual forces which made it what it was to us survive, entering perhaps into new associations, new combinations, new beings? Will what was strictly personal in the living man have ceased to be? Will his ever enduring thought, and love, and resolve sink back into, and blend with, some supposed ocean of universal life in which they will endure for ever, though without' consciousness of their separation from any other created existence? This, since Spinoza's day, has been a widely accepted form of the doctrine of the immortality of man; and it is taken for granted—sometimes only half consciously in too many minds, and types of mind among us— to be ignored when the general subject is discussed. Remark, then, my brethren, this vital difference between physical force, or energy, and spiritual force. Physical force exists independently of the living subject to whose life it belongs or contributes. A gas is just as much a gas whether it enters into the composition of a human being, or is detained in a jar in a chemist's shop; but spiritual force has no existence whatever, so far as we know, apart from the seat of being, or the person whose force it is. Thought, love, resolve—these cannot be treated like a gas; they cannot be detached from the soul into whose life they enter, and secured, packed away in some laboratory for ex
periments in moral science. And therefore, it follows that, if at death the thinking, loving, resolving subject or person ceases to be, through his supposed absorption into some ocean of universal life, or otherwise, then his thought and his love and his resolve cease to be simultaneously, and the vision which would represent them as enduring when the human personality which is the basis of their being has already perished is indeed a dream—it is an airy compound of forces and of sentiments to which nothing can really answer in the world of fact. The immortality which is held to consist in absorption of the personal soul into the infinite life of God is, when we examine it closely, only another name for practical annihilation. The only real immortality of the personal being is a personal immortality; and a doctrine of immortality which would destroy the separate consciousness, which would break down the walls of the thinking, loving, resolving person, does not the less annihilate that person because it softens the process by proclaiming his absorption into the universal life."
"This," perhaps some of you will say, "is only a question for the metaphysician." On the contrary, my brethren, be well assured it is eminently a question for the human heart. What is the thought which more than any other takes possession of us when death has separated us from one whom we have loved dearly in life? Is it not i "Shall I see him ever again? Shall I know him? Will he know me?" Who that has ever loved and lost can doubt it? And what must be the answer to this question? If the phrases are true which paint the surviving spirit of man as losing the consciousness of personal existence from absorption into universal life—if this supposition were true, there would be nothing to recognize, there would be nobody to recognize. Recognizer and recognized would alike have lost all that marks off and that constitutes individual being during this supposed process of absorption. We might as well altogether have ceased to be.
That each, who seems a separate whole,
Is faith as vague as all unsweet;
Eternal form shall still divide
The eternal soul from all beside;
NOTES ON CURRENT TOPICS.
Inoersoll's Reply.—No well instructed Christian will be in the least disturbed by the renewed assault upon the Bible, and the God it reveals, made by Mr. Ingersoll in his reply to Mr. Gladstone, as published in the June North American. It is mainly a re-statement of the shallow criticisms he has been making for years past—criticisms which reveal how utterly this arch sceptic has failed to comprehend the divine scheme of the world and of human history as outlined on the inspired pages. Most of his objections to the character of Jehovah as drawn in the Old Testament can be made with equal force against the power that makes for order and righteousness in nature, with whose administration Mr. Ingersoll seems to get along through the world very comfortably, and in whose bible—science—he reposes such confidence and hope. It must, however, be confessed that no satisfactory answer can be made to many of his criticisms from the old standpoints. Orthodoxy never has nor never can reconcile such stern and cruel facts as the drowning of the world by the flood, the dispossession and slaughter of the Cainaanites, the killing of the four hundred prophets of Baal, on the ordinary theory that the hell into which such evil generations of men passed when swept off the earth for their wickedness, is endless. But on the principle that He who kills can also make alive, and that the death of depraved masses of mankind out of their low order of humanity may be a part of a necessary process by which they may be wrought over into a higher, and that even upon the night of such " spirits in prison" the morning star arose when Jesus Christ was raised that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living, then the whole history wears a different aspect. Neither Dr. Field nor Mr. Gladstone seem to be aware of the magnificent gems of promise and of hope hidden in the rough and rocky chambers of these Old testament Scriptures. Hence neither has been able to make a complete and satisfactory defence. But let no Christian lose heart. Such a defence can be made. All that is needed is to get below these surface records of God's dealings with mankind, upon which Ingersoll loves to linger, to the heart of what He has spoken by the mouth of all His prophets since the world began. To one who understands the gospel of the resurrection of the dead the whole of these dark records of God's dealing with mankind in the past shines with a new light, and the future is suffused with a new hope. He sees how even these remote times contribute something to that song of the ages whose full chorus was heard by the enraptured John as he stood at the point where all the past was summed up; "Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages. Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." It has been the supreme mistake and folly of defenders of the faith to assume that in this song and worship of all nations, the nations of the