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A H O MIL Y
Life and Death.*
" For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”—Rom. viii. 6.
WO opposite states of humanity are here brought before us.
In the first, the controlling force is carnal ; in the second, spiritual. The one shows us man fallen from his high destiny, un
mindful of his glorious capacities, "not liking retain God in his knowledge,” alien from the holy and the pure, and forgetting the everlasting realities of the after-death world in the hollow joys and vain vexations of the present. The other exhibits him as an heir of immortality, his love and trust centered in the Father of Spirits, his citizenship in Heaven, his hope stretching far beyond the things of time and
sense, and “entering into that within the veil.” The former of these states is said to be death, while the latter is declared to be life and peace. It is not so much that the one is punished with, or produces, death ; and that the other is rewarded with, or results in, life; as that each is, now, and absolutely, death and life respectively. The sinner is “dead in trespasses,”—actually as well as prospectively; the believer " hath life," and not merely the promise of it. So that when the Gospel thus declares the alternatives of man's condition and destiny, it is not only a prophecy of the future, it is a
* We publish this, not as the type of pulpit discourses we desire to promote, but simply on account of its fresh, ingenuous, and thoughtstimulating character.
revelation of the present. And what are life and death ? Clearly, in Scripture phraseology, they denote states of being, and not existence and non-existence Death is not necessarily extinction, nor is continuity of existence necessarily deathlessness, or immortality. So the endless existence of an unbeliever's soul, and the resurrection of an unbeliever's body, do not necessarily imply any life in the scriptural sense) but rather seem essential properties of humanity, and
so inalienable. Viewing, then, life as a condition—not a . principle--we enquire, What is it? Wherein does it consist?
We have experience of four distinct kinds of vitality; the two former, conditions of matter; the two latter, of spirit. The first organic, the second animal, the third intellectual, the fourth spiritual. Of which the mutual relation of the first and second is the same as that of the third and fourth; the two former being the material types of the two latter, each to each.
The functions of organic life are such as digestion, circulation, respiration, absorption, secretion and the like—the heart is their central organ. The animal functions are the actions of the senses, of the brain, of the voluntary muscles and of the cerebro-spinal nerves ; the brain is their central organ. Whether or not this division of vital phenomena is suited to the purposes of modern physiology, it is certainly founded in nature; inasmuch as the organs of the first class are not subject to the periodical intermission of sleep, which is uniformly the case with those of the second. Accepting the classification therefore as a natural, and not an arbitrary, arrangement, we may make it the basis of the following observations :
(1) In comparing these two classes of organs we remark the very obvious subordination of the first to the second. What is a gland, a membrane, or a blood-vessel, compared to the eye which can read the stars, or the ear which can appreciate music's magic power? For however important the gland, membrane, or blood-vessel, may be in its office to the system, it is only important as it ministers to the sentient welfare of that system. The organic derives all its worth from the animal ; a world of vegetable life, apart from ulterior design, would be an anomaly.
(2) In form and position the first class of organs is mostly destitute of that uniformity and symmetry which distinguish those of the second. Thus the latter are either double, as the eyes, ears, and limbs; or they consist of correspondent halves on each side of the median line, as the nose, mouth, &c. : thus the brain has its hemispheres, and the cerebro-spinal nerves are given off in pairs. In the organic functions, on the contrary, it is totally different ; the heart, the stomach, the liver are one-sided in position and irregular in form ; while those parts which are double, as the lungs and kidneys, are yet so unequal as to preclude all uniformity.
(3) The organs of the second class are elaborated from those of the first : the organic functions precede the animal, the latter being developed from them. By an incomprehensible power, to which naturalists may apply various names. but which no science can explain, organic vitality can produce its like. This is the Divine definition of life, as distinguished from the previously-existing world of unorganized matter—“Let the earth bring forth grass, &c., whose seed is in itself.” And it is remarkable that this formula is not repeated in the creation of animals, probably for this reason, that organic life alone is actually generated and animal life developed therefrom. It follows:
(4) That the organic functions may be perfectly carried on, while the animal functions are imperfect, or altogether absent; but not the reverse. The eye may be affected by derangement of the stomach, but the stomach does not suffer from diseased vision. *
* So independent of the cerebro-spinal nerves are the organic functions that they are found still active in cases of paralysis, and of congenital defect, or actual removal, of the brain. See Dr. W. B. Carpenter's “Principles of Human Physiology," p. 19.
(5) The ends proposed by these two classes of functions are totally distinct. The end of the one is nutrition—or to speak with precision, the maintenance of the individual and the continuance of the race—the end of the other is sensational enjoyment and activity. Two conditions are therefore requisite for the perfection of each ; for the perfection of organic vitality we must have proper food exhibited, and a perfect faculty of assimilation; for the perfection of animal life we must have proper objects presented, and a perfect faculty of perception and volition. Finally, each of these classes of functions has, in the present order of things, a substance so universally and prominently its own, that by a frequent metonomy it is placed for all other substances pertaining thereto: the great vehicle of nutrition is bread; the great vehicle of sensation is light.
(6) In proceeding to notice the evils to which these functions are respectively exposed we find that they are,
in each case, twofold, -intrinsic and extrinsic. The grand extrinsic evil to which the organic functions are exposed is that waste, or attrition, which is the constant effect of vital action, and is only counterbalanced in the healthy system by as constant a supply of nourishment. The intrinsic evil attendant on these functions is that lapse of vitality, which, after the stage of maturity is passed, makes itself so visible in the diminution of moisture and rigidity of fibre which character
These two evils appear to be imminent and necessarily attendant upon organic life, as we see it around us, while all others belong to individual derangement by no means necessarily resulting from the nature of the parts or their functions. In like manner the animal functions have their two sources of evil; the extrinsic, arising from improper media of sensation, and the intrinsic consisting of whole or partial incapacity of sensation or volition.
(7) When these evils become complete and permanent they constitute death. In animal death there is the cessation of all sensational enjoyment and activity, and in organic
ize old age.
death there is a dissolution of parts ;-the individual organism is at an end, and its constituent elements are given back to be dealt with according to the chemical laws of matter.
Proceed we now to consider the two classes of vitality which are conditions of spirit; namely, intellectual life, or the power of receiving, retaining, combining and analyzing, ideas—the reasoning faculty; and spiritual life, or that adjustment of passion, will and action, which by its assimilation to the Divine mind secures peace, satisfaction and enjoyment to the individual, the glory of the Creator, and the propriety of the Universe. Assuming that these are the immaterial analogues of the former, let us see whether the preceding observations will apply to them consistently and intelligibly.
(1) As the organic functions are subordinate in excellence to the animal, so are the intellectual to the spiritual. What is unsanctified intellect but Satan, the “archangel ruined” ? The very magnitude of its capacities is its torment; the very sublimity of its powers is the measure of its fall. For does intellectual activity bring satisfaction, enjoyment, rest? Do its six days of toil in the laboratory of nature bring in a seventh day sabbatism? By no means.
As the organic functions never sleep, so the intellect is never satisfied with its achievements. The end, therefore, of all this untiring apparatus of action must be sought for beyond itself, namely, in spiritual life. “I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness."
(2) Our next observation related to the irregularity, the asymmetry, of the parts belonging to the organic functions as contrasted with the uniform symmetry of the animal system.
The one is the rough side of the tapestry, where the straggling worsteds hang in unseemly confusion; the other is the fair tracery of beautiful proportions. And where is the regularity, the sightly uniformity of a mind unbalanced by religious, that is, spiritual, culture and devolpment ? Does not the intellect of a Byron present us with the wrong