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Though the question be a little out of time, yet as the
† See Div. Leg. b. iii.
what I have delivered, says, at the same time: But the dead know not any thing, neither have they ANY MORE A REWARD, for the memory of them is forBotten*.
And where was the wonder? that a matter which so little concerned then, namely, the future condition of a portion of etherial Spirit divested of its Personality, should only float idly in the brain, when we reflect that even the knowledge of the FIRST CAUSE OF ALL THINGS, while he made no part of the National Worship, was entertained by the Gentiles (as appears from all Antiquity) with the utmost unconcern, neither regulating their notions, nor influencing their actions.
But from this uninteresting state, in which the Doctrine, concerning the Soul, remained amongst the early Jews, the SADDUCEES concluded that their Ancestors believed the extinction of the soul on death. Hence likewise came some late Revivers of this opinion, of the extinction of the soul; though maintained under the softer name of its SLEEP between death and the resurrection: For they go upon the Sadducean principle, that the soul is a quality only, and not a substance.
In support of this opinion, the Revivers of it proceed on the sophism, which Polytheists employ to combat the unity of the Godhead. All Philosophical arguments (says the Reviver, after having quoted a number. of wonderful things from Scripture, to prove the soul a quality, and mortal) drawn from our notions of matter, and urged against the possibility of life, thought and agency, being so connected with some portions of it as to constitute a compound Being or Person, are merely grounded on our ignorance f. Just so the * Chap. ix. ver. 5.
↑ Considerations on the Theory of Religion, p. 398. Ed. 3d.
Polytheist. "All arguments for the Unity, from metaphysics, are manifestly vain, and merely grounded on our ignorance. You Believers (says he) must be confined to Scripture: Now Scripture assures us, THERE ARE GODS MANY," which, by the way, I think a stronger text, certainly a directer, against the unity of the Godhead, than any this learned Writer has produced for the sleep of the Soul. But what say Believers to this? They say, that Scripture takes the unity, as well as the existence of the Deity, for granted; takes them for truths demonstrable by natural light. Just so it is with regard to that immaterial substance, the Soul. Scripture supposes men to be so far informed of the nature of the Soul, by the same light, as to know that it cannot be destroyed by any of those causes which bring about the extinction of the body. Our Dreamers are aware of this, and therefore hold with Unbelievers, that the Soul is no substance, but a quality only; and so have taken effectual care indeed, that its repose shall not be disturbed in this, which we may emphatically call, the SLEEP OF DEATH. We can never prove (says another of these sleepers †) that the Soul of man is of such a nature that it can and must exist and live, think, act, enjoy, &c. separate front, and independent of, the body. All our présent experience shews the contrary. The operations of the mind depend CONSTANTLY and INVARIABLY upon the state of the body, of the brain in particular. If some dying persons have a lively use of their rational faculties to the very last, it is because death has invaded some other part, and the brain remains sound and vigorous‡. This is the long-exploded trash of Coward, Toland,
*St. Jude's filthy dreamers only defiled the Flesh. These defile the Spirit.
Taylor of Norwich.
Collins, &c. And he who can treat us with it at this time of day, has either never read CLARKE and BAXTER on the subject (in which he had been better employed than in writing upon it), or never understood them. So far as to the abstract truth. Let us conşider next the practical consequences. Convince the philosophic Libertine that the Soul is a quality arising out of matter, and vanishing on the dissolution of the form, and then see if ever you can bring him to believe the Christian Doctrine of the RESURRECTION! While he held the Soul to be an immaterial substance, existing, as well in its separation from, as in its conjunction with, the body, and he could have no reason, arising from the Principles of true Philosophy, to stagger in his belief of this revealed Doctrine.-Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die*, is good philosophy as well as good divinity: for if the body, instead of its earthly nature, were to have a heavenly, it must needs pass through death and corruption to qualify it for that change. But when this body died, what occasion was there for the Soul, which was to suffer no change, to fall asleep?
But their sleep of the Soul is mere cant: and this brings me to the last consideration, the sense and con sistency of so ridiculous a notion. They go, as we observed, upon the Sadducean principle, that the Soul is a quality of body, not a substance of itself, and so dies with its substratum. Now sleep, is a modification of Existence, not of non-existence; so that though the sleep of a Substance hath a meaning, the sleep of a quality is nonsense. And if ever this Soul of theirs re-exerts its faculties, it must be by means of a REPRODUCTION, not by a mere AWAKING; and they may as well talk of the SLEEP of a mushroom turneḍ St. Paul. (1 Cor. xv. 36.)
again into the substance of the dunghill from whence it arose, and from which, not the same, but another mushroom shall, in time, arise. In a word, neither Unbelievers nor Believers will allow to these middle men that a new-existing Soul, which is only a quality resulting from a glorified body, can be identically the same with an annihilated Soul, which had resulted from an earthly body. But perhaps, as Hudibras had discovered the Receptacle of the ghosts of defunct bodies, so these gentlemen may have found out the yet subtiler corner, where the ghosts of defunct qua lities repose.
END OF THE FIFTH BOOK,