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neither define nor comprehend, ceases to operate when that principle is withdrawn; every composition begins to separate, its particles disperse in air, or dissolve to water, or sink into the earth; and in a short space not a vestige remains of the blooming shrub that grew, and expanded and put forth its blossoms; not a trace is left of the animated quadruped, that roamed through the forest, the lord of the uncultivated wilds: and man himself, the sovereign of creation, whose powers of intellect render him much more than a match for brutal force, and enable him to reduce to subjection the strongest and fiercest of the savage tribes, even this monarch of nature, when the vital spark is extinguished, becomes on a level with the meanest reptile, is as soon the prey of corruption, and returns to recruit the juices of the ground which once supplied him with the means of life. Look at the corpse of intelligent, intellectual man ;-man, made but“ a little lower than the angels:”—Is it any way better than the carcase of the village cur, that is thrown to perish on the dunghill? Yet that “this mortal shall put on immortality,”—that this compound creature shall revive,--that this decayed matter shall one day resume its vital functions, and the departed
spirit, that flies we know not how or whither, never to be traced by human eye, shall return to its former mansion,—though so repugnant to reason, and so unwarranted by experience,-is a notion, which, strange as it may seem, has prevailed universally ; it has lived through every age, and still pervades every region.
This persuasion could not spring from a poetical imagination, or from philosophical research; for it existed long before there were such beings as poets or philosophers. Whence then did it originate? The fact is, it is the voice of nature, that is, the voice of nature's AUTHOR, speaking in the heart of man. Conscience, that internal monitor and guide, tells him that he is accountable for his actions; that he must be punished or rewarded according to his works ; and since he sees and knows that this impartial judgment does not take place in this life, it is one of the first truths that dawns upon his mind, one of the clearest deductions of his reason, that he shall live again.
This just and well-founded assurance has, indeed, given birth to many wild conceits and perplexing speculations. Men of warm fancy and luxuriant genius grafted upon this general persuasion the various fictions of antiquity: they sketched out pictures of the future world from images acquired in this ; wasted the departed souls over a gloomy stream, to the tribunal of infernal judges; and placed them in Elysium, or in Tartarus, in gardens of pleasure, or caverns of misery, according to their respective deserts. While such as had devoted themselves to philosophical inquiry, sought either to establish, or to overthrow, the popular opinion, by abstruse investigation. They endeavoured to analyze the man -to develope the particles of the body, and to pry into the contexture of the soul, that they might discover the first elements of immortality. They could find nothing to support the notion of the body's being restored to life-they perceived that all its component parts were so scattered and dispersed as to be, in all human appearance, incapable of re-uniting : Thus, one portion of the man was gone :-and, as to the soul, it was difficult to conceive, and impossible to explain, how it could think, and act, and feel, without organs to convey objects of reflection and sensation. Thus, perplexed and confounded by refined disquisitions, some of the learned relinquished the hopes of nature, because they could not confirm those hopes by physical proofs of the soul's immortality; while the generality adopted the fictions of the poets, and wove into their religious creed the airy dreams of excursive imagination.
Perhaps mankind can never attain to any positive certainty respecting this great article of natural, as well as revealed religion, by the help of reason alone. Though nature has stamped this expectation of a future life upon the hearts of all her offspring, it does not appear that she can supply them with answers to the numerous objections which
may be brought against it;-such answers as shall silence overy opponent, and set the point at rest. For though the presumption, that a time of retribution will come, and consequently that the same man must live in some other state, to receive the just recompense of his deeds, though this presumption is very strong, and enough to influence the conduct of a thinking man, yet it is liable to be shaken and suspended by frequent doubts and suspicions, from the impossibility of forming any clear conception of unembodied spirit, and the evident destruction of this mortal machine; a destruction seen and observed every day. Two things are necessary to establish
this fact beyond dispute; first, that there is some invisible Agent in the universe, capable of performing this great work; and secondly, that He, who has the power and the means, has also the intention and determination to effect it. No being, with whom we are conversant, is equal to the task:that we know at once. No man can exempt his brother from the corruption and dissolution of the grave, or provide him a new ethereal body to receive the departing spirit. But that there is ONE, who is able to raise the dead, we are fully assured :-we need only open our eyes and consult our understanding. Who, I pray you, called into existence the various objects which surround us? Who gave motion to dull inert matter, and breathed life into animated forms? Who united, to this human frame of such complicated construction, a rational, intelligent principle, continually acting upon the material system in a way we can in no wise explain or comprehend, though we hourly exercise the power ? That this unseen Cause of all things can renew the vital flame He has extinguished, and which He originally kindled, is as clear as any incontrovertible demonstration ; as certain as any thing we daily experience. We want no other light than nature