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the exercise of the powers of the mind, without affecting its existence. Besides, they are contradicted by contrary appearances; such as prove the mind to be vigorous and active, when the body is quite the reverse, as in sleep, and even at the approach of death.
If then thinking substances cannot be destroyed by the action of bodies,-if they cannot destroy themselves, and if they have no internal tendency to annihilation; there is but another way to reduce them to nothing, and that is, by supposing that they have power to deprive one another of existence. But it is not easily conceivable, how I, who cannot annihilate myself, should be able to annihilate another man. Transfer this, if you please, to pure minds, or to any order of beings superior to man, (excluding only the supreme Being, whose almighty power, as it made all things of nothing, can reduce them to nothing again,) and it is still inconceivable how any creature, who has no such power over his own being, should have it over the being of another. But if man cannot annihilate man, may not an angel annihilate him? and may not a superior angel annihilate one of a lower order, or one that kept not his first estate? No; at least neither of these is clear, nor so much as probable; it being more agreeable to reason to think, that this is the prerogative of God only, who alone can give being, and alone can take it away. Whoever asserts this annihilating power to any creature, must do it gratis, and without proof. And why should we maintain a point gratis, and barely for maintaining's sake? especially a point that has a bad tendency? since, were all other arguments wanting, this itself would be one
against it". The result of these reflections is, that annihilation must be the effect of the power of God".
I don't offer these remarks as positive proofs against annihilation, but as a sort of presumptive arguments on our side. One sometimes hears men talk of annihilation, as if it were one of the most common effects in the world; an event that would come to pass of course. And yet it is nothing but a notion that has crept into the heads of philosophical men, without having any thing to answer to it in nature or fact. Thus, as to the subject under debate, "hell fire," they cry, "is a consuming fire, and "the torments of that place will reduce them to nothing." This is easily said; but the reason and
a See this argument applied in another case by the author of the Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul, sect. ii.
b"There is a common notion in the world, that things would "fall back into nothing of themselves, if they were not preserved "by the same infinite power that made them: but without ques"tion it is an act of the same infinite power to reduce a being to "nothing, that it is to bring a being out of nothing: so whatever "has once a being, must of its nature continue still to be, without any new causality or influence. This must be acknowledged, unless it can be said, that a tendency to annihilation is "the consequent of a created being: but as this would make the "preservation of the world to be a continued violence to a natu"ral tendency that is in all things; so there is no more reason to "imagine that beings have a tendency to annihilation, than that nothing had a tendency to creation. It is absurd to think that "any thing can have a tendency to that which is essentially op"posite to itself, and is destructive of it." Bishop Burnet's Exposition, art. i.
There is an argument of another kind, which may be seen in Watts's Philosophical Essays, Essay xi. sect. 4. "Hoc duntaxat "certo affirmari potest, eum solum qui substantiis existentiam "primum dedit, posse eandem eis eripere :-" Jo. Clerici Ontologiæ cap. vi. ad finem.
philosophy of it is not so apparent. Supposing (not granting) that this fire will have the same effect upon the future body, that the action of fire has now upon the present; it will then indeed, in a vulgar sense, destroy it: that is, it will so destroy the texture and organization of the parts, that the soul can no longer inhabit, or act upon it in union; from whence must ensue a second separation. But then, at the same time, the soul itself, which is in effect the man, will still subsist entire and active, still capable of pleasure and pain. Nor can all the action of all the material substances in the world deprive it of its existence. Men are sometimes burnt to death here, God's martyrs and the Devil's: yet no reason, no religion, natural or revealed, will allow us to suppose that, together with this mortal life, a final period is put to all life, to all sensation and being. And if the soul can survive the shock of such an event as this, what is there else that is likely to destroy it? It was reckoned of old an absurdity in the Stoics, that though they held that the soul survived the body, yet they would not allow that it would exist for ever. "Stoici autem usuram nobis largiun
tur, tanquam cornicibus: diu mansuros aiunt ani"mos, semper negant," says Cicero. And he goes
< Tusculan. i. cap. 31. "Numquid igitur est causæ, quin amicos "nostros Stoicos dimittamus; eos dico, qui aiunt animos manere, e corpore cum excesserint, sed non semper? Istos vero: qui, "quod tota in hac causa difficillimum est, suscipiant, posse animum manere corpore vacantem: illud autem, quod non modo "facile ad credendum est, sed eo concesso, quod volunt, consequens, id certe non dant, ut, cum dịu permanserit, ne intereat.” To which the pupil replies, "Bene reprehendis: et se isto modo res habet." Cap. xxxii. p. 260. ed. Olivet.
The learned editor indeed offers a conjecture, that part of the
on, in the very beginning of the next section, to shew how this was absurd; as it was allowing what was most difficult in the whole affair, and at the same time denying what was not only credible in itself, but a consequence of their own concession. For if the soul can survive the dissolution of the body, and exist in a state of separation from it, what reason is there to imagine that it will ever perish?
But, though I have, for argument's sake, supposed that this future fire may thus destroy the body, and once again separate the soul from it; yet is it far more reasonable, agreeably to ancient testimonies and tradition, to believe the contrary. As to the philosophy of the thing, it amounts only to this; that because our common fire has this effect upon the present body, therefore that future fire will have the same on the body after the resurrection: which sure is a very poor argument, or none at all. We know neither the nature of hell fire, nor the nature and qualities of the resurrection-body, perfectly enough to lay any stress on such reasonings. I don't say that this argument is made use of by our adversaries, and produced in form; but it is the ground of their opinion, so far as the reason of the case is concerned. Dr. Whitby, for instance, whose sentiments on this point are well known, which he offers however only as a conjecture, thinks that the bodies of the wicked must be consumed by that fire, or else there would be a constant miracled. But they are
former sentence, beginning at "Istos vero," belongs to the pupil. And then the instructor replies, "Bene reprehendis," &c. But which way soever we read the passage, they both condemn the conduct of the Stoics in this affair.
d Appendix to the first chapter of the second Epistle to the Thessalonians.
only our own gross conceptions of the matter which make a miracle needful. Surely there may be resemblance and analogy enough in those future punishments, to the painful sensations which are excited by fire, to apply that name to them in a very proper sense; though all the effects are not exactly the same with those which the action of our ordinary fire produces on the present human body. It may be as agreeable to the nature of that fire, not to consume, or, to the nature of those bodies, not to be consumed, as the contrary is agreeable to the nature of common fire, and the nature of the present body. And such a constitution of things may no more require "a constant miracle," than that which prevails now. But not to run into any nice speculations, which may only serve to breed dispute; this is certain, that hell fire will be such as will torment the Devil and his angels, for whom it is prepared, as well as wicked men. And can common fire do this? can that act upon spirits incorporeal? or, if at all corporeal, (which however is not hastily to be taken for granted,) with bodies so infinitely subtle and spiritual, that common fire does not seem likely to have much force upon them.
All that I intend by this, is only to shew, that
e The sentiments of antiquity on this head may be seen in Suicer's Thesaurus, sub voc. "Ayyeλos et Saíμwr.—Those who ascribed any thing of corporeity to angels were induced to it chiefly by their mistaken sense of Gen. vi. 2. The fact there mentioned they thought could not be accounted for without it. Besides, the word body (μa) was of very indeterminate meaning; and some who applied it to them might only mean that they were substances, not shadows, or nothings. This, one would think, was the case of those who called their bodies immaterial, (o≈μara äüλa,) which in our modern notions is a contradiction.