I proceed to take up the three main arguments in support of man's immortality.
1. The desire all men feel for it.
This argument can avail nothing, unless it can be proved, that what men desire they will possess. But men desire many things they never obtain. All men desire happiness; but does it, therefore, follow that all men will be happy? Certainly not. So, neither does it follow, because all men desire immortality, that therefore, they are immortal, or will all attain it. We might as well argue that because all men desire to be rich, therefore they are rich, or will certainly be so. The desire for immortality is, without doubt, a strong principle implanted in us by the author of our being, to excite us to a course of living that shall secure that invaluable blessing, which He designed to bestow upon man, if he would walk in obedience to the law of his God. - Hence, the dread of the loss of it was to influence men in enduring whatever of trial might be their lot, during their sojourn in this state of probation; and, properly considered, will be a mighty stimulus to enable us to suffer even unto death, if need be, that we may gain ETERNAL LIFE.
2. It is said - "The soul is a simple essence, immaterial, uncompounded, indivisible, indestructible, and hence immortal."
Here is surely an array of words that might deter a timid man from investigation; but, following the apostolical injunction, I proceed to prove, or examine, these assumptions.
1.) How do those who take this position know the soul is a simple essence? Again, what is a simple essence? can they tell us? Or, is it merely a phrase to blind the mind and hinder investigation? Surely the phrase communicates no idea to the mind of man - it is too vague to give any instruction - it is too subtle to admit of being the subject of thought, and therefore it must pass for an unfounded assumption.
2.) What is immateriality? Strictly speaking it is, not material - not matter. In other words - it is not substance. What is that which has no substance? - What kind of creation is it? If the Creator formed "all things out of nothing," it would seem that man's soul has taken the form of its original, and is nothing still; for it is not matter, we are told. If it is said - "It is a spiritual substance" - I ask, What kind of substance is that, if it is not matter? I cannot conceive, and I do not see how it is possible to conceive, of substance without matter, in some form: it may be exceedingly refined. I regard the phrase, immaterial, as one which properly belongs to the things which are not: a sound without sense or meaning: a mere cloak to hide the nakedness of the theory of an immortal soul in man; a phrase of which its authors are as profoundly ignorant as the most unlearned of their pupils.
3.) It is said - "The soul is uncompounded." If that is true, then it follows that it is uncreated. I can form no idea of a creation without compounding. If not compounded it is only what it was: no new idea is produced. Then, if the soul exists at all, as an entity, it must be a part of the uncreated: that is, it must be a part of God. If a part of God, how can it sin? Can God be divided against himself? But how is that God who is "without body or parts" to be separated into the millions of souls that have inhabited, and do inhabit this earth? And then these parts of God often meet in the battle field, slaying each other! Horrid work, truly, for parts of God to be engaged in! But we cannot stop here. Millions of these parts of God sin against other parts of God, and are sent to hell to be tormented eternally, and eternally to curse and blaspheme the other parts of God! Such is the inevitable result of the theory I oppose, disguise it as its advocates may.
4.) "The soul is indivisible," it is affirmed. Then, if a part of God, it is an undivided part of God; and there is not, and cannot be, in the nature of the case, but one soul to the whole human family. If the soul is indivisible, how could Abraham give or communicate a soul to Isaac? It could not be an offshoot from his own, for that would make his soul divisible, and our opposers say it is "indivisible." I cannot see, if Abraham communicated Isaac's soul to him, but what it must still have been Abraham's soul in Isaac, if the soul is not divisible; and then I do not see how there can be more than one soul for the whole family; and as that is "indivisible," it is a family soul; hence it follows that the action of any one man must be the action of the family soul; so if one man sins, it is a family sin, or if one man acts virtuously it is a family virtue. Again, as the soul is "indivisible," all men must have the same common destiny: say, for example, if Abraham should be lost, Isaac must be lost, for the soul can't be divided! and so whatever is the fate of the first man, Adam, must be the fate of all his race, or else the soul must be divisible; and then, what would become of the theory of its indivisibility? - Happy for man, however, we have the assurance that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are saved, and that proves Adam and Eve were, and that all their posterity must inevitably be so too - for "the soul is indivisible!" Thus our opposers take a short and certain rout to universal salvation. Can they get out of that dilemma without abandoning their theory?
There is no avoiding these conclusions only by affirming that a soul is created for each new-born child. But if created, is it holy or unholy? If holy, does God place holy souls in unholy bodies to pollute and defile them? If souls are a new creation at birth, how is Adam's moral depravity transmitted to his posterity? as theologians affirm it is. But if they are created unholy, is any soul of man blameworthy for his moral depravity? These are questions for the theologians to solve who maintain the indivisibility of the soul: questions which are no longer to pass by any man's mere affirmation. Give us proof - "thus saith the Lord," for these assumptions about the soul.
5.) Shall it be affirmed the soul is "indestructible?" If so, it is because God has determined it shall not be destroyed, or because he lacks power to destroy it. - If it is the first, give us Scripture testimony of such determination. I hesitate not to say, there is no "thus saith the Lord" for any such assumption. If it is said, God cannot destroy it - I ask, did he create it? If so, does it take a greater exertion of power to destroy than to create? or, did God so exhaust his omnipotence in the act of creation that it is not now equal to the work of reducing back to its original state that which he has made? If I were to affirm God's inability to destroy anything he has created I might justly be charged with being "infidel." As it is, my opposers might more justly be charged with atheism; for they, in fact, deny Jehovah's omnipotence, which is equivalent to a denial of his being.
If to make their assumptions stronger they use the term annihilate, and say, "nothing can be annihilated - therefore man cannot be;" I answer, this position is wholly untenable, and is a deceptive play upon words. If a man dash in pieces a bottle, or burn a house to ashes, or consume a lamb in the fire, are not the bottle, the house, the lamb, annihilated? Say not, the elements of which they consisted still exist: they - the bottle, the house, the lamb - do not exist, as such: that form is annihilated. Not the elements of which he was formed: but as man he is no more. On the subject of annihilation, however, I may speak more at large in another place: I will only add now - If "God created all things out of nothing," as the theology of the age affirms, then he can, if he will, reduce all things back to nothing, or omnipotence has ceased to be omnipotent.
The attempt to prove the immortality of the soul, from its supposed indestructibility, is without force or truth; and with it falls the whole catalogue of assumptions, with which it is connected. He who created can destroy - "Fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" - in gehenna.
The Philosophical argument for the immortality of man's soul, when stript of all its useless attire, stands thus: -
1. There are only two primary substances, viz: matter and spirit.
2. Matter has no power of self-motion, or self-determination, however it may be organized.
3. Therefore, wherever we see matter endowed with this power, there must have been added to it an immortal spirit or soul, that is immaterial, etc.
This is the soul of all the philosophical arguments that have ever been put forth to prove man has an immortal soul. If the position is true it endows every animal, insect, or crawling worm upon earth with an immortal and immaterial soul just as really as man; and strips Jesus Christ of all the glory of bestowing immortality upon man by his work and meditation.
To Be Continued…
This Sermon 1 Taken From:
“Six Sermons on the Inquiry Is There Immortality in Sin and Suffering?”
“ALSO, A SERMON ON CHRIST THE LIFE-GIVER: OR, THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL.”
BY GEORGE STORRS, OFFICE OF THE BIBLE EXAMINER, 1855
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