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ration is expressly set down to prove him to be the offspring of Abraham and of David: but who will suppose, that, for this reason, contrary to the voice of the scripture, it shall ever have an end? No: He will be the everlasting SAME, and his years shall not fail.
Indeed, our notions of the vis activa, or efficient cause in the generation of all things, even of the grossist and most common substances, are too imperfect and superficial to be reasoned from. And could we decide in the
Case, with tolerable precision, upon matter; it might well be doubted how far we should have a right, from thence, to conclude for spirit. But so remote are we in our knowledge of the first principles in this subject, that we cannot exactly account for their apparent activities and sensible effects. No man can define the bond of connexion between soul and body, nor the instantaneous impressions and force of ihe one upon the other, nor the growth and expansion of the body from infancy to manhood, and much less the growing intellect and spiritual expansion of the soul. How then are we to draw arguments from these, or from any thing else of a material nature, in order to conclude upon the modes of spiritual existence, of which in our present gross, fallen, and compounded state we must ever remain ignorant? We cannot enter deeply into causes: it is sufficient exercise for our faculties to state effects. And the effects, in the
he be called the Son of David, and of Man, totally as a man, and not as to his flesh alone; yet was he not so by full generation, as others are; but the Spirit's creative conception made him, even as to his humanity, more eminently the Son of God, than the Son of Man.” BAXTER: Poor Man's Family Book, p. 445,
subject subject before us, appear very strongly in favour of that position, which maintains the traduction of sin from the body and soul of our first parent, in the way of natural generation, to the bodies and souls of all his posterity. The fact of depravity is undeniably marked by all its unhappy effects upon the two constituents of our nature: and it seems difficult to give a satisfactory reason, why we are to seek a separate channel for the communication of either. At least, it will be time enough to say, that a spirit cannot be generated, when it is discussed, how body becomes the seed of body, and by an excision of itself, yet without any loss of its form, can produce a similar, and at the same time a separate existence, for ever incapable of re-union,
We are told, that the Magi used to term the union of soul and body the mixture of light and darkness: it is truly so, and in more senses than one.*
There is a scripture, which I do not recollect to have been noticed by any author, but which I presume may be brought into some relation to our present subject. I do not insist upon it but rather propose it; because the scriptures were not intended to teach us metaphysics but something better. The people of God, from the beginning, were commanded to abstain from eating blood; and the reason given is, because the blood is the life, and the life of the flesh is in the bloodet I do not
* Gale in Tambl. sect. i. c. 2. + LACTANTIUS, in speaking of those philosophers, who maintained that the blood was the very soul, hath this expression : Videtur anima similis esse lumini, quæ non ipse sit sanguinis, sed humore sanguinis alitur, ut lumen oleo. De Opif. Dei. §. 17.
apprehend the words to signify, that blood, simply, is life; because blood is material, and life is of an æthereal and spiritual nature: but that the blood is the receptaculum and conduit of all those animal spirits, which form, “not only the soul itself (as bishop Berkeley expresses it,) but the interior tunicle of the soul, the aurai simplicis ignem, or (as he afterwards calls it) the immediate vehicle of the soul.”. Now, we know that the semen of all animals is a wonderful composition of their blood, and intended for the increase of their several species. If life, then, be in the blood, we are sure, by its effects, it is also in the semen made from it.f But blood is not life, nor yet is the semen life: the one, at most, is but the residence, as the other is only the vehicle, of that superior and spiritual principle. Upon this delicates
Siris, §. 204. † SENNERTUS, the learned physician, attempted much
ards the investigation of this abstruse subject. I take the following quotation of his sentiments from one of his own profession: Posuit (viz. Sennertus] pro fundamento, omnium animalium semen, virtute benedictionis divinæ, esse animatum, i, e, eadem impregnatum anima, quæ futuræ proli inest : hincque vel animam hominis rationalem (cunctorum quæ creata sunt ens nobilissimum, ac divini particeps consilii) in semine ejus præsentem esse, non veritus est asserere; itemque animam pulli in ovo delitescere; animamque una cum semine in uterum genitricis transmitti; atque er isto utriusque serus semine (ut flamma flammæ ) conjuncto, animaque prædito, perfectum animal emergere.
Dr. Charlton, after opposing this opinion of Sennertus, explains his own; which is, that the soul is not infused from God; and that the fætus, neither in body nor soul, constituitur er semine, ccu principio materiali, but both are produced by the power of God, in an inscrutable way, as in the generation of vegetables or other animals.—Tunc, de semine quæratur, Cui bono? And, how became either body or soul affected with evil? Oecon anim. p. 284.
subject, I had rather use other words than my own. “ It is probable (says Mr. Parkhurst,) that, in the generation of animals, the male and female seed are really, though in an unknown manner, mixed, and both together contribute to the production of the fætus, which, from the time of conception, gradually dilates and expands, till it bursts its prison, and afterwards comes to the proper size of the species. This account of animal generation is, I apprehend, as far as it goes, perfectly agreeable to the scriptures; where we find the descendants of a woman called her seed, as well as those of a man called his seed.” If the animal life can be thus transfused, who will venture to say, that the intellectual soul, which resides in it, may not be transmitted at the same time; especially as this psychogenesis, or generation of spirit, removes the difficulty of our original corruption, not only of body, but of mind; and facilitates our understanding those passages of scripture, which relate to our own existence, or the existence of others, in ages before we were born? See Rom. ix. II, &c. 1 Cor. xv. 29. Heb. vii. 9, 10.
But “it is not imaginable (says Mr. Flavel) how & soul should be produced out of matter, which is not endued with reason; or how a bodily substance can impart that to another, which it hath not itself.” From what hath been said, perhaps, this objection is removed ; for it is not pretended, that matter produces soul, which is not of its own essence. But animated matter may generate animated matter; or soul and body, semel et simul, may procreate soul and body, according to God's arrangement in all other things. “ If it be said (Mr. Fluvel urges) that the soul of the child proceeds from the soul of the parents; that cannot be; for spiritual substances are impartible, and nothing can be exscinded from them. And it is absurd (he goes on, quoting the passage from Zanchius) to think the soul of Adam should spring from one original, and the souls of all his offspring from another, whilst both his and their's are of one and the same nature and species.” The first sentence begs the question. If it can be proved, that the generation of the soul cannot be ; there would be an end of the controversy : and the same with respect to the impartibility of spirit. But who can determine this so positively? The propagation of flame from flame is carried on without any diminution of the original fire; but the mode of this action is not easily to be explained, if at all: and, if matter itself can increase with so much subtilty, as eludes all investigation; shall we deny the possibility of this in a transcendent and more rarefied nature? We may, therefore, say, and perhaps without i presumption, that, with respect to the supposed indivisibility, or rather eduction, of spirit, as no human mind can conceive or explain how the part of 'one animal substance becomes the whole of another, while the part carries no sort of resemblance to that whole, which notwithstanding is an indisputable fact; so it appears unreasonable to demand a clear explanation of the modus generandi in spirit, of whose properties we are abundantly more ignorant, while we are certain, that the kind of spirit in the generating animal is as much consimilar with that in the animal generated, as are the outward lineaments of their bodies. If body generated body without the energy of spirit';