Theological Institutes

Part Second - Doctrines of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 2

ATTRIBUTES of God:[1] Unity, Spirituality.

The existence of a supreme Creator and First Cause of all things, himself uncaused, and independent, and therefore self existent, having been proved, the next question is, whether there exists more than one such Being, or, in other words, whether we are to ascribe to him an absolute unity or soleness. On this point the testimony of the Scriptures is express, and unequivocal "The Lord our God is ONE Lord," Deut vi, 4. "The Lord he is God; there is NONE ELSE beside him," Deut. iv, 35. "Thou art God ALONE," Psalm lxxxvi, 10. "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and there is none other God but ONE." Nor is this stated in Scripture, merely to exclude all other creators, governors, and deities, in connection with men, and the system of created things which we behold; but absolutely, so as to exclude the idea of the existence, any where, of more than one Divine nature.

Of this unity, the proper Scripture notion may be thus expressed. Some things are one by virtue of composition, but God hath no parts, nor is compounded; but is a pure simple Being. Some are one in kind, but admit many individuals of the same kind, as men, angels, and other creatures; but God is so one that there are no other gods, though there are other beings. Some things are so one, as that there exists no other of the same kind, as are one sun, one moon, one world, one heaven; yet there might have been more, if it had pleased God so to will it. But God is so one, that there is not, there cannot be, another GOD. He is one only, and takes up the Deity so fully, as to admit no fellow. (Lawson's Theo-Politica.)

The proof of this important doctrine from Scripture is short and simple. We have undoubted proofs of a revelation from the Maker and Governor of this present world. Granting him to be wise and good, "it is impossible that God should lie," and his own testimony assigns to him an exclusive Deity. If we admit the authority of the Scriptures, we admit a Deity; if we admit one God, we exclude all others. The truth of Scripture, resting as we have seen on proofs which cannot be resisted without universal skepticism, and universal skepticism being proved to be impossible b the common conduct of even the most skeptical men, the proof of the Divine unity rests precisely on the same basis, and is sustained by the same certain evidence.

On this as on the former point however there is much rational confirmation, to which revelation has given us the key; though without that, and even in its strongest form, it may be concluded from the prevalence of polytheism among the generality of nations, and of dualism among others, that the human mind would have had but too indistinct a view of this kind of evidence to rest in a conclusion so necessary to true religion and to settled rules of morals.

To prove the unity of God several arguments a priori have been made use of; to which mode of proof, provided the argument itself be logical, no objection lies. For though it appears absurd to attempt to prove a priori the existence of a first cause, seeing that nothing can either in order of time or order of nature be prior to him, or be con­ceived prior to him; yet the existence of an independent and self-existent cause of all things being made known to us by revelation, and con­firmed by the phenomena of actual and dependent existence, a ground is laid for considering, from this fact, which is antecedent in order of nature, though not in order of time, the consequent attributes with which such a Being must be invested.

Among the arguments this class to prove the Divine unity, the following are the principal Dr. S. Clarke argues from his view of the necessary existence of the Divine Being :-" Necessity," he observes, "absolute in itself, is simple and uniform, and universal, without any possible difference, difformity, or variety whatsoever; and all variety or difference of existence must needs arise from some external cause, and be dependent upon it." And again: "To suppose two or more distinct beings existing of themselves necessarily, and independent of each other, implies this contradiction, that each of them being independent of each other, they may either of them he supposed to exist alone, so that it will be no contradiction to suppose the other not to exist, and consequently neither of them will be necessarily existing." (Demonstration, Prop. 7.) These arguments being however wholly founded upon that peculiar notion of necessary existence, which is advocated by the author, derive their whole authority from the principle itself, to which some objections have been offered.

The argument from space must share the same fate. If space be an infinite attribute of an infinite substance, and an essential attribute of Deity, then the existence of one infinite substance, and one only, may probably be argued from the existence of this infinite property; but if space be a mere negation, and neither substance nor attribute, which has been sufficiently proved by the writers before referred to, then it is worth nothing as a proof of the unity of God.

Wollaston argues, that if two or more independent beings exist, their natures must be tile same or different; if different, either contrary or various. If contrary, each must destroy the operations of the other; it various, one must have what the other wants, and both cannot be perfect. If their nature be perfectly the same, then they would coincide, and indeed be but one, though called two. (Religion of Nature.)

Bishop Wilkins says, if God be an infinitely perfect being, it is impossible to imagine two such beings at the same time, because they must have several perfections or the same. if the former, neither of them can be God, because neither of them has all possible perfections.. Lf they have both equal perfections, neither of them can be absolutely perfect, because it is not so great to have the same equal perfections in common with another, as to be superior to all others. (Principles of Natural Religion.)

"The nature of God," says Bishop Pearson, "consists in this, that he is the prime and original cause of all things, as an independent being, upon whom all things else depend, and likewise the ultimate end or final cause of all; but in this sense, two prime causes are unima­ginable, and for all things to depend on one, and yet for there to be more independent beings than one, is a clear contradiction." (Exposition of the Cred.) - The best argument of this kind is however that which arises from absolute perfection, the idea of which forces itself upon our minds, when we reflect upon the nature of a self-existent and independent Being. Such a being there is, as is sufficiently proved from the existence of beings dependent and derived; and it is impossible to admit that without concluding, that he who is independent and underived, who subsists wholly and only of himself without depending on any other, must owe this absoluteness to so peculiar an excellency of its own nature as we cannot well conceive to be less than that by which it comprehends in itself the most boundless and unlimited fulness of being, life, power, Or whatsoever can be conceived under the name of a perfection. "To such a being infinity may be justly ascribed; and infinity, not extrin­sically considered with respect to time and place, but intrinsically, as imparting bottomless profundity of essence, and the full confluence of all kinds and degrees of perfection without bound or limit." (HOWE'S Living Temple.) "Limitation is the effect of some superior cause, which, in the present instance, there cannot be: consequently, to sup­pose limits where there can be no limiter, is to suppose an effect with­out a cause. For a being to be limited or deficient in any respect, is to be dependent in that respect on some other being which gave it just so much and no more; consequently that being which in no respect depends upon any other, is in no respect limited or deficient. In all beings capable of increase or diminution, and consequently incapable of perfection or absolute infinity, limitation or defect is indeed a necessary consequence of existence, and is only a negation of that perfection which is wholly incompatible with their nature; and therefore in these beings it requires no farther cause. But in a being naturally capable of perfection or absolute infinity, all imperfection or finiteness, as it cannot flow from the nature of that being, seems to require some ground or reason; which reason, as it is foreign from the being itself, must be the effect of some other external cause, and consequently cannot have place in the first cause. That the self-existent [icing is capable of per­fection or absolute infinity must be granted, because he is manifestly the subject of one infinite or perfect attribute, namely, eternity or absolute invariable existence. In this respect his existence is perfect, and there­fore it may he perfect in every other respect also. Now that which is the subject of one infinite attribute or perfection, must have all its attri­butes infinitely or in perfection; since to have any perfections in a finite limited manner, when tile subject and these perfections are both capable of strict infinity, would be the fore mentioned absurdity of positive limitation without a cause. To suppose this eternal amid independent Being limited in or by ifs own nature, is to suppose some ante­cedent nature or limiting quality superior to that being, to tile existence of which no thing, no quality, is in any respect antecedent or superior. The same method of reasoning will prove knowledge and every other perfection to be infinite in the Deity, when once we have proved that perfection to belong to him at all; at least it will show, that to suppose it limited is unreasonable, since we can find no manner of ground for limitation in any respect; and this is as far as we need go, or perhaps as natural light will lead us." (Dr. GLEIG.)

The connection between the steps of the argument from the self existence and infinity of the Deity to his unity, may be thus traced. There is actually existing an absolute, entire fulness of wisdom, power. and of all other perfection. This absolute entire fulness of perfection is infinite. This infinite perfection must have its seat somewhere. Its primary original seat can be nowhere but in necessary self-subsisting being. When we suppose a plurality of self-originate beings concurring to make up the seat or subject of this infinite perfection, each one must either be of finite and partial perfection, or infinite and absolute. Infinite and absolute it cannot be, because one self-originate, infinitely and absolutely perfect being will necessarily comprehend all perfection, and leave nothing to the rest. Nor finite, because many finites can never make one infinite; nor many broken parcels or fragments of perfection ever make infinite and absolute perfection, even though their number, if that Were possible, were infinite.

To these arguments from the Divine nature, proofs of his unity are to be drawn from his works. While we have no revelation of or from any other being than from him whom we worship as GOD; So the frame and constitution of nature present us with a harmony and order which show, that their Creator and Preserver is but one. We see but one will and one intelligence, and therefore there is but one Being. The light of this truth must have been greatly obscured to heathens, who knew not how to account for the admixture of good and evil which are in the world, and many of them therefore supposed both a good and an evil deity. To us, however, who know how to account for this fact from the relation in which moan stands to the moral government of an offended Deity, and the connection of this present state with another; and that it is to man a state of correction and discipline; not only is this difficulty removed, but additional proof is afforded, that the Creator and the Ruler of the world is but one Being. If two independent beings of equal power concurred to make the world, the good amid the evil would be equal; but the good predominates.-Between the good and the evil there could also be no harmony or connection; but we plainly see evil subjected to the purposes of benevolence, and so to accord with it, which at once removes the objection.      

"Of the unity of the Deity," says Paley, "the proof is the uniformity of plan observable in the universe. The universe itself is a system; each part either depending upon other parts, or being connected with other parts by some common law of motion, or by the presence of some common substance. One principle of gravitation causes a stone to drop toward the earth, and the moon to wheel round it. One law of attraction carries all the different planets about the sun. This, philosophers demonstrate. There are also other points of agreement among them, which may be considered as marks of the identity of their origin, and of their intelligent author. In all are found the conveniency and stability derived from gravitation. They all experience vicissitudes of days and nights, and changes of season. They all, at least Jupiter, Mars, and Venus, have the same advantages from their atmospheres as we have. in all the planets, the axes of rotation are permanent. Nothing is more probable than that the same attracting influence, acting according to the same rule, reaches to time fixed stars; but if this be only probable, another thing is certain, namely, that time same element of light does. The light from a fixed star affects our eyes in the same manner, is refracted and reflected according to the same laws, as the light of a candle. The velocity of the light of the fixed stars is also the same, as the velocity of the light of the sun, reflected from the satellites of Jupiter. The heat of the sun, in kind, differs nothing from the heat of a coal fire.

"In our own globe the case is clearer. New countries are continually discovered, but the old laws of nature are always found in them; new plants, perhaps, or animals, but always in company with plants and animals which we already know; and always possessing many of the same general properties. We never get among such original or totally different modes of existence, as to indicate that we are come into the province of a different Creator, or under the direction of a different will. in truth, the same order of things attends us wherever we go. The elements act upon one another, electricity operates, the tides rise and fall, the magnetic needle elects its position in one region of the earth and sea as well as in another. One atmosphere invests all parts of the globe, and connects all; one sun illuminates; one moon exerts its specific attraction upon all parts. If there be a variety in natural effects, as, for example, in the tides of different seas, that very variety is the result of the same cause, acting under different circumstances. In many cases this is proved; in all, is probable.

"The inspection and comparison of living forms add to this argument examples without number. Of all large terrestrial animals, the struc­ture is very much alike; their senses nearly the same; their natural functions and passions nearly the same; their viscera nearly the same, both in substance, shape, and office; digestion, nutrition, circulation, secretion, go on, in a similar manner, in all; the great circulating fluid is the same; for I think no difference has been discovered in the properties of blood from whatever animal it be drawn. The experiment of transfusion proves that the blood of one animal will serve for another. The skeletons also of the larger terrestrial animals show particular varieties, but still under a great general affinity. The resemblance is somewhat less, yet sufficiently evident, between quadrupeds and birds. They are all alike in five respects, for one in which they differ.

"In fish, which belong to another department, as it were, of nature. the points of comparison become fewer. But we never lose sight of our analogy; e. g. we still meet with a stomach, a liver, a spine; with bile and blood; with teeth; with eyes, which eyes are only slightly varied from our own, and which variation, in truth demonstrates, not an interruption, but a continuance of the same exquisite plan; for it is the adaptation of the organ to the element, namely, to the different refrac­tion of light passing into the eye out of a denser medium. The pro­vinces, also, themselves of water and earth, are connected by the species of animals which inhabit both; and also by a large tribe of aquatic ani­mals, which closely resemble the terrestrial in their internal structure [mean the cetaceous tribe which have hot blood, respiring lungs, bowels, and other essential parts, like those of land animals. This similitude surely bespeaks the same creation, and the same Creator.

"Insects and shell fish appear to me to differ from other classes of animals the most widely of any. Yet even here, beside many points ot particular resemblance, there exists a general relation of a peculiar kind. It is the relation of inversion; the law of contrariety: namely, that whereas in other animals, the bones to which the muscles are attached lie within the body; in insects and shell fish they lie on the outside of it. The shell of a lobster performs to time animal the office of a bone, by furnishing to the tendons that fixed basis or immovable fulcrum, with. out which mechanically they could not act. The crust of an insect is its shell, and answers time like purpose. The shell also of an oyster stands in the place of a bone; the basis of the muscles being fixed to it, in time same manner as, in other animals, they are fixed to the bones All which (under wonderful varieties, indeed, and adaptations of form): confesses an imitation, a remembrance, a carrying on of the same plan." If in a large house, wherein are many mansions and a vast variety of inhabitants, there appears exact order, all from the highest to the lowest continually attending their proper business, and tell lodged and constantly provided for suitably to their several conditions, we find ourselves obliged to acknowledge one wise economy; and if in a great city or commonwealth there is a perfectly regular administration, so that not only the whole society enjoys an undisturbed peace, but every member has a station assigned him which he is best qualified to fill, the unenvied chiefs constantly attending their more important cares, served by the busy inferiors, who have all a suitable accommodation, and food convenient or them, the very meanest ministering to the public utility, and protected by the public care ;-if, I say, in such a community we must conclude there is a ruling counsel, which if not naturally yet is politically one, and unless united, could not produce such harmony and order; much more have we reason to recognize one governing Intelligence in the earth, in which there are so many ranks of beings disposed of in time most convenient manner, having all their several provinces appointed to them, and their several kinds and degrees of enjoyment liberally provided for, without encroaching upon, but rather being mutually useful to each other, according to a settled and obvious subordination. What else can account for this but a sovereign wisdom, a common provident nature presiding over, and caring for the whole? (Aberneihy's sermons.)

The importance of the doctrine of the Divine unity is obvious. The existence of one God is the basis of all true religion. Polytheism con­founds and unsettles all moral distinction, divides and destroys obligation, and takes away all sure trust and hope from man. There is one God who created us; we are therefore his property, and bound to him by an absolute obligation of obedience. He is the sole Ruler of the world, and his one immutable will constitutes time one immutable law of our actions, and thus questions of morality are settled on permanent foundations. lo him alone we owe repentance, and confession of sin; to one Being alone we are directed to look for pardon, in the method he has appointed; and if he be at peace with us, we need fear the wrath of no other, for ho is supreme: we arc not at a loss among a crowd of supposed deities, to which of them we shall turn in trouble; he alone receives prayer, and he is the sole and sufficient object of trust. When we know HIM, we know a Being of absolute perfection, amid need no other friend or refuge.

Among the discoveries made to us by Divine revelation, we find not only declarations of the existence and unity of God, but of his nature or substance, which is plainly affirmed to be spiritual; "God is a Spirit." The sense of the Scriptures in this respect cannot be mistaken. Innu­merable passages and allusions in them show, that the terms spirit and body, or matter, are used in the popular sense for substances of a perfectly distinct kind, and which are manifested by distinct and in many respects opposite and incommunicable properties: that time former only can perceive, think, reason, will, and act; that the latter is passive, inpercipient, divisible, and corruptible. Under these views, and in this popular language, God is spoken of in Holy Writ. He is spirit, not body; mind, not matter, lie is pure spirit, unconnected even with bodily form or organs; "lime invisible God, whom no man hath seen nor can see," an immaterial, incorruptible, impassible substance, an immense mind or intelligence, self acting, self moving, wholly above the perception of bodily sense; free from the imperfections of matter, and all the infirmities of corporeal beings; far more excellent than any finite and created spirits, because their Creator, and therefore styled, 'the Father of spirits," and the God of the spirits of all flesh."

Such is the express testimony of Scripture as to the Divine nature. That tine distinction which it holds between matter and spirit should be denied or disregarsied by infidel philosophers, is not a matter of surprise, since it is easy and as consistent in them to materialize God as man. But that the attributes of spirit should have been ascribe d to matter by those who nevertheless profess to admit the authority of time Biblical revelation, as in the case of time modern Unitarians and some others, is an instance of singular inconsistency. It shows with what daring an unhallowed philosophy will pursue its speculations, and warrants the conclusion, that the Scriptures in such cases are not acknowledged upon their own proper principles, bait only so far as they are supposed to agree with, or not to oppose the philosophic system which such men may have adopted. For hesitate as they may, to deny the distinction between matter and spirit, is to deny the spirituality of God ; and to contradict the dis­tinction which, as to man, is constantly kept up in every part of the Bible, the distinction between flesh and spirit. To assert that consciousness, thought, volition, &c, are the results of organization, is to deny also what tine Scripture so expressly affirms, that the souls of men exist in a disembodied state: and that in this disembodied state, not only do they exist, but that they think and feel, and act without any diminution of their energy or capacity. Time immateriality of the Divine Being may therefore be considered as a point of great importance, not only as it affects our views of his nature and attributes; but because when once it is established that there exists a pure Spirit, living, intelligent, and invested with moral properties, the question of the immateriality of the human soul may be considered as almost settled. Those who deny that, must admit that the Deity is material; or if they start at this, they must, be convicted of the unphilosophical and absurd attempt to invest a substance allowed to be of an entirely different nature, the body of man, with those attributes of intelligence and volition which, in the case of the Divine Being, they have allowed to be the properties of pure, unembodied spirit. The propositions are totally inconsistent, for they who believe that God is wholly an immaterial, and that man is wholly a material being, admit that spirit is intelligent, and that matter is intelli­gent. They cannot then be of different essences, and if the premises be followed out to their legitimate conclusion, either that which thinks in man must be allowed to be spiritual, or a material Deity must follow. The whole truth of revelation, both as to God and his creature man, must be acknowledged, or the Atheism of Spinoza and Hobbes must be admitted.

The decision of Scripture on this point is not to be shaken by human reasoning, were it more plausible in its attempt to prove that matter is capable of originating thought, and that mind is a mere result of organization. The evidence from reason is however highly confirmatory of the absolute spirituality of the nature of God, and of the unthinking nature of matter.

If we allow a First Cause at all, we must allow that cause to be intel­ligent. This has already been proved, from the design and contrivance manifested in his works. The first argument for the spirituality of God is therefore drawn from his intelligence, and it rests upon this principle, that intelligence is not a property of matter.

With material substance we are largely acquainted; and as to the great mass of material bodies, we have the means of knowing that they are wholly unintelligent. This cannot be denied of every unorganized portion of matter. Its essential properties are found to be solidity, ex­tension, divisibility, mobility, passiveness, &c. In all its forms and mutations, from the granite rock to the yielding atmosphere and the rapid lightning, these essential properties are discovered; they take an infinite variety of accidental modes, but give no indication of intelligence, or approach to intelligence. If then to know be a property of matter, it is clearly not an essential property, inasmuch as it is agreed by all, that vast masses of this substance exist without this property, and it follows, that it must be an accidental one. This therefore would be the first absurdity into which those would be driven who suppose the Divine nature to be material, that as intelligence, if allowed to be a property of matter, is an accidental and not an essential property, on this theory it would be possible to conceive of the existence of a Deity without any intelligence at all. For take away any property from a subject which is not essential to it, and its essence still remains; and if intelligence, which in this view is but an accidental attribute of Deity, were annihi­lated, a Deity without perception, thought, or knowledge, would still re­main. So monstrous a conclusion shows, that if a God be at all allowed, the absolute spirituality of his nature must inevitably follow. For if we cannot suppose a Deity without intelligence, then do we admit intelli­gence to be one of his essential attributes; and, as it is easy for every one to observe that this is not an essential property of matter, the sub­stance to which it is essential cannot be material.

If the unthinking nature of unorganized matter furnishes an argument in favour of the spirituality of Deity, the attempt to prove from the fact of intelligence being found in connection with matter in an organized form, that intelligence, under certain modifications, is a pro­perty of matter, may from its fallacy be also made to yield its evidence in favour of the truth.

The position assumed is, that intelligence is the result of material organization. This at least is not true of every form of organized mat­ter. Of the unintelligent character of vegetables we have the same evidence as of the earth on which we tread. The organization there­fore which is assumed to be the cause of thought, is that which is found in animals; and to use the argument of Dr Priestley, "the powers of sensation, or perception, and thought, as belonging to man, not having been found but in conjunction with a certain organized system of matter, the conclusion is that they depend upon such a system." It need not now be urged, that constant connection does not imply necessary con­nection; and that sufficient reasons may be given to prove the connec­tion alleged to be accidental and arbitrary. It is sufficient in the first instance to deny this supposed constant connection between intellectual properties and systems of animal organization; and thus to take away entirely the foundation of the argument.

Man is to be considered in two states, that of life, and that of death. in one he thinks, and in the other he ceases to think; and yet for some time after death, in many cases, the organization of the human frame continues as perfect as before. All do not die of organic disease. Death by suffocation, and other causes, is often effected without any visible violence being done to the brain, or any other of the most deli­cate organs. This is a well established fact; for the most accurate ana­tomical observation is not able to discover, in such cases as we have re­ferred to, the slightest organic derangement. The machine has been stopped, but the machine itself has suffered no injury; and from the period of death to the time when the matter of the body begins to sub­mit to the laws of chemical decomposition, its organization is as perfect as during life. If an opponent replies, that organic violence must have been sustained, though it is indiscernible, he begs the question, and assumes that thought must depend upon organization, the very point in dispute. If more modest, lie says, that the organs may have suffered, he can give no proof of it; appearances are all against him. And if he argues from the phenomenon of the connection of thought with organization, grounding himself upon what is visible to observation only, the argument is completely repulsed by an appeal in like manner to the fact, that the organization of the animal frame can be often exhibited, visibly unimpaired by those causes which have produced death, and yet incapable of thought and intelligence. The conclusion therefore is, that mere organization cannot be the cause of intelligence, since it is plain, that precisely the same state of the organs shall often be found before and after death; and yet, without any violence having been done to them, in one moment man shall be actually intelligent, and in the next incapable of a thought. So far then from the connection between mental phenomena, and the arrangement of matter in the animal structure being "constant," the ground of the argument of Priestley and other materialists it is often visibly broken; for a perfect organization of the animal remains after perception has become extinct.

In support of this argument, we may urge the representations of Scripture, upon that class of materialists who have not proceeded to the full length of denying its authority. Adam was formed out of the dust of the earth, the organism of his frame was therefore complete, before he became "a living soul." God breathed into him "the breath of lives," and whatever different persons may understand by that inspiration it certainly was not an organizing operation. The man was first formed or organized, and then life was imparted. Before the animating breath was inspired, he was not intelligent, because he lived not; yet the organization was complete before either life or the power of perception was imparted; thought did not arise out of his organic structure, as an effect from its cause.

The doctrine that mere organization is the cause of percept ion, &c, being clearly untenable, we shall probably be told, that the subject sup­posed in the argument, is a living organized being. If so, then the proof that matter can think drawn from organization is given up, and another cause of the phenomenon of intelligence is introduced. This is life, and the argument will be considerably altered. It will no longer be. as we have before quoted it from Dr. Priestley, "that the powers of sensation or perception and thought, never having been found but in conjunction with a certain organized system of matter, the conclusion is that they depend upon such a system ;" but that these powers not hav­ing been found but in conjunction with animal they depend upon that as their cause.

What then is life, which is thus exhibited as the cause of intelligence, and as the proof that matter is capable of perception and thought? In its largest and commonly received sense, it is that inherent activity which distinguishes vegetable and animal bodies from the soils in which the former grow, and on which the latter tread. A vegetable is said to live, because it has motion within itself, and is capable of absorption, secretion, nutrition, growth, and the reproduction of its kind. With all this it exhibits no mental phenomena, no sensation, no consciousness, no volition, no reflection; in a word, it is utterly unintelligent. We have here a proof then as satisfactory as our argument from organization, that life, at least life of any kind, is not the cause of intelligence, for in ten thousand instances we see it existing in bodies to which it imparts no mental properties at all.

If then it be said that the life intended as the cause of intelligence is not vegetable, but animal life ë, the next step in the inquiry is, in what the life of an animal differs from that of a vegetable; and if we go into the camp of the enemy himself we shall find him laying it down, that to animals a double life belongs, the organic and the animal, the former of which animals, and even man, has only in common with the vegetable. One modification of life, says Bichat, (upon whose scheme our modem materialists have modelled their arguments,) is common to vegetables and animals, the other peculiar to the latter. "Compare together two individuals, one taken from each of these kingdoms: one exists only within itself; has no other relations to external objects than those of nutrition; is born, grows, and perishes, attached to the soil which re­ceived its germ. The other joins to this internal life, which it possesses in a still higher degree, an external life, which establishes numerous relations between it and the neighbouring objects, unites its existence to that of other beings, and draws it near to, or removes it from them, ac­cording to its wants and fears." (Recherches sur la vie et la mort.) This is only in other words to say, that there is one kind of life in man, which, as in the vegetable, is the cause of growth, circulation, assimilation, nutrition, excretion, and similar functions; and another on which depend sensation, the passions. will, memory, and other attributes which we attribute to spirit. We have gained then by this distinction another Step in the argument. There is a life common to animals and to vegetables. Whether this be simple mechanism or something more, matters nothing to time conclusion; it confers neither sensation, nor volition, nor reason. That life in men, and in the inferior animals, which is common to them and to vegetables, called, by Bichat and his followers, organic life, is evidently not the cause of intelligence.

What then is that higher species of life called animal life, on which we are told our mental powers depend? And here the French materialist, whose notions have been so readily adopted into our own schools of physiology, shall speak for himself. "The functions of the animal form two distinct classes. One of these consists of an habitual succession of assimilation and concretion, by which it is constantly transforming into its own substance the particles of other bodies, and then rejecting them when they have become useless. By the other he perceives surrounding objects; reflects on his sensations, performs voluntary motions under their influence, and generally communicates, by the voice, his pleasures or pains; his desires or fears." "The assembled functions of the second class form the animal life."

This strange definition of life has been adopted by Lawrence, and other disciples of the French school of materialism; but its absurdity as a definition is obvious, and could only have been adopted as a veil of words to hide a conclusion fatal to the favourite system. So far from being a definition of life, it is no more than a description of the "functions" of a vital principle or power, whatever that power or principle may be. Function is a manner in which any power developes itself, or as Lawrence, the disciple of Bichat, has properly expressed it, "a mode of action ;" and to say that an assemblage of the modes in which any thing acts, is that which acts, or "forms" that which acts, is the greatest possible trifling and folly.

But Richat is not the only one of modern materialists who refuse honestly to pursue the inquiry, "what is life 1" when even affecting to describe or defend it. Cuvier, another great authority in the same school, at one time says, that be life what it may, it cannot be what the vulgar suppose it, a particular principle. (Principe particulier.) In ano­ther place he acknowledges that life can proceed only from life. (La vie naIt que de Ia vie.) Then again he considers it an internal principle; (un principe inerieur d'entretien et de reparation;) and last of all says, what Mr. Lawrence has since repeated verbatim, that life consists in the sum total of all the functions. (II consiste dans l'ensemble des functions qui servent a nourir he corps, c'est a dire ha digestion, l'absorption, Ia circulation, &c.) Thus he makes life a cause which owes its existence to its own operations, and consequently a cause which, had it not ope­rated to produce itself, had never operated nor existed at all! (Vide Medical Review, Sept. 1822, Art. 1.) "It is truly pitiful," says a physiologist of other opinions, "to think of a man with so many endowments, natural and acquired, driven as if blindfold by the fashion of the times, a contemptible vanity, or some wretched inclination, endeavouring to support with all his energy the extravagant idea that the phenomena of design and intelligence displayed in the form and structure of his species might have been the effects of some impulse or motion, or of some group of functions, as digestion, circulation, respiration, &c, which have accidentally happened to meet without any assignable cause to bring them together, to hold them together, or to direct them." (Dr Barclay on Life and Organization.)

These and many other examples are in proof, that the cause of vital properties cannot, we do not say be explained, but cannot even be indicated on the material system; and we are no nearer, for any thing which these physiologists say, to any satisfactory account of that life which is peculiar to animals, and which has been distinguished from the organic life that is common to them and to vegetables. It is not the result of organization, for that "is no living principle, no active cause." "An organ is an instrument. Organization therefore is nothing more than a system of parts so constructed and arranged as to co-operate to one common purpose. It is an arrangement of instruments, and there must be something beyond to bring these instruments into action." (Ren­nell's Remarks on Skepticism.) If life cannot therefore be organization or the effect of it, it is not that inherent, mechanical, and chemical mo­tion which is called life in vegetables, and which the physiologists have decided to be the same kind of life which they call organic in animals; for even the materialist acknowledges that to be a different species of life in animals, on which sensation, volition, and passion depend. What then is it? It is not a material substance; in that all agree. It is not the material effect of the material cause, organization; that has been shown to be absurd. It is not that mechanical and chemical inherent motion which performs so many functions in vegetables and in animals, so far as they have it in common with them; for no sensation or other mental phenomena are allowed to result from these. It is therefore plainly no material cause and no effect of matter at all; for no other hypothesis remains but that which places its source in aim immaterial sub­ject, operating upon and by material organs. For, to quote from a writer just mentioned, "that there is some invisible agent in every living organized system, seems to be an inference to which we are led almost irresistibly. When we see an animal starting from its sleep, contrary to the known laws of gravitation, without an external or elastic impulse, without the appearance of electricity, galvanism, magnetism, or chemical attraction: when we see it afterward moving its limbs in various direc­tions, with different degrees of force and velocity, sometimes suspending and sometimes renewing the same motions, at the sound of a word or the sight of a shadow, can we refrain a moment from thinking that the cause of these phenomena is internal, that it is something different from the body, and that the several bodily organs are nothing more than the mere instruments which it employs in its operations? Not instruments indeed that can be manufactured, purchased, or exchanged, or that can at pleasure be varied in form, position, number, proportion, or magnitude; not instruments whose motions are dependent upon an external impulse, on gravity, elasticity, magnetism, galvanism, on electricity or chemical attraction; but instruments of a peculiar nature, instruments that grow, that are moved by the will, and which can be regulated and kept in repair by no agent but the one for which they were primarily destined; instruments so closely related to that agent, that they cannot be injured, handled or breathed Upon, approached by cold, by wind, by rain, without exciting in it certain sensations of pleasure or of pain; sensations which, if either unusual or excessive, are generally accompanied with joy or grief, hopes or alarms: instruments, in short, that exert so constant and powerful reaction on the agent that employs them, that they modify almost every phenomenon which it exhibits, and to such an extent, that no person can confidently say what would be the effect of its energies if deprived of instruments; or what would be the effect of its energies if furnished with instruments of a different species, or if furnished with instruments of different materials, less dependent on external circumstances, and less subject to the Jaws of gross and inert matter." (Barclay on Idfr and Organization.)

Life, then, whether organic or animal, is not the cause of intelligence, and thus all true reasoning upon these phenomena brings us to the philosophy of the Scriptures, that the presence of an immaterial soul with the body, is the source of animal life; and that the separation of the soul from the body is that circumstance which causes death.[2] Farther proofs however are not wanting, that matter is incapable of thought, and that its various qualities are inconsistent with mental phenomena.

"Extension is a universal quality of matter; being that cohesion and continuity of its parts by which a body occupies space. The idea of extension is gained by our external senses of sight and of touch. But thought is neither visible nor tangible, it occupies no external space, it has no contiguous or cohering parts. A mind enlarged by education and science, a memory stored with the richest treasures of varied knowledge, occupies no more space than that of the meanest and most illite­rate rustic.

"In body again we find a viz inertiae, that is, a certain quality by which it resists any change in its present state. We know by experiment, that a body, when it has received an impulse, will persevere in a direct course and a uniform velocity, until its motion shall be either dis­turbed or retarded by some external power; and again, that, being at rest, it will remain so for ever, unless motion shall have been communi­cated to it from without. Since matter therefore necessarily resists all change of its present state, its motion and its rest are purely passive; spontaneous motion, therefore, must have some other origin. Nor is this spontaneous motion to be attributed to the simple powers of life, for we have seen that in the life of vegetation there is no spontaneous motion; the plant has no power either to remove itself out of the position in which it is fixed, or even to accelerate or retard the motion which takes place within it. Nor has man himself, in a sleep perfectly sound, the power of locomotion any more than a plant, nor any command over the various active processes which are going on within his own body. But when he is awake, he will rise from his resting place-if mere mat­ter, whether living or dead were concerned, he would have remained there like a plant or a stone forever. He will walk forward-he will change his course-he will stop. Can matter, even though endowed with the life of vegetation, perform any such acts as these? Here is motion fairly begun without any external impulse, and stopped without any external obstacle. The activity of a plant, on the contrary, is nei­ther spontaneous nor locomotive; it is derived in regular succession from parent substances, and it can be stopped only by external obstacles, such as the disturbance of the organization. A mass even of living mat­ter requires something beyond its own powers to overcome the viz inertiae which still distinguishes it, and to produce active and spontaneous motion.

"Hardness and impenetrability are qualities of matter; but no one of common sense, without a very palpable metaphor, could ever consider them as the properties of thought.

"There is another property of matter, which is, if possible, still more inconsistent with thought than any of the former, I mean its divisibility. Let us take any material substance, the brain, the heart, or any other body; which we would have endowed with thought, and inquire of what is this substance composed. It is the aggregate of an indefinite number of separable and separate parts. Now the experience of what passes within our minds will inform us, that unity is essential to a thinking being. That consciousness which establishes the one individual being, which every man knows himself to be, cannot, without a contradiction in terms, be separated, or divided. No man can think in two separate places at the same time: nor, again, is his consciousness made up of a number of separate consciousnesses; as the solidity, the colour, and motion of time whole body is made up of the distinct solidities, colours, and motions of its parts. As a thinking and a conscious being, then, man must be essentially one. As a partaker of the life, of vegetation he is separable into ten thousand different parts. If then it is the brain of a man which is conscious and thinks, his consciousness and thought must be made up of as many separate parts as there are particles in its material substance, which is contrary to common sense and experience. Whatever, therefore, our thought may be, or in whatever it may reside, it is essentially indivisible; and, therefore, wholly inconsistent with the divisibility of a material substance.

"From every quality, therefore, of matter, with which we are acquainted, we shall be warranted in concluding, that without a contra. diction in terms, it cannot be pronounced capable of thought. A thinking substance may be combined with a stone, a tree, or an animal body; but not one of the three can of itself become a thinking being." (Rennell on skepticism.)

"The notions we annex to the words, MATTER and MIND, as is well remarked by Dr. Reid, are merely relative., If I am asked, what I mean by matter? I can only explain myself by saying, it is that which is extended, figured, coloured, movable, hard or soft, rough or smooth, hot or cold ;-that is, I can define it in no other way than by enumerating its sensible qualities. It is not matter or body which I perceive by my senses; but only extension, figure, colour, and certain other qualities, which the constitution of my nature leads me to refer to something which is extended, figured, and coloured. The case is precisely similar with respect to mind. We are not immediately conscious of its existence, but we are conscious of sensation, thought, and volition; operations which imply the existence of something which feels, thinks, and wills. Every man too is impressed with an irresistible conviction, that all these sensations, thoughts, and volitions, belong to one and the same being; to that being, which he calls himself; a being which he is led, by the constitution of his nature, to consider as something distinct from his body, and as not liable to be impaired by the loss or mutilation of any of his organs.

"From these considerations, it appears that we have the same evi­dence for the existence of mind, that we have for the existence of body; nay, if there be any difference between the two cases, that we have stronger evidence for it; inasmuch as the one is suggested to us by the subjects of our own consciousness, and the other merely by the objects of our perceptions." (Stewart's Essays.)

Farther observations on the immateriality of the human soul will be adduced in their proper place. The reason why the preceding argument on this subject has been here introduced, is not only that the spirituality of the Divine nature might be established by proving that intelligence is not a material attribute; but to keep in view the connection between the spirituality of God, and that of man, who was made in his image; and to show the relation which also exists between the doctrine of the materialism of the human soul, and absolute Atheism, and thus to hold out a warning against such speculations. There is no middle course in fact, though one may be effected. If we materialize man, we must ma­terialize God, or, in other words, 'deny a First Cause, one of whose essential attributes is intelligence. It is then of little consequence what scheme of Atheism is adopted. On the other hand, if we allow spirituality to God, it follows as a necessary corollary, that we must allow it to man. These doctrines stand or fall together.

On a subject which arises out of the foregoing discussion, a single observation will be sufficient. It is granted that, on the premises laid down, not only must an immaterial principle be allowed to man, but to all animals possessed of volition; and few, perhaps none, are found without this property. But though this has often been urged as an objection, it can cost the believer in revelation nothing to admit it. it strengthens, and does not weaken his argument; and it is perfectly in accordance with Scripture, which speaks of "the soul of a beast," as well as of "the soul of man." Vastly, nay, we might say, infinitely different are they in the class and degree of their powers, though of the same spiritual essence; but they have both properties which cannot be attributed to matter. It does not, however, follow that they are immortal, because they are immaterial. The truth is, that God only hath inde­pendent immorality, because he only is self-existent, and neither human nor brute souls are of necessity immortal. God hath given this privilege to man, not by a necessity of nature, which would be incompatible with dependence, but by his own will, and the continuance of his sustaining power. But he seems to have denied it to the inferior animals, and ac­cording to the language of Scripture, "the spirit of a beast goeth down­ward." The doctrine of the natural immortality of man, will, however, be considered in its proper place.


[1] "They are called attributes, because God attributes them to and affirms them of himself. Properties, because we conceive them proper to God, and such as can be predicated only of him, so that by them we distinguish him from all other beings. Perfections, because they are the several representations of that one perfection which is himself. Names and Terms, because they express and signify something of his essence. Notions, because they are so many apprehensions of his being as we conceive of him in our minds." (Lawson's Theo-Politica.)

[2] The celebrated Hunter, "in searching for the principle of life, on the sup position that it was something visible, fruitlessly enough looked for it in the blood, the chyle, the brain, the lungs, and other parts of the body; but not finding it in any of them exclusively, concluded that it must be a consequence of the union of the whole, and depend upon organism. But to this conclusion he could not tong adhere, after observing that the composition of matter does not give life; and that a dead body may have all the composition it ever had. Last of all, be drew the true, or at least the candid conclusion, that he knew nothing about the matter." (Medico~Chirurgical I?evirw, Sept. 1822.) This is the conclusion to which mere philosophy comes, and the only one at which it can arrive, till it stoops to believe that there is true philosophy in the Scriptures.