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means of their being brought into connection with diseased and dying bodies procreated from him? This we c annot do. If it be alléged, that the same objection can be urged against the idea of the soul's being created, after the formation of the body, in a pure state, and in that state being introduced into it, it may be replied, that much if not all, of the perplexity on this subject, arises out of the false assumption, that the soul itself is physically depraved, It will not be affirmed that the body, simply as a body, is in itself sinful; and if not, why must we suppose the soul as soul, or any modification of mere being whatever, to be so? Should we admit that the soul originates, like the body, according to some fixed law of God's providential agency; so that the father may be said to beget a son, in his own likeness, as truly in reference to the spiritual, as to the material part of his nature. If there be nothing sinful in simple created nature, the agency of God in the production of a human being, body and soul, though it is moraily certain, that the being will sin, does not make Him the author of sin. If simple created nature however, is sinful, then it does certainly follow that He is; which is a result so palpably erroneous, that we must promptly abandon every theory or supposition, from which it legitimately flows.
It is, perhaps, safest and best, in a question of this nature, to confine ourselves strictly to matters of fact, so far as accurate observation will teach us what they are. What then are the facts? The following cannot he denied; viz: that the human soul acquires all its knowledge, and acts, exclusively, through the intervention of its material vehicle, the body—that we are not conscious of any knowledge or recollections, derived from a previous state of ex-; istence, independent of our bodies—that there are certain susceptibilities of the human soul, which are in unison with
various animal affections, possessed by us, in common with irrational creatures—that the affections and actings of the human soul are displayed in the developments and growth of our animal bodies;—and that these affections have a powferul influence, and are, indeed, invariably, in some of their modifications, involved in the origination or production of sinful acts.
Further, when we trace back the growth of the human body, we find that it is impossible to determine the period at which it became a separate existence. For a long period, it existed in the body of its parent, yet was it capable of certain actings, distinct from those of its parent; although its existence was altogether dependent. Its growth, which, in a state of dependence, was gradual, and even its material organs, for the origination of thought and for those actings, requisite to accomplish purposes and obey volitions, were progressively developed. “My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
There is here distinctly recognized the agency of God, as extending to the whole of man's being—not his body only, but also his immortal mind, in the production of both which, God is explicitly recognized by the Psalmist as being concerned.
“Thou hast possessed my reins,” says he, "and hast covered me in
my mother's womb.' The expression “reins” is most frequently employed in the Psalmist's writings, to denote the rational mind. “My reins instruct me in the night season." “The righteous God trieth the heart and the reins."4 As, therefore, the
1. Pslam cxxxix, 15—16. 3. Psalm xvi, 7.
2. Psalm cxxxix, 13. 4. Psalm vii, 9.
agency of God is extended alike to the production of both body and soul, and both are gradually developed in their actings, it is certainly not so evident, as to be assumed without dispute, that the human soul is created, instantaneously, by some insulated and immediate, or independent effort of divine power, and brought, with all its various capacities, into connexion with the human body.
The presumption, arising from analogy, is against this idea; whether we suppose that that effort of divine power, in creating the human soul, is simultaneous with conception, with quickening, or with the first inspiration.
· The process of the divine Being, in creating the first man, can afford no light here. Adam's body was at once moulded from the clay, into the perfect stature of a full grown man; with the entire development of all the organs requisite for animal action. And his soul in full possession of all its capacities, was also formed and communicated, simultaneously, with the very first inflating of his lungs, so that he came into being with all his animal, intellectual and moral powers, in a state of full development-with actual knowledge, righteousness and holiness; i. e. acting from the first with intelligence, conformably to the law of rectitude, and under the influence of benevolent emotions. This can be said of no other of the human family, save of Eve, “the mother of all living.” The fact therefore seems plain, ly to be, that, whatever agency God is pleased to exert in the production of human beings, it is according to some established law, ordained at the very creation of our first parents, which law remains unaltered by their fall, and which agency would have been exerted in the very same way, had they continued innocent.
The production of the human nature of the Son of God, was a departure from, and in opposition to the established law of procreation, and, consequently, being as perfectly miraculous as was the translation of Enoch and Elijah,
that they should not see death, the sacred scriptures have been very careful to let us know what was the mode of the divine agency in it, and by what proof the fact of its miraculous originalion has been established. Miracle upon miracle attested the extraordinary character of that child, which had been spontaneously conceived in the womb of Mary, and was brought forth by one, that expresed her own astonishment, saying, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man.
Now the agency of God, which is ordinarily exerted in the production of human beings, proceeds or is exerted upon this principle, universally characteristic of His government in this world, that, in the development of one being, there is originated another and a separate being, who, by regular process of growth shall exhibit essential resemblance, and that this development shall take place in the actual exercise of appropriate appetites and capacities. Throughout the whole of animal existence, the law obtains,
at the voluntary exercise of appetites and functions, on the part of the parents, leads to the evolution of an offspring, possessing the same constitutional, and acquiring the same characteristic properties.
We may discern some analogical illustrations of this, in those creatures, to which we do not attribute volition. So uniform is the agency of God, in the propagation of vegetative life-for the law of vegetative procreation is but another espression for the divine agency-that the horticulturist can, with unerring certainty, predict the properties of a fruit, the embryo of which he has taken care to impregnate. The seed or germ does not possess, in itself, any power, which has eficiency to cause its own developments. Some men talk about a vital principle in it; but they talk unintelligibly to us. All that we can venture to affirm,
1. Luke i, 34.
from an actual observation of facts, without introducing inferences, which may be false, is, that the seed is a modification of being, adapted to certain uses and intentions by the great Creator, and capable of being brought into a regular series of actions or motions, developing, under the influence of appropriate exciting causes, the constitutional, and acquiring the characterestic properties of the being, from which it has been evolved.' And we may trace the same great principle, even in inanimate nature. In chrystallization formations take place, according to a progressive agency of God, which are perfectly assimilated to the first productions of Almighty power, when the rock or mineral, to which class they belong, was instantaneously produced. And through the whole processes of ossification in the animal, and lignification in the vegetable kingdoms, we trace a similar agency of God, not instantaneously, but progressively exerted, in bringing into being, creatures assimilated to those from which they have been evolved.
Shall we then think it strange, that the great Creator should pursue the same plan of operation, in the produc
1. The vegetable physiologist can discern the different parts of the seed, which form, as it were, the basis of future actions and motions, and which, by germination, circulation, and other processes, may be developed in the tree, whose life, perchance, will form an aggregate of a thousand years. These are the corculum, or embryo, the cotyledones, albumen, plumula, rostellum or radicle, hilum, testa, &c. all of which are adapted, when acted on by the appropriate stimulus, or exciting causes, to those motions, through which the development takes place. A vital principle in these things, is a mere hy. pothesis. Observation shews, that in impregnated seeds, which are those we call living or vital—i. e. capable of evolution, the conculum is closely connected with the cotyledones, on which it depends for the first supplies of nutriment, while in unimpregnated seeds it is deficient or abortive, so that the relative position of the parts of a seed being appropriate, it is adapted to the purposes of development. This is all we mean in common parlance, when we call it a living seed. We designate it, merely as adapted to the purposes of development and growth-a general quality. We never say it lives, till the germinating process actually commences.