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not they also invisible? Let any man take the trouble to compare people's notions about ghosts now, with the quotations made in the next Section, and he will see they are for substance the same as held by the ancient heathen.
4th. But admitting the existence of ghosts, we are entirely at a loss to perceive, what valuable ends are gained by their visits to our world. To say, it is for the purpose of frightening people, is too trifling an object to impute to the Almighty. Well, does he intend the conversion of sinners from the evil of their ways? This cannot be, for our Lord declared men would not believe if one rose from the dead. Well, does he send them to communicate some part of his will not revealed in the Bible? If this can be proved, let them come, for this is a valuable end. But all know, that God has in time past communicated his will to men, by men of like passions with themselves. The silly, senseless business on which ghosts are said to visit the earth, is sufficient to explode such a heathen superstition, and make us ashamed that any man with a Bible in his hands should believe it. Their business generally has been, to tell the living who murdered them, where some treasure might be found, or adjust some worldly business not properly settled before they died. Very important business indeed for disembodied spirits to come from heaven or hell upon !
5th. It is very natural to ask, when ghosts come to our world, do they leave heaven or hell of their own accord, or are they expressly despatched by God on such occasions? If God sent them, we should think their business would be of much more importance than that generally assigned them. If they come of their own accord, then hell is not such a dreadful place of confinement as many preachers represent it; and unless damned souls carry their hell
about with them, such visits must afford them some relaxation of their misery. If they can leave hell at pleasure, few likely would stay there from choice, and when here, would protract their stay, yea, never return. Nor can we think heaven is so happy a place as many say it is, if souls leave it to come here, and especially on such trifling business. In short, if the supposed happiness or misery of souls in a future state, have any connexion with a hell of torment, and a heaven of happiness, we do not see how they can ever come here without these being diminished. They cannot be here and there both, unless we make them every-where-present ghosts.
6th. If a man allows himself to reason on the subject, he must either deny the common doctrine of ghosts, or believe one article in most orthodox creeds to be false. Most orthodox people say, hell is a prison to which wicked souls go at death, and from this prison there is no release. But this is not true, if ghosts come to our world and even converse with men. We presume our orthodox brethren are inclined to give up the former doctrine, for the doctrine of ghosts is fast falling into decay and confinement in hell for ever stands in high repute. It is obvious both doctrines cannot be true.
7th. The doctrine of witchcraft is now almost extinct, and the doctrine of the devil and satan is on the wane; but we see no good reason why the doctrine of ghosts should be retained, while they are rejected. So far as popular tradition can prove a doctrine true, we ought to receive them all as true. ghosts have been seen and conversed with, so has the devil; and the best attested ghost story, can bear no comparison to the accounts we have of witches and the wonders they have wrought. The piety, learning and respectability of the men who attest the Salem witchcraft, so much outweighs all the ev
idence for the doctrine of ghosts, it is as the dust of the balance when compared with it. Besides, witches are tangible beings, who can be hung, burned or drowned, but our Lord at least denies the tangibility of ghosts, Luke 34: 39.
8th. We do not reject the doctrine of ghosts, because we have never seen a ghost ourselves, for we believe we have seen as many of them as most people. When young, it was quite a common thing for us to see ghosts, and to be frightened at them, and with the senseless stories told of them. We reject the doctrine, because it has no foundation in the Bible, but is a relic of heathenism, as will be seen in the next Section. It will be readily perceived, that if my views are correct, not a wreck of this superstitious doctrine is left behind. No ghost or spirit of a dead man can appear after death, for no man has a spirit which exists to appear, hence from the very nature of the case the thing is impossible.
We have now finished our examination of all the texts where nesme, nephish, ruah, and pneuma occur, rendered soul and spirit in the common version. Such texts as are urged for the immortality of the soul, and its existence in a state of happiness or misery after death, we have particularly considered. If any text, of any importance has been overlooked, we should be happy to have it pointed out, for our object has been to examine the whole Scripture grounds for such opinions. Having stated our own views, we leave our readers to form theirs, receiving or rejecting what has been advanced as the evidence may appear to them.
On the various opinions which have been entertained respecting the nature of man's soul; its immortality; its condition after death; whence such opinions originated; and how they came to be incorporated with the Christian religion.
WE have seen from the preceding Sections, that the Bible does not teach the immortality of man's soul, its happiness, or misery in a disembodied state. Here our investigations might end. But curiosity has led us to inquire into the origin of such opinions. Let us
1st. Notice the opinions which have been entertained respecting the nature of man's soul. Concerning the nature of the soul Dr. Good, in his Book of Nature, thus writes, p. 360, "Is the essence of the human soul material or immaterial? The question, at first sight, appears to be highly important, and to involve nothing less than a belief or disbelief, not indeed in its divine origin, but in its divine similitude and immortality. Yet I may venture to affirm that there is no question which has been productive of so little satisfaction, or has laid a foundation for wider and wilder errors within the whole range of metaphysics. And for this plain and obvious reason, that we have no distinct idea of the terms, and no settled premises to build on." He adds, p. 367, "It is something more than matter, observes one class of philosophers, for matter itself is essentially unintelligent, and is utterly incapable of thought. But this is to speak with more confidence than we are warranted; and unbecomingly to limit the power of the Creator. On the other hand, it is as strongly contended by an opposite class of philosophers, and
the same train of arguments has been continued, almost without variation, from the days of Epicurus, that the principle of thought or the human mind must be material; for otherwise the frame of man, we are told, will be made to consist of two distinct and adverse essences, possessing no common prop
erty or harmony of action. But this is to speak with as unbecoming a confidence as in the former case." The Dr. p. 369, gives us the following theory in place of these: "The idea that the essence or texture of the soul consists either wholly or in part of spiritualized, etherial, gaseous, or radient matter, capable of combining with the grosser part of the body, and of becoming an object of sense, seems to avoid the difficulties inherent to both systems." It would be tedious to detail the endless speculations respecting the soul of man. On the subject of this whole Section, we refer the reader to Stanley's and Enfield's works respecting the philosophers, where many of these are detailed. See also Calmet on the word soul.
2d. Let us notice the opinions which have been entertained respecting the immortality of the soul. Mr. Stanley says the Egyptians were the first who asserted that the soul of man was immortal, and cites in proof Eusebius, Diodorus Siculus, and Halicarnassus. Other authors say it was done first by Pherecydes, the philosopher; and others that Pythagorus was the first inventor or asserter of that doctrine. Some say the Brachmans instructed him in it, as also the doctrines of rewards and punishments, in his travels to acquire knowledge.
For this purpose, it is said he travelled into Egypt, Phenicia, Chaidea, &c. and lived there twenty-two years, and that he was a disciple of Sanchedes, an Egyptian arch-priest. It is certain that one of the most eminent seats of learning began in Egypt, and