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attended it , iThe circumstances of the apostles required att honest and explicit declaration of the truth ; and far be it from us to imagine , that our . Saviour , in whose mouth was no guile , would have countenanced and established an error ;
that he would have sanctioned it by an express declaration , which his disciples would interpret agreeably to their own sentiments ; and that he would encourage their constancy in an arduous and perilous office to which he had appointed them , by a mere fallacy . If they had no
principle in their frame distinct from the body , subsisting by different laws , and of more permanent duration , to which the violence of their enemies could not extend , how could he caution them against fearing those who killed the body , but could not kill the soul ? If he knew that
the dissolution of their material frame inferred the destruction of the thinking principle , he must also know that those who destroyed the one destroyed the other ; and , upon this supposition , how can we vindicate his sincerity ? But allowing the difference between the soul
and body , his address was seasonable and animating . It needed no explanation . The apostles would interpret it according to the sentiments which they entertained on this subject . They would derive encouragement from it to meet persecution and death in the discharge of their office without distressing terror .
" It ought further to be considered , that there was at this time a sect among the Jews who denied the difference between the soul and body , and , conceiving the human frame to be altogether mate-Hal , they disbelieved the doctrine of a
tuture state . According to this system , the whole man perished at death , and mouldered in the grave ; and they entertained no hope of existence beyond the limits of mortality . If these Sadducees were right in their principle , but erroneous in their conclusion ; if these
premises were true , but the inference false ; have we not reason to imagine , that our Lord would have taught his disciples , and especially t&e commissioned teachers of his religion , properly to distinguish on this subject ? Can we suppose that he would have established , by an express declaration , an opinion directly contrary to
that of the Sadducees , or that he would nave used language which his hearers would understand as conveying sentiments opposite % o theips ? Would not the words of the text be cited , and fairly ^ ted , by that body of the Jews who believed that the human frame consisted f two distinct substances , as . evidence in tawir of their own doctrine , and in
contradiction to that of the Sadducees ? And if this doctrine had not ' -beea true * should notj pur Lord have guarded his disciples against misunderstanding and misapplying the language which he adopts ?
Should he not have directed them to espouse the principle of the Sadducees , that the soul and body of mail were equally material , but cautioned them against the conclusion , or the denial of a state of future existence ? Should he
not have instructed his apostles how to reason with this sect , distinguished by their wealth , rank and influence , and enabled them to reconcile a material system with the immortality of mankind ? But as no hint of this kind occurs ; as it does not appear that either our Lord or
his apostles , in any of their discourses with the Sadducees , admitted the truth of their premises , and controverted the inference which they deduced from them j as the contrary seems to have been the case in a passage to which we shall have occasion to refer , the popular opinion , of a real distinction between the soul and
body derives countenance and credibility , not only from the declaration of the text , but from the general tenour and tendency of our Saviour ' s doctrine . "—IV . 365—370 .
The passage alluded to in this last sentence is that in which our Lord infers the resurrection of the dead from the Lord being called the God of Abraham , Isaac and Jacob , seeing that he is not a God of the dead , but of the living . ( Luke xx . 37 , 38 . )
Bishop Bull * and his copyist in this instance , Dr . Jortin , f have with great plausibility asserted from this text the natural immortality of man ; but the argument from the text of Dr . Rees ' s Sermon is more direct , and as put by the Doctor himself appears to us
scarcely to admit of an answer ; unless indeed it be maintained that our Lord adopted the current prejudice of his countrymen without being pledged to its truth , —a supposition which involves consequences appalling to a serious Christian . On whichever side the balance of reason and evidence
inclines , there can be no doubt concerning the conclusion to which the feel-* Sermons , &c . Vol . I . pp . 66 , &c . t Sermons , Vol . II . pp . 369 , &c . Jor ~ tin acknowledges , ( p . 389 , ) that he has soniQ remarks from Bull , who bas indeed exhausted the ^ subject .
Review s ~ -Dr « Rees ' s Practical Sermons * 681
* oju . xvi . 4 T
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Nov. 2, 1821, page 681, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2506/page/49/