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body ; this shall return to the earth out oF which it was formed , but the soul shall return to God who gave it ; that is , produced it in a different manner from the bod y * Eccles . xii . 7 . This is a manifest allusion to the history of Moses , ( Gen . i . and ii . ) in which he has preserved the most ancient Hebrew traditions , with which those of other Oriental nations appear to Have agreed in the main . They are related quite in the spirit of the old world ; but they shew greater truth and consistency than the traditional stories of
other nations . It is plain that , in the Bible , soul and body are distinguished continually as different substances ; and peculiar and distinguishing properties and actions are ascribed to them . This is in perfect accordance with the manner of thinking and speaking every where in the most ancient times : but it must not , therefore , be supposed that the Israelites of that age had the same ideas of the spirituality and immateriality of the human soul , which have prevailed in the later schools of philosophy . All antiquity , the Jews , the Greeks , and the less instructed nations , considered every thing which had the power of self-motion as animated by a spirit , and they conceived of this
spirit as a substance quite different from gross bodiy , yet like body ; or , as a subtle , corporeal substance like air ,, breath , ave / xo ? , spiritus . The doctrine of gross Materialism is so far from being supported by the language of the Scriptures , that it is directly opposed to it , since , according to this hypothesis , the soul has no proper subsistence , but is merely an accident of matter or of body . This was the opinion of the Sadducees among the Jews ; and Cicero mentions Diccearchus among the Greek philosophers , as denying altogether
the existence of the soul as a being distinct from the body . ( Tusc . vi . 10 . ) The same has been done among the moderns by Hobbes , Toland , de la Mettrie , by the Author of the System of Nature , and others . An English physician , Wm . Coward , made a very unsuccessful attempt , in * Thoughts on the Soul , ' ( London , 1704 , ) to reconcile the doctrine of gross Materialism with the Holy Scriptures . Also Priestley endeavoured in vain to place his notion of the soul on the ground of the Scriptures . It does however appear , from what has been said , that the late subtle Metaphysical theory of the
perfect spirituality and immateriality of the soul in the strictest philosophical sense cannot be proved from the Bible ; for the ancients had not precisely the same notion of a spirit as our Metaphysicians . Christian theologians would have done better , if they had not gone beyond the Bible , and had left a question whose object lies far out of our sphere , to be settled by Metaph ysicians . The doctrine of the immateriality of the . soul , in the strictest
philosophical sense , is far from being of such importance , in a religious view , as is commonly supposed . It is not fully demonstrated by all the philosophical arguments which have been produced ; and the doctrine of our immortality must not be built upon such uncertain ground . The most strenuous advocate of the soul's immateriality must grant that God is able to annihilate a spirit , though a purely simple substance . How , then , should he not be able to make immortal a substance which is not purely simple ?"
Religious Philosophy— -is much too shadowy and shapeless a creation to be fixed in a definition ; but it may be described . Mysterious as the poet's phantasm of death , like that , its office is destruction . It aims a deadly thrust , and *« no second stroke intends" at the whole body of science : but as every destruction prepares the way to a new formation , so the death of all science , ancient and modern , is to issue in the birth of a new philosophy . named religious , which is to spring quick , and in complete armour , out of the head or heart of Mysticism . This philosophy ia too lofty to be instructed by sense and the objects of sense . It regards experiment as the great instru-
Letters from Germany . 105
VOL .. V . - 1
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Feb. 2, 1831, page 105, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2594/page/33/