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viduals have not been deprived of mind, or even affected in their intellectual powers.
We do not mean that the whole brain has been destroyed in any one individual, intellectual life still remaining, but that a portion of the brain in one instance, and another portion of it in another instance, and so on till the aggregate would comprehend every organic portion. As an illustration, Dr. Abercrombie mentions the case of a lady, one entire half of whose brain was reduced to a mass of suppuration by disease; and yet she retained her faculties to the last, and had been enjoying herself at a convivial party only a few hours before her sudden death. A man is also mentioned by Dr. Fezrier, who died suddenly, retaining all his faculties till the very moment of dissolution; but, upon examining his head, the whole right hemisphere of the brain was found destroyed by suppuration.
Numerous examples might be brought forward from the mournful catalogue of human accidents and infirmities, but these are sufficient to show us, in the clear light of demonstration, that, though the brain and nervous system generally are the appointed organs through which the mind communicates with the material world, yet that mind possesses an existence and a power of action independent of, apd superior to, its earthly habitation.
There is still another absurdity in which this physical theory of mind would involve us. If the brain constitutes the mind, then when a man has lost half of his brain he has lost half of his mind. Is it objected to this that “the brain is a double 'organ," and that each part is possessed of full and separate power of action? If the objector admits that the brain is an organ or instrument, then he must also concede that it is an organ or instrument made for something else—that is, for the soul—to use, or he must fall back upon the position that the organ uses itself. But
does the objector assert that brain and intellect are identical, and yet that the brain is made up of two distinct parts, each fully capable of performing all the functions usually attributed to mind? then must he admit that the person who has both these parts—that is, has a whole brain—possesses two minds! Such are some of the absurdities into which men fall when, refusing the revelation from God, which only can solve the problem and the mystery of human life, they attempt to carve out for themselves something more congenial to their own pride and self-complacency than the simple yet sublime philosophy of the Bible.
VI. THE CONSCIOUS INDIVIDUALITY OF SPIRIT DEMON
STRATES THAT IT IS NOT A FUNCTION OF MATTER.
No department of our knowledge is more positive than that which is founded in individual consciousness. Indeed, take away or even invalidate the authority of consciousness, and you undermine the foundations of all knowledge.
Nothing that is certain will remain. But the very idea of consciousness is that it is not a function of matter. “I appeal to the consciousness of every individual that he feels a power within him totally distinct from any function of the body. What other conception than this can he form of that power by which he recalls the past and provides for the future; by which he ranges, uncontrolled, from world to world, and from system to system; surveys the works of all-creating power, and rises to the contemplation of the eternal Cause ?
"To what function of matter shall he liken that principle by which he loves and fears, joys and sorrows; by which he is elated by hope, excited by enthusiasm, or sunk into the horrors of despair? These changes, also, he feels, in many instances, to be equally independent of impressions from without, and of the condition of his bodily frame. In the most peaceful state of every corporeal function, passion, remorse, or anguish may rage within! And, on the other hand, while the body is racked with the most frightful diseases, the mind may repose in all the tranquillity of hope.'* We pause here to inquire, What do all these things teach? Evidently that “there is a spirit in man.”
VII. THE FAILURE OF ANY MATERIAL AND CHEMICAL
COMBINATION TO PRODUCE LIFE IS FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT MIND IS NOT A FUNCTION OF MATTER.
It might be reasonably expected that if life was a mere function of matter, somewhere in the history of human observation instances of its spontaneous and original production would have occurred. Science records no such instance, and, indeed, is compelled to acknowledge its failure to produce life by any combination of merely material elements. Nay, it is compelled to go further, and, from its best lights, confess that it has found life no where without evidence of its antecedent germ. This is predicated of life even in its lowest forms. How much more certain, then, the failure of every such experiment to produce the higher manifestations of soul or spirit !
The science of chemistry has succeeded in analyzing man's physical nature and ascertaining its composition. It has discovered the elements and the proportions in which each is mixed to form the various parts of the body. It can compound these elements again, but man it has not formed and can not form; nor can it, by even the most refined and delicate process, create the smallest organic existence and impart to it animal life.
* Abercrombie's Intellectual Powers.
In this direction the experiments of philosophy and all its research have been utterly fruitless. Who can snatch from the altar of the living God the Promethean fire that breathes life and animation into the inanimate clod of clay? Let foolhardy infidelity blush at its empty boasting, and cease its clamorous self-applause, till it has solved the mysterious, awful problem—“What is life?"
VIII. THE STATE OF THE MIND IN DYING ALSO AFFORDS
PROOF OF THE SOUL'S SUPERIOR AND INDEPENDENT BEING.
We have already noticed that, often when the body is in the last stages of weakness and decay, the mind is left in full possession of its intellectual and spiritual force. This of itself is a proof of man's spiritual and immortal nature. But our attention here is directed to another point. We have carefully studied the state of the mind in dying by actual observation and intercourse with persons up almost to the last moment of earthly being, and we have uniformly found that instead of any consciousness or expectation of the soul's being actually extinguished, the expectation of its living on as strong and as invincible as in the morning flush of life and health. The dying and decay of the body are expected events; the premonitions of physical death are calmly observed and conversed upon freely. Yet the idea that the soul is going out of existence never once seems to be entertained. Thus, in the very act of dying. the soul asserts its claim to an independent spiritual being, and snatches from the jaws of death the proofs of its immortality.
Let us notice a few cases in point. The Rev. Alanson Reed, who had been wasting away with consumption several years, said to me, only a half-hour before his last breath, “I know full well that I am at the point of death, but the idea of the spirit being extinguished in death is utterly inconceivable. The soul is going forth, but it has no consciousness of dying; rather the consciousness of living on rises above every other feeling, and it is impossible for me to doubt.” The soul seems to possess a sensation of vitality—correspondent to its nature. Thus Mr. Pope, when in a dying state, said, "I am so certain of the soul's being immortal, that I seem to feel it within me, as it were, by intuition.” The celebrated Boerhaave contemplated the perceptible difference between his mind and his body, in his last illness, as being like a philosophical experiment to him, that his intellectual self would not perish with his bodily dissolution. The celebrated Haller, as death advanced to the mastery over his bodily system, could only measure its progress by keeping his fingers upon his own pulse. “The artery, my friend,” said he at length, “ceases to beat,” and almost instantly expired. The Rev. Mr. Halyburton, when dying, said to a brother minister, “I think my case is a pretty fair demonstration of the immortality of the soul. My bones are rising through my skin. This body is going away to corruption, and yet my intellectuals are so lively, that I can not perceive the least alteration or decay in them.”
These and kindred facts are in harmony with the sublime idea that man possesses a “living soul.” But they are utterly irreconcilable with the idea that the soul is a function of the material nature. An element that can thus remain unaffected by physical decay, that can triumph amid the very ruins of the material man, gives mysterious and wonderful demonstration that the roots of its being are not planted in material soil, but that it possesses a higher life.