Of The Dependence Of The Mental Powers Upon The Bodily Organization -- By: George I. Chace

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:23 (Aug 1849)
Article: Of The Dependence Of The Mental Powers Upon The Bodily Organization
Author: George I. Chace


Of The Dependence Of The Mental Powers Upon The Bodily Organization

George I. Chace

Few subjects are fitted to awaken a more lively interest, than the mysterious connection subsisting between the body and the spirit. Though entirely distinct from one another, and constituted, as there is reason to believe, of essentially different elements, they are bound together by the closest ties, and sustain throughout the most intimate relations. Neither is able to withdraw itself from the other, or can act independently of the other, or has any power except through the other. Any disorder of the body immediately affects the mind, and any derangement of the mind as quickly extends its influence to the body. This wonderful union, and, as it would almost seem, blending of the material and spiritual in our natures, has commonly been regarded rather as a theme for the exercise of the imagination and fancy, than as a subject for sober investigation; and the ideas formed concerning it have been expressed more frequently in the vague and figurative language of poetry, than in the precise terms of philosophy. They have moreover been as various as the different aspects of the connection to which they relate.

Some of the ancients looked upon the complex frame of mind and body as a kind of musical instrument, and regarded the different nerves as so many keys to whose mysterious touch the soul gives out

its beautiful harmonies. Others saw in the body a prison, in which the spirit is incarcerated, and from which it can look out upon the world only through the narrow windows of the senses. But for the barrier opposed by the dark walls, which shut it in on every side, they supposed the range of its perceptions and knowledge would be much wider. Remove that, and the soul would be all eye, and all ear, and the intellect pure intelligence. In the Second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, and in the General epistle of Peter, we find the body spoken of under the figure of a tabernacle or house, fitted up indeed with various accommodations for the temporary residence of the spirit, but destined after a few years to be exchanged for a more glorious habitation, “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” In later times, since the structure and functions of the several parts of the bodily frame have been better understood, it has more commonly been regarded as a very complex machine, embracing numerous contrivances, adapting it on the one hand, to the powers and susceptibilities of spirit, and on the other, to the endowments and capacities of matter—a specially constituted medium through which these two forms of being, although in nature so widely removed from one another, may notwithstanding hold intercourse—a skilfully constructe...

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