Of The Natural Proofs Of The Immortality Of The Soul -- By: George I. Chace

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 006:21 (Feb 1849)
Article: Of The Natural Proofs Of The Immortality Of The Soul
Author: George I. Chace

Of The Natural Proofs Of The Immortality Of The Soul

George I. Chace

Having in the last number of this Review, offered some thoughts upon the constitution of spiritual beings, as exemplified in the inhabitants of our globe, in accordance with a purpose there intimated, we proceed now to consider the question, in which above all others, such beings are interested; viz. that of their continued existence, after the destruction of the corporeal frames with which, in the present state, they are so intimately connected. In the prosecution of this inquiry, our attention will be directed more especially to the spiritual nature or soul of man, as it is that, whose destinies more immediately concern us. However gratifying to our curiosity it might be, to know what becomes of the more humble endowment of spirit, allotted to each one of the lower animals, on the dissolution of their bodies, such knowledge, it is probable, would have no direct bearing upon human interests, and consequently be of comparatively little value.

“If a man die, shall he live again?” has been the great question and too often the despairing question, of the innumerable multitudes of our race, from the time when the first human being looked abroad over the earth, down to the present hour. Priests have taught the doctrine of a future life; poets have sung of it, and philosophers have labored to demonstrate it; but still as each new generation has arisen upon that which preceded it, the question has been again and again repeated, with the same eager interest, and the same uncertain and unsatisfying results. The earliest regular treatise, which has come down to us, on this subject, is the Phaedo of Plato. It was written about four hundred years previous to the commencement of the Christian era. It is in the form of a dialogue, and although composed by Plato, is supposed to embody the arguments of Socrates, his master, whom he makes the principal of the interlocutors. It is a highly elaborate production, uniting to a clearness and vigor of thought rarely equalled, the most finished graces of diction. Cicero, who was a profound admirer of Plato, makes one of the characters, in his Tusculan Questions (1.11,24), referring to this work, say: “evolve diligenter ejus eum librum, qui est de animo; amplius quod desideres, nihil erit.”

The composition is dramatic in its character, and the scene is laid in the prison of Socrates, where, condemned to drink the hemlock for having corrupted, as it was said, the Athenian youth by his philosophy —more especially by teaching them disrespect for the ancient divinities of their country, and persuading them to substitute new ones— he is waiting the return of the sacred galley, for the execution of his sentence. Under t...

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