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I shall conclude with his words: “We are not to suppose that, because sin will have no power to delight them (the blessed in the City of God) freewill must be withdrawn. It will, on the contrary, be all the more truly free, because set free from delight in sinning, to take unfailing delight in not sinning. For the first freedom of will which man received when he was created upright, consisted in an ability not to sin; whereas his last freedom of will shall be superior, inasmuch as it shall not be able to sin. ... And in this divine gift there was to be observed this gradation, that man should first receive a free-wili by which he was able not to sin, and at last a free-will by which he was not able to sin,—the former being adapted to a state of probation, the latter to a state of reward. ... For as
a . the first immortality which Adam lost by sinning, consisted in his being able not to die, while the last shall consist in his not being able to die; so the first free-will consisted in his being able not to sin, the last in his not being able to sin. And thus, piety and justice shall be as indefeasible as happiness. Are we to say that God Himself is not free because He cannot sin?
“In that city, then, there shall be free-will, one in all the citizens, and indivisible in each, delivered from all ill, filled with all good, enjoying indefeasibly the delights of eternal joys, oblivious of sins, oblivious of sufferings, and yet not so oblivious of its deliverance as to be ungrateful to its Deliverer.” 1
1 De Civitate Dei, Lib. XXII.
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
There is but one Being that is absolutely immortal, One alone that is everlasting, that has no beginning, that will have no end—and that Being is God. “In the beginning, O Lord,” says the Psalmist, “Thou foundedst the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest, and all of them shall grow old like a garment: and as a vesture Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed. But Thou art always the self-same, and Thy years shall not fail.” 2 “I am alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”3
Go back in spirit to the twilight of time. Contemplate the early dawn of creation before this earth assumed its present form, when all was chaos. Even then God was in the fulness of life," and the Spirit of God moved over the waters." 4
Look forward through the vista of ages to come,
when the heavens and the earth shall have passed away, even then God will live. He will survive this universal wreck of matter.
Let us now look at man. What a strange contrast is presented by his physical and spiritual natures ! What a mysterious compound of corruption and incorruption, of ignominy and glory, of weakness and strength, of matter and mind! He has a body that must be nourished twice or thrice a day, else it will grow faint and languid. It is subject to infirmities and sickness and disease, and it must finally yield to the inevitable law of death.
What is each one of us, but a vapor that rises and melts away, a shadow that suddenly vanishes ! A hundred years ago, we had no existence; a hundred years hence, we shall probably be forgotten.
Let us now contemplate man's spiritual nature. In a mortal body, he carries an immortal soul. In this perishable mass, resides an imperishable spirit. Within this frail, tottering temple, shines a light that will always burn, that will never be extinguished. As to the past, we are finite; as to the future, we are infinite in duration. As, to the past, we are creatures of yesterday; as to the future, we are everlasting. When this house of clay will have crumbled to dust, when this earth shall have passed away, when the sun and stars shall grow dim with years, even then our soul will live and think, remember and love; for God breathed into us a living spirit, and that spirit, like Himself, is clothed with immortality.
The soul is the principle by which we live and move and have our being. It is that which forms and perpetuates our identity; for it makes us to be the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The soul has intellectual conceptions and operations of reason and judgment independent of material organs. Our own experience clearly teaches us this important point. Our mind grasps what the senses cannot reach. We think of God and of His attributes, we have thoughts of justice and of truth, we perceive mentally the connection existing between premises and conclusions, we know the difference between good and evil. Such a principle being independent of matter in its operations, must needs be independent of matter also in its being. It is, therefore, of its nature, subject to no corruption resulting from matter. Its life, which is its being, is not extinguished and cannot be extinguished with that of the body.
It is well known that there is a constant waste going on in every part of the human body which has to be renovated by daily nutriment. So steady is this exhaustion that in the judgment of medical science an entire transformation of the physical system occurs every six or eight years. New flesh and bones and tissues are substituted for those you had before. The band with which you write, the brain which you exercise in thinking are composed of entirely different materials. And yet you comprehend to-day what you learned ten years ago, you remember and love those with whom you were then
associated. How is this? You no longer use the identical organic substance you then possessed. Does it not prove that the faculty, called the soul, by which you think, remember and love is distinct from organic matter, that while the body is constantly changing, the soul remains the same, that it does not share in the process of decomposition and renewal through which the human frame is passing and therefore that it is a spiritual substance ?
All nations, moreover, both ancient and modern, whether professing the true or a false religion, have believed in the immortality of the soul, how much soever they may have differed as to the nature of future rewards and punishments, or the mode of future existence.
Such was the faith of the people of ancient Greece and Rome, as we learn from the writings of Homer, Virgil, and Ovid, who picture the blessed in the next world as dwelling in the Elysian fields, and consign the wicked to Tartarus and Hades.
This belief in a future life was not confined to the uncultivated masses; it was taught by the most eminent writers and philosophers of those polished nations. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Plutarch, and other sages of Pagan antiquity, guided only by the light of reason, proclaimed their belief in the soul's immortality. “Nor do I agree," says Cicero, “with those that have lately begun to advance this opinion, that the soul dies together with the body, and that all things are annihilated by death. The authority of the ancients has more