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whom it was first embraced, and that they were taught to combine with it, at once, the most rational, the most elevated, and the most cheering ideas, to which those of the Gentiles were strongly opposed.
The natural idea of vitality, as opposed to its loss or privation, is that of something exceedingly elevating and cheering; it is the source of all percipience, knowledge, and enjoyment; while its contrary, is the state of darkness, gloom, and inanity. The frame of man is admirably constituted for the maintenance of the vital functions, in the highest order and degrees of which they are susceptible in this state of existence, and when these are destroyed, nothing is presented to our observation, but the gloomy images of death and extinction. It is true, that the enjoyments of sentient and intellectual life, are mingled with occasional pains, or interrupted by privations; but that mind must be ill constituted, or unfortunately circumstanced, in its passage through, even this brief, precarious existence, which does not perceive its principal end and tendency to be, the production of agreeable and pleasurable perceptions. And notwithstanding the metaphysical subtilties which have aimed to blend life with death, and to represent the apparent extinction of every vital function, as the actual commencement of superior life in its highest vigour and perfection, as its transit into a state of immortal felicity, or of ever-during woe, there is reason to believe, that palpable facts will ever maintain a paramount influence over these imaginative or theoretical creations of the intellect. Whatever occasional allusions there may be in the Scriptures to these refinements, the most express and ordinary representations which they afford of life and death, are those which accord with the observation of our senses, and the prominent impressions and feelings of mankind. Man, we are informed, was made out of the dust of the ground, or of inanimate matter, and it was in consequence of the action of the air upon the organ of respiration, that “he became a living soul."*
* The passage here referred to, is Gen. ii. 7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” We read, Job. xxxvii. 10, that “ by the breath of God the frost is given,” by which phrase, every one understands, the action of the cold wind or air, expressively denominated “the breath of God;" and that nothing more is meant, but the action of the air upon the lungs, according to the appointment of God, by his breathing into man's nostrils the breath of life, appears pe
This exactly coincides with our experience, which constantly attests, that every vital function depends on the action of the atmosphere upon this organ. The man thus constituted, is represented as the most excellent of the works of God; and with the length of his days, as well as the extent and correctness of his intellectual and moral attainments, are combined the ideas of favour and felicity. When man dies, on the other hand, it is represented, that he loses his every power, he “returns to his dust,” or original inanimation. The sentence passed upon our primitive parent, is very explicit as well as solemn; it is not that the immortal spirit should be separated from the body, and speed its flight either to regions of felicity or of woe; it draws no line of distinction between the man, and the organized frame with which every vital function appears so inseparably combined; but, regarding him as a whole, or a homogeneous person, it emphatically declares, that he is dust. “Out of the ground wast thou taken; dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Had it been true, that the vital principle in Adam was culiarly evident from the more particular description of the restoration of life, in Ezekiel xxxvii. After describing the arranging of the bones, and their being furnished with sinews, flesh, and skin, the Prophet observes, that there was no breath in them; upon which he is directed to say,
« Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live,-and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon
their feet. The circumstance of this being only a vision, or scenic representation, can be no objection to the direct evidence which it affords, that it is the action of the air upon the respiratory organs, which, by enabling man to breathe, puts all his vital functions in motion, and thus “ he becomes a living soul,' or person; for, it must be well known to all who are familiar with the language of the Old Testament, in our common version, that the term soul is frequently used for the whole person. At least, if the contrary is maintained, it must be admitted, that it perishes with the body; see Job xxxvi. 14, which is literally rendered “Their soul dieth in youth, and their life is among the unclean;" as in the margin. Soul and life are here used as synonymous terms; and it is evident, that our translators clearly perceived the meaning to be simply the undergoing of a natural death, by their substituting the phrase "they die in youth;” see also Ezek. xviii. 4, 20. Indeed, they have used the terms life and soul, in translating the same Hebrew word, as in Gen. i. 20, and ii. 7; in the margin of the former passage, we have the term soul, clearly showing its applicacy to all living creatures, and that it signifies nothing more nor less than the natural life of animals, accompanied, perhaps, with the idea of the organized frame in which it resides. In an excellent commentary upon the passage now under our consideration, Mr. Thom observes, that Parkhurst, in his Lexicon, notwithstanding the known bias of his mind in favour of the separate existence of souls, admits, that the most correct rendering of the phrase, which stands in our common version a living soul, would be a breathing frame.
immortal, and wholly independent of the corporeal frame and its functions, this sentence must certainly have conveyed to him, and to every unbiassed mind, an idea extremely remote from the truth; nor would the Author of the human frame have represented the man as becoming inanimate earth, wben, in reality, his vital powers were only throwing off their terrene impediments, and assuming an immortal vigour. Adam must have known, that his life, or conscious existence, commenced with his bodily conformation, and that previous to this, he was not in being; and he is, by the above sentence, distinctly and emphatically informed, that he will cease to have any conscious existence, or return to the same state of inanimation in which he was, prior to the act of creation.
The Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, is in perfect accordance with the above account of death. Man having become inanimate in the grave, his future existence must evidently depend on that resurrection or restoration from death unto life, which is exemplified in so interesting and satisfactory a manner, by the particulars which are related of the resurrection of Jesus. It has long appeared to me, that those particulars are deserving of a more minute and exact attention than bas often been given to them; inasmuch, as they are the representation, not merely of the revival of a dead man to a state of ordinary vitality, but from total inanimation to a state of immortality
I propose, Sir, with your permission, to review several passages in the Evangelists, containing, I conceive, very abundant and satisfactory evidences, at once, of the resurrection of Jesus, and of his translation to a glorious and immortal state.
Unitarian Worthies.—No. 5, Firmin Abauzit.
FIRMIN ABAUZIT was descended from an Arabian Physician, and was born at Usez in Languedoc, in November 1669. He lost bis father at two years of age. The edict of Nantz had, at this period, been revoked by Louis XIV. and his mother suffered grievous persecution at the hands of the Catholics, who wished to force her to bring her son up in the Catholic religion. By a change of residence, she for a long time in vain attempted to escape from the power of her persecutors; and young Abauzit, after many Aights, was compelled to wander a long time among the mountains of Cavennes, changing his asylum every time his Bishop discovered the place of bis.concealment. Once they had invested the house where he was; but the child being put in a pannier along with some goods on an ass, by this stratagem escaped. In the mean time, the mother of young Abauzit was confined in the castle of Samieres, where she experienced the most rigorous treatment, but in vain—her enemies could not compel her to recal ber son, whom she had at last safely lodged in the asylum of Geneva. This lady had a fortitude superior to any persecutions, great acuteness of understanding, and a great fund of knowledge. She often declared, “I would never have my son be of a religion that renders men stupid and wicked." Though the health of Madame Abauzit was daily suffering through her protracted confinement, her Bishop, in spite of the entreaties of her physician, refused to release her. But the substitution of his brother in his office, was the means of her liberation; “ You wish her to die here (said he, in a letter to the Bishop), but I will not be her executioner.” In a dying condition she reached Geneva, and, for the short remainder of her life, devoted berself to the education of her son, teaching him by her example how to profess the truth, to dispense with vain superfluity, and to seek for happiness in the culture of bis mind, and the practice of virtue. He made a very rapid progress through all the sciences; his mind accommodated itself to all with the same facility; but natural philosophy, the mathematics, and natural history, had the greatest charms for him. Consecrated to the study of theology, he applied to it with great zeal and eminent success; as an essential requisite, he thoroughly studied the ancient languages, and few persons understood them so well as he did. To finish his education, he travelled in 1689 into Holland, where he became acquainted with the chief literary men. Thence be passed into England, where he was introduced to. Sir Isaac Newton, as a young man deeply conversant with mathematical studies. "That great man, himself a Unitarian, discerned and appreciated his
merits, and declared Abauzit well worthy to judge on an important question between him and the famous Leibnitz. The reputation of Abauzit became known to King William, who attempted, by a bandsome offer, to detain bim in England; but he chose to return to Geneva. Here, devoting himself to study, Abauzit, in 1715, entered into a society formed for the purpose of translating the New Testament into French: and the clergy, of whom chiefly the society consisted, acknowledged themselves indebted to him, for useful assistance in this important work. Against Popery, he was always an active and willing opponent. In the year 1726, he lost his mother. Never was a mother more affectionately beloved than she was, and never was a son more tenderly regarded; common suffering bad given an unusual closeness to the union of their hearts. His sorrow for her loss, was at first extreme, but time converted it into a gentle melancholy. It was in this year, that he was presented with the privileges and freedom as a citizen of the state of Geneva: he was also importuned to occupy a professor's chair in the University, but bis modesty forbade him; he was, however, made librarian. Though possessed of but a small patrimony, he gave up all the emoluments arising from his office; he feared every thing that might in the least abridge his freedom; liberty was ever his great idol, to which he sacrificed his fortune and his worldly fame.
One is astonished at the universality of his knowledge; he was known to the most celebrated mathematicians, philosophers, and divines in Europe; he possessed that understanding which enabled him to appreciate their several excellences, and almost to instruct the most famous of them. To judge of the depth of his physical and mathematical knowledge, it is necessary to know, that he der fended Newton against Castel; that he discovered an error in the Principia, at a time when there were few people capable of reading that work, and which Newton corrected in the second edition. Abauzit was one of the first to adopt the grand conceptions of Newton, because his mind was trained so as to see their evidence and beauty. He was perfectly acquainted with many languages; understood with the greatest exactness, ancient and modern geography; and was intimately conversant with medals and manuscripts. All these different sciences, together with a minute knowledge of history, were so well