Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
The immortality of the soul may be argued —
I. FROM THE SOUL ITSELF.
1. The soul is a spiritual substance. This is evident from the fact that it possesses all the properties of spirit, and none of those that belong to matter — such as intelligence, reflection, and volition.
2. The soul is capable of endless improvement. The more knowledge the mind possesses, the better fitted it is for fresh acquisitions in knowledge. The mind possesses faculties that are but imperfectly exercised in this life; but as nothing is made in vain, there must, therefore, be a future state.
3. All men desire immortality, and are averse to annihilation. Can we suppose that a Being, infinite in wisdom and goodness, would plant such desires for immortality in His creatures if they were never to be gratified?
4. All human beings are disposed to be religious in some way. This is so natural to men, that some have chosen to define man a religious, rather than a rational, animal. All nations have their gods, to whom they pay adoration and worship; and there is nothing too mean and insignificant for man to worship, rather than to have no god. And all religions are founded in the belief of a future state.
5. The powers and faculties of the mind are strong and vigorous, when the body is weak and emaciated. "Though the outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." How often, when speech has failed, and the body has lost the power to raise a single limb, has the soul, by some token, evinced, not only that all its faculties remained unimpaired, but that it was leaving the world in the greatest peace.
II. A FUTURE STATE OF EXISTENCE MAY BE CONCLUDED FROM THE UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS IN THIS LIFE.
1. If there be a God, He is a God of justice; and if He be a God of justice, He will fully reward the virtuous, and punish the vicious — but this He does not do in the present world; and, therefore, there must be a future state.
2. The natural tendency of virtue is, indeed, to produce happiness, and that of vice is to produce misery. But though these positions hold true in general, still there are innumerable cases in which the virtuous suffer much, and the vicious little or nothing in this world. We are therefore led to conclude that the present state is only a small part of the great plan of God's moral government.
3. That the present life is a time of trial, or probation, is admitted on all hands, with very few exceptions. And a state of trial implies that there will be a time of review, or examination, when the probationers will be rewarded, or punished, according to their works. But this time cannot come till the state of trial is finished.
4. The doctrine that there is no future state destroys all proper distinction between virtue and vice. And, indeed, if this be the ease, they have no existence but in name; for neither is the one rewarded, nor the other punished. There would be no motives to virtue, nor any checks to vice. Do away a future state, and there is nothing for the vicious to fear, nor for the virtuous to desire.
III. THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL AND A FUTURE STATE ARE MOST CLEARLY REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURES OF TRUTH.
1. There are certain persons of whom it is said that they shall never die. But none are exempt from the death of the body. It is, there. fore, the soul that shall not die.
2. The immortality of the soul may be inferred from Scripture instances of committing the spirit to God.
3. We learn from the Scriptures that the soul, on the death of the body, goes immediately to happiness or misery.
4. The Scriptures speak particularly of the existence of the soul, after the death of the body. Christ affirms that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living in His time, in quoting and commenting on the words of the Lord to Moses at the burning bush.
IV. INFERENCES: —
1. If the soul be immortal, it must be exceedingly valuable.
2. If the soul be immortal, the loss of it must be indescribable.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.