The atural Immortality of the Human Soul.


Because 1 live, ye shall live also. S. JOH xiv. 19.

This saying of our Lord in the supper-room, like so much else which He uttered there, is only to be understood in the light of His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven. When He said, Be cause I live, 1 He had death immediately before Him. He was taking 100

OUTLI ES O VARIOUS PASSAGES the measure of death. Death was to be no real interruption of His ever-continuing life. Death with all its physical, its mental miseries death was only an incident in His being ; it was in no sense its close. Already He sees the Resurrection beyond, and He exclaims, I live. It was not possible, as S. Peter puts it, that He, the Prince of Life, should be holden of death. And so He treats death as an already vanquished enemy which cannot have any lasting effect upon His indestructible life. And, further, this life of His, inaccessible as it was to any permanent injury enduring, as it was to endure, beyond the Cross and the grave is the cause of ours. Because I live, ye shall live also. 1 He describes what He knows to be impending : * Yet a little while and the world seeth Me no more. 1 He would be hidden away in the grave from the eyes of men. He adds, * but ye see Me. 1 His disciples would see Him ; first, with their bodily eyes during the forty days after His Resurrection, and next with the eyes of faith throughout all the ages until He comes to judgment; and thus Be cause I live, ye shall live also. Assured of the enduring continuity of His life, the disciples might be certain quite certain of their own. Because He lives after His Resurrection after His Ascension in the life of glory, therefore the disciples, in whatever sense, shall live also. I. ow here let us observe, first of all, what our Saviour s words do not mean. They do not mean that the immortality of the soul of man is dependent upon the redemptive work or upon the glorified life of Jesus Christ. Man is an immortal being, just as he is a thinking and a feeling being, by the original terms of his nature. God has made man immortal, whether for weal or woe. Whether man is redeemed or not, whether he is sanctified or not, he will exist for ever. God might have made man a being subject to annihilation. He has given

him a soul which is indestructible ; and this quality of the soul of man is just as much a part of man s nature as are the limbs of his body or the peculiarities of his mind. Of late we have heard some thing of a phrase, new, if I mistake not, to Christian ears con ditional immortality. 1 We are told that man is not immortal by the terms of his nature ; that he may become immortal if he is saved by Christ. Unredeemed man man in a state of nature, so we are told becomes extinct, if not at death, yet very shortly afterwards, when anything that may survive death will fade away into nothingness. This, it is said, is more in keeping with what we see around us than the old Christian doctrine that every human being will necessarily exist, in whatever condition, for ever. Everything around us changes, decays, passes away; and this dissolution of all the organised forms of matter seems, it is suggested, to forewarn man of his own approaching and complete destruction, unless, indeed, some superhuman power should take him by the hand and confer on him that gift of im101

EASTER DAY mortality which, in virtue of his own nature, he does not possess. Some of the persons who talk and think thus forget that the ew Testament treats man as a being who will live after death, continu ously on, whether in happiness or in woe. And others forget that before our Lord came the best and most thoughtful men in the old heathen world were satisfied of this truth. II. And this brings us to consider what our Lord s words do mean : what is the kind of life which we Christians do, or should, live because Christ our Saviour on His throne in heaven lives it ? Clearly something is meant by life in such passages as this which is higher than, which is beyond, mere existence not merely beyond animal existence, but beyond the existence, the mere existence, of a spiritual being. We English use life in our popular language in this sense of an existence which is not merely dormant, or inert, or unfruitful, but which has a purpose of some sort and which makes the most of itself; and the Greeks had a particular word to describe the true life of man man s highest spiritual energy a word to which our Lord, either in language or, more probably, by some marked modulation of His voice must have used an equivalent in the Eastern dialect which He actually employed. This is the word employed when our Lord says, I am the life, and when S. Paul says, * Christ who is our life. And thus in the present passage our Lord does not say, Because I exist ye shall exist also, but He does say, * Because I live ye shall live also.

This life is existence in its best and its highest aspects : the existence of a being who makes the most of his endowments ; who consciously directs them towards their true purpose and object ; in whom they are invigorated, raised, transfigured, by the presence of some new power by the operations of grace. This enrichment and elevation of being is derived that is the point from Christ our Lord. He is the author of this new life, just as our first parent is the source of our first natural existence. On this account S. Paul calls our Lord the second Adam, implying that He would have a relation towards the human race in some remarkable way resembling that of our first parent ; and, in point of fact, Christ is the parent of a race of spiritual men who push human life to its higher some of them to its highest capacities of excellence, just as Adam is the parent of a race of natural men who do what they can or may with their natural outfit. * The second Adam remember that title of our Lord Jesus Christ. As natural human existence is derived from Adam, so spiritual or supernatural life is given to already existing men, from and by our Lord Jesus Christ. As we have borne the image of the earthly, we must also bear the image of the heavenly. When our Lord was upon the earth He communicated this life to man by coming in contact with men. What is said of Him on one occasion in reference to a 102

OUTLI ES O VARIOUS PASSAGES particular miracle, is true of His whole appearance upon the earth * Virtue went out of Him. 1 A common way of describing this is to say that He produced an impression deeper and more lasting than has any who has ever worn our human form. Most certainly He did this. He acted, He spoke ; and His looks and gestures and bearing were them selves a vivid and most persuasive language ; and men observed and listened. They had never seen, they had never heard, anything like it. They felt the contagion of a presence, the influence of which they could not measure a presence from which there radiated a subtle mysterious energy which was gradually taking possession of them, they knew not exactly how, and making them begin to live a new and higher life. What that result was upon four men of very different casts of character we may gather from the reports of the life of Christ which are given us by the four holy evangelists. But at last He died, and rose, and disappeared from sight into the heavens, and it is of this aftertime that He says, * Because I live, ye shall live also. 1 How does He now communicate His life when He is out of reach

of the senses when the creative stimulus of His visible presence has been withdrawn ? The answer is, first, by His Spirit. What had been partly visible has now to be a wholly invisible process. The Spirit of Christ that divine and personal force whereby the mind and nature of our invisible Saviour is poured into the hearts and minds and characters of men was to be the Lord and giver of this life to the end of time. * He shall take of mine and shall show it unto you. And, therefore, *if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His ; and, therefore, if any man be in Christ, through being baptized into this one Spirit, * he is a new creature : old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new. And, secondly, the means whereby the Spirit of Christ does especi ally convey Christ s life are the Christian sacraments. Let us be up and doing. Let us look to the sources of our true outfit for the eternal world. Let us make the most of them. Our immortality is certain. But what sort of an immortality is it to be ? That is a question before which all else that touches ourselves fades away into utter insignificance. That is a question which can be only well and satisfactorily answered by a soul which hastens to draw water from the wells of salvation which, having itself heard the words uttered as of old over the sinner, Thy sins which are many are forgiven, still kneels on in persevering love at the feet of the divine Master to receive from Him the supplies and the strength which are assuredly needful for the life eternal, and to hear more and more clearly, as the closing scene draws nigh, the divine promise, Because I live, thou shalt live also. H. P. LIDDO . 1. 68 FREE BOOKS


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful