Its influence is not confined to those who believe in the tenets of the Christian Church, nor even to those who have heard the name of Christ. It has spread, through some subtle, unseen power and potency, until it permeates every fibre of human society, and constitutes the promise of every religion, the hope of all humanity.
I have, in other chapters, pointed out some of the proofs which science affords of the doctrine of immortality, and of the verity of the history of Jesus of Nazareth. I have shown that every known fact which bears upon the subject points to the continued life of the soul after the death of the body. I have shown that the discoveries of modern science demonstrate the fact that Jesus was in possession of a complete knowledge of the science of the soul in its relations to its physical environment. I have shown that all known facts bearing upon the subject go to prove that he also had a knowledge of its laws in its relations to a purely spiritual existence.
We have then, first, an array of demonstrable facts which irresistibly lead to the conclusion that the soul survives the body; secondly, another array of facts which prove that it was possible for an exceptionally endowed person to perceive the laws of the soul;" thirdly, an array of facts which successive trate that Jesus did understand those laws as far as into the incorpore the soul's relations to the physical man; The Persians believed inch show that he understood the wicked, and of paradise for tutions to the spiritual world, and wicked would eventually be its conscious existence after the that the fires were hot enougilv, we have in the New Testa-nable soul in about three daich demonstrated his knowledge Herodotus tells us that the of his solemn and repeated dec-defend the doctrine of the is pertain to that subject, says that they believed in its tier all these cumulative proofs, animal bodies for a period of re are few principles of nature its return to a human body that are more clearly established by inductive processes of reasoning than is the principle of immortality.
Having established this proposition, it remains only to consider Christ's doctrine of future rewards and punishments, Obviously, this is a more difficult question to handle, for the reason that there are necessarily few facts known to mankind which can be considered scientifically demonstrative of any proposition which has been made by any one on that subject. Nevertheless, if there is one known fact which confirms his declarations on that question, and at the same time satisfies the demands of human reason and the common sense of Divine Justice, we may safely conclude that the Christian religion rests upon a purely scientific basis.
The first important fact which confronts us in considering this branch of the subject is, that Jesus said very little on the subject. It was obviously impossible for him to convey to the human mind any adequate knowledge or idea of the actual conditions of a spiritual existence. He was hedged about by the limitations of human speech and the finite understanding of his followers. His descriptions, therefore, of the places of future rewards and punishments were necessarily limited to material conceptions. He could effectively employ no other symbolism than that with which his hearers were familiar and which they could appreciate. He had taught them in plain and unmistakable terms the conditions upon which the soul could attain a conscious existence; and having done that, his mission was thenceforth a moral one. Having taught them how to attain eternal life, he taught them so to conduct their lives in this world as to entitle them to the joys of that life. It was no part of his mission to reconstruct the accepted geography of the world of spirits, for it could only add confusion to their crude conceptions. His parables were drawn from the objects and incidents of their every-day life, and were necessarily limited in their application to a spiritual existence.
His only object was to enforce a code of morals founded upon the eternal principles of right and justice, simple in terms, and adapted to their comprehension, but grand in its simplicity, and adapted to the varying conditions of human society for all time.
The question now is, What is to be considered the doctrine of future rewards and punishments to be gathered from the New Testament? It is clear that we must reject all material conceptions of both heaven and hell. It follows that the punishment must be a moral one, since there is no material entity to be dealt with. The sense of justice inherent in all mankind would seem to indicate that the punishment shall be commensurate with the offence. It must be assumed, therefore, that the true doctrine is expressed in Romans ii. 6, where it is said that God will "render to every man according to his deeds.11
This satisfies the finite sense of justice, and perfectly accords with the highest human conceptions of the character of a God of love, mercy, and justice. The good man would ask nothing more, the bad could expect nothing less. Reasoning from analogy would lead to the same conclusion. We know from daily experience that every violation of the laws of our physical nature is followed inevitably by its adequate punishment. We have a right to suppose, therefore, that every violation of moral and spiritual law will be followed by its appropriate penalty. We know, indeed, from what we have seen of the teachings of Christ, that spiritual penalties follow a violation of spiritual law. In other words, the law of suggestion follows the soul across the boundaries of eternity. Spiritual death is the inevitable result of spiritual unbelief. It is not a vindictive punishment, it is the fundamental law of spiritual life. Just as the spirit quickens the flesh, so does faith quicken the spirit.
Again, we find a spiritual penalty following a violation of spiritual law in what Christ taught regarding the sin against the Holy Ghost. Just what that sin consists of, never has been satisfactorily defined. We are told that it is a sin which cannot be forgiven. It must, therefore, consist of a violation of some fundamental law of the soul's existence, the penalty for which is inevitable according to the fixed laws of God. It cannot be a moral offence, consisting simply in wrong-doing, for such sins can be atoned for. A moral offence so gross that a God of infinite mercy and love cannot forgive it, and, if the Scriptures are to be believed, does not stand ready to forgive it when proper atonement is made, cannot be conceived. Nor has it been mentioned in Holy Writ. We are therefore forced to the conclusion that, as before remarked, the sin against the Holy Ghost must consist of a violation of the fundamental law of the. soul's existence. It must, therefore, be the sin of unbelief, and consist of a blasphemous denial of the existence of the soul and its Father, God. This would be in strict accord- ance with the fundamental law of suggestion, as it has been scientifically demonstrated to exist.