“Neo — Anything That Has A Beginning Will Have An Ending” — Mr. Smith (Summer Review)

While browsing the Millennial Star I came across this thing from an amateur missionary-philosopher. This is 1882 and shows how far theological drift had come from Joseph Smith among the rank and file. I think you might have heard parts of this in a mid-20th century general conference address. It demonstrates a bit of “lived theology” if you will. Anyway, I liked it for that and some other reasons — see the title. Enjoy. And Think: The Matrix.

Man is a noble being; created in the image of his Maker, endowed with faculties divine, eternal. He is born to live for ever. Not limited with his present knowledge, not shackled by surrounding circumstances, not bound to earth by the laws that govern inanimate matter.

But says the skepitc, if man lives after death, let it be demonstrated to our senses. The sacred writings of inspired prophets, with the pure teachings of a Divine Jesus are no proofs to the skeptic. Therefore in proving man’s immortality I shall pass without notice all scriptural teachings, and shall not quote from any of the eminent theologians of the day, but appeal directly to reason. It is now admitted by scientific men that forces, like material elements, are indestructible. We cannot create nor destroy force; it exists in nature. A stone falls to earth by the laws of attraction, and comes to rest, but the force is not lost. The poet says:

“Somewhere still that atom’s force,
Moves the light poised universe.”

If all this be true of physical force, it must also be true of spiritual force. One philosopher tells us that the soul contains all spiritually what the universe contains physically. If the soul is the counterpart, the equal of the universe, it must be equally lasting as the universe. Physiologists tell us that the body changes once every six or seven years. Yet we know that impressions may be dormant fifty or sixty years, and then be recalled with all the freshness of a living reality. Should not this teach us that the body is only the casket that contains the eternal spirit?

Everything in nature is progressive and capable of being brought to a higher standard of perfection by education, until fully developed. But the natural life of man is far too short a period for the soul to develop its being. At the end of a well spent life, the wisest philosopher, the greatest poet, or the most profound reasoner feels as if he had just commenced to learn. There is more truth in the great storehouse of Nature, than man’s progressive mind can grasp through the countless ages of eternity. We must admit that the most eminent physician has been unable with all his searches and researches to analyze the soul and tell its component parts. But this only teaches the wisdom of an all-wise Creator. If man could analyze his soul, he could devise means for its destruction. Then nations would rise against nation, killing not only the body, but the soul. But this will never be within the reach of man. If man, in his present state, could be told the mysteries of his spiritual birth and destiny, he would probably understand it as well as the prattling infant, when commencing to lisp its mother tongue, could understand the laws that gave him mortal birth. But reason and analogy enable us to come to the following conclusion: The elements that form the body could not receive an earthly birth without earthly parents; neither could the spirit receive its spiritual birth without spiritual parents. But as our earthly parent die and return to the dust, so we, in our turn, must lay our bodies in the silent grave, but as our spiritual parents are eternal unchangeable beings, it follows that man will live and retain his identity while God lives and the universe exists.

W. H. Apperley

Cosmological argument anyone? How hard is it not to imagine something without a beginning? The classical theologians essentially placed God in that role, but demanded that nothing else could be so privileged. Even Joseph Smith’s intriguing exploits were too much for our wish to find a cause for everything. Having an infinite preexistence seems to make for an uncomfortable theology.

2 Responses to “Neo — Anything That Has A Beginning Will Have An Ending” — Mr. Smith (Summer Review)

  1. J. Stapley says:

    Excellent intro.

    • WVS says:

      I find his last paragraph really interesting. A kind of trim distillation of the preceding 40 years. At least partly anyway.

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