and soul are preexistent. But, while the former exists as a distinct entity, an individualization, the soul exists as preexisting matter, an unscient portion of an intelligent whole. Both were originally formed from the Eternal Ocean of Light; but as the theosophists expressed it, there is a visible as well as invisible spirit in fire. They made a difference between the anima bruta and the anima divina. Empedocles firmly believed all men and animals to possess two souls; and in Aristotle we find that he calls one the reasoning soul — [[nous]], and the other, the animal soul — [[psuche]]. According to these philosophers, the reasoning soul comes from without the universal soul, and the other from within. This divine and superior region, in which they located the invisible and supreme deity, was considered by them (by Aristotle himself) as a fifth element, purely spiritual and divine, whereas the anima mundi proper was considered as composed of a fine, igneous, and ethereal nature spread throughout the universe, in short — ether. The Stoics, the greatest materialists of ancient days, excepted the Invisible God and Divine Soul (Spirit) from any such a corporeal nature. Their modern commentators and admirers, greedily seizing the opportunity, built on this ground the supposition that the Stoics believed in neither God nor soul. But Epicurus, whose doctrine militating directly against the agency of a Supreme Being and gods, in the formation or government of the world, placed him far above the Stoics in atheism and materialism, taught, nevertheless, that the soul is of a fine, tender essence, formed from the smoothest, roundest, and finest atoms, which description still brings us to the same sublimated ether. Arnobius, Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Origen, notwithstanding their Christianity, believed, with the more modern Spinoza and Hobbes, that the soul was corporeal, though of a very fine nature.
This doctrine of the possibility of losing one’s soul and, hence, individuality, militates with the ideal theories and progressive ideas of some spiritualists, though Swedenborg fully adopts it. They will never accept the kabalistic doctrine which teaches that it is only through observing the law of harmony that individual life hereafter can be obtained; and that the farther the inner and outer man deviate from this fount of harmony, whose source lies in our divine spirit, the more difficult it is to regain the ground.
But while the spiritualists and other adherents of Christianity have little if any perception of this fact
of the possible death and obliteration of the human personality by the separation of the immortal part from the perishable, the Swedenborgians fully comprehend it. One of the most respected ministers of the New Church, the Rev. Chauncey Giles, D.D., of New York, recently elucidated the subject in a public discourse as follows: Physical death, or the death of the body, was a provision of the
divine economy for the benefit of man, a provision by means of which he attained the higher ends of his being. But there is another death which is the interruption of the divine order and the destruction of every human element in man’s nature, and every possibility of human happiness. This is the spiritual death, which takes place before the dissolution of the body. “There may be a vast development of man’s natural mind without that development being accompanied by a particle of love of God, or of unselfish love of man.” When one falls into a love of self and love of the world, with its pleasures, losing the divine love of God and of the neighbor, he falls from life to death. The higher principles which constitute the essential elements of his humanity perish, and he lives only on the natural plane of his faculties. Physically he exists, spiritually he is dead. To all that pertain to the higher and the only enduring phase of existence he is as much dead as his body becomes dead to all the activities, delights, and sensations of the world when the spirit has left it. This spiritual death results from disobedience of the laws of spiritual life, which is followed by the same penalty as the disobedience of the laws of the natural life. But the spiritually dead have still their delights; they have their intellectual endowments and power, and intense activities. All the animal delights are theirs, and to multitudes of men and women these constitute the highest ideal of human happiness. The tireless pursuit of riches, of the amusements and entertainments of social life; the cultivation of graces of manner, of taste in dress, of social preferment, of scientific distinction, intoxicate and enrapture these dead-alive; but, the eloquent preacher remarks, “these creatures, with all their graces, rich attire, and brilliant accomplishments, are dead in the eye of the Lord and the angels, and when measured by the only true and immutable standard have no more genuine life than skeletons whose flesh has turned to dust.” A high development of the intellectual faculties does not imply spiritual and true life. Many of our greatest scientists are but animate corpses — they have no spiritual sight because their spirits have left them. So we might go through all ages, examine all occupations, weigh all human attainments, and investigate all forms of society, and we would find these spiritually dead everywhere.