THE SPIRITUAL PHILOSOPHY OF CHRIST. 381
if there is one principle laid down by the Master that is more clearly defined than any other, it is contained in his declaration, so often repeated, that faith beliefis the one essential condition precedent to the continued life of the soul after the death of the body; and that, in the absence of belief in immortality, the soul itself will necessarily perish. That this was his doctrine, literally interpreted, no one will deny. That he meant exactly what he said, I shall attempt to show. That his declarations to that effect were statements of a scientific truth, I shall attempt to demonstrate by the process of inductive reasoning from facts known to modern science.
Before proceeding with the main argument, I hasten to say that the doctrine of future rewards and punishments will be left untouched. That question will stand just where it has always stood, for each one to decide for himself according to his own interpretation of the Scriptures on that point, or his own sense of Divine Justice. I shall not even attempt to destroy the comfort and consolation which many good persons seem to derive from their belief in eternal fire. My only object is to show, from a purely scientific standpoint, that the history and essential doctrines of Jesus are confirmed by the facts and necessary inductions of modern science, and, incidentally, to harmonize certain passages of the New Testament which, through misinterpretation, have seemed to be at variance.
According to the Gospel of Saint John, the first declaration by Jesus of his doctrine of immortality was made to Nicodemus in the following words :
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up :
" That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
" For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."1
1 John iii. 14-16.