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the birth of primitive religions at the awakening of human reason,- à cause lying behind the unrent veil, an inherent desire for immortality, a profound aspiration.
Upon this attribute, dimly discerned, faintly felt, feebly manifested, man reared such rude systems as his environment enabled him to evolve.
These conceptions did not carry Ingalls into the hopeless fields of materialism. Beyond the position that our knowledge is not sufficient to warrant any definite determination of the supreme problems of man's existence here he did not go. Standing back in that era of "the awakening of human reason” to which this process carried him, he could see what our progenitors, for want of human experience, could not discern, - the wrecks of numberless systems abandoned along the course over which mankind had taken way. Seeing these, he realized the futility of formulating metaphysical schemes.
To sustain his "profound aspiration" to immortality he, like Plato, had recourse to reason. “Inasmuch,” he says, “as both force and matter are infinite and indestructible, and can neither be added to nor subtracted from, it follows that in some form we have always existed, and that we shall continue in some form to exist forever.”
This lacks only the principle of evolution to constitute a basis for endless progress. But this essential he seems to reject. “Evolution, metempsychosis, reincarnation, are not beliefs. They are parts of speech, interesting only to the compiler of lexicons."
His strongest terms of disapprobation became a confession to lack of knowledge. He did not deny nor condemn,- his position forbade that. He did not know. Beyond that he could never go. “Whence we came into this life no one knows," he exclaims. Perhaps the most definite and confident utterance of Ingalls on this point is to be found in his oration delivered in the Senate on the death of Senator Hill, of Georgia. He was then at the zenith of his intellectual power, and what he said in that period of his life must be regarded as his settled conviction:
Ben Hill has gone to the undiscovered country.
Whether his journey thither was but one step across an imperceptible frontier, or whether an interminable ocean, black, unfluctuating, and voiceless, stretches between these earthly coasts and those invisible shores we do not know.
Whether on that August morning after death he saw a more glorious sun rise with unimaginable splendor above a celestial horizon, or whether his apathetic and unconscious ashes still sleep in cold obstruction and insensible oblivion -- we do not know.
Whether his strong and subtle energies found instant exercise in another forum; whether his dexterous and disciplined faculties are now contending in a higher Senate than ours for supremacy; or whether his powers were dissipated and dispersed with his parting breath — we do not know.
Whether his passions, ambitions, and affections still sway, attract, and impel; whether he yet remembers us as we remember him · we do not know.
These are the unsolved, the insoluble problems of mortal life and human destiny, which prompted the troubled patriarch to ask that momentous question for which the centuries have given no answer: “If a man die, shall he live again ?”
Every man is the center of a circle whose fatal circumference he cannot pass. Within its narrow confines he is potential, beyond it he perishes; and if immortality be a splendid but delusive dream, if the incompleteness of every career, even the longest and most fortunate, be not supplemented and perfected after its termination here, then he who dreads to die should fear to live, for life is a tragedy more desolate and inexplicable than death.
These principles were reiterated by Ingalls less than four months before his death in his article —“The Immortality of the Soul”. That he died immovable in their truth there can be no doubt.
Of Jesus of Nazareth, Ingalls said, “He is the central character of human destiny, the one colossal figure of human history.” But in this he is not to be understood as subscribing to the plan of redemption of souls said by His followers to have been proclaimed by Him. Rather, His teachings are to more and more prove the germs from which political progress and higher civilization must develop.
The central idea of Christianity, as now promulgated, is the resurrection. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain," wrote Paul to the Corinthians, and, he continues, "they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” he warns the worldly-minded. “I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die,” wrote the Beloved Disciple. The resurrection of the dead, as held by the Church, rests mainly on the utterances of the great apostle to the Gentiles. But for himself, Ingalls swept this away with a stroke of his pen,—“Saint Paul, the greatest of the teachers of Christianity, could only respond by a misleading analogy. He knew the wheat which is reaped is not that which is sown. The harvest is a succession, not a resurrection.”
But even here Ingalls did not lapse into the despair of atheism. Writing to his father of the death of his son Addison, he said: "His sweet soul vanished into the Unknown. Yesterday beneath the clear sky that brooded above us like a covenant of peace, we laid him to sleep beside his sister, to wait the solution of the great mystery of existence when earth and sea shall give up their dead. That I may meet him again in the great Hereafter is a profound aspiration rather than a living faith, but if eternity will