That vital, immaterial, active substance, or principle, in man, whereby he perceives, remembers, reasons, and wills. It is rather to be described as to its operations, than to be defined as to its essence. Various, indeed, have been the opinions of philosophers concerning its substance. The Epicureans thought it a subtile air, composed of atoms, or primitive corpuscles. The Stoics maintained it was a flame, or portion of heavenly light. The Cartesians make thinking the essence of the soul. Some hold that man is endowed with three kinds of soul, viz. the rational, which is purely spiritual, and infused by the immediate inspiration of God: the irrational or sensitive, which being common to man and brutes, is supposed to be formed of the elements: and, lastly, the vegetative soul, or principle of growth and nutrition, as the first is of understanding, and the second of animal life.
The rational soul is simple, uncompounded, and immaterial, not composed of matter and form; for matter can never think and move of itself as the soul does. In the fourth volume of the Memoirs of the Literacy and Philosophical Society of Manchester, the reader will find a very valuable paper, by Dr. Ferrier, proving by evidence apparently complete, that every part of the brain has been injured without affecting the act of thought. It will be difficult for any man to peruse this without being convinced that the modern theory of the Materialists is shaken from its very foundation.
The immortality of the soul may be argued from its vast capacities, boundless desires, great improvements, dissatisfaction with the present state, and desire of some kind of religion. It is also argued from the consent of all nations; the consciousness that men have of sinning; the sting of conscience; the justice and providence of God. How far these arguments are conclusive I will not say; but the safest, and, in fact, the only sure ground to go upon to prove this doctrine is the word of God, where we at once see it clearly established, Matt. 10:28. Matt. 25:46. Dan. 12:2. 2 Tim. 1:10. 1 Thess. 4:17, 18. John 10:28.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.