Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

bodies, one after another; and that these surfaces or thin cases that included each other whilst they were joined in the body like the coats of an onion, are sometimes seen entire when they are separated from it; by which means we often behold the shapes and shadows of persons who are either dead or absent.'1

[ocr errors]

I shall dismiss this paper with a story out of Josephus,' not so much for the sake of the story itself, as for the moral reflections with which the author concludes it, and which I shall here set down in his own words. 'Glaphyra, the daughter of King Archilaus, after the death of her two first husbands (being married to a third, who was brother to her first husband, and so passionately in love with her that he turned off his former wife to make room for this marriage) had a very odd kind of dream. She fancied that she saw her first husband coming towards her, and that she embraced him with great tenderness; when, in the midst of the pleasure which she expressed at the sight of him, he reproached her after the following manner: Glaphyra, says he, thou hast made good the old saying, that women are not to be trusted. Was not I the husband of thy virginity? Have I not children

[ocr errors]

thee? How couldst thou forget our loves so far as to enter into a second marriage, and after that into a third; nay, to take for thy husband a man who has so shamelessly crept into the bed of his brother? However, for the sake of our passed loves, I shall free thee from thy present reproach, and make thee mine for ever. Glaphyra told this dream to several women of her acquaintance, and died soon after. I thought this story might not be impertinent in this place, wherein I speak of those kings: besides that, the example deserves to be taken notice of, as it con $ains a most certain proof of the immortality of the soul, and of

1 Lucretius de natura rerum. iv. 34.-C.
2 Ant. Jud. lib. xvii. cap. xv. sec. 4, 5.—C.

divine providence him enjoy his opinion to himself; but let him not endeavour to disturb the belief of others, who by instances of this nature are excited to the study of virtue." L

If any man thinks these facts incredible, let

No. 111. SATURDAY, JULY 7.

Inter silvas Academi quærere verum.

HOR. II. Ep. 2. 45.

To search for truth in academic groves.

THE Course of my last speculation led me insensibly into a subject upon which I always meditate with great delight; I mean the immortality of the soul. I was yesterday walking alone in one of my friend's woods, and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I was running over in my mind the several arguments that establish this great point, which is the basis of morality, and the source of all the pleasing hopes and secret joys that can arise in the heart of a reasonable creature. I consider those several proofs drawn:

First, From the nature of the soul itself, and particularly its immateriality; which though not absolutely necessary to the eternity of its duration, has, I think, been evinced to almost demonstration.

Secondly, From its passions and sentiments, as particularly from its love of existence, its horror of annihilation, and its hopes of immortality, with that secret satisfaction which it finds in the practice of virtue, and that uneasiness which follows in it upon the commission of vice.

Thirdly, From the nature & the Supreme Being, whose jus

tice, goodness, wisdom, and veracity, are all concerned in this great point.

But among these and other excellent arguments for the immortality of the soul, there is one drawn from the perpetual progress of the soul to its perfection, without a possibility of ever arriving at it; which is a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved by others who have written on this subject, though it seems to me to carry a great weight with it. How can it enter into the thoughts of man, that the soul, which is capable of such immense perfections, and of receiving new im provements to all eternity, shall fall away into nothing almost as soon as it is created? Are such abilities made for no purpose ? A brute arrives at a point of perfection that he can never pass: in a few years he has all the endowments he is capable of; and were he to live ten thousand more, would be the same thing he is at present. Were a human soul thus at a stand in her accomplishments, were her faculties to be full blown, and incapable of further enlargements, I could imagine it might fall away insensibly, and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we

believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of im provements, and travelling on from perfection to perfection, after having just looked abroad into the works of its Creator, and made a few discoveries of his infinite goodness,

er, must perish at her first setting out, and in

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]

agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation for ever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing nearer to him, by greater degrees of resemblance.

Methinks this single consideration, of the progress of a finite spirit to perfection, will be sufficient to extinguish all envy in inferior natures, and all contempt in superior. That Cherubim which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is: nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection, as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being; but he knows, how high soever the station is of which he stands possessed at present, the inferior nature will at length mount up to it, and shine forth in the same degree of glory.

В

With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our own souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection? We know not yet what we shall be, nor will it ever enter into the heart of man to conceive the glory that will be always in reservesfor him. The soul considered with its Creator, is like one

matical lines that may draw nearer to

without a possibility of touching it

so transporting, as to consider o

[graphic]
« VorigeDoorgaan »