« 上一頁繼續 »
ON THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL...
AMONG 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 writ- ten 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 improvements to all eter- nity, 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 endowmen's 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-astand in her accomplishments, were her faculties to be fuli blown, and incapable of farther enlargements, I'conld imagine it would 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 improvement, and travelling on from perfection to perfection, afterhaving just looked abroad into the works of her Creator, and made a few discoveries of his infinite goodness, wisdom, and power, must perish at her first setting out, and in the very beginning of her inquiries?
Man, considered in his present state, seems only sent into the world to propagate his kind. He provides himself with a successor, and immediately quits his post to
make room for him.
He does not sem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This is not surprising to consider in animals, which are formed for our use, and can finish their business in a short life. The silk-worm, after having spun her task, lays her eggs and dies. But in this life, man can
never take in his full measure of knowledge; nor has he time to subdue his passions, establish his soul in virtue, and come up to the perfection of his nature, before he is hurried off the stage. Would an infinitely wise Being make such glorious creatures for so mean a purpose? Can he delight in the production of such abortive intelligences, such short-lived reasonable beings? Would he give us talents that are not to be exerted? Capacities that are never to be gratified? How can we find that wisdom which shines through all his works, in the formation of man, without looking on this world as only a nursery for the next, and believing that the several generations of rational creatures, which rise up and disappear in such quick succession, are only to receive their first rudiments of existence here, and afterward to be transplanted into a more friendly climate, where they may spread and flourish to all eternity?
There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion, than this of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine for ever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nav, 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 superion That cherub, which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human scul 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 that, 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.
With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our 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 reserve for him. The soul, considered in relation to its Creator, is like one of those mathematical lines, that may draw nearer to another for all eternity without a possibility of touching it and can there be a thought so transporting, as to consider ourselves in these perpetual approaches to Him, who is not only the standard of fection, but of happiness?
ON THE BEING OF A GOD.
RETIRE; -The world shut out;
-Thy thoughts call
Imagination's airy wing repress :~~
Lock up thy senses;-Let no passion stir ;--
Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth
What am I? and from whence?-I nothing know,
Grant matter was eternal: still these orbs
That can't be from themselves-or man; that art
To dance, would form an universe of dust.
Has matter none? Then whence these glorious forms,
ORATIONS AND HARANGUES.
JUNIUS BRUTUS OVER THE DEAD BODY OF LUCRETIA.
Yes, noble lady, I swear by this blood, which was once so pure, and which nothing but royal villany could have polJuted, that I will pursue Lucius Tarquinius the proud, his wicked wife, and their children, with fire and sword: nor will I ever suffer any of that family, or of any other whatsoever, to be king in Rome. Ye gods, I call you to wit-ness this my oath! There, Romans, turn your eyes to that sad spectacle-the daughter of Lucretius, Collatinus wife-she died by her own hand. See there a noble lady, whom the lust of a Tarquin reduced to the necessity of being her own executioner, to attest her innocence. Hospitably entertained by her as a kinsman of her hus band's, Sextus, the perfidious guest, became her brutal ravisher. The chaste, the generous Lucretia, could not survive the insult. Glorious woman! But once only. treated as a slave, she thought life no longer to be endured.. Lucretia, a woman, disdaining a life that depended on a tyrant's will; and shall we, shall men, with such an example before our eyes, and after five-and-twenty years ignominious servitude, shall we,. through a fear of dying, defer one single instant to assert our liberty! No, Romans, now is the time; the favourable moment we have so long waited for is come. Tarquin is not at Rome. The Patricians are at the head of the enterprise. The city