ePub 版



[ocr errors]

Among other excellent arguments for the immortality of the sul, there is one drawn from the perpetual progressof ihe soul !o is perfectivn, without a possibility of ever : arriving at it;. which is a hint lhat I ilo 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 pes. fections, 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 i 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-a: stand in her acconiplishments, were her faculties to be full blown, anit incapable of further enlargements, I contul imagine it would fall away insensibly, and drop at once into a staie of annihilation. Bui can we believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of improvement, and travelling on from : perfection to perfection, after having just looked abroad into the works of her Creator, and made a few discoveries of his infinite goodness, ,wisdomi, and power, . must perish at her first setting ont, 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 seem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This is not surprising to consider in ani. mals, which are formed for our use, and ran finish their business in a short life. The silk-worm, afrer having spun her task, lays her eggs and dies. But in this life, man can

never take in his full measure of knowleilge; nor has lie time to subdue his passions, establish his soul ii virtue, and come up to the perfection of his nature, before he is hurried off the stage. Woulil an infinitely wise Being make such glorious creatures for sy mean a purpose? Can he delight in the production of such abortive intelligences, such short-live:l reasonable beings? Would be give us ialents that are not to be exerted? Capacities that are never to be gratifird. How can we fiard that wis loin which shines through all his works, in the formation of man, without looking on this world as only a nursery for the nexi, and beħieving that the several generalions 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 eterniiy:

There is no, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion, than this of the perpetual progress which ihe sout inakes 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, 10 consider that she is to shine for ever with new acçtssions of glory, and brighten to all virrnity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledige to knowledge ; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to thit ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see bis 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 perfectio 1, will be sufficient to extinguish all envy in inferior natures, and all contempt in superior That cherub, which now appears as a God to a buman soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternitv, when the human scul shall be as perfect as he himself now is : pay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection, as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the ier nature still advances, and by that aneans 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 rela. tion io 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

perfection, but of happiness?




Retire;- - The world shut out; Thy thoughts call

Imagination's airy wing repress :-
Lock up thy senses;-Let no passion stir;
Wake all to reason-let her reign alone;-
Then, in thy soul's deep silence, and the depth
Of Nature's silence, inidnight, thus inquire :-

What am I ? and from whence?-I nothing know,
But that I am; and, since I am, conclude
Something eternal: had there e'er been nought,
Nought still had been :. eternal there must be.
But what elerual?-_Why not human race;.
And ADAM's ancestors without an end?
That's hard to be conceiv'd; since ev'ry link
Of that long chain'd succession is so frail:
Can every part depend, and not the whole ?
Yet grant it true ; new difficulties rise;
I'm still quite out at sea ; nor see the shore.
Whence carih, and these bright orbsi Eternal too!--

Grant matter was elernal: still these orbs
Would want some other Father : much design
Is seen in all their motions, all their makes;
Design implies intelligence, and art :
That can't be from themselves-or man; that art
Man scarce can comprehend, could man bestow ?
And nothing greater, yet allow'd, ihan man.--
Who motion, foreign to the smallest grain,
Shot through yast masses of enormous weight?
Who bid rudé matier's restive lump assure
Such various forms, and gave ir wings to fly?
Has matter innate motion? Then each atom,
Asserting its indisputable right
To dance, would form an universe of dust.
Has matter none? Thea whence these glorious forms,
And boundless flights, from shapeless, and repos'd?
Has matter more than motion ?

Has it thought,
Judgment, and genius? Is it deeply, learn'd
In mathematics? Has it fram' such laws,
Which, but to guess, a Newton made immortal ?
If art, to form; and counsel to conduct;
And that with greater farthan human skill,
Reside not in each block; --a GODHEAD reigns,
And, if a GOD there is, that GOD bow great!


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]



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 what.. soever, to be king in Rome. Ye gods, I call you to witness this my oath !-- There, Romans; turn your eyes to that sad spectacle the daughter of Lucretius, Collalinuga wife-she died by her own hand. See there a noble lady, whom the lust of a Tarquin reduce to the necessity of being her own executioner, to atlest her innocence. Hospitably entertained by her as a kinsman of her husband'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 en:Jured.. Lucretia, a woman, disdaining a life that depended on a tyrant's will; and shall we, shall men, with such an.ex. ample before our eyes, and after five-and-tweniy years of 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

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »