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Old Age, supersedes the necessity of quoting any thing more from the Ancients, on the great subject before us. . Cyrus Major, on his death-bed, thus spake: * " Think not, my dear children, that when I depart “ from you at Death, I shall be Nowhere, or Nothing. “ For, while I even lived with you, my Soul was " not seen by you; yet that it existed in the Body,. " you might perceive and understand, from those acts " and things, in which you saw me employed. You " ought therefore to believe the same after my death, " if you see nothing more of the Soul, than you did k" before: Nor would any honours be paid to the * memories of illustrious men after death, if theit « Souls had not meditated and achieved something, 6+ worthy of endearing their Memory to Posterity! . " For my part, I never could be persuaded to “ think, that the Souls of Men, when hid in mortal 66 bodies, could Live; and that when released from
them they should Die, or become nothing; nor * can I be persuaded that the Soul should then be. " come [insipient]Foolish or Sottish, when it escapes “ from a foolish, sottish, or insipient Body*; but, B6 on the contrary, that when liberated from all cor. “ poreal mixture, it then begins to be pure, integral, " and sapient."--So far Cyrus.
Cicero, now proceeds to deliver his own divine Sentiments.
“ No man, my dear Scipio, shall ever persuade me, either that your Father Paulus, your two Grand.
" Tum animum esse insipientem, cum ex insipienti corpore eva. sisset."
fathers, Paulus and Africanus, or the Father of Africanus, or many excellent men, whose names I need not enumerate, would have meditated, or achieved those great things, the memory of which is for the interest of Posterity, if they had not been animated with the belief that Posterity belonged to them. Or do you think, (if after the manner of old men, I may be allowed to boast a little of myself) do you think, I say, that I would have undertaken, or endured, such Labours, by Night and by Day, in Peace and War, at home and abroad, if I had believed that my Name and Glory would have the same Termination with my Life? Would it not have been better, in this case, to have led an easy and quiet Life, without any Labour, Strife or Contention? But I know not how it is the Soul, spurning and flying, as it were, from Inactivity, expands and erects herself in pride, grasps posterity and the future; presaging that she shall then only begin to live, when she escapes from the Life that now is! And if it was not so, that Souls are immortal, we should hardly see that the Souls of all the best of men, are striving or struggling most for the acquisition of immortal glory!
" Whence, otherwise is it, that everyone, amongst the wisest of men, is seen to Die with the easiest and most undisturbed mind; whilst those amongst the foolish, and the least given to reflection, die with the most inequal and disturbed mind? Does it not appear to you, that the Soul which discerns most and at the greatest distance, perceives itself proceeding, or approaching towards the acquirement of better things; but that the Soul whose
edge is blunter and more dull, perceives nothing of this ? Indeed, my Scipio, I am transported with the mighty desire of seeing again your ancestors, whom I loved and courted—nor themonly should I rejoice to meet, whom I myself knew; but those also of whom I have heard, or read, or have written concerning them; and when I shall be called by Death to begin my journey, no one shall easily stop me, or arrest my progress. Nay, if some God was bountifully to offer me, that from my present age, I should grow young again, and wail in the cradle, I would reject the boon with all my might. For what has life of any great advantage? Nay, rather, what has it that belongs not to Labour and Toil?-But it is not for me to deplore my lot in life, as many, and those even learned men, have done. I do not repent that I have lived, and so lived, that I cannot esteem myself to have been born in vain; and I can depart from this world, as from an Inn or Lodging-place; and not as from a settled Abode or Dwelling-place.
« Oh! happy and propitious day, when I shall begin my journey, to join that divine company, or " assembly of Souls, who are above; and shall depart “ from the filthy croud or mob of this life;—when I « shall join not only those illustrious men spoken of --* before, but also my beloved Cato; than whom a “ better or more excellent man was never born.“ I lamented his death, (and paid all the honours in “ my power to his ashes). His body I committed “ to the funeral Pile; which, for his usefulness, He, « alas! ought to have lived, to have done by mine. “ Yet his Soul did not forsake me, but keeping me “ still in view, his departure was to those abodes, to .« which he perceived I was soon to follow. I bore " the affliction, as to outward appearance, patiently * and with the magnanimity that became my charac. “ ter; although inwardly the pangs of separation were • severely felt; but I consoled myself with the be. “ lief that our separation was not to any great dis" tance, and would not continue long; but that we “ should shortly and happily meet again.”
It is by reflections such as these, my dear friends, that I make my Old Age sit easy and light upon me; and not only disarm it of every thing that would give mental pain, but render it even sweet and delightful-And if I am mistaken, or err in my belief of the Soul's Immortality, it is a pleasing Error; nor, while I live, shall I suffer any man easily to undeceive me, or wrest an opinion from me, that yields me so solid a comfort, and a satisfaction so durable.-And if it be, when I am Dead (as some minute Philosophers imagine), that I am deprived of all perception and sensation; I am safe in this, that, beyond the Grave, these little Philosophists will have no opportunity to laugh at my Credulity. For whether immortal or not, and whatever is to be our future condition; it is proper and even desirable, that as nature has produced nothing that is permanent, and has set limits to all her works, the frail body of man should drop back into the dust, from whence it was gathered. It is moreover proper* " that as the whole course of
* The passage in italics, as well as some others are from a transla-ion of the learned James Logan, Esq. made 60 years ago, printed by benjamin Franklin, at Philadelphia, in the year 1744; who informis us in the Preface, that “ Mr. Logan, (in the 60th year of his age, which was about the age of Cicero when he wrote his book), undertook the translation, partly for his own amusement, but principally for the entertainment of a neighbour, then in his grand Climacteric ; and, that the notes were drawn up solely on that neighbour's account, who was not so well acquainted as himself with the Roman History and Language. Some other friends, however, continnes Mr. Franklin, (among whom I had the honour to be ranked), obtained copies of it in MS. and as I believed it to be in itself equal at least, if not far superior to any other translation of the same piece (then) extant in our language, besides the advantage it has of so many valuable notes, which, (at the same time that they clear up the "Text,) are highly instructive and entertaining.--I resolved to give it an impression, in a large and fair Character, that those who begin to think on the subject of Old-Age, (which seldon happens till their Sight is somewhat impaired by its approaches) may not, in Reading, by the Pain which small I etters give the eyes, feel the Pleasure of the Mind int the least allayed."
Life but too much resembles a Farce, of which Old Age is the last act,” we should not top fondly press forward, when we have had enough of it, but prudently retire, without making a Fatigue of what we should endeavour to make only an entertainment,
“Thus far I have written concerning Old Age, to which I wish you may all arrive, that your own Experience may justify, what you have heard from me!”
If St. Paul had stood in need of any aid from the Philosophy of those who knew not the True God, as was suggested before, this book of Cicero de Senef. tute, would have been a treasure to him. But he wanted no such aid. His arguments on the Resurrection of the Body from the Grave, rest on a more solid foundation than the guesses and presages of natural Reason, unenlightened by divine Revelation; namely, the proofs and certainty of Christ's own Re surrection*. Besides the Apostle's reasonings on the
* See St. Matthew, Chap. XXVIII; with the Arguments and Proofs of Christian Writers, such as West and LITTLETON, DITTON, &c.