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intend these words as a direct proof of the immortality of the soul in a separate state, but as an argument to prove
the resurrection of the body; which is a doctrine near akin, and closely connected with the former. For that great restoration is added as an instance of the superabundance and immensity of the Divine goodness, whose pleasure it is, that not only the better and more divine part of man, which, upon its return to its original Source, is, without the body, capable of enjoying a perfectly happy and eternal life, should have a glorious immortality, but also that this earthly tabernacle, as being the faithful attendant and constant companion of the soul through all its toils and labours in this world, be also admitted to a share and participation of its heavenly and eternal felicity; that so, according to our Lord's expression, every faithful soul may have returned into its bosom, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Luke vi. 38.
Let our belief of this immortality be founded entirely on Divine Revelation, and then, like a city fortified with a rampart of earth drawn round it, let it be outwardly guarded and defended by reason; which, in this case, suggests arguments as strong and convincing as the subject will admit of. If any one, in the present case, promises demonstration, his undertaking is certainly too much ; if he desires or expects it from another, he requires too much. There are, indeed, very few demonstrations in philosophy, if you except mathematical sciences, that can be truly and strictly so called, and, if we inquire narrowly into the matter, perhaps we shall find none at all: nay, if even the mathematical demonstrations are examined by the strict rules and ideas of Aristotle, the greatest part of them will be found imperfect and defective. The saying of that philosopher is, therefore, wise and applicable to
many cases: “Demonstrations are not to be expected in all cases, but so far as the subject will admit of them*." But, if we were well acquainted with the nature and essence of the soul, or
* Ουκ εν πάσιν αποδείξεις αιτήσεων, αλλ' εφ' όσον δέχεται το υποκείμενον. :
even its precise method of operation on the body, it is highly probable we could draw from thence evident and undeniable demonstrations of that immortality which we are now asserting: whereas, so long as the mind of man is so little acquainted with its own nature, we must not expect any such.
But that unquenchable thirst of the soul, which we have already mentioned, is a strong proof of its Divine nature ; a thirst not to be allayed with the impure and turbid waters of any earthly good, or of all worldly enjoyments taken together. It thirsts after the never-failing Fountain of good, according to that of the Psalmist, As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks: it thirsts after a good, invisible, immaterial, and immortal, to the enjoyment whereof the ministry of a body is so far from being absolutely necessary, that it feels itself shut up and confined by that to which it is now united, as by a partition-wall, and groans under the pressure of it. And those souls that are quite insensible of this thirst, are certainly buried in the body, as in the carcass of an impure hog; nor have they so entirely divested themselves of this appetite we have mentioned, nor can they possibly so divest themselves of it, as not to feel it severely, to their great misery, sooner or later, either when they awake out of their lethargy within the body, or when they are obliged to leave it. To conclude: Nobody, I believe, will deny, that we are to form our judgment of the true nature of the human mind, not from the slothi and stupidity of the most degenerate and vilest of men, but from the sentiments and fervent desires of the best and wisest of the species.
These sentiments concerning the immortality of the soul in its future existence, not only include no impossibility or absurdity in them, but are also every way agreeable to sound reason, wisdom, and virtue, to the Divine economy, and the natural wishes and desires of men. Wherefore, most nations have, with the greatest reason, universally adopted them, and the wisest in all countries and in all ages, have cheerfully embraced them; and though they could not confirm them with
any argument of irresistible force, yet they felt something within them that corresponded with this doctrine, and always looked upon it as most beautiful and worthy of credit.
66 Nobody,” says Atticus in Cicero, “shall drive me from the immortality of the soul*.” And Seneca's words are, “I took pleasure to inquire into the eternity of the soul, and even, indeed, to believe it. I resigned myself to so glorious an hope, for now I begin to despise the remains of a broken constitution, as being to remove into that immensity of time, and into the possession of endless agest.” O how much does the soul gain by this removal !
As for you, young gentlemen, I doubt not but you will embrace this doctrine, not only as agreeable to reason, but as it is an article of the Christian faith. I only put you in mind to revolve it often within yourselves, and with a serious disposition of mind ; for you will find it the strongest incitement to wisdom, good morals, and true piety. Nor can you imagine any thing that will more effectually divert you from a foolish admiration of present and perishing things, and from the allurements and sordid pleasures of this earthly body. . Consider, I pray you, how unbecoming it is, to make a heavenborn soul, that is to live for ever, a slave to the meanest, vilest, and most trifling things; and, as it were to thrust down to the kitchen a prince that is obliged to leave his country only for a short time. St. Bernard pathetically addresses himself to the body in favour of the soul, persuading it to treat the latter honourably, not only on account of its dignity, but also for the advantage that will thereby redound to the body itself: “ Thou hast a noble guest, О flesh! a most noble one indeed, and all thy safety depends upon its salvation; it will certainly remember thee for good, if thou serve it well : and when it
* Me nemo de immortalitate depellet.
of Juvabat de æternitate animarum quærere, imo mehercule credere : dabam me spei tantæ, jam enim reliquias infractæ ætatis contemnebam, in immensum illud tempus, et in possessionem omnis ævi transiturus. Sen. Epis. 102.
him * "
comes to its Lord, it will put him in mind of thee, and the mighty God himself will come to make thee, who art now a vile body, like unto his glorious one; and, O wretched flesh, He who came in humility and obscurity to redeem souls, will come in great majesty to glorify thee, and every eye shall see
Be mindful, therefore, young gentlemen, of your better part, and accustom it to think of its own eternity, always and every where having its eyes fixed upon that world to which it is most nearly related. And thus it will look down, as from on high, on all those things which the world considers as lofty and exalted, and will see them under its feet ; and of all the things which are confined within the narrow verge of this present life, it will have nothing to desire, and nothing to fear.
Of the Happiness of the Life to come.
Of all the thoughts of men, there is certainly none that more often occur to a serious mind that has its own interest at heart, than that to which all others are subordinate and subservient, with regard to the intention, the ultimate and most desirable end, of all our toils and cares, and even of life itself. And this important thought will the more closely beset the mind, the more sharp-sighted it is in prying into the real torments, the delusive hopes, and the false joys of this our wretched state; which is indeed so miserable, that it can never be sufficiently lamented; and as for laughter amidst so many sorrows, dangers and fears, it must be considered as downright mad
Such was the opinion of the wisest of kings: I have
* Nobilem hospitem habes, 0 caro! nobilem valde, et tota tua salus de ejus salute pendet : omnino etiam memor erit tui in bonum, si bene servieris illi ; et cum pervenerit ad Dominum suum, suggeret ei de te, et veniet ipse Dominus virtutum, et te vile corpus configurabit corpori suo glorioso, qui ad animas redimendas humilis ante venerat, et occultus, pro te glorificando, O misera caro, sublimis veniet et manifestus.
said of laughter, says he, It is mad, and of mirth, What doth it? Eccl. ii. 2. We have, therefore, no cause to be much surprised at the bitter complaints which a grievous weight of afflictions has extorted, even from great and good men : nay, it is rather a wonder, if the same causes do not often obligé us to
If we look about us, how often are we shocked to observe either the calamities of our country, or the sad disasters of our relations and friends, whom we have daily occasion to mourn, either as groaning under the pressure of poverty, pining away under languishing diseases, tortured by acute ones, or carried off by death, while we ourselves are, in like manner very soon to draw tears from the eyes of others ! Nay, how often are we a burden to ourselves, and groan heavily under afflictions of our own,
our estates, our bodies, or our minds! Even those who seem to meet with the fewest and the least inconveniencies in this life, and dazzle the eyes of spectators with the brightness of a seemingly constant and uniform felicity, besides that they often suffer from secret vexations and cares which destroy their inward peace, and prey upon their distressed hearts, how uncertain, weak, and brittle is that false happiness which appears about them, and, when it shines brightest, how easily is it broken to pieces! So that it has been justly said, “ They want another felicity to secure that which they are already possessed of *.” If, after all, there are some whose minds are hardened against all the forms and appearances of external things, and who look down with equal contempt upon all the events of this world, whether of a dreadful or an engaging aspect, even this disposition of mind does not make them happy: nor do they think themselves so; they have still something to make them uneasy, the obscure darkness that overspreads their minds, their ignorance of heavenly things, and the strength of their carnal affections, not yet entirely subdued. And though these we are now speaking of, are by far the noblest and most beautiful part of the human
* Alia felicitate ad illam felicitatem tuendam opus est,