Page images

is so far from completely satisfying him, that it has only increased his capacity to contain, and his desire to possess more and more.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing, nor the spirit with knowing, thinking, feeling, and enjoying ; but whatever we may acquire, there remains an undefinable, irrepressible longing for something higher, better, nobler, yea infinite and eternal.

We shall ground another argument in our favour, on the universality of the belief by the wise and good in all ages and countries. "Conscience uninfluenced tells every man there is a hereafter." Apart from those countries that have been favoured by the light of revelation, there has been a tradi. tionary recognition of the doctrine in question in the minds of all peoples and nations, savage and civilized, in all ages and parts of the world. It was so in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; it is so still amongst the Hindoos, the North American Indians, and the South Sea Islanders. That it exists in a crude form, such as the transmigration of the soul, and the gross corporeal paradise of the Mahometans, we admit; but there it is, and, generally speaking, only those have doubted or denied it, who dared not be immortal on account of their irreligion, immorality, and vice. Centuries before the Christian era, thus


Homer :

"When life the body leaves,
No more the substance of the man remains,
Nor bounds the blood along the purple veins ;
These the funereal flames in atoms bear
To wander with the wind in empty air,
Whilst the impressive soul reluctant flies,
Like a vain dream, to these infernal skies."

-Odyssey, bk, ix.
The following are the strains of Virgil :-

"Here patriots live, who for their country's good,

In fighting fields were prodigal of blood;

Priests of unblernished lives here make abode,
And poets worthy their inspiring God;
And searching wits of more mechanic parts,
Who graced their age with new invented arts :
Those who to worth their bounty did extend,
And those who knew that bounty to commend;
The heads of those with holy fillets bound,
And all their temples were with garlands crowned.”

-Æneid, bk. vi. The elder Cyrus, just before his death, is represented by Xenophon speaking after this manner: “Think not, my dearest children, that when I depart from you I shall be no more; but remember that my soul, even while I lived among you, was invisible to you; yet by my actions you were sensible it cxisted in this body. Believe it, therefore, existing still, though it still be unseen. How quickly would the honours of illustrious men perish after death, if their souls performed nothing to preserve their fame? For my own part, I could never think that the soul, while in a mortal body, lives; but when departed out of it, dies; or that its consciousness is lost when it is discharged out of an unconscious habitation. But when it is freed from all corporeal alliance, then it truly exists. Further, since the human frame is broken by death, tell us what becomes of its parts? It is visible whither the materials of other beings are translated, namely, to the source from whence they had their birth. The soul alone, neither present nor departed, is the object of our eyes.”

“ This,” says Cato, “is my firm persuasion, that since the human soul exerts itself with so great activity, since it has such a remembrance of the past, such a concern for the future, since it is enriched by so many arts, sciences and discoveries, it is impossible but that the being which contains all those must be immortal."

The following is the language which Addison causes Cato to give utterance to :

**The soul, secured in her existence, smiles

At the drawn dagger, and defies its point!
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years ;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds."

ADDISON's Cato. The following by Menu, is worthy of our own enlightened age: he says, “Single is each man born, single he dies, single he receives the reward of his good, and single the punishment of his evil deeds." "When he leaves his corpse, like a log or a lump of clay, on the ground, his kindred retire with averted faces; but his virtue accompanies his soul." "Continually, therefore, by degrees, let him collect virtue for the sake of obtaining an inseparable companion, since with virtue for his guide he will traverse a gloom how hard to be traversed.”

Now, there must be something in the nature of things to cause this doctrine to linger in the minds of men in the absence of revelation; and perhaps the chief reason it has been so fondly entertained by the wise and good is, its being so well calculated to suppress vice, and because it is so encouraging to the cultivation of the mental faculties and the constant practice of virtue. Never was reason terribly outraged, never were human passions more awfully rampant and violent, than when the citizens of Paris wrote over the gateway of their cemetery, "Death here is an eternal sleep!"

"O argument for truth divine,
For study's cares, and virtue's strife ;
To know the enjoyment will be mine,

In that reserved, that endless life.” We argue, it is needful for the soul to be immortal, in order to justify the ways of divine providence, and to explain the enigma of human life. In looking over the history of nations, of families, and of individuals, not only do we find much that is mar


vellous to our minds, but much that is darkly mysterious and difficult, yea sometimes impossible for us to reconcile with the divine goodness, wisdom and justice. We allow that it is good in a probationary state, and especially in the present position of human nature, that man's lot should be a strange intermingling of sunshine and showers, light and darkness, flowers and thorns, bitter and sweet, good and evil; but how frequently are we perplexed and prostrated to see the holy and pure laid in the dust, whilst evil and iniquity proudly stalk forth victoriously triumphant. To say nothing of the origin of moral evil, and the moral and religious aspect of the world, from nearly the commencement of time down to the present moment; yet how perfectly past our comprehension the existence of the world's Pharoahs, Neros, Claverhouses, and Jeffries, men who have been allowed to act directly contrary to nature and to God, to practice the most barbarous cruelties on the innocent and unoffending, and to retard for centuries the progress of civilisation, humanity, and religion.

Who can fathom the mystery of the long reign of ignorance and superstition, with their black catalogue of wreaking crimes ?-of slavery with its heartless wrongs, and galling oppressions ;-of war, with its dreadful carnage, and “garments rolled in blood," its widowed wives and orphaned children, its scalding tears and withered hearts?

We grant that frequently we are permitted to see unmistakeable proofs of a retributive Providence, but the full measure of retribution can only be awarded in a future state. The secret wrongs, the private injuries, the domestic sufferings imposed by the evil, and known to none save the patient, cowed, enduring victim, can only be fully redressed at the bar of the Almighty.

How many have fallen never to rise, the victims of the foulest slander and calumny? How many

have been overwhelmed in sorrow and ruin irretriev-
able, by the avarice, cupidity, or ambition of another,
whose character they have abhorred, and whose
deeds they have deprecated? Truly there need be
a life where the vicious and unrelenting shall meet
with the just recompense of their doings; and truly
there need be a quiet haven, where the shattered
bark of the innocent and the down-trodden shall
repose for ever at peaceful anchorage. Yes -
“There is a calm for those who

A rest for weary pilgrims found ;
And while the mouldering ashes sleep

Low in the ground,
The soul, of origin divine,
God's glorious image freed from clay,
In heaven's eternal sphere shall shine

A star of day.
The sun is but a spark of fire,
A transient meteor in the sky:
The soul, immortal as its Sire,

Shall never die !" Another argument in favour of this doctrine we derive from the greatness and grandeur of man's emotional and intellectual nature. Like the remains of many ancient cities, the mind of man is magnificent in its very ruins; and it has been remarked, that man must be immortal because he can grasp the idea of immortality. However this may be, unquestionably he stands at the head of all created beings that exist on the face of the earth. Who can riew the discoveries of science, the attainments of art and the achievements of industry, without being impressed with the greatness of mind, and its infinite superiority to everything else? Who can read the works of such men as Shakspere and Milton, Locke, and Bacon, and Newton, without rising to the thought that such spirits must live for ever? Enough to answer the ends of present life, and not more, has been given to the inferior part of creation; but who can believe that such vast powers can have been imparted to man merely to serve and adorn his

« EelmineJätka »