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The term 'soul'stands in the title of this volume, because in common discourse it is employed to signify an individual intelligent being, which actuates the body and is popularly supposed to be capable of an active existence independent on known physical connection. It designates that which is conscious of acting, thinking, and willing, that is, a spiritual agent, evincing the distinct personal mode of its existence by all that is recognised under the term mind. It can neither be defined nor described but as a power that perceives objects through the body, and thence forms for itself ideas and thoughts, according to its own nature, as subject to experience and intuitions. As it is, so are we; and all we know concerning it requires us to believe that the being that now feels, thinks, acts, and agitates the vital framework, will for ever be subjected to affections and emotions, wherever it may dwell. All its interests are eternal ; its future grows out of the present ; and therefore we may well be concerned about its wellbeing. Its power is manifested by its action, its intelligence, its passions, its will; and these are our theme. The inbabitant of the body is the agent of whose states nd operations we speak,
Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
If it be still said, what is a soul? That which asks the question shall respond—tu ipse, thyself, O reader. Look within-'know thyself '—thou art the answer. Art thou dust ? No; but out of the dust, thy present body, thou risest a living spirit, endowed with consciousness, will, and personality, because thou art a soul made with thy Maker's breath. He lives in thee, and therefore thou art, body, soul, and spirit, ever to be.
We perceive the diversified operations of the thinking being, and call it by different names according to its different manifestations ; but the unity of its nature, like that of God himself, is an announced or a revealed truth, to be received by faith, because our faculties will not yet allow us to comprehend an existence without parts. In using the senses, we speak of the act of the soul under the term Sense : when inferring truth from truth, we call it Understanding; when picturing the absent, Imagination; when reviewing the past, Memory; when choosing or refusing, Will. Yet all our faculties are but properties of one being, and we feel our identity amidst all the diversity of our mental conditions. As the varied properties of light evince its nature, so our diversified faculties evince the nature of the soul; and as the prismatic colours appear distinct only so long as one pure light pours the rays of its presence through the prism, so only while the soul beams through the brain are our mental attributes exhibited, for as colours are but modes of light, so our faculties and affections are but modes of soul.
We cannot explain the mode any more than the essence of that which thinks; and mere endeavours to define what we cannot demonstrate, neither improve our faculties, nor advance our knowledge. An elaborate disquisition on mind and matter would therefore be a useless demand on patience; and since we cannot discover anything concerning either but in their operations on each other, if we would learn their relative importance, we must study their reciprocal influence.
Some philosophers, perhaps forgetful that mind is manifested to itself by its own consciousness, have asserted that intelligence is but a result of material constitution, and therefore that the destruction of the physical organisation necessarily involves also the dissolution of the thinking being. Alas! for such a man -such a dissolvable ego-a being conscious of being, but not to be! O miserable conclusion! Has our Creator, indeed, formed his sentient and intelligent creature—man, for no other purpose than to witness for a short time his own paradoxical existence, to contrast his desires with his destiny, to shrink away in terror from the sight and the thought of all that is glorious, great, good, or enduring, and to shun all notion of his Maker, lest what is thus presented to his apprehension should excite aspiring wishes and build up lofty hopes, only for destruction ? Does the wondrous speculum, which man is inspired to fabricate, reflect the dim glimmerings of infinite worlds, into which he would direct his inquiring ken, only to kindle and expand and then becloud his reason ? Then to reason religiously is merely madness, and wisdom is impossible ; even the desire to know would be vanity and folly, unless we knew that existence might be equal to our felt capacity of enjoying it. Were a man sure that he could not possibly possess a better than this earthly life, to look off from this dull cold spot would only be to aggravate his doom. The glory of distant worlds would fall like a blight upon his being, for it would still suggest possibilities of intelligence and delight for ever beyond his reach, and the highest philosophy would say Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.
A creeping thing prepares for its perfection, and at length bursts from its silken tomb with newly-developed