صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

God, which shall keep together the parts of our material bodies to eternity, or even soul and body, I doubt not but any one who shall think the soul material, will also find it as easy to give an account what it is that shall keep those parts of matter also together to eternity.

Were it not that the warmth of controversy is apt to make men so far forget, as to take up those principles themselves (when they will serve their turn) which they have highly condemned in others, I should wonder to find your lordship to argue, that because it is a difficulty to understand what shall keep together the minute parts of a material soul, when life is gone; and because it is not an easy matter to give an account how the soul shall be capable of immortality, unless it be an immaterial substance: therefore it is not so credible, as if it were easy to give an account by natural reason, how it could be. For to this it is that all this your discourse tends, as is evident by what is already set down; and will be more fully made out by what your lordship says in other places, though there needs no such proof, since it would all be nothing against me in any other sense.

I thought your lordship had in other places asserted, and insisted on this truth, that no part of divine revelation was the less to be believed, because the thing itself created great difficulty in the understanding, and the manner of it was hard to be explained, and it was no easy matter to give an account how it was. This, as I take it, your lordship condemned in others as a very unreasonable principle, and such as would subvert all the articles of the christian religion, that were mere matters of faith, as I think it will; and is it poffible, that you should make use of it here yourself, against the article of life and immortality, that Christ hath brought to light through the gospel, and neither was, nor could be made out by natural reason without revelation? But you will say, you speak only of the soul; and your words are, That it is no easy matter to give an account how the soul should be capable of immortality, unless it be an immaterial substance. I grant it; but crave leave to say, that there is not any one of those difficulties, that are or can be raised about the manner how a ma terial soul can be immortal, which do not as well reach the immortality of the body.

But, if it were not so, I am sure this principle of your lordship's would reach other articles of faith, wherein our natural reason finds it not so easy to give an account how those mysteries are; and which therefore, according to your principles, must be less credible than other articles, that create less difficulty to the understanding. For your lordship says, *that you appeal to any man of sense, whether to a man, who thought by his principles, he could from natural grounds demonstrate the immortality of the soul, the finding the uncertainty of those principles he went upon in point of reason, i. e. the finding he could not certainly prove it by natural reason, doth not weaken the credibility of that fundamental article, when it is considered purely as a matter of faith? which, in effect, I humbly conceive, amounts to this, that a proposition divinely revealed, that cannot be proved by natural reason, is less credible than one that can: which seems to me to come very little short of this, with due reverence be it spoken, that God is less to be believed when he affirms a proposition that cannot be proved by natural reason, than when he proposes what can be proved by it. The direct contrary to which is my opinion,

[blocks in formation]

though you endeavour to make it good by these following words; * If the evidence of faith fall so much short of that of reason it must needs have less effect upon men's minds, when the subserviency of reason is taken away; as it must be when the grounds of certainty by reason are vanished. Is it at all probable, that he who finds his reason deceive him in such fundamental points, should have his faith stand firm and unmoveable on the account of revelation? Than which I think there are hardly plainer words to be found out to declare, that the credibility of God's testimony depends on the natural evidence of probability of the things we receive from revelation, and rises and falls with it; and that the truths of God, or the articles of mere faith, lose so much of their credibility, as they want proof from reason: which if true, revelation may come to have no credibility at all. For if, in this present case, the credibility of this proposition, the souls of men shall live for ever, revealed in the scripture, be lessened by confessing it cannot be demonstratively proved from reason; though it be asserted to be most highly probable: must not by the same rule, its credibility dwindle away to nothing, if natural reason should not be able to make it out to be so much as probable, or should place the probability from natural principles on the other side? For, if mere want of demonstration lessens the credibility of any proposition divinely revealed, must not want of probability, or contrary probability from natural reason, quite take away its credibility? Here at last it must end, if in any one case the veracity of God, and the credibility of the truths we receive from him by revelation, be subjected to the verdicts of human reason, and be allowed to receive any accession or diminution from other proofs, or want of other proofs of its certainty or probability.

If this be your lordship's way to promote religion, or defend its articles, I know not what argument the greatest enemies of it could use more effectual for the subversion of those you have undertaken to defend ; this being to resolve all revelation perfectly and purely into natural reason, to bound its credibility by that, and leave no room for faith in other things, than what can be accounted for by natural reason without revelation.

Your lordship + insists much upon it, as if I had contradicted what I have said in my essay, by saying that upon my principles it cannot be demonstratively proved, that it is an immaterial substance in us that thinks, however probable it be. He that will be at the pains to read that chapter of mine, and consider it, will find, that my business there was to show, that it was no harder to conceive an immaterial than a material substance; and that from the ideas of thought, and a power of moving of matter, which we experienced in ourselves, (ideas originally not belonging to matter as matter) there was no more difficulty to conclude there was an immaterial substance in us, than that we had material parts. These ideas of thinking, and power of moving of matter, I in another place showed, did demonstratively lead us to the certain knowledge of the existence of an immaterial thinking being, in whom we have the idea of spirit in the strictest sense; in which sense I also applied it to the soul, in the 23d ch. of my essay; the easily conceivable possibility, nay great probability, that' the thinking substance in us is immaterial, giving me sufficient ground for it in which sense I shall think I may safely attribute it to the think. ing substance in us, till your lordship shall have better proved from my words, that it is impossible it should be immaterial. For I only say, that

* 2d Answer.

f. 1st Answer,

B. 2. C. 23.


it is possible, i. e. involves no contradiction, that God, the omnipotent immaterial spirit, should, if he pleases, give to some parcels of matter, disposed as he thinks fit, a power of thinking and moving; which parcels of matter, so endued with a power of thinking and motion, might properly be called spirits, in contradistinction to unthinking matter. In all which, I presume, there is no manner of contradiction.

I justified my use of the word spirit, in that sense, from the authorities of Cicero and Virgil, applying the Latin word spiritus, from whence spirit is derived, to the soul as a thinking thing, without excluding materiality out of it. To which your lordship replies, That Cicero, in his Tusculan Questions, supposes the soul not to be a finer sort of body, but of a different nature from the body-That he calls the body the prison of the soul.—And says, that a wise man's business is to draw off his soul from his body. And then your lordship concludes, as is usual, with a question, Is it possible now to think so great a man looked on the soul but as a modification of the body, which must be at an end with life? Ans. No; it is impossible that a man of so good sense as Tully, when he uses the word corpus or body for the gross and visible parts of a man, which he acknowledges to be mortal, should look on the soul to be a modification of that body; in a discourse wherein he was endeavouring to persuade another, that it was immortal. It is to be acknowledged that truly great men, such as he was, are not wont so manifestly to contradict themselves. He had therefore no thought concerning the modification of the body of a man in the case: he was not such a trifler as to examine, whether the modification of the body of a man was immortal, when that body itself was mortal: and therefore, that which he reports as Dicæarchus's opinion, he dismisses in the beginning without any more ado, c. 11. But Cicero's was a direct, plain, and sensible inquiry, viz. What the soul was? to see whether from thence he could discover its immortality. But in all that discourse in his first book of Tusculan Questions, where he lays out so much of his reading and reason, there is not one syllable showing the least thought that the soul was an immaterial substance; but many things directly to the contrary.

Indeed (1) he shuts out the body, taken in the senses he uses + corpus. all along, for the sensible organical parts of a man; and is positive that is not the soul and body in this sense, taken for the human body, he calls the prison of the soul: and says a wise man, instancing in Socrates and Cato, is glad of a fair opportunity to get out of it. But he no where says any such thing of matter: he calls not matter in general the prison of the soul, nor talks a word of being separate from it.

2. He concludes, that the soul is not, like other things here below, made up of a composition of the elements, ch. 27.

3. He excludes the two gross elements, earth and water, from being the soul, ch. 26.

[ocr errors]

So far he is clear and positive: but beyond this he is uncertain; beyond this he could not get for in some places he speaks doubtfully, whether the soul be not air or fire. Anima sit animus, ignisve, nescio, c. 25. And therefore he agrees with Panætius, that if it be at all elementary, it is, as he calls it, inflammata anima, inflamed air; and for this he gives seve ral reasons, c. 18, 19. And though he thinks it to be of a peculiar nature

*ift Answer.

+ Ch. 19, 22, 30, 31, &c.

Y 3

of its own, yet he is so far from thinking it immaterial, that he says, c. 19. that the admitting it to be of an aërial or igneous nature, will not be inconsisent with any thing he had said.

That which he seems most to incline to is, that the soul was not at all elementary, but was of the same substance with the heavens; which Aristotle, to distinguish from the four elements, and the changeable bodies here below, which he supposed made up of them, called quinta essentia. That this was Tully's opinion is plain from these words, Ergo animus (qui, ut ego dico, divinus) est, ut Euripides audet dicere, Deus ; et quidem, si Deus aut anima aut ignis est, idem est animus hominis. Nam ut illa natura cœlestis et terrâ vacat et humore; sic utriusque harum rerum humanus animus est expers. Sin autem est quinta quædam natura ab Aristotele inducta; primum hæc et deorum est et animorum. Hanc nos sententiam secuti, his ipsis verbis in consolatione hæc expressimus, ch. 29. And then he goes on, c. 27. to repeat those his own words, which your lordship has quoted out of him, wherein he had affirmed, in his treatise De Consolatione, the soul not to have its original from the earth, or to be mixed or made of any thing earthly; but had said, singularis est igitur quædam natura et vis animi, sejuncta ab his usitatis notisque naturis: whereby he tells us, he meant nothing but Aristotle's quinta essentia: which being unmixed, being that of which the gods and souls consisted, he calls it divinum cœleste, and concludes it eternal; it being, as he speaks, sejuncta ab omni mortali concretione. From which it is clear, that in all his inquiry about the substance of the soul, his thoughts went not beyond the four elements, or Aristotle's quinta essentia, to look for it. In all which there is nothing of immateriality, but quite the contrary.


He was willing to believe (as good and wise men have always been) that the soul was immortal; but for that, it is plain, he never thought of its immateriality, but as the eastern people do, who believe the soul to be immortal, but have nevertheless no thought, no conception of its immateriality. It is remarkable what a very considerable and judicious author says in the case. No opinion, says he, has been so universally received as that of the immortality of the soul; but its immateriality is a truth, the knowledge whereof has not spread so far. And indeed it is extremely difficult to let into the mind of a Siamite the idea of a pure spirit. This the missionaries who have been longest among them, are positive in. All the pagans of the east do truly believe, that there remains something of a man after his death, which subsists independently and separately from his body. But they give extension and figure to that which remains, and attribute to it all the same members, all the same substances, both solid and liquid, which our bodies are composed of. They only suppose that the souls are of a matter subtile enough to escape being seen or handled.Such were the shades and manes of the Greeks and the Romans. And it is by these figures of the souls, answerable to those of the bodies, that Virgil supposed Æneas knew Palinurus, Dido, and Anchises, in the other world.

This gentleman was not a man that travelled into those parts for his pleasure, and to have the opportunity to tell strange stories, collected by chance, when he returned: but one chosen on purpose (and he seems well chosen for the purpose) to inquire into the singularities of Siam. And he has so well acquitted himself of the commission, which his epistle dedica

* Loubere du Royaume de Siam, T. 1. c. 19. §. 4.


tory tells us he had, to inform himself exactly of what was most remarkable there, that had we but such an account of other countries of the east, as he has given us of this kingdom, which he was an envoy to, we should be much better acquainted than we are, with the manners, notions, and religions of that part of the world inhabited by civilized nations, who want neither good sense nor acuteness of reason, though not cast into the mould of the logick and philosophy of our schools.

But to return to Cicero: it is plain, that in his inquiries about the soul, his thoughts went not at all beyond matter. This the expressions that drop from him in several places of this book evidently show. For example, that the souls of excellent men and women ascended into heaven; of others, that they remained here on earth, c. 12. That the soul is hot, and warms the body: that, at its leaving the body, it penetrates, and divides, and breaks through our thick, cloudy, moist air: that it stops in the region of fire, and ascends no farther, the equality of warmth and weight making that its proper place, where it is nourished and sustained, with the same things wherewith the stars are nourished and sustained, and that by the convenience of its neighbourhood it shall there have a clearer view and fuller knowledge of the heavenly bodies, c. 19. That the soul also from this height shall have a pleasant and fairer prospect of the globe of the earth, the disposition of whose parts will then lie before it in one view, c. 20. That it is hard to determine what conformation, size, and place, the soul has in the body: that it is too subtile to be seen that it is in the human body as in a house, or a vessel, or a receptacle, c. 22. All which are expressions that sufficiently evidence, that he who used them had not in his mind separated materiality from the idea of the soul.

It may perhaps be replied, that a great part of this which we find in chap. 19. is said upon the principles of those who would have the soul to be anima inflammata, inflamed air. I grant it. But it is also to be observed, that in this 19th, and the two following chapters, he does not only not deny, but even admits, that so material a thing as inflamed air may think.

The truth of the case in short is this: Cicero was willing to believe the soul immortal; but, when he sought in the nature of the soul itself something to establish this his belief into a certainty of it, he found himself at a loss. He confessed he knew not what the soul was; but the not knowing what it was, he argues, c. 22. was no reason to conclude it was not. And thereupon he proceeds to the repetition of what he had said in his 6th book, De Repub. concerning the soul. The argument, which, borrowed from Plato, he there makes use of, if it have any force in it, not only proves the soul to be immortal, but more than, I think, your lordship will allow to be true: for it proves it to be eternal, and without beginning, as well as without end: Neque nata certe est, et æterna est, says he.

Indeed from the faculties of the soul he concludes right, that it is of divine original: but as to the substance of the soul, he at the end of this discourse concerning its faculties, c. 25. as well as at this beginning of it, c. 22. is not ashamed to own his ignorance of what it is; Anima sit animus, ignisve, nescio; nec me pudet, ut istos, fateri nescire quod nesciam. Illud si ulla alia de re obscura affirmare possem, sive anima, sive ignis sit animus, eum jurarem esse divinum, c. 25. So that all the cer. tainty he could attain to about the soul, was, that he was confident there Y 4


« السابقةمتابعة »