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Science and Superstition, - - - - - 150 |

Fragment from the Fatal Curse, (an unfinished Tragedy.) 162

Music, - - - - - - 158 |

The Mermaid's Song. - - - 17 |

An Antique Visitor, - - - - - 17- |

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Philosophy How wide the range of its inquiries! How boundless the field to be explored ' What is it “H erotraun row ovyov,” says Pythagoras. “Scientia rerum divinarum et humanarum cum causis,” says Cicero. And Lord Bacon, the prince of philosophers, ancient or modern, calls it concisely, “interpretatio naturae.” As we look at the definition, and then for an instant think on the time bestowed on us here for the study, we are compelled to feel that all of time would be too short for us to advance beyond the vestibule of the temple of philosophy, and that immortality itself could scarcely afford us opportunity for the study of its unnumbered wonders. Our present attempt is to exhibit the doctrine of the immortality of the soul as we derive it from philosophy—philosophy, we mean, unaided by her at whose feet human wisdom may feel privileged to sit, and learn some of her most valuable lessons—Divine Revelation.

There is an intrinsic interest in the subject before us, which is possessed by few other philosophical inquiries. It is pressed on him who sees no other light than that of nature, with a momentousness and impressiveness that give it true sublimity. That there is a soul, no more than that there is a God, requires no proof. Both are irrestagably established in every heart; and the most successful essorts of sophistry, though for a time they may have silenced, have never been able to destroy the undying consciousness of either. This quickening, active, thinking principle, the Yuxn of the Greeks, the Anima of the Latins,—that breath of the Almighty which he inspired into the senseless clay that he had fashioned in the human form—that is the soul! What, then, is its duration ? When the pulse ceases its beating—when the wondersul machinery of life stands still—when the cold chill of death passes from part to part, leaving a motionless statue what, just now, was instinct with life and

Vol. II. 20

feeling—when all that is visible of man sinks into loathsome corruption—whither goeth the soul? The eye may weary in looking for it, but its subtile texture defies human vision. The ear may be attent, but not the slightest rustling gives indication of the passing of the spirit. The feather may attest by its movement the presence of the feeblest breath, but the soul, subtile as vacuum itself, nor sight, nor hearing, nor any sense has ever been able to perceive. How know we then that it continues to exist? If no sense informs us that it leaves the clay, why may we not conclude, that with the body the soul has perished 2 In our present inquiry we have said, we will look only for guidance to the light of nature. Let us first then examine what is this light of nature, and by what kind of evidence we are to be convinced of the truths she reveals. There have always existed in the world two classes of self-styled philosophers, who, it appears to us, have alike proved themselves unworthy of the title. The one, professing a great veneration for nature, have extolled her as the all-sufficient instructress of man. In their short sighted admiration of her beauty and her grandeur, they have forgotten that it was her design to lead their thoughts “from nature up to nature's God.” Mistaking the effect for the cause—neglecting the admonitions of the professed object of their adoration—in the pride of natural reason, they have elevated nature to the seat of the Deity. Almost as much mistaken have been those who, overlooking the true worth of nature's teachings, have denied her any office in man's moral illumination. There are instincts, if you please, likings and aversions,—desires and antipathies, hopes and fears, which heaven itself has implanted in man. There are, besides, abilities for reasoning on these sentiments and feelings, as well as on the facts with which observation and experience acquaint us; and for settling principles from these reasonings. Now, from whatever source these means of reasoning are derived, they are the light of nature which we are seeking. Nor for our conviction of the truths which nature teaches, do we need absolute demonstration. The same amount and kind of evidence on which we act in the most important concerns of life, we think should be suffered here to have equal weight. There are, too, many and pertinent arguments, which we leave untouched, from a feeling of our own utter incompetency of handling them to advantage. We assume, in the first place, that the existence of the Creator is revealed by the works of nature. The present age would look no further for evidence of his sound philosophy, should one of its pretenders avow his disbelief in the existence of a God. It is clear, too, that the Creator, in all His actions, proceeds upon fixed and immutable rules; adapting means to ends, and evincing such marks of design as to admit no doubt of the existence of a designer. If then the soul shows its adaptation for immortality, we may safely infer that it will be immortal. We derive a strong argument of probability, at least, from the fact that we know not in nature a single instance of annihilation. We see, indeed, all things characterized by the one unvarying progress of change; but scarcely the most thorough-going sceptic will deny, that so far as we know, matter is indestructible. Combinations are resolved, we allow, into their elements; but into what elements will you resolve the simple, indivisible soul? It is indeed separated from the body in which it had so long resided ; but whilst it remained there, it was altogether distinct from that body, as we know not only from our native consciousness, but from the well known fact that the body which it left was composed of entirely different materials from that which it had at first entered ; since physiologists assure us that no particle of the original substance of the body is remaining in it, after the lapse of even a few years, whilst memory and the same consciousness prove that the soul remains undiminished and unaltered. We may safely then conclude, that the soul will endure as long at least as matter. Nor is there any evidence that the soul has ceased to exist, from the fact that it has changed its former relations, and that we can no longer see its actions through its former instrumentality. “Suppose a person (says Cicero) to have been educated from his insancy in a chamber, where he enjoyed no opportunity of seeing external objects but through a small chink in the shutter, would he not be apt to consider this chink as essential to his vision, and would it not be difficult to persuade him that his prospects would be enlarged by demolishing the walls of his prison f” Now, sanciful as this analogy may be, we conceive that it may furnish us with an illustration of the possibility of the soul's existence aster separation from the body. With the same view we may be allowed to introduce a brief quotation from Dugald Stewart. In this supposition, he says, “there is nothing contrary to the analogy of what we have already experienced in the former history of our own being. The change which takes place in the state of the infant at the moment of its birth, may perhaps be analogous to the change we are destined to undergo at the moment of our dissolution. And it is probable that is an infant in the womb were capable of reflecting on its condition, it would be as apprehensive of the consequences of birth as we are of those of death.” Another and still stronger argument is derived from the intellectual and moral nature with which we have been endowed. The existence of the Creator and His benevolence of design we have assumed. For what purpose, then, did He bestow on man those powers of mind by which chiefly he is distinguished from the brute? Why implanted He in the human breast such an inextinguishable thirst for knowledge, such noble covetousness of mental treasure,

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