Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

philosophers, even of the nations, who knew not the True God; and who made only random guesses concerning a world to come, awfully impressed with the certainty of their leaving this world, and something within them auguring an Hereafter, startling and convulsing their whole frame at the dreary thought of Annihilation and Non-entity! This is apparent from the Works and Remains of the Sages and Philosophers of all the oriental nations. The Greeks and Romans had the same notions, and with Heraclitus augured as follows:—" My Soul seems to vaticinate and presage its approaching dismission from its present prison; and looking out, as it were, through the cracks and cranies of this Body, to remember its native regions, from whence descending, it was clothed upon with grosser materials, fitting its mundane state." Such were the notions of Pythagoras, such those of Plato, whose philosophy is only an emanation from the Pythagorean School, where it is known he studied; and also enriched himself with the sentiments and philosophy of the Sages of Egypt, the Magi of Persia, and the Indian Cymnosophists.

As to the Greeks and Romans, Tully alone, (who had all the learning of all the Philosophers and Poets, and Wise men of both nations) shall speak their sentiments and prasages of another world, where the Soul is to be re-united to its former Body, and which includes their. belief of a Resurrection of the Body, after death!

His Cato Major fsive Liber de Senectute) is a treasure of Learning, written in the Dialogue manner, and has given him an opportunity of introducing the sentiments of most of the Great Men of Greek and Roman name. Among these are to be found Hesiod, Homer, Sophocles, Simonides, Stesichorus, Isocritus, and those whom he calls, Phtlosophorum Principes, the Princes or Chiefs of Philosophers; namely — Pythagoras, Democritus, Plato, Xenocrates, ZenO, Cleanthes, Diogenes the Stoic, &c. — Men whose Usefulness, Old Age, he says, might check, but could not destroy, (non coegit in suis studi'is obmutescere Senectus;) and the like is to be understoed of those whose names follow; which I have taker, nearly as Cicero introduces them to illustrate his subject, without strict regard to Chronological Order; viz. —" Titus Pomponius Atticus, Laelius & Scipio, Caius Salinator, Spurius Albinus, Cato senior, Qintus Maximus, Leontinus Gorgias, Ennius, T. Flamininus, Q. Maximus, L. Paulus, the Fabriccii, Currii, Coruncanii; App. Claudius, Lysimachus, Themistocles, Aristides, Oedipus Coloneus, Sex. Aelius, P. Crassus, Cyrus in Xenophon, L. Metellus,Nestor, Sophocles, Laertes; to whom he adds some of the great men who delighted in Agriculture, and after their conquests and triumphs, retired to devote their Old Age to the exercises of a country life;

Marcus Valerius Corpus, Sec. of all whom, and sundry others, Cicero gives the Notabilia of their life and character; to which some reference will be had in a note to be hereunto annexed. But what Xenophon has put into the mouth of Cyrus Major, in an address to his children near the hour of his death; and the con

clusion of the divine Cicero himself, to this book on Vol. i.

Old Age, supersedes the necessity of quoting any thing more from the Ancients, on the great subject before us.

Cyrus Major, on his death-bed, thus spake:— "Think not, my dear children, that when I depart "from you at Death, I shall be Nowhere, or Nothing. "For, while I even lived with you, my Soul was "not seen by you; yet that it existed in the Body, "you might perceive and understand, from those acts "and things, in which you saw me employed. You "ought therefore to believe the same after my death, "if you see nothing more of the Soul, than you did "before: Nor would any honours be paid to the "memories of illustrious men after death, if their "Souls had not meditated and achieved something, "worthy of endearing their Memory to Posterity!

t' For my part, I never could be persuaded to «' think, that the Soiils of Men, when hid in mortal "bodies, could Live; and that when released from "them they should Die, or become nothing; nor "can I be persuaded that the Soul should then be"come [insipient] Foolish or Sottish, when it escapes "from a foolish, sottish, or insipient Body*; but, "on the contrary, that when liberated from all cor"poreal mixture, it then begins to be pure, integral, "and sapient."—So far Cyrus.

Cicero, now proceeds to deliver his own divine Sentiments.

"No man, my dear Scipio, shall ever persuade me, either that your Father Paulus, your two Grand

* " Turn animura esse inupieutem, cum ex insipienti corpora evasisset."—

• i

fathers, Paulus and Africanus, or the Father c canus, or many excellent men, whose names I need not enumerate, would have meditated, or achieved those great things, the memory of which is for the interest of Posterity, if they had not been animated with the belief that Posterity belonged to them. Or do you think, (if after the manner of old men, I may be allowed to boast a little of myself) do you think, I say, that I would have undertaken, or endured, such Labours, by Night and by Day, in Peace and War, at home and abroad, if I had believed that my Name and Glory would have the same Termination with my Life? Would it not have been better, in this case, to have led an easy and quiet Life, without any Labour, Strife or Contention? But I know not how it is—the Soul, spurning and flying, as it were, from Inactivity, expands and erects herself in pride, grasps posterity and the future; presaging that she shall then only begin to live, when she escapes from the Life that now is! And if it was not so, that Souls are immortal, we should hardly see that the Souls of all the best of men, are striving or struggling most for the acquisition of immortal glory!

"Whence, otherwise is it, that every one, amongst the wisest of men, is seen to Die with the easiest and most undisturbed mind; whilst those amongst the foolish, and the least given to reflection, die with the most inequal and disturbed mind? Does it not appear to you, that the Soul which discerns most and at the greatest distance, perceives itself proceeding, or approaching towards the acquirement of better things; but that the Soul whose edge is blunter and more dull, perceives nothing of this? Indeed, my Scipio, I am transported with the mighty desire of seeing again your ancestors, whom I loved and courted—nor themonly should I rejoice to meet, whom I my self knew; but those also of whom I have heard, or read, or have written concerning them; and when I shall be called by Death to begin my journey, no one shall easily stop me, or arrest my progress. Nay, if some God was bountifully to offer me, that from my present age, I should grow young again, and wail in the cradle, I would reject the boon with all my might. For what has life of any great advantage? Nay, rather, what has it that belongs not to Labour and Toil ?—But it is not for me to deplore my lot in life, as, many, and those even learned men, have done. I do not repent that I have lived, and so lived, that I cannot esteem myself to have been born in vain; and I can depart from this world, as from an Inn or Lodging-place; and not as from a settled Abode or Dwelling-place.

"Oh! happy and propitious day, when I shall "begin my journey, to join that divine company, or "assembly of Souls, who are above; and shall depart "from the filthy croud or mob of this life;—when I "shall join n6t only those illustrious men spoken of "before, but also my beloved Cato; than whom a "better or more excellent man was never born.— "I lamented his death, (and paid all the honours in - " my power to his ashes). His body I committed "to the funeral Pile; which, for his usefulness, He, "alas! ought to have lived, to have done by mine. ." Yet his Soul did not forsake me, but keeping me

[graphic]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »