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“ rational, uniform, and immortal; and at death returns to its
parents and relations; that is, to the all-wise, immortal Being, “ and fountain of happiness, as froin banishment to its native
country.”—He often calls it “ a being allied to God ;-a plant “ which hath its root in heaven, and therefore cannot die.” These few instances may fuffice for the GREEKS.
The Romans applied themselves to the study of philosophy much later than the Grecians; but their folemn rites and ceremonies, their unshaken contempt of death, their elevated hopes of happiness, and their rational dread of misery in the future state, are evidences beyond all contradiction, that this doctrine was universally received amongst them. -" The origin of the soul, says “ CICERO, cannot be derived from any thing here below, Gnce it “ is uncompounded, and has no affinity with any earthly substance, “ which, if it had, it would be unable to reflect on, or recollect
past things, foresee future events, or comprehend such present “ things as are perfectly divine: From whence he concludes, that “ it is not of human extraction, but is derived from the divine “ mind, is incorporeal, and by consequence incorruptible."--In another place he says, “ that as there is a consanguinity among the “ human species, so there is an alliance between man and the God “ that made him; and though our fociety with men is owing, “ indeed, to the mortal body, yet our communion with the Deity “ is owing to him who has given us rational and immortal souls. “ Since then we may claim kindred with the heavenly inhabitants,
as being all members of the fame stock, it highly becomes us “ to call to mind our noble extraction, and fix our eyes on heaven
as our native country, to which we must shortly return. Con“ lider, says he, that thy better part is immortal, though thy body “ is not so ; and that thou art not what thy outward shape repre“ sents thee to be ; for it is the soul, and not the flesh, to which it is united, that constitutes the man. Know, thou art a kind of
“ deity, Gnce thou rulest in thy body, in some measure, as the great “ God does in the spacious universe. And as he animates and “ governs the world, which is frail, and in some sense perishing, “ fo does thy immortal foul direct thy frail and mortal body.”- — And all the authors that were his cotemporaries were of the same opinion.
The writings of SENECA would furnish us with a vast variety of beautiful passages upon this topic ; but I think his reflections on the death of Lady Martia’s son may demand, in a more peculiar manner our most serious attention.--" He is now, says he, become “ immortal, and has his habitation in a better world ; now is he « freed from that load of earth which hung heavy about him ; “ now has he regained his native liberty; for these bones and “ nerves, this coat of skin, and these bodily members, do but fetter “ and imprison the soul; by them she is oppressed, beaten down " and discouraged; the hath not a greater enemy than 'this her
earthly partner ; and, if any thing could, that would destroy “ her. She is continually struggling for her release, and desirous “ of returning to her native country, where the meets with a • bleffed and eternal reft on her first arrival."--In another place he says ;-" the soul cannot suffer banishment forever, because she is “ not only equal to the whole world, and time itself, but is allied “ likewise to the Gods. She can grasp the heavens in her thoughts, « and extend herself from all past to all future duration. The « wretched carcase to which she is confined, is liable to a thousand « accidents, to be tormented with diseases; to be destroyed by fire “ or pestilence; but as she herself is immortal, The cannot be in“ jured. When her bonds are once disolved, the mounts to that: 6 blessed place, where departed souls enjoy a perfect rest.” More. over, he feems to have a faint idea of the resurrection of the body.—" " Death, says he, of which we entertain such dreadful
apprehensions, does not deprive us of life, but only discontinues it “ for a searan: the day will come, when we shall appear again.” As this great man grew near to the day of his diffolution, his idea of the true birth seemed proportionably clearer. For, in bis last words he speaks of it with more certainty and confidence than ever.
* There is nothing truly great in this world, says FAVORINUS, “ but man, nor any thing valuable in him, except his soul.-If “ thou mountest up to that, thou soarest above the heavens ; if “ thou stoopest down to the case in which it is lodged, and com
parest it with the heavenly bodies, it is less than the smallest " insect.” By which he more than implies, that in this frail tabernacle of clay there is a divine and incorruptible nature; for how could it otherwise be nobler than the universe ?
But not to trespass on your patience by too great a number of quotations, let it suffice, that all nations in the earliest ages, as well as this in which we now live, had some kind of religious rites and ceremonies ; that they all acknowledged there was some gloomy place set apart for the torment of the vicious, and some inexpressibly happy and delightful shades for the reception of the virtuous. The more superstitious they were, the more firm was their belief in these important particulars ; for superstition, as well as true religion, is seated in the soul, and supposes its immortality.It is recorded of some indian nations that their Chiefs committed themselves voluntarily to the flames, before they arrived at extreme old age, and called this deliberate action a happy release from a yexatious world, and a discharge of the soul from the body, in which it was imprisoned ; and he was deemed the wiseft man, who put this act in execution sooneft.-In some other parts of the world, the very llaves bury themselves alive with their deceased masters without the least reluctance; which they, doubtless, would never do were they not in some measure convinced that their souls were immortal.—The THRACIANS wept at the birth, and rejoiced at
the death of their children, esteeming the latter an happy birth: And Herodotus tells us, they were called the immortalizing Thracians. They were of opinion, that when they departed this life, they went to their saviour, the liberal donor of health and happiness.-The Gauls and their DRUIDS ; the ETRURIANS and their PRIESTS; the SCYTHIANS and their SAGES, founded all their wisdom on this doctrine, which was so deeply imprinted on the minds of men, that it was universally received.—The disciples of Hegestas, the Cyrenian, died with pleasure after hearing him discourse on the immortality of the soul; by which they shewed how fully they were convinced of so important a truth. And those few wretches who have disgraced humanity by daring to affert a contrary doctrine never arrived at fo desperate a point of baseness till they had made themselves stupid and senseless, by a diffolute and irregular course of life.
Thus we fee, that all nations were of opinion, that the soul was immortal ; though the manner in which it should be glorified remained a, secret, till the illustrious Gospel of our blessed Saviour was spread all over the habitable world. From that time life and immortality were so brought to light, that St. Austin, triumphing, as it were, over infidelity, cries out, “ Where is now the fool “or wretch so hardened, as to doubt of the soul's being inn“ mortal ?”—EPICTETUS, a famous stoic philosopher, has abundance of expressions to the fame purpose.--" Are we not ashamed,
says he, to lead a vicious course of life, or to despair in adver“sity, since we are allied to the Deity; since we came from him, “ and inay, if we are not wanting to ourselves, return to him
pro. duced from the ancients, were we disposed to quote, or had you patience to hear them, wherein they speak of a future judgment, an heaven, and an hell; the one set apart as a reward for the Vol. III,
righteous, and the other as a place of torment for the wicked, which supposes the immortality of the soul. This doctrine is not only taught in the Koran of the TURKS, ARABIANS and PerSIANS, but even firmly believed by the barbarous CANIBALS; is no invention of artful philosophers to amuse their disciples, and received by tradition only; but is obvious to reason without any additional light, and as easy to be believed, as that we have facesa when we behold them in a glass.
Here we shall conclude our quotations; and much I fear, you have thought me too tedious on this topic; but as the proof of the immortality of the soul is the foundation of all religion, we shall think our labour well-bestowed, if we have but confirmed one wavering person, or caused any one, unthoughtful before, to reAcct properly on this momentous subject. Though we are fully convinced, that in this enlightened age there are very few cultivated minds who totally disbelieve this doctrine ; none that can bring arguments worthy of notice, or indeed of any weight against it; yet, at the same time so prevailing is the spirit of diffipation that there are multitudes, who never admit the least thought about such serious matters, and too many likewise that endeavour to fifle the evidences of it in their own minds, and flatter themselves that it may posibly be otherwise. But as we have produced. arguments sufficient, as we imagine, to convince any attentive hearer, that there is no possibility of the soul's dying. I shall conclude with accounting, in some measure, for the obftinate beha-viour, and perverse opinions of wicked men, and lay before
you. the reasons, if they may deserve that name, why there have been, in all ages, and even still are, some persons so wilfully blind as readily to join with the Sadducees, and assert so abhorrent a doctrine: as that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit.”
First then, as the belief of a future state is no small check to wicked men in the pursuit of their lawless pleasures, they industri