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The glories of the world thy sevenfold shield.
And superlunary felicities,
Come, my ambitious! let us mount together (To mount, Lorenzo never can refuse); And from the clouds, where pride delights to dwell, Look down on Earth.. What see'st thou? Wondrous things!
Terrestrial wonders, that eclipse the skies.
What lengths of labour'd lands! what loaded seas!
Whole rivers, there, laid by in basons, sleep.
And chang'd creation takes its face from man.
And now, Lorenzo! raptur'd at this scene, Whose glories render Heaven superfluous! say, Whose footsteps these?-Immortals have been here. Could less than souls immortal this have done? Earth's cover'd o'er with proofs of souls immortal; And proofs of immortality forgot.
To flatter thy grand foible, I confess,
These are ambition's works: and these are great:
All our ambitions Death defeats, but one;
NIGHT THE Seventh.
THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED.
Containing the Nature, Proof, and Importance, of Immortality.
As we are at war with the power, it were well if we were at war with the manners, of France. A land of levity is a land of guilt. A serious mind is the native soil of every virtue; and the single character that does true honour to mankind. The soul's immortality has been the favourite theme with the serious of all ages. Nor is it strange; it is a subject by far the most interesting, and important, that can enter the mind of Of highest moment this subject always was and always will be. Yet this its highest moment seems to admit of increase, at this day; a sort of occasional importance is superadded to the natural weight of it; if that opinion which is advanced in the preface to the preceding Night, be just. It is there supposed, that all our infidels, whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronize, are betrayed into their deplorable errour, by some doubts of their immortality, at the bottom. And the more I consider this point, the more I am
persuaded of the truth of that opinion. the distrust of a futurity is a strange errour; yet it is an errour into which bad men may naturally be distressed. For it is impossible to bid defiance to final ruin, without some refuge in imagination, some presumption of escape. And what presumption is there? There are but two in nature; but two, within the compass of human thought. And these are- That either God will not, or can not punish. Considering the divine attributes, the first is too gross to be digested by our strongest wishes. And since omnipotence is as much a divine attribute as holiness, that God cannot punish, is as absurd a supposition as the former. God certainly can punish as long as wicked men exist. In non-existence, therefore, is their only refuge; and, consequently, nonexistence is their strongest wish. And strong wishes have a strange influence on our opinions; they bias the judgment in a manner, almost incredible. And since on this member of their alternative, there are some very small appearances in their favour, and none at all on the other, they catch at this reed, they lay hold on this chimera, to save themselves from the shock and horrour of an immediate and absolute despair. On reviewing my subject, by the light which this argument, and others of like tendency, threw upon it, I was more inclined than ever to pursue it, as it appeared to me to strike directly at the main root of all our infidelity. In the following pages it is, accordingly, pursued at large; and some arguments for immortality, new at least to me, are ventured on in them. There also the writer has made an attempt to set the gross absurdities and horrours of annihilation in a fuller and more affecting view, than is (I think) to be met with elsewhere.
The gentlemen, for whose sake this attempt was chiefly made, profess great admiration for the wisdom of heathen antiquity: what pity it is they are not sincere! If they were sincere, how would it mortify them to consider, with what contempt and abhorrence their notions would have been received by those whom they so much admire! What degree of contempt and abhorrence would fall to their share, may be conjectured by the following matter of fact (in my opinion) extremely memorable. Of all their heathen worthies, Socrates (it is well known) was the most guarded, dispassionate, and composed : yet this great master of temper was angry; and angry at his last hour; and angry with his friend; and angry for what deserved acknowledgment; angry for a right and tender instance of true friendship towards him. Is not this surprising? What could be the cause? The cause was for his honour; it was a truly noble, though, perhaps, a too punctilious regard for immortality: for, his friend asking him, with such an affectionate concern as became a friend, "Where he should deposit his remains?" it was resented by Socrates as implying a dishonourable supposition, that he could be so mean, as to have a regard for any thing, even in himself, that was not immortal. This fact, well considered, would make our infidels withdraw their admiration from Socrates; or make them endeavour, by their imitation of this illustrious example, to share his glory: and consequently, it would incline them to peruse the following pages with candour and impartiality : which is all I desire; and that, for their sakes: for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel must, necessarily, receive some advantageous impressions from them.
July 7. 1744.