WE have now done with superstition, and shall search a little into the pedigree of Atheism, which indeed has so much affinity with superstition, that it may seem to have the same father with it. * , Superstition could be well content there were no God, and atheism thinks there is none. And as superstition is engendered by a base opinion of the Deity, as cruel, (though it be afterwards hatched by a slavish fear,) so also is atheism. That sour and ghastly apprehension of God, when it meets with more stout and surly natures, is apt to enrage them, and cankering them with malice against the Deity, provokes them to fight against it, and undermine the notion of it. If these melancholy opinions and disquieting fears of the Deity mould not the minds of men into superstition, as finding them too churlish and untamable to receive any such impressions; they are then apt to stir them up to contend with that Being which they cannot bear, and to destroy that which would deprive them of their own liberty, These unreasonable fears of a Deity will always be moving into flattery or wrath. Atheism could never have so easily crept into the world, had not superstition made way for it; it could not so easily have banished the belief of 4 Deity,’ had not that first accused and it condemned it as destructive to the peace of mankind; and therefore it has always justified and defended itself by superstition. As Plutarch has well expressed it,” Superstition afforded the principle of generation to atheism, and afterwards furnished it with an apology; which, though it be neither true nor lovely, yet wants it not a specious pretence.” And therefore Dionysius Longinus, that noble rhetorician, fears not to challenge Homer as atheistical, for his unsavory language of the gods; which indeed was only the brat of his superstition. If the superstitious man thinks that God is altogether like himself, (which indeed is a character most proper to such,) the atheist will soon say in his heart, “There is no God;” and will judge it, not without some appearance of reason, to be better there were none. As Plutarch, “Were it not better for the Gauls and Scythians not to have had any notion of the gods, than to think them such as delighted in the blood of men offered up in sacrifices upon their altars” This, made Lucretius cry out, with so much indignation, when he took notice of Agamemnon's diabolical devotion in sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia, to make expiation at his Trojan expedition, “Tantum religio potuit suadere nzalorum.” And indeed what sober man could brook such an esteem of himself as this blind superstition; (which overspread the heathen world; and, I doubt, is not sufficiently rooted out of the Christian,) fastened upon God himself Which made Plutarch cry out, if I had rather men should say that there is no such man, nor ever was, as Plutarch, than to say that he is or was an inconstant, fickle man, apt to be angry, acid for every trifle re, vengeful.”
But it may not be amiss to learn from atheists themselves what was the cause that moved them to banish all thoughts of a Deity, what was the principle upon which this black opinion was guilty and by which it was sustained. And this we might have from the confessions of the Epicureans, of which Tully gives us a large account. But we shall rather choose a little to examine Lucretiu in this point, who has, in the name of all his sect; largely told us the rise and original of this design. After a short ceremony to his following Discourse of Nature, he thus begins his prologue in commendation of Epicurus
And a little after, in a sorry ovation, proudly cries out, “Quare religio pedibus subjecta ticissim Obteritur; nos ex~equat victoria co-lo.”
But to proceed: Our author observing the tiniorouw minds of men to have been struck with this dreadful superstition from the observation of some stupendous effects in nature; he therefore, following the steps of his master, Epicurus, undertakes to solve all those knots which superstition was tied up into, by unfolding the secrets of nature; and so begins with a confutation of the opinion of the creation, which he supposed to have sprung up from an admiring ignorance of natural productions.
"Quippe ita focmido mortales continet omnes, Quod multa in terris fieri cceloque tuentur, Quorum operum causas nulla ratione videre Possunt, ac fieri Divino numine rentur.” And towards the end of this first book, " Primum quod magnis doceo de rebus, et areti* Religionum animos nodis exsolvere pergo, But herein all the Epicureans (who are' not the true fathers of that natural philosophy they brag of, and which indeed Democritus was the author of,) do miserably blunder themselves. For though a lawful acquaintance with the events of nature would contribute much to free' men's mind from superstition; yet would it also breed a sober and amiable belief of the Deity, as it did in all the Pythagoreans, Platonists, and other sects of philosophers; and an ingenuous knowledge hereof would be as fertile with religion as the ignorance thereof in base minds is with superstition.
For which purpose l shall need only to touch upon Epicurus's master-notion, by which he undertakes to solve all difficulties that might hold our thoughts in suspense a Creator, which is that plenunz and inane, or an infinity of atoms moving to and fro in an empty space, is sufficient to beget all those phenomena which we see in' nature. Which, however it might be true, motion being once granted, yet herein Tully has well scotch the wheel of this over-hasty philosophy, lib. 1: de Finibus,” Cuni in rerun natura duo sint querenda, unum, quoe materia sit ex qua qumque res efiiciatur; alterum, quae vis sit qua; quidque efliciat: de materia disseruerunt epicurei; vim et causam of rciendi reliquerunt.” Which is as much as if some conceited piece of sophistry should go about to prove that an automaton had no dependency upon the skill of an artificer, by descanting upon the several parts of it, without taking notice meanwhile of some external weight or spring that moves it. Or, to use his own similitude, as if ore that undertakes to analyze any learned book should tell us how so many letters meeting' together in combination should beget all that sense that is contained therein, without minding that wit that cast them all into their several ranks.
And yet could we allow Epicurus this power of motion to ’he in nature, he must also give us an account how such a power in nature could subsist. Which indeed is easy to do, if we stay in God himself as the mover; but without some infinite power is impossible.
And we should further inquire, how these rambling atoms come to place themselves so orderly in the universe, and observe that absolute harmony in all their motions, as if they kept time with the musical laws of some Almighty blind that composed all their lessons, and measured out their dances up and down in the universe; and also how it comes to pass if they be only moved by chance, that such regular mutations and generations should be begotten by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, they having no centre to seat themselves about in an` infinite vacuity; and how these bodies that are once moved by some impulse from their former station; return again, or at least come to stay themselves, and do not rather move perpetually the same way the first impulse and direction carried them; or why they do not there rest where their motion first began to cease, if they were interrupted by any thing without them.
Thus we see, though we should allow Epicurus his principle in the frame of nature, yet it is too weak to support that massy bulk of absurdities which- he would build upon it. Lucretius takes notice of another piece of vulgar superstition, which he thinks fit to be chased away by atheism and that is, “The terrors of the world to come;” which he thus sets upon in his third book And afterwards he tells us how this fear of the gods, thus proceeding from the former causes, and from those` specters and ghastly apparitions with which men were sometimes terrified, begat all those fantastic rites and ceremonies in use amongst them, as their temples, sacred lakes and pools, their groves, altars, images, and other like vanities, as so many idle toys to please these deities with; and at last concludes himself thus into atheism, as a strong fort to preserve himself from these cruel deities that superstition had made.
Thus we see how superstition strengthened the wicked hands of atheism; so far is a formal way of religion proceeding from baseness of mind from keeping it out. And I wish some of our opinions in religion in these days may not have the same evil influences as the notorious superstition of old had.
We should now leave this argument; only we shall observe two things:” First,, that be superstition never so unlovely a thing, yet it is more tolerable than atheism therefore we should endeavor to take off superstition from our minds, as a film from our eyes; but if that cannot be, we must not pluck out our eyes, and blind the faith that we have of the Deity.” The second is this,” That atheism is a most ignoble and uncomfortable thing.”
What is all that ’happiness that arises from these bodily pleasures to any one that has any high or noble sense within him This gross,, muddy, and stupid opinion casts a reproach upon the nature of mankind, and sinks it into the deepest abyss of baseness. And certainly, were the highest happiness of mankind such a thing as might be felt by a corporeal touch; were it of so ignoble; A birth as to spring out of this earth, and to grow up out of this mire and clay; we might well sit down, and bewail our unhappy fates, that we should rather be born men than brute beasts, which enjoy more of this world's happiness than we can do, without any sin or guilt. How little of pleasure these short lives taste here, which only lasts so long as the indigence of nature is in supplying, and after that, only a flying shadow, or flitting dream of that pleasure (which is choked as soon as craving nature is satisfied,) remains in the fancy.
And therefore Epicurus, seeing how slippery the soul was to all sensual pleasure, which was apt to slide away perpetually from it, and how little of it the body was capable of; he and his followers could not well tell where to place this beggarly guest. One while they would place it in the body, then lead it back again into the soul, it being ever found so hard a thing to define, like that base matter of which it is begotten, which is nothing else but a shady kind of nothing, something that has a name, but nothing else. I dare say that all those that have any just esteem of humanity, cannot but with a noble scorn defy such a base-born happiness as this is, generated only out of the slime of this earth: and yet this is all the portion of atheism, which teaches the entertainers of it to believe themselves nothing else but so many heaps of more refined dust, fortuitously gathered together, which at last must be all blown away again.
But a true belief of a Deity is a sure support to all serious minds, which besides the future hopes it is pregnant with, entertains them Here with tranquility and inward serenity. What the Stoic said in his cool and mature thoughts,” It is not worth the while to live in a world empty of God and Providence,” is the sense of all those that know what a Deity means. Indeed it were the greatest unhappiness that might be, to have been born into such a world, where we should be perpetually tossed up and down by a rude and blind fortune, and be perpetually liable to all those abuses which the savage lusts and passions of the world would put upon us. It is not possible for any thing well to bear up the spirit of that man that shall calmly meditate with himself on the true condition of this world, should that mind be taken away from it which governs every part of it, and over-rules all those disorders that break forth in it. Were there not an omniscient skill to temper, and fitly to rank in their due places all those quarrelsome and extravagant spirits that are in the world, it would soon prove an uninhabitable place, and sink under the heavy weight of its own-' confusion. Remove God and Providence out of the world, and we have nothing to depend upon but chance' and fortune, the humours and passions of men; and he that could then live in it, had need be as blind as these lords would be, that he might not see his own misery always staring upon him; and had need be more senseless and stupid, that he might not be affected with it.
OF THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
The first Principles of Religion, viz. 1. That God is. 2. That God is a Rewarder of them that seek him wherein is included the great Article of the Immortality of the Soul. These two Principles acknowledged by serious Persons in all Ages. 3. That God communicates himself to mankind by Christ. The Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul discoursed of in the first place, and why,
HAVING finished our two short discourses concerning those two anti-deities, viz. Superstition and Atheism; we shall now proceed to discourse more largely concerning the main heads and principles of religion.
And here we are to take notice of those two points which the author of the epistle to the Hebrews makes the necessary foundation of all religion, viz.” That God is, and that he is the rewarder of them that seek him.” To which we should add, The immortality of the soul, but that may seem included in the former: and indeed we can neither believe any invisible reward of which he there speaks, without supposing the soul's immortality; nor entertain a serious belief of that, but the notions of punishment and reward will naturally follow from it they never meet with any who were persuaded of the former, that ever doubted of the latter: and therefore the former two have been usually taken alone for the first principles of religion.
We scarce find that any were ever deemed religious, that did not own these two fundamentals. For as to the Sadducees, the Jewish writers are wont commonly to reckon them among the Epicureans, because though they held a God, yet they denied the immortality of men's souls. And these two principles are chiefly aimed at in those two inscriptions upon the temple of Delphos, the one, EI, referring to God, by which title those that came in to worship were supposed to invoke him, acknowledging his immutable and eternal nature; the other, as the admonition of the Deity to all his worshippers, to take notice of the immortality of their own. souls, But if we have the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, we must add to the former,” The communication of God to mankind through Christ;” which last the Scripture treats of at large, so far as concerns our practice, with that plainness and simplicity, that I cannot but think, that whosoever shall ingenuously, and with humility of spirit, addressing himself to God, converse therewith, he will see the bright beams of Divinity shining forth in it, and, it may be, find the text itself much plainer than all those glosses that have been put upon it.
On these three articles of faith and practice, all practical religion is built: the nature of God and of our own immortal souls both skews us what our religion should be, and also the necessity of it; and the doctrine of free grace in Christ, the sweet and comfortable means of attaining to that blessedness which the other teaches US to aim at.
In pursuing of these we shall first begin with the immortality of the soul; which, if it be once cleared, we can neither leave any room for atheism, nor be wholly; ignorant of what God is.
Some Considerations preparatory to the Proof of the Soul's Immortality.
But before we fall closely upon demonstrating the soul's immortality, we shall premise three things
1. “That the immortality of the soul doth not absolutely need any demonstration, but might be assured rather as a principle, seeing the notion of it is apt to insinuate itself into the belief of the most vulgar sort of men.” Men's understandings commonly lead them as readily to believe that their souls are immortal, as that they have any existence at all. And though they be not all so wise as to distinguish aright between their souls and their bodies, or tell what kind of thing that is that they commonly call their soul; yet they are strongly inclined' to believe that some part of them shall survive another, and _shall live when the other part shall molder into dust. And therefore all nations have consented in this belief, which has almost been as vulgarly received as the belief of a Deity, as a diligent converse with history will assure us.
2. The second thing I premise is, “That to a right conceiving the force of any such arguments as may prove the soul's immortality, there must be an antecedent converse with our own souls.” It is no hard matter to convince any one, by clear and evident principles fetched from his own sense of himself, who has well meditated on the power and operations of his own soul, that it is immaterial and immortal. But those very arguments that to such will be demonstrative, to others will lose something of the strength of probability; for indeed it is not possible for us well to know what our souls are, but only by converse with them.
3. There is one thing more to be considered, and it is this,” That no substantial and indivisible thing ever perishes.” And this Epicurus and all his sect must needs grant, as indeed they do, and much more than I plead for; and therefore they make this one of the first principles of their atheistical philosophy. But we shall here be content with that sober thesis of Plato, who attributes the perpetuation of all substances to the benignity and liberality of the Creator, whom he therefore brings in thus speaking to the angels, those, as he calls them;” You are not of yourselves immortal, nor indissoluble; but would a elapse and slide back from that being which I have given you, should I withdraw the influence of my own power from you. But yet you shall hold your immortality by a patent of mere grace from myself.” And indeed if we collate all our own observations and experience with such as the history of former times has delivered to us, we shall not find that ever any substance was quite lost; but though this Proteus-like matter may perpetually change its shape, vet it will constantly appear under one form or another, what art so ever we use to destroy it: as it seems to have been set forth in that old riddle of the Peripatetic school. All substance is either body, and so divisible, and of three dimensions; or else it is something which is Trot properly body or matter, and so has no such dimensions as that the parts thereof should be crowding for place, and justling one with another, not being all able to couch together or run -one into. another: and this is nothing else but what is commonly called spirit
The first Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. That the Soul of man is not corporeal. The gross absurdities upon the supposition that the Soul is made up by a fortuitous concourse of Atoms: which is Epicurus's nation concerning the body. The Principles of the Epicurean Philosophy in opposition to the immaterial Nature' of the Soul, discovered to be false and indecent. That Motion cannot arise from Body or matter. Nor can the Power of Sensation arise from Matter. Much less can Reason. tin addition of three Considerations for the enforcing this first argument. That there is in Man a Faculty which, 1. Controls Sense: and, 2. Collects and unites all the Perceptions of our several Senses. 3. That Memory and Prevision are not explicable upon the Supposition of Matter and Motion.
We shall now prove that the soul of man is something really distinct from his body, of an indivisible nature, and so cannot be divided into such parts as should flit one from another; and consequently is apt of its own nature to remain to eternity.
And first we shall prove it ad absurdum. If the soul be not of an immaterial nature, then it must be a body, and so made up as all bodies are: where because the opinions of the philosophers differ, we shall only take one, viz. that of Epicurus, which supposes it to be made up by a fortuitous concourse of atoms; and in that demonstrate against all the rest: (for indeed herein a particular demonstration is an universal, as it is in all mathematical demonstrations of this kind.) For if all that which we call the soul, be nothing but a mere body; and therefore infinitely divisible, as all bodies are, it will be all one whatever notion we have of the generation or production thereof. We may give it, if we please, finer words than Epicurus did. But when we have taken away this disguise, we shall find nothing better than mere body, which will be recoiling back perpetually into its own sluggish passiveness. Though we may think we have quickened it never so much by this subtle artifice of words and phrases, a man's new-born soul will, for all this, be but little better than his body; and, as that is, he but some thin shavings pared off from the body of the parents by a continual motion of the several parts of it; and must afterwards receive its augmentation from that food and nourishment which is taken in, as the body doth. So that the very grass we walk over in the fields, the dust and mire in the streets that we tread upon, may, according to this dull philosophy, after many refining, which nature performs by the help of motion, spring up into so many rational souls, and prove as wise as any Epicurean, and discourse as subtly of what it once was, when it lay drooping in a senseless passiveness.
But because the heavy minds, of men are so frequently sinking into this earthly fancy, we shall further search into the entrails of this philosophy; and see, how like that is to a rational soul, which it pretends to declare the production of. Lucretius first of all taking notice of the swiftness of the soul in all its operations, lest his matter should be tired and not able to keep pace with it, first casts the atoms prepared for this purpose into such perfect spherical and small figures, as might be most capable of these swift impressions; so lib. 3:
But yet though we should grant all this, how shall we force up these particles of matter into true and real perceptions, and make them perceive their own or others' motions How any such thing as sensation, and much more reason, should spring out of this barren soil, no composed mind can imagine. Indeed that infinite variety which is in the magnitude of parts, their positions, figures, and motions, may easily produce an infinite variety of phenomena. And accordingly where there is a sentient faculty, it may receive the greatest variety of impressions from then. Yet cannot the power of sensation arise from them, no more than vision can rise out of a glass, whereby it should be able to perceive the objects that paint themselves upon it, though it were never so exactly polished.
That which we call sensation, is not the motion or-impression which one body makes upon another,, but a recognition of that motion; and therefore to attribute that to a body, is to make a body privy to its own acts and passions, to act upon itself, and to have a true and proper self-feeling virtue. But our author makes a full confession for us in these two points: First, that no sense can judge another's objects, nor convince it of any mistake.
If therefore there be any such thing within us as controls -our senses, as all know there is; then must that be of an higher nature than our senses are.
Secondly, that all our sensation is nothing else but perception, and therefore wheresoever there is any mistake, that must arise from something else within us besides the power of sense, *.
In which words he has very happily lighted upon the proper function of sense, and the true reason of all those mistakes which we call the deceptions of sense, which indeed are not truly so, seeing they arise only from a higher faculty, and consist not in sensation itself, but in those deductions that our judgments draw from it.
Now what we have more generally intimated, we shall further branch out in these two or three particulars.
First, that that power whereby we judge and discern things, is so far from being a body, that it must withdraw itself from all bodily operation when so ever it will nakedly discern truth. For should our “souls always mould their judgment of things according to those impressions which seem_ to be framed thereof in the body, they must then
do nothing else but chain up errors and delusions one with another instead of truth: as should the judgments of our understandings wholly depend upon the sight of our eyes, we should then conclude that our mere accesses and recesses from any visible object have power to change the magnitudes of visible objects, and to transform them into all varieties of figures; and so attribute all that variety to them which we find in our corporeal perceptions; which is all unquestionable argument that that power whereby we discern things, and make judgments of them, is something distinct from the body.
Secondly, we also find such a faculty within our own souls as collects, and unites all the perceptions of our several senses, and is able to compare them together; something in which they all meet as in one center. Now we could not conceive how such an immense variety of impressions could be made upon any piece of matter, which should not obliterate and deface one another.
Thirdly, that knowledge which the soul retains in itself of things past, and in some sort prevision of things to come, whereby many grow so sagacious in fore-seeing future events, that they know how to dispose of present affairs, so as to be ready prepared for such emergencies as they see in a train and series of causes which sometimes -work but contingently: I cannot think Epicurus himself could in his cool thoughts be so unreasonable as to persuade himself, that all the shuffling and cutting of atoms
could produce such a divine piece of wisdom as this. What matter can thus bind up past, present, and future time together Which while the soul of man doth, it seems to imitate (as far as its own finite nature will permit) God's eternity. And grasping and gathering, together a long, series of duration into itself, makes an essay to free itself from the rigid laws of it, and to purchase to itself the freedom of a true eternity. And as by its successive operations, it unravels and unfolds the contexture of its own intellectual powers by degrees; so by this, memory and prevision it recollects and twists them up. All together again into itself. And though it seems to be continually sliding from itself in those several changes which it runs through ill the constant variety of its own emanations; yet it is always returning back again to its first original by a swift remembrance of all those motions and operations which have begot in it the first sense of this constant flux. As if we should see a sun-beam perpetually flowing forth from the bright body of the sun, and yet ever returning back to it again; it never loses any part of its being, because it never forgets what itself was. And though it may number out never so vast a length of its duration, yet it never comes nearer to its old age, but carries a lively sense of its youth and infancy, which it can at pleasure lay fast hold on, along with it.
But if our souls were nothing else but a complex of fluid atoms, bow should we be continually roving and sliding from ourselves, and soon forget what we once were The new matter that would come in to fill up that vacuity which the old bad made by its departure, would never know what the old were, nor what that should be that would succeed:” The Dew pilgrim and stranger-like soul would always be ignorant of what the other before it knew, and we should be wholly, some other bulk of being than we were before,” as Plotinus has excellently observed. It was a famous speech of Heraclitus,” a man cannot enter twice into the same river:” by which he was wont to express the constant flux of matter, which is the most unstable thing that may be. And if Epicurus's philosophy could free this heap of refined atoms, which it makes the soul to be, from this inconstant and flitting nature, and teach us how it could be some stable and immutable thing, always resting entire while it is, in the body; though we would thank him for such a goodly conceit as this is, yet we would make no doubt that it might as well be able to preserve itself from dissolution out of this gross body, as in it, seeing it is %no more secured -from the constant impulses of that more gross matter which is restlessly moving up and down in the body, than it is out of it. And yet for all that we should take the leave to say, such a jewel as this’ is too precious to be found in a dunghill. Mere matter could never thus stretch forth its feeble force, and spread itself over ail its own former pre-existencies. We may as well suppose this dull and heavy earth we tread upon to know how long it has dwelt in this part of the universe, and what variety of creatures have in all past ages sprung from it, and all those occurrences which have all this time happened upon it.
The second Argument for the Immortality of the Soul. Actions either mechanical or spontaneous. That spontaneous fictions evidence the Distinction of the Soul from the Body. That the Liberty of the Will is inconsistent with the Epicurean Principles. That the Conflict of Reason against the sensitive Appetite argues a Being in its superior to Matter.
We have done with what we intended for the first part of our discourse of the soul's immortality. We have hitherto looked at it rather as a thing complicated with and united to the body; and therefore considered it in those operations, which as they are not proper to the body, so neither are they altogether independent upon it, but are rather of a mixed nature.
We shall now take notice of it in those properties, in, the exercise whereof it has less commerce with the body, and more plainly declares that it is able to subsist and act without the aid of this matter which it informs.
And here we shall inquire, `1 Whether it path some kind of action so peculiar to itself, as not to depend upon the body.” And this soon offers itself in the first place to us in those elicit motions of it, as: the moralists are wont to name them; which, though they may end in those they call intemperate acts, yet have their first emanation from nothing else but the soul itself. For this purpose, we shall take notice of two sorts of actions, which are obvious to the experience of every one. The first are those which arise in us without any animadversion; the other are those that are consequent to it.
For we find frequently such motions as in ourselves are, before we take notice of them, and which, by their own turbulency and impetuousness, force us to an advertency; as those fiery spirits, and that inflamed blood which sometimes fly up into the head: or those gross and earthly fuiries that disturb our brains; the stirring of many other humors, which beget within us grief, anger, or other passions; which have their rise from such causes - as we are not aware of, nor gave consent to create this trouble to us. Besides all those passions and perceptions that are begotten in us by some external motions, which derive themselves through our senses, and fiercely knocking at the door of our understandings, force them sometimes from the deepest musings on some other thing, to open to them, and to give them an audience.
Indeed all our own corporeal actions are not perceived by us, but only those that serve to maintain a good correspondence between the soul and body, and so cherish that sympathy between them which is necessary for the well-being of the whole man in this state. And therefore there is very little of that which is commonly done in our bodies, which our souls are informed at all of. The constant circulation of the blood through all our veins and arteries; the common motions of our animal spirits in our nerves; the maceration of food within our stomachs, and the distribution of chyle and nourishment to every part that wants it; the constant flux and reflux of more sedate humors within us; the dissipations of our corporeal matter, by insensible transpiration, and the accesses of new in the room of it; all this we are little acquainted with by any vital energy that ariseth from the union of soul and body. And therefore when we would acquaint ourselves with the anatomy and vital functions of our own bodies, we are obliged to use the same method that we would to find out the same things in any other kind of animal, as if our souls had as little to do with any of these in our own bodies, as they have in the bodies of any other creature.
But, on the other side, we know, that many things that are done by us, are done at the dictate of our own wills; and therefore all such actions as these are, we know to attribute to their own proper causes, as seeing the propagation of them. We do riot, by a naked speculation, know our bodies first to have need of nourishment, and then, by the edict of our own wills, enjoin our spirits and humors to put themselves in an hungry posture within us, by corroding the tunicles of the stomach; but we first find our own souls solicited by these motions, which yet we are able to gainsay, arid to deny those petitions which they offer to us. We commonly meditate arid discourse of such arguments as we please. We mould designs, and contrive means answerable thereto, according as the free vote of our own souls determines; and use our own bodies many times, notwithstanding all the reluctances of nature, only as our instruments to serve the pleasure of our souls. All which, as they evidently manifest a true distinction between the soul and the body, so they do as evidently prove the supremacy and dominion which the soul has over the body.
Now whatsoever essence finds this freedom in itself, whereby it is absolved from the rigid laws of matter, may know itself also to be immaterial; and having, dominion over its own actions, it will never desert itself; and can say of all those assaults which are at any time made against those mud-walls, which in this life enclose it, “This is nothing to me, who am yet free, and can command within, when this feeble carcass is able no longer to obey me; and when. that is broken down, I ear live without- it; for.. I was not that, but had only a command over it, while I dwelt in it.”
Before we quit this head, we may add some further strength to it, from the observation of that conflict which the reasons and understandings of men maintain against the sensitive appetite. And wheresoever the higher powers of reason in a man's soul prevail not, but are vanquished by the impetuousness of their sensual affections; yet are they never so broken but they may strengthen themselves again; and where they subdue not men's inordinate passions, yet even there will they condemn them for them. Whereas were a man all of one piece, and made up of nothing but matter, these corporeal motions could never control themselves; these material dimensions could not struggle with themselves, or by their own strength render themselves any thing else than what they are. But this av7Err.,ovai& as the Greeks call it, this self-potent life, which is in the soul of man, acting upon itself, and drawing forth its own latent energy, finds itself able to tame the outward man, and bring under those rebellious motions that arise from the mere animal powers, and to tame and appease all those seditions arid mutinies that it finds there.
What it is that, beyond the highest Speculations, does evidence to a good Man the Immortality of his Soul. That true Goodness and Virtue begets the most raised Sense of this Immortality.
We shall add but one thing further to clear the soul's immortality, and it is indeed that which breeds a true sense of it, viz. true and real goodness. Our highest speculations of the soul may beget a sufficient conviction thereof within us, but yet it is only true goodness in Teen that can make them both know and love, believe and delight in their own immortality. Though every good mall is not so subtile as to be able by fit mediums to demonstrate his own immortality, yet he sees it in a higher light. His soul being purged and enlightened by true sanctity, is more capable of those Divine irradiations, whereby it feels itself in conjunction with God, and the light of Divine goodness mixing itself with the light of its own reason, sees more clearly not only that it may, if it please the Supreme Deity, of its own nature exist eternally, but also that it shall do so. It knows it shall never be deserted of that free goodness that always embraces it. It knows that Almighty love, by which it lives, to be stronger than death, and more powerful than the grave; it will not suffer those holy ones that are partakers of it to he in hell, or their souls to see corruption; and though worms may devour their flesh, and putrefaction enter into those bones that fence it, yet it knows that its Redeemer lives, and that it shall at last see him with a pure intellectual eye, which will then be clear and bright, when all that earthly dust, with which converse with this mortal body filled it, shall be wiped out. It knows that God will never forsake his own life which he has quickened in it; he will never deny those ardent desires of a blissful fruition of himself, which the lively sense of his own goodness has excited in it. Those breathings and gaspings after an eternal. participation of him are but the energy of his own breath within us; if he had had any mind to destroy it, he would never have shown it such things as he has done; he would not raise it up to such mounts of vision, to show it all the glory of that heavenly Canaan flowing with eternal and unbounded pleasures, and then tumble it down again into that deep and dark abyss of death and non-entity. Divine goodness cannot, will not, be so cruel to holy souls that are such ambitious suitors for his love. The more they contemplate the blissful effluxes of his Divine love upon themselves, the more they find themselves strengthened with an undaunted confidence in him; and look not upon themselves in these poor bodily relations and dependences, but in their eternal alliances, as the sons of God, who is the Father of souls; souls that are able to live any where in this spacious universe, and better out of this dark cell of bodily matter, which is always checking and clogging them in their noble motions, than in it; as knowing that when they leave this body, they shall then be received into everlasting habitations, and converse freely and familiarly with that source of life and spirit which they conversed, with in this life in a poor disturbed and straitened manner. It is indeed' nothing that makes men question the immortality of their souls so much as their own base and earthly loves, which first make them wish their souls were not immortal, mid then think they are not.
I might add many more reasons for a further confirmation of this, which are as numerous as the soul's relations and productions themselves are; but to every one who is willing to do his own soul right, the evidence already brought is more than sufficient.
We have now done with the confirmation of this point, which is the main basis of all religion. Yet I think it may not be amiss briefly to search into one main difficulty concerning the soul's immortality; and that is, that strange dependency which it seems to have on the body, whereby it seems constantly to comply and sympathize therewith, and to assume to itself the frailties and infirmities thereof, ‘to laugh and languish as it were together with that. And so, when the body is composed to rest, our soul seems to sleep together with it; and as the spring of bodily motion seated in our brain is more clear or muddy, so the conceptions of f our minds are more distinct or disturbed.
To answer this difficulty, we must take notice, that though our souls be of an incorporeal nature, yet they are united to our bodies, riot as assisting forms, as some have thought, but in some more immediate way; though we cannot tell what that is, it being the great secret in man's nature. But, indeed, to make such a complex thing as man is, it was necessary the soul should be so united to the body as to share in its passions and infirmities so far as they are void of sinfulness. And as the body alone could not perform any act of sensation or reason, so neither would the soul be capable of providing for the necessities of the body, without some feeling and sense of them; neither could it take sufficient care of this corporeal life, were it not solicited by the indecencies of our bodies. It could not be a mere speculation that would be so sensibly affected with hunger or cold, or other griefs that our bodies partake of, to move our souls to take care for their belief. And were there not such a commerce between our souls and bodies, as that our souls also might be made acquainted by a pleasurable sense of those things that most gratify our bodies, and tend most to the support of their temperament; the soul would be apt to neglect the body, and commit it wholly to all changes and casualties. Neither would it be any thing more to us than the body of a plant or star; and therefore that which determines the soul to this body more than that, must be some subtle tie that knits and unites it to it. Heraclitus tells us, there is * a way that leads upwards and downwards,” between the soul and body, whereby their affairs are made known to one another. For as our souls could not have sufficient information of the condition of our bodies, except they received some impressions from them; so neither could our souls make use of our bodies, or derive their own virtue into them, without some intermediate motions. For as some motions may seem to have their beginning in our bodies, or in some external mover, which are not known by our souls till their advertency be awakened by the impetuousness of them; so some other motions are derived by our own wills into our bodies, but yet in such a way as they cannot be into any other body; for we cannot, by the mere power of our wills, move any thing else without ourselves, nor follow any such power by a concurrent sense of those mutations that are made by it, as we do in our own bodies.
And as this conjugal affection between soul and body is thus necessary to the being of mankind, so we may further take notice of some peculiar part within us where all this first begins; which is the brain, from whence all those nerves that conduct the animal spirits up and down the body, take their first original; seeing we find all motions that first arise in our bodies to direct their course straight up to that, and all the intemperate motions of our wills issuing forth from the same consistory. Therefore the animal spirits, by reason of their constant mobility and swift motion, ascending to the place of our nerves origination, move the soul, which there sits enthroned, in some mysterious way; and descending at the beck of our wills from thence, move all the muscles and joints in such sort as they are directed by the soul. And if we observe the subtile mechanics of our own bodies, we may easily conceive how the least motion in these animal spirits will, by their relaxing or distending the nerves, membranes and muscles, according to their different quantity, or the celerity and quality of their motions, beget all kinds of motions likewise in the organical parts of our bodies. And because the soul has all corporeal passions and impressions thus conveyed to it, without which it could not express a due benevolence to the body; therefore, as the motions of these animal spirits are more or less disorderly and confused, or gentle and composed; so those souls especially who have not by grace the dominion over them, are also more or less affected proportionally in their operations. And therefore, to question whether the soul, that is of an immortal nature, can entertain these corporeal passions, is to doubt whether God could make a man, or not, and to question that which we find by experience in ourselves; for we find both that it doth thus, and yet that the original of these is sometimes from our bodies, and sometimes again by the force of our wills they are impressed upon our bodies.