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even for the comparison, because one of the two things is wholly void of that, which is the principal and chief thing in the other, the power of perception and action, and which is the only thing we are inquiring about the continuance of.'
We now call it death to leave this world; but, were we once out of it, we should think it dying indeed to come into it again: indeed, could we see the glories of the other world, it would make us impatient of living here, and, possibly, that is one reason why they are concealed from us.2
They truly live who have flown out of the trammels of their bodies, as from incarceration. More truly what you now call life may be esteemed death.R
That man's soul is immortal, and destined to a future state of life, in joy or pain respectively, according to his merits or demerits in this life, were opinions that did commonly possess men's minds from their education, continued through all times, as even philosophers themselves confess. "We must believe," says Plato," the reports of this kind, being so many and so very ancient." "We suppose," saith Cicero, "that souls abide after death, from the consent of all nations." 4
For aught we know of ourselves, of our present life and death, death may immediately, in the
1 Butler, Anal. 41.
2 Sherlock, 24.
3 Somnium Scipionis. "Immo vero ii vivunt, qui ex corporum vinculis, tanquam e carcere, evolaverunt: vestra vero, quæ dicitur vita, mors est."
4 See Barrow's Serm. vol. ii. 109. fol.
natural course of things, put us into a higher and more enlarged state of life, as our birth does; a state in which our capacities and sphere of perception and of action may be much greater than at present.'
It is impossible that any thing so certain, and so universal, as death, can be intended as an evil to mankind.2
We may certainly conclude, that God would not remove good men out of this world were this the happiest place.3
Human nature was certainly made for greater things than the enjoyments of sense.*
We have reason to believe, that death only translates us into another world, where the beginnings of wisdom and virtue here grow up into perfection."
Now if our life in this world be only in order to another life, we ought not to expect our complete happiness here. . . . . The great end of living in this world is to be happy in the next; and therefore we must wisely improve present things, that they may turn to future account."
There is nothing more universal or more constant than the strong desire of immortality which possesses the mind. That a benevolent Being should have implanted this propensity, without the intention of gratifying it, and to serve no very apparent purpose, unless it be the proving that it is without an object, appears difficult to believe; for, certainly, the instinctive fear of death would have
1 Butler, Analogy, 40.
3 Sherlock, 15.
5 Ibid. 23.
6 Ibid.27, 28.
served all the purposes of self-preservation, without any desire of immortality being connected with it.1
In answer to the wild doctrines of materialism, let us remember that we know the existence of mind by our consciousness of, or reflection on, what passes within us: to know that we are, and that we think, implies a knowledge of the soul's existence. The celebrated argument of Des Cartes, cogito ergo sum, had a correct and a profound meaning.2 Now this knowledge is altogether independent of matter; and the subject of it bears no resemblance whatever to matter in any one of its qualities, or habits, or modes of action; nay, we only know the existence of matter through the operations of the mind; and, were we to doubt of the existence of either, it would be far more reasonable to doubt that matter exists, than that mind exists. The existence and the operations of mind will account for all the phenomena which matter is supposed to exhibit; but the existence and action of matter will never account for one of the phenomena of mind.
That our mind-that which remembers, compares, imagines; in a word, that which thinks; that, of the existence of which we are perpetually conscious; that which cannot but exist if we exist; that which can make its own operations the subject of its own thoughts;-that this should have no existence, is both impossible and, indeed, a contradiction in terms. Now this leads to the strongest
1 Lord Brougham, Nat. Theol. 128.
2 Ibid. 241.
inferences in favour of the mind surviving the body with which it is connected through life. All our experience shows us no one instance of annihilation: matter is perpetually changing-never destroyed. The body decays, and is said to perish; that is, it is resolved into its elements, and becomes the material of new combinations, animate and inanimate, but not a single particle is annihilated. It may be said, Why should not the mind be changed, or dissipated, or resolved into its elements? The answer is plain : it differs from the body in this, that it has no parts; it is absolutely one and simple; therefore it is incapable of resolution or dissolution.'
Have this persuasion-not that thou thyself art mortal, but this body of thine;-nor that thou art what this outward form declares thee to be; but that what the mind of each one declares him to be, that he is.2
Many men take a great deal more pains for this world than heaven would cost them; and when they have it, don't know how to live to enjoy it.3
We are to remember, too, that the period of our lives is not so peremptorily determined by God, but that we may lengthen or shorten them, live longer or die sooner, according as we behave ourselves in this world. Thus some men destroy a healthful and vigorous constitution of body by intemperance
1 Lord Brougham's Discourse of Natural Theology, pp. 105-108. 241, &c. condensed.
2 Somnium Scipionis. "Sic habeto, non esse te mortalem, sed corpus hoc; nec enim tu is es, quem forma ista declarat, sed mens cujusque, is est quisque."
3 Sherlock, 147.
and lust, and do as manifestly kill themselves as those who hang, or poison, or drown themselves.'
It is fit that men should take a thorough review of their lives and actions; what they have still to do, to make their peace with God and their own consciences: whether there be any sin which they have not thoroughly repented of, and heartily begged God's pardon for; any injury they have done their neighbour, for which they have not made restitution and reparation; whether they have any quarrel with any man which is not composed and reconciled; whether there is any part of their duty, which they have formerly too much neglected, as charity to the poor; the wise education and instruction of their children and families; and to apply themselves to a more diligent discharge of it; what distempers there are in their minds which still need to be rectified; what graces are weakest; what passions are most disorderly and unmortified; and to apply proper remedies to them.
This is an excellent preparation for death, because it will give us great hope and assurance in dying. It gives us peace and satisfaction in our own minds by a thorough knowledge of our own state, and by rectifying whatever is amiss.?
These fears of death are perpetual calls to man to secure to himself that life which shall never fail.3 The great thing is to make up our accounts in this world, so as to be ready at any moment to go
1 Sherlock, 153. 155.
3 Ibid. Serm. 9.
2 Ibid. 126, 127.