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creature as man? Can any one approve of Alexanders rage, who intended to exterminate a whole nation because they had seized his favorite horse Bucephalus ? *
Heaven and Hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad; but the greatest part of mankind floats betwixt vice and virtue. -—Were one to go round the world with an intention of giving a good supper to the righteous, and a found drubbing to the wicked, he would frequently be embarrassed in his choice, and would find that the merits and the demerits of most men and women scarcely amount to the value of either.—To suppose measures of approbation and blame different from the human confounds every thing. Whence do we learn that there is such a thing as moral distinctions, but from our own sentiments ? —What man who has not met with personal provocation ( or what good-natured man who has) could inflict on crimes, from the sense of blame alone, even the common, legal, frivolous punishments? And does any thing steel the breast of judges and juries against the sentiments of humanity but reflection on necessity and public interest ? By the Roman law those who had been guilty of parricide, and confessed their crime, were put into a sack along with an ape, a dog, and a serpent, and thrown into the river. Death alone was the punishment of those who denied their
* Quint. Curtius. lib. VI. cap. $.
guilt, however fully proved. A criminal was tried before Augustus, and condemned after a full conviction; but the humane emperor, when he put the last interrogatory, gave it such a turn as to lead the wretch into a denial of his guilt. *' You surely (said the prince) did not kill your father.''" This lenity suits our natural ideas of right even towards the greatest of all criminals , and even though it prevents so inconsiderable a sufferance. Nay even the most bigotted priest would naturally, without reflection, approve of it provided the crime was not heresy or infidelity; for as these crimes hurt himself in his temporal interest and advantages, perhaps he may not be altogether so indulgent to them. The chief source of moral ideas is the reflection on the interest of human society. Ought these interests, so short, so frivolous, to be guarded by punishments eternal and infinite? The damnation of one man is an infinitely greater evil in the universe, than the subversion of a thousand millions of kingdoms. Nature has rendered human infancy peculiarly frail and mortal, as it were on purpose to refute the notion of a probationary state; the half of mankind die before they are rational creatures. III. The Physical arguments from the analogy of nature are strong for the mortality of the foul, and are really the only philosophical arguments which ought to be admitted with regard to this question, or indeed any question of fact.—Where
• Suet. AuguC cap. 31
any two objects are so closely connected that all alterations which we have ever seen in the one, are attended with proportionable alterations in the other, we ought to conclude by all rules of analogy, that when there are still greater alterations produced in the former, and it is totally dissolved, there follows a total dissolution of the latter.—Sleep, a very small effect on the body, is attended with a temporary extinction, at least a great confusion in the soul.—The weakness of the body and that of the mind in infancy are exactly proportioned, their vigor in manhood; their sympathetic disorder in sickness j their common gradual decay in old age. The step further seems unavoidable; their common dissolution in death. The last symptoms which the mind discovers are disorder, weakness, insensibility, and stupidity, the forerunners of its annihilation. The farther progress of the same causes increasing, the same effects totally extinguish it. Judging by the usual analogy of nature, no form can continue when transferred to a condition of life very different from the original one, in which it was placed. Trees perish in the water, fishes in the air, animals in the earth. Even so small a difference as that of climate is often fatal. What reason then to imagine, that an immense alteration, such as is made on the foul by the dissolution of its body, and all its' organs of thought and sensation, can be effected without the dissolution of the whole? Every thing is in common betwixt foul and body. The organs of the one are all of them the organs of the other. The existence therefore of the one must be dependant on that of the other.—The fouls of animals are allowed to be mortal; and these bear so near a resemblance to the souls of men, that the analogy from one to the other forms a very strong argument. Their bodies are not more resembling; yet no one rejects the argument drawn from comparative anatomy. The Metempsychosis is therefore the only system of this kind that philosophy can hearken to. (4)
Nothing in this world is perpetual, every thing however seemingly firm is in continual flux and change, the world itself gives symptoms of frailty and dissolution. How contrary to analogy, therefore, to imagine that one single form, seemingly the frailest of any, and subject to the greatest disorders, is immortal and indissoluble? (5) What daring theory is that! how lightly, not to fay how rashly entertained! How to dispose of the infinite number of posthumous existences ought also to embarrass the religious theory. Every planet in every solar system we are at liberty to imagine peopled with intelligent mortal beings, at least we can fix on no other supposition. For these then a new universe must every generation be created beyond the bounds of the present universe, or one must have been created at first so'prodigiously wide as to admit of this continual influx of beings. (6) Ought such bold suppositions to be received by any philosophy, and that merely on the pretext of; a bare possibility? When it is asked whether Agamemnon, Therjites, Hannibal, Varro, and every stupid clown that ever existed in Italy, Scythia, Battria or Guinea , are now alive; can any man think, that a scrutiny of nature will furnish arguments strong enough to answer so strange a question in the affirmative? The want of argument without revelation sufficiently establishes the negative.— "Quantofaeilius (says Pliny*) "certiusque, Jlbi' quemque credere r ac specimen "-Jecuritatis antigenitali Jumere experiments '* Our insensibility before the composition of the body seems to natural reason a proof of a like state after dissolution. — Were our horrors of annihilation an original passion, not the effect of ©ur general love of happiness , it would rather prove the mortality of the foul. For as nature does nothing in vain, she would never give us a horror against an impossible event. She may give us a horror against an unavoidable event, provided our endeivours, as in the present case, may often remove it to some distance. Death is in the end unavoidable; yet the human species could not be preserved, had not nature inspired ns with an aversion towards it. All doctrines are to be suspected which are favored by our passion*'; and the hopes and fears which gave rife to this doctrine are very obvious.