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saw at work in a neighbouring wood; these people conducted him to a town that stood at a little distance from the wood, where, after some adventures, he married a woman of great beauty and fortune. He lived with this woman so long, till he had by her seven sons and seven daughters : he was afterwards reduced to great want, and forced to think of plying in the streets as a porter for his livelihood. One day as he was walking alone by the seaside, being seized with many melancholy reflexions upon his for
mer and his present state of life, which had raised a fit of devotion 10 in him, he threw off his clothes with a design to wash himself, ac
cording to the custom of the Mahometans, before he said his prayers.
After his first plunge into the sea, he no sooner raised his head above the water, but he found himself standing by the side of the tub, with the great men of his court about him, and the holy man at his side. He immediately upbraided his teacher for having sent him on such a course of adventures, and betrayed him into so long a state of misery and servitude; but was wonderfully surprised
when he heard that the state he talked of was only a dream and 20 delusion; that he had not stirred from the place where he then
stood; and that he had only dipped his head in the water, and immediately taken it out again.
The Mahometan doctor took this occasion of instructing the Sultan, that nothing was impossible with God; and that he, with whom a thousand years are but as one day, can, if he pleases, make a single day, nay, a single moment, appear to any of his creatures as a thousand years.
I shall leave my reader to compare these eastern fables with the notions of those two great philosophers whom I have quoted 30 in this paper; and shall only, by way of application, desire him to
consider how we may extend life beyond its natural dimensions, by applying ourselves diligently to the pursuits of knowledge.
The hours of a wise man are lengthened by his ideas as those of a fool are by his passions. The time of the one is long, because he does not know what to do with it; so is that of the other, because he distinguishes every moment of it with useful or amusing thoughts; or in other words, because the one is always wishing it away, and the other always enjoying it.
How different is the view of past life, in the man who is grown 40 old in knowledge and wisdom, from that of him who is grown cld
in ignorance and folly? The latter is like the owner of a barren country, that fills his eye with the prospect of naked hills and plains, which produce nothing either profitable or ornamental; the other beholds a beautiful and spacious landskip », divided into delightful gardens, green meadows, fruitful fields, and can scarce cast his eye upon a single spot of his possession, that is not covered with some beautiful plant or flower.-L.
No. 111. On Immortality ; beautiful speculation tending to establish
its probability from the fact of the unlimited progressiveness of the
Hor. Ep. ii. 2. 45. To search for truth in academic groves. The course of my last speculation ? led me insensibly into a subject upon which I always meditate with great delight, I mean 10 the immortality of the soul. I was yesterday walking alone in one
of my friend's woods, and lost myself in it very agreeably, as I was running over in my mind the several arguments that establish this great point, which is the basis of morality, and the source of all the pleasing hopes and secret joys that can arise in the heart of a reasonable creature. I considered those several proofs, drawn;
First, From the nature of the soul itself, and particularly its immateriality; which, though not absolutely necessary to the
eternity of its duration, has, I think, been evinced to almost a 20 demonstration.
Secondly, From its passions and sentiments, as particularly from its love of existence, its horror of annihilation, and its hopes of immortality, with that sweet satisfaction which it finds in the practice of virtue, and that uneasiness which follows in it upon the commission of vice.
Thirdly, From the nature of the Supreme Being, whose justice, goodness, wisdom, and veracity, are all concerned in this point.
But among these and other excellent arguments for the immortality of the soul, there is one drawn from the perpetual 30 progress of the soul to its perfection, without a possibility of ever
1 See the end of No. 110, at page 26.
arriving at it; which is a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved by others who have written on this subject, though it seems to me to carry a great weight with it. How can it enter into the thoughts of man, that the soul, which is capable of such immense perfections, and of receiving new improvements to all eternity, shall fall away into nothing almost as soon as it is created ?
Are such abilities made for no purpose ? A brute arrives at a point of perfection that he can never pass:
in a few years he has all the endowments he is capable of; and 10 were he to live ten thousand more, would be the same thing he
is at present. Were a human soul thus at a stand in her accomplishments, were her faculties to be full blown, and incapable of farther enlargements, I could imagine it might fall away insensibly, and drop at once into a state of annihilation. But can we believe a thinking being that is in a perpetual progress of improvements, and travelling on from perfection to perfection, after having just looked abroad into the works of its Creator, and made a few discoveries of his infinite goodness, wisdom, and
power, must perish at her first setting out, and in the very 20 beginning of her inquiries?
A man, considered in his present state, seems only sent into the world to propagate his kind. He provides himself with a successor, and immediately quits his post to make room for him.
Hor. Ep. ii. 2. 175. He does not seem born to enjoy life, but to deliver it down to others. This is not surprising to consider in animals, which are
formed for our use, and can finish their business in a short life. 30 The silk-worm, after having spun her task, lays her eggs and
dies. But a man can never have taken in his full measure of knowledge, has not time to subdue his passions, establish his soul in virtue, and come up to the perfection of his nature, before he is hurried off the stage. Would an infinitely wise being make such glorious creatures for so mean a purpose ? Can he delight in the production of such abortive intelligences, such short-lived reasonable beings ? Would he give us talents that are not to be exerted; capacities that are never to be gratified? How can we find that wisdom which shines through all his works, in the forma.
THE MIND PROGRESSIVE.
tion of man, without looking on this world as only a nursery for the next, and believing that the several generations of rational creatures, which rise up and disappear in such quick successions, are only to receive their first rudiments of existence here, and afterwards to be transplanted into a more friendly climate, where they may spread and flourish to all eternity?
There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion than this, of the perpetual progress
which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, with10 out ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going
on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine for ever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself to see his creation ever beautifying in his eyes and drawing nearer to him by greater degrees of resemblance.
Methinks this single consideration of the progress of a finite 20 spirit to perfection, will be sufficient to extinguish all envy in inferior natures, and all contempt in superior.
That cherubin, which now appears as a god to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is: nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being; but he knows that, how high
soever the station is of which he stands possessed at present, the 30 inferior nature will at length mount up to it, and shine forth in the same degree of glory.
With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our own souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted forces of perfection! We know not yet what we shall be, nor will it ever enter into the heart of man to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him. The soul, considered with its Creator, is like one of those mathematical lines n that may draw nearer to another without the
possibility of touching it: and can there be a thought so trans40 porting, as to consider ourselves in these perpetual approaches to him who is not only the standard of perfection but of happiness?—L.
No. 182. On Inconsistency and Fickleness; necessary to be on one's guard against them; quotation from Dryden.
Servetur ad imum,
Hor. Ars Poet. I 26. Preserve consistency throughout the whole. Nothing that is not a real crime makes a man appear so contemptible and little in the eyes of the world as inconstancy, especially when it regards religion or party. In either of these cases, though a man perhaps does but his duty in changing his side, he not only makes himself hated by those he left, but is seldom heartily esteemed by those he comes over to.
In these great articles of life therefore a man's conviction 10 ought to be very strong, and, if possible, so well timed, that
worldly advantages may seem to have no share in it, for mankind will be ill natured enough to think he does not change sides out of principle, but either out of levity of temper or prospects of interest. Converts and renegadoes of all kinds should take particular care to let the world see they act upon honourable motives; or whatever approbations they may receive from themselves, and applauses from those they converse with, they may be very well assured that they are the scorn of all good men, and the public marks of infamy and derision.
Irresolution on the schemes of life which offer themselves to our choice, and inconstancy in pursuing them, are the greatest and most universal causes of all our disquiet and unhappiness. When ambition pulls one way, interest another, inclination a third, and perhaps reason contrary to all, a man is likely to pass his time but ill who has so many different parties to please. When the mind hovers among such a variety of allurements, one had better settle on a way of life that is not the very best we might have chosen, that grow old without determining our
choice, and go out of the world, as the greatest part of mankind 30 do, before we have resolved how to live in it. There is but one
method of setting ourselves at rest in this particular, and that is by adhering stedfastly to one great end as the chief and ultimate