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of moment infinite! but relish'd most
Renounce his reason, rather than renounce By those who love thee most, who most adore. The dust belov'd, and run the risk of Heaven?
Nature, thy daughter, ever-changing birth O what indignity to deathless souls ! Of thee the great Immutable, to man
What treason to the majesty of man! Speaks wisdom: is his oracle supreme ;
Of man immortal! Hear the lofty style : And he who most consults her, is most wise. “ If so decreed, th' Almighty Will be done. Lorenzo, to this heavenly Delphos haste ;
Let Earth dissolve, yon ponderous orbs descend, And come back all-immortal; all-divine :
And grind us into dust. The soul is safe ; Look Nature through, tis revolution all;
The man emerges; mounts above the wreck, All change ; no death. Day follows night, and night As towering flame from Nature's funeral pyre ; The dying day; stars rise, and set, and rise ; O’er devastation, as a gainer, smiles; Earth takes th' example See, the Summer gay, His charter, his inviolable rights, With her green chaplet, and ambrosial flowers, Well pleas'd to learn from thunder's impotence, Droops into pallid Autumn: Winter grey,
Death's pointless darts, and Hell's defeated storms." Horrid with frost, and turbulent with storm,
But these chimeras touch not thee, Lorenzo ! Blows Autumn, and his golden fruits, away: The glories of the world thy sevenfold shield. Then melts into the Spring : soft Spring, with breath Other ambition than of crowns in air, Favonian, from warm chambers of the south, And superlunary felicities, Recalls the first. All, to re-flourish, fades; Thy bosom warm. I'll cool it, if I can; As in a wheel, all sinks, to reascend :
And turn those glories that enchant, against thee. Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
What ties thee to this life, proclaims the next. With this minute distinction, emblems just, If wise, the cause that wounds thee is thy cure. Nature revolves, but man advances; both
Come, my ambitious ! let us mount together, Eternal, that a circle, this a line.
(To mount, Lorenzo never can refuse); That gravitates, this soars. Th' aspiring soul, And from the clouds, where pride delights to dwell, Ardent, and tremulous, like flame, ascends,
Look down on Earth. What see'st thou? WonZeal and humility her wings, to Heaven.
drous things! The world of matter, with its various forms, Terrestrial wonders, that eclipse the skies. All dies into new life. Life born from death What lengths of labor'd lands! what loaded seas ! Rolls the vast mass, and shall for ever roll. Loaded by man for pleasure, wealth, or war! No single atom, once in being, lost,
Seas, winds, and planets, into service brought, With change of counsel charges the Most High. His art acknowledge, and promote his ends. What hence infers Lorenzo ? Can it be?
Nor can th' eternal rocks his will withstand : Mauer immortal? And shall spirit die?
What level'd mountains! and what lifted vales! Above the nobler, shall less noble rise ?
O'er vales and mountains sumptuous cities swell, Shall man alone, for whom all else revives, And gild our landscape with their glittering spires. No resurrection know? Shall man alone,
Some 'mid the wondering waves majestic rise ; Imperial man! be sown in barren ground, And Neptune holds a mirror to their charms. Less privileg'd than grain, on which he feeds? Far greater still! (what cannot mortal might?) Is man, in whom alone is power to prize
See, wide dominions ravish'd from the deep! The bliss of being, or with previous pain
The narrow'd deep with indignation foams.
Or southward turn; to delicate and grand,
How the tall temples, as to meet their gods,
Ascend the skies ! the proud triumphal arch Look Nature through, 'tis neat gradation all. Shows us half Heaven beneath its ample bend. By what minute degrees her scale ascends ! High through mid-air, here, streams are taught to Each middle nature join'd at each extreme, To that above is join'd, to that heneath.
Whole rivers, there, laid by in basons, sleep. Parts, into parts reciprocally shot,
Here, plains turn oceans; there, vast oceans join Abhor divorce: what love of union reigns ! Through kingdoms channel'd deep from shore to Here, dormant matter waits a call to life ;
shore! Half-life, half-death, join'd there; here life and sense ; And chang'd creation takes its face from man. There, sense from reason steals a glimmering ray; Beats thy brave breast for formidable scenes, Reason shines out in man. But how preserv'd Where fame and empire wait upon the sword? The chain unbroken upward, to the realms See fields in blood ; hear naval thunders rise ; of incorporeal life? those realms of bliss
Britannia's voice! that awes the world to peace. Where death hath no dominion?. Grant a make How yon enormous mole, projecting, breaks Half-mortal, half-immortal; earthy, part,
'The mid-sea, furious waves! Their rear amidst, And part ethereal ; grant the soul of man
Out-speaks the Deity, and says, “O main! Eternal; or in man the series ends.
Thus far, nor farther; new restraints obey." Wide yawns the gap; connexion is no more ; Earth's disemboweld! measur'd are the skies ! Check'd reason halts; her next step wants support; Stars are detected in their deep recess! Striving to climb, she tumbles from her scheme; Creation widens! vanquish'd Nature yields ! A scheme, analogy pronounc'd so true;
Her secrets are extorted! art prevails ! Analogy, man's surest guide below.
What monument of genius, spirit, power! Thus far, all Nature calls on thy belief.
And now, Lorenzo! raptured at this scene, And will Lorenzo, careless of the call,
Whose glories render Heaven superfluous ! say, Falso attestation on all Nature charge,
Whose footsteps these ?- Immortals have been here. Rather than violate his league with death? Could less than souls immortal this have done?
Earth's cover'd o'er with proofs of souls immortal : in their favor, and none at all on the other, And proofs of immortality forgot.
they catch at this reed, they lay hold on this To flatter thy grand foible, I confess,
chimera, to save themselves from the shock and These are ambition's works: and these are great: horror of an immediate and absolute despair. But this, the least immortal souls can do ;
On reviewing my subjeci, by the light which this Transcend them all. But what can these transcend ? argument, and others of like tendency, ihrew Dost ask me what ?-One sigh for the distrest.
upon it, I was more inclined than ever to pursue What then for infidels? A deeper sigh.
it, as it appeared to me to strike directly at the 'Tis moral grandeur makes the mighty man:
main root of all our infidelity. In the following How lilile they, who think aught great below! pages, it is, accordingly, pursued at large; and All our ambitions Death defeats, but one;
some arguments for immortality, new at least to And that it crowns. Here cease we: but, ere long, me, are ventured on in them. There also the More powerful proof shall take the field against thee, writer has made an attempt to set the gross ab Stronger than death, and smiling at the tomb.
surdities and horrors 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 NIGHT THE SEVENTH.
chiefly made, profess great admiration for the
wisdom of heathen antiquity : what pity it is they THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED.
are not sincere! If they were sincere, how
would it mortify them to consider, with what PART II.
contempt and abhorrence their notions would
have been received by those whom they so much Containing the Nature, Proof, and Importance, of
admire! What degree of contempt and abhorImmortality.
rence would fall to their share, may be conjectured by the following matter of fact (in my
opinion) extremely memorable. Of all their beaAs we are at war with the power, it were well if we then worthies, Socrates (it is well known) was
were at war with the manners, of France. A the most guarded, dispassionate, and composed : land of levity is a land of guilt. A serious mind yet this great master of temper was angry; and is the native soil of every virtue; and the single angry at his last hour ; and angry with his friend; character that does true honor to mankind. and angry for what deserved acknowledgment; The soul's immortality has been the favorite angry for a right and tender instance of true theme with the serious of all ages. Nor is it friendship towards him. Is not this surprising? strange; it is a subject by far the most interest What could be the cause? The cause was for ing, and important, that can enter the mind of his honor; it was a truly noble, though, perhaps,
Of highest moment this subject always a too punctilious regard for immortality : for, his was and always will be. Yet this its highest friend asking him, with such an affectionate con. moment seems to admit of increase, at this day; cern as became a friend, "Where he should a sort of occasional importance is superadded to deposit his remains !" it was resented by Socrates the natural weight of it; if that opinion which is as implying a dishonorable supposition, that he advanced in the preface to the preceding Night, could be so mean, as to have a regard for any be just. It is there supposed, that all our infidels, thing, even in himself, that was not immortal. whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to This fact, well considered, would make our infidels keep themselves in countenance, they patronize, withdraw their admiration from Socrates; or are betrayed into their deplorable error, by sonie make them endeavor, by their imitation of this doubts of their immortality, at the bottom. And illustrious example, to share his glory: and conthe more I consider this point, the more I am sequently, it would incline them to peruse the persuaded of the truth of that opinion. Though following pages with candor and impartiality; the distrust of a futurity is a strange error; yet
which is all I desire ; and that, for their sakes: it is an error into which bad men may naturally for I am persuaded, that an unprejudiced infidel be distressed. For it is impossible to bid de must, necessarily, receive some advantageous in. fiance to final ruin, without some refuge in pressions from them. imagination, some presumption of escape. And
July 7, 1744. what presumption is there? There are but two in nature ; but two, within the compass of human
Contents of the Seventh Night. thought. And these are That either God will not, or can not punish. . Considering the divine in the Sixth Night, arguments were drawn from attributes, the first is too gross to be digested by Nature, in proof of immortality: here, others are our strongest wishes. And since omnipotence is drawn from man: from his discontent ; from his as much a divine attribute as holiness, that God passions and powers; from the gradual growth of cannot punish, is as absurd a supposition as the reason ; from his fear of death ; from the nature former. God certainly can punish as long as of hope, and of virtue ; from knowledge and love, wicked men exist. In non-existence, therefore, as being the most essential properties of the soul; is their only refuge; and, consequently, non from the order of creation; from the nature of existence is their strongest wish. And strong ambition ; avarice ; pleasure. A digression on the wishes have a strange influence on our opinions : grandeur of the passions. Immortality alone renthey bias the judgment, in a manner almost ders our present state inteligible. An objection incredible. And since on this member of their from the Stoic's disbelief of immortality answered. alternative, there are some very small appearances Endless questions unresolvable, but on suppo
sition of our immortality. The natural, most The cause how obyious, when his reason wakes ! melancholy, and pathetic complaint of a worthy His grief is but his grandeur in disguise ; man, under the persuasion of no futurity, The And discontent is immortality. gross absurdities and horrors of annihilation urged Shall sons of ether, shall the blood of Heaven, home on Lorenzo. The soul's vast importance ; Set up their hopes on Earth, and stable here from whence it arises. The difficulty of being With brutal acquiescence in the mire? an infidel. The infamy, the cause, and the char- Lorenzo! no! they shall be nobly pain'd ; acter of an infidel state. What true free-think. The glorious foreigners, distress'd, shall sigh ing is. The necessary punishment of the false. On thrones; and thou congratulate the sigh: Man's ruin is from himself. An infidel accuses Man's misery declares him born for bliss ; himself of guilt, and hypocrisy; and that of the His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing, worst sort His obligation to Christians. What And gives the sceptic in his head the lie. danger he incurs by virtue. Vice recommended Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our powers to him. His high pretences to virtue and benevo- Speak the same language; call us to the skies ; lence exploded. The conclusion, on the nature Unripend these in this inclement clime, of faith, reason, and hope, with an apology for this Scarce rise above conjecture and mistake; attempt.
And for this land of trifles those too strong
Tumultuous rise, and tempest human life: HEAVEN gives the needful, but neglected, call. What prize on Earth can pay us for the storm ? What day, what hour, but knocks at human hearts, Meet objects for our passions, Heaven ordain'd, To wake the soul to sense of future scenes ? Objects that challenge all their fire, and leave Deaths stand, like Mercuries, in every way, No fault, but in defect. Blest Heaven! avert And kindly point us to our journey's end.
A bounded ardor for unbounded bliss !
A brighter sun, and in a nobler soil,
Transplanted from this sublunary bed, Through various parts our glorious story runs ; Shall flourish fair, and put forth all their bloom. Time gives the preface, endless age unrolls
Reason progressive, instinct is complete;
The patriarch-pupil would be learning still;
Should set ere noon, in eastern oceans drown'd; He, whose blind thought futurity denies,
If fit, with dim, illustrious to compare, Unconscious bears, Bellerophon! like thee, The Sun's meridian with the soul of man. His own indictment; he condemns himself; To man, why, stepdame Nature ! so severe? Who reads his bosom, reads immortal life;
Why thrown aside thy masterpiece half-wrought. Or, Nature, there, imposing on her sons,
While meaner efforts thy last hand enjoy ? Has written fables; man was made a lie.
Or, if abortively poor man must die, Why discontent for ever harbor'd there? Nor reach, what reach he might, why die in dread? Incurable consumption of our peace!
Why curst with foresight? Wise to misery?
Why of his proud prerogative the prey ?
And turn the scale in favor of the just!
His immortality alone can solve
Hope, eager hope, th' assassin of our joy,
With no past toils content, still planning new, Than was ordain’d his cravings to suffice,
Hope turns us o'er to death alone for ease. Poor in abundance, famish'd at a feast,
Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit ? Sighs on for something more, when most enjoy'd. Why is a wish far dearer than a crown?
Is Heaven then kinder to thy flocks than thee? That wish accomplish'd, why, the grave of bliss ? Not so; thy pasture richer, but remote;
Because, in the great future buried deep, In part, remote ; for that remoter part
Beyond our plans of empire, and renown, Man bleats from instinct, tho' perhaps, debauch'd Lies all that man with ardor should pursue, By sense, his reason sleeps, not dreams the cause. And he who made him, bent him to the right.
Man's heart th' Almighty to the future sets, Night the Sixth
By secret and inviolable springs ;
And makes his hope his sublunary joy.
Can man by reason's beam be led astray ? Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still; Or, at his peril, imitate his God? * More, more!'' the glutton cries, for something Since virtue sometimes ruins us on Earth, new;
Or both are true; or man survives the grave. So rages appetite, if man can't mount,
Or man survives the grave; or own, Lorenzo, He will descend. He starves on the possest. Thy boast supreme, a wild absurdity. Hence, the world's master, from ambition's spire, Dauntless thy spirit; cowards are thy scorn. In Caprea plung'd ; and div'd beneath the brute. Grant man immortal, and thy scorn is just. In that rank sly, why wallow'd empire's son The man immortal, rationally brave, Supreme ? Because he could no higher fly; Dares rush on death because he cannot die. His riot was ambition in despair.
But if man Joses all, when life is lost,
From pride, example, lucre, rage, revenge,
Of all Earth's madmen, most deserves a chain. And, never stooping, but to mount again
When to the grave we follow the renown'd Next moment, she betrays her aim's mistake, For valor, virtue, science, all we love, And owns her quarry lodg'd beyond the grave. And all we praise ; for worth, whose noontide bean
There should it fail us, (it must fail us there, Enabling us to think in higher style, If being fails,) more mournful riddles rise,
Mends our ideas of ethereal powers; And virtue vies with hope in mystery.
Dream we, that lustre of the moral world Why virtue ? Where its praise, its being, fled? Goes out in stench, and rottenness the close ? Virtue is true self-interest pursued :
Why was he wise to know, and warm to praise,
With night eternal blot it out, and give
Shall we this moment gaze on God in man:
The next, lose man for ever in the dust! The rigid guardian of a blameless heart,
From dust we disengage, or man mistakes ; So long rever'd, so long reputed wise,
And there, where least his judgment fears a flaw. Is weak; with rank knight-errantries o'errun, Wisdom and worth how boldly he commends ! Why beats thy bosom with illustrious dreams Wisdom and worth are sacred names ; rever'd, Of self-exposure, laudable, and great ?
Where not embrac'd ; applauded! deified ! Of gallant enterprise, and glorious death?
Why not compassion d too? If spirits die, Die for thy country!—Thou romantic fool! Both are calamities, inflicted both, Seize, seize the plank thyself, and let her sink : To make us but more wretched. Wisdom's eye Thy country! what to thee ?—The Godhead, what? Acute, for what? To spy more miseries ; (I speak with awe!) though he should bid thee And worth, so recompens d, new-points their stings. bleed!
Or man surmounts the grave, or gain is loss, If, with thy blood, thy final hope is spilt?
And worth exalted humbles us the more. Nor can Omnipotence reward the blow,
Thou wilt not patronize, a scheme that makes Be deaf; preserve thy being ; disobey.
Weakness and vice, the refuge of mankind. Nor is it disobedience: know, Lorenzo! “ Has virtue, then, no joys ?”—Yes, joys dear-bought Whate'er th' Almighty's subsequent command, Talk ne'er so long, in this imperfect state, His first command is this Man, love thyself.” Virtue and vice are at eternal war. In this alone, free agents are not free.
Virtue's a combat; and who fights for nought? Existence is the basis, bliss the prize ;
Or for precarious, or for small reward ? If virtue costs existence, 'tis a crime;
Who virtue's self-reward so loud resound, Bold violation of our law supreme,
Would take degrees angelic here below, Black suicide ; though nations, which consult And virtue, while they compliment, betray, Their gain, at thy expense, resound applause. By feeble motives, and unfaithful gnards.
Since virtue's recompense is doubtful, here, The crown, th' unfading crown, her soul inspires. If man dies wholly, well may we demand, 'Tis that, and that alone, can countervail Why is man suffer'd to be good in vain ?
The body's treacheries, and the world's assaults : Why to be good in vain, is man enjoin'd ? On Earth's poor pay our famish'd virtue dies. Why to be good in vain, is man betray'd ? Truth incontestable! in spite of all Betray'd by traitors lodgil in his own breast, A Bayle has preach'd, or a Voltaire believ'd. By sweet complacencies from virtue felt ?
In man the more we dive, the more we see Why whispers Nature lies on virtue's part? Heaven's signet stamping an immortal make. Or if blind instinct (which assumes the name Dive to the bottom of his soul, the base Of sacred conscience) plays the fool in man, Sustaining all; what tind we? Knowledge, love Why reason made accomplice in the cheat: As light and heat, essential to the Sun, Why are the wisest loudest in her praise ?
These to the soul. And why, if souls expire ?
How little lovely here? How little known? Reason is guiltless; will alone rebels.
The slave of Earth, should own her heir of Heaven? As a mock-diadem, in savage sport,
Canst thou suspect what makes us disbelieve Rank insult of our pompous poverty,
Our immortality, should prove it sure ? Which reaps but pain, from seeming claims so fair ? First, then, ambilion summon to the bar. In future age lies no redress? And shuts
Ambition's shame, extravagance, disgust,
And inextinguishable nature, speak.
Thy soul, how passionately fond of fame !
We blush, detected in designs on praise, What the worst perpetrate, or best endure ? Though for best deeds, and from the best of men;
This cannot be. To love, and know, in man And why? Because immortal. Art divine Is boundless appetite, and boundless power; Has made the body tutor to the soul; And these demonstrate boundless objects too. Heaven kindly gives our blood a moral flow; Objects, powers, appetites, Heaven suits in all; Bids it ascend the glowing cheek, and there Nor, Nature through, e'er violates this sweet, Upbraid that little heart's inglorious air, Eternal concord, on her tuneful string,
Which stoops to court a character from man; Is man the sole exception from her laws ?
While o'er us, in tremendous judgment, sit Eternity struck off from human hope,
Far more than man, with endless praise, and blame I speak with truth but veneration too.)
Ambition's boundless appetite out-speaks Man is a monster, the reproach of Heaven, The verdict of its shame. When souls take fire A stain, a dark impenetrable cloud
At high presumptions of their own desert, On Nature's beauteous aspect; and deforms, One age
is poor applause ; the mighty shout, (Amazing blot!) deforms her with her lord. The thunder by the living few begun, If such is man's allotment, what is Heaven? Late time must echo ; worlds unborn, resound. Or own the soul immortal, or blaspheme.
We wish our names eternally to live : (thought, Or own the soul immortal, or invert
Wild dream! which ne'er had haunted human All order. Go, mock-majesty! go, man!
Had not our natures been eternal too. And bow to thy superiors of the stall;
Instinct points out an interest in hereafter; Through every scene of sense superior far:
But our blind reason sees not where it lies ; They graze the turf untilld; they drink the stream Or, seeing, gives the substance for the shade. . Unbrew'd, and ever full, and unimbitter'd
Fame is the shade of immortality,
" And is this all?" cried Cæsar at his height, Their good is good entire, unmix’d, unmarr’d; Disgusted. This third proof ambition brings They find a Paradise in every field,
Of immortality. The first in fame,
The passion and the purchase, he will sigh
And can ambition a fourth proof supply? Account for this prerogative in brutes.
It can, and stronger than the former three ; No day, no glimpse of day, to solve the knot, Yet quite o'erlook'd by some reputed wise. But what bearns on it from elernity.
Though disappointments in ambition pain, O sole, and sweet solution! that unties
And though success disgusts; yet sull, Lorenzo! The difficult, and softens the severe;
In vain we strive to pluck it from our hearts ; The cloud on Nature's beauteous face dispels; By Nature planted for the noblest ends. Restores bright order ; casts the brute beneath A bsurd the fam'd advice to Pyrrhus given, And re-enthrones us in supremacy
More prais d, than ponder'd ; specious, but unsound Of joy, e'en here : admit immortal life
Sooner that hero's sword the world had qnell'd, And virtue is knight-errantry no more;
Than reason, his ambition. Man must soar.
An insuppressive spring, will toss him up,
No Sultan prouder than his seiler'd slave:
Slaves build their little Babylons of straw, Heaven our reward for Heaven enjoy'd below. Echo the proud Assyrian in their hearts,
Suill unsubdued thy stubborn heart ?--For there And cry," Behold the wonders of my might!" The traitor lurks wbo doubts the truth I sing. And why? Because immortal as their lord;