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mortal minds as that they are mere machines.' another place (Epist. liv. p. 1.) he speaks yet more expressly. In reply to the objection that brutes may think, though, from their very different organisation, 'thought in them may be very imperfect compared with thought in us,' he says, that if they think as we do, they must have immortal souls as we have;' and many of them, he thinks, 'as oysters,' for example, are far too 'imperfect' for such an honour: as if there were no alternative! Yet philosophers of former ages have generally leaped with much the same precipitancy to the same conclusion, as to many others not less illusory. The argument from immateriality to immortality is evidently illogical; and though it has somehow satisfied many intelligent philosophers, it ought not, we think, to satisfy, and, if understood, would not satisfy, even an intelligent flea, to say nothing of an elephant. For if men would but confine themselves to what they know, they would see that nothing is more clear than the consciousness that the origin or continued existence, whether of body or spirit, depends on no will of theirs; upon nothing less than the fiat of that power that created both: and certainly none ought to have seen this more clearly than Descartes himself, who, as we have seen, makes the conservation of his 'immaterial self,' from moment to moment, a distinct proof of the existence of the Deity. As far as we can see, therefore, material forms may, if the Divine will so should please, be immortal; and in like manner, immaterial essences, by the same fiat, may become mortal. The utmost that the doctrine of immateriality infers is, that it exempts the soul from certain known causes of change or dissolution; but it may have a term of its own, for aught we know; a cause of decay peculiar to itself. The
argument is about as sound as if, having ascertained that a man will certainly not die of consumption, we were to infer that neither will he die of anything else.
We are firmly convinced of the truth of the great doctrines of the soul's immateriality and immortality. We merely deny the force of any argument from one to the other; and, moreover, that the latter, apart from express revelation, is anything more than a most precarious conclusion from guesses and presumptions. This is amply proved by the wavering tone of all reasoning and speculation, among the greatest masters of both, previous to the Christian revelation; and it is at that period, and at that better than any other, that we can apply the true test of the limits of merely human speculation on the subject.
As to the immortality of the lower animals, apart from the same revelation (if indeed it tells us anything), we know just as little as we should about the immortality of man. The pious Bonnet, we know, and other writers, assure them of it; but we have not heard that any one has assured Bonnet. As for the usual arguments against it, however, (apart from some dim intimations of Scripture,) even an intelligent brute might easily reply to them. It is ridiculous,' says proud man, 'to suppose them immortal.' Far be it from us to deny it; we only say that it is equally,
* The texts which look the other way, one of which satisfied John Wesley, and at least two of the early Fathers, Luther, and a host of commentators, - -are collected in The Penscellwood Papers.' If the hypothesis of Descartes has been said to 'have made a jest of so great a part of the creation,' what shall we think of the tragical hypothesis of Father Bougeant, who gets over the difficulties which the case of the lower animals presents, by supposing them to be devils, to whom their life on earth is an anticipated hell?
or nearly as ridiculous, to affirm that they are not immortal; since what can be more ridiculous than to affirm that of which, either way, we know nothing? It may be even more probable that they are not immortal; but still we know nothing. Yet how easy, without denying the conclusion, or affirming it, to rebut the usual arguments! As thus: 'Is it worthy of the Deity,' it is sometimes asked, 'to bestow immortality on such creatures?' Why, most complacent philosopher, if it was not unworthy of Him to create them, and to keep them alive for a limited time, it may, for aught we know, be not unworthy of Him to restore their existence, and to continue it for an unlimited time, or for ever? But they have not powers which admit of an indefinite development, and adaptation to another and higher condition of existence.' How do you know? There may be in them latent capacities of transformation and development (not indeed similar to those in man, nor so glorious), which may disclose in them-in conformity with some original type for each species-perfection and beauty as much greater than those they now manifest, as man's future condition may transcend his present. It is possible for what is impossible to that infinite versatility of wisdom which even this world presents? -that there may be a progress by which a fly or an eagle (though we are far enough from affirming it) may be as superior to what they now are, as man shall be to what he now is, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality.' 'But where, in the name of wonder, will there be lodging enough for such an infinite array of immortal atoms?" Truly, we do not know; but we presume that for even an infinitude of atoms, infinite worlds in infinite space may be found domain enough. But
is it not ridiculous to suppose that creatures of such insignificant powers, such humble, such evidently limited capacities, should be immortal?' It is dangerous, O man, for thee to employ that argument. Is it not the very conclusion, which a superior intelligence to thine-if it knew thee only in the same way thou knowest thy despised fellow-brute-would form respecting thee? at least, if superior intelligence had not taught him what, it seems, superior intelligence has not taught thee, humility and modesty? Is it possible,' he would say, 'that this miserable biped, who physically manifests so marked a family resemblance to his cousin brutes; whose intellectual qualities, it is true, seem somewhat superior, though not always, to theirs, and insignificant at the best; whose moral qualities are apparently inferior; is it possible that this miserable compound of vast pretensions, enormous vanity, ridiculous arrogance, meanness, envy, cruelty; who domineers over the other animals; who is at everlasting strife with his own species; who sprang out of the dust, as his supposed inferior fellows did, and returns to the dust as they do, can aspire to immortality? It is absurd. Let us hope that he is only a transient blot on the creation, and that the universe will one day be relieved from his odious presence.' Far be it from us (even for our own sake) to whisper any doubt of the fallacy of such an argument; but sure we are that an archangel might employ it with much more reason against us than we can against the meanest reptile that crawls. Well,' complacent man will say, 'if all animals are to be immortal, let us hope, at all events, that they will not occupy the same world, or live in inconvenient proximity.' 'Kind heaven grant it;' all the lower creation will eagerly reply. 'Man
cannot be more anxious to get away from us,
are to get away from him.'
But in very deed, by the light of philosophy, we know nothing about the matter either way, and that is precisely all we contend for. Upon points on which philosophers know nothing, philosophers should say nothing. That is a beautiful school of philosophy (though it has few disciples) which teaches man to say of most things: 'It may be so, and it may be otherwise. It is a point on which I only know that I do not know.' But it is a school in which, whatever his merits (and they were assuredly great), Descartes never enrolled his name.