« PředchozíPokračovat »
“I am not singular in this respect,” replied Frank Goddard. “Most of the ancient philosophers, though they taught the multitude there was an hereafter, nevertheless believed to the contrary."
“ If you say this from your own reading of history," I rejoined, “then I must say you have either read it with a bias or superficially. The very reverse of this is the fact. taught the existence of the soul, and that honestly : the few taught it with a mental reservation. The immortality of the soul was, in truth, the leading feature of the religion of the Pagan world.
It is to be met with in every part of their literature. Thus, in the Homeric poems, the shade or soul of Patroclus is represented as wandering about, out of Hades, until funereal rites had been performed over the body it had left, and is made to appear to Achilles as he slumbered on the sea-shore after the funeral feast, and to address him thus :
* And sleeps Achilles - thus the phantom said-
No more shall meet Achilles and his friend.' I grant you Pythagoras rejected a future state of rewards and punishments ; but Ovid finely refutes him on the very principle of his own metempsychosis. He says :
• Pleased as I am to walk along the sphere
* Those I would teach, and by right reason bring
• E'en I, who these mysterious truths declare
“ If you had said that the philosophers of old were ignorant as to the real nature of the soul, and of its state in eternity, I would have granted it; but when
you say that they generally doubted of its existence, then I answer, that it is a libel on their knowledge and principles. Cato's address to Plato, in his soliloquy, is applicable to the mass of Pagan sages :
• It must be so. Plato, thou reasonest well!
“But,” I continued, “I do not take the ancient sages as my oracles in this matter : their testimony is valuable, but not indispensably requisite to the establishment of this truth. I rather place greater emphasis on the evidence of my own senses : sleeping or waking, I feel that I have a never-dying soul. Above all, I confide in Revelation, by which I am taught that I have a soul, and that it will exist in bliss or woe throughout the ages of eternity. If I parted with this belief, I should part with all my hopes of happiness."
I paused for a reply, but Frank Goddard was silent. My reasoning, however, did not convince him that he was in error, or prevent him from avowing his sentiments. It was like the breaking of the ice with him, for from that time he became more bold in the promulgation of his views. In my presence, indeed, he never again ventured to bring them forward; but I have discovered from others, that whenever he could do so with any hope of success or impunity, he never threw away the opportunity. Such conduct as this was highly reprehensible, inasmuch as it might have unsettled the faith of weak Christians. A man should never bring forward in company any views which could either prove offensive to the feelings, or injurious to the principles, of those with whom he may associate. But Frank Goddard was in the end the loser by his infidelity. He lost caste : friend after friend gave up his company; and in a few years he confined himself to the “choice spirits” of London society who had led him astray. He is still living, and I trust that before he dies he may see the error of his ways : may learn to feel the truth of, and subscribe to, these sentiments of the poet Watts :
“ Flesh is the vilest and the least
Ingredient of our frame-
Or quit the manly name. “ Pleasures of sense we leave for boys
Be shining dust the miser's food; Let fancy feed on fame and noise, Souls must pursue diviner joys
And seize the immortal good.”
THOUGHTS ON MAN'S INNATE POWER OF IMPROVEMENT. - THE CHA
RACTER OF MATT NORDEN.-A SCENE AT THE COACH OFFICE.-MATT'S PURSUIT OF THE COACH. - HIS FATHER'S DESIGNS OF BRINGING HIM UP TO THE CHURCH FRUSTRATED BY HIS INACTIVITY. - THE CHARACTER OF A DUTIFUL SON DELINEATED. MATT NORDEN LOCATED IN LONDON. THE EFFECTS OF HIS INDOLENT HABITS.- BECOMES INSOLVENT. ADVICE TO THE READER.
“ Call now to mind, what high capacious powers
It has been well said, that “well-being and happiness are not an inheritance of which we take possession at our birth, and which we are destined to enjoy at our ease.” We enter upon life, in fact, destitute of every thing but simple existence, and all that we enjoy in our passage through life are acquisitions - they are the results and rewards of our own diligence and care, communicated by the diligence and care of others. And it is wonderful how rapidly man may acquire the acquisitions of diligence. Let any one devote kimself to any art or science ever so much, he may still find leisure to make considerable proother acquirements. The
greatest painter of his age, Leonardi da Vinci, was at the