« PreviousContinue »
hands and flexible fingers. The paws and feet of other animals are covered, at theextremities, with a horny substance ; or terminate in claws and talons. *
Q_ Our superiority over the brute creation, in arts, sciences, modesty, civilization, is, then, owing to our hands and fingers, not to any innate principle of reason ?
QBut the apes, whose paws are much like ours, why have not they made the same progress ? '
A. Apes live on fruits : and being, like children, in perpetual motion, they are not susceptible of that emmi, or wearisomeness, to which we are liable. T
Q_._ Is there any virtue in worshipping God, in loving our father, in serving our country, in relieving the distressed ? '
(L In what light, then, are we to consider 'virtue ?
A. Cry out, with Brutus : " O vertu, tu n'es
f* qu'un a qu'un Vain nom ! " O virtue, thou art but an
empty sound ! *
Lo, the refined system introduced by those great oracles of human wisdom. If the cannibals, who eat their aged parents, ever learn to
read, they will find their justification in your catechism.
Our philosophers are the great panegyrists of
the instinct of animals, whilst they degrade the'
reason of man. The reason is obvious. In pointing out the brutes as rivals qualified to contend for superiority with us, they can argue with ease and satisfaction. " All dies with the brutes : all " dies with man. Let us, then, live as they do: " for our end will be the same." But still this way of reasoning, how flattering soever to sensuality, cannot remove the perplexing doubt : for if the brute's soul be of the same nature with that of man, then there is no certainty that the soul of the brute dies. For, laying aside religion, which has decided the question, " fear " not those who can kill the body, but are not a able to kill the soul," there is no demonstration that the soul of man dies, but every thing demonstrates the reverse. To argue, then, with any colour of reason, from the brute to the man, you must have a thorough conviction of two things : first, that the soul of the brute is of
* Helvetius, p. 397. fl ie
the same nature with the soul of man: secondly, that the soul of man dies. Neither can be der monstrated: and, consequently, the affistance, which our two-found philosophers expect from this league and confederacy, into which they would fain enter with apes and four-footed' ania mals, for the destruction of our souls, is no more than a broken reed.
But you will ask me, " In what this instinct " of the brutes, and the nature of their souls " consists ? " I answer, candidly, that I know not. Some philosophers are of opinion, that the. brutes are mere machines, moved by some ex-z terior agent. Others allow them an inherent principle of life and industry. To the opinion of the latter I accede 3 and believe, that what
' we call instinct, is a certain sagacity and inclina
tion given them by the Creator for their pres servation and our use. But you, who know the nature of your own soul, which you affirm to be of the same nature with that of apes and foxes, can resolve the question.
Buffon, the French academician, acknowledges,'that, in the anatomy or dissection of apes, he could not discover any difference be-. tween their organs and those of the human species: yet the same Buffon, in spite of the stmilarity of organs, admits, that the distance
between man and the ape is infinite, on account of thought, reason, and consciousness, which proceed from a spiritual principle: and the royal psalmist recommends to us, not to U resemble the horse and the mule that have no " understanding." Our ignorance of the nature of their instinct, souls, &o. 'does not imply an ignorance of the nature of our own. If, through the veil of a mortal body, we can know and love our Maker, why should we cease to know him,- when the mask falls, and the veil is removed? lf we admit no annihilation in nature, --and that matter, in spite of its changes, never perishes,-why should we refuse the soul the same privilege 3 If brutes could reason, judge, abstract, divide, compare the rules of order, justice, good and evil, as rational beings do, they would not answer the end of nature ; and what has been made for the use of man, would become his destruction.
By dint of blows and other means, we can train up a horse to point out the hour on a dial ; a bear to dance ; a monkey to supply the place of a postillion ; a dog to move a minuet. Several instances of the sagacity of animals are adduced by Plutarch and others. But, whatever variety of turns and motions they may acquire by such a culture, it is not to a principle of
reason, but to the address of their tutors, we are to
to attribute it : for, however quick their hearing,--.ow sagacious soever their instinct,-it would be vain 'to attempt instructing them in the beauty of order,-the rules of jultice,-the rights of society,-the origin of the world,-the love of their Maker,-the terrors of the last judgment,-the pains of hell,_the ineffable joys of a future state. Whoever doubts me, let him try the experiment.
It is not so with the savage or child. i They are capable of instruction in all those points ; and susceptible of the impreffions arising from the notions of moral good or moral evil. .
Hence, neither from the sagacity of brutes,nor the experience of mankind,_nor the ohjZ'rwtiom 'of philashphern-can arguments be adduced in support of a doctrine tending to overthrow the spirituality and immortality of the soul. And, when you attribute the doctrine of the soul's immortality to the subtilty of fchoolmem-and when Helvetius fixes its first introduction in Nero's time, when the gospel was preached at Rome *,-we cannot arraign 'either you or him for ignorance, as both are well read : but we charge you with wilful imposition, which is worse.
Scattered sparks of the soul's immortality are to be found in the old Testament. Resurrec
* Helvetius, livre de l'Esprir. . tion,