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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 exterior agent. Others allow them an inherent principle of life and industry. To the opinion of the latter I accede; and believe, that what we call instinct, is a certain sagacity and inclination given them by the Creator for their preservation 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 between their organs and those of the human species; yet the same Buffon, in spite of the similiarity 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 resemble the horse and • the mule, that have no understanding. Our ignorance of the nature of their instinct, souls, &c. 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 ? If 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 ? 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; and a dog to move a minute. 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 attribute it: for, however quick their hearing, how sagaci
ous soever their instinct, it would be vain to attempt instructing them in the beauty of order, the rules of justice, the
rights of society, the origin of the world, the love of their · Maker, the terrors of the last judgment, the pains of hell, or
the ineffable joys of a future state. Whoever doubts me, let him try the experiment.
It is not so with the savage or child. They are capable of instruction in all those points, and susceptible of the impressions arising from the notions of moral good or moral evil.
Hence, neither from the sagacity of brutes, nor the experience of mankind, nor the observations of philosophers 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 schoolmen, 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. Resurrection, judgment, the rewards and punishments of a future life, are mentioned by the inspired writers, long before the introduction of the Gospel, or Hesiod's theogony. Pythagoras taught the metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, long before Seneca taught Nero to declaim. Even ancient errors shew how ancient was the belief of the soul's immortality; and demonstrate, that it is to be ranked amongst the first traditions of mankind. Did not almost all men sacrifice to the manes, that is, to the souls of the dead ? From one extremity of the world to the other, people of different humours, countries, worship and interest, agree in this important article of immortality. It is no collusion; for a general association of mankind could never be formed: nor a prejudice of education, for manners, customs, and education, are different in different nations. This notion of immortality is common to all : remote isles, and foreign nations figured to themselves shades and climes, through which the roving spirit was to travel, after its separation from He body. Hence the custom of killing wives and of
* Helvetius, livre de l'Esprit.
ficers, at the death of their kings; lest the royal ghost
should travel without attendants. This several nations . practised, and the Indians, distinguished by pagan authors, amongst the assertors of the immortality of the soul, were also the first that introduced those horrid murders upon earth, which they practise to this very day. Nature, then,
taught the soul's immortality, without a monitor; or · rather, the Almighty has stamped its notion on our ex
istence; and savage people, in forgetting God, could not forget themselves. · There are still some religious, as well as philosophical paradoxes in your writings, besides the capital errors already mentioned, I have not leisure to examine them all.
· You say, that, “ from the continual waste of mould, ... washed away by the rain, the animal world will hecome ex
tinct, for want of food.' This, I suppose, is advanced with - a design to invalidate the oracles which foretel the world's
dissolution by fire. : A prodigious quantity of the liquid eleinent is wasted in watering fields, woods, &c. Doctor Halley is of opinion, that the Mediterranean loses in vapour, five thousand, five hundred, and eighty millions of tons, in a day; and receives but one thousand, eight
hundred, and twenty-seven, from rivers: so that it would ..soon be drained, unless a great quantity returned in dew
and rain upon it. · It seems, then, to me, that the animal world will be extinct for want of drink : but a greater prophet than either of us, foretold the world's dissolution by fervent heat. · You argue against the Chinese antiquities, from the waste of mould: by the same rule, you can argue against Moses' account of the creation. But, to argue against the antiquities of any nation, from the waste of mould, is nothing better than the waste of time. The European missionaries convinced the Chinese of their error, by reckoning the eclipses of the sun, in a conference with their learned men, when the emperor of Tartary became master of China. It was the surest method, and that by which Callisthenes baffled the pretended antiquity of the Babylonians, when Alexander took their city.
If Moses be an allegorical writer, it is hard, . from the
* waste of mould,' to determine when the Alps - emerged from the chaos. ,
You are of opinion, that, before the deluge, 'none but giants inhabited the earth. Before the deluge the world had its Davids and Goliahs, its Fionnmacools and Ushions. Moses talks of giants, as rarities :. . in them days, there 4 were giants on the earth. A rarity is an exception to the general rule, and supposes a more extensive class of beings.
The longevity of the antediluvians can be ascribed to two causes: the one supernatural, in order to perpetuate religion, and give the aged patriarchs time to instil it into the minds of their spreading generations : the other natural, viz. their sobriety, the simplicity of their diet, the salubrity of the air, not corrupted by the noxious vapours which rose from the earth, aster the flood, the fertility of the soil, &c. You know the state of the world, before the deluge so well, that you fix the age of puberty at the age of sixty-five.' I believe that procreation began, before the deluge, as early ås at present. Or else, they must have been monstrous babes that were at the breast, and fed with spoon-meat, at the age of twenty. By the rules of analogy, we may judge of their rubile state, by the tall Prussian, and low Laplander. The size is disproportionate: but the age for marrying is the same in both. • You deny any confusion of tongues at the dispersion; because what has been translated language, signifies lip, in Hebrew. Sometimes it does, but the addition of speech signifies something more. And the whole earth was of one • language, and of one speech.'* And what is here translated speech, signifies words, in the original Hebrew. .
You deny that there were any propitiatory sacrifices. There are sin-offerings, notwithstanding, mentioned in the Scriptures, for the bodies of those beasts, whose blood for * sin is brought into the sanctuary, by the high priest, are • burnt without the camp. In proof of your opinion, you o mention, Pythagoras's hecatomb for being able to prove 6 the properties of a right-angled triangle; Jephtah's offer-6 ing up his daughter; Baal's priests cutting themselves * with knives,' to propitiate their god; and, to crown all,
. * Genesis, chap. ii.
you assert, that the God of Israel changed sides, when the king of Moab sacrificed his son on the walls of his city.*
But, Sir, were not sacrifices instituted by the Almighty God? Why should his holy rites and ceremonies be set on a level with heathen profanations, Baal's priests, and Pythagoras's idols ? A sacrifice is the oblation of a sensible thing, by a lawful minister, in honour of the divinity, in acknowledgment of his supreme power over life and death. Not only human victims were interdicted by the 'law, but even several animals; such as asses, hares, &c. Hence, Jephtah's sacrifice, if he killed his daughter; was a cruel murder; he was no fit priest; his daughter was no fit victim; and God cannot be honoured by a breach of his own law. win
I say, • if he killed his daughter,' because, in the original Hebrew, it may as well signify, devoted to the Lord ? meaning that he devoted her to perpetual chastity: as several modern critics explain it, and as it seems to be the case. For, inspired as he was, it is not to be presumed that he was guilty of such a fatal mistake: and St. Paul reckons him amongst the worthies who, by faith, obtained the promised reward. .
How, then, could the God of Israel • change sides,' by relishing the profane vapours of idolatrous blood, smoaking, not in his honour, but in honour of the idols of the Moabites? The text you quote, and there was great indignation 6 against Israel," proves no more, than that the confederate kings were angry with themselves for having forced the unhappy father to plunge, as it were, the dagger in his own bowels, in the person of his son.
When, to deny propitiatory sacrifices, you say, that God cannot be bribed or flattered,' I agree with you: but, you would not controul his power, nor contest his authority, to impose laws and obligations on his creatures ; to annex to the observance and infraction of those laws, rewards and punishments; to require their submission by visible symbols; in the victim stretched and bound on the altar, to remind them of the chains of sin, and of their state under their Creator's hand, who, each instant, can deprive them of their lives; in the sable smoak rolling from the blazing holocaust,
* 2 Kings, chap. iii.