S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
That cherubim which now appears as a God to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is: nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection as much as she now falls short of it . With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our own souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection? We know not yet what we shall be, nor will it ever enter into the heart to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him.
There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion than this of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine forever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation forever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing nearer to him, by greater degrees of resemblance.
We cannot question but the happiness of a soul will be adequate to its nature; and that it is not endowed with any faculties which are to lie useless and unemployed. The happiness is to be the happiness of the whole man; and we may easily conceive to ourselves the happiness of the soul whilst any one of its faculties is in the fruition of its chief good. The happiness may be of a more exalted nature in proportion as the faculty employed is so: but as the whole soul acts in the exertion of any of its particular powers, the whole soul is happy in the pleasure which arises from any of its particular acts.
If the powers of cogitation and volition and sensation are neither inherent in matter as such, nor acquirable to matter by any motion or modification of it; it necessarily follows that they proceed from some cogitative substance, some incorporeal inhabitant within us, which we call spirit and soul.
If we consider the dignity of an intelligent being, and put that in the scales against brute inanimate matter, we may affirm, without overvaluing human nature, that the soul of one virtuous and religious man is of greater worth and excellence than the sun and his planets.
Surely it is but the merits of our unworthy natures, if we sleep in darkness until the last alarm. A serious reflex upon my own unworthiness did make me backward from challenging this prerogative of my soul: so I could enjoy my Saviour at the last, I could with patience be nothing almost unto eternity.
Those who have searched into human nature observe that nothing so much shows the nobleness of the soul, as that its felicity consists in action. Every man has such an active principle in him, that he will find out something to employ himself upon, in whatever place or state of life he is posted.
This is my firm persuasion, that since the human soul exerts itself with so great activity; since it has such a remembrance of the best, such a concern for the future; since it is enriched with so many arts, sciences, and discoveries; it is impossible but the Being which contains all these must be immortal.
This boundless desire had not its original from man itself; nothing would render itself restless; something above the bounds of this world implanted those desires after a higher good, and made him restless in everything else. And since the soul can only rest in that which is infinite, there is something infinite for it to rest in; since nothing in the world, though a man had the whole, can give it satisfaction, there is something above the world only capable to do it, otherwise the soul would be always without it, and be more in vain than any other creature. There is, therefore, some infinite being that can only give a contentment to the soul, and this is God.
For my own part, I never could think that the soul while in a mortal body lives, but when departed out of it dies; or that its consciousness is lost when it is discharged out of an unconscious habitation. But when it is freed from all corporeal alliance, then it truly exists. Farther, since the human frame is broken by death, tell us, what becomes of its parts? It is visible whither the materials of other beings are translated: namely, to the source from whence they had their birth. The soul alone, neither present nor departed, is the object of our eyes.
If a heathen philosopher brings up arguments from reason, which none of our atheistical sophisters can confute, for the immortality of the soul, I hope they will so weigh the consequences as neither to talk nor live as if there was no such thing.
The nation has certainly not been wanting in the proper expression of its poignant regret at the sudden removal of this most lamented princess, nor of their sympathy with the royal family, deprived by this visitation of its brightest ornament. Sorrow is painted on every countenance, the pursuits of business and of pleasure have been suspended, and the kingdom is covered with the signals of distress.
But what, my brethren, if it be lawful to indulge such a thought, what would be the funeral obsequies of a lost soul? Where shall we find the tears fit to be wept at such a spectacle? or, could we realize the calamity in all its extent, what tokens of commiseration and concern would be deemed equal to the occasion? Would it suffice for the sun to veil his light, and the moon her brightness; to cover the ocean with mourning, and the heavens with sackcloth? Or were the whole fabric of nature to become animated and vocal, would it be possible for her to utter a groan too deep, or a cry too piercing, to express the magnitude of such a catastrophe?
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon on the Princess Charlotte.
There are but a few, and they endued with great ripeness of wit and judgment, free from all such affairs as might trouble their meditations, instructed in the sharpest and subtlest points of learning, who have, and that very hardly, been able to find out but only the immortality of the soul.
Great variety of opinion there hath been amongst the ancient philosophers touching the definition of the soul. Thaless was, that it is a nature without repose: Asclepiades, that it is an exercitation of sense: Hesiod, that it is a thing composed of earth and water: Parmenides holds, of earth and fire; Galen, that it is heat; Hippocrates, that it is a spirit diffused through the body: some others have held it to be light; Plato saith, tis a substance moving itself; after cometh Aristotle (whom the author here reproveth) and goeth a degree farther, and saith it is [Greek], that is, that which naturally makes the body to move. But this definition is as rigid as any of the other; for this tells us not what the essence, origin, or nature of the soul is, but only marks an effect of it, and therefore signifieth no more than if he had said that, it is angelus hominus, or an intelligence that moveth man, as he supposed those other to do the heavens.
K. Cf. Cic. Tusc. Disp., i. x.: note in Sir T. Brownes Religio Medici, Pt. I., x.
This is the last sun I shall ever see, comrade, said [Marshal Ney], approaching M. de V. This world is at an end for me. This evening I shall lie in another bivouac. I am no woman, but I believe in God, and in another life, and I feel that I have an immortal soul: they spoke to me of preparation for death, of the consolations of religion, of conferring with a pious priest. Is that the death of a soldier? Let me hear what you would do in my place. Were I in your place, I should allow the curate of St. Sulpice to enter, and I should prepare my soul for every event. I believe you are right, replied the marshal with a friendly smile. Well, then, let the priest come in.
Alphonse Lamartine: Hist. of the Restor. of Monarchy in France, vol. iii. book 34, xxiii.
To what vanity does the good opinion we have of ourselves push us? The most regular and most perfect soul in the world has but too much to do to keep itself upright from being overthrown by its own weakness. There is not one of a thousand that is right, and settled so much as one minute in a whole life, and that may not very well doubt whether according to her natural condition she can ever be. But to join constancy to it is her utmost perfection: I mean though nothing should jostle and discompose her, which a thousand accidents may do.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. lix.
For to make the condition of our souls such as we would have it to be, we must suppose them all knowing, even in their natural simplicity and purity. By these means they had been such, being free from the prison of the body, as well before they entered into it, as we hope they shall be after they are gone out of it. And from this knowledge it should follow that they should remember being got in the body, as Plato said, That what we learn is no other than a remembrance of what we knew before, a thing which every one by experience may maintain to be false. Forasmuch, in the first place, as that we do not justly remember anything but what we have been taught: and that if the memory did purely perform its office, it would at least suggest to us something more than what we have learned. Secondly, that which she knew being in her purity was a true knowledge, knowing things as they are by her divine intelligence: whereas here we make her receive falsehood and vice, when we instruct her; wherein she cannot employ her reminiscence, that image and conception having never been planted in her.
Michel de Montaigne: Essays, Cottons 3d ed., ch. lxix.
There are two functions of the soul, contemplation and practice, according to that general division of objects, some of which only entertain our speculations, others also employ our actions; so the understanding with relation to these is divided into speculative and practic.