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For all things else, which Nature makes to be,
Their being to preserve, are chiefly taught; And though some things desire a change to see,
Yet never thing did long to turn to naught.
If then by death the soul were quenched quite,
She could not thus against her nature run; Since ev'ry senseless thing, by Nature's light,
Doth preservation seek, destruction shun.
Nor could the world's best spirits so much err,
If Death took all, that they should all agree, Before this life their honour to prefer:
For what is praise to things that nothing be?
Again, if by the body's prop she stand;
If on the body's life, her life depend, As Meleager's on the fatal brand,
The body's good she only would intend:
We should not find her half so brave and bold,
To lead it to the wars, and to the seas, To make it suffer watchings, hunger, cold,
When it might feed with plenty, rest with ease.
Doubtless, all souls have a surviving thought,
Therefore of death we think with quiet mind; But if we think of being turn'd to naught,
A trembling horror in our souls we find.
From the fear of death in the wicked souls.
And as the better spirit, when she doth bear
A scorn of death, doth show she cannot die; So when the wicked soul Death's face doth fear,
E'en then she proves her own eternity.
For when Death's form appears, she feareth not
An utter quenching or extinguishment; She would be glad to meet with such a lot,
That so she might all future ill prevent:
But she doth doubt what after may befall ;
For Nature's law accuseth her within, And saith, “'Tis true what is affirm’d by all,
That after death there is a pain for sin.”
Then she who hath been hoodwink'd from her birth;
Doth first herself within Death's mirror see; And when her body doth return to earth,
She first takes care, how she alone shall be.
Who ever sees these irreligious men,
With burthen of a sickness weak and faint, But hears them talking of religion then,
And vowing of their souls to ev'ry saint ?
When was there ever cursed atheist brought
Unto the gibbet, but he did adore
Scorn'd and blasphemed all his life before ?
These light vain persons still are drunk and mad,
With surfeitings and pleasures of their youth; But at their death they are fresh, sober, sad;
Then they discern, and then they speak the truth.
If then all souls, both good and bad, do teach,
With gen’ral voice, that souls can never die; 'Tis not man's flattering gloss, but Nature's speech,
Which, like God's oracles, can never lie.
From the general desire of immortality.
Hence springs that universal strong desire,
Which all men have of immortality :
But all men's minds in this united be.
Then this desire of Nature is not vain,
“She covets not impossibilities ; Fond thoughts may fall into some idle brain,
But one assent of all is ever wise."
From hence that gen’ral care and study springs,
That launching and progression of the mind, Which all men have so much of future things,
That they no joy do in the present find.
From this desire, that main desire proceeds,
Which all men have surviving fame to gain, By tombs, by books, by memorable deeds ;
For she that this desires, doth still remain.
Hence, lastly, springs care of posterities,
For things their kind would everlasting make: Hence is it, that old men do plant young trees,
The fruit whereof another age shall take.
If we these rules unto ourselves apply,
And view them by reflection of the mind, All these true notes of immortality
In our hearts' tables we shall written find.
From the very doubt and disputation of immortality.
And though some impious wits do questions move,
And doubt if souls immortal be or no; That doubt their immortality doth prove,
Because they seem immortal things to know.
For he who reasons on both parts doth bring,
Doth some things mortal, some immortal call; Now, if himself were but a mortal thing,
He could not judge immortal things at all.
For when we judge, our minds we mirrors make;
And as those glasses which material be, Forms of material things do only take;
For thoughts or minds in them we cannot see:
So when we God and angels do conceive,
And think of truth, which is eternal too; Then do our minds immortal forms receive,
Which, if they mortal were, they could not do.
And as if beasts conceiv'd what reason were,
And that conception should distinctly show, They should the name of reasonable bear;
For without reason, none could reason know :
So when the soul mounts with so high a wing,
As of eternal things she doubts can move; She proofs of her eternity doth bring,
E'en when she strives the contrary to prove. For e'en the thought of immortality,
Being an act done without the body's aid, Shows that herself alone could move and be,
Although the body in the grave were laid,
THAT THE SOUL CANNOT BE DESTROYED.
And if herself she can so lively move,
And never need a foreign help to take; Then must her motion everlasting prove,
“ Because herself she never can forsake.”
But though corruption cannot touch the mind,
By any cause* that from itself may spring, Some outward cause fate hath perhaps design'd,
Which to the soul may utter quenching bring. Perhaps her cause may cease,t and she may die :
God is her cause, his word her maker was : Which shall stand fix'd for all eternity, When Heav'n and Earth shall like a shadow pass.
* Her cange ceaseth not. + She hath no contrary.