صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[blocks in formation]

And inward spirit works, and the pervading soul,
Diffus’d o'er ev'ry part, directs with full control.

Æneid. Lib. vi. l.727-Spiritus intus alit.

It has sufficiently appeared, it is presumed, in the preceding chapter, that dreams are to be regarded as the work of the mind, however occasionally suggested by attention to the sensations of the body. From the nature and universal prevalency of their impressions, which obtain while the corporeal functions, if not suspended, are bound up in temporary insensibility, so as to intermit the conveyance of ideas, Cicero argues the distinct and immaterial nature of the mind, and they certainly

demonstrate, as Virgil has expressed it with emphatical, if not peculiar reference to the human mind,

“ Its heav'nly spirit and celestial birth,
However clouded by the mists of earth;
Its force which, though confin'd by mark and chains,
The body's perishable limbs disdains *.”

For as the body is then inert, and not alive to ordinary perceptions, or capable of being rendered serviceable without the dispersion of sleep; the continued activity of the mind, during the lethargy, is a just argument of its separate and independent existence; of its capacity of thought in an abstracted state; of its energy, which requires neither intermission nor rest.

It may perhaps be urged as an argument against the presumed proof of the spiritual nature of the mind, that brute animals appear to dream, though we do not ascribe to them an immaterial soul.

* Igneus est equidein vigor et cælestis origo. Æneid. Lib. vi. 1, 730.

Lucretius, embarrassed with the proofs in favour of the immortality of the soul, poetically urges this argument:

« Not man alone, but animals display
The same remembrance of the scenes of day,
In sleep the courser sweats with swelling veins,
And shortly breathing o'er the course he strains ;
And ev'ry barrier down with eager speed,
Strives’gainst contending rivals for the meed.
So hounds in sleep their quiv'ring limbs will try,
And give with sudden yelp their feeble cry;
With frequent inspiration air inhale,
As if they touch'd upon the scented gale :
Half-rous'd with eager wildness they pursue
Th’ideal stag, swift flying in their view,
Till to their sight th’illusive vision fail,
And real objects o'er the false prevail:
E'en those of gentler breed, who seldom roam,
Whose guardian office is to watch at home,
Shake off light slunbers oit with hasty bound,
As if a stranger seen, or heard a sound,
Each creature as its nature's fierce or tame,
When seen awake, in sleep appears the same.

E'en birds awaken'd in a sudden fright
Fly to securer groves, if chance hy night
The visionary hawk should hov’ring seem
To soar and threaten mischief in a dream."

There is, it must be confessed, some force in this objection, and a parity of reasoning may seem to compel us to allow the existence of an immaterial nature in animals, as far, at least, as the proof is to rest on the power of dreaming, exclusive of other arguments; and notwithstanding, indeed, the spirit of the beast is said in Scripture to go downward to the earth, we may conceive it to be endowed with powers of reflection, and to be capable of being impressed by ideas, and therefore of a constitution which, though manifestly inferior to the human mind, and, it is presumed, not destined to immortality, may be considered as distinct from a material substance, no organization of which we can conceive to be capable of thought *.

* Nam si quid in illis rationis similitudinem imitatur, non ratio, sed meinoria est, et memoria non illa ratione mixta, sed quæ lebitudinem sensuun quinque comitatur. Macrob. in somn. Scipio-L. 1. c. 14. See also Locke.

There is a relation of St. Austin, in a letter to Euodius, which prettily illustrates the argument of the immateriality of the mind to be drawn from its distinct operations. Genadius, we are told, a Carthaginian physician, who doubted of the immortality of the soul, saw in his sleep a youth, who shewed to him a beautiful city, and who, returning on the succeeding night, inquired of Genadius whether he recollected him. Genadius answered that he did, and remembered his dream. The youth then asked him what he was then about: the physician replied, that he was in his bed sleeping. The apparition left him to reflect with salutary conviction, that as his mind then beheld a city, though his eyes were closed in sleep, and his body lay dormant, so the spirit of man might continue to live and exercise its powers of observation and intelligence, though the body should lie lifeless in the tomb *

* See Fulgosius.

« السابقةمتابعة »