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tending the several parts of our solid body. But, after all, the relation a person bears to those parts of his body to which he is the most nearly related, what does it
appear to amount to but this, that the living agent and those parts of the body mutually affect each other? And the same thing, the same thing in kind though not in degree, may be said of all foreign matter, which gives us ideas, and which we have any power over.
From these observations, the whole ground of the imagination is removed, that the dissolution of any matter * is the destruction of a living agent, from the interest he once had in such a matter.
Thirdly, If we consider our body somewhat more distinctly, as made up
and instruments of perception and of motion, it will bring us to the same conclusion. Thus, the common optical experiments show, and even the observation how sight is assisted by glasses shows, that we see with our eyes in the same sense as we see with glasses. Nor is there any reason to believe, that we see with them in any other sense; any other, I mean, which would lead us to think the eye itself a percipient. The like is to be said of hearing ; and our feeling distant solid matter by means of somewhat in our hand, seems an instance of the like kind, as to the subject we are considering. All these are instances of foreign matter, or such as is no part of our body, being instrumental in preparing objects for, and conveying them to, the perceiving power, in a manner similar, or like to the manner in which our organs of sense prepare
them. Both are, in a like way, instruments of our receiving such ideas from external objects, as the Author of nature appointed those external objects to be the occasions of exciting in us. However, glasses are evidently instances of this, namely of matter, which is no part of our body, preparing objects for, and conveying them towards, the perceiving power, in like manner as our bodily organs do. And if we see with our eyes only in the same manner as we do with glasses, the like may justly be concluded, from analogy, of all our other It is not intended by any thing here said to afirm, that the whole apparatus of vision, or of perception by any other of our senses, can be traced, through all its steps, quite up to the living power of seeing, or perceiving; but that, so far as it can be traced by experimental observations, so far it appears that our organs of sense prepare and convey on objects, in order to their being perceived, in like manner as foreign matter does, without affording any shadow of appearance, that they themselves perceive. And that we have no reason to think our organs of sense percipients, is confirmed by instances of persons losing some of them, the living beings themselves, their former occupiers, remaining unimpaired. It is confirmed also by the experience of dreams; by which we find we are at present possessed of a latent, and what would otherwise be an unimagined unknown power of perceiving sensible objects, in as strong and lively a manner without our external organs of sense, as with them.
So also with regard to our power of moving, or directing motion by will and choice : upon the destruction of a limb, this active power remains, as it evidently seems, unlessened; so as that the living being, who has suffered this loss, would be capable of moving as before, if it had another limb to move with. It can move by the help of an artificial leg, just as it can make use of a pole or a lever, to reach towards itself and to move things beyond the length and the power of its natural arm: and this last it does in the same manner as it reaches and moves, with its natural arm, things nearer and of less weight. Nor is there so much as any appearance of our limbs being endued with a power of moving or directing themselves; though they are adapted, like the several parts of a machine, to be the instruments of motion to each other; and some parts of the same limb, to be instruments of motion to other parts of it.
Thus, a man determines that he will look at such an object through a microscope ; or, being lame, suppose, that he will walk to such a place with a staff, a week hence. His eyes and his feet no more determine in these cases than the microscope and the staff. Nor is there any ground to think
they any more put the determination in practice, or that his eyes are the seers, or his feet the movers, in other sense than as the microscope and the staff are. Upon the whole, then, our organs of sense and our limbs are certainly instruments, which the living persons, ourselves, make use of to perceive and move with : there is not any probability that they are any more; nor, consequently, that we have any other kind of relation to them, than what we may have to any other foreign matter formed into instruments of perception and motion, suppose into a microscope or a staff (I say, any other kind of relation, for I am not speaking of the degree of it); nor, consequently, is there any probability that the alienation or dissolution of these instruments is the destruction of the perceiving and moving agent.
And thus our finding, that the dissolution of matter in which living beings were most nearly interested, is not their dissolution; and that the destruction of several of the or.. gans and instruments of perception and of motion belonging to them is not their destruction ; shows, demonstratively, that there is no ground to think that the dissolution of any other matter, or destruction of any
organs and instruments, will be the dissolution or destruction of living agents, from the like kind of relation. And we have no reason to think we stand in any other kind of relation to any thing which we find dissolved by death.
But it is said, these observations are equally applicable to brutes; and it is thought an insuperable difficulty, that they should be immortal, and, by consequence, capable of everlasting happiness. Now, this manner of expression is both invidious and weak ; but the thing intended by it is really no difficulty at all, either in the way of natural or moral consideration. For, Ist, Suppose the invidious thing designed in such a manner of expression were really implied, as it is not in the least, in the natural immortality of brutes ; namely, that they must arrive at great attainments, and become rational and moral agents ; even this would be no difficulty, since we know not what latent powers and capacities they
be endued with. There was once, prior to experience, as great presumption against human creatures, as there is against the brute creatures, arriving at that degree of understanding which we have in mature age ; for we can trace up our own existence to the same original with theirs. And we find it to be a general law of nature, that creatures endued with capacities of virtue and religion, should be placed in a condition of being in which they are altogether without the use of them for a considerable length of their duration, as in infancy and childhood; and great part of the hunian species go out of the present world before they come to the exercise of these capacities in any degree at all. But then, 2ndly, The natural immortality of brutes does not in the least imply, that they are endued with any latent capacities of a rational or moral nature. And the economy of the universe might require that there should be living creatures without any capacities of this kind. And all difficulties, as to the manner how they are to be disposed of, are so apparently and wholly founded in our ignorance, that it is wonderful they should be insisted upon by any, but such as are weak enough to think they are acquainted with the whole system of things. There is, then, absolutely nothing at all in this objection, which is so rhetorically urged against the greatest part of the natural proofs or presumptions of the immortality of human minds: I say the greatest part ; for it is less applicable to the following observation, which is more peculiar to mankind :
III. That as it is evident our present powers and capacities, of reason, memory, and affection, do not depend upon our gross body, in the manner in which perception by our organs of sense does ; so they do not appear to depend upon it at all in any such manner as to give ground to think, that the dissolution of this body will be the destruction of these our present powers of reflection, as it will of our powers of sensation ; or to give ground to conclude even, that it will be so much as a suspension of the former.
Human creatures exist at present in two states of life and perception, greatly different from each other; each of which has its own peculiar laws, and its own peculiar enjoyments and sufferings. When any of our senses are affected, or appetites gratified with the objects of them, we may be said to exist, or live, in a state of sensation. When none of our senses are affected, or appetites gratified, and yet we perceive, and reason, and act, we may be said to exist, or live, in a state of reflection. Now it is by no means certain, that any thing which is dissolved by death is any way necessary to the living being, in this its state of reflection, after ideas are gained. For though, from our present constitution and condition of being, our external organs of sense are necessary for conveying in ideas to our reflecting powers, as carriages, and levers, and scaffolds are in architecture ; yet, when these ideas are brought in, we are capable of reflecting in the most intense degree, and of enjoying the greatest pleasure, and feeling the greatest pain, by means of that reflection, without any assistance from our senses; and without any at all, which we know of, from that body which will be dissolved by death.
It does not appear, then, that the relation of this gross body to the reflecting being is, in any degree, necessary to thinking; to our intellectual enjoyments or sufferings; nor, consequently, that the dissolution, or alienation, of the former by death, will be the destruction of those present powers, which render us capable of this state of reflection. Further, there are instances of mortal diseases which do not at all affect our present intellectual powers ; and this affords a presumption, that those diseases will not destroy these present powers. Indeed, from the observations made above*, it
appears that there is no presumption, from their mutually affecting each other, that the dissolution of the body is the destruction of the living agent. And by the same reasoning it must appear, too, that there is no presumption, from their mutually affecting each other, that the dissolution of the body is the destruction of our present reflecting powers ;
* Pages 8, 9, 10.