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Who art thou, immaterial spirit, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man? Man hath no immediate power over a spirit; he can affect it only by means of body. It is only by the body that a tyrant can cause a little anguish in the soul. It is only by the body as a mean that he can flatter some of the propensities of the soul, and propose himself to it as an object of its hope and fear. But, beside that this power is infinitely small while the soul is subject to it; beside that the soul is capable of a thousand pleasures and a thousand pains, during its union to the body, which man cannot excite; beside these advantages, it is beyond a doubt, that this power of a tyrant can endure no longer than the union of the soul to the body doth, by the means of which the tyrant affects it. If a tyrant exercise his power to a certain degree, he loseth it. When he has carried to a certain degree that violent motion, which he produceth in the body in order to afflict the soul, which is united to it, he breaks the bond that unites the soul to the body, and frees his captive by overloading him with chains. The union being dissolved, the soul is free ; it no longer depends on the tyrant, because he communicates with it only by means of body.
After the destruction of the organs of the body, the soul is superior to every effort of a despot's rage. Death removes the soul beyond the reach of the most powerful monarch. After death, the soul becomes invisible, and a tyrant's eye searcheth for it in vain : it ceaseth to be tangible, his chains and his fetters can hold it no more: it is no more divisible, his gibbets and his racks, his pincers and his wheels, can rend it no more: none of his fires can burn it, for it is not combustible: nor can any of his dungeons confine it, for it is immaterial.
Would to God, my brethren, we were well acquainted with our real grandeur, and, perceiving our own excellence, were above trembling at those contemptible worms of the earth, who fancy they kaow how to terrify us, only because they have acquired the audacity of addressing us with insolence and pride. There is no extravagance, there is not even a shadow of extravagance, in what we have advanced on the grandeur of an inmaterial spirit. We have not said enough. It is not enough to say that a soul can neither be disordered by chains, nor racks, nor gibbets, nor pincers, nor fires ; it defies the united power of universal nature. ' Yea, were all the waters that hang in the clouds, and that roll in the sea,
were every drop collected into one prodigious deluge to over· whelm it, it would not be drowned. Were mountains the
most huge, were masses the most enormous, were all matter, to compose, if I may speak so, one vast ponderous weight to fall on and to crush it, it would not be bruised, yea, it would not be moved. Were all the cedars of Lebanon, with all the brimstone of Asphaltites, and with every other inflammable matter, kindled in one blaze to consume it, it would not be burnt. Yea, when the heavens pass away with a great noise, when the constellations of heaven fall, when the elements melt with fervent heat, when the earth, and all the works that are therein, are burnt up, 2 Pet. iii. 10. when all these things are dissolved, thou, human soul! shalt surmount all these vicissitudes and rise above all their ruins! Who art thou? Iinmaterial spirit! Illo art thou to be afraid of a man?
But, if the soul, considered in its nature ; if the soul, as a spiritual being, be superior to human tyranny; what homage, on this very account, what submission and abase: ment, or, to confine ourselves to the text, what fear ought we not to exercise toward the Supreme Being? Who would ilot fear thee, ( king of nations? God alone hath the power of destroying an iminaterial soul; God alone hath the power of preserving it. God is the only Father of spirits, Fear not them which kill the body: but fear them which is able to destroy the sout. Yea, I say unto you, fear him, Luke xii. 5. God alone can act immediately on a spiritual creature. He needs neither the fragrance of flowers, nor the savour of foods, nor any of the mediums of matter, to communicate agreeable sensations to the soul. He needs neither the action of fire, the rigour of racks, nor the gallings of chains, to produce sensations of pain. He acts immediately to the soul. It is he, human soul! It is he, who, by leaving thee to revolve in the dark void of thine unenlightened mind, can deliver thee up to all the torments that usually follow ignorance, uncertainty, and doubt. But the same God can expand thine intelligence just when he pleaseth, and enable it to lay down principles, to infer consequences, to establish conclusions. It is he, who can impart new ideas to thee, teach thee to combine those which thou hast already acquired, enable thee to multiply numbers, shew thee how to conceive the infinitely various arrangements of matter, acquaint thee with the cssence of thy thoughts, its different modifications and its endless operations. It is he who can grant thee new revelations, develope those wbich he hath already given thee, but which have hitherto lain in obscurity; he can inform thee of his purposes, his counsels, and decrees,
and lay before thee, if I may venture to say so, the whole history of time and eternity: For nothing, either hath subsisted in time or will subsist in eternity, but what was preconceived in the counsels of his infinite intelligence. It is he, who alone, and for ever, can excite infinite sensations of pleasure or pain within thee. It is he, who can apprehend the soul of a tyrant, amidst the most gay and festive objects, among the most servile flatteries of a court, and, in spite of a concourse of pleasures, produce such horrors and fears, and exquisite torments, as shall change even a Belshazzar's countenance, trouble his thoughts, loose the joints of his loins, and smite his knees one against another, Dan. v. 6. And it is he also, who is able to divert a seusa tion of pain, amidst the greatest torments, yea, to absorb a strong sensation of pain in a stronger sensation of pleasure. He can make a martyr triumph, all involved in fire and flames hy shedding abroad the effusions of love in his heart, Rom. v. 5. the peace of God which passeth all understanding, and which keeps the senses, Phil
. iv. 7*. that is, a peace which is superior to the action of the senses, and not to be intertupted by the exercise of them. It is he, who can enable him to celebrate a victory during an apparent defeat; who can overflow, in a sufferers heart, the pains of martyrdom with the pleasures of paradise, and fill the mouth with shouts of triumph and songs of praise.
Speak, you martyrs of Jesus Christ, tell us what influence the infinite God hath over the soul! Be you our divines and philosophers. What did you feel, when penetrating through a shower of stones, you cried, Behold we see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God ? Acts vii. 56. What did you feel, when experiencing all the rage of the cruel Nero, you exulted, We rejoice in hope of the glory of God? Rom. v. 2. But this is not the whole of the believers joy. The expectation of arriving at great happiness by means of tribulations may naturally produce a pátient submission to tribulations. But here is something more. We rejoice, saith St. Paul, in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, adds he, (weigh this expressive sentence, my brethren) not only so ; it is not only the hope of the glory of God that supports and comforts us ; not only so; but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope : and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the holy Ghost which is given unto us. What did
* Our author uses the common reading of the French bible, which is gar de les sens. The original word is used in the holy scriptures for reflection, Rom. vii. 25. and for sensation, James í. 23.' The reason of our following the French reading in this place is obvious. Where the same reason does not oblige us, we have made it a law, in quotations of scripture, scrupulously to adhere to our English text.
you feel, when your executioners, not being able to obtain your voluntary adoration of their idols, endeavoured to obtain it by force ; when refusing to offer that incense which they had put into your hands, you sang, Blessed be the Lord, who teacheth our hands to war and our fingers to fight? Psal. cxliv. 1. What did you feel, when wrapping your heads in the few
that persecution had left you, you refused to look at the worship of idols, and patiently submitted to be bruised with bastinadoes, condemned to the gallies, and chained to the oars ? What did you feel, when in that painful situation, you employed the remainder of your strength to look upward and to adore the God of heaven and earth? It is God who supports his creature amidst all these torments, and he alone can infinitely diversify and extend his sensibility. None but he can excite in the soul those inef- . fable pleasures, of which we have no ideas, and which we can express by no names; but which will be the objects of our eternal praises, if they be the objects of our present faith and hope. It is God, and only God, who can communicate happiness in this manner. None of this power is in the hand of man. Who art thou, spiritual creature, to be afraid of a man?
But, we add further, Who art thou, immortal crcature, to be afraid of a man that shall die ? The iinmortality of the soul elevates it above a mortal power, and renders supreme fear a just homage to none but to that Being whose dominion continues as long as the soul continues to exist. Can we be such novices, I do not say in the school of revelation, but in that of the most superficial reason, as to confound the duration of the soul with the duration of life? Or rather, are we so expert in the art of going from the great to the little, from the little to the less, fiom the less to the least divisible parts of time or of matter, as to assign an atom of matter so minute, or an instant of time so inconsiderable, that either of them would express the shortness of a mortal VOL. I. LI
life in comparison of the duration of an immortal soul? The most accurate teachers of logic and metaphysics forbid the use of the terms length, duration, period, in speaking of eternity. We may say a length, a duration, a period, of a thousand, or of ten thousand millions of
but if we speak accurately and philosophically, we cannot say the duration of eternity, the length of eternity, the periods of eternity ; because all the terms that are applicable to time, are inadequate to eternity. No, no, you would attempt difficulties altogether insurmountable, were you to try to find a quantity so small as to express the shortness of a mortal life in comparison of the duration of an immortal soul. Not only the most expert mathematician is unequal to the attempt; but it implies a contradiction to affirm, that the infinite spirit can do this ; becaue contradiction never is an object of infinite power, and because it implies a contradiction to measure the existence of an immortal soul by the duration of a mortal life. It can never be said that a hundred years are the thousandth, or the ten thousandth, or the hundred thousandth part of eternity. The inspired writers, whose language was often as just as their ideas were pure, have told us, that life is as the withering grass; as a fading flower, Isa. xl. 7. as a declining shadow, Psal. cii. 11. su'ifter than the rapid and imperceptible motion of a weaver's shuitle, Job. vii
. 6. They call it a vapour, James iv. 14. that is dissipated in the air; a dream, Psal. Ixxiii. 20. of which no vestige remains when the morning is come, a Thought* that vanisheth as soon as it is formed; a phantom ť which walkeih in a vain show. But by all these emblems they meant 10 excite humility in us; but not to give us any ideas of a proportion between the duration of withering grass, fading flowers, declining shadows, the time of throwing a weurer's shuitle, of the dissipation of a vapour, ef the passing of a dream, of the forming and losing of a thought, of the appearance of a phantom, and the eternal existence of an imınortal soul. Such is the life of man! and such the duration of the dominion of a tyrant over an immortal soul! a duration which is only a point in eternity. A tyrant is mortal, his empire expires with his life, and were he to employ the whole course of his life in tormenting a martyr, and in trying to impair his felicity, he would resemble an idiot throwing stones at the lightning, while in
* Psal. xc. 9. Heb.
Psal. xxxix, 5, 6. Heb.