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we may nereafter animate these same or new bodies vari cusly modified and organized, as to conceive how we can animate such bodies as our present. And, lastly, the dissolution of all these several organized bodies, supposing ourselves to have successively animated them, would have no more conceivable tendency to destroy the living beings, ourselves, or deprive us of living faculties, the faculties of perception and of action, than the dissolution of any foreign matter, which we are capable of receiving impressions from, and making use of for the common occasions of life.
II. The simplicity and absolute oneness of a living agent cannot, indeed, from the nature of the thing, be properly proved by experimental observations. But as these fall in with the supposition of its unity. so they plainly lead us to conclude certainly, that our gross organized bodies, with which we perceive the objects of sense, and with which we act, are no part of ourselves, and therefore show us, that we have no reason to believe their destruction to be ours; even without determining whether our living substances be material or immaterial. For we see by experience, that men may lose their limbs, their organs of sense, and even the greatest part of these bodies, and yet remain the same living agents: And persons can trace up the existence of themselves to a time when the bulk of their bodies was extremely small, in comparison of what it is in mature age; and we cannot but think, that they might then have lost a considerable part of that small body, and yet have remained the same living agents, as they may now lose great part of their present body, and remain so. And it is certain, that the bodies of all animals are in a constant flux, from that never ceasing attrition which there is in every part of them. Now, things of this kind unavoidably teach us to distinguish between these living agents, ourselves, and large quantities of matter, in which we are very nearly interested: since these may be alienated, and actually are in a daily course of succession, and changing their owners; whilst we are assured, that each living agent remains one and the same permanent being.* And this general observation leads us on to the following ones.
First, That we have no way of determining by experience, what is the certain bulk of the living being each man calls himself; and yet, till it be determined that it is
*See Dissertation I.
larger in bulk than the solid elementary partic.es of matter, which there is no ground to think any natural power can dissolve, there is no sort of reason to think death to be the dissolution of it, of the living being, even though it should not be absolutely indiscerptible.
Secondly, From our being so nearly related to, and interested in certain systems of matter, suppose our flesh and bones, afterwards ceasing to be at all related to them, the living agents, ourselves, remaining all this while undestroyed, notwithstanding such alienations: and consequently these systems of matter not being ourselves; it follows further, that we have no ground to conclude any other, suppose internal systems of matter, to be the living agents ourselves; because we can have no ground to conclude this, but from our relation to, and interest in such other systems of matter: and, therefore, we can have no reason to conclude, what befalls those systems of matter at death, to be the destruction of the living agents. We have already, several times over, lost a great part, or perhaps the whole of our body, according to certain common established laws of nature; yet we remain the same living agents: when we shall lose as great a part, or the whole, by another common established law of nature, death, why may we not also remain the same? That the alienation has been gradual in one case, and in the other will be more at once, does not prove. any thing to the contrary. We have passed undestroyed through those many and great revolutions of matter, so peculiarly appro priated to ourselves; why should we imagine death would be so fatal to us? Nor can it be objected, that what is thus alienated, or lost, is no part of our original solid body, but only adventitious matter; because we may lose entire limbs, which must have contained many solid parts and vessels of the original body: or if this be not admitted, we have no proof that any of these solid parts are dissolved or alienated by death; though, by the way, we are very nearly related to that extraneous or adventitious matter, whilst it continues united to and distending 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 remov ed, that the dissolution of any matter is the destruction of a living agent, from the interest he once had in such matter,
Thirdly, If we consider our body somewhat more distinctly, as made up of organs and instruments of perception and of motion, it will bring us to the same conclusion. Thus, the common optical experiments show, and even the obser vation 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 and convey 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 senses. It is not intended, by any thing here said, to affirm, that the whole apparatus of vision, or of per ception 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 perci. pients, 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 experi ence 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 walk by the help of an artificial leg, just as it can make use of a pole or a lever, to reach towards self 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 the 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 the practice, or that his eyes are the seers, or his feet the movers, in any 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 (1 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 organs and instruments of perception and of motion belonging to them, is not their destruction; shows, demonstrativey, that there is no ground to think, that the dissolution of any other matter or destruction of any other 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, 1st, 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 may be endued with. There was once, pri or 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 existance 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 human species go out of the present world, be fore they come to the exercise of these capacities in any degree at all. But then, 2dly, 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 dis posed of, are so apparently and wholly founded on our igno rance, 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 ob servation, which is more peculiar to mankind
III. That as it is evident our present powers and capaci