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“ But, Sir, how much more important is the care of the soul than that of the body.”
“ Phsa! the soul! what is it that you know of the soul?"
* That it is," said I, “ the immaterial part of man — that it is immortal - a ray of
“ A ray of a fiddle-stick," said he, interrupting me; “ I say you know nothing at all about it.”
“My knowledge of it," I replied, “is gained from the Bible."
“Does the Bible treat of anatomy? for, if it does not, what can you know of it? Young man! the best thing you can do, is to leave theology for old women and monks, and take to philosophy – take to science, and then you may talk with more confidence of the soul, and of the material frame."
“Do you- mean," I asked, “to recommend my giving up revelation for reason, and that I should lean on man rather than
upon God ?" 66 No; I mean to recommend Nature as your God, and Nature only.”
- Alas !” said I, “I once took her for my only guide; I once reverenced her as my only divinity, but I can now, thank heaven ! distinguish between a first and second cause, or rather between cause and effect."
“ What,” said the old man with avidity, his eyes twinkling with light like sparks in a tinderbox; "what, have you lately been a philosopher; a searcher into science, and now become an apostate ?”
“ I confess," said I, “that it has been only during the last year or two that my mind has been opened to the reception of truth. When I worshipped Nature, I never had that heavenly tranquillity and satisfaction of mind that I now enjoy."
“ This is enthusiasm," said he, “trace back your steps and I will go with you to show where you have been misled by an ignis fatuus that has allured
from the substantial demonstrations of truth, to the mere shadow of it. What, you were once an unbeliever, eh? - perhaps, an Atheist ? — 'tis what many a great man has been before you. Come, let us hear by what means you were tempted to leave the subțimity of science, for the vagaries of priestcraft and all its nonsense.”
“ In the hope,” said I, “ that some of the reasons which have weighed upon my mind may operate in a similar manner upon yours, 1 consent to do this. Without such a motive, I should hold it to be a falling back into my former sin and impiety, to permit the subject to occupy any further portion of my time, cleansed, as I trust my mind now is, of the foul pollution."
“ Hard words are signs of weak arguments," said he, “but go on."
“ Then, sir,” said I, “I once lived without the acknowledgment of any God in the world, save Nature herself. I loved her, I worshipped her, her works were the objects of my wonder and admiration ; but my mind was darkened, and when I came to sober deep reflection, I found that I had set up an idol in my heart; for material Mature could disclose nothing spiritual to the material man."
“What more is it that you would have her disclose ?” asked the philosopher.
“ What more? ask yourself; can any, endued with life, and a living soul, be satisfied with this ? “Yes,” said he, “I can, for one; and
if you be a philosopher, may be so too; but let us understand what it is that you mean by life; What is it?”
Activity in the mortal frame," said I, “constitutes the life of the body; — active faith in God and in his only Son, the life of the soul.”
6. Yes, but what, Sir, is it that gives this activity to the body, and this life to the soul ?”
“ God! the great and only first cause,” I replied.
“ Then, a little philosophy shall convince you of your mistake, and make you see that life is entirely the result of organization; or, what may be more intelligible to you, of material conformation. The functions which nature enables you to perform are what constitute life, and these functions emanate from the adaptation of the different parts of the body one to another. And as to the soul, — the soul is material like all other bodily organs of the animal frame, and is no more immaterial and immortal than your tea-kettle; although inwardly it is in a state of such great activity.”
“But how, Sir,” said I, taking from the fire the noisy object that had caught his attention, "how, Sir, are these organs brought and put together,
and so exactly fitted to each other, as to produce these functions?"
" How ?" said the Anatomist, “why, how was the world made from the original chaos ? Was it not as the ancient philosophers declare, created by a self-existing cause, from a rude and undigested mass of matter? The same ori. gin explains and answers the present question. Is it more surprising that an animal body should exist by a self-inherent cause, than that the world should ?"
“ How then do you explain the difference between vegetable and animal life, and between life in irrational and rational beings?”
“ Easily enough,” said the philosopher, “the two former depend on the organic arrangement; the latter on the animal conformation.”
This," said I, “appears to me a distinction without a difference."
« The difference to the scientific mind is striking. Then as to the soul you speak of; I affirm that it is seated in the brain, and is, what may be called, if you please, the produce of all the organic and material sensations of the whole body, brought into one single point or focus."