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vantage by thinking. If it has no memory of its own thoughts; if it cannot lay them up for its own use, and be able to recall them upon occasion; if it cannot reflect upon what is past, and make use of its former experiences, reasonings, and contemplations; to what purpose does it think? They, who make the soul a thinking thing, at this rate, will not make it a much more noble being, than those do, whom they condemn, for allowing it to be nothing but the subtilest parts of matter. Characters drawn on dust, that the first breath of wind effaces; or impressions made on a heap of atoms, or animal spirits, are altogether as useful, and render the subject as noble, as the thoughts of a soul that perish in thinking; that once out of sight are gone for ever, and leave no memory of themselves behind them. Nature never makes excellent things for mean or no uses : and it is hardly to be conceived, that our infinitely wise Creator should make so admirable a faculty as the power of thinking, that faculty which comes nearest the excellency of his own incomprehensible being, to be so idly and uselessly employed, at least a fourth part of its time here, as to think constantly, without remembering any of those thoughts, without doing any good to itself or others, or being any way useful to any other part of the creation. If we will examine it, we shall not find, I suppose, the motion of dull and senseless matter, any where in the universe, made so little use of, and so wholly thrown away. On this hy- $ 16. It is true, we have sometimes inpothesis the stances of perception whilst we are asleep, soul must have ideas
and retain the memory of those thoughts; not derived but how extravagant and incoherent for from sensa the most part they are, how little contion or re- formable to the perfection and order of a flection, of which there
e rational being, those who are acquainted is no appear with dreams need not be told. This I ance.
would willingly be satisfied in, whether the soul, when it thinks thus apart, and as it were
formable to art they are.. incoherentes;
separate from the body, acts less rationally than when conjointly with it or no. If its separate thoughts be less rational, then these men must say, that the soul owes the perfection of rational thinking to the body: if it does not, it is wonder that our dreams should be, for the most part, so frivolous and irrational, and that the soul should retain none of its more rational soliloquies and meditations.
$ 17. Those who so confidently tell us, that “ the soul always actually thinks,”I when I know would they would also tell us what those it not, noideas are that are in the soul of a child, body else can before, or just at the union with the body,
know it. before it hath received any by sensation. The dreams of sleeping men are, as I take it, all made up of the waking man's ideas, though for the most part oddly put together. It is strange if the soul has ideas of its own, that it derived not from sensation or reflection (as it must have if it thought before it received any impressions from the body), that it should never, in its private thinking (so private, that the man himself perceives it not) retain any of them, the very moment it wakes out of them, and then make the man glad with new discoveries. Who can find it reasonable that the soul should, in its retirement, during sleep, have so many hours' thoughts, and yet never light on any of those ideas it borrowed not from sensation or reflection; or at least preserve the memory of none but such, which, being occasioned from the body, must needs be less natural to a spirit? It is strange the soul should never once in a man's whole life recall over any of its pure native thoughts, and those ideas it had before it borrowed any thing from the body; never bring into the waking man's view any other ideas but what have a tang of the cask, and manifestly derive their original from that union. If it always thinks, and so had ideas before it was united, or before it received any from the body, it is not to be supposed but that during sleep it recollects its native ideas; and during
that retirement from communicating with the body, whilst it thinks by itself, the ideas it is busied about should be, sometimes at least, those more natural and congenial ones which it had in itself, underived from the body, or its own operations about them ; which, since the waking man never remembers, we must from this hypothesis conclude, either that the soul remembers something that the man does not, or else that memory belongs only to such ideas as are derived from the body, or the mind's operations about them. How knows $ 18. I would be glad also to learn from any one that these men, who so confidently pronounce, the soul al- that the human soul, or, which is all one, waysthinks?
that a man always thinks, how they come For if it be not a self to know it; nay, how they come to know evident pro- that they themselves think, when they position, it themselves do not perceive it. This, I needs proof. am afraid, is to be sure without proofs ; and to know, without perceiving: it is, I suspect, a confused notion taken up to serve an hypothesis; and none of those clear truths, that either their own evi. dence forces us to admit, or common experience makes it impudence to deny. For the most that can be said of it is, that it is possible the soul may always think, but not always retain it in memory: and I say, it is as possible that the soul may not always think; and much more probable that it should sometimes not think, than that it should often think, and that a long while together, and not be conscious to itself the next moment after, that it had thought. That a man
$19. To suppose the soul to think, and should be the man not to perceive it, is, as has been
said, to make two persons in one man; thinking,
and if one considers well these men's way and yet not retain it the
of speaking, one should be led into a next mo- suspicion that they do so. For they who ment, very tell us that the soul always thinks, do improbable. never, that I remember, say that a man always thinks. Can the soul think, and not the man ?
or a man think, and not be conscious of it? This perhaps would be suspected of jargon in others. If they say, the man thinks always, but is not always conscious of it; they may as well say, his body is extended without having parts: for it is altogether as intelligible to say, that a body is extended without parts, as that any thing thinks without being conscious of it, or perceiving that it does so. They who talk thus may, with as much reason, if it be necessary to their hypothesis, say, that a man is always hungry, but that he does not always feel it: whereas hunger consists in that very sensation, as thinking consists in being conscious that one thinks. If they say, that a man is always conscious to himself of thinking, I ask, how they know it. Consciousness is the perception of what passes in a man's own mind. Can another man perceive that I am conscious of any thing, when I perceive it not myself? No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience. Wake a man out of a sound sleep, and ask him, what he was that moment thinking of. If he himself be conscious of nothing he then thought on, he must be a notable diviner of thoughts that can assure him that he was thinking: may he not with more reason assure him he was not asleep? This is something beyond philosophy; and it cannot be less than revelation that discovers to another thoughts in my mind, when I can find none there myself; and they must needs have a penetrating sight, who can certainly see that I think, when I cannot perceive it myself, and when I declare that I do not; and yet can see that dogs or elephants do not think, when they give all the demonstration of it imaginable, except only telling us that they do so. This some may suspect to be a step beyond the Rosecrucians; it seeming easier to make one's self invisible to others, than to make another's thoughts visible to me, which are not visible to himself. But it is but defining the soul to be “a substance that always thinks," and the business is done. If such de
dent, if evi
senses have furnidhul thinks before
finition be of any authority, I know not what it can serve for, but to make many men suspect, that they have no souls at all, since they find a good part of their lives pass away without thinking. For no definitions, that I know, no suppositions of any sect, are of force enough to destroy constant experience; and perhaps it is the affectation of knowing beyond what we perceive, that makes so much useless dispute and noise in the world. No ideas but $ 20. I see no reason therefore to befrom sensa- lieve, that the soul thinks before the tion or re
senses have furnished it with ideas to
ve think on; and as those are increased and observe chile retained, so it comes, by exercise, to imdren. prove its faculty of thinking, in the several parts of it, as well as afterwards, by compounding those ideas, and reflecting on its own operations ; it increases its stock, as well as facility, in remembering, imagining, reasoning, and other modes of thinking.
§ 21. He that will suffer himself to be informed by observation and experience, and not make his own hypothesis the rule of nature, will find few signs of a soul accustomed to much thinking in a new-born child, and much fewer of any reasoning at all. And yet it is hard to imagine, that the rational soul should think so much, and not reason at all. And he that will consider that infants, newly come into the world, spend the greatest part of their time in sleep, and are seldom awake, but when either hunger calls for the teat, or some pain (the most importunate of all sensations), or some other violent impression upon the body forces the mind to perceive and attend to it: he, I say, who considers this, will, perhaps, find reason to imagine, that a foetus in the mother's womb differs not much from the state of a vegetable; but passes the greatest part of its time without perception or thought, doing very little in a place where it needs not seek for food, and is surrounded with liquor,