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Contents of the Seventh Night. In the Sixth Night, arguments were drawn from
Nature, in proof of immortality : here, others are drawn from man : from his discontent ; from his passions and powers; from the gradual growth of reason ; from his fear of death; from the nature of hope, and of virtue ; from knowledge and love, as being the most essential properties of the soul; from the order of creation; from the nature of ambition ; avarice; pleasure. A digression on the grandeur of the passions. Immortality alone renders our present state intelligible. An objection from the Stoic's disbelief of immortality answered. Endless questions unresolvable, but on supposition of our immortality. The natural, most melancholy, and pathetic complaint of a worthy man, under the persuasion of no futurity. The gross absurdities and horrours of annihilation urged home on Lorenzo. The soul's vast importance; from whence it arises. The difficulty of being an infidel. The infamy, the cause, and the character of an infidel state. What true free-thinking is. The necessary punishment of the false. Man's ruin is from himself. An infidel accuses himself of guilt, and hypocrisy; and that of the worst sort. His obligation to Christians. What danger he incurs by virtue. Vice recoinmended to him. His high pretences to virtue and benevolence exploded. The conclusion, on the nature of faith, reason, and hope, with an apology for this attempt.
HEAVEN gives the needful, but neglected, call.
And kindly point us to our journey's end.
This, Earth and skies already * have proclaim'd.
Why discontent for ever harbour'd there?
Disquieted alike, draw sigh for sigh,
Is it, that things terrestrial can't content ?
Is Heaven then kinder to thy flocks than thee ? Not so; thy pasture richer, but remote; In part, remote; for that remoter part Man bleats from instinct, tho' perhaps, debauch'd By sense, his reason sleeps, nor dreams the cause. The cause how obvious, when his reason wakes ! His grief is but his grandeur in disguise; And discontent is immortality.
Shall sons of ether, shall the blood of Heaven, Set up their hopes on Earth, and stable here With brutal acquiescence in the mire ? Lorenzo ! no! they shall be nobly pain'd; The glorious foreigners, distress'd, shall sigh On thrones; and thou congratulate the sigh: Man's misery declares him born for bliss ; His anxious heart asserts the truth I sing, And gives the sceptic in his head the lie. Our heads, our hearts, our passions, and our powers, Speak the same language; call us to the skies ;.. Unripen'd these in this inclement clime, Scarce rise above conjecture and mistake;
And for this land of trifles those too strong.
Reason progressive, instinct is complete ;
Why of his proud prerogative the prey ?
Full ample fund to balance all amiss,
His immortality alone can solve The darkest of enigmas, human hope ; Of all the darkest, if at death we die. Hope, eager hope, th' assassin of our joy, All present blessings treading under foot, Is scarce a milder tyrant than despair. With no past toils content, still planning new, Hope turns us o'er to death alone for ease. Possession, why more tasteless than pursuit ? Why is a wish far dearer than a crown? That wish accomplish'd, why, the grave of bliss ? Because, in the great future buried deep, Beyond our plans of empire, and renown, Lies all that man with ardour should pursue ; And he who made him, bent him to the right.
Man's heart th’ Almighty to the future sets, By secret and inviolable springs; And makes his hope his sublunary joy. Man's heart eats all things, and is hungry still; “ More, more!" the glutton cries, for something
new; So rages appetite, if man can't mount, He will descend. He starves on the possest. Hence, the world's master, from ambition's spire, In Caprea plung'd; and div'd beneath the brute. In that rank sty why wallow'd empire's son Supreme ? Because he could no higher fly; His riot was ambition in despair.