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he has a soul, as well as a body, to take care of; a spiritual and immortal substance which can never die; but when loosed from that prison, wherein it is now confined, must live for ever, either in happiness or misery.
And we may rightly conclude, that the soul of man is an immaterial principle, distinct* from the body, and is the cause of those several operations, which by inward sense and experience we are conscious of to ourselves. It is that whereby we think and remember; whereby we reason and debate about any thing, and do freely choose and refuse such things as are presented to us: it is so created by the divine wisdom and goodness, as not to have in itself any principle of corruption ; but that it will natilrally, or of itself, continue for ever, and cannot by any natural decay, or power of nature, be dissolved or destroyed; for when the body falls into the ground, the soul will still remain and live separate from it, and continue to perform all such operations, toward which the organs of the body are not necessary, and not only continue, but live in this separate state, so as to be sensible of happiness or misery.
All which truths have great probability from the evidence of reason; and nat.iral arguments incline us to believe them. Now the arguments from reason are taken from the nature of the soul itself: for those several actions and operations, which we are all conscious of to ourselves, such as liberty, or a power of choosing or refusing, and the several acts of reason and understanding, cannot without great violence be ascribed to matter, or be resolved into any bodily principle ; and therefore we must attribute them to another principle different from matter; and consequently the soul is immortal, and incapable of corruption, in its own nature. Besides, when all men, though distant and remote from one another, and diff rent in their tempers and manners, and ways of education ; when the most barbarous nations, as well as the most polite, agree in a thing; we may well call it the voice of nature, or a natural notion or dictate of our minds. But it is evident from the testimony of many ancient heathen writers, and the consent of several credible histories, that they believed that men and women do live after death, and have an existence when separated from their bodies ; and consequently that the soul is immortal. It is true, that some few instances may be brought where some have denied this; but their opposition is no proof that this notion is not natural: for some few exceptions are no better arguments against a universal consent, than some few monsters and prodigies are against the regular course of nature; because men may offer violence to nature, and debauch their understandings by lust, interest, or pride, and an affectation of singularity. Moreover,
* We learn from scripture (Eccles. iii. 21.) that a beast has a spirit distinct from its body, and that the said spirit is separated from it by death; and that they are not to be considered as mere machines and engines without real sensation, is as evident to us, as that men have sensations ; for the brute beasts appear to have all the five senses as truly as any man whatever. Nevertheless, it will not follow, that their souls are immortal in the sense we attribute immortality to the souls of men; because they are not capable of the exercise of reason and religion: whereas the immortality of men's souls consists not only in a capacity of living in a state separate from the body, but of living so as to be sensible of happiness or misery, in that state of separation; because they are not only endued with a faculty of sense, but with other faculties that do not depend upon, or have any connection with matter. And therefore, although it should be allowed, that the souls of brutes remain when separated from their bodies; yet being only endued with a sensitive principle, the operations thereof depend upon an organical disposition of the body, which being once dissolved, they probably lapse into an insensible and inactive state, and, being no further necessary, may return to their primitive othing
The sense of nature is very evident from the great number of wicked men in the world; who, notwithstanding it is their interest that there should be no life after this, callnot overcome the fears of those torments, in which the wicked are threatened to be punished for ever. Again, this truth is confirmed by those natural notions we have of God, and of the real difference between good and evil ; for the belief of a God implies the belief of his infinite goodness and justice. The first, or his goodness, inclines him to make some creatures more perfect than others, and capable of greater degrees of happiness, and of longer duration; because goodness delights in communicating its own perfections : and since in man are found the perfections of an immortal nature, which are knowledge and liberty, we may infer, that he is endowed with such a principle as in its own
nature is capable of eternal life. The latter, or his infinite justice, proves that he loves righteousness, and hates iniquity: but the dispensations of his providence in this world being very promiscuous, so that good men often suffer, and that for the sake of righteousness; and wicked men frequently prosper, and that by means of their wickedness; it is reasonable to believe the suitable disposition of rewards and punishments in a future state ; because, as there is a difference between good and evil founded in the nature of things, it is reasonable to imagine they will be distinguished by rewards and punishments, not in this world, but in a future state, where all things shall be set right, and the justice of God's providence vindicated; which is the very thing meant by the immortality of the soul. And,
Lastly, The natural hopes and fears of men cannot well be accounted for without the belief of the soul's immortality: such hopes and fears are common to all men. For what would it avail to be desirous to perpetuate a name to posterity, and by brave actions endeavour to purchase fame, if there was not a belief of an existence in another world to enjoy it? Or, can it be thought that they, who by the virtue and piety of their lives, by the justice and honesty of their actions have endeavoured to seek the Lord, have not been raised to an expectation of rewards after death? Again, how can any one account for that shame and horror, which follow the commission of any wicked action, though covered with the greatest privacy, and unknown to any but the offender? Certainly it can be only the effect of nature, which suggests to them the certainty of an after reckoning, when they shall be punished for their bad actions, or rewarded for their good: and so fills the one full of hopes, and the other with fear and dread.*
These are such arguments as, in reason, the nature of the thing will bear; for an immortal nature is neither capable of the evidence of sense, nor of mathematical demonstration; and therefore we should content ourselves with these arguments in this matter, so far as to suffer ourselves to be
• See the Reasonableness of a last Judgment in Sunday iv. Sect. vii.
persuaded, that it is highly probable. But that which giveth us the greatest assurance of it, is the revelation of the gospel, whereby life and immortality are brought to light; and which is the only sure foundation of our hopes, and an anchor for our faith: because the authority of God is above all reason and human knowledge. The resurrection of Christ is not only a manifest proof of his divine authority, and that he was a prophet sent from God; but also that we shall rise again to be reunited with our souls, and therefore we should
prefer the interest of our souls before all the advantages of this life; nay, it should make us ready and willing to part with every thing that is most dear to us in this world, to secure their eternal welfare; because, if we lose our own souls, all the enjoyments in this world, can make us no recompense. For, nothwithstanding the fall of our first parents has made us all subject to death, yet our souls, when separated from our bodies, shall live in another state; and even our bodies, though committed to the
grave, and turned to dust, shall, at the last day, rise again, and be reunited to our souls; and being so united, the whole man, body and soul, shall be made capable of eternal happiness or misery. And
II. Since this is the case with all of us, how inconsiderately do men act in spending so much thought about the body, which is the seat of pains and the most noisome diseases, while it is alive; and which death (which it cannot escape) renders so intolerably offensive and odious, that it must be buried out of sight. To spend all our time and care about this vile part, the body, and to neglect the most valuable part, the soul, which is of inestimable worth, on account of its noble faculties, and as it is made after God's own image, and is to exist to all eternity, certainly argues the greatest degree of imprudence and stupidity. And therefore our greatest kindness for our body is to take care of our soul. Consider whether we are able to live in the midst of everlasting fire! If the burn of a finger, or a small spark of fire be so intolerable to the least part of the body, Who can endure the fire that shall never be quenched; and whose torments after thousands and millions of years are no nearer an end than
they were at the first moment they began? Yet, this is the woeful and certain end of every one that neglects the care of his own soul. Not that I would be understood to intend, that we must neglect our bodies: but that, which promotes the interest of our souls, must be preferred before any
interest of the body, which cannot live without the soul. For
Every present enjoyment, be it ever so comfortable, may be lost; and riches, whatever advantage they give us, may make themselves wings, and fly away. How many are ruduced, in a few hours, from plentiful circumstances to extreme necessity by fire or water? Besides, if people do imagine themselves secure in an inheritance, a small observation of human life may show, that this cannot absolutely be depended upon; for fraud and violence may turn a man out of his fortune or estate. And where is the person that can depend upon a continued state of health? The most confirmed constitution is not proof against the assaults of pain or sickness; for every member of the body, every bone, joint, and sinew, lies open to many disorders; and the greatest prudence or precaution, or skill of the physician, cannot many times prevent those disorders from coming upon us, much less ascertain to us health, which is the greatest of our outward enjoyments. Again, we often see the highest honours exchanged for the lowest abasements and contempt: so the rich man is frequently reduced to poverty; the healthy man laid upon a bed of languishing; and all the pleasures the sinner can receive from the most careful gratification of his sensual appetites, are but of the very same kind with those that brute beasts are capable of as well as he; only with this difference, that their enjoyments are more affecting, and less allayed with bitterness, than his are. But besides, they have far more uneasiness and trouble in them than of de light and satisfaction. The covętous, the proud, the envious, the glutton, the drunkard, the whoremonger, the am bitious, the revengeful, can testify out of their
own sad experience, that, when they have summed up the matter, the contentment, which they receive from the gratification of these several passions or appetites, doth nowise counterva:l the pains and restlessness, the disturbances and disappoin: