« VorigeDoorgaan »
he went: That though God had promised to give
tain a better Refurrection; all which plainly and exprefsly refer to the Belief of future Rewards: I fay, excepting thefe, all the other Acts of Faith here mention'd are of a more particular Confideration; as Abraham and Sarah's believing that Promife God made them of a Son in their old Age; Abraham's offering up Ifaac at God's Command; Ifaac's bleffing Jacob and Efau; and Jacob's bleffing the Sons of Jofeph; and Jofeph's mentioning at his Death the departing of the Children of Irael, and giving Commandment concerning his Bones; and Mcfes's Parents when he was born, concealing him three Months; and Mofes keeping the Paffover; paffing the Red Sea; and the Walls of Jericho falling down; and Rabab's concealing the Spies; and all the Victories of Gideon, Barak, Samfon, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the Prophets; who through Faith fubdued Kingdoms, wrought Righteoufnefs, obtained Promifes, topp'd the Mouths of Lions, quench'd the Violence of Fire, escaped the Edge of the Sword, out of Weakness were made frong, waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the Armies of the Aliens: I fay, such Acts of Faith as these do not immediately refpect the Belief of another World, and future Rewards; but yet they are great Inftances of Faith in God; which it is impoffible any Man fhould have, in any great Degree, without the Belief of future Rewards.
Take away the Belief of another Life, and all wife and confidering Men muft have a very mean Opinion of Providence. For why should any Man think that God is much concern'd for Mankind, who are only to take a fhort turn or two in this World, and fo leave the Stage? Did Death put an end to us, a Life of Faith would be a very unaccountable and abfurd way of spending our Time; to waste our few and fhort Days in Hope and Expectation, when we know that Death will quickly
come, and put an end to us and all our Hopes. Would any wife Man upon these Terms have done as Abraham did; who left his native Country, and his Father's Houfe, to spend his whole Life in a ftrange Land, where he had no Inheritance, only in Expectation of God's Promife, That after fome hundred Years his Seed fhould inherit that Land? What was all this to him, if in the mean time he muft fall into nothing? If there were no Life but this, it would be moft reasonable to make the best we can of it, and to spend it in prefent Enjoyments, not in Faith and Hope. And thus most Men take care to do, as near as they can, who believe no other Life after this. And therefore all great and eminent Acts of Faith in God, whatever the particular Inftances of it be, are a certain Proof that fuch Men do believe unfeen Things, and live by Faith in God's Promifes in this World, in Hopes and Expectations of the unfeen and unknown Rewards of the next. Let us then reflect upon all this, and confider what new Evidence this gave the Jews of a future State, beyond what the Heathens had.
Now in the first place: This furnished them with many eminent Examples of the Belief of a future State, with the Examples of the wifeft and best Men of the World in all Ages; with the Examples of their own Progenitors from the Beginning of the World; which is apt to endear any Opinion and Custom to us, and to make it a Family-Faith. And this they had the most certain Evidence of, in the visible Effects of this Faith both in Life and Action. They fhewed their Faith by their Works; they firmly believed another Life, and they moft paffionately defired it; not with fome lazy and fruitlefs Wishes, but they took care to serve and please God, and that in the moft difficult Inftances, and with the most unre
ferved Obedience, without difputing, without repining, without the leaft Diftrust and Diffidence, with an heroical Refolution, invincible Courage, and unwearied Conftancy. And if Examples can fignify any thing, there cannot be greater and more convincing Examples than thefe. It is certain that those Men are in very good earneft, that they do heartily believe another Life, and heartily defire the Happiness of it, who are ready to forego any prefent Enjoyments, and to fubmit to the greateft Hardships and moft difficult Trials to obtain it. This is another Kind of Argument, than merely to hear Men profess their Belief of another Life, and their Defire of it, when the whole Course of their Lives contradicts fuch a Faith and Hope. The Wickedness of Men can't confute the natural Belief and Defires of Immortality; but the Examples of fuch good Men give a mighty Confirmation to it; efpecially when God himself gave such a glorious Testimony to them, as he did to Abel, Enoch, and Noah; and in an eminent Degree to Abraham, with whom he enter'd into Covenant, and chofe his Pofterity for his peculiar People, and took upon himfelf the Name of the God of Abraham, and Ifaac, and Jacob. So that tho' we do not find any express Promise of another Life under the Law, this falls very little short of it. And this Evidence the Jews had from the Hiftory of Mofes, and the Examples of their Forefathers recorded there.
The Mofaical Evidence of a Future State, from the Divine Providence.
4. Tof a future State, is the Wisdom and Ju
HE next natural and moral Argument
ftice of Providence. And we have fufficient Evi dence of this from the mere Light of Nature, to make it a very fenfible and convincing Argument: But the History of Mofes gives new Strength and Clearnefs to it, as giving us an ocular Demonftra tion of those Principles from whence this Conclufion is drawn, and a new Evidence of the neceffary Connexion betwen these Principles and the Conclufion. The Strength and Certainty of the Conclufion must bear Proportion to the Certainty of the Premises, and to the Evidence of the Connexion. And therefore, when we prove the Immortality of the Soul and a future State from the Divine Providence, our Evidence for a future State can't exceed that Evidence we have, that God go verns the World, that he is a wife and a juft Govenor, and therefore will certainly, at one time or other, reward good Men, and punish the Wicked. Now though we have very good natural Proofs of all this, yet we muft grant, that they fall fhort of that Evidence, which the Hiftory of Mofes gives us. There is the fame Difference between them, that there is between the mere Conclufions of Reason, how plain foever they may feem to be, and the certain Evidence of Senfe.
If we believe the Hiftory of Mofes, which the Jews moft firmly did, and which was therefore a Divine Evidence and Authority to them, we there fee the Providence of God, and the Wisdom and