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monftrations, when Men are willing and defirous to believe; and therefore no Man can reject them, without an obftinate Averfion to believing.
I grant, a wife Man will take care not to believe too faft, nor to be too easily impos'd on by Interest and Inclinations; but he is never averfe to believing what is greatly for his Intereft to be true. And therefore Infidelity, when there are probable Reafons of Faith, is not Prudence and Caution in believing, as Infidels would have the World think; and value themselves very much upon it, when they are unwilling and afraid that there fhould be another Life, and therefore will not believe it. Now whatever the Reproach of Credulity may be, this is a thousand times more infamous. For to believe another Life, is to believe on Nature's fide; is a noble and generous Hope, and an honourable Opinion of Human Nature: But to wish and hope that there is no other Life; and to rejoyce and triumph when they think they can prove it, or that they can baffle all the Proofs for it; this is to hope against all Mankind, to hope against Life and Being, against the Dignity of Human Nature; and I'm fure all Mankind ought to abhor them, for wifhing them all to be Mortal, which is the greatest Aversion of Nature. Let them with and hope for themselves, and keep their Wishes to themfelves; and I will not deny but they may have very good Reafon on their fide; for it may be the best thing they can wifh for: But to defire and hope that all Mankind shall perish in the Grave, as well as themselves, is a profefs'd Enmity to Human Nature; and they ought to be treated with that Scorn and Contempt, which fuch unnatural Defires, fuch a contemptible Opinion as they have of themselves, and fuch an Injury done to Human Nature deferves. It is no faulty Credulity to believe that to be probable, which has probable Reafons for it; and when it is our higheft Interest that it
fhould be true, to hope more ftrongly than our Reafons are to believe it; efpecially, when if we be mistaken in our Faith and Hope, it is a very honourable Miftake, and fuch a Miftake as a wife Man would rather chufe, than to know the Truth; and what no Man fhall ever laugh at us for. Tully was not afham'd to own, that if he were mistaken in the Belief of another Life, he liked the Mistake fo well, that he was not willing to be undeceived, but defired to live and die with it: For it is a pleasant Delufion, if it be one, to live and die with the Hopes of Immortality; but it would be a very uncomfortable Discovery to all generous Minds, to know certainly that they must perish in the Grave. And the fame excellent Philofopher tells the Epicureans very pleafantly, That if he were mitaken in this, however he had this Satisfaction, that they should never laugh at him for this Miftake. Thofe laugh too foon at the Belief of another Life, who begin to laugh in this World; and if they ftay till Death decides the Controverfy, if there be another Life, they will have no Cause, and no Stomach to laugh; and if there be none, there is an End of Laughing on all fides. To believe as the Generality of Mankind believe and hope, can never be a Reproach; because Atheists and Infidels will always be out-voted in this World, and the greatest Numbers will be the Judges of Honour and Reputation: And whether there be or be not another Life, the Belief of it can be no Reproach to us hereafter. But to defire and hope that there fhould be no other Life, whether it be true or falfe, will always be infamous; for it is to defire what human Nature abhors, nay, what the meanest and most contemptible Creature would abhor, were it capable of fuch a Thought. One would think this might fhame the Infidel, and make him a little more modeft, and lefs peremptory in denying
a Future State; for certainly there is not a greater Argument of a vile degenerate Mind, than to love Death, and to hate Life and Being: And it is impoffible for an Infidel to clear himself from this Imputation, if we can but prove, that the Natural and Moral Arguments for another Life are at leaft very probable. For not to allow that to be probable which there are probable Proofs of, is not to believe by Reafon; and Men who do not believe by Reason, must believe by Inclination; and a very fcandalous Inclination this is, to be inclined to Eternal Death and Nothingness.
3. There is this Advantage alfo in it, That if by thefe Natural and Moral Arguments we can convince Men that it is highly probable there is a Future State, this will greatly difpofe them to the Belif of the Gospel Revelation, which contains the express Promifes of eternal Life. The Gofpel Revelation carries fuch Evidence with it, as nothing but obftinate Prejudices and corrupt Interefts can refift; and when thefe are removed, it muft conquer by its own Light: And to prove the Future State to be highly probable, removes them all.
A Man, who is convinc'd that there are great Probabilities of a Future State, if he act like a wife Man, muft live as if there were a Future State; and this removes the Byafs of Intereft and corrupt Affections, which, I doubt, is the greatest Prejudice of all against the Belief of another World. It is univerfally acknowledged, that if there be another Life, good Men fhall be rewarded, and wicked Men punished in the next World. Those who believe it highly probable that it will be thus, cannot freely indulge their Vices, but fin with Fear and Shame, as thofe do, who believe another World; that there is very little Difference upon this Account, between the Probabilities of another World, and the certain Belief of it: And therefore
fore when they are once come to believe it probable that there is another Life, there can be no Objection against believing it certain, if there be fufficient Evidence for it: For if the Fear of Damnation be the Objection, they should reject the Probability of a Future State, as well as the Certainty of it: For though there is a great Difference between Probability and Certainty; yet confider'd as a Prejudice against believing, they are much the fame; for Men are almost as unwilling to believe the high Probability, as the Certainty of a State of Damnation; and find no great Relief in thinking, that it is only very probable that they fhall be damned. Nay, when Men are convinc'd of the Probability of a Future State, they naturally defire to know the Certainty of it, if it be to be known. Probabilities are very uneafy, they are fufficient to make us fear; but we defire better Evidence and Security for our Hopes; and this difpofes Men tó an impartial Enquiry into the Reasons of the Chriftian Hope.
And when Men are convinc'd of the great Probability of a Future State, this makes fuch a Revelation very credible; for nothing can be incredible, which is probable. And when Nature has furnished us with fuch probable Arguments of a Future State, which we may fuppofe were fufficient to create a Belief in the more innocent Ages of the World, it seems very becoming the Divine Goodnefs to give us a more fenfible and unquestionable Proof of it, when the Degeneracy of Mankind, and the eternal Difputes of Philofophers, had confounded these Natural Evidences.
This is the Advantage, and the true Use of Natural and Moral Arguments of a Future State, to prove the great Probability of another Life; which will fpoil the Triumphs of Infidelity, and difpofe Men to receive the Gofpel. And here we ought to stop, if we will difpute to any certain Advantage.
vantage. We We may spoil good Arguments by pretending to prove too much by them; which has been a common Mifcarriage in our prefent Difpute. The certain Proofs of Immortality must be fetch'd from the Gospel, and thofe who believe the Gospel, need no other; and it is as much as we need defire of Natural and Moral Arguments, to turn the Scales, and give the Advantage of great Probabilities to another Life; which will give a great Check to Infidelity, and as it may reasonably be hop'd, bring them to the School of Chrift, for more perfect Inftruction.
鹽鹽盈盈盈盈盈盈盈盈盈盈盈盈盈 CHA P. II.
Concerning the Natural and Moral Arguments of a Future State.
Shall begin with the Natural and Moral Arguments of a Future State: But muft defire you to remember what I have fo largely difcourfed, That I do not alledge them as ftrict Demonstrations, or direct and pofitive Proofs, which exclude all Sufpicion or Poffibility of the Things being otherwife, but only as fuch high Probabilities, as are next in Degree to direct and pofitive Proofs. And therefore it will be no Objection against any thing I fhall fay, though you could prove, that these Arguments do not give us an abfolute Certainty; unless you can prove, that they are not fo much as probable, or not fo probable, that they ought to move a wife Man. For in a Question of fuch vaft Concernment as this is, and when we must chufe one fide; if there be not fo much as the leaft Probability on one fide of the Queftion, and very great Probabilities