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quent Returns of Fears, which difturb bad Men, may fatisfy us what that is.
2. Infidelity is a very unnatural Cure of these Fears, because it cures the Fear of another World by an unnatural Hope. I fhall fhew you hereafter, that nothing is more natural to Mankind than the Defire of Immortality; and then to fall into Nothing, to perifh eternally in the Grave, and never to be more, must be a very unnatural Hope: And this is the Hope of Infidels, that Death will put a final End to them. I grant it is very natural, rather to defire not to be, than to be miferable for ever; and therefore it is very natural for fuch Men, who expect nothing but eternal Miseries if there be another World, to wifh and defire that there were none: But this is not the original Defire of Nature; and it is certain that can never be a natural State, which brings us under a Neceffity of hoping and defiring against Nature; for Nature can never hope against it felf, nor contradict its own Defires. A Man who defires according to Nature, can never make it his Choice to be Nothing; nor make any thing his Choice which will force him to chufe being Nothing. Nothing but Guilt impofes this Neceffity upon us for a virtuous Man, and a fincere Penitent, may hope for another Life: And therefore we are under no more neceffity of rejecting thefe Hopes, than we are to be wicked, and to perfift in Wickednefs. Tho' it is natural to prefer not Being, before great and endless Miferies, yet it is unnatural to chufe not Being as a Remedy against being miferable, when we have a fure and eafy way to separate the Fears of Miferies from the Hopes of another Life. It is a Contradiction to Nature, to hope and defire to be Nothing; and therefore to disbelieve another World, is a very unnatural Cure for the Fears of it. Nature has prefcribed another Cure, and this contradicts the Hopes and Defires of Nature.
4. Infidelity alfo ferves a very unnatural End; for the whole Design of it is, that Men may live as they lift, and be as wicked as they please, without fear of Punishment. The Fears of another World disturb no body but bad Men; lay no Restraints, but only on our vicious Appetites, and infamous Pleasures; and therefore all that Infidelity is good for, is to give Men Security in Sin: A very excellent Defign, which Mankind and human Societies have great reafon to thank Infidels for.
If Wickedness be the Ornament, and Perfection, and Happiness of human Nature, its original Státe, and what it was made for, Infidelity does great Service to Mankind; for tho' Men made bold fometimes with the Fears of the other World, tho' they knew they should smart for it, yet this did greatly reftrain them, and fowre their Pleafures: But what a happy and glorious Crreature will Man be, when he may be as wicked as he will, without Fear? When they have removed the Fears of another World, there is but one thing wanting to fet Mankind at perfect Eafe and Liberty; to perfuade Princes to lay afide their Rods and Axes too, to repeal all their cruel and oppreffive Laws against the Liberties of human Nature, that Men may no more fear the Punishments of this World than of the next. And then let thofe fhare the World among them that like it; for my part I would get out of it as foon as I could.
Let us but compare a virtuous and a vicious Man together, and fee which of them best answers the Character of a reasonable Creature; which of them is the most defirable Friend and Companion, and the most useful Member of the Commonwealth : Let us compare Wisdom and Folly, Juftice and Rapine, Covetoufness and Liberality, Civility and Rudeness, and thus fet the feveral Virtues and
Vices against each other, and confider in which Neighbourhood we would chufe to live.
Let us confider the feveral Paffions and Inclinations of human Nature, and whether Virtue or Vice do best answer the Design of Nature in them. What is the meaning of that natural Pity and Compaffion which we feel for the Miseries of Mankind, a natural Sympathy both with the Joys and Sorrows of others? Is this a Difpofition to Cruelty, Unmercifulness, Injustice, Oppreffion, Self-Love, and a Difregard to the reft of Mankind? Or to Justice, Mercy, Kindness, Charity, Benevolence, and all the tender and obliging Virtues of Conversation? Does a natural Senfe of Modefty incline us to Wantonnefs, Intemperance, Rudeness, Infolence towards Superiors or Equals? Or does it teach us Temperance, Chastity, and all the Decencies of Converfation both in Words and Actions?
In a word, the natural Inclination to Society, which is an effential Property of a Man, to be Cov xor, a fociable Creature, is the principal of all thofe fociable Virtues which are neceffary to the Prefervation of human Societies, and to make them ufeful; which comprehends moft of the Virtues of human Life.
This proves that true Virtue is most agreeable to human Nature, its natural Ornament and Perfection, and the only fure Foundation of human Societies; and therefore Infidelity, which ferves no other End, but to corrupt human Nature, and to make Men fecurely wicked, must be as contrary to human Nature, as Vice is: For Nature is all of a piece, and therefore its fpeculative and practical Principles must agree; which is another Proof that Infidelity is a Contradiction to the Senfe and Belief of Nature, because it overturns all the Moral Principles of Nature,
5. Setting afide the Confideration of Virtue and Vice, what can be more unnatural than to part with the Hopes of Immortality, to live a free, eafy, and fecure Life for fome few Years in this World? And this is the beft, it is all that Infidelity can do, could it do all that it pretends to. If there be no Life after this, then we can enjoy nothing but in this World; and if Infidelity should do us no hurt hereafter, it is certain it can do us no good. Now will any Man fay, it is natural to chufe threescore or fourfcore Years of as great and perfect Happinefs as this World can give, inftead of Immortal Life? I confefs, the Generality of Mankind run the Venture of what they can get in this World, and of a miserable Eternity after it: But this is not the Question, what Men do, but what Nature teaches them to do, or what a wife Man, who follows the Dictates of Nature, would do, were fuch a Propofal made to him. And I am fure every Man who follows Nature, muft chufe immortal Life, before all the fhort and perishing Enjoyments of this World; that Nature muft be turned off of its Biafs by fome unnatural Force, before it can be contented to quit the Hopes of Immortality, for any temporal Advantages. And this is another Demonstration, that Infidelity, whatever present Advantages it propofes, is against Nature; for Nature can never prefer a temporal before an eternal Life. I appeal to Infidels themselves in this Cause, as much as they have ftifled the Senfe of Nature, and may venture to promife, never more to ufe this Argument, if they have Confidence enough to deny it.
The Sum of the whole Argument is this; That the Design Men propofe to themselves in denying a Future State, is a plain Contradiction to the Sense, Defires, Inclinations of Nature: And if Infidelity be against Nature, there can be no natural Evidence
for it. When we feek for the natural Proofs of Immortality, we must seek for them in our felves, in the natural or moral Conftitution of our own Natures; for the Heavens and the Earth cannot prove the Immortality of human Souls. And if all the moral Principles, Sentiments, and Inclinations of human Nature be against Infidelity, whether we can prove the Immortality of the Soul from the Principles of Nature, or not, it is certain they cannot prove the Soul to be mortal. And without confidering of their Arguments, it is a mighty Prejudice against them, that all they intend in rejecting the Belief of another World, is a direct Contradiction to Nature.
To conclude this Argument; let me only fhew you how Infidelity difappoints these Men in their Expectations, and is not able to do that for them which it promises, or which they vainly promise themselves from it. They think that if they can but get rid of another World, they fhall live in perfect Eafe and Security, and do what they please without being over-awed by the Superftitious Fears of Lakes of Fire and Brimstone, of Blackness of Darkness, the Worm that never dieth, and the Fire that never goeth out. And truly fo they would, if they could be perfect ftupid, unthinking Infidels. There may be fome fuch, for ought I know, at least for fome time, till fome frightful Providence awakens them; but could we perfuade the Men of Wit and Philofophy to fpeak the Truth, we fhould find a great many fearful and doubting Infidels among them. It is certain it muft be fo, because Men of Wit know, that they have no certain Proofs that there is not another World; and though they may think the Proofs of another World are not certain neither, yet this leaves them doubtful; and it is not the Evidence of Reason, but Intereft and Inclination, Defires and Hopes,