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our Souls fhould live after the Death of our Bodies: For if it be not impoffible, then it may be; and that is no Demonftration, which admits of a contrary may be. This is a very confiderable Difference between proving the Immortality and the Mortality of the Soul. To prove the Soul Immortal, we are not obliged to prove that it is impoffible the Soul fhould ever die, or fall into a State of perfect Infenfibility; but only that there are very great Reafons to believe that it fhall not. Plato acknowledged even of his inferior Immortal Gods, that they owed their Immortality to the Will and Pleasure of the Supreme God: For whatever was created out of nothing, may be reduced to nothing again:. And we must own more efpecially, that this is the State of embodied Spirits. But thofe who under-. take to demonftrate that the Soul is Mortal, muft demonstrate not only against the Nature of the Soul, but against the Will and the Power of God, (if they own any fuch Being:) That God neither can, nor will preferve Human Souls Immortal. Nothing is impoffible, which is not impoffible to God; and then we can prove nothing impoffible, which does not imply a manifeft Contradiction and I fuppofe no Man will fay, that the Immortality of the Soul implies a Contradiction.
4. Having feen what kind of Evidence thefe Men ought to produce against the Immortality. of the Soul, and a future State; let us now confider what kind of Evidence they have, and whether it amount as it ought to do, to ftrict Demonftration.
Now, I obferve, that thefe Men never pretend to any Moral, but only Natural Arguments: They plainly enough acknowledge that all Moral Arguments are against them; fuch as the difference between Good and Evil; the Nature of Rewards and Punishments; the Juftice and Providence of God in governing
governing the World: Nay they reject fome of the beft Natural Arguments, fuch as the Natural Belief and Perfuafion of Immortality, which is common to all Mankind; and all Natural Hopes and Fears; which may be called either Natural or Moral Arguments, as being implanted in a Moral Nature.
But the chief Arguments which they place their greatest Confidence in, are purely Natural, which relate to the Philofophy of Soul and Body; and this will fatisfy any Man, who understands never fo little of the Philofophy of Nature, how short fuch Arguments as thefe muft fall of Demonftration. What variety of Opinions are there among the ancient Philofophers, about the Nature of the Soul? And how zealous foever they were for their own Hypothesis, none of them ever pretended to Demonftration. The Philofophy of Nature is a great Secret, and we can know no more of it, than what Obfervation and Experiment teaches; which cannot certainly inform us in the Nature and Causes of Things. There may be high Degrees of Probability in fome Hypothefes, above others; but our Knowledge of Nature, at beft, is very imperfect, and far from Demonftration: And is not he a wife Man who will venture his Soul upon his understanding the Philofophy of a Human Soul?
5. This will ftill be more evident, if we confider what thofe Natural Arguments are, whereby they prove the Mortality of the Soul: Which may be reduced to two; its Corporeity; and its perfect Dependance on the Body in all its Actings. And a few Words will fhew you how far thefe are from Demonftrations.
1. That the Soul is Corporeal, or mere Matter, and therefore muft die with the Body, and cannot live in Separation from it.
As for this Opinion of the Corporeity of the Soul, I may confider it more hereafter; but tho' we
fhould fuppofe the Soul to be mere Matter, the Confequence is very far from a Demonftration, That therefore it muft die with the Body. Those Philofophers indeed, who made the Soul nothing but the Crafis and harmonious Temperament of the Body, not any distinct Being of it self, but to refult as Health does, from the due and equal Compofition of the whole, had reason to say, that the Soul must be diffolved together with the Body; for when the Compofition is diffolved, the Soul, which owes its Being to that Compofition, muft diffolve with it. But this was fo abfurd and fenfelefs an Opinion, that both Epicurus and Lucretius rejected it; and afferted the Soul, though material, yet to be diftinct from the reft of the Body, and compounded of a peculiar and finer Sort of Atoms. Now though the Soul were Matter, but diftinct from the Body, and of a different Sort of Matter from the reft of the Body, why may it not furvive the Body? Why may not Human Souls be as Immortal and Incorruptible as the Epicurean Gods, which are as mere Matter as Human Souls? And Ariftotle himself thought that there was incorruptible Matter; for fuch he made the Heavens, and Heavenly Bodies. However, no Man, who believes there is a God, can doubt, whether the Soul be Body or Spirit, but that God can make it Immortal, if he pleases. It is more reasonable to think, that an Immortal Soul has nothing Mortal or Corruptible in its Conftitution, and therefore is not Matter but Spirit. But all Philofophers grant, that Matter it felf, though it is variously changed and transformed, does not perish. And tho' all material Compofitions may be diffolved, as Spirits themselves may be annihilated by that Power that made them, yet no confidering Man will pretend to demonftrate, that God
cannot make a material Soul of fuch a firm Conftitution, as to be naturally Immortal. And therefore though we should grant the Soul to be Corporeal, this does not prove that it is neceffarily Mortal, and muft die with the Body.
2. The fecond Argument to prove the Soul Mortal, is its dependance upon the Body in all its Actings; which proves that it cannot fubfift and act separately from the Body, and confequently that it must die, or fall into a State of Infenfibility with it. Lucretius branches this into about twenty Arguments which are fo many Inftances of the Soul's dependance on the Body; fome of which are very Childish and Abfurd, as well as Unphilofophical; and none of them prove the main Conclufion which he aims at; as I may have occafion to fhew hereafter.
If the Soul and Body are vitally united, whether the Soul be Matter or Spirit, there must be a most near and intimate Sympathy between them; the Soul must feel all the Impreffions of the Body; muft rejoice and fuffer with it; its Senfes muft be lock'd up with Sleep; its Understanding must increafe and decay with Bodily Organs, which in this State of Union are the Inftruments of Action: But this does not prove that the Soul is Corporeal; for thus it muft be, though the Soul were Spirit, if it be vitally united to Matter; for there can be no Vital Union without it. And it is very abfurd to conclude from the dependance of the Soul on the Body in a State of Union, that therefore it can never fubfist nor act without its Body, but must live and die with it; when it is demonftrable, that tho' the Soul be Immortal, and can live and act in a separate State from the Body, yet there must be this mutual Sympathy and Dependance of Soul and Body in a State of Union: And nothing can prove the
the Soul to be Corporeal and Mortal, which in the fame State would be the very fame in an Immaterial and Immortal Soul. This may fuffice to fhew you, that the Infidel has no pofitive Evidence, no fair Probabilities, much lefs Demonftration, for the Mortality of the Soul: And when there is no Proof that the Soul is mortal, much lefs Evidence will ferve to perfuade us of its Immortality; though we want not Arguments of all forts.
The first natural Argument for Immortality, from the Nature of the Soul.
ET us now confider the Natural and Moral Arguments for a Future State, or that our Souls fhall live after Death: That what we call Death, does not extinguifh the Soul, but is only a Separation of Soul and Body; that the Body returns unto Duft, and the Spirit returns unto God who gave it.
Thefe Arguments are very well known to all who have ever confidered this Matter; and may be reduced to four Heads. 1. From the Nature of the Soul. 2. From the Univerfal Confent of Mankind in this Belief. 3. From the natural Defire of Immortality. And 4. From the Juftice and Providence of God. And I fhall diftinctly, but briefly confider, what the true Force of each of these Arguments is.
1. First then, we argue from the Nature of human Souls, That they are Immortal, and can and fhall live in a separate State after the Death of the Body. There are feveral Arguments of this Nature; the firft is purely Phyfical and Philofophical; the reft are of a mix'd Nature, both Natural and Moral. 1. From