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But though this be not the original State of Mankind, as we may conclude it is not, fince we cannot attain our compleat and perfect Happinefs in it; yet fince our Souls are capable of living out of thefe Bodies, and of being more compleately and perfectly Happy in a feparate State, than they are or can be in thefe Bodies, it is a good Argument to believe that there is a future State, wherein devout and pious Souls shall be more compleatly Happy.
4. And it is no fmall Inducement to this Belief, to obferve what a gradual Progrefs the Soul makes towards Perfection, while it lives in this Body: An inquifitive and virtuous Soul improves daily in Knowledge and Virtue. Tho' the Body decays, and all bodily Pleasures with it, Wisdom and Counfel, Piety and Devotion, a steddy and inflexible Virtue, is the Glory of Age. Sometimes indeed the Infirmities of Age affect the Mind, deftroy the Memory, wipe out all the fenfible Marks and Characters of things; but this no 'more argues any decay of the Soul, than the Distractions of a Fever, or the fealing up of our Senfes with Sleep: This cannot be avoided, while the Soul is vitally united to this Body. But fetting afide fuch Accidents as thefe, the Soul is continually improving it felf. And can we think, that when it has attained the greateft Improvements and Perfections, that it can in this Body, it fhall fall into nothing? Does not this rather look like a State of Trial and Probation for a more perfect Life?
5. Efpecially if we will allow that there is a World of Spirits, a World of Invifible and Immortal Beings; which none but profeft Atheifts deny. For if there be fuch a State, is it not reafonable to think that fuch divine Souls as have fitted and prepared themfelves for the
Conversation of unbodied Spirits, and have all the Qualifications requifite to that State of Life, and where alone they can attain the true Happiness of their Natures, and perfect thofe Beginnings of Wisdom and Virtue, which they made in this World: I fay, is it not much more reafonable to think that they should be tranflated to the State and Converfation of Immortal Spirits; than with all their Attainments in Wifdom and Virtue, to perish in the Grave?
This is the firft Natural and Moral Argument (for it is a mixture of both) for the Immortality of the Soul; taken from the Nature of Human Souls, That they are Immaterial, and therefore by Nature Incorruptible, and therefore Immortal, if God so pleases.
That this is the Will and Pleasure of God, That Human Souls fhould be Immortal, and live tho' the Body dies, feems very evident from the Nature of Human Happinefs, that the Soul has a Happiness of its own, diftinct from, and independent on the Body; which proves a distinct Principle of Life too, which has no dependance on the Body, and therefore may fubfift, and live, and act, when the Body dies. To be fure, a Soul, which has a diftinct Happiness of its own, is capable of living, and being happy out of the Body: And we have reason to think it will be fo; fince the Soul cannot attain its juft Perfection and Happiness in this Body; which makes it reafonable to conclude, that there is fome other State, wherein it fhall attain the utmost Degrees of Perfection and Happiness it was made for: Efpecially when we obferve, That Wife and Virtuous Souls are ftill preffing on to Perfection, and making greater and diviner Improvements, as long as they live in thefe Bodies: And then it is hard to think that they should perish with their Bodies,
and die, when they are moft fit to live, as having attained the most perfect Degrees of a rational and divine Life. Which makes it reasonable to conclude, That there is a World of Spirits, whither the Souls of good Men fhall be tranflated after Death, and perfect themselves in the Enjoyments of God, and of holy and devout Souls.
To conclude this Argument; this gives a reafonable Account, what it is that ftifles the Sense of Immortality in fo many Men; they are wholly immers'd in Flesh and Senfe, know no other Hap piness, but Bodily Pleasures, and therefore do not feel that they have any Souls diftinct from their Bodies, or that can live and be happy without them: And if they have no other Life or Pleafures, but those of the Body, the Death of the Body must neceffarily put an End to them. And therefore the most effectual way to revive the Natural Senfe of Immortality in us, is to keep up the Distinction between Soul and Body, to adorn and cultivate our Minds with Knowledge, Piety, and Virtue; to relish those divine Pleasures, which are the genuine and natural Pleafures of Souls: And then we fhall feel all that I have faid; which will give it a Strength and Evidence beyond the mere Power of Reafon and Difcourfe.
And it is no finall Confirmation of all this, That the wifer and better Men are, the more they converse with their own Souls, and live upon fpiritual and intellectual Pleasures, the more ftrong and vigorous Senfe they have of their own Immortality: For they feel themselves to be something more Divine than Matter, and to have Pleasures which are Divine and Immortal.
And this is an abundant Answer to that Objection from the Mortality of Brutal Souls. For tho❜ we allow them to be Immaterial, they have no Natural Indications of Immortality; they have ne
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Happiness or Pleafures, but what result from, and depend on their Bodies: And therefore however God difpofes of them after Death, as far as we can judge, they are not capable of any Life or Senfation, when they are feparated from this Body. But an Immaterial Soul, which cannot die as the Body does, and has a Principle of Life and Happiness independent on the Body, and fuperior to it, may live when the Body dies: And we have all the Reafon in the World to believe, that this was the Defign and Intention of its wife Maker.
The Immortality of the Soul proved from the univerfal Confent of Mankind in this Belief.
Nother Natural and Moral Argument for the Immortality of the Soul, is the univerfal Confent of Mankind in this Belief: Which is fuch an Argument as no Man needs be afham'd of, because the wifeft Men and the greateft Philofophers have in more Cafes than one, frequently ufed it, and laid very great Strefs upon it. To explain and confirm this Argument, I fhall do Three Things. Firft, fhew you, that the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, has been the general Belief of Mankind. Secondly, That this general Confent of Mankind is the Voice of Nature. Thirdly, That the Voice of Nature is a natural Proof of Immortality.
As for the Firft; When I fay that the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, has been the general Belief of Mankind, I do not thereby mean, that there never was an Atheift or an In
fidel in the World. Were this the Cafe, there would be no need to prove the Soul to be Immortal. But our own Age furnishes us with too many Examples, of those who do not believe another Life after this, or at least do profefs not to believe it, and do all they can to perfuade themselves and others not to believe it. Such Men there were in Tully's Days, and yet that great Philofopher thought the Confent of Mankind in this Belief univerfal enough to make it the Voice of Nature. Nor do I mean, that Men do fo firmly affent to this Doctrine of Immortality, as to have no Doubts and Sufpicions about it. But my only Meaning is this, That this was the general perfuafion of Mankind, which in all Ages prevailed in the World; which is fufficient to prove an Univerfal Confent. For fome few Exceptions are no better Arguments against an univerfal Confent, than fome few Monsters and Prodigies are against the regular Courfe of Nature. As will appear, if we compare these Two together; which will fhew us how natural the Belief, and how forced, violent, and artificial the Difbelief of Immortality
First then I obferve, That this has been the Belief of all the Nations in the World, which we have any competent Knowledge of. Thus Tully affures us of all the known Parts of the World in his Days. And though fome late Travellers pretend to have discovered fome People fo barbarous, that they feem to have no Notion of God, or Religion, or a Future State; yet others, who have lived longer in those Parts, and made better Obfervations, affirm the contrary. And it is certain, the moft barbarous Indians, who might as foon be fufpected of this, as any People in the World, are very far from it.