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However, 2dly, This is acknowledged on all Hands, That the Belief of the Soul's Immortali tity, is as Univerfal as the Belief of a God, or any religious Worship. The very Idolatries of the Pagan World prove this beyond Difpute; for their Country Gods were no other than dead Men and Women, Confecrated by the Superftition of the People, and Worfhipped with Divine Honours and Religious Ceremonies. And thofe who made Gods of dead Men, and prayed, and offered Sacrifices to them, and expected to be bleffed and protected by them, muft believe that they lived after Death; which they could not do without the general Belief of the Immortality of the Soul.
3. I obferve farther, That the common People, who were no Philofophers, and never pretended to reafon about fuch Matters, did yet most firmly believe this. The Atheistick Philofophers could make very few Profelytes among them. Nature was too powerful for all their Sophiftry; for Men felt fomething within them, which convinced them of their own Immortality, though they could not Reafon or difpute about it. Which fhews that it is moft natural to Mankind to believe a Future State, but requires great Art and Industry to be an Infidel. Which makes it reasonable to think, that if ever there were fuch a People in the World, as never heard of God or another Life, it would be very eafy to teach them both. For unprejudiced Nature will eafily recover the Impreffions of Religion, if it find a wife Inftructor.
4. I obferve farther, That there was no Sect of the Philofophers, except the Epicureans, that denied the Immortality of the Soul; and they also denied a God, and a Providence; fuch a God as is the wife and powerful Maker and Governor of the World. There was fome difference among the other Philofophers, about the Nature of a Fu
ture State; but they all agreed in this, That the Soul did live after Death. So that we have not only the Confent of the Multitude in this Belief, but of all the wifeft Men in the World, who examined the Reasons and Probabilities of Things, and understood the Senfe and Inclination of Nature. And none but a profefs'd Atheist, think the Authority of Epicurus and his School, fufficient to balance all the other Sects of Philofophers.
5. It will add no fmall Strength to this Argument, to confider, That the better Men were, the more firmly they believed a Future State, Piety and Virtue even in the Heathen World, raised Men into the more certain Expectations of a happy Life hereafter; as is evident from Socrates, Plato, and Tully, And this Tully thought a good Argument of the Sense of Nature; Specimen Natura capi debet ex optimâ quâque Natura. It is most reasonable to learn what Nature is, from the most perfect Pattern of Nature. Will you draw a Picture of Human Nature from Nero and Caligula, and fuch degenerate Monsters, who retain❜d nothing of a Man but the external Figure; or from the great Examples of Wisdom, Prudence, Fortitude, Juftice, Temperance, and all other Virtues? The firft only fhews the Corruption and Degeneracy of Human Nature; but in the other we fee the Beauties and Perfections of it; and therefore from them also we may best learn what the Belief and Hopes of Nature are. I am very confident, there cannot one Inftance be given, from the Beginning of the World to this Day, of any one truly virtuous Man, who did not believe another Life; and the more firmly believe it, the more yirtuous he was. Though Socrates, as he affected to do in all other Matters, fpake doubtfully of Future State, yet no Man can reasonably question whether
whether he did heartily believe it, when he ventured to die for his Faith; for which he could expect no Reward from God, but in another World. And though wife and virtuous Men, by the mere Light of Reafon and Philosophy, could not attain fuch a full Perfuafion as excluded all Doubt, because their Arguments had not a demonftrative Certainty; yet the ftrong Senfe and Impreffions of Nature, and the high Probabilities of Reason, confirmed and ftrengthened by thofe Natural Hopes and Expectations of a Reward, created fuch a firm Belief in them, as prevailed over all their Doubts and Jealoufies. And this is fufficient to my prefent Argument. For though this be not a Demonstrative, yet it is the highest Moral Evidence we can have. This, I think, it certainly proves, That Infidelity is not owing to Nature, but to fome unnatural Biafs and Inclination; when not only untaught and unpolished Nature, but the moft perfect, the moft refined, the best improved and cultivated Nature, inftructs Men in the Belief of a God, and of another World. And if this be true, then the Infidelity of those who have corrupted their Natures, and are fo funk into Flesh and Senfe, as to stifle all Natural Impreffions; and to Hope, and Fear, and Understand, just as Brutes do, whofe Happiness alone they affect and imitate; is no Objection against the general Confent of Mankind in this Belief. Nay, 'tis a mighty Ar gument how ftrong the Senfe of Nature is, that fo many Thousands, who by their wicked Lives, have made it their Interest and Choice, that there fhould be no other Life, yet are not able to deliver themselves from thefe Fears, but ftill believe and tremble, as Devils and damned Spirits do.
2. The Univerfal Confent of Mankind in the Belief of the Immortality of the Soul, is nothing lefs than the Voice and Senfe of Nature. For it
is unaccountable how all Mankind fhould agree this Belief, unless the fame Nature which is common to them all, teach this to them all. It is certain all Mankind, all the Nations of the World, never met together in a general Council to agree this Matter, Whether the Soul be Immortal, or not: And therefore this Belief is not Matter of Compact and Agreement. And if it had been fo, it had been a very venerable Authority; unlefs we can think that all Mankind could agree to cheat themselves and all their Pofterity, with fuch falfe and groundless Hopes.
Now fetting afide this, I can think but of Two poffible Reasons for fuch a general Confent. First, the Senfe of Nature improved and awakened by Reafon and Difcourfe. For the fame Nature has the fame natural Impreffions, and therefore will teach or incline them all to believe the fame Thing. Or, 2. That this is owing to an univerfal Tradition, from the Beginning of the World, which in all Ages had been handed down from Father to Son. But the Suppofition of this, which we are willing to own, will do the Infidel no Service, nor us any Harm.
For, 1. Such an univerfal Tradition muft fup pofe that all Mankind defcended from the fame common Stock; as the Hiftory of Mofes affures us they did: That Adam was the Father of us all : And that gives fome Authority to the Truth of the Mofaical Hiftory. For if all Mankind had not the fame Original, how fhould one and the fame Tradition be propagated all over the World; efpecially as to thofe Nations which for many Ages never converfed with any other Part of the World; and therefore could not know what the Opinion of the reft of Mankind was, concerning the Immortality of the Soul, unless they had carried that Tra
dition with them into thofe remote Countries, when they first parted?
And, 2. If this were a Traditional Doctrine from the Beginning of the World, That the Soul was Immortal, there is great Reason to believe it; for then it must be the Belief of our firft Parents,' who taught this Doctrine to their Children; and that is Proof enough that it is owing either to Nature or to Revelation: For the firft Man could not have it by Tradition: For if neither Nature taught this, nor God revealed it, how came our firft Parents to inftruct their Pofterity in it; and that with fuch Care, that the Tradition fhould never be loft? And yet,
3. It is impoffible to imagine, That, were not this Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul founded in the Senfe of Nature, it should have been fo univerfally preferved in all the Difperfions of Mankind, through fo many fucceffive Generations. There is no doubt that many Thoufand Traditions fince the beginning of the World, and the Difperfion of Mankind, have been utterly loft; and had not Nature fecured this Tradition, it would have been as eafily loft as any. For if we may guess at other Ages by our own, there have always been enow in the World, who would have been very glad to lofe it. Nay, befides this, when Mankind have loft the very Memory of any fuch Tradition, and therefore fuch an ancient Tradition, if there were any fuch, has loft its Authority, how come all Men ftill to agree in it, and to believe it fo firmly, as never to part with it, truly the Senfe of Nature?
if it were not