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monstrations, when Men are willing and desirous to believe; and therefore no Man can reject them, without an obftinate Aversion to believing.
I grant, a wife Man will take care not to believe too fast, nor to be too easily impos'd on by Interest and Inclinations; but he is never averse to believing what is greatly for his Interest to be true. And therefore Infidelity, when there are probable Reasons of Faith, is not PrudenceandCaution in believing, as Infidels would have the World think, and value themselves very much upon it, when they are unwilling and afraid that there should 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 side ; 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 sure all Mankind oughtto abhorthen, for wishing them all to be Mortal, which is the greatest Aversion of Nature. Let them wish and hope for themselves, and keep their Wishes to themselves; and I will not deny but they may have very good Reason on their fide; for it may be the best thing they can wish for: But to delire and hope that all Mankind shall perish in the Grave, as well as themselves, is a profess’d Enmity to Human Nature; and they ought to be treated with that Scorn and Contempt, which such unnatural Desires, such a contemptible Opinion as they have of themselves, and such an Injury done to Hu: man Nature deserves. It is no faulty Credulity to believe that to be probable, which has probable Reaions for it; and when it is our highest Interest that it
should be true, to hope more strongly than our Reafons are to believe it; especially, when if we be miftaken in our Faith and Hope, it is a very honourable Mistake, and such a Miftake as a wife Man would rather chuse, than to know the Truth ; and what no Man shall ever laugh at us for. Tully was not alham’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 desired to live and die with it: For it is a pleasant Delusion, 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 pleasantly, That if he were miItaken in this, however he had this Satisfaction, that they should never laugh at him for this Mistake. Those laugh too soon at the Belief of another Life, who begin to laugh in this World; and if they stay till Death decides the Controversy, 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 sides. To believe as the Generality of Mankind believe and hope, can never be a Reproach ; because Atheists and Infidel's 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 desire and hope that there should be no other Life, whether it be true or false, will always be infamous; for it is to desire what human Nature abhors, nay, what the meanest and most contemptible Creature would abhor, : were it capable of such a Thought. One would think this might shame the Infidel, and make him a little more modeft, and less 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 impossible for an Infidel to clear himself from this Inputation, 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 Reason; and Men who do not believe by Reason, must believe by Inclination; and a very scandalous Inclination this is, to be inclined to Eternal Death and Nothingness.
3. There is this Advantage also in it, That if by these Natural and Moral Arguments we can convince Men that it is highly probable there is a Future State, this will greatly dispose them to the Belif of the Gospel Revelation, which contains the express Promises of eternal Life. The Gospel Revelation carries such Evidence with it, as nothing but obftinate Prejudices and corrupt Interests can resist; and when these are removed, it must 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 wise Man, must live as if there were a Future State; and this reinoves the Byass of Interest and corrupt Affections, which, I doubt, is the greatest Prejudice of all against the Belief of another World. It is universally acknowledged, that if there be another Life, good Men shall 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 sin with Fear and Shame, as those 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 there
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 sufficient 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 consider'd as a Prejudice against believing, they are much the same ; 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 shall be damned. Nay, when Men are convinc'd of the Probability of a Future State, they naturally desire to know the Certainty of it, if it be to be known. Probabilities are very uneasy, they are sufficient to make us fear; but we desire better Evidence and Security for our Hopes; and this disposes Men tó an impartial Enquiry into the Reasons of the Christian Hope.
And when Men are convinc'd of the great Probability of a Future State, this makes such a Revelation very credible; for nothing can be incredible, which is probable. And when Nature has furnished us with such probable Arguments of a Future State, which we may suppose were sufficient to create a Belief in the more innocent Ages of the World, it seems very becoming the Divine Goodness to give us a more sensible and unquestionable Proof of it, when the Degeneracy of Mankind, and the eternal Disputes of Philosophers, 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 spoil the Triumphs of Infidelity, and dispose Men to receive the Gospel. And here we ought to stop, if we will dispute to any certain Advantage. We may spoil good Arguments by pretending to prove too much by them; which has been a common Miscarriage in our present Dispute. The certain Proofs of Immortality must be fetch'd from the Gospel, and those 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 Christ, for more perfect Instruction.
Concerning the Natural and Moral
Arguments of a Future State. I
Shall begin with the Natural and Moral Ar
guments of a Future State: But must desire you to remember what I have so largely discoursed, That I do not alledge them as strict Demonstrations, or direct and positive Proofs, which exclude all Sufpicion or Polîbility of the Things being otherwise; but only as such high Probabilities, as are next in Degree to direct and positive Proofs. And therefore it will be no Ohjection against any thing I shall say, though you could prove, that these Arguments do not give us an absolute Certainty ; unless you can prove, that they are not so much as probable, or not fo probable, that they ought to move a wife Man. For in a Question of such vaft Concernment as this is, and when we must chuse one fide; if there be not so much as the least Probability on one side of the Question, and very great Pro3