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But though this be not the original State of Mankind, as we may conclude it is not, since . we cannot attain our compleat and perfect Happiness in it ; yet fince our Souls are capable of living out of these Bodies, and of being more compieately and perfectly Happy in a separate State, than they are or can be in these 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 small Inducement to this B lief, to observe what a gradual Progress the Soul makes towards Perfection, while it lives in this Body: An inquisitive and virtuous Soul improves daily in Knowledge and Virtue. Tho' the Body decays, and all bodily Pleasures with it, Wisdoń and Counsel, 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 sensible 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 setting aside such Accidents as these, the Soul is continually improving it self. And can we think, that when it has attained the greatest Improvements and Perfections, that it can in this Body, it shall fall into nothing? Does not this rather look like a State of Trial and Probation for a more perfect Life?
5. Especially if we will allow that there is a World of Spirits, a World of Invisible and Immortal Beings; which none but profest Atheists deny. For if there be such a State, is it not reafonable to think that such divine Souls as have fitted and prepared themselves for the Conversation of unbodied Spirits, and have alt the Qualifications requisite to that State of Life, and where alone they can attain the true Happiness of their Natures, and perfect those Beginnings of Wisdom and Virtue, which they made in this World: I say, is it not much more reasonable to think that they should be translated to the State and Conversation of Immortal Spirits ; than with all their Attainments in Wisdom and Virtue, to perish in the Grave?
This is the first 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 should be Immortal, and live tho' the Body dies, seems very evident from the Nature of Human Happiness, that the Soul has a Happiness of its own, distinct from, and independent on the Body ; which proves a distinct Principle of Life too, which has no dependance on the Body, and therefore may subsist, and live, and act, when the Body dies. To be sure, a Soul, which has a distinct 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; since the Soul cannot attain its just Perfection and Happiness in this Body; which makes it reasonable to conclude, that there is some other State, wherein it shall attain the utmost Degrees of Perfection and Happiness it was made for: Especially when we observe, That Wise and Virtuous Souls are still pressing on to Perfection, and making greater and diviner Improvements, as long as they live in these Bodies; And then it is hard to think that they should perish with their Bodies, and die, when they are most 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 shall be translated after Death, and perfect themselves in the Enjoyments of God, and of holy and devout Souls.
To conclude this Argument; this gives a reasonable Account, what it is that stifles the Sense of Immortality in so many Men; they are wholly immers'd in Flesh and Sense, know no other Happiness, but Bodily Pleasures, and therefore do not feel that they have any Souls distinct from their Bodies, or that can live and be happy without them : And if they have no other Life or Pleasures, but those of the Body, the Death of the Body must neceffarily put an End to thein. And therefore the most effectual way to revive the Natural Sense 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 Pleasures of Souls: And then we shall feel all that I have said ; which will give it a Strength and Evidence beyond the mere Power of Reason and Discourse.
And it is no sinall Confirmation of all this, That the wiser and better Men are, the more they converse with their own Souls, and live upon spiritual and intellectual Pleasures, the more strong and vigorous Sense 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 Inmortality · they have no F 3
Happiness or Pleasures, but what result from, and depend on their Bodies : And therefore however God disposes of them after Death, as far as we can judge, they are not capable of any Life or Sensation, when they are separated 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 superior to it, may live when the Body dies: And we have all the Rea. fon in the World to believe, that this was the Design and Intention of its wise Maker.
The Immortality of the Soul proved from the
universal Consent of Mankind in this Belief,
Nother Natural and Moral Argument for
the Immortality of the Soul, is the univerfal Consent of Mankind in this Belief: Which is such an Argument as no Man needs be afham'd of, because the wiseft Men and the greateft Philofophers have in more Cafes than one, frequently used it, and laid very great Strefs upon it.
it. To explain and confirm this Argument, I shall do Three Things, First, shew you, that the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, has been the general Belief of Mankind. Secondly, That this general Consent of Mankind is the Voice of Nature. Thirdly, That the Voice of Nature is a natural Proof of Im. mortality.
As for the First; When I say that the Immortality of the Sout, and a Future State, has been the general Belief of Mankind, I do not thereby mean, that there never was an Atheist or an Infidel 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 profess not to believe it, and do all they can to persuade themselves and others not to believe it. Such Men there were in Tully's Days, and yet that great Philofopher thought the Consent of Mankind in this Belief universal enough to make it the Voice of Nature. Nor do I mean, that Men do so firmly affent to this Doctrine of Immortality, as to have no Doubts and Suspicions about it. But my only Meaning is this, That this was the general Persuafion of Mankind, which in all Ages prevailed in the World; which is fufficient to prove an Universal Confent. For some few Exceptions are no better Arguments against an universal Consent, than some few Monsters and Prodigies are against the regular Course of Nature. As will appear, if we compare these Two together ; which will shew us how natural the Belief, and how forced, violent, and artificial the Disbelief of Immorta licy is.
First then I observe, That this has been the Belief of all the Nations in the World, which we have a. ny competent Knowledge of. Thus Tully affures us of all the known Parts of the World in his Days. And though some lace Travellers pretend to have discovered some People fo barbarous, that they seem 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 most barbarous Indians, who might as soon be suspected of this, as any People in the World, are very far from it.