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tion, upon being applied to the feveral parts of the universe, explains, in the juftest and most elegant manner, the fituations, appearances, and influences of the heavenly bodies, and even accounts for all the feeming irregularity and eccentricity of their motions, we make no fcruple of allowing the existence and the operation of fuch a power: fo in the moral fyftem, when we fee that the admiffion of another life gives an easy folution of the most surprizing and otherwise unaccountable phenomena; and is, as it were, a master key, that unlocks every intricacy, and opens to us the great plan of Providence in the administration of human affairs; we can no longer, without doing violence to every rule of just reasoning, refuse our affent to the truth and reality of fuch a state.
From this collective view of those arguments for a future existence, which are the refult of our own researches on the fubject, it appears, that, when combined together, they form a very strong body of evidence in fupport of that great truth.
This evidence has, indeed, as I before obferved, been reprefented by fome to be fo forcible
forcible and decifive, as to render the aid of Revelation on this point totally unneceffary. But fo far is this from being the cafe, that the very clearness with which we are now enabled to deduce the reality of a future retribution from the principles of reafon, will itfelf lead us to a very convincing proof of the abfolute neceffity there was for fome fuperior light to inftruct and direct mankind," in this and other doctrines of the utmost importance to their prefent and future happi
It has been shown, that in every age and nation of the world, the belief of another life after this has been ftrongly and univerfally impreffed on the minds of the common people. It has been shown alfo, that befides these natural impreffions, we may, by a proper exertion of our reasoning powers, and by confidering the queftion attentively in various points of view, draw together a great number of strong prefumptive proofs in fupport of the fame important truth. From these premises one should naturally conclude, that all the great fages of antiquity, those wife, and venerable, and learned men, who cultivated
cultivated letters and philofophy with fo much reputation and fuccefs, who were the guides and luminaries, the instructors and legiflators of the Heathen world, would have been among the very firft to embrace the idea of a future retribution; to see more clearly, and feel more forcibly, than any others, the united testimony of nature and of reason in its behalf; to rectify the mistakes and refine the grofs conceptions of the vulgar concerning it; to clear away the rubbish with which the fictions of the poets, and the fuperftitions of the people, had clogged and corrupted the genuine fentiments of nature; and, by delivering, in their writings, a clear, confiftent, rational, methodical expofition of this great truth, to establish it for ever in the minds of men, and convert an article of popular belief into a fundamental tenet of the reigning philofophy. This, I fay, it was natural to expect from them; and had they done this, there might have been fome pretence for afferting that there was no need for any further light on this fubject. But what is the real state of the cafe? Look into the writings of the antient philofophers, refpecting a future retribution,
retribution, and (with few if any exceptions) you fee nothing but embarraffment, confufion, inconfiftence, and contradiction. In one page you will find them expatiating with apparent fatisfaction on the arguments then commonly produced for the immortality of the foul, and a state of recompence hereafter; answering the feveral objections to them with great acutenefs, illuftrating them with wonderful ingenuity and art, adorning them with all the charms of their eloquence, declaring their entire affent to them, and protesting that nothing fhould ever wreft from them this delightful perfuafion, the very joy and comfort of their fouls. In another page the scene is totally changed. They unfay almost every thing they had faid before. They doubt, they fluctuate, they defpond, they difbelieve. They laugh at the popu
Nefcio quomodo, dum lego, affentior; cum pofui librum & mecum ipfe de immortalitate animorum cæpi cogitare, affenfio omnis illa elabitur. Tufc. Quæft. l. i. c. 11. And again, Dubitans, circumfpectans, hæfitans, multa adverfa † revertens, tanquam ratis in mari immenso noftra vehitur Oratio. c. 30. A most lively picture of the fluctuation and uncertainty of their minds on this fubject.
lar notions of future punishments and rewards, but they fubftitute nothing more rational or fatisfactory in their room. Nay, what is ftill more extraordinary, although they all acknowledged, that the belief of a future life, and a future recompence, was an univerfal principle of nature; that it was what all mankind with one voice concurred and agreed in; yet, notwithstanding this, many of them feem even to have taken pains to ftifle this voice of nature within them and confidered it as a victory of the greatest importance, to fubdue and extinguish those notices of a future judgment, which, in despite of themselves, they found fpringing up within their own breafts *.
What now shall we fay to this remarkable fact, this fingular phenomenon in the hiftory of the human mind? Can there poffibly be a more striking proof that Philofophy, divine philofophy (as it is fometimes called) which is now frequently fet up as the rival of Revelation, was in general utterly unable to lead men to the acknowledgment of one of
* See Virgil, Georg. ii. v. 490. Lucretius, 1. i. v. 80. and 1. iii. v. 37; and Tufc. Quæft. 1. i. c. 21.