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scious of to ourselves, such as liberty, or a power of chusing or refusing, and the several acts of reason and understanding, cannot without great violence be ascribed to matter, or be resolved into any bodily principle; and therefore we must attribute them to another principle different from matter ; and consequently the soul is immortal, and incapable of corruption, in its own nature. Besides, when all men, tho' distant and remote from one another, and different in their tempers and manners, and ways of education, when the most barbarous nations, as well as the most polite, agree in a thing, we may well call it the voice of nature, or a natural notion or dictate of our minds : But it is evident from the testimony of many ancient heathen writers, and the consent of several credible histories, that they believed that men and women do live after death, and have an existence when separated from their bodies ; and consequently that the soul is immortal. It is true, that some few instances may be brought where some have denied this ; but their opposition is no proof that this notion is not natural : 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; because men may offer violence to nature, and debauch their understandings by lust, interest, or pride, and an affectation of singularity. Moreover,
The sense of nature is very evident from the great number of wicked men in the world; who, notwithstanding it is their interest that there should be no life after this, cannot overcome the fears of those torments, in which the wicked are threatened to be punished for ever. Again, this truth is confirmed by those natural notions we have of God, and of the real difference between good and evil; for the belief of a God implies the belief of his infinite goodness and justice. The first, or his goodness, inclines him to make some creatures more perfect than others, and capable of greater degrees of happiness, and of longer duration ; because goodness delights in communicating its own perfections : And fince in man are found the perfections of an immortal nature, which are knowledge and liberty, we may infer, that he is endowed with such a principle as in its own nature is capable of eternal life. The latter, or his infinite justice, proves, that he loves righteousness, and hates iniquity : But the dispensations of his providence in this world being very promiscuous, so that good men often fuffer, and that for the sake of righteousness; and wicked men frequently profper, and that by means of their wickedness; it is reasonable to believe the suitable distribution of rewards and punishments in a future state ; because, as there is a difference between good and evil founded in the nature of things, it is reasonable to imagine they will be distinguished by rewards and punishments, not in this world, but in a future state, where all things shall be set right, and the justice of God's providence vindicated; which is the very thing meant by the immortality of the soul. And,
Lastly, The natural hopes and fears of men cannot well be accounted for without the belief of the foul's immortality: such hopes and fears are common to all men. For what would it avail to be desirous to perpetuate a name to posterity, and by brave actions endeavour to purchase fame, if there was not a belief of an existence in another world to enjoy it? Or, can it be thought that they, who by the virtue and piety of their lives, by the justice and honesty of their actions, have endeavoured to seek the Lord, have not been raised to an expectation of rewards after death? Again, how can any one account for that shame and horror, which follow the commission of any wicked action, though covered with the greatest privacy, and unknown to any but the offender? Certainly it can be only the effect of nature, which suggests to them the certainty of an after- reckoning, when they shall be punished for their bad actions, or rewarded for their good; and so fills the one full of hopes, and the other with fear and dread *.
These are such arguments as, in reason, the nature of the thing will bear ; for an immortal nature is neither capable of the evidence of sense, nor of mathematical demonstration; and therefore we should content ourselves with these arguments in this matter, so far as to suffer ourselves to be
• See the Reasonableness of a laft Judgment in Sunday 4, Sidl. vii,
perfuaded, that it is highly probable. But that which giveth us the greatest assurance of it, is the revelation By feripof the gospel, whereby life and immortality are sure. brought to light; and which is the only fure foundation of our hopes, and an anchor for our faith : because the authority of God is above all reafon and human knowledge. The resurrection of Christ is not only a manifeft proof of his divine authority, and that he was a prophet fent from God; but also that we thall rise again to be reunited with our souls, and therefore should make us prefer the interest of our souls before all the advantages of this life; nay, it should make us ready and willing to part with every thing that is most dear to us in this world, to secure their eternal welfare; because, if we loseourown souls, all the enjoyments of this world can make us no recompence. For, notwithstanding the fall of our first parents has made us all subject to death, yet our souls, when separated from our bodies, Thall live in another state; andeven our bodies, tho'committed to the grave, and turned to dust, shall, at the last day, rise again, and be reunited to our souls; and being founited, the wholeman, body and soul, shall be made capable of eternal happiness or misery. And,
II. Since this is the case with all of us, how inconsiderately do men act in spending so much thought about
Of the body. the body, which is the seat of pains and the most noisome diseases, whilst it is alive; and which death (which it cannot escape) renders fo intolerably offensive andodious, that it must be buried out of our sight! To spend allour time and care about this vile part, the body, and to neglect the most valuable part, the soul, which is of inestimable worth, on accountof its noble faculties, and as it is made after God's own image, and is to exist to all eternity, certainly argues the greatest degree of imprudence and stupidity. And therefore our greatest kindness for our body is to take care of our soul. Consider whether we are able tolive in the midst of everlasting fire! If the burn of a finger, or a smal} spark of fire be so intolerable to the least part of the body, Who canendure the fire that shall never be quenched; and whose torments after thousands and millions of years are no neareranend than they were at the first moment they began? Yet, this is the woeful
and certain end of everyone that neglects the care of his own foul. Not that I would be understood to intend, that we muft neglect our bodies: but that, which promotes the interest of our souls, must be preferred before
any interest of the body, which cannot live without the soul. For
Every presentenjoyment, beitever socomfortable, may be Which has lost; and riches, whatever advantage they give us,
may make themselves wings, and fly away. How kappiness.
many are reduced in a few hours from plentifulcircumstances toextreme necessity by fire or water? Besides, if people do imagine themselves secure in an inheritance, a small observation of human life may shew, that this cannot absolutely be depended upon ; for fraud and violence may turn aman out of his fortuneorestate. And where is the person that can depend upon a continued state of health? The moit confirmed constitution is not proof against the affaults of pain or fickness; for every member of the body, every bone, joint and finew, lies open to many disorders ; and the greateitprudence or precaution, or skill of the physician cannot many times prevent those disorders from coming upon us, much less ascertain to us health, which is the greatest of our outward enjoyments. Again,. we often see the highest honours exchanged for the lowest abasements and contempt: fo the rich man is frequently reduced to poverty; the healthy man laid upon a bed of languishing; and all the pleafures the finner can receive from the most careful gratification of his sensual appetites are but of the very same kind with those that brute beasts are capableof as well as he; only with this difference, that their enjoyments aremore affecting, and less allayed with bitterness, than his are. But besides, they have far more uneafiness and trouble in them than of delight and satisfaction. The covetous, the proud, the envious, the glutton, the drunkard, the whoremonger, the ambitious, the revengeful, can testify out of their own fad experience, that, when they have summed up the matter, the contentment, which they receive from the gratification of these several passions or appetites, doth no ways countervail the pains and restlessness, the disturbances and disappointments, and the manifold evil consequences both as to their bodies and souls, and good names, and estates, which they suffer upon the account of them. Whence we may cry out with the preacher, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, which does not tend to the care of the immortal soul. For the boa dy itself, to which alone such gratifications are suit
Is always ed, is ever tending towards the dust, and will soon tending to be stripped of all sensation of all worldly things, corruption. and intirely lose the relish of those things that once had been most agreeable to it. And yet no man is exempt from this debt: we must all go down to the silent grave, and can care ry none of those things along with us; and all our pleasures and ease, if they should happen to last so long, must then have their end. Whereas,
III. On the other hand, that, which serves the interest of our souls, is more lasting, and is never taken from
How the us, whose state hereafter will be determined by our j ate of the behaviour in this life; heaven or hell, happiness or soul is determisery, will be our final portion; just as death mined. finds us: as soon as death strikes, we either are in torments, or go to paradise; either become the companions of devils or the associates of holy angels, so to remain to all eternity; and therefore our greatest care should be to avoid the one and to obtain the other. We are often determined in the affairs of this life by the hope and fear of things to come; as
Motives for all our pursuits, and most of our actions, are for the taking care sake of something future, and not yet in sight; that of the foul. is, either to prevent some evil feared, or to obtain some good defired; for, in the beginning of life, people apply themselves to become masters of some profession or trade, or business, in hopes of a livelihood, or of serviceableness, when they arrive at riper years, though they are not sure they shall ever live to be masters of what they labour after, nor certain of success in the most prudent steps they can take to accomplish the end of their worldly expectations, of which we have far less certainty than of an immortal state. Shall it then be said that we shall be less diligent in the care of our souls, whose affairs are not so uncertain ? For tho' we therein act upon a future prospect ; yet divine promise ascertains us of success in the way of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, tho'