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Creatures as imitate, and obey him, and be dis. pleased with such as act contrary, thereto. And without punishing those who presumptuously and impenitently break his Commandments, it cannot be imagined how the Honour of his Laws can be vjudicated and maintained.
Q. What further Evidence and Assurance had the Jews, concerning the Immortality of the Soul, and a future State ?!
94. They had not only the Evidence of Reason in this Matter, which was common to them with the Rest of Mankind; but all the Arguments from natural Light received a new Confirmation from the Mosaical Dispensations. The Account Moses gave of the Creation of Man, assured the Jews of the dixine Original of the Soul, that it was not made of Matter, of the Dust of the Earth, as the Body was, but by the Breath of God. That it had a near Resemblance to the divine Nature in Purity and Spirituality, being made after the Image of God; which is a more express Proof of its spiritual and immortal Nature, than the Deductions made from Reason. They had the best Evidence of universal Consent, from the constant Faith and Tradition of their Fathers; and they were able to trace this Opinion of the Soul's Immortality from Abraham to Adam, the first Man, from whom it descended to their Progenitors. They bad evident Instances of the Wisdom and Justice of God's Providence in drowning the World, in destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighbouring Cities, in his special Favours towards Abraham, &c. and in the Series of Miracles, whereby they were brought out of the Land of Egypt; all which Proofs of a Providence facilitate the Belief of a future State. And in the Lives of the ancient Patriarchs, they bad visible Examples of the Vigour of their Hopes, for these preserved them virtuous and innocent, when the Rest of the World lay in Wickedness. And that God did intend to encourage good Men with the Hopes of Immortality, appeared
2 Mac. vii. 9, 14,
to them in the Instance of Enoch and Elias, who were translated into Heaven, without dying, after an extraordinary Manner. Besides, the whole @conomy of their Worship and Temple, their Rites and
Ceremonies, were typical of greater and better Heb. x. 1. Things, the Law having a Shadow of good Things to
come. The general Promises, in the Books of Moses, of God's blessing good Men, and declaring that he was their God even after their Death, were great Indications to them of the Happiness of another Life, and towards the Conclusion of the legal Dis
pensation, there was yet a clearer Revelation of a Dan. xii. 2. future State; as appears from Daniel, and from the
seven Brethren cruelly put to Death under the Persecution of Antiochus.
Q. W'hat farther Evidence and Assurance doth the Gospel give us of the Soul's Immortality?
A. Our Immortality in another State is clearly
revealed in the Gospel, which is called the Grucę of Tit. ii, 11. God, which brings Salvation, and hath appeared to all Heb. vii. Men; and in another Place is styled, The Power of
an eternal Life. And that the Soul is not obnoxious to Death as the Body is, and that it remains af ter the Death of the Body, is plain from that Cau
tion our Saviour gives to his Disciples, not to fear Luke xii. them that kill the Body, and after that have no more 1,5.
that they can do; which, as St. Matthew expresseth Mat. X. 28. it, cannot kill the Soul, but to fear him, who, after he
hath killed, hath Power to cast into Hell. The express Promises of eternal Happiness, and the no less clear Threatenings ofeverlasting Misery, do'unavoid
ably suppose our Existence in another State to all Mat. xxv. Eternity. The Wicked shull
go into everlasting Punishment, but the Righteous into Life eternal. For this Heb. ix. Cause our Saviour is called the Mediator of the New
Testament, that they which are called might receive the
Promise of the eternal Inheritance. This is the Promise, 1 John ii. saith St. John, which he hath promised us, even eternal Life. God so loved the World, that he gave
his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should
25. John ii. 26.
not perish, but haveeverlasting Life. Who hath brought 2 Tim. i. Lifeand Immortality to Light through the Gospel. All 10. these Texts, and many more that might be urged, sufficiently prove, that at Death our Souls shall not vanish into soft Air, but shall have an eternal Duration in another World. And the Gospel hath further added such an Argument as lies level to the meanest Capacity, and that is, a lively Instance of the Thing to be proved, in raising Christ from the Dead, who acts xvii. after he had conversed forty Days upon Earth for30, 31. the Satisfaction of his Disciples, ascended visibly before them into Heaven, and by fulfilling the Promises he had made them, sufficiently convinced them of his being received into Heaven, and of the Authority with which he was invested. So that he who hath made these Promises of eternal Life, hath raised himself from the Dead, which is enough to convince us, that these Promises are real and shall be made good to us.
Q. But is not the Sleep of the Soul till the Resurrection consistent with those Promises of eternal Life made in the Gospel ?
A. This extravagant Opinion is founded upon the frequent Resemblance that is made in Scripture of Death to Sleep; but this Metaphor in the holy Writings is only applied to the Body's resting in the Grave, in order to be awakened out of this Sleep at the Resurrection; as may appear by consulting the following Texts : Dan. xii. 2. Mat. xxvii. 52. Acts xiii. 36. 1 Cor. xv. 21. and 51. 1 Thess. iv. 14. in which Places it is used with express Reference to the Body. But Sleep, applied to the Soul, is utterly inconsistent with several Passages of Scripture, which plainly suppose the contrary. The Parable of the rich Man and Lazarus doth so describe the State of good and bad Men after this Life, that in eitber of them it is irreconcileable with this Opinion, of the Sleep of the Soul. And the Promise of our Saviour to the penitent Thief, This Day shalt thou be with me in Paradise, sufficiently implies, that bis Soul was not to be in a State of Insensi
bility, but in a Place of Happiness. The Reason St. Paul gives, why he and other good Men were willing to be absent from the Body, was because they were present with the Lord, which must needs signify a State of Happiness, and not Insensibility. And the Force of this Argument, to encourage Christians against the Fear of Death, consists in this, that upon their Dissolution they should be admitted to a State of Bliss, with which the Sleep of the Soul is inconsistent.
Q. How doth it appear that the Christian Evidence for another Life is greater than what the World had before?
A. Because the World never had, before the Gospel Revelation, any express Promise of immortal Life. The Jews had very strong Presumptions, from their Law, of another and better Life, upon which the most of them firmly believed it. And even our Saviour himself in his Dispute with the Sadducees urges no such Promises, but only argues by Consequence from God's owning himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And as the Promise of God is a better Security for immortal Life than mere natural Reason, so a divine Promise exceeds the Evidence of natural Reason, because it is less liable to any of those Objections which weaken natural Proofs, and hath all the Certainty which natural Reason, as well as Revelation, can give it. And accordingly we find, how much stronger the Belief of immortal Life was after the making these divine Promises, than it was before; for this made the primitive Christians, for the Sake of their Religion, despise this Life, and all Enjoyments of it; this made them suffer Persecution with Cheerfulness, and welcome Torments and Death with Joy and Triumph; and this, in so many Instances, not only of Men, but of the weakest Age and Sex, that the World never saw such wonderful Effects before.
Q. What Assurance does the Resurrection of Christ give us of the Truth and Certainty of these Promises of eternal Life?
A. The Resurrection of Christ is a manifest Proof of his divine Authority, and that he was a Prophet sent from God, who could not give a greater Testimony of it, than by raising him from the Dead, which is so peculiar to our Saviour, that no Impostorever pretended to it. So that consequently whatever he taught must be true, and the Promises he made will certainly be fulfilled. And since he hath kept his Word in raising himself from the Dead, there is no Reason to distrust him in any Thing else he hath promised. By his own Resurrection from the Dead he hath wrought such a Miracle, as is most proper to confirm us in the Belief of our Resurrection to eternal Life; for having had Power to raise himself, he cannot want Power to raise us.
Q. What Effect should the Belief of the Soul's Immortality, and its Duration for ever in another State, have upon us?
A. It 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 all the Enjoyments of this World can make us no Compensation for the Loss of our Souls. It should put us upon great Zeal and Diligence in all the ways of Piety and Virtue; for it is only by such Qualifica- · tions that our Souls can be prepared to enjoy the Happiness of the next Life. It should make us carefully avoid all Sin, as the greatest Enemy to our future Hopes, as well as our present Quiet. It should wean us from the Love of this World, which was never designed for our Happiness, and is not capable of satisfying the Desires of immortal Souls. It should support us under all the Afflictions of this Life, knowing that here we have no abiding City, but expect one to come. it should comfort us upon the Approach of Death, because, when this earthly Tabernacle is dissolved, we shall have an House, not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens.