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present to us, as Relations, Proportions, and Pro portionality, as the Geometricians call the Relation of one Proportion to another. In like Manner the Notions we have of Truth and Falsehood, Right and Wrong, Good and Evil, which nothing thatcomes into our Minds by the Senses can represent to us. : Q. But cannot the infinite Power of God endow Matter with a Capacity of Thinking ?
A. The extent of infinite Power and of the Capacities of the material Nature, are such Secrets to us, that it is hard to pretend to strict Demonstration against either of them. But this is not fairly urged by the Men of Reason and Philosophy, which shews their Cause very indefensible; because if Men will reason about such Matters,' all such Appeals should be laid aside, and they should only argue from their own Sensations, and from the known Appearances of Nature; for though it is difficult to pretend to say what infinite Power can or cannot do, yet, according to the known Principles of Philosophy, there is no Relation between Matter and Thought; nay, as far as we can judge, an utter Incapacity in Matter to think; and it seems not intelligible, how God should superadd to Matter this Faculty of Thinking unless he change the Nature of Matter. And it may as well be maintained, that God by his Omnipotence may superadd to immaterial Beings the Faculty of Extensiou and Divisi. bility, which would be to make them quite other Things than they are. When we seek for natural Evidence, we must be content with such Evidence as Sense and Reason, and the Philosophy of Nature afford : and at the same Time there is not any Pretence of Reason against the Possibility of an immaterial Principle in Man distinct from Body. !
Q. But what do sederal of the ancient Fathers of the Church mean, when they assert that the Soul is not properly immortal?
A. Their Expressions are not to be taken in a rigorous Sense; for they speak not in Opposition to
1 Tim. vi.
the Christian Opinion of the Soul's Immortality, but in Opposition to the extravagant Notions of some pretended Platonists, who taught such an line mortality of the Soul as implied Necessity of Existence; for the Reason they give why Souls ought not to be called immortal, is; because they had a Beginning, and depend continually upon God
for the Just. Preservation of their Being ; in which Sense neither cart
. Dial. are the Angels themselves immortal, but God him. T.yph. self, who, as, St. Paul expresses it, only hath Im-16. mortality. And the Passages wherein they atfirm, that Immortality is not the necessary Condition of our Nature, but the Reward of our Virtue, are all plainly meant, not of Perpetuity of Duration, but of the eternal indefectible Happiness of Heaven; in which: Sense the Word Immortality is used by lact. lib. theni, as alone deserving that glorious Title, not-7. g. 7. withstanding that they affirm the opposite State to be of equal Duration aud Perpetuity.
Q. But if whatever hath a Principle of sensitive Perception is immaterial, and consequently immortal; will it not follow that the Souls of Brutes must be immortal?
A. That there is a Spirit in a Beast distinct from its Body, and separated from it by Death, we learn Eccl. iji. from Solomon; and that they are not mere Machines 21. and Engines, without real Sensation, is as evident to us, as that other Men have Sensations; for the brute Beasts appear to have all the five Senses as truly aud exactly as any Man in the World. But yet it will not follow, that their Souls are immortal in the Sense we attribute Immortality to the Souls of Men, because they are not capable of the Exereise of Reason and Religion. For the Immortality of Men's Souls consists not only in a Capacity of living iú a separate State, but living so in that State as to be sensible of Happiness and Misery; for they are not only endowed with a Faculty of Sense, but with other Faculties that do not depend upon, or have any Connection with Matter. Though therefore it should be allowed, that the Souls of Brules
remain when separated from their Bodies; yet being only endowed with a sensitive Principle, the Operations of which depend upon an organical Disposition of the Body, when that is dissolved, it is probable they lapse into an insensible and inactive State; and when the Scene of sensible Things at the End of the World shall pass away, it is not improbable, but that they may return to their first Nothing, as not farther necessary.
Q. What is the second Argument from Reason to persuade us that the Soul is immortal ?
A. The universal Consent of Mankind, which sheweth it to be a natural Notion and Dictate of our Minds. Now when all men, though 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. And that they did thus agree in the Belief of the Soul's Immortality, is evident from the Testimony of many ancient Heathen Writers, and the Consent of several credible Historians; nay, the very Idolatries of the Pagans themselves confirm this Truth; for their Gods were no other than dead Men and Women, consecrated by the Superstition of the People, and worshipped with divine Honours and religious Ceremonies. Now the least that can be inferred from this is, that they believed that these Men and Women they worshipped, lived after Death, and had an Existence when separated from their Bodies.
Q. But is it not a great Prejudice to this Argument, that the Epicureans among the Philosophers, and the Sadducees among the Jews, denied the Immortality of the Soul?
A. That some few Instances may be brought to the contrary, is no Proof that this Notion is not natural; and some few Exceptions are no better Arguments against an universal Consent, than some few Monsters and Prodigies are against the regular
Course of Nature; for Men may offer Violence to Nature, and debauch their Understandings by Lust, Interest, or Pride, and an Affectation of Singularity: which was the Case of Epicurus. And the Sadducees, from a Heat of Opposition to the Pharisees, fell into this Error, mistaking the Doctrine their Master Sadoc had so often inculcated, viz. That though there were no Rewards and Punishments after this Life, yet Men ought to live virtuously. This we are sure of, the more Men excelled in Piety and Virtue, the more firmly they believed a future State; and it is reasonable to learn what Nature is from the most perfect Patterns. And that the Sense of Nature in this Case is very strong, is evident from the great Number of wicked Men in the World; who, notwithstanding it is their Interest there should be no Life after this, yet cannot overcome the Fears of it.
Q. What is the third Argument from Reason for the Immortality of the Soul?
A. Those natural Notions we have of God, and of the essential Difference between Good and Evil, bear great Evidence to this Truth: For the Belief of a God implies the Belief of his infinite Goodness and Justice: From the first we may conclude him inclinable to make 'some Creatures more perfect than others, and capable of greater Degrees of Happiness, and of longer Duration: Because Goodness is communicative and diffusive, and delights in being so; and since 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 an immortal Duration. From the latter, his infinite Justice, we may conclude he loves Righteousness and hates Iniquity; but the Dispensations of his Providence in this world being very promiscuous, that good 'Men often suffer, and that for the Sake of Righteousness; that wicked Men as frequently prosper, and that by Means of their Wickedness, it
is reasonable to believe a future immortal State for the suitable Distribution of Rewards and Punislrments. And there being 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: But since we foud that in this world this Discrimination is not always made, we may conclude there is 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 Soul's Immortality.
Q. What is the fourth Argument from Reason for the Soul's Iminortality?
A. The natural Hopes and Fears of Men, which cannot be well accounted for without the Belief of an immortal State after Death. Now 'common Experience proves the Reality of such Hopes and Fears. Some have been desirous to perpetuate their Names to Posterity, and by brave Actions have endeavoured to purchase Fame, which would signify nothing, if they had not believed they should have existed in another World to have enjoyed it. There have been many more, who, by the Virtue and Piety of their Lives, by the Justice and Honesty of their Actions, have been raised to an Expectation of Rewards after Death; and all the Arts of wicked Men have not been able to deliver them from Shamei and Horror upon the Commission of any wicked Action, though covered with the greatest Privacy, and unknown to any one but themselves. Now what can fill the one so full of Hopes, and deject the other with such Fears and Dreads, but that Nature suggests to them the certainty of an Afterreckoning, when they shall be punished for their bad Actions, or rewarded for their good. And indeed the Certainty of future Rewards and Panishments, upon which Men's natural Hopes and fears are built, is founded in the Nature of God, who is necessarily infinitely good, and infinitely just, and lherefore must be pleased with, and approve such