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This is a certain proof, that these Fears are not owing to Education, but spring from Nature ; for the Mistakes of Education may be rectify'd by Reason and Experience, especially when they are such troublesome mistakes, that Mankind are defirous to get rid of them: No such Mistakes could ever hold out long against Reason and Interest ; whatever is a Mistake, may be confuted by Reafon; and when it is mens Interest to discover the Mistake, this will make them very sagacious in their Enquiries, and very ready to see
their Mistake ; that had the Fears of bad men been the effect only of Idle Tales, and Traditionary Fables, it is impossible they should have withstood all the Wit and Reason of Philosophical Atheists; that such men with all their Arguments should not be able to make themselves absolutely secure, much less to make many Converts; tho every Age and Nation has been filled with men whose lives have disposed them to be Atheists. These are the general Marks and Signs of what is Natural ; that which is universal and common to all Mankind; that which is the first and original Sense of Human Nature ; and that which is so deeply fix'd in our Minds, that no Art or Industry can wholly root it out; and all this proves, that these Presages of Conscience, the Hopes good men have of a Reward, and the Fear of Punishment and Vengeance, which haunts bad men, are the natural Sense of mens Minds.
III. Let us now consider the force of this Argument, how these Hopes and Fears of good and bad men are natural Presages of a Future Judg. ment.
1. Now in the first place, I think, I may lay it down as a certain Principle, that Nature, or the natural Sense of our own Minds, does not deceive us ; for if we should say it may, there is an end of all certainty ; we must be Scepticks in every thing, if we cannot believe the natural Impressions upon our Minds; for I know not then, why we should believe our External Senses, what we see, or hear, or feel ; If man was made by God, who is Eternal Truth, the Natural Sense of our Minds must be as true and certain, as our Bodily Senses are ; for tho the Deductions of Reason are not always so necessary and certain, because men may reason wrong ; yet if the firft Principles of Reason, and the immediate Sense of our Minds, which are common to Human Nature, should misguide us, this were the fault not of Reasoning and Discourse, but of Nature it felf, and therefore must be charg’d upon the Author of Nature; and certainly there cannot be so ill a contrived Creature made, as Man is, who is pursued with the Fears of Justice and Vengeance, when he does ill, and flattered with the promising hopes of great Rewards when lie does well, if there be no Future Judgment to reward good men, and to punish the wicked.
2. For secondly,These natural Hopes and Fears of Good and Bad Men, immediately respect the Judgment of God, not of Men, and concern the Rewards and Punishments of the other World, more than of this. Let bad men be never fo powerful and prosperous, tho they fear no hurt from men, nor any change and alteration of their Fortune, yet the sense of Guilt distracts and terrifies them with the Fears of an Unseen and
Almighty Vengeance; and tho good men suffer very hard things from the world, and have no profpe&t of better Usage here, yet their Consciences speak Peace to them, and support them with great Hopes; and therefore unless these Natural Hopes and Fears deceive us, good men shall certainly be rewarded by God, and bad men punished, either in this world, or in the next, orin both. 3. We may
consider farther, that these Hopes and Fears of good and bad men, give a natural Confirmation to all those other Arguments which I have already urged for the proof of a Future Judgment. As to Thew this in a few words:
1. This proves a natural sense in all men, that they are accountable Creatures, and shall be called to anaccount for their Actions; for unlessmen were sensible of this why should their Consciences acquit or condemn them? why should they Judge themselves, but in relation to some higher Tribunal, which will certainly judge them? efpecially when the Consciences of bad men do not only condemn, but threaten them, and the Consciences of good men do not only acquit and absolve, but promise a Reward; for they can neither punish nor reward themselves..
2. This proves the natural sense we have of the essential Difference between Good and Evil, and that what is Good deserves a Reward, and what iş Evil deserves Punishment, because good men expect a Reward for the good they do, and bad men fear Punishment when they have done Evil; which shewsa natural Sense of the juft Merits and Deserts both of Good and Evil, and that they shall receive their juft Rewards.
3. This provesalso, that natural sense mankind have, That God is the Supreme and Sovereign Lord and Judge of the World, and will judge mankind; for there is no other Tribunal whịch all mankind can be accountableto. The common sense of Human Nature must respect the universal Lord and Judge of the World, who has a natural right to govern and to judge mankind. He who made us, imprinted this Sense upon our Minds; for what is natural is owing only to the Author of Nature ; and therefore these natural Hopes and Fears can only relate to the Government and Judgment of our Maker and Natural Lord; and then they must prove that God will judge us, that he will reward or punish us according to our Works : Nay,
4. This proves that Natural Sense men have of a juft Providence which governs this World at present ; for though these Natural Hopes and Fears do not give men any assurance that they shall be rewarded or punished in this world, as they deserve; yet a good Conscience, especially some great and eminent Virtues, give good men great hopes in God, and a secure trust and dependance on his Providence, even in this Life
i and a great sense of Guilt makes men afraid of present Vengeance ; though God may think fit to delay the punishment of bad men till the next World, yet a Guilty Conscience never thinks it self safe here : So that if there be any force in these Arguments , the Accountableness of Human Nature, the Essential Differences of Good and Evil , the Natural Notions of God's Dominion and Sovereignty, and that just Providence which governs the World at pre
sent, to prove a future Judgment, they all receive strength and confirmation from the natural Hopes and Fears of good and bad men, which are a natural Presage of Judgment. And this is a fifth Argument of a Future State, The Natural Presages of Conscience.
6. To add no more ; The removing Mankind out of this World into the next, proves the neceflity of a Future Judgment: If mankind after death subsists in another
State, they must be judged, and therefore Judgment is as certain as a life after death, which I must take for granted in this Argument; the reason I believe of this is not obvious at the first proposal, but it will be plain, if you consider but some few things :
1. That when we go into the next World, we must remove into a State of Happiness or Misery : I do not mean, that when we go into the nextWorld, good men shall be certainly happy, and the wicked miserable; for that is to beg the thing in question, and to take that for
granted which is to be proved; but if we live in the next World, it is certain we must be happy or miserable there , for every thing that lives is so in proportion to the Capacities of its Nature.
2. That our State and Condition in the next world must have relation to our Behaviour and Deserts in this: When God first makes man, he puts him into such a state as is fitted to his Nature; for when he has done neither Good nor Evil, it is not what he deserves, but what God sees him fit for, that must allot him his Rank and Station; but when man is removed out of one ftate of life into another, his Behaviour in the first state must