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in which they are altogether without the use of them, for a considerable length of their duration; as infancy and childhood. And great part of the human species go out of the present world, before they come to the exercise of these capacities in any degree at all. But then, secondly, the natural immortality of brutes does not in the least imply, that they are endued with any latent capacities of a rational or moral nature. And the economy of the universe might require, that there should be living creatures without any capacities of this kind. And all difficulties as to the manner how they are to be disposed of, are so apparently and wholly founded in our ignorance, that it is wonderful they should be insisted upon by any, but such as are weak enough to think they are acquainted with the whole system of things. There is then absolutely nothing at all in this objection which is so rhetorically urged against the greatest pat of the natural proofs or presumptions of the immortality of human minds: I say the greatest part; for it is less applicable to the following observation, which is more peculiar to mankind:
III. That as it is evident our present powers and capacities of reason, memory and affection, do not depend upon our gross body in the manner in which perception by our organs of sense does; so they do not appear to depend upon it at all in any such manner, as to give ground to think, that the dissolution of this body, will be the destruction of these our present powers of reflection, as it will of our powers of sensation; or to give ground to conclude even that it will be so much as a suspension of the former.
Human creatures exist at present in two states of life and perception, greatly different from each other; each of which had its own peculiar laws, and its own peculiar enjoyments and sufferings. When any of our senses are affected or appetites gratified with the objects of them, we may be said to exist or live in a state of sensation. When none of our senses are affected or appetites gratified, and yet we perceive and reason and act, we may be said to exist or live in a state of reflection. Now it is by no means certain, that any thing which is dissolved by death, is any way necessary to the living being in this its state of reflection, after ideas are gained. For, though from our present constitution and condition of being, our external organs of sense are necessary for conveying in ideas to our reflecting powers as carriages and leavers and scaffolds are in architecture; yet when these ideas are brought in, we are capable of reftecting in the most intense degree, and of enjoying the greatest pleasure, and feeling the greatest pain by means of that reflection, without any assistance from our senses; and without any at all, which we know of, from that body which will be dissolved by death. It does not appear then, that the relation of this gross body to the reflecting being, is, in any degree, necessary to thinking; to our intellectual enjoyments or sufferings: nor, consequently, that the dissolution or alienation of the former by death, will be the destruction of those present powers, which render us capable of this state of reflection. Further, there are instances of mortal diseases, which do not at all affect our pres. ent intellectual powers; and this affords a presumption, that those diseases will not destroy these present powers. Indeed, from
the observations made above,* it appears, that there is no presumption, from their mutually affecting each other, that the dissolution of the body is the destruction of the living agent. And by the same reasoning, it must appear too, that there is no presumption, from their mutually affecting each other, that the disso. lution of the body is the destruction of our present reflecting powers; but instances of their not affecting each other, afford a presumption of the contrary. Instances of mortal diseases not impairing our present reflecting powers, evidently turn our thoughts even from im. agining such diseases to be the destruction of them. Several things indeed greatly affect all our living powers, and at length suspend the exercise of them; as for instance drowsiness, increasing till it ends in sound sleep; and from hence we might have imagined it would destroy them, till we found by experience the weakness of this way of judging. But in the diseases now mentioned, there is not so much as this shadow of probability, to lead us to any such conclusion, as to the reflecting powers which we have at present; for in those diseases, persons, the moment before death appear to be in the highest vigor of life; they discover apprehension, memory, reason, all entire; with the utmost force of affection; sense of a character, of shame and honor; and the highest mental enjoyments and sufferings, even to the last gasp: and these surely prove even greater vigor of life than bodily strength does: Now what pretence is there for thinking, that a progressive disease when arrived to such a degree, I mean that degree which is mortal, will destroy those powers which were not impaired, which were not affected by it, during its whole progress quite up to that degree? And if death, by diseases of this kind, is not the destruction of our present reflecting powers, it will scarce be thought that death by any other means is.
It is obvious that this general observation may be carried on further; and there appears so little connexion between our bodily pow. ers of sensation, and our present powers of reflection, that there is no reason to conclude, that death, which destroys the former, does so much as suspend the exercise of the latter, or interrupt our continuing to exist in the like state of reflection which we do now. For suspension of reason, memory and the affections which they excite, is no part of the idea of death, nor is implied in our notion of it. And our daily experiencing these powers to be exercised, without any assistance; that we know of, from those bodies, which will be dissolved by death; and our finding often that the exercise of them is so lively to the last; these things afford a sensible apprehension, that death may not perhaps be so much as a discontinuance of the exercise of these powers, nor of the enjoyments and sufferings which it implies. So that our posthumous life, whatever there may be in it additional to our present, yet may not be entirely beginning anew,
* P. 49, 50. + There are three distinct questions, relating to a future lite, here considered:whether death be the destruction of living agents; it not, whether it be the destruc tion of their present powers of reflection, as it certainly is the destruction of their pres. ent powers of sensation; and if not, whether it be the supension,
or discontinuance of the exercise, of these present reflecting powers. Now, if there be no reason to believe the last, there will be, if that were possible, less for the next, and less still for the first
but going on. Death may, in some sort, and in some respects, answer to our birth; which is not a suspension of the faculties which we had before it, or a total change of the state of life in which we existed when in the womb; but a continuation of both with such and such great alterations.
Nay, for what we know of ourselves, of our present life and of death, death may immediately, in the natural course of things, put us into a higher and more enlarged state of life, as our birth does; * a state in which our capacities and sphere of perception and of action
may be niuch greater than at present. For as our relation to our external organs of sense renders us capable of existing in our present state of sensation, so it may be the only natural hindrance to our existing, immediately and of course, in a higher state of reflection. The truth is, reason does not at all shew us in what state death naturally leaves us. But were we sure that it would suspend all our perceptive and active powers, yet the suspension of a power and the destruction of it are effects so totally different in kind, as we experience from sleep and a swoon, that we cannot in any wise argue from one to the other, or conclude, even to the lowest degree of probability, that the same kind of force which is sufficient to suspend our face ulties, though it be increased ever so much, will be sufficient to destroy them.
These observations together may be sufficient to shew, how little presumption there is, that death is the destruction of human creatures. However, there is the shadow of analogy which may lead us to imagine it is; the supposed likeness which is observed between the decay of vegetables; and of living creatures. And this likeness is indeed sufficient to atford the poets very apt allusions to the flowers of the field, in their pictures of the frailty of our present life. But in reason, the analogy is so far from holding, that there appears no ground even for the comparision, as to the present question; because one of the two subjects compared is wholly void of that, which is the principal and chief thing in the other, the power of perception and of action, and which is the only thing we are inquiring about the continuance of; so that the destruction of a vegetable is an event not similar or analagous to the destruction of a living agent.
But if, as was above intimated, leaving off the delusive custom of substituting imagination in the room of experience, we would confine ourselves to what we do know and understand, if we would argue only from that, and from that form our expectations, it would appear at first sight, that as no probability of living beings ever ceas
so, can be concluded from the reason of the thing, so none can be collected from the analogy of nature, because we cannot trace any living beings beyond death. But as we are conscious that we are endued with capacities of perception and of action, and are liv.
* This, according to Strabo, was the opinion of the Brachmans, νομίζειν μεν γαρ δη τον μεν ενθάδε βίον, ώς αν ακμην κνομένων είναι: τον δε θάνατο», γένεσιν εις τον όντως βίον, και τον ευδαίμονα τους φιλοσοφήσασι. Lib. XV. p. 1039. Ed. Amst. 1707. To which opinion perhaps Antoείnus may allude in these words, ως νύν περιμένεις, πότε έμβρυον εκ της γαστρος των γυναικός σε εξέλθη, "ατως εκδεχεσθαι την ωραν εν η το ψυχάριον
tè énútes 78T8 XTifcitab. Lib. IX. c. 3.
ing to be
ing persons, what we are to go upon is, that we shall continue so, until we foresee some accident or event which will endanger those capacities, or be likely to destroy us; which death does in no wise appear to be.
And thus, when we go out of this world, we may pass into new scenes, and a new state of life and action, just as naturally as we came into the present. And this new state may naturally be a social one. And the advantages of it, advantages of every kind, may naturally be bestowed, according to some fixed general laws of wisdom, upon every one in proportion to the degrees of his virtue. And though the advantages of that future natural state, should not be bestowed, as these of the present in some measure are, by the will of the society, but entirely by his more immediate action, upon whom the whole frame of nature depends; yet this distribution may be just as natural as there being distributed here by the instrumentality of men. And indeed, though one were to allow any confused undetermined sense, which people please to put upon the word natural, it would be a shortness of thought scarce credible, to imagine that no system or course of things can be so, but only what we see at present; especially whilst the probability of a future life, or the natural immortality of the soul, is admitted upon the evidence of reason; because this is really both admitting and denying at once, a state of being different from the present to be natural. But the only distinct meaning of that word is stated, fixed, or settled; since what is natural, as much requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render it so, i. e. to effect it continually or at stated times, as what is supernatural or miraculous does to effect it for once. And from hence it must follow, that persons' notion of what is natural, will be enlarged in proportion to their greater knowledge of the works of God, and the dispensations of his providence. Nor is there any absurdity in supposing, that there may be beings in the universe, whose capacities, and knowledge, and views, may be so extensive, as that the whole christian dispensation may to them appear; natural, i. e. analagous or conformable to God's dealings with other parts of his creation; as natural as the visible known course of things appears to us. For there seems scarce any other possible sense to be put upon the word, but that only in which it is here used; similar, stated or uniform.
This credibility of a future life, which has been here insisted upon, how little soever it may satisfy our curiosity, seems to answer all the purposes of religion, in like manner as a demonstrative proof would. Indeed a proof, even a demonstrative one, of a future life, would not be a proof of religion. For that we are to live hereafter, is just as reconcileable with the scheme of atheism, and as well to be accounted for by it, as that we are now alive, is; and therefore nothing can be more absurd than to argue from that scheme, that there can be no future state. But as religion implies a future state, any presumption against such a state is a presumption against religion. And the foregoing observations remove all presumptions of that sort, and prove to a very considerable degree of probability, one fundamental doctrine of religion; which, if believed, would greatly open and dispose the mind seriously to attend to the general evidence of the whole.
Of the Government of God by Rewards and Punishments; and para
ticularly of the latter.
THAT which makes the question concerning a future life to be of so great importance to us, is our capacity of happiness and misery: And that which makes the consideration of it to be of so great impor. tance to us, is the supposition of our happiness and misery hereafter depending upon our actions here. Without this, indeed, curiosity 'could not but sometimes bring a subject, in which we may be so highly interested, to our thoughts; especially upon the mortality of others, or the near prospect of our own. But reasonable men would not take any farther thought about hereafter, than what should happen thus occasionally to rise in their minds, if it were certain that our future interest no way depended upon our present behavior; whereas, on the contrary, if there be ground, either from analogy or any thing else,to think it does, then there is reason also for the most active thought and solicitude to secure that interest, to behave so as that we may escape that misery and obtain that happiness in another life, which we not only suppose ourselves capable of, but which we apprehend also is put in our own power. And whether there be ground for this last apprehension, certainly would deserve to be most seriously considered, were there no other proof of a future life and interest than that presumptive one which the foregoing observations amount to.
Now in the present state, all which we enjoy, and a great part of what we suffer, is put in our own power. For pleasure and pain are the consequences of our actions, and we are endued by the author of our nature, with capacities of foreseeing these consequences. We find by experience he does not so much as preserve our lives,exclusively of our own care and attention to provide ourselves with, and to make use of, that sustenance,by which he has appointed our lives shall be preserved,and without which, he has appointed they shall not be preserved at all. And in general we foresee that the external things, which are the objects of our various passions, can neither be obtained por enjoyed without exerting ourselves in such and such manners; but by thus exerting ourselves, we obtain and enjoy these objects in which our natural good consists; or, by this means God gives us the possession and joyment of them. I know not that we have any oue kind or degree of enjoyment, but by the means of our own actions.
And by prudence and care we may, for the most part, pass our days in tolerable ease and quiet; or, on the contrary, we may by rashness, ungova erned passion, wilfulness, or even by negligence, make ourselves as miserable as ever we please. And many do please to make themselves