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So true is this, that, had it not been for Philosophy, there had remained perhaps no Footsteps of any Unbelievers in this great Article: For the Sense of Nature would have directed all right; but Philosophy misguided many. For those who denied Immortality, did not deny the common Sense of Nature, which they felt as well as others; but they rejected the Notice, and thought it false, because they could not find physical Causes to support the Belief, or thought that they found physical Causes effectually to overthrow it. This Account we owe to Cicero, one of the best Judges of Antiquity; who tells us plainly, That the Reason why many rejected the Belief of the Immortality of the Soul, was, because they could not form a Conception of an unbodied Soul. So that Infidelity is of no older a Date than Philofophy; and a future State was not doubted of, till Men had puzzled and confounded themselves in their Search after the physical Reason of the Soul's Immortality. And now confider how the Cafe stands, and how far the Evidence of Nature is weakened by the Authority of fuch Unbelievers. All Mankind receive the Belief of a future Life, urged to it every Day by what they feel tranfacted in their own Breasts : But some
Philosophers reject this Opinion, because they have no Conception of a Soul distinct from the Body;, as if the Immortality of the Soul depended merely upon the Strength of human Imagination. Were the natural Evidence of Immortality built
upon any particular Notion of an human Soul, the Evidence of Nature might be overthrown by Thewing the Impossibility or Improbability of such Notion : But the Evidence of Nature is not concerned in any
Notion; and all the common Notions may be false, and yet the Evidence of Nature stand good, which only supposes Man to be a rational Creature, and, consequently, accountable : And, if any, Philosopher can prove the contrary, he may then, if his Word will afterwards pass for any thing, reject this and all other Evidence whatever.
The natural Evidence, I say, supposes only that a Man is a rational, accountable Creature : And, this being the true Foundation in Nature for the. Belief of the Immortality, the true Notion of Nature must needs be this, That Man, as such, shall live to account for his Doings. The Question then, upon the Foot of Nature, is this, What constitutes the Man? And whoever observes with any Care, will find that this is the Point upon which the Learned of Antiquity
divided. The Vulgar spoke of Men after Death just in the fame Manner as they did of Men on Earth: And Cicero observes, that the common Error (as he calls it ) so far prevailed, that they supposed such Things to be transacted apud' Inferos, quae fine Corporibus nec fieri possent, nec intelligi ; which could neither be done, nor conceived to be done, without Bodies. The generality of Men could not arrive to abstracted Notions of unbodied Spirits : And, though they could not but think that the Body, which was burnt before their Eyes, was diffipated and destroyed; yet so great was the Force of Nature, which was ever suggesting to them that Men should live again, that they continued to imagine Men' with Bodies in another Life, having no other Notion or Conception of Men.
But with the Learned nothing was held to be more absurd than to think of having Bodies again in another State: And yet they knew that the true Foundation of Immortality was laid in this point, That the same Individuals should continue. The natural Consequence then was from these Principles to exclude the Body from being any Part of the Man: And all, I believe, who asserted an Immortality, agreed in this Notion. The
Platonists undoubtedly did; and Cicero has every-where declared it to be his Opinion : Tu habeto, says he, te non effe mortalem, fed Corpus : Nec enim is es quem Forma ifta declarat; sed Mens cujusque is eft quisque. 'Tis
your Body, which is mortal: For you are not what you appear to be ; but 'tis the Mind which is the Man. This being the Case, the Controversy was necessarily brought to turn upon the Nature of the Soul; and the Belief of Immortality either prevailed or funk, according as Men conceived of the natural Dignity and Power of the Soul. For this Reason the Corporealists rejected the Opinion: For, since it was universally agreed among the Learned that all that was corporeal of Man died, they, who had no Notion of any thing else, necessarily concluded that the whole Man died.
From this View you may judge how the Cause of Immortality stood, and what Difficulties attended it, upon the Foot of Natural Religion. All Men had a natural Sense and Expectation of a future Life. The Difficulty was to account how the same Individuals, which lived and died in this world, and one Part of which evidently went to decay, should live again in another World. The Vulgar, who had no other Notion of a Man
but what came in by their Eyes, supposed that just such Men as lived in this World should live in the next; overlooking the Difficulties which lay in their Way, whilst they ran haftily to embrace the Sentiments of Nature. This Advantage they had however, that their Opinion preserved the Identity of Individuals, and they conceived themfelves to be the very fame with respect to the Life to come, as they found themselves to be in regard to the Life present. But then, had they been preffed, they could not have stood the Difficulties arifing from the Diffolution of the Body, the Loss of which, in their way of thinking, was the Loss of the Individual.
The Learned, who could not but fee and feel this Difficulty, to avoid it, shut out the Body from being any Part of the Man, and made the Soul alone to be the perfect Individuum. This engaged them in endless Disputés upon the Nature of the Soul; and this grand Article of Natural Religion by this Means was made to hang by the flender Threads of Philosophy; and the whole was entirely lost, if their first Position proved false, That the Soul is the whole Man: And 'tis an Affertion which will not perhaps stand the Examination. The Maintainers of this