Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Opinion, though they supposed a sensitive as well as a rational Soul in Man, which was the Seat of the Passions, and, consequently, the Spring of all human Actions ; yet this fenfitive Soul they gave up to Death as well as the Body, and preserved nothing but the pure intellectual Mind. And yet 'tis fomething surprizing to think that a mere rational Mind should be the same Individual with a Man, who consists of a rational Mind, a senfitive Soul, and a Body. This carries no Probability with it at first sight, and Reason cannot undertake much in its behalf.

But, whatever becomes of these Speculations, there is a farther Difficulty, which can hardly be got over; which is, That this Notion of Immortality and future Judgment can never serve the Ends and Purposes of Religion, because it is a Notion which the generality of Mankind can never arrive at. Go to the Villages, and tell the Ploughmen, that, if they fin, yet their Bodies shall sleep in Peace; no material, no sensible Fire shall ever reach them, but there is something within them purely intellectual which shall suffer to Eternity; you will hardly find that they have enough of the Intellectual to comprehend your Meaning. Now Natural Religion is founded on the Sense of Nature,

that

that is, upon the common Apprehensions of Mankind; and therefore abstracted metaphysical Notions, beat out upon the Anvil of the Schools, can never support Natural Religion, or make any part of it.

In this point then Nature seems to be lame, and not able to support the Hopes of Immortality which she gives to all her Children. The Expectation of the Vulgar, that they shall live again, and be just the same Flesh and Blood which now they are, is justifiable upon no. Principles of Reason or Nature. What is there in the whole Compass of Beings which yields a Similitude of Dust and Afhes rising up again into regular Bodies, and to perpetual Immortality ? On the other side, that the intellectual Soul should be the whole Man, how justifiable soever it may be in other Respects, yet ’tis not the common Sense of Nature, and therefore most certainly no Part of Natural Religion.

But it may be worth inquiring how Nature comes to be thus defective in this material Point. Did not God intend Men originally for religious Creatures ? and, if he did, is it not reafonable to expect an original and consistent Scheme of Religion ? which yet in the Point now before us seems to be wanting:

The

The Account of this we cannot learn froni Reason or Nature ; but in the sacred History the Fact is cleared beyond "Dispute. The Absurdity upon the common Notion of Immortality arises from the Diffolution of the Body at Death ; and the great Difficulty upon

the Foot of Nature is how to preserve the Individuals for Judgment, which are evidently destroyed by Death. Now, if this Death was really a Breach upon the State of Nature; 'tis no wonder it should be a Difficulty in the Religion of Nature ; for the Religion of Nature was most certainly adapted to the State of Nature. And the wife Man tells us, That God made not Death: For be created all Things that they might bave their Being ; and the Generations of the World were healthful; and there is no Poison of Destruction in them; nor the Kingdom of Death upon Earth; for Righteousness is immortal. But ungodly Men with their Works and Words called it to them. If Immortality was the Condition of the Creation, if Death came in as a Surprize upon Nature, no wonder if she ftands mute and astonished at the fatal Change, and seems neither willing to part with her Hopes of Immortality, nor yet able to maintain them. Upon the Plan of Nature the common Notion of Immor

[ocr errors]

tality was the true one: For take Death out of the question, which is the only Separation of Soul and Body that we know any thing of, and there is no Pretence for distinguishing between the Man and the intellectual Mind. The Vulgar certainly retained the true original Notion of Nature; but, when the original State of Nature was lost, the Noțion grew absurd; and it could not be otherwise. . God made Man immortal, and gave him consistent Hopes and Fears: Man made himself mortal by Sin: Must not then those Hopes, which were consistent Hopes upon the Foot of Immortality, become very absurd, when joined to a State of Mortality ? And thus the Coming in of Death obscured the Hopes of Immortality.

Lastly, If we consider how our Saviour has enlightened this Doctrine, it will appear that he has removed the Difficulty at which Nature stumbled. As Death was no Part of the State of Nature, so the Difficulties arising from it were not provided for in the Religion of Nature. To remove these was the proper

Work of Revelation: These our Lord has effectually cleared by his Gospel, and shewn us that the Body may and shall be united to the Spirit in the Day of the Lord, so that the complete Man Thall stand

before

great Point

before the great Tribunal to receive a just Recompence of Reward for the Things done in the Body. This Account is given in the Words preceding those of the Text : Who bath abolished Death, and brought Life and Immortality to Light through the Gospel. Now, if the abolishing of Death was the bringing to Light Life and Immortality, it is plain that the Coming in of Death was that which darkened Nature in this of Religion.

There are two Things, as we learn from our Saviour's Answer to the Sadducees, necessary to confirm us in the Belief of a Resurrection to come ; namely, the Knowledge of the Power of God, and of the Will of God: Do ye not therefore err, says our Lord, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the Power of God? The Scriptures contain the Revelation of the Will of God; and therefore the Words, I reckon, are to be understood as if he had said, Ye err, not knowing the Will of God and the Power of God. If we are satisfied in these two Points, that God both can and will raise the Dead, we shall want nothing to assure us of the Certainty of a Resurrection. The Power of God we may learn from Reason and Nature: For what should make us doubt

« AnteriorContinuar »