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work; and the plain Draught of Nature was almost hid under the Shades and Colours with which they endeavoured to beautify and adorn it. The Philosophers found the same Persuasion in themselves and others, and, as their Profession led them, sought out for physical Reasons to support the Cause. This Inquiry has furnished us with the various Opinions of Antiquity concerning the Nature and Operation of the Soul, its Manner of acting in the Body and out of it, its Eternity and Immortality, and many other curious Pieces of Learning. How far any or all of these Inquirers into Nature succeeded in their Attempt to prove the Immortality of the Soul from physical Causes, is another Question. As to the present Point, 'tis plain the natural Evicjpfnce is not concerned in their Success, whatever it is; for the natural Evidence is prior to their Inquiries, and stands upon another Foot, upon the common Sense and Apprehension of Mankind: And the Schools may determine the Soul to be Fire, or Air, or Harmony, or what else they please; yet still Nature will make every Man feel that the Grave will not secure him from appearing before the great Tribunal to which he is accountable.
So true 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 maqy 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 Philosophy; 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 consider how the Case stands, and how far the Evidence of Nature is weakened bv the Authority of such Unbelievers. All Man-' kind receive the Belief of a future Life, urged to it every Day by what they feel transacted in their own Breasts: But some O 4 Philosophers
Philosophers reject this Opinion, because they have no Conception os 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 (hewing 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 same 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 Infer os, qiiœji.ne Gorporibus nee fieri pojfent, nee inteliigi; 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 dissipated 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 mould 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
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 sensitive Soul they gave up to Death as well as the Body, and preserved nothing but the pure intellectual Mind. And yet 'tis something surprizing to think that a mere rational Mind mould be the same Individual with a Man> who consists of a rational Mind, a sensitive 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 sin, 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,