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Future State; and fhould ftart fuch Difficulties as you could not well anfwer: If you believe the Gofpel, you have an Answer to all at once, that you are fure of the Conclufion, that there is another Life, becaufé God has promised it.

2. And yet thefe Arguments of a Future State from Reafon and Nature are not without their Ufe. We can believe a Future State without them; Revelation alone will defend our Faith against all the Wit and Arguments of Atheists; but though there is more Certainty in Revelation, there is a peculiar Agreeablenefs and Satisfaction in the Proofs of Reafon, and the Natural Indications of Immortality. A reasonable Nature is more gratified with Natural Proofs, when they can be had; and it becomes Men of Leifure and Education, to study Nature; and there is not a more useful and entertaining part of Knowledge, than the Natural Knowledge of our own Immortality, which gives us the trueft Knowledge of our felves.

Though fuch Arguments alone do not amount to ftrict Demonftration, yet they are very perfuafive; Natural Senfe of Immortality difpofes us to a more ready, chearful, and firm Affent to the exprefs Promifes of Immortality.

If we must live after Death, it is reafonable to think, that Mankind fhould have fome natural Notice of it: And it would have been no fmall Prejudice against the Revelation of Immortality, had the World never known of, nor fufpected any fuch thing; and had Natural Reafon nothing at all to fay about it: But the very Sufpicions and Hopes of Nature make fuch a Revelation credible; and Revelation gives greater Force to thofe Arguments, than they had alone. Nature, fuppose it were no more, ftrongly inclines us to believe, and hope for, another Life; and this proves,

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that to believe it, is agreeable to Nature; and then there can be no natural Objection against believing.

fuch a Revelation: but on the other hand there is a natural Propensity to believe it; which is a great Advantage to the Christian Faith. And when an unquestionable Revelation contains the exprefs Promises of Immortality, this proves, that the Inclinations and Hopes of Nature are not vain; and fhews us fuch Degrees of Evidence and Certainty in them, as we could not fee before. We can study Nature to much greater Advantage with a Revelation, than the Heathens could do without; and thefe are great Reafons, why we should ftudy and defend the Natural Arguments of Immortality: Not to refolve our Faith into doubtful Difputations; when we have fo much better and more certain Evidence: But the Harmony and Confent of Revelation and Nature, will both enlighten our Faith and give a new Strength and Authority to Reason, which will teach us to believe both like Men and Christians, and give infinite Pleafure and Security to our Minds.

3. It is of great Ufe alfo in our Difputes with Atheifts and Infidels, throughly to understand the Natural and Moral Arguments for a Future State; to know what Strefs to lay on them, and to what Purposes to use them.

It betrays the Caufe of Chriftianity, to lay afide Revelation, and to difpute with thefe Men merely upon the Principles of Reafon and Philofophy. For though I doubt not to fatisfy every impartial and unprejudiced Enquirer, that if there had been no Revelation concerning another World, all the Reason we have, and can ufe in this Caufe, is for a Future State; yet when Men are prejudiced againft. this Belief, and are refolved not to believe it, as.. long as they can poffibly disbelieve it, that is, till you can prove as well as perfuade; it must not be

expected, that mere Natural or Moral Arguments Thould convince them; for they are not fo demonftrative as to force an Affent: They may reprefent the Belief of another Life highly probable, fo probable, as feems little lefs than Demonftration to Men who are difpofed to believe; but they are not direct, abfolute, pofitive Proofs, and therefore may be rejected by Men who have no mind to believe.

Common Experience teaches, that it generally proves a vain and fruitlefs Attempt, to convert Infidels by Philofophy. It could not do it before the Publication of the Gofpel; nor will it do it yet if you lay afide Revelation. But there are two things, which we may, and as I hope to fhew you, we can do from the Principles of Reason, which if they will not convince Infidels, may at leaft filence them, and difpofe them to receive that more perfect Satisfaction which the Gofpel gives; that is, to anfwer all their Cavils and Objections against the Moral Arguments for a Future State; and to fhew them, that though thefe Arguments are not abfolute Demonstrations, yet they have the highest Degrees of Probability; that there is not the leaft Appearance or Shadow of an Argument against another Life, and that there are very probable Reafons for it. And it is enough to put a modeft Man out of Countenance, to be convinc'd that he difbelieves another World without any Reason, and rejects very probable Reafons for the Belief of another World, when he has not fo much as the least Probabilities, to oppose against it. Thus far I am fure Natural and Moral Arguments are of ufe, if not to convince, yet to fhame Infidels; and when we are engaged with Infidels, the fafeft way is never to urge them any farther. If you pretend by fuch Arguments, to a direct pofitive Proof of another Life, they may poffibly be able to make fome de

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fence, and to fhew you that they are not direct and pofitive Proofs, and therefore not a fure and certain Foundation of Faith.

Well, fuppofe this; the Queftion then is, Whether thefe are not very probable Arguments of another Life, or whether they have as probable Arguments against it: For if the beft Reafon, though it do not amount to Certainty and Demonftration, be for the Belief of another World, and there is no Reafon against it, we gain fome very confiderable Points, which are not much for the Reputation of Infidelity.

1. That these Men must never again pretend to Reafon; for they reject and renounce it, and will not believe as Reafon directs them to believe. There are different Degrees of Affent and Faith, as there are different Degrees of Evidence; and Reason requires fuch an Affent, as bears fome Proportion to our Evidence.

Thefe Men will not believe another Life, becaufe, as they think, they have no certain Proof of it. Now they are fo far in the right, not to believe that certain, which they cannot certainly prove: But this is no Reafon not to believe it at all; for if there be probable Reafons for it, nay, very strong Prefumptions, and great Probabilities, then they ought to believe it greatly probable; and to disbelieve what is greatly probable, and to believe the contrary, without fo much as the leaft Probability, is not to believe or difbelieve with Reason.

Prefumptions and Probabilities are a fufficient Foundation for a probable Faith; and a probable Faith is of great ufe in the Government of our Lives. Would not any Man blufh to own, that he does not believe that to be probable, which he must confefs there are probable Reasons for? And is it not as great a Reproach to any Man, to have no Regard to Probabilities in Matters of the greatest Concern

ment to him? If Natural and Moral Arguments make it highly probable, that there is another Life (and that they at least can do,) does not that Man contradict his Reafon, who does not believe another Life very probable, when there are very probable Reasons for it? And if it is probable that there is another Life, does not that Man act very unreafonably, who has no regard to another World in what he does? So that if you can but prove the Probability of another Life, you spoil all the Comfort and Security of Infidelity, and all their vain Boafts and Triumphs of Reafon.

2. Though the Natural and Moral Arguments of another Life were allowed only to be probable Proofs; yet this convinces Infidels of an Averfion to the Belief of another Life; which is as infamous and fcandalous a Crime, as any Man can poffibly be charg'd with. Can any thing be more unnatural than to hate Life and Being? To defire the Death of a Beaft; to fall into eternal Silence and Forgetfulness? What a contemptible Thing is Man, if he be born to live miferably, and after fome few Years to be no more? Is not this a Reproach to Human Nature, and a Contradiction to the natural Defires of Immortality? And yet it is impoffible that any Man fhould reject the probable Hopes of another Life, who does not hate his own Being, and defire that Death may put an End to

him.

Men who defire Immortality, will believe it as long as they can. As Infidels call for Demonftrations to prove another Life, before they will believe it, fo they with much more Reafon demand a Demonstration that there is no other Life, before they will quit thofe great Hopes; much less would they reject fuch Hopes, though they had no more than fome probable Arguments of another Life. For in truth, great Probabilities look very like Demonftra

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