Page images
PDF
EPUB

them? If the foul.ofi man be.mere matter, it can only judge of things according to the impressions which are made upon our senses: but we do, judge otherwise, and see reason to do so many times. Therefore it must be some higher principle which judges of things, not by the material impressions which they make upon our fenfes, .but by other measures. Andiherefore. to avoid this.inconvenience, Epicurus was glad, to fly the absurdity, to affirm that all things really are what they appear to us, and that in truth the sun is no bigger than it seems to be.

2dly, The contemplation of things spiritual and divine, is an argument that ithe soul is of a higher origi.nal than any thing that is material. To contemplate the nature of God, and the divine excellencies and perfections; the meditation of a future state, and of the happiness of another world; those breathings which good men feel in their souls.after. God, and the enjoyment of him, argue the spiritual nature of the foul. Hoc habet argumentum divinitatis fua, faith Seneca, quod eam divina delectant, nec ut alienis intereft fed ut fuis. "The “ foul of man hath this argument of its divine original, " that it is so strangely delighted, fo infinitely pleased ." and satisfied with the contemplation of divine things, « and is taken up with these thoughts, as if they were “ its proper business and concernment.” Those strong inclinations and defires after immortality, and the pleafure which good men find in the fore-thoughts of the happinefs which they hope to enter into, when their fouls shall quit these manlions; the restless aspirings of our souls towards God, and those blessed manlions where he dwells, and where the spirits of good men con- verse with him and one another; these fignify our fouls to be of a nobler extraction than the earth, that they are descended from above, and that heaven is their country, their thoughts are so much upon it, and they are so desirous to return to it.

i snall conclude this argument from the noble and excellent operations of our Souls, of which we are .conscious to ourfelves, with a passage of Tully to this purpose. Animarum nulle in terris origo inveniri poteft: nibil enim eft in animis mixtum atque .concretum, ut quod ex terra natum atque fiétum efe videatur. “ The souls

E 3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

" of men have not their original from the earth, it is “ in vain to seek for it there: for there is nothing in *** the mind of man of a material mixture and composi“ tion, which we can imagine to be born or formed out “ of the earth. For, says he, among material and " earthly things there is nothing," quod vim memoria, mentis, cogitationis habeat, quod præterita teneat, do futura provideat, & comple&ti poßit præfentia. “ There “ is no earthly thing which hath the power of memory, of " understanding, of thought, which retains things paft, “ foresees and provides for things future, comprehends " and considers things present." Singularis eft igitur quædam nature atque vis animi, sejunéta ab his ufitatis tisque naturis; so that the nature and power of the “ loul are of a peculiar and singular kind, different “ from all those natures which we are acquainted with “ in this world.” He concludes, Itaque quicquid eft quod sentit, quod fapit, quod vult; quod viget, celeste da divinum est, ob eamque rem æternum fit necesse est. " There« fore whatever that is which is endowed with a power “ of perception, with wisdom, with liberty, with so much vigour and activity as the foul of man, is of heavenly “ and divine original, and for that reason is necessarily “ immortal, and to continue for ever."

Thus I have represented to you as briefly and plainly as I could, those which I account the chief and strongest arguments of this great principle of religion, the fool's immortality: Some of them are plain and obvious to every capacity; the rest, though they be above common capacities, yet were not to be neglected, because they may be useful to fome, though not to all; and as thofe who are more wise and knowing should have patience, whilst the most common and plainest things are fpoken for the instruction of ordinary capacities, fo those of lower capacities should be content that many things should be spoken which may be useful to others, though they be above their reach. To sum

up

then what has been said from reason, for the proof of the foul's immortality. It is a natural di

Etate and notion of our minds, universally entertained in all ages and places of the world, excepting fome very few perfons and fects; it doth not contradict any other principle that nature hath planted in us, but doth very well agree with those other notions which are most natural; it is most suitable to the natural hopes and fears of men; it evidently tends to the happiness and perfection of man, and to the good order and government of the world ; lastly, it gives the fairelt account of the phænomena of human nature, of those several actions and operations which we are conscious to ourselves of.

Now, supposing the soul were immortal, what greater rational evidence than this can we expect for it? how can we, without a revelation, have more assurance of the things of this nature than these arguments give us, not taken singly, but as they concur together to make up an entire argument, and to give us sufficient evidence of this?

I do not say that these arguments do fo necessarily conclude it, that there is an absolute impossibility the thing should be otherwise; but so as to render it sufficiently certain to a prudent and considerate man, and one that is willing to accept of reasonable evidence. For the generality of the Papists do pertinaciously maintain this unreasonable principle, that there can be no certainty of any thing without infallibility: yet some of the wiser of them have thought better of it, and are pleased to state the business of certainty otherwise ; particularly Melchior Canus, one of the inost learned of their writers, determines thofe to be sufficiently certain, which no man can, without imprudence and obftinacy, disbelieve. Certa apud homines ea funt, quæ negari fine pervicacia do ftultitia non possunt. Men esteem those

things certain, which no man that is not unreasonably “ obftinate and imprudenit can deny." "And I think the arguments I have brought for the soul's immortality, are such as no man that is unprejudiced and hath a prudent regard to his own interest can refift. Vi

Thus I have done with the firft thing I propounded to do for the proof of the foul's immortality, which was to shew what evidence of reason there is for it. I Thall speak briefly to the

Second thing I propounded, which was to fhew how little can be said against it, because this will indire&tly give a strength and force to the arguments - I have

brought

brought for it. For it is very considerable in any question of controversy, what strength there is in the

arguments on both sides : for though very plausible ar-guments may be brought for a thing, yet if others as plausible and specious may be urged against it, this leaves the thing in-æquilibrio, it sets the balance even, and inclines the judgment neither way; nay, if the objections against a thing. be considerable, though not ..So strong as the arguments, for it, the confiderableness of the objections does so far, weaken the contrary arguments : but where the arguments..on one hand are Itrong, and the objections on the contrary „very light, and such as may easily be answered, the - Weakness of the objections contributes to the strength of the argument for the other side of the question.

To come then to the business, I know but three objections which have any colour against this principle.

I. That the notion of a spirit, or an immaterial substance, does imply a contradiction.

Answ. 1. This is only.boldly said, and not the least colour of proof offered for it by the author that afferis it. This objection had indeed been considerable, if it had been made out as clearly, as it is confidently affirmed. In the mean time I think we may take leave to de.my, that the notion of a spirit hath any repugnancy in ijt, till some body think fit to prove it.

2. I told you that this question about the soul's im. mortality supposeth the existence of God to be already :proved ; and if there be a God, and it be an essential property of the divine nature, that he is a spirit, then ihere is such a thing as a spirit and immaterial subAtance, and consequently the notion of a spirit hashi ..no contradition in it: for if it had, there could be no such thing.

II. It is said, there is no express text for the Soul's i, immortality in the Old Testament,

Answ. This doth not properly belong to the intrinfical arguments and reason of the thing, but is matter of revelation. And this I shall fully speak to, whepi

come to shęw.what evidence the Jews had for the soul's rimmortality. In the mean time, this may be a fuffieientranswer to this objection, that there is no absolute

1

7

2

ne

necessity why it should be exprefly revealed in the old Testament, if it be, as I have shewn, a natural notion of our minds : for the scripture supposeth us to be men, and to have an antecedent notion of those truths whichi are implanted in our nature, and therefore chiefly defigns to teach us the way to that eternal happiness which we have a natural notion and hope of. The

III. Objection is from the near and intiinate sympathy which is between the soul and the body, which appears in the vigour and strength of our faculties; as understanding and memory do very much depend upon the temper and disposition of the body, and do usually decay and decline with it.

Answ. The utmost that this objection signifies, is, that there is an intimate union and conjunction between the soul and body, which is the cause of the sympathy which we find to be between them: but it does by no means prove, that they are one and the faine essence. Now, that there is such an intimate union and connexion between the soul and matter in all creatures endowed with life and sense is acknowledged by all who affirm the immateriality of fouls; though the manner of this union be altogether unknown to us; and supposing, such an union, it is but reasonable to ima. gine' that there should be such a sympathy, that the body fould be affected with the delights and difturbances of the mind, and that the foul should also take part in the pleasures and pains of the body, that by this means it may be effectually excited and stirred up to provide for the supply of our bodily wants and necef Gties; and from this sympathy, it is easy to give account how it comes to pass, that our faculties of understanding, and memory, and imagination, are more or less vigorous, according to the good or bad temper and dispolition of our bodies. For by the same reason that the mind may be grieved and afflicted at the pains and sufferings of the body, it may likewise be disordered and weakened in its operations by the distempers of the body. So that this, objection only proves the soul to be united to the body, but not to be the same thing with it,

SERM

« PreviousContinue »