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SERMON CLXXIII.

OF THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL, AS DISCOVERED BY NATURE, AND BY REVELATION.

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.—2 Tim. i. 10.

THE design of the apostle in these two Epistles to Timothy, is to direct him how he ought to demean himself, in the office which he bore in the church, which he does in the First Epistle: and to encourage him in his work; which he does here in the Second; in which, after his usual salutation, he endeavours to arm him against the fear of those persecutions, and the shame of those reproaches, which would probably attend him in the work of the gospel: (ver. 8.) “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God, who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling:” as if he had said, The God whom thou serves in this employment, and by whose power thou art strengthened, is he that “hath saved and called us with a holy calling;” that is, it is he who, by Jesus Christ, hath brought salvation to us, and called us to this holy profession; “not according to our works,” that is, not that -we, by any thing that we have done, have deserved this at his hand, “but according to his 521own purpose and grace,” that is, according to his own gracious purpose, “which was given in Christ before the world began;” that is, which from all eternity he decreed and determined to accomplish by Jesus Christ: “but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ;” that is, which gracious purpose of his is now clearly discovered, by our Saviour Jesus Christ’s coming into the world, “who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

Which words express to us two happy effects of Christ’s appearance: first, the abolishing of death; and, secondly, the bringing of “life and immortality to light.” In the handling of these words, I shall,

First, Open to you the meaning of the several expressions in the text.

Secondly, Shew what our Saviour Jesus Christ did towards the abolishing of death, and bringing to light life and immortality.

For the first, I shall shew,

I. What is here meant by “the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

II. What by the abolishing of death.

III. What by bringing to light life and immortality.

I. What is here meant by “the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The Scripture useth several phrases to express this thing to us. As it was the gracious design of God the Father, so it is called the giving of his Son, or sending him into the world. (John iii. 16.) “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.” (Ga. iv. 4.) “In the fulness of time God sent his Son.” 522As it was the voluntary undertaking of God the Son, so it is called his coming into the world. In relation to his incarnation, whereby he was made visible to us in his body, and likewise in reference to the obscure promises, and prophecies, and types of the Old Testament, it is called his manifestation, or appearance. So the apostle expresseth it, (1 John iii. 5.) “Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins;” by which we are to understand primarily his incarnation, his appearing in our nature, whereby he became visible to us. As he was God, he could not appear to us, “dwelling in light and glory, not to be approached” by us in this state of mortality, and therefore he clothed himself in flesh, that he might appear and become manifest to us.

I say, by his appearing, we are primarily to understand his incarnation: yet not only that, but likewise all that was consequent upon this, the actions of his life, and his death and resurrection; because all these concur to the producing of these happy effects mentioned in the text.

II. What is meant by the abolishing of death, By this we are not to understand that Christ, by his appearance, hath rooted death out of the world, so that men are no longer subject to it. For we see that even good men, and those who are partakers of the benefits of Christ’s death, are still subject to the common law of mortality; but this expression, of Christ’s having abolished death, signifies the conquest and victory which Christ hath gained over death in his own person, in that after he was dead, and laid in his grave, he rose again from the dead, he freed himself from the bands of death, and broke loose from the fetters of it, they not being able to 523hold him, as the expression is; (Acts ii. 24.) and consequently hath, by this victory over it, given us an assurance of a resurrection to a better life. For since Christ hath abolished death, and triumphed over it, and thereby over the powers of darkness; (for so the apostle tells us, that by his death, and that which followed it, his resurrection from the dead, “he hath destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil:” the devil, he contributed all he could to the death of Christ, by tempting Judas to betray him, and engaging all his instruments in the procuring of it; as he had before brought in death into the world, by tempting the first man to sin, upon which death ensued; thus far he prevailed, and thought his kingdom was safe, having procured the death of him who was so great an enemy to it; but Christ, by rising from the dead, defeats the devil of his design, and plainly conquers him, who had arrogated to himself the power of death;) I say, since Christ hath thus vanquished death, and triumphed over it, and him that had the power of it, death hath lost its dominion, and Christ hath taken the whole power and disposal of it; as you find, Rev. i. 18. “I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death.” Now Christ hath not only thus conquered death for himself, but likewise for all those who believe on him; so that death shall not be able to keep them for ever under its power: but Christ, by the same power whereby he raised up himself from the dead, will also “quicken our mortal bodies,” and raise them up to a new life; for he keeps “the keys of hell and death;” and, as a reward of his sufferings and submission to death, he hath power conferred upon him, to give eternal 524life to as many as he pleases. In this sense, death, though it be not quite chased out of the world, yet it is virtually and in effect abolished by the appearance of Jesus Christ, having, in a great measure, lost its power and dominion; and since Christ hath assured us of a final rescue from it, the power of it is rendered insignificant and inconsiderable, and the sting and terror of it is taken away. So the apostle tells us in the forementioned place, (Heb. ii. 14, 15.) that Christ having, “by death, destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, he hath delivered those who, through fear of death, were all their life-time subject to bondage.” And not only the power and terror of death is, for the present, in a great measure, taken away; but it shall at last be utterly destroyed. So the apostle tells us; (1 Cor. xv. 26.) “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death;” which makes the apostle, in the latter end of this chapter, to break forth into that triumph: (ver. 54, 55.) “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

III. What is here meant by bringing “life and immortality to light.” Life and immortality is here by a frequent Hebraism put for immortal life; as also, immediately before the text, you find purpose and grace, put for God’s gracious purpose. The phrase of bringing to light, is spoken of things which were before either wholly, or in a great measure hid, either were not at all discovered before, or not so clearly. Now, because the heathens, by the light of nature, bad some probable conjectures and 525hopes concerning another life after this, they were in some measure persuaded, that when men died they were not wholly extinguished, but did pass into another world, and did there receive rewards suited to their carriage and demeanour in this life; and because the Jews also, before Christ, had these natural suggestions and hopes strengthened and confirmed by revelations, which God made unto them under the Old Testament therefore we cannot understand this phrase of Christ’s bringing immortal life to light absolutely, as if it were wholly a new discovery, which the world had no apprehension of before; but only comparatively, as a thing which was now rendered, by the coming of Christ into the world, incomparably more evident and manifest. Quicquid enim philosophi, quicquid rabini ea de re dicunt, tenebræ sunt, si ad evangelii lucem comparentur: “Whatever the philosophers, whatever the rabbins, say of this matter, is but darkness, compared to the clear light and revelation of the gospel.” I proceed to the

Second thing I proposed; viz. To shew what Christ’s coming into the world hath done towards the abolishing of death, and the bringing of “life and immortality to light.” I shall speak distinctly to these two:

I. What Christ’s appearance and coming into the world hath done towards the abolishing of death, or how death is abolished by the appearance of Christ. I have already shewn in the explication, that this phrase, the abolishing of death, signifies the conquest which he made over death in his own person for himself; the fruit of which victory redounds to us. For in that Christ, by his Divine power, did conquer it, and set himself free from the 526bands of it, this shews that the power of it is now brought into other hands, that “Christ hath the keys of hell and death;” so that though the devil, by tempting to sin, brought death into the world, yet it shall not be in his power to keep men always tinder the power of it; and hereby the terror of this great enemy is in a good measure taken away, and he shall at last be totally destroyed, by the same hand that hath already given him his mortal wound.

Now this is said to be done by the appearing of Jesus Christ, forasmuch as, by his coming into the world, and taking our nature upon him, he became capable of encountering this enemy, and overcoming him, in such a manner, as might give us assurance of a final victory over it, and for the present comfort and encourage us against the fears of it. For,

1. By taking our nature upon him, he became subject to the frailties and miseries of mortality, and liable to the suffering of death, by which expiation of sin was made. Sin was the cause of death. So the apostle tells us; “By man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so that death came upon all.” Now the way to cure this malady which was come upon our nature, and to remove this great mischief which was come into the world, is by taking away the meritorious cause of it, which is the guilt of sin. Now this Christ hath taken away by his death. Christ, that he might abolish death, hath appeared for the abolition of sin. So the apostle tells us; (Heb. ix. 26-28.) “But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,” εἰς ἀθέτησιν ἁμαρτίας, “for the abolishing of sin;” and to shew that this was intended as a remedy of the great mischief and in convenience of mortality, which sin had brought 527upon mankind, the apostle immediately adds, in the next verse, that “as it is appointed unto all men once to die, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;” and by his means the sting of death is taken away, and death in effect conquered; the consideration of which makes the apostle break out into that thankful triumph, (1 Cor. xv. 55-57.) “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2. As Christ, by taking our nature upon him, be came capable of suffering death, and thereby making expiation for sin; so by dying he became capable of rising again from the dead, whereby he hath gained a perfect victory and conquest over death and the powers of darkness. And this account the apostle gives us of Christ’s taking our nature upon him, as being one of the principal ends and designs of it: (Heb. ii. 14-16.) “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” that is, that, by taking our nature upon him, he might be capable of encountering this enemy, that is, of encountering death in his own territories, and beating him in his own quarters; and by rising out of his grave, he might give us full and comfortable assurance of the possibility of being rescued from the power of the grave, and recovered out of the jaws of death. And therefore the wisdom of God pitched upon this way, as that which was most fit and proper to encourage and bear us up against the terrors of this enemy; and by giving us a lively instance and example of a 528victory over death, achieved by one clothed with mortality like ourselves, “we might have strong consolation and good hope through grace,” and might be fully assured that he, who hath conquered this enemy for himself, was able also to conquer him for us, and to deliver us from the grave. Therefore the apostle reasons from the fitness and suitableness of this dispensation, as if no other argument could have been so proper to arm us against the fears of death, and to satisfy us that we should not always be held under the power of it; “Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, and deliver them who through the fear of death,” &c. The force of which argument is this: that seeing men are of a mortal nature (for that he means by being “partakers of flesh and blood,”) nothing can be a greater comfort to us against the fears of death, than to see death conquered by flesh and blood, by one of the same nature with ourselves. Therefore the apostle adds, (ver. l6.) “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham.” If he had assumed the angelical nature, which is immortal, this would not have been so sensible a conviction to us of the possibility of it, as to have a lively instance and example presented us, of one in our nature conquering death, and triumphing over the grave. I proceed to the

II. Second thing, What Christ hath done towards the bringing of “life and immortality to light.” And because I told you that this is comparatively spoken, and signifies to us a greater degree of evidence, and a firmer assurance given us by the Christian religion, 529than the world had before, therefore it will be requisite to inquire into these two things:

First, What assurance men had or might have had of the immortality of the soul and a future state, before the coming of Christ into the world, and the revelation of the gospel.

Secondly, What greater evidence, and what higher degree of assurance, the gospel now gives us of immortal life; what greater arguments this new revelation and discovery of God to the world doth furnish us with, to persuade us of this matter, than the world was acquainted withal before.

First, What assurance men had or might have had of the immortality of the soul, and consequently of a future state, before the revelation of the gospel by Christ’s coming into the world. And here are two things distinctly to be considered.

First, What arguments natural reason doth furnish us withal to persuade us of this principle, that our souls are immortal, and that there is another state remains for men after this life.

Secondly, What assurance de facto the world had of this principle, before Christ’s coming into the world: what the heathens, and what the Jews, had. The reason why I shall speak to these distinctly, is, because they are two very different inquiries—what assurance men might have had from the principles of natural reason concerning this matter, and what assurance they had de facto. I begin with the

First, What arguments natural reason doth furnish us withal to persuade us to this principle, that our souls are immortal, and consequently that another state remains for men after this life. And here I shall shew,

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I. How much may be said for it.

II. How little can be said against it. But before I come to speak particularly to the arguments, which natural reason affords us for the proof of this principle, I shall premise certain general considerations, which may give light and force to the following arguments. As,

First, By the soul we mean a part of man distinct from his body, or a principle in him which is not matter. I choose rather to describe it this way, than by the essential properties of it, which are hard to fix upon, and are more remote from common apprehension. Our Saviour, when he would convince his disciples, after his resurrection, that the body wherein he appeared to them was a real body, and that he was not a spirit or apparition, he bids them touch and handle him; “For (says he) a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me to have.” So that by the soul or spirit of a man, we mean some principle in man, which is really distinct from his visible and sensible part, from all that in man which affects our outward senses, and which is not to be described by any sensible and external qualities, such as we use to describe a body by: because it is supposed to be of such a nature, as does not fall under the cognizance and notice of any of our senses. And therefore I describe it, by removing from it all those qualities and properties which belong to that which falls under our senses; viz. that it is some thing in man distinct from his body, a principle in him which is not matter; that principle which is the cause of those several operations, which, by inward sense and experience, we are conscious to ourselves of; such are perception, understanding, memory, will. So that the most plain and popular notion 531that we can have of the soul is, that it is some thing in us which we never saw, and which is the cause of those effects which we find in ourselves; it is the principle whereby we are conscious to ourselves, that we perceive such and such objects, that we see, or hear, or perceive any thing by any other sense; it is that whereby we think and remember, whereby we reason about any thing, and do freely choose and refuse such things as are presented to us. These operations every one is conscious to himself of, and that which is the principle of these, or the cause from whence these proceed, is that which we mean by the soul.

Secondly, By the immortality of the soul, I mean nothing else, but that it survives the body, that when the body dies and falls to the ground, yet this principle, which we call the soul, still remains and lives separate from it; that is, there is still a part of us which is free from the fate of the body, and continues to perform all those operations, to the performance of which the organs of the body are not necessary; that is, when our bodies are destitute of life, and become a dead carcass, there is still some thing that did belong to us, which retains the power of understanding, which thinks, and reasons, and remembers, and does all these freely.

Thirdly, That he that goes about to prove the soul’s immortality, supposeth the existence of a Deity, that there is a God. For although there be a very intimate and strict connexion between the two principles as to us, as being these two great pillars of all religion; yet that which is first and most fundamental to all religion, is the existence of a God; which, if it be not first proved, the best arguments for the soul’s immortality lose their force. 532Therefore, as to the present argument, I suppose the being of God as a thing acknowledged, and not now to be proved; which I may the better do, having formerly endeavoured to make good this grand principle of religion, against the pretensions of the atheists.

Fourthly, The existence of a God being supposed, this doth very much facilitate the other, of the soul’s immortality. For this being an essential property of that Divine nature, that he is a spirit, that is, something that is not matter; it being once granted that God is, thus much is gained, that there is such a thing as a spirit, an immaterial substance, that is not liable to die or perish; so that he that goes about to prove the immortality of the soul, shall not need to prove that there may be such a thing as a spirit, that the notion of an immaterial substance does not imply a contradiction; because, supposing that there is a God, who is essentially a spirit, there can be no doubt of the possibility of such a thing as a spirit; and though there be this difference between God and all other spirits, that he is an infinite spirit, whereas others are but finite; yet no man that grants the existence of an infinite spirit, can with any pretence or colour of reason deny the possibility of a finite spirit.

Fifthly, and lastly, It is highly reasonable that men should acquiesce and rest satisfied in such reasons and arguments for the proof of any thing, as the nature of the thing to be proved will bear; because there are several kinds and degrees of evidence, which all things are not equally capable of. It is sufficient that the evidence be such as the nature of the thing to be proved will admit of, and such as prudent men make no scruple to admit for sufficient 533evidence for things of the like nature, and such as, supposing the thing to be, we cannot ordinarily expect better, or greater evidence for it.

There are two kinds of evidences, which are the highest and most satisfactory that this world affords to us; and those are, the evidence of sense, and mathematical demonstration. Now there are many things, concerning which the generality of men profess themselves to be well satisfied, which do not afford either of these kinds of evidence. There is none of us but doth firmly believe that we were born, though we do not remember any such thing; no man’s memory does furnish him with the testimony of his senses for this matter, nor can any man prove this by a mathematical demonstration, nor by any necessary argument, so as to shew it impossible that the thing should be otherwise. For it is possible that a man may come into the world otherwise, than by the ordinary course of generation, as the first man did, who was created immediately by God; and yet I know no man in the world who doubts in the least concerning this matter, though he have no other argument for it, but the testimony of others, and his own observation, how other persons like himself came into the world. And it is reasonable to acquiesce in this evidence, because the nature of the thing affords no greater. We, who never were at Jerusalem, do firmly believe that there is such a place, upon the testimony and relation of others: and no man is blamed for this, as being over-credulous; because no man, that will not take the pains to go thither, can have any other greater evidence of it, than the general testimony of those who say they have seen it. And indeed almost all human affairs, I am sure the most important, are governed and 534conducted by such evidence, as falls very much short, both of the evidence of sense and of mathematical demonstration.

To apply this then to my present purpose. That the soul of man is of an immortal nature, is not capable of all kinds and degrees of evidence. It can not be proved by our senses, nor is it reasonable to expect it should be so proved; because the soul is supposed, by every one that discourseth of it, to be a thing of such a nature, as cannot be seen or handled, or fall under any other of our senses: nor can it be proved to us by our own experience, while we are in this world; because whoever dies, which is the only trial that can be made whether our souls remain after our bodies, goes out of this world. As for mathematical demonstration, the nature of the thing renders it incapable of it. It remains, then, that we rest contented with such arguments as the nature of the thing will bear, and with such evidence as men are contented to accept of, and do account sufficient, in other matters: such evidence, as a prudent considering man, who is not credulous on the one hand, and on the other is not prejudiced by any interest against it, would rest satisfied in.

Having premised these general considerations to clear my way, I now come to speak to the particular arguments, whereby the immortality of the soul may be made out to our reason. And the best way to estimate the force of the arguments which I shall bring for it, will be to consider beforehand with ourselves what evidence we can, in reason, expect for a thing of this nature. Suppose our souls be immortal; by what kind of arguments could we desire to be assured of it? Setting aside miracles 535and Divine revelation, could we desire more than this?

I. That the thing be a natural notion and dictate of our minds.

II. That it doth not contradict any other principle that nature hath planted in us, but does very well accord and agree with all other the most natural notions of our minds.

III. That it be suitable to our natural fears and hopes.

IV. That it tends to the happiness of man, and the good order and government of the world.

V. That it gives the most rational account of all those inward actions which we are conscious to ourselves of, as perception, understanding, memory, will; which we cannot, without great unreasonableness, ascribe to matter as the cause of them. If all these be thus, as I shall endeavour to make it appear they are, what greater satisfaction could we desire to have of the immortality of our souls, than these arguments give us? I do not say that any one of these arguments doth sufficiently conclude this thing; nor is it necessary, that, taken singly and by themselves, they should do it; it is sufficient that they concur to make up one entire argument, which may be a sufficient evidence of the soul’s immortality. To illustrate this by an instance: suppose a man should use these two arguments, to prove that such a man deserves to be credited in such a relation:—first, because he had sufficient knowledge of the thing he relates; and, secondly, because he is a man of integrity and fidelity. Neither of these alone would prove the man to be worthy of credit, though both together make up a good argument. So it is in these arguments which I have 536produced; it may be no one of them is a sufficient inducement, taken singly and by itself, to satisfy a man fully that the soul is immortal; and yet they may concur together to make a very powerful argument. I begin with the

I. First, That our souls are of an immortal nature, that they do not die and perish with our bodies, but pass into another state upon the dissolution of our bodies, is a natural notion and dictate of our minds. That I call a natural notion, which the minds of all men do naturally hit upon and agree in, notwithstanding the distance and remoteness of the several parts of the world from one another, notwithstanding the different tempers, and manner and ways of education. The only way to measure whether any thing be natural or not, is by inquiring, whether it agree to the whole kind or not: if it do, then we call it natural. Omnium consensus naturæ vox est, “The consent of all is the voice of nature,” says Tully, speaking of the universal agreement of all nations in this apprehension, that the souls of men remain after their bodies. And this he tells us he looks upon as a very great argument: Maximum vere argumentum est, naturam ipsam de immortalitate animarum tacitam judicare, quod omnibus curæ sint, et maxime quidem, quæ post mortem futura sunt: “This is a very great argument, that nature doth secretly, and in men’s silent thoughts, deter mine the immortality of the soul, that all men are solicitous of what shall become of them after death.” Nescio quomodo inhæret in mentibus quasi seculorum quoddam augurium futurorum, idque in maximis ingeniis altissimisque animis et existit maxime et apparet facillime: “I know not how (saith he) there sticks in the mind a certain kind of presage of a future 537state, and this is most deeply fixed, and discovers itself soonest in the choicest spirits.” Again the same author, Ut deos esse natura opinamur, sic permanere animos arbitramur consensu nationum omnium: “As this opinion is planted in us by nature, that there is a God, by the consent of all nations we believe that souls remain after the body.” I might multiply testimonies to this purpose out of the ancient heathen writers; but these which I have produced out of this great author are so plain and express, that I need bring no other.

As for those barbarous nations which have been discovered in these latter ages of the world, and which, before the first planting of America, were never known to have held correspondence with these parts of the world, yet all those nations agree in this principle, of the immortality of the soul; nay, even the most barbarous of those nations, those who are most inhuman and eat one another, those of Joupinamboult, in Brasil, who are said by some authors, but I think not upon sufficient grounds, not to acknowledge the being of a God; yet even these (as Lerius tells us, who lived among them) had a very fixed and firm persuasion of this principle of religion, the immortality of the soul. “There is not (says he) any nation in the world more remote from all religion than these were; yet to shew that there is some light in the midst of this darkness, I can (says he) truly affirm, that they have not only some apprehensions of the immortality of the soul, but a most confident persuasion of it. Their opinion (says he) is, that the souls of stout and valiant men after death fly beyond the highest mountains, and there are gathered to their fathers and grandfathers, and live in pleasant gardens, with all 538manner of delights; but the souls of slothful and in active men, and those who do nothing for their country, are carried to Aygman (so they call the devil) and live with him in perpetual torments.” The like Xaverius and others, who laboured in the conversion of the remote parts of the East Indies, tell us concerning those nations, that they found them generally possessed with this principle, of the soul’s immortality.

Now what will we call a natural notion, if not that which mankind, in all places of the world, in all ages, so far as history informs, did universally agree in? What evidence greater than this can any man give, to shew that any thing is natural? And if we believe a God (which I told you I do all along in this argument suppose to be already proved), can we imagine that this wise and good God would plant such a notion and apprehension in the understandings of men, as would put an universal cheat and delusion upon human nature?

And that the universal consent of all nations in this principle cannot be resolved either into the fears and groundless jealousy and superstition of human nature, nor into universal tradition, which had its original from some impostor, nor into reason and policy of state, I might shew particularly: but, having formerly done that, concerning the universal consent of all nations in the belief of a God, and the reason being the very same, as to this principle of the immortality of the soul, I shall not need to do this over again upon this argument.

And that some persons, and particular sects in the world, have disowned this principle, is no sufficient objection against it. It cannot be denied, but the Epicureans among the philosophers did renounce 539this principle; and some also among the stoics do speak doubtfully of it. The Sadducees, likewise, among the Jews fell into this error, upon a mistake and misapprehension of the doctrine of their master, Sadoc, who, as Josephus tells us, did use to inculcate this principle to his scholars, that though there were no rewards nor punishments after this life, yet men ought to be good and live virtuously; from whence, in process of time, by heat of opposition against the pharisees, who brought in oral tradition, and made it equal with the written word of God, they fell into that error, and denied the soul’s immortality, not finding such clear texts for it in the Old Testament as to them did seem fully convincing of this truth. Xaverius likewise tells us, that among the several sects of religion which he found in Japan, there was one which denied the immortality of the soul, and that there were any spirits; but he says they were a sort of notoriously wicked and vicious persons.

To these instances, which are so few, and bear no proportion to the generality of mankind, I have these two things to say:

1. That no argument can be drawn a monstro ad naturam. A thing may be natural, and yet some instances may be brought to the contrary: but these are but few in comparison, and like monsters, which are no argument against nature. No man will deny that it is natural for men to have two eyes, and five fingers upon a hand; though there are several instances of men born but with one eye, and with four or six fingers.

2. But especially in matters of religion and discourse, which are subject to liberty, men may offer violence to nature, and, to gratify their lusts and 540interests, may by false reasonings debauch their understanding, and by long striving against the natural bent and bias of it, may alter their apprehensions of things, and persuade others to the same: but nothing that is against nature can prevail very far, but nature will still be endeavouring to recover itself, and to free itself from the violence which is offered to it. So that men’s understandings, left to themselves, and not having some false bias put upon them, out of a design of pride, and singularity in opinion, which was the case of Epicurus; or out of the interest of some lust, and a design to set men at liberty to sin, which is the case of most who have renounced this principle: I say, nothing but one of these two can ordinarily make men deny the immortality of the soul. Thus I have done with the first argument; namely, that the immortality of the soul is a natural notion and dictate of our minds.

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