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rality of Persons agreeing in this apVolume prehension, which cannot be attribuXII. ted reasonably to any other Cause,
than to impressions stamp'd upon our
As for the other two Principles of Natural Religion, the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State; after we believe a God, we may be perswaded of these from Divine Revelation; and that doth give us the highest and firmest assurance of them in the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead. Yet I do not find but that these also are rather suppos'd, than exprefly reveald in the Bible. Indeed the Immortality of the Soul may be inferd from several places of Scripture, and the tenour of the whole Bible: and so a Future State, which, as for the thing it self, seems to be supposed as
a thing acknowledged by Natural Light; only the Scripture hath re
Sermon veal'd the circumstances of it more
II. particularly to us, and given us higher assurance of the thing: but if there were no Revelation, Men might be perswaded of these; and so the Heathens were by Arguments drawn partly from the operations of the Soul, which would almost perswade any Man that the Soul is Immortal; it being altogether unimaginable how a Principle that is nothing else but Matter, can either understand, or determine it self by its own Will ; all the motions of Matter that we know of, or can imagine, being necessary: and partly from the Justice and Goodness of God. The consideration of God's Goodness would perswade a Man, that as he made all things very good, so he made them of the longest duration they were capable of: and the Justice of God would easily induce a Man to believe, feeing the Providence of God doth generally in this Life deal promiscuouily with good and bad Men, that there shall be a Day which will D3
make a difference, and every Man shall Volume receive according to his works. XII.
But I do not intend to insist upon these Arguments; all that I design, is, to shew what kind of Arguments do work a Faith and Perswafion in Men concerning these Principles of Natural Religion: and they are Reasons drawn from the thing.
And it is not always necessary to the working of this Faith and Perswasion, that these Reasons should necessarily, yea or truly conclude the Principle to be believed: if they do it probably, and it appear fo to me, it is enough to beget a perswasion in me of such a thing. There are many Men entertain the greatest Truths, and are firmly perswaded of them, upon an incompetent Argument, and such as might perswade them of any thing else as well; and such Persons, if they have Capacity and Understanding, they are rather Happy than Wise in their Religion.
It falls out well that they happen to be in the right; for they might have been in the wrong upon the fame terms. But if
the Persons who believe the Principles of Religion upon insufficient Ar-Sermon guments, and their belief have a real II. effect upon them, as it will if it be true and permanent; if they be Ig. norant, and such as want the ordinary advantages of improving their knowledge, they are wise enough; that is, they are as wise as God's Providence hath made them, and the Circumstances of their Education, and the Condition of their Life will let them be.
The III. thing to be enquir’d is, Whether this Faith or Perswasion of the Principles of Natural Religion admit degrees, or not? and what differences are observable in them? That it does admit degrees, that is, that a Man may be more or less perswaded of the Truth of these Principles, is evident from the Heathens; some of whom did yield a more firm and unshaken assent to them; others entertain’d them with a more faint perswasion of them, especially of the Immortality of the Soul, and a Future State, about which most of them had many qualms and doubts. Of all
Volume the Heathens, Socrates seems to have
had the truest and firineft perswalion
not know whether his Soul shall re-
it, that he was very willing to ven
ture his Life upon these hopes. Which words, tho' they seem to be spoke doubtingly, as the manner of the Academy was; yet considering his manner of speaking, which was modest, and not peremptory and dogmatical, they signifie as great a confidence as he had of any thing, and they are high expressions of assurance, For we may believe that the Man who dies for any thing, how modestly foever he may express himself, is very well assured of the truth of it. So that this Faith and Perswasion admits of degrees, the difference whereof is to be resolv'd partly into the capa