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our Capacities, and Sphere of Perception and CHAP. of Action, may be much greater than at pre

1. sent. For as our Relation to our external Organs of Sense, renders us capable of existing in our present State of Sensation ; so it may be the only natural Hindrance to our existing, immediately and of course, in a higher State of Reflection. The Truth is, Reason does not at all shew us, in what State Death naturally leaves us. But were we sure, that it would suspend all our perceptive and active Powers; yet the Suspension of a Power and the Destruction of it, are Effects so totally different in Kind, as we experience from Sleep and a Swoon, that we cannot in any wise argue from one to the other ; or conclude even to the lowest Degree of Probability, that the same Kind of Force which is sufficient to suspend our Faculties, though it be increased ever so much, will be sufficient to destroy them.

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These Observations together may be sufficient to Thew, how little Presumption there is, that Death is the Destruction of human Creatures. However there is the Shadow of an Analogy, which may lead us to imagine Opinion perhaps Antoninus may allude in these Words, as vão οοιμένεις, πότε έμβρυον εκ της γασρος της γυναικός σε εξέλθη, έτως εκδίχε την ώραν ώ ή το ψυχάριον συ το ελύτης τότε εκπε- Tütar. Lib. IX. c. 3.

PAR Tit is; the supposed Likeness which is obser-
I. ved between the Decay of Vegetables, and of

living Creatures. And this Likeness is in-
deed sufficient to afford the Poets very apt
Allusions to the Flowers of the Field, in their ..-
Pictures of the Frailty of our present Life.
But in Reason, the Analogy is so far from
holding, that there appears no Ground even
for the Comparison, as to the present Quef-
tion : because one of the two Subjects com-
pared, is wholly void of That, which is the
principal and chief thing in the other, the
Power of Perception and of Action ; and
which is the only thing we are inquiring a-
bout the Continuance of. So that the De-
struction of a Vegetable, is an Event not fi-
milar or analogous to the Destruction of a
living Agent.

But if, as was above intimated, leaving off the delusive Custom of substituting Imagination in the Room of Experience, we would confine ourselves to what we do know and understand ; if we would argue only from That, and from That form our Expectations; it would appear at first Sight, that as no Probability of living beings ever ceasing to be so, can be concluded from the Reason of the thing; fo none can be collected from the Analogy of Nature ; because we cannot trace any living Beings beyond Death. But as we

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are conscious that we are endued with Capa-CHAP. edd cities of Perception and of Action, and are I. 1 living Persons; what we are to go upon is, m

that we shall continue so, till we foresee some he Accident or Event, which will endanger those

Capacities, or be likely to destroy us: which
Death does in no wise appear to be.

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And thus, when we go out of this World, we may pass into new Scenes, and a new State of Life and Action, juft as naturally as we came into the present. And this new State may naturally be a social one. And the Advantages of it, Advantages of every Kind, may naturally be bestowed, according to some fixt general Laws of Wisdom, upon every one in Proportion to the Degrees of his Virtue. And though the Advantages of that future natural State, should not be bestowed, as these of the present in some Measure are, by the Will of the Society ; but entirely by his more immediate Action, upon whom the whole Frame of Nature depends: Yet this Distribution may be just as natural, as their being distributed here by the Instrumentality of Men. And indeed, though one were to allow any confused undetermined Sense, which People please to put upon the Word natural, it would be a Shortness of Thought scarce credible, to imagine, that no System or Course of things can be fo, but only what we see

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PAR Tat present h: especially whilst the Probability

1. of a future Life, or the natural Immortality mof the Soul, is admitted upon the Evidence of

Reason ; because this is really both admitting
and denying at once, a State of Being diffe-
rent from the present to be natural. But the
only distinct Meaning of that Word is, fta-
ted, fixed, or settled : since what is natural, as
much requires and presupposes an intelligent
Agent to render it so, i. e, to effect it conti-
nually or at stated Times; as what is super-
natural or miraculous does to effect it for once.
And from hence it must follow, that Persons
Notion of what is natural, will be enlarged
in Proportion to their greater Knowledge of
the Works of God, and the Dispensations of
his Providence. Nor is there any Absurdity
in supposing, that there may be Beings in
the Universe, whose Capacities, and Know-
ledge, and Views, may be so extensive, as
that the whole Christian Dispensation may to
them appear natural, i. e. analogous or con-
formable to God's Dealings with other Parts
of his Creation; as natural as the visible known
Course of things appears to us.

For there
seems scarce any other possible Sense to be put
upon the Word, but that only in which it is
here used; similar, stated, or uniform.

See Part II. Ch. ii. p. 238, &c. & Part II. Ch. ii. P 276.

abilir

This Credibility of a future Life, which has CHAP. iced been here insisted upon, how little soever it I. tiro may satisfy our Curiosity, seems to answer

all the purposes of Religion, in like manner
as a demonstrative Proof would. Indeed a
Proof, even a demonstrative one, of a future
Life, would not be a Proof of Religion. For,
that we are to live Hereafter, is just as recon-

cileable with the Scheme of Atheism, and as er

well to be accounted for by it, as that we are
now alive, is: and therefore nothing can be
more absurd than to argue from That Scheme, ,

that there can be no future State. But as Reof ligion implies a future State, any Presumption

against such a State, is a Presumption against
Religion. And the foregoing Observations
remove all Presumptions of that Sort, and
prove, to a very considerable Degree of Pro.
bability, one fundamental Doctrine of Re-
ligion; which, if believed, would greatly
open and dispose the Mind seriously to attend
to the general Evidence of the whole.

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