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"worms destroy this body, yet in my flefh fhall I fee God: whom "I shall fee for myself, and mine eyes fhall behold, and not an"other; though my reins be confumed within me." Innumerable other places of like import will, doubtless, occur to every one who is converfant with holy writ. In short, were not this the foundation-stone, religion would become contemptible, and no one would pay the leaft regard to her divine precepts, without fome finifter ends of worldly interest and advantage. From all which, it is prefumed we may safely draw this conclufion, that the being of a God and a life after this, were truths none were able or willing to conteft in the days of Mofes, and therefore arguments to prove what was then fo little doubted would have been altogether needlefs.
HAVING thus fhewn, that the Jews could be in no doubt of a future ftate, it will be a further confirmation of the doctrine in question, if we can demonstrate that all nations in general have entertained very distinct and adequate ideas of this truth. This, we hope to establish beyond difpute, before we clofe our discourse.At present, we will venture to affirm, that it is neither a matter of prieftcraft, as the licentious are ever ready to fuggeft; nor the wild imagination of bigotted enthusiasts; neither hath it been confined to any age or climate; but has been the firm opinion of all ages; as univerfal as light itfelf; and men as different in cuftoms, as diftant in fituation all concur to own this fundamental tenet. The most barbarous nations, who have little more than' fhape to entitle them to humanity, have yet fome conceptions, though dark and confused indeed of a Deity, and a future ftate :-now artifice and delufion can never be the cause of such concurrent confent; people, fo far remote, could never join in one common deceit; from whence it follows, that either they must have gained it from revelation, or else it must be the univerfal voice of nature. If from the former, then the
dispute is at an end;—and if it is implanted in our natures, we see God does nothing in vain; and we are led into this hope, as the animal world are to the choice of such peculiar food as is proper for them. Having drawn this natural conclufion from what has been already faid, we think there will want nothing further to confirm the fober enquirer in this great point, than to fhew, that the wiseft men in all ages, and in all nations, have acknowledged a future state. Are not the repeated recommendations of virtue and piety which may be met with in numberless heathen writers indifputable teftimonies of the univerfality of this doctrine. "Zeno the Stoick "used to say, that he had rather fee one SAVAGE devote himself chearfully to the flames, through a strong perfuafion of the im"mortality of the foul, and of a better world in regions unknown, "than to hear the florid declamations of a thousand philofophers in "its behalf.—I will facrifice all my fubftance, nay my life itself, " fays an ancient author, to maintain the laws of justice." Now what would justice be but a vain name were there no life. after this?" I had rather, fays another, be, than feem honeft." But for what reason, were not his virtue to be rewarded hereafter. These, and fuch as these, are the common expreffions, even of those that affect to speak doubtfully of a future ftate. Thus they deny a principle; but grant a confequence from it; like one that first burns himself, and then affirms there can be no heat in fire..
But to put this matter beyond all dispute, we shall beg your patience, whilst we felect fome few paffages from the ancients who fpeak more plainly, and in more direct terms, on the subject before us.— And this we shall the more chearfully enter upon, as it will furnsh the attentive hearer with frequent opportunities of reflecting on that harmony and agreement which they will fometimes find between thofe that wrote from the dictates of nature only, and those who were guided by the influence of the holy Spirit; and we alfo hope they. will accompany their reflections with this useful inference, namely,
that fuch a conformity of fentiinents in writers of different nations, and different faiths, undeniably confirms the truth of what Mofes afferts, namely, that we all sprang from one common stock; that our first parents were taught their duty from God himself; that they delivered it to their children, who, in process of time, were fcattered and difperfed over the face of the whole earth; and that ftill they retained a knowledge of fome truths by uninterrupted tradition.
HERMES tells us," At the command of God, the elements produced a vast variety of plants, &c. but that God created man "like himself; caressed him with the tenderness and indulgence of “a father, as he was exceedingly beautiful, and the express image “of his person; and constituted him the Lord of the brute crea"tion." He exhorts men, therefore, to abftract themselves from their bodies, as the cause of their death, and to cultivate their fouls which are capable of immortality;--to claim kindred with heaven, and avoid the fnares of fenfe; to retire within themselves, and, by complying with the divine will, commence a kind of gods. Difengage thyfelf, fays he, from that body which thou "carriest with thee; that garment of ignorance, that foundation "of depravity, that bond of corruption, that living death, that por"table grave, and domeftic robber, which flatters because it hates, and hates because it envies; which, as long as it lives, deprives thee of thy true life, and is thy most formidable ad"versary."
As much, however, as he inveighs against, and depreciates the: body, who would chearfully fubmit to death, were it not for the hope of another, and better life?-In another place, he says, "the foul is the garment of the mind, and the garment of the "foul, a certain fubtle fpirit, by which it is united to the body. "And the understanding is properly the man, that is a divine ani"mal,, with whom the brutes are not to be compared; nay it is a
queftion whether he does not excel the gods themselves, who cannot defcend to earth, without quitting their celestial mansions; "whereas he measures heaven, without forfaking his earthly tabernacle; so that, in truth, he is a kind of a mortal god, and they of immortal men."-And he concludes,-man's body is mortal, his foul immortal; and the fubftantial and true man is inftan"taneoufly produced by the Supreme Being as light by the fun."And Chalcidius reports, that, at his death, he used this expreffion; "I am returning to my native country, where my best parents "and relations dwell."
We have only fome fragments of ZOROASTER, who was a more ancient author than Hermes; yet he is reported to have held, not only the immortality of the foul, but the refurrection of the body likewife. And the oracles of the WISE MEN OF CHALDEA, who were his difciples and adherents plainly intimate as much. "Return, without delay, fays one to your heavenly father, who has infused "in you a foul from above, endued with a bright understanding.” "Seek heaven, fays another, which is the proper habitation for the foul." And a third fays;-"The foul has the Deity, as it were, "within it, and is no ways liable to mortality." A fourth declares, "It is a bright flame produced by the Father, who is in heaven; "that it is incorruptible, and almost contains the vaft universe "within it--and at length afferts, that the bodies of the righteous "fhall be glorified hereafter."-All these oracles are mentioned by the Platonifls; but more particularly by Pfellus. They likewife acknowledged, that Pythagoras and Plato learned them from the Chaldeans; and fome think, that PLATO referred to them, when he fays, we must believe what the ancient holy oracles have de"clared ;-namely, that the foul is immortal, and must give an ac"count of itself to God in the future ftate."-We can fcarce fay more; who live under the Gospel, which has brought life and immortality to light.
Thus fings HOMER-through his inimitable Translator.
" 'Tis true, 'tis certain; man, tho' dead, retains
POPE'S ILIAD. Book XXIII,
"Now I the ftrength of HERCULES behold,
"A fhadowy form! for high in heav'ns abodes
"He nectar quaffs, and HEBE crowns with joys.
ODYSS.. Book XI.
A variety of fimilar paffages might be adduced not only from his fublime works but alfo from the writings of ORPHEUS, HESIOD, PINDAR, and the reft of the ancient poets, which would abundantly demonftrate that the doctrine of a future ftate was universally received in the ages and countries wherein they lived. PYTHAGORAS was of the fame opinion, and held, that the foul was united to the body as a punishment for such fins as were committed in a state of pre-existence-And it is conjectured by many, that he did not hold a transmigration of fouls, notanding that doctrine cannot be faid to be repugnant to the immortality of the foul-Ang mæus of Locres, one of his difciples, affirms, that his mafter did not hold it. However that be in his verfes he teaches, that man is of an heavenly extraction, and that he was fent into this world. to contemplate the Deity-One of his difciples fays, "that God inspired man with reafon." Another, that the ancient divines and prophets held, that the foul was united to, and, as it were,