« PreviousContinue »
discerning the confusion of sentiment, have, to relieve their own minds, advanced other hypotheses.
Nor should we wonder at it, that men are disagreed in their sense of the doctrine of immortality, or have clouded the views of a future state; when we consider, that some of the first principles of all religion have been, and yet are amazingly confounded.
Had not this been the case, we should never have heard of several opinions about God, which are abfolutely irreconcileable to reason, truth, and nature. But whilft many are industriously raising rocks of offence to the infidel world; folacing themselves in the gloomy, impenetrable shades of mystery ; a rational pleasure may be had, in proposing a sense of revelation, more
accommodate to the obvious documents of nature, or to the reason and understanding of man.
In the design of this survey, none can justly be offended; because it is presumed not to contradict one single doctrine of facts, as recorded or reported in the new testa
And the argument is conducted upon the basis of an universal expectation. Only some difference is understood to lye in the season and circumstances of the resurrection and judgment, which are not considered, or admitted in the several established, and vulgar schemes of interpretation.
If this metaphysical inquiry should be made plain and intelligible, if the doctrine of a futureftate should be rendered, in our views of it, less liable to dispute
and doubtings, a valuable end will be obtained ; and no small satisfaction given to the religious inquirer into the nature of the human soul, its departments, operations, and appointments. Some care and pains have been taken, to collect the whole strength of the argument for and against the immateriality and immortality.
Nor am I conscious of having misrepresented any of the reasonings, or of having omitted any of the fundamental principles, which I have met withal in a survey of those inquiries within mentioned. Moreover, from some late writings, wherein the mechanical hypothesis is advanced, it should seem, there will be found sufficient apology for this attempt. Efpecially, as it so feasonably pleads the cause of virtue, religion, and God.
Some are of opinion, that it is of no manner of moment or importance, whether the soul be material, or not; since its existence does equally depend on the good pleasure of the Creator.--We dispute not the dependence; yet, think it of considerable use and imporportance to us, that we can so far distinguish its nature, properties, powers, operations, and their tendencies, as to discern, that they must be widely different from those properties, impressions and motions which are purely mechanical. Thus, when we compare the design of Mr. Hume's essays, and the writings of fome other moderns, which are explaining away the first principles of morality, upon the merely mechanical system, the distinction will
be clear, and owned too as of vastly interesting importance.
Although it be likewise true, that men never began to doubt of the foul's immortality, until they began to philosophize on its phyfical and metaphysical faculties and powers, and its various excitements from the material, sensible world; yet, since this abusive consequence has actually taken place, it can never be amiss, that we attempt to state the force of the reasonings, and see how far the balance reaches in the argument. Nor need we be at all afraid, that the natural apprehenfions, or the hopes and fears of mankind, will be any other, when yiewed extensively, than an universal demonftration of the future existence of the human soul: since it is