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monitions of conscience declares the certainty of a state of future retribution both to the just and the unjust? This St. Paul very clearly declares to be his opinion : “ The Gentiles,” says he," which have not the law, (that is, of “ Moses,) are a law unto themselves, and shew $6 the work of the law written in their hearts, “ their conscience also bearing witness, and " their thoughts the mean time accusing or else “ excusing one another, in the day when God “shall judge the secrets of all men.” And surely we cannot be absurd enough to suppose, that a merciful Being would thus implant in his creatures expectations which should never be fulfilled ;, that he should elude the just with hopes of a reward that should never be bestowed, or terrify the wicked with a dread of punishments which he never meant to inflict,
Besides these suggestions of conscience, every man has in the constitution of his nature other principles, which will not suffer him to doubt of his future existence. For to what
would it have been to have endued him with freedom of choice and strength of reason, if he were doomed to lie down in eternal insensibility with the beasts that perish? Why should he have been distinguished from the trees of the forest or the flowers of the field, if, like them, after
flourishing a few days, he should be cut down, dried up and withered ? Had this been the case, we should have had but too much reason to join with the pathetic lamentation of Job; that while the plants and flowers of the field are reg newed at the approach of spring, yet when man goeth down to the grave, he sinks into everlast ing night, and never riseth more. “ For there “ is hope,” says he, “ of a tree, if it be cut “ down, that it will sprout again, and that the " tender branch thereof will not cease: though " the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the “ stock die in the ground; yet through the “ scent of the water it will bud, and bring forth " boughs like a plant: But man dieth and “ wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, " and where is he?" Or, as the same thought is elegantly expressed in a Greek epitaph of very remote antiquity :
Alas! the tender herbs and flow'ry tribes,
* Moschus epit. Bion.
· But the voice of reason speaks better things than these : it tells us, that as man is distin, guished here by these superior abilities from the rest of the creation; so also he is raised by them to higher hopes and expectations hereafter : it tells us, that it is impossible that God should have given him such noble faculties for no better purpose than to make him the tyrant of this lower world ; but that as his conduct is directed and regulated by the free determinations of his own will, so he must be answerable for that conduct at the bar of a superior judge.
This is a conclusion so reasonable and evident, that we find it has not escaped the notice of the most unenlightened nations of antiquity. They had their infernal judges, their Tartarean cells, and Elysian fields; which, however adulterated with fable and impregnated with falsehood, and differing in circumstances, yet, consenting in the same fundamental opinion of a life after this, do plainly shew, that it is agreeable to the natural notions of sense and reason, that man is an immortal and accountable being, and must" stand or fall by the sentence of a future judgment,
But it may here perhaps be asked, if this doctrine be so clear and evident to unassisted req
son, whence is it that we find so many doubts and so much uncertainty about it in the writings of many of the wisest men of antiquity? I answer with St. Paul, that this was a punishment inflicted upon them by God for that gross corruption and idolatry which, they continually practised against the clear light of natural information. “ Because that when they knew God " they glorified him not as God, neither were 6thankful, but became vain in their imagina« tions, and their foolish heart was darkened ; “ professing themseļves to be wise, they be" came fools.” . .
And even if we suppose, as some have done, that this universal consent of nations with regard to the expectation of a future judgment was not derived from the deductions of reason, but borrowed from some unknown and far-distant tradition, still this conclusion would be equally strong and cogent. For since all nations continued to embrace and approve this opinion, even after the tradition upon which it is supposed to have been founded was lost and obliterated, it is plain that it inust have been, if not, originally derived from reason, yet at least agreeable to its clearest and genuine dictates,
To me, however, this supposition of some unknown tradition delivered to the early ages of the world seems a very unnecessary, and therefore a very improbable, one. The natural perspicuity of a judgment to come seems too strong to require to be enforced by any additional evidence, unless that evidence had also brought with it some farther discovery of the nature and circumstances of it. But surely it required not the aid of tradition, the wisdom of a Pythagoras, or the sagacity of a Socrates to discover that man's existence could not terminate with the present scene of things. For let us only suppose any coinmon virtuous heathen, when he found himself spent with age and drooping towards the grave, to take a survey of his past life; what conclusions must he draw from it, or what expectations would he form from that change which awaited him in death? Can we suppose that he would not reason with himself in some such manner as this?
“ Born into the world with pain, the first " stage of my life I spent in tears, or lost in in« sensibility; I squandered in childish trifling " or senseless amusement; condemned to folly, « inured to pain, exposed to accident. Let me “ therefore turn away my eyes from such a “ scene of weakness and misery to that riper