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they could have been convinced of the former, they would readily have acknowledged the other also. In a word, they denied in the whole any life after this, any state or subsistence of men after death, and believed death to be ultima linea rerum, “ the last “ line and bound of things,” beyond which the concerns of men are no farther extended. I doubt not but this is a true account of our Saviour's reasoning in that famous text, which some learned interpreters have strangely perplexed, for want of attending to the whole connexion of the Sadducees' doctrine above observed. Certainly if our Saviour's reasoning had been sd subtle, intricate, and elaborate, as some expositors have made it, it had been impossible for the common people to have understood the force of it. But that the multitude themselves presently apprehended it, and wondered at our Saviour's convincing way of arguing, is expressly affirmed, Matt. xxii. 33. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. The multi
. tude were on the Pharisees' side against the Sadducees, as Josephus and others assure us. This multitude presently conceived the text alleged and urged by our Saviour to be a clear proof, that the holy patriarchs subsisted and lived after the death of their bodies. And they knew this to be an effectual refutation of the whole doctrine of the Sadducees, who held that there is no life after this present life, but that men die as the beasts that perish.
Thus the doctrine of the immortality of man's soul, and its subsistence after the death of the body, appears to be the plain doctrine of Christ and his apostles, delivered in the New Testament. But lest we should yet suspect ourselves to be deceived in
the sense of those evident texts of Scripture, (as some would fain persuade us that we dream when we are awake, and that the sun shines not at the brightest noon,) I add, that the catholic church of Christ after the apostles ever acknowledged the same doctrine, and reckoned it among the undoubted articles of the Christian religion. You have already heard the judgment of those doctors and martyrs of the church, who lived in or very near the apostles' times; how they believed, that the soul of every man presently after death hath a place to go to, and dies not with the body. And the same tradition was constantly held and maintained in the church all along afterwards ; insomuch that the doctrine is to be found in the most ancient Liturgies, as hath been above observed; wherein it was unfit that any disputable problem should have a place. Nor would the church ever tolerate or suffer any man, under her government, to teach the contrary opinion.
To pass by the dreams of those infamous heretics the Valentinians; the first (to my best remembrance) that universally affirmed the dissolution of all men's souls together with their bodies, were certain heterodox persons of Arabia, about the middle of the third century, mentioned by Eusebius in his sixth book of Ecclesiastical History, chap. 37. where he tells us that they held, " That the souls of men in this pre“ sent world die and perish together with their bo“ dies; but that at the resurrection they return again “ to life, together with the same bodies 2.” Against
* Την ανθρωπείαν ψυχήν τέως μεν κατά τον ενεστώτα καιρόν, άμα τη τελευτή συναποθνήσκειν τοϊς σώμασι και συνδιαφθείρεσθαι' αύθις δέ ποτε κατά τον της αναστάσεως καιρόν συν αυτούς αναβιώσεσθαι.
these novelists a great council was presently called, wherein the famous Origen was present; and he by his arguments so effectually dealt with them, that they renounced their error, and so prevented the anathema of the council, that would otherwise certainly have been denounced against them.
I add over and above, that the subsistence of the soul of man after the death of his body, was a tradition generally, nay I think universally, received among the civilized heathen nations. For though certain wrangling and contentious philosophers among them disputed the matter, and by disputing came at last most of them to doubt of it, and some of them flatly to deny it; yet this could not hinder, but that the notion still prevailed among the generality of men in every age and nation. Nay in that part of the world, which for so many ages remained undiscovered and unknown to the rest of the earth, (there being no very ancient historian or writer extant, that gives us any certain account of it,) I say, in that part of the world which is called America, when it was first discovered by the Christians, this faith of the soul's immortality was found to obtain. Joseph Acosta, a learned Spaniard, and an approved author, who had lived in those parts, tells us, I. v. c. 7. that the Indians of Peru believed commonly, “ that the “ souls of men lived after this present life, (and that “ the good were in glory, and the bad in pain.”] Nay, in that region of America which is called Nova Francia, New France, although when it was first discovered, the people were found rude and barbarous ; insomuch that a good author saith of them, “ That they are not bound by any laws, nor observe “ any good customs, but live as beasts devoid of
reason;" yet even of these the same author thus testifieth, “ They believe the immortality of men's
souls, and say, that when they leave their bodies,
they go to another region, where their deceased “ friends are a.” Moreover, Lerius b tells us of a strange sort of people in America, of a hard name, (they are called by him, To vou pinam baultii,) who acknowledge no particular God at all, but only in general, certain spirits with whom their priests converse, from whom they believe themselves to receive courage and success in war, and the production of the fruits of the earth: and therefore they are instanced in by some as a nation atheistical, though unjustly; for those spirits which they acknowledge are their gods. However these very men (as the same Lerius informs us) confess, that “ the souls of " the virtuous” (that is, of those who have valiantly defended their country, for this seems to be the chiefest, if not the only virtue which they admired,) “ do presently after death fly beyond certain very
high mountains, and at last light on most pleasant gardens, where they lead a merry life in perpetual corrupted and lost, but that they have still some notion remaining among them of the soul's immortality and permanence after death.
delights and dances : and that on the other side, “ the souls of cowards, and degenerate souls, go
ad aygnan, that is, to the Devil, and live in torments “ with him.” In a word, I am yet to seek for that nation in the world, among whom the primitive religion, taught by God to the first men, is so utterly
a Animarum credunt immortalitatem, dicuntque quod postquam ex corpore migrarunt, tunc in aliam migrant regionem, ubi amici illorum defuncti reperiuntur.
b (Historia Navigationis in Brasiliam a Joanne Lerio Burgundo. 1686.]
To conclude therefore, let us firmly adhere to this confessed truth, this great truth, this fundamental truth, not only of our Christian religion, but of religion in general. Let us take heed of those men, who professing to believe the resurrection promised in the Gospel, do yet deny the subsistence of man's soul in the interval between death and that resurrection. That faith and this denial cannot well stand together; the resurrection of the body necessarily supposing the immortality and permanence of the soul, as I have evidently shewn you. They therefore that deny the latter, lay a sure foundation for the denial of the former too; which is the great article of our religion, the subversion whereof renders our whole faith vain, as the apostle tells us, 1 Cor. xv. 16, 17.
But much more are we to beware of those, who deny this truth with a direct design to destroy all our hopes or fears of any life to come. Let not the sophistry of these men, who study to shake off their Christianity and the religion of mankind at once, in the least unsettle our persuasion and belief of this established verity. It is here, if any where, certain, that Vox populi (or rather populorum) est vox Dei, the voice of all people and nations, howsoever distant in place, however otherwise differing in religion from each other, yet all here singing the same song, must needs be the voice of God; or at least an echo of that voice, by which God spake to holy men in the infancy of the world, and revealed to them the doc