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laws of nature, respecting inanimate matter, may be collected from experiments. And let us compare the known constitution and course of things with what is said to be the moral system of nature; the acknowledged dispensations of Providence, or that government which we find ourselves under, with what religion teaches us to believe and expect; and see whether they are not analogous, and of a piece. And upon such a comparison it will, I think, be found, that they are very much so; that both may be traced up to the same general laws, and resolved into the same principles of divine conduct.
The analogy here proposed to be considered is of pretty large extent, and consists of several parts ; in some more, in others less exact. In some few instances, perhaps, it may amount to a real practical proof, in others, not so; yet in these it is a confirmation of what is proved otherwise. It will undeniably show, what too many want to have shown them, that the system of religion, both natural and revealed, considered only as a system, and prior to the proof of it, is not a subject of ridicule, unless that of nature be so too. And it will afford an answer to almost all objections to the system both of natural and of revealed religion, though not perhaps an answer in so great a degree, yet in a very considerable degree an answer, to the objections against the evidence of it ; for, objections against a proof, and objections against what is said to be proved, the reader will observe, are different things.
Now, the Divine government of the world, implied in the notion of religion in general, and of Christianity, contains in it, that mankind is appointed to live in a future state*; that there every one shall be rewarded or punished t, -rewarded or punished, respectively, for all that behaviour here which we comprebend under the words virtuous or vicious, morally good or evil I: that our present life is a probation, a state of trials, and of discipline ||, for that future one, notwithstanding the objections which men may fancy they have, from notions of necessity, against there being any such moral plan as this at all l; and whatever objections • Chap. 1. + Chap. 2.
• Chap. 3.
may appear to lie against the wisdom and goodness of it, as it stands so imperfectly made known to us at present *; that this world being in a state of apostacy and wickedness, and consequently of ruin, and the sense both of their condition and duty being greatly corrupted amongst men, this gave occasion for an additional dispensation of Providence, of the utmost importance t, proved by miracles I, but containing in it many things appearing to us strange, and not to have been expected S; a dispensation of Providence, which is a scheme or system of things ||, carried on by the mediation of a divine person, the Messiah, in order to the recovery of the world (; yet not revealed to all men, nor proved with the strongest possible evidence to all those to whom it is revealed; but only to such a part of mankind, and with such particular evidence, as the wisdom of God thought fit **. The design, then, of the following Treatise will be to show, that the several parts principally objected against in this moral and Christian dispensation, including its scheme, its publication, and the proof which God has afforded us of its truth--that the particular parts principally objected against in this whole dispensation--are analogous to what is experienced in the constitution and course of nature, or providence: that the chief objections themselves, which are alleged against the former, are no other than what may be alleged with like justness against the latter, where they are found in fact to be inconclusive; and that this argument, from analogy, is in general unanswerable, and undoubtedly of weight on the side of religiontt, notwithstanding the objections which may seem to lie against it, and the real ground which there may be for difference of opinion as to the particular degree of weight which is to be laid upon it. This is a general account of what may be looked for in the following Treatise. And I shall begin it with that which is the foundation of all our hopes and of all our fears--all our hopes and fears which are of any consideration-I mean, a future life.
* Chap. 7.
of Part ii. chap, 1.
Chap. 4. ti Chap. 8.
: Chap. 2. 1 Chap. 5.
ANALOGY OF RELIGION.
OF NATURAL RELIGION..
Of a Future Life. STRANGE difficulties have been raised by some concerning personal identity, or the sameness of living agents, implied in the notion of our existing now and hereafter, or in any two successive moments; which whoever thinks it worth while may see considered in the first Dissertation at the end of this Treatise. But, without regard to any of them here, let us consider what the analogy of nature, and the several changes which we have undergone, and those which we know we may undergo without being destroyed, suggest, as to the effect which death may, or may not, have upon us; and whether it be not from thence probable, that we may survive this change, and exist in a future state of life and perception.
I. From our being born into the present world in the helpless imperfect state of infancy, and having arrived from thence to mature age, we find it to be a general law of nature in our own species, that the same creatures, the same individuals, should exist in degrees of life and perception, with capacities of action, of enjoyment, and suffering, in one period of their being, greatly different from
habit change ; and rement of thange of wordt
those appointed them in another period of it. And in other creatures the same law holds : For the difference of their capacities and states of life at their birth (to go no higher) and in maturity; the change of worms into flies, and the vast enlargement of their locomotive powers by such change; and birds and insects bursting the shell, their habitation, and by this means entering into a new world, furnished with new accommodations for them, and finding a new sphere of action assigned them ; these are instances of this general law of nature. Thus all the various and wonderful transformations of animals are to be taken into consideration here. But the states of life in which we ourselves existed formerly, in the womb and in our infancy, are almost as different from our present, in mature age, as it is possible to conceive any two states or degrees of life can be. Therefore, that we are to exist hereafter in a state as different (suppose) from our present, as this is from our former, is but according to the analogy of nature; according to a natural order or appointment of the very same kind with what we have already experienced. .
II. We know we are endued with capacities of action, of happiness, and misery; for we are conscious of acting, of enjoying pleasure, and suffering pain. Now, that we have these powers and capacities before death, is a presumption that we shall retain them through and after death ; indeed, a probability of it abundantly sufficient to act upon, unless there be some positive reason to think that death is the destruction of those living powers; because there is in every case a probability, that all things will continue as we experience they are, in all respects, except those in which we have some reason to think they will be altered. This is that kind* of presumption or probability from analogy, expressed in the very word continuance, which seems our only natural reason for believing the course of the world will continue to-morrow, as it has done so far as our experience or knowledge of history can carry us back. Nay, it seems our only reason for believing, that any one substance now existing will continue to exist a moment longer -the Self-existent substance only excepted. Thus, if men were assured that the unknown event, death, was not the destruction of our faculties of perception and of action, there would be no apprehension that any other power or event, unconnected with this of death, would destroy these faculties just at the instant of each creature's death ; and therefore no doubt but that they would remain after it: which shows the high probability that our living powers will continue after death, unless there be some ground to think that death is their destruction.* For if it would be in a manner certain that we should survive death, provided it were certain that death would not be our destruction, it must be highly probable we shall survive it, if there be no ground to think death will be our destruction.
* I say kind of presumption or probability; for I do not mean to affirm, that there is the same degree of conviction that our living powers will continue after death, as there is, that our substances will.
Now, though I think it must be acknowledged, that, prior to the natural and moral proofs of a future life, commonly insisted upon, there would arise a general confused suspicion, that in the great shock and alteration which we shall undergo by death, we, i. e. our living powers, might be wholly destroyed; yet even prior to those proofs, there is really no particular distinct ground or reason for this
* Destruction of living powers, is a manner of expression unavoidably ambiguous; and may signify either the destruction of a living being, so as that the same living being shall be incapable of ever perceiving or acting again at all ; or, the destruction of those means and instruments by which it is capable of its present life, of its present state of perception and of action. It is here used in the former sense. When it is used in the latter, the epithet present is added. The loss of a man's eye is a destruction of living powers in the latter sense ; but we have no reason to think the destruction of living powers in the former sense to be possible. We have no more reason to think a being endued with living powers ever loses them during its whole existence, than to believe that a stone ever acquires them.