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fore he is hurried off the stage. Would an infinitely wise Being make such glorious creatures for so mean a purpose ? Can he delight in the production of such abortive intelligences, such shortlived reasonable beings? Would he give us talents that are not to be exerted ? capacities that are never to be gratified ? How can we find that wisdom which shines through all his works, in the formation of man, without looking on this world as only a nursery for the next, and believing that the several generations of rational creatures, which rise up and disappear in such quick successions, are only to receive their first rudiments of existence here, and afterwards to be transplanted into a more friendly climate, where they may spread and flourish to all eternity?
There is not, in my opinion, a more pleasing and triumphant consideration in religion, than this of the perpetual progress which the soul makes towards the perfection of its nature, without ever arriving at a period in it. To look upon the soul as going on from strength to strength, to consider that she is to shine for ever with new accessions of glory, and brighten to all eternity; that she will be still adding virtue to virtue, and knowledge to knowledge; carries in it something wonderfully agreeable to that ambition, which is natural to the mind of man. Nay, it must be a prospect pleasing to God himself, to see his creation for ever beautifying in his eyes, and drawing nearer to him, by greater degrees of resemblance.
Methinks this single consideration, of the progress of a finite spirit to perfection, will be suffi
cient to extinguish all envy in inferior natures, and all contempt in superior. That cherubim, which now appears as a god to a human soul, knows very well that the period will come about in eternity, when the human soul shall be as perfect as he himself now is : nay, when she shall look down upon that degree of perfection, as much as she now falls short of it. It is true, the higher nature still advances, and by that means preserves his distance and superiority in the scale of being ; but he knows that, how high soever the station is of which he stands possessed at present, the inferior nature will at length mount up to it, and shine forth in the same degree of glory.
With what astonishment and veneration may we look into our own souls, where there are such hidden stores of virtue and knowledge, such inexhausted sources of perfection! We know not yet what we shall be, nor will it ever enter into the heart of man to conceive the glory that will be always in reserve for him. The soul, considered in relation to its Creator, is like one of those mathemati cal lines that may draw nearer to another for all eternity, without a possibility of touching it: and can there be a thought so transporting, as to consider ourselves in these perpetual approaches to him, who is not only the standard of perfection, but of happiness !
ARGUMENT, FOR A FUTURE STATE, FROM ANA
LOGY. As the consideration of the plants and flowers of the field will furnish us with a striking picture of man's mortality, so, on the other hand, it will suggest to him the comfortable assurance of his restoration to another life. When we see the annual returns of cold shut up the passages of life in plants, and deprive them of that supply of juices which caused them to grow up and flourish on the earth; when the grass faileth, and there is no green thing, but every herb shall sicken and die ; and yet when we behold them all revive at the return of the genial spring; when we see the face of the earth renewed in the same beautiful manner it was, and a new creation, as it were, open upon us, why should there be any physical difficulties in the doctrine of a resurrection? Why should it be thought a thing incredible, that God should raise the dead? Is it at all more difficult for him, by an extraordinary act of his almighty power, to collect the scattered particles of dust, and re-unite them in that order, symmetry, and proportion, which is requisite to form the human frame; than it is by a general law, (which is only the constant, but no less wonderful, operations of the same power), to recall the distant and undivided particles of inactive matter into such a disposition, as shall give to the flower the same variegated complexion, and cause it to breathe the same essences it did before. The illustration which St. Paul uses in support of the doctrine of a resurrection, and likewise as an argument to put a stop to all vain and trifling disquisitions concerning the manner
how it shall be brought to pass, is taken from a grain, that is buried, read, and corrupted in the earth, and yet shoots forth into new life, and has life more abundantly. But some man will say, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?- Thou fool! that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.' As if he had said, Explain to me, if thou art able, the most common appearance in nature. Tell me, how the seed which thou sowest in the ground, and there moulders and rots, should from an unknown and imperceptible principle, rise, as it were, again from the grave into new life, multiplied an hundred fold, without the least deviation from its own form and body? If thou canst not tell me this, why dost thou foolishly inquire concerning the incomprehensible ways of God in giving life to the dead; and why dost thou perplex thyself with impious doubts, in a matter which thy own experience and daily observation will teach thee is not to be conceived or explained ? This illustration of the case had been made us by our blessed Saviour himself: • Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remainethi alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.' Which words, in their application to the resurrection from the dead, have, according to the observation of the religious philosopher, a very curious and remarkable propriety. “Whereas,' says he, other seeds rise again out of the ground, and become seed leaves of the plant, that of wlieat is almost the only one in nature which dies in the earth; and therefore was the most proper emblem to represent the dissolution of man and his revival.' Dr. Tottie.
ARGUMENT, FOR A FUTURE STATE, FROM TRA
DITION. Men of thought and discernment could not but observe, that the belief of a future state, under different conceptions of it, was universally diffused throughout all ages and countries ; that this universal persuasion could never be obtained by any abstract method of reasoning, of which the generality of men are utterly incapable, but that the children received it in succession from the tradition of their forefathers : and those who were most curious in tracing it back to its source would find, in the accounts given of it by the earliest writers, that the higher they went in their inquiries, the clearer and stronger the tradition was. Hence it was reasonable to conclude, that it conveyed a doctrine coeval with the origin of man. kind. As this argument has been adopted by the ablest writers of antiquity, so there is great weight and force in it. The design of God in creating man must be supposed to have been disclosed to him. Consider him as made only for this mortal life, and he is so very different from what he must be, if he is hereafter to have admission into an eternal state ; his aims, his conduct, his duties, will so vary with his condition; that his Maker would never leave him in a state of uncertainty in a matter of infinite moment, without the knowledge of which he never could be able to take one step aright. And what was necessary for our first parents to know, was as necessary for their descendants. If they were taught, that man was formed for immortality, tha the hopes of his