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Virtue, then, being oppressed in this life, and vice unpuuished,-the silence of a Just and All-powerful God,-points out a future state, where justice is to resume its rights, and reward each according to his works. And, if divine justice points out a future state, the soul must survive the body.
But you inform us that you believe in a future state, though the soul is' nothing but a motion of the cerebrum, which perishes along with it: For, says the Doctor, U God will change " our bodies into spirits at the last day, when ** the world will perish for want of vegetable " food, on account of the mould of the earth " being washed away into the sea; so that no" thing will remain but the bare rocks ;" still, he will not admit that the body will rise; but
vthat God will create a spirit in the room of
every body that ever appeared. This extraordinary'creed runs through the whole course of his work ; and even in his defence he does
not retract it. He' apologizes however for de
nying the existence of the soul, upon. this principle, that his doctrine is the best confutation of that fond and absurd opinion, Purgatary ; and though inspiration and prophecy, which unravel
future events, are qualities incompatible with
corporeal __ organs, affected -only by present objects, yet the Lord has enlightene'd his hody, in ' ' such
such a manner, as to understand the revelations
_ of St. John, and to discover the pope in the
Imss with the ten harm, though the most part of the Roman pontiffs are bald before they are elected, and that no protuberance appears on theirforeheads, no more than on the foreheads of other men.
One should be apt to imagine, that the Doctor in his general attack on all religious, would not point his artillery against one more than another. However as it is customary in a general assault, not to neglect the part of the rampart where less resistance is expected, it was certainly a good stroke of generalship to use a feint, in order to draw off the attention of his antoganists, and induce them by this stratagem to divide their forces. He has partly succeeded ; for one of the gentlemen who has entered the lists against the Doctor, and has ably vindicated the Divinity of Christ and the immortality of the foul, shakes hands with him, and in a long digreffion attacks Purgatory, with as much warmth, as he attacks impiety and materialism. As for my part, with the general defence of Christianity, I shall not blend any particular controverted point between Christians. Iknow full well that the scripture says, if tþc tree fall to the North or to the South, there *it shall lie.
Obscure passages and similes of the kind are susceptible
susceptible of different interpretations, anfl dez' termine nothing. That passage may as well relatc 'to the body, which when fallen by death can' never rise, without the intervention of in'finite power. Or isit regard the soul, after its separation :' by the soulh, we may as well understand the state of salvation, to which a soul, that departs this life in the state of grace, is cNn-_ titled ; though liable to satisfy the divinejustice for some venial impersections. Or it most likely that, by the tree which falls, is rneant death in general, after which we cap perform no good works: as the treeaafier its Fall, when it guite withered, produces no fruit. For the main drift of the inspired writer, issito enforce good works, during our lives; as appears by the whole tenor of the chapterJ "Cafi thy bread fi upon the waters : for thou shalt find it, aftcr* ifmanydayaffl'i " '* ' ' ' '
Spanheirn and several other Protesiant d'i-_ vines are of opinion, that, in the whole course
* hf this li'se, the 'soul 'is never entirely pure. And
whoever irefiect's seriously on the weakness and. srailties of niansiw'ill readily coincide in opinion' with ther'n, 'Without the imputation of bigotry: or supcrflitlion. * ' ' ' ' ' * '' ' '
There is such vanity in our thotiglits,_-suclt_ lcvity in our wordsg-jsnch tincture of self-love Ecclesiastes, chap. ii.
,, _ . . . . in in our best actions,_that, when the Scrutineer and Searcher of hearts is to make the discernr ment, and to separate the chaff from the grain, but a'small quantity of wheat will, perhaps, be found fit to be stored up in the granary of the Father of the family : whilst, on the other hand, will be exhibited to our view, great heaps of dry and useless straw. Hence, " the just man " falls seven times : " hence, the most virtuous stand in daily need of imploring the forgiveness their daily trespasses : hence, the apostle declares, that, in saying V we are without sin, the " truth is not in us." The eyes must be well purged from mortal mists, before 'the pure essence of the Divinity is displayed to their full view : " for nothing that is polluted can enter *'* the holy city." The question, then, remains,
Whether this purification be wrought in this
life, at thelast moment, or after death 9 and this question Spanheim with other Protestant di-v gvines has left undecided.
Catholics believe that this purzfimtz'on may
happen after death, in a place where the pray: .
ers and'good works of the living may administer relief to the sufferers. Doctor Taylor, the Protestant bishop of Ely, proves beyond contravcliction, that in all ages the true believers used to offer up prayers for the dead. The famous
Thomas Burnet, in his book on the state of the k ' . . .
dead, and those that are to rise, proves the same. As to the fathers it is needless to quote them. The same Burnet, and such Protestants as admit none to the full enjoyment of th'e divine essence, until after the sound of the last trumpet, admit an intermediate state between Heaven and Hell, from death to the resurrection ; in which state,-departed souls have not thei rfull completion of happiness or misery.
Whatever wrangles divines may have about a'text of scripture, they should not indulge their 'Warmth to such adegree, as not to listen to'cool reason. It is not contrary to religion or reason
to believe that alms and prayers for our deceas- '
ed friends, can do them no harm. In the very uncertainty of alms and prayers being useful to the dead, they are not useless to those who offer them, from a principle of charity. For a good intention gives merit to an action which in itself is harmless and inoffensive. "
Sir Isaac Newton may describe the course of those heavenly bodies which swim in the planetary region ; our mariners may sail round the world, and our divines, in a paroxysm of zeal against Popery, may be wasted down the stream of 'allegory in explaining the preacher's tree thatfalleth to the North or 'to thc South, I shall never acknowledge them so well versed in the geogra'phy of the other world, as to be able to persuade me,
.. a _ . , that