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Let us proceed then to enquire into the Propriety of our either living on still in the present State, or being removed into some other without such a Change as Death produccs.
As to the former, 'tis plain, that in what State soever Mankind were originally made, they could not have sublisted always in the present World; at least, not been supported in such Numbers, as now take their Turn there, and supply each others Places in succeeding Generations: the Inhabitants of this Globe then must have been confined to a few, or these been frequently removed, both to make room for others, and by way of advancement to themselves, without any of that Pain or Perturbation, Anxiousness or Dread, which usually attends the Conclusion of their present Life.How far this might have been the Cafe, had Man continued, as he came out of the hand of his Maker, holy and innocent, we cannot easily say; buc are very sure, that when this Innocence was lost, when Sin had entered, and evil Habits spread and propagated themselves in the World, Men were neither fit to live on in it as long as they pleased, por to be removed out of it in such a way as might prove most agreeable to them; but rather were to be held in a more rigorous State of Duty and Dependence, in order to induce them to preservę themselves and others, their due time, in Being here, as also put them on the most effectual meang of attending to, and making fome Provision for a better State.
If after a long time spent idly in this World, each of us were sure of being lightly removed into some other Region, we should in all probability
be no more concerned about it, than at taking a Journey into some foreign Country: Or could we at any time, without either Pain, or the Apprehension of any, quit our Abode here, and convej Ourselves to the Realms above, how ready on every flight occasion would each be to dispatch himself or others thither! How rafhly would they rush into their Maker's Presence, however unqualified and unprepared to meet him! Or must the Sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth be obliged to send his Messengers (as hie did to Elijab) foc our Conduct, whenever we may be disposed to change our Station? How highly indecent and ina congruous this! most unworthy the Divine Majesty, and ill suited to the Nature of Man: who though he be endowed with large Capacities; confidering whence he sprang so lately; and placed in high rank in the order of Creatures, so many Classes of which are entirely subject to him; yet is he at his best Estate of but a very limited Un: derstanding, and by no means qualified to have the absolute disposal of himself, or to be fully let into the manner how he is to be disposed of in a future State; which if he were at present able to comprehend, he would perhaps be like to make no proper use of: It may be necessary therefore to have such a Vail drawn over it, as is done by Death; while Man is fixed here for a time in a ftate of Discipline and Probation, under general Laws to be foreseen, and in some Measure influenced by himself; and of which therefore he may avail himself so far, as to enjoy a good Degree of Happiness, as well as fit himself for some superior Station when he shall be called to it. Here he is
first produced, and formed to act a part upon the present Stage; a short one indeed, but such as may in general be sufficient to constitute a real Character, and lay a juft Foundation for Eternity: then the Scene closes in so severe and solemn a manner, as must, if any thing can possibly, alarm him, and excite some more than ordinary vigorous Endeavours to prepare for his Appearance in the next; which is of infinite Consequence, and opens with a public Trial; when all Persons shall be gathered from all Quarters of the World, and fiand together before the Judgment-Seat of Cbrift, at once to receive their final Doom for all Things done in the Body, at what distance of Time fo. ever; and to which their respective Deaths confign them.
Farcher ; such a Dispensation as this of Death, however disagreeable, is yet in our present Circumstances of great Service, and the Apprehenfion of it absolutely necessary for Mankind, confidered either, 1/4, in a State of natural Culture, or of training up for any tolerable Society with one another here; or, 2dly, in order to prepare them for a higher State of moral Happiness, and mutual Fellowship of Saints and Angels hereafter. The frequent Warnings of it are of no less use to check the enormous Growth of Wealth and Power in any one particular; and thereby cut off the extensive Views, and curb the hardy attempts of arbitrary and aspiring Men ;-to keep the Balance even among the several Orders, more especially the higher ones, and prevent that Tyranny and Oppression which would naturally attend the long projected Schemes of overthrowing it;
ftrain the exorbitant Degrees of Vice and Villany in those of lower Stations, by the various Terrors of it, and its visible Indiction; -- to correct the Sallies of Intemperance and abandoned Luft, by bringing their Effects so frequently to view; by being the most powerful means of breaking wrong Associations, and reforming evil Habits in general; since this is the very strongest and most general Alarm raised and collected from all Quarters of our Constitution;— by putting us upon sousing ourselves from Sloth and fupine Negligence, and recollecting what an uncertain State. we are in ;-by preventing our being ever wholly immersed in the low Cares, and funk under the load of any Crosses and Afflictions of this transitory Life;-helping us to raise our Thoughts and Expectations to a better, and enabling us to keep them more intent upon it; to fix our Hearts there, where our real Treasure lies, and whither we are in so sensible a manner daily hastening
$ See Dr Hartley's Essay on Man. V. 1. p. 466,
+ In general, to all Mankind Death is no small Benefit, Ć as it increaseth the Vanity of all earthly things, and so a.
bateth their force to tempt and delude; hath a tendency to excite sober Reflections; to induce us to be moderate in gratifying the Appetites of a corruptible Body; to mortify • Pride and Ambition; and to give a Sense of our Dependence upon God. And when Death at too great a distance was'
not fufficient generally to gain these im ortant Ends, when • Mankind abused a Life prolonged near a thousand years to
universal Excess and Violence [ Gen. 6.12, 13:) God was &
pleased, after the Deluge, to vary this Dispensation, by • înortening our Days, and gradually reducing them to three
score and ten, or four score years. And if the corrupt Mo.
rals of the Antediluvians was the occasion of this reduction of human Life (as seems most probable) then it will be true & that as DEATH entered into skelborld by Adam's Sin, fo the
These are very obvious moral Confiderations, and seem to be of some weight towards justifying this branch of the Divine Oeconomy in suffering Death, and the general Apprehensions of it to prevail in such a World as ours. Nor are there perhaps others of lefs moment, which make it naturally fit and necessary for such disordered and corrupted Bodies as we bear about us, to be totally diffolved, in order to eradicate those Tra. ces which
may have been formed by irregular and inveterate Affociations, and which could not otherwise have been reversed, even on the most sincere Repentance and Resolution of returning to a better Conduct ; that fo Sin might not be Immortal in our Bodies, but these being molded anew and thoroughly refined and rectifyed, might
HASTENING of Death, or Shortness of Life, entered into the World, and came upon all Men, by the Sin of that vi
cious Generation; and by their Disobedience we are all again ' so far made Sinners; not as a Punishment for their Sin; buc ! we may well suppose, in Mercy and Goodness: That the • wild range of Ambition and Luft might be brought into • narrower bounds, and have less opportunity of doing mil
chief, and that Death being set fill nearer to our View, might be a more powerful Motive to regard less the things of a tranfitory World, and to attend more to the Rules of Truth and Wisdom.-Thus I judge of the present short, ness of Life, and we cannot er much, if at all, if we think
that God, upon occafion of Adam's Sin, appointed our Life • frail, laborious, and sorrowful, and at length to be con
cluded by Death, not to punish us for another Man's Sin, .but to lessen Temptation, and to promote our spiritual • Good: For in several Places the Scripture directly affirms, • that AMiction and Suffering is the Chastisement of our
Heavenly Father; and particularly applies our common
Mortality to the forementioned good Purposes. See PS: 39. 49.90. Ecclef. 1. 2, &c. Taylor's Script, Doctr. of Orig. Sin,
p. 67, &c.