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Proposition I - George Turnbull, The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 2: Christian Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 2: Christian Philosophy, ed. and with an Introduction by Alexander Broadie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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The thinking part of man does not perish at death, but is immortal.
That the thinking part of man does not perish at death, but endures for ever, is plainly imply’d in what the scripture says of our entrance after death into a state of rewards and punishments. There are not, indeed, any formal reasonings in the books of revelation to prove the immortality of human souls; but it plainly asserts a future eternal state after death: and therefore assumes to itself the title of the doctrine of eternal life; the doctrine of immortality.a Our Saviour exhorts his disciples not to suffer themselves to<389> be terrified by powerful, violent men into that which is displeasing to God, because though they can kill the body, they cannot destroy the soul.a And in the epistle to the Hebrewsb we are told, it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. Andc the same apostle tells us, that though in this life we continue not, yet after this life there is a continuing city, a continuing state. “We have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.” And to cite no more passages to prove a point which none, who are acquainted with the scriptures, can call into question, St. Paul,d in his epistle to the Thessalonians, thus comforts them; “Christ died for us, that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with him: Wherefore, comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” It hath been disputed, whether the doctrine of a future state made any part of the Jewish dispensation or revelation. But whatever be determined as to that point, it is beyond all doubt, that a future state was known to the Jews; or, that they generally believed the immortality of the soul, and an after-state of rewards and punishments, immediately succeeding to this state of moral trial and discipline. And, indeed, mankind, in all ages and countries, have been universally persuaded of this truth. But having sufficiently enlarged upon this important article in the principles of moral philosophy, let me only observe, 1. That christianity is said to have brought life and immortality to light, not as containing arguments from the attributes of God, and the nature of moral agents, to prove it, but because it assures us of the immortality of human souls and a future state, by another kind of evidence, which shall afterwards be explained; and gives us a very satisfactory view of a future life, as we shall immediately see. 2. In truth, the hope of a future<390> life natural to all men, is itself a sufficient proof that there is a future life. For whence could this universal hope, which is so noble an incentive to great actions; which so exalts and ennobles, or greatens the human mind in proportion to its steady prevalence; i.e. in proportion as it is exercised and indulged,—whence could it come?—or to what other origine can it be attributed, but to the kind care of heaven to give us a presentiment of our being designed for a greater, a nobler end than merely to exist a few years in this our present sphere, and then to perish for ever? But if it really takes its rise from an instinct or anticipation so implanted in us, it is a hope which cannot deceive us;—on the contrary, it is a hope which was intended to excite and animate us to live as becomes beings of celestial birth, and made to acquire to ourselves immortal honour and happiness in a future state; and to comfort and uphold us under all the discouragements or oppositions our adherence to virtue, truth, and goodness may now meet with while it is in its probationary state. 3. And how can those, who believe an infinitely wise and good providence, ever allow themselves to imagine, that any being perishes, or is annihilated? The question about our immortality is commonly so stated, as if it meant to enquire by what special marks or arguments we men can prove, that we are not to be annihilated, after having been allowed to exist for some little time, since all other beings within our ken cease to be, or are destroy’d:—It is stated, as if the enquiry was concerning evidence for some peculiar grant, or charter, to us of immortality. But in reality, a providence being admitted, the only remaining question is in general, whether there be any reason to apprehend that any beings perish, or are destroy’d. And a providence being supposed, that question can hardly bear any dispute: for we not only see no instances of a destroying disposition in nature, so far as we are able to pry into its revolutions and changes; but if the words<391> justice and goodness have any meaning in the mouths of men, we cannot but conclude it to be not merely ungenerous, but unjust to destroy any being, any perceptive being,—and a fortiori, to destroy beings of amoral or rational kind. We can conceive a consistency between good government, and the gradual rise or progress of beings: we can likewise conceive a consistency between good administration, and the gradual sinking of beings, or their powers, according to certain laws of improvement and degeneracy.—And of all this we see examples in nature. But we clearly see an inconsistency between the wilful positive destruction of perceptive beings and benevolence: and we see no instances of such destruction in nature. If the government of the world be good, (and what is it that we fully know of nature which does not proclaim boundless, pure goodness?)—If the government of the world, I say, be good, no being can ever be destroyed; for that cannot be done, but because the greater good of the whole requires such destruction. But tho’ the greater good of the whole may require gradual rising and sinking of moral powers, according to certain laws, yet it can never require the destruction of any being, unless to annihilate a certain quantity of capacity for happiness can be necessary to make a greater quantity of happiness, or greater good in the whole, which is a downright contradiction. For the quantity or sum total of capacity for happiness being lessened, the quantity of attainable happiness must of necessity be lessened. 4. If we consider man in particular, the only thing that can create any suspicion with regard to his subsistence, after what appears to us so terrible a shock, death, is this, that in this state our thinking powers have a very great dependence upon the laws of matter and motion, insomuch that certain bodily accidents make very dismal changes upon them. But there is ground to presume, that were the phenomena of that kind carefully collected and ranged, there<392> would remain no foundation for doubting about our immortality on that score; because, there are many instances of dying by diseases which gradually consume the body, while at the same time moral faculties remain intire, untouched, unviolated, nay, wax stronger and more vigorous; and there are many instances of emerging out of diseases, by which moral powers had been sadly depressed, to former vigour of understanding and virtue: And as we know that there can be no communication with a corporeal world, without subjection to its laws to some certain degree and extent; (because, being variously affected by the operations of the laws of a corporeal world, i.e. well by some, and ill by others, is implied in the very notion of union or communion with it;) so we likewise find, that the further we are able to carry our researches into the laws of our present corporeal state, or our present union with bodies, and by that means with a sensible world, the more and clearer evidences we perceive of the wisdom, fitness and goodness of these laws in various respects. Further, since it is evident, and is indeed acknowledged by all philosophers, that the connexions between different sensible qualities are arbitrary, or must be ultimately resolved into the will of the creating mind appointing them for wise and good ends; that it is mind alone that can properly be said to exist; and that all the ideas a mind receives from without, are conveyed into it by laws of arbitrary institution, or according to an order of positive establishment for good ends; since all this is so evident, that it is not disputed by any philosopher, it plainly follows, that whatever connexions may now take place between mind and body, or however the former may be affected by the latter, yet all these connexions and influences are arbitrary, and consequently may cease to take place, and yet mind or moral powers may continue in full vigour, fit for exercise independent of such connexions, or to be influenced and affected by connexions of a quite different nature.<393> Wherefore, all the arguments taken from the consideration of our moral powers, together with the moral attributes of the Creator and Governor of the world, to prove the immortality of our moral powers, have the same force as if no such connexions between our bodies and minds, as now take place, did subsist. That is, whatever probability or certainty, whatever degree of evidence results from the consideration of the manifold tokens we every where perceive of the wisdom and goodness of providence, that no beings capable of happiness, and much less moral beings, capable of moral, the highest happiness in kind that can be conceived, shall be destroyed; all such evidence remains the same as if there were none of those appearances of that strict intimate connexion with, and close dependence upon the laws of matter and motion in our present state, whence all doubts about our immortality are derived. In fine, the phenomena relating to our moral powers, and their dependence on matter and motion, what do they amount to but an arbitrary dependence, which produces many very good effects while it lasts, and which cannot last always: And therefore it is so far from being repugnant to the idea of good administration, when it is not considered as the only state the moral powers thus subjected, are to be placed in, that it is itself considered as but the first state of those moral powers, exceedingly agreeable to such an idea: whereas, on the other hand, what can be more opposite to all the signs of wisdom and good government we every where meet with in the world, and to all notions of divine benevolence, nay, of ordinary goodness, than to suppose any perceptive beings to be wilfully destroyed, any degree of capacity for happiness to be annihilated? Either we understand what wisdom and goodness mean, and may reason about these ideas, or they are words without any signification, and we cannot reason at all about any such ideas as these words seem to import. But if we can reason with any certainty at all about these ideas, we may rest satisfied,<394> that the rising or progress of perceptive beings to higher capacities; and the advancement of moral agents in moral perfection, in proportion to their care to cultivate and improve their rational faculties, the necessary opposite to which is sinking in consequence of neglectand abuse, are essentially involved, in the very idea of a good whole, or of perfect administration. We cannot otherwise give any coherent account or explication to ourselves of what would deserve to be called good administration, or of that government of the universe which we are led to apprehend, by whatever appearances we perceive to be tokens of wisdom and benevolence, and naturally rejoice in as such. But when we thus represent nature, or the universe to ourselves, all is agreeable, pleasant, consistent, harmonious; we comprehend it clearly to deserve the character of perfectly wise, kindly, generous: The worst appearances admit a solution on this supposition: And upon the contrary hypothesis, appearances in nature are the more unaccountable, in proportion to their seeming wisdom and goodness; be cause they evidently point out wisdom and goodness, which, were they what they have all the appearance of being, any instances of good and wise management can suggest to those who see not the whole of things, would certainly operate in away directly opposite to what is supposed, when beings are imagined to be wilfully destroyed. This reasoning does not barely mean, that it is impossible for a benevolent mind to discover instances of wise and good administration, as far as it can carry its enquiries; especially in those things, which at first sight, or till they were more fully canvassed and understood, appeared very irregular and exceptionable, without being disposed to believe the government of the universe thoroughly perfect; but this reasoning means further, that as there is no reason to infer any thing but the most perfect administration, from samples of wisdom and goodness in the government of the world; so he who<395> hath, from whatever arguments, once inferred a divine providence over-ruling all things, must, of necessity, acknowledge the immortality of all perceptive beings; it being impossible to frame a clear consistent idea of good government, without so conceiving of all beings. But having elsewhere insisted at full length upon the arguments for our future existence, I shall now pass to another proposition. Let me only add, that the christian revelation sets our immortality beyond all doubt, the chief intent of it being to excite to the practice of virtue here, as laying a foundation for our perfection and happiness in an immortal state, to which death is the transition or entrance; and to give us a just idea of the rewards and punishments, the laws and connexions in a future life, so far as is requisite to that excellent end. Now that it does so, will appear when we have considered the ensuing propositions.
[a. ]2 Tim. i. 10. 1 John v. 11.
[a. ]Mat. x. 28.
[b. ]Heb. ix. 27.
[c. ]Heb. xiii. 14.
[d. ]1 Thess. v. 10–11.