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they also come not into this' Place of Torment. But Abraham said unto him, they have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them. He replies, Nay, Father Abraham, but if one went. unto them from the Dead, they will repent. And be said unto him, If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the Dead, Luke 16.-27, and following Verses. Which seems to give no greater Authority to the Resurrection of the Dead, and therefore not to the Resurrection of Christ himself, than to the Writings of Moses and the Prophets, to confirm the Promises of another Life. But it is certain this is not our Saviour's Meaning, who so often appeals to his own Resurrection from the Dead, as the last and greatest Confirmation of his divine Authority, and of the Truth, and Certainty, and Divinity of all he did and taught, and particuJarly of the Promise of immortal Life. And the Thing speaks it self; that those express Promises, which Christ has made us of immortal Life, and that Confirmation that he has given us of these: Promises by his own Resurrection from the Dead, is much beyond any Evidence that Moses and the Prophets have given us. Nor can I see any reason from what Our Saviour makes Abraham here to fay, to think otherwise. For, i · First, Supposing we should grant, that Dives thought that his Brethren wanted a better. Evi. dence for another Life, and the Rewards and Punishments of good and bad Men, than Moses and the Prophets had given them; yet Abrabam's Anfwer, that those who would not believe Moses and the Prophecs, would not believe fuch a Messenger from the Dead, as Dives de:
fir’d, is a very good Answer, without supposing that there could be no better Evidence for another Life, than that Moses and the Prophets had given them; much less without supposing that the Resurrection of our Saviour himself from the Dead is not a better Evidence and more certain Proof of immortal Life. jis
To understand what Abrabam means by one rising from the Dead, we must consider what it was that Dives desired of Abraham, which was only to fend Lazarus to his Brethren, to affure them of that Place of Torment prepared for bad Men; not that Lazarus should, in the Gofpel Notion of the Refurrection, rise again from the Dead; that is, re-assume his Body immor. tal and glorious, and appear to them in his gloj rified Body; for this was what Abraban could neither do for Lazarus, nor for him felf; but that he fhould appear to them, as Ghofts and feparate Souls us'd to do in a vifible Shape and Form, so as to be known by them; not in a true human Body, one raised from the Dead. Now
Abraham was certainly in the right, that tho' Moses and the Prophets have not given us the higheft Evidence, that can be given, of immore tal Lite, yet they have given us much better Evidence of it than the Apparitions of Ghosts and Spirits could do; and that thofe, who would not believe Moses and the Prophers, would much less believe an Apparition of Lazarus, whatever he should tell them of the other World, and of the State of their Brother Dives in it. For what Authority hath a Ghost or Apparition? Who knows what it is? Whether it be the Perfon it reprefents, or fome deluding and counterfeit Spie rit? And then, who can tell, whether it speaks true or false? And is this to be compared to the
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Authority of a standing Revelation, which, tho' it do not speak so plainly as the Gospel does, or give such undeniable Proofs of Immortality, yet is certainly to be credited beyond any Apparitions, which have no Authority at all, which may a little awaken and terrify Men at present; but the Fright will soon be over, and they will believe and live just as they did before? Abrabam's Answer inay satisfy us of the Vanity of this whole Difpute about Apparitions, as far as may concern Religion, and the Belief of another World, in it. For this will convince any Man, who will not believe the Law of Mofes, much less who will not believe the Gospel of Christ. Here is no comparison made between the Mofaical and the Gospel Revelation ; between the typical Promises of the Law of Moses, and the plain and express Promises of the Gospel of Christ, corfirm'd by his own Resurrection from the Dead. .: But after all, it does not appear to me from any thing in this Parable, that Dives's Brethren were Infidels, who believed nothing of the other World. For Dives does not desire Abrabam to send Lazarus to give them a greater Assurance of the other World; nor does he say, that they would believe it ever the more, if Lazarus went unto them; but that they would then repent. Nor does Abraham say that they would not believe the other World upon the appearing of Lazarus, but that they would not be perswaded, that is, to repent and reform their Lives.; And that is certainly true. There are many Men who believe Moses and the Prophets, and, which is more than that, they believe the Gospel of Christ too, and yet live very wicked Lives, and have great need to be summon'd to Repentance.
The The moft effetual Means Dives could think of for this, was to send one from the Dead to preach Repentance to them. But Abraham tells him ocherwise, that those who will not bear Moses and the Propbets, who will not repent of their Sins at their Admonition and Reproofs, would not repent, tho' one should come from the Dead to persuade them. Which does not relate to the different Degrees of Evidence, but to the Power of Perswasion. And it is certainly a great Truth that those, who will not be perswaded to repent of their Sins by all the Arguments of the Law and the Gospel, would not be perswaded, thoa Messenger from the Dead should preach to theni. *
' . And now I would desire the Infidels of our Age seriously to consider, what there is wanting in this Evidence, to give us the most absolute Assurance of a blessed Resurrection into immortal Life. Let them but suppose for a while that the Gospel gives us a true Account of what Christ did and taught, 'of the Doctrine which he preached, and the Promises which he made, of his Death and Resurrection from the Dead; and then deal sincerely with themselves and the World, and say what is wanting in this Evidence. For this is the Gospel Evidence, whether it be true or false. For, whether the Gospel contains a certain Proof of immortal Life, and whether the Gospel it self be a credible Hiftory, are two distinct Questions, and ought to be distinctly answered ; tho? Infidels, to give the better Colour to their Infidelity, are desirous to confound them. I never yet met with any Man, who was so hardy, as to deny, that the Gospel contains such unquestionable Proofs of immortal Life, that, supposing the Gospel to be true, there can be no doubt made of it. Now
this is all that I am at present concern'd for, to shew you, that Life and Immortality is brought to light by the Gospel. And if our Infidels would plainly confess this, which they dare not deny, it would lay the Axe to the very Root of Infidelity. For, ..
First, They must then confess, that there may be a better and a stronger Proof of immortal Life than any the Light' of Nature can give them; which would make them sensible, that the Light of Nature is not the only or the best Guide in Matters of Religion..?. .
Secondly, They must confess the Neceffity of Revelation to give us the certain Proof of immortal Life. And one would think, this should be a good Means to reconcile them to Revelation. For the Gospel Proof of immortal Life, which is the most certain Proof that can be given, can be had only from Revelation...
Thirdly, They must confess, that if the certain Knowledge of immortal Life' be the most desirable thing in the World, it is as desirable to have such Proof of imniortal Life as the Gospel has given us ; and therefore, that all Men ought at least to wish, that the Gospel were true. . i . in: diesis:
Fourthly, They must confess, that there is a certain Proof of immortal Life got abroad in the World, whether it be true or false, and therefore that they are infinitely concerned to examine impartially the Truth of it: For if it should prove true, and they refuse to believe it, they could not plead Ignorance in excuse for their Infidelity. All this must own'd, if we acknowledge the Gospel Proofs of Immortality to be good and certain, supposing the Gospel Hi. story to be true; and whoever owns all this, can never be an Infidel long.
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