LECTURES ON THE
MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD.
NATHANIEL W. TAYLOR, D. D.,
THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD
BY THE LIGHT OF NATURE.
Second leading proposition continued, viz. -- God administers an equitable moral government.The possibility of a future state precludes all objections against the Divine equity. -- No presumption against a future state. -- No proof the soul is material. -- No evidence that death destroys the soul -- Direct proofs of a future state. Kind of evidence furnished. -- No cause known which can destroy the soul. -- Every thing which has begun continues to exist. -- The present state unsuitable to the natural perfection of man. -- Argument from may's moral mature decisive.
IN the last lecture I attempted to show that God administers an equitable moral government over men.
In considering the argument against this position, derived from the distribution of good and evil in this world, I endeavored to show, that the only fact which can be supposed to furnish the least evidence against the equity of his administration, viz., that he treats men better than they deserve during this short and comparatively momentary state of existence, furnished not the shadow of such evidence. This fact I claimed, on the supposition of a future state, may answer some highly useful and necessary purpose, and that if we suppose even a strictly legal economy, it may, like the temporary delay to punish offenders against human governments, subserve the very ends of public justice; that it cannot therefore, be alleged as in the least degree inconsistent with the exact equity of his moral administration, or as involving any departure from, or violation of, the principles of exact equity. Hence it was claimed, that God might at any moment show, that in entire consistency with all his doings, he has ever adhered and that he ever will adhere to these principles, and that he might do this in either of two ways--either by inflicting a full and merited retribution on all, or by showing that he administers his government under a gracious economy. Having thus shown that there is not the slightest evidence against, I presented the direct, evidence for, the equity of his moral government. I showed that he is actually administering a moral government--that to administer such a government over men is manifestly his great design, one to which his works of creation and providence are obviously subservient; a design which stands forth first, greatest, brightest of all; that he has manifested his equity by giving to men the best law--the only law which a being of perfect justice would or could give; that he is able to administer his government in perfect equity, and that he has, so to speak, scrupulously avoided treating any of his subjects worse than they deserve, while in treating them better, he has not furnished the least reason to doubt his equity. With these things in view, it was claimed that we are shut up to one of these conclusions, either that this chief design of the Infinite Being will fail in defeat and mockery, which is utterly incredible; or that he ever has been, and is still adhering, and ever will adhere to the principles of justice in his moral administration.
Thus the supposition or the bare possibility of a future state is sufficient to neutralize every objection to the equity of God's moral administration. It leaves in its full and unimpaired force the evidence for its equity, which uncounteracted by opposing evidence is abundant and decisive. Nor is this all. The possibility of a future state in connection with such evidence for the equity of his administration, reveals the certainty by revealing the necessity of a future state, that God may finish what he has begun, and what as an omniscient, almighty and immutable being he must finish. We say then not only that there may be, there will be (for there must be) a future state, in which God will unfold by the requisite issues the perfect equity of his moral government over men. What else can be supposed or thought of? What otherwise will become of the great, the most obvious design of God in the creation and government of this world? Shall we suppose such a design abandoned? Is Omniscience at fault in the plan; is Omnipotence discomfited in the execution; are infinite attributes thwarted of an end worthy of such attributes; in place of reality is there pretense and pageantry, instead of majesty and glory is there the self-degradation of an Infinite Being? What shall we say? Plainly without a future state of being for man, the works and ways of God present the most insolvable of all problems--the most intractable of all enigmas, His designs, his doings, his character, what he is, what we his creatures are, and what we are to be--all this entire moral system is but a feverish dream of uncertainty, agitation and pain--a chaos of darkness and terror while the mere supposition of a future state is like the word of the Creator, when in respect to this material system he said, "Let there be light, and there was light." As a mere supposition, while it at once reveals its own reality, it pours the effulgence of noonday on all the works of creation and providence, and shows God as the righteous moral governor of his moral creation, reigning to display the harmony, grandeur and glory of his perfect dominion.
The necessity of a future state in order that God may accomplish what he has so obviously begun, is decisive as an argument, and it is not my design to dwell longer upon this particular mode of reasoning. Indeed to see the great facts of creation and providence which disclose so clearly the chief design of God in respect to man, is also to see the necessity and reality of a future state in which by its requisite issues the equity of God's moral government over this world will be unfolded. I will only add on this topic, that if called upon to engage in controversy with one who denied a future state, I should place my chief reliance on this argument, and feel strong for the contest.
The question however of a future state has been controverted so much on other grounds, and has been supposed to involve no many difficulties, that to examine these modes of reasoning may serve to strengthen an argument in some minds, if any additional strength is needed. In this mode of argument, then I proceed to show that-
There is a future state of existence for man.
I propose to show as briefly as may be:
In the first place, that there is not even a presumption against the fact; and
In the second place, to offer direct proofs of the fact of a future state.
In the first place, there is not even a presumption against the fact.
Some philosophers have maintained that the soul is a material substance, or that its existence depends on our bodily organization, and hence have denied its immortality. That the soul is material, or that its existence depends on any organization of matter, is in my view wholly a gratuitous and unauthorized assumption.
Its immateriality however I do not consider as a fact of any importance on the question of its immortality. The only use which seems to be made of it, is to refute an objection against the possibility of the soul's future existence. It can however in no respect answer even this purpose, since the annihilation of the soul or its continued existence is equally possible to the Creator, whether it be material or immaterial. It must be admitted that the soul may have a future existence whether it be a material or a spiritual substance.
Again; there is no evidence that death destroys the soul. I am not saving that death does not produce this effect, but simply that there is no evidence that it does produce it. We know to sonic extent the actual effects of death, but we cannot say that the destruction of the soul is one of them. We do not know on what the continued existence of the soul and of its powers proximately depends. We do not therefore know enough of death to say whether it will or will not destroy the soul. Its existence with all its powers in perfect exercise, may depend on that which death cannot touch. There is indeed an intimate connection in many respects between the soul and the body. But we have no such knowledge of the nature and mode of this connection, as to authorize us to decide that the soul cannot exist without the body, and even in a more perfect state. Should this be proved hereafter, it would not contradict or be inconsistent with any fact of our present knowledge. Death indeed removes the souls of others from our view. It drops its dark curtain over the future, but it tells us nothing of its doings or its effects beyond death. The nature of things then reveals no certain connection between death and the destruction of the soul.
Again; there is no evidence from any known phenomena against the future existence of the soul. It is from this source that the most forcible objections against our doctrine and the most Plausible arguments for the opposite opinion are derived. What then are the phenomena--what are the facts? This is the question which must be answered with precision. All that can be pretended is, that certain states of the body, those of disease, of intoxication, of old age, obviously impair the mental faculties, and, as the case may be, suspend or remove all visible evidence of their existence, while death puts an utter end to it.
To the question, then--do these facts furnish the slightest evidence that the soul ceases to exist at death?
All the facts now referred to may be Comprised in these two impaired faculties, and the suspension or final cessation of all visible evidence of their existence.
And first, let us look carefully at the supposed evidence from impaired faculties. That some diseases, and that old age often impair the faculties of the mind, cannot be doubted. But many do not produce this effect; and in some cases, disease actually destroys life, and leaves the mind, even to the last, in the vigor and activity of perfect health. This fact shows that the mind is not so dependent on the state of the body as necessarily to languish and die under the very causes that destroy the body. It shows more, that there is not the slightest reason for supposing that disease destroys the existence of powers, which, even in its progress, it often leaves wholly unimpaired till death. There are similar exceptions in regard to the influence of age. Generally, indeed, as bodily health and vigor decay, the mental faculties decline. If there are no decisive exceptions to this fact, still there is nothing sufficient to show that the existence of the mind necessarily depends on the life of the body. Indeed, the influence of some diseases, and of old age to impair mental vigor, is in no respect inconsistent with the supposition, that the body, in some particular states, is a mere encumbrance to the mind, and produces effects which would wholly cease by their separation; so that the mind, being wholly disconnected with the body, would possess greater vigor, and awake to new and hitherto unknown activity. Here we must not confound one cause with another; we must not consider disease as terminating in death, but disease, as such, producing its own proper and known effects on the mind. Suppose then, (although there are many decisive exceptions to the fact) that disease always, during its continuance, impairs or deranges the powers of the mind. Yet, does it destroy them? In far the greatest number of cases, when the cause is removed, does not the effect cease; or rather, does not the cause often cease, without the destruction of the mind as its consequent? Does the impairing of mental powers necessarily involve their destruction? Do you see and know any other effect of disease but the former, and this merely temporary? Does one effect involve the other? You might as well say, that because a blow on the head produces a momentary derangement of the mental faculties, it actually lands the soul in annihilation.
Do you say, that it is not meant that disease as such ever destroys the mind? Why then is it so often asserted? If the meaning be, that disease weakens the faculties in many cases with greater or less rapidity, and terminates in death as its proximate effect, be it so; but this is only specifying another result of disease, viz., death. Take their all its effects. If the result of disease, in mental imbecility, does not show the soul's annihilation, does death prove it to our observation or our knowledge?
This brings us to the other fact, viz., the cessation of all visible evidence of the soul's existence. This is admitted; and be it remembered, it is all that can be claimed. But does the cessation of the visible evidence of the soul's existence prove that it has actually ceased to exist? The want of evidence of the existence of a thing is surely no proof of its non-existence. In some cases, as that of drowning when followed by resuscitation, the evidence of the existence of an intelligent agent wholly ceases from our observation. But who infers the destruction of the agent? I do not say, that the cessation of evidence of his existence proves that he did not cease to exist; this is proved by resuscitation; but that the cessation of the evidence of existence does not prove that he did cease to exist. I am willing to concede that it shows the suspension of the intellectual operations, but it does not prove the non-existence of the agent.
Between this case and that of death, there is indeed one important difference. In the event of death, the evidence that there is a mere suspension of the mental operations, or rather the evidence that the agent continued to exist furnished by resuscitation, is wholly wanting. We cannot say that the agent has not, nor can we say that he has ceased to exist. The event of death proves nothing, and, in itself considered, authorizes no belief. And if, as we have seen, the cessation of the visible evidence of continued existence is perfectly consistent with the fact of its continuance, as in the case of apparent drowning, then, in the event of death, this evidence may, entirely cease, and yet resuscitation may follow.
I admit another fact often appealed to in this argument; viz., that death destroys what other causes of the suspension of the mental powers do not affect, viz., the organs of sensation and all the functions of animal life. But we have the most decisive proof that the continuance and activity of the mental powers do not depend on the continuance of the bodily organs. Even those ideas which are derived through these organs may be as vivid when they are not, as when they are the media of reception. Of this the phenomena of dreams are decisive. If the mind without the organs of sensation can recall the ideas of sensation without their objects, a fortiori it can form ideas of sensation without the organs and their objects; so that death destroys the powers of sensation and still less those of reflection, no evidence can be adduced. To infer that it does from the mere want of evidence that it does not, is as truly unphilosophical, as to infer that sound sleep is a state of annihilation.
If it here be said that the cases are materially different, since in one we have the evidence of continued existence from subsequent phenomena, I readily admit it. But then these show that the conclusion of non-existence is not authorized by the suspension of visible intellectual operations, so all that can be said in a case in which such subsequent phenomena do not exist is, that there is no evidence of continued existence, and not that there is evidence of non-existence.
If it be further said that as there is no evidence of continued existence after death, either in the event itself or in any subsequent phenomena, it is irrational to believe in such existence, I most readily admit it, so far as death and its subsequent phenomena can be supposed to furnish evidence. We are not authorized to believe in the future existence of the soul on this ground merely, nor be it remembered, are we authorized to disbelieve it. When there is no evidence there should be no faith, and no faith should not be confounded with believing. If the event of death authorizes no faith on the question whether the soul will exist after death, then it does not authorize the belief that it does not exist. The event of death then, and all its attendant and consequent phenomena, are to be laid aside as having no bearing on the question before us. Provided there is no other source of evidence, we are bound to believe nothing respecting the future existence of the soul.
Laying aside then the event of death as having no bearing on the question under consideration, I proceed,
In the second place to offer direct proofs of a future state.
Before I adduce the proposed proofs, I would make a remark or two respecting the nature or kind of evidence to be offered. It is not pretended then, that it is of that kind which excludes the possibility in the nature of things of the truth of the opposite proposition. The evidence is of that kind which logicians call probable or moral, as distinguished from demonstrative, evidence which in a thousand cases to one, controls the practical faith of men, and must control it, or they must act the part of idiots or madmen. Nor are there any arguments either in natural or revealed theology which are in the strict sense demonstrative, that is, the opposites of which involve known contradiction. This remark is of more importance in relation to the present subject than to many other cases. The bare possibility, the mere may be that death is the end of our existence, is peculiarly apt to prevent or weaken the force of the existing evidence to the contrary. Now let it be remembered that a may he is not an argument. There is a may be, that you will never leave this room alive; it may be, that when you take food the next time it will produce strangulation and death, and to give no other example, it may be that if you reason yourself into the belief of either of these things, or that death is the end of man, you will reason falsely. How exceedingly irrational it is to reject moral evidence, and especially when it consists of an accumulation of probabilities on one side of a question, merely because there is a possibility of the truth of an opposite conclusion, all men see and feel in the ordinary business of human life. They know that on this principle they could not act nor even subsist. God has made the human mind to be influenced by moral evidence in assenting to truth as really as in assenting to truth in the form of intuition. It might perhaps be said, that it was designedly so because it is necessary to moral beings in a state of moral discipline. Be it so or not, the philosopher who reasons and concludes in morals or theology with an argument no better than may be, ought to be eulogized at most as a may be philosopher.
To proceed now with the direct proofs of a future state,
I remark --
That there is no cause known which will destroy the existence of the soul. It is reasonable to believe that things will continue as they have done in our experience, unless there be some cause known to us that will produce a change. This is the kind of evidence or rather of reasoning on which we rely, and on which the mind is made to rest its belief in cases innumerable. For example, how confidently we believe on this ground, simply that the sun will rise and set to-morrow, and that our lives will be prolonged for some time to come. So powerful is the influence of this kind of evidence, that when it accords with our wishes as it does in respect to the continuance of our present life, it is often unimpaired by high degrees of opposing evidence. Without however attempting to measure the degree of faith which is authorized by this kind of evidence, it is undeniable that such a degree as to make it practical in regard to the business of life is not only authorized but required. But if we have sufficient to justify or require any degree of faith, that the life of the body will be continued another year or even another day, we have much more to justify the belief that the soul will exist after death and forever. The evidence from past experience simply considered, may justly be viewed as the same in both cases. But in respect to the life of the body, we know that there are many causes of its destruction, some one of which may terminate it at any hour or moment; while in respect to the life of the soul, we know of none that ever did or ever will terminate it. I need not say how strong would be our belief in the continued endless life of the body, if we knew no cause of its termination. How firm then according to the same principle, ought to be our faith in the endless life of the soul.
The principle of belief now referred to in connection with the known immateriality of the soul, is that on which primarily rests the universal belief of mankind in a future existence. Nor can the soundness of the principle, nor the reasonableness of the faith be questioned. When has man known any thing to cease to be, without a cause? Why then, in this case, should we believe, that what has been, and now is, will not continue to be; while we neither know, nor have the least reason to believe, that there is any cause that will prevent its continued existence?
Again; every thing within our observation, which has begun, continues to exist; it is therefore reasonable to believe that the soul will do so. The body indeed seems to perish; but we know, that while it decays, it does not actually and truly perish. From the creation of the visible universe to the present moment, we have not the slightest reason to believe that one atom of it all has ceased to be. What we term decay and death in the animal and vegetable kingdoms is not annihilation, but only a change of parts and relations, and a name for another form of continued existence. If then every particle of matter, even of our own bodies, to which God has given existence, continues to exist, is it philosophical to disbelieve, or even to doubt the continued existence of the soul? If every thing else, after all that can be called decay or death, continues to exist, the rational conclusion is that the soul does also. The dust, so to speak, returns to the dust as it was and yet it is carefully preserved; why then does not the spirit ascend to God who gave it? Is it rational, is it philosophical to deny and overlook such analogies? Where had been the discoveries of Newton, had he disregarded them? Where had been all science, had men not believed that what is true of some things which they know, is also true of other things which they do not know? It belongs to him who denies or doubts the continued existence of the soul after death, to produce some positive proof of a departure from the entire analogy, of nature in respect to this agent. Thus the death of the body, the very thing from which the destruction of the soul has been inferred, becomes proof to the contrary. If death does not even destroy the body, or rather if it is only a change involving the continued existence of every particle of it, why should it destroy the soul, or rather, why not result in its continued existence? Which is the logical inference? Death is a change in which every particle of the body continues to exist, therefore the soul ceases to exist; or death is a change in which every particle of the body continues to exist, therefore, the soul continues to exist. In the one case, the premises and conclusion have no conceivable connection. In the other, they have the same that led Newton to believe that the same law of gravity which pertained to a falling apple, controls the motions of every planet. Even if the mind is matter, why is it that not a single atom of unthinking matter is destroyed, and every atom of thinking matter must be annihilated? Why is it that the almighty Preserver of one should so carefully take care of its every, particle, and yet so carefully and scrupulously annihilate the other? Is this the doctrine of reason, of philosophy? True, we admit the possibility of its destruction by the Creator. But must not some reason be found, some motive discovered for the exclusive annihilation of that which we call mind, of that which gives all its value and worth to the creatures of his power? Why should the Creator of man preserve every thing in his creature which is strictly corporeal and comparatively worthless, and destroy every thing that is mental and meet for immortality; why preserve every thing that likens man to the dust beneath his feet, and destroy all that constitutes the image of Himself? Would the father of a child do this? Would the maker of a watch act on such a principle? Well may we ask philosophy, if man's resemblance to his Maker is only the reason for blasting his creation into annihilation.
Further, I argue the doctrine of a future state from the obvious unsuitableness of the present to the perfection of the nature of man. In the material world, the more our knowledge extends, the more of order and of system, of design and of adaptation appears in all that we behold, until the conviction is forced upon us that the Maker of all forms no abortive purposes. If we look at the nature and condition of animals, we end a striking coincidence between them, their condition being so accommodated to their instincts and their powers, that the obvious design of their being may be fully attained in this world. Hence it is, that while if we had nothing to reason from but their past life with our ignorance of their utter destruction by death, we should rationally infer their future existence; yet in view of the obvious adaptation of their nature to their present condition, and of the fact that the end of their existence is here fully attained, it is irrational to believe that they continue to exist after death. Not so however in respect to man. If man's being terminates with his life, then does his present existence present the most inscrutable of all mysteries, the most insolvable enigma to be found in all the works, of God. We can tell with more or less confidence, for what all things else are created, but to decide what is the end of that creature of God for whom every thing else is made, that being who bears the likeness of his Creator, defies and baffles all philosophy. Our Maker, who delights to unfold his wisdom and his power to our inspection in the manifestation of the adaptations, objects and ends of all his other works, even in the structure of an insect, conceals the design of the greatest of them all in utter darkness; or rather what is far more inexplicable, he shows that the most exalted design is under an absolute necessity of utter failure and defeat. Nor is this all. He exhibits himself in the decisive character of a deceiver, obliging us to regard adaptations and tendencies as no evidence of plan and of the actual results of his works. He thus unsettles all our principles of reasonings from these sources, and whether such facts give us annihilation or immortality, our conclusion has no claim to confidence. This is too unphilosophical for our opponents to believe. What then is the Creator's great design in giving existence to such a creature as man? If we consider his intellectual faculties, the foundation laid in his constitution for unlimited improvement, the wide range for acquisition opened through the immensity of space and duration; what is man qualified to become, or rather what is he not qualified to become compared with any thing he is during this momentary life? Is it credible that God has thus fitted the human mind for progress, furnished it with so beautiful an arrangement of faculties for every kind of acquisition, and incited it by an impulse that ceaselessly awakens it to the pursuit--so formed it, that by every effort it becomes stronger and more eager for, further attainments, that when this mind has been thus qualified, disciplined, and prepared to go on to perfection, the very improvement it has made should become a reason for arresting its progress in annihilation? Are we to believe that He who made man what he is, will destroy his own work, merely because if permitted to live, he would accomplish the high end for which he made him?
The argument from the moral nature of man is made still more impressive by the superiority of its design and object. If there is no existence for man beyond the present state, what can we suppose to be the design of his Creator in forming him a moral being? What powers, what capacities are involved in his nature I What capacity to enjoy, and what power to impart happiness to others! Who can reflect on the nature of such a creature, his intelligence, his susceptibility, his will, his conscience, the dignity, the excellence of which he is capable, the moral victories and triumphs he may win, his fitness to hold on his way with archangels, strong in advancing all that good which infinite wisdom could devise and infinite benevolence could love, the graces with which he may be adorned, and the beatitudes with which he may be blessed, and not believe that he is made to be one with the God who created him--a partaker of his blessedness, a companion of his eternity?
If we consider what an almost total failure there is, even on the part of every good man, to attain in any respect the great end of his creation; how weak in resolution and feeble in heart how little success in subduing his passions and governing his temper--how much of life is spent before he even begins to live in obedience to the demands of duty and of conscience how remote he is from the uniform and settled tranquillity of perfect virtue--what dissatisfaction he feels with the present, unappeased by all the world can offer--what an impatience and disgust with the littleness of all he finds--what an ever restless aspiration after nobler and higher things--what anticipations and hopes from futurity, never realized here on earth how does our spirit labor under a sense of the incongruity between his attainments and his powers; and unless there is a future state, what an insignificance is imparted to all that can be called virtue here on earth, and also to man himself.
What too shall we say of all those proofs of the power, the wisdom, the goodness of the great Author of all things, which are presented to us in all his works, and the satisfaction there is in knowing and contemplating such a Being? To what purpose are we rendered capable of elevating our thoughts to him, if we are never to learn any more of his character than we know in this short life? For what object has he given proofs of his overruling power and providence, and excited man to look to him with submission, confidence, and affection, if man has no interests to be cared for but those of a day? Why, in a word, has he made those manifestations of his Godhead, and of those relations to man, and of man to himself, which constitute the basis of all that we call religion, if all these are to cease at death? I do not say it would be absolutely worthless even then, but it would sink to comparative insignificance. It would be the religion of a being who has no God but for the brief moment of this mortal life--the love, the hopes, the confidence of an insect of an hour, instead of the religion of an immortal, trusting in God for the gifts of his goodness through a coming eternity.
Indeed, nothing is more obvious to reason, than that life to man would be but a short series of animal sensations, and death only the changing of the relation of a few particles of matter. To live as he would, and as well as he might, were death the end of him, would at the same time be a perversion of powers an outrage on nature, unmatched in the works of God. The true and proper business of life would be changed. All that could be called the end of his existence would become scarcely worthy of a thought; and, as a being of a day, he would sink to an insignificance which would render the course he pursued through the world, a concern too trivial for consideration. Why then are those powers given to man, which fit him to rise to such an inconceivable height in the scale of being, without a motive to aspire to such elevation, or the possibility of attaining it? Why this destiny to self-degradation? In all his other works nothing is waste, nothing is useless. Every organ, appetite, faculty, hope and desire, in every creature has its counterpart object. Man is an exception to this absolute universality. For his moral nature, for that part of man which alone gives value to existence with its high capacities and aspirations, the universe presents no objects of corresponding worth and greatness. Or rather, viewed in relation to man's moral nature, every thing is great. The material universe around him, the total sum of human existence, the events that happen on our globe are great. All the analogies, tendencies and relations everywhere conspicuous, are great, and manifest great designs and results. This material system bespeaks a corresponding moral system which is great, and furnishes unquestionable intimations of a vast scheme whose disclosures will be great. The moral system as here developed is great in its authority, its law, in all its tendencies, and actual results. God is great. Man is great. His nature bespeaks the dignity of an immortal, and looks onward to the grandeurs of eternity. Eternity is great. And yet man, for whom all this greatness exists--placed amid it all, and next in greatness to his God-man, made, designed, and fitted for eternity, exists but a moment!! Is it credible? Is it not a violence to the harmonies of creation, a defeat and failure of God's designs, that no rational man can believe? Is it not giving a contemptible insignificance to the very image of God in his own creatures? Is it not reflecting most severely and dishonorably on the wisdom and the power that gives them existence? No human mind, with these views of God and of man, can rest in such a conclusion. Shall a God of infinite natural perfection form myriads of beings so much in his own image, and doom their powers to uselessness and waste while they live, and the beings themselves to an instant annihilation? It were a farce in creation; the infinite God sporting in the exercise, and with the products of his infinite attributes. No. Man is made for a higher purpose than can be answered by this short life; and that this purpose may be accomplished, he will never cease to be.
Thus I have attempted to show, that while there is not the shadow of evidence against a future state, there are, entirely aside from the moral government of God, many considerations, which, especially when combined, give a high degree of probability of such a state.
The argument then for the equity of God's moral government over men, as we have presented it, stands thus: the argument, from the fact that God has given men the best law, and from the manner in which he distributes good and evil in this world, with other considerations, is in its nature decisive, provided there is no proof to the contrary. The mere supposition of a future state removes every particle of pretended evidence against the equity of this administration; while with the possibility of a future state, the necessity of it, that God may complete that equitable system of moral government which he has obviously begun, places the fact of such a state beyond all rational doubt, or rather forces it on human belief. In addition to these things, we have shown, that aside from the fact of God's moral government, and on other grounds, there is also a high probability of a future state. Our conclusion then is, that there is a future state, in which God can, and therefore will, unfold the equity of his moral administration over men; in other words, God is administering an equitable moral government.