S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
The world is very bad as it is,so bad that good men scarce know how to spend fifty or threescore years in it; but consider how bad it would probably be were the life of man extended to six, seven, or eight hundred years. If so near a prospect of the other world as forty or fifty years cannot restrain men from the greatest villanies, what would they do if they could as reasonably suppose death to be three or four hundred years off? If men make such improvements in wickedness in twenty or thirty years, what would they do in hundreds? And what a blessed place then would this world be to live in!
I observed to you before, what danger there is in flattering ourselves with the hopes of long life: that it is apt to make us too fond of this world, when we expect to live so long in it; that it weakens the hopes and fears of the next world, by removing it at too great a distance from it; that it encourages men to live in sin, because they have time enough before them to indulge their lusts, and to repent of their sins, and make their peace with God, before they die; and if the uncertain hopes of this undoes so many men, what would the certain knowledge of it do? Those who are too wise and considerate to be imposed on by such uncertain hopes might be conquered by a certain knowledge of a long life.
And can we then think that the most natural and most necessary desire of all has nothing to answer it? that nature should teach us above all things to desire immortality, which is not to be had? especially when it is the most noble and generous desire of human nature, that which most of all becomes a reasonable creature to desire, nay, that which is the governing principle of all our actions, and must give laws to all our other passions, desires, and appetites. What a strange creature has God made man, if he deceive him in the most fundamental and most universal principle of action; which makes his whole life nothing else but one continued cheat and imposture!
William Sherlock: Discourse of the Immortality of the Soul, etc.