תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

mistakes and injurious misrepresentations, it will become him publicly to own and retract them; and I now call upon him, in my turn, to do it. If he doth not,, they will lie heavy upon him in another world, to whomsoever he may have recommended himself, in this, by the means ot them.

After I had sinished this Preface, and a great part of it was printed, there came to my hands an Assize Sermon, preached lately in the Cathedral at Winchester^ by Mr. Richard Weft, Prebendary of that Churchv He hath, 1 sind, stept a little out of his way, to give his peremptory opinion in the points controverted between me and the Letter-Writer; and withal, to prove himself no competent judge of them. For, after affirming, "That the PRACTICE of Christian "virtues, though we set aside the consideration^ "of a future reward, HAVE a fairer title to "present happiness than their contrary vices" (which is better Divinity than Grammar); he proceeds to fay, "Nor does it app-ar that the "Pharisees themselves ever denied it, THO' a "Notion hath been invented of late, that prefers "brutish pleasures (for the more brutish, it "seems, the more preferable) to those o£ *' religion." Serm. p. 7, 8.

It is a shrewd remark which this fagacious writer here makes, that " though a notion hath "been invented of late," yet it doth not appear that the Pharisees of old had the fame notions; he might with as great acuteness of judgment have observed, that the art of printing doth not appear to have been known to the antients, tho' k hath been invented since their times. But to pass by this judicious observation—if Mr West, pleases to read over my sermon and this preface, he will easily fee, that he hath mistaken my notion, of which he here gives a very injurious account, in very unseemly language; to fay no worse of it. He is still more mistaken in thinking that to be a late invention of mine, which h;ith been asserted by so many pious and eminent pens of.our own ,and other communions; to whose sentiments a man, that professes to dedicate himself to the study of divinity, ought not to have been altogether a stranger. And I am very apt to think also, that he hath, in this paragraph, tnistaked the Pharisees for the Saducees. The saducees, indeed did "set aside the consideratic n of a future reward," and yet pretended to support the practice of virtue upon the foot of present happiness as Epicurus likewise did; from whom they are sometimes called Epicureans, in the Jewish writings. Neither Epicurus nor Zadc k declared openly for vice and immoralty, though they denied a suture state; but held happiness to be attainable in this life by our own conduct and virtues. But it no way appears, that the Pharisees had any such notions or disputes as these stirring among them, or any occasion to deliver their opinion about the title, "which the practise os Tirrue hath to present happiness ; setting aside the consideration of a future reward:" And why, therefore, their authority should be vouched to this purpose, I do by no means comprehend.

Much less can I imagine, why a Jewish sect [whether of Pharisees or Saducees'} should be rek 2 presented, presented, as delivering their judgment about the consequence of practising Christian virtues; a point in which they had as little reason to concern themselves.as Mr IVefthaih to interpose in this dispute,unless he were better acquainted with the true state and grounds of it, and with the opinions of those who have gone before him in the argument, I hope, this was not one of the correct passages, which Mr Jervor/i and the other gentlemen had. 5n their view, when they *' desired him to print his most excellent sermon—Of which I am tempted to fay somewhat more, but shall forbear; having, 1 hope, sufficiently prevented whatever this gentleman hath said, or can fay, against any part of my doctrine. And some attacks are so harmless, that nothing but a defence can make them considerable.

What gave rife to this civil digression of Mr, W/ft, and at whose shrine he offered his incense, is too plain to admit of any doubt; and carries in it a reslection, so much to the difadvantage of religion, that, could it possibly be concealed, I should think myself obliged to pass it over in silence. How must it afffict good men, to consider, that our unhappy disputes about Rights and Privileges should, spread themselves into points of a foreign nature, and of the most facred importance: and be pursued to the very horns of the altar, with- _ cut any regard to the interests of our common Christianity! What! can we not differ about ailiiiir»mtnt', without differing also about the rvidenes of a iuture state , and managing our contests on that head, in such a manner as even to take -oart with, and make sport lor, unbelievers)

Are

Are these the blessed esfects of that mo hratian and tempert of which we have heaid so much in their writings, and seen so little in their practices? How long {hall the best words in the world be thus perversely applied to the worst purposes; and made use of to cover and advance designs, widely distant from our specious pretensions? Can we look upon it as one instance of that .-post amiable virtue, to stand by cool and unconcerned for the great truths of religion? neither to defend them ourselves, nor yet susfer them to be defended by others? and, when we chance to spy an Egyptian sniting an Hebrew, one of our brethren, to be so far from avenging the wring, as to encourage and assist the doer of it? What is this, but to imitate the wicked policy of our worst enemy, wnicn we have so often complained of? For-now eloquent have some men been in their inve':tives igainst a neighbouring prince (the su' j .ct of i.v .r panegyricks on some other occasions) for making scandalous leagues with Mahcme'.i, »•'■! attack.* ing Christians in conjunction wir'i rlis gpeit ?.n mies of Christendom? \nd 'S tiieir co;?diict less liable to reproach, who are n u «»Oiim a to espouse the caus' even of inside ity irflii-, rath.-.. thin miss an opportunity of expr^Hi v; th ;ir rjfc'Hmeats against men they do nut !•<.', 'n.l kee' * in.4 up their little pirty-infve'.s an.' ciui'.r. .? W e.' 'Ds.t.rx was at o\u 6 x'r's in a ' i • • $ diil we take th's way of k"c \ ■» i; ,•:••; i athr.isr':and >' " kfsdr.'i.l.u - ■•,

w. now in k'se Janr.ros bfivisr • . ■?

Li God's we ;,.U'»- ... . .

lei us ui •; ■ '.'' ... . • :■. • pital doctrines, which we all equally embrace, and ire alike concerned to maintain: Nor let our personal views and prejudices (if we will not be persuaded to part with them) ever lead us to do any thing, that may expose religion itself to the laughter and scorn of profane men; whoJbeot out the lip, and jhake the head, saying, /tha I So toe would b*ve it.

CON

« הקודםהמשך »