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shall commence when the present scene of things shall be fully terminated." Let my COUNTRYMEN, therefore,
" Read and revere the Sacred Page, a Page
In the mean time, be persuaded also to reflect upon our respective situations. Suppose we who believe in the SAviour of mankind are mistaken? Upon your ownprinciples we are safe. But suppose you are mistaken? Your loss is immense. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or whut shall a man give in exchange for his soul? You know who it is that hath said too_He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life : and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him-be is condemned already!--Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken : but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. Is there no danger to be apprehended from these, and similar declarations, with which the Sacred Writings. so largely abound? We are persuaded there is danger, and such as is of the most serious kind which can befal a rational creature.
“ Know'st thou th’ impotence of a soul immortal ?
Treating, with just contempt, therefore, the scoffs and sneers (for solid arguments we know they have none) of the whole unbelieving body of our countrymen, whether among the nobility and gentry of the land, or among the ignoble vulgar, the beasts of the people, our deterinination is, whatever we gain or lose beside, by the grace of God, to secure the salvation of this immortal part. No harm can happen us in so doing. We are secure in every event
of things. If the four sore scourges of the ALMIGHTY, sword, famine, noisome beasts, and pestilence, should receive their commission to run through the land, we are yet assured it shall be well with them that fear God. Sound religion, rational piety, solid virtue, and a lively sense of the divine favour, will injure no man. They will render us respected, at least by the wise and good, while we live, and be a comfortable evidence of our felicity when we die*. In the mean time, if it be inquired where present happiness is to be found ? May we not say with confidence ?
" No doubt 'tis in the human breast,
“ Appeas'd by love divine :
" And grateful praise erects her shrine." After all, suppose there should be no future existencewhat do we lose ?-But, if there should be a future state? _"and that there is, all nature cries aloud through all "her works"—then what shall become of the philosophic Infidel; the immoral Christian ; and the mere nominal Professor ? If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
• What can preserve my life! or what destroy!
Legions of angels can't confine me there." Reflect then, my COUNTRYMEN, upon your situation. Be the Scriptures true or false ; be Jesus Christ a vile impostor, or the only Saviour of the world; yet we are undeniably reasonable creatures, and under the moral government of God. This is no mere notion, that may be true or false; but a plain matter of fact, which every man
* When that fine writer, and pious author, Mr. WILLIAM LAW, came to die, he seemed to enjoy the full assurance of faith: " with these filthy garments,” said the expiring Saint ; " 1 feel a * sacred fire kindled in my soul, which will destroy every thing con. "trary to itself, and burn as a fame of divine love to all eternity."
This learned man, in the latter part of his life, degenerated into all the fooleries of mysticism; and there is some reason to suppose, his extravagant notions might be one means of driving the celebrated GIBBON into a state of infidelity. N 2
may be sensible of by looking into his own bosom. Na tural religion, therefore, at least, must be binding upon us. And that also requires, on pain of the highest penalties, that we should deny ungodliness, all impiety and profaneness and worldly lusts, all irregular secular pleasures and pursuits--and live soberly, chastely, temperately--righteously, doing strict justice in all our dealings, between man and man, and shewing mercy to every child of distress to the utmost of our power--and godlily, religiously, piously, worshipping the DivixE BEING constantly and conscientiously in public and in private, and zealously endeavouring to please him in every part of our conduct. Deism as well as Christianity requires all this. Nothing then do we gain, but a great deal do we lose, by rejecting the merciful dispensation of the Gospel, and having recourse to the religion of nature *. For natural religion equally with revealed, con
* What a picture does VOLTAIRE draw of the condition of man? and, indeed, though it is very melancholy, it is very just, upon his own principles, that the way of salvation revealed in the Gospel has no foundation in truth.
“Who can without horror,” says this sophistical philosopher, "consider the whole earth as the empire of destruction? It abounds in wona ders; it abounds also in victims; it is a vast field of carnage
and contagion!-Every species is without pity ; pursued and torn to pieces, through the earth and air and water! In man there is more wretchedness than in all other animals put together. He smarts continually under two scourges, which other animals never feel ; anxiety and listlessness in appetence, which make him weary of himself. He loves life, and yet he knows that he must die. If he enjoy some transient good, for which he is thankful to heaven, he suffers various evils, and is at last devoured by worms.--This knowledge is his fatal prerogative: other animals have it not.
He feels it every moment, rankling and corroding in his breast. Yet he spends the transient moment of his existence, in dif
. fusing the misery that he suffers ; in cutting the throats of his fellow creatures for pay ; in cheating and being cheated ; in robbing and be. ing robbed ; in serving that he may command; and in repenting of all that he does.— The bulk of mankind are nothing more than a crowd of wretches, equally criminal and unfortunate; and the globe contains rather carcasses than men. I tremble upon a review of this dreadful picture, to find that it implies a complaint against Providence; and I wish that I had never been born!"
Let any man consider well this declaration ; afterwards proceed to take a view of the lasť three months, and dying scene of VOLTAIRE, and then let him say what this old Sinner ever gained by his boasted Infidelity and Philosophy.
demns all immoral inen, under the penalty of incurring the utmost displeasure of our MAKER.
" But then you have the satisfaction to think there is “no Devil: by rejecting the Bible, you have at least got “ clear of this bug-bear, with which we frighten children « and old women !"
If we should ask, how you know there is no such fallen spirit? you can give no rational answer. Are you acquainted with all the secrets of the invisible world? Your ipse dixit will go no further than ours. We say there is such a Being, and we appeal to all history; especially to the writings of the Old and New Testaments, the evidence of which is such as no man ever did, or even can fairly answer. The Son of God, the Messenger from the invisible state, hath taught us this doctrine*; and we are firmly persuaded it is acting a more rational part, to give credit to his information concerning the invisible world, than to trust to the vague, uncertain, and contradictory lights of a vain philosophy. What have you to reply?-_“There is no “such being in nature."-And so your affirmation or negation is to be the standard of truth!
-A little more modesty might become you well : certainly it would make you the more amiable men, and not less comfortable in your own minds.
But, suppose there is no Devil; what do you gain ?Still man is a rational creature, and you are under the moral as well as the natural government of the Divine BEING. And if you have been dexterous enough to get clear of one enemy, you have two yet left, the world and your own nature--your lusts and passions within you, and the allurements of visible objects without you. Can you deny the existence of these? And are you perfectly sure, that you shall be able to wage a successful warfare with two such potent adversaries?
You see then, My COUNTRYMEN, that when you have hooted the Bible out of the world, proved the Virgin Mary to be a bad woman, Jesus Christ to be an illegitimate
* The Bible is full of the doctrine of fallen angels. See especially Mat. X. 1.
-Ibid. xxv.41.-Mark v. 8,9.- John viii. 44:- Cor.xi. 14, 15.-James ii, 19.2 Peter ii. 4.- John iii, 8.-Jude vi.
child, and annihilated the Devil-wonderful feats! worthy of all praise !--you must not stop here. There is no safety for you, till you have annihilated the MAKER and GoVERNOUR of the world also. Atheism must be your dernier resort *. For if there is a God, every immoral man will be, ere long, a miserable man. You must, therefore, to be consistent, and obtain composure in your irreligious courses, plunge headlong into the gulf of Atheism up. But.
* ANTIPhanes, a very ancient Port, who lived near a hundred years before Socrates, hath strongly expressed his expectation of future existence: “ Be not grieved,” says he, "above measure for thy deceased “ friends. They are not dead, but have only finished that journey " which it is necessary for every one of us to take. We ourselves must go “ to that great place of reception in which they are all of them assembled, " and, in this general rendezvous of mankind, live together in another state of being."
Spectator, No. 289. + Books proper to be consulted against Atheism, may be these that follow :-NIEUWENTYT'S Religious Philosopher--ADAM's Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy--Clarke's Discourse concerning the Being and Attributes of God-BAXTER's MatheNeckar’s Importance of Religious Opinions—Bishop CUMBERLAND on the Laws of Nature-Bentley's Boyle's Lectures-Ray's Wisdom of God in the Works of Creation-WOLLASTON's Religion of Nature-Wesley's Survey of the Wisdom of God in the Creation--DERHAM's Physico and Astro-TheologyCUDWORTH’s True Intellektual System--Bishop WILKINS on Natural Rea ligion-Sturm's Refle£tions on the Works of God-Spectacle de la Nature, by LE PLUCHE-and Fenelon's Demonstration of the Existente, Wise dom, and Omnipotence of God, drawn from the knowledge of Nature, particularly of Man, and fitted to the meanest capacity. This is a fine little work, and worthy of its great author. To these may be added also
SWAMMERDAM's Book of Nature.-BONNET'S Philosophical Researches, I and Pierre's Studies of Nature, abound with much ingenious matter, in proof of the Divine Existence.
I transcribe the names of such a variety of authors both here, and on former pages, not out of any vain and foolish ostentation, but to inform the less experienced reader to what books he may have recourse, if he finds it necessary for the
peace and satisfaction of his own mind. But there is no proof of the existence of God, and the truth of Christianity, so consolatory, as the experimental and heartfelt knowledge of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ. Indeed, all other proofs, without this, are to little purpose, and this is independent of every other argument ; for though it cannot with propriety be adduced for the conviction of Unbelievers, it is calculated to yield more satisfaction to our own bosoms than the most laboured arguments that reach the understanding only. Poor people, whose minds have taken a religious turn, usually rest their salvation upon this experimental conviction alone,