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It is in vain for men to turn aside their ther than in any other; or why this mothoughts from this eternity which awaitsment of time given me to live, was assigned them, as if they were able to destroy it by rather at such a point, than at any other of denying it a place in their imagination: it the whole eternity which was before me, or subsists in spite of them; it advanceth un- of all that which is to come after me. I observed; and death, which is to draw the see nothing but infinities on all sides, which curtain from it, will in a short time infalli- devour and swallow me up like an atom, bly reduce them to the dreadful necessity or like a shadow, which endures but a of being for ever nothing, or for ever mi- single instant, and is never to return. The serable.

sum of my knowledge is, that I must shortly We have here a doubt of the most af- die : but that which I am most ignorant frighting consequence, and which, there- of is this very death, which I feel unable fore, to entertain, may be well esteemed to decline. the most grievous of misfortunes: but, at As I know not whence I came, so I the same time, it is our indispensable duty know not whither I go; only this I know, not to lie under it, without struggling for that at my departure out of the world, I deliverance.

must either fall for ever into nothing, or He then who doubts, and yet seeks not into the hands of an incensed God, withto be resolved, is equally unhappy and un- out being capable of deciding, which of just: but if withal he appears easy and com- these two conditions shall eternally be my posed, if he freely declares bis indifference, portion. Such is my state, full of weakness, nay, if he takes a vanity of professing it, obscurity, and wretchedness. And from all and seems to make this most deplorable this I conclude, that I ought, therefore, to condition the subject of his pleasure and pass all the days of my life, without consijoy, I have not words to fix a name on so dering what is hereafter to befall me; and extravagant a creature. Where is the very that have nothing to do, but to follow possibility of entering into these thoughts my inclinations without reflection or disand resolutions? What delight is there in quiet, in doing all that, which, if what men expecting misery without end? What va- say of a miserable eternity prove true, will nity in finding one's self encompassed with infallibly pluoge me into it. It is possible impenetrable darkness? Or what consola- I might find some light to clear up my tion in despairing for ever of a comforter? doubts; but I shall not take a minute's

To sit down with some sort of acquies- pains, nor stir one foot in the search of it. cence under so fatal an ignorance, is a thing on the contrary, I am resolved to treat unaccountable beyond all expressions; and those with scorn and derision who labourin they who live with such a disposition, ought this inquiry and care; and, so to run withto be made sensible of its absurdity and out fear or foresight, upon the trial of the stupidity, by having their inward reflec- grand event; permitting myself to be led tions laid open to them, that they may softly on to death, utterly uncertain as to grow wise by the prospect of their own the eternal issue of my future condition. folly. For behold how men are wont to In earnest, it is a glory to religion to reason, while they obstinately remain thus have so unreasonable men for its professed igoorant of what they are, and refuse all enemies ; and their opposition is of so little methods of instruction and illumination. danger, that it serves to illustrate the prin

Who has sent me into the world I know cipal truths which our religion teaches. For not; what the world is I know not, nor the main scope of Christian faith is to estawhat I am myself. I am under an astonishi- blish those two principles, the corruption ing and terrifying ignorance of all things. of nature, and the redemption by Jesus I know not what my body is, what my Christ. And these opposers, if they are of senses, or my soul: this very part of me no use towards demonstrating the truth of which thinks what I speak, which reflects theredemption, by the sanctity of their lives, upon every thing else, and even upon yet are at least admirably useful in shewing itself, yet is as mere a stranger to its own ihe corruption of nature, by so unnatural nature, as the dullest thing I carry about sentiments and suggestions. me. I behold these frightful spaces of the Nothing is so important to any man as universe with which I am encompassed, his own estate and condition; nothing so and I find myself chained to one little cor- great, so amazing, as eternity. If, therener of the vast extent, without under- fore, we find persons indifferent to the loss standing why I am placed in this seat, ra- of their being, and to the danger of endless misery, it is impossible that this temperself

, to nourish in his heart a secret seedshould be natural. They are quite other plot of joy, springing up from the libertine men in all other regards, they fear the reflections. This brutal ease, or indolence, sinallest inconveniences, they see them as between the fear of hell, and annihilation, they approach, and feel them if they ar- carries somewhat so tempting in it, that rive, and he who passeth days and nights not only those who have the misfortune to in chagrin or despair, for the loss of an be sceptically inclined, but even those who employment, or for some imaginary blemish cannot unsettle their judgment, do yet in his honour, is the very same mortal who esteem it reputable to take up a counterfeit knows that he must lose all by death, and diffidence. For we may observe the largest yet remains without disquiet, resentment, part of the herd to be of this latter kind, or emotion. This wonderful insensibility, false pretenders to infidelity, and mere hywith respect to things of the most fatal con- pocrites in atheism. There are persons sequence, in a heart so nicely sensible of the whom we have heard declare, that the genmeanest trifles, is an astonishing prodigy, teel way of the world consists in thus actan unintelligible enchantment, a super- ing the bravo. This is that which they natural blindness and infatuation,

term throwing off the yoke, and which the A man in a close dungeon, who knows greater number of them profess, not so not whether sentence of death has passed much out of opinion, as out of gallantry upon him, who is allowed but one hour's and complaisance. space to inform himself concerning it, and Yet, if they have the least reserve of comthat one hour sufficient, in case it have mon sense, it will not be difficult to make passed, to obtain its reverse, would act con- them apprehend how miserably they abuse trary to nature and sense, should he make themselves by laying so false a foundation use of this hour not to procure information, of applause and esteem. For this is not but to pursue his vanity or sport. And yet the way to raise a character, even with such is the condition of the persons whom worldly men, who, as they are able to pass we are now describing; only with this dif- a shrewd judgmenton things, so they easily ference, that the evils with which they are discern that the only method of succeedevery moment threatened, do infinitely sur- ing in our temporal affairs, is to prove ourpass the bare loss of life, and that transient selves honest, faithful, prudent, and capable punishment which the prisoner is supposed of advancing the interest of our friends ; to apprehend; yet they run thoughtless because men naturally love nothing but that upon the precipice, having only cast a veil which some way contributes to their use over their eyes, to hinder them from dis. and benefit. But now what benefit can we cerning it, and divert themselves with the any way derive from hearing a man confess officiousness of such as charitably warn that he has eased himself of the burden of them of their danger.

religion; that he believes no God, as the Thus not the zeal alone of those who witness and inspector of his conduct; that heartily seek God demonstrates the truth he considers himself as absolute master of of religion, but likewise the blindness of what he does, and accountable for it only those who utterly forbear to seek him, and to his own mind? Will he fancy that who pass their days under so horrible a we shall be hence induced to repose a neglect. There must needs be a strange greater degree of confidence in him hereturn and revolution in human nature, be- after? or to depend on his comfort, his fore men can submit to such a condition, advice, or assistance, in the necessities of much more ere they can applaud and value life? Can he imagine us to take any great themselves upon it. For supposing them delight or complacency when he tells us,

, to have obtained an absolute certainty, that that he doubts whether our very soul be there was no fear after death, but of falling any thing more than a little wind and into nothing, ought not this to be the sub- smoke? Nay, when he tells it us with an ject rather of despair than of jollity ? air of assurance, and a voice that tesAnd is it not therefore the highest pitch tifies the contentment of his heart? Is of senseless extravagance, while we want this a thing to be spoke of with pleasantry? the certainty, to glory in our doubt and or ought it not rather to be lamented distrust?

with the deepest sadness, as the most And yet, after all, it is too visible, that melancholic reflection that can strike our man has so far declined from his original thoughts? pature, and as it were departed from him- If they would compose themselves to se

rious consideration, they must perceive the inquire after God, and who, being truly method in which they are engaged to be so sensible of their misery, affectionately devery ill chosen, so repugnant to gentility; sire to be rescued from it; it is to these and so remote even from that good air and alone that we can in justice afford our grace which they pursue, that, on the con- labour and service, for their direction in trary, nothing can more effectually expose finding out that light of which they feel them to the contempt and aversion of man- the want. kind, or mark them out for persons defec- But as for those who live without either tive in parts and judgment.' And, indeed, knowing God or endeavouring to know should we demand from them an account him, they look on themselves as so little of their sentiments, and of the reasons deserving their own care, that they canwhich they have to entertain this suspicion not but be unworthy the care of others : in religious matters, what they offered and it requires all the charity of the reliwould appear so miserably weak and tri- gion which they despise, not to despise fing, as rather to confirm us in our belief. them to such a degree, as even to abanThis is no more than what one of their don them to their own folly: but since the own fraternity told them, with great smarte same religion obliges us to consider them, ness, on such an occasion: If you continue 'while they remain in this life, as still ca(says he) to dispute at this rate, you will pable of God's enlightening grace; and to infallibly make me a Christian. And the acknowledge it as very possible, that, in gentleman was in the right: for who would the course of a few days they may be replenot tremble to find himself embarked in nished with a fuller measure of faith than the same cause, with so forlorn, so des- we now enjoy; and we ourselves, on the picable companions ?

other side, fall into the depths of their And thus it is evident, that they who present blindness and misery; we ought wear no more than the outward mask of to do for them, what we desire should be these principles, are the most unhappy done to us in their case; to entreat them, counterfeits in the world; inasmuch as that they would take pity on themselves, they are obliged to put a continual force and would at least advance a step or two and constraint on their genius, only that forward, if perchance they may come they may render themselves the most im- into the light. For which end it is wished, pertinent of all men living.

that they would employ in the perusal of If they are heartily and sincerely troubled this piece, some few of those hours, which at their want of light, let them not dissem- they spend so unprofitably in other pur ble the disease. Such a confession could suits. It is possible they may gain somenot be reputed shameful; for there really what by the reading; at least, they canis no shame, but in being shameless. not be great losers: but if any shall apply Nothing betrays so much weakness of themselves to it, with perfect sincerity, sou), as not to apprehend the misery of and with an unseigned desire of knowing man, while living without God in the the truth, I despair not of their satisfacworld: nothing is a surer token of extreme tion, or of their being convinced by so baseness of spirit, than not to hope for the many proofs of our divine religion, as reality of external promises : no man is so they will here find laid together. stigmatized a coward, as he that acts the

Mons. Pascal. bravo against heaven. Let them therefore leave these impieties to those who are born § 119. On the Old and New Testament. with so unhappy a judgment, as to be ca- The Old Testament hath, by the general pable of entertaining them in earnest. If consent of learned men, all the marks of they cannot be Christian men, let them, purest antiquity; there being nothing in however, be men of honour: and let them, the world which in this respect is equal to in conclusion, acknowledge, that there are it, or which may pretend to be compared but two sorts of persons, who deserve to with it; all other the most ancient monube styled reasonable, either those who serve ments of antiquity coming short of it by God with all their heart, because they many ages. It was written in the first know him; or those who seek him with and most ancient language; from which all their heart, because as yet they know the very alphabets and letters of all other

languages were derived. If then there are persons who sincerely

This book contains, as the most an

him not.

cient, so the most exact story of the are to be regularly guided in their natuworld, the propagation of men, and the ral course, should frequently, or upon dispersing of families into the several parts every little occasion, be violated or disof the earth.

ordered. And though this book were written in To which may be added that wonderful several ages and places, by several per- way whereby this religion hath been pro

, sons; yet doth the doctrine of it accord

pagated in the world with much simplitogether, with a most excellent harmony, city and infirmity in the first publishers of without any dissonance or inconsistency. it; without arms, or faction, or favour of

And for the manner of delivering the great men, or the persuasions of philosothings contained in it, 'tis so solemn, re- phers or orators; only by the naked proverend, and majestic, so exactly suited to posal of plain, evident truth, with a firm

, the nature of things, as may justly provoke resolution of suffering and dying for it, by our wonder and acknowledgment of its di- which it hath subdued all kind of persevine original.

cutions and oppositions, and surmounted And as for the New Testament; those whatever discouragement or resistance

; various correspondences, which it bears could be laid in its way, or made against it.

. to the chief things of the Old Testament, The excellency of the things contained may sufficiently evidence that mutual rela- in the Gospel are also so suitable to a ration, dependence, and affinity which there tional being, as no other religion or prois between them. That in such an age there fession whatsoever hath thought of, or 80 was such a man as Christ, who preached expressly insisted upon. such a doctrine, wrought many miracles, Some of the learned Heathens have suffered an ignominious death, and was placed the happiness of man in the exterafterwards worshipped as God, having nal sensual delights of this world. abundance of disciples and followers, at Others of the wiser Heathens have first chiefly among the vulgar, but, a while spoken sometimes doubtfully concerning after, amongst several of the most wise a future state, and therefore have placed and learned men; who in a short space the reward of virtue in the doing of virof time did propagate their belief and doc- tuous things. Virtue is its own reward. trine into the most remote parts of the Wherein, though there be much of truth, world: I say, all this is for the truth of yet it doth not afford encouragement the matter of fact, not so much as doubted enough for thevast desires of a rational soul. or called into question, by Julian, or Cel- Others, who have owned a state after sus, or the Jews themselves, or any other this life, have placed the happiness of it of the most avowed enemies of Christianity. in gross and sensual pleasures, feasts, and But we have it by as good certainty as any gardens, and company, and other such rational man can wish or hope for, that is, low and gross enjoyments. by universal testimony, as well of enemies Whereas the doctrine of Christianity as friends.

doth fix it upon things that are much And if these things were so, as to the more spiritual and sublime; the beatific matter of fact, the common principles of vision, a clear unerring understanding, a nature will assure us, that 'tis not consistent perfect tranquillity of mind, a conformity with the nature of the Deity, his truth, to God, a perpetual admiring and praising wisdom, or justice, to work such miracles of him: than which the mind of man canin confirmation of a lie or imposture.

not fancy any thing that is more excellent Nor can it be reasonably objected that or desirable. these miracles are now ceased ; and we As to the duties that are enjoined in have not any such extraordinary way to reference to divine worship, they are so confirm the truth of our religion. "Tis full of sanctity and spiritual devotion, as sufficient that they were upon the first may shame all the pompous solemnities plantation of it, when men were to be in- of other religions, in their costly sacrifices, stituted and confirmed in this new doc- their dark wild mysteries, and external trine. And there may be as much of observances. Whereas this refers chiefly the wisdom of Providence in the forbear- to the holiness of the mind, resignation to ing them now, as in working them then: God, love of him, dependence upon him, it being not reasonable to think that the submission to his will

, endeavouring to be universal laws of nature, by which things like him.

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And as for the duties of the second thing which he inquires about is capable table, which concern our mutual conver- of: and that man is to be looked upon as sation towards one another, it allows no- froward and contentious, who will not rest thing that is hurtful or noxious, either to satisfied in such kind of evidence as is ourselves or others; forbids all kind of in- counted sufficient, either by all others, or jury or revenge; commands to overcome by most, or by the wisest men. evil with good; to pray for enemies and If we suppose God to have made any persecutors; doth not admit of any men- revelation of his will to mankind, can any tal, much less any corporal uncleanness; man propose or fancy any better way doth not tolerate any immodest or un- for conveying down to posterity the cercomely word or gesture; forbids us to tainty of it, than that clear and universal wrong others in their goods and posses- tradition which we have for the history of sions, or to misspend our own; requires us the gospel ? And must not that man be to be very tender both of our own and very unreasonable, who will not be conother men's reputations; in brief, it en- tent with as much evidence for an ancient joins nothing but what is helpful, and use- book or matter of fact, as any thing of ful, and good for mankind. Whatever any that nature is capable of ? If it be only philosophers have prescribed concerning infallible and mathematical certainty that their moral virtues of temperance, and can settle his mind, why should he beprudence, and patience, and the duties of lieve that he was born of such parents, and several relations, is here enjoined, in a far belongs to such a family? 'Tis possible more eminent, sublime, and comprehen- men might have combined together to desive manner: besides such examples and lude him with such a tradition. Why may incitations to piety as are not to be paral- he not as well think, that he was born a leled elsewhere: the whole system of its prince and not a subject, and consequently doctrines being transcendently excellent, deny all duties of subjection and obedience and 80 exactly conformable to the highest, to those above him? There is nothing so purest reason, that in those very things wild and extravagant, to which men may wherein it goes beyond the rules of moral not expose themselves by such a kind of philosophy, we cannot in our best judg- nice and scrupulous incredulity. ment but consent to submit to it.

Whereas, if to the inquiries about reIn brief; it doth in every respect soligion a man would but bring with him fully answer the chief scope and design of the same candour and ingenuity, the same religion, in giving all imaginable honour readiness to be instructed, which he doth and submission to the Deity, promoting to the study of human arts and sciences, the good of mankind, satisfying and sup- that is, a mind free from violent prejudices, porting the mind of man with the highest and a desire of contention; it can hardly kind of enjoyments, that a rational soul be imagined, but that he must be convinced

or hope for, as no other religion and subdued by those clear evidences, or profession whatsoever can pretend which offer themselves to every inquisiunto.

tive mind, concerning the truth of the Infidels pretend want of clear and in principles of religion in general, and confallible evidence for the truth of Christi- cerning the divine authority of the Holy anity; than which nothing can be more Scriptures, and the Christian religion. absurd and unworthy of a rational man.

Bishop Wilkins. For let it be but impartially considered ; what is it, that such men would have? Do § 120. To the Sceptics and Infidels of the they expect mathematical proof and cer

Age. tainty in moral things? Why, they may

Gentlemen, as well expect to see with their ears, and Suppose the mighty work accomplished, hear with their eyes: such kind of things the cross trampled upon, Christianity every being altogether as disproportioned to such where proscribed, and the religion of nakind of proofs, as the objects of the several ture once more become the religion of senses are to one another. The arguments Europe ; what advantage will you have or proof to be used in several matters are derived to your country, or to yourselves of various and different kinds, according from the exchange ? I know your answer to the nature of the things to be proved. --you will have freed the world from the And it will become every rational man to hypocrisy of priests, and the tyranny of yield to such proofs, as the nature of the superstition.- No; you forget that Ly

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