« PreviousContinue »
riences of vital religion, which are necessary to constitute them Christians indeed.-- This is aimed at in the publication of most of the following Letters.
The danger we are in of prevailing Antinomianism, and the actual prevalence that it has already obtained (especially under the name of Moravianism) in some parts of the country, is a sufficient justification of the attempt I have made to set the founda. tion-error of the Antinomians in a true light, and to discover its dangerous tendency.
If any are inclined to censure me for troubling the world with new discourses upon such subjects as I had publicly treated on before, particularly the Evidences of Christianity, the Sovereignty of divine Grace, Faith and Justification ; they may consider, that these are most important points, and deferve the most particular illustration ; that there is at this
a special call to remove the objections against them out of the way; and that this is now attempt. ed in a different manner from my former discourses on these subjects; and, I trust, with some addi. tional evidence to the truth.
If any of my readers are so curious as to inquire, to whom these Letters were directed ? It is sufficient answer, that they are now by the Press directed to
them; and if they can improve them to their spiri- tual advantage, it will answer the end of their pu.
blication. May the blessing of GOD attend them to this purpose.
C Ο Ν Τ Ε Ν Τ S.
-XVII. The Nature and Neceffity of our Union
Variety of RELIGIOUS SUBJECTS.
LETTER I. Wherein the Danger of
Infidelity is briefly represented.
SIR, Heartily rejoice to hear from you, that you are at last come into a “ Resolution, immediately to
“ enter upon a serious and impartial examina" tion of the Christian Religion." What you observe is certainly true, " that this is an affair of too
great consequence to be carelessly neglected, to « be decided at the club, or to be rejected by « wholesale, with the too common arguments of “ mirth and raillery, fneer and banter." I should therefore be inexcusable, should I refuse a compliance with your request, to “ maintain a correspond. “ ence with you by letter; and affist you, what I can,
in your inquiries into the truth of Christiani.
the nature of the Christian institution, and the s character and qualifications of those who are in“ titled to the rewards therein promised.” But what can a gentleman of your capacities expect from me? And has not this cause been clearly and fully handled, especially of late, by a variety of authors? Has it not triumphed over all oppofition? Have not its poor deluded opposers been covered with shame and confusion, in all their feeble attempts to sub
vert our faith, and to destroy the blessed hope of our future happiness? And are not these books in your hands?-Read them, Sir, with that attention which such an awful and important affair demands of you; and I think you cannot fail of obtaining conviction and satisfaction.
To your inquiry, “ How shall I first enter upon “ a proper disquisition of this cause?” I answer, in a few words. Consider the importance of it : Con sider, I intreat you, that it is an eternal concern. Were this duly considered, it would be impossible for you to content yourself in such a state, wherein there is so much as a peradventure as to the dread. ful and astonishing consequences of a disappointment.
You may perhaps have hitherto concluded all re. vealed religion to be but a mere cheat and impofture.
-You may have borne your part in the conversa. tion at taverns or coffee-houses, against priestcraft, cant, and enthusiasm.-You may have ridiculed all pretences to vital piety; and exploded all the go. spel doctrines refpecting future rewards and punish. ments, as unreasonable, or unintelligible dreams and fictions.—Well! supposing you were in the right, What happiness, what comfort or satisfaction would your infidelity afford you?-What rational man would envy you the confolation of imagining your. self upon a level with the beasts, and of expecting that death will terminate all your hopes and fears!
What believer would part with the glorious hope of eternal and inexpressible happiness and joy, for the gloomy prospect of annihilation !
It is certain, upon this supposition, the believer can be in no danger; he has nothing to lose, or to fear; but has every way the advantage of you.He has the present satisfaction of being a favourite of Heaven.--He has a continual source of support and comført, amidst the darkest scenes of Providence,
from the gracious Promises of the Gospel.---He can overcome the miseries of life, and the terrors of death, with the ravishing view of a blessed immortality.-And it is certain, if mistaken, he will never lament his disappointment, but sleep as quietly in a state of non-existence as you can do.
But perhaps I have mistook your sentiments. You may possibly have given into an opinion of a future existence, though you have called the truth of the Gospel into question.-Be it so. Yet, upon this sup. position also, the believer has vastly the advantage of you. He has all the happiness in this life which Christianity affords; and this you must be a stranger 10.-He can live in comfort, and die in peace. His religion deprives him of nothing, which can any way contribute to his rational happiness and delight; but every way tends to subserve and promote them. And certainly (even upon your own principles) he may have as fair a claim to Sincerity, in his endea. vours to approve himself to the glorious Author of our being, as you can have ; and consequently as good a prospect of future blessedness. --So that, upon the whole, it is evident that he has nothing to fear from his principles, whether they be true or false.He has no cause for those stinging reflections, What if I am mistaken! What if my sentiments should prove false, when it comes to the decisive trial!
And now, let us turn the tables; and consider the bitter fruits of your fatal mistake, if Christianity fhould at last prove true.-You cannot but acknow. ledge, that there have been great numbers of men of the best moral qualifications, whose intellectual powers were no ways inferior to theirs on the other side of the question, who have professed the truth, and experienced the power of that religion, which you have despised.--How many most excellent perfons, of the greatest integrity, learning and sagacity,