Page images
PDF
EPUB

far it is charged as new, and with how little reafon.

My declared intention, in that part of my Sermon which displeases the Letter-Writer, is, to “ explain that great argument for a future state, « which St Paul hath couched in the words” of my text. If in this life only we have hope in Chrift, we are of all men most miferable. I suppose them to signify, That “ if all the benefits we expect from “ the Christian institution were confined within “ the bounds of this life, and we had no hopes « of a better state after this, of a great and lasting os reward in á life to come ; we Christians should “ be the most abandoned and wretched of crea« tures; all other forts and fects of men would « evidently have the advantage of us, and a much “ furer title to happiness than we. From whence I say, the apostle would be understood to infer “ (though the inferance be not expressed) that -“ therefore there must needs be another state, to “ make up the inequalities of this, and to solve « all irregular appearances," p. 2.

In the explication of this argument, I profess, to urge (what i call) the concellion of the apostle Somewhat further than the Letter of the text will carry us, by asserting, under two different heads, “ That were there no life after this, ift, Men “ would be more miserable than beasts; and 2dly, « The best men would be often the most miserable. “ I mean, as far as happiness or mifery are to be “ measured from pleasing and painful sensations. " And, suposing the present to be the only life we " are to lead, I feę not but that this might be VOL. II.

“ esteemed

« esteemed the true measure of them.” *Upon the first of these heads I shew, that “ in this life beasts “have, in many respects, the advantage of men; « in as much as they (1) enjoy greater sensual « pleasures, and (2) feel fewer corporal pains, sand (3) are utter ftrangers to all those anxious “ and tormenting thoughts, which perpetually “ haunt and disquiet mankind t. I enlarge on these particulars, and then proceed on the same foot likewise to shew, That « the best men would « be often the most miserable ;" since “ their « principles (1) give them not leave to taste fo « freely of the pleasures of life, as other men's do, « and (2) expose them more to the troubles and « dangers of it,” p. 6.

Both these points I illustrate by various instances; and, upon the whole, conclude, “ That « therefore, as certainly as God is, a time there “ will and must be, when all these unequal distri“ butions of good and evil shall be set right, and « the wisdom and reasonableness of all his trans“ actions, with all his creatures, be made as clear “ as the noon-day," p. 10.

I was willing to represent to the reader, at one view, the whole courfe of my reasoning, according to the order in which it lies, and in the very words, which I have made use of to express it in my Sermon. If he compares this short Account of my Doctrine, with the larger explication given of its several branches in the Sermon itself, he will find, That (whatever the Letter-Writer boldly affirms to the contrary) it must be understood,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

men, who in th: against whom are such as thore

and is by me actually proposed, under the Restrictions following:

1 When I prefer beasts to men, and bad men to good, in point of happiness, it is upon a supposition, not only that there is no other life than this, but that mankind are persuaded that there is none. The men I speak of, are such as those Corinthians were again it whom St. Paul argued ; men, who “in this life only have hope in Christ;" such as “ expect no benefits from the Christian +86 Institution, but what are confined within the ** bounds of this present life, and have no hopes * of a better ftate after this, of a great and lasting * reward in a life to come *.” This is the account which I exprefly give of them when I enter on the argument, and which I repeat several times t in the course of it; and which must be

understood all along, even where it is not men* tioned. And such a sort of Christians I may be allowed to suppose now, fince such there manifestly were in the days of the apostles. Nor does it any ways interfere with this supposition, to represent these very men, as having now and then so the uneasy presages of a future reckoning” and as scaring themselves sometimes with the fears of another life, even while they do not entertain the hopes of it. This, I doubt not is the case of all such who profefs to disbelieve a future state ; they are not always equally satisfied with their own reasonings about it, but tremble sometimes at the thoughts of it. My Reprover, therefore, deals very unfairly, when he reckons this among the

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

advantages peculiar to men, that they “ have the “ present support of the belief of a Future State, « and the firm expectation of Rewards *" in a life to come; and assures his Readers, with equal modesty and truth, that this is “ agreeable to “ what'I supposed t," whereas I suppose the quite contrary ; and, on that supposition, all my reasonings and reflexions turn. Nor is there a word, throughout the whole argument, that can justly be construed to a different meaning.

2. Procecding on this supposition, I amirm, not that the best men would be always, but often the most miserable. And that I might be sure of not being misapprehended. I repeat this (or some other equivalent) expression at least fix times ], in the compass of a few pages. Nor doth the argument, which I am explaining, require a more extensive supposition; it being equally necessary that there Bhould be a future ftate to vindicare the justice of God, and five the present irregularities of Providence, whether the best men be oftentimes only, or always the most miferable. The Letter-Writer diffembles bis knowledge of this remarka''e reítriction ; and, having taken a lvantage from thence to argue and object as he pleased, contents himself slightly to mention it towards the close of his pamphlet; which was discreetly done, fince an earlier acknowledgment of it would have discovered at first fight, even to the meanet of his readers, the impertinence of several of those objections and arguments. He would excuse this procedure, by

* 1.9 21. Sces p.25 39.31.

p. 3, 4.6 8 9.11.

saying, faring, at last, Thit though “ I profefs only to « Thew that the best men are often the most mi. “ serable,” yet I argue, as if th-y were always fo*, viz. “ froin that obligation to fo ne parti< cular practices, from which they are never ex“ empt in any condition of this life + :" Which is as great and groundless a misrepresentation as any of the former ; Since,

3dly, My chief proof of this point is drawn from that state of perfecution, to which good men above all others are subjeét; Because “ their “ principles expose them most to the troubles and “ dangers of life † ;” because “ fore evils and « temporal inconveniencies attend the lischarge “ of their duty || ;” they “ become a reproach “ and a bye-word, are injured and outraged, “ suffer unjuft and illegal encroachments $; the “ greatest faints being sometimes made the most “ remarkable instinces of suffering :' for they are inflexible in their uprightness - No prospect of intereit can allur them, no fear of danger “ can dilinay them *.” Would one imagine, after all thefe expressions, and several others of the fame kind that I have made use of, any man so loft to all sense of justice, and truth as to say, That “ I suppose no cafe of persecution + ?" that “ I do not once suppor such a state of persecution “ as the apostle pointed at ? but maintain my po“ fitions wirh referrence to the moit quiet and “ properos state of his life t?” Certainly the letter-writer doch not mean this as one in itance

• I. p. 41. L. p. 12 Ser.p. 6 I p. 10. • p. 8. † Let. p. 29.

p. 8, 9, L. p. 26.

p. ibido

« PreviousContinue »