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of his “ concern of the cause of virtue, and the “ interest of practical religion * !” I do not, in deed, build my reasoning wholly on the case of persecution ; neither doth the apostle himself, as will afterwards appear: However, I do not ex-, clude it. On the contrary, I refer to it frequently, and should have dwelt more largely upon it, but that the other considerations I suggest, were more aplicable to the character of the person deceased; which was (as I have already said) the point from whence I chiefly took my view in this argument.
Fourthly, Even when I do not suppose good men to be under a state of persecurion, yet still I suppose them to live in a state of mortifi ation and self-denial; to be under a perpetual conflict with their bodily appetites and inclinations, and strug, gling to get the mastery over them. I suppose them oblidged, “ by their principles, not to taste « so freely of the pleasures of life" (the innocent pleasures of lite ; for such I manifestly mean) “as to other men dot; but to fit as loose from them, 6 and be as moderate in the use of them, as they it can t; not only to forbear i of: gratifications « which are forbidden by therui s o religion; but “ even to restrain themselves, in unforbidden in« stances t." And whenever they taste even the allowable pleasures of fenfe, I suppose them to be at under such checks froin reason and reflexion, « as, by representing perpetually to their mind the " meanness of all these sensual graticfiations, do, “ in great measure, blunt the edge of their keen
i «est desires, and pall all their enjoyments*.» - And have I not reason therefore to say, that
“ good' and pious persons, by the nature and * tendency of their principles, (as they are most « exposed to the troubles and ill accidents of lifet, 6 so) are the greatest strangers to the pleasures « and advantages of it I?' And would not these
be great and needless abatements of their happi·ness, if it were confined within the compass of this
life only? But surely it doth not from hence follow, have I once suggested, much less affirmed, “ That the practise of vice doth in its own nature « tend to make men more happy, in all states of e this life, than the practice of virtue ll.” This is an affertion by which the great author of our nature, and enactor of the law of good and evil, is highly dishonoured and blafphemed ; and which cannot by any one, who hath the least sense of religion, be repeated, without being abhorred.
That virtue and vice do in their own natures tend to make those inen happy, or miserable, who severally practise them, is a proposition of undoubted (and, I am sure, by me undisputed) truth; as far as it relates to moral virtue or vice, properly so called ; that is, to those measures of duty, whiah natural reason, unenlightened by revelation, prescribes : For as to those rules of evangelical perfection, in which we Christians are obliged to excel; they are (some of thein) of so exalted a nature, fo contrary to flesh and blood, and so far above our ordinary capacities and powers, that, if there were no other life than this,
: p. 8. preceding + Sect. p. 32. p. 8.2. | Let. P. 33.
I see not how our happiness could generally be
said to consist in the practice of them. And - therefore, when God made them matter of strict
duty to us; he at the same time animated us to * obcdience (not only by afsuring us of the extra. : ordinary affiftance of his good Spirit, but) by a
clear discovery of a future state of rewards and punishments; whereas the Jews, who had the promises of this life only, had also, in proportion
to those promises, a lowerand less excellent scheme - of duty proposed to them.
And here also this author is altogether filent; for he takes no notice of these improvements made by the gospel in the measures of our duty ; · but he supposes every where the Christian and - Heathen morality to be in all respects the fame :
and that the innocent pleasures of life (which · must be allowed to have some share in perfecting · human happiness) are no more affected and retrenched by the one, than the other. He supposes all the instances of abstinence, mortification, and self-denial, which the gospel enjoins, to be included within those rules of virtue, which the light of nature teaches us to follow; and upon this foundation proceeds to represent me as af. firming, that “ the best of men are rendered « more miserable than the wicked, by the prac“ tice of virtue *:” whereas, in truth I only maintain, that the best Christians (who are un. questionably the best of men) are, by their observance of some gospel-precepts, rendered (more misereable, or, which is all one) less happy, than
they would otherwise be, if they were released from those obligations. And, consequently, were there no hope of a life after this, they, who are not tied up to those severities, would bave a manifest advantage. Qyer those who are...
I instance indeed in some acts of virtue common to heathens and Christians; but I suppose them to be performed by Christians after (a Christian, that is, after) a more sublime and excellent manner than ever they were among the heathens ; and even, when they do not differ in kind, from moral virtués, Itrictly so stiled, yet to differ in the degrees of perfection with which they are attended.
This distinction between a ftate of virtue and a ftate of mortification, between moral goodness and evangelical perfection, and the greater restraints (in point of worldly pleasures and advantages) which are laid upon men by the former of these than by the latter, ought the rather to have been obftrved and owned by the Letter-writer, because in the
Fifth Place; I pretend not to compare the happiness of men and beasts, good men and bad, any further than it results from worldly pleasures and advantages, and the objects of sense that surround us. For these are my words: "Were there " no other life but this, men would really be « more miferable than beasts, and the best men “ would be often the most miserable. I mean,
as far as bappiness, or misery, are to be meafum " red front pleasing or painful fenfations *.” This
is the restriction which I more exprelly and fore mally insist on, than any other. At the very opening of the argument it occurs; nor do l, in the prosecution of it, use any one instance, or illustration, but what relates to such pleasing and painful fenfations, or to those delightful and une easy reflexions of mind, which are, fome way or other, consequent upon them. And if, in these respects (and further I do not go *) the happinefs of beasts exceeds that of inen, and the happiness of the wicked that of the virtuous, it will not weaken what I have urged, to fhew, that, in other refpects (such as the Letter-writer largely displays) the advantage may lie on the contrary fide; because, were it so, yet this advantage would not be fufficient to turn the scale, accordi ing to my supisition : which is, that " without “ the hope of another life, pleafing and painful “ sensations” (taken together with those inward reflexions which are naturally consequent upon them) “ might be esteemed the true measure of “ happiness and misery t.”
On this supposition (which I had not then time to explain and prove) all my reasonings proceed; and cannot therefore be affected by any objections, which are so far from being built on the fame bottom, that they are designed to overthrow it. Whether this fupposition be true or false, may be a new matter of dispute : But if it be true, the argument I raife from thence is certainly true, and the objections of the Letter-writer are as certainly vain and impertinent; being levelled rather
Sec p. 4. So
Soc p. 4.