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indeed, more miserable than beists would such men « be, who wer: always bufied in subduing their « passions, and improving themselves in pietv, and « justice, and every other rirtue. At this rate, “ the animal and belluine life would be the best ; “ virtue would be downright folly; the threats of “ future vengeance, matter of fport and laughter; “the pursuits of all kind of pleasure, our chiefest “ good; and the rule by which men and beasts « ought then equally to guide themselves, would « be that beloved maxiin of the Epicures; Let us « eat and drink, for to-mo rotu w die."
This last paffage from Athenagoras includes, and very strongly affirms, all the parts of my doctrine which have been excepted against; not only my posit.ons, but the notion itself also on which they are founded; and which now, therefore, I proceed likewise to vindicate from the charge of novelty, by the following authorities,
My notion (as it is called) is, That “ fuppofing “ the present to be the only life we are to lead, “ I fee pot but that pleasing and painful sensations "might be esteemed the true measure of happi“ nets and misery” This is all I say of the mat« ter, there being no other paffiges of like import with this throughout my whole ferinon. And have not Archbishop Tiltfo, Dr. Scot, Dr. Sherock, Dr. Luca', and others, faid the fame thing, in a manner less reserved, and in terins of yet greater force and compass, without girin' dry ofere (that I know of) to any of those many serious and understandin; Ghriftiario *, who
daily peruse their excellent writings with pleasure and edification.
drchbishop Tillotson, Vol. ix. p. 08. "The • determination of the apostle is according to the
nature, and the truth and reason of things, That " if in this life only we have ho es, we were of ail * men most miserable. For although it be true, 6 that, as things now stand, and as the nature of man is framed, good men do find a strange kind of inward pleasure and satisfaction in the "discharge of their duty, yet every man, that con'fults his own breast, will find that his delight
and contentment chiefly springs from the hopes which men conceive, That an holy and virtuous "life shall not be unrewarded. And without these hores, virtuc is but a eid an empty name."
Vol. II. 265. If we were sure that there were s no life after this, if we had no expectation of a • happiness or misery b-yond this world; the
wifest thing that any man could do, would be, "10 enjoy as much of the present conteniments rand satisfactions of this world, as he could fairSly come at. For if there be no resurrection to (another life the apostle allows the reasoning
of the Epicure to be very good; Let us eat and s drivik, for to-morro ou ue die."
Dr. Scct's Christ. Lift, Part jii Vol i. Ch. 5: p. 301. If there were no other life after this, it would be folly so much as to attempt it [the enjoyment of God by contemplation and love, and "the imitation of his perfections]; for what man rin his wits would ever think it worth the while 'to spend a considerable part of his life in wag' ing war with himself, mortifying his affections,
(which yet he must do, ere he can arrive at any 'comfortable degree of divine enjoyment) if there 'were no other recompence to be expected at
last, but to live a few days longer in a raptur'ous muse, and then lie down in everlasting dark'ness and insensibility ? Had he not a thousand "times better please and gratify himself at present, 'content his craving desires with the goods that
are before him, and take his fill of those fenfual delights that readily offer themselves to his en'joyment; than run away from them in a
long and wearifome queit of fpiritual joys, • which, for all he knows, he may never arrive .to, or, if he doch, is sure, within a few moments, to be deprived of them for ever?'
Dr. Sherlock s Practical Discourse concerning a Future Judgment, po 116, &c. “The whole
Christian Religion is founded on, and adapted 'to, the belief of a future judgment, and is a ! very uniotelligible institution without it.- The
temporal promises made to an holy and virtuous * life-extend no further than food and rayment,
to gur daily bread- But who would be contented ' with such a scanty provision, while he fees the • greater prosperity of bad men, who diffolve in
ease and luxury, were there not an happy state ! reserved for him in the next world? Where is . the man who would not comply with the Devil's . temptation, to fall down and worship for all the ! kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, I were he not to lose a brighter and a richer I crown for it?'
Ibid. p. 119, C. ! Many of our Saviour's laws • are founded on the supposition of a future * judgment, and are extremely unreasonable, if
rare ' and
there be no rewards or punishments after this • life— The only rule of our actions would (then] • be, to live as long, and to enjoy as much of the • world as we can. But the Christian Religion
will not in many cases allow of this, and there'fore is no religion for this world, were there
not another world to follow-How many re• ftraints doth the Christian Religion lay on us, . to leflen the pleasures and satisfactions of this
life? It teaches us a gr-at indifferency to all the things of this world; but how unreasonable is
that, if this world be our only place of happi"nets?-It commands us to mortify our sensual
appetites, to crucify our flesh with its affections • and lusts, to live above the pleasures of the body,
to pluck out our right eyes, to cut off our right hands : but what reason can there be to deny • ourselves any of these enjoyments, as far as is .consistent with preserving our health and prom!
longing our lives, if we have no expectations (after death? Nay, if men are contented to live sa short and a merry life, what hurt is there in ." it, if death puts an end to them? - It forbids 6 earthly pride and ambition, an affectation of : secular honours and power : But why must we • submit to mearness and contempt in this world, o if this be the only scene of action we shall ever
be concerned in ? For a mean and base spirit is ( no virtue; and for the same reason it can be no
virtue to be contented with a low fortune, to be * patient under sufferings, which, if they never • will be rewarded, is to be patiently miserable,
and that is ftupidity and folly : But to have our (conversation in heaven, to live upon the hopes 6 of unfeen things, iş madness and diftraction, if
there be no heaven, no unfeen things for us « The reasons of most of the Evangelical com
mands must be fetched wholly from the other ' world, and a future judgment.
Bp. Wilkins, Prince of Nat. Rel. p. 67. If there be no such thing to be expected as happi. 'nofs or mifery hereafter, why then the only « business that men are to take care of, is their « present well-being in this world : There being
nothing to be counted either good or bad, but & in order to that: Those things, which we conceive "to be conduceable to it, being the only duties ; &and all other things, which are cross to it, the I only fins. And therefore, whatever a man's k appetite dball incline him to, he ought not to
deny himself in it (be the thing what it will) fo "he can have it, or do it, without probable
danger. Suppose it be ma ter of gain or. (protit, he is difposed to ; if he can cheat or steal * fecurely, this will be fo far from being a fault, that it is plainly his duty; that is, reasonable for him to do; because it is a proper means tơ promote bis chief end. And fo for other cases of aoger, hatred, revenge, &c. According to
this principle, a man must take the first oppor6 tunity of fatisfying thefe paffions, by doing any • kind of mischief to the perfon he is offended. * with, whether by false accusation, or perjury, or (if need be). by poifoning or stabbing him;
provided he can do these things so as to escape sche füpicion of others, and human penalties.” . Vol. II.