Page images

mistakes and injurious misrepresentations, it will become him publicly to own and retract them; and I now call upon him, in my turn, to do it. If he doth not, they will lie heavy upon him in another world, to whomsoever he may have recommended himself, in this, by the means of them.

After I had finished this Preface, and a great part of it was printed, there came to my hands an Aflize Sermon, preached lately in the Cathedral at Winchester, by Mr. Richard Weft, Prebendary of that Church, He hath, I find, stept a little out of his way, to give his peremptory opinion in the points controverted between me and the Letter-Writer; and withal, to prove himself no competent judge of them. For, after affirming, “ That the PŘACTICE of Christian “ virtues, though we set aside the confideration

of a future reward, HAVE a fairer title to « present happiness than their contrary vices" (which is better Divinity than Grammar); he proceeds to say, “ Nor does it appear that the «« Pharisees themselves ever denied it, THOʻ a: “ Notion hath been invented of late, that prefers « brutish pleasures (for the more brutish, it “ seems, the more preferable) to thofe of “ religion.” Serm. p. 7, 8.

It is a shrewd remark which this fagacious writer here makes, that “ though a notion hath

been invented of late,” yet it doth not appear that the Pharisees of old had the same notions ; he might with as great acuteness of judgment have observed, that the art of printing doth not appear to have been known to the antients, tho' it hath been invented since their times. But to pass by this judicious cöservation-if Mr Wer pleases to read over my sermon and this preface, he will easily see, that he hath mistaken my notion, of which he here gives a very injurious account, in very unseemly language; to say no worse of it. He is still more mistaken in thinking that to be a late invention of mine, which hath been asserted by so many pious and eminent pens of our own and other communions; to whose sentiments a man, that professes to dedicate himself to the study of divinity, ought not to have been altogether a stranger. And I am very apt to think also, that he hath, in this paragraph, mistaked the Pharisees for the Saducees. The Şaducees, indeed did " set aside the confideratica of a future reward,” and yet pretended to support the practice of virtue upon the foot of present happiness as Epicurus likewise did ; from whom they are sometimes called Epicureans, in the Jewish writings. Neither Epicurus nor Zadok declared openly for vice and immoralty, though they denied a future state; but held happiness to be attainable in this life by our own conduct and virtues. But it no way appears, that the Pharia sees had any such notions or disputes as these stirring among them, or any occasion to deliver their opinion about the title, “ which the practise of virtue hath to present happiness; setting aside the consideration of a future reward:” And why, therefore, their authority should be vouched to this purpose, I do by no means comprehend.

Much less can I imagine, why a Jewish sect (whether of Pharisees or Saducee's] should be re

k 2

presented, presented, as delivering their judgment about the consequence of practiling Christian virtues; a point in which they had as little reason to concern themselves as Mr West hath to interpofe in this difpute, unless he were better acquainted with the true ftate and grounds of it, and with the opinions of those who have gone before him in the argument, I hope, this was not one of the correct pairages, which Mr Jirurile and the other gentlemen had in their view, when they " detired hiin to print his most excellent fermon-Of which I am tempted to say somewhat more, but fall forbear; have ing, I hope, sufficiently prevented whatever this goutuman haili laid, or can fay, against any part of my doctrine. And some attacks are so harmle's, that nothing but a defence can make them confiderable.

What gave rise to this civil digreslion of Mr. Hist, and at whose fhrine he offered his incense, is too plain to admit of any doubt; and carries in it a reflection, so much to the disadvantage of religion, that, could it pofiibly be concealed, I should think myself obliged to passit over in silence. How must it afiliet good men, to consider, that our unhappy disputcs about Rights and Privileges f uld, fpreid themselves into points of a forcign nure, and of the most facred importance: and be pursued to the very horns of the altar, withC!;! any regud to the interells of our common (" risiinity! Wh! can we not difter about ad.

ironieri, without difturing also about the evinevices of intre flate, and managing our contefs on that head, in such a manner as even to take part willi, and make sport for, unbelievers ?


Are these the blessed effects of that moduration and temper, of which we have heard so much in their writings, and feen so little in their practices ? How long 'fhall the best words in the world be thus perversely applied to the worst purposes; and made use of to cover and advance designs, widely distant from our specious pretensions? Can we look upon it as one instance of that most amiable virtue, to stand by cool and unconcerued for the great truths of religion ? neither to defend them ourselves, nor yet suffer them to be defended by others ? and, when we chance to spy an Egyptian finiting an Hebrew, one of our brethren, to be fo far from avenging the wrong, as tu encurage and assist the doer of it? What is this, but to jinitate the wicked policy of our worit enemy, which we have so often conplained of? For move on quent have some men been in their invectives gainst a neighbouring prince (the fuljic ofur panegyricks on fome other occafio.) for inaking scandalous leagues with Nianome!.?!..; Roni attico ing Christians in conjunction with rice el mies of Chr stendom? ind is then: Coacticis liable to reproach, who are in idhini 110pouse the cause een of:fiurity ist , Fatihan miss an opportuniry of exprefins cher relia ments against men they do tiitlik, 12. kleia ins, up their little pirty-inteis anir"? We bieri wis drou os ini. ...i did we take this way of kei n ' : : athrijm and 47: loisdry, Lap ii in W now in less 10 ?fbeinn. Li God's nice time . . let us usi !!? ..' , no. .,

pital doctrines, which we all equally embrace, and are alike concerned to maintain: Nor let our personal views and prejudices (if we will not be persuaded to part with them) ever lead us to do any thing, that may expose religion itself to the laughter and scorn of profane men; who sboot out the lip, and shake the head, saying, Aha! So we would have it.


« PreviousContinue »