Page images
PDF
EPUB

How far - Men of irreligious Lives and Principles are chargeable with these Abuses, they can best inform themselves : And surely the Hopes of Immortality, and Fears of Heli, should compose them to so much Seriousness, as to ask themselves that Question. But, after all, if, upon a View of the whole Matter, and of the Evidences that Reason and Revelation afford us of a future State; they will not submit to the Doctrines and Precepts of Religion, they must be left to the Event for a fuller Demonstration of their Folly. If there be really a future State of Rewards and Punishments, both the Punishments and the Rewards must be very inconsiderable indeed not to make it worth a Man's while to live up to the Conditions of being happy. So that, when the Dispute is concerning the Folly of Irreligion, we may remit a great deal of the Truth in allowing the Punishment to be less than really it is, and the Argument will still have Force enough to convince Irreligion of Folly. The Punishment in all Cases must exceed the Advantage the Offender will reap by tranfgressing the Law; or else, as much as the Gain to be reaped by breaking the Law exceeds the Punishment annexed to

the

the Breach, so much Encouragement there. will be for Men to offend. Therefore we may be sure that God, who is the wiselt of Lawgivers, has taken such Care to guard his Laws and Statutes, that there shall be no Encouragement for Offenders. Upon which Account we may assure ourselves, that, let the Pleasures and Advantages of Sin and Irreligion be ever so numerous or great, the Punishment shall still be greater : So that Men shall say, when they are to pay the Price of their Sins, they have sinned exceeding foolishly. Wicked Men spend their Time to no purpose in disputing against the Punishments of Sin, which are revealed to us; I. mean, against the Nature of them: For, if they once allow that Sin and Wickedness Thall be punished, their own Reason will inform them that the Punishment must at least be so great, as to make it worth a Man's while to abstain from Sin. So that all Sinners must be guilty of Folly in chuling the Sin with the Punishment, when the Punishment must of Necessity exceed the Advantage of finning.

These are the easiest Terms that Şinners can flatter themselves with; and yet, even upon this View, the Pleasures of Sin will

VOL. III.

prove

prove a dear Bargain. But should the Punishments of another Life be, what we have but too much Reason to fear they will be, what Words can then express the Folly of Sin? Short are your Days in this World, and foon they shall expire: And should Religion at last prove a mere Deceit, we. know the worst of it; it is an Error for which we cannot suffer after Death: Nor will the Infidels there have the Pleasure to reproach us with our Mistake; they and #e, in equal Rest, shall fleep the Sleep of Death. But should our Hopes, and their Fears, prove true ; should they be so unhappy, as not to die for ever; which miferable Hope is the only Comfort that Infidelity affords; what Pains and Torments must they then 'undergo? Could I represent to you the different States of good and bad Men : Could I give you the Prospect which the blessed Martyr St. Stephen had, and thew you the blessed Jesus at the right Hand of God, furrounded with Angels, and the Spirits of just Men made perfe&t: Could I open your Ears to hear the never-ceasing Hymns of Praise, which the Blessed above Jing to Him that was, and is, and is to comes to the Lamb tbat was hain, but liveth for ever:

. Could Could I lead yoų through the unbounded Regions of eternal Day, and shew the mu-, tual and ever-blooming Joys of Saints who are at rest from their Labour, and live for ever in the Presence of God! Or, could I change the Scene, and unbar the iron Gates of Hell, and carry you, through solid Darkness, to the Fire that never goes out, and to tbe Worm that never dies : Could I shew you the apostate Angels fast bound in eternal Chains, or the Souls of wicked Men overwhelmed with Torment and Despair: Could I open your Ears to hear the Deep itself groan with the continual Cries of Misery; Cries which can never reach the Throne of Mercy, but return in fad Echoes, and add even to the very Horrors of Hell! Could I thus set before you the different Ends of Religion and Infidelity, you would want no other Proof to convince you that nothing can recompense the Hazard Men run of being for ever miserable through Unbelief. But, though neither the Tongues of Men nor of Angels can express the joys of Heaven, or describe the Pains of Hell; yet, if there be any Truth in Religion, these Things are certain, and near at hand.

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

Consider therefore with yourselves, that when you judge of Religion, something more depends upon your Choice, than the Credit of your Judgment, or the Opinion of the World. For God's fake! think Religion at least so serious a Thing, as to deserve your coolest Thoughts, and not fit to be determined in your Hours of Gaiety and Leisure, or in the accidental Converfation of public Places, Trust yourself with yourself; retreat from the Influence of difsolute Companions; and take the Advice of the holy Psalmist: Stand in awe, and fin not : Commune with your own Heart, and in your Chamber, and be still.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »