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Foundation to support it. However, it may be of some use, carefully to examin what this Writer hath said, in order
, by a remarkable instance, to Shew, how little Credit is due to Accusations of this kind, when they come from suspected (that is, from Nameless) Pens ; and borv arefully the Mask of Religion may sometimes be put on, to cover Designs which cannot be decently own'd
That part of my Sermon, to which the Letter-Writer bath confind his Reflections, contains the Explicacion of an Argument, which I suppose employ'd by the Apoftle, in the Text, for the proof of a Future State.
And I had reason therefore to hope, what I off-r'd on this bead, fhould be favourably receiv'd, and candidly interpreted by all such as did in good earnest believe such a State. And yet, to my surprize, I have found one, who would be thought seriously to entertain this Belief, deavouring all be can to weaken an Argument (and indeed the Chief Argument drawn from Reason alone) by which it is upheld. I might have expected this Treatment indeed from the Pen of some Libertine, or disguis d Unbeliever: it being an Usual piece of Art, with ibat sort of Men, to undermine the Authority of Fundamental Truths, by pretending to Shew, how weak and improper the Proofs are, which their Afferters employ in the defence of them. But I did not, and could not expect this Usage from a Writer, who every
where inwouates, and in one place *, I think, pretty plainly * I.pd profeffes himself to be a Sincere Christian. His Con- 31. cern for the Cause of Religion t would have ap
L.pa peared to far greater advantage, if be bad employed it ra. iber ie vindicating some of its great Principles,which are every day openly and
daringly attack'd from the Press, sban in lessening the Force of what I have urg'd in bebalf of one of them. Had I errd in this case, it bad
·been a well-meant Mistake, and might have pass’d un observ'd, at a Time, when Infidelity finds so much Emo ployment of another kind for all those who bave a real Concern for the Cause of Religion.
B fides, Discourses on such Occasions as that on which I then Preachd, are seldom the Productions of Leisure; and should always therefore be read with those favourable tlowances which are made to hasty Composures. So the Doctrine cont ain'd in them be but Wholesome and Edifying, tho' there should be a want of Exactness, here and there, either in the manner of Speaking, or ResSoning, it may be overlock'd, or pardon'd.
Wben any Argument of great Importance is managid with that Warmth and Earneftness which a Serious cono viction of it generally inspires, somewhat may easily escafe, even from a Wary Pen, which will not bear the Tejt of a severe Scrutiny. Facile eft verbum aliquod ardens notare, idque, restinctis (ut ita dicam) animorum incerdiis, irridere ; said one of the best Writers in the World, who himself needed this Excuse as seldom as any Man.
In particular, what I offer'd on that occasion towards the proof of a Future State, deseru'd to be the less rigorously examind, beccuse it was only by way of Introduction to some Practical Points, which I chiefly deSign'd to infijt on. I had not room, in a few Pages at
the entrance of a short Discourse, to consider all things * L.p. on all sides, * to balance the several Advantages, and
Disadvantages that attend the Pleasures of Men and L.p. Beasts, Good Men and Bad. I pretended not fully
to Srate, † much less to Demonstrate, the Truth ... 1. contain' in the Text, as I am fallly reprep. 22, fented .. to bave done. Those are Words which
I never once usd, nor would the Task it self bave been proper at such a Time, and before fuel
23 40, 41.
+ S P. 377.
Auditory: My declar'd Intention was only, to ex* *s.p. plain the Apostle's Argument *, to enlarge on it t; 238. to fhew,by several Inft ances, the andoubtedTruth of it.. to open and apply it ll; and this, by furb Con:5.p federations chiefly, as were in some measure applicable to its p. tbe Person then to be interr’d. For wh-ever gives himself the trouble of reviewing that mean Disc urse, will find that, as it consists of Three Parts; a Speculative point of Doctrine, fume Practical Reflexions, and an Account of the Person deceas d; fo the two former of these Points are handled with a regard to the latter ; tbe Practical Reflexions being all of ihem such as are suited to the Character of the Person, which follows ; and the preceding Doctrine being illustrated in such a manner, and by such Instances, es n.2turally lead both to the one and to the other : that part of the Doctrine, I particularly mean, which is profiled! ly built on the Letter of the Text *, and the express 368.
po Authority of tbe Apostle.
It is no wonder, if in an Argument handled thus briefly, and with such views as these, Every thing should not be faid, which may be thought requifite to clear it. That, as it was no part of my Intention, so neither was it Nectfiry, Proper, or Polible on that oca casion to be done : and therefore, for Omissions of this kind, I need make no excuse. As to the other parts of ibe Charge, which, if true, would really blemish what I have written, i hall, as I promisd, reply to them very distinctly and fully.
The Accusation of my Doctrine turns, I find, upozz Three Heads; That it is altogether New, utterly Foreign from the Intention of the Apostle, on wbole Words I build it, and False in it felt. A A very beavy Cbarge ! nor is the first part of it to be neglected.
For, in Matters of Morality and Religion, which are every one's Concern, and which have therefore been often and throughly examin'd, new Doctrines, or Ara guments are deservedly suspected. And when Orie, who is, by his Function, a Preacher of Virtue, doth,
by advancing such New Doctrines, or Arguments, +L. p. make Concessions to the Cause of Vice † (as I
am said to have done) he is doubly Criminal. Let 11s see, therefore, What I have laid down in that Sermon, how far it is charg’d as New, and with how little Reason.
My declar'd Intention in that part of my Sermon which displeases the Letter-Writer, is, to explain that great Arguinent for a Future State, which St. Paul hath couch'd in the Words of my Text.
If in this Life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men “ most miserable.” I suppose them to signifie, That, If all the Benefits we expect from the Christian Inftitution were confin'd within the Bounds of this Life, and we had no hopes of a better State after this, of a great and lasting Reward in a Life to come; We Christians fhould be the most abandon'd and wretched of Creatures, all other forts and Sects of Men would evidently have the Advantage of Us, and a much furer Title to Happiness than We. From whence, I say, the Apoftle would be understood to infer (though the Inference be not expressid) That, therefore, there must needs be Another State, to make up the
Inequalities of This, and to solve All Irregular 366; Appearances. 367. In the Explication of this Argument, I profefs to
urge (what I call) the Concellion of the Apolle fomewhat farther than the Letter of the Text will
carry us, by afferting 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 Misery are to be measur'd from plealing and painful Sensations. And, supposing the present to be the only Life we are to lead, I see not but that This might be esteem'd the true Measure of them to tp.
Upon the first of these Heads I shew, that in this Life 355. Bealts have, in many respects, the advantage of Men; in as much as they(1) enjoy greater Sensu. al Pleasures,' and (2) feel fewer Corporal Pains, and (3) are utter Strangers to all those Anxious and Tormenting Thoughts, which perpetually haunt and disquiet Mankind*. I enlarge on these * P Particulars, and then proceed, on the same Foot likewise to shew, That the Best Men would be Often the moft miserable ; fince Their Principles (1) give them not leave to tafte fo freely of the Pleasures of Life, as other Mens do, and (2) expose them more to the Troubles and Dangers of it to
Both these Points 1 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 Distributions of Good and Evil shall be ser right, and the Wifdom and Reasonableness of All his Transactions, with All his Creatures, be made as clear as the Noon-day*
I was willing to represent to the Reader, at One 376. View, the whole Course 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.