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not afraid to say, that he much questions, whether ever there was, or can be a Persecution merely for the sake of the Mortal Virtues of any person *.p.29. A Doubt which flakes the only Moral Evidence of Future State, which be can any ways be suppos'd to allow of : For if Virtue be not persecuted bere, there is certainly (upon his Principles) no reason for rewarding it bereafter. And what could tempt bim to entertain such a Doubt? were not Socrates, and Aristides (to name no other Heathens) plain Instances of the kind? and, when Joseph suffer'd under the Aca cusation of Potiphar's Wife, was be not persecuted merely for the Sake of a Moral Virtue ? And can this be in any degree strange to those who bave confider'd, how wicked Men look upon themselves as reproach'd and affronted by Exemplary Goodness ? and how juftly, therefore, they are represented in the Book of Wisdom, as speaking this Language - The Righteous (say they) is not for our Turn, he is clean contrary to our Doings; he was made to reprove our Thoughts, He is grievous unto us even to behold; for his Life is not like other Mens, his Ways are of another Fashion-Therefore let us lie in wait for the Righteous, &c. *. For my part, can no way account for his Doubts, in so plain a Cafe, but 12.14. upon this Foot that be foresaw, the Persecution of Vir. tue, as Virtue, must necessarily infer a Future Reward.
But foould Virtue be persecuted, yet still be denies that the Hopes of a distant Recompence would afford it any immediate Relief : for these are his Words That the best of Men are fometimes in this Scatethe most Miserable, as far as the Evils of this World can make them fo, may possibly betrue; but it is equally true, whether you suppose a Future State, or suppose
* L .póis not *, that is (for I can make no other Sense of bir
Words] the Vertuous Persons, so persecuted, are equally miserable under both Suppositions ; their Hopes of Future Happiness being no manner of allay to their Present Miseries. And how can the Belief of a Future State be more effe&tually supplanted than by such an Opinion? Can one think him in Earnest when he Says, that He is sure, the Certainty of a Future State stands in need of no such Supports, as
mine ? for even without them, Philosophers asserted 31,
it - and so may Christians * - He takes away the strongest Inducement which the best Philosopher's had (or indeed which mere Reason could have) to believe a Future State; and then leaves us to depend upon the bare Affertions of some other Philosophers (on their Aue tbority without Reasons for the truth of it. And is not this a very satisfactory and ample Equivalent? What should hinder us from exchanging the clearest Evidences of a Future State, for the Groundlefs Afsurances of these Philosophers of his acquaintance con
Other Pallages there are in the Letter, equally liable to Exception : but I delight not to dwell on these Blemishes,or to make the worst and most invidious Constru&tion of things.. My chief Business was to prove, that the Do&trine deliver'd in my Sermon was neither New, nor Unscriptural, nor in it self false and pernicious: and having, I bope, effe&tually made good what I undertook in these relpects, I shall not be solicitous to enquire into the peculiar Articles of this Writer's Creed, or even to dive into the secret Springs and Motives il at set him a Work.
He Solemnly disclaims any Uneasiness conceiv'd at the Character given of Mr. Benner, or any desire of
leffening mine*. If bis Professions be real, it will fuzzle *p. a. bim to give a good account, wby be took occafion from my Sermon to vent his Thoughts on this Argument. How come I to be singled out from that Crowd of Writers, who have all along maintain'd the Same Doctrine ? Wby muft be particularly represent Me, as putting Pleas into the Mouths of Licentious Persons t, for tl. p. Saying That, wbich bath been so often already said by 23. Men of Learning, and Judgment, and Virtue, with out incurring the Reproach either of their own times, or of those tbat
followed? But wbich is worst of all) wby are these Positions chargʻd upon Me, as their sole Auto thor and Inventer ; and the Reader led into a Belief that they were never before seriously maintain'd by any Person of Virtue and Understanding * ?
These are soch manifest Indieations of Insincerity 19. and Malice, as all his grave Pretences of Concern for the Cause of Virtue will not cover, or elude. ff, after all, be pleads Ignorance, for bis Excuse ; finee I bave shewn bim bis foul Mistakes and injurious Mifrepresentations, it will become bim publickly to own and retra&t them; and I now call upon bim, in my tørn, 80 do it. If he doth not, tbey will lie beavy upon him in anorber World, to whomsoever be may have recommended bimself in This, by the means of them,
After I bad finished this Preface, and a great part of * was printed, there came to my Hands an AsizeSermon, preach'd lately in the Cathedral at WincheAter, by Mr. Richard Weft, Prebendary of that Cbarch. He bath, I find, fept a little out of his way, so give his peremptory Opinion in the Points controverted between me and be Letter-Writer ; and witbal to
prove himself no competent
Judge of them. For, after affirming that the PRACTICE of Christi
an Virtues, though we set aside the Confideration of in future Reward, HAVE a fairer Title to present
Happiness, than their contrary Vices ’ (which w, better Divinity than Grammar) he proceeds to say,
Nor does it appear that the Pharisees themselves ever deny'd it, THO a Notion hath been invented
of late, that prefers Brutish Pleasures (for the more ' Brutish, it seems, the more preferable) to those of * Religion. "Serm. p. 7.8, It is a frewd remark, "which this Sagacious Writer here makes, that, though a Notion hath been invented of late, Yet it dotb not appear that the Pharisees of old bad the fame Notions ; He might with as great acuteness of Judgment bave obferru'd, that the Art of Printing doth not appear " to bave been known to the Ancients, tho’it bath been * invented since their times. But, to pass by this judicia ons Observation if Mr: Weft pleases to read over my Sermon, and this Preface, he will eafily fee, that be bath mistaken my Notion, of which he bere givềs a very injurions Aệcount, in every uriseemly Language ; to say 130 worse of it. He is still more mistaken in thinking That to be a late Invention of sine, which hath been afferred byi so many Pious and Eminent Pens of our Own, and other Communions ; to whose Sentiments a Man, thit professes to dedicate himself to the Study of Divinity, cught not to houve been altogether a Stranger.
And I am very ape to think also, that he hath, ing ibis Paragraph, mistaken the Pharisees for the Sadducees. The Sadducees, indeed, set aside the Con. Videration of a future Reward, and yet pretended to Support the Pra&tice of Virtue upon the foot of Present Happiness, as Epicurus likewise did, from whom
they , and Grounds of it, and with the Opinions of those who bave gone before him in the Argument. I hope, ibis was not one of the Corre& Pallages, which Mr. Jervoise, and the other Gentlemens had in their View, when they desir'd him to print his most excellent Sermon.
they are sometimes callid Epicureans," in the Jewish Writings. Neither Epicurus, nor Zadock declar'd openly for Vice and Timorality, though. they denied a Future State ; but: beld Happiness to be: tainable in this Life by our own Conduct and Virtuês. But it no ways appears that the Pharisees bad.'any : fucb Notions, or Disputes as these stirring amongst them, or any Occasion to deliver their Opinion about the Title, which the Practice of Virtue hath to present Happiness, setting aside the Consideration of a future Reward: And why, therefore, their Authority fhould be vouch'd to this purpose, I do by no means compreer, bend,
Mucb less can I imagine, why... JEWISH Sect (whether of Pharifees, or Sadducees] should be represented, as delivering their Judgment about the Con= Seguence of practicing CHRISTIAN Virtues ; a Point, in which they bad as little reafox to concern themselves, as Mr. West bath to interpole in this Dif pute, unless be were better acquainted with the true. State
Of which I am tempted to Say somewhat more, but shall forbear ; baving, I bope, sufficiently prevented whatever this Gentleman baib said, or can say, against any part of my Dottrine. And some Attacks are for barmless, that nothing but a Defence can make them Confideras
What gave rise to this Civil Digression of Mr. W. and a whole Shrine be offer'd bis Incense, is toe plain to