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author, in the course of his conversation, having met some persons, who avowing the principles he opposes in ollowing tract, have been forward to assume the character ee-thinkers, might have thereby been determined to such e and direction of his work. And it is to be feared, the jer is too great of those who love a false liberty both in g and speaking, it is not to be wondered at, should they avour to justify themselves therein, by so specious a pre; as that of freedom. A privilege so undeniable to every
that, without it, none could possibly be praised or conned for any determination or action whatsoever ; but it t be imputed to that power alone, which imposes a necestowards either good or evil; so that in such case, all distion of virtue and vice must cease in our apprehensions of ality, and human society lie in the greatest and most deable confusion for want of it. Far be it therefore from judicious or honest person, to endeavour to exclude or juade any from a just freedom in speculation or practice. - let those who pretend to this, entirely satisfy themselves, t they have fully and sincerely made use of it, and that in ir inquiries they have faithfully collected, and impartially isidered, that evidence the nature of the subject might have uired, or has afforded them. Those who deny an eternal istence, Power, and Providence, who hath created and :served the world, seem neither to have observed nature, r consulted that reason, which yet some of them may much etend to follow. To such the following considerations are commended by the author; which deserve to be read with tention and seriousness, for the good will and sincere views .th which they seem to have been written.
TO THE READER.
The author having been much pressed in spirit to write the following considerations upon the present subject and occasion. begs they may be read with attention, and examined without prejudice. He hopes the learned and ingenuous reader will excuse any faults in style or method, having respect to the sincerity of intention, which he professes to have had in this undertaking; and humbly prays that a divine blessing may attend it, to the satisfaction and eternal advantage of all whom it may concern.
Having had some discourse with a young man af bright natural parts, concerning another world, and of leaping out of this into that in the dark, which must needs be very dangerous; and fearing that many take that great leap out of this world into the next in that manner, I have been induced to write these lines.
Upon which I cannot forbear immediately asking, what man in his senses will venture (naturally speaking) to leap in the dark, he knows not where ? or into a pit, he knows not the bottom of? To think of it is terrifying, and must needs shock any considerate free, thinker.
Now, though a man, having a bright genius, and a large share of natural parts, may acquire much literal and natural knowledge; yet, for want of a spiritual un- , derstanding, which is derived from the Divine Spirit, he may greatly err concerning true faith and religion, and have no apprehension of the eternal kingdom and judgement of God, or of another world; which it might be well for the ungodly were not, or were never to be at all : which, were it to be supposed, yet to live.virtuously (as the bishop of Sarum observed to that great libertine Lord Rochester) would be an advantage to men, even in this world.
But if there should be an eternal righteous kingdom, (of which we may internally and spiritually be sensible) and a state of life therein to come; then, Oh, then ! what will become of the wicked, and all who forget God! and what perturbation of soul must attend such, when, under the convictions thereof, they shall be ready
to launch into eternity. I beseech thee (Oh, soul!) seriously to consider, before it be too late.
The great Saviour of the world says, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke xvii. 21. That is, inwardly and spiritually, to be known and perceived. He also says, “ I am the light of the world.” John viii. 12. He, by this divine and supernatural light, lights us through this dark world to his spiritual and glorious kingdom, where he rules and reigns in transcendent majesty and brightness; of which his faithful subjects are in some measure sensible ; glory to the King of kings forever.
And that eminently wise apostle Paul says, “He was sent to turn men from darkness to light.” Darkness he calls the power of satan, and light the power of God. Now as a man walking in outward darkness is in continual danger of falling, not knowing whither he goeth ; so also a man living and walking in spiritual darkness (which is the power of satan, where the wonderful power and works of God cannot be seen nor understood) must needs be in the greatest danger of falling into the bottomless pit of perdition, where horrible darkness and unutterable misery prevails forever.
The many bitter cries, dreadful shrieks, and heavy groans, which my ears have heard from such dark souls, ready to depart the body, have been enough to convince me of the judgement of another world, though there had been no other demonstration of it to me. May our fine wits, and sprightly youths concerned, repent in time. Oh! my heart is pained for them; and my soul mourns in secret for many of my former and latter acquaintance, as I have also tender desires for the well-doing and wellbeing of mankind in general.
If any, by duly thinking of these things, should be awakened and convinced of their state, and their former lives and wicked practices; and have so much light as to see the danger of living without God in the world ; but be ready to conclude, that if there be indeed a righteous God, who will reward every man according to his works, there can then be no hope for them, such wretched sinners. 'Oh, souls ! (if this be the case of any) look
not at such thoughts, which (in the midst of your just apprehensions) satan, taking advantage, may thus suggest to you ; who having got you deep already in the mire of sin, would by such infusions plunge you deeper both into sin and despair.
Be it remembered that Christ died for sinners even the chief (as Paul says ) and he can make a chief saint of a chief sinner, as appears in the case of that apostle by his
own testimony. God hath and can do it, though it be È wonderful !
Wherefore abide not in darkness, but repent and turn to the light of life! strive and struggle for life, the life of . God in the soul of man ! turn ye to the divine light, turn
to God who is light, and in him is no darkness at all ! live and walk in the light of God, which is far above the light of human reason ; therein shall we have fellowship with the Father of lights, and his son Jesus Christ; whose religion is spiritual : “God is a spirit, and they that worship him (aright) must worship him in spirit and truth.”
God must be worshipped in thought, word and deed ; that is, in all things we onght to express an humble reverence and adoration to the Sovereign Being, frequently meditating on his great name; but all evil and sinful thinking we must refrain from with abhorrence, as dis. pleasing to him; and is of the devil, that wicked spirit; and which indeed is contrary to the nature and end of free-thinking ; which is a sincere exercise of the rational faculty, in order to distinguish between good and evil, truth and falsehood, that we may choose and acknowledge the one, and avoid and reject the other. And here it may not be unfit to recommend the care of all our thoughts, from whence proceed our words and actions, as naturally as good and evil fruit from the different seeds sown in the earth.
And as the truest and most sublime end of thinking, (which is the reasonable service of every intelligent being) is the contemplation, fear, and adoration of the Almighty Creator; so are we thereto greatly encouraged by that scripture of Malachi, which I am concerned