« PreviousContinue »
Divine Power. And it is well known that the late great Contemner of Religion among Us, as Absurd a Reasoner, and as Dogmatical an Allumer (for these two qualitys are feldom feparated) as Epicurus himself, was as fearful too, even of those things which he would have made the World believe were Bugbears only to frighten Children, and keep the Vulgar in Subjection. Thro Fear of Death he was all his long Life-time fubje& to Bondage; and after all his false Outward Confidence, was at laft forc'd to betray the Secret Misboding of His Soul, which he breath'd out with a Confeffion full of Horror, That He was going to take a great Leap into the Dark. So truly does the Character that the Wise Man gives the Old Egyptian Magicians, suit with both the Ancient and Modern Atheistical Philosophers, Wisdom 17. 8. Their Vaunting in Wisdom was reprou'd with Disgrace, For they that promis'd to drive away Terrors from a sick Soul, were fick themselves of Fear worthy to be laugh'd at. Worthy indeed to be laugh’d at for the Folly, but feriously to be pity'd for the Misery of it. For is not this a Kind of Hell already begun upon Earth, to live always wilhing that there is no God, nor shall be any Judgment, and yet in perpetual Doubt and horrible Dread, that the One surely is, and the Other as certainly must be ?
to a T
But Thirdly, The Folly and Unreasonableness of wilful Infidelity will more eminently and conspicuously shew itfelf, if we compare together the two different Choices that the honeft Believing Christian and the Wicked Infidel make. The One cheerfully and constantly trusts and depends upon God, for the Happiness both of this Life and that to come: And by this means makes the good things of this World, which he thankfully Possesses and innocently Uses, yield the more folid Comfort and Pleasure, and even the Evil things thereof, when they fall to his lot, he bears not only with Content and Submission, but with Satisfaction and Thankfulness too; having those Joys before him in which all his Sorrows shall End. This is a State that gives such inward Repose of Mind, such Peace of Heart, such Spiritual Confolation, as, if it were possible to be false, yet is more valuable and carrys more present folid Satisfaction with it, than all the deceitfull Pleasures of the most voluptuous Life. The Heathen Philosopher could
thus far ; The Belief of Immortality, if this be an Error, Libenter Erro, “I err "willingly and gladly. Who would part with so sweet a Delusion, were it nothing else? Who would not cherish such an Opinion, that brings so wonderful Consolation with it? But the chiefeft thing of all is, that if
this be an Error , yet there is no Danger in it. Unexpreflible Torment and Unsupportable Misery are not the dismal Consequences of it. If the Believer should happen to be deceiv'd, no real Harm, no Mifery ensues; he refts as securely in his Eternal Sleep as the moft Confident Denyer of Immortality, and feels neither Sense of his Lofs, nor Disappointment of his Hopes. But if the Infidel is Deceiv'd, and all the Judgements and Eternal Vengeance denounc'd against Impenitence and Unbelief prove true, as most assuredly they will, what Words can Express, what Thoughts Comprehend the Misery of his Condition? So that seeing the Case fo ftands, that even in this Life, all things consider'd, the Religious Man has the better of the Unbeliever, and that after this Life the Worst that can befall him, which is to be no more, is the Best that can happen to the Other; One would think it were not difficult to make the Choice which Side to be of, and that it is but reasonable to conclude, that He that with a good Heart Believeth unto Righteousnes is the only Wise Man; and that He is guilty of the Desperatest and most Destructive Folly, who out of an Evil Heart of Unbelief departeth from the Living God.
I shall make but an Inference or two as briefly as possible and conclude.
If then Wilfull Infidelity and Folly be linkt so close together, let us be no longer Fools but Wife; and what Wisdom is, Holy Job tells us, or rather God himself, for unto Man He says, the Fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom; and to depart from Evil, is Understanding. Since we may arrive to the worst and lalt Degree of Infidelity, as has been shewn, by going on in our Sins, and falling in love with our fleshly Lusts.; let it be our chiefeft Study, our first Business, to Subdue and Mortify them; let us Root out those Evil Inclinations that corrupt and darken our Minds. Let us have an especial Care of continuing in any One known and wilfull Sin, for whoever do's so, has made one Step towards his departing from the living God, do's at least say in his Heart, in his Wishes,
whether he is aware of it or no, There is none. To how great a degree of Atheism may a Man be therefore advance ing before he percieve it for the Heart, as the Prophet says, is deceitful above all things, boho can know it? Do's not this then deserve our strictest guard? is not Solomon's counfel highly necessary, My Son keep thy Heart with all diligence ? Ought we not to watch with the utmost Circumspection against this damning Sin of Infidelity, that lo fubtilly
and unobservedly creeps into Our Hearts ? Ought we not with Indignation to throw put those Traytors within us, Our wicked Affections, that open the door and let in the Enemy into Our Bosoms? Let us all then Conscientiously set about this work, let us banish all those Vices that betray us, those Lusts that blind us, those inordinate Desires that make us strive against the Truth of Religion. Let us cleanse our Consciences from dead Works, and then, and not till. then, we may hope to be fill'd with a Living Faith. And then let us add to our Faith Virtue, and fo proceed from Faith to Faith, from Faith Believing to Faith Obeying, from Faith Enlighten'd by Knowledge to Faith Working by Love. Being Actually exercis'd and dayly conversant in Religion will give us a surer and more satisfactory Notion and Feeling of it, than the most elaborate Writings of Divinity; will make us more intimately and entirely perceive it, than those that have Read or Writ much of it, or heard or made long Discourses about it. Let us pour out our earnest Prayers, that God would by his Grace take from our Affections the Natural Pravity and Malice, whereby we are made Enemys to Spiritual Notions; that we may receive the Truth, not only in the Light, but the Love of it. And then let us make the Experi-.