« AnteriorContinuar »
Thirdly, To shew that those, who are very good indeed, and have a due thorough Sense of Religion, will have regard to this Practice, and, at least in some considerable Measure, exercise themselves in it. So making good the Character given of them by the Psalmist, The Mouth of the Righteous speaketh Wisdom, and his Tongue tal keth of Judgmert,
Part I. And First, for the Reasons of the Disuse
of Religion in Discourse. And here in the First place, I take it for granted, that I am not going to account for an Imaginary Defect, or Neg. lect in Idea cnly; but that the Cafe supposed is Real; that to talk of Religion is indeed very much disused and out of Fashion, and that among people of laudable Character, and otherwise good and vertuous. Not that the Articles, Points, Queitia, ons and Controversies of Religion are so pass’d over in silence; No, there was always Noise and Clamour enough about them, and never more than now; though there be but little Truth gain’d, and a great deal of Charity loft,in the Contention. . Buc 'tis nor the Notional, but the Practical part of Religion, whose disuse in Conversation I complain of. Men do indeed talk of Religion, but not of that which is Practical, nor in a Practical way; chat is, I mean after such a serious and devotional Manner, ás to put one another in remembrance of the great Concernments of a good Life,and of that two-fold Eternity which depends upon it; and to ftir one another up to the Works of Piery and Charity, and the Exercise of such Christian Graces as are necessary both to carry them to Heaven, and to qualify them for the Enjoyment of it, Do Men
Eren thoughough ab, their
talk thus of Religion ? No, Wicked Mén cannot; 9 and Good Men (unless they be very good indeed, whose Number, God knows, a few Figures will serve to cast up) for soine certain Reasons too of. ten decline it. So that between them both, what through the Indisposition of the One,and the Incapa, city of the Other, a Man may make Visit after Visit, go from House to House, out of one Company into another, for it may be a Twelvemonth together, and never hear one word of Religion pals; unless it be (as was hinted before) by way of Wrangle and Dispute; and that indeed, unless he top his Ears, he can hardly avoid; if he can then. But as for any serious and edifying Discourle about it, whither shall a Man go, unless it be to Church, to hear any such thing? All the Discourse of the World runs upon the things of the World, such as News, Trade, Businels, Learning; not to say any thing of lesser and meaner Subjects that imploy Gossiping and Cenforious Tongues.' And there things make the great Buz and Hum of the City. But as for Religion, there is in all this hurry fuch: an universal Hush and Silence about it, that were it not for our Books of Devotion and our Church- es, (thofe two Providential Monuments and Preservatives of declining Piety) a Stranger would hardly know, whether there were any Religion ! among us. Sure l'am, it would be a great while before he would find it by our Discourse; and were he to pick it out by that, for ought I know he might learn our Language much sogner. It looks, in my Mind, as if Religion had a kind of: Imbargo laid upon it, and Men were under a Proc hibition to talk of it, and to forfeit fome Penalty to the Governmens, if they did. Were this the
Cale, Cafe, I am Confident they could not be more Sie lent concerning it, than they are; and, considering the bent of our Inclination to what is forbid, ! question whether they would be so much!
And yet Men profess Religion all this while, ex. preis a decent regard towards it, and pretend to believe the weighty Doctrines of it, the Being of God, the Resurrection of the Body, the Immortality of the Soul, and the two great Eternities. And is it not strange then, that they should never talk of these things ? Should but any two of these Men Travel together upon the Road, especially if to a place of considerable Note, and which they were never at before, and where they were ever after to dwell; how often would they talk of it, before they got to it! Now is not this exactly our Care?' We are all Travellers, and our Life is but a Journey, and we are bound not for a little Town or City, but for another World, to which we are perfect Strangers at present, and in which we are to take up our happy or miserable abode for ever. And is it not then very strange, that Men should Travel on together, day after day for many Years following, upon a journey of such Consequence as thiş; and never entertain them. felves upon the Road with what all other Travellers do, discourse about their journeys End, and the right way that leads to it. That a thing that is so much every Body's Concern, thould be al
most no Body's Discourse.' Is not this a Wonder ? 9 yes iç is, the very greatest that I know of in the
World. But then this makes it the more neceffary, to cousider the Reasons of so strange à Conduct.
. And here I think in the First place,'tis very plain
and obvious why Wicked Men talk rio more of Religion; even becaufe they have none to talk of. The reason why there is so liccle of it in their Mouths, is because there is less of it in their Hearts. - When there are so many other Subjects that are more agreeable to their Tastes, they have no Heart to talk of a thing they have neither Notion nor Relifh of themselves, and which would bur lull their jolly Company asleep.' And truly’ris no great matter whether they do or no, fince they must needs do it with a very ill Grace, and to very little purpose. Religion has no advantage from the Commendations of those, whose Lives are a conitant Satyr upon it; and they do it dishonour enough by their bare Profession of it; and therefore need not add to that, the further diffrace of their Discourle. And unless they owe it a Spite, and have a mind either to Affront that or their Company, sure they will not. For.certainly the Religious Discourse of him cannoc be very decent to Men, whose Religion it felf, whose very, Prayer, is an Abomination to God; and if a Parable, as Solomon says, Prov. 26.7. be not comely in the Mouth of a Fool, inuch less is Religion in the Mouth of an ill Man. But I think we may excuse them here, it being a fault they are very rarely
guilty of; unless it be upon two particular Occasions, · when they are either Drunk or about to Dye; and
then indeed you shall have fome of them very Devoutly given, and much for talking of Religión; but at other times they studiously baulk and decline itas too fiat a Subject for their gay Spirits. . .
But 'eis not worth while to consider any longer, what there Men do, or upon what Grounds and
mich fone of the
Motives they act. It is of more Consequence.to inquire into the Grounds and Reasons of the great disuse of Religious Discourse among Good Men. And here, though I doubt nor,bur that this is in great Measure to be ascribed to want of Goodness too, as well as in the other fort; or, which is all one, to the imperfection of it; since, as will be made appear under the Third Part, those who have a due Sense of Religion, and a thorough Zeal for it, will
Thew it by their Discourse; yet because the Men I è am now speaking of, though not the very Best, are yet supposed to be Good, and so must have a true Love and value for Religion, and consequently must be supposed willing enough of themselves to talk of it, were there not some Discouragements from without that did hinder them from so doing; I think it more Material at present to consider what those unhappy Discouragements are. The most ordinary and most prevailing of which I take to be these Three. : : !.." 1. The Contempt that is generally caft upon Good
1. The Contempt that is generally cast upon Good Men. Not that I think an ill Män can possibly de. spise a good Man, in his Heart. No, he has a lecret Eiteem and Veneration for him there; and as he would willingly dye che Peath, fo he inwardly Honours the Life of the Righteous. But yet for all this, Wicked Men have still so much of their Father the Devil in them, that they are loath to be unhappy alone, and take a Solitary Journey to Helly