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those disorders and unevennesses in his life and conduct; those vicissitudes of good and bad humour, mirth and thoughtfulness; that perpetual pursuit of little, mean, insipid amusements; that restless desire of changing the scene, and the objects, of his pleasures? those sudden eruptions of passion and rage upon the least disappointments? Certainly, all is not right within, or else there would be a greater calm, and serenity without. · If his mind were not in an unnatural situation, and under contrary influences, it would not be thus tossed and disquieted. For what reason doth he contrive for himself such a chain and succession of entertainments, and take care to be delivered over from one folly, one diversion, to another, -without intermission? Why, but because he dreads to leave any void spaces of life unfilled, lest conscience should find work for his mind at those intervals? He hath no way to fence against guilty reflections, but by stopping up all the avenues at which they might enter. Hence his strong addiction to company; his aversion to darkness and solitude; which recollect the thoughts, and turn the mind inward upon itself, by shutting out external objects and impressions. It is not because the pleasures of society are always new and grateful to him, that he pursues them thus keenly; for they soon lose their relish, and grow flat and insipid by repetition. They are not his choice, but his refuge; for the truth is, he dares not long converse with himself, and with his own thoughts; and the worst company in the world is better to him than that of a reproving conscience.
A lively and late proof of this we had in a cer
tain writer, who set up for delivering men from those fantastic terrours; and was on that account, for a season, much read and applauded. But it is plain, that he could not work that effect in himself, which he pretended to work in others: for his books manifestly show, that his mind was over-run with gloomy and terrible ideas of dominion and power; and that he wrote in a perpetual fright against those very principles which he pretended to contradict and deride: and such as knew his conversation well have assured us, that nothing was so dreadful to him, as to be in the dark, and to give his natural fears an opportunity of recoiling upon him. That he was timorous to an excess is certain; he himself owns it, in the account which he wrote of himself, and which is in every one's hands: but he did not care to own the true reason of it, and therefore lays it upon a mighty fright, which seized his mother when the Spaniards attempted their famous invasion, in the year 1588, the year in which he was boru. The more probable account of it is, that it naturally sprung from his own conduct, and method of thinking. He had been endeavouring all his lifetime, to get rid of those religious principles, under which he was carefully educated by his father, a divine of the church of England, and to set up a new system and sect, which was to be built upon the ruins of all those truths, that were then, and had ever been, held sacred by the best and wisest of men. It was vanity pushed him on to this attempt; but he could not compass it. He was able, here and there, to delude a superficial thinker with his new terms and reasonings; but the hard
est task of all was thoroughly to deceive himself. His understanding could not be completely imposed upon, even by its own artifices; and his conscience, every now and then, got the better of him in the struggle; so he lived in a perpetual suspicion and dread of those truths, which he represented as figments; and, while he made sport of that kingdom of darkness, as he loved to call another world, trembled, in good earnest, at the thought of it.*. Atterbury.
ATHEISM is imprudent, because it is unsafe in the issue. The atheist contends against the religious man, that there is no God; but upon strange inequality and odds; for he ventures his eternal interest; whereas the religious man only ventures the loss of his lusts, (which it is much better for him to be without) or at the utmost of some temporal convenience; and all this while is inwardly more contented and happy, and usually more healthful, and perhaps meets with more respect and more faithful friends, and lives in a more secure and flourishing condition, and more free from the evils and punishments of this world, than the atheistical person does. However, it is not much that he ventures; and after this life, if there be no God, is as well as he; but if there be a God, is infinitely better, even as much as unspeakable and eternal happiness is better than extreme and endless misery. So that
The author alludes to the celebrated Hobbes.
if the arguments for and against a God were equal, and it were an even question, whether there were one or not; yet the hazard and danger is so infinitely unequal, that in point of prudence and interest, every man ought to incline to the affirmative, and, whatever doubts he might have about it, choose the safest side of the question, and make that the principle to live by; for he that acts wisely, and is thoroughly a prudent man, will be provided against all events, and will take care to secure the main chance, whatever happens. But the atheist, in case things should fall out contrary to his belief and expectation, hath made no provision for this case. If, contrary to his confidence, it should prove in the issue that there is a God, the man is lost and undone for ever. If the atheist, when he dies, should find that his soul remains after his body, and has only quitted its lodging, how will this man be amazed and blanked, when, contrary to his expectation, he shall find himself in a new and strange place, amidst a world of spirits, entered upon an everlasting and unchangeable state? How sadly will the man be disappointed, when he finds all things otherwise than he had stated and determined them in this world! When he comes to appear 'before that God whom he hath denied, and against whom he hath spoken as despiteful things as he could, who can imagine the pale and guilty looks of this man, and how he will shiver and tremble for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty? How will he be surprised with terrørs on every side, to find himself thus unexpectedly and irrecoverably plunged into a state of
ruin and desperation? And thus things may happen, for all this man's confidence: for our belief or disbelief of things does not alter the nature of the thing. We cannot fancy things into being, or make them vanish into nothing by the stubborn confidence of our imaginations: things are as sullen as we are, and will be what they are, whatever we think of them; and if there be a God, a man cannot by an obstinate disbelief of him make him cease to be, any more than a man can put out the sun by winking. Tillotson.
DEISM AND CHRISTIANITY COMPARED.
THERE is nothing in deism but what is Christianity, but there is much in Christianity which is not in deism. The Christian has no doubt concerning a future state; every deist is on this subject overwhelmed with doubts insuperable by human reason. The Christian has no misgivings as to the pardon of penitent sinners, through the intercession of a mediator; the deist is harassed with apprehension lest the moral justice of God should demand, with inexorable rigour, punishment for transgression. The Christian has no doubt concerning the lawfulness and efficacy of prayer; the deist is disturbed on this point by abstract considerations concerning the goodness of God, which wants not to be entreated; concerning his foresight, which has no need of our information; concerning his immutability, which cannot be changed through our supplication. The Christian admits the providence of God, and the