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together with that contempt of worldly things and vanities, that she hath shown in the whole conduct of her life. O allpowerful Being, the least motion of whose will can create or destroy a world ; pity us, the mournful friends of thy distressed servant, who sink under the weight of her present condition, and the fear of losing the most valuable of our friends: restore her to us, O Lord, if it be thy gracious will, or inspire us with constancy and resignation, to support ourselves under so heavy an affliction. Restore her, O Lord, for the sake of those poor, who by losing her will be desolate ; and those sick who will not only want her bounty, but her care and tending ; or else, in thy mercy, raise up some other in her place with equal disposition, and better abilities. Lessen, O Lord, we beseech thee, her bodily pains, or give her a double strength of mind to support them. And if thou wilt soon take her to thyself, turn our thoughts rather upon that felicity, which we hope she shall enjoy, than upon that unspeakable loss we shall endure. Let her memory be ever dear unto us; and the example of her many virtues, as far as human infirmity will admit, our constant imitation. Accept, O Lord, these prayers poured from the very bottom of our hearts, in thy mercy, and for the merits of our blessed Saviour. Amen.
O MERCIFUL Father, who never afflictest thy children, but for their own good, and with justice, over which thy mercy always prevaileth, either to turn them to repentance, or to punish them in the present life, in order to reward them in a better; take pity, we beseech thee, upon this thy poor afflicted servant, languishing so long and so grievously under the weight of thy hand. Give her strength, O Lord, to support her weakness; and patience to endure her pains, without repining at thy correction. Forgive every rash and inconsiderate expression, which her anguish may at any time force from her tongue, while her heart continueth in an entire submission to thy will. Suppress in her, O Lord, all eager desires of life, and lessen her fears of death, by inspiring into her an humble, yet assured hope of thy mercy. Give her a sincere repentance for all her transgressions and omissions, and a firm resolution to pass the remainder of her life in endeavouring to her utmost to observe all thy precepts. We beseech thee likewise to compose her thoughts; and preserve to her the use of her memory and reason, during the course of her sickness. Give her a true conception of the vanity, folly, and insignificancy of all human things; and strengthen her so as to beget in her a sincere love of thee in the midst of her sufferings.
Accept, Accept, and impute all her good deeds, and forgive her all those offences against thee, which she hath sincerely repented of, or through the failty of memory hath forgot. And now, O Lord, we turn to thee in behalf of ourselves, and the rest of her sorrowful friends. Let not our grief afflict her mind, and thereby have an ill effect on her present distemper. Forgive the sorrow and weakness of those among us, who sink under the grief and terrour of losing so dear and useful a friend. Accept and pardon our most earnest prayers and wishes for her longer continuance in this evil world, to do what thou art pleased to call thy service, and is only her bounden duty; that she may be still a comfort to us, and to all others, who will want the benefit of her conversation, her advice, her good offices, or her charity. And since thou hast promised, that, where two or three are gathered together in thy name, thou wilt be in the midst of them, to grant their request; O gracious Lord, grant to us who are here met in thy name, that those requests, which in the utmost sincerity and earnestness of our hearts we have now made in behalf of this thy distressed servant, and of ourselves, may effectually be answered; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I AM in all opinions to believe according to my own impartial reason; which I am bound to inform and improve, as far as my capacities and opportunities will permit.
It may be prudent in me to act sometimes by other men's reason ; but I can think only by my OWn.
If another man's reason fully convinces me, it becomes my own reason.
To say a man is bound to believe, is neither truth. In Or Sense, You may force men, by interest or punishment to say or swear they believe, and to act as if they believed; you can go no farther. Every man, as a member of the commonwealth, ought to be content with the possession of his own opinion in private, without perplexing his neighbour, or disturbing the publick. Violent zeal for truth, has a hundred to one odds, to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride. There is a degree of corruption, wherein some nations, as bad as the world is, will proceed to an amendment; till which time, particular men should be quiet.
* See remarks on this treatise, Gent. Mag, vol. xxxv, p. 372.
To remove opinions fundamental in religion, is impossible, and the attempt wicked, whether those opinions be true or false ; unless your avowed design be to abolish that religion altogether. So, for instance, in the famous doctrine of Christ's divinity, which has been universally received by all bodies of Christians, since the condemnation of Arianism under Constantine and his successors : wherefore the proceedings of the Socinians are both vain and unwarrantable; because they will be never able to advance their own opinion, or meet any other success than breeding doubts and disturbances in the world – Qui ratione sud disturbant mania mundi.
The want of belief is a defect that ought to be concealed, when it cannot be overcome.
The Christian religion, in the most early times, was proposed to the Jews and heathens without the article of Christ's divinity; which, I remember, Erasmus accounts for, by its being too strong a meat for babes. Perhaps, if it were now softened by the Chinese missionaries, the conversion of those infidels would be less difficult: and we find, by the Alcoran, it is the great stumbling block of the Mahometans. But, in a country already Christian, to bring so fundamental a point of faith into debate, can have no consequences that are not pernicious to morals and publick peace.
I have been often offended to find St. Paul’s allegories, and other figures of Grecian eloquence, converted by divines into articles of faith.
God's mercy is over all his works; but divines of
all sorts lessen that mercy too much. M 4. I look