« AnteriorContinuar »
of life vanishes into ether, and is will grow less tame and familiar, no more, when once the laws of the more we think of them : the vital union are broken. Death since no reason shews what an itself is nothing, and after death unexperienced death is, or what is nothing ; take courage, man : the change consequent upon it; either die like yourself, master of how can we judge of things we your own fate and happiness, so do not know? Reason on such long as it is to be kept; or else things as long as you please, and recover, and live worthy the char you will be at last as far from the acter of a person, who knows how truth as wien you began. Your either to live or die. So wish- argument is extremely weak aes," &c.
bout a pre-existent and a future This letter was but fuel to the state : I retain no impression of tormenting flame, before in the past happiness or misery, therebreast of the sick gentleman ; fore there is none to come ; how, who immediately dictated the that is a consequence, I do not following answer :
Next you would have me believe, upon your bare word, that
death is nothing, and after death “ Being not able to use my is nothing: pray, how do you own, I have borrowed another know, having not yet tried ? hand, to answer yours. You say There are a great many that say well, it is a more grateful office the contrary. I have only conto endeavour to remove the dis- cerned myself with the rationaliorders of the mind than of the ty of your letter, that you may body. What you urge of the believe I am not distracted ; common lot of mankind, as death which I would desire you to beand sickness, I could wish were lieve, that what I am going to say my case ; but my affliction is, may not have less weight with that despair and hell are the com- you. It is true, and whether you mon lot of Atheists. Now your believe it or not, you will find it argument cannot reach my case, so at last ; if I could force you anless you first prove that Atheo to believe it I would : all I can ism is as inevitable as death and do is, to deal with you as a reasickness, and that therefore the sonable creature, by opening my effects of it are to be borne pa- breast to you, and then leaving tiently, unless a man will combat you at your liberty to act as you gecessity, and fight against the please. While we are in health laws of fate. I have formerly and business, we may act contraused this way of arguing myself, ry to our intentions, and plead but wonder now how I could er for the thing we believe not; but er think it conclusive. You say, when we coine to die, the vizard that if we examine death and its is taken off, and the man appears supposed consequences by our as he is. This is my condition, reason, those formi lab!c mon- and therefore I can have no mosters grow tame and familiar: tive to impose upon my friends. if, by our reason, you mean ei- Religion is no impostor, heaven ther that peculiar to Atheists, or and hell are real, and the immorthe common reason of human tality of the soul as certain as the Dature, I am sure these monsters existence of the body : for a time
we have officiously deluded and bearance of my inveterate impiecheated ourselves out of religion ties and profaneness. Let me and happiness ; and God, who entreat you to leave off your sins; will not always be despised by his who knows but God may yet recreatures, has chosen me as an ceive you? I speak not this out example to you all, and a warn- of any love to virtue, or hatred of ing to the lazy and indifferent vice (for I am hardened and imChristian. But who, alas ! can penitently reprobate); but, like write his own tragedy without Dives, I am unwilling my brethtears, or copy out the seal of his ren should come into this place own damnation without horror ! of torment. Make what use of That there is a God, I know, be. this you please ; only remember, cause I continually feel the ef- that if it does not reclaim it will fects of his wrath : that there is enhance your guilt, possibly to be a hell, I am equally certain, overtaken in this world, as I am having received an earnest of my by the just judgment of God ; if inheritance there already in my not, be sure you will be met with breast : that there is a natural hereafter, which is all, from, &c." conscience, I now feel with hor As soon as the letter was read mr and amazement, being con and sent, the night being far tinually upbraided by it with my worn, we all took our leave of impieties, and with all my sins him, wishing him good rest, aid brought to my remembrance. a happier condition the next day, Why God has marked me out To which he replied, Gentlefor an example of his vengeance, men, I thank you, but my haprather than you or any other of piness is at an end ; and as for our acquaintance, I presume, is, my rest to night, thus I spend because I have been more reli- the little remainder of my misergiously educated, and have done able moments. All the ease I greater despite to the Spirit of expect will be wishing for the Grace. What egregious folly is day, as in the day time I wish for it for dust and ashes to contend the night, and in a fearful expecwith its Creator, to question his tation of my dissolution, and the justice, his power, yea, his very account I must make upon it. being ; when at the same time, But, Gentlemen, good night to without this God, every such you ; and remember me, to conwretch would immediately fall firm you in the religion I have into nothing, being without him disowned, that you may stand not able to exist one moment? more cautiously by my folly, and What vile ingratitude is it scur -secure the happiness I have forrilously to reflect on his religion, feited.” who died to reconcile such re The next day came several of flecters to himself? Do not mis- his friends out of the country. take yourself ; it is not a light Having had an account of his cir. matter to contend with the God cumstances, one of them told him of nature, to abuse religion, and that he and several more of his deny its Author, and (what is relations came to town, and were worst of all) to apostatize from it, sorry to find him in so weak a as I have done. God has met condition as he appeared to be in; with me for it, after a long for- for now he was nothing but skin
and bone, the agonies he lay un- this course under many convicder doing the work of the quick- tions, till my iniquity was ripe est consumption.
for vengeance, and the just judgHe answered, “ I am obliged ments of God overtook me, when in common civility to thank you my security was the greatest, and all : but who are my relations ? the checks of my conscience Our Saviour said, such as did the were the least. Since I have dewill of his heavenly Father were nied that salvation which cometh his relations. I may properly by Jesus Christ, there is no other say, that none but the Atheists, Mediator or Intercessor for sinthe reprobate, and such as do the ners ; if there be, which is he work of the devil, are my rela• that can redeem my soul from tions. This little tie of flesh and hell, or give a ransom for my blood will dissolve in a moment, life? No, no ; “if we sin wil. but the relation I have with the fully after we have received the damned is permanent. The knowledge of the truth, there resame lot, the same place of tor- mains no more 'sacrifice for sin, ment, the same exercise of blas- but a fearful looking for of judge phemy, and the same eternity of ment and fiery indignation to horror, will be the common lot consume the adversary.” “There of us all ; so the similitude of remains no more sacrifice for torments, place, and duration, sin," that is the wound that will join us in a very strict pierces my soul. CHRIST JESUS union.”
was the only expiatory sacrifice His friends, who only had God would accept ; I not acceptheard he was distracted, hearing ing, I would say, I despising this, him deliver himself in such there remains no other for me to terms were amazed, and began accept of, no other to make ato inquire of some of us, what tonement and satisfaction for me; made him talk at such a rate ? there is no other name given unHe, hearing them whispering to- der heaven but the name of Jegether, and imagining the cause, sus, whereby we may be saved, called them all to him, and said, and it is that JESUS whom I have
* You imagine me melancholy reproached, and ridiculed, and or distracted : I wish I were ei- abused in his members ; nay, to ther ; but it is part of my judg. whom I have induced others to ment that I am not. No; my do the same.
Methinks your apprehension of persons and breasts are all open to me, and, things is rather more quick and in the midst of your pity and vigorous, than it was when I was surprise, you would bid me hope in perfect health ; and it is my and believe, and supplicate the curse, because thereby I am more mercy I have abused, because Sensible of the condition I am JESUS CHRIST came to save sinfallen into. Would you be in- ners, and to bring to repentance. formed why I am become a skel- In that I know all your thoughts. eton in three or four days? See Alas, how fain would I hope and now then I have despised my Ma- believe! Can a man in torments ker, and denied my Redeemer ; not desire to be freed from them? I have joined myself to the Athe- No, assure yourselves I would ists and profane, and continued upon any terms ; but the wrath Vol. II. No.d.
of God obstructs the power of way, and lay in a swoon for a conhoping and believing, and though siderable time ; but, by the help I would, I can do neither. I of some spirits, we brought him know not what some divines to himself again. As soon as he mean, who say, He that desires had openect his eyes, he said, to repent, does it in some measure ; “ Oh, cruel, unkind friends, to I experience the contrary. A awaken me from a dream, in fruitless wish that comes not in- which I had a cessation from my to act, is no more than a convic- torments !” This he spoke with tion which shall lay such persons so lively a concern, that no one under great condemnation.: You could refrain froin tears. “You would have me supplicate that weep,” said he, “but your tears mercy I have abused. Alas, of come too late. Was I like athat I have no hiopes, but what de- nother person that goes out of pend upon abused mercy! But the world, it would be one of my why said I hopes ? I have no greatest troubles to see you hopes! My hopes are frustrated, weep, or at best it would add to my expectations are cut off'; and my pains ; for he must be unwhat remains behind ? Why am natural and senseless that would I bid to hope and believe ? Oh, not be troubled at the afflictions what mockery is this upon me! of others, especially his friends To find me in misery, and bid me and relations. But the case is be happy, without affording me otherwise with me. My cup is any power of being so! Indeed, full, and runs over already ; the should Jesus Christ say so to bitterness of my soul is as great me, it would be comfort ; but for asit possibly can be in this world ; you to say so; is the same thing my heart is full of horror and anas to bid a malefactor shake off guish ; no grief can add to mine, his chains, and assume his liber- being so great, that it is incapa. ty; or call up the dead to rise ble of receiving more. Perhaps
out of their graves, and challenge this may seem a paradox to you their estates and honours again. at first; but what think you of How idle is it to bid the fire not time, and eternity which comburn when fuel is administered, prehends and swallows up all and to command the seas to be time? Can any one add any smooth in the midst of a storm! thing to the wrath of God, which Such is my case ; and what are includes the fury of devils and the comforts of my friends ? But men ; this being derivative from, I am spent, I can complain no and independent of that? And
Would to God that the can any one add to my grief and cause of my complaining would torture, who am fallen into the cease! The cause of my com- hands of the living God? No, plaining ! this renews my grief, no; reserve your tears for your and summons up the little sins, and cast them not away upstrength I have left to complain on one who is neither the better again, like an expiring blaze, be- nor the worse for them." You fore it is extinguished. It is just may easily imagine what impresso with me : but whither am I sions this would make upon the
spirits of his friends. However, As he said this, he fainted a- in the midst of their grief and
amazement, they had the pru- greatest torment, my punishdence to think of the reputation ment here, is for an example to of their family, and to provide for others. Oh, that there was no as much secresy as was possible. God, or that this God could
They therefore conveyed him cease to be, for I am sure he by night to new lodgings. But will have no mercy upon me!" he was grown so weak that he “ Alas,” said I, “ there is no fainted away several times in contending with our Creator, the chair ; they got him into his and therefore avoid such words chamber, and to bed, as soon as as may provoke him more.”they could. After a little rest, " True," replied he, “there is be yet found strength to express no contending; I wish there bimself thus :
a possibility of getting * I am not concerned to know aboye God, that would be a heawhither you have brought me, ven to me.” I entreated him or your reasons for so doing not to give way to such blasphe, It had been something, if you mous thoughts, for- Here had changed my state with my he interrupted me.
« Read we lodgings : but my torments are not in the Revelations of them greater than before; for I see that blasphemed God, because of that dismal hour just at hand, their pains ? I am ope of their when I must bid yoų all fare: number. Oh, how do I envy wel."
the happiness of Cain and JuThe physicians were das ?"_" But,” replied I," you sent for again, but they still de are yet alive, and do not feel the clared they could do nothing for torments of those, that are in him; only they ordered him hell." some cordial julep, which, they He answered, “ This is either said, might strengthen nature to true or false ; if it be true, how hold out two or three days longer, heavy will those torments be, of
My business calling me away which I do not yet feel the ut: for a day or two, I came again on terinost? But I know it is false, Thursday morning pretty ear- and that I endure more than the ly; when I came in, I inquired spirits of the damned; for I of his friends, how he spent his have the very same torturę upon time. They told me he had , my spirits that they have, behad little company ; and his ex: side those I endure in my body. pressions were much shorter I believe at the day of judgment than before ; but what he did the torments of my mind and speak seemed to have more hor- body will both together be more tor and despair than before. I intense ; but as I now am, no went to his bed-side, and asked spirit in hell endures what I do. bim how he did.
How gladly would I change my He replied, “Damned and lost condition for hell! How earforever.” I told him the de- nestly would I entreat my angry crees of God were secret; per- Judge to send me thither, were haps he was punished in this I not afraid that out of vengeance life to fit him for a better. He he would deny me!" Here he answered, “ They are not secret closed his eyes a little, and beto me, but discovered ; and my gan to talk very wildly, every