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ing in this Treatise, a Subject, which claims attention from all degrees of Men, and wherein the most puissant Prince is as much concern’d, as the meaneft Vassal. It is a future eftate, and what becomes of men, when their Bodies do drop from them, and what they must do to inherit that eternal Glory, which a merciful God hath been pleas’d to promise them, that I intend to speak to; and if there be such a thing, as a retribution after Death , and our Souls, when they leave their Earthly Tabernacles, must come to an after-reckoning, and appear before the dreadful Tribunal of a just, and infinite Majesty, certainly that Man is unjust to himself, and an Enemy to his own preservation, that dares negle&t his preparation for that great, and tremendous Audit, and prefers not meditation on that last account before all the sensual enjoyments of this world.
My Lord, We are falln into an Age, wherein some few daring men ( indeed their number is inconfiderable, compared with the more sober part of Mankind) have presumed to mock at a punishment after Death, and term’d that a Bugbear, deriv'd from the Tales
of of Priests, and the melancholy of contemplative men, which the wifer World heretofore was afraid to entertain , but with most serious reflections. When the ripest and most fuba&t judgments for almost Six thousand years together, by the instinct of Nature, and Conscience, have believ'd a future Retribution, it's pretty to see a few raw Youths, who have drown'd their Reafon in Sensuality, and scarcely ever perus’d any Books, but Romances, and the lafcivious Rhapsodies of Poets, afsume to themselves a power to controul the universal Jense, and consent of Mankind; think themselves wiser, than all the grave Sages, that have liv'd before them; and break fests in their Riots and Debaucheries, upon that , which not only Christians, but Jews, Mahometans, and Heathens, the fubtilest and most knowing of them , have, ever fince we have any Record or History of their Aétions, and Belief, profess’d, and eňbras'd with all imaginable Reverence.
And, Are not things come to a fire pass, My Lord, when Christianity, the cleared Revelation that was ever vouchsafed to it, hath been receiv'd, confirm’d, and approvdo
in the World above Sixteen hundred years, and the greatest Philosophers , in many of those Countries, where it hath taken Root, have not dared to doubt of the truth of it, the convin= cing power that came along with it, proclaiming its Divinity and Majesty; that these bold Attentates should now begin to arraign its Authority, and put us upon proving the first Principles of it, as if the World were return'd to its former Barbarism, and we had once more to do with Infidels
, as if men had divested themselves of Humanity, put on the nature of Beasts, and were sent into the World to understand no more, but the matter and motion of the Malmsbury Philosophy.
I confess I have sometimes blamed my self for accusing these Libertines of Atheism, when I have understood , what mortal Enemies they were to Lying, and Non-fence ; for how should not they believe a God, that cannot speak a fentence, but must swear by him ; or the Truth of the Christian Religion, that put so remarkable an Emphasis upon's Wounds, and Blood; or another World, that do so often imprécate Damnation to themselves ; or the being of a Devil,
who do not seldom wish, he may confound them!! Would not any man conclude , That Perfors who do so exclaim against every mistaken, and misplaced word, and are such perfet Masters of Sence, and value themselves so much
upon their Veracity, must needs believe the existence of those things, they make use of in their ingenious Oaths and Curses, the Pompous Ornaments 'which in tbis Licentious Age set off the Glory, Wit, aid Gallantry of such accomplish'd Pretenders? But though we must not be Jo unmannerly, as to accuse these Wits of contradictions in their Discourses, yet any man that doth not love darkness better than light , may foon perceive how faulty this way these Scepticks
there being nothing more common with them, than to smile at the Notion of that God, by whom they Swore but just before ; and to raille that day of Judgment, which they seemd to acknowledge in their absurd wishes and imprecations.
Some have I known, who, in a serious Fit; have been pleas’d to tell me, that if they could, be sure, there was another World, and a Retribution for Good and Evil, none should exceed
them in strictness of Conversation, and exact piety of Life; and I am so charitable to believe, that these speak the sense of most of the rest, and that the imaginary want of certainty in this dubious Point, diverts them from venturing on that imocence and purity, which was the glory of the Primitive Christians. But may
it not be requisite to enquire , whether these Doubters have ever taken the right way to be satisfied? If one, that had never heard of such a City as Exeter, should be told, that a Friend of his lately deceased there, had left him a Thousand Pounds; and he should reply, That if he were certain there were such a City, he would repair thither, and yet would not enquire of those that are able to inform him : might it not be presumed, that such an one had no mind to be satisfied? And I durst appeal to the Consciences of these men, that doubt of an after-retribution, whether they did ever sincerely and impartially de fire or endeavour to be satisfied about it? Did they ever do, what every rational man ought to do, that is willing to be ascertained of the truth of a common report? Did they ever put themselves to half that trouble, to be convinced