« PreviousContinue »
porting Gaiety upon their Spirits. It comforts them with the sweet Reflections upon their Innocence. It enkindles that Holy Fire, those ardent Affections, which continually breath after the Joys of another World.
2. The Suppositions is altogether groundless, For tho' Religious Men always live under the powerful Sense of Almighty God; though they are always apprehensive that there is an All-feeing Eye upon them; and conscious that a Judgment must pass upon them at the End of this Life ; and therefore they dare not allow themselves in any wanton, or unlawful Dalliances; yet their Religion does not enjoyn 0 them to be always poring upon these Things,
S or to be engaged upon the actual Preparation for them : Religion it felt has its lucid Intervals; its reasonable Intermissions, and its innocent Festivities. So gracious is our God, that he requires nothing of us which is inconsistent with the chearfulness of our Miods, the Health of our Bodies and the Interest of our Teinporal Affairs, provided we always keep a good Conscience, void of Offence towards God, and towards Men; and observe our constant Seasons of Devotion and Prayer : We may enjoyas much of this World as is needful; as much as a wife and virtuous Man would desire. True Piety is neither scrupulous, nor rigid; it is wise and consistent with it felf; it keeps a constant, an even Temper ; never exalted into the wild Freaks and Extravagancies of Vice, nor de
pressed into Melancholy and Dispair. And tho' it may happen sometimes, that a Man fincerely Religious, may fall below the Dignity of his Hopes and Professions ; be overwhelm'd in Doubts and Scruples; yet that is no Effect of his Religion, it is indeed his great Infelicity, or it may be his Error ; it may proceed from the natural Temper and Constitution of his Body, from the Darkness of his Imagination, or from the Misperswasion of his Mind; but this I constantly, and with some Assurance, affirm, That there is nothing in true Religion, which gives just Occasion of Scruple to a good Man, that the firm Belief, even of a Judgment to come, with all its Circumstances of Solemnity and Terror, is a Doctrine of Infinite and unspeakable Comfort. And this brings me to the ad Thing proposed, viz.
Secondly, The Insecurity, and Danger of denying, and the infinite Comfort of believing a Judgment to come. It is apparent, that the Atheistical, and Prophane Men of this Age, pride themselves in their Infidelity chiefly upon this Reason ; that thereby they can shake off the Restraints and Fetters of Religion ; and the flavish Fears, which the Dread of an After-Account raises in the Minds of those they call credulous and believing Men ; that they are secure in their Lusts and Pleasures, because they can laugh at, and droll down a Judgment to come : Take their Fill of Voluptuousness here, without being interrupted there
in, by the Mormo's, and frightful 'Bugbears of Religion. Well, but can they withal laugh down the Thoughts of Death? Can they say, they shall never die ? No; that's too plain, and certain to be denied. And what's become of them then ? Why, one of these Things must of Necessity follow that they must either for ever sleep, and rot in the Dust, or they must rise again to Judgment. Chuse which of the two you will, neither of them will afford any tolerable Comfort : If you chuse the First, is it any Comfort to think
he that when we are dead, we shall pass into a State of everlasting Slumber and Inactivity? Do not our Nature abhors an Annihilation? Do they not start back at the Thoughts of losing all the Faculties of Senfe and Reason; all the Pleasures of Understanding and Memory ; of Knowledge and Happiness Is it any Comfort to think that like Beasts, we must be buried in Silence be eaten up of Worms and Inse&s? Certain it is, that this is not only the most Abfurd, and Unphilosophical, but the most fottish, and debasing, and uncomfortable Opinion in the World." But what if the other Opinion prove true; (as most certainly it will) that after Death the Judgment ; that they must rise again, and give an Account to God, as for all their other Sins, so in particular for their Infidelity, in denying and disbelieving his Revelations: And what Comfort will this afford ? If it then appear that there was sufficient Reaa fon to believe the Gospel, they must then com
fess that they deserve to be damned for their Unbelief. If it then prove true, it will be too late to dispute with God, whether they had sufficient Evidence of it; it will be too late to make Excuses, when there are Thousands present, as Wise, and Cautious as themselves, who will witness against them, that there was sufficient Evidence for their Faith. This may be fufficient to convince us, that the Denial of a future Judgment is no such comfortable Doctrine. If there be no Judgment, everlasting Darkness and Oblivion must cover the Sons of Men ; and who can think of this without Horror ? If there be a Judgment, Atheists and Unbelievers are yet in a worse Condition: If there be a Heaven, they hall be excluded from it: If there be a Hell, they Thall fall into it. And would the Scoffers of our Days seriously consider this, they would not take so much Pains to make themselves Unbelievers, and then value themselves upon their Attainments. But to leave these Men to their Danger and Misery, let us consider a little the Security, and the infinite Comfort of believing a Judgment to come. Were it not true, yet it is an innocent Mistake : The Belief of it can do us no harm; it has no evil Consequences attending it; should we chance to have washed our Hands in vain ; should we not meet with our expected Reward, yet we are no worse for it; we shall be in as good, a Condition as Atheists and Unbelievers, we shall both pass into a State of Non-Existence,
and there's an End of all. But pardon me Heaven; why do I make such a Supposition? 'Tis a Reflection upon Religion, to allow so much in this Argument, as the possibility that there will not be a future Judgment ; or that God will ever deceive those that believe and trust in him : Religious Men may be assured, that there will be a Day of Account, and that their Redemption draweth nigh. And what a comfortable Thought, what a refreshing Consideration is that? To be able to look the King of Terrors in the Face; to see Light through the dark Vault of the Grave ; to be fecured against the Terrors of the Day of Judgment! What a strange Alteration will this make in a Man's Countenance, in his Spirit, in his Designs, and in the whole Management of himself! How little will he fear the Face of Man ; how unconcerned will he be at the Flouts and Insults of Atheists; how contented under all the Providences and Calamities of this World, who is under just and good Hopes of being acquitted and approved at the Judgment of God ? His Conscience is at rest; his Life is comfortable; his Death transporting! Oh! what a mighty Support is it, at the Approach of Death, to look forward to a bleffed Resurrection ! to reason our felves out of Fear and Diffidence to get above the Thought and the Terror of of our Diffolution; and to strengthen our selves in the. View of all that Glory which is to come! Happy Day! when we are brought