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One of his old companions alogue, for which I must go and coming in, said, “How now, give an account. 0! apostate brother! why this? why this wretch, from what hopes art melancholy posture? what is the thou fallen ? ( that I had never matter?" He replied, " It is you known what religion was ; then and your companions, who have I had never denied my Saviour, instilled your principles into me, nor been so black an heir of perwhich now, when I have most dition !” need of them, leave me in con- I stood speechless some time fusion and despair. What ad- at the strange expressions ; but, vice or comfort have you now to as soon as I could recollect myfortify me with, against the fear- self, said, “Sir, I would have ful expectations of another life? you take care how you violate Are you sure that the soul is ma- the mercy of God, and think terial and mortal, and that it will so lightly of the sufferings of dissolve with the body ?” “So Christ, as if they were not sufficertain," replied the other, that cient for the redemption of the I venture my whole upon it.” greatest sinners. This may be
Here I interrupted them by a delusion of the devil : if you coming into the room ; and, ap- are convinced the soul is immorplying myself to the sick per- tal, I hope it is to a good end ; son, told him, I was a stranger if you had died ignorant of it, to him, but hearing he was ill, I you had been miserably undethought it my duty to offer him ceived in another world; now what service I was capable of. you have some time to prepare “I thank you," says he ; «I de for your welfare.” sire you to engage that gentle- To which he replied, “ As to man that sits there, and prove to the mercies of God in Christ, I him that the soul is not matter, once knew and tasted what they nor mortal.” This I endeavour- were ; which is now part of my ed to do by several arguments; curse, in that I am now sensible to which the sick gentleman an- of my loss : they are, I grant swered only with a sigh, whilst you, sufficient for those that his friend made haste out of the have any share in them; but room. I was surprised at such what is that to me, who have dean effect, and desired to know nied Christ? I have daily crucithe reason.“ Alas! Sir," said fied him afresh, and put him to he," you have undeceived me too an open shame. The devil has late; I was afraid of nothing so nothing to do with the torture I much as the immortality of the undergo ; it is no delusion of soul : now you have assured me his, but the just judgment of of that, you have ascertained me God; and it is also a part of my of a hell, and a portion among heavy judgment, that you have those, who have apostatized from given me a sensible horror of their religion. You have now my sin, by proving my soul is sealed my damnation, by giving immortal. Had I gone strait to me an earnest of it ; I mean an heil in my old opinion, I had en, awakened conscience, that brings dured but one hell, whereas I my sins into remembrance, by now feel two ; I mean not only reckoning up the numerous cat- an inexpressible torture, which I carry in my own breast, but an and God hath sworn by himself, expectation of I know not what As I live, saith the Lord, I would change. ( that I were in hell, not the death of a sinner ; but that I might feel the worst ! and rather that he turn from his yet I fear to die, because the wickedness, and live." worst will never have an end." He replied, with his usual earAll this he spoke with an air of nestness, “I will grant as much eagerness, and such horror as is difference between me and those scarce to be imagined.
in hell, as between a çonimon He was got to bed, refusing devil and a devil incarnate: if all sustenance, and had an ex. these are irrecoverably lost, ceeding sweating through the without opportunity of reprieve extremity of his torments. or hopes of pardon, and I am
Before I took my leave of yet alive, what then? what is him, I desired to pray by him; the consequence ? Not that the which with much reluctance he promises belong in common to consented to. In the midst of me with other sinners, nor to prayer, he groaned extremely, any sinners, but such as believe tossing himself as if he was in and repent. If Christ died for the agonies of death. When sinners, it was such as repent prayer was over, I asked him the and believe ; but though I would, reason of it.
I can do neither: I have out, He answered, “ As the damn stood my day of grace, am har. ed in hell, who lift up their eyes dened and reprobate. If God in torments, and behold afar off delight not in the death of sin. the saints in Abraham's bosom, ners, it is of such sinners as re, have thereby their torments pept and turn to him ; but his doubled, first, by reflecting on justice will vindicatę itself on the misery they are in ; and, such obstinate sinners as me, secondly, by observing the hap- who have denied his power and piness they have lost : so I, providence both in my words and . knowing myself to be hardened actions. Now he has met with and sealed to damnation, hearing me for it; and (! it is a fearthe prayers of the righteous, to ful thing 19 fall into ihe hands of which God's ears are ever open; the living God. If God was not this increases my torment, to against me, I should not care think how I am excluded from though all the power and malice such a privilege, and have no of men were joined against me; other portion left me than blas- though all the legions of hell pheming, weeping, wailing, and continued to torture me with the gnashing of teeth forever." most consuming pains : but
« Pray, Sir," said I, “ consider when an irreconcileable God there is a vast difference between looks down upon his creature in you and them in hell; they are wrath, and consigns him over lo lost irrecoverably for evermore, eternal vengeance, this is intolewithout any opportunity of a re, rable, inexpressible! ah, who prieve, or hope of pardon ; you can dwell with eternal burnare yet alive, and have the prom- ings? Oh, ye that have any hope, ises in common, with other sin- that have not yet passed the day pers: Christ died for sinners ; of grace, cry mightily to God . day and night : think no labour with oaths and curses, and was too much to secure you from the yet received again into his fa. wrath of God. 0! who can your. stand before him when he is an. He replied, “ It is true, Peter gry? What stubble can resist did deny his Master, as I have that consuming fire ?” This, done, but what then? His Mas. and more to the same purpose, ter prayed for him, that his faith he spoke with so deep a concern, should not fail ; accordingly he the tears all the while trickling looked him into repentance, and down his face, that no one in the assisted him by bis Spirit to room could forbear weeping perfect it. Now, if he would Which he perceiving, said, “ If assist me to repent, I should do ye weep at the image and bare $0 too ; but he has justly with. relation of the effects of God's drawn his intercession from me: wrath, what then do I suffer, I have grieved his Holy Spirit who actually lie under the very so often, that he has taken him weight of his fury? Refrain from me, and in the room thereyour tears, for it is in vain ; pity of has left me the spirit of is no debt to me ; nothing is so impenitence and reprobation ; proper for me as some curse to and given me a certain earnest complete my misery, and free of a fearful inheritance in anothme from the torment of expec- er life.” He spoke little more tation.” Here he paused a that day ; much company presswhile; then looking towards the ing towards night, orders were fire, he said, “Oh, that I was to given to prevent it : at six of lie and broil upon that fire a the clock, we all looked upon thousand years, to purchase the one another to know what course favour of God, and be reconciled to take, no text being offered in to him again ! But it is a fruit. his favour, but which he turned less wish ; millions of millions another way. of years will bring me no nearer While we were thus musing, the end of my torments than one he cried out with the utmost ve. poor bour. Oh, eternity, eter, hemence, “ How long, O Lord, pity; who can discover the shall thy wrath burn forever abyss of eternity? Who can against me? Shall thy eternal paraphrase upon these words, justice exact upon a poor despiforever and ever!” . . cable worm? What is my value
It began to grow late ; so I or worth, that thou shouldst pour took my leave of, him for that out full vials of wrath upon me? night, promising to come again Oh, that thou wouldst let go thy the next day ; when I found his hand forever, forget, and let me mind in the same condition still, fall into my first nothing! As but his body much weakened: my righteousness could have there were with him three or profited thee nothing, so my imfour divines, who had been at pieties can have done thee no prayer: which, they told me, hurt; therefore annihilate me, had the same uneasy effect upon and let me perish. Be not anhim as before.
gry that I thus expostulate with One of them reminded him thee ; it will be but a little while that Peter denied "his Master before thy wrath shall force the
dreadfullest blasphemies from now; I have no honour, no repme. Oh, that thou wouldest utation, and, what is yet worse, take away my being or misery: no heaven to lose by this or any neither can increase or diminish other act.” Upon this I broke thy happiness; and therefore it open. The letter received let them both cease, and let my was as follows: name be known no more. But if I must be, and be immortal, “ Dearest Sir, and thou wilt punish me because " Understanding you are I have despised thee : let a pri- dangerously ill, and that it has vation of thought suffice, and let had a melancholy effect upon me pass my eternity in a dream, you, I could not (considering without ever being awakened by our strict friendship) but endea, the pangs of torment, or by the vour to remove those evils your gnawing of the worm that never mind may be under ; which per, dies. But, oh, fruitless desires ! haps is an office no less grateful, I am expostulating with a God than making the body sound. that forever hath shut out my Sickness and death are the comprayers ; and only protracts my mon lot of mankind ; and to re, breath a little longer, to make pine and grieve at this lot, is to me an example to others. O! combat the laws of nature, ye rocks and mountains, that ye and fight against impossibilities. would cover and hide me from What wise man repines at the the wrath of an incensed God: heat in summer, or the cold in but I cannot flee from his pres. winter? A common evil ceases ence : what he hath begun he to be an evil. But perhaps your will finish. He will extend his melancholy suggests to you, that wrath against me forever and it is a dismal thing to launch in
to an unknown abyss. I answer : Here some one knocked at Sometimes I dream of dreadful the door, and it proved to be the things, but when I awake, all postman, with a letter for him : vanishes. Thus if we examine which being told him, “ How," death and its consequences by said he, “a letter for me! A lit- our reason, those formidable tle longer, and I expect anoth- monsters grow tame and familiar er sort of message : I am to us. I would demand of him, very shortly to give an account who asks me what estatę I shall of every secret action I have be in after death, what estate he done ; and I have a mind was in before life? Pain and to make an experiment to see pleasure will leave their impreshow I can bear it. Pray Sir," sions upon a human spirit. If I added he to me, “ do me the fa- was either happy or miserable bevour to read me this letter. The fore I was born, I must still retain contents I know not, but I sus- the impression : but I do not pect it comes from some of my now, therefore I shall not hereaf, old acquaintance.” I desired to er : I came out of nothing, and be excused, alleging there shall return into it. As the flame might be something in it im- of an extinguished candle disproper to be divulged. “Noth. solves and loses itself in the cir. ing," replied he, “can affect me cumambientair, even so the taper
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 when 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 :
see. Next you would have me
believe, upon your bare word, that « Sir,
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 rationali. orders 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 unless you first prove that Athe- 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 necessity, 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 ev. for the thing we believe not ; but er think it conclusive. You say, when we come 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 formidable 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 mature, I am sure these monsters existence of the body : for a time