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No. 185. and Malice in his Heart, which has been in some Tuesday, measure quelled and subdued by Religion but if it October 2, finds any Pretence of breaking out, which does 1711
not seem to him inconsistent with the Duties of a Christian, it throws off all Restraint, and rages in its full Fury, Zeal is therefore a great Ease to a malicious Man, by making him believe he does God Service, whilst he is gratifying the bent of a perverse revengeful Temper. For this reason we find that most of the Massacres and Devastations which have been in the World, have taken their Rise from a furious pretended Zeal.
I love to see a Man zealous in a good Matter, and especially when his Zeal shews it self for advancing Morality, and promoting the Happiness of Mankind. But when I find the Instruments he works with are Racks and Gibbets, Gallies and Dungeons ;_when he Imprisons Men's Persons, Confiscates their Estates, Ruins their Families, and Burns the Body to save the Soul, I cannot stick to pronounce of such a one, that (whatever he may think of his Faith and Religion) his Faith is vain, and his Religion unprofitable.
After having treated of these false Zealots in Religion, I cannot forbear mentioning, a monstrous Species of Men, who one would not think had any Existence in Nature, were they not to be met with in ordinary Conversation, I mean the Zealots in Atheism One would fancy that these Men, tho' they fall short, in every other respect, of those who make a Profession of Religion, would at least out-shine them in this Particular, and be exempt from that single Fault which seems to grow out of the Imprudent Fervours of Religion; but so it is, that Infidelity is propagated with as much Fierceness and Contention, Wrath and Indignation, as if the Safety of Mankind depended upon it There is something so ridiculous and perverse in this kind of Zealots, that one does not know how to set them out in their proper Colours. They are a sort of Gamesters who are eternally upon the Fret
, though they play for nothing. They are perpetually teizing their "Friends to come over to them, though at the
o same time they allow that neither of them shall get No. 185.
any thing by the Bargain In short, the Zeal of Tuesday, * spreading Atheism is, if possible, more absurd than October 2,
1711 Atheism it self.
Since I have mentioned this unaccountable Zeal which appears in Atheists and Infidels, I must further & observe that they are likewise in a most particular c manner possessed with the Spirit of Bigottry. They Es are wedded to Opinions full of Contradiction and Im
possibility, and at the same time look upon the smallest Difficulty in an Article of Faith as a sufficient Reason for rejecting it. Notions that fall in with the common Reasons of Mankind, that are conformable to the Sense of all Ages, and all Nations, not to mention their tendency for promoting the happiness of Societies, or
of particular Persons, are exploded as Errors and Pre* judices and Schemes erected in their stead that are altogether Monstrous and Irrational, and require the I most extravagant Credulity to embrace them I would
fain ask one of these bigotted Infidels, supposing all the + great Points of Atheism, as the casual or eternal For
mation of the World, the Materiality of a thinking - Substance, the Mortality of the Soul, the fortuitous : Organization of the Body, the Motions and Gravitation
of Matter, with the like Particulars, were laid together and formed in a kind of Creed, according to the
Opinions of the most celebrated Atheists, I say, sup, ¿ posing such a Creed as this were formed and im s posed upon any one People in the World, whether it
would not require an infinitely greater measure of Faith than any Sett of Articles which they so violently oppose. Let me therefore advise this Generation of Wranglers, for their own and for the Publick good, to act at least so consistently with themselves, as not to burn with Zeal for Irreligion and with Bigottry for Nonsense.
No. 186. No. 186.
Wednesday, October 3. day, October 3,
Coelum ipsum petimus stultitia-Hor. 1711.
TPON my Return to my Lodgings last Night, I
man, whom I have given some Account of in my former Papers.
He tells me in it that he was par ticularly pleased with the latter Part of my Yesterday's Speculation, and at the same Time enclosed the fol lowing Essay, which he desires me to publish as the Sequel of that Discourse. It consists partly of uncommon Reflections, and partly of such as have been already used, but now set in a stronger Light
'A Believer may be excused by the most hardened Atheist for endeavouring to make him a Convert, be cause he does it with an Eye to both their Interests. The Atheist is inexcusable who tries to gain over a Believer, because he does not propose the doing himself or Believer any Good by such a Conversion
The Prospect of a future State is the secret Comfort and Refreshment of my Soul; it is that which makes Nature look gay about me, it doubles all my Pleasures, and supports me under all my Afflictions. 'I can look at Disappointments and Misfortunes, Pain and Sickness, Death it self, and, what is worse than Death, the Loss of those who are dearest to me, with Indifference, so long as I keep in view the Pleasures of Eternity, and the State of Being in which there will be no Fears nor Apprehensions, Pains nor Sorrows, Sickness nor Separation. Why will any Man be so impertinently officious, as to tell me all this is only Fancy and Delusion? Is there any Merit in being the Messenger of ill News ? If it is a Dream let me enjoy it, since it makes me both the happier and better Man
I must confess I do not know how to trust a Man who believes neither Heaven nor Hell, or in other Words, a future State of Rewards and Punishments. Not only natural Self-love, but Reason directs us, to promote our own Interest above all things. It can never
be for the Interest of a Believer to do me a Mischief, ber No. 186. cause he is sure upon the Ballance of Accompts, to find Wedneshimself a Loser by it on the contrary, if he considers day.
October 3. his own Welfare in his Behaviour towards me, it will 1711 lead him to do me all the Good he can, and at the same Time restrain him from doing me an Injury, An Unbeliever does not act like a reasonable Creature, if he favours me contrary to his present Interest, or does not distress me when it turns to his present Advantage. Honour and Good nature may indeed tie up his Hands; but as these would be very much strengthened by Reason and Principle, so without them they are only Instincts, or wavering unsettled Notions which rest on no Foundation,
Infidelity has been attacked with so good Success of late Years, that it is driven out of all its Outworks. The Atheist has not found his Post tenable, and is therefore retired into Deism, and a Disbelief of revealed Religion only. But the Truth of it is, the greatest Number of this Sett of Men, are those who for want of a virtuous Education, or examining the Grounds of Religion, know so very little of the Matter in ques tion that their Infidelity is but another Term for their Ignorance.
As Folly and Inconsiderateness are the Foundations of Infidelity, the great Pillars and Supports of it are either a Vanity of appearing wiser than the rest of Mankind, or an Ostentation of Courage in despising the Terrors of another World, which have so great an Influence on what they call weaker Minds; or an Aversion to a Belief that must cut them off from many of those Pleasures they propose to themselves, and fill them with Remorse for many of those they have already tasted.
The great received Articles of the Christian Religion, have been so clearly proved from the Authority of that Divine Revelation in which they are delivered, that it is impossible for those who have Ears to hear and Eyes to see, not to be convinced of them. But were it possible for any thing in the Christian Faith to be erroneous, I can find no ill Consequences in adhering to it. The great Points of the Incarnation and Sufferings
No. 186. of our Saviour, produce naturally such Habits of Virtue
possible for us to be mistaken in them, the Infidel himself 171.
must at least allow that no other System of Religion could so effectually contribute to the heightening of Morality. They give us great Ideas of the Dignity of humane Nature, and of the Love which the supreme Being bears to his Creatures, and consequently engage us in the highest Acts of Duty towards our Creator, our Neighbour, and our selves. How many noble Argu ments has Saint Paul raised from the chief Articles of our Religion, for the advancing of Morality in its three great Branches? To give a single Example in each Kind: What can be a stronger Motive to a firm Trust and Reliance on the Mercies of our Maker, than the giving us his Son to suffer for us? What can make us love and esteem even the most inconsiderable of Mankind, more than the Thought that Christ died for him? Or what dispose us to set a stricter Guard upon the Purity of our own Hearts, than our being Members of Christ, and a part of the Society of which that immaculate Person is the Head? But these are only a Specimen of those admirable Enforcements of Morality which the Apostle has drawn from the History of our blessed Saviour.
If our Modern Infidels considered these Matters with that Candour and Seriousness which they deserve, we should not see them act with such Spirit of Bitterness, Arrogance, and Malice; They would not be raising such insignificant Cavils, Doubts, and Scruples, as may be started against every thing that is not capable of mathematical Demonstration, in order to unsettle the Minds of the Ignorant, disturb the publick Peace, subvert Morality, and throw all things into Confusion and Disorder. If none of these Reflections can have any Influence on them, there is one that perhaps may because it is adapted to their Vanity, by which they seem to be guided much more than their Reason. 'I would therefore have them consider that the wisest and best of Men in all Ages of the World, have been those who lived up to the Religion of their country, when they saw nothing in it opposite to Morality, and