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first became laudable and heroic. These apostates from reason and good sense, can look at the glorious frame of nature, without paying any adoration to him that raised it; can consider the great revolutions in the universe, without lifting up their minds to that Superior Power which hath the direction of it; can presume to censure the Deity in his ways towards men; can level mankind with the beasts that perish ; can extinguish in their own minds all the pleasing hopes of a future state, and lull themselves into a stupid security against the terrors of it. If one were to take the word priestcraft out of the mouths of these shallow monsters, they would be immediately struck dumb. It is by the help of this single term that they endeaWour to disappoint the good works of the most learned and venerable order of men, and harden the hearts of the ignorant against the very light of nature, and the Common received notions of mankind. We ought not to treat such miscreants as these upon the foot of fair disputants, but to pour out contempt upon them, and | Speak of them with scorn and infamy, as the pests of Society, the revilers of human nature, and the blasphemers of a Being, whom a good man would rather die than hear dishonoured. Cicero, after having mentioned the great heroes of knowledge that recommended this divine doctrine of the immortality of the soul, calls those small pretenders to wisdom who declared against it, certain minute philosophers, using a diminutive even of the word little, to express the despicable opinion he had of them. The contempt he throws upon Wew in another passage is yet more remarkable ; where, to shew the mean thoughts he entertains of them, he declares he would rather be in the wrong with Plato, than in the right with such company.
here is indeed nothing in the world so ridiculous as We of these grave philosophical free-thinkers, that hath neither passions nor appetites to gratify, no heats of blood nor vigour of constitution that can turn his systems of infidelity to his advantage, or raise pleasures out of them which are inconsistent with the belief of an hereafter. One that has neither wit, gallantry, mirth, or youth, to indulge by these notions, but only a poor, joyless, uncomfortable vanity of distinguishing himself from the rest of mankind, is rather to be regarded as a mischievous lunatic, than a mistaken philosopher. A chaste infidel, a speculative libertine, is an animal that I should not believe to be in nature, did I not sometimes meet with this species of men, that plead for the indulgence of their passions in the midst of a severe studious life, and talk against the immortality of the soul over a dish of coffee. I would fain ask a minute philosopher, what good he proposes to mankind by the publishing of his doctrines : Will they make a man a better citizen, or father of a family, a more endearing husband, friend, or son 2 Will they enlarge his public or private virtues, or correct any of his frailties or vices : What is there either joyful or glorious in such opinions: Do they either refresh or enlarge our thoughts : Do they contribute to the happiness, or raise the dignity of human nature ? The only good that I have ever heard pretended to is, that they banish terrors, and set the mind at ease. But whose terrors do they banish : It is certain, if there were any strength in their arguments, they would give great disturbance to minds that are influenced by virtue, honour, and morality, and take from us the only comforts and supports of affliction, sickness, and old age. The minds therefore which they set at ease, are only those of impenitent criminals and malefactors, and which, to the good of ! mankind, should be in perpetual terror and alarm. I must confess, nothing is more usual than for a free thinker, in proportion as the insolence of scepticism is abated in him by years and knowledge, or humbled or beaten down by sorrow or sickness, to reconcile himself to the general conceptions of reason
able creatures; so that we frequently see the aposlates turning from their revolt toward the end of their lives, and employing the refuse of their parts in promoting those truths which they had before endea! Youred to invalidate. The history of a gentleman in France is very well known, who was so zealous a promoter of infidelity, that he had got together a select company of disciH. Ples, and travelled into all parts of the kingdom to make converts. In the midst of his fantastical suctess he fell sick, and was reclaimed to such a sense of his condition, that after he had passed some time in great agonies and horrors of mind, he begged those who had the care of burying him, to dress his body In the habit of a capuchin, that the devil might not fun away with it. And to do farther justice upon so himself, desired them to tie an halter about his neck, ...] § a mark of that ignominious punishment, which in ... his own thoughts he had so justly deserved. |) is I would not have persecution so far disgraced, as losso to wish these vermin might be animadverted on by jo any legal penalties; though I think it would be highly o easonable, that those few of them who die in the pro* kšions of their infidelity, should have such tokens of | samy fixed upon them, as might distinguish those or so bodies which are given up by the owners to oblivion "...] and putrefaction, from those which rest in hope, and shall rise in glory. But at the same time that I am against doing them the honour of the notice of our ... laws, which ought not to suppose there are such criminals in being, I have often wondered, how they can o be tolerated in any mixed conversations, while they § are venting these absurd opinions; and should think, o \otif on any such occasions, half a dozen of the most "... Tobust christians in the company would lead one of ol these gentlemen to a pump, or convey him into a & Yanket, they would do very good service both to
o church and state. I do not know how the law stands st
in this particular; but I hope, whatever knocks, bangs or thumps, might be given with such arr honest intern tion, would not be construed as a breach of the peace, I dare say, they would not be returned by the person who receives them; for whatever these fools may say in the vanity of their hearts, they are too wise to risk their lives upon the uncertainty of their opinions. When I was a young man about this town, I frequented the ordinary of the Black-Horse, in Holborn, where the person that usually presided at the table, was a rough old fashioned gentleman, who, according to the customs of those times, had been the major and preacher of a regiment. . It happened one day that a noisy young officer, bred in France, was venting some new-fangled notions, and speaking, in the gaiety of his humour, against the dispensations of Providence. The major at first only desired him to talk more respectfully of one for whom all the company had an honour; but finding him run on in his extravagance, began to reprimand him after a more serious manner. Young man, said he, do not abuse your benefactor whilst you are eating his bread. Consider whose air you breathe, whose presence you are in, and who it is that gave you the power of that very speech which you make use of to his dishonour. The young frolow, who thought to turn matters into a jest, asked him, if he was going to preach? but at the same time desired him to take care what he said when he spoke to a man of honour. A man of honour! says the major; thou art an infidel and a blasphemer, and I shall use thee as such. In short, the quarrel ran so f high, that the major was desired to walk out. Upon their coming into the garden, the old fellow advised his antagonist to consider the place into which one pass might drive him; but finding him grow upon him to a degree of scurrility, as believing the advice Proceeded from fear; sirrah, says he, if a thunderbolt does not strike thee dead before I come at thee, I
| shall not fail to chastise thee for thy profaneness to thy
Maker, and thy sauciness to his servant. Upon this he drew his sword, and cried out with a loud voice, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon;” which so terrified his antagonist, that he was immediately disarmed, and thrown upon his knees. In this posture he begged his life; but the major refused to grant it, before he had asked pardon for his offence in a short extemporary prayer, which the old gentleman dictated to him upon the spot, and which his proselyte repeated after him in the presence of the whole ordinary, that were now gathered about him in the garden.
No. CXXXVI. TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21.
* White's Chocolate-house, February 18.
BECAUSE I have a professed aversion to long beginnings of stories, I will go into this at once, by telling you, that there dwells near the Royal Exchange as happy a couple as ever entered into wedlock. These live in that mutual confidence of each other, which renders the satisfactions of marriage even greater than those of friendship, and makes wife and husband the dearest appellations of human life. Mr. Balance is a werchant of good consideration, and understands the World not from speculation, but practice. His wife is the daughter of an honest house, ever bred in a family way; and has, from a natural good understanding, and great innocence, a freedom which men of
WOL. III. K