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ing in this Treatise, a Subje&t, which claims at-
My Lord, We are fall’n into an Age, wherein some few daring men ( indeed their number is inconfiderable, compared with the more fober part of Mankind) have presumed to mock at a punishment after Death, and term'd that a Bugbear, deriv’d from the Tales
of Priests, and the melancholy of contemplative men; which the wiser World heretofore was afraid to entertain, but with most serious reflections. When the ripest and most fubaét judgments for almost Six thousand years together, by the instinct of Nature, and Conscience, have believ’da 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, assume 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 Christia.. ans, but Jews, Mahometans, and Heathens, the subtilest and most knowing of them , have, ever since we have any Record or History of their actions, and Belief, profess’d, and eina: brad'd with all imaginable Reverence. ..And, Are not things come to a fine pass, My Lord, when Christianity, the clearen Revelation that was ever vouchlafed to mobit hath been receiv'd, confirm’d, and approv'den
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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 convincing 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 Barbarifm, and we had once more to do with Infidels, as if men had divested themselves of Hus manity, put on the nature of Beasts, and were
fent 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 fo remarkable an Emphasis upon's Wounds, and Blood; or
another World, that do fo often imprécate Dam' nation to themselves ; or the being of a Devil,
who do not seldom wish, he may confound them?! Would not any man conclude , That Persons who do so exclaim against every mistaken , and misplaced word, and are such perfeet Masters of Sence, and value themselves to 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 accoms plish'd Pretenders? But though we must not be so unmannerly, as to accuse these Wits of contradi&tions in their Discourses, yet any man that doth not love darkness better than light', may foon perceive how faulty. this way these Scepticks are, 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 seem’d to acknoidledge 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 fmcerely 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