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Close-twisted with the fibres of the heart!
TO NIGHT SIXTH.
FEW ages have been deeper in dispute about Religion than this. The dispute about Religion, and the practice of it, seldom go together. The shorter, therefore, the dispute, the better. I think it may be reduced to this single question, Is man immortal, or Is he not? If he is not, all our disputes are mere amusements, or trials of skill. In this case, truth, reason, religion, which give our discourses such pomp and solemnity, are (as will be shewn) mere empty sounds, without any meaning in them. But, if man is immortal, will behove him to be very serious about eternal consequences: or, in other words, to be truly religious. And this great fundamental truth, unestablished, or unawakened in the minds of men, is, I conceive, the real source and support of all our infidelity; how remote soever the particular objections advanced may seem to be
Sensible appearances affect most men, much more than abstract reasonings; and we daily see bodies drop around us, but the soul is invisible. The pow er which inclination has over the judgment, is greater than can be well conceived by those that have not had, an experience of it; and of what numbers is i
the sad interest, that souls should not survive! The heathen world confessed, that they rather hoped, than firmly believed, immortality! and how many heathens have we still amongst us! The sacred page assures us, that life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel; But by how many is the gospel rejected, or overlooked! From these considerations,, and from my being, accidentally, privy to the sentiments of some particular persons, I have been long persuaded, that most, if not all, our Infidels (whatever name they take, and whatever scheme, for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in counte nance, they patronize) are supported in their deplorable error, by some doubt of their immortality, at the bottom. And I am satisfied, that men once thoroughly convinced of their immortality, are not far from being Christians. For it is hard to conceive, that a man fully conscious eternal pain or happiness will certainly be his lot, should not earnestly, and impartially, inquire after the surest means of escaping the one, and securing the other; and of such an earnest and impartial inquiry, I well know the con
Here, therefore, in proof of this most fundamental truth, some plain arguments are offered; arguments derived from principles which infidels admit in common with believers; arguments, which appear to me altogether irresistible; and such as, I am satisfied, will have great weight with all, who give themselves the small trouble of looking seriously into their own bosoms, and of observing, with any tolerable degree of attention, what daily passes round about them in the world. If some arguments shall,
here, occur, which others have declined, they are submitted, with all deference, to better judgments in this, of all points, the most important. For, as to the being of a God, that is no longer disputed; but it is undisputed for this reason only; viz. Because, where the least pretence to reason is admitted, it must for ever be indisputable. And, of consequence, no man can be betrayed into a dispute of that nature, by vanity, which has a principal share in animating our modern combatants against other articles of our belief,