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tie Experiences of vital Religion, 'which are necessary to constitute them Christians indeed.—This it aim'd at in the Publication of most of the following Letters.
The Danger we are in of prevailing Antinomiatiism, and the actual Prevalence that it has already obtained (especially under the Name ij/'Moravianism) in seme Parts of the Country, is a sufficient Justification of the Attempt 1 have made to set the Foundation-Error of the Antinomians in a true Light, and to difcover its dangerous Tendency.
If any are inclined to censure me for troubling the World with new Difcourses upon such Subjects as 1 had publicly treated on besore, particularly the Evidences 5/Xhristianity, the Sovereignty of divine Grace, Faith and Justification; they may consider^ that these are mof important Points, and deserve the most particular Illustration; that there is at this Time a special Call to remove the Objections against them out of the Way; and that this is now attempted in a different Manner from my former Discourses on these Subjects; and, I trust, with some additional Evidence to the Truth.
If any of my Readers are so curious as to enquire, to whom these Letters were directed, 'tis sufficient Answer, that they are now by the Press directed to them; and if they can improve them to their spiritual Advantage, it will answer the End of their
Publication. May the Blessing of GO D attend
them to this Purpose.
III. The Hi/lory ofour Saviour, collected from
O N A
Variety of Religious Subjects.
LETTER I. Wherein the Danger of Infidelity is briefly reprefented.
IHeartily rejoice to hear from yon, that you are at last come into a " Resolution, immediately "to enter upon a serious and impartial Exa"mination of the Christian Religion." What you observe is certainly true, "that this is an Afsair of "too great consequence to be carelefly neglected, to be decided at the Club, or to be rejected by ""Wholesale, with the too common Arguments of
"Mirth and Raillery, Sneer and Banter." 1
should therefore be inexcusable, mould I resuse a Compliance with your Request, to " maintain a "Correspondence with you by Letter; and assist "you, what I can, in your Enquiries into the "Truth of Christianity, the Nature of the Chri"stian Institution, and the Character and Qualisi"cations of thofe who are intitled to the Rewards "therein promised." But what can a Gentleman os your Capacities expect from me? And has npt this Cause been clearly and sully handled, especially ©f late, by a -Variety of Authors? Has it not triumphed over all Opposition? Have not its B poor poor deluded Oppofers been covered with Shame and Consusion, in all their seeble Attempts to subvert our Faith, and to destroy the blessed Hope of our future Happiness? And are not these Books in your Hands?—Read them, Sir, with that Attention which such an awsul and important Affair demands of you; and I think you can't sail of obtaining Conviction and Satissaction. . To your Inquiry, " How shall I sirst enter up
on a proper Disquisition of this Cause?" I answer, in a sew Words. Consider the Importance of it: Consider, I intreat you, that it is an eternal Concern. Were this duly consider'd, it would be impossible for you to content yourself in such a State, wherein there is so much as a Peradventure as to the dreadsul and astonishing Consequences of a Disappointment.
You may perhaps have hitherto concluded all revealed Religion to be but a mereCheat and Imposture. .—You may have borne your Part in the Conversation at Taverns or Coffee-houses, against Priestcrast, Cant, and Enthusiasm.—You may have ridiculed all Pretences to vital Piety; and exploded all the Gofpel Doctrines respecting suture Rewards and Punishments, as unreasonable, or unintelligible Dreams and Fictions—Well! supposing you were in the Right, What Happiness, what Comfort or Satissaction would your Insidelity afford you ?—What rational Man would envy you the Consolation of imagining yourself upon a Level 'with the Beasts, and of expecting that Death will terminate all your Hopes and Fears!—What Believer would part with the glorious Hope of eternal and inexpressible Happiness and Joy, for the gloomy Profpect of Annihilation!
It is certain, upon this Supposition, the Believer 1aui be in no Danger; he has nothing to lose, or
to to sear; but has every Way the Advantage of you. —He has the present Satissaction of being a Favourite of Heaven.—He has a continual Source of Support and Comfort, amidst the darkest Scenes of Providence, from the gracious Promises of the Gofpel. —He can overcome the Mileries of Lite, and the Terrors of Death, with the ravishing View of a blessed Immortality.—And it is certain, if mistaken, he will never lament his Disappointment, but sleep as quietly in a State of Non-existence as you can do.
But perhaps I have mistook your Sentiments. You may possibly have given into an Opinion of a suture Existence, though you have call'd the Truth of the Gofpel into Question. - Be it so. . Yet, upon this Supposition also, the Believer has vastly the Advantage of you. He has all the Happiness in this Lise which Christianity affords; and this you must be a Stranger to. He can live in Comfort, and die in Peace. — His Religion deprives him of nothing, which can any way contribute to his rational Happiness and Delight; but every Way tends to subserve and promote them. And certainly (even upon your own Principles) he may have as fair a Claim to .incerity, in his Endeavours to approve himself to the glorious Author of our Being, as you can have; and conlequently as good a Profpect of suture Blessedness. —So that, upon the whole, it is evident that he has nothing to sear from his Principles, whether they be true or false.—He has no Cause for tho,e stinging Reflections, What if I am mistaken! What if my Sentiments should prove salse, when it comes to the decisive Trial!
And now, let us turn the Tables; and consider the bitter Fruits ofyour satal Mistake, if Christianity should at last prove true.——You can't but acB 2 knowledge.