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knowledge, that there have been great Numbers of Men of the best moral Qualisications, whofe intellectual Powers were no Ways inserior to theirs on ,the other Side of the Question, who have prosessed the Truth, and experienced the Power of that Religion, which you have despised.—How many most excellent Persons, of the greatest Integrity, Learning, and Sagacity, have at their Peril appeared to stand by this Cause; and have sacrisiced their £states, their Honours, and their Lives, to the despised and persecuted Doctrines of the Crofs !— It is certain, that you can't have a greater Assurance of being in the right, than these Men have had; and consequently there is at least a Probability on their Side, as much as on yours.—You yourself therefore, and all the unbelieving Gentlemen of your Acquaintance, who have any Degree of Modesty left, must necessarily own, that the Cause possibly may turn out against them.—And what if it Ihould! I am even asraid to represent the Consequences in a proper Light; it will possibly be esteemed Preachment or Cant; or be voted harsh, uncivil, or unmannerly Treatment. But, Sir, I would pray you to consider this Matter, without any Resentment of my rustic Method of Address. Consider it only as it is represented in the Scriptures; and in that View it will appear, that the dreadsul Consusion, the amazing Horror, and the eternal Misery, which will be the Consequence of your Insidelity, will be vastly beyond the utmost Stretch of your most exalted Apprehension or Imagination. As soon as your Soul is separated from your Body, it will become the immediate Object of the divine Wrath; and how lightly soever you may think of these Things at present, you will sind, that it is a fearful Thing to fall into the Hands of the living
Cod. When the great Judge of the World fhall
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descendfrom Heaven, to take V- ngear.ce on all thofe t uuho do not obey the Gofpel of Jefus Christ, where will our unbelieving Gentlemen appear? Won't their Mirth be quite spoiled, their sarcastic Flouts and Fleers be for ever over, when they must stand trembling at the left Hand of their Judge, having no possible Resuge to betake themselves to, no Plea to make for their Insidelity, no Place of Retreat in a dissolving World to hide their Heads !—What Comfort will it then afford them, to say, '* Alas!' '' how have we been deceived! We never thought "it would have come to this!" Now we have found to our Cost, that there is something more in the Doctrines of a sinal Retribution than Fable or Fiction, Priest-Crast or Fanaticism, however we have in the Gaiety of our Temper rejected and despised them.—Will they then be possessed of a sufficient Bravery and Presence of Mind, to outsace their glorious Judge, and to hear with Intrepidity the terrible Sentence, Depart, ye curfed, into everlasting Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels r1—Will they,with their usual frolic Humour, endure the Execution of this Sentence, and with Sport and Pastime welter in the eternal Flames of that Furnace of Fire, that is the destin'd Abode of every sinal Unbeliever?
Now, Sir, does it not insinitely concern you to confider the Case before you in this awful View, ta compare and make a pr per Estimate of the inconceivably different States of the Believer and the Insidel, both with respect to Time and Eternity ; and to enter upon the Disquisition you propofe, with a Mind duly impressed with the vast Importance of your coming to a sase Conclusion?
You tell me, that you " can't from the Nature "of Things see any Necessity of such a Way of ** Salvation, as the Gospel propofes. The Light *J of Nature teaches us, that God is mercisul ; and B 3 "con*' conreqaently that he will pardon Sinners, upon "their Repentance and Amendment of Lise." Let us then consider this Case impartially.
I think, there is no need of Arguments to convince you, that you are a Sinner. Do but consider the natural Tendency of your Afsections, Appetites and Passions, and review the past Conduct of your Lise, and a Demonstration of this sad Truth will unavoidably stare you in the Face.—Let any Man enter into himself, and seriously consider the natural Operations of his own Mind, and he must necessarily find, that, instead of a frequent and delightsui Contemplation of the Persections of the divine Nature, instead of a thanksul Acknowledgment of his Obligations to the divine Goodness and Benesicence, and instead of that sublime Pleasure and Satissaction that should flow from the Remembrance of his Cre* ator and Benesactor, his Afsections are naturally following mean, low and unreasonable, if not vile and wicked, Entertainments and Gratifications. He will find, that allCommunications with his glorious Creator are naturally painsul and uneafy to him, while every trisling Amusement, and the vilest sensual Object of his Thoughts, find a more eafy Entrance, and amore peaceable Rest in his Soul.---From hence it is most evident, that the Heart is revolted from God j and that we have substituted the Creature in his Stead, as the Object of our Pursuit and Delight.—And besides this; Who are there among the best of the Children of Men, whofe Consciences will not charge them with innumerable actual Trangressions of the Law of Nature ?---From this View of the Case, you must therefore certainly find yourself in a State of moral Pollution and Guilt.
And can you, in such a State as this, reflect upon a God of insinite Purity and Justice with Comfort iiad Courage i Won't Conscience fly in your Face, and upbraid you with your Guilt and Danger? Don't your Rea'bn tell you, that the great Creator and Governor of the World is too holy to approve, and too just to overlook. such a fixed Aversion to him; and such numerous Sins and Provocations against him, as you cannot but charge to your own Account?
But" God is mercisul." True, he is so, to all proper Objects of Mercy; and in a Way agreeable to the Laws of his immutable Justice and Holiness. But can you suppofe, that God will give up his Justice and Holiness, as a Sacrifice to his Mercy, out of Compassion to thofe, who deserve no Pity from him; to thofe who resuse the Offers of his Mercy in the Gofpel, because disagreeable to their sinful Desires and Imaginations?
But " Repentance will entitle the Sinner to Par"don, without any other Atonement."—Are you suTe of this i Certain it is, that Mankind have always, in all Ages, thought otherways. What else was the Meaning of thofe Sacrifices, that have every where obtained; and what the Meaning of thofe superstitious Austerities, and severe Penances, that have been fo commonly practiled in the Heathen World, if someAtonement, besides Repentance, was not thought necessary to pacify an offended Deity ?• —Consider, I intreat you, that as Sin is contrarv to the divine Nature, it must be the Object of God's Displeasure. . As it is contrary to the Rules of his governing the World, it m. st deserve Punishment.-.-If God be the Rector and Governor of the World, he must have some Laws to govern by. If he has Laws to govern by, they must have some Penalties to insorce them. If his Laws have Penalties annexed to them, these must be executed; or else they would be but Scare-Crows, Without. Truth or Justice.—A intreat you alfo to consider, how the Repentance of a guilty Criminal can answer the Demands of Justice.--What Satissaction will our Sorrow for Sin afford to the divine Being? How will it repair the Dishonour done to the Persections of his Nature? How will it rectify our depraved Appetites and Passions, and qualify us for the Enjoyment of his Favour? How will it vindicate his Holiness, and discover to the rational World his natural Aversion to Sin and Sinners? Or how will the Fear of God's Displeasure be a sufficient Restraint to Men's Lusts and vicious Appetites, if Sinners may suppofe, that when they have gratified their Lusts, and taken their Swing in Sin, they can repent when they please; and thereby have an eafy Access to the Favour of God? In a Word, What Evidence can you possibly pretend to from the Light of Nature, that Repentance only will satisfy the divine Justice, and reconcile you to God?
But aster all, were it even suppofed, that Repentance would necessarily give us a Claim to Mercy, without any other Satisfaction to God's Justice, it must then be another Sort of Repentance than you seem to suppofe. You must then allow, that this Repentance must be a thorough Change of Heart and Lise. For you can hardly suppofe, that we are qualified for God's Favour, while all the Powers of our Souls are in direct Opposition and Aversion to him. nd is this Repentance in our Power? Can we at Pleasure renew our own Souls, and give ourselves new Afsections, Dispositions, Desires and Delights? Can we change the Bent and Bias of our Inclinations to the Objects of Sense, and bring ourselves to love God above all Things, and to take our chief Delight and Complacency in him ?—This must be obtained, in order to enjoy the Favour of God. And yet it is manisestly out of our Reach. It must be the Effect of an' Almighty Power.