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gion is a Cheats and that there is no such Thing as a future State; in Consequence of which Persuasion, they think it prudent to make the most of this World, to make their own present Interest and Happiness the sole Rule of their Conduct. They judge wrong in entertaining such a settled Opinion, where there can be no positive Proof; but they act right upon their Principles. The Second Sort are as much to blame, in running the Risque of losing eternal Happiness, and bringing eternal Destruction upon themselves, only because the Evidence for the Truth of those grand Points does not
for, in Matters of such infinite Moment, a less Degree, any Degree, of Evidence ought to govern their Conduct; but grant them their Premises and their Conclusion will be just. The Third Sort act as absurdly, but with some Difference. The next World is invisible and distant; the Things of this World are present and visible; from whence they conclude that k is not worth their while to trouble themselves about such Matters. They agree with the others in acting very madly, but they differ in this Circumstance, that, whereas the former act right upon wrong Principles, these act wrong in Consequence of just Premises. It is true, that this World is present and visible, but it does not follow from thence that invisible and distant Things cannot be worth the Consideration of a wife Man. But these last Sort of Fools and Madmenr are in every Respect
them sufficiently clear and strong, inconsistent and inexcusable, for, they act ili Desiance of their settled Principles; they believe Christianity, they publickly profess their Belief of it; and yet daily, hourly, and deliberately contradict their Faith in their Practice; Have the Patience to give Attention while I enlarge a little upon the monstrous Inconsistency of such Conduct. I have a Right to demand this of you, because you acknowledge that the Subject is of such vast Moment, that it deserves your most attentive Consideration.
The first great Truth and Foundation of all Religion is, the Belief of a Deity who made" you, and made you capable of knowing and contemplating and imitating his moral Perfections; you profess to believe that Reason and Revelation teach you that it is your Duty, and will be your Happiness, so to do; and yet, how many nominal Christians ever think seriously,' how many scarce ever think at all, about the: Nature and Attributes of this adorable Author of their Being, and Fountain of their Happiness; unless it be now and then, when they are put in Mind of him at Church, or in Conversation. You profess to believe that this Being, infinitely wife, just, good, and powerful, governs the World; and do Christians in general act agreeably to this Persuasion? Do they submit and resign themselves to his Dispensations? No, , if they did, whence so much fretting, so much murmuring, so much Distrust under ahyAffiic-* tions and Disappointments? Whence io many indirect Means to extricate ourselves, wJien we
believe and acknowledge that if we trust in him, and apply to him, every thing (hall work together for our Good; that he will either remove our Difficulties, or support us underthem, or reward us for bearing them patiently? You believe that it is your Duty privately and publickly to worship God, as frequently, as attentively, and as fervently as possibly you can; and yet how many of you never address yourselves to him in Prayer in private, or with your Family? How often do you neglect publick WorIhip upon such scandalously trifling Pretences, as wou'd not hinder you from going to make a common Visit, or taking your Pleasure? And when you are at your Devotions, with what Inattention, with what Coldness and Irreverence do you perform them? I do not mean only the poor and illiterate, but Persons of better Education and more Knowledge; not excepting some of the Great, and the Learned. And can such People sincerely believe that Religion is the one Thing needful? You must bear with my honest Freedom a little longer.
Christians believe'the Bible to be the Word of God; that it is an inestimable Treasure of the most excellent, the most useful, and entertaining Knowledge; that it contains every Thing that is necessary for us to believe and practise, in order to our eternal Happiness; that it is both in Respect to the Author, and Subject Matter of it, worthy of the most profound Reverence, and constant and most careful Perusal. And - - E do dp Christians in general, like holy Davids make it their constant Study and chief Delight? .No, they seldom look into it, as if it were the most dull and insipid, the most trifling and useless Book that ever was publish'd. Nay, (I hope jo. Se excus'd on Account of an honest Intention) I have too much Reason to fear that many Scholars, tho' they occasionally look into it as Critics, and Commentators, to study the Sense of a difficult Pasiage, do not read it daily, and practically, to direct their Conduct in moral Life, and to warm their Hearts with a feeling Sense of Piety. But is this shewing that you believe Religion to be the one Thing needful? Wou'd you treat any Book with such Contempt, that taught you any infallibfe Way to Success in Trade, to Riches and Honours. I need not wait for an Answer. Christianity tells us [and you profess your Belief of it] that the Way to eternal Life is narrow, and that we must strive to enter into it; that we have many strong Passions and Habits to subdue; many difficult Virtues to acquire j many Temptations to seduce us; many Enemies within our own corrupt Hearts to betray us; many subtle, vigilant, potent Enemies from without, to allure and terrify us; that we are always wrestling, not only against Flesh and Blood, but against Principalities and Powers, against spiritual . Wickedness in high Places; that we are to be perpetually upon our Guard against the Wiles of the Devil and his Agents, as well as against the Treachery of our corrupt Nature; to take heed to our Ways, to keep the Door of our Lips, and to watch the secret Motions of our Thoughts; and therefore, that the working out of our Salvation being a Thing of such Labour and Difficulty, as well as infinite Importance, we ought to do it with Fear and Trembling. But let any one look round upon Mankind and observe, whether their Looks and Actions speak any such State of Warfare and Danger. Instead of being anxious for. the Event of so momentous an Affair as our eternal Salvation, they look quite easy andunconcern'd; Instead of being vigilant, they are quite careless; instead of being active, they are quite indolent. And is this Behaviour consistent with a Persuasion that we think our future Welfare the one Thing needful? The Professors of Christianity declare that they are Citizens of another Country, that their true Riches are in Heaven, and that their heavenly Treasure will be as durable, and inconceivable, as the Torments of the Wicked; and yet Christians in general are so far from having their Thoughts so full of an Immortality of such a Bliss, as to have it always lie uppermost for a constant governing Principle, that they seldom think of it. Their Thoughts, their Inclinations, their Maxims and Schemes, are all sensual, and worldly. One Man is wholly intent upon a Circle of Amusements and Diversions. This is the grand Business of his animal Life. Another is as inE 2 tent