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2 The Danger of Infidelity. * proper disquifition of this caufe ?” I anfwer, in a few words. Confider the importance of it: confider, I intreat you, that it is an eternal concern. Were this duly con. fidered, it would be impossible for you to content yourfelf in fuch a state, wherein there is fo much as a peradventure as to the dreadful and astonishing confequences cfa disappointment. You may perhaps have hitherto concluded all revealed religion to be but a meer cheat and imposture –You may have borne your part in the converfation at taverns or coffee-houfes, against priest craft, cant, and enthufiafm.–You may have ridiculed all pretences to vital piety; and exploded all the Gospel-doĉtrines respečting future rewards and punifhments, as unreafonable, or unintelligible dreams and fiĉtions.—Well! fuppofing you were in the right, what happinefs, what comfort, or fatisfaćtion would your infidelity afford you ?–What rational man would envy you the confolation, ofimagining yourself upon a level with the beafts, and of expećting, that death will terminate all your hopes and fears! What believer would part with the glorious hope of eternal and inexpressible happinefs and joy, for the gloomy profpećt of annihilation ! It is certain, upon this fuppofition, the believer can be in no danger; he has nothing to lofe, or to fear : but has every way the advantage of you.– He has the prefent fatisfaćtion of being a favourite of heaven.–He has a continual fource of fupport and comfort, amidst the darkest fcenes of providence, from the gracious promifes of the Gospel.—He can overcome the miferies of life, and the terrors of death, with the ravishing view of a blefied immortality.—And it is certain, if miftaken, he will never lament his difappointment: but fleep as quietly in a state of non-existence as you can do. But perhaps I have mistook your fentiments. You may possibly have given into an opinion of a future existence, though you have called the truth of the Gospel into question. Be it fo. Yet upon this suppofition alfo, the believer has vaftly the advantage of you. He has all the happinefs in this life which Christianity affords; and this you muft be a stranger to. He can live in cómo, fort, and die in peace. His religion deprives him of nothing, which can any way contribute to his rational happinefs and delight; but every way tends to subferveand promote them. And certainly (even upon your own principles) he may have as fair a claim to fincerity, in his endeavours to approve himself to the glorious author of our being, as you can have; and confequently as good a profpećt of future bleflednefs. So that, upon the whole, it is evident that hẹ has nothing to fear from his principles, whether they be true or falfe. He has no caufe for thofe stinging reflećtions ; what if I am mistaken ! What if my fentiments should prove falfe, when it comes to the decifive trial ! ' . - And now, let us turn the tables; and confider the bitter fruits of your fatal mistake, if Christianity should at laft prove true. You can’t but acknowledge, that there have been great numbers of men of the best moral qualifications, whofe intellećtual powers were no ways inferior to theirs on the other fide of the question, who have professed the truth, and experienced the power of that religion, which you have despifed. How many most excellent perfons, of the greatest integrity, learning, and fagacity, have at their peril appeared to ftand by this caufe; and have facrificed their eftates, their honours, and their lives, to the despifed and perfecuted doĉtrines of the crofs ! It’s certain, that you can’t have a greater afurance of being in the right, than thefe men have had ; and confequently there is at leaft a probability on their fide, as much as on yours. You yourfe!f therefore, and all the unbelieving gentlemen of your acquaintance, who have any degree of modesty left, muft necessarily own, that the caufe possibly may turn out against them. And what if it should ! I am even afraid to represent the confequences 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 confider this matter, without any refentment of my rustick method of address. Confider, it only as it is represented in the fcriptures; and in that view it will appear, that the dreadful confufion, the amazing horror, and the eterna: mifery,

which will be the confequence of your infidelity, will be vaftly beyond the utmost stretch of your most exalted apprehenfion or imagination. As foon as your foul is feparated from your body, it will become the immediate objećt of the divine wrath; and how lightly foever you may think of thefe things at prefent, you will find, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. When the great Judge of the world shall descend from heaven, to take vengeance on all those, who do not obey the Gospel of 7efus Christ, where will our unbelieving gentlemen appear ? Won’t their mirth beo quite fpoiled, their farcastick flouts and fleers be for ever over, when they muft stand trembling at the left hand of their Judge, having no possible refuge to betake themfelves to, no plea to make for their infidelity, no place of retreat in a diffolving world to hide their heads ! What comfort will it then afford them to fay, “ Alas! how have we been deceived ! We never thought it would have come to this ? Now we have found to our coít, that there is fomething more in the doćtrines of a final retribution, than fable or fiĉtion, priest-craft or fanaticism, however we have in the gaiety of our temper rejected and despifed them.’ Will they then be posteffed of a fufficient bravery and prefence of mind, to out-face their glorious Judge; and to hear with intrepidity the terrible fentence, depart, ye curfed, inte everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ? Will they with their ufual frolick humour, endure the execution of this fentence ; and with sport and pastime, weiter in the eternal flames of that furnace of fire, that is the destined abode of every final unbeliever ? Now, Sir, does it not infinitely concern you, to confider the cafe before you in this awful view, to compare and make a proper estimate of the inconceivably different states of the believer and the infidel, both with refpcét to time and eternity; and to enter upon the difquifition you propofe, with a mind duly imprested with the . vaft importance of your coming to a fafe conclufion ? You tell me, that you o can’t from the nature of * things fee any necessity of fuch a way of falvation, as * the Gospel propofes. The light of nature teaches us,

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* that God is merciful; and confequently that he will * pardon finners, upon their repentance and amendment “ of life.” Let us then confider this cafe impartially. I think, there is no need of arguments to convince you, that you are a finner. Do but confider the natural tendency of your affećtions, appetites and paffions; and review the paft condućt of your life; and a demonstration of this fad truth will unavoidably stare you in the face. Let any man enter into himself ; and feriously confider the natural operations of his own mind; and he muft necessarily find, that instead of a frequent and delightful contemplation of the perfestions of the divine nature, instead of a thankful acknowledgment of his obligations to the divine goodness and beneficence, and inftead of that fublime pleafure and fatisfaćtion, that should flow from the remembrance of his Creator and Benefaćtor, his affećtions are naturally following mean, low and unreafonable, if not vile and wicked en -tertainments and gratifications. He will find, that al communications with his glorious Creator are naturally painful and uneafy to him : while every trifling aniufement, and the vilest fenfual objećt of his thoughts, final a more easy entrance, and a more peaceable rest in his fouł. From hence it is most evident, that the heart is: revolted from God ; and that we have fubstituted the creature in his stead, as the objećt of our purfuit an ! dcliglyf. And befides this ; who are there among the beft đf the children of men, whofe confciences will not. charge them with innumerable actual transgressions of the law of nature ? From this view of the cafe, you mu t. therefore certainly find yourself in a state of moral pollution and guilt. - And can you in fuch a state as this, reflest upon a. God of infinite purity and justice with comfort and cou- : rage ? Won’t conscience fly in your face, and upbraid you with your guilt and danger ? don't your reafón teil: you that the great Creator and governor of the world is. too holy to approve, and too just to overlook fuch a fix.“ ed aversion to him ; and fuch numerous fins and prove-

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But “God is merciful.' True, he is fo, to all proper objećts of mercy ; and in a way agreeable to the laws of his immutable justice and holiness. But can you fuppofe, that God will give up his justice and holinefs, as a facrifice to his mercy, out of compaffion to thofe, who deferve no pity from him, to those who refufe the offers of his mercy in the Gospel, becaufe difagreeable to their finful defires and imaginations ? But “ Repentance will entitle the finner to pardon, * without any other Atonement.’ Are you fure of this? Certain it is, that mankind, have always, in all ages, thought otherwise. What else was the meaning of thofe facrifices that have every where obtain’d; and what the meaning of thofe fuperstitious aufterities, and fevere penances, that have been fo commonly praĉtis'd in the heathen world, if fome atonement befide repentance, was not thought necessary to pacify an offended deity ? Confider, I intreat you, that as fin is contrary to the divine nature, it must be the objećt of God's displeafure. As it is contrary to the rules of his governing the world, it muft deferve punifhment. If God be the rector and governour of the world, he mufthave fome laws to govern by. If he has laws to govern by, they must have fome penalties to enforce them. If his laws have penalties annexed to them, these muft be executed ; or elfe they would be but fcare-crows, without truth or justice. I entreat you alfo to confider, how the repentance of a guilty criminal can anfwer the demaırds of justice, What fatisfaếtion will our forrow for fin afford to the divine being ? How will it repair the difhonour done to the perfestions of his nature ? How will it rectify our depraved appetites and pastions ; and qualify us for the enjoyment of his favour ? How will it vindicate his holinefs ; and difcover to the rational world, his na · tural averfion to fin and finners ? Or how will the fear of God’s difpleasure be a fufficient restraint to men’s lufts and vitious appetites, if finners may fuppofe, that when they have gratified their lufts, and taken their fwing in fin, they can repent when they please ; and thereby have an cafy access to the favour of God ? In a word, whitevidence: can you possibly pretend to from,

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