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into a direct contact with it.
Hearing, it is true, has a larger fphere of action, and gives us fome knowledge of things that are diftant. But how fmall is that diftance, fuppofe it were fifty or a hundred miles, compared to that between the earth and the Sun ? And what is even this, in comparison of the diftance of the Sun and Moon and the fixt ftars? Yet the fight continually takes knowledge of objects even at this amazing distance!
4. By fight, we take knowledge of the visible world, from the surface of the earth, to the region of the fixt stars. But what is the world vifible to us, but "a fpeck of creation," compared to the whole univerfe? To the invisible world? That part of the creation which we cannot fee at all, by reason. of its distance? In the place of which, through the imperfection of our fenfes, we are prefented with an universal blank?
5. But befide these innumerable objects, which we cannot fee by reason of their diftance, have we not fufficient ground to believe, that there are innumerable others of too delicate a nature to be difcerned by any of our fenses? Do not all men of unprejudiced reafon allow (the fmall number of Mate-rialifts or Atheists, the fame thing, I cannot term men of reafon). that there is an invifible world, naturally fuch, as well as a visible one? But which of our fenfes is fine enough to take the leaft knowledge of this? We can no more perceive any part of this, by our fight, than by our feeling. Should we allow with the antient Poet, that
"Millions of fpiritual creatures walk the earth Unfeen, both when we wake, and when we fleep."
Should we allow, that the great Spirit, the Father of all, filleth both heaven and earth. Yet is the finest of our fenfes utterly incapable of perceiving either Him or them.
6. All our external fenfes are evidently adapted to this external, vifible world. They are defigned to ferve us only
while we fojourn here, while we dwell in these houfes of clay. They have nothing to do with the invifible world: they are not adapted to it. And they can take no more cognizance of the eternal, than of the invifible world. Although we are as fully affured of the existence of this, as of any thing in the prefent world. We cannot think death puts a period to our being. The body indeed returns to duft: but the foul, being of a nobler nature, is not affected thereby. There is therefore an eternal world, of what kind foever it be. But how fhall we attain the knowledge of this! What will teach us to draw afide the veil
"That hangs 'twixt mortal and immortal being?"
We all know
"The vaft, the unbounded profpect lies before us,"
But are we not conftrained to add,
"Yet clouds, alas! and darkness rest upon it."
7. The most excellent of our fenfes, it is undeniably plain, can give us no assistance herein. And what can our boasted reafon do? It is now univerfally allowed, Nihil eft in intellectu quod non fuit prius in fenfu: Nothing is in the underflanding, which was not first perceived by fome of the fenfes. Consequently the understanding having here nothing to work upon, can afford us no help at all. So that in fpite of all the information we can gain, either from fenfe or reason, both the invifible and eternal world are unknown to all that walk by fight.
8. But is there no help? Muft they remain in total darkness, concerning the invisible and the eternal world? We cannot affirm this: even the Heathens did not all remain in total darkness concerning them. Some few rays of light have
in all ages and nations gleamed through the fhade. Some light. they derived from various fountains, touching the invisible world. The heavens declared the glory of God, though not to their outward fight: the firnament fhewed to the eyes of their understanding the existence of their Maker. From the creation they inferred, the being of a Creator, powerful and wise, just and merciful. And hence they concluded, there must be an eternal world, a future ftate to commence after the present, wherein the juftice of God in punishing wicked men, and his mercy in rewarding the righteous will be openly and undeniably displayed in the fight of all intelligent creatures.
9. We may likewise reasonably fuppofe, that fome traces of knowledge, both with regard to the invifible and the eternal world, were delivered down from Noah and his children, both to their immediate and remote defcendents. And however thefe were obfcured or disguised by the addition of number. lefs fables, yet something of truth was ftill mingled with them, and thefe ftreaks of light prevented utter darkness. Add to this, that God never in any age or nation, left himfelf quite without a witness in the hearts of men; but while he gave them rain and fruitful feafons, imparted fome imperfect knowledge of the Giver. He is the true light that ftill, in foine degree, enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world.
10. But all thefe lights put together availed no farther, than to produce a faint twilight. It gave them, even the most enlightened of them, no xos, no demonftration, no demonflrative conviction, either of the invifible, or of the eternal world. Our philofophical Poet jully terms Socrates
"The wifeft of all moral men."
that is, of all that were not favoured with divine revelation. Yet what evidence had he of another world, when he addreffed thofe that had condemned him to death.
And now, O ye Judges, ye are going to live, and I am going to die. Which of thefe is beft, God knows: but I fuppofe, no man does." Alas! What a confeffion is this? Is this all the evidence that poor, dying Socrates had, either of an invifible, or an eternal world! And yet even this is preferable to the light of the great and good Emperor, Adrian. Remember, ye modern heathens, and copy after his pathetic addrefs to his parting foul. (For fear I fhould puzzle you with Latin, I give it you in Prior's fine tranflation.)
"Poor, little, pretty, fluttering thing,
And doft thou prune thy trembling wing,
Thy pleafing vein, thy humorous folly,
Lies all neglected, all forgot!
And penfive, wavering, melancholy,
Thou hopeft and feareft thou knoweft not what."
11. "Thou knoweft not what!" True, there was no knowledge of what was to be hoped or feared after death, till the Sun of Righteoufnefs arose, to dispel all their vain conjectures ; and brought life and immortality, that is, immortal life to light through the gospel. Then, (and not till then, unlefs in fome rare inftances) God revealed, unveiled the invifible world. He then revealed himself to the children of men. The Father revealed the Son in their hearts: and the Son revealed the Father. He that of old time commanded light to fhine in their hearts, and enlightened them with the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jefus Chrift.
[To be concluded in our next.]
A Short Account of Mr. GEORGE SHADFORD.
[Written by Himself.]
Was born at Scotter near Kirton in Lindfey, Lincolnshire, Jun. 19. 1739. When I was very young, I was uncommonly afraid of death. At about eight or nine years of age, being very ill of a sore throat and like to die, I was awfully afraid of another worla; for, I felt my heart very wicked, and my confcience fmote me for many things that I had done amils.
As I grew up I was very prone to fpeak bad words, and often to perform wicked actions. We lived by a river fide, where a part of my cruel sport was to hurt or kill the poor innocent fowls. One day feeing a large flock of ducks fitting clofe together, I threw a flick with great violence, killed one of them upon the fpot, and was highly diverted at feeing it die, till I faw the owner of it come out of his house and threaten me feverely. I was then forely troubled, and knew not where to run. I knew I had finned, and was greatly afraid left it fhould come to my father's knowledge, therefore I dare not go home for a long time.
I was very prone to break the fabbath, and being fond of play, took every opportunity on Sunday to fleal away from my father. In the forenoon indeed, he always made me go to church with him, and when dinner was over, he made me and my fifter read a chapter or two in the Bible, and charged me not to play in the afternoon: but notwithstanding all he said, if any perfon came in to talk with him, I took that opportunity to heal away, and he faw me not till evening, when he called
me to an account.