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it pleased God, to endure much more Sickness under the Care of my Mother and Friends, than at Cambridge ; where I cannot have those Comforts and Supports both for Soul and Body, as in the Country I may reasonably expect from those who have as well a nearer Relation, as a greater Affection for me.
To my great and chief Benefactor therefore do I address myself.
O thou Father of Mercies, through whom I was born; who hast exercised a particular Care and Providence over me in Soul and Body all my
Life long; who haft led me fafely through the various Stages of Infancy, Childhood, and Youth; and haft especially manifested the Care of my eternal Interest, Othou Lover of Souls, in giving me pious Parents, and inclining my Heart to thee early, in keeping me out of Temptation, and in preventing my going astray from thee, especially at Cambridge, where so many Temptations on every Side did furround me ; accept of this unfeigned Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving, which I offer to thy Majesty, for all these, and all other thy innumerable and undeferved Benefits to me; who am less than the least of all thy Mercies; and a miserable Offender against thy divine Majesty, and holy Laws. To thee I desire to offer all Laud, Love, Adoration, and Blessing, for all these thy infinite Favours. What am I, O Lord, that thou shouldst so regard me, and be so loth that I should perish? What am I but Duft and Ashes, that the Lord of Glory should lead me by the Hand to this comfortable Time, and not suffer my Enemies to tri
umph over me? I thank thee for my Life, Health, Food, Clothing, Preservation, Protection, kind Relations, and Friends, and all other the Mercies, thou hast heap'd upon me as to this World; but above all, for what concerns another, the constant Afiftance of thy Grace, Checks of my Conscience, happy Providences, and every thing else that thou haft done in order to my Salvation. To thee do I dedicate and devote myself Soul and Body, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively Sacrifice, to be always employed in Religion, or Innocence, to do thy Will, and obey all thy Commandments. Do thou therefore pardon all my past Sins, and grant me thy Grace, that hereafter I may always be dying to Sin, and rising again to Righteousness, continually mortifying all my evil and corrupt Affections, and daily proceeding in all Virtue and Godliness of Living. That I may perform every Trust and Duty incumbent on me faithfully, and with an upright Heart. Do thou direct me as to my Choice of my Condition' of Life, and in all Things in which I may stand in need of, that Wisdom which only flows from thee its Source and Fountain : And in whatsoever Employment or Place thy Providence shall call me to, that I may obtain Mercy to be faithful; and may always endeavour to have a Conscience void of Offence towards thee and towards all Men; that when thou shalt call me out of this World, I may be willing to depart, and to be with Christ; saying with the Apostle, I have fought a good Fight, I have finished my Course, I have kept the Faith ; benceforth is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord the righ
teous Judge shall give me at that Day. Grant all this O Father! through Jesus Christ our Lord, and Saviour. Amen!
September 21, 1690. IX. Of Atheism Speculative and Practical.
T was a noble Saying of a Heathen, That sup
posing he thought there were no God to govern the World, it would not be worth his while to live in it ; and certainly, were all Acknowledgment of a supreme all-seeing Power, banished from among Men, it would be highly eligible for a wife Man to choose to be annihilated, and return to a State of Insensibility; or at least to the Condition of the Brutes that perish, rather than live among Canibals and lawless Monsters, (such as Mankind, by such'a Disbelief, would degenerate into) a Prey to every one stronger than himself, and without any Hope or glimmering Expectation of ever seeing the World reform’d; and in utter Despair of ever enjoying himself better than he would then do. What Comfort could a Man reap in any Afiction, 'if all were nothing but inexorable Fate, or unthinking Chance? Whither should a distressed Innocent apply himself when he is unjustly condemned? What 'could engage a prudent Man to Generosity, and Patience under the irremediable Load of worldly Cares, Troubles, Disappointments, and Vexations? Finally, where hhould a sick, dying Creature address his Prayers? Whither should he fook for a little Support, and Allay, for his Heart-pier
cing Throws and Pangs? And how, with any to. lerable View, could he reflect on the King of Terror's Approach, and side into an abhorred Nonentity; as he must fancy at best. But far worfe is the Atheist's Cafe, if his Conscience awakes before he dies; and he finds, by its cutting Lashes, and dire Forebodings; by its condemning Sentence, and dreadful foretelling the approaching Judgment, and subsequent Burnings; that his fullen and obstinate Incredulity has not annihilated the God of Heaven, but only heated the Fire of his Indignation seven Times hotter than otherwise it would have been ; If, I say, the Case should stand thus with the guilty Wretch, where now is the Confidence with which he dar'd the Almighty? What will all his sensual Pleasures now confer to his Comfort and Satisfaction, and his jolly Company, the Clubs of Debauchees; how will they be able to administer one Dram of Consolation in his greatest Need? Miserable, thrice miserable Man! thus to have, by thy own Obstinacy and Infidelity, precluded all Hope from thyself at thy latter End! thus to have been without God all thy Life, but only to be thy Torment at thy dying Minute! So to have spent that Life which might have been improved into never-fading Pleasures in Heaven, as to have precipitated thyself headlong into those Flames which have been thy Sport and Pastime, and now like to prey upon thee to all Eternity! Wretch that thou wast! for a wanton, vile, contradictious Humour ; for a few fading, withering, beastly Pleasures; for a not confiderable Time of Licentiousness and Uncleanness,
of Sin and Profaneness, for the Sake of some base, hectoring, damning Companions: To have denied and provoked that Infinite Being, which would have been thy Support and Protector, thy Hope and Satisfaction, thy Comforter and Benefactor, and to have rendered him bound in Justice to make good his insupportable Threats in thy everlasting Perdition! This, this is the sad and deplorable Case of an Atheist awakened just as the Pit of Hell is opening its Mouth to receive him; not to mention all the secret Stings and Goads of his Conscience in an Affliction, or in a sober Interval ; the Meanness and Pufillanimity his Atheism betrays him into ; the Voice of Nature, and the Fears and Mifgivings, left at last he should be mistaken, and so be loft irrecoverably. This is the Way of them that forget God, and endeavour to root out the Belief of the Being of their own omnipotent Creator, from the Minds of Men: And such are the Wages of their daring Sin, and hectoring Profaneness. 0 my Soul come not thou into their Secrets'; enter not into their Society here, as ever thou defirest not to enjoy it hereafter. The Condition of the speculative Atheist, as is described before, one would think were as bad, as miserable as is any way possible to fancy. But yet the worse Half is yet to come; the Folly of the former is notorious ; but consider awhile, and you will see the practical Atheist is the greater Fool, and more inexcusable, and so perhaps muft abide a greater Punishment in Hell. The other had so much Cunning as to see the Belief of a God would be a severe Restraint to