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N. 89. TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 1713.
Igneus est ollis vigor, et cælestis origo
VIRG. Æn. vi. 730.
From seeds of heavenly birth.
placeth us above the brute part of the creation, doth also subject our minds to greater and more manifold disquiets than creatures of an inferior rank are sensible of. It is by this that we anticipate future disasters, and oft create to ourselves real pain from imaginary evils, as well as multiply the pangs arising from those which cannot be avoided.
It behoves us therefore to make the best use of that sublime talent, which, so long as it continues the instrument of passion, will serve only to make us more miserable, in proportion as we are more excellent than other beings.
It is the privilege of a thinking being to withdraw from the objects that solicit his senses, and turn his thoughts inward on himself. For my own part I often mitigate the pain arising from the little misfortunes and disappointments that checker human life by this introversion of my faculties, wherein I regard my own soul as the image of her Creator, and receive great consolation from beholding those perfections which testify her divine original, and lead me into some knowledge of her everlasting archetype.
But there is not any property or circumstance of my being that I contemplate with more joy than my immortality. I can easily overlook any present momentary sor
row, when I reflect that it is in my power to be happy a thousand years hence. If it were not for this thought, I had rather be an oyster than a man, the most stupid and senseless of animals than a reasonable mind tortured with an extreme innate desire of that perfection which it despairs to obtain.
It is with great pleasure that I behold instinct, reason, and faith, concurring to attest this comfortable truth. It is revealed from heaven, it is discovered by philosophers ; and the ignorant, unenlightened part of mankind have a natural propensity to believe it. It is an agreeable entertainment to reflect on the various shapes
under which this doctrine has appeared in the world. The Pythagorean transmigration, the sensual habitations of the Mahometan, and the shady realms of Pluto, do all agree in the main points, the continuation of our existence, and the distribution of rewards and punishments, proportioned to the merits or demerits of men in this life.
But in all these schemes there is something gross and improbable, that shocks a reasonable and speculative mind. Whereas nothing can be more rational and sublime than the Christian idea of a future state. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for those that love him." The above-mentioned schemes are narrow transcripts of our present state; but in this indefinite description there is something ineffably great and noble. The mind of man must be raised to a higher pitch, not only to partake the enjoyments of the Christian paradise, but even to be able to frame any notion of them.
Nevertheless, in order to gratify our imagination, and by way of condescension to our low way of thinking, the ideas of light, glory, a crown, &c. are made use of to adumbrate that which we cannot directly understand. The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away, and behold all things are new. There shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun: for the Lord God giveth them light, and shall make them drink of the river of his pleasures; and they shall reign for ever and ever. They shall receive a crown of glory which fadeth not away."
These are cheering reflections; and I have often wondered that men could be found so dull and phlegmatic, as to prefer the thought of annihilation before them; or so ill-natured, as to endeavour to persuade mankind to the disbelief of what is so pleasing and profitable even in the prospect; or so blind, as not to see there is a Deity, and if there be, that this scheme of things flows front his attributes, and evidently corresponds with the other parts of his creation.
I know not how to account for this absurd turn of thought, except it proceed from a want of other employment joined with an affectation of singularity. I shall therefore inform our modern freethinkers of two points whereof they seem to be ignorant. The first is, that it is not the being singular, but being singular for something, that argues either extraordinary endowments of nature, or benevolent intentions to mankind, which draws the admiration and esteem of the world. A mistake in this point naturally arises from that confusion of thought which I do not remember to have seen so great instances of in any writers, as in certain modern freethinkers.
The other point is, that there are innumerable objects within the reach of a human mind, and each of these objects may be viewed in innumerable lights and positions, and the relations arising between them are innumerable. There is therefore an infinity of things whereon to employ their thoughts, if not with advantage to the world, at least with amusement to themselves, and without offence or prejudice to other people. If they proceed to exert their talent of freethinking in this way; they may be innocently dull, and no one take any notice of it. But to see men without either wit or argument pretend to run down divine and human laws, and treat their fellow-subjects with contempt for professing a belief of those points on which the present as well as future interest of mankind depends, is not to be endured. For my own part, I shall omit no endeavours to render their persons as despicable, and their practices as odious, in the eye of the world, as they deserve.
No 90. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 1713.
-Fungar vice cotis–Hor. Ars Poet. ver 304.
I'll play the whetstone.—CREECH. T
themselves, either out of laziness or vanity. The following is genuine, and I think deserves the attention of every man of sense in England:
I letters to
TO THE GUARDIAN.
June 20. “ Though I am not apt to make complaints, have never
any, and little thought I ever should, yet seeing that in your paper of this day you take no notice of yesterday's Examiner, as I hoped you would ; my love for my religion, which is so nearly concerned, would not permit me to be silent. The matter, Sir, is this :-A bishop of our church (to whom the Examiner himself has nothing to object but his care and concern for the Protestant religion, which by him, it seems, is thought a sufficient fault) has lately published a book, in which he endeavours to shew the fully, ignorance, and mistake, of the church of Rome in its worship of saints. From this the Examiner takes occasion to fall upon the author with the utmost malice, and to make him the subject of his ridi'cule. Is it then become a crime for a Protestant to speak or write in defence of his religion? Shall a Papist have leave to print and publish in England what he pleases in defence of his own opinions, with the Examiner's approbation, and shall not a Protestant be permitted to write an answer to it? For this, Mr. Guardian, is the present case. Last year a Papist (or to please Mr. Examiner, a Roman Catholic) published the life of St. Wenefrede, for the use of those devout pilgrims who go in great numbers
to her at her well. This gave occasion to the worthy prelate, in whose diocess that well is, to make some observations upon it; and in order to undeceive so many poor deluded people, to shew how little reason, and how small authority there is, not only to believe any of the miracles attributed to St. Wenefrede, but