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Where do men get these opinions? What delight is there in expecting misery without an end? What ground is there for boasting in the experience of nothing but impenetrable darkness? Or what consolation in despairing for ever of a comforter?

Acquiescence in such ignorance is monstrous, and they who thus linger on through life, should be made sensible of its absurdity and stupidity, by shewing them what passes in their own breasts, so as to confound them by a sight of their own folly. For men who thus choose to remain ignorant of what they are, and who seek no means of illumination, reason in this way:


"I know not who has sent me into the world, nor what the world is, nor what I am myself. I am fully ignorant of all things. I know not what my body is, what my senses are, or what my soul is. This very part of me which thinks what I now speak, which reflects upon all other things, and even upon itself, is equally a stranger to itself, and to all around it. I look through the vast and terrific expanse of the universe by which I am encompassed; and I find myself chained to one petty corner of the wide domain; without understanding why I am fixed in this spot, rather than in any other; or why this little hour of life was assigned me at this point, rather than at any other of all that eternity which was before me, or of all that which is to come. On every side I see nothing but infinities, which enfathom me in their abysses as a mere atom, or as a shadow which lingers but a single instant, and is never to return. All that I know is, that I must shortly die; and that of which I know the least, is this very death, from which I cannot fly.

"As I know not whence I came, so I know not whither I go. This only I know, that when I leave this world, I must either fall forever into nothingness, or into the hands of an incensed God; but I know not to which of these two conditions I shall be eternally doomed

"Such is my state; full of misery, of imbecility, of darkness. And from all this, I argue that it becomes me to pass all the days of my life, without considering what shall hereafter befal me; and that I have nothing to do, but to follow the bent of my inclinations, without reflection or disquiet, and if there be an eternity of misery, to do my utmost to secure it. Perhaps inquiry might throw some light upon my doubts; but I will not take the pains to make it, nor stir one foot to find the truth. On the contrary. while I shew my contempt for those who annoy themselves by this inquiry, I wish to rush without fear or foresight upon the risk of this dread contingency. I will suffer myself to be led imperceptibly on to death, in utter uncertainty as to the issue of my future lot in eternity."

Verily, religion may glory in having for its enemies, men so irrational as these; their opposition is so little to be dreaded, that it serves, in fact, to illustrate the main truths which our religion teaches. For our religious system aims chiefly to establish these two principles, the corruption of human nature, and redemption by Jesus Christ. Now, if these opposers are of no use in confirming the truth of redemption, by the sanctity of their lives; yet they admirably prove the corruption of nature, by the maintenance of such unnatural opinions.

Nothing is so important to any man as his own condition; nothing so formidable as eternity. They, therefore, who are indifferent to the loss of their being and to the risk of endless misery, are in an unnatural state. They act quite differently from this in all other matters; they fear the smallest inconveniences; they anticipate them; they feel them when they arrive; and he who passes days and nights in indignation and despair, at the loss of an employment, or for some fancied blemish on his honor, is the very same man who knows that he must soon lose all by death, and yet continues satisfied, fearless, and unmoved. Such an insensibility to things of the most tremendous consequences, in a heart so keenly alive to the merest

trifles, is an astonishing prodigy, an incomprehensible enchantment, a supernatural infatuation.

A man in a dungeon, who knows not if the sentence of death has gone forth against him, who has but one hour to ascertain the fact, and that one hour sufficient if he knows that it is granted, to secure its revocation, acts contrary to nature and to common sense, if he employs that hour, not in the needful inquiry, but in sport and trifling. Now, this is the condition of the persons whom we are describing; only with this difference, that the evils with which they are every moment threatened, do infinitely surpass the mere loss of this life, and that transient punishment which the prisoner has to dread. Yet they run thoughtlessly onward to the precipice, having only cast a veil over their eyes to hinder them from discerning it; and then, in a dreadful security, they mock at those who warn them of their danger.

Thus not only does the zeal of those who seek God, demonstrate the truth of religion, but even the blindness of those who seek him not, and who pass their days in this criminal neglect. Human nature must have experienced a dreadful revolution, before men could live contentedly in this state, much more before they could boast of it. For supposing that they were absolutely certain, that there was nothing to fear after death, but annihilation, is not this a cause rather for despair, than for gratulation. But seeing that we have not this assurance, then is it not inconceivably silly to boast because we are in doubt?

And yet, after all; it is too evident, that man is in his nature so debased, as to nourish in his heart a secret joy on this account. This brutal insensibility to the risk of hell or of annihilation, is thought so noble, that not only do those who really are sceptically inclined, make their boast of it, but even those who are not, are proud to counterfeit a doubt. For experience proves, that the greater part of these men are of this latter kind, mere pretenders to Infidelity, and hypocrites in Atheism. They have been told that the spir

it of high life consists in rising above these vulgar prejudices. They call this throwing off the yoke of bondage; and most men do this, not from conviction, but from the mere servile principle of imitation.

Yet if they have but a particle of common sense remaining, it will not be difficult to make them comprehend, how miserably they abuse themselves by seeking credit in such a course. For this is not the way to obtain respect, even with men of the world; for they judge accurately, and know that the only sure way to succeed in obtaining regard, is to approve ourselves honest, faithful, prudent, and capable of advancing the interest of our friends; because men naturally love none but those who can contribute to their welfare. But now what can we gain by hearing any man confess that he has thrown off the yoke; that he does not believe in God, who watches over his conduct; that he considers himself as the absolute master of his own actions, and accountable for them only to himself. Will he imagine that we shall not repose in him a greater degree of confidence than before, and that henceforth we shall look to him for comfort, advice or assistance in the vicissitudes of life? Does he think that we are delighted to hear that he doubts whether our very soul be any thing more than a breath or vapor, and that he can tell it us with an air of assurance and self-sufficiency? Is this then the topic for a jest? Should it not rather be told with tears, as the saddest of all sorrowful things?

If they thought seriously, they would see that this conduct is so contrary to sound sense, to virtuous principle, and to good taste, and so widely removed from the reality of that elevation to which they pretend, that nothing can more effectually expose them to the contempt and aversion of mankind, or more evidently mark them for weakness of intellect, or want of judgment. And indeed, should we require of them an account of their sentiments, and of their doubts on the subject of religion, their statements would be found so miserably weak and trifling, as to confirm, rather

than shake our confidence. . This was once very aptly remarked by one of their own number, in answer to an infidel argument: "Positively if you continue to dispute at this rate, you will actually make me a Christian." And he was right; for who would not tremble to find himself associated in his opinions and his lot with men so truly despicable?

They also who do no more than pretend to hold these sentiments, are truly pitiable; for by the assumption of an insincere infidelity, they actually control their better natural tendencies, only to make themselves of all men the most inconsistent. If from their inmost heart they regret that they have not more light, why do they not confess it? Such a confession would be no disgrace; for there is really no shame, but in shamelessness. Nothing more completely betrays a weak mind, than insensibility to the fact of the misery of man, while living without God in the world. Nothing more strongly indicates extreme degradation of spirit, than not to wish for the truth of God's eternal promises. No man is so base as he that defies his God. Let them therefore leave those impieties to those who are vile and wretched enough to be in earnest. If they cannot be completely Christians, at least let them be honest men; and let them at length admit the fact, that there are but two classes of men, who may be called truly rational:-those who serve God with all their heart, because they know him; and those who seek him with all their heart, because as yet they know him not.

If there be any who sincerely inquire after God, and who, being truly sensible of their misery, affectionately desire to emerge from it; for these we ought to labor, that we may lead them to the discovery of that light which they have not yet discovered.

But as for those who live without either knowing God or endeavoring to know him, they count themselves so little worthy of their own care, that they can hardly deserve the care of others: and it requires all the charity of the religion which they despise, not

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