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not conscious in himself, that he can walk or stand still, rise or sit, inove his finger to the north or to the south ? No, he can do non
none of these; he is but a mere machine, acted by certain Invisible springs, and that when two things are offered him, he cannot choose or refuse this or that, but is necessarily impelled to every thing that he thinks, or wills, or acts.* Enquire of him yet further, when he shuns the church, when he dwells at the tavern till midnight, when he seeks out the partners of his vices, and pursues forbidden pleasures, wliether he does not feel his own self, or his own inward powers choosing and acting all this with freedom? Ile will own that he seems to choose and act these things; but he still persists in direct contradiction to his own feeling and consciousness, that it is God acts all this in bio and by him; and while he feels himself so wilful and vile a criminal, blasphemes the blessed God, and makes him the author of all his crimes.
Contrary to all the dictates of his conscience, he affirms there is no virtue or vice, no such things as good or evil actions in a moral sense ; and consequently that God hath provided no beaven or hell, no rewards or punishments for any thing which is done by us in this life : for whatsoever we seem to do, it is all really effected by the will of God putting the train of causes in motion at first, and none of us could ever act otherwise than we do. And yet after all this mechanical account of themselves, and this denial of all freedom, these inen of matter and motion have the impudence, in opposition to common sense, reason, and grammar, to abuse language so far as to call themselves free-thinkers. Strange and prodigious! that men should ever hope for the honours of that title which their own opinions constantly disclaim ! That they should with such a steady effrontery deny what they feel continually in themselves, and what they practise ten times in an hour ; to gratify a humour, and support a most absurd opinion, which takes away all virtue, order and peace from this world, and, all hope and happiness from the next!
The third sort of men of this odd composition, are the deists among us. Apistus professes he is a friend to reason above all tbings, and he is led by nothing so much as reason; it is by reason that he believes there is a God who made, and who governs all things ; that he is bound to honour this God, and obey his will; that he must make it his business to love God and his neighbour, that there is an eterval difference hetween vice and virtue : that man is an intelligent and free agent; and by reason he is convinced that there are rewards and punishments provided for man in a friture state, according to his behaviour here. He believes also by the force of reason, according to ancient bistory, and the secure conveyance of it by writing, that there was such a man as Jesus Christ, as well as he believes there was such a man as Julius Cæsar; and as he confesses that this Julius was a Roman * See the true liberty of choice explained and proved in a late Essay of the Freedom of Will in God and Man.
and a General, and fought many battles, he cannot but confess by the sanje reasonings, that this Jesus lived in Judea and Galilee; that he was the son of a carpenter, and that he taught many escellent rules about vice and virtue, and the love of God and our neighbour ; and by the same exercise of his reason on the histori. cal account of the facts of past ages, be is persuaded that there were several wen of mean education and circumstances who followed this Jesus, and without the help of arms or bribery, carried bis doctrino afierward through the world. And yet, contrary to all reason, this very Apistus believes, that this obscure young man, Jesus of Nazareth, this son of a country carpenter, who was brought up to his father's trade, gave a better set of rules for the honour of God, for the love of our neighbour, and the conduct of our lives, than ever any philosopher did in Greece or Rome, and that he did all this without human literature, without any divine assistance, without any inspiration from God.
He believes farther, contrary to all reason, that this poor carpenter had art and cunning enough to impose false miracles on thousands of people in Judea and Galilee, and even in Jeruralem itself; that he made them believe that he cured the blind, that he gave hearing to the deaf, and feet to the lame, that he healed all manner of diseases by his word or his touch, and raised several who were dead to life again, without doing one real miracle, or having any extraordinary power given him by God.
He believes yet farther still, and in opposition to all the principles of true reasoning, that the disciples of this Jesus, poor illiterate creatures and fishermen as they generally were, except one Paul, who was a scholar ; I say, he believes that these men went about the world, and persuaded mankind to believe that this Jesus Christ arose from the dead after he had been crucified and buried some days, and made multitudes of his own countrymen and strangers, rich and poor, wise men and philosophers, and whole countries, believe it, though there was not a syllable of truth in it, says he, and it is scarce possible that it should be true. Je believes yet again that these silly men were sometimes cheats and impostors, who practised the greatest subtleties and artifice io deceive the world ; that sometimes they were wild enthusiasts, and half mad with devotion, though reason migiit as. sure him, that imposture and enthusiasm cannot long reside together in the same breast, but one will betray or destroy the other.
He believes on still, that these impostors or enthusiasts, be they what they will, engaged mankind to receive all the doctrines of this Jesus, and his religion, either by their tricks of art, or Ilreir fooleries of honest zeal, beyond what any of the wisest men of the world with all their skill and learning could ever do in the like (asc, and went on successfully to propagate bis doctrine, and foretold it should stand and continue to the world's end, without any extraordinary commission from heaven, or presence of
God with them. He believes also very unreasonably, that such a band of knaves, as he supposes then generally to be, carried on this imposture with such unanimity and faithfulness for many years, even to the end of their lives, that not any one of thein ever discovered the cheat, though they could expect to get nothing by it here in this world, but poverty, shaine, persecution, imprisonments, stripes, and a bloody death ; and in the other world, the wrath of God, for such knavery.
His belief goes further yet, contrary to all reasonable grounds; for be believes these followers of this Jesus Christ, by mere false pretences to miracles and gifts of tongues, spread his religion through the nations, though he knows that they appealed in a public inapoer to whole societies of men concerning the truth of these miraculous gifts conferred upon theinselves and other christians, and concerning this power of miracles, which displayed itself with such evidence and glory particularly in Corinti), where St. Paul must have been confuted with shame, and utterly confounded, if these things bad not been true, because that was a city of great learning and knowledge ; and yet Apistus obstinately believes still that neither these men, nor Paul himself, nor any of his followers, ever wrought one real miracle, nor spoke one tongue but what they learnt before in the common way: And that they spread this religion so widely among the nations, and so effectually, without any commission or help from God, though this religion contained in it doctrines contrary to the fashions and customs of the world, to the idolatrous religions of the nations, to the vicious inclinations of mankind and their corrupt appetites and passions. And though he cannot but see evidently that these 'men, and their successors in this opinion, have turned many thousands of persons to more virtue and piety than all the pbilosophers could do with all their learning ; yet he believes still that these men had no divine power attending them, nor any assistance from heaven.
In short, he believes contrary to all reason, these things which are far harder to believe than any of the peculiar articles of the christian faith! and yet Apistus pretends he cannot believe those articles, because they do not carry reason with them.
My God, deliver me from the blinding and stupifying prejudices of these three sorts of men, who contradict the plainest evidences of truth, and to maintain their absurd peculiarities, renounce the chief springs of all our knowledge; and let me be led honestly and sincerely by these faculties of sensation and consciousness which thou hast given ine, in conjunction and harmony with each other, and under the guard and improvement of right reason. The exercise of these powers, uuder thy holy influence, will effectually bring me to faith in the gospel of my blessed Saviour, and in compliance with the rules of that gospel I trust I shall find eternal life. Amen.
REMNANTS OF TIME
PROSE AND VERSE:
Short Essays and Composures on Various Subjects.
ADVERTISEMENT. Dr. Watts's Opinion about publishing these Papers, appears in the following
Advertisement prefixed to them by himself. THESE papers were written at several seasons and intervals of leisure, and on various occasions arising through the greatest part of my life. Many of them were designed to be published among the Reliquiæ Juveniles, but for some reason or other, not worth preseut notice, were laid by at that time. Whether I shall ever publish them I know not, though for the greatest part of them have long stood coçrected among my manuscripts ; nor do I suppose many of them inferior to those Essays and remarks of this kind which have before appeared in the world with some acceptance. If they are pot published in my life-time, my worthy friends, who have the care of my papers, may leave out what they please.
1.Justice and Grace. NEVER was there any hour since the creation of all things, nor ever will be till the last conflagration, wherein the holy God so remarkably displayed his justice and his grace, as that hour that saw our Lord Jesus Christ hanging upon the cross, forsaken of his Father and expiring. What a dreadful glory was given to vindictive justice when the great and terrible God made the soul of his own Son a painful sacrifice for sin ! What an amazing instance of grace that he should redeem such worthless sinners as we are from the vengeance by exposing his beloved Son to it! When I view the severity or the compassion of that hour, my thoughts are lost in astonishment : It is not for me, it is not for Paul or Apollos, it is not for the tongue of men or abgels to say which was greatest, the compassion or the severity. Humble adoration becomes us best, and a thankful acceptance of the pardun that was porchased at so dear a rate.
Next to this I know not a more eminent display of terror and mercy, than the dying hour of a pious but desponding christian under the tumultuous and disquieting temptations of the devil.
See within those curtains a person of faith and serious piety, but of a melancholy constitution and expecting death. While bis flesh is tortured with sharp agonics and terribly convulsed, a ghastly horror sits on bis countenance, and he groans under extreme anguish. Behold the man a favourite of heaven, a child of light, assaulted with the darts of hell, and his soul surrounded with thick darkness : All bis sins stand in dreadful array before him, and threaten him with the execution of all the curses in the bible. Though he loves God with all his heart, he is in the dark, he knows it not, nor can he believe that God has any love for him; and though he cannot utterly let go his hold of his Saviour and the gospel, yet in his own apprehension he is abandoned both of the Father and the Son. In every new pang that be feels his own fears persuade him that the gates of hell are now opening upon him : He hangs hovering over the burning pit, and at the last gasp of life, when he seems to be sinking into eternal death, be quits the body with all its sad circumstances, and feels bimself safe in the arms of his Saviour, and in the presence of his God.
What amazing transport ! What agreeable surprise ! Not to be utterred by the words of our scanty mortal language, por conceived but by the person who feels it. The body indecd, which was the habitation of so pious a spirit, is demonstrated at once : Behold the lifeless carcase; it makes haste to putrefaction. The released soul in extasy feels and surveys its own happiness, appears before the throne, is acknowledged there as one of the sons of God, and invested with the glories of the upper world. Sorrows and sins, guilt, fetters and darkness vanish for ever : It exults in liberty and light, and dwells for ever under the smiles of God.
What was it could provoke the wise and gracious God to permit the wicked spirit to vex one of his own children at this rate, and to deal so severely with the man whom he loves ? To expose that soul to exquisite anguish in the flesh, which he de. signed the same day to make a partner with blessed spirits ? To express in one hour so much terror and so much mercy ?
St. Paul will give a short and plain answer to this enquiry; Rom. viii. 10. “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.". Hence that anguish, those agonies and convulsions in the sinful flesh that must die, and these will be felt in some measure by the partner-spirit; though that spirit being vested with divine righteousness, or justified in the sight of God, shall survive these agonies in a peaceful immortality. Though the sufferings of the Son of God have redeemed it from an everlasting hell, yet it becomes the offended Majesty of heaven sometimes to give sensible instances what misery the pardoned sinner bas deserved; and the monent that he receives him into full blessedness, may, on some accounts, be the fittest to make a display of all his terror, that the soul may have the full taste of felicity, and pay the igher honours to recovering grace, The demolition of the eartt ly abernacle with all the pangs and