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Againft ATHEISM and INFIDELITY.
FTER having treated of false
bear mentioning a monstrous fpecies of men, who one would not think had any existence in nature, were they not to be met with in ordinary conversation, I mean the Zealots in Atheism. One would fancy that these men, tho' they fall short, in every other respect, of those who make a profession of religion, would at least out-shine them in this particular, and be exempt from that single fault which seems to grow out of the imprudent fervours of religion : But so it is, that Infidelity is propagated with as much fierceness and contention, wrath and indignation, as if the safety of man
kind depended upon it. There is something so ridiculous and perverfe in this - kind of Zealots, that one does not know how to set them out in their proper colours. They are a sort of gamesters who are eternally upon the fret, tho' they play for nothing. They are perpetually teizing their friends to come over to theni, though at the same time they allow that neither of them shall get any thing by the bargain. In short, the zeal of spreading Atheism is, if possible, more absurd than Atheism itself.
Since I have mentioned this unaccountable Zeal which appears in Atheists, and Infidels, I must further observe that they are likewise in a most particular manner possessed with the spirit of bigotry. They are wedded to opinions full of contradiction and impossibility, and at the same time look upon the smallest difficulty in an article of faith as a sufficient reason for rejecting it. Notions that fall in with the common reason of mankind, that are conformable to the sense of all ages and all nations, not to mention their tendency for promoting the happiness of societies or of particular perfons, are exploded as errors and prejudices; and
schemes. schemes erected in their stead that are al. together monstrous and irrational, and require the most extravagant credulity to embrace them. I would fain ask one of these bigotted Infidels, fupposing all the great points of Atheism, as the casual or eternal formation of the world, the materility of a thinking substance, the morta. . lity of the Soul, the fortuitous organization of the Body, the motions and gravitation of matter, with the like particuJars, were laid together and formed into a kind of Creed, according to the opinions of the most celebrated Atheists; I fay, fuppofing such a Creed as this were formed, and imposed upon any one people in the world, whether it would not require an infinitely greater measure of faith, than any set of articles which they so violently oppose. Let me therefore advise this generation of Wranglers, for their own and for the public good, to act at least so consistently with themfelves, as not to burn with Zeal for Irreligion, and with Bigotry for Nonsense.
Cælum ipfum petimus flultitia.
TIPON my return to my lodgings
last night I found a letter from my worthy friend the Clergyman, whom I have given some account of in my former papers. He tells me in it that he was particularly pleased with the latter part of my yesterday's fpeculation ; and at the same time inclosed the following Effay, which he desires me to publish as the fëquel of that discourse. It consists partly of uncommon reflexions, and partly of such as have been already used, but now let in a stronger light. .
A Believer may be excufed by the « moft hardened Atheist for endeavour6 ing to make him a Convert, because he « does it with an eye to both their inte« rests. The Atheist is inexcusable who • tries to gain over a Believer, because he • does not propose the doing himfelf or · Believer any good by such a conver
- The prospect of a future State is the E • secret comfort and refreshment of my
• soul, it is that which makes nature look • gay about me; it doubles all my plea
sures, and supports me under all my afflictions. I can look at disappoint
ments and misfortunes, pain and sick• ness, death itfeli, and what is worse 6. than death the loss of those who are
dearest to me, with indifference, fo long " as I keep in view the pleasures of eternity, " and the state of being in which there ' will be no fears nor apprehensions, pains "nor forrows, sickness nor feparation. · Why will any man be fo impertinently • officious, as to tell me all this is only
fancy and delusion ? Is there any me' rit in being the messenger of ill news ? • If it is a dream let me enjoy it, since
it makes me both the happier and the better man.
I must confess I do not know how • to trust a man who believes : neither • heaven nor hell, or in other words, a
future State of rewards and punish(ments. Not only natural self-love, but
reason directs us to promote our own • interest above all things. It can never • be for the interest of a Believer to do « me a mischief, because he is fure upon " the balance of accounts to find him