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THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED.
IN TWO PARTS.
NATURE, PROOF, AND IMPORTANCE OF IMMORTALITY
WHERE, AMONG OTHER THINGS,
GLORY AND RICHES ARE PARTICULALY CONSIDERED
FEW ages have been deeper in dispute about religion than this. The dispute about religion, and the practice of it, seldom go together. The shorter, therefore, the dispute, the better. I think it may be reduced to this single question, ‘Is man immortal, or is he not?' If he is not, all our disputes are mere amusements, or trials of skill. In this case, truth, reason, religion, which give our discour es such poinp and solem nity, are (as will be shown) mere en pty sounds, without any meaning in them: but if man is inmortal, it will behove him to be very serious about eternal consequences; or, in other words, to be truly religious. And this great fundamental truth, unestablished, or unawakened in the minds of men, is, I conceive, the real source and support of all our infidelity, how remote soever the particular objections advanced may seen to be from it.
Sensible appearances affect most men much more than ab. stract reasonings; and we daily see bodies drop around us, but the soul is invisible. The power which inclination has over the judgment greater than can be well conceived by
those that have not had an experience of it; and of what numbers is it the sad interest that souls should not survive? The heathen world confessed that they rather hoped, than firmly believed, immortality! and how many heathens have we still amongst us! The Sacred Page assures us, that life and immortality is brought to light by the Gospel;' but by how many is the Gospel rejected or overlooked? From these considerations, and from my being, accidentally privy to the sentiments of some particular persons, I have been long persuaded that most, if not all our infidels (whatever name they take, and whatever scheme for argument's sake, and to keep themselves in countenance, they patronize) are supported in their deplorable error by some doubt of their immortality, at the bottom: and I am satisfied, that men once thoroughly convinced of their immortality, are not far from being Christians: for it is hard to conceive that a man, fully conscious eternal pain or happiness will certainly be his lot, should not earnestly and impartially inquire after the surest means of escaping one, and securing the other; and of such an earnest and impartial inquiry I well know the consequence.
Here, therefore, in proof of this most fundamental truth, some plain arguments are offered; arguments derived from principles which infidels admit in common with believers; arguments which appear to me altogether irresistible; and such as, I am satisfied, will have great weight with all who give themselves the small trouble of looking seriously into their own bosoms, and of observing with any tolerable degree of attention, what daily passes round about them in the world. If some arguments shall here occur which others have declined, they are submitted, with all deference, to better judgments, in this, of all points, the most important! for as to the being of a God, that is no longer disputed; but it is undisputed for this reason only, viz. because where the least pretence to reason is ad mitted, it must for ever be indisputable: and, of consequence, no man can be betrayed into a dispute of that nature by vani. ty, which has a principal share in animating our modern com hatants against other articles of our belief.
THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED. .
PART THE FIRST.
RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY PELHAM,
COMMISSIONER OF THE TREASURY, AND CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.
SHE* (for I know not yet her name in Heaven)
O the long dark approach, through years of pain, Death's gallery! (might I dare to call it so) With dismal doubt and sable terror hung, Sick Hope's pale lamp its only glimmering ray : There Fate my melancholy walk ordain'd, Forbid self-love itself to flatter there.
How oft I gazed, prophetically sad!
How oft I saw her dead, while yet in smiles!
Death urged his deadly siege; in spite of art,
Dearer than that he left me.
When my soul shudder'd at futurity;
Nor dreadful our transition, though the mina,
But grant the worst, 'tis past; new prospects rise.
And drop a veil eternal o'er her tomb.
Thy nature, Immortality! who knows?
By more than feeble faith, on the Supreme!
To read Creation; read its mighty plan
The plan and execution to collate!
To sec, before each glance of piercing thought.