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NIGHT VI.

THE INFIDEL RECLAIMED.

IN TWO PARTS.

CONTAINING THE

NATURE, PROOF, AND IMPORTANCE OF IMMORTALITY

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PART I.

WHERE, AMONG OTHER THINGS,

GLORY AND RICHES ARE PARTICULALY CONSIDERED

PREFACE.

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

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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.

TO THE

RIGHT HONOURABLE HENRY PELHAM,

FIRST LORD

COMMISSIONER OF THE TREASURY, AND CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER.

SHE* (for I know not yet her name in Heaven)
Not carly, like Narcissa, left the scene,
Nor sudden, like Philander. What avail?
This seeming mitigation but inflames ;
This fancied medicine heightens the disease.
The longer known, the closer still she grew,
And gradual parting is a gradual death.
'Tis the grim tyrant's engine which extorts,
By tardy pressure's still increasing weight,
From hardest hearts confession of distress.

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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!
In smiles she sunk her grief to lessen mine:
She spoke me comfort, and increased my pain.
Like powerful armies trenching at a town,
By slow and silent, but resistless sap,
In his pale progress gently gaining ground,
* Referring to Night the Fifth.

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Death urged his deadly siege; in spite of art,
Of all the balmy blessings Nature lends
To succour frail humanity. Ye Stars!
(Not now first made familiar to my sight)
And thou, O Moon! bear witness; many a night
He tore the pillow from beneath my head,
Tied down my sore attention to the shock,
By ceaseless depredations on a life

Dreadful post

Dearer than that he left me.
Of observation! darker every hour!
Less dread the day that drove me to the brink,
And pointed at eternity below;

When my soul shudder'd at futurity;
When, on a moment's point, the' important dio
Of life and death spun doubtful, ere it fell,
And turn'd up life; my title to more woe.
But why more woe? more comfort let it be.
Nothing is dead, but that which wished to die;
Nothing is dead, but wretchedness and pain;
Nothing is dead, but what encumber'd, gall'd,
Block'd up the pass, and barr'd from real life.
Where dwells that wish most ardent of the wise? 45
Too dark the Sun to see it; highest stars
Too low to reach it; Death, great Death alone,
O'er Stars and Sun triumphant, lands us there

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Nor dreadful our transition, though the mina,
An artist at creating self-alarms,
Rich in expedicnts for inquietude,
Is prone to paint it dreadful. Who can take
Death's portrait true? the tyrant never sat.
Our sketch all random strokes, conjecture all;
Close shuts the grave, nor tells one single tale,
Death and his image rising in he brain
Bear faint resemblance; never are alike ·
Fear shakes the pencil: Fancy loves excess:
Dark Ignorance is lavish of her shades ;
And these the formidable picture draw.

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But grant the worst, 'tis past; new prospects rise.

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And drop a veil eternal o'er her tomb.
Far other views our contemplation claim,
Views that o'erpay the rigours of our life;
Views that suspend our agonies in death.
Wrapp'd in the thought of immortality,
Wrapp'd in the single, the triumphant thought!
Long life might lapse, age unperceived come on,
And find the soul unsated with her theme.
Its Nature, Proof, Importance, fire my song.
O that my song could emulate my soul!
Like her immortal. No!-the soul disdains
A mark so mean; far nobler hope inflames.
If endless ages can outweigh an hour,
Let not the laurel, but the palm inspire.

Thy nature, Immortality! who knows?
And yet who knows it not? it is but life
In stronger thread of brighter colour spun,
And spun for ever; dipp'd by cruel Fate
In Stygian dye, how black, how brittle, here;
How short our correspondence with the Sun!
And while it lasts, inglorious! our best deeds
How wanting in their weight! our highest joys
Small cordials to support us in our pain,
And give us strength to suffer. But how great
To mingle interests, converse, amities,
With all the sons of Reason, scatter'd wide
Through habitable space, wherever born,
Howe'er endow'd! to live free citizens
Of universal Nature! to lay hold,

By more than feeble faith, on the Supreme!
To call Heaven's rich unfathomable mines
(Mines which support archangels in their state)
Our own! to rise in science as in bliss,
Initiate in the secrets of the skies!

To read Creation; read its mighty plan
In the bare boso of the Deity!

The plan and execution to collate!

To sec, before each glance of piercing thought.

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