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To what purpose then should I lavish away my time, my labour, and my substance, to build a vessel, which, even while you offer me the plan of it, you tell me will founder in the first storm, if it be not saved by miracle."

And now, Sir, arise and plead the injured cause of God and virtue, against all this train of wretched sophistry; and I will venture to say, that the arguments, and the distinctions, by which you confute the atheist, shall be your own answer. You would not, for shame, acknowledge that he reasoned justly, in a speech like this, which I, or rather yourself, have put into his mouth. You would not urge him, to throw up all thoughts of the reasons and evidences of natural religion, and to wait till he be inspired in a moment with an irresistible light from heaven, by which his faith should be completed in an instant, a perfect creed produced at once, and made selfevident to the mind, in a way little different from intuition." (p. 59.) I charitably believe you would think the subject too serious for such kind of jargon, and forgetting your harangue to your Oxonian friend, you would gravely inculcate very different principles.

You would, no doubt shew your antagonist, that he talked in a very crude and indigested manner, and confounded things, which should by all means be carefully distinguished, and indeed are very easily distinguishable.--You would then to be sure own, and urge, that all mankind are capable of some reasoning, unless they be lunatics or idiots, who are confessedly out of the present question; and that the great proofs of religion are so plain, that a few words, and a little time and labour, may clear them beyond all reasonable objections.--You would remind him, that common sense might teach him in general to distinguish between what is essential, and what is merely circumstantial in an argument, and might find out a medium between being exquisitely learned in the history of controversies relating to the Deity, and utterly unacquainted with any reason for believing his existence.-You would tell him, that the great Author of nature, having given him some hints of his being and perfections, (which the very questioning of them, or even the denial, would prove he in fact had,) might justly require, that he should seriously and candidly weigh at least the most obvious proofs; which, if he did he would undoubtedly see his obligations to believe and practise accordingly. And when he urged the inefficacy of these persuasions to influence his practice, you would perhaps add, before you were

well aware, that if a rational creature could commit such an outrage upon reason, as to rush on to prohibited gratifications, in the apprehended presence of God, and at the known expence of his favour, he must charge the fatal consequence on himself alone; and might in the mean time be ashamed to confess himself so mean a slave to every irregular propensity of appetite and passion, and to talk of the demonstrative good of those baits, which he knew in his own conscience to be the instruments of final destruction.

In short, Sir, not to swell this recapitulation, into which I am thus accidentally fallen, to the length that you have yourself given. (p. 109-111.) I think you must answer him by the very same considerations, which I urged in my former letter, when replying to you, and by consequence must confute yourself. And as one who knows the importance of the matter, and wishes nothing more sincerely than to see you extricated from these labyrinths of sophistry and error, I do now beseech you, that you would enter into your own conscience, while the matter stands in this point of light, and ask yourself, how you could possibly on your own principles reply to this enemy of natural religion? I dare say, the public would be pleased to see, how you would manage the debate. But if you could not defend even natural religion without confuting yourself, then consider how you will answer it to God and to the world, not openly to renounce tenets that must be so utterly subversive of it.

You are pleased, Sir, in one of your concluding pages, (p. 112.) to intimate your purpose of offering up in behalf of your young friend "your most ardent prayers at the throne of grace, that God would illuminate and irradiate his mind. with a perfect and thorough conviction of the truth of his holy gospel." But if the end of your letter be indeed, what I find every body I converse with supposes it was, to overthrow what you here call "the holy gospel," and presently after, "that divine law dictated by the holy Spirit ;" I cannot forbear saying, that such a speech as this would become an atheist much better than a deist. It is, in that case, so notorious an insult on the majesty of God, and the throne of his grace, as one would imagine no creature should dare to commit, who apprehended but a remote possibility that he might at length be obliged to prostrate himself before it, and ask the life of his soul there. It would pain my heart so much, to think you should be capable of carrying impiety to such a height, that I am sometimes ready rather to forget all that looks like infi

delity and profaneness in what you had before written, and charitably to hope, though against hope, and though it be perhaps at some expence of my character that I should mention it, that you are indeed a devout, though irrational, believer of the gospel, and that your treatise is to be numbered amongst the wonders which enthusiasm has wrought, But whether you wrote this passage in earnest or in jest, it is with all seriousness I now assure you, that I pour out my ardent prayers before the throne of grace for you; that by the secret influences of the blessed Spirit on your heart, (to whose agency no prejudices are invincible) you may be led into a wiser and a happier way of thinking than you seem at present to entertain; and that God may not charge to your account the ruin of those souls, whom this unhappy pamphlet, whatever was intended by it, has so palpable and so fatal a tendency to destroy. Could what I have written, in either of these letters, be at all subservient to the accomplishment of this wish, it would be one of the most sensible pleasures which can ever reach the heart of,

Sir, your faithful humble Servant,


Northampton, Dec. 1, 1742.



WHEN I concluded my last letter to you, I was not deter

mined upon this third address: But I make it in compliance with the request of several of my friends, who think, that in order to do full justice to the work I have undertaken, I ought to consider your third part. This they the rather urge, as it may give me an opportunity of vindicating an important doctrine of scripture, which some of the friends of christianity have unwarily represented in such a view, as to encourage its enemies to endeavour to plant their artillery against the gospel, on that ground, from whence, if there be due care taken, it is most capable of being defended. I am the more willing to comply with this request, because I find your ingenious correspondent at Oxford (whose letter to you has, I doubt not, given the world a great deal of pleasure,) has modestly omitted the discussion of this, as well as of several other points, which I have examined at large in my two former letters.

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I proceed therefore directly to the consideration of what you have advanced in the third part of your book; in which you undertake to shew, that christianity cannot be founded on argument, i. e. that we cannot be obliged to exercise our reason in discovering its evidences, or judging of its doctrines, because God has prescribed another, and very different method of coming at the knowledge of divine truths; which is, as you re present it, in the 56th and following pages,) the immediate operation of the holy Spirit upon our minds, infallibly dictating to us the whole scheme and system of them, in such a manner, as to leave nothing to be done by ourselves, but merely to receive and assent to doctrines seen by their own light, under the influence of his teachings.

Now, here, Sir, had you separated some things, which you offer in illustration and proof of this general assertion, from the rest, I should have been very ready to have acknowledged their truth and their moment, and had it been necessary, (which I am well aware it would not have been,) to have joined with you in the defence of both; as you will easily see by what I am farther to offer, and must indeed well perceive from what I have already written in this controversy, even though you should be ever so much a stranger to my other writings; in all which I am continually referring to the necessity of divine influences on the mind, to form it to knowledge and holiness; and in some of which, (particularly my seventh sermon on regeneration,) I have set myself to defend the doctrine at large, in a manner which must certainly appear very sincere, and will, I hope, be found thoroughly convincing to all, who will seriously weigh it, and will abide by scripture as the standard of their faith. But

* Had I not observed many other marks of very great haste in good Mr. Seagrave's pamphlet, in which he has undertaken to adjust matters between us, long before he had heard me out; I should have been much surprised to see myself charged with representing the agency of the spirit as only necessary to confirm faith, and quicken obedience, and with intimating that saving faith must of course follow a religious education. Surely, he is too honest, thus to misquote my words with design, or to say such things, had he read with any attention at all, I will not say, my sermons on education, (in which I strongly assert the contrary, as well as in those on regeneration,) but even the 34th page of my first letter on which he animadverts; in which I spake of the influences divine grace as necessary to the success of the most pious and prudent attempt which parents can make: And in my second letter, published several days before his pamphlet, (p. 114.) I speak of it “as the office of the spirit, to enlighten and renew, to sanctify and strengthen, to cheer and guide the children of God and heirs of glory." I I believe this rashness to have been the effect of a pious, though in this respect, ill governed zeal, and therefore I can easily excuse it; but my respect to that gentleman leads me to wish, that he may have patience, as Solomon well expresses it, (Prov. xviii. 13.) to hear a matter before he answers it, because I desire that every thing in which he engages may be reisdom and honour to kim.

my complaint is, that what you teach on this head, though in many places very true, and expressed with great propriety, is intermingled and connected with other assertions, which seem to me quite unscriptural, and extravagant; and which, if they were to be admitted, must necessarily end in the subversion of christianity. For all your scheme centres in this," that these influences and assistances of the spirit of God are of such a kind, as to contain an ample revelation of the whole system of christianity, to every particular person who is the subject of it; so as to supersede the necessity of any rational enquiry into the evidences or contents of religion; and in such a manner as to place him above all dependence on scripture, and, in one word, to make him absolutely infallible."

That the reader may not imagine, I mistake your meaning, and aggravate the matter beyond due bounds, I shall transcribe a few passages of yours, in which it will plainly appear, that you carry the matter to this extravagant height. And whoever attentively considers the connection of many of these passages with the rest, will immediately find, that what is most extravagant in these assertions, is so essential to your scheme, that were these passages to be moderated, the mention of this doctrine would be quite foreign to your purpose.

While you plead for the reality and necessity of such an influence, you call it in the general, "A constant and particular revelation, imparted separately, and supernaturally, to every individual." (page 112.) And elsewhere, (page 56.) you speak of the Spirit, as "the great dictator and infallible guide who is the promised oracle to attend believers to the end of the world, to irradiate their souls at once, as the allsufficient origin of faith, in opposition to the aids and advices. of reason." This you call (page 58.) "the light of inspiration, and infused evidence, which is of immediate influence, and operates, as in the case of Saul," (as if that were to be considered as a common standard,) without delay :" A principle, which effects conversion," (you must, I suppose, mean, to the belief of christianity as a speculative truth)" by an irresistible light from heaven, and flashes conviction in a moment ;producing," as you express it, (page 59.) "the most perfect and finished creed at once ;"- -so as to be "the sum and substance of all argumentation, and" (whatever that sublime expression may mean,)" the very spirit and extract of all convicting power, of a nature, perhaps, but little differing from intuition itself;-in consequence of which there is nothing in the suspicious repositories of human testimony," (in which, it is

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