of life vanishes into ether, and is no more, when once the laws of the vital union are broken. Death itself is nothing, and after death is nothing; take courage, man : either die like yourself, master of your own fate and happiness, so long as it is to be kept; or else recover, and live worthy the character of a person, who knows how either to live or die. So wishes," &c.

This letter was but fuel to the tormenting flame, before in the breast of the sick gentleman; who immediately dictated the following answer :

« Sir,

"Being not able to use my own, I have borrowed another hand, to answer yours. You say well, it is a more grateful office to endeavour to remove the disorders of the mind than of the body. What you urge of the common lot of mankind, as death and sickness, I could wish were my case; but my affliction is, that despair and hell are the common lot of Atheists. Now your argument cannot reach my case, unless you first prove that Atheism is as inevitable as death and sickness, and that therefore the effects of it are to be borne patiently, unless a man will combat necessity, and fight against the laws of fate. I have formerly ased this way of arguing myself, but wonder now how I could ever think it conclusive. You say, that if we examine death and its supposed consequences by our reason, those formidable monsters grow tame and familiar: if, by our reason, you mean either that peculiar to Atheists, or the common reason of human nature, I am sure these monsters

will grow less tame and familiar, the more we think of them: since no reason shews what an unexperienced death is, or what the change consequent upon it, how can we judge of things we do not know? Reason on such things as long as you please, and you will be at last as far from the truth as when you began. Your argument is extremely weak about a pre-existent and a future state: I retain no impression of past happiness or misery, therefore there is none to come; how that is a consequence, I do not see. Next you would have me believe, upon your bare word, that death is nothing, and after death is nothing pray, how do you know, having not yet tried? There are a great many that say the contrary. I have only concerned myself with the rationality of your letter, that you may believe I am not distracted; which I would desire you to believe, that what I am going to say may not have less weight with you. It is true, and whether you believe it or not, you will find it so at last; if I could force you to believe it I would all I can do is, to deal with you as a reasonable creature, by opening my breast to you, and then leaving you at your liberty to act as you please. While we are in health and business, we may act contrary to our intentions, and plead for the thing we believe not; but when we coine to die, the vizard is taken off, and the man appears as he is. This is my condition, and therefore I can have no motive to impose upon my friends. Religion is no impostor, heaven and hell are real, and the immortality of the soul as certain as the existence of the body: for a time


we have officiously deluded and bearance of my inveterate impiecheated ourselves out of religion ties and profaneness. Let me and happiness ; and God, who entreat you to leave off your sins; will not always be despised by his who knows but God may yet recreatures, has chosen me as an ceive you? I speak not this out example to you all, and a warn- of any love to virtue, or hatred of ing to the lazy and indifferent vice (for I am hardened and imChristian. But who, alas ! can penitently reprobate); but, like write his own tragedy without' Dives, I am unwilling my brethtears, or copy out the seal of his ren should come into this place own damnation without horror ! of torment. Make what use of That there is a God, I know, be- this you please ; only remember, cause I continually feel the ef- that if it does not reclaim it will fects of his wrath : that there is enhance your guilt, possibly to be a hell, I am equally certain, overtaken in this world, as I am having received an earnest of my by the just judgment of God ; if inheritance there already in my not, be sure you will be met with breast : that there is a natural hereafter, which is all, from, &c." conscience, I now feel with hor- As soon as the letter was read ror and amazement, being con- and sent, the night being far tinually upbraided by it with my worn, we all took our leave of impieties, and with all my sins him, wishing him good rest, and brought to my remembrance. a happier condition the next day. Why God has marked me out To which he replied, “ Gentlefor an example of his vengeance, men, I thank you, but my haprather than you or any other of piness is at an end ; and as for our acquaintance, I presume, is, my rest to night, thus I spend because I have been more reli- the little remainder of my misergiously educated, and have done able moments. All the ease I greater despite to the Spirit of expect will be wishing for the Grace. What egregious folly is day, as in the day time I wish for it for dust and ashes to contend the night, and in a fearful expecwith its Creator, to question his tation of my dissolution, and the justice, his power, yea, his very account I must make upon it. being ; when at the same time, But, Gentlemen, good night to without this God, every such you ; and remember me, to conwretch would immediately fall firm you in the religion I have into nothing, being without him disowned, that you may stand not able to exist one moment ? more cautiously by my folly, and What vile ingratitude is it scur- secure the happiness I have forrilously to reflect on his religion, feited." who died to reconcile such re- The next day came several of 1 flecters to himself? Do not mis- his friends out of the country. take yourself; it is not a light Having had an account of his cir. matter to contend with the God cumstances, one of them told him of nature, to abuse religion, and that he and several more of his deny its Author, and (what is relations came to town, and were worst of all) to apostatize from it, sorry to find him in so weak a as I have done. God has met condition as he appeared to be in; with me for it, after a long for- for yow he was nothing but skin


and bone, the agonies he lay under doing the work of the quickest consumption.

He answered, "I am obliged in common civility to thank you all but who are my relations? Our Saviour said, such as did the will of his heavenly Father were his relations. I may properly say, that none but the Atheists, the reprobate, and such as do the work of the devil, are my rela tions. This little tie of flesh and blood will dissolve in a moment, but the relation I have with the damned is permanent. The same lot, the same place of torment, the same exercise of blasphemy, and the same eternity of horror, will be the common lot of us all; so the similitude of torments, place, and duration, will join us in a very strict union."

His friends, who only had heard he was distracted, hearing him deliver himself in such terms were amazed, and began to inquire of some of us, what made him talk at such a rate? He, hearing them whispering together, and imagining the cause, called them all to him, and said,

"You imagine me melancholy or distracted: I wish I were either; but it is part of my judgment that I am not. No; my apprehension of persons and things is rather more quick and vigorous, than it was when I was in perfect health; and it is my curse, because thereby I am more sensible of the condition I am fallen into. Would you be informed why I am become a skeleton in three or four days? See now then I have despised my Maker, and denied my Redeemer; I have joined myself to the Atheists and profane, and continued Vol. II. No. 1. E

this course under many convic. tions, till my iniquity was ripe for vengeance, and the just judgments of GoD overtook me, when my security was the greatest, and the checks of my conscience were the least. Since I have denied that salvation which cometh by Jesus Christ, there is no other Mediator or Intercessor for sinners; if there be, which is he that can redeem my soul from hell, or give a ransom for my life? No, no; "if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to consume the adversary." "There remains no more sacrifice for sin," that is the wound that pierces my soul. CHRIST JESUS was the only expiatory sacrifice GOD would accept ; I not accepting, I would say, I despising this, there remains no other for me to accept of, no other to make atonement and satisfaction for me; there is no other name given under heaven but the name of JEsus, whereby we may be saved, and it is that JESUS whom I have reproached, and ridiculed, and abused in his members; nay, to whom I have induced others to do the same. Methinks your breasts are all open to me, and, in the midst of your pity and surprise, you would bid me hope and believe, and supplicate the mercy I have abused, because JESUS CHRIST came to save sinners, and to bring to repentance. In that I know all your thoughts. Alas, how fain would I hope and believe! Can a man in torments not desire to be freed from them? No, assure yourselves I would upon any terms; but the wrath

of God obstructs the power of way, and lay in a swoon for a conhoping and believing, and though siderable time ; but, by the help I would, I can do neither. I of some spirits, we brought him know not what some divines to himself again. . As soon as he mean, who say, He that desires had opened his eyes, he said, to repent, does it in some measure ; Oh, cruel, unkind friends, to I experience the contrary. A awaken me from a dream, in fruitless wish that comes not in which I had a cessation from my to act, is no more than a convic- torments !” This he spoke with tion which shall lay such persons so lively a concern, that no one under great condemnation.: You could refrain froin tears. “ You would have me supplicate that weep,” said he, “but your tears mercy I have abused. Alas, of come too late. Was I like athat I have no hopes, but what de- nother person that goes out of pend upon abused mercy! But the world, it would be one of my why said I hopes ? I have no greatest troubles to see you hopes! My hopes are frustrated, weep, or at best it would add to my expectations are cut off; and my pains ; for he must be unwhat remains behind ? Why am natural and senseless that would I bid to hope and believe ? Oh, not be troubled at the afflictions what mockery is this upon me! of others, especially his friends To find me in misery, and bid me and relations. But the case is be happy, without affording me otherwise with me. My cup is any power of being so! Indeed, full, and runs over already ; the should Jusus Christ say so to bitterness of my soul is as great me, it would be comfort ; but for as it possibly can be in this world ; you to say so; is the same thing my heart is full of horror and an as to bid a malefactor shake off guish ; no grief can add to mine, his chains, and assume his liber- being so great, that it is incapaaly ; or call up the dead to rise ble of receiving more. Perhaps

out of their graves, and challenge this may seem a paradox to you their estates and honours again. at first, but what think you of How idle is it to bid the fire not time, and eternity which comburn when fuel is administered, prehends and swallows up all and to command the seas to be time? Can any one add any smooth in the midst of a storm! thing to the wrath of God, which

a Such is my case ; and what are includes the fury of devils and the comforts of my friends ? But men ; this being derivative from, I am spent, I can complain no and independent of that? And more. Would to God that the can any one add to my grief and cause of my complaining would torture, who am fallen into the cease! The cause of my com- hands of the living God? No, plaining ! this renews my grief, no; reserve your tears for your and summons up the little sins, and cast them not away upstrength I have left to complain on one who is neither the better again, like an expiring blaze, be- nor the worse for them.” You fore it is extinguished. It is just may easily imagine what impresso with me : but whither am I sions this would make upon the

spirits of his friends. However, As he said this, he fainted a- in the midst of their grief and


[blocks in formation]

greatest torment, my punishment here, is for an example to others. Oh, that there was no God, or that this God could cease to be, for I am sure he will have no mercy upon me!" "Alas," said I," there is no contending with our Creator, and therefore avoid such words as may provoke him more."→ "True," replied he, "there is no contending; I wish there were a possibility of getting aboye God, that would be a heaven to me." I entreated him not to give way to such blasphemous thoughts, for Here he interrupted me. "Read we not in the Revelations of them that blasphemed God, because of their pains? I am one of their number. Oh, how do I envy the happiness of Cain and Judas?"" But," replied I, you are yet alive, and do not feel the torments of those, that are in hell,"



He answered, "This is either true or false; if it be true, how heavy will those torments be, of which I do not yet feel the uttermost? But I know it is false, and that I endure more than the spirits of the damned; for I have the very same torture upon my spirits that they have, beside those I endure in my body. I believe at the day of judgment the torments of my mind and body will both together be more intense; but as I now am, no spirit in hell endures what I do. How gladly would I change my condition for hell! How earnestly would I entreat my angry Judge to send me thither, were I not afraid that out of vengeance he would deny me!" Here he closed his eyes a little, and began to talk very wildly, every

« VorigeDoorgaan »