« PreviousContinue »
tion of a silly world—but know, that these powers and honours were appointed by God, who has provided higher honours for true virtue, an inheritance undefiled, a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Go and pursue pleasures, ransack every element, explore all the luxury of tastes, squander all your wealth on your appetites, and consider your reason as designed to cater for your meaner lusts—But know, that God made those senses, and those good things which you so wantonly abuse, and has provided for virtue pleasures more pure, more refined, and durable. . "but you deny not his power, but "possibly, you say, he has no such de"signs: the promises, which are pre"tended, may be illusion and imposture. "This life we know, the other we "know not; it is folly to quit certain"ties for uncertainties."
If his power, then, be undisputed, a sew words will be sufficient. As for the
truth truth of his promises, I leave you to dispute that point with him at his tribunal. You take the promise of a man like yourself, though he may want sincerity, though he may change his will by instability of humour, though, were he ever so sincere and fixr, a thousand accidents may deprive him of the power of performing his promise. It is the office of faith (and surely it is no grievous imposition !) to believe the promise of a God, who is ever true, immutable, and omnipotent; the author of nature; and the director of all events.* «« But if he made the pleasures of "the world, where is the harm of en«•« joying them; why would he give us "appetites, if he meant to debar us of "the enjoyment?"
* Homer had truer notions than many nominal christians: he understood these three perfections of the Divine Being:
— s yap tjACiv wa'tevaypsrOv, xY asswuto, Ovtf arikunytov y, o, Ti mv xzipaM Ka-xa.KV<r®.
11. i. 526.
E 2' «* appe
The answer is short and easy: We are so far from being debarred the enjoyment of our appetites, that our duty lies in enjoying them, provided we do it in a virtuous manner; and it happens very unluckily for the debauchee, that the virtuous indulgence is the truer happiness. Where they cannot be indulged but at the expence of innocence, there they are to be denied: for God has forbidden the pleasure. Religion calls us not into cloystered retirement: We then best obey it, when we discharge the several duties of active life* provided we discharge them with innocence. Religion only interferes, where justice, honour, and charity are to be violated : there we must obey God rather than men.
As for the good and virtuous, who afe obliged to suffer by such abstinence, or by the calamities of the world, let them consider, that their sufferings give
them a kind of right or title to the promise of God. He has promised to avenge their wrongs, and reward their patience. He cannot forsake you without denying his own nature. Whatever be your trials and distresses, submit to them; and, though the world offered you all its transitory glories to seduce you, yet let it not tempt you to forfeit your greater privileges.