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chiefly, or only, on his own arbitrary Construction.1 Let him translate as he pleases, and he can prove what he will; but deny him this Privilege, and hardly the Shadow of a Proof remains. It puts one in mind of the Army mention'd by his favourite Esdras, Ch. xiii. There was gather'd together a great Multitude of Men, out of number:-But no sooner should these men ingage, than upon a sudden, of an innumerable Multitude nothing was to be perceived, but only Dust and Smoak.

However, as Mr. Whiston had endeavoured to support his Cause by Authorities, I thought it not proper to leave mine wholly destitute of the same Advantage. For this Reason I willingly quoted such Passages as I met with, either in ancient, or modern. Writers of Note and Eminency, that were serviceable to my Purpose. But it is needless perhaps to make any Apology for these Quotations: They are possibly the only Part of the Performance, which does not want one. Be it as it will, it must at last be left to the Indulgence of the Reader. A candid one will excuse any small Defects, or Mistakes; and as to the rest, it is to no purpose to intreat their Favour.

This is all I think necessary to be said by way of Preface, since I have more fully opened and explained my Design and Method in the Introduction.

1 Thus, for instance, rather than give the plain and full Sense of his Authors, he will translate them into something little less than Contradiction. Page 65, we find Polycarp speaking of that Fire which is lasting, and never (μndéñoтe) to be quenched. Why then is not alovov render'd Everlasting? So again, p. 70, he makes the Author of the Recognitions talk of the Punishments of lasting Fire (N. B.) without End.


HE several Treatises which have, within these

THE late Years, been published, against the

Doctrine of the Eternity of future Punishments ; and the too great Success which, it may be fear'd, they have met with, in a licentious and unbelieving Age; may have rendered it perhaps but too necessary to examine this Subject once more, and to try, whether it cannot be reasonably and fairly defended. It has long appeared in the World as a Doctrine of the Gospel, and been received under that Character; which tho' indeed it be no Proof, that it really is so, is yet an Argument, that it should not rashly be rejected, It ought, at least, to be set in a proper light, have its proper Evidence produced for it, and have at last a fair and impartial Hearing. When this is done, it must take its Chance The Cause will then be determined, not by general Exclamations, not by hard Names, and abusive Invectives, not by Appeals to the Pity and Passions of Men, not by spurious Authorities (none of which are of any Weight at all in the Case); but by what alone ought to determine it, true genuine Scripture, and right Reason,

That this Doctrine may be maintained upon this Footing, I am fully persuaded; but whether I am able to maintain it, is a Point, which I have Reason to be much less sure of. However, it is but reasonable, that every one should distinguish between the Cause itself, and the Defence of it. No Part of true Religion is naturally connected with any Man's Way of supporting it; but is certainly, in itself, capable of a rational Vindication, whether his Attempts to vindicate it succeed or fail: And I desire Religion may have the Benefit of this Observation, against any Injury I myself may do it.

My Design in these Papers is not to confine my Thoughts and Method to that of any one particular Writer; but as the Gentlemen, who have distinguished themselves on the negative Side of this Question, proceed upon different Principles, and advance Arguments and Hypotheses not very consistent with one another, I shall take a wider Compass, than perhaps is necessary to answer any one of them, and treat of the Subject in such a manner, that none of their Sentiments may appear to be wholly neglected. However, as Mr. Whiston is the latest Writer upon this Subject; as he complains, that some others before him did not go to the Bottom1 of it; and may therefore be supposed to imagine, that he himself has done it; and likewise as his Performance was the immediate Occasion of mine; at more particular Regard will be paid to him in the Course of these Observations. Now, this Gentleman tells us, that there is not so much as one plain Testi1 Pages 2, 136.

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