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3. That this does prove, that God will judge the world, and render to every man according to his Works.
I. That it is fo; that all men have a natural Presage of Judgment: There is indeed a very formidable Objection against this, That very few men live as if they did expect to be judged. But this is as good an Argument against mens belief ofthe Gospel of Christ, and the expressRevelation of a Future Judgment, as it is against the Natural Sense and Presages of Conscience; for there are too many who profess to believe the Gospel, but do not live as if they did believe a Judgment: But Ineed not trouble my self about this, because it is an Objection only to Atheists and Infidels, if indeed it be an Objection to them: Other bad men, who live as if they did not believe a Judgment, yet feel in themselves that they do believe it, and when they think of it, they believe and tremble too, as the Devils do; tho at other times they are overpower'd by the World and the Flesh, to act contrary to the Convictions of Conscience, and the Fears of Judgment.
The Heathens themselves, who had only the Light of Nature to direct them, were very sensible of the private Judgment of their own Consciences, which did either accuse them when they did ill, and fill them with remorse and fear of Vengeance ; or excuse, commend and applaud them when they did well, and give them great and chearful Hopes of a Reward; as St. Paul tells us, 2. Rom.14.15. and is frequently observed by the Heathen Philosophers, Poets, Orators and Historians, as a thing universally acknowledged: And indeed I know no man at this day who denies it,
and therefore I need not prove it. All men feel this in themselves,evenAtheists and Infidels, whenever they are serious and thoughtful ; when the Judgments of God overtake them or they see the near Approaches of Death, and another World: The greatest Power cannot defend men from these Fears; Princes and Politicians are equally exposed to them with meaner Subjects: Those whom no Human Power can touch, are over-awed by an invisible Justice.
II. Since this is universally acknowledged, the only Question is, To what cause to attribute these Fears and Rebukes of Conscience? The Atheists will by no means allow these Fears to be natural, but only the effects of a Superstitious Education; as they say the belief of a God, and the differences of Good and Evilare. Men have been taught from their very Infancy, that there is an Invisible Power that governs the world, which will reward good men, and punish the wicked, and have been frighted with the Fairy Stories of Infernal Judges, and Styx and Acheron, or Hell-Fire; and this made such an Impression upon their
Tender Fancies, as can never be wore out, at least not without great Industry and Resolution of Mind; and this, they say, makes weak men conclude that they are Natural. But this is a very absurd and ridiculous Account of the Matter, as will appear, if you consider by what Rules we are to judge, what is Natural, and what not: For if these Presages of Conscience have all the marks and signs of being natural, that we can have that any thing is natural, we must either say, that nothing is natural, or that we cannot tell what is natural, and what not ; or we must confess it great Perverseness of
Mind, to deny that to be natural, which has all
Now 1. That is Natural which is universal, or
2dly. Especially when we consider, that that is most natural which is born and bred with us, and is the Original State of Human Nature; for Nature is before Art, and before the voluntary Corruptions and Degeneracy of Nature. This Atheists see and confess, and therefore attribute the Belief of a God, and the Checks of Conscience, and the Fears of Judgment, to Education; that these Principles were instilled into us from the beginning, and grow up with us into confirmed and fetled
Prejudices; and I readily grant, that Education
and that they do,
3dly. Another Mark of what is natural is, That it is absolutely inseperable from Nature, or at least not without extream difficulty and violence ; and this proves the Hopes and Fears of good and bad men to be very natural : For how impoflible it is to conquer these Fears, I appeal to your own Sense and Experience : As many bad men as there are who would be ve.
ry glad to get rid of these Fears, and to laugh them out of the
World, there are but very few that can do it. Some men indeed stifle their Consciences, and lay them asleep by the various Arts of Superstition, whereby they hope to appease God, and to keep their Sins ftill ; or by the deceitful Vows and Promises of Repenting before they dye, or by perpetual Businessand Entertainments, which employ their Thoughts, and keep off all melancholy Reflections; or by such perpetual Debaucheries as stupifie their Minds, and make them insensible ; now these Mens Fears are filenced for a while, but not conquered ; whatever makes them refleå upon themselves, and consider their own State, awakens their Fears again, and makes them more outragious and tormenting than ever. The Atheist is certainly so far in the right, that there is no way to get rid of these Fears, but by banishing the Belief of a God, and of another World, out of their Minds: But few Men can do this, and Atheists themselves, when they have impudently enough derided the Superstition of the rest of the World, and think they can answer all the Arguments for the Being of a God, and a Future State, yet cannot wholly deliver their Minds from these Fears; they ever and anon recur upon them, and after all their pretended Assurance and Confidence, they are very jealous what may be, and many times some cross Accidents and Events, or the Approach of Death opens their Eyes, and makes them acknowledge a God, and tremble at the thoughts of Judgment, which they had so long despised.