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pretend to profefs, and which has funk the Practice of all Moral Virtues into the low Ebb wherein it now is.
HOW weak all thefe Attempts are to ftifle Confcience, there needs no other Proof than the Death of many profeffed Infidels; who finding the Reflections of their guilty Minds too strong for all their Vice and Infidelity, are at last forced into the dernier Refort of becoming their own Executioners fome in a filent Way, by Opium and Poison; others by more violent Ways: And were there an exa&t Account taken of thefe Executions, there is Reason to think, that there have been more Self-murders within thefe laft thirty Years (fince Infidelity is become fo fashionable) than were in many Ages before.
WHILE Men continue in their Infidelity, it is not to be thought that any Book of Devotion can be entertained with the least Regard: But whenever it shall please Divine Mercy to awaken any of them from their fatal Phrenzy, they may find fuch Reprefentations in the Book of PSALMS and the Gofpel, of the Divine Mercy, as may give them Hope of Pardon. Of this, there is a famous Inftance in the Cafe of the Earl of Rochester, whofe Wit and Parts were much fuperior to any of the modern Infidels; and whofe Repentance was as remarkable, as his Vice and Prophanenefs had been before.
BESIDES thefe, there are another fort of Men, who have entertained fuch elated Opinions of the Self-fufficiency of their own Reason, and think themselves fo rich in the Plenitude of their own Understanding, that they need no fuperior Influence; and therefore entertain Notions of a Devotion most agreeable to their fanfied Self-fufficiency.
IT's to be own'd, that from the Labours of thefe Men, have fprung many elegant Tracts of Morality. But alas! these are like Prometheus's Attempt to form a human Body, which, after he had fashioned with great Skill, he found all his Labour in vain, fince he ftill wanted a Flame from Heaven to animate it.
IT is much to be lamented, that Men, under pretence of decrying Enthusiasm, have in a manner funk all the Dependence upon the Influences of the Divine Spirit, and have thereby fapped Chriftianity of its vital Powers, and reduc'd it below the Platonick Philofophy.
THE Lord Chief Juftice Hale, who was the most excellent Man that ever the Profeffion of the Law was honoured with, bewailed this fome time before his Death, and foretold the fad Confequences it has produced.
THERE may be one farther Reason added for a Comparifon betwixt the Pfalms and the Epistles of St. Paul, that the Dif penfations towards the Royal Prophet and the Apostle, are very much alike: They both
were appointed to their high Offices by GoD himself; the one by an immediate Command, the other by a miraculous Vision from Heaven. The Royal Prophet expresses the Raptures of Joy and Delight that his Soul often felt in the Contemplation of the Divine Glory and Goodness: The great Apostle in an Ecftafy, being wrapped up to the third Heavens, heard Words, and felt Joys that were ineffable. And as there is a Parallel between them in their Enjoyments of these fublime Delights, fo is there alfo in their Complaints and Afflictions. The Royal Pfalmift cries out, that his Strength failed him because of his Iniquity; that the Enemies of his Soul were too ftrong for him; that his Soul was caft down within him, and become defolate. The Apostle complains of the Remainders of Sin, whereby when he would do Good, Evil was prefent; and therefore breaks out into this Exclamation, Ob! wretched Man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the Body of this Death? He feels the Buffetings of Satan, and earnestly prays to be delivered from them; complains that he was often caft down, though not forfaken. Both thefe infpired Perfons agree in their Reprefentations, that many are the Afflictions of the Righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of all. That the fevereft and moft hazardous of thefe, are thofe that are internal; arifing from the Conflicts with Sin, the Allurements of this World, and the Powers of Dark nefs.
HOW Believers are to be fupported under thefe Trials, is fully expreffed in the Book of Pfalms, and the many rich and precious Promises that are contained in the Gofpel, which are both the Anchor and Rock of immortal Souls, in their Paffage through this tempeftuous World, to the Regions of Celeftial Peace and Joy.
EVERY Thing that is called Great in this World, is furrounded with many Difficulties. To what Dangers and Pains have Men expofed themselves in all Ages, in the Acquifition of Power and Riches? And can we think that the Crown Immortal is to be obtained without contending with fome Dif ficulties ?
AS throughout the whole Scripture, the Happiness of Eternal Life, which is promised and prepared for the Godly, is fully reprefented; fo alfo are the Terrors and inexpreffible Torments of the Wicked plainly defcribed. And therefore the Apostle exhorts all to lay afide every Weight, and the Sin that dotb moft easily befet us; to run with Patience the Race that is fet before us, to fight the good Fight of Faith, to lay hold on eternal Life. For though we are to contend with many Difficulties, yet are we affured of an Almighty Affiftance, and thofe ftrong Confolations that are promised to thofe that fly for Refuge to the Hope fet before them, and the Promises in the Gofpel.
I AM fenfible there may be many Imperfections in this ESSAY; and that the fixing the Analogy between the PSALMS and other Parts of the Scripture may not be thought exact, according to the ftrict Rules of Criticifm, nor is it intended fo to be: But as the Scripture is in all Cafes the best Comment on it felf, and the prefent Age hath received fo great Benefit from the Labour of the Lord Bishop of Chefter, in his Chriftian Inftitutes, taken from the very Words of Scripture; it is to be hoped that fome Perfon of greater Capacity and Leifure, may be hereby induced to improve what is here only attempted.