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pretend to profess, and which has sunk the Practice of all Moral Virtues into the low Ebb wherein it now is.
HOW weak all these Attempts are to stifle Conscience, there needs no other Proof than the Death of many professed Infidels; who finding the Reflections of their guilty Minds too strong for all their Vice and Infidelity, are at last forced into the dernier Resort of becoming their own Executioners ; some in a silent Way, by Opium and Poison ; others by more violent Ways : And were there an exact Account taken of thefe Executions, there is Reason to think, that there have been more Self-murders within these last thirty Years (since Infidelity is become so 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 such Representations 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 Instance in the Case of the Earl of Rochester, whose Wit and Parts were much superior to any of the modern Infidels ; and whose Repentance was as remarkable, as his Vice and Prophaneness had been before.
BESIDES these, there are another fort of Men, who have entertained such elated Opinions of the Self-fufficiency of their own Reason, and think themselves so rich in the Plenitude of their own Understanding, that they need no superior Influence ; and therefore entertain Notions of a Devotion most agreeable to their fansied Self-sufficiency.
IT's to be own'd, that from the Labours of these Men, have sprung 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, lince be still 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 sunk all the Dependence upon the Influences of the Divine Spirit, and have thereby fapped Christianity of its vital Powers, and reduc'd it below the Platonick Philosophy.
THE Lord Chief Justice Hale, who was the most excellent Man that ever the Profefsion of the Law was honoured with, bewailed this some time before his Death, and foretold the fad Consequences it has produced.
THERE may be one farther Reason added for a Comparison betwixt the Psalms and the Epistles of St. Paul, that the Difpensations towards the Royal Prophet and the Apostle, are very much alike : Tbey 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 Ecstasy, 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 sublime Delights, so is there also in their Complaints and Amictions. The Royal Psalmist cries out, that his Strength failed him because of his Iniquity ; that the Encmies of his soul were too Ärong for him ; that his Soul was caft down within him, and become desolate. The Apostle complains of the Remainders of Sin, whereby when he would do Good, Evil was present; and therefore breaks out into this Exclamation, Ob! wretched Man that I am! Who Mall 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 cast down, though not forsaken. Both these inspired Persons agree in their Representations, that many are the Afflictions of the Righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of all. That the feverest and most hazardous of these, are those that are internal arising from the Conflicts with Sin, the Allurements of this world, and the Powers of Darkness.
HOW Believers are to be supported under these Trials, is fully expressed in the Book of Psalms, and the many rich and precious Promises that are contained in the Gospel, which are both the Anchor and Rock of immortal Souls, in their Passage through this tempestuous World, to the Regions of Celestial Peace and Joy.
EVERY Thing that is called Great in this World, is surrounded with many Difficulties. To what Dangers and Pains have Men exposed themselves in all Ages, in the Acquisition of Power and Riches? And can We think that the Crown Immortal is to be obtained without contending with some Dif, ficulties?
A S throughout the whole Scripture, the Happiness of Eternal Life, which is promised and prepared for the Godly, is fully represented; so also are the Terrors and inexpreffible Torments of the Wicked plainly described. And therefore the Apostle exhorts all to lay aside every Weight, and the Sin that dotb moft easily belet us ; to run with Patience the Race that is set before us, to fight the good Fight of Faith, to lay bold on eternal Life. For though we are to contend with many Difficulties, yet are we assured of an Almighty Allistance, and those strong Consolations that are promised to those that fly for Refuge to the Hope set before them, and the Promises in the Gospel.
I AM sensible 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 strict Rules of Criticism, nor is it intended fo to be : But as the Scripture is in all Cafes the best Comment on it felf, and the present Age hath received fo great Benefit from the Labour of the Lord Bishop of Chester, in his Christian InAitutes, taken from the very Words of Scripture ; it is to be hoped that some Person of greater Capacity and Leisure, may be hereby induced to improve what is here only attempted.