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case, and this last I find is the universal opinion, he is like to have few profelytes, beside those, who, from a sense of their vicious lives, require to be perpetually supplied by such amusements as this; which serve to flatter their wishes, and debase their understandings.

I know there are some who would fain have it, that this discourse was written by a club of free-thinkers, among whom the supposed author only came in for a share. But, sure, we cannot judge so meanly of any party, without affronting the dignity of mankind. If this be so, and if here be the product of all their quotas and contributions, we must needs allow, that freethinking is a most confined and limited talent. It is true indeed, the whole discourse seemeth to be a motly, inconsistent composition, made up of various shreds of equal fineness, although of different colours. It is a bundle of incoherent maxims and assertions, that frequently de., stroy one another. · But still there is the fame flatness of thought and stile; the fame weak advances towards wit and raillery; the same petulancy and pertness

of spirit; the same train of superficial seading; the same thread of thread-bare quotations : the fame affectation of forming general rules upon false and scanty premises. And, lastly, the fame rapid venom sprinkled over the whole; which, like the dying impotent bite of a trodden benumbed snake, may be nauseous and offensive, but cannot be very dangerous.

And, indeed, I am so far from thinking this libel to be born of several fathers, that it hath been the wonder of several others, as well as myself; how it was possible for any man, who appeareth to have gone

the common circle of academical education; who hath taken so universal a liberty, and hath so entirely laid aside all regards, not only of Christianity, but common truth and justice; one who is dead to all sense of shame, and seemeth to be past the getting or losing a reputation, should, with so many advantages, and upon so unlimited a subject, come out with so poor, fo jejune a production. Should we pity or be amazed at so perverse a talent, which, instead of qualifying an author to give a new turn to old matter, disposeth him quite contrary to talk in an old beaten trivial manner upon topics wholely new.


To make so many fallies into pedantry without a call, upon a subject the most alien, and in the very moments he is declaiming against it, and in an age too, where it is so violently exploded, especially among those readers he proposeth to entertain.

I know it will be said, that this is only to talk in the common style of an answerer ; but I have not so little policy. If there were any hope of reputation or merit from such victory, I should be apt like others to cry up the courage and conduct of an enemy. Whereas to detect the weakness, the malice, the fophiftry, the falfhood, the ignorance of such a writer, requireth little more than to rank his perfections in such an order, and place them in such a light, that the commonest reader may form a judgment of them. It may

ftill be a wonder how so heavy a book, written upon a subject in appearance so little instructive or diverting, should survive to three editions, and con

G3 sequently

fequently find a better reception than is usual with such bulky spiritless volumes; and this, in an age that pretendeth so foon to be nauseated with what is tedious and dull. To which I can only return, that, as burning a book by the common hangman, is a known expedient to make it fell: So, to write a book that deferveth such treatment, is another : And a third, perhaps as effcctual as either, is to ply an insipid, worthless tract with grave and lcarned answers, as Dr. Hicks, Dr. Potter, and Mr. Wilcn have done. Design and performances, however commendable, have glanced a reputation upon the piece; which oweth its life to the strength of those hands and weapons, that were raised to destroy it; like flinging a mountain upon a worm, which, instead of being bruised, by the advantage of its littleness, lodgeth under it unhurt. But neither is this all

. For the subject, as unpromising as it seemeth at first view, is no less than that of Lucretius, to free men's minds from the bondage of religion; and this not by little hints and by piecemeal, after the manner of those little atheistical tracts that steal into the world, but in a thorough wholesale manner; by making religion, church, christianity, with all their concomitants, a perfect contrivance of the civil power.


It is an imputation often charged on these fort of men, that, by their invectives against religion, they can possibly propose no other end than that of fortifying themselves and others against the reproaches of a vicious life; it being necessary for men of libertine practices to embrace libertine principles, or else they cannot act in consistence with any reason, or preserve any peace of mind. Whether such authors have this design, (whereof I think they have never gone about to acquit themselves) thus much is certain; that no other use is made of such writings: Neither did I ever hear this author's book justified by any person, either Whig or Tory, except such who are of that profligate character. And, I believe, whoever examineth it, will be of the same opinion; altho’indeed such wretches are so numerous, that it seemeth rather surprizing, why the book hath had no



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