Francis Atterbury.

Sermons and discourses on several subjects and occasions (Volume 2) online

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Theological Seminary,

PRINCETON, N. J.,.....w;C-r^^r^....^ Division . . J

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late Lord Bifliop of Rochester,

and Dean of Westminster,

Vol. II.
The Fourth Edition,


Printed for T. Woodward, at the Half-
Moon between the Two Temple-Gates, Fleet -
Street^ and C. D a v i s, in Pater-noJter-RQW.


^ f:::ihg]bt

'%-.,.. "^^ L G I G ix
THE ^•'•...


■^ H E following Sermon, preached
at Mr. Bennefs Funeral, was, foon
after it came out, refledled upon

with great Freedom, in a Letter,

diredted to Me from the Prefs ; and exhort-
ing me cither to defend, or retraEi the Doc-
trine * there delivered -, which is faid to have a L. p. 5.
offended many ferious under/landing Chriftians t. b l. p. 4.
I have the Happinefs, I thank God, to be
well acquainted with feveral Perfons of that
Charafter, to whofe Judgment (having great
Reafon to diftruft my own) I appeal'd on this
Occafion. They alTured me, that, upon a
deliberate Perufal of that Sermon, they faw
nothing in it which offended them ; or
which could, in their Opinion, juftly offend
any one, who believed a Future State of
Rewards and Punilhments. Nor have I,
after making what Enquiries I could on this
Head, met with any one Perfon, who care-
fully confidered my Do6trine, and yet judg-
ed differently of it. I might well there-
fore have fpared my felf the Trouble of re-
YoL. IL A 2 viewing

4 The "P RE F ACE.

viewing and Defending, what appears not to
me to have been blam*d by any IVife, or Good
Man : for, whether the Writer of the Letter
be fuch, till I know who he is, I may have
leave to doubt. All he fays of himfelf is, that
'l. p. 4. he is an Ohfcure Per/on^ y One, I fuppofe, he
means, that is in the Dark, and thinks it
proper to continue fo, that he may take ad-
vantage from thence to attack the Reputation
of others, without hazarding his own. There
may be fo me what of Wifdom, perhaps ; but
fure there is little of Goodnefs, or Fairnefs in
this Conduft. Several fuch Ohfaire Perfons as
thefe we have had of late, Who have infulted
Men of great Abilities and Worth, and taken
pleafure to pelt them, from their Coverts,
with little Objedlions. The ill Succefs of
their Attempts hath juftified their Prudence in
concealing themfelves.

Whoever my unknown Correfpondent be,
>• L. p. 5 . he prefles hard for an Anfwer '', and is fo
44> 45- earneft in that Point, that he would, I per-
ceive, be not a little difappointed, if he fhould
mifs of it. Namelefs Authors have no right'
to make fuch Demands. However, the Im-
portance of the Argument itfelf, the ferious
Air with which he hath treated of it, and
th^ folemn ProfefTions he makes of being a6led
c Ibid. ^y ^^ ^^^^^ Principle but a concern for Truth %
foon determined me to comply with his Ex-
hortations. And what follows therefore, was
drawn up not long after his Letter appear'd ;
though the Publication of it hath been delay-
ed by fome Accidents, with an Account of
which it is not neceffary to trouble the Reader.



After all, I fhall be looked upon, perhaps, as
writing rather too foon, than too late ; and
as p^iying too great a regard to an Attempt,
which was fo far flighted, that the worthy
Dean of Canterbury^ not long afterwards,
■preach'd the Doflrine, there oppos'd, before
her Majefty, and printed it by her Order ^ ■ See his
And in truth, there never was a Charge ^^'■'"°" f
maintain'd with fuch a fhew of Gravity and aw T'^*
Earneftnefs, which had a flighter Foundation 1 706. on
to fupport it. However, it may be of fome Matth. xi.
ufe, carefully to examine what this Writer ^'"P* '^*
hath faid, in order, by a remarkable Inflance, ^^' '^'
to fliew, how little Credit is due to Accufaci-
ons of this kind, when they come from fu-
fpedted ( that is, from Namelefs ) Pens ; and
how artfully the Mask of Religion may fome-
times be put on, to cover Defigns which
cannot be decently own'd.

That part of my Sermon to which the Let-
ter-Writer hath confin'd his Refledlions, con-
tains the Explication of an Argument^ which I
fuppofe employ 'd by the Apoftle, in the Text,
for xhtproofofa Future State. And I had rea-
fon therefore to hope, that what I ofFer*d on
this head, would be favourably received, and
candidly interpreted by all fuch as did in good
earneft believe fuch a State. And yet, to my
furprize, I have found One, who would be
thought ferioufly to entertain this Belief, en-
deavouring all he can to weaken an Argument
(and indeed the chief Argument drawn from
Reafon alone) by which it is upheld. I might
have expefted this Treatment indeed from the
Pen of fome Libertine, or difguis'd Unbe-
A 3 liever \

d The T RE FACE,

liever •, it being an ufual piece of Art, with
that fort of Men, to undermine the Authority
of Fundamental Truths, by pretending to
fhew, how weak and improper the Proofs are,
which their Affertors employ in the Defence of
them. But I did not, and could not expedl
fuch Ufage from a Writer, who every where

^L.-p. -^i. mfmuates, and in one Place % I think, pretty
plainly profejfes himfelf to be a fincere Chri-

^L.p. 4. ftian. His Concern for the Caufe of Religion^
would have appear'd to far greater Advantage,
had he employed himfelf rather in vindicating
fome of its great Principles, which are every
Day openly and daringly attacked from the
Prefs, than in lefTening the Force of what I
have urged in behalf of one of them. Had I
err'd in this Cafe, it had been a well meant
Miftake ; and might have pafs'd unobferved,
at a Time, when Infidelity finds fo much Em-
ployment of another kind for all thofe, who
have a real Concern for the Caufe of Religion.

Befides, Difcourfes on fuch Occafions, as
that on which I then preach'd, are feldom the
Produftions of Leifure -, and fhould always
therefore be read with thofe favourable Al-
lowances, which are made to hafty Compofures,
So the Dodlrine contain'd in them be but
wholfome and edifying, tho* there fhould be
a want of Exacflnefs, here and there, either
in the manner of Speaking, or Reafoning, it
may be overlook'd, or pardon'd.

When any Argument of great Importance,

is managed with that Warmth and Earneftnefs,

. which a ferious Convi(ftion of it generally in-

fpires, fomewhat may eafily efcape, even from

a wary

The T RE FACE. 7

a wary Pen, which will not bear the Teft of
a fevere Scrutiny. Facile ejl verhum aliquod ar-
dens notare, idque, rejlin^iis (ut ita dicam) ani-
morum incendiis^ irridere ; faid one of the befl
Writers in the World, who himfelf needed
this Excufe as feldom as any Man.

In particular, what I offered on that Occa-
fion towards the Proof of a Future State, de-
ferved to be the lefs rigorouQy examin'd, be-
caufe it was only by way of Intraduution to fome
fraWicalVo'mi-i^ which I chiefly defign'd to in-
fill on. I had not room in a few Pages, at the
Entrance of a fhort Difcourfe, to confider all
'Things on all Sides % to balance the fcveral Ad- * L. p. 25.
vantages and Difadvantagss that attend the
Pleafures of Men and Bsaits, Good Men and
Bad. I pretended not fully to State^ ^ much ^^L-p. 25.
lefs to Demonfirate^ the Truth conrain'd in the
Text, as I am falfly reprefented ^ to have done. ^ ^' P- 22,
Thofe are Words which I never once ufed j ^a^^o^^i.
Tior would the Task itfelf have been proper
at fuch a Time, and before fuch an Auditory,
My declared Intention was only to explain the
Apoftle's Argument '^^ to enlarge en it ' ; tojhezv ^ S. p. 4.
by feveral Inftances, the imdouhted Truth cfif^^ ^."^-P- '^•
to open and apply it s ; and this, by fuch Confi- g j^j^',^'
derations chiefly, as were in fome meafure ap-
plicable to ihtPerfon then to be interred. For
whoever gives himfelf the Trouble of revi::w-
ing that mean Difcourfe, will find, that as it
confifts of Three Parts ; a fpeculathve Point cf
Dooirine^ fome pra^ical RejieLlions^ and an Ac-
count of the Per/on deceas'd ; fo the two former
of thefe Points are handled with a regard to
the latter •, the Pra^ical RefieSliopi being all
A 4 of


of them fuch as are fuited to the CharaBer of
the Perfon^ which follows ; and the preceding
Do^rine being illuftrated in fuch a manner,
and by fuch Inftances, as naturally lead both
to the one and to the other : that part of the
Doflrine I particularly mean, which is profef-
* S. p. 6. fediy built on the Leiter of the Texl\ and the
exprefs Authority of the Apoftle.

It is no wonder, if in an Argument hand-
led thus briefly, and with fuch views as thefe,
every thing fhould not be faid, which may
be thought requifite to clear it. That, as it
was no part of my Intention, fo neither was it
neceflary, proper, or poflible on that Occa-
fion to be done : and therefore, for Omijfions
of this kind, I need make no Excufe. As to
the other Parts of the Charge, which, if true,
would really blemifti what I have written ; I
fhall, as I promis*d, reply to them very dif-
tin5lly and fully.

The Accufation of my Doflrine turns, I
find, upon three Heads ; That it is altogether
new^ utterly foreign from the Intention of the
jipoflky on whofe words I build it, andfalfe in
itfelf. A very heavy Charge ! nor Is the firft
part of it to be neglefted. For in Matters of
Morality and Religion, which are every one*s
Concern, and which have therefore been often
and thoroughly examined. New Doflrines, or
Arguments are defervedly fufpe

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Online LibraryFrancis AtterburySermons and discourses on several subjects and occasions (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 22)