THE Four Last Things: Viz.

  • DEATH,
  • JUDGMENT,
  • HEAVEN,
  • HELL,

Practically considered and applied, In Several DISCOURSES.

By William Bates, D. D.

Recommended as proper to be given at Funerals.

LONDON, Printed for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhil. 1691.

To the Right Honourable RACHEL Lady RVSSEL.

MADAM,

OF all Affairs for the compas­sing whereof Men are so di­ligent and sollicitous, there is none of that absolute necessity, and high importance, as the Preparation for Death and Judgment, and the immediate Consequences of them, Heaven and Hell, to obtain the one, and escape the other. This requires the whole Man in his best vi­gour, and should be the Work of the Day, but 'tis usually delayed till the melancholy Evening of Age, or the twi­light of Death. The Trifles of this World divert them from that main bu­siness, to which all other things should [Page] be subordinate. It equally deserves Wonder and Compassion, that Death which is so constantly in Mens view, should be so seldom the matter of their application, when all are of the same Glass, made of the same frail natural Principles; and no Argument is more fre­quently & pathetically urged upon them.

'Tis not strange that deep Truths, that by the strength and exercise of the mind are drawn like Gold out of the Mines, have no efficacy upon those that are not capable of understand­ing them: but the Doctrines of Death and Judgment, Heaven and Hell, are plain Truths, by Na­Natural, Moral, and Divine Evidence known to all; yet no more affect Men, than a Paradox of incredible Novelty. If the Doctrine of Eternal Judg­ment were but a probable Opinion, controverted with equal Arguments, yet 'tis a matter of such vast concern­ment, that Reason requires all our pos­sible [Page] diligence to avoid an eternal evil that may be, the loss of Celestial Glory, and the Torments of Hell: But since 'tis an infallible Truth, as certain as the Word of God, 'tis a Miracle to astonish Heaven and Earth, that Men live as carelesly as if they should never die, and die as securely as if they should not live in the next state, to re­ceive the just punishment of their Sins. They are fearless whilst Death is far off in their thoughts: and when Age has snowed upon their heads, that no Marks of decaying Nature should ap­pear, make their own Winter to flourish with anothers Spring. But 'tis in vain, for Death knows them under their disguise, and will not stay beyond the appointed time. And in that deci­sive hour, Infidelity or Presumption hardens Men to pass as quietly and boldly in appearance into another world, as unfeigned Faith, and a regular lively Hope in the Promises of the Gospel. [Page] But as deceitful Physick stops the Fit for the present, that will return more violently and fatally afterwards▪ So a counterfeit short Peace transmits them to everlasting Sorrows.

The design of the following DIS­COURSE is to awaken Men, that they may be wise and consider their lat­ter end: to secure an interest in our Redeemer, who has disarmed Death of its Sting, and made that Enemy our Friend: and to practise dying every day, by withdrawing their hearts from the vanities of this transient World, that have such a pernicious influence to excite the carnal Appetites, and stupify the Conscience, which are the true causes of their sin and Misery. And what can be more powerful to render them temperate and sober in the use of present things, vigilant and serious in their preparations for their great and final Change, than the remembrance that Death is immediately attended [Page] with Judgment, and Judgment with Blessedness or Misery for ever. I know this Argument is naturally dis­pleasing, but the usefulness should re­commend it to our most solemn and com­posed thoughts, before all the vain en­tertainments of the Fancy and sensual Affections. As Herbs of Medicinal virtue, that are not pleasing to the sight or smell, yet are valued by the Skilful as treasures of Health; and preferr'd before the fairest Flowers that are per­fum'd and painted by Nature, so as to excel the richest lustre of Solo­mon's Glory.

The Body is in a continual Con­sumption, and no Art can long preserve it: but whilst the outward Man is irrecoverably declining and wasting, if the Inward Man be ascending and renewing to perfection, the advantage is incomparable. O how comfortable is it to a holy Believer in the parting hour to commit his Spirit into the hands [Page] of his Heavenly Father! (for thus he is authorized and encouraged by our Saviour's Example) and lay down the Flesh to rest in Hope: for Christ is the Guardian of the Grave, has the Keys of Death, and will revive the Bodies of his Saints incor­ruptible and immortal, the Copies of his own glorious Body.

The immediate Recompences of Eter­nal Judgment, Heaven and Hell, are worthy of our most attentive and appli­cative Thoughts, that we obtain the one, and escape the other. Heaven is the true Happiness of the reasonable Creature, and is the first and last in the order of things desireable; the first for its attractive Excellence, the last in its consummate Fruition. This may be certainly and perpetually enjoy­ed by all who sincerely and diligently seek it. If in the very different States of Life here, there were any uncapable of Eternal Life, or that have another [Page] Object for their last End, there might be some reason why they should be coldly af­fected towards Celestial Happiness, and to justify their sole pretentions to the Things of Time, wherein their Interests are confin'd: but the offer of Heaven regards all that upon God's Terms will accept of it. The most sensible ine­quality, that Riches, Dignity, or any temporal Accident makes between Men here, is so true a Nothing in compari­son of Eternal Glory, that it makes no difference of one from another as to the obtaining it. For this Reason it most nearly concerns every Person, First to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Righteousness thereof, as the only way to ascend to it.

The serious consideration of the ever­lasting Hell prepared for unreformed Sinners, is most necessary and useful, tho carnal Men are extreamly averse from thinking on that terrible Object. For this is the first Motive that turns [Page] Men from Sin to Holiness. The Joys of Heaven being Spiritual and Divine, have no attractive influence upon the carnal Affections, would never con­vert and reform any; but the Torment of Fire being most evident and vehe­ment to Sense, is strongly represented by the Imagination, and moves the Af­fections. How many by solemn and believing Thoughts of the unquencha­ble Fire, have felt the Miracle upon the three Children in the Furnace, re­newed in themselves, their strong Cords, the obstinate Habits of Sin burnt asun­der, and their Powers restor'd to the freedom of Duty, the blessed Liberty of Obedience. In this respect the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, that directs us in the Way to Blessedness.

Madam, I shall not attempt the celebrating your Ladiship's Vertues, that render you a bright Ornament of your Sex, and more truly Honourable than [Page] your Noble Descent and Alliance: but direct my best Desires to God, that your Family may be a singular and e­minent Example of the Divine Favour: that the fading Gloss of this World may not deceive you, but your Heart may be above, where your Treasure is; that you may live to God and your Soul, for Heaven and Eternity. I am,

Madam,
Your Honour's very humble and faithful Servant, WILLIAM BATES.

The Bookseller's Advertisement.

THE Four Last Things, Death and Judg­ment, Heaven and Hell, are Subjects of that great Importance, and so nearly concerns all Persons, that serious Discourses publish'd up­on them, deserve the Reader's best Attention and Application. And that they may be of more diffusive and general Benefit, it will be a proper Means, that (according to the Exam­ples of some pious Persons) Books treating of those solemn Arguments BE GIVEN AT FU­NERALS, AS A FUNERAL-LEGACY: When according to the observation of the wise Preacher, The Living lay to Heart their own Frailty, and are more receptive of Holy Coun­sels to prepare for their great Change from Time to Eternity, and would affect their Minds with the present Instance of Mortality, much better than Wine, Sweatmeats, Gloves or Rings, or unprofitable Talk, as is too usual at such Solemnities.

All serious practical Books are proper for this Design, which may be of any Price or Bigness: And if Bound in Black, with a Cypher of Mor­tality, will be very decent: And some Memo­rables of the Life of the Deceased (if desired) may be printed on a Leaf, or more, and bound with it. Several Books so bound, may be seen at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Ex­change in Cornhil.

B. A.

OF DEATH.

HEB. 2.15.

And deliver them, who through fear of Death were all their Life-time sub­ject to Bondage.

IN the first Chapter of this Epistle, the Proofs of the Eternal Deity of Christ are produced with that evidence of Scripture-Light, that only a vailed Heart, obstinate Infidelity can resist. The Medium which the inspired Pen­man makes use of, is, the comparing [Page 2] him with the Angels, the most noble Flower of the Creation, and shewing that he is infinitely dignified above them. This he does by a strong con­nexion of Arguments: First, By his Title that is divinely high and peculiar to himself. He is declared by the Te­stimony of the eternal Father to be his Son, Ver. 4, 5. in the most proper and sublime sense: begotten of him, and therefore having the same essential Perfections of the Godhead in their uncreated Glory. But the Angels are not dignified with this Name in any Places of Scripture, where the Excellency of the Angels is in the fullest Terms expressed. And that this Name is taken from his Na­ture, is clearly proved: because Ado­ration is due to him upon this account, even from the Angels of the highest Order.Ver. 6. When he bringeth in the first-begotten into the World, he saith, And let all the Angels of God worship him.

Divine Worship is a Prerogative in­separably annex'd to the Deity, both upon the account of the supream Ex­cellencies of the Nature of God, and his Relation to Angels and Men as Cre­ator and Preserver, the Fountain of their Being and Happiness. This with­out [Page 3] the most open defiance of his Au­thority, cannot be given to a meer Creature;Deut. 6.13. & 10.20. and by the Command of God himself is to be performed as a Respect due to the filial Godhead. The Argument proceeds from the Name to the Offices. Of the Angels he saith, Ver. 7. Who maketh his Angels Spirits, and his Ministers a flame of Fire. They are the prime Instruments of his Provi­dence, most zealous and active to ac­complish his Pleasure. But the Son is God, not by Analogy and Deputation as Princes are, nor with a limitation and diminution, as Moses was made a God to Pharaoh, but absolutely and re­ally as subsisting in the Divine Nature: And consequently he is the Supreme King, and to him the Ensigns of Ma­jesty divinely Royal are ascribed: But unto the Son he saith, Thy Throne, Ver. 8. O God, is for ever and ever; a Scepter of Righteousness is the Scepter of thy King­dom: Whereas the Scepters of Earthly Kings are often unrighteously manag'd, and their Thrones ruinously fall. There is a further Confirmation from his Works, that are divinely great and glo­rious, wherein no Creature has any share of Efficiency. The making of [Page 4] the World is ascribed to him. Thou, Lord, Ver. 10. in the beginning hast laid the Foun­dation of the Earth, and the Heavens are the Works of thy Hands.

The Divine Attributes, the peculiar Character of the Deity belong to him: Eternity and Immutability. The most solid parts of the visible Creation shall perish and be changed: but thou remainest, and art the same. His Life is an intire, uniform, unchangeable Perfection. His Glory and Felicity are in the same in­variable Tenor for ever possess'd by him. Lastly, the Son sits in that qua­lity at the right Hand of the Father, Ver. 13. in the Society of Empire, as equal to him in Power and Honour, commanding all in the visible and invisible World, most easily and irresistibly, tho gradually, subduing his Enemies to a consummate Victory. But the Angels, so nume­rous and powerful,Ver. 14. are ministring Spi­rits, employed for the defence and be­nefit of the Church.

From this summary account we may understand how firmly the Divinity of Christ is establish'd in the Scripture. For those Passages of the Prophets, that speak of the God of Israel as Creator, and the sole Object of Adoration, are [Page 5] directly referr'd to Jesus Christ. And the Name Jehovah, Psal. 97.9. the Majesty of which consists in its being incommuni­cable, is attributed to him. This is the Foundation upon which the whole Fa­brick of the Gospel is built. The Of­fice of Mediator in the Prophetical, Priestly, and Regal Administration is necessarily join'd with the Divinity of his Person. And the revelation of it from Heaven, is as clear as the Sun is visible in the Firmament. All the Difficulties in our conceiving this great Mystery of Godliness, are but like the Shadows that attend the Light. And all the heretical Subtilties to pervert the Sense of such plain and positive Texts, are as impertinent as impious.

This being establish'd, the Apostle proceeds to give an account of the Son of God's assuming the Humane Na­ture, and submitting to Sufferings and Death. This is a Divine Secret so mi­raculously strange, that the Contrivance was without the Compass of the An­gelical Minds, and the discovery of it is only by supernatural Revelation; but when revealed, the account of it is so open and consentaneous to Reason, as being the most congruous Means for [Page 6] the illustration of God's Glory in the saving lost Men, that the humane Mind, if not deeply corrupted with the tincture of Prejudice, must consent to it as worthy of all Acceptation.

The substance of his reasoning is this, That it was the product of the most wise, merciful, and righteous Counsel of God, that the Saviour of Men should have Communion with them in their Nature, that he might have a Right to redeem them by his Al­liance and Propinquity: for he that sanctifies, Chap. 2.11. and they that are sanctified, are all one: and that he might undergo Sufferings, even to death, for the price of their Redemption, and the remedy of their Infirmities: Forasmuch as the Children are partakers of Flesh and Blood, he also likewise took part of the same, that through Death he might destroy him that had the Power of Death, that is the De­vil: And deliver them who through fear of Death, were all their Lives subject to Bondage.

The Devil is said to have the Power of Death.

1. Because he induces Men to com­mit Sin, that meritoriously renders them liable to Death. He tempted the [Page 7] first Man cum effectu, and was a Murder­er from the beginning.

2. In that he inspires them with fu­rious Thoughts, and inflames their Pas­sions, from whence proceed Strifes and Wars, that efficiently cause Death. He is supream in all the Arts of Mischief, and always intent upon Evil. 'Tis by his Instigation that Men become like raging Beasts, animated and bent on mutual Slaughter.

3. Because he is many times the Ex­ecutioner of God's Wrath, and inflicts Death upon rebellious and incorrigible Sinners. 'Tis recorded by the Psalmist, That God cast upon the Egyptians the fierceness of his Anger, Wrath, Psal. 78.49. Indigna­tion, and Trouble; by sending evil An­gels: Those Princes of the Air, the In­struments of the Thunder and fiery Storm of Hail that destroyed them.

4. Because he makes Death more formidable to Sinners, by heightning their guilty Fears of God's Tribunal. The false Spirit tempts Men to sin by many Blandishments, but afterward he is a severe Accuser of them to God, and to themselves.

Lastly, This Title may signify his tormenting Sinners with unrelenting [Page 8] Cruelty in Hell, which is the second Death.

Now these Evils being the penal Consequence of Sin, our Saviour by his Death appeas'd the injur'd Justice of God, and thereby destroyed the cru­el Tyranny of the Devil. As the Lamb of God, in the notion of a Sacrifice, he overcomes our spiritual Enemies. Sin, Satan and Death, lie vanquish'd at the foot of his Cross. Besides, our Savi­our having felt such Sorrows and Infir­mities as are usual to his People, by that correspondence and resemblance between them, is compassionately in­clin'd to relieve them.

I shall now insist upon the blessed Priviledg of Believers set down in the Text, viz.

That Jesus Christ by his Death frees his People from the servile tormenting fear of Death.

In prosecuting the Point, I shall, 1. Consider the Account the Scripture gives of Death's entrance into the World. 2. Shew what the fear of Death includes, and the Bondage con­sequent to it. 3. How the Death of [Page 9] Christ frees us from the thraldom of that Fear. 4. Who are partakers of this blessed Priviledg.

And then apply it.

I. The Scripture gives an account of Death's entrance into the World, in a threefold Respect.

1. As the Desert of Sin. 2. As the Effect of the divine Decree. 3. As the Sentence of the Law.

1. As the Desert of Sin. The first Design of the Creator was his own Glory in conjunction with the Happi­ness of Man. He was made accord­ingly holy in Perfection, placed in Pa­radise, and his State contained all the Ingredients of Felicity proper to his Nature. He was capable of dying, as sad Experience proves, yet no Accident from without, no Distemper from within had impair'd his Vigour, and made him actually subject to Death without Sin. Whilst innocent he was immortal, not from everlasting Princi­ples of Nature, but by Divine Preser­vation, of which the Tree of Life was the ordained Means and sacramental Pledg. For God unchangeably loves his [Page 10] own Image: and though by his Sove­reignty and absolute Power he may re­sume the Being he gives, yet his Good­ness and Covenant were a sacred assu­rance that Mans happy Life should run parallel with his perseverance in his Duty. This Immortality was not the singular Priviledg of Adam's Person, but had been the Inheritance of all his Progeny. But he soon revolting from his just Obedience, of Immortal be­came Mortal, and according to the ori­ginal Establishment of Propagation, transmitted his Nature with the guilt and poison of Sin to all his Posterity. Thus by one Man Sin entred into the World, Rom. 5.12. and Death by Sin, and so Death passed upon all Men, for that all have sin­ned. As his Obedience had been re­warded, so his Rebellion is punish'd in all that naturally descend from him. From hence it is, that so numerous a part of Mankind are cut off before the commission of actual Sin. Death en­ters into the Forge of Life, and de­stroys the Conception that newly began to live. And what is more righteous than that Man when he disobeyed the Author of Life, should forfeit his Life and Blessedness. The Soul voluntarily [Page 11] lost the spiritual Life by forsaking God,Anima volens perdidit vive­re, nolens ergo perdat & vivi­ficare. therefore unwillingly loses the natural Life by expulsion from the Body. The Apostle says, the Wages of Sin is Death, not only that of the Body,Rom. 6.23. but the Death of the Soul, which is a dreadful Con­comitant of it. And from hence we may discover the false Philosophy of the wisest Heathens in their Opinion of Death.Hac lege intra­verant, ut exi­irent. Senec. They judged it to be the pri­mary necessity and condition of Na­ture, fix'd by irresistible Fate: and not understanding the true and just reason of its coming into the World, they could not apply a sufficient Remedy against its Evil.

2. As the Effect of the divine Decree respecting Sin. This is discovered by Revelation in the Word of God, and by the real execution of it. It is ap­pointed to Men once to die. Heb. 9.27. This Decree is universal and unrepealable. One Ge­neration passeth away, Eccles. 1.4. and another Gene­ration cometh: like the ebbing and flow­ing of the Sea in its stated Periods. No­thing can interrupt or frustrate this Ap­pointment. There are divers Condi­tions of Men, and various ways of li­ving in the World; some are high in Dignity, others are level with the [Page 12] Earth: some walk in a Carpet-way smooth and easy, others in a thorny and troublesom: some walk on the gol­den Sands, others on the Mire: but the same uncontroulable necessity of dying involves all. And whatever the way be, whether pleasant or doleful, yet every one passes in it with equal Steps, measured by the same invariable spaces of Hours and Days, and arrive at the same common End of Life. Those who are regarded as visible Dei­ties amongst Men, that can by their Breath raise the Low, and depress the Lofty, that have the Lives of Millions in their Power; yet when the ordained Time is come, as they cannot bribe the accusing Conscience for a minute's Silence, so neither delay Death. I have said ye are Gods, but ye shall die like Men.

3. Death is to be considered as the Sentence of the Law. The reasonable Creature was made under a Law the Rule of his Actions. The moral Law directed him how to continue in his ho­ly and blessed State: To which was an­nex'd the Precept of not eating of the Tree of Knowledg of Good and Evil, only as a mark of his Subjection, and [Page 13] for the trial of his Obedience. This Precept had an infallible Sanction by the most high Law-giver: In the day thou eatest thereof, Gen. 2.17. thou shalt die the Death. Man did not keep this Com­mand of so easy Observation, and justly incurr'd its doom. As Sin is the viola­tion of the Law, so Death is the viola­tion of the Sinner in his Nature and Felicity retorted from the Law.

The Deaths of Men are very diffe­rent in their kinds; and are comprised in the words of David concerning Saul; The Lord shall smite him, or his Day shall come to die, 1 Sam. 26.10. or he shall descend into the Battel, and perish. Sometimes they are cut off by the immediate flaming Hand of God, for the more exemplary revenge of Sin; sometimes by surpri­sing Accidents; sometimes by bloody Contentions; sometimes by consuming Diseases. But though Death be not uniform, yet 'tis always the execution of the Law upon Offenders. As of those who are condemned by humane Justice, some suffer a more easy and ho­nourable Death, others a more dis­graceful and torturing; some are be­headed, others are crucified, yet all die as Malefactors. Thus some die a na­tural [Page 14] Death, others a violent; some by a gentle preparing Sickness without re­luctation, others die upon the Rack by sharp Pains: some die attended with their Friends, and all Supplies to sweet­en their Passage, others forsaken of all Comforters: yet Death is the same Sentence of the Law upon all Men. And this, if duly considered, makes it terrible in whatever shape it appears.

II. The next Thing to be considered is, What the fear of Death includes, and the Bondage that is consequent to it. This I shall explain and amplify, by considering four Things.

1. The nature of Fear in general, as applicable to the present Subject.

2. The particular Causes that render Death so fearful.

3. The degree of this Fear express'd by Bondage.

4. How it comes to pass that Men are not always under the actual fear of Death, but subject to the Revolutions of it all their Lives.

1. I will consider the nature of Fear in general, as applicable to the present Subject.

[Page 15]Fear is a Passion implanted in Nature, that causes a flight from an approach­ing Evil. Three things are requisite to qualify the Object, and make it fear­ful.

(1.) The Evil must be apprehended. Knowledg, or at least Suspicion, ex­cites Fear, by representing an Evil that is likely to seize upon us. Till the Mind discern the Danger, the Passions are unmoved: and imaginary Evils by the mere apprehension, are as strongly fear'd as real.

(2.) The Evil must be future. For the naked Theory of the most pernici­ous Evil does not wound the Soul, but the apprehension of falling under it. If Reason can open an Expedient to pre­vent an Evil, this Passion is quiet. And Fear precisely regards its Object as to come. Present Evils induce Grief and Sorrow: past Evils by reflection affect with Joy, and give a quicker relish to present Felicity. Approaching Evils alarm us with Fear.

(3.) The Evil must be apprehended as prevalent to make it fearful. For if by comparison we find our Strength su­perior, we either neglect the Evil for its levity, or determine to encounter [Page 16] it; and resistance is the proper effect of Anger, not of Fear. But when an impendent Evil is too hard for us, the Soul shrinks and recoils from it.

Now all these Qualifications that make an Object fearful, concur in Death.

1. 'Tis an Evil universally known. The frequent Funerals are a real de­monstration that speaks sensibly to our eyes, that Death reigns in the World. On every side Death is in our view, and the shadow of it darkens our brightest Days.

2. 'Tis certainly future. All the wretched Accidents of this Life, such as concern us in our Persons, Relations, Estates and Interests; a thousand Disa­sters that a jealous Fear and active Fan­cy will extend and amplify; as they may, so they may not happen to us. And from this mixture of contrary Pos­sibilities, from the uncertainty of event, Hope, that is an insinuating Passion, mix­es with Fear, and derives Comfort. For as sometimes a sudden Evil surpri­zes not forethought of; so often the E­vil that was sadly expected, never comes to pass. But what Man is he that lives, Psal. 89.4. and shall not see Death? Who is so vain as to please himself with an ima­gination [Page 17] of Immortality here? Though Men are distinguish'd in the condition of Living, yet all are equal in the ne­cessity of Dying. Humane Greatness in every kind, Nobility, Riches, Em­pire cannot protect from the sudden and Sovereign Hand of Death, that o­verthrows all. The most conspicuous difference in this World is between the Victorious, and the Vanquish'd pro­strate at their Feet: but Death makes them equal. Then the wretched Cap­tive shall upbraid the proud Conque­ror, Art thou become weak as we? Art thou become like us? The Expressions of Scripture concerning the frailty of Man are often literally and precisely verified: He is like the Grass, in the morning it flourishes and groweth up, in the evening it is cut down and withereth. Death is a prevalent insuperable Evil, hence the proverbial Expression, Strong as Death that subdues all, cruel as the Grave that spares none. 'Tis in vain to struggle with the pangs of Death. No Simples in Nature, no Compositions of Art, no Influence of the Stars, no Power of Angels, can support the dying Body, or retain the flitting Soul.Eccles. 8.8. There is no Man hath power over the Spirit to retain [Page 18] the Spirit; neither hath he power in the day of Death: and there is no discharge in that War. The Body sinks in the Conflict, and Death feeds on its prostrate Prey in the Grave.

2. I shall consider more particularly the Causes that render Death so fearful to Men: 1. In the apprehension of Nature. 2. In the apprehension of Conscience. 1. In the apprehension of Nature, Death hath this Name engra­ven in its forehead, Vltimum terribili­um, the Supreme of terrible things, up­on several accounts.

1. Because usually Sickness and Pains languishing or tormenting, make the first Changes in the Body, and the na­tural Death is violent. This Hezekiah complained of with a mournful accent, He will cut me off with pining Sickness: from day even to night thou wilt make an end of me. Isa. 38. I reckoned till morning, that as a Lion, so will he break all my Bones. A Troop of Diseases are the forerunners of this King of Terrors. There is a preceding Encounter, and sometimes very fierce, that Nature feels the cruel Victory before it yields to this Enemy. As a Ship that is tost by a mighty Tem­pest, and by the concussion of the Winds [Page 19] and Waves loses its Rudder and Masts, takes in water in every part, and gra­dually sinks into the Ocean: So in the shipwrack of Nature, the Body is so shaken and weakned by the violence of a Disease, that the Senses, the animal and vital Operations decline, and at last are extinguish'd in Death.

2. Death considered in the strictest propriety, as destructive of the natural Being, that is our first and most valua­ble Good in the order of Nature, is the just object of Fear. The Union be­tween Soul and Body is very intimate and dear, and like David and Jonathan they part unwillingly. Nature has a share in the best Men, and works as Nature. St. Paul declares, we would not be unclothed, not finally put off the Body, but have it glorified in conjun­ction with the Soul. Our blessed Sa­viour, without the least impeachment of the Rectitude and Perfection of his Nature, express'd an averseness from Death, and with submission to the di­vine Will desired a freedom from it. His Affections were holy and humane, and moved according to the quality of their Objects.

[Page 20]3. The natural Consequents of Death render it fearful. Life is the foundati­on of all natural Enjoyments; and the Loss of it induces the loss of all for e­ver. 'Tis from hence that such Evils that are consistent with Life, and de­prive us only of some particular Con­tent and Pleasure, are willingly chosen rather than Death. The forfeiture of Estate, the degrading from Honour, the confinement to a perpetual Prison, the banishing from our native Country, are less Penalties than Death.

There is a natural love of Society in Man, and Death removes from all. The Grave is a frightful Solitude. There is no Conversation in the Territories of Darkness. This also Hezekiah in his apprehensions of Death speaks of with Tears:Isa. 38.11. I shall see Man no more in the Land of the Living. Dies moritur in noctem, & tenebrisusque­quaque sepeli­tur; funestatur mundi honor, omnis substan­tia denigratur, sordent, si­lent, stupent cuncta: ubi (que) justitium est. Tertul. de Re­surrec. Car. As in the Night, the World is an universal Grave, all Things are in a dead Silence; Palaces, Courts of Justice, Temples, Theaters, Schools, and all Places of publick Con­versation are shut up: the Noise and Rumour that keeps Men in continual Observation and Action ceases. Thus when the Sun of this present Life is set, all the Affairs and Business, all the vain [Page 21] Joys of Company, Feasting, Dancing, Musick, Gaming, ceases. Every one among the Dead is confined to his sea­led obscure Cell, and is alone an enter­tainment for the Worms.

The Psalmist saith of Princes, Their Breath goeth forth, they return to the Earth, in that very day their Thoughts, their glorious compassing Thoughts, pe­rish. This the Historian observes was verified in Julius Cesar: After his assu­ming the Imperial Dignity, he thought to reduce the numerous Laws of the Romans into a few Volumes, compri­sing the Substance and Reason of all; to enrich and adorn the City of Rome, as was becoming the Regent of the World: to epitomise the Works of the most learned Grecians and Romans for the publick Benefit. And whilst he was designing and pursuing these,Talia agentem atque meditan­tem mors prae­venit. Sueton. and other vast and noble Things, Death sur­prised him, and broke off all his En­terprises.

At the terrible Gate that opens into Eternity, Men are stripp'd of all their Honours and Treasures, and as naked as they come into the World, go out of it. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, Psal. 49.16, 17. when the Glory of his House is increased. [Page 22] For when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his Glory shall not descend after him. Death equally vilifies, makes loathsom and ghastly the Bodies of Men, and reduces them to sordid Dust. In the Grave the As our Divine Poet expresses it. The brags of Life are but a nine days wonder; And after Death the Fumes that spring, From private Bodies make as big a Thunder, As those that rise from a huge King. Herbert. Dust is as precious and powerful of one as of another. Civil Di­stinctions are limited to the present time. The prodigi­ous Statue in Nebuhadnezzar's Vision, Dan. 2.32, 33, 34, 35. while it was upright, the Parts were really and visibly distinct: The Head was of fine Gold, the Breast and Arms of Silver, the Belly and Thighs of Brass, the Legs of Iron, the Feet part of Iron and part of Clay: but when the Stone cut out without hands, smote the Image upon the Feet, then was the Iron, the Clay, the Brass, the Silver, and the Gold, broken to pieces together, and be­came like the Chaff the Wind carries away. Who can distinguish between Royal Dust taken out of magnificent Tombs, and Plebean Dust from common Graves? Who can know who were rich, and who were poor; who had Power and Command, who were Vassals, who were remarkable by Fame, who by In­famy? [Page 23] They shall not say this is Jezebel: 2 Kings 9.37. not know this was the Daughter and Wife of a King. The King of Baby­lon, stiled Lucifer the bright Star of the Morning, that possess'd the first Em­pire in the World, was degraded by Death, humbled to the Grave, and ex­changed all his glorious State for Worms and Putrefaction.Isa. 14.11. The Worm is spread under thee, and the Worms cover thee. In short, Death separates Men from all their admired charming Vanities. Now considering Man merely in the Order of Nature, what Reflection is more fearful and tormenting, than the necessity, that cannot be over-ruled, of parting for ever with all the Delights of Life? Those who have ascended to the Throne, that are arrived at the height of Temporal Happiness, what a me­lancholy Prospect is before them of Death and the dark Grave? When all things conspire to make Men happy here, the sensitive Faculties and their Fruitions are ebbing and declining, till then sink into Death, the Whirlpool that will shortly swallow them up for ever. This renders the Thoughts of Mortality so frightful, and checks the freest enjoyments of carnal Pleasures.

[Page 24]2. Death is fearful in the apprehen­sion of Conscience, as 'tis the most sen­sible mark of God's Wrath, that is heavier than Death, and a Summons to give an account of all Things done in this Life, to the righteous Judg of the World.Heb. 9.27. 'Tis appointed to all Men once to die, and afterward the Judgment. The Penal Fear is more wounding to the Spirit than the Natural. When the awakened Sinner presently expects the Citation to appear before the Tribunal above, where no Excuses, no Suppli­cations, no Priviledges avail, where the Cause of eternal Life or Death must be decided, and the awards of Justice be immediately executed; O the Convul­sions and Agonies of Conscience in that hour! when the diseased Body cannot live, and the disconsolate Soul dare not die, what Anxieties surround it? This redoubles the Terrors of Death, that the first transmits to the second that was figured by it. O the dismal aspect of Death riding on a pale Horse, with Hell the black Attendant following. This Fear surprized the Sinners in Sion. Who a­mong us can dwell with devouring Fire? who among us can remain with everlasting burnings? This made a Heathen, the [Page 25] Governor of a Province, to tremble be­fore a poor Prisoner: While Paul dis­coursed of Righteousness, Temperance, Acts 24.25. and Judgment to come, Felix trembled. 'Tis a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the living God, who lives for ever, Heb. 10.31. and can punish for ever. None is so powerful as God, nothing so fearful as the guilty Conscience.

3. The Degrees of this Fear are ex­press'd by Bondage. This Passion when regular in its Object and Degree, is ex­cellently useful: 'tis a wise Counsellor and faithful Guardian, that plucks off the Mask from our Enemies, and keeps Reason vigilant and active to prevent a threatning Evil, or to sustain it in the best manner. 'Tis observable in the brute Creatures, that the Weak and Fearful are most subtile and ingenious to secure themselves, and supply the want of Strength with Artifice. But when Fear is inordinate, 'tis a tyran­nous Master, that vexes the weary Soul, and hinders its free and noble O­perations. Cesar chose rather to be ex­pos'd to sudden death,Praestat semel mori quam semper timere. than to be con­tinually harrass'd with fears how to a­void it. [...] from [...] The Greek word implies the binding of the Spirit, that causes an [Page 26] inward Slavery. And in the Apostle's Writings, [...]. Rom. 8.15. [...]. 2 Tim. 1.7. the Spirit of Fear, and the Spirit of Bondage, are equivalent. Ish­bosheth, when Abner provok'd by the Charge about Saul's Concubine, impe­riously threatned to translate the King­dom to David, was struck with such a fear, that he could not answer Abner a word, 2 Sam. 3.10, 11. The sudden Passion stifled his Reply, and reduc'd him to a defenceless Silence. Now the fear of Death, as 'tis remiss or vehe­ment, such are the degrees of Bondage from it.

1. It embitters the enjoyments of the present Life, and makes the most pro­sperous in the World, even in the ful­ness of their sufficiency, to be in straits. Though the Senses are pleased with the quick sweetness of Change from one Object to another, yet the Soul cannot have a delightful undisturbed Fruition, foreseeing that the stream of Pleasure will issue into the dead Sea. Truly Light is sweet, Eccles. 11.7. and 'tis a pleasant thing to be­hold the Sun. But how short is this Life with all its Pleasures, in compari­son of the Days of Darkness that fol­low. Now though 'tis our best Wis­dom and truest Liberty, to rejoice in [Page 27] this World as if we rejoiced not, and fre­quently to meditate on the cooling Do­ctrines of Death and Judgment, to re­press the transports of the voluptuous Appetite; yet since the Comforts of this Life are liberally indulged to us by the Love of God, to be the Motives of our grateful and affectionate Obedience, to sweeten our passage to Heaven, we may with tranquillity of Spirit make a pure and chearful use of them in his Service; and 'tis an oppressing bondage, when the disquieting anxious Fears of Death hinder our temperate enjoyment of his Favours and Blessings.

2. The fear of Death oppresses the Souls of Men under a miserable Bon­dage to the Devil; for his Dominion is maintain'd by the Allurements and Terrors of the World. Though Men do not explicitly acknowledg his Sove­raignty, yet by voluntary yielding to his pleasing Temptations, they are re­ally his Slaves. And the apprehension of temporal Evils, especially of Death, dress'd up in a frightful representation with its bloody Pomp,Prov. 29. is the strongest snare to the Soul. The Faint-hearted prove false-hearted in the time of trial: For the timerous Spirit being whol­ly [Page 28] intent how to avoid the incursion of a present Evil, forgets or neglects what is indispensably to be done, and thinks to find an excuse in the pretended ne­cessity. How many have been terrified from their clearest Duty and resolved Constancy? To escape Death, they have been guilty of the most insuffera­ble Impieties, by renouncing God their Maker and Saviour, and worshipping the Devils for Deities. Every Age pre­sents sad Spectacles of many that choose Iniquity rather than Affliction, Job 36.21. that re­linquish their Duty, and by wicked Compliances save their Lives and lose their Souls. Carnal Desires, and car­nal Fears, are the Chains of Hell that retain Men Satan's Captives. But what folly, what madness is it, for the avoid­ing the impotent fury of the Creature, to venture on the powerful Wrath of God, that exceeds all the Terrors that can be conceived by Fear? This ren­ders them more brutish than the Horse, that starting at his Shadow, springs over a desperate Precipice. The Fearful are excluded from Heaven, Rev. 21. and cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone for ever.

3. The extream fear of Death and Judgment, dejects and discourages the [Page 29] Soul from the use of means to prevent eternal Misery, and induces a most wo­ful Bondage. Fear anticipates and ex­asperates future Evils: for as Knowledg excites Fear, so Fear encreases Know­ledg, by the uncessant working of the Thoughts upon terrible Objects. The fearful Mind aggravates the foreseen E­vil, and distils the Poison from all the Circumstances and Consequences of it. And when the Evil is apprehended as insuperable and indeclinable, all endea­vours to escape are cut off. What a Philosopher observes of an Earthquake,Nullum malum sine effugio. Senec. compared with other destructive Evils, is true in this case. There may be a safe retreat from Fire, from Inundati­ons, from Storms, from War, from Pestilence, but an Earthquake astonish­es with so violent a perturbation, that stops our flight from the imminent Danger:Timor fugam perdidit. So the vehement impressions of Fear from the approaches of Death, and the severe executions upon the Sin­ner after it, distracts the Mind, and disables from flying from the Wrath to come. These Fears are more heavy by the suggestions of Satan, who repre­sents God so terrible in his Majesty, in­exorable in his Justice, and unchange­able [Page 30] in his Threatnings, that all Hopes of obtaining his Favour are lost. As the Egyptian Darkness was not meerly from the absence of the Sun, but from feculent Vapours condensing the Air▪ that it might be felt: So these dark and fearful expectations of the Divine Wrath are not only from the withdrawing the Light of God's Countenance, but from the Prince of Darkness that foul Spirit. And as we read of the Egyptians, that no Man arose from his place for three days; as if they had been buried in that Dark­ness, and deprived of all active Power and Motion: so the despairing Soul sits down mourning at the Gates of Death, totally disabled from prosecuting the Things that belong to its Peace. 'Tis Hope inspires and warms us with ala­crity, encourages our Endeavours: De­spair blunts our edg and industry. The Soul suffers the hardest Bondage, and the Condition is unexpressibly sad un­der the tyranny of this Fear. O how enthralled, how desolately miserable! Despair does meritoriously and effectu­ally ruin the Soul. For whereas there is no Attribute more Divine, no clearer Notion of the Deity than Love and Mercy; this Passion disparages his Mer­cy, [Page 31] as if Sin were more omnipotent, than his Power to pardon; and all the Tears that flow from it, are so far from expiating, that they encrease Guilt: and whereas the believing view of Christ would as compleatly and present­ly recover the Soul-wounded Sinner, as the Israelites were by looking to the or­dained visible Sign of their Salvation; Despair turns away the Eye from our Deliverer, and fixes it upon Misery as remediless and final.

4. How comes it to pass that Men are not always under the actual fear of Death, but subject to the revolutions of it all their Lives?

The Seeds of this Fear are hid in the guilty Breasts of Men, and at times, especially in their Calamities, break forth and kindle upon them. In their Leisure and Retirement, intercurrent thoughts of Death and Judgment sting them by fits, and make them uneasy. The flashes of Conscience, like moments of Lightning, startle them, but they relapse into their habitual stupidity. And the account of it will be clear, by considering the following Particulars.

1. Men are apt to flatter themselves with the hopes of long Life, and look [Page 32] upon Death at a great distance. Tho there be a dying disposition in the youngest and strongest Persons, though we live in a World of Casualties, and Death lie in ambush to surprize us eve­ry day, yet we are secure: because E­vils affect us according to their appre­hended nearness. A petty Constable that is troublesom and vexatious, is more fear'd by his Neighbours, than the Grand Signior with all his Executi­oners. As remote Objects, though of vast bigness, are lessen'd to our sight; so through the supposed interval of ma­ny years, Death is look'd on with a di­minution of its Terror. But when Death presents it self before Men ready to dispatch them, how formidable is its appearance! Saul though renowned for his Valour, yet when he understood by Revelation, that to morrow he and his Sons should be in the state of the Dead,1 Sam. 28. there was no strength in him; but he fell straitway all along on the Earth; struck through with fear before he was wounded by the Arrows of the Phili­stines. Belshazzar in the midst of his luxury and jolity, attended with a thou­sand Lords, Dan. 5.1, 2, 3, 4. and his Herd of Concubines, inflam'd with Wine, and therefore less [Page 33] capable of fear, yet upon the sight of the fatal Hand writing on the Wall a few unknown Characters, which his guilty Conscience (before the Prophet Daniel came) interpreted to be the Sentence of present Death, how fear­fully was his Countenance changed pale as a Carcass? How suddenly did his Blood congeal, and his warmest quick­est Spirits die in his Heart? His whole Body was seized by such a vehement trembling, that his Joints were loosed, and his knees smote one against another. This is a representation of those who bid defiance to Death at a distance; but when the fatal Hour is come, and they hear the Sentence decreed against them, God has numbred thy days, and finish'd them: thou art weighed in the ballance, (all thy Words and Actions, thy Thoughts and Affections) and art found wanting: and thy Soul shall be divided from thy Body, the one sent to Hell to suffer the undying Worm of Conscience, the other to the Grave, to be a Prey to the Worms of Corruption; how are they overcome with horror!

2. The continual succession of the Pleasures and Business of the World di­vert the Mind from the attentive strong [Page 34] contemplation of Death, and the Con­sequences of it. Pensive Thoughts are unwelcome, and we studiously endea­vour to cancel the memory of such things as afflict us. 'Tis said of the Wicked, that God is not in all their Thoughts. The consideration of the holy Inspector and Judg of their Acti­ons is tormenting, therefore they fill their Minds with earthly Imaginations, to exclude the Divine Presence. We read of those,Amos 6.3, 4. who to put far away the evil Day, chaunted to the sound of the Viol, and drank Wine in Bowls. They are rock'd asleep with the motion of phantastick Vanities. And Sleep takes away Fear, but gives no safety. 'Tis recorded of Marius, Aelian. that after his O­verthrow by Sylla, he was always in consternation, as if he heard the sound of the Trumpets, and the noise of the victorious Army pursuing him: And his Fears were no longer quiet than whilst charm'd with Wine and Sleep: he therefore was continually drunk, that he might forget himself, his Ene­my, and his Danger. Thus Men make a pitiful shift to forget their latter End: and whilst they are following either se­cular Affairs, or sensual Pleasures, are [Page 35] unconcerned for what is to be hereaf­ter. But this Diversion will shortly be at an end, for in their languishing hours, when the wasted Body fails the carnal Mind, and sensual Desires fail the Man, then Conscience that spoke with a low Voice before, is loud and terrible, and like the rigid Exactor in the Para­ble, that took his Debtor by the throat, requires them to pay what they owe.

3. Some are so hardned in Infidelity, that the Powers of the World to come make no Impression on their Hearts. They mind but little, and are less af­fected with invisible things. They for­tify themselves with gross Thoughts, that the Spirit of Man vanishes with his Breath, that Death is the end of this Life, and not the beginning of a­nother, and feed without Fear. Place one in the midst of destructive Evils, but unseen or not believed, and he is as fearless as a blind Person walking on the brink of a deep Pit. Indeed there are none less disturbed with the Terrors of Death, than the eminently Good, or the extremely Bad: for the one sort have a blessed Hope that Death will be to them an entrance into Life, and live like the Angels, with a Joy unspeakable [Page 36] and glorious. The others are as sensual and secure as the Beasts that perish, ha­ving extinguish'd the fear of eternal fu­ture Evils, which is the proper passion of Reason. The Apostle declares, That knowing the Terror of the Lord, 2 Cor. 5.11. we per­swade Men to be reconcil'd to him, before the Season of Mercy be expired. But those who have suppress'd the natural Notions of Eternal Judgment, as they think it beneath their Wisdom to be perswaded by the Promises of Heaven, so beneath their Courage to be terrified with the Threatnings of Hell, and tri­umph over the Ruines of Conscience. But though wicked Infidels slight the Threatnings, they shall not escape the Vengeance of God.

Heb. 11.We read of Noah, That being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, he prepared an Ark for the saving of his House. His Fear was the native issue of his Faith. But the pro­fane World, in whom Sense was pre­dominant, that despised the Oracle, and trembled at no Judgments but what were acting on the visible Stage, they ate and drank, married, and were given in marriage, till swept away by the un­feared Inundation. We read that Lot [Page 37] being certified by an embassy of An­gels, that a Deluge of Fire would in a few hours pour down from Heaven up­on Sodom, he most earnestly sollicited his Sons-in-Law, Arise, depart out of this Place, for the Lord will destroy this City: but they entertained his compas­sionate Advice with derision, he seemed to them as one that mocked, and were sur­prised by those fearful Flames that dis­patch'd them from a Temporal Hell to that which is Eternal. Thus 'twas prophesied, That in the last days there shall come Scoffers, walking after their own Lusts, and saying, Where is the Promise of his coming? But let them blaspheme and scorn the most sacred and terrible Truths, let them perpetuate their ex­cess of Riot, and wild Mirth while they live, Death will come, and Judg­ment as sure as Death.

III. I now come to shew how the Death of Christ frees us from the tor­menting fear of Death.

For the clearing this, we are to con­sider, that Sin, Satan and Death, are Enemies in combination against Man in his mortal State; and the destructive Power of Satan, and Death, is from [Page 38] Sin. When Man renounced his Crea­tor and natural Lord, he was judicially given up to Satan as the Executioner of Vengeance, and to the Power of Death. Such is the Order, rather the Confusion in the World by Sin. The Empire of Satan and Death is built on the Ruins of our Innocence.

Now the Son of God came from his Throne in Heaven to deliver us: And whereas there are two ways of obtain­ing freedom from Captivity, either by Ransom, or by Power and Rescue, in both respects our deliverance from Bon­dage to these Capital Enemies, is ascri­bed to the Death of Christ.

'Tis called our Ransom, and that in its strict Notion has a respect to Capti­vity. There is one God, and one Media­tor between God and Man, 1 Tim. 2.6. the Man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a Ransom for all. His Life was the full price of our Liberty and Salvation. God does not pardon Sin, and release from Punish­ment by a pure absolute Act of his Will and Authority, as a Creditor for­gives a Debtor; but in such a way as to preserve the Rights of Justice inviolate. Therefore when Man was devoted to Death, our Redeemer exchang'd Con­ditions [Page 39] with him, and offer'd up his precious Blood, as our Ransom to God,1 Pet. 1. in the quality of the King and Judg of all. Such was the Dignity of his Per­son, that the entire World, the Heavens and the Earth, with all their Inhabi­tants, are of less value to him, than the basest Dross to refined Gold. Such was the greatness of his Sufferings, [...] in which the highest degree of Obedience, and the lowest degree of Humility were conspicuous, as to be a valuable Com­pensation, to obtain eternal Redempt [...] for us.

Now when God the supreme Jud [...] satisfied, Satan forfeits the right he [...] to torment us, and is divested of h [...] Dominion over our Wills; which th [...] justly permitted, was an usurpation up­on God's Right in Man that can neve [...] be extinguish'd. 'Tis said by the Apo­stle, [...] that our Saviour blotting out the hand-writing of Ordinances that was a­gainst us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his Cross: He abolish'd the use of the Cere­monial Law, that was an Evidence and Enditement of their Guilt who performed it, and the Curse of the Mo­ral Law: It follows, and having spoil­ed [Page 40] Principalities and Powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Our Saviour died victoriously; the Tree of Infamy on which he suffer­ed, was the Trophy of his Conquest. His Death disarm'd Satan of his Wea­pons, whereby he subdued Us, Sin, the Law, and Death; for though his actu­al Triumph was in his Resurrection and Ascension to Glory, yet it is justly ascribed to his Death; for that merito­riously open'd the Grave at his Resur­rection, and Heaven at his Ascension.

And here by the way 'tis most wor­thy of observation, that our Delive­rance from our spiritual and most dead­ly Enemies is equally righteous, as ad­mirable and glorious: for our suffering Saviour appeas'd the Wrath of God, and broke the Powers of Darkness. The Wisdom and Love of God had their De­signs in his Death, as well as the Malice and Rage of Satan; as Lines, that are opposite in the Circumference, meet in the Centre.

And as from the Tyranny of Satan, so the Death of our Redeemer is our redemption from Death, as to the Curse and final Dominion of it; nay, has made it a blessed Advantage to us.

[Page 41]1. The Curse is removed. Death considered as the Wages of Sin, is all sting and poison, the consequent of the spiritual Death, and the introduction to eternal Death. 1 Cor. 15. The sting of Death is Sin, and the strength of Sin is the Law. Death hath its wounding Power from Sin, and Sin from the Law, that forbids it, that discovers its Nature, and enhanses the measure of its Guilt, and denounces condemnation for it. Now our Saviour having in our stead, subjected himself to Death, the penalty of the Law for Sin, There is no condem­nation to those that are in Christ Jesus. Christ hath redeemed us from the Curse of the Law, being made a Curse for us. Gal. 3. Death inflicted on the Saints, has not that re­lation to the guilt of Sin, as to be pro­perly satisfaction to revenging Justice. There are no petty payments to be made by our Sufferings after his com­pleat Satisfaction to God. The Lord laid on him the Iniquities of us all. Isa. 53.

'Tis indeed still a declaration of God's holy Displeasure against Sin, for that originally open'd the way of its coming into the World; and sometimes by the immaturity or manner of it, 'tis a cha­stisement upon good Men for Sin; that [Page 42] is, to make them renew their Repen­tance, and mortify their carnal Affecti­ons that fasten them to the World. For though after the last act of Expiration there is no place for Repentance; yet in the approaches of Death, the Soul is strongly excited by the Call of God to review its State, and make solemn pre­paration to be found of him in Peace. But 'tis not in a strict sense the maledi­ction and vengeance of the Law execu­ted upon them. The Serpent is turn'd into a Rod of Correction in the hands of our Heavenly Father for their good.Heb. 12. As the Apostle, speaking of some that for their profaning the Lord's Table, were fallen asleep, 1 Cor. 10.33. adds, that when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the World. Rev. 2. A Believer shall not be hurt of the second Death.

From hence it is, that in the Book of Life, the Scriptures, the Death of the Saints is called a Sleep. Saint Paul ar­gues,1 Thess. 4.14. If we believed that Jesus died and rose again; even so them also that sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. 'Tis observable how the Apostle varies the expression, Jesus died, and the Saints sleep in him: for he sustained Death [Page 43] with all its Terrors, that it might be a calm Sleep to his People.Annon longe gloriosius fuit, quandoquidem totum pro nobis agebatur, ut non modo passio corporis, sed etiam cordis affectio pro nobis faceret? Et quos vi­vificabat mors, nihilomi­nus & trepidatio robustos, & moestitia laetos & taedi­um alacres & turbatio qui­etos facecet, & desolatio consolatos? Bern. Serm. 1. de S. Andr. Isa. 57.1, 2. They enjoy as per­fect a Rest in the Beds of Dust, as ever in the softest Down. Stephen in the midst of a shower of Stones fell asleep. Believers die in Peace. The Righteous is taken from the E­vil to come; he enters into Peace. Being reconciled to God through the Blood of Christ, they are not terrified at his Call, but with sweet tranquillity resign their Souls un­to him. Lord, Luke 2. now let thy Servant de­part in Peace, for mine Eyes have seen thy Salvation. There is a vast differ­ence in God's account, between the Death of the Righteous and the Wick­ed. As the Tabernacle in the Wilder­ness was taken down with care upon their change of station, and delivered to the Levites charge, in order to the raising of it again with honour; but the House incurably infected with the Leprosy, was pluck'd down with vio­lence, and thrown into an unclean place with execration: Thus the death of the Saints is precious in the sight of the Lord, their Bodies are kept in the bosom of [Page 44] the Earth, to be raised in Glory; and the death of the Wicked is accurs'd. In short, as the Wood that Moses cast into the Waters of Marah, by a miraculous virtue sweetned them: so the Cross of Christ has taken away the malignity and bitterness of Death.

2. Death is a blessed Advantage, and enriching Gain to a Believer: it brings him to the possession of that Good that incomparably exceeds the Evil that re­mains in it. For the Death of a Saint is not total; but as in the Ceremony of Purification from Leprosy, one Bird was killed, and the other let fly in the open Air, the mysterious shadow of the Lepers being restored to a state of Li­berty: Thus when the Body dies and re­turns to the Earth, the Spirit returns to God, the Father of Spirits, and Fountain of Life. Our Saviour told the Jews, I am the living Bread that came down from Heaven: John 6.48. if any Man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever; and the Bread that I will give is my Flesh, that I will give for the Life of the World. The Heavenly Divine Life, that is communicated by the Spirit of Christ to Believers, re­mains entire when the sensitive Life is lost. The natural Order is, There is a [Page 45] time to be born, and a time to die: the supernatural is, there is a time to die, and a time to be born. The Death of a Saint is a Dies iste quem tu tanquam su­premum refor­midas, aeterni natalis est. Senec. new Birth; the pains of the dying Body are as Throws, where­by the ripen'd Soul is delivered into the Land of the Living. The happiness of a Saint after Death, more particularly will appear by considering;

1. The freedom he obtains from all afflicting Evils that are numberless here, and from Sin the worst in its nature, and the cause of all the rest. The pre­sent World is a Labyrinth of Thorns, in every state we meet with something to vex us. You may as well count the Waves of the Sea when inraged by a Tempest, as the Troubles to which in this mortal open state we are expos'd. Man that is born of a Woman, Job 14.1. is of few days, and full of Trouble. A short Life, and many Miseries. O our unhappy Capacity! the Body is liable to as many Diseases as there are Members;Tempus angu­statur ad vi­tam, dilatatur ad miseriam. and the Soul to as many Perplexities as Passions. How often are the Scenes and Habits chang'd in the time of one Man? He that lives in Pleasures, must act the Mourner's part. Our sweetest Comforts have hidden Stings: and whatever is [Page 46] most pleasing, may occasion bitter grief. And usually holy Men have a greater portion of Afflictions here: sometimes by the malignity and violence of the Wicked; as under the Law, the Lamb and the Dove were Sacrifices, the Em­blems of Innocence, and Purity, and Meekness, whilst the Vulture and the Lion, the greedy Devourers, escaped. This the Apostle declares of the Elect, They are predestinated to be conformed to the Image of God's Son, who trac'd out the Way to Heaven in his own Blood, and by the Cross ascended to the Throne. Sometimes more immediately Divine Providence afflicts them, to preserve their Spirits from the tainted Pleasures of the World, and for other holy Ends: but there is a Rest for the People of God in Heaven. Besides, there are Relicks of Sin in the best of the Saints here. Indeed Sin is depos'd from Sovereignty and Rule; the imperious Lusts are crucified, but not quite expir'd. As those that were nail'd to the Cross in their Hands and Feet, the parts least vital and most sensible, died a painful lingring Death. Still the Flesh lusts a­gainst the Spirit, and the Spirit against the Flesh. As there is a complexion of [Page 47] Humours in humane Bodies, always jarring when they are in the soundest Health; and where there is not this active contrariety, either the Body is without a Soul, a meer Carcass, or a glorified Body in Heaven. So where there is not this internal Combat be­tween Grace and Sin, either the Man is wholly Omnes homines aut sunt penitus caro, & nihil habent spiritus, ii sunt in­fideles sine regeneratione. Aut sunt tantum spiritus sine carne. Ii sunt sancti; qui jam in Coelo aeterna fruuntur pace sine pugna. Aut sunt partim spiritus, partim caro. Ii sunt om­nes renati per Spiritum Sanctum in Christo. Aug. cont. Jul. carnal, dead in Sins and Trespasses; or wholly spiritual, reigning in Heaven. And there is no­thing more works on the ten­der Affections of a Saint, than to find in himself what is dis­pleasing to God; that still he is under a sad necessity of sin­ning. What is said concern­ing an old Man wasted and decayed in his drooping Years, that the Grashopper is a burden to him, is true of the new Man in a Christian; the Sins that are counted light in the valuation of the World, are a heavy weight to him. Vain Thoughts, idle Words, irregular Passions, unprofitable Actions, are mo­tives of heart-breaking Sorrow. Now Death is to a Believer an universal Re­medy against all the Evils of this Life: it frees him from all Injuries and Suf­ferings, [Page 48] and from Sin in all its degrees, from all inclinations and temptations to it. He that is dead, ceaseth from Sin. Death is the Passage from this Wilder­ness to the true Canaan the Rest above, that flows with better Milk and Hony, with Innocence and Happiness for ever. There nothing can disturb the Peace, or corrupt the Purity of the Blessed.

3. Besides the privative advantage, the freedom from all the Effects of God's Displeasure, and the resentments of it, there is the highest positive Good obtained by Death; The Spirits of just Men are made perfect in Heaven. The Soul is the Glory of Man, and Grace is the Glory of the Soul, and both are then in their Exaltation. All the Fa­culties of the Soul are rais'd to the high­est degrees of Natural and Divine Per­fection. In this Life Grace renews the Faculties, but does not elevate them to their highest pitch: it does not make a mean Understanding pregnant, nor a frail Memory strong, nor a slow Tongue eloquent, but sanctifies them as they are. But when the Soul is releas'd from this dark Body of Earth, the Understanding is clear and quick, the Memory firm, the Will and Affe­ctions [Page 49] ardent and vigorous. And they are enrich'd with Divine Light, and Love, and Power, that makes them fit for the most noble and heavenly O­perations. The Lineaments of God's Image on the Soul are first drawn here, but then it receives his last Hand. All the Celestial Colours are added, to give the utmost life and lustre to it. Here we are advancing, but by Death we ar­rive at Perfection.

We shall in Heaven be join'd to the Assembly of Saints and Angels, our best Friends. Love is the Law of that Kingdom, and perfectly obeyed there. Now how charming is the Conversati­on of one that is wise and holy, especi­ally if the sweetness of Affability be in his Temper? How pleasantly does Time slide away in the company of our beloved Friends? We are not sensible of its flight. But what dear satisfacti­on is it to be united to that chosen con­secrated Society Above, who love one another as themselves? Though the An­gels and Saints have different degrees of Glory, yet every one is perfectly happy and pleased. As the strings of an Instrument differ in the size and sound; some are sharp and high, some [Page 50] grave and deep, others a mean, and from that variety results the Harmony and Musick, so that if every string had Judgment and Election, it would chuse to be what it is: so from the different degrees of Glory in Heaven, the most amiable and equal Order of the Divine Wisdom appears, that satisfies every one.

We shall be in the glorious Presence of God and Christ, where is fulness of Joy, and infinite Pleasures for ever. 'Tis said of Abraham, he rejoic'd to see the Day of Christ, two thousand Years be­fore his coming. When by Faith he saw the Incarnation of the Son of God, in order to the redemption of Men, it put him into an exstasy. Yet then our Saviour was born to Sorrows and Mise­ries. But how ravishing is the sight of our Redeemer, set down on the right Hand of the Majesty on high, having purged our Sins by himself, and accom­plish'd our Salvation? Now we are ab­sent from God, yet in believing his in­fallible Promises, we rejoice with a Joy unspeakable and glorious: But how much more joyful is the fruition of them? Here the Divine Goodness is derived to us through secondary means, that weak­en [Page 51] its efficacy, but in Heaven the Con­solations of the Creator are most purely dispensed, and his immediate Excel­lencies are made known.

This Blessedness exceeds all our Thoughts and explicite Desires, and re­quires the eloquence and experience of an Angel to set it forth. The bright Sum of it is this, We shall see God in his Glory, face to face, 1 Cor. 13. in the most per­fect manner: the sight of his Glory shall transform us into his Likeness; we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3. This shall produce in us the most pure and ardent Love; and Love shall be attended with inexpressible joy, and that with the highest Praises of the blessed God, whose influxive Presence is the Heaven of Heaven.

And that which crowns all is, that the Life above is Eternal. This satis­fies all our Desires, and excludes all our Fears: for Unchangeableness is an in­separable Attribute of perfect Felicity. The Blessed are in full Communion with God, the Fountain of Life, and Christ the Prince of Life. Because I live, saith our Saviour, ye shall live also. What can interrupt, much less put an end to the Happiness of the Saints? [Page 52] The Love of God is immutably fix'd upon them, and their Love upon him. Here their Love is subject to decays, and gradual alienations; as the Needle in the Compass, though it always has a tendency to the North-Pole, yet some­times it declines and has its variations. But in Heaven the Love of the Saints is directly and constantly set upon God. The Light of his Countenance governs all their Affections. 'Tis as impossible to divert their Desires from him, as to cause one that is inflam'd with Thirst, to leave a clear flowing Spring for a noisom Puddle. In short, Heaven is filled with eternal Hallelujahs: for there is no appearance of Sin, no sha­dow of Death there: all Miseries are vanish'd, and all that is desirable is possess'd by the Saints: the Circle of their Employment is to enjoy and praise the Divine Goodness for ever.

Now is not the blessed Exchange a Christian makes of the present Life, for that which is infinitely better, suffi­cient to make Death not fearful, nay desirable to him? The regular well-grounded hope of this will compose the Thoughts in the nearest Approach and [Page 53] Apprehension of Death: No other Principles or Resolutions are able to vanquish the Terrors of our last Ene­my. And this Happiness was pur­chas'd for us by the everlasting Trea­sure of our Saviour's Blood. The Sa­tisfaction of his Sufferings was merito­rious, as the Merits of his active Obe­dience was satisfying.

Before I proceed to the third Head, I shall resolve a Question, How it comes to pass, since Believers are freed from the Sting of Death, that they die, and remain in the State of Death for a time.

For this there are several Reasons.

1. By this means all the sinful Frail­ties that cleave to the Sains in this Life, are abolish'd.Rom. 8. The Body is dead because of Sin: And what is more becoming the wise and Holy Providence of God, than that as by Sin Man was at first made subject to Death, so by Death Sin dies entirely for ever. Thus as in Sampson's Riddle, Out of the De­vourer comes Meat; and our worst Enemy is conquer'd by his own Wea­pons.

2. Death is continued to the Saints, for the more eminent Exercise and Il­lustration of their Graces, for the Glo­ry [Page 54] of God, and in order to their future Reward. Poterat autem Christus etiam hoc donare creden­tibus, ut nec istius expe­ri [...]entur corporis mor­tem: sed si hoc fecisset carni quaedam foelicitas adderetur, minueretur fi­dei fortitudo. Quid enim magnum erat vivendo eos non m [...]i qui crederent se non morituros? Quanto est majus quanto fortius quanto laudabilius ita cre­dere, ut se speret moritu­rus sine fine victurum? Aug. de pecc. Mort. Lib. 2. Faith, and Love, and Patience, are declared in their most power­ful Operations in our Encoun­ter with Death. If every Saint were visibly and entire­ly translated to Heaven, after a short course of Holy Obedi­ence; if the Wicked did visi­bly drop down quick into Hell, Faith would be resigned to Sight here. This would confound the Militant State of the Church with the Triumphant. There­fore now Death happens to the Good as well as to the Wicked. In the next State they shall be separated by a vast Gulph, and an amazing Difference. Now Faith, whatever the kind of Death be that a Christian suffers, sees through the thickest Clouds of Disgrace and Misery, the glorious Issue. As the il­lustrious Confessor who was crucified with our Saviour, proclaim'd his Eter­nal Kingdom in the midst of insulting Infidels. And our Love to God then appears in its Radiancy and Vigour, when we are ready for the Testimony of his Truth, and advancing his Glo­ry, [Page 55] to suffer a violent Death: or when it comes in a gentler manner, for 'tis even then terrible to Nature, we are willingly subject to Dissolution, that we may be united to God in Heaven. And our Patience has never its perfect Work, and is truly victorious, till this last Enemy be subdued. Death is the Seal of our Constancy and Perseverance. Now the righteous Rewarder will crown none but those that strive law­fully, and are compleat Conquerors.Exercitia no­bis sunt non fu­nera, dant ani­mo fortitudi­nis gloriam: Contemptu mortis praepa­rant ad coro­nam. Cypr. de Mortal. And how wise and sweet is the Oeco­nomy of the Divine Providence in this, that the Frailty of our Nature should afford us a means of glorifying God, and of entitling our selves by his most gracious Promises to a blessed Re­ward?

3. Our Saviour by his unvaluable O­bedience and Sufferings, has procur'd for Believers a Celestial Divine Life, of which the natural Body is not capable. The Apostle saith, Flesh and Blood can­not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The exigencies and decays of the sensi­tive Nature require a continual Relief by Food and Sleep, and other material Supplies: but the Life above is wholly spiritual, and equal to that of the An­gels. [Page 56] Therefore till this earthly Ani­mal Body be reformed and purified, 'tis not capable of the Glory reserv'd in Heaven. This is so absolutely re­quisite, that those Believers, who are sound alive at the last Day, shall in the twinkling of an Eye be changed, that they may be qualified for it. Now herein the Wisdom of God is wonder­ful, that Death which by the Covenant of Works was the deserved Penalty of Sin, by the Covenant of Grace should be the Instrument of Immortality. That as Joseph by a surprising Circuit was brought from the Prison to the Principality; so a Believer by the Grave ascends to Heaven. This the Apostle in his Divine Disputation against Infi­dels, proves in a most convincing man­ner; Thou Fool, that which thou sowest, is not quickned except it die. As the rot­ting of the Corn in the Earth is ne­cessary to the reviving and springing of it up: so we must die, and the Image of the Earthly Adam be abolish'd, that we may be transformed into the Image of the Heavenly One.

And to the other part of the Questi­on, Why the Saints remain in the state of Death for a time? there is a clear [Page 57] Answer. The Resurrection of the Saints is delayed till Christ's coming to Judgment, partly for the Glory of his Appearance: For what an admirable Sight will it be, that the Saints of all Ages shall at once arise glorified and immortalized to attend upon our Savi­our in the last Act of his Regal Office, and then to make a triumphant Entry with him into Heaven: And partly, that the establish'd order of Providence may not be disturbed: for the changing of our Nature into Glory, in a suddain and inexplicable manner, cannot be without miraculous Power; and if eve­ry Believer presently after Death, were in his glorified Body translated to Hea­ven, the World would be always filled with Miracles, which were to cease after the sufficient Confirmation of the Gospel by them. But how long soever the Interval be to the Resurrection, it shall be with them that sleep in Jesus, as 'tis with those that awake out of a quiet natural Sleep, to whom the longest Night seems but as a Moment: so when the Saints first awake from Death, in the great Morning of the World, a thousand Years will seem no more to them than to God himself, but as one day.

[Page 58]I now come to prove the third thing, That our Saviour will abolish the Do­minion of Death over the Saints.

Whilst the Bodies of the Saints re­main in the Grave, they seem to be ab­solutely under the Power of Death. The World is a Golgotha, fill'd with the Monuments of its Victories. And it may be said to this our last Enemy, in the Words of the Prophet to the bloody King, Hast thou killed, and taken Possession? But we are assur'd by an in­fallible Word, that the Power of Death shall be abolish'd, and the Bodies of the Saints be reviv'd incorruptible and im­mortal.

The Resurrection is a Terra incognita to the wisest Heathens; a Doctrine pe­culiar to the Gospel: some Glimmer­ings they had of the Soul's Immortali­ty, without which all Vertue had been extinguish'd in the World, but no con­jecture of the reviving of the Body. But Reason assists Faith in this point, both as to the Will of God, and his Power for the performing it. I will glance upon the natural Reasons that induce the considering Mind to re­ceive this Doctrine, and more large­ly shew how the Resurrection of the [Page 59] Just is assured by our Redeemer.

1. The Divine Laws are the Rule of Duty to the entire Man, and not to the Soul only: and they are obeyed or violated by the Soul and Body in Con­junction. Therefore there must be a Resurrection of the Body, that the en­tire Person may be capable of Recom­pences in Judgment. The Soul de­signs, the Body executes: the Senses are the open Ports to admit Temptati­ons. Carnal Affections deprave the Soul, corrupt the Mind, and mislead it. The Love of Sin is founded in bo­no jucundo, in sensible Pleasures: and the Members are the Servants of Iniquity. The Heart is the Fountain of Prophane­ness, and the Tongue expresses it. And the Body is obsequious to the Holy Soul in doing or suffering for God; and de­nies its sensual Appetites and Satisfacti­ons in Compliance with Reason and Grace. The Members are the Instru­ments of Righteousness. It follows then there will be an universal Resur­rection, that the rewarding Goodness of God may appear in making the Bo­dies of his Servants gloriously happy with their Souls, and their Souls com­pleatly happy in Union with their Bo­dies, [Page 60] to which they have a natural In­clination, and his revenging Justice be manifest in punishing the Bodies of the Wicked with eternal Torments an­swerable to their Guilt.

And of the Possibility of the Resur­rection, the circular and continual Pro­duction of things in the World, is a clear Demonstration of the Power of God for that effect. There is a pregnant Instance that our Saviour and the Apo­stle made use of as an Image of the Resurrection: A Grain of Corn sowed in the Earth, corrupts and dies, and af­ter springs up entire: its Death is a disposition to Life. The Essays of God's Power in the Works of returning Nature, Flowers and Fruits in their season, instruct us how easily he can make those that are in the Dust to a­wake to Life. If the Art of Man, whose Power and Skill are very nar­row and limited, can refine Gold and Silver to such a Luster, as if their mat­ter were not Nomen terrae in igni reliquit. Tertul. Earth digged out of the Mines: If from black Cinders it can form Chrystal Glasses so clear and shi­ning, how much more can Omnipo­tency recompact our Dust, and reani­mate it with a glorious Life? Death [Page 61] that dissolves our vital Frame, does not abolish the matter of our Bodies: and though 'tis corrupted and changed by a thousand accidents, yet 'tis unperish­ing; and under whatsoever Colours and Figures it appears, God perfectly discerns, and will separate it for its proper use.

More particularly, I will shew how the Resurrection of Christ is an assu­rance of the Resurrection of Believers to Glory. As our Surety he was under the arrest of Death; it becoming the holy Majesty of God, and conducing to the ends of his Government, not to derogate from the dignity of his Law, but to lay the penalty upon his Son, who interposed for us. Now having finish'd the Work of our Redemption by his Sufferings, his Resurrection was the just consequent of his Passion. And 'tis observable that his Resurrection, tho one entire Act, is ascribed as to himself, so to his Father,Rom. 1.11. by whose consent and concurrence he rose again. Therefore 'tis said, Whom God raised up, having loosed the Pains of Death, Acts 2.24. since it was impossible he should be holden by it. 'Twas naturally impossible upon the account of the Divine Power inherent in his [Page 62] Person, and legally impossible, because Divine Justice required that he should be raised to Life; partly to vindicate his Innocence, for he was reputed, and suffered as a Malefactor, and princi­pally because he had fully satisfied God. Accordingly the Apostle declares, he died for our Sins, Rom. 4. and rose again for our Justification. Having paid our Debt, he was releas'd from the Grave, and the Discharge was most solemnly pub­lish'd to the World. 'Tis therefore said,Heb. 13. the God of Peace raised him from the Dead: the Act is most congruously ascribed unto God, invested with that Title, because his Power was exerted in that glorious Work, after he was reconciled by the Blood of the Covenant. Briefly, Our Saviour's Victory over Death was obtained by dying, his Tri­umph by rising again. He foil'd our common Enemy in his own Territories the Grave. His Death was a Counter-poison to Death it self: as a bruised Scorpion is a Qui sibi ipse pulcherrimum medicamen­tum. Celsus. noble Antidote against its Venom.

Indeed his Death is incomparably a greater Wonder than his Resurrection. For 'tis apparently more difficult that the Son of God, who originally posses­ses [Page 63] Immortality, should die, than that the humane Body united to him, should be raised to a glorious Life. It is more conceivable that God should communi­cate to the humane Nature some of his Divine Perfections, Impassibility, and Immortality, than that he should sub­mit to our lowest Infirmities, Suffer­ings, and Death.

Now the Resurrection of Christ is the argument and claim of our happy Resurrection. For God chose and ap­pointed him to be the Example and Principle from whom all Divine Bles­sings should be derived to us. Accord­ingly he tells his Disciples in a fore-ci­ted Scripture, Because I live, ye shall live also. Our Nature was rais'd in his Person, and in our Nature all Belie­vers: Therefore he is called the first-fruits of them that sleep; because as the first Fruits were a pledg and assurance of the following Harvest; and as from the condition of the first Fruits being offered to God, the whole Harvest was entitled to a Consecration; so our Sa­viour's Resurrection to the Life of Glo­ry is the earnest and assurance of ours. He is called the first-born among the Dead, and owns the Race of departed Belie­vers [Page 64] as his Brethren, who shall be re­stored to Life according to his Pattern. He is the Head, Believers are his Mem­bers, and therefore shall have Commu­nion with him in his Life. The effect is so infallible, that now they are said to be raised up together, Ephes. 2.6. and made to sit in heavenly Places in Christ Jesus. If his Victory over our Enemies had been im­perfect, and he had saved himself with difficulty and hazard, [as it were by Fire] in the Apostle's expression, our Redem­ption had not been accomplish'd: But his Passion was triumphant; and is it conceivable, that he should leave the Saints, his own by so many dear titles, under the power of Death? If Moses, the Deliverer of Israel from the Tyran­ny of Pharaoh, Exod. 10.26. would not suffer any thing of theirs, not an hoof to remain in the House of Bondage; Will our great Redeemer be less perfect in his Work? Shall our last Enemy always detain his Spoils, our Bodies, in the Grave? This would reflect upon his Love and Power. 'Tis recorded, to confirm our Hopes, how early his Pow­er was displayed in forcing the Grave to release its chained Captives: And many Bodies of Saints which slept arose, Mat. 27.52, 53. [Page 65] and came out of the Graves after his Re­surrection, and went into the holy City, and appeared unto many. What better Earnest can we have, that the strength of Death is broken? From what he has done to what he is able to do, the Con­sequence is clear. The Apostle tells us, He will raise our vile Bodies, Phil. 3.1. and change them like unto his glorious Body, by that Power whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. Our Redemption will then be compleat, Rom. 8.23. and all the bitterness of Death past. The Redemption of the Soul is accomplish'd from Sin and Misery immediately after Death: but the Redemption of the Body is the last in order, and reserved to crown our Fe­licity at the Great Day. Then Death shall be swallowed up in Victory, 1 Cor. 15. abolish'd for ever.

And O the joyful reunion of those dear Relatives after such a Divorce! when the Body that was so long detain­ed in the loathsome Grave,1 Cor. 15. shall be re­formed with all glorious Perfections, and be a fit Instrument for the Soul, and partaker with it in consummate Bles­sedness and Immortality. 'Tis said, that those that wear rich Clothing are in Kings Houses: but what are all the [Page 66] Robes of costly Folly wherein earthly Courtiers appear, to the Brightness and Beauty of the Spiritual Body where­with the Saints shall be clothed, to qua­lify them for the Presence of the King of Kings, and to be in his House for ever? But O the miserable Condition of the Wicked in that Day! Death now breaks their Bodies and Souls into an irreconcileable Enmity, and how sad will their Conjunction be! The Soul will accuse the Body to have been Sin's Solicitor, continually tempting to Sensualities: and the Body will upbraid more than ever it allured the Soul, for its wicked Compliance: Then the Sin­ner shall be an entire Sacrifice burning,Mark 9. but never consumed. Now from the assurance of a blessed Resurrection by Christ, the forementioned Fear of Death is conquered in Belie­vers. If the Doctrine of the Foelices errore suo quos ille timorum Maximus, haud urget leti metus, inde ruendi In ferrrum mens prona vi­ris, animae (que) capaces Mortis, & ignavum redi­turae parcere vitae. Lucan. Transmigration of Souls in­to Bodies (the invention of Pythagoras) inspired his Dis­ciples with that fiery vigour, as to encounter the most pre­sent and apparent Dangers, be­ing fearless to part with the Life that should be restored; how much more [Page 67] should a Christian with a holy Confi­dence receive Death, knowing that the Life of his Body shall not be finally lost, but renewed in a blessed Eternity?

The fourth General to be considered is, the Persons that have an Interest in this blessed Priviledg.

This Inquiry is of infinite moment, both for the awakning of the Secure, who vainly presume upon their Interest in the Salvation of the Gospel, and for the confirming and encouraging the Saints. And we have an infallible rule of trial declared by St. John; 1 John 5.12. He that hath the Son, hath Life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not Life. All the excellent and comfortable Benefits pro­cur'd by our Saviour are communicated only to those who are united to him. Particularly with respect to the pre­sent Subject: Justification, that great Blessing of the Gospel, the compleat Pardon of Sins, that disarms Death of its Sting, is not common to all that are Christians in title, but is a Priviledg with a limitation;Rom. 8.1. There is no Condem­nation to those that are in Christ Jesus, vitally as their Head, from whom are derived spiritual Influences, and judici­ally [Page 68] as their Advocate in Judgment; and such are described by this infallible Character, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit. The Blessedness after Death that is assured by a Voice from Heaven, is with this precise re­striction, exclusive of all others: Bles­sed are the Dead that die in the Lord; Revel. they rest from their Labours, and their Works follow them. The glorious Re­surrection at the last Day, when the Bodies of the Saints that now rest in Hope, shall be incorruptible and im­mortal, is the consequence of Union with him. Thus the Apostle declares; As in Adam all die, 1 Cor. 15.22. so in Christ shall all be made alive. As all that were natu­rally in and from Adam, the corrupt Fountain of Mankind, are under the sentence of Death; so all that are in Christ the Head of the Regenerate, shall partake of his blessed Life. O­thers shall be raised by his Power, as their Judg, but not as their Head: rais'd to be more miserable than Death can make them, not be transform'd in­to his glorious Resemblance; made ca­pable of suffering an ever-dying Death, not revived to eternal Life.

[Page 69]Now the Bond of our Union to Christ, is the Holy Spirit derived from him, as the Head of the Church, and is the inward, powerful and lasting Principle of Holiness, and new Obedi­ence in Believers.1 Cor. 6.17. He that is joined to the Lord, is one Spirit: that is, by the Spirit of Holiness has a real Participa­tion of his Life, is both quickned and united to him. John 6.36. When the Prophet Eli­sha by the outward applying the parts of his Body to the dead Child,2 Kings 4.34. in­spir'd Life into him, there was no real Union between them: but Christ is by his Spirit so intimately united to Belie­vers, that he lives in them, and they in him. Gal. 2.20. The sanctifying Spirit renews the directing and commanding Facul­ties, the Fountains of moral Actions; enlightens the Understanding with sa­ving Knowledg, rectifies the Obliquity of the Will, purifies the Affections, and reforms the Life; so that the same Mind is in Christians as was in Christ; and as his Conversation was, such is theirs in the World. This Divine Change is not wrought by natural Rea­son, though assisted by the most pow­erful Arguments. The Breath of a Man may as easily dispel a Mist, or [Page 70] thaw a Frost, as humane Directions and Motives to Vertue can renew the Mind and Heart, and produce a Holy frame of Soul towards God. Renew­ed Christians are said to be in the Spirit, illuminated, inclin'd and enabled by the Spirit to do God's Will; and the Spirit of God to dwell in them, by his peculiar and eminent Operations. They live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit. An Angel may assume a Body, and act by it: but the humane Soul enlivens it, and performs sensible Operations by it. And such a Principle is the Holy Spirit to the Soul, gives it spiritual Life, Activity and Power for good Works. By what Application of the Spirit's Power this is produc'd is mysterious and inexplicable: but as the Apostle speaks of his Rapture into the third Heavens, that he knew it was real, and heard unutterable things; though how it was performed, whether in the Body, or out of the Body, he could not tell: thus when a natural Man, the current of whose Thoughts and Affections, was to the things of this World, be­comes spiritual, when the carnal Ap­petite is subdued, and sanctified Rea­son has the Throne, when he feels such [Page 71] strong and sweet Impulsives to Holi­ness as engage the Will; when the Stream of his Desires ascend to the things above, and his Life becomes Ho­ly and Heavenly, he feels and knows this wonderful Change, though the manner how it was wrought he cannot tell. I will shew more fully this sancti­fying Work of the Spirit, that we may the better understand our State.

The Spirit of God is denominated by various Titles, the Spirit of Truth, John 15.26. the Spirit of Holiness, the Comforter, and represented by various Types,Rom. 1.4. by an Ointment that clarifies the Eye to see things aright, by cleansing refreshing Wa­ter, by purifying refining Fire, corre­spondent to his sacred Operations in the Soul.

As the Spirit of Truth, he illumi­nates the Understanding to see the Rea­lity and Excellency of supernatural and Heavenly things, of the great Mysteries of Godliness, of Eternal Glory; so that a Christian in his most deliberate, solemn and composed Thoughts, in his exactest Valuation infinitely prefers them before the gau­dy Vanities of this transient World. When the Eyes of the Mind are truly [Page 72] enlightned, present things appear, or rather disappear, as Shadows.

As the Spirit of Holiness he renews the Will and Affections, inspires the Soul with Divine and unutterable De­sires after the Favour and Grace of God, and communicates spiritual Pow­er for the Prosecution and obtaining those Desires.

The Holy Spirit raises such a Love to God, that habitually and strongly inclines the Soul to obey his Com­mands.

This is the most clear and essential Character of a Christian, the special and most excellent Property of a Saint, upon which all other Holy Qualificati­ons depend. As Reason is the first and chief Excellence of Man, from whence his other Perfections are derived, that distinguish him from the Brutes, and give him a natural and regular Pree­minence and Dominion over them, so that a Man is most properly defined a reasonable Creature. Thus the Love of God is the most Divine Grace, the true Form of Holiness, the Root from whence all other Vertues spring and flourish, and most peculiarly distin­guish a Saint from unregenerate Men, [Page 73] however adorn'd and accomplish'd; so that a Saint is most properly defined to be a Lover of God.

This is the Principle of true Holi­ness inherent in the Soul, and shining in the Conversation, that distinguishes the Sincerity of a Saint from the Art of Hypocrisy, an affected Appearance of Religion for carnal sordid respects: and from civil Vertue, that restrains from what is ignominious and disgraceful to our Reputation, and makes obnoxious to Penalties of the Laws, and excites to praise-worthy Actions, upon worldly Motives: and from Philosophical Mo­rality, that forbids Vice as contrary to Reason, and commends Vertue as the chief Ornament and Perfection of hu­mane Nature, without a Regard to please and glorify God.

And Divine Love is the Principle of universal Holiness. Love is called the fulfilling of the Law, as 'tis a compre­hensive Grace, and as it draws forth all the active Powers of the Soul to do God's Will in an exact manner. Uni­versal Obedience is the Exercise of Love in various Instances. As the Spouse in the Song of Solomon is trans­form'd in divers Representations; some­times [Page 74] as a Sister, sometimes as a War­riour, sometimes as the Keeper of a Vineyard, but she always acted as a Lover, and her chief business was to please her Beloved. This Allegorical Description of the Church, signifies that when the Soul is inflamed with the Love of God, that Affection will be active and discover it self in all it does or suffers in the Service of God. This will make a Christian very desi­rous and diligent to please God in all things, and careful not to displease him in any thing; for that is the inse­parable Effect of Love. The Felicity of the natural temper, and the force of Education, may cause a loathing of some Evils, and dispose to some good Works, but with a reserved delight in other Sins, and a secret Exception a­gainst other Duties. Servile Fear is a partial Principle, and causes an une­qual respect to the Divine Precepts: it restrains from Sins of greater Guilt, at which Conscience takes fire: it urges to some Duties, the neglect of which causes Disquiet: but the Love of God causes the Hatred of Sin; and there­fore 'tis against all Sin, not only to prevent the Exercise of it, but to era­dicate [Page 75] it out of the Soul. All the fear­ful consequences of Sin do not render it so odious to a gracious Spirit, as its own proper Idea and intrinsick Evil, as 'tis contrary to the holy Nature and Law of God. Love unites the Soul to God, and turns the Thoughts continu­ally to him: and the lively sense of his Majesty and Presence, who is so pure that he cannot behold Iniquity, causes an aversion from all that is displeasing to his Divine Eyes. And from hence it is that a zealous Lover of God is fre­quent and strict in reviewing his Heart and Ways, and upon the discovery of sinful failings, renews his Repentance, which is the exercise of Grief and Love, and renews his purposes of more care and circumspection for the future. Love aspires to be like God in all possi­ble degrees of Purity: for it inflames our Desires after his Favour, as that which is better than Life, and all the sweetest enjoyments of it, and Holiness is the powerful attractive of God's de­lightful Love to us.

Love is the Principle of free, inge­nuous, and joyful Obedience. 'Twas our Saviour's Meat and Drink to do the Will of his Father. For Love is the [Page 76] fountain of Pleasure, it moves the Soul with Election and Liberty, and makes every thing grateful that proceeds from it. Therefore the Apostle declares, that the Law is not made for a righteous Man; that is, as it is enforc'd by terri­ble penalties, to constrain rebellious Sinners to Obedience: for Love is an internal living Law in the Heart, and has an Imperial Power over his Actions. And this also distinguishes the renovati­on of one sanctified by the Spirit, from the imperfect Change that is made in the Unregenerate. They may stop the eruption of corrupt Nature, but are Swine that being wash'd, have an inclina­tion to wallow in the Mire: they may by strong impressions of Fear be urged to do many good things; but in this they are like a Bowl that is thrown with such violence, as controuls the drawing of the Bias, and makes it run contrary to it. But Love enclines the Soul to obey the holy Motions of the Spirit with facility: as the Wheels in Ezeki­el's Vision turned every way with readi­ness, as the Spirit moved them.

And with holy Love there is a spi­ritual Power communicated, that both the natural averseness and impotence [Page 77] to what is good may be healed. By the virtue of the sanctifying Spirit, the Soul that was dead, absolutely unable to perform spiritual and supernatural Acts, is revived to a kind of Omnipo­tence, it can do all things, required by the Evangelical Covenant, by the new Law that is in the hands of our merci­ful Mediator for Salvation. 'Tis true, there are relicks of Sin in the best, and the Flesh and Spirit are repugnant Prin­ciples warring against one another: but the holy Spirit will make no capi­tulation or composition with Sin, but is so predominant, that Sin is gradually subdued, and does not so freely and frequently break forth, as it does from the unrenewed. By the accession of his Strength we are enabled to mortify the Deeds of the Body, to crucify the Flesh with the Affections and Lust thereof: And to perform holy Duties with free­dom, alacrity and zeal, in such a man­ner as is acceptable to God. In short, saving Grace is distinguish'd from that which is common to the Unregenerate, by its prevalency and constancy. There may be a declination in the Saints tend­ing to a downfal; but the Seed of God, that supernatural Grace that remains in [Page 78] them, will by the Power of the holy Spirit recover the Supremacy. Others may be enlightned, and feel some good Motions, and transient Touches; as Saul had his rapture among the Pro­phets; but they are not truly, entirely, and perseveringly converted to God; they are not proof against the allure­ments or Terrors of the World. They make a fair Profession till they are tried by Temptations. Congealed drops of Water appear like solid Chrystal, till the warm beams of the Sun dissolve them, and discover the hypocrisy of the Chrystal. False Jewels may seem to have the lustre of Diamonds, till they are broke by a fall, and discovered to be Glass. Thus the Riches, the Ho­nours and Pleasures of the Flesh melt some, and temporal Evils break the Resolutions of others, and make it evi­dent they were not sincere Converts. But where the holy Spirit savingly works, he is said to dwell: he is not like a Passenger, or a Tenant at will, that neglects the House, and suffers it to fall into ruine, but as the Proprietary and Owner he keeps perpetual residence in true Christians, and by his continual Influence preserves them from final Apo­stacy.

[Page 79]Now from hence we may judg whe­ther we have an Interest in Christ and his Benefits. For the Apostle clearly tells us,Rom. 8.9. That if any Man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. By this sacred Signature, we are appropri­ated to Christ, and visibly distinguish­ed from the World. For though the se­cret and pure Influences of the Spirit in the Soul are only known to the Per­son that feels them, yet his active In­spirations are declarative of his Presence and Power in the outward Conversati­on. As the Wind that is of so thin and subtil a nature that 'tis invisible in it self, but we certainly know from what Point it blows by the course and way that the Ship makes: thus the Spirit of God, who is compared to the Wind, is discovered by an infallible Indicati­on, his Fruits and Effects in a holy Life. And those who have communion with Christ by his Spirit, have a share in his Victories, and may with confidence meet the last Enemy, Death: For we are assured, If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in us, Rom. 8.11. he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken our mortal Bodies, by the Spirit that dwelleth in us.

[Page 80]A preparative conformity to Christ in Grace, will be followed with a con­summate in Glory. But those who ne­ver felt the sanctifying efficacy of the Spirit in their Hearts and Lives, though they are Christians in profession, yet they have no other Union with Christ, than a dead Branch with a Tree that receives no sap and virtue from it; or an artificial Member joined to the Bo­dy, that may have the outward clothing and ornaments proper to that part, but derives no Life and Sense from it. Who­ever is in Christ is a new Creature. 2 Cor. 5.17. And only those who partake in the first Resur­rection from Sin, shall be exempted from the Power of the second Death, and up­on just grounds are freed from the Ter­rors of the first.

To apply this Point, let us,

1. Consider our dear Obligations to our blessed Saviour, who to free us from the sting and enslaving fear of Death, submitted to it with all its Terrors from God and wicked Men. He felt a Sadness to an Agony in his Soul, and suffered the equal extremities of Ignominy and Torment in his Body. The Favour of God was intercepted [Page 81] from him, that it may shine upon us in that gloomy hour. And all his terrible Sufferings, though foreknown by his enlightned Mind, could not weaken his determined Will to undergo them for us: But when Peter regarded with a more tender eye his Life than our Sal­vation, he was repell'd with indigna­tion: Unparallel'd Love! no less than Divine, transcending all the Instances of humane Affection. The highest kind and excess of Love amongst Men is to die for another, and the highest degree in that kind is to die to save an Enemy; and of this our Saviour is the singular Example: Love incomprehen­sible! it passes knowledg, and all under­standing but his who express'd it. His Love was equal to the heighth of his Glory from whence he descended, and the depth of his Sufferings that he su­stained in our stead. By washing us from our Sins in his Blood, Revel. 1. he makes us Kings, dignifies us with spiritual Sove­raignty over not only defiling, but di­sturbing Passions. The freest and most confident Sinner in the World, that re­bels against the Divine Laws without restraint, is a Slave not only under the [Page 82] Chains of his imperious Lusts, but in that he is liable to the scourgings of Conscience when ever awaken'd, and to the servile fear of Death every day. But the sincere Christian has a clear and sweet Peace, a blessed Tranquillity, from the tormenting apprehensions and fears of Death, that are the just conse­quents of Guilt.

Macti ingenio este Coeli inter­pretes, rerum­que naturae ca­paces, Argu­menti reperto­res, quo Deos hominesque vinxistis. Plin. lib. 2.One of the ancient Romans highly celebrates the Astronomers, who disco­ver'd the true Causes of the Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, and freed the World from the double darkness of Ig­norance and Fear; for before that Dis­covery, Men believed the obscuring of those great Lights were the fainting fits of Nature, and mortal Symptoms threatning an universal Calamity. But what Praise and Blessing is due to our Saviour, who hath given us infallible assurance that the Death of the Righte­ous is not, as the Heathen World ima­gin'd, an irreparable loss of Life, but a short eclipsing of this low and mean Light that is common to sensitive Crea­tures, to be restored more excellent and permanent in Heaven; where those Stars shine in the Divine Presence for [Page 83] ever? Thanks be to God which gives us the Victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. This should render him infinitely pre­cious to us, and inflame our Hearts with Desires equal to our Obligations to serve him.

2. Let us make it the main Business of our Lives to remove from our Souls the just Fears of Death. 'Tis one of the solemn Follies of the World to fear where there is no cause: As if a Senti­nel should mistake Gloworms in the Night for lighted Matches, and give a false Alarm: but 'tis a worse Folly, though pleasing, not to fear when there is the greatest Reason to excite it. And 'tis so in the present Case: for the most are without the Fear of Death, that should make them serious in pre­paring for it: nay, to maintain their Security, are as unwilling to hear Con­science declare the Wretchedness of their Condition with respect to Eterni­ty, as Ahab was the Prophet Micai­ah, who always foretold evil things to him.

'Twas the chief Design of the Phi­losophers, by Principles of Reason to fortify themselves against all frightful Accidents, and with a masculine Mind, [Page 84] with an Heart ardent, and with generous Spirits to Foelix qui potuit re­rum cognoscere causas: Atque metus mortis & inexorabile fatum Subjecit pedibus. Virgil. encoun­ter this inevitable Evil. When one of them was threatned by the Emperor Antigonus with present Death, he bold­ly replied, Threaten this to your disso­lute Courtiers that are softned and melted by sensual Pleasures, and easily receptive of terrible Impressions, not to a Philosopher to whom Death is con­temptible in any Appearance. This was a piece of affected Bravery; for Pagan Philosophy could never furnish them with Armor of Proof against the Dart of our last Enemy. But the Gospel assuring us that Death is an En­trance into Immortality, makes that to be the Reality of a Christian, that was a vain boast of the Philosophers.

Now that we may be establish'd in that blessed Tranquillity that Death cannot discompose, the following Di­rections are infinitely useful.

1. We must give all Diligence to be in a State of Reconciliation with God. The things requisit to that are, as the Apostle declares,Acts 20.21. Repentance towards God, and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance includes a Godly Sorrow [Page 85] for Sins past, with a Detestation and forsaking them sincerely, without Hy­pocrisy, and entirely, without Partia­lity in the Heart and Conversation. 'Tis call'd Repentance from dead Works: Heb. 6.1. the proper Name of our Sins, that de­serve Eternal Death. By Repentance we return to Obedience that is due to God our Maker and Lawgiver. Faith respects the Redeemer, who by his Blood shed on the Cross, and pleaded in Heaven, reconciles God to penitent Sinners. The Belief of his merciful and powerful Mediation for our Ac­ceptance and Pardon, Works by Love, and constrains us to dedicate our selves in a devoted Propriety to his Glory and Service,2 Cor. 5.14. and to live according to that Dedication. These two are ab­solutely necessary to the vital and salvi­fical State of a Christian. And as soon as a Person sincerely repents and be­lieves, he is justified before God; and, if he dies, will certainly obtain eternal Glory. This should be the early and most speedy Work of our Lives: for the Delay of Repentance, and Neglect of securing the Favour of God, arms Death with more Stings and Terrors.

[Page 86]The infinite Danger of this I will unfold, to awaken the Careless and Se­cure.

The Devil is a Sophister in Perfecti­on, and his ordinary and successful Ar­tifice to elude the force of present Con­viction, and wrap Men in Sin and Dam­nation, is to induce them to delay the great Work of the Soul till afterward. He is not so foolish to tell them, as he did our first Parents, Ye shall not die, for the Temptation is so palpable, that it could deceive none. Though the Evi­dence and Certainty of supernatural Truths, that disturb the Security of Sinners, is sometimes obscur'd by af­fected Doubts, yet there is no Artifice that can resist the full and strong Con­viction in Men, that Death is inevita­ble. Though Nature recoils from it with Abhorrence, yet this sad Truth is so visible, that it forces an Assent from all. Those who are titular Gods, the greatest Princes, are not so vain as to pretend to an Exemption by Priviledg from that fatal Necessity; they cannot fancy to be imbalm'd alive, and that Nature may be made incorruptible by Art: The Palace is as near the Grave as the Cottage: therefore the Devil [Page 87] cherishes in Men fond hopes of a long Life: As some optick Glasses deceive the Sight, and make a superficial Re­presentation in Colours on a Wall but two or three Steps distant, appear a long deep Gallery. Thus the Temp­ter by a dangerous Deceit presents to the Imagination the fatal term at a great Distance; and since he cannot lessen the Certainty of Death in Mens Belief, he removes the Image of it out of their Memories, to weaken the Im­pression that it is capable to make on their Affections: they dare not ven­ture to die, as they live, careless of Salvation, and unprepared for their Accounts with God; therefore they suspend the Workings of Conscience by a seeming Compliance; they re­solve at random to convert and reform hereafter, but will not determine at present to forsake their Sins. The Tempter insinuates, there will be a long Interval between the present time and the last hour, that shall decide their State for ever; that it will be a convenient season to prepare for the other World when they have done with this; as if Repentance were best at last, when there are no Temptations, [Page 88] and therefore no Danger of retracting it. And the Heart of Man is a great Flatterer, very subtile to deceive and ruin him with vain Resolutions of a devout Retirement, and becoming se­riously religious hereafter; and thus by an easy Permission he gratifies the pre­sent Desires of the Flesh, and goes in a Circuit from one Vanity to another, till Death surprize the Presumer. 'Tis very applicable to this purpose, what is related of Alcaeus the Poet,Athen. who from every season of the Year, took Arguments to give a new Title to his Intemperance; The Spring he said, required liberal drinking in Sign of Joy for the Renovation of Nature; the Summer to temper our Heat, and refresh our Thirst; 'twas due to Autumn that is dedicated to the Vintage; and Win­ter required it to expel the cold, that would congeal the Blood and Spirits. Thus he pleaded for the Allowance of his Excess. And so Men in the seve­ral Ages of Life, (that are correspon­dent to the Seasons of the Year) frame some Excuses to delay Repentance, and give some colour to their Rebellion against God, who commands us to hear his Voice to Day, obediently and im­mediately, [Page 89] upon no less Penalty than being excluded from his blessed Rest for ever:Heb 2.7, 8. Quis enim sa­tis explicet ver­bis, quantum mali sit non o­bedire tanto potestatis im­perio, & tanto tenenti suppli­cio? Yet the self-deceiving Sin­ner preaches another Gospel to him­self, and thinks the Vanities of Child­hood, the Pleasures of Youth, the Bu­siness of Middle-Age, and the Infir­mity of Old Age, are plausible Pre­tences to put off the serious Work of Repentance: O that such would duly consider the desperate Uncertainty up­on which Men build their Hopes of a future Repentance, and Divine Accep­tance.

1. Men delay Repentance upon the Presumption of a long Life: But what is more uncertain? 'Tis the Wisdom and Goodness of God to conceal in his impenetrable Counsels the time of our Sojourning here: For if Men, though liable to Death every hour, and there­fore should be under just Fear, lest it surprize them unprepar'd, yet against so strong a Curb, run with that exorbi­tant vehemence after the present World; how much more licentious would they be, if secured from sudden Death? But none can promise to himself one Day. Death comes not according to the order of Nature, but the Decree [Page 90] of God. How many in the Flower of their Youth and Strength thought themselves at as great a Distance from Death, as the East is from the West, when there was not the space of an Hour between them and Death, be­tween them and Hell? The Lamp sud­denly expires by a Blast of Wind, when there is plenty of Oil to feed it. The rich Man pleased himself with Designs of sensual Enjoyments for many years, yet did not see the dawning of the next Morning: Thou Fool, this Night shall thy Soul be required of thee. This Sentence is pronounced in Heaven against thousands that are now alive, conversant in the Vanities and Business of the World, Eating and Drinking, Playing and Trading, and all uncon­cerned as to dying, yet shall breath their last before to Morrow, and their unwilling Souls be rent from the Em­braces of their Bodies. In various man­ners Men die from inward and out­ward causes; an Apoplexy, an Im­posthume, a Flux of Rhume stopping Respiration, kills the Body without any presaging Signs of Death: As if the Roof and all the Chambers should fall within the House, while the Walls [Page 91] are standing entire: And how many unforeseen Accidens, and therefore in­evitable, put a sudden Period to Life? Is it not our truest Wisdom by an early Repentance to prepare for Death, when the Season is certainly short, and but uncertainly continued, and the Omissi­on is irreparable?

2. Suppose Life be continued, yet Sinners that delay Repentance, can have no rational hopes that they shall sincerely repent in time to come. For,

1st. Saving Repentance is the Gift of God: and is it likely that those who have been insensible of the loud and earnest Calls of the Word, inflexible to the gracious Methods of his Providence leading them to Repentance, should at last obtain Converting Grace? The Gales of the Spirit are very transient and blow where he pleases; and can it be ex­pected that those who have wilfully and often resisted him, should by an exuberant Favour receive afterwards more powerful Grace, to over-rule their stubborn Wills, and make them obedient? To expect Divine Grace and the powerful Workings of the Spirit, after long resisting his Holy Excitati­ons, [Page 92] is both unreasonable and unre­vealed. 'Tis written as with a Sun­beam, that God will graciously pardon repenting Sinners that reform their Lives, but 'tis no-where promised that he will give Saving-Repentance to those who securely continue in Sin,Nemo ergo si­bi promittat, quod evangeli­um non pro­mittit. Aug. upon a corrupt Confidence they will re­pent at last. Our Saviour threatens to him that neglects the improving the Grace that is offer'd, That which he hath shall be taken away: Yet Men unwilling at present to forsake their Sins of Plea­sure and Profit, vainly hope they shall obtain Grace hereafter, without any Promise from God, and against the Te­nor of his Threatnings. God has threatned that his Spirit shall not always strive with rebellious Sinners, and then their State is remediless. This may be the case of many in this Life, who are insensible of their Misery. As con­sumptive Persons decline by degrees, lose their Appetite, Colour, and Strength, till at last they are hopeless: So the Withdrawings of the Spirit are gradual, his Motions are not so strong nor frequent; and upon the continued Provocations of the Disobedient, final­ly leaves them under that most fearful [Page 93] doom, He that is filthy, let him be filthy still; He that is unrighteous, let him be unrighteous still: and thus punishes them on this side Hell, as he does the Damned, by giving them over to Sin. 'Tis a bloody Adventure for Men to in­dulge their carnal Appetites, as if they had infallible Assurance that they should not die in an impenitent State. The Delayer does not regularly trust, but tempt God.

2dly. Suppose the Holy Spirit be not totally withdrawn, yet by every Day's Continuance in Sin, the Heart is more hardned against the Impressions of Grace, more averse from returning to God, and Repentance more difficult and hazardous. The last guilty Dis­position that seals up the Damnation of Sinners is Impenitence. Now he that delays the returning to his Duty, shall have more cause to repent hereafter, but less Will and Power; for Sin re­peated, makes him more uncapable of Repentance, and that which is Indis­position, will become Averseness and Obstinacy. The Heart with Difficul­ty changes its last End. Actions may be suddenly chang'd, when there is a Disability to perform them; but the in­ward [Page 94] Inclinations to Sin, without super­natural renewing Grace, remain. 'Tis therefore the Subtilty of the old Serpent to make the Entrance of Sin easy: for he knows that Custom is a second Na­ture, and has a mighty Power in us: Can an Ethiopian change his Skin, or the Leopard change his Spots? then may you who are accustomed to do Evil, do good. If Sin in its Infancy can make such Re­sistance, that the Spirit of Grace is foil'd in his Motions to rescue the Soul from its Bondage, how much more when 'tis grown into a confirm'd Habit? There­fore the Apostle urges so zealously; To Day if you will hear his Voice, harden not your Hearts, lest any be hardned through the Deceitfulness of Sin.

3. How uncertain is it whether God will accept the Addresses of such at last? We are commanded, Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. The Limitation im­plies, if the Season be neglected, he will hide his Face for ever. Now in cases of great Moment and Hazard, what Diligence, what Caution should be used?

1st. Consider how derogatory it is to his Majesty, to offer to him the [Page 95] Dregs of our Age, the Reliques of a licentious careless Life, spent in the Works of Vanity. Is this to give Glo­ry to God? Jer. 13.16. Contempt provokes Superi­ours as much as actual Injuries: How vilifying is it of his excellent Greatness, that Men lavishly waste the best of their Time and Strength upon their Lusts, and when through Weakness of Age, or the Violence of a Disease, they can no more do the Acts of Sin, nor relish the Pleasures of Sin; to presume that God will upon their Prayers forgive their Sins so long indulg'd, and of such violent Provocations, and receive them into his Kingdom, as if he could not be happy without them, and it were his Interest to receive them? God has laid his Exceptions against such Ad­dresses: He may justly stand upon his Greatness and Honour: If ye offer the Blind for a Sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the Lame and Sick, is it not evil? Offer it now to thy Governour, will he be pleased with it, to accept thy Person, saith the Lord of Hosts? As the Lord upbraids the Jews for their black In­gratitude in barginning for thirty pieces of Silver, to have him betrayed to their Malice; a goodly Price that I [Page 96] was prized at of them. So when there is an universal Prostration of all the Powers and Faculties, when the Spi­rits are damp'd, the vital Heat is check'd, and the function of the senses is obstructed, then to seek to God for Mercy, and to make fair Promises of Obedience, he may justly reproach the Presumer, a goodly time you have a­lotted for me! Your Youth and Strength, the Golden Age of Life, has been wasted on your Lusts, and in the Business of the World; and the wretched re­mains you think worthy of my Ac­ceptance.

2dly. Consider what Sincerity or moral Value is in Religion that meerly proceeds from bitter Constraint? 'Tis a Rule in Law, Falsum est eam peperisse, cui mortuae filius extractus est: 'Tis not a natural Birth when the Child is ex­tracted from the dead Mother: 'Tis not genuine Piety that is extorted by the rack, whilst the Heart full of Re­luctancy does not truly consent: Pure Religion flows uncompell'd from Love to God; 'tis the Dregs that come forth with pressing. 'Tis observ'd of the Israelites, Psal 78.34, 36. that when God slew them, they sought him, and returned and enquired [Page 97] early after God. But 'tis added, Never­theless they did flatter him with their Mouths, and they lied to him with their Tongues; for their Hearts were not right with him, neither were they stedfast in his Covenant. How often does Experi­ence convince us of the Inefficacy of a Sickbed-Repentance? How many that were very devout and mournful with one Foot as it were in the Grave, and another in Hell, and were as a Brand pluck'd out of the Fire; yet when the Fear of Death is removed, all the Ter­rors of Conscience, the religious Affe­ctions that were felt and express'd by them, vanish as the Morning-Dew? Now converting Grace is distinguish'd by its radication and efficacy, not only from the mere Pretences of those who know their own Insincerity, but from the real Workings of Conscience, and the imperfect Dispositions to Good that are in the Unrenewed. And those Per­sons who with the return of Health, have returned to their Sins, if they had died with their religious Resolutions, would have presum'd, that their Repen­tance was unto Life, and of their Inte­rest in the Divine Mercy. The Heart [Page 98] is deceitful above all things, and above all things deceitful to it self. Besides, when Sinners are plunged in deep Di­stress, when the shadow of Death sits upon their Eye-lids, they may with plentiful effusions of Tears desire God to receive them to Heaven, not to see and praise his adorable Excellencies, not to please and glorify him for ever, but as a Sanctuary from revenging Justice, a Refuge from Hell. And will such Prayers prevail? What swells the Con­fidence of Sinners, but unworthy No­tions of God, as if a forc'd and formal Confession of their Sins could deceive his all-discerning Eye; and Desires merely terminated on themselves, were sufficient to reconcile his offended Ma­jesty?

3. There is nothing renders Men more unworthy of Mercy than conti­nuance in Sin, upon presumption of an easy Pardon at last. This is the most provoking Abuse of his Goodness and Long-suffering, Rom. 2. that should lead them unto Repentance. He can in the twink­ling of an eye, in the beating of a Pulse cut off the Sinner: 'tis as easy to his Power as to will it. And there is [Page 99] no Consideration should be so melting and moving as his Clemency. We read of David, that he had more than once in his power Saul his unjust and cruel Enemy, yet spared him: the effect of it was, that Saul was softened, and un­der such compunction of Spirit, that he wept, confess'd his Guilt, and per­secuted him no more, overcome by that unexampled Love:1 Sam. 26.21. If a Man find his Enemy, will he let him go? Yet Men take advantage from the Goodness of God, securely to despise his Laws. The habitual Sinner thinks that God is so gracious, such a Lover of Souls, so ea­sy to be intreated, that upon his dying Prayer, Lord, remember me in thy King­dom, the Answer will be, To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. This is the deceitful Principle upon which Men usually build their Hopes, as their Actions, that bear the Image of their Minds, clearly manifest. Now this presumptuous Indulgence gives the deepest grain to their Sins, and makes them more uncapable of Pardon. Chry­sostom observes, that Judas was encou­raged to betray his Master, presuming on his Lenity, Goodness, Benignity, [Page 100] which Considerations intolerably ag­gravated his Treason, and confounded his Hopes. There is a dreadful threat­ning against those who reject the Invi­tations of Grace in their Prosperity, and when the righteous Judg comes to Sen­tence and Execution, are earnest Sup­pliants for Mercy. Because I have cal­led, Prov. 1. and ye have refused; I have stretch'd out my Hands, and no Man regarded: But ye have set at naught all my Counsel, and would none of my Reproof: I will also laugh at your Calamity, and mock when your Fear comes: When your Fear comes as a Desolation, and your Destruction as a Whirlwind, when Distress and Anguish come upon you; then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but shall not find me: For they hated Knowledg, and did not choose the Fear of the Lord. A doleful Case be­yond all possible expression! when the sinful Creature, forsaken of all Comforts below, addresses to Heaven for Relief, and meets with Derision and Fury, Scorn and Indignation. The foolish Virgins, careless to prepare for the Bridegroom's Coming, in vain at last discover'd their want of Oil, in vain [Page 101] sollicited the wise Virgins for Supply, in vain knock'd at the door, crying, Lord, Lord, open to us;Matth. 25. the Answer was severe and peremptory, I know you not; and they were for ever excluded from the Joys of Heaven.

4. How incongruous is it to delay the solemn Work of Reconciliation with God till the time of Sickness. This is an Affair wherein our transcen­dent Interest is concerned, and should be performed in our most calm and sen­sible Condition, when we are most ca­pable of reflecting upon our Ways, and making an exact trial of our selves, in order to our returning to God by a holy Change of our Lives. Now that the Time of Sickness is not a convenient Season for this Work, is sadly evident; for some Diseases are stupifying, and all the Powers of the Soul are benumm'd in a dull Captivity; so that the sick Man only perceives with his animal Faculties. Some Diseases are torment­ing, and cause a great Disorder in the Soul, and distract the Thoughts from considering his spiritual State. When the Storm is at the highest, and the Pi­lot so sick that he can give no Directi­ons, [Page 102] the Ship is left to the fury of the Winds, and escapes by Miracle. When there is a Tempest in the Humours of the Body, and the Soul by Sympathy is so discompos'd, that it cannot apply it self to prepare for its appearance before the Divine Tribunal, what danger of being lost, and passing from a short A­gony to everlasting Torment?

Besides; Suppose the Sickness more tolerable, yet how unfit is a Person weak and languishing,Male cum his agitur, quibus necessitas in­cumbit belli & morbi. V [...]g. when Sense and Conscience are both afflicted, to en­counter with the cruel Enemy of Souls? All that sincerely seek Peace with God, must expect fierce Anger and War from Satan: therefore 'tis a point of necessa­ry Wisdom, whilst our Bodies and Minds are in the best order, to be pre­paring against his Assaults.

5. Consider how uncomfortable it is to delay Repentance till Age and Sick­ness, when the Fruits of it are not so evident nor acceptable: In evil days, and the Approaches of Death, 'tis very hard to discover the Sincerity of the Heart, whether Repentance proceeds from Holy Principles, whether the Sorrow then express'd be Godly for Sin, [Page 103] or meerly natural, for Punishment; whether the good Resolutions be the Effects of permanent Fidelity, or of violent Fear, that will vanish, the cause being removed. When the Invitations to Sin cease, there may remain a secret undiscerned Love to it in the Heart, which is the Centre of Corruption, and Root of Apostacy. The Snake that seem'd dead in the Frost, revived by the Fire. The inordinate Affections that seemed mortified, when the sensi­tive Faculties were disabled to carnal Enjoyments, may have inward Life, and will soon be active and vigorous in the Presence of Temptations. And that a Deathbed-Repentance is usually deceitful, appears from hence, that not one of a thousand that recover from dangerous Diseases are faithful in performing their most sacred and solemn Vows. How many having the Sentence of Death in themselves, and under the Terrors of the Lord, have expressed the greatest Detesta­tion of their Sins, and resolved, as they thought sincerely, if God would spare them, to reform their ways, to become new Creatures, exem­plary [Page 104] in all Holy Conversation; yet the Danger being over, their Heats of Devotion expire as they revive, and their Lusts recover Strength with their Bodies, and being suppress'd only by Fear, are more fierce in their Re­turn. Their Hearts were as Marble, that in rainy Weather seems dissolved into Water, but 'tis only from the Moisture of the Air, and remains as hard as ever: When the Fear of Death is removed, all their Promises of Re­formation are ineffective, as violent and void; all their religious Affections va­nish as the Morning-Dew. Now if these Persons had died before this visible Trial and Discovery, they had past in­to the other World with the Reputati­on of true Penitents, deceiving others with their Prayers and Tears, and li­beral Promises, the outward Signs of Repentance, and deceived themselves by the inward Workings of an alarm­ed Conscience: Therefore Ministers should be very circumspect in applying the Promises of Mercy to Persons in such a State; for an Error in that kind has fearful Consequences. A little opi­ate Divinity may quiet the Mind for a [Page 105] time, but the Virtue of it will be soon spent, and the Presumer perishes for ever. But suppose a dying Person with true Tears and unfeigned per­severing Affections returns to God; Can he have a comfortable Assu­rance of his Sincerity? Indeed the Searcher and Judg of Hearts will ac­cept him: but how doubtful and wa­vering are his Hopes? what anxious Fears are in his Breast, lest he builds upon a sandy Foundation? And how dreadful is it to appear before the Tri­bunal of God, and expect an uncer­tain Sentence?

But Sinners still please themselves in this, that God has effectually called some at the last Hour, and they may find the same Favour with others. To this I answer:

1. 'Tis true, we have some rare ad­mirable Instances of God's Mercy and Grace, the dying Thief and some o­thers, which shew'd 'tis possible with God to abolish the most confirmed Ha­bits in a short time, and by a swift Conversion to prepare a Sinner for Hea­ven. But these miraculous Examples are not to be drawn into Consequence for the Encouragement of any in their [Page 106] Sins. A Quod alicui gratiosè conce­ditur, trahi non debet ab aliis in exemplum. Prince will not endure that his free Favours should be made a Law to him, and the special Privilege of some be extended to all? As Thales said, An old Mariner that has escap'd the va­rious Dangers by Rocks and Storms at Sea, was a new Miracle: So that one who has lived an obstinate Sinner, dies a penitent Believer, is very rare and ex­traordinary. What our Saviour said concerning the Salvation of rich Men, is justly applicable to this Case, That it was as easy for a Camel to go through the eye of a Needle, as for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. This so astonish'd the Apostles, that they cried, Who then can be saved? To mitigate the Difficulty, he remembers them of the Divine Omnipotence: All things are possible with God. Thus for one who has been hardned in a long course of Sin, and making himself meet for the Company of damned Spirits in Hell, to be at last suddenly prepared and received into the pure and glorious Society above, is possible, but possible only as Miracles are by the Efficacy of Infinite Power; and we cannot reaso­nably expect such Miracles. And are Heaven and Hell such trivial things as [Page 107] to be left to an Uncertainty? Are not Men concern'd in another manner in the Affairs of this World? How care­ful to prevent the Sentence of Death, of Imprisonment, of Banishment? How diligent to obtain some temporal Advantage? Yet how neglectful in things of highest importance? It may be, says the secure Wretch, God will give me Repentance at last, as he did to others. [...]. Chrys. Remember you speak of that that most nearly concerns your Soul, and dare you venture the Salvation of an immortal Soul upon a naked possibility of receiving Grace? What reasonable Person would neglect a Disease that may prove deadly, and rely on extreme Remedies? And can you be guilty of such a cruel Indifference, such a despe­rate Carelessness, as to leave eternal Sal­vation and Damnation to a peradven­ture?

2. Consider how many thousands have died in their Sins,Vix dici po­test quantos haec inanis spei umbra decepe­rit. Aug. and of them great Numbers cherish'd fallacious Hopes of repenting at last. Diagoras the Atheist, that denied a governing Providence of things in this lower World, the Sphere of Mutability, when one for his Conviction shewed him in [Page 108] the Tull. Temple of Neptune many votive Tables, containing the grateful Ac­knowledgments of those who by Ad­dresses to the Gods in dangerous Storms, had arrived safe at their Ports; and ask'd him, Whether he had observ'd those numerous Testimonies for Divine Providence? He replied, I see them; but how many having invocated Neptune,Tully. yet perish'd in the Ocean, and never came to pay their Vows for Deliverance? 'Twas Impiety in him to argue so against God's disposing Providence; but it may be justly said to those who neglect their present Duty, presuming upon some Examples of his glorious Goodness on those who were converted and saved in their approaches to Death. How ma­ny have finally miscarried in shooting that Gulph, to one that has arrived safe at Heaven? How many that presume, upon their Youth and Strength, to de­lay Repentance, are suddenly cut off? the first Symptom of their Sickness is Death. And what the Angel with such solemnity declar'd, that Time should be no more, is verified concerning them by an unexpected Dissolution. How ma­ny, when sick, hope either by the Vi­gour of Nature, or the Virtue of Me­dicines, [Page 109] to overcome the Disease? and this Hope is cherish'd by the mortal Kindness, the cruel Deceit of Friends, who are unwilling to discover their Danger, lest their Spirits should sink under the apprehension of it. And thus deluded, many never see Death till they feel it, and perish for ever in their Impenitence. How many that are guilty and graceless, when distant from Death and Hell but a few hours, yet from Atheism are secure as Jonah, who slept in the midst of a Tempest at Sea? The Tenour of their Lives discovers this to be Divine Vengeance, they are seiz'd by a Spirit of Slumber, and pass without fear into the State of everlast­ing Desperation. How many are de­ceived with the appearance of Repen­tance, and mistake a false Peace for a true, and asswage the anguish of Con­science by palliating Remedies? Their Sorrow for Sin, their Prayers, their Resolutions of Reformation, are the product of servile Fear, that is ineffe­ctual to Salvation: And as 'tis with crafty Tradesmen, that take up much upon Trust, when near breaking; so they are very liberal of the Promises of Amendment, when they are near dying. [Page 110] From hence they vainly presume that God is reconcil'd to them, whose all-discerning Eye sees the inward Spring of their Sorrows, and the Principle of all their religious Resolutions is the guilty fear of eternal Judgment. Now a false Tranquillity is more terrible than the Storms of a troubled Spirit: for those who hope upon deceitful grounds, are in the most hopeless State, neglect­ing what is requisite in order to Salva­tion. Thus innumerable pass in a Cloud of Delusion to the Kingdom of Darkness. And how many who have lived in careless Security, as if they had made a Covenant with Death, when Conscience is awaken'd, and looks into the depth of their Guilt, when they see Death before them attended with Judg­ment, and Judgment with an everlast­ing Hell, as we read of Sisera, who from extream Fear, pass'd to extream Security; so on the contrary, these Self-deceivers from Security have fallen into Despair. Then Truth and Con­science that were so long under unrigh­teous Restraints, break the Fetters, and terribly charge the Sinners: Then in­numerable Acts, which they thought to be innocent, appear to be Sins; and [Page 111] Sin that they made light of, to be infi­nitely evil, and in the highest degree hateful to God. And sometimes by the Suggestions of the Enemy of Souls, they are overwhelmed with Despair, and their last Error is worse than the first. The Devil makes his advantage of the timerous Conscience, as well as of the seared: Solitude is his Scene as well as the noisy Theatre; and by con­trary ways, either Presumption or De­spair, brings Sinners to the same end. He changes his Methods according to their Dispositions; the Tempter turns Accuser; and then such who had but a dim sight of Sin before, have an over-quick sight of it, and are swallowed up in an abyss of Confusion. The Condition of such is extreamly misera­ble. 'Tis observed of those who are bitten with a mad Dog, that their Cure is extream Miserrimum morbi genus, in quo aeger & siti & aquae me­tu cruciatur, quorum spes in angusto est. Cels. difficult, if not impossible; for being tormented with Thirst, yet are so fearful of Water, that the sight of it sometimes causes sudden Convul­sions and Death. This is a significant Emblem of a despairing Soul: For when inraged Conscience bites to the quick, the guilty Person fill'd with E­stuations and Terrors, ardently thirsts [Page 112] for Pardon, yet fearfully forsakes his own Mercies. Whatever is propound­ed to encourage Faith in the Divine Promises, he turns to justify his Infide­lity. Represent to him the infinite Mercies of God, the unvaluable Me­rits of Christ sufficient to redeem the lost World, it increases his Despair, be­cause he has perversly abused those Mercies, and neglected those Merits. The most precious Promises of the Go­spel are killing Terrors to him: as the sweet Title of Friend, wherewith our Saviour receiv'd Judas when he came to betray him, was the most stinging Reproach of his perfidious Villany. Thus it appears how dangerous it is to delay Repentance and Reconciliation with God till Sickness and a Death-bed, when the remembrance or forgetful­ness of Sin, the sense or security of Conscience may be equally destructive.

The Sum of what has been amplifi­ed in this Part is this: A vain hope of living long, and being reconcil'd to God when Men please, is the fatal Foundation of their Sins and Misery. They apply the Word of God against the Mind of God, and securely provoke him, as if they could take Heaven by [Page 113] Violence, in contradiction to the Go­spel. But they usually dispose of that time they shall never enjoy, and pre­sume upon that Mercy and Grace they shall never obtain. We are command­ed to seek the Lord while he may be found; a sad Intimation that 'tis not in our power to find him to our Comfort when we please: He spares long, but abused Patience will deliver Sinners to revenging Justice. Sampson was three times in the Chamber of his Lust, ex­pos'd to Treachery, and escap'd; but the fourth time he said, I will arise, but was surprized by his Enemies, and lost his Strength, and Sight, and Liberty. How justly will the wilful neglect of Salvation so long, and so compassionate­ly offer'd to Sinners, render the Divine Mercy inexorable to their Prayers and Tears at last? When a Roman Gentle­man that was wont to revel in the night, and sleep in the day, had wasted a great Estate by Luxury, he petitioned the Emperor Tiberius to relieve his Pover­ty, and was dismiss'd with this upbraid­ing Answer, Serò experrectus es, you are risen too late. He never open'd his Eyes to see his Condition till it was past Remedy. This is the sad Case of [Page 114] many that waste the Seasons of Grace, and are careless of their Duty, till up­on the point of perishing, and then ad­dress themselves to God for his Favour and Pardon, but are justly rejected with the reproaches of their obstinate neg­lect of Salvation in the time of their Lives. I doubt not that some are won­derfully converted and saved at last; but these special Mercies are like our Saviour's miraculous healing the two blind Persons as he was passing in the way, when great numbers of the Blind remain'd uncur'd. We read a prodigi­ous Story in the Book of Kings, that a Captain and his fifty Men commanded Elias to come to the King, and imme­diately a Tempest of Lightning de­stroyed them. Now who would think that another Captain with his fifty should be so desperate, that having the Ashes and Relicks of those miserable Carcasses before their Eyes, as to make the same Citation to the Prophet? yet they did, and provok'd the Justice of Heaven to consume them. And this Madness is exemplified in thousands e­very day; for notwithstanding they see Sinners like themselves cut off in their evil Ways, they continue unreformed, [Page 115] as if they were fearless of Hell, as if resolved to secure their own Damna­tion.

I would not from what has been re­presented in this Matter so universally useful, discourage any that have lived in a course of Sin, from earnest seeking to God in their last Hours: For even then they are not utterly destitute of Hope. The Gospel sets forth the Mer­cy of God to returning Sinners, in vari­ous Representations and Expressions of admirable Tenderness. When the lost Sheep was recovered, there was Joy, as if a Treasure had been found. The Prodigal had wasted his Estate in Lasci­viousness and Luxury, and by a harsh reduction came to himself, reflected with shame upon his Folly and Rebelli­on, and the sense of his Misery (not a more ingenuous or noble Principle at first) compell'd him to go to his Father, to try what his Affection would do. And it was not a vain presumption, for he found the effects of fatherly and compassionate Love: When he was a great way off, his Father saw him, and had Compassion, and ran and fell on his Neck, and kissed him. And the Son said, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, [Page 116] and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy Son. But the Father said to his Servants, Bring out the best Robes, and put a Ring on his Finger, and Shoes on his Feet; and bring hither the fatted Calf, and kill it; let us eat and be merry, for this my Son was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found. The De­sign of Christ was to represent his Heavenly Father in that Parable: and to wounded Spirits that feel the intole­rable weight of Sin, the Mercy and Mildness of the Gospel is to be exhibi­ted. God is rich in Mercy to all that call upon him in Truth. But to tell Sinners who securely proceed in their sinful Ways, that they may be saved at last, and notwithstanding their pre­sumptuous Repulses of God's Calls to his Service, yet think they may come into the Vineyard at the eleventh hour, and be rewarded, is to give countenance and protection to Sin, and to harden them to Destruction▪ Poison is not cu­red by giving Food, but Antidotes, that put Nature into a Passion till it be ex­pelled. The Terrors of the Lord can only prove medicinal to such depraved Souls.

[Page 117]To conclude this Argument, let us seriously consider the Revelation God has afforded of himself in the Gospel: He is a Father and a Judg; Justice and Holiness as well as Mercy are essential to his Nature, that our Affections may be accordingly moved towards him. If ye call on the Father, who without re­spect of Persons judgeth according to eve­ry Man's Work, pass the time of your so­journing here in fear. Presumption and Despair are very dishonourable to God, and pernicious to the Soul: the one de­stroys the Fear, the other the Love of God. But Hope contemper'd with Fear, has an excellent Influence in the Christian Life. As the Ballast and the Wind are both necessary, that the Ship may sail safely; without the Wind the Ship can make no way; and without Ballast 'tis in danger of oversetting by every Gust. Thus Hope and Fear are necessary to bring us safely to Heaven. Fear without Hope chills, and stupifies the Vigour and Alacrity of the Soul, that it cannot come to God: and Hope without Fear, makes it vain and careless of its Duty, and liable to be overthrown by every pleasing Temptation. Brief­ly, let us rightly understand the Tenor [Page 118] of the Evangelical Promises of Pardon and Grace: they are conditional and ap­plicable only to penitent Believers. And unfeigned Faith purifies the Heart, works by Love, and is the living Prin­ciple of universal Obedience. And Re­pentance unto Life is productive of all good Fruits in their Season. Without Faith and Repentance we can neither be justified in this World, nor glorified in the next. Be not deceived, God is not mocked: as a Man sows, so shall he reap. He that sows to the Flesh, shall of the Flesh reap Corruption: he that sows to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap Life everlasting.

2. The careful preserving our selves from wilful presumptuous Sins, is an happy means to render Death comfort­able to us. Sins of Ignorance and In­firmity, of sudden Surreption and Sur­prize, the best Men are not freed from in the present State: and being the dai­ly motive of our Grief, and serious cir­cumspection to prevent them, are con­sistent with the regular Peace of Con­science, and the Friendship and Favour of God. But great Sins in their mat­ter being so contrary to natural Con­science, and supernatural Grace, or Sins [Page 119] presumptuous in the manner of their commission, such as proceed from the choice of the perverse Will against the inlightned Mind, whatever the mat­ter or kind of them be, are direct Re­bellion against God, a despising of his Command, and provoke his pure Eyes, and make the aspect of Death fearful. The Spirit seals our Pardon and Title to Heaven as the holy Spirit; his Te­stimony, that we are the Children of God, and Heirs of Glory, is concurrent with the renewed Conscience, and di­stinguish'd from the ignorant Presum­ptions, blind Conjectures, and carnal Security of the Unholy. As the san­ctifying Spirit he distinguishes true Christians from the lost World, appro­priates them to God, confirms their present Interest in the Promises of the Gospel, and their future Hopes. Brief­ly, Grace is the most sensible effect and sign of God's special Favour, the fruit of Election, and the earnest of Glory: and the Truth of Grace is most clearly and certainly made evident by the con­tinual Efficacy of it in the Conversati­on. The observation of our Hearts to suppress unholy Affections, and of our Senses to prevent them, a constant course [Page 120] of Holiness in our Lives, (though ma­ny Frailties will cleave to the best) is usually rewarded with great Peace here.

God has establish'd a connexion be­tween our Obedience and his Comforts. Those that keep themselves pure from the Defilements of the World, have the white Stone promised, the bright Jewel of assurance of God's pardoning and re­warding Mercy. We read of Enoch, that he walk'd with God, was a Star shining in a corrupt Age, the tenour of his Life was holy, and he was translated to Heaven without seeing Death. Though this was an extraordinary Dispensation, yet there is a peculiar Reward analogical to it; for those who walk circumspect­ly, they shall not see Death with its Terrors, but usually have a holy Chear­fulness, a peaceful Joy, in their passage through the dark Valley to Heaven. But presumptuous Sins against external and internal Restraints, the convincing Law of God, and the Directions of Conscience, (to which even the Saints of God are liable here, as appears by David's earnest Prayer to be preserved from them) such Sins grieve the holy Spirit, and wound our Spirits, and, if continued, sequester us from the com­fortable [Page 121] Priviledges of the Gospel, and render us unfit for the Kingdom of Heaven. And when they are retract­ed by Repentance, yet there often re­mains a bitter Remembrance of them: as deep Wounds, though cur'd, yet are felt in change of Weather. And some­times a Spring-tide of Doubts and Fears breaks into humble penitent Souls, in the last Hours: though Death brings them safely, yet not comfortably to Heaven.

3. The zealous Discharge of the Du­ties of our Place and Calling, the Con­junction of our Resolutions and En­deavours to glorify God, and do good according to our Abilities and Op­portunities of Service, sweetens the Thoughts of Death to us. For the true End and Perfection of Life is the Glory of God, and when with Fideli­ty it is employed in order to it, Death brings us to the blessed Rest from our Labours. Our Saviour when he was to leave the World, address'd himself to his Father,John 17. I have glorified thee on Earth, I have finish'd the Work thou gavest me to do. And now, Father, glori­fy me with thy self, with the Glory which I had with thee before the World was. A [Page 122] Christian that imitates and honours Christ, and with Diligence perseveres in well-doing, may with an humble Confidence in the Divine Mercy expect the promised Reward. The Reflecti­on upon a well-spent Life is joyn'd with a joyful Prospect of God's Favour and Acceptance above. But to the careless and remiss, to those who are wilfully negligent of their Duty, how fearful is Death that summons them to give an account of their Talents to the Righteous Lord?

4. A holy Indifference of Affection to present things, makes it easy to part with them, and Death less fearful to us. David, though a King, declares he was a Stranger on Earth, not only with respect to his transient Condition, but his inward Disposition; and that he was as a weaned Child from the ad­mired Vanities of the World. Chry­sostom in a Letter to Ciriacus who was tenderly sensible of his Banishment, wrote to him, ‘You now begin to la­ment my Banishment, but I have done so for a long time: for since I knew that Heaven was my Country, I have esteemed the whole Earth a place of Exilement. Constantinople, from [Page 123] whence I am expell'd, is as distant from Paradise as the Desert to which they send me. But when our Affections are set upon external things, and we are irregular in our Aims, intemperate in our Use, and immoderate in our De­lights, how sensible and cutting is the Division from them?’ How bitter is Death that deprives a carnal Wretch of all the Materials of his frail Felicity? What a Storm of Passions is raised, to lose all his good things at once? for 'tis a Rule in Nature, What is possess'd with transporting Joy, is lost with ex­cessive Sorrow. As the Ivy that twines so closely about the Tree, and is inti­mately fastned by so many Roots as there are Branches, cannot be pluck'd away without rending the Bark with it; so when the World, that was as it were incarnated with the Heart, is taken away, the Heart it self is grie­vously rent by the violent Separation. And the Infelicity of carnal and world­ly Persons is heavily aggravated,Haec enim est infoelicitas ho­minum, prop­ter quae pec­cant Morientes hic dimittunt, & ipsa peccata secum portant. Aug. in that the Guilt in procuring or abusing those Treasures and Delights that they leave here with so great Sorrow, will cleave to them, and give Testimony a­gainst them before their Judg. But [Page 124] when the Affections are loose to the World, and set upon Heaven, our leav­ing the Earth is no Loss but Gain, and our Separation from the Body of Flesh is with that Alacrity, as the putting off a vile Garment to be clothed with a Royal Robe. 'Twas the wise Counsel of Tertullian to the Women of the first Ages of the Church,Stemus expe­ditae ad om­nem vim, ni­hil habentes quod relinque­re timeamus; Retinacula ista sunt spei no­strae. De cult. Foem. not to value and love the Jewels and Ornaments of Gold, that they might be more ready and re­solved to obtain by Death, Martyrdom, and by Martyrdom, Eternal Glory. And that we may disentangle our Souls from those voluntary Bands that fasten us to present things, we must have a sincere uncorrupted Judgment of their Meanness. The Apostle exhorts Chri­stians to Moderation in their Temper and Conversation, with respect to the Business and Enjoyments here, that they who have Wives, be as though they had none; that those that rejoice, be as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use the World, as not abusing it; for the fashion of the World passeth away. To a wise and pondering Observer, what comparison is there between Sha­dows and Dreams, and substantial ever­lasting [Page 125] Blessedness? If Men had the same opinion of this World whilst they live, as they will have when they are to die, they would not inordinately seek it. They who have magnified temporal Honours and Riches, and lived in Pleasures without Remorse, yet in their dying Hours, when Men speak with most Feeling and least Affectation, how have they vilified those empty Appearances of Happiness? with what moving Expressions declared the Vani­ty and Brevity of worldly things? As when the Israelites were to go through the River Jordan, that opened it self to make a free and dry Passage for them; the lower part of its Waters ran into the Dead Sea, and utterly fail'd:Josh. 3.16. Ad instar montis intu­mescentis, ap­parebant pro­cul. but the Waters that came from above, rose up and appear'd like a Mountain. Thus when Men come to the universal Pas­sage, from this to the next Life, infe­riour things absolutely fail, and are lost in the dead Sea, but the things a­bove, that are eternal, then appear in their true Greatness, exceeding all hu­mane Comprehension: from hence is the change of Mind and Language con­cerning the one and other.

[Page 126]5. Solemn, affectionate, and frequent Converse with God in religious Duties, will render Death not fearful to us. The whole Life of a Christian, as such, is a continual Communion with the Fa­ther, 1 John 1.3. and with Jesus Christ. For he performs all good Works by Divine Grace communicated from above, and refers all to the Divine Honour. As in a pair of Compasses, one Foot is fix'd in the Center, while the other moves in the Circumference: so the Heart of a Christian is in Heaven, his aims are for God, whilst he is active here in the World. His Natural and Civil Acti­ons are heightened to a supernatural End: And thus his Conversation is in Heaven. But this was spoken of be­fore: and that which is now specified, is the more immediate Service of God in Holy Meditation, Prayer, and the Ordinances of the Gospel, which is the noblest part of the spiri­tual Life.

Our blessed Saviour who was a Com­prehensor upon Earth, always saw the Face of God, and invariably sought his Glory in all things, yet had his special times of Prayer and Heavenly Com­munion with God, and the most glori­ous [Page 127] Testimonies of his Favour in those times. Our Communion with God here is as true as in Heaven, but the Influence and Fruition is different ac­cording to our Capacity. When the Soul feels the vigorous Exercise of the Thoughts and Affections upon God, and the raised Operations of Grace in Holy Duties, 'tis as certain a Sign of God's Favour and Acceptance, as when Fire descended from Heaven to con­sume the Sacrifice. And often our affectionate Duties are rewarded with sensible Consolations, and holy Souls are dismiss'd from the Throne of Grace, as they shall be received at the Throne of Glory, with the reviving Testimo­nies of God's Approbation. Now the Assurance of God's Love conquers the Fear of Death.

This Communion must be frequent. As Love and Respects between Friends are maintained by constant Visits and Letters, and mutual Confidence arises from Acquaintance: so by the inter­change of holy Duties and divine Fa­vours, we preserve a lively Sense of God's Love, and an humble Familiari­ty with his Majesty, that his Presence is not a Terror to us. A Christian [Page 128] that walks with God here, when he leaves the World, (to use the Words of a dying Saint) changes his Room, but not his Company. God was always with him on Earth, and he shall be ever with God in Heaven.

But cold and seldom Converse begets Strangeness, and that makes us shy of God. When religious Duties are per­formed as a complemental Visit with­out zealous Affections, or used only in times of Affliction and Exigency, as Cordial Waters in swooning Fits, the Divine Presence is uncomfortable to us. They who prefer carnal Sweets before Acquaintance with God, cannot with Peace and Joy think of appearing be­fore him. O how unwelcome is Death to such! for then the Spirit returns to God that gave it.

6. Let us strengthen our Belief of the blessed State after Death. Divine Truths lose their Influence and Efficacy when they are not stedfastly believed. Faith is the substance of things not seen, Heb. 11.1. and the Evidence or Conviction of things hoped for. The Spirit confirms our Faith, not by a pure Physical Act, but by convincing Reasons of the Truth of the Gospel. The Life of Christ so glo­rious [Page 129] in Holiness, his Doctrine so be­coming the Wisdom and other excellent Attributes of the Deity, his Miracles so great, numerous, open, and benefi­cial, not meerly to surprize the Specta­tors with Astonishment, but to touch their Hearts; his Death foretold by the Prophets, and exactly agreeing in all the Circumstances of the Predictions; his Resurrection the most noble Opera­tion of the Divine Power, are the strongest Proofs that what he has re­veal'd as the Counsel of God for our Redemption, and the Preparations of Glory for the Saints in Heaven, are di­vine Truths. And the Efficacy of the Spirit of Christ in sanctifying his Dis­ciples in all Ages, is a continual and as satisfying an Argument that the Gospel is derived from God the Fountain of Truth, as extraordinary Miracles. For Holiness is as inseparable a property of the Divine Nature as Omnipotence; and the Sanctification of the Soul as divine an Effect, as the Resurrection of the Body. Now in the Gospel God en­ters into Covenant with obedient Be­lievers, to be their God, a Title and Relation, that supposing them the most happy here, all the Enjoyments [Page 130] of this World cannot fulfil. This Co­venant is not dissolv'd by Death, for he uses this Stile after the Death of his faithful Servants: and from hence it follows they are Partakers of his Glo­ry and Joys in the next Life. For the Honour of his Veracity is most dear to him. The Psalmist declares, that he has magnified his Word above all his Name. No Perfections of his Nature are more sacred and inviolable than his Truth. The Foundations of Nature shall be overturn'd, and the most solid parts of the Creation destroyed, but his Promises shall be compleatly accom­plish'd. We are assured by his infalli­ble Authority, that there remains a Rest for the People of God. And he that re­ceives this Testimony, sets to his Seal that God is true; honours the Truth of God's Word, and binds himself more firmly to his Service, and is encouraged to leave this sensible World, for that which is infinitely better. Our Confi­dence and Patience in well-doing, and in suffering the utmost Evil to Nature, is from the pregnant Apprehensions of the Reality of eternal things. We know, 2 Cor. 5.1. saith the Apostle, if our earthly Tabernacle be dissolved, we have a Build­ing [Page 131] not made with Hands, eternal in the Heavens. This fortified him against the Terrors of Death. When Stephen saw the Heavens open, and the Son of God ready to receive him, with what Cou­rage and Constancy did he encounter the bloody Rage of his Murderers? Faith supplies the want of Vision, it pierces the Clouds, opens a Window in Heaven, sees the Crowns of Righ­teousness prepared for the Saints, and sweetens the bitterest Passage to it. But if our Faith be weak and wavering, our Courage will decline in the need­ful Hour. 'Tis with Christians in their last Passage from Earth to Hea­ven, as with Saint Peter walking upon the Waters to Christ: whilst his Faith was firm in Christ, he went upon the Waves as on the firm Land: but upon the rising of a Storm, his Faith sunk in­to Fear, and he sunk in the Waters; till our Saviour upon his earnest Prayer, Lord, save me, took hold of him, and rais'd him with that compassionate Re­proof, O thou of little Faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

The last Use is, to excite the Saints to die with that Courage and Chear­fulness as becomes the Gospel of Christ. [Page 132] The Encouragement of Joshua to the Israelites against the Giants that terrifi­ed them from entring into the Land of Canaan, the Type of Heaven, Be not afraid of them, they are Bread for us, we shall obtain an easy Conquest over them, is applicable to this purpose: Do not fear Death, the Enemy that inter­poses between us and the true Canaan; for our Conflict shall be the means of our Victory, and triumphant Possessi­on of the holy and blessed Land above. This is very honourable to our Re­deemer, and recommends Godliness to the Judgment, Affections, and Practice of others.Epist. Jul. St. Basil tells of a Custom to annoint the tops of Doves Wings with some fragrant Liquor, that mix­ing in company with other Doves, they might by the Sent allure them to follow to the Dove-houses. Thus when holy Persons live and die with peace­ful Joy, those that converse with them, are drawn by that Fragrance of Para­dise to apply themselves to serious Reli­gion.

'Tis the Apostle's consolatory Advice to Believers,1 Thess. 4. Not to be sorrowful for those that sleep in JESVS, as those that are without hope.

[Page 133]When Jacob saw his beloved Son's Coat rent and stain'd with Blood, he a­bandoned himself to desperate Sorrow, and continued mourning for his Death, when Joseph was advanc'd in Authori­ty and Dignity next to Pharaoh in the Kingdom of Egypt. Thus when we see the Garment of Mortality rent by Diseases, we mourn for departed Saints, as if Death had absolutely destroyed them, when their Souls are reigning in Glory. This immoderate Sorrow is an Heathenish Passion, suitable to their ig­norance of the future happy State, but very unbecoming the plenary Assurance the Gospel affords us of it. Indeed for the Wicked to die with fears and palpi­tations of heart, to be surrounded with impendent horrours, when such a pre­cipice and depth of Misery is before them, is very just and reasonable; but for the Saints to die uncomfortably un­der inordinate Fears, is a disparage­ment to the Blessed Hope establish'd up­on the Revelation of Life and Immortali­ty by the Gospel.

Now in three things I shall propound the Duty of dying Christians.

1. To submit to the Divine Pleasure with resigned Spirits, as to the Means, [Page 134] the Manner, and Time of Death. God has a Sovereign Right and Dominion over us. The present Life is his most free Favour, and he may justly resume it when he pleases. His Will should be the first and last Rule of ours. Whe­ther he gently untwines the Band of Life, or violently breaks it, we must placidly, without reluctation, yield up our selves. By what Means soever Death comes, all second Causes are moved by an impression from above, in what Age of Life soever; all our Times are appointed by the divine Counsel: and a Saint ought with that readiness and meek submission receive it, as if he heard an express Voice from Heaven calling him to God, and say in his heart with Samuel, Here I am, thou didst call me. This is the last act of our Obedience, and very pleasing to God. We read of the marvellous Ille exerit gladium, ille cervicem, uno voto, unâ de­votione: sub tanto non di­cam humanita­tis, sed p [...]tius naturae ipsius metu, lati sunt. Consent of Abraham and his Son Isaac, the Father to offer up his Son, and the Son his Life, (that were both the Gifts of God) in com­pliance with the divine Command, and from Heaven he declared his high ap­probation of it. This is to make a Ver­tue of Necessity, and turn Nature into Grace. But discontent and reluctan­cy, [Page 135] as if our Lives were our own, and taken from us unjustly or unseasonably, is Rebellious Unthankfulness, unbeco­ming a Creature, much more a true Christian, who exchanges a perishing Life for that which is eternal.

2. To receive Death not only with Patience, but earnest desires to be with Christ. I know Death is naturally un­welcome. Our Saviour tells St. Peter, When thou art old, John 21.41. another shall bind thee, and lead thee where thou wouldest not: signifying his Martyrdom. The Circumstance [when thou art old] is re­markable,Secutus à cor­pore volebat esse cum Chri­sto, sed si fieri posset praeter mortis molesti­am. Nolens ad eam venit, sed volens eam vi­cit. Aug. Tract. 123 in Joan. and intimates the natural un­willingness to die, when there was lit­tle time to live. But his rational san­ctified Will was superiour and preva­lent. The universal desire of the Saints is to be happy in the Presence of God: for the divine Nature communicated to them is intelligent, and inclining to­wards its chief Good: and if the ob­taining it were not by being unclothed, but clothed upon by an immediate Tran­slation to Heaven, how willingly would they leave this World? But there is a bitterness in Death that makes it un­pleasant; and many holy Souls that de­sire the Glorious Liberty in Heaven, [Page 136] yet are loth to leave their Prison. Now there are so many Arguments to make the Saints desirous of dying, that me­thinks since Life is chiefly valued and dear to them, as it is the way to Heaven, when they are come to that blessed end, it should not be longer desirable. What is this lower World that chains us so fast? 'Tis the Devil's Circuit wherein he ranges, seeking whom he may de­vour: 'Tis the Theater of Contenti­ons: The Low aspire to rise; the Ex­alted fear to fall: The Poor envy the Rich, and the Rich despise the Poor. 'Tis a foreign Country to the Saints; and as Pilgrims and Strangers, they are liable to Reproaches, Injuries, and hard Dealings from the Wicked, the Natives of the Earth. What is the present mo­mentany Life that so enamours us? 'Tis surrounded with Temptations, oppress'd with Fears, ardent with ir­regular Desires, and continually spent in Vanity or Vexation. In Adversity 'tis depress'd and melancholy; in Pro­sperity foolish and proud. 'Tis a real Infelicity under the deceitful appearance of Felicity. But above all other Mo­tives, the evil of Sin from which we cannot be clearly exempted here, should [Page 137] render Death desirable. The best suffer internal Divisions between the Law of the Flesh, and the Law of the Mind; as Rebecca felt the Twins, Esau and Jacob, repugnant in her Womb. How hard is it to be continually watching the Heart that Corruptions do not break out, and the Senses that Temptations do not break in? How difficult to or­der the Affections, to raise what is drooping, and suppress what is rebelli­ous? For they are like the People of whom the Historian speaks, qui nec to­tam servitutem pati possunt, nec totam libertatem. How many Enemies of our Salvation are lodg'd in our own bo­soms? The Falls of the Saints give sad evidence of this. If the Body were unspotted from the World as in the Creation of Man, there might be a just Plea of our unwillingness to part with it, but since it is the incentive and in­strument of Sin, we should desire to be dissolved, that we might be perfect­ly holy. Death is the final Remedy of all the temporal and spiritual Evils to which we are liable here. And the Love of Christ should make us willing to part with all the Endearments of this Life, nay desirous to enter into the [Page 138] Celestial Paradise, though we must pass under the Angels Sword, the stroke of Death, to come into his Presence. He infinitely deserves our Love, for we owe our Salvation and Eternal Glo­ry to the merit of his Humiliation, and the power of his Exaltation. With what earnest affections did St. Paul de­sire to be dissolved and to be with Christ? Phil. 1. Love gave Wings of Fire to his Soul, ardent desires mounting to Heaven. How valiant were the Martyrs in ex­pressing acts of Love to Christ? How boldly did they encounter Death that interpos'd between them and the sight of his Glory? Their Love was hotter than the Flames that consumed them. They as willingly left their Bodies, as Elias let fall his Mantle to ascend to Heaven. And how does it upbraid the coldness of our Love, that we are so contented to be here, absent from our Saviour. That the Moles of the Earth, who never saw the Light of the Sun, and feed on bitter Roots, are pleas'd in their dark Receptacles, is no wonder; but if Birds that are refresh'd with his chearful Beams, and feed on sweet Fruits, should willingly be con­sin'd in Caverns of the Earth, it were [Page 139] unnaturally strange. Thus for Pagans, (and those who are so in Heart, though different in Profession) that are so short-sighted and depraved, that they only perceive and affect present sensible things, for them to be unwilling to die is no wonder; for then all that is valuable and delightful to them is lost for ever: but for those who are inlight­ned by the Revelation of God so clearly concerning the state of Glory, and have tasted the Goodness of the Lord, and know the incomparable difference be­tween the mean and frail Felicity here, and the inestimable immutable Felicity hereafter, for them to be unwilling to leave this World for that which is infi­nitely better, is astonishing. Such was the Love of our Saviour, that his per­sonal Glory in Heaven did not fully con­tent him, without the Saints partaking of it with him: Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my Glory. John 17. If our Hearts do not answer his, 'tis a sad indication that we have not an Interest in him: for the application of his Me­rits is always join'd with the imitation of his Vertues, and the reflection of his Love. The Lovers of Christ will [Page 140] join with the inflamed Spouse,Cant. 1. Draw us, and we will run after thee: O loosen our Affections from this World, that we may readily ascend to thee: they will renew the Sighs of holy David in his Banishment, O when shall we come and appear before God!

Lastly, To die with Thanksgiving and Joy. 'Tis usual to compare this Life to a Voyage; The Scripture is the Chart that describes the Coasts we must pass, and the Rocks we must a­void; Faith is the Compass that directs the Course we must steer; Love is the Rudder that governs the Motion of the Ship; Hope fills the Sails: Now what Passenger does not rejoice at the disco­very of his Country where his Estate and Heart is, and more at the near ap­proach to the Port where he is to land? Is not Heaven the Country of the Saints? Is not their Birth from above, and their tendency to their Original? And is not the blessed Bosom of Christ their Port? O what joyful Thanksgivings are due to God, when by his Spirit and Provi­dence they have happily finish'd their Voyage through such Quamdiu in Salo isto, tam­diu inter nau­fragia. dangerous Seas, and are coming into the Land of the [Page 141] Living? How joyful was to Noah the coming of the Dove with an Olive-Branch, to shew him the Deluge was asswaged, and the Time was come of his freedom from the troublesom com­pany of Animals, and from the strait­ness and darkness of the Ark, to go forth and possess the World? How joy­ful should Death be to a Saint, that comes like the Dove in the evening, to assure him the Deluge of Misery is ceas'd, and the time is come of his en­largement from the Body, his deliver­ance from the wretched sinful Society here, and his possessing the Divine World? Holy Souls are immediately transported by the Angels to Christ, and by him presented to his Father, without spot or wrinkle, compleat in Holiness, and prepared for Communi­on with him in Glory. How joyfully are they received into Heaven by our Saviour and the blessed Spirits? they are the reward of his Sufferings, the precious and dear purchase of his Blood: The Angels that rejoice at the Conver­sion of a Sinner, do much more at the Glorification of a Saint: and the Church of the First-born who have before us enter'd into Glory, have a new accessi­on [Page 142] of Joy, when their younger Bre­thren arrive to the undefiled immortal Inheritance. And is it not very beco­ming Believers joyfully to ascend to the Seat of Blessedness, to the happy Soci­ety that inspires mutual Joys for ever? For our encouragement there are nu­merous Instances of Believers that have with Peace and Joy, though in various degrees, past through the dark Valley to the Inheritance of Light. Some have died with more Joy than they li­ved,Accitus sum ad id miraculi, vi­dere exultan­tem in morte hominem, & insultantem morti. Bern. 26 Serm. in Cant. and triumph'd over the last Ene­my with the vocal Praises of God: o­thers with silent Affections have quietly commended their Spirits into his Hand. Some have inward Refreshings and Sup­port; others exuberant Joys and Ra­vishments, as if the Light of Glory shined into them, or the Vail of Flesh were drawn, and their Spirits were present with the invisible World. Some of the Martyrs in their cruellest Suf­ferings felt such impressions of Confi­dence and Alacrity, that as in the House of Lamech there was accorded at the same time two discordant Callings by the two Brothers; Jubal the Inven­ter of the Harp and Organ, Gen. 4. and Tubal-Cain the first Artificer in Brass and Iron: [Page 143] the one practised on Instruments of Musick, breathing harmonious Sounds and Melodies; the other used Hammers and Anvils, making noise and tumult: So in some Persons, whilst the heaviest Strokes fell on their Bodies, their Souls were ravish'd with the sweetest Joy and Exultation. Indeed 'tis not thus always with the Saints: for though Sin be pardoned, yet the apprehensions of Guilt may remain. When a Stream is disturbed, it does not truly represent the Object: When the Affections are disor­dered, the Mind does not judg aright of a Christian's State. A Serpent may hiss when it has lost its Sting. Death may terrify when it cannot hurt us. I doubt not but some excellent Saints have been in anxieties to the last, till their Fears were dispell'd by the actual fruition of Blessedness. As the Sun sometimes sets in dark Clouds, and rises in a glorious Horizon. We read our Evidences for Heaven by the Light of God's Countenance: his Image is made visible in our Souls by the illu­stration of his Spirit: and he exerci­ses Prerogative in the dispensation of his Comforts. 'Tis his pleasure to [Page 144] bestow extraordinary Favours on some, and deny them to others that are as holy. But every penitent Believer has just cause of Joy in Death: for Jesus Christ has reconciled God, destroyed Satan, and conquered Death: and the last Day of his Life is the first of his Glory.

FINIS.

OF ETERNAL JUDGMENT.

BY WILLIAM BATES, D.D.

LONDON, Printed by J. D. for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhil. 1691.

OF Eternal Judgment.

Acts 17.31.

Because he hath appoint­ed a Day, in the which he will judg the World in Righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained: where­of he hath given Assurance unto all Men, in that he raised him from the dead.

SAint Paul had this Title of Ho­nour eminently conferred upon him, the Apostle of the Gentiles: This Office he performed with perse­vering Diligence, diffusing the Light of Life to those that sate in Darkness, and [Page 148] in the Shadow of Death. In this Chap­ter we have recorded the Substance of his Sermon to the Athenians; wherein his admirable Zeal and Prudence are remarkable, in the matter and order of his Discourse, to convince and per­swade them to recive the saving Truth of the Gospel. He first lays down the Principles of natural Religion, to pre­pare them for the more easy Belief of supernatural revealed Religion. The Depravation of the Minds of Men was in no Instance more prodigious than in their vilifying Conceits of the Deity: They attributed his Name and Ho­nour to various Idols, and ascribed to him their own Figure, and which was infinitely more unworthy and disho­nourable, their own Passions and Vices. They adored their own vain Imagina­tions. The Idols of their Hearts were erected on their Altars. Venus was a Goddess, because impure Love reigned in their Brests. Bacchus had religious Rites, because sensual Pleasures, as sweet as Wine, intoxicated their Spirits. These Errors, as gross as impious, were universal: the Philosophers themselves were not exempted from the Contagi­on. The Apostle therefore makes use [Page 149] of the clearest Arguments, to give Au­thority to the plain conspiring Voice of Nature, that had so long in vain re­call'd them from Idolatry to the Wor­ship of the only true God. He there­fore declares, that the Divine Maker of all things, the Father of Spirits, Ver. 29. could not be represented by corporeal and corruptible things, but was to be ac­knowledg'd and ador'd in a manner be­coming his spiritual and infinite Per­fections.Ver. 26. That he made all Nations of one Blood, though distinguish'd in their Habitations and Times, that they might seek and serve the one universal Creator. And though the Pagan World for many Ages had lived in an unnatu­ral Oblivion of God, and he seem'd unconcerned for their Violation of his Laws, yet it was not from the defect of Justice, but the Direction of his Wisdom, that his Patience was so long extended to them. And this he proves by the new and most express Declara­tion of his Will: But now he command­ed all Men every where to repent; be­cause he hath appointed a Day, in which he will judg the World in Righteous­ness, by the Man whom he hath ordain­ed: whereof he hath given Assurance to [Page 150] all Men, in that he raised him from the Dead.

In the Words, the Eternal Counsels of God are revealed in two great things.

1. The determining a time wherein he will righteously judg the World: He hath appointed a Day.

2. The Designation of the Person by whom he will perform that eminent part of Soveraignty: by Jesus Christ, whom he hath raised from the dead.

In order to the handling of the main Point, it is requisite to premise briefly some Propositions.

1. That God is the Universal Mo­narch of the World, and has supreme Authority to govern reasonable Crea­tures, antecedent to their Election and Consent. The Psalmist calls to the Heathens,Psal. 100. Know ye that the Lord is God: that is, the most glorious Being, and absolute Sovereign; for it is he that made us, and not we our selves. He formed all things by his Almighty Goodness, and is King by Creation.

2. The two principal and necessary parts of his Soveraignty are, to give [Page 151] Laws for the ruling of his Subjects, and to pass final Judgment upon them for their Obedience or Disconformity to his Precepts. Mere natural Agents are regulated by a wise Establishment, that is the Law of their Creation. The Sun and Stars are moved according to the just Points of their Compass. The Angels are under a Law in Heaven, and obey his Commandments. The Hu­mane Nature of Christ, though ad­vanced to the highest capacity of a Creature, yet received a Law. And his whole Work upon Earth for our Salva­tion, was an Act of Obedience to the Will of God. If a Prince out of affe­ction to his Friend will leave his own Dominions, and live privately with him in a foreign Country, he must be subject to the Laws of that Place. In­deed it is not conceivable that a Crea­ture should be without a Law; for this is to make it supreme and independent: Supreme, in not being liable to a supe­rior Power to confine and order it; In­dependent, as to its Being and Operati­ons; for Dependance necessarily infers Subjection. There is a visible connexi­on between those Titles; The Lord is our Judg, the Lord is our Law-giver, Isa. 33.22. the [Page 152] Lord is our King. And sometimes in Scripture his Soveraignty is intimated in the Title of Judg: thus in that hum­ble Expostulation of Abraham for Sodom; Shall not the Judg of all the World do right? He addresses his Request to God under that Title, to soften his Power, and incline his Clemency to save the Wicked for their sakes who were com­paratively Righteous, that is, innocent of their crying Sins.

3. As his right to govern and judg the World is natural, so are his Attri­butes, his Wisdom, Holiness, Justice and Power, that qualify and render him most worthy to exercise this Govern­ment. These are finite separable Qua­lities in Angels or Men, but essential Perfections to the Deity. 'Tis more rational to conceive that things may be congeal'd by the heat of Fire, or turn'd black by whiteness, than that the least act of Injustice can be done by the righ­teous Lord. The Apostle rejects with extreme detestation, the blasphemous Charge of Unrighteousness in God's Proceedings: Is God unrighteyus that taketh Vengeance? Rom. 3.5, 6. God forbid: For then how shall God judg the World? He may as soon renounce his Nature, and cease [Page 153] to be God, for as such he is necessarily Judg of the World, as violate his own Perfections in his judicial proceedings with us.

4. God being invisible in his own Nature, hath most wisely ordained the last Judgment of the World to be trans­acted by a visible Person: because Men are to be judged, and the whole process of Judgment with them, will be for things done in the Body. The Person appointed for this Great Work, is Jesus Christ the Son of God united to the Humane Nature.John 5.22. The Father judgeth no Man: Not as if he descended from the Throne, and devested himself of his Supremacy, but not immediately; but hath committed all Judgment to the Son. And it follows,Ver. 26, 27. As the Father hath Life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have Life in himself: And hath given him Authority to execute Judg­ment also, because he is the Son of Man; that is, in the quality of Mediator, for the reward of his Sufferings. The qua­lity of this Office requires no less Per­son for the discharge of it, than the Son of God.

1. Upon the account of its superla­tive Dignity. No mere Creature is [Page 154] capable of such a glorious Commission. To pass a Sovereign Sentence upon An­gels and Men, is a Royalty reserv'd for God himself. We read that no Man in Heaven or Earth was able to open the Sea­led Book of his Eternal Counsels, Rev. 5. as un­searchable as deep: only Jesus Christ who was in the Bosom of the Father, the Seat of his Counsels and Compassi­ons, and was acquainted with all his Glorious Secrets, could unfold the Or­der of the Divine Decrees about the Church. And if no Creature was wor­thy to be admitted into God's Counsel, much less to be taken into his Throne. The Eternal Son, the express Image of his Person, is alone fit to be his authori­sed Representative in Judgment. Our Saviour declares, that the Father in­vested the Son with this Regal Power, that all Men should honour the Son, John 5.23. with the same religious Reverence, and su­preme Adoration, as they honour the Fa­ther.

2. Upon the account of the immense Difficulty, no mere Creature is able to discharge it. To judg the World, in­cludes two things: 1. To pass a righ­teous and irrevocable Judgment upon Men for all Things done in this Life. [Page 155] 2. The actual execution of the Sen­tence. And for this no less than infi­nite Wisdom, and infinite Power are necessary. If a select number of An­gels of the highest Order were deputed, yet they could not manage the judicial Trial of one Man: For besides the in­numerable Acts and Omissions in one Life, the Secrets of the Heart, from whence the guilt or goodness of Moral Actions is principally derived, are not open to them. He alone that discerns all Things, can require an account of all.

3. The Son of Man is invested with this high Office as the Reward of his Sufferings. We must distinguish between the essential and oeconomical Power of Christ. The Son of God, considered in his Divine Nature, has an original Power of Judgment equal with the Father; but considered as Media­tor, has a Power by delegation. In the quality of the Son of Man, he is inferior in Dignity to the Father. The Apo­stle declares this in that scale of Subor­dination, of the Creatures to Belie­vers, and of Believers to Christ, and of Christ to God. All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. [Page 156] And observing the beautiful Order that arises from the superiority and depend­ance between Things, he saith, The Head of every Man is Christ, and the Head of the Woman is the Man, and the Head of Christ is God. Now this Pow­er by Commission was conferr'd upon him as the Reward of his Sufferings. The Apostle expresly declares it, that Christ being in the Form of God, and without any usurpation truly equal to him in Divine Perfections and Majesty, humbled himself, and became obedient to the Death of the Cross. Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name above every Name: that at the Name of Jesus every Knee should bow, of Things in Heaven, and Things in Earth, and Things under the Earth; and that every Tongue should confess that Je­sus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father. His victorious Sufferings are the Titles to his Triumphs; his being so ignominiously depress'd and condemn'd by Men, is the just reason of his advancement to judg the World.

5. There is a Day appointed where­in the Son of Man will appear in sensi­ble Glory, and exercise his judicial Pow­er upon Angels and Men. He is now [Page 157] seated at the right Hand of the Majesty on High, and the Celestial Spheres are under his Feet: Universal Nature feels the power of his Scepter: He reigns in the Hearts of the Saints by his Word and Spirit, and restrains the Fury of his Enemies in what degrees he pleases: but still his Servants are in distress, and his rebellious Enemies insolently break his Laws; and the Curtains of Heaven conceal his Glory from us: therefore a Time is prefix'd, when in the face of the World he will make an eternal dif­ference by Rewards and Punishments between the Righteous and the Wick­ed, and his Government shall have its compleat and glorious Issue. This is stiled the Judgment of the Great Day.

1. With respect to the appearance of the Judg. When the Law was gi­ven from Mount Sinai, the Mountain was covered with Fire, and the Voice of God as loud as Thunder proclaimed it from the midst of the Flames, so that the whole Army of the Israelites was prostrate on the Plain, struck with a sacred Horror, and almost dead at the amazing Sights and Sounds. From hence 'tis said, that in his right Hand was a fiery Law. And if the Law-giver [Page 158] appear'd in such terrible Majesty at the proclaiming the Law, how much more when he shall come to revenge the Transgressions of it? 'Tis set forth in Scripture in the most lofty and mag­nificent Expressions: He shall come in his Father's Glory, Luke 9.26. and his own Glory, and the Glory of the Angels. A devour­ing Fire shall go before him, to consume all the Works of the Universe. He shall descend from the highest Heavens, glorious in the attendance of innume­rable Angels, but more in his own Ma­jesty, and sit on a radiant Throne high above all.

2. 'Tis great, with respect to the appearance of those who are to be judg'd: All the Apostate Angels, and the universal Progeny of Adam. The bowels of the Earth, and the bottom of the Sea, and all the Elements shall give up the Dead. The mighty An­gels, the winged Ministers of Justice, shall fly to all Parts, and attach the Wicked to bring them as miserable Pri­soners before that high Tribunal. And those blessed powerful Spirits shall con­gregate the Righteous, to present them at his right Hand.

[Page 159]3. 'Tis great with respect to what shall be then done: He shall perform the most glorious and consummate act of his Regal Office, after a righteous Trial pronounce Judgment, upon which the eternal Destiny of the World de­pends. And immediately the Saints shall ascend with him to the everlasting Mansions of Glory, and the Wicked shall be swallowed up in the fiery Gulph for ever.

To define the particular Time when this shall be accomplish'd, is beyond the knowledg of the Angels of highest Dignity. 'Tis inter Arcana Imperii, among the Secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. 'Tis observable that God has revealed the Times precisely wherein some great Events should come to pass: after how many Years the Israelites should be freed from Egyptian Bon­dage: after what space of Time they should be restored from the Captivity of Babylon: when the Messiah should die for the expiation of Sin: but there is no designation by certain Characters of the particular Day, nor Year, nor Age, in any Prophecy, of our Saviour's coming to Judgment. And of this an Account may be given. The special [Page 160] End of those Predictions was, that those who lived to see their accomplishment, notwithstanding the seeming Impossi­bilities, might believe the Truth and Power of God to fulfil the Revelation of his Purposes for the Time to come. But at the last Day, all the Promises and Threatnings will be fulfilled, no­thing will remain to be the Object of Faith; and consequently it was super­fluous to declare the certain Time, since the exact accomplishment of it accord­ing to the Prediction, will neither be useful to confirm Believers, or convert Infidels.

Lastly, The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most convincing and com­manding Evidence of this Doctrine, that he shall judg the World. For he was charged with Blasphemy deserving of Death for this Testimony: I say un­to you, Mat. 26.64, 63. hereafter shall you see the Son of Mand sitting on the right Hand of Pow­er, and coming in the Clouds of Heaven. He dedicated Martyrdom in his own Sufferings. Now God in raising him from the Dead, confirmed the Truth of his Testimony by that visible Mira­cle, and the belief of it converted the World to Christianity.

[Page 161]I will now proceed to illustrate and prove the main Point, which is this: ‘That God will judg the World in Righ­teousness by Jesus Christ.’

The Mediator, who shall be Judg in the Union of both Natures, consi­dered as the Son of God, is essentially Holy and Righteous; and considered as the Son of Man, was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from Sinners. In him all Vertues shin'd in their absolute Purity: and who is so worthy and qua­lified to reward Holiness and punish Wickedness, as the holy One of God? 'Tis said of him, Thou hast loved Righ­teousness, and hated Iniquity, Heb. 1. therefore thy God hath anointed thee with Oil of gladness above thy Fellows: Consecrated him to the Regal Office, and enrich'd his humane Nature with Endowments suitable to it. 'Twas prophesied of him, The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, Isa. 11.2, 3, 4. the Spirit of Wisdom and Vnderstanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledg, and of the Fear of the Lord; and shall make him of quick understanding in the Fear of the [Page 162] Lord, and He shall not judg after the sight of his Eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his Ears. But with Righ­teousness shall he judg the Poor, and re­prove with Equity. Humane Judgments are often unrighteous from vicious Re­spects and Affections that pervert the Will, or fair appearances that deceive the Understanding: by Gifts or Guile, Innocence is cast, and Guilt acquitted: but the Judg of the World is inflexible to Partiality, and all things are entirely open to his sight. In the Act of Judg­ment he is represented sitting on a white Throne, Rev. 20.11. the Emblem of unspotted Ho­liness.

The Righteousness of God's Judicial Proceedings will appear by considering three Things.

  • I. The Equity of his Law, the Rule of the great and final Judg­ment.
  • II. The Evidence of the Facts and Matter, which shall be produc'd as the Reason of the Judgment.
  • III. The Impartiality of the Sen­tence.

[Page 163]I. The Equity of the Law which shall be the Rule of the last Judgment. This will appear by considering the Law of Nature, and the Law of Faith, in their Precepts and Penalties, annex'd to enforce the Observation of them.

1. The Law of Nature, which is the Rule of Mans Duty, will be the Rule of Judgment: for without the Law there is no Transgression; and consequent­ly a Person is unaccountable for his Acti­ons. This Law is composed of such Rules as are most becoming the wise and gracious Creator to give, and the reasonable Creature to receive and obey: for they entirely agree and concenter in his Glory and the Good of his Subjects. The Apostle adorns the Law with the most excellent Elogy, 'tis Holy, Just, and Good. Holy, Rom. 7.17. as it enjoins all Acts of Piety to God: the adoration of his Majesty resulting from his inexpressible Divine Perfections, the imitation of his Purity, a reliance on his Goodness, a re­signation to his most wise Providence, and a dutiful obedience to his Will. Such a sense of our dependance and sub­jection to God, is the proper Character [Page 164] of the reasonable Creature, as dignifi­ed above inanimate and mere sensitive Beings. The Law is just, as it directs us how to demean our selves in our va­rious Relations. Justice is the Cement of Societies, without which they dis­band and fall into Confusion. And the Sum of the Law is virtually compri­zed in one Rule, to do to others as we would they should do to us, than which nothing is more equal. 'Tis good to Man that keeps it, commanding no­thing but what is influential upon his Well-being here and for ever. It does not infringe his true Freedom, but al­lows him unstain'd Delights, and en­joins what is proper to advance and se­cure his Dignity, Felicity and Perfecti­on. It forbids every thing that defiles and debases him, and causes a degene­ration from his native Excellency. If we prescind in our thoughts the sacred Authority of the Law-giver, all the Precepts of the Law for their moral Goodness, deserve our esteem and choice, and entire observation. The sanctified Mind approves them univer­sally.Psal. 119.128. I esteem all thy Precepts concern­ing all things to be right, saith holy Da­vid. Nay, in the Wicked there is an [Page 165] intellectual assent to the Goodness of the Law, though the corrupt Will doth not embrace it: there are some Inclina­tions and Wishes to obey it, but con­troul'd by vicious Desires. 'Tis said of the convinced Sinner, Thou knowest his Will, Rom. 2.18. and approvest the things that are more excellent.

It may be objected, That the Law be­ing pure, and Man in a frail state, sur­rounded with innumerable Temptati­ons, to require perfect Obedience from him, and condemn him for his Failings, seems hard. The Law lays a restraint upon all the Senses, and forbids all flesh­ly Lusts: this may be easy to separate Souls, but for Men to live in the Body, as if they were out of it, to be always vigilant against the insinuations or at­tacks of Sin, is impossible. Thus the Carnal Mind is apt with some colour, to traduce the Righteousness of God's Government. But it will be clearly vindicated, by considering;

(1.) The Law supposes Man in a state of integrity, furnish'd with suf­ficient Power to comply with every Pre­cept, though free to fall from his Duty and Happiness. To command absolute Impossibilities, is tyrannical, and utter­ly [Page 166] inconsistent with the Nature of the Blessed God.

(2.) The first Man wilfully trans­gress'd the Law, and lost his Holiness: And Nature being poison'd in the Foun­tain, is corrupt in all the descendants from him. Mankind was justly de­graded in rebellious Adam, and is desti­tute of spiritual Strength to perform all that the Law requires.

(3.) This disability is vicious and culpable, and can be no pretence against the Rights of the Law-giver. A na­tural disability from the want of requi­site Faculties is a just excuse. 'Tis no Fault that a Man cannot stop the Sun, as Joshua did; nor calm a Tempest, as our Saviour did by his Word. But the disability that arises from a depraved disposition, renders a Person more guil­ty. And this is the present Case. The Will of Man is disobedient and per­verse, and as soon as it can exercise E­lection, chooses Evil; and by custom in Sin becomes more hardened and ob­stinate. And from hence the Prophet charges the contumacious Jews; Behold their Ear is uncircumcised, [...]. 6.10. and they can­not hearken. Were they uncapable of hearing the Divine Commands? No; [Page 167] but the Word of the Lord was to them a Reproach, they had no delight in it. And our Saviour upbraids the Pharisees, How can ye believe, John 5.44. which receive Honour one of another, and seek not the Honour that comes from God only? They were in high reputation for their Holiness, which made it impossible for them in an humble penitent manner to submit to our Saviour. In short, the primary end of the Law was the Happiness of Man in the performance of his Duty; and his first Sin, and consequent Impo­tence to fulfil it, was by his own fault. As the Obliquity of a Line cannot be ascrib'd to the strait Rule, but to the Error of the Hand that draws it. And from hence 'tis clear, that if God should with a terrible exactness require of Men unsinning Obedience upon the pain of Damnation, he could not be tax'd with Unrighteousness.

2. But God has been pleased to mi­tigate and allay the Severity of the Law by the Gospel; so that although the least breach of it makes a Person an Offender and obnoxious to Judgment, yet the Law of Faith propounds such merciful Conditions to the Guilty, that upon the performance of them, they [Page 168] may plead their Pardon seal'd with the Blood of their Redeemer, and shall be saved and crown'd in the Day of Judg­ment. We are commanded so to speak and do, James 2.12. as they that shall be judged by the Law of Liberty. Thus the Gospel is stiled, in that it frees the Conscience, though not from the Obedience, yet from the Terrors and Condemnation of the Law; for there was not the least signification of Mercy by it. But in the Gospel, the Grace of God most illustriously appears.

(1.) In that when our Innocence was lost, there may be a renovation of the Sinner by Repentance: to which the plenary Pardon of Sin is assured, Wash ye, Isa. 1.16, 17, 18 make ye clean, put away the evil of your Doings from before mine Eyes: Cease to do evil, and learn to do well, saith the Lord: and though your Sins be as Scarlet, they shall be white as Snow; though they be red like Crimson, they shall be white like Wooll. God will not par­don those who forgive and flatter them­selves in their Sins; but those who con­fess and forsake them, shall find Mercy.

(2.) Sincerity of Obedience is accep­ted where Perfection is wanting. When a Person with consent of Heart and se­rious [Page 169] Endeavours strives to obey the ho­ly Will of God, without the exception of any known Duty, or the indulgence of any Sin, God will spare him, Mal. 3.17. as a Fa­ther spares his Son that serves him. 'Tis not so much the Matter as the Al­lowance that makes Sin deadly. Where there is guile in the Heart, it will be severely imputed. 'Tis not according to some particular Acts of Sin, but the Tenor of the Life, that the state of Men will be decided.

(3.) Unfeigned Faith in the Lord Jesus, that is, such a belief of the Truth and Goodness of his Promises, as indu­ces us to receive him as our Prince and Saviour, as purifies the Conscience, the Heart and Life, will free us from Hell, and entitle us to Heaven, according to the Covenant of Grace. In short, the final Resolution of a Man's Trial and Case will be this; either he has per­formed the gracious Conditions of the Gospel, and he shall be saved; or re­jected them, and he shall be damned.

If it be objected, that the Terms of Evangelical Justification, though in themselves comparatively easy, yet are of impossible performance to Men in their natural sinful State. The Answer is clear:

[Page 170]1. That although the natural Man be dead in Sin, without spiritual strength to resolve and perform his Duty, and holy heat of desires to it; and nothing is alive in him but his corrupt Passions, that are like Worms generated in a Car­cass; yet by the Grace that is offered in the Gospel, he may be enabled to perform the Conditions of it: for in this the Gospel excels the Law, the Law discovers Sin, but affords no de­grees of supernatural Power to subdue it, and directs to no Means for the ex­piation of its Guilt▪ As the Fire in the Bush discovered the Thorns without consuming them. But the sanctifying Spirit,2 Tim. 1.7. the true Spring of Life and Pow­er, is the concomitant of the Gospel, as St. Peter declares, With the preaching of the Gospel the Holy Ghost was sent down from Heaven. 1 Pet. 1.12. And the Spirit by illu­minating, preventing, and exciting-Grace, assists Men to repent and be­lieve; and is promised in rich and li­beral Supplies to all that humbly and ardently pray for it. This our Saviour assures to us by a most tender and en­dearing Comparison: If ye that are e­vil, Luke 11.13. know how to give good things to your Children; how much more shall your Hea­venly [Page 171] Father give the Holy Spirit to those that ask it?

2. From hence it follows, that 'tis from the perverseness of the Will, and the love of Sin, that Men do not obey the Gospel. For the Holy Spirit never withdraws his gracious assistance, till resisted, grieved, and quenched by them. It will be no excuse, that Divine Grace is not conferr'd in the same eminent degree upon some as upon others that are converted: for the Impenitent shall not be condemned for want of that sin­gular powerful Grace that was the Pri­viledg of the Elect, but for receiving in vain that measure of common Grace that they had. If he that received one Talent had faithfully improved it, he had been rewarded with more, but up­on the slothful and ingrateful neglect of his Duty, he was justly deprived of it, and cast into a Dungeon of Horror, the Emblem of Hell. The Sentence of the Law has its full force upon impe­nitent Sinners, with intolerable aggra­vations for neglecting the Salvation of the Gospel.

Concerning the Heathens, the Scrip­ture declares,

[Page 172]1st. That although the Law pub­lish'd by Moses was not communicated to them, yet there was a silent, though less perfect Impression of it in their Hearts. The Law of Nature in the fundamental Precepts of Religion, and Society, and Temperance, was better known than obeyed by them. There­fore the Apostle endites them for atro­cious Crimes,Rom. 1.26, 27. such as natural Consci­ence consenting with the Law of God, severely forbids upon the pain of Dam­nation.Rom. 1.32. Thus 'tis said of the Heathens, Who knowing the Judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of Death; not only commit the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. And at the last Day,Rom. 2. As many as have sinned without the Law, as delivered to the Jews, shall be judged and perish, not according to that Law of Moses, but the Law of Nature that obliged them to do Good, and restrain themselves from Evil; of which the counterpart was not totally deleted in their Hearts.

2dly. Although the Revelation of Christ in his Person, Office and Bene­fits, is not by the preaching of the Gospel (that is necessary for the beget­ting of Faith) extended to all Nations; [Page 173] yet the Grace of the Redeemer is so far universal, that upon his account the indulgent Providence of God invited the Heathens to Repentance. His re­newed Benefits that sweetned their Lives,Rom. 2.4. and his powerful Patience in forbearing so long to cut them off, when their Impurities and Impieties were so provoking,Acts 14.17. was a Testimony of his inclination to Clemency upon their Reformation. And for their abu­sing his Favours, and resisting the me­thods of his Goodness, they will be in­excusable to themselves, and their Con­demnation righteous to their own Con­sciences.

We are next to consider the Sanction of the Law that enforces Obedience; and it will appear that God is not ex­tream, but wisely and justly ordained Eternal Death to be the punishment of Sin.

This will appear by considering,

1. The end of the Sanction is to preserve the Authority of the Law in its full vigour, to render it most solemn and awful; and consequently 'tis the wisdom of the Law-giver, to ordain a Punishment so heavy, as to overpoise [Page 174] all Temptations that might otherwise induce the Subjects to transgress its Precepts.

Therefore to Adam, the first and se­cond Death was threatned upon his Disobedience; and Fear, as a Sentinel, was planted in his Breast, that no guil­ty Thought, no irregular Desire, no deceitful Suggestion should enter to break the Tables of the Law deposited therein. Now since, notwithstanding the threatning, Man was so easily sedu­ced by the insinuations of the Tempter to break the Law, and disorder the Government of God in the World, 'tis evident that such a Restraint was not over-rigorous to secure his Obedience. I shall not insist on what is sadly visible since the first Apostacy, that there is in Mankind such a prodigious propensity to sensual things, that without the fear of Hell, no Arguments are strong e­nough to prevent the bold violation of the Divine Law.

2. 'Tis consented to by common Reason,—Adsit Regu­la peccatis, quae poenas irroget aequas. Horat. that there ought to be a pro­portion between the quality of the Of­fence, and the degrees of the Punish­ment. Justice takes the Scales into its hand before it takes the Sword. Now [Page 175] Sin against God is of such an immense Guilt, that an eternal Punishment is but equivalent to it. This will appear by considering,

(1.) The Perfections of the Law-giver, who is infinitely above us. One Act of Sin is Rebellion against God, and includes in it the contempt of his Majesty, before whom the highest An­gels cover their Faces with Reverence and Adoration,Isa. 6.2, 3. as unworthy to behold his Glory; and cover their Feet, as un­worthy that he should behold them: the contradiction of his Holiness that is his peculiar Glory: the denial of his Omniscience and Omnipresence, as if he were confin'd to the superior World,Job 22.14. and busy in regulating the harmonious Order of the Stars, and did not discern and observe what is done below: the defiance of his Eternal Power, and pro­voking him to Jealousy, as if we were stronger than he.

(2.) If we consider the Obligations of the reasonable Creatures to obey his Commands, the guilt of Sin rises pro­digiously. They were made by his Power, with this special character of Excellency, according to his Image: they were happy in his Love: they [Page 176] were endowed with intellectual Facul­ties capable to understand and consider their Obligations to their bountiful Lord. From hence it appears that Sin is the most unnatural Rebellion against God, and in it there is a concurrence of Impiety, Ingratitude, Perfidiousness, and whatever may inhance a Crime to an excess of Wickedness.

(3.) The meanness of the Motives that induce Men to prefer the pleasing their depraved Appetites before Obedi­ence to his sacred Will, extreamly ag­gravates the Offence. Of this we have a convincing Instance in the first Sin committed upon Earth. Deceitful Cu­riosity, flattering Pride, a secret plea­sure of acting according to his Will, join'd with the low attractives of Sense, blinded and transported Adam to eat the Mortal Fruit, against the express Command of God. And ever since, the vanishing shadows of Honour, or Gain, or Pleasure, are the only perswa­sives to Sin. And what can be more provoking, than for a Trifle to trans­gress the Law of God, and equally de­spise his Favour and Displeasure? Can any Punishment less than Eternal, ex­piate such Impieties? The Rules of [Page 177] Humane Justice may discover to us the Equity of the Divine Justice. 'Tis ordained by the wisest States, that ma­ny Crimes which may be done in a few minutes, shall be punish'd with Death, and the Offender be deprived of his na­tural Life for ever. And is it not most just, that Treason against the Great and Immortal King, should be revenged with Everlasting Death?

(4.) That which farther clears the Divine Justice in punishing Sin with Hell, is this, That God by his infalli­ble Promise assures us, that all who sin­cerely and uniformly obey him, shall be rewarded with Heaven for ever: a Blessedness most worthy the Greatness and Love of the Eternal God to bestow upon his Servants: a Blessedness that surpasses our most comprehensive Thoughts. Now if Everlasting Glo­ry be despised, what remains but end­less Misery to be the Sinner's Portion? The Consequence is remediless. If Sin with an eternal Hell in its Retinue be chosen and embrac'd, is it not equal that the rational Creature should inhe­rit his own choice? How just is it that those who are the Slaves of the Devil, and maintain his Party here, should [Page 178] have their Recompence with him for ever? That those who now say to the Almighty, Depart from us, we desire not the knowledg of thy Ways, should hear the dreadful Depart from me into ever­lasting Fire? As there will be no vain-boasting in Heaven, where the Reward is the Gift of pure Bounty; so there will be no righteous Complaint against God in Hell, where the Punishment is inflicted by powerful Justice. He that voluntarily sins, by consequence chuses the Punishment due to it.

(5.) The estimation of an Offence is taken from the disposition of him that does it. When 'tis done with pleasure and obstinacy, there is no place for Fa­vour. Now final Impenitence alone makes Sin actually and eternally damn­ing to the Sinner. Those that, not­withstanding all gracious Means, live continually in Rebellion against God; those that impenitently die in their Sins; those that desire to live here for ever, that they might enjoy their sweet Sins; those that are so hardned and naturali­zed in their Vices, that if they were revived and brought again into this World of Temptations, would certain­ly return to the Pleasures of Sin; is it [Page 179] not righteous that their incorrigible Ob­stinacy should be punish'd for ever?Poenae aequali­tas non nude spectanda ut in ponderibus & mensuris, sed expenso pro­posito, & voto ejus qui deli­quit. Grot. Is it not just that those who would conti­nue under the dominion of Sin, should forfeit all their claim to the Divine Mer­cy? For if we consider them as unre­pentant and irreclaimable from their Wickedness, there are in them the just provocations and true causes of God's final rejection and hatred: and if we consider God as revealed in his Word and Works, his essential Properties, Wisdom, Purity, Justice, necessarily work upon such Objects in such a man­ner. How zealous an Indignation did the Son of God express against the ob­durate Pharisees? You Serpents, Mat. 23.33. you Ge­neration of Vipers, how should you escape the Damnation of Hell? They in despite of all his Miracles, the equal Expres­sions of his Goodness and Power, re­sisted his Authority, blasphemed his Person, and slighted his Salvation. Now though other Sins are of an infe­riour Nature, and weaker Evidence, yet Obstinacy added to them, makes a Person unworthy and uncapable of Mercy. From hence the Misery of the Damned is without Redemption, with­out Hope, without Allay for ever.

[Page 180]II. I shall now proceed to consider the Evidence of the Facts that is pro­duc'd as the Reason of that Judgment.

The temper of Divine Justice is ve­ry observable in the particular Judg­ments recorded in Scripture. In the first process of Justice on Earth, we read that God made the enquiry of Adam, Hast thou eaten of the Tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? Gen. 3.11. and by palpable Evidence con­vinc'd him before he condemn'd him. Thus before the fiery Vengeance upon the wicked Cities, the Memory of which will never be extinguish'd; The Lord said to Abraham, Gen. 18.20, 21 Because the Cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their Sin is grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done according to the Cry of it that is come up unto me; viz. whether they were so numerously and excessively wicked; if not, I will know. God is pleased to incarnate himself in Man's Expression, to declare more sensibly to us, that he never punishes with preci­pitation, but after an equal trial of the Cause. Thus we read of that profane King of Babylon, Dan. 5.27. Belshazzar, That he [Page 181] was weighed in the Ballance, and found wanting, before he was sentenc'd to be deprived of his Kingdom and Life. And the Destruction of the Antichri­stian State is attended with solemn Hal­lelujahs for the Righteousness of that Judgment.Rev. 19.2, 3. And in the last Day the Righteousness of God's Proceedings shall be universally manifest and magni­fied. 'Tis therefore called the Day of the Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God. Now in order to this,Rom. 2.5. the Scripture informs us, that all the Works of Men shall be brought into Judgment, even every secret thing, Eccles. 12. ult. whether good or evil. And the Apostle saith, That we must all appear before the Judgment-Seat of Christ, 2 Cor. 5.10. that every one may receive the things done in his Body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

All Sins, whether secret or openly visible, shall be accounted for. Those Sins that have been acted in the most secret Retirement, so that no Eye of Man could take cognizance of them, Sins concealed from the Eye of the Day, the Light of the Sun, and from the Eye of the Night, the Light of a Candle, shall then be made manifest. Nay, the Sins of the Thoughts and [Page 182] Affections, of which Satan could not accuse Men, when the inward Fire of Lust or Malice is not discovered by the least smoak or sparkles, by no expressi­ons, all those shall be brought to Judg­ment:Rom. 2.16. God will judg the Secrets of Men by Jesus Christ.

The Sins of Omission of our Duty that are so numerous, from carelessness and diversions, from slothfulness and delays, and that now so little affect us; for we are more sensible of what we do than of what we have not done; the guilt of all these shall then be heavily charged on the Conscience of the Sinner. I was an hungry, and you gave me no Meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no Drink, was the Accusation of the Re­probates from the Judg himself. To him who knoweth to do Good, James 4. and doth it not, to him it is a Sin. The neglect of improving all the Means, Advanta­ges, and Opportunities of doing or re­ceiving Good, will be a great part of that Judgment. The Lord called his Servants to an account for the Talents committed to their Trust, and required Profit in proportion to their Number and Worth.

All Sins of Commission in Youth and [Page 183] Age, whether gross Sensuality, as Las­civiousness, Lusts, excess of Wine, Re­vellings, Banquetings, and abominable Idolatries, and all excess of Riot, shall be accounted for to him who is ready to judg the quick and the dead: 1 Pet. 4.5. or Acts of Unrighteousness to others. He that doth wrong, shall receive according to the Wrong he has done. And Sins of a les­ser guilt, for which the most are not touch'd with grief or shame,Col. 3.25. shall then be produc'd in Judgment. All the Sins of our Words, so easily committed, and not so easily observed, shall then be call'd to a heavy remembrance. The Judg himself tells us; I say unto you, that every idle Word that Men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. And if vain Words, the Signs and immediate Effects of a vain Mind,Mat. 12. shall sadly encrease our Accounts, how much more all the con­tentious, fierce and revengeful Words, the detracting, false, contumelious and injurious Words, the impure, filthy and contagious Words, the prophane, blasphemous and impious Words, that slow from the evil Treasure of the Heart? O their dreadful Number, and oppressing Weight!

[Page 184]And all the Aggravations and Cir­cumstances of Mens Sins, that raise their Guilt to such fearful heights, shall be enumerated in order to Judgment. For thus 'twas foretold; Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of his Saints, Jude 14, 15. to execute Judgment upon all, and to con­vince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly Deeds which they have ungodly committed; and all their hard Speeches which ungodly Sinners have spoken against him. And all the good Works of the Saints shall then be re­membred, even to the least work of Piety,Luke 21.3, 4. the giving of two Mites to the Treasury of the Temple; and the least work of Charity,Mat. 10.42. the giving a Cup of cold Water to a Disciple, upon the ac­count of his relation unto Christ. All their secret Graces and Duties shall then be rewarded.

The manner of this Judicial Evi­dence is set forth to us in Scripture, by the opening the Books; congruously to proceedings in humane Judgement, wherein the Information and Charge is produc'd from Writings for the con­viction of the Accused. Thus it was represented to St. John in a Vision; I saw the Dead, Rev. 20.12. small and great, stand be­fore [Page 185] God; and the Books were opened, and the Dead were judged out of the things that were written in the Books, according to their Works.

1. The Books of the Law and Gospel shall then be open'd in all the Injuncti­ons and Prohibitions, and our Lives compar'd with them. Our Saviour told the Jews, Do not think that I will accuse you to my Father; John 5.45. there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom you trust: not the Person, but the Law of Moses. And he denounced against those that reject the Gospel; the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judg them in the last Day. John 12.48. The Law is the exact Transcript of God's Sacred Will, the natural and immutable Rule of Righteousness; 'tis pure, forbids all Sin, and enjoins universal Holiness; 'tis spiritual, requires not only a con­formity in Words and Actions, but in­ward Sanctity in Mind and Heart: for the Soul is the principal part of Man, entirely open to God's Eye, the Maker and Judg of it. And the most enlightned Saints have but an imperfect knowledg of it here. This made ho­ly David, after his meditation upon its [Page 186] Purity and Perfection, to cry out in an Agony,Psal. 19. Who can understand his Errors! cleanse thou me from secret Sins. This, when opened in its spiritual and com­prehensive Nature, by a wise and zea­lous Preacher, darts a Light into the Conscience, and discovers many secret Sins, that like so many Serpents were still and quiet in the dark; but upon the sudden breaking in of the Light, fly upon the Sinner, and torment him with their mortal Stings. But when the Law-giver himself shall expound the Law in its full extent and perfecti­on, with respect to all the Duties it commands, and Sins it forbids, how guilty will Men appear? how unable to answer one Article of a thousand charg'd upon them?

2. The Omniscience of God will give most convincing Evidence of all our Works:Heb. 4.13. All things are naked and open to his Eyes, with whom we have to do in Judgment. The Psalmist declares the infinite perspicacity of his sight: The Darkness hides not from thee, Psal. 139. but the Night shines as the Day. As his Light and transcendent Brightness is invisible to us,1 Tim. 6.16. so our thickest Darkness is visible [Page 187] to him. We cannot see things in the Night, because it hinders the reception of the Rays, that insinuate into the Eye, and causes sight: but the Eyes of our Judg are like a flame of Fire, Rev. 1.14. dis­pelling all Darkness. From his Throne in Heaven, his piercing Eye sees thro' all the concealments of Mens Sins. Thou hast set our Iniquities before thee, Psal. 90.8. and our secret Sins in the Light of thy Countenance. He discovered the Sacri­ledg of Achan, the Lie of Gehazi, the Deceit of Ananias. Saul's Disobedi­ence in sparing the Amalekites devoted to Destruction,1 Sam. 15.21. had the colourable pre­tence of Piety, and, as a Sacrifice, was laid on the Altar. And David's Mur­der of Vriah was imputed to the chance of War as a sufficient excuse.2 Sam. 11.25. But though they might have deceiv'd others, they could not deceive God. He is in­timately present with the Souls of Men, that are unsearchable to the most dis­cerning Angels of Light, and knows all their most secret Designs and Desires, the deepest Seeds of their Actions. He alone has exact Scales to weigh the Spi­rits of Men, all the Principles, Aims and Affections that are inseparable from their Works. The Pharisees in [Page 188] whom Pride was the first Property, and Hypocrisy a second Nature, could not, with all their Saintly shews, impose on our Saviour:Matth. 23.14. for he knew what was in Man. He discovered their Alms to be not the effect of Charity but Ostentation,Matth. 6.2. and their specious Acts of Devotion to be a train to surprize some rich Prey.Matth. 23.14.

And this Divine knowledg of Men and their Actions is in order to Judg­ment. Thus the wise King declares, Doth not he that ponders the Heart consi­der it? Prov. 24.12. and he that keepeth thy Soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every Man according to his Works? And God himself testifies,Jer. 17.10. I the Lord search the Heart, even to give to every Man according to his Works. For this reason he is said to keep a Register of Mens Sins. Thus he speaks of the im­pure Idolatries of the Jews;Isa. 65.6. Behold, it is written before me, to signify his exact and actual knowledg, I will not keep si­lence, but will recompense, even recom­pense into their Bosoms. And at the Day of Judgment he will declare his Knowledg of their Sins before all, and the most secret shall be made evident, as if written in their Foreheads in the most plain and legible Characters.

[Page 189]And all the Goodness of the Saints shall then be revealed by the Judg.O si nobis animam boni viri liceret in­spicere, quam pulchram faci­em, quam san­ctam, quam ex magnifico, pla­cidoquefulgen­tem videre­mus! Senec. Their greatest Excellencies are invisible to the Eyes of Men: the Sanctity of their Aims and Affections, which gives Life and Value to all the Acts of Obe­dience, their secret Duties, wherein the sincerity and ardency of their Souls is most express'd, are only known to God. And such is the excellent humi­lity of the Saints, that the more they are enrich'd, and abound with the gra­cious Influences of the Spirit, the less they discover to the World; as the Ce­lestial Bodies, when in nearest conjun­ction with the Sun, and most fill'd with his Light, are least in appearance to the Inhabitants of the Earth. But there is a Book of Remembrance before him, for them that feared the Lord, Mal. 3.16, 17. and thought upon his Name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in the Day when I make up my Jewels: and I will spare them as a Man spares his Son that serves him.

3. The Conscience of every Man shall then be open'd,Rom. 2.15, 16. and give an accu­sing or excusing Testimony of all things: for these Acts of Conscience in the pre­sent [Page 190] Life, have a final respect to God's Tribunal. And though the Accounts are so vast, there shall be an exact A­greement between the Books of God's Omniscience, and of Conscience in the Day of Judgment. Now indeed the Conscience of Man, though never so inquisitive and diligent in examining and revising his Ways, is unable to take a just account of his Sins. As one that would tell the first appearing Stars in the Evening, before he can reckon them, others appear and confound his Memory with their number: so when Conscience is seriously intent in reflect­ing upon it self, before it can reckon up the Sins committed against one Com­mand, innumerable others appear. This made the Psalmist, upon the survey of his Actions, break forth in amazement and perplexity;Psal. 40.12. Mine Iniquities are more than the Hairs upon my Head, there­fore my Heart fails me. But it will be one of the Miracles of that Day, to enlarge the view of Conscience to all their Sins. Now the Records of Con­science are often obliterated, and the Sins written therein are forgotten; but then they shall appear in so clear an impression, that the Wicked shall be [Page 191] inexcusable to themselves, and Con­science subscribes their Condemnation. And O the formidable Spectacle, when Conscience enlightned by a Beam from Heaven, shall present to a Sinner in one view the Sins of his whole Life! Now Conscience is a Notary in every Man's Bosom; and though 'tis not always vo­cal, yet writes down their Actions. The Sin of Judah is written with a Pen of Iron, Jer. 17.1. and with a point of a Diamond 'tis graven upon the Tables of the Heart. But then it shall be compell'd to give a full Charge against the Guilty. Of this we have an infallible Presage in this World, when Conscience turns the Point against the Breast of a Sinner, and enforces the Tongue, by a secret insti­gation, to accuse the Person. And this Information of Conscience at the last will make the Sinner speechless: for the Book of Accounts with Divine Ju­stice, was always in his own keeping; and whatever is recorded there, was written with his own Hand. And how will those hardned Sinners that now kick against the Pricks of Consci­ence, be able to repel its strong and quick Accusations before that terrible Tribunal?

[Page 192]4. Other numerous Witnesses will appear to finish the process of that Day. Not as if God, that knows all things, wants Information, but for the publick Conviction of the Wicked.

Satan will then bring in a bloody Charge against them. Such is his Malignity, that he is a Complainer of God to Man, and by calumniating the Blessed Creator, seduc'd our first Pa­rents; and he is the Accuser of Men to God.Rev. He is stiled the Accuser of the Brethren before God day and night. Some­times falsly, as when he taxed Job, that his Piety was mercenary; and often truly to provoke the Divine Displea­sure. But though his Charge be just against them as Sinners, yet as Peni­tent Sinners they are absolved by the Judg upon the Throne of Grace. This we have represented to the Prophet Zechary, Zech. 3.1, 2, 3. Joshua the High Priest, a Type of the Church, standing before the An­gel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him; for that was the place of Accusers. But Christ the Blessed Reconciler interposed: And the Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath [Page 193] chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. But he will principally act the part of an Ac­cuser at the last Judgment. This is in­timated in that fearful Imprecation, Let Satan stand at his right hand: Psal. 109.6, 7. when he is judged, let him be condemned. He is now an active watchful Spirit, whose Diligence is equal to his Malice, and by glittering Snares, or violent Temp­tations, draws Men to Sin. But then he will be their most bitter Accuser, not from zeal of Justice, but pure Ma­lignity. Then he will aggravate their Crimes by the most killing Circum­stances; though in accusing them he endites himself, their Sins being usual­ly done by his sollicitations.

And the Wicked themselves will ac­cuse one another. In this World Fel­low-sinners usually conceal one anothers Wickedness, restrain'd by their own obnoxiousness. But then all that have been jointly engaged in the commission of Sin, will impeach each other. The voluptuous Sinners that have excited one another to Lust or Luxury; Come, Prov. 7.18. let us take our fill of Love till the Morn­ing. Come, I will fetch Wine, Isa. 56.12. and we will fill our selves with strong Drink, for to morrow shall be as to day, and much [Page 194] more abundant. All the charming Com­panions and Associates will with fierce­ness charge one another. And the ma­licious cruel Sinners that say, Come, let us lay wait for Blood, Prov. 1. let us swallow them up quick as the Grave, will then like enraged Furies fly upon one ano­ther. In all Sins of Combination, the inferiour Instruments will accuse their Directors for their pernicious Counsel, and the Directors will accuse the Instruments for their wicked Com­pliance.

And all the holy Servants of God, who by their Instructions, Counsels, Admonitions, Examples, have endea­voured to make the World better; es­pecially those who by their Place and Relation were more concerned, and more zealously and compassionately ur­ged and perswaded those under their Care to reform their Lives, and save their Souls, will give a heavy Testi­mony against them. Indeed the very Presence of the Saints will upbraid the Wicked, for their resisting all the warming, melting Intreaties, all the grave and serious Reproofs, all the ten­der earnest Expostulations, that were in­effectual by the hardness of their Hearts.

[Page 195]Briefly, the Scripture attributes to the Signs and Circumstances of Mens Sins, a vocal Evidence against them. Thus the Prophet speaking of the House built by Rapine and Extortion, The Stones of the Wall cry, Hab. 2.11. and the Beams answer them; and with concurrent Te­stimony accuse the unrighteous Builder. And St. James declares, That the Wa­ges of the Hireling, kept back by Fraud, James 5.3, 4. cry against the Oppressor. And the Rust of Gold and Silver treasured up, is a Wit­ness against the Covetous. And this by the recognition of Conscience will be a Memorial against them hereafter.

To what the Scripture speaks of this kind of Evidence of Mens Sins, I shall add a useful Representation fram'd by a Heathen, to signify that Wickedness, how secretly soever committed, shall be brought to light in Judgment. He tells us, ‘That the Soul of a very guilty Wretch, was after Death ar­raigned before one of the severe Judges below. And at his Trial, because his atrocious Crimes were done in secret, he stood upon his de­fence, denying all. The Judg com­manded his Lamp to be produc'd, that was an Eye-witness of his Wick­edness. [Page 196] The Lamp appear'd, and being demanded what it knew of him? answered with a sigh, Would I had been conscious of nothing, for even now the remembrance of his Villanies makes me to tremble: I wish my Light had been extinguish­ed, that the Oil that maintained had quench'd it. But I burnt with dis­dain, and cast about some Sparks to fire his impure Bed, and was grieved that my little Flame was so weak as not to consume it. I said within my self, If the Sun saw these Villanies, it would be eclips'd, and leave the World in Darkness. But I now per­ceive why I was constrain'd to give Light to him, that being a secret Spy of his Uncleanness, his Thefts and Cruelties, I might reveal them.’ But we that are enlightned by Faith, and know that God is omnipresent, and that what-ever Sin is done, though in the deepest and darkest recess, is manifest to him, Ipse timen­dus est in pub­lico, ipse in se­creto. Lucerna ardet? videt te. Lucerna extin­cta est? videt te. In cubile in­tras? videt te. In corde versa­ris? videt te. Ipsum time. have no need of Lucian's Lamp to make our Judg to be feared by us.

3. The Impartiality of the Sentence will make the Justice of God conspicuous before the whole World. This consists in two things.

[Page 197]1. There will be no distinction of Persons.

2. There will be a distinction of Causes in that Judgment; and accord­ing to their Nature, the Sentence will pass upon all.

1. There will be no distinction of Persons. In humane Courts the Judges sometimes extend and amplify, some­times contract or smother the Evidence, and are more rigorous or favourable in their Sentence, as they are biass'd to­wards the Persons before them. But the Righteous Judg of the World is un­capable of being inclin'd to Favour or Severity upon such base Motives. This is frequently declared in Scripture, to possess us with his Fear. If ye call upon the Father, 1 Pet. 1.17. who without respect of Per­sons judges according to every Man's Work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. No spiritual Priviledges upon which Men are so apt to presume, viz. that they are Members of the Reformed Church; that they are en­rich'd with excellent Gifts; that they enjoy the Ordinances in their purest Administration, will avail them with­out real Holiness in their Hearts and Lives. The being united to Societies [Page 198] of the most glorious Profession, of strictest Purity, and sublime Devotion, does no more prove one to be a real Saint, than the being of an eminent Company of Merchants proves one to be a rich Citizen. Those that bow the Knee and not the Heart in faithful Re­verence, that give the empty Title of Lord to Christ, without the tribute of Obedi­ence, will be rejected by him. Many shall say at the Day of Judgment, Matth. 7.22. Lord, Lord, we have prophesied in thy Name, and done many wondrous Works. Then will the Judg say, I know you not: Depart from me ye Workers of Iniquity. No degrees of Civil Greatness will be of any mo­ment and advantage in that day. Saint John testifies, I saw the Dead, small and great, stand before God, in an equal Line, to receive their Trial. Kings shall then be devested of their Imperial Titles, of their Crowns and Scepters, and their Robes of State, and only be accompanied with their Works. Of this we have an undoubted Proof, in that they are no more exempted from the common Law of dying than the meanest Slave. Death, that rugged Officer, arrests them without Ceremo­ny, and summons them to appear be­fore [Page 199] that Tribunal. The Royal Pur­ple could not protect Herod from being devoured by Worms. The Apostle speaks indefinitely in the fore-cited Place; He that does wrong, Col. 3. ult. shall receive for the wrong he has done; and there is no respect of Persons. No circumstan­tial Accidents can derive true worth, or truly debase Persons, but inherent Qualities, and the Actions that flow from them: and accordingly, the High and Holy God will accept or disapprove them. What St. Paul observes of the saving Grace of the Gospel being indif­ferently offer'd to all, is applicable in this case. He tells us,Col. 3.11. There is neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian nor Scythian, Bond nor Free, that are preferr'd or ex­cluded upon a Carnal account, but that all may equally partake of spiritual Blessings. Thus the difference of Na­tions will be no Priviledg or Prejudice to any in the Day of Judgment. The most rude and contemptible shall have as fair and equal a Trial, as the most polite and civiliz'd. The ignorant Barbarians as the Learned Grecians, that so much boasted of their vain Ex­cellencies above them. The Negroes in Africa as the People of Europe: for [Page 200] they have the same Relation to God their Maker, and as truly bear the im­pression of God stamped upon the Hu­mane Nature in the Creation, and there­fore common to the whole species of Mankind. An Image may be fashion'd in Ebony as well as in Ivory. Briefly, all Men are equally subject to his Laws, and shall be equally accountable for their Actions. The Rich and the Poor shall then meet together, without distin­ction, before God the Maker and Judg of them all.

2. There shall be a distinction of Causes, and every Man be judged ac­cording to his Works, the tenour of good Works, and the desert of bad. The Apostle assures us,Gal. 6.7, 8. That whatsoever a Man sows, that shall he reap: He that soweth to the Flesh, shall of the Flesh reap Corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap Life everlasting. The Harvest shall be ac­cording to the Seed, both in kind and measure.

Rom. 2.7.(1.) Those who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for Glory, and Ho­nour, and Immortality, shall obtain eter­nal Life. Rom. 6. ult. Indeed, eternal Life is the Gift of infinite Bounty, nay of pure [Page 201] Mercy, and Mercy excludes Merit.Jude 21. 'Tis said of the blessed Martyrs, who contended for the Truth and Purity of the Gospel to the Death, that their Robes were wash'd white in the Blood of the Lamb, not in their own Blood.Rev. 7.14. Their Right to Heaven was from the application of his Merits to them. But the Reward is dispens'd from God according to the Evangelical Law; not only as a magnificent Prince, but as a Righteous Judg. All those to whom the Gospel promises eternal Life, shall infallibly obtain it, and none that the Gospel excludes. Those who were sensible of their Sins, and cordially for­saking them, did humbly and entirely depend upon the Grace of God, through the blessed Reconciler and Saviour, shall be justified and glorified. Then the Judg will discern between unfeign­ed Faith and vain Presumption, and will justify the Faith of the Saints by the genuine Fruits of it, the Godliness, Righteousness, and Sobriety of their Lives, and a victorious perseverance in their Duty, notwithstanding all the pleasing Temptations or Tortures to withdraw them from it. Thus the A­postle expresses his humble Confidence; [Page 202] I have fought the good Fight, 2 Tim. 4.7, 8. I have fi­nish'd my Course; henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which God the Righteous Judg will give me at that day: and not only to me, but to all that love his Appearance. We read in the Description of the Last Judg­ment,Rev. 20.12. That the Book of Life was open­ed: the Names of all that were written in Heaven, shall then be declared, that it may appear they are saved by Grace. For it was his most free pleasure to se­lect some from the common Mass of Perdition, who were naturally as guil­ty and corrupted as others, and to pre­destinate them to Eternal Glory, and effectual persevering Grace to prepare them for it. The Saints are created in Christ Jesus unto good Works, which God hath before ordained, that they should walk in them. And the New Creation is as undeserved and entire an Effect of God's Love as the first was. But 'tis said, That every Man was judged accord­ing to his Works. For Eternal Election does not entitle a Person immediately to Heaven, but according to the Order establish'd in the Gospel. Thus the King at the last Day speaks to the Elect; Come, Mat. 25. 34. 35. ye Blessed of my Father, inherit [Page 203] the Kingdom, prepared for you before the Foundation of the World: for I was hun­gry, and ye fed me; naked, and ye clo­thed me.

And according as the Saints have ex­cel'd in Fidelity & Zeal in God's Service, they shall be rewarded with a more ex­cellent Glory. The Stars of the supreme Heaven are of a different brightness and greatness, as the Stars of the visible Fir­mament. Indeed all are perfectly hap­py, without Plus amant illud Regnum in quo non ti­ment habere consortes. Aug. de Civit. Dei. jealousy, that any is e­qual or superior to them in that King­dom. But God will crown his own Graces as the Saints have improved them. Our Saviour valued the Wi­dow's two Mites, as transcending all the magnificent Gifts of others, because of the degrees of Love in the Giver. There was a richer Mine of Affection in her Heart, Gold of a more noble Vein, more pure and precious than all their Riches. This was of greater price in God's Account, who weighs the Spirits in his Ballance. God will ac­cept and reward according to what a Man has, and not according to what he has not. 2 Cor. 8.12. He that improves but two Talents with his best skill and diligence, shall have a greater Reward than another that had [Page 204] ten Talents, and was remiss and less careful to employ them for his Master's Profit. The Rule will be exactly ob­served, He that sows bountifully, shall reap bountifully; and he that sows spa­ringly, shall reap sparingly.

And if God will be thus impartial in rewarding the Saints, much more in punishing the Wicked. For the re­muneration of our Duty is the effect of his most free Favour; but the recom­pences of Sin are due, and decreed by Justice, in Number, Weight, and Measure. The severity of the Sentence will be in proportion, as Mens Sins have been more numerous and heinous. Although all the Damned shall be equal­ly miserable in Despair, all broken on an endless Wheel, yet the degrees of their Torment are different. Sins of Ignorance are extenuated in compari­son of rebellious Sins against Knowledg. The first are like a Servant's dashing against his Master in the dark; the o­other like the insolent striking of him in the light: And as they incur greater Guilt, will expose to greater Punish­ment. Accordingly our Saviour pre­dicts,Luk. 12.47, 48. That the Servant which knew his Lord's Will, and prepared not himself, [Page 205] neither did according to his Will, shall be beaten with many Stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of Stripes, shall be beaten with few Stripes. Unactive Knowledg is worse than Ig­norance. For this reason the Case of Heathens will be more tolerable than of the Jews: for though some natural Principles were strong and quick in their Minds, that made them sensible of their Duty and Danger, yet they were not so clear and perfect as the Law delivered by Moses. Those Sins that were Infirmities in a Pagan, were pre­sumptuous in a Jew. And the Case of the Jews will be more tolerable than of disobedient Christians, who enjoy the Gospel less charged with Ceremonies, and more abundant in Grace than the Mosaical Dispensation. Those that have set before them the Life of Christ, the Model of all Perfection, that are ex­cited by such loud Calls to flee from the Wrath to come, and yet are deaf and re­gardless to the Commands, nay to the melting Invitations and precious Pro­mises of the Gospel, shall have a more intolerable Judgment than the most guilty Sinners, even the Sodomites and Sidonians that were Strangers to it. [Page 206] The precious Blood of the Son of God despised, induces a Crimson Guilt. And as Sins are committed with Pride and Pleasure, with eager Appetite and Ob­stinacy, the revenge of Justice will be more heavy upon Persons.

More particularly, Sins of Conse­sequence, whereby others are drawn to Sin, will heighten the Guilt, and the retribution of Justice will be to every Man according to his Ways, Jer. 17.10. and according to the fruit of his Doings.

This will principally concern Supe­riours in eminency of Place, whose Dignity has always a concomitant pro­portion of Duty. Their vicious Acti­ons are Examples, and their Examples more powerful Rules than their Laws, and give countenance to others to sin licentiously. They sin with an high Hand, and involve the Ruin of innu­merable Persons that depend upon them. As the Dragon in the Revelation, whose Fall from Heaven drew a Train of les­ser Stars with him. And all inferiour Magistrates, who by personal commis­sion, or partial connivance, encourage and harden others in Sin, and by their Power discountenance serious Reli­gion, and obstruct the Progress of [Page 207] it, heap up Damnation to them­selves.

And the Ministers of the Word, who are obliged to watch for the Souls of Men; and should, like the Heavens, by their Light, Influence, and Moti­on, their Doctrine and Lives, guide and quicken others in the Ways of Ho­liness; if by their Neglect and Wick­edness others are lost for ever, their Ac­count will be most heavy and undoing.

Of this Number are those, who by their unholy Conversation weaken the Authority and Efficacy of the Word, and more successfully perswade Men to do Evil, than by their Preaching to do well: for we are apt to take deeper impression through the Eye than thro' the Ear, and to follow the Physician's Practice rather than his Counsel. These perish not alone in their Iniquity. And such who are unfaithful Dispensers of the Treasures of their Lord, and by loose Doctrines corrupt the Minds of Men, to fancy a Mercy in God dero­gatory to his Holiness, that although they live indulgently in Sin, they may obtain an easy Pardon and Happiness at last. And such who employ their high Commission for low and base Ends: [Page 208] Those who instead of preaching Jesus Christ, and him Crucified, the pure and saving Truths derived from the Foun­tain of the Gospel, entertain their Hear­ers with flashy Conceits, and studied Vanities, to give a relish to Curiosity, and to have the applause of Fools, and obscure the native Majesty of the Word, enervate its Force, and render it powerless to Conscience.

And those who spend their Zeal in things of no moment to Salvation, and let fly bitter Invectives against those that dissent from them in unconcerning Matters, by which they harden Athe­istical Scorners in vilifying the Office of the Ministry as a Carnal Invention, set up and used for Secular Ends; and in­duce others to place Religion in Forma­lities and slight colours of it, as if Con­formity to needless Rites would ex­clude the Defects of substantial Holi­ness.

'Tis observ'd in the Chaldee Para­phrase, when God was inquiring of Cain concerning Abel, that he charges him, The Voice of thy Brother's Blood cries unto me: As if Cain were a Mur­derer not of a single Man only, but of a numerous Race that might have de­scended [Page 209] from his Brother. Thus a wicked Minister will be charg'd not only for murdering himself, but as many precious Souls as might have been converted and saved, if he had faithful­ly performed his Duty.

And Parents that should instil the Principles of Godliness into their Chil­dren in their early Age, and season their Minds with the knowledg of the Divine Laws, to regulate their Lives, and make them sensible of their Obli­gations to obey them, that should re­commend Religion to their Affections by an holy and heavenly Conversation, if by the neglect of their Duty their Children are exposed as a Prey to the Tempter, and ruin'd for ever, it will enhance their last Reckoning, and en­crease the Score of their Guilts beyond expression.

And Masters of Families, and all others that have Authority and Advan­tage to preserve or reform from evil those that are committed to their Care, and to instruct and command them to do what is pleasing to God, and profita­ble to their Souls, will be sadly account­able for those that perish by their neg­lect.

[Page 210]In short, we see by common Expe­rience, that Company and mutual Con­sent is a usual Motive to Sin; and ma­ny Persons that alone would with ab­horrence reject some Temptations, yet are sociably sinful. Now all those who by excitation or example, lead others to Destruction, as they are first in Sin, will be chief in Punishment. We read in the Parable of the rich Voluptuary,Luke 16.28. that being in Hell, he desired a Messen­ger might be dispatch'd from the Dead to warn his Brethren, lest they should come to that place of Torment. Is there such Charity in Hell to the Souls of others? Non orat pro fratrum salute quâ non tangi­tur reprobus, sed pro se ne ipsius tormen­ta ex consortio fratrum auge­autur. Brugen. No, that Furnace always burns with its proper Flames, there is not a spark of that Divine Fire there: But remembring how guilty he had been of their Sins, feared that his Tor­ments would be encreased by their co­ming thither. Society in endless Sor­rows does not divide, but reflect them.

Now if Damnation for Sin be such a Misery as is express'd in the Scripture by the most violent Figures and Words of the heaviest signification; if all the possible Tortures suffered here are but a Lenitive to the preparations of Wrath in Hell, how miserable shall those be, [Page 211] who, as if a single Damnation were a light matter, do not only commit Sin in their own Persons, but are in com­bination with Satan to corrupt and de­stroy others, and multiply Damnati­on against themselves? These treasure up Wrath against the day of Wrath.

Briefly; The whole Process of that Day, the Arraignment and Sentence will be so ordered, the Righteousness and Reasonableness of the Proceedings will be so manifest, as to clear the Judg, and confound the Guilty. God will be justified in his Sentence, and o­vercome when he judgeth.

I shall now come to apply this great Doctrine.

1. Let us from what has been dis­cours'd of Judgment to come, be ex­cited to confirm our Faith in this great and useful Doctrine; and by serious and frequent thoughts to apply it to our selves. Some within the Church have only a superficial belief of this, as a point of the Religion wherein they were educated; but carnal Affections, Fear, Hope, Love, and Desire, con­troul their Assent, as to its operation upon them. They believe in the ge­neral [Page 212] that God is the Judg and Re­warder of our Actions, and in the ab­sence of Temptation resolve to obey him: but when a strong Tryal comes from some temporal Good or Evil that is present, their Faith is negligent, and unactive to keep them from Sin. Now to make our Faith powerful, we must,

First, confirm it by convincing Ar­guments, that it may be an undoubt­ed Assurance, a certain Light, directive and perswasive in the course of our Lives. Some Doctrines of Religion, that are of an incomprehensible na­ture, and should be received with si­lent adoration for the Authority of the Revealer, are obstinately contradicted by some, upon a vain pretence that nothing is to be believed that will not endure the rigorous inquisition of Rea­son, and be comprehended by our nar­row Minds: but Reason, though darkned, sees the necessity of a future Judgment. Nature and Scripture te­stify there is a God, and that he has a Right, and Power, and Will to di­stribute the rewards of Vertue, and the penalties of Vice to his Subjects. To deny this, is directly against the [Page 213] implanted Notion of the Deity in the Heart of Man. There is a real difference between Moral Good and Evil, not depending upon Opinion, but arising from the immutable Nature of things, and the eternal Law of God. Otherwise, considered in it self, it were no more faulty to murder a Pa­rent, than to kill a Fly; nor to rob a Travellor, than to chase a Deer. But the Conscience of the most profligate Wretch would startle at such an Asser­tion. The disposition and admirable order of the World in its various parts, and the vicissitude of Seasons, declare to the observing Mind, that a most wise, good, and powerful God go­verns and preserves all things by his vigorus Influence. And can it be that the Divine Providence, so visibly wise and good in regulating the course of Nature, should be defective towards Man, the most noble part of the World? And can it be extended to hu­mane Affairs, if there be no other than the present state, wherein the Righte­ous are afflicted, and the Wicked pro­sper? where Sins of the deepest stain and the lowdest cry are unpunish'd; and the sublime and truly heroick Ver­tues [Page 214] are unrewarded? nay, where Vice receives the natural reward of Vertue, Honour and Felicity, and Vertue the just wages of Vice, Disgrace and Suf­ferings? 'Tis necessary therefore that there be a future State, and a righteous distribution of Rewards, according to the good and evil of Mens Actions here.

The Heathens disguised this terri­ble Truth under the Fictions of the Infernal Judges, Minos, and Rhadaman­thus, and Eacus. And the Furies and Vultures, and fiery Lake, which they thought tormented the Wicked in the next World, discover what apprehen­sions they had of the desert of Sin,Testimonium animae natura­liter Christia­na. Tert. and the punishment that certainly attend­ed it. The Guilty would fain be freed from the terrours of it, and strangle Conscience, that is bound over to give Testimony in the Day of Judgment, that they may sin without scruples. But though Fear be a troublesom and involuntary Passion, they cannot total­ly extinguish the internal sense and presages of future Judgment; but as the motions of Courage came upon Sampson at times; so Conscience awa­kened by sharp Afflictions, by sudden [Page 215] Dangers, and the approaches of Death, makes a sad deduction of past Sins, and forecasts cruel things. It cites the Offender before the enlightened Tribu­nal of Heaven, scourges with remorse, and makes him feel even here the strokes of Hell. Tho' the Sin be secret, and the guilty Person powerful, not with­in the cognizance or reach of humane Ju­stice, yet Conscience has a Rack within, and causes pain and anxiety, by fearful expectations of Judgment to come.

And Divine Revelation is most ex­press in declaring this great Truth. The Light of Faith is more clear and certain from the infallible Word of God, than the Light of Reason. Be­fore the Flood, Enoch in the early Age of the World foretold it; Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute Judgment upon all. Jude 14, 15.

Solomon under the Law repeats this Doctrine, that every secret thing shall be brought into Judgment, Eccles. 12. whether good or evil. And God himself speaks in the sublimest stile of Majesty, and swears by himself, for our firmer belief, As I live, saith the Lord, very Knee shall bow to me, Esa. 45.23. and every Tongue confess to God, the glory of his [Page 216] Justice. From whence the Apostle in­fers,Rom. 14.10, 11. So then every one of us shall give an account to God for himself. In the Gospel we have distinctly described the Person of the Judg,Mat. 13.42, 43. & 23.30, 31. the glorious At­tendants of his Coming, and the man­ner of his proceedings in that Day. Now the many Predictions in Scrip­ture so visibly accomplish'd in the Per­son of Jesus Christ,An verè extri­buit nobis omnia quae promisit, & de solo die judi­cii nos fefel­lit? Aug. and by him, give infallible assurance, that all his Pro­mises and Threatnings are equally cer­tain, and shall be fulfilled. As sure as our Saviour is come in his humble state, and has accomplish'd the Prophecies of his Sufferings, he will come in his Glory to judg the World.

Secondly. That the belief of eter­nal Judgment may be powerful in our hearts and lives, it must be actuated by frequent and serious thoughts. Faith gives life and efficacy to our notions of eternal things, and Consideration makes our Faith effectual. As the na­tural Life is preserved by the activity of the vital Principles, the Circulati­on of the Blood, the drawing of the Breath, the motion of the Pulse; so the spiritual Life is maintained by the exercise of Grace. The carnal Affecti­ons [Page 217] dare not appear before Reason and Conscience, when awakened by the serious believing Consideration of e­ternal Judgment. The Evangelists re­late, that when our Saviour was asleep in the Ship, a sudden Tempest arose that was likely to over-set it in the Sea: but awakened by the cry of his Disciples, Lord, save us, we perish; he presently rebuked the Wind, and a Calm ensued. Thus whilst the habit of Faith is asleep in the Soul, there will be great danger from the concurrent vio­lence of Temptations and Corrupti­ons; but when 'tis awakened by live­ly and powerful thoughts, it does Mi­racles in subduing the strongest Lusts. 'Tis monstrous and beyond all belief, did not sensible Experience make it e­vident, that notwithstanding the minds of Men are convinc'd of the certain­ty of the Divine Judgment, and the Recompences that immediatly follow, yet their Wills remain unconverted, and their Affections cold and unactive in their preparations for it: That such numbers who have so much Christia­nity as to believe that an irrevocable Doom will pass upon the Wicked, and so little Christianity, that they can­not [Page 218] justly hope to escape from it, yet are so careless of their Duty, nay joy­ful in their sinful courses, as if Judg­ment were a dreadless thing. What is the cause of this prodigious securi­ty? 'Tis the neglect of considering, that we must all appear before the Judg­ment-Seat of Christ, to receive according to the things done in the body, whether good or evil.

The next Cause of this stupidity is, that they put the Evil Day at a remote distance: as the Scorners said, the Vi­sion is for many Days: They study to be secure, and delay their preparati­ons, presuming to have time enough before them. Their Senses and Fa­culties are so imployed abroad in the World, they have neither leisure nor desire to think seriously of it. Their Hearts are so ravish'd with Dreams of Sensuality, and engaged in terrene Af­fairs, that they are very averse from exercising their minds upon such dis­pleasing Objects.

Vain Men! how willingly do they deceive themselves? The Judg him­self declares, Behold, I come quickly: His Throne is like a fiery Flame, and his Wheels as burning Fire; an Emblem [Page 219] of his swift coming to judgment. Can they be assur'd of Life one Hour? The Day of Death is equivalent to the Day of Judgment: for immediately after there is a final decision of Mens states for ever.

I have read of an excellent Preach­er, that in a Sermon described the last Judgment in all its Terrors, with such ardent Expressions, and those animated with such an affecting Voice, such an inflamed Countenance and Action, that his Hearers broke forth into pas­sionate Cries, as if the Judg himself had been present to pass the final Sen­tence upon them. In the heighth of their Commotion, the Preacher bid them stop their Tears and Passions, for he had one thing more to add, the most afflicting and astonishing Consideration of all the rest, That within less than a quarter of an hour, the Memory and regard of that which so transported them would vanish, and their Affe­ctions return to carnal Objects in their usual manner.

The neglect of Consideration makes even the Doctrine of Judgment to come to be without efficacy. 'Tis necessary therefore that the belief of [Page 220] this be so firmly seated in the Heart as its Throne, that it may command the thoughts to be very attentive to it, and may have Regal Power over our Wills and Affections, that our Lives may be ordered according to its Rules.

2. The Consideration of Eternal Judgment will vindicate the Proceed­ings of Divine Providence, and the ho­nour of God's governing this World, from the imputations of Unrighteous­ness. God is provoked every day, yet spares the Wicked, and heaps an abun­dance of Favours on them. His Pa­tience and Goodness they prophanely abuse, and become more obdurate and inflexible.Psal. 14.1. They are apt to blaspheme the Excellency of his Nature in their Hearts, thinking that he is ignorant or careless, impotent or unjust. They implicitly deny his Providence and Judgment, that he does not observe their Sins, and will not require an ac­count for them: Or else they interpret his Permission to be an Approbation of their Sins. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; Psal. 50. thou thoughtest I was such an one as thy self. Thus the Hea­thens transplanted the Vices of Earth to Heaven, and represented their Gods [Page 221] to be sensual, jealous, furious as Men, and accordingly expected an easy Ab­solution for their Sins. Or else the distance of Judgment to come so har­dens them, that they hear God's Thun­der with less fear, than Boys do their Squibs and Crackers. Because Sentence against an evil Work is not speedily exe­cuted, Eccles. 8.2. therefore the hearts of the Sons of Men are fully set in them to do evil. But how desperate is the madness of Sinners?Acts 17.130. God now seems to wink at their Sins, but hath appointed a day of Accounts. He suffers them to live in prosperity, but they are reserved to the day of Judgment to be punish'd, 2 Pet. 2.4. and possibly sooner: for sometimes they are cut off by visible Vengeance, to convince the World that the supream Judg does not bear the Sword in vain. But though 'tis delayed for a time, yet he declares,Deut. 32.34. that their Sins are laid up in store with him, and sealed up among his Treasures. To him belongs Venge­ance and Recompence. He is a mild Judge now, and his Clemency su­spends their Punishment; but Amos 8.7. Justice will not forget it. He threatens the secure Sinner, I will reprove thee, Psal. 50.21. and set thy Sins in order before thine eyes. [Page 222] How will the scornful obstinate Sin­ner change complexion and tremble, when an Army of Sins more terrible than so many Furies shall be ranged in Battel, and with fiery Darts wound his naked Soul? How will the stub­born Atheist, that pleases himself with vain imaginations of the Eternity of the World, and the Mortality of the Soul, be confounded when he feels the truth of Scripture-threatnings, to his eternal Sorrow? then all their Raile­ries will be turn'd into Lamentations. 'Tis not for Cum habeat in potestate vindictam ma­vult diu tene­re patientiam. Cyprian. de bon. Patient. want of Power that God spares the Wicked, but because they are always in his Hands, and he can make them as miserable as they are sinful when he pleases. 'Tis not through the neglect of Justice, but for most wise and holy Reasons, as shall appear in the last day, when a decisive irreversible Judgment shall be pronounc'd, and immediately inflicted upon them before the World. When an [...], &c. Cum hi novis­simi versus in Tragoedia Euripidis pro­nuntiati essent, totus populus ad ejiciendum & Actorum & Carmen con­surrexit uno impetu: do­nec Euripides in medium prosiluit pe­tens ut ex­pectarent, vi­derentque quem admira­tor auri exi­tum faceret Senec. Epist. 115. Actor at Athens spoke with admirati­on of Riches, as the most valuable Ac­quisition, and of the Felicity of Rich Men: the People were in an Uproar at the immorality of the Speech, and were ready to chase him from the [Page 223] Stage. But the Poet himself appea­red, and desired them to stop their Fu­ry till they saw the Catastrophe, the wretched end of that sordid Miser. Thus we are apt to accuse the ways of God when the Wicked flourish; but we should stop our tumultuous thoughts, for their end will absolve Divine Providence from all undue re­flections upon the account of their temporal happiness.

And the sound belief of this will rectify all mistaking apprehensions, and clear all perplexing appearances about the Sufferings of the Righteous here.

Indeed if we consider the holiest Men as they are Sinners, their Afflicti­ons are so far from blemishing the Ju­stice of God, that they are the signs of his Mercy: for all is a Favour on this side Hell to those that deserve it. David, an excellent Saint, acknowledg­eth the righteousness of God's Judg­ments with respect to himself. But when the Saints suffer for a righteous Cause; and, as the Psalmist expresses it,Psal. 4. for thy sake are we killed all the day long, and are counted as Sheep for the slaughter; there is not a visible corre­spondency between the Providence of [Page 224] God in his governing the World, and the unchangeable Rules of Justice, that those who do evil should suffer evil, and those who do well should be hap­py. As the Apostle speaks to the per­secuted Christians,2 Thess. 6.7. It is a righteous thing with God to recompence Tribulati­on to them that trouble you, and to you who are troubled rest with us. Now there is a day coming, when the Per­secutors shall be punish'd, and the Saints be rewarded for all their Suf­ferings, and the distribution of Re­compences shall be in the presence of the World, for the glory of Divine Justice. For the distinction that is made between Men at Death is pri­vate and particular, and not sufficient for the honour of God's Government. But at the last Day all Men that have lived in several successions of Ages shall appear, and Justice have a solemn Process and Triumph before Angels and Men. As some excellent Piece that is to be expos'd to publick view, is covered with a Traverse, to prevent the disturbance in the Working, and the discovery of the Work till brought to such perfection as will surprise with wonder those that see it: So God is [Page 225] pleased to cover his Proceedings for a time, but in the last Day there will be such a Revelation of the righteous Judgment of God, Rom. 2.7. that those who now doubt, or complain of his Justice, shall admire and adore it.

3. The belief of this Doctrine as it vindicates Divine Providence, so 'tis powerful to comfort the Saints under Persecutions for Righteousness sake; especially when Innocence is wound­ed with slanderous Darts, and Calum­nies are joyned with Cruelties, re­presenting them as worthy of publick Hatred. It was one of the Subtile Artifices of Julian the Apostate, to mingle the Images of the Heathen Gods with those of the Emperours, that the doing reverence (as the Chri­stians were commanded) to all toge­ther, might imply a dereliction and renouncing of their Religion, and their Simplicity seem Impiety: or if, jealous of slipping from their Profes­sion, they refused to do it, they might seem to deny the Expressions of ho­nour due to their Emperours, and be reputed to suffer not as Christian Mar­tyrs, but as Rebels. But the believing Consideration of God's righteous Judg­ment [Page 226] will make them despise the Censures and Reproaches of malicious Adversaries.1 Cor. 4.5. With me, saith the Apo­stle, it is a very small thing that I should be judged by Man's Judgment; he that judgeth me is the Lord. The severest Censure was of no more weight compar'd with the approbati­on of God, than the lightest Feather that flies in the Air, put in the Scales against the Globe of the Earth.Inter Judicem justum, & con­scientiam tu­am, noli ti­mere nisi cau­sam tuam. Aug. The assurance of a righteous Cause, and a righteous Judg, will preserve an inward and joyful tran­quillity of Soul in the midst of all the Storms of Reproach and Scandalous Imputations; like the calmness of a Haven when the Sea is tempestuous without. And this will fortify Be­lievers to bear with an invincible Cou­rage all the Violence that is offered to them for their fidelity to God. All the wrongs and injuries they endure, shall be redrest with infinite advan­tage. The extreamest Evils to which they are exposed for Christ, are like the Chariots of Fire sent from God, not to consume but conduct Elias in triumph into the highest Heaven. God will give them present Support, in­ward [Page 227] Consolations, and a future Crown. There is an appointed day when oppressed Innocence shall obtain the noblest Victory, and disgraced God­liness the most publick and highest Ho­nour.1 Pet. 1.7. The Faith of sincere Christians shall be found to Praise and Glory. They may suffer under the tyranny of Time, but shall Reign in the Kingdom of E­ternity. The belief of this, when firmly radicated in the heart, is so powerful as to make them glory in the sharpest Tribulations, and joyfully tri­umph over Satan, with his perverted malignant World. Cantando rumpitur Anguis. But alas, the Sin, and a great part of the trouble of the Saints, arises from their weakness of Faith, and not patient waiting for the Day of the Lord. When heavy Persecutions and great Distresses are continued by the restless Adversaries, they are apt through impatience and instability of mind, to be full of sorrowful Com­plaints that God delays their particular Deliverance. And as sometimes the Clock out-runs the motion of the Sun, that is the true measure of Time; so their hasty desires prevent the eternal Coun­sel of his Will, that has determined the [Page 228] period of the Miseries of his People, and of the Prosperity of the Wicked in the fittest time. And that he sus­pends his glorious Coming to judg the World in Righteousness, discou­rageth weaker Christians, and makes them ready to faint in the day of Adver­sity. 2 Pet. 3.9. But the Lord is not slack in per­forming his Promise, as Men count slack­ness. There is not the least reason to question his Fidelity and Power, or to suspect his Love and Remembrance of his People. And as the Stars of Heaven enlighten the Earth, but the Candles on Earth cannot enlighten the Heavens: so the Wisdom of God's Counsel and Providence should direct us patiently to expect his appointed time, but our glimmering Reason can­not direct him.

4. The serious belief of future Judg­ment is the most effectual restraint from secret Sins. Men are apt to encourage themselves in evil upon the account of secrecy: 'tis the usual tinder of Tem­ptations. If solitude and silence, if the darkness of the night, or any dis­guises may conceal their Wickedness from humane Eyes, they are bold and secure as to God. The Psalmist de­clares [Page 229] what is the inward principle that acts them, what is the language of their hearts:Psal. 94.5, 6. All the workers of Ini­quity boast themselves, they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it. But O the brutish fol­ly of Men, to think, that because they do not see God, that he does not see them. As if one should shut his Eyes in the face of the Sun, and do some foul abominable thing, thinking himself to be unseen, because he sees no person. How vain is the impure diligence of the Adulterer, the crafty diligence of the Deceiver, the sollici­tous diligence of other Sinners to hide things from the Judge of all? Shall not God search it out, for he knows the very secrets of the heart? What a confound­ing discovery will be made of secret Wickedness at the last day? Here ob­scurity is the mask of Shame that con­ceals it from the World. Or if only Children and Fools that are not capable to judg of the indecency and turpitude of Actions, be Spectators, Men are not touch'd with shame for foul things. But then their Wickedness shall be dis­played before God, the holy Angels and Saints. The actual belief of this would [Page 230] deprive Satan of one of his greatest Ad­vantages, and be a blessed Preservative from many Sins that allure the consent by the temptation of secrecy. A con­sidering Christian will reject them with indignation, saying with Joseph, How can I do this great Wickedness, and sin against God? The Sins undiscove­red and upunish'd by temporal Tribu­nals, shall then receive a just recom­pence.

5. The remembrance of that strict Judgment, is the most natural and powerful remedy against sensual Temp­tations that so easily insinuate and en­gage the Hearts of Men. S. Peter rec­koning up the Heathens Sins,1 Pet. 4.3, 4. Lascivi­ousness, Lusts, excess of Wine, Revel­lings, and abominable Idolatries, tells the Christians, that the Gentiles thought it strange that they did not run with them to the same excess of riot. As the Di­sciples when our Saviour walk'd upon the Waters, thought he had been a Spirit, judging that no real Body could tread on them without sinking: thus Men are apt to think it impossible to restrain their carnal appetites when al­lured by pleasing Objects. But the belief of the Terrors of the Lord, will [Page 231] damp the sensual Affections when most strongly enclin'd to forbidden things, and extinguish delight in Sin: for De­light and Fear are inconsistent. There­fore the wise Preacher gives this Counsel, Rejoice, O young Man in thy youth, Eccles. 11. and let thy Heart chear thee in the Days of thy Youth, and walk in the ways of thy Heart, and sight of thine Eyes: but know thou for all these things God will bring thee to Judgment. This will change the apprehensions of the mind, and alter the taste of the appetite, and make the most enticing and irresi­stible Lusts, the objects of our great­est detestation.

6. The consideration that the Son of God, clothed with our Nature, shall judg the World, affords strong Conso­lation to his People, and is a motive of great terror to the Wicked. How comfortable is it to his People that he who loved them above his Life, and was their Redeemer on the Cross, shall be their Judg on the Throne? He is the same Jesus Christ, yesterday, to day, and for ever; the same indulgent Sa­viour, in the exaltation of his Glory, as when under Sufferings, Reproach and Shame. He is described in that [Page 232] glorious Appearance, by the conjunct Titles of his Majesty and Power, The Great God;Tit. 12.13. and of his Compassion and Mercy, Our Saviour, to signify his A­bility and Affection to make them hap­py. When he comes with a heavenly Train of Angels to Judgment, he will be as tender of his Servants, as when he suffered for them in his humble state. He that paid their Debt, and seal'd their Pardon with his own Blood, will certainly publish the Acquit­tance. How is it possible he should condemn those for whom he died, and who appear with the impressions of his reconciling Blood upon them? How reviving is it that Christ, whose Glory was the end and perfection of their Lives,Phil. 1. shall dispose their states for e­ver? that he, who esteems every act of their Charity and Kindness done to his Servants as done to himself, shall dispense the blessed Reward? Then the King will say to them plac'd on his right hand, Mat. 25. Come, ye blessed of my Father, in­herit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the World. O the transports of Joy to hear those words from his Life-breathing Lips! The Prophet breaks forth in an Extasy, [Page 233] How beautiful are the feet of the Mes­sengers of Peace, those that bring glad-tidings of Salvation? but how much more beautiful is the face of the Author of our Peace and Salvation? O how full of Serenity, and Clemency, and Glo­ry! The expectation of this makes them languish with impatience for his Coming. Though the Preparations of that Day are so dreadful, when the Sun shall be darkned, Acts. 2. and the Moon turned into Blood, and the Stars fall like leaves in Autumn, yet 'tis stiled a Day of Refreshment to the Saints.

But how dreadful will his Coming in Majesty to Judgment be to the Wicked!Videtis vulne­ra quae inflix­istis, agnosci­tis latus quod pupugistis, quoniam & per vos, & propter vos a pertum est, nec intrare vo­luistis. Aug. They shall see him whom they have pierced, and with bitter lamenta­tion remember the Indignities offered to him. What Excuses can they al­ledg, why they did not believe and o­bey the Gospel? Our Saviour revealed high Mysteries, but confirm'd them with great Miracles. He requir'd strict Holiness, but offer'd Divine Grace to enable Men to do his Will. He pou­red forth his Spirit upon them, but their Hearts were as hard as the Rocks, and as barren as the Sands. Then he will reproach them for their insolent Con­tempt [Page 234] of all the Perfections of his Di­vine Nature, and the bleeding Suffer­ings of his Humane Nature to recon­cile them to God: for their undervalu­ing neglect of the great Salvation, so dearly purchased, and so freely and ear­nestly offered to them: for their Obsti­nacy, that the purple Streams that flow'd from his Crucified Body, that all the Sorrows and Agonies of his Soul were not effectual Perswasives to make them forsake their Sins: for their pre­ferring the Bramble to reign over them, Satan the Destroyer of Souls, and un­grateful rejecting the true Vine, the bles­sed Saviour, who by so many miracu­lous Mercies, sollicited their Love, and deserved their Service; this will make the Sentence as just as terrible, and the more terrible because just. This will exasperate the Anguish, that the Gospel shall be a savour of Death to them; and the blessed Redeemer pro­nounce them cursed, and dispatch them to everlasting Fire, prepared for the De­vil and his Angels for ever. The Judg­ment of the Redeemer will be more heavy than that of the Creator. For all the Riches of his Goodness which they despised, shall be the Measure of [Page 235] their Guilt and Woes. All the Means of Grace used for their Conversion, but frustrated by their Perversness, shall be charged upon their Score. What Con­sternation will seize the Wicked, when ten thousand Accusers shall rise up in Judgment against them, and not one Advocate appear for their defence? Satan will be ready to aggravate their Sins above his own: For altho the su­perior Excellence of his Nature and State, did heighten his Obligation, and consequently his disobedience to his Creator; and that he sinn'd of him­self, derived a Guilt upon him exceed­ing that of Man's original Sin, who was seduced to his Ruin: yet in that Justice was so quick and severe, that the Angels, after their Sin, were immediately ex­pell'd from their blessed Habitation, no space of Repentance was allowed; and no Mediator interpos'd to obtain Terms of Reconciliation with the in­censed Deity, their Doom was final and irrevocable: but after our rebelli­ous Sin, the Son of God, such was his immortal Love, was willing to be mor­tal to redeem sinful Men, and freely offer'd himself a Sacrifice to atone the divine Displeasure: and a Day of Grace [Page 236] and Long-sufferance was granted, and many compassionate Invitations were sent from Heaven to soften their stony Hearts: But they neglected and de­spis'd the Grace of the Gospel, and wilfully excluded themselves from Mercy. In this respect they are more guilty than the fallen Angels; and Ju­stice will revenge the Abuse of Mercy. Do they hope to soften the Judg by Submissions and Deprecations? Alas, he will be inflexible to all their Prayers and Tears. The Lamb will be then a Lion arm'd with Terrors for their De­struction. Or can they appeal to an higher Court to mitigate or reverse the Sentence? No, his Authority is su­pream, and confirm'd by the immuta­ble Oath of God. Or, do they think to resist the execution of the Sentence? Desperate Folly! The Angels, not­withstanding their numbers and strength, could not for a moment escape his revenging Hand. The whole World of Sinners is of no more Force against his Wrath, than the light Dust against a Whirlwind, or dry Stubble against devouring Fire. Or do they think, by a stubborn Spirit, to endure it? Self-deceiving Wretches! If the correction [Page 237] of his Children here, tho allayed, and for their amendment, make their Beau­ty and Strength consume away as a Moth, how insupportable will the Vengeance be on his obstinate Enemies? Who knows the Power of his Anger? Who can sound the Depths of his Displea­sure?

7. The Consideration of Eternal Judgment should be a powerful Incen­tive to prepare our selves for it. The Affair is infinitely serious, for it con­cerns our Salvation or Damnation for ever. Yet the Pleasures and Business of the World fasten Men in Security, and hinder the intire application of their Minds to prepare for their last Account. 'Tis an awful Caution of our Saviour to his Disciples, Take heed lest at any time your Hearts be overchar­ged with Surfeiting and Drunkenness, and Cares of this Life, and so that Day come upon you unawares: For as a Snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the Earth. A dissolute volup­tuous course of Life, is join'd with a brutish neglect of God and the Soul: and the indulging the carnal Appetite, though not in such enormous Excesses as the Prophane are guilty of, alienates [Page 238] the Minds of Men from due considering their Spiritual State, and lessens the preventive Fear that makes us serious and diligent to be found of God in Peace. And others are so involved in secular Business, that they are not at leisure, to regard the one Thing necessa­ry: their Minds are so overshaded with the Cares of the present World, they cannot take a right Aspect of the World to come. The Flood broke in upon the old World, whilst they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in mar­riage, buying and selling, and destroyed them all: The last Fire will devour this World in the same wretched in­cogitancy, and stupid neglect to pre­pare themselves for Judgment. As it was in the Days of Noah, so shall it be in the Days of the Son of Man. 'Tis a divine and solemn Warning, Behold, I come as a Thief in the Night, blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his Garments, lest he be found naked, without the Robe of Holiness, and be expos'd to con­founding shame in that Day. When secure and careless Sinners shall say, Peace and Safety, sudden destruction will come upon them, as Travel upon a Woman with Child; as surprisingly, as irresi­stibly, [Page 239] and they shall not escape.

But the Wise foresee the Evil, and e­steem it their incomparable Interest to secure the Favour of the Supream Judg. 'Tis the Inference the Apostle makes from the Certainty of our appearing be­fore the Righteous Judg,2 Cor. 5.9. Wherefore we labour, that whether present, or absent, in this or the next Life, we may be ac­cepted of him. This was his great De­sign, his chief Care, his Duty and his Glory: Never did any person more ardently aspire, and ambitiously en­deavour for the obtaining a Kingdom, than he did to secure his own Accep­tance with the Lord. In order to this, I will lay down the Rules of our Ac­ceptance in that Day, and conclude the Argument.

First, Unfained Faith in the Lord Jesus is absolutely necessary, that we may be accepted. This is such a be­lief of his all-sufficient Merits, and his merciful inclination to save us, that the guilty and self-condemned Sinner entirely consents to the Terms of the Gospel, as well as to the Priviledges of it, with a reliance upon his Merits, and a resolution to obey his Precepts. He is a Priest on a Throne, a Prince, and [Page 240] a Saviour, and so must be acknowledg­ed and received. Upon this conditi­on his Righteousness is freely impu­ted to us for our Justification unto Life, without which we must perish in our Sins. For,

1. The best Saints are guilty and deeply obnoxious to the Law, and the Judgment of God is invariably accord­ing to Truth; so that appearing in their Sins, they will be cast for ever. God's Tribunal, like that of the severe Ro­man Judg, is Reorum Scopulus, a Rock that dashes in pieces all the Guilty that come to it. Therefore the Psalmist so earnestly deprecates, Enter not into Judgment with thy Servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no Man living be justified. And the Apostle, tho' a tran­scendent Saint, devests himself of his own Righteousness, that he may be entirely covered with the Righteous­ness of Christ, and renounces all things, that he may be found in him as his Surety in that Day of Accounts, and obtain Pardon by vertue of his Satisfaction for Sin. We cannot per­fectly obey the Commands, nor ap­pease the Displeasure of God: but the expiatory Sacrifice of Christ propitiats [Page 241] the Divine Justice. This alone can make us stand in Judgment before the fiery Law, and the fiery Tribunal, and the Judg who is a consuming Fire, to all the Guilty that appear in their Sins be­fore him. The Blood of the Media­tor has sprinkled the Throne of God in Heaven; and our Consciences being sprinkl'd with it by an unfeigned Faith, we may appear before God the Judg of all with an humble confidence, and enter into the Holy of Holies, the Ce­lestial Sanctuary with joy.

2. Not only the pardon of our Sins, but the acceptance and rewarding of our Services with eternal Glory is upon the account of our Saviour's compleat Righteousness. There are defilements in the Persons, and defects in the works of the Saints. Their most holy and fervent Prayers are perfum'd by the Incense of his Intercession,Rev. 8.3. and so be­come grateful to God. Our best Ver­tues are mix'd and shadowed with Im­perfections; but in him all Graces were conspicuous in their consummate de­grees. Our Obedience, supposing it perfect, is of no desert: When we have done all, we are unprofitable Servants: but his Obedience was infinitely meri­torious [Page 242] by the union of the Deity with his humane Nature, and is the foun­dation of the excellent Reward. Not that his Merits derive a value to our Works to make them worthy of eter­nal Glory: as some noble Mineral in­fused into Water, that is in it self without taste or efficacy, gives it a me­dicinal tincture and Virtue; for this is impossible, since the infinite Dignity of his Person, and his most perfect habitual & actual Holiness, that are the fountains and reasons of his Merits, are incommu­nicable to our Persons and Works. But the active and passive Obedience of Christ is so satisfactory and meritorious, that God is pleased graciously to re­ward with the Crown of Life the mean Services of those who are by a live­ly and purifying Faith united to him.

Secondly, Sincere Obedience, that is an uniform and entire respect to all the Commands of God, will alone be ac­cepted in that day: for his Authority runs through all, and binds them on the Conscience. David had this Te­stimony from God himself, that he was a Man after his own Heart, that fulfil­led all his Will. And St. John refers the decision of our state to this, If our [Page 243] Hearts condemn us of any allowed Sin of omission or commission,1 John 3.20, 21. much more God will, who is greater than our Hearts, and knows all things. But if the illumi­nated tender Conscience doth not con­demn us of insincerity, we have confidence towards God, that he will spare and ac­cept us notwithstanding our Frailties, and give free and safe access into his Presence. The lives of many are che­quer'd with a strange disparity, they are restrain'd from some Sins of appa­rent odiousness, but indulgent to o­thers; they are strict in some Du­ties, but loose and slack in others, as if they hoped by way of commuta­tion to be accepted of God; to expi­ate their Delinquencies in one kind by supererrogating in another. Some are painted Pharisees in the duties of the first Table, very exact in the for­malities of outward Devotions, but gross Publicans in the duties of the se­cond; careless of Justice and Equity, and Charity to Men: Others are in appearance strictly moral in the dis­charge of their duties to Men, and negligent of their Obligations to God. But partial Obedience can never endure the trial of Conscience, much less of God. For what is the weak [Page 244] light of our Minds, to the pure Eyes of his Glory? It will make us lia­ble to inward rebuke now, and to o­pen confusion at the last.2 Cor. 1.12. St. Paul's re­joycing was from the Testimony of his Conscience, that in simplicity and godly Sincerity he had his Conversation in the World: and, as he expresses it in a­nother place, it was his daily Exercise to have a Conscience void of Offence to­wards God, and towards Men. Tho our conquest of Sin be not compleat, yet our resolution and endeavours must be to mortify it in every kind. Tho our Obedience has not the perfection of Degrees, we must be equally re­garding the Divine Law. If there be any secret-favour'd Sin, either of Omis­sion or Commission, it will render our Petitions unacceptable at the Throne of Grace, and our Persons at the Throne of Judgment; If I regard Iniquity in my Heart, the Lord will not hear my Prayer. The Law requires the perfor­mance of our Duty without abatement, or denounceth the Penalty without al­lay or mitigation: The Gospel has not relax'd the strictness of the Law, as 'tis the Rule of Life, but as it was the condition of obtaining Life. Sincere Obedience is accepted by that gracious [Page 245] Covenant, where the Legal Perfection is wanting; but that is indispensably required of all. I may illustrate this by a Passage of Alexander the Great, who being desirous to learn Geometry, applied himself to a skilful Instructer in it. But his warlike Disposition made him more capable to conquer, than to measure the Earth; so that tired with the first Propositions, he desir'd his Ma­ster to make the Scheme more clear and plain, and easy to him: Cui praecep­tor: ista in­quit omnibus eadem sunt, aeque difficilia. Senec. Ep. 91. To whom the Master replied, that the Theorems of that Science were equally difficult to all, and requir'd the same attention of Mind to understand them. Thus the Gospel of Mercy requires of all sincere Sanctification, and serious en­deavours to perfect Holiness in the Fear of God, and without this none shall be exempted from Condemnation.

To the sincerity of Obedience, I shall add a more restrained Notion of it as respecting Religion. The Duties of Piety consist of an outward and inward part; and the one without the other, is but as a Carcass without a quickning Soul. Now there will be an exquisite Anatomy of the Heart in that Judg­ment, a discovery of all the Principles [Page 246] and Motives by which Men were act­ed; and then he that is a Saint inward­ly, in the Spirit, who with pure Aims and holy Affections hath served God, shall have praise of him. And those who have us'd God to injoy the World, that have assumed pretences of Piety for secular Ends, shall be reproved. This will be a cause of wonder in that day, that many who are highly esteemed by Men as excellent Saints, shall be an abomination to God. That in the broad way to Hell thousands go thither is sad beyond expression, but not strange at all: but that in the Path of Heaven any should descend to Hell, is astonish­ing. That those who live without God in the World, in the prophane neglect of his Worship, in a dissolute disor­derly course, should fall under Con­demnation, is believed of all: but that those who have appeared zealous in Religion, shall be at last rejected, is contrary to universal expectation. And not only the gross Hypocrite that de­ceives others, but he that deceives him­self by the external practice of holy Duties, without correspondent lively Affections; that prays with that cold­ness as if he had no desire to be heard, [Page 247] and hears with that carelesness as if he had no desire to be sanctified by the Word, and is conversant in other parts of divine Service in that slight man­ner, as if he had no design to be saved, shall by a convincing upbraiding Light see his Wickedness in dishonour­ing that God whom he pretended to worship, and neglecting his Soul. When the Upright as pure Gold shall be more radiant by the Fire, the Insin­cere like reprobate Silver shall not en­dure that severe trial.

Thirdly, The frequent discussion of Conscience, and reviewing our Ways, is necessary in order to our comfortable appearing before our Judg. This is a Duty of constant Revolution: for while we are in Flesh, the best Saints, notwithstanding all their vigilance and diligence, are overtaken by surprizal, and sometimes overborn by strong temptations; and 'tis more necessary to beg for daily Pardon, than for our daily Bread. Under the Law, if any one had by touching a dead Body contract­ed Uncleanness, he was to wash his Clothes in the Evening, and not to lie down in his Uncleanness. This was typical of our Duty, that we should [Page 248] wash away our sinful Defilements eve­ry day in the purifying Fountain of Christ's Blood, that is set open for Sin and for Vncleanness. And the Method of the Gospel to obtain the grant of Pardon, and our comfortable Sense, and the blessed Effects of it is this, there must be a mournful Sight, and serious Acknowledgment of our daily Sins, and a judging our selves by the dome­stical Tribunal in our Breasts as worthy of Condemnation: for though we can­not satisfy Divine Justice for the least Sin, we must glorify it; and with hu­mility and fervency desire that God would graciously forgive our renewed Sins, with unfeigned Resolutions and Care against them for the future. Thus we are to sue out our Pardon for Sins committed every day. And whereas ma­ny Errors in regard of our frailty, and their fineness, do slip from us, we should with contrite Spirits implore the divine Majesty to cleanse us from our secret Sins, Psal. 19.12. such as through ignorance or inadvertency escape from our obser­vation. If we are obliged to be re­conciled to an offended or offending Brother before the night, and the Sun must not go down upon our Wrath, much [Page 249] more to be reconciled to an offended God, that his Displeasure may be a­toned. The Morning and Evening-Sa­crifice was a Figure of the constant use of Christ's Merits and Mediation for us. The secure neglect of renewing our Repentance for our renewed Sins, deprives us of the Comforts of the Co­venant, and will make the thoughts of Judgment as heavy as Mountains upon the Conscience, when 'tis awakened out of its slumber. But when the Soul's Accounts are kept clear with Heaven every day, O what a blessed Rest does the penitent Believer enjoy in the Favour of God! O the divine Calm of Conscience, when our Debts are cancell'd in the Book of God's Re­membrance! If we should be unex­pectedly summoned to appear before the Judg of all, the sight of our Sins will rather excite thankful Affections, and joyful Praises of God for his Mercy, that he hath pardoned them; than fearful despairing thoughts of his Mer­cy, that he will not pardon them.

And as this considering our ways leads to Repentance, and is a Remedy for past Sins, so 'tis a powerful Preser­vative from Sins afterwards. For as [Page 250] in War the greatest care is to fortify the weakest Part of a besieged Town, and make it impregnable; so a Chri­stian, by the experience of his infir­mity and danger, will be more wise and wary, more circumspect and resol­ved against those Sins whereby he has often been foil'd, to prevent the daily incursion, and sudden surreption by them. And according to the degrees of our Innocence, we have confidence of Acceptance with God in Judgment.

Fourthly, Let us improve with a wise and singular diligence the Talents committed to our Trust: for in that day we shall be responsible for all that we have received. All the Blessings we possess, whether natural, our Life, our Faculties, our Endowments, our Health and Strength; or Civil, Ho­nour and Dignity, Riches and Reputa­tion; or Spiritual, the Gospel in its Light and Power, the Graces and As­sistance of the Holy Ghost, as they are Gifts from God's Love, so they are Ta­lents to be imployed for his Glory. We are Stewards, not Proprietaries: for the Supream Lord does not relinquish his Right in our Blessings, that we may dispose of them at our own pleasure, [Page 251] but hath prescribed Rules for our using them in order to his Glory, our own Good, and the Benefit of others. And 'tis sad to consider that usually those who enjoy the greatest Gifts, render the least Acknowledgments, and the most abundant in Favours are most bar­ren in Thankfulness. Time, that un­valuable Treasure, that is due to God and the Soul, the Price of which arises from the Work of Salvation to be done in it, how is it squander'd away? Con­science would blush at the serious re­flection that every day so much is spent in the Business of the World, or Plea­sures, and so little redeemed for Com­munion with the Holy God: that as in the Prophetick Dream the lean Kine devoured the Fat, so unconcerning Va­nities take up that time that should be employed for our last and blessed End. While Time is miserably wasted, the Soul lies a bleeding to everlasting Death. More particularly, we shall be accountable for all the days of the Son of Man that we have seen, all the special Seasons of Grace: these we should improve for our Eternal Advan­tage, to prepare us for the Divine Pre­sence above. But alas, the Lord's Day [Page 252] that is consecrated for the immediate Service of God, and should be entirely spent in it, and in things that have a necessary subordination to it, yet nei­ther the enforcement of Duty, nor in­citations of Love prevail upon the most, conscienciously to imploy it in spiritual Affairs. If they afford their presence at the Publick Worship, 'tis thought enough; and, as if the rest of the Day was unsanctified Time, they waste it either in Complemental Visits, or Secular Business, in Recrea­tions, or things impertinent to their Salvation.

Riches are an excellent Instrument of doing good: Gold is the most pre­cious and extensive Metal, and by a marvellous Art an Ounce may be bea­ten out into some hundred Leaves: but 'tis a more happy Art by giving it, to enrich our own Souls, and supply the Necessities of many others. But great Estates are often used to foment Mens vicious guilty Affections, Pride, and Sensuality; and 'tis called Nullis vitiis desunt pretio­sa nomina. Plin. lib. 73. Great­ness and Magnificence to waste them in sumptuous Vanities. I instance in these Talents, because they are usually abused to the dishonour of the Donor. [Page 253] If the slothful Servant that hid his sin­gle Talent in a Napkin, and returned it without advantage to his Lord, was cast into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth; a fear­ful Image of what will befal all unpro­fitable Persons, how severe will their Accounts be who lavish out their nu­merous Talents to gratify their carnal Appetites, and betray the Blessings of God to his Enemy the Devil? Only the wise and good Servant, that with pru­dent Contrivance, and zealous Endea­vours, improves his Talents, shall from the gracious Lord, in whom are all Attractives and Remuneratives of our Service, receive an excellent Reward.

Fifthly, Another Rule of our Accep­tance at the last Day is, That we must with Courage and Zeal maintain in our rank and places the Cause of Christ. For thus he declares expresly, Whoso­ever shall confess me before Men, Mat. 10.33, 34. him al­so will I confess before my Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before Men, him also will I deny be­fore my Father which is in Heaven. When the Truth, Purity, and Power of Reli­gion, in Doctrine, Worship, and Pra­ctice, is discountenanc'd and over­born, [Page 254] our Saviour commands, and will reward our undiscouraged visible Con­stancy in it.Rom. 10. He will not only reign in our Hearts, but be honoured with our Lips, and in our Conversations. We usurp the Title of Christians, unless we adhere to our Duty in despite of all opposition. The Temptations that u­sually withdraw Men from confessing and glorifying Christ, are such as work upon the Passions of Fear and Shame. And the consideration of the last Judg­ment will fortify us against both.

1. Sometimes Religion exposes the Professors of it to the loss of all tem­poral Enjoyments, and of Life it self. And when the Honour of our Saviour requires such a Service of us, when that Confirmation is necessary to recom­mend Divine Truth to the Belief and Affections of others, when our chear­ful and couragious Example in suffer­ing would animate those that are fear­ful to Constancy and Confession, then from Cowardise to withdraw our Te­stimony, is to betray him again. When our Duty is attended with extream Dangers, then the sincerity and perfe­ction of our Love to Christ is brought to the strictest trial. As true Carbun­cles [Page 255] are discovered in the Night, for the Darkness redoubles their Splendor; so the fidelity of Christians is evident in Persecutions that enflame and excite their Zeal to magnify the Name of Christ in the sight of the World. There is no Fear in Love, 1 Joh. 4.18. but perfect Love casts out Fear. But Fearfulness hinders the expressing acts of Love to Christ, and betrays to Apostacy. For as every Passion is a Perturbation, so especially Carnal Fear that blinds and disturbs the Mind, and hinders the serious con­sideration of the Reasons of our Duty, and those Motives to persevere in it, that are the Fountains of our Strength. From hence the timerous are often treacherous, and Faith lies buried under the cold pale Ashes of Fear. Now the irregularity of this Passion is best cured by directing it to the most powerful Object. As the Rod of Moses swal­lowed up the Rods of the Magicians, so a stronger Fear will subdue that which is in a weaker degree. Our Sa­viour therefore threatens those that for the fear of Men (who can but kill the Body) dare not own and defend his Truth and Cause, that he will renounce them before his Father in the great [Page 256] Day, the immediate consequence of which will be the destruction of Body and Soul in Hell. Matth. 10.31, 32, 33. If Earthly Poten­tates had a Jurisdiction over Heaven, if Men were to be tried by their Laws at the last Day, if their Power extend­ed to Eternity, they might exact unli­mited Obedience to their Wills; but Conscience is a more desirable Friend and terrible Enemy than Caesar; and all temporal Tribunals are subordinate and accountable to the Supream and Eter­nal: there is one Lawgiver and Judg, who is able to save, and to destroy for ever. It is the worst Perdition to se­cure our selves by the neglect of our Duty, when we ought to perish for the Glory of our Saviour. He that saves his Life shall lose it.

2. Shame wounds deeper the Breasts of some than Violence. Zedekiah would rather expose his Kingdom and Life to the Fury of the Chaldean Ar­mies, than be himself exposed as an Object of Derision by surrendring it. And Satan who understands the tem­per of Mens Spirits, suits his Tempta­tions accordingly. The Purity and Ho­liness of Religion, exprest in the Acti­ons of the Saints, is by the seurrilous [Page 257] Reflections and bitter Sarcasms of pro­phane Persons made contemptible. This is as foolish and malicious, as if a Slave should reproach the Son of a King, that he was like his Father in his Counte­nance and Actions; for by how much the resemblance of God's Holiness ap­pears with more evidence and eminence in their Lives, their Divine Relation is more certainly and justly to be ac­knowledged. Yet how many are a­shamed of this Glory? And Zeal to vindicate the Honour of Religion is traduc'd and vilified, either as the Ef­fect of designing Faction, or of the Indiscretion and Rashness of a weak Judgment and strong Passions. In eve­ry Age the faithful Servants of God are by scornful Titles despised:1 Cor. 4.17. We are accounted, saith the Apostle, the Off-scouring of the World. But a generous Christian looks upon disgrace for the sake of Christ as his Honour. The A­postles rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer shame for his Name. 'Tis said of the Baptist, He was not that Light, but came to bear Witness to that Light: Acts 5.41. intimating as if that were the next degree of Dignity to it. And our Saviour, speaking of the Proofs of [Page 258] his Divine Mission, reckons up the Witnesses of such Dignity, that 'tis not possible for Sacred Ambition to aspire to higher Honour, than to be in Conjunction with them: they are John the Baptist, John 5.33, 36, 37, 39. his Miracles, his Father, and the Scriptures.

Let us appeal then from the light depraved Fancies of carnal Men, to the wise and faithful Judgment and Authority of the Son of God. He will at the last Day, in the presence of his Father and all the Court of Hea­ven, give an incomparable Crown to all that have despised Shame for his sake. But those vile Spirits, whose Courage of Straw is quell'd by vain Opinion, and the Reproaches of Fools, and have deserted the Cause of Christ, shall then be clothed with Confusion; for this we are assured by our Judg, That whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, Mark 8.38. in this adulterous and sinful Ge­neration, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the Glory of his Father, with the Holy An­gels. If the unnatural Brothers were astonish'd when the Governor of Egypt told them, I am Joseph whom ye sold; how much more will false Christians, [Page 259] when the Lord of Glory shall tell them, I am Jesus whom for base shame ye denied? How will it confound those abject Wretches to be a spectacle of Abhorrence and Scorn before that Universal Glorious Confluence? They would chuse rather to be covered under the Ruins of the World. If we value and desire the Approbation of the King of Angels, if we fear a final rejection from him, to obtain the one and avoid the other, we must entirely adhere to his Interest, without any respect to the eyes and esteem of the perverse decei­ved World.

Sixthly, A cordial beneficent Love to the Saints, is a requisite Qualificati­on of our Acceptance in the Day of Judgment.Matth. 25.34, 35.36. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom pre­pared for you from the foundation of the World. For I was an hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in Prison, and ye came unto me. The Union and Endearments betwixt Christ and his People, are mutual and [Page 260] reflexive; as they are extreamly ten­der of his Glory, so he is concern'd in all that is done to them. And though the Perfection of Love consists more in the Affection of the Heart than in out­ward Offices, yet our Saviour most congruously produces in Judgment the conspicuous Effects of Love to them, the supplying their Wants, allaying their Sorrows, owning them when ob­scured and deprest by Afflictions, and injuriously treated by others. This love of Service that is directed and ex­ercised towards the Saints, for the I­mage of God shining in them, because they are the Children of God, and Members of Christ, and therefore ex­tended to all in whom the reason of that Love appears, shall be gloriously rewarded: for he interprets what is done upon his Account to those who are his own by so many dear Titles, as done to himself. And what is more becoming his excellent Goodness, than to reward the Works of Mercy with saving Mercy? But those who when Christ presents himself to them in his poor distressed Members, and sollicits their assistance, to protect them from Injuries, to refresh their Sorrows, to [Page 261] support them in their Exigencies, those that have Ability, but want Affection to do them good, and incompassionate­ly neglect the suffering Saints, shall be sentenc'd to be tormented with the A­postate Angels for ever. What Indig­nity is it to the Son of God, that those for whom he shed his most precious Blood, should be in less value and re­gard with many, than the Dogs and Horses maintained for their pleasure? And if those on the left hand shall be condemned to eternal Fire, for the cold­ness of their Love, how terrible will the Judgment be of those that from the heat of their Enmity outragiously persecute the Servants of Christ for his sake, in their Persons, Estates, Reputa­tions, that with a worse than barba­rous inhumanity seek their ruin? Is there any Sin of a more mortal Guilt? The infernal Furnace is seven-fold hea­ted for the punishing such Wicked­ness.

To conclude this Argument, let us observe the Command of our Saviour, To watch and pray always, that we may be counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man. These are Duties of universal Influence into our Lives, the one pre­vents [Page 262] Carelesness, the other vain Confi­dence in our selves; and the considerati­on of Judgment to come, is the greatest Motive to them, and the first Principle of Holiness. This should work more powerful in us, considering the Day of Death is equivalent to the Day of Judg­ment to every Person; for then a par­ticular Sentence decisive and irrevoca­ble passes, that shall be publish'd at the last Day. Methinks the Terrors of the Lord should engage our Souls and Senses to a continual preparation for his Coming. 'Tis represented so as to af­fect the Eye,Jude 15. and keep it vigilant: Be­hold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of his Saints, to execute Judgment upon all. Behold, Rev. 1.9. he comes in the Clouds, and eve­ry Eye shall see him. And to call the Ear, and make it attentive; The Lord himself shall descend from Heaven, 1 Thess. 4.16. with the Voice of the Arch-Angel, and with the Trump of God. How circumspect should we be in all our Ways, since e­very Action shall be reviewed by our Judg? St. Peter strongly infers from the dissolution of the World, as a most cogent Argument, that we should be exactly and universally Holy: Seeing then all these things shall be dissolved, Pet. 3.11, 1 [...]. [Page 263] what manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness? But the consideration of the eternal Judgment immediately succeeding the destruction of the World; O how pow­erful should it be upon Conscience and the Affections to regulate the whole course of our Lives with a final respect to God's Tribunal?

In short, That which we read of the success of the Apostle's preaching to the Athenians upon the present Subject, the Immortality of the Soul, comprised in the Resurrection of the Body and the future Judgment, is the same in all times and places:Acts 17.32, 34. And when they heard of the Resurrection of the Dead, some mocked; and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter; and others be­lieved. There are three Differences of the Hearers of this Doctrine of so great importance: some deride it as an extravagant Fancy; some believe it, and yield up themselves entirely in obe­dience to it; others do not absolutely reject it, as the first, nor accept it, as the second, but have a Conjecture, or slight superficial Opinion of it, or a specula­tive Assent as to a history of things that do not concern them, and defer [Page 264] the serious consideration and applying of it to themselves. And of this third sort (O Grief!) are the most of those who are Christians in Name. They delay till Death, the solemn reflecting upon the final Judgment, and the ine­vitable Consequence of it, a blessed or miserable Estate for ever. And where­as the Apostle, who had infallible assu­rance of God's Love, did with an holy severity and self-denial abstain from all carnal Complacencies that might ha­zard the never-fading Crown;1 Cor. 19.27. I keep under my Body, and bring it into subje­ction, lest by any means when I have preached to others, I should be a Cast­away. Vae miseris nobis qui de e­lectione nostra nullam adhuc [...] vocem cognovimus, & iam in otio qu [...] de secu­ritate torpe­mus. Greg. lib. 39. Moral. Yet the most live and die in a secure state, without preparation to appear before the Presence of his Glory.

FINIS.

OF HEAVEN.

BY WILLIAM BATES, D.D.

LONDON, Printed by J. D. for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhil. 1691.

OF HEAVEN.

Psalm 16.11.

Thou wilt shew me the Path of Life: in thy Presence is fulness of Joy, at thy right Hand there are Pleasures for evermore.

THE Divine Wisdom and Good­ness was pleased, before and during the legal Dispensation, by various Predictions and Types to delineate the Person of our Redeemer, and the Work of Redemption, to pre­pare the Minds of Men for his Recep­tion at his coming into the World. All the Evangelical Prophecies recorded in the Old Testament, as dispersed Rays, [Page 268] are conspicuously united in him, the Sun of Righteousness; and as in a curi­ous Piece of Mosaick Work, each Stone according to its natural Vein and Colour is so exactly disposed, and with that pro­portion join'd to another, that the live­ly Figure of the Humane Body, results from the Composure; so by variety of Types, the intire Image of our Savi­our's Life is represented from his first appearing on Earth, to his ascending to Heaven.

Now the due comparing and ob­serving the harmonious Agreement be­tween the Prophesies and Types of the Old Testament, and the History of the New, is a powerful means to produce and establish a true lively Faith in the blessed Jesus as the promised Messiah: For it is an infallible Argument of the Divine Providence in disposing Times and Things so, as the Oracle should be verified in the Event, and the my­sterious Figures substantially exhibited in the manifestation of the Son of God. 'Tis true, his Miracles raised Admira­tion, and argued the concurrence of Power truly Divine: For the exer­cise of an absolute Dominion over the Order of Nature, is a Royalty reser­ved [Page 269] to God: but that his miraculous Operations were foretold, added more Authority to his Person, and Efficacy to his Doctrine. Therefore our Savi­our himself, in answer to the publick Question sent from John the Baptist, whether he were the expected Saviour of the World, commanded the Messen­gers to tell him what they heard and said, The Blind receive their Sight, Matth. 11. and the Lame walk, the Lepers are cleansed, the Deaf hear, and the Dead are raised up: Which healing Miracles were foretold by the Prophet Esay, Isa. 35. as the clear and distinguishing Characters of the Messiah from all Seducers, when he should come. The fulfilling God's Word by the Works of Christ, of which there was sensible evidence, was an irrefutable testimony that his Miracles were true, and performed for the confirmation of the Truth.

Now of all the chosen Saints that foretold the coming of Christ, the new Law of Grace, and the new Kingdom of Glory, that he should re­veal and establish: Of all that repre­sented him in various Particularities, concerning his Person and Offices, there was not a more illustrious Type than [Page 270] David, Illorum homi­num non tan­tum lingua sed & vita prophe­tica fuit. Aug. that by prophetical Words, and by prophetical Actions did so clearly describe him.

In this Psalm composed by him, there is a mixture of History and Prophecy: Some things in the literal and imme­diate sense referring to David: I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Our being at God's right Hand, implies the highest Honour; his being at our right Hand, implies present and sure protection and defence. And of this David had the infallible Promise of God to secure his Hope, notwithstand­ing all his unrighteous and implacable Enemies. But the following Verses are applicable to David but in a lower sense, and by a remote Metaphor, and have their literal and principal Ac­complishment in our Saviour. Thou wilt not leave my Soul in Hell, that is, in the State of the Dead; nor suffer thy holy One to see Corruption: that is, the Body of our Saviour should be exemp­ted from the corrupting Power of the Grave, and restored the third Day to Life. In this propriety and perfection of sense, the Prophecy is applyed by St. Peter to our Saviour's alone: for [Page 271] David died and saw Corruption;Acts 2 27, 29. and his Body still remains under the Domi­nion of Death. And this last Verse, Thou wilt shew me the Path of Life: in thy Presente is fulness of Joy, at thy right Hand are Pleasures for evermore; is applied by the Apostle to Christ, his Resurrection, Ascension to Heaven, and sitting at the right Hand of the Majesty on high. Thou wilt shew me the Path of Life; that is, introduce him into the Kingdom of Glory, and by experimental Fruition make him par­taker of it: In thy Presence is fulness of Joy, at thy right Hand are Pleasures for evermore.

In these words the Causes and Ex­cellencies of the Heavenly Life are express'd. The Causes, are the glori­ous Presence of God, and the intimate application of his Presence, and dis­covery of his peculiar Love to the Saints. This our blessed Saviour had respect to, as the compleat Reward of his Sufferings: Thou shalt make me full of Joy with thy Countenance. And his right Hand implies his Bounty that dispenses, and his Power that secures our Happiness. The Excellencies of it, [Page 272] are fulness of Joy, and Pleasures for evermore.

From the words I shall observe one Proposition.

The enjoyment of the Divine Pre­sence in Heaven, is the supream and everlasting Felicity of the Saints.

In the discoursing of this Point, I will consider,

  • First, The Place wherein the Di­vine Presence is gloriously reveal'd.
  • Secondly, Shew that the enjoyment of the Divine Presence is the supream Felicity of the Saints.
  • Thirdly, Prove that the Felicity shall be Everlasting.

First, The Place wherein the Divine Presence is revealed. 'Tis consistent with the Divine Immensity, to be dif­ferently present in some places. The essential Presence of God is the same every where; the influxive declara­tive Presence of God is special, and [Page 273] wise in one place than another. He is more excellently present in the living Temples, his Saints on Earth, by the gracious and eminent Operations of his Spirit, than he is in the rest of the World: He is most excellently present in Heaven, by the clearest Manifesta­tion, and the express Characters and Effects of the Divine Perfections.

This inferior World is fram'd with exquisite Order; The Earth is full of the Glory of the Lord: yet 'tis but the Sediment of the Creation, the Habita­tion of Birds and Beasts, nay of rebel­lious Sinners: And by this we may raise our Thoughts to conceive some­thing of the glorious Sanctuary of Life and Blessedness above. 'Tis called the Heaven of Heavens, which is the high­est Comparison to instruct and astonish us with the Amplitude and Glory of the Place. 'Tis a Place becoming the Majesty of God, the Image of his Immensity. Our Saviour assures us, In his Father's House are many Mansions, to receive the innumerable company of glorified Saints. 'Tis called the Excel­lent Glory, 2 Pet. 1.17.

The shining Firmament, with all the Luminaries that adorn it, are but [Page 274] the Frontispiece to the highest Heaven. All the Lustre of Diamonds, the Fire of Carbuncles and Rubies, the Bright­ness of Pearls are dead in comparison of its Glory. 'Tis the Throne of the God of Glory, wherein his Majesty is reveal'd in the most illustrious manner. For Pleasantness 'tis call'd Paradise, in allusion to the delightful Garden plan­ted by the Hands of God himself for Adam, his Favourite, whilst innocent. There is the Tree of Life. There are Rivers of Pleasure springing from the Divine Presence. 'Tis call'd the Inheri­tance of the Saints in Light; to signify the Glory and Joy of the Place; for Light has splendour, and conciliates chearfulness, and is a fit Emblem of both. As on the contrary, Hell is de­scribed by the blackness of darkness for ever: to signify the sadness and despair of the Damned; and because in that centre of Misery, a perpetual Night and invincible Darkness increases the horror of lost Souls.

Heaven for stability is called a City that has Foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. The present World is like a Tent or Tabernacle set up for a time, whilst the Church is passing [Page 275] through the Wilderness: but Heaven is the City of the Living God, the Place of his happy Residence, the Seat of his eternal Empire. The visible World, with all its perishing Idols, shall shortly fall, this Beautiful Scene shall be abolish'd: but the supreme Heaven is above this Sphere of muta­bility, wherein all Bodies compound­ed of the jarring Elements are conti­nually changing and dissolving: 'tis truly call'd a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Briefly, the wise Maker has fram'd it correspondently to the end for which it was designed: 'tis the Seat of his Majesty, his Sacred Tem­ple, wherein he diffuses the richest Beams of his Goodness and Glory, and his chosen Servants see and praise his adorable Excellencies for ever.

Secondly, I will endeavour to shew, that the enjoyment of the Divine Pre­sence in Heaven, is the supreme Felici­ty of the Saints.

To make this supernatural Blessed­ness more easy and intelligible to us, the Scripture describes it by sensible Representations. For while the Soul is clothed with Flesh, Fancy has such [Page 276] a dominion, that we conceive of no­thing but by Comparisons and Ima­ges taken from material things. 'Tis therefore set forth by a Marriage-Feast, Rev. 17.7. to signify the Joy and Glory of the Saints above. But to prevent all gross Conceits, we are instructed, that the Bodies of the Saints shall be spiritual, not capable of Hunger or Thirst, nor consequently of any Refreshment that is caused by the satisfaction of those Appetites. The Objects of the most noble Senses, Seeing and Hearing, the pleasure of which is mixed with Rea­son, and not common to the Brutes, are more frequently made use of to re­concile the blessed and Heavenly State to the proportion of our Minds. Thus sometimes the Saints above are repre­sented on Thrones, and with Crowns on their Heads: Sometimes clothed in White, with Palms in their Hands: sometimes singing Songs of Triumph to him that sits on the Throne. But the real Felicity of the Saints infinitely ex­ceeds all those faint Metaphors. The Apostle, to whom the admirable Reve­lation was exhibited, of the Suffer­ings of the Church, and the victori­ous issue out of them in the successive [Page 277] Ages of the World, tells us, it does not appear what the Saints shall be in Heaven. The things that God has pre­pared for those that love him, are far more above the highest ascent of our Thoughts, than the Marriage-Feast of a King exceeds in splendor and Mag­nificence, the Imagination of one that has always lived in an obscure Village, and never saw any Ornaments of State, nor tasted Wine in his Life. We can think of those things but ac­cording to the Poverty of our Un­derstandings. But so much we know as is able to sweeten all the Bitterness, and render insipid all the Sweetness of this World.

This will appear by considering whatever is requisite to constitute the compleat Blessedness of Man, is fully enjoyed in the Divine Presence.

1. An exemption from all Evils is the first condition of perfect Blessed­ness. The Sentence of the wise Solon is true,

Dicique beatus

Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet.

[Page 278] No Man can be call'd happy whilst in this Valley of Tears. There are so many natural Calamities, so ma­ny casual, which no humane Mind can foresee or prevent, that one may be less miserable than another, but none perfectly happy here. But up­on the entrance into Heaven, all those Evils, that by their number, variety or weight, disquiet and oppress us here, are at an end.

Sin, of all Evils, the worst and most hateful, shall be abolish'd, and all Temptations that surround us and en­danger our Innocence shall cease. Here the best Men lament the Weak­ness of the Flesh, and sometimes the violent Assaults of Spiritual Ene­mies. St. Paul himself breaks forth into a mournful Complaint, O wretch­ed Man that I am, who shall deliver me from this Body of Death? And when harrass'd by the buffets of Satan, renews his most earnest Addresses to God to be freed from them. Here our Purity is not absolute, we must be always cleansing our selves from the Reliques of that deep Defilement that cleaves to our Nature. Here our Peace is preserv'd with the Sword in our Hand, [Page 279] by a continual warfare against Satan and the World. But in Heaven no Ignorance darkens the Mind, no Pas­sions rebel against the sanctified Will, no Inherent Pollution remains. The Church is without Spot or Wrinkle, or any such thing. And all Temptations shall then cease. The Temper was cast out of Heaven, and none of his poison'd Arrows can reach that puri­fied Company. Glorious Liberty! here ardently desir'd, but fully enjoyed by the Saints above. And as Sin, so all the penal Consequences of it are quite taken away. The present Life is a continual disease, and sometimes at­tended with that sharp sense, that Death is desir'd as a remedy, and ac­cepted as a Benefit. And though the Saints have reviving Cordials, yet their Joys are mix'd with Sorrows, nay caused [...] Sorrows. The tears of Repentance are their sweetest refresh­ment. Here the living Stones are cut and wounded, and made fit by suffe­rings for a Temple unto God in the new Jerusalem. But as in building of Solomon's Temple, the noise of a Ham­mer was not heard, for all the parts were fram'd before with that exact [Page 280] design and correspondence, that they firmly combin'd together. They were hewen in another place, and nothing remain'd but the putting them one upon another, and then as Sacred they became inviolable. So God the wise Architect, having prepar'd the Saints here, by many cutting Afflictions, places them in the eternal Building, where no Voice of Sorrow is heard. Of the innumerable Assembly above; is there any Eye that weeps, any Breast that sighs, any Tongue that complains, or any appearance of Grief? The Heavenly State is called Life, as only worthy of that Title. There is no infirmity of Body, no Poverty, no Disgrace, no Treachery of Friends, no persecution of Enemies. There is no more Death, nor Sorrow; nor shall there be any more Pain: for former things are past away. God will wipe a­way all Tears from the Eyes of his Peo­ple. There Salvation is compleat in all degrees. Pure Joy is the Privi­ledge of Heaven, unmixed Sorrows the Punishment of Hell.

2. A concurrence of all positive Ex­cellencies is requisite to Blessedness. And these are to be considered with [Page 281] respect to the entire Man.

1. The Body shall be awak'd out of its dead Sleep, and quicken'd into a glorious immortal Life. The Soul and Body are the essential parts of Man; and though the inequality be great in their holy Operations, yet their concourse is necessary. Good Actions are design'd by the counsel and resolution of the Spirit, but per­form'd by the ministry of the Flesh. Every Grace expresses it self in visi­ble Actions by the Body. In the Sor­rows of Repentance it supplies Tears; in religious Fasts, its Appetites are restrain'd; in Thanksgivings the Tongue breaks forth into the joyful Praises of God. All our Victories o­ver sensible Pleasure and Pain, are obtain'd by the Soul in conjunction with the Body. Now 'tis most be­coming the Divine Goodness, not to deal so differently, that the Soul should be everlastingly happy, and the Body lost in forgetfulness; the one glori­fied in Heaven, the other remain in the Dust. From their first setting out in the World to the Grave, they ran the same race, and shall enjoy the same Reward. Here the Body is the [Page 282] Consort of the Soul, in Obedience and Sufferings, hereafter in Fruition. When the Crown of Purity, or Palm of Martyrdom shall be given by the great Judg in the view of all, they shall both partake in the Honour. The Apostle assures us, the Bodies of the Saints shall be revived and refin'd to a spiritual and glorious Perfection. Flesh and Blood, the Body with its terrene Qualities, is mutable and mor­tal, and cannot inherit the Kingdom of Heaven; it cannot breath in so pure an Air. God tells Moses, No Man can see my Face and live: The sight of the Divine Glory is not consistent with such temper'd frail Tabernacles of Flesh. Nay, the Body must be freed from the innocent Infirmities that were inseparable from Adam in Para­dise: for he was made a living Soul, i. e. the Soul united to the Body was the Fountain of the natural sensitive Life, which was in a perpetual Flux, the vital Heat wasting the radical Moisture, from whence there was a necessity of Food and Sleep to repair the Sub­stance and Spirits, and preserve his Life in vigour: but in the Divine World, the Body shall be spiritual in [Page 283] its Qualities and the Principle of its Li [...]e: it shall be supported by the su­pernatural Power of the Spirit, with­out the supplies of outward nourish­ment, and exempted from all the low Operations of Nature: therefore our Saviour tells us, the Children of the Resurrection shall be equal to the Angels, prepar'd for the employment and En­joyments of those blessed Spirits.

And a substantial unfading Glory will shine in them infinitely above the perishing Pride of this World, and the Glory of the Flesh, that is but an appearance, like the false Colours painted on the Feathers of a Dove, by the reflection of the Light, which presently vanishes, when the Posture is chang'd, or the Light withdrawn. Of this we have a sure Pledg in the glorified Body of Christ, who is the first Fruits of them that sleep; He shall change our vile Bodies, that they may be fashion'd like to his glorious Body, ac­cording to the working of his Power, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself. What can be more glorious, than to be conform'd to the humanity of the Son of God? This Conformity shall be the Work of his own Hands: [Page 284] and when Omnipotence interposes, no­thing is difficult. The raising the Body to an immortal state of Glory, is as easy to the Divine Power, as the forming it first in the Womb. As the Sun labours no more in the Mines, in the forming Gold and Sil­ver, the most precious and durable Metals, than in the production of a short-liv'd Flower.

2. The supream happiness of Man is in the Soul's Communion with God. This will appear by considering the principal Ingredients of Happiness: they are the excellence of the Object, and the vigour of the Actings upon it. The Life and Blessedness of God, is to know and love himself, accord­ing to his infinite Perfections. And 'tis the highest happiness of the reasonable Creature to know and love God. For he is a spiritual infinite, unchangeable Good, and can fully communicate all that is requi­site to intire Blessedness, Supply all the Wants, and satisfy all the Wi­shes of the immortal Soul. The Understanding and Will are our most comprehensive Faculties, the principles of our most eminent Ope­rations. [Page 285] To know and to love are es­sential to the reasonable Soul, and in directing those Acts upon God, the Rectitude, the Perfection and Felici­ty of Man consists. As the intel­lectual Creature by setting its Mind and Heart upon earthly things, is de­graded into a lower order, the thoughts and desires that are spiritual with respect to the principle from whence they proceed, are sensual and perish­ing with respect to their Objects: So when our noble faculties are exercis'd in their most lively and vigorous per­ceptions upon the supream Good, Man is advanc'd to an equality of Joy and Perfection with the Angels. Now in Heaven, God by his most evident and effectual presence, excites and draws forth all the active Powers of the Soul in their highest degrees; and such is the immensity of his Perfe­ctions, fills their utmost Capaci­ty, from whence a Divine pleasure, a perpetual Satifaction springs, a Joy that is as unspeakable as 'tis eternal.

To unfold this more particularly.

1. The Understanding shall clear­ly see the most excellent Objects. Now [Page 286] we know but in part. 1 Cor. 13. The naked Beau­ty of divine Things is vail'd, and of impossible discovery: and by natural or accidental weakness, the Mind is not proportionable to sustain that dazling brightness. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. In that in­lightned the State, manifestation of the Objects shall abundantly exceed the clearest revealing of them here. And the Understanding shall be prepar'd in proportion to take a full view of them. Therefore the Apostle com­pares the several Periods of the Church in respect of the degrees of Know­ledg, to the several Ages of humane Life. When I was a Child, I spoke as a Child, I understood as a Child, I thought as a Child: but when I became a Man, I put away Childish things. In Children the Organs, either from the excess of moisture, or their smalness, are indispos'd for the vigorous exercise of the Mind: some strictures of Rea­son appear, a presaging sign what will be, but mix'd with much obscurity. But when the Organs are come to their just proportion and temperament, the Soul displays its strength and activity.

[Page 287]To explicate this, it is requisite to consider the expressions in Scripture, that signify the eminent degrees of Knowledg in the Blessed. Our Sa­viour assures us, that the Pure in Heart shall see God. Sight is the most noble, extensive, and affective Sense, and there­fore fit to notify the clear, sweet and satisfying intuition of God in Heaven. 'Tis true, the Deity is spiritual and invisible to the Eye of the Body, in­finite and incomprehensible to the Eye of the Soul; but the glorified Saints so clearly understand the Divine Per­fections, that our present knowledg of God, compar'd to that Vision, is but as the seeing of a dark Shadow in a Glass, to the immediate view of the living Substance and Person. The discovery of the Deity to us in the present state, is by his Works and Word: and both are imperfect, and far inferiour to the manifestation in Heaven. The absolute fulness of Per­fection that is inseparable from the Godhead, is inimitable by any Crea­ture; for the Perfection of any Crea­ture; is limited in its kind as well as degrees. Therefore God was pleased by variety of effects and resemblances, [Page 288] to express and represent his Attributes, that our Minds might ascend by those steps to contemplate those Perfecti­ons that are in him eminently and beyond all comparison. The Light of Heaven in all its purity and lustre, is but a shadow of his unapproachable Brightness: all the Excellencies of visi­ble things are but a weak representation of the Glory of his Atrributes, like the describing with a Coal the beautiful Colours of the Morning: and com­par'd with the immensity of his Per­fections, are like the describing in a sheet of Paper the vast Celestial Spheres.

In his Word there is a more clear and full discovery of his Nature and Will, but according to our capacity of re­ceiving. The Divine Attributes in Scripture are mask'd and shadowed un­der sensible Comparisons: for no Light shines into our Minds here but through the Windows of Sense. The intelle­ctual Powers depend, as to the first notices of things, upon the lower Fa­culties and Senses: therefore as Elisha in reviving the Shunamite's Child, con­tracted himself to the proportion of the Child, and put his Mouth upon his [Page 289] Mouth, and his Eyes upon his Eyes, and his Hands upon his Hands; so God is pleased to condescend to our Capacity, and to adapt the Expressions of his Majesty to the narrowness of our Ima­ginations. But in Heaven the Revela­tion of the Deity is much more glori­ous: and the Mind is clarified from those terrene Images that flow through the gross Channels of the Senses. In this present state our purest Concep­tions of God are mix'd with Dross, and very imperfect; but there the Gold shall be separated from the Dross, and our Conceptions be more proper and becoming the Simplicity and Purity of God. Here the Objects of Glory are humbled to the perception of Sense: Hereafter, the sensible Faculties shall be raised and refin'd, and made the Subjects of Glory. Now when Di­vine Light shines with direct Beams, and the thick Curtain of Flesh is spiri­tualiz'd and transparent, the Soul en­joys the clearest Vision of God. The Light of Nature was so defective as to the discovery of God's Compassio­nate Counsels to save the lost World; and the Minds of Men were so dark­ned from the Fumes of their Lusts, [Page 290] that that Light was but the Hemi­sphere of the Night in comparison of the Revelation of the Gospel: as St. Peter expresses the happy Priviledg of Christians, and their consequent Duty, that they should shew forth the Praises of him who hath called them out of Dark­ness into his marvellous Light. And the Glorious Gospel compar'd to the Reve­lation of God in Heaven, is but as the Twilight of the Morning, wherein the Light of the Day is checker'd with the Shadows of the Night, to the Sun in its full Lustre. In Heaven we shall see God Face to Face: which signifies the clearest manifestation of his Glory, and of his Favour to the Blessed: for the Face is the Throne of Majesty and Beauty, and the Chrystal wherein the Affections are conspicuous. Accord­ingly when Moses prayed, I beseech thee shew me thy Glory; God answered him, it was impossible, for no Man could see his Face, and live. And the form of Divine Blessing to the People of Israel was, The Lord make his Face to shine upon thee, and be gracious to thee. Whe­ther the immediate Essence of God can be seen by the intellectual Crea­ture, is a question, but we are sure in [Page 291] the Heaven of Presence, God exhibits himself to the Blessed in a most glo­rious manner: for according to the degrees of Excellency in the Work, such are the Impressions and Discove­ries of the Cause. Now all gross ma­terial things in the low order of Na­ture, are but weak resultances from his Perfections, in comparison of their glorious Effects in the Divine World. The Glories of the Place, and of the Inhabitants the Angels and Saints, are the most noble Effects and Expressions of the Divine Attributes. But in a transcendent manner God exhibits him­self in the glorified Mediator. He is stiled the Brightness of his Father's Glo­ry, and the express Image of his Person; to signify that God, in the Person of the incarnate Mediator, is so fully re­presented to us, that in him we have a view of God's unchangeable Perfecti­ons. This appears by the following words, that having purged us from our Sins, he sat down on the Majesty on high: for they respect the Son of God as united to the Humane Nature, in which he performed the Office of the Priesthood, and took possession of his Kingdom. During his humble State, [Page 292] tho darken'd with many afflicting Cir­cumstances, the Divine Vertues, Wis­dom, Goodness, Holiness, Power, were so visible in his Life, Revelati­ons, and miraculous Works, that when Philip with that ardency of Affection, desir'd the sight of the Father, the on­ly consummate Blessedness, shew us the Father, and it suffices: He told him, He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. But how brightly do they appear in his Exaltation? We shall see him as he is; in the Majesty and Glory of the Son of God. The Apostle says, We shall know as we are known: This we are not to understand according to the exactness of the Expression; for the Sun may be as well included in a spark of Fire, as God may be comprehended by our fi­nite Faculties. Beyond the fullest dis­coveries we can receive of the Deity, there remains an intire infinity of Per­fections, not to be known by the most intelligent Spirits: but as we are known, is a note of Similitude, not of Equali­ty. The Light of a Candle as truly shines as the Light of the Sun, but not with that extent and splendor. We shall have such a perfect knowledg of God, as our Minds can receive, and our Hearts desire.

[Page 293]We shall then see what we now be­lieve concerning the glorious Nature of God, his Decrees and Counsels, his Providence and Dispensations. The sublimest Doctrine of the Christian Religion, above the disquisition and reach of Reason, is that of the Sacred Trinity, upon which the whole Oeco­nomy of the Gospel depends. In as­senting to this, Faith bows the Head and adores. But such is the pride of the Carnal Mind, that it disdains to stoop to Divine Revelation: and the seeming wise Philosophers despised the Primitive Christians as Captives of a blind Belief. But this foul Reproach was as unjust as many others where­with they designed to disgrace Christi­anity; for the humility of Faith does not extinguish or darken the Light of Reason, but revives and increases it: what is more suitable to uncorrupt Reason, than to believe the Revelation God affords of his own Nature who cannot deceive us? In the State above, where reason is rectified and inlarged, we shall understand that from Eternity God was sole existing, but not solitary; that the Godhead is not confus'd in Unity, nor divided in number; that [Page 294] there is a priority of Order, but no su­periority among the Sacred Persons, but they are all equally possess'd of the same Divine Excellencies, and the same Divine Empire, and are the Object of the same Divine Adoration. Our Sa­viour tells his Disciples, In that Day ye shall know, that I am in the Father, that is by unity of Essence, and as natural­ly and necessarily God as the Father. This Promise immediately refers to the time of pouring forth the Holy Ghost upon them, after the Resur­rection of our Saviour, but shall be fully accomplish'd in Heaven.

All things of a supernatural Order shall be reveal'd. The great Mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the Flesh, the union of the high Perfections of the Divine Nature, with the innocent Imperfections of the Humane Nature, the contrivance of our Redemption, wherein there is an harmonious con­currence and concord of the principal Attributes of the Deity that seem'd irreconcileable: that product of the Divine Wisdom that is so ador'd by the Angels, that astonishes and saves us, shall be unfolded. The Divine Coun­sels in governing the World, the De­signs, [Page 295] the Ways, the Orders and Ope­rations of God's Providence shall be conspicuous. In some Dispensations of God, we discern the Eye in the top of his Scepter: the Wisdom, the Recti­tude, the equity of his Providence is so visible in the defence of the Inno­cent, and his Justice and Power in the punishment of the Guilty, that it may convince the Atheists who deny a Pro­vidence, and causes all sincere Belie­vers to admire and reverence it. But there are other Dispensations, the im­mediate Reasons of which are so con­ceal'd in the Bosom of God, that only the Lamb with whose Blood the Elect to Glory are written in the Book of Life, can reveal: Why the Light of the Gospel was never visible to so many Kingdoms; why many are called, and few chosen, the unsearchable Ways, and incomprehensible Judgments of God, which St. Paul in an extasy admires, which 'tis not lawful to inquire in here, we shall then understand in such a manner, that Light it self is not more clear. How often are the People of God here in miserable Perplexities? and say with the Prophets, Verily thou art a God that hidest thy self, O God of [Page 296] Israel the Saviour! 'Tis true a stedfast Faith in the Providence of God, that all that he does, and all that he per­mits and disposes is best, will quiet their Passions, and change the tem­pestuous Ocean into the pacifick-Sea: but when they are admitted into the Council of State above, and see the immediate Reasons of his Decrees, what a heavenly Wonder, what an exquisite Pleasure will fill their Minds? when the original Fountains of Wis­dom, as clear as deep, shall be open'd, what sweet Satisfaction will be shed abroad in their Spirits? They will see the Beauty of Providence in disposing temporal Evils in order to their eter­nal Felicity: that as in a curious Pi­cture the darkest Tinctures are so dis­pos'd, as to give Life and Grace to the orient Colours: So all the Affli­ctions of this State were but shadows or foiles, to make their Faith, and Love, and Patience more resplendent, and their Reward more excellent. What our Saviour said to Peter, is applicable to the impenetrable dispen­sations of Providence to us in our mortal State: What I do, thou know­est not now, but shall know hereafter: [Page 297] then the Arcana Imperii, the Secrets of his Counsels, shall be unsealed, and we shall be able to expound the perplexing Riddle, how out of the Eater came Meat, and out of the Strong came Sweetness: we shall understand that his over-ruling Providence is most eminently glorified in extracting Good out of Evil; for we shall know as we are known.

2. I will consider the blessed Effects of the Vision of God in Heaven up­on the Saints. Our Saviour tells us, This is Life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. The beginning and introduction of our Felicity, is by a lively Faith here, the consummation of it is by present sight in Heaven. From the Vision of his Glory, there will be a resultance of his likeness imprest on us. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All the Perfecti­on and Happiness of the Saints is comprised in that Promise. The Sun, when the Sky is clear and serene, forms its Image on a Cloud temper'd to re­ceive it, with that orient brightness, that the Eye cannot distinguish be­tween the Copy and the Original. [Page 298] Thus the uncreated Sun by powerful emanations transforms the Soul into its likeness, in that divine Degree of Holiness and Felicity, as gloriously re­sembles God. Moses by conversing with God in the Mount, and seeing his back-parts, return'd to the Israe­lites with such a radiancy in his Face; that they could not look on it without a Vail. What an impression of Glory is in the Saints, who see his Perfe­ctions in their infinite lustre? 'Tis the priviledge of Christians in this Life, above the Church under the Law, They behold in the Gospel as in a Glass, the Glory of the Lord, and are chang'd into the same Image, from Glory to Glory: they become more Holy and Heavenly, more purified and adorn'd with his Vertues and Graces. Now if the Vision of Christ here in a Glass, an eclipsing Medium, be so influxive upon Believers, what an illustrious and infallible efficacy has the immediate, clear, and permanent view of his Glory upon the Saints in Heaven? That sight is productive and conservative of his Image in its pu­rity and perfection for ever.

[Page 299]The Divine Presence affects the Saints with the most humble reve­rence and solemn veneration of God. This is an eternal respect due from the intellectual Creature to the Cre­atour, upon the account of his infi­nite and incommunicable Excellen­cies. He is distinguish'd not only from Idols, but from Creatures of the highest Order, by his essential supreme, and singular Name, I AM. Every kind of Being, every spark of Life, every degree of Perfection is from his Efficiency, and depends en­tirely upon his supporting Power. The most eminent Qualities of the Creatures are but in show and appea­rance, compar'd with the reality and stability of his glorious Nature. In the Scripture, Wisdom, Holiness, Goodness, Power, Truth, Immortali­ty, are attributed to God, with the exclusion of all Creatures from those Prerogatives; they being his essential, infinite and wise incomparable Perfecti­ons. They are separable Qualities in the Creatures, like the gilding and ena­maling of baser Metal: but in the De­ity, they are like substantial massy Gold. There is a vast distance be­tween [Page 300] created Beings; but the Di­stance between a Fly, or a Worm, and an Angel, is nothing to the distance between an Arch-angel and God: there being no comparison between finite and infinite. All Creatures e­qually vanish, and disappear as no­thing compar'd to the glorious Crea­tour. As if one from the Region of the Stars should look down upon the Earth, the Mountains and Hills with the Vallies, would appear one flat Surface, an equal Plain, the height and the lowness of the several parts being indiscernible at that immense distance.

Now in Heaven the Divine Majesty is most visible and most awful and ado­rable. The sublimest Spirits cover their Faces before his glorious Brightness. The Prophet Isaiah had a representation of Heaven: I saw the Lord sitting upon a Throne high and lifted up, and his Train fil­led the Temple. Above it stood the Sera­phims: each one had six Wings: With twain he cover'd his Face, with twain he co­ver'd his Feet, with twain he did fly. And one cried to another, and said Holy, ho­ly, holy Lord of Hosts, the whole Earth is full of his Glory. They highly ho­nour [Page 301] him, by the reflection of his sepa­rate and peerless Excellencies, his Al­mighty Power, his Infinite Suprema­cy and Eternal Empire, in their con­sert of Praises.

This is the principal Duty of Angels and Men to the blessed Creator for his admirable Perfections, and his excel­lent Benefits. The Evidence of it is so entire, that the reasonable Mind can­not suspend its Assent: for Goodness and Beauty, the Fruit and the Flower of amiable Things, do so recommend them to the Understanding and Will, that they powerfully allure and engage the Affections. Now these are in God in unspeakable degrees of Eminence. The Prophet breaks out in a rapture, How great is his Goodness, how great is his Beauty!

'Twas a Precept of the Ceremonial Law, that the Firstlings of the Flock, and the first and best Fruits of the Earth should be offer'd to God; not as if the first that open'd the Belly was more valuable in his Account than the last, or the most early Fruits in the Spring more pleasing to him than the later in the Autumn; but 'twas in­structive, that our Love, the first born [Page 302] of the Soul, and the beginning of its strength, should be consecrated to God.

2. In Heaven the Saints as perfect­ly love God as they know him. The Love of God is the Essential Character of a Saint, that distinguishes him from the Unregenerate. Indeed, it is strange that God, who is infinitely lovely, and infinitely liberal and beni­ficent, should not prevail on the Hearts of all Men; but if we consider the de­generacy of Mankind, how their Minds are depraved and deceived, and their Affections are vitiated, the Wonder will cease. Carnal Men have not due Conceptions of God, and will not at­tentively observe his amiable Perfecti­ons. St. John tells us, He that loveth not, doth not know God. Knowledg is the leading Principle in the Operations of the Soul. There must be a heaven­ly Eye to discover the heavenly Beauty, before there can be love of it. Now Men are in ignorant darkness, and are defiled in Flesh and Spirit, and there­fore cannot love God who is glorious in Holiness. Without resemblance there can be no affectionate Union, which is the Essence of Love. The contrariety [Page 303] of Dispositions infers a contrariety of Affections. The Scripture expresses this in dreadful Colours: The carnal Mind is enmity against God: the Friend­ship of the World is enmity with God: that is, Pride, and Covetousness, and Sensuality, which are the Lusts of the Carnal Mind, and are terminated upon worldly Things, are inconsistent with the Love of God. The Justice of God is terrible to the Consciences, and his Holiness odious to the Affections of the Unrenewed; 'Till by Divine Grace the Understanding is enlightned and purified to have right apprehensions of God; till the Will and Affections are cleansed and changed; till there be a resemblance of God's holy Nature, and a conformity to his holy Laws, they are not capable of delightful ad­hering to him, which is the internal essential Property of Love.

But those who are partakers of the Divine Nature, the holy and heaven­ly taste, and see how good the Lord is, and according to the Illustra­tions of the Mind, such are the Im­pressions upon the Heart; the Love of God in their Breasts here is like smoaking Flax, but in Heaven 'tis a [Page 304] triumphant Flame. God is the first Fair, the Original of all amiable Ex­cellencies, in whom they shine in their unstained Lustre and Perfection; when he fully reveals himself, and displays the richest Beams of his Love and Glo­ry, how transporting and endearing is that Sight? Our Affections that are now scatter'd on many things, where­in some faint Reflections of his Good­ness appear, shall then be united in one full Current to him, who is all in all. In Heaven the immense Treasures of his Grace are reveal'd: That when Man for his rebellious Sin was justly expell'd from Paradise, and under the Sentence of Eternal Death, God should not only pardon, but prefer us to the dignity of his Children, and prepare such a Glory for us, and us for such a Glory. This will inspire the Saints with such ardent Affections, that will make them equal to the Angels, those pure and everlasting Flames of Love to God.

In Heaven we shall be with Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, who is seated at the right Hand of God. And how admirable will he appear to the Sense and Soul of every glorified Saint? [Page 305] for we shall see the King in his Beauty. When our Saviour was upon the Holy Mount, and one vanishing Beam of Glory appear'd in his Transfiguration, Peter was so transported at the sight, that he forgot the World and himself: How ravishing then will the sight of him in his Triumphant Majesty be, when we shall be transfigur'd our selves? Now while Believers are in the shadows of the earthly State, they love their unseen Saviour with such in­tense degrees of affection, as deface all the washy Colours, all the vain loves of things in this World: but when they are admitted into his shining Presence, and see him in the day of Celestial Glory; with what an extasy of Af­fection will they be transported?

We shall then feel the endearing Ob­ligations our Saviour has laid upon us, who ransom'd us with so rich a Price, and purchas'd for us such an unvaluable Inheritance. For in proportion as we shall understand his Greatness in him­self, we shall his Goodness to us. The Eternal Son of God descended from the Heaven of Heavens to our lowly Earth; and which is more, from the Majesty wherein he there reign'd, and [Page 306] was visible to the Angels, he became Man that he might die, to redeem us from the most woful Captivity, from Death, and the sting of Death, Sin, and the strength of Sin, the Law, and obtain a blessed Life and Immortality for us. O unexampled Love! Greater Love hath no Man than this, to lay down his Life for his Friend: And what is the Life of a sinful Man, a vanishing Vapour, a Life mix'd with Troubles and Vexation; and to lay down this for a Friend deservedly dear, is the highest expression of humane Love: But for the Son of God to lay down his Life, a Life without Sin, and without End, for Immortality was a Privilege due to his Innocence, and for Enemies, for the worst Enemies, Rebels by re­volture from obedience to their Crea­tor and King, is a Love truly Divine, and infinitely surpassing, not only the Affections, but the understanding and knowledg of all Creatures. Ephes. 3. Briefly, he gave his Life for us, and gives himself to us, the most excellent testimonies of Love that we can receive from Love it self, and we shall love him with all the strength of our glorified Spirits.

[Page 307]3. Union with God by Knowledg and Love, accomplishes the Perfection and Happiness of the Saints. The most pernicious effect of Sin, is the separa­tion of the Soul from God: and the restoral of us to Happiness, is by re­union with him. This we obtain by Christ, who is Emanuel in his Na­ture, and by Office, who took our Flesh which he offer'd as a Sacrifice to God to atone his Displeasure, and gives his Spirit to dwell in us, as a permanent active Principle, by whose special ope­ration Faith is produc'd in our Hearts; that is, such a belief of his Love in redeeming us, as inspires us with a sin­cere and superlative Love to him; and by these vital Bands we are united to him, and as his true Members, live the same Life with him in Grace and Glory.

Now in Heaven our Union with God is more near and noble, more inti­mate and influential, more insepara­ble and eternal. 'Tis observable in natural Causalties, that what is of a more refin'd and purer Nature, is more active and penetrating, and more closely unites with other things, than what is more gross and material. Light, [Page 308] which is the purest Quality in the World, actuates all Colours, and makes them visible, and actuates the Eye, and conveys the lively Image of the Object with shining Evidence into it. The Sun shoots its invisible Virtue into the deepest Mines. Fire is more subtile and pure than Water, and will pierce into solid Metals, which the Water cannot soak into. The glowing Iron seems to be all Fire. Now God is the purest Spirit, and of infinite energy, and can unite himself to our Spirits, more intimately than the closest Union between any Creatures in the World. He unites himself to the Understanding by an immediate irradiation, and dis­covery of his glorious Excellencies. In thy Light, saith the Psalmist, we shall see Light. He unites himself to the Will, by the infusion of his Love, and by that, drawing forth our Love to him. This Union is compleat in Hea­ven, and most communicative of the Divine Influences to the Saints, and consequently their conformity and frui­tion of God, is in the highest degrees that created Spirits are capable of. This is the most desireable and perfect State of reasonable Creatures; for God [Page 309] is the ever-flowing Fountain of Felici­ty, the only stable Center of the Soul, wherein it reposes it self for ever. Ac­cordingly the Psalmist speaks, Return to thy Rest, O my Soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

When the Soul opens its Eyes to the clear discoveries of the first Truth, in which is no shadow of Error, and its Breast to the dear and intimate imbra­ces of the Supream Good, in which is no mixture of Evil, and beyond which nothing remains to be known, nothing to be enjoy'd, what a Deluge of the purest and sweetest Pleasures will over­flow it? We cannot ascend in our Thoughts so high, as to conceive the excess of Joy that attends those Ope­rations of the glorified Soul upon its proper Object. But something we may conjecture.

Those who are possess'd with a no­ble Passion for Knowledg, how do they despise all lower Pleasures in compari­son of it? How do they forget them­selves, neglect the Body, and retire into the Mind, the highest part of Man, and nearest to God? The bare apprehension of such things that by their internal Nature have no attra­ctive [Page 310] influence upon the Affections, is pleasant to the Understanding. As the appearance of Light, though not at­tended with any other visible Beauties, refreshes the Eye after long darkness: So the clear discovery of Truths, how abstract so ever, that were before un­known, is grateful to the intellective Faculty. Thus some have been strange­ly transported with the pleasure of a Mathematical Demonstration, when the Evidence, not the Importance, of the thing was so ravishing; for what is more dry and barren of delight than the speculation of Figures and Num­bers? Solon when near his End, and some of his Friends that visited him were speaking softly of a Point of Phi­losophy, by that sound of Wisdom was awaken'd from the sleep of Death that was just seizing on him, and opening his Eyes, raising his Head to give at­tention; being ask'd the reason of it? Answered, That when Ut cum istud quicquid est de quo dispu­tatis percepe­ro, moriar. Val. Max. I understand what you are discoursing of, I may die. Such was his delight in Knowledg, that a little of it made his Agony in­sensible.

But here are many Imperfections that lessen this intellectual Pleasure, [Page 311] which shall cease in Heaven. Here the acquisition of Knowledg is often with the expence of Health: The Flower of the Spirits, necessary for natural Operations, is wasted by in­tense Thoughts. How often are the Learned sickly? As the Flint when 'tis struck, gives not a spark without con­suming it self; So Knowledg is ob­tain'd by Studies that waste our faint sensitive Faculties. But then our Know­ledg shall be a free emanation from the spring of Truth, without our labour and pains. Here we learn by circuit, and discern by comparing things; ig­norant darkness is dispell'd by a gradu­al succession of Light: But then per­fect Knowledg shall be infused in a moment. Here, after all our labour and toyl, how little Knowledg do we gain? Every Question is a Labyrinth, out of which the nimblest and most searching Minds cannot extricate themselves. How many specious Er­rors impose upon our Understandings? We look on things by false Lights, through deceiving Spectacles: But then our Knowledg shall be certain and compleat. There is no forbidden Tree in the Celestial Paradise, as no [Page 312] inordinate Affection. But suppose that all things in the compass of the World were known, yet still there would be emptiness and anguish in the Mind: for the most comprehensive knowledg of things that are insufficient to make us happy, cannot afford true Satisfacti­on. But then we shall see God in all his Excellencies, the supream Object and End, the only Felicity of the Soul. How will the sight of his glorious Per­fections in the first moment quench our extream Thirst, and fill us with Joy and Admiration? 'Tis not as the naked conception of Treasures, that only makes rich in Idea's, but that Divine sight gives a real interest in him. The Angels are so ravish'd with the Beau­ties and Wonders of his Face, that they never divert a moment from the con­templation of it.

2. The pure Love of the Saints to God is fully satisfied in the possession and enjoyment of him, and consequent­ly the greatest delight and complacen­cy is shed abroad in their Hearts. Love considered as an Affection of Friend­ship, is always attended with two De­sires; to be assured of Reciprocal Love, and to enjoy the Conversation of the [Page 313] Person beloved, the testimony of his Esteem and Good-will. This kind of Aristotle. Affection seems to be inconsistent with that infinite distance that is between God and the Creature. But tho 'tis disproportionable to the Divine Maje­sty, 'tis proportionable to his Goodness. Accordingly our Saviour promises, He that loves me, shall be loved of my Fa­ther, and I will love him, and manifest my self unto him. And to confirm our belief of this astonishing Condescenti­on, repeats it, If a Man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him. In the present state, the signs of God's special Favour are exhibited to his Friends. Now he bestows on them the honour of being his Sons, the Gra­ces and Comforts of his Spirit, the precious Earnests of his Love, and Seal of their Redemption. But in eminency of degrees, the Emanations of his Love, and the Effects of his Benefi­cence, are incomparably more glorious in Heaven. Here the Saints are adop­ted, there crown'd. There he opens all the bright Treasures of his Wis­dom, the Riches of his Goodness, the Beauties of his Holiness, the Glo­ries [Page 314] of his Power, and by the intimate application of his Presence makes his Love most sensible to them. Infinite Goodness excites and draws forth all the Powers of the Soul, and fills the utmost Capacity and Expansion of the Spirit. From hence perpetual Plea­sure and Satisfaction springs. O the pure Delights between God and glori­fied Souls! God looks on them with an engaged Eye, as his own by many dear Titles, and is ravish'd with the Reflex of his own Excellencies shining in them. As the Bridegroom rejoices over the Bride, ('tis the Language of Di­vine Love) so their God rejoices over them. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty, he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy: he will rest in his love; he will rejoice over thee with singing. He is infinitely delighted in the communication of his Goodness to them. And what a blessed Rest do they find in the compleat fruition of his Goodness? All their Desires quietly expire in his Bosom. What triumphs of Joy follow? Can we frame a fuller Conception of Happiness, than to be perfectly loved by the best and most blessed Being, and perfectly to love him, [Page 315] and to partake of the richest Emanations of his Loving-kindness, that is far more valuable and desireable than Life it self?

How precious and joyful will the Presence of Christ be to the Saints? 'Twas his Prayer on Earth, Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me, where I am, that they may behold my Glory. When the Saints are received into the Ever­lasting Kingdom, the first Object that draws their admiring regards, is Christ on the Throne. Inestimable Felicity! whether we consider him as the Son of God, in whose con­spicuous Countenance all the Glory of his Father shines, or as the Savi­our of Men, and the Head of the Elect, upon a double account: part­ly, that he that loved us, and wash'd us from our Sins in his Blood; after suf­fering all Indignities and Cruelties for our sake, has received the Reward of his meritorious Sufferings, the triumph of his Victory, being glorified with the Father with the Glory he had before the World was: and partly because every Member shall be conform'd to him in Glory. The sight of the Face of Mo­ses when radiant, had no transforming [Page 316] Efficacy, for the Light of it was not in him as its Spring but by derivation. But the Son of God is Light essential­ly, and the sight of his Glory will transform us into his Likeness. And how dear and joyful is the presence of the Saints to Christ? He then sees of the travel of his Soul, the fruit of his sharp Sufferings and bleeding Love, and is satisfied. How delight­ful is it to him to see all his Spiritual Progeny safely brought to Heaven, and made partakers of his Glory and Joy in his everlasting Kingdom? For ac­cording to the extent of the Object, and dearness of the Affection, Joy rises. He will then present them to his Father with infinite complacency; Behold, here am I, and the Children whom thou hast given me.

The dearest Affections of Christ and the Saints in Heaven, are mutual and reflexive. In the Sacred Song, the expressions of Love, Desire, and Joy, borrowed from the espousals of Solo­mon and his beloved Wife, are, as it were, Characters in the Bark, to be understood in a spiritual Sense, of the Mystical Marriage of Christ and the Church. What endearing entercourse [Page 317] is there between the most perfect Lo­ver and his Spouse inspir'd with the same pure Flam? Here amiable Per­fections attract his Eye and Heart: Thou art all fair, my Love, Cant. 7. there is no spot in thee. His propriety in the Church is his unvaluable Treasure: My Vineyard which is mine, is ever be­fore me. He repeats the word Mine, in the sweetest and most tender man­ner. And the Church, with the same harmonious Affections, speaks of Christ. She contemplates in a soft ex­tasy his ever-satisfying Beauty. My Beloved is the chiefest of ten thousand, Cant. 10.16. he is altogether lovely. She breaks forth in triumph, My Beloved is mine, Cant. 6. and I am his. By all their expressions of joy­ful Love and Union, we may ascend in our Thoughts, what are the Joys of Heaven, where the Communion of Christ and the Church is entire and un­interrupted for ever? If Faith and Love of our unseen Saviour produce a Joy unspeakable and glorious, as if Be­lievers were wrap'd up to Paradise, or Paradise descended into them, what will the sight and fruition of him? There is as great a difference in de­grees between the Joy that flows from [Page 318] the assurance and application of Faith, and the Joy from Vision and full Pos­session, as between the impression of Joy the Forerunner of Christ felt, when he sprang in the Womb at the coming of our Saviour; and his ravishing Joy, when he saw Christ, and pointed him out to his Disciples, Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the Sins of the World.

3. The supream Joy of the Saints is for the Felicity and Glory of God him­self. For as the holy Soul feels no more powerful motive to love God, than be­cause he is most worthy of it, as he is God, a Being of infinite Excellencies, and therefore to be loved above the dearest Persons and Things, even it self; so the highest Joy it partakes of is from this consideration, that God is infinitely blessed and glorious. For in this the supream desire of Love is accomplish'd, that the most beloved Object is perfect­ly honour'd and pleased. In Heaven the Love of the Saints to God is in its highest Perfection, and they see his Glory in the most perfect manner, which causes a transcendent Joy to them. And this is one reason why the Saints, tho shining with unequal degrees of Glory, [Page 319] are equally content. For their most ardent Love being set on God, that he is pleased to glorify himself by such va­rious communications of his Goodness, is full satisfaction to their Desires. Be­sides, in those different degrees of Glo­ry, every one is so content with his own, Sic ita (que) ha­bebit donum aliud alio mi­nus, ut hic quo (que) donum habeat, ne velit amplius. Aug. that there is no possible desire of being but what he is.

4. In Heaven the innumerable Compa­ny of Angels, and the General Assembly of the Church of the First-born, as they receive Happiness from the sight of God, so they communicate the purest Pleasure to one another. An unfeign­ed ardent Affection unites that pure Society. Our Love is now kindled, either from a relation in Nature, or a civil Account, or some visible Ex­cellencies that render a Person wor­thy of our Choice and Friendship: but in Heaven the Reasons are greater, and the degrees of Love incomparably more fervent. All Carnal Alliances and Re­spects cease in that supernatural State. The Apostle tells us, If I have known Christ after the Flesh, I know him so no more. By the Resurrection and Ascen­sion of Christ he was transported into another World, and had communion [Page 320] with him as an Heavenly King, without low regards to the temporal Priviledg of conversing with him on Earth. The spiritual Relation is more near and per­manent than the strictest Band of Na­ture. The Saints have all relation to the same Heavenly Father, and to Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace, and Head of that happy Fraternity. The princi­pal Motives of Love here are the inhe­rent Excellencies of a Person. Wis­dom, Holiness, Goodness, Fidelity are mighty Attractives, and produce a more worthy Affection, a more intimate confederacy of Souls, than propinquity in Nature, or any carnal respects. Ver­tue is amiable in an old Person, tho wrinkled and deformed: Vice is hate­ful in a young Person, tho beautiful. There are clearer Eyes than those of Flesh, a purer Light than what is sensible, a diviner Beauty than what is Corporeal, and a nobler Love than what is sensual. David declares that all his delight was in the Excellent. But there are allays of this Spiritual Love here. For,

1. There are Reliques of Frailty in the best Men on Earth, some Blemishes that render them less amiable when dis­covered. [Page 321] Here their Graces are mix'd with Infirmities, and but ascending to Glory. Accordingly our Love to them must be regular, and serene, not cloud­ed with Error, mistaking Defects for amiable Qualities. But in Heaven, the Image of God is compleat, by the union of all the glorious Vertues requisite to its perfection. Every Saint there ex­actly agrees with the first Exemplar, a Divine Beauty shines in them ever durable, a Beauty that darts no conta­gious Fire, that is inviolable and can suffer no injury. The Apostle tells us, The Church shall be glorious in Holiness, without spot or wrinkle, or any thing that may cast an Aspect of deformity upon it.

2. In the present state the least part of the Saints Worth is visible. As the Earth is fruitful in Plants and Flowers, but its Riches are in Mines of precious Metals, and the Veins of Marble hidden in its Bosom. True Grace appears in sen­sible Actions, but its Glory is Within. O si animum boni viri lice­ret inspicere, ex magnifico placidó (que) ful­gentem! non­ne veluti nu­minis occursu obstupefacti essemus? Senec. The sincerity of Aims, the purity of Affections, the impresses of the Spirit on the Heart, the interior Beauties of Holiness, are only seen by God. Be­sides, such is the humility of eminent [Page 322] Saints, that the more they abound in spiritual Treasures, the less they show. As the heavenly Bodies when in nearest conjunction with the Sun, and fullest of Light, make the least appearance to our sight. But all their Excellencies shall then be in view. The Glory of God shall be revealed in them. And how at­tractive is the Divine Likeness to an holy Eye? How will it ravish the Saints to behold an immortal Loveliness shining in one another? Their Love is reciprocal, proportionable to the cause of it. An equal, constant Flame is preserv'd by pure Materials. Every one is perfectly amiable, and perfectly enamour'd with all. How happy is that state of Love? The Psalmist breaks out in a Rapture, Behold how good and pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in Vnity! Love is the Beauty and Strength of Societies, the Pleasure of Life. How excellent is the Joy of the Blessed, when the Prayer of Christ shall be accomplished, that they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. God is absolutely One in his glorious Nature and Will, and therefore unalterably Happy; And [Page 323] their inviolable Union in Love, is a Ray of the Essential Unity between the Sacred Persons. There are no Divisions of Heart and Tongues, as in this Babel; but the most perfect and sweetest Con­cord, an Eternal Agreement in Tem­pers and Inclinations. There are no envious Comparisons; for Love that affectively transforms one into another, causes the Glory of every Saint to re­dound to the Joy of all. Every one takes his share in the Felicity of all, and adds to it. Such is the Power of that Celestial Fire wherein they all burn, that it melts and mixes Souls in such an entire Union, that by Complacence, and an intimate Joy, the Blessedness of all is, as it were, proper to every one; as if every one were plac'd in the Hearts of all, and all in the Heart of every one. If in the Church of the First-born Chri­stians in the earthly Jerusalem, the Band of Charity was so strict, that 'tis said, the Multitude of Believers were of one Heart, and one Soul; How much more intimate and inseparable is the Union of the Saints in Jerusalem above, where every one loves another as himself? 'Tis re­corded of Alexander, that entring with Hephestion his Favorite, into the Pavi­lion [Page 324] of the Mother of Darius, then his Prisoner, she bowed to the Favorite, as having a greater appearance of Majesty, thinking him to be Alexander: But ad­vised of her Error, she humbly begg'd his Pardon. To whom the generous King replied,Non errâsti Mater, nam hic Alexander est. Curt. lib. 3. You did not err, Mother, this is also Alexander. Such was their Affection, that whoever was taken of them, the other was taken in him; the less ascending in the greater, without degrading the greater in the less. This is a Copy of the holy Love of the Bles­sed; but with the same difference, as between the Description of a Star with a Coal, and its Beauty in its proper Aspect. And where all is Love, all is Delight. The Act it self is its own Reward. As that benign and pleasant Affection is enlarged with respect to the Object, and its degrees, such is the complacence and delight that results from it. In that blessed Society there is a constant receiving and returning of Love and Joy. And that double exercise of the Saints, in the perfect circle of Love, is like the pleasant la­bour of the Bees, who all the day are flying to the Gardens, and returning to their Hives, and all their Art is in [Page 325] extracting the purest Spirits from fra­grant Flowers, and making sweet Ho­ney. O how do they rejoice and tri­umph in the Happiness of one another? With what an unimaginable tenderness do they embrace? What Reciprocati­ons of Endearments are between them? O their ravishing Conversation, and sweet Entercourse! for their Presence together in Heaven is not a silent Show. In the Transfiguration, Moses and Elias talk'd with Christ: We may under­stand a little of it, by the sensible com­placence that is among sincere Friends here. In pure Amity there is a three­fold Union: a Union of Resemblance, that is the principle of it; likeness causes Love: a Union of Affection, that is its Essence; 'tis said of Jona­than, that incomparable Friend, his Soul was knit with the Soul of David, and he loved him as his own Soul: the Union of Conversation, that is requi­site to the satisfaction of Love. What an entertainment of Love and Joy is there in the presence and discourses of dear Friends! their mutual Aspects, like a Chain compos'd of Spirits lumi­nous and active, draw and fasten their Souls to one another: The Felicity of [Page 326] Love consists in their Conversation. Now in Heaven whatever is pleasant in Friendship is in Perfection; and whatever is distastful by Mens Folly and Weakness is abolish'd. With what excellent Discourses do they entertain one another? If David felt such inward Pleasure from the sense of God's Fa­vours, that he could not restrain the expression of it, but invites the Saints, Come and hear, all ye that fear the Lord, and I will tell you what he has done for my Soul. Certainly in Heaven, the Blessed with overflowing Affections recount the Divine Benefits: the admirable Me­thods, whereby the Life of Grace was begun, preserv'd and carried on in the midst of Temptations; the continual Succession of Mercies in the time of their Hopes, and the Consummation of all in the time of their enjoyment. How joyfully do they concur in their Thanks­givings to God for the Goodness of Creation: in making them reasonable Creatures, capable to know, love and enjoy him, when they might have been of the lowest Order in the whole Sphere of Beings; for his compassionate Care and Providence over them in this World, but especially for his sovereign [Page 327] and singular Mercy in electing them to be Vessels of Honour; for his powerful Grace, in rescuing them from the cruel and ignominious Bondage of Sin: for his most free Love, that justified them from all their Guilt by the Death of his only Son, and glorified them with him­self. They are never weary in this de­lightful Exercise, but continually bless him for his Mercy that endures for ever. We may judg by the Saints here, when they are in a fit disposition to praise God, what Fervors they feel in their united Praises of him in Heaven. The Psalmist in an Extasy calls to all the parts of the World to join with him; The Lord reigns, let the Heavens rejoice, and the Earth be glad; let the Sea roar, let the Fields be joyful, and all that dwell therein. He desires that Nature should be elevated above it self, that the dead parts be inspired with Life, the insensible feel motions of Joy, and those that want a Voice break forth in Praises, to adorn the Divine Triumph. With what Life and Alacrity will the Saints in their blessed Communion celebrate the Ob­ject of their Love and Praises? The Seraphims about the Throne cried to one another, to express their Zeal and Joy, [Page 328] in celebrating his Eternal Purity and Power, and the Glory of his Goodness. O the unspeakable Pleasure of this Concert! when every Soul is harmoni­ous, and contributes his part to the full Musick of Heaven. O could we hear but some Eccho of those Songs where­with the Heaven of Heavens resounds, some remains of those Voices where­with the Saints above triumph in the Praises, in the solemn Adoration of the King of Spirits, how would it in­flame our Desires to be join'd with them? Blessed are those that are in thy House, they always praise thee.

3. The fulness of Joy in Heaven is everlasting, without defect, and with­out end.

1. 'Tis undecaying, the productive Causes are conservative of it, being always equal. Those are the beatifick Object, and the continual fruition of it. Whilst we are here below, the Sun of Righteousness, as to our per­ception and sense, has Ascensions and Declinations, Accesses and Recesses. And our Earth is not so purified, but some Vapours arise that intercept his chearful refreshing Light. From hence there are alternate successions [Page 329] of Spiritual Comforts and Sorrows, of Doubts and filial Confidence in the Saints. 'Tis a rare Favour of Heaven, when an humble Believer in his whole course is so circumspect, as not to pro­voke God to appear displeased against him: When a Christian (as those tute­lar Angels spoken of in the Gospel) al­ways beholds the Face of his Heavenly Father, and converses with him with an holy Liberty. And what a torment the hiding of God's Face is to a deserted Soul, only they know who feel it. Ex­ternal troubles are many times attended with more Consolations to the Spirit, than Afflictions to Sense; but to love God with a transcendent Affection, and to fear he is our Enemy, no Punishment exceeds, or is equal to it. As his Lo­ving-kindness in their esteem is better than Life, so his Displeasure is worse than Death. How do they wrestle with God by Prayers and Tears, and offer, as it were, a holy Violence to the King of Heaven, to recover their first serenity of Mind, the lost Peace of Heart? How passionately do they cry out with Job, in the Book of his Pati­ence, O that I were as in months past, Job. 29.2, 3, 4. as in the days when God preserved me: when [Page 330] his Candle shin'd upon my head, and when by his Light I walk'd through darkness: As I was in the days of my youth, when the Secret of God was upon my Tabernacle. And sometimes God delays the reveal­ing himself even to his dearest Children; not that he does not see their Necessi­ties, and hears their Prayers, or is so hard that till their Extremities he is not moved with Compassion, but for wise and holy Reasons; Either that they may not return to folly, if by any presumptu­ous Sin they forfeited their Peace; or if they have been careful to please him, yet he may deprive them of Spiritual Comforts for a time, to keep them hum­ble, and that with an obedient resigna­tion to his Sovereign Pleasure they may wait for his reviving Presence. And then Joy returns greater than before. For thus God usually renders with inte­rest what he suspended only for trial. But the Saints above are for ever en­lightned with the vital splendor, and dear regards of his Countenance, always enjoy his beamy smiles. A continual effusion of Glory illustrates Heaven and all its blessed Inhabitants.

And their Contemplation of God is fixed. If the Object, though extraor­dinary [Page 331] glorious, were transient, or the Eye so weak that it could only see it but by glances, the height of Joy would not be perpetual. But the mind is prepar'd with supernatural vigour, to see the brightness of God's Face, and by the most attentive application al­ways converses with that blessed Object; so that the Joy of Heaven is never in­termitted for a moment. They al­ways see, and love, and rejoice, and praise him.

'Tis possible a carnal suspicion may arise in some, as if the uniform perpe­tual vision of the same Glory might lose its perfect delightfulness. For those who seek for happiness in the vanity of the Creatures, are always desirous of change, and have their Judgments so corrupted, that while they languish with a secret desire after an unchange­able Good, yet they conceive no Good as desireable, that is not changed.

But to correct this gross errour of Fancy, let us a little enquire into the causes of Dissatisfaction, that make the constant fruition of the same thing here to be tedious.

Sensible things are of such a limited Goodness, that not any of them can [Page 332] supply all our present wants, so that 'tis necessary to leave one for another. And the most of them are Remedies of our diseased Appetites, and if not tempe­rately used, are destructive Evils. Eat­ing and Drinking are to extinguish Hunger and Thirst, but continued be­yond just measure, become nauseous. Besides, the Insufficiency of their Ob­jects, the Senses themselves cannot be satisfied all at once. The Ear cannot attend to delightful Sounds, and the Eye be intent on beautiful Colours at the same time. The Satisfaction of one Sense defeats another of enjoying its proper good; therefore the same Ob­ject is not constantly pleasant, but the Heart is distemper'd from as many Cau­ses, as there are desires unaccomplish'd. Add farther, all things under the Sun afford only a superficial delight, and miserably deceive the Expectations rai­sed of them: and many times there is a mixture of some evil in them, that is more offensive, than the good is delight­ful. The Honey is attended with a Sting, so that often those very things we sigh after through vehement desire, when they are obtain'd, we sigh for grief. Now all these Causes of dissatis­faction [Page 333] cease in Heaven; Vitae nos tae­dium tenet ti­mor mortis, natat omne consilium, nec implere nos ulla faelicitas potest. Causa autē est, quod non perveni­mus ad illud bonum im­mensum & in­superabile, ubi necesse est, consistat nobis voluntas no­stra, quia ul­tra summum non est locus. Senec. Ep. 74. for there is an infinite variety in God, and what­ever is truly desirable is eminently en­joyed in him. And in his Presence all the Powers of the Soul are drawn out in their most pleasant exercise, and always enjoy their entire hap­piness. The fruition of him exceeds our most raised hopes, as much as he is more glorious in Himself than in any borrowed Representations. God will be to us incomparably above what we can ask or think. The compass of our thoughts, the depth of our desires are imperfect measures of his Perfections. And as he is a Pure Good in Himself, so he is prevalent over all Evil. 'Tis evi­dent therefore that nothing can allay the Joys of Saints when they are in God's presence.

2. Novelty is not requisite to ingra­tiate every Good, and make it perfectly delightful. [...]. Arist. Eth. l. 7. c. ult. God is infinitely happy, to whom no Good was ever new. 'Tis indeed the Sauce that gives a delicious taste to inferior things. For Men re­lish only what is eminent; and the good things of this World are so truly mean, that they are feign to borrow a shew of Greatness by comparison with a worse [Page 334] estate preceding. But an infinite Good produces always the same pure equal compleat Joy, because it arises from its intrinsick perfection, that wants no Foil to commend it. The Psalmist breaks forth, Whom have I in Heaven but Thee? This is no vanishing Rapture, but a constant joyful height of Affection. God, the essential Happiness of the Saints, is always perfectly lovely and delightful to them.

3. The glorified Saints in every Pe­riod of their happy state, have as lively a perception of it as in the beginning. To make this evident, we must consi­der that the pleasure of Novelty springs from a quick sense of the opposite terms, between our condition in the want of some desired Good, and after our ob­taining it. Now the Mind is more in­tense on the advantage, and more strongly affected at first. One newly freed from the torments of a sharp dis­ease, feels a greater pleasure than from a constant tenour of health. Those who are rais'd from a low state to emi­nent Dignity, are transported with their first change, but in tract of time the remembrance of their mean condi­tion is so weakned and spent, that 'tis [Page 335] like the shadow of a Dream, and pro­portionably their Joy is lessened. Ho­nours like Perfumes, by custom are less sensible to those that carry them. But the Saints above always consider and feel the excellent difference between their suffering and triumphant state. They never lose that ravishing part of felicity, the vivid sense of past evils. Their reflections are always as strong on the Misery from whence they were rais'd to the pitch of Happiness, as in their first glorious Translation. In what an Extasy of wonder and pleasure will they be, from the fresh memory of what they were, and the joyful sense of what they are? I was (says the ad­miring Soul) poor, blind, and naked; but O miraculous and happy Altera­tion! I am full of Light, enrich'd with the Treasures of Heaven, adorn'd with Divine Glory. I was under the tyran­nous power of Satan, but he is bruised under my feet. I was sentenc'd to an everlasting separation from the Presence of God, my only Life and Joy; but now am possest of my supream Good. O how transporting is the comparison of these wide and contrary extreams? How beautiful and pleasant is the Day [Page 336] of Eternity, after such a dark tempe­stuous Night? How does the remem­brance of such Evils produce a more lively and feeling fruition of such Hap­piness? How strangely and mightily does Salvation with Eternal Glory affect the Soul? This gives a spritely accent to their everlasting Hallelujahs. This preserves an affectionate Heat in their Thanksgivings to their Victorious De­liverer. And thus their Happiness is always the same, and always new. Their Pleasure is continued in its Per­fection.

The number of Possessors cannot les­sen their Felicity. The Divine Pre­sence is an unwasted Spring of Plea­sure, equally full and open to all, and abundantly sufficient to satisfy the im­mensity of their Desires. Envy reigns in this World, because earthly things are so imperfect in their Nature, and so peculiar in their Possession, that they cannot suffice, nor be enjoyed by all. But in Heaven none is touch'd with that base low Passion: for God con­tains all that is precious and desirable in the highest degrees of Perfection, and all partake of his Universal Good­ness without intercepting one another. [Page 337] In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no cause for the Elder Brother to repine at the Father's Bounty to the Younger, nor for the Younger to supplant the Elder to obtain the Birth-right. The Heirs of God are all rais'd to Sovereign Glory, and every one enjoys him as en­tirely and fully as if solely his Felicity. God is a Good as indivisible as infinite, and not diminished by the most li­beral communications of Himself. We may illustrate this by comparing the Price of our Redemption, and the Reward. The Death of Christ is a universal Benefit to all the Saints, yet 'tis so applied to every Believer for his perfect Redemption, as if our Saviour in all his Agonies and Sufferings had no other in his Eye and Heart, as if all his Prayers, his Tears, his Blood were offer'd up to his Father only for that Person. The common respect of it the Apostle declares in those admirable words, that signify such an excess of God's Love to us, He that spared not his own Son, but deliver'd him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? But to imagin that the Et totum se dedit univer­sis, & totum singulis. Ac per hoc quic­quid passione sua Salvator praestitit, sicut totum ei de­bent universi, sic singuli; ni­si quod propè hoc plus sin­guli quam uni­versi, quod to­tum accepe run [...] singu [...] quantum un [...] versi. Salvian. propriety of every Believer is thereby prejudiced, is not only false, [Page 338] but extreamly injurious to the Me­rit and Dignity, and to the infinite Love of Christ. Therefore the same Apostle tells us, The Life which I now live in the Flesh, I live by the Faith of the Son of God; who loved me, and gave him­self for me: as if he were the sole Ob­ject of Christ's Love, the End and Re­ward of his Sufferings. And this appro­priating of it to himself, is no prejudice to the Rights of all others. St. John de­scribes himself by that truly glorious Title, The Disciple whom Jesus loved. Could he speak this of himself without the injury and indignation of the other Disciples? Certainly he might. For if we consider that incomprehensible Love of Christ, exprest to them all at his last Supper, after Judas was gone forth; As the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you; we may easily understand, that every one of them might justly be­lieve that he was singularly beloved of Christ. They were all received in the Heart, though (with John) they did not all lean on the Breast of their Di­vine Master. Thus in Heaven God is the universal Treasure of all the Saints, and the peculiar Portion of every one, not engross'd by possessing, nor wasted [Page 339] by enjoying. Si audiat multitudo si­lens, non inter se particulatim comminuunt sonos, tanquam cibos: sed om­ne quod sonat & omnibus to­tum est, & sin­gulis totum. August. in Ep. ad Volusan. As by his Essence he equally fills the whole World, and e­very part of it; and by his Providence equally regards all and every particular Creature; so in Heaven he dispenses the Riches of his Love to all, that they cannot desire more, if every one of them were the sole Heir of all the Me­rits of his Son, and enjoyed him alone for ever.

2. The Blessedness of the Saints, as 'tis without diminution, so 'tis with­out end: 'tis compleat and continual for ever. This makes Heaven to be Heaven; the Security is as valuable as the Felicity. There is no satiety of the present, no solicitude for the future. Were there a possibility, or the least suspicion of losing that happy State, it would cast an aspersion of bitterness upon all their Delights; it would di­sturb their peaceful Fruition, and joy­ful Tranquillity: as Hope in Misery allays Sorrow, so Fear in Happiness dashes Joy: and the more excellent the Happiness is, the more stinging would be the fear of losing it. But the Inheritance reserved in Heaven, is im­mortal, undefiled, and fades not away. And the Tenure of their Possession is [Page 340] infinitely firm, by the Promise of God, who is truly immutable, and immutably true, and by the Divine Power, the support of their everlasting Duration. Our Saviour assures his Disciples, Be­cause I live, ye shall live also: and he lives for evermore. This blessed Privi­ledg the Saints have by Jesus Christ, (who obtain'd eternal Redemption for them) above the Grace given to An­gels and Men in the first Creation. The Angels were upon trial of their Obedience, not in a determin'd State of Felicity. The first declination of Love and Subjection, was fatal to them. Woful Change! how unlike to them­selves in their Original Purity and Glo­ry! an unparallel'd Example of the Frailty of the Creature, and the Di­vine Severity. Man did stand in Pa­radise for a little while, and had a rui­nous Fall with all his Progeny. But the glorified Saints sit with Christ in Heavenly Places, and enjoy an un­changeable Happiness, as permanent as the everlasting Author of it, and the everlasting Soul the Subject of it. With God is the Fountain of Life. Who can pluck them out of the Hands and Bo­som of a Gracious God? He will ne­ver [Page 341] withdraw his Love, and they shall never forfeit it: for Sin is from the perversness of the Will and the disor­der of the Affections, join'd with some Error of the Mind. But in the Light of Glory, and full enjoyment of God, the Understanding is so perfectly illu­minated, the Will and Affections so exceedingly satisfi'd, that 'tis impossi­ble they should apprehend erroneously, or desire irregularly. God is Love, and will kindle in the Saints a pure Affection that Eternity shall not lessen. In the present state, our Love is imperfect; and as Fire out of its Sphere dies away by our neglect to feed it by proper Mate­rials, enamouring Considerations of God. But in Heaven the uncreated Sun attracts every Eye with the Light of his Beauty, and inflames every Heart with the heat of his Love. The glorious Presence of God is in different respects the Cause and Effect of our Love to him, for the sight of God is the most powerful Attractive to love him, and Love fixes the Mind up­on him. And the persevering Love of God assures the constant fruition of him: for by Love the supreme Good is possess'd and enjoyed. The Apostle [Page 342] tells us, Charity never fails, and there­fore the Happiness of Heaven never fails. They enjoy a better Immorta­lity, than the Tree of Life could have preserved in Adam. The Revolutions of the Heavens, and Ages, are under their Feet, and cannot in the least alter or determine their Happiness. After the passing of Millions of Years, still an entire Eternity remains of their en­joying God. O most desireable State! where Blessedness and Eternity are in­separably united. O joyful Harmony! when the full Chorus of Heaven shall sing, This God is our God for ever and ever. This adds an infinite weight to their Glory. This redoubles their Joys with infinite sweetness and secu­rity: for the direct pleasure of enjoy­ing God, is attended with the pleasant reflection it shall continue for ever. They repose themselves in the compleat fruition of their Happiness. God reigns in the Saints, and they live in him for ever. Eternity crowns and consummates their Felicity.

The Application.

From what has been discoursed we should,

1. Consider the woful Folly of Men in refusing such an Happiness, that by the admirable Favour of God is offer'd to their choice. Can there be an Ex­pectation, or Desire, or Capacity in Man of enjoying an Happiness beyond what is Infinite and Eternal? O blind and wretched World! so careless of e­verlasting Felicity. Who can behold, without compassion and indignation, Men vainly seeking for Happiness where 'tis not to be found, and after innumerable disappointments flying at an Impossibility, and neglect their So­vereign and final Blessedness? An Error in the first enquiry might have some colour of an Excuse, but having been so often deceived with painted Grapes for the Fruits of Paradise, that Men should still seek for substantial Blessed­ness to fill the Soul, in vain shows that can only feed the Eye, is beyond all degrees of Folly. Astonishing mad­ness! that God and Heaven should be despised in comparison of painted Tri­fles. [Page 344] This adds the greatest contumely to their Impiety. What powerful Charm obstructs their true judging of things? What Spirit of Errour possesses them? Alas, Eternal things are unseen! not of conspicuous moment, and therefore in the carnal Ballance are esteemed light, against temporal things present to the Sense. It does not appear what we shall be: The Vail of the visible Heavens co­vers the Sanctuary, where JESUS our High-Priest is entred, and stops the enquiring Eye.

But have we not assurance by the most infallible Principles of Faith, that the Son of God came down from Heaven to live with us, and die for us, and that he rose again to confirm our Belief in his excee­ding great and precious Promises con­cerning this Happiness in the Future State? And do not the most evident Principles of Reason and universal Ex­perience prove, that this World can­not afford true Happiness to us? How wretchedly do we forfeit the Preroga­tive of the reasonable Nature, by neg­lecting our last and blessed End? If the Mind be darkned, that it does not see the amiable Excellencies of God, and the Will be depraved that it does [Page 345] not feel their ravishing Power; the Man ceases to be a Man, and becomes like the Beasts that perish. As a blind Eye is no longer an Eye, being abso­lutely useless to that end for which it was made. And though in this present state Men are stupid and unconcern'd, yet hereafter their Misery will awaken them, to discover what is that Supream Good wherein their Perfection and Fe­licity consists. When their Folly shall be exposed before God, Angels, and Saints, in what extream confusion will they appear before that glorious and immense Theatre? Our Saviour told the unbelieving Jews, There shall be weeping, and gnashing of Teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Ja­cob, and all the Prophets in the Kingdom of God, and you your selves turn'd out. They shall be tortur'd with the desire of Happiness without possible Satisfa­ction. 'Tis most just that those who err without excuse, should repent with­out remedy.

2. Let us be seriously excited to ap­ply our selves with inflamed desires and our utmost diligence to obtain this un­changeable Happiness? In order to this we shall consider the causes of it, [Page 346] and the means whereby 'tis obtain'd.

The Original moving Cause is the pure rich Mercy of God that prepared it for his People, and prepares them for it. The procuring Cause is the merito­rious efficacy of Christ's Obedience and Sufferings. This is expresly declared by the Apostle; The wages of Sin is Death, but the gift of God is eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I. The designing, the preparation, and actual bestowing of the Heavenly Glory is from the Mercy of God. This will appear by considering,

1. That it is absolutely impossible that a meer Creature, though perfect, should deserve any thing from God. For enjoying its being and powers of working from his Goodness, the pro­duct of all is entirely due to him. And the payment of a Debt acquires no Ti­tle to a Reward. He is the Proprietary and Lord of all by Creation. Hence 'tis clear that in the order of distributive Justice nothing can be challenged from him.

2. Besides, such is the infinite Perfe­ction of God in Himself, that no benefit can redound to him by the Service of the Creature. When you have done all, [Page 347] say you are unprofitable Servants, for we have done but what we ought to do. The neglect of our duty justly exposes to punishment, but the performance of it deserves no Reward, because no advan­tage accrues to God by it. Who hath first given unto him, and it shall be recom­pensed to him again? He challenges all Creatures even of the highest order. To speak strictly therefore, When God crowns the Angels with Glory, he gives what is meerly his own, and does not render what is theirs. If he should leave them in their pure Nature, or de­prive them of their Being, he were no loser, nor injurious to them. For what Law binds him to enrich them with Immortal Glory, who are no ways pro­fitable to him, or to preserve that being they had from his unexcited Goodness. No Creature can give to him, therefore none can receive from him by way of valuable Consideration.

3. There is no proportion between the best Works of Men, and the excel­lency of the Reward, much less an equi­valence. 'Twas the just and humble acknowledgment of Jacob to God, I am less than the least of all thy Mercies, those that common Providence dispenses for [Page 348] the support and refreshment of this temporal Life. But how much less than the glorious Excellencies of the super­natural Divine Life, wherein the Saints reign with God for ever? The most costly, the most difficult and hazardous Services, are equally nothing in point of Merit, with the giving but a Cup of cold Water to a Disciple of Christ, there being no correspondence in value be­tween them and the Kingdom of Hea­ven. The Apostle tells us, I count the Sufferings of the present Life are not to be compar'd to the Glory that shall be revealed in us. And suffering is more than do­ing. God rewards his faithful Servants not according to the dignity of their Works, but his own Liberality and Magnificence. As Alexander having ordered fifty Talents of Gold to be gi­ven to a Gentleman in Poverty to sup­ply his want, and he surpris'd with that immense Bounty, modestly said, ten were enough; He replied, If fifty are too much for you to receive, ten are too little for me to give; therefore do you receive as Poor, I will give as a King. Thus God in the dispensing his Favours does not respect the meanness of our Persons or Services, but gives to us as a God. And [Page 349] the clearest Notion of the Deity is that he is a Being infinite in all Perfections, therefore all-sufficient and most willing to make his Creatures compleatly hap­py.

4. If a Creature perfectly Holy that never sinn'd is uncapable to merit any thing from God, much less can those who are born in a sinful State, and guilty of innumerable actual Transgres­sions, pretend to deserve any Reward for their Works. This were presump­tion inspir'd by prodigious Vanity. For,

1. By his most free Grace they are restored in conversion to that Spiritual Power by which they serve him. The Chaos was not a deader Lump before the Spirit of God moved on the Face of the Waters, than the best of Men were before the vital influences of the Spirit wrought upon them. And for this they are so deeply obliged to God, that if a thousand times more for his Glory were perform'd, yet they cannot discharge what they owe.

2. The continuance and increase of the powerful supplies of Grace to the Saints, who even since their holy calling by many laspes have justly deserved that God should withdraw his grieved Spi­rit, [Page 350] are new Obligations to Thankful­ness: and the more Grace, the less Merit.

3. The best Works of Men are im­perfect, allayed with the mixtures of Infirmities, and not of full weight in the Divine Ballance. If God should strictly examin our Righteousness, 'twill be found neither pure nor perfect in his Eyes, and without Favour and Indul­gence would be rejected. And that which wants Pardon, cannot deserve Praise and Glory. He shews Mercy to thousands that love him, and keep his Com­mandments. If Obedience were meri­torious, it were strict justice to reward them. The Apostle prays for Onesipho­rus, who had exposed himself to great danger for his love to the Gospel, The Lord grant he may find Mercy in that day. The Divine Mercy gives the Crown of Life to the Faithful in the day of eter­nal Recompences.

II. The meritorious Cause of our obtaining Heaven, is the Obedience of Jesus Christ comprehending all that he did and suffered to reconcile God to us. From him as the eternal Word we have all benefits in the order of Nature, for all things were made by him, and for him, [Page 351] as the incarnate Word, all good things in the order of Grace. What we enjoy in Time, and expect in Eternity, is by him. To shew what influence his Me­diation has to make us happy, we must consider;

1. Man by his Rebellion justly for­feited his Happiness, and the Law ex­acts precisely the Forfeiture. Pure Ju­stice requires the Crime should be pu­nish'd according to its Quality, much less will it suffer the guilty to enjoy the favour of God. For Sin is not to be considered as an Offence and Injury to a private Person, but the violation of a Law, and a disturbance in the order of Government, so that to preserve the honour of governing Justice, an equi­valent reparation was appointed. Till Sin was expiated by a proper Sacrifice, the Divine Goodness was a sealed Spring, and its blessed effects restrain'd from the guilty Creature. Now the Son of God in our assumed Nature of­fered up himself a Sacrifice in our stead, to satisfy Divine Justice, and removed the Bar, that Mercy might be glorified in our Salvation. The Apostle gives this account of it;Heb. 10.19, 20. We have boldness to enter into the Holiest, by the Blood of [Page 352] Christ, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us through the Vail, that is to say, his Flesh.

2. Such were the most precious Me­rits of his Obedience, that it was not only sufficient to free the guilty con­taminated Race of Mankind from Hell, but to purchase for them the Kingdom of Heaven. If we consider his Humane Nature, all Graces were born with him, as Rays with the Sun, and shin'd in the whole course of his Life in the excel­lence of Perfection. And the dignity of his Divine Person derived an immense Value to all he perform'd as Mediator. One Act of his Obedience was more ho­nourable to God than all the Lives of the Saints, the Deaths of the Martyrs, and the Service of the Angels. God was more pleased in the Obedience of his Beloved Son, than he was provok'd by the rebellion of his Servants. There­fore, as the just Recompence of it, he con­stituted him to be Universal Head of the Church, supream Judg of the World; invested him with Divine Glory, and with Power to communicate it to his faithful Servants. He is the Prince of Life. In short, it is as much upon the account of Christ's Sufferings that we [Page 353] are glorified, as that we are forgiven. The Wounds he received in his Body, the Characters of Ignominy, and Foot­steps of Death, are the Fountains of our Glory. His Abasement is the cause of our Exaltation.

If it be said, This seems to lessen the freeness of this Gift. The answer is clear;

This was due to Christ, but unde­served by us. Besides, the appointing his Son to be our Mediator in the way of our Ransom, was the most glorious Work of his Goodness.

2. The Means of our obtaining Hea­ven are to be considered. Though the Divine Goodness be free in its Acts, and there can be nothing in the Creature of Merit, or Inducement to prevail upon God in the nature of a Cause, yet he re­quires Qualifications in all those who shall enjoy that blessed unchangeable Kingdom. The Apostle expresly de­clares, 'Tis not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, Rom. 9.16. but of God that sheweth Mercy. But we must distinguish the Effects of this Mercy, which are dispen­sed in that order the Gospel lays down. The first Mercy is the powerful calling the Sinner from his corrupt and wretch­ed [Page 354] State; a second Mercy is the pardon­ing his Sins; the last and most eminent is the glorifying him in Heaven. Now 'tis clear that in this place, the shewing of Mercy, signifies the preventing Grace of God in Conversion; for in the 18th Verse, 'tis said, God shews Mercy to whom he will, and whom he will he har­dens. Where 'tis evident that shewing Mercy is oppos'd not to condemning, but to hardning; and consequently the intent of the words is this, That Di­vine Grace overcomes the Rebellious Will, softens the stiff and stubborn Heart, and makes it pliant to Obedi­ence. This flows from his pure good Will and Pleasure, without the least Motive from the Inclinations or Endea­vours of sinful Men. But the other Effects of God's Mercy require Condi­tions in the Subjects that receive them: for he pardons only penitent Believers, and glorifies none but persevering Saints.

To make this clear, 'tis worthy of Ob­servation, The Gospel has several De­nominations. 'Tis called a Law, a Co­venant, and a Testament. 'Tis called the Law of Faith, Rom. 3.27. and the Law of the Spiri­tual Life. As a Law, it signifies a new [Page 355] Right that God has most freely esta­blish'd in favour of lost Man, that com­mands certain Duties, and sets before them Eternal Life as the Reward of O­bedience, and Eternal Death the Pu­nishment of Disobedience. According to this the trial and decision of Mens everlasting States shall be, which is the Character of a true Law. This Law of Grace is very different from the Law of Nature, that requir'd intire Inno­cence, and for the least omission, or ac­cusing Act, past an irrevocable Doom upon the Offenders; for that strictness and severity is mollified by the Gospel, which accepts of sincere persevering Obedience tho imperfect; accordingly 'tis called the Law of Liberty. James 2. But the Law of Faith is unalterable, and admits of no Dispensation from the Duties re­quired in order to our being everlast­ingly happy.

2. The Gospel is stiled a Covenant, and that imports a reciprocal Engage­ment between Parties for the perfor­mance of the Matter contained in it. The Covenant of Grace includes the Promise of pardoning and rewarding Mercy on God's part, and the Conditi­ons on Man's, with respect to which 'tis [Page 356] to be perform'd. There is an inviola­ble dependence between them. He will be our God, Heb. 9. to make us happy, but we must be his People to yield unreserved Obe­dience to him. 2 Cor. He will be our Father, and we shall be his Sons and Daughters; but 'tis upon the terms of purifying our selves from all pollutions of Flesh and Spi­rit, and unfeigned endeavours to perfect Holiness in his fear. 'Tis astonishing Goodness that he is pleased to conde­scend to such a Treaty with fallen Crea­tures: by a voluntary Promise he en­courages them, but tho most free in making, 'tis conditional in the perform­ance. The constancy of his Holy Na­ture obliges him to fulfil his Word, but 'tis if we do not fail on our part by carelessness of our Duty. A Presumer may seal Assurance to himself, and be deceived in this great Matter, but God will not be mocked. If we prove false in the Covenant, he will be faithful, and exclude those from Heaven that were neglectful of the Conditions to which it is promised.

3. The Gospel is stiled, a Testament sealed in the Blood of Christ, confirm'd by his Death. The Donation of eternal Blessings in it is not absolute and irre­spective, [Page 357] but the Heirs are admitted to the possession of the Inheritance accor­ding to the Will of the rich liberal and wise Testator. There can be no regu­lar Title or Claim made out without performing what is required. And this is the Will of God and Christ our Sancti­fication, without which we cannot en­joy it.

Now from hence we may see the admirable Agreement between these two Notions, that Heaven is a Gift, and a Reward. 'Tis a Reward in the order of giving it, not due to the Work, but from the Bounty of the Giver. God gives Heaven to those that faithfully serve him. But their Service was due to God, of no worth in respect of Heaven; so that Man's Work is no Merit, and God's Reward is a Gift. Our everlasting Glory must be ascribed to his most free Grace, as much as the pardon of our Sins.

I shall now proceed to consider, what the Gospel declares to be indi­spensably requisite in order to our ob­taining of Heaven: this is compriz'd in the holy Change of Man's Nature, [Page 358] which I will briefly unfold, and shew how necessary it is to qualify us for Celestial Glory.

1. This holy Change is express'd in Scripture by the new Birth. Our Sa­viour, with a solemn repeated Assevera­tion,John 3.3. tells Nicodemus; Verily, verily, ex­cept a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Sin is natural to Man from his Conception and Birth, and infects with its Contagion all his Faculties. This is fomented and che­risht by Temptations that easily encom­pass him. The Understanding is pollu­ted with evil Principles, full of strong Prejudices, and lofty Imaginations a­gainst the supernatural Mysteries of Sal­vation. 'Tis full of Ignorance and Fol­ly, and from hence either rejects them as incredible, or despises them as imper­tinent or unprofitable. The Will is depraved and perverse, full of unruly and unhallowed Affections. The Sen­ses are luxurious and rebellious. In short, Man is so viciously and sensually inclined, so alienated from the Life of God, as if he had no diviner Part with­in him, that should aspire to a spiritual Blessedness, that should regulate and [Page 359] controul the excess of the inferiour Ap­petites. This is the unhappy Character Satan impress'd on him in his Fall, and without Renovation upon an infinite account he is uncapable of seeing God. This Renovation consists not in the change of his Substance, as the Water was miraculously turn'd into Wine at the Marriage in Cana of Galilee: the same Soul with its essential Powers, the same Body with its natural Senses, the Work of the Creator remains; but in the cleansing of his stain'd Nature, in the sanctifying his Faculties that are the Springs of his Actions, the whole Man is quickned into a Divine Life, and ena­bled to act in conformity to it. And of this the new Birth is a convenient Illu­stration. An active Principle of Holi­ness is planted in him, that springs up into visible Actions. The Apostle parti­cularly expresses it in his earnest Prayer for the Thessalonians, The very God of Peace sanctify you wholly, and preserve your whole Spirit, Soul and Body blame­less, till the coming of Jesus Christ. Every Faculty is renewed, and every Grace infused that constitutes the Divine Image. The Mind is renewed by Spi­ritual Light, to believe the Truth and [Page 360] Goodness of unseen Things promised, the reality and dreadfulness of Things threatned in the Word of God. It sees the truest Beauty in Holiness, the highest Honour in Obedience to God, the greatest Equity and Excellence in his Service. The Will is renewed by holy Love, a purifying Flame, and feels the attractive virtue of our blessed End, before all desirable Things on Earth, and determines to pursue it in the vi­gorous use of proper means. The Body is made an holy Instrument fit for the renewed Soul. In short, the natu­ral Man becomes Spiritual in his Per­ceptions, Resolutions and Actions. All things are become New. There is a firm assent, an inviolable adherence to those most precious Objects revealed in the Scripture, and a sincere chosen constant Obedience flows from the renewed Fa­culties. And from hence we may di­stinguish between regenerating Grace, and formal Hypocrisy in some, and the proficiency of Nature, and power of common Grace in others. A Hypocrite in Religion is acted from without, by mercenary base respects; and his Con­science being cauteris'd, handles sacred Things without feeling: a regenerate [Page 361] Person is moved by an internal living Principle, and performs his Duties with lively Affections. Natural Conscience under the compulsion of Fear, may lay a restraint upon the outward Acts of Sin, without an inward Consent to the San­ctity of the Law. Renewing Grace cleanses the Fountain, and the Current is pure. It reconciles the Affections to the most Holy Commands. I love thy Law because 'tis pure, saith the Psalmist.

A Moral Principle may induce one to abstain from many Sins, and to per­form many praise-worthy things in con­formity to Reason. But this is neither sanctifying nor saving; for it only prunes Sin as if it were a good Plant, and does not root it up; it compounds with it, and does not destroy it. There may be still an impure Indulgence to the secret lustings of the Heart, not­withstanding the Restraint upon their Exercise. And many Duties may be done on lower Motives, without a di­vine respect to the Commands and Glory of God.

But renewing Grace subjects the Soul to the whole Royalty of the Law, uni­formly inclines it to express Obedience to all its Precepts, because they are [Page 362] pure, and derived from the eternal Spring of Purity. It mortifies Concu­piscence, and quickens to every good Work, from a Principle of Love to God, and in this is distinguisht from the most refined unregenerate Morality. In short, there may be a superficial tincture of Religion from common Grace, a tran­sient Esteem, vanishing Affections, and earnest Endeavours for a time after Spi­ritual Things, and yet a Person remain in a state of Unregeneracy. But renew­ing Grace is a permanent solid Principle, that makes a Man partaker of the Divine Nature, and elevates him above himself.

This holy Change is wrought by Divine Power. Our Saviour tells Nicodemus, Except a Man be born of Water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. The Ana­logy of a new Birth signifies, that 'tis entirely the Work of the sanctifying Spirit, that conveys a Principle of Life in order to the Functions of it. 'Tis the living Impression of God, the sole Efficient and Exemplar of it, the Fruit and Image of the Divine Vertues. 'Tis exprest by the new Creature. The pro­duction of it is attributed to God's Power displaying it self in a peculiar [Page 363] excellent way, even in that precise manner, as in making the World. For as in the first Creation all things were made originally of nothing, so in the se­cond, the Habit of Grace is infused into the Soul that was utterly void of it, and in which there was as little prepa­ration for true Holiness, as of Nothing to produce this great and regular World. And altho there is not only an absolute privation of Grace, but a fierce resistance against it, yet creating invincible Power does as infallibly and certainly produce its Effect in forming the new Creature, as in making the World. From hence it appears that preventing renewing Grace is so intire­ly the Work of God; as his forming the humane Body from the Dust of Earth at first. But with this difference, the first Creation was done without any sense in the Subject, of the efficiency of the Divine Power in producing it: but in the new Creation, Man feels the vital Influence of the Spirit, applying it self to all his Faculties, reforming and enabling them to act according to the quality of their Nature.

And by the way we may observe the admirable Grace shewed to Man in the [Page 364] renovation of his corrupted Nature. In the composition of his Being are united a Spirit like the Angels, and a Body like terrestrial Animals, by which he partakes of the spiritual and natural Life: but he has peculiar Favours con­ferred upon him. For, whereas his Soul sinn'd with the Angels, and his Bo­dy dies with the Beasts, yet God is pleased to restore them by his glorious Power. An Angel after Sin never re­pents, and is therefore incapable of Pardon, and irrecoverably disinherited of Heaven: a Beast after Death never revives: but though Man sins and dies, yet his Soul may be renewed by Divine Grace, and his Body shall be raised in an incorruptible Glory.

Now the indispensable necessity of this holy Change is evident from the Words of our Saviour, for he speaks universally, Except a Man be born a­gain, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. He does not simply declare that an un­regenerate Man shall not, but with the greatest Emphasis, cannot, to signify an absolute impossibility of it. The Jews highly presumed of the priviledg of their carnal Birth, they sprang from the pure and noble Blood of Abraham, [Page 365] God's Friend; they had the Seal of the Holy Covenant mark'd in their Flesh: and hence it was proverbial amongst them, that every Israelite should have a part in the World to come. But our Sa­viour overthrows this vain conceit, and tells them that the supernatural Birth entitles to the supernatural Inheritance. Circumcision then, and Baptism now, without real Grace is an ineffectual sign, of no avail to Salvation.Rom. 8.17. In the quality of Sons, we are Heirs of God's Kingdom. And that honourable Relation we have upon a double account;Gal. 4.7. by Adoption and Regeneration. Divine Adoption is not a meer change of our state, a na­ked Declaration that one shall be digni­fied with the Title of God's Son; but a holy Nature is always infused into the Person, whereby he is made like to God in his Excellencies. In this it differs from humane Adoption, that gives the Name and Arms, the Honour and E­state of the Adopter to a Person, with­out conveying any of his intellectual or moral Endowments. Whom God a­dopts, he begets to a Divine Life. Be­sides, our Saviour purchased this high Priviledg for us: God sent his Son made of a Woman, under the Law, to redeem [Page 366] them that were under the Law, that we might receive the Adoption of Sons: By U­nion with him we receive the investiture of this Dignity. Now whoever is in Christ is a new Creature. For the quickning Spi­rit, that is to the Soul what the Soul is to the Body, the principle of Life and Strength, of Beauty and Motion, and an active purifying Faith that is influ­ential upon all other Graces, are the Band of that vital Union: So that as all in Adam are universally corrupt by the first Birth, all that are in Christ are made holy by a new Birth. But of this I shall speak in the next Chapter more fully, under a distinct Head. Briefly, the Spirit of Grace that sanctifies, is the Spirit of Adoption that seals our Right to that Kingdom.

Now the Reasons why this Change must be in order to our obtaining of Heaven, are these:

1. There is an exquisite Wisdom shines in all God's Works, in disposing them for the ends to which they are appoin­ted: and is it not monstrously absurd to imagin, he will admit into his Pre­sence and Kingdom, those that are ab­solutely unqualified for its Blessedness, and opposite to its Purity?

[Page 367]2. His invariable Justice excludes for ever all unholy Persons from Heaven. For in the last Judgment God will be glorified as a Governour, in the distri­bution of Rewards with respect to the Obedience and Disobedience of Men. 'Tis worthy of observation, that the Actions of God on the reasonable Creatures are of two sorts. Some pro­ceed from his soveraign good Pleasure, of which there is no motive or reason in the Subjects on which they are ter­minated. Thus by a free and insupera­ble Decree (when all Mankind, laps'd and miserable, was in his view) he chose some to be Vessels of Mercy, and by priviledg separated them from the rest that finally perish. Now what in­duc'd him to place a singular Love on the Elect? There was nothing in them to incline his Compassion, being equally guilty and depraved with the rest of the Progeny of Adam. This difference therefore is to be resolved into his un­accountable and adorable Will, as the sole cause of it. Thus God declares it to be his glorious Prerogative, I will have Mercy on whom I will have Mercy, and I will have Compassion on whom I will have Compassion. And this is no unjust [Page 368] acceptance of Persons: For as a Bene­factor, he may dispense his own Favours as he pleases. A Gift from meer and arbitrary Bounty may be bestowed on some, and not on others, without inju­stice. But there are other Actions of God for which there is an evident rea­son in Men on whom they are termi­nated. Thus as the supreme Judg, with­out respect of Persons, 1 Pet. 1.17. he will judg and reward every Man according to his Works. The Evangelical Law (as was toucht on before) is the rule of eternal Judg­ment,Rom. 2.16. Acts 26.18. and gives a right from the gra­cious Promise of God, to all penitent Believers in the Kingdom of Heaven, and excludes all impenitent Infidels. Divine Justice will illustriously appear then in distinguishing Believers from Unbelievers by their Works, the pro­per Fruits either of Faith or Infidelity. All the thick Clouds of Disgraces, Ca­lumnies, Persecutions, that often op­press the most sincere Christians here, shall not then darken their Holiness; and all the specious appearances of Pie­ty, which the most artificial Hypocrites make use of to deceive others, shall not conceal their Wickedness. And accor­dingly the one shall be absolved and [Page 369] glorified, the others condemned and punish'd for ever. In short, without violation of his own righteous establish­ment in the Gospel,Heb. 12.14. God cannot re­ceive the unholy into his Glory.

3. Besides the Legal Bar that ex­cludes unsanctified Persons from the beatifick vision of God, there is a mo­ral incapacity. Suppose that Justice should allow Omnipotence to translate such a Sinner to Heaven, would the Place make him happy? Can two incongruous Natures delight in one another? The happiness of Sense is by an impression of Pleasure from a suitable Object: The happiness of intellectual Beings arises from an en­tire conformity of dispositions. So that unless God recede from his Holiness, which is absolutely impossible, or Man be purified, and changed into his like­ness, there can be no sweet Communion between them. Our Saviour assigns this Reason of the necessity of Regene­ration in order to our admission into Heaven: That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spi­rit, is Spirit. According to the quality of the Principle, such is what proceeds from it. The Flesh is a corrupt Princi­ple, [Page 370] and accordingly the Natural Man is wholly carnal in his propensions, ope­rations, and end. The Disease is turn'd into his Constitution. He is dead to the Spiritual Life, to the actions and enjoyments that are proper to it: Nay, there is in him a surviving Principle of Enmity to that Life: not only a mortal coldness to God, but a stiff aversation from him, a perpetual resistance and im­patience of the Divine Presence, that would disturb his voluptuous enjoy­ments. The Exercises of Heaven would be as the Torments of Hell to him, while in the midst of those pure Joys his inward inclinations vehemently run in­to the lowest Lees of Sensuality. And therefore till this Contrariety, so deep and predominant in an unholy Person, be removed, 'tis utterly impossible he should enjoy God with satisfaction. As it was necessary that God should become like Man on Earth, to purchase that Fe­licity for him, so Man must be like God in Heaven before he can possess it. Ho­liness alone prepares Men for Celestial Happiness; that is against the corrup­tion and above the perfection of meer Nature.

[Page 371]I shall now proceed to consider more particularly what is requisite in order to our obtaining of Heaven.

1. Faith in the Redeemer is absolute­ly required of all that will partake of the Salvation purchased by him.John 3.16. God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten Son; that whoever believes in him, should not perish, but have Eternal Life. This is the Spirit and Substance of the Gospel, therefore I will briefly unfold it. The Son of God having assumed the human Nature, and performed what was necessary for the expiation of Sin,Phil. 2.8, 9. the Father was so pleased with his Obedience, that from his lowest State he rais'd him to Divine Glory, and gave him supream Authority, and all-sufficient Power to communicate that Glory to others. Thus our Saviour declares;John 17.2. Thou hast given him (i. e. the Son) power over all Flesh, that he should give Eternal Life to as many as thou hast given him. And he exhorts the People, Labour for that Meat that endures unto Eternal Life, John 6. which the Son of Man shall give unto you, for him hath God the Fa­ther sealed. Now this glorious Life is not given to all, but only to those who are united to him. As Adam, the [Page 372] principle of the carnal corrupt Nature, derives Guilt and Death to all his Proge­ny: so Jesus Christ (who is opposed to him) the Head and Prince of the re­newed State, communicates Life and Glory to his People. The Apostle ex­presses it,1 Cor. 15.22. As in Adam all dye, his na­tural Descendants are involv'd in his Condemnation; even so in Christ shall all be made alive: that is, all that are spiri­tually united to him, shall partake of his glorious Resurrection. And St. John tells us,1 John 5.12. He that hath the Son, hath Life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not Life. The having the Son, upon which our right to Eternal Life depends, is belie­ving in him. Faith has a principal Ef­ficiency in receiving Christ, therefore 'tis exprest by that Act;John 1.13. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the Sons of God, (and conse­quently Heirs of Glory) so as many as believed on his Name. And Christ is said to dwell in our Hearts by Faith. Ephes. 3.17. This is not a meer assent to the Doctrines of the Gospel concerning the Dignity of his Person, that he is in so high and glorious a Relation of being the Eter­nal Son of God, and the infinite value of his Merits, whereby he is able to save [Page 373] all that come unto God by him, and his merciful compassionate Nature to em­brace returning Sinners, and the excel­lency of the benefits purchased by him, but such a Belief as sways the Will and Affections to receive him upon God's terms for our Salvation. Faith is seated in the whole Soul, in the Mind and Heart, and accepts of Christ intirely as Prophet, Priest, and King. The parts of the Mediator's Office, are inseparably connected, and all the Effects of them are communicated to the same Persons. Jesus Christ is made of God to Believers, 1 Cor. 1. Wisdom; to cure their Ignorance and Folly; Righteousness, to abolish their Guilt; Sanctification, to renew their Na­tures; and Redemption, to free them at last from the Grave, and bring them to Glory. From hence 'tis clear, that the Faith, which is justifying and saving, in­cludes in its Nature, as dependance and trust in Christ as a powerful and merci­ful Mediator, that is able and willing to reconcile us to God, and make us for ever happy in his Favour; so a sincere resolution of Obedience and Subjection to all his holy Commands, even to the plucking out of the right Eye, and the cutting off the right hand, the parting [Page 374] with the most pleasing or profitable Sins. For the Promises of God that are the Rule of Faith, make an offer of Christ upon these Conditions to us: Him hath God exalted with his right hand, Acts 5.31. to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give re­pentance to Israel, and forgiveness of Sins. And only the Justified shall be glorified. Rom. 8. Those therefore who desire a partial interest in him as a Saviour, out of ab­solute necessity to escape Hell, and will not out of Love submit to him as their Prince, have not that Faith that is unfeigned, and gives a title to Eternal Life by the Promises of the Gospel.

2. We must chuse Heaven as our su­pream Happiness, and regard it as the main end of our Lives. Man fell from his Duty and Felicity by preferring sensual Pleasure before the Favour of God, and became guilty of the greatest Disobedi­ence and Dishonour to his Maker, and is restored by the holy change of his Will, the setting his Affections on a pure Spiritual Blessedness. This subli­ming the Will, and turning its Love and Choice from the Creatures to God, is the effect of Divine Grace, and wrought in a rational way. For Man is not mo­ved as artificial Engines by force, nor [Page 375] as Brutes from necessity, their Faculties being determined by the outward appli­cation of Objects: he is not drawn up to Heaven by such a natural impression, as Steel by the Load-stone, nor forc'd by a violent motion as a Stone ascends, but as an understanding free Agent, by the direction of the enlightned Mind, and the consent of the Will, an elective un­constrained Faculty. And herein the Wisdom, Goodness and Equity of God's Transactions with Man appears. His Wisdom, in that as he has ordered in the whole sphere of Nature, that the active Powers of every Creature, be drawn forth into exercise for their pre­servation, and accordingly he is pleased to work in and by them; so the Under­standing and Will, the Principles of Operation in Man, are to deliberate and choose in order to his Happiness. Otherwise the rational Faculties would be in vain. His Goodness and Equity, in that he sets before them Eternal Life as the Reward of Obedience. God will be glorified by him as a Law-giver and a Benefactor, and has ordained in the Gospel, that all who chuse and di­ligently seek the Kingdom of Heaven shall infallibly obtain it, and none be [Page 376] deprived of it but for their neglect. The Decree of a final state of Misery, though not in time, yet is consequent in the order of causes to the obstinate reluctancy of Sinners against restoring Grace, and the wilful forsaking their own Mercies. Therefore God vindi­cates the Equity of his Proceedings with Men by their own Principles, and with tender pity expostulates, Why will ye die? The corrupt Will, declining from God, and adhering to the Crea­ture as its Happiness, is the true cause of Man's ruin. This will infinitely clear the Wisdom and Justice, the Purity and Goodness of God from all Imputation.

The choice of Heaven for our Felicity is primarily to be deter­mined, for 'tis from the prospect of it that all holy Counsels derive their Life and Vigour. As in drawing the Picture of a Man, the first work is to delineate the Head, not only as the part that in dignity and eminence is a­bove the rest, but as it regulates the drawing of the other parts, and gives a just proportion and correspondence be­tween them, without which the whole Figure becomes disordered and mon­strous. Thus in the moral considera­tion [Page 377] of Man, that which is primarily to be considered is the Soul, and its final Fe­licity, as incomparably more excellent than the Body and its Pleasures: for this will have a powerful influence upon the whole Life, directing to avoid what is inconsistent and impertinent, and to do what is conducive to it.

Now this being a matter of unspeak­able importance, I will,

  • First, Shew what the regular Choice of Heaven includes, as to its Qualities and Effects.
  • Secondly, Direct how to make this Choice.
  • Thirdly, Present some powerful Mo­tives to excite us to it.

The Qualities of this Choice are three.

  • 1. It must be sincere and cordial.
  • 2. Early, in our first and best Days.
  • 3. Firm and constant.

1. It must be sincere and cordial. The most essential and active Desire in humane Nature is to Happiness; but there being two kinds of good Things [Page 378] presented to the Will, that solicit the Affections, the Pleasures of Sense, and spiritual Joys, from hence it is that that which makes Men happy is the Object of Election. And although there is nothing more uniform and inviolable than the natural inclination to Happi­ness, yet the great distinction of Man­kind arises from this source, the regular or perverse use of this Inclination, the wise or mistaking choice of Happiness. Now the sincerity of our Choice is dis­covered, when 'tis clear and entire, a­rising from a transcendent esteem of the Favour and Enjoyment of God as our chief Good, and absolutely requi­site for us. And from hence it is evi­dent that the Choice of true Happi­ness, necessarily includes the despi­sing and rejecting of the false Happi­ness that stands in competition with it. There cannot be two reigning Principles in the Soul: for it cannot vigorously apply it self to two Ob­jects at the same time. Our Saviour has decided it, No Man can serve two Masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or hold to the one and despise the other: ye cannot serve God and Mammon. The Masters are [Page 379] irreconcileable, and their Commands are directly opposite. It was as possi­ble to place upon the same Altar the Ark of God, and the Idol of the Phi­listins, as that Heaven and the World should compound and take equal shares in our Affections. Indeed, if the Conceptions in the Mind are but faint and floating of the universal satisfying Goodness of the Object proposed to make us happy, the Will remains in suspence; but when 'tis clearly and strongly represented, the Heart is drawn entirely to embrace it. Divine Grace, by the illumination of the Un­derstanding, purifies and changes the depraved Will, and heals the distem­pered Affections. The wise Merchant that had a discerning Eye saw reason enough to part with all, that he might gain the Pearl of Price, the Grace and Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Apostle declares his resolute contempt of the concurrence of all the Preroga­tives either the Law or the World could afford him, that he might have an Interest in Christ, the Reconciler and Restorer of Man to the Favour and Fellowship of God. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss [Page 380] for Christ; yea doubtless I count all things but loss for the Excellency of the Knowledg of Jesus Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I might win Christ. The glorious Gospel is the brightest and most pleasant Light that ever shone upon the World, a Revela­tion of the deepest Wisdom and most admirable Love, wherein the Combi­nation of God's holy and wonderful Counsels for our Salvation is unfolded; and accordingly St. Paul, with the greatest Life of Affection, sets forth his value of it, and by full and most vilify­ing Expressions, rejects all things in comparison of it.

2. The Sincerity of the Heavenly Choice is discovered by a zealous ob­servance of the Means requisite in order to it. Inanimate things incline to rest in their Centre, the Rational intend and pursue it. The blessed End, when va­lued and respected according to its worth, excites and directs the Affecti­ons and Endeavours in that order and measure as is proportionable to its Ex­cellency, and the Difficulties of obtain­ing it. There may be a naked estima­tion, and some desires of Eternal Hap­piness [Page 381] simply considered, yet the Will remains incompleat and undetermined in its choice: for the End in conjunction with the Means is propounded to us, and the carnal Man will not consent to the Means. He dislikes the Holiness of Religion, and will rather forfeit Hea­ven, than submit to such strict terms. Though with Balaam, in a fit of Devo­tion, he says, O that I might die the death of the Righteous, and that my last End might be like his; yet from Indulgence to his sensual Inclinations, he will not live as the Righteous. All his Wishes of true Happiness are soon strangled by the predominant love of some Vanity. 'Tis said of the Israelites, Psal. 106.14. they despised the plea­sant Land, not absolutely in it self, for it was the Glory of all Lands, abounding with things for the support and delight of Man; but considering its distance, a Wilderness waste and wild interposing, and the Enemies to be encountred, they did not think it worthy of under­going such Hazards and Difficulties. The Land of Canaan was a Type of Heaven, both with respect to its plea­santness, and the manner of the Israelites obtaining it. Their Title to it was de­rived from the rich Bounty of God, [Page 382] therefore 'tis called the Land of Promise; but it was to be possess'd by Conquest. Thus the Celestial Canaan is the pure Gift of God, but the actual enjoyment of it is obtained by victorious resistance, against the Enemies of our Salvation. And Carnal Men despise this pleasant Land, the Promise being inseparably joined with Precepts of Duty and Obe­dience, from which they are averse. But he that chuses sincerely, is joyful and vigorous in the use of means for ac­quiring his most desired Good. Ardent Affections, like Elijah's Chariot of Fire, ravish the Soul above this sensible World, to the place where God dwells in Glory. Zeal animates his Endeavours, as the Motion of the Heart diffuses the Spirits into the Arteries, to convey Life to all parts of the Body. One thing (saith the inflamed Psalmist) have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek af­ter, that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the Beauty of the Lord, and to enquire into his Temple. The sensual Man is ranging abroad for satisfaction, and shoots all the Game that crosses his Eye; but the Soul that has a discovering Light, and feeling heat of the divine Beauty, unites [Page 383] all its desires in God, and with affection to an Extasy longs for the enjoyment of him, and the endeavours are in some proportion to the desires. Our Saviour tells us, That from the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Some previous Rays of the Sun of Righteousness appeared in his Mini­stry, and produc'd such a holy Ardency in those Converts, that with all resoluti­on, diligence and earnestness they sought to be partakers of the Blessedness re­vealed. Lazy Desires, easy Prosecuti­ons, sluggish Attempts, discover that the Heart is not throughly engaged for the spiritual Eternal Good. When the End is truly designed, it will give Law to the Actions. This is visible in Men who are wholly led by Sense, how sagacious, how sollicitous are they to accomplish their Ends and base Designs? They try all ways either by fine dissimulation, or toilsome industry, to obtain their De­sires. No time is too much in their gainful Affairs, or voluptuous Enjoy­ments. They transform the Night to lengthen out the Day for their Profit, they vail the Day to lengthen out the Night for their Ease and Pleasure. But [Page 384] alas, Heaven is only regarded by the By; as if the intellectual Soul were on­ly given to dwell with the Body on Earth, the place of its Banishment, and direct Affairs here below, and not to lead in the way to Heaven, the place of its Nativity, and prepare for ano­ther World. The Work of Salvation is followed with that remiss degree of Affection, as if it were a slight matter whether performed or neglected. These Persons carry their Conviction in their Bosoms; for they are ardent and active to obtain inferior and infinitely less concerning Ends, but with that cold ap­plication mind the superior nobler End of Man, that it is wholly fru­strate, which plainly shews it was ne­ver seriously intended by them.

The sight of Worldly Men so active and vigilant to prosecute their low De­signs, should quicken us to seek with greater diligence and alacrity the King­dom of Heaven, and the Righteous­ness thereof. A Carnal Wretch, urged by the sting of a brutish Desire, with what impatience doth he pursue the Pleasures of Sin that are but for a sea­son? An ambitious Person, with what an intemperate height of Passion does he [Page 385] chase a Feather? A covetous Man, how greedily does he pursue the Advanta­ges of the present World that passes a­way, and the Lusts thereof? Ah! how do they upbraid our indifferent Desires, our dull Delays and cold Endeavours, when such a high Prize is set before us? Who is able to conceive the ravishing Pleasure of the Soul when it first en­ters through the beautiful Gate of the Celestial Temple, and sees the Glory of the Place, and hears a Voice from the Throne, Enter into thy Master's Joy, to be happy with him for ever? The se­rious belief of this, will draw forth all our active Powers in the Service of God.

3. The sincerity of our Heavenly Choice declares it self, in the temper and frame of our Hearts, with respect to all temporal Things in this World. For our main and happy End being e­stablished, that it consists not in secu­lar Riches, and Honours, and the Pleasures of Sense, but in the clear Vi­sion of God, the blessedness of the Spirit; it follows that all present things are in our use so far Good or Evil, and to be desired or not, as they are profi­table or prejudicial to our obtaining [Page 386] Salvation, as they conduct or divert us from Heaven. A wise Christian looks on temporal things not through the Glass of disordered Passions, that are impetuous and impatient for what is grateful to them, but with reference to his future Happiness. He considers the train of Temptations that attend an exalted Condition, and desires such a portion of these things, as may re­dound to the Glory of the Giver, and be improved for his own Salvation. This Purity of Affections our Saviour teaches us: For in his Divine Form of Prayer, the true Directory of our De­sires, are set down in an admirable order all things we are to pray for. And they respect the End, or the Means. The End is the primary Ob­ject of our Desires, accordingly the two first Petitions concern our blessed End, as it respects God and our selves. We pray, Hallowed be thy Name, that is, by the reverence and adoration of all his Subjects: and, Thy Kingdom come, that is, for the manifestation of his Eternal Glory in the next World, that we may reign with him. The Means in order to this End are of two sorts. Some conduct to it by themselves, those [Page 387] are the good things desired in the third and fourth Petitions; and some lead to it by accident, and those are the freedom from Evils express'd in the last Petition. The good things desi­red, either have a direct influence up­on our obtaining Happiness; and they are summ'd up in our universal Obedi­ence to God's Will, express'd in the third Petition, Let thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven; or they are such as by way of subserviency promote our Happiness, and those we pray for in the fourth Petition, Give us this day our daily Bread. And 'tis observable there is but one Petition for Temporal Blessings, and 'tis the last in the order of those that concern good things. And that single Petition is so restrained, that 'tis evident by its Tenour, that earthly things are not absolutely good to be desired for themselves, but rela­tively and subordinately to our eternal Good. Daily Bread we must ask of our heavenly Father, the necessary sup­port of the present Life, without which we cannot exercise our internal or ex­ternal Powers and Faculties in his Ser­vice, but not Delicacies and Abundance for the luxurious Appetite.

[Page 388]The difference of Conditions in the present World is very great: as in Pha­raoh's Dream, some Ears of Corn were so full and weighty that they bended with their weight; others so thin and blasted, that they were as Stubble for the Fire. Thus some abound in all Feli­cities possible in this Life, others are chastened every Morning, under various and continual Afflictions. Now this infallible Principle being planted in the Heart, that all present things are to be improved with respect to our future Happiness, will moderate the Affections in Prosperity, so to use the World that we may enjoy God, and make us not only patient, but pleased in Adversi­ties, as they are preparatory for Hea­ven.

The Original of all the Sins and Mi­sery of Men,Frui est amore alicujus rei in­haerere prop­ter seipsam uti autem, quod in usum vene­rit, ad id quod amas obtinen­dum referre. Aug. de Doct. Christ. is their perverse abuse of things, by turning the Means into the End, setting their Affections of Love, Desire, and Joy upon sensible things, as their proper Happiness, with inconsi­derate neglect of the spiritual eternal state, to which all other things should be subservient. As if one diseased and sickly in a Forreign Country, that could not possibly recover Health but [Page 389] in his Native Air, in his return thither, invited by the pleasantness of the way, should take up his residence in it, and never arrive to his own Country. Among the West Indians some are Acosta. reported to be so swift in running, that no Horse can keep pace with them, and they have a constant rule in their Diet, to eat of no Beast, or Bird, or Fish that is slow in motion, fancying it would transfuse a sluggishness in them. The Christian Life is by the Apostle compar'd to a Race, and earth­ly things by an inseparable property of Nature load and depress the Soul, that it cannot with vigour run the Race set before it. The Believer therefore who intends for the high price of his Calling, and is true to his End, will be temperate in all things. Nay, he will not only be circumspect, lest they should check with his great Design, but wisely ma­nages them in subserviency to it. St. Paul charges them that are rich in this World, to do good, 1 Tim. 9.18, 19. to be rich in good Works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying in store for them­selves a good Foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal Life.

[Page 390]And the fixed aim at Heaven as our Felicity, will reconcile an afflicted state to us. When temporal Evils are effe­ctual means to promote our everlasting Happiness, the amiableness and excel­lency of the End changes their Nature, and makes those Calamities that in themselves are intolerable, to become light and easy. The Poor, the Mourners, the Persecuted are blessed now, because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Apostle, tho under variety of sharp Troubles, yet expresses his sense with that mitiga­tion, as but lightly touch'd with them: as sorrowful, but always rejoicing. From hence he tells us, that with unfainting courage he prosecuted his glorious End. For our light Afflictions that are but for a moment, work for us a far more exceed­ing weight of Glory. This seriously be­lieved and considered, will make us understand the Harmony and Consent of the most discordant parts of God's Providence. This will reconcile the severity and roughness of his Hand, with the tender Compassions of his Heart towards his Servants. This will dry up Rivers of unprofitable Tears that flow from the Afflicted, and make the Cross of Christ a light burthen. [Page 391] For their heaviest Afflictions are not only consistent with his Love, but the Effects of it, being influential upon their Happiness. We are now toss'd upon the alternate Waves of Time, but 'tis that we may arrive at the Port, the blessed Bosom of our Saviour, and en­joy a peaceful Calm; and so we shall be ever with the Lord. Words of infi­nite sweetness! This is the Song of our Prosperity, and the Charm of our Adversity: Well might the Apostle add immediately after, Therefore com­fort one another with these Words.

4. The sincere Choice of Heaven as our final Happiness, will make us aspire to the greatest height of Holiness we are capable of in the present state. For the End has always a powerful Vertue to transform a Man into its Likeness: and Heaven is a state of perfect con­formity to the Holy God. This difference is observable between the Understanding and the Will in their Operations: The Understanding in forming Conceptions of Things, draws the Object to it self. The Will is drawn by the Object to it chuses, and is always fashioning and framing the Soul into an intire conformity to it. Thus Carnal [Page 392] Objects when propounded as the End of a Man, secretly imprint on him their Likeness, his Thoughts, Affections, and whole Conversation is Carnal. As the Psalmist speaks of the Worshippers of Idols, they that make them are like unto them, so is every one that trusteth in them: whatever we adore and esteem, we are changed into its Image. Idolaters are as stupid and senseless, as the Idols to which they pay Homage. Thus when God is chosen as our supream Good and last End, by conversing with him, the Image of his glorious Holiness is derived on the Soul, and it becomes Godly: the Heart is drawn by his attractive Ex­cellencies, and the Life directed to him. This being a Point of great importance, I shall further prove and illustrate it. There is no deliberating about the de­grees of that which is loved for it self as our End. More or less may respect the Means that are valued and used to obtain it, but the Love of the End is vast and unlimited. A Physician en­deavours to recover his Patient to sound and perfect Health, that being the End of his Art. He that seeks for Honour or Riches, is not content with a Medi­ocrity of Success, but drives on his Af­fairs [Page 393] to the full period of his Desires. An ardent lover of Learning with a noble jealousy strives to excel others in Knowledg. In short, no Man designs and longs for a thing as his Happiness, but will use all diligence to gain the present and full possession of it. There­fore it cannot be imagined that any Person sincerely propounds the enjoy­ment of Heaven as his End, but Love will make him fervent and industrious to be as Heavenly as is possible here. He will strive by blessed and glorious Gradations, to ascend to the perfection of his Aims and Desires, to be holy as God is holy in all manner of Conversati­on, to be pure as Christ is pure. We have an admirable instance of this in St. Paul, who declares, Brethren, Phil. 3.13, 14. I count not my self to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the Mark, for the Prize of the high Calling of God in Christ Jesus. His Progress was great, yet that did not make him slack in the prosecution of his End. He laboured to attain the Precedent of our Saviour, to feel the Power of his Death and Life, to appre­hend [Page 394] Christ intirely and perfectly as Christ had apprehended him. He was very diligent to improve the Divine Image in his Heart and Life.

From hence we may discover the va­nity of their Hopes, that are of luke­warm Affections in Religion, (the ab­horr'd character of Laodicea) who e­steem it a prudent Principle, as con­venient for their carnal ease and inte­rest, not to be earnest in following Ho­liness. Vices in mediocrity are tole­rable with them, only the excess is condemned. They content themselves with a mediocrity in Religion, and are presumptuous and secure, as the Church that said, I am rich, and have need of no­thing. They boast as if they had found out the temperate Region between the burning Line and the frozen Pole. They account all that is above their de­grees in Religion, to be furious or in­discreet Zeal, and all below to be dead, cold Profaneness. They censure those for Hypocrisy or unnecessary Strictness, who are visibly better, and stand upon proud comparisons with those who are visibly worse. And thus set off them­selves by taxing others. But how easily do Men deceive and damn themselves? [Page 395] Can we have too much of Heaven up­on the Earth? Can we become too like God, when a perfect conformity to him is our Duty and Felicity? Indeed Mo­ral Vertue consists in a Mediocrity, not of the habitual Quality, but of the Af­fections and Actions between the vici­ous extremities. Fortitude consists in the mean between Cowardise, and rash Boldness; but how much the more con­firm'd the couragious Habit is, so much the more a Man excells in that Virtue. Liberality consists between an indis­creet Profuseness, and sordid Avarice; Patience between a soft Delicacy, and stupid Insensibility. Thus Philosophic Virtue glories in its Beauty as pure and intire, between two vicious Deformi­ties. And the Religion of many is Pa­ganism drest up in a Christian Fashion. But this mediocrity only belongs to in­feriour Vertues, that respect things of created limited goodness, and is deter­mined according to the worth of their Nature. But divine Graces respect an Object supreamly Good, and their per­fection consists in their most excellent degrees, and the most intense Affections and Operations that are leading to it. Faith in its Obedience, Hope in its As­surance, [Page 396] Love in its Ardour can never exceed. When the Object is Infinite, a mediocrity is vicious. Humility can never descend too low, nor Love as­cend too high: for reflecting upon our natural and moral Imperfections, that we were raised from nothing, that we are defiled and debased with Sin, we cannot have too low thoughts of our selves. And since God the Soveraign Being, infinite in Perfections, and in­finitely amiable is the Object, no bounds or measure must be set to our Affecti­ons, but with all our united Powers, all the Heart, and with all the Soul, and with all the Mind, and with all the Strength, we must love him, and please him, and endeavour to be beloved of him.

There are others will acknowledg their defects, and tell you they do not pretend to eminent Sanctity, to the Graces of the Apostles and Martyrs, nor aspire to their degrees in Glory, they are content with a lower place in Hea­ven, and less strict Religion is suffici­ent for their purpose. This deceit is strengthned by Popery, that enervates and dissolves many of our Saviour's Precepts, by teaching they are not Laws obliging all Christians to Obedience, [Page 397] that will attain to eternal Life, but Counsels of Perfection: if they are not done 'tis no Sin, and the performance of them meritoriously intitles to a richer Crown. And though Men by impure Indulgencies please their sensual Affe­ctions, yet by tasting Purgatory in the way, they may come to Heaven on easier terms, than a universal respect to God's Commands, and an equal care to observe them. But Death will confute all these feeble wretched Pretences, for though the Saints above shine with an unequal brightness, as the Stars differ in Glory; yet none are there but Saints. And those who do not mourn under their Imperfections, and unfeign­edly desire and endeavour to be better, were never really good. The slothful Servant that did not waste but neglect to improve his Talent, was cast into outer darkness. There are different de­grees of punishments in Hell, but the least miserable there are miserable for ever. In short 'tis a perfect contradi­ction, a Prodigy, for any Man to think he is sincere in his Choice, and prepar'd in his Affections for the pure glorious Felicity in Heaven, that does not la­bour to cleanse himself from all pollutions [Page 398] of Flesh and Spirit, and to perfect Holi­ness in the fear of God.

Secondly, The choice of Eternal Fe­licity must be early in the prime of our days. The rule of our Duty, and Reason binds us to remember our Crea­tour in our Youth, to pay to him the first fruits of our Time and Strength. When we are surrounded with in­ticing Objects, and the Senses are entire and most capable to enjoy them, when the electing Powers are in their vigour, then 'tis just we should live to God, obey him as our Law-giver, and prefer the fruition of him in Hea­ven, the reward of Obedience, before all the pleasures of Vanity. 'Tis very honourable and pleasing to God to give the Heart to him, when the Flesh and the World strongly solicit to withdraw it. 'Tis a high endearment of the Soul to him, when his Excellencies are pre­valent in the Esteem and Affections a­bove all the Charms of the Creatures. And 'tis an unspeakable satisfaction to the Spirit of a Man, to declare the truth and strength of his Love to God by despising Temptations when they are most inviting, and the Appetite is [Page 399] eager for the enjoyment of them. But alas! how many neglect their Duty, and defer their Happiness? They think it too soon to live for Heaven before the evil Days come, wherein they shall have no pleasure; when they cannot sin, and vainly presume they can re­pent. The danger of this I have con­sider'd in the Discourse of Death, and shall therefore proceed to the next Head.

Thirdly, Our Choice of Heaven must be constant and lasting.

The two principal Rules of the Spi­ritual Life are to begin and end well: to fix and establish the main Design for everlasting Happiness, and from a de­terminate Resolution and ratified Pur­pose of Heart to pursue it with firm­ness and constancy: to live for Hea­ven, and with readiness and courage to die for it, if the Glory of God so require. Perseverance is indispensably necessary in all that will obtain the Eternal Reward.

For the clearing this most important Point, I will,

  • [Page 400]First, Represent from Scripture the Idea of Perseverance, that is at­tended with Salvation.
  • Secondly, Consider why 'tis so strict­ly required.

First, Saving Perseverance includes the permanent residence of Grace in the Soul: 'Tis composed of the whole Chain of Graces, the union of holy Ha­bits that are at first infused into a Chri­stian by the sanctifying Spirit. When Eternal Life is promised to Faith, or Love, or Hope, 'tis upon supposal that those Graces being planted in the Heart shall finally prosper. He that is faith­ful to the Death, Rev. 2. shall inherit the Crown of Life. 'Tis Love that never fails, that shall enter into Heaven.1 Cor. 13. 'Tis Hope firm unto the End, that shall be ac­complished in a glorious Fruition. If Grace be disseised by a usurping Lust, Apostacy will follow, and the forfei­ture of our right in the Kingdom of Heaven.

2. Grace must be continually drawn forth into exercise according to our se­veral states and duties, and the va­rious [Page 401] occasions that happen in our course through the World. Those who are light in the Lord, are commanded to walk as Children of the Light; to signify the excellency and purity of the Chri­stian Life. Those who live in the Spirit must walk in the Spirit; that is, by a conspicuous course of Holiness declare the vigour and efficacy of the divine Principle that is communicated to them. Paulum septultae distat inertiae celata vir­tus: Vertue that breaks not forth into visible Actions, is not worthy of the Name. The meer abstaining from e­vil is not sufficient, but all the positive acts of the holy Life are to be constant­ly done. In discharging both these parts of our Duty, compleat Religion is exprest, and the power of Grace consists.

3. Perseverance includes not only continuance in well-doing, but fervour and progress towards Perfection. There are two fix'd States, the one in Heaven, the other in Hell. The blessed Spirits above are arrived to the height of Ho­liness. The Devil and damned Spirits are sunk to the lowest extremity of Sin. But in the middle state here, Grace in the Saints is a rising growing [Page 402] Light, and Sin in the Wicked improves every day, like Poison in a Serpent that becomes more deadly by his Age. We are injoined not to remain in our first Imperfections, but to follow Holiness to the utmost issue of our Lives, to its in­tire consummation. For this end all the dispensations of Providence must be improved whether prosperous or afflicting. And the Ordinances of the Gospel were appointed that in the use of them we may be chang­ed into the divine Image from Glory to Glory.

4. Preseverance is required notwith­standing all Temptations that may al­lure or terrify us from our Duties; what ever affects us one way or other, while we are clothed with frail Flesh. 'Tis the fundamental Principle of Chri­stianity declared by our Saviour, If any Man will come after me, that is, be my Disciple and Servant, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross and follow me; even to be crucified with him, rather than wilfully forfeit his Inte­grity and Loyalty to Christ. He must by a Natator am­nem interposi­tum superatu­rus, exuitur, nec tamen hoc tanto appara­ru, quod se dispoliaverit, transnatabit, nisi totius Cor­poris nisu tor­rentis impe­tum scindat, & laborem nata­tionis exhau­riat. Paulin. sacred sixt resolution devest him­self of all things, even the most valued and desirable in the present World, [Page 403] and actually forsake them, nay enter­tain what is most distasteful, and resist unto Blood, rather than desert his Duty.

1. He must with unfainting Patience continue in doing his Duty, notwith­standing all Miseries and Calamities, Losses, Disgraces, Torments, or Death it self, which wicked Men, and greater Enemies, the Powers of Darkness, can inflict upon him. To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for Glory, Rom. 2. Honour and Immortality, Eternal Life is promised. Mat. 10.22. He that endures to the End (notwithstanding the most terrible Suf­ferings to which he is exposed for Christ's sake) shall be saved. In this a Christian must be the express image of his Savi­our, who for the joy that was set before him endured the Cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God. Disgrace and Pain are Evils that hu­mane Nature has a most tender sense of, yet the Son of God with a divine generosity and constancy endured them in the highest degrees. He was scorn'd as a feigned King, and a false Prophet. He suffered a bloody Death, and by the Cross ascended to Glory. And we must follow him, if we desire to be where he is.

[Page 404]2. But this is not the only trial of a Christian. Prosperity is a more dan­gerous Enemy to the Soul, though Ad­versity be more rigorous.

Saevior armis
Juven.
Incumbit luxuria:

For the Spirit is excited by Perils and Difficulties to seek to God for Strength, and with vigilant resolute Thoughts unites all its Powers to oppose them; but 'tis made weak and careless by what is grateful to the sensual Inclinations. It keeps close the Spiritual Armour in the open encounter of Dangers that threaten its ruin, but is inticed to put it off by the caresses and blandishments of the World. It does not see its E­nemies under the disguise of a pleasant Temptation. Thus Sin insinuates its self, and by stealing steps gets into the Throne without observation. A Man is wounded with a pleasant Temptati­on as with the Plague, that flies in the dark, and Grace is insensibly weaken'd. From hence it is that Adversity often reforms the Vicious, and Prosperity corrupts the Vertuous. Now Perse­verance must be of proof against Fire [Page 405] and Water, against what ever may ter­rify or allure us from our duty.

5. Saving Perseverance excludes not all Sins, but total Apostacy, and final impenitency, which are fatal and deadly under the New Covenant.Ezek. 18.24. If the Righ­teous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth Iniquity, and doth accor­ding to all the Abominations that the wick­ed Man doth, shall he live? all his Righte­ousness that he hath done shall not be men­tioned, in his Trespass that he has trespas­sed, and in his Sin that he hath sinned he shall die. If any Man draw back, Heb. 10.38. my Soul shall have no pleasure in him, saith the Lord. These Threatnings imply, there is a possibility of the Saints fal­ling away considered in themselves, but not that they are ever totally deserted by the Holy Spirit, and left under the reigning Power of Sin. The Threat­nings are intended to awaken their Care, and are Preservatives of them from Ruin, and have a singular Influ­ence on their Perseverance. A vigilant and cautious Fear establishes the cer­tainty of their Hope. Indeed from the Reliques of weakness and corruption in the Saints, they sometimes actually fall into presumptuous Sins, and by [Page 406] rebellious relapses wound Conscience, and let out much of the vital Spirits, their Graces and Comforts. But though the divine Nature in them is miserably wasted by such Sins, yet 'tis not abolish'd. As after the Creation of Light, there was never pure and total Darkness in the World. Grace does not consist in a Point, but is capable of Degrees. The new Creature may decline in Beauty and Strength, yet Life remain. Between a lively and a dead Faith there may be a fainting Faith; as in St. Peter, for certainly our Saviour was heard in his Prayer for him, that his Faith should not fail in his dreadful Temptation. The Saints do not by a particular fall ex­tinguish the first living Principles of O­bedience, Faith and Love; nor change their last end by an entire turning from God to the World. In short, a single act of Wickedness does not reduce them into a state of Unregeneracy: for 'tis not the matter of the Sin singly consi­dered, but the disposition of the Sinner that denominates him. If Grace in the Saints should utterly perish, as some boldly assert, their recovery would be impossible. For the Apostle tells us, that if those who were enlightned, and had [Page 407] tasted of the Heavenly Gift, that had been under some common Workings and lower Operations of the Spirit, if such fall away universally, and live in a course of Sin opposite to their former illumi­nations and resolutions, it is impossible to renew them by Repentance; how much more then if those who were truly sanctified by the holy Spirit, should intirely lose all those graci­ous habits planted in them in their Regeneration? But David, though guilty of Adultery and Murder, Sins of so foul a Nature as would dishonour Paganism it self, and made the Enemies of God to blaspheme, was restored by Repentance. The Gospel propounds a remedy not only for Sins committed before Conversion, but after it. If any Man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. God does not revoke the Adoption, nor reverse the Justification of a Believer, but upon scandalous disorders, the ef­fects of Justification are suspended with respect to the new contracted guilt, till there be sincere and actual Repen­tance. He is not disinherited, but his right to the Kingdom of Heaven is eclip­sed as to the comfortable sense of it, [Page 408] nay suspended, till by renovation he is qualified and made fit for the enjoyment of that pure Inheritance. For those Sins which are a just cause of excommu­nicating an Offender from the Church on Earth, would exclude him from the Kingdom of Heaven without Repen­tance. Our Saviour tells us, what is bound on Earth, is ratified in Heaven. And the Apostle expresly declares of those kinds of Sin for which Professors must be removed from the Communion of Saints here, that they are an exclu­sive bar from the Kingdom of Heaven. But I have written to you, 1 Cor. 5.11. not to keep Company, if any that is called a Brother be a Fornicator, or Covetous, or an Ido­later, or a Railer, or a Drunkard, or an Extortioner: with such a one, no not to eat. And know ye not that the Vnrigh­teous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? 1 Cor. 6.9, 10. Be not deceived: neither Forni­cators, nor Idolaters, nor Adulterers, nor Effeminate, nor Covetous, nor Drunkards, nor Revilers, nor Extortioners, shall in­herit the Kingdom of God. If one that is truly a Child of God fall into any of these Sins, till by an extraordinary Repentance he is prepared for Pardon, he cannot obtain it, nor have a com­fortable [Page 409] hope of entring into Heaven. For only those who are justified are glo­rified. Indeed it is not imaginable where the Seed of God remains, the vi­tal Principle of Grace, as it does in all that are born of God, but that notori­ous Sins that cannot be concealed from the view of Conscience, will cause stings and sorrows proportionable to their malignity, and consequently a hatred and forsaking of them. Now Perseve­rance principally respects the End of our Course. There may be Interrup­tions in the way for a time, but if with renewed Zeal and Diligence we prose­cute our blessed End, we shall not fall short of it.

Secondly, I come now to consider the second thing propounded, The Reason why Perseverance is requisite in all that will obtain Eternal Life, and 'tis this, That their Sincerity may be discovered by constancy in Obedience under all Trials. Blessed is the Man that endures Temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. The Law required unsinning Obedience as [Page 410] the Condition of Life, the Gospel ac­cepts of Sincerity, but if that be want­ing, there is no Promise that gives right to the Reward. Now Sincerity implies such an entire Love of God, as makes a Person submit to all Duties commanded in his Law, and all Trials appointed by his Providence. A high Example we have of this in Abraham, when he was commanded to offer up his only Son Isaac, and by his own Hands, for a Burnt-Offering. This was to kill a double Sacrifice at one Blow, for the Life of Abraham was bound up in Isa­ac: he lived in him more dearly than in himself; all his Joy, all his Posterity by Sarah had died in Isaac. What re­sentments, what resistance of Nature did he suffer? yet presently he ad­dress'd himself to perform his Duty. Whoever saw a more glorious Victory over all the tender and powerful Passi­ons of humane Nature? O unexampled Obedience! being an Original without any Precedent to imitate, and without a Copy to succeed it. After this clear infallible Testimony of his Sincerity, the Angel declar'd from Heaven, Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou [Page 411] hast not withheld thy Son, thine only Son from me. And 'tis said concerning the followers of the Lamb, that they lo­ved not their Lives unto the Death. The Love of Christ that animated them in all their Sufferings, was sweeter than Life, and stronger than Death.

Indeed there was a wonderful diffe­rence in the behaviour of the Martyrs under Sufferings, but in all the same Persevering Grace was evident, though working variously. Some in the most beautiful Flower of their Age encoun­ter'd Fire and Sword, Tormentors and Torments, with that sensible Joy, with those Songs of Praise to Christ, as if they saw the Heavens open with St. Ste­phen, and their Saviour ready to receive and crown them. But many others, as Homil. 6. de laud. Paul. Chrysostom testifies, went to the Tri­bunals, to the Theatres, to Death, with many appearances of Fear. Upon hearing the wild Beasts roar, they were struck with horror, at the sight of the Executioners and the Instruments of Torment, they were pale and trembling. The Flesh seem'd to cry out,O let this Cup pass from me, yet weak and faint, it followed the Spirit, that corrected the [Page 412] natural desire, with not my Will, but thine be done. As the Moon in Eclipse, though obscure, yet goes on in a regu­lar course, as when 'tis full of Light by the reflection of the Sun: So those de­solate Martyrs, though as it were for­saken, and deprived of the bright Beams of Comfort, yet persever'd in their Profession of the Truth. When one Word to renounce Christianity would have saved them, no Torments could force it from them, but they pa­tiently endured all. Now in these the Combat of Nature was visible, and the admirable Power of Grace. They first overcame their own Fears, the re­luctancy of the carnal part, their Affe­ction to whatever is desirable in the World, which is the noblest Victory, and then the Cruelty of their Persecu­tors. In them was verified the Testi­mony of the Spirit, Here is the pati­ence of the Saints, Here are they that keep the Command of God and the Faith of Jesus.

But how many appear faithful while their Faith is not to be shewed by diffi­cult Works, and proved by Sufferings. The Seed that fell on the stony Ground, [Page 413] sprang up as hopeful as the Seed in the good Ground at first; but when Tri­bulation came, it wither'd away, want­ing the Root of Sincerity. And that which was sown among Thorns, was choak'd by the Cares and Pleasures of the World. Some Lust in the Heart interweaves with the Affections, and causes Apostacy. How many from glo­rious Beginnings have made a lamenta­ble End? not only Mercenaries in Re­ligion, whose Zeal is a foreign Com­plexion, not springing from an inward Principle of Life and Health, relinquish even the profession of Godliness, when their Gain ceases, but some who have thought themselves sincere, yet in times of danger their Resolutions, like the morning Dew, have suddenly vanish'd. As the foolish Builder that computed not the Charges of his designed Work, began to raise a magnificent Structure, but unable to finish it, laid the Foun­dation in his own Shame. They re­pented their Choice of Heaven, when they saw what it must cost them, and would save the World with the loss of their Souls.

Others that began in the Spirit, and with raised Affections set out in the [Page 414] ways of Godliness▪ yet by the allure­ments of sensual Lusts and Temptations, (and therefore with greater Quae justior venia in omni­bus causis, quam volunta­rius, an quam invitus pecca­tor implorat? Negationem quanta com­pellunt, inge­nia carnifi­cum, & genera poenarum? Quis magis negavit, qui Christum vex­atus, an qui de­lectatus ami­sit? Qui quum amitteret do­luit, an qui quum amitte­ret lusit? Tert. de pudicit. Guilt) leave their first Love, and end in the Flesh. They fall from high Professi­ons, but received by soft Pleasures feel not the Fall. These were never sin­cere, and never had a Right to Hea­ven. They took up sudden Resoluti­ons, not grounded in serious and deep Thoughts, and for a Flash were hot and active, but with great levity return to their former Lusts. The Apostle tells us of such, it had been better for them they had not known the Way of Righteousness, than to turn back and vo­luntarily to forsake it. 'Tis observed that boiling Water taken off from the Fire, congeals more strongly than that which was never heated: because the subtile Parts being evaporated by the Fire, the more terrestrial Parts remaining are more capable of Cold. So those who have felt the Power of the Word in their Affections, and afterwards lose that holy heat, become more harden'd in their Sins. God justly withdraws his Grace, and the evil Spirit that was expell'd for a time, returns with seven worse, and aggravates his Tyranny.

[Page 415]To conclude; Since the certainty of Salvation is conditional, if we persevere in a holy State, let us beware of a cor­rupt Confidence, and a vicious Dejecti­on of Spirit, the trusting in our selves, or distrusting God. To prevent the trusting in our selves, consider,

1. The most excellent Creatures are by the instability of Nature liable to defection, subject to a corruptive change. Of this the fallen Angels are a dreadful Example, who of their own motion, untempted, sinned in Hea­ven.

2. The Danger is greater of falling away, when they are urged and solici­ted by a violent or grateful Temptati­on. Thus our first Parents fell, and lost more Grace in an Hour, than can be recovered by their Posterity in all Ages to the end of the World.

3. When there is supervenient Cor­ruption in the Creature, that inclines them with earnest propensity to forbid­den Things, and takes Flame from every Spark, the Danger is extream. Like a besieged City that is in great hazard of taking, by Assaults from without, and Conspiracies from within. Let us there­fore be very watchful over our Hearts [Page 416] and Senses, and keep as much as is pos­sible at a safe distance from Temptati­ons. And be very diligent in the use of all holy Means to confirm and fortify our Resolutions for Heaven. God pro­mised to Hezekiah 15 Years, but not to preserve his Life by Miracle; he was obliged to repair the wastings of Nature by daily Food, and to abstain from what was noxious and destructive to his Body. The Apostle excites Christians, to work out their own Salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that works in them to will and to do of his good Plea­sure. Denique saepe cognovimus, quoniam quem formidolosa carnificum pompa non terruit, nec di­visi lateris sul­cus infregit, nec ardentes [...]minae à tri­umphalis [...]. Let him that stands take heed lest he fall. None are a more easy Conquest to the Tempter, than those who presume upon their own Strength. We should be always jealous of our selves, from the sad Examples of Apostacy in every Age. St. Ambrose testifies from his own knowledg, that many after the coura­gious enduring of cruel Torments for Religion, the tearing open their Sides that their Bowels appeared, and the burning of some parts of their Bodies, yet when led forth to finish the Victory of Faith, to be a triumphant Spectacle to Angels and Men, when the blessed Rewarder was ready to put the Mar­tyrs [Page 417] Crown on their Heads, at the sight of their mourning Wives and Children in the way, were overcome by Pity the weakest Affection, and fail'd in the last act of Christian Fortitude. We must pray to be strengthned with all Might, ac­cording to his glorious Power, unto all pa­tience and long-suffering with joyfulness. For some may vigorously resist one sort of Temptation, and render themselves to others. And if finally vanquish'd by one of those Enemies, we lose our Victory and Crown.

And as Presumption betrays the Soul into the Devil's Snares, so a vici­ous dejection of Spirit from a distrust of Relief from God in our Difficul­ties, and his assistance with our un­feigned endeavours for Salvation is ve­ry pernicious. For this damps Industry, and causes either a total neglect, or un­comfortable use of Means for that End. Many Christians considering their Gra­ces are weak, their Nature fickle and apt to revolt, are ready (as David said, One day I shall perish by the Hand of Saul) to conclude sadly of the Issue of their Condition. To encourage such, let them consider, that Perseverance is not only a Condition, but a Privilege of [Page 418] the Covenant of Grace; For that assures us of supply of spiritual Strength to the sincere Believer for performing the Condition it requires. Indeed if Grace were the meer product of Free-Will, the most fervent Resolutions would va­nish into a Lie, upon the Assault of an overpowering Temptation. As Hezekiah acknowledged, that the As­syrian Kings had destroyed the Gods of the Nations that were no Gods, but Idols the work of Mens Hands. But sanctify­ing Grace is the effect of the Holy Spi­rit, and he that begins that good Work in the Saints, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. He that inclin'd them joyful­ly to chuse the Spiritual Eternal Good, will bind their unconstant Hearts, that by a faithful adherence they shall cleave to their Duty and Felicity. God has most graciously declared, I will put my Spirit into their Hearts, that they shall never de­part from me. The Promise is founded in the unchangeable Love of God to his People. Were God, as Man, subject to Variation, there might be Jealousies in Believers lest they should lose his good Will. As those who depend on Princes, are suspicious lest from the natural inconstancy of the human Will, [Page 419] a new Favourite should supplant them. But whom God loves, he loves to the End. The Apostle prays for the Thessaloni­ans, that God would preserve them blame­less until the coming of Christ, by this Consideration, faithful is he that calleth you, he will do it. He speaks of the In­ternal Call, that opens the Heart, and overpowers all Resistance. As when the Angel came with a Light shining in the Prison to St. Peter, and struck him on the Side, bid him arise quickly, loosed his Chains, and led him through the Guards, open'd the Doors, and re­stored him to Liberty. The effectual calling of a Sinner, is the visible and in­fallible Effect of electing Mercy; and God is unchangeable in his own pur­pose, and faithful to his Promises of bringing all such by Sanctification to Glory. The same Apostle tells the Saints at Corinth, That the Redeemer would confirm them to the End: God is faithful, by whom ye are called. Grace that was at first inspir'd, is con­tinually actuated by the Spirit, who is stiled the Earnest of the Saints Inheritance. So that whereas the Angels that excell'd in strength, kept not their first State of Purity and Glory, but are sunk into [Page 420] Corruption and Misery, yet true humble Believers, though weak, and encompast with many Difficulties, shall be preser­ved from destructive Evil, and raised to an unchangeable Estate of Perfecti­on. This is as truly admirable, as if the Stars should fall from Heaven, and Clods of Earth ascend and shine in the Firmament. The Apostle who acknow­ledged his insufficiency of himself to think a good Thought, yet triumphantly de­clares, I can do all things (within the compass of his Duty) through Christ that strengthens me. The Love, Fidelity and Power of God are a sure Fountain of Assistance to every Christian, that sin­cerely resolves and endeavours to pro­secute his last and blessed End.

I shall now come to the Directions how to fix our Choice aright.

This is a matter of everlasting Con­sequence, it therefore becomes us with the most intense application of Mind to consider it, and according to the ad­vice of Wisdom, to keep the Heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of Life.

Indeed the choice were not difficult between lying Vanities and substantial [Page 421] Blessedness, if uncorrupted Reason had the superior sway: but in this lapsed state of Nature, the Understanding and Will are so depraved, that present things pleasing to sense, ravish the Heart into a Compliance. Men are deceived, not compelled into ruin: the subtile Sedu­cer prevails by fair Temptations. This will be evident by reflecting upon the frame and composition of Man, as he consists of Spirit, Soul and Body, and the manner of his acting. The Spirit is the intellective discerning Faculty, the Seat of Reason, capable to compare and judg of the qualities of things, and foresee their issues. The Body includes the lower Faculties, the Senses Fancy and Passions, that are conversant about present things. The Soul is the Will, the principle of Election, in the midst of the other, as the Centre to which all their Addresses flow. Now upon the proposal of the spiritual and carnal Good in order to Choice, the Will is to be directed by the Mind, and by its own Authority to rule the lower Pas­sions. But alas! the Mind has lost its primitive Light and Purity, Vigilance and Integrity, neglects its Duty, and from Ignorance, Error and carnal Pre­judices [Page 422] often pleads for the Flesh: and the Will, the rational Appetite, is vo­luntarily subordinate and inslaved by the Sensitive. From hence it is that in the competition, Heaven with all its Glory is despised, and the present World em­brac'd. To open this more particular­ly, consider:

1. The Senses can only taste and enjoy grosser dreggy Pleasures.

2. The Fancy that depends upon them in its Operations, and is guided by their Report, conceives of Felicity only under the notion of sensitive Plea­sure. We may illustrate this by the practice of Flagitio in­signi, semper alicujus foemi­nae amore fla­grans & ob id Deas pingens sub dilectarum imagine. Ita (que) scorta ejus ve­nerabantur. Plin. Aretius a Painter, recorded with Infamy, who being often imployed to paint the Goddesses to be set in the Pagan Temples, always drew their Pictures by the Faces and Complexions of his Harlots, that the Objects of his impure Love might have Veneration, and a Divinity attributed to them, un­der the Titles, and pretence of Minerva, Juno, Diana, and the other Goddesses ador'd by the Heathens. This Impiety in an Idolater, is resembled by Men who fancy Happiness, (that is a spiritual divine Perfection enjoyed in the glo­rious Vision of God) to be a carnal [Page 423] Fruition, and having with sensible Colours and Lineaments represented it agreeable to their brutish Faculties, place it in their Hearts, and sacrifice all their Thoughts, Affections, and Service to it.

The Fancy is very powerful in Men upon a double account.

1. The Understanding naturally re­ceives the Notions of Things by Phan­tasms that are still mixing in its Con­templations. While the Soul is con­fined to a Tabernacle of Flesh, it ap­prehends no Object without the prece­dent excitation of the Senses. From whence it is impossible, that a Person absolutely deprived of Sight from his Birth, should have an Idea of Light or Colours; or that is born deaf, should conceive what Sound is, the Sense ne­ver having imparted an account of it to them. And the Image of the Object is not immediately transmitted from the Sense to the Mind, but first to the Ima­gination, that prepares it for its view. And from hence the sensual Fancy is so predominant in sweying the Judgment, and inclining the Will. As those Coun­sellors of State that have the Ear of the Prince, and are continually with him, by [Page 424] specious Informations, and disguising Truth, influence him to approve or re­ject Persons and Things according to the various Aspects given by them. The same Object propounded in a dark con­fused manner, weakly moves us, but varnisht and beautified with lively and pleasant Colours by the Imagination, is armed with such Power that ravishes the esteem of the Mind, and consent of the Will. Now Celestial Happiness being purely Spiritual, such as Eye hath not seen, nor Ear heard, nor entred into the Heart of Man to conceive, though some discoveries be made of it by Re­velation, yet the Imagination makes such an obscure detracting Idea of it, that it affects no more, than a dead Sha­dow drawn in some imperfect Lines of an exquisite Beauty: But when the Fancy is warmed and enlivened by the presence of sensible Objects, it makes a vigorous impression of them upon the Mind, and that represents the Pictures of Pleasure as very lovely and delight­ful to the Will, which presently im­braces them.

2. The Fancy has a marvellous force upon the sensitive Appetite, that eager­ly desires what is represented as plea­sant, [Page 425] though the enlightned Mind sees through the Temptation, and knows 'tis a meer Dream, that brings neither solid nor durable Joy. One in a Feaver is pleased by imagining Fountains and Streams, though he knows that imagi­nary Waters cannot quench his Thirst, nor afford the least real Refreshment. Now the sensitive Appetite being in­flam'd by the Fancy, imparts a contagi­ous Fire to the Will, and that induces the Mind, either to concur with it, and palliate the deceit, and to judg favou­rably according to its Inclinations, or makes it slack or remiss in its Office, diverting the Thoughts from what might controul the Appetite; or if the Understanding still contradicts, yet 'tis in so cold and speculative a matter, that the Law of the Members rebels against the Superior Light, and is too strong for the Law of the Mind, and that Say­ing is verified,

Video meliora probó (que)
Deteriora sequor.

I see what is worthy to be chosen, but pursue what is to be abhorr'd. Thus miserably weak are the rational guiding [Page 426] Powers in Man since his Fall, thus im­perious and violent the brutish Fa­culties. In short, illusion and concupis­cence are the principal Causes why the most noble and divine Good is under­valued and rejected in comparison of inferior transitory Vanities. O the cheap Damnation of beguiled Souls! A Mess of Pottage was more valuable to Esau, than the Birth-right that had annext to it the Regal and Priestly Dig­nity. Unwise and unhappy Wretches! that follow lying Vanities, and forsake their own Mercies.

Thus I have briefly set down the process of Mens foolish choice in this degenerate State. Now that we may with a free uncorrupted Judgment compare things in order to a wise Choice of true Felicity, it follows from what has been said, that as the Apostle in obeying his Heavenly Commission, conferr'd not with Flesh and Blood. We must not in this matter of infinite im­portance, attend,

1. To the Suggestions and Desires of the Senses and carnal Appetite, which are the worst Counsellors, as being uncapable of judging what is our pro­per Happiness, deceitful and importu­nate.

[Page 427]First, They are uncapable of appre­hending Spiritual Eternal Things, which alone bring fit and compleat sa­tisfaction to the Soul, and cannot look forward to the end of sinful Pleasures, and ballance the terrible Evils they leave at parting, with the slight vanish­ing content that springs from their Pre­sence. Therefore as blind Persons lay hold on things they feel, so the sensitive Faculties, that are blind and brutish, ad­here to gross present enjoyment, not understanding the pure spotless Felici­ty that is to come, and despising what they do not understand. Now who would in an Affair upon which his All depends, advise with Children & Fools, whose Judgment of things is without Counsel, their Counsel without Dis­course, their Discourse without Rea­son? There is nothing more contrary to the order of Nature, than for Men that should affect with Judgment, to judg by their Affections.

2. The Carnal Appetite with its Lusts are very deceitful, a Party within holding correspondence with our Spi­ritual Enemies, the Armies of evil An­gels, so active and assiduous in conspi­ring and accomplishing the Damnation [Page 428] of Men. The Devil in Scripture is called the Tempter by way of eminence, who manages and improves all Temp­tations, and his pernicious Design is by the Objects of Sense, ordered and made more alluring and killing by his various Arts, to engage the Affections into a compliance, and so to gain the Will. Now our great danger is not so much from Satan the Enemy without, as from the Carnal Appetite, the Traitor within, that gives him the first and easy en­trance into the Soul. He can only en­tice by representing what is amiable to Sense, but the corrupt Appetite in­clines to the closing with it. He temp­ted Jesus Christ, but was repell'd with shame, having found nothing within him to work upon. The perfect regularity of Faculties in our Blessed Saviour was not in the least disorder'd neither by his fair­est Insinuations, or most furious Assaults. And we might preserve our inno­cence inviolable notwithstanding all his Attempts, did not some corrupt Affe­ction, cherish'd in our Bosoms, lay us naked and open to his poison'd Darts. The Apostle Peter, who had a Spiritual Eye, and discern'd wherein the strength of our great Enemy lies, admonishes [Page 429] Christians, Dearly Beloved, I beseech you, as Strangers and Pilgrims, abstain from fleshly Lusts, that war against the Soul. And we are told by him, That the Corruption that is in the World, is through Lust. The outward Objects are useful and beneficial in their kind, the abuse of them is from Lust. The Poi­son is not in the Flower, but in the Spider. 'Tis therefore infinitely dange­rous to consult, or trust our carnal Fa­culties in this matter, for they are brib'd and corrupted, and will com­mend temporal things to our choice.

3. The sensual Affections are so nu­merous and clamorous, so vehement and hasty, that if they are admitted to counsel and give the decisive Vote, the Voice of Conscience will not be heard or regarded. In concernments of a lower Nature, 'tis constantly seen, that nothing more disturbs Reason, and makes Men improvident & precipitant in their Determinations, than a disor­dered Passion. From hence, 'tis a pru­dent Rule, That as 'tis not fit to eat in the height of a Fever, because the Meat feeds the Disease, by increasing the feverish, not the vital heat: so 'tis not good to deliberate in the heat of any [Page 430] Affection. For then the Thoughts strongly blow up the Passion, and smother Reason, and the Mind is rather a Party than a Judg: but after the de­clination of that Fever in the Soul, in a quiet interval, 'tis seasonable to con­sider. Now if any simple Passion when moved, transports and confounds the Mind, and makes it uncapable of judg­ing aright, much more the love of the World, an universal Passion that reigns in Men, and has so many swarming de­sires answerable to the variety of sensi­ble things, and therefore is more unru­ly, lasting and dangerous than any par­ticular Passion. In short, sensual Affe­ctions captivate the Mind, and hinder its due considering the folly and obli­quity of the carnal choice, and when incens'd (as distracted Persons whose Strength grows with their Fury) vio­lently break all the restraints the under­standing can apply from reason and re­velation.

2. In order to make a right Choice, we must be very watchful lest the gene­ral Example of Men taint our Reason, and cause an immoderate esteem of tem­poral things. The whole World lies in Wickedness, in a sensual Sty, without [Page 431] Conscience of its Misery, or care of regaining its Happiness, deceived and pleased with shews of Felicity. The way to Hell is broad, as the inclinations of the licentious Appetite; pleasant, as the delights of Sense; so plain and easy, that Men go to it Bion. blindfold; and so frequented, that it would force Tears from any considering Person, to see Men so hasty to meet with Damnation. When Calisto the Harlot reproach'd So­crates that there were more followers of her Beauty than his Wisdom; the [...]. Aelian. l. 13. c. 32. Philosopher replied, That was not strange, because it was much easier to draw them in the way of Pleasure, that is steep and slippery, than to constrain them to ascend to Vertue, seated on a Hill, where the ascent is slow, and with toil and difficulty. Now there is no­thing more contagious than Example. We blindly consent with the Multitude, and are possest with foolish Wonder, and carnal admiring of worldly Great­ness, Treasures and Delights, neglecting to make a due estimation of things. 'Tis the ordinary Artifice of the Devil to render temporal things more valuable and attractive to particular Persons, from the common practice of Men who [Page 432] greedily pursue them as their Happiness. As some crafty Merchants, by false re­ports raise the Exchange, to advance the price of their own Wares. The Men of the World are under the dire­ction of Sense, and think them only to be wise and happy that shine in Pomp, abound in Riches, and overflow in Pleasures. The Psalmist tells us of the prosperous Worldling, that while he lives, he blesses his Soul; and Men will praise thee when thou dost well to thy self. By vici­ous imitation our Judgments are more corrupted, and our Passions rais'd to higher degrees for painted Vanities. The Affections in the pursuit of earthly things are inflam'd by the contention of others. And when holy Desires and Resolutions spring up in Men, yet so powerful is the custom of the World, that they often become ineffectual. As a Ship whose Sails are fill'd with a fair Wind, but makes no way, stopt by the force of the Current. Now to for­tify us against the pernicious influence of Example, consider,

1. 'Tis most unreasonable in this Af­fair of so vast moment to be under the direction of the Multitude. For the most are sottish and sensual, govern'd [Page 433] by the uncertain motions of a giddy vo­luble Fancy, and roving impetuous Passions; so that to be led by their ex­ample, and disregard the solid immortal rules of heavenly Wisdom, is as perfect madness, as for one to follow a herd of Swine through the Mire, and leave a clean Path that lies before him. If there were but few in an Age or Coun­try that were deluded with false Ap­pearances, it would be a disgrace to imitate the practice of the Foolish: and shall the great numbers of the Earthly-minded give Reputation and Credit to their Error? He were a strange Fool indeed, that should refuse a single piece of counterfeit Money, and receive a great heap in payment, as if the num­ber added a real value to them. 'Tis therefore a necessary point of Wisdom to devest all Nunquam de vitâ judica­tur, semper creditur, sana­bimur, si modò separemur à coetu. Sen, de vit. Beat. vulgar Prejudices, to se­parate our selves from the Multitude, that we may see the vanity of Things that dazle inferior Minds.

2. Consider the universal Judgment even of the worldly Men in their last and serious Hours, when the Prospect of Eternal Things is open before them. How vastly different are their Appre­hensions of Temporal Things in the re­view, [Page 434] from what they were in their vi­cious Desires? How often do they break forth in the sorrowful Words of the Apostle, We have been toiling all Night, and caught nothing? When there are but a few remaining Sands in the Glass of Time, and Death shakes the Glass before them, how powerfully do they preach of the emptiness and uncer­tainty of Things below, and sigh out in Solomon's Phrase, All is vanity? And this is more singularly observable in those who have had the fullest enjoy­ment of earthly Things. How do they complain of the vain World, and their vainer Hearts, when Experience has convinc'd them of their woful Folly? Solomon who was among other Princes, as the Sun in the midst of the Planets, that obscures them by his illustrious Brightness, He that had surveyed this Continent of Vanity, to make an Ex­periment whether any satisfaction could be found in it, at last sadly declares, that all things here below are but seve­ral kinds and ranks of Vanities, as inef­fectual to make Men happy, as coun­terfeit Jewels of several Colours are to enrich the Possessor. Nay they are not only Vanity, but Vexation, an empty [Page 435] show that has nothing real, but the vexation of disappointment. And shall we not value the judgment of Men when they are best instructed, and give credit to their Testimony when they are sincere? Certainly in their Approa­ches to the Divine Judgment they are most considerate and serious, they have the truest and justest thoughts of Things, and most freely declare them. O the astonishing Folly of Men! they will not be convinc'd of the error of their ways, till they come to the end of them, and the Sun is set, and no time remains for their returning into the way of Life.

I shall proceed to shew further what is necessary to direct us in our choice, that we may not fall into the double Misery, of being deceived with a false Happiness for a little time, and depri­ved of true Happiness for ever.

  • First, A sound and stedfast belief of unseen Eternal Things.
  • Secondly, Serious Consideration of the vast difference between things that are the objects of Sight, and that are the objects of Faith.

[Page 436] First, The sound and stedfast belief of Eternal Things is requisite to direct our choice aright. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, Heb. 11.1. the evidence of things not seen. It assures us of their reality and worth as if they were before our Eyes, and in our actual Possession. This Divine Light governs and conducts the Will to choose wisely, and excites all the practick Powers for the prevent­ing the greatest Evils, and the obtaining perfect Felicity. When the Devil, the deadly Flatterer, by inviting represen­tations of the World intices the Heart, the serious belief of the future reward so glorious and eternal, disgraces the most splendid Temptations, and makes them ineffectual. This is the Victory that overcomes the World, even our Faith. If tempted to Lasciviousness by the allure­ments of an earthly Beauty, Faith re­presents the angelical lustre of the Saints, when they shall come with the unspot­ted Lamb in his glorious appearance, and this unbinds the Charm, and makes the tempting Person an object not of De­sire, but Aversation. If tempted with Honour to a sinful compliance, Faith represents so convincingly the Glory [Page 437] which all those who preserve their Con­science and Integrity inviolable, shall receive at the universal Judgment, in the presence of God, and the holy An­gels, (as our Saviour has promis'd, He that serves me, him will my Father honour) and the confusion wherein the most ho­nourable Sinners shall then be cover'd, that with a generous disdain all secular honours will be despised. And it is as powerful to enervate the Temptation of temporal Profit. We read of Moses, that by Faith, when he was come to Years, (and therefore more capable to under­stand and enjoy what Felicity the brightest Honours and greatest Riches could afford) refused to be called the Son of Pharaoh's Daughter; chusing rather to suffer Affliction with the People of God, than to enjoy the Pleasures of Sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater Riches than the Treasures of E­gypt: for he had respect to the recompence of Reward. And all the Evils which a wicked World, inspir'd with rage from Satan, can threaten to fright us from our Duty, Poverty, Disgrace, Banish­ment, nay Torments and Death, those terribles visu formae, so heightned by the carnal Fancy, are easily overcome by a [Page 438] sincere and strong Believer. Thus some who were urged by such motives to renounce their Religion, told the Per­secutors, that Life was not sweet to them if they might not live Christians, nor Death bitter if they must die for Christ. A lively firm perswasion of the excel­lence and eternity of the Reward,Nec vereamur occidi, quos constat, quan­do occidimur coronari. Cyp. what miraculous effects would it produce? Nothing would be impossible within the compass of our Duty, either to do or suffer in order to a glorious Immor­tality. Faith has a celestial Power, a magnetick Virtue to draw up the Heart from the Earth, and fastens it to things above. It is not imaginable that a clear-sighted Soul, that sees a Good infinitely great, should reject it for mean things to please the lower Desires. We may as probably imagine, that a skilful Jew­eller would part with the richest Ori­ental Pearls, for Cherry Stones to play with Children.

From hence we may discover the true cause of the neglect of the great Salvation offered in the Gospel, the Word preached does not profit, not being mixt with Faith in them that hear it. It is a­stonishing to consider that Earth should contend with Heaven for our Affecti­ons, [Page 439] and prevail against it; that Vani­ty should turn the Scale against the ex­ceeding and eternal weight of Glory; that Men should pursue fleeting Shadows, and neglect the most excellent Realities, as if they could be happy here, and con­tinue for ever, and hereafter there were neither Happiness nor Eternity. But this releases the wonder, that all Men have not Faith. Eternal Things are not of conspicuous moment in the carnal Ballance. Some are Infidels in Profes­sion, openly declaring themselves to be without Religion, without God, and have the same credit of the Heaven and Hell discovered in the Gospel, as of the Elysian Fields, and Stygian Lake, the Fables of the Poets. These live as if they should never die, and die as if they should never live in the other World, as if Death caused so deep a sleep, that the Voice of the Son of God could not awaken them at the last day. Their Unbelief is not from Reason, but vicious opposite Affections; for the truth of the Eternal State is so clearly revealed, and strongly establish'd in the Gospel, that the sincere Mind must readily assent to it. But the Wicked cannot delight in the discovery of that [Page 440] for which they are unprepared, and therefore try all ways to elude the Force of the most satisfying Arguments. Their Infidelity is obstinate and incura­ble. An instance whereof we have in the Pharisees, who rejected our Saviour. Tho all the Characters of the Messiah were conspicuous in his Person, tho his Doctrines were confirmed by Miracles, yet they would not yield up themselves to that omnipotent conviction, so strong were their carnal Prejudices against his humble State, and holy Doctrines. That Reproach is more justly due to Infidels under the Gospel, than to Israel in the Prophet: Who is blind as my Ser­vant? The Heathens who are blind from their Birth, and have only some glimmering apprehensions that Eterni­ty succeeds Time, are less culpable than those who have infinitely more reason to believe it, and yet believe it less. The Plea for them will be a terrible Ac­cusation against such Unbelievers. If a blind Person falls, it moves Compas­sion; but if one voluntarily shuts his Eyes against the Sun, and refuses the Direction of the Light, and falls from a Precipice, his Ruin is the just Conse­quence of his Folly. Simple Ignorance [Page 441] excuses as to the degrees of the Fault, but affected wilful Ignorance, now Reason and Revelation with united Beams give so clear a prospect into the Eternal World, aggravates the Guilt and Sentence of such Unbelievers.

Besides, the most who are Believers in Title, are Infidels in Heart. Our Sa­viour tells the Jews, who pretended the highest Veneration to the Writings of Moses, That if they had believed Moses, they would have believed him, for Moses wrote of him. If Men did seriously be­lieve such an excellent Reward, as the Gospel propounds, would it be a cold unperswasive Motive to them? The depravation of the Will argues a cor­respondent defect in the Mind; though not absolute total Infidelity, yet such a weakness and wavering in the Assent, that when Temptations are present and urgent, and it comes to actual Choice, Sense prevails over Faith. This will be clear by Universal Experience in temporal Things. The probable hope of Gain, will make those who are greedy of Gold, prodigal of their Lives, and venture through tempestuous Seas to accomplish their Desires. And if the [Page 442] belief were equal, would not Men do or suffer as much for obtaining what is infinitely more valuable? A firm Assent would produce adherence, and Faith in the Promises, Fidelity in obeying the Commands of Christ. Tertullian pro­pounds it as a powerful incentive to the Martyrs, Quis ergo non libentissimè tantum pro vero habeat erogare, quantum alii pro falso? Who would not joyfully sacrifice Life and all its Indearments, to obtain true Blessedness, which others do for the vain Appearance of it? Men may be as truly Subjects without sub­jection, as Believers without a Hea­venly Conversation, which is insepa­rable from the Reality of Faith. Ma­ny in the Bosom of the Church are as truly, though not so notoriously, Infi­dels, as Turks and Heathens. In­deed even in true Believers the appre­hension of eternal Things has such great allays, that temporal Things are over-valued and over-feared. A strong Faith in the Truth and Power of God, would make the glorious World so sure and near in our Thoughts, that with indif­ferent Affections we should receive good or evil Things here, Rejoice as if [Page 443] we rejoiced not, and mourn as if we mourned not. Our Lives would be so regular and pure, as if the Judg were to come the next Hour, as if the Sun did now begin to be darkned, and the Trumpet of the Arch-Angel were sounding, and the noise of the dissol­ving World were universally heard. Infidelity deads the Impression, and suppresses the reigning Power of Eter­nal Things in our Hearts. In short, Men are heavenly or earthly in their Choice and Conversation, as they are directed by the sincere Light of Faith, or misled by the false Beams of Sense.

Secondly, The second Thing requi­site in order to a wise Choice, is Consi­deration. For as by Faith the Vertue of the Reward is diffused through all the Faculties, and the Powers of the World to come are felt in the Soul; so, by consideration, Faith is exercised and becomes effectual. This unites and re­inforces the Beams of Eternal Truth, and inflames the Affections. As the Psalmist expresses himself, My Heart was hot within me while I was musing, the Fire burned. Heaven is a Felicity so [Page 444] glorious and attractive, that if duly considered, no Man can possibly re­fuse it: and Hell is a Misery so extream and fearful, that if seriously laid to Heart, none can possibly chuse it. The last End is to be conceived under the Notion of an infinite Good, without the least mixture of Evil, to which the humane Will swayed by the invincible Impression of Nature, has a tendency. The Liberty of Indifference is with respect to some particular good Things, which may be variously represented, so as to cause Inclination or Aversion. Those Men who believe Eternal Life is the Reward of Holiness, yet with a careless Inadvertency pass over their Duty; and that Eternal Death is the Wages of Sin, yet securely continue in it, is more wonderful than to see Martyrs sing in the Flames; and the great Cause of it is the neglect of Con­sideration. This is assigned to be the Cause of that unnatural and astonish­ing Rebellion of Israel against God their Father and Sovereign: Hear, O Heavens, Isa. 1.2, 3. and give Ear, O Earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up Children, and they have rebel­led [Page 445] against me. The Ox knows his Own­er, and the Ass his Master's Crib: but Israel doth not know, my People doth not consider.

This Duty as it is of admirable Ad­vantage, so 'tis universally necessary; for all are equally concern'd, and it is within the Power of all to perform. Though Men cannot convert them­selves, yet they may consider what is preparatory to Conversion. For the Will may turn the Thoughts of the Mind to any sort of Objects.

I will briefly shew the Nature of this Duty, and how to manage it for spiri­tual Profit, and those Objects from whence our Thoughts derive vigour for the swaying of the Will and the Conduct of the Life.

1. The Nature of Consideration is discovered by its End, which is this; That the Mind being satisfied in the just Reasons upon which the Choice of Hea­ven is to be made, the Will and Affe­ctions may be engaged in an earnest joyful and constant pursuit of it. And in this respect it differs from simple Knowledg, and naked Speculation, that informs the Mind without Influ­ence [Page 446] and Efficacy upon the Heart: Like a Garland of Flowers that adorns the Head without any benefit and re­freshing to him that wears it. And practical Meditation differs from the study of Divine Things in order to the instructing of others. That is like a Merchant's buying of Wine for Sale, this like providing it for our own use.

2. That the Consideration of Eter­nal Things may be effectual, it must be,

1. Serious and deliberate. For the Affair is great in reality above all pos­sible Conception or Comparison. All other things, how considerable soever in themselves, yet respectively and in pa­rallel with this, are of no account. Our Saviour told Martha, One thing is ne­cessary: Mary hath chosen the better part, that shall not be taken from her. What Instance can be of equal moment with that of entertaining the Son of God? Yet a serious attention to the Words of Eternal Life dropping from his Lips, was more necessary than making pro­vision for him. The greatest and most weighty Affairs in the World are but a [Page 447] vain Employment, but Irregularity and Impertinence, in compare with Eternal Salvation. And the greatest solemnity of Thoughts is requisite, to undeceive the Mind, and ingage the Will for Hea­ven. 'Tis very observable that Errors in Judgment and Choice spring from the same Causes, the not sincere and due weighing of Things. In the decisions of Questions, Truth is discovered by comparing, with an equal staid Attenti­on, the Reasons of the one and the other part: But when some vicious Af­fection contradicts the Truth, it fills the Mind with Prejudices, that it can­not impartially search into Things, and is deceived with specious Fallacies, with the Image of Truth. For ac­cording to the present application of the Mind 'tis determined, and Passion strongly applies it to consider that which is for the Carnal Interest, and consequently Inclination, not Reason, is the Principle of the Perswasion. And this is more evident in Mens foolish Choice: As the Eye cannot see but what is visible, nor the Understanding conceive what is not Intelligible, the Will cannot love and chuse what is not [Page 448] amiable, at least in shew. If the De­vil did appear without a Disguise, he would have no Power to perswade, but in all his Temptations there is the mix­ture of a Lie to make it pleasant. He presents a false Perspective, to make what is but superficial appear solid and substantial. And the carnal Heart turns the Thoughts to what is grateful, with­out seriously considering what is infi­nitely better, and accordingly chuses by the Eye of Sense, the happiness of this World. Therefore till Eternal Things are open'd in the view of Conscience, and the Mind calmly considers by the Light of Faith their Reality and Great­ness, no right valuation, nor wise choice can be made.

Besides, the most clear and rational enforcements by the actings of the Thoughts, are necessary to make a strong impression on the Affections, and rescue them from the captivity of the Flesh. In other things as soon as the Mind is inlightned, the Will resolves, and the inferior Faculties obey; but such is the resistance of the carnal Heart, that altho 'tis evident from infallible Principles there is an everlasting Glory, infinitely to [Page 449] be preferr'd above the little appearances of Beauty and Pleasure here, yet the most piercing Reasons enter heavily without earnest inculcation. Slight or sudden Thoughts may produce vanishing Affections of complacence, or distaste, and fickle Resolutions, that like sick Feathers drop away, and leave the Soul naked to the next Temptation; but solemn and fixed Thoughts are powerful on the Heart, in making a thorow and lasting Change. When the Clouds dissolve in a gentle Shower, the Earth drinks in all, and is made Fruitful; but a few sprink­ling Drops, or a short storm of Rain, that wets only the Surface, without sinking to the Root, is little beneficial. In short, there may be some excitations to Good, and retractions from Evil, some imperfect faint essays towards Heaven, from an impulse on the Mind; but solid Conversion is produc'd by de­liberate Discourse, by the due conside­ration and estimation of things, 'tis ra­tional and perpetual.

2. Consideration must be frequent, to keep eternal Objects present, and powerful upon us. Such is the natural [Page 450] Levity and Inconstancy, Sloth and Carnality of the Mind, That the Noti­ons of Heavenly Things quickly pass through, but of Earthly abide there. If a Stone be thrown upwards, it remains no longer in the Air, than the impression of the force by which it was thrown continues; but if it falls on the Earth, it rests there by Nature. When the Soul is raised in contemplation to Heaven, how apt is it to fall from that height, and lose the esteem, the lively Re­membrance and Affections of Eternal Things? But when the Thoughts are excited by the presence of what is plea­sing to Sense, the withdrawing the Ob­ject does not deface the Idea of it in the Memory, nor lessen the Conceit, nor cool the Desires of it, because the Heart is naturally inclined to it. There­fore 'tis necessary every day to refresh and renew the conceptions of eternal Things, that although they are not al­ways in act, yet the efficacy may be al­ways felt in the Heart and Life. The Soul habituated to such Thoughts will not easily yield to Temptations, that surprise and overcome others that are Strangers in their Minds to the other World: Nay the presence of Tempta­tions, [Page 451] as by Antiperistasis, will reinforce the Resolutions for Heaven; like the pouring Water upon Lime, that revives a hidden Fire in it, which seems a natu­ral Miracle. 'Tis therefore of great advantage frequently to sequester our selves from the World, to redeem Time from secular Affairs, for the recollecting of our Thoughts and their solemn exer­cise upon the Eternal World. Sense that reveals natural things, darkens spi­ritual. How can the Thoughts be fixt on invisible things so distant from Sense, if always conversant with secular Ob­jects that draw them down? In the si­lence of the Night a small Voice is more distinctly heard, and a little distant Light more clearly seen: so when the Soul is withdrawn from the noisy throng of the World, and outward things are darkned, the Voice of Con­science is better heard, and the Light of Heaven more perfectly received.

3. Consideration of Eternal Things must be with present Application to the Soul. 'Tis not the meer conviction of the Mind, but the decree of the Will that turns Men from Sin to Holiness, from the Creatures to God. The Heart is very deceitful, and by variety of [Page 452] shifts and palliations is disposed to irre­solutions and delays in spiritual Con­cernments. How often does the mise­rable Sinner contend with himself, and while Conscience urges him to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Affecti­ons draw down to the Earth, the car­nal part prevailing over the rational, he overcomes, and is overcome, he is convinced and condemned by his own Mind. Till Consideration issues in this, that with setled Judgment and Affecti­ons the Soul determines for God and Heaven, 'tis without profit. There­fore in the managing this Duty, 'tis our Wisdom not to be curious and inquisi­tive after subtile Conceptions, and ex­alted Notions of the future State, that little confer to the making the Heart better, but to think seriously on what is plain and evident, and most useful to produce a present lasting Change. It were egregious Folly in a Man, that for the use of his Garden, should with great labour fetch Water from distant Foun­tains, and neglect that which springs up in his own Ground. That Meditation is profitable which produces not new Thoughts, but holy and firm resolutions of obeying God in order to the full [Page 453] enjoying of him for ever.

To perswade us to the serious pra­ctice of this Duty, there are many En­forcements.

Is any Man so foolish, so regardless of his Convenience, to purchase a House wherein he must live all his Days, and will not first see whether it will be con­venient, and secure for his Habitation? Shall we not then consider Heaven the Mansion of Blessedness, and Hell the Seat of Misery and Horror? for accor­ding as we chuse here, we shall be in the one or other place for ever. I shall in the fourth part of this Treatise, en­deavour to represent something of the inexpressible Misery of the Wicked hereafter, and shew how congruous and powerful the Thoughts of it are to restrain Men from Sin; but at pre­sent shall briefly excite to the Medita­tion of the Heavenly Glory, as the most noble, delightful and fruitful Work of the Soul, whiles confin'd to the Body of Flesh. 'Tis the most ex­alted Exercise of the Mind, the purest converse with God, the Flower of con­secrated Reason. 'Tis most like the Life of glorified Spirits above, who are in continual contemplation of the Di­vine [Page 454] Excellencies, and 'tis most raised above the Life of Carnal Men, that are sunk into Sensuality and Brutishness. 'Tis the most joyful Life, in that it sheds abroad in the Soul Delights that neither satiate, nor corrupt, nor weaken the Faculties, as the Delights of Sense do, but afford Perfection as well as Pleasure. 'Tis the most profitable Life. As in those parts of the Earth where the Beams of the Sun are strongly re­flected, precious Metals and Jewels are produc'd, wherein the refulgent resem­blance of that bright Planet appears: so the lively and vigorous Exercise of the Thoughts upon the heavenly Glory, will produce heavenly Affections, hea­venly Discourses, and a heavenly shi­ning Conversation. This will make us live like the blessed Society above, imi­tating their Innocence and Purity, their joyful, entire and constant Obedience to God. This confirms the Holy Soul in its Choice, with an invincible effica­cy against the Temptations and Lusts of the World. The serious considering Believer is filled with ravishing Wonder of the Glory that shall be revealed, and looks down with Contempt upon the Earth, and all that has the Name of Fe­licity [Page 455] here. All the Invitations, nay Terrors of the World, are as unable to check his pursuit of his blessed End, as the Breath of an Infant to stop the high flight of an Eagle.

But how rare and disused a Duty is this? How hardly are Men induc'd to set about it? Business and Pleasures are powerful Diversions. Some pretend Business as a just Cause, but in vain; for the one Thing necessary challenges our principal Thoughts and Care. Be­sides, there are intervals of Leisure, and the Thoughts are always stream­ing, and often run waste, which di­rected aright, would be very fruitful to the Soul. The true Cause of this neglect is from the inward temper of Men. Carnal Pleasures alienate the Mind, and make it unfit for the deep serious actings of the Thoughts upon Eternal Things. I have said of Laugh­ter, Thou art mad; it makes the Mind light, and vain, and desultory. As a distracted Person by every motion of Fancy flies from one thing to another without Coherence. The Heart fill'd with cloudy Cares, and smoaky Fires, with Thoughts and Desires about worldly Things, is unprepar'd for [Page 456] such a clear, calm, and sedate Work. A Carnal Person can taste no sweet­ness, feel no relish in the Meditation of Heaven, nor any Spiritual Duty. 'Tis as if one should take some delicious Fruit into his Mouth, a Peach, or the like, without breaking the Skin; it would be rather a trouble, than pleasant. Nay, the Gospel expresly declaring, That without Holiness no Man shall see God; those who by vicious Affections are in­gaged in any sinful way, being consci­ous of their Guilt and unpreparedness, and that while such, they are under a peremptory exclusion from celestial Glory, cannot endure the thoughts of Heaven. The Divine Presence is their Torment, and the serious considerati­on of it, is to bring them before God's holy and just Tribunal, to accuse and condemn them.

I shall now take a particular view of those Objects, from whence Conside­ration derives Vigour, for the inclining of the Will to a right Choice, and for regulating the Life.

1. Consider the End for which Man was designed in his Creation, why en­dued with rational and noble Powers [Page 457] of Soul, and plac'd by the Soveraign Maker in the highest rank of so nume­rous and various Natures that fill the Universe. Is it to raise an Estate, to shine in Pomp, to enjoy sensual Plea­sures for a little while, and after the fa­tal term to be no more for ever? Was he sent into the World upon as mean a Business as that of the foolish Emperor, who employed an Army, furnish'd with all Military Preparations, to gather Shells upon the Sea-shore? This were, according to the passionate expostula­tion of the Psalmist, to charge God that he had made all Men in vain. Reason and Scripture tells us the End of Man is to glorify and enjoy God, the obtain­ing whereof makes him perfectly hap­py, and the missing of it perfectly mise­rable. This is a fundamental Truth, upon which the whole Fabrick of Man's Duty and Felicity is built. Without this Foundation, our Faith presently sinks. If the clearness of this principle be obscur'd, we shall wander from the way of Eternal Life, and not only lose the way, but the remembrance and desire of it. Thinking is the property of the [Page 458] reasonable Soul, and the just order of Consideration is, that the Mind primari­ly regards this supream directive Truth that is to govern all our Actions. 'Twas prudent Counsel that Primum ego scriptoris offi­cium existi­m [...], ut titulum [...] legat, atque identi­dem [...] quid cap [...]it scri­bere. one of the An­tients gave for composing a Book, that the Author frequently reflect upon the Title, that it may correspond in all the parts with his original Design. Thus it becomes a Man often to consider the End of his Being, that the course of his Life may have a direct tendency to it▪ and the more excellent our End is, the more constraining is the necessity to prosecute it. 'Tis of great Efficacy to reflect upon our selves, Whither do my Thoughts and Desires tend? For what do I spend my Strength, and consume my Days? Will it be my last Account, how much by my Prudence and Dili­gence I have exceeded others in tem­poral Acquisitions? If a General were at play while the Armies are engaging, would it be a noble Exploit for him to win the Game, whiles his Army for want of conduct loses the Victory? Will it be profitable for a Man to gain the World, and lose his Soul? Let Conscience answer in Truth.

[Page 459]'Tis observable what is reported of a Cum natalis dies Februarii admonuisset ae­tatis numeran­dae, & tricesi­mo reperis­sem, invasit me subita moesti­tia, & perculsit admirantem, quomodo sine sensu vitae ad ejus culmen pervenissem, à quo lux quae­libet fit obscu­rior, & dies nostri ad oc­casum inclina­re incipiunt. Visa est mihi rerum facies momento mu­tata, & tunc primum me hominem ag­novi. Memoires Chanut. noble Forreigner, that on his Birth-day, reflecting upon the Age of his Life, he was surpriz'd with grief, and struck with Astonishment, that without a due Sense of the proper Business and End of Life, he was arrived to that Age, when our Days begin to decline. In an instant all things seem'd to change appearance in his view. Then first (says he) I perceived I was a Man, for before I had not resolved for what I should employ my Life. The issue was, his se­rious Resolution unfeignedly to honour God, sincerely to confess Christ, to place his Felicity in Holiness of Life, and most zealously to follow it. Let any one that is not of a reprobate Mind, and an incorrigibly depraved Heart, duly consider the sublime and superna­tural End of Man. O what a marvel­lous change will it make in him, of Carnal into Spiritual? nay it would be a kind of Miracle if he continued in his sinful State. How will it transform him into another Man, with new Valuations, new Affections and Resolutions, as if he were born again with a new Soul? How will it amaze him that his whole course has been a contradiction to the [Page 460] wise and gracious design of God, that all his Industry has been a race out of the way, a perpetual diversion from his main Business, that his Life has been fruitless and dead to the true End of it? How will he be confounded at his for­mer Folly? Then alone we act with Understanding, when mov'd by our blessed End, and our Actions by a strict tendency without variation issue into it.

2. Consider attentively the Objects that stand in competition for our Choice, the present World and Hea­ven, to make a judicious comparison between them in their Quality and Duration.

First, in their Quality. The things of the World, according to the judg­ment of God himself, who is only Wise and Good, and has the highest Autho­rity to decide in the case, are but fal­lacious appearances of Happiness, meer Vanity. And certainly the Creator knows the true worth of all things, and would not disparage his own Works, but would undeceive Men that are apt to judge and choose by the Eye of Sense. The Apostle tells us, That an Idol is nothing in the World; although the matter of it may be of Gold, or Marble, [Page 461] or Wood, yet it has no divine Perfe­ction, which the Idolater attributes to it. So all worldly things, in which Men place their chief Care, and Confidence, and Joy, though they have some de­grees of Goodness, and are a transient relief to us in our passage to Eternity, yet they are nothing as to perfect Feli­city. 'Tis meerly Opinion and Conceit that makes them so valued and pleasing, like a rich Dye to a slight Stuff from whence its Price arises. Reason is either obscur'd, or not obeyed, when the World is the Object of our Choice. Now what are these Appearances of Beauty and Pleasure, compar'd with a Blessedness that is truly infinite? Carnal Joy smiles in the Countenance, flatters the Fancy, touches the Sense, but can­not fill the Heart, but the Favour of God satisfies the Soul. Thou hast put Gladness into my Heart, more than when their Corn and Wine increased. Carnal Joy in its highest elevation in the time of the Harvest and Vintage, is incom­parably less than Spiritual Joy that springs from the Light of God's Coun­tenance. The World cannot fill the nar­row capacity of our Senses, but divine Joys exceed our most inlarged compre­hensive [Page 462] Faculties. The Eye is not satisfi­ed with seeing, nor the Ear with hearing; but the Peace of God passes all Vnderstand­ing. The Things of the World are of a limited Goodness; Wisdom is not Strength, nor Learning Riches, nor Beauty Fruitfulness: But God is a Vni­versal Good, in whom are all Attractives to raise and satisfy our Desires. If Men did consider, they would distinguish and despise in comparison all that is na­med Felicity here, with the Favour of God. To seek for satisfaction in the Creature and forsake him, is as if one desirous to see the Light should with­draw from the presence of the Sun, to borrow it from a weak Ray reflected by some obscure Matter. Now if there be so vast a difference in their Nature, as between a painted Vapour, and the so­lid glorious Good, between Finite and Infinite, why is there not a difference accordingly in our Esteem, Affections and Respects to them? How unreaso­nable is it that a Soul capable of God, should cleave to the Dust? It would be most egregious folly to hang a Weight, that is able to turn a great Engine, upon a small Clock: 'tis incomparably more foolish, when the love of Happiness, [Page 463] the weight of Humane Nature, which applied aright, will turn our Desires to Heaven, is only used to give vigorous motion to our Endeavours about earth­ly Things.

2. Consider their Duration. The Apostle tells us, that the main scope of his Actions was Things invisible; and gives the reason of it,2 Cor. 4.18. For the things that are seen are Temporal; but the things that are not seen are Eternal. To insist upon the vast difference between Tem­poral and Eternal, may seem needless: for the first Notions of things are of such uncontroulable clearness, that an attempt to prove them, is to light a Candle to discover the Sun. Yet this Principle drawing after it such power­ful Consequences for the government of our Hearts and Lives, and Conscience being so remiss, and the sensual Affecti­ons so rebellious, 'tis needful to consi­der this seriously, that what is really assented to in Speculation, may not be contradicted in Practice. Now who can unfold the infinite Volume of Ages in Eternity? The Understanding of an Angel can no more comprehend what is incomprehensible than the Mind of [Page 464] a Man. A Snail will pass over an im­mense space as soon as an Eagle: for though one dispatches more way than the other, yet both are equally distant from arriving to the end of what is endless. But that the Conception of Eternity may be more distinct, and affecting, it is useful to represent it under some temporal Resemblances, that sensibly, though not fully, express it. Suppose that the vast Ocean were distilled drop by drop, but so slowly, that a thousand Years should pass be­tween every drop; how many millions of Years were required to empty it? Suppose this great World in its full compass, from one Pole to another, and from the top of the Firmament to the bottom, were to be fill'd with the smallest Sand, but so slowly, that every thousand Years only a single Grain should be added; how many Millions would pass away before it were filled? If the immense Superficies of the Hea­vens, wherein are innumerable Stars, the least of which equals the magnitude of the Earth, were filled with Figures of Numbers without the least vacant space, and every Figure signified a Mil­lion, what created Mind could tell their [Page 465] Number, much less their Value? Having these Thoughts, I reply; The Sea will be emptied drop by drop, the Universe fill'd grain by grain, the Numbers written in the Heavens will come to an end; and how much of Eternity is then spent? Nothing; for still infinitely more remains. In short, what-ever is Tem­poral, extend the continuance of it to the utmost possibility of Concep­tion, is infinitely short of Eternity. A Day, an Hour, a Minute, has some proportion with a thousand Years; for that duration is determined by a certain number of Days, and Hours, and Mi­nutes: but Millions of Ages have no proportion to Eternity, because 'tis an indeterminable Duration. The Mind is soon tir'd and lost in searching after Numbers to represent it: 'tis confound­ed and struck with amazing Horror, and can only direct the Eye upward or downward to the two Habitations of Eternity, the glorious and the misera­ble, Heaven and Hell. Now let us compare the Things of the present World with those of the future State. The first are measur'd by flying Time, the other remain in an unmoveable Eternity. The Comforts that spring from the Earth, suddenly wither and [Page 466] fall to it: the Tree of Life flourishes only above. Frequent changes from Prosperity to Adversity are the Proper­ties of this mortal State. As those who are in Voyages at Sea, sometimes are in a calm, and presently suffer a storm, and are forc'd to alter their Course by the changing of the Winds; so 'tis with us in our passage here. But upon the first entrance into another World, all the variations of this are at an end. Verily every Man at his best estate is altogether Vanity. Surely every Man walks in a vain shew, surely they are disquieted in vain. The visible Felicity of Man is of no con­tinuance. We may frequently observe in the Evening, a Cloud by the reflecti­on of the Sun invested with so bright a Lustre, and adorn'd with such a plea­sant variety of Colours, that in the judgment of our Eyes, if an Angel were to assume a Body correspondent to his Glory, it were a fit matter for it. But in walking a few steps, the Sun is de­scended beneath the Horizon, and the Light withdrawn, and of all that splen­did flaming appearance, nothing re­mains but a dark Vapour, that falls down in a Showre. Thus vanishing is the shew of Felicity here. In this, Sense assists Faith; for the experience of eve­ry [Page 467] day verifies what the Scripture de­clares, that the Fashion of this World passes away. And therefore the guilty Folly of Men is aggravated, to set their Eyes and Hearts upon that which is not. To see one passionately dote on a Face ruin'd and deform'd with Age, to be in­chanted without a Charm, raises won­der, and exposes to contempt. Yet such is the stupidity of Men to embrace with their most entire Affections the wither'd Vanities of the World, that are hasten­ing to their Period. 'Twas a stinging reproach to Idolaters from God, None considers in his Heart, neither is their Knowledg nor Vnderstanding, to say, I have burnt part of it in the Fire; yea, I have also baked Bread upon the Coals there­of; I have roasted Flesh and eaten it; and shall I make the residue an Abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a Tree? And are not sensual Men equally guilty of such monstrous Folly? for though universal Experience convince them, that all things under the Sun are fading, and that many times their dearest Com­forts are snatch'd away from their Em­braces; yet who does advisedly consi­der, and say to himself, Shall I give my Heart to transient Shadows? Shall I cherish vain Hopes, vain Aims and De­sires [Page 468] of obtaining Happiness in a perish­ing World? Altho the worshipping a Stock be Idolatry of grosser Infamy, yet 'tis as foolish and as destructive to set our chief Love and Joy, that is only due to God, upon the Creature. And what follows in the Prophet is justly ap­plicable to such Persons; He feedeth on Ashes, (that not only afford no nourish­ment, but is very hurtful to the Body) a deceived Heart has turn'd him aside, that he cannot deliver his Soul, nor say, Is there not a Lie in my right Hand? Thus Carnal Men are so blinded with their Affections to these short-liv'd Pleasures, that they cannot take the true liberty of judging and reflecting that they are de­ceived and delighted with empty Sha­dows that will suddenly end in disap­pointment and sorrow? Briefly, these glittering Fictions and false Joys cannot please without an Error in the Mind, that shall last but a little while. And if you saw a distracted Person sing and dance, with a conceit that he is a Prince, would you be willing to lose sober Reason for his phantastick Pleasure, e­specially if you knew that his chearful Fit should suddenly change into a mournful or raging Madness for ever? But the Blessedness above is unchange­able [Page 469] as God the Author and Object of it, Eternal as the Soul that enjoys it. And shall the World that passes away with the Lusts thereof, turn our Affections from the undefiled immortal Inheritance? Shall the vanishing appearance, the fleeting Figure of Happiness be prefer­red before what is substantial and dura­ble? If a spark of true Reason, of sincere Love to our Souls be left, we shall count all things but dross and dung, that we may gain the Kingdom of Glory. Thus Eternity inlightens, thus it coun­sels us.

To encourage us to seek the King­dom of Heaven, I shall propound o­ther Motives to Consideration.

1. God is very willing that Men should be saved and partake of his Glory. For this end, he has brought Life and Immortality to light in the Go­spel. The Lord Jesus, the Sun of Righ­teousness, has dispel'd the darkness of the Gentiles, and the shadows of the Jews, and rendred the blessed and eter­nal State so clear and so visible, that every Eye may see it. Our assurance of it is upon infallible Principles. And though the excellent Glory of it is inexpres­sible, yet 'tis represented under variety [Page 470] of fair and lovely Types to invite our Affections. Besides, God makes an ear­nest offer of Life to us in his Word, he Commands, Counsels, Excites, Urges, nay Intreats and Beseeches with infinite Tenderness, that Men will accept of it. Thus the Apostle declares, Now then wa are Embassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead be reconciled to God. Is it not evident then beyond the most jea­lous suspicion, God is desirous of our Happiness? Can we imagine any design, any insincerity in his Words? Why should Heaven court a Worm? 'Tis his love to Souls that expresses it self in that condescending compassionate manner, to melt and overcome the perverse and hardned in Sin.

And as his Words so his Works are a convincing Argument of his Will: His most gracious sustaining and supporting of sinful Men, his innumerable Benefits conferr'd upon them, in the provision of Good, and preservation from Evil, are for this End, that by the conduct of his merciful Providence they may be led to Repentance, and received into his Favour. And the temporal Judg­ments inflicted on Sinners, are me­dicinal in their Nature, and in his [Page 471] design to bring them to a sight and abhorrence of Sin, to prevent their final ruin: if they prove mortal to any, 'tis from their obstinate Cor­ruption. The time allowed to those who are obnoxious to his Justice every hour, is not a meer reprieve from Tor­ment, but a space of Repentance to sue out a Pardon: They are spared in order to Salvation. The Lord is long-suffe­ring to usward, 2 Pet. 3.9. not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance.

But above all his other Works, the giving of his Son to be a Sacrifice for Sin, is an incomparable demonstration, how much he delights in the Salvation of Men. Since God has been at such cost to put them into a capacity of ob­taining the Kingdom of unchangeable Glory, far transcending the earthly Pa­radise that was forfeited by Sin, we have the strongest assurance that he desires their Felicity. And how guilty and miserable will those Sinners be that when Christ has opened Heaven to us by his Blood, refuse to enter into it? When Brutus the most noble Roman, propounded to a Philosopher his de­sign to restore Rome to Liberty, he [Page 472] replied, That the action would be glorious indeed, but that so many servile Spirits that tamely stoopt under Tyranny, were not worthy that a Man of Vertue and Courage should hazard himself to recover that for them, which they did so lightly esteem. The Re­demption of Mankind is without con­troversy the Master-piece of God's works, wherein his principal Attributes appear in their excellent Glory. But how astonishing is the unworthiness of Men, who wretchedly neglect Salvati­on, which the Son of God purchased by a Life full of Sorrows, and a Death of infinite Sufferings? Blessed Redeemer! may it be spoken with the humble, affe­ctionate, and thankful sense of thy dying Love, why didst thou give thy self a ransom for those who are charm'd with their Misery, and with the most foul Ingratitude disvalue so precious a Re­demption? How justly shall they be for ever deprived of it? Behold, ye de­spisers, and wonder, and perish.

2. Consider, this glorious Blessedness shall be the Portion of all that unfeign­edly choose it, and earnestly seek it. This motive was inclosed in the first, but deserves a separate Consideration. [Page 473] And of this we have infallible assurance from the Word of God, who cannot lie. Godliness has the Promise of the Life to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. The hope of a Christian is so certain that 'tis com­par'd to an Anchor fastned in Heaven. And besides the Fidelity of his Word, God has given us Security of the Re­ward, the Life of his Son. This me­thinks should turn the Current of our Desires and Endeavours to Heaven. For notwithstanding all our toil and sweat, the labour of the Day and the watch­ings of the Night for the obtaining earthly things, yet we many times fall short of our aims and hopes. 'Twas the observation of the wisest Man, I re­turned and saw under the Sun, that the Race is not to the Swift, nor the Battel to the Strong, neither yet Bread to the Wise, nor yet Riches to Men of Vnderstanding, nor yet Favour to Men of Skill; but Time and Chance happeneth to all. Indeed such is the order of Divine Providence in the World, there must be different conditions of Men here, some Rich, o­thers Poor; some Noble, others Mean; some in Command, others in Subjection. And from hence it is also evident, that [Page 474] neither Dignity nor Riches nor Plea­sures are the Happiness of Man. For 'tis not becoming the Wisdom and Goodness of God to make that the last end of the reasonable Creature, which though sought with Sincerity and Dili­gence, may not be obtained, or of which without his own consent he may be deprived. But civil distinctions and qualities are of no value and considera­tion with respect to the obtaining or excluding from Heaven. The rich and honourable that are in an exalted State, have not a more easy ascent and entrance into the Kingdom of God than those who are in the lowest degree. The Stars appear with the same bigness to him that stands in the deepest Valley as on the highest Hill. Is there any dif­ference between the Souls of the rich and great in the World, and the Souls of the poor and despised? Are they not equally the Off-spring of God, and e­qually ransomed by the most precious Blood of his Son? Are they not equally capable of Eternal Rewards? Are not the Promises of the heavenly Kingdom, equally addrest to every one that has an immortal Soul, that is faithful to his Duty and Covenant with God? This [Page 475] should inspire all with flaming Desires, and draw forth their utmost Industry, and make them stedfast and unmoveable, always to abound in the Work of the Lord, knowing our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

I know the Carnal Will is impetu­ous and impatient of delay; and ear­nest for what is present with the ne­glect of the future Glory. But the un­reasonableness of this is evident to all; for 'tis not a new and strange thing to sow in hopes of reaping a Harvest, for Men to be industrious and active on Land and Sea for future Advantage. Nay, 'tis the constant practice of the World: The Merchant, the Husband­man, the Student, the Souldier, and every Man in the Circle of his Calling are visible Instances of this; and tho many times the most flourishing Hopes are blasted, they are not discouraged. And is it not a sight full of wonder to observe Men chearful in Labours and Hardships in the Service of the World, to carry it so lightly as if they had Wings, and all for a poor and uncer­tain Recompence, and to be slow and languid in their Endeavours for a Re­ward as great and as sure as God is glo­rious [Page 476] and true? How many ambitious­ly strive to please a Prince, and wait long in his Service, who is but a Man, and therefore variable in his Temper and State, sometimes is not willing to do what he can, and sometimes cannot do what he would to reward his Ser­vants? And is there not infinitely more reason we should labour to please God, who is the most liberal, and rich, and certain Rewarder of all that seek him?

3. Consider how gracious the Terms are upon which Heaven is promised in the Gospel. Our Saviour's Laws are so holy, just, and in their own Nature so good to Men, even in their present per­formance, that their own Excellence, and Equity, and Sweetness, is sufficient to recommend them without a respect to the glorious Reward of Obedience. For what can be more desirable than conformity to the Nature of the blessed God? What Pleasure is comparable to that which springs from a pure Consci­ence, from a godly, righteous and sober Conversation? How joyful is the per­formance of that Service which more immediately is directed to the honour of the Divine Majesty? In Prayer, and [Page 477] other sacred Actions, we draw near to the Fountain of Felicity, and receive from his Fulness. In the affectionate Praises of God, we are Companions of the Angels. And is not Integrity and Honesty in our dealings with Men more easy and comfortable than Fraud and Oppression? Is it not troublesome to be always under a Mask, to use arts and disguises to avoid the reproach and re­venge that attends unjust Actions when discovered? Are Temperance and Cha­stity as hurtful to the Body, as Luxury and Lasciviousness, the essential parts of Carnal Felicity? How miserably distra­cted is Man when the Heart is rent with numberless Vanities, the Affections di­vided between various Objects! how quiet and composed, when the Heart is united to God as the supreme Good, and the Affections joyfully conspire in his Service! Can it then be pretended that the Yoke of Christ is heavy, and his Law hard? Or are his Promises un­certain, and his Reward small? No, his Commands are not grievous; in the keeping them there is a great Reward, a present Paradise. Religion will make us happy hereafter in the enjoyment of God, and happy here in Obedience to [Page 478] his Holy Will. Such is his Goodness, that our Duty and Happiness are the same.

But it will be said, That the Go­spel requires us to pluck out the right Eye, and to cut off the right Hand, and to take up the Cross of Christ; that is, to mortify the dearest Lusts, and to sub­mit to the sharpest Sufferings for his Ho­nour, that we may be eternally Happy.

To this I answer;

'Tis true, the humane Nature in this depraved State, only relishes such Ob­jects as pleasantly insinuate with the Carnal Senses, and 'tis bitter as Death to bind up the Affections from them. But Grace gives a new divine Nature to the Soul, and makes it easy to abstain from fleshly Lusts. To make this more clear by a sensible Instance: Suppose a dis­eased Person, whose Stomach is op­press'd with corrupt Humours, and his Throat and Mouth so heated with Choller and continual Thirst, that he thinks it impossible, though for his Life, to abstain from immoderate Drinking. If a Physician by some powerful Medicine cleanses the Sto­mach, and tempers the internal Heat, he then can easily restrain himself from [Page 479] Excess. Thus a Carnal Man that is full of false Estimations, and irregular De­sires, while there are Pleasures with­out, and Passions unsubdued within, though his Salvation depends on it, thinks it impossible to restrain the ex­orbitant Appetites of Flesh and Blood. The Gentiles thought it strange Christi­ans did not run with them to the same excess of Riot. But divine Grace so clarifies and enlightens the Mind, so purifies and elevates the Affections, that 'tis not only possible but easy to abstain from unlawful Pleasures. St. Austin before his Conversion was astonish'd, that many in the vigour of Youth, and in a frail World lived Chastly; and reflecting upon himself, was encouraged by this Thought, that which such and such observe, why shall it be impossible to me to observe? and upon serious trial, by the prosperous in­fluence of Heaven, was a Conqueror o­ver all carnal Temptations. Nay after his holy Change,Quam suave carete suavita­tibus istis? the withholding his Heart from vitious Delights, was inex­pressibly more sweet than his former enjoying of them. And are there not many visible examples of holy heaven­ly Christians, to whom grosser sensual [Page 480] Pleasures are unsavory and contempti­ble? You may as well tell the number of the Stars, as of those who have pra­ctised Religion in its strictness and pu­rity, and by their enlightned Conver­sations directed us in the way to Hea­ven. And are their Bodies taken from the Vein of a Rock, and not composed of Flesh and Blood as well as others? Are their Passions, like Solomon's bra­zen Sea, unmoveable by any Winds of Temptations? Are they entire­ly exempted from the impression of Objects, and the lower Affecti­ons? No, they are alive, and sen­sible of those things that ravish the Affections of carnal Men, but by the power of Grace despise and overcome them. And this Grace is offered in the Gospel to all that sincerely desire it, so that 'tis a vain wretched pretence that Religion binds to hard Service.

To the other part of the Objection, that sometimes Religion exposes the Professors of it to heavy Sufferings, I answer, Indeed the Gospel is plain and peremptory in this, if we will reign with Christ, we must suffer with him, when we are called forth to give a noble testimo­ny [Page 481] to his Truth. 'Tis no extraordinary Elevation, no point of Perfection, but the duty of every Christian to be al­ways ready in the disposition and reso­lution of his Mind, to sacrifice his Life when the honour of Christ requires it. But 'tis no hard condition to suffer transient Afflictions for the obtaining a Happy Immortality, to be conformable to the Image of our suffering Redeemer, that we may be crowned with his Glory. How many Christians esteemed them­selves honoured in the Disgrace, and blessed in the Injuries they suffered for Christ, and with an invincible Patience, and astonishing Joy, endured the most cruel Persecutions, though yet the hu­man Nature in them was as tender and sensible of Pains as in others? but the natural aversion and repugnance to suf­fering was overruled by the determina­tion of the rational Will, upon the ac­count of their Duty, and the Reward attending it. They gave a most con­vincing sensible Testimony how much more valuable Heaven is, than this pre­sent World, willingly exposing them­selves to all Evil here, and rejoicing in hope of a glorious issue.

In short; the Reward of Obedience [Page 482] is a triumphal Crown; and where there is no Victory, there can be no Triumph; and where no Combat, no Victory; and where no Enemy, no Combat. Therefore we are commanded to fight against our internal Enemies, our cor­rupt Affections, to kill the Lusts of the Flesh, and to encounter and overcome, by Humility and meek Submissions, the Cruelty of malicious Enemies without us, in order to obtain the Crown of Life. And a Believer that has Heaven in taste and expectation, will easily re­nounce the most pleasant, and wil­lingly endure the sharpest Temptati­ons, for the blessed Reward of his Obe­dience.

Lastly, Fervent and constant Prayer is requisite for the Grace of God, that we may fix our Aims aright upon eter­nal Happiness, and use those sure Means that with divine Advantage are pro­pos'd in the Scriptures, that can make us wise to Salvation; such is the depra­vation of Man since his Fall, the Mind is diverted by vain Thoughts, and the Heart prepossess'd with sensual Desires, that 'till the Spirit of his Mind be re­newed, and his original Affections to [Page 483] the Supream Good be revived and resto­red by Divine Grace, he is regardless of it, and only applies himself to what is pleasing to Sense. There may be some transient Glances, and volatile Wishes of Heaven in Carnal Men, but they are miserably weak, and ineffe­ctual. Therefore a most necessary Du­ty incumbent upon us, is by humble and fervent Prayer to address our selves to God for his Spirit, to enlighten our Minds, that we may believe the Rea­lity and Greatness of the Eternal Re­ward; and to reform our Wills, that we may feel its attractive Force. Both these Acts of the Spirit are requisite, that the Love of God, as our chief Fe­licity, may be the regent Principle of our Hearts and Lives.

1. For this end the Holy Spirit con­vinces Men thorowly of the Reality and Greatness of an invisible Happi­ness. In the Light of the Gospel, how many of eminent intellectual Faculties are stupid as to their great Interest, and spend themselves about Trifles, and are equally tractable to Eternal Ruin, as the Ox to the Slaughter? He that is destitute of the illuminating Grace of the Spirit, is blind, and cannot see afar [Page 484] off. Now by the Analogy between the corporal and intellectual Faculties, we may understand, in some measure, how the Mind is illuminated by the Spirit of God. For as to the Act of Seeing, two things are requisite; 1. External Light in the Air, without which the Colours, Figures and Beau­ties of Objects are not visible to the sharpest Eye, but lie obscur'd under impenetrable Darkness. 2. Internal Light in the Eye, in which the visive Power consists: if this be extinguish'd, the clearest Light of Heaven is of no use for the discovery of Things. Thus the Understanding is enabled to see Spiritu­al things. 1. By the Revelation of the Object: In this respect Life and Immor­tality are brought to Light by the Gospel. Till that bright Discovery was made of Eternal Blessedness, it was above the desires and hopes of sinful Man. Coelum, homo nec optare poterat ex ignorantia, nec sperare ex propriae miseriae conscientia. 2. By the inward inlightning from the Spirit of Wisdom, that removes the Igno­rance, Prejudice, and Inadvertency of the Mind, which as Scales darkned its Sight, and disposes it to perceive the Verity and Excellency of spiritual and [Page 485] future Things, tho not with compre­hensive Evidence, yet with that assu­rance, that no doubtfulness or suspence remains concerning them. 'Tis obser­vable that Faith is exprest in Scripture, by Prudence, Wisdom, and Knowledg, whereby a Man knows the Grounds and Motives of his Judgment and Actions. And Sin is called Folly. For as when the understanding Faculty, either from the indisposedness of the Organs, as in Idiots, or from the disorder of Fancy by inflammation of the Humours, as in distracted Persons, cannot weigh and compare, and therefore makes a perverse judgment of things; so the carnal Mind, by not due measuring and pondering, judges falsly of spiritual Things. If something no bigger than the Hand were put before the Eye, it would intercept the sight of the Heavens; and he that not considering the Properties of things near and distant, should conclude that Piece to be bigger than the Heavens, were justly reputed a Fool. And the folly of carnal Men is more gross, who prefer things present to Sense, before what is future and of everlasting conse­quence to the Soul. But there are some Actions, which if done by a Natural, [Page 486] would be counted Folly, yet being done by those who in the reputation of the World are Wise, are esteemed Prudent, but they are the most deplorable Folly. Now as the restoring the Laesum princi­pium, the broken Mind to its sound state, whereby 'tis able to consider, discern and conclude of things according to their Nature, such is the action of God's Spi­rit upon the corrupt Mind, clarifying and enlightning it, so that it receives full conviction by the clearest Marks of divine Authority shining in the Gospel, of the Truth of all the great and preci­ous Promises therein contained, and causing it, by a steady application of the Thoughts, to see the vast difference be­tween what is Temporal, and Eternal; how despicably light all the Vanities of this World are found, when put in the Ballance against the infinite inestimable Happiness of the next. In short, the renewed Mind knows Spiritual Things according to their Nature and Qualities, believes, esteems, and determines that they are of eternal Moment, and abso­lutely necessary for the Happiness of Man. And as when the natural Faculty of seeing is perish'd, 'tis irreparable by human Skill, and without a Miracle can [Page 487] never be restored; so the intellectual Fa­culty, when darkned by sinful Lusts, without the renewing power of the Spi­rit, can never know Spiritual Things as they ought to be known. Therefore as the blind Men in the Gospel who dispair'd of help from the Physicians, hearing of the miraculous Power of Christ, im­portunately begg'd his healing Mercy; so let us pray to the Light and Saviour of the World, but in a more noble and higher Sense, Lord, that we may receive our sight. Let us with the most zealous Affections call upon the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, that he would give unto us the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation in the knowledg of him, the Eyes of our understanding being inlightned, that we may know what is the hope of his Calling, and what the Riches of the Glory of his Inheritance in the Saints.

2. The efficacious Influence of the Holy Spirit is requisite to change the Will, that with a free and full consent it may desire and prosecute the Spiritual Eternal Good. Without this, the con­viction of the Mind is not powerful e­nough to convert the Soul from the love of the World, to choose Heaven. There may be an inlightned Con­science, [Page 488] without a renewed Heart. Though the Judgment assents that God is the Supream Good, yet till the Heart be circumcised, the sensuality of the Af­fections taken away, divine Love that directs the Life to God as our blessed End, can never possess it. Suppose that Men had a sensible and strong assu­rance of the Eternal State hereafter, if all those who lived godly in a visible manner ascended with Elias to Heaven, and if all who continued in their Sins visibly descended into Hell, as Corah and his Company were swallowed up alive by the Earth, before the Israelites; if Men could hear the joyful Exultati­ons of the Saints above, their high Praises of God, and hear the desperate Crys and deep Complaints of the Damned: if one, according to the desire of the rich Man, were sent from Hell, and with his Fiery Tongue should relate what he had seen and suffer'd, and exhibit a sensible demonstrati­on in himself of those Torments, yet this alone were not sufficient to draw off their Hearts from the deceitful Happi­ness of this World, and fasten them on the perfect and Eternal Happiness in the next. Indeed they could not then in­dulge [Page 489] their Lusts so securely, but they would be Strangers to the Life of God, such an inveterate alienation of Heart is in Men from real Holiness. Till the sanctifying Spirit by a directive per­suasive Light that represents the Truth and Goodness of Spiritual Things, transforms the Soul, and makes it Spiritual in its Valuations and Af­fections, 'tis inwardly averse from Grace and Glory. The Lord direct our Hearts into the Love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ, when he shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and ad­mired in all them that believe.

FINIS.

OF HELL.

BY WILLIAM BATES, D.D.

LONDON, Printed by J. D. for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal Exchange in Cornhil. 1691.

OF HELL.

Mark 9.48.

Where their Worm dieth not, and the Fire is not quenched.

THE Words are the repetition of a powerful Motive, by our Blessed Saviour, to deter Men from indulging Temptations to sin, how grateful or useful soever to them: If thy Hand offend thee, cut it off; if thy Foot offend thee, cut it off; if thy Eye offend thee, pluck it out. All the Oc­casions whereby Sin insinuates it self, and inflames our Inclinations, whether it bribes us with Profit, or allures by Pleasure, must be immediately cut off, [Page 494] and for ever separated from us. This Counsel seems very severe to the natu­ral Man, who freely converses with Temptations: To do Violence to him­self, and tear his beloved Lusts from his Bosom, the Carnal Nature will not consent to. Our Saviour therefore urges such Arguments as may move the Understanding and Affections, may strike Sense and Conscience: For it is better to enter into Life maimed, than having two Hands to go into Hell where the Fire never shall be quenched. Hope and Fear are the most active Passions: The Hope of Heaven is motive enough to induce a true Believer to despise and reject all the Advantages and Pleasures of Sin that are but for a Season: and the fear of an Everlasting Hell, is strong enough to controul the vici­ous Appetites. Reason determines, that when a Gangreen that is deadly and spreading,Ut corpus re­dimas ferrum patieris & ig­nes: ut valeas animo quic­quam tolera­re negabis? At pretium pars haec cor­pore majus habet. Ovid. has seiz'd upon a Mem­ber, presently to cut off an affected Arm or Leg, to save the rest: how much more reasonable and necessary is it to part with the most charming and favourite Sin, to preserve the Soul from Eternal Death? 'Tis observable, our Saviour inculcates three times, [Page 495] that Men may take notice of it with terror, Where the Worm never dies, and the Fire is never quenched: A Worm gnawing upon the Bowels, that are of the most tender and quick sense, Fire that causes the most vehement pain, are fearful Representations to typify the Torments of the Damned: And that the Worm is undying, and the Fire unquenchable, infinitely aggra­vates their Punishment.

The Proposition is this: That the punishment of those who will retain their pleasant or profitable Sins, shall be extream and eternal.

In the handling of this Point, I will,

  • 1. Discourse of the Extremity of the Punishment.
  • 2. Of the Eternity of it.

1. Of the Extremity of it.

Before the particular Description of the Pains of the Damned, I shall ob­serve in general, That the full Repre­sentation of Hell is beyond all humane Expression, nay our most fearful Thoughts cannot equal the Horror of it.Psal. 90.11. Who knows the Power of thine An­ger? [Page 496] What are the prepared Plagues, by infinite Justice and Almighty Wrath for obstinate Sinners? It is impossible for the most guilty and trembling Con­science to inlarge its sad apprehensions according to the degrees of that Misery. The Lord will shew forth his Wrath, and make his Power known in the Vessels fitted for Destruction. None can tell what God can do, and what Man shall suf­fer, when made capable to endure such Torments for ever, as now would presently consume him. As the Glo­ry of Heaven cannot be fully under­stood till enjoyed, so the Torments of Hell cannot be comprehended till felt. But we may have some discovery of those unknown Terrors, by the fol­lowing Considerations.

1. The most heavy Judgments of God upon Sinners here, are light and tolerable in Comparison of the Pu­nishment of Sinners in the next State. For,

(1.) Temporal Evils of all kinds and degrees, as Pestilence, Famine, War, are designed for the bringing of Men to a sight and sense of their Sins, and are common to Good and Bad [Page 497] here. And if his Anger be so terrible when he chastises as a compassionate Father, what is his Fury when he pu­nishes as a severe Judg? If the correct­ing Remedies ordered by his Wisdom and Love for the conversion of Sinners be so sharp, what is the deadly re­venge of his irreconcileable Hatred?

(2.) The Miseries of the present State are allayed with some enjoyments. None are so universally afflicted, so desolate, but something remains to sweeten the sense of their Sufferings. Judgments are tempered with Mercies. No Man is tortur'd with all Diseases, nor forsa­ken of all Friends, nor utterly without Comfort. And when the Affliction is irremediable, yet if our grief produces Sympathy in others, 'tis some ease to the troubled Mind, and by that assi­stance the Burthen is made lighter. But in Hell the Damned are surrounded with Terrors, encompast with Flames, with­out any thing to refresh their Sorrows, not a drop of Water to a Lake of Fire. All that was esteemed Felicity here, is totally withdrawn. Death puts a pe­riod to their Lives, and Pleasures of Sin for ever. For 'tis most just, that those Objects which were abu­sed [Page 498] by their Lusts, and alienated their Hearts from their Duty and Fe­licity, should be taken away. And which is extream Misery, in their most pitiful State they are absolute­ly unpitied. Pity is the cheap and universal Lenitive, not denied to the most guilty in their Sufferings here: for the Law of Nature instructs us to pity the Man, when the Malefactor suffers. But even this is not afford­ed to the Damned. All their Ago­nies and Cries cannot incline the Compassion of God, and the blessed Spirits in Heaven towards them: for they are not compassionable Objects, their Misery being the just effect of their perverse obstinate Choice. And in Hell all human tender Affections are extinguisht for ever. Now 'tis the per­fection of Misery, the excess of Desola­tion, to be deprived of all good things pleasing to our Desires, and to suffer all Evils from which we have the deepest aversation and abhorrence. As in Hea­ven all Good is eminently comprised, and nothing but Good, so in Hell all Evil is in excessive degrees, and no­thing but Evil.

(3.) Temporal Evils are inflicted by [Page 499] the mediation of second Causes that are of a limited power to hurt: but in the next World he more immediately tor­ments the Damned by his absolute Power. The Apostle tells us, that the Wicked are punished with everlast­ing Destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the Glory of his Power. 2 Thes. 1. What is the lashing with a few Rush­es, to a blow given by the hand of a Giant that strikes dead at once? This comparison is below the Truth.

More particularly,Indeed it is dif­ficult to conceive how a material Fire can act on a spiritual Sub­stance. But 'tis unreasonable to determine that it is impossible. For if we consi­der what Pain is, it is as con­ceivable how pure Spirits are capable of it, as Spirits in Conjunction with Bodies. The human Soul in its Nature is Spiri­tual as the Angels, yet has a painful sense of Fire or other afflicting Evils incumbent on the Senses. The Body meerly feels not pain, but it passes through the Body to the Soul. If the Soul by a strong diversion of Thoughts apply it self to an Object, the Body is insensible of Pain, as is evident in some Diseases; and that in the heat of Battel, deep Wounds are not felt. And as God by a natural Constitution has ordered, that the Body so touched and moved, excites a painful Sense in the Soul, he may have ordained that the Devils shall feel the impressions of Material Fire, in the places to which they shall be confin'd. the state of Mi­sery is set forth in Scripture by such re­presentations as may powerfully in­struct and terrify even the most carnal Men. Nothing is more intolerably painful, than suffering the violence of Fire inraged with Brimstone: and Hell is described by a Lake of Fire and Brimstone, wherein the Wicked are tormented. Whether the Fire be Ma­terial [Page 500] or Metaphorical, the reality and in­tenseness of the Torment is signified by it. But the ordinary Fire, tho mingled with the most torturing Ingredients, is not an adequate representation of it. For that is prepared by Men, but the Fire of Hell is prepared by the Wrath of God for the Devil and his Angels. The Divine Power is illustri­ously manifested in that terrible Prepa­ration: So that, as some of the Fathers express it, if one of the Damned might pass from those Flames into the fiercest Fires here, it were to exchange a Torment for a Refreshment. The Scripture speaks of the vehement heat and fiery Thirst, and outer Darkness in which the Damned suffer, to satisfy the rights of Justice in the torment of those Senses, for the Pleasure of which Men wilfully broke the Laws of God.

But the Soul being the chief Sinner, shall be the chief Mourner in those Re­gions of Sorrow. An Image of this we have in the Agonies of Spirit, which sometimes the Saints themselves are in here, and which the most stubborn Sin­ners can neither resist nor endure. Job was afflicted in that manner that he complains, The Arrows of the Almighty [Page 501] are with me, the Poison whereof drinks up my Spirit, the Terrors of God set them­selves in Array against me. If a Spark of his Displeasure falls on the guilty Conscience, it tears and blows up all, as a Fire-ball cast into a Magazine. So­lomon, who understood the Frame of humane Nature, tells us, The Spirit of a Man can bear his Infirmity: that is, the Mind fortified by principles of moral Counsel and Constancy, can endure the assault of external Evils: but a wounded Spirit who can bear? This is most insupportable when the sting and remorse of the Mind is from the sense of Guilt: for then God appears an Enemy, righteous and severe; and who can encounter with offended Om­nipotence? Such is the sharpness of his Sword, and the weight of his Hand, that every stroke is deadly inward. Satan the cruel Enemy of Souls, ex­asperates the Wounds. He discovers and charges Sin upon the Conscience with all its killing Aggravations, and conceals the divine Mercy, the only Le­nitive and Balm to the Wounded Spi­rit. What Visions of Horror, what Spectacles of Fear, what Scenes of Sorrow are presented to the distracted [Page 502] Mind by the Prince of Darkness? And which heightens the Misery, Man is a worse Enemy to himself than Satan: he falls upon his own Sword and de­stroys himself. The guilty Conscience turns the Sun into Darkness, and the Moon into Blood: the precious Pro­mises of the Gospel, that assure Fa­vour and Pardon to returning and re­lenting Sinners, are turn'd into Argu­ments of despair, by reflecting upon the abuse and provocation of Mercy, that the Advocate in God's bosom, is become the Accuser. Whatever the Soul-wounded Sinner sees or hears, af­flicts him; whatever he thinks, tor­ments him. All the Diversions in the World, Business, Pleasures, merry Conversation, Comedies, are as inef­fectual to give freedom from those Stings and Furies in the Breast, as the sprinkling of Holy Water is to expel a raging Devil from a possest Person. Those who in their Pride and Jollity, have despised serious Re­ligion, either as a fond Transport and Extasy towards God, or a dull Melan­choly and Dejection about the Soul, or an idle Scrupulosity about indifferent things, yet when God has set their Sins [Page 503] with all their killing circumstances in order before their Eyes, how changed, how confounded are they at that Ap­parition? how restless, with the dread­ful expectation of the doom that attends them! Belshazzer in the midst of his Cups, and Herd of Concubines, by a few Words written on the Wall, con­taining his Process and Judgment, was so terrified by his guilty jealous Con­science, that his Joints were loosed, Nature sunk under the apprehension. Now all these troubles of Mind, are but the beginnings of Sorrows, but the Smoak of the infernal Furnace, but Earnests of that terrible Sum which divine Justice will severely exact of the Wicked in Hell.

Indeed these Examples are rare, and not regarded by the most, and by some lookt on as the effects of Distraction; but to convince the bold and careless Sinners who never felt the stings of an awakned Conscience, what extream Terrors seize upon the Wicked in the other World? Consider,

1. The Apprehension shall be more clear and enlarged than in the present State. Now the Soul is opprest with a weight of Clay, and in Drowsiness and [Page 504] Obscurity. The great things of Eter­nity are of little force to convince the Conscience, or perswade the Affections. But then the Soul shall work with the quickest activity. The Mind shall by an irresistible Light take a full view of all afflicting Objects. The most stu­pid and unconcerned Sinners shall then see and feel their ruin'd State, what a glorious Felicity they have lost, what a Misery they are plunged into, without any possibility of lessening it by false Conceits, and receiving any relief by the error of Imagination.

2. The mournful Thoughts shall be always fixt upon what is tormenting. The Soul in conjunction with the Body cannot always apply it self to one sort of Objects. For the Ministry of the sensible Faculties is requisite to its Ope­rations. And the Body must be suppor­ted by Eating and Drinking and Rest, which interrupts troublesom Thoughts. Besides, the variety of Objects and Ac­cidents here avert the Mind sometimes from what is afflicting. But the sepa­rate Soul is in no dependance on the Body, and after their reunion, there shall be no necessity of Food or Sleep, or any other animal actions to support [Page 505] it, but it shall be restored to a new ca­pacity for new Torments, and preserved in that miserable State by the power of God. There will be nothing then to divert the lost Soul from sad Reflecti­ons upon its Misery. There are no lu­cid intervals in Hell.

3. All the tormenting Passions will then be let loose at once upon the guil­ty Creature. And if there be no single Passion so weak, but heightned, will break the Spirit, and render Life so miserable, that a Man will take Sanctu­ary in the Grave to escape; how mise­rable is the Condition when the most fierce and united Passions war against the Soul? This is signified by the never-dying Worm that gnaws on the tenderest parts, and of quickest sense. Shame, Sorrow, Despair, Fury, Hatred and Revenge are some of that brood of Vi­pers that torment the Damned.

1. Shame is a Passion of which hu­man Nature is very sensible, and this in the highest degree of Confusion shall seize on the Wicked.Dan. 12.2. For all the just causes of Shame shall then meet. The inward source of it is the consciousness of Guilt, or Turpitude and Folly in the Actions; and all these are the insepa­rable [Page 506] Adjuncts of Sin.Tacitâ sudant praecordia cul­pa. Juv. The guilty Soul by a piercing reflection upon its Crimes, has a secret shame of its Degeneracy and Unworthiness. The Passion is in­creast, when a discovery is made of vile practices that defile and debase a Man, expose to Contempt and Infamy, before Persons of high Quality and eminent Vertue, whom we admire and reve­rence, and whose esteem we value. To be surprized in an unworthy Action by such a Person, disorders the Blood, and transfuses a Colour into the Face, to cover it with a Vail of Blushing. And the more numerous the Spectators are, the more the Disgrace is aggravated. And if Derision be joined with the Ig­nominy, it causes extream Displeasure. O the universal Confusion, the over-powring amazement that will seise on Sinners in the great Day of Discovery, when all the Works of Darkness, all their base Sensualities shall be revealed before God, Angels and Saints! When all the Covers of Shame shall be taken off, the Excuses and Denials, to extenu­ate or conceal their Sins, shall vanish, and their Breasts be transparent to the Eyes of all! How will they be ashamed of their foul and permanent Deformity in [Page 507] the Light of that glorious Presence? How will they be astonisht to appear in all their Pollutions before that bright and immense Theatre? How will they be confounded to stand in all their Guilt before that sublime and severe Tribu­nal? How will they endure the up­braidings for all the Sins which they have so wickedly committed, and the derision for the Punishment they so de­servedly suffer? The holy Judg will laugh at their Calamity, and mock when their fear comes. The Righteous also shall see, and shall laugh at them, Lo these are the Men that made not God their Portion, but perishing Vanities, that prefer'd sweet Folly before severe Wisdom. The Devils will reproach them for that scornful advantage they had over them, That as Children are seduc'd for things of Lustre to part with real Treasures, so they were easily persuaded for the Trifles of Time to exchange Eternal Happiness. Whither will they cause their Shame to go? Jer. 14.12. Those black Sinners that here never change colour for their Filthiness, that hardned by custom in Sin, are impenetrable to Shame, as the brute Beasts that are abso­lutely destitute of reason, nay that have [Page 508] not only overcome all tenderness, but glory in their Shame, shall glow at the manifestation of their sordid Lusts, their vile Servilities, and be covered with Confusion, and the sense of it shall be revived in their Minds for ever.

2. To open Shame is joined the greatest inward Sorrow. This Passion, when violent, penetrates the Soul in all its Faculties, and fastens it to the af­flicting Object. When it dwells in the Bosom, it gives an easy entrance to whatever cherishes and increases it, and rejects what might asswage and lessen the sense of the Evil. The most pleasant things do not excite Desire or Joy, but exasperate Grief. Like those Animals that convert the best nourish­ment into their own Poison; so deep Sorrow receives mournful impressions from all things, and turns the sweetest Comforts of Life into Wormwood and Gall. The causes of Sorrow are either the loss of some valued Good, or the sense of some present Evil. And the Sorrow is more violent, as the Cause is great in it self, and in the apprehensi­on and tenderness of the Sufferers. Now both these Causes, with all the heavy Circumstances that can multiply [Page 509] and aggravate Sorrow, meet in Hell the Centre of Misery.

The loss is inconceivably great. If Cain when banish'd from the Society of the Saints, where God was publickly worship'd, and by spiritual Revelations and visible Apparitions, graciously made himself known, cry'd out in anguish of Soul, My punishment is greater than I can bear: from thy Face shall I be hid, and I shall be a Fugitive upon the Earth: how intolerable will be the final separation from his glorious and joyful Presence be? In the clear and transforming Vision of his Glory, and the intimate and indissolvable Union with him by Love, consists the Perfe­ction and Satisfaction of the immortal Soul. The Felicity resulting from it, is as entire and eternal, as God is Great and True, who has so often pro­mis'd it in Scripture. Now the Dam­ned are for ever excluded from the re­viving Presence of God. 'Tis often seen how tenderly and impatiently the humane Spirit resents the loss of a dear Relation. Jacob for the supposed death of Joseph, was so overcome with Grief, that when all his Sons and Daughters rose up to comfort him, he refused to [Page 510] be comforted, and said, I will go down mourning to the Grave. Jussisti Domi­ne, & sic est ut poena sit sibi omnis inordi­natus affectus. Aug. Indeed this overwhelming Sorrow, is both a Sin and a Punishment. 'Tis ordain'd, by the righteous and unchangeable Decree of God, that every inordinate Affecti­on in Man should be his own Tormen­tor. But if the loss of a poor frail Creature for a short time be so afflict­ing, how insupportable will the Sor­row be for the loss of the Blessed God for ever? Who can fully conceive the Extent and Degrees of that Evil? For an Evil rises in proportion to the Good of which it deprives us: It must there­fore follow, that Celestial Blessedness being an infinite eternal Good, the ex­clusion from it is proportionably Evil. And as the Felicity of the Saints results from the Fruition of God in Heaven, and from comparison with the contrary State: So the Misery of the Damned arises, both from the thoughts of lost Happiness, and from the lasting Pain that torments them.

It may be replied, If this be the ut­most Evil that is consequent to Sin, the Threatning of it, is likely to deter but few from the pleasing their corrupt Ap­petites: for carnal Men have such gross [Page 511] and vitiated Affections that are careless of spiritual Happiness. They cannot taste and see how good the Lord is.

To this a clear Answer may be gi­ven: In the next State, where the Wicked shall be for ever without those Carnal Objects, that here deceive and delight them, when deprived of all things that pleases their voluptuous Senses, their Apprehensions will be changed; they shall understand what a Happiness it is to enjoy God, and what a Misery to be expell'd from the Celestial Paradise. Our Saviour tells the Jews, Luke 15.28. There shall be weeping and gnashing of Teeth, when ye shall see A­braham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets in the Kingdom of God, and you your selves thrust out. How will they pine with envy at the sight of that triumphant Felicity, of which they shall never be Partakers? To see that blessed Company entring into the sacred Mansions of Light, will make the loss of Heaven infinitely more discernable and terrible to the Wicked, who shall be cast into outer Darkness, and for ever be deprived of Communi­on with God and his Saints. Depart [Page 512] from me, will be as dreadful a part of the Judgment as Eternal Fire.

With the loss of the most excellent Good, the suffering of the most afflict­ing painful Evil is join'd. The Sen­tence is, Depart ye Cursed into Ever­lasting Fire. God's Justice is not sa­tisfied in depriving them of Heaven, but inflicts the most heavy Punishment upon Sense and Conscience in the Dam­ned: for as the Soul and Body in their state of union in this Life, were both guilty, the one as a Guide, the other as the Instrument of Sin; and if an imaginarry Sorrow conceived in the Mind without a real external Cause, as in Melancholly Persons, when gross Vapours darken and corrupt the bright­ness and purity of the Spirits that are requisite for its chearful Operations, is often so oppressing that Nature sinks under it: How insupportable will the Sorrow of condemned Sinners be, un­der the impression and sense of God's Almighty and avenging Hand, when it shall fully appear how pure and holy he is in his Anger for Sin, how just and dreadful in punishing Sinners? It may be the indulgent Sinner may lessen his [Page 513] fear of Hell, by fancying the number of Sufferers will asswage the sense of their Misery. But this is a foolish Mistake; For the number of Sufferers shall be so far from affording any relief, that the Misery is aggravated by the Company and Communication of the Miserable. Every one is surrounded with Sor­rows, and by the sights of Wo about him, feels the universal Grief. The weeping and wailing, the cries and dolorous expressions of all the Damned, increases the torment and vexation of every one. As when the Wind con­spires with the Flame; 'tis more fierce and spreading.

3. The Concomitant of Sorrow will be Fury and Rage against themselves, as the true causes of their Misery. For God will make such a discovery of his righteous Judgment, that not only the Saints shall glorify his Justice in the condemnation of the Wicked, but they shall be so convinc'd of it, as not to be able to charge their Judg with any de­fect of Mercy, or excess of Rigour in his proceedings against them. As the Man in the Parable of the Marriage-Feast, when taxt for his presumptuous intrusion without a Wedding-Garment, [Page 514] How camest thou in hither? was speech­less: so they will find no plea for their Justification and Defence, but must re­ceive the eternal Doom with Silence and Confusion. Then Conscience shall revive the bitter remembrance of all the methods of divine Mercy for their Sal­vation, that were ineffectual by their Contempt and Obstinacy. All the com­passionate Calls by his Word, with the holy Motions of the Spirit, were like the sowing of Seed in the Stony Ground, that took no root, and never came to perfection. All his terrible Threatnings were but as Thunder to the Deaf, or Lightning to the Blind, that little affects them: the bounty of his Providence design'd to lead them to Repentance, had the same effect, as the Showers of Hea­ven upon Briars and Thorns that makes them grow the faster. And that a Mer­cy so ready to pardon, did not produce in them a correspondent affection of grateful obedient Love, but by the most unworthy provocations they pluck'd down the Vengeance due to obstinate Rebels, will so enrage the Damned a­gainst themselves, that they will be less miserable by the Misery they suffer, than by the conviction of their torn Minds, [Page 515] that they were the sole Causes of it. What Repentings will be kindled within them, for the stupid neglect of the great Salvation so dearly purchased, and ear­nestly offered to them? What a fiery addition to their Torment, that when God was so willing to save them, they were so wilful to be Damned. They will never forgive themselves, that for the short and mean Pleasures of Sense, which if enjoyed a thousand years, can­not recompence the loss of Heaven, nor requite the pains of Hell for an Hour, they must be deprived of the one, and suffer the other for ever.

4. The Sorrow and Rage will be increased by Despair: for when the wretched Sinner sees the Evil is peremp­tory, and no Outlet of Hope, he aban­dons himself to the violence of Sorrow, and by cruel Thoughts wounds the Heart more, than the fiercest Furies in Hell can. This Misery that flows from despair shall be more fully opened un­der the distinct consideration of the Eternity of Hell. Briefly, as the Bles­sed are in Heaven, and Heaven is in them, by those holy and joyful Affe­ctions that are always exercised in the Divine Presence, so the Damned are in [Page 516] Hell, and Hell is in them by those fierce and miserable Passions that continually prey upon them.

2. The Eternity of their Misery makes it above all other Considerations intollerable. Our Saviour repeats it thrice in the space of a few Verses, to terrify those who spare some favourite Corruption, that in Hell their Worm dies not, and the Fire is never quenched. God will never reverse his Sentence, and they shall never change their State. How willingly would carnal Men raze the Word Eternal out of the Scriptures, but to their grief they find it joined with the Felicity of Heaven, and the Torments of Hell. The second Death has all the terrible qualities of the first, but not the ease and end it brings to Misery. All the Tears of those forlorn Wretches, shall never quench one spark of the Fire. Where are the delicious Fare, the Musick, the Purple, and all the carnal Delights of the rich Man? they are all changed into a contrary state of Misery, and that state is fixt for ever. From his vanishing Paradise he descended into an everlasting Hell. In this the Vengeance of God is infinitely more heavy than the most terrible exe­cution [Page 517] from Men. Human Justice and Power can inflict but one Death (that will be soon dispatcht) upon a Malefa­ctor worthy to suffer a hundred Deaths; if he be condemned to the Fire, they cannot make him live and die together, to burn and not be consumed: But God will so far support the Damned in their Torments, that they shall always have Strength to feel, though no Strength to endure them. Those extream Torments which would extinguish the present Life in a Moment, shall be suffered for ever. This Consideration infinitely aggravates the Misery. For the lost Soul rackt with the fearful Contem­plation of what it must suffer for ever, feels as it were at once all the Evils that shall torment it in its whole duration. The perpetuity of the Misery is always felt by prevision. This is as the cruel breaking of the Bones upon the Wheel, when the Soul is tormented by the fore­sight of Misery that without allays shall continue in the circulation of Eternal Ages. To make this more sensible, let us consider, that Pain makes the Mind observant of the passing of the hours. In Pleasures, Time with a quick and silent motion insensibly slides away: but [Page 518] in Troubles the Hours are tedious; in violent Pains we reckon the Minutes as long. 'Tis observable how passio­nately the afflicted Psalmist complains, Will the Lord cast off for ever? Psal. 77.7. Will he be favourable no more? Doth his Pro­mise fail for evermore? Hath he for­gotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender Mercies? In what va­rious pathetick Forms does he express the same Affection? Though he had assurance that the gracious God would not be always severe, yet his Anguish forc'd from him Complaints, as if the moment of his Trouble were an Eter­nity. But what strains of Sorrow are among the Damned, who besides the present sense of their Misery, have al­ways in their Thoughts the vast Eter­nity wherein they must suffer it?

When three terrible Evils were pro­pounded to David's choice, pining Fa­mine for three Years, or bloody War for three Months, or devouring Pesti­lence for three Days, he chose the shortest, though in it self the heaviest Evil.

Many sad Days must pass under the other Judgments, where Death by an­ticipation in such variety of Shapes [Page 519] would be presented to the Mind, that the lingring expectation of it would afflict more than the sudden stroke: whereas the fury of the Pestilence would be soon over. But the Damned have not this relief, but shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. How ear­nestly do they seek for Death, but cannot find it? What a Favour would they esteem it to be annihilated? For cer­tainly, if when the Evils in the present State are so multiplied, that no Com­fort is left, or so violent that the afflict­ed Person cannot enjoy them, and re­fresh his sorrowful Spirit, Death is cho­sen rather than Life; it cannot be ima­gined that in the future State, where the Misery is extream, and nothing remains to allay it, that the Damned should be in love with the unhappy good of sim­ple being, and not chuse an absolute ex­tinction if it might be.

If any one should be so foolish to think that Custom will render that State more tolerable, he will find a terrible confutation of his vain Fancy. In­deed, continuance under light Evils, may arm the Mind with patience to bear them, but in great Extremities it makes the Evil more ponderous and [Page 520] intolerable. He that is tortured with the Stone, or on the Rack, the longer the Torture continues, the less able he is to sustain it. In short, as the Joy of Heaven is infinitely more ravishing, that the Blessed are without fear of losing of it; so the Misery of Hell is proportionably tormenting, that the Damned are absolutely destitute of hopes of a release. O 'tis a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, who lives for ever, and will pu­nish for ever incorrigible Sinners!

There are some who strongly fancy, 'tis not consistent with Divine Justice, to inflict an eternal Punishment for temporary Sins. Therefore they soften the Sentence, by interpreting the Words of Christ, These shall go into everlasting Punishment, of the annihi­lation of impenitent Sinners; that is, they shall be for ever deprived of Hea­ven, but not suffer Torments for ever.

To this there is a clear Answer: 1. The direct opposition between ever­lasting Punishment, and everlasting Life, in the words of Christ, is a convincing Argument they are to be understood in [Page 521] the same extent for an absolute Eterni­ty. And the words in the Revelation are so express, that they admit no mol­lifying Interpretation, They are tor­mented Day and Night, for ever and ever: Which necessarily infer, the tormented have Life and Sense for ever. Now that in Scripture 'tis evident, that God hath decreed and denounced eternal Punishment to obstinate Sin­ners, is sufficient to satisfy all Enqui­ries about the Justice of it: for Divine Justice is the correspondence of God's Will and Actions, with the Perfecti­ons of his Holy Nature. From hence we may infer with invincible Evi­dence, that whatever he pronounces in Judgment, and consequently inflicts, is most Righteous. The Truth is, we may as easily conceive there is no God, as that God is unjust; because absolute Rectitude is an inseparable Perfection of his Nature. Thus the Apostle with abhorrence rejects the Question,Rom. 3.5, 6. Is God Vnrighteous who taketh Vengeance? God forbid: for then how shall God judg the World? That were to deny him to be God, who is the Creator, and King, and Judg of the World. 'Tis a full Reply to all the pittiful Shifts that are [Page 522] made use of to elude the plain mean­ing of the eternal Judgment that will pass upon the Wicked; Shall mortal Man be more just than God? Job 4.17. shall a Man be more pure than his Maker? The Reprobates have now some bold Advo­cates, that plead those things for fa­vour to them, which they will not dare to plead for themselves at the last Day. The Holy Judg will then cut off all their Excuses, and reduce them to a defenceless silence, before he cuts them off. God will be justified in his Sentence, and overcome when he is judgeth.

The Righteousness of the Proceed­ings at the last Day, in determining the Wicked to a state of everlasting Torments, has been consider'd in the Discourse of Judgment, and will far­ther appear by the following Conside­rations.

1. The Wisdom of God requires, that the Punishment threatned in his Law, as it must be so firmly decreed, that all obstinate Rebels shall of ne­cessity undergo it, so it must incompa­rably exceed all temporal Evils, to which Men may be exposed for their Obedience to the Divine Commands, [Page 523] otherwise the Threatning would not be an effectual restraint from Sin: For the propinquity of an Evil makes a strong impression upon the Mind, and a present Fear makes a Person sollici­tous to avoid the incursion of what is ready to seize on him, without fore­casting to prevent an Evil look'd on at a distance. Therefore that the Sancti­on of the Divine Law may preserve the Precepts Inviolable, that there may be a continual reverence of it, and a fixed resolution in the Hearts of Men not to transgress, the Penalty threat­ned must be in its own Nature so ter­rible, that the fear of it may conquer the apprehension of all present Evils that can be inflicted to constrain us to sin. Therefore our Saviour warns his Disciples, Fear not them that can kill the Body, (make that part die that is mortal) but fear him that after he has killed, has power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him. Now if the threatning of an everlasting Hell, through Infidelity and Inconside­ration, be not effectual in the Minds of Men to restrain them from Sin, if temporary Torments in the next State were only threatned, which are infi­nitely [Page 524] more easy and tolerable, carnal Sinners would follow the swinge of their corrupt Appetites, and commit Iniquity with greediness; this would seem to reflect upon the Wisdom of the Lawgiver, as if he were defective in not binding his Subjects firmly to their Duty, and the Ends of Government would not be obtain'd.

2. God, as the Sovereign Ruler of the World, has establish'd an insepa­rable Connexion between the Choice and Actions of Men here, and their future Condition for ever. The pro­mised Reward of Obedience is so ex­cellent and eternal, that all the Allure­ments of the World vanish in compa­rison with it: and there is such an in­fallible Assurance of this Reward in the Word of God, that all, and only those who sincerely obey his Com­mands, shall enjoy it in the future State; that a serious Believer who pon­ders things, cannot be diverted from his Duty by present Temptations. Be­sides, by a Chain of Consequences, sinful Pleasures are linked with eternal punishment threatned in the Divine Law; and he that will enjoy forbid­den Pleasures, binds himself to suffer [Page 525] all the Pains annexed to them. Now when God has, from his excellent Goodness and undeserved Mercy, as­sured Men of the Glory and Joys of Heaven that are unspeakable and eter­nal, upon the gracious Terms of the Gospel; and, upon their despising it, threatned Eternal Misery, if Men obstinately neglect so great Salvation; how reasonable is it they should inhe­rit their own Choice? There is no middle State in the next World, no to­lerable mediocrity, but two contrary States; yet alike in this, that the Hap­piness and Misery are equally Eternal: and 'tis just that all who neglect eter­nal Life, should suffer eternal Death: for 'tis the natural and necessary Con­sequence of their Option: Therefore Sinners are charged with extream madness to wrong their own Souls, and to love Death. Prov. 8.36.

3. It will appear how unqualified the Damned are for the least favour, if we consider their continual hatred and Blasphemies of God. The Seeds of this are in wicked obstinate Sinners here, who are stiled haters of God; but in the Damned this enmity is direct and [Page 526] explicit, the Fever is heightned into a Frenzy, the blessed God is the Ob­ject of their Curses and eternal Aver­sation. Our Saviour tells us, that in Hell there is weeping and gnashing of Teeth; extream Sorrow, and extream Fury; Despair and Rage are the pro­per Passions of lost Souls. For when the guilty Sufferers are so weak, that they cannot by Patience endure their Torments, nor by Strength resist the Power that inflicts them, and are wicked and stubborn, they are irrita­ted by their Misery, and foam out Blas­phemies against the righteous Judg. If their Rage could extend to him, and their Power were equal to their De­sires, they would dethrone the most High. Hatred takes pleasure in Revenge, either real or imaginary: and although God is infinitely above the transports of their Fury, and all their rancorous Imprecati­ons are reflexively pernicious to themselves, like Arrows shot against the Sun, that fall down upon their Heads that shot them, yet they are always venting their Malice against the just Power that torments them. 'Tis said of the Worshippers of the [Page 527] Beast, that they gnawed their Tongues for Pain, Rev. 16.10, 11. and blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their Pains. The Torment and Blasphemies of those im­penitent Idolaters, are a true repre­sentation of the state of the Damned. From hence it appears they are the proper Objects of revenging Justice. How can we reasonably conceive, that God, in favour to the Reprobates, should cross the established order of Creation? For two Ranks of Beings were made, the Material, of perish­ing Principles, the Spiritual, of an immortal Duration: And will God withdraw his Conservative Power of the guilty Soul in its Immortality, and to put an end to its deserved Misery, and self-tormenting Reflections, anni­hilate it? If a Criminal were justly condemn'd to a severe Punishment, and should contumeliously and fiercely reproach the Prince, by whose Autho­rity he was condemn'd, could it be ex­pected there should be a mitigation of the Sentence? And is it a Thought consi­stent with the reasonable Mind, that the righteous Judg of the World, will re­verse or mitigate the Sentence against the Damned, who blaspheme his Majesty [Page 528] and Justice? and if they were as om­nipotent to effect, as they are malici­ous to desire, would destroy his Be­ing. 'Tis true, the Divine Threat­ning does not bind God to a rigorous execution of it upon Sinners: he has declar'd, if Sinners will turn from their evil ways, Jer. 26.3. he will repent of the Evil he purpos'd to do unto them: but when Threatnings are part of the Laws whereby Men are govern'd, it is con­gruous to the Wisdom and Justice of the Law-giver to execute them in their full force upon the obstinate Offenders, withal considering the inflicting of them is so far from working any in­genuous Change in those Rebels, that thereby they become more fierce and obdurate.

Lastly, the immense Guilt that ad­heres to Sin, requires a proportion in the Punishment. 'Tis a rule in all Courts of Judicature, that the degrees of an Offence arise according to the degrees of Dignity of the Person of­fended: Now the Majesty of God is truly infinite, against whom Sin is committed; and consequently the Guilt of Sin exceeds our boundless Thoughts. This is the reason of the [Page 529] Sentence, Cursed is every one that conti­nueth not in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them. The Curse threatned, includes the first and the second Death. What a dis­honour is it to the God of Glory, that proud Dust should fly in his Face, and controul his Authority? What a pro­vocation, that the reasonable Crea­ture, that is naturally and necessarily a Subject, should despise the Divine Law and Lawgiver? Though car­nal Minds elevate the Guilt of Sin, yet weighed in the Scales of the San­ctuary, 'tis found so heavy, that no Punishment inflicted on Sinners, ex­ceeds, either in the degrees or dura­tion, the desert of Sin.

God's Justice is not satisfied in de­priving them of Heaven, but inflicts the most heavy Punishment upon Sense and Conscience in the Damned: For as the Soul and Body in their State of Union in this Life were both guilty, the one as the Guide, the other as the Instrument of Sin; so 'tis equal, when reunited, they should feel the penal Effects of it. Sinners shall then be tormented wherein they were most delighted; they shall be invested with [Page 530] those Objects, that will cause the most dolorous perceptions in their sensitive Faculties. The Lake of Fire and Brim­stone, the blackness of darkness for ever, are words of a terrible signification. But no words can fully express the ter­rible Ingredients of their Misery: The Punishment will be in proportion to the Glory of God's Majesty that is provoked, and the extent of his Power. And as the Soul was the principal, and the Body but an Accessary in the Works of Sin; so its capacious Facul­ties shall be far more tormented than the limited Faculties of the outward Senses. The fiery Attributes of God shall be transmitted through the Glass of Conscience, and concenter'd upon damned Spirits: The Fire without is not so tormenting as the Fire within them. How will the tormenting Pas­sions be inflam'd? What Rancour, Re­luctance, and Rage, against the just Power that sentenc'd them to Hell? What impatience and indignation a­gainst themselves for their wilful Sins, the just cause of it? How will they curse their Creation, and wish their utter extinction, as the final Remedy of their Misery? But all their ardent [Page 531] Wishes are in vain; for the Guilt of Sin will never be expiated, nor God so far reconcil'd as to annihilate them. As long as there is Justice in Heaven, or Fire in Hell, as long as God and Eternity shall continue, they must suf­fer those Torments, which the strength and patience of an Angel cannot bear one hour.

I shall now draw some practical In­ferences, and conclude this Sub­ject.

1. From the Revelation in Scripture of the dreadful Punishment prepared for unreformed Sinners in the next State, we may understand the tender Mercies of God to Men; how wil­ling he is they should be saved, who are so wilful to be damned. Hell is re­presented to them by the most violent Figures, to terrify their Imaginations, and strongly affect their Minds, that they may flee from the Wrath to come. God counsels, commands, intreats, urges Sinners to be wise, to foresee and prevent the Evil that every Hour is approaching to them: and with Com­passion and Indignation laments their [Page 532] Misery, and reproaches their Folly in bringing it upon themselves. The Divine Mercy is as eminently and ap­parently declar'd to Men in the present corrupt State, in threatning Hell to ex­cite their Fear, as in promising Hea­ven to allure their Hopes. For if car­nal indulgent Sinners are not roused by a quick apprehension of Hell, they will securely enjoy their pernicious Plea­sures, and despise the blessed Reward, and Heaven would be as empty of hu­mane Souls as 'tis full of Glory.

(1.) Because they are more capable to conceive of the Torments of Hell, than the Joys of Heaven. Storms and Darkness are more easily drawn by a Pencil, than a clear calm Day. Fire mix'd with Brimstone, is very painful to Sense; and the Fancy strongly re­presents its Vehemence in tormenting the Body: And what Misery the un­cessant remorse of the guilty Consci­ence will cause in the Damned here­after, is in part understood by the se­cret Accusations and Twinges of Con­science in self-condemning Sinners here. But they are absolutely stran­gers to the Joys of the Holy Ghost, to the Delights of the Soul in communion [Page 533] with God, and to Peace of Conscience in his favour. They cannot without experience, know how good the Lord is, no more than see a taste. To discourse to them of spiritual Pleasures that flow from the Divine Presence, of the Hap­piness of the Saints that are before the Throne of God, and serve him in his Temple, is to speak with the Tongue of an Angel Si frigido loquar nescit quod loquor. Aug. unintelligible things. Their Minds and Language are con­fin'd to sensible things. The natural Man receives not the things of the Spi­rit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discern'd. There may be in the carnal Mind a conception of Heaven as a Sanctuary wherein they may be secured from the Wrath of God, and some smothering confused thoughts of its Felicity, as the Idea of Light and Colours in one blind from his Birth; but only the pure in Heart can see God, as in the perfect Vision of Glo­ry hereafter, so in the imperfect re­flection of it here.

(2.) Carnal Men are more dis­posed to be wrought upon, by re­presenting the Torments of Hell, than the Joys of Heaven. For we can­not [Page 534] love but what is known, nor en­joy but what is loved. And as the purification of the Heart from vici­ous Affections, is an excellent means to clear the Mind; so the illustration of the Mind is very influential to warm the Heart. The true conception of Heaven in its amiable Excellencies would powerfully and sweetly ravish the Affections; and of this prepared Souls are only capable. But those who are sensual are without relish of spiritual Happiness, and are allur'd or terrified only with what is pleasant or painful to Flesh.

'Tis recorded as the unparallel'd Folly of Nero, Identidem di­ctitans, qua­lis artisex pe­reo! Suet. that when he was ready to cut his own Throat, to avoid the Fury of the multitude, he broke forth into great Expressions of Sorrow, what an excellent Artist he died. 'Twas not the loss of the Roman Em­pire that so much troubled him, as that so much skill in Musick died with him. He valued himself more as a Fidler, than an Emperor. Thus car­nal Men with a folly infinitely more prodigious, when Death is near, are not so much affected with the loss of the Crown of Glory, and the King­dom [Page 535] of Heaven, as with their present leaving this World and its Vanities. This makes Death intolerably bitter. Till the Love of God purifies the Heart, the fruition of his Presence is not e­steemed or desir'd. A Seraphim sent from the presence of God with a flaming Coal from the Altar, toucht the Lips of the Holy Prophet, and his Heart was presently melted into a com­pliance with the Divine Will. But if a rebel Angel, that burns with ano­ther fire than of Divine Love, were dispatch'd from Hell with a Coal from that Altar, where so many Victims are offer'd to Divine Justice as there are damned Souls, and touch'd obdu­rate Sinners, that they might have a lively sense what it is to burn for ever, it were the most congrous and effectu­al means to reclaim them; like stub­born Metals, they are only made pli­ant by the Fire. From what has been said, we may observe the heavenly Harmony between Mercy and Justice in God: he is the Father of Mercy, 'tis his natural Off-spring, his prima­ry Inclination to the Creature, and the threatning of Vengeance against Sinners, is a gracious design to con­strain [Page 536] them with humility and repent­ing Affections to seek his Favour. Briefly, his severity and flaming dis­pleasure never destroys Sinners, but to revenge the abuse of his neglected Be­nignity and Clemency.

2. This shews the woful depravati­on of the Minds and Wills of Men, that chuse Sin, when thinly painted over with Pleasure, notwithstanding the most dreadful and durable Tor­ments, the certain Consequences of it. Desperate folly! either they believe, or do not, the eternal Torment of Hell. If they do not, how prodigious is their impiety? If they do, 'tis more prodi­gious they dare indulge their vicious Affections. A wicked Believer is more monstrous and guilty than a wicked Infidel.

In some there is Atheism full of Fol­ly, or Folly full of Atheism, that they will not believe the prepared Plagues for the wicked in the next State, be­cause they have no sensible proof of them. Reason, assisted by Divine Re­velation, affords so clear an evidence of the future State, and the Rewards and Punishments in it, that if any sin­cerely apply themselves to consider [Page 537] things, he will receive the most af­fective conviction of them. 'Tis true, there is not sensible evidence; for God will try our Faith before he satisfies our Sight: partly, that we may ho­nour his Veracity, by yielding a firm assent to his Word before the actual accomplishment of what is promised or threatn'd; and partly that our Obe­dience may be voluntary and uncon­strain'd, that his Goodness may take its rise to reward us. But these presump­tuous Infidels live as if they had no Spirit, nothing of understanding in them: they are wholly under the Do­minion of sense, as if they were free and lawless, independant and unac­countable: as if the most high Go­vernour of the World were an in­feriour Being, without Power and Justice to vindicate the Honour of his despised Deity. They do not fear Hell, but are afraid they should be fearful of it. This is such a piece of folly, (but infinitely more woful) as that of the West-Indians, who at their first invasion by the Spaniards, were so terrified by their glittering Swords, that they presently fled, and very considerately resolved to hide [Page 538] themselves in the Day, and assault their Enemies in the Night. They were fearful to see their Danger, and rash to encounter it, and fighting in the dark, were kill'd in the dark. The threatnings of eternal Death are the brandishing of God's glittering Sword before he strikes; and sensual Infidels are afraid lest the belief of those terrible Truths should pierce in­to their Breasts; therefore are utterly averse from due considering their Dan­ger, and will not foresee what they shall certainly suffer. 'Tis in vain to offer Arguments to convince them; for they are as deaf as Adders to the wisest Instructions, till Sense extort an Acknowledgment from them. They have hardned their Hearts and Faces against all Reproofs, and by an open contempt of Scripture-Threatnings, are past reclaiming. They are now fearless of that Judgment, the thoughts where­of make the Devils tremble: but the time will shortly come, when the Word of the righteous God, which now they despise, shall irresistibly and immediately, like Lightning shot from Heaven, destroy them. There are many degrees of Sin, many steps in [Page 539] the descent to Hell, but the lowest and nearest the Gate of that infernal Prison, is the scornful derision of God's dreadful Preparations for the wicked.

Others in the Christian Church, who profess and presume they are true Believers, yet by living indul­gently in their pleasant or profita­ble Sins, discover their Faith is coun­terfeit, or such a superficial assent to the Truth of God's Word that is without efficacy, and will not avail them at the last. Unfeigned Faith of the Divine Threatnings, produces such a fear as would make Men cir­cumspect over their Hearts and Ways. The fear of a present destructive E­vil controuls the most eager Appetites. 'Tis recorded, that when the Army of Israel was in pursuit of the Phi­listines, Saul, to compleat his Victory, forbad, upon pain of Death, that a­ny should taste Food till the Sun was down. In the chace of their Ene­mies they pass through a Wood dropping with Honey; yet not­withstanding their Hunger and Faint­ness, and the easy provisions before them, no Man so much as tasted it: [Page 540] for the People feared the King's Oath. And did Men truly believe and fear the Law of God, threatning Hell for Sin, would they dare to commit it, though invited by pleasant Temp­tations? Nay, not only a strong Fear, but the mere suspicion of great Danger, will restrain the most vehement desires of Nature. What Person, though inflam'd with thirst, would drink a Glass of cool Liquor, if he suspected that deadly Poison were mix'd with it? And if Men were perswaded that Sin is attended with eternal Death, would they drink in Iniquity like Water? The Devils themselves are not able to conquer the fear of Judgment to come, they believe and tremble: Therefore when it is not active upon the Conscience, it is either because Men do not be­lieve it, or they fancy, that retain­ing their beloved Lusts, they may obtain an easy Absolution, and escape the Damnation of Hell, which the Eternal Judg has declar'd shall be the punishment of all that will not cut off the right Hand, and pluck out the right Eye, separate their dearest Cor­ruptions from them. Astonishing Per­verseness! [Page 541] How many will not discern nor censure that Folly in themselves, which they will condemn in others for extream Madness? If one riotously lavishes away his Estate, and for the short Pleasure of a few Years, be reduc'd with the Prodigal to extream Poverty, and to loathsom Imprison­ment all his Life after, would he not be esteem'd to have been besides him­self? Yet this is a very tolerable Case, in comparison of exposing the Soul to Eternal Vengeance, for the Pleasures of Sin that are but for a Season.

3. Let us stedfastly believe, and frequently consider, that Eternal Death is the Wages of Sin, that we may renounce it with the deepest Ab­horrence, and forsake it for ever. We are assured, from the Wisdom and Compassion of our Saviour, that 'tis a powerful Means to mortify the Inclination to sin, and to induce us to prevent and resist all Temp­tations. The subtile Tempter can­not present any Motives, that to a rectified Mind will make Sin eligi­ble. Let the Scales be even, and put into one all the Delights of [Page 542] the Senses, all the Pleasures and Ho­nours of the World, that are the Elements of Carnal Felicity, how light are they against the Heavenly Glory? Will the Gain of the World compensate the Loss of the Soul and Salvation for ever? If there were any possible comparison between de­luding transient Vanities, and the Happiness that is substantial and sa­tisfying for ever, the Choice would be more difficult, and the Mistake less culpable, but they vanish into no­thing in the Comparison. Accord­ing to the Judgment of Sense, would any one chuse the enjoyment of the most exquisite Pleasures for a Year, and afterwards be content to burn in a Furnace for a Day; much less to en­joy them for a Day, and to burn for a Year? What stupid Brutes are they, who for momentany Delights, incur the fiery Indignation of God for ever? Try but the Finger with the Flame of a Candle, you will soon discover your weakness. Will the remembrance of sen­sual Delights allay the Torments of the Damned? When Carnal Lusts are most inflamed, and Objects are present, Pain will extinguish all the Plea­sure [Page 543] of the Senses: And if actual Enjoyment cannot afford Delight when the Body is under a Disease, will the Reflections upon past Plea­sures in the Fancy and Memory, refresh the Damned in their extream Torments? No, the remembrance will infinitely increase their Anguish, that for such seeming and short Pleasures, they brought upon them­selves Misery intolerable, without Ease or End. O that Men would strip Sin of its disguises, and wash off its flattering Colours, and look into its odious Nature, and to the conse­quential Evils of it in the next World! O that they would consider they hang by slender Strings, (a little Breath that expires every Minute) over the bot­tomless Pit, and that within a little while nothing will remain of the Plea­sures of Sin, but the undying Worm, and the ever-living Flames! This would be a means to raise and pre­serve in them an invincible Resoluti­on and Reluctancy against all tempta­tions to sin and provoke God. But how hardly are Men induced to exercise their Minds on this terrible Object. They think least of Hell, who have most reason to consider it.

[Page 544]To this I must add, that the meer fear of Hell, and the judicial impres­sion upon Conscience from it, is not suffi­cient to convert Men to God. For that servile Affection, though it may stop a Temptation, and hinder the eruption of a Lust into the gross Act, yet does not renew the Nature, and make Men Holy and Heavenly. There may be a respective dislike of Sin, with a direct Affection to it. Besides, that Religi­on that is the meer Effect of Fear, will be according to the Nature of its Prin­ciple, with resistance and trouble, wa­vering and inconstant: for tormenting Fear is repugnant to the humane Na­ture, and will be expelled if possible. In short, the fear of Hell may be only a natural Affection, that recoils from what is painful to Sense. Therefore 'tis the great Design of the Gospel by the fear of Hell,Nisi timore incipiat homo Deum colere, non perveniet ad amorem. Aug. as a powerful Prepa­rative, to make way for the Love of God, who offers Pardon and Indempnity to all returning Sinners, and for the Hope of Heaven the blessed Reward promised to them. No Offers of Mer­cy will prevail to make Sinners to yield themselves, till they are storm'd by the Terrors of the Lord. But when the [Page 545] fear of Hell has made a Breach, Divine Grace enters and takes possession. As the Virtue of the Loadstone, when en­compass'd and arm'd with Iron, is in­creas'd, and draws a far greater weight than when 'tis naked and single; thus the Attractives of Heaven are more powerful to move the Hearts of Men, when enforced from the Terrors of Hell. Now the Love of God, and the Hope of Heaven, are spiritual Affecti­ons; and the Obedience that flows from them is voluntary from the intire consent of the Soul, and persevering.

Lastly, From the consideration of the Pu­nishment determin'd for Sin, we may under­stand how dear our Engagements are to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Rector and Judg of the World would not release the Guilty without a Ransom, nor the Surety without Satisfaction; and the Son of God most wil­lingly and compassionately gave his precious Blood the Price of our Redemption. He ob­tain'd the Spirit of Holiness, to illuminate our Minds, to incline our Wills, to sanctify our Affections, without whose Omnipotent Grace, neither the Hopes or Fears of things Spiritual and Future, would ever have clean­sed and changed our Hearts and Lives. We are naturally as senseless as the Dead, as to what concerns our everlasting Peace, blind and brutish, and without fear; should plunge [Page 546] our selves into Destruction, if the Spirit of Power, and of a sound Mind, did not quicken us and direct us in the way to everlasting Life. O that we might feel our dear Obli­gations to him who has delivered us from the Wrath to come, and purchast for us a Felicity perfect, and without end! I would not les­sen and disparage one Divine Work, to ad­vance and extol another; but 'tis a Truth that shines with its own Light, and is de­clar'd by our Saviour, that our Redemption from Hell to Heaven, is a more excellent Be­nefit than our Creation; in as much as our Well-being is better than our Being; and eternal Misery is infinitely worse than mere not being. Our Saviour speaks of Judas, It had been better for him if he had never been born. How engaging is the Love of Christ, who rais'd us from the Bottom of Hell to the Bosom of God, the Seat of Happiness! If his Perfections were not most amiable and attractive, yet that he died for us, should make him the Object of our most ardent Affections. To those who believe he is precious; to those who have felt their undone Conditi­on, and that by his Merits and Mediation, are restor'd to the Favour of God, that are freed from tormenting Fears, and revived with the sweetest Hopes, he is and will be eminently and eternally precious. Blessing, and Honour, and Glory, and Power, be to Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.

FINIS.

Books writ by William Bates, D. D. and sold by B. Aylmer.

  • THE Harmony of the Divine Attributes, in the Contrivance and Accomplishment of Man's Redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ: Or Discourses, wherein is shewed, how the Wisdom, Mercy, Justice, Holi­ness, Power, and Truth of God are glori­fied in that great and blessed Work. In Octavo.
  • Considerations of the Existence of God, and of the Immortality of the Soul, with the Recompences of the Future State. To which is now added, The Divinity of the Christian Religion, proved by the Evidence of Reason, and Divine Revelation: for the Cure of Infidelity the Hectick Evil of the Times. In Octavo.
  • The Soveraign and Final Happiness of Man, with the effectual Means to obtain it. Also the Joys of Heaven, and Torments of Hell are discoursed of. In Octavo.
  • Several Sermons upon Death, and Eternal Judgment. In Octavo.
  • The Four Last Things, Death and Judg­ment, Heaven and Hell, practically consi­dered and applied, in several Discourses. In Octavo.
  • The Danger of Prosperity discovered, in several Sermons upon Prov. 1.17. In Octavo.
  • [Page]The great Duty of Resignation in Times of Affliction, &c. In Octavo.
  • A Funeral Sermon preached upon the Death of the Reverend and Excellent Di­vine, Dr. Thomas Manton, who deceased October 18, 1677. To which is now added, the last publick Sermon Dr. Manton preached. In Octavo.
  • The Sure Trial of Uprightness, opened in several Sermons upon Psal. 18. v. 23. In Octavo.
  • A Description of the Blessed Place and State of the Saints above, in a Discourse on John 14.2. Preached at the Funeral of Mr. Clarkson.
  • The Way to the highest Honour, on John 12.26. Preached at the Funeral of Dr. Jacomb.
  • The speedy Coming of Christ to Judg­ment, on Rev. 22.12. Preached at the Fune­ral of Mr. Benj. Ashurst.

ADVERTISEMENT.

NEwly printed, The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New: With Annotations and Parallel Scriptures. To which is annex'd, The Har­mony of the Gospels: As also, The Reduction of the Jewish Weights, Coins and Measures, to our English Standards. And a Table of the Promises in Scripture. By Samuel Clark Minister of the Gospel. Printed in Folio of a very fair Letter; the like never before in one Volume. Printed for Brabazon Aylmer in Cornhill.

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