IMPRIMATUR,

G. Royse, R. R. in Christo Patri, ac Dom. Dom. Io­hanni Archiep. Cantuar. à Sacris Domest.
Iuly 28th, 1691.

A Practical Discourse CONCERNING A Future Judgment.

By WILLIAM SHERLOCK, D. D. Dean of St. Paul's, Master of the Temple, and Chaplain in Ordinary to Their Majesties.

LONDON: Printed for W. Rogers, at the Sun over-against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet-street, 1692.

TO THE QUEEN'S MOST EXCELLENT MAjESTY.

May it please Your Majesty,

TO accept of this Trea­tise, a small Part of which being Preach­ed in Your Royal Chappel, Your Majesty was pleased to Excuse the Printing of it then, that it might wait for the Publi­cation of the Whole, which Your Majesty was given to under­stand I intended: which I now [Page] humbly Present to Your Sacred Majesty, rejoycing that I have so good an Occasion of Acknow­ledging Your Great and Vnde­served Favours to me, and of professing, with all the Sincerity that the Subject of this Treatise requires, that I am

Your MAjESTY'S Most Humble and most Obedient Subject and Servant, William Sherlock.

The CONTENTS.

THE Introduction: containing a Distribution of the Work.
Page 1

CHAP. I.

The Proof of a Future Iudgment
3
Sect. I. That Man is by Nature an Accountable Creature
5
Sect. II. The Essential Differences between Good and Evil, and the Natural Notions we have of God, prove a Future Iudgment
19
Sect. III. The External Appearances of Providence prove a Future Iudgment.
34
Sect. IV. The Natural Presages of Conscience prove a Future Iudgment; and if there be a Future State, there must be a Future Iudgment
89
Sect. V. The Scripture Proof of a Future Iudge­ment
106
Sect. VI. The Improvement of this Doctrine in some particular Inferences; as, 1. To live as it becomes those, who shall certainly be judged. 2. To keep our Eye upon a Future Iudgment for the Government of our Lives.
123
Sect. VII. Third Inference: To refer all Iudge­ment to God
144
Sect. VIII. Fourth Inference: To refer all Difficul­ties to the Day of Iudgment
168
Sect. IX. Fifth Inference: To affect our Souls with a strong, and vigorous, and constant Sence of Iudgment
189

CHAP. II.

Concerning the Time of Iudgment
208
Sect. I. Concerning a Particular Iudgment at the time of every Man's Death
ibid.
Sect. II. That the Day of Iudgment is appoint­ed
233
Sect. III. The Day God has appointed, is a Gene­ral Day of Iudgment
255
Sect. IV. The Day of Iudgment is at the End of the World
278

CHAP. III.

Who shall be our Iudge, viz. The Man Christ Ie­sus
300

CHAP. IV.

The Manner and Circumstances of Christ's Appear­ing, and the Awful So [...]emnities of Iudgment
336

CHAP. V.

Who are to be judged, viz. The World, or all Man­kind
360

CHAP. VI.

For what we shall be judged
403

CHAP. VII.

Concerning the Righteousness of the Future Iudge­ment, and the Rule whereby we shall be judg­ed
439

Conclusion.

How to know, what our Sentence will be at the last Iudgment: with an Exhortation to Reve­rence our own Consciences.
521

ERRATA.

PAge 154. l. 28. for froward r. forward. p. 240. l. 18. r. that this is. p. 279. l. 5. f. shall r. should. p. 369. l. 26. f. Pe [...]sions r. Persons. p. 496. l. 30. f. undue to r. due unto.

A Practical Discourse CONCERNING A Future Judgment.

xvii ACTS xxxi.

Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righ­teousness, by that man whom he hath or­dained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

The INTRODUCTION.

HAVING in a former Treatise dis­cours'd largely concerning Death, the next thing to be considered is Judgment: for so the Apostle tells us, [Page 2] After death the judgment. 9 Heb. 27. And a very grave and serious Thought it is, if ever Men will be serious; for nothing can be of greater concernment to us than a Fu­ture Judgment, which will determine our final state and condition to Eternity.

In treating on this Subject, I shall ob­serve this Method:

  • 1. Inquire what Assurance we have of a Future Judgment.
  • 2. The Time when this Judgment shall be: God hath appointed a day for it.
  • 3. Who shall be our Judge: God will judge the world, but not immediately by himself, but by that a man whom he hath or­dained; that is, by Christ Jesus, who is a Man, and the Son of Man, as well as the eternal Son of God.
  • 4. The publick and awful Solemnities of Judgment.
  • 5. The Persons who shall be judged, The world, or all Mankind.
  • 6. For what we shall be judged, what­ever we have done in this body, whether it be good or bad.
  • 7. The Rule whereby we shall be judg­ed, and the Righteousness of the Judge­ment.

CHAP. I. The Proof of a Future Iudgment.

IN treating of Death, there was no need to prove, That all Men must die, for this is too visible to be denied; but Judg­ment is not seen, nor can it be seen, be­cause it is not yet: Could Men indeed look into the other World, they would soon be convinced, by the different state of good and bad Men there, that God has appointed a Day for Judgment: but that is an invisible State to us, and the Thoughts of Judgment are so uneasie to bad Men now, that they are very unwilling to be­lieve it: and this makes it necessary to lay the Foundation of all in the Proof of a Future Judgment.

Now there are two ways of proving this: First, By the Principles of Reason. Secondly, By Revelation. By Reason we can prove, that God will judge the World, as that signifies that God will call all Men to an account for their Actions, and that he will reward good Men, and punish the Wicked in the next World. This the [Page 4] Heathens themselves discovered by the Light of Nature: they talked very much of the Internal Judges, and of the Re­wards and Punishments of good and bad Men after Death; and therefore in this sence did believe a Future Judgment: But yet the Revelation of the Gospel has gi­ven us a more plain and undeniable assu­rance of this, and has discovered some­thing more than the Light of Nature could discover: The Light of Nature and Reason may satisfie us as it did the Hea­thens, that God will reward good Men, and punish the wicked in the next World, but it could not tell us, that God had appointed a general Day of Judgment, wherein all the Dead shall rise again out of their Graves, and re-assume their Bo­dies, and be summoned to Judgment: it could not tell us who shall be our Judge, with what Glory and Majesty he shall appear, and with what Pomp, and awful and terrible Solemnities he shall judge us. The World knew nothing of this, before the Gospel was preached, for it depends wholly upon the will and pleasure of God, and therefore can be known only by Re­velation.

I shall begin with the Proofs from Rea­son, and shew you what Moral Evidence [Page 5] and Assurance we have, that God will judge the World, as that signifies, that he will reward good Men and punish the wicked in the next World; and this Proof consists of several Branches, and though each particular considered apart by itself, may not be thought sufficient; yet if we unite them into one, and take them in their natural order, they add such light and strength to each other, that I perswade myself, they will con­vince any Man of a Future Judgment, who is not obstinately resolved against this belief.

SECT. I. That Man is by nature an accountable Crea­ture.

FIrst then, I observe, That the very make and frame and condition of Humane Nature proves that Man is an accountable Creature, who can give an account of his Actions, and therfore may be called to an account for them; and that is a strong Presumption, that he will be called to an account; that is, that he will be judged. There are four things necessary to make any Being accounta­ble: 1. That he have a Principle of Rea­son [Page 6] to know what he does, and to judge for himself. 2. That he have a Rule to live by, to direct him what to do, and what to avoid. 3. That he have liberty of Choice, and the free government of his own Actions. 4. That he be an inferior and subordinate Creature, who has some a­bove him to call him to an account.

I. As for the first, we know a Beast, which is governed by Instinc [...] not by Rea­son, can't be judged, because such brute Creatures know not what they do; and therefore can give no account what they do; which is the case also of Infants, of Fools and mad Men, who must be govern­ed, that they may do no hurt, but can't be judg'd: but a reasonable Creature as Man is, who knows what he does, and can judge of his own actions, may be judged for them too▪

II. Where there is no Rule to live by, there is nothing to be judged for; when nothing is commanded, and nothing for­bid, all actions are alike indifferent; and in this case there is no other Rule but for every Man to please himself, and to do what he likes best, and he who does so, gives a good account of himself, and can­not be blamed for it; if there were no Rule of Good and Evil, there could be no [Page 7] place for Rewards and Punishments, and consequently no place for Judgment; but when we have a Rule to live by, as all Mankind have, either the Laws of Na­ture, or the revealed Will of God, we may do either good or evil, and may deserve either rewards or punishments, and then we may be judged too.

III. Whatever Being acts by Necessity or Fate, not by Choice, is no more capa­ble of being judged then the Winds and Seas are, or any other natural and neces­sary Causes; for where there is no choice, there is neither moral good nor evil: but Man is a free Agent, who not only knows the difference between good and evil, but can choose the good and refuse the evil, and therefore he is capable of praise or blame, of rewards or punishments, for the good or evil which he does; that is, he may be called to an account, and be judg­ed for what he does.

Especially, IV. if he be an inferior and subordinate Creature, who has a Superior to judge him; to judge indeed is an act of Superior authority and power, and there­fore those who have none above them, cannot be judged; but an Inferior is by the condition of his nature, or circum­stances of life, obnoxious to the judgment [Page 8] of his Superiors; for the very Notion of a Superior and Inferior signifies to govern and to be governed, to judge and to be judged. An Inferior is obnoxious to the judgment of his Superior, who may judge him if he pleases; and this is the condi­tion of all Mankind, if we believe that there is a God above us, who is our Na­tural Lord.

So that Man by his very nature and condition was made to be judged, which is a very good argument that he shall be judged, if we will but allow, that God will govern all Creatures according to their natures; which is essential to the wisdom and justice of his Goverment: As to take a particular Review of this matter:

1. If it be naturally decent and fit­ting, that a reasonable Creature should give a reason of his actions, why should we doubt, whether the wise Governor of the World, will require a reason of him, and call him to an account? Reason makes us capable of giving an account of our actions, and which is more than that, it makes us sensible, that we ought to give an account; our own minds exact an ac­count of us, and when we cannot give a good account to ourselves, we blush alone, [Page 9] when nobody sees us: nay, Reason makes us so liable to give an account, that it re­quires no Authority to ask it: it is what we owe to all Mankind, and the meanest Man may expect it from us, as well as our Judge; and when we cannot give a reasonable account of our actions, a Child or Beggar shall shame and confound us, whatever our Quality or Character be▪ And it would seem strange, if Reason should make us accountable to all the World, but only to God, who is the So­veraign Lord of all; that God should make us accountable to ourselves, and to all other reasonable Beings, but no [...] to himself.

2. If GOD have given Man a Rule of Life, and a natural Measure of Good and Evil, can it be thought that he will require no account of him, whether he keeps or breaks these Laws? for to what purpose then did he give 'em? how con­temptible are Laws without a Sanction, or a Sanction without a Judge to dispense Rewards and Punishments? to give La [...]s without taking notice how they are ob­served, or punishing the breach of them, is so very absurd, that no Humane Go­vernment was ever wholly guilty of such Folly; and why should we charge God [Page 10]with such Absurdities in Government, as would be ridiculous in Men? If we will but allow God as much wisdom and dis­cretion as an earthly Prince, we may cer­tainly conclude, that if he have given Laws to Men, he will judge them by those Laws.

3. There is no way of governing a free Agent as Man is, but by Hopes and Fears, by Rewards and Punishments, for Force and Violence is not the Govern­ment of a free Agent, because it destroys its Liberty; so that if God govern Man­kind at all, he must judge them, that is, he must reward or punish them according to the good or evil they do; and though this does not directly and immediately prove a Future Judgment, yet it is a fair step to­wards it, as will appear more heareafter: All that I desire to conclude from hence at present is only this, That if God go­vern Men like reasonable Creatures, he must judge them; and if we have as great assurance, that God will judge the World, as we have that he governs it, there is an end of this Dispute to Men who believe a God and a Providence.

Nay, indeed, we need onely suppose, that Man was made by a wise Being to prove, that he shall be judged; i. e. that [Page 11] he shall be rewarded or punished for all the good or evil that he does in the World; for a wise Being will take care to govern the Creatures which he makes, and to govern them in such a way as is a­greeable to the natures he has given them; and since Man, who is a free Agent, can be governed only by Hopes and Fears, God would never have made Man, had he not intended to judge him; that is, he would never have made such a Creature as can be governed only by the hope of rewards and by the fear of punishments, had he not resolved to lay these restraints upon him, to reward and punish him ac­cording to his works: how necessary re­wards and punishments are to the Go­vernment of Mankind we see in Humane Societies, which cannot subsist without them: notwithstanding the severest Laws and the severest Executions, every Age and every Country produces great Pro­digies of Wickedness, which no doubt would be much greater and more nume­rous, were there no Laws and Govern­ment to restrain them; and when the u­niversal experience of Mankind convinces the World of the necessity of Laws and Government, why should we think that the wise Maker of Man should not over-awe [Page 12] him also with a sence of his own Power and Justice, which is a more effectual re­straint than the Rods and Axes of Princes.

4. Thus if Man by the condition of his nature be an inferior depending Crea­ture, he i [...] by nature accountable to God, who is his Soveraign Lord; and this is a good argument that he must give an ac­count of himself to God: for there is no reason to think that God will not call Man to an account, when he has made him by nature accountable to himself; for the nature of things is the most certain Rule to know how God will govern them; at least the nature of things is a strong pre­sumption, unless there be plain and posi­tive evidence to the contrary. He who acknowledges, that Man is by nature an inferior Creature, who is ac [...]ountable to God for all his actions, must reasonably take it for granted, without any further proof, that God will judge him and call him to an account; for God has declared his intentions to judge him by making him such a Creature as is to be judged: and there is no pretence and shew of rea­son to say, that God will not take an ac­count of Man, whom he has by nature made an accountable Creature, unless we can produce a plain and express Revelati­on [Page 13] of God's Will, that he will not judge Mankind. No Man can prove by Rea­son, that God will not judge Mankind, for no reason can be good against the na­ture of things, and the nature of things do most reasonably prove a Judgment; and therefore we ought to take it for granted, that God will judge the World, till we see a plain Revelation, that he will not.

This is worth observing, because it puts the proof upon those who deny a Judge­ment, where in reason it ought to lie: for those who have the reason and nature of things on their side, have as good na­tural evidence as they can have, and need seek no farther; but those who will be­lieve contrary to the nature of things, ought to prove their exemption from the Laws and Condition of their Nature.

I desire you seriously to consider this, and to lay it to heart, for it is a very sensible Argument, and if well managed, will convince you how foolish and unrea­sonable all your hopes are of escaping the Judgment of God; unless you have some secret Revelation of this, which the rest of Mankind know nothing of: To repre­sent this as plainly and familliarly as I can, give me leave to ask you some few [Page 14] questions, or rather seriously ask your selves such questions as these:

Why do I hope that God will not judge me? am I not obnoxious to the Judgment of God? am I not his Creature, and is he not my Soveraign Lord? and is he not then my Judge? and why should I ex­pect that my Natural Lord and Judge will not judge me? Do not Parents judge their Children, and Masters their Servants, and Princes their Subjects, and all Superiors their Inferiors, and can I think that God alone, who is the Soveraign Lord of all, and from whom all inferior Power and Authority is derived, should not himself judge his Creatures? has God renounced his Authority, or is the exercise of it too troublesome to him? has he made us ac­countable Creatures, but to give no ac­count? has he made us in subjection to himself, to exercise no authority over us? We had better say, that God has made us all soveraign, independent, unaccountable Creatures, which is less absurd then to say, that God is our Soveraign Lord, but will not judge us, that is, will not exercise his Soveraign Authority.

All this seems to be self-evident, and to carry its own proof and conviction with it; and there is but one Evasion that I [Page 15] know of, by the help of which Men flat­ter themselves still into the Opinion, that God will not judge them, or at least, that it is not evident from the Light of Na­ture, that he will; and that is, that all this proves indeed, that God may judge us, if he please, but not that he will: we are his Creatures, and obnoxious to his Power and Justice, and this proves, that he may judge us if he please, but he is under no force, and therefore if he please also he may not judge us: and while this is possible, Men who love their sins, are apt to flatter themselves, that God will not judge them.

Now this is no Objection to us Chri­stians, who have a plain and express Re­velation of God's Will in this point, that he will judge the World, though it is an additional satisfaction to see, that the na­ture and reason of Things do so well a­gree with Revelation; but however, at present I shall set aside Revelation, and consider, whether what I have now dis­coursed, do not as well prove, that God will, as that he may judge the World.

Now to prove this, I will only suppose one Principle, which I will thank no Man to grant me, That what the reason and nature of Things proves ought to be done, [Page 16] that God will do; for though God is un­der no force and necessity, yet his own Nature is a Rule and Law to him; what ought to be done, every wise and good and just Being will do, and therefore God will certainly do it, who is infinite Wis­dom; and what the nature of Things re­quire to be done, that is the prescripti­on of his own Wisdom, for he made all things, and therefore by giving such na­tures to his Creatures, he has made a Law for himself, and sufficiently declared what he intends to do.

Now let any Man consider what I have already discoursed, and tell me, whether a reasonable Creature, who is a free A­gent, and under the power and authority of a Superior, who prescribes him the Laws and Rules of Action, ought not to be called to an account for his actions? whether a wise Father, or a wise Prince, would not do this? and whether it be not a great neglect and fault in the Superior, if it be not done? I'm sure all Mankind would think so; and then we must grant, that the state and condition of Humane Nature proves, that God not only may, but will judge the World; unless we can suppose, that he will be guilty of such a neglect, as would be thought a great fault among Men.

[Page 17]There are some things indeed, which we cannot know, that God will do, with­out a Revelation, such free and arbitrary acts of Goodness, as he had no way obli­ged himself too, nor had given any na­tural notice of, such as is the whole Oeco­nomy of Man's Salvation by Jesus Christ, but what either his own nature, or the nature of Things, which he has made, ex­acts from him, that we may be sure a wise and just and good Being will do.

For though God is under no force and constraint, yet he must, because he will, act agreeably to his own Nature, and the nature of Things; and we may as well say, that we are not sure, that God will do what is good, and just, and wise, be­cause he is under no force to do it, as that he will not judge Mankind; for to judge the World is as essential to the Soveraign­ty of God, as to do what is wise and good is to his Wisdom and Goodness: And it is as absurd to say, that God is the Sove­raign Lord of the World, but need not ex­ercise his Soveraign Authority in govern­ing or judging Mankind, as to say, that God is infinite Wisdom and Goodness, but need never do what is wise or good: such dormant and unactive Perfections are a contradiction to the very Notion of a God, [Page 18] whose Nature is a pure and simple Act, all Life and Energy; if he be good, he will do good, and if he be the Soveraign Lord and Judge of the World, he will go­vern and judge Mankind.

This is the first natural Evidence of a Future Judgment, taken from the Frame and Condition of Humane Nature, which I have insisted on much longer than I in­tended, for the more I think of it, the more plain and convincing it seems to be; for what imaginable reason is there to question, whether God will judge Man­kind▪ when he has made Man just such a Creature, as he must have made him, if he had intended to judge him; endowed him with Reason and Understanding, and liberty of Choice, given him Laws and Rules of Action, and made him in subje­ction to Himself, obnoxious to his own Power and Justice, which are plain na­tural Indications, that God does intend to call him to an account.

SECT. II. The essential Differences between Good and Evil, and the Natural Notions we have of GOD, prove a Future Iudgment.

II. THe essential Differences between Good and Evil, prove that Man­kind ought to be judged; and this is some­what more then that God has made Man such a Creature as is by nature account­able, and may be judged: just as much more as the difference is between may be and must be, for though as I observed be­fore, this may be does very strongly infer a will be; that is, that God having made Man an accountable Creature, is a reason­able Presumption, that he will judge him, and call him to an account; yet this is not so direct and immediate a Proof that God will judge Mankind, as it is to shew, that the essential difference of Good and Evil, makes it necessary, that Man should be judged, that he should be rewarded and punished according to his works.

I premise this to shew you, what a new advance this makes towards the proof of a Future Judgment, and now come to ex­plain the force of this Argument:

[Page 20]That there is an essential difference be­tween Good and Evil, (as unwilling as some Men are to own it) is demonstra­ble to every Man's sence and experience, which is a more undeniable Proof, then some Nice and Metaphysical Specula­tions; and that what is good ought to be rewarded, and what is evil ought to be punished, is acknowledged by the univer­sal consent and practise of Mankind; and I think the necessary and unavoidable con­sequence of this is, that good Men shall be rewarded, and the wicked punished; that is, that Mankind shall be judged ac­cording to their Works. This is in short the Argument, and if I can make good each part of it, I have no more to do, but to leave it to your serious considera­tion.

I. That there is an essential difference between Good and Evil; that is, that there are some things in their own na­tures very good for Men, and other things which are very hurtful to them: And will any Man deny this? This is the Good and Evil, which is in the nature of Things, and so immutably there, that all the Art and Power of the World, can never al­ter them without altering the nature of Things; cannot make that good which is [Page 21] hurtful, nor that hurtful which is good; which is all the Good and Evil which I know of: for whereas we distinguish be­tween Moral and Natural Good and Evil, the only difference between them is this, that Moral Good and Evil is in the Will and Choice, Natural Good and Evil is in the Nature of Things; that which is good or hurtful to ourselves or others, is natural­ly good or evil; to love, to choose, to do, that which is good or hurtful to ourselves or others, is morally good or evil, or is the good or evil of our Choice and Acti­ons.

If you will but recollect yourselves, you will all find, that you have no other Notion of Good or Evil but this: When you say, such a Man has done a very good, or a very evil action, what do you mean by it? do you not mean, that he has done something very good or very hurtful to himself or others? When you hear that any Man has done good or e­vil, is not the next question, What good or what hurt has he done? And do you not by this mean Natural Good or Evil? which is a plain evidence, that you judge of the Moral Good or Evil of Actions by the Natural Good or Evil which they do: and the essential difference between Mo­ral [Page 22] Good and Evil is founded on the es­sential difference between Natural Good and Evil, and therefore is as unalterable as the Nature of Things.

This is evident from that universal Rule of Justice and Goodness, Whatsoe­ver ye would that men should do unto you, do you that also unto them; which is an Appeal to our own sense and feeling for the good and evil of our Actions; which must therefore signifie the natural good and evil of them: We feel what is for our good or hurt; and we desire Men should do good to us, but that they should not hurt us; and therefore we must do good and no injury to them; and this is the sum of the Law and the Prophets: The universal Rule of Moral Justice and Goodness, which is to do that which is for the natural good of Man­kind, whatever our sense and experience tells us, is naturally good and beneficial to ourselves: which would be a very im­perfect Rule, if there were not an inse­parable connexion between Moral and Na­tural Good.

The not observing this is the true rea­son why some Men can form no Notion at all of Moral Good or Evil, but think Vertue and Vice to be meer arbitrary No­tions, [Page 23] which have no foundation in the Nature of Things, as indeed they can have none but only this, that Vertue is to love, and choose, and do that which has a natural good in it, which is good to ourselves or others; that Vice is to love, and choose, and do that which has some natural evil in it, or which is hurtful to ourselves or others; as for instance, Cha­rity which is one of the most excellent Vertues of the Christian Life, consists in doing every thing which is for the good of Men; in feeding the Hungry, clothing the Naked, relieving the Injured and Op­pressed, the Fatherless and the Widdow, in directing, advising, assisting, comfort­ing Men in difficulties and distress, in for­giving Injuries, concealing Faults, judging charitably, and in all such other acts of Goodness, as are greatly for the benefit of Mankind; whereas the contrary Vice does all the contrary Evils and Mischiefs to the great hurt and injury of Men; and whoever considers this, must confess, that Moral Good and Evil is as real a thing, as Natural Good and Evil is; and I suppose no Man, who has his senses about him, will deny, that there is such a thing as Na­tural Good and Evil; as for instance, Pain and Pleasure, and then his same senses will [Page 24] in abundance of instances tell him the essen­tial difference between Moral Good and E­vil.

On the other hand, the true and one­ly reason why Men so vastly differ in their Notions of Moral Good and Evil, is be­cause in many instances they are not a­greed, what Natural Good and Evil is: some Men call nothing good or evil, but what is good or evil to their Bodies, such as Pain and Pleasure, and the Causes and Instruments of them, Health and Sickness, Riches and Poverty, and the like; others think, and with much greater reason, that we should take our Souls into the account too; that whatever is for the ease and pleasure of our Minds, whatever adorns and perfects a reasonable Nature, is a Na­tural Good to Men, as Wisdom and Know­ledge, and regular and well-govern'd Ap­petites and Passions do; and therefore these are the foundation of Moral Vertues too; but whatever debases our Natures, and is a reproach to the reason and understand­ing of a Man, whatever thrusts him down into the rank of brute Creatures, and ei­ther disturbs his ease, or changes the plea­sures of a Man for those of a Beast, are great Natural Evils too, if the perfection and happiness of Humane Nature be a Na­tural [Page 25] Good; and therefore to choose and to act such things is morally evil.

This is enough to shew, what Moral Good and Evil is, that it has a necessary relation to Natural Good and Evil; and it were easie here to prove, were it not too long a Digression, that all the Laws of the Gospel do either command what is for the good and happiness of Mankind, of every private Man, and of publick Communities, or forbid such things as are hurtful and prejudicial to them; but my present Design will not suffer me to straggle so far out of the way.

II. The second branch of this Argu­ment is, That according to the [...]eneral sence of Mankind, what is good ou [...]ht to be rewarded, and what is wicked ought to be punished.

For the proof of this, I shall appeal in the first place to all Civilized Nations, who live under Laws and Government: for there is no such Nation but thinks fit to restrain Wickedness by a publick Venge­ance on those who commit it: indeed their Laws and Punishments are not al­ways the same, nor do they all punish the same Crimes, nor with the same Punish­ments; but all of them punish such Crimes as they think injurious to the Publick, [Page 26] which is the principal concernment of Ci­vil Government, and inflict such Penal­ties on them, as they judge proportioned to such Crimes, or sufficient to restrain the commission of them; some Capital, some Pecuniary Mulcts, Confiscation of Goods, loss of Honour, Corporal Punishments, Im­prisonment, Banishment, or some publick Marks of perpetual Infamy, which is a cer­tain argument, that the Wisdom of all Nations thinks it fit, that Wickedness should be punished, that those who do E­vil should suffer evil; and indeed all Man­kind is so sensible of this, that there is not a greater Reproach to any Govern­ment then the Impunity of Vice, nor a greater Glory to it than the strict and e­qual Administration of Justice.

Where publick Justice fails, as it does in a great many instances, we must next ap­peal to private Revenge, to understand what the sence of Mankind is about the desert of Sin; for there is not a more na­tural, nor more eager Passion in Humane Nature; all Men naturally desire to return the Injury they suffer upon the heads of those who do it, and account it no Injury, but a great act of Justice to do so. In many Nations some private Injuries have been left to private Revenge; and the [Page 27] Jewish Law itself permitted a Retaliation of Injuries, an Eye for an Eye, and a Tooth for a Tooth, though it did not per­mit the injured Person to take this Re­venge himself, but made the publick Ma­gistrate the Judge of it.

It may be you will wonder, I should appeal to the impatient thirst and appe­tite of Revenge, to prove the sence of Man­kind, that Sin ought to be punished, when private Revenge itself is a great Evil, and forbid by the Gospel of our Saviour; but for all that, Revenge is a natural Passion, and speaks the furious rage and language of Nature, that Sin ought to be punished. It is that Passion in us, which ministers to punitive Justice, as a natural tenderness and compassion does to Charity; and therefore the passion itself is not sinful, though the irregular exercise of it is: it is implanted in all Mankind, as the love of Justice is, but all Men must not exe­cute Revenge, no more than every Man can administer Justice: where every Man is a Minister of Justice, he may execute his Revenge too; that is, where there are no publick Laws and Government; but when we are incorporated into Civil Societies, private Revenge is superseded by publick Justice, and to revenge ourselves is an [Page 28] Offence against the State; but this pub­lick Justice is executing Revenge still, tho' without that partiality and passion which Men betray in their own cause: and tho' our Saviour forbids private Revenge, it is not because Sin does not deserve to be punished, but to teach us those great Chri­stian Vertues of Patience and Forgiveness, and loving Enemies, leaving Vengeance to God, who is the just Judge of the World, For vengeance is mine, I will repay it, saith the Lord: which supposes that Vengeance is due to Sin, though Christ requires his Disciples to leave it to pub­lick Magistrates, or to God who is the Judge of the World.

As for those Sins which are not so pro­perly the Objects either of publick or pri­vate Revenge, as doing no direct and im­mediate injury to any but those who com­mit them, such as Gluttony, Drunkenness, Prodigality, Sloth, Idleness, a vagrant, use­less, fantastical Life, and the like, besides some gentle Restraints which publick Laws lay on them, they have this punishment, that they make Men contemptible and in­famous, neglected and disregarded as a Reproach to Humane Nature, and useless Members of the Common-wealth; and such publick Infamy is a very great pun­ishment, [Page 29] for it is one of the worst Ingre­dients in all Publick Punishments.

This I think shews, what the sence of Mankind is about the desert of Sin, that Pun­ishment is its just due: and they have given very ample testimonies also to the merits of Vertue; for though there are no Laws to reward a private Vertue, as there are to punish Vice, yet publick Honours, by the consent of Mankind, are thought the just Rewards of an eminent Vertue: This has procured the favour of the People and advanced such deserving Men to the high­est places of Trust and Dignity in the Commonwealth; when such Men are ad­vanced, it is with a publick Applause, as due to them; no Man envies their Great­ness, or grudges to come behind them; whereas publick Honours are thought mis­placed on bad Men, and set so ill-favour­edly on them, as exposes them to publick Scorn and Envy. Let us then sum up this Argument, and consider the just Con­sequence of it: There is an essential diffe­rence between Vertue and Vice; and ac­cording to the sence of all Mankind, Ver­tue deserves to be rewarded, and Wicked­ness punished; and can we think then, that if God governs the World, he will not judge Mankind, that he will not re­ward [Page 30] the Good, and punish the Wicked? Has he implanted a Natural Principle of Revenge and Justice in Men, and taught them to erect publick Courts of Justice for the punishment of Vice, and will he not punish it himself? Has he given such a natural grace and beauty to Vertue, as attracts to itself the love, the praise, the admiration, the rewards of Men, and will he himself have no regard for it? Has he made Vice infamous and contemptible, and will he cast no shame, no reproach on it? Would not the very Order of Nature com­plain of this, should the God of Nature have no regard to it?

For we must observe, that according to the general sence of Mankind, Vertue and Vice deserve to be rewarded and pun­ished, not only by Men, but by God too; this is the foundation of that terrible Ob­jection against Providence, that good Men are many times great Sufferers in this World, and the wicked very prosperous; which supposes, that if God govern the World, he must punish bad Men, and re­ward the good, because the nature of Things require it, and he cannot be a just Governour if he do not; either Men ought never more to make this Objecti­on against Providence, or they must al­low, [Page 31] that if there be a God, he will judge the World. And indeed there is much more reason to expect this from God then from Men, especially since the Admini­stration of Justice among Men is so cor­rupt, imperfect, or defective, that neither Vertue nor Vice will ever have their just Rewards, unless he take it into his own hands. And this brings me to a third branch of this Argument for a Future Judgment:

III. That the Natural Notions we have of God prove, that he will judge the World. All Men who believe a God, ac­knowledge him to be the Soveraign Lord of all the World, infinitely wise, holy, good, and just; now it seems impossible to me, though we had no Revelation of his Will, what he would do, that such a Being as this should not judge the World. As to consider this matter particularly, but very briefly:

1. If he be the Soveraign Lord of the World, then he has Power and Authority to judge; nay, there is no other Being has Power and Authority to judge the World but himself; that if he will not judge the World, the World can never be judged. And yet as I have already pro­ved the essential differences of Good and [Page 32] Evil necessarily require that Man should be judged, that good Men should b [...] re­warded, and the wicked punished; and if there must be a Judgment, then God who is the Soveraign Lord, and the only Judge of the World, must judge Mankind: If Judgment be necessary, as the nature of Things prove, and as the general consent and unbyassed reason of Mankind agree it is, if we cannot hence conclude, that God will judge the World, I am sure we can never know any thing certainly of God by Reason, for there is nothing which Reason concludes more expresly and posi­tively than this.

2. As for the other Attributes and Per­fections of the Divine Nature, such as Wisdom, Holiness, Goodness, Justice, if God be the Soveraign Lord of the World, we must consider them as the Attributes of a Soveraign; it is the Wisdom, the Ho­liness, the Goodness, the Justice of a So­veraign Lord: and therefore the proper exercise of these Attributes in God con­sists in the exercise of a Soveraign Autho­rity and Power; that is, in governing and judging Mankind wisely, holily, with Goodness and Justice; and this certainly proves, that God as Soveraign Lord, does govern and judge the World, for he can­not [Page 33] exercise his Wisdom, or Holiness, or Goodness, or Justice as Soveraign, if he exercise no Acts of Soveraignty: He can­not judge wisely, holily, or righteously, if he do not judge at all; and therefore though he be wise, and holy, and j [...]st, and good, yet he is not a wise, and holy, and just, and good Soveraign, for as Soveraign he exercises none of these Attributes, if he does not judge the World, if he do not reward good Men, nor punish the wick­ed; which the Wisdom, the Holiness, the Goodness of a Soveraign requires. And therefore if the Natural Notion all Man­kind have of God, joyns his Soveraign­ty with his other Attributes, as it must do, unless we can divide God from him­self; that he is not only a wise, and holy, and just, and good Being, but that he is a wise, and holy, and just, and good So­veraign Lord of the World, we must con­fess that God does govern the World, and display all these Attributes and Perfecti­ons in the Government of it. I might add a great deal more upon this Argu­ment, but this is so very plain and demon­strative, that there is no need of it.

SECT. III. The External Appearances of Providence prove a Future Iudgment.

III. AS the Natural Notions we have of GOD proves that he will judge the World, so the External Appear­ances of Providence prove that God does judge the World at present, and that he will judge it hereafter: For the Provi­dence of God does very often make such a remarkable difference between good and bad Men in this World, as is sufficient to satisfie us, that God does govern and judge Mankind at present; and yet the present Administrations of Providence do not al­ways make a sufficient distinction between good and bad Men in this World, good Men being very often afflicted, and bad Men prospeaous, which gives us a reasonable expectation of a more just and righteous Tribunal in the World to come, where Rewards and Punishments shall be more equally dispensed.

But to discourse this more particular­ly; I observe that the external Appear­ances of Providence prove that God does govern and judge the World at present, as much as is necessary to the ends of [Page 35] Government in this World: I confess, did it appear that God took no care of the Government of the World at present, I should very much question, whether he would judge the World hereafter; but when there are plain and evident proofs that a wise and just Providence does go­vern the World, that God makes such a difference at present between good and bad Men, as the good Government of this World requires; this is a sufficient reason to expect a more exact, impartial, univer­sal Judgment of good and bad Men in the next World. To state this matter plain­ly, and to make a very sensible Argument of it, I shall 1. shew you, what evidence we have of a Divine Justice and Provi­dence which governs the World at pre­sent. 2. The Force of this Consequence, from the Providence of God in this World to a Judgment in the next.

I. What evidence we have of a Divine Justice and Providence, which governs the World; and I shall begin:

1. With that Divine Justice which is interwoven in the Nature of Things; for if God have no contrived the Nature of Things, that Wickedness is a punishment to itself, and wicked Men a Plague and [Page 36] Scourge to each other, it is a plain de­monstration, that when God made Man, he intended to govern him too, since he has annexed such natural Rewards of Pun­ishments to a vertuous or vicious Life: I am sure this is as good an Argument for a Providence, as the wise Contrivance of Things is for God's making the World. We think it very absurd to say, that the World was made by Chance, or without a wise Creator, when there is such admi­rable Art and Curiosity in the Make of the meanest Creature, as the wisest Philo­sophers are not able to understand, much less to imitate: And if all Humane Art and Philosophy cannot make a Flie, nor so much as understand the make of it, how can we possibly imagine, that such a World as this, which consists of such infi­nite variety of Creatures, and every Crea­ture made up of so many natural Won­ders, and all so admirably fitted to each other, as to make up an uniform, regular, and beautiful World, should own any o­ther Author, but an infinitely wise and perfect Being, who has all Power, and all possible Ideas of Usefulness and Beauty? that is to say, since there are such appa­rent Characters and Impressions of an ex­cellent and unsearchable Wisdom in the [Page 37] Frame of the World, a wise Being must be the Maker of it; and is it not as good an Argument, That if Humane Nature be so contrived, that Man, who is a free A­gent, shall be happy or miserable, as he is good or bad, that God made him to be governed, and therefore intended to go­vern him; nay, did more than intend it, for he contrived his Nature so, as to go­vern itself; for though he has made him a free Agent, yet he has left nothing at his liberty, but whether he will be happy or miserable; the one he must be, and he may indeed choose which he will: but there could not be a greater natural Re­straint upon a free Agent, than to make Happiness or Misery the reward of his Choice, especially since Nature teaches all Mankind to love themselves, and to be happy if they can.

That this is so, is so evident to our ve­ry Senses, that it is a good Subject to de­claim on, but needs no proof: What is there, that can make any Man miserable in this World, which is not the natural and necessary effect of some Sin or o­ther?

Will irregular and furious Passions make a Man miserable? a confounding Shame, distracting and terrifying Fears, raging [Page 38] Anger, Malice, Revenge, great Perplexity, Solicitude, Anxiety of Thoughts? if the pain and torment of Mind is Misery, these Passions must make Men miserable: Now all these are the passions of a sinful Mind, Sin is the Parent and the Nurse of them: a vertuous Man, who always takes care to do his Duty, and what becomes him, knows not what Shame means; if he be slandered, reproacht, and vilified, he may blush a little to be thought a bad Man, but his own Conscience does not reproach him; nothing is truly infamous but what is wicked; and therefore Shame can ne­ver disturb an innocent and vertuous Mind: Good Men may be afraid of some Temporal Evils and Calamities, but it is Sin which distracts Men with guilty Fears, which are so unsupportable to Humane Nature; nay, when our wordly Fears are excessive and tormenting, they are raised and aggravated by some Vice or other, either by too great a passion and fondness for this World, or a distrust of the Di­vine Providence and Protection; which is the true Cause also of that Thoughtful­ness, Anxiety, and Solicitude, which the love of Riches, and the fear of loosing such uncertain Treasures create: A ra­ging Anger, Malice, Revenge, is owing [Page 39] to Self-love, Pride, Covetuousness, Inju­stice, and such other Vices, as make Men injurious to each other, and impatient of Injuries. Man had been a Stranger to all these troublesome tormenting Pas­sions, had he continued Innocent; and whoever would enjoy Peace, and Con­tentment, and Satisfaction of Mind, quiet and easie and chearful Passions, must root out those Vices which make such a Fer­ment, and raise such unnatural Tempests in our Breasts.

Is Pain and Sickness, Poverty and Dis­grace, an Untimely or Infamous Death, a great punishment to Men? these would be the punishments of some kinds and degrees of Sin, though neither God nor Men should judge Sinners. Drunkenness, and Gluttony, and Lust will destroy our Health, and afflict us with tormenting Dis­eases, and shorten our Lives, and wast our Estates, and make us infamous: If you want a proof of this, go visit the Hospi­tals, and the Goals, see the miserable Spe­ctacles of Rottenness and Poverty there, and inquire into the causes of them, and how many Martyrs and Confessors there are to Intemperance and Lust, or some o­ther destructive Vice; inquire into the Decays of Noble and Flourishing Fami­lies, [Page 40] how goodly Lordships and Mannors come so often to change their Masters, what makes Riches such uncertain and mutable things; look into the Streets and see what Crowds of miserable and distres­sed People Sloth, and Idleness, and other Vices have sent thither. What loud Cla­mours should we have against the Justice of the Divine Providence, did men suffer half so much by Piety and Vertue, as they do in the service of their Lusts!

If Mens own Vices be not a sufficient punishment to them, we may consider in the next place, how bad Men punish one another: There are infinite instances of this even in well-governed Kingdoms, where the Vices of Men are restrained by publick Laws, and the severest Executi­ons of Justice; yet how many Outrages do they commit, Rapes, Murders, Thefts, Oppression, Injustice, and all sorts of Vio­lence! What work does Pride, and Cove­tuousness, and Lust make! especially when such Vices as these infect great Men, and are armed with Power to do Mischief; witness all the bloudy Wars of Aspiring and Ambitious Princes, attended with the Ruins and Desolations of flourishing Coun­tries, and all the Miseries and Calami­ties which the most frightful Fancy can [Page 41] conceive, or the most Poetick Wit de­s [...]ribe.

But then on the other hand, Vertue has its natural Rewards; it gives peace and satisfaction to the Mind, governs our Appetites and Passions, that they cause no pain or disturbance to us; it is the best means to preserve our Health, to encrease our Fortune, to procure Friends, to recon­cile Enemies, to give us Credit and Re­putation, to escape the Injuries of bad Men, and to pass through the World with as little Envy and Opposition and Justling as it is possible; that is, it is not of itself sufficient to make a good Man compleat­ly happy in this World, for there is no such thing to be had here; but it is the only thing that can make him as happy as he can be here; it will prevent a great many michiefs which other Men fall in­to, and enable him to bear those patient­ly, which it cannot prevent.

This is the first step of God's govern­ing Mankind, that natural Provision he has made for the punishment of Wicked­ness, and the rewards of Vertue; for I suppose all Men will grant, that this is God's own act; for none but He who made Man, could so fit and temper his Nature to the Laws of Vertue, as to [Page 42] make his Duty his natural Reward and Happiness, and his Sin his Punishment, this is admirable and stupendious Wisdom, and the most effectual means for the good government of the World, and which was necessary to make all other acts of Go­vernment successful: but this is so useful an Argument, that I cannot dismiss it without some farther Remarks and Ob­servations:

1. God has by this means taken care, that Vertue shall never be wholly unre­warded, nor Sin unpunished, for they are a reward and punishment to themselves: and such rewards and punishments as are founded in the Nature of Things, are un­avoidable.

2. This in ordinary cases supersedes the necessity of God's interposing by an immediate Providence to reward good Men and to punish the wicked: these na­tural rewards and punishments, when there is no occasion for more signal examples of God's Goodness and Justice, will serve for this World; for this reason indeed some Men conclude, that God takes no notice of Humane Affairs, because he does not always visibly interpose for the pun­ishment of Wickedness, and the defence and protection of vertuous Men; but God [Page 43] has made a standing provision for this in the Nature of Things, and that will serve the ordinary ends of Providence; and when he sees occasion for it, he can soon rectifie any great Disorders by a more immediate Hand; this is most agreeable to the wisdom and to the majesty of Pro­vidence: Thus God governs the Inani­mate World, the Heavens, and the Earth, and all the Creatures in it, by keeping this great Machine in that regular and u­niform Motion, which he at first gave it, and suffering all Creatures to follow the tendency of their own natures, excepting such cases as require some extraordinary and preter-natural events; as when God thinks fit to work Miracles for the Con­viction of Infidels, and to give Authority to his Prophets, or to punish a wicked World with Drought, or Famine, or Pe­stilence, to infect their Air, and to make the Earth Iron and the Heavens Brass: the less the Divine Providence deviates from the Nature of Things, while the World is well and wisely governed, the more ad­mirable is his Wisdom, who has so con­trived the World, that he can govern all Creatures by the Springs and Principles of their own Natures.

[Page 44]3. Thus these Natural Rewards and Pu­nishments give a sacred and venerable Authority to the Divine Laws; for this proves, that they are not Arbitrary Con­stitutions, which depend wholly upon the Will and Pleasure of God, who might if he had pleased have made Vertue Vice and Vice Vertue, as some Men venture to talk with equal Ignorance, Impudence and Prophaneness: for unless God had made us other Creatures than we now are, he could have given us no other Laws, un­less he could have given us Laws destru­ctive to our Nature and Happiness: for none but a vertuous Man can be happy, and Sin must make us miserable.

4. Nay, these natural rewards and pun­ishments are a glorious Justification of all the other acts of God's Providence for the rewarding good Men, and punishing the wicked; for this is to dispense rewards and punishments according to the nature and deserts of Things, which becomes the Just Governour of the World; for Hap­piness is the natural effect and reward of Vertue, and Wickedness of Vice: and therefore to reward good Men, and pu­nish the wicked, is to reward Men for making themselves happy, and to punish them for making themselves miserable; [Page 45] to encourage them to make themselves as good and happy as possibly they can by rewarding them with new additions of Happiness, and to restrain and terrifie them from making themselves wicked and miserable, by threatning and inflicting more severe punishments on them; and can there possibly be a more gracious Go­vernment than this! What hath any Man to quarrel at in it, unless it be, that God is so greatly and passionately concerned that we should be happy; for this is the apparent intention and design of his Pro­vidence in this World, both in rewarding good Men, and punishing the wicked.

5. Nay further, these Natural Rewards and Punishments which God has enter­woven in the Nature of Things, whereby he has made Vertue a reward, and Wick­edness a punishment to itself, are not one­ly a particular instance of God's Provi­dence, in that natural Provision he has made for the rewards of Vertue, and the Punishment of Vice, but are a natural Earnest and Pledge of all other acts of Providence, which are necessary to this end.

When God made Vertue and Vice the natural Causes and Instruments of our Hap­piness and Misery, it is certain, that he [Page 46] intended that good Men should be happy▪ and the wicked miserable: Now does God ever intend things by halves? will he not certainly effect what he intends? These natural Rewards and Punishments are one good way to do this; but suppose this fail in some instances, or cannot perfectly ac­complish what God intended? will he give over here, and use no other more effectual methods to supply those defects▪ Notwithstanding all these natural Rewards of Vertue, good Men while they live in­termixed with the wicked, may be op­pressed by them, and made as miserable as all external Calamities and Sufferings can make them, and are in great danger o [...] being so, unless a watchful Providence se­cure them: the practise and exercise of Vertue will make Men happy both in Soul and Body, where the natural effects of Vertue are not hindred and interrupted by external Violence; but where they are a good Man though he cannot be called miserable, yet may be far enough from be­ing happy; nay, would truly be misera­ble notwithstanding his Vertue, had he no [...] the assurance of the Divine Protection at present, and of glorious Rewards hereaf­ter, which support his Spirit, and make him happy in the most afflicted Fortune. [Page 47] The good Government of our Appetites and Passions will make our Minds chearful and easie, Contentment will sweeten a low Fortune, and Patience will make our Suf­ferings light; but these would be impra­cticable Vertues without a firm Trust in God, and the expectation of future Re­wards; for to be greatly oppressed with present Sufferings, without the support of greater Hopes, will break the most vertu­ous Mind, and make it sink and faint: So­briety and Temperance is the best me­thod to preserve our Health, and prolong our Lives; but yet good Men may have very weak and distempered Bodies, and may inherit the Diseases of their Parents, though not their Vices; or what care so ever they take to preserve their Lives, yet they may be ravished from them: Frugality, and Diligence, and Charity, and such thriving Vertues, may raise an E­state, and Oppression and Injustice may take it away; and how glorious soever Vertue be in itself, it may be eclipsed and darkened by Envy and Calumny, or re­proached by a prevailing Faction of Tri­umphant Sinners; and thus Vertue may be deprived of all its natural Rewards, if God does not interpose by his Providence, for its defence, or reserve some more cer­tain [Page 48] Rewards for it in the World to come: Thus Sin in its own nature is very de­structive, as you have heard, to the peace and pleasure of the Mind, to the health of the Body, to our Estates, and Fortunes, and Reputation in the World: but yet some Sinners may feel very little of this; a great and lasting Prosperity will so qua­lifie the natural Malignity of Sin, as to make such Men very unsensible of it: Pride, and Ambition, and Covetuousness have lit­tle trouble, but great pleasure in them, when they are gratified with prosperous Successes, with a daily Increase of Riches and Honours: Envy, and Hatred, and Re­venge are pleasing Passions, when Men have their Enemies at their feet, and can trample on them at pleasure: Though Intemperance, and Lust, and Prodigality may ruin an Estate, Fraud, Injustice, and Oppression may get one; and as hurtful as some Vices are to our Health, a cauti­ous Sinner (and such there are in the World) may be very wicked without in­juring his Health, or shortning his Life: and as infamous as Sin is, this may be so concealed and palliated by external Ho­nours, that the Sinner shall not feel it, nor bad Men see it, nor good Men dare take notice of it.

[Page 49]So that these natural Rewards and Pu­nishments which God has entailed on Ver­tue and Vice, may either wholly, or in a great measure be defeated by the great external Calamities of good Men, and by the great Prosperity of the wicked; and therefore if it be God's Will, that good Men shall be happy, and the wicked mi­serable, as these natural Rewards and Pu­nishments prove that it is, unless he will suffer himself to be defeated in the very end for which he made Man, (which we can never suppose of so infinitely wise and powerful a Being) he must at least in all such cases interpose by his Providence for the protection of good Men, and the pu­nishment of the wicked in this World, and reserve their final Rewards and Punish­ments for the World to come.

Had Man preserved his Innocence, and kept his Original State in Paradise, Ver­tue would then have been a reward unto itself, and have furnished us with all the internal Principles of Happiness, as Para­dise did with all the external Provisions and Delights of Nature: but since we are thrust into this World, where good Men live among the bad, exposed to all the ac­cidents of Mortality, and injuries of Men, though these natural Rewards and Punish­ments [Page 50] are a great Instrument of Provi­dence still, yet it is necessary God should take good Men into his more particular care in this World, and translate them to some more perfect State of Happiness, since as the World now is, it is impossible a Divine Vertue should receive its com­pleat Reward and Recompense here; fo that it seems as demonstrable to me, that God governs this World at present, and will judge us in the next, as that he has made an essential difference between Ver­tue and Vice, and entailed natural Rewards and Punishments on them, which are of no use but for the Government of the World, and as things now are, cannot in many instances attain that end, without a Pro­vidence in this World, and a Judgment in the next.

6. These natural Rewards and Punish­ments of Vertue and Vice are a natural Proof and Evidence of the future Rewards and Punishments of good and bad Men, or of a Future Judgment: and the reason of it is plain, because Piety and Vertue is a happy nature, and Sin and Vice a mi­serable Nature; and therefore at one time or other Vertue must make Men happy, and Vice miserable: Nature will act like itself, and produce its proper Effects, un­less [Page 51] it be hindred by some external Force, and whenever that Force is removed, it will return to itself again.

Though the Nature of Piety and Ver­tue be such as to make a reasonable Crea­ture happy, yet we know what it is, that either abates, or in a great measure de­stroys the Happiness of good Men in this State; they live here in earthly Bodies, which have strong sensual appetites and passions, and they feel all the pains and pleasures of the Body, which makes ma­ny acts of Vertue difficult and uneasie, in resisting the impressions of Sense, and de­nying the gratification of the Flesh: this World is the Empire of Sense, every thing in it courts and flatters our Senses, and draws off our Minds from the spiritual Delights of Vertue and Religion, which are the proper and natural delights of a reasonable Spirit, and at best extreamly dull the spiritual sensation and relish of the Soul, and make the delights of Reli­gion faint and languid▪ which must pro­portionably abate our spiritual Pleasures.

These mortal Bodies want a great ma­ny necessaries and conveniences of Life, the care of which employs most of our Thoughts and Time; and though our Se­cular Affairs will furnish us with frequent [Page 52] opportunities of exercising great and ex­cellent Vertues, yet the World is apt to gain too much upon us by our constant Conversation with it, and as Flesh and Sense prevails, so the Spirit loses; and if this does not defile the Soul with world­ly Lusts, yet it takes us off very much from the frequent and vigorous acts of a Divine Life, which is the true Happiness of a reasonable Soul.

But then these mortal Bodies are ex­posed to great Wants and Sufferings; bad Men are injurious, and Meekness, and Pa­tience, and such tame and gentle Vertues incourage their Injuries; nay, true Piety and Religion itself may be the cause and reason of our Sufferings, and when the Bo­dy suffers the Soul suffers with it, and this stifles the present pleasures and satisfacti­ons of Vertue, and nothing can support the Spirits of good Men under such Suf­ferings, but the future expectations of great Rewards. So that in this State Vertue alone is not a sufficient reward to itself, for either its pleasures are but faint and languid, or its sufferings over-ballance its pleasures.

But yet if we will but suppose a good Man removed into such a State, where Vertue and Piety will have its free, unre­strained, [Page 53] undisturbed Exercise, and can produce its natural Effects without any hindrance and interruption, then it is demonstrable that Piety and Vertue must make Men happy: and this secures the Happiness of good Men, when ever they remove out of these Bodies and out of this World.

When these Bodies and this World can no longer tempt or disturb us with its Pains or Pleasures; when the Care and Business of this World can no longer di­vert and employ our Thoughts; when Bad Men can no longer injure us; when our Souls are set at liberty to exercise all their Rational Powers; when we remove into a World of Spirits, and converse on­ly with Spiritual Objects, which will as strongly affect our Minds as the things of this World do our Senses, then Vertue will and must be a Reward unto itself; then the Pleasures of Wisdom and Know­ledge and Divine Passions will be ravish­ing and transporting.

Thus on the other hand, the Nature of Vice, is such as to make a reasonable Creature miserable; but yet a great Pro­sperity in this World, and a confluence of all sensual Enjoyments may at present pal­liate and dissemble, or suspend these ma­lignant [Page 54] Influences of a vicious Nature, may make Men unsensible of the want of true Rational and Divine Pleasures, or of the pain and disturbance of sinful Passions; may bind up our Reason and Conscience, and give such an empire and predominan­cy to Sense, that we can neither understand nor relish any other Pleasures but those of the Body, and think ourselves compleat­ly happy, while we have these: but if we will suppose such Men stript of Flesh and Sense, thrust out of these Bodies and out of this World, and there is an end of their sensual Happiness, and a sensualized Soul is capable of no other: and when all o­ther Objects are removed, and such sin­ful and distempered Minds are brought acquainted with themselves, when the Vertue of these Opiates is spent and the Soul recovers its sense again, then every vicious Passion proves a Fury; then Guilt and Shame and Fear and Despair and ra­ging Remorse act their several Tragedies in such a miserable Soul. This is the true Nature of sinful and disordered Passions, and thus they must do, when they act like themselves, and thus they will do, when they are let loose upon us in the other World.

[Page 55]So that the natural Rewards and Pu­nishments of Vertue and Vice, that Ver­tue in its own nature is the Life, the Hap­piness, Vice the Death and Misery of a reasonable Soul, do necessarily prove, that if good and bad Men remove out of this World of Sense into a World of Spi­rits, Piety and Vertue must make Men happy, and Vice miserable: and we may take it for granted, that God will re­ward a happy, and punish a miserable Nature.

7. These natural Rewards and Punish­ments of Vertue and Vice are a great In­strument of Providence, as they are a most effectual Antidote and Remedy a­gainst Superstition, which corrupts the Manners of Men, and debauches the World.

By Superstition, I mean all those hy­pocritical Arts of appeasing God and pro­curing his Favour without obeying his Laws or reforming our Sins: infinite such Superstitions have been invented by Hea­thens, by Iews, by Christians themselves, especially by the Church of Rome, which abounds with them: Now these Supersti­tions do not only spoil all Religion, but corrupt Mens Lives, and give them great security and impudence in sinning, which [Page 56] overturns the good Government of the World. For while Men perswade them­selves, that they may live as they list, and commit what Villanies they please, and yet escape the Wrath and Vengeance, nay obtain the Favour of God, both in this World and in the next, it sets them free from all Laws and Government, and leaves no restraint on them, but what the Laws of Men, and the Rods and Axes of Princes lay on them.

But when Men consider, that God has so contrived the nature of things, that Vertue must make Men happy and Vice miserable, they cannot imagine, that God can be reconciled to wicked Men, unless they think that he will alter the nature of Vertue and Vice for them; the Re­wards and Punishments, the Happiness and Misery of good and bad Men are not now arbitrary things, at the disposal of God's arbitrary will and pleasure, but God must new make Man again, to make good Men miserable and bad Men hap­py: they may as well expect ease in a Fit of the Gout or Stone, or Health in the Paroxysms of a Feavor, as that a wicked and corrupt Nature should re­ceive the Rewards of Religion and Ver­tue.

[Page 57]This is the first Evidence we have of a Divine Providence, which governs the World, that Divine Justice which is in­terwoven in the nature of things, which has annexed such natural Rewards and Punishments to Vertue and Vice, and thereby marked them out for the pro­per Objects of God's Favour or Ven­geance.

II. Another Evidence of God's Provi­dence and Government, is the Institution of Humane Governments for the Punish­ment of Wickedness and the Rewards of Vertue: it is very plain in Scripture, that Humane Power and Authority is ordain­ed by God; I need only direct you to 13 Rom. for the proof of it: though in­deed the nature of the thing proves itself, if we allow, that God made the World; for he has made Man such a creature, that Humane Government is absolutely necessary, and to make Humane Govern­ment necessary is a natural Institution of it. Man is a sociable Creature, who can­not live alone but must unite into Socie­ties, and the experience of Mankind proves, that Societies cannot be preserved with­out Civil Government, to maintain the Rights, and to restrain the Violences and [Page 58] Injuries of Men; that if God had not by any direct and immediate Institution set up any Government, nor invested any particular persons with Authority and Power to govern others, yet Men, if they would live together, which is necessary to the happiness of Humane Life, must set up a Government themselves by mu­tual consent, and intrust some persons with the administration of it: to be sure thus it is, there is no Nation in the World without some kind of Government; and God, who made the World, has made it necessary, that it should be so; and what­ever the nature of things makes necessa­ry, ought to be ascribed to the design and contrivance of the wise Maker of them: I have often despised the Reason­ings of a late Atheistical Philosopher, who has contributed so much to the debauch­ing this Age; who will by no means al­low, that there is any such thing as a Law of Nature, but what other Men call Laws of Nature, he resolves into arbitra­ry Compacts and Agreements among Men, and industriously proves, how ne­cessary it is for Men to consent to such Laws, if they would live happily toge­ther; as if there could be a plainer de­monstration, or a better definition of a [Page 59] Law of Nature, than what the Nature of things makes necessary to the Happi­ness of Mankind, and of Humane Socie­ties; for if this be not a Law of Nature, nothing is. And whatever Laws and Insti­tutions necessarily result from the Nature of Things, must be owing to the Author of Nature.

This is sufficient to the design of my present Argument, to prove, that God does take care of the Government of the World, in that he has instituted Humane Government, which is so great an In­strument of his Providence; which in­deed our Experience tells us, lays greater Restraints in many cases upon the Lusts and Passions of Men, than the Hopes and Fears of the other World do. Now will any Man say, that God takes no care of the Government of the World, when in all Nations he has his Officers and Mini­sters to execute Justice, and to maintain Peace and Order. We may as well say, that a Prince neglects the Government of his Kingdom, because he does not do every thing in his own Person, but by his Ministers: it becomes the Wisdom and Majesty of the Divine Providence to govern the World by Humane Methods, and by the Ministry of his Creatures, as [Page 60] far as it can be so governed and not to interpose by an immediate Power, but in urgent Necessity, where Humane Me­thods fail.

3. And this we have plain Proofs of also, that God does interpose by a secret and invisible Providence to supply the Defects, or correct the Miscarriages of Publick Government, or to reward and punish Men, and take care of his Crea­tures, in such Instances as fall not un­der the cognizance of Humane Govern­ment.

I confess, it is no easie matter in ordi­nary cases to prove the interposal of the Divine Providence, because God brings great things to pass by Natural Causes, Unseen Accidents, or the Ministry of Men, while they seem to follow their own Natures, and to pursue their private Interests, Designs, and Passions. For in all such Events we know not what to at­tribute to God and what to Creatures, when God concurs with Creatures by a secret and invisible Influence and Power, which makes such Men as are unwilling to believe a Providence, to ascribe all to Creatures, who are the visible Actors in it: and therefore to satisfie you, that God does by a wise and just, though many [Page 61] times an invisible Power and Influence o­ver-rule all Humane Affairs, consider with me:

1. That we have many Examples of God's governing the World by an imme­diate and visible Power, which proves, that at least in such cases he does concern himself in Humane Affairs, to reward good Men, and to punish the wicked. If we will allow the Books of Moses and Ioshua to be a true History, we need no other proof of this: there we read, that God destroyed the Old World by a Deluge of Water, and preserved Noah and his Fa­mily in the Ark; that he destroyed So­dom and Gomorrah with Fire from Heaven, and sent his Angels to fetch Lot out of it: there we read all the Miracles God wrought in AEgypt by the hand of Moses, for the punishment of the AEgyptians, and the deliverance of Israel; how God over­threw Pharaoh and his Host in the Red Sea, which divided its Waters, and gave a safe passage to the Armies of Israel; by what a long series and succession of Mi­racles God led Israel through the Wilder­ness, punished their Rebellion and Wick­edness, destroyed their Enemies, and gave them possession of the promised Land; how he delivered them his Laws from [Page 62] Mount Sinai, in an audible Voice, and with a terrible Appearance; placed his Tabernacle among them, where he dwelt, and from whence he gave forth his Ora­cles and Responses, and governed Israel as visibly as a Temporal Prince governs his Subjects.

This is an irresistible Proof, that God did govern the World in the days of Noah, when he destroyed the whole World for their Wickedness; that in the days of A­braham and Lot he was not an idle Spe­ctator of the Wickedness of Men; that in the days of Moses he undertook the Pu­nishment of AEgypt with his own Hand, and governed Israel by an immediate Power: And why then should we doubt whether God governs the World at o­ther times, when he does not interpose by such an immediate and miraculous Power? Is God less concerned in the Go­vernment of the World now, than he was in former days? Is he less concerned to govern other Nations, than he was to go­vern the Iews? Is God the God of the Iews, and is he not the God of the Gen­tiles? The Prophesie of Daniel concern­ing the Rise, and Growth, and Decay of the four Monarchies is a plain proof, that the Providence of God was not confined [Page 63] to Iudea: Or do we think, that nothing is to be attributed to God, but only some miraculous and super-natural Effects? as if God could not govern his Creatures without offering a perpetual Violence to their Natures, which would be a great blemish to his Wisdom in making the World, if he cannot govern it without unmaking it again; for to alter the Na­ture of Things is in part to unmake them; as if God could not steer and di­rect the Course of Nature by an invisible Hand? as if he could not influence the minds of Men, and govern their thoughts, and counsels, and passions, without an au­dible Voice from Heaven? God never in­tended to govern the World by a con­stant Series of Miracles, for he can go­vern the World without them, and it is much better that he should, for it offers less Violence to Mens minds, and is a greater trial of their Faith and Vertue: but since bad Men are so desirous to deliver themselves from the fears of an invisible Power and Justice, it was fitting that God should give the World some plain and un­deniable Testimonies of his Providence and Government, to convince them, that when he does not seem to take notice, he still presides over all Humane Affairs, and [Page 64] does whatsoever pleaseth him both in Hea­ven and in Earth.

Thus much I'm sure is plain, that these visible Demonstrations of God's Govern­ment, answer all the Objections of A­theists and Infidels against Providence; if the Epicurean thinks, that the Govern­ment of the World, and the care of eve­ry particular Creature in it, is too great a disturbance to the profound Ease, and Rest, and perfect Happiness of his God; those undeniable Examples of God's Pro­vidence, particularly in the constant Go­vernment of the Iewish Nation, is a plain Confutation of this; for the Government of the whole World is no greater distur­bance to an Infinite Mind, than the Go­vernment of one Nation is; and yet God did not neglect the Government of the Iews, for fear of disturbing his Ease and Rest.

If you think the Affairs of the World, and the Government of Creatures, below the care of an Infinite Being, too inconsi­derable for him to mind; How is this World more below his care, than the Old World was? or how is the whole World more unworthy of his care, than the Iew­ish Nation was? We may admire indeed the Love, and Goodness, and Condesc [...]nsi­on [Page 65] of God, that he humbleth himself to behold the things both in Heaven and in Earth; but though it is reason enough to admire his Goodness, it is no reason to de­ny his Providence.

If we object that great Wickedness which has over-run the World, that Vio­lence, Injustice, Leudness, which is com­mitted in it; this had been a much better Argument against God's governing the the Old World, when all Flesh had cor­rupted its ways, then it is now; and yet they found God a righteous and terrible Judge: so did Sodom and Gomorrah, so did the Inhabitants of Canaan, when the mea­sure of their Iniquity was full.

If we object the Sufferings of good Men, and the Prosperity of the wicked, against Providence; thus it was in the Iewish Nation, though God was manifest­ly their King and Governour, as appears from the many Complaints of David and Solomon, and the Prophets about this mat­ter: and if good Men may suffer, and the wicked prosper, in a Nation which God does govern, this is no argument a­gainst God's Providence and Government of the whole World.

2. Since it is evident from these mira­culous Providences, that God does at least [Page 66] sometimes interpose in the Government of the World, and that this is a good argu­ment, that he governs the World at o­ther times also, when he does not work Miracles; I say, having laid this Foundati­on, it is no hard matter to trace the plain Footsteps of Providence in more ordinary Occurrencies; for we may easily disco­ver a Divine Wisdom and Justice in ma­ny Events, which have nothing miracu­lous in them: Whatever savours of deep Counsel and Design, and is of mighty con­sequence to the Government of the World, and yet is brought to pass without any Humane Foresight and Contrivance, not only besides, but contrary to the Intenti­ons and Designs of the visible Actors, ought to be attributed to an invisible Wis­dom; for Chance can no more govern the World wisely, than it can make it.

When great and wonderful things are done by an unseen concurrence of many casual and fortuitous Events; when the greatest Politicians are out-witted, their Counsels distracted, their Measures bro­ken, their Designs defeated, without any visible Wisdom or Power to oppose them; when the Hearts of Princes are turned like the Rivers of Waters, and such an unac­countable Change manifestly serves some [Page 67] great Ends of Providence; when Men of contrary Interests and Factions, without advising with each other, or reconciling their old Quarrels, shall unexpectedly conspire in the same thing, and intend to serve their own contrary ends by it; I say, in such cases, whether it have the Approbation of God or no, his Hand is certainly in it.

When the Punishments of bad Men car­ry the Marks and Characters of their Sins on them; when those who in a Drunken Quarrel have killed their Friends or their Neighbours, and escaped Publick Justice, fall in the same manner in a Drunken Quarrel; when an Unjust Oppressor is ruined by Unjust Oppression; and those who have spoiled Widows and Orphans, leave their own Widows and Orphans a rich Prey to other Spoilers: this made Adonibezek confess the Righteousness of the Divine Providence, when he had his Thumbs and great Toes cut off; Three­score and ten kings having their thumbs and great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table; as I have done, so hath the Lord requited me, 1 Judges 7.

When secret Sins, especially barbarous Murders, are discovered by some strange Accident, and such Sinners brought to [Page 68] Punishment; when wicked and mischie­vous Designs and Conspiracies are defeat­ed at the very instant of Execution, as in the Case of Haman and Mordecai, and the Gun-Powder Treason; when Men ven­ture upon any Wickedness to avoid a Mis­chief, which they foresee, and by that ve­ry means bring that Mischief on them­selves, which they intended to prevent; these and such-like are remarkable Instan­ces of a Divine and Unseen Justice which governs the World.

And not to insist too long on this: Notwithstanding all the Disorders and Ir­regularities we complain of in the World, notwithstanding the many Afflictions and Sufferings of good Men, and the great Prosperity of the wicked, whoever consi­ders things wisely, must confess it an ar­gument of a wise Providence, that the World is kept in such good Order as it is; that good Men are no greater Sufferers than they are, when there are so many wicked Men to oppress them, but com­monly make as good a shift here as bad Men do; nay, excepting the Case of Per­secution, and excepting some very few prosperous Sinners, escape much better than wicked Men do; that if we could adjust the Account, and make fair Allow­ances [Page 69] for that vast disproportion there is between the numbers of good and bad Men, it would be found, that good Men, notwithstanding all the Disadvantages they labour under, are much the most prospe­rous part of Mankind.

When we consider, how often the Pow­er of the World, and the Administration of Justice is in corrupt and wicked Hands, it is wonderful to see, that, as to the ge­neral Concerns of Mankind, Justice is so equally administred; that Humane Socie­ties are not broken and dissolved by the furious Lusts and Passions of Men.

It is wonderful to observe, what an unseen and steady Hand holds the Bal­lance of the World, and sets Bounds to the Ambition of Princes, and keeps the most threatning Torrents within their own banks; nay, when the World seems to be in Confusion and inextricable Dis­orders, past the redress of all Humane Wisdom and Counsel, restores Peace and Order again. Such Events as these can be ascribed only to some unseen Wisdom and Power, which governs the World.

2. Having shewn what Evidence we [...]ave, that God does govern the World [...]t present, let us now consider the force of this Consequence, That therefore God [Page 70] will Judge the World hereafter. Now this seems to me to be a self-evident Con­sequence, that if God govern the World, he will judge it; that is, reward every Man according to his Works; for the principal Act of Government is to Judge; and it is impossible he should be a wise and just Governour, who does not judge.

The difference between the Providence of God, or his present Government of the World, and a Final Judgment, is no more but this; That they have different Ends, and therefore must have different Rules and Measures, but they are both God's judging the World: and therefore if God begins his Judgment of Mankind in this World, there is no reason to doubt, bu [...] he will finish and perfect his Judgment in the next: if he judges Mankind now a [...] far as is proper to the state of this World it is a sufficient reason to believe, that i [...] the next World he will exercise such act of Judgment, as are proper for that State.

The great Ends of Providence in thi [...] World, are the Preservation of Human Societies, the Incouragement of Piety an [...] Vertue, and the Discouragement of Vic [...] to keep Men under Discipline, to lay R [...]straints upon their Lusts and Passions, [...] wean them from the love of this Worl [...] [Page 71] to exercise their Graces, their Faith, and Patience, and Charity, and by the different methods of Kindness and Severity, (as his own Wisdom judges best and fittest) to reclaim the wicked and the wandering Prodigals, and to advance good Men to greater degrees and perfections of Good­ness; the end of God's judging Mankind in the next World, is to allot Men such Rewards and Punishments as are propor­tioned to their Works and Deserts, to be­stow Eternal Life on good Men, and to execute the threatning of Eternal Death upon bad Men, which is the Final Con­clusion and Consummation of Judgment: and if God judges all Men in this World, as far as is necessary for this World, it is reasonable to think, that he will perfect his Judgment in the World to come.

Now it is plain he does the first, as will appear from particulars: He corrects the Miscarriages of Publick Government, Pub­lick Injustice and Oppression, a Publick Contempt of God and of Religion, and of all things sacred, a General Corruption of Manners, and an Inundation of Wicked­ness; such Nations seldom escape long without a severe Scourge, unless God makes use of them to scourge other Na­tions as wicked as themselves; but a [Page 72] Righteous and Religious Nation which preserves Justice among Men, and the Knowledge, and Reverence, and Worship of God, is the Darling and Favourite of Providence, and is blessed with all pro­sperous Successes both at Home and A­broad: So the wise Man tells us, That righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is the reproach of any people. Thus it is apt to do of itself, but the Divine Justice and Providence takes care that it shall do so; for though every particular good Man is not rewarded, nor every particular bad Man punished in this World, yet God go­verns Kingdoms and Nations by a more equal and steady Justice: for indeed pub­lick Societies are the principal Objects of his Rewards and Punishments in this World, because the good Government of Mankind depends so much upon it; the Vertues or Vices of private Men have but a narrow influence, and can do but little good or hurt, but publick Govern­ment is a publick Good or Mischief, and the Disorders of it are like an E­clipse of the Sun, which brings Darkness upon the World; and therefore such a very wicked Nation is seldom long un­punished, or a righteous Nation oppres­sed: And this is a visible Exercise of God's [Page 73] Judgment in this World, in rewarding or punishing Kingdoms and Nations, which are the great Wheels of Providence where­on the regular Motion and good Govern­ment of the World depends; as I obser­ved to you before, that God governs the World by erecting Humane Governments, and therefore is more especially concern­ed to govern them.

Thus in order to discourage Wicked­ness, and to encourage true Piety and Vertue, which is another End of Provi­dence, it is not necessary, that God should reward every good Man, or punish every bad Man in this World; some few great Examples of such Rewards and Punish­ments are sufficient to this purpose, espe­cially if they are so many and so frequent that no bad Man can promise himself Im­punity even in this Life, nor any good Man have reason to despond, or distrust Providence; and as many Complaints as there are of the Prosperity of bad Men, and the Sufferings of the good, yet eve­ry Age and every Country, nay, almost every Village, will furnish us with so ma­ny Examples of miserable Sinners, and of the visible Rewards of Vertue, as are a­bundantly enough to make all consider­ing Men reverence the Divine Justice and [Page 74] Providence; and therefore God exercises as great as frequent, as visible Acts of Judgment as the State of this World re­quires.

Especially when we consider, that this World is a State of Discipline, a School of Vertue, where we must learn to govern our Passions and Appetites, to conquer vi­cious Habits, and to live above the Body, and the Pleasures of it, to forgive Injuries, to love Enemies, to Suffer patiently, to be contented with a Little, to trust Pro­vidence, to live by Faith and Hope of un­seen Things; now such a State as this will not admit of an exact Distribution of Re­wards and Punishments. Bad Men must not always be punished for their Sins, be­cause sometimes External Prosperity, and a Sence of the Divine Goodness, may work more kindly on them; or if they be punished, their Punishments must be rather Corrections than Acts of Justice; that is, they must not always bear pro­portion to their Deserts, but to their Cure; as a Father corrects his Child not so much to punish his Fault, as to reform it: And for the same reason good Men must not always be prosperous, for they may need Adversity to exercise, encrease, and brighten their Vertues, and to make [Page 75] them greater Examples to the World; or if God sees fit to reward them, it must be in such instances, and such proportions as they can bear; not always what they may deserve, but what will be for their good.

Thus God governs the World with great Justice and Judgment, as far as the State of this World requires and admits; and what reason then is there to question, whether God will judge Mankind in the World to come?

His Exercise of Justice and Judgment in this World proves, that he is the J [...]dge of the World, not an idle and unconcern­ed Spectator of Humane Actions; that he interests himself in the Affair of Man­kind, is solicitous to make all his Crea­tures happy; is an Enemy to Wickedness and to wicked Men, but the Friend, Pro­tector, and Father of good Men: and if God be the Judge of the World, why should we think that he will not judge it? nay, if he actually execute Justice and Judgment in this World, why should we think that he has reserved no Acts of Judgment for the next World, which is a more proper place for it, and requires some different Acts of Judgment peculiar to that State? If God reward good Men, [Page 76] and punish wicked Men in this World, why should we think that he has reser­ved no Rewards or Punishments for them in the next? especially if we consider these two things:

I. That it is very evident, that the Judgment of God in this World is not Fi­nal; that is, that the Blessings God be­stows upon good Men in this World are not the onely Rewards he intends for them, nor the present Evils and Calami­ties he brings upon bad Men, their one­ly Punishments: this is very plain and ex­pres [...] in Scripture, but I must not Ap­peal to Scripture now, while I am argu­ing from Reason, and therefore must con­sider what Natural Indications we have of this: As,

1. That good and bad Men live toge­ther, intermixt in this World, in the same Country, the same Neighbourhood, nay the same Family, and therefore God does not intend finally to reward good Men, or punish the wicked here, for that re­quires a Separation of them; the same place will not admit of perfect Happiness and perfect Misery, which must be the ef­fect of a Final Judgment, for their very Neighbourhood will necessarily allay each other.

[Page 77]Unless God should make good Men o­ther Creatures than they now are, it would be impossible for them to see the perpetual Executions, and the amazing Miseries of Sinners, without disturbing their own Ease and Rest; and then they could not be perfectly happy in this World: As things now are, the many Miseries and Calamities of Humane Life, exercise the pitty and compassion of good Men, and afflict them with a tender and painful sence of other Mens Sufferings; and what would it then do, were all wick­ed Men punished in this World according to their Deserts, which would make this World the very Image and Picture of Hell; a very unfit place for good Men to be happy in: and if good Men were all perfectly rewarded in this World, bad Men, who live and converse among them, could not be perfectly miserable; for to live in a happy Place, and among happy People, is some allay of Misery, at least it is not like being condemned to Eternal Night and Darkness, to the Company of Devils and damned Spirits.

Besides this, without a miraculous Pro­vidence, good Men cannot live among the wicked, but they must suffer from them, nor bad Men live among the good, but [Page 78] they must receive good from them; and therefore neither of them can be perfect­ly happy, or perfectly miserable, while they live together.

Were there no more in it but this, the very Wickedness of Men, their Leudness, Injustice, Oppression, Prophaneness, Com­tempt of God and Religion, would be a perpetual Trouble and Vexation to the Good, as the Soul of righteous Lot was grieved with the filthy Conversation of the Wicked, and this makes a great a batement in their Happiness; and yet it would not be a less Miracle to preserve all good Men from the Injuries of the wicked, who live among them, especially when they are the prevailing Numbers, and have great Power to do Mischief, then it was to preserve Daniel in the Li­ons Den from being devoured by those hungry and ravenous Beasts.

Nay it is impossible, that God should punish all wicked Men in this World, without involving some good Men in their Calamities and Sufferings: when God pu­nishes a wicked Nation with Plague, or Famine, or Sword, when he fires a City, and reduces all the Buildings of it to a Heap of Rubbish, how is it possible, but that good and bad Men, who live toge­ther, [Page 79] must suffer in such a Common Ca­lamity: there is reason enough why God should now sometimes permit [...]is, be­cause even good Men may deserve such Corrections, and he can easily recompense them other ways; but this would be no reason, if good Men were to receive their Final Rewards in this World; for then they ought to be exempted from the Pu­nishments of the wicked.

Thus how impossible is it for God to pu­nish all bad Men here, without punishing good Men in them? Have not many good Men very wicked Relations, for whom they have a very tender affection; Pa­rents, or Brethren, or Children, or those who are nearer to them, than all these? and can they be contented to be Witnes­ses of their Sufferings? This cannot be, unless good Men in such cases could divest themselves of natural Affections, which we see is not, and cannot be done, and if it could, would be a greater Mischief to the World, than the Sufferings of bad Men would do good to it.

And for the same reason bad Men can­not be perfectly miserable in this World, while good Men live among them; for unless God should forbid the exercise of some of the most excellent Vertues of the [Page 80] Christian Life, and which are in them­selves most beneficial to the World; good Men will exercise great Charity and Good­ness, Forgiveness and Patience towards the wicked, will relieve their Wants, and pit­ty their Sufferings, and be their Patrons and Advocates both with God and Men; that is, will do good to them, and pro­cure Blessings for them.

The Intercessions of good Men very often divert Judgments, and obtain great Blessings for a very wicked Nation; So­dom itself had escaped upon the Interces­sion of Abraham, had there been Ten righteous Persons found in it: And God very often spares a wicked Nation for the sake of good Men, who live among them▪ and must suffer by such Publick Judge­ments; that is, he spares bad Men to save the Righteous. Thus God bestows ma­ny Temporal Blessings upon the Friends, Relations, and Posterity of good Men, though they are wicked; and this is part of the Reward of Piety and Vertue in this World; and therefore all good Men can­not be rewarded, and all wicked Men pu­nished in this World; because many good Men must be punished in the Punish­ments of the wicked, and many wicked Men must escape, nay must prosper in [Page 81] the World, as a Reward of the good; which is not considered by those who make the Impunity and Prosperity of some bad Men an argument against Pro­vidence; when the very Prosperity of these bad Men is many times the Reward of Vertue, and a design'd Favor and [...]ndul­gence to the good. But what I have now said, plainly proves, that God's Judgment in this World is not Final, because good and bad Men live together; and it is abso­lutely necessary, that they should be part­ed, when God comes to render to every Man according to his Works; as our Sa­viour declares, that they shall be at the Final Judgment, when the Sheep shall be placed on his right Hand, and the Goats on the left.

2. That God's Judgment in this World is not Final, appears from this, that all good Men are not rewarded, nor all wick­ed Men punished in this World, as they ought to be, if God did not intend to Judge Men in the next World, for what they have done in this.

That this is so, I need not prove, be­cause we every day see it; and this is made a great Objection against Provi­dence, That many bad Men are prosperous, and many good Men afflicted. And a fool­ish [Page 82] Objection it is against Providence, but a very good Argument for a Future Judg­ment.

When we have so many Arguments to prove, that God does govern the World, that he does even in this Life reward good Men, and punish the wicked, as much as is necessary for the good Government of the World; it is very absurd to confute all this only by saying, that he does not govern the World, as we think he ought to govern it; that is, that he does not pu­nish every bad Man, nor reward every good Man in this Life. Whoever would make good this Argument, must prove, that there is no other World after this, wherein God can reward those good Men, and punish those wicked Men, whom he has not sufficiently rewarded or punished in this Life; or he must prove, that it is absolutely necessary to the ends of Go­vernment, to reward every good Man, and to punish every wicked Man in this World, and not to defer their final Re­wards and Punishments to the next; for if it be granted, that there is another World after this, and that God, if he sees fit, may defer the final Rewards and Pu­nishments of good and bad Men to the next World; then this is no Objection at all against Providence.

[Page 83]But then instead of being an Objecti­on against Providence, it becomes a very strong Argument for a Future Judgment: For if God does Govern and Judge the World, and yet Justice is not equally and impartially administred to all Men, but some good Men are greatly afflicted, and some wicked Men are greatly prosperous, it is little less than a Demonstration, that there is some other Judgment to come, besides what God exercises in this World; for it is certain, if God judge the World at all, he will judge it righteously, and will render to every Man according to his Works; for Justice and Righteousness is essential to the Notion of a God; and therefore since we see, this is not always done in this World, we must conclude, that God's Judgment of Mankind does not end with this World, but extends to a Future State; that is, that there is a Judgment to come after this Life, when we shall be rewarded according to our Works.

3. That the Judgment of God in this World is not Final, appears from this, that the Rewards and Punishments of this Life cannot be the final and proper Re­wards and Punishments of good and bad Men: External Prosperity, and external [Page 84] Miseries and Sufferings are the only Re­wards and Punishments we are capable of in this Life; and therefore when God would visibly express his Kindness and Fa­vour to good Men, he makes them pro­sperous, and when he would express his Anger and Displeasure against the wick­ed, he punishes them with some Tempo­ral Evils: and this is all that can be done in this World, except the peace and satis­faction, or the guilty remorse of our own Consciences, which God can heighten as he sees fit. But now it is certain, that external Prosperity is not the proper and peculiar Reward of Vertue, nor external Sufferings the peculiar Punishment of Sin; for if they were, a just and righteous Judge could never permit bad Men to be pro­sperous, nor good Men to be afflicted, if Prosperity were due only to Vertue, and Afflictions and Sufferings to Vice: The promiscuous Distribution of the good and evil Things of this World, both to good and to bad Men, proves, that Prosperity is not always good, nor Adversity always evil; that Prosperity is rather a present Encouragement, then the proper Reward of Vertue, and external Calamities rather a Curb and Restraint, than the proper Punishment of Vice; and therefore when [Page 85] God can serve the ends of his Providence by it, he may make bad Men prosperous, and afflict the good, for this is not to trans­fer the necessary and peculiar Rewards of Vertue upon bad Men, nor to inflict the peculiar Punishments of Sin upon good Men, which cannot be done by a just and righteous Judge: Now if the Happiness and Miseries of this Life be not the pro­per and peculiar and inseparable Rewards and Punishments of Vertue and Vice, then there are some other Rewards and Punish­ments reserved for good and bad Men in the next World; such Rewards as no bad Man shall share in, and such Punishments as shall not be inflicted on any good Man; that is, besides the Providence and Judge­ment of God in this World, God will Judge good and bad Men in the next, and render to every Man according to his Works.

II. The Nature of the Divine Provi­dence and Government, and the Manner and Circumstances of its Administration in this World, are a plain Indication of a Future Judgment.

The visible design of Providence is not to reward all good Men, and to punish the wicked in this World, for this is not done; but to curb and restrain Wickedness, and [Page 86] to encourage Piety and Vertue; and there­fore God gives us such Examples of his Justice as are sufficient to over-awe Man­kind, and make them fear his Power and Vengeance; and such Examples of his Favour, Kindness, and Regard to good Men, as may encourage them to be good and vertuous, with the expectation of great Rewards: But what does all this signifie, unless it proves, that God will punish bad Men, and reward the good; and if it proves this, it must prove, that God will do it in the next World, for it is plain that he does not do it here. And therefore if we will allow, that God go­verns the World wisely, we must confess, that the Examples of God's Goodness and Justice in this World prove a Future Judge­ment; for they are not so universal as to answer the ends of Justice in rewarding good Men, and punishing the wicked in this World; and unless they prove a Fu­ture Judgment, they are not sufficient ei­ther to over-awe and restrain bad Men, or to encourage the good: for though the frequent Examples of God's Justice and Severity against Sin, destroys Mens secu­rity in sinning: for no bad Man can be sure that God will not punish him, as he does a great many other bad Men; yet [Page 87] we daily see, they would venture this, did not the present execution of Justice threa­ten them with the more terrible Judge­ment of the next World.

Thus if we consider the Providence of God as a Method of Discipline, whereby he conquers Mens love to Sin, and breaks the Habits of Vice, or exercises and im­proves their Vertues; this is a very un­accountable thing without a Future Judge­ment: Why should God exercise so much Patience towards wicked Men, and bare so long with them, to conquer them by Methods of Kindness, were it not in great Goodness to give them time for Repen­tance, that they may escape Eternal Mi­series?

Why should God exercise Men with such long and repeated Severities to con­quer their Love to this World, to teach them to govern their Appetites and Pas­sions, and to make them good Men, if there be no Reward for Vertue and Piety in the next World?

Why should he afflict good Men all their Lives, whose Vertue deserves a more prosperous Fortune, only to exercise their Faith and Patience, and to advance them still to more Divine Perfections, unless he intended to reward their present Suffer­ings, [Page 88] and their eminent Vertue with a brighter and more glorious Crown?

There are many Passages of Provi­dence, which there can be no other ac­count given of, but that they are Me­thods of Discipline to conquer Mens love to Sin, or to improve their Graces and Vertues: And I am sure there can be no account given of this, why God should with so much Patience and Forbearance expect the Repentance of some Sinners, and exercise good Men with so much Se­verity to make them better, unless the Pro­vidence of God in this World have a prin­cipal regard to the Rewards and Punish­ments of the next; that is, unless there be a Judgment to come, to reward good Men, and to punish the wicked. This I hope is sufficient to make good this Consequence, That if God govern the World at present, he will judge it-hereafter.

SECT. IV. The Natural Presages of Conscience prove a Future Iudgment; and if there be a Future State, there must be a Future Iudgment.

V. THe Natural Presages of Consci­ence are another good Argu­ment or a Future Judgment; that is, all Men naturally expect to be judged, to be rewarded or punished for the Good or E­vil they do; and this is a strong Natu­ral Presumption that God will Judge the World. This is an Argument of great moment, and therefore deserves to be par­ticularly explained; to which purpose I shall I. shew you, That it is so. 2. That this is not an artificial Impression, but the natural Sence of our own Minds. And 3. That this does prove, that God will Judge the World, and render to every Man according to his Works.

I. That it is so; that all Men have a natural Presage of Judgment: there is in­deed a very [...]ormidable Objection against this, That very few Men live as if they did expect to be judged. But this is as good an Argument against Mens belief of [Page 90] the Gospel of Christ, and the express Re­velation of a Future Judgment, as it is a­gainst the Natural Sence and Presages of Conscience; for there are too many who profess to believe the Gospel, but do not live as if they did believe a Judgment: But I need not trouble myself about this, because it is an Objection only to Atheists and Infidels, if indeed it be an Objection to them: Other bad Men who live as if they did not believe a Judgment, yet feel in themselves that they do believe it, and when they think of it, they believe and tremble too, as the Devils do; though at other times they are over-powered by the World and the Flesh, to act contrary to the Convictions of Conscience, and the Fears of Judgment.

The Heathens themselves, who had on­ly the Light of Nature to direct them, were very sensible of the private Judge­ment of their own Consciences, which did either accuse them when they did ill, and fill them with remorse and fear of Ven­geance; or excuse, commend and applaud them when they did well, and give them great and chearful Hopes of a Reward; as St.Paul tells us, 2 Rom. 14.15. and is frequently observed by the Heathen Phi­losophers, Poets, Orators, and Historians, [Page 91] as a thing universally acknowledged: and indeed I know no Man at this day, who denies it, and therefore I need not prove it. All Men feel this in themselves, even Atheists and Infidels, whenever they are serious and thoughtful; when the Judge­ments of God overtake them, or they see the near Approaches of Death, and ano­ther World: The greatest Power cannot defend Men from these Fears; Princes and Politicians are equally exposed to them, with meaner Subjects; those whom no Humane Power can touch, are over-awed by an invisible Justice.

II. Since this is universally acknow­ledged, the onely question is, To what Cause to attribute these Fears and Re­bukes of Conscience? The Atheist will by no means allow these Fears to be Na­tural, but only the Effect of a Supersti­tious Education; as they say the Belief of a God, and the differences of Good and Evil are. Men have been taught from their very Infancy, that there is an invisible Power that governs the World, which will reward good Men, and punish the wicked, and have been frighted with the Fairy Stories of Infernal Judges, and Styx and Acheron, or Hell-fire; and this [Page 92] made such an Impression upon their ten­der Fancies, as can never be wore out, at least not without great Industry and Re­solution of Mind; and this, they say, makes weak Men conclude that they are Natural. But this is a very absurd and ridiculous Account of the Matter, as will appear, if you consider by what Rules we are to judge, what is Natural, and what not: for if these Presages of Conscience have all the marks and signs of being na­tural, that we can have, that any thing is natural, we must either say, that nothing is natural, or that we cannot tell, what is natural, and what not; or we must confess it great Perversness of Mind, to deny that to be natural which has all the signs and Marks of being natural, that a­ny thing can have.

Now I. That is Natural which is uni­versal, or common to the whole Kind; for we have no other way of knowing what the Natures of Things are, but by observing, what is common to all Crea­tures of the same Kind and Species, for nothing is common to all Individuals but a common Nature: and if what is uni­versal, and common to all Mankind is Na­tural, these Censures and Rebukes of Con­science are Natural, for they are common [Page 93] to all Men: for though we should grant, that some few Atheists had wholly con­quered these Fears, and never feel the Lashes and Rebukes of their own Consci­ences, such few and rare Examples ought to be lookt on as the Corruption of Hu­mane Nature, not as the Measure and Standard of it; for it is no news to say, that Humane Nature may be corrupted, that the very essential Principles of it may be depraved; and in such cases we al­ways judge, and that with very good rea­son, that what is most common and uni­versal is Natural, not what is as rare and as ominous as a monstrous Birth.

2dly, Especially when we consider, that that is most Natural, which is born and bred with us, and is the Original State of Humane Nature; for Nature is before Art, and before the voluntary Corruptions and Degeneracy of Nature. This Atheists see and confess, and therefore attribute the Belief of a God, and the Checks of Con­science, and the Fears of Judgment, to E­ducation, that these Principles were in­stilled into us from the beginning, and grow up with us into confirmed and set­led Prejudices; and I readily grant, that E­ducation has a great stroke in forming our Notions, and in awakening and cultiva­ting [Page 94] our Natural Reason? for though we are born with a Power and Faculty of Reason, and our Minds are so framed, as to understand and assent to such Truths, when they are proposed to us, to know and acknowledge prime and original Prin­ciples at first view, as the eye discerns Light, and distinguishes Colours, yet we are not born with the exercise of Reason, but it must be put into Act, and formed by Education: but this I say, that it is an argument, how natural these Notions are to our Minds, that they are the first Prin­ciples all Mankind assent to without diffi­culty or dispute; and such Principles as when Men grow up, they find lie even and easie in their Minds, they are the first things which Atheists themselves did na­turally believe; and that they do not be­lieve them now, is the effect of great In­dustry and Violence: It is a piece of Art to be an Atheist, which they are a great while a learning; which very few Men, though well disposed to it, can ever learn▪ but to believe a God, and to fear and re­verence his invisible Power and Justice, is not Art but Nature, and therefore com­mon to all Mankind, and the first thing they learn to believe.

[Page 95]3dly, Another Mark of what is Natu­ral is, that it is absolutely inseparable from Nature, or at least not without extream Difficulty and Violence; and this proves the Hopes and Fears of good and bad Men to be very natural: For how impos­sible it is to conquer these Fears, I appeal to your own Sence and Experience: as many bad Men as there are, who would be very glad to get rid of these Fears, and to laugh them out of the World, there are but very few that can do it. Some Men indeed stifle their Consciences, and lay them asleep by the various Arts of Su­perstition, whereby they hope to appease God, and to keep their Sins still, or by the deceitful Vows and Promises of Re­penting before they die, or by perpetual Business and Entertainments, which im­ploy their Thoughts, and keep off all me­lancholy Reflections, or by such perpetu­al Debaucheries as stupifie their Minds, and make them insensible; now these Mens Fears are silenced for a while, but not conquer'd; whatever makes them re­flect upon themselves, and consider their own state, awakens their Fears again, and makes them more out-ragious and tor­menting than ever. The Atheist is cer­tainly so far in the right, that there is no [Page 96] way to get rid of these Fears, but by ba­nishing the Belief of a God, and of ano­ther World, out of their Minds: but few Men can do this, and Atheists themselves, when they have impudently enough de­rided the Superstition of the rest of the World, and think they can answer all the Arguments for the being of a God, and a Future State, yet cannot wholly deliver their Minds from these Fears; they ever and anon recur upon them, and after all their pretended Assurance and Confidence, they are very jealous what may be, and many times some cross Accidents and E­vents, or the approach of Death, opens their eyes, and makes them acknowledge a God, and tremble at the thoughts of Judgment, which they had so long despi­sed.

This is a certain proof, that these Fears are not owing to Education, but spring from Nature; for the Mistakes of Edu­cation may be rectified by Reason and Experience, especially when they are such troublesome Mistakes, that Mankind are desirous to get rid of them: no such Mi­stakes could ever hold out long against Reason and Interest; whatever is a Mi­stake may be confuted by Reason, and when it is Mens Interest to discover the [Page 97] Mistake, this will make them very sagaci­ous in their Enquiries, and very ready to see their Mistake; that had the Fears of bad Men been the effect only of Idle Tales, and Traditionary Fables, it is im­possible they should have withstood all the Wit and Reason of Philosophical Atheists▪ that such Men with all their Arguments should not be able to make themselves absolutely secure, much less to make ma­ny Converts, though every Age and Na­tion has been filled with Men whose lives have disposed them to be Atheists. These are the general Marks and Signs of what is Natural; that which is universal and common to all Mankind; that which is the first and original sence of Humane Nature; and that which is so deeply fixt in our Minds, that no Art or Industry can wholly root it out; and all this proves, that these Presages of Conscience, the Hopes good Men have of a Reward, and the Fear of Punishment and Vengeance, which haunts bad Men, are the natural Sence of Mens Minds.

3dly, Let us now consider the force of this Argument, how these Hopes and Fears of good and bad Men are Natural Presages of a Future Judgment:

1. Now in the first place I think, I [Page 98] may lay it down as a certain Principle, That Nature, or the Natural Sence of our own Minds, does not deceive us; for if we should say, it may, there is an end of all Certainty; we must be Scepticks in eve­ry thing, if we cannot believe the Natural Impressions upon our Minds; for I know not then, why we should believe our ex­ternal Senses, what we see, or hear, or feel; if Man was made by God, who is Eternal Truth, the natural Sence of our Minds must be as true and certain, as our Bodily Senses are; for though the Dedu­ctions of Reason are not always so neces­sary and certain, because Men may reason wrong, yet if the first Principles of Rea­son, and the immediate Sence of our Minds, which are common to Humane Nature, should misguide us, this were the fault not of Reasoning and Discourse, but of Nature itself, and therefore must be charged upon the Author of Nature, and certainly there cannot be so ill a contri­ved Creature made, as Man is, who is pursued with the Fears of Justice and Vengeance, when he does ill, and flatter­ed with the promising Hopes of great Rewards when he does well, if there be no Future Judgment to reward good Men, and to punish the wicked.

[Page 99]2. For secondly, these Natural Hopes and Fears of good and bad Men, imme­diately respect the Judgment of God, not of Men, and concern the Rewards and Punishments of the other World, more than of this. Let bad Men be never so powerful and prosperous, though they fear no hurt from Men, nor any change and alteration of their Fortune, yet the sence of Guilt, distracts and terrifies them with the Fears of an Unseen and Almigh­ty Vengeance; and though good Men suffer very hard things from the World, and have no prospect of better Usage here, yet their Consciences speak Peace to them, and support them with great Hopes; and therefore unless these Natu­ral Hopes and Fears deceive us, good Men shall certainly be rewarded by God, and bad Men punished, either in this World, or in the next, or in both.

3. We may consider farther, that these Hopes and Fears of good and bad Men, give a Natural Confirmation to all those other Arguments which I have already urged for the proof of a Future Judge­ment. As to shew this in a few words:

1. This proves a natural Sence in all Men, that they are accountable Creatures, and shall be called to an Account for their [Page 100] Actions; For unless Men were sensible of this, why should their Consciences ac­quit or condemn them? Why should they judge themselves, but in relation to some higher Tribunal, which will certainly judge them? especially when the Consciences of bad Men, do not only condemn, but threa­ten them, and the Consciences of good Men do not only acquit and absolve, but promise a Reward; for they can neither punish nor reward themselves.

2. This proves the natural Sence we have of the essential difference between good and evil, and that what is good de­serves a Reward, and what is evil deserves Punishment, because good Men expect a Reward for the good they do, and bad Men fear Punishment when they have done evil; which shews a natural Sence of the just merits and deserts both of Good and Evil, and that they shall re­ceive their just Rewards.

3. This proves also, that natural Sence Mankind have, that God is the Supream and Soveraign Lord and Judge of the World, and will judge Mankind; for there is no other Tribunal which all Man­kind can be accountable too: the com­mon Sence of Humane Nature must re­spect the Universal Lord and Judge of [Page 101] the World, who has a Natural Right to Govern and to Judge Mankind; he who made us imprinted this sence upon our Minds, for what is natural is owing only to the Author of Nature; and therefore these natural Hopes and Fears can only relate to the Government and Judgment of our Maker and Natural Lord, and then they must prove, that God will judge us, that he will reward or punish us accord­ing to our Works: Nay,

4ly, This proves that Natural Sence Men have of a just Providence, which go­verns this World at present; for tho' these natural Hopes and Fears do not give Men any assurance that they shall be reward­ed or punished in this World, as they de­serve, yet a good Conscience, especially some great and eminent Vertues, give good Men great hopes in God, and a se­cure trust and dependance on his Provi­dence, even in this Life; and a great sence of Guilt makes Men afraid of pre­sent Vengeance; though God may think fit to delay the Punishment of bad Men till the next World, yet a guilty Consci­ence never thinks itself safe here: So that if there be any force in these Arguments, the Accountableness of Humane Nature, the essential Differences of Good and E­vil, [Page 102] the Natural Notions of God's Domi­nion and Soveraignty, and that just Pro­vidence which governs the World at pre­sent, to prove a Future Judgmen [...], they all receive strength and confirmation from the natural Hopes and Fears of good and bad Men, which are a natural Presage of Judgment. And this is a fifth Argument of a Future State, The natural Presages of Conscience.

6ly, To add no more; the removing Mankind out of this World into the next, proves the necessity of a Future Judge­ment: If Mankind after death subsist in another State, they must be judged, and therefore Judgment is as certain as a Life after death, which I must take for grant­ed in this Argument; the reason I be­lieve of this is not obvious at the first pro­posal, but it will be plain, if you consider but some few things:

1. That when we go into the next World, we must remove into a State of Happiness or Misery; I do not mean that when we go into the next World good Men shall be certainly happy, and the wicked miserable, for that is to beg the thing in question, and to take that for granted, which is to be proved; but [...] we live in the next World it is certain we [Page 103] must be happy or miserable there, for e­very thing that lives is so in proportion to the capacities of its Nature.

2. That our State and Condition in the next World must have relation to our Be­haviour and Deserts in this: When God first makes Man, he puts him into such a State as is fitted to his Nature; for when he has done neither Good nor Evil, it is not what he deserves, but what God sees him fit for, that must allot him his Rank and Station; but when Man is removed out of one State of Life into another, his Behaviour in the first State must be taken into consideration when God allots him a second; for though his State of Life is changed, the Person is the same, and his Deserts are the same; and if he deserved ill in this World, he cannot deserve well in the next, and if he deserved well in this World, he ought to be well used in the next.

Some Philosophers, who believed that the Souls of Men did pre-exist in a for­mer State, before they came into these Bo­dies, thought this a very good account of the different Fortunes of Mens Birth, E­ducation, Condition, and Circumstances of Life, that they were proportioned to their Merits and Deserts in that former [Page 104] State: and were this true, that the So [...]s of Men did live in a former State, before they came into these Bodies, this might be a very fair and reasonable account of it; for when Men have deserved well or ill, whether they are continued in the same State, or translated into some other, the Justice of the Divine Providence in al­lotting their State and Condition of Life, must have respect to their former Deserts▪ before Creatures have deserved well or ill▪ their Condition must be allotted by th [...] Divine Wisdom and Goodness with respect to the capacities of their Natures; when they have deserved well or ill, their Con­dition must be allotted by Justice with re­spect to their Deserts: this is so plain that it will admit of no Dispute.

III. And then it necessarily follows that God must Judge Mankind in the [...] World, must reward or punish Men ac­cording to their Works; that is, mus [...] put them into such a State of Happines [...] or Misery, as they have deserved, an [...] have made themselves fit for: those w [...] have obeyed God, and purified and refin­ed their Natures by the Habits of Gra [...] and Vertue, are fit Objects of his Good­ness, and have made themselves capabl [...] [Page 105] of a Divine Happiness, of seeing God, and dwelling in his Presence; but those who have debased their Natures with the love of this World, and have defiled their Souls with impure Lusts, deserve to be banished from God's Presence, as Rebels and apostate Creatures, and having made themselves uncapable of Divine Joys, must suffer the Miseries of damned Spirits: So that if we will but allow, that God allots Men their Condition in the next World, as he does in this, and that in allotting their Condition in the next World, he has any regard to their Behaviour and De­serts in this, as Wisdom and Justice re­quires he should, and this proves a Fu­ture Judgment, or that God will reward and punish Men according to their Works. And this may suffice for the first thing proposed, What Natural Evidence we have of a Judgment to come.

SECT. V. The Scripture Proof of a Future Iudge­ment.

II. HAving shewn what Evidence we have from the Light of Nature for a Future Judgment, let us now con­sider the Scripture Proofs of it: And this might be dispatched in a very few word [...] by turning you to some plain Texts of Scripture, which expresly assert it; but [...] shall do something more than this, which if it be not necessary for the proof of [...] Future Judgment, yet will be of use for the better understanding the Christian Re­ligion, and to rivet this Belief faster [...] our Minds; that is, I shall represent to you those Parabolical Reasonings whereby our Saviour insinuates this Belief into ou [...] Minds, and shew you, that the whole Christian Religion is founded on, and a­dapted to the belief of a Future Judge­ment, and is a very unintelligible Institu­tion without it:

1. Let us consider those plain and ex­press Proofs the Gospel of our Saviour contains of a Future Judgment; and some few Texts will be sufficient for this pur­pose. [Page 107] This is expresly affirmed by St. Paul, 17 Acts 31. That God hath appoint­ed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness. The Apostle to the Hebrews tells us, It is appointed for men once to die, and after that the judge­ment, 9 Heb. 27. Our Saviour tells us that we shall be judged, 7 Matth. 1, 2. Iudge not, that ye be not judged: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judg­ed; and with what measure ye meet, it shall be measured unto you again. And v. 22, 23. he tells us, That in that day (that is, the Day of Judgment,) many will say unto me, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy Name? and in thy Name have cast out devils? and in thy Name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Thus he tells us, 16 Matth. 27. The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. And 25 Matth. 31, &c. he gives us a lively Description of the Future Judgment, When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the ho­ly Angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall [Page 108] separate them one from another, as a shep­herd divideth his sheep from the goats▪ And he shall set the sheep on his right hand but the goats on the left. And then h [...] Judges them, and pronounces their Fi [...] Doom and Sentence according to the [...] Works, as it follows in that place. [...] were easie to turn you to many Texts [...] this purpose, as every one knows, who [...] acquainted with the Scripture, but the [...] is no need of it; these few are so expre [...] that if we believe the Gospel, we must be­lieve that we shall be judged.

2. Our Saviour does not only expresly declare this, that there shall be a Judge­ment, but insinuates the Belief and Rea­sonableness of this by some proper All [...] ­ons and Comparisons; which is the [...] scope and design of many of his Parables▪

As to instance in some of them: 1 [...] Luke 12, &c. he tells us of a certain [...] ­ble man, who went into a far country, to re­ceive for himself a kingdom, and to return where he describes his own leaving th [...] World, and ascending into Heaven to take possession of his Kingdom; from when [...] he shall return again at the last Day t [...] Judge the World: This noble man called his servants, and delivered them ten pounds and said unto them, Occupy till I come. B [...] [Page 109] his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. This describes our State in this World, which is a State of Labour and Industry, where we must im­prove our Master's Money, all the advan­tages and opportunities of doing good, to his Service and Glory. Now as it is rea­sonable to expect, when such a King re­turns, that he will call his Servants to an Account, reward the Diligent, and punish the Slothful, and destroy his Enemies, the same Usage we must expect from our Lord when he returns again; he will judge us, will reward or punish us according to our Works. To the same purpose is that Pa­rable 25 Matth. 14, &c. of a Man travel­ling into a far Country, who called his Servants and delivered to them his Goods, and at his return rewarded them propor­tionably to the Increase and Improvement they had made, and punished that wick­ed Servant who hid his Talent in a Nap­kin. The Parable of the unjust Steward, who had wasted his Master's Goods, and was turned out of his Stewardship for it, is founded on the same reason, that we are but Stewards of God's Gifts in this World, and that God will as certainly call us to an Account for our Stewardship, as [Page 110] an earthly Master will, 16 Luke 1. The Parable of the Housholder, who hired La­bourers into his Vineyard, and gave them every Man his Peny at night, 20 Matth. signifies to us, that in this Life we must work in God's Vineyard, and finish the Work he has given us to do, and that at Evening, when this Life ends, God will reward us in the next; and this we may as certainly and reasonably expect from God, as an hired Labourer expects his Wages when he has done his Work.

The Parable of the King, 22 Matth. who made a Marriage for his Son, and sent forth his Servants to call them who were bidden to the Wedding; but they refused to come, and evil entreated his Servants, and slew them, upon which the King was wroth, and sent forth his Ar­mies, and destroyed those Murderers, and burnt up their City, and sent and invited others to the Marriage; though it prima­rily refer to the Destruction of the Iewish Nation, for their rejecting their Messias, and calling the Gentiles into the Church, yet is founded on the same reason, that God will punish our Abuse of his Grace, and all the Invitations of the Gospel, as a gracious, but affronted Prince would pu­nish his Subjects in such a case.

[Page 111]But the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, 13 Matth. 24, &c. is very observable, be­cause it gives an account why God does not destroy all bad Men in this World, and yet that he will punish the Wicked and reward the Good in the next World: A man sowed good seed in the field, and while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares; but when the blade sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. This our Saviour expounds v. 37, &c. He that sowed good seed, is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; (that is, good Christians,) but the tares are the children of the wicked one; (that is, bad Men.) The enemy that sowed them is the devil, (as our Saviour tells such Men, Ye are of your father the devil, and his works ye do.) The Servants of the Housholder, having informed their Master of what had happened, ask him, Whether they should go and gather up the Tares? But he said, Nay: lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them: Let them both grow together till the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them into bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn. [Page 112] Which he thus expounds: The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels, (for so our Saviour tells us, he must come in the glory of his Fa­ther, with his Angels, who are the Mini­sters and Executioners of his Justice.) A [...] therefore the tares are gathered and burn in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world. The Son of man shall send forth his Angels, and they shall gather out of hi [...] kingdom all things that offend, and the [...] which do iniquity; and shall cast them i [...] to a furnace of fire; there shall be waili [...] and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righ­teous shine forth like the Sun in the king­dom of their Father. This we must con­fess was wisely considered by the Hous­holder, not to destroy the Wheat with the Tares, but rather suffer them both to grow up together till the Harvest, then to pluck up the Wheat before it be ripe together with the Tares; and this is as good a reason why God does not destroy all bad Men in this World, because good and bad Men are intermixt, and all bad Men cannot be destroyed here, but good Men must suffer with them, as I have al­ready shewed you at large: And there­fore bad Men cannot be finally punished, nor good Men finally rewarded, till they [Page 113] are first parted; for to root up the Tares here signifies the final Extirpation and De­struction of all bad Men, not the casting bad Men out of the Communion of the Church, nay, not putting Hereticks to Death, to which some apply these words; which were it reconcileable with the o­ther Laws, and with the Genius and Spi­rit of Christianity, as it is not, would be as reconcileable with this Parable, as the Execution of any other Malefactors is; this may be done without destroying the Wheat, nay, in some cases the Wheat may be preserved by it; for the Punishment and Execution of some bad Men is neces­sary to preserve the Innocent: but when the Tares are more than the Wheat, grow close together, and are intangled in each other, as the Interests of good and bad Men are intermixt and interwoven in this World; there is great reason to spare the Tares for the sake of the Wheat.

But the Tares must not expect to e­scape thus always; a wise Housholder in the time of Harvest, will order the Reap­ers to separate between the Tares and the Wheat, and then the Tares shall be burnt, and the Wheat gathered into the Barn; and thus Christ will separate between good and bad Men at the last Judgement, [Page 114] and allot them very different Portions: All this is very reasonable, thus a wise Man will do, and therefore this we must expect from the Wife and Just Judge of the World.

This Parable of the Wheat and Tares, which grow together in the same Field, re­presents the mixture of Believers and Infi­dels, the Christian Church and the Men of this World here: but the following Pa­rable of the Net, v. 47. which was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, represents the mixture of good and bad Men in the Communion of the Christian Church; for thus our Saviour tells his A­postles, that he would make them Fishers of Men, and gave them a Figure of the success of their Ministry in that miracu­lous Draught of Fishes, after they had toiled all the Night, and had taken no­thing, 5 Luke 5.6. which he repeated a­gain after his Resurrection from the Dead, 21 Iohn 6, &c. So that the Net signifies the Communion of the Christian Church, which gathers both good and bad, but when this Net is drawn to shore, they gather the good into Vessels, but cast the bad away; that is at the end of the World, the Angels shall not only separate between the Church and the World, between Believers and In­fidels, [Page 115] but between good and bad Christi­ans, who live together in the same Com­munion in this World: The Angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from a­mong the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Thus we see in these Parables our Sa­viour does not only prove, that God will Judge the World, but convinces us of the Necessity and Reasonableness of this, by appealing to the common Rules of Pru­dence and Justice among Men: Thus all wife and just Princes and Housholders will do, destroy Traitors and Rebels, revenge the abuse of their Favours, call their Stew­ards to an account, reward the Labour and Improvements of faithful Servants, and punish the slothful and unprofitable, separate the Wheat and Tares at Harvest, though they grow up together in the same Field, and separate between the good and bad Fish, though caught in the same Net; and therefore thus God will do, who is not less Wise, and Just, and Holy, than Men are. And this gives Authority to all-the Arguments for a Future Judgment drawn from the Reason and Nature of Thing [...]; thus our Saviour reasons, and thus he has taught us to reason; for the [Page 116] fundamental Principle on which all these Parables rest, is this, That whatever is manifestly just, and wise, and reasonable for Men to do, that God will do. If this be not true, the Parables of our Saviour have his authority, but have no reason, though the nature of such Parables is an Appeal to the Reason of Mankind; and if this be true, then we may argue thus in other cases, which are equally plain and obvious, and are sounded upon the same Reason; which gives a kind of Divine Authority to the plain and necessary Di­ctates of Reason in this matter; and then I'm sure I have furnished you with Rea­sons enough already for the Belief of a Future Judgment.

3. The whole Christian Religion is founded on, and adapted to the Belief of a Future Judgment, and is a very unintel­ligible Institution without it: and there­fore this must be a first Principle to all, who call themselves Christians, if they understand the Religion they profess; as to shew this particularly:

1. The chief Promises and Threatnings of the Gospel, relate to the other World; Godliness, indeed, hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as that which is to come; but the Temporal Promises made [Page 117] to a holy and vertuous Life, are such as worldly minded Men cannot much va­lue: they extend no farther than Food and Raiment, to our daily Bread, which is all our Saviour has taught us to pray for; and therefore it teaches us,1 Tim. 6.3. Having Food and Raiment, there-with to be content: But who could be contented with such a scan [...]y Provision, while he sees the great­er Prosperity of bad Men, who dissolve in Ease and Luxury, were there not a happy state reserved for them in the next World? Where is the Man who would not comply with the Devil's Temptation to fall down and Worship him for all the Kingdoms of the World, and the Glory of them, were he not to lose a brighter and a richer Crown for it? Some times indeed God does bless good Men with great Plen­ty and Honour, but he has no where pro­mised to do so in the Gospel of Christ; sometimes he does it not so much to re­ward good Men, (for Temporal things are not the proper Rewards of Piety and Vertue) as to serve the ends of his Provi­dence in the World: he takes care of good Men to supply their wants and ne­cessities here, which is all that a perfect Vertue requires, but he rewards them hereafter: and yet this is not absolutely [Page 118] promised neither, for our Saviour teaches us to take up his Cross, to expect Suffer­ings and Persecutions for his Name sake; and then we must be contented to want Food and Raiment, to part with Houses and Lands, and Life itself for his sake, and our condition may be so afflicted and ca­lamitous here, that it may force us to say▪ as S. Paul does, If in this life only we had hope, we were of all men the most miserable: And who would be the Disciple of Chri [...] upon these Terms? to suffer so much for him in this World, and to gain nothing by it in the next▪

Thus on the other hand, there is a ter­rible Vengeance threatned against wicked Men in the next World, Lakes of fire and brimstone, blackness of darkness, the worm that never dieth, and the fire that never goeth out; but the Gospel threatens no Temporal Punishments against Sin: Bad Men are very often punished in this World, when the Wisdom of the Divine Providence sees fit, and they very often escape too, and are much more prospe­rous than good Men are here; that there is no Threatning in the Gospel to restrain the Impieties of Men, but only the Fears of the other World, and a Future Judge­ment; and if you take away these, you [Page 119] destroy the Gospel of our Saviour.

2. Many of our Saviour's Laws are founded on the supposition of a Future Judgment, and are extreamly unreasona­ble, if there be no Rewards or Punish­ments after this Life; that if we will but allow him the ordinary Prudence of a Lawgiver, a Future Judgment must be the Foundation of his Religion.

If there were no other Life after this, the only Rule of our Actions would be to live as long, and to enjoy as much of this World as we can. But Christian Re­ligion in many cases will not allow of this, and therefore is no Religion for this World, were there not another World to follow.

To begin with the Enjoyments of this World: How many Restraints does the Christian Religion lay on us, to lessen the Pleasures and Satisfactions of this Life? It teaches us a great Indifferency to all the things of this World; but how un­reasonable is that, if this World be our only place of Happiness? For who can be indifferent, whether he be happy or not▪ It commands us to mortifie our sensual Appetites, to crucifie the Flesh with its Affections and Lusts, to live above the Pleasures of the Body, to pluck out our [Page 120] right Eyes, and to cut off our right Hands▪ but what reason can there be to deny our selves any of these Enjoyments, as far as is consistent with preserving our Health, and prolonging our Lives, if we have no expectations after Death? nay, if Men are contented to live a short and a merry Life, what hurt is there in it, if death puts an end to them? It forbids us to lay up for ourselves Treasures on Earth, which were a strange Command, were there not greater Treasures to be expected in Hea­ven: It forbids earthly Pride and Ambi­tion, an affectation of Secular Honours and Power; but why must we submit to Meanness and Contempt in this World, if this be the only Scene of Action we shall ever be concerned in? for a mean and base Spirit is no Vertue; and for the same reason, it can be no Vertue to be contented with a low Fortune, to be pa­tient under Sufferings, which if they will never be rewarded, is to be patiently mi­serable, and that is Stupidity and Folly; but to have our Conversation in Heaven, to live upon the hopes of unseen Things, is Madness and Distraction, if there be no Heaven, no unseen Things for us.

The Laws of our Saviour require us in some cases to sacrifice the dearest Interests [Page 121] we have in this World, and Life itself for his sake, which is a sensless and unreason­able Command, if he does not intend to bestow a better Life on us: If there were no other Life after this, no wise Man would forfeit more for any Religion, than it is worth in this World, and that would reach but a little way in Suffering: Nor is our Saviour so unreasonable as to re­quire it upon these Terms; but tells us plainly, Whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 16 Mat. 25, 26. The Reasons of most of the Evan­gelical Commands must be fetched wholly from the other World, and a Future Judge­ment; and therefore we should have had the same Evidence for a Judgment to come, that we have for the Christian Religion, tho' there had been no such express men­tion made of a Future Judgment.

I cannot but observe here the true Rea­son of the Corruption of Christian Morals, which are as much corrupted as the Chri­stian Faith is: That in expounding the Laws of our Saviour, some Men have no other regard, but to fit them to the ease [Page 122] and the conveniences of this Life; and therefore reject any Interpretation of them, which is severe to Flesh and Blood, or will hazard their Ease and Fortunes in this World. It is sufficient to Confute a­ny Law of our Saviour, or to Interpret it away, to shew that there are great Tem­poral Inconveniences in it; that to observe such Laws in such a sence, would be very injurious to Mens present Interests, and deprive them of many Pleasures and Ad­vantages of Life.

It were easie to give many Instances of this, but it shall suffice at present to con­fess, that considering the State of this World, and the Propensities and Inclina­tions of Humane Nature, some Laws of our Saviour are very unreasonable, were there not a Future Judgment to reward the Severities and Sufferings, which good Men must undergo in observing of them: and therefore we must have a care of re­jecting any plain and express Law of our Saviour, for any Temporal Inconvenience which attends it, or to think that the best sence of the Christian Law, which is most for the Ease and Comfort of this present Life.

This may serve for the Proof of a Fu­ture Judgment, for if this will not prove [Page 123] it, nothing will. There are indeed ano­ther sort of Arguments to prove it, but they principally relate to the Person of our Judge, or who shall be our Judge, viz. The Son of Man, Christ Jesus, who is God Incarnate, and to which St. Paul re­fers▪ 17 Acts 31. That God hath appoint­ed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead; but I shall defer that, till I come to speak of the Person of our Judge.

SECT. VI. The Improvement of this Doctrine in some Practical Inferences, as, 1. To live as it becomes those who shall certainly be judged. 2. To keep our Eye upon a Fu­ture Iudgment for the Government of our Lives.

HAving thus proved the Certainty of a Future Judgment, both from Rea­son and Scripture, before I proceed, it is necessary to consider, how we must im­prove this Belief for the Government of our Lives; for that is the onely end of Faith and Knowledge, and if we be never [Page 124] the better Men for our Faith, we may as well be Infidels; and this I shall do in these following Particulars:

I. To live as it becomes those who shall certainly be judged. I suppose I need no [...] prove this Consequence, That those who must be judged, ought to live as those who must be judged; for if Judgment be of any concernment to us, I am sure it is of great concernment to prepare ourselves for Judgment: And if we must be judged for Eternity, Judgment is of as great con­cernment to us, as Eternal Life and Death▪ Nor is there any great difficulty to know, how those Men ought to live, who must be judged; every Man knows this with­out a Teacher, who will give himself leave to think: A Steward, a Factor, a Labour­er, any Person who is liable to the Cen­sure and Judgment of a Superiour, who will call him to an Account, knows what he is to do, to prepare his Accounts; and there is no greater Mistery in preparing ourselves for God's Judgment, than for the Judgment of Men. But because all Men will not consider things as they ought, though they be never so plain and obvi­ous I shall briefly suggest some Rules to you, which you must all acknowledge ve­ry [Page 125] reasonable at the first hearing, and which if well observed, would make us lift up our Heads in the Day of Judgment, and expect it without Astonishment and Terrour:

1. If we must be judged, it becomes us to act with great Consideration and Ad­vice: Rafhness, Precipitancy, Inadverten­cy, to do we know not what, in a Heat and Impetus, without considering whe­ther it be good or evil, right or wrong, does not become those who must be judg­ed. To be judged is to be called to an account, to give a reason for what we do, and therefore we ought to consider what reason to give, before we do it. We must be judged by a Rule, as you shall hear more hereafter; and therefore we ought to live by Rule too, which no Man can do, who does not consider well, what he does, before he does it: It will be no Plea at the Day of Judgment to say, That we did not consider what we did; that we lived without Care, without Thought, without Observation; for this is not an allowable Plea for a reasonable Creature, much less for one who knows he must be judged: For why did you live without Thought? without Considerati­on? had you not the power of Thinking, [Page 126] of Reasoning, of Considering? and did not God give these Powers and Faculties to you, to direct and govern your Lives? did he not make you reasonable Crea­tures, that you might consider, and live by Reason? and is it any Excuse then for a reasonable Creature, that he lived and act­ed without Reason, and a wise Considera­tion of things? This is the great Degene­racy of Humane Nature, the abuse and corruption of those Natural Powers which God ha [...]h given us, the Source of all the Evils that are in this World, and therefore can be no Excuse; much less, when we know that God will judge us, and require a reason of our Actions: for not to con­sider our own ways, when we know God considers them, and will require an ac­count of them, is a contempt of his Judge­ment; for did we reverence our Judge we must consider: and yet how many mad, extravagant, wicked Actions are there daily committed, which those who do them, never think why they do them, nor what reasonable account they can give of them either to God or Man.

Some Men are very [...]ond of what they call a Frolick; that is, to lay aside all Thought and Consideration, and to give thems [...]lves up to the government of [...] [Page 127] very sudden and unaccountable Fancy, and the more wild and extravagant it is, the more entertaining, without any re­gard to Vertue or Vice, to Decency and Honour, the least thought of which is a Prophanation of these Bedlam Misteries: they drink themselves drunk in a Fro­lick, blaspheme GOD, and his Son JE­SUS CRIST, and his most holy Re­ligion, abuse Wives and Virgins, mur­der innocent People, and affront all they meet, in a Frolick; but it is ridiculous to imagine, if we must be judged, that such Frolicks as these shall be allowed in the Account, or pass for Cyphers and empty Scenes of Life, to signifie no more than they were intended for; that because we choose at such a time to act without Rea­son and Consideration, therefore GOD should demand no Reason nor Account of such Actions.

And yet a very great part of the World, tho' they do not run into such outragious Frolicks as these are, yet their Lives are little better than a train of incoherent and independent Fancies and Humours; they live without Thought, or any wise De­sign, any extempore Project has them, which starts up in their Minds, or strikes their Fancies; they scarce know what [Page 128] they have to do the next day, nor how they spent the last: But is this a Life for Men who are to be judged?

Others there are who give themselves up to the government of their Passions, which are so vehement and impetuous, and always in so much hast, that they will neither hear Reason, nor allow any time for it; and then no wonder if they do such things as they can give no good ac­count of, when their Passion is over.

Others are more fixt and resolved in their way; they have chose such a course of Life as they like best, and they are re­solved to pursue it, and that nothing shall put them out of it; and therefore they resolve against thinking too, lest that should disturb them, and give check to their En­joyments: they will neither lissen to their own Consciences, nor hearken to the Im­portunities of their Friends, nor be per­swaded to consider, what the probable end of all their Actions will be, both in this World, and in the next.

These are all unthinking unconsidering Sinners; but you will all confess, that these Men do not live as if they were to be judg­ed; and therefore if we believe that we shall be judged, none of us ought to live thus; we ought to consider well before-hand, [Page 129] what we do, that we may be able to give a reasonable account of it, when we have done it; for if we must give a rea­son of our Actions, when we have done them, we ought to know a reason for them, before we do them; and therefore we must accustom our Minds to a grave and serious consideration of things, to live by Reason, not by Humour and Fancy, not by the Impetus and Fury of Passion, which is a very ill Counsellor, much less to pur­sue our Lusts with an affected and resol­ved Ignorance and Blindness; for all this will not prevent our being judged, but will make us very unable to give a good account of ourselves when we are.

2. As we must act with great Consi­deration, so we must make it the stand­ing Principle and Rule of our Lives, ne­ver to do any thing, but what we can give a good account of; either what we know is our Duty, or at least what we are satisfied is very lawful and innocent to be done; for if we do those things which we cannot account for, for which our own Minds condemn us, how can we appear with any hope and confidence at the Tribunal of God? When Men trans­gress a known Duty, they are Self-con­demned, and God need not judge them, [Page 130] but only execute the Sentence and Judge­ment of their own Conscience. To be­lieve that God will judge us, and yet to venture upon such Actions, for which our own Consciences condemn us, and for which we know God will as certainly condemn us as our own Consciences do, is folly and distraction: since we must be judged, our great care and concernment should be, that when we are judged, we may not be condemned; and the most effectual way to prevent this, is to do no­thing which our Conscience condemns: It is possible indeed, that Men who sin wilfully against a known Duty, may re­cover themselves by Repentance, and ob­tain Mercy through the Merits and Me­diation of Jesus Christ; but it does not become any Man, who believes a Judge­ment to sin, that grace may abound; these hopes very often deceive Men, and will always do so, till they come to this Re­solution, Never to violate a known Du­ty, to provoke the Justice, or to exercise the Patience and Forbearance of GOD. There is no other way to escape the Con­demnation of the last Judgment, but by a resolved Obedience to the Divine Laws, and therefore if we believe we shall be judged, nothing can be more necessary, [Page 131] nor more becoming, then to make this the constant Rule of our Actions, Never to do any thing for which we know God will condemn us, nothing but what can we account for, and then we shall be prepar­ed for Judgment, whenever it comes.

3. It becomes those who must be judg­ed to judge themselves, and to take a fre­quent and impartial account of their own Lives and Actions: This is no more then every Steward does, who casts up his Books, and adjusts his Accounts himself, before he presents them to his Lord. The truth is, it is impossible for any Man, who knows he shall be judged, not to be ve­ry solicitous to know, what his Judgment shall be; and this every Man may in a great measure know, who impartially ex­amines his own Conscience; for so St. Iohn tells us, If our heart, or conscience, condemn us, God is greater then our heart, and knoweth all things: but if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards GOD, 1 John 3.20, 21. So that if our Lives have been innocent and vertuous, and such as a well-inform'd Con­science approves, this will give infinite Peace and Satisfaction to us, and fill us with Divine Joys, with a Plerophory of Hope and Assurance; but if we should [Page 132] not find things so well; though upon such a strict Examination, our Consciences should be very quarrelsome and uneasie, and threaten the Vengeance of God a­gainst us; yet it is much more desirable to hear our Consciences chide and con­demn us, than to hear our final Sentence from the mouth of our Judge, Go ye cur­sed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: The Judgment of Conscience is not final; for Conscience is rather our Monitor than our Judge; it tells us what will be, if we do not take care to prevent it, not what certainly is, and shall be; and therefore we have this advantage by the Rebukes and Censures of Conscience, to know what is amiss, and what we must correct and amend.

Nay, a frequent Examination of our selves would keep a perpetual Watch and Guard upon our Lives: After our great­est care and caution, a great many things will be hastily done, and said, which we cannot reconcile with the Rules of Pru­dence and Decency, and strict Vertue; but he who frequently calls himself to an account, and observes all these Defects, which it may be other Men are never sensible of, will attain an habitual Cauti­on and Watchfulness, and improve into [Page 133] great Exactness of Conversation, and all the Graces and Beauties of Vertue: Some of the Philosophers thought it a very good Rule to call themselves to an account e­very night, for what they had done that day; which would make us reverence ourselves and our own Consciences; but there is much more reason to do so, when we remember that God observes all our Actions, and will judge us for them: The Judgment of our Consciences, as I obser­ved to you before, is a Natural Presage of God's Judgment, for there is no other reason why our Consciences should judge us, but that God will; and then the rea­son is very strong also, that if God will judge us, we ought to judge ourselves, for this is the proper Office and Mini­stry of Conscience in subordination to the Judgment of God.

II. Let us keep our Eye perpetually on a Future Judgment for the Direction and Government of our Lives; for this will furnish us with such Principles of Acti­on, as cannot be so well learnt any other way.

1. As first, it teaches us above all things to take care to approve ourselves to God, which is the only Principle of [Page 134] true Religion, and universal Obedience: Nothing is an Act of Religion, but as it respects God, and is referred wholly to him; to perform all the Acts of Wor­ship, though with never so great Pomp and Ceremony, and external Appearances of Devotion, to do never so many good Actions, to be seen and to be praised by Men, or to serve some Secular Interest by it, is not Religion; but such Men, if they meet with what they expected, have their Reward, all that they deserve, and all that they proposed to themselves; their Reli­gion is a Courtship to Men, not the Wor­ship of God; and this Principle will reach but a little way, only to some external and popular Acts, and is calculated only for the prosperous Times of Religion, when it is in Fashion and Reputation, and will give Men Credit, and raise their For­tunes in the World; but those who are Religious, and do good for God's sake, to approve themselves to him, have a sted­dy and universal Principle of Righteous­ness, which is as certain and immutable as God is; and if God will certainly judge us, if we must receive our final Doom and Sentence from his Mouth, I know not whom we are concerned to please but him, I am sure none in opposition to him; [Page 135] As for Instance: The Censures of the World are a great Temptation to most Men; when instead of Praise and Honour an unfashionable Vertue meets with Infa­my, and Reproach, and Pulick Scorn; but St. Paul's answer will fit all such cases, It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful; but with me it is a very small thing, that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment; —he that judgeth me is the Lord, 1 Cor. 4.2, 3, 4. While we can approve ourselves to God, that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have our conversation in this world: The different Judgments of Men ought to be despised; whatever Sentence they pronounce can have no effect, for they are not our Judges, but must be judged themselves; and if we can appeal to God, who is our Judge, all the rest is but Pageantry and Childrens Sport, a Ludicrous Imitation of Judgment, which sometimes ends Comi­cally enough, when their Parents or Ma­sters happen to see them; the Judge and Jury are whipt, and the condemned In­nocent escapes: But what will it avail us, when we come before God's Tribunal, that we have been not only absolved, but prais­ed, admired, applauded by Men, who are incompetent, ignorant or partial Judges?

[Page 136]So that if God be our Judge, we have nothing else to do, but to approve our selves to him; we have but one Maste [...] to please, and he more easily pleased too then Men commonly are, who are never all of a mind, and therefore can never all be pleased, and seldom continue long of the same mind, and therefore cannot al­ways be pleased: our Saviour himself ex­perienced this Inconstancy, when the loud­est Hosannahs in three or four days time▪ were changed into Crucifie him.

So little regard is there to be had to the good or bad Opinion of Men; no wise Man will be contented to stand or fall by it; and whoever makes this the Princi­ple of his Actions, can never be a good Man long; but he who approves himself to GOD, will like Religion never the worse for being reproached; will be con­tented with the private Applauses of his own Conscience, to shelter him against the most outragious Obloquies; will take as great care of the frame and disposition of his Mind, as of his outward Actions, be­cause tho' Men cannot see his heart, God does; will be as devout in his Closet as at Church; will fast without any exter­nal show and appearance of Fasting, and give Alms without the sound of a Trum­pet, [Page 137] with such secrecy, as if it were pos­sible to conceal it from himself, that his left hand shall not know what his right hand does; for he is not concerned that Men should know any thing of this, and nothing is so secret, but God knows it, and his Father which seeth in secret, shall reward him openly, 6 Matth. 1, &c.

2. As we must approve ourselves to God, who is our Judge, so we must fetch the Reasons and Motives of Obedience from a Future Judgment, from those Re­wards God has promised to bestow at that day on good Men, and those Punishments he will inflict upon the wicked: these, as far as concerns Rewards and Punishments, are the only Gospel-Motives of Obedi­ence; I say, as far as concerns Rewards and Punishments, because there are other Gospel-Motives of Obedience, besides Re­wards and Punishments; such as the great Love of God in giving his Son for us, the great Love of Christ in giving him­self a Sacrifice for us, which is a powerful Obligation on us to live to him, who died for us; and the powerful Assistances of the Holy Spirit to work in us both to will and to do, which renders our Obedi­ence possible and easie; but the Motives of Obedience from the Rewards of Ver­tue, [Page 138] and Punishment of Wickedness, mu [...] be fetched from a Future Judgment; for these unseen and absent Rewards and Pu­nishments are the only Object of Faith▪ which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, 11 Heb. 1. And Faith is the only true Principle of Gospel-Obedience: present Rewards and Punishments were the Motives of the Mosaical Covenant, and this is a legal Spi­rit to serve God in expectation of a pre­sent Reward, or for fear of some Tempo­ral Punishment; but future Rewards and Punishments are the Motives of the Go­spel, the Exercise of Faith, and the true Spirit of Sons; the not observing which was the occasion of that foolish Mistake, that to serve God for a Reward, is a le­gal and servile Spirit; which is true, if we speak of Present and Temporal Re­wards, but not of those which are Spiri­tual and Eternal: And if we will be true and sincere Christians, here we must fix our eye, and with Moses have respect to [...] future Recompence of Reward; for no o­ther Motives will fit all Times, nor con­quer all Temptations, nor extend to all Acts of Religion.

Those who serve God for a present Re­ward, to make their Fortunes in this World, [Page 139] must quit his Service, when Religion ex­poses them to Sufferings and Persecutions, and to the loss of all things for Christ's sake; those who abstain from Sin, for fear of some Temporal Punishments, must commit such Sins, when they shall suffer more by not committing them; when Men serve God for Temporal Hopes or Fears, whenever the World promises great­er Prosperity, or threatens more terrible things, they must necessarily change their Master, for they must take that side on which the present Advantage lies.

Good Men sometimes meet with a Re­ward in this World; Vertue may in some Junctures make Men Rich and Honoura­ble; but whoever courts Vertue for Rich­es and Honours, will never court a poor and despised Vertue; that is, he does not indeed court Vertue, but Riches and Ho­nours, and will rather take as much Ver­tue with them, as is necessary to that pur­pose, than go without them; but Riches and Honours with or without Vertue are always welcome: Whoever makes the Ad­vantages of this Life his Reasons and Mo­tives to Vertue, will do no more good than will advance his present Interest, and will be good no longer; and this is a ve­ry sorry Vertue, it had need have some [Page 140] Reward in this World, for it will ha [...] none in the next.

Those Temporal Promises which are contained in the Gospel, were never in­tended by our Saviour as the Rewards or Motives of our Obedience, but only to e [...] ­courage and support us in our Pilgrimag [...] in this World, that if we seek first t [...] kingdom of God, and his righteousness, [...] we give up ourselves to the Obedienc [...] of the Gospel, and live upon the Hopes o [...] unseen Things, and lay up Treasures i [...] Heaven, all other things shall be added [...] us; God will provide what is needful for our passage through this World, whateve [...] Difficulties and Discouragements we may meet with from Men.

The design of the Gospel is to take ou [...] Hearts from this World, to teach us no [...] to lay up for ourselves Treasures on Earth but in Heaven, not to love this World nor the things that are in the World; an [...] therefore it is impossible that Tempor [...] Blessings should be a Gospel-Motive: nothing in this World can be a Motive, un­less we love the World, and therefore thi [...] can be no Motive of the Christian Reli­gion, which teaches us not to love the World; unless the love of the World ca [...] be a proper Motive and Argument to [Page 141] make us despise it, and live above it.

And therefore I confess, I have some­times wished that there had been less stress laid upon the Temporal Rewards and Advantages of Vertue, to perswade Men to Religion, and upon the Tempo­ral Evils and Miseries of Sin to discour­age Men from it; for this is not always true, and if it were, it is an Argument which will perswade no Men, and if it did, it cannot advance them to the heights and perfections of a Christian Vertue, and therefore is no Gospel-Motive. As for Instance:

Some Vertues are very healthful, pro­long our Lives, and prevent a great ma­ny painful and mortal Diseases, which the contrary Vices expose Men to, such as Temperance and Chastity; other Vertues are very proper Methods of Thriving in the World, such as Diligence, Prudence, Justice; others give us Reputation and Honour, advance us to Rule and Empire, and Publick Trusts: Now this is some­times true and sometimes not, as the State of the World now is, as I shewed you be­fore, that whatever natural Efficacy Ver­tue may have to make Men happy, or Vice to make them miserable, this may be in a great measure defeated by the ex­ternal [Page 142] Circumstances of our Condition in this World; and therefore this can never be a Motive, that is, it cannot be a reason why we should choose Vertue, because it is not always a reason; nay, is as often a reason for Vice as for Vertue; and if it be a good reason for one, I cannot see, why it should not be a good reason for the o­ther: for if it be a reason at all, it is a reason for that side on which at present it is, whether that be Vertue or Vice: In­deed these Temporal Advantages of Ver­tue are not so much Reasons for Vertue as against Vice, and that too only against such Vices, or such Degrees and Instan­ces of Vice, as are destructive to Mens Health, or Fortunes, or Reputation: how­ever this Reason, be it what it will, will reach no farther than to such a degree of Vertue as will contribute to a happy and prosperous Life in this World, and there­fore will not raise us above this World, will not teach us to despise Riches and Honours, and Bodily Pleasures, nay, is not consistent with a mean Value and great Indifferency to present Things, and there­fore it cannot make us Christians; and is a very improper Argument to perswade Men to be Christians; it never made a Christian yet, and never will do.

[Page 143]And therefore let us not think to con­quer the Deceits and Flatteries of the World and the Flesh with such Argu­ments as these, which have no strength [...]n them, which are more apt to make Men fond of this World, then to conquer [...]t: But this is our victory, which over­ [...]omes the world, even our faith; the hope [...]nd fear of unseen Things, or a Future [...]udgment, when God will eternally re­ward good Men, and punish the wicked. This is an Argument in all Times, and in [...]ll Conditions; it will make us despise the World when it Smiles and Flatters, and [...]corn its Frowns: Here are Hopes too big [...]or this World, and Fears too great and [...]owerful for its Fears; such Hopes as can [...]upport us under the greatest Sufferings; [...]uch Fears as can imbitter all the sweets of Sin; and therefore let us keep the Future [...]udgment always in our eye; let us fetch our Supports and Comforts from thence; [...]et us oppose these Hopes and Fears against all Temptations, for here is our strength; [...]ll other Arguments are easily baffled, but nothing can answer the Argument of Eter­nal Life and Death.

SECT. VII. Third Inference: To refer all Iudgmen [...] to GOD.

III. IF GOD will certainly Judge the World, let us refer all Judgme [...] to God; or as St. Paul speaks, Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will ma [...] manifest the counsels of the hearts; a [...] then shall every man have praise of God ▪ 1 Cor. 4.5. Nothing is more indecen [...], nor more dangerous than for Men, wh [...] must be judged themselves; to take God [...] Work out of his hands, and to assume [...] Praetorian Power to Judge, Acquit, an [...] Condemn whom they please, without ex­pecting the Judgment of God: to Judge is God's Prerogative, and he will Judge the World; And what hast thou to do [...] judge another man's servant? to his ow [...] master he shall stand or fall. Why [...] much hast to prevent the Judgment o [...] God by our rash, ignorant, uncharitable Judgments? Judgment will come time e­nough for us all, and therefore judge no­thing before the time.

[Page 145]This is so common a Fault, and does so much Mischief in the World, and yet is so very unreasonable, considering a Fu­ture Judgment, that it will be of great use to Discourse it more particularly, and if it be possible, to Correct this Miscar­riage, which is one of the greatest Plagues of Humane Society.

It is very obvious to ask here, What is the Fault of this? Is there any living in the World without judging of Men and Things? Must we not say, that he is a very bad Man, whom we see do very bad things? Must we not distinguish between Vertue and Vice, and between good and bad Men? Must we not make good Men our Friends, commend and imitate their Vertues, and reject the Conversation of the wicked, and beware of Knaves, and Men of ill Principles and Designs? And is it not necessary then to distinguish be­tween good and bad Men? that is, to judge who are so. Must we wholly refer the Punishment of Wickedness, and the Rewards of Vertue to the Day of Judge­ment, and because God will Judge the World, must not Princes and Magistrates execute Justice, and separate between the Pure and the Vile?

[Page 146]This is so very unreasonable, so incon­sistent with the wise Conduct and Go­vernment of our Lives, and a prudent Care of ourselves, so destructive to Hu­mane Societies, gives such encouragement to Wickedness, and so confounds the Di­stinction of Good and Evil, that I need not tell any Man, that this is not meant by referring all Judgment to God: We must judge of Men and Things as far as is necessary to the prudent Government of our Lives, and to the Preservation of Peace, and Justice, and good Order in the World; this does not intrench upon a Fu­ture Judgment, nor upon God's Preroga­tive of being the sole Judge of the World, but is necessary in this present state of Things, so necessary that neither Publick Societies, nor private Persons can be safe without it; but then we assume such a Judgment to ourselves as belongs only to God, when we judge Mens Hearts, and secret Thoughts, and Intentions, and when we pass Judgment on their final State:

First, When we judge Mens Hearts, and Thoughts, and secret Intentions: For the Heart of Man is known only to him­self, and to God who is the Searcher of [Page 147] Hearts; and the Counsels of the Heart will never be made manifest, till God comes to Judge the World.

Indeed no Man will pretend to know another Man's Heart; and yet it is too plain in many cases, that Men undertake to judge of Hearts: And the great Fault in judging is, that whether Men will own it or no, yet they undertake to judge of Hearts.

Thus all those do, who charge Men with more Guilt then is visible in their Actions; for if we can discover any Guilt which is not visible in their Actions, we must look into their Hearts, and Thoughts, and Intentions, to find it.

Thus those do, who charge Men with Guilt upon account of innocent and indif­ferent Actions, which have no necessary good or evil in them, but are as they are taken, and as they were intended, and those who can find any hurt in such Acti­ons, as have no intrinsick evil and mis­chief in them, must find it in the Heart.

Especially those, who judge and con­demn Men for the most vertuous Actions, for the most imitable Examples of Piety, and Devotion, and Charity, and a severe and mortified Life; and call this Affecta­tion, and Popularity, and Pharisaism, and [Page 148] charge them with carrying on some world­ly and secular Designs under the Masque and Disguise of Religion. Now I gran [...] this may be done, and sometimes it may be visible enough, as it was in the Phari­sees; but to charge any Man with this, without some plain and manifest Indicati­on of it, is to judge their Hearts, when we know nothing of them.

Nay, to charge Men with the utmost possible Guilt, even of their bad Actions, is to judge their Hearts; for it is to say, that they have done such a wicked A­ction with all the internal Wickedness of Heart and Mind, which such an Action can be committed with; which no Man can say without judging the Heart.

The same wicked Action may be the effect either of Ignorance or of Knowledge, of Rashness and Surprize, or of mature and deliberate Counsel, of habitual Wick­edness, or of some accidental Temptati­on, of our own free Choice, or the Per­swasions of Friends, and the Inticements of our Companions, and the Prevalency of Shame or Fear; now this makes a vast difference in the Guilt and Sin, and if the same Action may have different degrees of Guilt, we must charge it with no more than what is visible, unless we will un­dertake [Page 149] to judge the Secrets of Hearts.

Thus to charge a Man with acting a­gainst his Conscience, when he himself de­clares a full satisfaction in what he does; or to say, that he only pretends Consci­ence, when it is nothing but Humour, or Pride and Popularity, or Interest and Po­liticks, is to judge Mens Hearts; for these things are not to be known without know­ing Mens Hearts: There may be great Symptoms, and strong Presumptions, that some Men have no Conscience at all, or no regard to it; for those who in the ge­neral course of their Lives govern them­selves by no Rule, are ridiculous when they pretend Conscience in any thing; but those who in their other Actions shew, that they are Men of Conscience, ought to be believed, when they pretend Con­science, unless there be manifest Evidence to the contrary.

All these things belong to the Judge­ment of God, who will judge the Secrets of Mens Hearts by the Gospel of Christ, but we are not concerned to judge of them; for it serves no good end, but does very great Mischief to the World.

All the Ends of Humane Government both in Church and State, may be attain­ed without this; for Humane Govern­ments [Page 150] do not pretend to judge Me [...] Thoughts and Hearts, any otherwise than as they are declared in Words and Acti­ons, and some very plain and significant Circumstances, which betray and speak their Intentions and Designs: Humane Go­vernments take notice only of what ap­pears, and this is sufficient to secure the external Purity of the Church, and to preferve Justice and good Order in the State; but the Mischief of judging Mens Thoughts and Hearts, is chiefly seen in private Conversation.

How often does this dissolve the most intimate Friendships, and beget mortal Quarrels, that Men read each others Thoughts and Hearts in their Actions, and very often read very false, and di­rectly contrary to the sence of the Ori­ginal: when an indiscreet Word or Acti­on is interpreted a designed Affront, an [...] a careless or forgetful Neglect is though [...] a Contempt; when an intended Kindness miscarries, and proves an Injury, and is then thought to be intended so; it is easi­ly observed, that meer Actions anger no Man, and make no Quarrel; for we ca [...] easily bear with that from one whom we believe our Friend, which we will not bear with from a Stranger, or a supposed [Page 151] Enemy or Rival; but when Men appre­hend a thing ill intended, then they take it ill; that is, they judge Mens Hearts and Intentions, which they cannot see, and which they often mistake, and that makes the Quarrel.

Another Mischief of this judging is, that many times the most exemplary Vertue is greatly discouraged, and the most useful Men eclipsed, and made un­serviceable to the World: when the most conspicuous Piety, and Devotion, and Charity is accused of Pride, Ambition, Popularity, or some other base and low Design, it makes such good Men afraid of appearing Good, to avoid the suspici­on of being Vain and Wicked; it makes their Examples useless to the World; for Men will be afraid to imitate them, when they who set the Example, get nothing but an ill Name by it: It makes some Men think that all Religion is a Cheat, and has nothing but this World at the bottom, when the more zealous Men ap­pear in doing good, the more they are suspected of Hypocrisie, and worldly De­signs.

And thus on the other hand, (as we know Mankind are very partial in their Affections) when t [...]ose who do very [Page 152] wicked Actions, shall still be thought good Men, and maintain their Reputation in the World, as having the root of the mat­ter in them, though they are not without their Failings; this makes Men believe, that they may be good, and yet live wick­edly, if they do but take care of their Hearts; and they can easily perswade themselves, that their Hearts are very good.

It were easie to reckon up a great ma­ny Mischiefs of this judging Mens Hearts, especially when Censures fall upon the Ministers of Religion, whick weakens their Authority, and Counsels, and Ex­amples, and Reproofs; which was the Case of St. Paul himself, who it seems was censured on all hands, but Appeals from Man's Judgment to the Judgment of God, With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judge­ment: yea, I judge not myself. For I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby ju­stified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart: and then shall every man have praise of God, 1 Cor. 4.3, 4, 5.

[Page 153]Let us then judge of Mens Actions ac­cording to those Rules of Good and Evil, which the Gospel has given us, but leave their Hearts to God, who alone knows the Secrets of Hearts, and who alone can judge them; this is God's Prerogative, and it is Presumption in us to intermeddle with it, and worse then that, it is very dangerous too, with respect to our own Account at the last Judgment▪ as our Sa­viour tells us, 7 Matth. 1.2. Iudge not, that ye be not judged: For with what judg­ment ye judge, ye shall be judge, and with what measure ye meet, it shall be measured unto you again. So that if we will judge we ought to be favourable and charitable in our Judgment, if we defire to be judg­ed favourably by God: and I believe there is none of us but will confess, that we stand in need of a very favourable Judgment; that God should make great Allowances for the Weakness, Ignorance, Folly, Mistakes, Inadvertencies, Surprizes, Temptations of Humane Nature; and if we are so far from making any favoura­ble Allowances for the Miscarriages of our Brethren, that we search into their very Hearts and Thoughts, to find some­thing to quarrel with; either to aggra­vate visible Faults, or to turn appearing [Page 154] and visible Vertues into Faults; what may we expect from the Just and Righteous Judge of the World? It is a known Rule of Righteousness, To do as we would be done to; and all Mankind think it very just, to suffer what we do, to receive the same measure we mete to others; and therefore we may make a Law to our selves, and by a severe, rigorous, uncha­ritable Judgment of Men, make God, not an Unjust, but yet a Severe and Rigorous Judge of us; And if he be severe to mar [...] what we have done amiss, who can stand be­fore him?

2dly, As we must not judge Mens Hearts and Thoughts, much less must we judge their final State; to condemn them to e­ternal Miseries, or to advance them to e­ternal Glories, as we please: for this is to pre-judge the Judgment of God, and to prescribe to him, whom he shall save, and whom he shall damn, by our own byaft and partial Affections. It becomes us to take care of our own Accounts, and to leave other Men to the merciful Judge­ment of God: it is an argument of a ve­ry ill temper of Mind, when Men are ha­sty and froward in pronouncing the Sen­tence of Damnation against others; it [Page 155] looks as if they had a mind such Men should be damned; as if they would di­rect God what to do, least he should be too merciful: It is enough for us to con­sider what the Terms of Salvation are, which the Gospel has proposed to us, and to take care to perform these Terms our selves; whether other Men have perform­ed them or not, is none of our business to judge; that God will do, when he comes to judge the World: But all pious and charitable Christians, who consider what it is to be Damned, are very unwilling to pronounce this Sentence upon any Man.

Our Church has been extreamly blam­ed by some Men, for that Charity she has expressed in her Office of Burial, towards all that die in her Communion, when she teaches us to pray, We meekly beseech Thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of Sin, unto the life of Righteousness, that when we shall depart this Life, we may rest in Him, as our hope is, this our Bro­ther doth. And yet it may be the Person then buried, is known to have lived a ve­ry wicked and profligate Life; And how can we express our hope of the Salvation of such a Man?

Now the truth is, our Church never intended this Office of Burial for Men of [Page 156] profligate Lives, no more than she intend­ed, that such Men should live and die in her Communion; for this Office is only for those who die in the Communion of the Church; and were Church-Discipline duely exercised, all such notorious Sinners must have been flung out of Church-Com­munion: And those who raise the Cla­mour about this, have been one great Hin­drance of exercising Discipline, having weakened the Power and Authority of the Church by their Schisms and Facti­ons: but taking things as they are, I con­fess I can see no Impiety in it, nor any such mighty Fault as is pretended. The Church does not pretend to judge any Man's final State, how wicked soever his Life was, that is God's Work, and she leaves them to him; and what great Fault is it to hope well, when we cant pretend to know enough of the worst os Men, especially of the end and conclusi­on of their Lives, to pass a final Sentence on them? There are a great many de­grees of Hope, and one degree but the next remove from Despair; that is, but the next remove from pronouncing Dam­nation against them; and if we must not do that, we may say, we hope still: Sup­pose our Hope be no more than a chari­table [Page 157] Wish, how can that offend God, that we wish well even to very bad Men? an excess of Charity, an Unwillingness that any Man should be eternally miserable, is no Fault; I am sure it is a greater to pro­nounce the final Sentence of Damnation against any Man.

But it is said, that this encourages his wicked Companions, who attend his Fu­neral, to hope they may be saved too, though they persist in their Wickedness to the last, as he did; now indeed what little matters may encourage such Men in sin, I cannot say, but there is no reason, that a faint and charitable Wish should do this: If they know the Gospel of Christ, they know that He has threatened eter­nal Damnation against all impenitent Sin­ners; if they know the Doctrine of the Church, they know she teaches the very same thing; if they saw their wicked Companion die, they saw his dying Hor­rors and Agonies too, which few of them die without, if they have any time to con­sider their State; and when they know and see all this, is there any reason to hope they shall be saved in their Wick­edness, only because the Church will not damn them, but reserves them to the Judgment of God, and sends her charit­able [Page 158] Wishes after them? at least this can be no Encouragement, when they are fore­warned before hand of it, which is the chief reason, why I take notice of it at this time.

Upon the same Principle, I am not a­shamed to own, I have always been a­verse to that Dispute about the Salvation of Heathens; for this is to set in Judge­ment on three parts of the World; and I am not the Judge of the World, nor of any part of it; and yet I know not, what Character and Censures this plain Confes­sion may bring upon me; for some Men do as peremptorily Damn all the Heathen World, as if it were an Article of their Creed, and think all those Enemies to the Grace of Christ, who do not: but for my part I dare neither damn nor save them, for I know nothing of the matter.

By what Rule God will Judge the Hea­then World, I cannot tell: St. Paul tells us, As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, 2 Rom. 12. And there is the same reason as to the Gospel too, that those who never heard of the Gospel, shall be judged without the Gospel; and who can tell, what this signifies? what [Page 159] mighty Allowances God may make for their invincible Ignorances, and the un­happy Circumstances of their Education? who can tell, how little God will accept from those to whom he has given little? I am sure our Saviour tells us, To whom­soever much is given, of him shall be much required; and to whom men have commit­ted much, of him they will ask the more, 12 Luke 48. Which by a parity of Rea­son supposes, that where God has given little he requires little. St. Paul seems to intimate a very favourable Judgment, which such Men shall have, and a vast difference that God makes between the times of Pagan Ignorance, and the Light of the Gospel, The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every-where to repent, because he hath appointed a day, &c. 17 Acts 30, 31. where God's winking at the Times of Ig­norance must signifie, that he is not so severe and curious an Observer of their Actions, not so strict to mark what is a­miss, nor so rigorous in exacting punish­ment as he will be now. They are in the hands of God, and there we ought to leave them, with this general perswasion, That God will be very just, and very merciful in judging them; and this eases [Page 160] my mind of a great many troublesome thoughts. I know not what pleasure o­ther Men take in it, but it is terrible to me, when I consider, what eternal Dam­nation is, to think, that so much the great­est part of the World, who never had the Means and Opportunities of Salvation, as we have, shall be eternally damned: I dare judge nothing, but that great love I have for Mankind, inclines me to hope better for them, (as far as the circumstances of their Condition will admit of a favoura­ble Judgment;) and that strong perswa­sion I have of the Justice and Goodness of God inclines me to believe better of him; for so I am apt to think, that the merci­ful side of the question is most agreeable to the Divine Justice and Goodness.

Such another curious Question is that about the Salvation of Infants, who di [...] before they know good or evil; especial­ly the Children of Heathen Parents: now it is certain, they have no Legal and Co­venant Title to Salvation; nor have they any thing of their own to answer for, but that Original Guilt they contracted by their Birth: now God has not told us, how he will judge these Infants, nor are we con­cerned to know.

[Page 161]The Infants of Christian Parents indeed have a Covenant-Title to Salvation, for the promise is made to us and our children; and to say, That such Children dying af­ter Baptism, before they have committed a­ny actual Sin, shall certainly be saved, is not an Act of Judgment, but only a de­claring the Vertue and Efficacy of Baptis­mal Grace and Regeneration; that the Grace of Baptism will save those who do not afterwards forfeit this Grace by wilful Sins: and therefore if the Children of Christian Parents have a Right to Baptism, they have a Right to the Salvation of Bap­tism; and if they die before they have forfeited this Right by their own Act, they must be saved: And to deny this, is to de­ny the Vertue and Efficacy of Baptism to Salvation; and that I am sure is to deny, or to lessen the Gospel-Grace.

The sum is, God is the Judge of the World, and we must leave Men to the Judgment of God, and judge nothing be­fore the time, nor disturb our thoughts with some curious Questions, how God will judge the World; we certainly know how we shall be judged, even by the Go­spel of our Saviour, and therefore ought to take care to prepare our Accounts: but how those shall be judged, who never [Page 162] heard of the Gospel, we know not, and are not concerned to know; but if we will be judging, we ought to judge very charitably, because as I observed before, With what judgment we judge, we shall be judged, and with what measure we mete, it shall be measured unto us again.

But before I dismiss this Argument, I cannot but take notice of some great and visible Mischiefs of this judging Mens final State, whether we damn or save them:

1. As first for Damning, especially when we damn them by whole-sale, as the Church of Rome damns all Hereticks; and as others with as much Charity damn all Papists and Malignants, or whoever they are pleased to vote for Hereticks Now what the effect of this is, is visible to all the World: It destroys not only Christian Love and Charity, but even common Humanity; when Men have vo­ted one another damned, and believe God will damn those whom they have adjudg­ed to Damnation, then they are the Ene­mies of God, and they think they do God good service to destroy them: God hates them, and therefore they think it a sin in them, to love those whom God hates, or [Page 163] to have any pitty or compassion for those whom God will damn. And thus they burn Hereticks, or cut their Throats, or Confiscate their Estates, and drive them out from among them, and treat them with all the Barbarity and Indignities which a damning Zeal and Fury can in­vent. All other Villanies may meet with some Pitty and Charity, but Charity is Lukewarmness and want of Zeal in God's Cause; there is no Fire burns so furious­ly, nor so outragiously consumes as that which is kindled at God's Alter. And thus the Christian Church is turned into a great Shambles, and stained with the Blood of Humane, nay of Christian Sa­crifices: though were they in the right, that God would damn these Men, whom they have damned, why should they think Patience and Forbearance, a greater Fault in them then it is in God, who beareth with much long suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction? Why are they so unmerciful as to hurry away these poor Wretches immediately to Hell, when God is contented to let them live on; to let the Tares and the Wheat grow up toge­ther till the Harvest? Why do they envy them the short and perishing Content­ments of this Life, when they are to suf­fer [Page 164] an Eternity of Misery? Methinks it should satisfie the most implacable Hatred to know, that they must be miserable for ever, though their Miseries should be ad­journed for some few Years: but if this be the Effect of damning Men, you may guess that the Cause is not very good; though an uncharitable Judgment will hurt no Body, but themselves, yet it is of dan­gerous consequence, when such rash Judges will be as hasty Executioners too.

2. Though the effects of saving Men, and voting them to Heaven, be not so Tra­gical as those of damning them, yet this has its Mischiefs too; when any Party of Men have voted themselves the only true Church, wherein Salvation is to be had, or the only Saints and Elect People of God, then all who will be saved must herd with them; and most Men think it e­nough to secure their Salvation, to get in­to their Number: Thus the Church of Rome frightens Men into her Communion by threatning Damnation against all who are out of that Church; and this recon­ciles Men to all their Superstitions and I­dolatries for fear of Damnation, and en­courages them in all manner of Looseness and Debauchery, when they ar [...] got into [Page 165] a Church, which can save them: and it has much the same effect, when Men list themselves with any Party, where they hope to be saved for Company, while all the rest of Mankind, even those who pro­fess the Faith of Christ, are no better then the World, and the Ungodly and Repro­bates, who tho' they may have more Mo­ral Vertues then some others, yet have no Grace.

And the mischief of this encreases, when Men are Sainted after death: Had it not been for this Trick, the Church of Rome had had very few Saints to Worship, none but the Virgin Mary and the A­postles, whom they might certainly con­clude to be in Heaven; but as for their other Saints, who were the great Foun­ders and Examples of their Superstition, they are Saints of their own making, just as the Heathens made their Gods; and it is the Stories and Legends of these Saints, which support the Superstition of the Church of Rome; for who dares que­stion the Examples of those who are ca­nonized Saints in Heaven? Hac arte Pol­lux, & vagus Hercules innixus, arces at­tigit igneas.

And there are another sort of Men, who are not behind-hand with them in [Page 166] this, who have a great many more Saints than the Church of Rome, though they don't pray to them; who send great shoals to Heaven, especially if they have been zealous for promoting a Party, which hides all other Faults, and sanctifies very doubt­ful Actions; and how powerful must the Example of such Saints be to ex­cite others to an imitation of their Ver­tues.

In a word, when we pretend to send Men to Heaven, we make them our Rules and Examples; we hope to go to Heaven with all the Faults they had; and those who knew them, possibly knew a great many: what they were eminent for, we conclude were great Vertues, and fit for our imitation, tho' otherwise of a doubt­ful and suspicious Nature.

There is not a more dangerous thing than to make any Man our Rule and Ex­ample, and yet that we necessarily do, when we send him to Heaven; for who would not think himself safe in imitating those whom he believes to be in Heaven? And if we consider, at what rate both the Church of Rome, and others make Saints, we must needs be sensible, how infinitely dangerous this is to Mens Souls.

[Page 167]To conclude this Head: Let us judge charitably of all Men, and hope well ac­cording to the different reasons we have to hope, but let us leave their final State to God, neither peremptorily damn nor save them: it is to be feared, that Hu­mane Judgment has sent many Men to Heaven, who will never get thither; and to be hoped, that many Men shall meet with a more favourable Sentence in the next World, than they do in this. God is the Judge of the World, and he will certainly judge us, and there is no Incon­venience in staying till the Day of Judge­ment, to see what Mens final Sentence shall be, but very great Mischief in pro­nouncing a rash and hasty Judgment our selves.

SECT. VIII. Fourth Inference: To refer all Difficulties to the Day of Iudgment.

IV. IF God will Judge the World, let us refer all Difficulties to the Day of Judgment. It must be confessed, that there are very great Difficulties in Provi­dence, such as the wisest Men cannot un­derstand; and I can by no means say it is a Fault, for Men to search into Provi­dence, and to be very inquisitive into the reasons of it; for what can more become a reasonable Creature then to study the Works of God? and what Works more worth our study, then the Divine Provi­dence, and the wonderful Mysteries of God's governing the World?

But the Difficulty is to set Bounds to the Curiosity of Mankind, to teach them to study Providence with the Modesty of Creatures, and with the just Reverence which we owe to God, whose Wisdom is infinite and unsearchable; to be content­ed to discover what we can, to admire and adore the Wisdom, and Goodness, and Justice of Providence in what is plain; and there is enough plain to exercise our devout Meditations, to be matter of our [Page 169] Praise and Thanksgivings, anda sure foun­dation of our Trust in God.

And this wise and good Men are con­tented with; but most Men take least no­tice of what is plain, as if that were of no use, and not worth notice, but puzle their thoughts, and lose themselves in those vast Depths and Abysses which no Humane Un­derstanding can fathom: To Correct this Miscarriage would do great service to Re­ligion, would give great peace and satis­faction to Mens minds, and prevent a great many scandalous Disputes about the Di­vine Providence: and therefore if I dis­course this a little more at large, then my present Argument requires, I hope it will be no great Fault. Now to set Bounds to our Curiosity, and to make us Modest in our Inquiries into Providence, I shall shew you,

  • I. How dangerous it is to search too narrowly into the Secrets of Provi­dence.
  • II. How unreasonable it is to disturb our Minds with such Difficulties as we cannot answer.
  • [Page 170]III. That what cannot be known in this World, it is time enough for us to know in the World to come.
  • IV. That we have all the reason in the World to believe, that what we can­not know in this World, will be made very plain and easie at the Day of Judgment.

I. As for the first, How dangerous such curious Inquiries into Providence are, this is plain in the evil Effects of it:

1. For first, this either makes Men A­theists, or at least is made a pretence to justifie Atheism. The Natural Notion all Men have of God is, That he is an infi­nitely Wise, and Good, and Just, and Pow­erful Being: now when Men observe such things, either in the Make or Frame of the World, or in the Conduct and Go­vernment of it, as they cannot reconcile with the Notions they have of Wisdom and Justice, and Goodness, they presently conclude, that there is no God, or that he is nothing to them, that he neither made nor governs the World.

[Page 171]This indeed is a very rash and hasty Conclusion, to deny the Being of God, because we cannot find out God to Per­fection; when we must confess, that it is impossible for a finite Understanding to comprehend all the reasons of an infinite Mind: but thus it must be, when Men wont be contented to be ignorant of any thing, nor permit God to do what they can't understand, but will have a reason of every thing God does, or will not al­low him to be God: A modest Inquirer sees enough in the Works of Creation and Providence, to satisfie him, that the World was made, and is governed by a wise Be­ing; but those who think themselves wise enough to make and govern a World, a great deal better then this World is made and governed, or are upon other accounts averse to the Belief of a God, and have a mind to quarrel with him; take no no­tice of what is wise and good, and proves God to be infinitely Wise, and infinitely Good, tho' they cannot open their eyes without seeing a thousand such instances of Wisdom and Goodness; but imploy the little Wit they have to find Faults, and account every thing they can't understand a Fault. This is such irreverence to God, such Presumption and Arrogance, and such [Page 172] Impiety, that they seem to be Atheists first, and then to quarrel with God's Works to find out some Pretence to de­ny his Being: it is certain, whoever in­dulges himself in this, has in a great mea­sure lost his Reverence for God, and A­theism is a natural consequence and just punishment of that; and such a terrible punishment it is, as should make us afraid of being over-curious in matters so far a­bove us.

2. If this does not make us Atheists, yet it is apt to give us very wrong Noti­ons concerning God, which is a very great Evil, next to Atheism itself.

This we know tempted some Men to assert two Principles, or two Gods, a good and a bad God; for when they observed such a mixture of Good and Evil in the Nature of Things, they thought it impos­sible, that a good God should be the Au­thor of so much Evil as is in the World; and because they could not answer this Difficulty, nor give an account how a good God should make and govern the World, and yet there be so much Evil and Wickedness in it; they concluded that there was a bad God, who was the Author of all the Evil in the World, and a good [Page 173] God of all the Good. But this starts a much more unaccountable Difficulty, how a good and a bad God should agree toge­ther in making and governing the World: for can any thing be more opposite to each other, than essential Good and essen­tial Evil? They can never agree, and therefore they must be either equal in power, or must destroy each other; if they be equal, neither of them are Om­nipotent, for two Omnipotents is a Con­tradiction; and then neither one nor both could make the World, which is a Work of Omnipotence: At least since it is im­possible they should agree togther to make a World; as impossible, as that essential Goodness should consent to any thing that is evil; or essential Evil consent to any thing that is good: they must necessarily hinder each other in making the World, if their power were equal; and then the World had never been made. But I shall not trouble you with the Confutation of this, but only point you to the Source and Origine of this Mischief, which in its Con­sequence overthrows all Religion.

Others to ease themselves of these Dif­ficulties of reconciling all the Passages of Providence to God's Wisdom and Justice, set them both aside, and resolve all into [Page 174] God's Arbitrary and Soveraign Will and Pleasure; who makes himself, and the ad­vancement of his own Glory his sole end. They lay it down indeed as an agreed Principle, That all that God does is wise, and good, and just; but we must not ex­amine this by Humane Rules and Mea­sures of Goodness and Justice; for God is an Absolute Soveraign, and unaccounta­ble to his Creatures; his Will is the Rule of Justice, and he wills what is most for his own Glory; he magnifies his Good­ness and Grace in a free and arbitrary Kindness to some of his Creatures; and magnifies his Justice in as free and arbi­trary Severities to others: he makes some Creatures to be the Objects of his Love, and others to be the Objects of his Ven­geance and Displeasure: and thus they cut the Knot which they can't untie.

But this is a greater Difficulty then all the rest, to a considering Man, who would much rather chuse to give no account of the Divine Providence, then to give so ill an account of the Nature of God: Arbi­trary Will and Power is the very worst Notion we can have of God; it destroys our Love to him, and our Hope and Con­fidence in him, unless we can fancy him, as partial to us as we are to ourselves; [Page 175] it turns Religion into a superstitious Dread of God, or Hypocritical Flatteries; de­stroys the Notions of Good and Evil, or all regard to them, while we think God takes no notice of them himself.

This may satisfie us, how dangerous it is to be too inquisitive into the Misteries of Providence, which God hath thought fit to conceal from us; which should make us careful to keep our distance, and humbly to reverence and adore God, and trust his Wisdom beyond our own Under­standing of things; and in order to Cure this Curiosity, consider,

II. How unreasonable it is to disturb our Minds with such Difficulties of Pro­vidence, as we cannot answer; or to draw any such Conclusions from it, as shall ei­ther shake our Faith as to the Being or Providence of God, or corrupt our Noti­ons of Him; and there are two things which may satisfie any Man in this:

1st, That there are a great many things which are called Difficulties, which may be very fairly accounted for; and there­fore the difficulty is not in the things, but owing to our want of Understanding; which is reason enough to presume, that [Page 176] thus it may be in other cases too, since as Mens Knowledge increases, so the Diffi­culties of Providence lessen; which should make us never quarrel at Providence, but bewail our own Ignorance, and grow mo­dest under a sence of it.

2dly, That in such matters as we can give no account of, there may be plain Reasons assigned why no account can be given of them in this World:

1. As for the first, it is easie to give many Instances of it: There are many things which Mankind greatly complain of, and for which they think themselves very hardly used by God, which upon a true Estimate of things, considering the corrupt State of Humane Nature, are great­ly for the Happiness of the World; and though they were inflicted as Punishments by God, yet have an excellent tempera­ment of Wisdom and Goodness.

This I have formerly shewed you, as to that Sentence of Death, which God pro­nounced against Mankind, after the Fall of our first Parents,Practical Discourse of Death. Ch. 2. Sect. 1. Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return; and as to his short­ning the Lives of Men after the Flood; and I shall now give another Instance in [Page 177] that Curse God pronounced upon the Earth for the Sin of Man, to which we owe most of that Pain, and Toyl, and La­bour which is under the Sun, and most of the Miseries and Calamities of Hu­mane Life: and if in this also the Wis­dom and Goodness as well as the Justice and Severity of God appears, I hope it will convince us, how reasonable it is to be modest in our Censures of Providence, and to conclude, that God is equally wise and good in those things which we do not understand.

The Justice of this is very evident: for when Man who was the Lord of the Creation, had rebelled against God, it was very just for God to punish him; and the most proper Punishment which he could inflict on him, next to his own Mortali­ty, was to Curse those Creatures which were made for his use and delight: as God told Adam, when he had eaten the forbidden Fruit, Because thou hast heark­ened to the voice of thy wife, and eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In [Page 178] the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread, until thou return to the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, 3 Gen. 17. For I need not tell you, this Curse upon the Ground was no punishment to the Ground, which was sensible of no hurt, but to Man, who was to live upon it; it defaced the Beauty and Glory of the Cre­ation, and entailed a toilsome and painful Life on him; it made his Food less whol­some, and more hard to come by: and whereas all Creatures before were in per­fect subjection to Man, according to the grand Character of the Creation, Have d [...] ­minion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth on the earth, 1 Gen. 28. Now we find by experience that they have cast off this Yoke, and very often revenge the Quarrel of their Maker upon apostate Man. Thus Man fell from the Glory and Happiness of his Nature; and yet if we wisely consider things, we shall find ex­cellent Wisdom and Goodness even in this Curse.

For Man having corrupted himself, the best State he could be put into, was an in­dustrious and laborious Life; to force him to work hard to get his living, and to earn [Page 179] his Bread with the sweat of his Brows, which was the necessary and immediate Effect of God's cursing the Ground; that whereas before the Earth would have sup­plied Man with all things for his Necessi­ty and Delight, without his care and la­bour, now it would not yield its Increase of itself, but brought forth Briars and Thorns. And as difficult a State as this is, it was very fit for fallen Man:

1. A laborious Life is of great use to subdue the fleshly Principle, and to pre­vent the opportunities, and occasions, and temptations to Sin. The experience of the World tells us, that nothing more corrupts Mens Manners than Idleness, the Flesh grows rampant with Sloth and Lux­ury; and Time it self is so uneasie and troublesome when we have nothing to do, that Men rather chuse to be wicked then to be idle: and therefore God who fore­saw the Degeneracy of Mankind by the Fall, hath provided work for us, that with the sweat of our Brow we must eat our Bread.

2. This does not only imploy the Bo­dies, but the Minds of Men: Puts them upon the study of Philosophy, and the in­vention of Arts and Sciences; upon ob­serving the Works of Nature, and Depen­dence [Page 180] of Causes and Effects; to observe the Motions of the Heaven, the Sun, and Moon, and Planets, thereby to know the Seasons of the Year, and to fix the time of their return; it is this Necessity to which we owe the most useful Discove­ries in Nature, which is not only very be­neficial to the World, but a very delight­ful Entertainment, and the most natural Ornament and Perfection of our Minds.

3. The Necessities of Humane Life are the foundation of Humane Societies, and make Men combine together for mutual Help and Comfort: for though Man is a sociable Creature, and delighted with Hu­mane Conversation, yet in this degene­rate State, nothing is a greater endear­ment than our mutual Dependence upon each other, that we cannot live single and apart, because we want a great many things which the Skill and Labour of o­ther Men must supply us with.

Now this obliges us to the exercise of all friendly and sociable Vertues; brings us under Government, without which Hu­mane Societies cannot subsist; and this lays great Restraints upon the Lusts of Men, and by a strict Discipline trains them up to the practice of Moral Vertues, which is a good means to correct the Degenera­cy [Page 181] of Humane Nature; it inspires us with Principles of Love and Humanity, of Ju­stice and Charity, and softens and polishes our Natures by the mutual Endearments of Conversation; it makes us Friends to Mankind; gives us a sence of Injuries, and an Abhorrence of them; and which is more then this, it gives publick Counte­nance and Encouragement to Religion; for Publick Government must encourage Religion, because Religion is its greatest Defence and Support; and this makes some Men sincerely Religious and Devout, and forces some external signs of Honour from those who have little sence or reve­rence of a Deity, which though it does no good to them, is for the advantage of the World.

So that this Curse in the necessary Con­sequences of it, is the greatest Blessing to Mankind, which is an abundant Justifica­tion of the Wisdom and Goodness of God in it. A more easie State of Life did bet­ter become a State of Innocence; but since the Fall, such an easie, careless, un­concerned Life, would have sunk him low­er into Sensuality, and made his Recovery more desperate and hopeless.

It were easie to give many Instances of this nature, to justifie the Divine Wisdom [Page 182] and Goodness in such passages of Provi­dence, as seem very harsh and severe to us; but this may suffice at present to make us modest in our Censures of Pro­vidence, and not to perplex our Minds with such Difficulties as we cannot un­riddle.

2. Especially if we add, That there is a plain and evident Reason, why we can­not, and never shall be able to under­stand a great many Difficulties of Provi­dence in this World, and therefore ought not to censure the Divine Providence, be­cause we cannot in all cases comprehend the reasons of it. As for instance:

We are very ignorant of Men, and therefore can never be able to give an account of GOD's Providence towards them: we can in general justifie the Di­vine Providence both as to the Afflictions and Sufferings of good Men, and the Pro­sperity of the wicked; but when we de­scend to particulars, we are at a loss; why such a good Man is a great Suffer­er, and another good Man prosperous; why such a bad Man reaps the just Re­wards of his Villanies in this World, while another Man, equally bad, escapes, and prospers by his Wickedness. We cannot know this, because we do not sufficient­ly [Page 183] know Men. We may mistake those for good Men, who are secret Hypocrites, and carry on wicked Designs under a Masque of Religion; and then when we complain, that such a good Man suffers, God may be very just in punishing an Hypocrite. We know not what the se­cret Distempers of good Men are, which may require a severe Remedy; nor what good there may be even in bad Men, which may make their Recovery hope­ful, and make it reasonable for God to spare.

Thus we know not how particular Mens Interests are interwoven with each other, or with the Publick, which may make it reasonable for God to spare, or to punish them, upon more accounts then their own; for good Men may suffer in the Sufferings of the wicked, and be bles­sed in their Prosperity: The Sufferings of good Men, and the Prosperity of the wicked, may be of publick use to the World; and it is very just and reasona­ble in the wise Governour of the World, to make the Interests of private Men sub­ordinate to a publick Good. But when this is necessary, we know not, and there­fore are very incompetent Judges of the Divine Providence: Nay, we see but a [Page 184] very little part of God's Providence to­wards particular Men; but a Scene or two of their Lives, or it may be but a little piece of a Scene, and therefore it is impossible we should make a true Judge­ment of God's Providence towards them, the Beauty of which consists in the pro­portion of Parts, and adapting every thing to the end it serves. The History of I [...] ­seph taken altogether, is a Demonstration of God's tender Care of him, though there were some doleful Scenes of his Life; the hard Usage he met with from his Bre­thren, who sold him for a Slave into AE­gypt; and from a wicked Mistress there, whose false Accusations condemned him to a Jaol, from whence God raised him to Pharoah's Throne. There are very few Men can make any Objection against the Divine Providence, with respect to themselves, because they know themselves, and the several stages of their Lives, what good and evil they have done, and what they have deserved, and what they have received from God; which is a good Ar­gument, that we should find as little to ex­cept against the Providence of God to o­ther Men also, did we know them as per­fectly as we know ourselves.

[Page 185]III. As for what cannot be known in this World, it is time enough for us to know it in the World to come.

Indeed this knowledge is not fit for us in this World; it is not fit we should know one another so perfectly, as is ne­cessary to vindicate every passage of God's Providence towards other Men; for this would be to have a Casement into each o­thers Breasts, to understand all the Intri­gues and Secrets of Families; and were it put to our own choice, I am apt to think, we should rather be contented to be ig­norant of a great many things, than to be so well known our selves to all the World.

Nor is it fitting in this state, that we should so perfectly understand all the Se­crets of the Divine Counsel, for what rea­son he afflicts or prospers private Men, or publick Societies, as is necessary to make a Judgment of the Divine Provi­dence: One great Mystery of Govern­ment is to conceal Counsels; and this is the Glory of the Divine Providence, by dark and misterious Methods to bring about glorious Designs, to surprize the World with unexpected Blessings, or un­seen [Page 186] seen Evils, to keep them in constant awe and dependence on himself.

And then, of what use is it to us to be able to give a reason of every particular Passage of Providence; we have nothing to do to sit in Judgment upon God; and therefore if we know enough to be a stea­dy Foundation of our Faith and Hope, we know all that is needful in this Life: God does not intend to gratifie our Curiosity, or our Scepticism: we must not perfect­ly know God in this World, for we must live by Faith here, which supposes an im­perfect Knowledge; but perfect Sight and Knowledge is the Reward and Happiness of Heaven.

It is the last Act, which explains the whole Plot, the rest is Amuzement and Surprize, and therefore the proper time to understand the whole Mystery of Pro­vidence is, when all is finished: When God puts an end to this World, he will think fit to display that infinite variety of Wisdom and Goodness, which governed the World from the beginning to the end.

IV. And this we may expect to un­derstand at the Day of Judgment; for I know no other reason, why God should [Page 187] in so solemn a manner Judge the World, but to justifie the Wisdom, and Justice, and Goodness of his Providence to all his Crea­tures.

God does not thus publickly Judge the World to inquire into Mens Lives, and A­ctions, and Deserts, which is the reason of Humane Judgments, to convict Sinners by Witnesses and Evidences, and to inform the Judge in Matters of Fact; but God per­fectly knows us all, and every Man's Con­science is a Witness against himself, that God might without any farther Solemni­ty adjudge every Man to his proper Place and Reward: but he consults his own Glory in this, and summons all his Crea­tures together, that Men and Angels may understand, and be Witnesses of his Mer­cy and Justice.

Now it is impossible God should justi­fie his Providence without expounding the Reasons of it; and therefore then we may expect to understand the Case of the fal­len Angels, which now we know nothing of, and all the Passages and various Scenes of Providence from the Fall of Adam till the end of the World: then the State of Nations, of Kingdoms, of Churches, and of private Men, will be explained; the [Page 188] Secrets of Hearts will be disclosed, a [...]d the hidden Works of Darkness brought to light.

Let us then stay till this Day come [...] ▪ when God will justifie his Providence a­gainst all the Reproaches and evil Sur­mizes of Men, for he will appear just when he judgeth, and overcome when [...] contendeth. Let us not disturb our He [...] with such Difficulties as we cannot un­derstand now; we know enough to be­lieve, that God is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works; enough to mak [...] us devout Worshippers of God: and t [...] enquire farther, is a dangerous Curiosity▪ like looking into the Ark of God.

SECT. IX. [...]ifth Inference: To affect our Souls with a strong, and vigorous, and constant Sence of Iudgment.

V. SInce it is certain, that GOD will Judge the World, let us endea­vour by all means possible, to affect our Souls with a strong, and vigorous, and constant Sence of Judgment: The Belief of a Future Judgment is worth little when it ends in Speculation; the use of it is to govern our Lives, and to prepare us to give a good Account of ourselves to God, since we know that he will demand an Account of us: but a meer Belief, that we shall be judged, will not do this, un­less we affect our Souls with a Sence of Judgment. The Experience of the World, and our own Experience of ourselves, does sufficiently prove this: we all profess to believe a Future Judgment, and most of us do heartily believe it; and yet there are too many among us, who give little rea­son to the World to think they believe it; who commit those Sins every day, for which they know God will damn them, when they come to Judgment; which, one would think, those who believe they [Page 190] shall be judged, could never do: so [...] a meer Belief of a Future Judgment [...] not govern Mens Lives; but then [...] very Men, when they are awakened [...] a Dread and Fear of Judgment, feel [...] Vertue and Power of it on their Hear [...] it makes them hate their Sins, and [...] themselves for them; it makes them [...] devout and importunate in their P [...] ­ers, very sincere and passionate in their Re­pentance, very resolved to forsake all th [...] Sins, and to live a new Life; and th [...] ­fore if we would have the Belief of a Fu­ture Judgment make us good Men, [...] must not only believe it, but affect o [...] Souls with a great Sence of it; which i [...] true of all the other Arguments and Mo­tives of Religion, as well as of a Futur [...] Judgment.

The proper Enquiry then here is, How we shall awaken and preserve such a po [...] ­erful Sence of Judgment in our Minds:

Now the only general Direction, th [...] can be given is, Frequently to Thin [...] and Meditate on a Future Judgment; fo [...] nothing can affect our Minds but ou [...] Thoughts, which make the Object pre­sent, and give us a near View of it: [...] it is in the Objects of Sence, the Eye af­fects the Heart, and excites and move [...] [Page 191] the Affections more than all the Argu­ments in the World: if we look stedfast­ly upon a terrible and frightful Object, it will strike Terrour into us; if upon a pleasant and beautiful Object, it will ex­cite Love and Delight; if upon a misera­ble Object, it will affect us with a tender Compassion; to see Men in great Want and Misery, will melt and open that Heart which was hardened and shut against all the Arguments and Motives to Charity: and long and frequent Consideration will have much the same effect on us, that Sight has: Judgment is a terrible thing to bad Men, and if they would but seriously think of it, it would terrifie them; if they would but imagine sometimes, that they heard that last-Trumpet sound, which will awaken all-Mankind, and raise them out of their Graves, and summon them to Iudge­ment; that they saw the Son of Man de­scend from Heaven, attended with his migh­ty Angels, to execute Vengeance on all them who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Iesus Christ; that they saw the Earth all in flames about them, and Hell opening her Mouth wide to receive them; that they saw the Books opened, and those Sins recorded which they had forgot, and the Secrets of their Hearts disclosed; [Page 192] and that they heard that terrible Sentence, Go ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels; do y [...] think that any Man, who believes all this, and would suffer himself seriously to think of it, could bear up against the Terrour of it? or that with these Thoughts about him, he could court a Strumpet, or spend his Time in Revels and Excess, or Bl [...] ­spheme God, and Ridicule Religion, or Cheat his Neighbour, or Oppress the Poor and Fatherless, or Forswear himself? No [...] we see this cannot be, as often as we see [...] miserable Sinner whose awakened Consci­ence distracts him with all these Scenes and Images of Terrour.

So that serious Consideration would make a Future Judgment very effectual to govern our Lives, but the great Diffi­culty of all is to bring Men to consider: and yet one would think it impossible, that a reasonable Creature should not consider, that he must be judged: But so it is, and there is no disputing against Experience; and yet it is so dangerous and fatal a Neg­lect, that it concerns us to enquire into the Causes and Remedies of it; for could we Cure this, it would quickly Reform the World, give a new Resurrection to Pi­ety and Vertue, and secure Men from the [Page 193] Danger and Terrours of a Future Judge­ment. Now there are two apparent Cau­ses of this, 1. That the Thoughts of Judgment are very uneasie and trouble­some, and that makes Men afraid and a­verse to think of it. And, 2. that Judg­ment is out of sight, and they have no­thing to mind them of it, and their Thoughts are so taken up with other matters, that they forget it, unless they happen to hear a Sermon about it, or some accidental mention of it; which when they return to their worldly Af­fairs and Business, they quickly forget a­gain.

1st, Men are very apt to avoid all Thoughts of Judgment, because they are very uneasie and troublesome: they star­tle at the mention of it; at least do not love to talk too long, nor think too se­riously of it; for it awakens their Con­sciences, and makes them think what a sad Account they have to give, how many things they have done, and daily do, which they can never answer to God, when he comes to Judgment; and therefore they choose to live quietly, without disturb­ing themselves with such terrifying Re­flections, and the amazing Thoughts of [Page 194] what is to come. Now methinks it is no hard thing to convince thinking Men of the Danger and Folly of this, and to reconcile them to the Thoughts of Judg­ment: For,

1. To drive these Thoughts out of our Minds, though it may give us present ease, yet it will not mend our Accounts, nor prevent our being judged: God will judge us, whether we will think of being judged or not: were no Men to be judg­ed, but those who think of it, there were as much reason to stupifie our Conscien­ces, and never to think of Judgment, as there is for sick Men to take Opiates to sleep away their Pain and their Distem­per together; but this would be thought a very ill Remedy for their present Pain, were they to sleep away their Lives: and yet this is the Remedy these Men choose, to sleep away their Souls; to sleep away the Fears of Judgment, till Judgment a­wakens them and their Fears, never to sleep more.

2. How frightful soever the Thoughts of Judgment are, it will be infinitely more terrible to see and feel it: And there is no way to avoid that terrible Condemnati­on, but by thinking of it; the Fear of Judgment, if once it thoroughly possesses [Page 195] our Souls, will conquer this World, dis­arm all its Terrours, discover its Cheats and Impostures, wash off its Paint and Varnish, pluck off its Vizard and Disguise, it will teach us to fear God, which is the beginning of Wisdom, the Guide of Youth, and the Counsellour of Age; And would not any wise Man rather choose to pre­serve himself from Danger and Misery by fearing it, then to live without Fear, and to perish by his Security? In this World Men love to know and see their Danger, that they may avoid it, how dismal soe­ver the Prospect be; and it is very unac­countable, that Men should choose rather to be damned, then to prevent it by a timely Foresight, and a prudent Fear and Caution.

For, 3. that Fear of Judgment which is necessary to govern our Lives, and to prevent our final Condemnation, is not so amazing and terrifying as these Men ap­prehend it; it is not the Fear of a Man who is going to Execution, but the Fear of Prudence, Caution, and Foresight, which makes Men wise and circumspect, but don't distract them: We have as many Demon­strations of this, as there are Men who govern their Lives under the Fear and Sence of a Future Judgment; are there a­ny [Page 196] Men in the World who live more chearfully than they, who converse more pleasantly with their Friends, and enjoy the Comforts of Life with greater inno­cence and freedom? Do you find any Di­sturbance in their Looks, any symptoms of an uneasie and frighted Imagination? and yet these Men all this while live un­der the constant Awe and Fear of Judge­ment: and therefore the Sence and Fear of Judgment is consistent with a constant Peace and Serenity of Mind.

That which distracts and terrifies Men is not the constant Awe and Sence of Judgment, but the Condemnation of their own guilty Consciences, which threaten the Judgments of God against them; and when Men apprehend themselves a falling into Hell, and fear their Case is hopeless and irrecoverable, it is no wonder if the very Pains of Hell take hold of them; and not being able to bear these Horrors, they silence or stupifie their Consciences with the Noise, and Business, and Diversi­ons, and Pleasures of this Life, and can ne­ver endure to entertain the least Thought of Judgment, and imagine that all who do, live a miserable life, are as melancho­ly and disturbed as they are, when they think of Judgment: but this is a great [Page 197] mistake; it is their Guilt which makes the Thoughts of Judgment so terrible, and their not thinking of Judgment betrayed them to that Guilt, and nothing but a constant Sence of Judgment can now ex­piate their Guilt, and conquer their Fears by Repentance and a new Life: and as terrible as this is for the present, it is more desirable then to be damned. But would Men accustom themselves betimes to the Thoughts of Judgment, and govern their Lives under the sence of it, Judge­ment would never be terrible to them, no more then the Assize is to Men who have an Awe and Reverence for the Justice of their Country, and obey its Laws.

Nay, 4. when we govern our Lives un­der the Awe of a Future Judgment, it is so far from being terrible, that it fills us with great and joyful Hopes; for when God judges the World, he will reward good Men, as well as punish the wicked: and if the Fear of a Future Judgment makes us truly and sincerely good, we shall long for the Day of Judgment, as the Husband-man does for the Harvest; this will be our great Support and Com­fort under all the Calamities of Life, and be a perpetual Spring of the most Sincere and Divine Joys.

[Page 198]This may satisfie us, that there is no reason to be afraid to think of Judgment; that to live under the constant sence of it, as it is the only way to make us truly good Men, so it will deliver us from all guilty Fears, support us under all present Troubles, and delight us with the hope and expectation of glorious Rewards.

2ly, As for those who out of meer Care­lesness and Inconsideration, never think se­riously about a Future Judgment, who im­ploy all their Thoughts about present and sensible Objects, but do not concern them­selves about what is absent and unseen, or think very seldom, and very coldly and transiently of it, it is a Wonder to me, how Men need be put in mind of a matter of such vast concernment and importance to them, as a Future Judgment is: Does not the Happiness of your immortal Souls depend on it? Is it possible to conquer the Temptations of this World, to resist the Solicitations of the Flesh, the Courtship of Riches and Honour, those gilded Vanities of this Life, without remembring, that for all these things God will call us to Judgment? Methinks Men should as soon venture themselves in a rocky and tem­pestuous Sea, without Rudder, or Pilot, [Page 199] or Compass, or Ballast, or Anchor, as to think to pass safe through this World with­out a constant Awe and Sence of a Future Judgment. Such Men are very careless of their Souls, and they must lose them; for they will never get safe to Heaven; they can never give a good account to God when he comes to Judgment, who never think of any account they are to make.

But besides this, as one would think, that a Future Judgment is of that great moment, that no Man, who is at all con­cerned for his future Happiness, could suf­fer it to go out of his Mind; so there is little reason in this case, to complain of want of Monitors; for though we do not see the Judgment-Seat, and all the awful Solemnities of Judgment, and it is impos­sible we should, for it is not yet, yet there are a thousand things to put us in mind of it; and if it be possible to us to forget a matter of such consequence without some­thing to refresh our Memories, and to re­new the impression of it, I shall briefly hint to you some things which occur eve­ry day, and are very familliar Emblems of Judgment, and desire you to unite the Thoughts of a Future Judgment to them; that when you see the one, you may think [Page 200] of the other; which will be a kind of ar­tificial Memory, when you find the Notes and Characters of Judgment so frequently presented to you. As to give you three or four familliar Instances of this, which you may very easily multiply:

When you are so busie and careful in keeping your Books, and casting up your Accounts, and ballancing your Gain and your Loss, and observing how your Stock increases or decays, can you forbear think­ing, that you have a greater and more concerning Account than this, the Account of your Life and Actions; which if you do not keep, God does, he has his Records of them, and will produce his Books at the Day of Judgment, and judge you out of them.

When you call your Servants or Stew­ards to an Account, how they have im­proved or embezled your Goods, whe­ther they have hid their Talent in a Nap­kin, or traded with it, and gained five or ten Talents; you should remember, that you also are but God's Stewards, and must give an Account of your Stewardship, and either shall be Stewards no longer, but be turned out of your Master's Service, and punished for your Negligence, or shall [Page 201] receive a Reward proportionable to your Diligence and Gain.

When we correct our Children or Ser­vants for their Idleness, Disobedience, or any other Miscarriage, or reward their Diligence and Vertue, can we forget, that we have a Father and a Master in Heaven, who curiously observes all our Actions, and will judge, will reward and punish us according to our Works.

When we see at Harvest the Wheat ga­thered into the Barn, and the Weeds neg­lected or burnt, should it not mind us what a difference God will make between good and bad Men at the Day of Judgment; that though they live intermixed in this World, they shall be parted then; good Men received into Heaven, where God dwells, and bad Men banished into out­ward Darkness, where there is Weeping, and Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth for evermore.

The awful Solemnities of Humane Ju­dicatures, the Judge sitting on the Bench, the Malefactor arraigned at the Bar, the Jury, the Witnesses, the Tryal, Condem­nation, Sentence, Execution, are lively Emblems of a Future Judgment, and me­thinks should mind Judge, and Juries, and Witnesses, and Spectators of it.

[Page 202]I have mentioned these few Instances, because they are common and familiar, and Scripture-Representations of a Future Judgment, and so often occur, that if we would but as often think seriously of a Fu­ture Judgment, we should soon attain an habitual Sence of it: And possibly my ap­plying them to this purpose now, as little an Observation as it may seem, may make you think of your great Account, when you are casting up your Books, or reck­oning with your Workmen, or taking an Account of your Stewards and Servants; and if it should, I shall have my end, and you will find the benefit of it.

But there is one thing which is natu­rally apt to mind us of a Future Judge­ment, and I am sure always ought to do so, and is of very near and present con­cernment to us at this time; and that is, When the judgments of GOD are in the earth, for then as the Prophet Isaiah tells us, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness, 26 Isaiah 9.

I have already observed to you, that the Examples of a just and righteous Pro­vidence, which governs this World, are a good Proof of a Future Judgment; for it is an argument, that God does take no­tice of the Actions of Men, and concerns [Page 203] himself in the Government of the World; and then we have no reason to question, whether he will judge the World.

And when God is actually executing Judgments on the World, when he is a judging Kingdoms and Nations, when he has unsheathed the Sword, and made it drunk with Blood, when the Desolations of flourishing Countries, the Burning of Towns and Cities, the lamentable Slaugh­ter of infinite numbers of People, do so loudly proclaim the Wrath and Displea­sure of God, those who han't a great, and awful, and terrible Sence of Judgment, will never be awakened, but by the sound­ing of the last Trumpet.

It is this, that makes the Judgments of God so effectual to Reform the World, not meerly the Fears of present Sufferings, of those Temporal Evils and Calamities, wherewith God punishes Sinners, but that by these visible Tokens of God's Anger, by the present sensible Effects of his Ju­stice and Power, Men are rouzed and a­larm'd into a Consideration of future Ven­geance.

We extreamly weaken the Argument from present and sensible Judgments, when we urge it no further, then to perswade Men to reform their Lives to remove those [Page 204] Judgments which are upon them; this is an additional Argument, to reform our Sins to save our Country from Ruin; but those who will not reform their Sins to save their Souls, will never part with them to save a Nation: and therefore the true force of the Argument, resolves itself into a Future Judgment: God has begun to punish us already in this World for our Sins, and unless we repent, we must not hope to escape so; these Temporal Suf­ferings are but a Summons to Judgment, and it may be are intended to remove us presently into the other World, to receive our Reward: The Axe is now visibly laid to the root of the Tree; and every Tree which bringeth not forth good Fruit, is hewen down, and cast into the Fire.

And the visible Execution of GOD's Judgments upon the World, will certainly mind us of a Future Judgment, and give us a feeling sence of it; as it gives us a present and sensible View of God's Justice and Power, and a nearer Prospect of it.

1. It gives us a present and sensible View of God's Justice and Power: And that though he be very good and merci­ful, he is very righteous too, and very se­vere in his Judgments; that though he be gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and [Page 205] of great kindness; yet he will not always spare, but will awake to visit the hea­then, and will not be merciful to any wick­ed transgressors, 59 Psal. 5.

When we see what Desolations God makes in the Earth, how his Judgments like a sudden and mighty Torrent over­flow a secure and happy Country, sweep away the Inhabitants of it, or transplant them into foreign Nations, to beg their Bread among Strangers; when we see how he sounds an Alarum to War, and sets Kingdom against Kingdom, and every Man's Sword against his Brother; when we observe with what an impartial Hand he strikes, that there is no Country, no People, no Religion escapes; that he makes Ambition and Covetuousness correct Su­perstition, and Superstition chastise the Coldness and Formality, the loose and li­centious Lives of more Orthodox Christi­ans; I say, when we see such things as these in the World, shall we not fear and tremble before that just and righteous Judge? Can we forget that GOD will judge the World in Righteousness, when we see already such terrible Executions, which are onely Preludiums to a Final Judgment.

[Page 206]2. These present and visible Judgmen [...] give us a nearer Prospect of a Futur [...] Judgment, and Judgment will more se [...] ­sibly affect us, the nearer we see it: Not that such Judgments as these prove, that the Final Judgment is near at hand; fo [...] the Records and Histories of former Ag [...] give us an account of very terrible Judg [...] ­ments which God then executed upon the World; and yet we see the Final Judgement is deferred, and we know not ho [...] long it may be deferred still: but though the general Judgment may be a great way off, yet our particular Judgment may be very near; God may quickly cut us off, and put an end to our Account, and when the Judgments of God are in the World we have reason to expect it, at least so far, as to be prepared for it: Proxi [...] ardet Vcalagon; when we see the Judge­ments of God sweep away so many Thou­sands round about us, who not long since, lived as secure and unconcerned for Dan­ger as we do; when we see the Clouds hover and rowl about the Heavens, charg­ed with Thunder and Tempest, Who knows where the Storm will break next, and who shall feel the Violence of it? And therefore the Judgments of GOD, which are in the Earth, will give all con­sidering [Page 207] Men, such a present Sence of a Future Judgment, as a threatning Sick­ness will do: Present Judgments may sud­denly cut us off, and send us into the o­ther World unprepared for a Final Judge­ment; and there is no preparing for it there, and then these present Judgments may prove Final to us. So that those, who live in such an Age as this, will be utterly inexcusable if they forget their Ac­count, which they have such terrible Ad­monitions of: let us make this use of pre­sent Judgments, to awaken a more lively and vigorous Sence of a Future Judgment in us; and that will make us good Men, and secure our Eternal Happiness; and is the best way to prevent any Publick Ca­lamities of our Country, which we may fear, or to preserve ourselves from being involved in them.

CHAP. II. Concerning the Time of Iudgment.

SECT. I. Concerning a Particular Iudgment at the Time of every Man's Death.

II. LET us now consider the Time of Judgment, God hath appointed [...] day, wherein he will judge the world i [...] righteousness. Now this plainly refers to that General Judgment, when all Man­kind shall be summoned before the Tri­bunal of CHRIST, to be judged accord­ing to their Works. But before I speak to this, it will be necessary to take notice of what we commonly call a Particular Judgment, which is supposed to pass up­on all Men, as soon as they go out of these Bodies.

The received Opinion is, That when any Man dies, he is immediately called to Judgment, and receives his Final Sentence, which is immediately executed on him; that a bad Man is sentenced to Hell, and sent immediately thither; that a good [Page 209] Man is received into Heaven, and enjoys the Beatifick Vision, from the time of his going out of this Body.

But I must confess, this has always ap­peared a great Difficulty to me; we live in such an inquisitive Age, as will not al­low us to affirm, what we cannot prove, and indeed no honest Man ought to do so: for it forfeits any Man's Authority, and weakens the Credit of Religion, when that which has no proof, or at best is ve­ry uncertain, is taught with as great as­surance, as that which is most certain and unquestionable in Religion: and yet no wise Man will oppose and contradict a received Doctrine, though he were satis­fied it were a Mistake, when there are no evil Consequences attend it: For my part I must honestly profess, that I neither dare affirm, nor deny this Particular Judgment in the sence in which it is commonly un­derstood; for there are some Passages in Scripture, which seem to look both ways, and since I cannot decently avoid saying something of it, I shall fairly represent to you, what Intimations there are in Scri­pture about this matter; for there is no other way of knowing this; and I dare teach no more than what the Scripture teaches.

[Page 210]1. Now in the first place, thus much is very plain in Scripture, that good Men when they die, are translated to a place of Ease, and Rest, and Happiness; and bad Men to a place of Misery and Punishment: which I suppose is what Men mean by a Particular Judgment: for this is a kind of Judgment, tho' it be not performed with all the pompous Solemnities of Judgment, to allot Men their different states of Life, according as they have behaved them­selves in this World.

The Parable of Dives and Lazarus is very express to this purpose, 16 Luke 19, &c. There was a certain rich man, which was cloathed in purple and fine linnen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain begger named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores.— And it came to pass that the begger died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham's bo­som: the rich man also died, and was bu­ried. And in hell he lift up his eyes being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and and Lazarus in his bosom. That this re­lates to the state of good and bad Men im­mediately after Death, is very evident, e­specially from that Request which the rich Man made to Abraham, to send Lazarus to his Father's House, For, saith he, I have [Page 211] five brethren; that he may testifie to them, lest they also come into this place of tor­ment. Which shews, that Lazarus was in Abraham's Bosom, and Dives tormented in Hell, or Hades, while his Brethren were living and revelling on Earth; and there­fore this can't relate to a General Judge­ment, but signifies, that State they entred into, as soon as they died: and though what is generally said, that we must not argue from Parables, is very true, as to particular Circumstances of the Story, which are the Ornaments and Embellish­ments of Parables; yet it is as true, that we must argue from the principal Scope and Design of them; and then we may certainly conclude from this Parable, that good and bad Men as soon as they die, are in a State of Happiness and Misery; otherwise there is no Foundation for this Parable: for why should one be sent from the Dead to inform the Living, what Pu­nishments bad Men suffer in the next World, if they suffer nothing till the Day of Judgment, which is not yet: for in this case such a Messenger could not be an Eye witness of the Punishment of Sinners, which is the only thing that is supposed to give such Authority to his Testimo­ny.

[Page 212]I do not remember any other such ex­press Text for the immediate Punishment of Sinners, as soon as they go out of these Bodies, and one such Text as this is e­nough; but there are many Texts to prove, that good Men when they die, go immediately into a State of Happiness; not only Lazarus was carried by the An­gels into Abraham's Bosom, but Christ promised the Thief upon the Cross, that that day he should be with him in Para­dise; and St. Paul tells us, That to be at home in the body, is to be absent from the Lord; but when they are absent from the body, they shall be present with the Lord: That is, when they die, when they go out of these Bodies, they shall go to Christ, 2 Cor. 5.6, 8. and this made it so difficult a Choice to St. Paul, whether he should desire to live or die; by living he might do great service to the Church; and therefore he was very well contented to live; but if he departed, he should be with Christ, which is best of all: For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh, is more needful for you, 1 Phil. 23, 24. And it is universally pronounced, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from [Page 213] henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works follow them, 14 Revel. 13. This e­vidently proves, that good Men shall be happy, as soon as they die, and besides the express Authority of our Saviour in the Parable of Dives and Lazarus, the rea­son of the thing proves, that bad Men must be miserable, that as the Happiness of good Men commences with their death, so must the Miseries of the Wicked.

Bad Men indeed many times live very happily in this World, for this is the time of God's Patience, while he waits to be gracious, not being willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repen­tance: but the Day of Grace ends with this Life; the next World is for Retribu­tions; we must there receive according to our Works: and therefore though we should suppose that the perfect Rewards of good Men, and the perfect Miseries of the wicked, should be deferred till the Day of Judgment, when the final Sentence shall be pronounced, which shall bestow Heaven upon good Men, and condemn the wicked to Hell, yet the Punishment of bad Men must begin when they leave this World, because God's Patience is then at an end; and the Rewards of good Men must [Page 214] begin too, because their Work and La­bour is at an end. And this has been the universal Belief of Mankind, who have be­lieved a future State; though they knew nothing of a General Judgment, when all Mankind should be summon'd before God's Tribunal, yet they all believed, that when bad Men died; they immediately went to a place of Punishment, and good Men to Elysium, a place of Rest and Happiness: for if we shall be rewarded and punished in the next World, for what we have done in this, it is natural and reasonable to think that our Rewards and Punishments shall begin as soon as we go into the next World.

2. And yet we read of no other for­mal Judgment, but that great and general Judgment, when the Son of Man shall descend from Heaven, with a glorious Re­tinue of Angels to Judge the World: if we examine all those express Declarations of Christ and his Apostles, concerning Judgment, or those Parables of our Sa­viour which relate to it, we shall plainly find, that they concern the last and ge­neral Judgment: It is in that day, which relates to a certain determined Day of Judgment, that many shall say unto him, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy [Page 215] Name? 7 Matth. 22. It is at the end of the World, when the Angels shall separate between the Wheat and the Tares, be­tween the good and bad Fish, which were taken in the same Net, 13 Matth. It is when the Son of man shall come in the glo­ry of his Father, with his Angels, that he shall reward every man according to his works; 16 Matth. 27. that is, as St. Paul speaks, when the Lord Iesus shall be re­vealed from heaven, with his mighty An­gels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Iesus Christ, 2 Thess. 8, 9. God hath given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. And when he must do this, he tells us, The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation, 5 John 27, 28, 29. And in his account of his Judging the World, he tells us, When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy Angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separateth his [Page 216] sheep from the goats, 25 Matth. 31, 32. Then it is, when the Man who travelled into a far Country returns, and calls his Servants to an Account, how they have improved their Talents, v. 14, &c.

Christ is the only Judge of the World, for all Judgment is committed to the Son, and he does not judge the World till his second Appearance, till he returns in the Glory of his Father, with his Angels. The Apostle to the Hebrews indeed tells us, It is appointed unto men once to die, and af­ter death the judgment; which might seem to intimate a particular Judgment of all Men, as soon as they die; but he adds when this Judgment shall be in the next Verse, So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; he died once for us, be­cause we must once die; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation: That is, he shall appear the second time to judge the World; which shews that this Judge­ment after Death, is the general Judge­ment, 9 Heb. 27, 28.

And the truth is, if all Men have a fi­nal Sentence past on them, as soon as they go into the other World, it is very unac­countable, why Christ at the last Day shall come with such a terrible Pomp and [Page 217] Solemnity to Judge and Condemn those who are judged, and condemned, and ex­ecuted already, as much as ever they can be.

And therefore in the Parable of Dives and Lazarus, we have no mention of their being judged; but Lazarus was carried by an Angel into Abraham's Bosom; the An­gels being ministring spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of sal­vation, 1 Heb. 14. Thus they minister to good Men in this World, and do a great many kind Offices for us, which we know not of; and thus they minister to us when we go out of this World, and conduct us to a place of Ease and Rest; carry us safe through the Crowds of evil Spirits which fill these lower Regions, into Abraham's bosom: but the rich man was dead and bu­ried, and lift up his eyes in hell, or Hades, (not Gehennah,) which signifies the State of separate Souls, and it seems of wicked Souls, and was in Torment, but how he came thither▪ it is not said: there is no notice given us of any Judgment which sat on him, or who carried him thither; and therefore if we may guess by the A­nalogy of the Parable, as Lazarus was car­ried by an Angel into Abraham's Bosom, so Dives, having no good Angel to guard [Page 218] him, fell into the hands of wicked Spi­rits; for the Devil is the Prince of the Power of the Air; the great Tempter of Men while they live, and their Tormen­ter when they die: whoever is so far re­jected by God, as to be delivered up to the power of wicked Spirits, without any restraint on their Malice and Cruelty, as wicked Men are, when they die, need no other Punishment till the Day of Judge­ment, when they together with the Devil and his Angels shall be cast into utter Dark­ness, where there is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of Teeth for ever more: We know what cruel Tyranny the Devil ex­ercised upon the Pagan World, who so devoutly worshipped him; and what then must the Case be of those wretched Souls▪ who are delivered to him by God as their Jaylor and Tormentor, till the Day of Judgment: I will not say this is the Case, though it seems no improbable Account o [...] it; but if it be (and thus it may be, be­fore Christ comes to judge the World,) you must all confess, that to have the De­vil for our Tormentor, is the very next degree to being tormented with the De­vil and his Angels.

But yet this is not a final Judgment, the last Sentence is not pronounced against [Page 219] them; and though I doubt not, but most bad Men as certainly know what their Doom will be, as the Devils themselves do; yet there is reason to think, that some bad Men (as bad Men, we see, are very apt to flatter themselves with vain Hopes in this World, and may do so in the next, for ought we know,) are still in hopes of finding Mercy at the Day of Judgment, when Christ comes to judge the World: for if they knew themselves under a final and irreversible Sentence, there can be no account given, why at the last Day they should put in any Plea for themselves, or sue for Mercy, and yet thus our Saviour represents it: In that day many will say unto me, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy [...]ame done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniqui­ty; Matth. 22, 23.

And thus in the Description of the last Judgment, when he shall say to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the de­vil and his angels. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a strang­er, [Page 220] and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they answer him, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or a thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 25 Matth. 41, 42, 43, 44. Now it is not imaginable, that these Men at the last Day of Judgment, should make any of these Plea's, had they been judged, and condemned, and the final Sentence pas­sed on them before.

The sum is this: That Mankind shall not be finally judged, till Christ comes to judge the World; but yet good Men are in a State of Happiness, and bad Men in a State of Punishment and Misery: that very good Men, as they are happy at pre­sent, so they have the joyful Expectations of the Day of Judgment, when they shall be finally rewarded, and received into the immediate Presence of God in Heaven; and that very bad Men, besides the Miseries which they at present suffer, have the ter­rible Prospect of a Future Judgment, when they know they shall be condemned to endless Miseries.

3. There is this farther to be added, That according to that account the Scri­pture gives us of this matter, though bad [Page 221] Men shall be miserable, and good Men happy, as soon as they go out of these Bo­dies; yet bad Men shall not be condemn­ed to Hell, nor good Men received into Heaven, till the Day of Judgment. There is no great difficulty in proving this, since the Rewards of good Men, and the Pu­nishments of the wicked, that is, their fi­nal Rewards and Punishments, or Heaven or Hell, are throughout the New Testament referred to the Day of Judgment: This our Saviour expresly tells us, 13 Matth. 41, 42, 43. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, (that is, at the end of the World, v. 39.) and they shall gather out of his king­dom all things that offend, and them which work iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. But there is no need of a­ny other Proof of this, but that at the Day of Judgment good Men shall be re­ceived into Heaven, and bad Men con­demned to Hell, 25 Matth. And if good Men were in Heaven before, it is very strange, that they should be brought out of Heaven to be judged, and to be recei­ved into Heaven again, with greater Au­thority and Solemnity; and if bad Men [Page 222] were in Hell before, it seems as strange, that they should be fetched out of Hell, to be more solemnly condemned thither again: this would be thought a very odd kind of Proceeding among Men; and we have no reason to suspect this of GOD's Judgment.

As for bad Men, they are to be cast in­to the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels; and therefore it is not likely they should be cast into this Fire, before the Devil himself is; and yet the Scripture assures us, that at present he is the Prince of the Power of the Air, the Spirit that now worketh in the Children of Disobedi­ence, 2 Eph. 2. And St. Peter tells us, That God spared, not these angels that sin­ned, but cast them down into hell, and de­livered them into the chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment, 2 Pet. 2.4▪ which is very ill translated, for if they were cast down into Hell, how are they reserved for the Day of Judgment? for what worse Judgment can they undergo than to be cast into Hell? But the words are [...], casting them down into Chains of Darkness, for so [...] signifies only to cast down; that is, those Angels who formerly inhabitated the AEthereal Regions, where there was [Page 223] perpetual Light, were for their Sin cast down into this darksome Region of Air, where the clearest Light is Smoke and Darkness in comparison with those brigh­ter Regions from whence they fell, (for the Devil is the Prince of the Power of the Air,) and they are called Chains of Darkness, because by the Decree of God, they can go no farther, cannot ascend higher to those Regions of Light again; and here they are reserved till the Judge­ment of the last Day.

While our Saviour was on Earth, it is plain, that these evil Spirits were not con­fined to Hell, for they possessed the Bo­dies of Men, and very much complained that Christ came to torment them before their time, 8 Matth. 29. They knew it seems there was a time of Torment ap­pointed for them, but it was not yet: and yet there was then some place of Con­finement for them, which is the [...], or Deep, whatever that signifies, whither they were unwilling to go; and there­fore when Christ cast them out of the Man, whom they had long, and furiously possessed, they beg of him, that he would not command them to go into the Deep, 8. Luke 31.

[Page 224]I shall only observe farther, That the Devils are said to believe and tremble: Now what is it they believe, and what is it they tremble at, but the last Judgment, and that terrible Condemnation, which they then expect? and therefore they are not under it yet; for Faith respects what is absent and future, and Fear does not re­spect what we suffer at present, but what we expect.

But these are great Mysteries, which we cannot now understand; but thus much we do understand, that if these fallen and apostate Angels have not yet received their final Punishment, but are only reserved in Chains of Darkness, till the Judgment of the great Day; there is less reason to think, that wicked Men, who are to be punished with the Devil and his Angels, should immediately go to Hell, as soon as they go out of these Bo­dies: and therefore whatever is meant by those Flames wherein Dives was tor­mented, it is not the last Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels.

As for good Men, those Expressions of Scripture, of their going to Paradise, e­specially of their going to Christ, or be­ing present with the Lord, seem to bid ve­ry fair for their going directly to Hea­ven, [Page 225] where Christ is; but the Primitive Christians understood them otherwise: that Paradise and Abraham's Bosom was a place of Ease and Happiness, but not Hea­ven; that no Man ascends into Heaven, till after the Resurrection, which Ireneus and Tertullian prove from the Example of Christ, to which we must be conform­ed; for Christ himself did not ascend in­to Heaven till after the Resurrection; but as his Body rested in the Grave, so his Soul went into the State of Souls depart­ed, and when he arose again, then he a­scended into Heaven; and thus they say we must do also. When we die, our Souls shall live in those places which God has prepared for separate Souls, and when we have re-assumed our Bodies, we shall be admitted into the highest Heavens, whither Christ is ascended: and this seems very reasonable, that we should not ascend into Heaven, into the immediate Presence. of God, which signifies our perfect Recon­ciliation to him, without our Bodies; the want of which is an argument of our A­postasie, and his Displeasure; and all the Marks of his Displeasure ought to be re­moved, before we appear in his imme­diate Presence. But is not Christ in Hea­ven? and how then can good Men be pre­sent [Page 226] with the Lord after Death, if they do not immediately ascend into Heaven? Now as for this they tell us, That the Souls of just Men in Paradise, have the sight and conversation of Angels and Arch­angels, and the Vision, or [...] of our Saviour, which, they think, is what is meant by being present with the Lord: though they did not affirm, that no good Men did immediately ascend into Heaven when they died; but expressly taught, that all Martyrs did, who died for the Name and Religion of Christ: and this was the thing, which made them in that Age so fond of Martyrdom, that they thought all Martyrs ascended directly in­to Heaven: And if they could have pro­ved this, as it is plain they believed it, that Martyrs did immediately ascend in­to Heaven, and that other Christians did not, who would not have coveted to die a Martyr?

Thus I have very fairly and truly re­presented this Matter, and that no Man, who has not so carefully considered this, may take Offence at it: I shall 1. shew you, how useful this Doctrine is at this time. And 2. that it gives no discour­agement to Vertue, nor any encourage­ment to Vice.

[Page 227]1st, As for the first, we may consider, In the first place, That in such an Age as this, wherein we have to deal with so many Atheists and Infidels, we ought to take care to make Religion reasonable and intelligible; for if we do not, they expose it to Scorn and Ridicule, and both har­den themselves in their own Infidelity, and corrupt others; and therefore we must take care of representing any thing ab­surdly and inconsistently: Now to say, that Men, who are already judged, and either condemned or absolved, and actu­ally sent to Hell or to Heaven, should be solemnly judged over again, and con­demned again to Hell, or advanced to Heaven, sounds oddly to such Men; but if the Scripture does not expresly teach such a Doctrine, we are at liberty not to teach it, especially if we can give another Account of it, which seems as agreeable to Scripture, and more agreeable to the Reason and Understanding of Mankind.

2. Some there are, who observing, that Mankind shall not be judged till the Day of Judgment, conclude that there is no intermediate State, but that the Soul sleeps with the Body, till the Day of Judgment. A very Foolish and Unphilosophical Opi­nion; [Page 228] for we may as reasonably think, that the Soul dies, as that it sleeps in a state of Separation: if the Soul be a spi­ritual Substance, distinct from the Body, it may live and act without it; and it is as easie and reasonable to defend the Mor­tality of the Soul, as its sleeping; for if the Soul must sleep, when it is separated from the Body, it must sleep for ever, if it never be re-united to the Body again; that is, it must live and die with the Bo­dy; for such a sleep as this, is not meerly an Image of Death, but Death it self. But from what I have now discoursed, it ap­pears, that though there be a great di­stance between Death and Judgment, yet the Soul does live and act is happy or mi­serable in the mean time.

3. This Notion does very great Ser­vice also against Popery: For, 1. it gives an account of a middle State, without Pur­gatory. This has greatly imposed upon unlearned Men, that the Advocates of Po­pery have proved from the Ancient Fa­thers, that they owned a middle State, which was neither Heaven nor Hell; and then presently conclude, that this must be Purgatory. Now it is very true, the An­cient Christians did own a middle State between Death and Judgment, which was [Page 229] neither Heaven, nor Hell, but yet never dreamt of a Popish Purgatory: they be­lieved bad Men were in a State of Pu­nishment, as soon as they left these Bo­dies, but not in Hell; and that good Men were in a State of Rest and Happiness, but not in Heaven; but they never thought of a place of Torment to expiate the Temporal Punishment due to Sin, when the Eternal Punishment is remitted, which is the Popish Purgatory, and the most barbarous Representation of the Christian Religion, though the most profitable too, to the Church of Rome, that ever was in­vented.

2. This utterly overthrows the Wor­ship of Saints in the Church of Rome; at least of all Saints, who were not Martyrs; for Saint-worship is founded on this Be­lief, that these Saints when they die, are received into Heaven, into the immediate Presence of God, and therefore can there powerfully intercede for us; but if these Saints are not yet received into Heaven, nor shall be, till the Resurrection, which was the Faith of the Primitive Christians, and seems very agreeable to the Doctrine of theGospel, as I have now shewn you, then there is an end of the Worship and Inter­ [...]ession of Saints.

[Page 230]2dly, This Doctrine neither discour­ages Vertue, nor encourages Vice: I can­not indeed say, but that Heaven is a much happier place then Paradise, and therefore it is more desirable for good Men, when they die, to go directly to Heaven then to Paradise: but yet it is a sufficient en­couragement to the exercise of the most perfect Vertues, that as soon as we die, we shall be carried by Angels into Abra­ham's Bosom, or into Paradise; a place of perfect Ease and Rest, and as perfect Hap­piness as can be enjoyed out of Heaven: such a Paradise, where holy Souls dwell, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, and Confessors, with Heaven at the end of it, is a sufficient, an abundant, Reward, for all the most difficult and laborious Ser­vices of this Life: that Heaven is not yet, is no greater Discouragement, then that we shall not rise from the Dead till the Day of Judgment, that we shall not have our Bodies again till they are awakened by the last Trumpet; Bodies which will be bright and glorious as the Sun, which will rise with eternal Youth, and Strength, and Beauty: this is a much greater Hap­piness, then to live either in Paradise or in Heaven, without our Bodies; but this [Page 231] we must stay for, and so we may for Hea­ven, and we may be very well contented to wait for Heaven, and for the Resurre­ction of our Bodies, in Paradise: when we are as happy as Paradise can make us, we may very patiently expect the full Completion of our Happiness in the Re­surrection of our Bodies, and our Admis­sion into the highest Heavens, to the im­mediate Throne and Presence of God.

Thus though Hell is a place of the most perfect Torment and Misery, for it is the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels; and therefore it is much more formidable for Sinners to drop immediate­ly into Hell when they die, then to suffer any other State of Punishment, between Death and Judgment; yet he is a very unreasonable Man, who does not think the Day of Judgment time enough to be condemned to Hell, and who does not think it Misery enough to fall under the Power of evil Spirits in the mean time: If God thinks this Punishment enough, methinks Sinners should; and those who cannot fear Hell at the distance of the Day of Judgment, will not fear Hell, tho' it were no farther off than Death: those who are not afraid of being tormented as Dives was, when they go out of these [Page 232] Bodies will not fear Hell, though we al­low Hell to be a State of more perfect Misery. I am sure Dives thought those Torments so great, that they were suffi­cient to have made his Brethren true Pe­nitents, had they known what they must suffer for their Sins, as soon as they die: and those who will not allow, that bad Men are immediately condemned to Hell, as soon as they die, yet must allow, that they may be tormented as Dives was: In short, if wicked Men do not drop in­to Hell as soon as they die, yet they shall be condemned to Hell at the Day of Judgment, and in the intermediate State between Death and Judgment, shall suf­fer all those unknown Miseries which are prepared for wicked Souls, till the Day of Judgment: and those who will not be perswaded by this, will live and die in their Sins, though you could convince them, that they shall drop into Hell as soon as they die.

SECT. II. That the Day of Iudgment is appointed.

HAving thus considered the State be­tween Death and Judgment, let us now more strictly consider the Time of Judgment; and here are several things to be observed and explained:

  • I. That the Day of Judgment is ap­pointed: He hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world.
  • II. That this is a General Day for the Judgment of the whole World.
  • III. That this Day of Judgment will be at the End of the World.

I. That the Day of Judgment is ap­pointed: He hath appointed a day where­in he will judge the world.

This is a matter of pure Revelation, and can be known no other way; for though we have great evidence from Rea­son, that God will judge the World, yet to appoint a Day is a free Act of God's [Page 234] Wisdom and Counsel, and this must be learnt from Revelation; and we cannot have a more express Revelation for any thing, than we have for this; for St. Paul tells us in plain words, that God hath ap­pointed a Day to Judge the World: and our Saviour in express words several time refers to this Day, as appointed and deter­mined by God: In that day many shal say unto me, Lord, Lord, have we not pro­phesied in thy name? which refers to some certain Day, 7 Matth. 22. And the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, 5 John 28. And of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only, 24 Matth. 36. Which plainly signi­fies, that the Day is determined and fix­ed, because God knows when it shall be; that is, he knows when he has appointed it: and if it were not appointed, it had been no great wonder, that neither Men nor Angels know it.

Now this Consideration, that God hath appointed a Day, wherein he will judge the World, is not without its Use: For,

1st, This proves the Certainty of a Fu­ture Judgement, that the Day of Judge­ment is appointed: For we cannot think, [Page 235] tha [...] God would appoint a Day to judge the World, unless he absolutely resolved to judge it.

2ly, This answers the Objection against a Future Judgment from the long Delays of it: This St. Peter tells us, would be a great Objection in the last Days, or to­wards the end of the World, 2 Pet. 3.3, 4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the pro­mise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation: That is, consider how old the World now is, and how long Mankind have been fright­ned with the Fears of Judgment; many Ages and successive Generations have li­ved in expectation of it, but it is not yet, nor any more signs of it, then when the World was first made; and since it has been so long expected to no purpose, it is time to despise such vain and groundless Fears.

This ought to be plainly and fully sta­ted, for we live in the last Days, and have many of these Scoffers already among us:

[Page 236]1. But if GOD have appointed the D [...]y of Judgment, it is a very foolish Argument, to say, that he will not judge the World, because he has not done it yet, unless we could prove, that the Day appointed for Judgment is already past: God cannot be said to delay to judge the World, whe [...] the time he has appointed for Judgment is not yet come; for to delay doing any thing, is not to do it in its proper season, when it is time to do it; or when we re­solved and determined to do it: and there­fore no Man can say, that God delays to judge the World, unless he could tell, wha [...] Day God in his own infinite Wisdom ap­pointed for Judgment. For,

2. That God appoints a long Day for Judgment, is no Argument, that he will not judge us.

Thus it was in the Destruction of the Old World, a great while before God brought that Universal Deluge on them, but it came at last, and swept them all a­way; as St. Peter observes, For this they willingly were ignorant of, 2 Pet. 3.5, 6. that by the word of God, the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water, and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflow'd with water perished. This general Destruction of the Old World by [Page 237] Water, is reason enough to believe God, when he threatens to destroy it again by Fire; For the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judge­ment, and perdition of ungodly men, 5, 6, 7. It was a great while before God de­stroyed the Old World; and though this second Destruction by Fire is deferred much longer, it will come in its appoint­ed time.

3. For what seems a very long time to us, is not so to God, as the same A­postle tells us, One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. God is not affected with the succession of Time, nor its lingring de­lays; and therefore is not in hast to judge the World, before the World is ripe for Judgment; and when that is, he himself knows best.

For to appoint a Day to judge the World, is a Work of great Wisdom and Counsel: Before God judges the World, it is fit for him to display all the various Scenes of Wisdom, and Goodness, and Power, and Justice in the Government of the World; to exercise great Patience to­wards Sinners, and to make the utmost Experiments to reform them, as St. Peter [Page 239] tells us, The Lord is not slack concer [...]i [...] his promise, (as some men count slackness) but is patient to us-ward, not willing th [...] any should perish, but that all should co [...] to repentance, v. 9.

4. When God finally judges the Worl [...] ▪ he destroys this present Frame of Things as it follows in the next Verse, The day [...] the Lord will come [...] a thief in the night in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also▪ and the works that are therein shall [...] burnt up. Now it does not become [...] wise and a good God, to be hasty in d [...] ­stroying a World that he has made.

And therefore to reconcile God's d [...] ­stroying the World with his Essential At­tributes of Wisdom and Goodness, ther [...] are two things necessary:

1st, The incorrigible Wickedness of Mankind. A wise Man will not imme­diately pull down a House he has buil [...] ▪ till he discovers some irreparable decay [...] in it: thus God justifies his Destructio [...] of the Old World from the Universal Corruption of Manners, and the incurable Wickedness of it: God saw the wickedne [...] of man that it was great upon the earth, a [...] [Page 238] that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will de­stroy man, whom I have created, from the face of the earth, 6 Gen. 5, 6, 7. And this was the only reason, that could be given to justifie so universal a Destruction of Mankind, that they were universally wick­ed, excepting one righteous Family, which God preserved: and it seems very prob­able, that the general State of the World will be very wicked and corrupt before the final Destruction of the World by Fire; for we can conceive no other rea­son, why God should finally destroy this World, but to put an end to the incurable Wickedness of Men. And this is the Ac­count the Scripture gives us of it; we find every-where a deplorable Description of the Wickedness of the last Days; In the last days perillous times shall come: For men (that is, the generality of Man­kind;) shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, diso­bedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, with­out natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traytors, heady, high-minded, [Page 240] lovers of pleasures more then lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, 2 Tim. 3.1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Thus St. Iude tells us, There shall be mockers i [...] the last times, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts, v. 18. And St. Peter, as you heard, that in the last Days there shall be Scoffers, saying, Where is the pro­mise of his coming? And our Saviour himself plainly intimates what an univer­sal Decay there shall be of Piety and Faith, when he comes to judge the World, Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh▪ shall he find faith on the earth, 18 Luke 8. Atheism and Infidelity shall greatly pre­vail in the World before the Day of Judge­ment: and by this as St. Iohn said long since, We know that is the last time. And this is one of the signs both of the De­struction of Ierusalem, and of the Day of Judgment, Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved, 24 Matth. 10, 11, 12, 13.

And therefore the Destruction of this World by Fire, which is the Preparation [Page 241] to the final Judgment, is represented as an immediate Vengeance on the wicked­ness of that Generation of Men, who shall then be living on the Earth: though at the same time, the Dead shall be raised, and all ungodly men involved in the same ruin. The Lord Iesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty Angels in fla­ming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Iesus Christ, 2 Thess. 1.8. And 10 Hebr. 27. it is called a fiery in­dignation, which shall devour the Adver­saries.

So that one thing God has regard to in appointing the day of Judgment, is not to destroy the World, till the wicked­ness of Mankind is grown incurable, and past Remedy; and till this is the state of the World, how much wickedness soever there be in it, it is too soon, for a wise and good God to destroy the World he made: But there seems, 2. to be some­thing more than this, to justifie the final destruction of the World; not only that the present race of Mankind is so univer­sally corrupt, that they deserve to be uni­versally destroyed, which was the case of the old World, wherein there was but one Righteous Family; but that Mankind is [Page 242] thus incurably wicked after all the wise Methods of God's Grace and Providence to reform the World; for then it is time to put a final end to the state of this World, and to the farther propagation of Man­kind on it, and to Summon all Men to Judgment to receive according to their Works.

This seems to be the reason why Noah's Flood did not put a final end to the World, and why God did not at that time call all Mankind to Judgment; because tho' the wickedness of that Generation of Men was so universal and so incurable, that it justified their universal destruction, yet God had new Methods of Grace, and hidden Treasures of Wisdom in reserve for the reforming the World; and there­fore though he purged the Earth from its wicked Inhabitants, he did not think fit to put an end to the race of Men, but pre­served Noah and his Sons in the Ark (which was the only Righteous Fa­mily then living) to propagate a new Generation of Men, whom he would try with new Methods of Grace; the last and most admirable, and most effectual Me­thod of Grace was reserved for the last Times; the Mysterious Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Power of Gospel-Grace. [Page 243] And when this also shall have lost its effect, when Atheism and Infidelity, and all manner of Wickedness shall pre­vail, when the Church it self shall be over-run with Heresies, Schisms, and a meer external form of Religion without the power of it; when Men shall walk after their own Lusts, when Faith shall fail, Iniquity abound, and the Lo [...] of many wax cold, then the end is at hand; God has then tryed what Mankind will prove, long enough, and it is time to put a period to this World, and to the race of Mankind, and call them all to Judgment: If what some learned Men teach be true, that the Letters, St. Iohn was commanded to write to the seven Churches of Asia, were Prophetick of the seven different states of the Christian Church, from the time of Christ till the end of the World, we find that the very last state of the Church, when Christ will spew her out of his mouth; that is, when he will put a final end to the Church on Earth, is re­presented by the Church of Laodicea, 3 Revel. 14, &c. And to the Angel of the Church of the Laodiceans write, these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true wit­ness, the beginning of the Creation of God: I know thy works, that thou art neither [Page 244] cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot; so then because thou art Lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. When a true Zeal and Concernment for the Faith and Practice of Christianity fails in the Church, and Atheism, and Infidelity, and all manner of Wickedness prevails in the World, these are [...]resages of the near approach of a final Judgment.

Now if this be a fair and reasonable account of the destruction of the World, and a Future Judgment, we need not wonder, that God has appointed so late a day for it: seven or eight thousand Years is no long time for the duration of the World; especially when we have had such a terrible Example of God's Justice and Vengeance in the destruction of the old World already.

We have reason to believe, that this World should never have been destroyed, but for the incurable wickedness of Man­kind; for nothing else can justifie the Wisdom and Goodness of God in destroy­ing what he had made: God could have judged, and rewarded, or punished par­ticular Men, without destroying the World; but when Mankind is grown uni­versally and incurably wicked, it does not [Page 245] become God to suffer this Earth to be an eternal Nursery of Atheists and Rebels a­gainst the Majesty of Heaven; and this makes it necessary for God to destroy it; but then the Wisdom and Goodness of God requires that this should be done with great patience and long-suffering, and after the disappointment of all the wise Methods of his Grace in reforming the World; and then no Man can say that God has hitherto too long delayed the final Judgment; some thousand years is no long tryal to save the World, and Mankind, whom he hath made, from final destruction.

(1.) And therefore let no Man laugh at a future Judgment, and final destru­ction of this World, as if it would never be, because it is not yet; God is in no hast to destroy the World, but when he sees it ripe for Destruction, that is the day he has appointed for Judgment: Such Scoffers as these are certain fore-runners of that day, and unless there be still a new Resurrection of true Faith and Piety, (which we hope for) it cannot be far off: how long soever such Men may think God delays, yet their Iudgment lingreth not, and their Damnation slumbereth not, 2 Peter 2.3. Let us all remember what [Page 246] our Saviour tells us, If that evil servant shall say in his heart, my Lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow­servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not ware of, and shall cut him asunder, and shall appoint him his portion with the Hypocrites, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, 24 Matth. 48.

It is no Argument that Judgment is a great way off, because Men are secure, and can laugh at the thoughts of it; for the more secure the World is, the nearer it is to Judgment: the very day that Judg­ment shall overtake them, they shall least of all think of it, as it must needs be when the World shall be so over-run with Atheism and Infidelity; and therefore the day of Judgment is said to come like a thief in the night, that is suddenly, and by surprize, when we are asleep, and se­cure, and least suspect it, 1 Thess. 5.2, 4. 2 Peter 3.10. As Christ threatens the Church of Sardis, 3 Revel. 3. If there­fore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thus 24 Matth. 37, &c. Christ tells us, that the [Page 247] day of Judgment, or the coming of the Son of man, is like the days of Noah. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entred into the Ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. The like we have 17 Luke 26, 27. to which he adds the destruction of Sodom; Likewise also it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroy­ed them all: even thus it shall be in the day, when the Son of man is revealed, 28, 29, 30.

(2.) This exactly agrees with what I have now discoursed, that God will not destroy the World, till the wickedness of Mankind is almost universal and incura­ble; for if this be true, God cannot de­stroy the World, till Men are secure and fearless of Judgment; that is, till they are such Atheists and Infidels, so immerst in sensual Pleasures, so given up to a Re­probate sense, that they have no thoughts of God, and another World, nor any con­cernment for a future Judgment.

[Page 248]Till the generality of Mankind are come to this secure state, they are not so hopeless, nor so outragiously, and irre [...]e­verably wicked, as to provoke God to a final destruction of the World: a sense of God, and the fear of Judgment will re­strain the wickedness of Mankind, and make them more modest and cautious, give check to their Vices, alarm and awa­ken their Consciences whether they will or no; while this sense and belief is pre­served in the World, there must be a great many good Men, and a great many more, who pretend to Piety and Vertue; and though there may be here and there an Atheist among them, this is not conside­rable; this does not make the state of Mankind hopeless and desperate, and does not come up to the description of those times, when God will destroy and Judge the World.

And to observe this by the way, this is the true account why the Judgments of God in this World either upon private Persons or publick Societies, Kingdoms, and Nations, surprize Men, when they are most secure, and think least of Judgment; when as the Prophet Ieremy speaks, They cry peace, peace, when there is no peace, 6 Jer. 14. I need not tell you, that this [Page 249] is not to take us at an advantage, as a weak Enemy sometimes does, who wants strength and power to hurt us, but upon a surprize; for no sinner, all the sinners of the World cannot resist God's Power, though they had never so much warning to make their defence.

Nor is it, that God takes so much plea­sure in punishing us, and in executing his Judgments upon the World, that he will give us no warning of it, that we may not prevent it by a timely Repentance, and make our Peace with him; for he is infinitely good and merciful: he delights to do good, and to shew mercy, but Judg­ment is his strange work; and he has suf­ficiently denounced his Judgments against incorrigible sinners, if they would believe him, and take warning by it.

But the reason why the Judgments of God so often surprize Men in their Secu­rity, while they are asleep, and dreaming of nothing but what is prosperous and hap­py, of the return of Astroea and the Golden Age, is because their sins, which make them ripe for Judgment, and will not suf­fer God to stay his hand any longer, have made them also secure: either they have sinned away all belief of God, and his Pro­vidence, and a future Judgment; or have [Page 250] sinned away the sense of those particular sins which they are guilty of; or to make themselves secure, they have, by the help of Enthusiasm and Superstition, reconci­led the hopes of Heaven, and the sense of God's love and favour, with the practice of the most provoking Impieties: that is their love to sin has made them secure, and then there is little hope, that they will ever forsake their sins, and this makes them very fit to be the Examples of God's Justice and Displeasure.

And the same account is to be given of the day of Judgment: it will surprize Men as a Thief in the Night, not because they never heard that God would Judge the World; for God has sufficiently declared this, and given us timely notice to prepare for it; but Men will at that time have sinned away the belief of a God, and of a Judgment to come, or have laid this belief asleep with some intoxicating Su­perstitions and Formalities; and this is so hopeless and irrecoverable a state, that it makes it time forGod to Judge the World.

(3.) And this may give some probable account, both why the day of Judgment is deferred so long, as some Men are apt to speak (though God knows, they have little reason to think it long, considering [Page 251] what Account they are able to give, and what Sentence they are like to receive) and why the particular time of Judgment is concealed from us.

While the sense of Judgment continues in the World it must make a great many good Men, and restrain the Wickedness and Impiety of bad Men, and as you have heard, God will not destroy the World, while it is in an hopeful and recoverable state; but the long delay of Judgment (as Men are apt to call it) wears off the sense and belief of it, and then Men grow wicked without fear and restraint; and then it is time for God to judge the World.

Thus if God fixes and determines the Day of Judgment upon the foresight of such a general Impiety, as will deserve a final excision, God cannot reveal this to the World: For one would think it im­possible, did the World know this before­hand, but the Age of Judgment should be the most Devout and Religious Age, that ever had been from the beginning of the World; and then that would not be a fit time to destroy the World: and God could not fore-see it the properest time of Judgment.

[Page 252]It is abundantly sufficient, that God gives us all reasonable Evidence and Assu­rance, that he will Judge the World: but there is no reason to tell us, at what par­ticular time he will judge the World; nay, it is not fitting that we should know it.

Had Men known some thousand Years ago, how long the Day of Judgmen [...] should be deferred, it had so much weak­ned the Argument of a Future Judgment, by removing it a great way off, that the World might much better have deserved to be destroyed at any other time than in likelihood it would do, if Men certainly knew the time when the Day of Judg­ment comes: and if the general belief of Judgment will not make us good Men, it is not fit that we should certainly know the time of Judgment; no more than that we should know the time of our Death, or be converted by a sight of Heaven or Hell.

God reserves this as a Secret in his own Breast, which neither Men nor An­gels shall know, which is the best way to make the belief of a Future Judgment ef­fectual upon all Ages of the World, espe­cially since that express revelation which the Gospel has made of it. This Instru­ction our Saviour himself gives us, that [Page 253] since we know not the Day of Judgment, we should always watch, and be ready prepared for it. Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come: But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up; therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh, 24 Matth. 42, 43, 44. And if this was good Advice in our Saviour's days, it more nearly concerns us, on whom the end of the World is come.

(4.) There is one thing more I shall observe from this Discourse; not to be of­fended, though you see Atheism and In­fidelity prevail in the World, and the true Christian Faith begin to fail, and the love of many wax cold: thus it must be towards the end of the World, and if we now see the beginnings of it, it is no great won­der.

This is indeed a great Temptation to Men, who are governed by Examples, to hear the first Principles of Religion called in Question, and the great Fundamental Articles of our Faith made Matter of Dis­pute and Controversie; nay, the plainest Rules of Life ridiculed and exploded; but [Page 254] if these things should not be, the World would never come to an end: God can­not destroy a believing and righteous Na­tion, much less a righteous World, a World of Believers and Saints. And if it be our Portion to fall into the dregs of Time, in­to these last days, when there shall be Scof­fers walking after their own ungodly Lusts, let us consider, that this is no more than was foretold; thus it must be towards the end of the World, and therefore this ought not to weaken the Credit of Reli­gion, no more than the fulfilling of Pro­phesies does: let us remember how Sacred this Faith has been for 1600 Years, how many Martyrs and Confessors it has had; how God has preserved it against all the Powers and Opposition of the World; how it has triumphed over Pagan Idola­tries, and which is more than that, trium­phed over the Lusts and Vices of the World, in the Exemplary Self-denial, Mor­tification, and Divine and Heavenly Con­versations of its Professors; and this I think is such an Argument of its Divinity, as may defend us against the Wit and Ral­lery and Impudence of professed Atheists and Debauchees, who till of late, have themselves been the scorn and derision of Mankind.

SECT. III. The Day God has appointed, is a General Day of Iudgment.

II. THIS Day God has appointed is a General Day of Judgment, or a Day to Judge the whole World; all Man­kind shall be summoned before the Tribu­nal of Christ, and be tried and condemned, or acquitted in the general Assembly of Men and Angels.

What an amazing sight will this be! to see all Mankind start out of their Graves, and appear before their Judge: to have one view of the whole Race of Men, of all successive Generations from Adam to the end of the World. Such an Assembly as never was before, never will be till that day, and never will be after it: Could we look on as unconcerned Spectators at that day, what an Enter­tainment would here be, only to see all Mankind together; all the Men of Name and Renown, whose Fame is recorded in Story; who have signalliz'd themselves in their several Ages by their Piety and Vertue, and Wisdom and Valour, or it may be by their Vices; but this will be no time to gratifie our Curiosity, when [Page 256] we all meet to receive our final Doom.

It more concerns us at present to draw another Scene of things, and to imagine how differently Men will appear at the Day of Judgment, from what they do in this World. We shall see all Man­kind together, rise with their own Bodies, just the same Men that they were, but yet quantum mutatus ab illo, they won't look altogether as they did; there will be some change in their Countenance, which will betray very different Passio [...]s, and give a very different Air and Aspect to them.

We may easily imagine, that Atheis [...]s and Infidels, who have disputed very Subtilly and Philosophically against a God and Religion, and broke many a [...] Jest upon Heaven and Hell, will be not a little amazed, when they shall see all their Philosophy confuted, and their Jests quite spoiled by the appearance of their Judge▪

What surprize and astonishment will then be seen in the looks of secure Sin­ners, who never thought of Judgment; but reckoned themselves very safe by banishing the thoughts of it? as if God would not Judge them, unless they though [...] of being judged.

[Page 257]The brave and the bold Sinners, who mocked at Fear, especially at the Fear of God, as a base and unmanly Passion, will not be able to conceal their Fears then; but even those mighty Hectors, the great Disturbers of Mankind, who carried Fear and Terrour in their Looks, and made the World tremble before them, will then stand trembling before their Judge, and call to the rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb.

On the other hand, with what triumph will good Men lift up their Heads; the poor, the despised, the persecuted, the re­proached, the vilified Worshippers of the Crucified Jesus, and the Disciples of the Cross: their Sorrows will then flie away like the Shades of Night, at the approach of the Sun, their Tears will be dried up, and we shall see nothing but secure Joy give Lustre and Brightness to their Looks.

We are extreamly imposed on by the present appearances of Things; Vice looks gay, and bold, and fearless in this World, and Vertue many times as mean and con­temptible, as Injustice and Oppression can make it; that it would be of great use to us sometimes to remove the Scene from this World to the Day of Judgment; [Page 258] when all Mankind shall appear together; the greatest Appearance that ever was, and therefore it is much more consider­able, how we shall appear then, than how we appear in this World.

But the Enquiry here is, why GOD judges all the World at once, and sum­mons all Mankind together to receive their final Sentence? Now that God will do so, is very plain; why he does it, he has not told us; but whoever wisely con­siders this matter, will discover great and excellent ends which may be served by such a publick Judgment, and that may satisfie us, that there is great reason why God should do it; and these may be refer­red to two general Heads: 1. With re­spect to God himself. 2. With respect to Men, both good and bad Men.

I. With respect to God: And this uni­versal Judgment greatly tends to advance the Divine Name and Glory:

1. As I hinted to you before, this will justifie the Divine Providence, and display all the various Wisdom, and expound and unriddle all the secret Mysteries of it: when God comes to judge the World, i [...] is to justifie himself, as well as to judge Men; for what St. Paul says, is most pro­perly [Page 259] applicable to the last Judgment, Let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged, 3 Rom. 4. And St. Iude makes this one great end of the last Judge­ment, The Lord shall come with ten thou­sands of his saints, to execute judgment up­on all, to convince all that are ungodly a­mong them, of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him, Jude 14, 15. How many such hard Speeches do we daily hear against the Divine Providence; and how hard are good Men, who know but little of the matter, put to it to answer the Cavils and Reproaches of Atheists and Infidels; we can indeed say enough in ge­neral to vindicate the Divine Wisdom, and Justice, and Goodness; but there are a thousand particular Cases which seem ve­ry hard, which we can say nothing to, because we know nothing of them.

But when all the World shall be sum­moned before God's Tribunal, all the Ages and Generations of Men, we shall then have a perfect History of Providence, and that will expound the Reasons of Things, which are now obscure: when we shall [Page 260] hear how every particular Man, every Age and Generation of Men, every Coun­try and Nation, have behaved them­selves, and how God dealt with them; what Talents they were entrusted with, and what Account they give; then all Mouths will be stopped, and the whole World will become guilty before God, 3 Rom. 19. Then we shall see an entire Chain of Providences, and all the various and intricate Turnings of the Divine Wis­dom in its different Forms and Admini­strations, but still within the Sphere and Circle of Justice and Goodness. How shall we then admire God, when we shall see all these wonderful and curious Scenes unfolded; when we shall observe the gra­dual and regular Advances of Goodness in the several Ages of the World, proporti­oned to the Wants and Capacities of Men, till it came to the full Maturity and Per­fection of Gospel-Grace: what a delight­ful Prospect will this be to good Men! how will it enlarge their Knowledge! en­crease their Wonder! inflame their Devo­tions! How will it confound bad Men, e­specially all the prophane Scoffers at God and his Providence; how will this aggra­vate and encrease their Torments, that they will be forced to admire and justifie God [Page 261] in their own Damnation, which must turn all their rage and fury upon themselves.

This is reason enough why God should judge the World all together, to justifie himself to all his Creatures, and to make a glorious Discovery of all the Wonders and Mysteries of his Grace and Provi­dence: good Men see enough at present to admire and praise God; but now as St. Paul tells us, We know in part, and we prophesie in part: but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known, 1 Cor. 13.9, 10, 11, 12. The Divine Wis­dom will never appear so glorious as at the Day of Judgment, because it will ne­ver be so perfectly known as then, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe, 2 Thess. 1.10. What good Man would not long to see that blessed Day, which will perfect his Soul with the Knowledge, and Love, and Admiration of God; and give him such clear raised and divine Thoughts [Page 262] and Passions, as are fit for Heaven and the immediate Presence of God, whither he is a going: what wise Man will not re­selve to be very good, that at that Day he may see the Glory of God with out Terrour and Astonishment; with all those Raptures and Extasies with which such new and bright Appearances of the Divine Wisdom will fill the Soul.

2. God summons all Mankind toge­ther to Judgment, that Men and Angels may be Witnesses of his equal and impar­tial Justice. We are all equally God's Creatures, the Rich and the Poor, the Honourable and the Vile, and the Prince and the Subject are alike to him; and Justice requires, that they should be alike; that the just Judge of the World should respect no Man's Person in Judgment: Now there is no such way to convince all the World, that God is an equal and im­partial, that is, a very just and righteous Judge, as to judge all the World together; for then they themselves may see whether God be partial or not.

But there is a great deal more I mean by this; for the Providence of God in this World is very liable to the Charge of Partiality; that he has not an equal Regard to all his Creatures; I do not [Page 263] mean with reference to their Fortune and Station in this World, that some are Rich, others Poor, some Princes and Nobles en­trusted with great Powers, others Sub­jects, and exposed to the Wills and Lusts of Princes, for this is more easily account­ed for, such different Ranks of Men being necessary to good Order and Govern­ment in the World; but I mean with re­spect to their Souls, and their eternal State; that God has not taken equal care to Instruct all Mankind in their Duty, to acquaint them with the Danger of Sin, and the Rewards and Punishments of the next Life, and the Certainty of a Future Judgment; and this is too visible to be denied.

God suffered Mankind to fall into Ido­latry, and when they had corrupted their Natural Notions of Good and Evil, sent no Prophet among them to Instruct them better; and when after some Ages, he called Abraham out of Vr of the Chal­dees, and having tried his Faith and Obe­dience, entred into Covenant with him; yet he confined his Covenant to his Po­sterity, whom he chose for his peculiar People, and took no visible care of the rest of the World; and though this was a great Priviledge of Israel, above the rest [Page 264] of Mankind; yet the Mosaical Law was but a weak and imperfect Dispensation, but a Childish Pedagogie, and the Iewish Church but in the State of Servants, or of an Heir under Age.

And though God did at last send Christ into the World to make a perfect Reve­lation of his Will, yet it was towards the end of the World; and what a wonderful difference has this made between those who enjoy the Light of the Gospel, and the rest of Mankind; as if they had not all the same Maker, or were not equally his Creatures: and yet how little a part of the World is there still, which have the Gospel preached to them; and how much less, which have it sincerely preached!

The Justice of God, I confess, cannot be impeached upon this account, for God was not wanting to any of them in what was necessary: he made them reasonable and understanding Creatures, gave them sufficient Natural Evidence of his own Be­ing and Providence; and the Natural No­tices of Good and Evil, and the Natural Expectations of Rewards and Punishments, which St. Paul tells us is enough to render hem inexcusable; That the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are known by the things that are seen, e­ven [Page 265] his eternal power and god-head, so that they are without excuse, 1 Rom. 20. and what is more than this, is pure Grace, which God may give or deny, when and where he pleases: Nor is the Goodness of God, and Care of his Creatures to be blamed upon this score, for in every Age he did what was wise and fit to be done; for the several Ages of the World, re­quired different Dispensations of Grace, and in the fulness of Time, when the World was prepared for it, he sent his Son. But yet we must confess, that God has done more for Iews than he did for Heathens, and more for Christians than he did for either: which is an Objection that troubles the Minds even of some good Men, who do not thoroughly con­sider things, and darkens and obscures their Notions of the Divine Goodness.

And when all the World is met toge­ther to Judgment, it seems at first view to be a very plausible Objection, that God has not dealt equally with them all, especially when their eternal State de­pended on it; and the want of those Means of Grace, which God afforded o­thers, though he owed them to neither, made no less a difference between them, then Heaven and Hell.

[Page 266]This indeed is a very great Difficulty, but I doubt not, but the equal Justice of the last Judgment will answer it; for o­therwise I cannot imagine, that God would summon all the World togther before his Tribunal, if he did not intend to deal e­qually by all: The last Judgment will not be over-ruled by Power and Sove­raign Prerogative, for that removes no Objections, but onely silences them; whereas God at the last Day will justifie himself, as well as judge the World; and therefore whatever difference and variety there has been in the external Admini­stration of his Grace; the final Judgment shall be very equal; and he will appeal to Men and Angels for the Equality, as well as Justice of it.

How God will bring all these Uneven­nesses of his Grace and Providence to an Equality, is hard for us to say, but yet we know there are some possible ways of doing it: To make great Abatements and Allowances for invincible Ignorance and Mistake, for the Faults and Miscarriages of Education, for the Wickedness and Cor­ruption of the Age, wherein Men live, and for want of the Means of Grace and Knowledge; and to exact Improvements proportionable to our Receits, and to [Page 267] those greater Advantages we enjoy, and to encrease and lessen Rewards and Pu­nishments by these Measures, will bring Men pretty near an equal Level, accord­ing to our Saviour's Rule, That servant which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, 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. For unto whomsoever much is gi­ven, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more, 12 Luke 47, 48. So much are those Nominal Christians mistaken, who are so far from thinking, that God expects more from them, then from ignorant Heathens that they hope to escape with those Vices, for which they themselves think fit that Heathens should be damned: No, Beloved, God will judge all the World together; and that is a De­monstration to me, that he will be very equal in his Justice; and then he must de­mand more from Christians, than from Hea­thens, because we have received more.

3. A General Judgment is most for the Glory of God in punishing bad Men, and rewarding the good: When a whole World of Sinners stand trembling before God's [Page 268] Tribunal, and receive their final Doom and Sentence from his Mouth, this is a more visible Triumph of his Justice, then had they all silently dropt into Hell, as they went out of this World, and we had heared no more of them to Eternity. The Wisdom of all Governments has taught them the Necessity of publick Ex­ecutions; and when God would make himself known in the World, he executes some publick and visible Judgments, which may command our Notice and Obser­vance: Thus he did, when he spared Pharaoh from the destruction of those numerous Plagues he sent on AEgypt, and reserved him for a more glorious Execution, when he overthrew him, and all his Host in the Red Sea: Thus he did, when he sent Fire from Heaven to de­stroy Sodom and Gomorrah; and in nu­merous other instances: These terrible Executions indeed are intended by God as publick Warnings to the World, to teach Men to fear God, and reverence his Power and Justice, and prevent their own Ruin by a timely Repentance; now this end they cannot serve in the other World; when the Devil and his Angels, and all bad Men are involved in the same Ruin, and there are no Sinners left to take [Page 269] warning, and to learn Righteousness by it: but Saints and Angels are Spectators and Witnesses of the Vengeance, and a­dore and praise the righteous Judge of the World; and Devils and all wicked Men see and feel it too, and tremble and flie before him, are forced to confess his Power and Glory, though with anguish and despair. This is a glorious and vi­sible Triumph over all his Enemies, and all the Powers of Darkness.

And how glorious is God in his Saints, when he publickly rewards their Faith and Patience, their Obedience and Suffer­ings for his Name sake; when in the sight of all the World he cloths them with pure Light, and receives them into his E­ternal Kingdom; the Glory of God is the publick Manifestation of his Justice and Goodness and Power; now there cannot be a more unquestionable Demonstration of the inflexible Justice of God, then the final Destruction of the Devil and his An­gels, and all wicked Men; there cannot be a more glorious Manifestation of the Goodness of God, then in the final Re­wards of Piety and Vertue; and nothing can be more publick and visible, than that which is done before all the World. And this makes it reasonable for God to [Page 270] summon all the World before his Tribu­nal, to make himself visibly glorious to all his Creatures.

God has been greatly dishonoured in the World; some have denied his Being and Providence, others have set up Rival and Opposite Gods, and given his Wor­ship to Devils, to dead Men, to Wood and Stone, nay, to the vilest and most con­temptible Creatures; others have framed very unworthy Notions of God, and cloth­ed him with their own Weaknesses and Passions, made him either a Tyrant and a Devil, or such a tame, easie, fond Being, as Men may make bold with without danger; others prophane his Name, cor­rupt his Worship, or neglect and despise it; some think themselves too big to serve God, others too little to be observed by him; some ridicule his Laws, others take no notice of them; and there are very few who are sincere Worshippers of him, and acknowledge and submit to his Au­thority and Power; and when God has been so much dishonoured in the World, I think it is very fit, that when he judges the World, he should vindicate his own Glory, make it publick and visible, and force all his Creatures to own and con­fess it; and the most effectual way to do [Page 271] this, is by summoning all Mankind before him, and judging them according to their Works. Thus we see what reason there is, with respect to God, why he should not judge Men singly, and send them pri­vately and silently to Heaven or Hell, but appoint a general Day of Judgment.

II. There is great reason for this too, with respect to Men, both to good and to bad Men; for this is part of the Re­ward of Vertue, and of the Punishment of Vice.

Many good Men have been used with the utmost Contempt and Scorn; if they cannot comply with their Company, and do as their Neighbours do; if they boggle at popular and fashionable Vices; they are gazed on as so many Comets and Prodi­gies, and would be contented to be gazed on, were they as far out of the reach of danger too, as those Meteors are; some call them Fools, others Knaves and Hy­pocrites, and treat them accordingly: and is it not fit that God should vindicate these Men, who have suffered Infamy and Reproach for his sake; that he should publickly own them, applaud and reward their Vertue: And what a glorious Vin­dication is this, if we can but have pati­ence [Page 272] to expect it: what a little contem­ptible Scene is this World, nay, this little Corner of the World where we live; for whether we be praised or reproached, it is likely we are never heard of out of the Parish and Neighbourhood, or City, o [...] Kingdom, where we live; and can't we be contented to let a whole Parish, or Ci­ty, or Kingdom despise us, to be publick­ly owned by God in the General Assemb­ly of Men and Angels.

Good Men do a great many good acti­ons privately, which few or none are con­scious to, but God and themselves, and therefore they lose the Praise which is due to such secret Vertues in this World; but our Saviour has promised, that such Men shall have praise of God, that if we Pray, and Fast, and give Alms in secret, Our F [...] ­ther which seeth in secret shall reward [...] openly, 6 Matth. And this is a great en­couragement to the practice of the mo [...] secret Vertues, that we shall be openly to­warded for them.

Good Men are many times great Suf­ferers in this World, are not only re­proached, but persecuted, lose their E­states, their Liberties, their Lives, fo [...] Christ's sake; and though God has strict­ly forbid them to avenge themselves, yet [Page 273] he will execute Vengeance on their Ene­mies, and do it publickly, and make them the Spectators and Witnesses of it.

On the other hand, Wickedness is ma­ny times very glorious and triumphant in this World, is so far from suffering Shame, which is the just Reward of it, that it is applauded and courted; and the greatest Prodigies of Wickedness are a­dored for their prosperous Villanies; but yet Shame is the just Reward of Sin, and it must have it at one time or other, and nothing can more effectually cast Shame and Contempt upon Sinners, then a Ge­neral Judgment, when they shall be pub­lickly arraigned and condemned in the great Assembly of Men and Angels: This will confound the most glorious Sinner, who never blushed before; for though while bad Men are supported with Pow­er, or are the most numerous Party, and can out Vote and out Laugh the rest of the World, they can secure themselves a­gainst the sence of Shame; yet when they appear before such a Judge, and have their Villanies exposed to all the World; when they are stript of their Riches, and Honours, and Power, and see all their Ad­mirers and Companions past Laughing and Flattery, and themselves despised and [Page 274] scorned by God and his holy Saints and Angels, and condemned to everlasting Miseries, it will then be impossible for them any longer to glory in their Shame; Confusion will then cover their Faces▪ and it would be thought very mercif [...]l to be damned privately without seeing their Judge, and being exposed to publick Scorn and Censure.

Thus there are a great many wicked things done privately, and concealed from the Eyes of Men, and many times gilde [...] over with a form and counterfeit appear­ance of Religion; and such secret Villai [...] not only escape publick Shame, but [...] thought very extraordinary Men, and great Saints: now it is very fitting, that such Men also should have their Masqu [...] and Disguise taken off, and be exposed to the View of the World just as they are; and this God will do in that Day, whe [...] he will judge the Secrets of Mens Hearts▪ and bring to light the hidden Works o [...] Darkness: And then what will it ava [...] them to pass for Saints in this World when at the Day of Judgment, they shal [...] be known, and be doubly scorned, bot [...] for their Wickedness, and for their Hy­pocrisie.

[Page 275]What a severe Aggravation will it be of the Condemnation of the Wicked, to see good Men, whom they despised and per­secuted, whose Lives they thought Folly and Madness, now owned and rewarded by God; as our Saviour speaks, To see them come from the East and from the West, from the North and from the South, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Ia­cob, in the kingdom of God, and themselves s [...]ut out. This will be a confounding Sight at that Day, and as little as such Men now value Heaven, to see the bright and dazling Crowns of those blessed Saints, will pierce their Souls, and wound them to Eternity.

This justifies the Wisdom of God in ap­pointing a general Day of Judgment to reward good Men, and to condemn the wicked: but there is one good natured Objection against this, which respects good Men; for there are few good Men, but may have some very wicked Relati­ons, who yet are very dear to them; and how can they bear to be Witnesses of their final Condemnation; to hear that Sentence pronounced on them, Go ye cur­sed into everlasting fire; prepared for the Devil and his angels. We tremble at the thoughts of it now; and one would think [Page 276] it should over-cast the Glory of that Day to such blessed Saints, to see such a ter­rible Execution upon those who were so dear to them: but this is such a Mistake as the Sadduces Objection against the Resurrection, concerning the woman who had had seven husbands, whose wife she should be of the seven at the resurrection, for they all had her: but our Saviour told them, at the resurrection they neither mar­ry, 22 Matth. 30. nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven: Thus it is here; those natural Affections and Passi­ons which are of so great use in this World, and make us so nearly concern­ed for Children, and other Relations, are not the Measures of our Kindness, and Friendship, and Concernment in the o­ther World; they are necessary here ma­ny times to supply the place of Reason and Vertue, and to prompt us to do those good Offices by the impatience and un­easiness of a Passion, which the generali­ty of Mankind would not do from wiser Principles: but the end of these Passions is served in this World, and there is no occasion for them in the next; and there­fore we shall feel no uneasiness or disturb­ance from them: good Men will have no Friends, no Relations in the other World, [Page 277] but those who are truly good, who are Members of the same Mystical Body of Christ, the Children of God, and Heirs of the same Happiness and Glory.

To conclude, I shall only observe this farther, How vain it is for bad Men to hope to defend themselves from Shame and Punishment, by their Numbers; they may, I confess, do it in this World, when they have to deal with Men, tho' when God comes to judge them even in this World, the most powerful Combinations of Sinners are but like Chaff before the Wind: But if ever Numbers would do, it would be at the Day of Judgment, when the Devil and his Angels, and all bad Men shall be summoned together; and if they cannot then defend themselves when their whole Force is united, but stand as Cri­minals before their Judge, and receive their Sentence from him; it becomes us to fear and tremble before that powerful Judge, who has all Nature at his com­mand, and all Devils and wicked Men in Chains, and with the Word of his Mouth can condemn them to Eternal Torments.

SECT. IV. The Day of Iudgment is at the End of the World.

III. THe Day of Judgment is at the End of the World: That it will be so, and the Reasons why it will be so, are very plain, from what I have already discoursed: our Saviour tells us, that it is at the end of the World, when the Angels shall separate between the Wheat and the Tares, which grew in the same Field, between the good and the bad Fish, which were taken in the same Net, 13 Matth. It is in the Evening of the World, when the Lord comes to reckon with his Servants, and to reward those who have laboured in his Vine­yard, 20 Matth. for when Christ comes to Judgment, this World shall be set on fire, and this present visible Frame of Things shall be dissolved, as St. Peter tells us, 2 Pet. 3.10, 11, 12. Upon which ac­count Christ is said to come in flaming Fire, of which more hereafter: and if God will judge all Mankind together, the Day of Judgment must be at the end of the World.

[Page 279]But besides this, it seems very reasona­ble and congruous, that the final Judge­ment, and the End of the World should come together; or that when God final­ly Judges all Mankind, he shall put an end to this habitable Earth.

For this Earth was made for the Habi­tation of Man, and all things in it for his use and delight, and therefore it receives its Fate and Destiny with Man too.

Paradise was the Habitation of innocent Man, and had Man continued Innocent, and Peopled the World with an innocent and holy Race, the whole World must have been a Paradise; but when Man had sinned, and had no Right to so easie and happy a Life, the Ground was cursed for his sake, 3 Gen. 17, 18, 19. Cursed be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread, till thou return unto the ground.

When all Flesh had corrupted their ways, excepting Noah and his Family, God destroyed the Old World with its wicked Inhabitants: and to this day, be­sides that Original Curse which still rests upon the Earth, Nature suffers for the Sins [Page 280] of Man, and revives and flourishes again, as he returns to his Duty: He turneth rivers into a wilderness▪ and the water­springs into dry ground: a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. And on the other hand, He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into wa­ter springs. And there he maketh the hun­gry to dwell, that they may prepare a ci­ty for habitation, 107 Psal. 33, 34, 35, 36.

It were easie to Harangue here, and de­scribe the Ruines and Desolations which the Judgments of God have brought up­on the most flourishing Countries, for the Sins of the Inhabitants, Famine, and Pe­stilence, and Sword: The Sword which carries all other Judgments along with it; but God knows, we live in an Age where­in there is no need of haranguing about it; this is seen, and felt, and heard every day; such Miseries as are beyond the De­scription of the most Eloquent Tongue or Pen: God grant we may only hear of them; that we may take warning by what others suffer, and appease the Wrath of God by a timely Repentance.

Now for the same reason, when God Judges all Mankind, he will put an end to [Page 281] this present state of Things; when Man, for whom this Earth was framed, shall dwell no longer on it, but all good Men shall be received into Heaven, and all bad Men condemned to Hell, this World has lasted as long as it was made for, and must now be cast into a new Mould and Frame.

For so indeed the Scripture represents it, not that this World shall be destroyed, but that it shall be new made; that as the whole Creation is made subject to Vanity by Adam's Curse, so it shall be redeemed from Vanity and Corruption too, when Man is. It shall be purged by Fire, and a new incorruptible World shall spring out of its Ashes: 8 Rom. 19, 20, 21, 22. For the earnest expectation of the creature (which must signifie this visible Creation,) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope: Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God: (Or when the Sons and Children of God shall be delivered from Corruption.) For we know the whole creation groaneth, and travelleth in pain until now. And thus St. Peter tells us, That at the last Judge­ment [Page 282] this World shall be destroyed with Fire; Nevertheless we, according to his pro­mise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, 2 Pet. 1 [...] where St. Peter refers to the Prophesy of Isaiah 65.17. For behold, I create new hea­vens, and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembred, nor come into mind. Which St. Peter understands in a literal sence, not meerly of a more prosperous state of Things in this World.

And thus St. Iohn, as the Conclusion of his Revelations, immediately after his Ac­count of the last Judgment, gives us a Description of this new Heaven and new Earth, 21 Rev. 1, &c. And I saw a new heaven, and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed a­way; and there was no more sea. And I Iohn saw the holy city, new Ierusalem, com­ing down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, say­ing, The tabernacle of God is with men, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former [Page 283] things are passed away. And the rest of that Book is spent in describing the Glory of the Great City, the Holy Ie­rusalem, the River of the Water of Life, proceeding from the Throne of God, and of the Lamb, and the Tree of Life, which bore twelve manner of Fruits.

These are great Mysteries, which we cannot perfectly understand yet, especial­ly what St. Iohn says about the new Ie­rusalem's coming down from Heaven, to take up its Seat and Habitation on this new Earth, that there is the Throne of God, and of the Lamb, where God dwells, and which he enlightens with his Pre­sence, and from whence he drives away Death, and Sorrow, and Pain, which seems to signifie, that as the old Heavens and old Earth are destroyed by Fire, in Ven­geance on its wicked Inhabitants, so this new Heaven and new Earth which God makes after the Destruction of the old, is the Seat of the Blessed, after their Resur­rection from the Dead; which, I confess, I know not how to understand.

But this gives a plain account why the final Judgment, when good Men shall re­ceive their final Reward, shall not be till the end of the World, because this old World must be destroyed before GOD [Page 284] makes those new Heavens and new Earth: The final Destruction of bad Men will be­gin with the Destruction of this old World▪ and the Rewards and Happiness of good Men shall be consummated in the new World, whatever that be, where they shall dwell for ever in the immediate Presence of God, and of the Lamb.

Now that God defers the Day of Judg­ment to the end of the World, May, 1. convince us of God's great Patience and Long-suffering towards Sinners; for he forbears their Execution as long as he can forbear destroying the World, and that we may be sure is as long as Wisdom and Justice will permit: To destroy a World is a Work of as great Wisdom and Coun­sel, as to make one; nay, the Divine Goodness will easily justifie the making of a World at any time; for no time is unfit to exercise such acts of Goodness, as will justifie themselves; but for God to de­stroy the World, which he has made, with­out great necessity for it, reflects upon his Wisdom and Goodness in making it: The wise Maker of the World can have no in­clination to destroy it; and though the Justice of Providence may require some more hasty Executions to maintain good Order and Government, and to give check [Page 285] to Vice, yet the final Destruction of the World requires all wise Delays; and Sin­ners can expect no more of God, than to defer their final Sentence, as long as he can defer the end of the World. It is great pitty that such Goodness and Pa­tience should be so monstrously abused; that Men should harden themselves in sin, and conclude, that God will not judge the World, because he is so unwilling to de­stroy it; but this will justifie the Severi­ty of the last Judgment, that it is not the Effect of a hasty and sudden Fury, but of mature Counsel; that God did not want Goodness to spare Sinners, as long as Wis­dom and Justice could spare them. To be slow to execute Judgment, is as essen­tial to Goodness, as it is to Justice, at last to punish: and to conclude that God will not punish at all, because he is patient and delays to punish, is to prove, that God cannot be just, because he is good.

2. That God destroys the World when he judges it, is an undeniable Proof of the Severity of the last Judgment; for what a terrible Vengeance is that, which fires the World, and dissolves this present Frame of Nature; this is a fiery indignation in­deed to devour the Adversary, 10 Heb. 27. when bad Men and wicked Spirits [Page 286] shall be encompassed with Flames and Smoke without any possibility to escape; for whether can they flie out of a fired World? when the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with [...]ervent heat; the earth also, and all that is therein shall be burnt up.

There are a great many brave Sinners, who mock at Fear, and harden themselves against Hell itself; but if they can be se­rious but for some few Minutes, let them imagine all the World on fire about them; the Heavens covered with thick Darkness, and the whole Earth but one Vulcano, one AEtna, or Vesuvius Vomiting up Ri­vers of Burning Sulphur, and themselves plunged in the midst of it; let them try how they can bear this Thought, before they laugh at Hell; for this will certainly be the State of Sinners at the Day of Judgment, and should not this make us fear and tremble before that great and powerful Judge? Who knoweth the power of his wrath? who can live with de­vouring fire? who can dwell with everlast­ing burnings?

What an irresistible Judge is he who can destroy the World, and all Sinners with it: the World, that was their God, and now will be their Funeral Pile; ac­cording [Page 287] to the Fate of some Heathen Ido­laters, they shall be sacrificed to their own God, and tormented in the Embra­ces of a burning Idol.

The Destruction of the World gives a terrible Pomp and Solemnity to the last Judgment: it will astonish bad Men, and break their stout Hearts to see the World in Flames; it will convince them to pur­pose, that God is come to judge them, and that he is very severe and terrible in his Judgments: Who can describe the Horrours, and Agonies, and Consternati­on of that Day! Cast your thoughts back a little upon that terrible Day, when you saw London on Fire; when you saw your Houses and Treasure all vanish into Dust and Smoke; What did you think then of the Power and Justice of God? And yet this was no more than a little Boan-fire, compared with the Universal Conflagra­tion; though you could not save your Houses, and Furniture, and Treasure, from its Rage and Fury, yet there was room left for your own Escape; and if this were so amazing a Sight, as all of you, who saw it, cannot but confess it was, what will it be to see the whole World on Fire, and yourselves incompassed in the Flames of [...]! to see all those tempting Objects, all [Page 288] the Instruments of your Pleasures, all the Riches and Glory of the World, which were the Fuel of your Lusts, now turned into a devouring Fire to torment you, to expiate those Flames they kindled in your Souls by sensible and material Flames: Who would make this World his Portion and Inheritance, who considers the end of it? It looks charmingly indeed at pre­sent, it invites and caresses, and lays Baits and Snares for us; but if we will have the World for our Portion, it must be our Portion too at the Day of Judgment: and consider how you shall like its Courtship when it incircles you with Flames, and Smoke, and Darkness; those who choose this World for their Portion, can never remove out of it, and therefore must be contented to share Fortunes with it, to smile when it smiles, and to burn when it burns.

With what Triumph will good Men at that Day, see themselves out of the reach of a burning World! They betimes made their Escape out of this World, as fore­seeing its approaching Ruin; they were not of the World while they lived in it, but disintangled their Affections from this World, while their Bodies were confined below: And such Divine Souls, whose [Page 289] Conversation was in Heaven, as soon as they get loose from these Bodies, ascend far above this Sphere of Corruption, out of danger either of being tempted, or be­ing hurt by this World.

With what Triumph will they behold God erect a new World for them to in­habite; create a new Heaven and new Earth, where he will place his Throne and Tabernacle, and dwell among them, and be their God!

What bad Man can hear these things without Terrour and Amazement? What good Man does not long for this happy Day, for this Marriage of the Lamb? when the new Ierusalem shall come down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, 21 Revel. 2.

3. That the Day of Judgment is at the end of the World, proves that this Judg­ment is final and irreversible, because this present state of Things is come to an end; and as this puts a final Conclusion to this World, so to all accounts relating to it: This World is a changeable Scene, but the next World is eternal; and therefore as good and bad Men are disposed of in the next World, they must continue for ever. This World will be destroyed, and [Page 290] therefore bad Men can never return in­to it again, to act over a new part, and to correct the Sins and Follies of their former Lives, as Origen conceived they should, after a long time of Punishment, when the fleshly Principle is thorough­ly subdued by the Torments they have suffered: Which Opinion, how much mercy and good nature soever there may be in it, has not the least countenance from Scripture, nor any foundation that I know of in Reason; when the World where they lived, and where they sinned, is at an end, I think there is an end also of their acting any new part in it.

And that new World, where good Men shall dwell in the immediate Presence of God, shall last for ever; there is no death, no pain, no crying, for there can be no sin there; there is no Devil, no World to tempt, and nothing within to be tempt­ed; they enter clean and pure into that holy Place, and the immediate Sight and Presence of God will eternally keep them so. Had we no positive Revelation of the Eternity of Rewards and Punishments, it were yet reasonable to conclude, that if the Day of Judgment put an end to this World, without putting an end to good or bad Men, but only translating [Page 291] them to a new state of Happiness or Mi­sery, that their Happiness or Misery must last as long as that new State does, and their Sentence can never be reversed with­out a new Day of Judgment: and there­fore if this be the last and final Judgment, good and bad Men must then enter up­on an unalterable and eternal State of Hap­piness or Misery; and this is the most comfortable and most terrible Considera­tion of all.

How will the Souls of good Men re­joyce in God their Saviour, when they shall see themselves possest of an eternal and unchangeable Happiness! when this mutable Scene is vanished, and they have an abiding City, whose Builder and Ma­ker is God; when they can look forward to Eternity without fearing Death, or a­ny Change or Diminution of their Hap­piness, which may encrease to Eternity, and be always new and fresh, but can never admit of any interruption or al­lay.

But I will not pretend to describe the Confusion, the Distraction, the Raging Despair of those wretched Sinners who shall be condemned to Everlasting Fire; who see an end of all their Happiness, and but the beginning of their Miseries in a [Page 292] Fired World: our Thoughts cannot reach this now, we have no Passions yet big e­nough for such a Misery; Eternal Tor­ment! Blessed JESU, have Mercy up­on us! and let the present Fear and Dread of it preserve us from ever knowing what it means.

If you should ask me, When the end of the World, and the Day of Judgment will come; I must confess to you, I do not know; for our Saviour has before told us, Of that day and hour knoweth no man, not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. That we are not con­cerned to know when this shall be, nay, that God has very wise Reasons to conceal this from us, I have shewed you before: I shall now add, 1. That it is not likely to be yet. 2. That how long soever it be delayed, we have great reason at present to provide for it. Especially, 3. when we are sure that the time now hastens, af­ter so long an expectation of it.

I. That it is not likely to be yet: In St. Paul's time some Christians were in great apprehension, that the Day of Judg­ment was near, and it seems were in a terrible Fright about it: but the Apostle thought fit to correct this Mistake, and [Page 293] that with some Earnestness, as if it were a Mistake of ill consequence; and so in­deed it might have proved, if not to them, yet to those who followed; who observing their Mistake about the Day of Judgment confuted, as all such Mistake are, by the Event, might have conclud­ed, that the whole was a Mistake, and that there should be no Day of Judgment, be­cause it did not come when it was expect­ed; and therefore the Apostle thought fit to warn them against it: Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Iesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand, 2 Thess. 2.1, 2.

And to satisfie them in this, he does not undertake to tell them when the Day of Judgment shall be, for that he did not know, but only tells them, That there must come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God. And this Man of Sin not being then revealed, it was plain, that the Day of Judgment could not so sudden­ly come as they expected: And now we [Page 294] find by Story, that it was some Ages af­ter this, before the Man of Sin was reveal­ed.

After this St. Iohn wrote his Book of the Revelations, and did we thoroughly understand that, though we should not certainly know the precise time of Judg­ment, yet we should know how many things are still to be done before the Day of Judgment, for that contains an entire Prophesy of the Christian Church, from the beginning of it to the end of the World. And though I will not pretend to under­stand those Mysteries, especially what is there called the thousand Years Reign of Christ upon the Earth, which, whatever it signifie, seems to be before the end of the World, and the final Judgment, yet we certainly learn from thence, that the Man of Sin must be destroyed before the last Judgment; and if this be the Popish Hierarchy, as I doubt not but it is, it is plain this is not done yet; and I wish his final Overthrow be so near as some learn­ed Men think it is.

But I think there is another Prophesy of St. Paul himself, which has not been accomplished yet, which must receive its accomplishment before the Day of Judg­ment; and we see no prospect of its pre­sent [Page 295] accomplishment, I mean the Conver­sion of the Iews, and the Re-union of them to the Christian Church.

This we have an account of in 11 Rom. which whatever some learned Men ima­gine, I can by no means think has recei­ved its just accomplishment by those few Iews which were converted by the Preach­ing of the Apostles, and the Destruction of Ierusalem; for Verse 15. he tells us, If the casting away of the Iews is the recon­ciling of the world; (that is, if the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles upon the ob­stinate Infidelity of the Iews,) what shall the reconciling of them be, but life from the dead? That is, the Conversion of the Iews shall be a new Life to the Gentile World, a new Resurrection of Christiani­ty among us. But was ever any such thing done yet? In Verse 25, 26. he tells them, For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (lest ye should be wise in your own conceits) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, un­til the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Iacob. Now has any such thing yet been done? has all Israel, or the generali­ty [Page 296] of the Iews been converted to Christi­anity? and yet the Apostle assures us this must be done by Vertue of God's Cove­nant with Abraham: As concerning the go­spel, they are enemies for your sake; (God so ordered it, that by their Infidelity the Gospel should be preached to the Gentile World,) yet as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers sake: As the Posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob, whom God chose as his peculiar People. For the gifts and calling of God are with­out repentance: God will never wholly reject the Posterity of Abraham, whom he hath chose for his People, but will still e­stablish his Covenant with them: and that God has now rejected them for their In­fidelity, is no argument that he will never own them again; for so he had rejected the Gentiles for their Unbelief, but now has received them again into his Church upon their Faith in Christ; and thus he will again graft the Iews into his Church, if they abide not still in their unbelief, v. 30, 31. which the Apostle prophesies they shall not, For as ye in times past have not be­lieved God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that thro' your mer­cy they also may obtain mercy. Now such [Page 297] a Conversion as this of the Iews, I think has not been yet, and therefore must be expected before the Day of Judgment, and the end of the World, which shews that the end of the World will not be yet; and how long it may be deferred we cannot tell.

II. How long soever the end of the World, and the Day of Judgment be de­layed, yet we have great reason imme­diately to prepare for it: for indeed this Life is the only time we have to prepare for it, Death puts an end to our account for Eternity; for we shall be judged ac­cording to what we have done in the Bo­dy, whether it be good or bad; and the final Sentence shall pass on us according to that state which Death finds us in; which seems to be the reason why our Saviour warns us always to be upon our watch, As not knowing at what hour our Lord will come; for whatever the inter­mediate State be, how long soever it be between Death and Judgment, yet our account is the same; and to be surprized by Death before we are provided for it, is the same thing as to be surprized by Judgment: 24 Matth. 42, 43, 44. Watch therefore, for ye know not at what hour your [Page 298] Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of man cometh. Which if it concern all Christians, must relate to the Hour of Death, as well as to the Day of Judgment.

And therefore flatter not yourselves, that Judgment is a great way off, when you know not how near Death is, which will finish your Account. The State of bad Men is very miserable, as you have already heard, as soon as they go out of these Bodies, and they are reserved for the terrible Judgment of the great Day; and though the Day of Judgment is not yet, is it not a terrible thing to be cer­tainly reserved for it? which how long soever it be delayed, has an Eternity to follow.

III. But if the near approach of the end of the World, and the Day of Judg­ment be considerable, it is certain that is not far off neither; the World has conti­nued now some thousand Years, and if the time of Christ and his Apostles were [Page 299] the last Days, after sixteen hundred Years we must be pretty near the end of the last Days: We have a nearer prospect of E­ternity, then those had who lived some thousand Years ago, at least if they had known how long this World would have continued; but though they might not think it would have continued so long, we know now, that it cannot continue so much longer: there are some Prophesies to be accomplished still, but how soon they may be accomplished, we know not; no Man questions but that the World now grows to an end, and therefore it is time for every Man to think of Eternity.

CHAP. III. Who shall be our Iudge, viz. the Man CHRIST IESVS.

III. LET us now consider who shall be our Judge: That man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath give [...] assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead; where are two things to be considered: First, The Per­son who is to Judge us. Secondly, What Assurance we have, that He shall be our Judge.

First, The Person who is to Judge us: That man whom he hath ordained; that is, the Man CHRIST JESUS: for thus both Christ and his Apostles assure us, that God hath appointed him to be the Judge of the World: The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment to the Son, 5 John 22. The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then shall he reward every man according to his works, 16 Matth. 27. Thus St. Peter assures Cornelius concerning Christ, He [Page 301] commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testifie that it is he which was ordained by God to be the judge of quick and dead, 10 Acts 42. But there is no need to mul­tiply Texts in so plain a Case, it is of more concernment to inquire, why Christ, who is the Eternal Son of God, and a God In­carnate, when he is spoke of as Judge of the World, is most usually described as a Man, or the Son of Man; thus, He is that man whom God hath ordained; and the Son of man; nay, Christ himself tells us, For this reason God hath given him au­thority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man, 5 John 27.

Now the reason why our Saviour is de­scribed as a Man, and the Son of Man, when he comes to Judgment, is, because he shall visibly appear in Humane Nature to judge the World; and therefore will be, and will appear as much a Man as he did when he dwelt on Earth, though he will appear also more like a God: thus the Prophet Daniel describes it: He saw in the night-visions, and behold, one like the Son of man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and a [Page 302] kingdom, that all people, nations, and lan­guages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, 7 Dan. 13, 14. It is the Son of Man who has this Glory and Kingdom given him, and which he must administer as the Son of Man.

And this seems the true reason why our Saviour so often calls himself the Son of Man, not as some imagine with respect to the mean Circumstances of his Appear­ance in the World, for this Phrase, The Son of Man, no where in Scripture relates to such an external Meanness and Pover­ty as distinguishes one Man from ano­ther; but it either signifies no more than a Man,49 Ier. 18. or it respects the common Weak­nesses of Humane Nature;25 Iob. 6. and when this Name is applied to any particular Persons,80 Psal. 17. it is never used of mean Men,146 Psal. 3. but always of Princes or Prophets:2 Ezek. 1. But by this Title of the Son of Man, our Saviour gives us to understand, that he is that Great and Extraordinary Person, known by the name of The Son of Man in Daniel's Visions, whom God hath ordained to be the Lord and Judge of the World.

But I shall not pass over this Argu­ment thus, but shall more particularly [Page 303] consider the great Wisdom of this; how necessary, congruous, and fitting it is, that the Son of Man should Judge the World; which will suggest a great many useful Meditations to us. Now I shall reduce what I have to say to these two Heads: 1. That it is very fitting and necessary that the Saviour of Mankind should be their Judge also. 2. And therefore that the Man Christ Jesus, who is the Saviour of the World, should Judge it.

I. That it is very fitting and necessary that the Saviour of Mankind should be their Judge also; and that upon two Ac­counts:

1. Because the Authority to Judge is essential to the Notion and Authority of a Saviour: To save Sinners signifies to save them from their sins; which is the true Interpretation of the Name Jesus, 1 Matt. 20. And to save them from their Sins, is to deliver them from the Punishment of Sin; that is, from the Wrath of God, from the Curse of the Law, from Death and Hell, to raise them from the Dead, and to bestow Immortal Life on them: Now there are several Acts must concur to per­fect this Salvation, but the last conclud­ing [Page 304] and finishing Act is Judgment. And he only is a complete and perfect Savi­our, who has Authority to Judge, to Par­don, and to Reward.

God is a Holy and Pure Being, and can never be reconciled to Sinners, till they are renewed and sanctified, which makes it necessary for the Saviour of the World to instruct Mankind in their Duty, and by the Power of his Grace to change their Natures, and make them Holy as God is, since without holiness no man shall see God; and therefore he must be a great Prophet and Preacher of Righteousness, to turn men from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God. God is a very righteous Judge, and has threat­ned Death against Sin; and therefore the Saviour of Sinners must make Atonement and Expiation for Sin, must deliver us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us; that is, must be our Priest and our Sacrifice, must die for our Sins, and intercede for us with God: but all this while a Sinner is not saved till he is finally acquitted and absolved; till he is actually delivered from the Curse of the Law, and possessed of Eternal Life and Glory; all things else are only Prepara­tory Acts, but the Final Judgment perfects [Page 305] our Salvation; for he who finally Par­dons, and bestows Heaven on us, is our Saviour: Christ might have been our Pro­phet, our Priest, and our Sacrifice, with­out being our Judge, but he could not have been our Saviour without it; and therefore after Christ's Resurrection from the Dead, after he had preach'd the Gospel, and died upon the Cross to expiate our Sins, he tells his Disciples, All power is gi­ven unto me both in heaven and in earth, 28 Matth. And St. Peter tells the Sanhe­drim, Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins, 5 Acts 31. So that he saves by Power, he is our Saviour and our Prince; and this Power is the Reward of his Obedi­ence and Sufferings: Therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Iesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Iesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, 2 Phil. 9, 10, 11. His Power to save is at­tributed to his Intercession, or Mediatory Kingdom: Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God [Page 306] by him, seeing he ever liveth to make i [...] ­tercession for them, 7 Heb. 25. And in like manner St. Paul attributes our Recon­ciliation to God, to the Death of Christ, but our Salvation to his Life; that is, to that Power he was invested with at his Resurrection from the Dead: For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled [...]nto God by the death of his Son: much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life; That is, actually delivered from the Wrath of God, by the Power and Autho­rity of a Living Saviour, 5 Rom. 10. Up­on the same account Christ is said to be delivered for our offences, and to be raised again for our justification; That is, finally to Absolve and Justifie us at the Day of Judgment, 4 Rom. 25. for we must ob­serve, that though Christ by his Death has made a general Atonement and Expi­ation for Sin, and those Men are said at present to be justified, who are in a justi­fied State; that is, who are within the Terms of the Covenant for Justification, who are such as Christ in his Gospel h [...]s promised to justifie; yet properly speak­ing, no Man is finally justified till he is fi­nally acquitted and absolved at the Day of Judgment; till he is judicially deliver­ed from the Wrath of God threatned a­gainst [Page 307] Sin, and actually sentenced to Life and Glory: And if Christ cannot do this for us, whatever other Benefits we receive by his Ministry and Death, he is not a complete and perfect Saviour; for he does not actually save us, unless he have Pow­er and Authority to Judge us, that is, fi­nally to Absolve us from all our Sins, and to bestow Heaven on us. Which shews, that the Saviour of Sinners must be their Judge, because we are not actually saved till we are finally judged: Moses was not a complete Saviour of Israel, because tho' he brought them out of AEgypt, yet he left them in the Wilderness; but Ioshua was their Saviour (and therein a Type of Christ) who gave them Possession of the Promised Land.

2. But besides the nature of the Thing, that our Saviour must be our Judge, that is, must actually save us; there is very great reason it should be so, because this gives Authority and Efficacy to all the Methods of Salvation: It will make Sin­ners afraid not to be saved by him, when they know that he must Judge them.

As to shew this particularly: It will give great Authority to his Laws and Counsels, and great Credit to his Promises and Threatnings:

[Page 308]1. It will give great Authority to his Laws and Counsels, to remember that our Lawgiver will be our Judge; that he who came into the World in Humane Nature to declare the Will of God to us, shall come again to Judge us by that Gospel which he preached. When God sends his Prophets to us, there is great reason to reverence the Authority of God in them; but much more when our Judge comes to preach to us himself, for we may be sure he will not preach in vain: the Laws he preached to us at his first coming, shall be the Rule whereby he will Judge us at his second coming:

Especially when we consider, that both our Prophet and our Judge is the Saviour of Mankind. We may possibly flatter our selves, that when God comes to Judg­ment, he may relax somewhat of the Ri­gour and Severity of his Laws; that he has reserved to himself a liberty of Dispen­sing with our Obedience to those Laws which by his Prophets he commanded us to Obey: but we cannot think that our Saviour would lay any unnecessary Bur­den on us, that he would require any thing of us under the Pain of Damnation, but what he expects we should do; that he will dispense with the Terms of the Go­spel, [Page 309] whic [...] are themselves a Dispensation with the Rigour of the Law; for there must be an end of Dispensing somewhere, unless Grace can dispense away all our Duty, and dispense unreformed and impe­nitent Sinners into Heaven: if this could be done, there was no reason why the Saviour of the World should have preach'd at all, or have given any Laws to Mankind, if he would have no regard to them in judging the World; but if the Judge of the World become a Preacher, it concerns us diligently to hearken to him, for whe­ther we will obey his Laws or no, we shall be judged by them.

2. This gives great Credit to his Pro­mises and Threatnings, when they are made by our Judge himself, who has Au­thority to execute them: Has Christ pro­mised Pardon of Sin to all true Penitents? has he promised to raise our dead Bodies out of the Grave immortal and glorious, to bestow a Crown and Kingdom on us? then we may depend on it, that he will do what he has promised; for he who has promised is able also to perform: He has Authority to forgive Sins, to raise the Dead, to receive all his Disciples into Hea­ven, into the immediate Presence of God, there to live and to rejoyce for ever; and [Page 310] when he, who came to save us, and [...] promised this great Salvation to us, has Power to give it, when he who has made these Promises, has the disposal of Life and Glory, and Heaven in his own hands; this is a mighty Encouragement to us, to be stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the Work of the Lord, for as much as we know that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

And have not all impenitent Sinners, as much reason to expect, that Christ will certainly execute that Vengeance on them, which he has threatned; that he will con­demn them to Eternal Night and Dark­ness, to Lakes of Fire and Brimstone, where there is Weeping and Wailing, and Gnashing of Teeth for evermore: For he is the Judge of the World, who has Pow­er and Authority to do it, and has declar­ed that he will do it, and then we have reason to take his word for it.

Men are apt to shelter themselves from the Terrors of the Law by the Merits and and Mediation and Mercies of a Saviour: God indeed is very just and severe, a con­suming Fire, and who can abide his com­ming? But the Blessed Jesus is a merciful and compassionate Saviour: He is so; in­finitely merciful, but yet this merciful Sa­viour [Page 311] has threatned Everlasting Fire a­gainst incorrigible Sinners, and he is our Judge too; and if he will condemn us at the last Day, what hope is there for us? where shall we find another Saviour to deliver us? It seems he is not all Mercy, as Sinners are apt to flatter themselves; No! he is a Judge, and a terrible Judge; and if our Saviour will judge us, it is dan­gerous to neglect so great Salvation.

That God did not intend meerly to fright Sinners with his Threatnings, is e­vident from the Sufferings of our Saviour: he could not save us without making A­tonement and Expiation for our Sins; and if he must undergo the Curse of the Law, if he must suffer Death to redeem Sinners, it is certain Sinners must have died, if Christ had not died for them: as St. Paul argues, If one died for all, then were all dead: for would God have laid the Pu­nishment of our Sins on Christ, if he had not intended to execute the Curse of the Law against Sinners? would he have de­livered up Christ to Death for us, if he had not intended that Sinners should die without a Sacrifice?

And when the Saviour of the World, who came to lay down his Life for us, to [...]edeem us from the Curse of the Law, [Page 312] threatens everlasting Destruction against impenitent and unbelieving Sinners, what reason have we to hope that he will not execute his Threatnings? those who are not redeemed by his Death must die them­selves; and it cannot be otherwise ex­pected, but that he who died to save us, will execute the Sentence of Eternal Death on all those who will not be saved by him: When he comes to Judgment, he will re­member the Shame and Agony, the Infa­my and Torments of the Cross, which he under went for Sinners; and this will make him revenge the Contempt of his dying and suffering Love; he suffered for Sin once, and though he were the Son of God, he bowed, and sweat, and died, un­der the weight of it: but all this is de­spised by Sinners, and goes for nothing; and now he will die no more for them, but they shall die for themselves, shall feel the weight of God's Wrath themselves, shall sweat, and groan, and die under it to Eternity.

II. It is very fitting and congruous, that the Man Christ Jesus, who is the Saviour, should be the Judge of the World; and that upon three Accounts: 1. This is a very fitting Reward of his Humiliation [Page 313] and Sufferings. 2. It gives great advan­tage to the Future Judgment, that the Son of Man is the Judge of Mankind. 3. It adds to the Glory, and Triumph, and Terrour of that Day, to have a visible Judge.

1. The Glory and Author [...]ty of a Judge is a very proper and fitting Reward of Christ's Humiliation and Sufferings: He became Man to save Mankind; though he was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God: yet he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, 2 Phil. 6, 7, 8.

This was a very low Condescension for the Son of God, to conceal his Eternal Majesty under so mean a Disguise of Flesh and Blood; to become Man as we are, to submit to all the Weaknesses and Infirmi­ties of Humane Nature, to choose a low and mean Fortune, to be treated with Contempt and Infamy, and to die a pain­ful and accursed Death upon the Cross. All this he submitted to in Obedience to his Father's Will, for the Redemption of [Page 314] Mankind; but it was not fitting this Son of Righteousness should always lie under an Eclipse, he must break forth at last with a new and surprizing Glory; the World must see what a great and excel­lent Person he was, who came to visit them in great Humility, who took upon him the form of a servant, and was despi­sed and rejected of men, a man of sorrow, and acquainted with grief: and therefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Iesus every knee should bow, both of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess, that Iesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Fa­ther, V. 10, 11. Christ is now exalted to the right Hand of God, as a Reward of his Humiliation and Sufferings, and ap­pears in the true Glory of an Incarnate God; but his Glory is now visible one­ly to the blessed Inhabitants of Heaven; those who despised him, persecuted him, spit on him, nailed him to the Cross; those who in all Ages since have derided the Crucified Jesus, and scorned his Re­ligion and Worship, see nothing of his Glory; but when he comes to Judge the World, then his Glory and Power shall [Page 315] be visible to all; this will put an end to the Reproach of the Cross, and turn it in­to Surprize and Wonder, when they shall see what a glorious Person he is, who sub­mitted to so infamous a Death.

When he came into the World, he ap­peared as other Men do, as mean as the meanest Men, clothed with a mortal Bo­dy of Flesh and Blood, without any ex­ternal Splendor of Birth or Fortune to re­commend him: but when this Son of Man shall return again to Judge the World, his external Appearance will then be glo­rious, so bright and transplendent, that he will Eclipse the Sun, as the Sun does the lesser Lights of Heaven; then God will be as visible in him, as Man was on Earth, and shine through Humane Nature, as the Soul does through the Body, that an In­carnate God will be as visible as a Man: Humane Nature will no longer veil and conceal the Glory of the Godhead, but shall bear all the visible Impressions of the Deity, and appear▪ with the awful Maje­sty of God: and this is a proper Reward for his mean appearance on Earth, for when God becomes Man, though there may be wise Reasons why he should con­ceal himself in Humane Nature for a while, yet it cannot and ought not to be always [Page 316] so, but if God becomes Man▪ he will at one time or other make his Glory visible to all the World in Humane Nature.

It was a low and vile submission for the Son of God, to be arraigned as a Male-factor before Pontius Pilate, to be fals­ly accused, unjustly condemned, made a Mock King, buffetted, scourged, reviled with the most bitter and insulting Scorn, and nailed upon the Cross, betwixt two Thieves; but the Scene will be changed, when he comes to Judge the World; when his Crown of Thorns shall be bright Rays of Glory, when the Wound in his Side, and the Print of the Nails in his Hands and Feet, shall be Springs and Foun­tains of Light, when his Cross shall be turned into a Triumphant Charriot and Throne of Judgment; and his Judge and Accusers, and all the Enemies and Despi­sers of his Cross, shall stand trembling be­fore him: this is the Triumph of the Crucified Jesus, this is the Reward of his Infamy and Death, and a proper Reward it is, to make him the Judge of the World, who was judged and condemned himself by Sinners.

The firm belief and perswasion of this now, that God has made him the Judge both of the Quick and Dead, takes away [Page 317] the Shame of the Cross: Let who dare mock at it, we do not blush to own our selves the Worshippers of the Crucified Je­sus, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, for him God raised from the Dead, and hath made him both Lord and Christ: we can read the History of his Arraignment and Condem­nation, without taking Offence at his Suf­ferings, (though a Christ crucified was to the Iews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,) because by an Eye of Faith we now see him advanced to the right Hand of God, clothed with Majesty and Pow­er, and expect shortly to see him come again in the Clouds of Heaven to Judge the World. Thus the Primitive Christi­ans defended themselves against the Re­proaches of Jews and Heathens, and thus we may to this day defend ourselves a­gainst the Scoffs of Atheists and Infidels: for a Crucified Jesus will appear a very glorious Prince, when he comes to Judge the World. It is very fitting, as you heard before, that the Saviour of Man­kind should be the Judge of the World, and it made it reasonable for our Saviour to submit to such an ignominious Death for the Salvation of Mankind, when the Ignominy of the Cross should be reward­ed [Page 318] and done away by the Glory and Tri­umph of the last Judgment; and there­fore the Apostle tells us, That for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despised the shame, and is set down on the right hand of God, 12 Heb. 1, 2.

2. It gives great advantage to the Fu­ture Judgment, that the Son of Man shall Judge the World, he who became Man, that he might be the Saviour of Mankind; for the very appearance of the Son of Man to Judge the World, will convince all Men of the Justice, Equity, and Com­passion of the last Judgment: and then God will be glorified in judging the World, when Men and Angels shall see and ac­knowledge the Justice and Equity of it: Now,

1. What could Mankind have desired more, had they had the choice of their own Judge, than to be judged by a Man? by a just, and good, and compassionate Man: It is a formidable thing to be judg­ed by God, who is a Pure and Holy Being▪ and who so holy, that he dares appear be­fore his Tribunal? He chargeth his an­gels with folly, and the heavens are not clean in his sight: But we are apt to ex­pect a more favourable Judgment from a Man, who has a kindness for Humane Na­ture, [Page 319] who is sensible of the Follies, Tem­ptations, and Infirmities of it, who will not judge us as if we were Angels, or un­bodied Spirits, but will remember that we are Men, that we are the Race of Apostate Man, that we have a corrupt Nature with­in, a tempting World, and a tempting De­vil without.

If this then will satisfie us, God has ap­pointed a Man for our Judge; one who is our Brother, Flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone; one who has suffered, and has been tempted as we are, who has lived in the midst of a wicked World, and knows the Conversation of Mankind, how easily Men are turned aside by Example, and Perswasion, and Interest, by Fears and Flatteries; and has a great Pitty for the Weaknesses of Men, and will make all fa­vourable Allowances for them:

Nay, more than this, we have not one­ly a Man, but God-Man for our Judge; a God personally united to Humane Na­ture. All Mankind have a great perswa­sion of God's Goodness, that the kindest and most compassionate Man in the World falls infinitely short of the Goodness of God; but they are afraid of his Holiness and of his Justice; that these Attributes will not suffer him to make sufficient Al­lowances [Page 320] for the Weakness of Humane Nature: On the other hand, tho' Men know enough to pitty each others Infir­mities, yet they are not always the most favourable [...]udges to one another; in rea­son they should be so, that those who are exposed to the same Temptations them­selves, who feel the Weaknesses and Infir­mities of Humane Nature, should pitty those who are overcome by them; but it is not always so, and therefore we cannot always rely on it: but when God becomes Man, we have all the Goodness of God, and all the tender Compassion of a Man, in their utmost perfection; that when God-Man is our Judge, if either God or Man can help us, we are safe; no Man need be afraid of such a Judge, who has not out-sinned the Mercies of a God, and the tender Compassions of a Man; and he who has, must perish, and the most mer­ciful Man must vindicate the Justice of God in it.

Especially, 2. when we remember that this Man is the Saviour of Mankind: He who is our Judge became Man that he might be our Saviour; and can we desire a more equal and favourable Judge then the Saviour of Mankind? We may be sure he has all the Kindness for us that we can [Page 321] desire: it was a mighty Love to Humane Nature, which brought him from Heaven, and clothed him with Flesh and Blood, and exposed him to all the Miseries and Suf­ferings of this Life, for our sakes; and when he did and suffered all this for us, can we suspect he will be a severe and un­equal Judge? that he who died for Sin­ners, will condemn any Sinners whom he can save? Has he then forgot his Agony and Bloody Sweat, his Cross and Passion? has he forgot that Love which brought him into the World, and which nailed him to the Cross, for the Salvation of Sin­ners? We need not doubt but the Saviour of Mankind is more strongly inclined to save than to destroy: than to destroy did I say! far be it from the great Lover of Souls, that he should have any inclination to destroy: This is foreign to his Design, this is against his Will, this is a force upon his Nature and Government; he is Incar­nate and Embodied Love, Mercy is the Temper and Complexion, the Glory and Triumph of his Kingdom▪ and therefore none shall eternally Perish, but those whom Infinite and Incarnate Love cannot save.

For we must remember, that he has now purchased us with his own Blood, that he has an Interest in us, that every [Page 322] Sinner he condemns, he pronounces Sen­tence against himself, he rejects what might have been, and what he passionate­ly desired should have been his own; and therefore we may be certain he will con­demn none, whom according to the most favourable Construction of the Terms of the Gospel he can save: I say, we may be as certain of this, as we are (to allude to some Parables of our Saviour) that a Man who has travelled into the Wilderness to find a lost Sheep, will bring it Home upon his back rejoycing, and not leave it to pe­rish there, when he has found it; or that a Woman, who sought diligently for her lost Groat, and rejoyced at the finding of it, will not immediately fling it away a­gain; or that a Father, who has received his Prodigal Son with all the Festival Ex­pressions of Joy, will not immediately turn him out of his Family to seek his Fortune: No, Christ has shed his Blood for us all, and the more he saves, the greater Reward he has of his Sufferings, the more numerous his Train and Retinue of redeemed Souls is, and Numbers add to the Glory of the Triumph: this may convince all Mankind, how merciful our Judge will be; and if we must be judg­ed at all, could God do more for us, then [Page 323] to appoint the Man Christ Jesus, who is our Saviour, to be our Judge.

But then consider on the other hand, what a terrible thing will it be to be con­demned by the Man Christ Jesus, the Sa­viour of the World? What Tumults and Convulsions of Thoughts must such Sin­ners labour under; they must be Self-condemned, they must feel all the Ago­nies of Guilt and Despair; for if they could reasonably excuse themselves, or the most merciful Man in the World could excuse them, their Judge would excuse them too. I know not how to bear the thoughts of this; the very imagination of it amazes and confounds me; to be dam­ned is a tolerable Punishment, in compa­rison of being damned by the Saviour of the World: And might I have been saved, will such a Sinner say, did my Saviour, who is now my Judge, a terrible Judge, shed his his Blood for me? did he pur­chase Heaven for me? and does he now condemn me to Hell, and deservedly too? against his own inclinations, though he lose the Purchase of his Blood by it? O Wretch that I am! might I have been sa­ved, and must I be damned, and damned by the Saviour of the World! What Fury and Passion will accompany these thoughts [Page 324] is not to be expressed by words; and I pray GOD, none of us may ever feel it.

3. Another thing, which made it so fitting and congruous, that the Son of Man should Judge the World, is, that he will be a visible Judge: It is very fitting the World should be visibly judged, for without this all the Pomp and Triumph of Judgment, nay some of the principal Ends of Judgment are lost: God judges the World in so publick a manner to con­vince the World of his Power, and Justice, and Goodness in the final Destruction of all bad Men, and the final Rewards of Ver­tue, and therefore this must be a visible Judgment, and then there must be a vi­sible Judgment-seat, and a visible Judge, a visible Glory and Power; bad Men must know for what they are judged, and see the Hand that executes Vengeance on them, or for ought I know, they might go Atheists and Infidels to Hell; and see no more of God in a fired World, then they do in Plague, or Sword, or Famine, or such other Judgments as God sends upon the Earth: they might curse their hard Fate, but neither accuse themselves, nor own the Divine Power and Justice; and could they sink into Hell without [Page 325] owning the Being and Justice of God, or acknowledging their own Guilt and De­serts, and accusing themselves as the Au­thors of their own Misery and Destructi­on; God would lose the Glory of his Ju­stice and Power, and Hell itself would be a very tolerable place to Sinners; there would be Fire there to burn them, but no Worm to gnaw their Consciences, no inward Furies to torment them: the Ju­stice of the last Judgment, which will stop the Mouths of Sinners, and make them confess their own Guilt and Deserts, will make the Flames of Hell so furiously rage and devour.

So that it is necessary that the last Judgment should be executed by a visi­ble Judge, that it may not be thought the Effect of Chance and Accident, or Fate, but the Result of the Divine Wis­dom and Counsel; that the World may see and know, that God is come to Judge them, and to take Vengeance on all the Workers of Iniquity; and this also makes the Son of Man a very proper Judge of Mankind, because he is a visible God, and can appear in a visible Glory, and as vi­sibly Judge the World, as any Earthly Prince or Judge when he ascends the Judgment-seat.

[Page 326]This will be the Glory of that Day, to see the visible Appearance of the Son of Man in the Clouds of Heaven, attended with Myriads of Angels to his Throne of Glory, where he sits incircled with the Heavenly Host, and all Mankind standing before his Tribunal, expecting their final Doom from his Mouth: Good Lord! how will such a Sight as this affect us! could we but paint a lively Image and Repre­sentation of Judgment upon our Fancies, how would it warm our Hearts! how would it disparage all the pompous Pa­geantry of this World! how would it re­vive the Spirits of good Men, inspire them with Courage and Resolution, with Zeal and Activity in serving Christ, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearance of the great God, and our Saviour Iesus Christ: What terror would the thoughts of it strike into Sinners; how would it cool the heat of Lust; how would it make their Countenance change, and loosen the Joynts of their Loyns, and make their Knees knock one against another, like the Hand writing upon the Wall, while they are carousing in their full Bowls, and drinking away the Thoughts of God and Judgment!

Who can possibly conceive the Joy and [Page 327] Exultation of that Day, when good Men shall see their Lord coming in the Clouds of Heaven, clothed with a Humane Body, but bright and glorious as the Sun; a Bo­dy which still retains the Marks of his Sufferings, and the Tokens of his Love.

How will it transport us to see him whom our Soul loveth! to see him whom we have so passionately longed, and de­sired to see! to see him whom we love, though we have not seen him! To see him, I say, not as the Shepherds did, a poor helpless Infant, wrapped in Swadling-clouts, and lying in a Manger; to see him not arraigned for a Malefactor, nor hanging in a shameful manner upon the Cross, but to see him in all his Majesty and Glory, to see him a Triumphant Con­queror and Judge, to see him with Crowns and Laurels in his hands, and in him to see the Certainty of our Faith, the Com­pletion of our Hopes, the Rewards of our Patience and Sufferings, and our final Con­quest over Death and Hell: O joyful Day, when this Royal Bridegroom shall come in the Glory of his Father, to meet his Spouse the Church, to conduct her to his Father's House, there to see, and there to partake in his Glory, and never to part more.

[Page 328]Methinks I see holy and devout Souls in the highest Raptures and Extasies of Joy, embracing and comforting one ano­ther at the appearance of their Lord: Here comes the Blessed Jesus, it is he him­self, the true Image of God, the very Brightness of his Father's Glory: This is that blessed Day we have so long expect­ed and hoped for; let us go forth and meet him; let us hasten into the Embra­ces of our Saviour: He is come to Judg­ment, but let those tremble at Judgment, who are afraid of the Judge: we are his, he has bought us with his Blood, he has renewed and sanctified us by his Spirit, and now he is come to own us in the presence of Men and Angels, to bestow a Kingdom on us, to receive us to himself, that where he is, we may be also, and be­hold his Glory.

But then on the other hand, consider, I beseech you, what a terrible Sight this will be to bad Men, who have laughed at the Fable of a Crucified Jesus, and mock­ed at Future Judgment: And is he come, will such a Sinner say, and must I be judg­ed at last, when I thought myself so se­cure of Judgment! Behold, I see him, and can be an Infidel no longer: Lord what Terrour is there in his Looks! how do [Page 329] his Eyes flame with Vengeance! who can abide the Day of his Wrath! How can I appear before him as my Judge, whom I would not have for my Saviour! what account can I give of my actions, who never expected to be called to an account for them! what Plea can I make for my self, who would never believe, who would never be perswaded; how shall I bear his Presence, and yet whether can I flie from him! when he condemns me, to whom can I Appeal from the Judge and the Sa­viour of the World! O Wretch that I am, who would never believe, never think of this Day, and now I must be condemned by the Saviour of the World.

Let these Thoughts then make a deep impression upon our Minds, before that Day comes; let us remember that the Son of Man will be our Judge, he who laid down his Life for us, he who now invites us to Repentance, he who now promises Pardon and Forgiveness to true Penitents; let this teach us to reverence his Laws, to imitate his Example, to put our whole Trust and Confidence in his Merits and Intercession, That when he cometh again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise with him unto life immortal; as our Church teaches us to pray.

[Page 330] Secondly, Let us now consider what Assurance we have, that the Man Christ Jesus shall be the Judge of the World: and of this St. Paul tells us, That God hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

But you'll say, how does the Resurre­ction of Christ from the Dead prove, that he is made the Judge of the World? For that any Man rises from the Dead, does not prove that he is Judge of the World: we shall all rise again the last Day, but not to judge, but to be judged: This is very true, and therefore if we knew no more of Christ, but only that he rose a­gain from the Dead, this would not prove him to be the Judge of the World.

But we must consider, 1. That the Re­surrection of Christ is a great and irresisti­ble Proof of the Doctrine which he preach­ed: this our Saviour himself appeals to, as the last Proof of his Divine Authority, Destroy this temple, and in three days will I raise it up: And thus his Resurrection from the Dead proves that he is the Judg [...] of the World, for this he expresly taught his Disciples, That God had committed all judgment into his hands; that the Son of [Page 331] man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then shall he reward e­very man according to his works. So that our Saviour plainly declared, that God had made him the Judge of the World; and God has confirmed his Testimony by raising him from the Dead.

2. We must consider also, that the Re­surrection of Christ was his visible Ad­vancement into his Kingdom: then his Kingdom began, when he rose from the Dead: then all power was committed to him both in heaven and in earth, 28 Mat. And that God has thus advanced him, was visible to all Men in the Effusion of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, on the Day of Pentecost, and in those wonderful Mi­racles which they wrought in his Name: Thus St. Peter tells the Iews, that the mi­raculous Effusion of the Spirit was a visi­ble Proof, that God had advanced Christ into his Kingdom, 2 Acts 33. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. And from hence concludes, v. 36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Iesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Thus [Page 332] upon occasion of the Miracles the Apostles wrought, when they were forbid to preach in his Name, St. Peter tells the Sanhedrim, The God of our fathers raised up Iesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Hi [...] hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give re­pentance unto Israel, and remission of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him, 5 Acts 30, 31. So that when Christ rose again, he took possession of his Kingdom, and he must Reign till he hath put down all Enemies under his Feet; that is, till he hath judg­ed the World, finally condemned all bad Men, and rewarded his faithful Disciples, and then he shall give up the Kingdom again unto his Father, that God may be all in all, 1 Cor. 15.

But besides this, there are two visible Effects of the Resurrection of CHRIST, which are plain Presages and Preludiums to a Future Judgment, the Destruction of the Iewish Nation and Policy; and the Destruction of the Kingdom of Dark­ness:

1. The Destruction of the Iews, for their great Sin in Crucifying their Mes­sias: This Christ foretold he would do, [Page 333] this is the meaning of that Parable of the noble man, who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to re­turn. —But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And when he returned, he said, But those mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them be­fore me, 19 Luke 12, 14, 27. And there­fore when Christ had foretold the Destru­ction of the Temple, and his Disciples asked him, When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the World? Our Savi­our intermixes the Prophesie of the De­struction of Ierusalem, the Fate of the Iew­ish Nation, and the last Judgment, or the end of the World; the Destruction of the Iewish Nation, being the beginning and the Presage of a Future Judgment, 24 Matth. This was a visible Act of his Ju­stice and Power, and a fair Warning to the World, what all the Enemies of Christ's Kingdom must expect.

2. The Overthrow of the Devil's King­dom in the World, is another Presage of a Future Judgment: When Christ appear­ed the Devil had his Kingdom in this World, was the God of this World, and [Page 334] was worshipped with Divine Honours; and St. Iohn tells us, For this end the Son of God was manifest, to destroy the works of the devil, 1 Joh. 3.8. And Christ tells us▪ That the Holy Ghost, whom he would send upon his Apostles after his Resurre­ction from the Dead, should convince the world of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged, 16 John 11. Where by Judgment I understand the final Judg­ment, which the Spirit should convince the World of by that visible Judgment he would execute upon the Prince of this World: For by the preaching of the Go­spel, he turned Men from Darkness unto Light, and from the Power of Satan unto God; converted great part of the Heathen World, silenced their Oracles, and exposed their Gods, and their Worship, their Tem­ples and their Altars to contempt.

This was a visible Judgment of the Prince of this World; and have not bad Men reason to look about them, when they see their Prince and Captain so mi­serably defeated? If Christ have already begun to execute Judgment on the Prince of this World, is not this a plain Fore-run­ner of the final Judgment, when the Devil and his Angels, and all bad Men shall be condemned to Eternal Fire.

[Page 335]This assurance we have, that the Son of Man shall Judge the World, that God hath raised him from the Dead, and there­by confirmed that Testimony which he gave of himself, advanced him to the right Hand of Power, and has already given some sensible Proofs of his Power and Ju­stice, in the Overthrow of the Iewish Na­tion, and the Devil's Kingdom.

I shall only farther observe, that this sensible Proof we have, that Christ shall Judge the World, is a sensible Proof of a Future Judgment; as certain as we are that Christ is risen from the Dead, so cer­tain we are of a Future Judgment, which is an abundant Confirmation of all those other Arguments from Reason and Scri­pture, that God will Judge the World.

CHAP. IV. The Manner and Circumstances of CHRIST's Appearance, and the Awful Solemnities of Iudge­ment.

IV. LET us now consider the Manner and Circumstances of Christ's Appearance, and the Awful Solemnities of Judgment: I have upon several Occa­sions hinted at most of these things al­ready, but the Order of my Discourse re­quires that I should say something parti­cularly, though briefly to them:

Now our Saviour tells us, 16 Matth. 27. That the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels. 9 Luke 26. That the Son of man shall come in his own glory, and in his Fathers's, and of the holy angels. That the Lord Iesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire; taking ven­geance on them [...]hat know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Iesus Christ, 2 Thess. 1.7, 8. That the Lord himself [Page 337] shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; which shall awaken the dead and raise them out of their graves; but the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive, (that is, whoever shall then be alive at Christ's coming to Judg­ment,) shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord, 1 Thess. 4.16, 17. That when the Son of man cometh in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shep­herd divideth his sheep from the goats, 25 Matth. 31, 32. Or as it is described in St. Iohn's Visions, 20 Revel. 11, 12, 13. And I saw a white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and hea­vens fled away, and there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judg­ed out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. This gives us a general Prospect of the Order and Solemnity of the last Judgment, which [Page 338] is very Pompous, and Glorious, and very Terrible: there never was any thing like it, all the Roman Triumphs in compari­son with this, were but like the Sports, and Apish Imitations of Children; let us then particularly, but briefly consider the several parts of it.

Christ shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

In his own glory; that must signifie the Glory of his Person, that is, the Glory of an Incarnate God: His Body will be bright and glorious as the Sun; so it was when he was transfigured before them on the Mount, His face did shine like the s [...], and his raiment was white as the light, 17 Matth. 2. And if there be any new de­grees of Glory and Majesty, we may be sure he will appear in it all, when he comes to Judgment: The Scripture as­sures us, that Christ is now clothed with a glorious Body, and that at the Resurre­ction he shall change our vile bodies, 3 Phil. [...]2 [...] that they may be like to his own most glorio [...]s body; 13 Mat. 43. and he himself tells us, At that day the righteous shall shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father: And if he bestows such Glory on his meanest Members, how glorious will the Head be! for St. Paul assures us, that there are ve­ry [Page 339] different degrees of Glory, There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead, 1 Cor. 15.41, 42. With what Glo­ry then will our Lord appear, when he comes to Judgment! If the Righteous shall shine forth like the Sun, how bright will the Sun of Righteousness himself be! If meer Creatures shall appear so glorious, what will the Glory of an Incarnate God be! for he will not then appear as a glo­rious Creature, but as a visible God; as I observed before, his Godhead will shine through his glorified Humanity, as visib­ly as our Souls do through our Bodies: and how glorious must that Body be, in which the Deity appears; a Glory which distinguishes a God from the most glori­ous Creatures.

But he must appear in the Glory of his Father also; that is, as I understand it, with the Authority of an Universal Judge: this is a great Glory, for Authority and Power carries Reverence and Majesty with it: whatever Mens personal Qualifications are, though upon all other accounts they are much inferior to their Neighbours, yet the Character of a Judge makes them [Page 340] Venerable, especially to those who must be judged by them: Authority is an in­visible Character, but yet gives a vi­sible Majesty; it is apt to impose upon our Judgments of Persons, that we hardly think them the same Men when they are in Authority and out of it; and if an or­dinary Judge of Assize be lookt on with so much Reverence and Awe, what is the Glory and Majesty of an Universal Judge! How will all the World fall, and bow, and tremble before him, who with the Word of his Mouth can sentence them to Eter­nal Life or Death! This is his Father's glory, for he is the Natural Lord and Judge of the World, and from him he re­ceives this Authority to Judge the World, The Father judgeth no man; but hath com­mitted all judgment to the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they ho­nour the Father, 5 John 22, 23. To this Glory he is now advanced; and we must now Obey, and Reverence, and Adore him as our Judge, but it will give a visible Ma­jesty to him, when he thus comes in the Glory of his Father; when the astonish­ing Glory of his Person is still made more Glorious and Majestick by the Authority of a Judge.

[Page 341]But his Retinue is very glorious also, and adds to the Terror and Majesty of his Appearance, for he shall come attended with Myriads of holy Angels; bright and glorious Beings, who incircle his Person, and are the Witnesses and Ministers of his Justice.

We know a splended Retinue adds great­ly to the Glory of a Prince or Judge: a Multitude has something great and awful in it, especially when this Multitude are all his Dependants, Servants, and Mini­sters; and more still, when every one of this Multitude are most excellent and glo­rious Creatures, the Beauty and Perfecti­on of the Creation, whose single Glories we cannot now bear the sight of, without great Apprehension and Amazement: and what a mighty Prince is he, who comes attended with the whole Host of Heaven, who leave their heavenly Mansions to wait upon their Lord, and to adorn his Tri­umphs!

But this glorious Retinue of Angels is not meerly for Pomp and State, but they are the Ministers of his Justice, and there­fore are called his mighty Angels, [...]. or the Angels of his Power, 2 Thess. 1.8. And what a powerful Judge is he, who has all the Powers of Heaven attending him [Page 342] to execute his Vengeance on Men and De­vils!

This glorious Judge shall at the last Day come down from Heaven, for thither he ascended after his Resurrection from the Dead, and there he must continue till he comes to Judge the World: but then the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archan­gel, and with the trump of God, 2 Thess. 4.16. I see no reason why this should not be understood literally, of an audible Voice and Shouting, and an audible sound of the last Trumpet to summon all Man­kind to Judgment; for this makes the Appearance more solemn and awful; and thus God descended on Mount Sinai, when he gave the Law, With thundrings and lightnings, and the voice of a trumpet ex­ceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp, trembled, 19 Exod. 16. And if he gave the Law with the sound of a Trumpet, why not Judge the World with it too?

This Shout is the shouting of the holy Angels, begun by the Voice of the Arch­angel, in their descent with Christ; and signifies what such Shoutings do among Men, either great Joy and Exultation, or A­lacrity and Courage: thus Men shout for [Page 343] joy when any thing happens which high­ly pleases them; thus Souldiers shout when the Signal is given for Battle.

Thus when our Lord shall say, Come ye holy Angels, go down with me to Judge the World; they will shout for joy that that day is come, which will put a final end to the Kingdom of Darkness; when the Devil and his Angels, and all wicked Men shall be cast into the Lake of Fire; and good Men rewarded, and crowned, and received into the immediate Presence of God in Heaven: For this is matter of Joy to all holy Angels, to see the final Conquest of all the Enemies of CHRIST'S Kingdom; to see the Triumphs of Ju­stice, to see all Impiety and Wickedness shamed, condemned, and punished, and the World cleansed from the Pollutions of it; to see their numbers encreased by the advancement of good Men into Heaven, who will now be united to their Compa­ny, and joyn with them in singing Halelu­jahs to Him that sitteth on the Throne, and to the Lamb; for if there be Joy in Heaven at the Repentance of one Sinner, what Exultation and Acclamations will there be, to see the whole number of GOD'S Elect raised again with glorious Bodies, and receive that Kingdom which [Page 344] was prepared for them before the Founda­tions of the World!

When our Lord shall say, Come ye ho­ly Angels, and be the Ministers of my Ju­stice, and execute my Vengeance upon a wicked World, upon the Devil and all bad Men, and gather together mine Elect from the four Corners of the Earth; with what Shoutings will they receive their Com­mission! with what Alacrity and Cour­age will they execute it! for so our Savi­our himself represents it, that the Angels are not meerly Attendants of State, but his Officers and Ministers whom he em­ploys in Judging the World: thus he ex­pounds the Parable of the Tares, 13 Mat. 41, 42, 43. He that soweth good seed, is the Son of man: The field is the world: the good seed are the children of the king­dom: but the tares are the children of the wicked one: The enemy that sowed them, i [...] the devil: the harvest is the end of the world: and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burnt in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the World. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather forth out of his kingdom all things that offe [...], and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be [Page 345] [...]iling and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father. And thus he expounds the Parable of the Net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, and the bad they cast a­way. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, v. 47, 48, 49, 50.

What is meant by the trump of God, with which Christ descends from Heaven, is hard to say; only thus much we know, that it is such a Trumpet, at the sound of which the Dead shall rise; as St. Paul ex­presly tells us, 1 Cor. 15.51, 52. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, (for the trumpet shall sound) and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. And therefore this last Trump seems to be what our Saviour calls the Voice of the Son of God, 5 John 25, 28, 29. Verily verily I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall [Page 346] hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live: Which may indeed be understood of a Metaphorical or Spi­ritual Death and Resurrection, that those who were dead in Sin, should be raised to a new Spiritual Life by hearing the Voice of the Son of God, and believing on him, but though our Saviour might intend this sence, yet he meant somewhat more by it, as appears from what follows: Mar [...] not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. So that the Voice of Christ shall raise the Dead, which may well be called the Trump of God, when it shall found through all the World, and give a new Life to the Dead, and sum­mon 'em to Judgment.

For this is another very material Cir­cumstance of the Future Judgment, that all the Dead, both good and bad, shall be raised to Life again, and appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ: that as we must give an account of whatever we have done in this Body, whether good or bad, so we must re-assume our Bodies again when we come to Judgment. I shall no [...] [Page 347] now discourse to you of the Nature or Possibility of the Resurrection, which be­longs to another Argument; but the Man Christ Jesus is the Judge of Mankind, he appears in Humane Nature himself, cloath­ed with an Humane Body, though infi­nitely bright and glorious; and he comes to Judge Men, not unbodied Souls, and therefore we must be reunited to our Bo­dies again, for a Humane Soul is not a perfect Man without its Body. An un­bodied Soul is guilty of none of those Sins for which we must be judged, for we must be judged for what we did in the Body; the Man sinned, and the Man must be judged, and the Man must be either happy or miserable for ever.

Lord! with what Horrour and Relu­ctancy will bad Souls enter into their Bo­dies again; not to enjoy their old beloved Sensualities, but to be judged for them! when the very sight of their Bodies shall call to mind all the Villanies they acted in them; when they must appear before their Judge with all the Instruments of Wickedness about them, with those very Bodies whose members they had made ser­vants of uncleanness, and to iniquity unto i­niquity; with Eyes full of Adultery, with Hands stained with Blood, or full of Bribes [Page 348] or Rapine, with a blaspheming, a lying, a reviling, a perjured Tongue; to unite a Soul to such a Body again, is like tying a Man to his murdered Friend, which will both scare and torment his Conscience, and poison him with a noisom Stench. The Body, which was the Tempter and the Instrument in all this Wickedness, will now be a Witness against him, and an In­strument of his Punishment too.

But holy Souls will give a better Wel­come to their Bodies, Bodies in which the Flesh was subdued to the Spirit; which were preserved pure and clean from all sensual Lusts, which were the ready In­struments of Righteousness and Vertue, which were offered up living, holy, and acceptable Sacrifices to God; which suf­fered loss, and want, and torment, and death for the sake of Christ: good Men would desire to be judged in such Bodies as these, which are visible Testimonies of their Faith, and Patience, and Mortificati­on, and Self-denial, which are the Mem­bers of Christ, and the Temples of the Ho­ly Ghost.

Thus all Mankind shall rise out of their Graves, and appear before the Judgment seat of Christ; and therefore now let us Contemplate our Lord, sitting upon his [Page 349] Throne, the Throne of Judgment, as he himself tells us, 25 Matth. 31. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. Thus it is described in the Revelations of St. Iohn, 20 Revel. 13. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. What this Throne is, or where it shall be placed, we are not told; but the most probable Conjecture is, that this Throne is a bright resplendant Cloud in the form of a Magnificent Throne, placed in the Air, at some distance from the Earth; for he is said to come in the Clouds of Hea­ven; and St. Paul plainly intimates to us, that his Throne shall be in the Air, when he tells us, that those good Men, who shall be alive at Christ's coming, shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air: and it is not improbable, but this may be near Ierusalem, where the Temple of God was, where he conversed while he lived on Earth, and where he was judged and condemned as a Malefactor, and treated with the utmost Scorn and Contempt, and nailed in an infamous manner upon the Cross; for it seems to add to the Triumph [Page 350] of that Day, to appear in all his Glory to Judge the World, at that very place when he suffered Shame, and Reproach, and Death, for the Sins of Men, and from the hands of Sinners. But this is all Con­jecture, (though not without some ap­pearing Probability) and therefore I shall build nothing on it.

The Judge being sat, all Mankind ap­pear before him, to give an account of their Actions, and to receive their fina [...] Sentence: Before him shall be gathered [...] nations; and he shall separate them [...] from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats, 25 Mat. 32. This, [...] I observed before, our Saviour attributes to the Ministry of Angels, who separate the Wheat from the Tares, and the good Fi [...] from the bad: for the angels we know [...] ministring spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, 1 Heb. 14. and therefore they know how to di­stinguish between good and bad Men, and to separate them from each other.

This is the last and final Separation; good and bad Men shall never meet and intermix with each other after this: they live together in this World, and conve [...] together, are united by Relation and In [...] ­rest; are Members of the same Church▪ [Page 351] and Worship God together in the same Holy Communion of Prayers and Sacra­ments, but they must part Company at the Day of Judgment; the one to the right Hand, and the other to the left: Men are very apt to flatter themselves now, that they shall fare the better for the Company they keep; no Church and no Communion is pure enough for them, not that they are so much Holier than their Neighbours, but they are of Opinion, that God will judge of them by the Church they are of; and therefore whatever Church strikes their Fancy most with an appear­ance of Sanctity and Holiness, there they joyn themselves, not so much to be made better by their Company, as to escape the better with them: but they should remem­ber, that the Tares and the Wheat grow together in the same Field, but yet have a very different end; the one is gathered into the Barn, and the other is burnt: and that good and bad Fish are taken in the same Net, but they are separated at the Day of Judgment: All our Separations now will avail us nothing, unless we take care to be found in the Number of Christ's Sheep, when we come to Judgment; for if we be concealed Hypocrites, and rotten and corrupt Members of a Sound and Or­thodox [Page 352] and Pure Church, though we have conversed with good Men all our lives here, yet we must part Company at last; the angels at that day will gather forth [...] of Christ's kingdom, and Church, all things which offend, and work iniquity.

The Judge being thus seated on his Throne, and all Mankind before him, the Books are opened; which is another Cir­cumstance to be considered in the last Judgment, 20 Revel. 12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. The like we have, 7 D [...] 10.

This opening of the Books seems to be an Allusion to the Form of Process in Hu­mane Judicatures, for we cannot think that God keeps Books of Record in a literal sence, as Men do; for such Books are one­ly Helps to Memory, and therefore God needs them not: but this represents to us the exact and impartial Justice of the last Judgment; for there are two sorts of Books, which shall be opened, and out of which we shall be judged: 1. The Laws of God, which are the Rule of our Acti­ons, [Page 353] by which we shall be judged. 2. The Records of our Lives and Actions, which contain the Matters of Fact, or that for which we shall be judged. I shall di­scourse more particularly of this hereaf­ter, and shall only observe at present, that God is a curious Observer of all our A­ctions, and keeps a faithful Record of them; though we take little notice of our Sins ourselves, and forget them pre­sently, and then think they are gone and past, yet God remembers them, and we shall find fair and fresh Records of them, when we come to Judgment: And how will it amaze and confound bad Men to see all the Sins of their Lives called to re­membrance, to see a black Catalogue of all their Impieties and Blasphemies, Inju­stice and Oppression, Uncleanness and Im­purities, to see an exact Counterpart of a most wicked and ungodly Life! No­thing can blot our Sins out of God's Book but a sincere Repentance and Reformati­on of our Lives; for then God has pro­mised to blot out all our iniquities, which is somewhat more then crossing the Ac­count; for when the Account is only crossed, it is visible still, but what is blot­ted-out, don't so much as appear; it no longer stands upon Record, it is forgot, [Page 354] and shall never be alleadged against us; there shall be no mention made of it at the Day of Judgment; for St. Iohn tells us, there is another Book shall be open­ed, the Book of Life, out of which good Men shall be judged, which records their Faith, and Patience, and Charity, and all the good they have done; but none of their Sins, which God has blotted out of his Remembrance, and has promised to keep no Record of them: And is not this a mighty encouragement to true Repen­tance, that all our Sins shall be blotted out before the Day of Judgment, that there shall be no mention, no remem­brance of them then.

Some very good Men have been guilty of very great Wickedness, which it may be none but God and their own Consci­ences know; and the best Men have so many Failings, Weaknesses, Miscarriages, that should all the Sins of good Men be exposed to the View and Censure of Men and Angels at the Day of Judgment, tho' they were finally absolved and acquitted, yet it would cause great Shame and Con­fusion, and overcast the Glory of that Day; but their Sins are done away and forgot, and they have washed their Gar­ments, and made them white in the Blood [Page 355] of the Lamb: this is the only way to con­ceal your most secret Sins, to blot them out of God's Book by Repentance; for if they remain there upon Record, how suc­cessful soever you may be in concealing them at present, the Books will be open­ed at the Day of Judgment, and then all the World will know them.

Thus in our Saviour's Account of the last Judgment, none of the Sins which good Men ever committed, are mention­ed, but only the Graces and Vertues for which they are rewarded; nor is there a­ny notice taken of any good Actions done by bad Men, but only of their Sins, 25 Mat. as God expresly declares it shall be 32 Ezek. 13, 14, 16. When I shall say to the righte­ous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness (to the good he hath already done) and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembred: but for his iniquity that he hath committed he shall die for it. Again, when I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, if he turn from his sin, and doth that which is lawful and right: —None of his sins that he hath committed, shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.

[Page 356]And now let us consider in what order Christ will Judge the World: When he has separated between the Sheep and the Goats, between good and bad Men; he first calls good Men to Judgment, and pronounces them blessed, as we see 25 Matth. And this very much becomes the Person of our Judge, who is the Saviour of the World, and therefore to save is his proper Work, and must take place of all Acts of Justice and Vengeance; the Sa­viour of the World, as I observed before, must be our Judge, that he may be a com­plete and perfect Saviour, that he may fi­nally acquit and reward us; and therefore this is his first care, to separate his Elect from the Company, and to deliver them from the Destruction of the Ungodly.

This demonstrates to all the World, that God takes more pleasure to save then to destroy; this convinces Sinners that their Destruction is from themselves, that they might have been saved as well as others, for Christ came to save them; and they see now, that he would have done it, would they have been saved by him: in the Glory which is conferred on good Men, they see what they have lost, be­fore they hear that terrible Sentence pro­nounced, Go ye cursed into everlasting fire; [Page 357] and this is a double Damnation to see the Happiness of good Men, and to feel their own Misery; for when we come to Judg­ment to lose Heaven will be thought a ter­rible Punishment, though there were no Hell; and this Punishment bad Men have by being suffered to stand by, and see the glorious Rewards of the Righteous.

But there is a further reason also for this; that good Men, when they are ac­quitted and absolved, shall together with their Lord sit in Judgment on the wicked World: 1 Cor. 6.2, 3. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? —Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How far this extends we know not, but it seems such a thing there is, as was universally believed in the Apostle's Days, as appears from his Appeal to their own knowledge of it; but if they must Judge the World, it is reasonable to think that their own Judgment must be over first.

I shall name but one thing more, which I have had several occasions to take no­tice of already, and that is, That at the last Judgment this Earth shall be destroyed with Fire, as S. Peter expresly tells us, The day of the Lord shall come like a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the ele­ments [Page 358] shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up, 2 Pet. 3.10. This has been an old Tradition, that the World shall be destroyed by Fire; and some Men are very curious and inquisitive by what Natural Causes this may be done; for they are not willing to allow, that God either made or destroys the World by an immediate Power; for the less they leave for God to do, the less they are con­cerned about him: but though it is hard to perswade some Men now, that there was any need of a God to make the World, which they think could make itself with­out him, yet the last Judgment shall con­vince them, that it is God that destroys it, when they shall see the World fired by a flame streaming from his Throne, as is not improbable by the Description of the Prophet Daniel, A fiery stream issued, and came forth from before him, 7 Dan. 10.

The only Question is, Whether the World shall be fired at Christ's first ap­pearance to Judgment, or after the final Sentence pronounced against bad Men? The first does not seem probable, because Christ himself shall place his Throne in the Air, and all Mankind shall be gather­ed before him to Judgment, and a fired [Page 359] World is not a proper Scene for such an Appearance; and the burning of the World seems to be an Act of Judgment and Vengeance; as St. Paul tells us, He shall descend from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, 2 Thess. 1.8. So that the Devil and bad Men shall first be condemned to E­verlasting Fire, and then their Punishment shall begin in a Fired World.

Thus I have given you a brief View of the Circumstances and Manner of Christ's Appearance, and the Awful Solemnities of Judgment, every part of which is for the Glory of our Lord, for the Comfort of good Men, and a Terrour to the wicked. God grant we may so think of this Day before hand, that we may not feel the Terrour and Astonishment of it, when it comes.

CHAP. V. Who are to be Iudged, viz. The World, or all Mankind.

V. LET us consider who are to be judged, and they are the World, or all Mankind: for I shall take no no­tice of the Judgment of the Devil and the Apostate Angels, which we know no more of, but only that they shall be judged, that the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath re­served in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, Jude, v. 6.

Why their Judgment is deferred so long we cannot tell; for it is plain, that the Angels fell from their first Estate before Man, and how long we know not, for it was the Serpent that beguiled Eve; but this we know, that whatever their first A­postasie was, they have a great deal more to answer for now, and must expect a more terrible Condemnation: All the Sin that is in the World is originally owing to the Temptation of the Devil, who se­duced [Page 361] our first Parents in Paradise, and has ever since been the great Tempter to Wickedness and Apostasie from God; and therefore he is in some degree entitled to all the Wickedness of Mankind.

And this is a good reason why the De­vil and his Angels, and all bad Men should be judged and condemned together, those who tempt, and those who are overcome by Temptations; the Prince of Darkness, and all his Subjects, whether Angels or Men. Hell is the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels, not for Men; but when he has drawn Mankind into the A­postasie, it is fit they should share in his Punishments too; and when our Lord comes to Judge Men who have been se­duced and corrupted by Evil Spirits, there is no reason to think that wicked Spirits should escape, who have seduced and ty­rannized over Mankind.

But that which we are at present con­cerned in, is the Judgment of Mankind, That God hath appointed a Day wherein he will Judge the World, or the whole Race of Men, as St. Iohn represents it, I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, 20 Revel. 12.

No Man who believes a Future Judge­ment, makes any doubt of this, but that [Page 362] all shall be judged: For if any, why not all? We are all alike God's Creatures, we are all equally accountable to him, and though we have very different Talents, yet we have all some Talent or other to improve for our Master's use: And there­fore I shall not go about to convince any Man, that he is to be judged as well as the rest of Mankind; but there are some Persons who are apt to forget this, who have yet as much occasion to think of a Future Judgment, as any other Men, and therefore ought to be minded of it: and they are those who are very Rich and Great, or very Poor, or in the Vigour and Gaiety of Youth.

1st, Rich and Great Men, Princes and Potentates, Men of Honour and Fortune, who are exalted above the common Level of Mankind: These must all be judged as well as the meanest Men, though they are not very apt to think of it; great Power and great Riches make them reverenced and adored like so many little Deities in this World; all Men court and flatter them, and make a great distinction be­tween them and those of a meaner Rank and Fortune; and this is apt to swell their Minds; they look down upon the rest of [Page 363] the World as very much below them; and think they merit much when ever they look up to God: for such great Men as they are to worship God, and lift up their Eyes sometimes to Heaven, they i­magine is so great an Honour to God, and Credit to Religion, that a very little mat­ter will be accepted from them: they see Humane Judicatures very often have great respect for Mens persons in Judgment, and they hope God will consider their Quality too, and deal with them like Prin­ces, or Nobles, or Gentlemen; as one un­fortunate Gentleman expressed himself not many Years since at the Gallows; and I fear therein spoke the secret Thoughts and Hopes of many others: so that if these Men believe they shall be judged, yet they perswade themselves, that they shall not be judged like other Men; that God will wink at their Faults, and have respect to their Rank and Quality, and excuse them from the strict Observation of those Laws which were made for meaner Per­sons.

I suppose you do not expect I should gravely and seriously confute such vain Conceits as these, which few Men dare profess, and own, and defend, though they secretly flatter themselves with such Hopes, [Page 364] as is too visible in their lives; but since Men are apt to think such things as they dare not speak, it will be useful to sug­gest some wiser Thoughts to them, which may prevent such Imaginations, and bring the greatest Men living under the Awe and Terrour of the Future Judgment.

For what a vain Imagination is it, That God will have regard to Earthly Great­ness in judging the World! For what is this World, and all the Greatness and Glo­ry of it, to him who made it? Great and small are but comparative Terms, and no­thing is great, when compared with that which is greater: Consider the Glory of our Judge, as I have already represented it to you, when he shall come attended with Myriads of Angels; and then think what little creeping Worms you are to him: We may observe in this World, that every Rank and Degree of Men appears considerable to those below them, but those above use them as Inferiours, and are not afraid to Judge and Correct them for their Faults; and is there not a much greater Distance between GOD and the greatest Emperour, than there is between the greatest Emperour and a petty Con­stable? Consider the Case of the Apostate Angels, of the Devil himself, who is the [Page 365] Prince of the Power of the Air, and was a very glorious Spirit; and if as great and glorious as he was, God flung him down from Heaven for Sin, and as pow­erful as he now is, who is the God of this World, will judge and condemn him at the last Day, why should any Man think that his Power and Greatness, which be it what it will, can neither be compared to what the Devil was, nor to what he is, should excuse him from the Judgment of God.

And since you boast of your Power and Greatness, who made you so? who made you to differ from the meanest Beggar? who advances Princes to the Throne, and cloaths them with Glory and Majesty? is not all power of God? are they not his Ministers and Servants? and is any Mi­nister too great to be corrected by his Prince, who made him so? are not all Mi­nisters accountable to their Lord? and the greater their Trust and Power is, have they not a greater account to give? and is this a reason why they should give none? why they should be exempted from Judge­ment, and from giving an Account?

But it is a wonderful thing to me, that any Man should glory in Power and Great­ness, or think himself too big to be judged [Page 366] by God, or that God will have any re­gard to his Greatness in judging him; for did he but reflect upon his own state and condition in this World, it would convince him what a little inconsiderable Creature he is.

As great as any Man is, he is exposed to every Accident, to all the Changes and Vicissitudes of Fortune: God can and very often does punish him in this World, and then there is no reason to expect tha [...] he will not judge him in the next: Pain and Sickness stand in no awe of his Great­ness, and Death is no more afraid of him than of a Beggar: Those who are Gods [...] earth, must die like Men; which is the Curse and Punishment of Sin, and this puts an end to all their Greatness, for af­ter a little Funeral Pomp is over, and they are laid in their Graves with a little more Ceremony than meaner Men, they are forsaken of all their Guards, and Retinue and Dependants, and are left to be a Prey for Worms: And is this the Creature too great to Reverence and Worship God▪ and too big to be judged, whom Worm [...] eat, and Beggars walk over his Grave!

This is the weak and frail State of the greatest Men on Earth; they go naked and unarmed into another World, stripe of [Page 367] their Power and Fortunes, of Riches and Honours, which dazled the Eyes of Men here; and when they are gone, all Men speak their Minds freely of them, judge t [...]eir Lives and Actions, arraign their Me­mories, and revenge their Injuries upon their Graves; and when they are become little enough to be judged by Men, sure­ly they are not too big for God's Judge­ment: Then the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, as well as [...]very bond-man, and every free-man shall hide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and say to the rocks and mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who sh [...]ll be able to stand? 6 Revel. 15, 16, 17.

Consider this ye Rich and Great Men, who are so apt to forget God, and a Fu­ture Judgment: Riches profit not in the D [...]y of Wrath, they cannot bribe God as they do Men, no power can prevail a­gainst the Almighty; proud and swelling Titles are meer empty Bubles, which burst and vanish into nothing in the next World: Men ye are, and ye shall die like [Page 368] Men, and shall be judged like Men, and have much more reason to think of Judg­ment then other Men have, for ye have a greater Account to give, and are in more danger of giving a very bad Accoun [...] if you do not frequently and seriously think of Judgment.

What a mighty Trust, and a mighty Temptation are Riches, and Honour, and Power! How much good, and how much hurt, may such Men do in the World! And what a formidable thing is it, to give an account of all the Good that we might and ought to have done, and have not and of all the Evil we have done by the abuse of those Blessings of Heaven, which we were entrusted with to do good.

Honour and Power always carry some great Duties with them; they are not meerly intended to set some Men above others, to command the Cap and the Knee, and external Respects, but they are for the good Order and Government of the World, to suppress and punish Wicked­ness, and to protect and incourage Inno­cence and Vertue; such Men are like the great Lights of Heaven, to direct and che­rish the World with their Light and In­fluence; their Examples are visible and conspicuous, and carry great Authority [Page 369] with them; and if their Motions be irre­gular and exorbitant, it proves as fatal as for the Sun to forsake the Eclyptick, and wander into unknown Regions of the Hea­ven, which would confound Summer and Winter, Night and Day, and bring the utmost Disorder upon Humane Affairs: When Princes and Great Men who should support Religion, and punish Wickedness, are the Patrons of Atheism, Prophaneness, and Immorality, and give Countenance and Reputation to it by their Examples, what Multitudes of Converts do they make! How does it give the Reins to Mens ungoverned Lusts, when the Re­straints of Fear and Shame are gone! How does it corrupt even vertuous and well-disposed Minds, when it is a fashion­able thing to be wicked, when it quali­fies them for Preferments, and makes them fit for the best Company; while Vertue and Modesty is the common Sub­ject of Drollery and Ridicule: when those who should Administer Justice to the World, oppress the Poor and Fatherless, and accept the Pensions of the Rich; when they pervert Judgment for a Re­ward, and enrich themselves with Bribes: such an Abuse of Power will have a very heavy Account: What a dreadful thing [Page 370] will it be, when you come to Judgment, to be persued with the Cries of Widows and Orphans, of ruined Families, and which is more dreadful yet, with the Cur­ses and Execrations of murdered Souls!

The like may be said of Riches, which is but a Stewardship, and we must give an account of it: and if instead of impro­ving a plentiful Fortune to do good to the World, we spend it upon our Lusts, and make ourselves Beasts; if with the rich Man in the Gospel, we fare delici­ously every day, and suffer the Poor and Miserable to starve at our Doors, we must expect to hear what Abraham said to him, Son remember thou hadst thy good things i [...] thy life-time, and Lazarus his evil things, therefore now thou art tormented and he is comforted.

To whom much is given, of them shall be much required: Our Account encreases as our Riches, and Honour, and Power does; for the more opportunities we have of doing good, the more is expected from us; and the more we have experienced the Divine Bounty and Goodness, the greater Returns we owe of Duty and Gratitude; and therefore rich and great and powerful Men, have more reason to think of Judgment, then other Men, be­cause [Page 371] they have a greater Account to give; and yet there is a greater reason than this too▪ that nothing but the fre­quent and serious Thoughts of Judgment will enable them to make a good Ac­count.

Our Saviour tells us how hard it is for a rich man to enter into heaven; as hard as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle: For how irresistible are the Tem­ptations of Riches and Power? which take off all the Restraints of Fear and Shame, and furnish them with all the In­struments and Opportunities of gratifying their Lusts.

How hard is it for Men to bear Great­ness without Pride and Insolence? to be Rich without being covetuous or luxuri­ous? to be devout Worshippers of GOD, when they themselves are adored and flat­tered by Men? there are very few Ex­amples of Humility, Piety, and Devotion, Temperance and Chastity in an exalted Fortune. Prosperity is generally a great­er Tryal of a steddy and confirmed Ver­tue, than Adversity is; for it scatters our Thoughts, makes our Spirits aery and vo­latile, gives new Charms to the World, and kindles new Fires within; it leads us through all the various Scenes of Plea­sures, [Page 372] and keeps up and tempts our Ap­petite with Varieties and fresh Delights▪ and entertains us so much abroad, that we can seldom retire into ourselves, and converse with our own thoughts.

But would such Men seriously think of Judgment, it would teach them another use of Riches and Power; it would mind them that they are but Men, as other Men are, all alike to God, and that they shall be judged alike; that their Riches and Power, which distinguishes them from other Men, is not their own, but they are entrusted with it by God, not to domi­neer over their fellow-Creatures, not to eat and drink and be drunken, and to smite their fellow-servants, but to relieve the Poor, to defend the Injured and Oppres­sed, to be Eyes to the Blind, and Feet to the Lame, a Father to the Fatherless, and a Husband to the Widows: this is the Ho­nour God has conferred on them, that he has made them his Ministers and Stewards, Tutelar Angels, and even Gods to Men; and the way to be truly Great, is to im­prove their Power and Riches, to make themselves very useful to the World: To have Power and Riches is not to be great, but to do a great deal of good with them; this sets them above other Men, and will [Page 373] prepare glorious Rewards for them: but i [...] Power and Riches make them only more wicked then their Neighbours, all that they will get by it will be a hotter Hell.

2dly, Those who are very poor and ca­lamitous, are very apt to forget a Future Judgment, or to think themselves uncon­cerned in it: they are too little for Judg­ment, as the others were too great; what should God judge them for, whom he has intrusted with little or nothing but their Skins. Who can spare no time to worship God, for all the time they have is little enough to get Bread in: who can­not be blamed, if when they can get a lit­tle Drink they drink away Sorrow, and forget their Wants and Miseries for some few Moments; or if they pilfer and steal or lye to get Bread, Necessity has no Law, and makes such Actions innocent in them, as are great Crimes in other Men: By such kind of Excuses as these poor Men excuse away all concernment about Religion; Religion is above them, rich and happy People may be at leisure for it; but they have enough to do to live; the Church-door they like very well, where devout and charitable Peo­ple drop their Alms, but the inside of the [Page 374] Church does not belong to them, and they have nothing to do there. And thus it is proportionably in less degrees of Poverty; every Condition of L [...]fe which may be called poor, is apt to tempt Men to be careless of Rel [...]gion, and unmindful of a Future Judgment.

Now what is to be said to these Men? Shall we prove that poor Men shall be judged as well as rich? I doubt you would think me very impertinent, should I at­tempt it, for if all Mankind are to be judged, the Poor must be judged too, if they be Men.

Are not poor Men able to give an ac­count of their Actions, and why then should they not be called to an account for them? Are they not reasonable Crea­tures, and able to understand, and give a reason for what they do? and why then should not God ask a reason of them? If they have nothing to give an account of, no account shall be demanded; but if they have, why should they not give an account of what they have, be it more or less? Poor Men shall give no account of Riches, because they have them not, but this does not hinder, but that they may give an account of their Poverty, and those Graces which become a poor and low For­tune.

[Page 375]They shall not be examined about their Charity, when they had nothing to give; but they may for their Thankfulness to God, and to their Benefactors: They shall not be examined how they used their Riches, which they had not; but they may be, how they bore their Poverty; whether external Poverty has taught them true Poverty of Spirit, Humility, Mo­desty, Patience in Want and Sufferings, Contentment with a little, Submission to the Will of God, and a chearful Depen­dance on Providence for their daily Bread; whether they have constantly prayed to God for the supply of their Wants, as well as begged an Alms of Men, and im­plored the Help and Assistance of the Rich: these are Duties and Vertues which Poverty teaches, and which poor Men ought to exercise, and therefore which God may challenge from them, and Judge them for.

It is a very wild Imagination, to think that Poverty will excuse Mens Pride, and Rudeness, and Insolence, unless it be a Vertue to be Proud, when Men have no Temptation to it, when they have no­thing to be proud of.

Will Poverty excuse Sloth and Idle­ness? when Men have nothing to live by [Page 376] but their Hands, is that a Reason why they should not work? When Men are able to work and get their own living, is Pover­ty an excuse for begging and living idly upon the Charity and Industry of other Men? when they work hard all day to get Bread for themselves and Families, is this a reason to go to the Ale-house and spend it all at night, to make themselves Beasts, and leave their Wives and Children to starve? ought not God and Men to judge them for this?

But above all things, Poverty is the most unreasonable and senseless Excuse for Irreligion, for neglecting the Worship of God; For certainly, if any thing will make us sensible, how much we stand in need of God, Poverty will: Rich Men, whose Coffers are full of Treasure, who have Goods laid up for many Years, are apt to forget God, because they think they have no present need of Him; they know how to live without him: They have no occasion to beg their daily Bread of him, who have enough to last their lives, and to maintain their Posterity in Luxury, when they are gone: But me­thinks poor Men, who have no Provisi­ons before hand, and know not where they shall have their Bread the next day, [Page 377] should be very sensible that they live up­on Providence, that they have nothing else to trust to; and would not any one reasonably expect, that such Men would be very devout Worshippers of GOD, would pray constantly and heartily to him, to take them into his Care, when they have nothing but the Providence of God to depend on: One would think such Men should above all things take care to please God, and to make him their Friend and Patron, for if he cast them off, they have no other Refuge: that is a prophane irreligious Mind indeed, whom Want and Distress will not drive to God.

But what would you have such poor Men do? They han't time to spare for their Prayers, unless they should spare it from eating or sleeping; they must be up early at work, and have not leisure for their Devotions, as those have who live at ease.

But did they believe the Divine Pro­dence, it would satisfie them that the time of Prayer is the best spent of any time in the day, and contributes more to make a comfortable Provision for them then their hardest Labour; for the Blessing of God is more then our Diligence and Labour: he can succeed and prosper our Work; [Page 378] he can raise up unexpected Friends to us, and by some unseen Accident can change the whole Scene of our Lives, for a more easie and prosperous Fortune.

However, want of time for Prayer and Devotion is always a pretence, and no­thing but a pretence to excuse the Inde­votion of our Minds: a Man who loves and reverences God, never wants time for Prayer, whatever his state of Life be; a poor labouring Man can't every Day spend an Hour at Church at his Prayers, but if he have a Mind prepared and di­sposed for it, he can fall upon his Knees, and offer up a short Prayer to God, as soon as he rises, which takes up very lit­tle time; and though he cannot be long upon his Knees, yet he can raise up his Heart to Heaven in short and pious Eja­culations; no business can hinder a de­vout Mind from this, and therefore no business can excuse the not doing it; and this will be accepted by God, when we have no time for more Solemn Prayer.

So that you see Religion is the Business, and ought to be the Care of poor Men as well as of the rich: there are Graces and Vertues for them to exercise, proper for their state of Life, and therefore they shall be judged as well as the Rich, and [Page 379] ought frequently to think of a Future Judgment, and to live under the constant awe and sence of it.

The constant sence of a Future Judge­ment is very necessary for all Mankind, to govern their Lives, and to prepare their Accounts; but besides this, it is of the greatest use to poor Men of any other; for it will in a great measure help to cure their Poverty, or to make it easie.

In ordinary cases, a Man who lives un­der a constant sence of Judgment, cannot be poor to extremity; for the sence of Judgment will make him diligent, and in­dustrious, and honest, and frugal, and tem­perate, and a devout Worshipper of God, which are all thriving Vertues, and will not suffer a Man to be miserably poor: The diligent hand maketh rich; and when it does not make Rich, it at least pre­vents Poverty; inflexible Honesty gives a Man Reputation in the World, brings him into Business and Employment, and that is a way to thrive; Frugality and Temperance save what is got, and en­crease the Store; and Reverence and De­votion for God brings down Blessings on them, gives success to their honest La­bours; and we know it is the Blessing of God which maketh Rich.

[Page 380]The Experience of the World, as well as the Reason of the Thing, proves this: The miserable Poor are generally the most corrupt and profligate part of Mankind, the very Reproach of Humane Nature; and if you make any curious Observati­ons about it, you will generally find, that it is not their Poverty which makes them wicked, but their Wickedness makes them poor: you shall very rarely see an honest, industrious, sober, pious Man, but makes a very good shift to live comfortably in the World, unless the Times prove very hard, that there is but little Work, and Provisions dear, or that his Family en­creases so quick upon him that he has a great charge of Children, before any of them are capable of working for their li­ving; and in this case such industrious Men seldom want Friends, for every one who knows them, is ready to help them: and therefore poor Men ought to think of a Future Judgment, not only to save their Souls, but to teach them to live in the World, to deliver them from the extream pressures of Want. And this is a double Obligation upon poor Men to think fre­quently of a Future Judgment, that it is necessary to provide a comfortable Sub­stance for them in this World, and to save their Souls in the next.

[Page 381]But whether this remove their Pover­ty or no, it will support them under it, make them patient and contented with their Portion here; if they govern their Lives under the sence of a Future Judge­ment, it will support them under the Meanness and Calamities of their present Fortune, with better Hopes: they will then contemplate Lazarus in Abraham's Bosom, and comfort themselves with the happy Change of their Condition, as soon as they remove into the other World; there they shall hunger no more, nor thirst any more; their Wants and Suffer­ings in this World, if they bare them well, shall be greatly rewarded; and tho' they grovel in the Dust here, and are Worms and no Men, they shall then shine forth like the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father: it is a miserable condition indeed to remove from a Dung-hill to Hell; but a Dung-hill is a Palace, if it will advance us to Heaven: nothing but these things can make extream Poverty tolerable, but such Hopes as these will make the poorest Man rich and hap­py.

3dly, None have more reason to be put in mind of a Future Judgment than Young [Page 382] Men, for none are more apt to forget it: As Solomon intimates in his Counsel to Young Men, 11 Eccl. 9. Rejoyce, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart chear thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: But know, that for all these things GOD will bring thee to judgment. But to make this Discourse as useful as I can, I shall,

1. Perswade Young Men to possess themselves with a serious and hearty Be­lief, that they shall be judged. 2. Per­swade them frequently and seriously to think of a Future Judgment.

1. Let me perswade Young Men to possess their Minds with a serious and hearty Belief that they shall be judged: For though they dare not own that they have the least hope of escaping the Judge­ment of God, more than other Men, yet there is reason to suspect, that they flatter themselves that their Age will excuse their Crimes; that God will take little notice of the Folly and Giddiness of Youth, but will wink at it as he did at the Times of Ignorance.

[Page 383]For though Young Men commonly think themselves the wisest part of Man­kind, and despite the Experience and Counsels of Age, yet they are contented to plead their Ignorance and Folly, their Rashness and Giddiness, when they hope to escape Judgment by it. They are but lately come into the World, and every thing is new and surprizing to them; they admire before they understand, and are tempted by meer Curiosity to tast forbidden Pleasures. Sense is very strong and vigorous in them, and Reason is weak; their Passions eager and vehement, and yet soft and tender to every Impression; they are led by Examples, and there are more bad then good Examples in the World, and the Examples of the most are most prevalent, especially when they tempt them to Ease, and Softness, and Luxury, which are great Temptations to Youth without Examples: And can we think that God won't make great Allowances for such a weak and deceivable State of Humane Na­ture?

This is the fairest Plea that can be made for Youth, why God should indulge their Extravagancies, and not exact so strict and severe an Account from them as from those of riper Years. But if we consider [Page 384] this over again, we shall find as great rea­son, why God should judge Youth, as why he should judge any other Age of Men:

1. For first, Young Men are account­able for their Actions as well as the Old; they understand the difference between Good and Evil; they know that there is a God, whose Creatures they are, and whom they ought to Worship and Obey: and this, as I observed before, makes Man an accountable Creature, and that makes it fit for God to call him to an account: and if this be a good Argument to prove that Mankind shall be judged, it proves that all Men must be judged, who are capable of giving an account, and then Young Men must be judged as well as the Old.

Unless we will allow, that Reason and Understanding makes Men liable to be judged, I would desire to know at what Age God must begin to judge Men: No doubt but every Age will find something or other to plead for its Exemption from Judgment, as well as Youth, of which more anon. But if Reason makes Men the Subjects of Laws and Government, then we must begin to be obnoxious to Judgment with the beginnings of Reason, and our Account will encrease as our Rea­son [Page 385] does: that is, as far as our Reason ex­tends, we must give an account; what our Reason and Understanding does not reach, we shall give no account of: This is very just that the degrees of our Know­ledge, when it bears proportion to our Age, should lessen or encrease our Ac­count, but it is reasonable too, that Men should give an account of their Actions proportionable to their Knowledge; and this indeed will make a difference in the Account of young and older Men, though it will not wholly excuse Young Men from giving an Account. This may ex­cuse a great many Follies, Indiscretions, and Mistakes of Youth, but it can excuse no known and wilful Sin.

There is a certain Age indeed before Humane Laws will take cognizance of the Actions of Children, as not looking on them as reasonable Agents; they must be governed by the Rod, and kept under Discipline, but have not Understanding enough to govern themselves by Laws; but Humane Laws will Judge and Punish those who hope to plead their Youth as an Exemption from the Judgment of God: But why should Young Men expect that God will not judge them for those Crimes for which Men will judge, and condemn, [Page 386] and execute them too? This is either un­just in Men, or very just in God: before they flatter themselves that God will ex­cuse the Lewdness, and Extravagancies, and Frenzies of their Youth, let them try whether this Plea will pass in Humane Courts; and not think it unreasonable that God should judge and punish Youth, when the Wisdom of all Nations has thought it just and reasonable.

2. Consider farther, whether you can think it fitting, that God should suffer Young Men to live as they list, without judging them for it? that he should lay the Reins on their Necks, and let them indulge their Lusts and Appetites, and take their fill of sensual Pleasures, and commit all manner of Villanies without restraint?

For can it become a Wise and Holy God to grant Indulgence to Vice? Are Adulteries, Fornications, Drunkenness, Gluttony, Prophaneness, Irreligion no Sins, when committed by Young Men? Can any one give a reason why these Sins should damn a Man of Forty or Fifty, and be indulged in one of Twenty?

Does it become the Wise and Holy Go­vernour of the World to contribute so much to the debauching Mankind, as to [Page 387] indulge their youthful Lusts? to suffer their render Minds to be corrupted with the love and practise of Vice? to be pre­possessed and prejudiced against the Se­verities of a Holy Life? when Men by indulging their Lusts are grown fond of this World, and of bodily Pleasures, when are they likely to grow wise? when will they think it time to submit to God's Go­vernment, and to obey his Laws? How seldom is it seen, that Men who contract Habits of Wickedness in their Youth, e­ver get a perfect mastery of them, or prove seriously Religious? and those who do, with what infinite difficulty do they do it?

So that should God give liberty to Men, to be as wicked as they please, while they are young, it would be to lit­tle purpose to give Laws to riper Years; the Seeds of Vertue or Vice are sown in tender Minds, and grow up with them, and are very difficulty rooted out: if God intends we should worship and obey him, when we are Men, he must lay early Restraints upon us, and fashion our Minds betimes: And that is a reason why he should judge Youth, and Antidote them against the flattering Temptations of this Life, with the Hopes and Fears of ano­ther [Page 388] World. If you think it hard, that God should judge you for the Lewdness and Extravagancies of Youth, consider whether it would not be much harder, to suffer you to be corrupted when you are young, and to damn you for continuing wicked when you are old: The fears of Judgment may restrain and govern your youthful Passions, and season you with the Principles of an early Piety, which will grow up into confirmed Habits of Ver­tue, which will direct and govern your Lives in this World, and carry you safe to Heaven; but if Young Men might sin securely without fear of Judgment, in all likelihood t [...]ey would sin on, till they were old enough to be damned.

3. I must add this also; that there is as little reason to expect, that Young Men should be excused from being judg­ed, and from giving an account of their Actions, as that any other Men whatsoe­ver should be excused; every Age has its peculiar Temptations and Difficulties, and if this were a reason why they should not be judged, no Men must be judged: But Youth, before it is corrupted and grown ungovernable, has the fewest Temptati­ons, and the greatest Restraints and Pre­servatives of any Age, and therefore is the least excusable.

[Page 389]Youth indeed is rash, and giddy, and inconsiderate, but then it is, or ought to be under the Direction and Government of Parents, Masters, and Tutors; it is a great Misfortune to them when they are not, and a great and fatal Miscarriage in Parents and Masters when they neglect the prudent Government of them: But this is the Provision God has made for their Government, and therefore has im­planted in them a natural Awe and Reve­rence for their Parents and Superiours, which makes their Counsels and Examples sacred; which is a mighty advantge a­bove what those Men have, who have no Body to govern them, and have no Go­vernment of themselves.

Their Reason indeed is weak, but it is not corrupted as a great many others have corrupted their Reason, by Principles of Atheism and Irreligion; they have a Na­tural Sence of God, and a Natural Awe and Reverence for his Justice and Provi­dence, and a Natural Belief of another World, especially if any care has been ta­ken to instruct them in the Principles of Christianity: and this gives them a great Dread and Horror of Sin, which they be­lieve will bring the Judgments of God up­on them in this World, and in the next.

[Page 390]They have little Experience of the World, and a great Curiosity to tast the Pleasures of it; but they are not yet ac­quainted with the sinful Pleasures of it; they have not contracted a Fondness for them; and the Fear of God will more ea­sily check and restrain a Curiosity, then conquer a Habit; and therefore they have a more easie Task to keep themselves in­nocent, then old Sinners have to conquer their vicious Habits, who must pluck out a right Eye, and cut off a right Hand to enter into Heaven.

And the Natural Modesty of Youth is a mighty Restraint which makes them blush at the Thoughts of any Wickedness, and so afraid of a Discovery, when they think of committing it, that it deprives them of the Opportunities of committing it: and while Men retain their natural Modesty, a thousand thoughts give check to them, and a thousand Accidents disap­point them; but when they have sinned away their Reputation, and their Shame with it, when they are hardened against Reproach and Infamy, or have lost all sence of the difference between Good and Evil, they have nothing to stop them till they come to Hell.

[Page 391]This is the Original State of Youth, which was made for Piety and Vertue, and all Men must acknowledge, that they are in a much nearer disposition for it, than old Sinners: there is almost as much difficulty at first to debauch an innocent Mind, as there is to reclaim an old Sin­ner; to make the one conquer Shame as there is to make the other blush: And why then should we think; that Young Men shall not be judged by God for break­ing through all these Restraints? when it is as hard a thing for them to be bad, as it is for others to be good, why should they hope to escape in those Sins for which o­ [...]hers shall be judged and condemned?

This is sufficient to convince Young Men, that God will judge them as well as others: As young as they are they know when they do their Duty, and when they transgress it, and therefore may be called to an account for it. It never becomes a holy God, nor the wise Governour of the World to indulge Men in Sin, and as little to indulge Young Men as any others; for if he should indulge them in contracting vicious Habits when they are young, he has less reason to judge and condemn them for it, when they are old: And indeed Young Men have least reason to expec [...] [Page 392] such an Indulgence; for whatever their Temptations are, it is much easier for them to keep themselves innocent, then it is for other Men to conquer the Habits of Vice.

2. Let me now perswade Young Men frequently to think of a Future Judgment: There is great reason for this Exhortati­on, because they are very apt to forget it, and yet they have very great occasion for it.

1. They are very apt to forget it: Their Spirits are gay and brisk, and they meet with such variety of Entertainments, as will not admit of such melancholy Thoughts as a Future Judgment: they are so lately come into the World, and are big it may be with such great designs of advancing their Fortunes in it, that they cannot think of going out of it very quickly again: they look upon Judgment as they do upon the other World, as a great way off, and therefore it is not of a present concernment, but may be thought of time enough some Years hence: These are all very foolish Reasonings, but yet these, or such like Fallacies serve to im­pose upon Young Men; or whatever their pretence be, Experience tells us, that it is [Page 393] true in Fact, that they think very little of a Judgment to come.

It is easie enough to shew, that these are no Reasons why they should not think frequently of a Future Judgment: How gay and pleasant soever they be, and what­ever their designs are for this World; the thoughts of Judgment will not allay nor interrupt their Pleasures, while they pre­serve their Innocence: nothing can make the thoughts of Judgment uneasie to them, unless they resolve to take such Liberties, and persue such Designs as they are afraid to be called to an account for; and the reason why they should think of Judge­ment is to prevent this; for if once they distract their Minds with Guilt, the thoughts of Judgment will ever after be very uneasie to them, and they must ne­ver think of it, if they can help it. The best way is to accustom our Minds to the thoughts of Judgment while we are inno­cent, before we begin to be afraid to think of Judgment, and that will preserve our Innocence, and then the thoughts of Judge­ment will never interrupt our Pleasures.

But if we cast off the thoughts of Judge­ment in Youth, which is the surest Guard and Preservative we have, we shall by de­grees cast off the belief of it too: When [Page 394] we lay aside the thoughts of Judgment, to take the greater Liberties, to walk in the ways of our hearts, and in the sight of our eyes, we contract such Guilt as makes us afraid of Judgment, and very willing to believe that we shall never be judged; and then we shall easily find some little argu­ment or other to perswade us that there is no Judgment; that either there is no God, or that he takes no notice of Hu­mane Actions.

The thoughts of Judgment are never uneasie and troublesome, till Men have scared and terrified their Consciences with Guilt; and therefore the certain way ne­ver to have the thoughts of Judgment troublesome, is to begin betimes to make it familliar to us; and if we do so, the thoughts of it will not prove melancholy, and then we shall have no reason to lay them aside.

And it is a great Mistake to imagine, that there is no need to think of Judge­ment but when it is near; that we may securely lay aside the thoughts of it, when it is at a distance; for neither its being near, nor its being at distance is a­ny reason either to think or not to think of Judgment; but the true reason is, to govern our Lives under the sence of a Fu­ture [Page 395] Account, and that is a good reason, equally good, whether Judgment be nigh at hand or a great way off: For if we must give an account of what we do at seventeen or twenty Years old, and of what we do at fifty or sixty, there is the same reason to think of Judgment, and to govern our Lives under the sence of it when we are but twenty, as when we are threescore Years old.

2. Young Men have great and con­stant occasion for the thoughts of Judge­ment; and that is a good reason why they should think frequently and seriously of it.

What but this can reduce that giddy Age within Bounds, and make them live by Rule? But if they would consider, that they must be judged by Rule, by the Laws of the Everlasting Gospel, this would do it: This would convince them that they are not their own Masters, that they are not at liberty to live as they list, and to pursue every wild and roving Fancy; they may indeed do this, if they please, but they shall be judged for it, if they do.

What but this can cool the Heats of Youth, and conquer all the Charms of Flesh and Sence? But know, saith the wise [Page 396] man, that for all these things God will call thee to judgment. And a Man who is a­fraid of Judgment, who is afraid of Lakes of Fire and Brimstone, who has the ter­rible prospect of eternal Miseries before him▪ will have no great Appetite to the choicest Sensualities: He will freez in the Embraces of the most beloved Mistress, and will tremble in the midst of his Cups, as Bel [...]shazzar did, when he saw the Hand­writing upon the Wall: For who can bear the thoughts of being miserable for ever? Who with these thoughts about him can relish such fatal Pleasures? Pleasures, which will cost him his Soul? short and dying and vanishing Pleasures, which will end in eternal Pain? who would not be contented to endure the pain of denying an Appetite, of subduing a domineering Passion, of plucking out a right Eye, and cutting off a right Hand, rather than to be miserable for ever? And when it is so impossible for Young Men to resist these flattering Temptations without a present and awful Sence of Judgment, can any thing more concern them then frequently to repeat these Thoughts, and to possess their Imaginations with the lasting Impres­sions and Images of it; that it may be al­ways at hand, and ready for use.

[Page 397]But this is necessary for all Men, as well as those who are young; whoever takes care of his Soul, ought to keep his Eye upon a Future Judgment; I grant it is so, but there are some peculiar Advant­ages, which Young Men will reap by this, if they begin this Practise betimes:

1st, For this will preserve their Inno­cence and Vertue, and prevent the Ter­rours and Agonies of a late Repentance: All the kindness the Thoughts of Judge­ment can do to old Sinners, is to put a stop to them, and to bring them to Re­pentance: and this is a very great kind­ness, if it makes them true Penitents, be­cause it will save their Souls. And this is that which most Sinners desire, to enjoy the Pleasures of Sin as long as they can, and to repent before they die: and thus they think they adjust all Interests, gra­tifie the Flesh, and save their Souls at last.

But if these Men ever prove true Peni­tents, they become very sensible of their Mistake: They wish then when it is too late, that they had remembred their Crea­tor in the days of their youth; that they had preserved themselves from the Pollu­tions of Flesh and Sence; they feel by sad [Page 398] Experience, what an evil and a bitter thing it is to sin against God: How ama­zing the Shame, how sharp the Sorrow of Repentance is: It is a very melancholy and disconsolate Work, when Men draw near their end, to look back upon a vici­ous and profligate Life, to have their whole Lives to unlive again; to abhor themselves for what they have done, and to look forward with trembling into the other World: for such late Penitents ge­nerally carry the Marks of their Repen­tance in Shame and Sorrow to the Grave with them.

All this Young Men may prevent, if they will but think of Judgment in their Youth, and govern their Lives under a sence of it: This will make them remem­ber their Creator in the days of their youth, and consecrate their tender Age to his Service: it will preserve them from youthful Lusts, from all enormous Crimes, and give them the humble Assurance and Confidence of dutiful Children in their Addresses to God: when they draw near a conclusion of their Lives, they review their past Victories over the World and the Flesh with the securest Triumphs: The little Follies, and Indiscretions, and Miscarriages which the best Men are sub­ject [Page 399] to, will keep them humble, and teach them to trust only in the Merits and In­tercession of Christ; but when they have made it the whole business of their Lives to please God, though with the common Weaknesses and Infirmities of Humane Na­ture, they feel great Peace of Mind, and assurance of the Love of God; and the nearer their Work is to an end, the more securely they triumph.

What a happy State shall we think this, when Death and Judgment are in view! to feel so swe [...] Calm in our Breasts! to have so joyful a Prospect before us! And who would not think of Judgment when he is young, that the hope and expectati­on of it may be the Comfort and Support of Age; that then he may review his past Life not to undo what he has done, but to tast the Pleasures, and to reap the Re­wards of it in present Peace of Mind, and great Hopes.

2ly, There is another Advantage which Young Men may make of the early thoughts of Judgment, which old Sinners have lost, and can never retrieve by all their Repentance, viz. To make great Advances and Attainments in Piety and Vertue, which will greatly augment their [Page 400] Reward. Men who sin on till old Age, though they prove true Penitents at last, can never recover this; for their time is past, and their youthful Strength and Vi­gour spent, and the Scene of Action o­ver; they can never re-call thirty or for­ty Years past, in which if they had impro­ved their time well, they might have done great Service to God and to Religion, and great good to Men; but those who are beginning their Lives, if they start right at first, and pursue an even and steady Course of Piety and Vert [...] if they keep the Future Judgment, and the next World always in their Eye, what Improvements will they make! what rich Treasures and glorious Rewards may they expect from that Righteous Judge, who will render to every Man according to his Works!

The most that a Penitent can expect after a long Life spent in Wickedness and Folly, is to get to Heaven, and it is infinite Mercy in God to accept of such Penitents; but the bright and dazling Crowns are re­served for those who have spent their Lives well, and glorified God on Earth, and finished the Work he gave them to do: such Men will triumph at the Con­clusion of their Race and Warfare, as St. Paul did, I have fought a good fight, I [Page 401] have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.

I know this will not affect those Men now who love their Sins, and desire to keep them as long as they can; they will be very well satisfied if they can but get to Heaven at last, how mean soever their Station be there; for they are not so de­sirous to go to Heaven, as to escape Hell; and if they can but keep out of Hell, it is all they hope for: but Men must have a greater Spirit, a more Divine and Gene­rous. Temper of Soul, before they can get to Heaven: If ever they prove true Pe­nitents, the loss of so many opportunities of doing Good, and the loss of any degrees of Glory, they might have had, will both shame and afflict them. I am sure the greater Rewards we expect in the other World, the greater degrees of Glory and Happiness, the greater will our Joy and Triumph be.

Are not Men in this World as fond of Happiness, as they are afraid of Misery? Does not a great Mind despise little things, and aim at what is great? And is there not as much reason to aim at the highest Happiness we are capable of in the next World, as well as in this?

[Page 402]This is the noble Prize I would propo [...]e to Young Men: You are now beginning your Race, your Day is but in its Dawn; if you rise with the Sun, and work hard all day, and spend your whole Lives in God's Service, what a great deal of work will you do, and what a proportionably great Reward will you have? This you will do, if you make the Thoughts of Judgment familiar to you; this will keep a constant Guard upon your Actions, this will excite and quicken your Industry, this will make you stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, as knowing, that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.

CHAP. VI. For what we shall be Iudged.

VI. LET us now enquire, What we are to be judged for: And the general Answer to this is very plain, That we must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. 5.10. That is, we shall be judged for all the Good and Evil we have done.

This is obvious to all Men, and ac­knowledged by all, who believe a Judge­ment, and it may be thought impertinent to prove, that we shall be judged for such or such particular Crimes, when it is uni­versally confessed, that we shall be judged for all.

But as I observed under the former Head, though all Men who believe a Fu­ture Judgment, profess also to believe that all Men shall be judged; yet some Men are very apt to forget it, and to flatter themselves, that they shall escape better than others; so it is here: Though Men [Page 404] will in general acknowledge, that we must give an account of whatever we have done in the Body, yet there are a great many things, which in themselves are very great Crimes, and yet many Men think there is no account to be given of them. I shall not instance in particular Sins, though a great many such there are, which few Men take any great notice of, but shall confine myself to what is of a more General Nature, for Particulars would be endless:

I. First then we must remember, we shall be judged for our Ignorance; which some Men are so far from suspecting, that they take Sanctuary in their Ignorance to Skreen them from the Judgment of GOD. If they can but keep out the Light, they think they are safe; to stumble and fall in the Dark is a Misfortune, not a Fault, and will rather move Pitty and Compas­sion, than provoke Revenge: This makes some Men so regardless of Knowledge; they think God will judge them for no more than they know; and all the good they are like to get by Knowledge, is to encrease and aggravate their Account.

I shall not enter into that Dispute now, (which is nothing to our present Purpo [...]e) [Page 405] How far, and in what Cases Ignorance will Excuse; though I think it is very plain in general, that as far as Ignorance itself is excusable, so far Ignorance will excuse: But my business at present is to shew, That commonly Ignorance itself is a great Crime, and when it is so, if Men shall not be judged for the Sins which they ignorantly commit, yet they shall be judged and condemned for their Ig­norance, as well as [...]or their Sins against Knowledge.

For is not Man a reasonable Creature? And is not a reasonable Creature as much bound to know his Duty, as he is to pra­ctise it? Has God given us Reason to be the Guide and Director of our Lives, and is it not a great Crime not to attend to it, not to improve and cultivate it? Have we Eyes in our Heads, and is it any Ex­cuse to us, that we shut them, and lose our Way? Is it any Excuse to us not to know God, and our Duty to him, when God has made us reasonable Creatures, who may know their Maker if they please, and understand the difference between Good and Evil? I am sure St. Paul by this Argument proves, that the Heathens were inexcusable, because God had im­planted such Natural Notions of himself [Page 406] on their Minds, and had given them so many external and visible Demonstrations of his Power and Providence in making and governing the World, 1 Rom. 19, 20. Because that which may be known of God, is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are daily seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and god­head; so that they are without excuse. The Heathens did greatly err both in the Knowledge and Worship of God; they were convinced by the Natural Sense of their Minds, and by the Works of Crea­tion, that there is a God; and therefore they are said to know God, 21 v. And by the same way they might have known that God who made the World, is not like to gold and silver, or the works of mens hands, to images made like to corruptible man, or to birds and four footed beasts, and creeping things; and therefore though they were really ignorant of the Nature of God, and had entertained very gross Imaginations of the Deity, yet they were without Excuse, because God is to be known by Reason and Nature, and there­fore a reasonable Creature, who lives in a World which has the visible Marks of In­finite [Page 407] Wisdom and Power on it, can never be excused for not knowing God; that is to say, nothing will excuse our Ignorance of that which we may know, and which we ought to know.

But if the Heathens were so inexcusable for their Ignorance of God, who had no other Helps but the Light of Nature, and the visible Works of God; to be sure Ig­norance must be a great Crime in those who live where the Gospel is preached; and may read the Word of God them­selves, if they please, and learn their Du­ty from it: God knows, a great many very ignorant People there are among us, who know little more of God than the Heathens did, who sit in Darkness, and in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, in the very Regions of Light, when the day spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the ways of peace.

Will it not be an impudent thing for such Men to plead Ignorance at the Day of Judgment, who would not look into the Bible, nor attend Publick Instructi­ons, to learn their Duty: who had the Means and Opportunities of Knowledge, but would not use them; who took a [Page 408] great deal of pains to be Ignorant, and to keep out of the Way of Knowledge, which so often crossed them, that they had much ado to escape it. Whatever may be plead­ed in excuse of the Ignorance of Heathens, there can be no Excuse for Christians, who have the most perfect Revelation of the Will of God, and will not look into it; this is a great Contempt of God; it is in effect to say to God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways, 21 Job 14. And it is hard to say, which is the most provoking Sin, to despise the Knowledge of God, or to break his Laws: Not to think it worth our while to know the Will of God, or through the pow­er of Temptation to transgress their Du­ty.

And this is the Danger we are in, if we neglect or reject the Knowledge of the Gospel; our Ignorance will be our great­est Crime; it will be so far from excu­sing our Wickedness, that it will aggra­vate it, for we chuse to be ignorant, that we may be wicked: and therefore it con­cerns us diligently to read and study the Scriptures, and to attend upon the Pub­lick Ministry of the Word, and the Pri­vate Instructions and Directions of our Spiritual Guides; for since Christ came [Page 409] from Heaven to declare the Will of God, and has put the Holy Scriptures into our Hands, which are a perfect Rule of Faith and Manners, and furnished us with all the advantages to encrease in Knowledge; it is as dangerous a thing to be wilfully ignorant of the Gospel, as it is to disobey it.

II. As Men shall be judged for their Ig­norance, so they shall be judged for their Infidelity: This is so plain in Scripture, that it needs little Proof; our Saviour ex­presly tells us, He that believeth on him (that is, on the Son of God, whom God sent into the world, that the world through him might be saved,) is not condemned: but he that believeth not, is condemned already, be­cause he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather then light, because their deeds were evil, 3 John 17, 18, 19. This our Saviour fre­quently inculcates on the Iews, that unless they believe on him, they must die and perish in their Sins: and we know the Iews were rejected by God for their Infi­delity; their Temple, and City, and Na­tion destroyed by the Romans, and they [Page 410] dispersed and scattered among all Nations to this day. And our Saviour after his Resurrection, when he gave Commission to his Apostles to go into all the World, and to preach the Gospel to every Crea­ture, universally pronounces, He that be­lieveth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned, 16 Mark 16. And therefore St. Peter tells the Iews▪ Neither is there salvation in a­ny other: for there is none other name un­der heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, 4 Acts 12. And if there be no other Name whereby Men must be saved, Infidelity must damn us.

Would some Men in our days seriously consider this, they would not think them­selves so secure in their Infidelity, nor take so much pains to make themselves Infidels: for if after all their pains to dis­believe the Gospel, it should prove true at last, they must be damned for disbelie­ving it.

If Christ came into the World to save Sinners, and there is no other Name un­der Heaven whereby Sinners can be sa­ved; those who will not believe on his Name must eternally perish: As if there were but one Physician in the World, who could cure such a mortal Distemper, those [Page 411] who labour under this Distemper, and will not go to this Physician for their Cure, must necessarily die by their neglect; their Infidelity in that case would kill them [what reasons soever they could pre­tend for their Infidelity] by neglecting the only means of their Recovery.

But besides this, Infidelity is a very great Crime, when we have sufficient Reasons and Motives of Faith: for this destroys all Commerce and Intercourse (if I may so speak) between GOD and Men: If Men may be allowed to disbe­lieve a Revelation which has all the Evi­dence and Proof that any Revelation can have, it makes it impossible for God to reveal his Will to the World; at least to give us such a standing Revelation as may be a certain Rule of Faith to all Ages.

And besides this, Infidelity is not ow­ing to want of Evidence, but to an evil Temper of Mind, which is prepossessed with such vicious Lusts and Passions, as will not suffer Men to believe; thus our Saviour tells us, That men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil: and tells the Pharisees, How can ye believe, who receive honour one of another, and seek not that honour which cometh of God? So that Infidelity is more in Mens [Page 412] wills than in their understandings, and therefore is as punishable as any other Vice: and though such Infidels will pre­tend to Reason for their Infidelity, and de­spise and laugh at the easie Credulity of the rest of the World; they may have a great force and bya [...]s upon their under­standings for all that, and would they be honest and sincere, they themselves must be sensible of it; however, God who sees their hearts, sees that it is so; and it is rea­son enough to By-standers to suspect it is so, when they observe, that the more ver­tuously Men are inclined, the more readi­ly they embrace the Gospel, and the more firmly they believe it; whereas Infidels commonly make little pretence to Sobrie­ty or Vertue, but are Men of this World, who design no more than to please them­selves in the enjoyment of it; and when Mens understandings in other matters are equally good, it is very reasonably suspi­cious, that it is only their different Incli­nations and Passions, which make them judge so differently of things.

If this be the Case, as our Saviour as­sures us it is, and as our own Reason, and our Observation of Mankind, may give us sufficient cause to suspect, all Men must grant, that it is as fit Men should be judg'd [Page 413] for their Infidelity, as for any other Vice: And this is reason enough to make Men afraid of Infidelity; for if they may be damned for being Infidels, they have no reason to be secure in their Infidelity.

Infidels themselves must confess, that if there be sufficient reason to believe the Gospel, they deserve to be punished for their Unbelief: and if it should prove true at last, it will be too late to dispute it in the other World, whether God had given them sufficient Evidence of it. That great Number of Believers, who were as wise and cautious Men as themselves, will convince them, that there was Evidence enough for wise thinking Men to believe the Gospel; And when they shall be a­shamed to plead want of Evidence for their Unbelief, what Excuse will they find for their Infidelity?

This may convince Infidels themselves, that their Infidelity is no security to them, for whether they will believe Heaven and Hell or not, if there be an Heaven they shall lose it, and if there be an Hell they shall fall into it for their Infidelity; and deservedly too, if their Infidelity be caus­ed by the fault of their Wills, not by a want of Evidence: and therefore no Man can be secure in his Infidelity, till he be [Page 414] secure that his Infidelity is not wilful; that there is no corrupt nor vicious af­fection which byasses and perverts his Judgment; and there is but one way of trying this, that I know of, and I am pret­ty confident, it would cure all the Infide­lity in the World: Let Men renounce all their sinful Lusts and Vices, which make them infamous to the World; let them obey the Laws of the Gospel, which are for the good of Humane Societies, for the good of their Families, which are the Or­nament and Perfection of Humane Na­ture, whether the Gospel be true or not, and then if they can disbelieve the Go­spel, it is not because their Deeds are e­vil, not because they have some Lust or other to serve by their Infidelity; and this would make their Infidelity very ex­cusable; but I know not of such an Infi­del as this in the World. It is apparent and visible, that the Infidels of our Days promise themselves security in their Vi­ces from their Infidelity: they laugh at Heaven and Hell, because they will not be at the pains to go to Heaven, and are a­fraid of Hell: Whatever Wit and Reason they pretend to, all Mankind see which way their Inclinations lead them; and if they do not see it themselves, nor suspect [Page 415] that this may be the cause of their Infi­delity, whatever Wit they may have, they have no Sense.

III. We shall be judged also for not im­proving those Talents we are entrusted with; that is, for not doing Good in the World: This many Men are apt to for­get. To squander away, and wast their Master's Goods, to do that which is evil, this they think they must give an account of, but if they do no hurt, they are not much concerned what good they do. But our Saviour in the Parable of the Talents, informs us better, that we must give an account of our Improvements: for he who received but one Talent, went and digged in the Earth and hid his Lord's Money, and when his Lord came to rec­kon with him, he said, Lord, I knew that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast what is thine. But his Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [Page 416] then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him,— And cast ye the un­profitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, 25 Matth.

Here we plainly see, that this Servant was not punished for spending his Master's Money, for he returned him the Talent▪ which he gave him; Lo, here thou hast what is thine; but for not improving it, as his other Servants had done: He was an unprofitable Servant, who had brought no advantage to his Master. And thus it is plain Men judge of Servants: He is a very wicked Steward indeed, who em­bezels his Master's Goods, but he is an unprofitable Servant who makes no Im­provements: and thus God will judge of us, as we think it reasonable to judge of our Servants.

And good GOD! when we consider how many Talents we are entrusted with, it should make us tremble to think wha [...] little Improvements we make of them: Every thing that is improveable to the Service and Glory of God, is a Talent▪ and if we do not improve it to God's Glory, and to do good in the World, it is a Talent hid in a Napkin, or buried in [Page 417] the Earth. As to give some short Hints and Intimations of this, for a just Discourse about this matter would be too long a Di­gression:

Power must be allowed to be a Talent, and a very improveable Talent; for eve­ry degree of Power gives Men great op­portunities of doing good: some Men move in a high Sphere, and can give Laws to those below; their very Ex­amples, their Smiles or Frowns are Laws, and can do more to the Reforming of the World, then the wisest Instructions, the most convincing Arguments, the most pa­thetical Exhortations of meanner Men.

But though few Men have such a Pow­er as this, yet most Men have some de­gree of Power; to be sure every Father and Master of a Family has; his Autho­rity reaches his Children and Servants, and were this but wisely improved, it would soon reform the World: But how few are there who improve this Talent? who use their Power to make those who are under their Authority obedient to God, which is the true Use and Improvement of Power.

Riches, I suppose, will be allowed to be another very improveable Talent, for what Good may not a rich Man do, if he have [Page 418] a Heart to do it? He may be Eyes to the Blind, and Feet to the Lame; a Father to the Fatherless, and a Husband to the Wi­dow; a Tutelar Angel, and even a God to Men. And Riches are a Trust and a Stewardship, of which we must give an Account. To spend them upon our Lusts, in Rioting, Luxury, and Wantonness, this is to wast our Master's Goods: and to keep them safe, without doing any good with them, is to hide them in the Earth, as the unprofitable Servant did his Talent: and if we must be judged and condemned for not improving our Talent, for not putting our Lord's money to the exchangers, that when he comes he may receive his own with usury, as our Saviour tells us; rich Men ought to examine their Accounts, and see what Encrease they have made of their Talent; not how they have multi­plied their Gold and Silver, but what good they have done with it.

Once more, Wisdom and Knowledge, especially the Knowledge of God and of Religion, is a very improveable Talent; for there is nothing whereby we can more advance the Glory of God, or do more good to Men: To Instruct the Ignorant, to Confirm the Doubtful, to Vindicate the Being and Providence of God, to Shame [Page 419] and Baffle Atheism and Infidelity, to Ex­pound the Doctrines and Laws of our Sa­viour, and Rescue them from perverse Glosses and Comments; this makes the Glory of God more visible to the World, and serves Mankind in their greatest and dearest Interests; it feeds their Souls with Knowledge and Understanding, directs them in the Way to Heaven, and minds them to take care of their Eternal State.

This indeed is the peculiar Care and Charge of the Minist [...]s of Religion; they are the stewards of the mysteries of GOD; those whom our Lord has made rulers o­ver his houshold, to give them meat in due season, 24 Matth. 25. And St. Paul tells us, It is required of these stewards, that they be found faithful. But this is a Ta­lent which those may have in great per­fection, who are not by Office the Guides of Souls; and where-ever it is, it must be improved, and must be accounted for: We may many times do more service to God, and more good to Men, by giving wise and wholesome Instructions, than by giving an Alms: This every Man who knows enough to take care of his own Soul, can do in some measure; and this he must and ought to do, as well as he can: but so few Men think of this, or [Page 420] charge themselves with it as belonging to their Account, that it is fit to mind you of it.

IV. We shall be judged not only for our own personal Sins, but, in many Ca­ses, for the Sins of other Men, which we have made our own: There are a great many ways whereby we may bring the guilt of other Mens Sins upon ourselves; when we tempt and provoke Men to sin, by our Authority, Counsels, Examples; when we perswade, intice, threaten, or shame Men into Sin; when we neglect our Duty, to those who are under our Government; do not instruct them bet­ter, do not forewarn them of the danger they are in of being miserable in this World, and in the next; when we do not restrain them, when we can, nor punish them for their Sins; when we are Part­ners with them in their Wickedness, or the Instruments of it; when we corrupt and debauch their Understandings with the Principles of Atheism, Infidelity, or Scepticism; whatever Wickedness Men are drawn into by these means, is charge­able upon ourselves, and must be added to our Account, as in reason it ought to be, for if we are the cause of other [Page 421] Mens Sins, we must bear the guilt of them too.

And if this be so, what a terrible Ac­count have some Men to make, which they never think of? How many have they corrupted by their Examples, or Counsels, or some other way? And how will this aggravate their own Condemna­tion, when they carry a long Train and Retinue of undone Souls to Hell with them? That if Men will not be good themselves, they ought to take care how they make others wicked: this they get nothing by, but a double Damnation, and they will find it enough to be damned for themselves.

V. We shall be judged also for our Se­cret Sins: Thus Solomon tells us, God shall bring every work into judgment, with eve­ry secret thing, whether it be good, or whe­ther it be evil, 12 Eccl. 14. And St. Paul tells us, That God shall judge the secrets of men by Iesus Christ, according to the go­spel, 2 Rom. 16. And therefore David prays to God, Cleanse thou me from secret faults, 19 Psal. 12.

There is no reason to think it should be otherwise, since our most secret Sins are visible to God: All things are naked [Page 422] and open unto the ey [...]s of him with whom we have to do, 4 Heb. 13. And when God knows our most secret Sins, why should he not judge us for them? Humane Judi­catures will punish those Sins which are most secretly committed, when they hap­pen to be discovered; for the Sin is ne­ver the less, nor does it less deserve to be punished, for being secret: and therefore though such Sins may escape the Judge­ment of Men by being concealed, they cannot escape God's Judgment, who sees and knows them.

I grant, that to commit Sin openly in the Face of the Sun, argues greater Impu­dence in sinning, does more publick Dis­honour to God, and gives greater Scan­dal to the World; but secret Sins put as great a Contempt on God, as open Impie­ties do; for it is a plain Proof, that such Sinners have a greater Reverence for Men than they have for God; though they pro­fess to believe that God is present every­where, and sees all they do, yet they se­curely commit the greatest Villanies un­der his Eye, when no body else sees them, which they durst not commit in the pre­sence of the meanest Man.

This is a very unaccountable thing, and one would imagine that such Men did not [Page 423] believe that God sees what they do in se­cret, and yet they do believe it; and we all know it is so: It may be there are few Men but are guilty of some private Sins at sometime or other, which nothing could have perswaded them to have committed publickly; and yet when any Man is tempted by Secresie and and Retirement, though he drives away the Thoughts of God, as much as he can, while he is in pursute of his Lusts and wicked Designs, when he comes to himself, and has time to think, his Conscience speaks Terrour to him, and puts him in mind, that God sees him, though Men do not.

But consider, I beseech you, if God will judge us for all our most secret Sins, how little it will avail us to conceal our Sins from Men: We may indeed by this means escape present Shame and Punishment, but eternal Shame, eternal Torment will be our Portion; and are we more afraid of being reproached by Men, then of being reproached by God and by our own Con­sciences? then of being exposed to Shame in the General Assembly of Men and An­gels? when God shall bring to light all the hidden Works of Darkness? are we more afraid of some Punishments in our Bodies or Estates, which Humane Laws [Page 424] and Judicatures can inflict on us, than we are of Hell, where the Worm dieth not, and the Fire is not quenched?

I am very sensible what it is that de­ceives Men in this matter, and if you will but reflect upon yourselves, you will find what I say to be true: You do believe that God sees your most secret Sins, and will judge and condemn you for them; and you are more afraid of Hell, then of all present Shame and Punishment; and yet you will venture upon those Sins un­der the Eye of God, which the Presence of a Man, at least of such Men as will dis­cover your Sin and Shame, and punish you for it, would have kept you from: What is the meaning of this? to be more afraid of God than of Men, and yet to stand in more awe of Man than of God?

The Account of this, which looks like a Mystery, I think, is very plain: Men dare not commit those Sins publickly, which they will venture on in private, because if Men see their Wickedness, they immediately forfeit their Reputation, and get such a Blot and Stain on their Names, which all the Tears of Repentance cannot wash out again; for they know the World is ill-natured, and every single Miscarri­age, which comes to be known, leaves an [Page 425] indelible Character of Infamy on them; and they are not willing to forfeit their Reputation, which is so necessary to the Comforts of Life, for ever: And besides this, if the Sins they commit be such as are punishable by Human Laws, if they be known, all their Repentance, how sincere soever it be, will not deliver them from Punishment; and though they love their Sins very well, they will not venture the punishment of them.

But now though God abhors all Sin more than the best Men do, and Hell be a more terrible Punishment, then any thing in this World, yet God may be atoned and reconciled by Repentance: Repen­tance will restore them to the Favour of God, and hide and cover their Sins, and blot them out of their account, and recon­cile them to their own Consciences, and prevent their final Punishment in the next World: and this they resolve upon; re­pent they will, and Repentance will secure them both from the future Shame and Pu­nishment of Sin; and therefore their one­ly care is, to conceal their Shame from Men, and to escape present Punishment: And this is the reason why they dare commit those Sins in secret, though they know God sees them, which they dare not [Page 426] commit in the view of the World: This makes the Presence and the Eye of God so ineffectual to restrain Mens Lusts, that they hope after all their secret Villanies to be friends again with God, but do not expect, should the World discover their Wickedness, that it would spare them, or ever think well of them more.

This looks like a very notable Contri­vance, to preserve our Reputation in the World by Secresie, and to regain the Fa­vour of God by Repentance: But the De­vil is too cunning for Sinners; for if the Awe and Reverence for God, and the fear of a Future Judgment will not preserve Men from secret Sins, their other hopes will deceive them; such Mens Shame will not be long concealed, and their Re­pentance▪ will soon grow impossible.

When Men think to out-wit God, his Justice and Providence is concerned for their discovery: Almost as many Sinners as we see hanged, or pilloried, or whipt, so many Demonstrations there are, that Men cannot conceal their Sins, or can ne­ver be sure they shall: for all these Male­factors study Secresie and Concealment, as much as they can; and yet are at one time or other discovered, and suffer that publick Shame and Punishment they de­serve. [Page 427] There are a thousand Accidents which betray the greatest Privacies, a thousand Circumstances which make Men suspected, and that makes them watched, and curiously observed; they cannot al­ways use that Caution that is required, or the Partners and Instruments of their Sins are discovered, and then they betray one another: Nay, many Sins without great caution will betray themselves; let Men be never so secret in their Lust, it will be known to all the World when they begin to rot with it, when the Marks of their Sin grow visible, and can be hid no lon­ger: Nay, Men who sin very cautiously and secretly at first, in time grow more bold and impudent, and are not so much concerned to be private; what at first they were ashamed the World should know, in time they think no Shame. A Custom of Sinning, though in private, wears off the Modesty of Humane Nature; and when Men forget to blush, they despise Reproach and Censure, and then publish their own Wickedness, and seek for Re­tirement and Privacy no longer: The most impudent Sinners in the World were at first modest; but if they can find any Excuse to make a beginning, how modest soever their beginnings are, they quickly [Page 428] improve, and lose the sence of Sin, and a­version to it by their repeated Commis­sions, and then cannot bear the Restraints of Modesty and Retirement.

And this shews what little hope there is, that secret Sinners should ever prove true Penitents; for the most impudent and hardened Sinners sinned very secret­ly at first; and of all those Sinners, who make very modest and bashful beginnings, I doubt for one true Penitent, some hun­dreds sin away all thoughts of Repen­tance.

For the only effectual Restraint upon Humane Nature is an Awe and Reverence for God, and the Fear of Future Judge­ment, and Men may sin away this in pri­vate as well as in publick. When once they conquer a Reverence for God, and for their own Consciences, which a Cu­stom of Sinning will do, be it never so secret, they will have little regard to what the World says of them; they may fear Humane Punishments, but they are sunk below the sence of Shame.

If ever God reclaim such Men, it must be either by some great and severe Affli­ctions, which carry the Marks of a Di­vine Vengeance on them, or by discover­ing their Wickedness, and exposing them [Page 429] to publick Shame before they have lost all sence of it. But if Men sin secretly, and are very fortunate in concealing their Sins, they will never think it time to re­pent, till they can sin no longer.

And therefore since GOD sees our most secret Sins, and will judge us for them, let us maintain a constant Awe for God in our greatest Retirements; let us remember, that God is always present with us, that he sees us when no other Eye sees, that he abhors our most secret Sins, that it is a great Contempt of God, to retain a Reverence for Men, and to cast off the Reverence of God; to be a­shamed that Men should know and see that Wickedness which we are not asham­ed to commit, tho' we know God looks on.

But then on the other hand, we must remember, that at the Day of Judgment God will reward all the good we do, how private and secret soever it be; as our Sa­viour assures us, with reference to our pri­vate Devotions, private Alms, and private Fasts: 6 Mat. That our Father, who seeth in secret will reward us openly.

It is too often seen, that Men make Re­ligion itself minister to their Lusts and Se­cular Interests; as the Pharisees did all [Page 430] their Works, to be seen and to be admir'd of Men; and therefore their great care was for what is external and visible, they pray­ed in the Corners of the Streets, and gave their Alms with the sound of a Trumpet, and disfigured their Faces, that they might appear unto Men to Fast. This was all vain Glory and Hypocrisie; and when they were admired by Men for it, they had the Reward they aimed at, and all the Reward they must expect.

But true Religion does not court the Applause of Men: A good Man must set a good Example to the World in his pub­lick Conversation; but such Acts of Ver­tue as may be private, he is contented should be known to none but God and his own Conscience.

This is highly acceptable to God, for it is to do good only for God's sake, and that satisfaction we take in doing good: Here is no mixture of Secular Ends, but God is the whole World to us; that he sees it, is more than all Humane Applause, though the whole World were the Thea­tre; we expect our Reward from him, and from him only, for we let no body else know it; which is such a Perfection of Obedience, of Faith, of Hope and Trust in God, as deserves the greatest Rewards.

[Page 431]Those who industriously conceal the good they do from Men can expect no­thing from Men for it, neither Praise nor Rewards, and therefore can have no other Motive to do good, but the Love and Reverence of God, and Faith in him, or the pleasure they take in doing good for Goodness sake, which are such Noble and Divine Principles of Action, as command Reverence from all Men, when they are discovered, do great Honour to the Di­vine Nature, and will procure great Re­wards: which is a mighty encouragement to the most secret Vertues, to the most se­cret Acts of Devotion and Charity, That our Father, who seeth in secret, will re­ward us openly in the presence of men and angels.

VI. We shall be judged for the Sins of our Thoughts; and though all Men will confess this also, yet few consider it.

Good God! could we look into one a­nothers Thoughts, how should we blush, and be confounded to see each other! Men, who seem to make Conscience of their external Behaviour and Conversati­on, make very little Conscience of govern­ing their Thoughts and secret Passions.

[Page 432]Those who appear so modest as to blush at any indecent Word and Action, too often at the very same time burn with Lust, and entertain their Fancies with all impure and unclean Imaginations.

The most affable and courteous Men, whose Words and Behaviour are soft, en­dearing, and obliging, can yet cherish re­vengeful Thoughts, Anger, Malice, Ha­tred, and please themselves with the Ima­gination of some Tragical Scenes, which they dare not Act.

Nay, many times those who appear Humble to a Fault, who seem as free from Ambition as any Men in the World, who arrogate nothing to themselves, nay seem to admire every body but themselves, are yet very full of themselves, swoln with vain Conceits of their own Worth and Me­rit, and please themselves with their own Deserts, and that the World takes notice of their Deserts; and then they consider, how they ought to be rewarded and preferred, and will be sure to choose very well for themselves; and thus entertain their delu­ded Fanices with vain and empty Scenes of Greatness and Glory.

The Pharisees thought all this very in­nocent: that to lust after a beautiful Wo­man, and please themselves with amorous [Page 433] and wanton Imaginations were no Crime, if they did not commit Adultery; that Anger, and Malice, and Revenge were ve­ry innocent, while confined to thought; but our Saviour teaches his Disciples bet­ter, Ye have heard, it hath been said to them of old, Thou shalt not commit adulte­ry. But I say unto you, Whosoever look­eth on a woman to lust after her, hath com­mitted adultery with her already in his heart. You have heard it hath been said unto them of old, Thou shalt not kill: and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, Whosoever shall be angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, 5 Matth. 21, 22, 27, 28.

For indeed the Thoughts and Passions of the Soul defile the Man: they discover the temper and complexion of the Mind: This is the conceiving of lust, as St. Iames speaks; and while Men indulge them­selves in wanton, lustful, proud, ambiti­ous, spiteful, and revengeful Thoughts, it is almost impossible but such Thoughts as these will influence their Actions, when a favourable opportunity serves; and if they do not, yet we know what the Mens Hearts are; and God who dwells within us, and sees our Thoughts, will judge the [Page 434] Secrets of Hearts. Men who act over the Scenes of Lust, and Pride, and Revenge in their Minds, are as unlike to God, who is Essential Holiness, Purity, Love, as those who commit all those Villanies, which they only please themselves with the fan­cy of: Our Likeness to God consists one­ly in the Conformity of our Wills and Affections to him; for it is only a Spirit that can be like a Spirit; and therefore while our Thoughts and Passions are so contrary and opposite to the Divine Na­ture, God can never own us, we are not his Children, we are not yet born of God, for we have nothing of his Image on us.

And therefore let us take care of our Thoughts, of our Passions and secret Af­fections, for we must be judged for these, as well as for our external Actions; we may sin with our Minds and Spirits, as well as with our Bodies; and God who is a Spirit, requires the Worship and Obe­dience of our Minds and Spirits, and is as much offended with sinful and impure Thoughts, as with wicked Actions.

VII. We shall be judged for our Words too: Thus our Saviour assures us, 12 Matth. 36, 37. But I say unto you, That e­very [Page 435] idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be con­demned. I need not tell you what these idle words are; Prophane Atheistical Dis­course, Blaspheming God and his Provi­dence, Ridiculing his Worship and Religi­on, the Doctrines and Precepts of it, and those Miracles which were wrought by the Power of the Holy Ghost, for the Con­firmation of Christianity, to which our Saviour particularly refers in this place; or Obscene and Wanton Discourse, which S. Paul calls corrupt communication, which should never come into the mouths of Christians, and all Reviling and Reproach­ful Speeches, Slandering, Backbiting, Rail­ing, which our Saviour threatens with E­ternal Damnation: But I say unto you, Whosoever is angry with his brother with­out a cause, shall be in danger of the judge­ment: and whosoever shall say to his bro­ther, Racha, shall be in danger of the coun­sel: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire, 5 Mat. 22. And St. Iames with a peculiar respect to such angry reproachful Language, tells us, If any man among you seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth [Page 436] his own heart, that man's religion is vain, 1 James 26. And yet I need not tell any Man, how common this practise is.

Atheistical, Prophane, Obscene, Revil­ing Discourses, make up the Wit, and Hu­mor, and Conversation of the Age: The brisk and pleasant Talkers would sit like Moops, and gaze upon one another with­out one wise word to say, unless you al­low them to laugh at God, and Religion, and all things sacred, to make a Mock of Sin, to tickle their Fancies with Obscene Jests, or Spiteful Reflections; for were it ever possible that such Men should have nothing to Laugh at, or nothing to Rail at, they were undone.

These Men never think of being judg­ed for their Words; and yet there is as much reason we should be judged for our Words as for our Actions.

Words are the first and most natural In­dications of the Temper and Disposition of the Mind; For out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh: Our Words be­tray the Atheism and Infidelity, the Lust and Wantonness, Revenge and Malice, and other evil Passions, which are within: Men are generally more cautious of their Acti­ons than of their Words, and they can speak their Minds, when they cannot act; [Page 437] and therefore may be better known by their Words than by their Actions: nay, Words do not only betray what is within, but shew, what the Heart most abounds with: for out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh: That Men talk of most, which is most in their Thoughts, and which they are most full of; so full, that they cannot open their mouths, but it runs out.

There are some Fools that only say in their Hearts, There is no GOD. Such Thoughts as these lie low and secret, are not come to maturity and perfection yet to be talked; but when Men venture to say this with their Mouths, when they come to be talking and disputing Fools, it is a sign they are very full of these Thoughts, and either are Atheists, or have a great mind to be so.

There are a great many lascivious Wan­tons, who yet are very modest in Conver­sation, and will not offend chast Ears with their Wanton Discourse; but when Men think they can't be witty nor pleasant Company, without larding their Talk with Obscene Jests, and putting Modest Ma­trons and Virgins to the Blush, they have arrived at a great perfection of Lewdness; And do not such Men deserve to be judg­ed?

[Page 438]But besides this, does any thing do more Mischief in the World, than Words, as little as some Men make of them? Can there be a greater Contempt of God, then for Men to Deny his Being, to Reproach his Providence, to Ridicule his Worship? St. Iude tells us, That the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute vengeance upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their un­godly deeds which they have ungodly com­mitted, and of all the hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him, Jude 14, 15, v.

Does any thing more tend to corrupt the Minds of Men, then such Words, which St. Paul says, Eat like a canker, 2 Tim. 2.17. and prey upon the very Vi­tals of Religion?

What tends more to corrupt Mens Lives then lewd and wanton Talk, as St. Paul tells us, That evil communication cor­rupts good manners?

What makes more Divisions in the World, and gives greater Disturbance to Neighbours, and Families, and private Persons, then Slandering, and Backbiting, and Tale-bearing? I am sure St. Iames tells us, That the tongue is a little mem­ber, and boasteth great things. Behold [Page 439] how great a matter a little fire kindleth. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniqui­ty: so is the tongue amonst our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell, 3 Jam. 5, 6. And if Words can do so much Mischief in the World, it is very fit that GOD should judge us for them; and then it is very fit that we should be careful of our Words.

CHAP. VII. Concerning the Righteousness of the Future Iudgment, and the Rule whereby we shall be judged.

ST. Paul tells us, That God will judge the world in righteousness, which had been a terrible saying, did Righteousness always signifie strict and severe Justice; For who then could be saved? But [...] signifies Mercy, Goodness, Equity, as well as Justice; or Justice tempered with Equity and Mercy: And what the Apostle adds, That God will judge the World in Righteousness by that man whom be hath ordained; that is, by Christ Je­sus, [Page 440] proves that Righteousness signifies an equal, kind, and merciful Justice: For Christ is a Mediatory King, and a Media­tory Judge; He judges between God and Man; He sets Bounds and Measures to Justice, and makes allowances for the fol­ly and weakness of Human Nature; and with a Soveraign Authority dispenses not only the Justice, but the Mercies of God.

When God appoints the Great High-Priest and Mediator to be the Judge of the World, all Mankind may expect a very merciful Judge; for the High-Priest and Mediator must judge with Equity and Mercy, or else he does not maintain his Character of Mediator, when he judges; and yet the Final Judgment is the conclu­ding Act of his Mediatory Kingdom, and therefore an Act of his Mediation.

We know not certainly how God will deal with the Heathen World, who never heard of Christ, and never had the Gospel preached to them; but it seems to look very favourably on them, that the Savi­our of Mankind, the merciful and com­passionate Jesus, is their Judge also; which promises all the Mercy that their Condi­tion is capable of; and how much that is, we cannot tell; for the Saviour of the [Page 441] World must judge with Mercy and Equi­ty, not by the Rules of severe and rigo­ [...]ous Justice: Of which more presently.

Leaving then the Heathen World to the Mercies of God, which are over all his Works, it more concerns us to enquire by what Rule Christ will judge us, who have had the Gospel preached to us.

Now in general St. Paul tells us, God will judge the secrets of men by Christ Ie­sus according to my Gospel, 2 Rom. 16. that is, by the Gospel which I preach: The Gospel of our Saviour is the Rule, whereby we shall be judged; by which our Lives and Actions shall be examined; and as the Gospel acquits or condemns any Man, so he shall be acquitted or con­demned at the last Judgment. So that we need not go far to know, what our Doom shall be, we need not search into the secret and hidden Counsels of God; the Gospel lies open before us, and though we cannot find our Names there, we may read our Sentence; for God will ren­der to every man according to his deeds. To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and im­mortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and [Page 442] wrath: Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doth evil, of the Iew first, and also of the Gentile, but glory honour and peace to every man, that worketh good to the Iew first, and also to the Gentiles, for there is no respect of persons with God, 2 Rom. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. What this good, and this evil is, the Gospel acquaints us; and if we do, what the Gospel commands, we shall be acquitted and rewarded; if we do, what it forbids, we shall be condem­ned. So that we certainly know, that all wicked Men, who live in the wilful commission of any known sin, shall be finally condemned: Christ will at that Day profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity, 7 Mat. 23. Know ye not, that the unrighte­ous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? be not deceived, neither Fornicators, nor Idolaters, nor Adulterers, nor Effeminate, nor Abusers of themselves with Mankind; nor Thieves, nor Covetous, nor Drunkards, nor Revilers, nor Extortioners, shall inhe­rit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6.9, 10. But the righteous shall shine forth like the Sun, in the Kingdom of their Father. And who these Righteous are St. Iohn tells us, Little children, let no man deceive you, he that doth righteousness is righteous, even [Page 443] as he is righteous: He that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning; for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God; in this the children of God are manifested, and the children of the devil. Whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother, 1 Joh. 3.7, 8, 9, 10.

This is very plain, and so expresly taught in Scripture, that every Man may as certainly know whether he shall be sa­ved, or damned, at the last Day, as he can know whether he be a good or a bad Man; whether he doth righteousness, or commits iniquity.

But most Men are conscious to them­selves of so much wickedness, that they don't love to hear of this; For what will become of them, if they must be reward­ed, or punished according to their Works? What difference is there between the Law and the Gospel, if they must still be judged according to their Works? For what could the Law do more than condemn the wicked, and reward the good? But they [Page 444] are very Sound and Orthodox Believers; they believe in God, who justifieth the ungodly; they believe in Christ, and trust in him for Salvation; and there is no con­demnation to those who are in Christ Iesus: [...] Rom. 1. they expect to be justified by Faith, to be saved by Grace, and that without the works of the law; And what has the Law then to do to condemn them, who believe in Christ, who have satisfied the Law in Christ, who have fulfilled the Law in him, who are washed from their sins in his Blood, and are clothed with his Righte­ousness imputed to them? Those who are not in Christ must indeed be judged by their Works, but all true Believers are ju­stified by their Faith, and saved by Grace.

Now it must be confessed, this is very expresly taught in Scripture, that we are justified by Faith, and saved by Grace, and that without the Works of the Law: By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight—But now the righte­ousness of God without the law is manifest, being witnessed by the Law and the Pro­phets, even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Iesus Christ—Being justified freely by his grace, 3 Rom. 20, 21, 22, 24, 25. thorough the redempti­on which is in Christ Iesus: whom God [Page 445] hath set forth to be a propitiation through Faith in his blood, to declare his righte­ousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God. That A­braham our Father was not justified by Works but by Faith:4 Rom. That being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Iesus Christ. 5 Rom. 1. By grace you are saved; tbrough faith, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God; not of works, 2 Eph. 8, 9. least any man should boast. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by grace hath he saved us by the washing of regeneration, 3 Tit. 5. and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

But then it is as plain on the other hand,2 Rom. 6. that God will render to every man according to his deeds: that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, 2 Cor. 5.10. to receive the things done in the body, ac­cording to what we have done, whether it be good or bad. That Christ will con­demn all wicked Christians, whatever their Faith be: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father, which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, 7 Mat. 21.22, 23. Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy [Page 446] name done many wonderful works: and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work ini­quity.

What shall we say then to this matter? both these Propositions must be allowed to be undoubtedly true: We are justified by Faith, we are saved by Grace, without the Works of the Law; and we shall be judged according to our works, and shall re­ceive what we have done in this body, whe­ther good or evil. That is, we are justi­fied by faith, justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Iesus, and through faith in his blood, and yet shall be condemned at the last Judg­ment, if we live wickedly. This is a matter of very great consequence to be plainly stated, because a great many Chri­stians encourage themselves in sin with vain hopes, and eternally perish by a presumptuous Faith and Reliance on Christ.

I. Now in the first place, that whate­ver mistakes, or misapprehensions Men may have about the nature of Faith and Justification, may not endanger their Souls by encouraging them in sin, I observe, that we must reconcile the Doctrine of [Page 447] Justification by Faith without Works, to our being judged by our Works, not ex­pound away the Doctrine of our being judged according to our Works, to recon­cile it to our Notions of Justification by Faith. And there are manifest Reasons for this.

1. Because it is as expresly taught in Scripture, that we shall be judged by our Works, as it is, that we are justified by Faith, and therefore we must not oppose our Justification by Faith, to our being judged by our Works; for that is not to expound Scripture, but to confute one Scripture Doctrine by another; to prove that we shall not be judged by our Works, though the Scripture says we shall, be­cause the Scripture also teaches, that we are justified by Faith without Works. Now if it be allowable to reject any Scri­pture Doctrine, or to confute one Do­ctrine by [...]other, we may with as good reason [...] them both by each other, and bel [...] neither; for if they can't be reconciled, but we must deny one, our being judged by our Works does as plain­ly prove, that we are not justified by Faith without Works, as Justification by Faith proves, that we shall not be judged by our Works: We must distinguish be­tween [Page 448] expounding and reconciling Scri­pture, and confuting it, and therefore whatever we believe about Justification by Faith, we must still confess, we shall be judged by our Works.

For 2. There is great reason to expound Justification by Faith, by our being judged by Works; because when we are told in Scripture, That God will render to us ac­cording to our deeds, that every man must receive the things done in his body, accord­ing to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad. These are plain proper ex­pressions, without any Figure or Meta­phor in them, and therefore are capable of no other sence, than what the words at first view signifie. We shall receive what we have done; if we have done good, we shall be rewarded; if we have done evil, we shall be punished: good Men shall be received into Heaven; and all wicked Men, even wicked Believers, as well as wicked Infidels shall [...] cast into Hell: this every Child understands to be the meaning of these Words, and no other sence can be made of them; and there­fore since this is so plainly, and so fre­quently taught in Scripture, whatever we believe else, we must believe this, if we believe the Scripture.

[Page 449]But now when we read of being justi­fied by Faith without Works, every word is capable of very different sences, and we know is expounded very differently by learned Men; according to the different Hypothesis they intend to serve by it: and then we must confess, it is not so cer­tain, what is meant by Justification by Faith without Works, as what is meant by being judged according to our Works: at least so much must be allowed, that we must prefer that sence of Justification by Faith, which agrees with our being judged by our Works, before any other interpre­tation, which contradicts or overthrows this plain sence of a Future Judgment.

As for instance: Some by justifying un­derstand making just and righteous, that to justifie the ungodly, is to make a wicked Man good by the power and efficacy of Faith; but then to justifie the ungodly without the Works of the Law, or to make a wicked Man good without good Works, does not found very well: and therefore others more reasonably, and more agree­ably to Scripture, understand justifying in a forensick sence, for absolving, acquitting, declaring and accounting Men just and righteous, and treating them as such; that is, imputing righteousness to them, though [Page 450] in a strict and proper sence, they are not inherently righteous: And then this fo­rensick Justification may either signifie our being justified at Baptism, when by the profession of our Faith we are incorpora­ted by Baptism into Christ's Church, and are made the Members of his Mystical Body, and have all our sins washed away in his Blood, and come pure and inno­cent out of the laver of Regeneration; and thus the most ungodly Sinners are ju­stified by Faith in Baptism, without Works, or any antecedent righteousness of their own; or else this Justification may be ex­tended to the Future Judgment; that at the last Day of Account we shall be justi­fied, acquitted, absolved, rewarded, by Faith without Works; but this does not agree very well with our being judged, and receiving, according to our Works: the Scripture expresly teaches, that we are justified by Faith without Works, and that we shall be judged by our Works; but never saith we shall be judged by our Faith; which seems to make a great dif­ference between being justified and being judged: for if we are justified without Works, and judged by our Works; justi­fied by Faith without Works, but not judged, not acquitted and rewarded, by [Page 451] Faith without Works, to be justified, and to be judged, cannot signifie the same thing.

Thus when we are said to be justified by Faith, some by Faith understand such a firm and steadfast belief of the whole Gospel, of all that concerns the Person and Mediation of Christ, the Expiation of his Blood, his Resurrection from the Dead, and Intercession for us in Heaven, his Laws, his Promises and Threatnings, as renews and sanctifies our Nature, go­verns our Lives, conquers the World, subdues the Flesh to the Spirit, and makes us truly Divine and God-like Creatures, the Sons of God, not meerly by external relation, but by a participation of his Na­ture.

Now this Notion of justifying Faith, that we shall be justified by a living, work­ing Faith, is very reconcilable with being judged by our Works; for if we cannot be justified by Faith without Works, if no Faith can justifie, but that which is fruit­ful in all good Works, then we may be judged by our Works, since Holiness is essential to a justifying Faith.

Others by justifying Faith understand a reliance and recumbency on Christ for Sal­vation; a receiving and embracing Christ, [Page 452] and rowling their Souls on him, as they are pleased to express it; which, when taken out of Metaphor, can signifie no more, than to hope and trust in Christ, that he will save them, and to be willing to be saved by him without any Works and Righteousness of their own. Now if the bare Act of relying on Christ would justifie and save Men, I cannot see, how such Believers should be judged by their Works, though Infidels may: But this Antinomian Conceit of justifying Faith is not so plain and certain, as it is that we shall be judged by our Works: Not to dispute the Point now, these Men may be mistaken in their Notion of justifying Faith; but there can be no dispute made, what the meaning is of being judged ac­cording to our Works.

Thus when we are said to be justified by Faith, in opposition to Justification by Works, it is matter of Controversie, what is meant by Works. Some think, that when Works are rejected as contributing nothing to our Justification, the Apostle means only the Works of the Ceremonial Law; such as Circumcision and Sacrifi­ces, Washings and Purifications, the Ob­servation of New Moons and Sabbaths, &c. for this was the great Dispute St. Paul had [Page 453] with the Iews, whether the Observation of the Mosaical Law were necessary to the Justification of Christians; and in this sence the Apostle with good reason asserts our Justification by Faith without Works. We are now justified by the Faith of Christ, not by the Rites and Ceremonies of the Mosaical Law.

Others, and with very good reason too, not only reject the Works of the Cere­monial Law, but also of the Moral Law, from the Justification of Sinners: not as if Sinners could be justified without good Works, but that they are not justified by them; that is, that no Man is justified by the Merit of his own Works, but by the Merit and Expiation of the Death of Christ. But though no Man is justified or saved, for the Merit of his Works, yet he may be judged according to his Works. Though no Man shall be saved by the Merit of his good Works, yet no Man shall be saved without good Works, and wicked Men shall be damned for their e­vil Works, which leaves room enough for our being judged according to our Works.

So that though we be not justified by Works, but by Faith, as St. Paul tells us, yet we must be judged by our Works; [Page 454] wicked Men shall be condemned for their Wickedness, and none but good Men shall be justified and saved by the Merits of Christ; and who are wicked, and who are righteous shall at the Last Day be judged by their Works.

And indeed, this is plainly confessed by those who contend most zealously fo [...] Justification by Faith alone, which makes this a very needless and impertinent Con­troversie; as appears from their way of reconciling St. Paul, and St. Iames. St. Paul tells us, we are justified, by Faith without the Works of the Law; St. Iames tells us, That by works a man is justified, and not by faith only, 2 Jam. 14. To reconcile these two great Apostles, they tell us, That the Man is justified by Fai [...]h and his Faith is justified by Works: Now whether this be the true way of reconci­ling St. Paul and St. Iames, I shall not at present dispute, but it grants all that I desire, that notwithstanding our being ju­stified by Faith, we shall be judged by our Works; for whether a Man or his Faith be judged and justified by Works, I think is the same thing: for if the Man must be justified by Faith, and his Faith justified by Works, I doubt the Man cannot be ju­stified without Works, unless he can be [Page 455] j [...]stified by an unjustified Faith. Before F [...]ith can justifie the Man, it must be ju­stified itself, and Faith must be justified by Works; and what this differs from judg­ing a Believer by his Works, I cannot tell. So that, as many Disputes as there are a­bout Justification by Faith, we ought firm­ly to believe, that we shall be judged by our Works; for most of the Notions of Justification by Faith, in opposition to our Justification by Works, are very recon­cilable with this Doctrine of being judged by our Works; and those that are not, are not so plain and certain, as it is, that we shall be judged by our Works.

3. However, since this is so plainly expressed in Scripture, that there is no a­voiding it, nor any other possible sence to be made of it, whatever our Notions of Justification be, it is much the safest way, to believe and expect, that we shall be judged according to our Works; that if we live wickedly, we shall certainly be condemned at that Day, and though we shall be acquitted and finally absolved by the Mercies of God, and the Merits of Christ, yet not without Holiness, not with­out good Works, not without partaking of the Divine Nature, and being conform­ed to Christ our Head. To entertain any [Page 456] other hopes will undo us for ever; for we shall be very ill prepared to give an account of our Lives and Actions, when our Lord comes to call us to an Account, if we can possess our selves with such No­tions of Justification, as deliver us from the Fears of Judgment; if we can per­swade our selves, that we shall not be judged according to our Works, but by the Merits of Christ; that we shall not receive the things done in the Body, whe­ther good or evil; but shall receive the purchase of Christ's Obedience and Righte­ousness without regard to our own.

These are the dangerous Conclusions, which some Men draw from their mista­ken Notions of Justification; and this is the great danger of such mistakes. While Men acknowledge the Grace of God, and the Merits of Christ in the Justification of Sinners, and believe that they shall be judged according to their Works, what­ever other Disputes there may be, there is no danger in them; but if Men by some uncertain Reasonings can perswade them­selves against the express Declarations of Scripture, that they shall not be judged according to their Works, this will make them careless of a Holy Life; and then when Christ comes to Judgment, how [Page 457] Orthodox Believers soever they are, he will say unto them, I know you not, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

2dly, But whatever Notions we have of Grace, nothing is more plain from the very Nature of Things, than that the righteousness of the Future Judgment con­sists in judging Men according to their Works; and therefore, if God judge the World in Righteousness, he must judge every Man according to his Works.

For 1. The Righteousness of the Future Judgment consists in rewarding good Men, and punishing the wicked, and in reward­ing and punishing none else: Now there is no other distinction between good and bad Men, but what their Works make: He is a good Man, who does good; and he is a wicked Man, who does that which is wicked. As St. Iohn tells us: Little children, let no man deceive you, he that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous; he that committeth sin is of the devil, 1 Joh. 3.7, 8.

The nature of Righteousness is certain and unchangeable, and cannot alter with Mens Opinions of it. It is our likeness and conformity to God, to be righteous as He is righteous, and therefore is as im­mutable [Page 458] as the Divine Nature; God may change our Natures, and make a wicked Man holy by the Power of his Grace, b [...]t he cannot change the Nature of Vertue and Vice, no more than he can change his own Nature: he can't make a wicked Man to be a Saint, while he lives wic­kedly; nor a Saint to be a wicked Man, while he lives in the Practice of Holiness and Vertue; the Nature of Good and E­vil can't be changed, and therefore a good Man cannot be wicked, nor a wic­ked Man good, without changing their Natures, and God cannot account a wic­ked Man righteous, nor a righteous Man wicked, without judging contrary to the Nature of Things.

It would be impossible for wicked Men, did they duly consider this, to flatter themselves, that God will so impute the Righteousness of Christ to them, as to account them perfectly righteous with­out any inherent Righteousness of their own, or without doing righteously. For when they know themselves to be so far from being righteous, that they are very wicked, why should they think, that God will judge of them otherwise than they are? That he will call good evil, and evil good; light darkness, and darkness light; [Page 459] s [...]eet bitter, and bitter sweet; when he himself has pronounced a Woe against those who do it, 5 Isai. 20. I am sure, a Righteous Judgment is to judge of things [...]s they are, to judge Good to be Good; and Evil to be Evil; to judge the Tree by the Fruit; that a good Tree is that which bringeth forth good Fruit, and an evil Tree which bringeth forth corrupt Fruit.

This is Truth and Righteousness in judging of the Natures of Things, and Righteousness in judging, as that signifies rewarding and punishing, is to reward and punish Men according to their Na­tures, Qualities and Deserts, to reward those, and those only, who do such things, as deserve a Reward, or at least as make them capable of being rewarded; and to punish those, who do such things as de­serve punishment; for to give every Man his Deserts, is to judge righte­ously.

All this is very plain; and it is as plain, that Righteousness and Vertue deserve a Re­ward, and Wickedness deserves to be punish­ed, and therefore a just and righteous Judge must reward good Men, and punish the wicked: This all Mankind agree in; they have no other Notion of judging righte­ously [Page 460] but this, to reward the good, and to punish the wicked; but to bless and prosper, and reward the wicked, and to punish the good, is without dispute con­fessed to be unjust. Some Men dispute the essential difference between Good and Evil, but all confess, that what we call Good deserves Praise and Reward, and what we call Evil deserves Punishment; and this Distinction between Good and Evil the Laws of all Nations make, and if this be accounted a righteous Judgment among Men, if God will judge the World, and judge in Righteousness, he also must judge Men according to their Works; un­less he means something else by judging righteously, than what Mankind under­stand by it.

And thus he has every-where declar'd, he will do, as I need not prove to those, who have read the Scripture: All the Threatnings both of the Law and the Go­spel, are against the Workers of Iniquity; all the Promises are made to Holiness and Obedience; and if this be the Rule of Righteousness and Justice, it must be the Rule also of a righteous Judgment; for to judge righteously, is to judge by the Rule of Righteousness.

[Page 461]Now if this be a righteous Judgment▪ to reward or punish Men according to the Good or Evil they have done, how can God judge the World in Righteousness, if he does not judge Men according to their Works? If he should acquit the Wicked, and bestow Heaven on them; or con­demn any good Man to Hell? For will any Man say, this is just? And therefore let the Grace of the Gospel be what it will, if it cannot make a wicked Man righteous without doing Righteousness, it can never make it just for God to save a wicked and ungodly Man. The Grace of God cannot change the Natures of Things; Righteousness and Justice is the same thing under the Gospel, that it was under the Law; and therefore to judge righteously is the same thing too, and that always did, and always will signifie to judge Men according to their Works; to judge those righteous Men, who do Righteousness; and those wicked Men, who do Wickedness, and to reward the Righteous, and punish the Wicked.

2dly, The Righteousness of the Future Judgment consists in the equality of it, to deal equally by all Men; now there is no other equal Rule of Judgment, but [Page 462] to judge Men by their Works; for there is nothing else for which all Mankind can be judged; and if some Men must be judged for the Good o [...] Evil of their [...] ­ctions, an equal Justice requires that all Men be judged by the same Rule. Men must either be judged by their Works, [...] by their Knowledge, or their Faith: As for Knowledge and Faith, it is evident, that Mens natural Capacities, and the Circumstances of their Lives and Fortunes, and Educations, which are not of their own choosing, and therefore cannot be imputed to them, make a very great difference. One Man has naturally a better Understanding, a quicker Appre­hension, a more piercing Judgment than another; or if their natural Abilities be equal, yet the Circumstances of their For­tunes and Education make a difference: One is better instructed, trained up in the Art of Thinking, and Reasoning, and Judging, and has leisure and opportunity to improve his Knowledge by Study; while another as capable as he, is either ill-taught, or not taught at all; or only taught the Art of Living in the World by Labour and Industry: that God might as well judge Men for being Rich or Poor, when their Fortune is not at their own di­sposal, [Page 463] but owing to their Birth, or to prosperous or adverse Events of Provi­dence, as to judge Men by the different Degrees and Improvements of Know­ledge.

Thus as for Faith, some never heard of Christ at all; or if they did, it was only under the Character of an Imposter, or of a Fable, but never had the true Reasons of Faith explained to them; others have been very ill instructed in the Faith of Christ, and never had opportunity to re­ctifie their mistakes; and yet as no Man is bound to know, what Nature does not teach, unless it be revealed to him; so no Man is bound to believe, what he has not so much as heard of, nor to believe every thing he does hear, without suffi­cient Evidence; nor to receive the true Faith of Christ, which he was never taught: So that should God divide the World at the Last Day, only into Believers and Infidels, this would be a very unequal distribution, because great part of the World, never had the Faith of CHRIST preached to them; and though Infidelity will condemn those Men, who have been instructed in the Faith of CHRIST, and would not believe, yet it cannot in [Page 464] Reason and Justice be imputed to those Men, who never heard of Christ.

But now the Being and Providence of God, and the Differences of Good and Evil, are known to all Mankind; Nature teaches this, and therefore all Mankind are bound to know it, and all Mankind may be judged by this Rule, whether they know God, and worship him as God, and take care to do that which is good, and to avoid the evil. This account St. Paul gives us of it. For the wrath of God is re­vealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of God from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eter­nal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened, 1 Rom. 18, 19, 20, 21. And the same Apostle tells us, That the Gentiles which have not the Law, (no Di­vine written Law) do by nature the things [Page 465] contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto themselves, which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing, or else excusing one another, 2 Rom. 14, 15, 16.

So that all Mankind, even Heathens themselves, have a natural knowledge of GOD, and of Good and Evil, and there­fore may be judged for what they know, and condemned by God for transgressing those Laws of Righteousness, for which their own Consciences condemn them, for this leaves them without excuse. And if God will judge the Heathens by their Works, and condemn them for those sins, they commit against the Light of Nature, an equal Justice requires, that Christians shall be judged by their Works also: For is it equal, to damn a Heathen for those Sins, which a Christian may commit and be saved? Will equal and impartial Justice allow, that when a Heathen and a Chri­stian are equally wicked, the Christian shall be saved, and the Heathen damned? Is not this to accept the Persons of Men in Judgment? to make a difference between the Men, when there is no difference in their Actions? And yet the same Apostle [Page 466] tells us, There is no respect of persons with God; for as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, 2 Rom. 11, 12. And that this is the Rule of Judgment, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Iesus Christ, according to the go­spel, v. 16.

There is no other common and general Rule, whereby all Mankind can be judged, but only this, to render to every Man ac­cording to his Works; for there is no­thing else, for which Men must be judged, that is common to all Men, but the natu­ral knowledge of God, and the differences of Good and Evil; Christians indeed know more, than the Light of Nature taught Heathens, and therefore have more to account for, than Heathens have; but if Heathens shall be condemned for their sins against the Light of Nature, if they shall be judged according to their Works, Christians have more reason to expect this: for if God be a righteous and im­partial Judge, he cannot condemn one Sinner for his Sins, and save another as wicked as he. The nature of Vertue and Vice is the same in all Mankind, whether Heathens, Jews, or Christians, and de­serves [Page 467] in itsself the same Rewards and Pu­nishments; if it be righteous in God to punish the Sins of Heathens, it is righte­ous in God to punish the same Sins of Christians; to render to all Men, whoe­ver they be, according to their Works; for this is to deal equally with all Men.

3dly, I add farther, that nothing else is the proper Object of Judgment, but the Good or Evil of our Actions, and there­fore if we be judged at all, we must be judged for the Good or Evil we have done.

For does Judging signifie any thing else, but Examining what Good or Evil such a Man hath done, and rewarding or pu­nishing him according to the Good or E­vil he has done? And therefore a righte­ous Judge cannot judge Men, cannot re­ward or punish them for that, which is neither Good nor Evil.

Now is there any thing Good or Evil, but Vertue or Vice? What is Knowledge good for, which does not direct and go­vern our Lives? What is Faith good for, which does not renew and sanctifie us? Are there not very knowing and belie­ving Devils? Does not Faith and Know­ledge make every sin we commit against [Page 468] Faith, and against Knowledge the more inexcusable? Does not our Saviour tell us, That he who knows his master's will, and does it not, shall be beaten with many stripes?

What Merit or Vertue is there in a pre­sumptuous reliance on Christ for Salvati­on, to call him Lord, Lord, and not to do the things, which he has command­ed?

And can we think then, that God will reward us for our Knowledge, or our Faith, and overlook all the Evils and Im­purities of our Lives? Will he reward us for that which deserves no Reward? and not punish us for that which deserves pu­nishment? Is this to judge the World in Righteousness.

This is abundantly enough to prove, that we must be judged according to our Works, that we must receive the things done in the Body, whether Good or Evil, since the Righteousness of the Future Judg­ment makes this necessary.

3dly, Let us then consider, how this matter may be reconciled, that we are saved by Grace, and justified by Faith in Christ, and yet must be judged by our Works. And this is very easily done; [Page 469] for we shall be judged by our Works, according to the Gracious Terms of the Gospel.

The Faith of Christ was never intend­ed to give us a liberty in sinning, or to excuse us from the necessity of a holy life, and as far as the necessity of holiness is reconcilable with the Grace of the Go­spel, so far our being judged by our Works is reconcilable with our being sa­ved by Grace; upon the same Terms, that the Gospel promises Pardon and For­giveness, we shall be pardoned at the Day of Judgment; whatever the Gospel promises to reward, shall be rewarded at the Day of Judgment; and thus we are judged by Grace, and by Works too. This is easily understood by those, who know any thing of the Gospel of Christ, and therefore I shall at present, but just men­tion it.

The Gospel of Christ promises Pardon of sin to true Penitents, who are heartily sorry for their sins, abhor themselves for them, make restitution for the Injuries they have done to Men, beg God's Par­don in the Name and Mediation of Christ, and amend their Lives; for Christ has made atonement and expiation for such Sinners; and therefore at the Day of [Page 470] Judgment, no Man shall be condemned for such sins, as he has heartily repented of, and reformed: and this is to be judged by Grace, as well as by our Works; for the Law prescribes our Duty, but promises no Pardon, no not to Penitents; this is owing to the Grace of God through the Merits and Mediation of Christ: but though the Grace of the Gospel pardons true Penitents, yet the same Gospel threatens eternal damnation against im­penitent Sinners.1 Rom. 18. The wrath of God is re­vealed from heaven against all unrighte­ousness and ungodliness of men, 2 Rom. 8, 9. who hold the truth in unrighteousness. To them who are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man, that doth evil. And therefore im­penient Sinners will be judged and con­demned for their sins at the last Day by the Mediatour of the Covenant of Grace, for the Gospel itself condemns them.

Thus the Grace of God, that bringeth salvation, and hath appeared unto all men, teacheth us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, 2 Titus 11, 12. we should live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world. And therefore, without holiness no man shall [Page 471] see God. Heaven is the Reward only of good Men, who live in the Exercise of all Christian Graces and Vertues; and there­fore good Men must be judged, must be rewarded according to their Works; and yet this is Gospel-Grace too: for such a glorious Reward as Heaven, is above the Merit of the most perfect Vertue in this World. The best Man cannot challenge such a Reward from the Justice of God, and therefore it is owing to Gospel-Grace: the wages of sin is death, 6 Ron 23. but eter­nal life is the gift of God (not the merit and desert of our Works) through our Lord Iesus Christ. Especially, when we consider, that this great and perfect Re­ward is bestowed upon a very imperfect Vertue; the Obedience of the best Men is very defective, stained and sullied with Human Weaknesses, Indiscretions, Follies, Ignorances, Mistakes, indecent Surprizes of Passion, or coldness and flatness of De­votion, and too often interrupted with wilful and scandalous sins, such as nothing but Grace can pardon, and therefore much more nothing but Grace can reward: and therefore good Men are judged by Grace, and rewarded by Grace, though accor­ding to their Works.

[Page 472]We are all Sinners, we are all obnoxi­ous to the Justice of God, would he be extream to mark what is done amiss; but since a perfect Vertue is not to be ex­pected from Mankind in this lapsed state, God is pleased to accept of sincerity in­stead of perfection, and through the Me­rits of Christ, and Faith in his Blood to account him a righteous Man, who sin­cerely loves and fears him, and obeys his Laws, though with the Weaknesses and Infirmities incident to Humane Nature. So that our being judged by our Works signifies no more, but that we are distin­guished by the Good or Evil we do, into good or bad Men according to the fa­vourable allowances of the Gospel, and then bad Men receive the just desert of their sins, and good Men receive those Rewards, not which they have merited, but which the Grace of God, and the Me­rits of Christ have prepared and purcha­sed for them.

This is a plain account, how Christians may be judged by their Works, and yet saved by Grace, and by Faith in Christ; and the righteousness and equity of the last Judgment seems to entitle Heathens them­selves (thô they have no Covenant Right to it) to some degrees of this Grace: for I [Page 473] cannot think, that God in judging the World will deal more rigorously and se­verely with Heathens, than he will with Christians, that he will demand most, where he has given least, which is con­trary to our Saviour's Rule of Judgment: and therefore I cannot but hope, that Christ in judging of their Works will make the same favourable allowances to them, which the Gospel makes to those, who do believe in Christ: that is to say, that he will allow of the Repentance of a Heathen, if it were sincere and hearty, and did reform his Life, as well as of the Repentance of a Christian; that he will overlook the same Defects and Imperfe­ctions in the good Actions of Heathens, who lived vertuous Lives, who worship­ped the One true God, and observed the natural Rules of Sobriety, Justice, and Righteousness, that he will in the Actions of Christians. That if any Heathen should be found equally vertuous with the meanest Christian, who shall be finally saved, that Heathen at least will not be damned; and indeed would seem to have reason to com­plain of unequal usage, if he should. St. Paul tells us, both with respect to Jews and Heathens, as well as Christians, That God will judge the secrets of men by Christ [Page 474] Iesus, according to the Gospel. And if the Gospel be the Rule of judging all Mens Actions, they must be all equally judged with respect to the Good or Evil of their Actions, and be judged, as the Gospel judges.

I grant, the Heathens had no promise of Pardon upon their Repentance, but yet all Mankind believed so well of the Goodness and Mercy of God, that they hoped for Pardon upon their Repentance; thus we find the Ninivites did, and they had it; and indeed it was this perswasion, that taught them to pray to God, and to offer Sacrifices, which had been insignifi­cant things, had they not been perswa­ded, that God both could, and would pardon sin, when Sinners repent.

Nor have the Heathens any Covenant Title to Salvation, and yet they were ge­nerally perswaded, that good Men shall be rewarded, and the wicked punisht in the next World, and their Consciences did either condemn or absolve, terrifie or com­fort them, as ours do us; which are ve­ry vain hopes, if there be no Reward for them, thô they should observe the Laws of Vertue.

St. Peter tells us, what he had learnt from the Case of Cornelius, a Roman Cen­turion, [Page 475] but a devout Worshipper of God, and one who gave much Alms:10 Act. 34, 35. Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of per­sons; but in every nation, be that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted of him. What does St. Peter mean? that God will accept Heathens, who are per­fectly innocent and righteous, and never committed any sin? He knew very well there were no such Men in the World, much less among the Heathens; and there­fore he must mean, that God will accept of all honest sincere Worshippers of him, though guilty of many human Frailties, of what Nation soever they be.

It is true, no Man's sins shall be forgi­ven, nor his Vertue rewarded, but for the sake of Christ, who is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; for there is no other Name given unto Men, where­by they can be saved, but only the Name of Christ; but if all, who shall be saved from the beginning to the end of the World, shall be saved by Christ, as it is certain, they must be, if there be no other Name, whereby Men can be saved; it is to be hoped, that many thousands will be saved by Christ at the Day of Judgment, who never had any explicite Knowledge or Faith in him: for though, I grant, God [Page 476] promised a Saviour to Man immediately after the Fall, and renewed this Promise to Abraham, and afterwards to David, and prefigured him in the Types and Sa­crifices of the Law, yet Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins was never publickly preached in his Name, till he gave that Commission to the Apostles after his Re­surrection from the Dead. And now lit­tle the Jews understood of the Nature or Office of their Messias, is very plain from the ignorance of Christ's own Disciples and Apostles, who expected, that he should be a Temporal Prince and Saviour; and understood so little of his being a Sa­crifice for Sin, or of their being saved through Faith in his Blood, that St. Peter himself could not with any patience hear of his dying; and when he was put to Death, his Disciples thought all their great hopes and expectations from him utterly disappointed, till they saw him a­gain, after he was risen from the dead. So that those good Men, even among the Jews, who lived before Christ's appearing in the World, though they had the Pro­mises of the Messias, yet do not seem to have had any explicite knowledge, what kind of Saviour the Messias was to be, nor by what means he should save us, though [Page 477] the Types and Figures and Promises of the Law, seem very plain to us now, since Christ expounded them to his Disciples, and they to us; and therefore they could not be saved by such a Faith in Christ's Blood, as is now required from us; for they did not know, that he was to save us by the merit and expiation of his death: and if those good Men might be saved by the Blood of Christ, who had no know­ledge of his dying for our sins, and there­fore no explicite Faith in his Blood, why not those also, who had never heard of Christ, if they lived so, as to be capable of Salvation? For that Promise of a Savi­our made to Adam immediately after his Fall, That the seed of the woman should break the serpent's head: was in him made to all Mankind, who descend from his Loyns.

And though Christ has not been preach­ed to all Ages, nor to all parts of the World, yet he is the Judge of all Men, and he judges as Mediator between GOD and Man, as I observed before; and therefore judges all Mankind not by the Rules of strict and rigorous Justice; for that is not the Office of the Mediator; but by the mercy and equity of the Go­spel.

[Page 478]This makes a very fair representation of the equal Justice, Righteousness, and Mercy of the last Judgment: that no Man shall perish meerly for the misfor­tune of his Birth; that he lived before Christ was preached to the World, or in such Countries where Christ was never preached; but though the Gospel was never preached to him, yet he shall be judged by Gospel Grace, and if he were a true Penitent, and a sincere Worshipper of God, shall have liberty to plead his Re­pentance, and the sincerity of his Obedi­ence, at the Tribunal of Christ, when he comes to Judgment; which will be so un­deniable a Justification of the Righteous­ness of the Last Judgment, that were there no other reason for it, it would mightily incline any Man, who thinks honourably of God, to believe it.

And this will teach all Christians, what I am sure some have great need to be taught, that the benefit they receive by the Knowledge and Faith of Christ, is not to be saved upon easier terms, than the rest of the World, for it will appear at the Day of Judgment, that a great deal more is expected from them, than from ignorant Heathens; but the true benefit of having the Gospel preached to [Page 479] them is, that they are more perfectly in­structed in the Will of God, and the means of Salvation; have more express Revela­tions of the Rewards and Punishments of the next Life; have more express Promi­ses of Pardon and Forgiveness; are de­livered from the Cheats and Impostures of evil Spirits, and have the powerful as­sistances of the Divine Grace; that is, all the Helps, Advantages, Encouragements, and Obligations, to improve in Christian Graces and Vertues, to avoid the threat­ned Miseries, and to obtain the Glorious Rewards of the next Life; this is an inesti­mable advantage, which we Christians enjoy above Jews or Heathens, which, if we improve well, we cannot fail of being happy for ever; we may by diligence and caution make our Calling and Electi­on sure; these great advantages the Hea­then World wanted, and therefore were overrun with Idolatry, and all manner of Wickedness, and seldom saw any great Examples of Vertue to shame them, or teach them better. This is a great diffe­rence God has put between us and the Heathen World; and we need not envy them as favourable a Judgment, as we hope to have our selves; for certainly they want it more; and therefore it be­comes [Page 480] the righteous and merciful Judge of the World to give it them.

Thus we see in general by what Rule we shall be judged, and the Righteousness of such a Judgment; but there are some things, which though they have been briefly mentioned before, deserve a more particular consideration.

As 1. Though we shall be judged for all the Good or Evil we have done, yet our Saviour in describing the Process of the Last Judgment, makes no mention of any thing, but Acts of Charity: 25 Mat. 34, &c. When he shall have separated the sheep from the goats, and set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left: then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was an hungred, 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, a [...]d ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying: Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink: or when [Page 481] saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee. And the King shall answer and say unto them: Verily I say unto you, inas­much as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying: Lord, when saw we thee an hun­gred, or a thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, say­ing: Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. This is so remarka­ble a difference, which our Saviour makes between Charity, and all other Graces, that it concerns us to take notice of it, and to enquire, what the meaning of it is.

1. Now in the first place, there is no doubt, but our Saviour's intention in this was very powerfully to recommend all [Page 482] Acts of Charity to us, since Heaven is the peculiar Reward of Charity; and to make us as much afraid of all Uncharitableness, as we are of any other, the most enor­mous and flagitious Crimes, since Uncha­ritableness will damn us, though we were guilty (if that were possible) of no other sin.

And there is great reason to enforce this Duty on us, because few Men have so great a sense of the Necessity and Obli­gations of Charity, as they have of Moral Honesty and Justice. All Mankind have a natural sense of the great evil of Rapine, and Injustice, and Murder; to defraud Men of their Estates, or to take them by force and violence, to oppress the Poor, the Fatherless, and the Widow, or to mur­der the Innocent; their Consciences ter­rifie and scare them with such guilt; but they have but little sense of the Obligati­ons to Charity, and of the great sin and danger of Uncharitableness; they can see Men hungry, and thirsty, and naked, and sick, and in prison, without ministring to them; and though they will acknowledge such Acts of Charity to be very good and commendable, yet charge themselves with no guilt for neglecting them: but if none shall be saved at the last Day, but the [Page 483] kind and the charitable; if we shall be condemned at the last Day, to that ever­lasting Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels, for doing no good, though we should do no other evil, as we certainly shall, if our Saviour gives us a true Ac­count of the Process of the last Judgment; this, if any thing will make Men sensible, how necessary it is to do all the Good they can, as necessary as it is to go to Heaven; that they may as safely, with respect to another World, rob and steal, and cheat, and oppress, as not relieve the Wants of the Poor, as far as Christian Prudence and Charity directs; for they shall be damned for this, as well as for the great­est Injustice.

2dly, Our Saviour hereby signifies, that this Divine Charity is the perfection of all other Christian Graces and Vertues, and comprehends them all; for it is certain, that no Man shall be saved without an U­niversal Righteousness, and yet our Savi­our enquires only after Charity, as the only mark and criterion of an Universal Righteousness; for where that is in since­rity, there is a combination of all other Graces. Our Saviour tells us, That the Love of GOD and Men, is the Summ of [Page 484] the whole Law and the Prophets, 22 Mat. 36, 37, 38, 39, 40. And St. Paul tells us, He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law—Love worketh no ill to his neigh­bour, therefore love is the fulfilling of the law, 13 Rom. 8, 9, 10.

He that loves his Neighbour, will do him no hurt, but will do him all the good he can. And this Divine Love of Men, results from the Love of GOD, whose Creatures they are, and whose Image they bear, and therefore includes the Love of GOD as its cause; for there is no other Principle of Universal Love and Charity, though of particular Friendships there is: And therefore St. Iohn makes this the Tri­al of our Love to God: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen: and this command­ment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also, 1 John 4.20, 21. Thus much is certain from this Text, that no Man loves God, who does not love his Brother; and I believe, there ne­ver was an instance of true Universal Cha­rity without the Love of God: but not to make a dispute of that (since Humanity, and Greatness, and Generosity of Mind [Page 485] will in some Men, very nearly resemble, and counterseit an Universal Charity) the Charity our Saviour speaks of, is this Di­vine Charity, which flows from the Love of God and Christ, when we love Men for God's sake, and Christians as the Mem­bers, and the Brethren of Christ; and therefore he accounts all the kindness shewn to them for his sake, as done to himself: Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

This Divine Charity contains the Ex­ercise of all other Christian Graces, where this is, no other Grace is wanting; it is the universal Habit of Grace, the very Na­ture of God, for God is Love, and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him, 1 Iohn 4.7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

But on the other hand, an uncharitable Man can have no good in him, and he has the Seeds and Principles of all Evil. Uncharitableness is owing to Self-love, and to the love of this World; and where these two are, there can be no good, but there may be all the wickedness that hu­man Nature is capable of.

So that this brings the matter to a short issue at the Day of Judgment, as our Sa­viour [Page 486] has here represented it: In order to our final Doom and Sentence, there needs but this one enquiry, whether we were charitable, or uncharitable; for a Man who is possessed with this true Divine Charity, has all Christian Graces. A Man who has not this divine Principle, has no good in him, and that is enough to damn him, without enquiring what e­vil he has done.

It concerns us all seriously to consider this; for if all uncharitable Men shall cer­tainly be damned, Charity is the only cer­tain mark, whereby we can judge of our future state; whatever other good quali­ties we seem to have, if we be not chari­table, there is nothing good in us, nothing that God will accept or reward; we shall be condemned to the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels, with all our other glittering and counterfeit Vertues; but if to our other Vertues we add an universal Charity, we may then joyfully and se­curely expect to hear from our Lord, when he comes to Judgment, Come ye bles­sed of my Father inherit the kingdom pre­pared for you from the foundation of the world. I say, if to our other Vertues we add Charity: for if we live in any wilful sin, how liberal and bountiful soever we [Page 487] are to the Poor, this is not Charity. St. Paul supposes, That Men may give their bodies to be burnt, and all their goods to feed the Poor, without charity, 1 Cor. 13.4. And though our Saviour only menti­ons the external Acts of Charity, in feed­ing the hungry, and clothing the naked, and visiting the sick, and the prisoners, because he will not allow of the pretence of Charity, without charitable Actions, yet he supposes, that these charitable A­ctions flow from a true Principle of Di­vine Charity, from the love of God and Men; which it is certain those Men have not, who allow themselves in any wicked­ness. And therefore the plain state of the Case is this: whatever other Vertues we pretend to without Charity, will avail us nothing at the Day of Judgment; for the uncharitable Man shall certainly be con­demned, though he were guilty of no o­ther Crime; that how charitable soever we are to the Poor in all the external acts and expressions of Charity, this will avail us nothing, unless we discharge all the other Duties and Offices of Religion; because where there is not an universal regard to the Divine Laws, there are cha­ritable Actions without this Divine Princi­ple of Charity; but when Men have a [Page 488] respect to all the Laws of God, and exer­cise themselves in all the Acts of Kindness and Charity to Men, they unite the Prin­ciple and the Practise, and have that Di­vine Charity, which our Lord will re­ward with the Kingdom of Heaven.

3dly, This is a manifest proof, that the Rewards of good Men at the day of Judg­ment, are wholly owing to the Grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, which confirms what I have already discoursed, that we are judged by Grace, as well as by our Works.

Christ has made atonement and expia­tion for our sins; he has reconciled us to God by his Death, and that puts us into a capacity of happiness; but the reason our Saviour gives, why he adjudges good Men to the Kingdom of Heaven, proves, that the Reward is of Grace, not of Debt. The only reason he assigns, is the kindness they have shewn to himself: When I was an hungred, ye fed me; when I was thir­sty, ye gave me drink; when I was naked, ye clothed me; when I was sick, ye visited me; when I was in prison, ye came unto me.

[Page 489]1. Now in the first place, it is great Kindness and Grace to Mankind, that he should reckon all Acts of Kindness done to Men, done to himself. That Glorious Being, who needs nothing, that we can do for him; from whom we receive the very power and ability of doing any kind­ness; and yet, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

2dly, And therefore he bestows Hea­ven upon them, as a Reward of their kindness to himself; now we all know the difference between rewarding Kindnesses, and paying Debts, or rewarding Men ac­cording to their Deserts.

In rewarding Kindnesses, we reward their Love, not their Works; we don't consider what the actual Service was, whe­ther small or great, but what the kindness and affection was, that did it: if the kind­ness and affection was great, which would have done greater things, if it could, the affection is valued and rewarded, though not the work, as our Saviour tells us, That whoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water, only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he [Page 490] shall in no wise lose his reward, 10 Mat. 42. And the Apostle tells us, That where there is a willing mind, it is accepted accor­ding to what a man hath, not according to what he hath not. 2 Cor. 8.12. But still it is Grace which values and rewards the affection, which is not considered at all in making a Bargain, which is so much work, for so much pay.

And therefore in rewarding kindnesses, we have no regard to proportions, as we have in paying Debts, or rewarding Ser­vices. If we pay, what we owe, that is all, that Justice requires; if we pay a La­bourer according to our Contract with him, or according to the common esti­mation of his Labour, this is all that is expected; but there is no Rule, no Pro­portion in rewarding Kindnesses; where Men do not traffick for Kindnesses (which is thought the most sordid Spirit in the World) the least external expression of kindness we can shew, may have the great­est return, and no Man blames prodiga­lity, or excess in such returns.

And thus it is here, our Saviour re­wards our Kindness, not our Work, and that makes such a vast disproportion be­tween the Work and the Reward; be­tween some few Acts of kindness done to [Page 491] Men, and the Eternal Glories of the King­dom of God. No Works we can do, can deserve such a Reward; but when Christ rewards our Kindness, not our Works, the Reward must bear proportion to his own Grace, not to our Deserts; he may re­ward as liberally as he pleases, for when the Reward is of Grace, not of Debt, no Reward can be too great for infinite Grace to bestow, though it may be too great for our Works to deserve.

But this still convinces us, that Hea­ven cannot be the Merit of our Works, but the Reward of our Charity; Works have a stinted Merit, and the best Actions we can do, cannot merit Heaven, but Grace may reward Charity as it pleases, and no­thing but Charity has any Title to the Rewards of Grace; which justifies our Sa­viour's account of the Future Judgment, which assigns no other reason of bestow­ing Heaven upon good Men, but only their Charity; for Works bear no pro­portion to such a Reward, and Grace can reward nothing but Charity; all our Acts of Kindness to Men, out of Love to God, and our Saviour Christ. All the expres­sions of our Love to God, and our Savi­our Christ, may be rewarded by Grace, as we reward the Kindnesses which are [Page 492] shewn to us, without regard to the Merit of the Work, but we must do something to reconcile the Love and Favour of God to us, before we can expect the Rewards of Grace; and there is no other way, if I may so speak, of obliging God, but by doing good to Men for God's sake. This I take to be a very reasonable account of the great Rewards of good Men, so vastly disproportioned to their Works, and very agreeable to our Saviour's Account of the Future Judgment, that God rewards our Love and Charity, not our Works, which makes the Reward not of Debt, but of Grace, which has no proportion but what Grace, the infinite Love and Goodness of GOD will give it, which lays all manner of Obligations on us to be very charitable, for if we would be rewarded by Grace; if we would be rewarded for Kindnesses, we must shew kindness.

4thly, Our Saviour's Account of the Future Judgment with reference to the fi­nal Sentence of uncharitable Men, justifies the Righteousness of it to all Mankind. For how can Sinners be saved, but by Grace? And what Title have those to Grace and Mercy, who will shew none?

[Page 493]Is there any thing in the World more hateful to Mankind, or which all Men think more deserves punishment, than Ill-Nature? And if God damn Men only for their Ill-nature, will not all Mankind ju­stifie the Righteousness of his Judgments? Will such Men find any Apologists? Nay, can they Apologize for themselves? And what is Uncharitableness but Ill-nature? What Cruelty and Barbarity is it to see Men want Food and Cloths, and all the Necessaries of Life, (when we are satis­ed their Wants are real, not counterfeit, not to indulge their Idleness and Luxury) and not relieve them? If nothing but Ill-nature shall be damned, nothing but Ill-nature can complain of God; and there is no scandal in that.

But we must consider Mankind as Sin­ners, obnoxious to the Judgments of God, who must be pardoned, before they are rewarded; now when both the Pardon and the Reward is wholly of Grace and Mercy, has that Man any Title to either, who will shew no Mercy? Is it reasonable to expect, that God in meer grace and kindness should bestow Heaven upon that Man, who will not give a Morsel of Bread, nor a Cup of Drink to the Poor and Necessitous for God's sake? Do Men [Page 494] deal thus with one another? Do we think, that Man deserves any kindness, who will shew none? That he should be fed and clothed, when he is in want, who would never feed and cloath others? That he should be forgiven, who would never for­give?

Unless Sinners be saved by Grace, they can never be saved; for it is Grace must forgive those sins, which Justice would pu­nish. It is Grace which must bestow Hea­ven on us, which is a Reward too big for our best Works to deserve, and therefore too big for Justice to give. If our sins be not pardoned, we must sink into Hell, and if we have no Title to the Grace of God, which alone can forgive sins, they can ne­ver be pardoned; and this gives a plain account, how Uncharitableness must ne­cessarily damn us; for an uncharitable Man has no Right to the Grace of God; Innocence may challenge Impunity, and Meritorious Works may challenge a Re­ward, but nothing but Kindness can chal­lenge Kindness; and as a Sinner cannot merit Heaven, so an unmerciful and un­charitable Man does not deserve to have it given him; and if Heaven be not given him, he can never have it; if his Sins be not pardoned by Grace, Justice must lay [Page 495] hold on him, and sentence him to ever­lasting Fire prepared for the Devil and Angels.

This is agreeable to the Reason of Man­kind, it is what all Men approve, what all Men justifie; when it shall appear at the last Day, that though other sins have deserved Hell, yet it is only our unchari­tableness, that hinders our Pardon, and brings the Sentence of Condemnation on us, all Mouths will be stopped before God, Sinners themselves must confess the Righ­teousness of it; their own Consciences must tell them, that they have deserved no Mercy, because they have shewn none; and therefore we find in the account our Saviour gives us of it, that when he condemned these uncharitable Men to Hell, they made no exception against the Righte­ousness of the Sentence, but only deny the Fact. Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Though Mer­cy and Compassion, and Forgiveness be­comes the God of Love, yet it does not unbecome Love itself, infinite Love, to condemn Ill-nature to everlasting Fire; and there is nothing else, which eternal and infinite Love will finally condemn and punish.

[Page 496]And this gives a plain account, why Forgiveness of Sins is promised to no o­ther particular Grace and Vertue, but to Mercy and Charity: Blessed are the mer­ciful, for they shall obtain mercy, 5 Mat. 7. And the Psalmist tells us, That with the merciful, God will shew himself merciful, but with the froward he will shew himself fro­ward, 18 Psal. 25, 26. Our Saviour has taught us to pray for forgiveness, upon the condition of our forgiving those, who tre­spass against us; For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will for­give you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses, 6 Mat. 14.15. Which our Saviour represents at large in the Pa­rable of the King, who called his Servants to an account, and finding one, who ought him Ten thousand Talents, and had no­thing to pay, he commands him, and his Wife and Children to be sold, and pay­ment to be made; but upon his earnest importunity forgave him the Debt; this Servant meets his Fellow-Servant, who ought him an Hundred Pence, and cast him into Prison, which his Lord hearing of revokes his Pardon, and delivers him to the Tormentors, till he should pay all that was undue to him. So likewise, saith our [Page 497] Saviour, shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses, 18 Mat. 23. &c. Thus St. Peter tells us, That Charity, all Acts of kindness shewn to Men, covereth a multitude of sins, 1 Pet. 4.8. And the Prophet Daniel advises Ne­buchadnezzar, to break off his sins by righte­ousness, and his iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor. Heaven itself is promised to Acts of Charity: Give, and it shall be gi­ven unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom: for with the same measure that ye meet withal, it shall be measured unto you again, 6 Luke 38. which plainly signifies the Rewards of the next Life. This is to lay up treasures in heaven, 6 Mat. 20. To make to our selves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when we fail, they may receive us into everlasting habitations, 16 Luke 9. As our Saviour tells the rich young Man, If he would sell all he had, and give to the poor, he should have Treasure in Hea­ven, 19 Mat. 21. What is the meaning of this? Does the Gospel preach Merit to us, must we merit forgiveness by forgi­ving? must we purchase Heaven with our Money? Every body sees, that this can [Page 498] be no Purchase, because there is no Pro­portion in the value: but though Charity cannot merit our Pardon, yet it deserves some favour to be shewn it, and God will be merciful to those, who shew mercy; though our Alms and Works of Charity cannot merit Heaven, yet they make us Friends, as our Saviour speaks, and such Friends, as will receive us into Everlasting Habitations. They will make God and Christ our Friend, who will bestow Hea­ven on us, not as the Merit of our Works, but out of Grace and Favour, which such Acts of Charity deserve.

This is a plain account, why our Savi­our in the last Judgment takes notice of no other Works, but Acts of Charity, and shews us, how we may be judged by our Works, and pardoned and rewarded by Grace; and if this will not convince us of the necessity of Charity, it is in vain to urge any other Arguments.

2dly, Another Rule, and that a very righteous Rule of Judgment, is, that God will judge us according to our Receipts, as our Saviour expresly tells us: To whom­soever much is given, of them shall much be required; and to whom men have com­mitted much, of him they will ask the [Page 499] more, 12 Luke 48. As for the righteous­ness and equity of this our Saviour's Ap­peals to the Practice of Mankind; they think it very reasonable to ask the more of him, to whom they have committed much. And we have no reason to complain of God, if he deals with us, as we think it just and reasonable to deal with one ano­ther.

There is no need to prove the righte­ousness of this Rule, which all Men own and confess; but the consequence of it de­serves to be considered by Christians, who have received so much more from God, than the rest of Mankind have done; for by this Rule at the Day of Judgment more will be required of us, than of the rest of the World, as we have received more.

Very few Christians seem to think of this: they pity the rest of the World, who, they say, are under the Law, and a Covenant of Works, by which no Man can be justified who is a Sinner, as all Men are, and therefore their Salvation is despe­rate; but a little matter will save a Chri­stian, if he be a true Believer; if they are but sorry for their sins, and confess and bewail them before God, as often as they commit them, and trust in the Merits [Page 500] and Righteousness of Christ; nay, if they do but retract their wicked Lives with some dying Groans and Resolutions of li­ving well, when they know, they can live no longer; if they wish, they had lived better, when they come to die, and pro­mise, that they would live better, if they could live over their Lives again, this will secure their Salvation; and this is the glo­rious Priviledge they enjoy by being Chri­stians, this is Gospel-Grace, this is the Pur­chase of Christ's Blood.

But not to enter into this Dispute, which I have said enough of already, certainly these Men are mistaken, and these vain hopes will deceive them, if our Saviour's Rule be true, That to whom much is given; of them shall be much required: For has not God given more to us, than he has to the rest of the World? And is that a rea­son, why he should ask less? Let us briefly consider what God has done more for us, than he has done for the rest of the World, and see, whether what God has done more for us, does excuse us from any part of our Duty; or rather whether it does not exact a more perfect Vertue from us.

The Gospel of Christ has given us a more perfect knowledge of the Will of God, and of our Duty to him; nay, has [Page 501] given us a more perfect Law and Rule of Life, has in many instances advanced our Duty above what the Law of Nature, or the Law of Moses required, at least above what the generality of Men thought they did require: Now is this a reason, why God should excuse us from doing our Du­ty, because we know it better than other Men? Or why God should expect less from us than from other Men, because we know more? This is directly contrary to what our Saviour tells us: That servant which knew his Lord's will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes: but he that knew not, and did things wor­thy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes, 12 Luke 47, 48. This seems a hard saying, that he which knew not, should be beaten at all; but our Saviour does not by this understand a total ignorance, but an imperfect knowledge, which will ex­cuse Men from such parts of their Duty as they were ignorant of, if this ignorance was not their own fault; but the more we know, the more is our Duty enlarged, and therefore as our Knowledge increases; our Account must encrease with it, and that will increase our punishment, if we know the Will of God, and disobey it. [Page 502] Is there any use of Knowledge, but to di­rect our Lives? And could God then in­tend any thing in revealing his Will to us, but that we should obey it? The Jews had these vain Conceits; they boasted in Circumcision, and in their Knowledge of the Law, and condemned the Heathen World for those sins, which they themselves se­curely committed; as if they should be sa­ved in their sins, because they knew the Law, which forbids them; but the igno­rant Heathens should be damned for theirs. But St. Paul very sharply and sarcastically exposes the folly of this in the Second Chapter to the Romans, throughout the whole Chapter, which I would desire you seriously to read and consider, and then I need add no more about it.

The Gospel gives us a more abundant assurance of a future State, and of the Re­wards and Punishments of it, than the World had before; for life and immorta­lity is brought to light by the Gospel; and the more certain our Faith and Knowledge is of another World, in all reason it may be expected to work more powerfully up­on our Minds, to conquer all the Tempta­tions of this Life, to terrifie us from eve­ry thing that is wicked; to make us stead­fast, unmovable, always abounding in the [Page 503] work of the Lord, as knowing that our la­bour shall not be in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. 15.58. The certainty of Faith is the strength and vigour of the Mind, and therefore every new degree of evidence requires proportionable degrees of resolu­tion, activity, caution, and circumspe­ction in doing our Duty; and as this is reasonable to be expected, so God does expect it from us. The times of ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent; because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by that man, whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assu­rance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead, 17 Acts 30, 31. While Men were ignorant of the other World, or had only some uncertain Reports of it, mixed with fabulous Stories to increase and nourish Superstition, their wickedness was very pitiable, and shall meet with a more favourable Judgment: but we can now pretend Ignorance no longer, and therefore now God commands us to re­pent. Upon this Principle it is, that our Saviour upbraided those cities, wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee Chorazin, woe unto thee Bethsaida; for if the mighty [Page 504] works, which have been done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon▪ they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes: but I say unto you, it shall be more tolera­ble for Tyre and Sidon in the day of Iudg­ment than for you: And thou Capernaum, who art exalted unto heaven shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day: but I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee, 11 Mat. 20, 21, 22, 23. Those mighty Works our Savi­our wrought in these Cities, were such powerful Convictions, as rendred their Infidelity inexcusable, and that aggrava­ted their Condemnation. And for the same reason our Saviour threatens that unbelieving Generation, who saw all his mighty Works, and heard his admirable Wisdom, which was so much beyond what­ever was seen or heard before. The men of Niniveh shall rise in judgment against this generation, and shall condemn it; be­cause they repented at the preaching of Io­nas; and behold a greater than Ionas is here. The Queen of the South shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it; for she came from the ut­termost [Page 505] parts of the earth, to hear the wis­dom of Solomon; and behold a greater than Solomon is here, 12 Luke 41, 42. The greater the Preacher is, the greater Works he does, and the greater Evidence he gives of his Divine Authority, still the guilt and condemnation proportionably increases: and then the Infidelity of those who live in a Christian Nation, and the Wickedness of professed Believers, who have so much greater certainty of the Re­wards and Punishments of the next World, than either Chorazin, or Bethsaida, or Capernaum, then had, exceeds them all, and their Punishments will proportiona­bly exceed.

Thus the Gospel has fully acquainted us with the whole Dispensation of Grace in the Redemption of the World by our Lord Jesus Christ: That God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life, 3 John 16. That Christ gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purifie to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, 2 Tit. 14. That he has made atone­ment for our sins by his Blood: That herein God hath commended his love to­wards us, that while we were yet sinners, [Page 506] Christ died for us; that when we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, 5 Rom. 8.10. And we know the grace of our Lord Iesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; that we through his pover­ty might be rich, 2 Cor. 8, 9.

Here is a new Scene of Grace and Love opened, which the World was un­acquainted with before, which presents us with new Arguments, and lays new Obli­gations on us to serve God; Arguments and Obligations so endearing, so power­ful, that one would think Human Nature could not resist them, could not get loose from them. If we will not reverence the Authority of God, yet how can we resist his Love? If it be not enough to entitle God to our Service, that he made us, shall we deny his Purchase too? When he has bought us with a price, the inestima­ble Blood of his own Son? Ought not the love of Christ to constrain us? 2 Cor. 5.14. Could he do any thing more for us, than redeem us from Death and Hell? Could he redeem us at a dearer rate, than with his own Blood? When he could get nothing by it, but the pleasure and satisfaction of making us happy, and the glory of being the Sa­viour of Sinners? It is a reproach to Hu­mane [Page 507] Nature, to think that such Love as this, should not convert the World, and subdue Mankind to the Obedience of God. It is plain, this gives God a greater Right to us than meer Creation, and therefore gives every sin of Christians a double guilt; if Heathens sinned against their Maker, Christians sin against their Maker and their Saviour too. And to sin against Love, against suffering, redeeming, for­giving, saving Love, is a very different thing from sinning against Authority. We may call it folly, or madness to diso­bey our Soveraign Lord, who can, and will punish our Disobedience; but to abuse, to affront, to grieve Love, is not the sin of Men, though too many Men are guilty of it, but of a diabolical Nature. I have nothing to say of it, but that it is the greatest provocation in the World, and all Men think so; and thus much worse the sins of Christians are, than the sins of Heathens.

But the Love of God, and the Grace of Christ are not the only motives and argu­ments▪ which our Redemption by the Death of Christ furnishes us with, but there are a great many other, and such powerful ones, as must greatly aggravate our guilt to sin against them.

[Page 508]There is not a greater preservation a­gainst sin, than to have a just sense of the Evil of it, and a thorough Conviction of God's irreconcileable hatred and displea­sure against it, and that he will certainly punish it. Now indeed Nature does in some measure teach this; the Reason of Mankind condemns it, Modesty pre­serves us from some sins, Natural Aversi­ons from others, till both the Modesty and Aversions of Nature are conquered by a Custom of sinning: but then on the o­ther hand, the inclinations of Flesh and Blood very strongly tempt us to some sins, which are very grateful to Flesh and Blood, and to other sins to gain opportu­nities to gratifie those incl [...]ations; and when Men taste the sweets of sin, and find the present advantages of it, this bribes their Reason to speak more favourably of it, and to attribute the shame and aver­sions of Nature to Education, and Popular mistakes.

Thus though men have a natural Sense of God's displeasure against sin, and natu­ral Conscience threatens the Judgments of God against sinners, yet the experience of the World tells us, that most Men flatter themselves, that God may be appeased and reconciled to them without forsaking their [Page 509] sins; not only the Heathens but even Iews themselves thought this might be done by their sacrifices, and the other external rites and ceremonies of their Religion, as appears from the frequent complaints of the Prophets about this matter: And though it cannot be denyed, but that ma­ny Christians deceive themselves with the same vain hopes, yet this is much more unpardonable in them, because God has given a more undeniable proof of the evil of Sin, and his irrecoverable displeasure against it, then either Iews or Heathens had. For can there be a more certain evi­dence of the evil of Sin, than the Death of Christ? He dyed for Sin, and as the A­postle speaks, condemned sin in the flesh. 8 Rom. 3. Not only condemned Sin by his excellent Sermons, wise Exhortations, sharp Reproofs, and terrible Threatnings, while he lived in the Flesh, but by dying in the Flesh, by offering up his Body a Sacrifice for Sin. Whatever Christ suffer­ed was not upon his own Personal account, but for Sin, and therefore what he suffer­ed was the just demerit of Sin, or else he ought not to have suffered it: in him God shews us, what our Sins deserve; Infamy, Reproach, and utmost Scorn and Con­tempt, the Agonies of the Mind, the Pain [Page 510] and Torments of the Body, and Death it self: it was Sin, that was Crucified, that was exposed to all this Shame and Suffer­ing in the Person of our Saviour; and therefore in his Sufferings, we have a lively Image of the Evil and Deserts of Sin: which is a more convincing and sa­tisfactory Evidence, then the fine and sub­tile Reasonings of Philosophy, which some Men cannot understand, and which none but purified Minds can feel.

And though God declared his great love to Sinners in giving his own Son to dye for them, yet hereby also he expres­sed his irreconcileable hatred against Sin▪ Sinners may be reconciled to God by the Death of Christ, but Sin never can; that is Condemned, is Crucified in the Death of Christ. Christ expiated Sin, and re­conciles Sinners, by killing and destroy­ing Sin, by putting it to shame, and Death upon his own Cross: And this is the Me­thod of our reconciliation to God in Con­formity to the Death of Christ; we must be crucified with Christ, must be planted into the likeness of his Death; that is, we must crucifie Sin in us, we must crucifie the flesh with its affections and lusts; we must die to sin, the body of sin must be destroyed, that we may no longer serve sin; for he that [Page 511] is dead, is freed from sin: as St. Paul Argues, 6 Rom. and in several other pla­ces.

And do we need any other proof of God's hatred of Sin, than that he gave his own Son to be a Sacrifice for Sin: that Christ could not expiate our Sins without undergoing that Infamy, and Scorn, and Pain, and Death, which is the desert of Sin; that the Death and Destruction of Sin is represented in that very Sacrifice, which expiates our Sins, and must be act­ed over again in us, in the real Crucifixi­on and Death of Sin, before we can have any Interest in the Expiation of Christ's Death: And can there be a more pow­erful Disswasive from Sin than this?

Thus it is a mighty encouragement to Repent of our Sins and forsake them, to be assured of Pardon and Forgiveness, if we do: Now whatever Reasons Iews and Heathens had to hope for Pardon upon their Repentance, it is certain they had not that assurance, which the Death and Sacrifice of Christ gives us. We have now an express Covenant of Grace and Pardon sealed with the Blood of Christ, who is that lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world; and God cannot condemn re­penting Sinners, without denying the pur­chase [Page 512] of Christ's Blood, that precious Blood of infinite Price and Value; that Blood, which our great High Priest hath carried into the Holy of Holies, and which there pleads the Pardon of penitent Sinners at the Throne of Grace. God cannot deny himself, cannot deny his own Covenant, cannot deny his Sons Blood, which speak­eth better things then the blood of Abel, cannot deny our great High Priest, who appeareth in the presence of God for us, who died for us, and now liveth for ever to make intercession for us: and he who wants greater security than this, must tell us what greater security Sinners can have, then the Oath and Covenant of God, and the Blood and Intercession of Christ.

When I consider this matter, with what infinite Wisdom God has contrived the Redemption of Sinners, to cure the dege­neracy of our Natures, and to raise us to a perfect Vertue, to bind us faster to him­self in those soft and charming Fetters of Love, to spur us forward with all the Zeal and Impetus that Hope, and Fear, and Indignation, and Love, the Passions and Paroxysmes of a divine inflamed Love, can give us, it amazes me to think, that any Christians should flatter themselves, that Faith in Christ will save them [Page 513] without Works, that there is less need for them to be so exact and circumspect in their Lives, that sin is not so damning a thing now, since Christ has made atone­ment for it, and reconciled God to Sin­ners, as it was before: Had they no Savi­our indeed, it would concern them to be very good, when they must merit for themselves; had they not such a merito­rious Sacrifice for Sin, and such a power­ful High-Priest, it would be a very dan­gerous thing to commit sin; but now Christ has Righteousness and Merit e­nough for us all, and we need none of our own, nothing but Faith to apply his Righte­ousness to us; Christ has pulled out the Sting of Sin, that it cannot greatly hurt, it cannot kill a Believer; though it may slightly wound him a [...], and draw some Tears of Repentance from him; and that heals all again.

This, if any thing in the World, is to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, to be wicked, because God is good, to sin, because grace does abound, whose damnation is just.

I beseech you, for the love of Christ, and for the Honour of his Undertaking, of his Death and Intercession for us, to con­sider this a little better. Consider what [Page 514] the Gospel teaches us to believe of Christ, and how absurd and contradictious it is to say, that such a Faith will save us without holiness and purity of heart and life. Do you not believe, That Christ gave him­self for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purifie to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, 2 Titus 14. And is it reasonable to think, that our believing this, will save us, unless we be redeemed from all iniquity, unless we be purified, unless we be a people zealous of good works? If Christ saves those, who are not redeem­ed from all iniquity, who are not purified, who are not zealous of good works, it is certain, he must save those for whom he did not give himself, or must save them contrary to his own intention of giving himself for them; but however, to believe that Christ gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, does not seem to be such a Faith, (if our Faith be true) as will justifie us without being redeemed from all iniquity.

I shall add but one thing more, wherein Christians have a great advantage of Jews and Heathens, and have received more from God, than they; I mean, the plen­tiful Effusions of the Holy Spirit on the Christian Church. I dare not say, that [Page 515] Heathens themselves wanted all internal assistances to Vertue; for I can by no means perswade myself, that God who is an infinite Spirit, should for so many Ages together, have no commerce with Mens Minds and Spirits; that he who governs the inanimate World, who steers the Mo­tions of the Heavens, and keeps Nature in its regular course, should wholly neglect the Rational World, and the Moral Springs of Action, should not influence the Thoughts and Passions of Men, should not lay invisible Chains on their Lusts, nor inspire them with great and vertuous De­signs; especially since he is a great Lover of Vertue, and abhors Vice, and knows the corruption and wickedness of Humane Nature, without some restraints; and its weakness and indisposition to Vertue, with­out Divine impulses.Nimquam vir magnus sine Divino afflatu. I am sure Heathens themselves called Vertue the Gift of God, and ascribed all extraordinary Excellen­cies and Perfections of Men, to the se­cret Influences and Assistance of their Gods.

The Jews had these internal assistances to illuminate their Minds, to influence their Wills, to direct their Choice, to give warmth and vigour to their Affe­ctions; as is plain from the Psalms of Da­vid, [Page 516] wherein there are many Prayers to this purpose, which prove what his be­lief was; for had he not known, that the Divine Spirit did use to assist good Men, he would not have prayed for such assist­ance; and yet this he frequently does: O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes. 119 Psalm 5, 10, 14, 18, 19, 27, 28, 34, 35, 36, 37. With my whole heart have I sought thee, O let me not wander from thy commandments. Blessed art thou O Lord, O teach me thy statutes. Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. I am a stranger upon earth, hide not thy commandments from me. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts. —Strengthen thou me, according to thy word. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy precepts. —Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law. —Incline my heart un­to thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn thou mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken me in thy way. And in his Penetential Psalm he prays: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me: 51 Psal. 10, 12. restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free spirit.

But as devout Men among the Jews had a greater Portion of the Holy Spirit, than the Heathens had, so there was still [Page 517] a more plentiful effusion of the Holy Spi­rit on the Christian Church, not only in those miraculous Gifts and Powers, which were bestowed upon the Apostolick Age, and continued in some measure in After-Ages, till Christianity was well planted in the World, but as to the renewing and sanctifying Influences of the Holy Spirit. We are now born not only of Water, but of the Spirit, in Baptism, 3 Iohn. 5. And by one spirit we are all baptized into one body—And have been all made to drink into one spirit, 1 Cor. 12.13. So that at Baptism we are born of the Spirit, which signifies that the Holy Spirit gives Life, and is a new principle of Life to us; in the Lord's Supper we drink into one spirit; which signifies the fresh supplies and com­munications of Grace, as we daily receive new supplies of Spirits from our natural Meat and Drink: and I know not, how we should have the Spirit in a more per­fect manner, than as a constant Principle of Spiritual Life.

But it is not my business to prove, what all Orthodox Christians own; that the Holy Spirit is more plentifully bestowed upon the Christian Church, than ever it was upon Jews or Heathens, which makes our Obedience to the Divine Laws more [Page 518] easie by encreasing our strength, and ex­acts from us more perfect Attainments, as we all expect more perfect Services from our Children, as their age and strength increases.

All this God has done more for us Chri­stians, than he has done for the rest of the World, and all this which he has done more for us, makes it our Duty to live better, and to do more Service for God than other Men, and that makes it very just for God to expect more from us, and proves that he does so, and then we should consider, what manner of persons we Chri­stians ought to be in all holy conversation and godliness. If Heathens shall be damned for their sins against the weak and glim­mering Light of Nature, and the feeble Convictions of a Natural Conscience, cor­rupted by Education, by Examples, by prevailing Customs, by the Cheats and Impostures of wicked Spirits, what shall the Condemnation of Christians be, who neglect so great salvation; who when light is come into the world, love darkness ra­ther than light, because their deeds are evil: who sin against the clear and bright Light of the Gospel, against the Love of GOD, against the Grace of CHRIST, against the powerful Re­straints [Page 519] and Assistances of the HOLY SPIRIT? If those that despised Moses law, died without mercy, under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punish­ment, suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath troden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the Co­venant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace, 10 Heb. 28, 29. Which is true, not only of final Aposta­sie, but of all wilful Disobedience. The Grace of the Gospel makes our Work ea­sie, but our Duty more, and the danger of a miscarriage greater. It does not re­quire unsinning Obedience, but it requires greater measures of Purity [...]nd Goodness, and Universal Righteousness, and has threatned an hotter Hell against wicked Christians.

Thus Christians will have a greater Account to give than Jews or Heathens, because they have received more; and as the Receipts of Christians are very une­qual, so their Accounts will proportio­nably differ. Some Christians have but One Talent, others Two, others Five, and as no Man shall account for more [Page 520] than he has received, so how much soe­ver we have received, we must account for it all. This needs no proof, and it has been sufficiently explained and appli­ed above.P. 415.

The CONCLUSION. How to know, what our Sentence will be at the last Iudgment: With an Exhor­tation to Reverence our own Consciences.

HAving thus largely discoursed con­cerning a Future Judgment, I need not mind you of what Concernment it is, to know what Sentence Christ will pass on us at that Day; whether Come ye blessed of my Father, or, Go ye cursed into everlasting fire. For if we must be hap­py or miserable for ever, how can we content our selves to live in doubt and suspence, which of these shall be our Por­tion? What a Hell is this to live in per­petual fear of Hell? How can we sleep without dreaming of Lakes of Fire and Brimstone, without the frightful Appari­tions of damned Spirits! what a transpor­ting foretast would it give us of the Joys of Heaven to read our Names written in the Book of Life! to see a Crown, a bright and glorious Crown prepared for us! But how shall we know this? Who shall search the Records of Heaven for us? The An­swer [Page 522] is plain, we need not ascend up in­to Heaven for it, we have the counter­part of those Records in our own breasts. For, as St. Iohn tells us, if our heart con­demn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things: beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confi­dence towards God, 1 John 3.20, 21. That is, if our Heart or Conscience condemn us, then God will condemn us, for he knows more of us than our own Consciences know, he knows us better than we know ourselves; and if we know so much wickedness by our selves, that we cannot but condemn our selves, (though every Man is a favourable Judge of himself) God, who knows a great deal more of us, must condemn us also: But if our Conscience condemn us not, if it acquit and absolve us, then have we confidence towards God, great and sure hopes in God's Mercy, that he will not condemn us: We cannot have the confi­dence of Innocent Men, because we have been Sinners; but we may have the hum­ble confidence and assured hopes of Re­turning and Repenting Prodigals, and of Dutiful and Obedient Children.

That this is so, the Apostle's Authority is sufficient to convince us; and yet if the Apostle had not said it, the Reason and [Page 523] Nature of the thing sufficiently proves it.

God has given us a certain Rule, where­by we shall be judged, which I have now explained to you: and therefore since God will Judge us by this Rule, if we also judge our selves by it, we may certainly know, what Judgment God will pass on us: for neither God, nor our own Con­sciences can mistake in their Judgment; and when the Rule is the same, and there can be no mistake on either side, the Judgment must necessarily be the same; and then the same Judgment our own Consciences make of us, God will make: If they condemn us, God will condemn us also; if they condemn us not, neither will God condemn us; then we shall have confidence towards God.

There needs no Proof of this, if you will but confess, that every Man knows himself, what his own Life and Actions are, and that God knows every Man bet­ter than he knows himself. If we know our selves, and know our Rule; if we know what we ought to do, and what we have done, we can certainly tell, whe­ther we h [...]ve done our Duty, or not: If our own Consciences condemn us, it is certain we have not done our Duty; that [Page 524] we either do what we know we ought not to do, or leave undone what we know we ought to do, for no Man in his wits will accuse himself wrongfully. Now if this be our case, our Consciences do very justly condemn us, and then God, who knows us as perfectly as our own Consciences must condemn us also: For a guilty Sin­ner, who is guilty to his own Conscience, can never escape the Condemnation of a Just and Righteous Judge, if he know his guilt.

Did earthly Princes or Judges as cer­tainly know the Crimes which every particular Man is guilty of, as God knows the sins of all Men, with all their parti­cular Circumstances and Aggravations, every Malefactor, who knows what Laws he has broken, and what is the Punish­ment of the breach of such Laws, might certainly know, what his Condemnation will be, if he meet with a Righteous Judge.

But earthly Judges do not always know mens personal Guilt, or want Evidence to prove it; and thus many Criminals, whose own Consciences con­demn them, may escape the Condemna­tion of Men; but God knows more of us than our own Consciences, and needs [Page 525] no other Evidence against us, but our own sciences, to condemn us. Earthly Judges are not always upright in their Judgment, fear or favour may pervert their Justice; but God is the Judge of all the World, and therefore Supream Rectitude and Ju­stice; that no Sinner can hope to escape his Justice, whose own Conscience con­demns him; for if God should not con­demn such Men, he would be less just than the Conscience of a Sinner.

But you'll say, the Mercy of God and the Merits of our Saviour may pardon a Sinner, whose Conscience condemns him, though Justice can't. I answer, No: If Conscience condemns according to the Rule of the Gospel, it condemns both for the Justice and for the Mercy of God; for the Gospel is the Gospel of Grace, and contains all the Mercy that God hath promised to Sinners, and if Conscience judging by this Rule condemns a Sinner, the Mercy of God will not save, to be sure Gospel-Grace and Mercy, his own Conscience being Witness, cannot save him; and therefore his Salvation is hope­less, while he continues in this state. No man's Conscience which is not disturbed, or misguided, of which more presently, will absolutely condemn him without some [Page 526] notorious and manifest guilt, and the Mercy of the Gospel cannot save such a Man. He must be conscious to himself, that he lives in the commission of some known Sin, or in the habitual neglect of some known Duties, without Repentance and Reformation, before he will peremp­torily condemn himself; and the Grace of the Gospel will not pardon wilful, im­penitent, unreformed Sinners.

Thus on the other hand; if our Con­sciences do not condemn us, then we have confidence towards God. If we have a con­science void of offence both towards God, and towards Man: If we have the testi­m [...]ny of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our con­versation in this world. If we serve God with such Zeal, and Vigour, and Activity, if we so abound in the work of the Lord, in all the Fruits of Righteousness, Good­ness, and Charity, that our own Con­sciences approve and commend us for it, this will give us a secure hope in God's Mercy, such a hope, as will not make us ashamed, as will not deceive us. Though we know nothing by our selves, as St. Paul speaks, yet are we not hereby justified, he that judgeth us is the Lord, 1 Cor. 4.4. In this case it is true also, that God is [Page 527] greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things, and therefore he may observe those defects and imperfections in us, which we do not observe in our selves, that the most innocent and vertuous Man dares not challenge Heaven as his Merit and Desert, but yet expects and hopes for a Reward from the Mercies of God, has confidence towards God.

A man's own Conscience cannot de­ceive him in this. Every Man must know, whether he carefully avoid all known and wilful sins, whether he discharge all the essential parts of his Duty to God and Men, especially when he does any emi­nent Services for God, and becomes an Example of Piety and Vertue. A Man, whose Conscience gives this Testimony to him, may securely hope and rejoyce in God; for whatever other defects the pure Eyes of God may see in him, they are all within the Grace and Mercy of the Gospel, and therefore cannot hinder ei­ther his Pardon or his Reward.

Thus we see, that when Conscience ab­solutely condemns, or when without any doubt or hesitancy it commends, acquits, and absolves, its Sentence is a Divine O­racle, and assures us what our Judgment shall be at the last Day, if we be then [Page 528] found in such a state: But there is a mid­dle state between these two, which de­serves to be considered: when Men are neither so wicked, as to be absolutely con­demned by their own Consciences, nor so good, as to be acquitted and absolved, which is an uncertain state between hope and fear. This is the case of those Men, who have been guilty of very great sins, which they had lived in many years; and though they are very sensible of their past wickedness, and heartily sorry for their sins, and seriously resolved by the Grace of God to forsake them; yet they are not satisfied of the sincerity of their Re­pentance, because they have not with all their Sorrow and Resolutions conquered their Inclinations to sin, nor broken the habits of it; but are guilty of frequent Relapses, and fall into the commission of the same sins again; and then repent and resolve again; and as time wears off their sorrow for their last Offence, their old in­clinations revive, and a new Temptation conquers again: Now such men's Consci­ences neither absolutely condemn, nor absolutely acquit them, for the Event is doubtful: they are not Conquerors yet, and it is uncertain, whether ever they will Conquer; and therefore their Consciences [Page 529] cannot yet speak Peace to them; and yet they are not perfect Slaves and Captives to Sin, but contend for their liberty, and therefore their Consciences do not abso­lutely condemn them; but as they pre­vail or yield, so their hopes or fears en­crease.

And this also is the case of those Men, who, if they commit no notorious wic­kedness, yet do very little good, nothing that their Consciences can commend them for: who worship God rather in com­pliance with the Custom of the Place they live in, than from a vital sence and reve­rence of God, and therefore are not for any Works of Supererogation: a little will content them, and they are glad of any excuse to lessen that little; and all Men, who pretend to greater Devotion, they suspect of Hypocrisie, and some Se­cular Interests.

As for Charity, though they must own Charity to be a Vertue, yet when any particular Act of Charity is pressed on them, they never want Arguments to prove, either that it is not Charity, or that they are not concerned in it; whate­ver kindnesses they do for others, are ex­torted by great importunity, and done very thriftily, just as Men do, what they [Page 530] have no mind, nor inclination [...]o? Now these Men commonly are pretty quiet and secure, unless something extraordinary awaken them; for they do nothing greatly to terrifie their Consciences, nor any thing to please them; and therefore their Con­sciences neither absolve nor condemn. Such Men don't well know what to think of themselves, nor do they much think of these matters: if they be gay, and in good humour, all is very well; if any cross accident disturbs them, and makes them thoughtful, and fall out with this World, or works upon a Melancholly Constitu­tion, then they are over-run with black and dismal Thoughts, and all the Mini­sters in the Neighbour-hood are sent for to answer Cases of Conscience, and to speak such Comfort to them, as their own Consciences cannot, and will not speak.

Now this case our Apostle took no no­tice of, for indeed nothing is to be said to it: such Men cannot know by the Judg­ment of their own Consciences; what Judg­ment God will pass on them, because their Consciences pass no certain Judgment on them: but when Conscience does give Judgment of us, when it absolutely acquits, or absolutely condemns us, we may de­pend [Page 431] on it, that God will judge us, as our Consciences do.

There are some Objections against this, which are easily answered from that plain state of the case, which I have now given. As to name some:

There are a great many very bad Men, who go on in their sins without any checks and rebukes of their own Consciences, much more without being condemned by them; and will not God condemn these Men, because their own Consciences do not condemn them? Yes, no doubt but he will; for he will condemn all bad Men, whether their own Consciences at present condemn them or not. But by not condemning the Apostle means, acquit­ting and absolving; which these Mens Consciences do not: though they do not condemn, they do not commend, nor ab­solve neither; that is, they pass no Judg­ment at all, but are seared, and stupified by Atheism, or a long Custom in sinning. When Conscience does judge, and does not condemn, God will not condemn nei­ther; but there is a great difference be­tween not judging, and not condemning, and therefore notwithstanding what the Apostle says, God may condemn, when Conscience does not judge, though he will [Page 532] not condemn, when a judging Conscience does not condemn. And the difference between these two; between not judging, and not condemning, is very evident; for it is often seen, that Men whose Con­sciences have given them no disturbance for many years, in a course of sin; that is, have never judged them; yet when­ever their Consciences are awakened, (as they are sometimes by severe Providences, or at least by the approach of Death) then they condemn them, and fill them with Terrour and Amazement.

There are other bad Men, who do ve­ry wicked things, and yet their Consci­ences are so far from condemning them, that they commend and applaud them. Nay, we know there have been those, whose Consciences have indulged them in all manner of wickedness, and flatter'd them into an Opinion of their being great Saints, and dear to God all the while: and will not God condemn these Men, be­cause their Consciences do not condemn them; but promise them, not only Im­punity, but great Rewards?

Thus on the other hand, many very good Men, who to all appearance have lived very innocent and vertuous Lives, fall under great Disorders of Mind; and [Page 533] not only condemn, but pass a final irre­versible Sentence upon themselves; that they are not only at present in a state of Damnation, but that it is impossible for them ever to get out of it, and that they must be certainly damned: now will God condemn these good Men, because their Consciences condemn them?

I have put these two Cases together, because the same Answer will serve both. This is not the Judgment of Conscience, which St. Iohn speaks of, but the Judg­ment of Opinion, and mistaken Notions in Religion, or of Melancholly, and a di­stempered fancy.

The Judgment of Conscience is that Judgment which we pass on our selves, from comparing our Lives with the Rule whereby we shall be judged; and this Judgment cannot deceive us; for if we judge of our selves by the same Rule, by which God will judge us; eve­ry Man knows himself so well, that he cannot mistake; and when GOD and Conscience judge by the same Rule, their Judgment must be the same: but if we will alter our Rule of Judging; if Conscience judge by one Rule, and God by another, then there is no won­der, if their Judgments differ; if GOD [Page 534] condemn those whose Consciences acquit them, and absolve those whose Conscien­ces, or rather whose private Opinions and Fancies condemn them.

This is plain from the instances before us; some Men justifie themselves in doing very wicked Actions; but the reason is, because they mistake the Nature of Things, they call Good Evil, and Evil Good; and then their Consciences applaud and commend them for doing that, which is very wicked, but which they call good. As our Saviour tells his Apostles, The time cometh, when every one that killeth you, will think that he does God good service, 16 Joh. 2.

Others, who know they are guilty of very great wickedness, are yet very con­fident of their Salvation, and full of as­surance, because they do not judge of themselves by the good or evil which they do, but rely upon other marks and evi­dences for their Salvation; Raptures, Ex­tasies, Enthusiasms, a presumptuous Faith in Christ, an ineffectual sorrow for sin, some arbitrary and fanciful signs of Ele­ction, &c. Now indeed, these Mens Consciences do condemn them, for they accuse them of great wickedness; but they will not believe the Judgment of their own Consciences, but judge of their [Page 535] final state, by their own mistaken Fancies and Opinions; and therefore according to the Apostle's Rule, God will condemn these Men, for their own Consciences condemn them, though they will not believe the Judgment of their Consciences, but justifie themselves in contradiction to it, when Conscience condemns.

Other Men, who are not condemned by their own Consciences; that is, who cannot charge themselves with any great guilt, who are not conscious to them­selves, that they have lived in any known Sin, or in the habitual neglect of any material and essential part of their Duty, yet they strongly fancy, that GOD will condemn them, that they are under the Sentence of Reprobation, that they have sinned against the Holy Ghost, though what that Sin is, they know not: They want the testimony of the Spirit to as­sure them of their Election; they have never felt the Spirit of Bondage, and therefore they fear, they have not the Spirit of Adoption; that is, they have never felt the Horrours and Agonies of guilty Sinners, because by the Grace of GOD, and the Blessing of a pious and vertuous Education, they have always been preserved from those frightful sins, [Page 536] which amaze the Conscience; and there­fore they fear it is but a false Peace they feel, that God is not in this soft and calm Voice of Conscience, because they have never heard nor seen the Thundrings and Lightnings from Mount Sinai: Or though they maintain a great reve­rence for God, and worship him with all humility of Soul and Body, yet they do not feel those flights of Devotion, those melting and languishing Passions, which some good Men [...]eel; or if at any time they are transported beyond themselves, and feel their Hearts all on fire with Love and Devotion, these Fits are but short, these Boylings and Fermentations go off, and they return to a calm and even Temper, and then they think they grow cold, and that the Spirit of GOD hath forsaken them: Now it is plain also, that these Mens Consciences do not condemn them, for they charge them with no such guilt, as the Gospel of Christ will condemn them for, but they are condemned only by false Opinions, or by a misguided and disturbed Fancy. In both these Cases Men absolve or con­demn themselves, not by the judgment and testimony of Conscience, but by their mistaken Notions and Opinions, [Page 537] and God is not concerned to confirm and ratifie such a Judgment.

The Sum is this: When St. Iohn tells us, That if our Conscience condemn us, God will condemn us; but if our Conscience do not condemn us, neither will God con­demn us: he means by Conscience, that Judgment, which Men make of themselves, by comparing their Lives and Actions with the Rule, by which GOD will judge us; for Conscience judges, not by making new and arbitrary Rules of Judg­ment, but by giving Testimony to our Lives and Actions. The Judgment of Conscience is no more but this, Whether we have obeyed, or disobeyed the Laws of the Gospel; whether we have done those things, which the Gospel threat­ens to punish, or which it promises to reward; but when we judge our Actions by false Notions of Good and Evil, con­trary to the Gospel of our Saviour, we judge by a false Rule, and then our Judg­ment must be false; and when we judge our selves not by the Nature of our Works, as God will judge us, and as Conscience judges, but by Opinions and Fancies, and some Arbitrary and Enthu­siastick Marks and Signs, this is not the Judgment of Conscience, which judges [Page 538] only of our Works, but the Judgment of private Opinions, Conceits and Fan­cies, and though God will judge us, as Conscience judges, yet he will not judge us, as Opinion, Fancy, Enthusiasm, or Melancholy judge us.

Thus we see, how we may know, what our Sentence shall be at the Day of Judgment: Two sorts of Men may cer­tainly know, what their Sentence shall be and a third sort may know the great dan­ger they are in, if they will but listen to the Judgment of their own Consciences. Men, whose Consciences absolutely con­demn them, may certainly expect, that God will condemn them; For when their guilt is so notorious, that they are forced to condemn themselves, why should they think, that a just and righteous Judge will not condemn them? Those whose Con­sciences do not condemn them, shall cer­tainly be pardoned and rewarded by the Mercies of God; those, whose Conscien­ces will neither condemn nor absolve them, but do both by turns, are in a very doubt­ful and hazardous state, their Salvation as yet is very uncertain, and it concerns them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure.

[Page 539]And should not this teach us to reve­rence the Judgment of Conscience as a Divine Sentence? not to provoke our Consciences to condemn us; to obey their Admonitions, and to reform at their Rebukes and Censures? What would Sin­ners think, should they hear themselves condemned by God, every time they com­mit a known and wilful sin? And yet Conscience is the Tribunal of God, judges for God, and condemns us in God's Name, and by his Authority, and God will con­firm and execute its Sentence, and there­fore Conscience is a very venerable Judge.

And ought we not diligently to hearken to that Judgment, which Conscience passes on us? This I am sure is of vast concern­ment both to bad and to good Men, whe­ther it condemn or absolve. Bad Men indeed are very much afraid of their own Consciences, because they reprove and condemn them, and threaten them with Hell-fire, and therefore they fly from their Consciences, will not hear them, and will not suffer them to speak: but what do they get by this, but to drop securely and quietly into Hell, and then Conscience will speak, and never be silent more: If they will not hear their Consciences now, they must hear their Judge at the last [Page 540] Day. Though Conscience be never so severe in its reproofs and censures, they are the reproofs of a Friend; the Judg­ment of Conscience is only to warn us of the Judgment of God, to warn us to fly from the Wrath to come; and would Men hearken to their own Consciences, it would give check to them, and reform their Lives; if we would patiently hear Conscience threaten us with Hell-fire, it would be the most effectual means to pre­vent our falling into it.

But what is the Joy and Triumph of a good Conscience, which speaks Peace to us, and gives us a secure hope in God; which gives us the joyful prospect of E­ternal Rewads, of a Crown, and a King­dom, of those Rivers of Pleasures, which are at God's right hand! When with St. Paul we can say: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which God the righte­ous Iudge will give me at that day, 2 Tim. 4.7, 8.

This is a happy state indeed, a plero­phory and full assurance of hope, which makes good Men impatiently long for the Day of Judgment to be put into the pos­session of so great a happiness; and there [Page 541] is no way to have this, but from the Te­stimony of our own Consciences: The Holy Spirit indeed does give Testimony to good Men, and fill them with joys un­speakable, and full of glory: but then the spirit beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the sons of God, 8 Rom. 16. Unless our Consciences give testimony to us, the Holy Spirit never does; all pretences to the Testimony of the Spirit without this, are cheats and delusions; and Conscience will never give this testimony to us, with­out a tried and experienced Vertue, till the Flesh be subdued to the Spirit; till our Minds are refined and purified, and our Conversations adorned with all Divine and Heavenly Graces. Every new conquest we gain over this World, every new de­gree of strength and vigour in serving God, our increase in Charity and all good Works, will add new degrees to our hope; our Consciences will give the more ample testimony to us; and that gives us great­er confidence towards God, which will make us joyfully expect that blessed hope, 2 Tit. 13. and glorious appearance of the great God, and our Saviour Iesus Christ.

The END.

BOOKS Published by the Reverend Dr. SHERLOCK, Dean of St. Paul's, Master of the Temple, and Chaplain in Ordinary to Their Majesties.

AN Answer to a Discourse Entituled, Papists Protesting against Protestant Popery. Second Edition. 4o

An Answer to the Amicable Accommodation of the Differences between the Representer and the Answerer. 4o

A Sermon at the Funeral of the Reverend Benjamin Ca­lamy, D. D. 4o

A Vindication of some Protestant Principles of Church-Unity and Catholick-Communion, from the Charge of A­greement with the Church of Rome. 4o

A Preservative against Popery: Being some plain Dire­ctions to unlearned Protestants, how to Dispute with Ro­mish Priests. First Part. Fifth Edition. 4o

A Second Part of the Preservative against Popery. Se­cond Edition. 4o

A Vindication of Both Parts of the Preservative against Popery, in Answe [...] to the Cavils of Lewis Sabran, Je­suit. 4o

A Discourse concerning the Nature, Unity, and Com­munion of the Catholick Church. First Part. 4o

[Page]A Sermon Preached before the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, on Sunday Novemb. 4. 1688. 4o

A Vindication of the Doctrine of the Holy and Ever-Blessed Trinity, and the Incarnation of the Son of God: Occasioned by the Brief Notes on the Creed of St. Athana­sius, and the Brief History of the Unitarians, or So [...]i [...]ians, and containing an Answer to both. The Second Edi­tion. 4o

The Case of the Allegiance due to Soveraign Powers sta­ted and resolved, according to Scripture and Reason, and the Principles of the Church of England; with a more par­ticular Respect to the Oath lately enjoyned, of Allegia [...]ce to their present Majesties, King William and Queen Mary. Sixth Edition. 4o

A Vindication of the Case of Allegiance due to Sove­raign Powers: In Reply to an Answer to a late Pamphlet, Entituled, Obedience and Submission to the present Govern­ment demonstrated from Bishop Overal's Convocation- [...]ook; with a Postscript in Answer to Dr. Sherlock's Case of Allegi­ance. 4o

A Practical Discourse concerning Death. The Fifth Edition. 8o

A Practical Discourse concerning a Future Judg­ment. 8o

Printed for W. Rogers.

Books lately Printed for Will. Rogers.

A Sermon Preached at White-Hall, before the Queen, on the Monthly-Fast-Day, September 16th, 1691. 4o

A Persuasive to Frequent Communion in the Holy Sacra­ment of the Lord's Supper. The Eighth Edition. 12o

Both by the most Reverend Father in God John Lord Arch­bishop of Canterbury.

A Sermon Preached on the 28th of Iune, at St. Andrew's Holbourn. By the Right Reverend Father in God, Iohn Lord Bishop of Norwich. 4o

A Sermon Preached on the 28th of Iune, at St. Mary it Bow, on Sunday the fifth of Iuly, 1691, at the Consecra­tion of the Most Reverend Father in God, Iohn Lord Archbishop of Yo [...]k; and the Right Reverend Fathers in God, Iohn Lord Bishop of Norwich, Richard Lord Bishop of Peterborough, and Edward Lord Bishop of Gloucester. By Ioshua Clark, Chaplain to the Right Reverend Father In God, the Bishop of Norwich. 4o

The Necessity of Serious Consideration, and Speedy Re­pentance, as the only way to be safe both living and dying. By Clement Elis, Rector of Kirkby in Nottingham-shire. 8o

Reflections upon two Books, one Entituled, The Case of Allegiance to a King in Possession. The other, An Answer to Dr. Sherlock's Case of Allegiance to Soveraign Powers in Possession: on those parts especially, wherein the Author endeavours to shew his Opinion to be agreeable to the Laws of this Land. In a Letter to a Friend. 4o

In the Press:

The Folly of Atheism demonstrated to the Capacity of the most unlearned Reader. By Clement Elis, Rector of Kirkby in Notting-hamshire. 8o

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