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Serm.IV. ing Punishment ; but the Righteous into Life
Let us suppose, that Mankind were to live here for ever : Let us suppose, that some of them were become abandoned and incorrigibly bad: Would it be any unjustic fiable Severity to confine Them for ever in Prison, that they might not seduce or annoy the rest of the Creation ; or even to inflict positive. Punishments upon them, m their Confinement, adequate to their Of fences, in order to deter others ?' It is only therefore to suppose, that the Soul is in it's own Nature designed for an immortal Duration ; that those, who are consigned to everlasting Misery, are such as by a continued Course of Sinning have fo disabled all the Powers of the Soul, that it is morally impoflible for them, without the extraordinary Grace of God, to cease from Sinning: And then if it be no Injustice, as undoubtedly it is not, that every Sinner should be a Sufferer; there can be' no Injustice, that every habitual, eternal Sinner should be an eternal Sufferer.
This Consideration, I think, takes off the Force of the Objection, viz. That there -is no Proportion between temporary Crimes,
and eternal Punishments. But, fince fome Serm.IV: have laid great Stress upon it, I shall consider it further.
ift, Let it be considered, that though the outward Acts of Sin be temporary; yet the Defilement and Habit contracted by a Repetition of these Acts is, if we die in a State of Impenitence, eternal. And as eternal ill Habits are the Source of eternal Torments; it will follow that the Impe.. nitent have entailed upon themselves everlasting Misery. If, when Death has closed the Scene, there be no After-game to play ; if all Overtures of Grace then ceale ; if Vice be stamped upon the Soul in indelible Characters; if be that is filthy, must be filt by fill; then it is an undeniable Consequence, that be, who can never cease to be wicked, can never cease to be miserable. The veteran Sinner is steeled against all Impressions, and the Miser does not cease to love this world with all bis Soul, and with all bis Strength, even when he stands just upon the Verge of another. How often have we seen Men, that, however inconsistent in every thing else, have been very consistent in obeying one ruling, habitual Passion from first to last? Nay, we have
SERM.IV. surprising Instances upon Record, besides that
of a dying Miser; that even at the Clofe of Life, the grand and important Crisis, that is to determine a Man's Happiness or Misery ; even then this ruling Passion 'would bear no Rival, no Competitor near the Throne. Even then, like a domineering Favourite, who has long maintained the Ascendant ; it would not, for fear of being supplanted, admit any thing to his Death-bed, but what countenanced it's Interests, and was subfervient 'to 'it's Ora ders. What our Saviour fáid to St. Peter, may be applied to an old habitual Şiriner. When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and went whither thou wouldt ; but when thou art old, another shall bind thee, and carry thee whither thou would ft not. His Sins shall bind him, and carry him into Captivity. He will be apt to think, if he thinks at all to the Purpose ; Why 'had I not the same Sentiments when young, as I have now? Or why have I not now the same vigorous Strength, which I had then, 'to break my Bonds asunder? Some have fo much enfeebled the Powers of the Soul,
that their Reason, like the Light of the : Sun, when the Face of Nature is over
spread with Fogs, is just strong enough to Serm. IV.
Thus often in this World Habits seem
Serm. IV. with this World : But the Habit of Chao n ority shall remain beyond this transitory Scene
of Things, and accompany the Mind into Heaven, and there remain with it to all Eternity ; as immortal as the Soul, and as extensive as the Creation. Now if good Habits Thall follow their Poffeffors into an. other World, and there abide with them; then ill Habits will, by Parity of Reason, do fo too.
This appears farther from the Case of those Angels, which kept not their first Estate. Could any thing have reduced those accursed Spirits to a State of Submisfion to their Maker ; one would have thought, that the Fruitlessness of their former Attempt, the severe Vengeance they already felt, and the Dread of a much severer that hung over them, if they persisted in their Wickedness; and the Hopes of mitigating their Doom, if they defifted ; might at least have made them pasively obedient: But though they believe and tremble, yet still they go on to act contrary to the Conviction of their own Minds; still they go about seeking whom they may devour ; ftill they proceed in a State of Hoftility to their Creator : So stedfast is Malice, so uncon