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who like a Doctrine never the better fors E R M. being theirs ., and then to proceed to lay down the true and primary Notion of the fame State, as it is delivered to us in Holy Scripture, and by the ancientest Writers and Fathers of the Church. My Business therefore is
I. First negatively , to disprove that the Souls of the Deceased are at present either in Heaven, or Hell; or in that perfect Degree of Happiness or Misery, which they are to be in hereafter. And then
II. In the Second Place, positively to declare (I mean as far as the Scriptures enable us) in what Place and Condition they are.
I. The First of these Heads I believe is more than I shall be able to compass in one Discourse. To this therefore I propose to confine myself wholly at present; and to introduce me to it have chose those Words of the inspired Author to the Hebrews which I have read for my Text. And how proper a Text this is to lead me to the Doctrine I would defend, a short Review of the Context will shew. In the Close of the Chapter immediately foregoing, the Holy Penman exhorts
S E R M. fiis Hebrews not to shrink back from the Profession of their Faith, because they had not a present Recompence for their Sufferings and Pains; but to endure with Patience, which was necessary to entitle them to the promised Reward, and to which he encourages them by assuring them that He that shall come, will come in a little while, and will not tarry, Heb. xi. 37. /". e. The Messiah, or Jesus Christ, who is to come again in the End of the World to confer Rewards on all that wait for him with Faith and Patience, shall most assuredly come at the appointed Time, when all things are prepared, and beyond which Time he shall not stay. But lest the Hebrews should think even this too long to wait; he proceeds in this Chapter, whence I have taken my Text, to animate them.from the Examples of the Reverend Patriarchs and Fathers of old, who had suffered much in Times long past, and yet were still content to wait for that Promise, which Christians, as born in the last Age of the World, might hope soon to obtain. With this View he calls to their Memories the heroick Tranfactions of Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, of Abraham and "Sarah, of Isaac and Jacob, of Joseph and "Moses, of Rahab, and of many Others, whom
be be wanted'Time to enlarge on, such as Gideon, s EvRf^" and Barak, and Samson, and Jephtha, such as David also and Samuel, and the rest of the Prophets: All of them Names venerable for their Antiquity, and renowned for theirFaith; who yet, notwithstanding all they did and all they suffered, still waited, even then, when the Penman wrote, for their final Reward: They had not received the Promise made to •their Sufferings and Faith, but expected till the Number of the Chosen and Elect of God should be fulfilled under both Dispenfations, when all together (and not any one before another) should have their Happiness rendered perfect and complete. For so faith my Text, These all having obtained a good Report through Faith; i. e. the Scriptures bearing Witness that by Virtue of their Faith, they were all acceptable to God, they did not however receive the Promise, the Rewards ensured to them were not yet conferred upon them, God having provided some better thing for us that were born under the New Testament, /. e. doing us Honour, by keeping them in a State of Expectation and Delay, till we and all that are still to be born, slrall be ready to enter into, and enjoy, the Promises with them: That so even they, who first finished
S E R M. their Labours, should not without us be made XVIII.
'>perfeSit i. e. not till we shall be perfected too.
So that we fee it is the Doctrine of my Text (if I have rightly represented the Doctrine of it here) that the Patriarchs and Fathers of the Old Testament, even those of them that have been, the longest of all, in a separate State, are not yet so happy, as one Day they expect to be; when they and all the Righteous Souls, that have entered already, or /hall hereafter enter at any Time the Regions of the Dead, (hall at once be received, at the Resurrection of the Just, into perfect Glory.
It is true indeed, that they who are of a different Opinion from us, and who place the Distinction between the present and the future State of the Blessed, in their having, or not having, their Bodies only, interpret the being made perfeSl in my Text, of the Resurrection alone, which is to perfect the Saints. And that the Saints (hall indeed be perfected then, we are as willing to grant, as they to ask. But that any Part of them is perfected before, or that even their Souls are yet in Heaven j this is the Doctrine which they affirm and we deny: Which we deny upon the Authority of the Text we are now considering, and in which we have the ancient Fathers
on on our Side. For thus St. Chryfojlom, speak- SJ3,^* ing of Æel and Noah, * — God, (faith he) to the End that they might not be crowned without ut, has appointed, one Time of Coronation for us all. Thus again Theodores^—They have not yet received their Crowns, because God defers it till others have combated, that so he may proclaim them all Conquerors at once -jJ\ And thus lastly Origen, having cited this very Place, draws this Inference immediately from it. Tou fee (faith he) that Abraham yet expeSls to receive Perfection; that Ifaac also and Jacob and all the Prophets wait for us, that with us they may obtain their perfeSl Happiness. Even the Apoftles themselves have not yet received their Joy, but flay for me to be Partaker with them: Neither do the Saints that now depart, immediately enter upon the Reward of their Deserts, but sidy and wait for us, though we defer and delay our Comings. —1— These Expressions cannot be intended only of the Resurrection of the Bodies of the Saints hereafter: They must be understood of the Perfection and Happiness of their Souls, which those an