« AnteriorContinuar »
idle and unprofitable servants. These, and a great many other things which we now scarce think of, shal] we be ace: countable for to the judge at that day. Then shall the wisdomand the justice of the divine providence appear eminently to all the world, in rewarding every man according to his works. Then what the upright man has done shall be vin, dicated and approved ; and what he has suffered shall be abundantly made good: every thing shall then be perfectly laid open, and exposed in its true and proper light : plainness and sincerity shall then appear the inoft perfect beauty; and the craftinefsof men, who lie in wait to deceive, be stript of all its colours: all specious pretences, all the methods of deceit, shall then be disclosed before men and angels; and no artifice, no false colours, to conceal the deformity of iniquity, shall then take place. In a word, the ill-designing men of this world shall then with shame be convinced, that that upright sincerity, which they despised and derided, is the truest wisdom; and that those dishonest arts, which they fo highly esteemed, were in reality the merest folly. And,
Notwithstanding we may collect from scripture, that Of two there is a particular judgment passed upon all men; judgments. forasmuch as good men, when they die, pass into a state of happiness, and bad men into a state of misery; yet all the declarations of our Saviour and his apostles concerning judgment, with the parables that relate to it, plainly refer to the last and general judgment: for it is only in that day that the whole man shall be completely happy, or completely miserable; for in that day it is that the bodies of inen Thall be raised; and as they have been partakers with the soul, either in obeying or offending God, so shall they then share in the rewards and punishments of it; and in that day only can the degrees and measures of their happiness and misery be adjusted; for, even after death, the effects of men's good or bad actions may add to their punishment, or increase their seward, by the good or bad examples they have given, by the foundations they have established for piety and virtue, or by the customs they haye introduced to countenance immorality and vice. In that day, the reasonableness of God's providence, in relation to the sufferings of good men in this
world, will be justified, and his justice cleared, by those severe punishments that shall be eternally inflicted upon the wicked, that have forsaken the God of their falvation. And therefore this in a more especial manner is called the day of the Lord. The exact time of this general judgment being one of those seasons which the Father has put in
put in of the time his own power, it is not for us to know, or pry of the crime. into it. Of that day and that hour knoweth no ral judge. man, no not the angels which are in heaven, nei- ment. ther the Son, but the Father. One thing the scripture assures us of, that it shall come suddenly, as a thief in the night; as the flood upon the old world; or as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when they were eating and drinking, and suspected nothing. That it is very near to every one of us, is also very evident: because, how many ages soever the world may continue, yet to every particular person the time of his own death mult determine the conditions, upon which his sentence will depend at the general judgment. Nevertheless, whatever be the time, how near or how distant foever, wherein the world is to end; it is (as I have said) the same thing to us : seeing our particular concern in the general judgment will depend intirely on the state wherein we ourselves leave the world, which we are very sure we must speedily do.
If we consult the light of nature only, it will discover to us an essential difference between good and evil;
A laft judga whence, by the common consent of mankind, re- ment' reaso wards are affixed to the one, and punishments to sonable. the other: and according as men govern their actions in re. lation to these real differences of good and evil, so are their hopes and their fears in respect to a future state. A virtuous life is attended with present quiet and satisfaction, and with the comfortable hope of a future recompence; whereas the commission of any wicked action, though never so secret, fits uneafy upon the mind, and fills it full of horror: all which would be very unaccountable, without the natural apprehension of future punishments and rewards. This is the reason why many of the Heathens esteemed virtue and honesty dearer than life with all its advantages, and abhor
red villainy and impiety worse than death itself. Moreover, the dispensations of God's providence towards men in this world are not confined: good men often suffer, even for the fake of righteousness; and bad men as frequently prosper and flourish, and that by the means of their wicked practices, Wherefore, to rescue Gods proceedings with man from the imputation of injustice, it seems reasonable that there should be a future judgment, for a suitable distribution of punishments and rewards. * From whence we learn, that God will reward and punish us in the next life, in pro
portion to the good or evil we shall do in this our rees of re- mortal state. For in that day the degrees of good wards and and bad actions will be considered, as well as their punishments. nature and quality. To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required; he that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly, and he that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully. So our Saviour plainly teaches us by the parable of the talents, that men are rewarded according to the improvement they make: He that hath gained ten talents is made ruler over ten cities; and he that hath gained five talents ruler over five cities. The apostle of the Gentiles exprelly affirms, that the glory of the saints shall be diffe. rent at the resurrection. And we are informed from our Saviour's own mouth, that in the day of judgment the condition of Tyre and Sidon, of Sodom and Gomorrah, Thall be more tolerable, than that of impenitent sinners, that have heard and rejected the terms of salvation thro' Jesus Christ, By which we are instructed to believe the justice and equity of God's providence, and the reason of the thing; nothing being a greater promoter of piety than the consideration that the least service Thall not lose its reward; and the better any man is, the greater disposition he hath for the enjoyment of God; and the more hardened he is in his wickedness, the more susceptible he is of torment, and treasureth up greater measures of wrath against the day of God's vengeance; of which day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
i . There
* See the Gare of the Scul, page 4.
Therefore we should govern our lives with that care and consideration, and with that due regard to the What
What we measures of our duty, as that we may be able to are taught give up our accounts with joy, and not with grief: thereby. we should keep that strict watch over ourselves by frequent examination, as that our behaviour, in this state of probation and trial, may obtain the favour and acceptance of our judge at his dreadful judgment-seat: we should restrain ourselves from committing the least sin, because there is none so inconsiderable as to be overlooked at that day of general account for all the world: nor should we encourage ourselves by the greatest secrecy to the breach of any of God's holy laws; because all our actions shall be then exposed to publíc view, and known to the whole world, to our eternal infamy: neither should we be dejected by the slanders and calumnies of bad men, because our integrity shall then be cleared by him who cannot err in the fentence he shall pass on us. But let us improve all those talents the providence of God hath intrusted us with; because we are but stewards; and must give an account of them all : let us be fincere in all our words and actions ; because in that day the secrets of all hearts shall be opened : let us avoid all rash judging of others; because he that judgeth another shall not escape the judgment of the Almighty, let us abound in such works as we know will particularly distinguish men at that day, as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, &c. because our labour Thall not be in vain in the Lord : and let us be humble, and jealous over our own conduct: because, though we know nothing by ourselves, we are not thereby justified; for he that judgeth us is the Lord. And also we should learn immediately to reconcile ourselves to God by a sincere and hearty repentance, that the terrible day of God's wrath may pot find us unprepared to enter into the joy of our Lord.
SUNDAY SUN D AY V.
I. Of the Holy Ghost, his office, manner of working in us, our
duty to bim, and the fin against him. II. Of the holy catholick church, and communion of saints. III. Of the forgiveness of sins; when, and how to be obtained. IV. Of the resurrection of the body, with anfwers to objektions against it; and of the folly of atheism. V. Of the life everlasting, in which God's justice in punishing the wicked eternally is vine dicated, and the inexcusableness of fin is demonstrated. VI. The doctrines of christianity cannot be amended; and are not affected by the wickedness of fome people's lives, nor by religious disputes. VII. That religion arose not from fear, edu
cation, or state-policy; and the miseries of atheisin. I. IN the eighth Article of our christian faith we pro
I fess to believe in the Holy Ghost: for Christ beOf the Holy fore his passion had promised to send to his disciGhost. ples the Holy Ghost, to guide them into all truth, and to shew them things to come, and to glorify him: and, when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were accordingly all filled with the Holy Ghost; who is the third person in the most holy Trinity, distinct from the Father and the Son, and eternally proceeding from both; being called the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of the Son, as well as of the Father, and of one divine substance with them: holy in respect of his own divine nature; for as the Son was fo begotten of the Father, as to be one God with him, in likemanner the Holy Ghost fo proceedeth from the Father and the Son, that he is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God. * Whose pecuHis peculiar liar office, as we may understand by the title boly, office is to sanctify and renew our corrupt nature, and to restore it to its primitive perfection and dignity; to incline us to receive those truths, which are only ipiritually discerned, and are foolishness to a carnal or natural man; by opening our hearts, that we attend unto those things which were
written * See the first Article of the Creed as explained Sunday 3. Sect. I, and also the 5th Article of Religion,