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the World. I charged my holy Angels to minister unto you in Truth and Good. My Divine Spirit was ever touching your Spirits with all Holy Influences. I appointed your own Consciences as my Vicegerent within you, to be your constant Monitor and Guide.
“Come now, ye whose Souls can testify within you, that you have made some improvement of these advantages, and have repaired your failings, by speedy Repentance, and turning to my Divine Mercy—“Come ye in glorious Ranks, and be seated on my Right Hand! But ye who have neglected and despised all these advantages, who have trampled my Mercies under foot, and have counted the Blood of the Covenant, whereby you were to be sanctified, an unholy thing-Go ye to my Left Hand. Be ye divided from the faithful Multitude on my Right, as a Shepherd divides his Sheep from the Goats. To you, ye faithless, is reserved the Sentence of Condemnation, prepared for the Devil and his Angels, from the beginning of the World.”
Such an account, on a subject so new and interesting, as a future arraignment of all the World for the deeds done in the Body, at the Bar of an Omnipotent All-seeing, Righteous Judge, it may be well believed, filled the Mighty Felix with terrible apprehensions. He Shook, he Trembled, he fell into dreadful alarm, as hath been noticed from the sacred Text before; and lest he should betray the dignity of his Rank and Office, and become unmanned on his Judgment-Seat, he was glad to frame an excuse, “Go thy way for this time, when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee!"
The vanity of such an excuse as this, I hope there will be little occasion to enlarge upon, after what I delivered on the subject, in a former discourse.
“ A more convenient Season! To-morrow, and again to-morrow, or any succeeding portion of our time—these are not ours of a certain. Amidst the constant Monitors of the uncertainty of Things hereto keep, day after day, hanging on to-morrow; to behold our short Glass of Life ebbing and shaking to its last sands; Friend after Friend torn from our Bosoms; and yet we still defer our main chance-Oh! this is the height of all Infatuation!”—
My next, or ninth Discourse will be in part a continuation and conclusion of this great Subject of a future Judgment, as treated of by sundry of the most eminent Divines of our Church, and some learned foreign writers.
FIRST PREACHED JANUARY 12, 1794.
1 THESS. Chap. IV. Ver. 15—18.
MARVELLOUS is our curiosity in the days of our ambition and worldly glory, to search into the Records of Time for our Pedigree and the History of our Ancestors; and to emblazon our Coat of Arms with every Ensign of their Renown and laudable Achievements. The Soul, in particular, bears its part high in this work; always hankering after something new, and to know what it did not know before; especially concerning its own Origin, and the Origin of Unhappiness and Evil, in the Creation of God. Nor is this curiosity confined to what concerns itself only, but extends into the whole World of Spirits, and all that has befallen, or can possibly befal them! The sublime Burnett, has a stretch of Imagination on this subject, so bold, that I read it with a kind of trembling dread, which chills even Admiration!
“ The History of Angels (says he), good or bad, " and the part they act in the Ministry of Heaven, " will engage our attention in another World; and “ we even wish to pry into it while we sojourn in this
“ World.-For my part, (continues he), I had rather “ know the History of Lucifer himself, than of all “the Babylonian and Persian Kings; nay, than of “ all the Kings of the earth. What was his Birth“ right before his Rebellion and Fall? What were "" his Dominions? Where stood his imperial Court is and where was his Residence? How was he van
quished, dethroned, deposed, cast down? For “ what Crime or Cause, and by what Power? What " were those Wars in Heaven, and how carried on, “ concerning which the incomparable Milton has
expended such a fund of sublime Imagination, and
Eloquence? By what means does this Infernal “ Prince still uphold his Kingdom, and continue to
wage War against Heaven, even in his exiled state? " Who are his Confederates? What is his Power “over Mankind, and how far limited? What Check, « Change or Damage, did he sustain by the Coming 16 of Christ? and how did it affect or alter the pos .
ture of his affairs? What will be his last Fate and “ final Doom; and whether he may ever hope for " Restoration, and a Re-instatement in the Favour 56 of God?” _On this last part Burnett ventures no decisive opinion of his own, in this place; but it may be gathered from his writings elsewhere, that he does not think such a Restitution impossible, or contradictory to the benevolent Plan of God, in the exercise of his creating and redeeming Love!
The Soul (from the arguments already delivered, Sermons V, VI, page 70, and elsewhere) being now persuaded, though with much reluctance, of the ne, cessity of parting with her dear companion, her Mor
tal Bride, the Body, consoles herself with the assurance that the separation will be but for a short time, a moment as it were, compared to endless Duration; and that, in the meanwhile the Body shall not be injured by its sleep in the dust, but shall come forth again, new-clothed and dressed in the rich embroi. deries of Heaven and Immortality; more beautiful and refulgent by absence; “ being like unto that
Chrystal, which purifying in its Bed of Dust, after “ the Revolution of many Ages, is said to be turned “ into the brightest Diamond.” Nevertheless, the Soul, now left alone and without a Body, becomes greatly anxious, and inquisitive, concerning what may be its own Fate and Fortunes, during the mean or middle period, between Death and the Resurrection (the length of which it is not given man to know) for we must not believe in the Doctrine too commonly received, “ of our Going Post from the Grave “ to Heaven, because it is contrary to the Notion of
a Resurrection, and to the concurrent opinion of " all the Fathers; who, from Tradition, and from the • Conversation some of them had with our Saviour's
disciples, must have preserved some shadow of “ this Doctrine, in their Writings, if it had been spoken of or any way current, in their day.”
This intermediate space of time, between the Grave and the Resurrection, when the Soul is to exist separate from its inhumed body, being allowed on all hands, the employment and place of abode of Souls during that Time can only admit of Two opinions, and be regulated by two kinds of LearningFirst, of those who are guided by the Light of Nature,