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cern for the glory of God and the salvation of men, the overflowings of ungodliness must of course harrass and vex him, so as to render his situation like that of Lot in Sodom. If he lives long, infirmities and sorrows bend him down every year nearer to the earth out of which he was taken. The primitive Christians, besides their ordinary labours of temptation, sorrow, and infirmity, were exercised with the sharper and bloody trials of persecution; flying from city to city, to avoid the rage of blinded Jews and bloodthirsty heathens. From all these troubles death set them free; whence, as it was observed in the preceding Dissertation, they called their death an Erodus: no other word could so aptly express their happy translation from labour to rest, and from bondage to liberty. How glad were the Israelites, when they saw the fruitful hills and vales of the promised land stretching away before their view on the other side of Jordan, when all the trials of the wilderness were past, and their tedious journeyings and encampments brought to a conclusion? How glad was Lot, when he
a So St. Peter calls it, Ep. II. c. i. 15. on which Grotius remarks hic exitus figuratus per illum ex Ægypto.
had escaped from the execrable Sodom, and found a peaceful refuge in Zoar? How happy is the Merchant, who, having been tossed upon the waves of the sea, and in danger of shipwreck, finds himself at last safe in the port? So happy is the soul, which hath taken its flight from these regions of sin and sorrow; which, having died in the Lord, is admitted to the enjoyment of light and peace in that intermediate state of Paradise, to which Christ himself departed while his body lay in the grave; and where the Saints both of the old and new Dispensation rest in the bosom of Abraham; expecting that great day, when those gates of heaven shall again be opened, through which the King of Glory entered after his ascension from the earth. What man, who considers the labours of this life, and dares look forward to that rest which remaineth for the people of God, what man, I say, can refrain from wishing, in those words. of the Psalmist-Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at
But, God knoweth, all men are not in a condition to utter such a wish as this, being discouraged by that second considerationtheir works do follow. them. In this consists
the blessedness of those who die in the Lord, that none of their good works will be lost or forgotten in the sight of God. The tears of their repentence, their prayers and devotions, their patient suffering for the truth's sake, their deeds of mercy and charity, all these things are now noted in the book of God, and shall hereafter be remembered. Then will they have honour, whom the world despised; Angels will celebrate the acts of those. conquerors in the cause of God and of righteousness, whose lives the fools accounted as madness.
Every difficulty, which now meets us when we consider the lot of a righteous man, will then be cleared up. If he hath served God in a low estate here, he shall then be held in honour. If he hath promoted peace upon earth, and met with nothing but hatred for his good will, he shall then be owned amongst the children of God. If he hath delighted in works of mercy, and received nothing here, in return for them, he shall then receive, what all the powers upon earth cannot bestow, even the forgiveness of his sins; and, having shewed mercy, shall find mercy at the hands. of God. If he hath suffered shame, loss, or persecution of any kind, for righteousness?
sake, the kingdom of heaven, which God will permit him to claim as his own, will infi nitely more than balance the account. Therefore, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.
The Church being like that net, which was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind both good and bad; this Essay may fall into the hands of very different readers, some of who are in the way to those blessings which the Saviour of the world hath in store for them, and whose works, through his merits, will justify them in the great day of retribution. There are others, whom Death, whenever it shall come, is not like to translate to the region of the blessed, and whose works will follow them, only to bring them into everlasting confusion. The drunkard may now vaunt himself, and scoff at the terrors of death and judgment. If his profane Jests, and all the horrible oaths that are intermixed with them, were written down upon paper, and repeated in public before his face, he would be abashed, if his sober reason and senses were about him. What will be his confusion then, when all his expressions, from the heaviest of his blasU 2
phemies down to the lightest of his idle words, shall be exposed before men and angels? How will blasphemy appear, should it be rehearsed in the ears of a sinner, and confronted with the tremendous Majesty of the Almighty, seated upon the clouds of heaven, with darkness under his feet, the noise of thunder rolling through the skies, and flames of lightning flashing round about him? No man should be so weak as to imagine, that I am dressing up this sight, to make it terrible: for all the words we can bring together will never describe one half of the terrors of divine vengeance, or paint the amazement of those, to whom conviction shall come when the day of repentance is gone. Now then let them consider, that they have an account to give; that their most secret actions are noted, yea, and the very thoughts of their hearts registered in heaven. Now let the covetous remember, that all the unjust gain he hath been heaping up will be left behind him; while the deceit and oppression, with which he got it, will follow him into his grave, and stick close to his dust, and rise again to meet him in the day of judgment, Cursing, swearing, lying, cheating, debauchery and drunkenness, are now looked upon as the se