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us. Many men are gone so far in an evil course, that neither shame or their vices, nor the love of God and virtue, nor the hopes of heaven are of any force with them, to reclaim them, and bring them to a better mind: But there is one handle yet left, whereby to lay hold of them, and that is their fear. This is a passion that lies deep in our nature, being founded in self-preservation, and sticks so closely to us, that we cannot quit ourselves of it, nor shake it off. Men may put off ingenuity, and break through all obligations or gratitude. Men may harden their foreheads, and conquer all fense of shame; but they can never perfectly stifle and subdue their fears; they can hardlv so extinguish the sear of hell, but that some sparks of that fire will ever and anon be flying about in their consciences, especially when they are made sober, and brought to themselves by affliction, and by the present apprehensions of death have a nearer sight of another world. And if it was so hard for the Heathen to conquer these apprehensions, how much harder must it be to Christians, who have so much greater assurance of these things, and to whom the wrath of God is so clearly revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men?
Fifthly, No religion in the world ever urged this argument upon men, with that force and advantage which Christianity does. The philosophy of the Heathen gave men no steady assurance of the thing, the most knowing persons among them were not agreed about a future state; the greatest part of them spake but doubtfully concerning another life. And hesides the natural jealousies and suspicions of mankind concerning these things, they had only some fair probabilities of reason, and the authority of their Poets, who talkt they knew not what about the Elysian fields, and the infernal regions, and the three judges of hell; so that the wisest among them had hardly assurance enough in themselves of the truth of the thing, to press it upon others with any great confidence, and therefore it was not likely to have any great efficacy upon the generality of mankind.
As for the Jewish religion; though that supposed an & took for granted the rewards of another world, as a principle of natural religion; yet in the law of Moses there was no particular and express revelation o£ the life of the world to come; and what was deduced from it, was by remote and obscure consequence.Temporal promises and threatenings it had many and clear, and their eyes were so dazzled with these, that it is probable that the generality of them did but little consider a suture state, till they fell into great temporal calamities under the Grecian and Roman empires, whereby they were almost necessarily awakened- to the consideration and hopes of a better life, to* relieve them under their present evils and sufferings; and yet even in that time they were divided into two great factions about this matter, the one affirming, and the other as confidently denying any life after this. But the gospel hath brought life and Immortality to light, as we are assured from heaven of the truth and reality of another state, and a future judgment. The Son of God was sent into the world to- preach this doctrine, and rose again' from the dead, and was taken up into heaven, for a visible demonstration toall mankind of another life after this, and conse
3uently of a future judgment, which no man. evec; oubted. of, that did firmly believe' a future state. The sum of all that I have said is this; the gospet hath plainly declared ro< us, tliat the only way to salvation is by forsaking our sins, and living a holy and virtuous life; and the most effectual argument: in the world to persuade men to this,.is the consideration of the infinite danger that a sinful course exposeth men to, since the wrath of God continually hangs over sinners, and if they continue in their sins^ will certainly fall upon them, and overwhelm tl.en» with misery, and he that is not moved by this argument, is lost CO> all intents and purposes.
All that now remains is, to urge this argument-Open men, and from the serious consideration of it,to persuade them to repent, and reform their wicked- lives. And was- there ever age wherein this was
3. . norc more needful \ when iniquity doth not only abound, but even rage among us; when infidelity and profanenass, and all manner of lewdness and vice, appears so boldly and openly, and men commit the greatest abominations without blushing at them; when vice hath got such head, that it can hardly bear to be checked and controlled, and when, as the Roman historian complains of his times, ad ea tempera, quibus utc %>itia nofira, ntc remedia, pati pojsumus, ferve mum est. "things are come to that pass, that "we can neither bear our vices, nor the remedies *' of them?" Our vices are grown to a prodigious and intolerable height, and yet men hardly have the patience to hear of them; and surely a disease is then dangerous indeed, when it cannot bear the severity that is necessary to a cure, But yet, notwithstanding this, we who are the messengers of God to men, to warn them of their fin and danger, must not keep silence, and spare to tell them both of their sins, ana of the judgment of God which hangs over them; that God will -visit for theft things, and that bit foul -will bt avenged on such a nation at this. At least we may have leave to warn others, who are not yet run to th* (ame excess of riot, to save themselves from this untoward generation. God's judgments are abroad in tbe earth, and call aloud upon us ta learn righteousness.
But this is but a small consideration, in comparison of the judgment os another world, which we wh» call ourselves Chriitians do profess to believe, as one of the chief articles of our faith. The consideration of this should check and cool us in the heat of alt our sinful pleasures; and that bitter- irony of Solomon should cut us to the heart, Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart chear thee- in the days of thy youtb~, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes * but know that fir all thest things God will bring thee into judgment. Think often and seriously on that time, wherein the wrath os God, which is now revealed against sin, shall be executed upon sinners; and if wel>elievethis,we ar* strangely stupid and ebstiiute, if we be not moved
bv by it. The assurance of this made St. Paul extremely importunate in exhorting men to avoid so great danger, 2 Cor. v. 10. 11. We must all a fpear before the judgment-seat of Chrest, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or evil. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men. And if this ought to move us to take so great a care of others, much more of ourselves. The judgment to come is a very amazing consideration, it is a fearful thing to hear of it, but it will be much more terrible to fee it, especially to those whose guilt must needs make them so heartily concerned in trie dismal consequences of it 1 and yet as sure as I stand, and you sit here, this great and terrible day of the Lord, will come, and who may abide his coming I what will we do, when that day shall surprize us careless and unprepared'. what unspeakable horror and amazement will then take hold of us! when lifting; up our eyes to heaven, we pall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of it, with power and great glory; when that powerful voice, which shall pierce the ears of the dead, shall ring through the world, Arise yt dead, and come to judgment! when the mighty trumpet shall found, and wake the sleepers of a thousand years, and summon the dispersed parts of the bodies of all men that ever lived, to rally together and take their place; and the souls and bodies of men which have been so long strangers to one another, shall meet and be united again, to receive the doom due- to their deeds \ what fear shall then surprize sinners, and how will they tremble at the presence of the great Judge, and for the glory of his Majesty! how will their consciences fly in their faces, and their awn hearts condemn them, for their wicked and ungodly lives,- and even prevent that sentence which yet shall certainly be passed and executed upon them! But I, will proceed no farther in this argument, which hath so much of terror in .k.
1 will conclude my sermon, as Solomon doth his Eccjesiastcs, chap, xii. 13, 14. £«r us htar the cors,