Page images

but Happiness: wherein they are blesed, in resting from their Labourso; and doubtless rejoice, with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory P, in the Prospect of that completer Felicity, which the righteous Judge of all will hereafter give them.

For as to the Pretence of a Purgatory, where the greatest Part of good Persons are to suffer grievous temporal Punishments, after Death, for their Sins, though the eternal Punishment is remitted : it hath no Ground in the least. Our Saviour's saying, that the Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven in this World, or that which is to come", is merely saying, it shall not be forgiven at all, but punished both here and hereafter. The Prison, out of which, he faith, the Person, who agrees not with his Brother, Mall not come, till he hath paid the last Furthing"; is either a literal Prison of this World, or the Prison of Hell in the next, out of which the contentious and uncharitable shall never come, for they can never pay the last Farthing. The Spirits in Prison, to whom St. Peter faith, Christ by his Spirit preached, he faith also, were the disobedient in the Days of Noah', with whom his Spirit trove', whilst they were on this Earth: and who for their Disobedience were sent, not to Purgatory, but to a worse Confinement. When St. Paul bids Men take Heed, how they build an the Foundation of Christianity; adding, that the Fire shall try every Man's Work; and if any Man's Work hall be burnt, he shall suffer Lofs; but Itill fall be saved, yet so as by Fireu: he mears, that Persons must not mix Doctrines of their own Invention with the Gospel of Christ, which in this Instance, amongst others, thofe of the Church of Rome have done: for when the Lord Jefus fall be revealed from Heaven in flaming Fire", to judge the World, such Notions will nor itand the Trial; they that hold them will be Losers by them; and though Still they may be saved, it will be with Difficulty and o Rev. xiv. 13. Pi Pet. i. 8.

Matth, xii. 31, 32. * Matth, v. 26. 1 Pet. iii. 18, 19, 20,

t Gen. vi. 3• 1 Cos, iii, 10-150 * 2 Thess, i. 74

Danger; 5

[ocr errors]

Danger; as a Person escapes, when his House is buisseing. When, lastly, many of the ancient Christians prayed for the dead; besides that they had no Warrant for so doing, it was only for the Completion of their Happiness, whom they apprehended to be already in Paradise: it was for the Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs; for the blessed Virgin herself: whom they certainly did not think to be in Purgatory. And observe, if they prayed for them, they did not pray to them. Purgatory then is Nothing, but an imaginary Place, invented by Men, to give bad Persons Hope, and good Persons Dread of being put into it; that they may get what they can from both, by pretending to deliver them out of it again. Fear not therefore such vain Terrors. The Souls of the righteous are in the Hands of the Lord: and there shall no Torment touch them*.

Those of the wicked, on the contrary, as they are to be hereafter with the Devils, we may juftly believe are, like them, now delivered into Chains of Darkness, to be reserved unto Judgmenty : and though the worst of their Sufferings shall not begin, till the Day of Judgment comes; yet are they represented by our Saviour, as being, instantly after Death, in a place where they are tormented ? : and undoubtedly, the Loss of their past Pleasures and Gains, Remorse for their paft Follies and Crimes, Despair of Pardon, and the fearful Looking for: of Judgment and

fiery Indignation, which hall devour thema; cannot but make their intermediate State intensely miserable: and what then will their final one be! God grant, that thinking frequently and serioully of these awful Subjects, we may know and consider, in this our Day, the Things that belong to our Peace, before they are for ever hid from our Eyes...

x Wild, iii. I, * Heb. See

r 2 Pet. ii. 4. Luke xix. 42.

* Luke xvi. 256




Articles XI, XII.- Part. II. The Resurrection of

the Body, and the Life everlasting.


have already observed to you, are comprehended four Points of Doctrine:

1. That the Souls of all Men continue after Death.

II. That their Bodies shall at the last Day be raised up, and re-united to them,

III. That both Souls and Bodies of good Persons fhall enjoy everlasting Happiness.

IV. That those of the wicked shall undergo everlasting Punishment.

The first of these being the Foundation of all the rest; I chose to enlarge on the Proof and Explanation of it. Now I proceed to thew,

II. That the Bodies of all Men shall be raifed up again, and re-united to their Souls. This Reason alone cannot prove: and accordingly the Heathen were ignorant of it: but it carries with it no Contradiction to Reason in the least. For God is infinite, both in Power and Knowledge : and it is unquestionably as possible to bring together and enliven the scattered Parts of our Body again, as it was to make them out of Nothing, and give them Life, at first. And therefore, fince we must acknowledge the original Formation of our Bodies to have been of God, we have abundant Cause to be assured, that he can, after Death, form them anew, whenever he pleases. And that this will be done, was


probably implied in that general Promise, made to our first Parents, that the Seed of the Woman, our blefied Lord, should bruise the Serpent's Heada; destroy his Power; and consequently take away the Curse, under which he had brought Mankind. For as part of that Curse consists in the Death of the Body, it cannot be completely taken away, but by the Resurrection of the Body. In Aftertimes, Abraham, we find, had so strong a Belief of the Poflibility of this Article, that he was willinr, on the divine Command, to sacrifice his Son: reasoning, as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches us, that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead b. And indeed he could not have been induced to this, by any other Reasoning. God had promised him, that by his Son Isaac he should have a numerous Posterity : and this Promise he firmly believed. Now he must know, it could never be fulfilled, if Isaac was to be sacrificed, but by his rising again : and therefore he must be persuaded, that he would rise again for that Purpose. On proceeding somewhat further in the sacred History, we find Job expressing himself on this Head, if we at all understand his Words, in very strong Terms :. I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that he shall Stand at the latter Day upon the Earth. And though, after my Skin, this Body be destroyed; yet in my Flesh shall I fue God". Again, when Elijah was taken up alive into Heaven, this must surely give an Expectation, that the Body as well as the Soul, was to partake of future Happiness. And when the several Persons, mentioned in the Old Testament, were raised up to Life in this World, it could not but increase the Probability of a general Resurrection in the next. Then in the Book of Daniel we have an express Declaration, that a Time should come, when they, who pept in the Duft of the Earth, should awake : fome to everlasting Life, and fome to Shame, and everlasting Contempto. And

à Gen. iii. 15. nal should be translated,

• Heb. xi. 19.

So, I think, the Origi, Job. xix, 25, 26.

. Dan. xii. 2.


by him.

indeed, when those, whom we commonly call the three Children, in the former Part of that Book, tell the King, that even though it were not the Pleasure of God to deliver them from the fiery Furnace, yet would they not ferve his Gods'; on what other Principle could they so rationally, or did they so probably say this, as on that, which the Brethren in the Book of Maccabees explicitly profess? There, one of them, stretching forth his Hands to the Tornient, faith, These I had from Heaven: and for his Laws I despise them; and from him I hope to receive them again. Another, It is good, being put to Death by Men, to look for Hope from God, to be raised up again

And lastly, the Mother declares to her Children: I neither gave you Birth, nor Life; nor was it I, that formed your Members: but doubtless' the Creator of the World, who formed the Generation of Man, and found out the Beginning of all Things, will also of his Mercy give you Breath and Life again; as you now regard not yourselves for his Laws Sakes. In the later Times indeed of the Jewith Church, not a few denied this Doctrine: but much the greater Number held it; allowing, as St. Paul acquainted Felix, that there shall be a Resurrection, both of the juft and unjufth.

Yet itill, the full Confirmation of it was reserved for our Saviour to give : who, having in his Life-time raised up three feveral Persons, as you may read at large in the Evangelists, raised up himself from the dead, in the last Place; to afford us the strongest Demonstration possible, that he both can and will raise us all at the Day of Judgment.

This great Event will doubtless, when it comes to pass, exhibit to the whole Universe an astonishing Evidence of the Power and the Truth of God: who may easily have many Reasons for restoring our Bodies, which we apprebend not; besides those, which in fome Measure we do apprehend: that the Soul of Man being originally, and in the State of Innocence, united to a Body, is pro

i Dan, ji. 17, 18.

8 2 Macc, vii, IC73.

* Acts xxiv. 15


« PreviousContinue »