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most equitable Terms, whenever we fall into it. As for the latter : upon the first Opposers of his Church, the Jewish and Roman Perfecutors, his vindictive Power hath been most remarkably exercised : and the succeeding Adversaries of Religion, in every Age, have served, and Mall ferve, only for a Trial of the Faith and Patience of the Saints ° : generally, without prevailing to their Harm even here, and always being subservient to their Happiness hereafter: till at Length the appointed Time shall come, when the Kingdoms of this World fall become the Kingdoms of the Lord and his Chrifti : and having reigned on this Earth, till its Period arrives, he shall resign up to God his Kingdom of Grace, its End being accomplished ; and reign over his Saints, in that of Glory, for ever and ever: fully performing that invaluable Promise, To him that overcometh will I grant to fit with me in my Throne : even as I also overcame, and am fat down with my Father in his Thrones
These Things being so, instead of amusing ourselves with the speculative Consideration of his Afcenfion, and the Reasons of it, we should learn from his Departure to prepare for his Return. To this was the Attention of those, who saw it, directed by the Angels. Ye Men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This fame Fefus, which is taken up from you, all fo come, in like Manner as ye have seen him go into Heaven'. The present Article of our Creed is, that he fitteth at the right Hand of God. The next is, that, from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And what should this very clofe Connexion teach us, but that we all be careful to behave in such Manner, that we may be ready to meet our Lords. at his coming, and enter with him into his Toy'? He hath descended upon Earth to procure us a Right to future Happiness, and instruct us, how to obtain it: he is now ascended up into Heaven, to prepare a Place for
us ! : there feated in Glory, he invites us him. What then remains, but that we fix our Hearts where our Treafure is.w: and set our Affections on those Things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the Right Hand of God ? Bue in vain do we rejoice in a glorified Saviour, unless we become his Friends, by doing what he commands us ': in vain do we lift up our Eyes and our Wishes to his happy Abode; unless, by resembling him now in Purity and Holiness, we qualify ourselves to partake hereafter the Refemblance of his Glory. Who fall afcend into the Hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy Place ? Even he that leadeth an uncorrupt Life, and doth the Thing which is right, and speaketh the Truth from his Heart. He that hath used no Deceit in his Tongue, nor done Evil to his Neighbour, and hath not pandered his Neighbour. He that fetteth not by himself: but is lowly in his own Eyes. In whose Eyes a vile Person is contemned: but he honoureth them, that fear the Lord. He that bath clean Hands and a pure Heart, and doth not lift up his Soul unto Vanity, He shall receive the Blessing from the Lord, and Righteousness from the God of his Salvationz,
"John xin 2.
* Matth. vi. 21. 2 Psal. xv, and xxiv.
* Col. iii. I.
John xv. 146
L É C T U R E
R E XII.
Article VII. From thence he shall come to judge the
quick and the dead.
WHIS is the great and awful Doctrine, which
makes all the preceding ones so important to us : that God hath appointed a Day, in the which he will judge
the World in Righteousness by that Man, whom he hath ore dained a : a Truth, the Belief of which it infinitely concerns every one of us to settle well in our Souls, and be duly affected by it.
The Reason of our Minds, and even the Feelings of our Hearts, give us very strong Grounds to be persuaded of a future Judgment, had we no further Evidence. We are all of us, by Nature, capable of perceiving, what is juft and right for us to do, and what is otherwise: we are all capable of acting according to this Perception : we all see, it is fit we should ; and fit we fhould suffer for it, if we do not. When we behave according to our Duty, there fprings up a delightful Peace and Security within our Breasts: when we knowingly transgress it, we not only disapprove and accuse ourselves, whether we will or not, but experience a foreboding Expectation of just Recompence. For Wickedness condemned by her own Witness, is very timorous : and, being pressed with Conscience, always forecastethgrievous Things Nor do these Horrors relate only, or chiefly, to what we have deserved to suffer in this World: but when our Share in it draws to an End, and Death approaches, then our Fears grow stronger than ever, concerning somewhat, which is yet to come. And thus are all Men a Law unto themselves; and shew the work of the Law written in their Hearts, their conscience also bearing Witness d.
That same Persons are able to overwhelm these Apprehensions under Business and Pursuits, to drown them in Debauchery and Intemperance, to divert them by Pleasures and Amusements, to set up little Cavils against them, and even affect to ridicule them; is no Objedion in the least to their being just, and well grounded. The Feeling is plainly natural: every one of these Methods to get rid of it, is plainly a Force upon Nature. Often it returns with double Terror, for having been unjustly * Aēts xvii. 31. Wird. xvii. II.
• Επειδαν τις εγγυς και τα οιεσθαι τελευτησειν, εισέρχεται αυτο φοβος και φροντις περί ών εν τω προσθεν MX ELTNES. Plat. de Rep. 1. i.
d Rom. ii. 1S.
driven away: and feldom, or never, can the most thoughtless, or moft hardened Perfon, lose intirely those Fears, which are seated in the very Bottom of our Souls ; and which if we could lose, we should only be the more surely miserable: for still the Foundation of them would remain unshaken.
Still it would be true, that there is a God, who made us, and is at all Times intimately present with us : who therefore with unspeakably more Ease perceives all that passes in our very Hearts, than we do one another's outward Actions: who being perfect in Knowledge, distinguishes, in every Case, what is good from what is evil; and being perfect in Holiness, approves the one, and abhors the other. Even we are thus affected in some Degree: and his infinite Purity must therefore be infinitely more so. Now what he hates, he can punith as he pleases ; and reward what he loves : for all Power is in his Hands; all Nature depends on the Word of his Mouth; and he is the same Yesterday, To-day, and for ever e.
Think then: Will the righteous and holy King of the whole Earth, when he hath planted his Laws in our Hearts, when he hath made us for the very Purpose of obeying them, when he hath filled us with so deep a Sense of what will follow, if we disobey them; suffer us, after this, to despise and difhonour him, to injure his Creatures, abuse ourselves, and disappoint the great Design of forming us; and yet take no Notice? Both he govern the World, to the very least Parts of it, with so much Wisdom and Care, in every other Respect ; and he will be so unwise and negligent, as to overlook the one Thing, that deserves his Attention above all; and make no Distinction between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not? It cannot be: and the Conscience of every one of you, at this Moment, tells you it cannot.
If then such a Distinction will be made, when and where will it be made? Here, in this World, it plainly e Heb. xiii. 8.
Mal, iii, 18.
is not done, to a Degree, that the Almighty Governor of it can possibly think fufficient. Perpetually we see juft Men, to whom it happeneth according to the Work of the wicked: and wicked Men, to whom it happeneth according to the Work of the righteous . Amidst all this Disorder, there are indeed evident Marks of a Providence; but of a Providence, that gives only Specimens and Earnests of its Julice at present; reserving the full Vindication and Difplay of itself for that future State, in which our Souls, being naturally immortal, are evidently destined to exist; and where all Men shall receive according to their Works. This is the great End, that God had in his View, when he created us : and it is the principal Point, that we should have in our own View, through the Whole of our Lives.
More or less all Mankind, even in their darkest Ignorance, have always had some Persuafion of a future Recompence: which, however mixed with Errors, yet, being thus universal and lafting, must have been grounded in Nature and Truth. And the wiser and better any Persons were, amongst the Heathens, the stronger and more rational Beliet they had of this Doctrine: which yet was not owing merely to their Wishes, and their Hopes : for the worst of Sinners, that were the farthest from defiring a juk Reward hereafter, feared it, whether they would or not. Thus we find it recorded of a very wicked Heathen, that when Paul reasoned of Righteoulness,and Temperance, and Judgment to come, Felix trembledh.
But still, while the Evidence of this great Article confifted wholly in mere human Reasonings, about a Matter that was out of Sight: bad Persons, though they. could not help at some Times believing enough to fright them ; yet made a Shift at others to disbelieve enough, to make them tolerably easy in doing wrong: and good Persons, though they might have Hope fufficient to infuence them in common Cafes; yet often had not sufficient to fupport them under harder Duties, and heavier
& Eccl. viii. 14.
Asts xxiv. 25.