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they will be interposed because they may or can be, if he pleases to dispense with the Conditions of his own Covenant, is to establish his own Hypothesis against Christ's express Declaration, and instead of conforming his Sentiments to Scripture, to overrule Scripture in favour of his Sentiments.
In short, the Judge of all the Earth will certainly do right. But we must not presume to prescribe to him, or encourage Men with Hopes of Salvation, and much less with a Title to it, upon any other than the declared Terms of the Gospel.
But farther, as thisTheory supposes all theThreats of Scripture against Sinners to be absolutely null and void in themselves, so with a View to mitigate the Severity of them, the above-mentioned Doctrine of a Purgatory was probably invented, or rather extorted from Holy Writ; and some Divines among ourselves have at least strongly insinuated, that the most terrible Denunciations of Scripture are temporary, and written in terror em only, and will be finally revoked by Divine Mercy; while others, from a Principle of Tenderness, no doubt, highly laudable in itself, are willing to hope that very few shall be involved in the Sentence of Condemnation, (which they acknowledge indeed to be irreversible) and that the Number of the Damned stiall bear no greater Proportion to the many that sliall be saved, than the Number of those who are
v confined confined in a Prison in any Country does to them that are free.—The Doctrine of a Purgatory has been too often, and too effectually confuted to need any Consideration here; and as for the other No-* tions, the first of them has at least no Foundation in Scripture, and is directly contrary to it; and therefore is at best a Presumption; the latter, if we examine the Lives and Conversations of Mankind in general by the Rule of God's Commandments, and the Tenor of Scripture, 'tis to be feared,
will be unsupported by proper Authority. >
Indeed both these Notions, as well as that of a Purgatory, seem to offer too great Encouragement to Wickedness and Vice; though the Adoptors of them, especially of the latter, ought not in Charity to be charged with any such Intention.-^For let a Man be persuaded that the Punishment due to Sin is only finite, and he will too naturally make himself easy under the Sense of it, and repose himself in the Prospect of a certain, though distant Reversion of Happiness:—Or, let him be taught to believe that the Number of the Damned wijl be inconsiderably small, he will be too ready upon comparing his Life and Actions with those of others who have outgone him in Wickedness, to exempt himself from that Number, and consequently be remiss in his Endeavours to enter it at that jirait Gate, which we are expresly told is very difficult of Access.—In truth, both these Notions appear to be grounded in the Misapprehension of Holy
Writ} Writ; and therefore let us consult the Scripture a little for Satisfaction in this important Matter.— Now we may observe, that scriptural Promises of Happiness to the Good, and Threats of Misery to the Wicked, are often expressed in different, and always in general Terms. d These shall go away into everlasting PuniJhment, but the Righteous into Life eternal. The Hour is coming, in the which all that are in the Graves /hall hear his Voice, and Jhall come forth ; they that have done good unto the Resurrection of Life, and they that have done evil unto the Resurrection of Damnation.—Is there but one Division then of the whole Race of Mankind? Or, lhall all be Objects of Divine Mercy or Justice, in an equal Degree? surely not; and if not, how shall we apply these general Promises and Threatnings to particular Cases? The Scriptures enable us to do this by plainly and literally assuring us in numberless Places, that the Son of Man jJjall reward every Man according to his Works; That God will render to every Man according to his Deeds; and that we must all appear before the "Judgment Seat of Christ, that every one may receive the Things done in his Body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. These Texts evidently pronounce to all Men a Proportion of Happiness or Unhappiness, equal to their respective Deserts; they remove at once all the Difficulties that arise from
* Matt. xxv. 46. John v. 28, kc.
a supposed a supposed Equality of Happiness or Misery, and are the best Preservatives both against Presumption and Despair.—That the Glory and Happiness of Heaven will admit of Degrees seems not only reasonably to be supposed from the visible Difference of Proficiency made in Goodness and Virtue in this Life, but also from certain Passages and Expressions in the Scriptures themselves.—Our Saviour tells his Apostles, that in his Fathers House are many Mansions; and that in the Kingdom of God, as well as in all temporal ones, particular Stations and Pre-eminences will be allotted to particular Characters, we may conclude from the Promises of our Lord to his Apostles and immediate Followers, which are delivered with particular Marks of Distinction from the general ones made to his faithful Servants unto the World's End. Verily Ifay unto you, that ye which have followed me in the Regeneration, when the Son of Man Jhallfit on the Throne of his Glory, ye also Jhallft upon twelve 'Thrones, judging the twelve Tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken Houses, or Brethren, or Sifters, or Father, or Mother, or Wife, or Children, or Lands for my Names Sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and sjall inherit everlafting Life.—There is a beautiful Passage in the Prophet Daniel plainly referring to the last Judgment, and describing the Glory of the Just. And many of them that jleep in the Dujl of the Earth shall awake, some to everlafting
Life, andsome to Shame and everlasting Contempt: ,And they that be wise shalljhint as the Brightness of the Firmament, a?zd they that turn many to Righteousness as the Stars for ever and ever. Parallel to this is the Assurance of our Saviour, that the Righteous shall shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father. To one, or both these Passages, St. Paul seems to allude, and to intimate a Distinction of Station at the same time, when he tells us, (speaking emblematically of the State of the Blessed after the Resurrection) that there is one Glory of the Sun, and another Glory of the Moon, and another Glory of the Stars; and that one Star differeth from another Star in Glory.—Again, the different State of the Wicked hereafter, and the Degrees of everlasting Punishment, may be inferred likewise from the Import of the Scriptures in many Places. That a Disparity of Guilt shall be answered by a Disparity of Punishment, may be concluded from the peculiar Curse denounced in particular Cases. Whosoever shall not receive you, fays our Saviour, nor keep your Words, when ye depart out of that House, or City, shake off the Dust of your Feet; Verily I say unto you, it soall be more tolerable for the Land of Sodom and Gomorra in the Day of Judgment than for that City.—The Woes denounced against the Ungodly in general, are expressed often in the most terrible Terms, and re„ presented under the dreadful Images of outer Vol. I. L Darkness,