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moft equitable Terms, whenever we fall into it. As for the latter upon the first Oppofers of his Church, the Jewish and Roman Perfecutors, his vindictive Power hath been moft remarkably exercifed: and the fucceeding Adverfaries of Religion, in every Age, have ferved, and shall serve, only for a Trial of the Faith and Patience of the Saints generally, without prevailing to their Harm even here; and always being fubfervient to their Happiness hereafter: till at Length the appointed Time fhall come, when the Kingdoms of this World fhall become the Kingdoms of the Lord and his Chrift: and having reigned on this Earth, till its Period arrives, he shall refign 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 Promife, 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 Throne".
Thefe Things being fo, inftead of amufing ourselves with the fpeculative Confideration 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 thofe, who faw it, directed by the Angels. Ye Men of Galilee, why ftand ye gazing up into Heaven? This fame Jefus, which is taken up from you, fhall fo come, in like Manner as ye have feen him go into Heaven. The prefent Article of our Creed is, that he fitteth at the right Hand of God. The next is, that, from thence he fhall come to judge the quick and the dead. And what fhould this very clofe Connexion teach us, but that we all be careful to behave in fuch Manner, that we may be ready to meet our Lord. at his coming, and enter with him into his Joy? He hath defcended upon Earth to procure us a Right to future Happiness; and inftruct us, how to obtain it: he is now afcended up into Heaven, to prepare a Place for
℗ Rev. xi. 15. SI Theff. iv. 17.
• Rev. xiii. 1O.
9 Rev. iii. 21. Matth. xxv. 21.
us": there feated in Glory, he invites us him. What then remains, but that we fix our Hearts where our Treafure is: and fet our Affections on thofe Things that are above, where Chrift fitteth at the Right Hand of God? But 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 refembling him now in Purity and Holinefs, we qualify ourselves to partake hereafter the Refemblance of his Glory. Who fhall afcend into the Hill of the Lord? or who shall ftand in his holy Place? Even he that leadeth an uncorrupt Life, and doth the Thing which is right, and fpeaketh the Truth from his Heart. He that hath ufed no Deceit in his Tongue, nor done Evil to his Neighbour, and hath not flandered his Neighbour. He that fetteth not by himself: but is lowly in his own Eyes. In whofe Eyes a vile Perfon is contemned: but he honoureth them, that fear the Lord. He that hath clean Hands and a pure Heart, and doth not lift up his Soul unto Vanity. He fhall receive the Bleffing from the Lord, and Righteoufnefs from the God of his Salvation".
Matth. vi. 21.
* Col. iii. 1.
"John xiv. 2. 2 Pfal. xv. and xxiv.
y John xv. 14.
CRE E D.
Article VII. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
HIS is the great and awful Doctrine, which makes all the preceding ones fo important to us :that God hath appointed a Day, in the which he will judge
the World in Righteoufnefs by that Man, whom he hath ordained a Truth, the Belief of which it infinitely concerns every one of us to fettle well in our Souls, and be duly affected by it.
The Reafon of our Minds, and even the Feelings of our Hearts, give us very strong Grounds to be perfuaded 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 otherwife we are all capable of acting according to this Perception we all fee, it is fit we fhould; and fit we fhould fuffer for it, if we do not. When we behave according to our Duty, there fprings up a delightful Peace and Security within our Breafts: when we knowingly tranfgrefs it, we not only disapprove and accuse ourselves, whether we will or not, but experience a foreboding Expectation of juft Recompence. For Wickedness condemned by her own Witness, is very timorous: and, being preffed with Confcience, always forecafteth grievous Things↳. Nor do thefe Horrors relate only, or chiefly, to what we have deserved to fuffer in this World: but when our Share in it draws to an End, and Death approaches, then our Fears grow ftronger than ever, concerning fomewhat, which is yet to come. And thus are all Men a Law unto themselves; and fhew the Work of the Law written in their Hearts, their Confcience alfo bearing Witness.
That fome Perfons are able to overwhelm these Apprehenfions under Bufinefs and Purfuits, to drown them in Debauchery and Intemperance, to divert them by Pleasures and Amusements, to fet up little Cavils against them, and even affect to ridicule them; is no Objection in the leaft to their being juft, 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
b Wifd. xvii. Ir.
Acts xvii. 31. ε Επειδαν τις εγγυς η τι οιεσθαι τελευτησειν, εισέρχεται αυτω φοβος και φροντις περὶ ὧν ἐν τω προσθεν &χ ειστεί. Plat. de Rep. 1. i. d Rom. ii. 15.
-driven away: and feldom, or never, can the most thoughtless, or most hardened Perfon, lofe intirely thofe Fears, which are feated in the very Bottom of our Souls; and which if we could lofe, we fhould only be the more furely miserable: for ftill the Foundation of them would remain unfhaken.
Still it would be true, that there is a God, who made us, and is at all Times intimately prefent with us: who therefore with unfpeakably more Eafe perceives all that paffes in our very Hearts, than we do one another's outward Actions: who being perfect in Knowledge, distinguishes, in every Cafe, 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 fome Degree: and his infinite Purity must therefore be infinitely more fo. Now what he hates, he can punish 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 fame Yesterday, To-day, and for
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 fo deep a Senfe of what will follow, if we difobey them; fuffer us, after this, to defpife and dishonour him, to injure his Creatures, abufe ourselves, and difappoint the great Defign of forming us; and yet take no Notice? Doth he govern the World, to the very leaft Parts of it, with so much Wisdom and Care, in every other Respect; and he will be fo unwife and negligent, as to overlook the one Thing, that deferves his Attention above all; and make no Distinction between him that ferveth God, and him that ferveth him not? It cannot be: and the Confcience of every one of you, at this Moment, tells you it cannot.
If then fuch a Diftinction will be made, when and where will it be made? Here, in this World, it plainly e Heb. xiii. 8. f Mal. iii. 18.
is not done, to a Degree, that the Almighty Governor of it can poffibly think fufficient. Perpetually we fee just 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 Earnefts of its Jufice at prefent; referving the full Vindication and Difplay of itfelf for that future State, in which our Souls, being naturally immortal, are evidently deftined to exift; and where all Men fhall 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 lefs all Mankind, even in their darkest Ignorance, have always had fome Perfuafion of a future Recompence: which, however mixed with Errors, yet, being thus univerfal and lafting, must have been grounded in Nature and Truth. And the wifer and better any Perfons were, amongst the Heathens, the ftronger and more rational Belief they had of this Doctrine: which yet was not owing merely to their Wishes, and their Hopes for the worft of Sinners, that were the farthest from defiring a juft Reward hereafter, feared it, whether they would or not. Thus we find it recorded of a very wicked Heathen, that when Paul reasoned of Righteouf nefs,and Temperance, and Judgment to come, Felix trembled.
But ftill, while the Evidence of this great Article confifted wholly in mere human Reasonings, about a Matter that was out of Sight: bad Perfons, though they. could not help at fome 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 Perfons, though they might have Hope fufficient to influence them in common Cafes; yet often had not sufficient to fupport them under harder Duties, and heavier
Eccl. viii. 14.
Acts xxiv. 25.