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Lastly, the Wisdom of God is most manifest herein : Whereby this Mystery becomes not only just but rational. For by this fatal Example, Mankind cannot but be made fenfible, how subject they are to Temptations, and how prone to Sin. That therefore, if, what they naturally desire, an extraordinary Reward of their Obedience be expected, the hopes of which must be founded in a revealed Covenant; it can be obtained no otherwise than in vertue of a Covenant, wherein frequent remission of Sin and Disobedience may be bestowed, upon Repentance and Reformation; and Mercy allowed to Sinners, until they should appear absolutely incorrigible. That therefore, neither plenary Rewards nor Punishments could be dispensed in this Life; and if either were desired, they must necessarily be deferred till after Death. A Truth, which Mankind would very hardly have been convinced of, had not the Example and Fall of Adam taught it to us : So naturally are Men led to imagine their Supreme Happiness to consist in the perpetual fruition of those worldly Pleasures and Enjoyments, which they now so much value; and to suspect the Truth of those Promises, the performance of which they cannot receive till after Death. Whereas now,

Whereas now, neither the Wifdom of God, nor the Reason of things, can permit it to be otherwise, which I will endeavour to Thew in discoursing upon the Şecond Head proposed, namely in manifesting.

II. The

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II. The Justice and Wisdom of the Divine Decree, of deferring the execution of Judgment till after Death, and not dispensing the final Rewards and Punishments of Man in this Life. It is appointed unto Man once to die; but after that, and not before, the Judgment. The continual Infirmities and Temptations incident to Mankind, the daily Sins committed by us, and the fatal Example of our first Parent Adam, not able to retain his Primitive Innocence under so many and so great Advantages, evidently cause us to perceive that few, or rather none, would ever attain to Happiness, if that were bestowed in reward to unfinning Obedience only. That therefore, to make


considerable Mankind partakers of this Reward, it was necessary that God should proclaim an Universal Pardon to penitent Sinners, and fore. go the Punishment due to former Sins, if an earnest Abhorrence of them, and truc Reformation of Life did fucceed. If notwithstanding all the highest demonstrations of repeated Mercy, and frequent Pardon of Sins, our Saviour still assureth us, that strait is the Gate and narrow is the Way, which leaa deth unto Life, and few there be which find it: How unaccesible would it be if every single Act of Disobedience defeated the hopes of it, and laid us open to the utmost Execution of the Divine Wrath ? If therefore we desire that this merciful dealing should be continued to us; if a Covenant of this nature be


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Eitablished; it is impossible that the final Rei wards and Punishments of Men should be dispensed in this Life.

For if a proportionate Punishment should immediately follow the Commission of every Sin in this Life ; how can God be said to pardon Our Offences, and await our Amendment ? Or if it should not attend it, how can exemplary Justice be executed here, since we suppose it not to be executed hereafter? Or if God should presently crown every good a&tion with as great a degree of Happiness, as the present State of Human Nature will receive; what shall be done, when such a Perfon shall exchange his Piety for Vice, or Wickedness? Or if the Reward of Temporal Happiness should not be inseparably annexed to a vertuous course of Life; how can God be faid to reward Vertue in this Life? Must God as often change the Scenes of Human Life, as Man changeth the Incli. nations of his Will? Assuredly such an inconstant Proceeding would derogate as much from the Honour of God, as the Quiet of the World. Or must God await the last Scene of every Mans Life, wherein to display ei. ther his Favour or Anger to him, when the Shortness of the remaining Time defeats the Possession of any great Reward, and rescues the Delinquent from the Misery of his Punishment ? So that it is impossible to difpenle the Rewards and infict the Punishments of Men in this Life, but where Re


wards and Happiness are annexed to unsinning Obedience only.

Again, such a manner of proceeding is not only unpracticable, but unuseful, even for those Ends for which it is commonly propofed ; namely, to manifest the Justice of God, to vindicate the Innocence of Men, to deterr them from Sin and Wickedness, and to allure them to Piety and Holiness. For such is the Dissimulation of Men, so secret are many of the most enormous Sins, so usual is it to palliate the most horrid Crimes, and not only to conceal them from the knowledge of the World, but to create a contrary Opinion of Holiness and Integrity; that no Discrimination could be made by Rewards and Punishments in this Life, which might conduce to any of the Ends before-mentioned.

Hypocrites are no less odious to God than the most prophane and debauched Sinners, and are perhaps in no less Number. Now, as it would be unreasonable to bestow any Reward upon these, least the Justice of God should be called in question for suffering ap. parent Vertue to pass unrewarded ; so it would be impossible to hinder Men from, censuring the Divine Dispensations in relation to them, while they retained a false Opinion of their supposed Merits. How many Innocent and Worthy Persons are oppressed, calumniated, and generally esteemed the worst of Men? whom if God Mould therefore re. fuse to Reward, his Justice would be destroy


ed; if he Rewarded them, while labouring under these false Suspicions, the Opinion of his Justice would perish. If then Piety and Wickedness may be hid from the Eyes of Men; if contrary Judgments may be to easily and so often framed of their Merits and Demerits; the Justice of God can in no wise appear in dispensing Rewards or Punishments to them ; no Argument can be thence framed in favour of Vertue or diminution of Vice, until the Secrets of all Hearts be disclosed and laid open, which the present Circumstances of this Life will not permit.

Not only is the Execution of Judgment in this Life incongruous to the Mercy and Justice of God, but also the Nature of the Rewards and Punishments to be bestowed or inflicted.

And first, it is impossible that Punishments should be imposed upon the Wicked in this Life, proportionate to the Greatness of their Demerits. Every single Sin committed against the infinite Majesty of God by a Creature and Dependant of his own, is of an infinite Guilt, and therefore in Justice requires a not inferiour Degree of Punishment. Whereas an infinite Punishment cannot be suffered in this Life; and then how shall a Sinner answer for Ten Thousand Sins of equal Guilt? If we place the Execution of Punishment in destroying the Existence of a Sinner ; this is so far from being terrible, that many have placed the utmost Degree


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