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Sec. 1. V. The justice of God, as governor of the world, inferreth different rewards hereafter, as I have largely elsewhere proved. 1. God is not only a mover of all that moveth, but a moral ruler of man by laws, and judgment, and executions, else there were no proper law of nature, which few are so unnatural as to deny ; and man should have no proper duty, but only motion as he is moved. And then, how cometh a government by laws to be set up under God by men? And then there were no sin or fault in any; for if there were no law and duty, but only necessitated motion, all would be moved as the mover pleased, and there could be no sin ; and then there would be no moral good, but forced or necessary motion. But all this is most absurd ; and experience telleth us that God doth de facto, morally govern the world; and his right is unquestionable.
Sect. 2. And if God were not the ruler of the world, by law and judgment, the world would have no universal laws, for there is no man that is the universal ruler : and then kings and other supreme powers would be utterly lawless and ungoverned, as having none above them to give them laws, and so they would be capable of no sin or fault, and of no punishment; which yet neither their subjects' interest, nor their own consciences will grant, or allow them thoroughly to believe.
Sect. 3. And if God be a ruler, he is just; or else he were not perfect, nor so good, as he requireth princes and judges on earth to be. An unjust ruler or judge is abominable to all mankind. Righteousness is the great attribute of the universal King.
Sect. 4. But how were he a righteous ruler, 1. If he drew all men to obey him by deceit? 2. If he obliged them to seek and expect a felicity or reward which he will never give them? 3. Ir he make man's duty his misery? 4. If he require him to labor in vain ?
5. If he suffer the wicked to prosecute his servants to the death, and make duty costly, and give no after recompense ? 3. If he let the most wicked on the earth pass unpunished, or to escape as well hereafter as the best, and to live in greater pleasure here? The objections fetched from the intrinsical good of duty I have elsewhere answered.
Sect. 1. VI. But God hath not left us to the light of mere nature, as being too dark for men as blind as we. The gospel revelation is
the clear foundation of our faith and hopes. Christ hath brought life and immortality to light. One from heaven that is greater than an angel was sent to tell us what is there, and which is the way to secure our hopes. He hath risen, and conquered death, and entered before as our captain and forerunner into the everlasting habitations. And he hath all power in heaven and earth, and all judgment is committed to him, that he might give eternal life to his elect. He hath frequently and expressly promised it them, that they shall live because he liveth, and shall not perish but have everlasting life. (Matt. xxviii. 18; John v. 22, xvii. 2, xii. 26, ïï. 16; Rom. viii. 35—38.) And how fully he hath proved and sealed the truth of his word and office to us, I have so largely opened in my Reasons of the Christian Religion,' and 'Unreasonableness of Infidelity, and in my ‘Life of Faith,' &c.; and since, in my Household Catechising,' that I will not here repeat it.
Sect. 2. And as all his word is full of promises of our future glory at the resurrection, so we are not without assurance that at death the departing soul doth enter upon a state of joy and blessedness. “They that died to (or in the flesh according to men, do live in the Spirit according to God.” (1 Pet. iv. 6.) For,
1. He expressly promised the penitent, crucified thief, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke xxiii. 43.)
2. He gave us the narrative or parable of the damned sensualist, and of Lazarus, (Luke xvi.,) to instruct us, and not to deceive us.
3. He tells the Sadducees that God is not the God of the dead (as his subjects and beneficiaries) but of the living. (Matt. xxii. 32.)
4. Enoch and Elias were taken up to heaven, and Moses that died, appeared with Elias on the mount. (Matt. xvii.)
5. He telleth us, (Luke xii. 4,) that they that kill the body, are not able to kill the soul. Indeed, if the soul were not immortal, the resurrection were impossible. It might be a new creation of another soul, but not a resurrection of the same, if the same be annihilated. It is certain that the Jews believed the immortality of the soul, in that they believed the resurrection and future life of the same man.
6. And Christ's own soul was commended into his Father's hands, (Luke xxiii. 46,) and was in paradise, when his body was in the grave, to show us what shall become of ours.
7. And he hath promised, that where he is, there shall his servants be also. (John xii. 26.) And that the life here begun in us is eternal life, and that he that believeth in him shall not die, but shall live by him, as he liveth by the Father, for he dwelleth in God, and God in him, and in Christ, and Christ in him. (John xvii. 3, and vi. 54, and iii. 16, 36, and vi. 47, 50, 56, 57; 1 John iv. 12, 13; Luke xvii. 21; Rom. xiv. 17.)
8. And accordingly, Stephen that saw heaven opened, prayed the Lord Jesus to receive his spirit. (Acts vii. 55, 59.)
9. And we are come to Mount Sion, &c., to an innumerable conipany of angels, and to the spirits of the just made perfect. (Heb. xii. 22, 23.)
10. And Paul here desireth to depart and be with Christ as far better. And to be absent from the body, and be present with the Lord. (2 Cor. v. 8.)
11. And the dead that die in the Lord are blessed, from henceforth, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.
12. And if the disobedient spirits be in prison, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, (1 Pet. iii. 19; Jude 7,) then the just have eternal life. And if the Jews had not thought the soul immortal, Saul had not desired the witch to call up Samuel to speak with him. The rest I now pass by. We have many great and precious promises on which a departed soul
13. And (Luke xvi. 9,) Christ expressly saith, that when we fail, (that is, must leave this world,) we shall be received into the everlasting habitations.
Sect. 1. VII. And it is not nothing to encourage us to hope in him that hath made all these promises, when we find how he heareth prayers in this life, and thereby assureth his servants that he is their true and faithful Saviour. We are apt in our distress to cry loud for mercy and deliverances, and when human help faileth, to promise God, that if he now will save us, we will thankfully acknowledge it his work, and yet when we are delivered, to return not only to security, but to ingratitude, and think that our deliverance came but in
the course of common providence, and not indeed as an answer to our prayers. And therefore God in mercy reneweth both our distresses and our deliverances, that what once or twice will not convince us of, many and great deliverances may. This is my own
Oh, how oft have I cried to him when men and means were nothing, and when no help in second causes did appear, and how oft, and suddenly, and mercifully hath he delivered me! What sudden ease, what removal of long afflictions have I had! such extraordinary changes, and beyond my own and others' expectations, when many plain-hearted, upright Christians have, by fasting and prayer, sought God on my behalf, as have over and over convinced me of special providence, and that God is indeed a hearer of prayers. And wonders I have seen done for others also, upon such prayers, more than for myself, yea, and wonders for the church and public societies. Though I and others are too like those Israelites, (Psalm lxxviii.,) who cried to God in their troubles, and he oft delivered them out of their distresss, but they quickly forgot his mercies, and their convictions, purposes, and promises, when they should have praised the Lord for his goodness, and declared his works with thanksgiving to the sons of men.
And what were all these answers and mercies but the fruits of Christ's power, fidelity, and love, the fulfillings of his promises, and the earnest of the greater blessings of immortality, which the same promises give me title to.
I know that no promise of hearing prayer setteth up our wills in absoluteness, or above God's, as if every will of ours must be fulfilled if we do but put it into a fervent or confident prayer; but if we ask any thing through Christ, according to his will, expressed in his promise, he will hear us. If a sinful love of this present life, or of ease, ur wealth, or honor, should cause me to pray to God against death, or against all sickness, want, reproach, or other trials, as if I must live here in prosperity for ever if I ask it, this sinful desire and expectation is not the work of faith, but of presumption. What if God will not abate me my last, or daily pains? What if he will continue my life no longer, whoever pray for it, and how earnestly soever? Shall I therefore forget how oft he hath heard prayers for
me? and how wonderfully he hath helped both me and others? My faith hath oft been helped by such experiences, and shall I forget them? or question them without cause at last ?
Sect. VIII. And it is a subordinate help to my belief of immortality with Christ, to find so much evidence that angels have friendly communion with us here, and therefore we shall have communion with them hereafter. (Psalm xxxiv. 7, and xci. 11, 12; Luke xv. 10; 1 Cor. xi. 10; Heb. i. 14, and xii. 22, and xii. 2; Matt. xviii. 10, and xxv. 31, and xiii. 39, 49; Acts v. 19, and viïi. 26, and xii. 7, 23.) They have charge of us, and pitch their tents about us; they bear us up; they rejoice at our repentance; they are the regardful witnesses of our behavior; they are ministering spirits for our good ; they are our angels beholding the face of our heavenly Father. They will come with Christ in glorious attendance at the great and joyful day, and, as his executioners, they will separate the just from the unjust.
And it is not only the testimony of Scripture by which we know their communion, with us, but also some degree of experience. Not only of old did they appear to the faithful as messengers from God, but of late times there have been testimonies of their ministration
Of which see Zanchy de Angelis, and Mr. J. Ambrose, of our communion with angels. Many a mercy doth God give us by their ministry, and they that are now so friendly to us, and suitable to our communion and help, and make up one society with us, do hereby greatly encourage us to hope that we are made for the same region, work, and company with these our blessed, loving friends. They were once in a life of trial, it seems, as we are now, though not on earth. (Jude 6; 2 Pet. ii. 4.) And they that overcame and are confirmed rejoice in our victory and confirmation. It is not an uninhabited world which is above us, nor such as is beyond our capacity and hope. We are come to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of the perfected just, who together have discreet quantity, or numerical difference, notwithstanding their happy union and communion.
Sect. 1. IX. And Satan himself, though unwillingly, hath many ways helped my belief of our immortality, and future hopes.*
* The particulars of this argument are omitted.--Ed.