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think, will not be of an indolent, but of an active
over many things : enter thou into the joy of “: thy Lord.” Speaking concerning the fame. subject, he says, Matt. xxiv. 45. 66 Who then is " a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord " hath made ruler over his houfhold, to give them
meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, “ whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so “ doing. Verily I say unto you, that he thall 6o make him ruler over all his goods.”
Considering the intelligent nature of man, and the pleasure we naturally take in the acquisition of
knowledge, it can hardly be suppofed, but that an enlarged acquaintance with the works and providence of God, will make a confiderable part of the happiness of the wise and good hereafter. We shall, probably, have the best opportunity of gaining a thorough knowledge of the constitution, and mutual relations of things in the world that we inhabit; and having it in our power to converse with the chief actors in all great events, we shall be better acquainted with the true history of the world, and may thereby better trace the wonderful conduct of divine providence in all the affairs of it.
Lastly, if our natures be at all the same that they are now, we shall, no doubt, receive the highest satisfaction from converfing with our wise and virtuous acquaintance, talking over the transactions in which we were concerned in this world; when all the labours, fatigues, and sufferings, which we underwent, in the cause of virtue and christianity, will, like the recollection of all difficulties surmounted in a good cause at present, be the source of great joy and exultation.
That all the virtuous will not be admitted to the same degree of honour and happiness hereafter, is agreeable both to reason, and to the scriptures, which teach us, that every man shall receive “ ac“cording to his works;" that he who “ soweth “ bountifully, thall reap also bountifully; but he
" that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly.” 2 Cor. ix. 6.
On the other hand, the punishment of the wicked is described in the scriptures, in such a manner, as, if the representation be at all attended to, cannot but aların our fears to the utmost. But still the terms are general, and leave us to expect some very terrible, but unknown suffering, and of very long, but uncertain duration.
Not unfrequently, the anguish of the mind, which is to be the portion of the wicked after death, is represented as derived, in a great degree, from a sense of their exclusion from the happiness, to which they see the virtuous, who had been the objects of their contempt and abuse, advanced ; and this circumstance must necessarily be a very great aggravation of the punishment of hell, which is the term by which the place of future punishment is Sometimes denominated in the scriptures. Thus, when the good and virtuous are represented as going to a marriage supper, the wicked are said to be shut out, and to remain in “outer darkness, where « Ihall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. xxii. 13. This, also, is said to be the fate of the unprofitable servant, who had neglected to improve his talent, Matt. xxv. 30. and of the five foolish virgins it is likewise said, that, coming too late, they found the door fhut, and admiffion refused to them.
But other accounts of the future state of the wicked, lead us to expect very severe positive sufferings, as 2 Theff. i. 7. “ In that day shall the “ Lord Jesus be revealed from heaven, with his « mighty angels, in Aaming fire, taking vengeance
on them that know not God, and that obey not “ the gospel of our Lord Jesus Chrift: who shall « be punished with everlasting destruction from " the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of « his power."
In several passages of the scripture, the state of the wicked after death is described, as has been hinted before, as a state of Mame and disgrace, than which nothing is generally more dreaded by mankind; while the righteous are said " not to be " alhamed before Christ at his coming.” 1 John ii. 28. And certainly the extreme folly of their conduct must appear in a striking and tormenting ., light to the wicked and profligate, when they shall see how shamefully they have misapplied their time and talents. And this fituation will more efpecially affect those who are used to pride themselves in their cunning and foresight, when they shall see how miserably narrow and short-fighted all their boasted schemes were. Also, how must the sense of their own folly be aggravated, by seeing those whom they had defpised inheriting the rewards of true wisdom, as well as of virtue, and in knowing that all their base views, and low un
worthy pursuits, are no longer concealed within their own breasts, but laid open to the perfect knowledge of all those to whose censure they are the most sensible.
Very many of those expressions, by which the fate of the wicked is described in the scriptures, taken in their literal sense, denote utter destruction, or extinction of being. Thus, the apostle Peter says, 2 Pet. iii. 7. that " the earth is reserv. “ ed unto fire, against the day of judgment, and
perdition of ungodly men;" and in the passage quoted above from the Epistle of Paul to the Ther. salonians, the punishment of the wicked is called “ everlasting destruction.” If this should actually be the fate of the wicked, their punishment may more properly be said to be eternal, than upon the former supposition, there being no reversion of the sentence, or remiffion of the rigour of it.
ing to the scriptures, as I observed before, will be very long, but uncertain; which is the general meaning of that word which we render everlasting ; being applied to niany things which are