« PreviousContinue »
the Giver of future Crowns of Glory and Feli-CHAP city: For they are adjudg'd, and are given; nevertheless it is requir'd in the Nature of Things, that a previous Tafte be contracted, a Temper and Conftitution fitted to render the Perfon capable of enjoying the Gift.
IT would, otherwise, seem a formal Piece of Pageantry to fummon all the World to Judg ment; only to tell the Righteous, and the Wicked, very gravely, that they fhould enjoy or fuffer the natural Pleafure and Pain refulting from their Actions, for the whole Duration of their Being, without any thing to interrupt. They knew that before they went out of the World; and the Judge's telling them fo, ever fo fententiously, makes neither of them one Syl lable better, nor worse, in their State. But, at the great Difcrimination of every Man accord ing to his Works Go you to this Hand- You curfed to the other Enter you Bleffed this Place of Joy-Dwell you in LightI cast you into outer DarknessTake you Dominion over five Cities You over ten Depart you to many Stripes -You to fewdiftinctly demonftrates on the Right Hand and the Left, additional, pofitive Pleasure and Pain of the highest Nature. If the punitive Pain, or recompenfing Pleasure and Glory were confin'd only to the Mind, retrofpecting its Actions in this World, and looking forward into the eternal State of its own Temper and Condition confequent upon thofe Actions; what need of the Refurrection of the Body, or folemn Severation to Places for ever feparate; if the Places themselves were not, together with the respective Treatment, juridically, pofitively remunerative, and vindictive?
BESIDES, if Rewards and Punishments were left wholly to natural Confequences of Mens Actions, then, as there is a Miscellany of good and bad Actions (more or lefs) in all Men, every Man would be both rewarded and punifh'd; which destroys the future Diftinction, and Allotment. That Diftinction therefore and Allotment can be fupported on nothing but an interpofing Judge, who knows the Thoughts of all Men, and makes folemn Severation and Diftribution, before all Men and Angels, to every Man according to his Works. Befides, what is it that makes Faith towards God, or towards our Lord Jefus Chrift, or Repentance from dead Works, or Obedience either to natural Religion, or to the Gospel, fo indifpenfable, but this quickning Article of Belief and Practice, the Refurrection of the Dead and a future Judgment? Inafmuch as without this final End and Account of our Actions, they would all be in vain, and of no Profit beyond the Grave. It is Unbelief with refpect to the Promifes of entring into Reft which conftituted the evil Heart of Unbelief, and for ever excluded from the Reft; fo the like Unbelief of the Deifts totally fubverts Natural Religion, and entirely vacates all the religious Effects of it, at the fame time it pretends to the Belief of God. But if they believe God the first Cause, they ought to confider him alfo as the last End of Man.
THUS God's judging the World in Righteouf nefs by the Man Chrift Jefus makes up the true Account to Reafon of his governing it. If he is the Governor, that implies Laws; and that fupposes some Sanctions in the Apprehenfion of thofe
who have a Senfe in their Hearts of thofe Laws: CHA P. If Laws, there muft of course be a Judge of XVI. Obedience, and Difobedience to them.
AND if the Judge himself, before he would take that Office upon him, came into the World first as a Mediator to teach thofe Laws: moft perfectly, and explicitly unfold those Sanctions as far as they could be apprehended by reafon of our bodily Imperfections; if he obey'd thofe Laws himself, according to which he would pass Sentence; and, if by his own Death he made Reconciliation for Tranfgreffions against them, upon Condition of renewing Obedience with fincere Repentance, and better Performance, as Men were able, and of believing in him (where Belief was proposed) who by the most divine Generofity did fo much to supply all their unavoidable Deficiencies; and if, before he left the World, he inftituted Means, Aids, Helps, and Inftruments for facilitating Mens Repentance, and improving their Devotion, and Obedience; then he might well return to Heaven, and before God, and Man take upon him the Reins of Government and Judgment over Man, as the fitteft King and Judge that could be elected by either of them.
Ira Judge, then, inevitably follow those pofitive fenfible Retributions, visible Glory, Honour and Diftinction of the Good from the Bad, in the audible Sentence, visible Effects, and eternal Marks of God's Favour, and Displeasure towards our Behaviour in this Life. On the one Hand, seeing God as he is; being with Chrift, Crowns, Rivers of Pleafure, &c. On the other Hand, Darkness, Companionship of Devils, Dif
CHAP grace and Gnashing of Teeth; Lakes of Fire and XVI. Brimstone, &c. capable of communicating eter
nal Felicity, and everlasting Anguish, as well to the raised fenfible Body, as to the rational reflecting Soul. A joyful, and a dreadful Hearing the final Ends of our feveral Actions! And thofe are the external Motives I have been treating of.
BUT tho they are external, yet being the Object and End of Actions, they are the first moral Motives that fet all to work; they are the End of us, and of our Actions, therefore tie us unto God our Governor, our Actions to his Laws and Covenant; making our Ac tions Morality or Duty, and us, knowing thofe Confequences, and confcious of thofe Obligations, moral, accountable Agents. They are the final Difference and Diftinction, State and Allotment of moral Good and Evil; being the recompenfing Poffeffion of the greatest Good, or greatest Evil, God, or the Devil, and of the Virtue in Action and Difpofition, of following thofe moral Commands or Imitations of God, which are Directions to that chiefeft Good; or of the contrary Vice of not following them; which inevitably, with open and everlafting Diftinction, plunges into the greatest Evil. They are the ultimate, therefore most capital Motives that govern and controul the leffer inferior ones of Life; to poife the Defires, and to balance the Paffions that are engaged about the fubordi nate Means and Ends, the Things of this Life, by fetting the Affection upon Things above; living not by Sight but Faith in another World, as it is open'd and revealed to the Chriftian, who has thofe exceeding great and precious Promifes made
over to him on purpose, to make him Partaker CHA P. of the Divine Nature; that feeing his Duty is XVI. incorporated into and animated by his Interest, it might the fooner take root in his indigent Nature, and cause it to grow up from lefs to greater Perfection, from a human to a Divine Nature. Every fubordinate End is a Motive to the Ufe of the Means fubfervient to that End; and when thefe fubordinate Ends are not purfued as ultimate refting Places, but progreffive to the great End, then they are duly influenced and regulated by it. And when the Influence of these Motives operates in Conjunction with the Means, Aids, Helps, and Inftruments mentioned in this Treatife, the happy Iffue is eternal Life.