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of the disputers of this world can deny: therefore, reason teaches, that, as God cannot be thought indifferent to the conduct of such miscreants, nor likely to forget it, there must be a reckoning for them hereafter; and IN ORDER TO THAT RECKONING, if for no other reason, a resurrection of the dead.
But there are other reasons enough, and one connected with the last mentioned of no small importance in my estimation. For if a resurrection may be thought necessary in respect of the punishment of transgressions and those who have taken more than their share of the good things of this life, how much rather should it be thought so in respect of those who have been sufferers for the present on either account: that is, either through the persecution of unrighteous and cruel men, or in consequence of the waste, rapacity, and selfishness of others who might not be cruelly disposed altogether, though they contrive somehow to intercept the blessings of Providence, and prevent much good, if they do not effect much evil, or not, however, intentionally. For, considering these particulars, it is credible that the Deity decreeing as usual not according to their intrinsic merit, but according to his own purpose and grace, shed forth to them in Christ Jesus, before the world began, (Tim. II. i. 9,) will have ordained for those sufferers in the present life, as he did for Lazarus (Luke xvi. 22) an happier reversion in the life to come.
In short, sound reason, which is never at variance with the genuine word of God, appears even more decided on this question than on many others, loudly declaring, that God both can and will "raise the dead;" however "incredible a thing" it may be thought by the generality of mankind and that, to doubt this fact, however common it may be, is not only absurd as to the thing itself, but highly injurious to the character of the Deity in this respect. For a doubt of that kind would imply such an indifference to the crimes of one portion of his earthly
subjects, and to the consequent sufferings of another portion as no being upon earth who had any regard for his character would like to be charged with. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. xviii. 25,) said Abraham. This is not to be doubted: and it is impossible that any thing can prosper with those who will entertain nevertheless a doubt so injurious to the reputation of our Great Benefactor, "the Judge of all the earth."
"Go thy way: and as thou hast believed, so be it done. unto thee," (Matt. viii. 13,) may be said after every one as he descends into the mansions of the dead. For according to his belief will his life have been here, whether most for the present or for a future state: and according to his life here, will his portion be hereafter, whether it have been good. or evil. For good cannot come of evil; nor evil of good. An injurious opinion of the Deity, like that of making him indifferent to the fortune and conduct of his rational creatures is a great evil in itself, and the foundation of others; as a departure from the Lord our God. "It is a root that beareth gall and wormwood:" (Deut. xxix. 18:) as first, a total disbelief in the resurrection and a future state. For, if God be indifferent to all that is done, whether right or wrong upon earth, why should he think of calling men back again, after they are gone to their LONG HOME, and the wicked especially whose presence is so hateful? The next consequence is, that of every one's
doing that which seemeth good in his own eyes," when he would not rather be doing that which seemeth evil, without any regard to the laws either of God or man. And what the consequence of that may be, I leave every one to guess who has the slightest turn for reflection,anarchy and confusion in the body politic; in the cases of individuals nothing but folly and weariness here, with suffering and disgrace hereafter; no salutary fear to restrain, no blessed hope to animate, no consistent rule to direct them through life: but all their days wasted in vain pursuits, or slumbered away like a long winter night,
and bewailed with fruitless tears before they began to be enjoyed. Thus is their present state made miserable to them and if they lived only for that, they cannot have lived wisely; to say nothing of the future.
One good rule for enjoying life, is to look beyond it, without forgetting the present and intermediate space; to keep a steady eye always on the horizon of our joys, as we steer forward, and never slacken our course nor contract our view, till we arrive on the blessed shores of eternity, and expectation is crowned with new objects worthy of our improved apprehension. Else, we shall be like a silly pilot steering by the foam of his own prow in the midst of rocks and tempests: we shall find no great comfort in our existence; and, what is worse, from our perpetual embarrassment with the concerns of the moment we shall make no great progress towards its proper end or object; we shall never obtain a joyful resurrection. We shall not obtain, because we do not regard it: we do not regard, because we do not believe it: we do not believe, because we mistake the Author of it,-in supposing he may be indifferent to aught that concerns the well-being and welldoing of his subjects or creatures. Only by one false principle- an injurious opinion of the Deity, we forfeit our inheritance with the saints in light; and even miss the enjoyment of those common benefits which he sheds in our way at present.
Another point, therefore, for all who regard their own happiness is, to be correct in the choice of their first principle, and to derive their consequent opinions and practice from it as simply and directly, as if there was no other. GOD IS JUST AND GOOD. Let that be our first principle and a belief in the resurrection will naturally follow. Believing in the resurrection will naturally induce us to think of it, and thinking thus sincerely will so far influence our lives, that we can hardly fail of obtaining it. We are poor frail creatures certainly-mere vessels of earth liable to be broken and cast out of sight; but break
when we will, we cannot be lost, having the principle of life and immortality within us. We may also well be alarmed sometimes if we have any thought or consideration, at the prospect of a future reckoning, and wish almost, like the atheist, that our dust could never be reunited, for such is the infirmity of human nature. But the predominance of faith will soon shew itself again. We shall "remember the years of the right hand of the Most High:" (Ps. lxxvii. 10:) and secure in the scuse of his favour await our final sentence, not with fear and alarm, but with love which casteth out fear, (John I. iv. 18,) with joy, with hope, and pleasing expectation.
MERCY AND JUDGMENT.
My song shall be of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, will I sing."
Ps. ci. 1.
ONCE, as the royal Psalmist was disposed to be "inditing of a good matter," and rather uncertain perhaps what subject to take, it came into his heart by the direction of the Holy Spirit, that to the honour and praise of his Maker he would take up two subjects at once. "My song shall be of mercy and judgment (thought he): unto thee, O Lord, will I sing." So let our thoughts be employed, too, for this time; that is, on Mercy and Judgment, like the songs of the royal Psalmist in general. For his song is not particularly marked with these topics in the present passage; neither had it need so to be, considering his frequent allusion to the subject; whereby he was prevented from pursuing it with connection and method, as may be done in a special discourse. Having, therefore, this advantage in some measure still remaining, (for it is partly
consumed in other attempts,) I now propose to avail myself of the same again, so far as to lay before you the fullest and most orderly account that I can without repetition of these two strictly united topics, Judgment and Mercy, as kindred attributes of the Sovereign of the state for which I am an envoy or ambassador, that is, the Kingdom of God in Christ. And if the difficulty of pro- . secuting two topics, and topics, too, of their importance, at once be considerable, the utility of this combination will appear no less, seeing the principles they describe are calculated to modify and restrain each other's effect in theory as well as in practice, and in anticipation as well as experience.
We could have no idea of the depth of God's judgments if we had none of the measures of his mercy; nor of the riches of his mercy, if we had none of the depth and irreversibility of his judgments. If we anticipated, and really anticipated, nothing but judgment from the Sovereign of the universe, our present suffering might be of a piece with our present doing, that is to little good purpose; and we should be dead, or worse than dead, while we live; being through fear of death, all our lifetime subject to bondage:" (Heb. ii. 15:) as on the other hand, if we expected from the same highest authority nothing but mercy and indulgence for our every deed, there being none entitled to a fair reward, we should be but the more likely to experience in reality that awful consequence hereafter of which in the other case we must have been all our lifetime afraid. The foundation of judgment and mercy is the same, being the guiltiness of their object, before God; which makes every dispensation of his providence to be necessarily either one or the other, v. g., either judgment or mercy, according to its tenour,-judgment, if evil to the object; merey, if good: there is no room, except in
• Christian Modes, Part 2, Chap. i. § 3. 2. 2.9; and Kingdom Sermons on the Resurrection and Lord's Prayer.