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us. Many men are gone fo far in an evil course, that neither fhame of their vices, nor the love of God and virtue, nor the hopes of heaven are of any force with them, to reclaim them, and bring them to a better mind: But there is one handle yet left, whereby to lay hold of them, and that is their fear. This is a paffion that lies deep in our nature, being founded in felf-prefervation, and sticks fo closely to us, that we cannot quit ourselves of it, nor fhake it off. Men may put off ingenuity, and break through all obligations of gratitude. Men may harden their foreheads, and conquer all fenfe of fhame; but they can never perfectly stifle and fubdue their fears; they can hardly fo extinguifh the fear of hell, but that fome fparks of that fire will ever and anon be flying about in their confciences, especially when they are made fober, and brought to themselves by afAliction, and by the prefent apprehenfions of death have a nearer fight of another world. And if it was fo hard for the Heathen to conquer thefe apprehenfions, how much harder muft it be to Chriftians, who have so much greater affurance of these things, and to whom the wrath of God is fo clearly revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteoufness of men?
Fifthly, No religion in the world ever urged this argument upon men, with that force and advantage which Chriftianity does. The philofophy of the Heathen gave men no fteady affurance of the thing, the moft knowing perfons among them were not agreed about a future ftate; the greatest part of them fpake but doubtfully concerning another life. And befides the natural jealoufies and fufpicions of mankind concerning these things, they had only fome fair probabilities of reafon, and the authority of their Poets, who talkt they knew not what about the Elyfian fields, and the infernal regions, and the three judges of hell; fo that the wifett among them had hardly afurance enough in themselves of the truth of the thing, to press it upon others with any great confidence, and therefore it was not likely to have any great efficacy upon the generality of mankind.
As for the Jewish religion; though that fuppofed and took for granted the rewards of another world, as a principle of natural religion; yet in the law of Mofes there was no particular and exprefs revelation of the life of the world to come; and what was deduced from it, was by remote and obfcure confequence. Temporal promifes and threatenings it had many and clear, and their eyes were fo dazzled with thefe, that it is probable that the generality of them did. but little confider a future ftate, till they fell into great tem-poral calamities under the Grecian and Roman empires, whereby they were almoft neceffarily awakened to the confideration and hopes of a better life, to relieve them under their prefent evils and fufferings; and yet even in that time they were divided into two great factions about this matter, the one affirming, and the other as confidently denying any life after this. But the gospel hath brought life and immortality to light, as we are affured from heaven of the truth and reality of another state, and a future judgment. The Son of God was fent into the world to preach this doctrine, and rofe again from the dead, and was taken up into heaven, for a visible demonstration to all mankind of another life after this, and confequently of a future judgment, which no man ever doubted of, that did firmly believe a future ftate.
The fum of all that I have faid is this; the gospel hath plainly declared to us, that the only way to fal vation is by forfaking our fins, and living a holy and virtuous life; and the most effectual argument in the world to perfuade men to this, is the confideration of the infinite danger that a finful courfe expofeth men to, fince the wrath of God continually hangs over finners, and if they continue in their fins, will certainly fall upon them, and overwhelm them with mifery, and he that is not moved by this argument, is loft to all intents and purposes.
All that now remains is, to urge this argument upon men, and from the ferious confideration of it, to perfuade them to repent, and reform their wicked lives. And was there ever age wherein this was
more needful? when iniquity doth not only abound, but even rage among us; when infidelity and profaneness, and all manner of lewdnefs and vice, appears fo boldly and openly, and men commit the greatest abominations without blufhing at them when vice hath got fuch head, that it can hardly bear to be checked and controlled, and when, as the Roman hiftorian complains of his times, ad ea tempora, quibus nec vitia noftra, nec remedia, pati poffumus, perventum eft; "things are come to that pafs, that we can neither bear our vices, nor the remedies "of them?" Our vices are grown to a prodigious and intolerable height, and yet men hardly have the patience to hear of them; and furely a difeafe is then dangerous indeed, when it cannot bear the feverity that is neceffary to a cure, But yet, notwithstanding this, we who are the meffengers of God to men, to warn them of their fin and danger, muft not keep filence, and fpare to tell them both of their fins, and of the judgment of God which hangs over them that God will visit for thefe things, and that his foul will be avenged on fuch a nation as this. At least we may have leave to warn others, who are not yet run to the fame excess of riot, to fave themselves from this untoward generation. God's judgments are abroad in the earth, and call aloud upon us to learn righteousness.
But this is but a small confideration, in compari fon of the judgment of another world, which we who call ourfelves Chriftians do profefs to believe, as one of the chief articles of our faith. The confideration of this fhould check and cool us in the heat of all our finful pleasures; and that bitter irony of Solo mon fhould cut us to the heart, Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart chear thee in the days. of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the fight of thine eyes; but know that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Think often and seriously on that time, wherein the wrath of God, which is now revealed against fin, shall be executed upon finners; and if we believe this, we are frangely stupid and obftinate, if we be not moved
The affurance of this made St. Paul extremely importunate in exhorting men to avoid so great danger, 2 Cor. v. 10. 11. We must all appear before the judgment-feat of Chreft, that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or evil. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, we perfuade men. And if this ought to move us to take fo great a care of others, much more of ourselves. The judgment to come is a very amazing confideration, it is a fearful thing to hear of it, but it will be much more terrible to fee it, especially to thofe whofe guilt must needs make them fo heartily concerned in the dismal confequences of it; and yet as fure as I ftand, and you fit here, this great and terrible day of the Lord will come, and who may abide his coming! what will we do, when that day fhall furprize us careless and unprepared! what unfpeakable horror and amazement will then take hold of us! when lifting up our eyes to heaven, we shall fee the Son of man coming in the clouds of it, with power and great glory; when that powerful voice, which fhall pierce the ears of the dead, fhall ring through the world, Arife ye dead, and come to judgment when the mighty trumpet fhall found, and wake the fleepers of a thoufand years, and fummon the difperfed parts of the bodies of all men that ever lived, to rally together and take their place; and the fouls and bodies of men which have been fo long ftrangers to one another, fhall meet and be united again, to receive the doom due to their deeds; what fear fhall then fur prize finners, and how will they tremble at the prefence of the great Judge, and for the glory of his Majefty! how will their confciences fly in their faces, and their own hearts condemn them, for their wicked and ungodly lives, and even prevent that fentence which yet fhall certainly be paffed and executed upon them! But I will proceed no farther in this argument, which hath fo much of terror in it...
I will conclude my fermon, as Solomon doth his Ecclefiaftes, chap. xii. 13, 14. Let us hear the con
clufion of the whole matter; fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man; for God fhall bring every work into judgment, and every fecret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. To which I will only add that ferious and merciful admonition of a greater than Solomon, I mean the great Judge of the whole world, our bleffed Lord and Saviour, Luke xxi. 34, 35, 36. Take heed to yourfelves, left at any time your hearts be overchárged with furfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and fo that day come upon you at unawares. For as a fnare fhall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man : To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghoft, oc.
SER MON CXIII.
Knowledge and practice neceffary in reli
JOHN xiii. 17.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
WO things make up religion, the knowledge and practice of it; and the firft is wholly in order to the fecond; and God hath not revealed to us the knowledge of himself and his will, merely for the improvement of our understanding, but for the bettering of our hearts and lives; not to entertain our minds with the fpeculations of religion and virtue, but to form. and govern our actions. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
In which words our bleffed Saviour does from a particular inftance, take occafion to fettle a general conclufion; namely, that religion doth mainly con