« AnteriorContinuar »
bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, SERM. whether it be good, or whether it be evil. XXXII.
This judgment he expresseth indefinitely, so as not to determine the kind or time thereof; and as to the absolute force of his words, it may signify the decree of God, to reward or punish men here in this life, according to their deserts, the which in holy Scripture is commonly styled God's judgment; but the force of his arguments (or at least of some of them) plainly doth infer a future judgment after death; and so therefore I (hall take his fense to be, grounding thereon this observation, That from a wise consideration of human affairs, and obvious events here, we may collect the reasonableness, the equity, the expediency, the moral or prudential necessity of a future judgment, according to which men shall receive due recompenses, answerable to their demeanour in this life: this observation it (hall be my endeavour by God's help to declare, and prove by arguments deduced from the reason and nature of things.
First then, I fay, it is reasonable and equal, that there should be a future judgment: this will appear upon many accounts.
1. Seeing all men come hither without any knowledge or choice, having their life, as it were, obtruded on them; and ieeing ordinarily (according to the general complaints of men) the pains of this life do overbalance its pleasures; so that it seemeth, in regard to what men find here, a punissiment to be borna; it seemeth also thence Eccles. ir. equal, that men ssiould be put into a capacity, upon their jAb"ii""a'" good behaviour in this troublesome state, of a better state xv. 10. hereafter, in compensation for what they endure here; &c[ '' otherwise God might seem not to have dealt fairly with his creatures; and we might have some colour to expostulate, with Job; Wherefore is light given to him that is in Job iii. ao, misery, and life lo the bitter in foul? Why died I not from n'
• Vitam non mcherculc quisquam accepissct, nisi daretur insciis. Sen. ad Marc. M. Nemini contigit impune nasci. Ibid. 1 i.
SERM. the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came XXXII. out 0jtae ieHy?
2. Seeing man is endued with a free choice and power over his actions, and thence by a good or bad use thereof is capable of deserving well or ill, it is just that a respective difference be made, according to due estimation; and that men answerably should be proceeded with
Job iv. s. either here or hereafter, reaping the fruits of what they 8- " '' voluntarily did sow. There is a natural relation between Jer. uxii. merits and rewards, which must come under taxation, and
19. * m'
find effect, otherwise there would be no such thing as justice and injustice in the world.
3. Seeing there is a natural subordination of man to God, as of a creature to his maker, as of a subject or servant to his lord, as of a client or dependent to his patron, protector, and benefactor, whence correspondent obligations do result; it is just that men should be accountable for the performance, and for the violation or neglect of them; so as accordingly either to receive approbation, or to be obliged to render satisfaction; respectively, as they have done right, and payed respect to God, or as they have offered to wrong and dishonour him j otherwise those relations would seem vain and idle.
4. Seeing also there are natural relations of men to one another, and frequent transactions between them, founding several duties of humanity and justice; the which may be observed or transgressed; so that some men shall do, and others suffer much injury, without any possible redress from otherwhere, it is fit that a reference of such cases should be made to the common Patron of right, and that by him they should be so decided, that due amends should be made to one party, and fit correction inflicted
9 Theff. i. on the other; according to that of St. Paul; It is a 6>1' righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them
that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us,
in the revelation of our Lard Jesus.
5. Whereas also there are many secret good actions, many inward good dispositions, good wishes, and good purposes, unto which here no honour, no profit, no pleasure, no sort of benefit is annexed, or indeed well can be, SERM. (they being indiscernible to men;) there are likewise XXXII. many bad practices and designs concealed, or disguised, so as necessarily to pass away without any check, any disgrace, any damage or chastisement here; it is most equal that hereafter both these kinds should be disclosed, and obtain answerable recompense.
6. There are also persons whom, although committing grievous wrong, oppression, and other heinous misdemeanours, offensive to God and man, yet, by reason of the inviolable sacredness of their authority, or because of their uncontrollable power, no justice here can reach, nor punishment can touch; who therefore should be reserved to the impartial and irresistible judgment of God; and sit it is, that (for satisfaction of justice, and distinction of such, from those who contrariwise behave themselves
well) a Tophet should be prepared for them. Isa. «*.
7. Upon these and the like accounts, equity requireth 3athat a judgment should pass upon the deeds of men; and thereto the common opinions of men and the private dictates of each man's conscience do attest: for all men seeing any person to demean himself brutishly and unworthily, committing heinous disorders and outrages, are apt to pronounce it unfit, that such an one should escape with inmunity: likewise when innocent and good persons (who do no harm, and do what good they can) do suffer,
or do enjoy no benefit thence, it is a pity, will any indifferent person be ready to say, that such a man's cafe should not be considered; that some reparation or some reward should not be allotted to him: the which apprehensions of men are in effect the verdicts of common fense concerning the equity of a judgment to be.
8. Every man also having committed any notable misdemeanour, (repugnant to piety, justice, or sobriety,) doth naturally accuse himself for it, doth in his heart sentence himself to deserve punishment, and doth stand possessed with a dread thereof; so, even unwillingly, avouching the equity of a judgment, and by a forcible instinct presaging it to come. As likewise he that hath performed any virSERM. tuous or honest action, doth not only rest satisfied therein, XXXII. but hath raised in him a strong hope of benefit to come from heaven in recompense thereof; the which apprehensions and hopes do involve an opinion, that it is reasonable a judgment should be. All which considerations (seeing it is manifest that there is not generally or frequently any such exact judgment or dispensation of rewards in this life, nor perhaps, without changing the whole frame of things and course of Providence, can well be) do therefore infer the fitness and equity of a future judgment.
It is farther, upon divers accounts, requisite and needful, that men sliould have an apprehension concerning such a judgment appointed by God, and consequently that such an one sliould really be. It is requisite toward the good conduct of human affairs here, or to engage men to the practice of virtue; it is necessary to the maintaining any belief concerning religion, or sense of piety: without it therefore no convenient society among men can be well upheld.
I. It is, I fay, needful to engage men upon the practice of any virtue, and to restrain them from any vice; for that indeed without it, no consideration of reason, no provision of law here, can be much available to those purposes. He that will consider the nature of men, or observe their common practice, (marking what apprehensions usually steer them, what inclinations sway them, in their elections and pursuits of things,) sliall, I suppose, find, that from an invincible principle of self-love, or sensuality, deriving itself through all their motions of foul, and into all their actions of life, men generally do so strongly propend to the enjoyment of present sensible goods, that nothing but a presumption of some considerable benefit to be obtained by abstinence from them, or of some grievous mischief consequent on the embracing them, can withhold them from pursuing such enjoyment. From hence (seeing fancy, reason, and experience do all prompt men to a foresight of events, and force them to some regard of the consequences of things) it followeth, that hope and fear are the main springs, which set on work all the wheels of human SERM. action; so that any matter being propounded, if men can XXXII. hope that it will yield pleasant or profitable (that is, tending to pleasant) fruits, they will undertake it; if they do fear its consequences will be distasteful or hurtful, they will decline it: very rare it is to find, that the love or liking of a thing, as in itself amiable to the mind, or suitable to reason, doth incline men thereto; that honest things, bare of present advantages, and barren of hopeful fruits, are heartily pursued; that any thing otherwise averteth us from itself, than as immediately presenting some mischief, or dangerously threatening it. When goodness therefore doth clash with interest or pleasure, humanRom.vYilt. wisdom (the ^povr^a T>j$ <rotpx.os, natural fense os the flesh, which St. Paul speaketh of as opposite to virtue) will dispose men to take part with these; and, except some higher aid come in to succour goodness, it is odds that ever they will prevail over it. If it do appear, that virtue can pay men well for their pains, they perhaps may be her servants; but they will hardly wait on her in pure courtesy, or work in her service for nothing; if (he bringeth visibly a good dowry with her, she may be courted; but her mere beauty, or worth, will draw few suitors to her : who will forego sensible pleasures, or wave substantial prosit; who will reject the overtures of power, or honour, for her fake? And if vice, how ill soever it look or lear, do offer fairly, how many persons will be so nice or squeamish, as merely out of fancy, or in despite to her, to refuse or renounce her? In short, as men are baited with pleasure or bribed with profit, so they pursue, as they are stung with pain or curbed with fear, so they eschew things; it is a gift (or a specious, appearance of some good offered) which perpetually moveth the greatest part, which often llindetk ike eyes and perverteth the heart of the wisest sort Deut. xvi. of men. i9' . ...