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be quelled or overthrown; it may be suspended, but can- SERM. not be suppressed; it may be somewhat eclipsed, but it XXXII cannot be quite extinguished, yea infallibly in the end it will triumphantly prevail.
That no good design shall be undertaken, nor any honest labour can be spent in vain; seeing although they chance to find no success, or to yield no fruit here, yet they cannot fail to obtain a happy issue and a plentiful reward hereafter.
That how small soever the difference doth now appear between wise men and fools, or between virtuous and vicious persons, there will be hereafter a vast discrimination made, when in consequence of that upright trial one shall enter into eternal bliss, the other shall fall into an abyss of misery.
That this life is not contemptible, nor all things here utterly vain; seeing that upon this life is founded our eternal state; seeing these occurrences have influence upon our eternal joy or woe; seeing all things here will conduce to the illustration of divine mercy or justice. That God is indeed here Deus absconditus, as the prophet ftyleth him, a God that hideth himself; advisedly suffer- isa. xir. I*. ing his goodness and justice to be under a cloud, that at length they may break out more gloriously in that day, when, as St. Paul faith, his hxcuoxgurla, his most righteous Rom. H. s. dealing (both in governance of all affairs now, and in deciding of all cafes dien) Jhall he revealed, and made conspicuous to all the world.
Thus doth it, upon many accounts, appear fit and needful, that there should be a future judgment; the apprehension thereof being the sharpest spur to virtue, the strongest curb from vice, the surest fence of human society, the safest bulwark of religion, (securing the authority of God, and guarding his providence, together with all his holy attributes, from all batteries, all sinister aspersions, all profane misconstructions;) in short, the most effectual means, if it be heartily embraced, to render men, in their minds and in their enjoyments, sober, just in their dealings toward their neighbour, and in all their life pious toward SERM. God; there being indeed no consideration, whereof the XXXII. mind of man is capable, more apt to beget in him a care and conscience of what he doeth, than this; that after a very stiort and transitory life all his actions must undergo a strict scrutiny, according to the result whereof he sliall be either approved and rewarded, or condemned and punished: whereof any man being thoroughly persuaded, and anywise considering it, he cannot surely but accuse himself of extreme folly and madness, if he doth not provide for that account, and order all his practice with a regard thereto. The which use of this point God by his grace dispose us to make, for the fake of Jesus, our blessed Redeemer, to whom for ever be all glory and praise. iThes.T.93. Now the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be pre~ served blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christy Amen.
THE CERTAINTY AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF
A FUTURE JUDGMENT FROM DIVINE
Acts X. 42.
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and lo testify that it is he which was ordained by God to be Judge of quick and dead.
iHESE words are part of a sermon preached by St. SERM. Peter to Cornelius and his friends, wherein the Apostle XXXIII. briefly declareth unto them the chief particulars in the"" history of Christ, together with some main points of Christian doctrine most sit for them to know; particularly he doth in these words express the point concerning theywture judgment; reporting that our Lord especially did charge his Apostles to preach unto the people and testify, that is, first publicly to declare and explain, then by convenient proofs, especially by divine attestations, to evince and persuade this point; the importance whereof, and eminence among other Christian doctrines, doth hence plainly appear, that the author of our faith did make so especial provision, and gave so express charge concerning ihe promulgation and probation thereof: the which cirVol. v. K
SERM. cumstance is indeed remarkable and weighty; but I (ball XXXIlI.not insist on it, meaning immediately to set upon consider— ing the point itself, as it is here laid down in these terms; that it is he which was ordained by God to Le Judge of quick and dead: in which words are couched three particulars most considerable.
1. A judgment ordained by God, and to be declared to men.
a. The Judge, by whom immediately that judgment is administered; he; Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
3. The extent of that judgment, or its adequate object; quick and dead.
These particulars I shall in order touch, inserting some material considerations about the nature and manner of this judgment, with some reasons why it should be thus managed; then I shall adjoin some practical applications.
I. There is a judgment ordained by God, and to be declared to men; that is, concerning the persons and actions of men performed in this life. How just and fit it is that there should be such a judgment, how useful and requisite the declaration thereof is upon several accounts, (for engaging men upon the practice of virtue and, restraining them from vice, for the preservation and maintenance of human society, for the support and defence of religion, sot the vindication of Divine Providence, and illustration of all God's holy attributes,) I have already endeavoured to declare; and in that regard I shall content myself now to say, that as upon the apparent equity and usefulness of Jufi. M. p. this doctrine all nations commonly have ever embraced p' 'the general substance thereof, as a fundamental principle, of their religion, (all men commonly with a ready inclination having avowed it reasonable to suppose that every man after this life (hall be brought unto a just and impartial bar, where his doings (hall be exactly scanned, and his person answerably doomed unto a comfortable or afflictive recompense,) so our religion, in a peculiar manner, doth most expressly assert, most clearly describe, and most vigoroesly inculcate it, with all possible advantage, both for the clearing God's dealings and attributes, and for the
excitement of men to a virtuous and pious life. The na- SERM. ture, manner, process, and result of the future judgment XXXIII. are in the holy Scripture most punctually set down.
I. It teacheth us, that God hath appointed a determinate time for this judgment. God, faith St. Paul, hath Acts xvii. appointed a day, in which he will judge the world »«juj|"via0' righteousness; that which is called tlie day of judgment, the lajl day, the day of the Lord, the great and the illustrious day; and, by signal excellency, The day; and, That» Tim. i. day; intimating, beside the certainty of the thing itself, ijhes.v. 4. the most especial regard that men are concerned to bear Heb-*• 25, thereto.
a. That in order to this judgment all the actions of men are with greater exactness registered in books; (the books of divine omniscience, seeing all things present, and re taming all things past, which nothing can escape;) The (Job?"'' books (it is said in the Revelation) were opened, and the 17.) dead were judged from the things written in the books,,"'"' according to their works. Dan. vii.
3. That, in. order thereto, there shall be (effected by divine power and command) a general resurrection of all persons, both just and unjust.: The hour, faith our Lord, is Acts "'"• coming, in which all that are in the graves fliall hear /usjohnv. as. voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to
the resurredtion of life', and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
4. That then all persons so raised shall be presented at
the bar of our Lord, to answer and undergo their trial; /Rev. M. 19. saw, faith St. John, the great and small standing before j^1"' xlv' God's throne; and, We must all, faith St. Paul, be made">?"eappear, and be set forth at the judgment-seat of Christ ;acor. v. and, The Son of man, faith our Lord, shall ft upon tlie10- , throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered to- ,$m. gether before him. ' f"^"'
5. That then and there every thought, every word, every work of men shall be throughly disclosed and discussed; so that it, together with its due quality and desert, shall plainly appear; all the designs and pretences of men shall be laid bare; every case shall be considered; every