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other question of importance. But the arguments of the Gospel are (and thanks be to God that they are) of quite a different sort. It sets before us the declarations of God himself, "That there shall be a resur"rection of the dead, both of the just and
the unjust; that God hath appointed a "day in which he will judge the world in righteousness; and that we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, "that every one may receive the things done "in his body, according to that he hath
done, whether it be good or bad." To convince us, not only of the possibility, but of the certainty, of so wonderful an event, it -appeals to facts; it shows us Christ himself, "risen from the dead, and become the first "fruits of them that slept." It afterwards exhibits him to us in a still more illustrious point of view. It represents him as "coming in the clouds of heaven, with power "and great glory, to judge the world. The trumpet sounds, and the dead, both small "and great, are raised up; and before him are gathered" (what an awful and astonish
*Acts xxiv. 15; xvii. 3.
2 Cor. v. 10.
ALL THE NATIONS OF
THE EARTH; and he separates them one "from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. The books are "opened, and he judgeth them out of the things that are written in the books, ac"cording to their works; and the wicked go away into everlasting punishment; but "the righteous into life eternal*."
These are not profound and curious speculations, beyond the reach of common apprehensions. They are plain facts, and solemn denunciations from the very highest authority, speaking with equal force to all ranks of men, and, by their simplicity and dignity, adapted no less to the capacity of the illiterate than to the most exalted conceptions of the learned. Hence it has come to that these divine truths being preached pass, to the poor as well as to the rich (a circumstance peculiar to the Gospel, and therefore mentioned as one of its distinguishing cha racteristics) have conveyed to the very humblest disciples of Christ far clearer ideas, and
1 Cor. xv. 52. Rev. xx. 12. Matt,
*Matt. xxiv, 30.
xxv. 32. 46.
Matt. xi. 5.
and juster notions, of a future state, than were to be found in all the celebrated schools of philosophy at Athens or at Rome.
3. But there is still another point, and that of the utmost consequence, respecting a future state, in which the infinite superiority of Revelation to the light of nature must evidently appear. And that is the nature and duration of the rewards which it promises.
The utmost that reason can pretend to to prove that we shall survive the grave; that we shall exist in another world; and that there the wicked shall be punished according to their demerits, and the good rewarded with such a degree of happiness, as their virtues and their sufferings here seem in justice to require. This is all that is necessary to vindicate the ways of God to mankind; and therefore beyond this, our own reasoning powers, and our natural expectations, cannot go. Indeed the very best and wisest of the Pagan philosophers did not go near so far as this. Some of them, although they believed the existence of the soul after death, yet denied that it would exist for ever*. Others admitted
* Stoici―diu mansuros aiunt animos, semper negant. Tusc, Quæst. 1. i. c. 31.
admitted its eternity, but did not allow that it passed into a state of rewards and punishments. They supposed it would be resolved into the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT from which it was originally detached, And even of those who acknowledged a future retribution, many asserted that the punishments only were eternal, the rewards of a temporary nature * And indeed it must be owned, that there are no principles of natural religion which give us any ground to hope for a state of felicity hereafter, unmixed and perfect in its kind, beyond all conception great, and in duration endless. It is from Revelation only we learn that such shall be the rewards" of "the righteous; that God shall wipe away "all tears from their eyes, and there shall "be no more death, neither sorrow nor cry"ing; that he will give them glory, and "honour, and immortality; that they shall go away into life eternal, and enter into "the joy of their Lord; that in his pre"sence there is fulness of joy, and pleasures
for evermore; that eye hath not seen, nor "ear heard, neither have entered into the
* Div. Leg. vol. ii. p. 109.
169 "heart of man, the good things which God "hath prepared for them that love him*."
In these, and many other passages of the same nature, we are expressly assured, that both our existence and our happiness hereafter shall be, in the strictest sense of the word, everlasting. This, none but God himself could promise, or, when promised, fulfil. It is more than the utmost sagacity of human reason could discover, more than the utmost perfection of human virtue could claim. ETERNAL LIFE, therefore, is constantly and justly represented in Scripture "the GIFT, the FREE GIFT of God, through Jesus Christ" and, were it on this account only, it might be truly said, that life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel+"
Mark then, I entreat you, in conclusion, mark the difference between the wisdom of man and that wisdom which is from above. The former, as you have just seen in the instance
* Rev. vii. 27; Rom. ii. 7; Matt. xxv. 21.36; Psalm xvi. 11; 1 Cor. ii. 9.
† Rom. v. 18. vi. 23,
‡ 2 Tim. i. 16,