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be quelled or overthrown; it may be suspended, but can- SERM. not be fuppreffed; it may be fomewhat eclipsed, but it XXXII cannot be quite extinguished, yea infallibly in the end it will triumphantly prevail.
That no good defign shall be undertaken, nor any honest labour can be spent in vain; feeing although they chance to find no fuccefs, or to yield no fruit here, yet they cannot fail to obtain a happy iffue and a plentiful reward hereafter.
That how fmall foever the difference doth now appear between wife men and fools, or between virtuous and vicious perfons, there will be hereafter a vast discrimination made, when in confequence of that upright trial one shall enter into eternal blifs, the other fhall fall into an abyss of mifery.
That this life is not contemptible, nor all things here utterly vain; seeing that upon this life is founded our eternal ftate; seeing these occurrences have influence upon our eternal joy or woe; feeing all things here will conduce to the illuftration of divine mercy or justice. That God is indeed here Deus abfconditus, as the prophet ftyleth him, a God that hideth himself; advisedly fuffer- Ifa. xlv. 15. ing his goodness and juftice to be under a cloud, that at length they may break out more gloriously in that day, when, as St. Paul faith, his dixaioxgioía, his most righteous Rom. ii. 5. dealing (both in governance of all affairs now, and in deciding of all cafes then) shall be revealed, and made confpicuous to all the world.
Thus doth it, upon many accounts, appear fit and needful, that there should be a future judgment; the apprehenfion thereof being the sharpest spur to virtue, the strongest curb from vice, the fureft fence of human fociety, the fafest bulwark of religion, (fecuring the authority of God, and guarding his providence, together with all his holy attributes, from all batteries, all finifter afperfions, all profane misconstructions ;) in fhort, the most effectual means, if it be heartily embraced, to render men, in their minds and in their enjoyments, fober, juft in their dealings toward their neighbour, and in all their life pious toward
SERM. God; there being indeed no confideration, whereof the XXXII. mind of man is capable, more apt to beget in him a care and confcience of what he doeth, than this; that after a very short and tranfitory life all his actions must undergo a strict scrutiny, according to the refult whereof he shall be either approved and rewarded, or condemned and punifhed: whereof any man being thoroughly perfuaded, and anywife confidering 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 difpofe us to make, for the fake of Jefus, our bleffed Redeemer, to whom for ever be all glory and praise.
Now the very God of peace fanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole fpirit and foul and body be preferved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jefus Chrift. Amen.
From thence he thall come to judge the Quick and the Dead.
THE CERTAINTY AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF
ACTS X. 42.
And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to teflify that it is he which was ordained by God to be Judge of quick and dead.
THESE words are part of a fermon 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 Chrift, together with some main points of Chriftian doctrine moft fit for them to know; particularly he doth in these words exprefs the point concerning the future judgment; reporting that our Lord especially did charge his Apostles to preach unto the people and teftify, that is, first publicly to declare and explain, then by convenient proofs, especially by divine attestations, to evince and perfuade this point; the importance whereof, and eminence among other Chriftian doctrines, doth hence plainly appear, that the author of our faith did make fo efpecial provifion, and gave so express charge concerning the promulgation and probation thereof: the which cir
SERM. cumftance is indeed remarkable and weighty; but I fhall XXXIII.not infift on it, meaning immediately to fet upon confidering the point itself, as it is here laid down in thefe terms; that it is he which was ordained by God to be Judge of quick and dead: in which words are couched three particulars moft confiderable.
1. A judgment ordained by God, and to be declared to
2. The Judge, by whom immediately that judgment is administered; he; Jefus, our Lord and Saviour.
3. The extent of that judgment, or its adequate object; quick and dead.
These particulars I fhall in order touch, inferting fome material confiderations about the nature and manner of this judgment, with fome reasons why it fhould be thus managed; then I fhall adjoin fome practical applications.
I. There is a judgment ordained by God, and to be declared to men; that is, concerning the perfons and actions of men performed in this life. How juft and fit it is that there fhould be fuch a judgment, how ufeful and requifite the declaration thereof is upon feveral accounts, (for engaging men upon the practice of virtue and reftraining them from vice, for the prefervation and maintenance of human fociety, for the fupport and defence of religion, for the vindication of Divine Providence, and illustration of all God's holy attributes,) I have already endeavoured to declare; and in that regard I fhall content myself now to fay, that as upon the apparent equity and usefulness of Juft. M. p. this doctrine all nations commonly have ever embraced the general fubftance thereof, as a fundamental principle of their religion, (all men commonly with a ready incli nation having avowed it reasonable to fuppofe that every man after this life fhall be brought unto a juft and impartial bar, where his doings thall be exactly scanned, and his perfon answerably doomed unto a comfortable or afflictive recompenfe,) fo our religion, in a peculiar manner, doth most exprefsly affert, moft clearly defcribe, and most vigorously inculcate it, with all poffible 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.
1. It teacheth us, that God hath appointed a determinate time for this judgment. God, faith St. Paul, hath A&ts xvii. appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in 31. ii. 20. righteousness; that which is called the day of judgment, the last day, the day of the Lord, the great and the illuftrious day; and, by fignal excellency, The day; and, That 2 Tim. i. day; intimating, befide the certainty of the thing itself, 1 Thef. v. 4. the most efpecial regard that men are concerned to bear Heb. x. 25. thereto.
18. iv. 8.
2. That in order to this judgment all the actions of men are with greater exactness registered in books; (the books of divine omnifcience, feeing all things prefent, and retaining all things paft, which nothing can efcape;) The (Job xiii. books (it is faid in the Revelation) were opened, and the 17.) dead were judged from the things written in the books, 12. according to their works.
3. That, in order thereto, there fhall be (effected by divine power and command) a general refurrection of all perfons, both juft and unjuft: The hour, faith our Lord, is Acts xxiv. coming, in which all that are in the graves fhall hear his John v. 28. voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, to the refurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the refurrection of damnation.
4. That then all perfons fo raised fhall be prefented at the bar of our Lord, to answer and undergo their trial; IRev.xx.12. faw, faith St. John, the great and fmall fanding before 10. God's throne; and, We must all, faith St. Paul, be made ang appear, and be fet forth at the judgment-feat of Chrift; 2 Cor. v. and, The Son of man, faith our Lord, hall fit upon the 10. Παρίσα throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered to- odai. gether before him.
5. That then and there every thought, every word, every work of men fhall be throughly disclosed and difcuffed; so that it, together with its due quality and defert, fhall plainly appear; all the defigns and pretences of men shall be laid bare; every cafe shall be confidered; every