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Afflictions, than ordinary. Even the obscurer Confirmations of this Doctrine in the Old Testament therefore were a great Benefit to those, who partook of them : and as they had no Right to any such Asurances of it; they had no Cause to complain, that they were not clearer. But we have infinite Cause to be thankful, who are favoured in the Gospel with the fullest and strongest Attestation to this most interesting of all our Concerns. Christians, unless they renounce their Chriftianity, cannot disbelieve a future Judgment. The only Difficulty is, to be influenced by our Belief, as we ought. And in that also the Scripture hath given us the best Help, which is possible to be given; by its affecting Accounts of the several Particulars, that relate to this awful Tranfaction: the Persons on whom, the Person by whom, the Time when, the Things for which, and the Manner in which, the final Sentence of Happiness or Misery is to be pronounced. These Points therefore I fall now endeavour to place before you diftinctiy. And,
1. The Perfons, on whcm, are, the quick, that is the living, and the dead. All that have died before, in every Age of the World, shall be restored to Life: and all that remain alive, shall be joined with them to receive their Doom ; nor shall any Exception be made. For we are expressly assured, that the dead, small and great, mall stand before God. The very highest therefore shall not escape by their Power, the richest by their Wealth, the wiseft by their Abilities or Artfulness : nor, on the other Hand, shall the meanest Wretch be looked on, as too inconsiderable for God's Notice; or the most ignorant be exempted from answering for the Care, which he hath taken, to get the Knowledge, that he might, and to use the knowledge, that he had, of his Duty. Whatever our Station be, we are bound alike to behave in it, as well as we can : and how far we have done so, and how far we have failed of it, is the
Rev. xx. 12,
one Inquiry that our Judge will make. Other Dirtinctions, how confiderable soever they appear in our Eyes, to him are as Nothing. All Creatures are equally beneath his infinite Majefty; but none are either beneath or above his Inspection now, or his Sentence hereafter. Here then we are put, every one of us, on a fair Trial, without any Disadvantage or Inequality whatever. Both the most honourable, and the most contemptible Persons, as to worldly Circumstances, may. be either the happiest or the most miserable in the next Life, just as they shall choose. Let those of high Degreee therefore be humble, those of low be content, and all be watchful over themselves.
2. The Person, by whom the Sentence shall be palied, is Jesus Christ. For the Father himself judgeth no Man: but hath committed all Judgment to the Son, and given him Authority to execute it, because he is the Son of Mank: because he is the Person, described by that Name in the Prophet Daniel, before whom the Judgment was to be set, and the Books opened!: who also is no less peculiarly qualified, than expressly appointed for it; fince in him divine Perfection is joined with Experience of human Infirmity. So that being judged by one, who was in all Points tempted like as we are, yet without Sinn; we may be sure, that every due Allowance will be made to our natural Weaknels, and no undue one to our wilful Wickedness. Unless therefore we repent and amend, he, that came the first Time to save us, will come the second to condemn us; and the meek and merciful Jesus appear cloathed with such Terror, that we shall say to the Mountains and to the Rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the Face of him that fitteth on the Throne, and from the Wrath of the Lamb: for the great Day of his Wrath is come, and who shall be able to fand"?
3. The Time, when these Things Thall be, himself informs us, it is not for us to know; being known to the Father alone, and put in his own Powere. But still, John v. 22, 27. Dan. vii. 10; 13.
m Heb. iv. 15. • Rev. vi. 16, 17.
2 Acts i. 7.
what there is need we should be told concerning it, the Scripture hath revealed : that it should come unexpectedly, and that it shall come soon. The general Judgment may come, when we least think of it. But however diftant it may poflibly be in itself, yet to every one of us it is undoubtedly in Effect very near, and even at the Door. For it is appointed unto Men once to die, and after this the Judgment. A few years, it may be a few Days, will bring us to our End here: and in whatever State Death finds us, in the same will the last Judgment find us also. For there is no Device, nor Wifdom in the Grave ?: but where the Tree falleth, there shall it be". Take Heed therefore to yourselves, left your Hearts be overcharged, either with the pleasures and Amusements, or the Cares and Labours of this Life ; and so that Day come upon you unawares : for as a Snare shall it come on all them, that dwell on the whole Earths. The evil Servant that fall say in his Heart, my Lord delayeth his coming; and mall begin to smite his Fellow-fervants, and to eat and drink with the drunken : the Lord of that Servant Mall come in a Day, that he looketh not for him ; and in an Hour, that he is not aware of; there shall be weeping and gnashing of Teeth'. Watch ye therefore, and be ready : blessed is that Servant, whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing".
4. The Things, for which we shall be judged, are, all our voluntary Deeds, Words, and Thoughts. For we must appear before the Judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the Things done in his Bodyw. Now what we say, and what we think designedly, is as truly Part of our Doings, as what we act. Our Discoure may be of as much Service or Harm to others : and even our inward Imaginations may as much prove us to be good or bad in ourselves, and contribute to make us yet better or worse. Often indeed we cannot help wicked Fancies coming into our Minds; and that alone will never Heb. ix. 27 * Eccl. ix. 10. Eccl. xi. 3.
* Luke xxi. 34, 35. Matxxiv. 48-51.
* Jbid. 42, 44, 46.
2 Cor. V, 10.
be imputed to us as a Sin. But we can help inviting, indulging, and delighting in them : and if we do is just, that we should account for our Fault. And on the other Hand, it is fit and reasonable, that every good Person should be rewarded, not only for the religious and worthy Actions that he hath performed; but for every good Word, that hath proceeded from his good Heart; for his pious and virtuous Purposes and Affections. For God sees the oite, just as clearly, as the other : there is ño Creature that is not manifeft in his Sight; but all Things are naked and apened unto the Eyes of him, with whom we have to do *. And certainly what he sees, and sees to be proper for his Notice, he will not fail to take suitable Notice of it. The Scripture therefore affures us, with the utmost Reason; not only, that by our Words we fall be justified, and by our Words condemned; giving Account for the very idleft and fightest of them, either with Grief or Joy, according as its Tendency was right or wrong! : but also, that God shall judge the Secrets of Men by Jesus Chrift?: that there is Nothing covered, that shall not be reDealed; and hid, that shall not be known For God shall bring every IPork into Fudgment, and every secret Thing ; whether it be good, or whether it be evilb.
Therefore, with respect to other Persons, let us be charitable, and judge Nothing needlessly before the Time; until the Lord come, who will bring to Light the hidden Things of Darkness, and make manifejt the Counsels of all Hearts And, with refpcét to ourselves, let us be easy under human Censures, if we have given no Occasion for them; for in that case, it is a small Thing to be judged of Man's Yudgments: But let us carefully prepare for the divine Sentence, by perfecting Holiness in the Fear of Godo; and after all our Care, let us be throughly humble: for though we know Nothing by ourselves, yet are we not hereby justified, if it be through Partiality or Forgetfulness, as poflibly it may ; but he that judgeth us, is the Lord'. * Heb. iv. 13. y Matt. xii. 36, 37.
z Rom. ii. 16. • Matti. X. 26. b Eccl. xii. 14:
ci Cor. iv, 5. é 2 Cor, vii. I.
fy Cor. iv. 4.
d Ibid. 3:
5. As to the Manner of the Judgment, it will be with the greatest Solemnity and Awfulness, and with the greatest Justice and Equity. The Lord himself fall descend from Heavens, with his mighty Angels
, in flaming Fire"; and the Trumpet fall found', and all that are in the Graves shall bear his Voice, and come forthk. Then Mall he fit upon the Throne of his Glory', and the Books Mall be opened, and they shall be judged out of those Things, which are written in the Books, according to their Works. As many as have sinned without a revealed Law, jball perish without a revealed Law: and as many as have finned in the Law, whether Jewith or Christian, ftall be judged by the Law". Unto whomsoever much is given, of him fall much be required: and to whom much is committed, of hiin will the more be askedo. He which hath fowed sparingly, Mall reap alfo Sparingly : and he which hath Jowed bountifully, Jhall reap also bountifully p. Whatsoever a Man hath lowed, that all he also reap!
What Manner of Persons ought we to be then in all hely Conversation and Godliness: looking for and hastening unta the coming of the Day of God; wherein the Heavens, being on Fire, shall be dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with fervent Heat? Nevertheless we, according to his Promise, look for new Heavens and a new Earth, wherein dweileth Righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for Juch Things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in Peace, without Spot, and blameless: grow in Grace, and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jésus Chrift: to bim be Glory, both now and for ever. Amen.
$ , Theff. iv. 16.
2 Theff. i. 7, 8. John v. 28, 29.
" Matth. XXV. 31. o Rom. ii. 12. • Luke xii. 48.
P 2 Cor. ix. 6, 2 Peter iii, 11-14, 18.
#1 Cor. xv. 52. m Rev. XX.12.
Gal, vi. 70