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when we see such things as these in the World, fhall we not fear and tremble before that just and righteous Judge? Can we forget that GOD will judge the World in Righteousness, when we see already such terrible Executions, which are only Preludiums to a Final Judgment?
2. These present and visible Judgments give us a nearer Profpe& of a Future Judgment; and Judgment will more sensibly affect us, the nearer we see it : Not that such Judgments as these prove, that the Final Judgment is near at hand, for the Records and Hiftories of former Ages give us an Account of very terrible Judgments which God then executed upon the World: and yet we see the Final Judgment is deferred and we know not how long it may be deferred still : But though the General Judgment may be a great way off, yet our particular Judgment may be very near; God may quickly cut us off, and put an end to our Account; and when the Judgments of God are in the World, we have reason to expect it, at least so far, as to be prepared for it: Proximus ardet Ucalegon; when we see the Judgments of God sweep away so many Thousands round about us, who not long since lived as fecure and unconcerned for danger as we do ; when we see the Clouds hover and rowl about the Heavens, charged with Thunder and Tempest , who knows where the Storm will break next, and who shall feel the Violence of it? And therefore the Judgments of GOD, which are in the Earth, will give all considering
Men such a present Sense of a Future Judgment, as a threatning Sickness will do: Present Judgments may suddenly cut us off, and send us into the other World unprepared for a Final Judgment; and there is no preparing for it there ; and then these present Judgments may prove Final to us. So that those who live in such an Age as this, will be utterly inexcusable if they forget their Accounts, which they have such terrible Admonitions of. Let us: make this use of: present Judgments, to awaken a more lively and vigorous. Sense of a Future Judgment in us; and that will make us good Men, and secure our Eternal Happiness; and is the best way to prevent any publick Calamities of our Countrey , which we may fear or to preserve oậr selves from being involved in them.
CHA P. II.
Concerning the Time of Judgment,
SE CT. I.
Concerning a particular Judgment at the Time of
every Man's Death. L ET us now consider the Time of
Judgment; God hath appointed a day wherein be will judge the world in righteousvefs . Now this plainly refers to that Genewhen all Mankind shall
be summoned before the Tribunal of Christ to be judged according to their works. But before I speak to this, it will be necessary to take notice of what we commonly call a Pars ticular Judgment, which is supposed to pass upon all Men, as soon as they go out of these Bodies. The received Opinion is
Opinion is, that when any Man dies, he is immediately called to Judgment, and receives his Final Sentence, which is immediately executed on him ; that a Bad Man is sentenced to Hell, and sent immediately thither ; that a Good Man is received into Heaven, and enjoys the Beatifick Vifion from the time of his going out of this Body.
But I must confess, this has always appeared a great difficulty to me; we live in such an Inquisitiye Age, as will not allow us to affirm what we cannot prove, and indeed no honest Man ought to do so; for it forfeits any Man's Autho rity, and weakens the Credit of Religion, when that which has no proof, or at beft is very uncertain, is taught with as great assurance, as that which is most certain and unquestionable in Religion: and yet no wife Man will oppose and contradie a received Doctrine, though he were satisfy'd it were a Mistake, when there are no evil Consequences attend it : For my part, I must honeftly profess, that I neither dare affirm nor deny this particular Judgment in the sense in which it is commonly understood ; for there are some Passages in Scripture, which seem : to look both ways, and since I cannot decently
avoid saying something of it, I fhall fairly represent to you, whạt Intimations there are in Scripture about this matter ; for there is no other way of knowing this; and I dare teach no more than what the Scripture teaches.
1. Now in the first place, thus much is very plain in the Scripture,
That good men when they die, are translated into a place of Ease, and Reft, and Happiness ; and bad men to a place of Misery and Punishment : which I suppose is what men mean by a particular Judgment : for this is a kind of Judgment, though it be not perform'd with all the Pompous Solemnities of judgment, to allot men their different States of Life, according as they have behaved themselves in this World.
The Parable of Dives and Lazarus is very ex prefs to this purpose, 16. Luke 19, &c. There was a certain rich man, which was cloatbed in purple and fine linnen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at bis gate full of Sores. ---- And it came to pass that the beggær died, and was carried by the Angels into Abraham's bofom : the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hell be lift up his eyes, being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bofom. That this relates to the ftate of Good and Bad Men immediately after Death, is very evident, especially from that Request which the Rich Man made
to Abraham, to send Lazarus to his Father's House; For, faith he, I bave five brethren; that be may testifie to them left they also come into this place of torment : Which shews, that Lazarus was in Abrabam's
Bosom, and Dives tormented in Hell, or Hades, while his Brethren were living and revelling on Earth; and therefore this can't relate to a General Judgment, but signifies that State they entred into as soon as they Died: And though what is generally said, that we must not argue from Parables, is very true as to particular Circumstances of the Story, which are the Ornaments and Embellishments of Parables; yet it is as true, that we must argue from the principal Scope and Design of them; and then we may certainly conclude from this Parable, that good and bad Men as soon as they Die, are in a State of Happiness, and Mifery; otherwise there is no Foundation for this pa. rable: For why should one be fent from the Dead to inform the Living what Punishments bad Men suffer in the next World, if they suffer nothing till the Day of Judgment, which is not yet For in this case such a Messenger could not be an Eye-witness of the Punishment of Sinners; which is the only thing that is supposed to give fuch Authority to his Testimony.
1. I do not remember any other such express Text for the immediate Punishment of Sinners as soon as they go out of these Bodies; and one fuch Text as this is enough; but there are many Texts to prove, that good Men when they die, go immediately into a State of Happiness; not only Lazarus was carried by the Angels into Abraham's Bofom, but Chrift
promised the Thief upon the Cross, that that Day he should be with him in Paradise; and St. Paul tells us, That to be at bume in the Body, is to be