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But the Reason why the Judgments of God so often fürprize men in their Security, while they are asleep, and dreaming of nothing but what is prosperous and happy, of the return of Afrea and the Golden Age is because their Sins, which make them ripe for Judgment, and will not suffer God to stay his hand any longer, have made them also fecure : Either they have finned away all Belief of God, and his Providence, and a Future Judgment; or have finned away the sense of those particular Sins which they are guilty of ; or to make themselyes fecure, they have by the help of Enthusiasm and Superftition, reconciled the hopes of Heaven, and the sense of God's love and favour, with the pra&ice of the most provoking Impieties : That is, their love to Sin has made
them secure, and then there is little hope that they will ever forsake their Sins; and this makes them very fit to be the Examples of God's Justice and Displea: sure.
And the same Account is to be given of the Day of Judgment. It will surprize men as 24 Thief in the Night ; not because they never heard that God would judge the World; for God has sufficiently declared this, and given us time ly notice to prepare for it; but men will at that time have finned away the belief of a God, and of a Judgment to come, or have laid this Belief alleep with some intoxicating Superstitions and Formalities; and this is so hopeless and irrecovefable a state, that it makes it time for God to judge the World.
And this may give some probable Account both why the Day of Judgment is deferred so long, as some Men are apt to speak (though God knows they have little reason to think it long, considering what Account they are able to give and what Sentence they are like to receive) and why the particular time of Judgment is concealed from us.
While the Sense of Judgment continues in the World, it must make a great many gocd Men, and restrain the Wickedness and Impiety of bad Men, and as you have heard, God will not deffroy the World while it is in an hopeful and recoverable State; but the long delay of Judgment (as. Men are apt to call it) wears off the Sense and Belief of it, and then Men grow Wicked without fear and restraint; and then it is time for God to judge the World.
Thus if God fixes and determines the Day of Judgment, upon the foresight of such a General Impiety as will deserve a final excision, God cannot reveal this to the World: For one would think it impossible,' did the World know this beforehand, but the Age of Judgment should be the most Devout and Religious Age that ever had been from the beginning of the World; and then that would not be a) fit time to destroy the World; and God could not foresee it the properest time of Judg; ment.
It is abundantly sufficient that God gives us all reasonable Evidence and Allurance that he will judge the World; but there is no reason to tell
us at what particular time he will judge the World; nay, it is not fitting that we should know it.
Had Men known some Thousand Years ago, Inow long the Day of Judgment should be de ferred, it had so much weakned the Argument of a Future Judgment, by removing it a great way off, that the World might much better have deserved to be destroyed at any other time, than in likelihood it would do, if Men certainly knew the time when the Day of Judgment comes: And if the general Belief of Judgment will not make us good Men, it is not fit that we should certainly know the time of Judgment, no more than that we should know the time of our Death, or be converted by a fight of Heaven or Hell.
God reserves this as a Secret in his own Breast, which neither Men nor Angels fhall know; which is the best way to make the Belief of a Future Judgment effe&ual upon *all Ages of the World, especially since that express Revelation which the Gospel has made of it. This Instruction our Saviour himself gives us, That since we know not the Day of Judgment, we should always watch, and be ready prepared for it. Watcb therefore, for ye know not what Hour your Lord doth
But know this, that if the good Man of the House had known in what Watch the Thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his House to be broken up; therefore be ye also ready, for in such an Hour as ye 'think not the Son of Man cometb
24. Matth. 42, 435.44. And if this was good Advice in our Saviour's days, it more nearly concerns us, on whom the End of the World is
(4.) There is one thing more I shall observe from this Discourse, Not to be offended, tho you see Atheism and Infidelity prevail in the World, and the true Christian Faith begin to fail, and the Love of many wax cold: Thus it must be towards the end of the World; and if we now see the beginnings of it, it is no great Wonder.
This is indeed a great Temptation to Men who are governed by Examples, to hear the first Principles of Religion called in question, and the great Fundamental Articles of our Faith made matter of Dispute and Controversy; nay, the plaineft Rules of Life ridiculed and exploded; but if these things Thould not be the World would never come to an end: God cannot deftroy a Believing and Righteous Nation, much less a Righteous World, a World of Believers and Saints. And if it be our Portion to fall into the Dregs of Time, into these last days, when there. fhall be Scoffers walking after their own ungodly Lufts, let us consider that this is no more than was foretold; thus it must be towards the end of the World; and therefore this ought not to weaken the Credit of Religion, no more than the fulfilling of Prophecies does : Let us remember how Sacred this Faith has been for Sixteen Hundred Years; how many Martyrs and Confeffors it has had; how God has preserved
it against all the Powers and Oppositions of the World; how it has triumph'd over Pagan Idolatries, and which is more than that triumph'd over the Lufts and Vices of the World, in the Exemplary Self-denial, Mortification and Divine and Heavenly Conversations of its Professors: And this I think is such an Argument-of its Divinity, as may defend us against the Wit, and Raillery, and Impudence of profess'd Atheifts and Debauchees, who till of late have themselves been the Scorn and Derifion of Mankind.
SECT. IIL The Day God bas appointed, is a General Day of
Fudgment. neral Day of Judgment, or a Day to judge the whole World: All Mankind Thati be fummoned before the Tribunal of Christ, and be Tried, and Condemned or Acquitted in the General Assembly of Men and Angels.
What an amazing Sight will. this be! To see all Mankind start out of their Graves, and appear before their Judge! To have one View of the whole Race of Men, of all succeffive Generations from Adam to the end of the World! Such an Assembly as never was before, never will be till that day, and never will be after it: Could we look on as unconcerned Spectators at that day, what an