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down and worship him for all the Kingdoms of the world, and the Glory of them, were he noć to lose a brighter and richer Crown for it? Sometimes indeed God does bless good men with great Plenty and Honour, but he has no where
pros mised to do so in the Gospel of Chrift; fometimes he does it not so much to reward good meņi, (for Temporal things are not the proper Rewards of Piety and Virtue) as to ferve the ends of his Providence in the world: he takes care of good men to supply their Wants and Neceflities here, which is all that a perfect Virtue requires, but he rewards them hereafter : and yet this is not absolutely promised neither, for our Saviour teach es us to take up his Crofs, to expeå Sufferings and Persecutions for his Name fake; and then we myft be contented to want Food and Raiment, to part with Houses and Lands, and Life it self, for his fake; and our Condition may be fo afflicted; and calamitous here, that it may force ys to say, as St. Paul does, if in this life only we bad bope, we were of all men the most miserable: and who would be the Disciple of Christ upon these terms? To suffer so much for him in this world, and to gain nothing by it in the next. ::
Thus on the other hand there is a terrible Vengeance threatned against wicked men in the next world, Lakes of fire and brimstone , blacknefs of darkness, the worm tbat never dieth; and the fire that never goeth out; but the Gospel threatens no Temporal punishments against Sin : Bad men are very often punished in this world, when the Wisdom of the Divine Providence fees fit, and they very often escape too, and are much more prosperous than good men are here:
that there is no Threatning in the Gospel to reftrain the Impieties of men, but only the Fears of the other World, and a Future Judgment; and if you take away these, you destroy the Gospel of our Saviour.
2. Many of our Saviour's Laws are founded on the supposition of a Future Judgment, and are extreamly unreasonable, if there be no Rewards or Punishments after this Life ; that if we will but allow him the ordinary Prudence of a Law, giver, a Future Judgment must be the Foundation of his Religion.
If there were no other Life after this, the only Rules of our Adions would be to live as long, and to enjoy as much of this world as we can. But Christian Religion in many cases will not allow of this, and therefore is no Religion for this World, were there not another World to follow.
To begin with the Enjoyments of this world: How many Restraints does the Christian Religion lay on us, to lessen the Pleasures and Satisfactions of this Life ? It teaches us a great Indifferency to al} the things of this World; but how unreasonable is that, if this world be our only place of Happiness? For who can be indifferent whether he be happy or not? It commands us to mortifie our Sensual Appetites, to crucifie the Flesh with its Affections and Lufts, to live above the Pleasures of the Body, to pluck out our Right Eyes, and to cut off our Right Hands; but what reason can there be to deny our selves any of these Enjoyments, as far as is consistent with preserving our Health, and prolonging our Lives, if we have no expectations after Death? Nay, if men
are contented to live a short and a merry Life, what hurt is there in it, if Death puts an end to them? It forbids us to lay up for our selvesTreasures on Earth, which were a strange Command, were there not greater Treasures to be expected in Heaven : Įt forbids Earthly Pride and Ambition, an affectation of Secular Honours and Power; but why must we submit to Meanness and Contempt in this World, if this be the only Scene of Action we shall ever be concern'd in for a mean and base Spirit is no Virtue ; and for the same reason it can be no Virtue to be contented with a low Fortune, to be patient under Şufferings, which if they will never be rewarded, is to be patiently miserable, and that is Stupidity and Folly; but to haye our Conversation in Heayen, to live upon the hopes of unseen things, is madness and Distraction, if there be no Heaven, no unseen Things for us.
The Laws of our Saviour require us in some cases to facrifice the dearest Interests we have in this world, and Life itself, for his fake; which is à senllefs
, and unreasonable Command , if he does not intend to beftow a better Life on us: If there were no other Life after this, no wise man would forfeit more for any Religion, than it is worth in this world, and that would reach but 4* little way in Sufferings: Nor is our Saviour so unseasonable as to require it upon these
Terms; but tells us plainly, Whosoever will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will lose bis life for my Jake, shall find it. For what is a man profited, if be shall gain the Whole World, and lose his own Soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for bis Scul? 16.Matth.25,26. The Reasons of most of the Evangelical Com
mands must be fetched wholly from the other World, and a Future Judgment; and therefore we should have had the same Evidence fora Judgment to come, that we have for the Christian Religion, tho there had been no such express mention made of a Future Judgment.
I cannot but observe here the true Reason of the Corruption of Christian Morals, which are as much corrupted as the Christian Faith is : That in expounding the Laws of our Saviour some men have no other regard, but to fit them to the ease and the conveniences of this Life; and therefore reject any Interpretation of them, which is severe to Flesh and Blood, or will hazard their Ease and Fortunes in this world. It is sufficient to Confute any Law of our Saviour, or to Interpret it away , to shew that there are greatTemporal Inconveniences in it; that to obferve such Laws in such a sense would be very injurious to mens present intereft, and deprive them of many Pleasures and Advantages of Life.
It were easy to give many Instances of this, but it shall suffice at present to confess, that considering the state of this World; and the Propensities and Inclinations of Human Nature, some Laws of our Saviour are very unreasonable, were there not a Future Judgment to reward the Severities and Sufferings which good men must undergo in observing of them: and therefore we must have a care of rejecting any plain and express Law of our Saviour, for any Temporal Inconvenience which attends it, or to think that the best sense of the Christian Law, which is most for the ease and comfort of this Life.
This may ferve for the Proof of a Future Judgment, for if this will not prove it, nothing will
. There are indeed another sort of Arguments to prove it, but they principally relate to the
Perfon of our Judge, or who than be our Judge, viz. The Son of Man, Christ Jesus, who is God Incarnate, and to which St. Paul refers, 17. AAs 31. That God bath appointed a day wherein be will
judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he bath ordained; whereof be barb given allurance unto all men, in that be bath raised him from the dead; but I fhall defer that, till I come to speak of the Perfon of our Judge,
The Imp" target of this Doctrine in fome Practical In
ferences; as; 1. Tolive as it becomes those who hall certainly be judged. 2. To keep our Eye upon a Future Fudgment for the Government of our Livés.
Aving thus proved the Certainty of a Future
Judgment, both from Reason and Scripture; before I proceed, it is necessary to confider, how we must improve this Belief for the
government of our Lives; for that is the only end of Faith and Knowledge; and if we be never the berter men for our Faith, we may as well be Infidels; and this I shall do in these following Particulars:
I. To live as it becomes those who shall certainly be judged. I suppose I need not prove this Consequence, that those who must be judged, ought to live as those who must be judged ; for