« VorigeDoorgaan »
A PRAYER AFTER SERMON.
LORD, pity and pardon, direct and bless, sanctify and save, us all. Give repentance to all that live in sin, and perseverance to all thy sons and servants for his sake, who is thy beloved, and the foundation of all our hopes, our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, praise and adoration, love and obedience, now and for evermore. Amen.
SERMON 1. ADVENT SUNDAY.
DOOMSDAY BOOK; OR, CHRIST'S ADVENT TO JUDGMENT.
For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.—2 Cor. v. 10.
VIRTUE and vice are so essentially distinguished, and the distinction is so necessary to be observed in order to the well-being of men in private and in societies, that to divide them in themselves, and to separate them by sufficient notices, and to distinguish them by rewards, hath been designed by all laws, by the sayings of wise men, by the order of things, by their proportions to good or evil; and the expectations of men have been framed accordingly: that virtue may have a proper seat in the will and in the affections, and may become amiable by its own excellences and its appendant blessing; and that vice may be as natural an enemy to a man as a wolf to a lamb, and as darkness to light; destructive of its being, and a contradiction of its nature. But it is not enough that all the world hath armed itself against vice, and, by all that is wise and sober amongst men, hath taken the part of virtue, adorning it with glorious appellatives, encouraging it by rewards, entertaining it with sweetness, and commanding it by edicts, fortifying it with defensatives, and twining it in all artificial compliances; all this is short of man's necessity for this will, in all modest men, secure their actions in theatres and highways, in markets and churches, before the eye of judges and in the society of witnesses;
but the actions of closets and chambers, the designs and thoughts of men, their discourses in dark places, and the actions of retirements and of the night, are left indifferent to virtue or to vice; and of these, as man can take no cognizance, so he can make no coercitive; and therefore above one half of human actions is, by the laws of man, left uuregarded and unprovided for. And, besides this, there are some men who are bigger than laws, and some are bigger than judges, and some judges have lessened themselves by fear and cowardice, by bribery and flattery, by iniquity and compliance; and where they have not, yet they have notices but of few causes; and there are some sins so popular and universal, that to punish them is either impossible or intolerable; and to question such, would betray the weakness of the public rods and axes, and represent the sinner to be stronger than the power that is appointed to be his bridle. And, after all this, we find sinners so prosperous that they escape, so potent that they fear not; and sin is made safe when it grows great;
-Facere omnia sævè
Non impune licet, nisi dum facis
and innocence is oppressed, and the poor cries, and he hath no helper; and he is oppressed, and he wants a patron. And for these and many other concurrent causes, if you reckon all the causes, that come before all the judicatories of the world, though the litigious are too many, and the matters of instance are intricate and numerous, yet the personal and criminal are so few, that of two thousand sins that cry aloud to God for vengeance, scarce two are noted by the public eye, and chastised by the hand of justice. It must follow from hence, that it is but reasonable, for the interest of virtue and the necessities of the world, that the private should be judged, and virtue should be tied upon the spirit, and the poor should be relieved, and the oppressed should appeal, and the noise of widows should be heard, and the saints should stand upright, and the cause that was ill judged, should be judged over again, and tyrants should be called to account, and our thoughts should be examined, and our secret actions viewed on all sides, and the infinite number of sins which escape here, should not escape finally. And therefore God hath so ordained it, that there shall be a day of doom, wherein all
that are let alone by men, shall be questioned by God, and every word and every action shall receive its just recompence of reward. "For we must all appear before the judgmentseat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
Τὰ ἴδια τοῦ σώματος, so it is in the best copies, not τὰ διὰ; "the things done in the body," so we commonly read it; "the things proper or due to the body;" so the expression is more apt and proper; for not only what is done diù caros, "by the body," but even the acts of abstracted understanding and violation, the acts of reflection and choice, acts of self-love and admiration, and whatever else can be supposed the proper and peculiar act of the soul or of the spirit, is to be accounted for at the day of judgment: and even these may be called for rou owμaros, because these are the acts of the man in the state of conjunction with the body. The words have in them no other difficulty or variety, but contain a great truth of the biggest interest, and one of the most material constitutive articles of the whole religion, and the greatest endearment of our duty in the whole world. Things are so ordered by the great Lord of all the creatures, that whatsoever we do or suffer, shall be called to account, and this account shall be exact, and the sentence shall be just, and the reward shall be great; all the evils of the world shall be amended, and the injustices shall be repaid, and the Divine Providence shall be vindicated, and virtue and vice shall for ever be remarked by their separate dwellings and rewards.
This is that which the apostle, in the next verse, calls "the terror of the Lord." It is his terror, because himself shall appear in his dress of majesty and robes of justice; and it is his terror, because it is, of all the things in the world, the most formidable in itself, and it is most fearful to us: where shall be acted the interest and final sentence of eternity; and because it is so intended, I shall all the way represent it as "the Lord's terror," that we may be afraid of sin, for the destruction of which this terror is intended. 1. Therefore, we will consider the persons that are to be judged, with the circumstances of our advantages or our sorrows; 66 we must all appear." 2. The Judge and his judgment-seat; "before the judgment-scat of Christ." 3. The sentence that they are
to receive; "the things due to the body, good or bad;" according as we now please, but then cannot alter. Every of these is dressed with circumstances of affliction and affrightment to those, to whom such terrors shall appertain as a portion of their inheritance.
I. The persons who are to be judged; even you, and I, and all the world; kings and priests, nobles and learned, the crafty and the easy, the wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the prevailing tyrant and the oppressed party, shall all appear to receive their symbol; and this is so far from abating any thing of its terror and our dear concernment, that it much increases it; for although concerning precepts and discourses, we are apt to neglect in particular, what is recommended in general, and in incidences of mortality and sad events, the singularity of the chance heightens the apprehension of the evil; yet it is so by accident, and only in regard of our imperfection; it being an effect of self-love, or some little creeping envy, which adheres too often to the unfortunate and miserable; or else, because the sorrow is apt to increase by being apprehended to be a rare case, and a singular unworthiness in him who is afflicted, otherwise than is common to the sons of men, companions of his sin, and brethren of his nature, and partners of his usual accidents; yet in final and extreme events, the multitude of sufferers does not lessen but increase the sufferings; and when the first day of judgment happened, that (I mean) of the universal deluge of waters upon the old world, the calamity swelled like the flood, and every man saw his friend perish, and the neighbours of his dwelling, and the relatives of his house, and the sharers of his joys, and yesterday's bride, and the new-born heir, the priest of the family, and the honour of the kindred, all dying or dead, drenched in water and the Divine vengeance; and then they had no place to flee unto, no man cared for their souls; they had none to go unto for counsel, no sanctuary high enough to keep them from the vengeance that rained down from heaven; and so it shall be at the day of judgment, when that world and this, and all that shall be born hereafter, shall pass through the same Red sea, and be all baptized with the same fire, and be involved in the same cloud, in which shall be thunderings and terrors infinite; every man's fear shall be increased by his neighbours' shrieks, and the amazement that