« ForrigeFortsæt »
Objection XV. Is not our immortality in scripture, described as built upon the incorruptible state of our new-raised bodies; I Cor. xv. 53. “ This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” But the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is not particularly found, or taught in scripture.
Answer. It is granted that the immortality of the new-raised body is built on that incorruptible sort of materials, of which it is to be formed, or which shall be mingled with it, or the incorruptible qualities which shall be given to it by God himself: But the soul is immortal in itself, whether with or without a body: And he that can read all those texts of scripture which have been before made use of in this essay, wherein the existence of the spirit after the death of the body is so plainly expressed, and cannot find the " immortality of the soul” in them, or the “ spirit's capacity of existence in a separate state from the body," must be left to his own sentiments to explain and verify the expressions of Christ and his apostles some other way: Or he must acknowledge that their expressions are somewhat incautious and dangerous, since it is evident, they lead thousands and ten thousands of wise and sober readers, into this sentiment of the soul's immortality.
Whether the soul in its own nature be necessarily immortal is a point of philosophy, and not to be sought for directly in scripture: But whether the great God the Governor of the world, has not appointed souls to exist in a separate state of happiness or misery after the bodies are dead, seems to me to be so plainly determined in many of the scriptures which have been cited, as leaves no sufficient reason to doubt of the truth of it. I
To conclude, though I think the doctrine of the separate state of souls to be of much importance in christianity, and that the denial of it carries great inconveniences, and weakens the motives to virtue and piety, by putting off all manner of rewards and punishments at such a distance as the general resurrection, yet I dare not contend for it as a matter of such absolute necessity, that a man cannot be a christian without it. But this must be confessed, that they who deny this doctrine, seem to have need of stronger inward zeal to guard them against temptation, and to keep their hearts always alive and watcbful to God and religion, since their motives to strict piety and virtue are sensibly weakened, by renouncing all belief of this nearer and more immediate commencement of heaven and
DISCOURSES ON THE WORLD TO COME.
mand sware, tha put into his 499. Wha
DISCOURSE I.-The End of Time. Rev. x. 5, 6.—And the Angel, which I saw stand upon the
Sea, and upon the Earth, lifted up his Hand to Heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever,- That
there should be Time no longer. THIS is the oath, and the solemn sentence of a mighty angel, who came down from heaven, and by the description of him in the first verse, he seems to be the angel of God's presence, in whom is the name of God, even our Lord Jesus Christ himself, who pronounced and sware, that time should be no longer ; for all seasons and times are now put into his band, together with the book of bis Father's decrees ; Rev. v. 7, 9. What special age or period of time, in this world the prophecy refers to, may not be so easy to determine; but this is certain, that it may be happily applied to the period of every man's life; for whensoever the term of our continuance in this world is finished, our time in the present circumstances and scenes that attend it shall be no more. We shall be swept off the stage of this visible state into an unseen and eternal world : Eternity comes upon us at once, and all that we enjoy, all that we do, and all that we suffer in time shall be no longer.
Let us stand still here and consider in the first place, what awful and important thoughts are contained in this sentence, what solemo ideas skould arise to the view of mortal creatures, when it shall be pronounced concerning each of them, that time shall be no more.
1. “ The time of the recovery of our nature from its sinful and wretched state shall be no longer.” We come into this world fallen creatures, children of iniquity and heirs of death ; we have lost the image of God who made us, and which our nature enjoyed in our first parents; and, instead of it, we are changed into the image of the devil in the lusts of the mind, in pride and malice, in self-sufficiency and enmity to God; and we lave put on also the image of the brute in sinful appetites and sensualities, and in the lusts of the flesh; nor can we ever be made truly happy, till the image of the blessed God be restored upon us till we are made holy, as he is holy, till we bave a divine change passed upon us, whereby we are created anew, and reforined in heart and practice. And this life is the only time
given us for this important change. If this life be finished before the image of God be restored to us, this image will never be restored; but we shall bear the likeness of devils for ever; and perhaps the image of the brute too at the resurrection of the body, and be further off from God and all that is holy, than ever we were upon earth.
Of what infinite importance is it then, to be frequently awakening ourselves at special seasons and periods of life, to enquire whether this image of God is begun to be renewed, whether we have this glorious change wrought in us, whether our desires and delights are fixed upon holy and heavenly things, instead of those sensual and earthly objects, which draw away all our souls from God and heaven. Let it appear to us as a matter of utmost moment to seek after this change; let us pursue it with unwearied labours, and strivings with our own hearts, and perpetual importunities at the throne of grace, lest the voice of him who swears that there shall be time no longer, should seize us in some unexpected moment, and lest he swear in his wrath con. cerning us, Let him that is unholy be unholy still, and let him that is filthy be filthy still; Rev. xxii. 11.
II. When this sentence is pronounced concerning us, "the season and the means of restoring us to the favour and love of God shall be no longer.” We are born children of wrath, as well as the sons and daughters of iniquity ;'' Eph. ii. 3. We have lost the original favour of our Maker and are banished from his love, and the superior blessings of his goodness; and yet, blessed be the Lord that we are not at present for ever banished beyond all hope: This time of life is given to us to seek the recovery of the love of God, by returning to him according to the gospel of bis Son : Now is pardon apel peace, now is grace and salvation preached unto men, to sinful wretched men, who are at enmity with God, and the objects of his high displeasure; now the voice of mercy calls to us, “ This is the accepted time, this is the day of salvation ;" 2 Cor. vi. 2. "To-day if ye will hear his voice, let not your hearts be bardened to refuse it;" Heb.iii. 15. Now the fountain of the blood of Christ is set open to wash our souls from the guilt of sin ; now all the springs of his mercy are broken up in the ininistrations of the gospel; now “ God is in Christ reconciling singers to himself;" 2 Cor. v. 19. and “ he was sent us his ministers to intreat you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God; and we beseech you in his name, continue not one day or one hour longer in your enmity and rehellion, but be ye reconciled to God your Creator, and accept of his offered forgiveness and grace,” verse 20.
The moment is hastening upon us, when this mighty angel who manages the affairs of the kingdom of providence, shall swear concerning every unbelieving and iinpenitent sioner, that the time of offered mercy shall be no longer, the time of par. dou and grace and reconciliation shall be no more :" 'The sound of this mercy reaches not to the regions of the dead; those who die before they are reconciled, they die under the load of all their sins and must perish for ever, without the least hope or glimpse of reconciling or forgiving grace.
II. At the term of this mortal life, “ the time of prayer and repentalice and service for Gud or man in this world sball be no lo!iger." Eccles. ix. 10. There is no work, nor device, for knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest, whither we are all hastening. Let every sinful creature therefore ask himself, “ Have I never yet begun to pray? Never begun to call upon the mercy of the God that made me Never begun to repent of all my crimes and follies? Nor begun ia good carnest to do service for God, or to honour him amongst jpen?" Dreadful thought indeed! When, it may be the next hour we inay be put out of all capacity and opportunity to do it for ever! As soon as ever an impenitent sinner has the veil of death drawn over him, all his opportunities of this kind are for ever ent off: He that has never repented, never prayed, never lionoured his God, shall never be able to pray or repent, or do anything for God or bis honour through all the ages of his future immortality : Nor is there any propise idade to repenting or returning sinners in the other world, whither we are bastening.
As the tree falls when it is cut down, so it lies, und it must for rer lie; pointing to the north or the south, to liell or heaven ; Eccles. xi. 3.
And indeed there is no true prayer, no sincere repentance can be exercised after this life; for the soul that has wasted away all its time given for repentance and prayer, is at the monuent of death left under everlasting hardness of heart; and whatsoever enmity against God and godliness was found in the Heart in this world, is increased in the world to come, when all manner of softening means and mercies are ever at an end. This Jeads me to the next thought.
IV. "How wretched soever our state is at death, the day of hope is ended, and it returns vo more." Be our circumstances never so bad, yet we are not completely wretched while the time of hope remains. We are all by nature miscrable by reason rif sin, but it is only despair can perfect our misery. Therefore fallen angels are sealed up under misery because there is no door of hope opened for thew. But in this life there is hope for the vorst of sinful men: There is the word of grace and hope calling ther in the gospel; there is the voice of divine mercy sounding in the sanctuary, and blessed are they that hear the joyful sound; Ps. Ixxxix. 15. But if we turn the deaf ear to the voice of God and his Soo, and to all the tender and compassionate entreaties of a dying Saviour, hope is hastening to its period; for this very angel will shortly swear, that this joyful sound shall be heard no longer.
He comes now to the door of our hearts, he sues there for admittance,“ open unto me and receive me as your Saviour and your Lord, give me and my gospel free admission, and I will come in and bestow upon you the riches of my grace and all my salvation : Open your hearts to me with the holy desires and humble submission of penitence, and receive the blessings of righteousness and pardon and eternal life.” He now invites you to return to God, with an acknowledgment and renunciation of every sin, and he offers to take you by thc hand, and introduce you into his Father's presence with comfort : This is a day of hope for the vilest and most hateful criminals ; but if you continue to refuse, he will shortly swear in his wrath, you shall never enter into his kingdom, you shall never taste of the provisions of his grace, you shall never be partakers of the blessings purchased with his blood. Heb. iii. ii, 18. I sware in my wrath, saith the Lord, they shall not enter into my rest.
Oh the dreadful state of sinful creatures who continue in such obstinacy, who waste away the means of grace and the seasons of hope week after week, and month after month, till the day of grace and hope is for-ever at an end with them? Hopeless creatures! Under the power and the plague of sin, under the wrath and curse of a God, under the eternal displeasure of Jesus, who was once the minister of his Father's love, and they must abide under all this wretchedness through a long eternity, and in the land of everlasting despair. But I forbear that theme at present, and proceed.
V. At the moment of our death “ the time of our preparation for the hour of judgment, and for the insurance of hea. ven and happiness shall be no longer.” Miserable creatures that are summoned to die thus unprepared! This life is the only time to prepare for dying, to get ready to stand before the Judge of the whole earth, and to secure our title to the hea. venly blessedness. Let my heart enquire, “ Have I ever seriously begun to prepare for a dying hour, and to appear before the Judge of all? Have I ever concerned myself in good earnest, to secure an interest in the heavenly inheritance, when this earthly tabernacle shall be dissolved ? Have I ever made interest for the favour of God, and a sbare of the inheritance of the saints by Jesus the great Mediator, while he afforded life and time"
Death is daily and hourly hastening upon us : Death is the king of terrors,' and will fulfil all his name to every soul that is unprepared. It is a piece of wisdom then for every one of us, since we must die, to scarch and feel whether death has lost its