« ForrigeFortsæt »
Will not God, that meds abroad his love in our hearts by his spirit kere, fully satisfy it hereafter? Will not God, who fills us here with the joy of his Spirit, by I kņow not what inconceivable ways, communicate himself in a more ravishing and ecftatick manner to us, when we hall behold bim as he is, and Live for ever incircled in the arms of his love and glory? Upon the whole then, I cannot but believe, that the beatific Vision will be the fupreme pleasure of beaven: yet I do not think that this is to exclude those of an inferior nature. God will be there, not only all , but in all
. We fall fee him as he is; and we shall fee hiin reflected, in angels, and all the inhabitants of heaven; nay, in all the various treasures of that happy place : but in far more bright and lovely characters than in his works here below This is a state, now, that answers all ends, and fatisfies all appetites, let them be never fo various, never so boundless
. Temporal good, nay a state accumulated with all temporal goods, has still famething defective, fomething empty in it: That which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbred. And therefore the eye is not satisfied with feeing, nor the ear with bearing : but all things are full of laheur; man.cannat utter it. And if this were leat the fate of temparal things, yet that One thought of Saloman that be must leave
them, makes good the charge of vanity and vexation: and the contrary is that which compleats heaven ; namely, that it is eternal. Were heaven to have an end, that end would make it none • That death would be as much more intolerable than this here, as the joys of heaven are above those of earth. For the terror, and the evil of it, would be to be estimated, by the perfection of that nature and happiness which it would put an end to. To dye in paradise, amidst à crowd of satisfactions, how much more intolerable were this, than to dye in those accursed regions that breed continually briars and brambles, cares and sorrows ? And now, I doubt not, but every one will readily acknowledge, that an heaven, were it believed, were such a fruit of Christian Liberty, such a motive to it, as none could reßft. Did I believe this, have I heard one say, I would quit my trade, and all cares and thoughts of this world, and wholly apply my self to get that other you talk of. There was no need of going thus far: but this shews what the natural influence of this doctrine of a life to come is; and that it is generally owing to infidelity, where 'tis frustrated and defeated. W bat is in this case to be done? What proof, what evidences, are sufficient to beget faith in birn, who rejects Christianity and all divine revelation? He that bears not Mofes and the prophets, Christ and his apo
files, neither will be believe though one rose from the dead. This doctrine of a life to come was generally believed by the Gentile world. It was indeed very much obscured, but never extinguished, by the addition of many fabulous and superstitious fancies ; so strong was the tradition or reason, or rather both, on which ’twas built. The Jews universally embraced it. The general promises of God to Abraham and his feed, and the several sadows and types of it in the Mosaic institution, did confirm them in the belief of a doctrine, which I do not doubt, had been transmitted to them even from Enoch, Noah, and all their pious ancestors. Nor must we look upon
the Sadducees amongst the Jews, or the Epicureans amongst the Gentiles, to be any objection against this argument of a life to come, founded in tradition and the universal sense of mankind : because they were not only inconsiderable, compared to the body of the Jewish or Pagan world, but also deferters and apoftates from the philosophy and religion received. To what end should I proceed from the Gentile and few to the Christian? Were Christianity entertained as it ought, the very fuppofal of any doubt concerning a life to come would be impertinent. Here we have numerous demonstrations of it. Not only the fortune of virtue in this life, which is often very calamitous, but even the origin and nature
of it, do plainly evince a life to come. For to what end can the mortification of the box dy, by abstractions and meditations, be enjoyned, if there be no life to come? What keed is there of renovation, or regeneration, by the Word and Spirit of God, were there me life to come ? One would think, the common end of this natural life might be well enough fécured upon the common foundation of reafon and human laws. What
fhould I here add, the love of God, and the merits of Jefus? from bath which we may derive many unanswerable arguments of a life to come. For though, when we reflect upon it, it appears as much above our merit, as it is above our comprebenbor; yet when we consider, that eternal life is the gift of God through Jefus Cbrift our Lord; what less than an heaven can we expect from an infinite merit and almigbty dove? The love of God must be perfect as bimeibf : and the merits of Jefus must be eftimated by the greatnefs of his perfon, and his fufferings. He that cannot be morought zepon by these and the like gfpel arguments, will be found, I doubt, impenetrable to all others. 'Tis in vain to argue with fuch a one from natural topicks : and thenefore I will pop here.
I fhould now pass on to the third thing, the attainment of Christian Liberty: but this chapter is grown much too big already:
and to the consideration of the fruit of this liberty, which I have so long insistedon, nothing more needs to be added, but the observation of those rules, which I shall lay down in the following chapters. For whatever advice will fecure the several parts of our liberty, will consequently secure the whole. I will therefore close this chapter here; with a brief exhortation, to endeavour after deliverance from fin. How many and powerful motives have we to it? Would we free our felves from the evils of this life? let us dam up the fource of them, which is pn. Would we surmount the fear of death ? let us difarm it of its sting, and that is fin. Would we perfect and accomplish our natures with all excela lent qualities? 'tis righteoufness wherein consists the image of God, and participation of the divine nature: 'tis the cleaning our selves from all filthiness of the hefs and spirit, and the perfecting holiness in the fear of God, that mult transform us from glory to glory. Would we be masters of the most glorious fortunes? 'tis righteousness that will make us heirs of God, and joint-beirs with Chrift: 'tis the conquest of our hins, and the abounding in good works, that will make us rich towards God, and lay up for us a good foundation for the life to come. Are we ambitious of honour ? let us free our felves from the fervitude of fin.