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CHAPTER I. Of the Nature of Method - Natural and Arbitrary, Sya-
thetic and Analogical
THE WORLD TO COME;
JOYS OR SORROWS OF DEPARTED SOULS AT DEATH,
GLORY OR TERROR OF THE RESURRECTION :
WHERETO IS PREFIXED,
PROOF OF A SEPARATE STATE OF SOULS AFTER DEATH,
A MONG all the solemn and important things, which relate to religion, , there is nothing that strikes the soul of man, with so much awe and solemnity, as the scenes of death, and the dreadful or delightful consequents, which attend it. Who can think of entering into that unknown region, where spirits dwell, without the strongest impressions upon the mind arising from so strange a manner of existence? Who can take a survey of the resurrection of millions of the dead, and of the tribunal of Christ, whence men and angels must receive their doom, without the most painful solicitude, “ What will my sentence be?” Who can meditate on the intense and unmingled pleasure or pain in the world to come, without the most pathetic emotions of soul, since each of us must be determined to one of these states, and they are both of everlasting daration ?
These are the things, that touch the springs of every passion, in the most sensible manner, and raise our hopes and our fears to their supreme exercise. These are the subjects, with which, our blessed Saviour and bis apostles frequently entertained their bearers, in order to persuade them to hearken, and attend to the divine lessons, which they published amongst them. These were some of the sharpest weapons of their holy warfare, wbich entered into the inmost vitals of mankind, and pierced their consciences with the highest solicitude. These have been the happy means to awaken thousands of sinners, to flee from the wrath to come; and to allure and hasten them to enter into that glorious refuge, that is set before them in the gospel.
It is for the same reason, that I have selected a few discourses, on these arguments, out of my public ministry, to set them before the eyes of the world in a more public manner, that if possible, some thoughtless creatures might be rouzed out of their sinful slumbers, and might awake into a spiritual and eternal life, through the concurring influences of the blessed Spirit.
I am not willing 10 disappoint my readers, and therefore I would let them know before-hand, that they will find very little, in this book, to gratify their curiosity about the many questions relating to the invisible world, and the things, which God has not plainly revealed: Something of this kind, perhaps, may be found in “Two Discourses of Death and Heaven," which I published long ago : But, in the present discourses, I have very much neglected such carious enquiries. Nor will the ear, that has an itch for controversy, be much entertained here, for I have avoided matters of doubtful debate. Nor need the most zealous man of orthodoxy, fear to be led astray into new and dangerous sentiments, if he will but take the plainest and most evident dictates of scripture for his direction into all truth.
My only design has been, to set the great and most momentous things of a future world, in the most convincing and affecting light, and to enforce them upon the conscience with all the fervour, that such subjects demand and require. And may our blessed Redeemer, who reigns Lord of the invisible world, pronounce these words with a divine power, to the heart of every man, who shall either read, or hear them.
If this volume shall find any considerable acceptance among christians, there are several more discourses, on the same themes, lying by me, which may, in time, be communicated to the world.
The treatise, which is set as an introduction to this book, was printed several years ago, without the author's name, and there in a short preface, represented to the reader these few reasons of its writing and publication, viz.
* The principles of atheism and infidelity have prevailed so far upon our age, as to break in upon the sacred fences of virtue and piety, and to destroy the noblest and most effectual springs of true and vital religion ; I mean those which are contained in the blessed gospel. The doctrine of the resurrection of the body, and the consequent states of heaven and hell, is a guard and motive of divine force; but it is renounced by the enemies of our holy chrise : tianity : And should we give up the recompences of separate souls, while the deist denies the resurrection of the body, I fear, between both, we should sadly enfeeble, and expose the cause of virtue, and leave it too naked and defenceless. The christian wonld have but one persuasive of this kind remaiping, and the deist would have none at all.
It is necessary, therefore, to be upon our guard, and to establish every motive, that we can derive, either from reason or scripture, to secure religion in the world. The doctrine of the state of separate spirits, and the com-' mencement of rewards and punishment immediately after death, is one of those sacred fences of virtue, which we borrow from scripture, and it is highly favoured by reason, and therefore it may not be unseasonable to publish such arguments as may tend to the support of it.
In this second edition of this small treatise, I have added several paragraphs and pages, to defend the same doctrine, and the last section contains an answer to various new objections, which I had not met with when I first began to write on this subject. I hope it is set upon such a firm foundation of many scriptures, as cannot possibly be overturned, nor do I think it a very easy matter any way to evade the force of them. May the grace of God lead us on further into every truth, that tends to maintain and propagate faith and holiness. Amen.
Note, Where these discourses shall be used, as a religious service, in private families on Lord's-day evenings, each of them will afford a division near the middle, lest the service be made too long and tiresome.