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on Sinners; then all Sinners, however un-SERM.IV. equal their Crimes may be, would be equally punished. If all were alike to be deprived of Being; God would make no Diftinction, where there is a very material Difference, between the greatest and the least of Sinners.

Farther, the Soul is an uncompounded, immaterial Being, and therefore not corruptible as Matter is. Now if God has created the Soul in it's Nature immortal; then he cannot uncreate, or render it mortal, without acting contrary to the fixed and ftated Laws of Nature: But God never acts contrary to his ftated Laws, except upon fome extraordinary Emergency. Well then, where is the extraordinary Occafion, that the Deity fhould fuperfede his own. Laws, and put forth an immediate Act of Almighty Power, to reduce thofe Souls to nothing, which he had empowered to subfift for ever? How can it be expected, that He, who never annihilates the leaft Particle of Matter, the leaft infignificant Atom, should annihilate a spiritual Substance? Why a Set of obftinately rebellious Creatures have plunged themselves into Mifery, by wilfully, deliberately, and frequently breaking the Laws of Morality: And VOL. II,

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SERM.IV.do they expect, that God will remove that Mifery, by breaking through the Laws of Nature, which he has established upon the maturest Wisdom, for the Good of the Whole?


This we

Yes, fay the Objectors: For he does not love to inflict ufelefs and unavailing Mifery his Creatures: And it is asked, what Use the Punishment of these unhappy Objects can be of? To which I anfwer, that we, whose Judgments are very fhallow, must not pretend to arraign his Proceedings, which are like the great Deep. may take for granted, that no Evil is fuffered to continue in the Creation, but to prevent or avoid a greater. And the Continuance of these Beings in their wretched Existence may be of Advantage to let the World in general know the deplorable Confequences of an audacious Perfeverance in a wilful Rebellion to their Creator, and to confirm the Blessed in particular in their Happiness. For the Bleffed in Heaven are endued with Freedom of Will. We know indeed, because God hath promised it; that, notwithstanding this Freedom of Will, they will never fall from that blissful State. But whether the Reflection on the Punishment

Punishment of the Wicked may not be one SERM.IV. confiderable Means, among others, to keep them invariably firm in an uninterrupted Practice of Goodness, and confequently in an uninterrupted Enjoyment of Happiness ; this, I prefume, we cannot determine. In God's Houfe, the World, there are many Manfions; and Variety of Beings may still continue to people the Variety of Apartments in the Univerfe, after this Earth is diffolved. Perhaps, as the Fall of the Angels, is revealed to us; so these unhappy Sufferers may serve to give awakening Notices to others, who inhabit fome other Part of the Creation, left they alfo fall into the fame State of Condemnation. that as it will; God has a thousand Ways of bringing Good, general Good, out of partial Evil, and making the Punishment of the Bad, as well as Happiness of the Good, terminate in his own Glory.


This may ferve as an Answer to those, who afk, why God would produce into the World Beings, who he forefaw would be eternally miferable? The Reply is obviWhy did he produce into the World Beings, that he forefaw would be exposed here to innumerable Misfortunes? Why


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SERM.IV. did he permit, what he could not but foresee, temporal Evils; fuch as Volcano's, Earthquakes, Famines, Plagues, &c? But these temporary Evils, you will fay, are productive of fome greater temporary Good. Well, if God may permit a temporary Evil, which he forefaw, to take place, because productive of a greater temporary Good; why may he not permit an eternal Evil, which he forefaw, to take place, because productive of an eternal Good? Or will these Perfons demonftrate, that no eternal Good can refult by God's infinite Wisdom, from an eternal Evil? But there is a wide Difference between temporary and eternal Evils It is granted; yet the fame Principle, which vindicates God's Ways with Men, as to temporary Curfes, acquits him likewife as to fuffering eternal Evils, viz. That from both he can draw a much greater Good, and caufe what is Evil reSpectively to a few, to be abfolutely Good upon the Whole.


Knowing the Terror of the Lord, fays St. Paul, we perfuade Men. Yet fome very worthy Perfons, mifled, I conceive, by an Excess of Good-Nature, have weakned, instead of alarming, the Terrors of



the Wicked. Those good Men, who SERM.IV.
pofe this Doctrine, may have to do with
others that are not fo; and one would be
glad to know, where they would, or indeed
where they can stop. If eternal Punish-
ments be thought exceffive by them, will
not others remonftrate against a Punish-
ment of a thousand Years as of too long a
Duration for the Sins of this fhort Life?
Nay, will not that of an hundred Years, or
fifty; or indeed any given Space of Time,
that is confiderable, be liable to the fame
Objection? There is no End of yielding,
and one Conceffion does but pave the Way
to another. When once they have given,
up the Eternity of Punishments, when
once they have deferted that Post which
was strictly tenable; they may be driven
backwards by thofe, who will difpute eve-

Inch of Ground with them; till at laft
they have not fufficient Ground left to
ftand upon.

And let them seriously reflect, what they are doing. Whether at a Time, when the Torrent of Wickedness rifes high, and makes every thinking Man befides themfelves afraid; whether at fuch a Juncture it be proper to break down, or lower those Fences

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