« PoprzedniaDalej »
SERM.IV. Fences and Mounds, which keep out the Overflowings of Ungodlinefs? " Our Defire, and Love, and Hope, (fays a great * Writer *) are not fo apt to be wrought
upon by the Promifes of Rewards and "Happiness; as our Fear is from the Ap"prehenfion of the Divine Displeasure. "For, (as he obferves) though we have "loft in a great Measure the Guft and "Relish of true Happiness; yet we still "retain a quick Senfe of Pain and Mifery."
Celfus, though a profeffed Enemy to Christianity, yet commends the Christians for maintaining that the Good Should be happy hereafter; but the Unrighteous doomed to Punishments ftrictly eternal: From which Opinion, fays he, neither let them, nor any other Mortal depart. † But I proceed,
IIdly, To confider the Nature of future Punishments.
Some there are, who will not allow, that God immediately and directly, by a pofitive Act, confers any Rewards upon Virtue, or inflicts any Punishment upon.
Archbishop Tillotson, Vol. 1. Page 3d.
† Celfus apud Origenem ; Pag. 409. Editio Cantab.
Vice, here or hereafter. All the Penalties SERM.IV. and Rewards they admit of are fuch, as naturally flow from our Actions. Thus they make Hell to be nothing but a Remorfe of Conscience, an infeparable Attendant, as they think, on Wickedness. This is, in effect, to dethrone God as a Legiflator, to weaken the Interefts of Virtue, and to make dangerous Conceffions in Favour of Vice. For, if this Scheme were true; then the greatest Sinners would have the leaft Punishment, perhaps none at all: For the greatest Sinners are hardened, past all Remorse, all Feeling, but that of Pain. Thofe, on the other hand, that have made the leaft Advances in Vice, would bear the greatest Punishment, as they would feel the moft Remorse. Whereas God most abhors, and confequently will moft feverely punish, those, who are so far from having any Compunctions of Conscience, that they delight in Wickedness.
We have standing Proofs of the Deluge to this Day. The Exuvia of Sea Creatures, the numerous Beds of Shell-Fish, and other Spoils of the Ocean depofited on the higheft Hills, found not only in Islands, but in Continents, where the Sea could never I 4
SERM.IV. come, but by a Miracle, are so many in
conteftable Demonftrations and authentic Monuments of the Deluge; as that is an authentic Monument of God's Justice and Vengeance; and that He, who cut off all the old World except eight Persons, for their Sins, is not a Being quite fo eafy in Refpect of Vice, as we may fondly imagine. In fhort, the whole Universe witneffeth, that a Deluge of Waters once overfpread the Univerfe. And if even in this World, which is defigned for a State of Trial and Probation, and not for an exact diftributive Juftice, proportioned to Men's feveral Merits and Demerits, God could involve all Mankind, except fome few, in one promifcuous Ruin; what Punishments may await the Impenitent, when the last decifive Day of Justice and Judgment cometh? May not thofe Senfes, which God has created to be fo many Inlets of Pleasure, become fo many Avenues of Pain and Anguish?
I know fome have denied a local Hell. But it is very clear from Scripture. Depart from me, ye Workers of Iniquity, into the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels. i. e. Depart from the Place, where I am;
into that, where the Devil and his Angels SERM.IV. are to be. And again, the Devils befought our Saviour, that he would not command them to go out into the Deep; or, as it is in the Original, into the Abyss. It appears then that the Bad go from this World, where there is only a Mixture of Evils, into a Scene of mere Mifery, Horror, and Torment. If God, who delights to communicate Happiness to as many Beings as the Universe can conveniently hold, has, in Purfuance of this Scheme, filled every beautiful and agreeable Province in it with Creatures fufceptive of Felicity in the Pursuit of Virtue and Perfection; the neceffary Confequence is, that thofe Creatures, who have difqualified themselves for Happiness, must be condemned to difmal and uncomfortable Manfions; from which, probably, after the laft Adjustment of Things, there will be no Outlet, nor Poffibility of making an Inroad upon the Reft of the Creation. There will be a Congruity between the Nature of the Place, and that of the Inhabitants, which will fettle them there; and every one, like Judas, must go to his own Place. It is idle to difpute, whether the Fire denounced against the unrelenting
SERM. IV. be metaphorical or real. Suppose it a Metaphor; yet those Metaphors, which reprefent Things of another World, do not ge. nerally exceed the Originals, or the Reality of the Things defigned to be fhadowed out by them.
The Ingredients of future Punishment are partly pofitive, and partly the natural Confequences of bad Actions, viz. Appetites ever craving and clamorous, but ever unfatisfied; Tribulation and Anguish upon every Soul that doth Evil: An eternal Banishment from the bleffed Prefence of God, and the Society of Angels, and just Men made perfect; and a Confinement to the Company of malicious Spirits, an everlasting Torment to themselves, and ever tormenting all about them.
My God, my God, why haft thou forfaken
me? Our Saviour cried out, when he felt only a momentary and partial Eclipse of the Light of the divine Countenance. But when a deep and genuine Defpair faddens the Scene all around, without the leaft Beam of Light from any Point of Heaven; then I was going to defcribe the Mifery. But if Words can paint this Night-Piece of Horror, the Copy must be drawn by