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death. For nothing, I apprehend, can less admit of dispute, than that virtue is, in this world, very frequently, either totally or very inadequately rewarded; and that vice, on the other hand, is as frequently wholly unpunished. These are facts of which all history is full ; and they consist, indeed, almost with every man's personal observation.

That the best of human beings do frequently pass their whole lives in suffering of various kinds; and that guilt of the most atrocious description, remains frequently undetected and unpunished—whilst the criminal enjoys external prosperity, not perhaps always much impaired even by the pangs of conscience, can admit of no doubt. And this has been the foundation of all those vague and absurd notions of a future state, which have prevailed in the world, before the Christian era, and since, wherever Christianity has not yet penetrated. And such is our total inability to fathom of ourselves the designs of Providence upon this subject, that but for the revelation of the Gospel, we should never have been able to advance the matter beyond probable conjecture. True, (we should have said) such an hypothesis will alone solve to our

minds the apparent difficulties of the present
system of things. But there may be other
ways totally unknown to us, of accounting
for and explaining these difficulties; and a
future state, resting only upon hypothesis,
would be deficient in one of its main ends.
It would want that degree of certainty and
assurance, which is requisite to make it an
efficient motive to virtue; and, accordingly,
we do not find that it had any material influ-
ence upon
the lives of the pagan world.

very

But its promulgation by Divine authority, in the person of our Saviour, has been of a different character. If it has not operated so powerfully and extensively as we might naturally have expected, still there can be no doubt that it has produced the most important effects upon the lives of millions who have adopted it, as an article of their Christian creed; and that because it has been taught in a manner to enable them to place the firmest reliance upon its truth.

The two principal points which we have now to consider, are both contained in the text. First-The fact, that after death we shall receive judgment; which implies the necessity of our re-existence for that purpose.

And

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secondly, the manner of our receiving that judgment; namely, by Christ's re-appearance to pronounce it. With respect to the first point, it will be unnecessary to quote, at present, in confirmation of the doctrine of the text, our Saviour's express words upon that subject, as I shall have occasion to cite them hereafter. But there is one circumstance connected with it, which it is of importance to notice-We are assured, that our future judgment shall take place at the end of the world. Now, were the world to be eternal, there can be no doubt that that would be no impediment to every man's appearing before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive the things done in his body, whether they be good or bad. For any thing that we could know independent of revelation, those who die might receive judgment, though all things should continue here as they were from the beginning of the Creation.

It may be a question, therefore, with some persons, whether the introduction of this circumstance, of the termination of the world, does or does not add probability to the doctrine itself. And I have no difficulty in saying, that in my opinion it does considerably

strengthen its probability. Carrying our thoughts backward, we become as perfectly convinced as we can be of any thing, that there must have been a time when every thing that at present exists, had a beginning, different from that to which we are now accus tomed. The seed now becomes a plant, and again the plant produces seed, and so on in constant succession; but whence originally the seed or the plant? one or the other of them must have proceeded from a power extrinsical to themselves. Such, at least, is the inevitable conclusion to which our minds.must come when we reflect upon the matter, even with regard to mere vegetable existence.— And when we come to consider the phenomena of animal and intellectual life, this conclusion is still more irresistibly forced upon us.

Again, every thing which we collect from history, ancient or modern, the known rise of civilized states, or the present condition of barbarous countries, the observations of naturalists respecting the formation of the earth, and the changes which it appears to have undergone all concur to convince us that its origin has been comparatively of recent date; probably, not longer than that assigned to it

by our Scriptural chronology.

It is true

that there are in the east traditions, which claim for it a much longer duration; but though we cannot allow the authority of any of these to be comparable with that of the Old Testament, still, were we to grant them, for the sake of argument, the utmost latitude, they would not affect our conclusion, that the world has had a beginning; and if so, the probability is, that it will also have an end.— If it has not been eternal a parte ante, there can be no reason why it should be so a parte post. And, therefore, the doctrine of Scripture respecting the end of the world, is confirmed both by the results of our observation and the deductions of our reason.

But there is a further question, of considerable interest, as to what we are taught by the New Testament, with regard to the period when the end of the world shall take place. There are a few passages of great, perhaps of insuperable difficulty, upon this subject; for it is sometimes easier to determine with certainty what cannot be the sense of Scripture, than to say, positively, what it is. It is sufficient for us, if we can vindicate its general truth and consistency, upon all great and

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