Page images


[ocr errors]

of Person is this, who requires so much at our Hands.

If he is indeed the Son of if all Power in Heaven and Earth is given him by the Father; if he is constituted by God Judge of all Men, there is a clear Reason to justify his Demand, and our Obedience : But if he was only a mere Teacher of Morality and Religion, how is he to be justified in pretending to be the only Son of God, in pretending to have all Power given him in Heaven and Earth, and to be appointed Judge of all Men? You must either own him under these Characters, or you must condemn him as an Impostor for claiming them. How far those who are willing to admit Christ to be a good Teacher, but refuse to acknowledge him in any other Character, are chargeable with seeing this Consequence, I know not; nor can I fee, if they consider it, how they can avoid it.

When therefore we read that our Lord requires of us to confess him before Men, the true Way to know what we are to confefs, is to reflect what he confessed himself; for it cannot be supposed that he thought it reasonable for himself to make one Confession, and for his Disciples and Servants to make another. Look then into the Gospel,


and fee his own Confession: He confeffed himself to be the only Son of God; to come from the Bosom of the Father to die for the Sins of the World; to have all Power given to him in Heaven and Earth; to be the Judge of the World.

When you have weighed these Things, read his Words, and judge what your Duty is : Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my Words, in this adulterous and finful Generation, of him also fall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometb in the Glory of bis Father, with the boly Angels.



2 CORINTHIANS V. 10, 11. We must all appear before the Judgment-feat

of Chrijl, that every one may receive the Things done in bis Body, according to that

he hath done, wbether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the Terrors of the Lord,

we persuade Men.

180 $ *T is the Privilege and distin

guishing Character of a rational Being to be able to look forward

into Futurity, and to consider #pagelist

his Actions, not only with respect to the present Advantage or Disadvantage arising from them, but to view them in their Consequences through all the Parts of Time in which himself may possibly exist.

. If, therefore we value the Privilege of being


reasonable Creatures, the only way to preserve it, is to make use of it; and by extending our Views into all the Scenes of Futurity, in which we ourselves must bear a Part, to lay the Foundation of solid and durable Happiness.

By the Exercise of this Power of Reason, the Wisest among the Heathens discovered, ; that there was Ground for Men to have Expectations beyond this Life. They saw plainly that themselves, and all Things that fell under their Observation, were dependent Beings on the Will and Power of him who formed them; and when they fought to find him, they were led by a necessary Chain of Reasoning to the Acknowledgment of a supreme, independent,intelligent Being. They saw in every Part of the Creation evident Marks of his Power, Wisdom, and Good. ness: They discerned that all the inanimate Parts of the World acted perpetually in Submission to the Law of their Creation; the Sun and all the Host of Heaven were constant to their Courses; and, in every other part, the Powers of Nature were duly and regularly exerted for the Preservation of the

present System: Among Men only they found Disorder and Confusion. That they had


Reason, was plain; that they were intended to live according to Reafon, could not be doubted; and yet they saw Virtue often diftressed and abandoned to all the Evils of Life, Vice triumphant, and the World everywhere subject to the Violence of Pride and Ambition. How to account for this they knew not: This only they could observe, that Man was endowed with a Freedom in acting, which the other Beings of the lower World wanted; and to this they rightly ascribed the Disorders to be found in this Part of the Creation. But though this accounted for the Growth of Evil, yet it rendered no Account of the Justice or Goodness of God in permitting Vice oftentimes to reign here in Glory, whilst Virtue suffered in Distress. Upon these Considerations they concluded, that there must be another State after this, in which all the present Inequalities in the Administration of Providence should be set right, and every Man receive according to his Works.

This was, this is the Ground of our natural Expectation of a Life after this. But upon this Ground of Truth many Fables and Stories were raised, by Fear and Superstition, and by the Power of Imagination : So that Vol. III.



[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »