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But the arguments of the Gospel are (and thanks be to God that they are) of quite à different fort. It fets before us the declarations of God himself, "That there fhall be à "refurrection of the dead, both of the just and "the unjuft; that God hath appointed a day " in which he will judge the world in righ"teousness; and that we must all appear "before the judgement-feat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in "his body, according to that he hath done, "whether it be good or bad *.” To convince us, not only of the poffibility, but of the certainty, of fo wonderful an event, it appeals to facts; it fhews us Chrift himself, "rifen from the dead, and become the first "fruits of them that flept." It afterwards exhibits him to us in a ftill more illuftrious point of view. It reprefents him as "coming in the clouds of heaven, with power "and great glory, to judge the world. The trumpet founds, and the dead, both small "and great, are raised up; and before him
are gathered" (what an awful and astonishing spectacle!) ALL THE NATIONS OF
Acts xxiv. 15; xvii, 3 ; 2 Cor. v. 19.
"THE EARTH; and he feparates them one. "from another, as a fhepherd divideth his fheep from the goats, The books are
opened, and he judgeth them out of the "things that are written in the books, according to their works; and the wicked. away into everlafting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal *."
These are not profound and curious fpeculations, beyond the reach of common apprehenfions. They are plain facts, and folemn denunciations from the very highest authority, fpeaking with equal force to all ranks of men, and, by their fimplicity and dignity, adapted no lefs to the capacity of the illiterate than to the most exalted conceptions of the learned. Hence it has come to pass, that these divine truths being preached to the poor as well as to the rich (a circumftance peculiar to the Gofpel, and therefore mentioned as one of its diftinguishing characteristics +) have conveyed to the very humbleft difciples of Christ far clearer ideas, and jufter notions, of a future
Matth. xxiv. 30. 1 Cor. xv. 52. Rev. xx. 12. Matth. XXV. 32, 46.
+ Matth. xi. 5.
state, than were to be found in all the celebrated schools of philofophy at Athens or at Rome.
3. But there is still another point, and that of the utmost confequence, respecting a future state, in which the infinite fuperiority of Revelation to the light of nature must evidently appear. And that is, the nature and duration of the rewards which it promises.
The utmost that reafon can pretend to is, to prove that we shall furvive the grave; that we shall exist in another world; and that there the wicked fhall be punished according to their demerits, and the good rewarded with such a degree of happiness, as their virtues and their sufferings here feem in justice to require. This is all that is neceffary to vindicate the ways of God to mankind; and therefore beyond this, our own reafoning powers, and our natural expectations, cannot go. Indeed the very best and wisest of the Pagan philofophers did not go near so far as this. Some of them, although they believed the existence of the soul after death, yet denied that it M 4 would
would exift for ever *. Others admitted its eternity, but did not allow that it paffed into a state of rewards and punishments. They fuppofed it would be refolved into the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT from which it was originally detached. And even of those who acknowledged a future retribution, many asafferted that the punishments only were eternal, the rewards of a temporary nature †. And indeed it must be owned, that there are no principies of natural religion, which give us any ground to hope for a state of felicity hereafter, unmixed and perfect in its kind, beyond all conception great, and in duration endless. It is from Revelation only we learn that such fhall be the rewards" of the righ"teous; that God fhall wipe away all tears "from their eyes, and there fhall be no "more death, neither forrow, nor crying; "that he will give them glory, and honour, "and immortality; that they shall go away "into life eternal, and enter into the joy of "their Lord; that in his prefence there is
• Stoici-diy manfuros aiunt animos, femper negant. Tufc. Quæft. 1. i. c. 31.
+ Div. Leg. vol. ii. p. 199.
"fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore ; "that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nei"ther have entered into the heart of man, "the good things which God hath prepared "for them that love him *."
In thefe, and many other paffages of the fame nature, we are expressly afsured, that both our existence and our happiness hereafter shall be, in the stricteft fenfe of the word, everlafting. This, none but God himself could promise, or when promised, fulfil. It is more than the utmost fagacity of human reafon could discover, more than the utmost perfection of human virtue could claim. ETERNAL LIFE, therefore, is constantly and justly reprefented in Scripture as the GIFT, the FREE GIFT of God, through Jefus Chrift; and, were it on this account only, it might be truly faid, "that life and immortality were brought to light through the " Gospel ‡."
Mark then, I entreat you, in conclufion, mark the difference between the wisdom of
* Rev. vii. 27; Rom. ii, 7; Matth. xxv, 21, 36; Pfalm xvi. 11; 1 Cor. ii. 9.
+ Rom. v. 18; vi. 23.
‡ 2 Tim, i. 10,