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fair for their going directly to Heaven, where Christ is; but the Primitive Christians understood them otherwise : That Paradise, and Abraham's Eofom was a place of Ease and Happiness, but not Heaven; that no man ascends into Heaven till after the Resurrection ; which Irenæus and Tertullian prove from the Example of Christ, to which we must be conformed; for Christ himself did not ascend into Heaven till after the Refurre&tion ; but as his Body rested in the Grave, so his Soul went into the State of Souls departed; and when he arose again, then he ascended into Heaven ; and thus they say we must do also. When we die, our Souls shall live in those Places which God has prepared for separate Souls; and when we have reassumed our Bodies, we shall be admitted into the highest Heavens ; whither: Christ is ascended: And this feems very reasonable, that we should not afcend into Heaven, into the immediate Presence of God, which signifies our perfect Reconciliation to him, without our Bodies; the want of which is an Argument of our Apoftacy, and bis Displeasure ; and all the Marks of his Displeasure ought to be removed, before we appear in his immediate Prefence. But is not Christ in Heaven ? and how then can good Men be present with the Lord after Death, if they do not immediately ascend into Heaven? Now as for this they tell us, That the Souls of Just Men in Paradise have the Sight and Conversation of Angels and Archangels, and the Vision, or older, of our Saviour, which, they think, is what is meant by be
ing present with the Lord; though they did not affirm that no Good Men did immediately as. cend into Heaven when they died; but exprefly taught that all Martyrs did, who died for the Name and Religion of Christ : And this wası the thing which made them in that Agefo fond of Martyrdom, that they thought all Martyrs afcended dire&ly into Heaven: And if they could have proved this, as it is plain they believed it, that Martyrs did immediately ascend into Heaven, and that other Christians did not, who would not have coveted to dye a Martyr?
Thus I have very fairly and truly represented this matter : And that no man who lias not so carefully considered this, may take offence át it, I shall 1. fhew you how useful this Doctrine is at this time. And 2. That it gives no Discouragement to Virtue, nor any Encouragement to Vice.
ift. As for the first
, we may consider in the first place, That in such an Age as this, wherein we have to deal with so many Atheists and Infidels, we ought to take care to make Religion reasonable and intelligible ; for if we do not, they expose it to Scorn and Ridicule, and both harden themselves in their own Infidelity, and corrupt others; and therefore we must take care not to represent any thing absurdly and inconsiItently: Now to say that men who are already judged, and either condemned or absolved, and actually sent to Hell or to Heaven, should be folemnly judged over again, and condemned 2
gain to Hell, or advance to Heaven, sounds odly to such' men; but if the Scripture does not expresly teach such a Do&rine, we are at liberty not to teach it, especially if we can give another account of it, which seems as agreeable to Scripture, and more agrecable to the Reason and Understanding of Mankind:
3. 'Some there are, who observing that Mankind shall not be judged till the Day of Judgment, conclude that there is no intermediate State, but that the Soul sleeps with the Body till the Day of Judgment. A very Foolish and Unphilosophical Opinion; for we may as reasonably think that the Soul dies, as that it sleeps in a State of Separation : If the Soul be a Spiritual Şubftanice, distinêt from the Body, it may liye and act without it; and it is as easy and reasonable to defend the Mortality of the Soul, as its Heeping; for if the Soul muft sleep when it's separated from the Body, it must sleep for ever, if it never be reunited to the Body again; that is, it must live and die with the Body ; for such a fleep as this is not merely an Image of Death, but Death it felf. But from what I have now difcoursed, it appears, That though there be a great Histance between Death and Judgment, yet the Soul does live and ac, is happy or miserable in the mean time.
3. This Notion does very great fervice also against Popery: For i: It gives an account of a Middle State, without Purgatory. This has greatly imposed upon Unlearned Men, that thự Ádyocates of Popery have proved
from the Ancient Fathers, that they owned a Middle State, which was neither Heaven nor Hell
i and then presently conclude, That this must be Purgatory. Now it is very true, the Ancient Chriftians did own a Middle State between Death and Judgment, which was neither Heaven nor Hell, but yet never dreamt of a Popish Purgatory: They believed bad
men were in a State of Punishment as soon as they left these Bodies, but not in Hell i and that good men were in a state of Reft and Happiness, but not in Heaven; but they never thought of a Place of Torment to expiate the Temporal punishment due to Sin,when the Eternal Punishment is remitted, which is the Popish Purgatory, and the moft Barbarous Representation of the Christian Religion, though the most Profitable too, to the Church of Rome, that ever was invented.
2. This utterly overthrows the Worship of Saints in the Church of Rome ; at least, of all Şaints who were not Martyrs; for Saint-Worship is founded on this Belief, That these Saints when they dye are received into Heaven, into the immediate Presence of God, and therefore can there powerfully interceed for us; but if these Saints are not yet received into Heaven, nor shall be till the Resurrection, which was the Faith of the Primitive Christians, and seems very agreeable to the Doctrine of the Gofpel, as I have now shewn you ; then there is an end of the Worship and Interceffion of Saints.
tue, nor encourages Vice: I cannot indeed say,
2dly. This Do&rine neither difcourages Vir
but that Heaven is a much happier Place than Paradise, and therefore it is more desirable for Good Men when they die, to go dire&ly to Heaven than to Paradise; But yet it is a sufficient Encouragement to the exercise of the most perfect Virtues, that as soon aswe die, we shall be carry'd by Angels into Abraham's Bofom, or into Paradise ; a Place of perfe& Ease and Reft, and as perfe& Happiness as can be enjoy'd out of Heaven. Such a Paradise where Holy Souls dwell, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apoftles, Martyrs, and Confeffors, with Heaven at the end of it, is a sufficient, an abundant Reward for all the most difficult and laborious Services of this Life : That Heaven is not yet, is no greater Discoungment, than that we shall not rise from the Dead till the Day of Judgment, that we shall not have our Bodies again till they are awakened by the Last Trumpet'; Bodies which will be bright and glorious as the Sun, which will rise with Eternal Youth, and Strength, and Beauty: This is a much greater Happiness, than to live either in Paradife or in Heaven without our Bodies : But this we must stay for, and so we may for Heaven ; and we may be very well contented to wait for Heaven, and for the Resurrection of our Bodies in Paradife: When we are as happy as Paradise can make us, we may very patiently expect the full Completion of our Happiness in the Resurrection of our Bodies, and our Admission into