« PreviousContinue »
the Judgments of God have brought upon the most flourishing Countries for the Sins of the Inhabitants; Famine, and Pestilence, and Sword: The Sword, which carries all other Judgments along with it; but God knows, we live in an Age wherein there is no need of haranguing about it, this is seen, and felt, and heard every day; such Miseries as are beyond the Descrip tion of the most Eloquent Tongue or Pen: God grant we may only hear of them, that we may take warning bý what others suffer, and appeale the Wrath of God by a timely Repentance.
Now for the same Reason, when God judges all Mankind, he will put an end to this present State of Things: When Man, for whomi this Earth was framed, shall dwell no longer on it, but all good Men shall be received into Heaven, and all bail Men.condemned to Hell; this World has lastedi as long as it was made for, and must now be icast into a new Mould and Frame.
For so indeed the Scripture repreferits it, not that this world shall be destroyed, but that it shall be nevy made; that as the whole Creation is made subject to Vanitý bý Adam's Curse, so it shall be redeemed from Vanity and Corruption too, when Man is. It shalt be purged by Fire, and a new Incorruptible World Thall spritig out of its Alhes, 8. Roni. 19, 20, 21, 22. For the earnest expectation of the Creature ( which must fignify this visible Creation) waited b for the Manifestation of the Sons of God. For the Creature was made sub-; ject to Vanity, diot willingly, but by reason of
him who bath subjected the same in Hope: Because the Creature it self also shall be delivered from the Bondage of Corruption, into the Glorious Liberty of the Children of God: (Or when the Sons and Children of God shall be delivered from Corruption.) For we know the whole Creation groaneth, and travelleth in Pain until now. And thus St. Peter tells us, That at the Last Judgment this World shall be destroyed with Fire; Neverthe less we, according to his Promise, look for new Heavens, and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth Righteousness, 2 Pet. 13. 3. Where St. Peter refers to the Prophecy of Isaiah 65. 17. For bebold, I crés ate new Heavens, and a new Earth ; and the fora mer shall not be remembred, nor come into Mind. Which St. Peter understands in a literal Sense, not merely of a more prosperous State of Things in this world.
And thus St. John, at the Conclusion of his Revelations, immediately after his Account of the Last Judgment, gives us a Description of this new Heaven and new Earth, 21. Rev. I, dc. And I saw a new Heaven, and a new Earth: for the first Heaven and the first Earth were passed away, and there was no more Sea. And I'Fobn saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a Bride adorned for her Husband. And I heard a great Voice out of Heaven, Saying, The Tabernacle of "God is with Men, and they shall be bis People, and God himself fall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all Tears from their Eyes ; and there shall be no more Death, neither Sorrow, nor Crying ; neither shall there
be any more Pain; for the former things are passed away. And the rest of that Book is spent in describing the Glory of the Great City, the Holy Jerusalem, the River of the Water of Life, proceeding from the Throne of God, and of the Lamb, and the Tree of Life which bore Twelve manner of Fruits.
These are great Mysteries, which we cannot perfectly understand yet, especially what St. John says about the new Jerusalem's coming down from Heaven, to take up its Seat and Habitation on this new Earth; that there is the Throne of God, and of the Lamb, where God dwells, and which he enlightens with his Presence, and from whence he drives away Death, and Sorrow, and Pain; which seems to signify, that as the old Heavens and old Earth are destroyed by Fire, in Vengeance on its wicked Inhabitants; so this new Heaven and new Earth, which God makes after the Destruction of the old, is the seat of the Blessed after their Resurrection from the Dead; which I confess I know not how to understand.
But this gives a plain account why the Final Judgment, when good Men shall receive their Final Reward, shall not be till the end of the World, because this old World must be destroyed before GOD makes those new Heavens and new Earth: The Final Destruction of bad Men will begin with the Destruction of this old World; and the Rewards and Happiness of good Men shall be consummated in the new World, whatever that be, where they fall dwell
for ever in the immediate Presence of God, and of the Lamb.
Now that God defers the Day of Judgment to the end of the World, may, 1. Conyince us of God's great Patience and Longsuffering towards Sinners; for be forbears their Execution as long as he can forbear destroying the World; and that we may be sure is as long as Wisdom and Justice will per mit: To destroy a World is a work of as great Wisdom and Counsel, as to make one; nay, the Divine Goodness will easily justify the making of a World at any time; for no time is unfit to exercise fuch Aas of Goodness as will justify themselves; but for God to destroy the World which he has made, without great necessity for it, refle&s upon his Wisdom and Goodness in making it: The wife Maker of the World can have no Inclination to destroy it; and though the Justice of Providence may require some more hafty Executions to maintain good Order and Government, and to give check to Vice, yet the Final Destruction of the World requires all wise Delays; and Sinners can expect no more of God, than to defer their Final Sentence as long as he can defer the end of the World. It is great pity that such Goodness and Patience should be so monstrously abused; that Men should harden themselves in Sin, and conclude that God will not judge the World, because he is so unwilling to destroy it; but this will justify the Severity of the Last Judgment, that it is not the effea of a hafty and sudden Fury, but of mature Çcunfel;
that God did not want Goodness to spare Sinners, as long as Wisdom and Justice could spare them. To be slow to execute Judgment, isasersential to Goodness, as it is to Justice at last to punish : And to conclude that God will not punish at all, because he is patient, and delays to punish, is to prove that God cannot be Juft, because he is Good.
2. That God destroys the world when he judges it, is an undeniable Proof of the Severity of the Last Judgment ; for what a terrible Vengeance is that which fires the world, and diffolves this present Frame of Nature ? This is a fiery indignation indeed to devour the Adversary, 10. Heb. 27. when bad Men and wicked Spirits shall be encompassed with Flames and Smoke, without any possibility to escape ; for whither can they fly out of a fired world ? when the Heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements fhall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and all that is therein shall be burnt up.
There are a great many brave Sinners, who mock at Fear, and harden themselves against Hell it self; but if they can be serious but for some few Minutes, let them imagine all the world on fire about them; the Heavens covered with thick Darkness, and the whole Earth but one Vulcano, one Atna, or Vesuvius, vomiting up Rivers of Burning Sulphur,and themselves plunged in the midst of it ; let them try how they can bear this Thought, before they laugh at Hell: for this will certainly be the state of Sinners at the day of Judgment : And should not this make us fear and