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so indeed it might have proved, if not to them, yet to those who follow; who observing their Mistake about the Day of Judgment confuted, as all such Mistakes are, by the Event, might have concluded, that the whole was a Mistake, and that there should be no Day of Judgment, because it did not come when it was expected; and therefore the Apostle thought fit to warn them against it : Now we beseech you, Brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon Shaken in Mind, or be troubled, neither by Spirit, nor by Word, nor by Letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand, 2 Theff. 2. 1, 2.
And to satisfy them in this, he does not undertake to tell them when the Day of Judgment shall be, for that he did not know; but only tells them, That there must come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition, who opposeth and exalteth bimself above all that is called God. And this Man of Sin not being then revealed, it was plain, that the Day of Judgment could not so suddenly come as they expected: And now we find by Story, that it was some Ages after this, before the Man of Sin was revealed.
After this, St. John wrote his Book of the Revelations; and did we thoroughly'understand that, though we should not certainly know the precise time of Judgment, yet we should know how many things are still to be done before the Day of Judgment; for that con
tains an entire Prophecy of the Christian Church, from the beginning of it to the end of the World. And though I will not pretend to understand those Mysteries, especially what is there called the Thousand Years Reign of Christ upon the Earth, which, whatever it signifies, feems to be before the end of the World, and the final Judgment; yet we certainly learn from thence, that the Man of Sin must be destroyed before the laft Judgment; and if this be the Popish Hierarchy, as I doubt not but it is, it is plain this is not done yet; and I wish his final Overthrow be so near as some Learned Men think it is.
But I think there is another Prophecy of St. Paul himself, which has not been accomplished yet, which must receive its Accomplishment before the Day of Judgment; and we see no prospect of its present Accomplishment, I mean the Conversion of the Jews, and the Re-union of them to the Christian Church.
This we have an account of in II. Rom. which, whatever some learned Men imagine, I can by no means think has received its just Accomplishment by those few Jews which were converted by the Preaching of the Apostles, and the Destruction of Jerusalem; for Verse 15. he tells us, if the casting away of the Jews is the reconciling of the World, (thac is, if the Gospel was Preached to the Gentiles upon the obstinate Infidelity of the Fews) What shall the reconciling of them be, but Life front the Dead'? That is, the Conversion of the Jews fhall be a new Life to the Gentile World, a new Refurrection of Christianity
among us. But was ever any such thing done yet? In Ver. 25, 26. he tells them, For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, (lest ye should be wise, in your own conceits) that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
And so all Israel shall be saved : As it is written, There shall come out of Sion the deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. Now has any such thing yet been done? has all Israel, or the generality of the Fews been converted to Christianity ? and yet the Apostle assures us, this must be done by virtue of God's Covenant with Abraham. As concerning the Gospel, they are enemies for your Sake ; ( God so ordered it, that by their Infidelity the Gospel should be preached to the Gentile World ) yet as touching the election, they are beim loved for the father's sake : As the Pofterity of Abrabam, Isaac, and Jacob, whom God chose as his peculiar People. For the gifts and calling of
without repentance. God will never wholly reject the Posterity of Abraham, whom he hath chose for his People, but will still eftablish his Covenant with themAnd that God has now rejected them for their Infidelity, is no argument that he will never own them again ; for so he had rejected the Gentiles for their Unbelief, but now he has received them into his Church, upon their Faith in Chrift; and thus he will again graft the Jews into his Church, if they abide not still in their unbelief, ver. 30, 31. which the Apostle prophesies they Thall not, For' as ye in times pasi bave
not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy tbro their unbelief: even so have these also now not believ'd, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy: Now such a Conversion as this of the Jews, I think, has not been yet, and therefore must be expected before the Day of Judgment, and the end of the world, which shews that the end of the world will not be yet; and how long it may be deferred, we cannot tell.
II. How long foever the end of the world, and the Day of Judgment be delayed, yet we have great reason immediately to prepare for it; for indeed this Life is the only time we have to prepare for it, Death puts an end to our Account for Eternity ; for we shall be judged according to what we have done in the Body, whether it be good or bad; and the Final Sentence shall pass on us according to that state which Death finds us
which seems to be the reason why our Saviour warns us always to be upon our watch, as not knowing at what hour our Lord will come; for whatever the intermediate State be, how long soever it be between Death and Judgment, yet our Account is the same, and to be furprized by Death before we are provided for it, is the same thing as to be surprized by Judgment: 24. Matth. 42, 43, 44. Watch therefore, for je know not at what hour your Lord doth comie. But know this, that if the good man of the house bad known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as you
think not, the Son of man cometh. Which if it concern all Christians, must relate to the hour of Death, as well as to the day of Judgment.
And therefore flatter not your selves, that Judgment is a great way off, when you know not how near Death is, which will finish your Account. The State of bad Men is very miserable, as you have already heard, as soon as they go out of these Bodies, and they are reserved for the terrible Judgment of the great Day; and though the Day of Judgment is not yet, is it not a terrible thing to be certainly reserved for it? Which how long foever it be delayed, has an Eternity to follow.
III. But if the near approach of the end of the World, and the Day of judgment be considerable, it is certain that is not far off neither; the World has continued now some thousand Years, and if the time of Christ and his Apostles were the last Days, after Sixteen hundred Years we must be pretty near the end of the last Days : We have a nearer prospect of Eternity, than those had who lived some thousand Years ago, at least if they had known how long this world would have continued; but tho' they might not think it would have continued so long, we know now, that it cannot continue so much longer : there are some Prophesies to be accomplished still, but how foon they may be accomplished, we know not , no Man questions but that the World now grows to an end, and therefore it is time for every Man to think of Eternity.