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I suppose you do not expect I should gravely and seriously confute such vain Conceits as these, which few Men dare profess, and own, and defend, though they secretly flatter themselves with such Hopes, as is too visible in their lives; but since Men are apt to think such things as they dare not speak, it will be useful to suggest fome wiser Thoughts to them, which may prevent such Imaginations, and bring the greatest Men living under the Awe and Terror of the Future Judgment.
For what a vain Imagination is it, That God will have regard to Earthly Greatness in judg. ing the World! For what is this . World, and all the Greatness and Glory of it, to him who made it? Great and fmall are but comparative Terms, and nothing is great, when compared with that which is greater: Consider the Glory of our Judge, as I have already represented it to you, when he shall come attended with Myriads of Angels; and then think what little creeping Worms you are to him: We may observe in this world, that every Rank and Degree of Men appears considerable to those below them, but those above use them as Inferiours, and are not afraid to judge and correct them for their Faults; and is there not a much greater Distance between GOD and the greatest Emperor, than there is between the greatest Emperor and a petty Constable? Consider the Case of the Apostate Angels, of the Devil himself, who is the Prince of the Power of the Air, and was a very glorious Spirit; and if as great and glorious as he was, God flung him down from Heaven for Sin, and as powerful
as he now is, who is the God of this World, will judge and condemn him at the last Day; why should any Man think that his Power and Greatness, which be it what it will, can neither be compared to what the Devil was, nor to what he is, should excuse him from the Judgment of God?
And since you boast of your Power and Greatness, who made you fo? Who made you differ from the meanest Beggar? Who advances Princes to the Throne, and cloaths them with Glory and Majesty ? Is not all power of God ? Are they not his Ministers and Servants. And is any Minister too great to be corrected by hủs Prince, who made him so? Are not all Ministers accountable to their Lord? And the greater their Trust and Power is, have they not a greater Account to give? and is this a reason why they should give none? Why they should be exempted from Judgment, and from giving an Account?
But it is a wonderful thing to me, that any Man fhould glory in Power and Greatness, or think himself too big to be judged by God, or that God will have any regard to his Greatness in judging him; for did he but reflect upon his own state and condition in this World, it would convince him what a little inconsiderable Crea-. ture he is.
As great as any Man is, he is exposed to every Accident, to all Changes and Viciffitudes of Fortune : God can and very often does punish him in this World, and then there is no reason to expect that he will not judge him in the pext: Pain and Sickness stand in no awe of
his Greatness, and Death is no more afraid of him than of a Beggar: Those who are Gods on earth, must die like Men ; which is the Curse and Punishment of Sin; and this puts an end to all their Greatness; for after a little Funeral Pomp is over, and they are laid in their Graves with a little more Ceremony than Meaner Men, they are forsaken of all their Guards, and Retinue, and Dependants, and are left to be a Prey for Worms: And is this the Creature too great to Reverence and Worship God! and too big to be judged; whom Worms eat, and Beggars walk over his Grave!
This is the weak and frail state of the greateft Menon Earth: They go naked and unarmed into another World, stript of their Power and Fortunes, of Riches and Honours, which dazled the Eyes of Men here; and when they are gone, all Men speak their Minds freely of them, judge their Lives and Actions, arraign their Memories, and revenge their Injuries upon their Graves; and when they are become little enough to be judged by Men, surely they are not too big for God's Judgment; Then the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, as well as every bond-man, and every freem man shall bide themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and say to the rocks and mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that fitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come ; and who shall be able to stand? 16 Revel. 15, 16, 17,
Consider this ye Rich and Great Men, whoare so apt to forget God, and a Future Judgment : Riches profit not in the Day of Wrath, they cannot bribe God as they do Men, no Power can prevail against the Almighty; proud and swelling Titles are meer empty Bubbles, which burst and vanish into nothing in the next World : Men ye are, and ye shall die like Men, and shall be judged like
Men, and have much more reason to think of Judgment than other Men have, for ye have a greater Account to give, and are in more danger of giving a very bad Account if you do not frequently and seriously think of Judgment !
What a mighty Trust, and a mighty Temptation are Riches, and Honour, and Power! How much good, and how much hurt, may such Men do in the World! And what a formidable thing is it to give an account of all the Good that we might and ought to have done, and have not, and of all the Evil we have done by the abuse of those Blessings of Heaven, which we were entrusted with to do good. Honour and Power always carry
great Duties with them; they are not meerly intended to set some Men above others, to command the Cap and the Knee, and external Respects, but they are for the good Order and Government of the World, to suppress and punish Wickedness, and to protect and encourage Innocence and Verrue; such Men are like the great Lights of Heaven, to direct and cherish the World with their Light and Influence; their Examples are visible and confpicuous, and carry great Authority with them; and if theiş
Motions be irregular and exorbitant, it proves as fatal as for the Sun to forsake the Eclyptick, and wander into' unknown Regions of the Heaven, which would confound
Summer and Winter, Night and Day, and bring the utmost Disorder upon Humane Affairs: When Princes and Great Men, who should support Religion, and punish Wickedness, are the Patrons of Atheism, Profaneness, and Immorality, and give Countenance and Reputation to it by their Examples, what Multitudes of Converts do they make! How does it give the Reins to Mens ungoverned Lusts, when the Restraints of Fear and Shame are gone! How does it corrupt even vertuous and well-disposed minds, when it is a fashionable thing to be wicked, when it qualifies them for Preferments, and makes them fit for the best Company ; while Vertue and Modesty is the common Subject of Drollery and Ridicule: When those who should administer Justice to the World, opprefs the Poor and Fatherless, and accept the Persons of the Rich; when they pervert Judgment for a Re. ward, and enrich'themselves with Bribes : Such an Abuse of Power will have a very heavy Account : What a dreadful thing will it be, when you come to Judgment, to be pursued with the Cries of Widows and Orphans, of ruined Families, and which is more dreadful yet, with the Curses and Execrations of murdered Souls !
The like may be said of Riches, which is but a Stewardship, and we must give an account of it : And if instead of improving a plentiful Fortune to do Good to the World, we