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call thirty or forty Years paft, in which if they had improved their time well, they might have done great Service to God and to Religion, and great Good to Men; but those who are beginning their Lives, if they ftart right at first, and purfue an even and fteady Course of Piety and Vertue, if they keep the Future Judgment, and the next World always in their Eye, what Improvements will they make! what rich Treasures and glorious Rewards may they expect from that Righteous Judge, who will render to every man according to his Works!
The moft that a Penitent can expect after a long Life spent in Wickednefs and Folly, is to get to Heaven, and it is infinite Mercy in God to accept of fuch Penitents; but the bright and dazling Crowns are referved for thofe who have spent their Lives well, and glorified God. on Earth, and finished the Work he gave them to do: Such Men will triumph at the Conclufion of their Race and Warfare, as St. Paul did, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.
I know this will not affect thofe Men now who love their Sins, and defire to keep them as long as they can; they will be very well fatisfied if they can but get to Heaven at laft, how mean foever their Station be there ; for they are not fo defirous to go to Heaven, as to efcape Hell; and if they can but keep out of Hell, it is all they hope for: But Men muft have a greater Spirit, a more Divine and Generous Temper of Soul, before they can get to Heaven If ever they prove true Penitents,
the lofs of fo many opportunities of doing Good, and the lofs of any degrees of Glory they might have had, will both shame and afflict them. I am fure the greater Rewards we expect in the other World, the greater degrees of Glory and Happiness, the greater will our Joy and Tri-, umph be.
Are not Men in this World as fond of Happiness, as they are afraid of Mifery? Does not a great Mind defpife little things, and aim at what is great? And is there not as much reafon to aim at the higheft Happiness we are capable of in the next World, as well as in this?
This is the noble Prize I would propose to Young Men : You are now beginning your Race, your Day is but in its Dawn; if you rife with the Sun, and work hard all day, and spend your whole Lives in God's Service, what . a great deal of work will you do, and what a proportionably great Reward will you have? This you will do, if you make the Thoughts of Judgment familiar to you; this will keep a conftant Guard upon your Actions, this will excite and quicken your Induftry, this will make you ftedfaft, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of our Lord, as knowing, that your labour fhall not be in vain in the Lord.
·For what we shall be judged.
ET us now enquire, What we are to to be judged for: And the general Anfwer to this is very plain, That we must all stand before the Judgment-feat of Chrift, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what be bath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. 5. 10. That is, we fhall be judged for all the Good and Evil we have done.
This is obvious to all Men, and acknowledged by all, who believe a Judgment; and it may be thought impertinent to prove, that we shall be judged for fuch or fuch particular Crimes, when it is univerfally confeffed, that we shall be judg
ed for all.
But as I obferved under the former Head, though all Men who believe a Future Judg ment, profefs alfo to believe that all Men fhall be judged; yet fome Men are very apt to forget it, and to flatter themselves, that they fhall efcape better than others; fo it is here: Though Men will in general acknowledge, that we muft give an account of whatever we have done in the Body, yet there are a great many things, which in themfelves are very great Crimes, and yet many Men think there is no account to be given of them. I fhall not instance in particular Sins, though a great many fuch there are, which few Men take any great notice of, but fhall confine my self to what is of
of a more general Nature, for Particulars would be endless:
I. First then we must remember,that we shall be judged for our Ignorance: which some Men are fo far from fufpecting, that they take Sanctuary in their Ignorance to skreen them from the Judgment of GOD. If they can but keep out the Light, they think they are fafe; to ftumble and fall in the Dark is a Misfortune, not a Fault, and will rather move Pity and Compaffion, than provoke Revenge: This makes fome Men fo regardless of Knowledge; they think God will judge them for no more than they know; and all the good they are like to get by Knowledge, is to encrease and aggravate their Account.
I fhall not enter into that Dispute now, (which is nothing to our prefent Purpose) How far, and in what Cafes Ignorance will excufe; though I think it is very plain in general, that as far as Ignorance it felf is excufable, fo far Ignorance will excufe: But my business at prefent is to fhew, That commonly Ignorance it felf is a great Crime, and when it is fo, if Men fhall not be judged for the Sins which they ignorantly commit, yet they shall be judged and condemned for their Ignorance, as well as for their Sins againft Knowledge.
For is not Man a reasonable Creature? And is not a reasonable Creature as much bound to know his Duty, as he is to practife it? Has God given us Reafon to be the Guide and Director of our Lives, and is it not a great Crime not to attend to it, not to improve and cultivate it? Have we Eyes in our Heads, and is it X 2 any
any Excuse to us, that we fhut them, and lofe our way? Is it any Excufe to us not to know God, and our Duty to him, when God has made us reasonable Creatures, who may know their Maker if they pleafe, and understand the difference between Good and Evil? I am fure St. Paul by this Argument proves, that the Heathens were inexcufable, because God had implanted fuch Natural Notions of himself on their Minds, and had given them fo many external and visible Demonftrations of his Power and Providence in Making and Governing the World, Rom. 19, 20. Because that which may be known of God, is manifest in them; for God hath fhewed it unto them. For the invifible things of God from the Creation of the world are daily feen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead; fo that they are without excufe. The Heathens did greatly err both in the Knowledge and Worship of God; they were convinced by the Natural Senfe of their Minds, and by the Works of Creation, that there is a God; and therefore they are faid to know God, 21 ver. And by the fame way they might have known that God who made the World, is not like to Gold and Silver, or the Works of mens hands, to Images made like to corruptible Man, or to Birds and fourfooted Beafts, and creeping things; and therefore though they were really ignorant of the Nature of God, and had entertained very grofs Imaginations of the Deity, yet they were without Excufe, because God is to be known by Reafon and Nature, and therefore a reasonable Creature, who lives in a World which has