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fatisfy us, as it did the Heathens, that God will reward good men, and punish the wicked, in the next world; but it could not tell us, that God had appointed a general Day of Judgment, wherein all the dead fhall rife again out of their Graves, and re-affume their Bodies, and be fummoned to Judgment; it could not tell us who fhall be our Judge, with what Glory and Majefty he fhall appear, and with what Pomp, and awful and terrible Solemnities he fhall judge us. The world knew nothing of this, before the Gospel was preached; for it depends wholly upon the wil and pleasure of God, and therefore can be known only by Revelation.
I fhall begin with the Proofs from Reason,and fhew you what moral Evidence and Affurance we have, that God will judge the world, as that fignifies, that he will reward good men, and punifh the wicked in the next world; and this Proof confifts of feveral Branches; and though each particular confidered apart by it felf, may not be thought fufficient; yet if we unite them into one, and take them in their natural order, they add fuch light and ftrength to each other, that I perfuade my felf they will convince any man of a Future Judgment, who is not obftinately refolved against this belief.
That Man is by Nature an Accountable Creature.
Irft then, I observe, That the very make and frame, and condition of Human Nature, proves that man is an accountable Creature, who
can give an account of his Actions, and therefore may be called to an account for them; and that is a strong prefumption that he will be called to an account, that is, that he will be judged. There are four things neceffary to make any Being accountable: 1. That he have a Principle of Reason to know what he does, and to judge for himself. 2. That he have a Rule to live by, to direct him what to do, and what to avoid. 3. That he have liberty of Choice, and the free government of his own Actions. 4. That he be an inferior and fubordinate Creature, who has fome above him to call him to an account.
I. As for the first, we know a Beast, which is governed by Inftinct, not by Reason, can't be judged, because fuch brute Creatures know not what they do, and therefore can give no account what they do; which is the Cafe alfo of Infants, of Fools and Mad-men, who must be governed, that they may do no hurt, but can't be judged: but a reasonable Creature, as Man is, who knows what he does, and can judge of his own Actions, may be judged for them too.
II. Where there is no Rule to live by, there is nothing to be judged for; when nothing is commanded, and nothing forbid, all Actions are alike indifferent; and in this cafe there is no other Rule but for every man to please himself, and to do what he likes beft; and he who does fo, gives a good account of himself, and cannot be blamed for it: If there were no Rule of Good and Evil, there could be no place for Rewards and Punishments, and confequently no place for Judgment: But when we have a Rule to live by, as all ManB 3
kind have, either the Laws of Nature, or the revealed Will of God, we may do either good or evil, and may deferve either Rewards or Punishments, and then we may be judged too.
III. Whatever Being acts by Neceffity or Fate, not by Choice, is no more capable of being judged than the Winds and Seas are, or any other natural and neceffary Caufes; for where there is no choice, there is neither moral good nor evil: But Man is a free Agent, who not only knows the difference between good and evil, but can chufe the good, and refufe the evil, and therefore he is capable of praise or blame, of rewards or punishments, for the good or evil which he does; that is, he may be called to an account, and be judged for what he does.
Efpecially, IV. If he be an Inferior,and fubordinate Creature, who has a Superior to judge him: To judge indeed is an act of Superior Authority and Power, and therefore those who have none above them, cannot be judged; but an Inferior is by the condition of his nature, or circumftances of life, obnoxious to the Judgment of his Superiors; for the very notion of a Superior and Inferior fignifies to govern, and to be governed; to judge, and to be judged. An Inferior is obnoxious to the Judgment of his Superior, who may judge him if he pleases; and this is the condition of all Mankind, if we believe that there is a God above us, who is our Natural Lord.
So that Man by his very nature and condition was made to be judged; which is a very good argument that he shall be judged, if we will but allow, that God will govern all Creatures according to their natures; which is effential to the Wif
dom and Juftice of his Government: As to take a particular review of this matter.
1. If it be naturally decent and fitting, that a reafonable Creature fhould give a reafon of his Actions, why should we doubt, whether the wife Governor of the World will require a reafon of him, and call him to an account? Reafon makes us capable of giving an account of our Actions, and which is more than that, it makes us fenfible, that we ought to give an account; our own minds exact an account of us, and when we cannot give a good account to our felves, we blush alone, when no body fees us; nay, Reafon makes us fo liable to give an account, that it requires no Authority to ask it, it is what we owe to all Mankind, and the meaneft man may expect it from us, as well as our Judge; and when we cannot give a reafonable account of our Actions, a Child or Beggar fhall fhame and confound us, whatever our Quality or Character be. And it would feem ftrange, if Reason fhould make us accountable to all the World but only to God, who is the Sovereign Lord of all; that God fhould make us accountable to our felves, and to all other reafonable Beings, but not to himself.
2. If GOD have given man a Rule of Life, and a natural Measure of Good and Evil, can it be thought that he will require no account of him, whether he keeps or breaks thefe Laws? For to what purpofe then did he give 'em? How contemptible are Laws without a Sanction, or a Sanction without a Judge to difpence Rewards and Punishments? To give Laws without taking notice how they are obferved, or pumihing the breach B + of
of them, is so very abfurd, that no Human Government was ever wholly guilty of fuch Folly; and why fhould we charge God with fuch Abfurdities in Government, as would be ridiculous in Men? If we will but allow God as much Wisdom and Difcretion as an Earthly Prince, we may certainly conclude, That if he have given Laws to men, he will judge them by thofe Laws.
3. There is no way of governing a free Agent as man is, but by Hopes and Fears, by Rewards and Punishments; For Force and Violence is not the Government of a free Agent, because it deftroys its liberty; fo that if God govern Mankind at all, he muft judge them: that is, he muft Reward or Punish them according to the Good or Evil they do; and though this does not directly and immediately prove a Future Judgment, yet it is a fair ftep towards it, as will appear more hereafter: All that I defire to conclude from hence at prefent is only this, That if God govern Men like reasonable Creatures, he muft judge them; and if we have as great affurance that God will judge the world, as we have that he governs it, there is an end of this Difpute, to men who believe a God and a Providence.
Nay, indeed we need only fuppofe that man was made by a wife Being, to prove that he shall be judged ; i. e. that he shall be rewarded or pu nifhed for all the Good or Evil that he does in the world; for a Wife Being will take care to govern the Creatures which he makes, and to govern them in fuch a way as is agreeable to the Nature he has given them and fince Man, who is a free Agent, can be governed only by Hopes and