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I. In the FIRST Place I observe it would SERM,
IX. be an Injury to the Wicked : Because such a Removal of them, would be to deprive them of that Time which God allows them to grow better. For in this Respect the Case of naughty Men, is happily different from that of bad Seed. Tares will always be Tares; The Quality of them is by no Means alterable: Whereas bad Men may at length, by the Grace of God, change their Nature, and at last become good and profitable. It is the Misfortune of fallen Angels only not to be able to repent : Men, so long as they continue so, are still capable of Amendment. The Examples of others, the Starts of their own Confciences, a Fit of Sickness, and every Judgment that stops short of their utter Ruin, is an awakening Call and a fresh Motive to Repentance. And we sometimes see the most profligate Sinners reclaimed by some or other of these Methods. Nor are they, any less than the best of Men, entituled to the Means of Grace and Salvation: Those only excepted who refuse all Offers and Calls, and so through their own Obstinacy become finally rejected. But otherwise, as bad Men as well as good are the Sons of Adam ; so have they the fame
SERM. Right to the Benefits obtained by Christ. The
Sacrifice he offered was an Atonement for all
Some People perhaps may here object that God undoubtedly foresees that a great Part of the wicked, notwithstanding all the Offers of Grace he makes to them, will still persist in their Impiety and Sin, and that therefore his Continuance of them tends only to the Difquiet and Oppreffion of the Righteous, with out any Prospect that the wicked will be amended : And that consequently God's Removal of them would be a Means to redress the Injuries of the Good, and prevent the Bad from enhancing their Guilt. In answer to
this, it would be sufficient to observe that S E R M.
this ; another Reason may be given for God's sparing the wicked even for their own sakes, though he foresees and foreknows that they will never amend. For though the longer they live, they become the more removed from Heaven, they may notwithstanding have some fpecious Pretence to the Enjoyment of this Life. For there is scarce any Man so desperately abandoned to Wickedness, as not to have some commendable Quality, fome Acts of a better Kind to temper and allay the Venom of his
And if fo; both Reason and Religion will instruct us, that it becomes a holy and just Judge to award a Recompence in Proportion to each Man's Desert : But a few moral Virtues, where the momentous Duties of Religion are despised, can never merit the Reward of Heaven : Nor do such Men either relish or desire the Joys and Happinefs of a spiritual State : But provided they can conpass the Satisfactions of this World, neglect
SER M. and despise all future Advantages. And for
this Reason does God proceed with such People, not only in the Method of Justice strictly considered ; but also by complying with their own Wishes and Inclinations. If at the summoning up of the Account, this be found not to answer Expectation ; they have none but their own Folly to thank for it; they have the Reward which they proposed to themselves, and therefore they can by no Means accuse the Justice of God.
But the Method and Heads I have proposed for my Discourse call on me to shew that the Continuance of bad Men is not only an Act of Justice to themselves, but that it is also many Ways beneficial to the Good. I shall therefore proceed to observe in the
II. Second Place, that a hasty Removal of the Wicked from the World, would, as the State of the World now stands, be disadvantageous to the Righteous themselves. For in the present Condition of human Affairs, it is impossible even for GOD to take an immediate Vengeance upon the Wicked, without sensibly afflicting the Good and Righteous, For as the Roots of the Tares are so entangled with those of the good Seed, that the one
cannot be disengaged without plucking up SERM.
Inconveniencies should happen to the