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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

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IX.

SERM. Right to the Benefits obtained by Christ. The

Sacrifice he offered was an Atonement for all
Mankind : Nor are any Sins so great,

but that
still his Blood is sufficient to expiate them.
The oldest Sinner, and the hardiest too, if
he embrace the Terms of the Covenant at
last, has a Claim to the Reward proposed in
it. And therefore as plucking up by the
Roots, and casting into the Fire cannot be-
come a Master of a Vineyard, till all other
Experiments have been made Use of to no
Purpose ; so it would ill agree with the At-
tributes of God, who is wise and good, as
well as holy and just, to give his Creatures
over to Destruction, before they have proved
themselves absolutely incurable.

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

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IX.

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this, it would be sufficient to observe that S E R M.
God generally governs the World so, that
Men may be able to justify his Goodness: He
would have all to see and observe that he de-
lighteth not in the Death of a Sinner, but had
rather that he would turn from his Sin and
be saved. But not to insist

upon

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

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and

IX.

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

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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

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IX.

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cannot be disengaged without plucking up SERM.
the other ; fo are the Interests and Relations
of good and bad Men so mutually mixed and
interwoven, that it is absolutely impossible
that
any

Inconveniencies should happen to the
one, which shall not very nearly affect the
other also. As Things are now, the Guilty
cannot suffer in themselves alone, but the
Circumstances of the Innocent will through
their means be brought at least into Confu-
fion and Disorder. A debauched Husband
or unfaithful Wife, an unnatural Parent or
undutiful Child, cannot now be overtaken by
an immediate Vengeance without mutually in-
volving one another in Trouble and Grief.
The Thoughts of losing to Eternity a near
Relation, whom the Ties of Blood or Affini-
ty have made dear, cannot sure but be a
great Affliction to those he leaves behind, not-
withstanding they may be freed from the
greatest Difficulties and Oppressions by his
Death. For by how much the better Chri-
stians they are who survive ; by so much the
greater will be their Grief: It being the Na-
ture of Religion to soften our Hearts, and
to fill them with Tenderness and Compas-
fion. So that even this Consideration alone
would be sufficient to shew, how great a
VOL. I.

X

Mercy

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