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but whatever expectations we have of the unknown happiness of the other world, the enjoyment of it will as much exceed, our highest expectations, as other things usually fall below them ; that we shall be forced to confess, with the queen of Sheba, when she saw Solomon's glory, that not the half of it was told her : It is some encouragement to us, that the happiness of heaven is too great to be known in this world ; for did we perfectly know it now, it could not be very great ; and therefore we should entertain ourselves with the hope of this unknown happiness, of those joys, which now we have such imperfect conceptions of. 2. Nor is it on the other hand any encouragement to bad men, that the miseries of the other world are unknown ; for it is known, that God has threatened very terrible punishments against bad men ; and that what these punishments are, is unknown, makes them a great deal more formidable ; for who knows the power of God's wrath? who knows how miserable God can make bad men ? This makes it a senseless thing for men to harden themselves against the fears of the other world, because they know not what it is; and how then can they tell, though they could bear up under all known miseries, but that there may be such punishments as they cannot bear ? That they are unknown, argues, that they are something more terrible than they are acquainted with in this world ; they are represented indeed by the most dreadful and terrible
things, by lakes of fire and brimstone, blackness of darkness, and the worm that never dieth, and the fire that never goeth out : but bad men think this cannot be true in a literal sense, that there can be no fire to burn souls, and torment them eternally. Now suppose it were so, yet if they believe these threatenings, they must believe that some terrible thing is signified by everlasting burnings; and if fire an brimstone serve only for metaphors to describe these torments by, what will the real sufferings of the damned be! for the spirit of God does not use to describe things by such metaphors as are greater than the things then selves. And therefore let no bad man encourage himself in sin, because he does not know what the punishments of the other world, are. This shuuld possess us with the greater awe and dread of them, since every thing in the other world, not only the happiness, but the miseries of it, will prove greater, not less than we expect.
Concerning the certainty of our death.
HAVING thus shewed you under what notions we are to consider death, and what wisdom we should learn from them, I proceed to the second thing, the certainty of death : It is appointed to man once to die. våróx17an, it remains, it is reserved, and, as it were, laid up
I believe no man will desire a proof of this, which he sees with his eyes ; one generation succeeds another, and those who live longest, at last yield to the fatal stroke. There were two men indeed, Enoch and Elias, who did not die, as death signifies the separation of soul and body, but were translated to heaven without dying; but this is the general law for mankind, from which none are excepted, but those whom God by his sovereign authority, and for wise reasons thinks fit to except ; which have been but two since the creation, and will be no more till Christ comes to judge the worla : for then St. Paul tells us, those who are alive at Christ's second coining shall not die, but shall be changed, 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52. Behold I shew you a mistery, we shall not at all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump ; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. This is such a change as is equivalent to death, it puts us in the same state with those who are dead, and at the last judgment shall rise again.
SECT. I. A vindication of the justice and and good.
ness of God, in appointing death for all men.
But before I shew you what use to make of this consideration, that we must all certainly die, let us examine, how mankind comes to be mortal : this was no dispute among the heathens, for it was no
great wonder that an earthly body should die, and dissolve again into dust : it would be a much greater wonder to see a body of flesh and blood preserved in perpetual youth and vigor, without any decays of nature, without being sick or growing old. But this is a question among us ; or if it may not be called a question, yet it is what deserves our consideration, since we learn from the history of Moses, that as frail and brittle as these earthly tabernacles are, yet if man had not sinned, he had not died.
When God created man, and placed him in paradise, he forbade him to cat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil : Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, Gen. ii. 16, 17. And when, notwithstanding this threatening, our first parents had eat of it, God confirms and ratifies the sentence, dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return, Gen. iii. 19.
What this tree of knowledge of good and evil was, is as great a mistery to us, as what the tree of life was, for we understand neither of them ; which makes some men, who would not be thought to be ignorant of any thing, to fly to allegorical senses : but though I would be glad to know this, if I could, yet I must be contented toleave it a mistery, as I find it. That which we areconcerned in, is, that this sentence of death and mortality, whicia was pronounced on Adam, fell on all his posterity: As St. Paul tells us, 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22. That by man came death, and in Adam all die. And this he does not only assert, but prove, Rom. v. 12, 13, 14.
Therefore by man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned : for until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed, where there is no law ; nevertheless death reinged from Adam till Moses, even over them who had not sinned, after the similitude of Adam's transgression. The design of all which is to prove, that men die, or are mortal, not for their own sins, but the sin of Adam: which the apostle proves by this argument, because though all men, as well as Adam, have sinned, yet till the giving the law of Moses, there was no law, which threatened death against sin, but only that the law given to Adam in paradise, which no man else ever did, or ever could transgress, but he : Now sin is not ima fruted where there is no law : that is, it is not imputed to any man to death, before there is any law which threatens death against it: that no man can be reckoned to die for those sins, which no law punishes with death. Upon what account then, says the apostle, could those men die, who lived, between Adam and Moses, before the law was given, which threatens death? and yet die they all did, even those who had not sinned after the similttude of Adam's transgres