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Concerning a future Judgment and
State of final Retributions, when the Administrations of Providence towards Mankind shall be compleated.
Eccles. iii. 17.
I said in mine Heart, God sball judge the
righteous and the wicked : for there is a Time there for every Purpose and for every Work.
N my last Discourse several Things
were offered for vindicating the Righteousness of God in his Dispensations towards Mankind in this present State ; but
it was observed, that this cannot be fully done without taking a future World into the Account. For it is then that the
great Scheme of Providence shall be compleated, and all those Difficulties which now puzzle and astonish our Minds shall be fully adjusted and reconciled. We cannot therefore more properly conclude this Subject, in treating of which we have endeavoured to take a general View of the Administrations of Divine Providence towards Mankind, than by turning our Thoughts to a State of future Judgment and Retributions, when all the Designs of God towards the human Race shall be brought to their final important Issues.
To this the Words of the Wise-man, which I have now chosen to infift
upon, seem plainly to refer. He had said in the Verse immediately preceding, I saw under the Sun, the Place of Judgment, that Wickedness was there; and the Place of Righteousnefs, that Iniquity was there. It hath often happened, that they whose proper Work and Office it is to execute Justice and Judgment, to punish evil Doers, and to do Right to the injured and oppressed, are themselves anrighteous and unjust. They join with the Oppressors against the poor and innocent, and suffer Judgment to be perverted in Favour of the wealthy and powerful. This made a great Impression upon his Mind, and he frequently takes Notice of it in this Book. Thus Ch. v. 8. he representeth it as no uncommon Thing to see the Oppression of the Poor, and violent perverting of Justice and Judgment in a Province. And Ch. iv. I. I returned (faith he) and pondered all the oppressions that are under the Sun; and bebold the Tears of such as were oppresed, and they bad no Comforter ; and on the side of their Oppresors there was Power; but they, i. e. the oppressed, had no Comforter. This so affected his Heart, that in the Bitterness of his Concern he adds, Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living which are yet alive. But this seems to have been the Language of Passion and Melancholy. A more just and reasonable Conclusion from the same Premises, and which he formed in the cool deliberate Judgment of his Mind, is that which is contained in the Words we are now to confider; I said in mine Heart, God Mall judge the righteous and the wicked. Since it often happeneth that no Jusțice is to be found at earthly Tribunals, it is natural and reasonable to believe that there is a Time coming, when God will set all Things right, and will call all Mankind to an ACcount for their Actions, and put a remarkable Difference between the righteous and
the wicked. For, as it is added, there is a Time there, i. e, with him, for every Purpose, and for every Work. He hath in his great Wisdom appointed the properest Time for every Work, and therefore we may be sure he hath appointed a Time for this, which is the most important Work of all, and upon which the good Order of the World and of his Government doth very much depend ; viz. the judging all Men, both the righteous and the wicked, and distributing proper Retributions.
Retributions. And to this the Wife-man hath a manifest Reference in that remarkable Passage with which he concludeth this Book : For God shall bring every Work into Judgment, with every secret Thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. In which Words he cannot be supposed to intend that God doth always and in every Instance execute Judgment upon Men in this present Life: the contrary to which he most expressly declareth in this Book. For he complains, that in this World all Things come alike to all, and that there is one Event to the righteous and to the wicked. Ch. ix. 2. And again, that there is a just Man that perisheth in bis Righteousness, and that there is a wicked Man that prolongeth bis Life in his Wickedness. Ch. vii. 15. Or, as he expresseth it Ch. viii. 14. There is a Vanity