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On the General Conflagration.

DISCOURSE XXIV.

2 PETER iii. 10, II.

Tbe Day of the Lord will come as a Thief

in the Night, in which the Heavens shall pass away with a great Noise, and the Elements hall melt with fervent Heat, the Earth also, and the Works that are therein, mall be burnt up. Seeing then that all these Things shall be disolved, what Manner of Persons ought ye to be in all boly Conversation and Godliness!

HE Subject which these Words

present to our Thoughts is of great Importance, and well deserves our serious Consideration. We are apt to be struck

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with

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with an Account of

any extraordinary Events, especially if they be such in which not only the Interests of particular Persons and Families, but of large Communities, of populous Cities and Nations, are involved. But what are any of the Revolutions that happen to particular States and Kingdoms, the Overthrow of flourishing Cities and mighty Empires, or_what are the most dreadful Devastations, by Sword, Fire, Pestilence, Earthquakes, Tempests, even those of them that spread farthest, and produce the most pernicious Effects, com pared with the Dissolution of this present World at the Judgment of the great Day!

I had Occasion fome Time ago to consider the Account the Scriptures give us of the general Deluge, which it pleased God, in his just Judgment, to send upon the World of the ungodly; and whereby the whole human Race, which was then upon

the Face of the Earth, was destroyed, except Noah and those that were with him in the Ark. It was observed to you, that this is an Event which is not only clearly recorded in the holy Scriptures, but of which there are remarkable Traces to be found in the History and Traditions of the most ancient Nations, as appears from the Testimonies of the heathen Writers themselves. We have the Promise

and

LAR

and Covenant of God to assure us, that this Earth shall not again be overwhelmed with an universal Flood. But let us not therefore flatter ourselves that this World, in the present Form of it, shall be of a perpetual Duration.

There is a Time approaching when it shall be dissolved and consumed by Fire. And there is no Palfage in the sacred Writings that is more express and full to this Purpose than these Words of the Apostle Peter, which I have now chosen to insist upon. There is such an Emphasis in every Expression, such a Pomp and Solemnity in the whole Description, especially when we consider it in its Connection with the Context, as sufficiently demonstrates that it cannot be understood merely of Christ's particular coming to the Destruction of Jerusalem, to which some have endeavoured to apply it. If we look back to the third Verse of this Chapter we shall find that the Apostle tells us of some Scoffers that shall come in the last Days, walking after their own Lusts, and Saying, Where is the Promise of his coming ? For fince the Fathers fell asleep, all Things continue as they were from the Beginning of the Creation. i. e. the World continues still the same that it was some thousand Years ago; there are no more Signs of a Decay or Dissolution now than there were then: and therefore, where is the Promise of Christ's coming to Judgment, or of the general Resurrection and Dissolution of the World? we have been told of these Things long since, and yet they seem to be as far off as ever. To these Scoffers St. Peter gives a full Answer in the 5th, and following Verses. He first observes, that this they are willingly' ignorant of, that by the Word of God the Heavens were of old, and the Earth standing out of the Water. Verse

then

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5. If they did but consider that the Heavens and the Earth were made of old by the Word of God, it would not seem an impoffible Thing that they should be destroyed, or the whole Frame of them changed by the same almighty Power that created them; especially considering the Proof that has been already given of this in the universal Deluge; whereby, as he speaks, Verse 6. the World that then was, being over flowed with Water, perished. And as then the Earth was overflowed. with Water, so it is to undergo a second Destruction by Fire. The Heavens and the Earth which are now, says he, Verse the same Word are kept in Store, reserved unto Fire against the Day of Judgment, and Perdition of ungodly Men. And whereas this Time seems to be long delayed, the Apostle answers, ist, That though it may

seem

7. by

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