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that were raised about it did very much break the SER M. force and weaken the influence of fo ty a confideration.


and weigh

Thus it was among the Gentiles. And under the law of Mofes, though the Jews had such apprehenfions of their own immortality, and of a future ftate of rewards and punishments, as natural light fuggefted to them; yet that covenant and difpenfation added but very little to the clearing of these notions, and the strengthening of this perfuafion in the minds of men; it did rather fuppofe it, than add any new ftrength and force to it: for under that dispensation the eyes of men were generally fixt upon temporal promises and threatnings: though as the times of the Meffias grew nearer, and the sufferings of that people sharper, they began to have clearer apprehensions of a refurrection to another and better life; it being natural to men, when they are deftitute of present comfort, to cherish and make much of the future hopes of a better condition.

And therefore we find that the people of the Jews, when they had been long exercised with great afflictions, began to comfort and fupport themselves with the hopes of a bleffed refurrection to a better life; as is evident from the hiftory of the feven brethren in the Maccabees, who with great patience and courage bore up under the most exquifite torments, in confidence of being raised again to a bleffed state in another world. And of thefe it is that the apoftle certainly speaks, Heb. xi. 35. when he fays "that fome "were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they "might obtain a better refurrection."

But the apostle tells us exprefly, 2 Tim. i. 1o. that the clear and certain discovery of a future ftate is ow ing to the chriftian religion, and made manifeft by


SERM." the appearing of our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST; "who hath abolished death, and brought life and


immortality to light by the gofpel." Not only natural light, but all the revelations which God had made to the world before, had this weakness and imperfection in them, that they did not give men the clear discovery and full affurance of another life; and confequently had but little efficacy in comparison to engage men to their duty, or to fupport and comfort them under fufferings: and therefore the apoftle to the Hebrews calls the gospel, in oppofition to the law, "the power of an endless life," Heb. vii. 16. intimating to us, how great a force and influence the clear apprehenfions of another life are apt to have upon the minds of men. For which reafon the fame apoftle tells us, ver. 18, 19. that the law was too weak to raise men to the perfection of virtue and goodness, because it did not work strongly enough upon the hopes of men, by the greatnefs and clearness of it's promifes; and that for this weakness it was removed, and a more powerful and awakening difpenfation brought in the place of it: "for verily," fays he, "there is an annulling "of the commandment going before," meaning the law of Mofes, which by the gospel was abrogated and made void," for the weakness and unprofitableness of "it; for the law made nothing perfect, but the bring"ing in of a better hope did." For which reafon, chap.' viii. 6. he calls the covenant of the gospel "a better "covenant," because "it was established upon better "promises," viz. "the promise of an eternal inhe"ritance," as the fame apostle speaks, chap. ix. 15. All the exprefs promises of the law were only of temporal good things, but the promises of the gospel are of eternal life and happiness: " this is the promise "which he hath promised us, even eternal life," fays St. John, 1 John ii. 25.



Now the firm perfuafion of another life does not S ERM. only answer that great difficulty and objection against the providence of GOD, from the feeming injustice and inequality of his dealings with good and bad men in this world, because the eternal rewards and punishments of another world will fet all things ftraight, and make abundant amends to good men for all their sufferings and afflictions here; and will render the past profperity of bad men one of the greateft aggravations of their mifery: as it is faid of Babylon, Rev. xviii. 7. " how much she hath glorified "herself and lived deliciously, fo much torment and "forrow give her." In like manner GOD will deal with wicked men in another world; their torments fhall rife in proportion to the pleasure and prosperity they have enjoyed and abufed in this world. This remarkable change of condition which fhall befal good and bad men in another world; is fet forth to us in a very lively and affecting manner in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke xvi. 25. where Abraham is represented fpeaking thus to the rich man, "Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst "thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: "but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. "He is comforted" in proportion to his fufferings in this world; and thou art tormented" in proportion to the fenfual pleasures and luxuries of thy former life. Men under great want and fufferings are apt to think their lot in this world very hard : and yet upon the whole matter, and taking all things into confideration, who would not much rather chufe to be Lazarus, with his hard fortune in this world, and everlasting confolation in the other; than the rich. man, drowned in pleafure in this world, and tormented in flames in the other? I fay, the firm belief of anVOL. XI. other


SER M. other life does not only answer this objection against CCXVI. the divine providence; but does likewife minifter abundant comfort and matter of joy to good men, under all their fears and troubles in this world. Nay, this confideration alone of a bleffed immortality in another world, of which only the chriftian religion hath given us full and undoubted affurance, is of that weight and moment, as to contribute more to the fupport of our fpirits under the evils and calamities of this life, than all the confiderations of philofophy put together. They are many of them pleafant and prétty, and fit enough to entertain and divert a man's mind under a flight trouble, but they are too fpeculative and refined for common capacities, too thin and weak to bear any great ftrefs, and to fupport and relieve a man's mind under a fore and heavy affliction: but this is a confideration which hath ftrength and fubftance in it, that all things will end in our unspeakable happiness, and that this happiness shall have no end. This the apostle St. Paul fpeaks of as a proper confideration of comfort, of which we are affured by the christian religion, that all the evils of this life fhall in the last iffue and refult of things co-operate to our happinefs, Rom. viii. 28. "we know, fays he, "that "all things work together for good to them that love "GOD." And 2 Cor. iv. 16, 17, 18. " for which "cause we faint not," &c. The apoftle gives us an account, how they were afflicted and perfecuted, and what it was that supported them under all their fufferings, ver. 8, 9, 10, 11. "we are troubled on

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every fide; yet not diftreffed: we are perplexed; "but not in despair: perfecuted; but not forfaken: caft down; but not deftroyed. Always bearing "about in the body the dying of our LORD JESUS, "that the life alfo of JESUS might be made manifeft


"in our body. For we which live are always deli-S ER M. "vered unto death for JESUS fake." And then he tells us, what it was that kept up the fpirits of Christians under these fharp fufferings, viz. the affurance which the christian religion gives us of a refurrection to a better and happier life, ver. 14. "knowing that "he which raised up the LORD JESUS, fhall raise us up alfo by JESUS." And then it follows, ver. 16. "for which caufe we faint not: but though our out"ward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed

day by day;" that is, though our bodies be wasted and weakened, yet every day we grow ftronger in the refolution of our minds, becaufe "our light af"fliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for "us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glo"ry; while we look not at the things which are "feen, but at the things which are not feen: for the "things which are feen are temporal; but the things "which are not feen are eternal." And then, at the beginning of the next chapter he ftill urgeth the fame confideration of comfort, that fo foon as we pafs out of the troubles of this life, we fhall enter upon the happiness of the other. "For we know," that is, we Chriftians are affured," that if our earthly house "of this tabernacle were diffolved, we have a building of GOD, an houfe not made with hands, eter"nal in the heavens." Here you fee is the great ground of their confidence and comfort in the worst condition, and under the moft grievous perfecutions which they were continually expofed to.

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And therefore our SAVIOUR and his apoftles make no fcruple to pronounce thofe perfons bleffed, who in respect of their fufferings feemed to be of all men in the world the most miferable; and they pronounce them happy, upon this very account of their fuffer

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