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about Glorious Designs, to surprize the World with unexpected Blessings, or unseen Evils, to keep them in constant Awe and Dependance on himself.
And then of what use is it to us, to be able to give a Reason of every particular Paffage of Providence? We have nothing to do to sit in Judgment upon God; and therefore if we know enough to be a steady Foundation of our Faith and Hope, we know all that is needful in this Life: God does not intend to gratify our Curiosity, or our Scepticism: We must not perfectly know God in this World, for we must live by Faith here, which supposes an imperfe& Knowledge; but perfect Sight and Knowledge is the Reward and Happiness of Heaven.
It is the last Act which explains the whole Plot, the rest is Amusement and Surprize; and therefore the proper time to understand the whole Mystery of Providence, is when all is finished: When God purs an end to this world, he will think fit to display that infinite variety of Wifdom and Goodness, which governed the World from the beginning to the end.
IV. And this we may expect to understand at the Day of Judgment; for I know no other Reason why God should in so Solemn a manner Judge the World, but to justify the Wisdom, and Justice, and Goodness of his Providence to all his Creatures.
God does not thus publickly judge the World, to enquire into Mens Lives, and Actions, and Deserts, which is the Reason of Human Judgments, to convince Sinners by Witnesses and Evidences,and go inform the Judge in Masters of Fact; but God
perfe&ly knows us all; and every Man's Conscience is a Witness against himfelf, that God might without any farther Solemnity adjudge every Man to his proper Place and Reward: But he consults his own Glory in this, and summons all his Creatures together, that Men and Angels may understand, and be Witnesses of his Mercy and Justice
Now it is impoflible God should justify his Providence, without expounding the Reasons of it; and therefore then we may expect to understand the Case of the fallen Angels, which now we know nothing of; and all the Passages and various Scenes of Providence, from the Fall of Adam, till the end of the World: Then the State of Nations, of Kingdoms, of Churches, and of private Men, will be explained: the Se.crets of Hearts will be disclosed, and the hidden Works of Darkness brought to Light.
Let us then stay till this Day comes, when God will justify his Providence against all the Reproaches and evil Surmises of Men, for he will appear just when he judgeth, and overcome when he contendeth. Let us not disturb our Heads with such • Difficulties as we cannot understand now; we know enough to believe that God is Righteous in all bis Ways, and Holy in all bis Works; enough to make us devout Worshippers of God: And to enquire farther, is a dangerous Curiosity, like looking into the Ark of God.
Fifth Inference: To affeEt our Souls with a strong, and
vigorous, and constant Sense of Fudgment. V. Inee it is certain that God will Judge
the World, let us endeavour by all means possible to affect our Souls with a Itrong, and vigorous, and constant Sense of Judgment: The Belief of a Future Judgment is worth little, when it ends in Speculation; the use of it is to govern our Lives, and to prepare us to give a good Account of our felves to God, since we know that he will demand an Account of us: But a mere Belief that we shall be judged, will not do this, unless we affect of Souls
, with a Sense of Judgment. The Experience of the World, and our own Experience of our felves, does sufficiently prove this: We all profefs to believe a Future Judgment, and most of us do heartily believe it; and yet there are too many among us, who give little Reason to the World to think they believe it; who commit thofe Sins every day, for which they know God will Damn them when they come to Judgment; which one would think those who believe they shall be judged, could never do: So that a mere Belief of a Future Judgment cannot govern Mens Lives; but then thefe very Men, when they are awakened into a Dread and Fear of Judgment, feel the Virtue and Power of it on their Hearts; it makes them hate their Sins, and hate themselves for them; it makes them very devout and importunate in their Prayers, very
fincere and passionate in their Repentance, very resolved to forsake all their Sins, and to live a new life; and therefore if we would have the Betief of a Future Judgment make us good men, we must not only believe it, but affect our Souls with a great sense of it; which is true of all the other Arguments and Motives of Religion, as well as of a Future Judgment.
The proper Enquiry then here is , How we Phall awaken and preserve such a powerful Sense of Judgment in our Minds?
Now the only general Direction that can be given is, Frequently to Think and Meditate on a Future Judgment; for nothing can affect our Minds, but our Thoughts, which make theObjeđ present, and give us a near View
of it: as it is in the Objects of Senfe, the Eye affects the Heart; and excites and moves the Affections more than all the Arguments in the world: If we look ftedfaftly upon a terrible and frightful Object, it will strike Terror into us; if upon a pleasant and beautiful Object, it will excite, Love and Delight; if upon a miserable Object, it will affect us with å tender Compassion; to see men in great Want and Mifery, will melt and open that Heart which was hardened and fhut against all the Arguments and Motives to Charity: And long and frequent Copsideration will have much the fame effect on us that Sight has : Judgment is a tertible thing to bad men, and if they would but feriously think of it, it would terrifie them; if they would but imagine sometimes, that they heard that luft Trumpet Sound', which will maken all Mankind, and raise them out of their Graves, and fummon them to Judgm.nt; that they saw the Son of
man descend from Heaven, attended with bis mighty Angels, to execute Vengeance on all them wbo know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Chrift; that they saw the Earth all in flames about them, and Hell opening her Mouth wide to receive them; that they saw tbe' Books opened, and those Sins recorded which ebey had forgot, and the Secrets of their Hearts
disclosed; and that they heard that terrible Sentence, Go ye. cursed into everlasting Fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ; do you think that any man who believes all this, and would suffer himself seriously to think of it, could bear up against the. Terrors of it? Or that with these Thoughts about him, he could court a Strumpet, or spend his Time in Revels and Excess, or Blaspheme God, and Ridicule Religion, or cheat his Neighbour, or oppress the Poor and Fatherless, or forswear himself? No! we see this cannot be, as often as we fee a miserable Sinner whose awakened Conscience distracts him with all these Scenes and Images of Terror.
So that Serious Consideration would make a Future Judgment very effectual" to govern our Liyes; but the great Difficulty of all, is to bring men to consider; and yet one would think it impoffible that a Reasonable Creature should not consider that he must be judged : But so it is, and there is no disputing against Experience; and yet is this so dangerous and fatala Negled, that it concerns us to enquire into the Cause and Remedies of it; for could we cure this, it would quickly reform the World, give a new Resurrection to Piety and Virtue, and secure men from the Danger and 'Terrors of a Future Judgment. Now there are two apparent Cau