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lecting of God's holy Worship; if Security and Impudence in Sinning; if Cursing, and Swearing, and Blaspheming, and affronting the Authority of Heaven. In short, If open Lewdness and Debauchery ; if Luxury and Drunkenness, if the most shameful Beastialities and Abuses of Human Nature in Adultry and common Mixtures ; I say, if any, or all these, may be supposed to be the Falling away, and the Works of the Man of Sin, mentioned by the Apostle; we of this Age and Generation have much Reason to fear, that that Day is coming, that the Judge is even at the Door! But though that may be a reasonable and pious Fear, yet still it is to us uncertain ; and therefore

Secondly, Hence I infer, That the uncertainty of the Time of Judgment ought to engage us all upon a constant Watchfulness and Preparation for it. For though, no Question, many would be willing to know the certain Time of Judgment, and that for this Reason chiefly, because they think that would put them upon a more speedy and effectual Preparation for it ; that would chill their Blood and their Spirits ; that would overcast all the Pleasures and Comforts of Life; that would make them spend their Days (as Condemned Criminals usually do, betwixt the Sentence of Death, and the Time of Execution) in continual Devotions, and Repentances, I grant, that in all Probability it would do fo; and so it would,

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to give Men a full View of Heaven and Hell, whilst they are in this world. But God in his Wisdom and Providence, hath not thought

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and fit to do either the one, or the other yet he hath made sufficient Provision for the

t carrying on the Work of Religion, and Prepa. ration for another Life : Nay indeed, perhaps better than if he had told us the certain Time of Judgment: For it will much weaken and take off the Restraints of Religion from Men; it would give a freer Scope to their Vicious Inclinations, if they knew Chow wicked soever they are] that it would be a long time e'er Judgment overtake them : This would frustrate the Methods of Divine Providence whereby he often reclaims Sinners ; as in the Calamities of Plague, Famine, Sword, or Sickness; which put Men in Mind, that God may be then, coming to reckon with them: But these would be ineffectual upon them, if they knew that these Judgments were to affright, not to hurt them. Besides, then there would be no trial at all of our Religion; no Exercise of our Faith and Patience ; of our Love and Reverence for God is, of our Conquest and Vi&ory over the World, all these would be Mercenary, and Slavish; Matters of Necessity, not Choice; of Fear, not Duty. And therefore God does not set Judgment in an open View ; which probably might terrify and affright us ;. but he places it at an unknown Distance, and Uncertainty, thereby to try whether we dare believe and depend upon his

Promise ;

Luk 1

42, &c

Promise; whether we will watch and pray; live under a constant Sense and Awe of his coming, though we do not know when it shall happen'; or whether upon his supposed Delay, we will turn Atheists, or Scepticks, and say with those Men in the Text, Where is the Promise of bis coming ? Thus our Saviour himself represents the Matter. And the Lord said, Who then is that Faithful and Wise Steward, whom bis Lord Mall make Ruler over his Housbold, to give them their Portion in due Seafon Blessed is that Servant, whom his Lord, when be cometh shall find so doing : Of a Truth, I say unto you, that he will make him Ruler over all be bath. But, and if that Servant say in his Heart, my Lord delayeth bis coming; and shall begin to beat the Men Servants, and Maidens, and to Eat, and to Drink, and to be drunken; the Lord of that Servant will come in a Day, when be looketh not for bim, and at an Hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in funder, and appoint bim bis Portion with the Unbelievers. Thus likewise in the Parable of the Ten Vir- Mat. 25. gins ; those Five that had not Oil in their Lamps, because the Bridegroom tarried, slumber'd and slept, were surpriz’d with the Cry at Midnight, and denied Entrance : But those that had prepared Oil, and trimmed their Lamps, and waited for the coming of the Bridegroom, went in with bim to the Marriage. Rom. 2. And we read in general, that they only are the accepted Persons, who by a patient Continuance in well doing, seek for Honour, Glory, Immorta

lity,

&c.

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lity, Eternal Life. The Uncertainty therefore of the Day of Judgment, is a great Motive to a constant Watchfulness and Preparation; whereas, to know the precise Time of it, would serve no End of Religion; but would rather increase the Wickedness of Mankind; which is a sufficient Vindication of the Wisdom of God, in leaving it unknown, and uncertain to us. And thus I have finished the first part of this Discourse, viz. these Words considered by way of Doubt and Question; whether Christ will come to Judgment; whether he has not delayed the Time, and slipped the Promise of his coming. I should now come to the Second, viz, to consider

them as spoken by way of abfolute Denial : That it is a vain Promise and Expectation: He will never come to Judgment. But that will furnish Matter for another Discourse, where we shall meet with, and answer all the Arguments of Scoffers against Religion, and a Judgment to come.

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2 PETER 111. 4.
Where is the Promise of bis Coming ? For

fince the Fathers fell asleep, all Things
continue as they were from the Begins
ning of the Creation.

I

in this Chapter, was directed against a Sort of Heretical Libertines, who should spring up after the Apostles, and endeavour to fubvert the Faith of Christians; particularly in the Article of Christ's Second coming to Judgment.

The

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