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I COR. xüj. 8.
be Prophesies, they shall fail : Whether
HUS at length I have done with
the Properties of Charity. In
the remainder of this Chapter the Apostle commends this excellent Grace, partly from its duration, and partly by preferring it before Faith and Hope. The duration of Charity is first absolutely asserted, and then comparatively illustrated in the 8th verse. Its duration is asserted in the first words of that verse, Charity never faileth. And then 'tis illustrated by comparing it with Prophesies, Tongues, and Knowledge, in the words following ; But whether there be Prophesies, they shall fail ; whe
ther there be Tongues, they shall cease ; whether there be Knowledge, it shall vanish away, Now as for those words, Charity never faileth, they must be understood with Relation to the Life to come, for the Apostle therein shews the preheminence of Charity, that whereas many excellent Gifts cease after this Life, as having neither place nor use in Heaven, Charity still remains, and shall to Eternity.
Now in handling this verse, I shall first fhew, that Prophesies," Tongues and Knowledge, are of no longer duration than while we are here ; and then that Charity accompanies us into the other World, and abides for ever, I must speak of those three, Prophesjes, Tongues and Knowledge, severally. And first of Prophesies. The word Prophesie in Scripture (as I have formerly shewed) is diverfly taken ; sometimes it notes the Gift of foretelling of things to come, and sometimes the Gift of explaining and applying Scripture, or the Act of either of them. Now in which Sense soever it be here taken,whether it be taken for the prediction of things to come, or for explaining and applying Scripture, and fpeaking out of Scripture to the
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Edification of the Hearers, it hath place no longer than while we are here in this World." If Prophesie be taken for the prediction of things to come, 'tis evident that it can have place no longer than while we are here.' For,
"1. Prophesie in this Sense taken, neceffarily implies such a variety and mutability of dispensations, such as acceffion of Events, Alterations and Changes, as the condition of the Church and the World is subject to here ; but in the other World where the Estate of all Men whether good, or bad shall be everlastingly unchangeable, there will be no place for the predi&tion of future things.
2. The ends of this kind of Prophesie shall then cease, and consequently the thing it self. The chief ends of the foretelling of things to come, are according to the different matter of such Prophesies, either the warning, comforting, supporting, and encouraging of the Church of God, or the Terror and restraining, and sometimes the humbling and Conversion of the Enemies thereof. Now 'tis apparent that none of these ends of Prophesie are consistent with the Estate of good and bad Men in the other World
And if Prophesie be taken in the other Sense for Explaining, Interpreting, and applying Scripture, 'tis as evident that it must cease after this Life. For the Holy Scriptures themselves, and all those Ordinances which God hath
appointed in his Church here, shall then be of no further use. The main end of the Word and Ordinances is, to convert and build up, comfort, guide, and lead us on in our way to Heaven: In a word, to make us meet to be partakers of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light, and to fit us for the Eternal enjoyment of God in the World to come. But now all these ends shall cease when we come to Heaven. Then there shall be none to be Converted, the Day of Grace being over and all belonging to the Election of Grace being already Converted : Then there will be none to be Edified or Built up, for all shall have attained unto Perfection; then there shall be no need of any other Comfort than that which perpetually flows from the immediate vision and fruition of God, in whose presence there is fullness of Joy, and at whose Right Hand there are pleasures for evermore. Then we shall have attained, the end of our