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SERM. supported them in trials, and ministered XII. unto them in the work of salvation, are
prepared to carry them to those dwellings of eternal peace, where God himself shall be for ever with them: and he shall. wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away. When as soon as they arrive at this transcending scene, they shall put on a body of incorruption, shall be invested with the garments of the children of light, and being admitted into the full assembly of glorified spirits shall sit down with Abraham, or rather let a Christian say, with Christ, and shall partake of the fruit of that tree of · life, which is for the healing of the nations,
Such is the improvement that may be drawn from the parable. Whatever be our lot in life, whether prosperous or adverse, whether good or evil, if we improve it, we shall reap incomparably greater good, and if we abuse it, we shall reap incomparably greater
But the things of this serm. life are near and before our eyes, while XII. the things of another life are at a disc bra tance and out of our view. And therefore men are so much engrossed with things temporal, and so little sedulous. after things eternal. To counterbalance this inconvenience we are frequently and solemnly instructed by the word of truth, that the goods and evils of the present life, however we may rate them in our worldly imaginations, admit of no comparison, for they bear no proportion either in measure or duration, with the goods and evils of the life to come. Of the nature of future happiness or misery perhaps it is not possible to form a due conception in the body. So that every thing respecting the future world is of necessity conveyed to us under the form of similitude or parable. But though the scriptures do not fully instruct us in the nature of these rewards and punishments, they shew them to be transcendent. Thus the excellence of future happiness is expressively described by the image here displayed of the poor man placed in the bosom of Abraham: and again the intenseness of future misery is with equal expression
SERM, represented in that passionate exclamaXII. tion of the suffering sinner, I am tor:
mented in this flame. Though these images give us no distinct idea of the nature of future happiness and misery, yet they teach us to judge sufficiently of the degree; for whatever we enjoy or endure upon earth is not to be put in competition with the enjoyments or sufferings of another world.
And as they are, transcendent, so also are they irreversible. The present life alone is the state of discipline or trial, as the future is the state of recompence. While the day of life remains, it is possible for the righteous to fall away from their own stedfastness, it is possible for the wicked to retrieve their errors by repentance. But when once the door of life is closed, as the tenour of their life is unchangeable, so the consequence of their deeds is unalterable. As the tree falleth so it will lie: as the doom of men is then determined, so will it remain for ever. A dread separation will then take place between the righteous and the wicked. A great gulf which it shall not be possible to pass will be placed between the regions of happiness and misery. T'he righteous
will then be raised above the possibility SERM. of a relapse: the wicked will be de- XII. pressed beyond the compass of repent-m ance. The good then enjoyed will suffer no impair: the evil then endured will admit of no abatement. ,
For this important doctrine there is no want of evidence. It was signified to the Jews by Moses and the Prophets. And though not expressed in full and decisive terms, it was accepted by the great body of the Jews as an article of faith. But whatever doubt there might hang upon it under the law, it was put beyond the reach of controversy by the Author and Finisher of our faith, who has expressly told us that the hour is coming, when all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation k.
To the truth of this doctrine he has set his seal by sundry visions and miracles, which were sensibly displayed and visibly performed. A voice from heaven repeatedly declared him to be the beloved Son of God. His word alone
GERM. was instantaneous healing to the mala
XII. dies of human nature. And after he who had submitted to the death of the cross
and had entered into the invisible world, to add a more decisive and more appropriate evidence to this great article of his religion, he rose again from the dead. Thus, as the Apostle says in his epistle to the Romans, he was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead'. And to the same effect the same Apostle reasons in his preaching to the Athenians, when he declares, that God hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that Man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead". Thus we have not only Moses and the Prophets in common with the Jews; we have a surer word of testimony in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who by rising from the dead himself is become an infallible pledge and earnest that we also shall be raised.
Yet all this weight of evidence is not sufficient to persuade mankind. I do