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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 Passage 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 imperfect 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 puts an end to this World, he will think fit to display that infinite variety of Wisdom and Goodness, which governed the World from the beginning to the end,
IY. And this we may expect to understand at the Day of Judgment; for I know no other Reason why God mould in so Solemn a manner Judge the World, but to justify the Wisdom, and Justice, and Goodness of his Providence to all his Creatures. ;•> 5i . 3w
God does not thps 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 jo infprm the Judge in Matters of Fact; but.God
perfectly perfectly knows us all; and every Man's Conscience is a Witness against himself, 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 impossible 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^Æen, will be explained .- the Secrets 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 judgetb, and overcome when he contendeth. Let us not disturb our Heads wish such - Difficulties as we cannot understand now; we . know enough to believe that God is Righteous in all his Ways, and Holy in all his Works; enough to make us devout Worshippers of God: And to enquire farther, is a dangerous Cur.iofity4, like looking into the Ark of God.
Ftfth Inferencez To ajfetl our Souls with a strong, and • "vigorous, and constant Sense of Judgment.
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V.C'Inee it is certain that God will Judge )3 the World, let us endeavour by all means possible to affect our Souls with a strong, and vigorousj 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 selves 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 e% Souls with a Sense of. Judgment. The Experience of tha World, and our own Experience of our selves, ;does sufficiently prove this: We all profess 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 those Sins every day, for which they know God will' Damn them when they come to Judgment; which one would think those who believe they stall be judged, could never do: So that a mere Belief.of a Future Judgment cannot govern Mens Lives; but then these 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
sincere 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 Belief of a Future Judgment make us good men^ we muttnotonly believe it, but affect our Souls with a great fense of it; which is true of all toe other Arguments and Motives,of Religion, as well as of a Future Judgment.
'The proper Enquiry then here is , How we shall awaken and preserve siiqh a powerful Sense of Judgment in our Minds?
Ttfow the only general Direction .that can be given is, Frequently to Think and Medicate on aFuture Judgment; for nothing can affect our Mintjjs, but ourThoughtSjwhich make theObject present, and give us a near View of it: as it is in the Objects of Sense, she Fye affects the Heajt, and excites ana moves she Affections more than all the Arguments in the world: If we look ctedfaffcly upon a terrible and frightful Object, it,wiU strike Terror into us; if upon a pleasant and beautiful Object, it witiexcite.Love and Delight,ifupon a miserable Object, it vyiU,affcct us with a tender Compaffton; to fee men in great Want and Misery,will melt and open thatHeart which was hardened and fliut against all the Arguments and Motives to Charity: And long and frequent Consideration will have much.the ;fome effect:on us that Sight has: Judgment is a terrible thing to bad men, and if they would but feripuJQy think of it, it would territie them; if they Ivould but imagine sometimes, that they heard that lust Trumpet sound , .which (ii'iU awaken all Mankind, and raise them out os their Gravesy.and sum)ndn them to Jud^m.nt; that they saw the Son of
man man descend from Heaven, attended with bit mighty Angels, to execute Vengeance on aMthem who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Chrifil that they saw the Earth all in flames about them, and Hell opening her Mouth wide to receive them; that they saw the Booh opened, and those Sins recorded which they had forgot, and the Secrets of their Hearts ,disclosed $ and that they heard that terrible Sentence, Go ye cursed into everlasting Ftre, 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 2 Or that with these Thoughts about him, he could court a Strumpet, jor spend his Time in Revels and Excess, or Blaspheme <5od, and Ridicule Religion, or cheat his Neighbour, or oppress the Poor and Fatherless, or forswear . . himself? No! we see this cannof 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 Li^es; but the great Difficulty of all, is to bring men to consider,' and yet one would think it impossible 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 fatal a Neglect, 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 Causes