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when we see such things as these in the World, shall we not fear and tremble before that just and righteous Judge? Can we forget that GOD will judge the World in Righteousness, when we fee already such terrible Executions, which are only Preludiums to a Final Judgment?
a. These present and visible Judgments give us a nearer Prospect of a Future Judgment; and Judgment will more sensibly affect us, the nearer we fee it: Not that such Judgments as these prove , that the Final Judgment is near at hand; for the Records and Histories of former Ages give us an Account of very terrible Judgments which God then executed upon theWorld* and yet we fee the Final Judgment is deferred and we know not how long it may be deferred still: But though the General Judgment may be a great way off, yet our particular Judgment may be very near; God may quickly cut us off, and put an end to our Account; and when the Judgments of God are in the World, we have reason to expect it, at least so far, as to be prepared for it: Proximut ardet Ucakgon; when we fee the Judgments of God sweep away so many Thousands round about us, who not long since lived as secure and unconcerned for danger as we do; when we fee the Clouds hover and rowl about the Heavens, charged with Thunder and Tempest, who knows where the Storm will break next, and who shall feel the Violence of it? And therefore the Judgments of G O D , which are in the Earth, will give all considering L 4 Men Men sixth a present Sense of a Future Judgment, as a threatning Sickness will do: Present Judgments may suddenly cut us off, and send us into the other World unprepared for a Final Judgment; and there is no preparing for it there ; and then these present Judgments mayprove Final to us. So that those who five in such an Age as this, will be utterly inexcusable if they forget their Account:, which they have such terrible Admonitions of. Let us make this use of present Judgments, to awaken a more lively and vigorous Sense of a Future Judgment in us; and that will make us good Men, and secure our Eternal Happiness; and is the best way to prevent any publick Cala-mities of our Countrey , which we may fear , or to preserve our selves from being involved in
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C H A P. II.
Concerning the Time os 'Judgment.
'.S E C T. L
Concerning a particular Judgment at the Time of ka * s rvery M&ns ,Death.
LE T us now consider the Time of Judgment; God hath appointed a day wbtrein he -mil judge the -world in righteousness. Now this plainly refers to that General _ Judgmsnt, when all Mankind shall ;' .; ''..' . .' . ... . - be be summoned before the Tribunal of Christ , to be judged according to their Works. But before I ipeak to this, it will be necessary to take notice of what we commonly call a Particular Judgment, which is supposed to pals upon all Men, as soon as they go out of these Bodies.:?
The received Opinion is, that when any Man dies, he is immediately called to Judgment, and receives his Final Sentence, which is immediately executed on him; that a Bad Man is sentenced to Hell, and sent immediately thither; that a Good Man is received into Heaven, and enjoys the Bearifick Vision from the time of his going out of this Body. %.
But I must confess, this has always appeared a great difficulty to me; we live in such an Inquisitive Age, as will not allow us to affirm what we cannot prove, and indeed no honest Man ought to do so; for it forfeits any Man's Authority, and weakens the Credit of Religion, when that which has no proof, or at best is very uncertain, is taught with as great assurance, as that which is most certain and unquestionable in Religion: and yet no wife Man will oppose and contradict a received Doctrine, though he were satisfy'd it were a Mistake, when there are no evil Consequences attend it: For my part, I must honestly profess, that I neither dare affirm nor deny this particular Judgment in the fense in which it is commonly understood; for there are some Passages in Scripture, which seem to look both ways, and since I cannot decently
avoid avoid saying something of it, I shall fairly represent to you, what Intimations there are in Scripture about this matter; for there is no other way of knowing this; and I dare teach no more than what the Scripture teaches.
i. Now in the first place? thus much is very plain in the Scripture,That good men when they die, are translated into a place of Ease, and Rest, and Happiness; and bad men to a place of Misery and Punishment: which I suppose is what men mean by a particular Judgment: for this is a kind of Judgment, though it be not perform'd with all the Pompous Solemnities of Judgment, to allot men their different States of Life, according as they have behaved themselves in this World.
The Parable of Dives and Lazarus is very ex. press to this purpose, 16. Luke i9, &e. There was a certain rich man, which was chat bed in furs le and fate liwnen, and fared sumptuously every day. And there was 4 certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of Sores. *-n* - And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the Angels into Abrahams bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried. And'in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torment, and seetb Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. That this relates to the state of Good and Bad Men immediately after Death, is very evident, especially from that Request which the Rich Man made to Abraham, to lend Lazarus to his Father's House; For, faith he, I have five brethren; that be may teftifie to them lest they also come into this place of torment: Which shews , that Lazarus was in Abrahams 1 Bosom, Bosom, and Dimes tormented in Hell, or HaJesy while his Brethren were living and revelling on Earth; and therefore this can't relate to a General Judgment, but signifies that State they entred into as soon as they Died: And though what is. generally said, that we must not argue from Parables, is very true as to particular Circumstances of the Story, which are the Ornaments and Embellishments of Parables; yet it is as true, that we must argue from the principal Scope and Design of them; and then we may certainly conclude from this Parable, that good and bad Men as soon as they Die, are in a State of Happiness and Misery; otherwise there is no Foundation for this Parable: For why should one be sent from the Dead to inform the Living what Punishments bad Men suffer in the next World, if they suffer nothing till the Day of Judgment, which is not yet? For in this Case such a Messenger could not be ah Eye-witness of the Punishment of Sinners; which is the only thing that is supposed to give such Authority to his Testimony.
i. I do not remember any other such express Text for the immediate Punishment of Sinners as soon as they go out of these Bodies; and one such Text as this is enough; but there are many Texts to prove, that good Men when they die, go immediately into a State of Happiness; not only Lazarus was carried by the Angels into Abrahams Bosom, but Christ promised the Thief upon the Cross, that that Day he should be with him in Paradise; and St. Paul tells us, That to be at btme in the Body, is to be