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Thus Christians will have a greater Account to give than Jews or Heathens, because they have received more; and as the Receipts of Christians are very unequal, so their Accounts will proportionably differ. Some Christians have but One Talent, others Two, others Five, and as no Man shall account for more than he has received, so how much soever we have received, we must account for it all. This needs no proof, and it has been sufficiently explained and applied above.
How to know what our Sentence will he at the last Judgment: With an Exhortation to Reverence our own Consciences.
HAving thus largely discoursed concerning a Future Judgment, I need not mind you of what Concernment it is, to know what Sentence Christ will pass on us at that Day; whether Come ye blejfed of my Father, or, Go ye cursed into everlasting fire. For if we must be happy or miserable for ever, how can we content our selves to live in doubt and suspence, which of these shall be our Portion? What a Hell is this to live in perpetual fear of Hell ? How can we fleep without dreaming of Lakes of Fire and Brimstone, without the Rightful Apparitions of damned Spirits! What
H a transporting foretaste would it give us of the Joys of Heaven to read our Names written in the Book of Life! to fee a Crown, a bright and glorious Crown prepared for us! But how shall we know this? Who shall search the Records of Heaven for us? The Answer is plain, we need not ascend up into Heaven for it, we have the counterpart of those Records in our own breasts. For, as St. John tells us, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than cur heart, and knoiveth all things: beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God, i John 3. 20, 21. That is, if our Heart or Conscience condemn us, then God will condemn us, for he knows more of us than our own Consciences know, he knows us better than we know our selves; and if we know so much Wickedness by our selves, that we cannot but condemn our selves, (though every Man is a favourable Judge of himself) God, who knows a great deal more of us, must condemn us also: But if our Conscience condemn us not,
if it acquit and absolve, than have we confidence
ttwards God, a great and sure hope in God's Mercy; that he will not condemn us: We cannot have the confidence of innocent Men, because we have been Sinners 1 but we may have the « humble confidence and assured hopes of returning and repenting Prodigals, and of dutiful and obedient Children.
That this is so, the Apostle's Authority is sufficient to convince us; and yet if the Apostle had not said it, the Reason and Nature of the thing sufficiently proves it.
God has given us a certain Rule, whereby we shall be judged, which I have now explained to you : And therefore since God will judge us by this Rule, if we also judge our selves by it, we may certainly know what Judgment God will pass on us: For neither God, nor our own Consciences can mistake in their Judgment ,—arid when the Rule is the fame, and there can be no Mistake on either side, the Judgment must necessarily be the fame; arid then the fame Judgment our own Consciences make of us, God will make : If they condemn us, God will condemn us also; if they condemn us not, neither will God condemn US ^ then ive shall have confidence towards God.
There needs no Proof of this, if you will but confess, that every Man knows himself, what his own Life and Actions are, and that God knows every Man better than he knows himself. If we know our selves, and know our Rule ; if we know what we ought to do, and what we have done, we can certainly tell, whether we have done our Duty, or not: If our own Consciences condemn us, it is certain we have not done our Duty ; that we either do what we know we ought not to do, or leave undone what we know we ought to do, for no Man in his wits will accuse himself wrongfully. Now if this be our case, our Consciences do very justly condemn us, and then God, who knows us as perfectly as our own Consciences, must condemn us also: For a guilty Sinner, who is guilty to his own
Conscience, can never escape the Condemnation cf a just and righteous Judge, if he know his Guilt.
Did Earthly Princes or Judges , as certainly know the Crimes which every particular Man is guilty of, as God knows the Sins of all Men, with their particular Circumstances and Ag
fravations, every Malefactor, who knows what ,aw he has broken, and what is the Puniihment of the Breach of such Laws, might certainly know what his Condemnation will be, if he meet with a righteous Judge.
But Earthly Judges do not always know Men's Personal Guilt , or want Evidence to prove it; and thus many Criminals, whose own Consciences condemn them, may escape the Condemnation of Men; but God knows more of us than our own Consciences, and needs no other Evidence against us, but our own Consciences, to condemn us. Earthly Judges are not always upright in their Judgment, Fear or Favou? may pervert their Justice, but God is the Judge of all the World, and therefore Supream Rectitude and Justice; that no Sinner can hope to escape his Justice, whose own Conscience condemns him; for if God should not condemn such Men, he would be less just than the Conscience of a Sinner.
But you'll say, the Mercy of God, and the Merits of our Saviour, may pardon a Sinner, whose Conscience condemns him, though Justice can't. I answer, No: If Conscience condemns according to the Rule of the Gospel, it condemns both for the Justice and for the Mercy of God; for the Gospel is the Gospel of Grace, and contains all the Mercy that God hath promised to Sinners, and if Conscience judging by this Rule condemns a Sinner, the Mercy of God will not save, to be sure Gospel-Grace and Mercy, his own Conscience being witness, cannot save him; and therefore his Salvation is hopeless, while he continues in this state. No Man's Conscience which is not disturbed, or misguided, of which more presently, will absolutely condemn him without some notorious and manifest Guilt, and the Mercy of the Gospel cannot save such a Man. He must be conscious to himself, that he lives in the Commission of some known Sin, or in the habitual neglect of some known Duties, without Repentance and Reformation, before he will peremptorily condemn himself; and the Grace of the Gospel will not pardon wilful, impenitent, unreformed Sinners.
Thus on the other hand; if our Consciences do not condemn us, then have we confidence towards God. If we have a Conscience void os offence both towards God, and towards Man: If we have the Testimony of our Consciences, that in simplicity and godly fincefity, we have had our Conversation in this World. If we serve God with such Zeal, and Vigour, and Activity, if we so abound in the work of the Lord, in all the Fruits of Righteousness, Goodness, and Charity, that our own Consciences approve and commend us for it, this will give us a secure hope,