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it seems such a thing there is, as was universally believed in the Apostle's Days, as appears from his Appeal to their own Knowledge of it; but if they must judge the World, it is reasonable to think that their own Judgment rauft be over first.
I shall name but one thing more, which I have had several occasions to take notice of already; and that is, That at the last Judgment, this Earth shall be destroyed with Fire, as St. Peter exprefly tells us: The day of the Lord shall come like a thief in the nights in the which the Heavins jball pass away with a great noise, and the Elements. .shall melt with fervent heat j the Earth also, and the Works that are therein shall be burnt up, 2 Pet. 3. 10. This has been an old Tradition, That the World should de destroyed by Fire, and some Men are very curious and inquisitive by what Natural Causes this may be done; for they are not willing to allow, that God either made or destroys the World by an immediate Power for the less they leave for God to do, the less they are concerned about him: But though it is hard to persuade some Men now, that there was any need of a God to make the World, which they think could make it self without Him; yet the last Judgment shall convince them, That it is GO D that destroys it, when they shall see the World fired by a flame streaming from his Throne, as is not improbable by the Description of the Prophet Daniel, A serf Stream ijjued, and came forth from before him, 7 Dan. 10.
The only question is, WhethertheWorld shall be fired at Christ's first appearance to Judgment, or after the final Sentence pronounced against Bad men? The first does not seem probable, because Christ himself shall place his Throne in the Air, and all Mankind /hall be gathered before him to Judgment, and a fired World is not a proper Scene for such an Appearance; and the burning of the World seems to be an Act of Judgment and Vengeance; as St. Paul tells us, He shall descend from Heaven in flaming flrey taking Vengeance on them that know not GodS 2 Thess. i. 8. So that the Devil and Bad men jhall first be condemned to everlasting Fire, and then their Punishment shall begin in a fired World.
Thus I have given you a brief View of the Circumstances and Manner of Christ's Appearance, and the awful Solemnities of Judgment, every part of which is for the Glory of our Lord, for the Comfort of Good men, and a Terror to the wicked. God grant we may so think of this Day before-hand, that we may not feel the Terror and AstoniJhment of it, when it eomes.
Who are to le judged, viz. The World, or all Mankind.
V. T ET Hi now consider who are to be judg^ I -» ed,. and they are the World, or all Mankind: For I shall take no notice of the Judgment of the Devil and the Apostate Angels, which we know no more of, but only that they shall be judged, that the Angels -which kept not their firfi estate, but left their own habitations he hath reserved in everlafiing chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, Jude, V. 6.
Why their Judgment is deferred so long we cannot- tell; for it is plain, that the Angels fell from their first Estate before Man,' and how long we know not, for it was the Serpent that beguiled Eve ,- but this we know$ that whatever their first Apostafie was., they have a great deal more to answer for now, and must expect a more terrible Condemnation: All the Sin that is in the World is originally owing to the Temptation of the Devil, who seduced our first Parents in Paradise , and has ever since been she great Tempter to Wickedness and Apostasie from God: and therefore he is in some degree ens ituled to all the Wickedness of Man-> kind.
And this is a good reason why the Devil and Rid Angels, and all Bad Men should be judged
T ." and" and condemned together, those who tempt, and those who are overcome by Temptations; the Prince of Darkness, and all his Subjects, whether Angels or Men. Hell is the Fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels, not for Men; but when he has drawn Mankind into the Apostacy, it is fit they should share in his Punishments too; and when our Lord comes to judge Men who have been seduced and corrupted by Evil Spirits, there is no reason to think that Wicked Spirits should escape, who have seduced and tyrannized over Mankind.
But that which we are at present concerned in, is the Judgment of Mankind, That God hath appointed a Day wherein he will judge the World, or the whole Race of Men, as St. John represents it, I saw she dead, snail and great, st and before God, 20 Revel. i2.
No Man who believes a Future Judgment, makes any doubt of this, but that all shall be judged. For if any, why not all? We are all alike God's Creatures, we are all equally accountable to him; and tho' we have verydifferent Talents, yet we have all some Talent or other to improve for our Master,s Use: And therefore I shall not go about to convince any Man, that he is to be judged as well as the rest of Mankind; but there are some Persons who are apt to forget this, who have yet as much occasion to think of a future Judgment, as anyother Men, and therefore ought to be minded of it: And they are those who are very Rich and Great, or very Poor, or in the Vigour and Gayety of Youth.
1st. Rich and Great Men, Princes and Potentates, Men of Honour and Fortune, who are exalted above the common Level of Mankind: These must all be judged as well as the meanest Men, though they are not very apt to think of it : Great Power and great Riches make.them reverenced and adored like so many Deities in this World; all Men court and flatter them, and make a great distinction between them and those of a meaner Rank and Fortune; and this is apt to swell their Minds: They look down upon the rest of the World as very much below them - and think they merit much when ever they look up to God: For such great Men as they are to worship God, and lift up their Eyes sometimes to Heaven, they imagine is so great an Honour to God, and credit to Religion, that a vary little matter will be accepted from them: They fee Humane Judicatures very often have great respect for Mens Persons in Judgment, and they hope God will consider their Quality too, and deal with them like Princes^ or Nobles, or Gentlemen; as one unfortunate Gentleman expressed himself not many Years since at the Gallows; and I fear therein spoke the secret Thoughts and Hopes of many others: So that if these Men believe they shall be judged, yet they perswade themselves, that they shall not be judged like other Men; that God will wink at their Faults, and have respect to their Rank and Quality, and excuse them from the strict Observation of those Laws which were made for meaner Persons. '' <