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and Destruction, from which no human Power or Cunning can delives us; yet our Hope is stedfast and unmoveable, being placed in Him who is able to subdue all Things to himself.
This Belief, That the Dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God, and arise to Life, is the fundamental Article of a Christian's Faith: If this be not well established, our Hope and Confidence are vain, and the preaching the Cross of Christ is Foolishness.
Let us reflect a little how our Case stands with respect to the Prospect beyond the Grave; let us consider what Hopes Nature furnishes, and how they are supported, confirmed, and enlarged, by the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
When we view the World in its present Circumstances, and see the Misery and Oppression that are in it; when we consider that the Distresses and Sorrows arising from the Weakness and the Wickedness of Men are in Number and in. Weight ten times more than all the Sufferings to which we are exposed by the mere Frailty of our Condition ; we can hardly imagine that a wise and just God made the World to be what we find it is. When we look farther, and find that the best Men oftentimes fare worst;
that even the Defire and Endeavour to please God frequently exposes them to infinite Sorrows in this World; we stand amazed, and are ready to doubt whether these Appearances can be reconciled with the Belief that God governs the World. But, since all Nature proclaims the Being and the Power of God, and the visible Things of the Creation declare in every Language of the World the Wisdom and Goodness of Him who made them ; under the Force and Conviction of this Evidence that there is a God, we can find no possible Way to account for his Justice and Goodness towards the Children of Men, but by fupposing that he has appointed a Day in which he will judge the World in Righteousness : And since this World evidently is not the Scene of this Judgment, we conclude there must be another, in which we shall ftand before his Tribunal. Thus far Nature goes: All beyond this is vain Philofophy and Imagination, founded in Conceits - which are in vogue to-day, and forgot to-morrow. Scholars may reason of the Nature of the Soul, and the Condition of it when feparated from the Body; but the common Hopes of Nature receive no Support from such Inquiries. But yet
fomething farther seems necessary to give. Ease
to Nature in this painful Search after Life and Happiness. The numberless Instances of Mortality which we hear and see, the Remains of those who left the World Ages before we came into it, and are still mouldering in their Tombs, is undeniable Evidence that Death destroys this compound Being which we call Man. How to revive this Union Nature knows not; and as for those who make the Spirits of Men in the divided State to be perfect Men, they seem to have got a Conclusion without consulting the Premises. Look now into the Gospel: There you
will find every reasonable Hope of Nature, nay every reasonable Suspicion of Nature, cleared up and confirmed, every Difficulty answered and removed. Do the present Circumstances of the World lead you to suspect that God could never be Author of such corrupt and wretched Creatures as Men now are? Your Suspicions are just and well-founded: God made Man upright; but thro' the Temptation of the Devil Sin entered, and Death and Destruction followed after.
Do you suspect, from the Success of Virtue and Vice in this World, that the Providence of God does not interpose to protect the Righteous from Violence, or to punish
the Wicked ?. The Sufpicion is not without Ground. God leaves his best Servants here to be tried oftentimes with Affliction and Sorrow, and permits the Wicked to flourish and abound. The Call of the Gospel is not to Honour and Riches here, but to take
up our Cross and follow Christ.
Do you judge, from comparing the present State of the World with the natural Notion you have of God, and of his Justice and Goodness, that there must needs be another State in which Justice shall take place? You reason right; and the Gospel confirms the Judgment. God has appointed a Day to judge the World in Righteousness: Then those who mourn shall rejoice, those who weep shall laugh, and the persecuted and afflicted Servants of God shall be Heirs of his Kingdom. Have you
sometimes Misgivings of Mind? Are you tempted to mistrust this Judgment, when you
see the Difficulties which surround it on every Side; some which affect the Soul in its separate State, some which affect the Body in its State of Corruption and Diflolution ? Look to the Gospel : There these Difficulties are accounted for ; and
need no longer puzzle yourself with dark Questions concerning the State, Condition, and
Nature of separate Spirits, or concerning the Body, however to Appearance lost and destroyed; for the Body and Soul fhall once more meeț to part no more, but to be happy
In this case the Learned cannot doubt, and the Ignorant may be sure, that 'tis the Man, the very Man himself, who shall rise again : For an Union of the fame Soul and Body is as certainly the Restoration of the Man, as the dividing them was the Destruction.
Would you know who it is that gives this Affurance? 'Tis One who is able to make good his Word; One who loved you fo well as to die for you; yet One too great to be held a Prisoner in the Grave: No; he rose with Triumph and Glory, the first-born from the Dead, and will in like manner call from the Dust of the Earth all those who put
their Truft and Confidence in him. But who is this, you'll say, who was subject to Death, and yet had Power over Death ? How could so much Weakness and fo much Strength meet together? That God has the Power of Life, we know; but then he cannot die: That Man is mortal, we know; but then he cannot give Life.
Consider ; does this Difficulty deserve an Answer, or does it not? Our blessed Saviour