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bal; the Words which we translate, Say ye to him that liveth in Prosperity, in the Original are only, Say ye to him that liveth. So the Psalmist is to be understood, Psal. lxix. 32. The humble fall see this and be glad, and your Heart shall live that seek God. And St. Paul, i Theff. iii. 8. Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. And so very often in holy Scripture Life is taken for an happy and glorious Life. Thus Mat. xix. 17. If thou wilt enter into Life, keep the Commandments. And John v. 29. The Hour is coming, in which all that are in the Graves shall bear bis Voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the Refurre&tion of Life. The same I told you of antient Heathen Authors, who use the Word to live, for living joyfully and happily. So Catullus, Vivamus mea Lesbia ; i. e. Let us enjoy our selves. So Martial,
Sera nimis Vita est crastina, vive hodie.
Live to day, says he, it is too late to live to morrow. Taking then the Word Life, for an happy Life; to understand it right, we must know wherein eternal Happiness doth confift. And though this is a Subject far above our weak Capacities to understand, for when we have done our best to explain it, we may truly say with the Apostle St. John, 1 John iii. 2. It doth not yet appear 'what we shall be; yet some of the principal rough Draughts of that happy Life we give you from the holy Scriptures.
1. First then, as to the Bodies of good Men after the Resurrection, they shall be no longer carnal, lumpish, weak, fickly, or mortal ; but
spiritual, sprightly, lively, immortal, and incorruptible. As there is a great Difference between living in an old, leaky House, made of Dirt and Clay, every Day mouldering away, and quickly tumbling down; and living in a pleasant well built Palace, where there are all Manner of Conveniences; fo our Souls will be unspeakably more commodiously lodged in that Building of God, as the Apostle calls it, 2 Cor. V. 1. Eternal in the Heavens, than in these heavy, weak, fickly, dying Bodies, which we carry about with us in this World.
2. Secondly, The Soul will be as much improved as the Body; for as to it's Understanding, whereas we labour here with a great deal of Pains after the Knowledge of a few Truths, and these we never attain to in any great Perfeation, but see them in an obscure Manner, as through a Glass darkly, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. and when we know them, are very apt to forget them again, through Weakness of Memory, Multiplicity of Business, and many Distempers incident to Body and Mind; it shall be quite otherwise in that blessed State, where we shall see Things so clearly as one Man sees another, Face to Face; and both our Understandings shall be enlarged to the utmost Capacity of apprehending and comprehending all Truths, even such as do easily puzzle and confound us in this Life, and we Thall be delivered from all those Weaknesses and Infirmities, which occasion here our forgetting daily many Things which we formerly learned and knew. And, which is above all, our Wills shall be perfected into a true Habit of Holiness, and exact Conformity to the Will of God, and a perR4
fect Liberty from all Servitude of Sin. And our Affections shall be restored to a true Harmony, of good Regulation, and absolute Contentment and Satisfaction.
3. Thirdly, As our Persons shall be thus admirably well disposed for partaking of all Happiness, so such a Happiness shall be provided for us, as shall sufficiently answer the utmost Capacities of such a perfect and glorified Creature. I shall not pretend to enumerate, but leave it to yourselves to consider the innumerable Branches of that Happiness, resulting from our Knowledge, Vifion, and Love of God; and his reciprocal Love of us again; from the happy Society of Saints and Angels; from the perfect good Government of Heaven; from an absolute Freedom from all Pain, Misery, Toil, Weariness, and Want; from an Iinpossibility of sinning and offending God; from the Posiession of all Good, and the unspeakable Joy and Complacence flowing from it ; and the Assurance that all this shall last for ever and ever.
So much for the Description of the Nature of these different States here mentioned.
III. I go on now in the third Place, to shew that these different States result from the different Courses of Life of good and bad Men. This I think is very plain from my Text, in which it is faid, that wide is the Gate, and broad is the Way that leadeth to Destruction, and strait is the Gate, and narrow is the Way, which leadeth unto Life. It is a great and dangerous Mistake in many People, that they look upon the Rewards and Punilhments of the future State, so
abstractedly from the Life and Temper of the Persons, who are to be so rewarded and punished, as if it were only an arbitrary Act of God's that hinders a wicked Man to get to Heaven, or a good Man to drop into Hell. The Consequence of which is, that God's Justice, or his Mercy at least, are taxed and called in Question, though by the eternal Laws of Righteousness both have the natural Fate to which their wicked or good Deeds do naturally lead. This if duly confidered, would vindicate God's Justice from all Imputations, and would shew, that, without a Miracle to hinder it, a wicked Man's Life and Actions will carry him as naturally to Hell, as. the Rivers run into the Sea : and therefore that the whole Fault lies in the first choosing, and the after holding on so long in the Ways of Sin, which infallibly lead to Death. God has declared with an Asseveration, that as he lives be bas no Pleasure in the Death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his Way and live, Ezek. xxxiii. 11.
For apprehending the Meaning of this Truth, we are to consider, that it is a Thing which implies no less than a Contradiction, that an unholy, unregenerate Man, continuing such, should be happy in the Enjoyment of an holy God; Light and Darkness, Bitter and Sweet, or any other the most inconsistent Things in Nature, may agree as well as these two. First, It is utterly inconsistent with the Nature of God, to love impure Souls, continuing such ; and his Nature being unchangeable, he must for ever hate with a perfect Hatred, whatsoever is unalterably unholy and impure; and to suppose an Interruption
of his Hatred of incorrigible Sinners, is to imagine he can cease to be a pure and holy God. Secondly, They that are habitually and finally wicked, having flipt their Day of Grace, and loft the Time for Repentance, must needs be presumed to continue wicked and impenitent, while they have any Being or Sublistence in the future State, and consequently having an everlasting Aversion to God, can never be happy in the Enjoyment of him.
Thirdly, The Souls of wicked Men being immortal, they must have an eternal Duration, except God should be pleased to annihilate them; and this he has no where promised that he will dos neither is he any where obliged to it. He Has not promised that he will do it ; so far from it, that he has declared the quite contrary: For he has told us of that State of the Damned, that their Worm dieth not, and their Fire shall not be quenched; and their Punishments too are represented as various, that some shall suffer more, some less; It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment, than for Capernaum, Matth. xi. 21. and that some shall be beaten with many, and some with fewer Stripes, Luke xii. 47. And that some shall receive greater Damnation than others, Matth. xxiii. 14. All which is directly contrary to this Fancy of Annihilation; for if that were were true, then all should suffer equally : Because there are no Degrees of Annihilation or not being. And as God has no where promised this to the Wicked, he is no manner of Way obliged to do this for them: For as a * learned Man of our Church argues
* Dr. Whitby,