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V. From which concession, which he thus openly makes, he would be understood (as I told you) to inser, though the inserence be not expressed, that there musti therefore, necessarily be another state, to make up the inequalities of this, and to salve all irregular appearances. For if God be intinitely holy and pure, and just and good; he must needs take delight in those of his creatures that resemble him most in these persections: lie cannot but love virtue, wbere-ever it fe, and reward ,it, and annex happiness always td the exercise of it. And yet this is so far from being the case, that the contrary often hrtpperij in this lise i where even the greatest saints are sometimes made the most remarkable instances ol? suffering. We may, therefore, surely conclude^ that there imist be a foture state, wherein theft rewards fliail be bestowed, and this love of God to good men made to appear, and the eternal and Inseparable connexion between virtue and happiness manisested, in the sight of angels and men< It cannot consist with the divine attributes, that the impious man's joys should, upon the wholes exceed those of the upright; or diat the beasts of the sield, which serve him not, and know him not, should yet enjoy a more entire and persect! happiness, than the lord of this lower creation, man himself, made in God's own image to acknowledge and adore him: and therefore! a§ certainly as God is, a time there will and must be, when all these unequal distributions of good and evil shall be set right, and the wisdom and reasonableness of all his transactions with all his" creatures be made as clear as the noon-day. Vol.. II. B And
And this, before that revelation had enlightened the world, was the very best argument for a future estate, which mankind had to rest upon. Their philosophical reasonings, drawn from the nature of the foul, and from the instincts and prefages of immortality implanted in it, were not sufficiently clear and conclusive. The only sure foundation of hope, which the wisest and most thoughtful men amongst the heathen pretended in this cafe to have, was, from the consideration suggested in the text: And from thence some of them reasoned without doubt and hesitancy; and lived and died in such a manner, as to shew, that they believed their own reasonings.
'It may suffice, thus far to have enlarged on that great argument of a future state, which is urged by St. Paul in the words before us: "If "in this life only we had hope, men would real"ly be more miserable than beasts; and the best "of men oftentimes the most miserable. But it "is impossible to imagine that a God of insinite "wisdom and goodness should distribute happi"ness and misery so unequally and absurdly: It "remains, therefore, that good men have a well'c grounded hope in another life; and are certain "of a suture recompence, as they are of the Being, and attributes of God."
III. The best use I can make of this comfortable truth, thus explained, is, To exhort you from thence to live like those who have their hope in another life; like men who look upon themselves as being upon their passage only thro' this present world, but as belonging properly to that which is to come. And thus we may be faid to live, if we observe the following plain rules and directions5 which are not the lels useful, because they are plain ones. Several of them will give a natural occasion to those who knew the deceased person, of anticipating his character in their thoughts: For he did really in good measure (and with due allowances made for human frailties) govern himself by them; and 1 may, for that reason, I hope, fx susfered to insist the more freely upon them.
Now, to live like those that have their hope in another liie, implies,
F*rftt That we indulge ourselves in the gratisications of this present life very sparingly; that w» kj:ep under our appetites, and do not let them loose into the enjoyments of fense: But so use the good things or this world, as not abusing them; so take delight in them, as to remember that we 'arc to part with them, and to exchange them for more excellent and durable enjoyments. Brethren (fays St. Peter J, 1 be/each you, as pilgrims, abstain from fleshly htfts: 2 Pet. ii. 11. They, who pass through a foreign country, towards their native home, do not usually give up themselves to an eager pursuit of the pleasures of the place i ought not to dwell long upon them, and with greediness; but make use of them only for their refreshment on the way, and so, as not to be diverted from pursuing their journey. _ A good Christian must partake os those grateful repasts of fense, which he meets with here below, in like manner as the Jews did of their pass-' over with their tains girded, their Jboes on their B 2 feet,
sett, and their fluff in their hand, eating.it in hafte\ Exod. xii. 11. that is, he must always be in a xx&* veiling posture, and so taste stDsual pleasures, as one that is about to leave them, anddesires to be stopped as little as he can by them, in his way towards the end of his hopes, the falvation os his soul. A nd to this custom of the Je ws St. Peter, }n his exhortation to sobriety, and temperance, may be; supposed to allut?^} Whet ef'.re (fays he) gird up the loins of your min'K ar*d be ye sober, t set. i. 13.
Indeed, it is impoffiMc for a rfan to have a lively hope in another life, and yet be deeply immersed in the enjoyments of this; uia/inuch as ill? happiness of our future state so far excels all that sj"! propose to ourselves at present, bisKh in degree and duration; that to one sirmly per-i'uaded of the reality of that happiness, and earnestly desirous of obtaining it, all earthly fatisfactions must needs look little, and grow flat and unfavoury: especially, when by experience he' finds, that top free a participation of these, in.* disposes him extremely for those; for all the duties that are necessary to be performed, and all the; good qualities that are necessary to be attained,. 3n order to arrive at them, He perceives plainly, that his appetite to spiritual things abates, in proportion as his sensual appetite is indulged and en- . itouraged; and that carnal desires kill not only, the desire, but even the power of tasting purer delights; and, on both these accounts, therefore, flies too deep a draught of all earthly enjoyments: jluyfug this hope in him, he purtfietb himself, even
§« He (i. e. even as the Author and Revcaler of
this hope) it pure, 1 John iii. 3. A.
Second instance, wherein we may be said to live like those who have their hope in another life, is, if we bear the uneasinesses that befal us here, with constancy and patience; as knowing that, tho* qjvr passage through this world should be rough and ;cpublesome, yet the trouble will be but short, and the,T£& and contentment we shall sind at the end, will be an ample recompence for all the' little inconveniences we meet with, in our way tp.>wards it. We mui^flot expect, that ourjourney, through the. several stages of this life should.be all smooth and even; or, thaf we should perform it: wholly withoutjdifasters, 111 accidents, and hindrances. While we live in this world, where ^good and. bad men are blended together, and; where there is also a mixture of good and evil wifely distributed by God, to serve the ends ofhis providence; we are not to wonder, if we are moJested by the one, as well as benesited by the other. ,xi3 our present lot and condition, to be subject to sttsh casualties; which, therefore, astheyought riot to iu'rprise, so much less should they deject us; nor can they> if we look forward, and entertain ourselves with the prospect os that happiness to which we are hastening; and at which when we arrive, even the remembrsuce of the disficulties, we now undergo, will contribute to enhance Qui pleasure.
Indeed, while we are in the flesh, we cannot be utterly. insensible of the asflictions that befal us: what is in itself harsh and ungrateful, must needs make harsh and ugrateful impreffians upon us.