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SERM. matter. But they fhall be these three only, as of special moment.


Question 1. What notion could men form of the future recompenfes of good and bad by the light of reason ?

I anfwer: It is highly probable, that their ideas would fall much short of those which revelation is able to afford. But, in general, men might refer themselves to the judgement of God, as equitable and impartial. They would, it is likely, fuppofe the virtuous to be feparated from the wicked: and whilst thefe are punished with a variety of torments, they would conceive the virtuous to be difposed of in fome delightful regions, and abodes, enjoying intellectual entertainments, or the pleasures of the mind: emproving themselves and one another in agreeable conversation, and contemplating the Deity, the all-perfect mind, and those works of his, with which they are acquainted, and continually advancing in the discoverie of truth, and the emprovement of virtuous habits.

Qu. 2. Does reafon afford any ground to fuppofe, that the future ftate of happineffe for good men will be eternal, or of perpetual duration.

I think,


I think, it does. For life, which is to SERM. come to an end, is not a reward for a rational being, who afpires to immortality. The period in view, though at the distance of many years, or ages, as we now compute time, would blaft every enjoyment, and reduce the happineffe of the most agreeable fituation to nothing, and render it mere vanity and emptineffe.

Moreover, we fuppofe, these beings, in a state of recompenfe, to be past a state of trial, and to be fo confirmed in virtue, and to be fo much out of the way of temptations, as to be in little or no danger of tranfgreffing any reasonable laws, and of thereby offending God. What reason then can be affigned, why they should be removed, or their condition be altered for the worse ?

Once more: thefe virtupus beings, once placed in a state of great advantage, will be continually emproving in knowledge and virtue. The temper of the mind, and their adorations, and all their fervices, will be more and more perfect and delightful: and alfo more acceptable to the Deity. Their love of God is continually growing more and more ardent, and their defire toward him Q2



SERM. more ftrong and vehement. How contrarie to reason is it to suppose, that these fo emproved beings fhould be at length destroyed or annihilated, with the approbation, and by the almighty power, of God!

As the learned writer before cited fays: "The longer virtuous men live in such a ftate, the fitter they must be for life and "therefore we may prefume, the less will "be the danger of extinction. Their facul"ties must grow, their capacities enlarge, "and all their emprovements encrease, through <c every part of duration. Great advances "must be ever made in knowledge, and virtue, and happineffe. They must be continually more and more capable of contem"plating, admiring and enjoying the author

"of all good, and the fountain of all perfec

❝tion. To imagine, after this progreffe,

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"and these exaltations of nature, that God
"fhould cut the thread of their existence,
"and put an end to their being, is to suppose
"him acting, fo far as we can judge, contra-
"rie to the reason of things, and the chief
"ends of the creation."

+ As before, p. 95.

Qu. 3.

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Qu. 3. Does reafon teach us to hope, that SERM. good men may pass directly into a state of happineffe after death? Or, does it not leave room to apprehend, that imperfectly good men must after this life undergo fome farther trial for their purification, before they enter upon a state of unmixed happineffe, free from all grief and pain?

Here, I apprehend reafon to be at a loffe. And that it must leave this point undecided. All that can be done is for men, in that cafe, to refign themselves to God, and refer themfelves to his equitable judgement and difpofal : hoping, and believing, (if they have here endeavored to approve themselves to him by an upright converfation) that he will not leave them utterly to perish: and that he will fome time, either immediatly after death, or after fome farther trials and purifications, admit and advance them to a condition of much comfort and joy.

I prefume, this may be a juft folution of this question. We may be confirmed in it by the confideration, that the doctrine of tranfmigrations has been very common among those who have had no other inftruction, than the light of nature.


4. I


4. I fhall now conclude with the four following reflections.

1.) We hence perceive, that we have great

reafon to be thankful to God for the revelation of the gospel of Jefus Chrift.

Wherein there is fo clear and affecting evidence of another life, fuited to the capacities of all men and also a juft and attractive representation of the glorie and happineffe of it. A future ftate, as afcertained, and described in the gofpel, affords the best fupports under the afflictions, and the best affistances against the temptations of this world.

2.) This discourse may confirm our faith in the gospel-revelation, and the affurances it gives of everlasting happineffe for them that walk uprightly, or that believe in Jefus Chrift, and obey his commandments.

Chriftians, who exercife their rational powers, and perceive the principles of revelation to be reasonable, cannot but be firmly established in the belief of them. They have the evidence of a twofold argument: reason, and divine authority. Though the reprefentation, which revelation gives of the future happineffe for good men, furpaffeth all that


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