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I. Upon the first of these Heads, which is concerning the Certainty of Death, you have no Need that I should explain to you what I mean by Death, Ye all of you know, , as well as I can tell you, that it is a Separation of Soul and Body; of which the natural Consequence is this, That whilst the Body is laid to molder in the Earth, and to turn to Duft from whence it was formed,
the Soul returns (as the Wiseman speaks) to · God who gave it, Ecclefi xü. 7. i.e. It lives
no more in the present World, but enters upon a new and unknown State prepared for it by God, till it shall be again united to it's old Companion at the Resurrection of the Dead, when both together must appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ, there to be juftified or else condemned, and in Consequence of either one or the other, then to be received into everlasting Bliss, or sent away into eternal Misery. This is a Description of the State of Death, even till Death shall be no more. But I don't propose to consider it in so large a Sense as I have here explained it: But only to say what is requisite in relation to Death as it implies a Separation of Soul and Body, or a ceasing to live in the World
we are in : Which the Method I proposed SER M. leads me in the first place to shew to be the common Fate of Men. It is appointed unto Men, faith the Text, once to die. The Word in the Original is very significant and expressive : 'Atóxilar: It remains, it is reserved, and as it were laid up for them : It is a general Law from which none can be exempted, except those that shall be found alive at Christ's second Coming. They indeed, St. Paul tells us, shall not die : The Time will not allow either that the Body shall corrupt, or that the Soul shall leave it: They will be summoned in an Instant to appear before their Judge, who will not then defer his folemn Proceedings, till the Quick Thall have Time to pass through the ordinary Forms of Mortality. However even these the Apostle assures us, must undergo a very great sudden Change, which shall be equal to Death, and instantaneously put them into the same State and Condition with those that have been dead and then rise again. For bebold, (faith he) I few you a Mystery, we fall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a Moment, in the Twinkling of an Eye, at the last Trump, (for the Trumpet fall found) and the Dead shall be raised incorruptible, and
we, i.e. the Living, shall be changed, 1 Cor. XV. 51, 52.
The History of the Old Testament indeed informs us of two that were never yet subject to the Laws of Mortality, viz. Enoch and Elijah: the former of which was taken by God, or, as the Apostle explains it, by Faith was translated that he should not see Death, Gen. v. 24. Heb. xi. 5. and the other also went up alive by a Whirlwind into Heaven, 2 Kings ii. 11. But now what, if even these are still to submit to the general Fate of all Mankind ? What, if they are only removed for a Time, and so reserved to a further Ministration, when they shall again appear in this lower World, and die at last like all Mankind ? I assure you this is what many of the most ancient Fathers believed, who interpret that Passage in the 11th Chapter of the Revelation of St. John, ver. 3, &c. concerning the two Witnesses that shall bear their Testimony against Antichrist, but who at last shall be overcome and killed by him, of those two Prophets we are now speaking of, Enoch and Elias. And indeed this Notion has so much Shew of Scripture on it's Side, that it should not too rashly be pronounced * a Fable. Part of the Character
See Mede p. 99.
by which these Witnesses are described is, SERM. that they have power to destroy their Enemies by Fire, and to shut Heaven that it rain not in the Days of their Prophecy, Rev. xi. 52 which exactly agrees with the Character of Elijah, who shut up the Heavens from raining in the Days of Ahab, three Years and fix Months, 1 Kings xvii. 1. compared with Luke iv. 25. and James v. 17. (the very Period of Time which these Witnesses are to prophesy ;) and twice brought down Fire to destroy the Captains and their Fifties whom Abaziah King of Israel sent to apprehend him, 2 Kings i. 10, 12.
And further that Elijab is to uíher in our Saviour's Coming to Judgment is what the Holy Scriptures seem plainly to affert ; particularly that famous Prophecy in Malachi, with which the whole Old Testament concludes; where speaking of that Day which shall burn like an Oven, and wherein all that do wickedly hall be burnt like Stubble ; . God promises to send Elijah the Prophet, (or, as the Septuagint reads it, Elijah the Tishbite) before the Coming of that great and dreadful Day of the Lord, Mal. iv. I, 5. Now if the Day here described be not interpreted of the Day of Judgment; there is hardly any. Description of that Day in the
SE R M. Old Testament but what may be evaded.
But if it be; it is plain that the second Coming of our Lord is here intended, and consequently that Elijah the Prophet, or Elijah the Tisbite is to make his Appearance before him.
If it be objected to what I advance that our Saviour exprefly affirms that Elias is come already, Matt. xvii. 12. and plainly points out that John the Baptist was He ; it may be answered, that what our Saviour says of John the Baptift, may mean no more than what the Angel Gabriel told his Father Zacharias ; viz. that he should go before the Lord in the Spirit and Power of Elias, Luke
However that Elias should also come before the second Appearance of our Saviour, may be inferred from our Saviour's own Words just before. He said unto them, Elias truly SHALL first come and restore all Things, Matt. xvii. 11. Which Words being seemingly spoken of a future Coming, and not of one that was past, can't be certainly applied to John the Baptist
, who was both already come, and, when our Saviour spake, dead and gone.
Nor does the Re: storing of all Things, which our Saviour attributes to the Ministry of Elijah, seem to be