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SERM. Writers, is by any Means inconsistent with
it. On the contrary I hope, in my next
But at present
LUKE XVI, 22, 23
was carried by the Angels intó Abraham's
Torments, and seeth Abraham afar off and
HAT Souls exift and live and act, whilft S'É RM.
feparate from the Body, contrary to the Principle of those who would lay them dead in Sleep, I sufficiently proved in my last Difcourse ; and I may now suppose you inquisitive to know what State or Condition they are to be in during their Separation? A Question by the way not so easily answered as proposed. Some general Hints the Scriptures afford : But as to any particular Description they are silent and mute. Whatever therefore we VOL, II.
SERM. have to say on this Head, we must keep in
generals ; and not descend to more particulars than God himself has been pleased to reveal. Our Searches therefore into things of this Nature must be within decent and
proFor to dive further than Revelation is with us, is not a Proof of Wisdom and Learning, but a sign of too bold and licentious a Fancy. I Where God thinks fit to make no Discovery, it is more becoming to be humble than inquisitive : And therefore to apply these Reflections to the particular Inquiry now before us; should any of you ask, to what Region or Part of the Universe our Souls shall fly, when they take their Wing and fly from hence, or what they shall do or how they shall spend their Time till they come for their bodies again? And whether the Soul, when out of the Body, will perceive, by the Help of some new, and more subtile Instruments and Organs fitted to the Condition it Thall then be in; or whether it will live and act without any Organs at all; to these Questions, I shall not think I betray any Ignorance, if I answer in the Words of the great St. Paul, I cannot tell, God knoweth, 1 Cor. xii. 2. For we can no more conceive how we shall live when we are got out
of this World; than a Child in the Womb SERM.
G g 2
SERM. cerned, is more satisfactory, and therefore XX.
more eligible, than to know nothing of it, at all. And therefore I say, so far as Divine Revelation opens this Prospect to us, and admits our View; so far we may look with Modesty, provided we also speak with Modesty of what we discover. And we may very modestly say that the Scriptures discover so much with relation to this State, as will neither leave us wholly ignorant, nor supply us with a Knowledge useless and vain. For we may learn as much of it as we need desire, before we get thither : And what we learn, if well improved, will help to conduct us thither safe. The particular Passage I have taken for my Text is very applicable to both these Ends: It affording us as much Insight into the separate State, as any Text in the Bible besides; and containing as strong Motives to provide for that State, as the different Condition which good and bad are allotted to in it, can possibly suggest. Notwithstanding therefore the whole Passage may be a Parable, and several Particulars in it must be parabolically understood; as the Dialogue that pafsed between the Rich Man and Abraham, the Rich Man's being tormented in actual Flames, and in Flames of such Nature as