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XIX.

SERM. Writers, is by any Means inconsistent with

it. On the contrary I hope, in my next
Discourse, to shew that the Saints, notwith-
standing they are detained from the Place
which Christ is preparing for them, may yet
have reviving Visions of him, and possibly
frequent Visits from him.

But at present
let me observe further, that the Texts I have
explained were always understood by the most
ancient Fathers and Doctors of the Church,
in the fame Sense I have here represented.
Those Primitive Writers, the most early of
them especially, who, one would imagine,
should best understand the Apostles's Writings,
as living in their Times, or soon afterwards,
are unanimous in their Sentiments in the Point
before us.

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LUKE XVI, 22, 23
And it came to pass that the Beggar died, and

was carried by the Angels intó Abraham's
Bofom : The Rich Man also died and was

buried.
And in Hell he left up his Eyes, being in

Torments, and seeth Abraham afar off and
Lazarus in his Bofom.

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.

have

XX.

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XX.

per Bounds.

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

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XX.

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of this World; than a Child in the Womb SERM.
(even though we should suppose it to have a
Capacity of Understanding) could conceive or
imagine what kind of Life or World that is,
into which it must be born.

The succeeding
State is, very probably, as different in one Cafe,
as it is in the other : And we can no more
judge what our Condition shall be hereafter,
from what our Condition is at present, than,
though we had been capable of Understand-
ing in the Womb, we could whilst there,
have judged what our Condition is here. The
definite Place and Manner therefore in which
we are to live and be hereafter; are things
we are not to pry into now, but such as we
should think it time enough to know, when
:we are called to them. However in the
mean while, it may not only be lawful but
-commendable too, to look into a State, in
which we know we must foon be, as far
as the Prospect is opened to us. And indeed
it would betray not only an incurious, but an
indolent. Temper, to remain more ignorant
of a State so important, than it is necessary
we should be. For though all the Know-
ledge of it we can possibly acquire, will be
imperfect at last; yet to know something of a
Scene in which we are so very nearly con-

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cerned,

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

that

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