網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

9 5. It is therefore necessary, that all nations should be ga. thered together before the judgment-seat of the supreme Lawgiver and Judge, that he may determine between them, and settle all things by his wise, righteous, and infallible decision. And many of the good and evil acts that are done, though the world is not properly concerned in them as a party interested, yet are public through the world. They are done in the sight of the world, and greatly draw the attention of mankind. It is fit, therefore, that they should be as publicly judged. And, it is to be observed, that the longer the world stands, the more and more communication have the different parts of it together. So that, at the end of the world, there probably will be the highest reason, in this respect, that all nations that shall then be found upon the earth, should be called together before the judgment-seat of God.

§ 6. As it is requisite, that all who dwell on the face of the earth at the same time, should appear together before the judgment-seat; so it is also requisite, that all generations that have succeeded one another, appear together. Many of the moral acts, both good and bad, not only are public in this respect, that they are known over great part of the face of the earth, in or near the time of them but also they are made public to all the following generations, by tradition and history. And if the actions of one generation be not visible to all, yet the actions of one generation are very visible to the generation immediately following, and theirs to the next; and so all, in this sense, are very visible one to another. And as all nations of the world are morally concerned one with another, though not so as each one immediately concerned with every other nation; yet all are mutually concerned by concatenation.-One nation is concerned with the next, and that with the next, and so on : so that there is need that all such should appear together to be judged.

§ 7. All generations of men from the beginning to the end of the world, are morally concerned one with another. The first generation is concerned with the next, and that with the next, and so on to the end of the world. Therefore it is requisite, that all should appear together to be judged. Parents may injure their children, and children may injure their parents ; and so they are two parties in one cause, which must be decided by the supreme Judge. Therefore, it is needful, that they, as parties, should appear together, when their cause is judged. parents and children, or a younger generation and an older, may be accessary to each other's crimes, or united in each other's virtuous deeds; and therefore it is requisite that they should be judged together. Yea, the present generation may become accessary to an injury committed by their ancestors ages ago. For, in many things they stand in the stead of those ancestors, and act for them and have power to continue the injury, or to remove it.

$ 8. Posterity is concerned in the actions of their ancestors or predecessors, in families, nations, and most communities of men, as standing in some respect in their stead. And some particular persons may injure, not only a great part of the world contemporary with them, but may injure and undo all future generations of many individuals, families, or larger communities. So that men who live now, may have an action against those who lived a thousand years ago : or there may be a cause which needs to be decided by the Judge of the world, between some of the present generation, and some who lived a thousand years ago. Princes who, by rapine and cruelty, ruin nations, are answerable for the poverty, slavery, and misery of the posterity of those nations. So, as to those who broach and established opinions and principles, which tend to the overthrow of virtue, and propagation of vice, and are contrary to the common rights and privileges of mankind. Thus, Mahomet nas injured all succeeding posterity, and is answerable, at least in a degree, for the ruin of the virtue of his followers in many respects, and for the rapine, violence, and terrible devastations which his followers have been guilty of toward the nations of the world, and to which they have been instigated by the principles which he taught them. And, whoever they were, who first drew away men from the true religion, and introduced and established idolatry, they have injured all nations that have to this day partaken of the infection.

$ 9. In like manner, persons, by their virtue, may be great benefactors to mankind, through all succeeding generations. Without doubt, the apostle Paul, and others who assisted him, and following generations, may properly become the subjects of a judicial proceeding, with respect to that great religious change and revolution in the nations subject to the Roman empire, in abolishing Heathenish idolatry, and setting up Christianity in the room of it.

§ 10. The end of the divine judgment is the manifestation of the divine justice; and how fit is it, that the justice of the universal and supreme Head and Judge of all mankind, in governing his kingdom, should be most publicly manifested, and exhibited to his whole kingdom! This doctrine of the day of judgment, exceedingly becomes the universal moral Head of the world, who rules through all generations.

$ 11. If there shall ever come a time, wherein the Lawgiver and Judge of the world will publicly regulate the moral state of all generations, the end of the world, when there shall be a final period to all farther probation, seems to be a proper time for it. If ever, by divine wisdom and righteousness, there be

brought about a righteous, holy, and glorious issue of the confused state of the world, it will be, when this world shall have come to an end. As the proper time for judging a particular person, is, when the probationary state of that person is at an end ; so the proper time for the public judgment of the world, is, when the probationary world comes to an end.

§ 12. There is all reason to think, that the wicked will hereafter be punished together, having a place of punishment assigned for them, where they shall suffer divine vengeance in sight of one another : and that the righteous will also be rewarded together. If so, it is most requisite that their judgment should be together; that they may understand the ground and reason of that punishment, and of that reward, which they shall see in each other.

§ 13. It is most agreeable to reason, that there is a future state of rewards and punishments, wherein God will reward and make happy good men, and make wicked men miserable. And if there be a future state of happiness to God's favourites, it is rational to suppose, that this should be ETERNAL : because, otherwise, God's greatest favourites, to whom he gives the greatest rewards in another world, would, in one respect, have most to torment them ; to wit, the dreadful and eternal end of that sweet happiness. The sweeter and more happy life is, the more terrible are death and the thoughts and expectations of it. It is not likely that God would add such a sting to the sweetest enjoyments and rewards of his greatest favourites. It is rational, therefore, to suppose, that the life he gives them after death, is life eternal; life that is not to come to an end by another worse death, consisting not only in the destruction of the body, but the abolition of the soul. God has not made men like the brutes, who cannot contemplate futurity, and therefore, have no allay to present enjoyment by the prospect of an end by death. And if it be so, that there be an eternal state of happiness in another world, set before us to be sought after : then how.ra. tional are the Christian doctrines and precepts, of placing our affections on heavenly objects ; of weanedness from the world ; of behaving as pilgrims and strangers on the earth; of not laying up treasures on the carth, but in heaven; of selling all for the kingilom of heaven ; of not looking at the things which are seen, which are temporal, but at the things which are not seen, which are eternal! Hence, also, the reasonableness of the Christian precepts of patience under sufferings, seeing these afflictions are but for a moment, in comparison with the duration of the future weight of glory.

$ 14. The doctrine of the gospel concerning an INVISIBLE World, to which good men are to be transferred, and where they are to have their inheritance and fixed abode, is

most rational on this account, that this visible world is corruptible in its own nature. Such is the nature and constitution of it, that it must come to an end. . And it is unreasonable to suppose, that the Creator would leave it gradually to perish, languishing in a decayed, broken, miserable state, through thousands of ages, gradually growing more and more wretched, before it is quite destroyed. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose,

that there will be a time wherein its Creator will immediately interpose, to put the world to an end, and destroy it suddenly. And, at that time, all the living inhabitants of the world, that are not taken from it and translated to some other abode, must perish, and be destroyed in a very awful manner, by the immediate hand of God, with most inexpressible mani. festations of his mighty power and great majesty. And who can believe, that at that time, when God in this manner immediately interposes, he will make no distinction between the virtuous, and his enemies? That this awful destruction and wrath shall come upon all alike? There will be no necessity of it from the course of nature. For, at that time, by the supposition, God will put an end to the course of nature. God will immediately and miraculously interpose. The whole affair shall be miraculous, and by God's immediate hand; and, therefore, a miraculous deliverance of the good, will not be at all beside God's manner of operation at this time. He can as easily, and without departing any more from the stated course of things, miraculously deliver the virtuous, as he can miraculously destroy the wicked.

§ 15. Therefore, we may well suppose, that at that time, when God is about to put an end to the frame of this visible universe, the virtuous will be translated into some other world, beyond the limits of the visible one. And if God deigns thus to deal with all the good that shall be found alive on the earth at that time, how rational is it to suppose, that he deals in like manner with the good in all generations ? That they all are translated into that distant, invisible world? Without doubt, the world into which God will receive his favourites, when this corruptible world shall perish, shall be incorruptible. He will not translate them from one corruptible world to another. He will not save them from one world that is to perish, to carry them to another world that is to perish. Therefore, they shall be immortal, and have eternal life; and, doubtless, that world will be unspeakably better than this, and free from all that destruction, that fleeting, fading, perishing, empty nature, that attends all the things of this world ; and their bodies shall be immortal, and as secure from perishing, as the world is, to which they are translated.

§ 16. This makes it most reasonable to suppose, that good men, in all ages, are translated to that world." For why should so vast a difference be made, between the virtuous that shall be of the last generation, and the virtuous of all preceding generations ? Seeing there is a far distant and invisible world provided for some of the virtuous inhabitants of this world, it is reasonable to suppose, that all the good shall have their habitation and inheritance together there, as one society, partaking of the same reward; as they were of the same race of mankind, and loved and served God, and followed him in the same state here below, in the performance of the same duties, the same work, and under like trials and difficulties.

§ 17. It is also, hence, rational to suppose, that there should be a RESURRECTION of the bodies of the saints of all past generations. For, from what has been observed before, the bodies of the saints of the last generation, will be preserved from perishing with the world, and will be translated. And, doubtless, if all

the good of all generations, are to have a like reward, and are to dwell together in the same world, in one society, they shall be in a like state, partaking of a like reward.

§ 18. The reasonableness of the doctrine of the resurrection, will appear, if we suppose, that union with a body is the most rational state of perfection of the human soul; which may be argued from the consideration, that this was the condition in which the human soul was created at first, and that its separation from the body is no improvement of its condition, being an alteration brought on by sin, and was inflicted under the notion of evil, and expressly as punishment, upon the forfeiture of a privilege. From whence we must conclude, that the former state of union to the body, was a better state than the disunion which was threatened. Sin introduced that death that consists in the separation of body and soul. The state of innocency was embodied : the state of guilt was disembodied. * Therefore, as Christ came to restore from all the calamities which came from sin, it is most reasonable to suppose, that he will restore the union of soul and body.

CHAPTER V.

The Miracles of Jesus not counterfeited by his enemies, and

superior to those under the Old Testament.

§ 1. It adds to the evidence which is given to the truth of Christianity, by the multitude of miracles wrought by Christ his apostles and followers in the first century, that there were no pretences of inspiration, or miracles, among the Jews (at least none worth notice) in Judea, or any other part of the

* Winder's History of Knowledge, p. 59, 60.

« 上一頁繼續 »