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trine of a future life; a voice once so strongly and convincingly uttered, that it went through all the earth, and to the end of the world; and there is no speech nor language, no people or nation, where the same voice is not still heard ; to allude to the words of the Psalmist, Psalm xix. 3, 4. This were suffi
, cient to arm us against the cavils of those few selfopiniated men, that in every age (especially in this of ours) have made it their business to molest and disturb the common faith of the world. But when we have the consent of nations confirmed by a new divine revelation, a revelation proved to be such by the most undeniable arguments, what madness were it to doubt! Let us not therefore give any ear to the voice of the Epicurean, Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die; that is, Let us live like beasts, because we are to die as such, 1 Cor. xv. 32; but rather let us resolve to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; because though as to our bodies we may die to-morrow, and must die shortly, yet our souls are certainly to live and subsist after death, in order to a future doom of happiness or misery. Let us hearken to the wisest of men, Solomon; who having asserted the soul's immortality, Eccles. xii. 7. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it; presently after, ver. 13, 14. concludes, and his conclusion shall be mine, in these words :
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : Fear God, and keep his commandments : for this is the whole of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
In the day of which dreadful judgment God shew mercy to us all, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
To whom with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, be given all honour and glory, adoration and worship, now and for evermore. Amen.
CONCERNING THE MIDDLE STATE OF HAPPINESS OR MISERY,
ALLOTTED BY GOD TO EVERY MAN PRESENTLY AFTER DEATH, ACCORDING AS HE HAS BEEN GOOD OR BAD IN HIS PAST LIFE, INCONSISTENT WITH THE POPISH DOCTRINE OF PURGATORY.
Acts i. 25. That he might go to his own place. IN my former discourse on this text, having ga
, thered two propositions from it, I fully despatched the first of them, concerning the subsistence and permanence of man's soul after the death of his body. I am now to proceed (with God's assistance) to the other proposition or observation, which was this.
Observ. 2. The soul of every man presently after death hath its proper place and state allotted by God, either of happiness or misery, according as the man hath been good or bad in his past life.
For the text tells us, that the soul of Judas, immediately after his death, had not only a place to be in, but also tÒN TÓTOV Tòn rồlov, his own proper place, a place fit for so horrid a betrayer of his most gracious Lord and Master. And I have shewn you, that the apostolic writers were wont to express the different place and state of good and bad men presently after death by this and the like phrases, that they went to their own proper, due, or appointed
places; that is, to places agreeable to their respective qualities, the good to a place of happiness, the wicked to a place and state of misery. If there were one common receptacle for all departed souls, good and bad, (as some have imagined,) Judas could not be said presently after death to go to his own proper place, nor Peter to his; but the same place would contain them both: but Judas hath his proper place, and Peter his. And here what avails the difference of place, unless we allow also a difference of state and condition ? If the joys of paradise were in hell, hell would be paradise : and if the torments of hell were in paradise, paradise would be hell: Judas therefore is in misery, and Peter in happiness. And what happiness or misery can be there, where there is no sense of either? If presently after death, one common gulph of insensibility and oblivion swallowed up the souls of good and bad alike, the state of Judas and Peter would be the same. The result of all which is manifestly this, that the souls of men do not only subsist and remain after the death of their bodies, but also live and are sensible of pain or pleasure in that separate state; the wicked being tormented at present with a piercing remorse of conscience, (that sleepy lion being now fully awakened,) and expecting a far more dreadful vengeance yet to fall on them; and on the other side, the good being refreshed with the peace of a good conscience, (now immutably settled,) and with unspeakable comforts of God, and yet joyfully waiting for a greater happiness at the resurrection. And to prove this more fully will be my business at this time. Indeed I have been constrained occasionally to intermix some
what of this argument in my former discourse on this text: but it is a subject worthy of a distinct and more copious handling.
There are some who grant, that the soul of man is a distinct substance from his body, and doth subsist after the death thereof; but yet they dream, that the soul in the state of separation, is as it were in a sleep, a lethargy, a state of insensibility, having no perception at all, either of joy or sorrow, happiness or misery. An odd opinion, which seems altogether inconsistent with itself. For how can the soul subsist and remain a soul, without sense and perception ? For, as Tertullian somewhere truly saith, vita anime est sensus, “ the life of the soul “ is perception.” Wherefore, to say an insensible soul, seems a contradiction in terms.
It is true, whilst our souls are confined to these bodies, they can have no distinct perception of things without the help of fancy and those corporeal ideas, and, as it were, images of things impressed on it, which being seated in the body, must necessarily die and perish with it. But yet even now we find, that the soul being first helped by imagination, may at length arrive to a perception of some most certain conclusions, which are beyond the reach of imagination. We may understand more than we can imagine ; that is, we may by reason certainly collect, that there are some things really existing, whereof we can frame no idea or phantasm in our imaginations, Thus, I am most certain, that there is a Being eternal, that hath no beginning of existence, though I can never be able to imagine a thing, without attributing some beginning of existence to it. A phantasm of eternity I can never have; but that