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Serm. IV. ing Punishment; but the Righteous into Life

eternal.

Let us suppose, that Mankind were to live here for ever : Let us suppose, that some of them were become abandoned and incorrigibly bad: Would it be any unjusti, fiable Severity to confine Them for ever in Prison, that they might not seduce or ana noy the rest of the Creation ; or even to infict positive. Punishments upon them, in their Confinement, adequate to their OFfences, in order to deter others ? It is only therefore to suppose, that the Soul is in it's own Nature designed for an immortal Duration ; that those, who are consigned to everlasting Misery, are such as by a continued Course of Sinning have so disabled all the Powers of the Soul, that it is morally impossible for them, without the extraordinary Grace of God, to cease from Sinning: And then if it be no Injustice, as undoubtedly it is not, that every Sinner should be a Sufferer'; there can be no Injustice, that every habitual, eternal Sinner should be an eternal Sufferer.

This Consideration, I think, takes off the Force of the Objection, viz. That there is no Proportion between temporary Crimes,

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and eternal Punishments. But, since fome Serm.IV. have laid

great

Stress upon it, I shall consider it further.

ift, Let it be considered, that though the outward Acts of Sin be temporary; yet the Defilement and Habit contracted by a Repetition of these Acts is, if we die in a State of Impenitence, eternal. eternal ill Habits are the Source of eternal Torments; it will follow that the Impenitent have entailed

upon

themselves everlasting Misery. If, when Death has closed the Scene, there be no After-game to play ; if all Overtures of Grace then cease ; if Vice be stamped upon the Soul in indelible Characters; if be that is filthy, must be filthy still; then it is an undeniable Consequence, that be, who can never cease to be wicked, can never cease to be miserable. The veteran Sinner is steeled against all Impressions, and the Miser does not cease to love this world with all bis Soul, and with all bis Strength, even when he stands just upon the Verge of another. How often have we seen Men, that, however inconsistent in every thing else, have been very consistent in obeying one ruling, habitual Passion from first to last? Nay, we have H 2

surprising

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SERM.IV. surprising Instances upon Record, besides that

of a dying Miser; that even at the Clofe of
Life, the grand and important Crisis, that
is to determine a Man's Happiness or Mi-
sery ; even then this ruling Passion 'would
bear no Rival, no Competitor near the
Throne. Even then, like a domineering
Favourite, who has long maintained the
Ascendant, it would not, for fear of be-
ing supplanted, admit any thing to his
Death-bed, but what countenanced it's
Interests, and was subfervient 'to it's Or-
ders. What our Saviour fáid to St. Peter,
may be applied to an old habitual Sinner.
When thou wast young, thou girdedft thyself,
and went whither thou would/t ; but when
thou art old, another shall bind thee, and
carry thee whither thou wouldst not. His Sins
shall bind him, and carry him into Capti-
vity. He will be apt to think, if he thinks
at all to the Purpose; Why 'had I not the
fame Sentiments when young, as I have
now? Or why have I not now the same
vigorous Strength, which I had then, to
break

my

Bonds asunder? Some have fo much enfeebled the Powers of the Soul, that their Reafon, like the Light of the Sun, when the Face of Nature is over

spread

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Serm. IV.

spread with Fogs, is just strong enough to New and render visible the melancholy Scene, but not strong enough to overcome and disperse the Vapours.

Thus often in this World Habits feem to be incorporated into the Soul, and to be, as it were, Parts of our Selves: And if we carry, our Enquiries farther, with the Light of Revelation in our Hands, we shall discover, that they are for ever rooted in the Mind in the next World. St. Paul, in the xüith Chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, discourses upon Charity, not as an occasional Act, but as a ruling, standing Principle. If I give, says he, all my Goods. to feed the Poor, and have not Chacity, it profiteth me nothing : i. e. Though Į should practise fome occasional Acts of Charity, however great; yet unless it be a fettled Principle, it will be of no Avail. Well, what becomes of this habitual Chasity? Charity never faileth; but whether there be Prophecies, they all fail; whether there be Tongues, they shall cease ; whether there be Knowledge, it mall vanish away. That is, Prophecies, Languages, and but Ignorance in Comparison, ihall end

with

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SERM. IV. with this World : But the Habit of Chao

rity shall remain beyond this transitory Scene
of Things, and accompany the Mind into
Heaven, and there remain with it to all
Eternity ; as immortal as the Soul, and as
extensive as the Creation. Now if good
Habits shall follow their Poffeffors into an-
other World, and there abide with them;
then ill Habits will, by Parity of Reason,
do so too.

This appears farther from the Case of
those Angels, which kept not their first
Estate. Could any thing have reduced
those accursed Spirits to a State of Submis-
fion to their Maker; one would have
thought, that the Fruitlessness of their for-
mer Attempt, the severe Vengeance they
already felt, and the Dread of a much se-
verer that hung over them, if they persisted
in their Wickedness; and the Hopes of
mitigating their Doom, if they defifted ;
might at least have made them paffvely obe-
dient: But though they believe and tremble,
yet still they go on to act contrary to the
Conviction of their own Minds; still they go
about seeking whom they may devour ; still
they proceed in a State of Hoftility to their
Creator ; So stedfast is Malice, so uncon-

querable

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