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Serm. IV. ing Punishment; but the Righteous into Life
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,
and eternal Punishments. But, since fome Serm.IV. have laid
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
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
SERM.IV. surprising Instances upon Record, besides that
of a dying Miser; that even at the Clofe of
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 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
SERM. IV. with this World : But the Habit of Chao
rity shall remain beyond this transitory Scene
This appears farther from the Case of