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Serm.IV. Fences and Mounds, which keep out the
Overflowings of Ungodliness? “ Our Desire, « and Love, and Hope, (says a great • Writer *) are not so apt to be wrought
upon by the Promises of Rewards and Fc Happiness ; as our Fear is from the Ap« prehension of the Divine Displeasure. « For, (as he observes) though we have 5 lost in a great Measure the Gust and « Relish of true Happiness; yet we still & retain a quick Sense of Pain and Misery."
Celsus, though a professed Enemy to Christianity, yet commends the Christians for maintaining that the Good Mould be happy hereafter ; but the Unrighteous doomed to Punishments ftri&tly eternal : From which Opinion, says he, neither let them, nor any other Mortal depart. t .But I proceed,
IIdly, To consider the Nature of future Punishments.
Some there are, who will not allow, that God immediately and directly, by a pohtive Act, confers
upon Virtue, or inflicts any Punishment upon
* Archbishop Tillotson, Vol. 1. Page 3d. + Celfus apud Origenem ; Pag. 409. Editio Cantab.
Vice, here or hereafter. All the Penalties Serm.IV. and Rewards they admit of are such, as naturally flow from our Actions. Thus they make Hell to be nothing but a Remorse of Conscience, an inseparable Attendant, as they think, on Wickedness. This is, in effect, to dethrone God as a Legiflator, to weaken the Interests of Virtue, and to make dangerous Concessions in Favour of Vice. For, if this Scheme were true ; then the greatest Sinners would have the least Punishment, perhaps none at all : For the greatest Sinners are hardened, past all Remorse, all Feeling, but that of Pain. Those, on the other hand, that have made the least Advances in Vice, would bear the greatest Punishment, as they would feel the most Remorse. Whereas God most abhors, and consequently will most severely punish, those, who are so far from having any Compunctions of Conscience, that they delight in Wickedness.
We have standing Proofs of the Deluge to this Day. The Exuvia of Sea Creatures, the numerous Beds of Shell-Fish, and other Spoils of the Ocean deposited on the highest Hills, found not only in Islands, but in Continents, where the Sea could never I 4
Serm.IV.come, but by a Miracle, are so many in
contestable Demonstrations and authentic
I know some have denied a local Hell.
into that, where the Devil and his Angels Serm.IV. are to be. And again, the Devils befought our Saviour, that he would not command them to go out into the Deep; or, as it is in the Original, into the Abyss. It appears then that the Bad go from this World, where there is only a Mixture of Evils, into a Scene of mere Misery, Horror, and Torment. If God, who delights to communicate Happiness to as many Beings as the Universe can conveniently bold, has, in Pursuance of this Scheme, filled every beautiful and agreeable Province in it with Creatures susceptive of Felicity in the Pursuit of Virtue and Perfection; the neceffary Consequence is, that those Creatures, who have disqualified themselves for Happiness, must be condemned to dismal and uncomfortable Mansions ; from which, probably, after the last Adjustment of Things, there will be no Outlet, nor Possibility of making an Inroad upon the Rest of the Creation. There will be a Congruity between the Nature of the Place, and that of the Inhabitants, which will settle them there ; and every one, like Yudas, must go to his own Place. It is idle to dispute, whether the Fire denounced against the unrelenting
SERM. IV. be métaphorical or real. Suppose it a Metaphor; yet those Metaphors, which
reprefent. Things of another World, do not generally exceed the Originals, or the Reality of the Things designed to be shadowed out
The Ingredients of future Punishment are partly positive, and partly the natural Consequences of bad Actions, viz. Appetites ever craving and clamorous, but ever unsatisfied ; Tribulation and Anguish upon every Soul that doth Evil: An eternal Banishment from the blessed Presence of God, and the Society of Angels, and just Men made perfect ; and a Confinement to the Company of malicious Spirits, an everlasting Torment to themselves, and ever tormenting all about them.
My God, my God, why haft thou forsaken me? Our Saviour cried out, when he felt only a momentary and partial Eclipse of the Light of the divine Countenance. But when a deep and genuine Despair saddens the Scene all around, without the least Beam of Light from any Point of Heaven ; then I was going to describe the Misery. But if Words can paint this Night-Piece of Horror, the Copy must be drawn by