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prosperity ; had he never been happy, his misery would be the less.
Therefore we should be so far from applauding ourselves in the prosperity of this world, that we should rather be afraid of receiving our good things here ; left God should put us off with these things, and this should be all our portion, and left our mifery in the next world should be the greater
for our having been happy:
The felicities of this world are transient, and though our happiness were never so compleat, yet it is going off, and passing away; and when it is gone and past, if misery succeed it, it had better never have been. Remember, thou in thy life-time receivedf thy good things ; these things are only for our life-time, and how short is that ! Did men seriously consider this, they would not set such a price upon any of the transient enjoyments of this life, as for the sake of them to neglect the great concernments of another world. We are apt to be dazzled with the present glittering of worldly glory and prosperity : But if we would look upon these things as they will be shortly.gone from us, how little would they signify! The rich man here in the parable, did, no doubt, think himself a much happier man than poor Lazarus that lay at his door; and yet after a little while, how glad would he have been to have changed conditions with this poor man! When he was in torments, then no doubt he wished that he had suf. fered all the misery, and want in this world, which Lazarus did, provided he might have been comforted as he was, and carried by Angels into Abraham's beSom. We should value this world, and look upon it, as this rich man did, not when he enjoyed it, but when he was taken from it ; and we should esteem it, and use it while we may, as he wished he had done when it was too late.
3. We Nould not be excessively troubled if we meet with hardship and affliction here in this world's because those whom God designs for the greatest happiness hereafter, may receive evil things here. Thus our blessed Saviour, the captain of our salvation, was
made perfect through sufferings: This was the method which ‘God used towards his own Son, first be suffered, and then entered into glory. He suffered more than any of us can bear ; and he supported himfelf under all his sufferings by the consideration of the glory that would follow ; for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, and despised the mame.
The same consideration should arm us with patience and constancy under the greatest evils of this life. The evils that we ly under are passing and going off ; but the happiness is to come. And if the happiness of the next world were no greater, nor of longer continuance, than the miseries of this world ; or if they did equally answer one another ; yet a wise man would choose to have misery first, and his happiness last. . For if his happiness were first, all the pleasure and comfort of it would be eaten out by dismal apprehensions of what was to follow : but his sufferings, if they were first, would be sweetened by the consideration of his future happiness, and the bitterness of his sufferings would give a quicker relish to' his happiness when it should come, and make it greater.
But a good man under the sufferings of this life, hath not only this comfort, that his happiness is to come, but likewise that it shall be infinitely greater than his sufferings ; that these are but short, but that shall never have an end. And this was that which fortified the first Christians against all that the malice and cruelty of the world could do against them. They thought themselves well paid, if through many tribulations they might at last enter into the kingdom of God because they believed that the joys of the next life would abundantly recompense all their labours and sufferings in this world. They expected a mighty reward, far beyond all their sufferings ; they were firmly persuaded that they should be vast gainers at the last So the Apostle tells us of himself, Rom, viii. 18. I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. And to the same purpose, 2 Cor.
iv. 17, 18. Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work for us an eternal weight of glory, whilft we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. If we would consider all things together, and fix our eyes as much upon the happiness and glory of the next world, as upon
and splendor of this ; if we would look as much at the things which are not seen, as the things which are seen, we should easily perceive, that he who suffers in this world does not renounce his happiness, only puts it out to interest, upon terms of the greatest advantage.
4. We should do all things with a regard to our future and eternal state. It matters not much what our condition is in this world, because that is to continue but for a little while : but we ought to have a great and serious regard to that state that never shall have an end. Therefore whenever we are do. ing any thing, we should consider what influence such an action will have upon the happiness or misery of the next life. We should measure every action and every condition of our lives by the reference of them to eternity. To be rich and great in this world will contribute nothing to our fyture happiness; all these things which we lo much dote upon, and pursue with so much eagerness, will not commend any man to God ; they will signify nothing when we come to appear before our Judge. Death will strip us of these things, and in the other world, the soul of the pooreft man that ever lived shall be upon equal terms with the richest. Nothing but holiness and virtue will then avail us; and it is but a little while and we shall all certainly be of this mind, that the best thing men can do in this world, is to provide for the other. I proceed to a
Fifth observation, that the state of men in the next world is fixed and unchangeable; which I ground upon verse 26. Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that they that would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. By which words our Saviour seems not only to intend, that they that are in heaven and hell can have no communication and intercourse with one another ; but likewise that they are lodged in an immutable ftate. Those that are happy are like to continue so ; and those that are miserable are im.' mutably fixed in that state.
1. As to those that are in happiness there can be no great doubt. For what can tempt men that have so narrowly escaped the dangers and temptations of a wicked world, and are possessed of so great a happiness by the free grace and mercy of God, to do any thing whereby they may forfeit their happiness; or so much as to entertain a thought of offending that God, to whom they cannot but be sensible how infinitely they are obliged ? In this imperfect state few men have so little goodness as toʻsin without temptation, but in that state where men are perfectly good, and can have no temptation to be otherwise, it is not imaginable that they should fall from that state.
2. As to the state of the damned, that that likewise is immutable the scripture does seem plainly enough to affert, when it calls it an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and uses such expressions to fet forth the continuance of their mi. sery, as fignify the longest and most interminable duration, expressions of as great an extent as those which are used to signify the eternal happiness of the blessed ; and as large and unlimited, as any are to be had in those languages wherein the scriptures are written.
Besides that wicked men in the other world are in scripture represented as in the same condition with the devils, of whom there is no ground to believe that any of them ever did or will repent. Not because repentance is impossible in its own 'nature to those that are in extreme misery'; but because there is no place left for it. Being under an irreversible doom, there is no encouragement to repentance, no hope of mercy and pardon, without which repentance is impossible. For if a man did utterly despair
of pardon, and were affured upon good ground, that God would never shew metcy to him, in this case a man would grow desperate, and not care what he did. He that knows that whatever he does, he is miserable and undone, will not matter how he demeans himself. All motives to repentance are gone after a man once knows it will be to no purpose. And this the scripture seems to represent to us, as the case of the devils and damned spirits. Because their state is finally determined, and they are concluded under an irreversible sentence, therefore repentance is impos. fible to them.
Sorry, no doubt, they are, and heartily troubled that by their own sin and folly they have brought this misery upon themselves, and they cannot but conceive an everlasting displeasure against themselves, for having been the cause and authors of their own ruin; and the reflexion of this will be a perpetual spring of discontent, and fill their minds with eternal
and vexation ; and so long as they feel the 'intolerable punishments of sin, and groan under the insupportable torments of it, and see no end of this miserable state, no hope of getting out of it, they can be no otherwise affected, than with difcontent to themselves, and rage and fury against God.
They are indeed penitent so far, as to be troubled at themselves for what they have done but this trouble works no change and alteration in them
5 they still hate God who inflicts these punishments upon them, and who they believe is determined to continue them in this miserable ftate. The present anguish of their condition, and the despair of bettering it, makes them mad ; and their minds are so distracted by the wildness of their passions, and their spirits so exasperated and set on fire by their own giddy motions, that there can be no rest and silence in their souls, not so much as the liberty of one calm and fedate thought.
Or if at any time they reflect upon the evil of their fins, and should entertain any thoughts of returning to God and their duty, they are presently Vol. VI.