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to lay out his chief care and labour of all his life, on that which is not, or to seek that which man was never made to attain : for then, 1. All his duty should result from mere deceit and falsehood, and God should govern all the world by a lie, which cannot be his part who wanteth neither power, wisdom, nor love, to rule them by truth and righteousness, and who hath printed his image both on his laws and on his servants; in which laws lying is condemned, and the better any man is, the more he hateth it; and liars are loathed by all mankind. 2. And then the better any man is, and the more he doth his duty, the more deluded, erroneous, and miserable should he be. For he should spend that care and labour of his life upon deceit, for that which he shall never have, and so should lose his time and labour : and he should deny his flesh those temporal pleasures which bad men take, and suffer persecutions and injuries from the wicked, and all for nothing, and on mistake: and the more wicked, or more unbelieving, any man is, the wiser and happier should he be, as being in the right, when he denieth the life to come, and all duty and labour in seeking it, or in avoiding future punishment; and while he taketh his utmost pleasure here, he hath all that man was made for. But all this is utterly unsuitable to God's perfection, and to his other works : for he maketh nothing in vain, nor can he lie, much less will he make holiness itself, and all that duty and work of life which reason itself obligeth all men, to be not only vain but hurtful to them. But of this argument I have been elsewhere larger.
Sect. 1. IV. Man differeth so much from brutes in the knowledge of God, and of his future possibilities, that it proveth that he differeth as much in his capacity and certain hopes, 1. As to the antecedent, man knoweth that there is a God by his works. He knoweth that this God is our absolute Lord, our ruler, and our end. He knoweth that, naturally, we owe him all our love and obedience. He knoweth that good men use not to let their most faithful servants be losers by their fidelity; nor do they use to set them to labour in vain. He knoweth that man's soul is immortal, or, at least, that it is far more probable that it is so; and therefore that it must accordingly be well or ill for ever, and that this should be most cared for. 2. And why should God give him all this knowledge more than to the brutes, if he were made for no more enjoyment than the brutes, of what he knoweth. Every wise man maketh his work fit for the use that he intendeth it to: and will not God? So that the consequence also is proved from the divine perfection; and if God were not perfect, he were not God. The denial of a God, therefore, is the result of the denial of man's future hopes,
Sect. 2. And, indeed, though it be but an analogical reason that brutes have, those men seem to be in the right who place the difference between man and brutes more in the objects, tendency, and work of our reason, than in our reason itself as such, and so make animal religiosum to be more of his description than animal rationale. About their own low concerns, a fox, ą dog, yea, an ass, and a goose, have such actions as we know not well how to ascribe to any thing below some kind of reasoning, or a perception of the same importance. But they think not of God, and his government, and laws, nor of obeying, trusting, or loving him, nor of the hopes or fears of auother life, nor of the joyful prospect of it. These are that work that man was made for, which is the chief difference from the brutes : and shall we unman ourselves ?
Seçt. 1. V. The justice of God, as governor of the world, inferreth different rewards hereafter, as I have largely elsewhere proved. 1. God is not only a mover of all that moveth, but a moral ruler of man by laws, and judgment, and executions, else there were no proper law of nature, which few are so unnatural as to deny; and man should have no proper duty, but only motion as he is moved. And then, how cometh a government by laws to be set up under God by men? And then there were wo sin or fault in any; for if there were no law and duty, but only necessitated motion, all would he moved as the mover pleased, and there could be no sin; and then there would be no moral good, but forced or necessary motion; But all this is most absurd; and experience telleth us that God doth de facto, morally govern the world; and his right is unquestionable.
Sect. 2. And if God were not the ruler of the world, by law and judgment, the world would have no universal laws, for there is no man that is the universal ruler : and then kings and other supreme powers would be utterly lawless and ungoverned, as having none above them to give them laws, and so they would be capable of no sin or fault, and of no punishment; which yet neither their subjects' interest, nor their own consciences will grant, or allow them thoroughly to believe,
Sect. 3. And if God be a ruler, he is just; or else he were not perfect, nor so good, as he requireth princes and judges on earth to be. An unjust ruler or judge is abominable to all man
kind. Righteousness is the great attribute of the universal King.
Sect. 4. But how were he a righteous ruler, 1. If he drew all men to obey him by deceit? 2. If he obliged them to seek and expect a felicity or reward which he will never give them? 3. If he make man's duty his misery? 4. If he require him to labour in vain? 5. If he suffer the wicked to prosecute his servants to the death, and make duty costly, and give no after recompense? 6. If he let the most wicked on the earth pass unpunished, or to escape as well hereafter as the best, and to live in greater pleasure here? The objections fetched from the intrinsical good of duty I have elsewhere answered.
Sect. l. VI. But God hath not left us to the light of mere nature, as being too dark for men so blind as we.
The gospel revelation is the clear foundation of our faith and hopes. Christ hath brought life and immortality to light. One from heaven that is greater than an angel was sent to tell us what is there, and which is the way to secure our hopes. He hath risen, and conquered death, and entered before as our captain and forerunner into the everlasting habitations. And he hath all power in heaven and earth, and all judgment is committed to him, that he might give eternal life to his elect. He hath frequently and expressly promised it them, that they shall live because he liveth, and shall not perish but have everlasting life. (Matt. xxviii. 18; John v. 22, xvii. 2, xii. 26, iii. 16; Rom. viii. 35– 38.) And how fully he hath proved and sealed the truth of his word and office to us, I have so largely opened in my Reasons of the Christian Religion,' and 'Unreasonableness of Infidelity,' and in my ‘Life of Faith,' &c.; and since, in my ‘Household Catechising,' that I will not here repeat it.
Sect. 2. And as all his word is full of promises of our future glory at the resurrection, so we are not without assurance that at death the departing soul doth enter upon a state of joy and blessedness. They that died to (or in) the flesh according to men, do live in the Spirit according to God.” (1 Pet. iv. 6.) For,
1. He expressly promised the penitent, crucified thief, “ This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke xxiii. 43.)
2. He gave us the narrative or parable of the damned sensualist, and of Lazarus, (Luke xvi.,) to instruct us, and not to deceive us.
3. He tells the Sadducees that God is not the God of the dead
(as his subjects and beneficiaries) but of the living. (Matt. xxii. 32.)
4. Enoch and Elias were taken up to heaven, and Moses that died, appeared with Elias on the mount. (Matt. xvii.) .
5. He telleth us, (Luke xii. 4,) that they that kill the body, are not able to kill the soul. Indeed, if the soul were not immortal, the resurrection were impossible. It might be a new creation of another soul, but not a resurrection of the same, if the same be annihilated. It is certain that the Jews believed the immortality of the soul, in that they believed the resurrection and future life of the same man.
6. And Christ's own soul was commended into his Father's hands, (Luke xxiii. 46,) and was in paradise, when his body was in the grave, to show us what shall become of ours.
7. And he hath promised, that where he is, there shall his servants be also. (John xii. 26.) And that the life here begun in us is eternal life, and that he that believeth in him shall not die, but shall live by him, as he liveth by the Father, for he dwelleth in God, and God in him, and in Christ, and Christ in him. (John xvii. 3, and vi. 54, and iii. 16, 36, and vi. 47, 50, 56, 57; 1 John iv. 12, 13; Luke xvii. 21; Rom. xiv. 17.)
8. And accordingly, Stephen that saw heaven opened, prayed the Lord Jesus to receive his Spirit. (Acts vii. 55, 59.)
9. And we are come to Mount Sion, &c., to an innumerable company of angels, and to the spirits of the just made perfect. (Heb. xii. 22, 23.)
10. And Paul here desireth to depart and be with Christ as far better. And to be absent from the body, and be present with the Lord. (2 Cor. v. 8.)
11. And the dead that die in the Lord are blessed, from henceforth, that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.
12. And if the disobedient spirits be in prison, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, (1 Pet. iii. 19; Jude 7, then the just have eternal life. And if the Jews had not thought the soul immortal, Saul had not desired the witch to call up Samuel to speak with him. The rest I now pass by. We have many great and precious promises on which a departed soul may trust.
13. And (Luke xvi. 9) Christ expressly saith, that when we fail, (that is, must leave this world,) we shall be received into the everlasting habitations.
Sect. 1. VII. And it is not nothing to encourage us to hope in him that hath made all these promises, when we find how he heareth prayers in this life, and thereby assureth his servants that he is their true and faithful Saviour. We are apt in our distress to cry loud for mercy and deliverances, and when human help faileth, to promise God, that if he now will save us, we will thankfully acknowledge it his work, and yet when we are delivered, to return not only to security, but to ingratitude, and think that our deliverance came but in the course of common providence, and not indeed as an answer to our prayers. And therefore God in mercy reneweth both our distresses and our deliverances, that what once or twice will not convince us of, many and great deliverances may. This is my own case, Oh, how oft have I cried him when men and means were nothing, and when no help in second causes did appear, and how oft, and suddenly, and mercifully hath be delivered me! What sudden ease, what removal of long afflictions have I had ! such extraordinary changes, and beyond my own and others' expectations, when many plain-hearted, upright Christians have, by fasting and prayer, sought God on my behalf, as have over and over convinced me of special providence, and that God is indeed a hearer of prayers. And wonders I have seen done for others also, upon such prayers, more than for myself, yea, and wonders for the church and public societies. Though I and others are too like those Israelites, (Psalm lxxviii.,) who cried to God in their troubles, and he oft delivered them out of their distress, but they quickly forgot his mercies, and their convictions, purposes, and promises, when they should have praised the Lord for his goodness, and declared his works with thanksgiving to the sons of men.
And what were all these answers and mercies but the fruits of Christ's power, fidelity, and love, the fulfillings of his promises, and the earnest of the greater blessings of immortality, which the same promises give me title to.
I know that no promise of hearing prayer setteth up our wills in absoluteness, or above God's, as if every will of ours must be fulfilled if we do but put it into a fervent or confident prayer; but if we ask any thing through Christ, according to his will, expressed in his promise, he will hear us. If a sinful love of this present life, or of ease, or wealth, or honour, should cause me to pray to God against death, or against all sickness, want, reproach, or other trials, as if I must live here in pros