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else they do not reckon the Happiness of the next World, to be so incomparably above all, that they are flattered with in This: Which Error the Second Head may help to correct. For this would rectify Menu Notions, and shew, that to see God as he is, and to be like him, are not such dry and tasteless things, as they so commonly happen to be thought, and, because not better understood, are so often put, not only, in competition with, but put behind, the Pleasures of Sin and Sense. Or, lastly, they delude themselves with groundless Imaginations, that, notwithstanding their Sins, they may come to Heaven at laft ; and for the disabusing such, my Third Head was necessary. So excellent a Preservative hath S. John here furnished against Temptation, so impenetrable a Shield, able to repel all the fiery Darts of the Wicked; would we but weigh, and remember, and by continually dwelling upon it, render that present to our Minds, which cannot yet be so, to our Sight and Experience. In a Word, The more our Thoughts are employed upon Heaven, and the deeper they plunge into the vast Ocean of Eternity ; the more we shall answer our Character of God's Children, the nearer we shall approach to him here, by purifying our selves in the Strength of this Hope, even as he is pure: and the more certain we are to be like him hereafter, in his glorious Kingdom. Which He, of his infinite Mercy, grant we may, for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.
The Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.
Matt. xxiv. 23.
PARAPHRAS EL 23. Hen if any man shall say, Lo bere is Cbrift, 23, 24, 25. About the or there, believe it not.
time of Jerusalem's final 24. For there shall arise false Cbriffs ; overthrow, many Seand falje Prophets, and fall jhew great signs and won ducers will set up, each ders, in fomuch ibat if it were possible, tbey Mall deceive pretending to be the ibe very Elect.
Messiah, that Eminent 25. Bebold I bave told you before.
Deliverer of the Jewilla
Nation so long foretold and expected. And these will prevail, by the help of such lying Wonders, as God, for the Sins of Men, will permit to 2 Theff. ii. be done by them: So that many shall be deceived, and none but the stedfast Christians be able to hold out against them. But to fortify such it is, that I give this timely Warning of these Men, and their Ima poftures.
26. Wberefore if they shall say unto you, Bebold, be 26, 27, 28. Be not is in tbe desart, go not forib. Bebold be is in the secret therefore led away by sbambers, believe it not.
any vain promises of 27. For as tbe lightning cometh out of the East, and such a Deliverer, to finerb even unto tbe Well, so foall alfo ibe coming of obe save you in this or that Son of Man be.
place of security, with28. For wberesoerver the Carcass is, ibere will tbe in or without the City. Eagles be garbered togerber,
For the Coming of
Chrift, in vengeance upa on the Jews, shall be sudden, swift, and terrible, as a Flash of Lightning. And the Jews, who are sentenced to Death, thall in every Quarter be destroyed, as if the Roman Armies, whose Ensign is the Eagle, had the quality of that Bird, so sagacious and greedy of prey, that dead Bodies, even at vast distance, cannot cscape them.
29. Immediately after the tribulation of those days, shall 29, 30, 31. (See Pathe Sun be darkned, and obe Moon shall not give ber ligbt, raphrase on Luke xxi. and the Stars fall fall from Heaven, and the Powers 25, &c. in Gospel for of the Heavens shall be shaken.
28 Sund. in Advent.) 30. And oben shall appear the Sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then shall all tbe Tribes of the Eartb mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in tbe Clouds, with power and great Glory.
31. And be fall send bis Angels with a great found of a Trumpet, and they shall gather togerber bis Ele&t from the four Winds, from one end of Heaven so be orber.
2 Pet. iii. 10.
Ver. 11, 12
HE Substance of this Scripture is, in effect, the
same with that already treated of, in the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Advent. There is therefore no occasion for enlarging any farther, either in the Description, or the Proof, of a General Judgment. The Terrors of that Day are set forth here by St. Matthew, in Terms of nearaffinity with those in St. Luke. And, that such Predictions, even in their literal and most dreadful signification, shall then be strictly verified, St. Peter acquaints us, when declaring, that the
Heavens shall pass away with a great noise,
and the Elements Mall melt with fervent beat; the Earth also, and all the works that are therein, Shall be burnt up. In all which, to prevent our taking shelter in any Metaphors, or imaginary Hyperboles, he draws this Inference in the words next fol
lowing. Seeing then, that all these things
shall be disolved, what manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness? Looking for, and hasting to, the coming of the day of God, wherein the Heavens being on fire Mall be disolved, and ibe Elements shall melt with fervent beat.
My Discourse upon the Epistle for this Day having carried me beyond the usual Bounds ; All I design here, is to make some farther Improvement of the Subject in hand, by a few practical Considerati
ons, which the time would not permit day in Advent. me to mention, when handling it be
fore. 1. And First, We shall do well, upon this occasion, to observe the great Wisdom and Goodness of our Blessed Master, in the manner made Choice of for foretelling his last Coming. For, by drawing the Terrors of it so black, he hath taken the most pro
The Second Sun
bable course, to awaken Mens Consciences, and to put them upon shaking off spiritual Security and Sloth. And, from the Representations given of it, As a thing, certain in it self, and uncertain in the time; he hath cut off all wicked Excuses, for unthinking Negligence, and dangerous Delays. Had those tremendous Circumstances been omitted, the Impressions upon our Minds must in all reason have proved less powerful. And, had its distance been punctually determined, Men would have been apt to bear but very cold regard, to an Event, which, though never so sure, yet, they had the Comfort to know, was still removed a very great way from them. But nothing can be strong enough to scatter this Spiritual Lethargy, and quicken us into serious Piety, and effectual Preparation for a Judgment, upon the issue whereof our All must turn at last, and we be fixed in Woe or Bliss by it ; If the Certainty, the Horror, and Suddenness, of such a Judgment will not. Sure we know it is, and Terrible beyond all Imagination ; and very nigh at hand it may be, for onght we do, or can know. Nay, far off, we are certain, it cannot be, as it regards our own Death. Our Condition, in this respect, will in nothing differ from that Posture of Soul, in which the Great Day of Account will find us. What manner of Persons then ought We to be indeed? how Holy, how Circumspect? We, who call Qür felves Christians, and profefs, as such, most firmly to believe this coming of our Lord, as a Fundamental Article of our most holy Religion ? St. Paul alledges, in the Jews behalf, that had they known, they would not bave crucified the Lord of Glory. And yet if, that Ignorance of Theirs notwithstanding, God poured out his Indignation upon that people, in Circumstances so dismal, that the Ears of all that hear it tingle, and the very reading their Story, even at this Distance, chills and
1 Cor. ii. 8.
curdles all our Blood; Of how much forer Punishment shall we be thought worthy, who have so severe an Example before our Eyes, and yet take no Warning by it? We, who profess to worship, and be Servants to Jesus, and yet in Works dishonour and do despight to him: We, who acknowledge his Glories, and call him the Son of God, but, as much as in us lies, crucify and again expose him to Contempt? Is not this to call down upon our own Heads the utmost Torments, that Day can inflict ? Is it not to Treasure up to our selves Wrath against the Season of Wrath, and to render that Gospel, given to preserve, and fit us for Heaven, an Occasion of our so much juster Damnation, and of sinking us so much deeper into Hell ? All the abused Means of Grace, all the neglected Opportunities of Amendment, even these Admonitions will fly in our Faces, and upbraid the Obdurate and Improvident. And They, who have had all done, that could be done to them, may well call upon the Mountains to fall on them, and the Hills to cover them ; when they shall sink under the Load of a double Sentence, and be condemned, not only out of God's, but out of their Own Mouths.
2. Secondly, Hence we may learn, how mean an Opinion is due to this world, and the Things of it. It hath been well observed by Philosophers, that no Object of short continuance, and subject to Corruption, can possibly be worthy the Desires of a reasonable and immortal Soul. No Argument is therefore more capable of inspiring true Nobleness of Mind, than those Christian Revelations, which so positively threaten the utter Destruction of this whole material Frame. When, not this droffy Earth alone, but even those purer Celestial Bodies, the Source of Light and Comfort to wretched Mortals, shall undergo the general Confagration ; Does not this