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Serm. before (2). They that be wise mall shine as
X. the Brightness of the Firmament ; and they w that turn many to Righteoufness, as the Stars
for' ever and ever. There is one Glory of the Sun, says St. Paul (a) another Glory of the Moon, and another Glory of the Stars ; for one Star differs from another Star in Glory. So also is the Resurrection of the Dead.---And, He that receiveth, a Prophet, says Christ Jesus himself, in the Name of a Prophet, shall receive a Prophet's Reward : and be that receiveth a righteous Man in the Name of a righteous Man, hall receive a righteous Man's Reward. And whosoever doth give to drink unto one of these little Ones, a Cup of cold Water only, in the Name of a Disciple, verily I say unto you, he Mall in no wise lofe bis Reward (b).
Now, what can be plainer Proofs than these, of a Variety of future Blessedness? Nor ought it to stagger our Belief in this Article, that our Lord informs us in his Parable of the Labourers, how they, who had worked many Hours, and they who had served but one, were pay'd at the Close of the Day, every Man a Penny (c), for this Parable clearly relates not to
(z) Daniel xii. 3.
(a) 1 Cor. xv. 41.
(c) St. Matth. xx, 9.
the Distribution of Rewards in another Life, SERM. but to the Admission of all Mankind, both X. Gentiles and Jews, to an Equality of GospelPrivileges in this. And though there shall certainly be Fullness of Joy at God's right Hand, yet this must be understood according to our feveral Measures and Capacities, which being diverse, it is so far from an Argument against the Diversity of the Gifts of Glory as well as Grace, that it is a strong Confirmation of it. Having therefore these Promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourrelves from all Filthiness of Flesh and Spirit, perfeEting Holiness in the Fear of the Lord (d).
We should take Notice, that were we to cool in our Affection towards heavenly Treasures as not to strive for the highest Prize by going on unto Perfektion, yet it is impoflible to stand still in the Duties of Religion. We cannot keep the Ground we have gained, without gaining more : If we do not advance we must retreat ; if we do not grow better we must grow worse ; confequently without Perseverance we must lose the Things that we have wrought and reduce ourselves to a more deplorable State, even by our temporary Obedience. To prevent this, our Apprehensions are alarmed with the Threatenings
. .. :.:
of ... d) z Cor. vii, 1,
Serm. of a Misery suitable to the Size of our Guilt. · X. All finally incorrigible Sinners shall feel the W certain Vengeance of God, but then they
shall feel it in diverse Proportions, as their Offences are more aggravated or more numerous. The same Rule will be observed both in Punishments and Rewards; and as all the Righteous will not be admitted to equal Heights of Honour and Happiness, so neither will all the Wicked be sunk to an equal Depth of Shame and Wretchedness.--That there shall be such an exact Correfpondence between Crimes and Sufferings, we have our Saviour's Authority for maintaining, who in express Words teaches us to believe, that some mall be beaten with many Stripes, and some with few (e), and that it mall be more tolerable for some Sinners in the Day of Judgment than for others (f).
Are these Things so? And will not Rea volters from Piety to Profaness, from Virtue to Immorality, consider a little upon what Grounds they are likely to stand ? If, as we have already seen, they will be deservedly ranked among the most heinous Transgressors, having no Plea to make either
of Ignorance or Inability, since they wilfully renounce what they both knew and practised, how can they hope to escape the heaviest of God's Wrath, the intenseft Degree of Punishment in that Place of unspeakable Anguish, where mighty Sinners shall be mightily tormented (f).
These are plain Threatenings of the Gofpel, and God's Truth as well as Justice is concerned to make them good.----Knowing then the Terrors of the Lord, let us be prefuaded to preserve ourselves from them. Let those, who have basely fallen back unto their own Wickedness, haften to extricate themselves out of fo dangerous a Situation, being quickened by the most awful Declarations of Holy Scripture, that the Lord salt reward the Evil-doers according to their Wickedness (8), and, that they shall eat of the Fruit of their own Way, and be filled with their own Devices (b), and let others, who have hitherto acted more wisely, have been careful to please God, to keep themselves in his Love, and conscientiously to do his Commandments ; let them continue in the Faith grounded and settled, and not be moved A a
(f) Wird. vi. 6.
(8) 2 Sam. iii. 39.
away from the Hope of the Gospel which they have heard (i); let them beware, left being led away by tbe Error of the Wicked, they fall from their own Stedfastness. For we are made Partakers of Christ, if we bold the Beginning of our Confidence stedfast unto the End (k).----If the Certainty of future Blessedness, the least Portion of which the best of Men are not capable of meriting, and can rather qualify themselves for, than entitle themselves to, be the most powerful Motive to engage us in a religious Course ; shall not the Assurance of high Degrees of Glory, annexed to proportionable Degrees of Goodness keep us steady and fixed ? effectually prevent our ever flying from the field of Battle through Cowardice, deserting to the Tents of Ungodliness through Treachery, or giving our Hearts any Cause to reproach us as long as we live ?
But who is sufficient for these Things (1) ? It is not in Man to order bis Steps aright (m); his Abilities are sadly impaired whilst the Force of Temptations is terribly increased : Yet are we not to give up our Cause as loft, or sit down in a desponding Posture as
(i) Coloff. i. 23. (1) 2 Cor. ii. 16.
(k) 2 St. Pet. iii, 17.
(27) Jer. x. 23.