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S E R M O N I. The Eternity of Future Pu. nishment Proved and Vindicated.
MATTH. XXV. 46. And these shall go away into Everlafling
Punishment. Hough God hath revealed the Eternal duration of Future Pu
nishment in thePlainest and most Positive terms; yet the Impious glosses of some, and the dictates of an Immoderate self-love in others have represents ed this Important Article of our Faith as Absurd and Incredible.
'Tis the Interest of some men, and therefore their Endeavour, to rase out
of their Minds all the notions of a Future State. Sensual pleasures have so intirely ingrossed their Affections, that they would not Willingly leave this present world, though in exchange for mansions of Bliss in the next: Or, if there be some faint desires of Heaven still remaining, as doubtless they must desire it upon this account, that this State of things, which is so dear to them, must Necessarily have an End; yet when, upon reflection, they find no hopes of attaining what they thus wish for out of Necessity, not of Choice, they then Wrest and Force their Reason in contriving Schemes of Imaginary Comfort: They then boldly play all the engines that can be invented against the Authority of the Holy Scriptures, or Industriously pervert the proper sense of them: They then labour to persuade themselves and others, by Arguments which themselves can never Heartily believe, that though there be a fupreme Being, which made the earth and created man upon it, yet there is no reason to doubt, that a Being of such wonderful Excellency and Perfection will
be fo favourable to them, the work of his own hands, let their behaviour be what it will, as not to plunge them into Endless and Intolerable Misery; that therefore they seem to be under no very strict obligation to afflict themselves continually with severe and Vexatious restraints, but may reasonably enough venture to gratify all their Inclinations and Desires; that therefore they do not seem to have any other business in this world but that of the Leviathan in the deep, to take their pastime therein.. . And there is too plain an occasion given to these Enemies of the Lord thus to Blafpheme, by others, who though they profefs a Belief of the Scriptures, do yet, in a great measure, destroy the expectation of eternal Punishment, by some mistaken opinions concerning God and ourselves. They cannot apprehend how any thing so Terrible and Amazing as Everlasting misery, Terrible and Amazing beyond all expression, should be the portion of such a Noble and Excellent Being as Man, the Perfection and Excellency of whose Nature God himself
hath so remarkably signalized his esteem of, in the death of his only begotten Son, for our benefit and advantage; how God's Infinite Goodness should be compatible with Man's Endless Misery, or how that Disproportion, which there seems to be betwixt Momentary Transgressions and Everlasting Punishment, should be Reconcileable with Infinite justice.
Thus, out of an Immoderate Esteem and love of Themselves, they lay too much stress upon some of the Divine Attributes, and too little upon others, and persuade themselves into an Acquiescence under so agreeable a delusion, from the very Principles of the Covenant of Grace, converting even the Revelations of God's Infinite Mercy and Love to mankind, into Instruments of their own extreme Danger, making those very things that should have been for their wealth, become unto them an occasion of falling. And they take great Pains to confirm these False reasonings, about the Divine Attributes and the Excellencies of Humane nature, by their Mistaken Interpretations of those
texts in Holy Scripture, wherein God hath revealed the Nature and Circumstances of Future punishment. I shall therefore, in discoursing upon these words, endeavour
I. First, Directly to prove the Eternity of punishment in a Future State, and
II. Secondly, To answer the Principal objections, that have been made against it. And
1. First, The Direct proof of Eternal punishment in a Future state falls within a very small compass, depending upon the concurrent evidence of a few texts in Holy Scripture; as when our Blessed Saviour, having immediately before given
an account of his Solemn and Glorious · appearance to Judge the world, and of his approving and accepting the Faithful and Obedient, lays down the sentence of Condemnation to be pronounced upon the Wicked in these words, * Depart from me ye cursed, into Everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his Angels. And the text assures us, that as the form of the Sentence thụs pronounced does e. * Matth. xxy. 41,