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who like a Doctrine never the better for SERM

XVIII. being theirs; and then to proceed to lay down the true and primary Notion of the same State, as it is delivered to us in Holy Scripture, and by the ancientest Writers and Fathers of the Church. My Business therefore is

I. FIRST negatively, to disprove that the Souls of the Deceased are at present either in Heaven, or Hell; or in that perfect Degree of Happiness or Misery, which they are to be in hereafter. And then

II. In the Second. Place, pohtively to declare (I mean as far as the Scriptures enable us) in what Place and Condition they are.

I. The FIRST of these Heads I believe is more than I shall be able to compass in one Discourse. To this therefore I propose to confine myself wholly at present; and to introduce me to it have chose those Words of the inspired Author to the Hebrews which I have read for

my
Text.

And how proper a Text this is to lead me to the Doctrine I would defend, a fhort Review of the Context will Thew. In the Close of the Chapter immediately foregoing, the Holy Penman exhorts

his

XVIII.

SERM. his Hebrews not to shrink back from the

Profession of their Faith, because they had
not a present Recompence for their Sufferings
and Pains; but to endure with Patience,
which was neceffary to entitle them to the
promised Reward, and to which he encou-
rages them by assuring them that He that
Mhall come, will come in a little while, and will
not tarry, Heb. xi. 37. i. e. The Messiah,
or Jesus Christ, who is to come again in the
End of the World to confer Rewards on all
that wait for him with Faith and Patience,
shall most assuredly come at the appointed
Time, when all things are prepared, and be-
yond which Time he shall not stay. But left
the Hebrews should think even this too long
to wait; he proceeds in this Chapter, whence
I have taken my Text, to animate them from
the Examples of the Reverend Patriarchs and
Fathers of old, who had suffered much in
Timès long past, and yet were still content to
wait for that Promise, which Christians, as
born in the last Age of the World, might hope
soon to obtain, With this View he calls to
their Memories the heroick Transactions of
Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, of Abraham and
Sarah, of Isaac and Jacob, of yoseph and
Mofes, of Rahab, and of many others, whom

he

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XVIII.

he wanted Time to enlarge on, such as Gideon, SERM.
and Barak, and Samson, and Jephtha, such
as David also and Samuel, and the rest of the
Prophets : All of them Names venerable for
their Antiquity, and renowned for their Faith;
who

yet, notwithstanding all they did and all
they suffered, still waited, even then, when
the Penman wrote, for their final Reward :
They had not received the Promise made to
their Sufferings and Faith, but expected till
the Number of the Chosen and Elect of God
should be fulfilled under both Dispensations,
when all together (and not any one before
another) should have their Happiness render-
ed perfect and complete. For so faith my
Text, These all having obtained a good Report
through Faith; i. e. the Scriptures bearing
Witness that by Virtue of their Faith, they
were all acceptable to God, they did not how-
ever receive the Promise, the Rewards ensur-
ed to them were not yet conferred upon them,
God having provided fome better thing for us
that were born under the New Testament,
i. e, doing us Honour, by keeping them in a
State of Expectation and Delay, till we and
all that are still to be born, shall be ready to
enter into, and enjoy, the Promises with
them: That so even they, who first finished

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XVIII.

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SERM. their Labours, should not without us be made

perfect, i. e, not till we shall be perfected too.

So that we see it is the Doctrine of my Text (if I have rightly represented the Doctrine of it here) that the Patriarchs and Fathers of the Old Testament, even those of them that have been, the longest of all, in a separate State, are not yet so happy, as one Day they expect to be when they and all the Righteous Souls, that have entered already, or shall hereafter enter at any Time the Regions of the Dead, shall at once be received, at the Resurrection of the Just, into perfect Glory.

It is true indeed, that they who are of a différent Opinion from us, and who place the Distinction between the present and the future State of the Blessed, in their having, or not having, their Bodies only, interpret the being made perfect in my Text, of the Resurrection alone, which is to perfect the Saints. And that the Saints shall indeed be perfected then, we are as willing to grant, as they to alk. But that

any

Part of them is perfected before, or that even their Souls are yet in Heaven ; this is the Doctrine which they affirm and we deny: Which we deny upon

the Authority of the Text we are now considering, and in which we have the ancient Fathers

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on

XVIII.

on our Side. For thus St. Chryfoftom, speak

SERM.

. ing of Abel and Noab, * -God, (faith he) to the End that they might not be crowned without us, has appointed one Time of Coronation for us all. Thus again Theodoret+They have not yet received their Crowns, because God defers it till others have combated, that so be may proclaim them all Conqueror's at once of And thus lastly Origen, having cited this very Place, draws this Inference immediately from it. You see (faith he) that Abraham yet expects to receive Perfection ; that Ifaac also and Jacob and all the Prophets wait for us, that with us they may obtain their perfe&t Happiness. Even the Apostles themselves have not yet received their foy, but stay for mie to be partaker with them : Neither do the Saints that now depart, immediately enter upon the Reward of their Deserts, but ftdy and wait for us, though we defer and delay our Coming I These Expressions cannot be intended only of the Resurrection of the Bodies of the Saints hereafter : They must be understood of the Perfection and Happiness of their Souls, which those an

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+ Tkod. in loc.

| Origen in Le

* Chryfoft. in loc. vit. Hom. 7. f. 71. d.

Vol. II.

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cient

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