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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
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
SERM. his Hebrews not to shrink back from the
Profession of their Faith, because they had
he wanted Time to enlarge on, such as Gideon, SERM.
yet, notwithstanding all they did and all
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
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
on our Side. For thus St. Chryfoftom, speak
. 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
+ Tkod. in loc.
| Origen in Le
* Chryfoft. in loc. vit. Hom. 7. f. 71. d.