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fincere and paffionate in their Repentance, very refolved to forfake all their Sins, and to live a new life; and therefore if we would have the Belief of a Future Judgment make us good men, we muft not only believe it, but affect our Souls with a great fenfe of it; which is true of all the other Arguments and Motives of Religion, as well as of a Future Judgment.
The proper Enquiry then here is, How we Thall awaken and preferve fuch a powerful Senfe of Judgment in our Minds?
Now the only general Direction that can be given is, Frequently to Think and Meditate on a Future Judgment; for nothing can affect our Minds, but our Thoughts, which make the Objec prefent, and give us a near View of it as it is in the Objects of Senfe, the Eye affects the Heart, and excites and moves the Affections more than all the Arguments in the world: If we look ftedfaftly upon a terrible and frightful Object, it will ftrike Terror into us; if upon a pleasant and beautiful Object, it will excite Love and Delight; if upon a miserable Object, it will affect us with a tender Compaffion; to fee men in great Want and Mifery,will melt and open that Heart which was hardened and fhut against all the Arguments and Motives to Charity: And long and frequent Confideration will have much the fame effect on us that Sight has: Judgment is a ter rible thing to bad men, and if they would but ferioully think of it, it would terrifie them; if they would but imagine fometimes, that they heard that last Trumpet found, which will awaken all Mankind, and raife them out of their Graves, and fummon them to Judgment; that they faw the Son of
man defcend from Heaven, attended with his mighty Angels, to execute Vengeance on all them who know not God, and obey not the Gofpel of our Lord Jesus Chrift; that they faw the Earth all in flames about them, and Hell opening her Mouth wide to receive them; that they faw the Books opened, and thofe Sins recorded which they had forgot, and the Secrets of their Hearts disclosed and that they heard that terrible Sentence, Go ye curfed into everlasting Fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; do you think that any man who believes all this, and would fuffer himself seriously to think of it, could bear up against the, Terrors of it? Or that with these Thoughts about him, he could court a Strumpet, or spend his Time in Revels and Excefs, or Blafpheme God, and Ridicule Religion, or cheat his Neighbour, or opprefs the Poor and Fatherlefs, or forfwear himfelf? No! we fee this cannot be, as often as we fee a miferable Sinner whofe awakened Confcience diftracts him with all thefe Scenes and Images of Terror.
: So that Serious Confideration would make a Future Judgment very effectual to govern our Lives; but the great Difficulty of all, is to bring men to confider; and yet one would think it impoffible that a Reasonable Creature fhould not confider that he must be judged; But fo it is, and there is no difputing againft Experience; and yet is this fo dangerous and fatal a Neglect, that it concerns us to enquire into the Caufe and Remedies of it; for could we cure this, it would quickly reform the World, give a new Refurrection to Piety and Virtue, and fecure men from the Danger and Terrors of a Future Judgment. Now there are two apparent Cau
fes of this, 1. That the Thoughts of Judgment are very uneafy and troublefome, and that makes men afraid and averfe to think of it. And 2. That Judgment is out of fight, and they have nothing to mind them of it; and their Thoughts are fo taken up with other Matters, that they forget it, unless they happen to hear a Sermon about it, or fome accidental mention of it; which when they return to their worldly Affairs and Bufinefs, they quickly forget again.
ift. Men are very apt to avoid all Thoughts of Judgment, because they are very uneafy and troublefome; they ftartle at the mention of it; at least do not love to talk too long, nor think too seriously of it; for it awakens their Consciences, and makes them think what a fad Account they have to give; how many things they have done, and daily do, which they can never anfwer to God, when he comes to Judgment; and therefore they chufe to live quietly, without disturbing themselves with fuch terrifying Reflections, and the amazing Thoughts of what is to come. Now methinks it is no hard thing to convince thinking men of the Danger and Folly of this, and to reconcile them to the Thoughts of Judgment: For,
1. Todrive these Thoughts out of our Minds, though it may give us prefent ease, yet it will not mend our Accounts, nor prevent our being judged: God will judge us, whether we will think of being judged or not: Were no men to be judged but those who think of it, there were as much reafon to ftupify our Confcien
ces, and never to think of Judgment, as there is for fick men to take Opiates to fleep away their Pain and their Diftemper together; but this would be thought a very ill Remedy for their prefent Pain, were they to fleep away their Lives: And yet this is the Remedy thefe men chufe, to fleep away their Souls; to fleep away the Fears of Judgment, till Judgment awaken them and their Fears, never to fleep
2. How frightful foever the Thoughts of Judgment are, it will be infinitely more terrible to fee and feel it: And there is no way to avoid that terrible Condemnation, but by thinking of it; the Fear of Judgment, if once it throughly poffeffes our Souls, will conquer this World, difarm all its Terrors, difcover its Cheats and Im poftures, wash off its Paint and Varnish, pluck off its Vizor and Difguife; it will teach us to fear God, which is the beginning of Wisdom the Guide of Youth, and the Counsellor of Age; And would not any Wife Man rather chufe to preferve himself from Danger and Mifery by fearing it, than to live without Fear, and to perifh by his Security? In this World men love to know and fee their Danger, that they may avoid it, how dismal foever the Profpect be and it is very unaccountable, that men fhould chufe rather to be damned, than to prevent it by a timely Forefight, and a prudent Fear and Caution.
For 3. That Fear of Judgment which is ne ceffary to govern our Lives, and to prevent our
final Condemnation, is not fo amazing and terrifying as these Men apprehend it; it is not the Fear of a Man who is going to Execution, but the Fear of Prudence, Caution, and Forefight, which makes Men wife and circumfpect, but don't Diftract them: We have as many Demonftrations of this, as there are Men who govern their Lives under the Fear and Senfe of a Future Judgment; are there any Men in the World who live more chearfully than they, who converfe more pleasantly with their Friends, and enjoy the Comforts of Life with greater Innocence and Freedom? Do you find any Disturbance in their Looks, any Symptoms of an uneafie and frighted Imagination? And yet thefe Men all this while live under the conftant Awe and Fear of Judgment: And therefore the Senfe and Fear of Judgment is confiftent with a constant Peace and Serenity of Mind.
That which diftracts and terrifies Men, is not the conftant Awe and Senfe of Judgment, but the Condemnation of their own guilty Confciences, which threaten the Judgments of God; against them; and when Men apprehend themfelves a falling into Hell, and fear their Cafe is hopeless and irrecoverable, it is no Wonder if the very Pains of Hell take hold of them; and not being able to bear thefe Horrors, they filence or ftupify their Consciences with the Noife, and Bufinefs, and Diverfions, and Pleafures of this Life, and can never endure to entertain the leaft Thought of Judgment, and imagine that all who do, live a miferable Life, are as melancholly and difturbed as they are, when they think of Judg