Imatges de pÓgina
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dable sum, possibly we may find sights enough to scare all our confidences, and arguments enough to press our evil souls into the sorrows of a most intolerable death. For, however we make now but light accounts and evil proportions concerning it, yet it will be a fearful circumstance of appearing, to see one, or two, or ten, or twenty accursed souls, despairing, miserable, infinitely miserable, roaring and blaspheming, and fearfully cursing thee as the cause of its eternal sorrows. Thy lust betrayed and rifled her weak, unguarded innocence; thy example made thy servant confident to lie, or to be perjured; thy society brought a third into intemperance and the disguises of a beast: and when thou seest that soul, with whom thou didst sin, dragged into hell, well mayest thou fear to drink the dregs of thy intolerable potion. And most certainly, it is the greatest of evils to destroy a soul, for whom the Lord Jesus died, and to undo that grace which our Lord purchased with so much sweat and blood, pains and a mighty charity. And because very many sins are sins of society and confederation; such are fornication, drunkenness, bribery, simony, rebellion, schism, and many others; it is a hard and a weighty consideration, what shall become of any one of us, who have tempted our brother or sister to sin and death: for though God hath spared our life, and they are dead, and their debt-books are sealed up till the day of account; yet the mischief of our sin is gone before us, and it is like a murder, but more execrable the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and sealed up to an eternal sorrow; and thou shalt see, at doomsday, what damnable uncharitableness thou hast done. That soul that cries to those rocks to cover her, if it had not been for thy perpetual temptations, might have followed the Lamb in a white robe; and that poor man, that is clothed with shame and flames of fire, would have shined in glory, but that thou didst force him to be partner of thy baseness. And who shall pay for this loss? a soul is lost by thy means; thou hast defeated the holy purposes of the Lord's bitter passion by thy impurities; and what shall happen to thee, by whom thy brother dies eternally? Of all the considerations that. concern this part of the horrors of doomsday, nothing can be more formidable than this, to such whom it does concern: and truly it concerns so many, and amongst so many, per

haps some persons are so tender, that it might affright their hopes, and discompose their industries and spriteful labours of repentance: but that our most merciful Lord hath, in the midst of all the fearful circumstances of his second coming, interwoven this one comfort relating to this, which, to my sense, seems the most fearful and killing circumstance: "Two shall be grinding at one mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be in a bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left;" that is, those who are confederate in the same fortunes, and interests, and actions, may yet have a different sentence: for an early and an active repentance will wash off this account, and put it upon the tables of the cross; and though it ought to make us diligent and careful, charitable and penitent, hugely penitent, even so long as we live, yet when we shall appear together, there is a mercy that shall there separate us, who sometimes had blended each other in a common crime. Blessed be the mercies of God, who hath so carefully provided a fruitful shower of grace, to refresh the miseries and dangers of the greatest part of mankind. Thomas Aquinas was used to beg of God, that he might never be tempted, from his low fortune, to prelacies and dignities ecclesiastical;. and that his mind might never be discomposed or polluted with the love of any creature; and that he might, by some instrument or other, understand the state of his deceased brother; and the story says, that he was heard in all. In him it was a great curiosity, or the passion and impertinences of a useless charity, to search after him, unless he had some other personal concernment than his relation of kindred. But truly, it would concern very many to be solicitous concerning the event of those souls, with whom we have mingled death and sin; for many of those sentences, which have passed and decreed concerning our departed relatives, will concern us dearly, and we are bound in the same bundles, and shall be thrown into the same fires, unless we repent for our own sins, and double our sorrows for their damnation.

5. We may consider that this infinite multitude of men, women, angels, and devils, is not ineffective as a number in Pythagoras' tables, but must needs have influence upon every spirit that shall there appear. For the transactions of that court are not like orations spoken by a Grecian orator

in the circles of his people, heard by them that crowd nearest him, or that sound limited by the circles of air, or the enclosure of a wall; but every thing is represented to every person, and then let it be considered, when thy shame and secret turpitude, thy midnight revels and secret hypocrisies, thy lustful thoughts and treacherous designs, thy falsehood to God and startings from thy holy promises, thy follies and impieties shall be laid open before all the world, and that then shall be spoken by the trumpet of an archangel upon the housetop, the highest battlements of heaven, all those filthy words and lewd circumstances, which thou didst act secretly; thou wilt find, that thou wilt have reason strangely to be ashamed. All the wise men in the world shall know how vile thou hast been: and then consider, with what confusion of face wouldest thou stand in the presence of a good man and a severe, if peradventure he should suddenly draw thy curtain, and find thee in the sins of shame and lust; it must be infinitely more, when God and all the angels of heaven and earth, all his holy myriads, and all his redeemed saints, shall stare and wonder at thy impurities and follies. I have read a story, that a young gentleman, being passionately by his mother dissuaded from entering into the severe courses of a religious and single life, broke from her importunity by saying, "Volo servare animam meam;" "I am resolved by all means to save my soul." But when he had undertaken a rule with passion, he performed it carelessly and remissly, and was but lukewarm in his religion, and quickly proceeded to a melancholy and wearied spirit, and from thence to a sickness and the neighbourhood of death: but falling into an agony and a fantastic vision, dreamed that he saw himself summoned before God's angry throne, and from thence hurried into a place of torments, where espying his mother, full of scorn she upbraided him with his former answer, and asked him, why he did not save his soul by all means, according as he undertook. But when the sick man awaked and recovered, he made his words good indeed, and prayed frequently, and fasted severely, and laboured humbly, and conversed charitably, and mortified himself severely, and refused such secular solaces which other good men received to refresh and sustain their infirmities, and gave no other account to them that asked

him but this: If I could not in my ecstasy or dream endure my mother's upbraiding my follies and weak religion, how shall I be able to suffer, that God should, redargue me at doomsday, and the angels reproach my lukewarmness, and the devils aggravate my sins, and all the saints of God deride my follies and hypocrisies? The effect of that man's consideration may serve to actuate a meditation in every one of us: for we shall all be at that pass, that unless our shame and sorrows be cleansed by a timely repentance, and covered by the robe of Christ, we shall suffer the anger of God, the scorn of saints and angels, and our own shame in the general assembly of all mankind. This argument is most considerable to them, who are tender of their precious name and sensible of honour; if they rather would choose death than a disgrace, poverty rather than shame, let them remember that a sinful life will bring them to an intolerable shame at that day, when all that is excellent in heaven and earth, shall be summoned as witnesses and parties in a fearful scrutiny. The summit is this, all that are born of Adam, shall appear before God and his Christ, and all the innumerable companies of angels and devils shall be there: and the wicked shall be affrighted with every thing they see; and there they shall see those good men, that taught them the ways of life; and all those evil persons, whom themselves have tempted into the ways of death; and those who were converted upon easier terms; and some of these shall shame the wicked, and some shall curse them, and some shall upbraid them, and all shall amaze them; and yet this is but the apxn wdivov, the beginning of those evils which shall never end, till eternity hath a period; but concerning this they must first be judged; and that is the second general consideration, "we must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ," and that is a new state of terrors and affrightments. Christ, who is our Saviour and is our advocate, shall then be our judge: and that will strangely change our confidences and all the face of things.

2. That is then the place and state of our appearance, "before the judgment-seat of Christ:" for Christ shall rise from the right hand of his Father; he shall descend towards' us, and ride upon a cloud, and shall make himself illustrious by a glorious majesty, and an innumerable retinue and cir

cumstances of terror and a mighty power: and this is that which Origen affirms to be the sign of the Son of man. Remalcus de Vaux, in Harpocrate divino, affirms, that all the Greek and Latin fathers "consentientibus animis asseverant, hoc signo crucem Christi significari," do unanimously affirm, that the representment of the cross is the sign of the Son of man spoken of, Matt. xxiv. 50. And indeed they affirm it very generally, but Origen after this manner is singular, "hoc signum crucis erit, cum Dominus ad judicandum venerit," so the church used to sing, and so it is in the Sibyl's verses:

O lignum felix, in quo Deus ipse pependit;
Nec te terra capit, sed cœli tecta videbis,
Cum renovata Dei facies ignita micabit.

The sign of that cross is the sign of the Son of man, when the Lord shall come to judgment: and from those words of Scripture, "they shall look on him whom they have pierced," it hath been freely entertained, that at the day of judgment, Christ shall signify his person by something, that related to his passion, his cross, or his wounds, or both. I list not to spin this curious cobweb; but Origen's opinion seems to me more reasonable; and it is more agreeable to the majesty and power of Christ to signify himself with proportions of his glory, rather than of his humility; with effects of his being exalted into heaven, rather than of his poverty and sorrows upon earth: and this is countenanced better by some Greek copies; τότε φανήσεται σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, so it is commonly read, “the sign of the Son of man in heaven;" that is (say they), the sign of the Son of man imprinted upon a cloud; but it is in others rou υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς, “ the sign of the Son of man who is in the heavens ;" not that the sign shall be imprinted on a cloud, or in any part of the heavens, but that he who is now in the heavens, shall, when he comes down, have a sign and signification of his own, that is, proper to him, who is there glorified, and shall return in glory. And he disparages the beauty of the sun, who inquires for a rule to know, when the sun shines, or the light breaks forth from its chambers of the east; and the Son of man shall need no other signification, but his infinite retinue, and all the angels

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