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our Desires are riveted to vicious Objects ; Serm.IV. it is no hard Matter to foresee, that Misery, eternal Misery, must be the unavoidable Result. When we are as it were bound Hand and Foot by ill Habits; when the Spring of the Soul, by which she should recover herself, which every vicious Act must weaken, is, by a continued Reiteration of them, quite broken; the Consequence is, that we must be cast into outer Darkness.

Now where can be the Injustice, that God should suffer those Evils to take place, which a Man has brought upon himself, by counteracting the Will of God? Where can be the Injustice, that those should be for ever excluded from Heaven, who, by a viciated Relish, have disqualified themselves for heavenly Bliss? If Happiness be nothing but the Employment of the Faculties of the Soul upon suitable Objects ; it is certain, that celestial and spiritual Objects cannot suit a Soul, which being long and deeply immersed in sensual Delights, has contracted an habitual Distaste for them. As Man was the Creature of God's Hands, he was enabled and designed to be a Partaker of Happiness, and a Sharer of a blessed Immortality with himself: But as he is an

habitual

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Serm.Iv. habitual Sinner, and in that Respect the

Creature of his own Hands, he has made
himself eternally miserable, by those Ha-
bits, which are the Foundation of Hell.

So far, perhaps, you may be willing to
allow, there is no Colour of Injustice :
But this, you will say, does not account
for the Perpetuity of positive Punishments
for temporary Crimes. To which I an-
swer, that even the Threats of eternal po-
fitive Penalties are not the rigorous De-
crees of mere Will and Pleasure; they are
so many kindly Forewarnings of the neces-
fary Effects of a rooted Aversion to Good-
ness. For it may be necessary to secure the
Happiness of the Blessed, that, though the
Good and Bad, like the Wheat and Tares,
are blended together here; they should, at
the End of the World, be finally severed
the one from the other. It may be ne-
cessary, that if every Region of Joy and
Comfort throughout the Creation be peopled
with unoffending Beings; the desperately
Wicked should be thrust down (which is a
positive Punishment) into Places, where no
Joy and Comfort dwells, and there for ever
imprisoned; that their Rancour and Ma-
lice might prey upon themselves, or be

discharged

discharged upon their Fellow-Criminals, Ser M.IV. which, if let loofe, might disturb the innocent Part of the World. The divine Sanctions, you see then, are not the arbitrary Impositions of Sovereign Power ; they are the genuine Result of infinite Wisdom and Goodness, which, in Pity to the Universe, has enacted them, that the whole inay

receive no Detriment. And whatever other positive Punishments may be fuperadded ; they will be exactly adjusted to the Demerits of each Offender. The Scripture expressly declares, that the Wicked will be beaten with fewer or more Stripes, in proportion to the different Degrees of their Wickedness.

2dly, Let those, who insist so much upon it, that the Punishment is disproportioned to the Crime; reflect, whether they do not consider Sin in one View, either as to the Fact abstractedly, or as to the Time which the Perpetration of the fact takes up; without considering it in all Views, and in all its Consequences; which yet is the only way to form a true Judgment of the Malignity of it. For the Punishment is not disproportioned to Sin, habitual Sin, if confidered with all its numerous Train

of

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SERM.IV.of ill Consequences; the Consequences be

ing such, that if unrestrained it would soon
involve the whole World in one promiscu-
ous Ruin and Desolation. It is true, one
Man cannot do all this Mischief. But then
one Man, who, for Instance, acts unjust-
ly, contributes his Part to the Introduction
of universal Disorder and Misery. If all
should act as unjustly as himself, (and all
have as much Right as any one Man) the
Foundations of the moral World would be
quite out of Course.

To explain this by a familiar Instance,
one Person robs another of a small Sum of
Money; he is taken and suffers Death for
the Fact: Now what Proportion is there
between the Punishment and the Crime;
between depriving a Man of what he per-
haps could

very

well Spare, and depriving
the Person that did it of his Life, of his
all in this World? None at all, if we con-
sider the Crime in this Light only : But if
we view it in all its Tendencies, then the
Crime is adequate to the Punishment; since
it tends to render Property, and what is va-
luable in this Life, precarious, and to sub-
vert the Peace of Society.
We know not, we cannot know, how

far

far the Consequences of any one Sin may

SERM.IV. extend, how far the Influence of our Behaviour may affect all that lie within the Sphere of our Activity, those beneath us, and about us, our Domeftics, Relations, and Neighbours.

And these again may spread the Contagion farther. Those that are vicious in a less Degree, however they may blame the Corruption of the World in general, are accessary to that very Corruption. It is here as in a Battle: Every Person who fled, is apt to shift off the Blame from himself, and to lay it upon his FellowSoldiers: But if each Person, who gave way, had stood his Ground; what was a general Rout, would have been a complete Victory. Sin then deserves the greatest Evil, because it is opposite to the greatest Good, the univerfal Interest: and as a confirmed Habit of Sin implies the Love of it, a continual Love of what is opposite to the greatest Good, must continually or for ever deserve the greatest Evil.

We may harangue as long as we please upon God's Benevolence. But no Arguments can be drawn from it to soften the seeming Rigour of the divine Sanctions. For universal Benevolence must consult the Good

of

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