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self known to me; to convince me of his Resurrection, and to call me to be a Witness thereof among the Nations; to furnish me with ineffable Powers and Succours; and to set before me the Truth of his Holy Religion, in all its Spirituality and Saving Efficacy.
"From that moment, O Felix! far other notions of Holiness and Religion than I had been taught before, filled my Breast. Those things that appeared gain to me formerly, I now accounted but Loss and Dung, so that I might win Christ. I was now persuaded that all those Rites and outward Ceremonies, all those Ablutions, Purifications and Sacrifices, for which I had expended my Zeal, were unsubstantial and vain under that better Covenant which he had made; and that, in Christ Jesus, neither Circumcision nor Uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a New Creature;--a Heart wholly devoted to him, and a Life of Righteousness and Temperance agreeably to the sublime Doctrines of his Gospel.
"Thus I preached, and thus I laboured, that I might put off the filthy rags of my own outward legal Righteousness, and be found in him, in that better way which he hath appointed. And now, my whole hope is in him; and good foundation for hope surely. For since he hath shewn with Power, that he hath overcome Death, and risen from the Grave, he hath given us the assurance of rising also, and the prospect of eternal Communion with Him. But the terms of this Communion are, that we may become like to Him; Holy as he was Holy, Temperate as he was Temperate, Pure as he was Pure; Righteous,
Merciful, Long-Suffering, Compassionate, full of Brotherly Love and Kindness even as he hath set an example.
"God forbid, then, that I should forego this hope of Glory; that I should return to a vain dependence on carnal Ordinances and outward Shadows; when God, by this Divine Saviour, whose Resurrection I am called to witness, hath given assurance to all men that he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in Righteousness-a Day, most noble Felix! in which that poor despised Galilean, he that bore his own Cross, and bowed his eternal Head to Death, shall come again with Death slain before him, and the very Heaven and Earth melting at his approach, amidst Thousands and Ten Thousands of his Saints and Angels to judge the World, in Righteousness, and by the just Laws of his holy Gospel.
"Judgment, Brethren! a future Judgment at the Bar of Omnipotence, for the deeds done in the Body, good and bad-as the thought of it is awfully alarming, so we may well believe that it was the mention of it by St. Paul, according to those Laws of Righteousness, &c. which he had been demonstrating, that roused the Conscience of Felix, that made him tremble on his Tribunal, and wish to hear no more, or postpone the subject-" Go thy way for this time, "when I have a convenient season I will call for "thee."
What circumstances of the Resurrection and last Judgment, St. Paul might have mentioned before Felix, to put him into this trembling condition, the bounds of my present Discourse will not allow me
to inquire. But certain it is, that there is nothing in the whole course of human affairs, nothing that can enter the imagination of man, so great, so extraordinary as those concluding scenes, to which St. Paul had called the attention of Felix, reasoning on the necessity of a Life of Righteousness* and a Judgment to come; in order to be prepared for the last Advent of Christ our Saviour, and be able to stand the general Conflagration of the World we inhabit.
If we could figure to ourselves those scenesthe New Jerusalem shining high above us, Tophet flaming far below us; the glorious Judge ascending his Throne of Glory, with his Militant Thousands of holy Angels around Him; all Nations gathering before Him, which He separateth one from the other, as a Shepherd divideth his Sheep from the Goats; setting the Sheep on His Right Hand, and the Goats on His Left, in awful expectation of that Sentence, which is to doom them to endless Happiness or Misery; if we could draw these pictures in our minds in true and lively colours, we should scarcely ever be able to attend to any thing else, or divert our imagi
The Character of Felix was a very bad one, for all manner of unrighteousness, as Tacitus informs us—per omnem Saevitiam et Libidinem jus regium exercuit-He practised all manner of Cruelty and Intemperance, in the Administration of the Government; thinking that he might commit (cuncta Malefacta impune) all kinds of Wickedness without Punishment; and therefore it is no wonder that St. Paul's arguments concerning a future Judgment and Punishments to come, made him tremble.—Josephus informs us that Drusilla, the wife of Felix, was no better than himself; that she deserted her husband King Isis, to marry a Heathen Felix, doing evil, and defying the Laws of her Country.
St. Matt. Ch. XXV.
[See Whitby's Commentary.
nations from such awful subjects! For what can ever affect us in this world, if Heaven and Hell, all in motion-the greatest Glory united with the greatest Terror, have not this effect? For, however much this blessed JESUS has been despised on earth, and his Holy Doctrines, rejected of men; the day I speak of, will come-a Day, O Felix! when he shall shew himself to be the Son of God, with Power! For it concerns the honour of his Government, that there should be an Account and Judgment to come! In this world, all things come alike unto all men. There is one Event to the Righteous and to the Wicked, to the Clean and to the Unclean, to him that Sweareth, and to him who Feareth an Oath! But in that last Judgment, whereof I speak, Justice shall be done to every one; each doubtful case shall be cleared up, and the Ways of God vindicated to Man! All the present Mazes of Providence shall then be penetrated and laid open. Secret Wickedness, deep Disguise, Dissimulation and Guilt, shall then be unveiled! Concealed and persecuted Goodness shall be lifted up and rewarded, and flagrant Villainy punished!
As the Circumstances attending this last Judgmcnt will be terrible, so will the Preparations for it be awfully alarming! When the Son of God rises from his Throne to come to Judgment, the whole world of invisible Spirits will attend his progress. At the Voice of the Archangel, and the Sound of the Trump of God-the Dead shall bear, and shall rise and marshal themselves, obedient to the sumThose who lived some thousand years ago,
and those who live in the present day-the Mighty and the Weak, the Conquerors and Conquered; and Thou, O Felix! and thy imperial Master, Cæsar, and Alexander, and all the Names of boar Renown, shall be crouded into one promiscuous innumerable Throng; while the Earth, as if wearied of its ancient inhabitants, for whose sake it had long groaned under the Curse of Heaven, shall sink under their feet, wrapt up in devouring Flame, and pass away with a great noise!
Now comes forth the Ancient of Days in all his Glory and his Father's Glory! Enrobed in a Cloud of Light which will eclipse all other created Light; His Head encircled with a radiant Bow, His Face brighter than the Sun's Glory, His Legs as Pillars of Fire, the eternal Book of the Councils of God, displayed on High, as His heavenly Banners, He rides forth sublime on the wings of the Wind; a fiery stream issues before him to clear his way. His Seat assumed, thus he opens the awful Process:
"Hear, ye assembled nations! attend to the voice of your Judge, before whom all your thoughts and actions lie naked and open, from the Foundation of the World to the present Day!
"I divested myself of my Glory, which I had with the Father from eternity; and came down to preach the Gospel of Peace and Salvation to all the fallen Race of Man. I revealed to you a Scheme of atonement for Sin, and a method of Reconciliation to God. I opened the prospects of Life and Immortality before you; and I provided a supply of my Word and sound Doctrine to remain with you through every Age of