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DR WATTS' opinion about publishing these Papers appears in the folo
lowing Advertisement, prefixed to them by himself. These papers were written at several seasons and intervals of leisure,
and on various occasions arising through the greatest part of my life. Many of them were designed to be published among the Reliquia Juveniles, but for some reason or other, not worth present notice, were laid by at that time. Whether I shall ever publish them, I know not, though far the greatest part of them have long stood corrected among my manuscripts ; nor do I suppose many of them inferior to those Essays and Remarks of this kind which have before appeared in the world with some acceptance. If they are not published in my lifetime, my worthy friends, who have the care of my papers, may leave out what they please.
I. W. July 3. 1740.
REMNANTS OF TIME,
PROSE AND VERSE, Uc.
1. JUSTICE and GRACE.
Never was there any hour since the creation of all things, nor ever will be till the last conflagration,
wherein the holy God so remarkably displayed his justice and his grace, as that hour that saw our Lord Jesus Christ hanging upon the cross, forsaken of his father, and expiring. What a dreadful glory was given to vindictive justice, when the great and terrible God made the soul of his own Son a painful sacrifice for sin! What an amazing instance of grace, that he should redeem such worthless sinners, as we are, from the vengeance, by exposing his beloved Son to it! When I view the severity or the compassion of that hour, my thoughts are lost in astonishment: it is not for me, it is not for Paul or Apollos, it is not for the tongue of men or angels to say which was greatest, the compassion or the severity. Humble adoration becomes us best, and a thankful acceptance of the pardon that was purchased at so dear a rate.
Next to this I know not a more eminent display of terror and mercy, than the dying hour of a pious but desponding Christian, under the tumultuous and disquieting temptations of the devil.
See within those curtains a person of faith and serious piety, but of a melancholy constitution, and expecting death. While his flesh is tortured with sharp agonies, and terribly convulsed, a ghastly horror sits on his countenance, and he groans under extreme anguish. Behold the man, a favourite of heaven, a child of light, assaulted with the darts of hell, and his soul surrounded with thick darkness; all his sins stand in dreadful array before him, and threaten him with the execution of all the curses in the Bible. Though he loves God with all his heart, he is in the dark, he knows it not, nor can he believe that God has any love for him ; and though he cannot utterly let go his hold of his Saviour and the gospel, yet, in his own apprehension, he is abandoned both of the Father and the Son. In every new pang that he feels, his own fears persuade him that the gates of hell are now opening upon him: he hangs hovering over the burning pit, and at the last gasp of life, when he seems to be sinking into eternal death, he quits the body, with all its sad circumstances, and feels himself safe in the arms of his Saviour, and in the presence of his God.
What amazing transport! What agreeable surprise ! not to be uttered by the words of our scanty mortal language nor conceived but by the person who feels it. The body indeed, which was the habitation of so pious a spirit, is de molished at once: Behold the lifeless carcase ; it makes haste to putrefaction. The released soul in extasy feels and surveys its own happiness, appears before the throne, is acknowledged there as one of the sons of God, and invested with the glories of the upper world. Sorrows and sinse guilt, fetters, and darkness vanish for ever. It exults in lie berty and light, and dwells for ever under the smiles of God.
What was it that could provoke the wise and gracious God to permit the wicked spirit to vex one of his own children at this rate, and to deal so severely with the man whom he loves ? To expose that soul to exquisite anguish in the fiesh, which he designed the same day to make a partner with blessed spirits ? To express in one hour so much terror and so much mercy?
St Paul will give a short and plain answer to this inquiry. Rom. viii. 10. “ The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness." Hence that anguish, those agonies and convulsions in the sinful flesh
that must die, and these will be felt in some measure by the partner-spirit ; though that spirit, being vested with divine righteousness, or justified in the sight of God, shall survive these agonies in a peaceful immortality. Though the sufferings of the Son of God hath redeemed it from an everlasting hell, yet it becomes the offended Majesty of heaven sometimes to give sensible instances what misery the pardoned sinner has deserved; and the moment that he receives him into full blessedness, may, on some accounts, be the fittest to make a display of all his terrors, that the soul may have the full taste of felicity, and pay the higher honours to recovering grace. The demolition of the earthly tabernacle, with all the pangs and the groans that attend it, are a shadow of that vengeance which was due even to the best of saints: it is fit we should see the picture of vindictive justice, before we are taken into the arms of eternal mercy. Besides, there
be another reason that renders the dying hour of this man more dreadful too: perhaps he had walked unwatchfully before God, and had given too much indulgence to some congenial iniquity, some vice that easily beset him ; now it becomes the great God to write his own hatred of sin in deep and piercing characters sometimes on his own children, that he may let the world know that he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity any where without resentment. The man had built much hay and stubble upon the divine foundation Christ Jesus, and it was proper that he should be saved so as by fire, 1 Cor. iii. 15.
Will the Papist therefore attempt to support the structure of his purgatory upon such a text as this ? An useless structure, and a vain attempt! That place was erected by the superstitious fancy of men, to purge out the sins of a dead man by his own sufferings, and to make him fit for heaven in times hereafter; as though the atoning blood of Christ were not sufficient for complete pardon, or the sanctifying work of the Spirit were imperfect even after death. Whereas the design of God, in some such instances of terror, is chiefly to give now and then an example to survivors in this life, how highly he is displeased with sin, and to discourage his own people from an indulgence of the works of the flesh. Now this 'end could not be attained by all the pains of their pretended purgatory, even though it were a real place of torment, because it is so invisible and unknown.
But whatsoever sorrows the dying Christian sustains in the wise administrations of Providence, it is by no means toi make compensation to God for sin ; the atoning work of Christ is complete still, and the sanctifying work of the Spirit perfect as soon as the soul is dismissed from earth ; therefore it has an entrance into full blessedness, such as becomes a God infinite in mercy to bestow on a penitent sinner, presented before the throne in the name and righteousness of his own Son. We are complete in him, Col. ii. 10. By him made perfectly acceptable to God at our death, we are filled with all grace, and introduced into complete glory.
II.' The Death of a young Son.
[In a Letter to a Friend.] Madam, it has been the delight and practice of the pious in all ages to talk in the words of scripture, and in the language of their God: The images of that book are bright and beautiful ; and where they happily correspond with any present providence, there is a certain divine pleasure in the parallel. The Jews have ever used it as a fashionable style, and it has always been the custom of Christians in the most religious times, till iniquity and profaneness called it cant and fanaticism. The Evangelists and the Apostles have justified the practice ; those later inspired authors have often indulged it, even where the prophet, or first writer of the text, had quite another subject in view : and though an allusion to the words of scripture will by no means stand in the place of a proper exposition, yet it carries something divine and affecting in it; and by this means it may shine in a sermon, or a familiar epistle, and makes a pleasing si