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there were no God, for oh, the cruel wrath that abideth from God in the life to come for miserable sinners! I cannot speak of it. Let us pray unto God that we never feel it. In the 2 Thess. chap. 1, 2, there is mention made of two sorts of people who shall be judged with these cruel punishments, who shall have God for their enemy. The ignorant and wicked people of this world, who know not the truth, and delight in wickedness, who are drunk in pleasures, and will not return nor have no pleasure or knowledge of God, speaking evil of those things they know not, such shall not be excused. The Lord created us in Adam full of knowledge, therefore ignorance shall not excuse thee. A second sort, who shall be thus judged, are scholars in this world, those who know and daily hear their master's will delivered, and yet will not be reclaimed. The Gospel, thou hearest its sound in thine ears, it biddeth thee strike sail, it biddeth thee pull down thy proud heart and stoop unto Jesus Christ: it telleth thee that thou art in the way of death, offering thee freely Christ's blood, the means of reconciliation; it putteth thee in mind of thy covenant by baptism, that even here at thy baptizing, we have promised to war at first with all our enemies, and die unto sin daily by newness of life. Shall we then imagine that if now in our riper years, from loyal bound subjects, if we turn traitors again, and false unto him unto whom we are sworn, it is possible to escape cruel punishment by eternal death? Certainly no. Terrible are the punishments which abide for such miserable creatures, who are perjured traitors to God.
For, first, if we consider, a continual dying, a great deal more terrible than any death. Again the perpetuity thereof, that it shall endure for ever, no time, age, or ages shall finish the same. Oh! if we did but once settle in our hearts, by a deep meditation, this eternity, we would tremble, every joint of us, at the least offence we commit, we would never rest after the committing of any sin, until we had washed it soundly with the tears of repentance. But so much the more terrible shall this perpetuity of torments be, in that they shall be tormented from beholding him in
whose presence is the fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore. And again to increase their misery, he will bring his whole power against them, even the whole strength of his army.
This is a mighty power. Whath and if (saith the apostle to the Romans) God would, to show his wrath and to make his power known, suffer the vessels of wrath prepared to destruction, &c. Here you see the power of God, and the greatness of his indignation shall meet the wicked with a full cup, although he suffer long. If we should see a mighty man come with a terrible force, and cleave a shield of brass at a blow. So the Lord with a more mighty force will come upon the wicked in the great day of vengeance, renewing his plagues upon them with redoubled forces from time to time, for indeed, although, like parrots, we can be content to talk with God, yet the course of our lives showeth that we make but a mock Lord of him, and give unto him no part of his honour due. But if we thus contemn the Lord, he will discharge his cannons against us, and so bruise us in pieces.
Let us consider then diligently what wages sin will pay unto us, for a reward of our long service; a most doleful reward. The apostle he telleth us what this goodly purchase of our's is in the end; saith he, "The wages of sin is death." This is a wondrous misery of ours, that one way, by all means we fly from death, yet otherwise (unperceived) we hasten on to that which we so fly (I mean) both the first and second death. It is said, that the woman there did travail in pain to bring forth her child, &c. So wicked and miserable sinners, they are all great with child of sin, and they travail fast to bring forth: when, notwithstanding, all proveth but miserable; sin, when it is conceived, bringeth forth death, saith the apostle James.
Oh, but may some object, what is this you say? you speak to those who are under the law. I will leave the law, I will take hold of Christ and then I shall be sure of
h Rom. chap. 9. ver. 22. k Rev. chap. 12. ver. 2.
i Rom. chap. 6. ver. 23.
mercy. I say thou canst not so long as thou remainest in a profane course of life, how close soever thou carry it before the world. Nay, bring a rabble of thy good works along with thee like unto the Papists. They shall not avail thee. The law and Gospel shall both condemn thee; the one, because thou art still under the dominion of sin, and the other, because in place of thy due submission, thou art yet a rebel thereunto in thine heart, being neither hot nor cold, therefore the Lord shall spew thee out of his mouth; because thou abusest both the law and Gospel. Neither do I here bar penitent sinners from the riches of his marvellous mercies, for I confess Christ's blood saveth all such, but sinners who despise and mock him and his members, and will none of him, how is it possible such should think of mercy? Aye, but may some say, will you yet not grant that God is merciful. And I again reply, do you thus ask to mock and tempt God, to make his mercy a cloak for thy sin? That his mercy thereby may be prostitute to every filthy sinner? It must not be so. St. Paul' he there affirmeth only, that there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Therefore, when we look for this trial, who be freed from condemnation ? Let us look upon their walk, whether it be after the flesh or the spirit, the apostle maketh this true trial. If thy walk be after the flesh (profess what thou wilt) thou as yet hath no part in Christ. And yet I say, let us look upon their walks. Many dear children of God may stumble and make slips, and yet their walks be after the spirit. Let us, therefore, not mistake slips for walks. But unto thee who remainest yet in thy sins, under the dominion of the law, yet soothing thyself that thou art freed by grace, I say, deceive not thyself. All those who are partakers of justification, are also partakers of sanctification. It is as certain as God is true: look unto that oath which God hath swornm. There the Lord's oath is, that those who serve him truly shall serve him for ever in holiness and righteousness, in justification and sanctification. Otherwise if these two go
Rom. chap. 8. ver. 1.
m Luke, chap. 1. ver. 73.
not together, thou hast no freedom of thine enemies, thou art still under the curse of the law. So long, therefore, as thou remainest hard-hearted, under the dominion of sin, and wilt not repent, or if thou willingly harbour any one sin, so long it availeth thee not to say unto me, that thou wilt pray unto God, for he will not hear thee. Read the first chapter of Proverbs, there he saith, "Because" I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out mine hand, and none would regard. But ye have despised all my counsel, and would none of my correction, I will also laugh at your destruction, and mock when your fear cometh." This is our folly, that we will never hear wisdom until death come, or some great misery, the forerunner thereof.
And then he will not hear thee. This is a fearful thing, thou delayest to come unto him, and thinkest him lavish of his mercies, and that thou mayest have them at thy pleasure, and yet in thy greatest need he will not hear thee. Aye, but may some object, those call but slightly and seldom. But I in my greatest passion will call earnestly and often, and so prevail. But it followeth in the same chapter. "Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer, they shall seek me early but they shall not find me: because they hated knowledge." So the Spirit of God by Moses, dasheth this fond conceit of mercy without newness of life. “If (saith he) there be any root of gall or wormwood in any, who when he heareth the words of this curse, he blesseth himself in his heart, saying I shall have peace, although I walk after the stubbornness of mine own heart, thus adding drunkenness to thirst, the Lord will not spare him." They think, let ministers speak as they list, I will yet presume upon God's mercy. But I ask thee, wilt thou needs do so, poor wretch? upon what acquaintance dost thou thus presume? A day will come (as the great Judge of all judges hath told us) when Christ Jesus the Judge of all will disclaim thee, with this cruel sentence, Depart from me ye workers of iniquity unto hell fire. Thou who reckonest without thy host thou must reckon over again. It followeth in the
n Prov. chap. 1. ver. 24-26. Deut. chap. 29. ver. 19, 20.
Ibid. ver. 28.
former allegation. "The Lord will not be merciful unto such a one, but the wrath of God and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and every curse which is written in the law shall come upon him." A most miserable thing it is to be tied to the law without redemption. But the child of God being freed by grace, he must be a new creature; sin may still stick close unto them, but they are freed from the law of sin; sin shall have, nor can have no dominion over them, they are not under the law, but under grace, sin shall not reign in their mortal bodies. You see it then plain by the word of God, that the wicked and unregenerate man is still under the curse of the law, that there is no peace to the wicked. Ministers, you see then, must not always speak peace unto the people, but they must also use the bitter medicines of the law, where they are needful. We see, there is a charge given unto us to do so, there they have power to set sin upon thy head, and by such and such tokens to pronounce thee accursed. They have I say a charge to shut heaven upon wretched sinners, to bind them in chains of darkness, and deliver them over unto Satan. And if thou (whatsoever thou art) who heareth me at this instant do not change from thy stubborn heartedness, I say in the name of God I arrest thee. I protest against thee, leave thou not thy sins, and this shall stand up in judgment for thy condemnation. And the sin thou harbourest, it shall kill thee, it shall slay thee at unawares.
Now to come unto the second point, their privilege, and excellent estate, who are freed by grace. In which as we have seen their misery who are under the law; let us take a brief view of their happiness, who are freed from sin and the law, being under grace. Exceedingly may such rejoice, who have attained to enjoy this privilege, for in that last and great day when the wicked shall call unto the hills and mountains to cover them from the presence of the great Judge, not being able to stand before him; they shall appear with boldness, knowing that their redemption draweth near: because they
Matt. chap. 18. ver. 18.