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see, till seasonable vengeance give them their reward; or rather send them to the place where they must receive it. 3. For it is eternal torment, under the wrath of God, which is the final punishment which they must expect, (if very great repentance, and the blood of Christ, do not prevent it). There are few I think that by shame and terror of conscience, are not brought to such a repentance, as Cain and Judas had, or as a man that hath brought calamity on himself; and therefore wish they had never done it, because of their own unhappiness thereby (except those persecutors or murderers that are hardened by error, pride or power); but this will not prevent the vengeance of God in their damnation: it must be a deep repentance proceeding from the love of God and man, and the hatred of sin, and sense of God's displeasure for it, which is only found in sanctified souls' And alas, how few murderers ever have the grace to manifest any such renovation and repentance'
Tit. 2. Advice against Self-murder.
Though self-murder be a sin which nature hath as strongly inclined man against, as any sin in the world that I remember, and therefore I shall say but little of it; yet experience telleth us, that it is a sin that some persons are in danger of, and therefore I shall not pass it by.
The prevention of it lieth in the avoiding of these following causes of it.
Direct. 1. ‘The commonest cause is prevailing melancholy, which is near to madness; therefore to prevent this sad disease, or to cure it if contracted, and to watch them in the meantime, is the chief prevention of this sin.” Though there be much more hope of the salvation of such, as want the use of their understandings, because so far it may be called involuntary, yet it is a very dreadful case, especially so far as reason remaineth in any power. But it is not more natural for a man in a fever to thirst and rave, than for melancholy, at the height, to incline men to make away themselves. For the disease will let them feel nothing but misery and despair, and say nothing, but, ‘ I am forsaken, miserable and undone!’ And not only maketh them weary of their lives (even while they are afraid to die), but the devil hath some great advantage by it, to urge them to do it; so that if they pass over a bridge, he urgeth them to leap into the water; if they see a knife, they are presently urged to kill themselves with it; and feel, as if it were, something within them importunately provoking them, and saying, “Do it, do it now ;” and giving them no rest. Insomuch, that many of them contrive it, and cast about secretly how they may accomplish it. Though the cure of these poor people belong as much to other's care as to their own, yet so far as they yet can use their reason, they must be warned, 1. To abhor all these suggestions, and give them not room a moment in their minds. And 2. To avoid all occasions of the sin, and not to be near a knife, a river, or any instrument which the devil would have them use in the execution. And 3. To open their case to others, and tell them all, that they may help to their preservation. 4. And especially to be willing to use the means, both physic, and satisfying counsel, which tend to cure their disease. And if there be any rooted cause in the mind that was antecedent to the melancholy, it must be carefully looked to in the cure. Direct. 11. ‘Take heed of worldly trouble and discontent; for this also is a common cause.” Either it suddenly casteth men into melancholy, or without it of itself overturneth their reason, so far as to make them violently dispatch themselves; especially, if it fall out in a mind where there is a mixture of these two causes : 1. Unmortified love to any creature. 2. And an impotent and passionate mind ; their discontent doth cause such unquietness, that they will furiously go to hell for ease. Mortify therefore first your worldly lusts, and set not too much by any earthly thing: if you did not foolishly overvalue yourselves, or your credit, or your wealth or friends, there would be nothing to feed your discontent: make no greater a matter of the world than it deserveth, and you will make no such great matter of your sufferings. And 2. Mortify your turbulent passions, and give not way to Bedlam fury to overcome your reason. Go to Christ, to beg and learn to be meek and lowly in spirit, and then your troubled minds will have rest". Passionate women, and such other feeble spirited persons, that are easily troubled and hardly quieted and pleased, have great cause to bend their greatest endeavours to the curing of this impotent temper of mind, and procuring from God such strengthening grace, as may restore their reason to its power. Direct. 111. ‘And sometimes sudden passion itself, without any longer discontent, hath caused men to make away themselves.” Mortify therefore and watch over such distracting passions. Direct. 1 v. ‘Take heed of running into the guilt of any heinous sin.” For though you may feel no hurt from it at the present, when conscience is awakened, it is so disquieting a thing, that it maketh many a one hang himself. Some grievous sins are so tormenting to the conscience, that they give many no rest, till they have brought them to Judas's or Ahithophel's end. Especially take heed of sinning against conscience, and of yielding to that for fear of men, which God and conscience charge you to forbear. For the case of many a hundred as well as Spira, may tell you into what calamity this may cast you. If man be the master of your religion, you have no religion; for what is religion, but the subjection to God, especially in the matters of his worship; and if God be subjected to man, he is taken for no-god. When you worship a god that is inferior to a man, then you may subject your religion to the will of that man. Keep God and conscience at peace with you, if you love yourselves, though thereby you lose your peace with the world. Direct. v. ‘Keep up a believing foresight of the state which death will send you to.' And then if you have the use of reason, hell at least, will hold your hands, and make you afraid of venturing upon death. What repentance are you like to have, when you die in the very act of sin? And when an unmortified lust or love of the world, doth hurry you to the halter by sinful discontent 2 And what hope of pardon without repentance? How exceeding likely therefore is it, that whenever you put yourselves out of your present pain and trouble you send your souls to endless torments' And will it ease you to pass from poverty or crosses into hell? Or will you damn your souls, because another * Matt. xi. 28, 29.
wrongeth you? O the madness of a sinner! Who will you think hath wronged you most, when you feel hell-fire? Are you weary of your lives, and will you go to hell for ease ? Alas, how quickly would you be glad to be here again, in a more painful condition than that which you were so weary of 1 yea, and to endure it a thousand years! Suppose you saw hell before your eyes, would you leap into it? Is not time of repentance a mercy to be valued? Yea, a little reprieve from endless misery is better than nothing. What need you make haste to come to hell ? Will it not be soon enough, if you stay thence as long as you can 2 And why will you throw away your hopes, and put yourselves past all probability of recovery, before God put you so himself?
Direct. vi. “Understand the wonders of mercy revealed, and bestowed on mankind in Jesus Christ; and understand the tenor of the covenant of grace.” The ignorance of this is it that keepeth a bitter taste upon your spirits ; and maketh you cry out, Forsaken and undone; when such miracles of mercy are wrought for your salvation. And the ignorance of this is it that maketh you foolishly cry out, ‘There is no hope; the day of grace is past; it is too late; God will never shew me mercy!” When his Word assureth all that will believe it, that “whoever confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall have mercy P.” “And if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive".” “And that whoever will, may freely drink of the waters of life’.” “And that whoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life".” I have no other hope of my salvation, but that Gospel, which promiseth pardon and salvation, unto all, that at any time, repent and turn to God by faith in Christ: and I dare lay my salvation on the truth of this, that Christ never rejected any sinner how great soever, that at any time in this life, was truly willing to come to him, and to God by him. “He that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out t.” But the malicious devil would fain make God seem odious to the soul, and representeth love itself as our enemy, that we might not love him Despair is such a part of hell, that if he could bring us to it, he would think he had us half in hell already ; and then he would urge us to dispatch our
P Prov. xxviii. 13. * 1 John i. 9. * Rev. xxii. 17.
selves, that we might be there indeed, and our despair might be incurable. How blind is he that seeth not the devil in all this
Directions for the forgiving of Enemies, and those that injure us; against Wrath, and Malice, and Revenge, and Persecution.
It is not only actual murder which is forbidden in the sixth commandment, but also all inordinate wrath, and malice, and desires of revenge, and injuring the person of our neighbour or our enemy; for so the Prophet and Judge of the church hath himself expounded it, Matt. v. 21, 22. Anger hath a hurting inclination, and malice is a fixed anger, and revenge is the fruit of both or either of them. He that will be free from injurious actions, must subdue that wrath and malice which is their cause. Heart-murders and injuries must be carefully rooted up; “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts and murders",” &c. This is the fire of hell on which an evil tongue is set", and this must be quenched if you would be innocent. Direct. 1. ‘See God in your neighbour, and love him for that of God which is upon him.' If he be holy, he hath the moral image of God. If he be unholy, he hath his natural image as he is a man. He is not only God's creature, but his reasonable creature, and the lord of his inferior works: and art thou a child of God, and yet canst not see him, and love him in his works’ Without God he is nothing, whom thou art so much offended with ; and though there be somewhat in him which is not of God, which may deserve thy hatred, yet that is not his substance or person : hate not, or wrong not that which is of God. It would raise in you such a reverence, as would assuage your wrath, if you could but see God in him that you are displeased with. Direct. 11. ‘To this end observe more the good which is in your neighbour, than the evil.” Malice overlooketh all that is good and amiable, and can see nothing but that
* Matt. xv. 19. " James iii. 6.