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Isai. xi. 2.
The one sort, only weighing their sinful and detestable living with the right judgment and straightness of God's righteousness, be so without counsel, and be so comfortless, (as all they must needs be from whom the Spirit of counsel and comfort is gone,) that they will not be persuaded in their hearts but that either God cannot, or else that he will not, take them again to his favour and mercy. The other, hearing the loving and large promises of God's mercy, and so not conceiving a right faith thereof, make those promises larger than ever God did; trusting that, although they continue in their sinful and detestable living never so long, yet that God at the end of their life will shew his mercy upon them, and that then they will return. And both these two sorts of men be in a damnable
state: and yet nevertheless God, who willeth not 25, 2; and the death of the wicked, hath shewed means where
by both the same, if they take heed in season, may
escape. A gunst de- The first, as they do dread God's rightful justice
in punishing sinners, (whereby they should be dismayed, and should despair indeed, as touching any hope that may be in themselves,) so, if they would constantly (or steadfastly) believe that God's mercy is the remedy appointed against such despair and distrust, not only for them, but generally for all that be sorry and truly repentant and will therewithal stick to God's mercy, they may be sure they shall obtain mercy, and enter into the port or haven of safeguard ; into the which who
doth come, be they beforetime never so
wicked, they shall be out of danger of everlasting F.zek. xxxiii. damnation. As God by Ezechiel saith : What 12, 64-46,19. time soever the wicked doth return, and take earnest
and true repentance, I will forget all his wicked
The other, as they be ready to believe God's promises, so they should be as ready to believe the threatenings of God. As well they should believe the Law as the Gospel; as well that there is an hell and everlasting fire, as that there is an heaven and everlasting joy. As well they should believe damnation to be threatened to the wicked and evildoers, as salvation to be promised to the faithful in word and works. As well they should believe God to be true in the one as in the other. And the sinners that continue in their wicked living ought to think that the promises of God's mercy and the Gospel pertain not unto them, being in that state, but only the Law and those Scriptures which contain the wrath and indignation of God and his threatenings: which should certify them that, as they do overboldly presume of God's mercy and live dissolutely, so doth God still more and more withdraw his mercy from them; and he is so provoked thereby to wrath at length, that he destroyeth such presumers many times suddenly. For of such St. Paul saith thus : When they shall say, It is peace, There is no danger, 1 Thess. V. 3. then shall sudden destruction come upon them. Let us beware therefore of such naughty boldness to sin. For God, which hath promised his mercy to them that be truly repentant, although it be at the latter end, hath not promised to the presumptuous sinner, either that he shall have long life, or that he shall have true repentance at his last end. But for that purpose hath he made every man's death uncertain, that he should not put his hope in the end, and in the mean season, to God's high displeasure, live ungodly.
Wherefore let us all follow the counsel of the Wise Man: let us make no tarrying to turn unto Ecclus. v.7 the Lord; let us not put off from day to day : for suddenly shall his wrath come, and in time of vengeance he shall destroy the wicked. Let us therefore turn betimes : and, when we turn, let us pray to God as Osee teacheth, saying, Forgive us all our Hos. xiv. a . sins, receive us graciously. And, if we turn to him with an humble and a very penitent heart, he will receive us to liis favour and grace for his holy Name's sake, for his promise sake, for his truth
and mercy's sake, promised to all faithful believers in Jesus Christ his only natural Son. To whom, the only Saviour of the world, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory, and power world without end. Amen.
AGAINST THE FEAR OF DEATH.
It is not to be marvelled that worldly men do fear to die. For death depriveth them of all worldly honours, riches, and possessions : in the fruition whereof the worldly man counteth himself happy, so long as he may enjoy them at his own pleasure; and otherwise, if he be dispossessed of the same without hope of recovery, then he can none other think of himself but that he is unhappy, because he hath lost his worldly joy and pleasure. Alas, thinketh this carnal man, shall I now depart for ever from all my honours, all my treasures, from my country, friends, riches, possessions, and worldly pleasures, which are my joy and heart's delight? Alas, that ever that day shall come, when all these I must bid fare well at once, and never to enjoy any of them after! Wherefore it is not without great cause spoken of the Wise Man, O death, how bitter Ecclus. xli. 1. and sour is the remembrance of thee to a man that liveth in peace and prosperity in his substance, to a man living at ease, leading his life after his own mind without trouble, and is therewithal well pampered and fed !
There be other men, whom this world doth not so greatly laugh upon, but rather vex and oppress with poverty, sickness, or some other adversity; yet they do fear death, partly because the flesh abhorreth naturally his own sorrowful dissolution, which death doth threaten unto them, and partly by reason of sicknesses and painful diseases, which be most strong pangs and agonies in the flesh, and
use commonly to come to sick men before death, or at the least accompany death, whensoever it cometh.
Although these two causes seem great and weighty to a worldly man, whereupon he is moved to fear death, yet there is another cause much greater than any of these afore rehearsed, for which indeed he hath just cause to fear death ; and that is the state and condition whereunto at the last end death bringeth all them that have their hearts fixed upon this world without repent
ance and amendment. This state and condition is Rev. xxi. 8. called the second death ; which unto all such shall
ensue after this bodily death. And this is that death which indeed ought to be dread and feared : for it is the everlasting loss, without remedy, of the grace and favour of God, and of everlasting joy, pleasure, and felicity. And it is not only the loss for ever of all these eternal pleasures, but also it is the condemnation both of body and soul, without either appellation or hope of redemption, unto everlasting pains in hell. Unto this state death sent the unmerciful and ungodly rich man that Luke speaketh of in his Gospel; who, living in all wealth and pleasure in this world, and cherishing himself daily with dainty fare and gorgeous apparel, despised poor Lazarus, that lay pitifully at his gate, miserably plagued, and full of sores, and also grievously pined with hunger. Both these two were arrested of death
which sent Lazarus, the poor miserable man, by angels anon unto Abraham's bosom, a place of rest, pleasure, and consolation. But the unmerciful rich man descended down into hell; and being in torments he cried for comfort, complaining of the intolerable pain that he suffered in that flame of fire: but it was too late. So unto this place bodily death sendeth all them that in this world have their joy and felicity, all them that in this world be unfaithful unto God and uncharitable unto their neighbours, so dying without repentance and hope
Luke xvi. 19-ji.