« הקודםהמשך »
together. With what a sad change he appears in another world! Then if a man could but ask that hopeless soul, “ Are you as confident of salvation as you were wont to be?” what a sad answer would be returned! O that careless sinners would be awakened to think of this in time! Reader, rest not till thou canst give a reason of all thy hopes, grounded upon scripture promises; that they purify thy heart; that they quicken thy endeavours in godliness; that the more thou hopest the less thou sinnest, and the more exact is thy obedience. If thy hopes be such as these, go on in the strength of the Lord, hold fast thy hope, and never shall it make thee ashamed. But if thou hast not one sound evidence of a work of grace on thy soul, cast away thy hopes. Despair of ever being saved, except thou be born again; or of seeing God without holiness; or of having part in Christ, except thou love him above father or mother, or thy own life. This kind of despair is one of the first steps to heaven. If a man be quite out of his way, what must be the first means to bring him in again? He must despair of ever coming to his journey's end in the way that he is in. If his home be eastward, and he is going westward, as long as he hopes he is right he will go on; and as long as he goes on hoping, he goes farther amiss. When he despairs of coming home, except he turn back, then he will return, and then he may hope. Just so it is, sinner, with thy soul: thou art born out of the way to heaven, and hast proceeded many a year; thou goest on and hopest to be saved, because thou art not so bad as many others. Except thou throwest away those hopes, and seest that thou hast all this while been quite out of the way to heaven, thou wilt never return and be saved. There is nothing in the world more likely to keep thy soul out of heaven, than thy false hopes of being saved, while thou art out of the way to salvation. See then how it will aggravate the misery of the damned, that with the loss of heaven, they shall lose all that hope of it which now supports them.
5. (3) They will lose all that false peace of con. science which makes their present life so easy. Who would think, that sees how quietly the multitude of the ungodly live, that they must very shortly lie down in everlasting flames! They are as free from the fears of hell as an obedient believer; and for the most part have less disquiet of mind than those who shall be saved. Happy men, if this peace would prove lasting! When they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.(6) O cruel peace, which ends in such a war! The soul of every man by nature is Satan's garrison: all is at peace in such a man till Christ comes, and gives it terrible alarms of judgment and hell, batters it with the ordnance of his threats and terrors, forces it to yield to his mere mercy, and take him for the governor; then doth he cast out Satan, overcome him, take from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils,(c) and then doth he establish a firm and lasting peace. If therefore thou art yet in that first peace, never think it will endure. Can thy soul have lasting peace, in enmity with Christ? Can he have peace, against whom God proclaims war? I wish thee no greater good, than that God break in upon thy careless beart, and shake thee out of thy false peace, and make thee lie down at the feet of Christ, and say, Lord, What wouldest thou have me to do? and so receive from him a better and surer peace, which will never be quite broken, but be the beginning of thy everlasting peace, and not perish in thy perishing, as the groundless peace of the world will do.
§ 6. (4) They shall lose all their carnal mirth. They will themselves say of their laughter, It is mud; and of their mirth, What doeth it?(d) It was but as the cracklings of thorns under a pot.(e) It made a blaze for a while, but it was presently gone, and returned no
(6) 1 Thess. v. 3.".
(c) Luke xi. 22.
more. The talk of death and judgment was irksome to them, because it damped their mirth. They could not endure to think of their sin and danger, because these thoughts sunk their spirits. They knew not what it was to weep for sin, or to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. They could laugh away sorrow, and sing away cares, and drive away those melancholy thoughts. To meditate and pray, they fancied would be enough to make them miserable, or run mad. Poor souls, what a misery will that life be, where you shall have nothing but sorrow; intense, heart-piercing, multiplied sorrow; when you shall neither have the joys of saints, nor your own former joys! Do you think there is one merry heart in hell? or one joyful countenance, or jesting tongue? You now cry, a little mirth is worth a great deal of sorrow. But, surely, a little godly sorrow, which would have ended in eternal joy, had been worth much more than all your foolish mirth; for the end of such mirth is sorrow.
§ 7. (6) They shall also loše all their sensual delights. That which they esteemed their chief good, their heaven, their God, must they lose, as well as God himself.- What a fall will the proud ambitious inan have from the top of his honours! As his dust and bonės will not be known from the dust and bones of the poorest beggar; so neither will his soul be honoured and favoured more than theirs. What a number of the great, noble, and learned, will be shut out of the presence of Christ! They shall not find their magnificent buildings, soft beds, and easy couches. They shall not view their curious gardens, their pleasant meadows, and plenteous harvests. Their tables will not be so furnished, nor attended. The rich man is there no more clothed in purple and fine linen, nor fareth sumptuously every day. There is no excepting the admiration of beholders. They shall spend their time in sadness, and not in sports and pastimes. What an alteration will they then find? The heat of their lust will be then abated.
They shall now and plenteou or attend
How will it even cut them to the heart to look each other in the face! What an interview will there then be, cursing the day that ever they saw one another! O that sinners would now remember, and say, “ Will these delights accompany us into the other world? Will not the remembrance of them be then our torment? Shall we then take this partnership in vice for true friendship? Why should we sell such lasting incomprehensible joys for a taste of seeming pleasure? Come, as we have sinned together, let us pray together that God would pardon us; and let us help one another towards heaven, instead of helping to deceive and destroy each other.” Othat men knew but what they desire, when they would so fain have all things suited to the desires of the flesh! It is but to desire their temptations to be increased, and their snares strengthened.
8. (II.) As the loss of the saint's rest will be ag. graved by losing the enjoyments of time, it will be much more so by suffering the torments of hell. The exceeding greatness of such torments may appear by considering,--the principal author of them, which is God himself;—the place or state of torment;-that these torments are the fruit of divine vengeance; that the Almighty takes pleasure in them ;—that Satan and sinners themselves shall be God's executioners;—that these torments shall be universal, without mitigation,—and without end.
§ 9. (1) The principal author of hell torments is God himself. As it was no less than God whom the sinners had offended, so it is no less than God who will punish them for their offences. He hath prepared those torments for his enemies. His continued anger will still be devouring them. His breath of indignation will kindle the flames. His wrath will be an intolerable burden to their souls. If it were but a creature they had to do with, they might better bear it. Woe to hin that falls under the strokes of the Almighty! It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.(J) It were nothing in comparison
(1) Heb. x. 31.
101 to this, if all the world were against them, or if the strength of all creatures were united in one to inflict their penalty. They had now rather venture to displease God than displease a landlord, a customer, a master, a friend, a neighbour, or their own flesh; . but then they will wish a thousand times in vain, that they had been hated of all the world, rather than have lost the favour of God. What a consuming fire is his wrath? If it be kindled here but a little, how do we wither like the grass ? How soon doth our strength decay, and turn to weakness, and our beauty to deformity! The flames do not so easily run through the dry stubble, as the wrath of God will consume these wretches. They that could not bear a prison, or a gibbet, or a fire, for Christ, nor scarce a few scoffs, how will they now bear the devouring flames of divine wrath.
§ 10. (2) The place or state of torment is purposely ordained to glorify the justice of God. When God would glorify his power, he made the worlds. The comely order of all his creatures declareth his wisdom. His providence is shown in sustaining all things.—When a spark of his wrath kindles upon the earth, the whole world, except only eight persons, are drowned; Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, are burnt with fire from heaven; the sea shuts her mouth upon some; the earth opens and swallows up others; the pestilence destroys by thousands. What a standing witness of the wrath of God is the present deplorable state of the Jews! Yet the glorifying the mercy and justice of God, is intended most eminently for the life to come. As God will then glorify his mercy in a way that is now beyond the comprehension of the saints that must enjoy it; 80 also will he manifest his justice to be indeed the justice of God. The everlasting flames of hell will not be thought too hot for the rebellious; and when they have there burned through millions of ages, he will not repent him of the evil which is befallen them. Woe to the soul that is thus set up as a butt, for the
Zeho are dro whole Park of his showtures de se worte