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countenance have been appalled, and thy stout words turned into speechless silence, or dreadful cries, if God had but set thee thus at his bar, and pleaded his own cause with thee! How easily can be at any time say to thy guilty soul, Come away, and live in that fesh no morę, till the resurrection! And it cannot resist. A word of his mouth would take off the poise of thy present life, and then all thy parts and powers would stand still. And if he were to say to thee, Live no longer, or live in hell; thou couldst not disobey....!
But God has done none of this, but has patiently forboện theę, and mercifully upheld thee, and given thee that breath which thou didst breathe out against him, and given thee those mercies which thou didst sacrifice to thy flesh, and afforded thee that provision which thou spentest to satisfy thy greedy appetite: he gave thee every minute of that time which thou didst waste in idleness or drunkenness.. And does not all this patience and mercy show that he desires not thy damnation? Can the candle burn without the oil? Can your houses stand without the earth to bear them?—as well as you can live an hour without the support of God. And why did he so long support thy life, but to see when thou wouldst bethink thee of the folly of thy ways, and return and live? Will any man purposely put arms into his enemies' hands to resist him? or hold a candle to a murderer who is killing his children? Surely it is to see whether thou wilt at last return and live, that God has so long waited on thee.
5. It is further proved by the sufferings of his Son, that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Would he have ransomed them from death at se dear a rate? Would he have astonished angels and meu at his condescension? Would God have dwelt in flesh, and have come in the form of a servant, and have lived a life of suffering, and died a cursed death for sinners, if he had taken pleasure in their death? Suppose you saw him praying with the drops of blood trickling from him instead of sweat, or suffering a cursed death upon the cross, and pouring out his soui as a sacrifice for our sins; would you have thought these the signs of one that delights in the death of the wicked? If you had seen and heard him weeping and bemoaning the state of disobedience in impenitent people, or complaining of their stubbornness, as Matt. xxiii. 37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how oft would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! Or it you had seen and heard him on the cross, praying for his persecutors, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do; would you have suspected that he had delighted in the death of the wicked; even of those that perish by their wilful unbelief? When God hath so loved, (not only loved, but so loved,) as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; he has proved against the malice of men and devils, that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but had rather that they would turn and live.
6. Lastly, If all this will not satisfy you, take his own word, who knows best his own mind, or at least believe his oath: but this leads me to the fourth doa trine.
The Lord has confirmed to us by his oath, that he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but had rather that he should turn and live : that he may leave man no pretence to question the truth of it.
If you dare question his word, I hope you dare not question his oath. As Christ has solemnly protested that the unconverted cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; so God has sworn that his plea
sure is not in their death, but in their conversion and life. And as the Apostle says, Because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. For men verily swear by the greater; and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold on the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast.(9) If there be any man who cannot reconcile this truth, with the damnation of the wicked, that is owing to his own ignorance; he has no pretence left to deny or question therefore the truth of the point in hand; for this is confirmed by the oath of God, and therefore must not be distorted to reduce it to other points; but doubtful points must rather be reduced to it, and certain truths must be believed to agree with it, though our shallow brains hardly discern the agreement.
I do now entreat thee, if thou be an unconverted sinner, who hearest these words, that thou wouldst bethink thyself awhile, who it is that takes pleasure in thy sin and damnation. Certainly it is not God; he has sworn for his part, that he takes no pleasure in it. And I know it is not the pleasure of him that you intend in it. You dare not say, that you drink, and swear, and neglect holy duties, and quench the motions of the Spirit, to please God. That were as if you should reproach the prince, and break his laws, and seek his death, and say, You did all this to please him.
Who is it then that takes pleasure in your sin and death? Not any that bear the image of God, for they
(9) Heb. vi. 13–16, 17, 18, 19.
must be like-minded to him. God kpows, it is small pleasure to your teachers to see you wilfully run into the flames of hell. Alas! to foresee your everlasting torments, and know not how to prevent them, is to see how near you are to hell, and we cannot make you believe it and consider it:-to see how easily, how certainly, you might escape, if we knew but how to make you willing ! how fair you are for everlasting salvation, if you would but turn and do your best, and make it the care and business of your lives! but you will not do it! Do you think that this is a pleasant thing to us?
Again, it is none of your godly friends. Alas! it is the grief of their souls to see your misery, and they lament for you many a time when you give the little thanks for it, and when you have not hearts to lament for yourselves.
Who is it then that takes pleasure in your sin? It is none but three great enemies of God, whom you renounced in your baptism.
1. The devil takes pleasure in your sin and death; for this is the end of all his temptations. You cannot please him better than to go on in sin: how glad is he when he sees thee go to the alehouse, and when he hears thee curse, or swear, or rail! These are his delight.
2. The wicked are also delighted in it; for it is agreeable to their nature.
3. But I know, for all this, that it is not the pleasing of the devil that you intend ; but it is your own flesh, the greatest and most dangerous enemy. It is the flesh that would be pleased in meat and drink, and clothing; that would be pleased in company, and in applause and credit with the world; and this is the gulph that devours all. This is the very god you serve. For the scripture says of such, their belly is their god.(r)
But I beseech you stay a little, and consider the business.
(1) Phil. iii. 19.
' Your flesh is pleased with your sin: but is your con· science pleased ? Does it not tell you sometimes, that
all is not well, and that your case is not so safe as you make it to be? And should not your soul and conscience be pleased before that corruptible flesh? Again, is not your flesh preparing for its own displeasure also? It loves the bait; but does it love the hook? It loves the strong drink and sweet morsels; it loves its ease, and sports, and merriment; it loves to be rich, and well spoken of by men, and to be somebody in the world: but does it love the curse of God? Does it love to stand trembling before his bar, and to be judged to everlasting fire? Does it love to be tormented with devils for ever? Take all together; for there is no separating sin and hell: if you will keep one, you must have the other. If death and hell be pleasant to you, no wonder then if you go on in sin: but if they be not, then what if sin were ever so pleasant, is it worth the loss of life eternal? Is a little drink, or meat, or ease, is the good word of sinners, or the riches of the world, to be valued above the joys of heaven? Or are they worth the sufferings of eternal fire? These questions should be considered before you go any further, by every man that hath reason to consider, and believes he has a soul to save or lose.
Well, the Lord here swears that he has no pleasure in your death, but had rather that you would turn and live. If yet you will go on, and die rather than turn, remember, it was not to please God that you did it: it was to please the world, and to please yourselves. And if men will damn themselves to please themselves, and run into endless torments for delight; what remedy but they must take what they get by it, and repent in another manner, when it is too late!