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ment and destruction for sin here in this world absolutely; so that it should come upon the persons threatened unavoidably, let them repent and reform and do what they would ; agreea. bly to Jer. xviii. 7, 8. “ At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." So that all threatenings of this nature had a condition implied in them, according to the known and declared manner of God's dealing. And the Ninevites did not take it as an absolute sentence or denunciation : If they had they would have despaired of any benefit by fasting and reformation.
But the threatenings of eternal wrath are positive and ab. solute. There is nothing in the word of God from which we can gather any condition. The only opportunity of escaping is in this world ; this is the only state of trial wherein we have any offers of mercy, or there is any place for repentance.
IV. I shall mention several good and important ends, which will be obtained by the eternal punishinent of the wicked:
1. Hereby God vindicates his injured majesty. Wherein sinners cast contempi upon it, and trample it in the dust, God vindicates and honors it, and makes it appear, as it is indeed, infinite, by showing that it is infinitely dreadful to contemn or offend it.
2. God glorifies his justice. The glory of God is the greatest good ; it is that which is the chief end of the creation; it is a thing of greater importance than any thing else, But this is one way wherein God will glorify himself, as in the eternal destruction of ungodly men, he will glorify his justice. Therein he will appear as a just governor of the world. The vindictive justice of God will apppear strict, exact, awful, and terrible, and therefore glorious,
3. God hereby indirectly glorifies his grace on the vessels of mercy. The saints in heaven will behold the torments of the damned : “ The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for eyer and ever." Isa. lxvi. 24. " And they shall go forth and
look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me : For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all fiesh.” And in Rev. xiv. 10. It is said, that they shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the pres. ence of the Lamb. So they will be tormented in the presence also of the glorified saints.
Hereby the saints will be made the more sensible how great their salvation is. When they shall see how great the misery is from which God hath saved them, and how great a difference he hath made between their state, and the state of others, who were by nature, and perhaps by practice, no more sinful and ill deserving than they, it will give them more of a sense of the wonderfulness of God's grace to them. Every time they look upon the damned, it will excite in them a lively and admiring sense of the grace of God, in making them so to differ. This the apostle informs us is one end of the damnation of ungodly men; Rom. ix. 22, 23. “ What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction : And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepare ed unto glory?” The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardor of the love and gratitude of the saints in heaven.
4. The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints for ever. It will not only make them more sensi. ble of the greatness and freeness of the grace of God in their happiness; but it will really make their happiness the great. er, as it will make them more sensible of their own happiness ; it will give them a more lively relish of it ; it will make them prize it niore. When they see others, who were of the same nature, and born under the same circumstances, plunged in such misery, and they so distinguished, O it will make them sensible how happy they are. A sense of the opposite misery, in all cases, greatly increases the relish of any joy or pleasure,
The sight of the wonderful power, the great and dreadful znajesty, and awful justice and holiness of God, manifested in the eternal punishment of ungodly men, will make them prize his favor and love vastly the more ; and they will be so much the more happy in the enjoyment of it.
1. From what hath been said, we may learn the folly and madness of the greater part of mankind, in that for the sake of present momentary gratification, they run the venture of enduring all these eternal torments. They prefer a small pleasure, or a little wealth, or a little earthly honor and greate ness, which can last but for a moment, to an escape from this punishment. If it be true that the torments of hell are eter: nal, what will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul; or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? What is there in this world, which is not a trifle, and lighter than vanity, in comparison with these eternal things ?
How mad are men, who so often hear of these things and pretend to believe thein ; who can live but a little while, a few years ; who do not even expect to live here longer than others of their species ordinarily do; and who yet are careless about what becomes of themselves in another world, where there is no change and no end! How mad are they, when they hear that if they go cn in sin, they shall be eternally miserable, that they are not moved by it, but hear it with as much carelessness and coldness as if they were no way concerned in the matter ; when they know not but that it may be their case, that they may be suffering these torments before a week is at an end, and that is it should be so, it would be no strange thing, no other than a common thing!
How can men be so careless of such a matter as their own eternal and desperate destruc'ion and torment! What a strange stupor and senselessness possesses the hearts of men! How common a thing is it to see men, who are told from Saba
. Lath to Sabbath of eternal misery, and who are as mortal as other men, so careless about it, that they seem not to be at all restrained by it from whatever their souls lust after! It is not half so much their care to escape eternal misery, as it is to get money and land, and to be considerable in the world, and to gratify their senses. Their thoughts are much more ex. ercised about these things, and much more of their care and concern is about them. Eternal misery, though they lie every day exposed to it, is a thing neglected, it is but now and then thought of, and then with a great deal of stupidity, and not with concern enough to stir them up to do any thing considerable in order to escape it. They are not sensible that it is worth their while to take any considerable pains in order to it. And if they do take pains for a little while, they soon leave off, and something else takes up their thoughts and con
you will see it to be among young and old. Multitudes of those who are in youth, lead a careless life, taking little care about their salvation. So you may see it to be among persons of middle age. So it is still with
many, when advanced in years, and when they certainly draw pear to the grave. Yet these same persons will seem to acknowledge, that the greater part of men go to hell and suffer eternal mis. ery, and this through carelessness about it. However they will do the same. How strange is it that men can enjoy themselves and be at rest, when they are thus hanging over eternal burnings ; at the same time, having no lease of their lives, and not knowing how soon the thread by which they hang will break, nor do they pretend to know; and if it breaks, they are gone, they are lost for ever, and there is no remedy ! Yet they trouble not themselves much about it; nor will they hearken to those whọ cry to them, and intreat them to take care for themselves, and labor to get out of that dangerous condition : They are not willing to take so much pains : They choose not to be diverted from amusing themselves with those toys and vanities which they have in hand. Thus well might the wise man say, as in Eccles, ix. 3. « The heart of VOL. VII.
the sons of men is full of evil. Madness is in their heart while they live ; and after that they go to the dead."
How much wiser are those few, who make it their main business to lay a foundation for eternity, to secure their salvation!
2. I shall improve this subject in an use of exhortation to sinners, to take care to escape these eternal torments. If they be eternal, one would think that would be enough to awaken your concern, and excite your diligence. If the punishment be eternal, it is infinite, as we said before ; and therefore no other evil, no death, no temporary torment that ever you heard of, or that you can imagine, is any thing in comparison with it, but is as much less and less considerable, not only as a grain of sand is less than the whole universe, but as it is less than the boundless space which encompasses the . universe. Therefore here,
(1.) Be entreated to consider attentively how great and awful a thing eternity is. Although you cannot comprehend it the more by considering, yet you may be made more sensible that it is not a thing to be disregarded. Do but consider what it is to suffer extreme torment for ever and ever; to suffer it day and night, from one day to another, from one year to another, from one age to another, from one thous. and ages to another, and so adding age to age, and thousands to thousands, in pain, in wailing and lamenting, groaning and shrieking, and gnashing your teeth ; with your souls full of dreadful grief and amazement, with your bodies and every member full of racking torture, without any possibility of getting ease ; without any possibility of moving God to pity by your cries ; without any possibility of hiding yourselves from him ; without any possibility of diverting your thoughts from your pain ; without any possibility of obtaining any manner of mitigation, or help, or change for the better any way.
(2.) Do but consider how dreadful despair will be in such torment, How dismal will it be, when you are under these racking torments, to know assuredly that you never, never shall be delivered from them; to have no hope : When you