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« He that believeth not is condemned already.” So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell ; that is his place; from thence he is. John viii. 23. “ Ye are from boñeath:” And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law, assign to him.
4. They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell: And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them ; as angry, as he is with many of those miserable creatures that he is now tormenting in hell, and do there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth ; yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congre. gation, that, it may be, are at ease and quiet, than he is with many of those that are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as them: selves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them; their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared; the fire is made ready; the furnace is now hot ; ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened her mouth under them.
5. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him ; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke xi. 21.
The devils watch them; they are ever by them, at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy, hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back; if God should withdraw his hand by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is
gaping for them ; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them;
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and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed
up and lost.
6. There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into bell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the rery nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell: There are those corrupt principles, in reigning pow. er in them, and in full possession of them, that are the begin. nings of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, ex. ceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the res. training hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would fame out after the same manner as the same cor. ruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments in them as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isaiah lvii. 20. For the present God res. trains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, “ Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further; but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is a thing that is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature ; and as the heart is now a sink of sin,so, if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into a fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.
7. It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shews that this is no
evidence that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. seen, unthought of ways and means of persons' going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noonday ; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different, unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners' going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all cencerned in the case.
8. Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. This, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony to. There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death ; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death ; but how is it in fact ? Eccles. ü. 16. 6 How dieth the wise man ? As the fool."
9. All wicked men's pains and contrivance they use to es. cape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do ; every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and Aato
dependence on God for all, and in each of those ways, of hav. ing all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its lustre and glory.
3. Hence we may learn a reason why faith is that by which we come to have an interest in this redemption ; for there is included in the nature of faith, a sensibleness and acknowledge ment of this absolute dependence on God in this affair. It is very fit that it should be required of all, in order to their hay, ing the benefit of this redemption, that they should be sensible of, and acknowledge their dependence on God for it. It is by this means that God hath contrived to glorify himself in redemption ; and it is fit that God should at least have this glory of those that are the subjects of this redemption, and have the benefit of it.
Faith is a sensibleness of what is real in the work of re, demption ; and as we do really wholly depend on God, so the soul that believes doth entirely depend on God for all salvation, in its own sense and act. Faith abases men, and exalts God, it gives all the glory of redemption to God alone. It is necessary in order to saving faith, that man should be emptied of himself, that he should be sensible that he is “ wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Humility is a great ingredient of true faith : He that truly receives redemption, receives it as a little child. Mark x. 15. “ Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child, he shall not enter therein." It is the delight of a believing soul to abase itself and exalt God alone : That is the language of it. Psalm cxv. 1. Not unto us, “ O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give glory."
4. Let us be exhorted to exalt Cod alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption, Let us endeavor to obtain, and increase in a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a selfdependent, and selfrighteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to be exalting himself and depending on his own powa er or goodness, as though he were he from whom he must
expect happiness, and to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found.
And this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone, as by trust and reliance, so by praise. Let him that glorieth, glo. ry in the Lord. Hath any man hope that he is converted, and sanctified, and that his mind is endowed with true excellency and spiritual beauty, and his sins forgiven, and he received into God's favor, and exalted to the honor and blessedness of being his child, and an heir of eternal life; let him give God all the glory ; who alone makes him to differ from the worst of men in this world, or the miserablest of the damned in hell. Hath any man much comfort and strong hope of eternal life, let not his hope lift him up, but dispose him the more to abase himself, and reflect on his own exceeding unworthiness of such a favor, and to exalt God alone. Is any man eminent in holiness, and abundant in good works, let him take nothing of the glory of it to himself, but ascribe it to him whose “ workmanship we are, created in Christ Jesus unto good works."