Page images

pass from hence to you, cannot: noither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. They fall for ever, have the horrible fociety of the devil and his angels. There will be no change of company for evermore, in that region of darkness. Their torment in the fire will be everlasting: they must live for ever in it. Several authors both an. cient and modern, tell us of earthen-flax, or Salamander's hair ; that cloth made of it, being cast into the fire, is so far from being burnt or consumed, that it is only made clean thereby, as other things are by washing But, however that is, it is certain, the damned fhall be tora mented for ever and ever in hell fire, and not fubftantially destroyed, Rev. xx. 10. And indeed nothing is annihilated by fire, but only dis. solved. Of what nature soever hell-fire is, no question, the same God who kept the bodies of the three children, from burning in Nebuchad. nezzar's fiery furnace, can also keep the bodies of the damned from any such dissolution by, as may infer privation of life.

stly, Their knowledge and sense of their misery thall be eternal, ana they ihall assuredly know that it will be eternal. How desirable would it be in them to have their senses for ever locked up, and to Jose the confciousness of their own misery; as one may rationally fuppofe it to fare at length with some, in the punishinent of death inflicted on them on earth, and as it is with some mad people in their miserable cafe! but that agrees not with the notion of torment for ever and ever, nor the worm that dieth not. Nay, they will ever have a lively feel. ing of their misery, and strongest impressions of the wrath of God against them. And that dreadful intimation of the eternity of their punishment, made to them, by the Judge, in teir sentence, will fix such impressions of the eternity of their miserable flate upon their minds, as they will never be able to lay aside,

but will continue with them evermore, to complete their misery. This will fill them with cverlasting despair, a molt tormenting pallion, which will continually rent their hearts, as it were in a thousand pieces. To see floods of wrath ever coining, and never to ceale; to be ever in torment, and witlial to know there shall never, never, be a release, will be the саре. stone put on the misery of the damned, If hope deferred, maketh the heart sick, (Prov.xiii. 12.) how killing will be, hope rooted up, llain outright, and buried for ever out of the creature's light! this will fill - them with hatred and rage against God, their known irreconcileable

enemy; and under it, they will roar for ever like wild bulls in a net, and fill the pit with blafphemies evermore.

Lastly, I might here Thew the reasonableness of the eternity of the punishment of the damned; but having already spoke of it in vindicating the justice of God, in his subjecting men in their natural state to eternal wrath, I only remind you of three things, (1.) The infinite dignity of the party offended by sin, requires an infinite punifoment to be infied for the vindication of his honour: since the demerit of fin riseth according to the dignity and excellency of the person against te hum it is connitted. The party offended is the great Cod, the chief

good: good : the offender, a vile worm ; in respect of perfection infinitely distant from God, to whom he is indebted for all that ever he had, implying any good, or perfection whatsoever. This then requires an infinite punishment to be inflicted on the finner, the which, since it cannot, in him, be infinite in value, muft needs be infinite in duration, that is to say, etérnal. Sin is a kind of wifinite evil, as it wrongs an infinite God; and the gult and defilement thereof is never taken away, but endures for ever, unless the Lord himself in mercy do remove it. God, who is offended, is eternal, his being never comes to an end: the sinful foul is immortal, and the man shall live for ever: the finner being without sirength, (Rom.v.6.) to expiate hisgult, can never put away the offence; therefore it ever remains, unless the Lord do put it away himfelf, as in the elect, by his Son's blood. Wherefore the party offended, the offender, and the offence, ever remaining, the punishment cannot but be eternal. (2.) The finner would have continued the course of his provocations against God, for ever without end, if God had not put a check to it by death. As long as they were capable to act against him, in this world, they did it; and therefore justly he will act against them, while he is; that is, for ever. God who judgeth of the will, intents, and inclinations of the heart, may justly do against finners, in punishing, as they would have done against him, na linning. Lastly, (though I put not the stress of the matter here, yet it is juit and reasonable the damned suffer eternally, since they will fin eternally in hell, gnashing their ieeth (Mitih viii. 12.) under their pain, in

rage, envy, and grudge, (compare Acts vii. 34. Pfal. cxii, 10. Luke xiii. 28.) and blafpheming God there, (Rev. xvi. 21.) whither they are driven away in their wickedness, Prov. xiv. 42. That the wicked be punished for their wickedness, is just: and it is noways inconsistent with justice, that the being of the creature be continued for ever : wherefore, it is just, that the damned, continuing wicked eternally, do suffer eternally for their wickedness. The misery, under which they fin, can' neither free them from the debt of obedience, nor excufe their sinning, and make it blameless. The creature, as a creature, is bound unto obedience to his Creator, and no punilhment, inflieted on him, can free him from it, more than the madefactor's prisons, irons, whipping, and the like, do set him at liberty, to commit anew the criines for which he is imprisoned, or whipt. Neither can the torments of the damned excuse or make blameless their horrible sinning under them, more than exquifite pains, inflicted upon men on earth, can excuse their murmuring, fretting, and blafpheming against God under thein: for it is not the wrath of God, but their own wicked nature, that is the true cause of their sinning under it: and fo the holy Jesus boře the wrath of God, without fo múch as one unbecom. ing thought of God, and far less any one unbecoming word.

USE I. Here is a meafuring reed: 0! that men would apply it. * First, Apply it to your time in this world, and you will find your t me to be very short. A prospech of much time to come, proves the ruin of many souls. Men will be reckoning their time by years, (like that rich man, Luke xii. 19, 20 ) when it may be, there are not many hours of it to run. But reckon as you wilí, laying your time to the measuring reed of eternity, you will see your age is as nothing. What a small and inconfiderable point is fixty, eighty, or a hundred years, in respect of eternity! Cornpared with eternity, there is a greater disproportion, than between a hair's breadth and the cir. cumference of the whole earth. Why do we sleep then in such a thort day, while we are in hazard of losing rest through the long night of eternity? 2dly, Apply it to yonr endeavours for salvation, and they will be found very scanty. Whep men are pressed to diligence in their salvation-work, they are ready to say, “ To what purpose is this waste?” Alas! if it were to be judged by cur diligence, what is it that we have in view; as to the most part of us, no man could thereby conjecture, that we have eternity in view. If we duly considered eternity, we could not but conclude, that, to leave no means appointed of God urellayed, till we get pur salvation secured; to refuse rest or comfort in any thing, till we are heltered under the wings of the Mediator ; to pursue çar great interest with the utmost vigour, to cut off luits dear as right hands and right eyes, to set our faces resolutely againit all difficulties, and fight' our way through all the opposition made by tắe devil, the world, and the fesh; are, all of them together, little enough for eternity.


Use ll. Here is a balance of the fanctuary, by which one may understand the lightness of what is falfly thought weigatý; and the weight of some things, hy dany reckoned to be very light.

First, Some things seem very weighty, which weigbed in this balance, will be found very light. (1.) Weigh the “ world, and all that is in it, the “ lust of the flesh, tbe luft of the eyes, and the pride of life, and the whole will be found light in the balance of eternity. Weigh herein all worldly profits, gains and advantages; and you will quickly see, that a thousand worlds Vill not quit the cost of the eternity of woe. "For what is a man profited, « if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Matth xvi. 26. Weigh the pleasures of sir, which are but for a season, with the fire that is everlasting, and you must account yourselves fools and madmen, to run the hazard of the one for the other. (2.) Weigh your afflictions in this balance, and you will find the heaviest of them very light, in respect of the weight of eternal anguish. Impatience under afiliction, especially when worldly troubles do so imbitter mens spirits, that they cannot relish the glad tidings of the gospel, speaks great regardlessness of eternity. As a small and inconliderable loss will be very little at heart with him, who sees himself in bazard of luling his whole estate; so troubles in the world will appear but light to him, who has a lively view of eternity. Such a one will stoop, and take up

bis cross, whatever it be, thinking it enough to escape eternal wrath. (3.) Weigh the most difficult and uneasy duties of religion here, and you will no more reckon the yoke of Christ unsupportable. Repentance and bitter mourning for sin on earth, are very light in comparison of eternal weeping, wailing, and i gaashing of teeth in hell. To wrestle with God in prayer, weeping and making fupplication for the blefling in time, is far calier than to ly under the curfe through all eternity. Mortification of the most beloved luft is a light thing, in comparison with the second death in hell. LASTLY, Weigh your

1 convictions in this balance. ()! how heavy do these ly upon many, till they get them maken off! They are not dispoled to fall in with them, but strive to get clear of them, as of a mighty burden. But the worm of an ill conscience, will neither die cor fliep in hell, though one may uow lull it alleep for

a time. And certainly it is easier to entertain the sharpest convictions in this life, fo as they may lead one to Christ, than to have them fixed for ever in the conscience, while in bell one is totally and finally separated frem bim.

SECONDLY, But on the other hand, (1.) Weigh sia ia this balance; and, though now it seems but a light thing to you, ye will find it a weight fufficient to turn up an eternal weight of wrath upon you. Even idle words, vain thoughts, and unprofitable actions, weighed in this ballance, and coule sidered as following the finner into eternity, will each of them be heavier than the land of the fea : time idly spent will make a weary eternity. Now is your feed-time; thoughts, words and actions are the seed fown; eternity is the harvest : though the seed now lies under the clod, unregarded by most, men, even the least grain shall spring up at leagth; and the fruit will be according to the seed, Gal. vi. 8. “ For he that loweth to his flesh, shall of the ** H-lh reap corruption, (i. e destruction ;) hut be that soweth to the Spirit, “shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."' (2.) Weigh in this balance your time, and opportunities of grace and salvation, and you will find them very weighty. Precious time and seasons of grace, fabbaths, communions, prayers, sermons, and the like, are by many now a-days made light of: but the day is coming, when one of these will be reckoned more valuable than a thousand worlds, by those who now have the least value for them. When they are gone


ever, and the loss cannot be retrieved; these will see the worth of them, who will not now see it.

Use III, and LAST, Be warned and stirred up to flee from the wrath to come. Mind eternity, and closely ply the work of your salvation. What are you doing, while you are not so doing? Is heaven a fable, or hella mere scarecrow. Must we live eternally, and will we be at no more pains to escape everlasting misery? Will faint wishes take the kingdom of heaven by force? And will luch drowsy endeavours, as most men satisfy themselves with, be accounted flying from the wrath to come ? Ye who have already fled to Christ, up, and be doing: ye have begun the work; go on, loiter not, but " work « out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Philip. ü. 12. “ Fear him " which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell,” Mattb. X. 28. Remember, ye are not yet ascended into heaven : ye are but in your

middle faie: The everlasting arms have drawn you out of the gulf of wrath ye were plunged into, in your natural state; they are still underneath you, that ye can never fall down into it again : nevertheless, ye have not yet got up to the

top of the rock; the deep below you is frightful; look at it, and haiten your aícent. Ye who are yet in your natural state, lift up your eyes, and take a view of the eternal state. Arise, ye profane persons, ye ignorant ones, ye formal hypocrites, strangers to the power of godliness, flee from the wrath

Let not the young adventure to delay a moment longer, nor the old put off this work

any more.
" To-day if ye,

will hear his voice, harden • not your hearts;" left he swear in his wrath, that ye shall never enter into his rest. It is no time to linger in a state of sin, as in Sodom, when fire and brimstone are coming down on it from the Lord. Take warning in time : they who are in hell,

are not troubled with such warnings ; but are inraged ainft themselves for that they slighted the warning, when they had it. Consider, I pray you, (1.) How uneasy it is to ly one whole night on a soft bed, în perfe&t health, when one very fain would have feep, but cannot get it ; deep being departed from him. How often will one in that case wilk for rest! How full of toffings to and fro! But ah! how dreadful must it then be to ly in forrow', wrapt up in scorching Games through long eternity, in


to come.

that place where they have no rest Jay nor night! (2.) How terrible would it be to live under violent pains of the cholic or gravel, for forty or fixty years together, without any intermission! Yet that is but a very small thing in comparison of eternal feparation from God, the worm that never dieih, and the fire that is never queiched. (3.) E:ernity is an awful thought; Ó long, long, endless eteraity! But will not every moinent, in eternity of woe, seem a month, and every hour a year, in that most wretched and desperate condition ? Hence ever and ever, as it were a double eternity. The fick man in the night, toffing to and fro on his bed, says, it wil never be day; complains that his pain ever continues, never, never abates. Are these petty time-eternities, which men form to themselves, in their own inaginations, lo very grievous ? Alas! then how grievous, low utterly unsupportable niuft real eternity of woe, and all manner of iniseries be! LASTLY, There will be space enough there, to reflect on all the ills of one's heart and life, which one cannot get tine to think of now; and to see that all that was said of the impenitent linner's hazard, was true and that thehalf was not told. There will be space enough in etemity to think on delayed repentance, to rue one's fole lies, when it is coo late; and in a state past remedy, to speak forth their fruitless wishes: "O that I had never been born! That the womb had been

my grave, and I had never seen the fun! O that I had taken warning in << time, and fled from his wrath, while the door of mercy was standing open ot to me! that I had never heard the gospel, that I had lived in some.core "ner of the world, where a Saviour and the great salvation were not once r named !". But all in vain. What is done cannot be undone ; the

opportu. nity is lost, and can never be retrieved, time is gone, and cannot be recalled. Wherefore improve time, while you have it, and do not wilfully ruin yourSelves, by fopping your ear to the golpel-call.

Andniow if ye would be saved from the wrath to come, and never go in. to this place of torment, take no rest in your natural state; believe the finfulness and misery of it, and labour to get it out quickly, fleeing unto Jesus Christ by faithi: Sin in you is the feed of hell: and, if the guilt and reigning power of it be not removed in time, they will bring you to the second death in eternity. There is no way to get thein removed, but by receiving of Christ, as he is offered in the gospel, for justification and sanctifications and he is now offered to you with all his salvation, Rev. xxii. 12. 17. “ And behold, I

come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as *** his work mhall be. And the Spirit and the bride ray, Come. 'And let him

that heareth, say, Come. And let him that is a thrift, Come. And who, « Toever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Jesus Christ is the Mediator of peace, and the Fountain of holiness': he it is who “delivereth us " from the wrath to.come. .” .' There is no condernnation to them which are * in Christ Jesus, who walk got after the flesh, but after the Spirit," Ron. viï. . And the terrors of hell, as well as the joys of heaven, are set before you, to stirr you up to a cordial receiving of him with all his falvation ; and to determine you unto the way of faith and holiness, in which alone you can escape the everlasting fire. May the Lord himself make their effećtual to that end.

Thus far of Man's ETERNAL STATE ; the which, because it is eternal, admits no succeeding one for ever.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »