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I Tim. vi. 9. One would think, that, to be drowned, might sig. nify death enough of itself; but, to be drowned in perdition and destruction, signifies moreover the fatalness and the depth of that death, into which they are plunged.
It is called, a being cast, bound hand and foot, into outer dark. ness : Mat. xxii, 13:-ą being thrown into a furnace of fire, to be burnt alive: Mat. xiii. 42, 50.
It is called a lake of fire: Rev. xx. 15. into which wicked men shall be plunged all over; where they shall lie wallowing and rolling among millions of damned spirits, in those infernal flames. And this lake is continually fed with a sulphurous stream of brimstone : Rev. xix. 20. And this fire and brimstone is that, which never shall be quenched: Mat. iii. 12. He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. .. .
And, lastly, to name no more, it is called everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels : Mat. xxv. 41. And now we are arrived at the highest pitch of what sense can feel, or imagina. tion conceive. · Or, if it be possible, that, in your deepest thoughts, you can conceive any thing more dreadful than this, you may call it a sea of molten brimstone, set all on fire, and continually spewing out sooty dark fames: wherein endless: multitudes of sinful wretches must lie tumbling to all eternity ; burned up with the fierceness of a tormenting and devouring fire; scourged with scorpions ; stung with fiery serpents; howling and roaring incessantly, and none to pity, much less to relieve and help them; grinding and gnashing their teeth, through the extremity of their anguish and torture..
If now you can fancy any thing more terrible and dreadful than this, bell is that; yea, and much more: for these things are metaphorical; and, though I cannot deny but some of these may be properly and literally true, yet the literal sense of these metaphors does but faintly and weakly shew us, what is the least part of thoşe everlasting torments.
2. Another Demonstration of the Dreadfulness of this Vengeance is this, that it is a Wrath, that shall come up unto and equal all our Fears...'; dig i
You know what an inventive and iugenious thing fear is : what horrid shapes it can fancy to itself, out of every thing. Put but an active fancy into an affright, and presently the whole world will be filled with strange monsters and hideous apparitions, The very shaking of a leaf will sometimes rout all the forces and
resolutions of men. And, usually, it is this wild passion, that doth enhance all other dangers; and make them seem greater and more dreadful, than indeed they are.
But, now, here, it is impossible for a wicked man to fear more, than he shall certainly suffer. Let his imaginations be hung round with all the dismal shapes, that ever frighted men out of their wits; let his fancy dip its pencil in the deepest melancholy, that ever any soul was besmeared with, and then strive to pour. tray and express the most terrible things, that it can judge to be the objects of fear, or the instruments of torment: yet the wrath of the Great God vastly exceeds all, that fear itself can possibly represent.
See that strange expression, Ps. xc. 11. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath : that is, according to the fear men have of thee, as dreadful and as terrible as they can possibly apprehend thy wrath to be, so it is, and much more. Let the heart of man stretch itself to the utmost bounds of imagination, and call in to its aid all the things that ever it hath heard or seen to be dreadful; let it (as that painter, who, to make a beautiful piece, borrowed several of the best features from several beautiful persons) borrow all the dreadful, all the direful representations, that ever it met with, to make up one most terrible idea: yet the wrath of God shall still exceed it. He can execute more wrath upon us, than we can fear.
Some wicked men, in this life, have had a spark of this wrath of God fall upon their consciences; when they lay róaring out, under despair, and fearful expectations of the fiery-indignation of God to consume and devour them. But, alas ! this is nothing, to what they shall hereafter feel. God now doth but open to them a small chink and crevice into hell: he now doth but suffer à few small drops of his wrath to fall upon them. And, if this be so sore and smart, that their fears could never think of any thing more dreadful than what they now suffer; oh, what will it be then, when he shall overwhelm them with a whole deluge of his wrath, and cause all his waves to go over them? Fear him, says our Saviour, which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell : yea, I say unto you, fear him : Mat. x. 28. Luke xii. 5. And, yet, when we have feared according to the utmost extent of our narrow hearts; still, his infinite power and wrath is infinitely more fearful than we can fear it.
3. Consider the principal and immediate subject of this wrath of God; and, that is, the Soul.' . And this adds much to the dreadfulness of it. The acutest torments, that the body is capable of, are but dull and flat things, in comparison of what the soul can feel. Now when God shall immediately, with his own hand, lash the soul, that refined and spiritual part of man, the principle of all life and sensation ; and shall draw blood from it at every stripe; how intolerable may we conceive those pains and tortures to be! To shoot poisoned darts into a man's marrow, to rip up his bowels with a sword red hot; all this is as nothing to it. Think what it is, to have a drop of scalding oil or melted lead fall upon the apple of your eyes, that should make them boil and burn till they fall out of your heads : such torment, nay infinitely more than such, is it, to have the burning wrath of God fall upon the soul. We find that spirits, which are infinitely inferior unto God, can make strange impressions upon the souls of men: and shall not the Great God, much more, who is the Father of Spirits ? yes: he can torture them by his essential wrath. And that God, who, as the prophet Nahum speaks, (ch. i. 5, 6.) can melt mountains, and make hills and rocks flow down at his presence, can melt the souls of the damned, like lumps of wax: for, in his displeasure, he doth sometimes do it to the best of men, even in this life: Ps: xxii. 14. My heart is melted like wat in the midst of my bowels.
4. The Dreadfulness of this Wrath of God may be demon-, strated by this, that the punishment of the damned is reserved by God as his Last Work.
It is a work, which he will set himself about, when all the rest of his works are done. · When he hath folded up the world, and laid it aside as a thing of no further use; then will God set himself to this great work, and pour out all the treasures of his wrath upon damned wretches: as if God would so wholly mind this business, that he would lay all other affairs aside, that he might be intent only upon this, having no other thing to interrupt him. Think, then, how full of dread and terror this must needs be, when God will, as it were, employ all his eternity about this; and have no other thing to take him off, from doing it with all his might.
God hath reserved two works, and but two, for the other world: one, is the Salvation of the Elect; and, the other is, the Damnation of Reprobates.
Now, it is remarkable, that God's last works do always exceed his former. And, therefore, we find in the Creation of the World, God still proceeded on, from more imperfect kinds of creatures, to those, that were more perfect; until he had fully built and finished, yea carved and as it were painted this great house of the universe: and, then, he brings man into it, as his last work; as the crown and perfection of the rest. So God likewise acted, in the manner of Revealing his Will unto mankind: first, he spake to them by dreams and visions; but, in the lust days, as the Apostle expresseth it, he hath spoken unto us by his Son. So, also, in the Dispensation of the Covenant of Grace and Exhibition of the Messiah: first, he was made known only by promise to the fathers; then, in types and obscure resemblances to the Jews : but, in the latter days, himself came and took upon him the form of a servant, and wrought out a complete redemption for us. So, usually, the last works of God are more complete, perfect and excellent than the former.
Now God's punishing-work is his last work; and, therefore, it shall exceed in greatness all that ever went before it. In his first work, the creation of the world, he demonstrated his infinite power, wisdom, and godhead; but, in the destruction of sinners, which is his last work, he wiil manifest more of power and wisdom, than he did in his creating them: and how fearful a de. struction then must this needs be!
God, hath variety of works, that he is carrying on in this world; and, if his glory doth not perfectly appear in one, he may manifest it in another. But, when he shall confine himself only to two, as he will in the world to come, the saving of the godly and the damning of the wicked, and this without any variety or change; certainly, then these shall be performed to the very utmost of what God can do;, for, as he will save the saints to the very utmost; so, likewise, will he damn and destroy sinners to the very utmost.
5. Another Demonstration of the Dreadfulness of this Wrath shall be drawn from this consideration, that God will for ever inflict it for the Glorifying of his Power on the damned..
Rom. ix. 22. IVhat if God, willing to shew: his wrath, and to make his power known: and, 2 Thess. 1.9. They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
Now, certainly, if God will inflict eternal punishments upon
them to shew forth his power, their punishments must needs be infinitely great. For,
(1) All those works, wherein God shews forth his power, are great and stupendous.
Consider what power it was, for God to lay the beams of the world, and to erect so stately a fabric as heaven and earth. The Apostle therefore tells us, that by the creation of the world, is understood the eternal power of God: Rom. i. 20. When God shewed his power in creating, oh what a great and stupendous work did he produce! and, therefore, certainly, when God shall likewise shew his power in destroying, the punishments he will inflict will be wonderful and stupendous.
(2) Consider, God can easily destroy a creature without shewing any great power; or putting forth his almighty arm and strength to do it.
If he only withdraw his power, by which he upholds all things in their beings, we should quickly fall all abroad into nothing: so easy is it for God to destroy the well-being of all his creatures. But, if God will express the greatness and infiniteness of his power in destroying sinners, whom yet he can destroy without putting forth his power, yea only by withdrawing and withholding it; oh how fearful must this destruction needs be! Alas, we are crushed before the moth; and must needs perish, if God do but suspend the influence of his power from us : how dreadfully then will he destroy, when he shall lay forth his infinite power to do it, who can easily do it without power!
And thus I have laid down some Demonstrations of the Dreadfulness of the Wrath and Vengeance of God; five of them drawn from the Words of the Text, and five drawn from Other Considerations.
III. I shall now shut up, with two or three words of APPLICATION.
i. BE PERSUADED' TO BELIEVE, THAT THERE IS SUCH A DREADFUL WRATH TO COME.
I know well, you all profess that you believe, that, as there are inconceivable rewards of glory reserved in heaven for the saints, so there are inexhaustible treasures of wrath reserved and laid up in hell for all ungodly and impenitent sinners: but, VOL. II.